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The Colossal Bottomless Depths of Blubbo

By Don Reis All Rights Reserved ©

Children / Fantasy

PART 2 – PINK TO THE HORIZON

The sudden and quite unexpected arrival of two Soldat hovos in their midst made the Larward Splat group explode from their normal job of food and herb gathering and go running helter skelter in all directions, most with their conical shells held parallel to the ground. They were taller than the other group of Splats of which Babblo was a small sized member. The light, bright green conical shells seemed flared at both sides and resembled wings. The colouration would have been highly effective against a background of the green water that seemed to fall and flow regularly in this region. This made Babblo jibber jabber in an almost high shriek and this noise was so constant, that combined with the shrieking of the newly discovered Splats, was almost ear piercing.

Babblo was evidently so excited because these Splats looked so strange. She never seen on with anything but a shell in one or other shade of pink before.

Once the torrent of green had stopped, for a while at least and the surface liquid had started to dissipate, the party had explored the shore of the great Blubbo Sea. Zarchi and Grahoconno seemed to be the most awed by the vast, endless stretch of pink. Pursho had tried gallivanting on its surface, only to sink like a stone. But it had risen quickly and managed , with some difficulty to sludge back to shore, dripping green liquis from every scale, feather and piece of fur. This vast expanse of Blubbo wasn’t effervescent like that at Blubbo 1 an Blubbo 2 or in the Blubbo bowl. It contained very little entrapped oxygen at all.

Slowly Zettaward they had then headed searching for the new colony of Weinisplats but the keen eyes of those being sought had seen the hovos before any of the party had noticed them.

In their alarm, most of the Splats had headed for the nearby trees and brush and those left behind had to settle for any rock or fallen branch. The arrival of the hovos had also sent hundreds of small featheros spiralling orbwards. Other unseen or barely glimpsed creatures also exploded in to action further spooking the Splats. Babblo continued to squeal shrilly and the Pursho went absolutely bonkers.

A group of about eight of the unusually coloured and shelled Splats were cornered in a pincer movement by the two hovos. When they realised that there was no escape, they immediately fell as one and lay prone on the ground trying to disappear into the bright green herb that covered the groud in all directions. Feet and arms were tucked up tightly against their shells, heads tucked right in and bodies shielded by the mass of their armour.

The hovos stopped and certain members of the party emerged very cautiously so as not to cause further panic. In the distance, Zarchia could make out members of the group no trapped trying still to flee the scene. They looked quite comical bobbing and weaving trying to keep as low to the green cover as they could..

Leezbert was the first of the trapped Splats to open his eyes and peer round the flanges of his almost fluorescent green shell to see the humos and the strange pink shelled Splat standing over him. He realised the hopelessness of his situation and then he realised that one of the creatures he recognised as a humo and a small, very odd looking Splat were talking to him in speech he could almost comprehend.. He lay still listening, trying to get some meaning from the strange words, a phrase here and there almost came to him, being very close to his own tongue. Next to him he could feel his mate, Catroons shivering, her legs jerking convulsively in and out and away from her protective shell, leaving her exposed to the new danger. He had heard stories of these strange humo creatures and their noisy speeding machines though he never personally encountered any previously. They usually did not come this close to the Great Pinkness.

Although he was still not willing to try to stand or even to sit up, he tried to speak. Catroons, he noticed, had now got her legs under control, had sat up and was trying to stand. The other trapped Splats were still lying prone, trying hard not to move at all, hoping to avoid notice. Leezbet suddenly found his curiosity overcoming his fears, replacing them with wonder at the humos machines and also accute interest in the strangely coloured Splat. He realised that Catroons was also taking an interest

Maribo, was speaking softly and sweetly in a mixture of Babblo type Splat talk and humo speech., using hand movements and facial expressions to reinforce her words. Bablo was jibbering on quite emphatically slowly walking closer to Leezbet and Catroons and the other trapped green-shelled Splats.

Aaandt had also slowly dismounted fro his hovo and had seated himself on the ground, and he, too, was adding the occasional Splat word or phrase.

Zarchia had also dismounted from the hovo but remained standing as still as a post in the one spot. The remainder of the part remained in the hovos to try to minimise the impact of a first meeting.

The other six green-shelled Splats were now showing signs of recovery and were now attempting to sit up; firstly moving an arm or leg, peeping an eye cautiously around the flanged shell sides. Suddenly, as one, they sat up and the whole eight began jibbering in a low jabber that was quite different in tonal qualities and inflection to that of Babblo’s Splat group’s.

All of the group bar the Soldats and the Pursho now sat in an elongated group with the eight new Splats in the centre. Nangrifo and Grahoconno kept guard, mainly watching for any large featheros. Nicosimo was doing minor running repairs on the machines. The Pursho had once again disappeared. There was no sign of the remainder of the Splat group. They had vanished as if they had been a mirage. Obviously their cornered brethren were to be left to their fate.

After much jibbering and interplay of words, some words and phrases which seemed remarkably similar were weeded out and examined and armed with these and with arm and eye movements, Maribo, Babblo with the occasional help of Aandt were starting to make some progress. They were now beginning to make some sense of what the new Splats were trying to say. Ambo could understand nothing of this, but, to her surprise, Zarchia found that she was understanding quite a lot and found this Splat speech much easier than that of Babblo’s group.

Suddenly Leezbet let out a shrill yell and almost jumped clean out of his shell. This set the other Splats trying to scramble to safety, all jibber jabbering in high pitched voices. The green shelled Splat had felt something moving on the top of his shell, and looking up he had spied a strange white face with bulging eyes and flashing red mouth-scales staring intently at him. It soon disappeared again in a flash of fur, feathers and scales. Seeing escape was impossible as they didn’t know what they were fleeing from, the remainder of the Splats fell to the ground and retreated to their curled up under their shells positions.

It took quite a lot to convince them that it was only a fairly silly creature who was travelling with them and that he meant no harm. Finally the Weinisplats were encouraged to sit up again. Nangriffo and Grahoconno had come running with weapons raised when they had sensed trouble but this had only added to the confusion. Once they had realised what the problem was, they had returned to their posts neat the hovos.

Leezet, Catroons and the other Splats had glimpsed wild Purshos occasionally but never before at close range. Splats didn’t consider them dangerous more totally uninteresting and untrustworthy.

Before Leezbet could relax much, there was the Pursho once again perched on his shell grinning evilly. The green shelled Splat decided to pretend no to notice its presence this time, but still occasionally glanced upwards. The conversation resumed. The Splats soon agreed to take some of the visiting party to their sheltos. Initially only Maribo, Zarchia and Ambo would accompany them. The white pest was not invited. They would somehow have to dissuade it from following them. It was not to come any where near their dwellings. Those selected would have to leave at once and on foot. They were told their trek would take them quite some distance to Zettaward.

Maribo had a quiet word with the others especially the Soldats. How could they prevent a Pursho from doing what it wished? In the end, the nuisance was forcibly removed from Leezbet’s shell by Nangriffo. It didn’t appreciate the experience at all and promptly disappeared.. It was soon spotted sitting sulking in one of the hovos, the door of which was soon locked.

