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Lance and Eskimo: Space Pirates
An Epic Adventure in Four Acts
"What's going on?" asked Skippy, looking up from the hopscotch board he was drawing on the bridge floor with brightly colored chalk.
"Oh, nothing. I just put another harebrained scheme into Eskimo's head." There was a pause while Taluki touched a few buttons and Lunatics: A Love Story appeared on the main viewscreen. She picked up the bowl of hot popcorn she'd just made and laughed, "She won't go through with it."
* * *
A few hours later Taluki was on the brige, painting an idyllic lakeside cottage with her oil paints, when the hatchway buzzed.
She put her brush in a cup of water and went over to the main console. "Who's there."
"It's me, Eskimo. I've got a whole lot of people here waiting to board, so you better open the hatch."
"People?" Taluki asked, confused. "Who--"
"The moon base guys, silly. I'm doing like you said, bringing them all aboard."
"But there's not enough room-- but-- I mean--" Taluki faltered. "I don't think--"
"This is the only way I can get these crystals without killing the lot of them. Come on, open up."
Taluki drew in a sharp breath. "You're the boss." She set her unfinished painting on a convenient ledge, put her easel and paints in a nearby storage room and opened the airlock. She spoke over the commlink, "Everyone come on board four at a time through the air lock. I don't want to waste air."
She sat down at the console and tried to look too busy opening and closing doors to help anyone move.
First came a pale, withdrawn-looking guy in a yellow jumpsuit. Eskimo introduced him as Wiz, "the original whiz kid." Whatever that meant15 . Eskimo and Lance entered with him, carrying large cardboard boxes overflowing with tools and spare parts and shiny things. They put his stuff in storage, then had to face the problem of where to put everybody.
They had six cabins in all, four small and two big, so normally each person got one room with one left over for the living room. This and Eskimo's room were the largest. With all the extra people on board, they had to start putting people two to a room, and they actually ended up putting four people in the living room16 .
The four people in the living room were Paul, Nate, Tom and Wiz. Wiz set right to work rigging their Nintendo game system, and it took them months afterward to figure out how to get it all back to normal. Some of the things he did, they never figured out how to undo, so they had to live with them17 .
With the rest of the rooms it wasn't so easy. They finally ended up putting Devyn the Waitress and Taluki in Taluki's room; Ted and Fred the Space Marines in Skippy's room; Buff and Bristol in Lance's room; all the cadets in storage; Skippy in a cardboard box lined with old blankets on the docking bay; and Lance and Eskimo in Eskimo's room. Eskimo hadn't wanted to take in a roommate but she had to, because she had one of the biggest rooms. But it didn't really matter to Lance whether he was in Eskimo's room or his own because they were both basically the same thing: shrines to Hudson Leick, the empress, with whom Lance and Eskimo were both infatuated18 .
Needless to say, it was a little crowded19 .
* * *
That night there was a party in Wiz and Tom's room. Tom made the drinks, Devyn served them, and Paul, Nate and Wiz hung around like louts, just like old times. Only this time they had a new friend, Lance, with them. They shared with Lance their mutual anger towards Buff and Bristol. Paul and Nate and Wiz were jealous of them because they were better-trained and had better technology than the rest since they were newcomers to the base. Lance was jealous because Buff did 200 more push ups than he did. Devyn didn't like them because they were so obnoxious. Tom liked them because they had money20 .
While they were partying, there was a knock at the door. "Who is it!" Wiz called21 .
"It's Buff, I found the sp--"
Wiz had his hand poised above the button to lock the door, but all of a sudden Tom threw a bottle at his hand to slip him up and make him push OPEN. The door slid open, and Wiz shot Tom an evil glare.
"I found the spaceship parts," Buff informed Wiz. "I found 'em. Put 'em all together and make a spaceship."
"Where are these alleged 'parts'?"
"Down. Come on. Put them together." Buff started toward the lift capsule to go downward. He turned around. Wiz was still standing in the doorway.
Buff went back and grabbed his arm and dragged him to the lift capsule. "Come on!"
* * *
Skippy was in his box, playing with his dolly. He heard the familiar whumm of an approaching lift capsule, and looked up. Wiz and Buff emerged.
Buff led the way to a small scouting ship of Eskimo's. It was in perfect shape except for the antenna, which had a piece broken off. Buff held up the antenna piece. "Here are the parts," he said, indicating the ship and the piece. "Put them together."
