Space Quest:Exodus/Chapter 21
Chapter 21: "Welcome to Polysorbate LX. Sorry."
"As we join our heroes, we find them on the verge of ripping each other's throats (or dorsal power cables) out over how to proceed. Can they find a way to get along, or are they destined to become yet another mismatched pair of losers worthy of yet another mindless prime-time sitcom?"
MP-X301 turns off the controls and returns to the back of the ship. "Look, Roy, you may have no honor, but I do. And as much as I'd love to blow Blue Helmet's brains out, we made a deal, and I intend to stick to it." He pokes the button that opens the ramp. *POKE* With a hiss, the entry ramp swivels open again, stirring up a cloud of dirt-rust at its base.
Roy heads over Slim to loot him. "I don't see why you're taking this 'deal' so seriously, I'd have said anything just to get him to give us a safe way to leave this planet on a silver plate, and steal the keys at the first opportunity. Would you seriously think I'd leave this scum breath any more minutes after all the trouble he gave us and after threatening to collect our head for bounty? If he's a single bit like me, he's thinking of a way to do this actually. And why are you opening the ramp, anyway?"
MP-X301 hovers down the ramp. "Ma'am, may I have your laser cutter? I have a situation that needs to be dealt with."
"Ah, certainly." Ah'Choo hands MP-X301 her laser cutter torch.
"Thank you, Ma'am... and good luck." He hovers back into the ship, fires up the cutter and states, "Roy, either turn him loose, or you'll lose a perfectly good set of handcuffs as I cut them off."
Roy gives Slim a quick search, but doesn't find anything other than the (none too fashionable) clothes he's wearing. Roy suspects that Rancid and Molok beat him to all the good stuff (well, Rancid at least, Molok's hands are too big to fit in Slim's pockets). MP-X301, meanwhile, starts waving the cutter torch about in a sabotage-the-handcuff-y manner.
"Fine." Roy removes Cobalt's handcuffs. "He's all yours! It's your problem now."
Cobalt rubs his wrists. "Gee, uh, thanks."
"Very well, Roy." MP-X301 turns off the cutter and pockets it, then turns to Cobalt. "Understand, I've stuck my circuits way out on a limb for your half-baked waste of molecules. Don't make me regret this decision, got me? I don't much relish facing down a man that's saved my bacon for... bacon bits like yours."
Cobalt looks disbelievingly at MP-X301. "Does this mean I can get us moving, or would you prefer to wait around for the *good* bounty hunters to show up?"
"Just get moving before my logic circuits start frying over the mere thought of this."
"Sure thing... I'd hate to tax them any further than they already are." Mumbling to himself, Cobalt stands up and heads for the cockpit. He spins the chair to face him, then half-jumps, half-bombs into it in a manner he's seemingly quite used to. The chair squeaks in protest.
"Aye, let's go. But I'm keeping an eye on both of you. Polysorbate LX, Pinky," Roy orders.
Cobalt turns to face forward and begins punching buttons on the control panel almost as though he knew what he was doing. As he does so, he talks over his shoulder to Roy: "Eh? Oh, right, your friend there. Don't worry, it's not far from where we're going... so to speak."
MP-X301 reaches over and pushes the button to close the ramp, then holds out a hand to Roy, offering a handshake. "Look, Roy... I'll bet there'll be reward money for the passengers and crew of the Extravagance. I'm sorry you couldn't blow out Cobalt's brains..." - his tone indicates he really IS sorry about that - "...but I have to at least try."
Ah'Choo notices the handshake attempt and guesses, "Ah, it seems that detente has perhaps finally been achieved. Somewhat."
The robed figure makes a nodding motion. "Yep."
"Don't touch me, toaster. I never forgot about the crew nor those bastards who're responsible of this whole mess, but I don't see why we should follow, trust, or carry this fool around with us."
As Cobalt continues to push buttons, the ship's engines begin to rev up again. Outside, Ah'Choo and the robed figure step back as the engines kick up a dust storm around the base of the ship.
