Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 21)

Chapter 5

Bunty, Daisy, and Ginger had assumed that with the transaction complete, the freighter would make straight for the Museum of Future Technology. Of course, had they really thought the subject through – as they seated themselves in the cafeteria and consumed three mugs of Crappachino…

…they might have considered the economics of space transportation. Because the freighter had departed the museum, on its way to Ice World, they had made the dumb-ass assumption that the three planets – Earth, Ice World, and Wetworld – made a viable triangle. They hadn’t considered, for a moment, that the only reason for the freighter to be in the high-rise hangar was its need for repair or maintenance. It never occurred to them that Earth was conspicuous upon its schedule only because of its absence. They remained in that delusional state when departing the cafeteria and encountering a number of robotic crew as they rushed by along one of the many corridors that ran, like a latticework around the centrally located hold…

Doubts crept into their serene mental state when, seconds later, several more crew- members rushed past them in what could be termed ‘a hurry’…

“Uh-oh, something’s afoot.” Ginger said. “Quick, let’s follow them: it might lead us to the control room. Maybe someone there can tell us something.”

Three minutes later found the mauve captain and three regular-coloured lieutenants watching a view screen, upon which an ancient robotic freighter – its ion motors blazing in an otherwise blackened sky – drawing alongside…

The girls crept closer for a better look. The captain swung around to face them…

Fortunately, its face possessed no expression. Neither did its voice. However, what it said caused a great chuffing sound to escape the rear of each girl’s knickers:

“It is the Robotic Justice League.” The captain said dispassionately. “It has hit us with a nul-beam. Our engines are disabled; we have no communications; we are dead in space. If you think you might want to go to the toilet soon, go now: you might not get another opportunity.”

Of course, without access to the Galactic News Network, Ginger had no idea what the Robotic Justice League represented. Daisy was no better: if it didn’t happen in her metaphorical back yard, she wasn’t interested. Bunty however recalled hearing her dad complaining about the Robotic Justice League over Sunday lunch. He’d been quite outspoken on the subject. “Ooh, that’s bad, isn’t it?” She said to the captain.

A smidgen of passion appeared in the robot’s voice. “Bad?” it whined. “Bad? It is bloody awful. My career is over. If I survive this encounter with all my diodes intact – and attached – I will count myself very fortunate indeed!”

“Sir,” a lieutenant called out, “a message is coming through.”

Naturally the girls joined the robots at the ship’s control panel…

Three robots – the like of which neither earplug had ever seen before – appeared on the small view screen.

“This is the Robotic Justice League.” The large white robot spoke through the stereo speaker grills. “You will surrender yourselves into our care immediately.”

“Yeah,” the smaller of the white robot’s blue subordinates growled, “like now. If you do not, you are going to regret it.”

The captain cleared its non-existent throat. “Do you require us, our ship, or both?” It inquired.

The larger of the white robot’s blue subordinates answered: “Ship? We have enough of those, thank you. It is you robots we want. Now make your way to your port airlock and throw yourselves across the gap between your ship and ours. No dilly-dallying – or, before long those silicon life forms you have there with you will be breathing vacuum.”

Ginger hid behind the captain and whispered in its auditory input node:

“It’s an old barge.” She said. “Surely one shot will blow it out of space.”

“This is a freighter,” the captain reminded the young female, “freighters do not carry weapons – whereas that ‘old barge’ as you call it, is bristling with them.”

“Why do they want you?” Bunty inquired. “For ransom?”

“Nothing so mercenary,” the captain replied with a rare cybernetic sigh, “The Robotic Justice League wishes only to grant us freedom. Freedom from the tyranny of serving earplugs.”

Daisy had never heard of the word tyranny: she wondered if it was a spicy product, not unlike biryani. However, she then reconsidered: ‘freedom from the biryani of serving earplugs’ made no sense. Even twisting the sentence around so that it read ‘Freedom from serving earplugs biryani’ would only apply to robotic waiters in Indian restaurants. “I don’t understand.” She said aloud. “What’s wrong with serving earplugs? Earplugs invented and build robots: why wouldn’t they want to serve them – it’s what robots are for!”   

The captain was about to respond with, “I know that, and you know that: but try telling the Robotic Justice League!” But it didn’t get the chance; the ancient robotic ship was almost upon them…

What it did manage to emit from its forward speaker grille, was, “Please witness my initial unwillingness to resign my position as captain of this vessel; but since you three are aboard – and, should the crew resist boarders, may come to harm, I find that I have no choice but to surrender. I hand control of this vessel to you three earplugs. The ignition key is in the control panel before you. I have hidden a spare on the underside of my sock drawer – held on with sticky-backed plastic. You will recognise the sock drawer by the absence of socks inside it. As a robot, I have no need of them.”

“Us?” Bunty squealed. “What do we know about flying submarine space freighters?”

Bunty hadn’t really expected a reply, so wasn’t disappointed when the opportunity for the captain to reply with some meaningless platitude never arose: the large white robot and its two cronies had interrupted…

“Belay that order to toss yourselves into the void.” The large white robot said. “We have changed our collective mind. We are coming aboard via transfer conduit. You will accompany us to this vessel through it.”

A quick glance at the view screen confirmed the presence of a transfer conduit…

This concerned the captain. To Ginger he said:

“Those conduits are not very secure. If one end tears loose, all the air will get sucked out of this vessel through it. Might I suggest you find somewhere safe and air tight?”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

4 thoughts on “Earplug Adventures: Triple Threat (part 21)”

    1. I remember, about five years ago, when the company I worked for had a big IT upgrade. Suddenly there were all these ethernet cables, monitor cables, and USB mouse adaptors going spare. Naturally I snatchedf them all up and set to work with a pair of scissors. From them came the ethernet cable ends of Scroton and a whole bunch of different robots. The white one was clearly the boss.

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