Chapter 3: Any Other World

Simmons, Grif and Donut all stood over the reptile's collapsed form, glancing between one another awkwardly as Donut slowly holstered his pistol. "Um, guys...were you just joking about the tea?"

"Shit, shit...shit! Donut, what did you do?!" Simmons lamented, pulling a hand over his features before glaring at Grif. "This is your fault, Grif!"

"Whoa, whoa, I just made a logical assumption, and it looks like it paid off, because now there's one less gigantic dragon-thing trying to kill us," Grif reasoned, raising his palms in a slow shrug. "I'd say you own me a meal, Simmons."

Simmons frowned immensely at his companion. "That's the last thing you need. Look, let's...move him to the brig, before he wakes up and...I dunno, kills us." He paused before his eyes widened. "Oh shit, and what are we gonna tell that horse guy outside??"

A gruff voice echoed down the hall as if in response, punctuated with staggering hoof-steps that filled the air with an ominous sense of inevitability. "Tell me what?"

The three soldiers stared as Graceful Melody stumbled up to them, leaning heavily on the wall as a mostly-smoked cigarette hung out of his muzzle. His features were pale and his fingers were visibly trembling as he breathed shallowly. Simmons cleared his throat awkwardly, making a lame attempt to step in front of the demon’s enormous body while doing a poor imitation of casually resting against the wall. "Um. You look uh...pretty sick still, you better go back outside for some fresh air," he announced helpfully, his voice several decibels too loud as behind him, Grif slapped a palm over his features.

Graceful narrowed his eyes dangerously, spitting the cigarette onto the floor and gritting his teeth as he studied Amdusias's prone form behind the useless distraction of Simmons's wiry frame. Simmons's eyes widened as Graceful yanked his massive handgun out a second time, waving it by his head while taking a shaky step forward. "Who. The fuck. Killed my demon?" But before he could threaten any of the soldiers with the twitching pistol, the unsteady pony slumped against the opposite wall with a groan before melting into a pile next to the unconscious reptile.

Simmons wheezed and clutched at his damaged chest plate, nearly tripping over the creature behind him but his face reflecting only a sense of relief for the moment. He let himself flop against the wall with a gasp before throwing a glare at the other two. "Can we please stop behaving like children before I get shot again?"

"You know, Simmons, Sarge might stop letting you wash his balls if you keep crying like that," Grif retorted as he began to unbuckle and remove his armor. "He doesn't much care for sissies."

"I guess that explains why he hates you and Donut," Simmons grumbled in return, earning a dramatic gasp from Donut.

"Sarge doesn't...hate me, does he?" Donut looked genuinely upset at this notion, grabbing his tail and kneading it instinctively. "Wait...have I ever met Sarge?"

Simmons gave him a dry look before rolling his eyes. ", but...I have a feeling he WILL hate you. Wait, that's what you're upset about? Not the whole...sissy thing?"

Donut blinked in confusion and tilted his head slightly. "Wait, what's wrong with--"

"Guys?" Grif interrupted mildly. "Guys. I have an idea. How about everyone shuts up? The scary aliens are down. Big baby Simmons can stop his bitching."

Simmons sighed. "Grif...shut up. We should move them to the brig for when they wake up. Help me with the big...dragon-thing." He glanced at Graceful Melody with a slight frown – at best, the tiny stranger couldn't weigh any more than a scrawny teenager. "Donut, do you think you can handle the horse-thing?"

"Oh, for sure, I'd love to handle the horse-thing!" Donut replied cheerfully as he bent down with his hands on his knees to peer at the crumpled stranger, his hindquarters swinging a bit. "Just look at that adorable face! Are you sure we gotta put him in the cells? It'd be so nice to have a guest for tea finally!"

Simmons and Grif were both shoving each other toward the torso of the large reptile, neither one wanting to deal with the long bone spikes that stuck out through the back of its tattered suit. But Simmons couldn't resist a glare toward Donut with those words, giving up a moment of concentration and subsequently being pushed by Grif to the demon's upper half as Grif quickly grabbed one of its muscular legs defiantly. "Goddammit, Grif, and goddammit to you, too, Donut! Again, he SHOT me! We're locking them both up 'til Sarge gets here!"

