Oscar up the Gog

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The Race.

Part 1

       Space racing has had a slightly unusual history. It began practically as soon as space flight became commonplace and affordable. People always like going fast, and space was yet another area to go fast in. It had a novelty that nowhere on Earth had. You could also go a LOT faster in a space ship than you could in a ground based vehicle or even an aircraft.
       So for a while the “Space Races” were very popular. Unfortunately for the soft drink companies who had invested heats of money into sponsor ship and advertising – it did not stay that way. People soon started to get bored. Sure, the ships went fast, but they never crashed. And for a lot of people, the most exciting thing about seeing people go fast is seeing them stop going fast very quickly – in other words, a crash.
       The reason that no one ever seemed to crash in space is because there is not a real lot to crash into in space. Sure there are micro meteors and things like that, but once they invented the shield generator, they were no longer a problem. What was a problem was the fact that the soft drink companies weren’t making a profit, so they decided to change the rules.
       Space Races were now held in challenging areas of space, asteroid belts and places like that. In these areas there was a lot of stuff to run into and there were a lot of crashes. This made the public become rather interested again. And everyone bought lots of soft drink.
       Then there was another problem. Everywhere that made a good space racetrack made a good something else too. The asteroids were full of minerals and were being mined. So the racers had the problems of running into miners – which made both parties very angry. Well, it didn’t make the racers and miners in question very angry – because the crash almost always killed them both. It made the other racers and miners (those who had not been involved in a crash) very angry.
       All this time space was being explored, and strange new lands, and strange new civilizations, and funny little green men were being discovered. As people found more things in space, they realised that there was heaps more to discover than they had thought before. So everywhere that wasn’t in known space was called the “Unknown Space” which was a rather boring title, so it was also called the “Uncharted Space” which was slightly better and the “Stuff Beyond” which was its most common name.
       At some point, a soft drink addict suggested that they hold the races in the Uncharted Areas, because if there was anyone there who would mind them holding a race there, they hadn’t met then so it wouldn’t really cause any problems. Surprisingly enough, the soft drink companies agreed.

       The planet hung in space. It didn’t have a name because no one had bothered to give it one. In fact as far as anyone knew, it had never been visited before. It was accompanied by a small moon in orbit around it, and there was a star not too far off that served as it’s sun, but apart from that it was completely alone.
       A moment later it wasn’t.
       A fleet of massive space ships dropped out of hyperspace and took up position in a distant orbit around the planet.
       Among the ships were huge flying grand stands. They began to deploy themselves around another ship. This ship was the starting area.
       “Hello All!” said one of the commentators on the starting area ship, “we have arrived safely and all the crews are preparing for launch. The marshals are deploying the track buoys as I speak. We expect a launch in the next ten minutes. In the mean time, settle back and enjoy a nice soft drink.

       “You ready?” asked Mike the mechanic.
       “You bet!” replied Snowy Dodgeson, “as long as the ship holds up out there this time.”
       “Sure will, I fixed the problem myself. It was only a loose connection,” said Mike.
       “A loose connection, it almost meant the end of the race last week!” retorted Snowy.
       “Ahh come on, it wasn’t like it was fatal or anything, it was only the speakers.”
       “Yeah, and just how am I supposed to be able to race without music?” asked Snowy.
       “Ahh, you just win this time so I get my bonus – alright?” said Mike.
       “Sure thing, it’s a done deal,” said Snowy as he prepared to take off.

       In another ship high above the one called “Pit Lane” a small group of security personnel watched out the large view screens. They were here to keep order and protect the race in case something untoward happened.
       “What do you think of this place?” the commander asked one of his computer operators.
       “Nothing to report – seems deserted enough. No detectable energy sources from the planet. No cities or anything. They seem to have done a decent job picking this one.”
       “Good. You never can be sure what to expect. They pick the location randomly and never check it out first. It’s asking for trouble if you ask me. I wouldn’t be surprised if we turn up in the middle of a war or something someday.”
       “That’s the great thing about holding these races in the uncharted zones. You turn up without warning, and then you leave straight afterwards, so even if someone was going to complain, you wont be around to hear them.”
       “Yeah, who do you think is going to win this time?”

       From inside his small racer ship Snowy could hear the commentator’s voice. He could tune his radio into the right frequency and hear it cleared, but it was loud enough on its own. People had always said you couldn’t hear a sound in space, but they had never imagined the size of the speakers that the Race used.
       Snowy looked down at his computer screen that was showing the current betting pool. He wasn’t exactly the favourite, but he wasn’t doing too bad either. He took another sip of his soft drink. The commentator was rambling on about the racecourse. The marshals had never been to this planet before, and had only had a few minutes to decide where to place the buoys, and had decided on a fairly straight course, around the moon and then with a dip into the atmosphere of the planet just for fun.
       As the final minute to the start counted down, Snowy sat his drink down in it’s specially designed drink holder, and got ready for the start.

