Prisoners on the Pleasure Planet! Chapter Eleven

Chapter 11

The Beast From 2000 Fathoms

Muluu, the last du’qot’na, waved at the party airbus as it lifted off. He saw Marc waving back from one of the windows.

All in all, it had been quite the religious experience.

The Riders of the Egg had had many questions and Muluu had answered them as best as he could. He had expected to be queried about doctrines and ancient rites but the angels had been more interested in learning what had happened to their missing member. Muluu had assumed that, being divine, they would know the answer to that already. He had almost asked them about that, but then thought better of the notion. After all, he was in good health and fairly happy with his lot in life. The last thing he needed to do was piss off an angel and get squished by a moon.

Muluu had shown the Riders the security recordings he had of the escape pod crashing near the resort’s pool. They watched the violent blonde, the green princess and the crabman flee from the cyborg assassin in a stolen aircar and head east. Muluu wondered why the blonde angel didn’t just strike down the cyborg with her divine might, but again kept his curiosity to himself.

After all, Egg worked in mysterious ways.

The angels spent a single night at the resort and then continued on with their sacred mission. In a way Muluu was relieved. The Riders of the Egg were divine beings, of course, and Muluu catered to their every whim. Such whims had included exorbitant amounts of alcohol, copious amounts of drugs, half a dozen strippers who were taxied in at the resort’s expense, naked water polo (using the angel Otto as the ball), hotboxing the crashed escape pod, something called “jello wrestling,” and a fire that had unfortunately consumed most of the bar.

Still, the angels seemed happy, if a little bleary, when they stumbled into their airbus and lifted into the sky. Muluu glanced at the devastation they had left behind. It warmed his heart, knowing that each and every bit of destruction was for the benefit of a divine greater good. He was sure the owner would see it that way, once he explained what had happened.

As the angels made their way into the party airbus, Muluu had fallen to his knees in supplication.

“If I have pleased you, give me your blessing,” he had cried.

Balls Of Steel had stopped, looked at Muluu with one glowing red eye and one bloodshot red eye, and had muttered a sacred phrase.

Then he vomited, took a swig from his sacred silver flask, and got onto the airbus.

Muluu repeated the phrase again and again. It was so exotic! He didn’t know what it meant, not yet at least, but he knew that some day he would decipher the cryptic message, and on that day Muluu would return to his people a hero, for he would be bringing them Egg’s own words.

Muluu repeated the phrase again.

¡Nunca pidas chili con carne en la primera cita!”

Hours later, as the party bus was flying over an ocean, Steel staggered into the cockpit and flopped into the co-pilot’s chair. Gribbl was flying the airbus, and he was alert and annoyingly perky.

“Hey, boss,” he said. “Looks like you guys had a big night!”

Steel glared at him with his glowing red eye, as he shielded the other eye from the bright sunshine with his cybernetic arm.

“My mouth tastes like the floor of a grindhouse theater after a midnight double-feature,” he complained.

Gribbl nodded, although he had no idea what Steel was talking about. These humans weren’t like the many others he had met during his time among the stars.

Marc wandered into the cockpit, smoking a joint. He was wearing a sleeveless pink t-shirt, bright green shorts and yellow flip-flops. He looked dazed and confused but that seemed to be Marc’s default demeanor.

“Hey, guys,” he said. “Like, how come you didn’t hang out with us and party last night, Gribbl?”

Gribbl hesitated. He wasn’t much of a partier, quite honestly. Back on the pirate ship he tended to hoist a mug or two of grog with the crew and then retire to his bunk, where he fell asleep and dreamed of murky swamps and large, juicy bugs. He had considered joining in the festivities last night but then had found a stack of cybernetic repair manuals and spent the evening in the hot tub, relaxing and catching up on some reading. He thought he had made the right choice. He had picked up a few tips, and his mouth didn’t taste like a grindfloor or whatever it was that Steel had been complaining about.

“I, uh…fell asleep in the hot tub,” he finally said. It wasn’t really a lie, as he had slept there. It was hot and wet and reminded him of home. It was the best sleep he’d had in the decades since he’d left Gulumph.

“Seriously?” asked Otto as he rolled into the cockpit. “We’re never gonna get the froggy smell out of that thing.”

“Shut up, Otto,” said Steel. He took a gulp of tequila from his flask and winced. He had to make his own, using alien cacti grown in one of the greenhouses on the Gran Huevo de la Muerte. He had come close to the real thing, but it still wasn’t quite right. He turned to Gribbl again.

“Any sign of the aircars? I was hoping we’d see some sign of them before now.”

Gribbl shook his head. “No. I set the scanners to hone in on any emergency beacons, but there’s nothing so far.”

“Like, it was cool of Big Mod to lend you his bus, man,” said Marc. “But maybe we should have gone back to the ship instead.”

“No,” said Steel. “Zaladon IV is notoriously difficult to scan from orbit. They have jammer satellites set up all over the place. They take the privacy of their visitors seriously. The best thing we can do is keep searching and hope we get lucky.”

“Hey, we’ll find Covalent Blonde,” said Otto. “We’ve been through worse than this before. Remember that time on…”

His words were cut short as Gribbl turned the airbus hard to the right. Otto went rolling across the floor with a curse and Steel gripped his seat. Marc just swayed in the doorway, his equilibrium somehow unaffected.

“What the hell, man?” Otto gave another curse as Gribbl turned hard to the left, sending the globe rolling again.

Steel grabbed the console and looked out the front window. There, directly ahead of the airbus, was a massive tentacle. It was huge, at least two-hundred yards long, and even as Gribbl attempted to avoid it a second one rose from the depths, and then a third.

“Hang on,” cried Gribbl as he wrestled with the controls. He pulled back and the airbus rose sharply. The engines whined and Otto rolled back through the doorway, cursing the whole way.

“Marc, get your armor on!”

Marc nodded at Steel and let go of the doorway. He slid back into the main cabin, leaving a trail of smoke behind. Steel looked out the front window again, just in time to see one of the humungous tentacles plunging towards them.

“Look out! It’s going to…”

But his words were cut short as the tentacle slammed into the airbus. The craft spun, out of control, the engines sparking and smoking.

And then it dropped like a rock towards the ocean below.


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