Chapter 18: A New Truce

Note this is the prog (in-progress) version and may change when the book comes out


Numer looked behind the Transpide as they fled through another waterlogged hallway. Sawn dashed into the water after them and slowed to a quarter of their speed. Wrodin splashed into the water and fired shells at them. The blasts rumbled through the castle.

“Hurry, hurry; up-up-up,” Numer said. Zeth drove the Transpide through a smashed hole out of the castle. They headed for the surface as fast as the Transpide could go, a speed all too slow for Numer.

With the surface just within reach, the water below them blew up. They flew into the air as the world spun around them. The sky below was—no, the sky was above, and it was black. The only light shone from the full moon rising into the sky and the dots of stars.

When they reoriented, Conrad, Sawn, Wrodin, and the white miniature sub had surfaced. “This ends now,” Conrad said. “If I can’t take those orbs and use Darmenzi for myself, I might as well consider myself washed up.”

“Hey, and out at the ocean, too,” Sawn said. “Fitting, eh?”

They were at a standoff. They had to get out of there. Numer pointed behind Conrad. “Look!”

“Look where?” Zeth asked. He peered through a pair of binoculars.

Numer dropped his head to his tail. He hadn’t meant for Zeth to look. Distraction tactics weren’t meant to distract your allies.

“I’m not falling for that nonsense,” Conrad said. “Hand over the orbs or I will pry open your machine and take them.”

Cherry held the red orb close. “You’re never going to take these–” She yelped as the orb glowed like lightning. The Transpide filled with light as all seven orbs glowed. The black sky and magenta ocean disappeared, replaced by a cave shaft that housed a rocket ship towering over them.

“What is this?” Conrad asked. “Where are we?”

“I’m not sure–” Zeth removed the binoculars and flinched. “It’s Chee’s base.”

Numer felt wobbly. Even though they should have been on solid ground, the Transpide still bobbed slightly.

“There!” Conrad maneuvered his hover-chair up. “There’s that wretched trickster.” Chee and Darmenzi walked up a ramp to a door near the top of the rocket. Conrad turned back to the slubes. “Give me the orbs now, and I will destroy Darmenzi. Wrodin, go after that crustaceous creep. Stop them from entering that ship.”

“Affirmative, Conqueror.” Wrodin wobbled forward but stopped as a light as bright and warm as the sun exploded overhead. Numer gaped at the fiery, feathery visage he hadn’t expected again: Chiphus flying overhead. Wrodin stared at the flaming avian, motionless. “That bird–!”

“Hey, guys. Hi, Conrad. Short time no see.” Dorpthal rose from the shaft below in all their immensity. Though Dorpthal’s skin looked as shiny as ever, the guardian was translucent like a ghost. “Don’t bother going after Darmenzi, this is just a vision.”

“Oh yeah,” Pocerni said. “This happened before, too. After we gathered the orbs, they showed us a vision of where Darmenzi had gone.”

“Yep,” Dorpthal said. “We’re doing it again.”

“But we knew Darmenzi would be here,” Numer said.

Dorpthal looked at Conrad. “He didn’t.”

“Oh, good,” Numer said, thinking it most certainly not good, “now the bad guy is up to speed on things, too.”

“But we don’t even know where this place is,” Sawn said.

Dorpthal shrugged. “Not gonna matter.” Fire enveloped everyone’s sight as an unending fwoosh filled everyone’s hearing. The rocket ship flew out of the base.

“Gaddfern it,” Conrad said. “They’re escaping.”

“This must just be a vision of what already happened, right?” Cherry said. “We made their rocket crash; surely they don’t have another already.”

Numer looked around. “I didn’t see us anywhere. We were here when the rocket was about to launch.”

“I said she could have fit another rocket in her base,” Zeth said. “Surely all the components. They must be leaving the planet, and we’re not there to stop them this time.”

Numer looked at the orbs. Surely they hadn’t gathered them for nothing. There had to be a way to go after Darmenzi.

