Narr: Max Thornfield had just boarded the private spacepod that
Puck had sent to pick him up. He had been poured a cup of coffee by an
and was now talking to Puck himself live via satellite on the pod’s
Puck: I’m glad you decided to help me, Max.
Max: Well, I owe you one, I think. Besides, if what you say is true, then
it’s our fault that Risidan is in trouble in the first place.
Puck: Listen, don’t be too hard on yourselves. You couldn’t have
Max: Yeah, but we should have done more research before we sent them a gift
like that. I thought Keane made sure she knew all their allergies, but I guess
she missed this.
Puck: Well we shouldn’t cry over it at this point. Hopefully we can
get in, fix the situation, and let you get back to fighting your supervillians.
Can I give you your official briefing?
Max: Go ahead.
Puck: Okay. The catmen are having an allergic reaction to-
Max: To the Venusian curry we sent them.
Puck: Yes. They are now vacationing in Risidan, and are shedding at a dangerous
rate, which is causing allergic reactions in the Risidanians.
Max: So, we’ve caused a weird meta-allergic chain reaction?
Puck: Right. The atmosphere is filled with cat hair, and people can barely
breathe. They’re dropping like flies.
Max: I’ve got an anti-hystamene solution that Molly
Puck: And I have a giant vacuum that Dr. Stellof sent me.
First, we need to put your anti-hystamene solution into the water supply,
so that the catmen
stop shedding and the hair can settle a little. Then we send them home,
evacuate the streets, and vacuum everything up.
Max: That seems reasonable.
Puck: Then enjoy your coffee, and the scenery. It’s a beautiful ride.
I’ll meet you at landing in a few days.
Narr: Max sat back and sipped his coffee. He spent the next few days eating
space food, watching TV, and sleeping. He watched stars and planets go by,
and saw the sky turn brilliant colors. After a while, he recognized the swirly
tan and white surface of Risidan, something he’d seen in countless pictures
but had never witnessed up close. He leaned forward in his chair and watched
the ground come at him slowly as he broke through the atmosphere of Risidan.
Puck’s spacepod flew him around mountains and over plateaus, until it
lighted on sandy ground in front of a small thatch-roof house. As the awe
of seeing a planet for the first time wore off, Max noticed that something
was glaringly missing. He descended from the spacepod and came face to face
Max: (terse greeting) Puck.
Puck: (sheepish) Max.
Max: Hey, Puck, I can’t help but notice-
Puck: Why don’t you come in for a cup of tea, and I’ll tell you
all about it.
Max: (angry) Tell me what? About all the dying people? Did you think I wouldn’t
notice the distinct lack of cat hair in the atmosphere? In fact, now that
I think of it, I didn’t see one catman on the way in.
Puck: (supplicating) You have to admit you wouldn’t have come if I’d
asked you to do me a personal favor.
Max: You’re damn right I wouldn’t have. If you’ll allow
me to be on my way-
Puck: Max! Max, please, just hear me out. These are the actions of a desperate
man, are they not? Would I have asked you to come across the galaxy if I didn’t
truly need something of you?
Max: I don’t know, Puck, you tell me. I’m getting pretty tired
of your tricks.
Puck: Well some tea can’t hurt, can it? If you find my request unacceptable
you can leave.
Max: Is there a reason you’re pumping me full of caffeine?
Puck: Just being hospitable.
Max: *sigh* Alright. You’ve got twenty minutes. And since when do you
have a house on Risidan?
Puck: (defensive) I inherited it, fair and square.
Max: You know what, I don’t want to know.
Narr: Puck led Max into his small, well-decorated house, and poured some
Max: Ooh. Oh, wow, this is good. What is it?
Puck: Just a mix I made, some sencha and lemongrass leaves.
Max: Well, it’s delightful.
Max: So tell me why I left my crew behind to chase non-existent catmen?
Puck: When my father passed away, he left everything to
my uncle, Lord Pierre de Vertnez.
Max: That’s French, right?
