Journeys of the Mind
Meecros Gets His Come-Uppance
Buck spent the remainder
of the day and far into the night with Dr. Goodfellow, working on the
drone, while the scientist worked on Dr. Theopolis.
It only took a short time to reconstruct some of the robot’s
inner workings so Theo could hide inside Twiki’s chest, but it took
longer to figure out the robotic synapses that would allow the little
drone to use the new and more dexterous hand.
Finally, he had all the electronics working and Twiki happily
demonstrated his newfound mobility by de-activating Crichton for a few
“Twiki, dear boy, you
know better than that,” Goodfellow said, with a slight grin.
“Leave him alone, Doc.
Crichton was getting on my nerves,” Buck said, straightening up
and rubbing his sore back.
“Buck, if the truth be
told, so was I, but you do realize that we have to re-activate him soon
or he will never let me live it down,” Goodfellow replied.
“And you have to admit, he was helpful in keeping me apprised
of Dr. Theopolis’ specifications.”
“Let me get out of here
first,” Twiki said.
“Let’s both of us get
out of here,” Buck quipped. “You
need any help with Theo, Dr. Goodfellow?”
“No, no, Buck, you go
and get some sleep. I
daresay you will need it, what with that audience you have with King
We’ll see you in the morning.”
“It already is morning, boss.”
Buck rubbed his tired eyes.
Yes, he thought, it certainly feels like morning.
“I’m going to my cabin and try to get a few hours sleep.”
“I’ll go see if the
admiral needs me, Buck.”
“Sure, do that,
Twiki.” In his cabin,
after changing into his pajamas, Buck found himself sitting at the
little table near the kitchenette, thinking about the upcoming
‘audience,’ as Dr. Goodfellow called it.
He planned on winging most of it, but he had to have a catchy
beginning. Pulling up the
remote computer terminal, he began composing and then re-composing.
Finally, after another hour, he felt he had what he needed and
had it hard copied on paper. Buck
yawned and finally collapsed on his bed.
What seemed to be only a
short time later, Buck was awakened by Wilma’s voice at the door.
He tried to ignore it and fall back to sleep. Why would anyone want to get up at this unholy hour, he
thought groggily. Suddenly,
he was being shaken awake and he turned over to see Wilma standing over
him, decked out in her dress blues.
“Hey, can’t a body get some sleep around here?”
Then he saw his digital on the small bed stand and almost fell
out of bed. He only
had fifteen minutes to get ready and be at the hanger for his trip to
Endril. “Holy mackerel,
give me a minute for a quick shower!” he cried, grabbing some clothes
and dashing to the bathroom. “Theo
ready?” he asked over his shoulder.
“Yes, he and Twiki are
both waiting by your starfighter,” she answered as he rushed past her.
She couldn’t help it; she chuckled softly. Dr. Goodfellow had told her how late it had been in his lab
and she didn’t doubt that Buck had stayed awake for a while longer
getting ready to face Meecros. She
frowned slightly. This
whole enterprise worried her. More
than she wanted to admit. To
keep herself occupied, she got Buck’s dress jacket out of the small
closet and brushed it off, then pulled out his dress boots.
What did he call the uniform?
A glorified monkey suit?
She shook her head, hoping that all would go well on the planet
below. In less than ten
minutes, Buck was out of the bathroom.
He sat on his bed and pulled on the boots, while Wilma held out
his red sash. He buttoned
the jacket as they walked to the hanger bay. She couldn’t help but admire him in the uniform.
There was something about a man in a uniform.
She had always thought so, and it applied even more to Captain
Buck Rogers. When he had
finished, she handed him his white gloves.
I appreciate the help, but I sure wish you had awakened me a bit
earlier,” he said.
“I wanted to see if your
boast was legitimate or not,” she said with a smile.
In reality, she had only gone to his cabin when he had not shown
up at the hangar bay.
Buck looked surprised.
“What boast?” Then
he remembered. He had once
boasted he could get ready in the morning in less than ten minutes, bed
to duty station. “Oh,
yeah, that one,” he said. “I
guess you found out, didn’t you?
By the way, did you say Twiki and Theo were waiting by my
starfighter? I thought we
were going down in the shuttle.
More befitting a vehicle for a pilot in the doghouse.”
asked, then she just let it pass, feeling she knew what it meant anyway.
