Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day Seven-Hundred-Eight: Bad Becomes Worse


Ever since we entered the desert it's been harder and harder to get someone to keep watch on the observation deck. There are two reasons for this:

1.) We're in a desert, and there's really nothing to see; and

Consequently, and I really hate to admit this, there have been many guard shifts left completely unattended. People not on duty in Engineering, clearing away sand, have been stowed away in their cabins and hiding from the growing heat. So no one was watching, or, indeed, listening, when the swarm of beetles surged out of the north.

Desert beetles are not an unknown breed by any means. I've heard about them before, mainly via the old saying: 'Drier than a desert beetle's craw'. That does not mean I knew even the first thing about the little bastards, and in retrospect I wish I'd done some more research on the desert before coming here. They left us in rough fucking shape.

Nagi sounded the alarm first. She's the only member of the crew not much bothered by the heat. "DESERT BEETLES! GET YOUR SWORDS, QUICK!"

Popping my head out of my cabin, I yelled at her to quiet down... only to see Plato freaking out in a similar fashion, his crazy energy scythe already appearing in his hands. This set a large number of the crew off, and pretty soon a dozen ramshackle warriors were outside the Dauphine, fighting off a legion of desert beetles.

I could say that they were desperate. I could say they were stupid for taking on superior numbers. I could even say that my crew was just plain not thinking, because we could've instead attempted to outrun the relatively slow-flying beetles. They made the right call, though, because a) desert beetles don't eat or even attack other species and b) the Dauphine doesn't stand a chance in hell of escaping anything in the sand.

I joined my comrades, trying to summon up the Crimson Catastrophe but instead simply punching desert beetles away from the Dauphine's superstructure. I had to, because desert beetles eat wood. Not flesh, not greens, just wood. The Dauphine must've looked like a rolling buffet.

Perhaps two hundred beetles strong, each the size of a hand basket, the swarm was relentless. They gnawed at the wheels, the walls and the struts, tearing small chunks out of the wood with their pincers at a frenetic pace. We stabbed and beat and squashed the things as best we could, but after a long three hours of relentless, heated slaughter we were left with a disabled wheel, a gaping hole in the starboard side of Subsistence, and no mast. The little fuckers managed to chew the thing right off. Not that there's much wind to propel us right now anyway, but...

Fuck. This is bad. The Dauphine was already in rough shape. Now... now I'm wondering if it can make the trip back to Pubton, the way it's looking. And who's to say it can even provide shelter to anyone who might remain behind while I speak to Iko? What if it just keeps drawing more and more desert beetles until we're left with a roasting-hot skeleton...?

Worst. Trip. Ever. I think that's what I'm getting at.

We're spending the rest of today searching for live desert beetles in and around the Dauphine. If even one of those fuckers survives I think we'll be in big trouble.


Dragomir the Wanderer


  1. ....they only eat wood?

    I mean, I am probably oversimplifying it, and their very presence might be one of the main reasons why this desert is so large in the first place (soil erosion and all that that adds to desertification)...but how can this be an ecological niche in the desert? Are there like, a random oasis with some fast growing shrub every so often?

    1. This will actually be explained in the next month. Explained-ish.

  2. Several hours after initially reading this I had a sudden thought: What happens if those things eat Daena's tree?