Conrad scoffed. “Now your path is clear. Give me the orbs.”

Numer looked up. “That doesn’t seem very clear.”

“I have been building a new spaceship,” Conrad said. “I am the only one who can reach Darmenzi now.”

The night sky and ocean returned. The slubes leaned back. Numer knew what his friends thought. No way would they give Conrad anything.

Pocerni stood up, and he smacked his head against the glass roof. He rubbed his head. “Ouch. Zeth, do you mind, dude?”

“I might.” Zeth opened the roof, letting in the warm, salty ocean air.

Pocerni leaned forward over Zeth’s seat. “We were given the last orb to share. Both sides want to destroy Darmenzi. I think I know why the guardians showed us that vision. We gotta work together.”

“Are you serious?” Cherry asked.

“The idea sounds preposterous,” Conrad said.

The slubes and Conrad stared at each other. Numer agreed with Conrad. After all, as the saying went, “The enemy of my enemy is still a jerk.”

“I say don’t do it!” Wrodin said. “I say we blow them to pieces right now.”

“You would,” Conrad said. He looked at the slubes. “You would never let me actually use Darmenzi as a power source.”

“Neither would he, dude,” Pocerni said. “You’d just be making more trouble for yourself than you already have. He’d destroy you if you tried to use him as a power source.”

“I say don’t do it!” Sawn said. “I say we tear them to pieces right now.”

“You would,” Conrad said. “Perhaps we are at an impasse.”

These were the guys Pocerni wanted them to work with? Numer shook his head. Conrad and his agents would murder them the first chance they had.

The mini-sub opened up. “I say don’t do it!” Sal said. “I say we break for lunch.”

“It’s the middle of the night!” Conrad shouted. “Fine. Let’s do this. You have the orbs. I have the transportation. We both have a rotten wretch we want to kill. We’ll make a truce.” He held out a tentacle.

The slubes looked at each other. “Should we really trust Conrad?” Cherry asked.

“No,” Numer said. “But I’m not sure what other choice we have.”

“There are other options to reach space,” Zeth said. “The high population centers of the continents have ships that travel regularly to the nearby planets.”

“How long would it take you to reach those centers?” Conrad asked. “I can have my ship ready to go by morning.”

“And we don’t know how much time we have,” Cherry said. “Still, if Conrad had arrived with his fleet to take over Mintop, a deal with Darmenzi would look rather tempting.”

“A deal with Darmenzi would spell trouble no matter what,” Pocerni said. “I don’t think things are gonna well for this Chee girl, either. We got the seven orbs, though. If we have to, we can use the power of the guardians. Conrad can’t do anything to us.”

The slubes looked at one another. Numer figured if Pocerni was right—but then, was he? They’d known him for one day. He wasn’t even completely right about how to beat all the guardians. Could he still be right about the orbs’ powers?

“Hi-ho, Yoshi!” The high-pitched shout of a lunatic broke the solemn decision as Smatilla, somehow inside the mini-sub, jumped onto Sal’s head. “We have a Princess Pomegranate to save.” Numer groaned. He would at least admit he would rather take his chances with Conrad than that crazy smarmel.

“What?” Terrent asked. “How did she even get in here?”

Smatilla said, “Gasp!” Literally, she actually said, “Gasp!” She pointed the sword at Terrent. “I knew you were the one behind this. The evil king kasdde himself. You’ll never get away with this, Dan. Have at you!” She jumped at Terrent. Sal grabbed her in his mouth. “Yoshi, stop trying to eat me again.”

Zeth smacked a hand on the dashboard. “Let go of her or I’ll fill you full of air.” Sal and Terrent froze in place. Normally Numer would groan at such a silly remark by Zeth, but the professor sounded far more solemn than usual.

“Are you willing to break a truce before it’s even made over a mental case?” Conrad asked.

“Yes,” Zeth said.