The going was quite rough although Zarchia didn’t find it nearly as bad as the time that she and Ambo had walked through the area know as the Zugkai Shards trying to find a way back to a settlo following their close encounters with Greeba-Greubas and a large, highly venomous serpent. Babblo and Maribo seemed to have no trouble with the walk being quite used to the countryside. The green shelled Splats bounded just ahead, their flanged shells looking so wing-like that Zarchia was fearful that yhey might become airborne. It was then she noticed that Maribo had one of the Soldat weapons concealed by her carryo and that she was keeping a constant watch orbwards. Babblo was keeping pace with the third-from-last Splat and was jibbering away contentedly. The other Splat was keeping quiet obviously understanding little of the highly different Splat speak.

Eventually they reached a thick grove of red trees, but once the outer area was breeched, there was little growth at all. Green shelled Splats seemed to be everywhere going about their normal business. They took little notice of the returning Splats and their visitors except for Babblo. Zarchia noticed that quite a few were openly staring at this pink-shelled outsider. They had all obviously settled quickly once the fright of the arrival of the hovos had settled.

The leader of the green-shelled Splats, Apussopello finally stopped his task, looked up and acknowledged Leezbet and Catroons. He looked extremely old and wizened. Outside of his shell area, he was almost completely covered in olive, green and black scales. The two Splats jibbered at him and pointed to the humos and Babblo. Zarchia noticed that a lot of the other Splats had stopped their tasks and were now listening. Their curiosity about Babble had made a considerable number now edge forward and the pink-shelled Splat was now almost completely surrounded. And she seemed enthralled to be the centre of attention of her new-found relations.

An almost complete circle had now been established with the humos, Babblo, Apussello, Leezbert, Catroons and several of the other Splats of the green-shelled variety. The youngers particularly noticed another ma-Splat, much smaller than the others who sat next to the leader. He had strange herbs clinging to the top and side flanges of his shell and also his forehead and chin scales. This seemed to be anchored with some gumlike substance.

Surprisingly the ma-Splats took little part in the discussions only interjecting occasionally. Catroons, Maribo and Babblo did most of the talking, communicating with the few common words and phrases and with other sounds and signs. Zarchia, once again, found that she could follow proceedings fairly well.

Looking around the treeless area, she took in the Splat sheltos for the first time. They were dis-similar to those of Babblos group in many ways. All were completely level with the ground. There were no traces at all of Splat work in even the lowest branches of the trees that encircled the camp. The shelters seemed to mainly composed of a brown herb with quite sharp looking pointed leaves. Newly harvest green herb seemed to be used to bind the other materials together. This colour scheme would be highly efficient as camouflage against any land or air enemies in particular featheros. I was obvious to Zarchia, so low were the structures, the only way to enter would be to roll in, most likely with their shells sealing the openings.

The conversation with the leaders of these Splats was very interesting, at least to Maribo. She had thought that these Splats would have had little contact with others of the humo species but this turned out not to be the case. They certainly wouldn’t go near to any of the Zettaward humo settlos ar sheltos outside the settlos because Splats absolutely cannot stand constant loud noise or bustle and the hovos and other equipment continually moving.

But they were in occasional contact with another group of humos here near the Colossal Sea of Blubbo. These humos lived on a large island not too far out in the pink sea. This island was known as Gossmo. From time to time the Splats would come down to the shore and await the arrival of the island humos in their strange sailing craft, the sails of which would only drive the craft during purple orbs which produced fine particles containing energy. If the yello orb was also in the sky, it neutralised these particles making the sails useless.

So it was no use for the Splats to visit the shores during a double orb. Or during dark periods when no orb patrolled the sky.

These humos spoke a language that was fairly close to that spoken by this group of Splats. They were apparently quite a bit taller than members of the visiting party but only had short, stumpy arms but these were quite stout. They also differed in that they had the majority of their face scales, not on their foreheads, but on their cheeks and chins. They had two leaders who appeared to the Splats to be of equal importance. Their names were Thompsoric and Krugok. The Splats mainly traded medicines and ointments made from herbs and carryos and coveros made from tree leaves, twigs and vines. For these the Island humos traded strange foods, and occasionally small pieces of the Gossmo material they used to make their sails. This material was also used in the construction of the islanders’ tree sheltos and also coveros and quite a few other important items. No Weinisplat had ever been allowed to visit this island and they didn’t have any idea how the Gossmo was made.

Maribo’s eyes glinted when she was shown a sample of this material known as Gossmo. Zarchia and Ambo had never seen anything like it before either. It reminded Zarchia somewhat of the inner walls of the pipo system far to Zettaward of their current position. But this material which was made from Blubbo highly refined was nowhere as fine and delicate nor not nearly as strong as this material.

So a deal was struck. The Blubbo Sea Splats would let one or two of their members go with Maribo’s party to try to make contact with the humos from the Gossmo island. In return the Splats could chose from provisions on the hovos. Apussopello had also been captivated by Zarchia’s foot coveros and insisted that they be included as part of the bargain.

“Diimmmiizing!” he pronounced. If they weren’t to be a part of the trade then there was no trade.

Leezbert and Catroons agreed to accompany the humos and Babblo but were adamant that they would not set foot in a hovo let alone travel in one. They would walk all the way as was their custom.

After they returned, the funny pink-shelled Slat would stay with them for some time to teach them her language and her customs, and pass on any specialised knowledge especially regarding herbs and construction of sheltos. And possibly a delegation would journey to Zettaward to meet up with her tribe and to trade.

Grahoconno had been almost tempted to follow Maribo’s group when it had departed. As Nicosimo, Nangriffo and Aandt on the other hand had taken a more philosophical stance, the fe-Soldat being reassured by the fact that Maribo had taken a Soldat weapon with her. The Pursho had become completely demented once it had realised it had been locked in the hovo. Flashing red mouth-scales and rolling eyes could bee seen through the hovo shield and angry snarls and even more frightening mouth-scale sounds could be heard from within.

It was a bit of a nuisance not being able to access this hovo. At least the Pursho would not go short of food or water. Camp was made as best they could. As Aandt’s leg was once again causing him trouble, he decided to rest in the available hovo. The Soldats decided to share guard duty and as the surrounds were fairly clear, it was thought that one at a time would be enough.

But the Pursho kicked up such a din that no one could sleep, so in the end, it was decided to giveit its freedom as Marbibo’s party had no been gone for some considerable time. Once freed, it disappeared almost instantly with an ominous flash of its red mouth-scales.

Luckily its noise and antics had prevented Aandt from sleeping as the side of his hovo almost disintegrated under the force exerted by some unseen creature. Because of the pain in his leg, he’d curled up into a ball just as the creature or as it turned out, creatures struck. Hearing his screams the Soldats quickly came to his aid. Nangrifo and Grahoconno fired their stun weapons at the creatures whilst Nicosimo went to the trapped younger’s aid. Aandt had managed to roll to the far ide of the hovo and he was soon free.

