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A Song of Stars and Galaxies


The Mightiest Mario
ZD Champion
Mar 27, 2020

The night sky shined with multitudes of celestial bodies as a group of four Humans crossed the Orcoz desert. A family ready to rest and recharge after a long day's journey, they had been migrating across the desert to escape the heat the moon became covered in every second rotation. Thankfully, the temperature had dropped from a blistering heat to a warm breeze. They came to a large rock, perfect to take a breather before the next leg of their migration. The husband stretched and took off the heavy travel bag attached to his back. The wife brushed her auburn hair beside her and laid against the rock, fiddling with a necklace that dangled down her chest. Two young children, a boy with brown hair like his father and a girl with her hair done in a bun, were chasing each other around the rock, clearly not tired in the slightest.

"Give it back, Max! I can't sleep without it!" the girl cried to her older brother, Max, who was faster than her. He held a small plush toy of a dinosaur-like creature and as he ran around the rock, the toy would get thrown in the air and to the other side of the rock. Max would pick it up and throw it again, angering his sister more and more.

"You gotta be quicker than that, Allie! Ha, ha!" Max retorted as he threw the toy yet again. This time it landed in the arms of their mother, and she was not pleased. As soon as Max came around the rock once more, she gave a glare. Max knew he was in trouble when she did the glare. Allie sat down next to her and stuck her tongue out at him. The husband started a fire and released a sigh. Soon, they would be at their new home. Soon, after a week of traveling, they wouldn't have to worry about the intense temperatures. He went through the bag and pulled out a package of meat links to cook. Max's stomach rumbled with fury as he grew impatient waiting. His mother placed a hand on his shoulder rubbing it back and forth. "Don't worry, Max. Dinner will be here shortly."

"But I'm hungry now, Mama!"

"Max, calm down. I know."

"I want to eat!"

"Max, if you don't stop complaining, you'll get-"

She froze mid sentence as a person approached their resting spot. The soft stomping of boots accompanied the person's entrance. Stopping just before the fire, the husband got a look at their face: well worn with scars and a scraggly beard that looked unclean. The man stomped on the fire and growled out a chuckle.

"Excuse me, sir. Can-Can we help you? We have some food... if you didn't stomp out the fire." The man looked to the wife and the children and then back at the husband. It was becoming clear that he wasn't friendly. His piercing green eyes combined with a sinister smile gave the impression that this wasn't the first time he had done this.

"Sari, get the kids and run. Now." the husband spoke to his wife with a shiver in his voice. Sari did what she was told and grabbed Max and Allie's hands, but were stopped by two of the man's accomplices hidden behind the rock. A horned green alien took Sari, while a slithering slug-like alien grabbed the kids. "Let us go! What do you want from us?!" Sari protested as she kicked against the alien's hold.

"You know, your wife asks a good question. What do we want from you?" The man paced in front of the husband and pretended to think. He knew exactly what he wanted from them. "You're out of your territory, traveler. It's dangerous out here in the desert. Sand pits, creatures of enormous size, bandits..." A chuckle came out and he grabbed the husband's shoulders, getting up close and personal with him. "So, what would you like to give us? After all, it would be a shame to lose your family here in this vast wasteland. What'll it be, family man?"

Allie noticed her toy on the ground. She couldn't be without her favorite toy. A slimy tail was loosely coiled around Allie to prevent her from escaping, but that didn't stop her from stomping on it. This caused the alien to roar in pain, alerting the other two bandits. The distraction allowed Sari to wrestle herself from her captor's grip and rush toward the head bandit interrogating her husband.

The man pulled out a blaster from his pocket and fired it at Sari. A shot hit her shoulder and made her fall to the ground in terrible pain. The horned alien formerly holding her walked up and forcefully made her stand.

"Well, what have we here? Someone brave enough to stand up to some bandits? I think we have what we want." The bandit shoved the husband to the sand and chuckled once more as Sari and his children were taken. Sari was able to say one last message before getting her mouth tied up.

"Ryen, I love you."

As the bandits sped away on modified speedcycles with their ill-gotten gains, Ryen could only dig his head in shame and hope that they would survive.
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The Mightiest Mario
ZD Champion
Mar 27, 2020
On the moon of Orcoz, many of the planet's residents would venture to find work or other forms of making a profit. Oftentimes, the ways would be criminal in nature, with theft and corruption being the most common. Bandits would often ride through the towns and steal whatever valuable items they could find. The town's leaders allowed this; it ensured that they stayed in power as they promised time and time again to get the bandits stopped. It never happened.

At a local bar where sorrows were drunken away and shady deals were struck, Ryen sat tired and depressed over losing his wife and children to ruthless bandits. He hadn't seen a wink of sleep since then, instead worried for what could happen to them as he reached his destination. Looking at an empty glass, his murky orange reflection stared back at him. He couldn't bring himself to have another drink. His head hit the bartop as he sighed.

"Hey. Everything alright?" a woman's voice spoke to Ryen. His eyes shifted up as he saw the bartender standing over him. Her blue hair cascaded down past her shoulder and onto her red shirt. She lifted Ryen's head up and took the glass to clean it. The bartender spoke to a patron, revealing her positivity in a place as depraved as where she worked.

