Canto Fifteen – Inside the Structure
Nervously Farbick crept forward into the depths of a dark interior hallway. What was the cause of the crazed Galtorrian monster that killed one cadet and contributed to the death of another? Was some terrible brain parasite working on the population of Galtorr Prime? Would it kill Tellerons too?
Starbright was following him behind and to the right. Biznap was behind and to the left.
“Do you think that was the last of the living Galtorrians?” asked Biznap, apparently to anyone who could answer.
“There were billions of people on this planet the last time we surveyed it,” answered Starbright. “If one was still alive, there is a very good chance that others are still alive as well.”
“We need to find someone alive to talk to,” said Farbick, peering into the darkness ahead.
“If we find someone, I will skortch him!” declared Commander Biznap.
“We have too much we need to find out about this planet and the shape it’s in,” said Farbick coolly. “We still need a place to live.”
“We can’t live with monsters that will try to eat us!”
“Farbick is right,” said cadet Starbright. “We have to find someone rational enough to explain what terrible things happened to this planet. I really don’t believe that just one terrible thing could devastate the entire planet so badly.”
“All right! Okay! I get it! No skortching! …Unless I feel any kind of threat at all. I will vaporize them long before they can tear out my throat and eat me.”
Farbick nodded in the darkness. He’d be happy as long as Biznap didn’t panic and skortch either Farbick or Starbright by mistake.
“There!” cried Starbright pointing. In the distance ahead, a door was being pulled open by whatever was on the other side and inside the room.
“Stay in the shadows,” whispered Farbick.
“They can see body heat, remember?” scolded Biznap.
“Have your pistols ready,” suggested Starbright, though both of the others obviously out-ranked her.
“We can not only see you three, but we can hear you perfectly,” came a deep voice from the shadows above them. “You are on our security monitor right now. Put down your scary weapons and walk through the door with your empty hands on your heads.”
“Yes, on your ugly, Telleron fin-heads!” said a second voice, one obviously more high-pitched and irritating. The kind of voice you would expect a monster to have if he were effeminate or otherwise girly yet not female. Not that Farbick was prejudiced against any of those things, but he knew the voice of a bully and a coward when he heard one. The late Commander Sleez had a high-pitched totally annoying voice like that.
“We run in shooting?” Biznap asked. “They won’t be expecting an attack.”
“Yes they will,” said Farbick. “It is an obvious trap. We either surrender and walk in, or we head back out and fight our way back to the Golden Wing.”
“I vote going back!” said Biznap hurriedly.
“You don’t have to vote, Commander,” pointed out Farbick. “You can command us. But I think we should try to find out whatever we can. I will surrender myself while you and Starbright go back.”
“You’ve been listening to Harmony’s sermons from the Bible about self sacrifice,” accused Biznap.
“Yes, well, not everything your Earther mate says makes me laugh,” said Farbick in return. “Her old book has some practical applications too.”
“Okay,” said Biznap, “you and I go forward and Starbright goes back.”
“No, sirs,” insisted Starbright. “I am not going back alone. I am the most expendable Telleron here. Besides, if I went back alone who would fly the Golden Wing?”
“Good point,” said Biznap.
“I thought you had flight training,” said Farbick.
“No, that was cadet Buckabuck,” said Starbright. “Whootney could navigate and do repairs. I am a cook and a capable armsman.”
“We’re all going through that door,” said Biznap. “Be brave.” He put his skortch ray down first and started towards the door. Farbick was a little amazed right then. Biznap was a better leader than he was given credit for. He led from in front, and took the risks he also expected his followers to take. Farbick put his weapon down, then so did Starbright. They quietly followed Biznap through that terrible door.