The Soldat stun weapons seemed to be having little effect other than to annoy the offending creatures. These left off their game with the hovo and sat in an almost straight line not far off. Grahoconno realised as soon as he’d gotten a good look at them that they were Lyoungos, quite dangerous creatures which featured often in the old tales of the Larward lands he’d been told often as a younger. They were rarely sighted in recent times but with the reopening of the lands around the Colossal Sea, he thought this situation would change quickly. This might just be an isolated group or part of a large colony.

Luckily there were no Splats present. Splats absolutely hate these creatures and although usually pretty docile, usually attack and injure or kill Lyoungos with the sharp points of their shells. Large featheros seem to like them even more than straying Weinisplats, so between the two, the numbers had probably been kept down.

Aandt, once he’d recovered from the shock enough, wasn’t impressed by the creatures’ actions. Maybe it was just the pain in his leg, but picking up a largish tree branch, he let out an almighty roar and charged at the line of creatures. Grahoconno followed suite. The Lyoungos broke formation immediately and fled toward the Colossal Sea of Blubbo. One tried to take a bite from Aandt’s branch as it fled and snapped it off just below his hand hold.

The creatures in full flight remained Aandt of large balls of Blubbo. One who had obviously injured itself trying to destroy the hovo, went considerably more slowly than the others. Not only that. Something white appeared to be clinging to the top portion of this particular Lyoungo. Of course it had to be the Pursho. He raced forward as quickly as his leg would carry him and managed to reach the creature and took a swing with the remnants of his tree branch. Somehow this managed to make contact and a white blur went flying. For a moment he thought that he’d accidentally hit the Pursho but Pursho was just leaving his host at the opportune time. Grahoconno caught up and fired his stun weapon at the now totally enraged Lyoungo. Pursho looked down on proceedings from his upside down position in a nearby red tree. Grumbling loudly but obviously not much affected by the stun charge, the creature regained its composure and shambled off. No one bothered to give chase. The creature had obviously been feeding very well as it was grotesquely fat. Close up it resembled a red and cream ball of scales. Even injured, when it moved with any speed, it almost bounced. In more normal circumstances, it would have appeared quite comical. But the impression it left on Aandt’s mind was ’Danger!’ and he just wanted it to be gone from his presence. Aandt and Grahoconno watched the fleeing nuisances. Aandt tried to call the Pursho down from the tree, but Purshos rarely obey calls. Aandt had to be supported back to the hovo by the Soldat. His leg had completely gone on him and the pain was enormous.

But for once the Pursho did as it was bidden and it was obviously displeased with itself for its act of stupid bravado. It clung tremblingly to Aandt’s non injured limb. It was obviously terrified of these newcomers. When they got back to the hovos, Nicosimo applied some of Babblo’s herb ointment to Aandt’s injured limb which helped to relieve the pain somewhat.

The cry went up just in time. The Splats all instantly rolled into the nearest shelto, sealing the openings very tightly with their conical shells. Zarchia saw the quickly advancing creatures at the same time as Maribo and Ambo. The two youngers had no idea whatsoever of what they were. The Splats were obviously terrified of these sudden arricvals. By the look on Maribo’s face, Maribo knew exactly what was upon them, and gathering the highly jibbering Babblo to her, she let for of powerful volley from her Soldat weapon.

Zarchia and Ambo both broke stour branches from the nearbyteees and joined MARIBO IN PROTECTING Babblo and trying to drive off the attackers. Encircling the screaming, jibbering WeinSplat, the carefully edged to an unoccupied green Splat shelto close to the encircling trees. Babblo immediacy rolled in to this sanctuary and did her best to close the opening with her shell which wasn’t quite the correct shape for a complete seal. Maribo and the youngers then climbed up into the branches over Bablo’s hiding place. Maribo obviously kne it but the youngers didn’t. This probably wasn’t all that helpful as Lyoungos can climb very well indeed.

The few who played with the Soldat hovo were obviously just an offshoot from this main group. These were obviously intent on having Weinisplat as the main course of their meal. Quite a few started to climb. Maribo’s weapon’s blast only managed to dislodge two of these awful creatures. Many climbed on. The remainder occupied themselves by trying to tear open the Splat sheltos and from the Splat screams they were obviously having some success.

The two hovos sped in through gaps in the encircling trees right into the centre clearing that housed the Weinisplat sheltos. The occupants stuck their heads through the windows and yelled at the top of their voices and generally made as much noise as was possible, carefully discharging their weapons to make a great fire show and hopefully infuse some fear into the attackers. With snorfling noises, the creatures one by one broke off their plundering and began to slowly back back to the trees. But not all were to be intimidated so easily. These held their ground growling and hissing and making quite disturbing patterns with their mouth scales and flashing eyes. The Soldats concentrated their fire power on this group. Zarchia, Ambo and Maribo finally thought was safe to climb down from their trees and to check how Babblo had managed during this onslaught. But the Splat was gone.

The fire power had finally achieved its goal. One Lyoungo was lying dead not far from Babblo’s shelto and another wounded creature was dragging itself towards the tree line. The Soldats used the hovos to drive the creatures from inside the tree circle and to set them flleuing to Larward towards the Colossal Sea. The hovo with Grahoconno and Aandt on board gave further chase to get the dreaded creatures as far as possible away from the Splats and also try to locate the whereabouts of the pink shelled Splat. whilts Nangriffo and Nicosimo returned to the Splat sheltos to check on the damage done by the attackers.

Catroons was found lying fairly badly mauled in the trees to which the main group of Lyoungos had initially fled. She was carefully but quickly ferried back to the camp where she was treated by the most experienced of the green Splats who had now emerged from their sheltos with a little help from Zarchia who was now quite used to the Splat ointments and medicines.

The hovos that had given chase to the fleeing invaders then returned. The first thing Zarchia noticed was a grinning Pursho with its mouth-scales gleaming red in the orb light. It was hanging upside down from the roof of the Soldat hovo.

Better still Babblo was seated in the hovo jibbering the loudest burst of Splat talk they had ever heard. She was obviously scared and very unhappy.

Those in the hovo had come across her quite some ways distant being unceremoniously carried at great speed stretched between four of the fleeing Lyoungos. When confronted by the hovo which was going at an even greater speed than they were, the prize meal was quickly dumped where she landed with a thud on her back in the grey and pink dust, her shell almost buried from the impact.

The loss of their load gave the fleeing group a chance to put on even more speed. Three managed to escape intact, but when the hovo stopped to retrieve their fallen friend, the humos on board weren’t all that surprised to see a blur of white feathers, scales and fur clinging like a limpet to the bounding form of the slowest of the Lyoungos.

Strange, savage noises were heard and much thrashing was being made by the fleeing creature trying to fling the obstruction from itself. Aandt feared that this would be the last they would see of their friend.

After helping the now stirring Babblo into the hovo, Grahoconno drove swiftly and skilfully after the disappearing form of the fleeing Lyoungo.

