Combobulay’s urine-stained chair rolled onto the platform at the centre
of the spherical large chamber and drew to a halt. The ancient doctor looked
around for a moment at the darkened balconies and terraces that surrounded
her. Her crew seemed to be working diligently and quietly, just as she wished.
She turned her attention straight ahead. “Update me, Commandant Fumbla!”
The commandant bowed, and then looked up at the doctor. He stroked his beard.
“We have just had a report from the Kretins I despatched earlier to
ensure the destruction of the alien orbital object brought down.”
Despite her great age and wisdom, Doctor Combobulay was not a patient woman.
“Stop dallying and tell me!”
The commandant continued, activating the large screen next to him. A map
appeared. “The alien object was discovered three kilometres from the
shore on at this location. The firepower of the Kretins easily destroyed
The imaged changed to show an image of the destroyed object.
The doctor nodded slowly. “Very good.”
“Unfortunately, one of the Kretin’s was badly damaged by the
object before it was destroyed. The crew was killed.”
“Incompetence!” the doctor yelled, slamming her fist into the
side of her chair as hard as her stringy atrophied arm muscles would allow.
Commandant Fumbla looked a little nervous, but he kept his composure as
usual. “The other two Kretins returned to the sea. One of them did
lose an arm, but that can be repaired in a couple of hours.”
The doctor had calmed herself a little. “Well, we have to expect some
damage in a hostile situation, don’t we?” She leaned forwards.
“I trust the damaged Kretin was destroyed completely? We do not want
to leave evidence lying around.”
“Actually, no, it was abandoned.”
Doctor Combobulay struggled to her feet. Her voice became strained and high-pitched.
“It is still out there on the plain?!”
The commandant nodded. “Yes, ma’am. The Kretin control team
leader felt that there was no danger in leaving the damaged Kretin there.
She thought that it would be better to conserve weaponry for the Kretin’s
primary task, instead of…”
The doctor’s voice crackled. “Who is the leader of the Kretin
The commandant pointed up. “That would be Umbella Fhune, ma’am.”
On the terrace directly above Commandant Fumbla, a young woman with waist
long black hair and a pale, classically beautiful face stood looking down.
She was clearly anxious.
The doctor sat back down on her chair, and then looked up. “I find
your profound stupidity too astounding to contemplate.” She operated
a control on her chair. “Security? Umbella Fhune is leaving this vessel.
Escort her to the upper airlock.”
A door opened behind the Kretin control team leader. Two hooded guards grabbed
her arms and pulled Umbella away. She said nothing.
Doctor Combobulay exhaled noisily. “Commandant Fumbla? take this ship
to a depth of two kilometres to ensure that Umbella is crushed to the correct
size, and then have her body placed, with appropriate labelling, in the
Example Chamber with the others.”
The commandant nodded.
“And assign a new team leader for Kretin control.”
“Of course, ma’am.”
“And then despatch some more Kretins to destroy or retrieve the damaged
The doctor sighed, and looked around at her crew. She frowned. “The
mistakes by Humbert and Umbella may bring new challenges to us in the days
ahead. The success of our mission may be in jeopardy, but I believe we can
still achieve our goal. I expect only the best from you from now on. Anymore
mistakes will be dealt with in the usual brutal but fair manner.”
Doctor Combobulay and her chair trundled back into her private chamber.