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[WTS] US ONLY - Pelikan M800, Sailor Pro Gear Realo, Lamy 2k, Diplomat Excellence A2, TWSBI's, and more pens + ink lot and other pen accessories

I regret this day but I am selling off my entire collection of pens and ink to help out monetarily while my wife and I are out of work for the foreseeable future. All pens, ink and accessories purchased in 2020. I've tried to be reasonable with all pricing so please let me know if something seems off and I will research more and adjust accordingly. Lastly, all pens will be thoroughly cleaned prior to shipping. I hope someone can put these pens/inks to good use and cherish them as much as I have.
Verification and entire sale album -- will sell entire lot of pens/ink and accessories for $1000 ($239 discount)
Ground rules:
  • US Sales only -- will ship USPS priority for a flat rate of $5 added to total cost of sale
  • Not open to trades - only doing this because I need the money
  • Items will ship as soon as Paypal transaction is confirmed and money received. I will send you an invoice via Paypal after confirmed sale.
  • Users must comment on this post before PM'ing about sale. Offers should not be discussed in comments, please.
  • All items are OBO
PENS:
  • SOLD****[C] Diplomat Excellence A2 steel nib (album): $120 $90
    • Received from Goulet Pens with a very slight blemish on the body finish that I believe will polish away if given the effort, I just haven't tried. Blemish is hardly visible, but I was able to capture it in the photo album under very bright lighting conditions. Very smooth two-tone steel nib and hefty metal body with brilliant and interesting sparkly brown laquer finish. Comes with original box and converter (no staining).
  • SOLD****[C] Lamy Safari steel nib (album): $15
    • No obvious signs of wear, but was inked with Baystate Blue once and does have slight staining on the converter that does not affect the performance of the pen (the picture in the album is no representative of the staining, it was currently inked in photo - staining is much less apparent). Comes with converter as pictured. No box, but will be very carefully packaged for shipment.
  • SOLD****[B] Sailor Pro Gear Realo 21k Gold nib (album): $260
    • Also rated conservatively - maybe some very light micro-scratches barely visible to the eye even under very bright light. This is the piston filler Sailor variant. Beautiful Sailor nib, perfectly tuned with only a tiny bit of feedback that feels amazing. Comes with original box.
  • SOLD****[B] Pelikan M800 18C Gold nib (album): $400
    • Rated conservatively - practically new condition, only inked twice. No scratches/blemishes visible to my eye. Nib is glassy smooth and haven't had any issues with skipping/baby's bottom. No box, but will be very carefully packaged for shipment.
  • SOLD**** [B] Lamy 2000 14K Gold nib (album): $130
    • Used regularly but loved and taken care of. Possibly my favorite nib of them all. Was my "at home desk daily driver" but still looks new. Reliable workhorse pen. Recently lubed the piston with 100% pure silicon grease and it is operating as smoothly as it did out of the box. Comes with original box.
  • SOLD****[C] TWSBI Diamond 580 AL-R steel nib (album): $40
    • Rated conservatively. Excellent steel nib and piston filler. Works like new with very little wear. The ribbed section feels wonderful in the hands. No staining whatsoever. Comes with original box and accessories.
  • SOLD****[C] TWSBI Eco White/Rose Gold <1.1 stub> steel nib (album): $40
    • Rated conservatively. Love this pen. The stub nib is very fun to write with. Everything works as it did out of the box. No staining whatsoever. Comes with original box and accessories.
  • SOLD****[C] Pilot Metropolitan steel nib (album): $10
    • No obvious signs of wear. Best steel nib in my collection! This is a great pen for anyone wanting to add a workhorse to their collection or anyone wanting to get into fountain pens. Comes with converter and orginial box plus the unused ink cartridge that came with it.
  • SOLD****[C] Moonman C1 steel nib (album): $10
    • No marking on the nib but writes like a medium nib. Like new condition, no obvious scratches on the body or cap anywhere. No staining whatsoever. Eyedropper only, and holds a ton of ink. Comes with original box/converteeyedropper.

