Norman Normalson: A Biography: Part 4: Freaky Friends

Catch up Norman’s Bio here.

Norman was assigned a guide who the school labeled a buddy. Norman was more embarrassed about being assigned a friend than he was to have no friends. His buddy was odd looking, even for an Epatrusian. He? She? Norman wasn’t sure. His buddy had a pointy head and spoke robotically.

Through the magic of conversation, Norman learned that his buddy was a girl and her name was…

“Hey, Pinhead, who’s this? Your new pet,” taunted Langle Dodger, the school bully, and all-around not nice person.

“This is Norman,” said Pinhead. “Norman is a new student. I am Norman’s buddy and guide.”

“Pinhead has a buddy,” said Dangle Hartzakk. “That’s sweet.”

“What is it?” asked Langle Dodger. “It’s weird looking, even weirder than you, Pinhead.”

“It is a human from the planet Earth,” said Pinhead. “You may recall learning about humans in our alien species class earlier this year. They are technologically deficient but are an interesting species.”

“They’re gross,” said Dangle Hartzakk. “Look Langle, it’s beige and doesn’t even have a tail.”

“Or a mustache,” Langle Dodger added. “What’s wrong with you? Did someone cut off your tail and mustache and bleach you in butterscotch?”

“What?” asked Norman.

“Humans typically range in color from dark brown to off-white,” said Pinhead. “They lost their tails due to an evolutionary anomaly. Though, I am fairly certain they are supposed to have mustaches, except females. It may be a female.”

“I’m not a female,” said Norman. “We don’t all have mustaches, especially not at 8-years-old.”

“Why not, human?” asked Langle Dodger. “Can’t you grow one?”

“No,” said Norman. “I’m 8.”

“Hey, Langle, look at me, I can’t grow a mustache, ’cause I’m only 8,” said Shmelton Smelzlykbhut, another of Langle Dodger’s cronies.

“I’m 8, and my mustache is yelpsnig,” said Dangle Hartzakk.

Shmelton continued in his mocking tone, “I can’t grow a mustache, ’cause I’m only a girl.”

“What’s wrong with being a girl?” asked Kjhyu Rohtijhok. “I’m a girl, and I have the best mustache here.”

Another girl who was walking by was offended by Shmelton’s remark. “Seriously, Shmelton? You are so ignorant.”

“I mean human girls,” said Shmelton. “Human girls are gross. You’re wonky yelpsnig, KAI.”

Kjhyu smacked Shmelton with her tail. “What about me?”

“Why are you guys always picking on people?” KAI asked. “You’re so immature.”

“It’s the immature one,” said Dangle Hartzakk. “It can’t even grow a mustache.”

“Humans mature at an exponentially slower rate than Epatrusians,” said Pinhead.

“Yeah, humans are extraspelantially slow,” said Shmelton.

“Exponentially,” Pinhead corrected. “It means we mature much faster than them.”

“Humans abduct people, you know,” said Shmelton.

“No, we don’t,” said Norman.

KAI said, “You better get to class before the doors lock.” She shook her head as she walked away.

“Come on, you guys,” said Kjhyu. “I’m not spending another period with the Splajargón.”

“Yeah,” said Langle Dodger. “See you later, Pinhead, Human.”

“I am certain you will as we are in the same class,” said Pinhead.

“Who were those guys?” asked Norman, when Langle Dodger and his cronies were safely out of sight.

“Langle Dodger, Dangle Hartzakk, Shmelton Smelzlykbhut, and Kjhyu Rohtijhok,” said Pinhead. “They are bullies. They like to pick on my friends and me. They call us The Freaks.”

“You have friends?” Norman asked. He immediately blushed as he didn’t intend for it to come out sounding so mean.

“Of course,” said Pinhead. “Do not you have friends?”

“I did on Earth,” said Norman.

“I see,” said Pinhead. “I will be your friend. I will ask my friends if they would also like to have you as a friend.”

“Thanks, but I’d like to try to make my friends myself,” Norman said. He was wary of starting his new life on Epatrus as one of The Freaks.

“That is understandable,” said Pinhead. “My offer will remain open to you should you fail to make friends of your own.”

“Uh, thanks,” said Norman. “Is your name really Pinhead?”

“No,” said Pinhead. “My name is Survey Schlitziholtz. I am often referred to as Pinhead due to an unfortunate physical feature of which you may be aware.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” said Norman.

“My friends call me Schlitzie,” said Pinhead. “It is an affectionate truncation of my surname, Schlitziholtz.”

“I get it,” said Norman. “My name’s Norman.”

“I am aware,” said Schlitzie. “You said you are not a female, despite your complete lack of mustache. Is that correct?”

“Yeah, I’m a boy,” said Norman. “What about you? I hope that’s not a rude question. I’m new to Epatrus. I can’t always tell. On Earth, a mustache is a good indicator. On Epatrus, everybody has mustaches, even the babies.”

“I am a female,” said Schlitzie. “I also hope it is not a rude question. I cannot always tell. I often offend people with my blunt, direct questions and statements.”

“It wasn’t intended to be rude,” said Norman.

“That is what counts,” said Schlitzie.

“So, if we’re not on time, we can get locked out of class?” asked Norman. “I might be late a lot.”

“I would not recommend it,” said Schlitzie.

“It was a joke,” said Norman.

“Not only do the doors lock, but the floors open,” said Schlitzie.

“What now?” Norman asked, incredulously.

“It is a security measure that acts as a deterrent for truancy,” said Schlitzie. “It keeps students from being late or escaping classes.”

“Escaping?” asked Norman.

“Some people do not like to learn,” said Schlitzie. “I do not understand it. I desire to know everything.”

“Is that possible?” asked Norman.

“No, but I will do my best,” said Schlitzie.

“What’s a Splajargón?” asked Norman.

“The Splajargón is a creature that lives under the school,” said Schlitzie. “When the floors open, anyone who was standing on them will drop into its pit.”

“Does it eat them?” asked Norman.

“It used to, but parents complained,” said Schlitzie. “I do not know why. I guess parents even love bad children.”

“Wait, the creature doesn’t eat kids because parents complained?” asked Norman.

“That is correct,” said Schlitzie. “Here is our class. Ms. Chartel is a good teacher. She is tough but fair.”

“Who was that girl?” asked Norman, pausing at the door.

“Which?” asked Schlitzie.

“The one who was talking back to Langle and them,” said Norman.

“That was KAI,” said Schlitzie. “Are you attracted to her? Most of the boys in school are.”

“No. I… I don’t know,” said Norman, embarrassed. “She’s an alien with a mustache.”

“Here, you are the alien,” said Schlitzie.

“Oh yeah,” said Norman. “She’s nice.”

“I concur,” said Schlitzie, as she opened the door.

Norman and Schlitzie entered. The doors locked behind them.

“You’re cutting it close today, Survey,” said Ms. Chartel.

“That is correct,” said Schlitzie. “I have been placed in charge of the new student. I was showing it… him around.”

“You must be Norman,” said Ms. Chartel. “Norman Normalson.”

“I am,” said Norman.

Ms. Chartel extended her tail toward Norman. She paused awkwardly when she realized he didn’t have a tail to shake.

“Class, this is our new student, Norman Normalson,” said Ms. Chartel. “Norman is a human. Does anybody know from where humans come?”

“Uranus,” said Dangle Hartzakk.

“You’re very close, Dangle,” said Ms. Chartel. “Good try.”

In the back of the class, a small girl whispered to a boy beside her. The boy wagged his tail in the air.

“Yes, Algernon,” said Ms. Chartel.

“Earth,” said Algernon, last name withheld.

“Excellent, Algernon,” said Ms. Chartel. She added semi-sarcastically, “Good answer, Ylna. Good teamwork.”

Ylna, the girl who gave Algernon the answer, slunk down in her seat.

Schlitzie took a seat in the back next to Ylna and Algernon and their friends. One of whom didn’t have a mustache. The other looked like he or she, Norman still wasn’t always sure, had robotic arms and legs. Norman followed and sat by Schlitzie.

On the way to his seat, Norman saw Langle Dodger, Dangle Hartzakk, Shmelton Smelzlykbhut, and Kjhyu Rohtijhok. They were in a section, whispering to each other and smirking at Norman. He also saw KAI who smiled as he walked by. Norman blushed and looked away.

The first half of the day seemed to last forever. Even during recess, Norman had to stay in and talk to the teacher. Ms. Chartel wanted to talk to Norman and get a feel for how he was feeling about his new school and where he was with his education. Norman tried to explain as politely as he could that he felt significantly out of place and that school on Epatrus was nothing like school on Earth. Ms. Chartel assigned Schlitzie to be Norman’s tutor. Norman tried to resist, but Ms. Chartel insisted.

Norman could either accept Schlitzie as his tutor, take the bonus school courses during breaks, and study like knowledge was water and he was lost in the desert or go back to preschool and start from the beginning. Norman already had two strikes against him. He was human, and he wore the same clothes every day. It was hard to find clothes that would fit a human on Epatrus. All the pants had holes in the butts for people’s tails. Starting over in preschool as an 8-year-old would make his status as an outcast permanent. Norman accepted.

Schlitzie was happy with the assignment. She was brilliant and loved to put her wealth of knowledge on display. She also liked the idea of having someone to study with and the possibility of a new friend.

During lunch, Schlitzie dragged Norman along to meet her other friends.

“Norman, this is Ylna Aleny, Tasha Rhokzmisox, Doebee Kazkah, and Algernon, last name withheld,” said Schlitzie.

As Schlitzie said their names, they each reached out their tails to Norman. Realizing Norman didn’t have a tail, they all patted him on the back while muttering some form of greeting.

Norman thought they looked pretty normal, for Epatrusians. None was as odd looking as Schlitzie. Ylna was pretty small. Doebee was the one with mechanical arms and legs, but that was kind of cool. Algernon didn’t have a mustache, but he could have shaved it. Maybe it was a fashion statement. Tasha looked completely normal. She was also the only one he knew for sure was a girl.

“Ylna, Algernon, Tasha, and Doebee, this is Norman,” said Schlitzie. “He does not come with a tail.”

“Of course not,” said Doebee. “Humans have neither tails nor hearts.”

“Humans have hearts,” said Ylna, “but only one.”

“’Cause they eat the other one, right?” said Tasha. “They’re unusual.”

“No, they only have one,” said Ylna.

“They don’t have mustaches,” said Algernon. “It’s nice not to be the only one for once.”

“Some humans do,” said Norman. “I just can’t grow one, yet.”

“That’s what my mom says about me,” said Algernon. “It’s just something nice people say to people with disabilities.”

“I’m not sure not being able to grow a mustache counts as a disability,” said Norman.

The others looked at him like he just said, “My sister is a lobster, and she’s going to marry the Prince of Egypt in a special ceremony inside an active volcano on the moon.”

Epatrusians have never heard of lobsters, so that would make no sense to them.

“Hey look, the human’s right at home with The Freaks,” said Dangle Hartzakk.

“Yeah, it’s Norman Normalson And The Not So Normals,” said Langle Dodger.

“It looks like you’re still the only girl in the group, Tasha,” said Shmelton.

“I’m not a girl,” said Tasha.

“You’re not?” asked Norman.

“I’m a girl,” said Ylna.

“I am female,” said Schlitzie.

“It is funny, I would think the cyborg would be the one to talk like a robot,” said Kjhyu, mimicking a robotic accent.

“Get his arms,” said Langle Dodger.

Shmelton and Dangle each got on one side of Doebee, grabbed his arms, and pulled. His arms detached. They ran around chasing each other with Doebee’s arms. Doebee chased them. His robotic legs caught up quickly, but he couldn’t do anything without his arms.

“Come on, Norman,” said Tasha. “We have to help Cy.”

“Who’s Cy?” asked Norman.

“Doebee,” said Algernon. “It’s his nickname. It’s short for cyborg.”

“I wish I had a nickname,” said Tasha. “Anything would be better than having a girl’s name.”

“Ha ha! You’re a girl,” said Gonyul Squompfus.

Gonyul wasn’t officially a member of Langle Dodger’s group, but he liked to come around when they were picking on people. In typical bully style, he couldn’t bully anyone by himself.

“Very original, Gonyul,” said Tasha. “You’re such a goofus.”

“I’m gonna tell. That’s hurtful,” said Gonyul.

Bullies love to be mean to others, but can’t take any reproach. Gonyul ran off crying.

“Ooh, you made Gonyul cry,” said Kjhyu. “You guys are gonna get it.”

“Why would you get in trouble for Gonyul making fun of you?” Norman asked Tasha.

“Gonyul’s Principal Exsor’s pet,” said Tasha.

“Yes, Principal Exsor always takes his side,” said Schlitzie.

“That doesn’t seem like appropriate behavior for a principal,” said Norman.

“Let’s go, everybody,” said Langle Dodger. “Gonyul’s crying again.”

Langle Dodger’s posse reformed like an evil Voltron and ran off. On their way, Shmelton and Dangle threw Cy’s arms into a nearby recycling chute.

Everything on Epatrus is recycled. There is no waste. Even waste gets recycled. There’s more about that in Norman Normalson & The Normals. The recycling chutes automatically separated all recyclables. The foodstuff was composted to assist in growing more food. The containers were sterilized, broken down, and made into fresh, new containers. So on and so on.

Things that weren’t supposed to be recycled were separated and sent to the recycled and retrieved. Cy’s appendages ended up there often. The recycled and retrieved attendant knew Cy was coming every time a robotic appendage wound up in her stack. Cy missed a lot of classes due to recovering an arm or a leg or two. On those days, he stayed in there and helped Sindee, short for Sindularia, sort through the items. He got to know what belonged to whom pretty well.

“Don’t you guys know it’s not cool to bully people?” Norman asked.

“It’s way cooler than getting bullied,” said Shmelton.

“Bye, freaks,” said Dangle Hartzakk.

“Bye, normals,” said Langle Dodger, sarcastically.

“Normals,” said Kjhyu. “That’s a good one, Langle.”

“Dang right,” said Langle Dodger. “That’s why I said it. Norman Normalson and the Normals.”

With that, Norman was officially one of The Freaks.

