Dead Planet XXVII

Dead Planet XXVII

“A memory is an abstraction from
reality and, as such, is not perfectly
accurate. Always keep in mind that
the nervous system records not
sense-impressions but our reactions
to and interpretations of them.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

Rick: “That Lizard, he recognized me.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “How'd you know he was a Lizard?”

Rick: “I can smell one a block off.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Oh, don't worry about Dreck. He's on my payroll. Practically a partner. Me and him, we're like that. [Cabby holds up his twisted index and middle finger together like a Lizard’s crooked claw]

Rick: “Experience has taught me never to trust a Lizard. Just when you think one's all right, he turns legit.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: [laughs]

Rick: “Marty, when I think of all those Lizards & Creepazoids you come in contact with—downright slimy Snakes—I get all creeped out, Marty. The Creepazoids are bad enough—they’re just renegade droids. But the Lizards—they’re just slimy no-good extraterrestrial Snakes. Who knows where the fuck they’re from?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Oh, there's nothing so different about them. After all, crime is only... a left-handed form of exo-human endeavor.”

Rick: Huh?

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “What if I told you the Lizards and Snakes are Old Guard Slimebags? They’ve been around a long time—like all the way back to the jizzy Jurassic. And then some?”

Rick: “So what?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Well, put yourself in their crocodile skin for just as second—if you can stand it. Like this whole system was theirs for a long time. Then something happened.”

Rick: “Yeah, like what? Some Exterminators got rid of them?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah, kinda. Now you’re catchin on, Deckard. There were a couple of solar flares that fried Earth real bad—even if they knew it was coming, it was the end of the game for their Zoo World. Earth was a Lizard Planet—and they made the most of it. They had atomics—just like us. It’s the same old Evo-Devo Techno-Trip—you know, like Tyrell & TerraCorp were into.”

Rick: “Yeah, so what?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “C’mon, Deckard. You should know all this Solar System Crap by now. What did they teach you in school anyway—besides how to fuckin’ play with yourself?”

Rick: “Yeah, I know. Shit happens, that’s all. The same with the Tikal pyramids—the kid mind-melded me with all that shit. That’s what the Lizards are worried about—the Mayan Mob might want in on the action.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Can you blame ‘em? Look at me—and my setup. I’d had to adjust—that’s the name of the game. The same with the Venusian Japanese Yakuza—and the Titan Mob. We’re all in the same racket—it’s always been that way, Rick.”

Rick: [Yawns. Lights up a Lucky Strike.]

Tyrell (Lizard Lord): “Haven't you bothered me enough, you stupid banana-head?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Well, Deckard isn’t makin’ much progress. We won't either—if we don’t find out where that Nexus droid kid is. He’s not very far off, that's for sure. As long as we keep an eye out on Deckard. He’s a tricky one—that Deckard dick. He’s plays dumb—even when he’s dumb. But he’s got some of the Nexus shit in his mind—that REM stuff the kid got him into. Other than that—Deckard hasn't got enough guts left in his cowardly body to keep a weasel alive.”

Tyrell (Lizard Lord): “Don’t underestimate weasels, dumb shit naked ape-human. You’re just a naked ape weasel yourself, banana-head. You’re lucky we keep some of you humanoids around for our dirty work. Otherwise, Augustine—you’ve been history a long time ago.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: [Seethes in disgust, especially self-disgust & loathing. His Terra gangster pride & Martian warlord masculinity gets insulted by the Lizard Lord prick every time they talk. People had been cheated, robbed, murdered, raped—all in the name of Marty “The Martian” Augustine & his associates on Venus & Titan. But the Lizard Empire is ten times worse. It goes 24 hours a day, every day in the solar year. Ever since the Invasion. And that's not just the exception—it’s the fuckin’ usual. SSDD—the same on every planet in the solar system. But the Lizards were smart. They kept an ersatz police force, good or bad—to do their dirty work. Supposedly to enforce monkey law & order—who could do it better than Marty “The Martian” Augustine? Collaboration with the Lizards—insured silence & a cut in the Action. At least for now anyway. Nobody to monkey-shine anymore, nobody to play monkey-games. The struggle is over—even before it begins. The jungle wins. The predatory Lizards take over.]

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Here's to the drink habit. It's the only one I got that don't get me into trouble.”

Rick: “One way or another, we all work for our vice.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Why don't you quit your fuckin’ cryin' and get me some decent bourbon?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Easy, Big Boy. Nobody talks to me that way. Not even the Lizard slime-droids. Fix him a real drink, will ya Rick?”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “Don't fuckin’ bone me!”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Relax, kid. I need you as my Heavy. For me—not against me. You’re my junkyard dog & most trusted bodyguard. Save your male hormones—for the next job. It’s comin’ up pretty soon—the way things are lookin’ kinda nice.”

