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Attack of the Mutant Miners – Sneak Preview Snippet

A snippet from Mission 3 of the SPOOK & GOON Space Adventures:

Attack of the Mutant Miners: Fight for Glitter & Glory



Jock grabbed a towel on his way into the ship. The sweltering heat of the island planet was enough to melt his face off. He dripped sweat and didn’t want to ruin the new leather seats of the TX with all the perspiration soaking through his clothes. He tossed one to Dom and Desire, too, certain that they were in the same boat. Surprisingly, Desire looked calm, cool, and collected.

“How is it you’re not sweating from that heat?” Jock asked as he wiped himself down.

“It’s one of the benefits of not being Human,” Desire said. “My body does a better job of regulating heat. I can withstand much more than you, so I guess I’m just lucky.”

They stepped into the cockpit, ready to get off the planet and on their way back home. They’d only meant to take a quick trip to Polarus and back. With the extra detour with the Princess and the slave traders and then back and forth to Aesneia, they couldn’t wait to get home.

Jock draped the towel over his seat and motioned for Dom and Desire to do the same. Technically, it wasn’t his ship, though, in his mind, it was. And they were going to keep it in nice shape.

“JAXXY, send a message to Commander Weisman that we’re back on schedule and on our way home,” Jock said.

“I’ve tried sending the Commander several messages,” JAXX replied, “but with all the solar activity lately, the messages currently aren’t going through.”

“We just talked to him 30 minutes ago,” Jock said, puzzled. “Well, keep trying and set it on auto-send mode,” Jock said. “Just let me know when it goes through and he replies. While we’re out this far, I want to make sure he doesn’t have any other errands for us to do. I’d hate to get most of the way home and then have to turn around to pick up some sushi or something he can only get on the outer planets.”

Dom chuckled at that last bit, though he was honestly thinking the same thing. All he wanted was to get back to Turks and Caicos, get in the calm water, and float away all the stress of the last few weeks. He enjoyed space but needed the connection with Earth and the water to recharge and rejuvenate. Plus, there were some stunning women on the last trip, though they’d probably be gone by now. “Oh, well,” he thought. “There’s plenty more where that came from.”

Desire shook her head, trying to be discreet about reading Dom’s thoughts, but she gave herself away with a chuckle of her own.

“What’s so funny?” Dom asked, embarrassed that she caught his last thought.

“Nothing, just boys will be boys,” she said. She couldn’t blame him. She had a great time on her trip to Akumal and understood the attraction he had for the tropics, the current island planet notwithstanding. A thought of going on a trip with Dom raced through her mind, which she quickly squashed. She sat back in her seat and closed her eyes preparing for takeoff.

Jock eased up on the stick, and the TX lifted off, pulling up above the tree line. He took a quick glance down as the lab facility came into view. He saw a man, who he assumed was the scientist, racing around the area like a crazy person.

Lydia tended to the crate in the back of her shuttle. But she quickly ran over to the man, waving and pointing frantically. Jock didn’t like the look of what was going on, but there was no way he was getting suckered into saving another damsel in distress, no matter how electric she was.

The ship pulled away through the atmosphere and soon they were in the deep black of space. Jock set the boosters on high, trying to gain some time on the way back.

Dom settled in with his comm reader and found where he’d left off earlier with the latest Hollywood gossip. One of the lead actresses of the new Venusian film, Angels Spurned was looking at property on Turks and Caicos. “Hmmm…he thought, wouldn’t that be a nice coincidence.”

“God, I wish I would have taken a shower before lift-off,” Jock said and shuffled in his flight suit. “Man, that planet was hot.”

“We should have taken a dip when we had the chance,” Dom said.

“Agent Wagner, I don’t have a bathing suit with me,” Desire teased.

“That’s ok,” Dom replied. “We’re all adults here.”

“You kidding?” Jock said. “Probably filled with electric eels. Speaking of eels, I’ve never felt any kind of shock like that before. That was pretty weird.”

“What’s a science hottie like that doing living with a bunch of creepy eels and frogs and snakes anyway?” Dom asked.

Jock rolled his eyes. “Maybe she digs the work they’re doing.”

“Maybe she has a thing for the scientist,” Dom said, trying to get a rise out of Jock.

Jock rolled his eyes again. “I doubt it. She didn’t seem like the type to mix work and play.”

“Well, well, well,” Dom said. “Someone has a little crush after all. That was fast.”

Desire giggled. She liked the thought of Jock getting a second chance after the princess thing.

“I didn’t say that,” Jock said, trying to change the subject. “Oh, and by the way, Dom, I forgot to mention an Adjuster showed up on Veibos looking for you.”

