If someone had told me only a few days ago that fighting with Daisy would change the fate of all life on earth, I’d have laughed in their face. I mean, really, how can the way I treat my pesky, little sister have anything to do with anyone else—let alone the whole planet? She’s my sister, after all. Don’t I have the right to pick on her?
However, a few days ago, all I knew was the planet earth. A few days ago, I was just a rotten older brother torturing his annoying little sister—with good reason of course. But so much had changed. Today, I knew different. The argument Daisy and I started on the couch, which sent my mother Ginger through the roof, was the very fight that had carried all of us into a drama of life and death we never could have imagined.
After a long “all of the universe could be under attack” meeting with several kinds of Kelps: sea, forest, land, jungle, fresh-water, and subterranean, Vander-Kelp led us back to his ship. By this time, Daisy had finally regained the full use of her body. She was shaky, but able to walk on her own.
“Wow, all of the types of life on Kelpsin look rather animal-like, except for the land Kelp and the sea Kelp. Why is that, Sir?” Daisy asked.
Vander-Kelp smiled as we both looked at him. “That’s a story for another day. It’s too long to tell, I’m afraid.”
I arched a brow. “What you really mean is you don’t think we can understand it.”
Vander-Kelp nodded. Then, he looked up and sighed. “As well, some things are simply best left untold.”
I wanted to ask more, and I could tell Daisy wanted to as well, but there was something about the tone of Vander-Kelp’s voice that was final. I took his phrase to mean more of something like if I told you I’d have to kill you.
Boarding the Kelp mother-ship was mind-blowing. It looked a lot like the space-ships I’d seen on Star Wars. It was like the Death Star but more oval-shaped with a long rectangular section protruding from one end of the ship.
Inside the spaceship looked like a hospital. It had tile floors, muted, pasty-gray and green walls, and sloth-like forest Kelps dressed in black and gray leather uniforms. The Kelps were everywhere. Some were soldiers walking in formation; their nine-foot tall bodies swaying to an internal rhythm. Some walked about singly and quite randomly. These unidentified forest Kelps wore white or olive-green scrubs and smiled and waved at Vander-Kelp and us.
“Medical staff.” Vander-Kelp said as we walked past them. “What with the water, we don’t use them much except for immediate injuries. But they are quite specialized. Some are also involved in research developing concentrated solutions of the Glugenal water for even more effective health care.”
At last, Vander-Kelp led Daisy and I onto the bridge of the ship. It was a large cylindrical room. Nearly one-third of it was a three-dimensional viewing screen. When not in use, it was a window into outer-space.
“Strangely, space looks conquerable from a gigantic ship like this.” I said.
“Conquer, no.” Vander-Kelp said. “Explore, yes.” Then, he led us forward to a row of seats. “The two of you will sit here.”
Daisy and I sat down in the chairs and belted ourselves in. The crew moving about the command deck paid us no attention. They were all hard at work pressing buttons and crunching numbers between themselves.
Daisy tapped me on the shoulder. I turned away from my observations and looked at her.
“Vander-Kelp said at that meeting it was time for the Kelps to do some spying of their own. What’s going to happen to us, Kyle?”
I shrugged. “I think we’re in good hands now, Daze. Vander-Kelp has got it all in control.”
She smiled. “Okay.”
Vander-Kelp sat in a command chair in front of us, facing the viewing screen. He lifted his right arm and said, “Take us out.”
As the mother-ship began to move I had a surreal moment. I felt like I was on an episode of Star Trek I had seen at my grandparent’s house. The hangar in which the ship had been docked disappeared slowly from the main viewing screen. Then, suddenly the stars were rushing at the ship and gone before I could make sense of what was happening. I looked over at Daisy. Her eyes were wide and her feet were bouncing up and down against her chair.
The ship zoomed through space. I leaned back to get comfortable, when a flash of green light burst onto the viewing screen. I saw Vander-Kelp sit straight up.
“Full stop.” He said. After the spaceship stopped, the green light on the screen solidified into a sphere. “A message. Bring it on board.” Vander-Kelp mumbled.
