Chapter 11:

In The Village

Badass (8-4D-455)

Location: Village
Health: 100%
Energy reserves: 2%

The wolverine’s fur was dark brown, long and shiny, with two bright stripes running down the sides, from the back of his head to his tail. Badger-Bart was a skilled skinner and it wasn’t long before the slain wolverine’s hide lay on the ground, with the choicest pieces of meat bundled in it. The spider-rats could have the rest. Badass watched Badger-Bart carefully as he skinned and deboned the animal. Meanwhile, Bart was happily chatting about the trek to the badger settlement.

“We need to fix some more throwing spears and large baskets to carry our catch. I have a plastic board in my house, I mark every creature I have slain here. I’ll add these spider-rats and the wolverine to the list. I’ve killed seven different kinds of animals, plus some birds, altogether over forty critters. No one in our village has got that many. When we get home, we’ll dry the hide, you can keep it, you did most of the work killing it. And I already have one wolverine skin.”

Badass was barely listening. He was wondering how to escape his sticky situation while staying on friendly terms with both sides, badgers and humans. If only he could find something to distract the village from the badger hunt. But he couldn’t think of anything and soon they were back in the village. After bragging about his new catch in front of everyone, Bart went to mark down the new accomplishments on his board and tan the hide. Badass tagged along, but didn’t step into the hut, as a disgustingly rank smell greeted him on the doorstep. Bart noticed Badass recoiling and laughed.

“It’s the tanning fluids, smells something awful, but the results are first rate. If you dry the hide without them, it becomes hard, tends to rip and rots quickly when wet. But tanning makes it nice and soft, water-proof and all that. Especially wolverine skin: sow it into a jacket and you can wander around in a torrent or explore the ice fields, it withstands everything.”

Badass nodded, but took a few steps away from the hut. He examined the building closely, thinking he had to erect his own shelter soon. Bart’s house was cobbled together out of large plastic plating of various colours and textures. It was the only building that stood apart from the others, probably because of the smell surrounding it. Most other houses were also plastic, with only two of them standing out as the exception. One was built of branches and pieces of cable, the other out of tin sheets. The tin house attracted Badass’s attention, as a blue artificial light was glowing in the doorway. Badass approached curiously and peeked in through the door.

A short, animated fellow whom the others called Tooler was sitting in the hut, tinkering with a contraption in the middle of the room. The machine was a box of about one cubic meter, seemingly consisting mostly of cogwheels, shafts and a large crank that Tooler was busily rotating. Wires led from the machine to the ceiling, where a blue spark of light was glowing in an ancient plastic bottle. Seeing Badass, he gave a jubilant shout.

“I got it running! It works at last!”

“What is it?” asked Badass, stepping in.

“A generator! Now we can charge our nanobots!” cheered Tooler. His scratched and sweaty face shone with excitement, much brighter than the feebly glowing lamp in the ceiling. “It’s true it doesn’t give much power yet, but still, a slight jolt for everyone. Just needs a lot of cranking.”

If I could get energy, I could talk to the badgers again, thought Badass. Then I can go and warn them about Bart.

“Let’s try it, charge me,” offered Badass. Tooler’s cunning eyes narrowed.

“What will I get in return?” he asked. Badass quickly thought of his possessions: a primitive axe, a wolverine skin and a spawn of spider-rat eggs that he and Bart had brought home from the hunt. He offered the eggs and Tooler agreed. When they had been handed over, Tooler had Badass place his hand on the generator’s induction plate and rotated the large crank. It took a while, but finally the smart tattoo on Badass’s arm lit up and Skinny’s soft artificial voice announced: “Computer restarting.”

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