28. May 2021
Added new short story.
Morning came around quicker than it should have. At least in Altær's opinion. He didn't really wake up, he was woken up. There was someone rummaging through his apartment, and in his half-asleep state, Altær's first thought was that someone had broken into his home. It was enough to get him to sit up in his bed with a start, but luckily he then remembered that he had brought a new flatmate with him last night.
Still, what the hell was that guy doing? It sounded like he was messing with the shelves or something. A quick glance to his phone told Altær that it was already past 9 a.m. He regularly slept through his alarm, which made it a formality at this point. He got out of bed and put on a shirt and pants as he found it a bit too cold to run around half-naked.
Leaving his bedroom, he opened the door to the living room and peeked into it. Colt was nowhere to be seen, and the noises seemed to come from the kitchen. Altær strolled through the living room and the small hall, and quickly reached his kitchen, where his guest was... doing what exactly? Some of the drawers on the kitchen unit were open, the storeroom door was open as well and cleaning supplies were spilling out of it onto the ground. There was a general sense of disarray as bags and utensils were scattered across the counters. The fridge door was open, too. Colt seemed to be busy doing something inside it.
Only on a second glance Altær could figure out that the T67 was... rather frantically cleaning the inside of the fridge.
"What are you doing...?" Altær asked, despite it being obvious. He was more hoping for an explanation of sorts, why his new flatmate felt responsible for this task immediately.
Colt didn't even pause his work and didn't look back either as he replied. He had to stand next to the fridge in an awkward manner and angle, since his impractically large cannon made it impossible to just look straight ahead inside it.
"Don't want to invite the devil like this," he said grumpily.
Altær just stood there and tried to comprehend the statement for a while. He eventually gave up and shook his head.
"You could have asked first before taking apart my kitchen for a spring-cleaning," the leFH murmured.
Colt turned around after all, holding up an admittedly nasty-looking plastic container that was so moldy inside that it was impossible to tell what it held.
"I just wanted milk. But your fridge made me throw up," he complained.
"Why milk, specifically?" Altær retorted with confusion.
Colt threw the container into the sink and returned his attention to the inside of the fridge.
"I could never have it," he shrugged.
"...Wait, you threw up?!" Altær then quickly asked, only now processing that part of the previous statement.
Colt gestured vaguely at the sink.
Altær followed a morbid curiosity, walked over to said sink and looked inside. There was all sorts of junk inside it (all from the fridge, presumably), but luckily no signs of vomit. He also spotted the pack of milk between the other tossed-away groceries. He picked it up, realized it was empty, and looked at the expiration date.
"Did you pour it out?" he asked Colt.
"It was bad," the T67 replied curtly.
"No, it wasn't. It's not expired yet..." Altær said with some irritation. Throwing away perfectly good milk... what a crime.
"It made me sick?"
Altær put the milk carton back into the sink defeatedly. In the face of it being gone already, all that he had left was gallows humor.
"You've never had milk before, right? Maybe you're lactose intolerant or something..." he grumbled, jokingly.
That seemed to make Colt pause and think for a moment.
"Maybe...," he said pensively, and then continued scrubbing the back of the fridge.
Not that it brought this milk back, but Altær felt like at least future milk could be safe now. He turned around and leant against the counter with his back, crossing his arms.
"So, your way of paying me rent is cleaning the apartment from now on, or what?" he asked. Again, it was more of a joke. But it seemed like Colt took him seriously.
"It's not payment. I just can't live like that," he said over his shoulder.
Altær couldn't help but feel slightly offended at that answer. Like that? Like what? He made a small grumble, but no fuss about it. This fellow hadn't seemed like the most tactful from the very beginning, after all. Altær had gotten himself into that knowingly when he had invited the stranger to live with him from now on.
"Anyway, how long do you think this will take? We've got plans today..." he eventually said with a tilted head.
"Are you hungry?"
Colt backed away from the fridge and seemed to slump somewhat.
"I think I've been," he said in a sober tone.
"We'll meet someone at around 2 p.m., and with a bit of luck we can fix that problem for a while."
It didn't look like Colt was too happy about these news. He definitely knew what it meant. But he remained silent. Altær shrugged and smiled wryly underneath his turret.
"Don't worry. You can just be my... apprentice for now. If everything goes well, you won't have to do anything but watch and learn." He gestured at the sink casually. "Your hands won't get any dirtier than they're now, I promise."
Colt tilted his head slightly as if he was about to say something, but then shook it. He went back to work and mumbled a dismissive "I should be done before noon."
Altær nodded, even if Colt couldn't see it. He took one of the energy drink cans that had been taken out of the fridge and were now scattered around on the counter and left the kitchen. There were other things he had to do in the meantime.
Less than an hour passed with Altær sitting at his PC and playing video games, before Colt suddenly stood behind him and was looking over his shoulder. Altær wouldn't even have noticed him for a while longer if he hadn't spoken up, making the leFH flinch.
