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Lance and Eskimo: Space Pirates
An Epic Adventure in Four Acts

The Ship

      For generations, it had been a symbol of peace and prosperity. It had been placed proudly at the center of town for all to see. People came to it for comfort, to admire it, and, if for only a moment, to reach out and touch its smooth surface, to feel the energy of love, light and beauty coursing through their bodies.

      It was called the Jewel of Life, Jay di Leno in the ancient tongue, and without it, everything would seep into chaos. The villagers valued it so that they had formed a small militia to keep it safe from anyone from the neighboring villages who might try to take it. They loved that jewel, and they couldn't imagine life without it. They knew they had to keep it safe, and so they did.

      Then the bandits came.
* * *

      Taluki yawned, leaning back in her chair on the bridge as Lance and Captain Eskimo Jones struggled with the four-foot-tall, extremely heavy jewel.

      "How come I always have to be the one walking backwards?" little Captain Eskimo managed to ask, amidst groans, grunts and, when the jewel dropped on her toes as it often did, loud, unprintable1 expletives.

      "Cause you're good at it," Lance replied, trying to make the backbreaking lifting seem effortless (and failing).

      "Yeah, yeah... aarrgh, my arms are getting tired. One the count of three, drop it. One.. two..."

      "OWWWWW!" Lance yelled, pulling a black-booted foot from under the fallen jewel. "You-- didn't-- wait-- for-- three!" He hopped down to medical bay, moaning and complaining loudly.

      "You guys should have Amazon boots like mine," Taluki advised. "They last forever."

      "Yeah, well we didn't know we were gonna have to carry something that big." Eskimo sat down sulkily on the arm of Taluki's chair, pulling off a leathern boot and rubbing swollen toes. "If your boots are so hot why don't you carry the damn diamond?"

      "Oh, you know I'm not as strong as you," Taluki purred sweetly. She knew very well she was strong enough to help Lance or Eskimo with the giant gem2, but that wasn't important. What was important was conning her way out of all the work around the ship, and she was very good at it.

      "Anyway, that thing's more trouble than it's worth."

      "I dunno, it's worth a lot. Did you have to fight much to get it?"

      "No, we just had to fend off an angry mob of villagers with pitchforks and torches. We had the stun blasters, though, and it was over fast. Outside the ship we could use the tractor beams, but we've been lugging that thing around from the docking bay." Eskimo put some weight down on her foot experimentally. "Of course, you'd know all this if you'd come down with us."

      "Someone had to watch things on the bridge."

      "Yeah, and you weren't even here. I couldn't reach you on the bridge com link. I had to come in here myself to get the tractor beams on and close the airlock and everything."

      "Where are we going next?" Taluki asked, changing the subject quickly to avoid rebuke.

      "I hadn't thought that far ahead." Eskimo cracked her knuckles as Taluki thanked her lucky stars that the short captain had taken the bait and not pursued the previous subject any longer. "Want to help me move this diamond to the trophy room, or shall I wait for Lance to come back?"


      "That's what I thought you'd say."

      In an effort to stall some more, Taluki said, "You know, this really is prime pirating country. It's so out of the way, no one knows about it, there's lots of booty no one's ever found, no military to outrun and no other pirates to fight. It's sweet."

      "It's making us lazy."

      "That's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, we're staying in proverbial shape..."

      "Yep, I do six hundred push ups a day," Lance, who had appeared in the doorway, said in a self-satisfied voice.

      "Come on, let's move this baby." Eskimo went to her end of the jewel.

      "Yeah Taluki, go help her," ordered Lance.

      "I think you should, really, your being friends with her for a long time and all."

      "No, I insist. You're kind of new on board, I mean relatively, and you really should do some captain-crew bonding, y'know?"

      "It's OK, really, I wouldn't want to deprive you of any quality heavy-object lifting with your best buddy."

      "Ahh, I can do that anytime. It's you who should--"

      "One of you help me with this now."

      "Lance, you should do it, you're so strong," Taluki breathed reverently, and Lance couldn't resist that. Eskimo rolled her eyes as her friend leapt into action.