Wiz produced a welding torch and mask from his back pocket and turned to Buff. "Pay first."
"Oh. How much does it take to repair a space ship?"
"Repairs like this?" Wiz shook his head. "This is a tough one. 7,000,000 credits ought to do it."
Buff obliged, handing over his key card. Wiz chuckled, pocketing the card, and quickly repaired the damaged antenna22 . "Done. Seeya." He scampered off toward the capsule and left the docking bay.
Buff clasped his hands delightedly. "Oh, boy!" He hopped in the ship. He was trained in flying, having been in the military, so it was the work of mere minutes to find the ignition.
Several hours later, Skippy dropped his dolly into Lance's second-favorite scouting ship through the window and was too big to climb in and get it. He went to find Riverboy.
* * *
"He left?" Riverboy asked.
"Umm-hmm. He took the green ship."
"The green ship? That's Eskimo's!"
"Good. Can you get me Angela now? She's lonely."
Riverboy opened the unlocked spaceship door for Skippy and handed him the pink-clad doll. "This is going to be very entertaining."
* * *
"HE TOOK MY SHIP?!!"
"Looks like it." Riverboy smiled, baring his yellowed monkey teeth.
"Can I have a cookie?" Skippy asked suddenly, eyeing the cupboard hungrily.
Eskimo banged her head into the wall. "That-- stupid-- ugly-- mindless-- stupid-- stupid-- person!" she said, banging after each word.
"Can I have a cookie?" persisted Skippy.
No one paid him any attention. Perhaps if he had noticed that they weren't noticing him, he could have got a cookie for himself. No one was stopping him. 23
"I'm gonna camp out on the docking bay till he gets back, and when he does..." Eskimo grinned maniacally, walking onto the lift capsule.
As she regarded the capsule buttons, she had a flash of memory...
... The light faded and Lance and Eskimo looked around, blinking. They were in the yellow crystal. The hole that Eskimo had made with her fist was completely repaired, and they were trapped. However, this crystal was not entirely empty. There was a diamond-shaped console built into one wall. It had some colored buttons on it, and strange symbols were scratched into it.
"What do we do?" Lance wondered.
"I don't know, but I want to see what these buttons do." Eskimo chose a red one. When she pushed it, the entire crystal glowed with red light for a few seconds. Then one fourth of the yellow crystal melted away, and they walked out into the fresh air.
They were in a forest. It was a beautiful forest, untouched wilderness, smelled like trees. It was lovely.
They started walking.
After about half an hour they reached a village. There were thatched huts all around, but not a person in sight. They walked among the huts until they found what was probably the town square. There they saw the first life they'd seen all afternoon, a dog.
Carrying a human hand!!!!! 24
Suddenly they heard a voice. "Come back hear Beef-Burrito-and-a-Pickle-and-a-Coke!" 25
An old man with white hair entered the town square, leaning heavily on a wooden staff. His eyes focused off into the distance, apparently blind. He paused abruptly and sniffed the air. "I smell children! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
"Hello," said Eskimo.
"Finally! Some company!" the man said. "You're strangers. Where did you come from? I didn't know there were any villages around here."
"There's not. I mean, well, actually, there could be, but we're not from here."
"Where did you come from, then?"
"And how did you get here?"
"Another good question."
"Do you have answers?"
"Not as such."
"I see." The man turned back to where he'd come from. "Come with me. There is much to discuss. It's been many years since I talked to anyone."
They followed him down the path and into a small hut. It was dark and cool inside, tastefully decorated with beautiful woven blankets and decorations. He sat on a cushion on the ground made of animal hide, motioned for them to sit too. He didn't have any more seats so they had to sit on the ground.
"Night's coming. You can sleep here," the man offered.
"But before you go to sleep, talk to me. I haven't carried on an intelligent conversation for years."
"OK, may I ask you something?"
"Be my guest."
"Where is everyone else in this village?"
"Dead. Wiped out by The Sickness, years ago. Anyone who got The Sickness died within a day. Our healers caught it before they could find a cure. It was sheer luck that I didn't get it."
"I-- uh-- sorry to bring up such a painful subject."
"Oh, it's not that bad. I was always a bit of a loner anyway. Didn't have any family here, and certainly no friends... except little Maraia... but... that's another story... So. Tell me how you got here."
"No idea," Lance replied.