"You're right, Simmons. Our calm and rational leader will definitely provide the logical response you're hoping for," Grif deadpanned, continuing to hold only one of the lizard's legs up while resting lazily against the wall. "Surely Sarge wouldn’t do or say anything to get us killed. Surely Sarge is going to be our beacon of reason in these trying times..."

Simmons paused with a frown. "Well...that's beside the point. He's still our commanding officer," he grumbled, bending down to awkwardly slip his hands beneath the enormous creature's arms, wincing and attempting to avoid the myriad spikes poking out through its well-worn suit jacket. He visibly strained to lift the reptile's torso off the ground, gasping in effort. "Grif...would you...goddamn...HELP?"

Grif sighed dramatically, dropping down to a kneel and scooping up the other leg, gripping the creature's ankles against his sides as he struggled to stand afterward. "Lead the way, Captain Nerd."

Simmons scowled darkly before shouting in surprise as Donut suddenly danced past them nimbly, the unconscious equine hefted onto his back. Where the lithe chupadore had the energy to carry the pony so easily - tiny in stature or otherwise - was a question that would likely remain unanswered. Grif seemed resigned to simply shrugging as Simmons mumbled incoherently before awkwardly side-stepping and maneuvering his way down the hall after Donut. "Watch his tail, it's long as hell."

Grif grunted and hefted the reptile's legs a bit higher, barely listening to Simmons as always and almost immediately tripping over the lengthy appendage at his paws. "Grif! I said watch his tail!"

"And I said you're stupid, but I don't hear you listening," Grif retorted, childishly kicking the forked tail to the side as the two soldiers awkwardly made their way to the brig with the massive creature held up between them.

"You never said that!" Simmons snapped back, nearly tumbling down upon reaching the first step on the staircase leading to the lower level.

"See, Simmons, you just proved my point, you never listen," Grif replied with a morose shake of his head. "It really hurts me inside, the same way you must feel when when you realize nothing you do will ever get you beyond the second-lowest-rank of the Red Army stuck at the shittiest base on Sirca."

"Fuck off, Grif," Simmons growled, glancing over his shoulder as they carefully made their way down the stairs and toward the brig. Grif smirked but otherwise remained silent, following Simmons to where Donut was already positioned outside of the holding cell that now contained the unconscious Graceful Melody.

Simmons carefully slipped into the next open cell, already looking exhausted from hefting the weight of the reptile's torso. He did his best to ease the monstrous creature's body onto the hard cot but was unable to avoid getting jabbed with a few of the spikes. He cursed and quickly stepped back, only to wince as several of the sharp points of bone tore through the mattress when its center of gravity suddenly dropped. At the other end, Grif unceremoniously dropped the creature's legs and they flopped with loud smacks against the back of the cot. "Goddammit, Grif..."

Grif shrugged and wiped his hands together. "What? Not like he even remotely fits onto the bed, and it ain't like he's gonna feel anything, anyway." He ambled back out of the holding cell as Simmons grumbled incoherently and took a moment to awkwardly try and reposition the gigantic creature's legs and tail. He prodded and shifted the appendages a few times, frowning immensely as from outside, Donut called in cheerfully:

"Oooh! Are we posing them?!? I have a great position to try with the pony-guy!"

"Fuck's sake, Donut..." Simmons sighed loudly, eventually giving up on trying to adjust the demon's limbs into a more comfortable position as he stepped back slowly. "Fuck all of this." He eyed Amdusias's unconscious form warily, his body still somewhat tense as if expecting the alien creature to pop back to life and slaughter them all. A frown remained on his features when he finally slipped through the small doorway next to the metal bars. As he slapped the button on the wall to activate the light-blue force field that protected the narrow entrance, Simmons rubbed the back of his head and gave his companions a concerned look. "You guys understand what...all this means?"