Cancer! Death! Boom!

Norman Normalson: A Biography: Part 3: Bathroom Adventures

Catch up on Norman’s Bio here.

Once FloBloLo deactivated the security system, which took him a lot less time than it took you to read his bio, the ship was easy pickings for the pirates. They went from room to room taking everything of value. There was a constant stream of goods being teleported back to the Space Ship Stuff Stealer. They hit the jackpot when they found the cargo hold.

When they couldn’t find anything else to steal, FloBloLo reactivated the security systems and two Radbots. They weren’t completely evil. They left the two to make sure the ship was piloted to its next stop, and everyone was awakened when they arrived at their destinations. They were pirates, not monsters. They didn’t want anyone to die. They just wanted to take all their stuff. They took the rest of the Radbots.

The monsters, I mean pirates ‘ported back to the Space Ship Stuff Stealer. They unclamped their clamps and set off for the next adventure in thievery. They left the Flying Vessel Christopher Columbus under the control of its autopilot, Jake, to fly on its way to its predetermined destination.

That was pretty much the only thing of note to happen during the voyage. Well, there was this one thing… Never mind. You don’t want to read about how the ship passed dangerously close to the planet Splajara Prime, which was being held by the dragon people of XeXat and was almost confiscated with all passengers being taken for slaves. It was only an almost anyway. A small band of rebel Splajargóns saved them. It’s not that interesting.

When they reached the Ventayen System, home to Epatrus, Norman and Ned were brought out of stasis.

“…on this stupid trip, anyway.” Norman opened his eyes and looked around. “Are you going to freeze me or do I have to stay awake for this whole trip?” He was a still little cranky about leaving his home and moving halfway across the known universe. It didn’t help that people usually woke up grumpy from stasis. They called it stasis sickness.

Ned took the decompression much better. He sat up and looked around. “Are we here already?”

“We’ve just entered the Ventayen system,” said Captain Cornopolous.

It was part of Captain Cornopolous’s duties to greet all passengers upon their awakening from stasis. On this trip, given the unexpected dearth of bots, he also had to clean up their vomit, if they vomited. They usually vomited.

Captain Cornopolous led Ned and Norman to their shuttle. Teleporting to a planet is possible and not uncommon. Though, most Earth ships don’t have sufficiently reliable teleportation devices to send people with their luggage. It’s been done, but there have been occasions where luggage has been lost. That’s not as bad as when people get lost, but they don’t like to talk about that.

Ned, being a naturally cautious person, except in the decision to move across the universe to marry a woman he met online, chose the safer option of the shuttle. In such cases, the protocol is as follows. The people to be delivered to the planet board the shuttle. The ship’s bots preload their luggage. The shuttle leaves the ship upon entering the solar system. It flies ahead to the destination planet, drops off the occupants, and rendezvous with the ship around the planet’s orbit. This particular case went a little bit differently.

Norman and Ned were the only passengers disembarking on Epatrus. Upon landing, Norman and Ned exited the shuttle. Everything was normal so far. They went around the shuttle to the cargo hold. This is where things got weird.

“Where’s our luggage?” Norman asked.

Ned immediately hailed the ship and demanded, or the accountant equivalent, to speak to Captain Cornopolous. “May I please speak to Captain Cornopolous, please?”

“This is your captain speaking,” Captain Cornopolous said, imitating of every airplane captain ever.

“Captain, we seem to have left our luggage aboard the ship,” Ned said. “I was under the impression that the ship’s bots were going to load it.”

Captain Cornopolous said two words. “Sorry, pirates.” He then cut communications.

“What does that mean?” asked Norman.

“I think we’ve been robbed,” said Ned. “Though, I’m not sure if the ship was boarded by pirates or if the company we hired to bring us here is comprised of pirates or if he thinks we’re pirates, and our luggage is stuff we’ve stolen.”

“All our stuff was on that ship,” said Norman. “I don’t even have clean clothes to wear.”

“This could prove to be a catastrophe of the worst magnitude,” said Ned.

As they stared at the empty cargo hold, a small disc came out of a slit in the control panel. Ned picked it up and inspected it. Printed on it were the words, “We’re sorry for your inconvenience. Please accept this flight voucher. Good for one free one way trip for one passenger on any Intergalactic Space Voyages passenger voyage. Thank you for choosing Intergalactic Space Voyages for your intergalactic space voyage.”

“A one way trip for one?” Ned pondered aloud. “There are two of us.”

“Dad, I think the important thing here is that they lost all our stuff,” said Norman.

Ned’s name echoed through the spaceport in a familiar timber. Ned’s heart started racing as he looked around. His eyes settled on a yellow, blue, and purple woman with a thick black mustache wagging her tail in his direction.

The lost luggage left Ned’s mind faster than it left the Flying Vessel Christopher Columbus. He ran over to Uhoria as briskly as he could, which wasn’t very swift. Ned was not a physical specimen. Nor was he accustomed to the slightly lower gravitational pull that was present on Epatrus. Third, and possibly worst of all, Ned hadn’t used his body for months. The stasis chamber has a muscle stimulator that keeps the body from atrophying, but he still hadn’t been in control of his body since he left Earth.

The scene was like something out of a YouTube video. It resembled a baby giraffe running on the moon toward a giant lizard monkey creature. YouTube has a plethora of baby giraffes on the moon and giant lizard monkey creature videos, right? When they met, Ned went in for a hug while Uhoria brought her tail around for tail wrap. The result was Uhoria slapping Ned in the face and knocking him to the ground.

Norman followed slowly behind. He approached his fallen father with the tenuous steps of someone who would rather be anywhere else in the universe. Norman was embarrassed by the spectacle his father was making, but, to be honest, even if they didn’t make a scene all eyes would still be on them. They were the only humans in the entire spaceport. They were only the sixth and seventh humans to ever pass through any spaceport on Epatrus.

When Norman could no longer avoid reaching the epicenter of the spaceport’s focus, Uhoria wrapped her tail around Norman and ruffled his hair with its tip. It was an awkward attempt to emulate the Earth custom of hugging. It went far better than the greeting she shared with Ned, but it was still an uncomfortable moment for the pair. She immediately wished she spent the time they were en route learning more about Earth and its customs instead of sleeping in a stasis chamber. At least, she didn’t call him Kiddo. That was the worst.

Uhoria brought her new family back to her home. She planned to take them on a tour of the new town in which they would be living, but they were still weary from stasis and the shuttle trip. Uhoria’s home, which was now Ned and Norman’s new home, was a lovely, two-story abode. It had four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The kitchen was huge. The dining room had a retractable sunroof. There was a room for entertaining and a separate room for all Uhoria’s awards and framed photos. That mustache modeling money was good to Uhoria. Even Norman was impressed. It still wasn’t Pacifica or even Earth, but the house was a fart of a lot nicer.

The first thing Norman wanted to do, following the grand house tour, was to go to the bathroom. He hadn’t made a doodie in a few months. It was time.

He went back to the first floor to the bathroom that was his. With three bathrooms for three people, they could each have their own. Anybody who has ever had to use the bathroom closely following someone who’s recently made a particularly stinky deposit, or has had to share a bathroom with a teenager, can appreciate the desire for a personal bathroom.

Norman entered the bathroom and looked around. There was no toilet. There was no shower. There was no bathtub. There were a mirror and a sink. During the grand tour, Uhoria called it a bathroom, “despite the fact that only the most retro homes still have bathtubs.” It had to be the right room. What was he to do? He could not go back out and ask Uhoria for help in the bathroom. He was 8-years-old. He hadn’t needed help in the bathroom since he was 3. Besides, once he figured out how to close the door, he wasn’t opening it again until he finished his business. First, he had to figure out how to start.

Norman assessed his options. There was a sink. Pooping in the sink was probably a no-no, even on Epatrus. There was another thing that looked like an escape pod. That might not be a bad idea. Norman wondered how far he could get in it. Could it possibly take him back to Earth? Probably not. It was most likely in case of emergency and would only carry him down the block or, at best, a few kilometers.

There was a long enclosure that looked like a hallway or a decompression chamber. Norman wasn’t sure what its purpose could be, but it was intimidating. He imagined the possibility that it could be a portal to somewhere. Anywhere it would take him had to be better than where he was. He decided to try it.

Before entering, Norman paused briefly. The thought occurred to him that it could lead to another bathroom. That could be embarrassing. On the other hand, if it led to another bathroom and someone was in that bathroom, he might be able to learn how to poop on Epatrus. Norman would love to poop on Epatrus.

Norman cautiously entered the chamber. It only took him 12 minutes and 32 seconds to figure out how to open the door. For the door to open, it required commands for the usage of the chamber to be programmed in. Norman pressed buttons at random.

The door opened. Norman entered. The door closed behind him. Norman turned and tried to open the door again to no avail. Mechanical arms extended from the walls and seized Norman and stripped off his clothes. Don’t look. He’s naked. Yes, he does have oddly small kneecaps. Norman wiggled and squirmed, which are basically the same thing, but couldn’t break free of the metallic grasp of the clamps at the ends of the arms. The clamps released Norman, and the arms retracted.

Slots opened on the walls, and little spigots protruded. Each valve emitted a mist of warm water. When Norman was wet, soapy brushes came out of the ceiling and scrubbed him. Another pair of arms came out of the ceiling, grabbed Norman by his ankles, and flipped him upside down. While Norman was suspended from the ceiling, the brushes took another pass at the under places they missed the first time.

Norman was set back on the floor. He stood there wet and soapy waiting for the next phase. The next phase began. The spigots sprayed Norman. This time it wasn’t that nice warm mist that got him ready for the soap phase. This was a powerful rinse-off spray. It was still a pleasant temperature.

The Shliplestein Automatic Body Scrubber And Clothes Washer 4,901 ⅜ gave Norman the most rigorous washing he had ever had. Then it dried him, clothed him, and spat him out the other side. It even washed and dried his clothes.

Norman felt cleaner. He hadn’t bathed in months, either. It felt good to be clean.

He still really had to doodie, though.

Norman checked to see if there was a way he could flush the sink. He didn’t see one. Maybe there was an invisible flushing mechanism like how the door opened. He wasn’t nearly a bad enough person to doodie in the sink, walk out, and say, “I left you a nice deuce in the sink. You’re welcome.” The thought of doing so made him chuckle, though. Of course, he’d never want to use that sink again.

Norman’s reverie was interrupted by a tap on the door. “Are you all right in there, Normy?” Uhoria asked, with a little too much sweetness in her voice.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” said Norman. “Doing well.”

The last option was the escape pod. After his experience in The Shliplestein Automatic Body Scrubber And Clothes Washer 4,901 ⅜, Norman was not eager to enter another enclosure in this room, but his bowels were.

This door opened easily. Norman was wary about entering. The ease of access made him nervous. There was a seat. It could still be an escape pod. Norman sat. The door closed and locked. Restraints enclosed around Norman. The whole pod flipped upside down. Norman suddenly wished he had an escape pod to escape from the escape pod.

Three minutes later, Norman emerged from the Shliplestein Fecalmatic 3,817 Automatic Fecal Extractor. He was clean, refreshed, and 12 pounds lighter. It had been months, remember?

Norman had successfully taken his first shower and first doodie on Epatrus. It was also Norman’s first bathcast.

Every mirror and video screen on Epatrus could be used for video chats or video streaming. Uhoria recently used that bathroom mirror for a live streaming commercial for mustache cream. She broadcast to the known universe and forgot to cut the transmission. It didn’t matter before because she hardly ever used that bathroom. Norman didn’t know about the mirror’s transmitting capabilities or how to use the controls. Norman had a lot to learn about using the controls for things on Epatrus.

Norman emerged triumphantly, 17 minutes later. He still had trouble getting the door to open.

“Did everything go O.K.?” asked Ned. “We were getting worried about you.”

“Yeah, everything was fine,” said Norman. “I feel much better.”

“I was going to give you a tutorial on what was in there and how it all worked,” said Uhoria. “You ran in there so quickly that I didn’t get a chance.”

Maybe, if you’re ever famous, someone will write a detailed biography for you and include lots of details about your bathroom foibles. That’s why you should keep a bathroom journal.

“You keep a journal of all your bathroom experiences? What’s wrong with you?” asked someone who saw your bathroom journal.

“It’s in case I’m ever famous,” you said. “My public will want to know everything about me.”

Norman had many other growing pains to go through in adapting to his new home. None were as embarrassing or ridiculous as his bathroom experience. There was the time he walked in on Uhoria while she was changing. It was confusing. We won’t get into that, though.

Norman wasn’t nearly used to his home life before he had to start school. He enrolled at Gargamel Von Shliplestein Elementary School. He was placed in the fourth grade with the other 8-year-olds. He was immediately the worst student in school. Norman wasn’t a bad student. He just didn’t know anything. It’s more accurate to say the things he knew, and the things he was studying on Earth, didn’t translate to school on Epatrus.

Math is math. That’s a universal constant. Science is science, but it’s much more advanced on Epatrus. History and social studies were completely different. Norman knew nothing about the history of Epatrus. He knew even less about the social conditions. Where were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln? Earth wasn’t even mentioned. Norman didn’t have an alien species class on Earth. Suddenly, humans were an alien species. Norman was an alien species.

Being lost in the curriculum is one thing. Being lost socially is something else. On Earth, he always had Paul and Julio at the core of his circle of friends. On Epatrus, he didn’t even have anybody to ask what a Squeechian was or in what year mashed potatoes erupted from Mount Spudnik. Norman wasn’t even sure what year it was on Epatrus or how they numbered their years.

Norman Normalson: A Biography: Part 2: Pirates In Space

Catch up on Norman’s Bio here.

Norman started his healing process by spending more time with his friends. Norman spent a lot of time with Julio in his family’s Shliplestein 4242Pac Holodeck. Arnold and Reginald let them have all the time in it they needed. Norman even got frequent hugs from Rosie, which was goofy yelpsnig. That means good. None of it was worth losing his mother, but it helped him heal.

