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   Chapter 28 No.28

Loderunner By Christina Engela Characters: 5245

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

Supper was a feast consisting of three courses. Wertle soup, which was made from the yellow wertle, a tri-cotyledonous bean-like plant which grew wild on the plains of Mars. It went well with a twist of lemon, which gave it a salty taste. The crowning glory was the roast, which Uncle Jed informed him was wild Martian Quail hunted by Uncle Jed himself. When humans began terraforming Mars a hundred years ago, Martian Quail was one of the native Martian species that awoke from prolonged underground hibernation. The sudden increase in oxygen, temperature and moisture levels seemed to trigger their awakening. Suddenly Quail were everywhere, emerging from hidden caves and natural shelters under the ear – um, mars. Plants too – like the wertle, began sprouting from dormant spores and seeds across the vast plains. Martian Quail roughly resembled Earth quails except they were the size of a bull and slightly more aggressive. Apparently it took a high explosive shell from something like an elephant gun to bring this one down. On reflection, it might also have made a small contribution towards the flavor. Tim resolved never to tangle with Uncle Jed, no matter how much of a kook he seemed to be.

This delicacy was followed by blue spider-apple ice-cream, another favorite on Mars. With caramel sauce. Yummy. The drinks were nice too, and just as unusual. Uncle Jed was partial to the local sparkling wine which was thick and sweet and dark and tasted like diluted syrup with thirty percent alcohol. You couldn't hurry a glass of the stuff – humorously labeled Marti

lit occupied parking spot to the next. And no, none of the other ships in the area was the Celeste. If anything, they all looked newer. Wait a minute! Did he have the right parking bay? He read the number off the tarmac, painted in large blue digits. C477. Yes, it was the right one all right. So there he stood, in the shadow cast by one of the huge spaceport flood lights, staring madly at the vacant parking space. Unbelievably, that festering heap of space trash, the Celeste – was gone.

He was beginning to think it might have something to do with the 10, 000 credits he got for transporting those troublesome passengers. And possibly it was related to the little game of Asteroids they played in the rings of – um, Jupiter on the way here. And yes, even more likely that it had a lot to do with their new charge, Jaymie Vallantdorf. Damn! It also meant that the Olduvai Trust had a pretty long reach and now probably had Jaymie in its clutches once again. Like a butterfly in a killing jar, only they were using the Celeste as the jar.

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