Welcome, everyone, to this prequel of sorts for "In Our Nature"! Neither is required reading for the other, as they follow two different protagonists in different time periods. While "In Our Nature" is about Zami the troll rogue-turned-druid during the Cataclysm (Year 28), this story has a revolving time period but is initially set way back during the Second War (starting in Year 5) and focuses on Jazax the goblin.
Also, I wanna forewarn everyone that I won't be updating this as regularly as In Our Nature, so it might be a good idea to follow it to keep up-to-date.
Chapter 1: Dynamite
In many ways, Jazax thought his job was terrible. He was working for some pretty strange people lately, rubbing elbows with overly-aggressive oddballs. Y'know, real questionable types. They were tall fellows, and he already knew it wasn't a good idea to trust anybody tall. They were also from another planet, but who was he to judge them for that? Some kinda bigot or something? Nah, he didn't know the meaning of the word. Anybody's coin was good coin.
Still, it did make his allegiance to these tall, angry aliens kinda strange when he thought about it. Like maybe it was some kinda crime against nature, some sort of treason against the entire world he lived on. He didn't care much about the world, but hey, it had all his stuff on it. So maybe, he thought, these were actually the bad guys. And he was helping them.
But, on the other hand, he was being paid to blow things up.
So he was willing to ignore all that other stuff. As long as they kept asking him to explode things for them, he'd be as faithful as a goblin could be.
"Yo, Jazax, you in there?" A bug-eyed goblin with an overly-large engineer's badge pinned to his chest leaned over, knocking his hand on Jazax's soot-covered helmet, "You done with that one yet, huh? You been stuck on that one stick for ages."
Jazax shot an annoyed glance towards him, before getting an idea. Since he'd been stupid enough to bother him, he might as well put it to good use. Picking up the half-complete stick of dynamite, he held it forward under the other goblin's nose, nearly clonking him with the thing.
"You got a way bigger schnozz than me, so tell me, Dezzak, does that smell right to you?" He asked with a perked eyebrow, "Or y'think I should add more clay to absorb the extra nitroglycerin? I added twice the normal amount, for more boom!"
"Wh-What're you crazy?!" Dezzak shimmied back, "Keep that thing away from me!"
"What? Afraid of one little stick of dynamite?" Jazax shot him a mocking grin.
"You sappers are crazy!" Dezzak furrowed his brow, "Not all of us wanna blow ourselves up, y'know!"
"Pfft! And you really call yourself a goblin?" Jazax snickered, casually setting the unfinished stick of dynamite down onto his blackened worktable.
Dezzak just shook his head in something that was either disbelief, amusement, or pity. Jazax didn't really care which. With a snort and a shrug of indifference, he went back to work. No sooner had he started back up, already adding a few more drops of nitroglycerin to the powder, when another distraction broke his concentration.
"Hey! Jaz!" A familiar female voice called, drawing nearer, "What'cha workin' on?"
"Oh, hey Mal," He looked up briefly, "Just the usual. You lookin' for Zeek?"
Mal scrunched up her less-than-pretty face, bringing a finger up to twirl it in her messy black pigtail.
"What? No, why would I be lookin' for him?" She glanced aside, before quickly looking back, "Why? Did he say somethin' about me?"
"Nope," Jazax snickered, "Not a single thing. It's like he don't even remember you exist!"
Mal looked over at him flatly, putting a hand on her hip.
"You're lucky you're holding an explosive, or I'd punch you in the nose, Jazax."
Jazax just grinned at her mischievously, looking back to the dynamite.
"Yeah yeah yeah, that's what you say every time, Mal," He chuckled, "If I didn't know better, I would think it's me you had the hots for, not Zeek."
"I don't got the hots for Zeek!" Mal growled, stopping half-way through the gesture of smacking him in the back of the head, "Ooh, you're lucky, Jaz."
"Yeah yeah, real lucky," He grunted, focusing his attention back on the dynamite.
Maybe just a few more drops…
"I don't even like Zeek," Mal shrugged, crossing her arms across her chest, "He's got a huge chin, and he's way too short for me. Plus he doesn't have any money."
"No money?" Another voice interjected, "What're you talkin' about me for?"
Jazax grinned, not looking up from the dynamite. Even without looking, he could just tell Mal was blushing.
"Oh! Hey, Zeek! I wasn't talking about you!" She cleared her throat awkwardly, "Wh-What're you doin' sneakin' around like that?! Sappers shouldn't sneak!"
"Sorry, Mal," Zeek chuckled before patting Jazax on the shoulder, "But I gotta borrow this guy for a minute!"
"What's up?" Jazax asked without looking up, "Kinda busy here."
"Eh, don't act like you can't rig up dynamite with your eyes closed, Jaz," Zeek said before pausing to add, "Though it smells like you should put in more sobents. The nitroglycerin is kinda strong on this one. What's the weight strength we're lookin' at here?"
"Well, I was supposed to make 20% strength but those ones are always so small-"
"Don't I know it!"
"-so I doubled it to 40% and just sorta kept goin' as far as it could take me, y'know?"
Zeek nodded, pausing to put a hand on his chin. He had to admit, Mal was right. It really was pretty big, now that he thought about it.
"Well, I think you can run at 60% weight for this size. Anythin' bigger and you wanna start bundling individual sticks, since-"
"Jeez, you two are a right pair of walking non-tax-deductible accidents, aren'tcha?" Mal put a hand on her hip, "No way either of you are gonna make it outta this war alive."
"Oh yeah?" Jazax perked an eyebrow, "Why's that?"
"Yeah, you questionin' our skills?" Zeek feigned offense.
"Need I remind you, lady," Jazax looked up at her with a grin, "We two are the only sappers been here since the start of the siege."
"That's right," Zeek nodded, "And we're the only ones gonna be here at the end, too!"
"Being the only sappers who haven't blown yourselves up is fine and all," Mal crossed her arms, "But dont'cha think you might be tempting fate right now?"
She paused to gesture to the dynamite in Jazax's hands. In response, the both of them just grinned, taking fiendish delight at that very possibility.