INKS:
Ink album
Ink swatches on Tomoe River paper

  • SOLD****[90% full] Noodler's Blue/Black (3oz): $5
  • SOLD****[95% full] Noodler's Baystate Blue (3oz): $5
  • SOLD****[95% full] Monteverde Olivine (30ml): $5*
  • SOLD****[95% full] KWZ Rotten Green (60ml): $10*
  • SOLD****[95% full] Sailor Manyo Haha (50ml): $20
  • SOLD****[99% full] Sailor Manyo Nekoyanagi (50ml): $20
  • SOLD****[95% full] KWZ Honey (60ml): $10
  • SOLD****[95% full] KWZ Brown/Pink (60ml): $10
  • SOLD****[85% full] Iroshizuku Asa-Gao (50ml): $10
  • SOLD****[85% full] Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku (50ml): $10
  • SOLD****[85% full] Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo (50ml): $10
  • SOLD****[95% full] J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor (50ml): $15
  • SOLD****[90% full] Monteverde California Teal (90ml): $10
  • SOLD****[95% full] Diamine Majestic Blue (80ml): $7
  • SOLD****[95% full] Diamine Imperial Purple (80ml): $7
  • SOLD****[90% full] Diamine Ancient Copper (30ml): $4
  • SOLD****[95% full] Waterman Inspired Blue (50ml): $5
  • SOLD****[90% full] Organics Studio Ralph Waldo Emerson Twilight Blue (55ml): $6

ACCESSORIES:
  • SOLD****Galen Leather Toolcomb, 13 pen stand (picture): $20
  • SOLD****BelOMO 10x loupe (album): $20
  • SOLD****[85% full] Monteverde Fountain Pen Flush (album): $5
submitted by 81FDC to Pen_Swap

{The Flesh Reaper} (Sequel to The Meat Locusts) - Part Four

I felt an eerie sense of calm as I followed Theo up the hill, the kind of peace I used to get when I hiked in the woods. Seeing the sun after days of solitude might have had something to do with it, feeling its warmth on my cheeks and seeing the night’s lingering darkness melt away. Or maybe it was the constant whine of the drone hovering above the trees and our heads, knowing that Lazlo would give us an instant warning via the radio in my ear if a Meat Locust showed up. I had felt on edge with Madison, not because I didn’t trust her but because no one person can cover all dangers, no matter how much of a bad ass they were.
That said, my calm was never far from collapsing. My hike started by moving through a wafting dust cloud of gray, the lingering residue of dozens of dead MLs decomposing rapidly. My outfit carried some of it along, and no matter how much I wiped it away I never felt completely clean. A constant reminder that there were hundreds of these monsters around Crusoe, and who could say how close the next pack was from our position. Not to mention the ten missing MLs – more than enough to take Theo and me down if we got too complacent.
Regardless, I chose to enjoy the picturesque view and the smell of pines and the freedom of movement I finally had. Theo seemed less enthralled and more focused on keeping us in the right direction. We were skirting Cell Point this time, aiming for a small valley two miles past it. That valley held the copse that the pack had disappeared into, and where the lost drone was now.
“You guys are boring, you know that?” spoke Lazlo in my ear at one point. “No dirty jokes, no nervous comments. I knew Theo had no sense of humor, but I didn’t think you’d be a killjoy, Hector.”
“At least I can turn off the radio when you tell your bad puns, Laz,” said Theo.
“Silence the chatter, you two,” ordered Abbott. “We may have hostiles in the area.”
I couldn’t help but smile. Even after last night’s frantic battle and Abbott’s injury, the group still held onto its camaraderie. It also disturbed me somewhat. How many run-ins with the MLs did you have to rack up before you became desensitized to their horrors?
It was close to two blessedly uneventful hours before we came to the edge of the copse. It was a tight cluster of pines that had grown too close together, their upper boughs plentiful with needles but their lower limbs starved of light, their bare branches twisting and drooping towards the ground. If I had been a superstitious type I might have deemed it a cursed place. The sun had less power in there, the trees turning the copse into a shadowed realm where monsters hid and awaited the unwary.