“What! When? How!” Dom asked, starting to sweat again. “Did you blast him?”

“No, that's the funny part,” Jock said. “He showed up right before we let the snakes and frogs loose and then I never saw him again.”

“Wow, so our slimy buddies took him out?” Dom asked.

“No, he wasn’t in the pile of dead things when we cleaned up,” Jock said. “Maybe he’s following us.”

Now Dom was really sweating. “So what happened to him?”

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Jock said. “But he said you owe him 50 million Earth dollars. Guess you lucked out. That could have been worse than getting stuck with your little flippery wart friend.”

Dom was seriously uncomfortable. “Next time I get kidnapped, I’ll bring my checkbook, I guess.”

Desire giggled. “It’s a Gwart.”

“Wart, Gwart, potato, potatoe,” Jock said. Anyway, I hope our time as cargo pilots is at an end. Maybe after this last drop, we’ll be out of the doghouse and never have to think about that again.”

“We can only hope,” Desire said.

Dom was trying to cool down but to no avail. He flipped through the comm chip but wasn’t able to find anything he hadn’t read. He put it down and vegged out while he tried to cool off. The sweat from his flight suit wasn’t drying, and he could smell the stink of his body underneath.

“I need to take a shower before I make myself puke again,” Dom said. “We just got the stench of the last mission out of the ship, and I don’t want to add to it.”

For a brief second, Desire thought about joining him. But that moment faded quickly. Dom tossed her his comm chip, unbuckled himself and walked to his quarters for a long, hot shower.

Desire started flipping through it, not really reading, more just passing the time. She slowly drifted into a micronap, dreaming she was once again home, seeing her father, envisioning her mother long ago, feeling the love from her parents as she dozed off to sleep.

Jock put his hand on her knee, gently shaking her awake. She looked uncomfortable with her head at an awkward angle.

“Why don’t you head back to your cabin and get some real sleep?” he said. “It’ll be several hours before we’re back home so someone might as well get some rest.”

She slipped out of the seat and headed to her cabin. She heard Dom’s shower turn off, but he didn’t come out of his quarters. She guessed he was just going to sleep, too.

All alone in the cockpit, with only JAXX to keep him company, Jock enjoyed the silence of space, craving a night of sleep in his own bed.

The passing sky grew darker and the stars streaked by as they made their way into outer space and beyond. Soon Jock would make the warp jump home and get back to his usual routine on the space station.

JAXX sounded a siren across the ship to wake the crew. After the warp jump, Jock had put the TX on autopilot and fell asleep at the wheel.

Dom sat straight up in his bed, cursing. Desire was already awake after several micronaps and thought it was peculiar. Jock immediately went on alert.

Dom and Desire both raced to the cockpit to see what the commotion was about.

JAXX chirped up with a message from Commander Weisman. The connection was bad due to the solar activity, but they could read the tension in his voice.

“Where are you, Major?” Weisman asked.

Jock rubbed his eyes and pulled up the coordinates. “Just on the other side of the Equus system,” Jock said. “We should be to the Constellation later tonight.”

“What happened to the scientist?” Weisman asked.

“What do you mean? We dropped off the creepy cargo to his assistant and went on our merry way,” Jock said. “We never actually met him. I may have seen him when we were taking off, but I’m not sure.”

“Well, something happened then,” Weisman said. “We haven’t been able to reach him since you left.”

“Maybe it’s just the solar activity?” Desire wondered. “Our connection with you is breaking up. Maybe that’s why you haven’t been able to contact him.”

“No, I’m afraid not,” Weisman said. “Are you sure everything was okay?”

“Yeah, we’re all hunky dory up here,” Dom said. He looked over at Jock and shrugged, then turned to Desire. But then his eyes widened as he looked past her into the passageway to the back of the ship.

“Except for the giant frogman playing hopscotch in the cargo bay on his way toward the cockpit,” Dom said, leaping to his feet.

Desire screamed!

Dom wasn’t being brave, but his instincts told him to get up and run toward the giant frogman. It was more of a reflex action than any sort of plan. He had no idea what he was going to do once he got to the creature.

“Sorry, Commander,” Jock said. “We’re going to have to call you back.”

He unbuckled from his seat and raced after Dom. “JAXXY, see if you can find any info on how to kill a giant frogman.”

Desire gasped but quickly followed to see what she could do. By the time Jock and Desire got to the cargo bay, Dom and the creature were face to frog.

“Damn, Dom,” Jock yelled. “I didn’t realize you were that short.”

Seeing the creature up close was quite a sensory shock for Jock. There was nothing cute about a two-meter high slimy, warty, toady creature suddenly all up in his spaceship, preparing to do whatever it wanted to his crew.

