Steem Wars: The Voyages of the RS Flying Wardrobe: Episode Six, PO-E-3 at the Poetry Academy
The Steemiverse: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Reader Ship Flying Wardrobe. Its mission: to seek quality content in the Stream of Steem. To curate unknown writers. To boldly upvote posts no man has upvoted before!
Zombie ambled past me in search of the illustrious hacker worm. Another message from R2-BEX2 flashed across the screens. Seven! Get your butt to sick bay and break out the hazmat suits. We need to be ready to decontaminate Jay and Tiny when they get back. Let’s hope that’s all they’ll need.
Seven stood, blinked twice, turned on his heel and ran from the bridge.
I looked around. A blip sounded from the console. Yes. You. The tall one.
“Oh.” I tried not to fidget. “Yes, R2-BEX2?”
You’re sure you can bring Jay in safely?
“Hrrwwwwuuuullllllllllllrrrr.” Liam nodded enthusiastically.
I jabbed him with an elbow. “Hey. I can speak for myself, Lou. None of these guys speak Woolfkie anyway.” I turned back to the screen. “You betcha. But I need a location, and preferably some more intel. What does he look like? How does he sound? And what exactly is this Proget’s disease?”
Jay is a tall, brown-haired Earthman. His accent, so I’m told, is a British one. Here is a likeness of him.
The AI displayed a photo on the screen before continuing with the briefing.
Proget’s is a malignant mutation of the PO-E-3 virus. People who suffer from it are prone to use ridiculously flowery and/or archaic language and they often speak in bad rhyme. For a poet like Jay, it’s pure agony and I’m not sure how much longer he’ll last out there.
She showed me a map with a red dot on it. Below, coordinates were displayed.
This is Jay’s last known location. His last message was sent from the main building of the Poetry Academy, where he researched the effects of PO-E-3 on the minds of different species. I’m assuming the outbreak originated from within the lab, though I can’t imagine Jay being so reckless as to toy with mutated viruses like that. It must have been one of his colleagues.
I nodded, and plugged my TD into an outlet on the console.
Liam walked up next to me, and raised his tail before another cloud of poisonous gas filled the room. The Vegan fanned his face and looked decidedly greener than even a Vegan should.
Suppressing a gag, I held my breath. At this rate, I’d face a horde of Proget sufferers if it got me away from the bridge. “Gah, Lou. No more brains for you, bud.”
“Wwwwrrrrrrrrroooooooollllllmmmmmmrrrrrrrr.” He grinned at me rather sheepishly and reached for the thumb drive.
I shook my head as I backed away. “Oh no you don’t. You’re not coming along this time. You and your biological weapon of ass destruction can stay right here.”
The screen flashed with more lichen-green letters. That reminds me...
The bridge door zipped open and Zombie entered, one black worm nestled among the others wriggling about his head. “Crikey! This Hackworm tickles.” He giggled before settling back into his chair at the control panel.
The Blackworm wiggled forward, looking down at the screen over Zombie’s blue forehead and Zombie stuck out his tongue as he looked sideways and then pressed buttons at a frenzied rate.
The TD bleeped and blurped and booped and then a green light flashed from the top. Zombie unplugged it, looked up at me with a grin, and handed it over. “There ya go. All set.”
I accepted the drive, hit the big button, and giggled as my atoms scrambled themselves up so the drive could beam me over to the surface. The teleportation tickled, as always, and a little shiver ran down my back as my atoms realigned themselves in the proper order.
I found myself in a long corridor with doors on either side. Where would I find Jay? “Might as well start somewhere.” I shrugged and opened a door.
Inside, rows and rows of students sat staring at a man in a suit in front of a blackboard. “You there, Sir. If I should discern thee arriving late and attempting to disguise thy unpunctuality by arriving late to my lecture, I shall surely smite thee with the Poxe!” He pointed at a student, standing at the end of a row, backpack in hand and blushing furiously.
The student nodded and began to stutter. “Yessir! I’m terribly sorry, Professor. Please, don’t act like such an aggressor. I had a flat tire, and no air compressor.”
