Author: Mr Nelg PM
A total rewrite of the movie, the way I would do it.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - Lem & Chuck - Chapters: 8 - Words: 58,101 - Reviews: 61 - Favs: 36 - Follows: 50 - Updated: 08-11-12 - Published: 12-18-09 - id: 5589362
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: Sorry for taking this long. This time, it wasn't writers block, but rather my own dissatisfaction with the chapter. I did a few rewrites on it. Anyway, let's get the ball rolling. There's lot of things I want to talk about in my story and these LOOOOOOONG updates aren't making anybody happy. As all ways, constructive criticism wanted.
The streets were almost deserted. Not that Lem was complaining. That made the job of getting to Haglog's Comics all the more easier. They'd driven the Jeep as close to the town as they dared possible, then hid it in the shrub on the side of the road. Getting into town proved to be a lot easier than first thought. There were no guards on the bridge like there had been earlier. Where had they all gone?
Lem stopped wondering about that as he was just grateful that they were no longer there. After they crossed the bridge, they were in the town. Shops and houses were boarded up or closed. The sounds of people and traffic could still faintly be heard off in the distance but you had to stand still and really listen.
They kept to the shadows, moving from building to building via alleyways. Sometimes, they had to make a mad dash across the street, but no one was around to raise the alarm. Chuck kept looking at the different shop windows that he passed and sometimes, much to Lem's annoyance, would stop to look at the merchandise on display. Once he even broke cover to look into an appliance store. He'd asked Lem about the dish washer being advertised but Lem kept him going.
It was getting late in the afternoon by the time they finally reached the comic shop. They approached the front door before Eckle halted them.
"I'd better go in first," he warned. "Skiff might freak out if he sees you with the alien," he pointed at Lem. Lem raised an eyebrow.
"What, he won't freak out about Chuck?"
"He sent me after you, because he believes you're up to no good." Eckle answered and Lem groaned. Skiff had been dead set on believing that he'd been under alien mind control.
"Just make it quick," he said, looking around at the street behind them. "I don't want to keep Chuck in the open any longer than necessary."
"I'll meet you around the back then." Eckle said. "By the rear exit. Go through the Left alley and it's right next to you, on the right." Lem nodded, and as he turned to grab Chuck, something caught his eye. Floating around the street, was a bright purple flyer with bold red writing on it. Lem frowned. There was something interesting about that flyer that caught his eye, but he bumped into Chuck who he realised was pressing his face up against the display window of the comic shop.
Lem hurriedly took hold of Chuck's arm, dragging him towards the back as Chuck was busy looking at the comics on display and wanted to know more about them. Lem assured him that there would be time later for a through explanation, but they had to get out of sight.
The rear exit was where Eckle said it was and Lem waited, while trying best to answer Chuck's questions about every mundane thing that was in the back alleyway.
Lem wasn't sure how much time passed while he was talking to Chuck, but just as he was trying to explain what a trash can was, the door lock clicked, opened, and Eckle's head emerged. "Okay Lem," he said. "He's ready."
"Hold on to your antenna," Lem muttered, as he took Chuck's hand and led him inside.
"What antenna?" Chuck asked as they walked through the door. Lem was about to answer when he paused. Skiff was standing before them, but he was inside two Hessian sacks. He was standing inside one which covered up to his waist, and wore the other over the rest of his body, completely covering himself. Two eye holes were cut in the top one so that he could see out.
"What was to be demonstrated." Lem said with an air of 'I Told You So.'
"Now hold on there," the bags said. "This is just a precaution. In case your alien master turns out to be contagious."
"Master! Oh for the love of –! Wait! What?" Lem turned to look at Chuck, still holding his hand.
"Did you ever stop to think that it might be caring germs?"
"That's...!" He paused, before looking back at Chuck, then down at his hand, still holding Chuck's. He slowly let go.
"Lem?" Chuck asked, confused. Lem gave Chuck a fearful look. What had he been exposed too? Suddenly he shook his head and glared back at Skiff.
"Wait a minute, how the Pit is THAT supposed to protect you from germs?" He demanded, pointing at Skiff's getup. The bags shifted nervously.
"Well, you're supposed to do this in case of an atomic war." Came the response.
"Oh for -!" Lem threw his arms up into the air in frustration, before stalking over and slamming the rear exit door shut. He then marched over to Skiff with an annoyed expression, and ripped off the top bag.
