Narr: Max Thornfield read the letter in his hands over again.
He was shocked. He couldn't believe that what it said was true. He read
it a third time, and
still the same words were on the paper. He'd done it; he'd found the
answer to the one question he'd been searching for his entire life, just in
to see it slip away in front of his eyes.
Max: My father. You bastard... couldn't say it my face, could you? No...
Narr: Max crumpled Robin Goodfellow's letter in his hand as his clenched
his teeth and refused to cry. Reaching into his front pocket, he pulled out
Max: You couldn't resist, could you? One last trick before dying, huh? Well,
the joke's on you. I'm keeping it. I won't give it back to her. Forget final
rest - you don't deserve it, you old bastard. You hear me? You don't deserve
Narr: Max threw the paper towards the trash and didn't notice as it bounced
off the rim and rolled across the cockpit floor. He flew the remaining distance
back to the Flashpoint in silence, watching coolly as planets and moons flew
past, making his way, slowly, back to Earth. As he grew closer, making those
familiar turns into the Earth's gravitational pull and around the moon, it
began to hit him just how much he missed the place. As if seeing the 'point
for the first time in two months wasn't emotional enough, apparently someone
in the 'pack has spacewalked long enough to set out a bedsheet with "Welcome
back, Max!" painted on it. He smiled and pulled into the docking bay.
The shuttle came in for a solid landing, and once pressure was restored, Max's
friends came running through the doors to greet him. Molly ran to him and
wrapped her arms around him.
Molly: Max! Welcome home! We've missed you so much!
Max: Whoa, there! I missed you too, Molly. You take care of my team while
I was gone?
Slotter: Oh, you know she did.
Max: Hey, Slotter. So did I miss anything exciting?
Keane: Oh. Nothing we couldn't handle. Just a couple of mad scientist wannabe's.
Max: I'm glad you had it under control, Keane. Von Wicked?
Max: Molting Mercury, is he of age already?
Slotter: He certainly thought so. Us... not so much.
Max: I've missed you guys.
Molly: I've missed you. We, we all have. So, what about you? What happened
with Puck once he got you out of El Paso?
Max: Uhg... the whole thing was another of his tricks, of course. There was
no planet in danger. He wanted me to steal something.
Keane: Anything important?
Narr: Max fingered the brooch in his pocket.
Max: No, nothing that mattered.
Keane: You hungry? I've made supper. Chicken, Mercury style, with Venusian
scallops. I've got to hop off and finish it up.
Max: Sounds great! I can't wait! I haven't eaten since... Polaris... who...
who is this?
Narr: Crisp had remained just outside the entrance to the bay, nervous, since
the last time he'd seen Max, he'd been escorting him to Drallus at gunpoint.
Max: Leaping lasers, it's one of Dex's troops!
Molly: No! No, Max, it's ok... this is... this is Crisp. He's a friend.
Max: A friend? He's one of thousands of clones, made specifically for the
purposes of violently overtaking the galaxy, killing anyone who gets in their
Crisp: Well, gee, I don't have to do that, do I?
Molly: No, of course not, Crisp! No, Max, Crisp is different. He's the only
reason we were able to get out of Texas in one piece, not to mention how much
he helped against Von Wicked. He's not like the others.
Max: But Molly, he's a thing, a clone-
Molly: Max, no! Crisp is one of us. You put me in charge of the Flashpack
while you were detained, and he earned my trust! Now, if that's not enough
Narr: Max looked over the former trooper who smiled up at him awkwardly.
Max: All right, Molly. I trust you.
Crisp: Thanks, sir.
Max: It's Max.
Crisp: The absolute max, sir.
Crisp: I don't know, sir.
Narr: Max looked to Molly, who shrugged. Slotter mussed Crisp's hair.
Slotter: See, Crispy? I told you I'd be fine. Ready to eat?
Crisp: I... think I need to go to the bathroom. I'll meet you there, Slot.
Slotter: Don't call me Slot!
Max: All right, already, let's get to this dinner! I'm starved.
Molly: It's good to have you back. Now things can finally get back to normal.
Narr: They headed for the mess hall, towards the best meal Max had had in
months. Meanwhile, a solar system away, one of the Flashpack's former members
was learning of Max's return as well.
Troop: Lady Drallus.
Drallus: I keep telling you swine, call me mistress! Is it that hard to understand?
Troop: I apologize, Mistress.
Drallus: Now go about your business, peon.
Dex: I believe he had a message, sister.
Drallus: Very well... What is it, whelp?
Troop: You wanted to be informed if Thornfield returned to Earth.
Drallus: (excited) Thornfield is back?
Troop: The spy just sent word, he's back in the Flashpoint.
Dex: I told you he'd return to plague us again.
Drallus: This is excellent news! Inform the fleet, we leave for Earth within
Troop: Yes, Mistress.
Dex: What? You'll do no such thing!
Troop: N-no, sir.
Dex: Drallus, just what are you trying to do? You know we won't have the
field technology finished for months! The plan was we'd return to Earth to
enslave the insignificant hoo-mans after I'd finished inventing the weapon
which would hold them at our mercy, remember?