I closed the door gently and leaned against it. “Well, we have good news and bad. I’m definitely in the Poetry Academy. But the Proget’s is running rampant. Even I know that was awful.” Poor Jay. Who knows how long he’d been forced to live like this?
With a shudder, I continued down the hall, until I came to an elevator. Next to it was a list of floors and what one would find on them. “Ooooh! The lab is in the basement!”
Behind me, a door creaked as it opened. “Hello, there. Maiden tall, and with hair wondrously fair! Hast thou perhaps a moment to spare?”
Oh crap. The jig was up. Instead of waiting for the elevator, I took the door marked Stairs and ran down them. If Jay wasn’t down there, I was in trouble.
I burst into the basement, which looked like it had been invaded by recording equipment and computers. Along one wall hung rows and rows of shelves, full of jars connected with wires to the computers. In each jar floated a brain, suspended in some sort of clear liquid.
Thank Goddess I'd left Liam on the ship. He'd really taken a liking to his new rations and he'd have gone mad at the sight of all these brains
In the far corner sat a man with curly brown hair, curled up, with his hands over his ears. He stared at me with a wild, terrified look in his eyes as he shook his head. “No, not another one. I can’t take it anymore!”
“Jay?” Hesitantly, I took a step forward. “Is that you? It’s OK, I’m here to rescue you.”
He stared up at me. For a moment, I wondered if my antennae were showing, but I knew I’d pinned them down with a hairclip that morning. People tended to look at me funny if they knew I had those.
He opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again. Wow, that was some impersonation of a fish. Not everyone could pull it off that well. Impressed, I nodded to myself. “Come on, we’ve got to get out of here. Someone spotted me right before I entered the stairwell.”
As if on cue, footsteps echoed through the closed door at my back, running down the stairs. Biting back a curse, I dragged a cabinet in front of the door and ran at the guy. “Please say something. ‘I’m Jay,’” would be nice.
“I…” He swallowed. “I’m Jay.”
My left hand was in my pocket, grasping the TD with a death grip, as I stuck out my right hand. “I’m Tiny. Your ticket outta here.”
He sprung to his feet. “Bex sent you? Oh thank heavens. I never thought she'd get someone past the barricade!”
“Let's go, man. There's not a lot of time.”
Shaking his head, he rushed over to the jars of brains. “I can't abandon my research!”
As he began to pull jars of brains from the shelf and disconnecting them, I rolled my eyes. Great. More brains.
He piled the brain jars on the floor, put his hand on top and took mine. I pressed the button on the TD just as the people in the stairwell managed to thrust the door open, punctuated by shouts of “Halt!” and “Cease and desist, lowly scoundrels!”
Our atoms scrambled themselves and flew up through the layers of concrete and steel, towards the Flying Wardrobe. It tickled.
To be continued
For more Steem Wars adventures from the crew of the RS Flying Wardrobe, tune into the blogs of @bex-dk as R2-BEX2, @thinknzombie as Zombie, @idenkcall as Seven O’Data, @damianjayclay as Jay, and @jonknight as Carnif Geb, AKA the petunia.
If you would like to read some of my work, feel free to have a look around on my off-Steem blog page by clicking the banner. My library there contains all of the pieces I’ve written since starting my blockchain adventure.
About the INKubator
As a writer, finding the right community–the right tribe–makes all the difference.
For me, that’s the INKubator. I’m one of the admins there, and I have to say I’ve never been more proud of something I helped build, than I am of the INKubator.
We help each other improve, lovingly drown each other’s drafts in red ink, and help each other brainstorm.
But we’re more than a writing club. We’re a family. We root for each other as we submit pieces for various publication venues.
We cheer and join in victory dances when a piece is accepted.
We support each other through the disappointment of the inevitable rejections.
We hang out, playing as hard as we work, and from the madness of our conversations, more stories are born.
As a community, we span the globe, with members from Asia, Australia, Europe and the US, so chances are there will be someone there if you should decide to drop in.
If we’re quiet, that’s because we’re writing.