       “Well, we’re just about to start racing now,” said one of the commentators to the other.
       “Yes, it’s only seconds now to the starters gun,” replied the other.

       Although it may seen strange to have a starters gun in a race like this, it was long ago decided that it was a lot more exciting than waving a green flag or showing a green light or anything as mundane as that. It had also been decided that there was no gun big enough to start a race like this, so instead they sent a small drone a few miles away and blew it up with a nuclear weapon.

       There was a massive flash of light and the race was away. Snowy slammed down his fist and hit a button that fired the main rockets, and also (more importantly) started playing a Diaster Area song full bore over the speakers.

       All the race ships soared like bullets towards the first buoy. It had been decided many years ago that all the ships had to have a similar sized engine. This was because if they had been allowed to use any technology available the ships would have been so fast they would have finished the race in a few seconds and no one would be bothered watching. With the rules as they were, it was fast enough to be exciting and slow enough to be watchable.

       As they rounded the first buoy Snowy was in the lead. They then headed toward the 2nd one, and by the time they got around that, Snowy was coming last. That was not unusual in these sort of races. It was only who was in the lead at the end that was important.
       The 3rd buoy was behind the moon, so all the ships charged around there and then back to the 4th one – which was not far from the 2nd one. The reason they doubled back like that was because it meant that they were heading the opposite way to each other, and therefore more likely to crash – and scientific research pointed out that as soon as someone crashed, the whole crowd would drink more soft drink.
       No one crashed yet.
       After another 5 buoys they were headed straight towards the planet. The 10th buoy was actually inside the atmosphere of the planet. The marshals had decided that this would make the otherwise rather dull track pretty interesting.

       Snowy felt his ship get thrown around as he entered the atmosphere. The ships weren’t designed for this sort of flight – they would need wings for that. But on the other hand, if something is going fast enough, it doesn’t need wings. Bullets don’t have wings.
       As the clouds covered his vision, something began to play havoc with his radar too. It wasn’t very uncommon – in fact it was exactly what the marshals had hoped for.
       Everyone’s radar was jammed, and no one could see each other. Two racers tried to occupy the same place at the same time and discovered it didn’t work – and exploded.

       “Ahh – a crash! Fantastic!” said one of the commentators.
       “Yes, everyone keep thinking about that and buy another soft drink!”

       Snowy’s ship burst from the atmosphere. He was pleased to discover it wasn’t him who had crashed. He was also coming fifth – which isn’t too bad. He should be able to make up the remaining ground in the next 2 laps.
       All the ships thundered past the starting ship and began the 2nd lap.

       “Hey – did you see that?” asked one of the security guards.
       “See what?” asked another.
       “That crash – just there” the first said and pointed.
       “Ahh, yes, now that you mention it – pretty spectacular wasn’t it?”
       “Yeah,” said the first again, “and it makes me thirsty – Quinn, get us a drink would you?”
       Quinn looked up. He was the only person in the whole area who wasn’t watching the race. Many years ago he had been very interested in the races, but had drunk too much soft drink, and had had to have his leg amputated as a result. He had sworn never to go to the races again, and had joined up with a security company. Unfortunately for him, his new employer assigned him to guarding the races. So Quinn contented himself with simply not watching them.
       Quinn reached into the small refrigerator that sat beside one of the walls and threw it at the guy who asked for it. It hit the guy on the head and knocked him out, but he was too busy watching the race to notice.
       Quinn went back to reading his book.

       Snowy screamed around the moon again, and then headed into the oncoming traffic. The reason he has screamed as he went around the moon was because of how scary it would be heading into this traffic. Somehow he managed to miss everything and everything managed to miss him.
       He had now managed to work his way up into fourth. Third place was only a little in front of him, and he thought he should be able to get into at least second by the end of the race. He pushed the throttle a little harder as he headed into the atmosphere of the planet again. His radar started beeping to inform him that it couldn’t see anything, and his eyes reported that they couldn’t see anything either. All he knew was where the buoy was.

       At that moment the pirates arrived. To start with no one paid them any attention. They thought they were just late spectators. That was before they opened fire.
       As soon as they opened fire on the Starting ship, everyone thought they were pirates. Well almost everyone, a few people were too busy watching the race to notice, but they were in the minority.
       The Starting ship didn’t like being shot at, and promptly jumped into hyperspace and headed home. The pilots from the other ships had the same idea, and in less then a minute almost all the ships had left. All that remained were the small racers, the security guards, and a TV reporter ship that was filming the whole thing.
       The pirates hadn’t noticed the security guards yet, and were busy sending out ships to capture the racers. Pirates sometimes raided races like this and stole the ships, because in some parts of the galaxy they were regarded as collectable and worth a lot of money. The pirates ignored the TV ship because they like the good coverage they were getting, and looked forward to watching it all on the evening news.