      "She's just saying that to get out of working, you know," Eskimo confided as they hauled the jewel to storage.

      "I know. I can't help it," Lance replied. "Compliments go right to my head."

      They put the gem in storage and went back to the bridge. There, sitting in a corner, was Skippy, who they had long since learned of whom to take no notice, and his best friend, the superintelligent monkey Riverboy.

      Taluki came rushing onto the bridge. "I would've come faster, but I went to the bunderscotch," she said breathlessly.

      Skippy looked up from his game of Candy Land. (Riverboy was winning because Skippy just got a red card with a black dot in the middle. Also Riverboy was card-counting so he had an advantage.)

      "What's a bunderscotch?" he asked.

      "It's my word for bathroom. I think it's endearing."

      They lifted off a few moments later, unaware of the stones that were being thrown at the ship by villagers on the surface. The only way they could have been unaware of this was if the person working the sensors was totally negligent of his or her duties. Which was in fact the case, because that party was currently painting Riverboy's toenails a lovely shade of pink. (He had got bored of Candyland. A pity, so close to the end. And as Riverboy could tell him, a double blue card was next, and could bring him to victory.)

      "Um, Captain sir, where exactly are we going?" asked Taluki, looking over Lance's shoulder at the navicom.

      "To the stars, Skipper," Eskimo replied dreamily, staring off into the starry void through the main canopy. "To the stars."

      Taluki reached around Lance and plotted a course for the nearest moon. "A remarkable analysis, leaving only about six trillion possibilities. If we confine ourselves to this galaxy... Captain sir," she added as an afterthought. She didn't want to be disrespectful.

      However Eskimo was in no mood to listen to such petty arguments. She stared off into the stars, a smile on her face. Remembering.

      A tiny child stood in the middle of the empty town square, gazing wonderingly upward. A tumbleweed passed in the fiery light of the asteroid. The child did not notice it. She was busy admiring the meteor that was hurtling toward her location at speeds up to 700km per hectare.
      "We're all gonna die, we're all gonna die," someone moaned from inside a ramshackle hut. They were all ramshackle huts in the child's village.
      "Come inside," a maternal feminine woman's voice hissed from a doorway.
      The child did not look round. "What's the point?" she asked in an adorably high-pitched young voice.
      The maternal feminine woman had nothing to say to that. This child was quite odd.
      Suddenly something swooped by out of the sky, so fast all the villagers saw was a blur.
      And the child was gone.

      A tear rolled down Eskimo's cheek. She brushed it away quickly, turning round to make sure no one had seen it. She was amazed to see a tear rolling down Skippy's cheek as well as he, too, stared out into the stars. Telepathy? she mused, but chased the thought out of her head. That fool can barely think his own thoughts, much less mine.

      But Skippy was lost in though, very much his own.

      "What do you think stars are?" Pumbaa asked.
      "Someone once told me that the stars are the kings of the past watching over us," replied Simba.
      Timone laughed. "You mean there are dead kings watching us? Who told you THAT?"
      Simba nodded, forcing out a chuckle. "Yeah, I guess it is crazy, huh." He stood abruptly and left.
      "Something I said?" Pumbaa wondered aloud.

      "Sir, a very large object is rushing at us!" Taluki shrieked frantically, snapping Skippy to reality.

      "That's the moon we're landing on, you idiot,"

      "That's no moon," Lance replied in what seemed to Eskimo to be a ridiculously awed voice. "That's a space station."

      "No it isn't, it's a moon," Eskimo corrected.

      "Oh, my gosh, you're right." Lance shrugged. "Ya win some, ya lose some."

      "Ready the space tanks," Eskimo ordered.

      "Space tanks...?" Skippy wondered eliptically.

      "You don't know anything, do you," Taluki said in exasperation. "A space tank is... a space tank is... tell me what a space tank is so I can explain it to this dolt," she requested of Eskimo.

      Eskimo shrugged. "I dunno, but it sure sounds grand, doesn't it? Remind me to steal some next time we reach a mil base."

      "Looks like your wish is coming true all too soon," Lance spoke up ominously.

      To be continued…

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