[font="'trebuchet ms', helvetica, sans-serif;"][color=#008080;]I came up with the idea for this short story when I read the instructions for the Ambage contest. But when I realized that the story couldn't be about Bionicle, I decided to instead write this independant story instead of entering. Happy reading![/color][/font]
“We’re here!” shouted Ackar to Malum, seeing the walls of the hamlet ahead of them. After three hours of riding on Sand Stalkers, they and their companion had arrived at “the settlement.”
“About time!” said Malum, who was getting very hot under the collar both literally and figuratively. “I can’t stand this little runt’s blabbering any longer!” The “little runt” in question was an ice Agori that was riding in front of Malum on the Glatorian’s sand stalker.
Ackar used his hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun, and said to his partner, “Calm down, Malum. Just be patient for a few more minutes and we’ll be on our way.”
“You should listen to Glatorian Ackar, Malum,” said the ice Agori. “He is an astute fellow, and you could learn much from him.”
Malum muttered something incoherent, and then said, “I don’t need etiquette lessons from an Agori.”
“I beg your pardon?” said the Agori, genuinely shocked. “I am no Agori! I am Certavus, the greatest Glatorian to walk Bara Magna.”
“Certavus is dead and buried,” said Ackar flatly. “You’re an Agori, little fellow. Accept it.”
“I don’t know why I’ve suddenly shrunk,” said the Agori, smiling, “but I know for sure that I am very much alive.”
Malum rolled his eyes, and gave a snort of annoyance. At least we’re here, finally, he thought as he directed his sand stalker to the hitching post by the palisade surrounding the settlement. He dismounted his sand stalker, “Certavus” following him. He and the Agori joined Ackar at the gate, where they met a water Agori.
“Hello, I’m Jann,” said the water Agori to Ackar, smiling, “and I welcome you to my humble facility. Do you have a patient for me?”
“Yes, sir, we do,” said Ackar. “This Agori thinks he’s Certavus.”
“I am Certavus,” said the Agori with a laugh. “Just you try and fight me in the arena!”
“I did fight Certavus once,” said Ackar, “back in my younger days.”
Jann went to the ice Agori and said, “Alright, Mr. … Certavus, where are you?”
“Bara Magna,” said “Certavus.”
“And what is the date?”
“999,999 years after the Shattering.”
"And who is the prime Glatorian of Tesara?”
“Why, Vastus, of course!”
Jann thought for a moment, and said, “Alright, I think we’ve seen enough. Ackar, could I talk to you for moment?”
“Certainly,” the fire Glatorian said. The two walked off several feet away from Malum and the ice Agori. They appeared to be deep in conversation, with Ackar pointing behind him at the ice Agori one time, and at one point, their voices were raised.
“I wonder what they’re talking about?” said “Certavus” to Malum.
“Beats me,” said Malum. “It’s probably about you.”
Finally, Ackar and Jann finished speaking, and came back to Malum and “Certavus.” Jann turned to address Malum and “Certavus,” saying, “Mr. Certavus, if you will kindly follow me, I will show you your new lodgings.” He said to Malum and Ackar, “Would you like to come along to? I would be glad to give you a tour of the facility.”
“We don’t have time—” began Malum, before Ackar interrupted him.
“We’d be honored if you showed us the facility,” said the elder Glatorian. “Right, Malum?”
Malum rolled his eyes again and said, “Right.” Perfect, he thought. A grand tour of the madhouse.
Malum, Ackar, the ice Agori, and Jann entered the settlement. The facility consisted of several stone buildings encircling a central square, all surrounded by the wooden palisade wall. There were patients, doctors and attendants milling about the compound, which could not have looked shabbier.
“We are privileged to be one of the finest mental health facilities on Bara Magna,” said Jann, gesturing to a group of patients sitting in a circle. “We provide state of the art care to Agori and Glatorian of all walks of life.” Malum noticed then that there weren’t just Agori in the facility, but a few Glatorian too.
“Where do they all come from?” asked Ackar.
“All over,” said Jann. “Some have been out in the sun too long, others suddenly began their history as deviants without a clear cause. The one thing they all have in common is that they all need help. And we’re here to give it to them.”
As Jann extolled the virtues of the facility, Malum pulled Ackar aside and said, “Just what were you and the doctor talking about anyway?”
“He wanted to know about the patient’s history,” said Ackar, “whether he was violent or not. I managed to convince him that our boy wouldn’t be very safe wandering around thinking he was Certavus.”
“Right, right,” said Malum. “I’m just glad he’s off our hands now.”
Suddenly, a shrill voice called out, echoing around the compound, “Stop that Zesk!” Malum turned toward the direction the voice was coming from to see a jungle Agori chasing a Zesk, one of the smaller cousins of the Vorax, the Zesk carrying some kind of bag in its mouth.
“I’ve got it!” said Ackar, as he broke off from the group to give chase. The ice Agori joined him, saying, “Never fear! Certavus is here!”
Malum and Jann watched the absurd sight before them, as Ackar, the jungle Agori, and “Certavus” ran around in circles, chasing the Zesk. Malum only stood back and laughed. Finally, Ackar and the two Agori cornered the Zesk, and Ackar pounced on it. After a brief struggle, Ackar took the bag from the Zesk, and kicked the miniature Vorax away. “Beat it! Scram!” he said, as the Zesk ran out the gateway of the settlement.
Malum clapped his hands together, and said, “Ackar, I want to thank you. That was the funniest thing I’ve seen all day! Ha ha ha ha!”
Ackar didn’t share Malum’s mirth. “I’m glad you’re amused,” he said, shouldering past Malum. “You could have helped. I almost threw my back out.”
“I’m not the speedy kind of guy,” said Malum. “I’d only have got in the way.”
“Never mind,” said Ackar, who then turned to Jann. “If the tour is over,” he said to the doctor, “we’d best be going now.”
“It was my pleasure to have you here,” said Jann, “and thank you for assisting my cook.”
“Yes,” said the jungle Agori. “If it weren’t for you, that animal would have stolen all of my sand bat meat.”
“I’m just glad I could help,” said Ackar. “C’mon Malum. Let’s go.”
Ackar and Malum turned to leave the settlement, when a voice behind him said, “Bye, fellows!”
Ackar turned around and said, “Bye, Certavus.”
The two Glatorian left the settlement, mounted their sand stalkers, and began to head south, towards Vulcanus. “That was an… interesting experience,” said Ackar. “I always thought the settlements were bedlam houses of some sort. Guess I was wrong.”
“It seemed pretty crazy to me,” said Malum grumpily. “You’ll never see me surrounded by animals, living in the desert. No sir.”