After I had explained to Dave all of the amazing things Plittereeg could do, I headed out, followed by an amazed Dave, to check on the progress of our buggy. It was nearly finished, and as luck would have it, they had discovered the key ingredient. They were going to power it with Weasel’s pickles.
Weasel wasn’t too thrilled about this idea, but he was glad that the jar would at least eventually be opened, even if he didn’t get to eat the pickles inside it. Once Alabaster had opened the jar in one twist- (”after I loosened it,” insisted Weasel,) they poured the pickles into the fuel tank and we headed out.
Alabaster stayed behind and took atmospheric readings, which I figured was okay because he was hard to phase and wouldn’t be too surprised at Plittereeg’s amazing abilities. We trundled along the dusty surface of the planet all clad in space suits. I was surprised at the incredible array of different size and shape space suits that Dave had, because seeing how the Great Flying Pickle Jar had once been a Ductopi colony, there should only be ductopi space suits. I was awed as without a second thought he pulled a small, four-armed space suit for Weasel out of the glove compartment of the buggy- but then again if all of the ductopi colonies were like the Deathbird then they probably tailor-made all sorts of space suits for their various mutants.
As we headed out, we didn’t see much at first. There were three moons orbiting the planet and there was about as much gravity on this planet as there had been on the great blue expanse of desert that had been Plittereeg’s home. But it wasn’t wrong before we ran into some problems.
The first problem was the precarious rocks and mountains and hills everywhere. We had been lucky enough to land next to a valley- a shallow valley and some flat ground- but we were still surrounded by hills, mountains and large boulders. Nervously, I glanced back and forth, setting my gaze on Dave and the rocks. I realized that it would have been better if Alabaster had come along, because Dave had displayed how terrible he was at driving. Dave later explained that when he was a military exus leader he didn’t have to do the steering, he just had to be in charge, so he had limited experience in navigation.
Dave’s first driving mistake came when he started talking about how he couldn’t possibly measure how lonely his childhood was, and swerved into the side of a rocky wall. Dave immediately pulled the buggy back into the middle of the valley but the boulder still came tumbling at us. This is when Plittereeg displayed the first of his tricks. He concentrated very hard and the bulb on the top of his antenna grew at such a tremendous speed that it nearly burst before leaving his head. He swung his head around madly and the bulb detached itself at maddening speed whistling through the air with one side burning up with friction. It hit the boulder so hard that both the boulder and the bulb disintegrated on impact.
The next problem came not from Dave’s driving mistake, but just from the fact that we had neglected to wait for the results of Alabaster’s atmospheric testing. We had stopped to take some rock samples when Weasel started juggling rocks. He was incredibly good at it, given that he has four arms. He started tossing them higher and higher until one of them stayed in the air. Weasel watched it in awe. It started to shake thirty feet above the ground, then it was pulled back like a sling shot up into the atmosphere and shot down like the atmosphere was spitting out a watermelon seed. Plittereeg moved so fast I could barely see him- he was a blur- he did a variation on the hammer arm trick. Rather than forming his arm into a hammer, he left it as a hand, the other part that he changed was that the elbow stayed bent the entire time, so he used it as a boomerang. He tossed his arm up into the air and it grabbed the rock mid-flight. Plittereeg flinched with the pain of the rock hitting his hand with such tremendous speed, but I imagine that the hit severed his telepathic connection with the arm, thereby letting him work without having to concentrate on the stinging pain.
The arm flew back to him like a boomerang, just like he had planned and he held it up in the air in a dramatic pose, trying to look like, well, like who I don’t really know, and in any case, he was doing a dramatic pose. He let Weasel keep that arm but he did so in a confused manner. I don’t blame him. I had no idea why Weasel would have wanted a disembodied arm.
Dave took some rocks, hid them in teh glove compartment and trundled on. The third problem came, not because of atmospheric pressure or because of Dave’s bad driving, but because of the first signs of life we had seen on this planet- a giant larval insect. (I have to call it that instead of a grub for scientific reasons).
The giant larval insect came slithering and lurching out of a cave and attempted to absorb the buggy into its gelatinous body. Plittereeg’s fingers grew longer and the bulbs shrank and his fingertips sharpened. He coiled up his fingers, sticking his thumb up into the spring shape and flicked them out, shooting razor-sharp needles at the beast. This was the first time I’d gotten to see the actual effect of Plittereeg’s finger trick on a living creature. The embedded needles started to shake in the flesh of the larval insect and shot out snaky tendrils that also embedded themselves then flopped end over end across the creature, like a slinky down stairs, leaving horrible chemical burn marks where ever it flopped. The snaky tendrils invaded the body, burning it all over until the entire larval insect shriveled up, burned with very small low-heat flame for about a minute, then crumbled into ash. Plittereeg stood proudly in the backseat of the buggy.
Dave, worried about any more mishaps, drove us back to the pickle jar, but before we could make it to the pickle jar, a boulder fell on the ground in front of us causing a cave in. Dave attempted to turn around, but instead of doing that, he gunned it and zoomed into the hole. Plittereeg and me alone managed to jump off of the buggy. Weasel also tried but failed miserably, falling short by about a foot.
“I’m okay!” We heard Weasel’s voice through our radios. We could only keep in contact with Weasel because he had caught onto a ledge. The others’ radio receivers were most likely broken. With that, we headed back to the space ship to inform Alabaster.