Puck: (sheepishly) Yeah…
Max: For…green nose?
Max: I see.
Puck: Anyway, the only thing he left me was a brooch of pure gold and topaz,
in which he had encased some of my late mother’s soul. When she passed,
he wore this brooch day and night, and he told me that it would someday be
mine, so that I could remember my mother. Lord Greennose stole it from me,
and I want it back. I have nothing to remember my parents by.
Max: And why is this my problem?
Puck: You said yourself you owe me one. You’re the best glamour-caster
I know, otherwise I’d ask someone else. Would you help a poor orphan
Max: *sigh* What’s it going to involve?
Puck: Stealing, mostly.
Max: What else is new.
Puck: I am to dine at my uncle’s tonight, with you as my guest. You
are a distant cousin from the Bible Belt Galaxy, and you will be spending
the night. My aunt, Lady Caroline de Vertnez, wears my mother’s brooch
every day, without fail. She leaves it on her nightstand every night. At night,
you will sneak into her room and cast a glamour on the brooch, and take it
from her nightstand. We will get a rock outside, and you’ll cast a glamour
on that to make it look like the brooch. Then you’ll sneak into one
of my uncle’s waiter’s rooms and plant the fake brooch on him.
You’ll leave in the morning, having returned the brooch to me, and you’ll
never have to see me again.
Max: Why do I have a horrible feeling this is going to go wrong?
Puck: How can it? It’s foolproof.
Max: Well, let’s get this over with.
Narr: That night, Max found himself in elegant clothing borrowed from Puck,
sitting at a long, fancy table with far too much food sitting right in front
of him. He was salivating over the giant helpings sitting right on his plate,
but Puck had nudged him into being polite and waiting for everyone to be served.
Pierre: So, Monsieur Bleunez how are you finding your stay
Max: Oh, I’m having a wonderful time. It’s a lovely planet you
Pierre: Do you and my silly nephew grace each other’s presence often?
Max: Not often enough. It’s been far too long, cousin.
Puck: That it has.
Caroline: Please, everybody, eat. Mangez. This is a beautiful meal.
Narr: Max turned his attention from the head of the table to its foot, where
Caroline de Vertnez sat: a buxom lady with a shimmering golden and yellow
brooch at her breast lapel.
Pierre: Bon appetit!
Max, Puck, Caroline: Bon appetit!
Narr: That night, Max snuck out of his room and down the hall. He stopped
at the room that Puck had identified as the master bedroom, and snuck in as
quietly as possible. He slid around to the left side of the bed and felt on
the nightstand for the brooch. He found nothing. As he squinted in the dark,
he saw that the Lord and Lady had in fact fallen asleep in their clothing.
He took a deep breath, reached over, and undid the brooch as gingerly as possible.
As he lifted it with one hand, cast a glamour on it to make it look like a
watch, and put it into his pocket, Lady Caroline snuggled his hand against
her breast in her sleep. At that moment, a hungry Lord Pierre woke up for
a midnight snack to find Max molesting his wife.
Pierre: What in the world goes on in this house! You are no relative of mine!
Get out! Get out!
Caroline: My poor chastity!
Narr: Max jetted out of the house, quickly followed by Puck, who’d
been listening from around the corner.
Puck: I’ll get him for you, uncle!
Narr: As Puck approached Max, Max handed him the brooch, which was still
under a glamour, and they ran quickly to Puck’s house. They stopped
outside the spacepod, panting.
Puck: (hurriedly) You’ll have to hold onto this for me, if they find
it on me they’ll crucify me. I’ll send for you soon.
Max: But what am I –
Puck: There’s no time, Lord Brownnose is on our trail, they’ll
probably be here any minute!
Max: I can’t believe you almost got me killed!
Puck: (firm) Seriously. No. Time.
Pierre: (yelling from kind of far away) Ah-ha! I have found you thieving
(shot of a gun)
Narr: Puck fell to the ground, curling up.
Max: Puck, no! But you’re a sprite! A fairy!
