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The Essay
Show #155
Ninkota? A Zontari?!
David Gunn
Aldeau, Beezer and the Kuprinesto combo hastened to the AIRT command center, where the doctor plugged the beezerscope into the main computer. "If I can get a get a message to Bobby, maybe he can thwart Ninkota, escape the Paroleans, avoid the Algonquin Hole, and still be home in time for supper," said Beezer. He typed a string of algorithmic mumbo-jumbos followed by the pound sign and keyed in a send command. "This code stream should be picked up by the transport pod's artificial intelligence analyzer," said Beezer. "If Bobby's piloting the ship, he'll have to notice it."

Bobby Beezer's hands were sweaty from sawing back and forth on the X252APT's steering stalk for the past two hours. But no matter what evasive maneuvers he effected, the Parolean spacecraft drew ever closer. Now the distance between the two vessels had shrunk to a scant kiloacre, and Bobby could plainly see the alien cruiser's array of lethal armament trained on the transport pod. The Paroleans no longer even bothered to project pheromonic rays to discombobulate the pod's navigation mechanism, so certain did they anticipate imminent reprisal. What had begun as an innocent pre-teen prank had turned into an incident with surely global and possibly intergalactic consequences.

A faint bleep-bloop on the console signalled a strange energy-matter transference from outside the pod that Bobby couldn't decipher. "Ninkota, what's this mean?" he asked his Burmesean copilot.

Her slightly out-of-phase voice came from the rear of the pod, "It's probably nothing, but I can't look now. I'm still trying to fix the rudder. Just ignore it!"

Bobby heard the teleporter motor grind to life briefly, then stall. He couldn't imagine why she was tinkering with that device. Surely she knew the pod's rudder control was under the floorboards of the lavatory in the center of the craft. The bleep-bloop signal persisted, so Bobby downloaded it, decoded it ... and was stunned to discover that it was an ASCII file addressed to him!

"Bobby!" it read. "Hi, it's Dad. How're ya doin'? Don't let Ninkota see this message. She's really a secret agent from Zontar who means to steal the Parolean bug blood for their galactic fishing contest. We've just detected a Zontari fishing destroyer breaching the Algonquin Hole and presume she'll try to head for it with the vial of queenjuice. Whatever you do, don't let her escape! It could mean curtains for all sentient life here on Earth! Take it easy, son, and try to be home by dark. Signed, Dad."

Well. This was worse than trying to snag dancing spaceblurms off of a greased mahogany pie! Ninkota an alien? A Zontari? Impossible!

And then he reflected on how earlier that day he'd let her talk him into swiping the bug blood from his Dad's office and the transport pod from the Hangar 52 spaceship museum. Why? In hindsight, it made no sense. Her "oh, just for fun!" no longer held sparkling water. And how had she known the launch code? As he thought this, a layer of pheromonic residue fell from his subconsciousness and he realized that he'd been hypno-duped. For the first time he clearly saw her for what she was. Or he would have if she hadn't already strapped herself into the teleporter and engaged the "Go" button. But the exit circuitry was tied into Bobby's control pad, and he quickly countermanded the command, locking the door to the teleporter in the process.

Ninkota banged on the teleporterportal. "Bobby! Let me out of here at once!" she squealed shrilly. With each impact, her demeaner seemed a lot less Rangoonian, a lot more feral. Her poundings, too, seemed to metamorphose. No longer timid taps from a svelte, five-stone 12-year old, these blows were puissant enough to buckle the titanium framework of the transport unit. Suddenly the housing cracked and a long, articulated appendage snaked out into the cabin. Through the viewscreen, Bobby could see that the rest of Ninkota now looked frighteningly like what Dr. Frank Baxter termed "those fiendish Zontari bastards!"

The former Ninkota creature stuck its head through the gash in the teleporter and opened a horrific acid saliva-dribbling mandible. A tube shot out of the mouth, attached to the cabin wall, and began to suck nutrients out of the formica patina. The creature’s translucent hair wavered sickeningly in and out of focus. From the alien's distended throat there arose a chortle so bloodcurdling that even the Parolean spacecraft backed off momentarily.

Abruptly the console bleep-blooped again and the datascreen lit up with the file from Hangar 52's "Alien Life Forms X-Y-Z" display. 'Thanks, Dad!' thought Bobby, as he punched in Z|Zontar|What to do when confronted by hostile emissary.

Millions of binary text images scrolled across the screen, followed by a snarling Pacman icon that gobbled them up, until the massive datamix was reduced to a mere 20 words:

   A. Avoid situation.

   B. Avoid situation some more.

   C. If situation is unavoidable, employ the Theory of Abstract Inertia Discombobulation and stand clear.

Although Bobby had never even heard of the Theory of Abstract Inertia Discombobulation, he did know how to stand clear. And as he did so, the transport pod grazed the outer seam of an Algonquin Hole not entirely in control of its facilities. But that was not the worst of it.

A hundred kilomiles below in the Alien Incursion Response Team’s command center, Dr. Beezer watched in horror and fascination as a tremendous antithetical gravitational force materilized from well beyond the purview of the beezerscope, engulfed the pod, the Parolean spacecraft, the Algonquin Hole gateway, as well as all of sector Q4z space up to and including the front half of the moon, then vanished.

Vanish, dear listener, is what we hope part of your vast collection of cash will do, and then reappear in the needy coffers of WGDR-FM, the radio station without funding from the Calvin Klein and American Express cartels. Yes, we do need your support, so please call in a token of your flambeau orianged affection to Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, this 155th episode of which notes that if you shell out now, you may win a prize. And here to discuss prizes and their counterparts, zippers, is Pledgemaster Kalvos.