And so to Part 8. This appears at a time when its creator has been very busy doing lots of ‘stuff’ that takes up an inordinate amount of his time. Production of The Veil of Shytar has dwindled quite alarmingly. Actually it’s stopped completely. Fortunately he had the wisdom and forsight to get a few episodes completed previously; so no one need poop their pants with trepidation that the tale will stagger to a halt. Enjoy…
What remained of the night was short. It wasn’t long before the artificial sun rose upon the arboretum once more…
“If that computer tells anyone about our data theft,” Barclay said with self-satisfaction, “they’ll never think of looking for the culprits here.”
“That’s right.” Bubbles replied. “I mean, who would be stupid enough to spend the night in the arboretum?”
“Yes,” Barclay said slowly, “it was bloody cold, wasn’t it? I had no idea that the artificial sun actually behaves like the real one. My bum nearly froze itself solid to that rock.”
“I was okay.” Bubbles replied. “I had my frilly knickers to keep me warm. It was the noises of all the wild animals that caused me the most concern.”
“Wild animals?” Barclay responded to this. “That wasn’t wild animals: that was my guts. I told you my tummy rumbles when I’m hungry. Oh how I curse that Café Puke manager for closing before we could purchase a cheese sandwich or two!”
“Well there’s no time like the present.” Bubbles said as she allowed her eyes to roam the huge arboretum at the museum’s centre. “We’d better get going – if only to find some breakfast.”
Quite a lot of time later…
…the exhausted data thieves dragged themselves up the final slope that led from the arboretum on to the Wide Blue Yonder and thence to the Woven Expanse.
“Not far to go now.” Bubbles said around a desiccated tongue and cracked lips. “Only about a million miles.”
It was almost a week later that the barely-recovered duo found themselves approaching the Star Chamber for only the second time in their short lives…
“No need to show them your knickers, Bubbles,” Barclay spoke quietly, “this time we’ve got the upper hand. We have what they want. We’re home and dry.”
And, indeed this appeared to be the case. Although the Chamber Pots continued to act with a superior attitude, whilst remaining beneath intimidating ultra-violet lighting…
…the ambience of the place seemed subtly different. For a start Sir Loftus referred to them, not as Gloor and Scrimmage, but as Bubbles and Barclay.
After greeting them (almost warmly); then hearing their tale, he said:
“Jolly good: give me the bloody SD card then: the sooner it’s out of your knickers and in my back pocket, the happier I’ll be.”
A short while later, following the dismissal of Bubbles and Barclay, the Chamber Pots stood quietly and regarded a stale Café Puke croissant that Bubbles had pulled from her knickers and deposited in the centre of the Star Chamber…
“Smart girl, that Bubbles Gloor,” Sir Loftus said through a wide smile that perfectly matched his gleeful eyes, “who would have thought of finding something so important and virtually priceless inside a mouldy croissant down the back of an egg-heads drawers?”
“Not me.” Dick Jason replied. “And no bandit that I can think of either.”
“So our worries are over?” Jasmine Greentea inquired.
“Damned right.” Biggun Browne replied. “The bank manager wouldn’t dare call in our loan now. The Punting-Modesty Munitions Company is on the rise again!”
Seconds later the Star Chamber emptied…
…it’s former occupants were already half-way to the laboratory in which they planned to transcribe the data on the stolen SD card and begin work on reverse engineering the resultant blueprints.
Meanwhile, far away in the Museum of Future Technology, Mary-Sue Wassack was in the act of cleaning up after a busy day in the Café Puke…
The dull lighting and the sight of a half-empty glass of Croaky Cortado brought forth the memory of her ill-judged assistance of Bubbles and Barclay.
“Oh dear,” she said to an empty café, “I wonder if I should have told someone about those out-of-towners.” She sighed, before adding, “Whatever, the museum’s still here and the world hasn’t blown up – so I suppose it’s all turned out for the best.”
Several weeks were allowed to pass before Bubbles and Barclay received a summons to attend the Punting-Modesty Research and Development Department…
Naturally Bubbles said, “Oh, wow, look at this Barclay. Look at all this tech. Which bit do you think we gave them?”
Barclay couldn’t even hazard a guess. “Yeah,” He said – rather stupidly, or so thought the disgruntled scientist who was using the nearby lab toilet.
A moment later, their laboratory guide, Pansy Pottager, introduced herself then displayed the Punting-Modesty equivalent of the alien life-boat’s power source…
“We haven’t ironed out all the wrinkles yet,” Pansy informed them, “but it sure glows a nice red.”
Then she took them to see the pilot’s seats, where the seat designer – Pete Thorpe – explained that the alien life-boat hadn’t come fitted with pilot positions, so he had needed to create them from scratch…
“Nice shade of blue.” Bubbles responded. “A bit like my hair.”
“Would you like to try them on for size?” Pete invited.
“Why?” Barclay inquired.
“Oh, no particular reason.” Pete replied. “It’s just that – aah – no one’s ever sat in them before. I’d like to see if they’re nice and comfy.”
With nothing better to do, the two BINS operatives complied with the request…
“Yes, very nice.” Bubbles congratulated the seat’s designer. “All the controls fall easily to hand. The seat is soft but supportive.”
“How long do you think you could stay in that seat, would you guess?” Pansy wanted to know.
Bubbles required clarification. “What, without getting up for a wee, you mean?”
“You wouldn’t need to get out for a wee.” Pete said proudly. “The seat has a built-in lavatory. Of course the pilot wouldn’t be able to wear any pants; but I don’t suppose that really matters.”
“How long?” Pansy pressed. “An hour? Two? A day? To Mars and back?”
Barclay was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Not with the seat, but with the direction Pansy’s questions were leading. Just to shut her up, he said:
“The last one. They are very nice indeed. And who needs underpants anyway – they only need washing!”
This seemed to satisfy Pansy, so she led them to a pair of white objects that seemed vaguely familiar…
“These are atomic cannons.” She informed her guests. “Have you ever fired atomic cannons?”
Bubbles and Barclay confessed that neither of them had ever fired atomic cannons.
“Not a problem.” Pansy responded. “It’s as easy as riding a bicycle.”
Then, with an abrupt change of subject and demeanour…
“Hey, would you like to see a one-tenth scale mock-up of our version of the alien life-boat?”
Bubbles considered this. It would seem remiss of them not to take a look at the machine that had saved their professional lives. “I’d love to.” She said.
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022
Now if I was charging a fee for these episodes, part 8 would be very good value for money. Wasn’t it long! I wonder if size really does matter – resulting in this episode hooking some new readers. That would be nice. Hello new readers; was that enjoyable?