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

The Voyage
Part 2

          "How did you get those crystals?" Eskimo demanded of Wiz after kicking the door down and stomping into the room.

          "The power crystals?" Wiz looked up from the video game cartridge he had been messing with. "Buff had 'em. When the backup power ran out Bristol installed them to keep us going until the government noticed us again."

          "Where'd Buff get them?"

          Wiz shrugged, and Tom entered the conversation with, "He said something about getting them from his sister. She lives on some unknown planet somewhere. He used to always write to her."

          Tom ducked under the counter to get some rum, and when he came up, Eskimo was gone.

* * *

          "Don't you see? Buff's sister must have got the crystals from the zero-G field we came from. She could have been a crystal kid like us!"

          "How'd she escape?"

          "Same way we did, I expect. Through a yellow crystal."

          "But she brought some of the other crystals with her? But they were as big as us! How could she carry them? And how did she fit them all in the yellow crystal?"

          "I don't know. I guess we'll just have to find her and ask."

* * *

          "What's wrong?" Buff asked again.

          Shanra brushed a long, wavy strand of red-brown hair out of her eyes and shook her head. "I can't contact them. All I get is static and... I think I hear 'Hot Stuff' in the background."

          "Why can't we go in again?"

          "We need to get them to open the big doors over there, see? But we need to contact them."

          "Why can't we contact them?"

          "Because, all I can get on the communicator is static and 'Hot Stuff'!"

          "And why can't we just go in?"

          Shanra kicked him with her high-heeled black boot. "Shut up, Buff."

* * *

          When Eskimo went up to the bridge to switch CDs she heard someone trying to contact her. A rich, female voice with a slight London accent flooded over the comm. "Come in, Death Dragon... this is the Eskimo 1..."

          Eskimo pressed the talk button. "This is Captain Jones of the Death Dragon, and that's my ship you've got there!"

          "Don't blame me. Blame Buff."

          Eskimo could hear Buff's voice: "What's this do?" There were various awooga-awooga noises, a sound like glass shattering, a bloodcurdling scream, a car horn, and a sound like a trash can being knocked over.

          "That activates the Canadian sound effects CD!" Eskimo could hear Shanra say. Louder, Shanra continued, "Sorry about that. Um, can we come in? We've been flying around the ship for a few hours now, you probably don't want us wasting too much more of your fuel..."

          "Oh, sorry about that. Hang in there." Eskimo turned on the commlink to the docking bay. "OK guys... pack it up. Anyone still in the docking bay by the time I count to twenty-four will be killed instantly. One..."

* * *

          "...Twenty four. Here I come, ready or not..."

          Riverboy yanked Skippy into the lift capsule at the last second. The lift slid shut just as the docking bay doors started to open.

          Shanra flew the Eskimo 1 expertly into its previous parking space, pretty impressive for someone who had never been on the ship before and didn't know which space was Eskimo's28 . When the airlock closed she leaped out of the little ship, dragging an unconscious Buff behind her.

          She found the lift and took it up to the floor marked "Bridge." When they got there, they found everyone having a party.

          All heads to turned to her. Upon seeing the tall redhead completely clad in tight black leather, several cartoonlike things happened. Jaws dropped to the floor. Eyes turned into hearts and bugged out halfway across the room. Whistles, saxophone music and unrealistic pounding hearts could be heard. Shanra blew some hair out of her face boredly.

          "Hiiiiiiiiiii," Skippy grinned, drooling idiotically. At least he was acting normal.

          "I'm Shanra," said the redhead. "I'm Buff's sister."

* * *

          The party was in full swing when Eskimo approached Lance taking a breather on the sidelines. Had Eskimo been able to see past his shades, she would have seen that his eyes were locked on Shanra, who was shaking her booty not far away. Eskimo was certain, however, that that was the case, so she did not need to see past his shades.


          "Well what?" Lance asked, not shifting his gaze.

          "Well, what did you find out from Shanra while you were dancing with her?"

          "She's a student at Andrekson Space Academy, but she's on holiday. She enjoys dancing, flying, shooting, singing, and long walks on the beach. She's a hip, savvy SWF, age 18, 5'7"--"

          "I mean, what did you find out about her childhood? Did she appear in the crystals?"

          "Huh? Oh. I guess I forgot to ask."

          "Laaaaaaaaaance!" Eskimo whined.

          "Listen, it's not my fault! I mean, you go up to her, knowing just what you want to say, and she turns around and looks at you with those big green eyes of hers, and any thoughts you had just fly out of your head."

          "I thought you were immune to stuff like that."

