• Published 22nd Apr 2019
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Enchorus - GMBlackjack



Stories set in the Songs of the Spheres multiverse written by a variety of authors.

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Contraband Codec (TheNewGuy)

Are you someone good with languages and have an unfortunate surplus of happiness? If so, then you might want to apply for my job. What do I mean? Well, I guess I should start from the beginning.

Our story starts many hundreds of years ago, or even thousands if you believe the crazier theories. You see, once upon a time, our ancestors lived alongside many different races we used to dismiss in the "modern" era as mere myths. When I say “alongside”, I mean it in the dimensional sense. You see, there were these naturally occurring Script-Slip portals that…

Actually, never mind. I can see this much detail is boring you. The long and short of it is this: a few years ago the government in this country came clean with a real doozy of a secret. They had figured out how to reopen ancient, hidden dimensional portals to many different worlds. Yes, alternate worlds exist. After some Stargate-like adventures—I am using a “local” reference for your benefit—they discovered that many of these had intelligent life that was oddly human-like, in a way. Right now the public knows about types of “Unusual” like noble-fumes, lamias, and lycanthropes. The whole “Unusual” thing is the new hot topic dominating political conversations, with a lot of old arguments repeating themselves in a new context.

What does that have to do with me hating my job, you ask? Well, you see, where there are different societies, there are people who will want to go to them. Whether it is Unusual or human, another world probably sounds like an interesting place to visit. Unfortunately, centuries of marinating in isolation has made the already highly alien Unusual cultures difficult for humans to interact with. There are still far too few people who can even hold a conversation in a single Unusual language.

That is where I come in. A while ago I woke up in a hospital bed surrounded by a bunch of government employees. I had no memories, no identification, and a wicked wound on my forehead. I had apparently been discovered getting violently ejected from a portal like a rag doll. The physical wounds healed pretty quickly, but my mind was not so lucky. On the other hand, what I did have was a bizarre ability to understand languages and get a point across. That was fortunate since the best thing to be in my situation was useful.

And damn was I ever useful for bridging the gap between humans and Unusual-kind. It seemed like every time the government needed an interpreter for an important job I got packed up and shipped off somewhere new. Being such a valued domain expert does not seem so bad, you say? Well, think again. Sometimes my job feels like being a puppet with my master’s hand far up places that are not fit to be mentioned in polite company. Often times people will get mad at me when the person I am translating for says something they are upset about. It is a real hassle overall, but at least it pays the bills.

“Hey. Hey, Cody!” A voice calling me by my assigned name snapped me out of my internal musing, “Are you in there? I was asking if we should pick up something to eat before talking with this guy.”

“No, thank you. I’m not hungry,” I replied to my current handler and driver, Veronica.

“You never seem hungry,” she deadpanned, “In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat. Between that and all that hologram stuff, are you sure that you’re even human?”

“Well according to all my medical exams, I am,” I said plainly.

“Fine then. We’re almost there anyway,” Veronica sighed, pulling into a parking lot a minute later.

As we exited our car and walked toward the police building, I took it in. It looked like a rather secure facility. Everyone seemed on higher alert than I would have expected. I even saw some federal agents talking with the local authorities inside. As we walked, I tried to calm myself.

“Remember, this one seems erratic and possibly violent. They picked him up after a pretty big smuggling bust after all.” Veronica chimed in, evidently thinking the same thing I was, “His name is J’tosh U’uk, an ogre. He’s a known felon, but we thought he had died back in the Ai-Lo City incident. That’s part of what you’re going to be asking him about, actually.”

“So a violent criminal with superhuman strength and durability. Just what I always wanted. How’d you know?” I snarked as I materialized a large “thumbs up” in front of us.

“Best save the sass for J’Tosh,” she answered plainly, walking through my hologram without slowing down.

“Alright. Just try not to die while we’re in there,” I sighed, “You’re more useful to me alive than dead.”

“Oh, so you do care!” she said sarcastically as she rolled her eyes.

We were promptly escorted to the cell where J’Tosh was held. I briefly wondered why we were going to the cells instead of an interrogation room, but that immediately evaporated as soon as I saw him. He was big, really big, even for an ogre. Even seated and hunched over he was taller than most people, with thick slabs of powerful muscle filling out his frame. It was a miracle they were able to get him into a cell even if he cooperated, which I was dubious about.

Chains were haphazardly wrapped around him and secured to anchor points in his heavy-duty Unusual cell. I suspected they did not want him moving much and normal cuffs just would not cut it. Out of arm’s reach from the cell there were several soldiers holding machine guns, ready to light up the prisoner if necessary. All this meant he was probably not going to be moved easily. The exposed parts of the ogre’s skin were thoroughly tattooed with various iconography. I spotted a gang-related one as well as a mesh of stars arranged in a configuration denoting several other unsavory affiliations. I would need to tell Veronica about that once we were back out of earshot. The significance of those things was often lost on humans, especially ones who had not been off-world much.

The ogre was staring at the floor with a bored expression as we approached. When our footsteps eventually stopped in front of the cell, he looked up with a derisive scowl. The first thing I noticed was his brutishly ugly face. Jeez, what a mug. Now, I am not saying to judge people based on their appearance, but his face was supremely truthful advertising. Everything about it somehow seemed to scream “felon”. All this lasted mere moments as he sized up his visitors each in turn. Then, something odd happened.

So’ota Rontyr Ci’im! Help! It’s the Rontyr!” J’Tosh screamed bloody murder as he locked eyes with me, “Rontyr! Rontyr!

He trashed against his bindings with all his strength and I feared for a moment he would break free. The soldiers present rushed forward and began barking commands to J’Tosh. Veronica and I quickly slipped back out of view from the cell. I was not in a hurry to get caught in the crossfire if they needed to start shooting. We listened by the entrance to the cellblock for a few tense minutes before it seemed like J’Tosh finally calmed down. That or he had a heart attack based on how manic he looked. What he had said after getting a good look at me was worrying though.

There was no direct translation for it that captured the exact nuances. Overall though, the feeling it was meant to evoke could be translated quite clearly. Now I had the awkward job of telling Veronica, who had been looking at me in shock the entire time, about what all that was about. Unfortunately, I did not know much more than her other than the translation.

Rontyr. “The Calamity”.

Sometimes, I really hated my job.

Author's Note:

By TheNewGuy.

TNG:
No, this is not an SI and Cody is not meant to be me. I just felt first-person fit better in this case. I am not sure if I will keep it like that if I continue this.

GM:
He ended up not continuing it, so now this stands alone. If you appreciated this story, you should really check out TNG's longer work: The MORI Corporation. Currently the longest SotS sidestory aside from the ones I myself write. It's also really, really good, though it has next to nothing to do with the MU or SotS actual plot. I do visit the world he creates in ARC 9 though, if that means anything.
Sometimes I do wonder what the Rontyr is, though...

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