One evening, Norman returned home later than usual. It was Burgerfest, so he didn’t have school the next day. With a new calendar comes new holidays and seasons. Burgerfest was named after Tom Burger who discovered a way to grow vegetables on the moon. Now, every year during the month of Rama everyone sticks to a strict vegetarian diet. Fortunately, the months are really short. Rama starts with the Harvest Moon, which is toward the end of what used to be September and lasts for 16 days.

Don’t overlook these little details. You never know what’s going to be on the test.

Norman was surprised to hear voices coming from his father’s room. At first, he just assumed his dad was watching television. As he got closer to his father’s door, Norman was positive one of the voices was Ned’s. He put his ear to the door and heard what he was sure was a woman’s voice saying, “Oh Ned, you’re so sweet.” He had to be watching an old video of Victoria. He couldn’t have a woman in there with him. That was his dad. His mom was dead. It couldn’t be her in there with him. That even wasn’t her voice. As far as Norman knew, Ned hadn’t even been dating. There’s no way he would have a woman in his room at 21:18.

Humans finally got rid of that ridiculous 12-hour clock that makes no digital sense. How do you have a 12-hour clock for a 24-hour cycle? The day doesn’t start over in the middle. Why does the clock? If you need a translation to your archaic mode of telling time, subtract 12. If you can’t subtract 12 from 21, get a calculator. If you can’t get a calculator, you have serious issues because every phone, computer, and tablet has one. If you don’t have a phone, computer, or tablet, you’re probably not reading this. The answer is 9. It’s 9:18 pm.

Norman rang the doorbell. Yes, every room has a doorbell in the year 112 N.C. Knocking was outlawed when people started becoming offended by what they perceived to be a violent gesture. The issue was compounded when doors started to sue people who were knocking on them for assault and battery. They had to be removed from the edifice and sequestered during the trials. It was easier to install bells for every door. Who wouldn’t prefer to press a button than hit a door with their knuckles? Especially the metal, sliding doors they use in 112 N.C.

The voices stopped. The door slid open. Norman entered. Ned was watching TV. On the screen on his wall was the face of a multicolored alien with a thick, black mustache.

“Hi, Dad,” said Norman. “I just wanted to let you know I’m home. I had veggie burgers at Julio’s. I’m going to bed.”

“Normy, will you come in here for a minute? There’s someone I’d like for you to meet,” said Ned.

Norman stepped into the room and looked around. He didn’t see anybody. His dad had officially gone crazy. Norman was going to have to have him committed. He was going to have to go live with Julio’s family. That wouldn’t be too bad. Actually, he’d probably have to go live with Aunt Nickie. She lived all the way over in Antioch. He could still ‘port over to see his friends. That might be all right. He would have to live with his annoying cousin, Nestlé.

Nestlé was named for a Swiss food company, best known for its chocolate products. In the 20th century C.E., Humans started this bizarre convention of naming their children after things, fruits, vegetables, numbers, directions, and so on.

“Normy? Norman? Are you still with me, buddy?” asked Ned.

“Uh… Yeah,” said Norman, with a slight shake of his head.

“Norman, this is Uhoria,” said Ned, gesturing to the screen.

“Hi, Norman,” said Uhoria, from Epatrus. She continued with the extremely clichéd, “It’s so nice to meet you finally. Your dad has told me all about you.”

“Uh…,” Norman said. “Hi, I’m Norman.”

“I know,” said Uhoria. “I’m Uhoria.”

“Um… It’s nice to meet you,” said Norman.

“I can’t wait to meet you in person,” said Uhoria.

“In what now?” asked Norman, incredulously.

“I haven’t told him, yet,” said Ned.

“Nedrick Neil Normalson, how could you have not told him yet?” asked Uhoria. “What are you waiting for?”

“A good time,” said Ned.

“When would be a good time? When you’re on the ship?” asked Uhoria.

“What ship?” asked Norman. “What’s going on?”

“Great news, Normy,” said Ned. “I met somebody.”

“You haven’t even told him about me?” asked Uhoria.

“I thought this was the best way,” said Ned. “I didn’t want him to be nervous about meeting you.”

Ned and Uhoria already have way more dialogue in this brief biography of Norman than they do in all of Norman Normalson & The Normals.

“That’s great, Dad,” said Norman. He patted his dad on the elbow and moved toward the door.

“That’s not all,” said Ned, with a timbre of excitement. “We’re in love.”

“Um… That’s weird,” said Norman. “She’s an alien with a mustache.”

“She can also hear you,” said Ned.

“It’s all right, Norman,” said Uhoria. “Ned and I have already worked out all the weirdness of interspecies dating. Well, most of… a lot of the weirdness of interspecies dating. We’ve talked about it.”

“O.K.?” said Norman. “That sounds like it’s probably gross, and I don’t want to know any details.”

“There’s nothing gross about accepting what one may view as physical anomalies and loving someone for who they are inside,” said Uhoria.

“That’s beautiful, dear,” said Ned. “It’s also true, Norman.”

“Oh,” said Norman. “O.K., I’m going to bed.”

“There’s one more thing,” said Ned. “We’re moving to Epatrus, so Uhoria and I can get married and live together.”

His dad had officially gone crazy. Norman was going to have to have him committed. He was going to have to go live with Julio’s family. That wouldn’t be too bad. Actually, he’d probably have to go live with Aunt Nickie. She lived all the way over in Antioch. He could still ‘port over to see his friends. That might be all right. He would have to live with his annoying cousin, Nestlé. She was four and always ran around singing this song from the ancient times. It went, “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestlé’s makes the very best… Choc’-late.” Then she would say, “That song’s about me. I make the best chocolate.”

“The only chocolate you make is poop,” Norman said once. Then he mockingly sang, “D-O-O-D-I-E-S Nestlé makes the very best… Doo-dies.” That got him in a little bit of trouble, but it was well worth it.

Norman could hear his dad’s voice, but it sounded distant. It seemed as if his dad were in the other room talking to him through a paper towel roll, even though humanity hadn’t used paper towels in generations. Ned’s voice slowly grew clearer.

“Norman? Noooooormaaaaaan,” said Ned. “Are you still with us?”

Ned was kneeling over Norman, who was lying supine on the floor.

“Dad?” Norman asked. “What happened? I had the craziest dream.”

Before Norman could recover from his shock or anger, he was boarding the Flying Vessel Christopher Columbus, oddly named for an explorer most famous for getting lost.

Norman had a small amount of time to say goodbye to the only home he’d ever known. He had had friends he wasn’t sure if he’d ever see again. Julio had been his best friend longer than he could remember. Rosie was the love of his life. Fortunately, he was 7, and he would have, hopefully, much more life ahead of him in which to find love. Norman didn’t even know if there was soccer on Epatrus. For all he knew, the most popular sport on Epatrus was called eurgensplurgenflargus, which revolved around tying one’s hands and feet together and crawling around blindfolded picking zhartstinkquaf berries. He didn’t even know what zhartstinkquaf berries were or if there were any on Epatrus or anywhere else in the universe. He didn’t have much time left on Earth, and he fudge dang sure wasn’t going to spend it researching a planet to which he didn’t even want to go.

Norman wanted nothing to do with this trip and went straight to a stasis chamber on the spaceship where he was virtually frozen for the long trek to Epatrus. Even with ships that could travel at nearly the speed of light, the multi-parsec voyage to Epatrus took awhile. Most passengers and even crew members traversed the majority of such trips in stasis, which allowed them to view the months-long journey as if it were nearly instantaneous. One could only enjoy the splendor and awe of being in space for so long. Computers and Radbots did the majority of flying and maintenance while the biological beings slept.

Time passes much more slowly on Epatrus than on Earth. Uhoria chose to spend the time in stasis. That allowed her to skip being nervous as the man she loved was traversing the universe to be with her. It also assured she wouldn’t age during the intervening months. Ned was happy about her decision, as well. It gave him a feeling of solidarity with the woman in his life. It also meant that she couldn’t meet anybody else while they were in transit.

Were the months the journey took measured by Earth time or Epatrus time? Now, you’re getting way too technical on me. Yamfennian time. How about that?

Norman didn’t even realize he was asleep before he was revived. They had arrived. He lay down, closed his eyes and said, “I don’t even want to go…” He was unconscious and frozen for the rest of the trip.

The voyage was pretty uneventful, at least for those who were in stasis. The ship was boarded by space pirates from space. They probably weren’t actually from space. I’m pretty sure they would have to have originated on a planet somewhere… somewhere in space.

The pirate ship, SSSS or the 4S, short for the Space Ship Stuff Stealer, spotted the F.V.C.C., Flying Vessel Christopher Columbus, on their radar. Captain Mauve Oyster immediately recognized it as a passenger ship. Passenger ships were the third best picking when it came to loot. The best was, obviously, cargo ships. The second was cruise ships. Cruise ships usually had rich people who insisted on bringing their riches into space. I guess they wanted to show off if they met an alien. “This is my golden eye patch. It’s made of 100% pure uncut gold. I don’t even need an eye patch. I just wear it because it’s gold.” Ms. Notimpressed, of the planet Golddirt, was not impressed. Apparently, Mr. Braggington didn’t know that gold is dirt and utterly worthless on planet Golddirt.

The worst ships for loot were warships. That was mostly due to the inability of the pirates to take over such ships.

Captain Mauve Oyster ordered his crew of scoundrels, thieves, and that one nice guy who got caught up with the wrong crowd to pursue that ship. The ship was pursued. The SSSS easily caught up with the F.V.C.C. Passenger ships are not nearly as swift as pirate ships. If they were, pirates would go out of business. Pirates can’t go out of business. It’s almost impossible to get another job after pirate. Who looks at a résumé and sees pirate and says, “You’re hired.”? Nobody.

The 4S hovered above the Chris for a few Zechistenian seconds before clamping onto them. Once the ships were hooked, it was impossible for a passenger ship to break away. Cargo ships had defenses for moves like that. They could cut the clamps with lasers. Passenger ships had no such defensive or offensive capabilities. Someone somewhere decided it was best if passenger ships didn’t engage in battles. It’s probably better that way.

Encountering other ships in space was an anomaly. Encountering pirates in space was even scarcer. Pirates usually depended on getting flight plans from a spy who worked for whichever company they wanted to rob. The SSSS had a secret method for finding targets. More on that later.

Once clamped, the pirates could ‘port over to the other ship without any worries of losing their ship or the targeted ship escaping. Before the pirates even clamped on, the computer was aware of the threat.

The Chris attempted evasive maneuvers. As I mentioned previously, passenger ships aren’t equipped with many defensive capabilities. The ship was easily overtaken.

Once aboard, the pirates were inhospitably greeted by a force of Radbots. The security force was armed with stun blasters and nets. The pirates were armed with blasters that were specifically designed to disable bots. They expected to meet bots of some sort. Bots were standard security on the majority of passenger ships.

Following their effortless victory over the Radbots, Flower Blossom McLotus, the one nice guy who fell in with the wrong crowd, was free to hack into the computer.

Flower Blossom McLotus never wanted to be a pirate. He wanted to be a ballerina ninja. They have those on Mantarius, his planet of origin. They’re sneaky and graceful and potentially deadly. He only planned to use his powers for good, to stop the evil forces of evil. Sadly, however, for the Mantarian his only source of gracefulness was in his fingers.

After flunking out of The Lexi P. Lodeham School Of Dance, Martial Arts, Chicanery, and Silent But Deadly Farts, Flower Blossom McLotus, or FloBloLo for short, resigned himself to working with his hands. He became a repairman. He got a job at Tony’s. Tony was one of the best repairmen on all of Mantarius, which was fortunate because he was horrible at naming businesses.

Seriously? Tony’s? Tony’s what? That name doesn’t tell anybody what he did. Did Tony make pizzas? Did he sell antiques? Did he wrestle crabs? Did he train dancing earwigs? Was he a cobbler? No. Not that kind of cobbler. I know he wasn’t a pie. I meant the type who makes and repairs shoes.

FloBloLo’s nimble fingers made swift work of any project Tony assigned to him. He could fix anything. Toasters, microwaves, blu-ray players, watches, cars, cameras, dogs, anything. Well, he could if Mantarius had any of those things. The point is, he was good with his hands.

Repairing was so simple for FloBloLo that he got bored with it. He started taking things apart to learn more about them. He began with uncomplicated things and quickly moved on to computers and robots. It didn’t take long for FloBloLo to start building computers and robots. It was only a natural progression that led him to learn to program.

FloBloLo respectfully resigned from Tony’s and got a job with the Shliplestein Corporation. The Shliplestein Corporation coincidentally was founded and had its headquarters on Epatrus.

For years, FloBloLo designed and programmed computers and robots. He was the happiest he had ever been or would ever be.

The Shliplestein Corporation, headed by Gargamel Von Shliplestein, paid him handsomely. The money on Mantarius is very attractive. He had four girlfriends. She was actually one girlfriend with multiple personalities. They were all nice, though, so FloBloLo was happy to date them all. He had an expensive apartment on the rich side of town. Then, it was all blown away like a fart by a fart.

FloBloLo was demonstrating of one his new inventions for a high-ranking Shliplestein executive when he farted. You’re probably thinking, “So? What’s the big deal? Everybody farts.” One of the many things FloBloLo partially learned at The Lexi P. Lodeham School Of Dance, Martial Arts, Chicanery, and Silent But Deadly Farts was, yeah, silent but deadly farts. He learned the art but not how to control it fully. The executive was dead in seconds.

FloBloLo was arrested. After a short trial, he went to prison. His defense of poor flatulent training was flimsy at best. He was sentenced to four years in a maximum security prison for the crime of involuntary Mantarian slaughter by way of flatulence. He lost his job. He lost his apartment.

FloBloLo spent most of his sentence in solitary confinement. No one thought it was a good idea to allow anyone around the Mantarian who could kill with his farts. He was locked in an aroma-free cell. I can think of a few people I’d like locked in one of those, at least sometimes.

Only one of his girlfriends agreed to wait for him while he was incarcerated. One of his girlfriends started dating one of the correctional officers, which was awkward. It caused some problems for FloBloLo when the guard got jealous that one of his girlfriend’s personalities was frequently visiting FloBloLo.

The officer took advantage of every opportunity to make FloBloLo’s life difficult. He would withhold rations, fart in his food, stick his tongue out at him when no one was looking, say mean things about his mother, and restrain him to the wall and tickle his feet. FloBloLo was miserable.

