oh, soldier, who will they find to replace you?

“Hey, little man,” said Brodie. He’d found a scorpion, sitting on a flat rock, bemused at the sudden shadow of transport nine. The little creature looked up attentively. To his eyes, at least. “I have a favour to ask.”
He spoke softly, trying to be friendly. “What I want you to do, little man, is crawl up that little funny-smelling purple creature’s back and sting him. Can you do this for me, friend? You do this for me, I get this big transport moving.” He jabbed his thumb at the muddy white behemoth behind him. “You can have the sun back, hey?” The scorpion did not react. Clearly, it was considering his proposal.
Brodie sighed. He stood, stripped his murderer and his rack of fifth-cal shells from his back and set them against the wheel of transport nine. He undid the magnetic strips and seals on his mealy bag and tore away a tiny strip of day-old chicken. He squatted before the undecided scorpion and offered the chicken. “I make this sweeter. You do this for me, I get you many little dinners like this. You don’t like chicken? This the good stuff. Farmer cooked this for us. He had a nice little stove. Cute daughters. Good food.”
Heavy, sticky footsteps approached. “Team four, we’re on the move in two,” said D’Erlanger. “No rest for the weary. Brodie, what… what are you doing?”
“Making friends with the natives.” Brodie indicated the scorpion.
“It’s a scorpion. You’re talking to it.”
Brodie winked conspiratorially. “Trying to convince this little man to sting Motara. Save all our lives, hey?”
D’Erlanger looked exasperated. “That’s a Falgar scorpion. It only speaks Spanish. Leave it alone.”
“Oh,” said Brodie, and felt foolish.

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