Friday, April 28, 2006

"Coona T'Chuta, Jan the Intergalactic Aviator?"

The creature had a gun pointed right at her.

"Yes, Greedio," Jan answered. "As a matter of fact, I was just going to see your boss. Tell Jaba that I've got his money."

"It's too late," Greedio chattered in reply. "You should have paid him when you had the chance. Jaba's put a price on your head, so large that every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be looking for you. I'm lucky I found you first."

"Yeah, but this time I got the money."

"Jaba's through with you," the bounty hunter countered. "He has no time for smugglers who drop their shipments of precious velvet paintings at the first sign of a Royal Navy cruiser."

"Even I get boarded sometimes. Do you think I had a choice?"

"You can tell that to Jaba. He may only take your ship."

"Over my dead body," Jan replied coldly.

"That's the idea," Greedio sneered. "I've been looking forward to killing you for a long time."

"I'll bet you have." more quickly that Greedio could react, Jan punched him in the jaw, then flipped him over her shoulder. The would-be assassin crashed through a table unconscious.

Later witness reports of the incident varied. The first of the bar patrons to come forward claimed that Jan clearly punched Greedio too quickly for him to react and he never got a shot it. Later, a second group of witnesses stated that Greedio swung first, but so wildly off to the side that he would never have connected. Jan never flinched and coolly knocked him out with her attack. Still others claimed that the two combatants swung simultaneously at each other, with Greedio swinging just a wee bit sooner and missing when Jan dodged to the side, then counterattacked. Now, if you were to ask me, I would answer that obviously, Jan punched first. Clearly, her life was on the line and if she hadn't, she would be the one lying on the table unconscious -- or even dead. You could also possibly go by the thought that Jan punched first, to show what a rough-and-tumble rogue she really is, and perhaps in a character arc through this story, she will mature a bit and become more of a "good guy." In any case, having Greedio swing first waters down the story and the notion that Jan is an outlaw with a heart of gold.

Jan calmly dusted herself off, tossed some credits to the bartender and said "Sorry about the mess."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The search for a fast ship

Hudson's lieutenant quickly signed off on leave papers for him, asking if he needed more than just 3 days. Hudson shook his head and replied that he didn't want to stay away too long, as the platoon might not survive without him.

The lieutenant looked a little crestfallen that Hudson was only taking a few days. He did, however, manage a smile while watching Hudson walk out the door.

With that little bit of business out of the way, we went to the spaceport to find a fast ship.

"Well there it is, Mos Spacely," said Hudson. "You'll not find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

I had no problems up until now, but once we got here I could feel another attack coming on. I think my brain was starting to comprehend the intrusion and had begun to fight it. Despite this, these attacks were still getting the best of me.

"Aw, but I wanna go to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters," I whined. I didn't want to whine. I didn't even want power converters.

"Now Jon," Hudson placed his hand on my shoulder patriarchally. "You can goof around with your friends later."

Is patriarchally even a word?

So we make our way through the spaceport and into the Mos Spacely Cantina. Colorful characters, bizarre aliens, and gruff space crews filled the bar. A band played a catchy tune in the corner and a brusque bartender was filling orders. Hudson leaned on the bar to ask him about pilots.

Meanwhile, I felt years fly past me. Wizened by the mental attack, I understood with even more clarity the importance of our mission. Standing back, I also saw two of the bar patrons heading towards Hudson -- trouble was most definitely their intent.

One of the pair grabbed Hudson by the shoulder and howled. The second told him "My friend here smells a Colonial Marine. My friend here doesn't like you."

"Uh, OK," responded Hudson.

"I don't like you either!" the man glared. This whole exchange seemed eirily familiar.

"I'll be careful," I thought I heard Hudson reply. I have to give him credit, he's trying real hard to keep a low profile.

"You'll be dead!" the man warned.

"He's not worth your trouble," I tried to soothe the situation using my many years of experience. "Let me buy you a drink, ya dang whippersnappers. Ugh, I can't believe I said 'whippersnapper.'"

Several things happened almost simultaneously: The two miscreants drew their weapons, patrons screamed and dove for cover, the bartender screamed "No blasters! No blasters!" and dove for cover, Hudson screamed and dove for cover, the band stopped playing, and I shot the two with a stun blast.

The music resumed and the people in the bar went back to their activities. I grabbed a sweaty Hudson by the shoulder and hauled him over to a table. That's where we saw a familiar face; at least it was familiar to me.

"Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator, what brings you here?"

"Jan the Intergalactic Aviator," I shook her hand. "I've come to hire you. We need a ship."

"The Pegasus Elite is always available for someone like you, Jon," she smiled. "Who's your friend?"

