"Captain's Logs from the Story Scribblers Academy for the year of 2016"
In the summer of 2016 four MLs made the questionable life choice to set out on a journey of unknown proportions and an almost certain epic amount of weirdness. After some initial planning, they invited a handful of fellow mad hatter cat herders, wrimo wranglers, madness enabling MLs to join them. They all said yes. Proving they were just as far gone. And thus, Wrimoverse and the Space Scribblers Academy was founded.
Wrimoverse would go on to span two continents, three countries, five time zones, ten regions, more than twelve MLs, and a surprising amount of Wrimos. (No, we are not going to hand count them all, that would truly resemble a box of frogs. Let’s just say it was a lot. A whole lot. A “let’s not freak out, but I think this got slightly out of hand. Oh Baty, these numbers just keep on climbing, what did we do?! Help us all!” lot. So we shall not be counting, no matter how many times you ask. Please, don’t make us count them all.)
Together we set out to expand the known Wrimoverse. To boldly go where no Wrimo had gone before! (And a few places where we had gone before because, well why not?) Naturally (as all good explorers, space captains, and writers do) we had to scribble down some notes about our exciting journey. Events were diligently recorded and transcribed by the crews of each of our four ships. Compiled and presented here for your reading pleasure.
So, if you wish to know all the haphazard shenanigans we got ourselves, the cadets, and the Wrimoverse at large into in the NaNo year of 2016: read on!
Just be warned, we are not to be held responsible for any snorting out loud that may or may not occur. The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are real. For a given value of real, i.e. you know what Dumbledore said about things in our head. Any identification with actual regional leaders, living or deceased, are totally accurate. Don’t believe them if they try to tell you otherwise.
No Timmys were harmed in the making of this story. (Not much at least).
Now, without further ado, we present to you: Into the Wrimoverse
“Hey, you two in the back. Keep up now, ok? Can get lost easily.” Though her voice was a low bark, Lt. Wolfy’s tone was brisk but kind. “At least at first. It’ll become easier.” The group of new arrivals –cadets– was clustered together, their eyes darting this way and that. Their current tour guide was dressed in a crisp uniform, her short dark hair feathered a bit in the front. She wore a serious expression — her default, or that was how it seemed anyway. The long hallway led to an open space ahead. As they stepped inside the open space, they saw the pens. They lined the walls of the huge space. Within each pen, were what looked to be thousands of balls of light.
As they got closer, the little balls of light appeared almost solid, alive even. As Lt. Wolfy approached one of the pens with her group, there was a light noise, almost of tinkling laughter from the little balls of light as they darted back and forth. One brave little light zipped close and buzzed across Wolfy’s shoulder. She reached up and gently coaxed it back to its pen. Amidst the “fuzzy lights”, a figure could just be seen.
Wolfy clicked her heels together and threw a salute. “Captain,” she said respectfully. “May I present the newest batch of recruits that will be joining us aboard the Bunny?”
The Captain brought her head up, smiling. She was surrounded by the balls of light; they danced around her almost lovingly. “Welcome! I am your Captain. My name is Elyndra.” She opened her arms up to the side. “And these – are Plot Bunnies. Don’t be alarmed. Plot Bunnies can be very good. Very good indeed. They can take us places we never thought possible. Our ship is in charge of exploring these places. I hope you are ready for that!”
Wolfy turned to half look at her cadets and jerked her head a bit, signalling that they should give some form of acknowledgement. While there were nods and a few enthusiastic murmurs of assent, another figure approached. “Wolfy! Captain! Ah, are these the new recruits?”
“They are, Chief Inspiration Officer,” Wolfy confirmed. She saluted Skybluefusion. “Cadets, this is our Chief Inspiration Officer, Sky. She helps the Captain tend to the Plot Bunnies and to help keep everyone on track. Make no mistake, without her, we’d all be lost among the Plot Bunnies!”
“Have they completed the tour yet, Wolfy?” the Captain asked.
“Just about, Captain. We’re going to head toward the bridge and then back to their quarters.”
“Good, good. I think Timmy is there. They should meet him.”
“Of course, Captain.”
After a few more moments of bonding with the Plot Bunnies, Lt. Wolfy led them back down the long hall, toward the central part of the base. They could hear him before they ever saw him; incoherent mumblings and a bit of squeaking as if from mechanical parts echoed down the long corridor that led toward the cadets’ quarters. As they rounded a bend in the hall, they were greeted to the sight of a tall mechanical man, his segmented silver body reflecting the bright lights as he moved. “Ah! Timmy, there you are!” Wolfy greeted him with a wave of her hand.
The robot looked up. “Lt. Wolfy,” he acknowledged in his tinny, robotic voice. Somehow, though he was obviously an inorganic being, and he didn’t have eyes per se, only glowing sockets, there was a bit of a furtive look in them.
“Cadets, this is the base’s bot, Timmy. He is here to help assist. He responds to a wide variety of commands.” She looked at them severely. “That does NOT mean that you can use him to go and get certain substances.” She looked around. “His coffee is… subpar at best, so I wouldn’t recommend trying it. Get your own coffee.”
For the first time since they had been assigned to the P. Bunny crew, the cadets saw a smile cross Lt. Wolfy’s face. “Have a good day, Timmy. C’mon, Cadets. I’ll show you to your quarters.”
Once the cadets were settling into their quarters, their excited chatter to one another ringing pleasantly in her ear, Wolfy let out another of her rare smiles. She remembered what it was like to be a new cadet, though it seemed so long ago. The thrill of exploration, the utter terror of embarking on a new adventure. Much of that never really went away; one just learned to use it to their advantage.
With those thoughts and memories whirling through her head, Wolfy activated her communicator, bringing the wrist unit closer to her mouth. “Lt. Wolfy to Captain Elyndra.”
“I read you Wolfy. Are the cadets settling in?”
“Affirmative, Captain. They’re settling in nicely. We have a good bunch of cadets this year.”
“That we do. Wolfy, work on the new Flag Ship is progressing on schedule. Fleet Admiral Baty would like an update. Captain Witchy is busy overseeing the preparations. Would you be so kind as to give him an update? I’ve transferred all pertinent materials to your datapad, including his transmission code. He’d prefer a briefing before he gets here.”
“Of course, Captain. I’ll brief him.”
To familiarize herself with the information, Wolfy quickly skimmed through the report from Captain Witchy that she had forwarded onto Wolfy’s own Captain. Wolfy pursed her lips, nodding to herself. Captain Witchy was nothing if not efficient and there was always a plan. Wolfy had no doubt that those plans were progressing just as Captain Witchy ordered. She would accept nothing less.
Construction on the MLS C. Baty was slowly nearing completion. From the deck above, WitchyRobyn, Captain of the MLS P. Ninja, eyed the progress with something akin to pride over a plan coming to fruition. It was a good feeling and one she was ready to share with the other instructors.
“See here, recruits, this is where you will learn the benefits of proper planning. A ship, like your novel, needs to be grounded in its own world. How does your inciting event affect the world around your characters? This is the question you need to ask.” Witchy turned to the young recruits, eyeing each of them in turn. “Questions?”
Several recruits shook their heads and Witchy frowned.
“You should always have questions. Question everything. Question the words coming out of your own brain. Is there a story there? Write it.”
“I think you’re scaring them, Captain.” Lt. Commander Kistoway approached from the side bay and promptly tripped over thin air. After righting herself, she jogged toward the group.
Amused, Witchy looked on the group with a smile. “A plan, any plan, can help you succeed, even if that plan is to wait until the last week to start work. Even bad plans sometimes work out.”
“Bad plans?” Ensign Alainainthesky asked coming from the back of the group. She snapped a few photos the cadets some of whom tried to hide their faces from the ceaseless photography skills of their overzealous ensign.
“You know, the usual,” Kistoway answered. “Like waiting until the last minute like some people who shall remain nameless.”
“Ahem. We do have a task here. These recruits need to be shown the raptor pen.”
“Raptors?” A nervous recruit asked from the middle of the group.
“Yes, raptors,” Witchy confirmed. “We have several. They mostly belong to MLS P. Ninja, but we do occasionally loan them out to the other ships. Timmy is their primary caregiver.”
“Scary, that,” another recruit said from the back.
“Indeed,” Kistoway confirmed. “Where is Timmy, anyway?”
Witchy looked around the bay, thinking. “Find him, Ensign. He’s been tinkering with the prototype lately. He’s up to something.”
After watching her sneak off to find the wayward bot, Witchy glanced down at the prototype again. Everything was going according to plan. It had to. Everything depended on the plan, whatever that plan happened to be.
“Now,” the Lt. Commander began, turning Witchy’s attention away from the construction.
“Now, we will go see the raptors,” Witchy concluded with a smile. “Be wary. Not all of them are friendly, not even those who would seem to be so.”
“There are some,” Kistoway began, “who like to dress up and play, so to speak. They seem to think they are princesses. Zombie princesses.”
“It has something to do with that bot, I’m sure,” Witchy said. “He goes off rambling and putting wild ideas into their heads.”
“Well, Captain, if I recall, you are the one who let the baby raptor nibble on your hand that one time.”
The Captain eyed her. “Regardless, I’m not responsible for the princess thing.”
“Finish the tour, Lt. Commander, I’m going to go help our Ensign find that bot. And remember, don’t let the raptors bite you. Then they’ll have your scent.”
The bot in question was currently walking down the halls of the SSA, mumbling incoherently to himself, as was his wont. Whether it was from all his time with the humans or just part of his programming, he was currently scratching at the bar that ran across his head, as if deep in thought. Could a bot be deep in thought? His muttering grew worse until the sound of voices reached him and he stopped, cocking his head to one side, listening. He recognized one of the voices as Utoxin, the one who had created him. There were others with him! Timmy froze and waited for them to approach.
“Screw bottle duck flight lieutenant!” A robotic voice called to the group of cadets currently on their tour of the SSA Academy. Timmy came around the corner; he made a beeline for the cadets, continuing to shout random senseless phrases at them.
“That’s Timmy; he picks up random words and tries to string them together. But, he is good for monitoring word wars.” Commander Utoxin, Timmy’s creator, explained as he led the cadets into a pitch-black room.
As they crowded in the darkness together, Utoxin brought the lights up slowly to reveal that the room was a giant map containing all the galaxies that the SSA had been known to travel. A collective gasp swept through the group.
“This is a representation of the places we can reach, and where we go to,” Commander Utoxin pointed to a small dot, “That’s one of my favorite places, they make phenomenal chocolates there.”
“Telling them the good spots already, Commander?” a smooth, deep, mildly feminine voice called out.
As the cadets turned, a woman with short-cropped burgundy hair in a Commander’s uniform stepped through the open door into the map room. A few of them remembered to salute. She smiled and saluted the group, to which all the cadets snapped into a proper stiff backed salute. Commander Rue.Tylar nodded in satisfaction as she stepped into the midst of the cadets and gently moved them away from each other, spreading them throughout the room.
