MOONJACK! End Of Act One

Mr Ferret didn’t like to admit it, but for the moment it seemed that Mr Knucks had been right. The modest gathering of Moonbase personnel appeared to be treating this like an encounter of the authentic kind. Two or three of them were certainly pointing staple guns at him like he was a real alien, not to be trusted. At least he wouldn’t have to open with the ‘take me to your leader’ cliche since one of the men was standing forward of the group, striking a suitably leaderish heroic pose – with a ‘heroine’ attached to one of his arms in a pose designed to set the feminist cause back several hundred years.

Their commander – or captain or whatever he called himself – sighed, as though tired of hearing the same question from every alien visitor who graced his moonbase. “It’s some kind of relativistic effect,” he said shortly. “It’s not important. I’m Commander Braun of Moonbase Kappa. We’ve granted you the sanctuary you asked for. Now perhaps you’d extend us the courtesy of telling us who you are and your purpose here?”

The (little) man struck Ferret as rather rude and abrasive. It was probably a height thing. Relativistic effect or otherwise, the man very likely felt some need to compensate.

He glanced at the other fellows still aiming their staple guns. The devices did feature a row of lights down the facing edge and thumbs were poised over what might have been firing buttons – so there was a strong chance that these were in fact actual weapons, rather than items drawn hastily from the stationery cupboard.

Ferret supposed it was time to clarify his lack of hostile intentions. He’d had a speech rehearsed, but the unexpected height difference had completely thrown him. “Oh, I forgot to say, I come in peace. Sorry, I should have opened with that. I guess I’m just a bit stressed, you know. It’s very stressful having big alien battlecruisers chasing after you. Easy to forget things. But I do. Come in peace, I mean. You wouldn’t believe how peaceful the peace is that I come in. Totally peaceful.”

Ferret was under instructions from Knucks to oversell it, enough to lay the foundations for later suspicions. That was how he’d put it. He’d probably been at the crosswords again, improving his vocab. He worked on that almost as much as he worked out. More, in fact, since his arms could do most of the exercising while he put his feet up and read the newspaper. Although turning the page was sometimes challenging, sans hands. But it was important, Knucks had emphasised, not to over-oversell it, and that was a difficult balance to strike. And to be honest that was stressing him out a lot more than the large alien battlecruiser that had been pursuing him. Fairly obviously, since that was fake. Well, the battlecruiser was real, but the chase was put on and –

Ferret could feel the situation getting away from him. Focus, he commanded himself. The station commander was looking at him expectantly as if he had asked another question.

“I asked you a question,” said the Commander.

“Oh, sorry. Did you? Sorry, I was miles away. Stress, like I said. What can I do for you?”

“Well, I think it’s more a case of what the people of Moonbase Kappa can do for you.” The Commander smiled like he might if he was humouring a small child. Which, Ferret thought, was a bit rich coming from someone who was only knee-high. (Although he’d have been nearly crotch-high if it wasn’t for these OTT platforms. Be thankful for small mercies, Ferret told himself. That sort of eye level could have led to a lot of awkwardness.) “Like I said, you’ve come to us seeking sanctuary. We’ll do what we can, but you need to tell us about your enemies. What sort of capabilities does that ship possess? You called it an alien battlecruiser, so I’m assuming they’re not the same race as you.”

“Oh, no. Certainly not,” Ferret assured him.

Although they could have been, just as easily if Knucks had been willing to wear the same ridiculous get-up. Warring races were better, he’d insisted, more readily believable than warring factions of the same race. Yes, of course, Ferret had replied with more sarcasm than could be conveyed in written form. Knucks valued his street cred far too much to be seen dead in this garb. No, that treat had to be reserved for Ferret. “You’re ideally suited, trust me. Perfect. You’re svelte,” Knucks had said – and the flattery did help somewhat. “They’ll more likely buy the idea of big bad-ass aliens hunting down a svelte one than the other way round. And then, later on, when they find out different, that’ll make sense in a subverting their expectations kind of way.”

“If you say so,” was the only answer Ferret had been able to give to that. He’d had to resort to that phrase rather a lot through the whole sorry preparation phase. He didn’t know why they couldn’t have just gone and robbed a bank like normal criminals. He didn’t mind wearing stockings, on his head or anywhere else for that matter.

“I’ll be happy to clue you in on what I know,” he told the Commander now, “but perhaps we could go somewhere we could all sit down and talk about things. My legs are killing me.”

He rubbed his thighs to illustrate the point. An escape pod with a little more leg room would have been nice.

“There’s a conference room,” said the Commander. “This way – ”

He gestured towards the door but before Ferret had moved, one of the other officers held up his gun in an even more threatening manner than previously. “Wait right there, cobber. Commander, do we really want to let this thing further into the base?”

Ferret blinked, trying to decide whether to take more offence at being called ‘thing’ or ‘cobber’. “You have nothing to fear from me. I come in peace, as I’m sure I mentioned. And rest assured, as long as your defensive screens are active, the Moonbase will be safe from any punitive action they” – he pointed aloft – “might care to take against you for harbouring me.”

“If you say so, cobber,” said the obnoxious one.

“Now, Alan, this alien – ” The Commander broke off. “Excuse me, what’s your name?”

“Zanac.”

“Right. Zanac here is our guest,” he pointed out to Alan, “and we have an opportunity here to show him – him?” Ferret nodded. “To show him human hospitality.”

“You’re humans?” put in Ferret, making a show of uncontained excitement. He even went so far as to clap his hands. “How wonderful. It really is a small world.”

“What is?” said Alan snarkily. Ferret was beginning to dislike him intensely.

“It’s an expression,” he said. It was incredibly easy to look down on the fellow, what with the platforms and him being a midget. “An Earth expression.”

“Earth?” queried the woman, her bosom heaving at the mere mention of the name. “What do you know about Earth.”

Ferret allowed his best enigmatic smile to play across his face. He wrapped it in a condundrum and laced it with mystery. “We are the Guardians of Earth. We have been waiting for this day for millennia.”

“Millennia?” said the suave-looking dark-haired one who’d been silent until now. Even in the uniform, he looked like he might own a trattoria somewhere.

“I’m exaggerating a bit. For effect. But for ages anyway. But essentially we’ve been watching over the Earth ready for the day when humans return to reclaim their rightful home.”

“Sounds like a crock to me, Commander.”

“Does he really have to be here?” asked Ferret, wanting to inquire if the Australian was the base cultural officer.

“Alan, I think we can save our reservations for the conference room. Right now, we need to hear the full story. Tell us more, Zanac.”

“Well,” began Ferret, moving past the Commander to the door. “There’s good news and there’s bad.”

[End Of Act One]

[To Be Continued…]

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1 Comment

  1. […] Of Act One: 4) Here. Alien visitor Zanac brings tales of Earth since the Moon’s […]


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