"Hudson, Jan, Jan, Hudson," I introduced them.

"Hey fly girl," Hudson leered. "What's a Pegasus Elite?"

"You've never heard of the Pegasus Elite?" Jan looked taken aback by Hudson’s comment.

"Should I have?" I don't know where Hudson was going with this.

"Hudson, it's her ship, you idjit," I smacked him on the back of the head. "We need you to fly us to Sector 7G."

"Sector 7G, one of the most perilous spans of space in the entire galaxy?" she looked surprised.

"That's the one," I replied. "Thank you for reminding everyone about the dangers of that area."

"No problem," she replied. "I'm at dock 19. I need to go prep my ship, so meet me there in 20 minutes."

"You got it, baby," Hudson smiled and waggled his eyebrows. I smacked him on the back of the head again.

Hudson and I exited the cantina. Jan attempted to leave, but someone was blocking her way, and that someone had a gun!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"Help me Private Hudson, you're my only hope"

I can't believe that I just said that. What a horrible, horrible... ah, I'm never going to live this down.

"Well well well," Hudson laughed. "Looks like big Mr. Fancypants needs my help."

"Hudson," I sighed. "Will you just--"

"Yep," Hudson continued. "Big Mr. Fancy Intergalactic Gladiator comes running to little ole me for help."

"Hudson," I tried again. "Could I just tell--"

"Yes sirrree," he interrupted again. "Looks like Mr. 'I-Work-Alone,-I-Don't-Need-Anyone's-Help' needs a little help after all. A little help from ole Dirty Dingus McGee." He drove his thumb into his chest for emphasis.

"Hudson, I just need--"

"Wellsy wellsy wellsy, looks like Captain Herohead has to find help from Humble Private Hudson after all."

"HUDSON!" I yelled at the top of my lungs.


"Do you want to help or not?"

"I don't know," he rubbed his chin 'thoughtfully.' "I am awfully busy here and I certainly couldn't afford to take leave because I am so busy."

"Hudson, you've probably never taken leave in your entire career in the Colonial Marines. You've got to have 8 years of leave saved up."

"Yeah, well, my lieutenant needs me here," said Hudson, holding his head high. "Every time I go to his office to see him, he sends me somewhere to take care of something very important."

"Hudson, do you want to go on an exciting adventure, full of mystery and danger or not?" I ask.

"OK," he answered. "I'll tell you what. If you can sing the Colonial Marines Hymm, I'll go with you."

"I am not going to sing that," I sighed.

"If you want me to come, you will," he asserted.

"I said I'm not."

"Oh yes you are."

"Oh no I'm not."

"Oh yes, you are."

"Oh no I'm not."

"Oh yes you are."

"Oh no I'm not."

"Oh yes you are."

"Oh no I are."

"Oh yes you're not."

"Oh no you aren't."

"Oh yes I am."

"Oh no you you're not."

"Oh yes I am."

"Oh no you you're not."

"Oh yes I am!" Hudson yelled. "I told you that I am going to sing it, and that's final!"

"OK, OK," I held up my hands. "Just do it, then."

Hudson stood at rigid attention, his eyes got just a little bit glossy and he opened his mouth to sing:

"From the halls of Metaluna
To the shores of Tirol III
We will fight our galaxy's battles
On the land, space, and/or sea
First to fight for right and freedom
And for honor of the Queen;
We are proud to fight and die
We're the United Space Marines."

"There," I said. "That sounded nice. Was that so tough?"

"OK, enough talk," Hudson answered. "Time for action. Where are we heading?"

"First, we need to get a pilot," I answered. "With whatever is affecting me, I can't trust myself to fly safely."

"Get a pilot, check," Hudson hopped up and down, ready to go. "Then where?"

"Then, it's Sector 7G."

"Do you mean Sector 7G, one of the most dangerous, inhospitable sectors of the galaxy?"

"Yes," I answered. "Thank you for clearing up that plot point."

"Oh man..."

Monday, April 24, 2006

The plot thickener thickens...

I can feel something or these somethings happening to me. I am not sure how this is happening, but I've figured that someone is doing this to me.

The latest was when I "came to" in the Danger Sled and there was crayon all over the walls. I was the only one onboard and the craft was in hyperspace, so I was the only one capable of doing the scribbling. Even more disturbing is the thought that whatever weapon (it must be a weapon) is being used on me, it can reach me even in hyperspace.

Fortunately, my ship's sensors recorded the attack and I was able to determine where it originated from. Sector 7G, a mostly desolate system containing no planets that can sustain intelligent life. I have to narrow it down, so I've set my sensors to record the attacks when they happen.

