The path that led from the Future Museum of Mars to the ancient subterranean citadel of the surviving Martians had been trodden smooth by the passage of many feet – or rather, by the many passages of a few feet – primarily those belonging to Frisby Mumph; his troubled End Cap assistant, Badgerlilly; and of course the Muffins. It was two of the latter that greeted Frisby as he made his hurried way along it…
“Hiya, Frizz-baby.” The strange, flange-faced alien named Puffling Dungheepium greeted Frisby. “How ya doing, man?”
His monopedal compatriot, Piffling Artifartium, merely gave Frisby one of his characteristic leans to one side.
“Your message. Your message.” Frisby managed between gasps of feeble Martian air. “I can’t believe you’re serious. You must show me. You must show me now!”
“Stay cool.” Puffling urged Frisby gently. “Walk this way.”
A short while later Frisby joined the Martians as they approached the entrance to the citadel…
“I see you’ve done the old place up.” Frisby said appreciatively. “I like the subtle alcove lights.”
Then it was down to the ancient alien laboratory and Research and Development workshop, where Frisby was re-introduced to the…
…Martian Reality Shifter.
“I think your message must have got garbled.” Frisby said as he stared at the device with which Magnuss Earplug and Hair-Trigger Provost had managed to by-pass the Future Robot’s defences to gain entry to the Museum of Future Technology during the battle of the same name. “Tell me your plan again.”
“Well,” Puffling began, following a deep breath, “you recall how it operated last year?”
Frisby cast his mind back approximately twelve Earth months…
…to the time that the Muffins had demonstrated the Martian Reality Shifter to the Earplug Brothers, and how astonished they’d been when, suddenly, they found themselves transported to…
…a luxuriant alternative Mars.
“Yeah, yeah, I get that much.” Frisby said almost dismissively. “But how does travelling to a luxuriant alternative Mars reanimate this dead version?”
“Easy.” Piffling spoke for the first time. “We reverse the process. We don’t move us: we move Mars!”
Naturally Frisby’s mouth fell open and stayed that way.
M,m,m,move Mars?” He finally managed. Then pulling himself together he added: ” What kind of natural selection created wackos like you lot? If you seriously think I’m going to allow such a ridiculous sideshow act to be perpetrated against those wonderful people in the Museum of Future Technology who are funding the terraforming of Mars, you’ve got another thing coming. You’ll have to convince me first. So show me. Go on – show me.”
The Muffins hadn’t expected such a response from the Earth earplug who had spent at least half of his career trying to bring life to their world. They thought he’d have leapt at the idea. But then, they realised, with Mars reborn, what use would Frisby be to it? There would be nothing for him to do, and he was too young to retire to Mars to spend his dying days upon the planet that he’d strived so hard for.
“But this is a one-shot experiment.” Gargling explained. “It will either work, or it won’t. If we’re successful, there can be no going back. Who will record the event?”
“I’ve got my smart phone.” Frisby all but sneered. “I’ll record it on that.”
None of the Muffins really felt ready to proceed; but, it appeared, Frisby was forcing their hands, so-to-speak. Barking called upon the robot engineers in the power production plant to “Ramp it up.”
“Ooh-er.” The Chief Engineer Robot said with a cybernetic quaver in its voice. “That sure is a lot of power. I would not want to be on the receiving end of that!”
To be continued…
Paul Trevor Nolan 2017