Theo must have been feeling nervous too, as he held his assault rifle at the ready and thumbed off the safety. I grabbed a flash ball from my belt and held it in my left hand, content just to be holding it. I figured if the MLs attacked us, I’d do exactly what I’d done with Madison. Let Theo do the killing and me the distracting.
“Follow close behind me and watch our backs,” instructed Theo. “We won’t have Third Eye in there. We go in, find the drone, and get out. No diversions or distractions. Got it?”
I nodded to Theo and he started in, failing to see me hesitate. I knew what I needed to do, what I had volunteered to do, and here we were about to do it, but now that I was at the mouth of the lion’s den my earlier convictions were less convicting. It’s hard to overcome those pesky survival instincts within us – they’re present for a reason.
“Hey, Hector, don’t you puss out now,” scolded the voice in my ear. Lazlo could see me hesitating, and it was enough to get me moving. Besides, I definitely didn’t want Theo getting too far ahead.
To be fair to the trees, the copse wasn’t any more macabre or menacing than the rest of the forest. In fact, there was precious little brush and grass since the trees hogged up most of the sunlight. Still, I studied every tree for the telltale signs of enigmatic fungus or distortion, the favored camouflage of the MLs. Every crunching branch under my foot felt like a gunshot going off. We swept through the copse in a slow, wide pattern, hoping to spot the wayward drone while hoping not to spot anything else.
Every few minutes Lazlo or Abbott chimed in to check up on us. I was a little surprised that we hadn’t lost radio contact. After all, Lazlo had complained of some kind of signal interference with the wayward drone. She was even surprised at the clarity of our communications. I wasn’t going to over-think it, though. Dealing with malfunctioning tech was her territory. I was just the mule in this mission.
I lost track of how long we spent searching the copse. It was certainly long enough for me to start feeling a little bored. We were almost to the other edge of the copse when I spotted it – a metallic object resting on a bed of broken branches. “I think I found it,” I told the team, and Theo confirmed my catch. Lazlo whooped with joy as we went over to it, Theo telling me to keep an eye out while he made a quick inspection.
I scanned the trees as I had for the last half-hour, knowing not to let my guard down despite my elation at this meager success. Theo talked on the radio with Lazlo, describing what appeared to be damage to the drone’s forward-right propeller. She moaned and said that it wasn’t going to fly back with a propeller down, so I still had to carry it back. Well, I hadn’t come out here for nothing.
Then I noticed something… odd. I was pretty sure I could make out in the distance some strange rock-like structures. There were a lot of trees in the way, so I couldn’t make out much. But I could easily tell that the structures weren’t natural. They were also pretty small, and the more I stared at them the more they reminded me of… statues. Statues of what, I wasn’t sure. Who would bring statues out here?
Theo had said no diversions, and part of me agreed with him. I didn’t want to press our luck. But I was getting an ominous vibe from looking at those statues.
“Theo, there’s something over there,” I said. Theo stood up and looked where I was pointing. He was silent as he stared, his face unreadable. Then he looked back at me with a frown. “I said no diversions and I mean it. Whatever’s over there isn’t our priority.”
Abbott spoke up on the radio, asking for clarification of our current conversation. Theo groaned and said, “It’s an unknown anomaly, roughly seventy meters away. We’d have to go investigate for more info.”
“You know, the drone did go down right there,” pointed out Lazlo. “It might be…”
“Hush, Laz,” said Abbott. The radio then went silent for a few beats. When Abbott spoke up again, his tone was for more serious. “Theo, do you think it’s safe to investigate?”
“I don’t think any of this is safe, Abbott,” Theo replied. “But… I think we can divert with minimal added risk.”
“Then go check it out. But if anything starts moving, get out of there.”
“Roger that,” finished Theo. He looked at me and added, “Let’s get the drone and get moving.”
