The Valleys – Tet-Net Ground to Sky Satellite Station – Video Call
Tuesday – late morning
Layan: So let me get this straight. You are now, after all these years, asking me to come back to Aoraki to try and solve your bug problem by working out how to boost the TET cores?
The video call had been a little frosty.
Truth was, it was Saxe, thirty years ago – as an under-secretary to the then Chancellor, who had presided on the Central Committee board of enquiry into The Incident. Saxe had been one of the main political protagonists calling for the removal of Layan from CaSA in Aoraki and his subsequent exile back to the valleys.
It was also true that Layan had absolutely no intention of refusing, but he was not going to pass up an opportunity to make the Chancellor squirm just a little.
Chancellor Saxe: Yes. Bottom line – we need you.
Layan: Very well. But on two conditions, one of which may or may not be possible.
First – I will come back if Altai agrees to come with me, but I warn you – he will be a tougher nut to crack than me.
Second – I want my old office back in the Committee of Resource Allocation Building.
The Valleys – The Black Plum Brewery
Tuesday – afternoon
Layan: So there you have it, the Chancellor needs me. Well… us actually. I told him that I would go back and help on the condition that you come with me. Truth is no one can work lines of computer code like you can, you can see a bug in a program before it even thinks about crossing the Cerulean Meridian.
Bottom line – I need you.
Layan paused for effect
And the planet needs us.
Altai took a long draft from his stein. That world. That time. Those memories that he had spent everyday of the last 30 years trying to forget, only for them to come roaring back like a horn blaring freight train, out of a tunnel of long suppressed feelings.
Altai: And now you tell me that Jaak and his friends are somehow mixed up in all of this?
Layan proceeded to tell Altai about everything he knew; how the boys had found the three cyan stones while camping last summer, the blue cavern, the corpus bugaarium shells, and the strange and unexpected properties the stones possessed. He followed with how the stones had reacted to imminent danger, saving everyone on the school bus from certain death. Also about what Grandpa Snow had told them – the old stories and legends passed down through the generations. The stories about how a race of insectoid creatures many generations ago had come to Cyanos, using the warm volcanic caves as a nursery, stripping the planet bare of all vegetation and crops, only then to leave, leaving behind their last clutch of eggs. These same eggs now transformed by the core energy of the planet, petrified into cyan stones.
Layan: Here’s the thing.
The TETs need more power for their core reactors. Well. We’ve got it. There is a whole cave full of cyan stones, just waiting for us to go and get.
All we need to do is figure out how to boost the core safely. We are the only ones that can do it.
Cyanos has now lost two TETs. We must not and will not lose another.
Also – we will be needing a bigger tunnel into the blue cavern. The skinny naked boy that helped us save our miners, now happens to be in Aoraki with his friends.
Altai upended his stein, wiped his paw across his mouth and sat back.
Altai: OK – I’ll do it.
I will set Tsomo on driving the new tunnel to the blue cavern straightaway. He will know where the opening to the fissure is that Tag was using.
A cask of beer plopped out of the hatch in the floor and soon a head, a red scarf, a blue tunic and a prodigious plate like tail followed.
Zwettl: Gentlemen! How are your steins?
The Valleys – Big John’s Mine
Tsomo’s team were hard at work digging the new tunnel. They had been following and enlarging the narrow fissure that Tag had used when he helped with their rescue. Suddenly, as their drills punched through into the void of the cavern beyond, a cool blue light flooded back down the tunnel to greet them.
Tsomo: Holy flying effing rainbow trout!
Aoraki – The Hundeerde Embassy
Wednesday – morning
Chancellor Saxe: Ambassador, I am here to formally request the assistance of the Hundeerde Government. We urgently request assistance from your hunde-fighter squadrons, to help our planet repel the threat of the Bugaarians.
Ambassador Schönheit: I shall be glad to formally pass on this request to my government. I will personally contact President Fritz to ensure that this matter is given urgent priority and consideration in the Hundeerde Presidentum.
Chancellor Saxe: There’s one more thing Ambassador.
We need to have a chat with your son and his two friends.
Aoraki – Dieter’s House
Wednesday – afternoon
The Ambassador’s and Chancellor’s black limousines both pulled up together outside Dieter’s house. They stepped out and walked side by side to the house. Jarvis was there to meet them.
Jarvis: Good afternoon Chancellor, Ambassador.
Everything is ready as requested.
Ambassador Schönheit: Thank you Jarvis. The Chancellor and I will go through to the living room. Would you please call the boys to come down?
It was not long before the sound of a thousand stampeding mammothants could be heard coming down the stairs, and soon they burst into the living room. While it was not unusual to have important visitors in the house, it did suddenly dawn on Dieter that it was a bit unusual to be asked to come down to a meeting with them.
