From an observer’s point of view, Commander Hugo appeared to be extremely drunk and boisterously merry as he weaved his way uncertainly down the road singing loudly:
“She’s tall and slinky, but don’t be mistaken;
She has the charm of a large hungry Kraken...”
A laser blast roared past about six inches above his left ear. He froze for a moment, his befuddled brain picturing a menacing sight.
“Just having a bit of fun Supreme Commander,” He spluttered as Morgiana fixed him with a glare that would have chilled the heart of a Bugblatter Beast of Traal*.
“Drunk on duty?” Morgiana asked menacingly. “You were the last person I would have expected that of.”
Hugo thought fast. He couldn’t reveal the real reason of his mission, so, pretending to be drunker than he really was, he grinned ridiculously. “Oh come on Morgi-baby.” He said, placing his hand on her shoulder. “Loosen up a little. All work and no play make Jill a dull girl.”
Morgiana slapped Hugo’s hand from her shoulder and it - Hugo’s hand that is - fell to the ground. Hugo reattached his hand and made a mental note to speak to the prosthesis specialist in the morning.... very severely.
“Party pooper,” he muttered. “You never did develop a sense of fun.”
Morgiana smiled sweetly. “I thought it more important to develop other things like charm and graciousness.”
Hugo looked at her blankly, her humour lost on him.
They were interrupted at this point by the sudden appearance man in striped pyjamas and a maroon and white checked dressing-gown with a fish sticking out of one ear. That is to say, the man had the fish sticking out of one ear, not the dressing gown.
The man, who for the purpose at hand, we shall call Bingle Arthur Bingle, stared at Hugo for a moment before stepping forward to say, somewhat unnecessarily, “I’m here.”
Hugo seemed slightly nervous, but recovering quickly replied.”I’ve been keeping an eye out for you.”
The man with the fish sticking out of one ear choked on the peanuts he had been munching on and said, as Hugo caught his prosthetic eye which had popped out of its socket. “Oh yes, I can see you have.”
“Have you got it?” Hugo whispered.
“What? Oh, oh yes.” Bingle Arthur Bingle replied. “I’ve brought it for you.”
Morgiana interrupted. “Hugo, just what is going on?”
The man called Dent withdrew his hand from his dressing gown pocket and handed Hugo a rectangular, blue object.
“Use this with caution.” The fish-eared man said as the air around him shimmered and he disappeared again.
Morgiana looked at the rectangular blue object Hugo was holding, and saw that it was a blue book. Quite a nice looking rectangular blue book and had inscribed across its flat surface in large friendly letters: “YOUR ELECTRONIC PASS TO THE PAST”.
“You know what this means don’t you Morgiana.”
“Yes, we can go back to a point before the Rebels became powerful and stop them before they start.” She said eagerly as she tried to take it from him.
Hugo snorted and held the book above his head and out of her reach. “No, it means I can go back in time with the winning Lotto numbers.” His eyes took on a dreamy look. “I’ll be able to retire to the South of France.”
Morgiana stamped her foot. “I am the Supreme Commander; I order you to give me that book.”
“Fat chance lady.”
The Supreme Commander made one last desperate lunge for the book and as they fumbled for possession, it slipped from Hugo’s fingers and fell to the ground.
Hugo uttered a strangled cry as it landed in a puddle of rainwater between their feet.
They both reached for the book, but leapt back as it fizzed and popped and hissed like an Alka Seltzer tablet dropped in a glass of water. Suddenly sparks flashed across the cover and a plume of acrid smoke rose up and sent them into a paroxysm of coughing.
When the air cleared they looked down at the book, but all that was left was a blackened piece of blue plastic.
Hugo looked at the Supreme Commander who was doing an impersonation of a cod fish out of water. He grinned and shrugged. “Ahhh well.” He said before turning and making a beeline for the garish lights of the nearest Soma and Adrenalin parlour.
With apologies to Douglas Adams and the Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
For those musically inclined, the song Hugo was singing at the beginning of the story goes to the tune of that old Terran song “My Favourite Things”.
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