All of a sudden, as if by magic, the creature ahead disappeared. The Soldat stopped the hovo and its humo occupants got out and surveyed their surrounds. Not a creature of any type in sight in any direction. Grahoconno said something under his breath in his strange Larward language. Aandt couldn’t understand the words but got the general sentiment of the utterance. They then remounted the hovo and Grahocoono piloted it on a circular course looking for any remaining fragments of the Pursho. Babbly was whimpering and jibbering in pain. Aandt found some Soldat ointment and applied it to a many of her multiple cuts and scratches as he could. And all the time he kept one eye glued to the passing landscape.

It was decided, after some considerable time had passed and considerable ground had been covered, that they would have to abandon the search and return to the green-shelled WeinSplats’ sheltos. Babblo was in considerable pain and in dire need of some of the Splat herb medicine and ointment.

But during their final circle, Aandt suddenly felt something spring and cling to his good leg. Looking down he saw a quite dilapidated looking white Pursho with large hunks of fur, feathers and scales missing and several large, deep, nasty looking gashes. There were also horrible, festering bite marks on all six legs. It was obvious that he’d come very close to ending up in the fleeing Lyoungo’s stomach. Once again Aandt did his best with what was available. But the Pursho didn’t seem the least worried by his problems and grinned its evil mouth-scale grin at Aandt, Babblo, and Grahoconno. There seemed to be quite a lot of sticky green material on his red mouth-scales. Aandt wondered aloud what had happened to what remained of the Lyoungo. Pursho had definitely had the ride of its life and a very narrow escape from oblivion.

As they approached the circle of red trees surrounding the green-shelled WeinSplat camp, Aandt noticed that their top most branches were moving, fluctuating in a non-existent breeze. There didn’t seem to be any reason for such movement. He, at first, thought that some of the creature must have sought refuge there, and still lingered. But once the hovo had stopped and he had dismounted, he could detect nothing. Grahoconno said in a low voice filled with awe that it was Dhacoppo, but would say no more. Aandt felt himself involuntarily shiver as they headed through the tress into the confusion inside.

Fortunately, the Green-shelled Splats who were called among the Larward humos, Shivero, had some very powerful herbs, the strongest of which was made from a herb with a similar name to that of the tribe. Initially when collected, it was bright green, but as it was distilled, the fluid produced turned bright red. The plants themselves were so brittle that they almost fell to pieces at the slightest touch. The wounded had now all been treated and were in the process of being retreated. Most seemed to be making steady progress to recovery. Babblo was also treated and retired at once to the hovo. It wasn’t long before a white layer was seen attached to one of the flanges of her shell. Pursho was obviously adding its layer of protection to its friend.. Maribo sat in the driver’s seat with her Soldat weapon at the ready.. Aandt was stretched out in the other hovo resting his leg to which the shiveo had also been applied. Zarchia and Ambo were sharing a large Splat shelto near Aandt’s hovo. The three Soldats prowled restlessly giving the entire area a minute sweep for any lingering creatures or any other danger. The Shiveo Splats tried to resettle and resume their tasks but were obviously still very shaken. As special shelto, mainly made from the Gossmo material traded from the island hovos had been speedily constructed to house those Splats too badly injured to resume their tasks. Catoons was the most seriously injured and she was receiving extra treatment from the most skilled healers. With luck, she would make a full recovery.

Ambo and Aandt soon woke, and with Zarchia and Maribo went to check on the progress of the wounded. Nicosimo took the job of the guarding of the hovos. Aandt slept on, the Splat herbs obviously giving him considerable relief from his pain.

By this time the new purple orb had dawned. The Shiveros who were able had set to work trying to repair the damage done to their sheltos. The youngers all still felt tired. The Olders had been on alert during all this time and had gotten little rest. Grahoconno and Nangriffo had set up two observation points but both were sitting down trying to conserve energy although they still remained very alert.

After a discussion, it was decided that since things had settled somewhat, that the guard duty could be mainly left to the three youngers whilst the trio of Soldats and Marbio got some well deserved and much needed rest. Pursho, still on the mend, had decided itself that this was the best course of action. Babblo slept on still frequently jibbering in her sleep. After eating and cleansing as best they could, the Olders retired.

It was a very uneventful turn of guard duty for the youngers. Apart from frequent checks on the wounded, the rest of the time was spent either wandering around the site on patrols or discussing what had occurred.

It was midway through the next purple orb when the Olders started to surface

Soon, after eating and cleansing, the two hovos quickly head to Clupward. Ammbo and Nangriffo on one, Zarchia and Nicosimo on the other. Aandt, Grahoconno and Maribo had been left with the Splats to offer any need help and to protect against further problems. Those on the hovos would cover as much ground as possible to make sure the Lyoungos had left the vicinity. If any were found, they would try to drive them as far as possible to Clupward away from the Weinisplats’ home.

This chase would just about use up their spare energy packs, leaving them just enough to make it to the new settlo at the tip of the Colossal Sea of Blubbo.

Babblo and the Pursho very both improving in leaps and bounds and seemed to be enjoying each other’s company. Babblo was still of course very shaken. Her babbling had thankfully died back some what. The jibbering from the green-shelled Splats, even after so serious an attack, was a lot lower than they’d expected. Much repair was being carried out still but they were making considerable progress. A few sheltos had had to be completely dismantled and rebuilt. Many of the Splats now seemed to be engaged in quite mysterious, unspecified tasks. None of the humos except for Grahoconno had a clue what the tasks related to. The leaders had decided not to leave the tree circle that orb to gather food or herbs.

The two hovos returned soon after the purple orb had set. Luckily for all the time had passed without any major problems. Not a sign had been seen of the retreating Lyoungos by those in the hovos.. Pursho was up and about and in the trees but it takes considerable time to grow new fur and feathers and scales and with its bald patches, it looked quite comical. Babblo had recovered considerably and was now rushing about trying to converse with as many of her newly discovered relatives as possible in the time available. Catroons was on the way to recovery and had now managed to sit up and take a little food. Leezbet seemed to take to the humos the most of all of the Shiveros and had already proved very helpful. Maribo and Aandt in particular had managed to pick up quite a few slabs of the Splat language through his careful coaching and all had learnt a lot about the Green-shelled Splats’ behaviour patterns and customs.

The Soldats joined in the conversations with the Splats, took food, water, cleansed and rested a little. Thankfully the now visible yello orb was not yet at its full brilliance so sleep wasn’t too difficult. The danger from returning or lingering Lyoungos was still rated fairly high and the patrols had also noted a build up of large featheros not too distant from the circle of trees.

Ambo, Zarchia, Nicosimo and Nangriffo were allotted the first turn at guard duty; the others getting their first chance of visiting the land of dreams. Pursho and Babblo were already stretched out together, the whiteness blocking a large section of the Splat’s pink shell and the sound of its mouth scale rattling would have hopefully been enough to keep any predator at bay.

They left early into the next purple orb with a brown haze from the combined overhead lights casting a brown haze over everything.