Sal spat Smatilla out into the sub. Her head bonked against the hull, and she fell over.

Zeth cringed. “Well, I suppose you did let go of her.” He drove the Transpide to the mini-sub. Smatilla lay on the floor. “If you could just kind of drop her in here?”

Sal picked up Smatilla and dropped her onto Numer, Cherry, and Pocerni. Cherry groaned. “It’s not like we’re not already squashed for space back here.”

“Are you done yet?” Conrad asked. “We have work to do.”

“We’re really going to do this?” Numer asked.

“Let me answer that for you,” Wrodin said. “If you don’t make the truce we will immediately blow you up.”

“Wrodin, settle,” Conrad said. “In the spirit of the truce, we will not attack if they turn their backs on us.” He wrinkled the skin above one eye. “We will instead leave them behind for the doom that Darmenzi no doubt plans for their world.”

Numer supposed it would really come down to who Conrad hated more, them or Darmenzi, and Darmenzi’s betrayal likely tipped the scale towards him. Numer looked at Cherry and Zeth and nodded. “We can get through this.” Zeth nodded. Cherry smiled and nodded. Numer took a deep breath and held out a hand to Conrad.

Conrad slapped a tentacle around Numer’s hand and squeezed a little too hard. “About time, you slugs.”

The truce was made.

***

With a ridiculous alliance between Conrad and the slubes now underway, they headed to Conrad’s base, half inoperative from no power source. No matter how persistent Conrad was, Pocerni wouldn’t let him use the orbs to power the base.

Conrad ordered most of the spleeches to finish the new ship, while a few he tasked with helping Zeth determine Darmenzi’s destination. Conrad entered the dark gray observatory room on the top floor. With all the surveillance equipment, the room would be too small for Conrad to enter with someone else his size. He looked at the four spleeches peering through telescopes and examining chart data, no slube in sight.

“Where is that goggled slug?” Conrad asked.

“He said something about a restroom,” a spleech said.

“Actually, that was well over a Mintop hour ago.”

“I knew he’d get lost.”

Conrad groaned. For a scientist, that slube sure acted the role of a moron. “Have you at least figured out where Darmenzi is going?”

“Yes, we located the rocket and tracked it, and based on its trajectory we estimate it to be heading for the moon of Mintop.”

Conrad nodded. At least his spleeches did something right. So, the moon? They planned to establish a moon base, perhaps. At least it would be easy to go after them. Conrad ordered the spleeches to alert him should the rocket’s course change.

Conrad next headed down a few floors to check on the ship, a vessel based on a design from his top engineers with what little usable resources he stole from Mintop. They tested each material to be certain it worked to his standards, rather high ones for Mintop. After he disposed of Darmenzi, the ship would have to reach the planet Tallanihiti, where the fleet awaited his return to begin the attack on Mintop.

Conrad arrived at the hangar bay, big enough to fit fifty ships, each docking platform an elevator to bring a ship to an upper floor above the sea. Just the one ship stood there at the moment, about one hundred spleeches working on it inside and out. Bulbous in front, it narrowed in a middle less than a quarter of the ship’s length before sprawling in the back to a powerful engine nearly as wide as the front. Coated with a material to strengthen the hull and stabilize its temperature, this ship was designed to fly straight from point A to point B as swiftly as possible with no stops. It would hold together for one long trip, and what was that goggled slube doing?

Zeth sleeged back and forth in front of the ship’s engine. He prodded it with tools and even clambered inside once. Conrad climbed the metal platform to the engines and lifted Zeth by the neck.

“Just what do you think you’re doing?” Conrad yelled.

“Hi,” Zeth said, waving a hand. “I got a bit distracted. Did they find out where Chee is going?”

Conrad shook Zeth. “This is an incredibly complex and delicate machine. I cannot have some simpleton fiddling about with it.”