He helped me rig up a harness to the drone with some straps taken from my backpack. This way I could carry the drone with less effort, even keep one hand free if the need arrived. Once that was done, I fell behind Theo as we hiked the short distance to the unknown anomaly. We moved past the cluster of trees that had obscured our vision, and what we saw made things both clearer and murkier simultaneously, as well as making my heart accelerate.
The small statues occupied a very small clearing within the copse, a group of ten figures in a circular formation with each figure spaced an equal distance from the next. Their appearance was unmistakable – Meat Locusts. They were the same size and shape, but their skin resembled bleached-white chalk or calcium instead of their typical snake-like texture. They were all kneeling down as if kowtowing, facing outward from the center of the circle. A line of dust led inward from each figure, meeting in the center and forming a large circular mound, with pieces of the same substance littering the ground around it.
“Jesus,” said Theo. “Hector, don’t touch anything.” He continued around the circle, inspecting the figures carefully. I stood in place, unsure of what else to do.
“Uh, can somebody start talking?” asked Lazlo in my ear. “Also, start taking pictures. We can’t see what you’re seeing.”
That jogged me into action. I put down the drone and extracted the digital camera and sample kit from my backpack. As I powered up the camera, I watched as Theo poked one of the figures with the barrel of his rifle, eliciting a puff of dust upon contact.
“I think we found the remains of the missing MLs,” he said.
“Remains?” asked Abbott incredulously. “As in corpses?”
“Not exactly.” Theo gave Abbott and Lazlo a cursory description of the sight before us while he gestured at me to bring over the sample kit. I did so and then began taking pictures of the entire scene. Theo extracted a plastic container and a pair of tweezers from the kit and began carefully plucking material from the nearest corpse, and having most of it crumble away. I was in agreement with Theo – I believed these figures were once MLs. I stooped to stare into the face of one of them, and I saw hollow eye sockets and a mouth empty of teeth or flesh. It was as if we were seeing only their outer skin, hardened by some bizarre process of petrifaction.
“It’s like something hollowed them out and left behind their skin,” continued Theo. “The remaining matter seems to have undergone some kind of calcification.”
“It’s like they were doing some kind of ritual,” I offered, taking a picture of the emptiness beyond the corpse’s eyes. I should have taken more, but being so close to even a dead ML ruined my calm. I stood back up and continued my picture taking with the next ML corpse. “The posturing, the organization – it’s almost religious in nature.”
“These things don’t do rituals,” Theo remarked. “They sure as hell don’t worship anything.”
“How do you explain these poses, then?” I said, waving to the figures. “You think someone killed them, positioned them, and then turned them to stone?”
“Folks, let’s leave the conjecture for later,” spoke up Abbott. “Theo, Hector, five more minutes of data collecting and then get out of there.”
I was almost disappointed to have to leave, emphasis on almost. I felt like we had stumbled onto a deep dark secret that no other human had ever discovered until now. MLs holding rituals and corpses that didn’t dissolve? This had to be something huge. Why else would the MLs hide the act in the first place? But I also had a pattern of learning intriguing and hidden knowledge right before life’s bounty of horror found me once more. As I was about to find out, that pattern wasn’t changing anytime soon.
*****
Once we cleared the copse, Lazlo walked me through the process of transmitting the camera’s pictures through its wi-fi, using her watchful drone as a signal relay. Lazlo didn’t want to wait another two hours to get the data. Theo wasn’t happy about the delay, wanting us to get moving. He was more on edge now, even though we had accounted for the missing MLs. I couldn’t blame him – I felt out of sorts after our discovery, like the world had found yet another way to warp my sense of reality. But I didn’t think we were in more danger than before. Whatever the MLs had done had occurred hours ago, and the team had killed the only pack in the area. As long as we got back to camp and disembarked before another pack showed up, we’d be home free.
The day remained sunny and cheerful, and while I felt like a beast of burden as I carried the recovered drone I was kinda enjoying the moment. I knew I wasn’t really cut out to be a soldier, but I might make a good researcher. I no longer felt like such a tagalong. I knew I was a long way from being at the same level as the rest of the Wranglers, but at least I was walking the path.
