Humor Fiction posted August 8, 2016

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Episode 2 of 'Old Moon-Face'; stars Dweeble-3.

Martian Madness

by mfowler

I'm lying here in this 22nd century sun soaking up the rays like a lobster on a rock. So good to feel the sand between my fingers, listen to the breakers slapping, and the squawking of the seabirds suspended in the blue.

I'm trying to imagine what it would have been like back when the sand wasn't imported from the Sahara and the sounds of nature weren't recorded memories. They do a nice job with these artificial beaches. Helps us humans connect a bit with our ancient selves.

RrrrrRrrrRrrh! Sirens gone. My thirty minutes are up. The next pod of fun-lovers are swarming at the entrance. Time to get back to headquarters and see what the blockheads have dreamed up for my next adventure. After my discomfort trapped on the moon with a random droid for three months, I'm hoping for something local. A little coastal patrol would be nice. Knocking out intercontinental raiding parties was my father's forte. Sounds a damned side easier than bringing down the goons in outer space.

'Commander Turk,' says Vice-President Gallor, 'time for you to get back in the harness. You've had your little rest and we have urgent need of your services.'

East or West Coast, I'm thinking. Those senoritas along the west coast have a whole lot more bustle in their fandango than those east coast chickerinas with their high-tech, synthetic intelligence and dot-point love makin'.

Gallor raises his hawkish brows (Never seen a hawk, so I'm guessing they have big bushy ones.) 'The Venture's been re-fitted right down to the new super-droid support unit. Your assignment is to get to Mars lickety-split and pick up the Urangan Vice-president, and get him back to Earth alive and kicking.'

All thoughts of a west coast senorita's bustle collapse in a disappointed sulk, but my mind shifts quickly to Daisy Quatre Seins, the double-chested Urangan stripper who serviced my engine while I was laid over on Uranga back in 2110.

'Turk, are you listening? This is serious. The Vice-President is meeting with the Inter-Galactic Peace Council to discuss war tactics with rebels in the Salacious Sector. There'll be all sorts out to stop him reaching Earth safely.'

Daisy drops out of consciousness as my professional Space-Sheriff self reasserts its priorities. 'Yes, Sir!' I say, snapping my boots and saluting.


The Venture zips into space with its customary thrust. Mother Earth rolls on far behind as old moon-face peeks its rocky face in our direction. The refit's given the old tub new momentum. We've cut the journey to the moon by two hours thirty-three.

'Well done, Dweeble-3,' I comment to the new droid as we leave the moon in our wake. 'You have the numbers down pat.'

'Buzz-zip, thank you Commander Turk, where is the pat? Not programmed with that information. Buzz-zip-zip-zip ... Dweeble-3. What's that?

It's roughly 56.34558 million km to Mars so I figure I'd better start educating this poor sod before we crash on a planet of mis-communication. 'Super-droid 32A65X, listen. I'm going to upgrade your language learning capacitor so you'll be able to understand my lingo. ... Here you go, ready for lesson one? Fire-up, sonny. here's the drum. Your name is Dweeble-3, not Super-droid 32A65X. I used to have a really cool droid called Dweeble-2 but he runs his own mining company now. We were good mates ...'

'Dweeble-3 ... got it. What's pat? What's lingo? What's fire-up? What's mates?'

The Venture flips into hyper-viper-mega overdrive and flits towards the red planet. My kindergarten language lessons make the time pass faster than a line-up at a McDonald's restroom stop. Dweeble-3 seems a smart little dude, but he lacks experience, and the only way to remedy that will be by getting him some.

The Venture sets down on the fluffy dust with amazing precision. He may not have the personality of Dweeble-2, but this kid's got the circuit boards of a great assistant.

'Commander Turk,' says Space-Captain Drains. 'Welcome to Mars Mission Modules. I've heard so much about your adventures; it's like having a real live hero in my presence.'
It's always nice to be acknowledged, but this kind of hyperbolic sycophant tends to bring out the humility in me. 'I know it, kid,' I say. 'But tone down the hero-worship till I've checked out the prisoner.'

The scrawny captain scratches his balding pate. 'No, Commander. Vice-president Deux Coffres is your guest, not a prisoner.'

'Sorry, Captain. Just a bit jangled from the journey. Get him on board and we'll be heading home.'

The captain bows. That's a nice move, I think.

'Before you leave, Commander, I must warn you that rebel soldiers-of-fortune have been detected on deep-space scanners. They'll be after you for sure.'

'You needn't worry, old son,' I say, hoping to calm his fears. 'Commander Turk always succeeds.'

It's fitting I share that with him. If I forget about the year off in Uranga, the three months in that stinkin' Venetian sewage pit, and assorted stints in crappy prisons around the Milky Way, you'd have to say I've been moderately successful.