“Hold on, sir,” a spleech said, waving a tentacle. “It’s okay, he’s actually assisted quite a bit. He helped get the engine ready to go and even made a few improvements.”

“What? Really?”

“No, no, it’s not much,” Zeth said, shaking his palms. “Really, I have to commend you on the design.” He adjusted his glasses. “And the components, why, if I’m not mistaken, most of this can be found on Mintop in rather decent abundance, but none of it has ever been combined in this way and for this use.”

Someone was missing. Terrent was supposed to direct the spleeches preparing the ship. “Where is Terrent?”

“Yeah, Terrent,” a spleech said, “he was here, but, well–”

“He’s just a lad, right?” Zeth asked. “Perhaps this is a bit much for him. I found a number of mistakes he made. After I began to assist, he stormed out.”

Conrad put Zeth down. “Somehow, I am not surprised.” Terrent was just a kid, and the only reason Conrad kept him and most of the Mintop-originated agents was lack of forces. “Good to see you holding your end of the truce nicely. Yes, it would seem Darmenzi and the girl are making their way to Mintop’s moon.”

“I wonder what they could be doing there?” Zeth asked.

“Whatever it is, I—that is, we will put a stop to it. How long until the ship is ready to fly?”

“It should be just a few more hours,” a spleech said.

“Good.” Conrad looked at Zeth. “Do what you can here, but make sure you and your associates are prepared when the time comes.”

“Of course,” Zeth said. “Absolutely.”

***

Numer and Cherry wogged down a corridor of empty steel walls. “This place is big, even with half of it closed down,” Numer said. “I hope we don’t get lost.”

“That probably won’t happen,” Cherry said. “It’s not like a forest where you could find yourself going in circles. The hallways are straight here.”

“Are you sure?” Numer asked. Cherry rolled her eyes. Numer sighed. He knew he sounded nervous, but they were right in the middle of their enemy’s base. Who knew what awaited them in there?

They entered one room about half the size of Numer’s house where a few tables stood. Though it was the base of a ruthless tyrant and gave off a sterile and bleak vibe, this room at least felt a little relaxed. Numer stopped and looked at Cherry. He had another chance now. Just in case they didn’t return from the confrontation with Darmenzi, he should tell Cherry he loved her now.

“Cherry,” Numer said, his hands fidgeting, “before we go off and confront Darmenzi and everything, there’s something I want to tell you.” Cherry cocked her head. “Something I’ve wanted to get off my tail for a while now.”

Before Numer said another word, a figure from the shadows rose above them, wide as the Transpide and with a gaping mouth. Numer screamed.

“Hey there.” Sal shoved his smiling head between them. “I figured you guys looked like you knew where you were going, so I followed you, because I’m kind of lost. I keep trying to tell Conrad to add kiosks to sell maps in here, but he won’t listen to me. On anything. Which is not surprising.”

He put his tail on their shoulders like an arm. “So, I figured, now that we’re working together, we could get to know each other. We might have a lot in common. Maybe you guys would even want to join up with Conrad, or maybe I would join up with whatever the hex you do, I dunno.”

“I don’t think so,” Cherry said, sliding away from Sal’s tail.

“Come on!” Sal said. “I know I’ve tried to kill and/or eat and/or maim and/or devour and/or crush and/or taste you before, but that’s in the past. Also, it’s probably in the future, if we don’t become buds. Otherwise, all we can do is play the waiting game until we’re ready to go off after Darmination or whatever his name is.”

The three stood there, neither Numer nor Cherry looking at Sal. Well, this was awkward.

After a moment, Sal said, “Okay, the waiting game sucks. How about Craving Craving Carpples?” He looked around, smiling widely as if expecting a response from the room. He turned back to the slubes. “Monopoly? Candy Land? No, that one always makes me hungry.”

Numer mumbled. “Sorry.” He slid away from Sal like Cherry. “I don’t think we should really hang out or whatever. It’s nothing clerpsonal, it’s just–”

“It’s everything clerpsonal,” Cherry said, and she pulled Numer out of the room.