       Inside the security ship, everyone was racing towards the fighters to go and intercept the pirates. Well, almost everyone. Quin had been a bit slow to react because he wasn’t watching the race, and the other dude who Quinn had thrown the soft drink at started to head towards his ship, and then realised he had been knocked out and slunk to the floor.
       Apart from him, everyone got to their fighters.

       “Hey, that’s not fair!” said the pirate captain as the security fighters seemed to come out of nowhere and attack his ships, “I’m supposed to be doing the shooting around here.”
       “Maybe you should tell them that,” suggested the pirate’s robotic parrot.
       “ATTACK THEM!!!” yelled the Pirate captain into the radio, “I’M SUPPOSED TO BE DOING THE SHOOTING AROUND HERE!!!!”

       There were a lot more pirates then there were security guards, and so the pirates were wining. Unfortunately the first ship that got hit was being flown by Quinn. Fortunately though, it didn’t destroy the ship, it just knocked Quinn out. The ship kept flying the way it was headed.
       To cut a short story even shorter, the battle didn’t last long. All the security guards were either killed or captured, as were all the racers. Well, the racers were all captured. That is, except for one.

       Snowy had pulled his ship out of the atmosphere and instead of the expected crowd of ships, there was an unexpected crowd of ships. He didn’t know what to do for a minute, and then someone shot at him. He still didn’t know what to do, but he did it anyway.
       He dived his ship into the atmosphere again. (on a side note: That should really be “He dove his ship into the atmosphere”, but I have been told that dove (like dive but with an ‘ow’ sound) is not a word in that respect.)
       Anyway, Snowy headed down again. So did one of the pirates. The pirate had seen Snowy and was chasing him. He fired a missile and followed to see if it would hit.
       It did hit. Snowy’s engine was blown off the back of his ship. Snowy could do nothing except hit the eject button. That was exactly what he did.
       The pirate was not happy. He had forgotten he was supposed to be capturing the space ships, not destroying them, and he was sure his boss would be very angry too.
       He didn’t have to worry about it for very long. In the next moment another ship burst from the atmosphere. It was the 5th ship – and it ran directly into that particular pirate ship.
        No one was selling Soft Drink at the moment, so no one drank any as a result of this crash.

       Quinn woke up. He wished he hadn’t. He didn’t know where he was. That was because he couldn’t see anything except clouds. With a start he realised he was falling into the atmosphere of the planet. He tried to turn the ship around, but soon discovered that him main engine had abandoned ship a while ago, and he didn’t have the power to turn around. All he could hope for was a rough emergency landing on the planet.

       Snowy had a nice easy landing on the planet. His ejection chair had worked properly, and had plopped him down in the middle of a dusty plain. All he had to do now was to work out how to get home again.

       Quinn had a much worse time. He had to crash land what was left of his ship. By the time he had finished there wasn’t enough of his ship left to be called a ship. It could only be called a “burning heap of scrap metal”.
       He crawled out of the burning heap of scrap metal and looked around. He was surrounded by a lot of small bushes. There were no large trees that he could see, just a lot of this low growing plants. He fished his pocket computer out of his pocket and took a look at it’s readings. There appeared to be very little on the planet. All he could pick up was the buoy up above him, still faithfully broadcasting it’s location, and a smaller broadcast. It appeared to be an automated SOS from one of the racer’s ejection seats.
       Quinn smiled. He wasn’t the only poor sod who had ended up down here after all. He took a bearing (worked out what direction the signal was from) and headed out.
       In case anyone was paying attention up a few pages ago, I said that Quinn had had his leg amputated. He walked with a fold up walking stick he carried around for such an emergency.

       Stay Tuned for part 2 - in which stupid things continue to happen.

That part took me a bout 2 hours to write.

Part 2.


