Note: This story uses background and concepts from the Teenagers From Outer Space role-playing game, Copyright 2001 R. Talsorian Games, Inc. The characters and story are Copyright 2001 Rodford Edmiston Smith.
"Did anyone get killed besides me?" groaned Argy.
"Ow," said Hub.
"Please get your foot out of my stomach," said Karen.
"Sorry," said Freddy.
"There's still a foot in my stomach," said Karen. "If whoever it belongs to doesn't move it, I'm gonna dig my nails in."
Someone screamed like a girl.
"Hey, Karen, go easy," said Freddy.
"I haven't done it yet!"
"That was Ramet," Hub supplied. "I think the cranial interface fell off. I better see to him."
Indeed, the alien boy was shifting randomly, and with increasing loss of definition. Hub got the helmet on him and made sure the equipment was still working. Fortunately, it had built-in batteries, because the saucer was currently dead. Ramet stabilized as a vaguely female blob, rested for a moment, then shifted to the usual.
"I... won't be able to take this off until the Boost quits," he gasped.
"Say, Freddy, you still wearing that training bra?" asked Jim.
"Training suit," muttered Freddy. "And, no. I thought I might have to change as a disguise, like I did last night."
"Too bad. We could use that to stabilize him, right?"
"Oh. Well, I brought it with me," said Freddy. "I just didn't put it on."
With some minor difficulty, they stripped Ramet (Talli helping eagerly while Karen blushed, looked away, and went to see if Hub needed any assistance repairing the saucer) and got the suit on him.
"Thanks," he said. "That helps. But I'm not taking off this helmet until I need to. The suit doesn't work on my other powers."
The lights and ventilation came on as Hub got the power plant working, but he wisely left the artificial gravity off.
"Hey, I just had an idea!" Freddy announced. "Talli has Super Strength. We can give her some Boost and she can..."
"Whoa, whoa," said the alien girl. "Yeah, I have Super Strength. I also have Super Speed, Force Field and Swap Shop. While the other three could be useful, you don't want me swapping bodies randomly and repeatedly."
"Could you swap with the Big G?" asked Hub.
"Nope. Doesn't work on cosmic beings," said Argy, firmly, shaking his head.
Hub muttered something rude under his breath.
"I think our first step should be getting out of this saucer," said Karen.
"Just a minute," said Hub, checking something on the control panel. "Okay, air's breathable. I'll see if I can force the door."
Fortunately, the saucer was a standard model, and not one made for high-gravity worlds. Hub shoved once, hard, and the driver's door squealed open.
"Last stop. Everybody out."
They had landed in a large corridor, running both directions as far as they could see. The two saucers were too large for the space available and were jammed solidly together. The group could also see side corridors, branching left and right as well as up and down.
"Oh, great," muttered Freddy. "This place has no stairs."
"Well, it was built by a guy who can fly," Argy explained, smirking.
"Yeah, but none of us can," muttered Freddy. "Hey, wait! Ramet can Shapechange into a flying creature. Ramet?"
He looked around, then remembered the subject of his quest was still in the van.
"I'm not removing this thing until the Boost wears off!" came Ramet's echoing response.
"Nobody here can fly?!" said Talli. "Great. We're screwed."
"These corridors all look the same size," said Hub. "I could probably cut down Ramet's saucer into a flying platform."
"Hey!" Ramet yelled. "Nobody touches my saucer! Use your own!"
"We can't all fit in yours to fly back," Hub responded reasonably. "Besides, yours looks like it's totaled. I could probably get mine flying again with a little work."
Fulminous profanity wafted out through the sport-utility saucer's open door.
Hub reached inside, standing on tip-toes to reach, and pulled out a large tool kit.
"Sooner started, sooner finished."
* * *
"Look, I'll buy you a new saucer," said Hub, placatingly, as they rode along. "I can afford to, remember?"
"I liked that saucer," said Ramet, almost pouting.
"At least with the platform you could bring the stabilizing gadget along," said Freddy.
"Okay, Argy, where can we find the Big G?" Karen asked.
"Most likely in the very center," the armadillo-type guy responded.
"Down it is, then," said Hub, directing the platform to the nearest vertical shaft.
"Wait!" said Ramet. "Do we know for sure? This place has artificial gravity. Down could be in any direction."
"Ouch," said Hub, frowning.
"So how do we tell?" asked Talli.
"I could probably use the sensors from the saucer to find the center of mass," Hub muttered, rubbing his chin, which produced a sound like someone sanding concrete.
