Chapter 49: A Difficult Decision
Experiment 426 stared at the scene before him, searching for some way to escape the situation he had found himself in.
They had blocked the exit, so he had nowhere to run. Besides that, they’d probably call in more alien things to capture him.
They probably would not listen to reason. Although he had not actually physically been in the room when Jumba and 419 had escaped, the aliens knew he had been on the ship with Jumba and probably would think he was one of them (which he was, but that’s besides the point.)
He doubted that he could distract them by, for example, pointing at a random place and shouting something like “Is that a demonic duck of some kind?” For one thing, these aliens would probably be a lot better at detecting the sudden arrival of foreign objects in the room. For another, 426 somewhat expected that their brains were wired to some kind of encyclopaedia, and so would know for a fact that there were no demonic ducks of any kind actually in existence.
He could not overpower them. The genetic template he was based on was several versions behind Experiment 626, so he was nowhere near as strong as him – and he had witnessed 626 struggling with these… things. Besides, 426 lacked the quick reflexes of 626, and he didn’t care to have them – he had expected to be logging data for Jumba right now on the status of his latest scientific achievements, not defending his life on a hostile ship far removed from his home in terms of both space and time.
No, the only way to go was up.
“Look, I’d love to stay,” he shouted dramatically, as the aliens menacingly advanced, “but I have a prior arrangement!”
And with that, he extended his claws and dug into the walls.
“Are you sure? Are you sure he’s out of range?”
Jumba looked up from the communicator’s screen and nodded. “Am absolutely positive. Radar shows 426 to be being outside blast radius of any possible explosion Pleakley could be causing.” He scratched his head. “But…”
419 groaned. “There’s a ‘but’?”
“But,” Jumba continued, holding up a giant finger to signal for silence, “there is chance that the resultant decompression could be blowing him out as well. From my rudimentary EM scans, there seems to be an inactive shield separator every kilometre, probably to deal with explosive decompressions like these until the main shields are able to be adapting. Worst case scenario is that the explosion takes out the shield generator for the quadrant 426 is being in, which means…”
He suddenly spotted the very distressed look on 419’s face.
“Er, well…, he has very strong claws, so I’m sure he’d be able to be holding on until the shields adjust… and besides, at the very worst he can be surviving in space, so…”
“Jumba, ika manoba!” Stitch warned. Jumba stopped talking – Stitch was quite right. The thought of 419 surviving – yes alive, but alone for all eternity in space – was probably far worse than him dying in the explosion, and not something 419 needed right now.
Jumba looked down at the worried experiment, his face falling slightly. He would need to comfort her, and he was no good at comforting.
“Look,” he said softly, his giant hand parting 419’s hair slightly as he placed it on her head. “You don’t have to go through with it. Not if you don’t want…”
“No, we h-h-have to…” she interrupted, nervous but resolute. “If we h-h-have any c-c-chance of s-saving L-l-little G-girl, we have to d-distract them.”
Jumba was surprised – not since her creation had he seen Experiment 419 stutter.
“Pleakley could round to another part of the ship…”
“N-no, t-this is the best place. It’s st-strategically the furthest from wh-what the m-map said L-little Girl p-probably is, and rep-p-presents, um, the muh, most concentrated area f-for energy gen-generators…”
“But if you have any doubt that 426 will survive…”
419 looked down. She then took a deep breath.
Suddenly staring straight into Jumba’s eyes, she said without stutter, “I’m sure if you’re sure, Unca Jumba.”
Jumba smiled. “He’s going to make it,” he said, assuredness in his voice.
Experiment 426 had made it half-way up the wall when it occurred to him that he should call the other walkie-talkie to assure the other guys that he was OK.
Of course, it probably wasn’t the best time – he had just dodged the claw-like arm of one of the drones, and another, having climbed up the wall to a razor-thin ledge, was now marching along it towards him as if it were strolling through Central Park. How the being stayed on the precipice was beyond 426’s comprehension but he suspected ninjas had something to do with it.
Seeing that he was now drawing level with the top of the hallway that led out of what had been Jumba’s cell, 426 began to make his way across the wall. The process was slow and tedious – since he had no claws in his feet, he was unable to scale the walls like his younger cousins; instead he was forced to climb by pulling out one claw, placing it slightly higher, and pulling out the next claw.
And that other drone was getting closer.
Finally, he reached the hallway opening. In one swift motion, he swung through the top – narrowly missing another drone’s spinning blade attachment thingy – and landed on the ground beyond the drone’s reach.
Made it! he cheered in his head. Now to find the others…
But then he felt a clammy hand pick him up by the shoulder, and whatever sense of victory he had briefly possessed deserted him in an instant.
Experiment 419 took one last look down the corridor. She knew Jumba had said he wasn’t anywhere near here, but still…
“OK, Pleakley. On my mark.”
“Rodger,” replied Pleakley over the communicator.
No one was coming.
He was smart. He was strong. He’d make it.
But what if he hadn’t…
“Open… open fire.”
“Rodger, firing a full spread of plasma torpedoes, and a continuous stream from the plasma blaster… now!.”
A small shiver pulsed through the ship. Pleakley’s bombardment was obviously having some effect, but it seemed to be small.
“Okay, they appear to have adapted their shields now,” rang Pleakley’s voice through the communicator. “Um… I’ve managed to knock out a bit of stuff, but nowhere near what we planned.”
Silence fell. The plan had failed.
But at least 426 was…
“Launching rigged hyperdrive.”
“Pleakley, what do you mean, hyperdr…!”
All of a sudden, an almighty boom rang from the direction they had come. A string of shock waves forced them to the floor – it was almost as if the ground had been made from ballistics gel after someone had fired a gun through it.
“Pleakley, what have you done!” 419 shouted angrily through the communicator.
“Well, I-I-I rigged a shuttle hyperdrive with a timed explosive!” Pleakley whimpered, his voice’s pitch rising significantly. “I thought it would work as a backup…”
“I wasn’t being serious!” 419 yelled.
As the pulsations through the floor ceased, Jumba snatched the communicator back from 419.
“How did you rig a shuttle hyperdrive explosion?”
“I… er, well, I found the instructions in Jumba’s ship database.”
419 turned her glare from the communicator to Jumba, who had suddenly turned pale, his face wearing a rather sheepish look.
“You. Had. Instructions?”
Each word sliced through the air as a glarvin would through the air of Plorganaaf. Jumba gulped a little.
“Naga itsuka,” said Stitch, cutting him off. He was right, blaming people wasn’t the right way to do things.
But it made 419 feel better.
“Look, I-I-I am evil genius. What do you expect to be in evil genius database?”
Jumba was right as well, of course.
So, rather than replying, 419 satisfied herself with merely glaring in Jumba’s general direction.