Puck: (breathing heavily) But the body is dying, Max, and so is the spirit.
Pierre: Stay where you are, you sniveling stealer, so I can give you what-for!
Puck: There’s no time to argue. Take the brooch and get yourself out
Narr: Max saw Lord Vertnez coming at him with an old-fashioned shotgun, snatched
the brooch from Puck, and hopped in the spacepod. It took off, and soon Max
saw the planet’s tan and white surface disappearing behind him. He sighed,
confused and sad, and decided to check in with the Flashpack. He called them
up on the monitor, and Keane answered.
Keane: Max! It’s great to hear from you!
Slotter: Is that Max!? Hooray, he’s alive!
Max: It’s great to see both of you. How are things on your end?
Slotter: Totally sweet! We took care of all the big bad aliens without you
here. In fact, you may want to consider taking a vacation, we’re totally
fine without you.
Max: I’ll think about it, Slotter. Would you mind getting Molly?
Slotter: Can do. Be back in a flash.
Max: So everyone’s okay, really?
Keane: We’re fine, we’re fine. You look a little frazzled, though.
Max: Nah, I’ll be fine.
Narr: At that moment, Molly ran into the room, followed by Slotter.
Max: All right guys, it’s been great talking to you, but I need to
speak to Molly in private for a minute. I’ll see you all soon!
Narr: The rest of the Flashpack bade good bye to Max and the room emptied.
Max: Hey there, Moll.
Molly: Hi Max. How are things on your end? Are you still off with Puck?
Max: Let’s not talk about that now. I heard you and the gang got into
quite a pickle there.
Narr: Molly turned an interesting shade of red, embarrassed that the news
of her almost deadly mistake had reached Max so quickly.
Molly: Yeah…about that…
Max: Don’t worry about it Molly. You’re still the best second
in command out there. AND a genius. I mean really, dangers aside, who else
would have even thought of let alone create a plasma cannon on such short
notice. Really Molly, you did a great job.
Narr: Molly blushed an even deeper shade of crimson.
Molly: Thanks. We got a meson emitter out of the wreck!
Max: Great! (beat) What’s a meson emitter?
Molly: Do I live with complete dunderheads? It’s the device I’ve
been trying to get my hands on that creates a field of static around the ship.
Kind of like a cloaking device, it will make the ship harder to find.
Max: Then congratulations to you! You gonna have that hyper-drive up and
running by the time I get back?
Molly: I’ll do my best, Max.
Max: Then I’ll see you and your amazing hyper-drive in a couple of
days. Thornfield. Out.
Narr: Max heaved a big sigh, turned off the monitor, and leaned back. He
pressed a few buttons and a mechanical arm gave him a hot cup of coffee. Without
prompting, another mechanical arm came at him with a piece of paper in it.
Max: Wha? What in the galaxy is this?
Narr: Max removed the piece of paper, opened it, and read.
Puck: Dear Max, I never really knew how to tell you this, and while I realize
this is something of a copout, I don’t feel I have any other choice.
This is my last possible magical act, and I feel that you need to know what
the situation is. You see, Max, when a sprite and a woman love each other
very much…no, that’s not right. Max, your mother and I…well,
we…we mated. And you were born. As a result. I am, in essence, your
father. It was a night of passion, and your mother and I do not really love
each other anymore. I’ve been too ashamed to tell you the truth. I have
tried. Every time I’ve asked you to help me with something, I tried…The
brooch you have actually belongs to your mother. I stole it from her years
and years ago to trade for some information that, in retrospect, did me no
good. Somehow it made its way to my treacherous, murderous, French uncle,
and I knew it was my chance to get it back. I will not achieve final rest
until this brooch is returned to her, and I can at least right this one wrong.
I am leaving this in your hands. My sincerest apologies, and love always,
Narr: Will Max return the brooch to his mother? Who did the Flashpack have
to battle with? What surprises will be awaiting Max when he returns? Find
out in the next thrilling episode of Epic Echoes: Under the Mauve.