It was that moment that I realized that I was seriously contemplating this life. Madison hadn’t made it look real appealing, what with the lonely hunts in the woods and the constant threat of death. But Abbott’s team made the experience feel almost like an adventure. Maybe it was all about how you approached it. Not everyone had to do it like an old-fashioned safari. There was a high-tech way to do the job - modern technology against the monsters.
Then I found myself getting angry, because once again the proof of the government’s malfeasance was on display. If they had just thrown even a tiny percentage of the federal budget into solving this crisis, there wouldn’t be dozens of dead innocents and a swarm of monsters to contend with. I made a mental note to ask Abbott a lot more questions when we were back in Crusoe. I wanted to know how we’d gotten here, because I wanted to help make sure we never got here again.
The reason I was having these long bouts of cogitation was because Theo had all but clammed up during our trip back. He watched the trees with keen interest, as if he couldn’t trust Third Eye to cover us. I thought about asking what was bothering him, but I knew better than to disturb a vigilant soldier.
Lazlo had been quiet until we were halfway to the camp, then she piped up with her initial analysis of the ML circle ritual, as she was calling it. I think she named it that just to poke Theo, who still maintained that MLs don’t do religion. She admitted that she didn’t know what the bowing was all about, but she did believe that these MLs had done this process to themselves. In fact, it looked like they had created something in the center of the circle.
“Some of those fragments remind me of… well, eggshells,” she said in an unconfident tone.
“Eggshells?” I asked. “Like they laid an egg?”
“Built one, perhaps,” Abbott remarked. “Or it was just excess material that their creation cast off once it was ready. I’m starting to come around to Lazlo’s thinking. The whole process reminds me of some kind of joining ritual - the many coming together to create the one.”
“The one?” spoke up Theo for the first time in an hour. “So you think we’re not alone?”
“Theo, I know you too well,” Abbott replied, his tone growing more serious. “You get quiet when you think we’re in trouble. You think something’s out there too, don’t you?”
Theo grunted in acknowledgement. “Call it Wrangler’s intuition, but yeah, I haven’t felt right since we started back.”
“MLs bud on a one-to-one basis,” I pointed out. “I saw it in action. Why would they sacrifice ten MLs to make only one… thing?”
“That’s a good question,” said Lazlo. “And… I don’t like any of the potential answers. I’m going to put up a second drone, just to be safe.”
I joined Theo in scanning the wilderness, unsure of what I was looking for but assuming I’d know it when I saw it. We passed by the cabin that had once been my sanctuary, but I barely gave it a glance. Suddenly I really wanted to be away from here, or at least in the Oasis with a lot of steel between the outside world and me.
We were maybe twenty minutes away from the camp when I heard the radio crackle in my ear, Lazlo’s voice interspersed with burst of static that obscured her words. Theo and I instinctively stopped and tried to contact her, but if she could hear us we weren’t able to tell. I could make out Lazlo’s tone as heightened and growing more frantic, as if she was desperately trying to get a hold of us, or her own situation was rapidly deteriorating.
“Lazlo, Abbott, someone come in!” Theo demanded, but again the answer was more static and barely-audible voices. Theo then took off at a fast jog, not even bothering to warn me of his intentions. I tried to keep up as best I could, but I didn’t have his physique or conditioning, and he left me in the dust after a few minutes. By that time, the radio no longer crackled. It no longer did anything except relay Theo’s occasional frantic calls to his friends.
I understood Theo’s concerns, but I felt rightly abandoned during the long minutes I jogged after him, hoping that I knew the path back to the camp well enough to not get lost. Then again, I was also afraid of what I would find at the camp. I grabbed a flash ball from my belt and held it as I ran. It gave me enough confidence to keep moving.