“Well, fine,” Sal shouted. “I’ll just play these great games by myself.”

A panel in the wall slid aside to reveal a monitor. A live feed of the inside of Mount Chiphus transmitted on the screen. “Can I play, Sal?” Cagnorm asked.

Sal looked at the magma monster. “Eh, okay. I’ll move your pieces for you.”

***

At the end of one hallway Numer and Cherry entered a room twice the size of a Nottle house. At a white table that occupied half the room were Wrodin, Czar Spiest, and the Transpide, inside which sat Pocerni. He had decided his staying inside the best way to guard the orbs.

“I don’t even know why we need those orbs,” Wrodin shouted. “Just put that claws-guy-thing in front of me and I’ll shatter his shell, and the crystal, and his face, and his best friend, and whoever happens to be standing next to him.”

“You couldn’t even beat me, dude,” Pocerni said.

“That was different,” Wrodin said. “You cheated.”

“No, I didn’t. Darmenzi, however, would.”

“So would I,” Czar Spiest said. “I suppose I can’t say much, since that dorky, little slube beat me in a fight.”

“Good idea, ghost, insult your temporary allies,” Cherry said. Everyone turned to her and Numer.

Numer smiled at Cherry defending him, even though he would have had no argument against the ghost for that remark.

“Who cares?” Czar Spiest said. “We’ve insulted each other times before. Just because we have the same goal for a moment doesn’t mean we have to be civil.”

“Are you planning what we’re going to do?” Numer asked.

“Yes!” Wrodin said. “And it is like I said, I could destroy that Darmenzi with one gun tied behind my back.”

“Is that supposed to make any sense, dude?” Pocerni asked.

“Have you come up with any actual strategy?” Cherry asked.

“Well,” Pocerni said, “we just got word that they’re apparently heading to the moon–”

“Which made this whole meeting prior to that news pointless,” Czar Spiest said.

“–so we’ll probably–”

A spiest appeared from behind Czar Spiest. “And shouldn’t, like, everyone be in here?”

Another appeared. “Yeah, so everyone can contribute, and we don’t have to just listen to Mr. Shoot Everything and Don’t Even Bother With Questions, They’ll Just Distract From the Shooting, Look at Me, I Couldn’t Strategize if the Goal Was to Route a Tree.”

“Don’t make me zap you,” Wrodin said. “I know I can hit you pests with charged particle blasts.”

As they bickered, Numer wogged to the Transpide. “Hey, Pocerni?”

“Yeah?” Pocerni asked. “Since we won’t get anything done at this meeting, what’s up?”

“Where’s Smatilla?”

Pocerni turned around and looked at the empty backseat. “Uh-oh. I didn’t even notice.”

Cherry looked at the bickering ghosts and machine. “Hey, shut up a moment. You guys got security cameras here, right?”

“Obviously,” Czar Spiest said.

“We need to see the footage,” Cherry said. “We have an insane smarmel on the loose.”

***

Zeth sleeged into the security room, having met Numer and Cherry on the way to brief them on the moon situation and instead being told of the Smatilla situation. Numer and Cherry followed, along with two spleech escorts.

Monitors covering one wall transmitted video of various rooms in the base. Three monitors twice as big as the others sat on the control panel. Spleeches sat on stools watching the monitors, as did Terrent, though he leaned back with a look somewhere between falling asleep and punching a monitor. His chair had a backrest and a trio of poles at the bottom to prevent it toppling backwards. As the slubes entered Terrent looked at them.

“Great, you again,” the kasdde kid said with a scoff. “What, are you going to make the cameras more powerful now? Are you going to make them able to fly and record smells as well? Why are you even helping so much, after Darmenzi–”

Zeth cupped a hand over Terrent’s mouth. “Meeting room 3a,” he said to a spleech. “We need to see the recording.”

