Xing Saga 13: Searching for BodWilf – part 2
Mount Barker, SA
… continued from yesterday
The group enjoyed the hospitality of the town for a week and then regretfully made their farewells. A couple of Xing Town old-timers chose to return to Xing with them. BodWilf went with his parents without a murmur, Cobweb trailing along behind; a grey servant once more. He’d been using a special scent to disguise his pregnancy, and no one but Cobweb (and Dog) officially knew about it. Snoopy, Nanny Grey and Mo were at the head of the group, so they were the first to see the awful sight; their carefully hidden craft would not be going anywhere in a hurry. It had been destroyed. What on Xing had happened? The damage was even worse than first appeared, so the downhearted group trailed back to Xing Town. Oggie said he’d see what could be done about a repair, and they were all re-housed once more.
Back home, BodWilf proudly confessed to wreaking the damage himself. But Cobweb was not impressed.
‘BodWilf! What have you done?’ Cobweb shrieked. Her usual shy deference giving way to outrage.
‘It was all for you, my love,’
‘In that case it would have been better if you’d asked me first!’
BodWilf was taken aback. He experienced a stab of fear as things were not going anything like he had anticipated. She was berating him? Him? How dare she!
‘I think you forget your place, Grey,’ he said, coldly, expecting her to come to her senses and return to her accustomed blind devotion.
‘No, now I see quite clearly where my place should be,’ she paused, looking him straight in the eye, ‘and it isn’t here.’
BodWilf watched in helpless dismay as she gathered her few belongings and walked out the door. She’ll be back, he thought, begging my forgiveness. Well, he’d keep her waiting for that. As the day drew on with no sign of Cobweb, he became anxious. Please come back my love, he thought. I’ll do anything you ask. He spent a cold, lonely night regretting his words and his actions. The next day he went looking for her. She was staying at Oggie’s and didn’t want to see him, he was told. He suffered her absence for almost a week before he broke.
He called a meeting of all the bots in Xing Town.
‘Fellow bots,’ he began, and those who knew him were startled at this familiarity. ‘I am here to confess to a terrible crime and to beg your forgiveness.’ He had their complete attention now. He noticed with relief that Cobweb was hovering at the back of the group.
‘It was I who sabotaged the spacecraft, stranding our latest group of bots on Earth, and I did it for totally selfish reasons.’ There was an outbreak of angry chatter and stern disapproval, but he expected no less.
‘I am in love with a grey bot.’ He waited for the gasps of incredulity to subside. He noticed that Oggie and most of the long-term Xing Town residents didn’t even blink. ‘She, the lovely Cobweb, is my life. I’m having our child.’ This time the gasps and hurrumphs came from his parents.
‘If we went back to Xing, we would be separated. She may even be executed for treason. I would be forced to abort what they would consider an ‘abomination’ and my life and reputation would be ruined for ever.’
He paused. ‘I couldn’t let that happen. But I didn’t take into account the disruption this would cause to the lives of the bots who bravely came on this rescue mission. I’m truly sorry. I will do everything in my power to restore the craft to working order so that those who still wish to return may do so. But …’ he paused dramatically, ‘they may have difficulty doing so, as I have to confess to another crime: I hacked your craft’s pink box, sending back a signal that it had crashed with no survivors!’ Oggie and friends had to restrain several of the newcomers as they surged forward in fury.
‘This was to prevent a second rescue mission, you see. It was also to protect this town,’ Oggie nodded as though he knew what was coming next.
‘In isolation from your home planet, you survivors of the Xing invasion have developed many innovative ways to blend in with your alien neighbours. However, any word of this back on Xing and you would all be condemned for heresy. I’m sorry, but you know this is true.’ He turned to the newcomers.
‘As for you, with news of your deaths life will go on without you. The Emperor Po will generate another clone to replace Mo. So Mo can never go back or the new child will be killed. He can become Emperor here instead. Those of you with partners may find they have replaced you, and all of you have been genetically compromised with the compulsory waterproofing upgrade. Please look at life here in Xing Town, at its freedom, its amazing possibilities. Give yourselves time to appreciate it. Then consider if it is worth going home to possible charges of heresy or worse. That’s all I can say, except to humbly beg your forgiveness. I will subject myself to whatever punishment you deem fit.’
Cobweb did not return home as he had hoped, but she did come up to him, take his hand and smile. That was enough for now.
Snoopy was one of the few from the rescue party who still wanted to return to Xing. Her whole family was there, she couldn’t conceive of giving them up. It was she who came up with a suitable punishment for BodWilf: he must spend a month as a greybot, doing menial tasks, bowing his head, taking orders. He accepted the judgement nobly, inwardly welcoming it as a way of getting closer to his love, experiencing life as she had lived it, and cringing at the memory of how he had treated her.
Snoopy was one metalbot who would never forgive BodWilf.