Zardonian fighters call it ‘feeding the machine’. It means being put to death, it’s what happens when a Zardonian fighter makes a mistake. Zardonian fighters don’t make many mistakes.
The group of human invaders had not made a good job of sticking together. This wouldn’t have been a problem in the landing bay, but they were now moving deeper into the spaceship. Sandra and Faf lagged behind, and nobody had seen Billy since they arrived.
‘Keep up lads, we haven’t got all day.’
Kevin was moving erratically, either running between the hatches that led off the corridor or standing dead still and scratching his head. At first he had been certain that the control room would have been close to the landing deck. A lengthy search around it found that this was not likely.
The humans were getting tired.
If there was going to be a mutiny, Martina would be the one to lead it.
‘Where are we now Kev?’, she asked.
‘Erm, fifty percent along the main access route, we’re probably very close to the control room …we just need to check a bit further down this corridor, for, uh, the core access’
Martina rolled her eyes, shrugged, and slouched down along a wall. The corridor was about fifteen foot wide and white. Whatever blend of metals it was finished with reflected light brilliantly, and made everywhere look the same.
She nodded towards Pa as her hips sank to the ground. The only interesting thing they had seen so far was the view from the large window in the landing bay, and it looked away from the ship. Everywhere was deserted, even the small service robots had now scuttled out of sight.
Pa crouched down against the opposite wall and frowned back towards Martina. Kevin had paced ahead of them and was frantically opening up the handful of doors leading off the corridor. Martina gestured towards him.
‘Fuck this Pa, that fella’s hasn’t a clue where we are’
‘Give him a chance, he’s doing his best …is it my turn to skin up?’
Martina tossed the tin and a pouch of tobacco across the corridor. It rattled noisily and distracted Kevin from the search.
‘What are ye at lads?, we’re not up here for a holiday, get up and start looking for the control room’
‘We’re just taking a break Kev, it’s really late, or really early …I forget which, anyway the whole place looks the same and we’re tired’
‘Martina’s right Kev, you go on ahead if ya want, we need a break’
‘Fuck sake, ye’ve only been looking for five minutes’
‘Ah but they were five long minutes, weren’t they Martina …anyways, it’s far better to do a search properly than to rush it, we’ll be in much better form for finding the erm, uh, er…’
‘Exactly, we’ll all be in much better form to search for the control room after a bit of a rest and a smoke’
Pa arranged the materials on the floor and began rolling. The flecks of twig and tobacco that escaped the papers stuck out against the bright floor. They instantly became the only sign of dirt.
‘I’ll say one thing for the aliens, they know how to keep the place clean’
Kevin watched the joint being finished, walked back to Martina and Pa, and squatted between them.
‘Yeah, but their spaceship is a pile of crap’
Pa lit the joint and took a slow drag.
‘How d’ya mean Kev?’
‘It’s pure flimsy, whatever material they have in the walls is shite’
‘Dunno about that, it looks good to me, anyways the thing has gone billions of light years so it can’t be too bad’.
‘Oh yeah’, snapped Kevin, ‘watch this’
He stood up and flung a kick at the wall next to Pa. There was a dull thud but nothing else happened. He flung another kick, this time with a running start, and managed to put a small dent into the wall.
‘See what I mean’
‘Uh, alright Kev, fair enough …here, have a smoke of this’
Kevin sat down next to Pa, grabbed the joint, and inhaled. He held it up for Martina. She stepped over towards him and pointed to where they had walked from.
‘Well, what time do ya think we’ll be back?’
‘I’ve no idea’
‘Ah Kev, this was your plan’
‘It still is my plan, but how the fuck was I supposed to know the aliens built their spaceship arseways?’
A flash of movement meant Kevin’s question went unanswered. It happened so quickly that none of the three could react. Pa was the only one to get a good look.
‘What the fuck was that?’
Martina swung around, but whatever was there had gone.
‘What did ya see Pa?’
‘I dunno, looked like a demon running I think’
‘Ya better be joking …did you see it too Kev?’
‘I saw a shadow flying by’
‘A big one’
‘Shit lads, the two of ye are freaking me out …what kind of demon was it Pa?’
‘I dunno, a regular one I think’
‘Fuck sake Pa, will ya answer her properly, what the fuck is a regular demon?’
‘Erm, uh, a big head, red eyes, I dunno, it was moving quickly and I’m very stoned’
‘We should go back’
‘No, we need to search harder’
‘No, go back’
Martina carefully moved in between Pa and Kevin and pulled nervously on the joint.
‘What if Sandra was right?’
‘about those two lads up on Corran Hill being shapeshifting demons.
‘Who, Tony and Paul?
‘Yeah them, if ya think about things it was all a bit convenient that they happened to be about the minute ya decided to build a spaceship …how well do you know those two?’
‘uh, not well I suppose, the pair of them just walked up to me when I was setting out the runway’
‘but wasn’t that runway supposed to be below the car park?’
‘and we launched from the top of the hill?’
‘Yeah, but I couldn’t help that -they made the runway up there while we were off getting the CPU’
‘Hmmm, and what about the Hyperdrive then, did ya see them build that?’
‘Well, no, I didn’t, I went to get ye, but it worked didn’t it?’