"Hey!" Skiff cried out, and before anyone could do anything, Lem held up his hand, the one he'd used to hold Chuck's, so Skiff could get a good look at it before rubbing it right in his face.
Skiff screamed as he fell over backwards, clawing at his face. "I'm melting! I'm melting!" Lem looked to Ekle who only shrugged.
"Skiff," Ekle said walking over to him, "You face is not melting. You're fine." Skiff stopped clawing at his face and sat up. He carefully felt his face and sighed with relief.
He kicked off the bag from his feet and stood up. "We haven't got any alien germs, Skiff," Lem said as Skiff shot him a dirty look.
"And you know this how?" He asked.
Lem looked at Chuck. "I've been in contact with Chuck for nearly two days now. Think about it, if we HAD any germs that would be harmful, we'd be showing some kind of symptoms." Or at least he hoped that was the case. If Skiff were right, then it would already be too late, and if that was the case, then he wanted to take Skiff with him.
"What germs, Lem?" Chuck asked. Skiff turned at the sound of Chuck's voice.
"It can speak our language?" Lem opened his mouth but Skiff silenced him with an absent wave of his hand. "Yes, yes, I heard it before when it spoke your name, but I wasn't entirely sure it could speak." He walked up to Chuck and scrutinised him with a long hard look. He then placed his finger tips on his head, near his antenna as he closed his eyes, his face showed hard concentration. Suddenly, he stopped, looked up and gave Lem a quick once over, before looking back at Chuck. "I can't detect any strange mental waves, so that knocks out my alien mind slave theory."
Lem just rolled his eyes. Skiff then turned back to Chuck and patted his chest. "Skiff," he said. Chuck gave him a quizzical looked. Skiff then leaned in so close to Chuck that Chuck did a double take. "Skiiiiiifff!"
"Uh!" Lem quickly placed himself between Skiff and Chuck after noticing that Chuck was reaching towards the bulge in his pocket. "You have to be calm and patient with him," Lem said. "Speak softly and slowly."
Chuck cocked his head to one side. "Chuck no understand Skiff."
"You and me both, buddy," Lem said quitely. He then turned to Chuck. "Chuck," he said getting the alien's attention. He then pointed at Skiff. "Skiff." He then added with an expression that looked like he'd been forced to swallow a bitter pill, "Skiff, good. Not bad. Good."
"Skiff, friend." Ekle added.
"Friend?" Chuck asked.
"Friend good," Lem said. "Ekle and Skiff. Friend. Friends."
"Friends." Chuck said as the expression on his face showed he was thinking about this. He looked over at Lem and smiled. "Lem and Chuck, friends. Ekle and Chuck, friends." He then turned to Skiff. He hesitated before looking back at Lem. "Skiff and Lem... Not friends?" Both Skiff and Lem looked at each other.
"Uhh, Chuck!" It was Ekle who broke in. "Ekle, Skiff's friend. Chuck stay. Hide. Chuck hide with Skiff."
"Chuck hide with Skiff?" He looked back at Skiff and then said something in human.
Skiff startled everybody with an almost super sonic squeal. "By the Rings!" He cried out. "Actual alien language!" He moved in dangerously close to Chuck again with a huge grin. "Say something else!"
Chuck stared back at Skiff with a confused look, before turning to Lem. "Skiff... Funny," he said to Lem with a worried look. Funny? Lem suspected it wasn't because Skiff amused him.
"Relax, alien Chuck!" Skiff said before anybody could answer, "Your good friend Skiff will look after you." He winked at Ekle. "You made a wise discussion brining it to me. Being an expert in all matters of alien life and all things alien and such." He paused, before shooting Lem a concerned look. "Uhh, how exactly dose it use the bathroom?"
That question actually peaked Lem's interest. "I... don't know." He answered as he looked at Chuck. Did humans even need to use the bathroom?
"Okay, okay, we'll burn that bridge when we get to it, so, what dose it eat? Are our foods poisonous to it's internal organs?" Lem could only blink.
"I... don't know that ether."
Now Skiff looked annoyed as he leaned in closer to Lem with his hands on his hips. "Okay, dose it drink water then?" Lem only shrugged. "Well, how often dose it sleep? How do I know when it's in pain? Dose it mark it's territory? What are the signs it's ready to mate?" Lem could only spread his hands in ignorance to the questions. Skiff let out a half strangled noise of frustration as he spun about and headed for the store front. "I'm going to call my mom, let her know that I'll be staying here tonight."
