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The Challenge

The writers had fifteen minutes to write a Quest story. Theme items included a plastic flamingo, a sword, a globe of Mars, a snake, a chicken, and an artichoke.

Iron Author SF's Story

"I need more power!"

Lieutenant McGonnigle sneered at Captain Blowhorner. He was constantly=20 asking for more power like the damn stuff grew on trees or something. "I'm working on it," McGonnigle said in a tight voice.

"Well, work harder, dammit! If we don't get out of this gravity well quickly, we'll never make it off this damn moon."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," McGonnigle muttered. He swiped his hand across the console to brush another spider off it. Some spaceships were infested with rats, but the S.S. Nesfa was overwhelmed with spiders. Even though Ensign Olson had brought a snake on board strictly speaking, against regulations, but at least it cut down on the spiders. Not enough, but one did what one could.

Captain Blowhorner checked the readouts on his console. "It's not happening. If we don't make it out on this next orbit, we'll never get this sword back to Earth."

McGonnigle had no bloody clue what the big deal was about that sword. They were in the midst of a fierce war against the Arisians. Billions had died on both sides, but Earth was losing the battle.

And yet, despite this, the Nesfawhich admittedly was not the strongest or most powerful ship in the Earth fleethad been diverted to this godforsaken moon to find a sword of all things. I mean, he thought, it's one thing to seek out a weapon or a new technology or something, but what in the heck are we going to do with a sword?

Entering commands quickly into his console, McGonnigle diverted power to the propulsion system from the galley and the other lower decks.

Five, he thought, four, three, two, one.

A voice came over the intercom. "Hey! What the hell're you doin', takin' power away from the galley?" It was the ship's cook, Chief Martin.

Blowhorner said, "If we crash into the moon, it won't matter if we never eat again, mister, now get off this frequency!"

"All right, fine," Martin said, "but this artichoke-and-chicken stew is just ruined."

"We've cleared the atmosphere," McGonnigle said just as the Nesfa did so.

Pounding the arm of his command chair in a dramatic manner, Blowhorner said, "Hit the hyperdrive, NOW!"

McGonnigle held his breath, hit the button to engage the hyperdrive, and tried to swallow his lunch, which was already welling up.

The hyperdrive engaged. McGonnigle felt like someone had reached into his mouth, ripped out his stomach, jumped on it three or four times, then stuffed it back into his body through his ear.

After several eternities that only lasted three seconds, they came out of hyperdrive

right in the middle of a battle in orbit of Earth. The Arisian ships, as usual, looked like giant pink flamingoes. It made it hard to take them seriously until they fired their frag cannons.

Blowhorner picked up the sword. "We fought for days for this sword, and almost died. Now it's time."

He read the inscription on the sword. "Klaatu barata niktu!"

Suddenly, the necks on the pink flamingoes seemed to stretch.

Then all the Arisian ships blew up in a fiery conflagration. Unfortunately, all the nearby Earth ships were hit for shrapnel.

And then the hyperdrive reading started to spike.

McGonnigle realized what this meant and said, "Oh shi"

That was when the ship blew up.

The war was over.


Posted with Keith R.A. DeCandido's permission.