Mucklebones reached into a hidden pocket in her skirt and withdrew a small pouch. She loosened the draw-string and removed a cone of incense and a
tiny burner and a match.
"You are about to find out a few things, little sister," she said to Gert. "Time for the veil to be lifted. We've been watching you, and waiting, and
now you are going to know what is really going on."
"Who, you and this little tart been watchin' me?" Gert said.
"Oh, no..." Muckles said, as she set the match to the incense on the small pyramid-shaped burner and then blew both flaming objects out. Her
whiteless eyes suddenly glowed more brightly --- blacker and reflective --- when she looked at the old hag again. "Dag here is my responsibility,
and even she isn't aware yet, but my sisters and I have been watching everything you've been doing since Her Sweetness here landed in Vandalia, and
the jig is up."
Cecilia's cockpit was beginning to cloud up rapidly with the smoke of the incense. Mucklebones continued, "She deserves to watch this...ye
comeuppance...'cuz she was the directly insulted pawn you used for your diabolical scheme. Ah plan to speak with Neno later about the mess you sent
into, directin' him into the badlands after Dag had already been abducted by your lackey."
Dag looked at Mucklebones now with a quizzical tip of her head.
"Yup," said the Gray Alien Canyon Witch. "Neno was headed your way, instinctively, and this wicked witch sent him west. You'd a never wound up in
that canyon if'n Neno'd got to where they had you imprisoned in that temple, and then there'd o' been no way fer yer pretty little head to be filled
with the nonsense that they infected
your thinking with.
It was all a ruse, a very nasty, vicious, monstrous scheme for Gertie here to get what she wanted, at your expense. If not for her puppet's poor
riding skills and basic lack of training, Ben wouldn'a found ya neither. Ah shudder to 'member the dream I had ... what would a happened to yer if
ye'd made it to Fairy Stone Park."
"I thought Neno went to help Silo," said Dag.
"You thought right, and how Silo got to where she landed, at that McAllister place, wasn't as random as it seemed, either," said Mucklebones. "Our
hostage here was only part of an elaborate plan that they'd been a-brewin' up for eons, jest waitin' for ya to show up. Yer resemblance to that
window -- that shrine in the temple -- was an illusion. A glamor, to convince you. If they'd a grabbed some other girl first, it would'a looked like
"But----" Dag started, but Muckles reached over a slender gray finger and touched it to her lips. "Take in a really deep breath, Dag, and hold it
in....it will all be clear to you, mah dear. I told yer, back in the Swamp, we needed to find out whatcher powers are. Todays' the day, the time,
the place. And Elvira here, if she don't melt, is gonna git a thrashin' from my sisters, meanwhile."
Gert was barely visible now in the smoke-filled cockpit, but they both heard her spindly form drop to the floor in a faint.
Muckles grinned at Dag. "Don't you worry," she said. "She aint' never gonna hurtcha again. Just sit back and breathe...relax...you'll enjoy this, I
promise. I 'member my first time....ah.....what I wouldn't give for just one more second of that blissful moment of my enlightenment."
She closed her huge eyes: something only Tibbs had seen her do ever, for she never blinked. Dag didn't see it now, either, for she, too, had closed
her eyes, and the three forms then faded clean out of sight.
Ben, after leaving the docking bay, had found a quiet corner on the cargo deck and sat himself down on the shiny floor, crossing his legs and focusing
his thinking on locating the sneaky pup that Gert had enlisted to do her dirty work.
"Where would Ah go, if'n I'm a skeered little punk with a lot to lose on a strange ship and not one friend?" he muttered. He squinched his goggly
eyes closed and imagined himself as the young man, little more than a boy..."Where do I go, I'm a puppet, I'm a tool, I'm a liar and a fool," he
murmured. "A puppet....a tool....a liar 'n' a fool," he repeated like a mantra, over and over, liking the rhythm of it. His hands now seemed to
assume a posture, or mudra
all on their own...the tips of his little fingers forming an O with their companion thumbs, while the backs of his
hands rested on his knees.
he thought, and searched around for a clue-ish idea. "Young'uns like puppets.' Hmm-mm. Ah, them yaller-haired girls, they're
young'uns, and come from his home-place. So he might well 'a' gone to them fer solace...but they got the wardrobin' frenzy goin' on from all them
crates to go through...girls like tryin' on clothes...and boys like watchin' 'em doin' it. They'd 'a' kicked him out, shore thing."
Then he grinned and his eyes popped open wide. "Yer down here a'hidin' then, ain't ya, junior, tryin' to stow away, waitin' fer them girls to summon
ya' back. 'Til ya got protectors, yer nuthin' but prey."
Ben chuckled low, to himself, and rose from the floor. "A liar 'n' a fool," he said. "Allez
gives thur'self away. Hangin' round like some
shifty poltergeist," he began to walk, slowly, among the crates and stowage, the locked metal cages that held old equipment and the crew's stored
"Ship," he said.
"Yes, Ben?" the Yydryl answered.
"Blacklights, please." The room went completely dark, and then relit with the eerie blue glow so well known for exposing invisible gunk and entities.
He chortled again. It was one of the tricks of his trade back on Earth...ya wanna find the stuff the eye can't see on it's own, ya gets out a
blacklight. Brittle would not be able to hide any longer.
And then, very near him, a little to his right and behind him, he heard, "Crap."
It was little more than a whisper, a reckless escape of air emitted by a terrified hider who's cover is blown. Ben turned, and there lying on the
floor under a folded-out rollaway cot, lay Brittle.
"Yer cover's blown," said Ben. "C'mon, then, come out from under there. The hidin's all over, and the mess ye made needs cleaned up. Now."
Ship felt a warmth fill her very core. It was nice to have real men on board, who could help manage the youths until they were ready to be groomed for
But the feeling was fleeting.
As helpful as the mature men were, they were outnumbered by the impetuous youths, and keeping them all corralled would be a task she did not want to
lightly assign to anyone.
And worse, all these women-folk were outta control, causing unnecessary distractions, using up supplies, straining the droids, making messes like they
were on holiday at someone else's house, not to mention all the bickering and food flinging and backstabbing and shrieking.
It just wouldn't do. It was counterproductive chaos. And Ship was far from happy about it. She was capable of establishing rules for order, and very
close to doing so. Her crew was becoming overwhelmed, and these new passengers were making trouble. While they'd been on Vandalia, she'd enjoyed the
peace and quiet, had felt again her self-possession as the mother-ship, watching, able to turn off the coms when the noise got too irritating.
But now, they were crawling all over her. When they got to Neno's colony planet, things were going to change.
edit on 30-4-2012 by wildtimes
because: (no reason given)
edit on 30-4-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)