Ekle looked over at Lem. "How am I supposed to know these things?" Lem asked in defence. "I mean, it's not like Chuck showed me. I mean, I just spent most of my time teaching him how to speak."
"Lem? What bathroom?" Chuck asked.
"It's..." Lem sighed and shrugged. "Oh, come with me." He took Chuck's hand and led him into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. Ekle stood there watching the door, and jumped when a startled cry came from within. Ekle was about to rush forward when he realised that cry came from Chuck. There was a few more moments of eerie silence before the toilet flushed and the door opened. Lem looked embarrassed while Chuck looked horrified.
"Well, that's settled." They all turned to see Skiff returning from the front office. "Mom will be showing up later with some home cooked food for me, but that's no biggy, I can hide Chuck from... What's up with you two?" He asked.
"Chuck now knows what the bathroom is and let's just leave it at that." Lem said.
"I wish I had just a little knowledge of Chuck's biology," Skiff said moving on. "That way I could at least know what kinds of food matter would be safe for him to eat."
Chuck looked at Lem and before he could ask, Lem said, "Food, Chuck. Skiff, know not people food good to humans." Chuck opened his mouth to respond, but he grimaced instead. He then muttered something in human as he crossed his arms and sulked. "Chuck?" Lem asked. "What wrong?"
"Objects," Chuck said. "Objects know people food good or bad. Objects gone." Oh.
"What's this Objects?" Skiff asked.
"Chuck had all this equipment with him." Lem answered. "Human gadgets of all sorts. He was forced to leave them all behind when we fled the Planetarium. He's not too happy about that decision."
"Alien technology? Fascinating." Skiff rubbed his chin, and then shrugged. "Too bad, it would've been interesting to study." He turned back to look at Chuck. "But back to the point, My biggest concern is the food problem. I'd like to try trail and error, but that could be deadly to Chuck. Food that's perfectly fine to our biology could be harmful or even fatal to our alien friend." He then paused, before asking, "Chuck? Chuck got human food? Got human food here?"
Chuck nodded, and reaching into a pocket in his blue leg coverings and pulled out a dull yellow package with red symbols on it. "Twix," he said, before handing it to Skiff.
"Right," Skiff said taking the package. "Twix must mean food. Now, let's see." He look at it in his hand. He turned the end around, and squeezed it, before repeating the processes on the other end. "Chuck?" He asked. "Open? How open?" Chuck took the package back and tore the end off, before handing it back. "Wow," Skiff marvelled as he felt the skin of the package between fore finger and thumb. "I've never seen materiel like this before." He walked over to the bench and with both Ekle and Lem looking over his shoulder, he carefully upended the package and two long thin brown logs slid out.
"Eww," Ekle cringed. "That's gross! It looks like..."
"What's it made of?" Lem cut in, leaning in closer.
"Good question," Skiff mused as he opened a drawer and pulled out two scalpels used for model building. He stabbed one of the logs and carefully cut it in half. There was a crunching sound as he cut, and as he spread the two halves apart, a thick aurulent substance oozed out.
"That looks like jelly," Ekle commented. Skiff held up the half that was skewered on the scalpel in and sniffed.
"That smells strangely familiar." He muttered. Suddenly, before anyone could say anything, he took a small bite, chewed and swallowed. Both Lem and Ekle backed off, as if expecting Skiff to exploded. There was a dramatic silence in the room that seemed to last for hours. "It's candy," Skiff suddenly said. He eyed the rest of the log. "Not to bad ether." He then pulled the uneaten half off, and tossed it into his mouth.
The two brothers let out a collective sigh of relief. "So, dose that mean our food is okay for Chuck to eat?" Lem asked.
"Possibly," Skiff answered as he swallowed the last of the human candy. "What it dose mean is that they can eat sugar. It also opens up many other possibilities as well." He smiled. "I do believe it's okay to go ahead with the trial and error option after all." He paused. "But only with the basics. Like vegetables. No spices, seasoning's, flavourings, and other add ons."
"What about meat?" Lem asked. Skiff shrugged.
"It's possibly harmless to him, but we're not too sure. At the moment, we know that sugar is harmless. That comes from plants, not meat. Then of cause, we have the whole problem of knowing whether or not humans are..." He paused in mid lecture as if thinking about his problem before turning to Chuck. "Chuck, open mouth."