“Regardless, you are the exo in charge of exploration and
defense. I believe that it
is befitting your rank to fly your own starfighter.
And I’ll be escorting you, so Meecros doesn’t have to worry
“Thanks, and it also
wouldn’t have to do with the possibility of us having to shoot our way
“Well, hopefully it
won’t come to that, but the thought crossed my mind.”
Buck just laughed and they
continued down the corridor. Some
of the crewmembers had heard of the incident and wished him good luck. Buck acknowledged them but said nothing, running some of what
he was going to say in his head.
Hawk met him in the
hanger. “Be careful, Buck,” he said, his dark eyes solemn.
“I will, Hawk.
Thanks,” Buck responded clasping his friend’s arm.
Seeing that Twiki was already in the back seat of his fighter,
Buck climbed aboard, slid into his seat and secured his straps.
“You ready, Twiki? Theo?”
“You betcha, Buck!”
“Indeed we are, Buck,”
Theo said. “I believe
that Dr. Goodfellow has done a very good job.”
Now Twiki, you store Theo away now and once we get into space, no
more chatter,” Buck instructed.
Twiki placed Theo into the hidden compartment built into his
“I am deactivating
myself now, Buck, and Twiki, do not forget to reactivate me when we are
safely in the palace,” the computer councilman said.
“Don’t worry, Doc.”
Twiki closed the chest plate concealing the smaller quad.
“I’ll stall them as long as I can, but you will still have to
work fast. You have the
schematics of the palace and the surrounding buildings?”
The drone tapped his head. “Right
I can’t help but believe that the House of Entertainment is
where the machine is. He
would want his toy close so he can play with it.”
probability, Buck,” Twiki said. “Don’t
worry, we’ll find it.”
During all this banter,
Buck had been doing his pre-flight checks and he found that everything
was in order and ready. “Ready
for launch sequence.”
Soon he and Wilma had been
catapulted out from the Searcher and were speeding through space
toward Endril. Buck began humming the same tune he had sung the first
time he had flown to twenty-fifth century Chicago.
Despite all his reassurances to his friends, he was feeling
somewhat nervous. A great
deal rested on his ability to bluff his way through his audience with
King Meecros. He didn’t
doubt for an instant Twiki’s and Theo’s abilities, nor, for that
matter, his own, but so much depended on things that they had no control
over. Like Meecros, for
example. And that
oversexed, overindulged, bratty daughter of his.
He would love to see the
look on Meecros’ face when he got mad enough to try to use his fancy
weapon and it blew up in his face. Buck smiled, some of his good humor
restored, and executed a double roll.
“Captain Rogers, may I
remind you of your mission?” Wilma said, her voice seemingly stern,
but he heard a hint of humor.
Deering,” Buck said, grinning. “Just
trying to ease the nerves.”
The rest of the trip was
made with quiet purpose and they were soon in the royal hanger.
Buck jerked his dress uniform jacket smooth after lifting Twiki
down from the starfighter. Wilma
stood beside him, her countenance anxious, her body tense.
“Good acting, Wilma,”
Buck said under his breath.
You aren’t,” she responded just as quietly. “Please put up an appropriate front.”
Zrinn and two courtiers
approached. The ambassador
gazed at Buck disdainfully, his eyes cold and hard.
“Well, I’m here. Shall
we get on with it?”
“Were you not the
individual who said that you would prefer Hell to freeze over before
coming and apologizing?” Zrinn taunted.
“Their Highnesses and my
superior officers presented very persuasive arguments to the contrary.
You were there when I agreed to do this, Zrinn,” Buck said
Zrinn smiled frostily.
“Well, His Highness, King Meecros and his family will be ready to see
you in about ten minutes.”
It was closer to an hour,
but while Wilma fumed quietly, Buck concentrated on his “apology,”
frowning as he pondered. Twiki
walked beside him as he paced. Finally
Zrinn returned and beckoned them to the throne room.
Again, straightening his jacket, Buck, with Wilma and Twiki,
followed the ambassador through a pair of large overly ornamented doors.
Buck glowered at the man’s retreating back.
It was like being in the presence of the oily courtier Kane.
When they entered the throne room, Meecros was sitting on his
throne, an ornate dais encrusted with jewels and inlaid precious metals.
