MISSION OF THE UNWILLING [An Extract]
BACK TO THE MOTHER SHIP
Nature’s call woke me before dawn. Gunter slept cocooned in his rug. So much for the night watch and taking turns. Looks like Scratch-It remained contained. Phew!
I skipped to the designated bush area and looked around. Something appeared to be different—just couldn’t put my finger on exactly what. Oh, well.
I cleared the ground of a conference of beetles gathered there, then squatted and yelled, “Geronimo!” to ensure nobody intruded on my privacy.
“Hey, that wasn’t supposed to happen!” I leapt to my feet, my jumpsuit twisted around my ankles. The shrubs had disappeared and were replaced by the glass panels of the transporter enclosure. The control operators fixed their eyes on me as I struggled to pull up my suit.
“My goodness, satellite imaging comes in handy,” Monica said with a knowing smile. I didn’t know whether she meant the “Geronimo” or Gunter, or both. “Made all the difference beaming up the Kombi with that Grey Nurse inside—who would’ve thought she was a mole.”
“So that was it,” I said. “I wondered what was different. You beamed the van up.”
“Yep, straight to the lower decks. Scratch-It’s being escorted to the Brig as we speak.”
“Now you just need to deal with the other criminals.”
“Sure are.” I followed Monica. “Tails and Maggie—they locked me up in the Brig.”
Monica guided me down a passageway where the walls were marked with green “Decontamination Rooms” signs and arrows pointing in the direction we headed. Everything on this vessel seemed to be scaled up in size and sophistication, like I had moved from a country town to the big city. Must be the Mother Ship.
“Didn’t you kick Tails? Everybody’s been talking about it.”
“I did for good reason, Monica. He harassed me…And he confessed to killing my brother.”
“Not what he says.”
“By the way, where’s Fox?” No harm in asking—or pretending Gunter was Fox.
“I have no idea. He was beamed up just before you, not sure where he is now.” She rubbed her nose and avoided my eyes. I sensed all was not rosy in Monica-world. There was something she wasn’t telling me. And on reflection, the Teleportation Crew, had appeared distracted, a furrowed brow here, pursed lips there, and beads of sweat on the back of necks.
I halted in the corridor amidst the crew of the Mother ship darting from one end to the other. “What’s going on?”
Monica guided me to the decontamination cubicle. “Nothing. You stay there. I’ll get you some nice, calming magazines.”
I chased her and grabbed her sleeve. “You’re not telling me something. What’s been happening? Did someone get hurt in the missile attack?”
“Nothing for you to worry about.” Holding my elbow, she directed me back into the chamber. “You need to rest.”
I pushed each side of the door. “I’m not moving or resting till you tell me.” I had to ask but part of me didn’t want to hear the news. “Is it Fox?”
Monica looked up at the ceiling, the door, the water-cooler; anywhere but at me. “Er—no—look—Al can wait.”
“Al?” I clutched at her arms. Al? Traumatized? Gone crazy? Injured? “What, Monica?”
Monica blinked her eyes filling with tears. “He’s dead, Minna.”
“Al? Dead?” The news hit me like a thunderbolt. “No!”
“Yes, Minna, dead.” Monica dragged the back of her hand over her eyes.
“No, I don’t believe it!” I stared at the floor as tears blurred the view of it. Our friend. Our footy mate. Gone. All while I was with Gunter on the planet below. “How?”
“Enemy attack. When the crew arrived back from the planet.” Her lip trembled. “A mutant mole had a bomb strapped to them. Must’ve been triggered by teleporting back to the Sister Ship. Destroyed it. Took out our main Teleporting Pad too. That’s why you ended up on the Mother Ship with no warning.”
“Oh, no!” I gulped, forcing the lump in my throat down to churn in my stomach. “How many?”
“Fifty.” Monica choked back a sob. “I set up a Memorial website.”
“A Website. Latest thing on Earth. Fritz updated the computer programs so we could do it. He’s been keeping tabs with all the new technology on Earth.” She sighed with a shudder. “Like information that everyone can look at on the computer. Check it out while you irradiate.”
At the doorway I stood, stunned. “Oh.”
“Well, now you know.” Monica waved for the door open. “I’ll come back soon.”
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2015
Read more of this-quirky space-adventure as Minna and Gunter and their friends fight to contain the mischief and mayhem of Boris. It’s free on Amazon Kindle from Wednesday February 1 to Sunday February 5, 2017.
Painting: Dawn and moon-set over Lake Fyans, Grampians Victoria © Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2014