"Mouth?" Chuck asked.
"Mouth," Skiff said, pointing at his own, then opened his. "Open mouth." Chuck did so, and Skiff leaned in for a better look. He hummed, before reaching back into the desk drawer and pulling out a flash light. He took a step towards Chuck, before leaning close to Lem and asking, "Just making sure, but dose he spit acid?" Lem shot him a disproving glare and Skiff apologetically nodded, before walking over to Chuck. He shone around inside Chuck's mouth and hummed with interest.
"What are you doing?" Lem asked.
"Looking at his teeth," Skiff answered as he leaned back and motioned for the others to gather around. As they did, Skiff shone the flash light back inside Chuck's mouth and leaned back so that the others could see. "Take a look at this. The side and rear teeth are flat-like, but the front teeth are narrow and pointed."
"Cool!" Ekle said, craning for a better look.
"What's that mean?" Lem asked.
"It means, that our alien friend here is omnivorous." Skiff answered leaning back.
"Omni-what?" Ekle asked.
"It means Chuck can eat both meat and vegetables," Skiff answered. "This is incredible. Most mammals are ether herbivores or carnivores."
"That means they eat ether plants or animals," Lem said to Ekle.
"I never thought that they could evolve to be both. Look! The front teeth are for slicing while the side and rear are for grinding. Fantastic!"
"I thought most mammals ate plants?" Ekle asked.
"They do, they do," Skiff said. "But, mammals only make up a small portion of our planet's animal life, and those that do, are ether the lesser carnivores or more numerous herbivores; Not both. The majority of animal life on our world are reptiles, and a vast majority of them, like our selves, are capable of subsisting on a wide variety of food sources." He turned to look back at Chuck who had now closed his mouth and was watching all three of them with confused fascination. "My guess is that since Humans are mammals, the majority of the animal life on Chuck's world are mammals that are omnivores."
"So dose that mean he can eat OUR meat?" Ekle asked.
"I believe it dose," Skiff answered. They were interrupted by the phone ringing from the front of the shop. "Excuse me," Skiff said as he jogged out the door.
Ekle turned and gave a sly smile to his brother. "So, I guess I made the right call, bringing Chuck to Skiff?"
Lem nodded back. "Yeah, I guess you did." He ruffled his brothers cap playfully. "You've got some smarts in there."
"Okay, okay," Lem said defensively. "Skiff has too. I guess he's not a total space cadet."
"Ekle?" Skiff called out from the front of the shop. "It's your mother." Both brothers looked at each other, before looking around the shop, trying to find a clock to see what the time was.
"What time is it?" Ekle asked.
"I guess we lost track of it," Lem answered. "Tell Mom we're leaving right away." Ekle nodded and headed for the front office.
"Lem go?" Chuck asked.
"Yes, Chuck," Lem answered. "Lem go. Lem back tomorrow."
"Skiff good, Chuck. Skiff not hurt Chuck. Skiff funny, BUT, Skiff good." Hearing that from Lem seemed to calm Chuck down.
"Lem?" Ekle came back in followed by Skiff. "Mom's a little worried that we didn't come home." Lem rolled his eyes. "She said Dad's going to come pick us up on the way back from the power plant." Lem nodded. "She doesn't want us walking home by our selves since the bus's no longer do night time services."
Again, Lem looked around for a clock. What time was it? He wished there was a window or something that allowed him to see out, but was also glad that there weren't any in case people could look in and see Chuck.
Chuck on the other hand gradually got over his suspicion of Skiff, as he started exploring the back room of the comic shop, asking about this and that. Skiff was more than happy to explain what comics where, although he went a little to in depth with some of the super hero's, completely losing the human.
Eventually, there was a knock at the front door, signalling the arrival of their father. Skiff checked to make sure, and both Lem and Ekle said their goodbye's to Chuck, promising to return the next day.
"You two seem like you've had a good day," Lem's dad said as they exited the shop. "And what where you up to? Your clothes are filthy!" Lem and Ekle looked at each other.
"We were helping Skiff around the store," Ekle said before Lem could reply. "Some of the back store cupboards haven't been cleaned out in a while."
Lem's dad snagged the bottom of Ekle's shirt between two fingers. "It looks to me like you've been running around in the bushes," he said. He paused, then added, "Have you been swimming?"
