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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 20th day of Eating, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 96 > Continuing Series > The Reality of Dreams: Part Ten

The Reality of Dreams: Part Ten

by sabreur

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Prologue

Murphy's Law states "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." Scientists and engineers use this law to examine their ideas for potential flaws, thereby preparing themselves for potential failures. When the inevitable problems occur, they are ready to handle them. I also abide by this law, readying myself against potential disaster. But sometimes I overlook things.

End of Prologue

Location:  In Orbit, approaching Virtupets Space Station
Time:  1:50 pm NST

      After the adrenaline rush from takeoff had worn off, we experienced the joy of weightlessness. It's hard to describe, really -- sort of like flying and falling at the same time. Some people (like myself) love the sensation, and bitterly regret being confined to the chair restraints. Others (such as the unfortunate Lupe two seats in front of me) are just glad that there are barf bags available.

      Even the joy of zero-g wears thin after an hour of flight, however. I settled myself into my seat as comfortably as I could (blast those restraints!) and gazed out the window to watch the eternal night of space drift by. Unfortunately, this side of the craft was tilted away from the planet, so I was unable to watch the more interesting view of Neopia passing below us. Without realizing it, I drifted off to sleep.

      I was inside the space ship. Only something was wrong. People were yelling, screaming in panic. Feeling as substantial as a ghost, I drifted outside of the craft, and watched with the unconcerned eyes of a sleeper. The sleek metal hull of the ship sparkled in the light of a thousand stars. But the sleek metal was scratched.

      That's not right, I thought, that sort of thing would be repaired before they sent the ship into orbit. A piece of this ship twitched, and slid along the side of the ship, blocking a view port. Only it wasn't part of the ship. It was something - else. Something alive.

      I awoke with a start. People around me were yelling and screaming in panic. Odd noises from the ship let me know that something was seriously wrong. Infernus was looking at me, worried.

      "I had a nightmare," I said, hurriedly undoing the restraints that held me to the chair. Infernus' eyes widened in understanding, and he began unlacing his restraints as well. We floated out of our seats and pushed towards the cockpit, drifting past panicking passengers.

      "I saw it!" yelled an Aisha as a Grundo attendant tried to calm him. "It's out there! You've gotta believe me!" Infernus and I pushed our way into the cabin, brushing aside a protesting lady in an attendant's uniform.

      "I'm an engineer," I said, as the Grundo pilot turned in his chair. "What's the problem?" The pilot opened his mouth to explain when something scuttled across the glass of the cockpit. Its shape was impossible to distinguish against the blackness of space, but two eyes, white pinpricks against the darkness, glared in at us. It scratched at the glass, but the specially treated material didn't even scratch.

      "That's the problem!" the Grundo yelled, gesturing at the thing outside. It scuttled out of view, although we could hear it as it moved across the outer hull of the ship. "That thing has torn up the sensor array on top of the ship. We can't find the station without it, and if we can't get to the station we're done for."

      I muttered a few words under my breath that should not be repeated. I looked back towards the passenger cabin. "Infernus… let's get our bags. We're going to suit up."

      "Wait," the pilot spoke, confused. "You mean you have your own spacesuits?" I nodded.

      "We've been to the station several times before," Infernus explained. "We also have a kit full of tools that can work in space. We can fix the sensor array."

      "You're going out there? With that thing?" the pilot asked, looking at as if we had suggested playing Zurroball with the sun. A clang on the hull emphasized his point.

      "Not much choice, is there?" I replied.

Location:  The Airlock
Time:  1:59 pm NST

      "Okay," the pilot's voice spoke in my suit's radio, "the creature is on the other side of the ship. I'm opening the airlock now." I checked my indicators, displayed in a ghostly green heads-up display on the inside of my helmet. The external air pressure indicator dropped to almost zero, then the door in front of us slid noiselessly open.

      Infernus exited first, clinging carefully to a series of handholds built into the side of the ship. The white material of his suit billowed out slightly as he flexed his wings, which were covered in an array of metal plates and solar panels. I followed him, careful not to lose my grip on the side of the vessel.

      "The creature hasn't moved -- I don't think it knows you're out there," the pilot whispered nervously over the radio.

