ArsenicElemental t1_j9otqr2 wrote

A Jealous God

> Transcript of Expedition Log 2023-01-30, found on Dr. Thompson's hard drive.

Is this recording? Uh... Hello, this is Dr. Sawyer. Drone is at 97% battery, 92 meters away from the structure. Temperature readings are 31° C. Humidity is... Ok, I've been told to move along.

No animals around the site, just as initial exploratory team reported. The etchings cannot be discerned from so far away. Approaching the structure.

My God! Sorry, video quality is degrading but what I saw... it's magnificent. I wish I could be there. The level of detail is impossible. Uh? Feed is back up. I'm seeing... figures on the walls. Carvings. They have two arms, two legs, and yet, I don't feel we can call them human. They seem to be bringing something into the temple. The drawings move towards the door.

Light inside is minimal, turning on flashlight. The carvings continue. It's like a story on the walls, they move deeper inside. They are making offerings to... something. It's not, it's not on the etchings. It's hidden from me. No, it's just, empty wall. Why is it not there?

I just want to see... I'll move Heaven and Earth to -

(audio ends)

I've transcribed Dr. Sawyer's audio for your review. Please, advise. I've seen the footage, and he is right. Whatever the structure was built to worship... it's not on the wall anymore. Whatever Hell this is from, w3 h4ve a du7y to put an 3ND to it.

Something is making it mad. May God have merc-

> Saved to draft 4 hours ago

The reason for the fire that destroyed our Brazilian research site is still unknown.

Why does it hate us? What have we done?


ArsenicElemental t1_j8ihvc0 wrote

"No, that can't be true."

Andrew nods at Lewis.

"Yeah, Lou, think about it. What do we export to the Xandrians?"

"Metal... gems... but come on, they live on a gas giant, they can't produce it themselves! It only makes sense we..."

"It's not one thing, it's the result of everything."

"Still, it's too much to assume they-"

Andrew interrupts him again.

"When they celebrate Earth day in Neptune, what kind of food do they share?"

"Come on, that's speciesist."

"Answer me, what's our dish in outer space?"

Lewis sighs. Defeated, he admits.


"It's beer, it's fucking beer."

"But Earth Day has its roots in Oktoberfest, it's not like they made it on purpose!"

"Root shmoot, it doesn't matter. When Gardion Prime thinks aout us, they picture hairy, short drunkards that export metalwork."

"We are so much more than that..."

"Yes, we are, but that's not the point Lou."

"Ok, ok" Lewis straightens on the chair, ready to deal his final blow to Andrew's argument. "What about our scientist, explorers, artists and whatever?"

"Oh, you mean Penelope Schaffer, and her work on Arious III? What was it?"

"Yes, she was a geologist, bu-"

"Or Cacius, the best jeweler in the galaxy."

"That's no-"

"The Abioye family did colonize and terraform plenty planets. For their mining operation."

"You are just cherry picking now!"

"Name me one famous Earthling that has not been filtered through the flanderinzing ray, come on."

"Ah... there's... Well, the crew of Pleiades doesn't count, they were testing new spacefaring technology..."

Muttering to himself, Lewis eventually falls silent.

"Fine, we are space-dwarves."

"Still very speciesist, but yeah."

"And do you think some species out there would be the space-elves?"

Andrew's face twists in horror. "Dude, don't even joke about that. Super offensive to Martians."

"What? But you just-"

"Shame on you Lou, shame on you."


ArsenicElemental t1_j63g293 wrote


She screams.

"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you."

"Why aren't you unconscious?"

I shrug as much as the bindings allow me. "Did you mess up the dosage?"

She stares at me for a second. I make a popping sound with my lips, looking around.

"I guess the candles and rope threw me off. Totally misread what was going on here, didn't I?"

"Big time. You are not my type. But she will love you." My date, who introduced herself as Tabitha but might have been lying about that as she did about everything else, points at a statue of a woman.

"I'm not a virgin, by the way."

"What are you talking about?"

I clear my throat. "If you need a virgin sacrifice. It won't work. I'm not a virgin."

She laughs. "I didn't think you were a virgin."

"Ok, that's great. Cause I'm not."



There's an awkward pause. The sound of a mortar fills the air for a couple seconds.

"She'll like you because you are a linguist, by the way." Tabitha is trying to make conversation. I appreciate it, it's not like I can do a lot while tied down, so at least we can talk. She continues. "You have no idea how hard it is to find someone in your field. No one puts it in their bio! What am I supposed to do?"

"You could have made a false work ad, couldn't you? Would have had the linguists coming to you."

"Oh." She leaves the mortar and looks at me. "Didn't thought of that."

"Kinda wish you did." I shrug again. We laugh. Our conversations usually went smoothly. We have a lot in common. Not everything, of course, but we have a similar sense of humor.

"Ok, seriously." I ask her. "What's in this for you?"

"Power, mostly. She gives boons to people that send her good sacrifices."

"Bullshit. How do you even know that?"

"Excuse me?" She puts her hands on her waist, cocking an eyebrow at me.

"Don't try to tell me you've done this before. You barely knocked me out and you've been stirring that mortar ever since I woke up. It's mush already, there's no point in stomping on it anymore. You are just trying to kill time while you re-read your ritual notes."

She blushes. "Not!"

"You have your phone right there. I can see it from over here."

She covers it with her hand.

"And what's that font size? Are you blind?"

"Yes, I am. I was wearing glasses our whole date!"

"Oh" I must admit, I don't remember that.

"Come on, dude, really?" I smile briefly, but she is not buying it. "Do you even remember what I'm wearing under this cloak?"