"A pipe burst," Ekle said. "It was my fault, really. I wasn't following the proper directions and..." He finished off with a half shrugging motion. Their father just 'humphed' before he nodded towards the car.
"You're mother's going to have the final word on that," he said. And then to Lem's surprise, he smiled. "But it seems like you two enjoyed your selves. It's great to see you two getting along." They all got in the car and drove off.
"Mom's not too upset with us, is she dad?" Lem asked, as they headed down the main road.
"Your mother worries Lem," his father replied with a snort. "She's... WHOA!" He slammed on the breaks just as an army truck filled with soldiers zoomed around the corner, followed quickly by another, and another. Six in total shot around the corner and raced off down the street. "Well, it looks like somebody's in a hurry." Their father muttered, adjusting his glasses. Both Ekle shot Lem a worried glance, before Lem assured him with a nod, and pointed in the direction of the trucks, before pointing in the direction of the comic shop to let Ekle understand that they were heading for a completely different destination. That calmed down his brother some what.
Soldiers were everywhere as they drove along. Most likely by now that they had discovered the discarded Jeep and were combing the town for the alien. That made Lem paused. Would they search every building? If that was the case, they could search Haglogs comics. Lem began to wonder if it really was such a bright idea leaving Chuck with Skiff.
"Hey, what is this?" Lem looked up to see that they were approaching their temporary home. But in the driveway were three Jeeps, and soldiers were positioned strategically around the house. Lem tensed and Ekle gave a short intake of breath. Lem quickly put a hand on his brothers shoulder, drawing his attention and mouthed 'Let me do the talking.' Ekle nodded, but still looked nervous.
They pulled up along the side of the road and got out. "Excuse me, soldier?" Their father said walking up to the superior private. "Is there anything wrong?"
"You live here sir?" Their father nodded. "The General would like to talk to your whole family. He's waiting inside." He nodded, and motioned for his two sons to follow. Ekle still looked nervous as they all walked inside.
In the living room, their mother was carrying a tray full of cups which she was handing out to two men in uniforms. One was a captain by his rank and the other was rather tall for a person. The stars on his tabs showed he was the general.
"Ahh, honey, you're home," their mother said as she looked up.
"This your whole family, ma'am?" The general asked. She nodded and he rose to his feet before eyeing to two boys. He gave Ekle a once over before eyeing Lem, and then asked "You must be Lem Korplog?"
Lem watched as his fathers expression went from surprise to an icy glare that he directed at his son. "What have you done this time?" He said in controlled anger. The general followed that glare and walked forward.
"Mr Korplog, I'm General Grawl," he said, extending his hand. Lem took it reluctantly and shook it once. "Son, are you aware of your whereabouts for the past few days?"
"Yes," Lem answered.
"Can you tell me where you were the day after the alien landed?"
To everyone's surprise, it was Lem's own father who answered that question. "He was at the Glipforg Planetarium; Smoking!" Both Lem and Grawl turned to face him, surprise on their faces.
"What?" Grawl asked. Lem's dad sighed.
"Sir," he said walking towards the man. "My son's an 'A' Grade delinquent. Petty vandalism, theft, you name it." Lem just rolled his eyes.
"Really," the general said in a tone that indicated he couldn't care less if Lem were a serial killer. "And how do you know what your son was doing that day?"
"Because I was there at the Planetarium." He answered. "I caught him. What's this all about?"
The general looked surprised. Then his face melted into a serious expression. "Sir, the alien has been living at the Planetarium for the past few days."
"What!" He cried out. "No, I mean, that's not possible!"
The general smiled at the captain. "That seems to be happening a lot." The captain chuckled. "So, why would that not be possible?"
"Because I never saw any alien when I was there."
The general blink in surprise, then looked at Lem, and then back to his father. "Did you look in the auditorium?" He asked.
"No," he answered honestly.
"Did YOU look in the auditorium, son?"
"No, sir, I didn't," Lem answered.
"My son is still alive general," Lem's father interrupted. "I think that means he never saw the alien." Grawl turned and looked like he was about to say something in response to that, but he stopped, and quickly moved on. "I suppose that is true," he said. "But we'd still like to question your son about his time there."
Lem's father took a step towards the general. "Anything you have to ask my son you can ask in front of me." Both Lem and the general looked surprised.
"Dad?" Lem asked. His father silenced him with a raised hand.
