Chapter 39

"Oh, Hey Chris." JB greeted his brother as he walked up the stairs. Chris nodded back to his brother while he pulled off his coat and hat. JB never looked up from his paperwork. "How's Sandy?"

Chris grumbled as he set about filling his mug with water from the cooler. "Mark's doing great, Sandy is insane. The whole time I was there she had Mark balancing a bowling ball on top of a stack of sand grains, while he sharpened her knives using a bit of hardened grit. The poor kid was doing it for three hours and looked like he was about to drop. I thought it was some sort of Karate Kid kinda crap, but she just looks at me and says, 'No, I just needed someone to sharpen my knives and figured the Bowling Ball would be a good distraction'. Mark overhears and loses it, rightfully so mind you, and the bowling ball falls off the sand. Sandy gets furious and she starts yelling that Mark has to start all over and they get into a screaming match for about ten minutes before I open my big, fat mouth and start sticking up for the poor kid. Sandy then starts on me trying to look down her shirt..."

"Were you?"

Chris hesitated a bit. "Well, yeah, she did have me on that one. But Jeez, JB you should have seen what she had on." Chris made a slashing motion about mid sternum.

"So, how were things when you left?"

"Hmm? Oh, fine. Mark was back balancing bowling balls when Sandy and I got back from the restaurant. I'll give that kid one thing, he's part bulldog."

JB smiled at the passing restaurant reference, but was careful not to let Chris see him.

Chris walked over to the table. "You still working on those forms?"

"Yep. Just finishing the last up now. Apparently Zrng informs me that as the Earth attaché, it's my responsibility to enter in all this crap." JB sat back and surveyed the piles of printouts that were spread across the table. "You know you'd figure that the Galaxy would have evolved beyond paper at some point."

"Are you kidding? I'm sure there are whole species that are specially bred to be bureaucrats. Getting rid of paperwork would probably be tantamount to genocide. So where is our beloved Protectorate anyway?"

"Oh, he's passed out over there." JB jerked a thumb past the futon that had apparently grown several empty kegs and a rather blurry, disgruntled looking green wart. The wart was intently watching "Invader Zim". Chris hoped he wasn't taking notes.

Chris walked over and sat down next to his alien roomy. "If you hurl, please be so kind as to spare the futon or the floor. I don't want your post-processed alien cookies burning a hole through to Annie's."

Zrng ignored him and merely belched loud enough for several moose in Alaska to take notice. "Blahzer-frazin' space rats don't know a p'jojo paradise from a have sexual relations with ball of mud."

The universal translators that both Chris and JB had, uhm, received were amazing devices. Unfortunately, they don't really capture a fair amount of the nuance of speech. In this case, while Zrng was quite obviously slurring and barely coherent, the happy little translator provided him with a surprisingly clear voice, only the odd untranslatable phrase arriving as originally issued. It was a bit like listening to an English professor reading Faulkner while the original author blurted out words whenever he regained consciousness.

"So the reviews are in?" Chris asked, not really expecting to get an answer.

Zrng looked at him with bloodshot eyes. Chris presumed they were bloodshot, but considering that most of the time Chris had ever seen Zrng, he wore those weird wrap around sunglasses. Zrng dug around the futon looking for something, finally pulling out a device that looked like an exceptionally large palm pilot. He held it close and carefully tapped a few areas. He then handed the device to Chris.

It showed a rather glossy picture of two happy what-zits frolicking in what appeared to be yellow asphalt. The words quickly resolved into English. One of the smaller titles read "Latest Safari Reports, What's the Latest Frontier have to offer?" Chris tapped it.

The screen displayed various shots of Boise. Chris' eyes grew wide. "Zrng! I thought you said that you were going to keep the tours away!?" He asked very concerned and more than a bit worried.

"Don't have to. Read on sporty."

Tucked away in the D'saggi Cluster is the recently discovered planet of Chester-III.

Chris looked confused. "'Chester'? Our planet is named 'Chester'?"

Zrng looked like he was talking to a three year old. "No" he said as he held up a finger, "your star is named 'Chester'. Your planet hasn't been accepted yet so you don't have a name."

Chris continued reading

This is a primarily agricultural planet with a sprinkling of quaint communities. This is not the planet to go to if you're planning on dancing through the night.

"Oh, come on! This is Boise for cryin' out loud! What did they expect?", Chris shouted at the magazine.

Our tour guides were knowledgeable about various sites, but a great deal of the so-called city appeared exactly the same. This is obviously not a people known for creativity, so skip the museums.

