Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 117,249,079 Issue: 235 | 14th day of Eating, Y8
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A Mad Flight Through Space

by weaponstar


Virtupets Orbital Space Station #4 -

"Ready?" The flight commander's voice sounded a tad tinny coming through the communicator.

     Starmilit glanced sideways at her pet Mynci, Bananamenace. His blue hands hovered over the fire button. The neopet nodded eagerly.

     Starmilit pressed down on a small lever beside the speaker. "Ready and awaiting the fireworks," she said, and the lever flicked back up as she let go.

     "Go for it," said the flight commander. Starmilit flicked a few switches, the engines engaged, and a stream of spotlights popped into existence ahead of them, marking the flight path. She gave a thumps-up to the Control Box and, with a series of loud clanging noises, the space gate's two slices of metre-thick steel rose and fell correspondingly. A wedge of space appeared in the gap, rapidly widening until the gates were fully open. A big block of star strung blackness waited beyond the space station. More than waited… it beckoned.

     Bananamenace took his hands away from the fire button just long enough to slap a line of switches down. Dials lit up, panels flashed then settled into glowing dully, and a greenish hologram bounced up, seemingly on the view-screen. Words trailed across it… navigator, ammunition, flight control connection, crash support, food…

     Starmilit gave the screen a cursory glance - "Check, check, we're ready for take off," - then revved the engine. The screen disappeared, reuniting her hungry eyes with the eternity of space. Star gently pushed down on the accelerator. The aircraft crawled forward, advancing toward that sparkly-black vastness. It picked up speed, and she turned on the repulsors. The ship jerked as its feet momentarily left the ground, then fell back the risen metre and skittered sideways.

     "Oops," muttered Starmilit, steering the ship back onto the runway and ignoring the exasperated gestures from the Control Box. "Okay, off we go." They pulled away along the airstrip, managing this time to stay on course as the repulsors once again jerked the ship when they came online.

     As the ship sped toward space, gaining momentum drastically, Bananamenace again relinquished protection of the whopper button and pointed at one of the lit up dials. At the same time, the radio crackled to life and someone yelled: "Cut the speed!" The speed dial twirled back down as Starmilit reflexively took all pressure off the pedal. The ship… sped on. The Blue Mynci dived under the control panel and landed heavily on one of the brakes. The ship's forward end came to a tire-burning halt, but the back end continued moving; the ship twirled round on its feet, the nose the middle of the circle.

     "Double oops!" Starmilit aimed her foot for the other brake, but the neopet accidentally got in the way as he tried to get to it himself, and, by all bad luck, Star's foot landed on the accelerator. The back wheels burst into life, screamed for a moment at the completion of their circle, and then hurled themselves upwards. The ship flipped over, but Starmilit engaged the shield, and so instead of landing on its back and crushing the cockpit into a lump of metal and glass, the craft bounced through another flip, slid the last few metres along the runway and plummeted out into space.

     Bananamenace darted off the front carriage brake and scrambled under Starmilit's seat. The ship fell back towards gravity and landed, miraculously the correct way up, on the exterior of the space station, where it began to roll along.

     Starmilit cut the repulsors and the shield, and then slowed the engines, gradually bringing the ship to a stop.

     The Mynci peeped out from his hiding place a good minute after the spacecraft had come to a halt. Starmilit was squinting at a strange coloured blob in the distance; it seemed to be moving speedily along the outside of the space station toward them. An unfocused crackling was being emitted from the communicator.

     "Probably use that to teach newbies how not to take off," said Starmilit. "What is that thing, do you think, Banana?"

     Bananamenace narrowed his eyes at the approaching blob. Lights flared around it and the colour seemed to move away for a moment, separating into lots of small specks, which then dived back in again. "I think…" But his owner never found out what Bananamenace thought, for at that moment the whole craft shuddered violently and orange warning lights began flashing within the cockpit.

     "What is THAT?!" yelled Starmilit, referring to the blue and furry thing that had just hurled itself at the front view screen. She slammed the craft into reverse and Bananamenace jumped into his seat and delivered a nasty blow to the fire button. A beam of light stabbed out and blew the Fuzzle into non-existence.