‘I suppose, it just seems funny that there is nothing about up here and suddenly a demon turns up
Pa stepped into the middle of the corridor and faced back towards the landing deck.
‘It didn’t really turn up, it just skittered by’
Martina stood up next to Pa.
‘We should warn Sandra and Faf, it was heading their direction’
‘No need, here’s Sandra now’
Sandra strolled casually towards them, and tapped her wrist as she got close.
‘What time is it lads?
‘Are you okay Sandra, where’s Faf?’
‘I’m fine, Faf went looking for a toilet …this place is massive, it’s gonna take us ages to search it’
‘Did ya see a demon?, one ran by us, Pa saw it, it had a big head, didn’t it Pa?
Sandra glanced back down the corridor.
‘Yeah, I saw it, but it wasn’t a demon, it was a Nephilim …and it must be lost’
Martina, Kevin and Pa waited for her to continue talking, but she didn’t.
She pointed to the joint.
‘D’ye mind if I skin up with?, it feels like I’ve been walking around for hours’
Pa handed over the tin and Sandra sat cross legged against the wall.
Kevin tapped his foot impatiently.
‘What the fuck do ya mean the demon must be lost?’,
‘Nephilim are normally Earth dwelling, so it’s bound to have got mixed up if it ended up here …but never mind that, it’s going to take forever for us to check every single room by hand, there must be an easier way to find the spaceship controls’
‘Well there’s not’, snapped Kevin, ‘ye lot go back and wait in the van if ye want’
He glanced back towards the direction of the landing bay, ‘…sorry, I mean our spaceship’
Martina sat down beside Sandra.
‘What did you mean by a lost Nephinilin?’
‘Nephilin mostly hang out in an underground ice fortress back on Earth …so it shouldn’t really be up here, my guess it was moved up here by the interdimensional beings’
‘But where did it go to?, are they dangerous?’
‘Hard to tell Martina, I know one thing though, they are deadly at hiding …did ya know Hitler was one?
Kevin turned away from the group.
‘Ah good Jaysus, here we go again’, he muttered.
Pa threw a lighter to Sandra and squatted down beside Martina.
‘We’ll be with ya in a few minutes Kev, we’re just gonna have a quick smoke to wind down, that demon was freaky’
‘Do what the fuck ye like, I’m carrying on with the mission …someone’s gotta save the world’
Kevin shook his head, muttered under his breath again, and returned to his business of frantically yanking doors open.
Sandra finished rolling the joint, tapped the roach off the floor, and lit it. She took a drag and turned to face Martina and Pa.
‘I’ll tell ye something, Kevin’s plan is going to take forever, this ship is far too big for six people to search’
Martina glanced along the corridor towards Kevin, and nodded.
‘Yeah, Kev’s sound and all, but he doesn’t seem to have a clue what he’s at’
She watched Sandra pass the spliff to Pa.
‘Ye know, if Gerry Mc Loughlin was here he’d have the control center found in ten minutes’
Pa took a quick drag from the spliff and passed it to Martina, whose eyes had been focused on it ‘yeah, but himself and Kev’d be knocking lumps out of each other in less than five minutes’
Martina glanced towards Kevin again. He was just barely visible in the distance. Battering his shoulder against another entrance.
‘What’s the story there Pa?, the lads are both, well, ya know …nerds, ya’d think they’d both get on’
‘As far as I know it’s got to do with computer games, I think Gerry stole a code from Kevin, or so he says, …or else Kevin made a code or some fucking thing, it’s just some bullshit between the two of them’
Martina handed the joint back to Pa
‘Thanks …anyway, Kevin thinks Gerry had been using a code to allow him win computer games and Gerry thinks Kevin’s been going about town telling people that he cheats’
Sandra nodded in agreement, ‘that’s because he has’
‘Are ye serious, who gives a fuck?’
‘They two of them do, but you’re right Martina, if anybody’d know their way about an alien spaceship it’d be Gerry’.
The group sat smoking in silence for severl minutes.
Sandra and Pa watched as Martina finished the last of the joint and stagger to her feet.
‘Lads, I’ve been thinking. I know this sounds paranoid, but say this is a trap, and shapeshifting demons wanted us here …well, they surely won’t just let us spin off again whenever we like’
‘Ah Martina, that doesn’t just sound paranoid, it is paranoid, you’ve been listening to Sandra too much …no offense Sandra’.
Sandra wasn’t listening, she had turned her attention to the making of another joint. Kevin was out of sight, but his banging and cursing was within hearing. It was clear the search was not going well.
‘D’ye know what lads? …we could just go and get Gerry Mc Loughlin, I mean it only took a second to fly up here …couldn’t we just nip back in the van and pick him up?’
Sandra said nothing. Pa scratched his temple.
‘I dunno Martina, uh, Gerry was in the middle of a computer game when we left him, and anyways Kev’d never go for it’
‘It’s your van Pa, isn’t it, why not?’
‘I suppose that does sound like a better plan than just sitting here …but who’s gonna tell Kev?’
Martina rolled her eyes, nodded, and walked in the direction of Kevin’s frustration.
Sandra lit the joint. Pa looked at the small dent Kevin had put in the wall panel and shrugged. The wall was clearly marked, but the damage was just not going to be enough to prevent the annihilation of humanity.