       Snowy didn’t like this planet. It hadn’t taken him long to work that out. He had very quickly discovered that there was nothing on this planet that he did like, and not much longer to change from mere neutrality to actually not liking it. He was well on his way to despising it, and hating it wouldn’t be far behind.
       He had been walking for a fair while now, and hadn’t seen anything interesting at all. What he had seen reminded him of every desert he had ever seen, and many he hadn’t.
       “Hey, who are you and what are you doing here?”
       Snowy thought he was alone and must have been going insane. He ignored the voice.
       “Hey! I was talking to you!”
       Snowy still ignored it.
       “Well of all the rude things to do… are you deaf or something?”
       Snowy wasn’t, but still ignored it.
       “Oh forget it – I hope you rust!” said the voice.
       Snowy paused for a moment. He must have been even more insane than he first though. Hoping someone would rust isn’t exactly a normal insult. Well, it is amongst robots and other mechanical beings – but otherwise it’s not in common usage.
       Snowy turned around. Behind him was a jeep. It hadn’t been there before, Snowy was positive, because he’d been there a few moments ago, when it was still in front of him and not behind him as it is now.
       Although it was vaguely possible that he had been too preoccupied with his inner voice that he just hadn’t seen the jeep as he walked past it.
       “Ahh, so you’re not deaf!” said the voice.
       Snowy suddenly realised that he was either completely insane, or not at all and the voice was coming from the driver of the jeep.
       There was only one slight problem – the jeep didn’t have a driver.
       “Well, who are you?” asked the jeep.
       Now, in our day and age, a talking jeep would be proof that we were either the victim of a practical joke or else we were insane. In Snowy’s day and age, they weren’t the only options. There was also the possibility that it was a talking jeep.
       “Hi” said Snowy.
       “Hi, my name is Jeepers” said the jeep, “WHO ARE YOU?”
       “I am Snowy.”
       “Well that’s very useful information! Why are you here?”
       “I was shot down.”
       “In a space ship?” asked the jeep hopefully.
       “Yes, in a very fast space ship. I was in a race.”
       “Ahh, did the space ship survive?” asked the jeep.
       “No, I’m afraid not, it was shot down and I ejected”.
       “BOTHER!” said the Jeep in a louder voice than any other Jeep that Snowy had ever heard.
       “Why is that so bad?” asked Snowy.
       “Because I need a space ship” said the Jeep.
       “Why? Did you lose yours?”
       “No – well, not exactly – it was shot down too” said the Jeep sadly.
       “Ahh, did you come to watch the race?” asked Snowy, “If you’d like I could give you an autograph”.
       “What race? I was shot down three hundred years ago”
       “Oh,” said Snowy who couldn’t think of anything else to say.
       “I was the computer system of the starship ‘Hipotonic’. We were exploring the galaxy looking for strange new life and new ways to make money. We journeyed far into the uncharted zones, and had made a lot of money doing so. We would buy stuff at one planet and then take it to another planet and sell it there. The last planet I ever went to, apart from this one, we bought a lot of weapons and stuff. We were going to sell it at the next planet – but we never made it.”
       “Why didn’t you make it?”
       “I am coming to that part. The 3rd mate got bored and was playing with one of the rifles we were going to sell, and accidentally shot the main engine reactor. The engineer died of shock, and we were unable to fix it. The ship soon drifted into the orbit of this planet, and then crashed a while later. The crew all died, and no one turned me off – so I was still going when a Folphin came along and transferred me into this jeep (we had jeeps amongst the other weapons) but I am afraid that the starship Hipotonic will never fly again. And so now we are all looking for a spaceship to get us off this planet.”
       “What did you say?”
       “What? Weren’t you listening – I don’t want to have to go through the whole thing again,” said the jeep.
       “I heard it all, but what did you say about a Dolphin?” asked Snowy.
       “I didn’t.”
       “Yes you did, you said it turned you into a jeep.”
       “I didn’t say Dolphin, I said Folphin – and they would be very offended if you got them mixed up.”
       “What on mars is a Folphin.”
       “There are no Folphins on Mars. They come from a planet called Thisplaceisverywet – it’s a very strange planet, and it is rather wet. The Folphins look like Dolphins but they are bigger, the talk, and they can live out of the water – for periods of time anyway.”
       “Ahh, I’ve never heard of them.” Said Snowy.
       “I don’t think they’ve ever heard of you either.”
       “Umm, probably not.”
       “So, the Folphin transferred me into this jeep, and then I joined the war.”
       “What war?”
       “The war for the spaceship.”
       “What spaceship?”
       “The one the war’s about – I don’t know what it’s called.”
       “Then why is there a war about it?”
       “Because it’s the only way off this planet,” said the jeep.
       “So you have a spaceship that actually flies?”
       “Yes, or at least we think it does, which is why we want it – so we can leave.”
       “Then why don’t you leave?” asked Snowy.
       “Because if we go near it, the enemy shoots at us.”
       “Why do they do that?” asked Snowy.
       “Because they want the spaceship” said the jeep matter-of-factly.
       “Why do they want it?”
       “So they can get off this planet.” Said the jeep.
       “And let me guess, if they go near the spaceship you shoot them?” asked Snowy.
       “Yes, it’s very simple really.” Said the Jeep.
       “Why don’t you both leave then?” asked Snowy.
       “Because we are at war – and we can’t work together.”
       “So who are you fighting?” asked Snowy.
       “The Burps – You don’t seem to know very much, so jump in and I’ll take you for a drive to meet our leader.”
       Snowy climbed into the jeep, and they started driving across the desert.

