50. TROUBLE ON UOQUO 2*

Tony and Bea are sent to guard a new gun.
It’s supposed to be secret….

Whoibus-child-of-Gepair has invented a new gun, using a crystal which Tony and Bea found on Xavu 6.  The new gun is safe while it’s in Whoibus-child-of-Gepair’s workshop on Uoquo 2, but now he has to take it out for testing.  Tony and Bea are given the job of guarding it.

Length : 17 100 words.

 

1

“I WONDER WHAT OBSIDIAN WANTS.”

 

The Bean and I hurried through the corridors of the headquarters of the Planetary Federation, on the planet Yband 4. I said (not for the first time), “I wonder what Obsidian wants.”

She said, “He’s called us himself, so it must be important.” The Bean and I are agents – Troubleshooters – of the Federation. Martin, our leader, usually gives us our missions. Obsidian is commander of all the local agents.

“And urgent,” I said. Obsidian had ordered us to report immediately, and to wear our expedition suits, which are light but tough, for protection in places like jungles. The helmets were on clips at our waists.

“No doubt he’ll…. Ow!” Somebody ran out of a corridor we were passing, and barged into her.

Most races are human-like, but this guy wasn’t. His body was about the same height as mine, but triangular. I mean – if you cut a slice across him, it would be a triangle, with rounded corners. On each of his three bottom corners was a short, thick leg, and on each top corner was a long bendy arm, ending in two thick fingers. His maroon tunic covered his body, the tops of his legs, and his arms, to the wrists. He didn’t have a waist, but a belt round the bottom of his body held a stun-gun.

The Bean staggered against me, but the guy didn’t say sorry. He didn’t even stop. As he hurried on, I called after him, “Hey!”

He swung one of his arms round, to bring a wrist unit to the mouth in the top of his body. “Tell me how to find Obsidian’s office.” The translation came through our wrist units.

I said, “Can’t you watch where you’re going?” Then I realised – he didn’t have eyes. He must sense his surroundings like a bat, by ultrasonic waves. His grey skin had a darker grey patch on the back of each hand. Maybe these were the parts that did it.

He waved an arm towards us, and said, “Bah! I have no time to waste on foolish children.” He bustled away, along the next corridor.

I asked, “Bean, are you OK?”

“Y…yes. He stood on my foot.” She put it gently on the floor, and limped around. “It’s sore, but I’ll live. Let’s see what Obsidian wants. I wonder why that man was looking for him.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “I hope it’s nothing to do with our mission.”

The Bean was walking OK by the time we reached Obsidian’s office. As soon as we sat down, he said, “I have a mission for you.”

“Sky-high!” I said. “Where?”

“A Scientist called Whoibus-child-of-Gepair has asked me to send the two agents who were on the first mission to Xavu 6.”

“Xavu 6,” I said. “That was a while ago, before our training. Why does this Whoibus guy want to see us?”

He smiled, but said, “Take care, Tony. Whoibus-child-of-Gepair is a native of Rabbli 3, and the Rabblians are fussy about names. He’ll be offended if you don’t use his full name – Whoibus-child-of-Gepair. He wants to see you about the confidential part of your Xavu 6 report.”

The Bean frowned. “We were ordered never to mention that part of the report to anyone. Didn’t that order come from you?”

“It did, but Whoibus-child-of-Gepair is sending his assistant, Davic-child-of-Gepair, to see you, and you may discuss it with him.”

The Bean said, “We met someone in the corridor. He said he was coming here. What does Davic-child-of-Gepair look like?”

“He’s a Rabblian too. I haven’t had….”

The office door slid open, and there was the guy who’d barged into us in the corridor. He demanded, “Is this Obsidian’s office?”

“It is,” said Obsidian.

“I am Davic-child-of-Gepair. I was ordered to meet two agents here.”

Obsidian said, “These are the two agents. They will take you to a spare office.” He told us, “Number 5 in this corridor is free at present. Would you report to me when you return?”

“Sure,” I said. “I mean yes.” I like Obsidian. He’s a good leader – fair and friendly if you do your best. He never shouts – but I wouldn’t like to face him if I’d done something he didn’t like.

Number 5 was the usual Federation office, with a U of seats, grey like the walls and floor. No windows: the ceiling glows. Without asking, Davic-child-of-Gepair jumped on the command chair, the bottom of the U. We took the settee at the left.

He demanded, “Tell me your names.”

I said, “You barged into us in the corridor, and stood on Bea’s foot.”

The Bean said, “Forget it, Tony. Obsidian’s given us a job.” She squeezed my arm. That’s her signal for me to cool down. I glared at the guy, but tried to relax. She went on, to Davic-child-of-Gepair, “That’s Tony, and I’m Bea.”

“I expected adult agents.”

The Bean and I started talking at the same time, but she stopped, letting me say, “Bea’s nearly twelve, and I’m thirteen. If that’s not old enough for you, we’ll go.”

“Are you the agents who went to Xavu 6?”

“Yes.”

“Then you are the agents that Whoibus-child-of Gepair wants. But he will not be pleased.”

I said, “Then he can easily get somebody else.”

“No. He ordered me to bring the two agents who went to Xavu 6. I shall explain your duties, and take you to him. Then he can decide. If he does not want you, he can send you away. Federation leaders ordered part of your report on your visit to Xavu 6 to be kept secret.”

“Yes.”

“Tell me that part.”

I asked, “Why?”

“I must be sure that you are the agents.”

I said, “We were ordered never to mention that part of our report. How do we know we can trust you?”

“Your leader was instructed to order you to assist me.”

The Bean squeezed my arm again. “No, Tony!” While I leaned back, taking a deep breath, she said to him, “Our leader ordered us not to talk about a large part of our Xavu 6 report. Perhaps if you tell us what you’re interested in, that would save time.”

He said, “You saw a native animal.”

I said, “We saw lots of native animals.”

“This one had an unusual method of catching its prey.”

I let the Bean answer. “That would be the crystal wolf. It has a diamond-shaped crystal in a frame on the top of its head. When the sun shines through that crystal, the light sends other animals into a trance. The crystal wolf can easily catch them.”

“Do you know why Federation leaders ordered that part of your report to be kept secret?”

The Bean answered, “Naturally, we wondered. Tony suggested that the wolf’s crystal might be used in a weapon.”

“Maybe,” I said. “The crystal doesn’t work if it’s scratched, and it goes cloudy when the wolf dies.”

“My master, Whoibus-child-of-Gepair, has overcome those problems, and used the wolf’s crystal in a weapon. Until now, that weapon has been kept safe in his workshop. Now, it must be taken out for testing. While it is out, it must be guarded. Since you already know of the crystal, he has chosen you for that duty.”