Grif rolled his eyes, leaning against the wall again and crossing his arms. "Let me guess. It means you're gonna waste another ten minutes of my life with one of your nerd-gasms?"

"Ooh, Simmons, tell me more about these nerd-gasms!" Donut exclaimed brightly, tail swinging cheerfully.

"Oh my god, it is impossible to have a normal conversation with you two," Simmons groused, rubbing at his muzzle slowly. He shook his head a bit, then glanced into both cells with an expression that barely masked his concern. "Look...while I might...normally come across as a little bit excited to learn aliens are real--"

"Just a little bit?" Grif interjected in a dry monotone. "Barely a twitch from it, eh?"

"Fuck off, Grif." Simmons shot the smirking chupadore a scowl before self-consciously poking at his impacted chest armor. "The point is that...I mean...what's the point of...of all this?"

Donut looked confused, tapping at his chin thoughtfully. "Um...well, you said we should lock up these two so they don't try to kill us? But I can let them back out if you want! There's still time to get tea ready for five!"

"God...dammit, Donut. No. Not...this," Simmons grumbled, gesturing around him as Grif snickered in the background. "I mean this whole stupid war. If there's actually life out there, if there are worlds outside of Sirca, and if they're capable of reaching us, then...don't you guys think all this bullshit back-and-forth with the Blues is a little...silly?"

"So silly that you'll hang if you don't join the fight," Grif responded mildly. "Or at least be forced to listen to Sarge bitch while you're trying to watch TV, which is almost as bad. I'm pretty sure no one gives a crap about some weird spiky guy and his little scary pony showing up in a piece-of-shit canyon, in the middle of a piece-of-shit territory."

"Shouldn't they, though?" Simmons looked genuinely upset, staring between his compatriots. "Don' guys think this is pretty fucking crazy? I get it, the Holy War, it's a part of life, but...come on, you don't see how...stupid it all seems now??"

Grif regarded Simmons blankly for several seconds before shrugging lazily and shambling out of the brig. "Pretty sure anything you're involved in is pretty stupid," he drawled over a shoulder. "I'm gonna go find a new place to nap before Sarge gets here. You guys have fun with your nerd party."

As Grif slouched away, Simmons sighed and rubbed the back of his head before shifting his eyes to Donut. He was squinting at Simmons with his muzzle pursed, one hand on a hip as the other poked in his companion's direction. "Simmons, were you saying all that stuff about how the war is stupid because you're trying to get out of chores? Because you can just tell me! I love doing chores! I got that outfit delivered and everything!"

"I still don't know where the hell you were able to order that from," Simmons mumbled, making a face. "They must have some fucked up shops on the network."

"Everyone knows you can't clean without a proper maid's uniform!" Donut proclaimed. "How am I supposed to go around polishing the doorknobs, naked?"

Simmons looked more strained than normal as he slowly clenched and then relaxed a fist, his features visibly creased with annoyance. "Please, for the love of Omega, don't do that. You don't even have to polish the doorknobs, Donut, who even does that?"

The eccentric chupadore sniffed disdainfully and trotted past Simmons with a flick of his tail. "Well, I've found that a good life is full of polished knobs. Maybe that's why you're so grumpy, Simmons! You should polish more knobs!"

Simmons scowled as Donut skipped cheerfully toward the stairwell to head back upstairs. "You have to be aware when you say shit like that," he muttered before turning back to study the two unconscious aliens. I can't be the only one who thinks this is a big deal...this is all just so fucking stupid if…if there’s something beyond this ring out there…this changes everything…

"So yeah, that's about it, I guess. We have the one extra room that I guess you guys can use but...y'know, hopefully you won't be here that long," Tucker grumbled, arms crossed moodily as he turned to face the two wolves. He'd been tasked with giving them a brief tour of the base, while Church was accompanying Riffraff to the roof to let him use the rifle scope and possibly spot some sign of the horse's two companions in the vicinity.

