Earplug Adventures: The Age of Stone (part 14)

Meanwhile Magnuss had reconvened with Hair-Trigger – who was less than enamoured with the idea of her beloved racing off across the Galaxy in search of divine intervention…

She said as much; to which Magnuss replied: “Oh do shut up, you miserable tart: I’ll only be gone five minutes. Knowing the Supreme Being like I do, I expect he’ll click his fingers and have us all back here before we’ve even left!”

Hair-Trigger, being a wise and resourceful former bounty hunter, could see the logic in Magnuss’ assertion that she remain behind in the Museum of Future Technology to defend it should any Hyperspace Pirates, or the like, choose to launch an attempt to invade during the absence of  the Earplug Brothers.

“Well Valentine did teach me the rudiments of flying the Punting-Modesty Facepuncher XL5 in an attack posture.” She said. “So I suppose I would be more use here than lost somewhere in deepest outer space. But I’m coming to the launch bay: you’ll not deny me my farewell wave.”

And so it was…

And even better, the Launch Control room had a whacking great big telescope through which she could watch the flying saucer leave the boundaries of Earth’s atmosphere…

“Tread carefully, Magnuss,” she whispered into the telescope, which fogged the view somewhat, “it’s a big unfriendly place out there.”

A short while later…

  …the saucer made an early evening landing upon the rejuvenated Mars. From the landing point, everyone aboard walked directly to the space ship construction facility…

…which was such a hive of activity that no one noticed as Cushions led Doris and her nephews to an observation window above the manufacturing shop floor…

“Wow,” Chester cried appreciatively, “does Frisby Mumph run this place too?”

But no one was listening: they were too busy staring down at the work in progress…

Everywhere earplugs scurried about – doing this, that, and the other. Welding robots sparked alarmingly as the three ships currently in production, slowly took shape…

“Outta sight!” Valentine remarked.

Rudi was right behind him with: “Groovy, baby!”

“Do they have names yet?” Miles asked.

“The zero-zero-one bay contains the drive unit of the Indefatigable.” Cushions replied. “They start off with the drive units; then build the rest of the ship on top of them. The zero-zero-two bay contains the drive unit and outer hull of the Saint Petersprong. The ship in bay zero-zero-three is almost complete. Obviously that is the ship that you’ll be using. I just hope it works: no one’s actually tried it yet. They’ve not even wired up the starter motor or tested the lavatories yet.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Magnuss said with the confidence of the young and Saint-like. “What’s its name?”

Cushions sighed before replying. Eventually she said: “Its name was chosen by popular ballot – so don’t blame me. Instead lambast that bunch of peasants in the Future Museum of Mars: they chose it.”   

“Yes, sure; I will. I promise.” Magnuss replied. “But what is it?”

Through gritted teeth Cushions answered: “The Rhubarb Crumble.”

“I love rhubarb crumble.” Chester said as he pushed in for a better view…

“Yeah, me too.” His twin volunteered.

“Real tasty, man.” Valentine added. “Gets my vote.”

“Excellent choice, Cushions.” Rudi said through a rare smile. “If we need to introduce ourselves to any aliens, we won’t sound even slightly intimidating.”

With that they turned about…

“So now you’ll want to see the inside, I suppose?”  Cushions grumbled.

Moments later, having collected Susan who had been deemed too big and ugly to climb the stair to the observation window…

…the Earplug Brothers made their way to the manufacturing shop floor and the Rhubarb Crumble itself…

Miles noted the lack of proper illumination.

“The ship is powered down,” Cushions explained, “whilst they fix all the bugs and do the topping out, so-to-speak. Oh – and there’s no crew either: so it’ll be interesting to see how you five earplugs – none of whom know diddally squat about star ships – figure you’re going to fly it to the Galactic Court.”

Magnuss refused to be flummoxed by this setback. “Well I’m sure Frisby Mumph can afford us a few engineers – if only to maintain the main drive.”

“And I can act as crew too.” A vast voice echoed through from the Captain’s ready room…

… “After all,” Susan said as she entered the bridge in her many separated forms…

… “I’m from the future. All this tech is old stuff to me. I could work it with all my eyes closed and numerous hands behind several backs. Look – I’ve already figured out how to turn on the light.”

No one could argue with the indisputable truth – even Cushions, who ground her impressive teeth together in rage. To her it was now clear that the space flight would take place, despite her vague attempts to thwart it. How she was going to pay for it, she knew not. She sighed again. “Oh, I suppose there’s always my credit card.” She said sotto voce. “It’s not quite maxed out.” Then, in an attempt to lighten her mood she allowed herself to look at the bigger picture: “And, of course, if they’re right about the Wonky SB, it might actually save the Museum of Future Technology – again. The Government will have to reimburse me from their alien invasion contingency coffers.”

“Yeah,” Susan (in her red-eyed form) – who had better-than-average hearing – yelled. “Money well spent!”

Whilst her green-eyed form smiled pleasantly at the recollection of the big sloppy kiss she’d enjoyed with Chester.

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021

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