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“Is that your trike?” Uscanth asked Barbara as the two of them approached the parking lot.

“Hell no,” Barbara replied as she pulled out her keys. Just ahead of them stood three parked vehicles: a trike, a hybrigyro and a hybribike.

When Uscanth heard the click of the hybigyro’s doors unlock the male Drall was quite relieved.

“So how is the campaign going?” Uscanth asked as the two of them got into the hybrigyro and buckled their seat belts.

“It could be better,” Barbara said as she ignited the hybrigyro’s engine and deactivated the parking anchor, “Ever since the hyperspace storm was discovered two months ago half of the people have been talking about leaving. Two thousand have left already—mostly humans and aliens, but the Drallians and the Marlon Chaan have stayed put.”

As Barbara was speaking she rotated the hybrigyro 135 degrees to the right and punched the rear chopper once the hybrigyro reached an altitude of seventy-five meters. The space port and its parking lot were on the western outskirts of Research Colony-35, approximately three kilometers away from the colony hub and their destination would be five kilometers to the north of the hub.

“He still cares for you, you know,” Uscanth said as the hybrigyro accelerated to 100 kilometers per hour. Under ordinary circumstances the two of them would have waited for the monorail, but time was of the essence.

Barbara sighed and turned her head towards the coastline that lined the western side of the colony. Giant waves crashed against jagged cliffs as Hera’s gravity reached out at the mid afternoon tide. “I know,” she said at last. “I just can’t think about that right now. Too much is at stake.”

“I understand,” Uscanth said as he stroked two of his facial tentacles and gazed at the seemingly endless savannah to the east. A herd of two dozen Crinomilvum volanaraborisen—“flying Spaghetti Monsters” was what the colonists called them—hovered twenty-five meters above the ground a kilometer away, making their characteristic cello-like hums as they drifted toward the northeast. “So…I uh, heard the leaves are starting to fall in the southern hemisphere” the Drall said awkwardly.

“Yep,” Barbara nodded, “My father took me up there to see it once when I was a little girl. There aren’t nearly as many deciduous trees on Kanangar as a lot of the terraformed worlds, but autumn here can still be quite beautiful as long as you look in the right places. It was right before we celebrated Halloween—you ever heard of that holiday?”

“Of course I’ve heard of Halloween,” Uscanth said eagerly, “It’s one of the most famous human holidays throughout the TriGalactic—what’s not to love about a bunch of strangers coming to your door one night a year and extorting factory-grade candy from you. The kids on Starbase Equador do it every year!”

“I agree, it’s one my favorite holidays. The annual carnival at the recreation commons is a lot of fun too. When I was younger I used to go into the ZeroG room for apple bobbing, and let me tell yah, that was quite a challenge.”

“Perhaps for you,” the Drall teased, “I imagine that I would be quite good at it.”

“Well yeahhh,” Barbara laughed, “You got all those tentacles sticking out of your face.”

After a few more moments Uscanth got serious again, “You know, Barbara, if this meeting goes well I may be able to convince the Yaga mothership to relocate here.”

“Well, we could certainly use their supplies,” Barbara confided as she turned to look back at her Drallian friend, “It will take some time before all of our botany labs are retrofitted into food production but the main drag is the lack of spare parts. But thank God my father had the foresight to get that heavy water refinery up and running.”

“So does everyone still think he died of a heart attack?” Uscanth asked cautiously.

“Hell if I know,” Barbara shrugged, “Seems to me like half the people don’t have time to think about it and the other half wouldn’t care anyway.”

“I hope that’s not true,” Uscanth replied as the hybrigyro drew near to the Drall Cultural Center. Below them several passengers loaded into a monorail train that moved southward as the hybrigyro hovered twenty-five meters above the top of the track and approached the parking lot that lay along the outskirts of the Temple of Serenity.

“Well, I guess a week from now we’ll find out,” Barbara said stoically as she landed the hybrigyro into one of the spaces below. The Temple of Serenity’s gardens sprawled out before them in maze-like 50x50 meter blocks around the facility.

As Barbara turned on the parking anchor and switched off the combustion engine Uscanth turned to her and gave her a serious look. “Remember to stay alert and do not let down your guard,” the Drall said, “Although you will see them treat me with great respect, you must not conduct yourself around them the same way I do when I greet customers in my pub. They will be judging you from the time you step foot in the Temple until the moment you walk out, and you must be ready to answer any questions the Avower of Knowledge throws at you.”

