Meanwhile, aboard the MoonShip Waist of Space… (continued from part 1)
“What’s that knocking?” Tarquin Stuart-Lane asked.
Meredith Winstanley took a look through the porthole of the aptly named MoonShip Waist of Space in which she and Tarquin had recently arrived on the lunar surface, and saw the very large face of a very large alien looking through the visor of a very large helmet at the top of a very large spacesuit.
“I th-think it wants to say something,” she st-stuttered. With all the bravado of her privileged upbringing, she opened the porthole and said, “H-hello?”
“You can’t park that here,” came a very small voice from the very large face in the very large… you know the rest, don’t you?
“Pardon?” Meredith asked, politely.
“What?” Tarquin demanded, less so.
“I said,” repeated the alien in a very small voice, “you can’t park that here.”
“We’re on the moon, for God’s sake,’ Tarquin exploded.
“You can be in the Big Cluster, for all I care,” the alien retorted, “and I don’t mind whose sake you are here for. You can’t park that here. Not now.”
“Says who?” Meredith wanted to know, “And on whose authority?”
“Says me, Artivon Grumpblast, trainee drone in the Sol 3A exploring team.”
“The Sol 3A exploring team. Our job is to find out if this lump of rock can support life. There’s a big delivery coming next cycle, and your little thing is in its way. Now shift it.”
“And if we don’t?” Tarquin asked.
“I was so hoping you wouldn’t ask that.”
The alien started crying. That’s right, crying; sobbing like a toddler who’s just been told he can’t watch his favourite kids TV show. Not the screaming, stamping type of toddler; the sadly wailing type; the sort of child who makes you feel really bad about stopping it from doing what it really, really wants to do.
“No, don’t cry, otherwise you’ll set me off, too,” Tarquin blubbed.
“Well, move then.”
“We can’t. We don’t have a button for that.”
“Now what am I going to do?” Artivon Grumpblast asked dejectedly. “They sent me out to move you, and I’ve failed.”
Meredith was a little more level-headed than her colleague, and wondered, “What will they do to you for failing?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never failed before.”
“You must be a splendid drone if you’ve never failed before; we all fail occasionally.”
“You don’t understand. They’ve never asked me to do anything before.”
“I see. Are you very strong?” Meredith asked.
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Do you think you could lift our ship?”
“I expect so.”
“Okay. Here’s the plan. We can’t move our ship, for reasons of, well, lack of buttons, frankly. If you need us to be somewhere else, why don’t you pick us up; very carefully; carry us to where you want us, then very carefully put us down again?”
“I can do that. That’s simple. Why didn’t I think of it?”
“You would have. We just beat you to it. Sorry.”
“I would have, too, wouldn’t I? Does that mean I’m smart?”
“Probably the smartest trainee drone in the Sol 3A exploring team.”
“I’m the only trainee drone in the Sol 3A exploring team.”
“Then definitely the smartest.”
“Yeah; that’s me. Smart.”
Trainee Drone Artivon Grumpblast wrapped his very large arms around the MS Waist of Space, carefully picked it up, and activated his anti-grav pack, effortlessly lifting it from the ground. The ensemble moved forward a few hundred metres and he ever so gently brought it back down to the lunar surface; a landing far smoother than they’d originally experienced.
“Thanks, Artivon,” Tarquin said. “I guess we’e friends now. What do your friends call you?”
“Are we really friends? I’ve never had friends before,” Artivon said, “I guess you can call me whatever friends call each other.”
“Okay if we call you Arty?”
“Yeah, if that’s what friends call each other. Should I call you Arty, too?”
“No. You call me Tarq, and my friend here is Merry.”
“I’d better go back now. It must be time for my tea. Can I come and see you next cycle?”
“Of course, Arty. You might even be able to help us with some work we have to do.”
“I’d like that. Bye-bye Tarq. Bye-bye Merry.”
“Bye-bye Arty,” they chorused in reply.
I wrote part one of this tale in response to Kreative Kue 39, issued on this site earlier. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.