MP-X301 notices that Roy has refused his handshake, sighs, then heads to the back corner and plugs back into the power outlet. "Toaster?" He shakes his head. "Even Jenkins had more respect than you do. I'll contact the shipping company at our next stop, Roy, and you'll be able to get your toast done the way you like it after that."
Roy pulls Slim into the other back corner before sitting on the seat that's the closest to the rear of the ship.
"I'll keep that in mind next time I need to insult you, tin can."
"Well," Ah'Choo notes dryly as she watches Roy and MP-X301 storm off, "As close as they ever get, anyway."
"If you two are done, you might want to strap in, or not. We're about to leave. Is everybody ready?" Cobalt asks.
MP-X301 secures himself within reach of the outlet, while Roy buckles his seatbelt. Cobalt looks surprised at the quick compliance.
"Dang. Okay, here we go."
The ship hovers up into the air and slowly rotates around to face towards the far horizon. Then, with a sudden roar, the engines flare to life and the ship rockets off into the distance and up into the sky.
MP-X301 finishes off with the simple statement, "Insults are the last resort of the weak of intellect..." and powers down. Roy puts him on the ignore list.
The robed figure looks skyward as the ship vanishes off into the distance with a glint of reflected sunlight. Even after it has gone, he continues to stare after it, almost absentmindedly.
"Ah, is everything all right?"
"Hmm? Oh, yes, quite all right, my dear." He continues to stand there, looking up.
"So, ah, what are we looking at?"
"Hmm? Oh, I'm sorry, I was just thinking."
One hour into the trip, MP-X301 powers up, pulls out a chilled Root Beer from his torso, and plunks it into Roy's cup holder. "This is your in-flight toaster. Your root beer has been chilled to 33 degrees and is now ready for your consumption." He powers off.
"Thank." Roy opens the root beer, throws a couple of antacid capsules in it, and throws it back at MP-X301. "Shove it where you can't, bummer." Roy then spends time removing all the useless junk from his inventory.
The figure turns to look at Ah'Choo, then speaks - but his voice is now lower-pitched and gravelly, thick with mechanical interference. "About the fact that, now that your friends are gone, it's time for me to remove this moronic disguise, beat you into submission, clap you in chains, and bring you to bow at my Master's feet."
Two hours into the trip, MP-X301 powers up again, pulls out a cleaning rag, cleans himself off, then states, "I'm sorry you are unable to drink your own beverage without making a mess. I will program the attendant to provide you with a children's beverage container for your next beverage. Thank you!" He glares at Roy, then shuts off.
"Pathetic Vulgars. So logical, so scientific... and so incredibly gullible. Use the right setup, and they'll believe anything. "Countless innocents"... bah. Frankly, I'm insulted... I was expecting to have to try a bit harder to lure you away from your friends.
Ah'Choo's eyes go wide as the robed figure casts aside his robes off-camera, then screams in B-movie-esque horror as a terror-filled shadow looms ominously over her...
MP-X301 powers up at 3 hours in, then pulls out his laser rifle arm and begins cleaning and checking it. "So, Roy... think Ah'Choo's going to be OK?"
Roy keeps ignoring him.
MP-X301 shakes his head and pulls out his Electronic Notepad. "Log Entry, after the destruction of the Contrived Extravagance. Engineer Ah'Choo has been called away on urgent business, leaving me to deal with passenger Roy alone. Our recent travails on the planet Junk have left us with precious few leads, and keeping Roy from killing the only one we have is turning out to be a full time job.
"We have a very untrustworthy bounty hunter in tow now, one Cobalt, who I trust as far as I can throw, and Roy, who I trust, but whose goals seem to be incompatible with the rescue of our crew and passengers."
Cobalt pipes up. "Okay fellas, we're here."
MP-X301 pulls his head out of his log entry. "Ah, thanks, Cobalt..."