I'm also going to need some help. Unfortunately, the one person I know that I can turn to is Private Hudson. Ah well, I've been in worse scrapes, I'll just have to deal with it. Maybe he'll provide some comic relief.

One more thing, my daughter got to meet Wonder Woman this weekend, which was very exciting for everyone involved. The Amazing Amazon even made her a Junior Amazonian Princess.

I do wish that the photo was better, my wife said that I was muttering "Dern new-fangled camera" when I was trying to take the picture.

Friday, April 21, 2006

-- Meanwhile --

Dr. Chronobob sat in his chair, gazing intently at his equipment. "We are successful with the experiment, Lord. The Galvanizing Neural Age Transducer rearranged the subject's brainwaves to make him believe that he was not his true age!"

"Very good," said a dark figure towering over him. "All three settings?"

"Yes, my Lord," Dr. Chronobob affirmed. "Little boy, sullen teen, and angry old man. Unfortunately, it appears that the affects only last around 20 minutes."

"All the same, Doctor," the dark figure rumbled, almost mechanically. "When the Intergalactic Gladiator finds the source of our experiments -- and he will -- he will come to us."

"You're hoping that he will come to us, Lord?"

"I am counting on it, Doctor," the evil Lord replied. He then raised an armored fist. "That's how I am going to totally kill him."

"Ah, I see," said Dr. Chronobob. The evil doctor allowed himself to shrug, just a little. He was a scientist, he didn't understand, nor cared to understand, his dark master's wishes.

"Prepare to hit him with the device again, doctor," the cloaked figure continued. "We will continue to do this until he figures out how to trace it back to this battle station."

"Yes, my Lord," Dr. Chronobob smiled and threw a switch.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Intergalactic Gladiating Bites

"Ladies and Gentlemen!" the announcer bellowed above the roaring crowd. "Tonight's main event! In this corner, the Automation of Devistation -- Robo-T!"

The crowd roared even louder, Robo-T flexed his pneumatic muscles.

"And in this corner!" the announcer continuer. "The man who rides the hurricane in the fast lane -- Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator!"

The crowd's cheers amp up even more. Despite the excitement, I feel a buzzing in my head. Man, this place blows.

"I will destroy you, fool!" glowers Robo-T.

"Man, get away from me, freak!" I step away from him and head towards the exit. The crowd begins booing and Robo-T is declared the winner by disqualification.

J'onn Sinew Nu runs up to me. "What do you think you're doing?" he demands. "Your little stunt is going to cost the IGE a lot of revenue!"

"Stuff it, old man," I shoulder past him. "Why don't you head to your comfy office and get back to thinking up ways to try to make the gladiators look stupid. I'm not playing by your rules anymore. In fact, I'm out of here."

"What? You can't do that, you're under contract!"

"You can take that contract and stick it, Sinooze-You-Lose," I said back to him. "I'm heading to my ship to play Halo."

"If you don't get back here this instant," Sinew Nu blustered. "You can consider yourself permanently suspended!"

"You're not the boss of me," I snapped back at him. "Jeez, you're just like my old man! I don't need you, I don't need anybody!"

"Why! Why! Why!" Sinew Nu was at a loss for words.

"Ha ha, if you're face was any redder, I could take it home and use it as a stop sign, although stop signs usually aren't square."

"Look," he tried to reason, but I wasn't gonna listen. Stupid adults always talking. "I'll let you go take a break. You know, ah-a vacation or something. We'll write it into the storyline or something, but you're too valuable of an asset to let us lose you."

"Blah blah blah," I mimicked. "You're just like everybody else. You don't care about me, you just care about makin' money. Forget it, I'm goin' cruising down at the DQ. Later, jerkstore."

"Jon..." Sinew Nu's mouth hung open. He didn't know what to say, but then he composed himself. "I told you, if you don't come back, you're suspended. I'm serious!"

I headed for the door, then I turned back and flipped him the bird from both hands. Ha ha, that'll show him. I also gave him my best punk rock sneer ever. It was a sneer that would make Johnny Lydon proud, if he weren't a lame old man, too.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Those darn kids these days

I tell you, I can't stand these damn punk kids these days.

Take the noisy punk kids in my neighborhood, for example. All the time, I hear them outside yelling and running around all crazy. It's enough to give a man like me the fits.

There I was, just minding my own business and watching the Showcase Showdown. Sometimes, it seems that only Bob Barker understands me. So there I was, watching my show when I hear those kids outside again. They were riding up and down the street on their bikes and turning around in my yard.

So I got off the davenport, went out on my front porch, and shook my fist at them.

"Damn you, you little brat kids!" I yelled. "Stay off'n my lawn, I'm trying to watch my stories!"