Upon release, FloBloLo vowed never to fart again. He made it five hours before his stomach hurt so much he had to release his pent-up flatulence. The time he abstained from expelling his gas compounded its potency. This fart killed seven people and a potted plant.

His last remaining girlfriend refused to wait for him this time.

During his subsequent stay in prison, FloBloLo learned to control the potency of his flatulence. From then on, he only used his farts to render people unconscious. A few more plants died before he perfected it.

Following his release from prison, every time he applied for a job, Flower Blossom McLotus had to confess that he had been convicted of a felony. The potential employers always wanted details. Farting felonies were the worst. He was unemployed and homeless when Captain Mauve Oyster found him.

Legends of the Mantarian who could kill with his farts spread far and wide, as well as near and narrow. Captain Mauve Oyster immediately offered FloBloLo a position in his pirate posse where he would be paid in plundered prizes. FloBloLo hated the idea of stealing from people, but his employment options were sparse.

FloBloLo accepted the pirate’s offer. He soon found himself flying around in space for megamonths at a time. Megamonths are boring months in space that seem to last forever. During his downtime, FloBloLo did what he loves. He tinkered and learned.

FloBloLo only had enough parts to make a single, short robot. He named it RDRR. FloBloLo and RDRR were best friends, mostly because that’s how FloBloLo programmed RDRR. Still, something was missing in FloBloLo’s life. He needed to create.

FloBloLo and RDRR spent most of their time in transit at the computer. They improved all the ship’s systems and upgraded all its software. When they were out of things to do, they started making programs.

FloBloLo was FloBloLonely. See what I did there? I made a dumb pun out of his name. The other pirates were already friends and relatives. They weren’t happy about Captain Mauve Oyster inviting in another guy. They were also afraid of him since he could kill people with his farts and farts can sneak up on anyone at any time. They immediately outlawed beans aboard the SSSS.

When he and RDRR weren’t working, FloBloLo spent a lot of time on social media. He made a lot of virtual friends but didn’t like the sites. The interactions were too limited. He wanted to express more of a range of emotion than like, and, for some reason, all the sites smelled like cheese.

RDRR suggested they make a social media site. FloBloLo had the skills. RDRR had the stamina to stay up all night programming. Together, they were a stoppable force, but no one stopped them. The result was FloBloLoSo. Yes, he named it after himself, Flower Blossom McLotus Social. RDRR only received credit in the fine print. FloBloLo didn’t program sensitivity or narcissism into RDRR, so it didn’t care.

FloBloLoSo slowly became the most popular social networking site in the universe. Even the pirates of the SSSS joined and shared, except Captain Mauve Oyster. He just watched the madness.

Captain Mauve Oyster monitored his pirates as they obsessed over the social network site. He started asking Flower Blossom a lot of in-depth questions about it. He saw a plethora of people on a plethora of planets socially oversharing. They posted their every move to FloBloLoSo. Every person on the site was easily traceable.

As the owner, creator, and supreme overlord of FloBloLoSo, FloBloLo was automatically connected to every user. He had all their information. Captain Mauve Oyster convinced FloBloLo to share all their sharing with him. The pirates used their new knowledge of when people all over the universe would be away from their homes to rob a ridiculous amount of people. They also knew the schedules of every company’s cruise ships and which were carrying the most booty. Then all his pirate pals loved him, as they shouted out with glee, “Ahoy, matey.”

FloBloLo hated it. It made him feel terrible. He didn’t even want to be a pirate. He didn’t want to steal from people. Maybe, if he stuck with it a little longer, he’d have enough money to retire soon if the pirates would let him.

What does that have to do with Norman? Nothing. I got carried away with the tragic legend of Flower Blossom McLotus. The point of all that was that FloBloLo was recruited by the pirates as a computer hacker. He hacked into the Chris’s computer and disabled the security system.

You’re just jealous because your biography isn’t nearly that cool. Can you kill someone with your farts? I didn’t think so. I know of very few who can.

Norman Normalson: A Biography: Part 1: Pacifica

Norman Normalson is a normal nine-year-old boy. He hates to brush his teeth. He hates to take a bath. He hates school, especially math. He can’t stand his younger half-brother. He’s not a big fan of his step-mother, either. He has a crush on a girl he’s sure doesn’t know he’s alive. He likes sports, especially soccer. He thinks his parents are the weirdest people in the universe.

Even with all this normalcy, Norman never feels like he belongs. He is not accepted among his peers. He’s ridiculed and bullied for being different. He is different. He doesn’t fit in. He doesn’t belong. Norman Normalson is an alien.

Norman Normalson was born to Nedrick “Ned” and Victoria “Victoria” Normalson on a quaint planet in the little galaxy called the Milky Way. The planet’s a pale blue dot called Earth. Earth is divided up into continents, countries, states, counties, boroughs, territories, cities, and towns.

Norman was from the North American city of Pacifica. Pacifica is on the coast of a state called California. Norman grew up, to the age of 8, going practically across the street to Linda Mar Beach. If you think fútbol, or soccer, is fun on grass, try it on the sand. It’s almost an entirely different game.

Norman Normalson and his friends would frequently walk the couple blocks to the beach, cutting through Linda Mar Shopping Center. When he wanted to play on real grass, he would ‘port, or teleport, across town to the schoolyard with Paul and Julio. They could almost always find enough kids to have a game.

Of course, there were plenty of indoor activities. Julio’s family had the top of the line Shliplestein 4242Pac Holodeck. Norman’s family only had the Shliplestein 3117Yot model. The grass in Norman’s felt like Astroturf and smelled more like pine than grass. Fortunately, Julio lived down the block. Norman scarcely even ‘ported there.

The only problem they consistently encountered was Julio’s older brothers, Arnold and Reginald. They were always using the holodeck with their friends and wouldn’t let poor Norman and Julio join in. Arnold was 12 and Reginald was 10.

Sometimes they even had to contend with Julio’s sister, Rosie. Norman didn’t mind deferring to her as much. She was at least nice about it and kind of cute. She would even occasionally agree to allow Julio and his friends to join her and her friends. That way, they could form an alliance that would keep Arnold and Reginald out.

Most days they were content to use their Shliplestein T.A.A.I.T.M. Dreamatorium Glasses. They were similar to virtual reality glasses but vastly superior. They didn’t provide the full-emersion experience of the holodeck. The glasses kept the wearer confined to the dimensions of their real-world surroundings.

In the holodeck, the floors and walls were on a track and could move to simulate traveling great distances or climbing mountains. Wind would blow in the face and around the body of a user who wanted to simulate skydiving.

The Dreamatorium Glasses only allowed one to see what one wanted to see. Traversing the world created for them by the glasses could be dangerous. For example, in the room in which I’m currently writing, I could walk into a bed, a desk, a dresser, a laundry basket full of clothes I have yet to put away, and three dogs, one of whom just farted.

One could buy the Shliplestein Dreamatorium Auto-Track as an add-on. The S.D.A.T. would allow the user to move in any direction one could normally walk and even simulate stairs. It was similar to a treadmill but not restrained to a single path. Julio, of course, had one, but his parents refused to buy additional S.D.A.T.s for his visiting friends.

Rosie was Norman’s first crush on an older woman. She was 8 while Norman and Julio were both 6. Yes, Julio’s parents were very regular in their childbearing. Each of their children was born on June 16th every other year for six years. There was one birthday party. Get it done. Done. As the years went by, Arnold was increasingly disgruntled by the growing number of little kids at his birthday party. To be fair, it was his first.

Norman’s life in Pacifica was a pretty good one. He had friends who lived nearby and a plethora of indoor and outdoor activities. His soccer team was in first place. His virtual soccer team was in third but improving. His crush, Rosie, paid attention to him and was even nice to him. Sometimes, they played together. Life in Pacifica, California was good. Then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

One evening, Norman’s mother was hovering home from work. She worked as a male model. No, it’s not what you think. She was a role model for men who needed help finding their feminine side. It helped men be more tender with women. Then, all they had to do was find women who wanted more feminine men.

She was driving her hovercar down the twisty Cabrillo Highway. Yes, they still have to use roads. They’re hovercars, not flying cars. She was zooming around a turn, which featured a residence that had a huge holographic display encouraging drivers to root for local sports teams. The holographic displays were a longtime family tradition, which started as signs draped over a fence. This was early November, so the presentation was encouraging support for the Giants of the neighboring city, San Francisco. The team was in the third round of the pre-playoffs. If they won that night, they would be eligible to enter the Wild Card Tournament. When baseball went global, it really extended the schedule.

Victoria Normalson was in a hurry to get home and watch the game with her family. Ned and Norman would already be seated behind home plate in the holodeck breathing in the pine scent of the Astroturf. She glanced over at the holographic display for not more than a second. A jolt of nervous energy ran through her body. Tonight’s game was going to be the biggest game of the year. When she turned back to the road, she had to swerve to avoid hitting a giraffe.

Someone’s pet giraffe had escaped from her yard and wandered onto the highway. In the year 112 N.C., everyone has a pet giraffe or monkey or wildebeest or koala or alligator or cat. 1974 saw a worldwide famine that was so bad people ate their dogs. By 1981, there were no more dogs on Earth. The snoring coming from behind me from one of the three dogs on my bed leads me to believe that might not be true. Maybe people just like exotic pets and owning one became fashionable.

The year 112? Following the global unification inspired by the near usurpation of the planet by alien races, a new world calendar became necessary. After years of bickering about which calendar to use, world leaders decided to start over. That was about 127 years ago. Yes, it took them 15 years to implement the new calendar. Humans are never in a hurry to change their ways. Some countries still use measurements based on a king’s feet. No, it wasn’t Elvis. Of what was Elvis the king? Poor fashion choices? I don’t know who it was or how it came to be, but I do know it makes those of us whose feet aren’t 12 inches feel awkward and somehow deformed. Thanks, King Foot Fetish. Maybe it was Dr. Scholl. I don’t know.

The N.C. stands for New Calendar, Nuwe Caledar, Novi Caledar, Nový Caledar, Nieuwe Caledar, Nouveau Caledar, Neuer Caledar, ΝΕΑ Caledar, Nouvo Caledar, Nuevo Caledar… You get it. It works in multiple languages. No, it’s not creative. It’s not even Latin. It couldn’t be a reference to a deity because not everyone believes in the same deity or any deity. It couldn’t be a reference to a specific event because not everyone gives the same significance to events. It had to be something extremely bland, or it would offend people. I’m actually offended by how bland it is. It was the only thing on which the members of the committee could agree. Given the difficulty they had implementing the new calendar, are you surprised?

All that matters now is that Norman’s mother, Victoria, swerved to miss a giraffe who had wandered onto the highway. She lost control of her hover car as she whipped the steering wheel to the right. The vehicle nearly slammed into the protective wall alongside the road. She spun back into the street. An oncoming car pushed Victoria’s car and turned her back toward the retaining wall.

All hovercars come equipped with deflectors. The same technology that allows them to float also keeps them from crashing into things. It’s a standard safety feature. As soon as Victoria lost control of her car, she was secured by the seat to keep her from thrashing around inside. After bouncing around the road, like a ball on a pool table, but without actually hitting anything, Victoria’s car came to a stop on the side of the road.

Victoria was understandably shaken up a bit. She called Ned to come to get her. Out of concern for his mother, Norman wanted to go too. They found her and were relieved she was all right. She was too shaky to drive, so Ned hooked up her car to his and towed it home. They all rode in Ned’s car. Norman wanted to ride in the car being towed. What 6-year-old wouldn’t? I want to, and I’m not even technically a kid. He was denied.

By the time they got home, the game was already in the ninth inning. Norman and his family missed most of the game. Sure they listened to it on the radio, but that’s not the same. They could watch a recording, but that’s not as exciting as watching it live. Besides, they listened on the radio. They already knew what happened.

To make things worse, the Giants lost to their hated rivals, the Smeshfield Dragons. You thought I was going to say the Dodgers. That rivalry cooled significantly when the Dodgers moved to New Delhi and renamed themselves the Diwalis. They hoped the reference to the Hindu festival of lights, which takes place in autumn, would help them achieve victory in the playoffs, which also take place in autumn. It didn’t work.

A year later, Victoria died from lung cancer. It doesn’t matter how many advancements humans make. They cannot figure out how not to be self-destructive. They also stubbornly refuse to view medical care as anything other than a business, so people still die of otherwise curable or preventable ailments. Good job, humanity.

Norman and his dad were obviously crushed. Cancer is a long, slow, painful process. Remember that if anybody offers you a cigarette. Just say, “No, thank you. I don’t want to die as long, slow, painful death. Nor do I want to be that guy and/or girl who always stinks even though I shower daily and has smoke and tobacco stains on my clothes and teeth and hair and skin.” Yes, it stains your skin. No, vaping is not better. It’s just douchier.

Norman and his dad tended to Victoria constantly as she was dying. It was severely difficult and painful for both of them. First, she lost her hair from the chemotherapy. As Victoria’s cancer metastasized, or spread, tumors started to grow on her spine, which impinged her nerves, and she lost the use of her legs. The heavy regimen of pain medication left her mind cloudy. Some days, she could hardly recognize her family.

Yeah, happy kids’ story. Cancer! Death! Boom! See? Don’t smoke. It ruins things for everybody.

No, humanity has not yet cured cancer. There’s much more money in treating diseases than curing them. There are far too many humans who would rather profit from the suffering of others than help people. If you know someone who helps others, give them a smile and a gold star for the day. Fine, you may give them a blue star but only if you’re entirely out of gold. You don’t get to give out blue stars and keep the gold ones for yourself. That’s selfish. Being selfish is selfish.

Emotions and pain make people do crazy and stupid things. Norman’s dad flirted with the idea of moving to Montana to be a dental floss tycoon. He wanted to get a pygmy pony to ride around his ranch. Fortunately for Norman, that’s not really a thing. It’s just a silly song by Frank Zappa.

With his wife gone and his aspirations of becoming a dental floss tycoon being potentially a severe mental condition, Ned was suffering from severe depression. This story got dark. Who turned the out the lights? Oh yeah, Cancer.