I could hear Theo yelling out to Lazlo and Abbott as I neared the camp, and I spotted him just outside the Oasis, holding his rifle up and slowly advancing up the ramp. I switched to walking as I entered the camp’s perimeter, panting and unable to get a word out but still moving forward. I dropped my drone load to the ground and took out my pistol, remembering to switch off the safety this time. Theo disappeared through the doorway as I closed in, and his yells ceased at the same time. Then I spotted the trail of crimson on the ramp, bright and shiny and recent. Adding to the horror was that the solid metal door was hanging off of one hinge and had taken several cruel dents, as if something massively strong had attacked it and ultimately won.
I spotted a drone parked on the ground near the ramp, perhaps the one Lazlo had been preparing for launch. Voyeur Four was still in the air, its incessant whine now a unwelcome distraction. Pistol in my right hand, flash ball in my left, I went up the ramp and stopped just before the entrance. I wanted to help the team, even if it meant walking into a lion’s den. But I wasn’t an idiot.
“Theo?” I yelled. “Are you okay?”
There was no immediate answer, and I was about to throw the flash ball inside when his voice spoke up at last. “God… yes, Hector, I’m okay.”
I knew I wasn’t going to like what was in there. I went in just the same.
The first apparent change to the interior was the small pool of blood congealing next to the bunks. That… and the human leg lying in it. Considering the large soaked bandage wrapped around it, I could easily identify its previous owner. Abbott – my heart froze up at the revelation.
Theo was standing near it, looking like he’d just been kicked hard in the ribs. Beyond the pool of blood and severed limb, there were a few splashes of blood on the bunk Abbott had occupied, a bloody handprint here and there, but little other damage. No random destruction of property. It was not like the MLs to ignore an opportunity to destroy humanity’s work, or be so tidy. Then again, how the hell did the MLs get past a solid steel door?
“They… it… dragged him away,” Theo muttered in a low, deadly voice. “Tore off his leg and dragged him away.”
Even though he was the military veteran of the group, I think my shock wore off quicker than his. Abbott had been his friend for who knows how long. I knew him for less than a day. “Theo… what about Lazlo?” I managed to ask.
“I… I don’t know. She’s not here. They must have…” He trailed off, gripping his rifle and moving past me to the door. He started looking into the forest, probably hoping to scope out a trail to follow. I became afraid of his next move.
“Theo, tell me you’re not going after them.”
He looked at me with unmistakable rage shining in his eyes. “They got them, Hector. I wasn’t here and they got them. They might still be alive, and even if they aren’t…”
“If you go after what did this, you’ll end up like them,” I insisted. I couldn’t believe I had to be the voice of reason, but here I was being it. “I still need your help, Theo. I can’t make it back on my own, and we have information that could save lives. Please tell me you’re staying here.”
I wasn’t sure if he was buying what I was selling. He looked out again at the forest, his conflicted priorities battling it out on his face. Then he closed his eyes and said, “I’m securing the perimeter. I won’t… I won’t leave you, Hector. But I can’t be in here right now.”
He went down the ramp, ending our conversation. I had to trust his words. I’m not sure what I’d accomplished, though. I wasn’t any better off than Theo. That brief window of friendship and safety that I had occupied was gone, and I had no idea what to do. God, what were we up against now? What had the MLs unleashed on the world? And how the hell were we…
I heard the noise in the back of the vehicle, what they called the storage section as it had little else but cabinets and drawers for personal effects, supplies, and equipment. It came off as a soft metallic rap, almost like something banging gently on a metal cabinet. My sorrow switched to fight-or-flight, heavy on the fight. Theo hadn’t searched the vehicle. In his shock, perhaps he had made a mistake. I wasn’t in the mood to run from this particular fight.
I raised my gun and moved down the length of the vehicle, stepping up to a large closet that Abbott had declared their improvised brig. I thought I heard a soft shuffle inside there. A ML preparing for an ambush, perhaps, though the better part of me must have thought otherwise. I held my gun at the ready and used my free hand to open the door, prepared to fire at a moment’s notice.