"Very well," Grawl said with a shrug. "Let's do this right here then." He turned to Lem. "Have a seat, Lem." Lem nodded and sat down. "Lem," the general said as he sat down in the chair opposite. "I'm not here to arrest you or anything. I want to make it perfectly clear that we," as he said this, he swept his arms to indicate the soldiers in the room, "Are not the bad guys. We are not the Southern Alliance. We are your protectors. I'm saying this because I want to to also know that no matter what you have done, we will not hold it against you in any way."
Lem nodded, keeping a straight poker face. Something he'd managed to master in his earlier days, with people screaming in his face. He was pretty good at it too, so much so that it drove the Sheriff nuts. He also learnt that unless they could prove it in the courts, he hadn't done it.
"Lem, despite what the movies say, this particular alien isn't that bad." Lem nearly lost his composure, but held it together.
"How do you know this?" He asked. "I mean, the news papers and radio and television have all been saying..."
"That's not important right now." The general waved the question away. Lem could tell right away he wasn't the master of composure that he was and immediately picked up the irritation in his voice. "Listen to me, Lem, this alien needs help. Proper help that only we can provide. Please, if you know anything, it would be best if you let us know right away."
Lem nodded. He was quickly turning things over in his head. He had to make a decision right now, and there were way to many interesting questions that had arisen from what the general had said.
"Sir," he began. "I..."
All heads turned at the sound of the door opening and in walked a short man wearing a trench coat and a monocle clenched between one eye. He gave the whole room a once over before settling his gaze on the family sitting down.
"So, that's the boy, is he?" Kipple said as he shuffled over to the gathering.
"Professor Kipple?" Grawled appeared caught off guard. "Aren't you supposed to be..."
"Supposed to be, and reality are two different things, General," Kipple said, turning a disproving stare at the man. "You're not going to muddle things up again. It's my turn, and this time, I'll show you how it's done properly." The two men were shooting each other daggers. "Of cause, if you have any concerns," he eyed the phone sitting on a table just behind Grawl. "YOU can talk to the Prime Alpha."
Lem's dad quickly interjected. "Excuse me, but who are you and what do YOU want with my son?" He looked over at Lem who seemed to be thinking hard about something as he eyed Kipple with suspicion.
"Your son was in the same building as the alien, Mr. Korplog," Kipple said. "And he didn't see a thing. I think that's a good enough reason to want to talk to him."
"I was in the same building as the alien, Doctor, and I didn't see a thing," his father said back. "Do you want to talk to me?"
"It's Professor," Kipple corrected with a roll of his eyes.
"Professor, how did you find out about this?" Grawl asked.
"Word travels fast, General," Kipple responded. "And besides, it doesn't take a genius like myself to add things up when you suddenly shift troops about. Also, you're not exactly subtle when you give orders."
"Beyond the Rings!" Everybody turned there heads as Lem shouted. Lem was pointing at Kipple with an air of excitement.
"Uhh, yes, that was my third book," Kipple answered in confusion.
"I LOVED that book!" Lem shouted as he leapt from his seat and rushed over to Kipple. "Oh, Professor Kipple, it's such an honour to meet you. I'm a big fan, I have all your books. Life, the Universe, and Everything. Other Worlds. Beyond the Rings. Aliens... Beyond the Rings was my favourite."
Kipple appeared some what caught off guard by Lem's outburst. "You... Really?"
"Yeah," Lem said as he headed for another room. "Could you just wait for a second?" They all watched him vanish from sight, listening to the sound of rummaging, before Lem returned holding a book in one hand and a pen in the other. "Professor," he asked, holding both out to him, "Could you sign my book?"
The book was 'Beyond the Rings' with half the cover taken up by the title, and the other half by Kipple himself, pointing towards the rings in the night sky. Kipple looked from the book, back to Lem and smiled.
"Why certainly young man." He took both the book and the pen. "Lem Korplog, wasn't it?" He asked. Lem nodded and Kipple signed the cover before handing it back to Lem who seemed ready to explode with glee.
The Captain leaned in close to Grawl and whispered, "Whaddayah know, the professor has a fan base."
"I'm liking this kid even less," Grawl whispered back. He then stepped forward. "Lem, I'm glad that you like Professor Kipple, but we need..."
"Hold on, General," Kipple stopped him by baring his path with an arm. "It's obvious this boy has nothing to do with the alien, isn't that right son?" Lem nodded enthusiasticly.