The kids just laughed and rode up and down the street past me.

So I had an idea.

I went back inside and when I heard them again, I went out the back door and got the garden hose. When those rotten loudmouths rode past again, I turned the hose on 'em, but good.

"Take that, you little snot-nosed punks!" I yelled.

They stopped laughing at that, but then I had to go in and take my ulcer medication.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Uh oh

My name is Jonathan Edward Jones, 'cept my last name really isn't Jones and I don't like the name Edward, so I like people to call me Jonny E. and that's all.

I was just standing there in the dining room and my head felt kind of tingly. I looked at my arms and they looked so long. I looked at my legs and they were so long, too. I then felt my face and it was all itchy, so I looked in the mirror and saw that I had whiskers! I looked all growed up!

I looked all growed up, but I didn't feel all growed up.

On my arm was some kind of thingy. It had stuff all over it, like a sharp point and a bunch of buttons. I didn't know what it was for, though, so I started pushing buttons.

That's when a little accident happened.

Something flew out of the thing and stuck into the couch in the living room. It had a long wire string on it and I thought uh oh right then and there.

If someone sees that I poked a hole in the couch I might get in lots of trouble, so I went up to look at the hole and I thought that maybe I could move the cushions so no one could see the hole and so I moved the cushion and guess what I saw! Three Cheetos and a cherry Lifesaver, that's what!

They were delicious.

The couch didn't look good with the cushion pushed up like that, so I put them back and moved a pillow in front of it so then you-know-who couldn't see it, but then I remembered that you shouldn't lie because then you get into bigger trouble. I saw that on Sesame Street.

I saw it on NYPD Blue, too.

So I guess that I'm gonna have to tell the truth, I hope that I don't get into trouble. I sniffed a little, 'cuz I don't wanna get in trouble, but my eyes didn't get wet or anything. I hope that I don't get in lots of trouble, 'cuz today we're having pasketi and meatballs and I really like pasketi and meatballs.

I was standing there sniffing and looking at the wire string going from my arm to the couch and I was really, really worried but then my head started getting all tingly again.

I shook my head clear and I looked at my Wristcomm. Somehow, I fired the harpoon into the couch and the cable was still running from the hole to my wrist.

How did that happen?

Monday, April 17, 2006

One of the best Easters ever!

Yesterday was a great Easter, you want to know why? 'Cuz I got some awesome chocolate Easter eggs, that's why!

Then we went to Kathy's (my mother-in-law) house for Easter dinner. Kathy is really nice, she's always letting me have candy and cookies when I go over there. I think Lucille would be a better name for her because it reminds me of seals, and seals are my most favorite animals at the zoo. I saw them once and they were swimming aound all over the place and eating fish! It was cool ('Cept I don't think that I'd want raw fish. Yuck-o!).

So we get to Kathy's house and we're going to have my most favorite food of all and you know what it's called? It's called GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE, that's what.

I never got green bean casserole when I was a little boy, my mom always made ewey stewie tomatoes or stinky smelly cabbage for dinner. P.U.

So we get to have green bean casserole for Easter dinner and it's my favorite 'cuz it's got these crunchy onions on top that I think are great to eat. And after dinner, you know what I got to eat? It's called dessert, that's what! I got to eat a brownie and more chocolate eggs and even jelly beans! Jelly beans are way better than regular beans 'cuz they taste sooooo good!

Wait a minute! I had beans and beans! That's so funny.

So yesterday was one of the funnest days ever 'cuz I got to eat chocolate and stuff, that's why. I think I'll be back tomorrow talking about something else maybe.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Membership to the League of Planets

Citizens of Earth, it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that I must decline you entry into the League of Planets at this time. Even though few of you actually knew that you were a prospect, We did indeed review your entry. And although you are being declined at this time, I do feel compelled to explain My reasons for passing on your planet.

The first, and most obvious, reason is that you are hardly a space-faring race. Yes, you have launched rockets and reached out to your solar system. Earth beings, however, have yet to discover the warp drive or hyperspace. Though your efforts into space are indeed commendable, your race just isn't quite ready. Keep putting those commsats in orbit, though, your time will come.

The second reason is your leaders' unaltruistic actions towards their constituents. Many of your leaders misuse your people's tax money frivolously on what you call pork-barrel projects. Worse yet, your leaders often engage in war over your planet's natural resources. Believe Me, if you were to visit the oil-covered surface of Petroleux IX, you would understand that there is plenty to go around. I do understand that conflict is one of the basic tenets of life, but the League of Planets strives to avoid wars at all costs. Unless it's against My evil twin brother, of course.