Lone nodded once, poking his head into the brig to note the empty cells. "Thanks, uh...Tucker, right? Yeah, we appreciate it. I'm hoping we don't have to be here long, no. I guess it's just kinda hard to tell. We expected at most to cross over into the alternate version of our world...didn't really expect to end up gods know how many light-years away."

Tucker made a face but grunted out an incoherent "you're welcome". He had mostly been keeping a wary eye on Mahihko – no longer because of the handgun that he'd managed to re-assemble while they wandered around the base, but rather due to the fact that the aggressively-flirtatious lupine had been giving him suggestive winks and grins constantly. "Yeah. Whatever, man, just don't touch my fucking snacks. And don't go into my room. It's for me and the ladies, that's it."

"All the ladies, huh? So where IS this legendary, ever-flowing fountain of vagina you keep alluding to?" Mahihko inquired innocently, tucking his pistol back into his half-concealed holster. "I mean, you've mentioned all the action you get like...nine times. But uh. I ain't seen a single female 'round here yet." His heavy drawl made the inquiry somehow even more awkward.

"That's because this is the army, asshole," the soldier spat back. "It's not my fault I had to come out here and leave a whole village full of mourning ladies behind." He crossed his arms confidently as his tail flicked behind him. "I bet they had to start a support group just to manage life without me around."

"No one left to flip their burgers, eh? Yeah, that would be pretty rough." Mahihko gave a sympathetic nod, barely hiding his grin as Tucker glowered and bared his teeth in frustration. "Whoa, whoa, chill out, there. I ain't gonna judge. I have terrible luck with the ladies, too, after all."

"I'm pretty sure the last time you saw a pair of tits was when you were breastfeeding," Lone interjected drolly. "You run screaming from women."

"Excuse me, I was allergic to breast milk, thank you very much." The effeminate wolf seemed absurdly proud of this fact as he flashed a bright smile. "Momma had to put me on soy milk. I was a fag the day I popped outta that hell-hole."

"Ugh, fuckin' hell," Tucker mumbled, looking extremely uncomfortable. "So...uh...I mean, you two are actually..."

"Why the hell do I get lumped in with him?" Lone exclaimed, his hands on his hips to give him a far more effete appearance than he likely intended.

"Because every knows you're not just a tomb raider, you're a tomb raider who loves dick," Mahihko replied mildly before tipping a wink toward a somewhat-pale Tucker. "So yeah! We're both actually flaming homosexuals. Lemme guess, we landed in Redneck Gulch, where 'we don't like them faggots' and 'God says them sodomites should burn.' Not that I'd mind, I love fuckin' with close-minded assholes. I mean, really, I just love fuckin' with all assholes, but that's neither here nor there..."

Tucker frowned slightly before scratching awkwardly at the back of his neck. "Well...uh. Let's start with this: Does Omega not, um...rule over, or whatever? What's the name of the House that runs everything?"

Lone tilted his head a bit. "House?"

Tucker gave the wolf a blank look. "Yeah. The House of Omega. It's the religious organization that runs things."

Lone and Mahihko glanced at each other with mixed expressions, though Mahihko looked more amused than anything. "I mean. There are SOME people who think that the Catholics are secretly ruling the world, but um. Yeah, we. We don't have that. No single church...hell, no single anything rules our world. Every country has different rulers, different rules and customs...but for the most part, religion isn't exactly the all-powerful force it was a century or two ago." Mahihko smiled a bit and gestured between himself and Lone. "We come from a world that…well, yes, does kinda suck thanks to some pretty fucked issues that we caused ourselves. There’s a lot that blows, just like any other world, I’m sure…but and technology are leading the way forward. Things aren't as repressed as they used to be."

Lone looked curious as he noticed the surprised expression on the chupadore's features. "So...wait. How...bad are things here?"

"Bad? I mean. There's a Holy War that's been going on for the last few decades, and if you don't fight when you're conscripted, you kinda get killed, and also, how the FUCK do you function without the House of Omega?" Tucker looked genuinely confused and horrified and somewhat concerned all at once. "Who makes all the rules? Who decides who wins and who loses?"