“This is the map room, usually inhabited by the MLS P. Ninja crew and cadets. We’re borrowing it today.”
Once the cadets were completely scattered, Rue nodded to Utoxin, and he dimmed the lights until the room was pitch-black again.
“The object of this game,” Utoxin’s voice cut through the darkness, “is simply to find your other cadets. You always have to know where you are going. If you paid attention when we came into the room, you should know where everything is. So, this should be simple for a bunch of D. Shovel cadets.”
There was a great deal of shuffling as the newly recruited MLS Shovel cadets tried to find their way in the total darkness. Some called out to each other; others felt their way around the room, hooking up with their fellow cadets or manoeuvring around obstacles. After a few minutes, they were once more clustered together, and Utoxin raised the lights.
“Wow record time! Great job guys,” Rue smiled slightly at the cadets blinking furiously in the brightened room. “Come on, we’ll show you the rest of the Academy and maybe a special stop.”
“Raptor tunnel! Dance Raptor!” Timmy’s voice chimed up again, as he followed the group of travelling cadets out of the map room.
“I’ve been meaning to update his speech pattern coding, but there’s just so much else to do. I haven’t gotten around to it.” Utoxin told them casually as they walked to the next stop on the tour.
Rue sped up to walk ahead of the small pack and opened the door to the next room in their journey. “And this, Shovel cadets, is the obstacle room.” Rue gestured to the giant obstacle course laid out across the expanse of the room. “In writing, and in life, we come to obstacles; we must always learn how to overcome them. This is a quick little course that will get your blood pumping!” She grinned and took off through the course, vaulting over and crawling under things, her body twisting and turning.
The cadets followed hesitantly through, and all begin to make their way over or around the obstacles, some rather more inventive than others.
Rue slipped from the course and moved to stand by Utoxin, “Figure we’ll let ‘em wear themselves out a bit.”
He nodded as they watched the cadets overcome the obstacles, helping each other. When they were through the course, they gathered before the two Commanders once more.
“Art! Bunch of Bobcats! Stuck! More!” Timmy gestured wildly with his arms near the edge of the group, his expression looking a little more cracked than usual.
“Timmy, why don’t you go get the new recruits some pillows. Some harvest gold ones will do nicely!” Utoxin shooed Timmy off, so that the cadets could ask questions, before continuing their tour. They stopped by the plot bunny pen and Utoxin and Rue.Tylar allowed everyone a few minutes to pick up a bun to cuddle.
Finally, Utoxin called them all away from the cuddly balls of light and led them to the place their captain preferred to call home, the forge. “And this, cadets, is our esteemed Captain, IronAngel.” The cadets gathered around, careful to avoid the worst of the heat of the forge or to touch anything. Captain IronAngelForge chose a length of steel he had picked out for this demonstration, and began heating it in the coals.
“One does not lean on a rake to show a project is starting. The only tool for breaking new ground is the humble, yet mighty shovel. The shovel is the perfect tool for a traveller. It can reach things that are up high, and yet is still short enough to be carried on ship. It can be a digging tool, a cooking surface, a cutting tool, an oar; it is humble, yet mighty.” He paused to shift the steel to heat it evenly, his face now somewhat sooty and with streaks of black ash on it.
“And so are we; we are humble, and mighty. We are at the centre of the other ships; we are balancing them and helping them. Because, each ship has its own strengths; and we help the P. Bunny, the P. Ninja, and the H. Viking to find their way, to achieve their greatness. Now, let’s go kick some butts!”
His motivational speech completed, he turned his attention entirely to the forge, bringing the glowing metal to the anvil for shaping. Several of the cadets lingered to watch, while others wandered to where Rue.Tylar stood waiting nearby.
“As such, we have a tactical shovel for everyone.” Rue smiled as the others unwillingly tore their eyes from IronAngel’s work, and led them out of the forge into a nearby room with a large table laid out with small tactical shovels. The handle was wrapped in para-cord, capped off with a piece that could be used as a pry bar or crowbar. The shaft of the shovel was hollow for storing things, and featured a bottle opener should any cadet get thirsty while using it. The shovel could be folded neatly into a small pack, and was truly a versatile little thing. The recruits smiled a bit more, as if starting to appreciate their place in the academy and aboard the MLS D. Shovel.
Rue pursed her lips, leaning against the door jamb. The cadets of the D. Shovel were exploring their quarters, leaving the three officers alone for a time. “Captain, how do you suppose the other ships are doing? I’m sure the Ninja has everything on schedule. The Bunny seems fine… as long as the plot bunnies aren’t running amok and I haven’t heard of Elyndra disappearing yet, so I think we’re safe there.” She sighed a little. “That leaves the Viking. Should we check up on them?”
IronAngel paused a moment. “I think we can – trust them. Just – keep an eye out. We haven’t had to put a fire out in a few days. We might be due…”
Rolling her eyes at the crews of the MLS D. Shovel and, more so the MLS P. Ninja, Captain Eldarwen turned towards her cadets. “Planning is for those with nothing better to do, and there are far better things to be done – like having a kick-off party!”
A cheer rose from the cadets and officers that were assigned to the MLS Viking. It didn’t take long before Eldarwen had everyone split into the two groups. “Alright, everyone who is with Lt. Commander Aka-Click and Ensign Kdskid007 will be getting the party room organized. Everyone with me will be gathering food and drinks for the party and we’ll think about putting together a few other surprises.”
Once that was sorted, cadets and officers went to work straight away. This was so much more interesting than the last-minute planning they should technically be doing on their novels. But hey, there was always tomorrow, right?
Aka-Click and Ensign Kdskid007 ran off with their half of the crew to take on their preparations while Eldarwen and the rest of the crew scrambled off in the other direction. The kitchen and pantry on the spaceport were well-stocked and everything that was needed to create the Viking punch was at hand. While the cadets amassed a crazy amount of food, the Captain went to work on the punch.
Back in the main hall Aka-Click, Kdskid007 and their half of the cadets were working at making the place look spectacular. Banners were hung, balloons were filled with helium and the occasional friendly disagreement could be heard as one aspect or another of the impromptu party was debated over.
Aka-Click glanced over her shoulder at the beautiful new prototype ship to see Timmy skulking about in an unusual way. Nudging Kdskid007 gently in the ribs to get her attention, she pointed to Timmy. “Does he look like he’s acting strange to you?”
Ensign Kdskid007 sighed and marched over towards Timmy. She’d never had much patience with the bot and Aka-Click immediately began fearing the worst. She turned away relieved when all Kdskid007 did was tell Timmy to get out of the room while they were working. It wasn’t until she heard the whooshing sound of Kdskid007’s favourite flame thrower that she whipped back around to see Timmy scurrying out the door.
“Oh my word, no! Kds, what did you do?!” Aka-Click said, immediately running towards the fire as the flames began to lick their way along the tablecloth. Yelling for Eldarwen, she hurriedly swiped as many things off the table before the fire could get to them but that was easier said than done.
Already imagining havoc, the loud tap of Eldarwen’s heels announced her arrival a few seconds before she flew in the door, stopping dead in her tracks at the site of destruction before her. “Put it out, put it out!!” she screamed, going for a bottle of water, unsure if it was going to do the trick or not. “If IronAngel sees this, we have a long, looong lecture coming! I’ve already had to listen to one from Witchy about our total lack of planning – as if we hadn’t planned enough already – and I’m not willing to listen to yet another one! And believe me, you do not want one on fire safety from IronAngel…”
Quickly the crew of the MLS Viking got the fire under control before much damage could be done. It wasn’t long before the smell of smoke remained the only evidence that something had gone terribly wrong during the set up. Eldarwen marched over to Kdskid007 who looked defiant as always. “Next time this happens I am confiscating your flame thrower. Last warning.”
With a sharp turn, Captain Eldarwen marched out of the hall, the click of her heels like an exclamation mark on her last statement. Aka-Click turned towards Kdskid007 and raised her eyebrows, shaking her head. “I get it, Timmy is annoying but one day you’ll have to resolve your differences.”
“If he stops hitting me in the head with pillows, I’ll stop trying to set him on fire.”
“Fair enough.” Aka-Click shrugged. It was time to finish getting the hall ready for the kick-off party and it was unlikely Timmy would be coming back into the hall again anytime soon.
As expected, the party was a hit with all the cadets and officers. Although there were corners of the room where one could find intense conversation about plans for the month to come, for the most part everyone was enjoying themselves.
Even Timmy dropped by to dance the electric slide – and did so quite successfully, but no one dared let him near the karaoke machine. Last time they had let him sing he had managed to shatter every piece of glass in the room. It wasn’t until Timmy began wandering around and spouting nonsense again that he was escorted out of the hall. He screeched loudly as he was given a final shove out of the room “Idea bouncing mostly! Hey, we’re at least an hour prior to the red shimmering portal. A thick woolly poncho for my essay but…. WAR!”
A short while later, Special Inspector Heather Dudley arrived and was immediately swept up by the crowd, the Viking cadets handing her a cup of the infamous Viking punch and a plate full of snacks. Captain Eldarwen, Lt. Commander Aka-click and Ensign kdskid007 were grinning at her, ignoring the severe look that crossed the Special Inspector’s face, and began slowly leading her towards the MLS C. Baty so she could do her duty.
And right in the midst of all the merriment, a screeching whine caused everyone to cover their ears before Timmy’s voice came over the intercom “Talking all the difference. And a deceitful stroke shall make them annoyed. Scared every time you say velociraptor…! Them after a while. Shield his innocent child and thanks for all the fish.”
Suddenly a new sound drowned out the last echoes of Timmy’s odd speech; a sound that should not have been heard. Not at that particular moment anyway. It was the sound of a ship taking to the air, rather fast.
“Well!” Eldarwen said, slightly taken aback. “That wasn’t supposed to happen.” Exchanging glances with the captains of the other ships, who were all just as confused as she was, she quickly put her cup down on the nearest table and hurried towards the hangar. The other captains were running along with her, and it merely took a few seconds for the rest of the party to follow on their heels.
Unfortunately, in the special hangar where the finished prototype had been sitting, awaiting inspection, there was a screaming emptiness. The MLS C. Baty was already barely more than a blinking dot on the night sky and even that was rapidly fading into space. The only thing that was left behind was a small banner that fluttered to the ground like a forgotten leaf. There was writing on it and it had the unmistakable touch of Timmy’s erratic way of putting words to paper. And as could be expected, it made absolutely no sense. Instead of it being an explanatory note or anything even slightly helpful, it only said: “Raptors.”
“Um, hello?” A voice interrupted the silence and everyone turned to see the founding father of their great institution. “I thought I was here to cut the ribbon on my namesake ship. Where’s the ship?”