       Quinn didn’t like this planet much either. He was trudging along on foot – and only one at that. He didn’t mind it too much though, because by the time he got off this rock, he would at least be able to collect a LOT of over-time pay.
       Some people might have thought his job would be over because the race had been attacked and he had been shot down, but in his contract he was required to help any racers in danger, and being stuck on a desert planet was dangerous, so as long as his computer kept beeping he would keep being paid.
       He wasn’t being paid because his computer was beeping. He could make a computer beep very easily and no one would pay him for that, it was only because the beeping meant that there was a racer somewhere on this planet that he had to help.
       If the beeping stopped that would mean he would stop being paid, and that would make him very mad indeed.
       He kept walking. He didn’t meet a Jeep, a Folphin, or a Burp. In fact, it was rather boring.

       “So that’s what a Folphin is!” said Snowy when he saw one. The one he saw looked like a bigger and odder and fatter version of a dolphin. It was currently swimming in the rather shallow oasis that the Jeep had driven to.
       “Hey Jeepers!” said the Folphin. It slithered out of the water and up to the jeep, “Who’s this then?”
       “He says his name is Snowy. I don’t know if it’s the truth or not, but its not the sort of name I’d give myself if I was lying – I’d be more likely to lie and give myself a better name if my name was Snowy – so it’s probably true.” Said the Jeep.
       “You’re a fish!” said Snowy.
       “No, I’m a jeep!” said Jeepers.
       “I wasn’t talking to you, I was talking to the fish.”
       “I am not a fish – I am a Folphin!” said the Folphin, “and my name is Harold.”
       “A fish called Harold?” asked Snowy incredulously.
       “What’s wrong with that? It’s a better name than Snowy,” said Harold.
       “Where is Frederick?” asked Jeepers.
       “He’s just over there,” said Harold with a wave of his fin.
       “Thanks,” said Jeepers and drove over. Harold slithered back into the water.
       Snowy followed Jeepers.

       Quinn was still having a boring walk, so we will continue to ignore him for the time being.

       “Hello, I am Sir Frederick,” said Frederick, “but you may call me Fred or Sir depending on which you prefer.”
       “What are you?” asked Snowy.
       “I am a Yanho,” said Frederick.
       “What’s a one of them?” asked Snowy.
       “We are pretty much like you, but we breath a different atmosphere – which is why I am wearing such a strange looking space suit.” Said Frederick.
       Snowy stared into the pitch black visor of Fred’s helmet. He couldn’t see anything except his own reflection. Unless of course it was actually Fred’s head, that happened to look the same as Snowy’s but that was doubtful.
       “So are you the leader here?” asked Snowy.
       “Yes, I am leading this army. We are fighting the evil enemy for control of a spaceship that means we can escape,” said Fred.
       “What army?” asked Snowy.
       “We’re almost all here. Cracker is off guarding the ship, but apart from him there is me, Harold and Jeepers. It’s only a small army, but it’s the best I could manage. In fact, I would really like you to join our army too.” Said Fred.
       Snowy was a little shocked by this. “What are you fighting?” he demanded.
       “We are fighting the evil enemy.” Said Fred.
       “Who are they?” demanded Snowy.
       “They are mainly made up of Burps,” explained Fred.
       “Made up of what?!”
       “Burps. They are rather fat purple creatures that don’t have very much intelligence. They are actually pretty friendly if you meet them under the right circumstances,” explained Fred.
       “I don’t suppose a war is the right circumstances,” said Snowy.
       “I suppose not,” said Fred.
       “INCOMMING!!!!” yelled another voice.

       Just to keep you in suspense we will now cross back over to Quinn. He is still being very boring, but he is slowly getting closer to the rest of our story.
       Quinn walked.
       And he walked some more.
       Just for the sake of it, Quinn tripped over.
       Quinn got up again.
       He walked.
       He walked.
       He walked.

       Ok, I think that is enough suspense. We’ll now return to the more interesting story so you can learn who yelled “INCOMMING” and why they did so.

       “I SAID WE HAVE INCOMMING!!!” yelled Cracker.
       Cracker was human. He was also a soldier, which made him pretty useful in a war. It hadn’t been his idea to start the war, it had been going by the time he crashed on the planet – but at least he was better at the fighting part than the Yanho and the fish.
       Harold did a valiant attempt to dive for cover, but the water wasn’t deep enough.
       Jeepers drove up carrying a few guns. “Here, use these!” he said.
       Snowy grabbed a gun. “Who do we shoot at?” he asked.
       In the next moment he knew.

       Quinn kept walking.

       A strange looking purple aircraft few over Snowy’s head. It fired strange looking purple laser beams. The explosions weren’t purple – they were the normal sort of reddish colour.
       “What is that!” demanded Snowy.
       “It’s a Burp!” yelled Jeepers.
       Two more Burps circled overhead, preparing to attack.
       There was a sharp grating sound as Cracker opened fire. The Burps started to do evasive action, which meant that they stopped attacking, which was good.
       Fred started shooting too. He missed by miles. He was the sort of person (or Yanho) who couldn’t hit the side of a barn door if it was too miles wide even if he was standing less than a meter from it.
       Snowy tried to shoot too, but he pressed the wrong button and the gun exploded.

