Tentacles Beneath the Sea
“We’re going to die!”
Otto had rolled back into the cockpit when the nose of the airbus dropped towards the ocean below, and was now screaming in fear from where he had become wedged in beneath Steel’s chair.
“Shut up, Otto,” said Steel with a grimace as he gripped his seat. “If there’s anyone who’s going to get through this, it’s probably you!”
Otto was silent for a moment. Then he cried, “You’re all going to die!”
In the pilot’s seat, Gribbl said nothing but fought with the controls. They were dropping towards the waters below at deadly speed and if he couldn’t pull up the nose Otto was going to end up a lonely, friendless ball of brain rolling around on the bottom of the sea.
“C’mon,” Gribbl said with a snarl. “C’mon, you son of a bitch, pull up!”
Gripping his seat with his cybernetic right hand, Steel reached his left hand over to help pull back on the airbus’s control stick. The muscles in his arm bunched, tendons tightened, but it wasn’t enough.
We’re not going to make it, he thought grimly.
Then an armored arm appeared in the space between Gribbl and Steel. Marc, in his powered armor, grabbed the controls and pulled them back. The nose of the airbus rose sharply, mere seconds before impact. Instead of crashing down into the ocean, it skipped along the surface before finally coming to a shuddering halt. The craft floated precariously on the surface of the ocean, bobbing with the motion of the waves.
Then it began to sink. Water leaked in through the doors, and the airbus started to tilt perilously.
“Crap,” said Steel. He reached under his seat with his cybernetic arm and pulled Otto free.
“Abandon ship, guys,” Otto cried. “Captains and brain globes first!”
Steel raced out of the Cabin, Otto in hand, and ran up the stairs to the second level of the airbus. He triggered a hatch in the roof and climbed out, Marc and Gribbl close behind. Steel breathed a sigh of relief, then remembered what had caused them to crash to begin with. He looked up to see yet another massive tentacle appear. Some were pink, others were green, but all of them were huge and quite capable of smashing them all into paste. One of the green tentacles came crashing down mere yards away and caused a wave that almost capsized the already floundering airbus. Steel barely kept his footing. Gribbl fell on the slick roof but Marc, seemingly unperturbed by the motion, casually caught the frog before he could be swept overboard.
“Watch out, man,” said Marc, swaying easily with the turbulence. “Like, we don’t want you to get eaten by those things.”
Gribbl nodded as he regained his feet. He was strangely touched by Marc’s concern. On the pirate ship it had usually been every humanoid for itself. After all, one less crew member meant a bigger share of the booty for everyone else.
Another tentacle came crashing down nearby, spraying the four with several hundred gallons of salt water.
“That’s it,” said Steel, moving Otto to his human hand. He raised the middle finger of his cybernetic hand toward the nearest tentacle, then pointed it. A bright red laser shot out. Gribbl had no doubt that to a man, or a frog, it was a deadly, destructive beam. Against the humongous green tentacle, however, it left a tiny charred spot that Gribbl had to strain to see. The tentacle waved in the air, then intertwined with one of the pink tentacles. The other tentacles waved about in the air wildly for a few moments, and then they all crashed down into the sea. One of them flopped across the airbus and forced it lower into the water.
“Stupid fucking tentacles!” Steel kicked it once, then again. And again, even harder.
“We do not have time for this shit,” he yelled, punctuating each word with a strong kick. “I want to find Covalent Blonde, I want to rescue the damn princess, and I want to get off of this fucking planet!”
Gribbl gave Marc a concerned look. For his part the human raised his helmet’s visor and blue smoke washed over the former pirate. Gribbl breathed in deeply and suddenly felt much more at ease.
Then a massive green form rose from out of the ocean’s depths. It had a head much like that of an earth’s octopus, but with a single eye. A single eye that was as big as the sinking airbus that they were standing on. It glared at the quartet angrily.
“Whoa, Balls,” Marc said, looking up at the creature. “Like, maybe stop kicking the tentacle now, man.”
Steel looked up at the monolithic creature as well. He pointed his laser finger at it.
“You want a piece of me, pal? Just fucking try it.”
Otto shifted a bit in Steel’s grasp. “Hey, speak for yourself, Balls. Some of us don’t want to be fish food, okay?”
Below the creature’s eye a mouth opened. A large mouth. Gribbl reckoned it was big enough to gulp his old ship down in a few bites. He gulped nervously, then edged closer to Marc and felt the calming blue smoke wash over him again.
“WHAT’S YOUR DEAL, DUDE?” asked the creature in a booming voice. “LIKE, MY LADY AND I ARE GETTING IT ON AND YOU TURKEYS ARE BUTTING IN. CAPICHE?“
“Huh,” said Otto. “You know, this gives me an idea. We just need a holo-camera and a three-hundred foot tall woman, and we could make some righteous tentacle porn.”
Miles above, in the cold reaches of space, Kell was finally full. He had eaten enough for his regenerative abilities to fully heal his once-charred body. In fact, he thought he’d actually gained a few pounds. The yellow men that Steel’s ship had slaughtered had been very tasty, and Kell had probably overindulged a bit.
Still, it beat being a burnt mass of flesh. Besides, with all the wandering around his old ship that Kell was doing, he was sure he would lose the extra weight in no time. It’s not like he had much else to do. The generators on the ship were still functional and provided life support, but with the main engines out he was stuck up here until he could figure out a way down to the planet, where he was determined to find Steel.
And then kill him. Painfully. And without getting flash-fried this time.
Then he was going to eat Steel, and maybe his brain-ball, too.
But that was still going to take getting down to Zaladon IV.
Kell walked down the quiet hallways of the pirate ship and went into the cargo hold. He had looked over the logs and hadn’t found anything that might help him out of his predicament, but then again the pirates on this ship had been notoriously poor bookkeepers. If it couldn’t be eaten, drunk or fucked, they often ignored it, so the cargo bay was filled with odds and ends that no one ever bothered to account for.
Kell spent the next several hours rooting through an assortment of containers, from crates and boxes full of clothes and aircar parts to dusty jars filled with materials that had either dried out or congealed, depending on their original consistency. None of it was of any help, though. Kell was ready to give up and go reel in another yellow man to eat when he spotted a holo-disc at the bottom of a crate. He picked it up and looked it over. There was dust on the label, so grabbed a random piece of silk out of the crate (which was over three thousand years old and worth more credits than Kell had ever seen) and wiped it clean. Kell stared at the label, then he grinned a toothy grin. Then he began to laugh.
The label read, Professor Po’s E-Z Deathbot Construction Manual.