     "Hey, I know what that…" began Starmilit, but her brain jumped off the talking track onto the panicked track as several more furry shapes homed in on the ship. "Aaaaagh!" she screamed.

     BANG! BANG! BANG! The orange lights turned a perilous red.

     "No! Go away!" yelled Star ineffectually, "We are not maintenance! We are not playing EVIL FUZZLES FROM BEYOND THE STARS!"

     "We are now," said Banana, and switched control of the ship to his side of the panel. He turned on the repulsors for a minute and flew up and backwards away from the station, firing at the pursuing Fuzzles. Unfortunately, unlike the X-Scrub 4000 Walker Bot maintenance craft, the ship he and Starmilit were in did not have very sophisticated aiming systems. In other words, they could not aim anywhere but directly forward, a fact the Fuzzles would doubtless soon figure out.

     The communication box burst into life: "Just fly away, they won't go far from the station. I repeat: fly away!"

     "Fly away, we copy," said Starmilit, taking back control of the ship's operations.

     Bananamenace turned and grabbed hold of the back of his seat.

     The engine whined. The ship shot, as fast as it could on reverse drive, out away from the pull of the artificial gravity of the space station. They were soon out of it. The Fuzzles were reduced to colored spots, which drifted back to the surface of the station to attack the maintenance ship.

     Starmilit turned to her pet, wide-eyed but nevertheless grinning quite cheerfully.

     "What a take off!" she said, slowing the craft to a mid-space standstill.

     "Yeah," said Bananamenace dryly, reseating himself, "Real fun."

     Star patted him on the head. "Don't worry," she said, "We'll be a-okay."

     "Yes, the separate pieces will be," muttered the Mynci, turning his attention to the rear view-screen, while his owner called up status report.

     "Hey, look," said Starmilit, "Why is there only a one blue blip in the health and none in the shield?"

     "Means we're about to go bust," said Banana, squinting at the screen.

     "Oh." Star unbuckled and scrambled behind the seats. She began rifling through a series of little cupboards that had somehow been squished into the inner design, possibly as a very last thought.

     "What are you looking for?" said Banana.

     "Should have… a bit of a power up… somewhere… AHA!" Starmilit's head retreated from the cupboards and she straightened up, subsequently banging her head on the ceiling.

     "Um…" said Banana.

     "Look, look, I got it," said Star, triumphantly holding up a green box with a wire hanging out one side.

     "Good, but…" said Banana.

     "Now all we have to do is insert this here," said his owner, plugging the wire into a random slot below an array of dials. Some green lights flashed on, a hologram with words took a brief stroll across the front view screen, and the red lights faded out to be replaced by a stead orange glow.

     "All righty!" said Starmilit. "Smart, huh?"

     "Yeah, sure, but LOOK AT THIS SCREEN, WILL YOU?!?!?"

     "No probs," said Starmilit, clambering back into her seat and peering at the rear view screen. "What…?"

     "Make way for petpet deliveries!" said a voice through the radio, "Make way for petpet deliveries! Make way for petpet deliveries! Make way for…"

     Bananamenace hit the mute button. Starmilit rammed her foot down on the accelerator. Their craft dived forward (possibly left) and down (or it might have been up). Star executed a complete loop, coming up behind the delivery ship. She squinted at the words on the exterior. It read:


     "I do not approve," said Banana, in a voice that might indicate to some the firmness of his opinion.

     "Oh well," said Star, in a voice that might indicate to some of the veiling of happy hours spent prodding petpets back into the middle of a plate. "Life goes on, eh?"

     "Hah," said Bananamenace.

     "It was a turn of phrase," said Starmilit, and swivelled the ship round on its axis.

     Banana got back onto his seat and placed his hands over the fire button.

     "Let's go then," he said.

     "Right." Starmilit hit the pedal and again the craft shot backward.

     "YOU DIDN'T TAKE IT OUT OF REVERSE, YOU BRAINLESS *CENSORED*!!!!" screamed Banana, trying to engage the non-existent shields in an attempt at doing so "just in time to bounce off the petpet delivery ship". Unfortunately, as noted above, they were offline and irretrievable so.


     The ship bounced anyway, leaving a sizable dent in the delivery craft.