Vice-president Deux Coffres occupies the double-seat beside me in the control room. Dweeble-3 can stand. I admire both bodies. He's a handsome devil for a Urangan. Normally they're uglier than a smashed Beeble-Bup; only, these babies have two heads.

'Won't take long, Vice-president,' I say, as I set the ship into hyper-viper-mega overdrive.

'Me hungry,' says the left head. 'Got any Beeble-Bup steaks?'

Holy crap, this critter's been listening to my thoughts. 'I'll get Dweeble-3 to see what he can rustle up.'

A slow moving, but pungent green slime forms around his lips. He's excited. I know this because that's just what Daisy did whenever I slipped out of my space-suit.

Dweeble-3 returns two minutes later. 'Buzz-zip! Imitation Beeble-Bub with artificial turnips and Saturnian oils served at 234°C, ready, Commander.'

I'm not that keen on imitation myself, but there hasn't been an authentic Beeble-Bup steak in the universe since the great Beeble Ice Age back in the 2090s. 'You've got that down pat,' I say.

'Buzz-zip ... eye-eye, el-capitaine ...bzzz.'

By golly, the droid's getting the lingo. I think.

'Don't know what lingo is,' says the Vice-president, 'but I'll have it with turnips.' The green slime flows with more viscous enthusiasm in between bites.

The control panel lights up like a carnival. Holy crap, in-coming ship. 'Dweeble-3 take control while I prime the weaponry.'

A smudgy face appears on the master screen and through the murk a gravelly voice says, 'Commander Turk, Arch-Admiral Zeezap-Whipperboy here. Come to relieve you of that two-faced Urangan on your ship. Resistance is pointless as three rebel ships have you in their sights.'

Zeezap-Whipperboy's the most dangerous mercenary in this galaxy. Alone, we might have a chance, but three onto one is suicide. We can always scare up another Urangan stooge, I think. 'We'll make arrangements, Admiral.'

'Stooge; does that come with turnips?' slurs the gorging left-head. 'Tell the droid to fire-up the oven.'

I turn to give my orders, but Dweeble-3's sent The Venture into hyper-viper-diaper mega overdrive. That's crap-yourself speed. 'Dweeble-3!' I scream. 'What are you doing?'

'Buzz-zip ... initiative, el capitaine. Vice-president says,"fire-up the oven". Dweeble-3 know to shift into hyper-viper-diaper mega overdrive ...bzzzzzzzz.'

Oh, damn, I think. He's remembered the jargon--but that's not what I want.

The ship rumbles as Zeezap-Whipperboy's fleet pursue and blast us with whippet lasers. On the control screen I see an oncoming meteor storm. Dweeble-3 is flashing like a squad of police-bots while the Urangan gourmet chomps on the last steak. Zeezap-Whipperboy's ever expanding threats fill the cabin.

'Back down, Dweeble!' I scream. 'Meteors!'

With a deft flick of a switch, The Venture drops like a shot Urangan duck, and Dweeble's buzzing outperforms the rebel's cursing.

A majestic flash engulfs the screen and then I realise what's happened.

'You genius, Dweeble-3. The rebels got cleaned up by the meteors. How did you know to use the ninety-degree drop switch?'

'Buzz-zip ... Dweeble-3 learn new lingo. Back-down means go back down where we flew on way up. ... bzzzzz.'

'When are those damned stooges coming?' whined the glutton.

I slip Dweeble-3 a lovely squirt of jolly-juice ("machine oil" to the uninitiated) and set him about feeding the Vice-president as much stooge as he can dream up. The droid tells our guest that stooge is Earth slang for anything tasty.

As we enter Earth's exosphere, The Venture drops into back-down under-drive (a new word for the Turk lexicon, thanks to Dweeble-3's initiative).

Forty kilograms heavier, Vice-pr�©sident Deux Coffres sets foot on the tarmac. The VIPs shake and bow as if they like each other, and head off to the peace talks. Dweeble-3 and I saunter over to the Aero-bar where we review the journey.

'Buzz-zip ... Dweeble-3 gain good experience. Thank you, el-capitaine... bzzzzzzzzz.'

I'm not that fond of the new handle, but I guess it was me who put it into his head. 'Great job, Dweeble-3. I think I've found myself a new compadre. You really have the nuts and bolts for this kinda thing.'

The droid shakes like a fake autumn forest and metal pieces spin around on the shiny floor.

'What the ...?'

'Nuts and bolts for el-capitaine as commanded, buddy,' says what's left of Dweeble-3.

I can see that this communication thing is going to take some time.

Story of the Month contest entry

Some of the science in this spoof may be on the nose. Please contact other writers if you need an explanation.
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