Day dawns on the Toj space station. Not a traditional day with a sun involved, but a day nonetheless. Toj isn't close enough to any stars to have a solar day. The sun lamps attached to the ceiling of the main dome give off almost enough light though, even if it is purplish and cold. As the lights flicker on along the metal spider web between the glass panels of the main dome, the buildings of the city become visible. To the south end of the dome, the campus and dormitories of the "Toj Station Center for Professional Career Development Institute" or the "Toj Station Center for Word Overkill" as it is better known, are lit by the new day. In the north wing of the dormitory, there's a fire escape door in an alley, a door that's about to open with a -
The Door swings open at a blinding speed, and slams into the wall next to it. In the doorway stand the two reasons for all of the commotion : Clipboard and Dewclaw. They charge out of the door, and become more visible in the light. Dewclaw is obviously not human. She looks like some kind of cat or fox anthropomorph and very light tan fur. Her face is fairly human except for a triangular nose, and pointy ears on the top of her head. She's wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt with a large letter "D" on the front, but has no shoes, instead walking on her leathery paw feet. She's about six feet tall, perhaps a little less, and she's carrying a large paper bag in her right hand. The bottom of the bag seems soggy and is dripping brownish water. Following close behind her is Clipboard, a human. He's about a head shorter than Dewclaw, and seems to be having trouble keeping up. It's no wonder though, as he's wearing enough metal to build a cruise ship. He's got giant mechanical metal gloves, oversized clunky metal boots, big metal shoulder pads over a white trench coat that almost reaches the ground, and who knows what kind of metal armor and equipment underneath it. He really seems like the kind of guy you'd want to avoid during a thunderstorm. Considering that he isn't a very tall person to begin with, Clipboard's large gloves and boots and his somewhat too long arms make him look like a cyborg ape. At least his head looks normal, though, except for his pale skin and white blonde hair swept to the left in a giant cowlick.
Clipboard and Dewclaw dash along the alley until they come to the sidewalk, and Dewclaw stops dead in her tracks. Clipboard screeches to a halt next to her, his arms flailing in front of him. As Clipboard regains his balance, Dewclaw starts to speak."Clipboard, I think that this is going to be an especially good day for us."
"Why's that, Dewclaw?" Clipboard asks.
"Because it's Valentine's Day."
"So, why does that make this a good day for us?"
Dewclaw raises her left hand to shoulder height, clears her throat, and says,"Valentine's Day is a well recognized holiday! It celebrates love and romance! It's the day that couples blow huge sums of money on stupid gifts for each other! Money that could be spent on useful things like food or clothes! It's also the day that single people drink a lot and complain about how much Valentine's Day sucks!"
"I know that, but I don't want to waste money on gifts, or complain about being single. How do either of those things make Valentines Day a good day?"
"Clipboard, those are just the ways that most people celebrate Valentines Day. I have something much different in mind."
Clipboard points at the dripping brown bag in Dewclaw's hand. "Is this going to involve that big bag of raw oysters you're holding? Because I've been wondering what you want to do with that."
"I think that the answer should be clear, given the holiday."
Clipboard puzzles over it for a second, "We're going to throw them at cars, aren't we?"
Dewclaw momentarily cracks a smile larger than the one she was already sporting. "Damn straight. Now lets head to the overpass."
"Do you want to stop by Charlie's store?" Clipboard asks, "I think it's on the way..."
"Sure, we'll wish a happy Valentines Day to Nick and Rob. Maybe Nick bought me some chocolates."
"Yeah... He still thinks they're poisonous to you, doesn't he?"
Clipboard and Dewclaw dash along the street towards Charlie's armory. A big cinder block warehouse with a metal roof and a large cartoonish dragon on the sign next to it. Charlie's Armory is the premier weapons shop in Toj station, and the only one open twenty-four / seven. No one uses many weapons in most of Toj, for fear of breaking the thin seal that protects the station from the vacuum of space. But, a lot of people come to Charlie's armory for the cheap prices and quality weapons and simply use their purchases elsewhere. Many people in Toj would rather not see an arms dealership as such a big attraction to their city, but as long as Charlie brings in money and people to the Toj economy, no one wants him out that bad.
Clipboard and Dewclaw rush towards the building along the sidewalk of a busy street, Dewclaw shoving a couple of people out her way as she goes, and Clipboard just trying to keep up. They dash through a crosswalk as the traffic light changes, and narrowly escape being clipped by a mini van.
Dewclaw shakes her fist and shouts,"We had the right of way, you b*****d!" at the driver as he honks his horn and speeds away. "Clipboard, did that jerk even slow down for us?"
"No, Dewclaw, he did not."
"Jerk... maybe we'll catch him with some oysters later. Lets head to Charlie's now."
Clipboard and Dewclaw speed back up and dash through the parking lot of Charlie's armory, and towards the sliding glass doors of the store. Inside, there are a few racks of weapons in display cases, and a counter that Nick and Rob are sitting behind. Behind them, one can see the massive warehouse full of weapons and armor that aren't kept in display cases in the front. Most of the space in Charlie's armory is taken up by this storage. Nick and Rob are sitting behind the counter, looking slightly depressed. Nick wears a vest of armor with shoulder pads, and a long shirt underneath. He also has kung fu pants, leather boots, and a huge, cloth dome of a hat. Rob wears a baseball cap, baggy pants, a "WCW SUX" T-shirt with a longer shirt underneath it, and a large cape. He's looking at the ceiling tiles like they'll tell him the future. Nick is trying to sell a gun to a customer.