          "What gave you that idea?"

          "Well, you didn't seem to be making a babbling fool of yourself. That would suggest that you didn't lose your train of thought."

          "All that stuff I said to her, that was all Auto-Charm. I didn't know what I was saying."

          "But, I bet if you could do it over again, you wouldn't do it any different."

          "Sure, but I'd ask about that thing you wanted me to ask about-- what was that? oh yeah. The crystals."

          "Why don't you go back an ask her now?"

          "Same thing'll happen as before. Why don't you try?"

          Eskimo was about to reply when Taluki approached them. "Hey, guys, I hate to interrupt, but, um, we're kind of under attack."

          As if in confirmation, there was a loud blast and the ship rocked vioently. Everything was thrown into confusion. Gaining their balance, Lance, Eskimo and Taluki ran for the bridge. When they passed Shanra, Lance caught her hand and dragged her with them.

* * *

          "Reroute all thruster power to the outer shields," Eskimo ordered.

          "Captain, wouldn't it be more logical to use speaker power? We don't really need to have 'Disco Inferno' playing in every room, do we?"

          "Shanra, you're a genius! Make it so, number one!"

          Nothing happened.

          Eskimo glared at Lance and Taluki, who were at the main console. "I said, 'Make it so, number one!'"

          "Which number one?" Taluki asked. "Me, or him?"

          "I don't care! One of you, do it, quickly!"

          Taluki glanced at Lance questioningly. He gestured at the console. She gestured back. He returned with a different gesture. Eskimo watched this display in exasperation.

          Finally Taluki spoke: "Odds evens?"

          Lance shook his head. "Janken."

          "Eenie Meenie Miney Moe."

          "Rock Paper Scissors."

          "Bubble gum, bubble gum."

          "We can flip for it."

          "Heads or tails?"

          "I don't care. You decide."

          "No, you can decide. I don't really care either."

          "No, go ahead--"

          "Oh for the love of Leick. I'll do it." Eskimo climbed out of the captains' chair, walked over to the console, pressed a little button, and went back.

          "Captain, while your two crew members were trying to decide on that, we were hit seventeen times."

          "Percent-sign star at-sign number-sign star dollar-sign star percent-sign and-sign star exclamation point exclamation point exclamation point!"

          "I'm picking up communication, sir." Shanra listened intently to a voice over her headphones. "They're the military police demanding the safe return of all the soldiers we kidnapped, and--"

          "So now they decide to check up on them? After forgetting about them for years and years? Just our luck!"

          "Should we turn them over?" Taluki asked.

          "I suggest we return them," Shanra stated. "Am I correct in assuming you stole the power crystals from my brother's base?"


          "Then return the base inhabitants but keep the crystals. They're mine, anyway, they're not military property. If you'd be so kind, I'd like you to then drop me off at Senna Base in the Aloac System."

          "Aloac System? That's, like, 99% uncharted territory! Is that where you live?"

          "No. But I have unfinished business there."

* * *

          The ex-crew of the moon base boarded the military ship without much complaint. In exchange for the safe return of their soldiers, Eskimo requested an escort to Aloac System. Her wish was granted. She had figured as much. It was a time of peace, and the military was bored. All they had to do was routine base inspections. That was why they had suddenly showed up looking for the inhabitants of Moon Base Nine.

          Having sent the moon base people off with the military, the original crew of the Death Dragon, plus Shanra, enjoyed a night of peace and quiet. With the ship on auto-pilot for Aloac, no one was needed on the bridge, so they all gathered in the living room for some quality family time.

          "Vroom, vroom," said Skippy as he played with some wooden trucks before the simulated fire. Nearby, Riverboy had put his monkey feet up and was relaxing with a nice copy of the Catalog of Applied Mathematics. In a corner, Lance sat behind Taluki, brushing her long, silky hair, while listening to the conversation of Shanra and Eskimo.