Never in the history of the SSA had there been such a scramble or flourish of activity as there was when Timmy the bot took off with the new prototype Flagship! The relaxed atmosphere was gone; replaced by an urgency that few had felt in a long time. All the SSA’s ships were readied for launch, a constant stream of communication between the Captains facilitated by Commander Rue.Tylar.
As they all prepared to launch in pursuit of their wayward bot, communication with their esteemed allies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry provided some valuable astronomical predictions. With prediction in hand, as well as a suggestion from the officers of the D. Shovel, the P. Bunny prepared for takeoff, intent upon following what seemed to be a tracking signal from the MLS C. Baty.
“All systems are a go, Captain,” Lt. Wolfy reported from her station.
Elyndra nodded, her normally smiling face a bit serious. “Then we need to get underway.”
Wolfy gave a sharp jerk of her head in acknowledgement as she began to bark orders to the bridge crew. They all scrambled to their stations. The tension hummed in the air. No one could ever have predicted what had happened. Timmy stole the MLS Baty! Was the bot a bit odd? Certainly. But they hadn’t seen this coming, certainly not.
“Is the signal still being transmitted?” Skybluefusion asked, frowning.
The crew member nodded. “Yes, ma’am. The signal reads loud and clear.”
Elyndra gave a brisk nod. “Take us out, helm!”
The MLS P. Bunny’s departure was made swiftly, her veteran crew bolstered by their new recruits. There was tension in the air, though some excitement too. For many, this was their first foray into space. They couldn’t be blamed. Even the veteran crew wasn’t immune to this. There was something very thrilling about setting off into deep space with only your ship, your fellow crew, and your wits (and the plot bunnies, of course). It was a test of endurance at times, that was for sure, but when the next discovery, the next plot bunny was right around the corner, it was more than worth it. It was true that this wasn’t a typical mission of exploration. They were going to hunt down Timmy and the MLS C. Baty. But that added a new facet to their mission, enhancing that tension- and yes, that thrill as well.
“Captain! Captain, the signal is coming from that Asteroid!” The helmsman almost jumped out of their seat in excitement.
Elyndra, looking ever calm, nodded. She turned to Wolfy and Sky. “Lt. Wolfy, Chief Sky? Take an away team with you. Investigate the asteroid. The ship could be hidden close by. Be careful. There’s no telling what Timmy is up to.”
“Of course, Captain,” Sky said with a little bow of her head. In answer, Wolfy saluted and the two left to assemble their away team. They would take the shuttle to the surface of the asteroid to see if the bot had hidden the ship there.
As the shuttle descended to the surface, Wolfy, in a sleek, pressurized space suit, turned to the team. “Everyone stay close.” Her voice sounded clearly over their comm systems. “Keep your eyes open. Remember your drills. Just stay focused. We look out for one another, got it?” She waited until everyone acknowledged the instructions, then looked to Sky. “Chief? You take one group, I’ll take the other. We’ll split into two teams, do a reconnaissance run, then meet back here.”
“Understood, Wolfy. Happy Writing!”
“Happy Writing, Chief.” She reached up, grabbing a hold of the bar that ran along the ceiling as the shuttle slowed down and it’s landing gear opened. It settled onto the surface of the asteroid.
The door opened horizontally, the bottom part becoming a ramp that the away team tentatively used to descend to the space rock’s surface, Wolfy and Sky in the lead. The two leaders nodded to one another and then using hand signals, they split the team and each took a different direction, their sensors out and their eyes peeled.
Skybluefusion smiled at her team through her helmet. “Ya never know what you’ll encounter in Writing. Don’t be afraid of it, but as Lt. Wolfy says, be as prepared as you can be and then improvise where you need to.”
The cadets followed her, looking nervously around them. The weighted boots of their space suits kept them all on the ground, rather than floating off into space. Sky examined the little device in her hand, carefully tracking the signal. It was definitely getting stronger! It kept increasing as the team progressed, until finally, Sky called a halt. They were right on top of the signal now! “Fan out! See if you can see the ship in the vicinity!” The asteroid was irregular in shape, with dips and valleys. Some of them might have been big enough to partially conceal the MLS C. Baty, though Sky had a sneaking suspicion that wasn’t the case.
The scanner in her hand gave a couple thrill beeps. Her brow furrowed and she looked at the device, giving it a shake, grumbling about the equipment. They were in a fairly big open space. They would have seen the ship if it were here! Still grumbling, she picked her head up and something caught her eye. “Over here!”
She and her group hurried over to the little black box that was lying, a bit crumpled, on the asteroid surface. It was the transponder alright. It was intact, though looked a bit worse for wear. Huffing out a breath into her helmet, the lens fogging up a bit, she brought her wrist up and activated her communicator. “Lt. Wolfy, Chief Sky here. We found the transponder. It seems to have been dropped here. We’ll bring it back with us, but I don’t think there’s anything else to find here.”
“Affirmative. We’ll come to you. Hold your position.”
“Got it, over and out.”
It didn’t take long for Wolfy and her cadets to find Sky and her group. The Lt. was wearing a frown as she looked at the transponder. “Back to square one,” she said with a sigh. “I’ll pick it up and we’ll take it back with us. Maybe a thorough examination will yield a clue.” She hefted it up. Though compact, it was pretty solid, though the zero-gravity made it easier. As she lifted it up, Sky noticed something attached to it.
“Wolfy! Wait. Give me a sec.” Sky pulled what looked to be- an index card, off the outside of the casing. She blinked. “What do you make of this?”
Wolfy’s expression mirrored Sky. “Let’s get these both back to the Bunny and we’ll talk to the Captain.” So, saying, she activated her own communicator. “Captain? We’ve found something. No, Timmy seems to have dumped the tracking beacon transponder. But he left us something else. We’re going to bring them both aboard, see if we can get any clue of his destination.”
Back on the ship, out of their suits, Wolfy and Sky stood with their Captain, looking down at the two items that had been set on a table in the conference room. “Is-is that… a business card?” Sky asked, breaking the silence.
“Yes, I believe it is,” Elyndra confirmed. “Wolfy?”
“Yes, Captain, it appears to be a business card.”
“Have the other ships been informed of this newest development?” Sky asked her Captain.
“Yes, I’ve communicated with the others. Seems we’re not the only ones to get an unusual message,” Elyndra answered. “The Ninja has received a message of their own, but from an alien species claiming to have seen Timmy.”
Sky frowned. “Aliens? Friendly?”
“They appear so. We’ll see. I have no doubt Witchy will have it in hand, either way.”
Sky nodded, going silent, deep in thought.
“Progress, Lt. Commander?”
Kistoway looked up from the maps. Witchy stood to her side looking out into the vast darkness beyond the bridge. So much out there hadn’t been plotted yet. For all of the charts and maps the MLS P. Ninja had on board, there were some things they couldn’t possible know yet. It was a humbling thought. And a frightening one.
“Nothing yet, Captain. Timmy has disappeared.”
“No messages, nothing?” Witchy was worried. Timmy’s sudden departure and theft of the MLS C. Baty could only spell disaster and disaster was firmly not in the plans this year. It simply could not be allowed.
“Lt. Commander, we have a message coming through.”
Witchy nodded to Kistoway who rushed to the communications nodule, barely managing to not trip down the stairs. In her absence, Witchy monitored the other nodules for any signs they were heading in the right direction.
“Captain!” Kistoway rushed across the bridge. “Oh, Alaina, you, too. We have a message from a quadrant up ahead. We’ve never been there before, but Timmy was there, he visited them, looking for something. I think we should go.”
“What did he say he was looking for?” Ensign Alainainthesky asked.
“That wasn’t in the message. Captain?”
“Set the course for this planet. You say we’ve never been there before?” Witchy considered the options. “Have the cadets prepare a new set of maps. Alaina, oversee their work.”
“The raptors escaped!” came a call over the comms.
“We have loose plot bunnies!”
“Oh, bloody…” Witchy sighed. “First round up the raptors. They’re likely hungry so be careful. Find the bunnies and lock them in a room somewhere. We don’t want to lose anyone. I’m going to have a word with the MLS P. Bunny about this.”
After a time, the raptors were rounded up (no injuries, yay!) and MLS P. Ninja sat down on a remote, uncharted planet. Lt. Commander Kistoway departed the ship first with her trusty translator, with Witchy, Ensign Alaina, and a few brave cadets not far behind.
“Welcome wayward travelers.” The voice came through the translator, odd and distant. They’d heard no correlating sounds from anywhere. Witchy looked to Kistoway who shook her head. They saw nothing. Heard nothing.
“We received a message from these coordinates.”
“Yes,” came the voice again. “Yes, we sent a message. There was someone here. He did not look like us. Nor you.”
“Was his name Timmy?” Witchy asked, trying to get hold of the situation.
“Yes, yes. Timmy. He was an odd one. He spoke of our brethren, the raptors. I am sorry, that is all I know.”
“Did he…” Witchy sighed, not knowing what to ask. She looked to Kistoway for help.
“Did he say what he wanted the raptors for?”
“I am sorry, I cannot help you.”
“We understand,” Witchy answered. “We thank you for the message. It will help us in our search for him.”
“It is custom on our planet to give a gift to departing visitors,” the voice said again. Before them, a large box appeared. Hands at her side, one close to an ever-present weapon, Witchy approached the wooden box.
“What is this?” Alaina asked.
“A gift. Centuries ago a young explorer brought these to us, he came from a far away world.” Silence followed for several minutes. “Hogwarts, he said it was. Some of these stones will help your search for your Timmy. Some will transport you to this Hogwarts world. Now depart and be well.”
With a look to her second in command, Witchy commanded two of the recruits to carry the box back to the ship.
“One last word, Captain, WitchyRobyn.”
Witchy turned, taking the translator from Kistoway. “Yes?”
“Beware the raptor swarms.”
With the final warning hanging ominously over their heads, the crew of the MLS P. Ninja found themselves transported back to their ship.
WitchyRobyn stood staring at the map, deep in thought. She believed strongly in plans. Plans were a necessity. But she knew it was important to adapt as well. A rigid plan was brittle and could fall apart. A plan had to be flexible, providing support and structure but able to bend with the unexpected. Still musing, she turned to Kistoway. “Send a communication to the other ships. Let them know what we’ve encountered. Tell them about the raptors. And tell them all to proceed with extreme caution. Especially the Viking.” She managed a slight smile. “We know how they can be.”
“Right away, Captain.”
Captain Eldarwen turned to her senior officers. “I was just informed that the MLS P. Bunny and the MLS P. Ninja have some leads to follow up on. I haven’t heard anything from the MLS D. Shovel as of yet. I think that we should-” She cut off suddenly, the sound of Timmy’s voice emanated from the comm, drawing her attention.
There wasn’t much to be a heard except for a lot of background noise, but it sounded like he was muttering something along the lines of “Kill raptors, kill.” under his breath. It sounded worrying, and very weird.