"I have an idea," Ramet smugly announced. "Talli, you still have one dose of Boost, correct?"
"Yeah," she said, cautiously.
"Well, give it to Freddy. Then, instead of 3 of him, we'll have a dozen or more, and he/they can scout for us."
"Yeah, but I also have another power," Freddy pointed out.
"So you keep flipping gender. Big deal."
"That might cause long-term problems," was Karen's concern.
"If we don't find the Big G and stop him from eating the Earth, you'll have bigger long-term problems," Ramet pointed out.
"Argh," said Freddy, squeezing his eyes shut.
Talli looked at the others, who shrugged collectively.
"You mix the stuff and give it to him," said Hub. "I'll work on the sensors."
"Here," said Talli, shortly, as she handed a squeeze bulb to Freddy. "I mixed it with some of the soft drink you brought. Figured you'd like that better than Tang."
"Oh," said Freddy, accepting the bulb reluctantly, "thanks."
"Wait a minute," said Karen, as Freddy started drinking. "Freddy, wasn't that Nitro Cola?"
Freddy nodded, mutely, busy swallowing.
"Won't the caffeine have some effect on the Boost?"
"Oh, no," said Talli. "To do that it would have to have a huge amount of caffeine."
"But Nitro Cola does have a huge amount of caffeine!"
"Oh, boy..." said Freddy, as he finished gulping the potion.
He hiccoughed... and suddenly there were a lot of Freddys. They poured outward, shoving the others off the platform, then flowing outward to fill the corridor and spill down the nearby vertical shaft.
"Ow," said a cacophony of Freddys, the resonating echo from a multitude of throats threatening to deafen all of those present.
"Well, that's him all over," said Ramet, after the stampede had stopped.
* * *
"Well, Ramet was right," said Hub, looking at his gadget as they hovered in the vertical shaft. "The center of mass is up, not down."
"Oh, great," chorused the five Freddys on the platform. "That means most of me will be left behind!"
"I'm just wondering why you're all guys," said Ramet, looking puzzled.
"Surely you aren't that hard up for a date," snickered Talli.
"Well, the rest of you can spread out horizontally and into the outer layers, and warn us if the Silver Scorcher arrives," said Karen.
"Gotcha!" said the Freddys, nodding.
Upwards they flew, though not nearly at the highest speed of the saucer the platform was made from. That would have blown them all off. Instead, Hub ran the speed up to where the others were uncomfortable, but not actually in danger, and held it there.
"Hey!," said the 5 Freddys, suddenly. "I think I found the gadget the Big G uses to suck that essence stuff from planets!"
"Distilled Quintessence of Ectothere," sighed Argy, rolling his eyes.
"Are you sure?" asked Hub.
"Well, it looks like a giant flexi-straw," said the Freddys.
"That's it," Argy confirmed.
"See if you can sabotage it," urged Karen.
"Y'know, he may not be able to help us find the Big G, but he does give us an jam-proof, instant communication system," Hub observed.
"But what happens if he's still scattered everywhere when the Boost wears off?" asked Karen, worried about her boyfriend.
"I imagine they'll be drawn together to one point," guessed Hub. "That most likely being their mutual center of mass."
"But there's walls between lots of them!"
"Well, that could pose a problem," Hub admitted.
"Hey!" said Talli, who was looking up. "Looks like it opens out above!"
They all fell silent as they entered the central, spherical hollow of the Way-Station. There, in the distance, in the shadows, sat a massive figure in a massive chair. It was unmoving, appearing asleep.
"Uh... do we try talking to him?" asked Karen.
"He wouldn't notice us," huffed Argy. "Higher cosmic beings only pay attention to cosmic beings."
"So what do we do now?" asked Ramet, testily. "I don't think we have enough firepower to even wake the guy!"
"And I/we haven't been able to make a dent in his sucker gadget," said the Freddys, forlornly. "Oh, great; there's that Silver Scorcher guy. He just shot by on his ironing board, heading inwards."
"It's a cosmic sled," snapped Argy.
"Guys, we're running out of time," said Karen, anxiously. "What can we do?"
"Hmmm, I could rig the power unit to overload, and send the platform flying at him on autopilot," mused Hub.
"We could bring all the Freddys up here and see if they could outnumber him," said Talli.
"We could search to see if we can find a weapon," suggested the Freddys.