This story needs lightening. Ned needs lightening. Emotional pain is a hard thing with which to deal, and it’s often hard to move on from that. Fortunately for Ned and our story, Ned’s sister, Nickel, or Nickie for short, even though it’s the same amount of letters and syllables, took it upon herself to pull Ned out of his personal pit of despair.

Nickie knew she had to do something before Ned did something crazy, like move to Montana in an attempt to partake in a fictional profession or worse, move to Reno. She logged on to the I.I., or intergalactic interweb, and created a dating profile for Ned on Cosmic Love. The I.I. was relatively new to Earth, and Nickie didn’t realize that the dating site and app Cosmic Love was literally cosmic.

On Earth, a balding accountant widower with a 7-year-old son in his 40s who can’t grow a mustache isn’t considered a prime dating candidate. On Epatrus, being an accountant more than makes up for any deficiencies or baggage a man may have.

Before Ned even knew about the dating profile Nickie set-up for him, he was receiving messages from Epatrus. At first, he began responding out of decorum. Then, he decided he liked the attention. He wasn’t so sure about the green, yellow, or blue women with purple highlights. He was pretty sure he didn’t like the mustaches. That was a prejudice he learned on Earth. Human women don’t usually have mustaches, and when they do, men generally don’t consider it an attractive feature. Yeah, humans are weird. Ned had to admit there was something alluring about a woman with a prehensile tail. He didn’t know what it was, or, at least, he couldn’t express it in a story that’s supposed to be family friendly in spite of all the Cancer and death discussion. Two words: Old Yeller.

Misgivings aside, Ned was always excited to receive greetings from one particular woman. What started as simple messages in text form, soon expanded to live voice chatting and even video chatting. It’s a good thing there was no longer such a thing as phones or long-distance charges. Ned’s phone bill would have been astronomical, literally. That’s a pun. The I.I. made such communication almost instantaneous, like the ansible first imagined by Ursula K. Le Guin way back in Earth’s 1960s.

Uhoria Jhakurus was an Epatrusian from Epatrus. She was born and raised on Epatrus. She lived her whole life on Epatrus, except when she left. She was a mustache model. Yeah, her mustache was that sweet. You wish your mom had a mustache that nice. Unless you’re human, then people would make fun of you for having a mom with a massive, luxurious mustache.

Uhoria was attracted to Ned as soon as she saw the word ‘accountant’ on his profile. It’s that big of a deal on Epatrus. Accountants on Epatrus are like rock stars on Earth. Earth has some very famous rocks. Look at Mount Rushmore. That’s not what rock star means? What else could rock star possibly mean? Asteroid? Meteor? Comet? Technically, no, but they can be mistaken for stars, shooting stars.

Uhoria had never met a human before. She found Ned’s pale, pasty skin shocking and drab. His thinning hair was a conundrum. His eyeglasses made him look like he was wearing a disguise. It was like if he took them off and changed into tights and a cape, he would be completely unrecognizable. She didn’t know humans didn’t have tails. The most appalling and disgusting thing about him was that he didn’t have a mustache. On Epatrus, only infants and those with a genetic disorder didn’t have mustaches.

Even with all those defects, Ned was still an accountant. Count on! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13… That’s counting. He was also a father. He had a paternal instinct. Uhoria wanted to be a mother more than anything. Could humans and Epatrusians mate? Yes. Maybe. He was an accountant. It was worth a try. Don’t ask Carl Sagan. If he were alive, he would tell you no, which would ruin the whole story.

Ned and Uhoria’s conversations became more frequent, more prolonged, and more intimate. It wasn’t long before they both saw past the oddities particular to the other’s species and began to like each other for the people they were. What they started out viewing as physical shortcomings slowly became attractive.

Ned came to find Uhoria’s skin color of yellow and blue with an interspersing of purple to be quite lovely. He always saw her color scheme as beautiful. It just took him a while to accept it as skin color. Likewise, Uhoria came to find Ned’s pale skin to be exotic. Epatrusian males are black with orange markings or red with black markings. She could see that anywhere. More importantly, it was the inner beauty of each that made them beautiful to each other. It’s what made them fall in love from parsecs away.

A parsec is a measurement of distance. One parsec is equal to 3.26 light years. One light year is equivalent to 30 trillion kilometers or 19 trillion miles. I don’t know if love can conquer all, but it sure can travel.

So, what the fart does all this have to do with Norman? Everything.

When Ned first started communicating with women around the universe, Norman had no idea. Nickie thought it would be easier for Ned to start dating if Norman didn’t know. It’s often hard for kids when their parents date someone who is not their parent, regardless of the circumstances. It might have been impossible for Ned to move on from his pain and find someone new if Norman had reservations. Nickie still had no idea Ned was talking to extraterrestrial women.

Norman didn’t pay much attention to what his dad was doing. At first, Norman and Ned experienced a bonding and closeness that came with Victoria’s death. After Ned announced his plan to move to Montana to become a dental floss tycoon, Norman didn’t talk to his father for days. He didn’t know it wasn’t really a thing. Other than the dentist, Norman had no idea from where dental floss came. He had never heard of Frank Zappa or even Tina Turner, who sang background vocals on the song. Norman actually thought he was going to have to move to Montana to farm dental floss. His reality turned out to be much worse.

 

 

 

Introduction To Norman Normalson’s Bio

In furthering my introduction to the world of Norman Normalson & The Normals, which is called Epatrus, I decided to write a biography for Norman Normalson. I imagined it to be in the same vein as what I did with The L Squad. I planned to sit down and type out a 6-to-7-page bio. Norman’s life refused to be contained. It demanded to expand and breathe. At 9-years-old, Norman has been through more than most living beings experience in 10 years. Space travel makes a lot of things possible.

I briefly toyed with the idea of writing a full prequel book. That may still happen sometime in the magical time known as the future. It may not. The only predictable aspect of the future is that it is unpredictable. The future never comes. It’s always dancing out there teasing us with its possibilities. Every time we think we’re getting close, it dashes away. We set traps for it, but it eludes them. We say, “Hey, future, how about you do this?” The future says, “No.” What was I saying?

Norman’s bio quickly grew to more than 11,000 words. That’s almost a quarter of the whole book, Norman Normalson & The Normals. It’s more than 26 pages. That’s not a quarter of the book. There’s not as much dialogue in the bio.

I decided to ration out Norman’s bio. I’m going to release it in parts. It’s already written, so it won’t come out slowly with sections separated by months. I’ll post new parts a few days apart or as I remember.

Without any further adieu, I’ll post the first part in a couple of days or whenever I remember to do so. What? I’m working on other things. I’m writing a Norman Christmas story. I’m not sure why. It just started. That’s coming soon if I finish it before Christmas.

The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom: The Making Of A Villain

The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom was just a spoiled rich kid on his planet, XaXet (Zak-Zit). He’s like Earth’s extinct tyrannosauruses, but only 8 feet in height weighing in at about a tonne, or 2,204.6 pounds. He can best be described as an anthropomorphic tyrannosaurus or a cross between a human and tyrannosaurus. People from XaXet have human-like abilities such as communication, technology, reason, working society, thirst for destruction, and the like.

Gregory LambaDambaBottom was born of a short line of conquerors and destroyers. When he was very young, his father, Aloysius LambaDambaBottom, and older brother, Aloysius LambaDambaBottom, Jr., voyaged off on a mission to forcefully add another planet to the growing number under the flag of XaXet.

Space travel was still a relatively new advancement for the XaXets and they were greedily conquering every inhabited planet they could find. Neither Aloysius LambaDambaBottom ever returned. They were both assumed dead, though no evidence of their demise has ever been discovered. Gregory’s grief-stricken mother, Grushenka LambaDambaBottom, started to coddle her young “Greggy.” Most other children on XaXet were raised to be warriors. With the endless planetary war between tyrannosauruses and dragons finally ending, the new generation was being bred to be conquerors. They weren’t raised to be mama’s boys and they certainly did not get cutesy nicknames like “Greggy.” The other kids his age teased him about being one of the new domesticated dinosaurs.

Gregory started to rebel and lash out violently. A legendary warrior, who was also teased as a child, heard of Gregory’s troubles and took him under his wing, literally and figuratively. He spent the majority of his life fighting in the XaXet wars between the tyrannosauruses and dragons. He was on the opposite side but developed a great respect for Aloysius LambaDambaBottom. When Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon learned of the woes of his former rival’s son he stepped in to help. Yeah, his name is Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon. What are you going to do about it? O.K., it’s not his real name. You’ll have to read his bio for more details on that. He earned the moniker in battle. It’s a highly respected and revered name on XaXet and feared throughout the rest of the universe.

It’s a beautiful thing when dragons and tyrannosauruses put their differences aside and learn to work together, except when they come together to pillage and destroy. Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon started meeting with Gregory a few times per week. Grushenka LambaDambaBottom was elated that the famous warrior was showing an interest in her son. She hoped this new friendship would pull her Greggy out of his bad ways. It had been awhile since Aloysius disappeared. Grushenka was enjoying the attention she was receiving from Nakedfoot. She was even starting to have visions of little dragosaurus babies, which would be awesome. If she had known what they were doing in these meeting she wouldn’t have been so happy.

Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon started teaching Gregory right away. He taught him battle strategies. He taught him how to fight and be a warrior. Most importantly, he taught him how to channel his anger. Gregory learned how to save up all the anger from the other kids teasing him and unleash it on an enemy. Fighting every kid who teased him at school was a waste of energy and only got him in trouble. Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon taught him to save it up for the biggest, meanest kids. After Gregory took down a couple of them, no one teased him again.

When he came of age, but was still a frustrated and virtually friendless youth, Greggy added “The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus” to his name and set out looking for a planet to conquer. Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon wanted to go with him, but he respectfully declined his mentor’s assistance. He was determined to prove to everyone, especially himself, that he was a warrior and worthy of the LambaDambaBottom name. Like most bullies and conquerors, he settled on a planet whose inhabitants are much smaller and weaker called Nasga. He single-handedly, he literally did not use his left hand at all, conquered the planet and renamed it LambaBad.

The native dominant species of Nasga were a very kind and accommodating people. In fact, Nasga was a refugee planet. Species from doomed planets, conquered planets, lost space travelers and those who just wanted a new place to live were welcomed and eagerly accommodated. Nasga was the number one vacation planet in the universe. Nasga was a near utopia.

When The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom arrived he immediately thrust the planet into chaos. Many of the Nasgans were quick to welcome and serve him, while others saw his demands and treatment of the other guests of the planet as contrary to their way of life. Soon, the planet erupted into global war.

The war was short-lived. The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom dropped one exploding bomb and the planet was his. He had experimented with non-exploding bombs before, but he found that exploding bombs did more damage and struck more fear into his enemies. Nasga had never seen war before. The only weapons on the planet belonged to The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom.

No one even tried to oppose The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom. No one on the planet had ever seen the vicious war tactics or the destructive weaponry 3T.G.L.D.B. brought with him. The war was between the native Nasgans. There were those who wanted to acquiesce to the will of The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom and those who wanted to fight him. The war was predominately fought with insults and the occasional slap.

The native Nasgans knew they could fight each other, but not The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom. Soon after the war started, Nasgans were defecting to 3T.G.L.D.B.’s side solely for self-preservation. He had already renamed the planet LambaBad and its residents Lambads.

The sensors on The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom’s ship indicated large quantities of uranium and coal under the planet’s surface. The non-native inhabitants of Nasga were forced into slavery. The native Nasgans, who submitted to his will and were now called Lambads, were their overseers. The slaves were given the job of digging and working in mines to mine the planet’s new power sources. Nasga had been completely reliant on solar power before the arrival 3T.G.L.D.B. whose technology was all based on the usage of fossil fuels, like coal and oil.

3T.G.L.D.B. replaced all Nasga’s technology with that of XaXet’s. All Nasgan technology was confiscated and locked away in warehouses 3T.G.L.D.B. forced the Nasgans to build. He wasn’t stupid enough to simply destroy everything. He wanted to study their technology and learn how to use it for himself. Moreover, he wanted subservience and letting the people of his conquered planet have technology he didn’t understand would be a potential blunder.

To assure order was kept 3T.G.L.D.B. called in some friends. He sent for his friend and mentor, Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon, who kept a vigilant watch from the sky and maintained order through the omnipresent threat of raining fire. For muscle he had Nakedfoot pick up Splorg, a Splorg from the planet Splorg. Splorg would assure all went smoothly in the mines. Yes, one Splorg named Splorg from the planet Splorg was plenty to keep an entire planet’s slave labor force subservient.

The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom slowly pulled out any slaves who showed an aptitude for science or engineering. He had them design and build him new warehouses for all the technology he confiscated and new things he wanted built. He told them what he wanted and had them design and build it. If things weren’t up to his specifications, the whole science and engineering department was in big trouble. Being in big trouble with The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom was a lot worse than typical trouble for typical people.

The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom requisitioned a large fleet of heavily armed motherships to take his new cronies and slaves with him to conquer and colonize the next planet. Every mothership held its own fleet of smaller ships. Once he used up all the resources he could, with new technology in hand and a dying planet at his heels, set off in search of new worlds to conquer.

3T.G.L.D.B. had the greatest minds on the newly named LambaBad working on new weapons of global domination. His fleet could easily lay waste to most planets, but that’s not what he wanted. The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom wanted to take a planet for all the resources he could. This included slaves, which meant a ground assault with non-lethal weapons. They mass-produced blasters with stun capabilities, net guns, and jetpacks. They came up with Lambots, robots used to do 3T.G.L.D.B.’s bidding, especially jobs too dangerous for actual living beings. Lambots had the ability to stun and net potential new slaves. They could also procure multiple candidates at once. They created F-Bombs, or flatulence bombs, that could be used to gas entire cities. Everyone on the planet chipped in some of the ammunition for the F-Bombs. Every living being on the planet was affixed with a belt that had a tank that collected all their farts. Yeah, it’s gross. War is gross.

