Friday, May 27, 2005


      Douglas vaguely remembered being taught that the human heart was the strongest organ. He was also pretty sure that it wasn't meant for this. Outside of the Hyperborean airlock, a furious chaos extended away from him in three directions. The ceiling sparked, the walls burned, and the floor was littered with parts from each. 1 was pulling something out of a pile.
      "New threads," he called, and held up a gray Galactic Ward jumpsuit. It was slightly singed, but certainly better than the remainder of his old one. He ran around the corner to change.
      "Do you hear that?" asked Josef.
      Douglas was, in fact, trying to ignore a multitude of dangerous-sounding clanks, bzzts, and rumbles. He stared at Josef with a blank face, but Josef had decided against bothering to look.
      "It's a robot beacon." The mouse darted around a puddle of wires and down the hallway.
      "A robot?" asked 1, poking his head around the corner, "Go with him. I'll be right there."
      Josef had stopped in front of a small, red door buried behind wreckage.
      "Where does it lead?" Douglas asked.
      "Curious," answered 1, arriving behind him, "It oughtta be just a closet."
      "In any case," said Josef, "there's a robot back there."
      1 reached down and began tossing aside chunks of twisted spaceship.
      "Wait," Douglas worried, "how do we know it's friendly?"
      "We don't," replied 1, as he pried the final hunk of metal from its indentation in the door. Douglas and Josef took many steps backward. 1 pressed a panel by the door and the closet swooshed open. He stood staring into the darkness.
      "Surprise," he said, and immediately fell backward, attacked by something short and gray. The robot and 1 were locked in a violent struggle rolling around on the floor. 1 was crying out, but Douglas didn't know what to do. Then the situation adjusted itself unexpectedly. 1 wasn't yelling, he was laughing. The robot was tickling him.
      An explosion shook the hallway and vibrated through the piles of metal.
      "If you two are finished..." said Josef, irritated. The robot paused and looked to see Douglas and Josef.
      "Oh, hello," it said. She said. Douglas was shocked. The robot was a girl. The girl was a robot. With long, golden hair. She turned back to 1.
      "You saved me, papa bear!" 1 smiled and blushed, then stood up.
      "I... uhh..."
      "We know," Josef interrupted, "Embarrassed."
      "Isis used to work with us at Headquarters," explained 1, "Isis, this is Josef and Douglas."
      Isis walked over to them. She had a robot body, but her gray face very closely resembled a human girl's. And when she shook hands with Douglas, her palm felt soft and warm. She bent down to pick up Josef.
      "What do you think you're -" protested Josef.
      "It's been a long time since I've seen a mouse," said Isis smiling, "You're so furry." She stroked his back.
      "Stop that," he demanded sleepily and yawned, "Could you at least tell me what happened here?"
      "I'm sorry, no," frowned Isis, as she put him back down, "I went into the closet... I was... uh... looking for something. Then there was an explosion and I couldn't get out. I heard people screaming and more explosions. I thought we were being attacked." She looked at 1 sadly and hugged him.
      "Looks like everyone got away okay," comforted 1.
      "Sadly," sighed Josef, "because there is no one left to tell us who did this."
      "Isis, what was the Hyperborean doing out here?" Everyone looked at Douglas, who hadn't spoken a word since they found her.
      "Douglas..." frowned Josef disapprovingly, then he paused, "Oh. That's a good question."
      "We were going to Violet on a routine delivery mission..."
      "Pre-chewed bubble gum, again?" asked 1. Isis nodded.
      "What do they do with -"
      "Please, Douglas," interrupted Josef, "don't ask."
      "On the way there," Isis continued, "Navigation saw a huge object at the edge of sensor range. I think we were going to look at it."
      "Any idea what it was?" Douglas asked, before anyone else could.
      "No, that's what we wanted to see," answered Isis, "Opis, the science officer, said it had to be a planet, because it was perfectly round and seemed to be inhabited. But then Arge, in Navigation, called Opis a Throovian pathospray, and said it had to be an asteroid, because it wasn't near a star or any other orbitable mass. So Opis said, 'Are you sure your momma's not in town?' And then Arge threw her -"
      "Thank you, Isis," said Josef, "It is clear that this mysterious object is our rogue Earth."
      "Earth?!" exclaimed Isis, and she looked at Douglas with surprise. Another explosion rumbled through the hallway, this one much closer.
      "Afraid," cried 1, then shook himself, "Josef, we've gotta get to the Engine Room and get these explosions under control. Meantime, Isis..."
      "Earth," muttered Isis, who was still staring at Douglas with wide eyes.
      "Please, go check the Captain's log." Isis walked away quickly, but thoughtfully. 1 turned to Douglas.
      "Douglas, you have the most important job of all... in the Command Center."
      Douglas smiled.


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