Xing Saga 13: Searching for BodWilf – part 1
Mount Barker, SA
In which characters from Xing come to Earth in search of the noble Bodwilf.
The noble KobWilf approached the Emperor Po with slow, measured strides, his head bowed. He had requested an audience with the supreme ruler of Xing over an urgent personal matter. He was not pleased to note that the heir, Mo, a child of fourteen turns, and his workerbot companion “SkippyDoo” he thought, or some such ridiculous name, were also in attendance. He gave the customary triple rotation of his head and then waited. Po grunted and KobWilf stated his case:
‘Your excellence, most high majesty and …’
‘Oh get on with it, KobWilf, I haven’t got all day,’ growled the Emperor, crossly.
‘I’m sorry, it’s about my only son, BodWilf.’ KobWilf faltered, as if unsure how to continue.
‘Well? What about him. Has he got up to mischief again?’ Po prompted.
‘No, well yes. He’s taken the family pleasure craft and gone off-world. We haven’t seen him for 21 days. His other father, GobWilf is distraught.’
‘So, what do you expect me to do about it?’ growled Po, unhelpfully.
‘I’d like to mount a search party to find him, with your permission of course.’
‘Hmmm,’ Po glanced down in thought-mode. Everyone was very still for the length of time this took him. As he was over two thousand years old, this was a long wait. At last, he looked up again and turned to SnoopyLoo at his son’s side.
‘What do you think, Miss Loo?’
Snoopy was gobsmacked. The Emperor was asking her, a humble workerbot, for advice.
‘Er, it’s probably a good idea, your highness,’ she ventured.
‘And you say that because?’
‘Because there are very few bots now in the noble class due to their low birth rate. A compassionate response to KobWilf’s plea would put you yourself in a very good light and the people need a diversion to distract them from their dull, everyday lives.’
‘Exactly what I was thinking. Let it be so!’ commanded Po, leaving the organising of the search to everyone else.
Mo ran after Snoopy at the end of the audience.
‘Miss, Miss? Can I go too, please, please?’
‘I don’t know about that, Mo. If it involves going off-world the Emperor would be most reluctant to risk it.’
‘He doesn’t have to know. I can pretend to go on a trip to the other side of Xing to study. He’d never miss me.’
‘When he does find out, because there’s always someone who would make it their business to tell him, I’d lose my head!’
‘Well, if you won’t let me come, I’ll just stow away, and that would be far more dangerous. If something happens to me, you’ll still lose your head,’ said Mo. Snoopy pondered the alternatives. She was inclined to go straight to the Emperor about it and make it his responsibility to keep Mo in line.
Later that day when the preparations to leave were almost complete, Snoopy begged an audience with Po.
‘Your highness, I would like to recommend that young Mo join the search party.’ Po’s response was a gasp at her audacity, and a narrowing of his eyes.
‘It would do him good to see what is beyond Xing. He would be under my supervision at all times, and such a step would impress the nobles and everyone else. You would gain their respect and gratitude at the same time.’ Snoopy continued.
‘I would expect that after two millennia I already have their respect, Miss Loo. I find such a suggestion offensive!’
Snoopy backtracked, her mind racing.
‘I meant no disrespect your highness. What I was saying was that, after such a long reign people may, just “may” tend to take you for granted. It could be time to bring yourself back to their notice and in the best possible light.’
‘Hmmph! I will consider your words. Leave me now.’
Snoopy made a rapid exit, saving her sigh of relief until out of ear and eyesight. If Po refused, she would then recommend that Mo be locked up until the rescue craft had left.
Po agreed and broadcast his decision to the masses. Mo was overjoyed, and Snoopy was his favourite bot for almost ten whole minutes. He insisted that Nanny Grey come with them and Snoopy was grateful for a second pair of eyes to watch him.
They travelled with both of BodWilf’s parents, a group of combat bots, several grey bots to serve the nobles and Mo and his entourage. They took with them: food, tools, weapons, tracking devices and water protection spray, modified from the original WD40 brought back from Earth.
They searched the nearby asteroids and planets that the tracking devices said BodWilf had been to, but he had moved on. With a sinking feeling, Snoopy recognised his destination. That dang blue planet they’d unsuccessfully invaded so long ago. They scanned for his craft and located instead a wreck. This put his parents into a panic. Snoopy successfully landed and hid their own craft. The group doused themselves in water repellent and set off, following the GPS signal that indicated BodWilf was a good distance away from the wreck.
As they approached Xing Town, Snoopy marvelled at the changes since she was last on this planet, as a group of colourful, modified bot children ran out to meet them. Mo didn’t mention he was the Emperor’s heir and was soon playing happily with the strange children. Then a group of adult bots came to meet them. Snoopy recognised Oggie and several others from the invasion force. They embraced and she revealed the reason for their arrival. BodWilf was summoned to attend and came with bad grace, trailed by Cobweb. BodWilf gasped when he saw his parents, and then even more when he saw Mo. He and his family retreated back to his house to discuss the situation.
Oggie took Snoopy on a tour of Xing Town with the rest of the newcomers, pointing out their facilities, innovations and inventions. Some of the group muttered in disapproval, but Snoopy was enthralled, especially when she saw the reinforced group car and the panel beating workshop, set up on one side for the car but on the other for repairing dented bots.
‘Oggie, how did your group come up with such novel ideas? Was it the survival instinct in action?’ she asked.
‘Thank you Snoopy, yes, we needed to change to survive. The different colours and features of our offspring were just playful experimentation. You must meet my twins, Flossy and Bubbles – they’re adorable,’ he added, proudly.
‘I’d love to. I have three children, or at least my partner does, back on Xing,’ she paused, ‘I miss them.’
That evening there was a welcoming get-together with music and magic tricks. Polly showed off his anti-grav app and the twins Flossie and Bubbles, now three years old, did a cute dance routine with Dog. Food was supplied to the nobles and to Mo, and the town’s one and only privy was in great demand.