As arranged, Catroons, who had really made a remarkable recovery, and Leezbet were ready to accompany the party. The fe-Splat insisting that she was well enough and definitely going to accompany the humos and their strange pink relative on their adventure.. At first they insisted that they would walk, but because of the ordeal they had endured and the continuing danger, Maribo and Babblo finally convinced them to travel in one of the hovos. The Soldats were amazed that they had agreed. They insisted that Zarchia, whom they’d taken a great liking to and Babblo and the Pursho must travel in their hovo.

The Shivero leader saw them on their way but they had to reassure Apussopello that they would definitely return his tribal members to them unharmed and promised to abide by their other agreements. The rest of the Splats seemed to be completely returned to their own existence and seemed to have totally lost interest in the strangers and their quest. As the hovos left, the Shiveros were filing out of the trees to begin their food and herb gathering tasks.

To Clupward and further to Clupward the two vehicles sped with the two new Splats peering cautiously out of the windows, not overjoyed to be on board and seeing the countryside flipping by at great speed. Cartoors still was a long way from being fully recovered but Leezbet and Babblo were both keeping a close, protective eye on her and assisting her, where needed. Pursho had brightened up considerably and Nangriffo was under joyed when it tried to wrest the controls of the hovo from her hands and do a bit of piloting itself.. The Soldat lost control almost completely for a moment and the hovo spun around in an almost complete circle before she righted it and it stalled facing in the direction from which they had come. Those in the other hovo had no idea at all what was happening. The three Splats jibbered so loudly those others on board that particular hovo thought their ears would burst, the green shelled duo jibbered in fear, Babblo in indignation. It soon became clear that the Splats were beginning to have a greater understanding of each others languages as Babblo, once she herself had settled, had managed to calm and reassure the others that it was just that stupid white creature up to its usual tricks.

Soldats have to have a good ear for different languages as they are quite often stationed in areas far from their original homes. Thus Nangriffo had been quietly picking uo quite a bit of Babblo’s speech patterns and had been listening carefully to that of the Shiveros.

The Soldat joined in the conversation between the Splats as well as she could and it became even more chaotic when the white pest tried to also join in with its snarls, hisses and grunts.

The members of the other hovo, once their pilot has stopped its forward motion and positioned it next to the other, joined in for a while but all were now impatient to resume their journey. From their new position, it was possible to see a bright pink glow coming from not too far away towards Larward. So onward they pressed. The trees started to thin rapidly and soon the vast expanse of Blubbo could be seen extending into the distance as far as the eye could see. No islands were yet visible and seen in its immensity from this point, it looked completely flat and formless. It seemed that the pinkness was all absorbing.

The pilots brought the hovos to rest at the very edge of the Blubbo and all just stared and drunk in the vision of so much pink. Zarchia’s first impulse was to run, dive in and wallo but quickly put the thought out of her head. Goodness knew what strange and unpleasant creatures lurked beneath its surface.

The by now quickly recovering Pursho, even though it was still pretty patchy looking, had no such qualms. It was out and had dived and sunk before anyone had noted its intention. Suddenly it burst from the surface, somehow managing to spring quite high into the air.

“Whoooeeee!!” is a basic translation of the strange noise they could hear bouncing around its mouth-scales. And its lifted spirits seemed to drain away some of the tiredness of its companions as well.. IT was still double orb. The island humos would not arrive whilst this situation still existed. So it was decided to camp pretty much where they were and to rest, something they were all badly in need of. All had a good lesson in both versions of Splat talk, even Ambo was at last managing to understand a reasonable amount and to be able to make himself understood in the strange languages.

A light guard had been posted. There were few trees nearby so the risk from large featheros was considered minimal and any prowling Lyoungos would be able to be seen and heard long before they arrived. Shelter had been established near the one solitary tree which was just far enough away to hopefully give enough warning if something did emerge fro the sea of pinkness.

But Zarchia could resist the temptation no longer and finally capitulated to here gnawing desire to wallo. The Pursho had not been devoured by any monstrous jaws from the depths so it was possibly safe to enter. She was soon joined by the still badly limping Aandt who thought the floatation might ease the pain in his leg and with a little persuasion, the three jabberingly excited Splats. And of course there was still the wickedly grinning, ever circling ball of white mischief. Zarchia and Aandt initially had many frights but all turned out to be just Pursho’s constant jet dives and Orbwards whooshes and they thought their lives had been cut short by having something white suddenly appear on a head or shoulder and to hear such strange alien sounds so close to their ears., It was enough to give anyone the heebeegeebies. Zarchia had also witnessed all three Splats leaping orbwards from the pinkness because of the antics of the silly white demon.

Ambo didn’t join them as he had little time for or got little enjoyment from walloing in Blubbo no matter how big the size. He was a very solitary type of humo usually and enjoyed walking by himself and staring at the scenery and vegetation. His eyes now scanned the vast pink expanse hoping to sight an island or any unusual activity, but his eyes could detect nothing much at all of interest.

Maribo decided to rest whilst she had the chance, Grahoconno stood guard of the hovos, Nangriffo of the walloers. Nicosimo did some small repairs and checks of the machines, and then he did a scout around along the shoreline in a Clupward direction just to make sure no danger was lurking in this direction.

After the two youngers, Pursho and the Splats had had their fill of the feel of the pinkness from which no monsters had appeared., all except the two ma-Soldats decided to go for an explore along the shoreline to Zoneward. Pursho had suddenly started to tire, not yet being fully recovered from its ordel and after a while, had trouble matching the pace of the humos and Splats. But it was still able to manage a few bits of mischief causing the others to almost jump out of their skins and scales or shells as the case may be. Catroons was almost back to her normal healthy state mainly due to the herb medicine and ointments. She said she thought that the Pursho was a naughty creature, but she was quite fond of it .

Pinkness, pinkness and yet more pinkness as far as the eye could see. After a while, it made the brain swirl and long for variety of colour. From time to time, all had to look to the green and yello of the herb growing not too far away, the brown of the soil and the red and purple of the scattered shrubs and trees to help their eyes adjust.

The wallo in the Blubbo had helped two of the youngers to wind down and relax. This was aided by the comic relief provided by the Pursho and the towering sight of three WiniSplats perched one on top of the other, the topmost being almost as pink as the Colossal Sea itself. This Blubbo contained very little oxygen so that when you dived below the surface, it was very difficult to breathe and this forced the diver to rise again quickly to the surface. This fact accounted for some, but definitely not all, of the Pursho’s antics.

Returning to the camp, the found Grahocoono had found a clean stream of fresh water nearby and also some very strange looking and oddly coloured roundos which they were assured were definitely not poisonous. When eaten, the flavour bursts proved to be something spectacular.

After cleansing, eating and drinking, there was much discussion of past events and plans for the future. Everyone was intrigued by the prospects of meeting humos from the Gossmo island. These were possibly of the same lineage of Grahoconno. Hopefully, with the presence of the two green-shelled Splats, contact might be able to be established.