The rainbow cascade of colors outside the cockpit abruptly fades back into the ever-present field of distant suns. The view moves and suddenly a large, somewhat oily-looking planet occupies most of the view.
MP-X301 looks out at the planet. "Tell us about your contact here."
"Contact? Er, no, we're here for your friend's bounty. We'll deal with the rest after that. I'd do it first, but frankly I'd rather not piss your green friend off any more than absolutely necessary..."
Roy ignores the exchange and puts his mask on.
MP-X301 readies his rifle arm. "Well, Roy... do you want to deal with your bounty alone? Shall I stay here and guard Cobalt and the ship?"
Roy draws his pistol, makes sure Slim's still handcuffed and doing the tied sausage dance, and keeps ignoring MP-X301.
MP-X301 kicks back in his chair. "Mmm, well, I guess Silence DoBad here is going to do what he wishes. I guess it's just you and me, Cobalt. Want to play cribbage?"
The ship dives down through the thick polluted layers of Polysorbate's atmosphere. Before long, an almost endless expanse of cityscape appears below, dotted with a thousand glowing points of low-wattage light.
Cobalt speaks up. "Actually, I was planning to go with him to see Slobba. I've got some business to take care of with that slimy, low-down, good-for-nothing slug-butt."
"Ah... I see... perhaps I should... ah... keep an eye on the ship..."
"Yeah, like I'm leaving you alone with it. Last time, you hot-wired it, shot at me, and nearly KILLED me."
"You just happened to be in the way. Besides, it wasn't hot-wired. The computer and I came to an understanding of sorts." MP-X301 thinks to himself, "Yeah, if it had been hot-wired, Cobalt couldn't have flown it when I'D gotten done, unless Cobalt had a computer interface in his head."
"You're not seriously thinking I'll split this bounty with ya, are you?" Roy pipes up.
"I don't want your bounty... uh, whatever your name is. At this point, all I want is some sleep and a nice hot cup of the toxic sludge that passes for coffee around here."
MP-X301 looks out the window, wondering when they will land.
"Okay, we've landed."
MP-X301 gets out of his chair and smacks the button to open the ramp, while Roy unbuckles his seatbelt. The ramp opens, and immediately the foul stench of urban smog rolls into the ship, assaulting Roy and Cobalt's nostrils. MP-X301 deactivates his olfactory sensors.
Roy walks over to Slim, points his pistol at Cobalt and says, "No. Do yourself a favor and stay in the protection of tin can over there, and bring him to your contact so he can save his precious crew. In the meantime I'll go collect the bounty, hire a few trustable fellas who wouldn't get in my way, and get my revenge over those bastards who put me in the company of robot over there, my own way." Roy then pulls Slim to his feet and handcuffs his free hand to him.
"Fine, whatever." Cobalt looks at MP-X301 curiously as he starts hunting around the ship for a communications terminal of some kind, hoping to call his employer.
"What're you looking for?"
"Comm station. I promised I'd try and call the cruise line company when we got to the next planet."
"Not on my long-distance bill, you're not. There's an information kiosk down the street from here, you can use it to make a call." Cobalt stands up out of his chair and sighs tiredly. "Man, I need a beer."
MP-X301 switches back to his regular arm. "Thanks... Need me to find a repairman while I'm at it? I can call 800-FIX-SHIP..."
Cobalt starts down the ramp, then turns to look at MP-X301. "C'mon. I'll show you where the kiosk is, and then you can get a map if you feel like exploring further. Your friend might be occupied for a while..."
MP-X301 follows Cobalt, while Roy points his gun at Slim's back and throws a, "C'mon, scum, start walking," before prodding him with the gun. Slim, who is unable to walk due to his legs being tied, instead begins hopping along like some sort of Frankensteinian tentacle creature.
Everybody files down the ramp and out into the open. Cobalt produces his remote from somewhere and presses a button. As the ramp closes again, a set of small running lights positioned around the cockpit blink once while the ship emits a loud chirping sound.