Now You See Me…

Echo-1: Part 42

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Mox made Uzi promise to jettison the acid-tainted scout ship, transport and all.

“I’d launch it into a star if it was possible. Sorry to leave you all here. The ladies will be along to pick you up soon.” Mox turned to Veronica. “Jonas will meet you, please don’t use any technological equipment to operate on your whale.”

She was an emotional whale and she loved Vronsky. I hoped she could hold her breath until they got them back into the water. There was no way she was getting out from under him in that transport tank. I stepped into the airlock with Mox and the Sentinel droid. The inner door closed. The outer door opened. We popped out of the ship into space. The Brick was right there and we passed through its airlock into the cargo bay.

X was waiting for us when we got in.

“We need to give Tim to them. Veronica can cut him out of this suit. He isn’t doing well.”

Next to her, laying on the ground like a giant squashed bug, was space wasp Tim. Mox got out of his suit.

“Ok, but I want to try something first.”

I got out of my suit and followed him to the elevator. The Sentinel droid went with us. X stayed behind. We rode up one deck and headed to Mox’s laboratory.

“I want you to show him the wand and see if he’ll tell us how to disarm the virus and remove it from the Banga. Whatever you do, don’t let him touch it. He could use it to infect the Brick from inside and if that happens, we’re finished.”

We went into the lab. Mox had the Professor locked in the heat lamp room with the iguanas. Half of his body was completely flattened out and slid under the door. He was halfway out of the room. He obviously didn’t like the heat.

“You sneaky little devil.” Mox whipped out his sidearm and stunned Mildabbar straight away. “Get him.”

The Sentinel rushed forward and opening the door grabbed the Professor in his vise-grip claw. Mildabbar let out a series of clacks and screeches.

“Look now, Professor, we have Faye’s little flashlight. Faye is dead, all the sisters are dead. All your invasion forces have been defeated and the Magus is in pieces drifting in space.” He paused here for effect. “Hands know’s how to use it too.”

Mildabbar perked up at this idea. He stood up straight and flattening out the front of his now very soiled lab coat suggested I demonstrate my new abilities. We all gathered around the panel Mox had in the containment unit on his lab table. I held the wand, focused my mind and commanded the panel to power down. It did. Mildabbar looked startled and rather worried about this scenario.

“Very im-im-impressive, did Faye show you that, you see she-she trusted you a great deal.” He wiggled his tentacles around in the air. “Let’s see some more, then.”

I focused and powered back on the unit. It came to life and still displayed the Vedma virus language. The Professor clicked his beak with pleasure. “Well, then, she must not have shown you everything. You’ll have-have to come learn with us some more.”

Mox stepped forward stun gun in hand. “What do you me us?”

The Professor cringed and changed color to a bright yellow then green before he returned to his normal purplish hue. He had shown a little too much of his hand. He had an ace alright, there were more cuttlefish beings aboard the Magus.

“All right, Professor, you are going to tell us how to remove the virus from the Banga’s system and for this bit of your most prized trade secret we will return you to your ship and let you go on your merry way. What do you say?”

His big squid eyes narrowed to slits, his flesh turned an almost black color and then for a moment he disappeared. He not only completely blended in with everything around him, he became invisible. I could not differentiate him from the Sentinel droid standing behind him. Mox fired his stun gun where the Professor was standing. Then he fired all around the area. Mildabbar appeared on the floor. He had returned to his normal color. Mox shot him again. He turned red and glared at us. The Sentinel grabbed him.

“Do you have a good hold on him?”

The Sentinel droid who almost never spoke managed to get out an, “Affirmative.”

“Tighten your grip. He stays with you permanently now. Don’t let him go no matter what.”

The Sentinel clamped down harder on Mildabbar. He cringed, clearly experiencing some amount of pain. They were incredibly powerful creatures.

“Klorstabgoverblan. Prisoner. Secure.”

He might have been able to turn invisible, but he was not able to pull away from the rusty precision claws of the Sentinel. Mildabbar was thinking it over.

“You know too-too-too much already.”

Mox put his stun gun back in its holster.

“Alright, plan B then. Put the Professor back in his box.”

The chest cavity of the Sentinel opened and he stuffed the rapidly color changing Professor in.

“Can you hear me, Professor?” Mox tapped on the outside of the Sentinel. There was no response. “Well, we are going to go back to the Magus. To destroy it completely. Then we’re going to come back to the Banga and I’m going to feed you to the whales.”

Silence.

“We’ll let him think some more. Let’s drop off Tim and put the Magus out of its misery.”

We went back down to the cargo bay. Mox told Blunt to park us against the hatch as tight as he could go, that we were doing a handoff. The Brick crushed up against the Banga so hard that it embossed the surface of the hull. It was an airtight seal. We opened the airlock and re-boarded the Banga.

The diamond Varan scout ship was landed next to the transports. The two female Varan pilots were standing talking to Uzi.

“Taegu, Macrai!” Mox walked up to them and placing a hand on each of their chests, he greeted them. They, in turn, did the same to him.

