I’m surprised that the story has stretched this far. Twenty episodes and more to come – though not many, it must be said. It’s been fun for me. I hope you enjoyed it a bit too. But enough of that stuff: on with the show…
Meanwhile, and in blissful ignorance of what was happening behind his back, the blue cable end awaited the arrival of his captives…
As Nigel and Beatrix strode haughtily before him, he said:
“Nigel. Beatrix – formerly Gloria. I’d like to say it’s a pleasure to meet you both – but I’d be lying. I’d rather hoped that by the time my infiltration into your planetary government was complete, you’d both be dead, and I’d never have to clap eyes on you. But no, you had to precipitate my actions. You had to launch a foolhardy solo attack upon the heart of my empire. And just when I’m on the brink of taking the Museum of Future Technology and all it contains. You’re a twit. A nuisance. A silly old sod who should be watching parades of Sea Cadets and Nurses and stuff.”
As the blue cable end drew breath to continue his tirade, Nigel interrupted…
“Sir, you have me at a disadvantage.”
The blue cable end scoffed. “Too right I have, pal: you’re my prisoner!”
“He doesn’t mean that, you silly oaf.” Beatrix snapped.
“That’s right.” Nigel agreed with a nod. “You know me – obviously because I’m the leader of Scroton; but I don’t have the faintest idea who you are.”
“Neither of us has ever met you before.” Beatrix added. “You look different; if we’d met you, we’d remember it. You’re an ugly bleeder; you’re kind of dark where you should be light and light where you should be dark. You don’t look like any Scrotonite I’ve ever heard of.”
If the blue cable end could have smiled, it would have been of the grim kind…
“There is a good reason for that, you silly old bag.” He ground out between gnashing teeth. “I am not a Scrotonite. I am The Cobalt One – though I prefer to be addressed as DeRorr Smionc – if you don’t mind. Now say it after me – together: DeRorr Smionc. DeRorr Smionc.”
Of course the leader of Scroton failed utterly to be baited. Instead he said:
“If you are not a Scrotonite, then what are you?”
Smionc threw back his head so that his plume waved gracefully in the thin air of the brown planet. “I am a Cruton!” He roared.
This surprised the captives from Scroton…
…though they managed to hide it quite successfully.
“And where is Cruton?” Nigel inquired.
“You’re standing on it, dumbass.” The snarled reply came quickly.
“So why aren’t we aware of Cruton?” Beatrix demanded. “We’ve mapped every cubic centimetre of Weird Space – and there is definitely no planet called Cruton there!”
“Yet here you are.” Smionc said gently.
Nigel was a practical kind of cable end:
“What do you want?”
“What I want, Nige,” Smionc replied, “is to place Scroton where it belongs in the Galactic hierarchy: somewhere near the top. I don’t want Scroton to design and build wonderful tech for inferior species: I want them to run roughshod over them. I don’t want Scroton to sell stuff to anyone: I want them to take it – by force if necessary!”
For a moment Nigel was shocked into silence: but he recovered quickly:
“That is not the way of Scroton.” He said – almost by rote. “That is not the reason that we were gifted sentience and self-awareness. We are not warlike, ogres, or complete rotters. We like to do business instead.”
Smionc sighed at this. “Oh so high and noble.” He snarled. “Next you’ll be telling me that you’re not aware of the alien overseers that lurk beneath ground and watch your every move. Alien overseers who routinely report to the beings that gave you your precious sentience and self-awareness.”
Nigel looked to Beatrix. She looked back. Bafflement passed between them.
“Um,” he said to Smionc, his stentorian tone quenched to mere serf levels, “that would be a no.”
“Thought so.” Smionc said knowingly. “We caught ours years ago. Look, here’s a picture of some of them.”
He flicked a photograph across the brief divide. Nigel picked it up and looked at it…
“They were in the process of being rounded up within their subterranean lair.” DeRorr Smionc explained. “They didn’t put up any resistance – the spineless curs.”
“I recognise the majority of them as being a sub-species of polystyrene blob.” Nigel responded. “Very peaceful people. We do a lot of work for them. The other creature though…I’ve never seen the like.”
“Mushroom-Headed Earplug.” Smionc informed the leader of Scroton. “They didn’t take long to break. They spilled their guts quickly enough. Some of them were there, right at the beginning. They oversaw the selection of cable ends for enlightenment. The ones with the good DNA were left on Scroton to form the society you have today. The others were packed off to another planet and kept as a back-up team should the whole Scroton Experiment fail or your world become uninhabitable because of over- industrialisation. Guess who they were.”
“Oh, so it’s sour grapes, is it?” Beatrix snapped. “You’ve got lousy DNA, and hate us for having everything you haven’t. Well poo to you!”
“You’re right.” Smionc, his calm shattered by Beatrix’s insight, bellowed. “And there was sod-all we could do about it – what with Scroton being protected by the ancient aliens who vigilantly watch over the poxy place. But, when we get the futuristic stuff from the Museum of Future Technology, they won’t be able to wrap you up in cotton wool any more. Scroton will become an annex of Cruton. Together, whether you like it or not, we will rule the Galaxy!”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022
Now say after me…Derorr Smionc. Derorr Smionc, This is possibly the stupidest name I’ve ever invented. What better reason could there be for including it!
PS In one of the earlier tales, the Museum of Future Technology’s ill tempered gardener drowned in an outpouring of slurry, but was reanimated by intelligent bacteria that lived within the slurry. He became Mister Shit, but because I rewrote the early (rude) stories to be more family-friendly, his name was changed to Mister Plop. I’ve always liked that name. Still have the earplug. Must include him in another story.
PPS Some people prefer my ramblings to the actual story. Are you one of them?