“What on earth has he gotten himself into?” Eldarwen murmured as she raised an eyebrow at Aka-click and Kdskid007 in hopes of them potentially having a better insight into what this message could mean.
“Look!” Kds pointed to the ship’s controls where a light was blinking furiously. “There’s a signal! Timmy seems to be on some sort of planet…” She trailed off as the light suddenly winked out of existence.
“There’s only one thing to do then!” Eldarwen proclaimed and Aka-click was already punching the coordinates of Timmy’s location into their board computer. “Exactly, we’ll have to go investigate and see if we can find him or at the very least a clue as to what the heck is going on!”
Timmy’s signal had come from a planet they had never visited, much less heard of before. From above, it had a weird shape and the commanding crew of the MLS H. Viking stood in front of their controls, trying to make sense of it.
“It almost looks like…” Aka-click started, a puzzled expression seemingly permanently etched onto her face.
“Is that a tail?” Kdskid007 wondered, turning her head this way and that.
“It does look familiar,” Eldarwen agreed. “And that might be a tail,” she added when Kds followed the shape she was talking about. “But I still can’t figure out what that shape is. Odd that the planet isn’t sphere-shaped.”
There was no use in trying to figure out the shape though. What they needed to do was find Timmy and the Baty. Getting back the MLS C. Baty was their foremost goal. While they were not averse to having a little adventure while doing so, they needed to focus on their task.
“Crew!” Eldarwen called over the intercom. “We are going to land in a short while. Please make sure that you remain seated during the procedure. We do not want accidents – again.” A small pause to let this sink in, especially for the cadet who featured a black eye from his recent, involuntary, encounter with a supply closet.
“While we are on this planet, we are not going to keep you confined to the ship, but we do ask you to please tread carefully. Any findings shall be reported to the commanding officers. At the first sign of danger, I want all of you back on the ship. I do not want to see any heroics.”
Captain Eldarwen and Lt. Commander Aka-click brought the MLS Viking in for landing while Ensign Kdskid007 settled herself behind the ship’s defensive system – just in case.
The closer they came to the planet the more details they saw. It was a very lush, green planet with a few hills and even a few mountains scattered all over the surface. There was an abundance of water, rivers and a couple of lakes. Trees in every size and shape were everywhere as far as the eye could see. Movement could be seen amongst the leaves but it was hard to determine whether it was just the leaves dancing to the wind or if there was something else hidden in them.
After flying over the treetops for a while, they finally came upon what looked like a potential landing spot. A huge space opened up between the trees and it grew larger and wider until it met the edge of a beautiful, serene-looking lake. The water was so clear that they could see the rocky bottom of it.
“Any sign of the Baty?” Eldarwen asked, her brow furrowed in concentration. Aka-click instantly shook her head. “Unfortunately, no. I don’t see the ship anywhere and there has been nothing throughout the com either. It seemed as though it disappeared back into the endless night. It should have been from somewhere around here that the signal initially came from.”
Nodding, Eldarwen had the ship on the ground in a matter of minutes. In the background, the cadets were oohing and ahing over the view outside the windows and all the more so when Kds opened the door and lowered the ramp.
After they had all filed outside, the commanders reviewed the rules of conduct again but it was clear that most of the cadets weren’t listening, as expected. Running off in various directions, Eldarwen threw her hands up to the sky and simply hoped for the best. “Vikings will never change,” she muttered before starting to walk towards the edge of the lake. The ground was sandier there and her hope was that they might find a footprint, ship print or some kind of hint that could tell them what had happened to Timmy and the Baty.
“What do you think he meant by “kill, raptors, kill”? Aka-click mused as she walked beside Eldarwen, her eyes glued to the ground.
Ensign Kdskid007 was holding her trusted flame thrower at the ready, as she looked from side to side for any sign of anything that needed roasting. “It’s Timmy. Do you really expect there to be some hidden meaning behind the nonsense he always spouts?”
Eldarwen suddenly stopped without warning, causing Kds to bump into her. “Maybe there’s our answer.” Her voice had a bit of an edge to it as she pointed to where she had seen movement.
Brown raptors, green raptors, even raptors with a slight blue-ish or purple-ish touch, were stepping out from behind the trees. There was no way to determine how many there were, but there were a lot of them!
“Uhm…,” Kds said, nudging the Captain with her elbow. “Over there,” she whispered. Turning her head, Eldarwen noticed that the same thing had happened on all sides of the clearing. They were completely surrounded by raptors, and it begged the question whether they were friend or foe.
Looking the scene over, Eldarwen suddenly recalled a minor detail from the Ninja Captain’s message. “Oh, that’s what they meant by raptors?” At Aka-Click’s questioning look, she explained that raptors had been mentioned in Captain WitchyRobyn’s message but with the excitement of Timmy’s signal, she had completely forgotten about it.
“Recall all cadets,” Eldarwen whispered urgently as she tried to watch all directions at once. Aka-Click nodded once, picked up her comm and gave the signal to return to the ship without removing her eyes from the raptors that surrounded them.
It didn’t take long for those who had gone along the beach to return to the ship, but those who had gone into the forest had to pass the raptors to return. A few made it by, moving carefully and cautiously.
“Move with caution cadets. Do not disturb the raptors.” Eldarwen called out as the movement in the trees began to double, possibly even triple. She turned to her officers and gave them a look that they both understood. Kds fingered her flame thrower nervously as Aka-Click unharnessed her energy rifle and Eldarwen pulled out her knives.
It was then that the screeching began and the last handful of cadets were running for the ship. Their standard issue weapons were barely enough to dissuade the pursuing raptors.
They exchanged a look before charging towards the attacking raptors to save as many cadets as they could. Kds was almost grinning as she brought her flame thrower to bear on one of the raptors. They did their utmost to fight off the raptors as they were forced back towards the ship. Yet despite their best efforts, a few of the cadets were lost to the raptors as they dragged them off into the forest.
Back on board the MLS H. Viking, Captain Eldarwen addressed the remaining cadets and her two officers. “I will be sending a report back to the academy, but do not consider your friends and crewmates lost. We will get them back one way or another. Vikings never leave anyone behind.”
There were no cheers to meet her statement, only sombre nods. They all knew what they had to do now.
“Ahoy crew members, IronAngel here,” the deep voice of the captain resonated over the carefully tuned speakers located throughout the MLS Shovel. Each of the view screens on the ship flickered, and an extra window with a view of the bridge popped up in the corner overlaying whatever had been displayed on each.
“I know the going has gotten a bit arduous as our adventure continues, but you can do it. We all face our trials in our own unique ways, but always remember your crew members are there to help, so if you need a hand with an obstacle in your work, ask. Try to help out others when and where you can as well. Remember, we are all in this together.” He continued. “Now, I’ve heard reports some of you are concerned about your fellow cadets on the other ships. I fully understand this, Rue.Tylar and Utoxin have been keeping me up to date with the missions of the other ships and the search for the MLS C. Baty.” IA straightened his tie and cleared his throat. “Unfortunately, it is my sad duty to inform you that the rumors are true, and we have lost a small number of cadets from the MLS Viking to a raptor attack.” He paused, bowing his head slightly. He continued, “But they are Vikings, and you and I both know they will not stop until those cadets are safely back among their crew, and the raptors will know the error of their ways.” A wicked smile crept across his face.
“That said, they knew signing up that this would be a challenging, and potentially dangerous mission, as is ours and the other ships of the Academy. I know times are difficult now, your work load seems to be ever greater as we progress on this journey. Some of you have told me you aren’t certain you can go on. But, we are Shovels. We embrace a challenge, we thrive on it! We know with a good mix of planning and off the cuff, out of the box thinking on the fly, we can do anything. I have great faith in you all! Each of you has…”
His voice is interrupted by a warning alarm in the background. On the screens a sudden red light washes over the Captain’s face.
“Well, that’s never a good sign, is it?” He arches an eyebrow at a screen off camera to his right. The image on all of the screens throughout the Shovel change, showing a menacing looking silver ship, dagger like and glittering wickedly against the sable wall of space behind it. Traces of red light play over its surface as the view zooms in closer. Utoxin’s voice cut in over the intercom.
“We have visitors, and this is a ship design I don’t have in my notes. Rue.Tylar is attempting to establish communications with it.”
“Thanks ‘Tox.” IronAngel replies, reappearing on the screen. “Well everyone, it seems we have a new, more pressing matter at hand. Utoxin has watched the stars longer than nearly anyone I know. If he has not seen it before, no one in the fleet has. I have faith between he and Rue.Tylar, we will be able to establish communication with them. Hopefully, they are friendlier than the raptors. Now, if everyone could report to your stations and prepare for first contact? Thank you all.”
He gives a slight salute, and the image on the screen cuts out. The hustling of crew members moving to their duty stations overtake the hallways, intermixed with excited murmuring. This could be an exciting story for all to write home about, or a tragic end to their mission, and everyone knew it, even if they did not want to voice it aloud.
The crew determinedly sets to task, and as the chrome shard closes the gap in space the view of it becomes clearer on screens throughout the ship. Sleek and long, the ship had glowing red traces along its hull, with points of brighter light moving quickly along them. Someone commented that it looked like a Star Destroyer that had been built in the Tron universe to the agreement of those around them.
On the bridge, the tall man in the black suit hovered over the shoulders of his peers. They worked frantically, but with a comfortable grace and ease that comes from years of experience.
“Got it!” exclaimed Utoxin, “They are using a phase modulated carrier wave technology, very simple stuff.”
“Tox, you never cease to amaze me, heh.” Grinned the captain.
Rue.Tylar glanced over, and at Utoxin’s nod, keyed her mic and began to speak.
“This is the MLS Shovel of the Space Scribblers Academy, hello alien ship, are you receiving our transmission?”
“Who are you calling an alien?” crackled back the reply, sounding slightly nasal and digital. Utoxin adjusted the settings on the translator, clearing the voice transmission.
“You are in the Vargas Expanse, are you guys lost or something?” Rue raised an eyebrow. IA leaned over to Utoxin and whispered “Why does the translator voice sound like Bruce Campbell with a surfer accent?” Utoxin shrugged, “Your guess is as good as mine?” Rue ignored them, and continued.
“We are on a mission to find the MLS C. Baty, likely piloted by a robot named Timmy.” IA could tell by the tone of her voice that her response was carefully measured, and guessed that what she said was not what she was actually thinking.
“Oh! You mean the little metal dude! Yeah, came through here about 5 kicks ago. Nearly broke our computer trying to figure out what he was saying. Didn’t wanna race either. Pity, that ship looked pretty fast. Something about, I dunno, ratchets? Rambles? Ranchers? I can’t remember, but it was an R word. Definitely an R word.”
“Raptors?” Rue asked, trying to be helpful.