I wondered if there was anyone in space he didn’t know. Taegu looked like a living black and white photograph. She was a slender lizard woman with a long mostly black tail. Her sharp contrasted absence of color was made even more remarkable by the brightness of her partner. Macrai had bright blue scaled skin and intense solid crayon red eyes. They spoke in Varan and told Mox of their perilous journey. They said they would tow the transports and that they would be able to get the whales to safety. They would begin immediately.

We went back onto the Brick and carried Tim across. We placed him in the driver’s seat of the transport. It was where he liked to be. He suddenly started to panic and pointed forward with all his arms. His broken wings fluttered and broke all the more. We all turned to see what he was looking at and directly in front of us as if out of thin air appeared Faye and Baba. Standing and looking as beautiful as ever, like nothing had ever happened.

Death freaked out and open fired blasting Faye to slimy chunks. Baba moved toward me, commanding Dr. Death to calm down as she glided my way. He lowered his weapon. Everyone froze.

Taegu and Marcai were on the other side of her. A large bright red hood sprung out and crowned around Marcai head. It was some kind of primitive lizard defense mechanism. She hissed at Baba. I could hear the low guttural sound of Trag growling behind me. I could sense Nidi moving and I could sense her fear. Baba took another step closer to me.

“Hands, if you’ll be so kind as to give me back my sister’s wand.”

I stood frozen, stupefied. Uzi stepped up next to me. I looked over at him. The white scar ran down his face, his red mechanical eye flashed brightly, his spiky haircut was perfectly in place. He reached under his jacket and brought out a small submachine gun. Not a technologically advanced weapon mind you, but what looked very much like an Earth miniature machine gun. He leveled it at her midsection.

“Your weapons won’t work anymore silly man, I thought you knew that already.” She stepped closer to him. Everyone was silent, no one moved.

Uzi took a step closer to her. The barrel of his gun almost touching her belly. Uzi smiled at her. “You’re supposed to be Baba.”

She reached up and touched his cheek.

“Well, I have to tell you, that you are every bit as beautiful as your sisters.” He fired off all thirty rounds into her and Baba hit the floor. The sound was immense. Shells tinged off the floor as they fell to the ground. Smoke and the smell of gunpowder hung in the air. He reached under his coat with his other hand and brought out his knife. He slammed it into Baba who was now a squirming squid changing color on the floor.

“Death, scan for her! Sargent!”

Death was not responding. Mox told the Sentinel to bio-match her life form. He acknowledged a lock.

“We have you now, my darling, being invisible will not save you.”

Mox smiled his ridiculously big grin and giggled. Uzi stepped back. Death was snapping out of it.

“Get rid of this squid, Sargent.”

Death open fired and blasted her to pieces.

“Are there any more around here?”

The Sentinel was already scanning the area. “Glastroapstz. Negative.”

This was a whole new game. We had no idea how many were on board the Banga.

Uzi turned to Mox. “Ok, so they can turn invisible too. At least we can scan for them.”

Mox shot out his tongue. “The internal scanners are under the virus control, the Vedma are listening to everything we do or say, they know our every move and they could be all over the place. We’re leaving now and we are going to destroy the Magus once and for all. Unless they tell us how to remove the virus. And now they know that too. We’ll see you when we get back if you’re still alive.”

He grabbed me and pushed me toward the Brick. Nidi and Trag ran with us. Mox seemed to be fine with that.

“One good thing, though. If they’re invisible, they can’t carry any technology. If they could, they would have just shot a virus ray into the Brick. Which, lucky for us, they didn’t.” He looked to everyone one on the Banga. “Good luck, my fine friends.” He gave the group a low bow flourished with a spinning wave of his hand.

The Brick closed its door. They were on their own and so were we.

We all went up to the control room. I took the co-pilot seat, relieving Styx, as had now become my norm. Zandar Vandar Blunt had the Vedma ship on the screen. The forward blast shield covered the window. Mox and X took the seats behind us. Nidi and Trag stayed to the back of the room near the Sentinel droid.

X reached forward and put her arm around me. “How are you hanging in their, Daddy-o?”

I told her I was shaken but still moving forward.

“I heard about your space walk without a suit. And about you killing Faye.”

I didn’t really have a response. Blunt looked at me.

“You used the knife, didn’t you?”

I wasn’t sure how he knew. Then he quoted what the Inuit had told me three years ago.

“The hand of the whale wields the weapon he gives in his death.” His big black Gila monster smile made the words ring true. “They knew you would use that weapon. That’s why they gave it to you.”

He reached down to his chest and touched the bear necklace the Inuit had given him. He rubbed a pointed tooth with his fingers. I had no idea how the pilot of an indestructible galactic spaceship could buy into 18th century Eskimo superstition.

Blunt’s focus was ahead of us. “Look at that.”

{ Part 1 ~ Part 43 }

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Sci-fi short stories to inspire your inner rocket building, planet-hopping, astrophysicist space pirate. 🚀

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