[Marty is a shift-eyed one. He plays his cards—smoother than a Mississippi gambler on the Delta Queen Starship. It ran in his genes—all the way back to his Memphis bootleggin’ granddaddy—way back on Earth during the Depression ‘30s. The Lizards were a new twist—they were wise to his crooked cards & signals. He needed time to figure things out.]

Dix Handley the Heavy: “I’m so goddamn broke, I'd fly you to the North Pole for a lousy $50…”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “We’ll get by, Dix. Just play it cool—and do exactly what I say. The Lizards gotta have a secret Achilles ankle—we just gotta find out how to manage it, that’s all.”

[Rick looks at Marty the Kingfish—strutting around, bragging about the odds. But he doesn’t trust him—Marty didn’t get where he was—playin’ by the rules. He had to play by the Lizard Law now tho—whether he liked it not. Tyrell & his scientists—plus the corporate pirates from TerraCorp. They’d been Earth’s last hope. They had their hands on the exo-weapon racket—but they didn’t know yet how it worked. That’s where the kid & the Predictress came in—thru the backdoor. All that pyramid tech stuff— needed Nexus finesse. And then some…]

Rick: “Let's cool it for now. Wait till we hear from Titan Town. What they got planned—if they’re still alive. We gotta stick it out—here on Mars & Hellas Town for awhile. Later we gotta get down & dirty. This Lizard game we’re all playing—it’s just a holding pattern. The Snakes & the Creeps got their own plans—and it don’t involve us. Sneaky plans for the whole works. Relax, Dix. Play dumb—and go with it. Everything will happen—quickly all at once. Have a drink, have a smoke. Go in comfort, kid.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “I can see you're a man who likes his pleasures, Rick.”

Rick: “Well, Marty. What else can we do, hmmm?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “In some ways, I suppose Tyrell is the most dangerous of them all. He was a hardened high-tech corporate dictator in the first place. A genuine true-blue ruthless TerraCorp hooligan anyway. But now he’s either dead or avatared by a lizard-droid. Without a single drop of human blood, feeling or fuckin’ mercy. Lizards are for lizards. Us goddamn monkeys—we aren’t worth shit right now, right Rick?

Rick: “There’s nothin’ we can do right now. I’m waitin’ to hear from the kid—and the Predictress. They took the interzone express somewhere—we’re not in contact anymore. For all I know—we’ve lost them. Like Tyrell. Unless they found a wormhole—or something. Why should they even wanna come back?”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: The Lizards—they probably got them. Look what they did with Tyrell. They sucked out his brains—and gave him a Lizard soul. All his fuckin’ Nexus droid-devils—didn’t protect him, did they? So it don’t look good—him getting’ outta there. The Martian Mafia is shit & shambles—the Venusian yakuza are underground hiding.” Dix Handley the Heavy: “Organized interplanetary crime—what a fuckin’ joke. It ain’t Organized anymore—it ain’t Interplanetary anymore. It’s cold-blooded fuckin’ Lizard Time out there no—and they’re dumbing us down fast. The Snakes out-snaked us guyz, Mr. Augustine. They’re more cunning & cold-blooded than even you are.”

Rick: “Yeah, well, the TerraCorp gangsters knew all that, Dix. Deals were made—we’ll probably never know how many backroom deals came down. But here we are now—all of us outcasts and deviants from society. Goodbye monkey-brains—hello Snake Eyes.”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “How about the TerraCorp heavies—the corporate mafia? How could they chicken out that way? Surely they knew you can’t make deals with Snakes?”

Rick: “Forget it, Dix. TerraCorp was the first to fold. Then they seduced Tyrell over to the Dark Side of the Force—with all that ESP-Reverse Engineering stuff. Throw in a little genetic tweak-tech & backtracking here & there—then all of a sudden you’ve got a Nexus droid marine & space navy. Plus all that Krell bullshit down there—in skanky Mars City underground. Oh well…”

Dix Handley the Heavy: “It ain’t fair—we fuckin’ screwed ourselves being greedy.”

Marty “The Martian” Augustine: “Yeah, you & Rick are right. We screwed ourselves big time. The dayz of buying off the judge and playin’ games with an imbecile jury—all that bullshit’s over now.”

[They all sit mulling in the beach-house twilight. Listening to the soothing fake surf sounds—rolling in & out. But also there’s an omnipresent faint whizzing sound—Lizard disks cruising the coagulated Martian sky leaving snake-trails behind their surveillance drones.]

No comments: