The last of humanity is frozen like popsicles, traveling from star to star. These guys, Sparkie and Spazoid have to find the popsicle people a new home. No pressure right? Unfortunately the partners crashed on alien planet and they’re going to go through some evil, face-hugging, Easter-bunnies to get their rockets back. On the way, they’re joined by a complaining goat and an insane alien robot.
Click on the pics.
Meet the Boys on the way to the Ground
High above the surface of an alien world, our heroes plummet toward the ground.
“We’re in trouble,” Spazoid’s voice echoed through the cockpit.
“We’re still flying, aren’t we?” Sparkie asked. His hand was on the center stick pulling back hard. It was a pointless effort. The glass canopy above his head glowed red as the wind screamed by. They were going too fast.
“No, what we’re doing is falling. And those things we flew by-”
“Yeah, the floating rocks. That was weird.” Sparkie looked back at the mountain they scraped, noticing there wasn’t anything underneath it.
“Yes they were odd, but that’s not what I meant. I meant the other things. Those were our thrusters, my thrusters! When you flew us into that rock you knocked them off,” Spazoid accused his partner.
The explorers were heading to the alien planet anyway, but the plan had been to get there in one piece. Working rockets would’ve helped with that.
“Technically, the rock knocked them off,” Sparkie shot back. He was still holding the control stick, trying to pull his ship, which was also his friend Spaz, out of a steep dive. The panel in front of him counted down as the surface of the planet came closer and closer.
“You should probably let me fly,” Spaz suggested. He wanted to be on his way back to the Ark, their mothership. It was a lifeboat for the human race. It took a spin around this planet and was now hurtling away. Motherships weren’t big on stopping and that was fine. Sparkie and Spaz could catch up as long as they had three working rockets . . . Oh, wait- that might be a problem.
“Come on, letting you fly is no fun. Besides, are you saying you saw that mountain?” Sparkie was looking around to make sure no more peaks came sneaking up on him, as mountains sometimes do.
In the snug cockpit turning around wasn’t easy. It was big enough for a kid because, to all appearances, that’s exactly what Sparkie was, a ten-year-old boy wearing a space suit and helmet. You might ask, ‘why chose a boy to save the human race?’ Well, it’s complicated, so we’ll get to it later . . . Like way later, maybe not even in this book, but hang on for a bit because these two are in trouble and may die soon.
Back to Spazoid, the complaining spaceship, “In fact, I warned you about the rocks, but you thought they warranted further investigation.” On a good day, Spazoid had one of those know-it-all voices. It got worse when he was actually right.
“Well, they’re flying mountains, you don’t see that every day,” Sparkie said.
“But did you have to ignore me when I yelled-”
“TOO CLOSE,” Sparkie interrupted his friend. He twisting the stick hard, avoiding another peak that came sneaking out from behind the clouds. Like the others, it floated in the air weightless.
“What’s up with these things, anyway? Why are they like that?” Sparkie looked back over his shoulder.
“Like what?” Spazoid asked.
“Hard, big or floating, you pick which one you think I mean.”
“It’s probably the energy you wanted to check out. The reason you suggested landing on this planet even though it would make a terrible new Earth.”
“I know. We got a mission, to save the human race, yada, yada, yada. Back to those strange readings? Is that what’s causing this?”
Spazoid didn’t feel like talking about it again. His focus was on the problem at hand, their eventual crash. Still, he said in a dark tone, “Something happened to this world, something bad. Of course, you, being you, you dragged me along to look into it.”
Sparkie seemed to be in deep thought. Perhaps he was considering the danger they were in, then his young face broke into a smile. “How ‘bout your parachutes? You got those right?”
“What, no, we’re going too fast. They’d rip right off,” Spazoid answered. He was a little annoyed the kid had thought of it first.
“So slow us down.” Sparkie turned and looked over his shoulder. He could see one last thruster stuck to Spazoid’s tail fin. They’d shut it down earlier when they lost the other two. Using it by itself would’ve put them into a spin. “Just turn it around,” Sparkie said. “Do your adaptive thing.”
It was mentioned earlier that Sparkie was complicated, but he isn’t the only one. The same could be said of Spaz. Don’t worry, I won’t make you wait to find out why. See at the moment Spazoid was a spaceship, or more accurately an Orbital Insertion Device. In fact, his entire name was Simulated Personality Adaptive Zero Gravity Orbital Insertion Device. If that’s not complicated then I don’t know what is.