The escorts affirmed this, and the spleeches put the recording on the third big monitor. They skipped the footage back to when the Transpide first entered and saw Smatilla already gone.

“He didn’t notice her missing for a while,” Cherry said. “Pocerni must not have been paying any attention.”

“Maybe he was lost in thought,” Numer said. “Where was the Transpide before?”

They accessed footage from an entrance room where the Transpide sat. They zipped through the footage until finding a section where Pocerni had fallen asleep. Not a crime, it being the middle of the night, but the bubble dome opened, and Smatilla jumped out, arms flailing. They checked the footage from outside at sea docking station 2, the place Zeth recognized as the entrance they used both a few hours ago and a few days ago when they first entered the base. They watched Smatilla jump onto a motorboat sized for a few spleeches and leave the base.

Zeth threw up his arms. “How could this have happened without anyone noticing? Didn’t anyone here see it?”

“Yeah,” Terrent said. He moved nary a muscle.

Zeth looked at Terrent. “What?”

“Yeah, I saw it.”

Zeth stammered. “You didn’t tell anyone?”

“Nope.”

“Why not?”

“Didn’t feel like it.”

“She’s a danger to herself and everyone around her.”

“Oh well.”

“But she stole one of your boats.”

Terrent shrugged. “Meh.”

Zeth held out a sprawled hand, mouth open and ready to respond, but no words came. There were no words for that. He just slumped and groaned.

***

Numer, Cherry, and Zeth entered the hangar bay. “Did you find that smarmel girl?” Pocerni asked, sitting in the Transpide.

“I’m afraid she fled,” Zeth said, shaking his head. “She got out and on one of Conrad’s smaller boats.”

“Shoot, that’s bad,” Pocerni said. “Sorry I didn’t keep an eye on her.”

“No, no, it’s not your fault,” Zeth said. “There should have been some guards. I guess we didn’t expect her to come to so quickly.”

“There’s going to be some trouble if she gets to Interp,” Numer said. He shuddered at the thought of her at Nottle.

“Indeed,” Zeth said. “She’ll make a spectacle. She’s insane, so she can’t be reasoned with. Well”—he looked at Pocerni and smiled faintly—“not very well, anyway.”

“They might try to take her in and help her,” Cherry said.

“Better treatment than in my day,” Pocerni said.

“I wanted to ask you, Pocerni,” Zeth said, “after this is over, what do you plan on doing?”

“Well, I hope I don’t plan to get sealed up for another ten thousand years,” Pocerni said. “If we can avoid that, I’d really like to travel. I lived most of my life in one spot. Then Darmenzi happened, and I started traveling. It was great seeing all those places, but I’ve never gotten to do it without a responsibility. I’d like to travel just for fun, for once.”

“A good way to spend your time,” Zeth said, “but before you do, would you show me how you learned to deal with insane smarmels? And then if you ever happen to come across one, could you perhaps escort her to me? I mean, you know, any crazy smarmel. I would certainly like to help her– them regain their sanity.”

Cherry nudged Numer in the side and pointed to Zeth. Numer’s eyes widened as he saw the professor fidget and blush green. What was he so embarrassed about? He didn’t…? Smatilla wasn’t even a slube.

Pocerni looked at Zeth and smirked. “Yeah, I can help you out, dude. Things really have changed a lot since my time.”

Zeth cocked his head. “Whatever do you mean?”

“In my day the way to treat a crazy smarmel would be to, well, dispose of it totally.”

Zeth grimaced. “Oh.”

“Speaking of crazy cleeple,” Cherry said, leaning on the Transpide, “Darmenzi. Did you ever come up with a plan in the meeting room?”

“Nope,” Pocerni said. “Doesn’t matter, though. These dudes are just our ride. It’s really up to us when we get up there. We’ll just take the seven orbs and focus the power inside through us. We can attack Darmenzi using the power of the orbs.”

“Can we destroy him?” Cherry asked.

