After a few seconds of ethereal wind-chime sounds, Viking appeared in the middle of the room in a flurry of lights. He was looking around, quite entertained by the pretty colours.

“Viking!” Ned shouted and jumped up to hug his friend.

“Wow! You found me!” Viking replied, ignoring the hug.

Miscx stood up and looked at the pair approvingly. Arms folded with a sincere ‘that’s cute’ face pointed firmly at them.

“Are we done?” Viking asked. “Can we please go home now?”

“A nice chef is looking after Leon and Monday, you’re not arrested anymore. As soon as we find the car we can start looking for a way home. Assuming the big headed woman doesn’t get in our way again,” Ned said, ticking off his mental todo list.

Viking nodded. “Sounds great. Where do we start?” Viking stopped and looked over at Miscx. “Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” she said back, a glow coming from her exoskeleton torso.

Ned ignored the exchange. “So, Miscx, where do you think our car might be?”

They began strolling out of the room. Miscx waved to the rat-people as they left, they swooned appropriately as she did.

The three of them stepped out of the elevator. It had been decided that the best course of action was to check the shuttle parking area in hopes of finding a clue.

As they walked, Ned tried his best not to worry, but he was getting the feeling he would be stuck in space.


“Hey, Miscx, what’s this place for, anyway?” He asked.

“It’s a shuttle-park… we park shuttles here, my dude,” she replied.

“No, the city, ship, whatever it is. Where are we going? Why is it here?”

Miscx shrugged. “It does the circuit between the hub worlds. It hauls cargo, takes passengers, and is legally a planet of its own, so you can sell dubious things here, basically, within reason.”

“That’s cool,” Viking said, seemingly thinking about what she had said, though Ned was more convinced he wanted to appear to be thinking about what she said, while in actual fact he was thinking about her, generally speaking.

“So, how come you live here?” Ned asked.

“Well, when ships are big enough to need workers at the scale this one does, those workers usually need banks, schools, shops and bars. All those people need places to stay, live and somewhere to spend their hard earned cash. So, lots of massive ships like this, they just sort of evolve into worlds of their own, but worlds with a mission.”

Ned could see the logic. “What do you do for a job?” He asked.

“Oh, I use my special skills to sell booze to high end bars. I sell this wine that tastes like rocket fuel to posh wankers who drink too much and can afford to keep doing it.”

“A noble profession,” Viking said with a sincere grin.

Miscx laughed back. “Yeah, I suppose it is.”

Ned noticed Miscx’s lower regions glow again. He was a little grossed out at the implication. Miscx shot him a dagger filled look and went back to flirting with Viking.

“Well, do you recognise anything?” Miscx asked.

Ned and Viking were staring at a very familiar camper-van shuttle.

“Well, if we need a ride home, chances are, we got one, which is something,” Ned said, glibly, at the site of the van. “Not helping me find the car, though.”

Viking looked around at the rest of the sci-fi car park. It was a large, open, flat area of land with spray painted white squares to designate the edges of the ‘spaces,’ some of which were quite large. There were still only around half a dozen cars, sorry, ships, parked up.

Ned noticed Viking pondering things. He was still annoyed at the lack of progress, so he ignored the slab of a man.

Miscx looked a little bored and sat on the floor. She flicked out her wrist screen-thing and made the pointlessly engaged face that Ned knew quite well. She was playing a stupid video-game. His annoyance rose, though without any real cause or right. He sighed and ruffled his now greasy hair angrily. He began ranting at himself about how screwed up everything was. Miscx glanced up and smiled. Obviously less invested in his problems than he was.

“Hey, Ned,” Viking called from across the shuttle-car-park.

Ned ignored him and kicked the floor as if to teach it a lesson.

“Ned! Come over here,” Viking said again. This time, stern.

Ned ignored him again. He regretted not just staying in the pub and ignoring Viking’s accidental holiday.

“For the love of cheese, will you listen to me?” Viking said, now screaming at Ned.

Miscx looked on entertained as the two of them shouted at each other. She stood up and went to check what Viking was trying to show Ned.

After a few more seconds of shouting, Ned and Viking were both stopped mid-scream by the sound of an engine. An actual car engine. They turned to see the beautiful visage of the silver beast rolling around from behind the camper-van-shuttle.

“Wow! Miscx found the car!” Ned exclaimed excitedly.

“No! You bloody goon! I found it. That was what I was trying to tell you!”

Ned waved his hand dismissively and hugged the car. Which was now turned off as Miscx got out.