Grahoconno, Nicosimo and Nangriffo mouth-scale rattled for a while; Grahoconno with rattlings from this Larward land of long ago, Nangriffo with uplifting tales of her ancestors and of the great sea of green H20 far, far to Zettaward.. Nicosimo mainly harmonised, and only rarely took the lead.

All released how fortunate they were to have come through the dangers they’d experienced largely unharmed and also to have accomplished their mission to make contact with the Shivero Splats. And now were looking forward to renewing contact with a race of humos who had been largely forgotten.. Only one guard was thought to be needed this being shared between the three Soldats and Maribo, giving the youngers a chance to rest and revive. Zarchia had deep dreams of the orange tunnels they had passed through on their adventure to locate Aandt’s brother, Yaart. Ambo dreamed of the strange Gossmo island and its peoples and imagined weird creatures. Aandt managed to sllep, his pain had diminished, but if he dreamt, he afterwards couldn’t remember where his mind had roamed. The Splats also slept peacefully and their sleep jibbering was soft and didn’t disturb the others. Pursho just wasn’t around during this sleep time.

On waking, everybody wanted to be off as soon as possible and once they had set off, a good speed was maintained. The time and the distance passed without incident. By the time the decided to rest again, the yello orb was in it’s final stage and was weak, and its now dominant sibling, the purple orb, was, at times, almost blinding as it reflected off the vast pinkness.

As soon as they were close enough, communication was established with the new humo settlo to Larward of the Grano Dryo. Nangriffo eventually manage to get through to Newtobero himself who had taken up his duties there. He arranged for two midhovos to be immediately despatched to check on the safety of the Weinisplat tribe and to try to find the troublesome tribe of Lyoungos and drive them as far away from the area as possible.

Contact was made with the two midhovos early on the next Orb. The youngers were pleased to see that one of the Soldat hovos was piloted by their old friend Blamaro who had been placed in charge of this operation. She was Newtobero’s second in command for the region. Many friendly greetings were exchanged involving much mouth-scale shaking. The Soldat was especially intered in the green-shelled Splats and the news concerning the humos from the Gossmo island.

It was decided that Nangriffo would join the patrol that was to check on the Weinisplats and Lyoungos as someone was needed to pinpoint the location of the Shiveros and to introduce the new arrivals so as not to cause too great a panic.

The rest of the party bid goodbye to the fe-Soldat and both groups departed for their respective destinations, the hovos raising little dust in the still air.

The new settlo which was now known as Willosid was a lot larger than Zarchia had expected but still consisted mainly of temporary structures. A few permanent shelto under construction, could be glimpsed amidst the flurry of activity. Humos were busily at work in every direction and there was a considerable amount of hovo traffic coming and going.

As soon as they started to get close to the settlo, Leezbet at Catroons utterly paniced. Coming to a humo settlo had not been in the stated plans. They were just to accompany their new friends to neet the Gossmo island humos. They definitely wouldn’t have come if they knew it would involve something as terrifying as this. And this all set Babblo off to wailing in a high jibber. It had reawakened her own fear of humo dwellings and noise and mayhem.

Maribo had been trying for the last segment of the journey to prepare them for the shock but it obviously hadn’t worked.

The hovos had to stop on the outskirts of the settlo, the noise and general uneasiness being too great. Everyone did their best to try to calm and reassure the trio and eventually with the Pursho’s help, had some success. Ambo had a vision of Babblo walking off again as she’d done during their visit to Grillo Maino, but this time taking her two new friends with her. He thought she’d probably try to make it back to the Shivero settlo.

The Soldats were in communication with the base in the settlo and it was quickly arranged for them to stay in a shelto right on the edge of Willosid. This way the Splats would not have to venture into the settlo itself and thus avoid most of the noise, traffic and general activity associated with the massive construction job.

Until accommodation could be arranged, they would remain where they were in the hovos. Maribo , Aandt and most likely the Pursho would remain with them whilst the Soldats went to their station to check in and to receive further orders, the two youngers had arranged to meet Zarchia’s fe-Older who had arrived at the settlo the purple orb before this. Zarchia knew that she must still be working on her top secret project connected with the Blubbo Sea and the new pipo that was being constructed to connect the Grano Dryo with the main settlos to Zettaward.

Ambo suddenly noticed that the helpful noises from the Pursho which had helped to sooth the Splats had ceased. He searched both hovos and the nearby countryside but he could not locate it. It had obviously decided it was not going to remain with the Splats and the hovos.

It was decided to take the hovo which had not been carrying the Splats into the settlo. Their was still no sign of the mysterious white scale, feathered and furred creature by the time they had departed.

They were to see Grahoprendo, the Topo in charge of the whole Blubbo Sea project. He was seated in his office when they entered. The first thing Zarchia noticed was that he had an evilly grinning white lump glued to his right sholuder. He was taking absolutely no notice of it. How it had anticipated their movements and got there before them, one one had the slightest clue. It, or one of its kind, was obviously well known to the Topo. He was busily examining and signing forms being presented to him by two of his Midos. He looked up from his task, greeted the youngers and, after introducing himself and the other two, dismissed his Midos The Soldats had left them in the waiting room of the head office and had departed to check in at the Soldat station. A younger Soldat named Colobuco had been sent to help Maribo with the Splats. Like Grahoconno, he was from this Larward region, and had some knowledge of the shelled humos.

The conversation hadn’t been under way for very long when they were joined by Floro, who mouth-scaled with Zarchia and Ambo about their journey and their adventures with the Shiveros. She was intrigued by their information regarding the Gossmo island as was Grahoprendo.

Now that he’d finished with his paperwork, he joined more fully in the conversation. He assured them that his people would be very respectful of the Splats and their customs, and would do their best to ensure their safety. Splats usually don’t rate highly in the thoughts of Topos, but these obviously had very useful information and skills. He was interested in their medicines and ointments as a number of his workers and Soldats had been afflicted by strange ailments and colourful but very painful sores mainly on the hands and feet.

The Soldats who had gone to the Shiveros camp had taken building materials to build a number of strong structures for the Shiveros to use in time of danger. In future, delegations from the humo settlo would either go to the Splat settlo or need on neutral ground as desired by the Splats. They certainly wouldn’t have to journey to the humo settlo unless they wished to trade or had some other requirements.

And then all the talk turned to the topic that Grahoprendo and Floro were most interested. That of the strange humos who inhabited the Gossmo isle. Small pieces of the Gossmo material were known to the two Olders. It was hoped that trade could be established as this material would be a great help in the construction of Willosid. Had the youngers been able to glean from the Splats how many of these humos there were? Did the occupy other islands further out in the Blubbo Sea as well. Just because they were friendly with the Splats did not mean they would be friendly with the humos and wish to establish contact. And on and on. The questions were put in a firm but friendly manner. The two youngers had no idea at all to the answers to most of their questions. Possibly more could be gleaned from Leezbet and Catroons on their return to the other hovo.