"Heh, if they only knew that JB was lying the entire time, I bet they'd have another opinion about the whole creativity issue."

The luncheon show was moderately tasty, but the natives involved some campy acting that spoiled the actual presentation.

"ACTING!? I nearly got myself bludgeoned by a thirty foot bologna and they call it ACTING!?'

In summary Chester III gets a grade of 43 which puts it somewhere between TwineWorld and the Planet of Lint. Unfortunately, it lacks even the goofy charm of those two planets. If it comes down to spending time in the Intergalactic Void or Chester III, consider taking a trip down to HoloBuster and seeing what's available for when the Zen of the Void becomes a bit overpowering.

Chris put the device on the table, and quickly drained his half-liter mug of water. He passed the now empty glass to Zrng. "Beer me."

A few moments later, the lofts windows exploded in a shower of broken glass.


Roger! We've got a serious situation that I don't think I can handle. Go fetch Karl, he needs t' take control. Now Git!

Whoa there partner! No need to get all grabby! Here why don' cha just cool off with a bit of ice. Ooh, bet that hurt.

What? Sleepin'? Well go wake his sorry hide up, we've got a serious, EEP! serious situation here!

Rope, rope, rope, this'll do. Yah! Gotcha, now you just set for a bit!

Well, go shake him, 'r kick 'im in the head or somethin', Roger, Crimany, Ah'm a bit busy here!

Ooh, nice shot JB.

What? Myron! You sure?

Well, I'd Yow!.. Git, GIT! I'd prefer if Karl were here...

Ok, well if you think so.

Of course I can handle this. I was quite the pugalist.

Take THAT! A-HA! Amazing, these individuals appear to be disguised as some utility workers.

Feel the fists of fury from the Detective!

Ah, so you want more? Then take thi... Let go of my arm! Oh, are you going to kick me in the h



Property: Tabor and Associates.
ACCOUNT: JSR TOYS -- 8091JSR-0023
ADMIN: B. MALEVOLENT

[music: something light, happy, invoking carefree childhood days]

[SCENE: young MOM sitting at kitchen table with coffee cup, looking at camera like a good friend. (Good for young family demo.)]

MOM: I've read recent studies that say that our children aren't learning important math and science lessons early enough to become competitive in a global marketplace. Of course I'm worried about my own kids. I want them to have every opportunity to be the best and brightest they can be.

[MOM stands from table and bends over to pick up TOMMY (age: two to four or midget)]

MOM: That's why I'm doing something now to make sure that Tommy is aware of the wonders science has to offer him.

[MOM places TOMMY in BFFC and stands clear]

ANNOUNCER V.O.: That's why we make Baby's First Faraday Cage, a safe environment where your children can explore the wonders of electromagnetism.

[Camera watches proud MOM contently watching arching electricity strike the BFFC]

MOM V.O.: Sure, at first I wasn't sure if I wanted Tommy in something like this. It sure looked scary, I was told that provided Tommy keeps all limbs inside Baby's First Faraday Cage, he'd be safe and secure. And the best part is that Baby's First Faraday Cage has hundreds of other uses too!

[Montage of clips]

MOM V.O.: I can rest secure that Tommy is always safe from kidnappers and other threats.

[Footage of KIDNAPPER being juiced by several million volts. May need mannequin if we can't get Bill again.]

MOM V.O.: Tommy never needs me to turn on the night-light.

[Footage of Tommy in jammies tucked safe into the chair. (ATTN PROPS: Janine from Child Safety said we may need welder's goggles for Tommy.)]

MOM V.O.: And Mealtime has never been so much fun!

[Footage of MOM opening freezer to remove dinner and tossing it toward BFFC.]

MOM V.O.: or so easy!

[Footage of hot cooked meal landing safely in Tommy's hands. (ATTN PROPS: NO ALUM. TRAYS!!)]

ANNOUNCER V.O.: Baby's First Faraday Cage. New, from JSR Toys.

JB awoke with a throbbing headache.

"JB? Don't move! I'm almost out of these." Chris said. There was the sound of a small, motorized saw cutting through something fibrous. It sounded like a dentist's drill, which only made JB's head hurt more. JB forced his eyes open to stare up at the ceiling. He lifted his head up to see Chris wrapped in what appeared to be several bright green straps. His coat, and a fair number of items from it were strewn out on the floor beside him. A few of the straps hung loosely, JB presumed that Chris had managed to cut through them.

"Oh, man, how long was I out?" JB moaned.

"About twenty minutes. Long enough for our buddies to finally hustle Zrng out of here. Hey! I told you to... Well, I guess I can safely presume your neck isn't broken. How do you feel?"

