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   Chapter 17 The mothership

The Story of the Mimosa By Paul Kater Characters: 9948

Updated: 2018-02-11 12:04

"I still feel like a minority among you, " Barco complained along. Once he got in this mood it was hard to get him out of it.

"That's because you are a minority, " Tibbaloo said. "Not many people get accidentally shoved into a nuclear oven at three months of age and survive when it explodes."

"Hey, my twin brother was with me, " Barco remarked, "I was not the only one in there."

"Pay attention, Barco. Tibbs did mention survive, didn't he?" Ding checked the radar for nearby traffic. There weren't many police around here but it never hurt to be on the careful side of the fence. "And even if your twin brother had survived that would still make you a minority. Even on that hardly inhabited planet we just left."

"Are we clear, Ding?" Tibbaloo asked, annoyed that she called him Tibbs once more. He hated that name.

"Everything looks coconut from where I sit, " Ding said. (The planet she came from did not have peaches, so peachy wasn't in her vocabulary.) She pressed a knee against the steering stick and ran her hands through her long auburn manes, stretching herself after that. Her figure beneath the skin-tight flyer's suit was sharply outlined in the subdued pink light of the sun that surrounded the planet, as she held the pose for a few extended moments, just for dramatic effect. Then she turned her yellow eyes at Tibbaloo and smiled. "Yeah, I know. You just want to get to the ship instead of admiring my magnificent body." As the man nodded in silence, she took the stick again.

"I didn't mind watching, " said Barco, his smile fading but still very present.

Ding looked at him and lifted her upper lip. Her razor-sharp blue teeth glistened threateningly in the subdued pink light of the sun that still surrounded the planet. "No chance, buster."

"Can't blame a buster for trying..." Barco shrugged off the disappointment.

With no significant space traffic in range Ding turned the shuttle and set a direct course for the mothership that was parked in a low orbit around the fifth moon of the small planet. She hadn't approved of that place as that moon turned around the planet very fast and came scarily close to the pink sun every eight revolutions, but Tibbaloo had insisted on parking there 'because the moon has a core which provides a high interference level for detector signals'. That, he had said, would make the mothership hard to discover. As they approached the fifth moon Ding's worries came true: the mothership was indeed hard to detect.

"Where's the ship?" Tibbaloo asked as he checked the instrument-panel in front of him.

"Out there somewhere in the interference, " Ding said, her voice dripping annoyance. "It's VFR from here."

As the moon was in the shadow of the planet (the sun was on the other side, which was lucky for the ship but lousy for visibility) Tibbaloo asked: "What does that mean?"

"It means that you've got to see where you're going."

"But you can't see a bloody thing!"

"Really, " D

hat too was always the same. He walked around the metal suit with pride, patting one of the sturdy legs. "We have it."

The man had learnt about the metal suit after intercepting a very odd transmission that first showed a big ugly creature that uttered mere grunts, after which the flaky video stream had switched to a man singing inside this very personal metal armour. Witnessing the power one could exert with this contraption he had set his mind on locating it, and even more after hearing about it in a hangout on a small asteroid. The establishment (if one could call it such) was the Pink Brawl lunch room. A number of drunk customers had cracked jokes about a hexaped with a metal suit that would never fit him, and after some careful enquiring (which involved a liberal amount of liquid spirits) the men had told the story of the fluffy pirate ladies who had somehow discovered a shiny metal suit. Thus Tibbaloo had gotten on the right track. Locating a hexaped who dealt in scrap metal was not very difficult.

"So now you have the thing, " LoFat said as he came closer and looked it over. "You're too small for it."

"I'm not, " Tibbaloo responded. "Find me a step so I can get inside, instead of wasting time and air on comments that are based on your hopes and aspirations to become the commander of this ship."

LoFat made a gesture with his fingers that Tibbaloo ignored. The man did that so often and then always did as he was told. So too this time, because LoFat found and brought a small ladder that he put up against the metal suit. "There you go. Don't fall off it, I'm not going to pick you up."

Before going up the ladder, Tibbaloo checked its stability. LoFat was not his biggest fan on board so it was not beyond him to arrange the commander's downfall, if only in such a minor manner. The thing however looked stable.

"You should wait a moment, " Ding announced, "we're taking this bucket out of orbit and that might be shaky."

She was right.

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