She spreads her arms. I think I see a glint of white in the hood. Was she wearing a white top? Jeans? I can't remember. She is waiting for an answer, I won't get out of this one.

"White top, flower pattern, jean shorts." Even to myself I don't sound convincing. She sighs and turns away.

"You are all the same."

"Oh, don't be like that! I have a lot in my mind right now."

We laugh again.

"Hey, last thing, I promise."

"Uh-hm" she doesn't turn back to me.

"Next time, do a better job on the knots."

She drops the mortar and phone, rushing over to check on my hands. They are still tied up tight, so ss she gets close, I headbutt her in the nose. She falls on her ass, bleeding, but gets up quickly.

"What was that?!"

"Not gonna lie, I was really hoping you'd pass out."

"That's not how any of this works!"

"Sorry, it's my first time headbutting someone into unconsciousness!"

She lifts her face and holds her nose with two fingers. Her voice sound messed up. "Who am I to complain, right? You should be unconscious too."

We laugh again, and she chokes a bit on the blood.

That's when the police knock down her door, guns blazing and what not. I would only learn a neighbor saw her dragging me in later. For now, I'm panicking and screaming as much as everyone else.

Tabitha doesn't put up much of a fight, mostly because I weakened her. A mustachioed officer unbinds me, and asks:

"Are you alright?"

"Not my worst date, stay off Tinder my dude."


ArsenicElemental t1_j2f71r3 wrote

"Well, that's might judgemental of you. Who are you to tell toothpaste what to do?"

Silas throws his hands up in the air.

"What the fuck Anna? Of course it can't explode, it goes in your fucking mouth!"

Anna's mouth opens to reply. Silas' eyebrow raises, and she rethinks what she was about to say. Their bodies begin to relax and she quickly snaps back into action.

"It's not like exploding disqualifies it as toothpaste, right?"

He stares at her.

"I mean, I didn't make a toothbrick or something. It's still a paste." She points at the substance, the toothpaste as it were.

"The shape is not the issue here."

"It's not so much shape as..." Silas interrupts her.

"I don't care if it's called shape or state of matter or whatever, Anna, that's not the point."

"What would it be, though?"

"What would what be?" His voice is losing strength. His shoulder are lower than they have ever been before in his life.

"The... whatever. The difference between a toothpaste and a toothbrick or a toothsalve. How do you define that quality?"

"I guess... I guess you'd call it the shape, right? That's why I said it."

"No, there has to be a real name for it. Scientists can't be talking about the shape of stuff. It's like mayo!" Her face lights up.


"Yeah, yeah, it's not a liquid. It's a... an emulsion, I think it's called."


"So" now she seems irritated. And to be fair, it's not that hard to grasp. The question is rather simple, even if the answer is evading both of them at the moment. "So, what do you call that quality? The quality of being a solution, or an emulsion, or a whatever."

"Ok, fair enough" He sits down. Holding his head between his hands, Silas has to admit he is being unreasonable. "You did make paste. That much is true."

"Thank you!"

"But C4 is not toothpaste!"

"And this is not C4, so I don't see your point." With elegance, Anna refutes another baseless, nonsensical argument thrown her way.

"Then what is it? And don't you dare say toothpaste!"

"That's what it is, Silas. I'm not sure what you'd expect me to say here."

"It doesn't clean your teeth." He replies, smug.

"Have you tried it yet?" She retorts back, smugger.

"It would blow my head off." Is all the coward has to say.

"And I'm not disputing that." They both stare at the exploded, charred mannequin head on the floor. The silence drags for an eternity. Shivering, both look back at each other. "I'm just saying, we don't know if it cleans teeth yet."

"You know what, Anna? I don't care what it is. You are a hairdresser. You shouldn't be trying to invent toothpaste anyway. You are fired."


ArsenicElemental t1_j2f4h5e wrote

The earth cracks with a thunderous sound that sickens me. I just know it's the sound of broken bones, only multiplied by a thousandfold. The decayed hand of The Beast shoots up the wound on the ground, and grasps around until it finds leverage. A skinny arm pulls the tattered and ragged body up from the depths where it should stay, and two burning eyes focus on mine.

"Look how much you've grown!" The Beast howls, her voice making the ground shake. She lifts her other hand and it snaps up close to my face, pinching my cheek. Her skin is rough and her claws dangerous.

"You just have your mother's eyes, don't you? How long has it been? 10? 13 years?"

I shake my head. "Since when?" I manage to ask, trembling.

"Since you were born, silly. I held you just like this." The Beast mimes shaking something in her hand, as if she was holding an invisible pair of dice.

"I'm... I'm 34." I correct her. Her gasp pushes me back with a gust of air, and I land on my own ass.

"I can't believe it's been so long! How come?"

I look up at her. My vision is clouded with tears of fear.

"That's not possible! You died before the Age of Crystal!" I cry out. My knuckles are white on top of my fists.

"The what?" The Beast rises her head over the treeline and gasps again. The few animals that hadn't run away just yet flee for their lives. The forest is silent, her movements echoing through the unnatural stillness. "Where's the Keep? Aio, what's going on here?"

I recognize that name. Aio the Terrible. A figure of legend, the one that tried to revive The Beast and was thwarted by the Empire and the Council. That bloody war was almost as destructive as The Beast's original rampage.

She looks back at me. The grass on the ground flares up and burns away under her gaze. "Oh, I'm dreadfully sorry. You are not Aio, are you? I seem to be confused." She stomps her elbow on the ground, leaving a crater. Her horned, burning face lowers to look at me closer. "You do have my blood in your veins. You are family."

Her toothy mouth splits in a mockery of a smile.

"What do you think? Shall we try again, uh?" She asks. I simply pass out from the fear.