Krusk gave a low growl, his large membrane-like ears fluttering in irritation.
"Skweek," he said, using a tone he deemed sufficiently pleasant. "You no poop in my quarters when you here." Skweek looked down at the pleasant pile he had just deposited by the entrance to Krusk's new lair.
"Why not, boss?" the toady asked.
"You no do it, Skweek!" Krusk snarled.
"Okay, boss, okay!" and Skweek scooped up the mess to take with him. "Say, boss, there's visitor here for you."
"Yeah, boss. Goblin."
"No, boss. Proper sand goblin like us." This made Krusk squint suspiciously. He hadn't been expecting company, and out here in the wide world beyond the hell-continent of Tralia, there was no reason his warband should encounter any sand goblins other than the ones they brought with them.
"You take precautions?" Krusk asked.
"Oh yeah, boss. I thought he was funny lookin', so I had the boys cut his legs off and nail him to wall." Krusk grunted in approval.
"Visitor can wait then," he said. "Let's go see Furz and his machine."
Furz was a freak among the sand goblins. If he had been born a human, Furz would have been a clever human. Among the sand goblins, he was an intellectual giant. But the young scavenger had really started to show promise after their last battle the week prior. The sand goblins had stormed the very ruins they were now squatting in, taking it from a small detachment of human knights. Furz had been unlucky enough to get a dagger in his brain, but rather than kill him, the wound only seemed to destroy the parts of his brain that didn't work so good. Almost immediately Furz started coming up with ideas that were shockingly clever. Most of them were suspiciously un-gobliny, but one idea was so good that when Krusk heard it, he had to see if it would work. Furz had been given a workroom in a large section of the ruins that had no ceiling.
"Boss!" cried Furz when Krusk and Skweek entered the workroom.
"What you got, Furz?" Krusk growled. "Better be good." But Furz gave a puzzled look and pointed at Skweek.
"Why that one holding the poop, boss?" Krusk gave a weary sigh.
"Skweek! Toss the poop. Furz! Show me machine!" Furz danced excitedly and ran over to the large contraption he and his workers had built from scraps of wood, metal, and anything else they could find. Krusk thought he saw a rotting cow entangled somewhere within the cogs and pipes.
"Here's how it works, boss," said Furz in his serious voice. "You put that zappy stone you have - here." And he pointed to a metal bowl roughly hammered to fit Krusk's summoning stone. "Then you stand over here," and Furz pointed to a metal cage that had strange metal pipes running to it. "Then I hit that button way over there, see?" And Furz jerked his thumb back at a control panel.
"And?" Krusk demanded.
"Well then, boss, all sorts of things happen, but basically the machine uses the zappy stone to send you somewhere real special. Usually stone send you some place, but machine makes stone send you to some time. Er, specifically stone send you to time when no one have zappy stones. Then you raise the sand goblins, you take over the world, and the sand goblins have all the zappy stones and they eating all the peoples who now have no stones. It's good plan, boss."
It was the greatest plan ever, and Krusk had to work hard to not grin too much.
"When machine ready?" he barked.
"Oh soon, boss, real soon."
"Show me the visitor." Skweek led the way through the hallways of the ruin, wiping his hands off on the walls they passed. "We see what this visitor have to say," said Krusk.
"Oh he not say much, boss. I cut his tongue out."
"Well he very talky, boss. And screamy. Kind of like you. I was scared he talk his way out of being nailed to wall, so I cut tongue out to be sure." Krusk had to squeeze his hands into fists to contain his anger.
"Skweek. If visitor have no tongue, how I know what he visiting about?"
"Oh wow, that's good question, boss."
The two emerged from the hallways and entered a large courtyard where most of the warband was encamped. But something was off. Krusk could feel it. It was too quiet, and every goblin he passed stared at him with curious eyes. And was that a hint of fear he saw? Krusk settled a hand on the hilt of his dagger just in case things turned ugly. Skweek led him through a maze of tents and lean-tos, and they came to a crumbling stone wall near the ruins entrance. There, nailed to the wall was a horrified sand goblin. It saw Krusk and immediately made a strange squealing noise like it was trying to talk, but blood only dribbled from its mouth. Nearby, a young goblin squatted happily, eating one of the visitor's freshly cooked legs. Krusk felt the warband gathering behind him, yet they kept a respectful distance.
"Why you nail me to wall?"
"Boss?" And Skweek stared at the visitor. "Hmm. Hey, yeah, boss, he does kind of look like y-mmpfh!" Krusk grabbed Skweek by the throat and pulled him close so their faces were inches apart.
"You stupid head! He is me!" Skweek looked over at the goblin nailed to the wall, his face scrunched up in confusion.
"How he be you boss, if you right here?" And then, "Ohhhhh. Right. Furz's machine. You must have used the machine, boss. Or you will use the machine. Guess it didn't send you to right time? I probably shouldn't have cut you up and nailed you to the wall, huh, boss?" And in three deft motions Krusk had crushed Skweek's throat, sliced the smaller goblin's belly open, and flung his corpse away. It separated in the air, and landed in a bloody heap. Skweek gave one last poop.
"Bezzer!" shouted Krusk. A scarred old goblin ran up from behind him.
"Go find Furz and the goblins who work for him. Kill them all. Then burn that stupid machine."
"You got it, boss," and Bezzer ran off with a handful of other goblins he called to. Krusk sighed and wondered how bad this looked in the eyes of his warband. Oh well, he thought. Sometimes a boss had to roll with the punches. Krusk walked over to where his legless, tongueless self was nailed to the wall. "Hey, sorry about this future me. But you know how stupid these guys is right?" He cut his duplicate's throat before it could mewl in response.