Plunging the planet into industrial pusuits, such as mining and heavy new construction, combined with the deactivation of solar capabilities was a shock to Nasga. Burning fossil fuels and nuclear testing pumped pollution into the atmosphere faster than the planet could adapt. As the pollution started collecting in the atmosphere, plants, animals, and people started dying. The planet itself was dying.

The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom didn’t care about the planet. His only problem was a small rebellion brewing. A few escaped slaves freed more slaves. They repeated this process and came to consider themselves a full-fledged rebellion. 3T.G.L.D.B. paid them little attention. He was already planning an exodus from the dying planet. The rebels would simply be left behind. He didn’t want to bring a rebellious influence with him anyway. The next planet would provide him with a new batch of slaves.

The rebels heard rumors of the weapons being built. They knew a batch of weapons would help take their rebellion to the next level. They devised a plan in which they would raid one of the warehouses and finally arm their rebellion. This band of rebels expected to find a plethora of guards. Instead, they found one Yamfennian scientist. She told them about the dying planet and the Lambad plan to evacuate.

Seeing the destruction of Nasga, now LambaBad, was imminent, the rebels conspired with the scientists and engineers to conceive a plan for escape. The scientists and engineers loaded as much of the weaponry and technology as they could aboard one of the motherships. The rebels freed as many people as they could and sneaked them into the warehouse where the scientists and engineers sneaked them aboard the ship. At their first opportunity, when they could sneak past Nakedfoot, The Naked-Footed Dragon, they left LambaBad.

As soon as he found out about the exodus, 3T.G.L.D.B. sent another ship out after them. It didn’t take long for him to figure it out. It was hard to miss the enormous mothership launching from the warehouse and ascending through the atmosphere. He didn’t want to take too many of the resources he would need for alien domination, but he also didn’t want word to get out that his slaves could escape. Following a long pursuit, a brief battle, and a tractor-beam malfunction, both ships crash-landed on Earth. The refugees were slowly accepted by the people of Earth, while their pursuers secretly constructed a mega-base out of their defunct mothership. Still, in fear of the wrath of 3T.G.L.D.B., they were fully intent on returning his chattel to him. The Lambads sent out a beacon into space, so The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom could track them.

After many years and many worlds conquered, and left for dead, 3T.G.L.D.B. finally made his way to Earth. As he approached, he intercepted satellite feeds from Earth. He studied the history and learned all he could. He found that the refugees had created what they called the Refugee Alien Defenders. He also learned of this planet’s dinosaur population and how they died out giving way to humanity. Even though they were separated by millions of years, 3T.G.L.D.B. blamed the human race for the fall of the dinosaurs and set himself on vengeance for what he perceived to be his deceased relatives.

L Squad Profile: Abby

Abby looks like Easter and smells like cotton candy. She’s small, pink, and yellow. There’s a white blaze down the middle of her face with two short swirly antennae on the top of her head. She’s fluffy and even has a white puffy cotton ball tail. To dwell on her physical attributes is to do a disservice to who she is. Other than being kind, sweet, caring, and helpful; Abby is a genius. Since a very young age, she has been tinkering with, creating, and inventing things.

Unfortunately, with great intelligence often comes great impatience. Abby has a hard time understanding why other people don’t understand things. She’s constantly correcting people’s grammar. She doesn’t do well with authority as she doesn’t like to be told what to do or when to do it. Those things, in spite of all her positive qualities, make it hard for others to work with her, which is what got her assigned to the L Squad under Hitch.

Abby, short for Abberonia, is from the planet Yamfenn. When she was very young, Yamfenn was invaded by a party from XaXet lead by The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom’s father and brother; Aloysius LambaDambaBottom & Aloysius LambaDambaBottom, Jr. The ensuing war was basically a battle of tyrannosaurus versus rabbit. The Yamfennians were small and quick, which helped them evade their invaders, but hiding did nothing to fend off the aggressors and even less to drive them from their planet.

The only other advantages the Yamfennians had were far superior intellect and technology. They were not, however, a violent people, which may go a long way to explain why they were so technologically advanced. An inventory of all their technological inventions and innovations would show very little that could be used as a weapon and even less that would aid in an attempt to thwart such an enemy as the LambaDambaBottoms.

Being a resourceful people, with the ability to evade and hide from the XaXet invasion, gave them a fighting chance, or, at least, a hiding chance. While their civilizations crumbled and their cities burned down around them, the Yamfennians huddled together in small groups working diligently around the clock searching for some way to reclaim their world and save whatever was still salvageable.

It took a while for the peaceful Yamfennians to come up with a plan for war, but their intelligence and resourcefulness could not be suppressed. It was virtually impossible for the Yamfennians to design, build, test, and implement effective weapons in time to save their planet from enslavement. They did, however, find a way to hack into the XeXat’s equipment and use their own weapons against them. It worked like a charm, except, unlike a charm, which is really just a confidence booster for moral support, like Dumbo’s feather, this plan actually worked and was helpful. Unfortunately, for the Yamfennians, they made one teeny-tiny giant miscalculation.

Being a peaceful people, and having no knowledge of Earth, they hadn’t read The Art Of War and had never even heard of Sun Tzu. One particular rule would have been especially helpful. To paraphrase, “know your enemy and know yourself.” The Yamfennians knew themselves well. They knew all their strengths and weaknesses well enough to hide until they could formulate a legitimate plan. They came up with their plan and implemented it. It worked great. The Yamfennians had actually turned the tide and were on the verge of running the XaXets off Yamfenn. What they didn’t know was the depths of depravity to which the XaXets, specifically the LambaDambaBottoms, would sink in order to avert defeat.

The XaXet invaders would not be defeated by little pink furry creatures using their own weapons against them. Of course, not all of their weapons could be hacked and controlled. The Yamfennians could only control vehicles and weapons with computers and guidance systems. They could turn their ship around and fly them off the planet, but eventually, they would be out of range of the Yamfennians’ hack and could come right back. They could upload a virus into their fleet that would wipe out their controls, but that would be too Independence Day. Instead, the Yamfennians started firing on the ground troops and crashing the ships into the ground. The XaXets tried to manually override the Yamfennian hacks, but they were too complete in their control. Sensing defeat Aloysius LambaDambaBottom ordered the XaXets to start detonating their nuclear weapons by hand. Since the nuclear weapons had to be powered up, the Yamfennians had no knowledge of or control over them. On every remaining ship, soldiers turned on their nuclear weapons, manually tore open the hatches and started dropping the bombs. Within a matter of minutes, the entire planet was destroyed.

That was the first time Abby died. Not really. When the XaXet invaders first arrived she was one of a small group, mostly young children, who were sent off in a ship to the vacation/refugee planet of Nasga, which makes all the detail about the destruction of her home world pretty superfluous. Oh well. Now, we know what happened and, like G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” Except, in this case, we know most of the battle all the way to the tragic finale.

The pinnacle of the Yamfennians technology was their creation of artificial wormholes. They sent travelers through space and set up corresponding portals so they could basically warp around the universe. As their technology improved, they could find planets they believed could support life and send a portal out remotely as a rocket and it would expand automatically upon reaching its predetermined coordinates. Communication was easy as English is, obviously, the universal language of the universe. If they met with harsh conditions or hostile inhabitants, they could simply implode the portal rendering it useless.

By the time the XaXets reached Yamfenn, the Yamfennians had a virtual freeway of wormholes established. They could easily visit any one of a multitude of planets. Alliances and trade were established throughout the universe. Each portal, or warp, was set up within a few days travel of a friendly planet. It was one of these warps that Abby’s ship used to whisk her away to safety. The Yamfennians sent off a handful (Seriously? A handful? How many spaceships can one fit into one’s hand?) of these ships in different directions. More were planned, but the XaXets shut down that plan much sooner than the Yamfennians hoped.

When Abby learned of the fate of her home world, she was predictably devastated. She withdrew from everyone and locked herself away with her inventions. Even the other Yamfennians couldn’t get through to her. Everyone she knew, everyone she loved was gone forever. She could never go home, because home, too, was gone.

Abby’s self-induced exile went on for years. She had as little contact with others as she could. Being a recluse gave Abby a lot of time to study and invent. Many of her inventions became staples in the heroic endeavors of the Refugee Alien Defenders, but that comes much later.

Abby’s anti-social behavior started to worry many of the inhabitants of Nasga. All of the other Yamfennian survivors recovered from their grief and went on to live happy productive lives. There were even new Yamfennians being born on Nasga. Abby was starting to be a major bummer on the little planet.

Sometimes the smallest things can change everything. Sometimes it takes an alien refugee whose pod malfunctioned rendering him lost in space after he inadvertently traveled through a wormhole and was thus destined to float aimlessly through space for all time or until a spaceship out for a cruise stumbles onto his drifting pod rescuing him and bringing him back safely to their planet to change everything.

When Hitch arrived Abby was assigned to get him oriented to his new surroundings. At first, she resented him for disrupting her tormented little world. After a while, she acquiesced to his charm and charisma. Don’t worry this isn’t some weird interspecies love story. That’s not what we’re doing here, besides Hitch likes green chicks. As Abby helped Hitch adjust to Nasga, they helped each other get over the loss of their respective worlds, even though it is still possible for Hitch to return to his world. The two slowly bonded and became virtually inseparable.

All her years in isolation made it very hard for Abby to be comfortable in public. Even as she tried to re-assimilate into society she had zero social grace. She leaned on her intelligence and Hitch as crutches. If ever Hitch wasn’t around, she withdrew and behaved in a very robotic manner. The people in her town were so happy that she was out and finally trying to shed her melancholy reclusive lifestyle that they embraced her, not literally, she wasn’t ready for that, and accepted her quirks. Unfortunately, for Abby, her tragedies weren’t over, yet.

It was a beautiful sunny day, with a mere four or five clouds in the sky, when the next tragedy struck the young life of Abberonia Smeltfeeld Starmonious. Abby was working on her latest invention, a device that would anthropomorphize animals, when Hitch dragged her away, literally, for a picnic with some friends. He tried to convince her that it was too nice of a day to be cooped up in her lab, working, but that didn’t work. They were at that picnic when the first bomb dropped.

The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom’s attack was on the other side of the planet, but the news spread quickly. 3T.G.L.D.B.’s power spread almost as quickly. He met with very little resistance and, as fear spread, gained support and momentum. The planet was his. His first official act was to change the name of the planet from Nasga to LambaBad. Next, he put all the residents of the planet to work. He split them into two groups, the native Nasgans became his personal subordinates now known as Lambads. He earned their loyalty through strength and fear. The rest of the residents, visitors, and immigrants, were forced into slavery.

For the first few months, the slaves were put to work digging mines and mining uranium. 3T.G.L.D.B. studied his new slaves very closely and started pulling out those with an aptitude for science and engineering. Within a few days, Abby was assigned to 3T.G.L.D.B.’s science department working on faster ships and better weapons. It was better than working in the mines, but she still detested it.

Among the projects in which Abby was involved was the invention of Lambots. Lambots are robot compliments to the Lambad army. They look a little like the Lambads, but more robotic. They hover and have built-in laser weapons, net launchers, sensors systems, and extendable arms. They were made to withstand heavy assaults. They were rigorously tested by the Lambads. If they failed the tests, the workers were punished and forced to fix the defects. The Lambots weren’t used for destruction as much as they were used for capturing and guarding the slaves.

The biggest of the projects was the construction of a super fleet. The scientists and engineers were ordered to create enormous motherships designed to conquer more planets. Each of these motherships held its own mini-fleet of smaller ships. The smaller ships weren’t designed for prolonged spaceflight. They were simply to be deployed in a planet’s orbit and descend like locusts. They were built for a small crew, but with heavy armor and weapons.

3T.G.L.D.B.’s aggressive mining and polluting soon turned the once lush planet into a desolate wasteland. As 3T.G.L.D.B. was preparing to evacuate and search for the next planet to conquer, the wormholes left by the Yamfennians made that too easy, a group of those formerly enslaved by 3T.G.L.D.B. started a clandestine revolt culminating in the commandeering one of the motherships the scientists were building for his fleet of world domination.

Abby was instrumental in the procuring of the ship. As one of the lead scientists on the project to present 3T.G.L.D.B. with a powerful fleet, she had access to all areas and computer systems. One day, not to be confused with two days or even Tuesdays, Abby was confronted by a large Wemeselsim leading a group of escapees turned rebels looking for weapons. They didn’t exchange any personal details, for security reasons, but it’s hard to hide one’s species.

Over the course of three plaros, which is a span of three days further explained in Kip’s bio, Abby recruited the other scientists and engineers, all of whom were ecstatic to help. They took it upon themselves to load the ship with all the technology they could squeeze aboard. The Wemeselsim in charge of freeing prisoners and the planned exodus sneaked people into the hangar and Abby had to hide them while waiting for the planned plaro of their escape. Abby placed a special request with the Wemeselsim to include her friend Hitch. He knew without Abby none of this would be possible and granted her request. The technology was much easier as it was all stored in close proximity to the ships. With each person they tried to sneak aboard, they ran a high risk of being exposed. If they were exposed, they would be immediately executed or, even worse, left behind on the dying planet to endure a slow, painful death.

The Wemeselsimian, named Grek, was unanimously named the captain of the ship. No scientist or engineer had any designs on command. They were happy to be included in the escape. Even the pilot had no desire to be captain. He just wanted to fly and fly fast.

Abby, along with the majority of the crew, went into stasis for the journey. They had all been through space voyages before and had no real need to be awake. If there were a need for any of them they could be safely awakened at any time. None of them had any idea they were pursued by a ship full of Lambads and Lambots, that they found an inhabitable planet, or that they crashed-landed on said planet. They learned a lot when the emergency system revived them from stasis and they found themselves in the tattered remains of the ship in which they traversed much of the known universe.

Slowly, over the years, the alien refugees grew to be tolerated by the inhabitants of Earth. For the first few years, they lived in quarantine to assure the refugees didn’t bring any new diseases to Earth that would lay waste to Earthlings. They didn’t seem too concerned about giving the aliens any diseases. Human governments and citizens had heated debates on whether or not the aliens should be kept in captivity or be allowed to be free. Eventually, they were allowed to roam free but were still far from being assimilated into human societies.

