Chapter 18

Pa and Martina climbed back into the cab of the van. Partly because it was easier to roll joints on the dashboard, but mostly because Sandra was describing another theory. Faf didn’t seem bothered.

‘Have ye ever woken up with a headache?’

‘Do ya mean after a load of drink Sandra, or just anytime at all?’

‘Anytime at all’

‘Yeah, sometimes I suppose’

‘well, that’s because vibrations in your dreams were trying to align with interdimensional beings’

A series of explosions boomed in the distance.

‘You see, Hybobolus himself vibrated at the same frequency as interdimensional beings’

‘he did what?’

‘he vibrated -his body became a receiver for their insights, it’s one of the only times they’ve contacted humans directly’

‘That’s like when Barry Davey picked up 2FM at the strawberry fair’

‘How d’ya mean Faf?’

‘Ah, his brain just started picking up radio broadcasts’

‘Really?, are ya sure?’

‘Oh yeah …you shoulda been there, you would’ve loved it, he started channeling Larry Gogans quiz and everything’

‘That’s right …at first we all thought he was messing, but then we turned on the radio and sure enough it was exactly the same’

Crack. The ship groaned and creaked. It’s lights flickered as more explosions rumbled.

‘Well, anyway, the interdimensional beings told Hybobolus that Earth would be attacked by cosmic automatons, and it would happen at the end of the twentieth century’

‘Uh, Barry didn’t say anything like that …and I was with him for the whole day’.

‘It became known as the third prophecy of Hybobulus Clune, he called it his cosmic revelation’

‘Ya learn something new every day, I must’ve seen every episode of the X-files and I’ve never heard of that’

‘Not many people have, nobody ever really paid much heed to Hybobolus …probably because the church said he was a nut and kicked him out of the monastery’

Crack. The ship groaned and creaked. The lights flickered, and a low rumbling passed underneath the floor.

Bleep. Enemy patrol in close approach. Announced the Mega Drive.

Bleep. They are on high alert. Advised the Mega Drive.

Bleep. They will vapourize you all. Warned the Mega Drive.

Pa stuck his head out the driver side window.

‘Lads, did ye hear that?, we should think about moving, the Mega Drive reckons aliens are heading this direction’

The floor rumbled again.

Pa and Martina stepped back out of the van.

‘does anyone know what time it was when Gerry headed off?’

Martina glanced around her, but there was no response.

‘It has to have been a half hour ago, what do ye reckon?’

There was still no response.

Bleep. The enemy are alert to your presence. Informed the Mega Drive.

‘Lads, we’re gonna have to do something …we can’t wait here any longer’

‘Where else can we wait?’

‘Nowhere …ya don’t need to be Gerry McLoughlin to figure the ship is coming apart’

Martina looked around the group again, ‘we have a choice to make, or maybe we don’t …we can spin back to Earth right now, and hope Gerry did what was needed to save the world that time’

‘…ya mean make the spaceship paranoid?’

‘Yeah, that …or we can do the right thing and bring himself, Kev, and Billy back with us’

Bleep. You cannot match the enemy weaponry. Noted the Mega Drive.

‘Ye know, earlier in the night I thought it was fate that had me warning ye about the invasion…’

Sandra opened her mouth to speak.

‘…in a minute Sandra’, continued Martina, ‘but then I was not so sure …then I got really really stoned …and then I thought I was going to die …and now I’m sure again’

Bleep. The enemy patrol is getting closer. Warned the Mega Drive.

‘We need to go’

‘…what I’m saying is I know what I want to do …but, well, we each need to look at ourselves and our lives, you know, to decide…’

‘You’re freaking out again Martina’

Bleep. The enemy patrol is getting closer. Repeated the Mega Drive.

‘…to decide if ye want to risk them by going to fetch Kev, and Gerry, and Billy …and my stereo’

‘I thought that’s what we were at …why the fuck else would we be hanging about up here?’.

Bleep. You are being targeted by a photon cannon. Advised the Mega Drive.

‘They’re here’ roared Pa ‘…get in the van’.

Thrap. The van was knocked sideways. Pa, Martina and Faf were thrown from their feet.

A pulse of white light covered the room, briefly absorbing every other colour. The explosion swallowed two short range fighters, and would have vapourized the van had they not been in the way. It was several seconds before the dust settled.

From a Zardonian point of view the van then left the landing bay incredibly quickly, too quickly to mount any kind of response.

For Sandra, Pa, Faf and Martina it seemed to leave incredibly slowly. And in total silence. Or at best with a dull ringing in their ears.

Sandra was driving. She had hauled Martina and Pa into the cab. Faf was in the back.

Bleep. You are heading towards a heavily fortified command center. Warned the Mega Drive.

Nobody heard it.

Zardonians are known throughout the universe for their fighting prowess. Underpinning this is another ability, one which is less famous, but arguably more important. That is the ability to document, clarify and classify everything they encounter.