       Quinn kept walking.

       The Burps flew their strange looking aircraft away. Cracker kept shooting them to encourage them. One of the aircraft was leaving a trail of purple smoke from where Cracker had shot it.
       Snowy pulled himself out of the water. He had been blown there when his gun had exploded.
       Fred fell out of a tree. He had been blown up there when Snowy’s gun had exploded.
       “What were you thinking!” demanded Cracker.
       “I didn’t mean to!” explained Snowy.
       “I wasn’t talking to you! I meant why did they bring a spy into the camp!” demanded Cracker.
       “Is he a spy?” asked Fred.
       “Of course he is, why else would he sabotage one of our guns?” questioned Cracker.
       “I didn’t sabotage it!” interrupted Snowy.
       “Then why did it explode?” challenged Cracker.
       “I don’t know,” said Snowy, taking another gun from Jeepers, “All I did was pull the trigger like this.”
       The gun exploded.

       A spaceship dropped out of hyperspace. It had been running late for the race, and was very disappointed it was all over. It jumped into hyperspace again and left the sector.

       “Either you are a spy or you are a moron!” said Cracker as he fell out of a tree.
       “What? I don’t understand,” said Snowy as he pulled himself out of the water.
       “That wasn’t the trigger, that was the self destruct button,” explained Cracker as he rolled Jeepers back onto his wheels.
       “Well, I didn’t know that,” Snowy said.
       “I bet you did. I bet you are a spy!” said Cracker as he aimed his gun at Snowy.
       “But it wasn’t me! Actually it was, what I mean is that I didn’t mean it. I am not a spy!” Snowy yelled.
       “What do we do with spies around here?” asked Cracker.
       “We’ve never had one before, but I think we should shoot him,” said Fred.
       “Ok!” said Cracker and was about to shoot.
       Fred fainted.
       The reason he fainted was because something hit him on the head very hard.

       Quinn hit the Yanho on the head very hard with his walking stick. The Yanho collapsed.
       Quinn then hit another person on the head – also very hard. This person collapsed too.
       Quinn was about to attack the next person when he suddenly realised that the 2nd person he had attacked had been the person he had come to rescue in the first place.

       Snowy collapsed.
       Cracker hadn’t been expecting this, and was caught off guard.
       He was also impressed that a one-legged man had managed to knock out Snowy, Fred, Harold, and was now trying to do the same to Jeepers, but it wasn’t as successful because hitting a jeep on the hood isn’t as effective.
       “Hey, who are you?” asked Cracker.
       Quinn had somehow managed not to see Cracker at all. Now that he did see him he realised he had a gun and that it would be foolish to try and knock him out. Quinn stopped attacking. “I am Quinn,” he said.
       “Who are you?” asked Cracker.
       “I just answered that!” said Quinn.
       “I mean, why are you here. What is your reason. What do you do?”
       “Ahh, I am a security guard, and I am supposed to be guarding that guy.”
       “You seem to have knocked him out.”
       “Yes, they are easier to guard that way.”
       “No, it was an accident.”
       “Ahh” said Cracker.
       “Who are you?” asked Quinn.
       “I am Cracker.”
       “I am Quinn”
       “You already said that. You are a security guard. That means you are almost a soldier. I am a soldier. I also have a gun, and you do not. So you get a choice. Either join our army, or be killed.”
       “Couldn’t I just go home?” asked Quinn.
       “That’s what we are trying to do. If you join the army we should be able to do that.”
       “Ah, ok, I will join your army.”
       “Great, once our leader recovers I will introduce you properly.”
       “Ok,” said Quinn
       “I am very impressed. You took out most of our army with only one leg and a walking stick,” Cracker said.
       “This was HALF your army? Man you have a small army……”

       A few days later, everyone had woken up again. Cracker took the two new recruits for a walk up the hill behind the camp. From the top of the hill they could see a great plain. And in the middle of the plain was the very obvious wreckage of a spaceship. Only, it wasn’t really a wreckage, it almost looked as if it had landed there. It looked like you could jump in and it would be ready to take off almost instantly.
       “So why don’t we go and take it?” asked Quinn.
       “Look through this,” said Cracker and handed over his sniper rifle. Quinn looked through it’s scope.
       At the other end of the plain was another hill, similar to the one they were on. And at the top of it Quinn could see a purple Burp aiming a similarly purple sniper rifle at them.
       “Why don’t you just shoot each other?” asked Quinn.
       “The Rifles don’t reach that far. They only reach a little past the space ship and not much further – so as long as there is a sniper on the hills, no one can try and take the ship. Or at least that was the way it was until a few weeks ago.” Cracker explained.
       “What happed then?” asked Snowy.
       “Well, the Burps got those funny looking purple aircraft. That means that they can get close enough to attack us. The first time they did was the time when you turned up. We think it was just a test, to see how well they worked. Next time it will be serious.” Cracker said.
       “So if they attack you, and while you’re busy fighting them, they can steal the spaceship?” asked Quinn.
       “That is what we are afraid of. The Burps aren’t smart enough for that. They need a leader. They make good pilots and things, but they don’t know any kind of strategy. They also don’t know how to make aircraft, so they must have a leader. I don’t know who it is, but I think Fred might.”
       “Why do you think that?” asked Quinn.
       “Because whenever I talk about it, he doesn’t say anything, and normally it is hard to make him shut up,” said Cracker.
       “Lets go and talk to him then.”

