Canto 124 – Throckpods!
Ged and Naylund together brought the Super Rooster down smoothly in a wide golden field of grain. The Ugly Pod remained in low orbit, but Luigi the Onion Guy and Carrot Mabutu had come down to the planer with Ged and his students.
In a matter of minutes the field of wavy grain was populated with a huge circle of evil-looking vegetables that had stems of six to eight feet in height. Their so-called “heads” were either a bushy orb of purple thistle-down or sunflower-like blossoms. But all of them had eerie, human-like eyes.
“What are these things?” Ged asked Luigi.
“THrocKpodS! (best possible translation… though maybe, WeEds!) Two different bRands… (possibly cAtagories)” Luigi said.
“What’s with all the capital letters in wrong places?” Ged asked.
“Dunno, Ged-Aero-sensei. I programmed it with my Psion ability, all by intuition,” Gyro said by way of an excuse.
“Well, we better go out there to talk to them,” said Ged.
“Ask them to take you to their leader,” added Naylund.
“I foresee trouble, Ged-sensei,” said Billy, using his clairvoyance.
“Can you be more specific?” Ged asked.
“Sorry. That is as much as I can see. I think it depends on who we send out there to talk to them.”
“I will go myself. Junior and Sara are both telepaths. They will go with me. Does that change what you see, Billy?”
“No. Not better. Not worse.”
“Okay. Extreme caution, then. Junior, you will take the point with Gyro’s translator.”
Junior, wearing his white ninja cloth armor, led the way out through the airlock and down the ramp with the stink translator held out in front of him. Sara in a white top with ninja-armor pants followed close behind him so she could also see and hear the translator. Ged, giving them only minimal space ahead of him, followed them defensively from behind.
A thistle-headed Throckpod immediately moved in front of junior. It held up leafy branches, showing off wickedly sharp thorns as it’s weapons.
“Why are you threatening us?” Junior asked.
“I’m a superior Throckpod! Servant of the almighty Grain-Master! (Best translation.) I must oppose any who have no chlorophyl to sacrifice! (95% certain of translation.)”
Ged was surprised at how much clearer the Throckpod’s voice came through than either Luigi or Carrot. What made this one so different? Besides the creepy, human-like eyes?
Suddenly, a branch shot forward and slapped away the translator device. Junior fell backwards to avoid a lashing pair of thorns. Sara was not so lucky. She stumbled forward directly into the grasp of a sunflower-headed fiend.
“What does it mean by no chlorophyl to sacrifice?” Ged asked, knowing the translator was now face down in the dirt. He didn’t expect an answer.
I aM aFraiD he meAns blood!… no, life force… poWer?? (no direct translation.)” Luigi was standing, or rather, onioning resolutely next to Ged.
Sara cried out as the sunflower-headed Throkpod began ripping her clothing off as if it were some kind of sex-crazed manga villain.
“This long-head-fur one will do nicely (rough translation)!” Gyro’s stink translator was still working extremely well at a distance. “We will tear off her blossom (possibly meaning head) and suck out all her sap (93% likely meaning blood.)”
Ged was not going to let that happen. He immediately began to change shape, into a giant green plant-eating armored ape like the ones he once had to hunt on the planet Misko Skoogalia.
“Let her go!” Ape-Ged roared. He leapt on the two offending Throckpods, rending their stems with his green gorilla hands. Then he proceeded to stuff the pieces of the Throckpods into his green mouth and noisily eat them.
It was then that he tasted a weirdly familiar genetic pattern. He couldn’t quite place it, but he knew it definitely wasn’t plant-based. Meanwhile, Junior had gathered up Sara, and he carried her back into the ship, aided by Luigi who bounced along like a basketball rather than running… having no legs to speak of.