Utoxin pulled up another screen on his terminal, data streaming across at dizzying speed. IA peered over his shoulder, unable to make heads or tails of what was on the screen.
“I’m getting data on their ship and communications systems to send back to the Academy.” Utoxin explained. Rue waived at them to get their attention and pointed to the large view screen showing the alien ship.
A sudden golden bolt lanced out from the ship, below them and to their left. A blaze of plasma outlined a black shaped in the void where the amber lance made contact.
“That’s the second one,” she informed them. “Nothing is showing up on our sensors, but they hit something out there.” She again keyed her mic.
“Alien ship, are your intentions hostile? What are you shooting at?”
“Like I said, who are you calling alien? We work here, don’t hassle us. And it’s the Vargas Expanse, don’t you guys know about Fipples?” IA shot a confused glance at Rue.Tylar, but she was already a step ahead.
“We are not aware of ‘Fipples’, could you advise us on them?”
“Fips, you know, those invisible space bugs. Sure, not as bad as a pack of Greebles, but those things are little. You run into a Fip and it will knock half your ship off. Look, we’ve got to get back to scaring them off before the big race comes through here in a kick and a half. How about we transmit our log with the metal dude and get back to work before the boss finds out?”
Rue shook her head and turned to the others.
“I really think we either got the night shift on their ship, or they let one of the kids answer the phone when we called.” She again keyed her mic, going back to her serious, business tone. “That would be acceptable, and very helpful. Thank you.”
Another lance of light poked a Fipple above them and to their right, the golden halo of plasma outlined a massive buffalo like creature with flipper like appendages where legs would be found on a land dwelling creature. They watched rapidly swim off into space as the glow faded away around it.
“Incoming data in a burst transmission, captain.” She let her crew mates know.
“Hey, if you guys follow our path back, should be clear of Fips so you don’t run over one. That was the way the ship you were looking for was heading anyway. You might be able to catch up to him, if your ship is fast enough. Dunno though, that rust bucket doesn’t look like its got much under the shrouds. Haahaha!” rang out the voice on the speakers.
“It gets us where we are going.” Rue responded dryly. Turning off the mic, she turned to IA. “How about we kick in the enhanced EM drives and show them what fast is?” she grinned.
“The data transfer is complete, sounds fun to me!” Utoxin shot back.
“A bad plan today is better than the best plan tomorrow. Course is set?” the captain responded. Rue nodded.
With a slight whine echoing through the hull as the engines awoke, the MLS Shovel left the silvery needle far behind them, the ever-expanding expanse rapidly opening up as the ship tore silently through the void.
“I’ve updated the sensor code to detect those ‘Fips’,” Utoxin announced.
“And I already have a message with our location, heading and information about the alien ship and this area back to HQ.” Rue added.
“We are making good time too, at this rate we should catch up to the Baty in short order and get to the bottom of this.” The captain seemed pleased.
“There’s just one slight problem,” Utoxin grumbled. The others looked at him quizzically. “All their data is encrypted, and it is going to take me a while to crack it.”
“Mr. Ian Woon,” Elyndra murmured to herself once more as she looked down at the business card as she’d been doing since Wolfy and Sky had brought it back aboard the P. Bunny. “Why does that name sound familiar?”
Lt. Wolfy shrugged. “Not sure, Captain. I feel like I’ve heard the name before, too. But can’t remember in connection with what.”
“Don’t look at me, Captain,” Sky murmured. She looked down at the monitor she was keeping an eye on. “But it looks like we’ll be there soon. We’re approaching the coordinates now.”
“You’re right, Sky. We’ll see soon enough. Prepare for another away team. I’ll be joining you this time.”
Wolfy frowned. “As you wish, Captain, of course, but are you sure that’s a good idea?”
Elyndra nodded. “Yes.”
The space station loomed outside, visible in the Bunny’s main viewing port. Elyndra and her two officers studied it for a moment longer. “It’s time, then. Let’s go meet this ‘Mr. Ian Woon’,” the Captain of the Bunny murmured.
Wolfy and Sky both nodded. Wolfy checked the weapon at her hip and Sky adjusted the collar of her uniform. They followed their captain to the teleporter and the handful of cadets they had picked for the team joined them. The cadet manning the teleporter nodded to them and then hit in the coordinates they had been given. The away team shimmered out of existence on the Bunny.
They found themselves in a utilitarian teleporter bay. A set of large doors opened in front of them and a figure was silhouetted in the bright light that poured from it. “Welcome!” The figure stepped forward, revealing a man of average height with sandy brown hair (already gray at the temples), piercing blue eyes, with a tough, leather face that spoke of tales to tell. He wore a cream button up shirt with khaki shorts and a hat with the brim curled up on one side so that it almost touched the crown.
Elyndra stepped down, extending her hand. “Mr. Ian Woon?”
The man took her hand in a strong grip. “Ian is fine.” He spoke with a bit of an accent and his voice was rough, as rough as the palm of his hand. “You must be Captain Elyndra.” He exchanged handshakes and introductions with Wolfy and Sky, then motioned them all to follow him. “I’ve got coffee and these great little chocolates too! Please, have some!”
The three women followed after him, their cadets close behind, observing their surroundings. Mr. Woon’s station was small compared to most, with a few “rooms” connected by long hallways, all connected to one central hub. It was down one of these hallways that he led them now. “So, Captain, you said something about a bot named Timmy?”
“Yes, he’s the bot for the SSA. There was an- incident and we’re trying to find him. We found your card when we followed a transponder. Have you seen him?”
The man looked thoughtful for a moment. “Timmy… Timmy… hm, a bot…” He was silent after that, though he still led the way. When they emerged into the next room, he turned, smiling at them. “That reminds me!” The room around them had things all over the walls. Specifically, every kind of hat one could think of, and then there were display stands and other hooks on the walls that held shovels of various kinds as well.
Mr. Woon smiled as he picked up a small shovel, similar to the tactical shovels that the MLS D. Shovel gave its cadets. “Isn’t this a beaut?”
“It’s lovely,” Wolf commented dryly.
Elyndra had to keep from smiling. Instead, she asked, “Mr. Woon? I mean, Ian. Do you happen to have any information on Timmy?”
He seemed confused. “Timmy?” He blinked and looked around at his vast collection of shovels and hats. “Oh right, Timmy! Your bot, yes? Sorry, can’t say as I met him. But I do know, the raptors have been actin’ funny. Then again, can never trust a raptor.” He nodded at that piece of advice. Then his face brightened. “Would you like to hear about the time I was made an honorary member of a pack of raptors on Taurus 9?” He seemed so excited, not even Lt. Wolfy had the heart to tell him, ‘no.’
By the time the away team stumbled off the teleporter platform on the Bunny, many of the crew was there, looking worried. “Captain! Are you ok?” one cadet asked worriedly.
Elyndra managed a smile. “We’re fine, cadet. I just- had no idea one man had so many stories about raptors…”
Lt. Wolfy, normally so stoic, could only nod weakly. Chief Sky let out a groan. “I really hope the other ships are having better luck,” Wolfy muttered as she helped her Captain and Sky off the platform. They all needed to relax, and a very large cup of caffeine.
“Straight ahead, cadet,” Captain WitchyRobyn said, peering at the drafted maps of their current location. The MLS P. Ninja had ventured into uncharted territory and nothing could be more exciting. New maps to make, new landmarks to study, it was a great time to be part of the Ninja crew.
“There’s this space here we can’t map,” Alaina said, pointing to a corner of the most recent scans. Kistoway leaned forward, upsetting a cup of coffee all over the map.
“Mana!” a cadet screamed, scrambling to catch the dripping coffee with their mouth. Witchy sighed and patted the young cadet on the head.
“It’s all right, cadet. There is more coffee in the mess hall. Back to work.” The cadet gone, Witchy looked back to the maps to see the Lt. Commander licking the spilled coffee from the maps. “Lt. Commander, do you need a moment?”
“Sorry?” Kistoway said, looking up.
Witchy sighed and Alaina wiped the maps down with an ever-present towel. Time was of the essence. They all knew it. The raptors were growing restless with each passing day they were away from the Academy. Word from the other ships seemed promising, but they all felt something was coming and Timmy was at the center of it all. Mixed, but seemingly sentient messages relating to the raptors didn’t help alleviate concerns.
And the Ninja, home of the raptor cages, was on full alert.
It didn’t help that there were bunnies underfoot aggravating everyone and threatening to send them spiraling off course.
The officers’ heads shot up from the maps at the cadet’s call. A spare glance between themselves and they walked to the center of the bridge.
“What is it?” Kistoway asked.
“Th…there.” The cadet pointed, not to the computer, but through the windows.
“Bank left!” Witchy called out. “Everyone to your stations. Full speed out of this quadrant!”
“What is it?” Alaina asked. “That can’t be what I think it is.”
Witchy frowned. “It is. We’ve discovered the exact location of the Black Hole of Something Horrible.”
“Lt. Commander, something is…wrong. I can’t…” Kistoway rushed to help the cadet. Over the comms they heard the raptors screaming.
“Someone secure the raptors!”
A lurch sent everyone falling to the ground. The ship was being pulled into the black hole.
“The raptors are escaping!”
“Kistoway, call the P. Bunny, we need help!” Alaina called from across the bridge.
“They’re too far,” Kistoway said, pulling herself to her feet. “As is the Shovel and Viking. We’re on our own.” They all felt the pull of the black hole. Witchy shared a look with her fellow officers.
“Find anyone,” Witchy said. “I’m going after the raptors. Get us back on course.”
Witchy left the bridge to locate the raptors. Their cries through the comms masked their location. The screaming cadets didn’t help. She rushed through the halls to the containment area to find the raptors had cleverly opened their cages. Again.
“We need better locks,” she muttered to herself. “Or fewer toddlers to teach them.”
Following the claw marks, Witchy found herself heading to the bay doors. Screams intensified and she felt the rush of air accompanying the doors opening. Dread settling, she moved purposefully to the bay doors, holding onto anything she could reach to keep from being pulled out. Several cadets had lost the battle already…
“Captain! The raptors!”
Rushing air pulled at them, but the raptors stood at the edge of the bay looking out into the vastness of space beyond. Witchy stared, wondering and out of nowhere, the C. Baty appeared and the raptors jumped from the Ninja into the space between the ships.
Witchy launched herself over to the button to close the doors and within seconds, the P. Ninja shot off, away from the Baty.
“No!” a cadet yelled. Witchy ran back to the bridge, the few remaining cadets following on her heels.
“What was that, Lt. Commander?” she demanded.
Kistoway stood at attention. “We got in touch with Hogwarts, Captain. Those crystals, they’re propulsion fuel. Allowed us to get out of the grasp of the black hole and back on course.”
“That’s all well and good, but we just lost the Baty and the raptors.”