"Like I've been kicked in the head." JB muttered. The room swam a bit as he sat up, but it fell back into place.

"I bet. That was some shot you took."

"It was nothing compared to what Myron got."

"Should I ask?"

"No. Just let it be said that having been the all metro boxing champ of Seattle, 1923 is no match for professionally trained martial artists."

"Or long-linesmen apparently."

"Is that who attacked us? Here let me get a few of those for you."

"Thanks. Yeah, from what I was able to see, these guys looked like they should have been running powerlines rather than storming the loft. Aw, man! I just got those windows replaced!"

"Are you going to let Annie install the security system NOW!?" JB asked his brother.

Chris said nothing, simply glared at the far wall. "I still think I could get one that didn't cost as much, OW!"

JB didn't apologize.

"Ok, ok, I'll talk to Annie this week."

"Good, he could use the money after that whole pool incident and there's only so much you can make off of those pills."

"Ok, OK!" Chris snapped back.

JB started on the final strap. "Granted, I'm not all that bothered by what happened."

Chris let a small smile cross his lips, "Good point, now those clowns from RUS have to deal with Zrng when he's hungover. Hope their insurance is paid up."

JB stopped cutting."Who?"

"Oh, that's what was written across their backs. A big R-U-A, just like you see on those FBI and CIA jackets on TV, except these guys were wearing coveralls."

JB looked confused. "Who's the RUS?"


An unusual number of utilities trucks raced by the local Caribou's Coffee outlet, this did not escape the attention of the unusually clean-cut looking barista with the clip on nose ring. He immediately excused himself and ran toward the back of the shop, much to the disappointment of the woman on her cell phone waiting for her tall decaf latte with extra foam.

He burst into the back room where a very military looking individual stood leaning over several maps, schemas and diagrams, none of which had anything to do with coffee, other than the conspicuous rings along the outer edges.

The Barista snapped a salute. It was returned.

"Sir," the Barista barked, "I just spotted a fleet of RUS moving due west past our operations."

"What? How many?" The officer asked.

"I'm not certain sir, however I estimate at least five trucks, possibly six. There was steam from the expresso machine.."

"Fine, due west you say, how fast do you estimate they were moving?"

"Approximately 90-110 sir. Well above the speed limit."

"Hmm, well speed limit out there is aboot 72.. damn English system they use here. Get on the radio and notify HQ. There's something on and it's time we found oot."


Is that him?

Yes sir, that's the alien from Boise.

Do you know what species he is?

No sir.

Is he sedated? He's not moving.

No sir, that's how we found him. It may be that he was a prisoner of the two USHA reps. Kinda strange though, sir.

Hmm? What's that?

He smells like beer, sir.

Beer? Can aliens drink beer?

We're not certain. We don't have a good deal of information about the effects of alcohol on alien species. Frankly, it just wasn't something we thought about investigating.

He seems to be waking up. How are those restraints?

The cables are tungsten steel alloy sir, the navy uses them to launch aircraft. They'll hold.

What about the eye guards the alien is wearing?

We're not certain, but we felt it would be best to leave them in place.

I see. I suppose we should begin.

Yes sir.

'AT-TEN-TION A-LI-EN VIS-I-TOR. WE MEAN YOU NO HARM. PLEASE TELL US WHAT YOU KNOW OF CA-NA-DI-AN ACT-IV-I-TY.'

Uh, Sir? Why is the volume up so loud?

We don't have a translator.

Shpx lbh.

Johnson? Write that down. "Shpix libuh." Get the boys in the lab working on that, stat.

Sir?

Stat. Quickly! Geez, don't you people watch ER or anything?

Uh, right, yes sir. Uhm, how is that spelled?

It's spelled...

'A-LI-EN VIS-I-TOR. CAN YOU PLEASE SPELL SHPIX LIB-UH?'

Sir, he's looking rather annoyed and keeps trying to cover his ears. I think he might be hung over.

Possibly, but he obviously understands us. Look he's spelling it out. I think that's an I, or maybe a lower case L. Damn, probably some alien alphabet. Hmm..

'A-LI-EN VIS-I-TOR. WE DO NOT UN-DER-STAND. YOUR SPEL-LING. CAN YOU SHOW US WHAT SHPIX LIB-UH MEANS?'

There, look he's showing us what

*KSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH*


Who is the RUS?

What do they want with Zrng?

Who's got a good deal of asprin,
tobasco, tomato juice and a raw egg?
.

Tune in next time for:

Hair of the Dog
or
To Kill a Sunrise

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