"My name is senior lieutenant Yuri Gigan Topithecus, last survivor of the once-mighty space-sasquatch race. I was a hero of my people and a triumph of my government, becoming the first of my planet to journey into outer space... and as I completed my first orbit in my prototype capsule, I helplessly watched the Super Wizard From Space destroy my world."
Paul fed scrap wood into their small campfire, keeping it warm enough to fight back the chill, but low enough to not give them away. Though Yuri seemed confident they hadn't been followed, they'd agreed to play it safe; all the electronics in their spacecraft had been turned off and the generator had been powered down.
Apparently, Paul being stuck with all the manual labour had been an unspoken part of this agreement. The bastard sasquonaut sat on the ground, helmet set off to one side, and absentmindedly thumbed the ivory horns on his grisly necklace. It had the feel of a knife being sharpened over and over again, a chilling sensation that made Paul happy to stay busily distracted.
It wasn't until night fell that the space-sasquatch started reminiscing, more to himself than to Paul.
"In those last moments, I stepped out through the door and floated in a most peculiar way. I remember thinking that the stars look very different that day. But there I sat, me and my tin can far above the world, my planet an indescribable blue and there's nothing I could do."
"The shock wave pushed me past a hundred thousand miles. I was feeling... very still. I had no control, yet I felt my spaceship knew which way to go. I wanted to tell my wife that I loved her very much..." he trailed off.
"I think she knows," Paul offered. He regretted it immediately. Yuri glared at him, as if just noticing the little octopus.
There followed a long silence between them, with Yuri thumb the necklace of horns and Paul mutely watching.
"You've led us very far from civilized space," Yuri eventually said. "This planet is in an empty corner of the universe. Forbidden to many cultures. Said to be haunted. An entire galaxy emptied of life by some ancient calamity."
"He'll be here," Paul muttered with annoyance. The ragged beast of a man had been treating him little better than a tour-guide since the rescue. "My brother taught me his secret way for tracking star wizards before he rode off after his treasure."
"Did he find it, this treasure he was looking for?"
"Don't know. Doesn't matter."
Yuri gave an amused snort. "I suppose not. Assuming you are right, by the morning, we shall have him. I'll ambush the Super Wizard From Space and I'll cause his thoughts to explode inside his head and I'll spit in his face as life fades from his eyes."
You will, you will, everything you will, seethed Paul. Yuri would take his revenge and leave Paul with nothing. He had hoped for a partner in this, but his part was constantly shrinking.
"Get some sleep," Yuri said flatly as he turned onto his side. He used to getting rest despite a lack of comfort, and was soon snoring monotonously. Paul gathered together a rag pile of moss and leaves, and tried to curl tightly amongst his own tentacles. It was cold and it was dark and it was hatefully uncomfortable in any position he tried. He missed his bed.
He missed Pete.
Pete had never been what you would call a good brother. Or even a decent person, truth be told. He racked up enemies faster than some world's birth rates. But he was family and he deserved... something. Certainly more than being a footnote in some else's satisfaction.
He quietly failed to fall sleep. If it wasn't the uneven ground, it was the cold, uneven wind. And when it wasn't the wind, it was the almost hypnotic rumble of the space-sasquatch's snoring. Paul wished Yuri would have worn his damn helmet. At least it would be quiet.
Paul paused in thought. He turned over and stared at the sleeping sasquonaut.
Unlike his brother, Paul was comfortably passive. Where Pete had gone out of his way to find trouble, Paul tried to be content in what he had. He avoided confrontation, as he never really found the backbone for it. It meant people would take advantage of his good nature. Would ask much and give back little. Would walk all over him.
And it wasn't fair. He deserved his share. He deserved his chance. More than most, he figured, given the number of times he had given way to others.
Paul laid there, having a good think while his breathing fell into time with the Yuri's snoring. When he had dug up enough courage, he sat up and quietly crawled over the to space-sasquatch. He picked up the helmet and put it on. It was almost as large as he was, the neck seal tucking tightly around his waist like a belt. The rasping snore turned scratchy and distant through the speakers inside. The visor gave everything a smokey gold tinge.
He started toward the sleeping form, but hesitated. What if he woke up? He decided to arm himself with one of the sturdier looking logs from the dying campfire. He wrapping a couple tentacles around one far end and brandishing the club. He swung it experimentally a few times, the orange embers at the charred end flicking off.
"What're you doing?" Yuri murmured, stirring unexpectedly.
There was a flat moment where they looked at each other. Paul's breath caught in his throat, caught in the act. Yuri drowsiness fell away as he connected the log to how it was held to where the octopus was standing.
In the eyes, they understood immediately.
Yuri snapped upright and yanked free the necklace. The cord broke. The horns swung freely.
Paul brought the log down hard on Yuri's hand.
A loud crack. A scatter of lit splinters. The necklace fell softly in the grass.
Paul swung again, connecting with the sasquonaut's shoulder.
An angry cry. Yuri grabbed the log on the third swing. Larger and stronger, he tore it from Paul's suckered hold.
Straight up and straight down in a gloved grip. The club crashed into the helmet. The visor spiderwebbed with cracks.
A flash of color and blackness. Paul felt his head bashed. He collapsed, clutching at the ground, clinging to consciousness.
"You'd steal my vengeance from me?" bellowed the space-sasquatch. His voice a beastly savage roar, his eyes burned green with fury. "Your criminal bastard instead of my world? My people? My wife?"
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Paul begged. He'd never seen anyone so hateful. He scrambled for a rock, a stick, anything to defend himself with.
A great gloved hand on the helmet held the octopus down. The log up and ready to smite him. "How dare you! He's mine to kill, not yours!"
One of Paul's desperate tentacles wrapped around something solid and sharp. One loose horn.
"He's mine! Mine!" The log flew down.
Paul thrust up in panic. He felt the fabric tear, strong muscle split. The sound of meat skewered on ivory.
The visor exploded into shards. Pain slashed. His eyes filled with red and angles. Wood and metal splitting on each other.
Paul couldn't see. Everything had gone dark. It hurt to try to look. It hurt to close his eyes. It hurt to keep them open. He couldn't move. He couldn't feel anything but how much he hurt all over, and how sticky wet the hurt was.
He heard Yuri collapse. Somewhere nearby. A coughing gurgling fit, more drowning than breathing. He could hear the sasquonaut try to pull the horn free, spitting and swearing in a muddy, bubbly noise.
Through the ripped pieces of one eye, Paul saw a pinprick glow. A long empty darkness, and from far away, a brightness came closer. A star-shaped flash of light.
There was presence in the light. Or it was the light. It was trying to say something, but Paul couldn't hear. Or understand. He was only sure that he needed help. He asked the light for it. Pleaded.
The light agreed. A whipping crash of fusion fire, and everything stopped.