"Oh yeah, and besides," Lem said, "If I would've seen him, I would've called the army right away and left. After all, there might be harmful germs this alien could be carrying."
"Professor!" Grawl was silenced again as Kipple grabbed his arm and took him outside, closing the front door behind him. Lem watched as they stood on the front lawn, Grawl shouting at Kipple while the professor talked back calmly. Their discussion muted to warped sounds through the closed door.
"Is what he says true?" They all turned to see Lem's father talking with the captain. "Is the alien really harmless?"
"I'm sorry sir," the man replied, "But I'm not at liberty to say."
"But if it is harmless, shouldn't you let people know this? I mean we've lost one third of the towns population already. The economy around here has nearly ground to a halt."
"I'm sorry sir, but only the General can divulge that information." Lem turned to look out the front window at Grawl and Kipple on the lawn. He'd turned to see what they were doing after he realised that the muffle sounds of arguments had disappeared. Grawl had now adopted a serious expression on his face while Kipple was still calmly talking with some rather animated gestures.
"Sir," the captain interrupted. "You're a former military man, right?" Lem's father nodded. "Surely you understand that there is information that shouldn't be made public? You know that the wrong information at the wrong time could cause a world of trouble." Lem's father nodded slowly. "So please, no more questions."
All were interrupted by the front door opening, and Grawl and Kipple entered the room. Both had unreadable expressions on their faces. "Captain," Grawl said "We've waisted our time here, let's go."
For a split second, the captain looked surprised, before quickly covering it up and ordering everyone out. Kipple exited leaving Grawl the only one left. "Sir," he said to Lem's father. "I apologise for wasting your time," he looked over at Lem. "And you're too, son. I'm sorry for questioning your loyalty to your government."
"That's okay," Lem's dad responded. "There was no harm done."
"Please, all of you," Grawl added suddenly. "It would be greatly appreciated and it would also be a great help to our operation if you didn't talk about what you heard or what transpired here." He paused. "Please?"
"You can count on me, sir," Lem's dad said. "My family will do our duty." The general nodded and saluted. Lem's dad returned the salute and Grawl left.
"So, dad," Ekle asked, drawing everyone's attention. "What do we do?"
"Exactly what the General asked of us," was the response. "We keep silent."
"Thanks for sticking up for me, Dad," Lem said. His father turned to face his son, and then smiled.
"Well, for a split second, I was ready to throw you to the firing squad, because I thought you were up to your old tricks again, but seriously, in league with the alien!" He scoffed. "I know you well enough to know even you're not dumb enough to try something like that." Lem nodded and gave a small chuckle. Ekle drew his lips tight into a straight line.
"I didn't know you had an idle?" It was his mother who spoke that.
"Professor Kipple?" Lem asked. "Yeah, I've followed his works. He's a real genius, knows his stuff."
"So what's he do?" His father asked as he folded his arms and cocked his head to one side.
"He talks about other worlds," Lem answered of the cuff. "How they'd be different from our own, what kind of life would grow there, that sort of thing."
"I see," his father replied with a small nod. "Fascinating." Lem detected a hint of something else there, but before he could pursue it any further, his mother chimed in.
"I bet you boys are hungry, right?" She winked. "I made your favourite."
"Oh boy," Eckle cried as he pushed past Lem and hurried to the kitchen.
Lem's head was still spinning as he headed for the kitchen. He couldn't believe it. Professor Kipple. He'd meet Professor Kipple. His cheer evaporated as another thought floated into his mind. How did the army know he'd been at the Planetarium? Did he leave behind something that pointed directly at him? What? And if that was the case, what else was there to link him to Chuck.
He swallowed a nervous lump. Was hiding Chuck the wrong course of action after all? That General guy had said that the alien was harmless. What if they just wanted to open negotiations with Humans? What if, what if. The longer he kept Chuck hidden the more trouble seemed to be piling up on his back.
He abruptly stopped as he was half sitting down at the kitchen table. Wait a slagging minute, how the Pit would the Army know that Chuck is harmless? The only reason they would, would be if they already knew about the existence of humans. Was Skiff right after all? Was there really some deep dark cover up behind all this?
"Honey?" Lem looked up to see his mother and the rest of his family all looking at him. "Is there something wrong?"
"No," Lem said, sitting down. "Just... thinking about something," he said. His mother shrugged while his father just stared expressionlessly back at him.