Captain WitchyRobyn stared at the message for a long moment, trying to make sense of it. Then again, making sense of anything Timmy said was almost impossible. It was often said that when someone started to understand what Timmy was talking about, it was time to take a step back because they had been in space a bit too long by that point.
“Perhaps the Viking will have an idea what this mean. Let them know of our situation, Lt. Commander. Ensign, gather the cadets. You’re best at soothing them. We need to regroup. When we get a reply, we’ll make plans then.”
A new day had dawned over the somber crew of the MLS H. Viking. Captain Eldarwen had sent her report to the Academy, but had yet to receive any instructions from them beyond the information that no backup was available at this time since all ships were currently involved in the quest to find Timmy and the MLS C. Baty.
“We can’t wait any longer,” Eldarwen said, standing abruptly from where the Viking leaders had been sitting scratching their heads and worrying themselves sick over the lost wrimos.
“Agreed,” Lt. Commander Aka-Click said. “Something needs to be done.”
“I’ll bring my flame thrower!” Ensign Kdskid007 jumped up and waved her companion around enthusiastically, accidentally setting off a jet of flame. In the direction of the com.
With huge eyes, Eldarwen and Aka-Click looked at the fiery fiends licking at their controls and once again burst into action, trying to put out the fire. It was a good thing they were used to this by now and knew what to do, and of course they always had everything handy to combat fire with, just in cases like these. Or maybe this really wasn’t such a good thing and they should have yet another solid lecture on fire safety. Then again, they were vikings...
“Kds…,” Eldarwen started, giving the ensign a glare but didn’t continue her sentence. What was the use? That flame thrower was as much a part of Kds as her constant arguments with Timmy.
“I think you effectively killed it,” Aka-Click reported from her check-up of the controls. “I can’t get out a message. There’s only static on the line and the computer is giving me the technical equivalent of the middle finger.”
“That settles it then.”
With those words, the three head Vikings marched into the common room where most of the cadets were procrastinating.
The “planning” had gone as well as it always did with the Vikings, as shown by the Kick-Off Party that was held during last-minute preparation time. This basically meant that there hadn’t been much of a plan creation at all. Nevertheless, all the remaining Vikings were brandishing whatever weapons they could find (knives, spoons, viking hats, guns, axes, mallets, hammers, even a sword or two, etc.) and were standing ready for Eldarwen’s signal to go rushing into the fray.
There was only one thought on their mind: They needed to rescue their fellow cadets from those beastly raptors! Timmy’s weird message had turned into a war cry and periodically, the cadets were shouting: “Kill, raptors, kill!” to pass the time until they were released into the wild, again.
While Eldarwen wasn’t quite convinced by the sanity of this so-called plan, she sounded a loud Viking cry, which was immediately picked up by the rest of the crew of the MLS H. Viking, and out they stormed into the trees to hunt down the raptors and rescue their shipmates. Expecting the worst, but all along hoping for the best despite knowing they were grossly outnumbered.
Captain Eldarwen ordered for everyone to stay together as she did her best to follow the trail of the abducted cadets. It wasn’t too hard since the latter had put up a valiant struggle against their reptilian captors. All tracks seemed to lead towards one of the larger hills they had seen from above upon their arrival. It was probably where they had their nests and where they kept their food storage…. They had to do everything in their power to prevent the cadets from being turned into food!
Out of nowhere a figure had stepped into their path and the Vikings scrambled to a halt, weapons drawn and ready.
The figure was resembling a human in shape, sort of. It was tall and somewhat willowy, looking as though it could easily hide behind one of the many trees without anything sticking out. It was dressed in what could only be described as biology gear. The colours fit the surroundings, a wide-brimmed hat was perched on its slightly elongated head and there were instruments and pouches strapped all about its person. What really clashed with the Vikings’ determined and fierce expressions was the look of utter curiosity and excitement on the being’s face.
“Wha….” one of the cadets squeaked and then quickly shut up again.
“Greetings strangers!” A grand sweeping gesture of its arms accompanied the words and the Vikings were momentarily stunned.
Clearing her throat, Aka-Click started: “We are on a very important mi…”
But the figure kept talking as though she had not spoken at all. “I must ponder, why deep into raptor territory you dare wander?”
“We need to rescue our cadets and friends. The raptors abducted them yesterday.” Eldarwen answered, puzzled at the way the creature was talking. Remembering her manners, she quickly added: “May we ask who you are and what you are doing here?”
“I come from a galaxy far, far away, and you may call me Sonicay. I’ve studied these raptors for many a year but recently they’ve much to fear.”
“You sound like you might know a lot about raptors,” the Captain started and the alien nodded happily and waved for them to follow him.
“If you mean to charge in with weapons drawn then I can assure you that it won’t be long
before those you seek will end up in the permanent sleep. Let me assist you with this quest. For you must believe it would be best.”
Completely bewildered and somewhat at a loss, the Vikings exchanged a few confused and curious looks before they decided to take their chance and follow the alien being. As expected, they ended up in sight of a slightly larger hill, the side of it looking like a slice of Swiss cheese. Caverns upon caverns peppered its side and wherever they looked there were raptors, and even a few velociraptors circled its crest.
“So, let me get this straight.” Aka-Click said to Sonicay while Eldarwen and Kdskid007 were dividing the crew into three groups. “Each one of us will come at the raptors from a different side with our group and we’re just to walk in and take the cadets without worrying about the raptors?” Despite her skeptical tone, the alien nodded with a smile.
“And you’re going to make sure the raptors aren’t going to attack us?” A nod and a smile again. “Well, we better hope this works!” Aka-Click said, sounding resigned. What else was there to do anyway? Sonicay had offered to help and frankly, they could use it. If his plan didn’t work, they could still resort to violence if necessary.
From there on out, it all went surprisingly smooth. Sonicay had not been lying when he said that he was going to get them into the middle of the fray without trouble. His voice was melodious, absolutely beautiful and mesmerising. It was gently flowing like leaves on a light summer breeze, entrancing the raptors, who loosened their grips on the cadets and all but sat down on their haunches to listen to that wonderful voice.
Soon enough, the kidnapped cadets, more or less intact, were snatched right from under the raptors’ claws and the crew was sent running back to the ship as fast as they could under the watchful eye of Ensign Kdskid007 and her flame thrower. Aka-Click and Eldarwen remained behind to once again thank Sonicay for his precious help, realising that they would never have been able to pull this off without help, Viking strength or no.
“Thank you for your assistance friend…” Eldarwen started off saying and paused for a second trying to think of a rhyme. It had been awhile since she’d had the pleasure of communicating with a new species.
“It was my pleasure to you all.” Sonicay said. “To not let your crewmates fall. My raptors are safe and sound. That scoundrel Timmy nowhere to be found. Your metal friend gave us quite the fright before flying off into the night. He left behind these words in a note; perhaps you can make sense of what he wrote?”
“It’s hard to believe that this is the end.” Aka-Click interjected with a grin. Sonicay made a gesture that neither of Eldarwen or Aka-Click understood fully.
Eldarwen took the crumpled piece of paper and glanced briefly at the words. Her brow furrowed as she tried to make sense of what was written. She shook her head and placed the note carefully in her pocket.
Smiling and waving at their new-found ally, the two made their way back to the ship to make sure all the cadets were cared for and hadn’t burned down the ship during their brief absence. One could never know with those Vikings.
“How in the Baty are we supposed to decipher this nonsense?!” Eldarwen grumbled as they were sitting over Timmy’s latest message composed of a bunch of random words that seemed to make no sense whatsoever.
She read it through again: “Thank you. Ya. Raptor. I suppose? Not yet. I should head out to that one. One! nothin’ wrong with said.”
Kds, her flamethrower banished from this particular meeting, was sitting opposite the Captain, glaring at the message as if it were Timmy himself. “It’s from Timmy. Need I say more?”
“Well, no…” Eldarwen munched around on her pen. “But we should be able to figure something out, right?”
Just then, there was a beeping sound that made them all jump up. Aka-Click, who was sitting nearest the controls turned around to give an incredulous stare at the com. “I thought this was fried?”
“That is what you said,” confirmed the Captain.
And yet, there was a piece of paper coming through. “A message from the Ninja,” Aka-Click shouted, ripping the paper from the machine as soon as the word ‘end’ appeared. The other two crowded around her, all trying to read the message at the same time, and then looking at each other in surprise.
“Escaped certain doom? Really?” Aka-Click asked with a raised eyebrow.
“That doesn’t sound like Ninja at all,” Eldarwen agreed while Kds nodded her own agreement to that sentiment. The crew of the Ninja were the most organised and prepared out there after all. “But look at that, they found another message from Timmy. I wonder what it says and if it somehow fits with what our messages says,” the Captain mused as she looked through the window that give them a glimpse of the cadets celebrating in the large room below.
“This is a message to all hands,” IronAngel’s voice boomed over the intercom in the MLS D. Shovel. “We have just gotten word from Lt. Commander Click that everyone that was missing on the Viking has been recovered!” He paused knowing there would be cheers going throughout the ship, and continued after a pause, “From what we have heard, they are a little banged up and bruised but receiving medical care. Vikings may rush in to the fray, but they will be damned if they leave a soul behind. Stay wary, I don’t want us to fall into any traps ourselves. Carry on.”
IronAngel released the comm button, as he sat in the ready room with Utoxin and Rue.Tylar.
“It was flipping foolish what they did!” Rue mutters, hanging her head.
“Glad they’re all right, but that was quite the scare they gave us.” Utoxin adds.
“heh” IronAngel almost chuckled, “They’re Vikings, what did we expect?”
“A smidgen more caution and respect for their lives?” Rue snarked back.
“They do not know how. All they know is how to rush headlong into that thing, whatever it is. Stories, raptor pits, whatever. Let’s just celebrate that they’re home safe.”
“I am thrilled that they are home safe, I am just… frustrated. We’ve been out searching for Timmy and the flagship for how long now? And we’ve got a bunch of random clues that don’t make sense. Sorry, I get cranky when I’m tired, I think I’ll hit the rack.” Utoxin and IronAngel nodded carefully as Rue stood to leave.
After she left the ready room and headed for her quarters she started compiling all the clues they had about the robot’s whereabouts. She was still holding the datapad with all the information as she stretched out and fell asleep.
The next morning over breakfast she was having a conversation with some of the cadets who had been trying to solve the Timmy mystery on their own. Trying to glean from them what she could, she inhaled the replicated stack of pancakes with syrup and sipped her morning cup of k’la. She remembered having to program the recipe in for k’la, and then having to tweak it a few times to get it right. It was rather kicky; good for jump starting the day, but had been quite bitter, originally being made from the bark of an old Earth tree. With cream and sugar added it was drinkable and helped get her brain going.
Overall the mood of the ship seemed to be lighter than it had in the past week while everyone had been worrying about the Viking recruits. And the command staff was glad to see it. IronAngel even had planned a fire show for the weekend to help the recruits blow off some steam and watch flames move to music.
