MOONJACK! Act Four – Part 2

And so began the incredible journey of one arm seeking to be reunited with its owner. Such journeys were fraught with challenges and difficulties that even the bravest adventurers might find daunting, but the scale of the task for a lost and lonely limb can scarcely be imagined let alone captured in prose.

For the arm known affectionately to its owner as Lefty, it began with a few simple flexes of its digits, finding what purchase it could on the smooth floors as it made like a steel spider with its hand and prepared to drag the rest of its length through the maze of Moonbase corridors.

***

Elsewhere, in a scene that, to crueller imaginations, somewhat mirrored the epic endeavour of Lefty, Commander Braun was dragging his sorry carcass along similar corridors in a mode of forward movement he had dubbed ‘land-swimming’. His event was freestyle, varying between a sort of butterfly and a desperate crawl. When he attempted a backstroke it got him nowhere but on the other hand it gave him the occasional opportunity to lie there and sob for a bit while he recovered some of his energies for the next –

Damn it, he had almost thought of it as the next leg. Whatever didn’t kill you made you stronger, according to popular wisdom, but so far all his unfortunate injury had done was fill him with contempt for the word ‘leg’. He never wanted to hear the word ‘leg’ again, in any context, least of all plural. Besides which, a ‘leg’ in land-swimming terms was suggestive of a length or two of an empty pool – whereas the distance he was expecting to cover, all the way to the Med Bay, stretched ahead of him like a marathon.

But, damn it, he would make it. No matter what.

He flipped himself over onto his front and resumed his crawl. And he thought only of Henna, waiting for him in the Med Bay. And as he battled his way along, he trained his mind’s eye to start picturing her just as the flash forward had done – from the waist up.

***

Henna was deeply worried. New frown lines were already competing for prime facial real estate that was, frankly, already overcrowded. Commander Braun – John – never complained about her lines, he said they added character. Occasionally, Henna would secretly visit Professor Burgerminge to ask him to develop a better anti-character cream, but he would always tell her sadly that there was nothing he could do. Relativistic effects, he would say.

Peering warily around the deserted Med Bay, she thought of the Professor and feared for his safety. The guards had been called away to the defence of the base, but she had found the door locked when she had arrived. She assumed Zanac had secured the door after him when he had escaped, whether through some effort at deception or some compulsive disorder. So she had clambered up onto one of the medical couches and sat there, waiting for news of the battle. Any minute now, she expected the doors to swish open and a steady stream of wounded to be wheeled in on gurneys, testing her medical skills and quickfire pronunciation of complex medical terminology to the limit. Old TV broadcasts had reached the Moonbase over the years and if the dramas were anything to go by her methods were very sedate and stale by comparison, but she liked to think that with a lot of cases to handle at once she might step up her pace a bit.

John might like it, seeing her in action.

After a longish wait with no news, she started to fret and she hopped down from the couch to try to monitor the comms. The chatter and the distant sounds of battle from out in the corridor did not bode well, but still no gurneys came. It was around then, when she was worrying about her worry lines, that she thought of the Professor and it occurred to her that maybe Zanac hadn’t escaped at all. Maybe their alien ‘guest’ had tried to gain access to the iso lab.

Arming herself with a large hypo full of sedative, she crept cautiously towards the lab. She put her ear to the door. It was a heavy barrier, but she thought she could hear muffled sounds. Raised voices, perhaps? And a strange drumming?

She held the hypo firmly at the ready, then glanced around for the trolley she usually stood on to reach the keypad.

The door hissed unexpectedly open and a stampede of giants came pouring out. Knocked flat on her ass, Henna looked up a lot of skirts and flared trouser legs rushing by. Even through her dazed senses, among the boots trampling her, she recognised Zanac’s gold platforms.

Amid the multiple crushing impacts, she was aware of a piercing jab to the solar plexus and imagined that one of the giants must have been wearing stilettos. But once all the feet had charged on past, she could just about crane her neck to see the oversized hypodermic sticking in her abdomen.

As the sedative flooded into her veins, so several hundred medical terms flooded her brain, none of them remotely adequate to the task of summing up her current condition.

***

“Wait! What did I just step on?” said the woman right behind Ferret and the whole group stopped and turned. Commander Schoenig in particular didn’t look like he appreciated the delay.

“Elena!” he reminded the woman. “We have to get moving. Fast.”

Before the mad rush for the door, Schoenig had attended to a few introductions – although there were at least fifty revived crew and Ferret lost interest after the first dozen names. Ferret was being taken along as a bargaining chip and although he had tried to explain that they wouldn’t get much for him, Schoenig had insisted. Anyway, it meant that he knew the woman who was holding up proceedings as Doctor Elena Russert and the object of her fascination was immediately clear.

She was squatting to examine the not too dissimilarly named and creepily identical looking Henna Russeau, whose crushed little body was pinned to the floor by a dirty great syringe.

“She – she looks just like me, Walter.”