"I was in a village and we were all gonna be killed my a asteroid, and Lance's village was being torched by raiders," Eskimo informed him, "and then... suddenly... we were gone. We were in this weird place... and we broke out by smashing a big yellow crystal."
The man chuckled. "Ah, the world outside the village is a strange place indeed. So glad I never left this place... although after a certain point the people weren't very nice to me... Maraia was foolish to befriend an old bat like me."
"Maraia? That's a strange story, that... she was a child, a girl of the village... she was my only friend, really. She was a very bright little child, stronger and faster than most of the other children. She could've gone on to do some great things..."
"She died in the plague?"
"That's the strange part. Her whole family had got The Sickness, except her... it looked like she was next. But she went out into the woods to find some water for her family while she was still well enough to get it, and we never saw her again. Most likely she just got an attack of The Sickness while she was in the woods and was too weak to return home, and died out there. But there's always a possibility she got away from it and made it to the next village. That's a long way off though, that is. Even if she didn't ever get The Sickness she probably starved or got killed by wild animals... Still an old man likes to dream."
"From your description she sounds a lot like me," said Lance. "Stronger, faster, smarter than anyone else...................... ................................................................................................................ in the village."
"And you both disappeared from dying villages," Eskimo added. "She's like me, too, in that respect. And, well, I guess I was pretty strong for my age... I could beat up all the kids... and I at least thought I was smarter than the people around me."
"Makes you think," Lance remarked. "Well, goodnight."
But Eskimo was awake for a long time.
"Eskimo... you coming, or going?"
"Huh?" Eskimo looked up. She had been just sitting there in the lift capsule. By this time she'd forgotten where she had intended to go, so she got out and walked dazedly onto the bridge. "What's up, Taluki."
"You tell me. We're orbiting the moon base, waiting for you to give orders. Where to?"
All the events of the past day came flooding back to her. Eskimo said, "We're not going anywhere until Buff comes back with the Eskimo 1."
"Right. Should we land, or keep orbiting?"
"Orbit. I'm gonna run down to the engine room and hook up the power crystals so we won't run out of juice."
"Good thinking. I only came to that conclusion yesterday afternoon. It's already done."
"Don't mention it."
* * *
"Skippy, Taluki, Riverboy, you get the kitchen in order," Eskimo ordered, swimming toward the kitchen door.
"We'll try," Taluki replied doubtfully from near the ceiling, looking out over the chaos of the floating objects. There was pasta everywhere. The gravity had chosen a fine time to go haywire.
Lance followed Eskimo, not because Eskimo had ordered him to but because he wanted to get as far away from the mess of the kitchen as possible. Cleaning up was not his forté.
"What do you think happened?" he asked, floating after Eskimo.
"Probably just the gravity cable got loose from the crystals. Taluki changed the power supply the other day. Maybe she didn't tighten the cables completely."
"Yeah, it's probably nothing."
Eskimo's mind went back, way back to an earlier conversation about gravity...
The next morning Lance found Eskimo looking out over the sunrise26 .
"Thinking." She picked up a rock, looked at it for awhile then threw it. "What do you think that crystal field was? And where?"
"It can't have been a planet. No gravity." Despite their humble village upbringings, Lance and Eskimo were quite knowledgeable about the world around them. For six-year-olds, that is. Their villages hadn't been totally remote and out of the galactic circle27 , so they got books and education about modern subjects. Their village didn't want to deprive them of a "normal" life in the main Galaxy Core. Still, even six-year-olds on Capital Planet aren't Mr. Knowledge.
"And it can't have been deep space. It had air."
"It must have been a ship, then."
"Who would kidnap the two of us?"
"I dunno, but they saved our lives."
"And why all the crystals? What kind of person uses crystals to get around and store small children in?"
"Listen, I'm sorry but I don't have all the answers for you. My guess, though, is it was aliens."
"Come on. People been all over all sorts of galaxies forever and we've never found any aliens yet."
"Well just because humans never found 'em doesn't mean they don't exist, somewhere in the galaxy."
"So you think we got abducted by aliens? Why? Why would they want you?"
"Maybe because they think I'm a god." He smiled. "Maybe I am their god."
When they got to the engine room they found that it wasn't the cable that was the problem, it was the crystal. It had been one of the blue ones, incidentally, and it had fallen to the floor. Half of it was smashed and the power was gone.
On the floor where it lay was a puddle of water.
To be continued…
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