She returned to Ryen and crouched to his level. The two locked eyes, hazel clashing with blue.

"What brings you here? Need a place to work? Looking for trouble?"

"Bandits took my family..."

She poured a glass of Dark Star and handed it to Ryen. "I've heard the bandits have gotten more rampant these past couple of days. They held up my bar and stole my money." she said with daggers in her voice. "What's your name?"

"Ryen. Yours?"

"Erika. Lived here my whole life. People migrate here all the time. Don't really get why, it's all crime and miscreants."

"My family was going to come here to escape the heat season, it's cooler here, so I've heard." Ryen downed the glass of Dark Star and reminisced of his family once more. "Where do the bandits usually hide out?"

Erika was taken aback by Ryen's question. Going up against bandits was practically a death sentence. She knew that he was anguished about losing his family, but she didn't want him to risk his life trying to save them. "You shouldn't do that, I'm sorry. Let the leaders handle things."

"Can we go and tell them? I can't spend another moment without my family."

"Sure, but I can't guarantee they'll act quickly."
The speedcycles reached a small cave dug in the rocks: the bandit's hideout. The bandits took Sari and the children inside, where they sat against the wall. The horned alien gave them food and some water, while the other two discussed something that Sari couldn't quite make out. Max and Allie were upset and wondered where their father was.

"We take the people and we give them to him as gifts. It'll keep us here for a long while." the bearded bandit spoke to his slug-like partner.

"I'm sure he'll accept them. After all, he is in need of workers for the colony."

The two looked to the trio and smirked, knowing how they'd make a profit from them. Sari curled up and placed her head between her legs.

"Contact him now. We head out tonight."
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The Mightiest Mario
ZD Champion
Mar 27, 2020

The town hadn’t been the safe haven for his family as Ryen had hoped. The streets were riddled with people who called them home, scammers and other unscrupulous thieves trying to make a quick buck, and worst of all: the town’s security force was corrupt. Laws were harshly enforced, with even the slightest misdemeanor earning up to a month in the jail… or worse.

It was never the bandits that got punished, but the innocent people of the town. Erika couldn’t speak her mind about it, that was against the law.

“Be careful, Ryen. It’s best you don’t talk to anyone who tries to engage with you.”

Erika’s voice hushed to a whisper.

“Even the simplest thing can get you arrested here…”

Ryen and Erika passed by two children, a boy and girl, playing with a ball. He couldn’t but give a small smile; it reminded him of his children. The smile faded when the kids ran away once they saw three blue armored officers carrying plasma rifles. Ryen felt a chill go up his spine as they looked at him through their jet black visors. Erika grabbed his hand and led him away before something bad happened to him.

“The town palace is up ahead.”


“That’s what I call it. The leaders think of themselves so highly; they act like kings and do what ever they please. The leaders never get repercussion and never get elected out. I can’t count how many times they’ve promised to stop the bandits. Nothing’s gotten done. Nothing will ever get done as long as they hold the reins of this town.”

Erika stroked her blue hair and sighed. Ryen put his hand on her shoulder, providing some comfort as they walked up the “palace” steps to try and get the leaders to at least look for Sari and the two children.
Sari and the children were shuffled into a covered cart. The horned alien stayed with them in case they tried anything stupid, like escaping.

It was silent with the exception of the speedcycle’s engines. Max and Allie looked to their mother for reassurance, but it was fleeting.

Who knows what these bandits would do to them? Sari had overheard the conversation between the head bandit and the slug bandit, where were they going and who were they seeing? She desperately hoped Ryen was okay.

Max nudged Allie in a playful manner. Whatever he could to make the time pass. He continued to do so until Allie nudged him as a counter.

The two kept nudging each other, providing a distraction that allowed Sari to inch closer to the bandit and hopefully knock him out.

However, the bandit was quicker than Sari and shoved her back.

“Do not try anything that would anger us. You will be in good hands.” the bandit said, his tongue flicking out.

“Who are you bringing us to? Why would we be important? We’re just normal people. We have nothing for you.” Sari asked.

“You are Human, it makes you skilled with your limbs.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Silence. Do not speak any more.”

The nudging had turned into one of those too often arguments between Max and Allie.

“Mama, tell Max to stop! He keeps nudging me!”

“Max, enough with the nudging.”

“Mama, Allie keeps nudging ME! Tell her to stop!”

“The both of you stop nudging each other. It’s bad enough we’re in this situation…”

Silence. At least for a minute, until the children started nudging each other again. The continuous cries of both Max and Allie calling for Sari to stop them eventually boiled over.


The bandit growled and grabbed Sari’s arm. “I thought I told you to not say anything.”

“Yeah, well, you try being a parent…” Sari retorted.

“It does not matter now, we are almost to the colony…”

The speedcycles’ engines eventually died and they came to a halt. From outside, they could hear clamoring from excited aliens.

Where the hell are we?, Sari thought as the cover was thrown off.

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