Drallus: We've already rallied the fleet into an imposing force, we can-
Dex: What? What exactly do you expect the fleet to do, just... hang there
in the sky, like a... big... menacing-
Drallus: (softly, sensual) Darling... I know how... unnerving it is to have
something so... enormous just... dangling in front of you... taunting you.
You know that at any second... it could touch you... decimate you... but it
just waits, teasing... just out of reach...
Dex: Something forbidden... something you're never, ever supposed to touch...
never supposed to want... to desire...
Drallus: Kiss me...
(they kiss loudly, with little "mmm" sounds. Then, their lips
part, also loudly.)
Dex: Inform the fleet, we leave for Earth within the hour.
Troop: Yes, sir.
Dex: Shall we retire, sister?
Drallus: (usual self again) I'm not tired. Besides, you've got a lot of work
to do on that field, don't you? (pause) Well? Get to it.
Dex: But, darling-
Drallus: Shoo, shoo. Get to work.
Narr: As Dex scuttled off to his lab, dinner was just finishing up back in
Max: That was incredible as always, Keane. If only I knew where you acquired
all the most secret secret knowledge of the culinary world.
Narr: Keane kicked Max under the table.
Max: Ow! What, I just meant it was good! Jupiter's spots!
Slotter: I guess I'll volunteer to do the dishes. It's not every day a simple
Earth Girl gets incredible inner planet grub like that.
Crisp: It was certainly much better than "Clone Cubes".
Max: "Clone cubes"? What is that the name they used for what they
feed you guys?
Crisp: Yes, although that's not why they called it that. It was named after
it's main ingre-
Slotter: OK! I'm sure no one wanted to hear that! I'll wash, you Dry, ok,
Crisp: That's agreeable.
Narr: The pair gathered the dishes and headed for the kitchen, leaving Max,
Molly, and Keane sitting around the table. Keane looked from Max to Molly
a couple of times, then rose.
Keane: I'm just going to leave you two alone, I think.
Max: You have work to do?
Keane: I'm sure.
Molly: You don't need to-
Max: Diligent girl, Keane.
Molly: Yes. And so subtle. So, anyway... tell me about your trip with Puck.
What did he make you steal?
Max: (upset at the thought of it) Oh, Gods... I don't want to even talk about
Narr: Max slipped his hand into his pocket and clenched the brooch in his
Molly: What? What happened?
Max: It was nothing.
Molly: I know you, Max. You're upset. If something happened out there...
you can tell me. How long have we known each other? What was it?
Max: No, no... (back to normal) Hey, Molly- you know me. If anything important
happened, who am I going to tell before my best friend, right?
Molly: Friend. Right.
Max: Exactly. Forget about it. We're buddies. I'd tell you if something was
Molly: All right, Max. But if you need me-
Max: You'll be the first to know. Well, second after me.
Crisp, Slotter, & Keane: Surprise!
Narr: The remaining members of the Flashpack popped into the room, carrying
a white frosted cake. Max accidentally dropped the brooch on the floor.
Slotter: (singing) For he's a welcomed-back fellow, for he's a... (pause) Well, I thought it worked.
Max: You guys shouldn't have!
Crisp: Oh... is this bad form?
Molly: No, he doesn't really mean it, Crisp. He's saying we shouldn't have
to indicate that he appreciates it.
Crisp: Is that Zen?
Molly: I'll tell you when it's Zen.
Narr: Max was fumbling on the floor to pick up the brooch before anyone noticed
Keane: Drop something?
Max: Oh, no- yeah, just a, a quarter.
Narr: He held the quarter up for all to see, and didn't let down the glamour
until the brooch was back in his pocket.
Max: Now... is this butter cream on chocolate?
Narr: The Flashpack celebrated their leader's return late into the night,
until no one could possibly stay awake a moment longer- except, of course,
whoever had the first shift. It was Molly's turn. The coffee maker was working
on overdrive keeping her awake, but sitting still was just leading her mind
to dwell on subjects she'd prefer to leave alone. Instead, she decided to
use the time to inspect the ship Max had picked up on his jaunt with Puck.
Molly: What a hunk of junk! How does this thing even operate? Still, maybe
I can salvage a few bits for me and Julie's hyperdrive.
Narr: Molly went inside to check out the cockpit and controls. As she lay
on the floor, looking at the wiring under the dashboard, she noticed a crumpled
up piece of paper on the floor.
Molly: What have we here? Forgotten fairy lore? "Dear Max..." Uh-oh...
I shouldn't be... I... oh, screw it. .... Brooch? What Brooch? .... Max's
mom? How did he- ... Oh my god.... Max's father? Max's... Oh Max... Max...
why couldn't you tell me?
Narr: Will Max reveal the secret he has learned? How will the 'pack deal
with Drallus' fleet? What exactly is this 'field' Dex alluded to? And who
among the Flashpack is this 'spy'? Be sure to listen to the next pulse-pounding
episode of Epic Echoes..."Riders of Destiny"!