          "I was in this green crystal. I dared not move. After awhile, one side of the crystal disappeared, and these wierd gray beings were looking at me. I talked to them, and I was surprised that my words were in their language. I now recognize that language to be Standard. Since we could understand each other, I demanded to know where I was, but they didn't tell me. They gave me a bunch of tests and put me to work picking fruits for them. The work was tedious and boring. I was able to nourish myself by eating the fruits we picked, though that was banned, rather than eat the food they provided. I saw what it did to people. It made them robots. They had no free will. I acted like them when the aliens were around, but first chance I had, I sneaked away to one of the yellow crystals I'd seen the aliens using to get around. They seemed to value their crystals very much, so I told four others from the apple-picking troupe to carry them for me. I said it was on orders of one of the aliens. With the four of them carrying the crystaks, I was free to activate the yellow transport crystal. I pressed some buttons on the side of it, and half of it melted away. The five of us managed to squeeze into the yellow transport-- it was pretty big one-- and we were transported to a desert. We walked for awhile until we came to a completely circular pit. A crater of some sort. It was about half-filled with water and there were some plants growing up around it. The five of us lived around the oasis for about a month. Without the alien food, my four companions regained free will. In about a month, the oasis was discovered by military surveyors and a base built up around it. We were all about to join the military when the Carralians-- those were the gray aliens-- showed up to take us back. The military didn't want any conflict with the aliens, so they let them have three of us companions, Arkon, Maraia, and me. Raoul, that traitor, he conned the military into letting him and Buff escape in return for the crystals." 29

          "What happened?" Eskimo asked.

          "The aliens took me, Arkon and Maraia back to the old planet. They force-fed us the brainwashing food and the rest is all so vague... I remember the Carralians made us clean and do chores... I think..." She got kind of red. "I think they wanted us breed... I don't remember much... until Buff came back for us in the Eskimo 1. I was the only one he was able to convince to come back with him."

          "This planet, with the Carralians--"

          "Near Aloac. I have to go back to rescue Maraia and Arkon and all the others who were kidnapped by the aliens." She leaned over the table so that Lance and Eskimo could almost, almost see down the front of her jumpsuit. "Can I count on your help? I can't do it alone, and you two tell me you were kidnapped by the Carralians, too--"

          "Of course we'll help," said Eskimo valiantly. "After all, if I wasn't so into smashing stuff, we'd be there working mindlessly for those aliens, too."

          "Can I get this straight?" Taluki asked. "Sorry if I don't grasp this whole thing, but I'm not one of you crystal children. OK. So these aliens, the Carralians, they use crystals to get around."

          "Yellow ones."

          "Right. Yellow crystals," Riverboy, who had been listening absently to the conversation while reading his book, explained. "So they go around putting these yellow crystals next to villages that are just, just about to be wiped out, and they snatch the smartest, strongest kids from these villages."

          "Right. Then they take them back, brainwash them, and make them work. And word doesn't get out about this, because all the witnesses are dead!" Shanra smiled. "I understand it now."

          "Well, why do they need intelligent kids? Why not just strong ones?"

          "I can answer that," said Shanra. "They tested me before they put me to work. If I had tested with exceptional aptitude in math or science, they would have put me to work in those fields. Since I did not, I was given mindless work."

          "Why don't they snatch smart kids and dumb kids who are really strong?"

          "They do. Just look at Buff."

* * *

          The next morning, the Death Dragon and the mil ship touched down at Senna Base. That was the only military base that far on the outskirts of the explored galaxy.

          The captain of the mil ship had gone to a restricted area to report back to his superiors. She was going to see about getting the moon base veterans retrained and relocated30 . After she had accomplished this, she arranged Eskimo Jones an interview with some of the top brass.

          Admiral Candon glared down at the young pirate captain. "What is it you want, civilian? Cat up a tree?"

          "Well, some of my friends and I discovered an alien race which is sneakily enslaving human children, and I thought I should probably report it to higher authorities."

          "Surely you don't expect me to believe that? Listen, kid, I don't need hooligans like you wasting my valuable time."

          "It's true! They capture children from places where there will be no surviving witnesses, and not just any children, either, just the ones they think will serve them best. Then they capture them, brainwash them, and put them to work. They've probably stopped of late, as most of their children have probably reached adulthood, and now they're building a race of superhumans."

          "Get out of here, kid," the admiral sneered. "I don't have to listen to this nonsense. Race of aliens kidnapping children and enslaving them, indeed! And how am I to know that you know this, pray tell?"

          "They captured me, but a fellow prisoner and I were able to escape early. Later I met up with a prisoner who had escaped by avoiding being brainwashed. Admiral, you have to help us put an end to this! I understand it's a bit hard to believe, but you can't just ignore me. I have living witnesses, better still, I-- well, my friend Shanra can take you right to the aliens' home planet. If you ignore us, these aliens will only grow stronger. What have you got to lose from helping us?"

          The admiral ushered Eskimo to the door. "OK, playtime's over. No more wasting the nice military man's precious time. How old are you, anyway, kid?"


          "Ahh, a minor. Get outta here, you crazy juve."

          Next thing Eskimo knew, the door had slammed behind her.

Onward to Act IV!

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