Heading for the supply drop just past the planet’s first moon, the scuttle runner jolted Nate around a lot for alien technology. Lurpeedurpians had a way of suctioning their bottom half to the floor, and their translators had equivalent features, so there were no seats or straps or even handles. All four dudes sat on the floor, Tim protecting a fanny-pack he’d just made from a membrane used with alien circuitry, Jack yelling “Whoooa!” as he intentionally knocked into Nate, and Bradley curling up to imitate a wobbling Weeble.
A Pazdabit, a representative sent by the construction company, didn’t fair much better. It had five long legs, hooks and pinchers growing where toes might have been, and it’s roundish body had somewhere around twenty arms, each with a different kind of hand. One had long spindly fingers, another looked like a ball with several large studs on it. It had grabbers, pokers, pinchers, twisters, tournequets, feathers, and chisels among others, but there was nothing to hold on to so it kept skittering around, bumping into the walls, and grabbing the dudes for support.
Tim gave it a sharp kick when it grabbed his jeans, then laughed when it careened into the side.
“Dude,” said Nate. “We’ve got to play nice with these guys.”
“I am playing nice,” said Tim. “I’m going to be very nice to you in just a minute, Nancy.”
“I’m going to nice you both to smithereens if you don’t knock it off,” said Jack.
In spite of Tim acting like an asshat, Nate didn’t have much sympathy for the alien. It was a creepy looking thing, and when they tried to convince it to move the supplies over just the length of the drop, it was completely unyielding.
Jim batted away one of the alien’s pinchers. “Besides, if Nate’s solution doesn’t work, it won’t matter how nice we are to the Pantsrabbit.”
“Good one,” said Bradley.
“I’m bubbling over with confidence,” said Tim. “Like getting a chicken to repair a beaver dam.”
Nate and Jack raised their eyebrows.
“Good one,” said Bradley.
The solution Nate had devised used two relays. The supply drop consisted of many modules held together by a series of rails that could shuffle them around to bring the needed supplies to the exterior. They would attach one relay to a planet-side rail to receive the beam, then attach the other to the outer side to point directly to the alliance headquarters. Between them they would run a plasmaloid lead, which is what Nate came up with to call the alien tech that connected them together.
The scuttle runner docked onto a small construction structure, and they all piled into it. Inside was the complete opposite of the runner—straps, handles, bars, and loops extended all over the place, and unfathomable tools and instruments covered the walls. There were two portholes with clear panes allowing some visibility to the outside. For what, Nate didn’t know. As far as he could tell the Pantsrabbits had no eyes.
Nate screwed up his courage to activate the space shell for the spacewalk—alien technology that had never been used on a human before. A round slab of cloudy translucent rubber, it would stretch and form around him, theoretically providing for all his physical needs. He was about to activate it when Tim snatched it from him.
“I’ll do this,” said Tim. “Trust me, I’ve done scarier and more delicate things in the limestone quarries.” He tweaked the activator and it immediately started to spread up his arm and onto his torso.
Nate was torn between being grateful and resenting the fact that he had to be grateful to Tim. He was at least rewarded with an ‘oh shit’ look on Tim’s face when it stretched over his face.
Tim’s eyes stayed wide for a minute, then started to relax as the substance completely sealed him up. He grinned. “This is awesome.”
He went out the airlock for the job, but they unfortunately had no cameras to watch him. Through one of the portholes they tracked him until he disappeared.
“Let’s have a look at the short range controller,” said Jack.
Patterbutt extended a device that looked like a miniature snare drum with giant rose petals coming out of it. Several of the fleshy loops across his top uncurled and flicked across the petals, making a watery sound in the middle as some brown goopy stuff seemed to go into a boil. The controls were very complex, and from Patterbutt’s instructions before the flight, Nate could barely remember the right petal to turn the surface transmitter on and off, let alone monitor the sophisticated signaling.
“No BAWK signal yet,” said Patterbutt.
“I hope Tim knows what he’s doing,” said Nate.
“Have faith,” said Jack.
“This reminds me of the time we sent Greg Gutfeld on a beer run in Provincetown,” said Bradley.
“BAWK signal to planet.”
They gathered around Patterbutt, unable to interpret the gurgling, but transfixed all the same. Nate was starting to fatigue just standing there, when a gurgle-bloop sound prompted Patterbutt to say, “Relays connected.”
“Fantastic,” said Nate. “You should be able to receive from headquarters now.”
Patterbutt furiously worked the controls. After some time, Tim came in from the airlock, the flabby skin of his suit dangling over his shoulder.
The Pantsrabbit immediately disengaged the docking and screeched something to the pilot. The scuttle runner broke away from the supply drop.
“Wait,” said Nate. “We don’t know if it works, yet.”
The Pantsrabbit made some motion that gave Nate the impression of someone flipping the bird, then receded as the ship rumbled and bounced him around. Nate stumbled over to him and gave him a good kick sending him all the way to the other end, where it careened off the walls before settling into a spin.
Tim tipped his head back and guffawed. “That was pretty.”
“BAWK not work,” said Patterbutt.
“Seriously?” asked Nate. “Did you screw it up, Tim?”
Tim pulled his sleeve up, and Jack grabbed his arm.
“BAWK defective relay BAWK interconnect.”
“Eat that,” said Tim.
“We’ve got to turn this boat around,” said Nate.
Through the portholes, the supply drop grew smaller and smaller.
“BAWK not allowed.”
“Give me the controls,” said Tim. He took the device from Patterbutt, and tweaked a couple petals before handing it back. Nate thought he turned the transmitter on the planet off and back on, but wasn’t sure.
Several bright flashes erupted from the supply drop, and the modules separated, propelling outward from each other until the spot it occupied was clear.
The translator BAWKed excitedly. “BAWK signal to BAWK alliance headquarters,” said Patterbutt.
“What the hell was that?” asked Jack.
Tim grinned like a nun laying down a canasta. “That was plan B.”
Jack’s jaw dropped. “You blew up the drop?”
“You just became an intergalactic terrorist, you ass!” said Nate.
“As much as I like the way that sounds, I didn’t harm a soul, and the Pantsrabbits are bastards.”
“Good one,” said Bradley.