Chapter 22, "Preparations (And Other Things That Prepare You)"
"Battle stations," Christopher announced perilously over a gigantic megaphone. She didn't really need the megaphone. We were all standing in pretty close proximity to her. But she insisted on using the thing anyway. I think it made her feel more "official" somehow.
"You all know what you are assigned to do.," she barked, not unlike a dog, but only if dogs could speak words instead of just barks. "The hour of readiness is upon us. We need to be ready for a strike at any moment, from any direction. We need to make sure that Frig stays full of brains and magically delicious."
Schmeertz raised his hand. "Excuse me," he deliberated cautiously.
"Yes," Christopher pointed at him, calling on him to allow him speaking privileges.
"How exactly are we supposed to keep Frig 'magically delicious'?" He raised his flippers in a humorous attempt at making air quotes.
"That," Christopher insisted firmly, "is entirely up to you."
I wished she hadn't told Schmeertz that. I could see the glint in his multiple eyes as he pondered probably heinous ways to off me. I still didn't understand entirely why we had him on the team.
Candy raised her hand, too.
"You," Christopher pointed at her.
"Beep beep and sausage patties, beep, word." She completed her statement by leaping in the air and landing on her pinkie finger, legs crossed in a truly imposing manner.
"I will subvert that question to Hector for more accurate answering," she explained.
Hector 2.0 pressed a few buttons on his chest and spewed a thin strip of paper out of his mouth hole. He proceeded to read, "The Easter Bunny is irrelevant to these proceedings," crumpled the paper up, and threw it into his mouth for proper disposal.
This answer seemed to satisfy Candy, and she returned to a traditional two-legged standing position.
Xlormp remained stoically silent, and I wondered as I fondled his back slime if he wasn't a little irritated that Christopher and Lou had taken over the whole mission. Especially since my "battle station" placed me with Hector 2.0 rather than Xlormp. It's not like Xlormp was going to be way far away or anything. He'd just be fifty paces to the north. But still. Even Xlormp did not possess a tentacle that long.
The basic battle plan was simple. No need to bust out the big guns unless the Tallybonkers busted out theirs first. Every alien would be stationed with a robot, in some cases, two. We were to keep a perimeter around Lou's house. I was to hide way super far away, in a place that made no logical sense, so that the Tallybonkers would have a tougher time finding me. Christopher originally wanted to hide me in The Place, thinking it was so obvious that it became non-obvious on account of how obvious it was, but Xlormp said no effing way. There was a better chance of me getting accidentally killed in some random alien battle that didn't involve me at all. Christopher said good point, and so my location changed to the back alley behind the liquor store. I had Xlormp and Hector 2.0 with me. Despite how badly they'd wanted to be in my corner, Christopher and Lou had their own spots with their own aliens and robots.
Our battle station would have been rather nice were it not for some crazy, clearly drunk dude who kept warbling incessantly about nothing and occasionally came by to ask us for spare coins. When we shrugged and insisted we had nothing, he got all bitchy and hollered very loudly in our faces, then wandered off hastily to repeat the process on other civilians.
"That man is disturbing my aural sensors," Hector 2.0 whirred robotically. I patted him in what I hoped was a reassuring manner.
"I know," I said. "Me, too."
"I find your aural sensors very pleasing, Frig," Hector 2.0 said to me.
"Thank you," I said, for it was all I could think to say.
"The rest of your form is pleasing as well. It pleases me to be posted with you."
"I would be pleased if you'd quit flirting with my human girl," Xlormp shouted from his post. "She is not attracted to robots anyway."
Hector 2.0 turned his head in Xlormp's direction with a robotic noise. "I detect the human emotion of jealously emitting from the alien," he insisted.
"Nonsense," Xlormp blathered. "Aliens do not feel human emotions. You are detecting pissed-offedness or something more appropriate. Like that."
Hector 2.0 shook his head in a mechanical way. "Incorrect. The emotion is jealousy." He placed a metal hand around my waist and said, "Ha. Ha. Ha."
"Hector," I said, trying to extricate myself from his robot grasp but finding it a little difficult, "be nice."
He dropped his head in robot shame. "I apologize, Frig. I have crossed invisible human boundaries. Feel free to admonish me appropriately."
I thought about that. "Um," I said firmly, holding up a firm finger and firmly shaking it at him with firmness, "do not do that again."
"Affirmative," Hector 2.0 clanked, nodding clankily in affirmation.
"Yeah, and that goes double from me," Xlormp shouted, crossing his tentacles in indignation. "I'll be happy when this is all over and I don't have to worry about robots and alien hunters attempting to extricate my lady friend from me."
Hector 2.0 turned to me. "Permission to admonish Xlormp?" he asked.
"Permission denied," I said, trying to sound apologetic and stuff.
Hector 2.0 hung his robot head. "Shoot," he said robotically.