Dieter: Arrroow? What’s up Dad?
Ambassador Schönheit: Good afternoon boys.
Dieter, you have already met the Chancellor, – Jaak, Tag, may I introduce Chancellor Saxe. He would like to have a word with the three of you.
Please come and sit down – Jarvis has provided us with his excellent triple chocolate chip cookies.
Chancellor, I do highly recommend them.
The three boys sat on the long couch and the Ambassador and the Chancellor took the two armchairs opposite. Tag reached for a cookie, and began to nibble it nervously.
Chancellor Saxe: Good afternoon boys. I’ll come straight to the point.
As you will know, one of our TETs was destroyed by an alien race that calls themselves the Bugaarians.
I have recently spoken with both Grandpa Snow and also with Layan. They told me about the cyan stones that you found and also how you found the blue cavern. We now believe that this is the long abandoned nest that the Bugaarians are seeking.
Cyanos is in a bit of trouble. We are going to need as many cyan stones as we can get, to increase the power of the core reactors of the TETs. I have just heard that a team of miners have broken through into the blue cavern. This is thanks to you three boys. Without you, we would not be in the greatly improved position that we are now in…
At this moment the door bell rang loudly.
Chancellor Saxe: Ah! Right on cue. That may be them now!
Jarvis: Ambassador, Chancellor – Layan and Altai are here.
Now it was Jaak’s turn to be surprised. He was not expecting his Dad, and he certainly was not expecting his Dad to turn up with Layan.
Altai: Hello PJ. How’s the holidays going?
Jaak: Um… er… fine I guess?!
Just as Layan and Altai were sitting down on extra chairs hastily found by Jarvis, the door bell rang again.
This time there was no need for Jarvis to announce the new visitor.
Booming Voice: I CAN WALK PERFECTLY FINE THANK YOU!! I MIGHT BE A CAT OF A HUNDRED AND THREE – BUT I AM NOT USING THAT EFFING WALKER CONTRAPTION!!
Layan: It sounds like Grandpa Snow has arrived.
He had, along with a couple of white uniformed care assistants who seemed determined to walk him safely into the house, whether Grandpa Snow wanted them too or not.
After a bit more chair shuffling by Jarvis, and with the care assistants promptly dispatched back out to the van to wait, everyone was finally seated in the now crowded living room.
Chancellor Saxe: Well hello again, everyone. I was just saying to the boys here that it is thanks to them that we have now found all the cyan stones that we need in the blue cavern.
Well – almost all.
At this the three boys began to squirm slightly in their seats, hoping against hope, that the Chancellor did not mean what they thought he might be meaning. His next words dashed their hopes.
Chancellor Saxe: So boys – do you have your stones with you?
The Chancellor smiled at the boys, one of those weird patronising kind of forced smiles that involves the mouth but not the eyes.
Slowly and hesitantly each of the boys put their paw into their pockets and pulled out their stones and placed them on the coffee table that was in-between them and the adults.
The stones were glowing brightly.
For a few moments no one said anything, everyone mesmerised by the exquisite palate of blue colours, which seemed to change and pulse in intricate and infinite patterns the longer you looked at them.
Chancellor Saxe reached out his paw to pick one of the stones up. The stone immediately whizzed backwards and away from Saxe through the air, and stopped just as suddenly, motionless in front of Tag. The Chancellor, looking both surprised and annoyed, then moved his paw toward the other two stones, and they too whizzed back to Jaak and Dieter, again stopping suddenly in front of them. Everyone sat in stunned silence – well… almost everyone.
Grandpa Snow: Damn blue eyed fool didn’t ask.
All heads now turned to Grandpa and then back to the three boys, still sitting with pensive looks of shock and the three stones floating motionlessly in front of them.
Chancellor Saxe: Oh. Well. Right then. Er – if that is the case, um… er… may I hold one of your stones?
Jaak then very slowly, not taking his eyes off the Chancellor, reached out his paw and took his stone that was still floating in front of him. He then stood and stepped forwards to offer the stone to the Chancellor. As Jaak extended his arm to give Saxe the stone, he suddenly rose in the air and whooshed backwards, straight back into the couch landing with a flump on the soft cushions.
Tag and Dieter then stood and took their stones, and before they could even do anything else, they too both whooshed back into the couch.
Grandpa Snow: It would seem that the stones don’t want to go along with the blue eyed bugle boy after all.
Grandpa, then reached out for a cookie, took a bite and then waved the remaining half in the air.
Grandpa Snow: These really are very good! Is there any milk?