       “Why wont you tell us?” asked Quinn.
       Frederick didn’t say anything. He just stood there. He might have been angry, sad, embarrassed, or anything at all, but they couldn’t see his face so they didn’t know. He was actually embarrassed, but they didn’t know that.
       “Well, regardless, if we’re just waiting for them to attack us, shouldn’t we attack them first?” asked Quinn.
       “It would be suicide!” said Fred, “you would be shot by the sniper before you even got close.”
       “What about if we snuck around the back?” asked Quinn.
       “I had never thought of that,” said Fred.
       “Disgraceful!” said Cracker, “I have always been taught to attack your enemy’s face-on. That is the honourable thing to do.”
       “But we will be facing them, and if they don’t face us then it’s their own fault.” Said Quinn.
       “You know, you’re right. It’s not such a bad idea after all. We will have to give them a wide berth to get behind them without being spotted.” Said Cracker
       “I walked for miles to get here, I don’t mind,” said Quinn.
       “Hey guys, you forgot about me, I’ll give you a lift.” Said Jeepers.
       “If we go, who will keep a look out from the sniper’s hill? They could steal the space ship while we’re travelling and it wouldn’t be any point.” Asked Quinn.
       “I would do sniper duty!” said Fred.
       “Bad idea, remember when I taught you to hunt barn doors? You’re a hopeless shot,” reminded Cracker.
       “I could, but I don’t have any hands” said Harold.
       “I could give it a go,” said Snowy.
       “You’ll just blow yourself up again,” said Cracker.
       “Hey, you’ve shown me where the trigger is now, I’ll be ok.”
       “Ok then, we’ll leave within the hour.” said Cracker.

       Quite a few hours later, Quinn and Cracker were creeping towards the enemy camp. Jeepers was too, but he was driving, so his version of creeping was rather different.
       As they got closer they saw a lot of metal lying around. It was remnants of various different wrecked space ships that had crashed on the planet in the past.
       “He has quite a collection here,” commented Quinn.
       “I think some of this is from my old ship,” moaned Jeepers.
       “Do you think the Burps are trying to build their own ship?” asked Quinn.
       “Burps aren’t that smart. But it looks like some one is.” Said Cracker.
       “If they can build themselves a space ship, then they don’t need the one we want, they can just go in theirs.” Said Quinn.
       “No we cant, it doesn’t work,” said a voice.
       “Who said that!” demanded Quinn.
       “It sounded like a purple voice,” said Cracker.
       “It was me,” said a Burp as he jumped out of a hole in the ground.
       “Umm, Hi” said Quinn.
       “Hi,” said the Burp, “are you invading us? It must be terribly exciting. Can I help?”
       Quinn and Cracker looked at each other.

       “Please tell me who is leading the enemy,” Snowy said again. He was sitting on the sniper’s hill. Fred had come to keep him company.
       “It’s really rather embarrassing,” said Fred.
       Snowy was encouraged, this was better than they got before. All Fred had done in the past was ignore them completely.
       “It’s ok, tell me” said Snowy.
       “If you insist,” said Fred.
       Snowy waited. Nothing happened.
       “I insist!” he said finally.
       “In that case, it is my co-pilot.” Said Fred.

       Quinn and Cracker were walking besides what appeared to be a completed spaceship. It wasn’t a good looking spaceship, it looked like it had been built from the wreckage of a thousand different ships, which is exactly what it had been built from.
       Quinn and Cracker had stopped being scared. The Burps were following them enjoying themselves immensely. The idea of being invaded seemed to make them very happy.
       When Fred walked down the ramp of the ship, Quinn and Cracker were a little surprised.
       “What are you doing here boss?” asked Cracker.
       Fred just looked at them. Then he said “Burps, get them!!!”
       Cracker, Quinn, and Jeeper didn’t know what to think as the Burps grabbed them and tied them up.