Eventually Grahoprendo and Floro seemed satisfied with their information and the conversation once more returned to more personal things. One of the midos re-entered and seated himself at his desk. Not long after, the conversation was interrupted by a loud yell. Something was on his desk and was eating the food he’d brought with him for his meal. Angrily he lashed out at it but, in parting, the Pursho made a horrible mess of his papers most of which ended up scattered on the floor.

The mido had no idea was this white blur had been. Obviously it had been hungry and was definitely a nuisance.. Ambo suddenly felt something grip his left leg. It seemed considerably heavier than before.

It had become obvious during the conversation that Grahoprendo and Floro did have some information on the Gossmo humos. The knowledge of their existence had become obvious but this knowledge was obviously top secret and so the youngers left the meeting without having anything added to their knowledge. Maybe the Olders knowledge was only based on rumour. Their eagerness to take part in the experiment with the two Shiveros meant that no contact had yet been established with the Gossmo island humos.

Grahoconno, Nicosimo and Colobucho were officially assigned to assist with and to protect the contact party.

Zarchia and Ambo had begun to feel the tiredness creeping through all their tissues and bones but were still overjoyed when it was arranged for the Soldats to escort them back to the hovo containing the three Splats. Floro said she hoped that if time permitted, she, herself, might be able to play some small part in the expedition. If not, then she would definitely be included in any formal discussions that arose once contact had been established.

The Splats had settled remarkably quickly once they’d been assured that they would not have to venture into the humo settlo and that the stay on the outskirts would be brief. No one was surprised at all to find that the Pursho had beaten them back and was already mouth-scale rattling on Maribo’s shoulders.

Zarchia and Ambo were by now so tired that as soon as was possible, they joined {Pursho in a world of endless dreams which were mainly peopled by tall slender Gossmo humos who towered orbwards and of strange creatures slithering from the endless pinkness.

They were awoken towards the purple Orb’s end by the arrival of a hovo which Grahoprendo had sent with special foods for the Splats and materials from which they could make new coveros. make coveros. Zarchia and Ambo as they wiped the scale dust from their eyes were find that a foodo had been put in charge of this expedition and that it was non other than Johboyo, their friend from the Grillo. His large black and white forehead scales were as prominent as ever and his sense of joyous humour had the whole party soon joining in his merriment. Even the Pursho managed a few mouth grins and strange gurgles.

It didn’t take the foodo long to prepare a special treat. The Splats ate heartily and joyfully and there was even plenty for the humos to joi in. Of course the Pursho ate much more than its fair share. After that the mouth scale rattling was up. Grahoconno and Johboyo just about raised the roof of the hovo. They were soon joined by Colobucho who performed a very funny story rattle that made them all laugh loudly. Proceedings were further enlivened with the arrival of Nicosimo. He produced, from his covero, the instrument that he’d introduced the Youngers to on their previous Zettaward journey. The melody lifted and soared. Johboyo found some empty containers outside the hovo and joined in beating beautiful tonal patterns which, for the listeners, evoked all colours seen under a full orb. Zarchia couldn’t help but join in after a while and felt the eyes of the others on her. She wasn’t a natural mouth-scale rattler but in this instance she didn’t care. The arrival of Floro went largely unnoticed for some time so great was the enveloping joy. The three Slats had become so caught up in the pleasure that they did a dance clapping their hands in the air above their heads and banging their shells together.

Whilst everyone else had been thus engaged, Pursho had made a complete guts of itself and scoffed the remainder of the food. It was now so bloated that it could hardly move at all.

“must have been eating Blubbo!”Ambo exclaimed.

They were quite exhausted after their long session of mouth scale rattling and rested again. There was really no need for a guard on the outskirts of Willosid but Nicosimo volunteered anyway. Better to be safe than sorry. After a good long discussion including the three Splats, Floro had returned to the main part of the settlo accompanied by Johboyo saying they would return during the next purple orb and to also expect a visit from their old friend and Topo Soldat for the region Newtobero.

As promised Floro returned early in the new Orb not only accompanied by Newtobero but also Grahoprendo. The chat with the Splats was arranged very informally with Maribo, Newtobero, Aandt and Zarchia helping to translate and to smooth over any difficulties that arose. Maribo, as had been expected, had picked up the Shiveo Slat talk very quickly and was now quite fluent in its intricacies. Zarchia and Ambo were both surprised how fluent their friend, Aandt had become in so short a time. Zarchia herself, could understand most of the talk now and was quite useful, with translation.

After much discussion, their plans were quickly settled. As much information as possible had been gleaned from the Shivero Splats regarding their trading partners from out in the Colossal Sea of Blubbo and of their Gossmo island and the Gossmo material itself. Floro would be excused from her very important highly classified work on the secret projects and would accompany the expedition.

Newtobero had also decided that he must go as well as contact with the Gossmo Island humos could possibly present a security problem for Willosid and all the other settlos and sheltos in the Colossal Sea area as no one knew how friendly these humos would be or how any weapons they possessed might compare to those of the Soldats’.

They were going to try the method of contact used by the Shiveros, two of whom were included in this party. It was assumed that the Pursho, as usual, would tag along for as long as it chose.

Grahoprendo wasn’t pleased that he couldn’t accompany them but he had more immediate pressing problems with the construction of Willosid and of the connecting Pipo. No one knew how long the expedition would be away and he just couldn’t be absent for any great period of time.

He didn’t want to send any more personnel or hovo in case this alarmed the Gossomos. It was best to keep first contact low key. Nothing the Shivero Splats had said had led him to believe the Gossmos would be outwardly hostile. Their contact group, by all accounts, in the past, had been reasonably small. The party would depart in two purple orbs. In the meantime, Grahoprendo said they were to explore as much of Willosid and its surrounds as they chose during this time. More special food would be ferried in by Johboyo for the Splats to keep them happy. No need for special food for the Pursho. All food seemed to be special to it.

The new settlo had been build some considerable distance from the Sea, obviously for security reasons. Nothing sinister had yet emerged from its depths but who knew what surprises the future might hold. If something did, then the humos in the settlo needed as much time to prepare as was possible.

Despite this possible danger, eight sheltos, most of very peculiar shapes, had been constructed right on the very edge of the Blubbo. When Zarchia, Ambo and Aandt had approached on their first tour of the settlo, they had been turned away by a trio of Soldats led by an unpleasant fellow who had introduced himself in a very self important manner as Tonjarro. He was the most unpleasant humo they had encountered in aeons. He reminded Zarchia a lot of Seebro, an equally unpleasant Soldat they had met on their journey to locate Aandt’s brother, Yaart. This fellow was also very pompous and officious beyond his need and even assurances that they hat Newtobero and Grahoprendo’s asurances had no effect. Obviously this was where the top secret work was being carried out.

Anyway, the youngers quickly lost interest and headed Zettaward through the settlo. The pipo that was being built from her back to the Grano Dryo seemed to progressing well. It could be viewed stretching quite away into the distance past the outlying sheltos. The pipo were about the same size as those which connected Zarbal to the control pumping section at PiopC. These were currently being replaced by a much larger variety and the youngers feared that with all the activity the the discovery of the Colossal Sea of Blubbo would bring, that their rather small and peaceful settlo would soon explode and that their would be humos and hovos zoning constantly in every direction. They were almost positive that their tranquillity would be lost forever.

