Toy Guns

‘Look, we just need the smegging silica, not the smegging shoes,’ said Jay as he tried to wrestle a shoe box from the shop attendant.

‘Ne, ne, vi devas aĉeti la ŝuojn,’ insisted the shoe salesman.

‘This is a Captain’s order,’ Jay shouted, an edge of authority to his words. ‘You hand these silica packets over right this minute.’

‘Mi ne aŭdis kapitan ordonon,’ the shoe salesman said, wrenching the box back from Jay and returning it its rightful place on the shelf. ‘Vi aĉetas la ŝuojn, vi ricevas la silica ĝelo. Simpla.’

Jay growled lowly as he turned away to the shop door that overlooked the Promenade. Cass was standing guard there, watching for any sign that the funglings might start to swarm the area. So far, they had kept their distance from the promenade, perhaps because the number of bars and pubs that lined its streets. Or more likely, though Cass, that it was because the promenade was as about as essential to the ship functions as the toilets. So, fairly essential in the long-term but in the short-term-only-eating-people frame of mind the fungus was in, perhaps not. Perhaps there was some kind of intelligence in there.

‘Why are these people not in the quarantine centres yet?’ Jay asked aloud.
‘There isn’t enough room,’ explained Cass in a short and as-matter-of-fact manner. ‘Crew and officers first, and I’m sure some of Artemis’ buddies over in Innovative Sciences muscled their way in too. The rest are a lucky-dip.’

‘Well, I hope the other groups have had more luck in getting silica than we have,’ Jay muttered.


Thomas sat with Jamie outside Mrs Pertwides’ Incredibly Fine Army Surplus Shoewear Shop. It was quiet. Those that had been evacuated from the fungus plague had been, and those that were left were either at home with their families or trying to treat the day as something normal.

‘They don’t half suit you,’ said Thomas, who rested his head on his arm.

Thomas stared at the bottle of Nova-Shine on the table in front of him, dropping little silica pellets into it to pass the time. He was only riding on a low buzz now, rather than flat out blitzed. Thomas would have said it was due to his iron liver, but everyone else would have said it was because Artemis had gotten fed up of the drunk chat and shot a de-toxifier into his neck.

‘Thanks,’ said Jamie with a smile, glancing at the shiny new boots that had been given to him by Mrs Pertwides. ‘She was a remarkably nice lady.’

‘Aye, I was surprised,’ Thomas said, also with a smile as the shine of his new boots caught his eye. ‘All we did was dissolve three rampant and hungry semi-sentient fungus mutations with super powerful alcohol.’

‘Still not sure it’s very imaginative,’ Jamie said with a shake of his head.

‘Dangerous to knock what works,’ said Thomas as he leaned back in his chair. ‘Often finds it doesn’t work when you need it to.’ He glanced out over the street to the other shops and stalls, mostly deserted but still a few loyal customers. ‘How have you been anyway? Keeping busy?’ Thomas asked, changing the subject.

‘Oh, you know,’ said Jamie with a shrug, ‘Busy engineering. Lot of work to do to keep this bin floating, you know.’

‘I can imagine.’

‘And the gardens? Lot of work to do there as well, I presume?’

‘Ah, you know, bits and pieces. We actually just got the Arrow Tree seeded properly, time flies all around it now.’

‘I think I saw it on my last visit, actually. Such a beautiful thing to see. Quite a nice climb too.’

‘That is enough idle chit chat now,’ said a proud voice rising over the little dip in the platform before the shoe shop, ‘I have returned with the devices.’

Carrying half a dozen or so brightly coloured blasters, Artemis crested the dip, followed along by his son.

‘Devices?’ asked Jamie, unconvinced.

‘Why do they feel like plastic?’ asked Thomas as he took one.

‘And so light?’ asked Jamie, as he also took one.

‘They are highly advanced devices designed for the distribution of small spherical-like pellets.’

‘This is a BB gun,’ said Jamie.

‘No, it is not!’

Thomas pointed the ‘device’ at Artemis’s chest plate and pulled the trigger and it shot out a tiny white plastic pellet. It gave a little ‘ding’ off the metal armour before dropping to the floor.

‘He’s right,’ said Thomas, ‘It’s not a BB gun. It’s an airsoft gun.’

‘That was a high inadvisable move, Mr. Plisken. You could have damaged any number of incredibly sensitive machinery. And it is not an airsoft gun.’

‘An airsoft gun is even less impressive than a BB gun,’ said Jamie. Jamie bent down so that he was eye level with Artie Jr. ‘Did you dad take these from your toybox?’

‘It is not a toy!’ said Artemis again.

‘Hey guys!’ called Tanaka’s voice as he too came up the ramp, followed by O’Malley and Pickman, ‘We got a whole bunch of Silica Packets!’ All three of them were also wearing brand new shoes, even Tanaka, who must have gone to the extra length of asking Holly to update his hologram.

‘Us too!’ called Thomas.

‘And Artie got us toy guns!’ called Jamie.

‘No, I didn’t!’ Artemis insisted, his eye screens now seeming to steadily fill with steam as he got angrier and angrier.

‘Hey, I like your shoes,’ said O’Malley to Thomas and Jamie. ‘Don’t worry, Artemis, we didn’t want you to feel left out so we got you a present. Size 9 too, right?’

‘Oh wait,’ said Pickman, feigning concern, ‘You don’t have any feet.’

Both O’Malley and Pickman began to snigger.

‘Nonsense,’ said Artemis, ‘Of course I have feet.’ There was a click and a whir from inside Artemis and two dangly thin metal legs extended down, complete with size 9 feet on the ends. And still Artemis hovered above the ground. Without even looking at the contents, he kicked open the shoebox O’Malley held and slipped the shoes on. ‘A perfect fit. Nice and tight.’

Everyone stared at Artemis.

And then everyone fell about laughing.

‘Have you never seen a robot wear shoes before?’ asked Artemis.

‘Shoes yes,’ said Tanaka, fighting through the tears of laughter and splitting sides, ‘But Crocs, no.’

‘Oh, for Newton’s sake,’ cursed Artemis.

‘What’s going on here, guys?’ asked Jay with a smile, as he and Cass joined them, they too wearing band new shoes.

‘Damn it!’ cursed Artemis again as he tried to retract back his legs, ‘The weight of these plastic monstrosities is too heavy for these simple motors.’ This only prompted another fit of laughter from everyone.

Once everyone had calmed down, they assessed the situation. About 200 packets of silica from Tanaka, O’Malley, and Pickman, about 180 from Thomas and Jamie, 2 from Jay and Cass (they had to give into buying the shoes) and 8 plastic airsoft guns from Artemis and Artemis Jr. that could fire the small silica pellets.

Locked and loaded, and with everyone in brand new shoes, the Dwarfers strode out to face the screaming fungal horde.

<<OOC - Sorry to make Artemis the butt of so many jokes there!!>>

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