In that otherwise empty closet, a wide-eyed Lazlo greeted me with a pistol aimed at my chest, and it was pure providence that neither of us shot the other at that moment. She lowered her weapon and broke out into a combination of laughter and tears as she came out of the closet and gave me a tight hug, as if we were best friends. Once she detached from me, she asked me about Theo. I assured her he was okay, but she didn’t believe me until she went to the exterior door and called out his name. He came running, and she gave him a tight hug as well.
“It wasn’t a pack, Theo,” she managed to say between soft sobs. “It was something… something a lot worse.”
I didn’t have a frame of reference at the time to judge how anything could be worse than a pack of Meat Locusts. Now? If anything, she may have underplayed the threat we were facing.
*****
Obviously Theo and I wanted answers, but we needed to secure the vehicle first. Despite their deep grief over Abbott’s death, Theo and Lazlo fell back into their respective roles as we finished preparing to leave, Lazlo swapping out drones while Theo stood guard. I gave the living section a hasty cleaning and wrapped up Abbott’s leg in a plastic tarp for storage in the rear closet. I feared it was the only part of him we’d ever find. As I did the task, I told myself over and over that it was only flesh now, not the remains of a good man I had been talking to less than an hour ago.
There wasn’t much we could do for the main steel door other than use a bunch of straps to close it and keep it from banging around. Its use as a protective shield was now very limited.
Once we secured the door, we huddled inside and voted on our next move. The smartest plan was to get the Oasis moving and head back to Crusoe. We were down a Wrangler, our resources were significantly depleted, and we were up against an unknown threat that had penetrated our defenses with little effort.
But instead, we unanimously voted to hear out Lazlo first. Maybe it’s the human part of us that wants to know the answers even when it puts you further in jeopardy. Or perhaps we needed to know because there was a good chance that this new monster wasn’t all that far away and might come at us again. Better for us to have some idea what we were up against rather than encounter it in ignorance.
“I was outside installing a new battery in Voyeur Four when I saw it,” she began, sitting down at her computer desk with a bottle of water in her hands and a haunted look in her eyes. “It wasn’t very far away, maybe fifty yards at most. It hadn’t tripped any alarms from Third Eye or the vehicle cameras. It looked humanoid, but it was using the same masking ability the MLs use. Except it’s not the same. They look like forest flora. This one looked like a walking, flowing mound of dirt. It had multiple limbs, but how many I can’t be sure of because its arms appeared to grow and recede from its body at regular intervals. It was also bigger, at least my height. It was walking toward me at that rate serial killers use in slasher movies. You know, where the killer doesn’t feel like running because he knows he’s going to get you eventually and he has all the time in the world. I tried to reach Abbott and you guys on the radio, but there was suddenly some kind of major interference scrambling the signal. Three guesses as to who was likely causing it.”
She gulped down a drink of water and then continued, her hands gripping the bottle tightly. “Abbott saved my life twice in ten minutes. He insisted I take my shotgun with me. I told him the MLs were all gone and that Third Eye would warn me otherwise. He said to humor an injured man and do it anyway. Like an idiot, I had put down the shotgun several feet away, so I had to race to get it, fearing that thing would rush me while my back was turned. But that overconfident bastard didn’t speed up at all. It was twenty yards away when I brought up the shotgun, and I let it get to ten yards before I opened fire. If that thing had been scared of my gun, it never showed it.
“I’m pretty damn sure I hit it. Kinda hard to miss at that range. I emptied the entire shotgun, but it was like I was shooting wiffle balls. The whole time it maintained its masking. I’ve never seen a ML that could keep up its masking while it attacked. Then again, I’ve never seen a ML that could withstand several shotgun blasts.
“Not enough time to reload, so I ran back into the vehicle and locked the door. Abbott was demanding answers because he couldn’t reach me on the radio and it was hard to miss all the gunfire. I was about to start talking when the thing began wailing on the door, pounding it hard enough to leave dents in the metal. It must be damn strong to do even that much. After a few blows, it started wrenching on the door and working the hinges. I used the time to reload the shotgun and I was about to load another shotgun for Abbott when one of the door hinges pulled free. The thing was about to get in, so I stood in front of the door with my gun at the ready. I didn’t think my odds were good, but we weren’t going down without a fight.