“So, can I wear the wings this week?” Rue asked IronAngel as she caught up with him outside the forge after breakfast. She was referring to a pair of hammered metal wings where the backs had a small reservoir for the alcohol he used in his shows. This allowed the wings to burn for a short time while the wearer was mostly unscathed.
“No, nor are you getting the flame thrower.” He smirked back.
“Poo. I could handle the wings.”
“Maybe, but this ship can’t. So, no wings.” IronAngel’s tone was stern. Deep down Rue knew he was right, but she had wanted to wear the fiery wings since she first saw them. They bantered back and forth, about music selection for a while before going their separate ways. Rue kept punching things on the data pad trying to make the things from Timmy make sense. Even her linguistic skills were tapped out when it came to that robot. She just couldn’t understand what he was trying to get across to them.
As she puzzled over the random clues they had collected. “Talking all the difference. And a deceitful stroke shall make them annoyed. Scared every time you say velociraptor…! Them after a while. Shield his innocent child and thanks for all the fish,” she muttered to herself, remembering what Timmy had spouted off when he’d taken the Baty.
She passed a cadet in the hallway and they stopped, hailing her. He showed her a puzzle game he was working on. He offered her the gaming pad and let her take a turn or two with the puzzles, knowing she enjoyed that kind of thing, and he watched as she crushed them. Having always been able to problem solve, and mix and match things. She smiled having enjoyed the momentary break that still kept her brain going, and eventually went on to see to the communications, and make sure everything that had come in was logged and sent out appropriately. Wouldn’t want a letter from home going to the wrong cadet. That would just be embarrassing. These tasks kept her busy and kept her from obsessing over Timmy and his antics for a short time.
The console lit up with an important message from the MLS P. Ninja. Rue tapped a button, “Yes Lt. Kistoway?”
“Important communication coming through. We had an adventure and got a clue.”
“Adventure? Everyone okay?” Rue inquired concern in her voice.
“Yea we got sucked into a black hole or something, found a new fuel source, and got a clue about where that Fu…flufferbuttle bot might be. Figured Tox might want to take a peek,” Kistoway quickly corrected herself. Rue figured it was probably stress, as Kistoway was not prone to colorful language.
“Yea send it on through and Utoxin and I will take a peek. Then you need to take a break, you sound frazzled. More than usual, I should say.”
“It’s been a bit of rough patch. I could never go into another Black Hole of Doom again. And yea, I’m heading to relax for a solid 24 hours. Captain WitchyRobyn’s orders.”
“Good deal. Talk to you soon. Thanks for the intel.” Rue tapped the console which pulled the newest clue into Shovel’s main computer systems. She added it to her data pad of clues.
Shortly after the communication came in a cadet came to relieve Rue at the communications array. Rue sent a quick ping to Captain IronAngel, and Utoxin, “Ready Room? New clue. Found out why P. Ninja went communication dark.”
“Indeed, there in 5.” she got back from IronAngel.
“On my way” Utoxin replied. She made her way to the ready room, knowing that the clues needed to be shared, but not sure if now is the best time to tell the ship about the P. Ninja’s little adventure.
In a few short minutes, everyone was sitting around the ready room table with replicated beverages in hand.
“So whatcha got?” IronAngel inquired, brow arched.
“Well, looks like the Ninja went down a black hole, literally. They found a new fuel source, and were able to get out, but they don’t advise the trip. However, inside that black hole they met with some kind of new alien and were able to get us another clue. Lt. Commander Kistoway got this to me just a short bit ago.” Rue tapped a console and pulled it up on the large monitor on the left side of the room.
“Black hole? Everyone okay?” IronAngel’s concern was evident in the furrow of his brow and the tone of his voice.
“A little tired, and frazzled but all present and accounted for. Just in major need of a vacation.” Rue nodded as she moved the other clues from her datapad to the monitor. “These are all the clues we have, and I’m sure the answer is in them. I just don’t know how to pry it out yet.”
“Wow a black hole, I’ll have to get the logs from their ship, I want to see all the data they got from it. We might be able to see how to properly navigate them in the future.” Utoxin’s eyes sparkled with curiosity, his love for space was known throughout the SSA.
“I’m sure that proper navigation would have helped them. All their neat plans and maps never picked up a black hole.” IronAngel smirked a bit. “We’ll need to assign Shovel navigators to all ships if that’s the case.”
Utoxin adds, “Or at least teach them Shovel like navigation. But clues. You said there were clues Rue?”
“Yea these are all the clues we have! And I know an answer is in there but I can’t see it.” Rue growled, frustrated at herself.
“Hmmm it’s like a puzzle, the freaking bot handed us a puzzle with some pieces missing!” IronAngel grumbles. He had never been a huge fan of Timmy.
And with that a light bulb went off above Rue’s head, not visible to anyone else, but a bright and shining AH-HA moment just the same.
“A puzzle, that’s it. It’s a puzzle!” Rue almost giggled. The two men looked at her like she had lost what was left of her mind. “Utoxin, one of the cadets showed me the new puzzle game tearing up the data pad market, some million plus downloads.”
“Yea, was just a fun idea I was playing with, but, I am glad people like it!” Utoxin beams.
“Wait, you made the game Utoxin?” IronAngel leans forward, very interested, steepling his fingers.
“Yea I was goofing with it before Timmy took off. Why?”
“That’s amazing, good job man!” IronAngel cheered.
“Thanks.” Utoxin smiled.
“Wait, if you built the game, this might be easier than I thought.” Rue mused.
“What’s in that head?” IronAngel knew something was going on in her head, he’d worked with her long enough
“Well if this is a puzzle,” Rue gestures towards the monitor with the clues on it. “Then what if we try and put it together like one?”
“Oh yea! We can give each clue a visual representation, and… I mean the coding won’t be easy but it’s possible.” Utoxin tilted his hand in explanation.
“Yep we get a visual rep, we can actually see if we are missing anything.” IronAngel adds. “I mean, every bit of data should have a visual marker of some type. We just have to pull it out.”
Utoxin nodded and opened a console panel on the ready room table, and starts typing away, pulling up the game, and adding this data to the game. “All right, this is a development copy so it won’t wind up pushed out to every data pad in the ‘verse. Let me see what I can do. I’m going back to my quarters, I have a better workstation set up there, more toys, better music. I’ll let you know what we get.”
“Happy Coding!” Rue smiles.
“Can you rework the schedule to make sure Utoxin has the time he needs?” IronAngel asks Rue.
“Of course, I’ll have a new ‘situational’ schedule up in an hour. And Utoxin isn’t expected back….” she taps the monitor for the schedule, “For about four hours. So, I have time.”
“Make it so!” IronAngel smirked. Rue rolled her eyes at the cheesy remark and headed off.
About 6 hours later, Rue and IronAngel got a ping. “Ready room. Eureka!”
Rue dashed to the lift, reaching it a bit winded. In uniform but hair slightly more disheveled and spiky than was normal. In the lift IronAngel was waiting for her. The lift surged as it took them up to the bridge and ready room.
“Captain.” She gasped and saluted. IronAngel returned the salute.
“Running?” IronAngel smirked as they rode in silence, without even crappy elevator music.
“Jogging. My room is farthest from the lift. Also, when are we overwriting the lift program to blast decent music??”
“Soon. Once the more pressing things are dealt with, I’ll tinker with the ship some more.”
As they filed into the ready room, Utoxin was there, still in uniform. Clearly, he hadn’t stopped long enough to even change into something more comfortable. And floating above the table in the ready room, was a hologram of all the puzzle pieces; all the little clues that everyone had managed to pick up about Timmy’s whereabouts. The messages he had left, all seemingly just his usual gibberish.
“It took longer than I planned, but we do, we now have all our pieces, I cross checked this a hundred times or so, there’s no way we’re missing a piece.” Utoxin was talking fast, hyper, excited. “Unless I’m horribly, horribly, off, then he’s here.” Utoxin slowly pulled and manipulated the hologram until it was put together. The hologram actually looked like a planet. Utoxin punched up a map on the monitor on the wall, to not interfere with where the nifty hologram was. “He’s there. On that planet, or in orbit with the ship. But I pulled all the coordinates of where he’s been and what everyone was saying, and this seems to be the only logical place. And it’s only a week out at most. Even for the Ninja who’s the furthest away.”
“Damn good work Tox! Damn good!” IronAngel patted Tox on the shoulder, beaming.
“Yea, that’s amazing Tox, I had thought it might work that way but that’s way better than I could have hoped for.” Rue smiles. “I’ll get these coordinates out to the fleet, and let the SSA and Hogwarts know. Everyone needs to know where we are going.”
IronAngel nods. “Let’s go get a flagship.”
“Captain, we’re almost to the coordinates that Commander Rue.Tylar sent!”
Captain Elyndra of the MLS P. Bunny nodded to the cadet at the helm. “Have the other ships arrived?”
“Aye, Captain,” Lt. Wolfy confirmed. “I’m reading the signatures from the Shovel and the Viking. The Ninja has sent a comm as well. We’re all here. Commanders Rue and Utoxin have some suggestions as well as directions for us all to meet at on the surface.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do. Relay that we’ve received it and we will meet at the appointed time and place.”
Lt. Wolfy and the cadets on the bridge hurried to do as their Captain ordered.
“The Bunny signaled they are ready, Captain.”
“Thank you, Ensign Alaina,” WitchyRobyn said with a nod. It was so close to being finished. She could feel it. Her cadets could too. There was definitely something in the air. Planning was important, but following one’s instincts was a major part of a successful plan. “As soon as the Shovel and the Viking are ready, get the away team together.”
“Rue, have you gotten the coordinates out to everyone?” Captain IronAngel asked.
“Yep, everyone’s incoming. I had Utoxin pull together some good landing zones, so we know where to rally. It seems the south side of the planet past the mountain range has the best probability; it’s not far from where the Baty is,” she replied while strapping on extra gear for an away mission. Extra scanners, a phaser, to name a few. “We’ve already scanned the ship for the bot, and he’s not there. So, we’re assuming he’s planet side somewhere.”
“Righteous. Let’s go bring the bucket of wires home.”
“Incoming coordinates from MLS D. Shovel!” Ensign Kdskid007 brandished the sheet in excitement as Captain Eldarwen and Lt. Commander Aka-Click entered the bridge. She handed the sheet to Aka-Click.
“Looks like they found where the MLS C. Baty landed on the planet,” Aka-Click said, scanning the document.
“Awesome! Take us in, Aka-Click!” Eldarwen grinned. At last!
The commanders of the ships and the away teams landed at the specified coordinates that brought them as close to the MLS C. Baty as possible. Although none of them had seen the others in person for close to a month, they kept their greetings to single, terse nods. It was far more important to stay focused on what they were here for.
