“The what?” Chip asked, incredulously. No record of The Fleshed existed, not where he came from. The strange mutant thing let out another deranged giggle.
“You Shee-Touched and your ignorance! IG-NOR-ANCE! Ignorance. We-we-WE-we are Th-the Fleshed, The Fleshed, They Who Devour! Ver-very well, how about I put it another way-WAY?”
The monstrous pile of skin and muscle mass twitched and convulsed erratically as it spoke, its face wobbling about its boneless frame as it cackled madly.
“Tell me, Shee-Touched, what happens when a -PERSON- is thrown at the speed of -LIGHT- through the void of sp-VOID OF SPACE!? Space. Your old friends, -THE SHEE-, decided to find out. With me. Me! ME! I am the result of a -HUMAN- being thrown -TWENTY- miles across -THE VOID OF SPACE- at the speed of -LIGHT-. Light!”
Chip was listening to the story, but across the village, Hope and Modo were attempting to pull Gamma out of the sea.
“Leave Gamma!” the geat was screaming, “Gamma want terminate! Gamma terminate self with ocean!”
“Gamma, you don’t have to do this,” Modo reasoned, “you can rebuild and repopulate your Ark. My pa can fix it, he can fix everything.”
“That’s right!” agreed Hope, “you don’t need to terminate, Gamma. You should stay alive. You NEED to be alive. Why do you think you have to die?”
“Because… Because… Gamma kill. Gamma murderer…” confessed the geat, “commence playback…”
And that was when the recordings played. They usually involved sounds of metal on metal impact, and crew members complaining about their jobs. None of the Ark’s crew had really enjoyed their time aboard, with the common lament of “I wish I didn’t have to do this.” Naturally, Gamma had decided to grant that wish, by shutting off the oxygen supply… And then the Great Geat Uprising had happened.
It was terrible; with nobody aboard to maintain the Ark, it fell into disrepair, and so did the Geats. They were driven insane by faulty programming and turned on one another, resulting in all-out war. Gamma was the only survivor. The logs detailing the Geat Uprising contained a single phrase that was endlessly repeated, mysterious in nature and tone:
The final three logs were nothing but those two words, repeated in a half-sane chant.
Meanwhile, halfway across Albia, a stranger looked down at the ruins below.
“Nothing. Nothing, as usual. Looks like we’re going for Plan B. Skreep!”
The diminutive Grendel at the man’s side looked up, furiously saluting. “Bring out the prisoner and tell her the location of the other Shee-Touched I’ve heard so much about. It’s time for a little family reuinion… With strings attached, naturally…”
Back with Chip, the Fleshed was still laughing with insane glee. Whatever was human about it was gone, replaced with madness and a callous disregard for the living… Then Chip had an idea. He picked up the Fleshed, and hefted it to where Hope and Modo were talking to Gamma.
“Wait!” he cried, “You didn’t kill all the crew! Look!” Chip held up the Fleshed, then hoisted it to Gamma’s view. “Hope, be a dear and fetch my tools. Daddy has some important work to do.”
Hours passed, but the eventual operation was a success. The Fleshed were wired directly into Gamma, though in such a way that his thoughts were theirs, and weaved around circuitry and wiring. Gamma was now an organic spaceship. “Now,” Chip told him, “go. Go, Gamma, and find a new Ark. The Fleshed, your new organic components, will be all you require to work one yourself.”
Gamma understood, nodded, and jetted off into the air. The whole village celebrated that night; No Fleshed meant no robotic monsters using them. Though there was one who hadn’t been in Sandstopper for these events, and Chip noticed. She seemed like an odd mix of Shee, Ettin, Norn and human DNA, with large eyes, a smallish nose and pointed ears alluding to a human body with non-human origin. Chip approached her, but she beat him to it.
“So, after all this time, I finally found you… Dad.” she smiled, a hint of Hootch on her breath, but not a highly intoxicating amount.
Chip tried to find words, but he found none. So he fainted instead.