“Couldn’t last time,” Pocerni said. “He was too strong. Maybe Conrad could still be useful in that regard, though. Help weaken the big monster. If not, we can always seal it in the moon. This time if he leaves his crystal behind we can remove it, make sure he can’t seep out into it.”

“Yeah, and if a disaster happens, it’ll be on the moon,” Numer said. He threw up his hands. “So who cares? What can he do?” His mind immediately considered the worst case scenario. He tried to shake it away. “It’s not like he could control the moon and make it crash onto the planet, right?”

***

A few hours later the ship was ready for launch. The slubes and Conrad proceeded to the ship bridge. A screen at the front stretched across the bridge and showed video feed from ahead of the ship. At the dashboard along the bridge’s wall, a crew of spleeches proceeded with making final checks. Conrad’s agents waited in the lower deck.

“Everything is ready, Conqueror,” said a spleech.

“Excellent,” said Conrad. “Are you four ready?”

“I won’t get any readier than this,” Numer said. They sat in the Transpide, clamped down so it would not roll around as the ship flew.

“Send the alert for everyone to fasten themselves securely,” Conrad said. “We’re going to Mintop’s moon.”

The ship rose on the docking platform to the hangar above the ocean, and the roof split open. The engine rumbled like an erupting volcano.

 

Duth_Olec: No, two volcanoes! Conrad’s ship’s gotta do better than Chee’s, after all.

Wally_Plotch: Does it?

Duth_Olec: Conrad sure thinks so. I mean, he is from a society that’s had space travel for more than a millennium.

Wally_Plotch: By whose units of measurement?

Duth_Olec: Well, I was thinking Earth’s, but Conrad’s home planet would still count it over a millennium. I mean, it’s really high over a millennium. I did not mean for the conversation to go into this topic. Or for there to be a conversation, Wally.

Wally_Plotch: Okay, resuming writing.

 

Numer hoped the shaking was supposed to happen and that it would stop before it shook the scant contents of his stomach out his mouth. The Transpide shook and rattled like a rowdy clothes dryer.

 

Duth_Olec: Actually, that’s probably just the old dryer in the room next to yours, Wally.

Wally_Plotch: Wait, there’s a dryer here? Can’t you just use The Cloud to dry clothes?

Duth_Olec: Yeah, the dryer is actually empty. This is all really just a science experiment to see if it’s possible to write a story while distracted by a loud dryer on the other side of a wall.

Wally_Plotch: But I’ve never even heard it before. Wait, no, I know how this works now. That’s just a joke.

Duth_Olec: Man, it’s not even a joke. Sometimes I think that’s what we’re really here for.

ALFALFA: As pointless as it is to point out, I shall remark that were the sound to originate in The Cloud, it would show up on the sound detector in the chat.

Wally_Plotch: Good point. Anyway, the ship and the Transpide shook so much that if it had been any more intense, the Transpide would probably fall apart.

 

Impossible!” Zeth shouted, raising a finger. “The Transpide is built far too sturdily for it to fall apart from mere shaking.”

“Who are you talking to?” Cherry shouted through the rumbling. “We can’t hear you anyway.”

“At least the Transpide is held in place this time,” Numer yelled.

 

Wally_Plotch: Hold on, did Zeth just respond to what I typed? No, no, of course not. He must have been responding to someone else I didn’t notice because I was distracted.

Duth_Olec: Distraction!

Wally_Plotch: Exactly.

 

With the engines at full

 

Duth_Olec: Distraction!

*yelp*

Wally_Plotch: Is that necessary?

 

With the engine at full thrust, Conrad’s ship launched into the gray morning sky. The forces and shaking pinned the slubes and Pocerni to their seats.

After entirely too much headache-inducing vibration and rumbling the ride smoothed out as they left Mintop’s atmosphere. They were on their way to Mintop’s moon.


Chapter 19: Dragged into Darkness (coming soon) | Table of Contents

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