Captain Grek was one who wasn’t too upset about their segregation from the humans. He knew that if they survived the crash-landing there was a high probability the Lambads survived as well. He wanted to create an organization to protect their new planet from Lambads or any other invaders who might float down out of the sky. His first order of business was to start training all of the aliens for the possibility of external threats. He hoped that the Lambads being out from under the influence of The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom would revert to their peaceful origins, but he wasn’t going to count on it. He also didn’t trust the humans. Alien-human relations were tenuous and the human penchant for violence and destruction gave him reason to be wary.

During the testing for what became known as the Refugee Alien Defenders, or R.A.D., Abby tested extremely high in science and technology and very low in teamwork and social symmetry. Basically, she didn’t work well with others, so nobody else wanted her on their squad. Hitch, of course, was elated to add his best friend to his squad.

In the beginning, Abby spent a lot of time alone again. She was on a new planet surrounded by new people. This time she actually felt lonely. In the spirit of “when on Earth, do as the Earthlings do” she got a pet. She got an adorable little tri-colored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. She named her new little girl Charlie. She’s brilliant, but not very creative when it comes to names. She also neglected to realize that Charlie is a boy’s name. During her free time, she and Charlie went everywhere together, but she was still lonely. She wanted someone who could respond to her conversation, which reminded her of the invention she was working on right before the invasion. You know the one that anthropomorphizes animals. That means it gives the animals the ability to walk and talk like people, like the animals you might see in cartoons. She completed it and the rest is saved for Charlie’s bio.

L Squad Profile: Charlie, The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Tinker Bell was just a typical adorable tricolored Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, not to be confused with the much smaller snub-nosed King Charles Spaniel, or, as often happens, the Cocker Spaniel. She is also occasionally confused with Jim Henson’s Muppets. It’s not common but it happens. She was not nearly as dainty as the name her breeders gave her would suggest. She was a small dog, destined not to exceed 20 pounds, though she was very curious and adventurous even as a puppy. She was the first in her litter to exhibit any signs of intelligence but was also prone to fits of wild exuberance and a slave to her spaniel nature. She often exhibited a strong prey drive and an overwhelming desire to chase things.

When Abby first saw Tinker Bell she was immediately smitten. Abby, being ever logical and rational, still took over an hour and a half to decide which puppy she wanted. The loneliness she carried around with her cried out to be squelched, so Abby, in a further attempt to assimilate to Earth and its customs, decided to indulge herself in the strange Earth ritual of owning another life form. At first, the thought was repulsive, but her solitude wore her down and she began researching pets. Throughout her research, she was drawn to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s flowing fur and calm demeanor. She continued to explore other species but kept returning to the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She finally acquiesced to her growing desire and contacted a reputable breeder who could provide exemplary health and lineage records.

At first, the breeders were hesitant to sell one of their fine specimens to an alien. Abby initially neglected to inform them of her extraterrestrial status when she first called them. When she offered to repair a low hum their stereo was chronically making, they asked her to fix a laptop. After making quick work of a long list of technical repairs, the breeders hardly minded all the pink fur Abby left on their couch. As dog breeders, they were used to black, brown, and white fur interwoven with everything, but this pink fur was disconcerting. By the time all the repairs were done, the breeders had come to know Abby a little and had actually grown to like her. They decided she was the kind of person to whom they would feel comfortable selling a dog.

Abby finally got to meet all six members of the litter. She sat on the floor with them and they mobbed her, sniffing and licking and rubbing and crawling all over her. Abby was taken aback by the greeting she received. She was not remotely prepared for it. After a few moments of hesitation, she decided she liked being playfully mauled by these tiny creatures. Getting a pet was the right decision.

The first thing Abby did when she got Tinker Bell home was change her name to Charlie, Charlie the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She thought she was being clever. Sometimes even those who are geniuses can be banal when to attempting creativity. She also failed to realize that Charlie isn’t a girl’s name. From there she moved along to getting all her shots and starting training.

As mentioned above, Charlie was very smart. She took to her training like a bee takes to bumbling. I don’t know what that means, either. She learned quickly. Abby was so proud of her little Charlie Belle, she brought back the Bell when she learned that Charlie isn’t a girl’s name and added the extra ‘e’ to make it feminine instead of a potential surname. Charlie was so well behaved that Abby started bringing her to her squad training. When Captain Grek found out, he forbade it. Abby was so distraught that she nearly quit the Refugee Allied Defenders (R.A.D.). She started spending less time training with the R.A.D. and more time training Charlie.

Concerned with her repeated absences, Hitch came to Abby to find out what was happening. Abby explained and Hitch flexed his growing leadership skills. He told Abby how much the squad needed her and how important she was to the R.A.D., even if the others couldn’t see it. He promised that if she recommitted herself to the squad they could make Charlie their official squad mascot. Abby reluctantly agreed. Hitch was still her best friend and the only friend with whom she could actually communicate.

The new arrangement actually made Abby feel lonelier. She was spending more time away from Charlie as she was always training. As captain of a squad, Hitch had his new responsibilities, which kept them from doing all the fun things that made them friends back on Nasga. It didn’t matter that he dragged her away from her important work to go play. Abby was torn between her responsibilities to her squad and her responsibilities to Charlie. Her loneliness was steadily increasing.

One sleepless night, while lying in bed with Charlie curled up on her chest, Abby had an idea. She remembered an invention she was working on on Nasga. It was a machine that would imbue animals with Yamfennianesque qualities. If it worked, she could instill in an animal the ability to speak English, walk upright on two legs and hold things in its newly formulated hands. Said animal would be able to think and communicate like a Yamfennian. She could anthropomorphize Charlie. She jumped out of bed, which was terrifying for Charlie who was still on her chest before being flung onto the bed and subsequently bounced to the floor. After apologizing to and calming Charlie, Abby headed straight to her workshop and got to work.

Following a few failed experiments, which lead to an enormous rat, a turtle that failed to grow or gain any noticeable intelligence, but loved pizza, an ant who would only communicate via Twitter, among various other mutations, Abby was ready to try it on Charlie. Abby closed her eyes, crossed her fingers, rubbed her foot, that’s considered good luck on Yamfenn, aimed the beam from her machine at Charlie and pressed the button. The smell of smoke and burning hair arose in the workshop. Terrified, Abby opened her eyes, but couldn’t see anything through the cloud of smoke. After a brief pause, she heard a cough. Abby frantically swatted at the cloud of smoke attempting to get it to dissipate. From somewhere in the cloud she heard, “I’m glad I didn’t end up like those other blokes.” Elated, Abby ran into the cloud of smoke, found Charlie and wrapped her arms around her.

It worked. Abby had actually created a device that could anthropomorphize an animal. Charlie was now officially a sentient being. Well, she was already a sentient being. She was a… a… a person. She could now walk upright on her hind legs. She had hands instead of paws. Well, they were hand shaped paws. She could talk. Most importantly her intelligence level was now Yamfennianesque. She wasn’t as smart as Abby, but she would make a serviceable assistant and a friend.

There was one side-effect that Abby would have to fix if she ever attempted to anthropomorphize anything again. Charlie developed a disturbing affinity for puns. Abby wasn’t sure if it was something in Charlie’s nature, something caused by the device, or something Charlie picked up watching television. She was sure she was going to have to train it out of her.

In the morning, after staying up all night talking to Charlie, Abby called Hitch. She had to share this amazing news with her best friend. Now, she had two best friends and she wanted them to be best friends. Hitch was amazed and speechless. It’s a good thing Charlie could talk now or the conversation would have run quite dull. After Abby explained everything to him, Hitch panicked. He told her that she had to keep this a secret. If anyone ever found out, she would be in big trouble and her invention would be confiscated.

Abby explained that she went a different route. She hacked into R.A.D.’s computer system and enrolled Charlie into R.A.D. Hitch could only slap his forehead. Abby went on to explain that she retroactively added Charlie to the manifest of their escape ship as a passenger, so it would appear as if she had been with them since Nasga. Anyone who doubted her legitimacy need only check the records. Charlie was now a refugee Niibellian from the planet Niibell. Abby had to hope nobody did further research because it wouldn’t take much to learn that Niibell doesn’t actually exist. She couldn’t find a planet that was home to anthropomorphic dogs, so she made one up.

When Hitch assured her that someone would notice a new member of their squad Abby reminded him that no one outside the squad pays any attention to them. They’ve been deemed the dregs of R.A.D. and no one on any other squad even acknowledged them, except to taunt them. Abby’s recent inner turmoil and withdrawal made the L Squad’s performance drop even further, leading them to be labeled ‘hopeless.’ They could easily sneak in a new member without anybody outside the squad noticing. They only had to tell the squad. If anybody did notice they would all vouch for her and direct them to the records, which would support their assertion that she’s always been there. Hitch grudgingly agreed, but only because they were best friends who had traversed the universe together. Abby did save his life by sneaking him aboard their escape ship. The least he could do was let her have a dog.

Charlie’s training revealed that her transition to a fully anthropomorphic Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was not so full after all. While most of her intended transformations were amazingly realized, she did retain some of her natural instincts. Her spaniel instincts remained intact. All her training was still liable to be overridden by irrational spurts of excitement. She still loved chasing things and would often streak away after something, usually a rabbit, which Abby found disturbing.

Even when the L Squad was eventually sent out into the world for their, often mundane, missions, Charlie would have to be kept on a leash, which Charlie resented. She frequently tried to talk Abby out of making her wear her leash, but every time Abby relented Charlie would run off and end up in trouble. That only made more trouble for the squad, which got into enough trouble before the addition of Charlie. Now, Charlie’s leash is omnipresent on every mission unless she is given a specific task and it’s better for the mission that she is released.

If Charlie weren’t anthropomorphic and lived in your time this is what she might look like (Photos Courtesy Of Lavender Cavaliers):

This is what Charlie might look like if she had a different life and was on a bed with her Aunt Holly Rose and Uncle Paxton:
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If she were on a log with her Aunt Holly Rose & Uncle Gizmo:
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On the beach:
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If her tongue were hanging to the side:
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If she were Wilson from Home Improvement:
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If she were forced to play dress-up as an elf and not happy about it:
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If she were forced to dress-up like Santa Chuck:
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If she had a stick (or a stick blaster as in The L Squad: Phase Two):
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(She looks kind of savage in this one.)

If she were babysitting:
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L Squad Profile: George

Xjaojgoajofierjtiohauyhis;jafkadjiotuehtrio;jakojfksjuitheiht;sjkajnjniutn;afjksadnfjni;efniouenonioeojojavkjadningtiojek ljnadjfier naoitjesljntionotja mnt oatjajkljiojfajklfmkadsmfknk hails from Sagsreed. Most known beings in the universe don’t have the proper vocal chords or tongue and jaw dexterity to pronounce his name, so we’ll use his nickname here, which is George.

George is a Sagrian, or Sag for short. He is a multitude of iridescent colors. He has four arms but only two eyes and two legs. Sagrian’s have two extendable and retractable antennae atop their heads. Each of the antennae holds an eye. The antennae can spin all the way around. Of course, George can only do this for a short period before he gets dizzy and vomits. George’s antennae also act as ears. No, he doesn’t see sounds, that might be kind of cool, though. He hears through the antennae, quite well, in fact. He has a prehensile tail and small brownish lumps all the way down his back and tail. The lumps look like they may have once been spikes for his less civilized ancestors, but evolution decided they were no longer necessary. The physical feature of which George is most proud is his thick luxurious mustache. It’s black and full. It has the power to hypnotize the weak-willed. It is the most interesting mustache in the universe. Its name is Herman. Herman is sentient but only talks to George in private. Maybe George is just crazy.

George could fly his first hoverwagon, which is the equivalent of a bicycle on Earth, before he could walk. No being in the known universe, without wings, ever seemed more destined to fly. From the time he was born, any time he was on the ground he would look up, preferably at the sky and/or the stars. Even if he were inside, he would stare at the ceiling. His parents worried that there was something wrong with him. As a child, while other children his age were playing sports or computer games, the closest thing to a game that interested George was a flight simulator.

George got his fliers’ license as soon as he was of age. He was ticketed often. It wasn’t just the flying he liked, it was also the speed. As a young Sag, he got a job as a cruise ship pilot. He loved that he got to fly and be in space for weeks at a time. He didn’t love that he could only fly at 25 zurxocs per snarp. He wanted to go fast and, as anyone who is limited to 25 zurxocs per snarp can tell you, that’s not very fast. Seriously, flying a spaceship in space at 25 zurxocs per snarp is like driving a Porsche in the fast lane on an empty freeway and driving the speed limit, which doesn’t even involve zurxocs or snarps. He didn’t have his job very long before the complaints about him flying too fast started to pile up.

After he lost his third job as a cruise ship pilot, no cruise company on Sagsreed would hire him. He was born millennia too late to be a terrestrial pilot. The advent of teleportation made terrestrial aircraft, and therefore people to pilot them, obsolete. Sagsreed is a civilized planet with no need for a military so becoming a fighter pilot was not an option. He coveted the prestigious job of cargo ship pilot, which would allow him to zip around the universe making deliveries and pickups, but that job was way too important to hand to a Sag who couldn’t even handle a simple cruise ship pilot job. Things were looking grim for George.

Jobless and dejected, Herman convinced George that they had to leave Sagsreed. A friend, named… never mind, told George about the planet Nasga. She told him it was a vacation world and they were always looking for cruise ship pilots. Demand was so high it was almost impossible to get fired. George was hesitant to leave his home world and cruise ship pilot was far from his dream job, but at least he could fly. He moved to Nasga where he became a cruise ship pilot, again.

The more mature George tried to take his job seriously this time. He did his best to keep his speed at or slightly below 35 zurxocs per snarp. He was more mature, not completely mature. While piloting various cruises, he took advantage of his opportunity to get to know some of Nasga’s distinguished citizens as well as important off-worlders who were vacationing on Nasga. He made some good impressions and promising connections, but it was a stroke of luck that made all the difference in George’s life, including ultimately saving it.