"We could plead with him for mercy," said Karen, "appeal to his cosmic nobility."
"We could run for our lives while there's still time," muttered Ramet.
"Oryoucouldjustsitdownandenjoytheshow," said Yehudi.
The kids all gasped and jerked around, to see the strange, human-looking creature who had appeared during Doctor Sumt'ang's science demonstration. He was holding a large bucket; a strange, silvery light shown from under the rim.
"Hey,ItoldyouguysI'dhelpyououtsometime," Yehudi babbled. "Well,hereIam."
"And how are you going to help?" was Ramet's dry inquiry.
Yehudi lifted his bucket.
"And just where did you get Distilled Quintessence of Ectothere?" Ramet huffed.
"Oh,IbreweditupwhenIheardaboutthetrouble," Yehudi shrugged. "Fortunately,he'saquietdrunk."
"Distilled Quintessence of Ectothere is impossible to synthesize!" exclaimed Argy.
"Yeah,yeah..." said Yehudi, waving him off as he started towards the seated figure.
The giant seemed to shift, slightly, and lights came on as Yehudi approached.
Now the Big G definitely stirred, looking down towards the relatively tiny figure at his feet. A smile slowly spread across the massive, craggy features.
"Yehudi!" the Big G rumbled. "I haven't seen you in millennia! What brings you here?"
"Iowesomefolksfromthatplanetyou'reabouttosuckdrylikeatangerineafavor,andhavetoldthemI'dsavetheirworld," Yehudi explained, standing with the bucket hanging from both hands behind him.
"You know I must feed," said the Big G, his smile vanishing. "That... is my curse."
"Yeah,well,Igotsomethingtodealwiththatthirstofyours," Yehudi countered, beaming as he brought the bucket around and held it up.
The Big G gave a gasp of surprise which made the kids' ears pop. Carefully, he reached out and took the bucket, which looked like a thimble in his hand. He carefully removed the cover (now reminding Freddy of someone opening one of those little tubs of nondairy creamer) and his face lit from the reflected glow of the contents. He closed his eyes and sniffed, then with surprising delicacy sipped at the bucket.
Even that tiny amount, no more than a liter, created a drastic change in the Big G's demeanor. His face relaxed, the creases disappearing, he leaned back in his chair, beaming, and the wax melted and ran out of his ears.
"Eewww..." said the kids.
"Come, my friend, join me. There's enough here for both of us."
"Don'tmindifIdo," Yehudi replied, 'porting onto the arm of the Big G's chair.
He reached into a pocket of his jumpsuit and produced a folding cup, which he unfolded and dipped, just slightly, into the bucket. Within minutes the odd couple were singing a mournful, ribald song, each off-key in a different direction.
"Who are you people?" demanded a new voice. "What are you doing here?"
The kids whipped around to see a naked, silver man, holding a silver ironing board - sorry, cosmic sled - under one arm.
"Uh... leaving?" said the Freddys.
"Yes," said Hub, ushering everyone quickly onto the platform.
As the irate but baffled Silver Scorcher watched, Hub guided the platform back out the way they came.
* * *
"Where did you guys meet Yehudi?" Argy demanded. "Do you know how cosmic he is?"
The others ignored him, being otherwise occupied.
"Wow," said Freddy, as the last of him came back together, "is that a relief."
"Saucer's fixed," Hub announced, wiping his hands on a rag.
"Not mine," muttered Ramet.
"Oh, put a sock in it," snickered Talli. "You got all your personal gear out, and Hub promised to buy you a better one."
"Home," sighed Karen, sagging a bit. "Can you believe it? We saved the Earth!"
"No, Yehudi did," said Freddy. "All we did was watch."
"Well, if we hadn't come here, he wouldn't have come here," was Karen's firm counter.
"She may have a point," said Ramet. "It could be that our efforts attracted his attention."
"Hey," said Hub. "We've been gone all day, and Freddy hasn't flipped gender once!"
"Don't mention a no-hitter!" cried Freddy, and he quickly checked his anatomy.
There was general laughter, as the youngsters filed into the saucer.
"Which way?" Hub asked, as he fired the engine up.
"I saw the way the Silver Scorcher came in," Freddy informed the big, rhino-whale sort of guy. "It's big enough for us to get out."
"I wonder if the school will count this as an excused absence," whined Argy.
"Shut up, Argy!" the others chorused.
End Part Sixteen
This story is Copyright 2001 Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to reprint or repost it must have permission from the author, who can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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