The Zardonian commander could not record what was happening. Half because he didn’t know, and half because the ship’s computer was suffering from what appeared to be an electronic nervous breakdown. The only thing he could be certain of was that his crew had all but lost the battle for Earth.

He began to consider the possibility of the Zardonian spacefleet going without a flagship, and made an announcement: ‘All crew; Search the ship, Every human must die. Repeat. Every human must die…’

Kevin crawled quickly. The smell of shite was getting stronger. Fighters were running around above him, but he could hear more static activity too -like a control room. He strained his ears, and struggled to believe his luck. The shit was leading him straight to the centre of alien operations. Solo. Undetected. With an alien rifle.

He crawled some more, and paused to listen. A single alien command bellowed all around, and then repeated itself, making hearing anything else almost impossible. ‘Shut up ye cunts’.

‘Kevin, is that you down there?’, came the voice. It belonged to Gerry Mc Loughlin.

‘…what’s it to you if it is?’

‘Fuckin hell Kevin, I’ve been looking everywhere for ya, we need to go …the lads are waiting for us over on the landing deck’

A floor panel slid away above him and light flooded into the crawl space. Gerry Mc Loughlins smiling face beamed down. Kevin climbed out onto the floor and carefully lifted the weapon with him.

‘Fuck off Gerry, I’m trying to save the world’

‘I’ve already done that, and we need to get out of here before this whole place disintegrates’

‘My arse ya did …an army of aliens and a starship say different, piss off and leave me at it’

Gerry took a step back, and eyed the weapon.

‘What is your problem Kevin?’

‘You, you’re my problem ya slimy bastard, why don’t ya just go back to pretend aliens on your computer -it’s not so easy to cheat when it’s the real thing hah?’

‘I don’t understand’

‘Yeah ya do, you’ve been using a computer code against me’

‘What are ya talking about Kevin?’

‘I’m talking about the code, the one ya used to clear Zero Tolerance …the one you’ve been using this last year to pretend you’re deadly at computers …ya might fool everyone else, but not me’

‘I’ve no clue what you’re on about’

‘You know fine well ya fuckin cheat’

‘I don’t know anything about a code …whatever has ya wound up is inside in your own head’

‘Oh yeah, well explain SYS4551 to me then’

‘What?’

‘You heard, SYS4551, don’t pretend ya know nothing about it …I saw it flash up on your screen before Zero Tolerance’

‘That’s the loading code ya mad bastard’

‘Huh?’

‘The load code, it comes with the game’

‘Huh?’

‘The code to show what version it is, how can you not know that?’

Crewman T631 crouched into a shadow close to the wall, and dropped to one knee. He silently measured the distance to his targets. It was not difficult. They were both standing in the middle of the corridor shouting loudly at each other.

This moment was what all his training had been for. His mind, his body and his weapon were now one thing; and that thing was a means of delivering pain and death. Crewman T631 began his firing sequence.

Thrrrunck. Three and a half tons of automotive engineering, a games console and five adult humans collided with the embodiment of Zardonian prowess.

It was possible to repair the van with a new front grill and left side headlight, nothing could be done for the Zardonian infantryman.

‘Watch where the fuck you’re going Sandra, you’re gonna run Kev and Gerry Mc Loughlin over’

‘What?’

‘Kev and Gerry, they’re right in front of you’

‘I can’t hear you, my ears are ringing’

‘Stop, Stop, Stop, Stop’

The van skidded to a halt before Gerry and Kevin.

‘Move over and let me do the driving, fuck sake …ya need to watch for things in front of ya when you’re going forward Sandra’

The van was now sideways in the centre of a large access corridor. Just visible ahead was the entrance to the control room. It still bore the scars of Gerry and Pa’s earlier visit, but this time the aliens were taking no chances. They had barricaded the door behind a line of steel shuttering.

Sandra jumped out the driver side of the van and shut the door after her. Pa climbed into the driving seat. Gerry walked over to the van while Kevin continued on his way along the corridor. Pa stuck his head out the window, ‘hop in Gerry …we were attacked in the landing bay, we all need to head’

‘Stop shouting, there’s aliens all about’

‘What, I can’t hear you?’

‘Keep your voice down’

Gerry leaned in close to Pa, and glanced towards Kevin.

‘Say nothing but we might have bother getting that fella to leave, he wants to attack the control centre single handed’

‘That sounds risky …are you sure?’

Gerry nodded grimly. Pa turned to Martina and gestured towards the passenger door. He pointed behind him, ‘ya better get out so …and make sure Faf is out too’.

Martina and Faf joined Gerry and Sandra outside of the van.

Pa revved the engine.

Gerry stared blankly at the others and back to Pa, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’

Pa flashed him a solemn thumbs up.

‘No problem’

The van accelerated rapidly away. It was close to full speed by the time it passed Kevin. It then ploughed headlong into the control room.