“I understand,” Barbara said as they opened their doors and unloaded. As the two of them walked past the edge of the parking lot and made their way through the maze of gardens and fountains the two of them could hear the hour long mid afternoon mantra for which the Drall were so intuitively known for: “…Dralllllllllllllllllllllll…”
This story is set in the OPaaT Universe and was written for the #Sci-Fan-Horror Halloween Prompt Contest sci-fan-horror.deviantart.com/…. I chose the "ZeroG apple bobbing" prompt :)

Word Count: 925


Story-related links:

Sequel:  A Meeting with the Avower of Knowledge fav.me/d6sk874

Kanangar Prime fav.me/d57lnn7

RC35: Spaceport Parking Lot fav.me/d6qtyoy

Barbara fav.me/d62laml

Uscanth fav.me/d6b5gvq

Jack fav.me/d5d5gsy

A Drall fav.me/d5d5gi6

A Marlon Chaan fav.me/d6qag0m

Marlon Chaan Cultural Center fav.me/d6qakst

Drallian Cultural Center fav.me/d6q07pz

Colony Hub fav.me/d5p1kaz

Recreation Commons fav.me/d5diibd

RC35 fav.me/d5o9904

Annotated Map of Kanangar Prime fav.me/d6c16oj

"Flying Spaghetti Monster" fav.me/d5dm2ws

The Kanangar Sector fav.me/d5gb0r0
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:iconcrimsonfalke:
CrimsonFALKE Featured By Owner May 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
why do you have no comments I mean this is great. Well guess what I am looking at your drawings trying to aid you and I stumble upon this and say this is great. Yet no comments, shit thats not right.
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:iconspace-commander:
space-commander Featured By Owner May 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the positive feedback.  You know what's really funny is that the group I submitted this to had a really low turnout for this contest, so much so that they actually extended the deadline for this thing after myself and one other person had submitted something.  And then there were all these annoy journal updates where the group was more or less like, 'waah, waah, not many people entered the contest.  we need to get more people to submit stuff'

Honestly, I would have been happy even if just one of the admins had commented once but I didn't even get that, so I don't even know if the people running that were neglectful or just plain stupid because the whole point of entering a contest is to have a guaranteed amount of attention for a given piece.  Most people don't even care about prizes but alas, most dA groups seem to operate this way too.  One exception is the dA Writer's Guild.  If you submit something to one of their quarterly contests the admin at least has the respect to provide well thought out summaries of submission pieces in the journal updates fav.me/d7ctmqe  
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:iconcrimsonfalke:
CrimsonFALKE Featured By Owner May 10, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hell I know about all these lame writing groups, I posted this story crimsonfalke.deviantart.com/ar… now to get comments I needed to cut it down to under 1000 words and the only comment I get is from a friend who passed by it cause he saw the lead character's image. I mean seriously the groups here don't do a thing and I think I am just a quick learner but dA isn't for writers or at least people looking for solid critique.

I've entered and left so many writing groups because nothing came of my membership. Hell I only found you by chance when you faved the Qualurian image. I went to a writing site as well but only had one person comment telling me to post it as an ebook on some website. Its hard out here for a writer.
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:iconspace-commander:
space-commander Featured By Owner May 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
The thing that ticks me off the most is the hypocrisy of it all.  There are 1,000 amateur writers out there who decide to make groups and then go around gobbling up art so that people will notice their group and then maybe check out the galleries of the admins.  When these groups get big enough (1000+ members) NO ONE watches them because too many deviations are flowing through to comfortably view on a weekly basis and they just turn into these cliquish black holes.  As for why it is so difficult to get quality critiques the main reason is because dA itself doesn't do a good job of screening out teenagers as well as stupid adults who go ballistic whenever they encounter criticism.  That being said though dA is still the place to go if you want to post literature that will actually get read by people who will give honest feedback--believe me, I've looked for other platforms and none of the social networks are any better.  A lot of sites use this BS karma system in order to get people to comment, but if you think about it that's actually not any better than what we are up against because in that system you end up getting feedback that is worse than useless and it's even harder than it is here to find writers who are halfway talented in genres of interest.  
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:iconcrimsonfalke:
CrimsonFALKE Featured By Owner May 10, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well thats also true I mean I have a group and I want my 23 or so people to contribute art and well I end up having to post it for them! I mean yeah 1000 members and then boom everything just flows in at random comments are just about luck now. Yeah I will agree this is a better sight than anything else I figured I'd leave the writers nook for here at least my drawing can be here along with my written work.
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:iconspace-commander:
space-commander Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
So the trick to running a successful group is to ensure that whenever art goes through the submission process it actually gets new faves and comments that it did have before as well as using the journal section to enhance the sense of community there.  Contests are great for highlighting people who are community-oriented and features & discussions are also good because they allow you to quickly figure out who your friends are.  If you ever find that the activity level is low just invite 20 new people that week and go from there.  It's also important to have a mechanism for narrowing down the amount of art that flows through each week so you don't burn out your watchers:  if quality control is out of the question then try either project-based guidelines or some other system of bylaws that require people who submit stuff to take time to get to know how your group operates, etc. 
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:iconcrimsonfalke:
CrimsonFALKE Featured By Owner May 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
thanks for the help yet again
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