The third reason is your heavy play of James Blunt's You're Beautiful on terrestrial and satellite radio. It is a complete mystery to Me why anyone would enjoy the pedestrian lyrics or the high-pitched screeching in that song. It is also probably not well known to you, but his voice was responsible for causing the Shrieking Ughbats of Valnor Prime to retreat back into hibernation four years prematurely. And Blunt's eyes! It's so disconcerting the way he looks into the camera when he sings, the poor camera operators unquestionably must cover their eyes to avoid his abhorrent gaze. And yet you people make comments about My eyes!

Please understand, Earthers, that your race has great potential and you shall join your brethren in space within the next few thousand years (if you don't destroy yourselves first). When that time comes, We will be waiting to greet you.

Thank you and good evening.

Big Brother: Naboo

Yeah, I suppose the cat's out of the bag. I did not win Big Brother: Naboo.

I did, however, leave a small parting gift on my way out. Did anyone see it?

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bedtime Song by Private Hudson

When I was a little boy, daddy used to sing this to me at bedtime. It was a wonderful song that put me right to sleep almost all the time. Sometimes I miss those days just a little and sometimes, when I am a little nervous or uneasy, I sing this song and it makes me feel a little better. Sometimes.

Roland was a warrior from the Land of the Midnight Sun
With a Thompson gun for hire, fighting to be done
The deal was made in Denmark on a dark and stormy day
So he set out for Biafra to join the bloody fray

Through sixty-six and seven they fought the Congo war
Fingers on their triggers, knee-deep in gore
For days and nights they battled the Bantu to their knees
They killed to earn their living and to help out the Congolese

Roland the Thompson gunner...

His comrades fought beside him - Van Owen and the rest
But of all the Thompson gunners Roland was the best
So the CIA decided they wanted Roland dead
That son-of-a-bitch Van Owen blew off Roland's head

Roland the headless Thompson gunner
(Time, time, time
For another peaceful war)
Norway's bravest son
(But time stands still for Roland
'Til he evens up the score)
They can still see his headless body stalking through the night
In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun
In the muzzle flash of Roland's Thompson gun

Roland searched the continent for the man who'd done him in
He found him in Mombassa in a barroom drinking gin
Roland aimed his Thompson gun - he didn't say a word
But he blew Van Owen's body from there to Johannesburg

Roland the headless Thompson gunner...

The eternal Thompson gunner, still wandering through the night
Now it's ten years later but he still keeps up the fight
In Ireland, in Lebanon, in Palestine and Berkeley
Patty Hearst heard the burst of Roland's Thompson gun
And bought it

"Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" 1978 Warren Zevon.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Murder on the Orion Express, the Final Finale

"Ladies and gentlemen, the murderer is..."

The Von Ryan family leaned forward with nervous anxiety, Frondal Niptu leaned forward with his ears perked, Jeeves Jarvis Pennyworth leaned forward with a sniff, Jan leaned forward, sucking in her breath, and Gollux of Gollus leaned forward with intent. The air itself crackled with the energy of anticipation.

"The murderer of Lucky Pierre is," I said cooly. "Lucky Pierre."

"What?" cried Frondal incredulously.

"Really, I daresay," scoffed Jeeves.

Jan's brow furrowed, the Von Ryans looked around at each other and shrugged, Gollux sniffed.

"Or should I say," I continued. "Lucky Pierre, dressed as Gollux of Gollus, killed his clone."

"What?" growled Gollus. "Impossible."

"Oh dreadful!" Jeeves clutched his chest.

"If you'll allow me to continue," I started to check off the goods on Pierre. "Lucky Pierre was currently in debt, as evidenced by Jeeves here."

"Indeed," stated Jeeves with an air of properness.

"Lucky Pierre also just mysteriously found his long-lost brother," I intoned. "And was amazingly on his way to reunite with him. Additionally, everyone knows that when an artist dies, the value of his work skyrockets. And who reaps the monetary benefits? The long-lost 'brother,' his only family, of course."

"Bah!" snorted Gollux. "Earthman, your senseless gibbering annoys us all!"

"On top of that," I added. "Not much is known about Golluns, so naturally it would be easy to pose as one and not many others would notice the facade. But why, I ask, would a xenophobe beg someone like me to save him if his life is in danger?"

"I've, er, seen your gladiator battles," stammered Gollux. "I just wanted to differ to your combat abilities."

"And," I held up my finger. "Lucky Pierre and Gollux were the only two passengers to call me 'Earthman.'"

"Coincidence?" Gollux said hopefully.

