Previously in Future Prefect... Bite, Bark, Bath, Pord and The Geraldine escaped from America with the fortuitous collapse of a magical barrier erected centuries before to prevent anyone from doing just exactly that. Leaving an army to guard against a possible American invasion of eastern Russia, they pause briefly for a bath before heading for Cambridge to arrange teleportation to the moon. However, before they arrive...
Agnes let the invisibility field go with a sigh of relief. She could keep it established for hours at a time, but it was tiring, and the added danger of even the slightest slip had kept her nerves on edge ever since the American soldiers had stormed the cavern of the moon people. Linda had located an out-of-the-way storeroom free of security cameras for them to rest in while they considered the implications of what they had seen.
'The problem is, we still don't know what the thing does,' the Sitter on the Chair of Mina was saying. 'If we destroy it, we could be hurting ourselves.'
'How do we find out?'
'The moon people might know,' Linda suggested.
'We'd better go and ask them, I suppose. Let me get some sleep and we can go looking for them.'
A few hours later
The Queen's body still lay slumped over the throne where she had died. In the dim light of the unoccupied cave she might have been sleeping save for the utter stillness of her chest.
With a rushing of displaced air, Bath appeared next to the throne, followed rapidly by Pord, Bite, Bark and The Geraldine. All of them immediately fixated upon the Queen's body, Bite pausing to give it a quick check.
'She's dead, over fifteen hours ago I'd guess,' he said.
'What killed her?'
'This seems a likely candidate,' the Guru replied, straightening the Queen's body a bit so they could all see the wound just beneath her heart where she'd been shot. 'We'd best be very careful.'
'Agnes and Linda aren't here,' Pord said after probing the surrounding area with his mind. 'I'll look further afield for them.'
'Are there any other people nearby?' Bath asked.
'Yes. One, down that way about three hundred metres.' Pord pointed at a tunnel leading out of the cave.
'Okay, Geraldine come with me, we'll go see who it is and if they can tell us anything,' the wizard declared. The Geraldine fell in behind him and they soon came across a chamber with a partially-concealed entrance. Inside they found a very tall, thin and pale man sleeping on a pile of blankets.
'Shall we wake him?' The Geraldine whispered. The man's eyes shot open and he sat bolt upright instantly, looking at them wide-eyed. There was a pause, then he suddenly seemed to relax.
'You're not soldiers,' he said. 'You're not even Americans. What are you doing here?'
'We're looking for our friends,' Bath told him.
'The two women from h2g2?'
'You know them?'
'I saw them, then the Americans came and took everyone away and killed our Queen. I managed to hide from them, but I didn't see them after that.'
'Agnes probably made herself and Linda invisible,' The Geraldine pointed out.
'It would seem sensible, under the circumstances,' Bath agreed. He turned back to the man. 'I'm Bath, a wizard, and this is The Geraldine, an oceanographer, seismologist and geologist of highest renown.'
'Derek,' the man said. 'Pleased to meet you.'
'Could you tell us more about your people, Derek? Why did the Americans take you all away?'
'We're their slaves,' Derek said bluntly. 'About two weeks ago some of us escaped and came here, hoping to hide from them and live out our lives in peace. Then Linda and Agnes came, and our Queen took their side and started telling them of our history, but then the Americans came and killed the Queen and chained everyone and took them back to their base.'
'Slaves!' The Geraldine exclaimed. 'That's... that's...'
'Barbaric,' Bath supplied for her. 'How can we get to this American base?'
'You can't,' Derek said. 'I checked, the Americans took all our surface suits and vehicles.'
'We might be able to get around that,' Bath said. 'If we had to walk, and we didn't have a problem surviving without suits, how far is it?'
'About fifty kilometres.'
'More walking?' The Geraldine asked.
'Looks like it. At least we're in low gravity this time,' Bath replied. He turned back to Derek. 'Do you want to come with us?'
'Well, I was thinking perhaps we could find Linda and Agnes, work out what's really going on up here and see about putting your people in charge of the moon. What do you think?'
'You don't even know our history,' Derek said, 'yet you immediately suggest exactly what we most desire.'
'It's not too hard,' Bath assurred him. 'Are you with us?'
'I will follow you anywhere for a chance to free my people,' Derek declared.
'I wouldn't recommend it,' The Geraldine said with a slight smile. 'Bath might not like you accompanying him in the shower.'
'I'll remember that,' Derek said, breaking into a grin for the first time.
'Let's go then,' Bath said, shooting a look at The Geraldine that suggested retaliation would come later. 'Time to do something useful for a change.'
Will these exciting developments lead to some exciting action in future parts? Will Bath succeed in freeing the moon people and driving the Americans off Luna? And what is that big machine for? Find out in future installments of Future Prefect.