"You play Tanks?" Colt asked in a slightly frowning voice, looking at one of the screens.
Altær slightly turned his head, leaning back in his chair.
"Yeah? What about it?" he asked in return, not sure what to make of the other's tone.
"I do too," Colt replied plainly.
"Well, we can take turns," Altær said with a smirk. His tone grew more serious as he went on. "You're gonna need a new account, though."
The T67 seemed irritated.
"Because you died...?" Altær reminded him. "Would be a bit spooky if you suddenly showed up online again, don't you think?"
"No one in real life knew about it," Colt grouched.
"Is it linked to your email address?" Altær retorted.
"Does it have your phone number? Your bank account info?"
"Just make a new one."
Colt turned away and grumbled something that sounded like "But my stats...". He went to the couch and flopped down on it. Altær didn't return to playing right away and turned his chair around. He looked at the moping T67 for a moment, then spoke up.
"We'll get you a new... everything. There's some paper and at least one pen under the coffee table. Grab those and make a list of things you need, like a phone or clothes. We can try to get as much done as possible before our rendezvous today."
After just staring for a moment like he hadn't understood the instruction, Colt reached into the storage compartment below the table and pulled out the mentioned supplies with a bit of rummaging. He grabbed a spiral-bound notepad and a pen, and started scribbling away.
Altær let him do that and focused on his game again. After a while, Colt announced that he was done. Altær finished his match and got up to join the T67 on the couch. Colt shuffled away from him slightly, as if he was uncomfortable by the proximity of another person. He then handed over the notepad. Altær took a look at the... unexpectedly short list. He had a hard time deciphering the handwriting, too. It didn't help that what he could read was kind of poorly spelled.
"Is that all?" he asked with a frown.
"Alright. That's gonna be a short shopping trip, I guess," Altær mumbled. He tore out the page and folded the paper, then put it into his pocket. "But we better get going."
The shopping trip was indeed rather short. They called a taxi to get to the downtown, where they went into a few stores and tried to get anything Colt would need in the immediate future. The T67 didn't have any money, so Altær had to sponsor him, which was another reason why the loot was rather sparse in the end. Colt insisted that he'd pay him back eventually. They'd have to figure out how exactly that would happen; getting a job when you technically didn't exist wasn't easy.
With some time left before they were supposed to meet their next meal, they ended up going back to Altær's flat briefly to drop off their purchases. The leFH didn't want to give up any of his wardrobe space, so Colt's new clothes all ended up in a pile next to the couch. The T67 also now had a phone with a prepaid card, so they exchanged their numbers as well while they were at it. Other than that, he didn't have many new belongings: a new wallet but it was completely empty still, and a second set of keys for the apartment. The rest of the time until they had to leave was spent making new internet accounts for all sorts of purposes.
Finally, it was half past 1 p.m., and time to get ready. Altær was feeling as anxious as he did every time before his hunts; there were many things that could go wrong, even if so far, most of the time, most things went right. But there was always a chance to mess up terribly, and that would mean severe consequences... probably beyond his imagination.
This time, they took the bus. Getting taxis constantly was expensive, and there was a bus line nearby which conveniently passed near the location where he was supposed to meet his new victim. Sitting inside that bus, he looked to Colt, who had remained standing instead of taking a seat as well. The T67 didn't look very relaxed either, though it was hard to tell without seeing his face. He hadn't spoken much anymore since they had left. Well, also not before that, but it felt like he was even less talkative than before, somehow.
They hopped off at their stop, which was a park near the town's center. Altær liked to pick meeting locations in very public places, as it made his ill intentions less obvious... at least in his opinion. He quickly checked his phone for the time, and it seemed like they were exactly on schedule.
Colt was looking around as they walked into the park, which prompted Altær to comment.
"Don't make it so obvious that we're looking for someone," he murmured. The T67 turned to him.
"What's the plan?"
"We'll meet the lady, talk to her nicely a bit, and then invite her to our apartment for a 'good time'," Altær replied nonchalantly. It was a very simple plan, and thus mostly fool-proof. Not all the victims took the bait, but most of the time it worked.
Colt didn't seem thrilled.
"Will there actually be a... good time?" he asked skeptically.
"Unfortunately, no," Altær replied.
Colt didn't answer and just looked ahead at the path they were following. Altær didn't say anything else either and did the same. They were almost at the intended location...
... But as they reached a small pavilion, they didn't find a lady. The two tankheads walked inside, and instead of a human woman, there was another tankhead sitting on the benches inside. A beefy looking Leopard 2-head sat there, looking not the slightest bit surprised by the appearance of two peers. In fact, it looked a little bit like he had been expecting them. He turned to them, and lifted up his turret to reveal a smirk.
Altær stopped dead in his tracks and stared. Colt did the same before he looked to Altær inquiringly, but the leFH only knew that he must have fucked up badly this time.
"Ah... crap," he mumbled.