"Perhaps that could slide," I conceded. "But the final piece of evidence cannot. On our jump and during the event, I saw Jan and Frondal affected by the anomaly personally. Jeeves was affected by a similar, smaller scale, simulation from my sonic stunner. The Von Ryans were also overwhelmed by my sonic blast, but there was one who didn't seem to notice when I used the simulation on him -- Gollux."

"Hah," Gollux retorted. "Your sonic weapon does not affect my kind. Nice try, Earthman, but you are clearly wrong there."

"Not quite. It didn't affect you because you are wearing environmentally protective Bioarmor."

I reached to a pressure point on Gollux and activated a hidden release. The suit began to peel away, revealing the obnoxious artist within it.

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"Now the fact that you killed a clone of yourself isn't that bad," I said with half a grin. "In fact, I'm sure the courts would be quite happy that you are responsible for keeping two of you from running around loose. The ship's crew phased into the wall, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter."

Pierre leapt up, brandishing a pistol from a hidden pocket. "very clever of you, you unevolved cretin. I'm afraid, however, that when this ship exits hyperspace, I'll just be on my way, then. You see, this pistol fires the same molecular acid-filled projectiles that the probe did. I am going to be the only person walking out of here alive, if neccesery."

"You're forgetting one thing, though, Pierre," I said.

"Oh, and what's that?" he sneered.

"You're not wearing the Bioarmor." With a sonic blast, Pierre crumpled to the ground. I shot him twice more just to be sure.

"Unbelievable," Jan shook her head in amazement.

"Rather," agreed Jeeves. "You sir, are a master detective, indeed."

"Yeah, you may be right," I said. "I'm kind of like Matt Houston, Sherlock Holmes, and Jaques Clouseau all rolled into one."

"Who, who, and who?" asked Jan.

"Forget it," I said as the ship decanted out of hyperspace, entering the Orion system.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Murder on the Orion Express, Murder Most Foul

"OK everybody, gather around," I called out so the passengers.

Frondal Niptu, the Von Ryans, Jeeves, and Gollux all huddled close to each other. I stood in front of them with Jan the Intergalactic Aviator by my side.

"Do you know who the murderer is?" asked Frondal.

"Then do tell!" said the Von Ryan father. His children all leaned in closer.

"First, let me go over my findings," I said. "Starting with Frondal. Frondal Niptu is a businessman on his way to Orion for a very important deal that could make or break his career."

"That's right," he smiled smuggly. "I would never kill a man like that! I am too important."

"Also, this is Jeeves Jarvis Pennyworth," I indicated to the butler. "Up until the murder, he was Lucky Pierre's butler and road manager."

"Dreadful business, really," Jeeves sniffed.

"Pierre treated him poorly," I continued. "But poorly enough for murder? Unfortunately, there is a motive here."

"I would never!" Jeeves gasped with his hand on his chest.

"Moving along," I said. We have the singing Von Ryan family. The Von Ryan's hummed and shook their hands. "They are indeed scheduled to perform at the Orion by Orionwest Music Festival, though I can't see them entertaining many people."

"There are a lot of acts booked," a Von Ryan said gleefully. The others around him backed him up with "Yeahs!" and "You bets!"

"Also with us here today is Gollux of Gollus," I swept my hand to the alien. "Golluns are a race who, as a whole, generally keep to themselves. I couldn't see Gollux having any motive to do something like this."

"That's right, Earthman," Gollux said. "Thank you."

"And there is, of course, Jan and myself," I said. "Jan has been kind enough to help me in the cockpit as well as research the passenger's manifest. Very interesting how you found that information, isn't it?"

"It was all on the InterN.E.T," Jan replied cooly.

"Right," I said. "I do however know that there is a person here who had both motive and opportunity."

Everyone looked at me, eagerly anticipating my declaration.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the murderer is---"

Who is the murderer?
Frondal Niptu
Jeeves Jarvis Pennyworth
the singing Von Ryan family
Gollux of Gollus
Jan the Intergalactic Aviator
Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator
Free polls from

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Murder on the Orion Express, the plot thickens

Thirty-five minutes. Armed with the information from Jan's search, I headed back towards the cabin.

"Look out!" I heard a scream. I looked up and saw another probe. The murderer must be mad, activating that thing in here. It flew straight for me and an armature slid out from either side of it.

"Oh oh," I thought out loud. That thing seems a little more heavily armed than your average Hyperspace Probe. I dove out of the way just as it fired some sort of dart at me.

The dart struck the wall occupying the space just behind my head. The molecular acid contained within the projectile darkened the wall where it stuck.

The probe switched tactics and started firing a wider angle stun blast at me. Again, I dove out of the way, but the beam grazed my foot. My foot started to tingle and I couldn't put weight on it.