“We’re going a thousand kilometers per hour. Do you know how fast that is?” Spaz asked.
“Very,” Sparkie snapped. “Now just do it.”
If Spaz could’ve crossed his arms and stared at Sparkie, he would’ve. Of course, he was a spaceship, without arms, so that wasn’t an option. But the ‘Simulated Personality’ part of his name really made him want to.
It was the ‘A’ that mattered most now. It stood for ‘Adaptive. Which, in his opinion, was a shabby definition of his abilities. Being ‘Adaptive’ was very useful, as we’re about to find out.
Sparkie was still looking back, waiting for his friend to start changing. It was only a small change this time. The thruster, which looked like a rocket attached to his tail fin, wiggled to one side then the other. For a moment, it looked like it was going to fall off, but then it fired a short burst, giving it enough force to spin around.
It locked into place, pointing in the wrong direction. “Can I please have the controls?” Spazoid asked.
“I’ll handle it,” Sparkie said, reaching for the stick. Before he ever touched it, the thruster burst with flame.
“Hey,” Sparkie yelled. “I said I got it.”
“Oh, you did? I’m sorry, I was busy ignoring you. Now leave me alone while I try to control myself.”
Sparkie sat back in his seat crossing his arms, grumbling. Reversing the thruster was his idea, and this was his mission, but it was a simple fact that you couldn’t pull rank on a guy when he was your ride, or when you were riding in him.
Sparkie watched short bursts come from the thruster. Spazoid had all his flaps open, creating drag across his stubby wings.
Sparkie looked at their airspeed. It was dropping, but so was their altitude which is the distance between them and the hard surface of the planet. “So about those parachutes. You know the ones you were going to open when we slowed down enough?”
“What about them?”
“Any plan on using them.”
“Don’t worry. I have no intention of crashing again.”
“What crash?” Sparkie asked, honestly confused.
“You knocked my thrusters off! That’s a crash,” Spaz said, his voice turning high and tight in astonishment.
“That doesn’t count,” Sparkie answered.
“We were flying. We hit a rock. Hence crash.”
“Man . . . Fine. Call it whatever you want,” Sparkie glanced at the altitude. “But yours is going to be so much worse if you don’t use those parachutes.”
There were a few more bursts from the thruster. “We’re still going too fast.”
“I agree. We’re going way too fast- TOWARD THE GROUND!”
“Fine. You want’em? Here you go.” There were two small popping sounds. Sparkie heard the lines running out from Spaz’s back. Sheets billowed up into the air and filled like balloons. Then there was a hard tug. By ‘tug’ I mean a gut retching jerk, that slammed Sparkie’s jaw shut.
The parachutes pulled them to a sudden stop. . . Okay, it wasn’t a complete stop. They were still falling, but now they were moving at a more leisurely pace towards the mysterious planet below. Thick clouds made it hard to tell where the ground or the floating mountains were.
“Did you enjoy that?” Spazoid asked. “Because I sure didn’t.”
“I’m, um . . . fine,” Sparkie was trying to clear his head. His whole body felt like it’d been smashed with a rock. He blinked a few times but he was still fuzzy. When he looked outside the canopy, he saw what was indeed, a giant rock.
It took him a moment to realize that they were falling past another one of those floating mountains. It’d come out of the clouds directly in front of them. He watched as cracks and crevices went past. They stopped suddenly.
“Well, that’s not good,” Spazoid said.
“What’s not good?” Sparkie asked, still feeling jarred from their first stop, which was actually a drastic slowing. By comparison, their second was mild. They were gently bouncing off a cliff, blowing in the breeze.
“Our parachute is stuck.”
“So you’re saying we crashed? You’re saying you did it too?”
Spazoid let out a long breath. He, of course, didn’t need to breathe, but as his ‘Personality’ was ‘Simulated,’ he allowed himself such human expressions of frustration. “Yes, I’m saying I did it too.”
“HA, see these mountains are tricky.” Sparkie unbuckled his safety harness and climbed to the edge of the cockpit. Far below them was the dark surface of the world. “So, um, how do you suppose we’re going to get down from here?”
“I’ve no idea, but it’ll probably include more crashing,” Spaz answered.