Ned grabbed his small friend by the scruff of his neck and pulled him out of the blue water. Dropping him on the purple grass.

“Thanks!” Monday said, getting his breath. “Blue… water… is… heavy!” he added.

Ned raised an eyebrow and checked that the Monster-man was not coming his way. He was still striding towards Viking, who looked far less worried than he perhaps should have done. Ned took a moment and peered in closer to inspect the water.

The water was blue by virtue of glowing ‘wiggly things’ in it. He put a hand in and took a scoop of it. Sure enough, it really was heavier than water should have been, and the glow faded as the tiny, almost invisible ‘wigglers’ escaped with the drippings from his palm. Leaving plain old water. Ned looked at his hand and flicked the water off. It was dyed blue, as blue as it had been when he woke up ‘painted.’ He looked over at Monday, who was, surprisingly, not at all blue.

“Huh?” he commented to himself.

He shook off his concern and helped Monday to his feet. “Where’s Leon?” he asked.

Monday ignored the question; he was transfixed on the Monster-man. “He’s going to kill Viking!” he yelled, pointing like an extra in an action movie.

Ned, wasting no time, slapped the little idiot and dragged him by the hand towards the tent. It was at that point that he realised everyone else, the mostly human-looking rabble, were watching the events unfold, greatly entertained. No-one was interested in attempting to stop the action.

The man pulled back his mighty arm to punch Viking, who deftly stepped aside. While the monster-man was obviously powerful, even Viking’s huge form was nimble enough to avoid the telegraphed attack. Viking was literally side-stepping every punch effortlessly.

“Really, Monday, you let that bloody idiot get you?” Ned said judgingly.

“You didn’t do any better!” Monday parried, accurately.

“Alright, good point. Where’s Leon?” he asked as they entered the tent.

There were a handful of people in there. Some were lizard looking, two cats and an oddly tall woman having dinner. A serving counter was at the back with a naked insect man serving. Well, he was naked aside from the chef’s hat, obviously.

Ned noted that the man was the same species as the woman he had met earlier, with the pink dressing gown.

He looked around to see a figure at the end of the serving bar on a stool. Sure enough, there was Leon, eating a burger. And by the looks of the pile of empty plates next to him, it was not his first.

“Leon, you goblin!” Ned yelled as he walked over. The other people in there glanced at him and went back to their polite conversation.

Leon looked back, waved and returned to his burger. The naked chef brought over another plate of fries and handed them to him. He looked very entertained.

“You survived!” the chef said, looking at the still dripping wet Monday.

“Yeah, I think I almost had him!” he replied.

Ned sighed and shook his head. “Seriously, what is wrong with you? You realise you were abducted by aliens, right?”

The chef looked over and made a clicking sound that Ned was pretty certain was chuckling. “Aye, mate, there are worse places to be stranded. We got the best food on the flight path and free parking!” His accent was oddly northern, which was unexpected.

“Not really my point! But good to know that when I do find my car, it likely won’t be clamped,” Ned said in sarcastic reply.

The chef click-chuckled again.

Ned realised that Leon hadn’t looked up from his plate since they initially found him. “What’s wrong with him anyway?” he asked.

Monday sighed. “Turns out the food may be a bit addictive. Chef Klizakz says he should get it out of his system in an hour or so when he passes out.”

Ned pointed at the chef, “Klasks?” he queried.

“Klizakz. Head chef,” he replied with a little bow.

“The food really addictive?” he asked.

Klizakz shrugged and clicked in a thoughtful way. His insectoid facial pincers tapping together for a moment. “Not really, but Monday said you never came to space before, so I doubt your planet has most the spices I used. It’s just so good he can’t stop. I’ve seen it before. He’ll pass out and feel like shit for about a week.”

There was a scream from outside the tent.

“Oh, shit, I forgot about Viking!” Ned said. “Monday, stay here, and don’t eat anything!”

Chef Klizakz made a slightly sad sound at hearing this.


Ned ran out of the tent to see Viking standing on the monster-man’s back and pulling on his arms, like he was some kind of monster sled.

“How the heck did that happen?” Ned mumbled as Viking waved at him gleefully.

The blue drone came back with two other drones, these ones were like floating pyramids and the edges had red and blue lights on them. They began spinning around Viking. After a moment a blue sparkling shield appeared over him.

“Wow, Ned! I’m getting arrested by little space ships! How cool is that?”

A pyramid drone turned around and floated closer to Ned. A little cattle prod looking stick popped out of the side.

“Stand back, sir.” It warned as pulsed its lights at him.

He put his hands up and backed away.

A blue tinted light shone down from above. Ned looked up. It was being projected down from the central lighting column above. The light zipped around for a moment before centring on Viking. It seemed to calibrate until it was pretty much perfectly around him. It then pulsed into a more solid looking shield and Viking lifted off the monster-man shortly before he too lifted off. After a second of hovering, they were simply blinked away up the tube. Ned heard a monotone “Weeeee” as Viking left.

The drone lights dimmed again, and they turned to leave.

“Excuse me! Space officer!” Ned said, now feeling safe to approach the drone.

“Yes?” it said with mechanical hissing.

“That was my friend. Where’s he been taken to? We’re new here. I’m not sure we’re even supposed to be here.”

The two other drones floated away, but the one Ned was talking to moved a little closer to him. “You come from that backwards planet with all the water and pollution?” it asked.

“Yeah, Earth!” Ned replied.

“Ugh, I don’t work for social services. Find an elevator and head to ‘Centre Two’ tell them you were snatched and they’ll drop you back. Happens all the time.”

Ned nodded, trying to remember ‘Centre Two.’ “That monster-man attacked my friend and I. He was just defending himself.”

The pyramid drone started floating up and away, but it called back. “Whatever. He’ll be out in an hour or so, once we check the cameras.”

A moment later, the drones had vanished in the pale moonlight of the central column.

There was a vague horn sound from the sky, and the central light increased in brightness suddenly. Ned managed to look away just before it dazzled him.

He walked back into the tent.

Monday was sitting next to Leon, now also in an eating trance.

“For fuck’s sake, Monday! What was the one thing I said?”

He chuckled, realising he now sounded like Viking.

“Well, Klizakz, my buddy has been arrested and taken to the sun. Also, someone turned up the lights outside.”

Chef Klizakz nodded. “Yeah, we only have the two brightness modes. Apparently the thing that makes it gradual is screwed. They sound a horn, so no dumbass looks at it.”

Ned rubbed his eyes.

“No offence.”

Ned grinned. “I’m starving. Is there anything you got that won’t turn me into a food zombie?”

Klizakz clicked. “Toast is pretty safe, mate.”

Ned sat down next to his friends and managed to resist the scent of perfect food while he waited for his toast.

Chapter 11