The Ark According To Captain Blood CHAPTER 6 (Mastochok) Honk spent a long time experimenting on the mother OORXX's genes. Sometimes the eggs were too big, sometimes too long. Huge babies were born that had to be ejected from the Ark immediately. The long babies had to be reeled onto special spools which were difficult to stock. Blood wasn't satisfied. He was too well aware of time passing, and with it his chances of survival. It was becoming more and more urgent to catch some NUMBERS so he could recuperate the vital fluid he so desperately needed. One night... "Captain, Captain, I've got it! It works!", yelled Honk, "We can start testing." "At last!", exclaimed Blood, rubbing his original hands together. They were now covered in scales and the sound produced was like two crocodiles having sex in a packet of cornflakes. "Hyperspace. Target galaxy: Xunk 07. That's where I'd go", he added, confidently, "If I were them." "But Captain, you ARE them!", cried the bio-consciousness. "Eh? Sure. You're right. Let's go anyway." Ark thundered. Several moments later, it fused into hyperspace. Blood admired the pretty time-space twirls on the 3D screen, their mathematical convolutions hovering at the brink of human understanding, hurling the mind into a vortex sublimated by the theoretical vacuum thus evoked and whose description is but a pale reflection in the rank and brackish water of a foul and bottomless swamp from which no escape may be envisaged... Then, quite majestically, appeared a round and greenish ball in the infinite blue light. "Mastochok", murmured Blood, "Planet of the CROOLIS!" He seemed ecstatic before the magnificent sight that was the planet Mastochok. "That's where they are", he declared, with the utter certainty of one who knows. He breathed raspingly to the accompaniment of hisses from his pneumatic lungs. He twiddled some very nice knobs on the control panel, selecting the Landing option. The baby OORXX slid into the lubrified ejection tube. "EJECT!", he cried, his eyes popping with emotion. The OORXX shot from the tube with a sound like a bottle being uncorked. "Ejected!", replied Honk, "I'm switching on the video circuits. From now on, the OORXX is you. Go easy on the stick." The OORXX came up on the 3D screen. The tormented surface of Mastochok was approaching fast. Too fast! "For pity's sake, pull back the stick. You're going to crash!", screamed Honk. Blood pulled back on the stick. Lots of pointy mountains appeared. The OORXX was skimming over them. "Down, down, gently. There!" Honk was clearly troubled by the Captain's lack of experience. "Careful! Aaah!" A shuddering thump indicated that the OORXX had flown into a mountain top. The baby spacefish squealed in pain, bounced, then came to a halt nose to nose with the mountain. "YOU'RE GOING TO KILL THE THING!", roared the bio-consciousness, trembling with rage. "Okay, okay, calm down. Anyone can make a mistake. Anyway, the OORXX isn't damaged. Look, everything works fine." Blood handled the stick carefully, and the image began to move again. The OORXX once more travelled through the wild if strangely wonderful terrain. Suddenly, Blood saw the entrance to a gigantic canyon, and flew in. "The canyon of the CROOLIS", he murmured. The OORXX slid through the air with incredible agility, responding instantly to the slightest move of Blood's hand. The steep canyon walls sped by in a sound of gliders. Blood was in total control of the OORXX. And that's the mark of a true hero, whose speed of adaptation leaves common mortals far behind. And true heroes are immortal, as Blood felt himself to be. They landed at the end of the canyon, as majestically as a bird of prey. Blood knew the CROOLIS were watching. A CROOLIS appeared onscreen. "UPCOM on, Honk", ordered Blood. Honk activated the UPCOM. "VAREUX OR ULVES?", asked the CROOLIS, sternly. "Vareux or Ulves?", repeated Blood, somewhat at a loss. "Uh", stammered the bio-consciousness, "better not answer that one. Vareux CROOLIS and Ulves CROOLIS are hereditary enemies." "I MAN", typed Blood, "I SEARCH NUMBERS, YOU KNOW?" "(LAUGH) I KNOW, BUT YOU TAKE ME TO PLANET ASCODA, THEN I TELL." "Ascoda, that's real bad, Captain. That's where the most dangerous MIGRAX on the universe hang out." "OKAY", typed Blood, "WE TELEPORT YOU." He pressed a button on the left side of the control panel. The Croolis vapourised on the 3D screen and rematerialised in the FRIDGITORIUM. It took on a blue colouring and looked fairly dead. "You're not going to accept, are you?", asked the bio-consciousness, horrified by his master's suicidal streak. "Yes", replied Blood, shortly, "I've got an idea. How do we get the OORXX back into Ark?" "Ah, well. That's something I haven't given much thought to. You see, they resist badly to landing. As a matter of fact, they self destruct", admitted Honk, ruefully. Blood said nothing. Loudly. "Hyperspace", he murmured. The plop of a new OORXX entering the ejection tube was heard. "Hyperspace on", replied Honk. Ark shot forward... Ark rematerialised beside a pockmarked asteroid called OX1 45A (300). Blood ejected the new OORXX, who landed gently on OX1 45A (300). Then he activated the inverse teleport process. The Croolis disappeared from the Fridgitorium and found itself on an ugly, pockmarked asteroid. Blood watched on the 3D screen. The UPCOM was working: "PLANET NOT BE ASCODA (SWEAR)", swore the Croolis. "Wow! That guy's been zapped!", chortled Blood. "Yeah!", sniggered the bio-consciousness. "Okay, let's see if he'll tell us where the NUMBERS are", said Blood. He typed on the UPCOM keyboard: "WHERE BE NUMBERS? ANSWER CROOLIS!" "(SWEAR!) (SWEAR!) YOU BRING BACK ME THEN?", asked the Croolis. "YES", keyed in Blood. "PLANET ZULU COORDINATES 124/674", admitted the Croolis, grudgingly. "THANKS BYE", answered the Captain, on the UPCOM, "And now let's get to Zulu. Hyperspace, Mr. Honk!" "Hyperspace, sure thing, Captain." Honk was relieved. Ark tore off. On asteroid OX1 45A (300), the Croolis was babbling insane diatribes: "I'll get that son of a Vareux, by the glabration of my Croolas..."