Party Bus of the Gods
Muluu, the last du’qot’na in the galaxy, watched the party airbus descend onto the parking lot.
Muluu didn’t know he was the last du’qot’na, of course. Nor did he know that, even now, the remnants of his race were either floating around in space, thousands of miles above him, or burning into nothing but ash as they entered the atmosphere of Zaladon IV.
And of course there was one body that drifted so close to the pirate ship that Kell had thrown on a space suit and magnetic boots and grabbed a tow hook. The saurian pirate reeled that du’qot’na in, drooling the whole time. But Muluu didn’t know about that, either.
What Muluu did know was that he was very, very concerned about the rapid descent of the airbus. It was larger than the vehicles that routinely used the parking lot, two stories tall and lit up in neon and flashing strobes. Booming music emanated from it, rattling Muluu’s teeth. The last du’qot’na watched as it tried to fit between a hovercycle and sporty aircar rental. He held his breath as the airbus came down at a slight angle, heading straight for the hovercycle. Then it over-corrected and looked as if it was going to crush the aircar. But at the last second it swerved again, straightened, and landed perfectly between the two smaller vehicles. Muluu breathed out a sigh of relief and put on his best professional smile.
Muluu had left his people after some heated disagreements over their proposed mission of deicide. Muluu’s argument was that, hey, any god who could throw a moon at them was not a god to be fucked with. It was a solid argument, but it fell on deaf ears and led to accusations of heresy and no small amount of pummeling. Not wishing to be a heretic, and desiring repeated pummelings even less, Muluu shut up and did his job. At least at first.
As the du’qot’na visited a variety of worlds in their quest to find the Great Egg of the Universe, Muluu, who served as a fleet envoy, was invaluable in disseminating any and all Egg-related information from the aliens his people encountered. It all came to a head on Vulag, however, when the natives there told the du’qot’na of the Egg that visited their world and those who traveled in it. While one faction of the faithful of the Egg-based religion seized upon the notion of a great Egg-father who spawned the Egg from his mighty metallic egg-producing parts, Muluu argued that the Riders of the Egg, as he called them, were collectively angelic protectors who wandered the galaxy and judged the races they encountered. Obviously, he concluded, the du’qot’na had been found wanting, and thus had their moon tossed at them.
This notion had far less appeal to the fundamentalists than an angry, vengeful god that they could avenge themselves upon, and Muluu, sensing that the tide of opinion was turning against him and that pummelings were imminent, fled the du’qot’na fleet in a little single-person ship. He had ended up on Zaladon IV a few years ago and took a job as a desk clerk at a secluded resort.
Well, less secluded and more remote, really. It was well off the beaten path, although the owner steadfastly maintained that someday soon his resort would be the center of a thriving hub of activity. He had been saying that as long as Muluu had known him, and likely since the day, some ten years ago, that he had built the place.
Still, the serenity of the resort suited Muluu just fine. He had even been promoted from desk clerk to concierge, with an almost commensurate raise in pay. He was just glad that he had missed the hubbub several days ago, and that he had not been the one to hire the waitress who turned out to be a killer cyborg. That was all on the owner, and he was doing his best to keep it a secret. He had paid off the cab driver who had lost both an eye and his aircab and even now had a work crew in the pool area attempting to dismantle the escape pod that had crashed down. All of which cost money, of which the resort had little, so Muluu was happy to see the airbus landing. He walked over to it as the doors opened, his professional smile in place.
That smile froze into a grimace as Otto bounced down the stairs and rolled past him.
The natives had been very clear in their description of a rolling brain encased in a transparent globe, and now Muluu was looking at a perfect example of that description.
Otto turned towards Muluu. “Hey, pal, you got a hot tub in this joint?”
“I…I…,” Muluu stammered. He tried to get a grip on himself, but it wasn’t every day that an angel descended from the heavens in a party airbus and inquired about the resort’s facilities.
“Spit it out, guy,” Otto said. “Look, it’s a pretty simple question. I want to take a dip later, okay?”
Muluu could only stare at the globe-encased brain. He didn’t know how to answer. The obvious answer was yes, since the resort did have a hot tub. On the other hand, it wasn’t working. Muluu really didn’t want to mention that, though, since he was afraid the globe might get angry and throw a moon at him.
“Give the guy a break, man,” said Marc as he stepped out of the bus. He was out of his armor and smoking a major fatty. “Like, we don’t even have reservations, man, and you’re already on the dude’s case.”
Muluu felt light-headed, and it wasn’t just the aroma of the weed pouring over him. The Vulag people had described a man who spoke in mild tones and reeked of gumyup plant. The fundamentalists had discounted his prominence in their hastily-written new doctrines, but the Vulagians themselves had been very impressed by his wisdom, as well as his ability to smoke heroic amounts of their plant.
He had even shown them how to make something called a ‘gumyup brownie.’ Muluu had tried one, and it was a major factor in his determination that yes, these were in fact divine beings.
Muluu fell to his knees, a single tear falling from his eye.
“Riders of the Egg,” he cried. “Ask of me what you will, for I am yours to command!”
Otto tilted towards Marc. Marc looked down at Muluu, and then at Otto. And then at Muluu again.
“Like, I mean, a dip in a hot tub would be cool, man, “ he said with a shrug.
“I have failed you,” wailed Muluu. “For it is broken and the service company has the parts on back order! Strike me down if you will, for I should have paid the premium for same-day interplanetary parts delivery!”
“Ah, no big deal,” said Otto. “We have a hot tub on the bus. I just wanted to float in one that didn’t smell like frog.”
“Ah, cool it, Otto,” said Marc as he looked around. “Look, this place has a pool and, like, pool chairs and an escape pod…”
Otto raced over towards the pool area, where the escape pod sat, wedged into cracked concrete and surrounded by workers on their fourth break of the day. “Holy cow! That’s got to be the pod we’re looking for!”
“It…arrived…a few days ago,” Muluu offered.
“Like, was there a blonde in it, man?” asked Marc. “We kind of lost one.”
Muluu had started to rise, but fell back to his knees again. “The…the violent blonde?”
“Hey, you know her, man!” Marc grinned as he took a deep drag.
Otto rolled back to Muluu. “Where did she go? Did she have a green princess with her? And how come they kidnapped a crabman?”
Muluu stared at Otto in bewilderment, trying to sort through the questions that he had no answer to while still paying obeisance to one of his god’s avatars.
“It was…my day off.” It sounded lame to Muluu even as he said it.
“Well, shit,” came a new voice. Muluu turned and saw a man with a metal arm and a glowing red eye stepping out of the airbus. He squinted and thought to himself, Are those chrome nipples?
“Hey, Balls,” said Otto. “Check it out! We found Covalent Blonde’s escape pod!”
Muluu stared at the human. “You…are Balls Of Steel?”
Steel gave him a wink and shot a non-lethal finger gun at him.
“The one and only,” he said.
Muluu nodded. And then his eyes rolled back in his head and he fainted dead away.