Lone gave a faint smile. "Fuck me. Things are different here. It'd take too long to try and explain everything, ain't like it is here, I guess."

"Yeah, I guess," Tucker responded slowly, lacing his fingers behind his head with a long, slow exhale. "Fuckberries. This shit is painful to try and understand." He shook his head a bit, then glanced between the two wolves. "Look, I don't give a fuck if your ass gets shot off as long as I don't get my ass shot off, but... I'll give you this much advice: it ain't a good idea to be gay, and it ain't a good idea to talk shit about Omega. So uh...try to avoid those two things and I guess you'll be fine."

"Oh goodie, I guess I might as well slit my wrists now, because I am NOT spending this entire trip without experiencing any alien junk in my trunk," Mahihko blurted as Tucker took a preemptive step backward. "Fuck THAT. Okay, so far, other than trying to shoot us in the face, the people on this ring-world-place are fine, but man. Fuck this Omega guy. And fuck this Holy War. We got religious nutjobs back where we come from, too and you know what? They suck there, too."

Tucker visibly winced as the lupine disparaged their all-powerful deity, but he also looked almost...relieved. "Um. Look, I don't wanna get my ass sent to the gallows, but...uh. Yeah, I guess I can't argue. The real devout fuckers are annoying as hell...but I guess one good thing about this shitty outpost is that no one out here is real into that...religious...stuff." He let his arms drop back to his sides, his body relaxing a bit once again. "One of the very few benefits of getting shipped out here." Tucker grimaced. "Very few."

"No ladies coming out to this lonely canyon, I'm guessing?" Mahihko teased, though his tone was surprisingly gentler than before.

Lone glanced at his companion bemusedly; he wasn’t expecting Mahihko to ease up on the verbal abuse of the chupadore that he'd no doubt already singled out to try and get between the sheets. But he could tell by the half-hidden expression in his companion's features that the reality of life on this ring-world was upsetting to him. Lone wasn't a fan of what he'd heard so far, made him a bit more uncomfortable about this strange planet upon which they'd somehow found themselves.

"No, there are not," Tucker scowled, pursing his muzzle and grumpily stomping back toward the stairs as the wolves followed. "This place is a barren wasteland devoid of any and all pussy. And the only one that we've seen lately is at the bottom of a goddamn cliff due to a close encounter with a fucking frag grenade."

"You found a real lady and your first instinct was to grenade her?" Mahihko asked with a coy grin. "Boy, you sure you're not playin' for my team?"

"Extremely sure!" Tucker snapped over his shoulder before scowling as he half-jogged the rest of the way up the stairs. "She was...fuckin' scary. And had a really big shotgun." He paused and turned to see Mahihko appraising him visually, making a horrified face and waving his arms in frustration. "Quit starin' at my ass!"

Lone shook his head in mild amusement as Tucker led them toward the exit of the base, doing his best to memorize the layout as they passed through. "Please don't mind him. Freaking out about it will only make it worse, anyway."

Tucker grumbled before holding up a finger and glancing back at them. "Seriously though. There are others that came with you? Are any of them at least chicks?"

"Sorry, buddy! Two more sausages to add to the party, I'm pleased to announce!" Mahihko flashed a winsome smile at Tucker's dejected expression, offering him a thumbs-up that did not help to ease the chupadore's moodiness.

"Yeah, and they're a lot scarier than us, I might add," Lone mumbled, rubbing at his shoulder a bit. "Sometimes I forget which one of those two was the actual demon."

"Oh, we barely had a chance to get to know them, I'm sure they aren't so bad," Mahihko reasoned. He cut himself off, however, as they stepped out of the base through the concrete doorway and back into the dry air of the box canyon. He took a moment to meander away from the base, letting his bare paws push into the cracked clay-like ground below while his eyes surveyed the environment around them. There was a thick grouping of trees and brush not too far from the base, and it looked like the verdant foliage nearly encircled this end of the barren valley. He could see the other squat military structure just past a thin cluster of greenery in the middle of the canyon, and otherwise there wasn't much to take in. "So...what, only one way into this place?" he asked as his eyes settled on a break in the canyon walls that he could barely make out through the same patch of dense vegetation.

