Chapter 43

It was yet another slow night at the Grayhound Loft.

The remains of dinner sat in the fridge as the dishes finished drying in the rack. Zrng was back "upstairs" in his transport playing with his new highspeed link. Chris likewise was passing the time surfing around various websites, some of which not featuring scantily clad women. The main reason he wasn't attached to a game controller sat on the couch alternating between the Western Appliance Championship Rodeo Semi-Finals and the Nightly Business report.

Chris watched his younger brother stare nearly fixated at the battling images. The main image showed some carefully coiffed twenty something tailing out the days stock actions and market reports as a rider mounted atop a bucking bull played out in the bottom corner of the screen. JB held the remote out, swapping the images during commercials.

Chris smiled to himself and thought 'if the rodeo featured bear riding too, the whole thing would probably blur together nicely.' An image flicked on Chris' laptop. It was an instant message.

From JB.

chris you there?
Chris Reid
Chris Reid
High bucking business report not your cup of tea?
no not really but karl and beckysue like it, so I let them watch. Private time is goos.
Chris Reid
Your spelling is pretty bad there brah.
yeah I know it's hard because I down't want to look at the screen. Can I talk to you.
Chris Reid
Uh, yeah. All you have to do is move your mouth and make noises.
no, can't it's personal.
Chris Reid
yeah I need your advice.
Chris Reid
Well, I can suggest gold bond powder, but if the itching is too bad, I'd recommend seeing a doctor.
no, it's about a girl.
Chris Reid
Although I'm flattered, JB, I'm not exactly Don John.
that's juan.
Chris Reid
look, chris, I've been ... seing someone
Chris Reid
Who? You've been either here or with me for months now.
well, I've been with her now for about two years.
Chris Reid
Two years? Geez, JB you should introduce her to me.
i have.
Chris Reid
When? I've never seen her.
no, you haven't
Chris Reid
JB, you're making less sense than normal.
sorry. She likes rodeos.

Chris stared at his terminal for a few seconds.

Chris Reid
Chris Reid
Do you mean who I think you mean?

Chris again, stared at his screen, but with a very different expression.

Chris Reid
JB? Can I just say that's way oogey?
Chris Reid
Dude, she's dead.
i'm not so sure about that either at least she doesn't act like it.
Chris Reid
Brah, she's like old enough to be your grandmother.
no, she's a lot younger than that. I think she's only like twentysomething.
Chris Reid
How do you know.
cause there's not a wrinkle on her, anywhere.

"Aw man! That's just wrong!" Chris yelled out.

"Chris, stop looking at those furry porn sites." JB said still staring at the TV.

Chris Reid
JB? Your boffing a dead chick in your mind?
chris it's not like that, it's I mean I like her.
Chris Reid
Was that a mistype, because if it was I'm going to hurl.
no, I really like her as in she's sweet and funny and likes me chris I'm serious but I don't know what I should do. Part of me says this is right, but part of me says we're moving too fast.

Chris could see where this was going. He decided not to continue to ride (no, bad choice of words) tease? (not much better really) taunt his brother any more about the fact that he's having hot and heavy romance with an eighty year old dead chick. He glanced over at his brother. Heck, this was probably the first time JB had gotten a sort of real girlfriend. Granted, it was in his mind, which was probably where a great many ex-girlfriends lived before.

He tried to put the whole affair into a much better light. He pretended that Becky Sue had simply stepped out for a few moments.

Maybe to relube her hip.

Ok, REALLY bad mental image there.

Chris Reid
Sorry, just thinking about something else.
So, what do you think?
Chris Reid
I think I'm really not going to be much help here, brah. Let me ask you, you like her, right?
Yes, yes I do.
Chris Reid
And she likes you too?
Yeah, pretty sure about that.
Chris Reid
Well so long as it doesn't effect the team, what you do on your personal time is your business. Understood?
Chris Reid
Oh and one other thing?
Chris Reid
Don't mention this to Mom & Dad.

Margie stopped and stared up at the night sky. Bob didn't notice it at first. "What's the matter girl?" The air was crystal clear and heavy with stars. Margie was more a silhouette against the moonless sky as she focused toward the heavens.

That's when she growled.

Bob swore at himself for not bringing the laptop hookup, he'd have to make due.

"Margie, let me see."

She lowered her side panel down so that Bob could open it. It was still nearly impossible to use the touchpad to bring up the right display. He ran a tracer through her optical sensors and it came up with nothing. He scanned the alternate frequencies looking for anything out of the ordinary. There was nothing he could see.

"Margie, what are you… Hel-lo."

At the far end of the tachyon field detector, there was a smallish spike. Bob grabbed as much info as he could and closed up the panel.

"Ok girl, I think I got most of it. Come." Margie glanced down toward Bob, then let out a low "wuff" at the invisible point in the night sky. The two headed back down the road.

Number 98? Now serving number 98?

Yes, yes, I am here. Good day. Here is the required paperwork. I believe you will find it all in order.

I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that applicants are not permitted to use robotic agents and must present themselves in person unless...

I have such a statement and authorization.

May I see it please? Thank you.

It says here that you're currently locked inside of your classroom?

I am in a secure location because of a planetary threat that has been imposed upon us.

It says here that you lost the keys to the door..

That is a vicious lie perpetrated against me by those that seek to overthrow me. I am quite capable of leaving my cla.. bunker at any time. I merely choose not to do so. This avatar is merely my agent.

Uh-huh. Name?

Krullux of Doom.

Is that hyphenated, Mr. Of Doom.

What? No, it's just Krullux. I am from the planet Doom.

I see, so it's not hyphenated, Mr. Lux?

No. It's… My name is Krullux. K-R-U-L-L-U-X.

Is that first or last?

Fir.. F.. First or last what?