“Abbott must have seen things differently, because he told me to give him the shotgun and go hide in the back. I tried pretending that I hadn’t heard him say that, but he repeated himself and added that it didn’t make sense for us to both die. I argued that I might still stop it, and he said that if that was possible, then it was his turn to do the heroics. I remember looking at him and seeing the lie on his face. He knew he couldn’t stop it. He was giving me the best chance possible of surviving.
“He then gave me a direct order. Told me that if I didn’t obey and he made it out of here he’d strip me of my Wrangler status. I knew he wasn’t serious, but somehow it worked on me. I gave him the shotgun, told him he was a jerk, and grabbed a pistol before I hid in the closet. I felt ridiculous, like I was a little girl pretending that the monster wouldn’t see me if I hid under my bed and closed my eyes. Then I heard the door give way with a big grating shriek. The shotgun went off three times before I heard Abbott scream. It was a short scream – I guess that’s better than a long one. I heard some thumping and sliding sounds, and then I heard nothing. I thought about opening the door and rushing the monster a dozen times over, but each time I just had to recall Abbott’s scream and… I just sat there.
“It killed him, Theo,” she softly stated, more tears falling from her eyes. “He told me to hide. He ordered me to. And damn it, I listened. I let it kill him.”
“No, you didn’t,” Theo replied sincerely. “He was right, Laz. You were right to listen to him.”
“You don’t know that,” she shot back. “Maybe I wounded it. Maybe a few more blasts might have done the trick.”
“If it could take eight shells and still wreck a steel door, it was nowhere near wounded,” Theo replied. “Abbott understood that, Laz. He made the call.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better,” she muttered.
“I came up here trying to rescue my ex-girlfriend,” I said, making my own attempt to console her. “She was dead before I arrived, but I still think about how if I had called the cops or left earlier I might have saved her. I don’t think the doubts ever leave you entirely. I don’t think you ever feel better.”
She gave me a slight frown. “I take it you don’t write Hallmark cards for a living.”
I shrugged. “I’m not known for my pep talks.” To my credit, her frown became a slight smile.
Theo stood up and went over to Abbott’s bloodstained bunk, looking at it as if visualizing his friend’s final fate, or merely morning his end. “Don’t take this the wrong way, Laz, but what bothers me is why it didn’t come after you after killing Abbott. It wasn’t like you were well hidden.”
“Well, I don’t have my guidebook on weird monsters with me,” she replied. “So your guess is as good as mine.”
I thought about it myself. The MLs really had only one goal in life – feed to reproduce. This new creature, besides clearly being more powerful, also had different tactics and priorities. Despite going after Lazlo, it had been satisfied with Abbott. How long would it be satisfied, though? A paranoid part of me wondered if we had already pressed our luck too far, and that this creature was on its way back to finish us off.
Thankfully, we were all in agreement that it was time to get the hell out of Dodge. Theo outlined the plan – Lazlo would drive Oasis while he did guard duty in the roof turret. I would man the computer desk and keep an eye on the monitors. I had enough computer knowledge to work Third Eye at an amateur level. Lazlo told me that Voyeur Four would follow Oasis on its own and that it should have enough battery power to last the trip to Crusoe, which was roughly one hundred and ten minutes away at a reasonable speed. As long as we kept moving and stopped only if absolutely necessary, we should make it back okay.
I doubted any of us thought it would go smoothly. But we kept our misgivings to ourselves as Lazlo maneuvered through a small opening that led to the driver’s seat and Theo went to his turret. I managed to get in a question about how safe the driver’s cab would be if we got attacked, and Theo casually mentioned that all the windows were ballistic glass. Good enough to thwart your average Meat Locust, but definitely not the other thing.
submitted by RTKGuy to DrCreepensVault

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