“Check your gear, and then check it twice more. There is no room for chance or error in this mission. We have a bot to find, who’s likely gone rogue, and a ship to bring home. Ten minutes for gear checks while the captains talk,” Captain WitchyRobyn ordered.
The four Captains gathered, looking over data pads with maps and coordinates.
Rue glanced over at the gathered Captains who were busy discussing tactics just out of hearing reach and looked over at Kistoway. “Couldn’t talk yours down either?”
Kistoway shrugged. “Nope, insisted on coming.”
“Looks like they are all here. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the captains on their ship.”
“They always seem to insist on coming.”
Rue grinned. “But then who else would lead us into the fray?”
Kistoway nodded and triple checked her gear, but couldn’t help adding, “Good point. Let’s just hope some of them don’t get reckless again.”
“Phasers to stun! If we do find hostiles here, we are not going for blood. We only want them incapacitated long enough for us to get our ship and go home,” Eldarwen boomed over the crowd of officers and cadets alike. “Kds, make sure your flamethrower is turned off.”
Everyone nodded, and re-checked their settings, and then the group of twenty people headed off following Utoxin and IronAngel. They weren’t far from the Baty, according to all of their reports. A solid hour trek later, they arrived at the ship. And it was glorious, uncloaked, and seemingly left unattended. And luckily, unscathed as well.
A quick exploration of the ship revealed that Timmy was nowhere to be found. And while some of the cadets were making a push for leaving Timmy, even IronAngel knew that he had to come home, too. So, they left Kistoway and a few cadets in charge of getting the ship up in the air, and back with the rest of the fleet to await further orders.
As the remaining crews made their way across the planet, now in search of the missing bot, they were ambushed by raptors, who literally seemed to appear out of nowhere. There had been no rustling in the bushes, no cracking of leaves, no stones rolling, no sounds whatsoever to reveal their presence. And none of the cadets had seen a glimpse of raptor hide anywhere.
The cadets froze when they found themselves surrounded by hostiles. The captains and officers were quicker to react and tried to build a sort of perimeter around their cadets in an attempt to protect them, but there weren’t enough of them.
“Well!” Eldarwen looked at her fellow leaders. “If we’re going down, we should really go down with a bang, eh?”
“Let’s give them some plot bunnies to chew on!” Captain Elyndra shouted, an answering roar from her cadets rising.
The shout confused the raptors, some of which cocked their heads as if listening intently, others began crouching down in what could only be interpreted as a battle stance.
“Stunners at the ready!” Captain IronAngel ordered. There was a quick rustle going all around while the entire crew got themselves ready for action – steadying their stances, clicking on their stunners, repositioning their glasses to make sure they wouldn’t fall off, cracking the fingers on their free hands.
As WitchyRobyn and the other Captains gave forth a fierce battle cry, the raptors roared in unison and charged.
The next few minutes seemed like hours. Or maybe it was hours stretching into even more hours. It was hard to tell. The Shovels, Ninjas, Bunnies and Vikings threw themselves into the battle as if their lives depended on it, and maybe they did. There was shrieking, yelling, roaring and a ruckus so loud that if anybody else had been on the planet, they surely would have come running to inspect what was going on. Stun guns were used left and right, making raptors drop by the handful. Unfortunately, cadets were falling left and right as well with bites and scratches that rendered them more or less briefly incapable of fighting.
The battle was fierce, but eventually it dawned on the valiant members of the Madcap League of Scribblers that the raptors were not trying to kill them. On the contrary, they were merely trying to incapacitate as many of them as possible. It seemed as though they too were only aiming to maim but not to kill.
“They aren’t trying to kill us!” Eldarwen shouted at Aka-Click, who was fighting next to her, and then at Kdskid007 who was fighting at her other side. Both nodded their heads vigorously and shouted the message to the person fighting next to them, and so the message made the rounds. With a loud Viking cry, the leaders of the MLS H. Viking rallied their friends and cadets and made a mad dash for it, in true Viking style. With their charge, they found themselves in the midst of the enemy raptors.
The Shovel leaders and cadets were only seconds behind them, charging headfirst into the fray. They were moving in strict formation, and scattered the raptors that had not expected such an organized counter-charge.
The Bunny and Ninja leaders followed at their heels with their cadets and with that courageous attack, they finally gained the upper hand. Soon the remaining unstunned raptors were fleeing, winking into inexistence before their eyes, even as they were running.
Stunned and wounded raptors and humans littered the floor. There was blood, but considering how fierce the battle had been, there was very little of it. None of the bite or scratch wounds were fatal and most of them could be treated easily enough by the crew members.
“Looks like we didn’t lose any limbs,” Elyndra said happily as she surveyed the carnage.
“That was…,” Aka-Click began and Kdskid007 finished the sentence for her: “Friggin’ awesome!!”
“That wasn’t exactly the word I would have used,” the Lt. Commander said but with a grin, she added: “But okay! I can get on board with that.”
“And to think you managed all that without your flamethrower!” Eldarwen added with a wink.
“Hey, Elyndra?” Utoxin called out. “What is one of your bunnies doing out here?” He pointed to a little ball of light that was bouncing around between the raptors.
“Yikes!” Wolfy immediately set to capturing it, some of the Bunny’s cadets in tow.
“You know what I still don’t get?” IronAngel asked of no one in particular. “How in the Wrimoverse did they manage to sneak up on us like this?”
“Maybe they used a cloaking device,” Alaina replied, offhand, without really thinking about what she was saying.
Utoxin looked up at those words. “Cloaking device? You mean, like the one that should have been shielding the Baty from view…?” The wheels in his brain started to work furiously and he was wondering if the idea that had just popped into his head was even feasible.
“Do you mean to say that Timmy stole the cloaking device from the ship and somehow ended up giving it to the raptors of this planet? That’s ludicrous!” Alaina looked at the Shovel’s commander like he’d lost most of his marbles.
“You know, maybe that isn’t such an insane idea at all,” IronAngel mused.
“One way or another,” Elyndra interjected, “we still need to actually find the bot.”
“Alright, let’s go find ourselves a bot!” Rue called out, thus immediately making everyone focus on the task at hand again.
The traipsing through the countryside started all over again and more than one of the crew members was wondering where Timmy had hidden himself away. For a bot talking a lot of nonsense, he sure seemed to have a knack for disappearing and staying that way. Though they didn’t find him right away, one of the cadets stumbled upon the missing stealth drive! Lt. Wolfy picked the thing up, though not before hitting the switch that would turn it off. Anyone– or thing– using it would now be visible! They would need to reinstall into the Baty once they got back there.
When they stumbled across Timmy, only a few steps away from the scene of the battle (where he hadn’t been before), they didn’t even realise what they were looking at until they had blinked a few times. The bot was ever so proudly sitting on a pile of rocks with a crown made of fronds on his head.
“Raptor King! Planet Raptor!” he boomed from above and then babbled on for a few more minutes.
“It sounds like the raptors have made him their king. But how are we on a planet full of raptors. I thought they were mostly extinct!?” Rue mumbled, thinking out loud more than looking for actual answers.
“Maybe this isn’t Timmy’s first trip into outer space,” Eldarwen suggested, though she immediately shook her head at her own statement. That was a ridiculous idea. Timmy was a bot, not an intergalactic hitchhiker. And he was their bot, despite all the difficulties. They couldn’t just leave him there.
A handful of slightly more muscled cadets were selected to wrestle Timmy off of his throne so he could be brought back to their landing spot. After all, now that they had the Baty as well as the bot, it was high time they got themselves off of this planet and back to their home base. Thankfully, Timmy didn’t resist.
“What about the raptors?” one of the cadets asked. A group of them were standing around a couple of purple raptors, gazing down at them. “Are we just going to leave them here?”
Elyndra looked at them, then glanced over at her fellow captains to see what they wanted to do. None of them seemed opposed to the idea they saw looming behind the Bunny’s captain’s eyes. They all knew how fond she was of herding her bunnies, so it wasn’t all too weird for her to suggest loading the raptors in the cargo holds of the ships. “It might be a good idea to take them back with us, maybe find them a spot on the Ninja?” She controlled the wince as Witchy sent her a look, then just smiled. “Well, we could find them a spot, regardless. Don’t you agree?”
And just like that, the cadets went to work together in teams of four or six and corralled the raptors back to the ships. What a job it was. It took them a long time and there was a lot of head scratching to figure out how to get them all divided up into the ships. Luckily there were a few Tetris experts among the cadets and with their help, the raptors were swiftly stacked in the cargo ships. Those that started wiggling a little were stunned once more, just to be on the safe side. They would not cause fires unlike a certain ensign who had had her flamethrower removed, but who knew what those raptors could potentially get up to and it was better to be safe than sorry.
The trip home was a bit of a long one, though not if the one out there. There was no pit stops along the way (despite a few groans and grumblings). But eventually, they made it back to the Academy. During the journey home, Captain Witchy and some of her crew learned that the raptors were all afraid. There had been a lot of recent wars and attacks. When the crew of the Viking had arrived, they had only just managed to survive one. They thought the crew of the Viking were going to attack them so they acted first.
After Utoxin had done a bit of tweaking, Timmy confirmed this. He had been getting transmissions from the raptors for weeks and had been trying to tell everyone, but no one had been able to understand him! So, he’d taken things into his own hands. He’d been collecting raptors as he traveled and sent messages back. He had been wondering what was taking everyone so long to get to him…
“Hm, so what shall we do with the excess raptors? Sadly, we can’t keep all of them,” Lt. Wolfy pointed out. A meeting with all of the captains and their officers back at the Academy had just started. They had already sent the cadets home, all with congratulations at finishing their first year and officially being members of the Madcap League of Scribblers. The fate of the raptors was now being discussed.
“We could send them to different planets?” Alaina posited after a moment.
“Hm,” Utoxin murmured. “That could be possible. We’d need to boost power to the transporters to make sure they are spread out enough. It was population control that was partially to blame for the large boom that precipitated all of this to begin with. But, if we get the distribution right, it shouldn’t be a problem then.”
Everyone agreed and work was quickly underway to give more power to their transporters. Eventually, everything was ready. The raptors were taken in groups and sent off to various planets to live, hopefully in peace.
As was her wont, Kdskid007 was wandering around after her last group of raptors had already been assigned their transporter time. She had gotten a bit bored and her flamethrower had been locked away for everyone’s safety, at least, until all the raptors had been dealt with.
She shuffled along and then noticed the bank of buttons near the transporter. Kdskid007 walked up to it and put her hand on the tempting red button before anyone could stop her.
“Hey, guys?” Kdskid007 called out, “What’s this button do?”
It is impossible to list the many people who made this possible because each and every one of the cadets were an integral part of the Wrimoverse. However, the insane MLs that worked tirelessly to make all of this a reality for 2016 are listed here in no particular order (no matter what any of them say).
Twinkle Toes the Berserker