"That thing just started flying around the cabin!" Frondal Niptu called out from behind a seat. "It's been swooping around all of us, get it out of here!"

"Help us, Earthman!" called Gollux of Gollus. "That thing will kill us all!"

The probe strafed past me again, I rolled under a chair to avoid its attack. Von Ryans dove left and right as it arced around past them. It was definitely gunning for me. Guess I'm just a little too close for my own good.

The probe swooped by me again, I scrunched up to avoid the energy attacks. A different noise filled my ears, it was a blaster of some sort. I looked up and saw smoke and sparks popping out of its left armature. Jan was against the door to the cockpit, a blaster in her hands.

I fired the cable launcher from my Wristcomm. The harpoon tip pierced the droid's shell and I spun it around by the cable, slamming it into the bulkhead. The droid started beeping in distress until Jan silenced it with several more blasts.

"I certainly don't want to get probed like that again," I said.

"Luckily I was able to open the weapons locker," Jan rested the butt of the rifle on her hip.

"And I've got all the information that I need. Let's go get that murderer."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Murder on the Orion Express, the chapter after the previous

Two suspects left. This passenger who looks like a pile of rags and hasn't moved since I have been on board the ship and Jan. I doubted that Jan was guilty, but I have tasked myself with finding who that killer is and therefore I must question Jan as well. Call it duty or whatever, but it must be done. Oh yes, and time is running out.

Jan is still in the cockpit and is researching the passengers and so I made my way to the creature. "Mind if I ask you a few questions?"

The rags shifted and moved. A head appeared, then shoulders, arms, and hands took shape.

"What do you want, Earthman?" it asked.

"As you must know," I stated. "Lucky Pierre was murdered when this ship jumped to hyperspace. I am currently investigating everyone on board to find who perpetrated this crime. It's your turn. It says here that you are Gollux?"

"Gollux of Gollus," it answered. "And why would I kill that artiste? I am merely traveling to Orion and wish to be left alone, Earthman."

"Of course," I acknowledged. "Though you must understand why I am doing this."

"Yes," it replied. "Such a tragedy. I suppose that because I was onboard that I am now a suspect."

"Well, everyone's a suspect," I replied flatly.

"Even you?" it asked.

"Well, I know that I didn't do it," I replied.

"Neither did Gollux of Gollus."

I got all the information from him that I needed at the time. I made my way back towards the cockpit, weaving around the Von Ryans, Jeeves, and Donald Chump. Now I'm going to have to talk to Jan.

"This is interesting," Jan said as I walked into the cockpit. "Look at this."

I read the screen that she had pulled up. Apparently, the unlucky Lucky Pierre found a long lost brother about six months ago after years of searching. Evidently, his masterpiece on Orion involved their reunion. Also according to this article, Pierre was heavily in debt and he was hoping to cash in big with his master work.

I tabbed to the next screen. Donald Chump (real name Frondal Niptu) was actually going to Orion to shepherd the merge of Astro Telecomm & Telephonics with Orionbell. The deal to combine these two commuations giants is indeed worth billions.

The Von Ryans are also listed on the Orion by Orionwest website. They are one of hundreds of musical acts heading there to perform.

Gollux of Gollus was a bit of a mystery himself. His race, though very intelligent and space-faring, generally sticks to themselves. Golluns are not a violent race, but they are fairly xenophobic, so not a lot is actually known about them.

"This helps a lot, thanks," I said to Jan. "So tell me, why are you heading to Orion?"

"My ship, the Pegasus Elite, is getting some work done," she answered. "I'm having some of the systems upgraded-- hey! Why are you asking me this?"

"I'm just asking," I answered. "You know I have to. Have you ever had any contact with Pierre before?"

"I have seen his work in shows before," she replied. "But I've never met him before in my life. So are you going to question yourself next?"

"I know that I didn't do it."

"And I know that I didn't," her pouty lips cracked into a smile.

"Well, I guess that leaves just them," I chuckled and waved out to the passenger's cabin. "How much longer until we exit hyperspace?"

"Forty minutes," she said after looking at the instruments.

"I'm a lot closer to finding the killer," I said grimly. "But it's going to be close."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Murder on the Orion Express, the next wave

Armed with a notepad and the passenger's manifest I was grilling the next suspect, Pierre's valet.

"Name?" I asked.

"Jeeves Jarvis Pennyworth," he answered drolly.

"And your relationship to the deceased?"

Jeeves rolled his eyes ever so slightly. "I was his valet, his butler, his road manager and his confidant."

"That's a lot of hats," I commented. "And Pierre treated you well for these services?"

"Hardly," he sighed. "He treated me poorly, he yelled at me, he often berated me."