     Starmilit disengaged reverse power and pushed down on the accelerator. The engine spluttered and shut down.

     "Oops," said Star, as the lights were reduced to minimum to save power.

     "Nice'n," said Bananamenace with no emotion in his voice whatsoever.

     "Thanks. Now what…? … Are we moving?"

     Banana peered at the dials. "Yes, very slightly. We shouldn't be, though, right?"

     "Maybe it's momentum from bouncing," said Starmilit.

     "No, I think…" began Banana. "Oh. Switch the communicator off mute, will you?"

     Star switched the communicator off mute.

     "…Ing well done, Starmilit, you manage to go and totally bust up the engine, and now you're drifting in space, or more like getting slowly pulled in by Neopia's gravity, and I hope you're ha…"

     Star switched it back on to mute. She looked at Bananamenace. Bananamenace looked at her.

     "I was about to say that about the gravity," said the Mynci.

     "What are we going to DO?" asked Star. She imagined them slowly but inevitably picking up speed and then spiralling down…

     Banana de-muted the speaker.

     "…Okay? I hope you got that, 'cause I'm not in the mood for repeating things." The line went dead.

     Starmilit giggled nervously.

     "Go on then," said Bananamenace. "Ask him to repeat it."

     Star sighed and flicked the switch down. "Uh, sorry, but we didn't get that." She let it go.

     Something suddenly popped up on the view screen. It was a blue box, like a really old hologram, and it was advertising "Scorchy Slots". Then another one appeared, saying something about the "Krawks Corporation".

     "We're getting attacked by adverts," joked Starmilit, telling the computer to close down, only for it to be replaced by three ads.

     "Oh no!" said Bananamenace, "We must have drifted in range of ADVERT ATTACK!"

     "NO!!!" yelled Star, and put her foot down on the accelerator. Not surprisingly, nothing happened.

     More ads popped up on the screen, soon totally obliterating the lovely view of space.

     "NOOO!!!" yelled Starmilit again.

     Bananamenace leaned over to the communicator.

     "A little help here, Flight Control?" he called over Star's screaming.

     "What do you expect us to do? We were going to tractor-beam you in but you're in the middle of a Game now, therefore we'd have to halt the entire thing to get you out."

     "Do that then!" said Banana.

     "Not possible!" said the flight commander, "Do you know how many people play that Game per day? Stopping it, even momentarily, would cause SUCH an inconvenience!"

     "Perfect," growled Bananamenace, as another dozen adverts popped up on screen.

     "I suppose you'll have to sit there until there is a lull in people wanting to have a go."

     "We can't not sit here anyway," said Banana, and added: "How long d'you think it will be until one of these lulls?"

     "I really couldn't say," said the flight commander, "Will get back to you when one arrives."

     "Got ya," said Banana, and turned his attention to his owner.

     "We're stuck," said Starmilit.

     The Mynci nodded.

     "We'll never get there at this rate," said Star.

     Bananamenace shook his head.

     "I need to go."

     Banana sighed. "Didn't you go before we came out?" he said.

     "Forgot," said Starmilit.

     They sat in silence for a few minutes.

     Then Star scrambled back behind her seat and began searching through the cupboards again.

     Bananamenace didn't bother asking what she was looking for. It was probably a spanner, with which she would look at and likely further break the engine. No one could say he didn't have faith in his owner; he could always depend on her to forget something or break something or lose something, and though she was always trying to be helpful, it usually ended in something going wrong. The only BIG THING that Banana knew she was good at was flying, and that minus the taking off and landing bits. It was fine once she was in space. Usually fine.

     Unseen past the barrier of blue ads, two skinny flight craft shot by, neck and neck on their way to the finish line. One seemed to be moving in a strangely jerky way… but then, this was Advert Attack, as has been mentioned.

     …An hour passed…

     Bananamenace stirred to the sound of sparks and sat up sharply. Starmilit was tinkering with the engine, as predicted.

     "You'll just make it worse," the Mynci groaned, and headed to the cupboards to find a banana of the organic kind.

     "No, I got engineering lessons, remember?"

     Banana paused, a banana halfway to his mouth.

     "Really?" he said.

     "Yes, I did tell you. At least… I think I told you. Maybe I didn't." Starmilit shrugged.