Name. Is Cruex your first or last name?

No, It's just Krullux. K-R-U-L-L-U-X. It's a family name of great importance. It is right on the form.

Ah, so it is Mister Cruller.

No! It's..

So what are you applying for today Mr. Cruddux.

I.. … I am applying for a military expedition to an unaligned planet.

I see, and your faction would be?

We are Doomian, we do not belong to any factions.

That will require a form 40-93B. Do you have a form 40-93B?

Yes, I have such a form. It is here.

And I presume you've done the environmental impact study?

Yes, I forsee that the environment will primarily suffer plasma burns and moderate radioactivity. I don't see need for orbital shelling.

So you're saying you waive the environmental concussion clause.

Yes. We shall not need that.

Ok, we'll skip the environmental impact part then, but be advised that if we discover you've violated that part we will fine you severely.

How severely?

10 Goblaiks per incident.

10?… that's not a great deal.

Confidentially, I think it's a terrific deal, but the rate increases have been blocked by a very strong lobby.


Yeah. Apparently there's quite a good deal to be made from both sub-orbital rock chuckers and very, very large pothole repair.

I see.

Still, I really wouldn't recommend it. They get a bit protective of their intellectual property.

Intellectual property? You mean dropping rocks from space?

Yes, apparently. There was a group of astro-physicists that tried to challenge them, but they dropped their case when the lobbyists dropped theirs.

I don't under…

From what I understand, most of the crater where the astro-physicists were has been filled back in.

I see. I have no plans for using such devices. My goal is simply to obtain the extradition of the Gryllix on that planet for crimes against my people.

Ah, I see. Let me just check the files then and.. oh dear.

Is there a problem?

Yes, it would seem that there is only one Gryllix on the planet.

Then this should be a simple effort.

Normally yes, however in this case he is the planet's protectorate.

I see..

Well, that's a whole different set of forms then.

Even in the darkness of space, they were nearly invisible.

This was not the original intent behind building the massive sleek war cruisers out of highly polished chrome, merely a pleasant side effect. One that possibly soothed the acceptance of the oversized swept back fins, finials, tiered lighting, and other art-deco flourishes that the twin ships shared.

The ships hurtled through space at nearly staggering speeds, but appeared to be motionless against the perpetual night sky. Within their alien frames ranks of armored soldiers stood motionless, prepared for imminent battle.

Ok, they were prepared for imminent battle about twenty hours ago. Now most of them have fallen asleep from pure boredom.

Then again, a fair number of them had oversized purses or were holding rubber chickens too.

"When I get done with this gig." One of the articulated tanks grumbled. "I'm definitely talking to my agent."

Next to the mechanical warrior, a similar suit of heavy armor shifted back and forth on it's might piston legs. "C'mon, C'MON, Gotta Go! GOTTA GO!"

"Hey, Chuk, What's his hurry?" a third unit asked the first.

"Got me, Mael" The first replied. "I guess he's just antsy to get into action. Fine, he can go charge into the cannons. Me? I'll be happy when this is all over."

"AAAUUGGGHH!!" the second unit yelled in frustration as it hopped in place.

"Jhoee, will you calm down? Geez, we're switching you off of decaf." Chuk grumbled.

"Wait a minute" Mael interrupted no-one. "Chuk, are you here because you owe Krullux a favor too?"

"Yeah, you bet. He got me a great gig on Praxis III. I was the opener for Grrblrrg Odwalski. I figured I owed him a weekend. I didn't think I'd be stuffed into this stupid ship for two weeks though. I'm missing a gig on Deggra Nineteen."

Jhoee continued to do his calisthenics in place, his powered legs hammering against the base hull. Fortunately for him and those around him, the armored suits were well insulated.

"Yeah, that's right. Now that you mention it, didn't our buddy Krullux say that the drop was supposed to be today? He said two weeks, right?"

"Yeah, you're right. he did, didn't he? Oh, there go the darn lights again. Geez, it seems like they're on for a couple of days then they're off for a few."

"Hey, you know something Mael?"


"There's something about those lights that's been bugging me."

"What's that?"

"Well, I think that they're timed to the day. It's supposed to be night now."

"Night? But it's 52 in the afternoon! It's not night now, well unless you're on… Oh, you don't suppose?"

"It would make sense, wouldn't it? The polished knucklehead has never left Doom, so of course the ships clock would be set to Doomian time. "

"Oh, fantastic." Mael groaned as he threw his hands up. "So how many days have we been on this bucket?"

"I was kind of hoping you were keeping count." Chuk said with a depressed tone.

"So we're not on standard time. Fantastic. Well, do you even know what month it's supposed to be?" Mael groaned.

Chuk lifted his hands up, silently acknowledging that he hadn't the foggiest.

"Well, that's terrific. We have no idea what month it is so we can't even guess how many days there are supposed to be in the week! For all we know, we could be there in an hour or stuck here another two, maybe three weeks! And who knows when that little megalomaniac shut off the air."

"TWO OR THREE WEEKS. AAAARRRGGGHHH!!" Joey screamed an became more frantic "GOTTA GO!! GOTTA GO!!"

"Johee, what the fark is your problem?" Chuk finally burst at his overly energetic neighbor.

Johee was nearly bent over, but let out a pretty pathetic whimper. "Bathroom."

"Oh." Chuk realized.

"Ya know, I wish he hadn't said that." Mael said uncomfortably.

You know, that romance was really nice. Well up to the point that Chris had to point out the eighty year age difference.

What will Bob do now that Margie's sniffed
some chrome?

Will Krullux get the right permit
or will he realize he's in line for a
fishing license?

Are huge mechanized
battle suits leak proof?

Tune in next time for:

Motel Diner
The Dinner Bates

Previous Chapter Next Chapter