The captain looked over his shoulder as the Korplog house disappeared around the bend in the street. He then turned to Grawl and asked, "Sir, may I ask what's going on?"
"Isn't it obvious," Kipple said from the front seat. "The boy's plainly hiding the alien, but he doesn't trust us."
"But he trusts you." The captain said.
"Exactly," Kipple replied. "We need this boy on our side. Convince him that we're the good guys and handing the alien over to us is the best solution available."
"So it was him who helped the alien escape from the Planetarium. If that's the case, the kids clearly breaking the law, Why don't we just haul him in, and force him to lead us to the alien and take it?" Kipple shook his head.
"The alien is scared," Kipple said. "It's frightened, alone, that much we're able to understand. All eyewitness accounts of the alien's first arrival prove that. As for why we're leaving the kid alone, think about it like this; Put your self in it's place. You're alone, stranded on an alien world populated by natives you didn't expect to encounter with no idea what's going on. Your only means of escape is lost to you and you've no idea who you can trust. Suddenly, you have a contact. A native who is friendly. And this native has risked it's own safety to ensure your own. What would you do?
"I'd cling to that native like glue. Trust it with my life."
"Exactly," Kipple said, ponding a fist into his palm. "This boy is our only link to the alien, and he's it's only link to our world and since that's the case, forcing the boy to take us to the alien and taking it at gun point will turn the alien against us."
The Captain nodded. "I see, you want kid to take YOU to the alien by his own free will."
"Precisely, and since this boy is a fan of me, that shouldn't be to difficult." He grinned. "After all, anybody who realises the importance of my work and genius isn't that bad a person." Both the Captain and Grawl shot each other looks.
"Sir," the Captain said, "There's something else I wanted to talk to you about." Grawl signalled acknowledgement and the captain continued. "I don't think it was wise revealing our knowledge about the alien in front of the family like that. The kids father drilled me about the alien, asking how come we didn't inform the public that it's harmless."
"Yes, my actions were hasty," Grawl mused, "But the only other option would be to take the kid away for questioning, and his father would've screamed to the Rings up high if we'd done that with no evidence to link him to the alien. Especially since his father could back him up. The media would've pounced on that like hungry predators."
"I hope they will keep silent," the Captain said. "If they do talk that's going to come straight back to us and force us to answer a lot of questions that are going to be potentially embarrassing for both us and the Council of Thirteen."
"Yes, yes, I know," Grawl grunted unhappily. "And that would lead to trouble with the Southern Alliance." The Captain grimaced at the thought. "But, Mr Korplog did give me his word, and as a former soldier and Great War veteran, I believe he will keep it."
They rode the rest of the way back to their HQ in silence. The bright spot lights that surrounded the alien pod light up the area as they arrived back. As they exited the Jeep, Kipple snapped orders to his assistant, telling him to make room for a new guest they'll expect to have tomorrow.
"What are you doing?" The captain asked.
"We're going to do this the RIGHT way, Captain; My way." Kipple said. "Tomorrow, I'm going to accidentally run into young Mr Korplog and no doubt, while we're discussing my brilliance, I'll offer him a position as a temporary assistant, so that I can gain his trust."
"I already have a man left discreetly behind to watch the kid," Grawl said. "He's going to keep an eye on him for Kipple, and then the rest is up to him." Grawl yawned and looked at his watch. "It's been a long and frustrating day," he said. "I'm going to bed early. But I want..."
"General!" They both turned at the sound of a Sargent running up to them. "General Grawl," he cried out. He was waving about a bright purple flyer containing bold red writing, which he promptly handed over. "Sir, these are plastered all around the city."
Grawl grabbed it and gave it the once over. His eyes bulged and his teeth clashed together with such force the Captain was surprised they didn't shatter. "That stupid...!" He snarled before turned to face the Sargent.
"They've been distributed all over town, sir," the man replied as Grawl handed it to the Captain who uttered a short, sharp curse once he saw it. "While we were on manoeuvres around the Planetarium, that's when they did it."
The General gave a half snarl, half choking sound. "I have to call the Prime Alpha," he grunted as he made an abrupt about face and stormed off.
"What's going on?" Kipple demanded as he walked up to the group.
"This," Kipple took one of the flyers, and adjusted his monocle, and froze.
"Oh," was all he said. "This... Will cause problems."