The Travellers of Gor
By George Woodruff
He awoke with a start. Something had disturbed his sleep and he looked about himself with uncertainty. Nothing was familiar. He had been sleeping in a room that he did not remember, furnished outlandishly in a simple, Spartan style and seemingly bereft of doors. He was startled as a section of wall moved and revealed a passageway. A man stood in the access way, dressed in a white robe.
'Who the hell is this freak?' he wondered, for the man was bald, his pate shaven like one of those skin head punks that loitered about the city centre accosting passers by for cigarettes and spare change and yelling epithets at those who did not deign to part with either commodities.
"Tal," the bald man said as he stepped into the room, "I trust you slept well Jon."
"Huh?" Jon replied, recognising his name. "Do I know you?"
"No," replied the man, somewhat surprised by Jon's attitude. "I am Maximus, I'm here to brief you on your mission."
"What mission, nazi boy?" Jon barked. Maximus stopped dead in his tracks and seemed confused. "Listen you idiotic skin head, I don't know where you stupid ass pukes get off on abducting me, but this is going to get bloody nasty on your ass pretty damn fast. I suggest you get me home P. D. Q. or I will rip you a new one!" Maximus looked worried at Jon's outburst and stepped back into the passageway. "Where the hell do you think you're going Gestapo boy?" Jon jumped from the slab he'd been sleeping on and cracked his head on the low ceiling. "Jesus Shit!" he managed to bellow between rebounding off of the ceiling and collapsing in an awkward pile on the floor.
"What seems to be the problem?" a mechanical voice asked.
"The problem is..." Jon stopped in mid-sentence as he saw the speaker with the mechanical voice, before him stood a giant, golden Praying Mantis, behind which Maximus was now sheltering. "Holy shit!" Jon exhaled in surprise and stepping back, tripped over the sleeping slab and launched himself in the air.
"You said he was a formidable human, an accomplished and graceful martial artist?" the insect berated Maximus in its mechanical voice.
"That's what my informants told me," Maximus replied, his voice still shaking as he regarded Jon, who was swearing and struggling out of the sleeping furs that he had become entangled with. The insect addressed Jon.
"You are Jon Carlton?"
"Yes!" Jon growled as he managed to extricate himself from the encumbering folds of the sleeping furs.
"You reside in the city of Hamilton?"
"Yes, Mothra, I do, what's it to you?" Jon, who had decided that none of this was real, had decided to calm down and cut back on the swearing. "Are we going to play twenty questions or are you going to get to the point?" The insect looked at Maximus, who returned a look of incomprehension at the Mothra reference. It returned its attention to Jon and continued.
"Very well. I am Vash, what the humans here call a 'Priest-King.' You were brought here because of your special skills. They are needed to help us in our fight against the Kur. In exchange for your services, we are willing to give you wealth, longevity and many slaves..." Jon interrupted it.
"Slaves!" He then shook his head, realising that he was only further delaying the summation of this annoying dream and waved for the bug to continue.
"Yes Jon Carlton, slaves, pleasure slaves to answer your every whim..."
"Can we get on with what you want me to do?" Jon interjected irritably. The bug seemed surprised by his attitude but continued.
"Very well, Jon Carlton..." Again Jon interrupted.
"Vash, is it?" Vash nodded. "You can call me Jon, since we're on first name terms here." Vash paused to consider this and Jon looked about while the bug processed this latest information. He noticed some fruit over on a table and sauntered over to it, or tried to, he noticed that he seemed to be a little clumsy on his feet, that normal movements seemed to become exaggerated. 'What the hell did I drink last night?' he wondered to himself as he compensated for the seemingly lower gravity.
Vash watched him make his way across the room and then continued. "Very well, Jon, we need you to infiltrate a band of humans who are suspected of working for the Kur and determine if they are actually in their employ or not."
"Fair enough, what sort of tools will I get to use for the job?"
"Maximus will show you all the weaponry and equipment, as he is more suited for the demonstration than I am," Vash replied.
"Fair enough. So, when I've determined if," and here he adopted a goofy German accent, "ze Kur-mans are vhat yew ex-pect zey are, vhat zen?" Vash looked at Maximus who again gave him a shrug of incomprehension. Jon rolled his eyes in annoyance and biting into a piece of fruit, chewed for a few minutes before restating his question without the silly accent.
"Ah!" Vash responded. "Once you have ascertained their allegiance, we will be able to take matters into our own hands, as it were." Vash flashed his frontal appendages by way of explanation.
"Okay," Jon looked at Maximus, who was still hiding somewhat behind the tall aesthetic form of the bug. "Come on sunshine, we've work to do." Jon carefully made his way over to the cowering bald human.
"Good, I am glad to see that you are eager to proceed. Once you have been debriefed, Maximus will bring you to the centre for outfitting." With that, Vash turned and in a series of leaps and graceful bounds, disappeared down the hall and around a distant corner.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
The Travellers of Gor ©2003 by George Woodruff
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