(Author’s Note)… Don’t worry. I will give you some background details on what is happening sooner or later. For now, you don’t need to know that a Xxo is a 9 to 12-foot-tall alien that has eyes and mouths surrounding its middle stalk, and tentacles on top and bottom, and looks a little like a giant broccoli. You don’t need to know how this series of action/humor science fiction books is responsible for me meeting Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. You don’t need to worry about who all the humans and aliens are, or why there are two Arthur’s… or three, if you count the one in this reality… or millions, if you count the ones in all the realities. Just read the story and see if it interests you. Or makes you want to buy the first three novels in the series… available over there—> in my sidebar… just in time for Christmas… wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Frodo came running back into the waiting room. “Arthur,” he said urgently, “the Xxo fleet is calling the command center. I can put it over the speakers in here if you wish.”
“Command center?” asked Arthur distractedly, “we have a command center?”
Mr. Toad spoke from behind Arthur. “Well, our communications system already spanned the entire populated universe. No Earth government has our capabilities. The President agreed that it would be best to just let you run things from here.”
Before Arthur had a chance to point out that the entire fiasco was being broadcast live, a voice came over hidden speakers to announce, “This is Councilor Commander X of the Xxo battle fleet. I need to speak to Mr. Blacke immediately.”
“This is Arthur Blacke,” said Arthur, speaking in the Xxo language, and hoping the commander would take the hint.
He did. “At your command, Battle Fleet Commander,” said the battle tested commander over the speakers.
“Wait, what?” Arthur shot back.
“The Council has decided that you should be put in overall command of our fleet. They still don’t trust the Warlord, or the General as you call him. Besides, it is tradition for the messenger who brings the call to war to lead. That is why he must fulfill the requirements,” was the reply.
Oh, crap, Arthur chided himself, I forgot that part. “So are you on your way?” he asked, feeling a faint stirring of hope.
“Yes, we are now in the process of sending ships through the Nexus Point nearest your Earth. But I have unfortunate news,” said the Xxo.
Of course you do, Arthur decided morosely.
The Xxo commander went on. “They managed to infiltrate more of those imposters onto most of our ships. They were mostly just lower rank engine or navigation personnel, but corrupted programs were introduced. Engines are malfunctioning and guidance systems are unreliable.”
Arthur felt a chill settle down his back.
The Xxo officer continued. “We have 270 ships that seem to be in good working order, but there may be more doubles on board some of them, or sabotage that has not yet been activated. Sadly, I must report that all our heavy battle ships and cruisers were disabled. Those units we are bringing are all light vessels, destroyers and frigates and some scout craft.”
“Okay, councilor commander, I should have seen this coming. An enemy fleet is gathering near Earth at this moment. Until I have more information on their strength, I just want you to form up your ships and start heading this way also. But do not enter our solar system until you hear from me.” Or whoever they put in charge after I get blown to smithereens, he didn’t add.
“At your orders, Commander,” said the Xxo, and signed off.
Arthur felt Mr. Toad pushing the camera in between him and the pseudo-Big Jonny and inside his not-quite friend’s leather jacket. He heard Tarlek Da’s voice on Mr. Toad’s phone speaker.
“Ah, as I suspected, this device is not from somewhere else. It is of Reaver manufacture. The Reavers make sophisticated weaponry, and I am no expert on their technology,” said the lava lamp-like scientist.
“No, but I know who is,” said Arthur. “Mr. Toad, buddy, tell the Prince to call the President and find out where Rubar and his boys are being held. You better get an executive pardon set up. Then send Gollum to pick them up in the Reaver ship that Ox brought back from the Hub. I need them here now.”
Mr. Toad scampered out and returned in just a minute or two.
Arthur’s cell phone rang again. The General answered it and informed Arthur that the President was on the line, then pushed the speaker button.
“Admiral, glad to have you back,” said the savvy politician. “We are watching you on a monitor right now. I have sent word to release the Reavers. They are being held in San Quentin quite near to you. Is there anything else I can do?”
“I’ll have to get back to you on that, Mr. President,” Arthur said. Mr. Toad rushed out to tell Gollum where to pick up the Reavers. Just as he came back in the room, a new voice came over the lobby speakers.
“Uh, Sir, this is the command center. You have an incoming transmission. I think you need to hear this, Sir.”
“Sure, I’m not going anywhere,” said Arthur with a bleak chuckle. “Put it over the speakers.”
“Well, if it isn’t my old buddy, me,” said a disturbingly familiar voice.
“Who am I speaking to?” asked Arthur, even though he already knew.
“Hey, you are talking to yourself, dude,” came the reply, “and you know what they say about people who talk to themselves.”
Arthur just closed his eyes and let out a heavy sigh.
“You can smile and wave if you want,” continued the annoying voice. “We are watching you on the news right now. And I have to say, you look good. But how do you keep getting yourself into these strange predicaments, Arthur? These kinds of things never happen to me.”
“And just where are you watching the news from?” Arthur decided to ask.
“From the bridge of a warship heading towards your Earth,” said the voice. “Did I forget to mention that the Doraimee made me the commander of our first wave? I guess he just thought it would be funny.”
“So how does it feel to sell out your own race?” asked Arthur of himself.
“My race has already gone to a new owner,” said the other.
Arthur suddenly had an idea and he called Mr. Toad over and began to whisper in his ear hole. Mr. Toad grabbed Gup, and they trotted out to find the others and set Arthur’s plan in motion. All over the universe, more and more millions of beings made their way to monitor screens to follow the unfolding events concerning their favorite reality star. So far these events were as baffling as they were entertaining. Arthur just wished he could give his sore, cramped fingers a rest.
“We are going to be there soon, Arthur,” said his own voice over the speakers. “You were smart to pull your ships back. This is just the first wave of the invasion, and you don’t even have the forces to slow us down.”
Rubar and another Reaver suddenly burst into the room. They both came to attention in front of Arthur. “Reporting as ordered, Battle Commander,” bellowed Rubar. “Don’t worry, Sir, I brought my best bomb guy. We will have you out of there in a jiffy, as you humans like to say.”
No one noticed Gup and Frodo come in and stand below the floating Reporter where they wouldn’t show up on the live broadcast.
“Hey,” said the taunting voice over the speakers, “I can hear my own voice on the news. Hello universe, this is Arthur Blacke calling. That guy you are looking at is an imposter. I am coming to arrest him right now. Don’t worry, I will save the day again.”
Great, thought Arthur, I am a smartass with a twisted sense of humor in at least two realities. He glanced around to see if his friends were ready for their performance, and got nods and winks. He wasn’t happy about his plan. A lot of people were going to freak out, but it couldn’t be helped.
“My hands are too tired to hold him,” he screamed, “the bomb is going to go off.” There was a loud bang and a bright flash of light, and the room went dark.
All around the universe sentient beings watched the explosion, and then the live broadcast ceased. Across the stars there was a collective wail of misery and despair.