     "Will you be able to fix it?" said Bananamenace.

     "Possibly," said Star.

     "Right," said Banana, checking the speed dial. There were just getting to a good speed, making their way along the Advert Attack racecourse.

     He looked over at his owner. "Hey, we'll be out of the adverts' range soon," he said.

     "And I'll be finished with this -" *sizzle* "- soon," said Star, who wasn't paying attention.

     "Yeah good, but when we're out of range of the Game, then Flight Control will be able to send a ship out to pull us in!"

     "But -" *bzaap!* "- we'll be able to fly again by then. We don't need Flight Control," said Star.

     "You have got a point," admitted Bananamenace, "Shall I tell them that?"

     Starmilit straightened up and hit her head on the cockpit roof again. "Done. Yeah, tell them. Oh wait… hehe, I'll just check it is working first." She got into her seat and engaged the engine, which, very satisfyingly, purred into action.

     "All right!" said Star, grinning from ear to ear.

     Banana flicked the communicator switch down. "Hey, just wanted to tell ya we don't need pulling in," he said.

     "What??" came the reply.

     "I repeat," said Bananamenace, "We do not need pulling in. Starmilit has fixed the ship's engine."

     "Pull the other one."

     "Nah, I did!" said Star indignantly.

     There was a pause.

     "Okay, so it's working," said Flight Control grudgingly, "So… get going. What are you waiting for?"

     The ship burst into action, speeding forward and pinning Banana against his seat with the sudden impetus. The blue ads stopped appearing and Star started deleting some whilst her craft rocketed onward. Banana helped her once he'd got his breath back.

     Half way through a window-deleting frenzy, the communicator buzzed.

     "I would change direction if I were you," said Flight Control, "Presently you will hit planet in less than two minutes."

     "Aaaaagh!" screamed Starmilit.

     "Not good," said Banana calmly. "Do something, Star."

     Star swallowed, focused on the navigator panels; as she couldn't yet see out the view screen, and changed direction: setting them onto an ultra-speed orbit of Neopia.

     Banana deleted the rest of the ads.

     "Are we on course…" he began, but -

     "Aaaaagh!" yelled Starmilit, pointing out the front view screen.

     "What this time?" said Bananamenace, and followed her gaze. "Aaaaagh!"

     "We're gonna crash into an asteroid!!!" yelled Star at the communicator.

     "Actually," said Flight Control in a very bored tone, "that is the moon."

     "We're gonna crash into the moon… Hey, that's where we want to go!"

     "BUT WE DON'T WANT TO CRASH!" yelled Banana.

     "True," said Star, and swerved the ship to the side as Kreludor loomed up before them. She relaxed as the dark shell of Kreludor rolled by below them (or it could have been above them). A large rock, barely discernible against the black backdrop, drifted at speed towards them. Banana hit the lasers once and it burst apart.

     The Mynci pointed. "Over there!"

     Starmilit followed his gaze as she pointed the ship in the indicated direction. She could make out the various landmarks on the surface of the moon; the Mining Corporation, Kreludan Homes, Café Kreludor and others, plus the array of standing stones and strange-shaped pockmarks scattered about. Then one of the stones exploded in a shower of rock debris and dust. She tightened her grip on the controls. A swarm of small bat-like ships swept across the moon and then curved upwards to meet their own craft, quickly getting into a long line that separated in to two as it drew nearer.

     "Get 'em!" said Star.

     Bananamenace pushed down on the fire button and a series of beams shot out and blew the oncoming ships to smithereens.

     "Hah!" he said, firing again to get rid of a second lump of rock.

     Starmilit flew the ship forward, keeping her eyes peeled for the next wave of attackers. Bananamenace kept an eye on the radar.

     "I hope you can do better on this than on taking off," said a voice, breaking in on their concentration.

     The two exchanged glances.

     "We can," said Star firmly, and hit the mute button.

The End

Author's Note: Hello, thanks for reading this! I hope you enjoyed it. I would like to note that Starmilit (star mil it) and Bananamenace (banana menace) are completely fictional, and MIGHT be appearing again somewhere; they could be quite a comical team and I have gotten rather attached to them.

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