"Why did you stay with him?"

"It is my duty to serve," he answered. "For generations, the Pennyworths have served Pierre's family. That is what we do. That and the money, he payed very well up until recently."

"And you never entertained thoughts of killing him?"

"And dishonor my family? Never."

"OK," I replied. "One last thing. Do you know what his great masterpiece on Orion was?"

"I don't know," Jeeves looked down. "He just said that it was going to be his greatest masterpiece and it would be performance art, but that's not his usual medium. I have no idea what he wanted to, ungh, my ears!"

Jeeves clasped his ears and doubled over.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I apologized. "My sonic disrupter seems to have been damaged when we jumped."

I started punching the buttons on my Wristcomm and managed to turn off the stunner. I had all the information from Jeeves that I could use, next is the vagabonds.

"Who are you guys?" I asked.

"We're the Singing Von Ryan Family!" the patriarch said gleefully. The rest of the family smiled and shook their fingers.

"Hmmmmmmmm," they hummed harmoniously.

"And did you see that there is a dead man up there?" I asked.

"We sure did!" smiled the mother.

"Hmmmmmmmmm," the family hummed again.

"What are you going to Orion for?"

"The Orion by Orionwest Music Festival!" exclaimed an older son. "We're performing there!"

The other children followed up with "Yeah!" and "Boy I'll say!" and "That's right!"

"OK, kids!" said the dad with a smile plastered on his face. "Let's show him what we've got!"

And they sang:

There's a sad sort of clanging
From the clock in the hall
And the bells in the steeple too,
And up in the nurs'ry an absurd little bird
Is popping out to say "coocoo".

Regretfully they tell us,
But firmly they compel us
To say goodby to you.

So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehn, good night,
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight.
So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehn, adieu,
Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu.

So long, farewell, Au'voir, auf wiedersehn,
I'd like to stay and taste my first champagne
So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehn, goodbye,
I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye,
Good bye

I'm glad to go,
I cannot tell a lie.
I flit, I float,
I fleetly flee, I fly.

The sun has gone to bed and so must I
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye,

I couldn't stand it. I had to stun the whole family.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Murder on the Orion Express, the next chapter

"I've almost got the door open." Jan the Intergalactic Aviator was huddled over the control panel to the door leading to the cockpit. The sonic screwdriver was whirring, manipulating the panel until at last the entryway slid open.

I moved my way towards her and the door. She had already stepped into the cockpit and I was right behind her. Her jaw dropped as she looked at the two empty chairs staring out into the rippling waves of hyperspace.

"Where are they?" she asked.

I looked around, then behind me. "There."

Jan looked and her jaw dropped at the horror. The jump into hyperspace had pushed the pilot and copilot back, phasing them into the back wall of the ship's control room.

"unbelievable," she gasped.

"What could cause this?" I asked.

"In all my years...." her voice trailed off. "Things like this don't just happen. There are too many safeguards."

"But what could cause this?" I asked again.

Jan's brow furrowed. "Let me think. There are Hyperspace Probes, basically a small pod of sensors strapped to a faster than light engine. They're used to track traffic in hyperspace routes, pinpoint disasters, military recon. Stuff like that."

"So one was near us when we made the jump?"

"No," she answered, sitting down at a station and looking at the terminal. "It would've had to have been activated onboard at the same time as our leap. The Orion Express' larger engines would have made short work of the probe, but before that happened, we'd get something like we just got."

"I see. But we were all affected by the anomaly."

"That's the thing," she said. "I don't know. Maybe a power suit or something. Nobody in the passenger's cabin was wearing anything like that, though."

"You're right. Do me a favor," I said. "Can you punch me up the passenger manifest? I'm going to have to interview all of those people. Starting with the suit."

"Sure," she answered. I walked out towards the businessman. He stopped taking pictures of the body and looked up at me.

"This is so disgusting," he sneered. "I can't believe you've got me doing this."

"You can stop," I said. "I need you to answer a few questions, though. First, what are you going to Orion for?"

"A deal," he answered. "One that is worth billions when I land it. What? Do you think I offed that chump?"

"I'm interviewing everyone onboard," I said. "Someone here did it."

"Tell me, why would I kill some jerk on a ship while on my way to make the biggest deal of my life? He's smalltime. Not worth it."

"You do have a point," I conceded. "I need just two more things from you; first, if you see anything unusual, tell me right away."

"Oh, you mean like the space gypsies, or the artist's valet, or that passenger that appears to be a giant pile of rags? Sure, I'll tell you right away," he said sarcastically. "What's the second?"

"Go into the cockpit and take pictures of the crew."