“Yes, Burgerminge did a great job.” Schoenig shrugged impatiently. “So?”

Ferret opened his mouth to point out what he’d thought earlier – i.e. that the attention to detail Professor Burgerminge had shown in crafting his dolls shed a great deal of light on the state of his corpsified mind. But something in the way Doctor Russert’s lip trembled – or tried to tremble, as though her features still had a lot more thawing to do – suggested she had other concerns.

“Where’s your compassion?” she demanded, big dewy tears forming in her eyes as she stared at her Commander. “Don’t tell me your heart froze too while you were in suspended animation?”

“Of course not,” said Schoenig, softening his tone and coming back to take hold of her hands. The rest of the crew let out a collective sigh, as though matters of urgency frequently had to wait on these sorts of tender moments. “But we have a base to save.”

“They’re – they’re like little us-es, Walter.” Her upper lip was just about managing a proper tremble now, but the rest of her face remained stubbornly stiff. The wrinkles looked in danger of becoming full-on cracks and Ferret’s cosmetic sensibilities would have compelled him to warn her to get a hold of her emotions before her whole face became structurally unsound. Ultimately though he didn’t care for these people, what with them being his captors and all. Mostly he just wished she’d stand up and get moving. Of all the females here, she had the legs least suited to miniskirts but Professor Burgerminge, in his madness, hadn’t thought to spare her uniform fabric. If it had been Ferret, he’d have had a few of the puppet crewmembers going around more scantily clad rather than have those past-their-best gams on display. The fact that she was squatting just made it harder on the eyes of all those present. Except, apparently, Commander Schoenig.

“Look,” said Ferret, “I know my partner would seriously mess up my face for saying this, but if you really are set on stopping him, can we get a move on?” In truth, Ferret was still hopeful an opportunity would present itself to scupper these people’s plans and make sure his and Knucks’ scheme was firmly on track.

Schoenig glowered at him, but was soon appealing to Doctor Russert. “He’s right, Elena. We have to stop these criminals. We have to prevent that explosion.”

Whether it was the gentle press of his hands on hers or the stilted dialogue, she was persuaded. Finally, she stood and smoothed down her skirt, banishing those cellulite-riddled thighs from sight.

With some things out of sight wasn’t immediately out of mind, but as they all hurried on out the room, Ferret reasoned that the Goyles ought to be in control of the Command Centre by now, so Schoenig and his friends were probably running straight into a gun battle. And, while he was never over-fond of shootouts, he trusted in the unmatched ability of some good honest violence to dispel memories of even the most shuddersome kind.

***

From the brief view of them he’d had on the assault shuttle’s screen before they’d been vaped, Fleagles had looked like pretty cool ships to Knucks. The interiors were nicely appointed too, including a comfortably padded pair of seats in the cockpit that might have served well as recliners for watching a bit of TV. So all in all it felt pretty cool to be flying in one, especially since he could sit back in the co-pilot’s seat and extract full entertainment value from the sight of the midget grappling with controls at least four times too big for him and straining to see over the console and out through the viewport.

The little blighter was doing a grand job though and Knucks got to watch the craggy and cratered lunar landscape rolling past underneath them, untroubled by threats of a crash. The four Goyles were sat in the back, out of sight. Mini-Lieuntenant Verdigris had warned them not to mess with any controls back there, as the only available module was a sauna, apparently, and had been placed in quarantine for some reason. Knucks didn’t grasp the full story and could only conclude that a lot of weird shit had happened on the Moonbase over the course of its long journey.

Regardless, they were on their way and soon this moon would be making other journeys.

Reveries had the habit of being interrupted – such was the nature of reveries and this one was no exception. The comm bleeped and a screen on the panel between the seats lit up with Fremengor’s face, although ‘lit up’ was far from the right phrase. It turned out he had good news though, so he might have been smiling.

“We have captured the Command Centre,” he reported.

***

Well done. We’re a few minutes away from the site now.”

Fremengor nodded at Knucks’ ugly features on the screen and surveyed the Command Centre with satisfaction. The scene was very like the one, post-battle, in the lounge outside the hangar, but with fewer potted plants. Smoke and debris and only the corpses of his enemies littering the ground or sprawled over control consoles. They were good devices, these Crematoratrons that Mr Knucks handed out. No having to confront your own losses, so assuming he gave the fallen Goyles no more thought – and it was a lot easier to do with them being disintegrated – the victory here looked a pretty good one. Enemy dead, everyone, Goylish mercenaries, nil.

The mini-humans had put up a stiff resistance and it had taken a lot of heavy fire to shift them. Which had led to some structural and systems damage, but if their employer wished to complain about that then Fremengor would sagely point out that this was to be expected when hiring Goyles.

“Some systems have sustained damage,” he admitted. “It’s possible that the defences around the waste disposal site have already been deactivated.” He surveyed the mess once more, noting several ruined stations that continued to spark furiously. “It may be some time before we can verify that.”

Advertisements

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s