It took about three minutes, but then a land Kelp entered the bridge and brought a green, glowing, neon sphere up to Vander-Kelp. “Message from the Deceivers, Sir.” He said. “Standard green-market communicator, here. No code necessary to decrypt. It’s ready for you.”
Vander-Kelp took the message orb and popped it open. “Tracking device.” He said to no one. He ripped something out of the inside. He turned and handed it to the land Kelp. “Power this tracker down. I want it analyzed.” Then, he pulled out a small round disk. He held it out to a forest Kelp, dressed in black leather, off to his right. “Play the message.”
The Kelp took the disk and pushed it into a small opening on his control console. Suddenly, the viewing screen went blue. I felt like I had just popped in an XBOX game. Then, as I suspected, the screen transitioned from blue to a rotating graphic. The graphic looked like an alter-Earthling’s head with only one cat-eye open. This graphic made a meowing noise and then was quickly replaced by the image of a man I recognized. It was George. His image began talking as if reading from a teleprompter.
“Greetings, Kyle and Daisy, and any accompanying Kelps. I am George, commander-in-chief of the alter-Earth military. As you all surely know by now, we have been after the Glugenal suit. There’s no need to hide this fact anymore as we have finally procured one. Thanks to Kelp gullibility, Hugh, one of our own was able to visit Kelpsin, lure a female Glugen, and deprive her of her suit.” He grinned like a true TV newscaster.
“Hugh failed to return. In a certain misstep, he must have allowed himself to be poisoned by the suit. Thankfully, however, Kyle and Daisy found him, after he entered in the wrong coordinates and crashed on earth. When Kyle and Daisy first landed here alter-Earth, we were very excited. We had never met a real Earthling before. After some observation, we enlisted them both to help us…which of course, they have both proved reluctant to do. Right kids? Aside from your general mischief, Kyle and Daisy, you have succeeded in destroying our main military hub. Yes, that lucky grenade was quite a blow.” Then, George laughed. It was a genuine chuckle full of pure happiness. I was shocked.
Then, George’s image stepped closer to the screen. “You may wonder why I am laughing. Yes, I’ll bet you both are.” George crossed his arms across his chest and rather stiff military uniform. “You see, while we were gathering up our suit—on Earth—we found something else. Or, should I say someone else?”
My stomach sunk. I looked over at Daisy. Our eyes met. We knew. Mother!
I looked back to the screen. George’s image was still smiling. He tilted his head as if he knew the effect he’d had and was waiting a bit longer—enjoying it. Finally, he sighed. “Well, now we must get to the point.” He continued. “You Kelps must also be wondering why alter-Earthlings would want a Glugen’s skin anyway, right. Well, I’ll tell you why…”
The image zoomed out from George. It showed him standing in a room full of bubbling beakers, metal ammunition casings, syringes, and tubes filled with different-colored fluids and a handful of alter-Earthlings—their cat eyes glued on us. It was creepy. Then, George walked over to a table where a body lay underneath a plastic dome.
“No…” the word huffed out in an unexpected exhale. I felt Daisy grab my arm in an iron grip.
George leaned on the plastic dome. “To you Kelps and especially to Kyle and Daisy: welcome to the alter-Earthling military and biological-warfare lab. Here, we have been concentrating the toxins from the inside of the Glugenal suit. Soon, we will have produced a weapon that will allow us to remove all life on all the other life-sustaining planets in the galaxy…and beyond, perhaps. Why would we do this? Well, by getting rid of the competition, there isn’t anything we can’t have—right now. Quite frankly, we’re tired of sneaking and investing money in further spy tactics. This is a much more economical option for our society. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“That’s horrific!” Daisy said. I grabbed her hand.
“And there’s more good news.” George said. “In only a few tests, we been able to forecast—with relatively little doubt—that no planet in the known universe has an antidote for Glugenal poison. Let’s just say we’ve traveled a bit, shall we?” He leaned over and grabbed something out of a disposal can. He held it up. It was an empty bottle of Glugenal Water 3.0. “It is quite possible, dear Kelps…that even your special water may not save the day. However, we’d like to know…for sure before we implement our galaxy-wide extinction project.”