Dom punched it in the nose. He didn’t know what else to do, and instinct took over again. He punched it a second time. The creature stopped and stared back at him. It seemed just as confused as Dom as to its sudden larger presence. And the fact that it had been punched in the nose, not once but twice.

Dom punched it a third time.

The frogman took stock of the situation and looked down at his stubby armlegs. The flurry of punches had stunned him, but now its instincts kicked in or at least its newly developed mutant-grown instincts. He reached out with his stubby appendages and picked Dom up and flipped him into an upside-down bear hug.

“Why am I the one who always gets into it with these freaky creatures?” he yelled.

Jock and Desire inched closer, as the creature hopped back to the cargo hold where it had more room to move around. It started shaking Dom up and down, not sure what to do with its captured prey. The frogman lifted him over his shoulder to make hopping easier and flicked out a long tongue, which lapped Dom’s face.

“Oh, my God!” Dom yelled, “he just slurped me!” He looked over at Jock and Desire. “A little help over here would be nice! Anytime now!”

Jock moved around to the side of the creature where Dom was closest.

“I can try to pry you loose from the frog’s armleg,” Jock said. He didn’t know what else to do, but it seemed like a good start.

Jock lunged toward the creature, but it moved and flicked him back with his other armleg. Jock flew back against the wall, his back jammed into a light panel.

“So much for that idea!” he said, stumbling to his feet.

The frogman seemed to be learning about his new mobility, growing stronger by the second.

Jock shook himself off and made another run at the frog creature, pummeling it with a headbutt to the abdomen. The creature faltered and dropped Dom, but quickly regained its sense of balance. It grabbed both of them, one in each arm, and hopped around the cargo bay.

The two men looked at each other. “Well, at least we’re not in the cockpit where we can crash the ship!” Dom yelled.

Desire raced past the hopping creature, ignoring the screams of her male companions. She needed to get back to her stateroom and figure something out. The ship rocked back and forth with the weight of the frogman and his two grown prey.

“JAXXY,” Jock yelled, “any secret tricks or internal weapons you think we might not have noticed on the ship? Any kind of sprinkler system or laughing gas canisters you can deploy?”

“I’m sorry, Major,” JAXX replied. “I’ve done a quick scan of the weapons system, and nothing was designed for internal use. You’ll just have to fight it off yourself.”

“Thanks, JAXX,” Dom said. “That’s a really big help. Can you see if you can rouse sleeping beauty Desire in her stateroom? It looks like she went to take a nap while we’re fighting whatever the hell this thing is.”

The frogman’s strength was growing by the minute. It seemed like he had the strength of ten men. He was slowly alternating between squeezing his prey in his arms and jumping up and down, with the slobbering goo from his tongue bathing Jock and Dom in smells they’d never dreamed.

Desire ran back to the cargo bay with a laser blaster. The frogman seemed to be enjoying his exertion with Jock and Dom.

“Um, are you going to blast this thing?” Dom yelled. “If so, do you want to make sure you’re close enough so that you don’t blast us?”

“Well, that was the plan,” Desire screamed. “Do something to get it in position and duck your heads back,” she said.

“Special Liaison Desire,” JAXX said, “I do want to warn you about firing a blaster of that size inside the ship. The chances of damage are 248 to 1. Please be careful.”

Jock and Dom ducked and tried as they might to pry themselves loose from the frogman’s armlegs. Desire stepped closer and lined up the shot with the frogman’s bumpy belly. She closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.

“Bull’s-eye!” Dom yelled.

Jock and Dom dropped to the floor as the frogman doubled over from the shot. Desire pulled the trigger again, shooting it in the head for the double-tap kill shot. That only made things worse for Jock and Dom as the brains and blood and guts from the frogman splurted out all over them. It wasn’t a pretty sight. And it smelled terrible!

“Damn, there goes another flight suit!” Dom screamed.

“So much for a clean ship, Desire,” Jock said. “I just finished getting the fish puke smell out of it.”

Jock turned to Dom and threw some goo in his face. “Thanks for knocking open that cage on Polarus by the way.”

“Hey, would you mind grabbing us a few of those towels from the cockpit?” Dom asked as Desire stepped forward to help him and Jock off the floor.

She had to twist one of the frogman’s armlegs from around Jock’s waist as its reflexes hadn’t let loose yet. He was being squeezed around the stomach and could barely breathe. Dom didn’t have as much of a problem, what with trying to take a bite of the frogman’s armleg as a last-ditch effort to free himself.

“Mmmmm…that was tasty,” he said. “If it weren’t for the fact that this thing was a giant mutation created by who knows what kind of chemical solution and crazy scientist, I’d say we chop this sucker up, grill him up and serve him up with a vat of melted butter.”