"Two, actually," Church corrected from above. The three glanced up to the roof where the soldier stood next to Riffraff. The equine had the over-sized sniper rifle pressed into his shoulder, holding it entirely wrong but obviously only interested in peering through the scope as the chupadore at his side gestured idly toward the back of the canyon. "There's another way out through the trees back there, leads toward the woods."

"There's also a dead purple bitch that way," Tucker added bitterly. "You assholes are free to get the fuck outta here through either option."

Lone rolled his eyes but made a mental note regardless as he nodded silently. "Thanks. Uh...yeah, guess I'm not sure what we're gonna do yet. We don't know how to re-open the portal and...I'm not sure if we even want to right now. As it is, we're probably lucky nothing...else...came through with us..."

Tucker frowned immensely. "The fuck does that mean? You fuckers tryin' to get us all killed with some interdimensional monster bullshit or somethin'?"

"I wish! That would be exciting as hell!" Mahihko responded, only to shrug amiably. "But no. Just a shitload of guys with guns who were not really happy that we got to the artifacts before they did."

"Great," muttered Tucker as he crossed his arms. He glanced up toward Riffraff with a smirk. "Hey, douchebag – you're holding that wrong. I bet you hear that all the time, though."

The equine huffed but continued to peer through the scope for several seconds. "You would get along really well with Graceful," he mumbled. "You're both crude bastards."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Tucker grunted.

"Shut up, Tucker." Church glared down at him before eyeing the horse and his awkward handling of the sniper rifle. "So uh...any sign Them?"

"Nothing," Riffraff murmured, slowly lowering the massive firearm with a sigh. He shook his head and then handed the weapon back to Church. "Not a sign of them at all." He shifted his eyes down to the two wolves, concern etched into his features. "Do you...think..."

"I'm sure they're fine," Lone interjected smoothly, waving off the horse's fretting. "Hell, if anything, we should have been the ones to worry about demolecularization, after all."

"You just made up that word," Mahihko remarked, though he appeared more impressed than accusatory as he half-grinned up to his companion.

Lone cleared his throat but did not protest, only offering a slight shrug. "Point stands, all the same. We were the idiots who decided to try and just. Leap into a magical portal. Y'know, without an actual demon to guide us. So hey, don't worry about it, Riffraff. I'm sure we'll find them soon. Or they'll find us."

"Unless they got demolecularized," Mahihko chimed in with a wink.

Riffraff seemed genuinely horrified for a moment as the chupa at his side took an awkward step back, perhaps fearing a violent outburst from the muscular horse. " don't...I mean, they wouldn't..."

"I'm pretty sure they're fine," Lone interrupted again, waving both hands as Mahihko tittered at his side. "Let's uh...let's just see if we can...I dunno." He paused and looked at Tucker, then up to the other soldier on the roof. "You guys got like. A...vehicle or something lying around that we could uh...borrow?"

"You fuckin' kidding me?" Tucker scoffed, flashing a disgusted look up to Lone. "You assholes pop into our world, try to start some shit, and NOW you want us to give you a ride, too? Nah, fuck that."

"Tucker, calm your shit," Church rumbled from the roof, rolling one of his shoulders slowly and grimacing. "Although I guess he has a point. I mean...we don't really know you, and you haven't really done much to like...earn our trust."

Tucker rolled his eyes, muttering before anyone else could speak: "'Earn our trust'? You ever get told you sound like a real pussy? 'Cause you sound like a real pussy."

"Eat me, asshole." Church raised his middle digit toward his companion; the gesture earned an interested grin from Mahihko. "Point is, we don't have a vehicle, no."

"You weirdos should probably just go over to the other base, they're always looking for more dicks to play with," Tucker offered mildly.

