Canto Twenty-One – In the Wreckage
The repaired anti-gravity coils were not one hundred per cent successful. The station whirled to the surface of the planet in a flaming spiral that scattered red-hot sparks throughout the dirty brown clouds that made Galtorr’s atmosphere nearly solid. The impact cracked the seal between the station and the space ship that had impaled it. Smoke and toxic atmosphere rushed in.
“Ah! The air stinks!” cried Menolly.
“The hostile environment suits!” cried Tanith. “Get them on!”
Everyone obeyed as quickly as they could peel themselves off the floor. Alden and Gracie had trouble with the helmets since they were designed for beings with a head fin on their heads. Brekka’s suit was almost too tight to put on. She had to wriggle, pull, and squeal to get it on. But when it was on and all she had to do was push a button to make it fit properly, she didn’t push it. Davalon wasn’t exactly sure why, but he did notice her admiring the reflection of her shapely behind in a piece of interior chrome.
“What do we do now?” asked George Jetson. He turned his helmeted eyes toward the intercom that had been their connection to Sizzahl. “Sizzahl? Are you still there?”
“Of course I am. I’m not the one crashing through the atmosphere. How many of you died? Are the Earthers okay?”
“Is anybody dead?” George asked. “Speak up if you’re dead!”
“We’re all okay,” said Tanith. “I already counted all the survivors. All seven of us made it into environment suits.”
“So, we’re all here. What do we do next, Sizzahl?” Davalon asked the intercom.
“I need live plants. Round up every live plant on the station and bring it to me.”
“Where do we find you?” asked George Jetson.
“Well, I need to have you tune your communicators into the intercom broadcast so I can talk to you and guide you. This dome I am in is hidden well. You will need to follow my directions very carefully to find me without guiding scabbies to my sanctuary.”
“Er…” said Menolly, “what are scabbies? That doesn’t sound good.”
“There’s a movie called Night of the Living Dead, the Galtorrians’ favorite Earther movie, do you know it?”
“No.” They were all quiet, but Davalon wondered what Alden was thinking. He seemed to have heard of the movie.
“In the movie, dead people crawl out of their graves and eat the living people,” Sizzahl explained. “That’s a little bit like the scabbies. They are diseased, and they attack and eat anything they can get their rotten claws on.”
“Oh, no!” Menolly fainted and her metallic helmet clunked against the floor of the station.
“Don’t worry. If you can get here without being discovered by them, I am well protected here. I am looking forward to having you here. I’ve been alone for a very long time.”
“We are coming, Sizzahl,” said Tanith. “Tell us how to tune our com units.”
As Sizzahl explained, Davalon looked at the plants the Galtorrian wanted. They were rather browned and blighted. He wasn’t sure they were really what Sizzahl wanted. Still, gathering up the plants was not too much for her to ask. After all, she had saved all of their lives. By rights, Davalon and his crew of truants should all have died already for their mistakes.