“You can drive a car?” Viking asked.

“Ha! It’s got wheels. It’s basically a kid’s toy.”

Viking nodded in agreement as a large shuttle passed overhead, as if to hammer home the point.

After some more, quite a few more, minutes of basically hugging the car, Ned managed to make sentences again.

“Wait, so it was here the whole time? Like, we could have found it just after we got here, if we were looking out of the side window, instead of the front one?”

His companions decided it was likely better not to answer him, but yes. Ned was right.

“Okay, let’s go get the guys and we’re outta here!” Ned finally said, deciding that there was no longer a reason to stay in space.

“Okay, let’s get back to Earth and find a pub!” Viking agreed.

They began marching towards the park and food tent when Ned realised that Miscx wasn’t following them. He stopped and slowly turned around, already knowing what devastating point she would raise.

“This is a spaceship, monkeys. And we’re doing a five-month loop around known space, with multiple stops. We’re not going to be near your planet for… I don’t know… another five months! And even then, you can’t possibly be expecting to ride a fucking tin with wheels through space!”

There was a loaded silence.

“And come to think of it, you never told me how you got here! There is no way you got here in that thing. Actually, how did it get here?” Miscx added with a stern thoroughly confused bug expression across her face… and presumably a similar expression appeared on whatever face Viking was seeing.

“Reasonable points raised, I’ll grant you that,” Ned said, hoping that somehow, it would all work itself out.

“How did we get home last time?” He asked Viking.

“Last time? Last time! This exact thing has happened before?” Miscx asked, now quite annoyed.

“So I’m told. I don’t remember. Not really,” Ned replied, looking to Viking for answers.


Ned, Viking, and Miscx sat in what appeared to be a coffee shop, but the waiter looked like a snake with a moustache. He took the order and a large robot frog brought them over. The place was quite busy and most people were just ordering milk and cookies to go, strangely.

Miscx had convinced Ned and Viking that the coffee shop’s signature beverage, coffee, was awful, hence likely ‘pretty good’ by their planet’s standards. It was likely not good enough to send them ‘nutty.’

“And that’s how we met you,” Ned finally finished recounting.

Miscx, who now knew exactly how they got to this point, was a little stunned at the series of events. “I thought someone picked you up as a prank. It happens all the time. I didn’t realise you had a psychic stalker!” she mulled. “And you’re sure the vampire who attacked you on your planet wasn’t a native?” She asked.

Ned and Viking were amused at the very idea that a vampire, wings and all, could be native to Earth, and no one noticed, not ever. Well, maybe Bram Stoker noticed, but no one took ol’ Bram seriously.

“So that’s a definite ‘no’ then?” Miscx asked, annoyed at the laughter. “You know, I could have gone to work today. Instead of hanging out with you idiots.”

“Why did you agree to help us, anyway?” Ned asked.

Miscx looked at Viking and her lower section glowed from under the table. “No reason, just seemed like the right thing to do was all,” she said, taking a sip from her coffee cup.

“Riiight,” Ned observed, dubiously.

She replied with an embarrassed glare.

“What do you think we should do then?” Viking asked.

Miscx thought about it and sipped at her coffee. “I don’t know. I mean, you were abducted, twice. And from what you said, whoever did it attempted to wipe your memory. Thing is, as far as I know, that’s not common technology. Whoever this woman is, she has cash or contacts. So you may not want to go to the police.”

Ned nodded. “Can I get another coffee?” He asked. He felt bad that he had no money, but the coffee was really good.

Miscx nodded and waved at the robot waiter. Coffee was delivered.

“Will they take us home if I tell them?”

Miscx nodded. “Yes, but the ship does a loop. There’s nothing saying she won’t just get you next time it passes by. I would prefer to know why she wants you at all.”

Viking finished his coffee. “I think I remember most things from that first night now. She said that Ned was special. Has some power to ‘see the unseen’ or something. She seemed to want to take his brain, or at least, that was the impression I got.”

“That would make sense. Why she wanted to bring you here, the sort of technology to remove a brain, or parts of a brain, wouldn’t be something you could transport without paperwork.”

There was a pause as Miscx thought of something. “Wait, you can remember the first time now?” she asked.

Viking nodded as he started his second cup of coffee.

“Well… you moron, why don’t you tell us how you got home last time?”

Ned looked at Viking expectantly.

“Oh right, yeah. First time Neetu got us while we were at the pub. I think stuff like this happens a lot to us, but my brain is still fizzy. Anyway…”

Chapter 14