       “You know, I don’t think that is Fred,” said Cracker a few minutes later.
       “Of course I am not Frederick,” said the person who had been assumed to be Fred.
       “Who are you then?” asked Quinn.
       “I am Normon,” said the non-Fred.
       “And are you a Yanho too?” asked Quinn.
       “Yes, I am an Yanho. I was the pilot of a ship that crashed here many many years ago. There were only 2 survivors of that crash, myself and a stowaway. The stowaway’s name was Frederick.”
       “What a coincidence, I know a Yanho called Frederick,” said Quinn.
       “He is the same Yanho,” said Normon.
       “And you were a pilot and he was a freeloader?”
       “So that’s why you can build a spaceship from scrap and Fred doesn’t have a clue?” asked Cracker.
       “I think we chose the wrong side in this war,” said Cracker.
       “Hang on, why can’t you two work together and share the spaceship?” asked Quinn.
       “Because we hate each other’s guts!” said Normon.

       “Why?” asked Jeepers (I bet you’d forgotten about him being here, his wheels were tied up).
       “It’s none of your business. In fact I don’t really remember, but I know I hate him, and he hates me more.”
       “You really don’t remember?”
       “I think it’s because he kept pretending he was a pilot as well, and it was his fault we crashed here. That sort of doesn’t make you very friendly with someone.” Said Normon.
       “So why did you build this space ship?” asked Cracker nodding at the one behind him.
       “I got sick of the war. Originally it was just me and Frederick, but then Fred started recruiting other survivors. First he found a fish, and then a jeep. It wasn’t until he found a soldier that it became to important to ignore.”
       Cracker smiled at this (The soldier was him).
       “So I was really lucky. I found a half wrecked ship full of Burps, and I used them to collect all the bits and pieces you see here and I built this ship, but it doesn’t work. So I decided I needed to get the one down on the plain. It has a part that I need to make mine work.” Said Normon.
       “If you’re so much smarter than Fred, why didn’t you take that spaceship to start with?” asked Cracker.
       “Because it doesn’t work either. I looked at it in the first few days I was here. It looks good from the outside, but inside it’s a total mess. One of the only bits that is still intact in the Astromatic Plotter Dohiky. I really need one of them for my ship. When I realised I couldn’t find one on any of the other wrecks I knew I needed to win the war, so I built the funny purple aircraft for the Burps. Aircraft are a lot easier to build then spaceships.”
       “I think I can help you out here,” said Cracker.
       “Really? How?” asked Normon.
       “Untie me, and tell you’re Burps not to attack me no matter what, and I’ll be able to help you.”
       “Ok, it’s a bit of a risk, but I don’t know what else to do” said Normon.
       Normon undid the ropes and told the Burps not to attack no matter what. The Burps thought this was a very exciting order.
       Cracker hit Normon on the head and knocked him out.

       “You were a pilot!” exclaimed Snowy.
       “Yes,” said Frederick, “I had a co-pilot, but he was an idiot, and he is leading the Burps.”
       “We should have told the others before they went. They might think he is you. You cant tell the difference when you are in those suits,” said Snowy.
       “I suppose you are right…. Hey! Someone is walking along the plain!” said Frederick.
       Snowy looked and sure enough there was someone heading in their direction and also in the direction of the spaceship.
       “SHOOT THEM!” yelled Frederick.
       Snowy tried to aim, and pulled the trigger.
       The gun blew up.
       “Bother!!!” said Snowy as he flew into the air.

       Jeeper drove Quinn and Cracker back past the spaceship and back to their camp. Cracker had been looking forward to knocking Frederick out too, but Snowy had already beaten him to it. In fact, Snowy had also knocked himself out. In case you haven’t figured it out, this all happened when the gun exploded.
       The collected them, plus Harold, who was sleeping, and drove them all to the derelict space ship in the middle of the plain. They stopped here and grabbed the Astromatic Plotter Dohiky, which was indeed the only intact part of the ship.
       Next they went back to the other camp, and with the help of the Burps, loaded everyone into the ship. The Burps also loaded their funny looking purple aircraft into the ship because they didn’t want to leave them behind.
       Harold turned out to be a very good mechanic, even though he had no hands, and he installed the Astromatic Plotter Dohiky, and within a few hours, the ship left the planet.

       The first place they went was the Yanho planet where they dropped off Frederick and Normon. They had been planning to do that last, but as soon as they woke up they started arguing, and it was far too noisy for anyone’s liking. After they droped them off, everything was nice a quiet.

       Next they stoped at Thisplaceisverywet and said goodbye to Harold.

       Then they went home, in time for their own funerals, which was quite interesting. Jeeper and the Burps went with them, as they had no where else to go. Cracker had missed his funeral because he had been marooned for much longer, but he stayed and joined the security guards with Quinn.
       Snowy gave up racing and sold soft drink instead and became a millionaire.
       When someone finally got around to charting the planet, they named it Snowy, because Snowy paid them a lot of money to do so. They said it was a pretty stupid name for a desert planet, but they didn’t want to lose the money so they did it anyway.

That was a very lousy end for a rather stupid story, but thanks for reading it anyway.

And in case anyone was wondering where the idea came from, it was from a game I played with my cousin’s toys many years ago. It seemed like a better idea at the time.

This story was brought to you by the anti-soft drink foundation.

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