Jock stared back, not amused. “That freak thing almost killed us, and you want to eat it? That’s sick, man, really sick.”

“Well, hey, it was just a thought,” Dom replied. “What else are we going to do with it?”

“Um, Commander Weisman wants us to throw it on ice back in the cargo hold,” Desire said, walking back from the cockpit and handing each of them a towel. She stepped back from them as far as possible, trying to keep herself from puking at the stench.

“And why would he want us to do that?” Dom asked.

“Because he’s ordering us back to the island planet to locate the scientist,” Desire said.

Jock wiped the greasy frog guts off his face and neck, as he felt it drip down the front of his flight suit. Dom hadn’t fared much better. His entire upper body bore the brunt of the expulsion of goo.

“Well, Jock,” he said, “at least you get to meet up with your pretty science lady again. Much sooner than expected. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled.”

“That’s how the commander knew the scientist was in trouble,” JAXX chimed in. “I was keeping Commander Weisman updated while you were both fighting it out with the frogman. He knew you could defeat it, just for the record. While we were online, JACOB received an urgent SOS transmission from the assistant. The connection wasn’t very clear, but Commander Weisman wants you to find out what happened.”

“Maybe he was killed by one of his giant frogmen,” Dom said disgustedly. I mean, why is he experimenting with these things in the first place if they’re dangerous? Oh God, what if they’re poisonous like the ones we delivered! I could be dying.”

“JAXXY, Desire, can you guys run a sample on this goo to make sure we’re not dying?” Jock asked, ignoring Dom’s theatrics.

“Neither of you is dying,” JAXX said. “Commander Weisman confirmed that his last shipment was just your average horny toads from Earth.”

“Thank, God,” Desire said.

“Do we really have to go back?” Jock asked.

“Yes,” JAXX replied. “Commander Weisman ordered you back to investigate. You’re the closest team he has to the planet right now. He’s sending Captain Breck’s squadron on the double as backup, but he’s still tied up cleaning up the slave mess.”

“Nothing like a little adventure mixed in with romance, eh Jock?” Dom asked. “You’re getting your fill of that lately.”

Jock stared at Dom, not amused.

“Well, think of it this way,” Dom said, “you can play the rescue hero again, save the day, kiss the girl, and then leave tomorrow to find yet another dame in another system.”

Desire stayed silent, but she got into Jock’s head, her curiosity getting the better of her. She could tell he was excited about seeing the assistant again. All thoughts of the Princess were gone from his head. All he could think about was the assistant.

“Well,” Desire said, “I suppose we should get this creature in the cargo hold ASAP before it starts to stink up the place even more. Where did we leave the trash bags?”

The stench overpowered the ship’s ventilation system, even after Desire washed down the deck with bleach water. She wasn’t happy to be cleaning up after the boys again but felt it was the least she could do while they disposed of the body.

Dom considered chopping off a bit of the frogman’s leg to serve up for dinner that night, but Jock grabbed the laser saw before he could go through with it.

“I assume the good doctor will want all the pieces and part of this specimen,” Jock said.

“Well, as much as we can piece together after Desire blasted his guts all over us and the ship,” Dom replied. “I wonder if there’s any crazy mutation virus on us now. Maybe we’ll get some awesome superpowers from this. Maybe we can change into mega-men and perform heroic deeds and save more damsels in distress.”

“You need to stop reading stupid things on your comm stat,” Jock said. He dropped the last part of the frogman into the hold and slid the deck cover in place. He grabbed the power ratchet and bolted it down. The creepy creature was dead, but he wanted to make sure it couldn’t reanimate itself and wreak more havoc.

With the cargo area as back to normal as could be expected, Desire broke the news to them. “You guys stink,” she said, “I mean, seriously, you guys need to go take showers and then take them again, and maybe a third time for good measure. And be sure to use soap this time.”

“Ha, ha, very funny,” Dom said. “Maybe you’d like to supervise? Make sure I don’t miss any spots?”

“No, that’s quite all right,” she said. “I’m sure you can manage just fine on your own. I’ll be in the cockpit getting us set up to head back to the planet. JAXX will keep me company. Maybe this time I can beat him in Scrabble.”

Jock took a whiff of his flight suit and almost passed out in the process. The creature’s entrails smelled strongly of ammonia. Mixed in with the bleach Desire used to clean the deck, it was a potent combo.

“I’m gonna go sit down before I fall down,” Jock said. “Then I’ll take the hottest shower of my life to get this stench off me.”

“Good idea,” Dom said, as he caught a whiff of himself. “Hot shower, coming right up.”

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.
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