George was piloting a two-week luxury cruise around the Iisneent Solar System, home to Nasga and fourteen other planets, only two of which could support carbon-based life forms. It was a typical mundane cruise. Following his last cruise, The Intergalactic Planetary Cruise Company received complaints of speeds exceeding 50 zurxocs per snarp, though George really only barely touched 40, so George had to be extra careful to keep it under 30. George was lost in the banality of his life. He was combing Herman and drifting in and out of fantasies. He was growing bored again with being a cruise ship pilot. He thirsted for the excitement of the cargo ship pilot’s life, bouncing from planet to planet at high speeds, dodging space pirates and delivering much needed life-saving supplies to space stations at the far reaches of the universe just in time, receiving the appreciation of beautiful lady astronauts. He was lost in one of these reveries, one in which he was saving a space station full of female scientists from space pirates, when the ship’s computer sounded an alarm warning George of a U.F.O., an unidentified floating object.

George wasn’t as excited as one might think. This type of thing happened all the time. It was usually just an asteroid that had broken free from an asteroid belt and was now floating aimlessly, and harmlessly, through space. George was actually a little miffed that his fantasy was disturbed by something so dull. George ran a full scan of it. Protocol requires that he not just assume it to be another asteroid. George’s pulse jumped a little when he read the results of the scan. It was a pod of unknown origin and there were faint signs of life.

George veered off course, perhaps a little too roughly for the passengers’ tastes. The ship roared and shook like a lion with Parkinson’s disease. When he was within range of the pod, George slammed on the brakes, which sent any passenger still standing crashing to the floor. If passengers complained about 40 zurxocs per snarp, The Intergalactic Planetary Cruise Company would be receiving a record number of grievances about this maneuver, but George couldn’t worry about that. There was a life at stake and he was the only one who could save it. He steadied the pod with the ship’s tractor beam, locked onto the life force and teleported it to the ship. Once aboard the ship, the alien being was taken to sickbay immediately. George made an announcement apologizing to the passengers and crew and explained his actions. The lost, weary, barely alive space traveler survived and George was a hero.

Upon his arrival back on Nasga, at the end of the two-week cruise, George was somewhat of a semi-pseudo celebrity. To his elation, job offers came pouring in. The Intergalactic Planetary Cruise Company even looked past the few dislocated joints and broken hips incurred by some of the, especially elderly, passengers and offered George a promotion and a big raise.

He received a job offer from the Luxury Shuttling Company. There he would be shuttling rich clients, dignitaries, officials, famous beings, and that type from planet to planet. It would be a great opportunity to meet people and jet around from the galaxy, but he would still be restrained by rules, speed limits, and the whims of clients. It was an improvement, but still too close to being a cruise ship pilot.

George even got some illicit offers from smugglers and pirates. Those were the most tempting because there would be no speed limits and flying at high speed would usually be an asset. As a matter of fact, there would be no rules. His job would literally be to break the rules. He was tempted by these offers the most, but, as wild as he can be, George is not a criminal.

He got an offer from the Planetary Intergalactic Shipping & Cargo Trade Company. That was his dream job. He would be speeding from galaxy to galaxy, planet to planet, evading smugglers and pirates, bringing necessities to far off worlds, but another offer made him pause and consider other possibilities.

George received an offer from the Garnak Revolt And Spawn Luxury Hotel Conglomerate. No, it wasn’t a chauffeur job. They didn’t want him to pilot a supply ship. No, they did not want him to be a maid or even, the politically correct, room service technician. You’re not being serious. They wanted him to pilot the pod that they sponsored in the FastPod races. That would be yelpsnig! George could fly and go extremely fast. He could push 25 zurxocs per dlorfk. You can’t even image 25 zurxocs per dlorfk. It would be swift and serious. It would be exciting and dangerous. Given the inherent dangers, the pay would be colossal compared to his cruise pilot days and he would no longer be a semi-pseudo-celebrity. He would be a sincere semi-celebrity.

George took his time to deliberate between the job of his dreams and the job of which he hadn’t even dreamt. Something in him, probably the lingering immaturity, saw the opportunity to be a professional pod racer as the yelpsnigest thing ever. His biggest reservation was that he didn’t want to be a sell-out. He didn’t want the Garnak Revolt And Spawn Luxury Hotel Conglomerate’s logo, or that of co-sponsors Crispy Sugar Leaf Cakes, Flowerish Aromatic Butt Soap, and McFat ‘N’ Nasty Burgers, on his pod.

Ultimately, Herman, being the logical one and least likely to be insane, convinced George to work out a deal where he could do both. He would make his cargo runs and, when he came back, he would get a couple weeks layoff to pursue his FastPod career. Everyone was happy, except the people at Crispy Sugar Leaf Cakes. It turned out no amount of advertising could convince people to eat leaves, even leaves disguised as cakes. The Yamfennians, who are vegan, even refused to eat them. The only edible leaves on Nasga came from the nigk tree and kind of resemble dirty sweat socks filled with expired cream cheese, but, for some inexplicable reason, they’re also crunchy. That’s merely a fun fact and has nothing to do with the tale of George, whose tail is not something I would recommend eating, either. Sagsree flesh is poisonous to Earthlings.

Aside from a small case of homesickness, George was happier than he’d ever been. His hero semi-pseudo-celebrity status faded fairly quickly. His FastPod semi-celebrity status never really caught on. He wasn’t a real athlete like Gobsnort players, Skuuttleebot players, SquiSqwi runners, or accountants. He did, however, manage to win a few races. The biggest thing holding him back from real live solid semi-celebrity status was the fact that he crashed more often than he actually finished races. His record got so bad that the Flowerish Aromatic Butt Soap Company pulled their endorsement and removed their logo from his pod, which actually made George even happier. George didn’t care. He was having a great time. He got to fly quickly and recklessly and, if he actually finished, he usually won.

George was even enjoying his real job, which is something that can only happen on a fantasy alien world. He was visiting planets he had never heard of before. He got to fly as fast as he wanted. One good thing about space is that there’s a lot of space in which to fly freely. This provided George with scarce opportunities to crash, which is good because crashing in space is semi-certain death. If George died in space on a cargo run, he wouldn’t be in this story and have half a chance to achieve some sort of fictional semi-pseudo-celebrity status.

One time, he was even pursued by space pirates. He was a little disappointed that he evaded them so easily, but at least he was pursued by space pirates. That was something cool he could tell Theodore, if he ever meets someone named Theodore. You know how Theodores are always bragging about the things they have and the things they’ve done and stealing your girlfriend. I bet Theodore was never pursued by space pirates and outmaneuvered them like a puppy with a bone dodging his litter-mates. Take that Theodore! The best part was that he was getting paid well to do something he loved. The bad part was that this lifestyle George was enjoying so much was destined to be short-lived.

George was out on a cargo run when it happened. He was on his way back from Mubatuhackfadah, carrying some of that cheap synthetic narktopuloid, which just smelled off. The real stuff is much better. As he rapidly approached Nasga, George had no idea of the chaos he would encounter. Oh, space pirate. Is that a space pirate? No. It’s an asteroid. A space pirate disguised as an asteroid? No. An evil space asteroid from space? No. Just a regular space asteroid from space? Oh. Oh well, pretty soon George wouldn’t have to imagine danger there was real danger awaiting him at home.

When George reached the spaceport, there was no one there to dock him. That was weird. In fact, it had never happened before. George didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t very well get out and do it himself. There was supposed to be someone in the control room to guide him in. Then, they take a hold of him with a tractor beam while the clamps lock onto the ship and pull him in to dock. This time he was just hovering there, confused. He tried to radio for help but got no response. He thought maybe the docking technician had gone to the little Nasgan’s room, but there would still be someone to cover. They had to know he was there. No one could miss a huge cargo ship entering the atmosphere and gliding down into the docking bay. Not even…

In the middle of his pondering, the clamps forcefully wrapped around his ship and jerked him into the dock. This was clearly not proper protocol and George was determined to complain to a supervisor. When he emerged from his ship, he was surrounded and whisked off to the uranium mines. He didn’t even get to talk to the supervisor. Now, he was really mad.

George left the beautiful paradise planet of Nasga. He returned to the conquered slave world of LambaBad. All the Nasgans were now Lambads. All the other people were now slaves. LambaBad was ruled by a XaXet conqueror named The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom. George literally returned to a different world.

It seemed like forever that George was working in the mines. His days as a cargo pilot and a near semi-celebrity FastPod racer seemed like they were eons ago. His days were now all spent in the dark, dank, smelly uranium mines. At night, he was marched to a cell where he was fed outdated stale Crispy Sugar Leaf Cakes. He would occasionally see someone who showed an aptitude for science pulled out never to return. He didn’t know if they were being used for their brains or just removed because The Tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Gregory LambaDambaBottom saw their intelligence as a threat. He saw some beings get sick and dragged away. He knew they wouldn’t be coming back. He knew they wouldn’t have any use for pilots. Pilots always posed the threat of escape. Things looked hopeless.

Just when things were looking hopeless, rumors started to spread. George didn’t always believe the rumors, but down in the mines, they had to cling to anything that could bring them the slightest spark of hope. It was being passed around that 3T.G.L.D.B. was building a fleet of spaceships. Maybe he was leaving. Maybe he would need a pilot. George would do almost anything to get out of these mines and fly again, even be a pilot for an evil conqueror and dictator. This rumor was followed by a rumor that pollution was compounding faster than Nasga could handle and the planet was dying. The only way off this planet was as a conqueror, a slave, or a pilot.

Another rumor George heard was about the Yortians, those sickly eyeball people he saw dragged up to the surface. Workers in the mines were saying that once they got to the surface they overpowered the guards and escaped. They were now in hiding and freeing slaves all over Nasga. They all wanted to believe it and dreamed of giant eyeballs rescuing them in the night. Yeah, it sounds absurd when you look at it that way, but if you were trapped working in uranium mines all day, you would dream of being saved by anything, even a giant eyeball.

Rumors swirled about a group of refugees who escaped and formed a resistance. They were said to be traveling through the wilderness freeing slaves and fighting back. They were growing in numbers and strength by the day. Any day now, rumor had it, they would drive 3T.G.L.D.B., and all his Nasgans turned Lambads, right off the planet.

George and Herman spent the nights they were sequestered in their tiny cell talking over the rumors. George wanted to believe there was a way out of this mess. Herman thought the rumors were too good to be true. Most things that seem too good to be true usually are.

George gave up on the rumors when he heard that the rebellion was started by the Yortians, the eyeball people. The rumors insisted this rebel force, lead by the eyeballs, was planning on stealing one of the ships that were built to be part of 3T.G.L.D.B.’s invasion fleet. They were sneaking all the people, weapons, and technology they could aboard this ship and they were going to escape. As much as he wanted to believe it, George knew holding onto all these fantasies would drive him crazy. Herman told him he was crazy. George told Herman mustaches weren’t supposed to talk. Herman said maybe George shouldn’t talk to him then. Herman conceded that he was just cranky because he was tired and dirty and hadn’t been combed in a long time. George wished he had a comb.

When little Susan found the house Santa got for her, she believed. I mean, when Hitch, the alien George saved from the floating pod, showed up at George’s cell with a device to override the security code in his hand, George believed. Herman did too, but he didn’t say anything because Hitch was there. Hitch told him about the plan to escape and said he wasn’t leaving without the Sag who saved his life. It would also help if George could pilot the ship as he piloted those race pods, well, the times he didn’t crash.

George was a happy Sag again. The next thing he knew, he was up in space in a brand new state-of-the-art, full-fledged mothership. The engines were like nothing he’d ever seen, much less flown. He was flying at speeds that made his 25 zurxocs per dlorfk look like 25 zurxocs per yarf. There was even a ship full of Lambads chasing them, trying to recapture them. George was zooming and dashing in and out of wormholes. He was evading shots from the pursuing ship’s blasters and dodging their torpedoes. He yelled out, as if the Lambads could hear him, “Zoom, zoom, snilg!” It was awesome! Then he crashed.

George was flying, maybe a little too fast, through the Kuiper Belt, a ring, composed of asteroids and icy bodies, that is encased in the Milky Way Galaxy, when he collided with something or a variety of things. The ship was strong enough to take the hits, but it slowed them down enough for the Lambads to catch up. George had been evading them for months and now a few celestial ice chunks allowed them to draw near.

George continued to evade blasts and torpedoes as he sped through the solar system, named the Solar System. When he was slowed by another asteroid belt, the Lambads fired on them taking out their booster engines. The Lambads had no desire to destroy the escaped slaves or the more valuable mothership. They belonged to 3T.G.L.D.B. They were his chattel and ship and he wanted them back. He would need slaves on the next planet he conquered. They grabbed the escapees with their tractor beam and started to tow them.

Captain Grek, the leader of the rebellion on LambaBad and captain of the ship, ordered the ship’s lasers and a torpedo fired directly into the Lambads’ tractor beam. As soon as it hit, George jerked their ship in an attempt to break free. In the ensuing chaos, both ships tumbled through space until they crash-landed on Earth. George is a good enough pilot that, even though he was crashing, he was able to aim his crash to the one planet in the Solar System that could support carbon-based life forms. It helped that that was the nearest planet and its gravitational pull sucked them down.

Everyone survived the crashes, except the ships. The crashes, preceded by the brief battle, assured the motherships would never fly again. Still, they were resilient ships that kept every passenger secure. Other than the damage to the ships, everyone and everything came out of the crashes in pretty good condition.

Following the crash, the refugees were secured by the native dominant species of the planet. They were savage beings called humans. They weren’t nearly as friendly as the first beings they encountered, and assumed to be the dominant species, deer. These humans kept them in quarantine for a long time before they were finally set free.

The Lambads, obscured by the attention the refugees received, escaped from human interference and disappeared into the mountains of Peru.

Upon their release, Captain Grek immediately started the Refugee Alien Defenders. He knew there were already Lambads on the planet and more could follow at any time. He was determined to be ready. Without a ship capable of intergalactic space travel, this planet was destined to be their new home. They were going to defend it.

While testing for placement in R.A.D., George was the best pilot. He was also the worst pilot. Just like in his pod racing days, sometimes he would outperform all the other pilots and sometimes he would crash. That inconsistency landed him, no pun intended, on the L Squad. George didn’t mind. The L Squad not only had the most personality, but it was led by his friend Hitch.

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