“Just look at them! They flew across half the galaxy to a planet with crystal deserts, vanished inhabitants and — holy stars! — sat down in front of a screen and tried to fool their captain! Well, okay then… What if this place is full of some kind of monsters — no, all the locals were captured by some evil pirates, and… aah, no-no-no, Luna and Biri will be captured by pirates, and I… ouch!”
The enemy who had attacked him turned out to be a big glass door to another shop of some kind. The good news was that Kru won the fight; the door hit the jamb with all its strength and shattered into pieces. The bad news… Kru rubbed his forehead and sneakily looked back. “Good thing nobody saw that, how the great savior of the world started his mission by running into a door! What a shame… Good that I didn’t get my nose smashed, though. And I broke the door, not nice at all. Although, what a dirty trick that was, leaving these practically invisible doors closed! No monsters are needed here, everybody’s gonna kill themselves on the doors…”
A creepy, meaningless picture flashed in Kru’s head — people running through the streets, beating their heads against the doors, falling, and being collected by bubble-eyed monsters… He shuddered.
Kru quickly sat down by the wall and looked around. This call was somewhere very close. “Scr… Scraaatch.”
He got up slowly and carefully looked through the shop window. Big mirrors, big chairs in front of them, a screen hanging on the wall, diagrams on the screen … “Yeah, the same diagrams. I didn’t see it then, but this one’s interesting. Oh, and this one is completely… Let’s see…”
Kru got up and pressed his forehead against the window. “Aha… Confound it! It’s gleaming…” He squeezed through the broken doors inside, almost being cut by the glass shards. “I’ve seen these layouts somewhere before. Aha… Oh, hey! I’m Kru.”
He wasn’t surprised at all when two silver shapes got up from their chairs and moved towards him. “Just like those mannequins at the spaceport… no, more like mummies. Yeah, mummies, that’s it.” He remembered Alya and her mummies; it seemed very funny to Kru now, and he laughed softly. His head felt lie a balloon, thoughts flowing slowly and softly, like puffy little clouds in summer sky…
One mummy stretched out hands covered with silver spider webs and put its arm around the boy’s shoulders. “Very nice to meet you, very nice.” Kru didn’t even realize that he’d started talking. Staring on the screen, he hugged his new friend. Of course, a friend, buddy, my old buddy, friends, they’re friends, and it was so calm, and he felt sleepy, very sleepy…
He closed his eyes and saw himself walking onto the bridge of a giant starship.
The mummies grabbed the boy and dragged him to the door. Suddenly one of them slipped on the broken glass and crashed down to the floor. Kru fell, hit his elbow hard, and woke up, moaning. A couple of weird silvery creatures were scrambling on the floor right next to him. Kru quickly crawled away from them.
Holy stars, who are these people? he thought, amazed. Huh, they look just like mummies… I have to tell Alya about that.
Meanwhile the mummies, or whatever they were, got up and moved slowly towards him.
“Whoa-ho-ho, come on!” Kru, feeling like fish out of water, quickly crawled backward. “Hey, is this some kind of local custom? Is this how you greet each other? I hate to tell you, but you’re creeping me out!”
Meantime, the loсals grabbed Kru by the shoulders, set him on his feet, and turned him to face the screen on the wall. “Oh, you just want to show me something? What is it you want to show me? Okay, I see the diagrams…” His thoughts were flowing slowly, like thick honey. “Do you know what these diagrams are? I’ll tell you. This one is… interesting. Hah, this isn’t Moon Titans or even… Wait, Moon Titans? Biri! Luna!”
Kru shook his head, hard. The Mummies held him tight with hands that were hard and somehow sticky. He tried to free his hands, but the silver hands were stronger than he was. Kru was suddenly really scared. “Okay, let happen whatever happens,” he muttered. “If these are their local greeting customs… Well, I’ll apologize.” He got down on one knee, hooked one monster’s leg with his own, and then threw it over himself. Those fly-jitsu classes were really paying off now! The mummy banged against its colleague, and they both fell, releasing Kru, who took up a combat position.
Now he remembered everything: scratching, broken doors, the screen, diagrams, sleeping, how he went to the Captain’s Bridge during his sleep, Luna and Biri in front of the screen in a cafe, the spider web on his nose …
“Out of my way!” he roared, jumped outside, and crashed into a webby chest. The big mummy before him slowly spread its arms. Kru fell on his back, rolled over to the wall, looked around, and froze. Clumsy silver creatures were slowly and silently crawling out of doors and windows, walking down the streets… and then the loud screech cut through the thick air: Scrrrrratch, scraaaaaatch. His hair stand on end.
As he fought the slowdown of his brain, a sudden thought hit him again. “Holy stars, Luna! Biri!” All his fear was gone in an instant. “Okay, so you wanna see Captain Kru in action, huh?” he growled, getting up. “Behold, then! You, you silver bugs…”
Well, Birike was much better with creative insults.
Kru rushed through the creepy crowd. He dodged, turned handsprings, snaked and twisted, and even once run up onto the wall. In fact, he was so busy with all that stuff that he missed the cafe where he’d left Luna and Birike, so he had to back-track. He jumped into the cafe, closed the door behind him, and realized he was too late.