Next to him on a throne not quite so elaborate was the queen,
Creesus. The princess Oralinn sat next to her mother, smiling
Buck didn’t have to
pretend any of his displeasure now.
All he wanted to do was take the girl over his knee and spank
her. She batted her eyes at
him and smiled even more brightly. Buck ignored her and turned his attention to King Meecros.
“Your Highness, I am here as specified by the terms previously
agreed upon.” Buck bowed
stiffly from the waist. Twiki
beeped noisily beside him. Buck
mentally smiled at the robot’s performance.
“What is the drone doing
here?” Meecros demanded. His
face darkened in his displeasure. “In
fact, I only demanded the presence of Captain Rogers, to pay for his
insult to my daughter. I want everyone and everything else to leave!”
“Your Highness, in my
capacity as second in command of the Searcher, as well as Captain
Rogers’ commanding officer….”
“You will wait outside
the throne room with the drone, Colonel!” Meecros shouted.
Wilma seethed even as she
exulted since this was exactly what they had desired.
Buck had assured her that Meecros would object to Twiki’s
presence and probably hers as well.
This gave her the opportunity to help cover for Twiki’s
absence. “Your Highness,
the Galactic Council will hear of this insult,” she huffed, turning
and escorting Twiki from the room.
“Do that, Colonel,”
Meecros hissed and then turned his attention to Buck.
“Now Captain, Count Zrinn will read the charges.”
“Your Highness, I am
fully aware of the charges. I
am here to offer the apology as stipulated.”
“You will first hear the
accusations. It is the
protocol of the Endril people,” Count Zrinn barked.
Buck rocked back on his
heels and nodded slightly. These
pompous windbags were going to make it even easier for Twiki and Theo.
He listened to the blow-by-blow description of the princess’s
very overactive imagination. It
took some time. When he was
finished, Ambassador Zrinn intoned, “How say you, Captain Rogers?”
Buck blinked and
suppressed a yawn. He also
suppressed the urge to look at his watch.
“It was my understanding that I was here to offer an apology,
not to answer to any charges, real or imagined.
However, if you really want to rehash the whole incident, I have
no problem with it, Count Zrinn,” Buck said emphasizing the
ambassador’s royal title.
“The apology is
sufficient,” Meecros interjected.
“Very well and thank you, Your Highness.”
He reached into the inside pocket of his uniform and then paused
as several guards pointed their weapons at him.
“Uh, just some notes, if you don’t mind.
I want to do this properly,” he hastened to say.
Meecros nodded and Buck
finished pulling out the papers that he had prepared the night before.
“As pursuant to the
conditions agreed upon between Admiral Efram Asimov of the Earth
exploration ship, Searcher, the Galactic Council of the
Federation and the ruling family of the sovereign planet Endril, I,
Captain William Anthony ‘Buck’ Rogers, formerly of the United States
Air Force, assigned to the National Aeronautic and Space Administration,
last assignment date, 1987, more recently assigned active duty with
Earth Defense Directorate in the capacity of Captain in a Defense
Directorate starfighter squadron and at present, head of exploration and
defense on board the aforementioned exploration ship Searcher, do
submit the following formal apology and statement of humility.”
Buck figured that had to be the longest sentence he had ever
written in his life. It
took two breaths to deliver it. He
shuffled his papers and looked up innocently with an apologetic smile on
“As part of my status
with the Defense Directorate, I was given the use of the ambu-quad,
Twiki. Uh, he serves me in
many capacities, including that of major domo.
He keeps everything in order for me.”
Buck shuffled some more. “He
was supposed to keep these in the right order.”
When Meecros looked ready to explode, Buck cried out.
“Ah, there. I have
He took a deep breath.
“In regards to the physical handling of the very regal Princess
Oralinn….” Buck noticed
the princess sitting up straighter at the mention of her name and
primping. He went back to
his notes. “….I do
apologize most profusely for picking up Her Highness and removing her
from the cockpit of the Searcher shuttle XO331 during the flight
from Toran to Endril. While the navigational maneuvers were precise and delicate,
needing the utmost concentration, it was inexcusable on my part to
indulge in such physical conduct with the Princess Oralinn.” Buck took another deep breath and proceeded to the fictional
account of all of the princess’s and royal family’s considerable