Five minutes later, and with the phone call forgotten, both heroes of the museum were surprised to receive a page via the public com-system…
“Ooh,” Hair-Trigger said as they slowed to regard the device, “perhaps that call was important.”
“I’ll take it here.” Magnuss replied.
A minute away – around the corner – Gregor watched as his screen burst into life.
The reporter and TV news-plug, Rupert Piles was passing when he overheard Gregor’s opening line:
“Oh, Mister and Missus Earplug, my name is Gregor Arsentickler. I’m an engineer for the museum, and…ah…I’ve got some catastrophic news. We’re all in danger. When I say ‘all’ I mean ‘all’ – as in ‘all’ earplugkind!”
Magnuss, Hair-Trigger, and several passers-by within earshot, were alarmed at the words that followed. For a brief moment, Magnuss considered the possibility that Gregor was engaged on some kind of intellectual hoax that had been designed to belittle the museum’s greatest heroes. However, when he caught a glimpse of Rupert Piles as he surreptitiously recorded the exchange upon his 3D TV camera, he recognised the validity of what he was hearing. Moreover, when Gregor showed him the interstellar e-mail, he knew that time was of the essence.
“Leave it with us, Mister Arsentickler.” He said. “We’re on the case.”
So it was a happy – or at least a satisfied – Gregor Arsentickler who broke the connection and headed towards the nearest Café Puke outlet for a congratulatory bowl of brownies and a huge mug of café con leche…
Around the corner, Magnuss and Hair-Trigger wasted no time informing Cushions Smethwyke…
“Incense Cones?” Cushions queried in astonishment. “This is remarkable: only two weeks ago we received a communication from a government official that represented one of two species of Incense Cone. Can it be mere coincidence that this situation arises so soon afterward?” She then answered her own question: “No, I think not.”
“Two species of Incense Cone?” Hair-Trigger inquired.
“Yes,” Cushions replied as she began punching buttons on her Omnipresent Scanner. “One species is conical in shape – hence Incense Cones. The other is rather more prolate spheroid shaped, with a flattened lower half – making them less obviously conical. It’s the latter Prolate Spheroid cones that have been in contact with us. You two start planning some sort of action: I’ll try contacting them: maybe they can explain the situation.”
Cushions then broke the connection, leaving Magnuss and Hair-Trigger slightly perplexed…
…and Rupert Piles believing that he was on the verge of the greatest news report of his career.
“So what’s the plan, Husband?” Hair-Trigger asked.
“No plan, Wife.” Magnuss replied with a smile. “We just get there, and worry about what we are going to do about it later. Summon the Tankerville Norris!”
Meanwhile, a very long way away…
…the pink Incense Cone informed the robots that controlled the space station that he was returning to his freighter.
“Keep up the good work.” He said to the commanding lieutenant. “Our freighter is a heavily disguised Man’o’War. We are going to pursue the earplug vessel and blow it to smithereens. You’ll know when we’ve caught them: listen for the bang.”
The robot didn’t bother to explain to the Incense Cone that sound didn’t propagate through the vacuum of space. Instead, it said, “Okeydokey. Have fun.”
Shortly the Incense Cones returned to their vessel’s control room…
However, when they turned on their primary control panel, it wouldn’t light up.
“Ugh?” The purple Incense Cone said in a fair facsimile of an earplug’s confused grunt.
Even the more technically minded members of the soldiery couldn’t re-initialise the ship’s power generation…
“Sorry, Sirs,” one of them said, “but it gets worse. The docking clamps won’t release, Right now we’re well and truly stuck!”
The officers looked at each other…
“You know what this means, don’t you, Perp?” The pink Incense Cone said.
“Yes, Pinkie,” Purp replied. “Well no, actually. What does it mean?”
“It means that we’ve been defrocked, as it were.” Pinkie explained. “Our plan is discovered – by our most hated enemy. If we don’t get outta here – we could be captured and shot as spies!”
“Oh flip!” Perp spoke another example of quintessential earplugism.
“Flip indeed.” Pinkie replied. “We need to get the flipping heck outta here. But first we’ll need to hide the evidence. This station, and all aboard, must be destroyed!”
Whilst these dreadful words were being uttered in one portion of space/time, in the region that contained Earth and the Museum of Future Technology, the Tankerville Norris was blasting off from its landing tower…
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022