Warblegrub and the Forbidden Planet

Warblegrub and the Forbidden Planet by Andrew Barlow Page B

Book: Warblegrub and the Forbidden Planet by Andrew Barlow Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Barlow
Tags: Cli-fi
intervened, “we don’t leave people behind!”
    She swam to Peter’s side and 395 was feeling the compulsion to join them when Sarah’s torch reappeared in the trench below. As she approached, they could see she was tapping the side of her helmet, indicating a fault with the com-link. Under the Colonel’s glare, she rejoined the company.
    The Colonel turned to the Sergeant. “236, you are demoted to the rank of corporal and will face charges for insubordination on completion of our mission.” Then he turned to 207. “Sergeant 207, can I count on your loyalty and obedience?”
    207 saluted smartly.
    “Corporal 236, can I count on yours?”
    Stoney-faced, the former sergeant saluted.
    “Further disobedience will be punished summarily,” the Colonel warned the others, and they all swam on.
    Deeply shaken, they soon forgot their joy at Fardelbear’s defeat and fell in line, saluting the new Sergeant as they passed. Last of all, Corporal 236 offered her salute as smartly as the rest.

Chapter Fourteen
    “What more proof do you need?” Shmi demanded, as the rainbow bubble bobbed to the surface in a trough between huge waves.

    Warblegrub was still concentrating, his eyes shut tight. She cast an anxious look at the sky. Full of thick black smoke, burning gases and flickering tongues of lightning, it was an apocalyptic sight. A wave crashed over the bubble with little effect but though neither Alex nor the three birdpeople woke, a wing stretched out and brushed Warblegrub’s face. His nose twitched and his eyes opened. His expression was troubled. Another wave crashed over them and the bubble rolled a little.
    “What’s wrong, dear?”
    “It’s Fardelbear; something’s happened to him!”
    Shmi was horrified. “Is it the Bomb? Has it…?”
    Warblegrub shook his head. “He managed to protect himself. And in any case we don’t know if the bomb can actually destroy us.”
    “Hardly a hypothesis you’d want to test!”
    Warblegrub looked round at the sea and sky. “Let’s get away from here,” he suggested. “There’s too much confusion.”
    The rainbow bubble began to move swiftly through the waves and soon reached calmer waters, where it slowed down. Warblegrub’s face lit up with a smile.
    “Some friends are coming!” he exclaimed, pointing ahead, and Shmi saw the humped backs of a bale of turtles approaching.
    The creatures’ dour expressions changed to delight when they saw Warblegrub and Shmi, but when they noticed Alex cushioned among the soft feathers of the birdpeople, they began to mutter angrily. Reassured that the human posed no immediate danger, the turtles recounted Fardelbear’s pursuit of the metal monster but when they came to the avalanche in the trench, their faces darkened and they fell silent.
    “What happened to Fardelbear?” asked Warblegrub apprehensively.
    The turtles bowed their heads. “The humans killed him,” one of them mumbled.
    Warblegrub sucked sharply through his teeth. “He won’t like that one little bit!”
    Shmi frowned. “What do we do?”
    “I think we’d better split up,” replied Warblegrub, after some thought. “You’d better go see if Kali will help – she might listen to you.”
    Shmi glanced at Alex. “I’ll take her with me then.”
    An eyebrow shot up. “Is that wise?”
    Shmi looked perplexed.
    “Kali will….” Warblegrub made claws and a fierce face.
    Shmi rolled her eyes. “You do exaggerate, dear,” she chided. “She’s not as bad as that!”
    “Not as bad! She makes Fardelbear seem positively kittenish!”
    *
    The seabed rose as the divers drew nearer the island and they entered a forest of seaweed. As they wound their way between the tall fronds cuttlefish fled, their fins rippling, and shoals of brightly-coloured fish darted away. An octopus vanished in a cloud of ink, and lobsters, crabs and crayfish scuttled off at their approach.
    They found strange rock formations among the weeds and thought they could see parts of

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