      "Can we get to that thing from here?" I whispered back, momentarily forgetting that sound couldn't travel in the vacuum of space.

      "No, there's no hand holds over there. You'd have to use the suit's jets, and I don't think that would be a good move. It would see you coming for sure."

      "Okay, then we'll just head to the sensor array. If it moves towards us, we should spot it before it gets to us."

      "Alright," the pilot replied. "We'll listen for it and let you know if we hear it move." I signaled to Infernus and we slid along the hull of the ship, moving towards the top. After about a minute, we arrived at a radar-like dish that had been partially pulled out of the ship. Claw marks scored its surface, and exposed wires had been shredded.

      "This would be the sensor array," I radioed to Infernus. "Let's fix it up so we can focus on nailing that creature." Infernus nodded and detached a screwdriver from a magnetic clasp on his belt. I reached down and pulled out a laser cutter, and together we began to work.

      "LOOK OUT! IT'S HEADED RIGHT FOR YOU!" the pilot's voice blared out. I turned, only to be struck head-on by something. I had a vague glimpse of a spidery, many legged creature clawing at my faceplate before Infernus lashed out with a fist and knocked it off of me. It swam through the vacuum of space as if it were water, landing on the ship and scuttling towards Infernus.

      "Grand Lightning Beam!" roared Infernus over the radio, extending his hands towards the creature. Nothing happened. The creature leaped for Infernus. I frantically thumbed on my radio.

      "Infernus! The vacuum of space! Electricity can't travel through it! You need direct contact! Direct contact!"

      If Infernus heard, he gave no sign as the creature tensed, then sprung forward. Infernus leaned forward, arms still extended. The creature landed on one arm, claws attempting to tear Infernus' suit and expose him to the cruel vacuum surrounding us.

      "Grand Lightning Beam!" Infernus yelled once again, touching both hands to either side of the spider-thing. There was a flash of light, momentarily blinding me. When my vision cleared, the creature was gone. Infernus had released his hold on the ship, and was drifting. As I watched he pressed a button on the wrist of his suit and a jet of compressed air shot from his backpack, propelling him to a safe handhold. He grabbed onto the ship, then turned towards me, reaching up a hand to turn on his radio.

      "Thanks for the advice. Looks like direct contact was all I needed."

      "What happened up there?" the pilot's exclaimed, unable to see what had occurred.

      "The creature's gone," I reported over the radio. "We're fixing the sensor array now."

Location:  Virtupets Space Station, Reconstruction Zone
Time:  4:12 pm NST

      The rest of the trip had ended without incident, and we had landed to a brief heroes' welcome. The pilot had tried to insist on taking Infernus and me out to eat, but we had declined. We had work to do. Besides, I felt a bit guilty. Although the attack was Nightmare's fault instead of mine, the fact remained that it wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been there. We left the Docking Bay and proceeded down the metal corridors towards the Reconstruction Zone.

      The Reconstruction Zone of the Virtupets Space Station isn't pretty. During the first Sloth War, the station was badly damaged. The Reconstruction Zone is a maze of twisted metal and debris that is slowly being put back into working order. It didn't take long to find what I needed. With Infernus' help, I had the component free in under an hour. I had already checked with the station authorities - the piece in question was of no value to the station, so no one minded us cutting it free and taking it back with us. Shortly we were on a ship heading back to Neopia (with me drinking two sealed tubes of Neocola to keep from falling asleep on the flight again).

      Carefully stowed in my bag was a lump of titanium, one of the lightest, toughest metals around. The fire sword Kiddo had given me was about to get an upgrade.

:::::::::  END OF FILE:  INCIDENT10.TXT  :::::::::

To be continued...

Previous Episodes

The Reality of Dreams: Part One

The Reality of Dreams: Part Two

The Reality of Dreams: Part Three

The Reality of Dreams: Part Four

The Reality of Dreams: Part Five

The Reality of Dreams: Part Six

The Reality of Dreams: Part Seven

The Reality of Dreams: Part Eight

The Reality of Dreams: Part Nine

The Reality of Dreams: Part Eleven

The Reality of Dreams: Part Twelve

The Reality of Dreams: Part Thirteen

The Reality of Dreams: Part Fourteen

The Reality of Dreams: Part Fifteen

The Reality of Dreams: Part Sixteen

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