The Pursho had been sighted occasionally but had not become a nuisance. Obviously it had other business afoot which was much more pressing than a bit of mischief.

For some reason possibly to do with Newtobero’s work, the party didn’t leave Willosid until two purple orbs later than they’d planned.. Green water had also been pouring continuously from the sky, so an earlier departure would have been made more difficult and unpleasant anyway..

It had become so heavy that virtually all work in the settlo had ground to a halt. On top of this very strange small creatures had emerged from holes on the Blubbo foreshore but fortunately none that had thus far been discovered posed any danger to humos, Weinisplats or even Purshos. It had taken quite an interest in them and everyone was relieved that when the hovos finally departed, it was seated in pride of place in the lead vehicle.

After a fond farewell, Grahoprendo had sent them on their way. Their spirits were still high and there was much optimism regarding their mission. And on top of this, the hovos whirling through the still flowing green liquid was quite exhilarating and there were even quite big slashes as they forded the deeper of these. Sometimes on the very large ones, the force of impact with the water almost brought the hovos to a stand still. Pursho was now perched on Newtobero’s shoulders, from time to time, let out shrill and quite fritful noises of joy, that those in the confined space of this hovo with it, wished it had chosen the following hovo. An additional hovo had been assigned to the expedition. Maribo piloted the lead vehicle, which as well as Newtoberro and the dratted Pursho contained the Splats and Zarchia. The hovo occupied by the three Soldats almost kept pace with them, whilst the third, smaller hovo was piloted by Floro and with Ambo and Aandt as passengers brought up the rear.

Zarchia soon learned that Splat talk was a lot easier to tolerate if you could understand some of it and could join in from time to time. The three Splats jibbered continuously and Maribo was almost as bad. Maribo was also something of a pilot, when the mood struck her and every time the hovo hit a large stretch of water, the screams of the WeniSplats reached almost as high as the stream of green and they banged the pointy tops of their shells together in sheer joy. Zarchia had no doubts that the Shiveros’ initial fear of the machines had long since vanished.

The meeting place was a lot further to Clupward than the youngers had expected. The green liquid had been left in their wake and the hovos were now raising swirls of grey dust. Pursho was finally fully activated was doing quite stupid things out of the opening in the top of the hovo, quite often perched on a Weinisplat shell or three and sometimes on Zarchia or even Maribo’s head. Luckily she was a skilful pilot or the silly furred creature could cave caused an accident. It then took to doing upside downs from the roof of the vehicle which was now travelling quite rapidly and rows of flashing red mouth-scales would suddenly flash in front of the unsuspecting hum or Splat’s eyes.

Eventually the Shiveros started to jibber more seriously and to point ahead to a spot on the edge of the pink shore. The trio of hovos drew to a halt and formed an almost perfect circle. Everyone dismounted and stared Blubbowards. The stared and stared and then stared some more as if expecting to see the Gossmo humos zoning towards them through the mass of pink on a beautiful vessel with taut Gossmo sails gleaming in the light from the purple orb. But there was absolutely nothing. Ambo, on squinting as hard as he could, declared that he thought he cold detect, right out on the Zonward horizon, a speck of bluish colour which he said he thought might possibly be the top point of an island. All of the others gazed again for aeons but none could make out the feature that Ambo thought he could see. Noting at all in an endless Sea of pink. Either Ambo’s eyes weren’t as obscured by scales as theirs were or the younger had a fertile imagination. A shelto was established, a guard was set for who knew what danger might be lurking, food and water was consumed. The party cleansed themselves as best they could. No great rivers or pools of fresh green liquid here and a conference was held to discuss their future course of action. Pursho had once again vanished. His input anyway would have only amounted to something mischievous so it wasn’t really missed.

Floro let an important piece of information slip which she hadn’t really meant to share at this point in time. The others were then sworn to secrecy. Several mid and large hovos had been transported all the way from the huge green sea of water far far to Zettaward of the Grillo and had been modified in the top secret area in the Grano Dryo. They had then been moved to Wilosid and final modifications were being made in the strange sheltos by the Blubbo shoreline in Willosid. It was these from which the youngers had been barred during their off time in the settlo. Floro believed that these vessels would be capable of ploughing through the dense pink Blubbo at least as far as the nearest islands. The modified liquid going hovos had only arrived two purple orbs before the expedition had arrived. They were still being unpacked and modified further. But it was hoped that trials would soon begin on the Blubbo Sea to determine their effectiveness.

Afterwards all walked backwards and forwards along the Blubbo edge once again gazing as far as their eyesight would reach over the Sea od pinkness. The Soldats also kept a good watch orbwards for any passing featheros although, as the trees and brush was scarce, only a few small ones had been spotted in the vicinity. The brush here was only small but some of the trees were surprisingly tall.

Just after the purple orb had set and they were camped in two fairly large sheltos by three tall purple trees, the green liquid seemed to have followed them from Willosid, and began to pour down, and then pounded so hard, that the two guards had to seek shelter, one in a shelto and the other in a hovo. Pursho worried the youngers by continuously going out into the downpour and reappearing soaking wet, the water running in to everything in reach. Eventually the Olders expressed their displeasure and surprisingly it stoped. As it had been out swimming in the swiftly flowing currents, a considerable amount of twigs and leaf material was matted in its fur, feathers and scales. It tried to cleanse itself but made little progress so eventually it allowed Babblo and Zarchia to assist. It was the first time the younger had touched the Pursho. It felt wet and quite cold. In no time at all it was back, hanging from a support just inside the shelto opening, once again flashing its red mouth-scales at anyone in the vicinity.

The downpour continued for four more purple orbs. Everyone was bored out of their wits. Even though Pursho behaved itself in one way by not venturing out into the downpour, everyone was sick of the sight of it by the time the green deluge ceased. Pursho made a flitting run for the hovos but the humos and sSlats couldn’t emerge for some time because of the myriad of swiftly flowing streams. Pursho looked quite a sight now. It’s fur and feathers had pretty much been dyed green from its exposure to the liquid.

Ambo’s eyes were more true than those of the others. And he was definitely the first to spot them. Before the party had been able to emerge from their sheltos, they had had to endure one final short, sharp downpour which had caught them totally by surprise. They had just started to emerge when this had occurred and they had been forced to flee back under cover. But while the other’s eyes were still adjusting to the purple haze shimmering from the green water and the pink Blubbo, Ambo’s had quickly focused on an object out in the Blubbo and his shout of surprised helped the others to also focus on a craft gliding across the pinkness towards them. As the focus became more deep, it was realised that it was not just one craft but five. They were gliding very quickly and silently although the air was almost completely still. Their Gossmo sails were powered but the unseen force of which they had heard. Three humo forms could been seen towards the front of the lead craft. The commanding voice of the figure at the front rang with authority and the humos, Weinisplats on the shore could only hope the Island humos had come in peace. Pursho was nowhere to be seen.

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