"Oooh! It would appear we have our destination!" Mahihko trilled before giving a muffled giggle as Lone sighed and held the other lupine's muzzle shut.

Before Lone could formulate some form of "thanks, anyway", Caboose suddenly appeared with a telltale tinkle from the bell around his neck. "Hey, Church! Why don't we just have them stay here and protect the base from monsters while we take our field trip?!"

Church's eyes widened slightly as he groaned. "Goddammit, Caboose! You can't just go telling that to everyone!"

"Why not? Someone has to water the snack bushes!"

"Yeah, Church, why not?" Tucker paused, but decided to just ignore the second half of Caboose's rambling. "Who the fuck cares if we leave?"

"You're the one who pointed out that we're going AWOL the other night," Church grumbled. "Did you forget what the punishment was for going AWOL?"

"I thought we were going away." Caboose frowned deeply as he scrunched up his muzzle. "We don't need to leave to go to a wall. There's one right here!" He slapped a hand against the side of the base, oblivious of the morbid glare Church had affixed on his features.

"Well, whatever. It's been how many months now since you smoked Flowers, and all they sent us so far is a literal special recruit." Tucker shrugged idly. "I somehow doubt we're gonna have Blue Command up our asses any time soon."

Riffraff shifted from hoof to hoof, catching the attention of the two wolves on the ground below. "Hey, uh...could we maybe still go check out that other base? I'm starting to really get worried about the other two..."

"I'm pretty sure between the tiny terror and...the...huge demon, those two are handling themselves fine," Lone reasoned with a shrug. "But I guess at this point it would make sense to try and get us all in one place. Maybe Amadeus can help us figure out where the fuck we are."

"Amdusias," Riffraff corrected lamely.

"Sounds a lot cooler than Riffraff," Tucker remarked before glancing up at Church. "Come on, dude. They ain't our problem. They wanna go get shot at, that's their right as...weird, fuckin'...alien-things."

"Yeah, I guess..." The tallest soldier sighed. "Look, whatever you decide to do, I think...we're leaving soon. Like. Very soon. We' a lot of road to cover."

"Don't lie, you don't even know where the hell we're going," Tucker retorted before he gestured to Caboose. "And you better get his ass to bed on time if you want to leave early. I already gotta deal with your bitching, I don't need his, too."

"I am not a baby!" Caboose half-yelled. "Nobody likes to wake up early, that's when the grass is wet."

Church groaned loudly, slinging his rifle over a shoulder and shaking his head as he lumbered toward the ramp down from the roof. "I mean, he's not wrong," Mahihko said with a slight smile, glancing between his companions. "Wet grass is the worst."

"Don't encourage him," Tucker muttered. He shoved lightly at Caboose. "C'mon, let's go figure out what the hell we're taking with us." He glanced over his shoulder at the three strangers, frowning for a moment. "And uh. I guess...good luck? And if you assholes don't die, don't hesitate to avoid us, since shit's complicated enough already."

"I'll see you soon, Horsey!" Caboose called out as Tucker shoved at him again. "You still owe me a ride!"

Riffraff's face filled with consternation as they watched the three chupadores disappear into the base. "You two are real pricks, you know that?"

"The hell did I do?" Lone muttered. "Mahihko's the one who did all the talking."

Mahihko only shrugged agreeably before peering toward the distant, opposing base. "So you ladies ready to go meet more of these strangely sexy aliens?"

Church paused, causing Tucker to collide with him and utter one of his usual curses. "Oh shit. Tucker, did you tell them about the minefield?"

"Sure did." He cleared his throat and then pushed past his less-than-convinced companion. "Whatever, man, who cares if I did or not? Probably not even real anyway. Did you see the sign? There was a heart on it. You don't put hearts on a real danger sign, everyone knows that."

"I guess..." Church frowned a bit. But the sounds of cabinets flying open in the kitchen was enough to snap his attention back to his companions and he shook his head quickly before trotting into the base. Guess this probably won't even be the weirdest shit we see, anyway...not after everything else we've seen...