by Hydrargentium

Solder smoke drifted up from the workbench, tracing a thin grey line into the rafters before being sucked into a nearby ventilation duct. Aside from the glow of the spotlights over the workbench, the vast warehouse was dark.

Ranger set aside the iron and inspected his work, pulling over a magnifier to confirm the connections on the board. He flipped the little device over a couple of times, comparing it against the schematics showing on a nearby tablet. Satisfied, he set the piece in a rack marked with hand-lettered labels, and pushed his work goggles up off his face.

Before reaching for his thermos full of tea, he paused to move an object from the edge of his main work area and up onto a high shelf at the edge of his reach. It was a short cylinder, made of brass, with cleanly milled threads on one end. The length of the tube was deeply etched with arcane markings, each line carefully inlaid with some sort of matte black substance.

As he poured tea into the thermos’ cup, Ranger looked around, as if noticing some things for the first time in a long time. There was a small green marble with a chip out of it, a blackened arrow fletched with long pink feathers, and an empty wooden box with “Dayton Music” printed on one side. He saw a large shark’s tooth, fully 6 inches long, and a rubber-corked Erlenmeyer flask containing a pearly blue powder, and a hot pink 1/100th scale Statue of Liberty. He took a sip of his tea.

Tapping a couple of icons on his tablet, he watched as the lights came on throughout the warehouse, one section at a time. Under the stark illumination, he spied a large stuffed eagle hanging from the rafters, and the remains of an accordion that looked like it had been chewed up and spit out on top of a pile of packing crates. Further out, there was a full-size Lambeosaurus skeleton, and a red-and-yellow 10 meter rocket with the nose cone blasted off.

And this was just a small sampling.

“I really have to do something with these trophies,” he mused, rubbing the back of his head.