"So, what kind of bullets does this gun take?" The Customer asks.
Frowning,Nick explains, "It doesn't take bullets. It's an energy gun."
"Well then what does it shoot?"
"It's an energy gun. It shoots energy."
"So, then, what do I load it with?"
"You load it with batteries."
"And... it... shoots those?"
Before Nick can demonstrate what the energy gun shoots, on the customer, Rob steps in. "Sure, whatever. Now are you gonna buy it or not?"
The customer gives up. "I Guess I'll buy it... How much does it cost?"
"Forty dollars. Nick, ring him up."
Nick rings up the purchase, and the customer walks out of the store. Rob goes back to watching the tiles. After a couple seconds of this, Clipboard and Dewclaw burst in through the door, and stop in front of the counter. As Clipboard catches his breath, Dewclaw shouts a Valentine's greeting at Nick and Rob.
"Happy Valentine's Day! I know Charlie hasn't let you take any holidays off since he found out neither of you were religious, but I thought we'd come in and see what you were doing." Dewclaw remarks.
Nick looks at Dewclaw and narrows his eyes. "What are you two even doing here? I thought this holiday was supposed to be celebrated by lovers."
Dewclaw puts the bag of raw oysters on the floor, where the brown fluid dripping from it starts to leave a rather nasty, oyster smelling puddle on the linoleum. Seeing this, Rob points at the bag and shouts, "Hey, hey, put a piece of plastic under that or something! I have to mop this place tonight!"
Nick throws his hands in the air and shouts, "You never mop! You always just leave the mopping for me to do!"
Rob looks at Nick, then at the bag again. "Yeah, but I always have to hear you gripe about it..."
Dewclaw leans over to the counter and puts her hands on it. "I'd love to listen to you two whine about mopping and all, but you know... Clipboard and I... we've got plans."
"This wouldn't have anything to do with that bag of oysters you put on the floor, would it?" Nick asks as Rob elbows him several times with a knowing smile.
By now Clipboard has caught his breath, and stands next to Dewclaw. He takes a look at Rob nudging Nick, then at Dewclaw. Dewclaw shrugs her shoulders. "Actually," Dewclaw says, "Our plans for this Valentine's Day do involve that bag of oysters.
Clipboard picks up where Dewclaw leaves off. "That's right. We're going to find the guy who just almost ran us over with a mini van, and oyster him into submission."
Dewclaw reaches down for the bag of oysters, and picks it up. "We"ll probably hit a few other cars while we're at it, there are plenty of oysters to go around. So, do you guys want to come along?'
Rob says yes as Nick says no.
Rob looks over at Nick with an annoyed expression. "Why the hell not? It sounds like fun."
"I don't care how fun it is. Charlie said that if you skipped work again, he'd dock my wages too."
"Fine. Have it your way, I'll just stay here and think about all the fun I'd be having if it wasn't for you."
Dewclaw and Clipboard head for the door. Before they walk out, Dewclaw turns around. "If you two aren't coming, then we're just going to head out. We've got a mini van to oyster."
Dewclaw and Clipboard leave, as Nick and Rob get settled in their seats behind the counter. Rob starts to stare at the tiles again, but when nothing happens, he gets bored and decides to talk to Nick. "So, are you planning anything for this secular holiday?"
"It's "secularized". And of course I'm not. Why, are you?"
"Hey, just because You're going to spend Valentine's Day being lonely and miserable doesn't mean I have to. I have a date."
"For your information, I'm going to spend my evening with Veronica."
"Veronica? Are you talking about that "Vernstar" person you met on the internet?"
"That's very intuitive of you. You should go into detective work."
"Rob, You don't even know what gender they are!"
"Listen, all I know is that she's the typist of my dreams. And tonight I'm going to celebrate Valentine's Day by chatting with her all night long."
"Yeah, well just don't try to borrow money from me after you give that net cretin your credit card number and they rob you blind, OK?"
"And I suppose you have better plans?"
"I already told you I don't have any plans!"
"Well, don't throw a fit, besides, our shifts over."
Nick looks at the clock. "What are you talking about? It's only eight in the morning!"
"Yeah, but the chamber of commerce decided to make Charlie close early on Valentine's Day, ever since last year's wave of lovesick homicides and suicides."
"Oh yeah... I remember that. Well in that case, I'm leaving. Mop up that floor and lock up when you're done."
As Nick walks out the door, Rob shouts in agony. "Wait! you can't leave me here to mop up! NOOOOO!"
Nick heads out the door to the parking lot, then turns right, and walks up to his car. He opens the door, and finds the seat smothered in raw oysters. A note on the dash reads :
"We couldn't find the mini van. Happy Valentine's Day!
"Dewclaw and Clipboard"
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Special thanks to ex-Rambleing for converting this to guideML for me. I'm sure sure I could have managed it myself, but... then again, probably not. Thanks!