“I’m tired of listening to this,” Vander-Kelp said. “Turn it off. He’s not getting any water. End of story.” The message paused, freezing George’s unsettling cat eyes on the screen.
“No, wait!” I said. “Please, just a bit longer. He’s about to tell us who’s under that plastic dome. It’s important, please.”
Vander-Kelp nodded. The image began moving and talking again.
George’s image tapped on the plastic dome covering the anonymous body. It began to rise up from the body. Ginger lay frozen under a layer of blue powder.
“Mom!” Daisy gasped.
George’s expression was smug. Then, he squinted his cat-eyes at us. “Here is Kyle and Daisy’s mother. Bring us the Glugenal water and we will restore her back to you.”
Vander-Kelp paused the image with a raised hand. He turned to me, swiveling in his command chair. “Is that truly your mother?”
Daisy and I nodded. I was numb. In that moment I wished I’d never fought with Daisy. I wished I’d never ruined her dresser or called her names. I wished we’d never raced to the spaceship crash. I wished I had listened to Daisy and turned Hugh’s body in to the government. I wished my curiosity over the spaceship and my need to one-up Daisy had never been a problem.
Why do I always get so competitive? Why do I even care if she sat on my side of the couch? It’s mom and dad’s couch anyway—not mine.
In that moment, nothing was more important than saving my mom and getting us all home safe. Yet, I was powerless to do it. “We’ve got to save her, Sir.” I said.
Vander-Kelp motioned for the message to play on. George walked around the table and poked at Ginger, my mother. “Rather attractive for an Earthling—except for all the blue powder, of course.” He sniggered. “Well, bring the water, and Ginger goes free. OR…”
What happened next stopped my heartbeat for at least five full seconds. I was sure of it. George grabbed a syringe he described being full of concentrated Glugenal poison. He squeezed out one tiny drop into my mother’s mouth, and looked up. The view zoomed in on his face. “Whoops… Well, she is certainly dying now from Glugenal poison…unless you bring the water to us—the only possible antidote to the poison—in the next thirty minutes. Of course, if you’ve been delayed in getting this message, then your time is almost out and Ginger will soon be dead.”
The message ended with George smiling.
Silence prevailed for only a millisecond. Then, Kelp communication flew about in a pandemonium of questions, commands, and answers.
“When did the message arrive?”
“Twelve minutes ago.”
“Power up. Full warp to alter-Earth. How long till we arrive?”
“Three and one-half, minutes.”
Vander-Kelp hit a button. “Chief medic: what is the most concentrated form of Glugenal water on board?”
Beep. Another beep. Static. “8.0, Sir, but a dose this concentrated is nearly a poison all by itself. It’ll clean even the good stuff out of a body.”
“Package it up in all dispensable formats and get up here.”
Vander-Kelp hit a different button. “Chief of security, get with your staff and come up with a plan to take out that biological warfare plant the minute we can get clear of it. I want a crater blasted in the planet. Send a message back to Kelpsin, as well, about the threat against our water. Lock down procedure thirty-four.”
“It will be done, Sir.”
Vander-Kelp turned to his navigation team. “How long after we arrive to save Ginger before she dies?”
“It’ll be about fifteen minutes or less, Sir.”
“Can we transport directly down to the biological warfare facility?”
“Sir, that’s the problem. We don’t even know where it is. George didn’t tell us.”
Vander-Kelp turned to look at me. I stared at him. His eyes communicated with mine. We both knew fifteen minutes wasn’t enough time to find the biological warfare facility and save my mother.
“He knew we’d come in a hurry bringing the water.” I said. The words came out barely more than a whisper.
“They never intended for her to live…” he said.
“They intended for you to bring the water and your most powerful weaponry…”
“Into a trap.” Vander-Kelp finished. “It’s another trap.”
Read from the beginning!
Hi! My name is Angela Tempest. I write fiction that entertains, takes you to another world, and fills your life with truth. I hope you’re enjoying Copy Cat Earth. If you love it, there’s more. Check out my author page to read my other stories!