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Dreams, Schemes And Spiny Machines
Book Three Of The Quillogy
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-200-1
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Science Fiction
eBook Length: 243 Pages
Published: September 2014

From inside the flap

The hedgehog world is collapsing under its own pollution and the crew of the Duweena’s Courage, years older and believing their old enemies have been destroyed, find themselves sent to a nearby world, Yurle Minor, to find out what happened to the explorers who preceded them When they arrive, they are attacked by a vicious hedgehog cult, their leader the infamous Walpole, the demon hedgehog of Yurle, and the creations of his pet mad scientist: robots, zombies, and giant machines whose sole purpose is to make the tyrannical hedgehog master of the Universe.

But the natives are resisting, and even Walpole learns that being immortal does not protect one from others who would be gods as well. Jonathan Quintain and his faithful companions are tested to their limits: not all will return alive. This is the concluding story in the wonderful and strange Quillogy series.

Dreams, Schemes And Spiny Machines (Excerpt)

The mobile fertilizing utility vehicle was clearly a design made for hedgehogs of the smaller variety, not humans. A stocky fellow sat inside the compact chariot, knees sticking up near his chin. He was mostly bald with just a small tuft of stubborn orange hair poking up a few inches above his bushy eyebrows. He steered the solar-powered cart through the network of gardens. The vehicle paused, a small rotary blade attachment digging a shallow hole in the black soil and depositing a delicate sapling. It continued on, rolling slowly through the green garden-all that remained of the once flourishing forests and jungles of Yurle Prime.

Odd Bob, known simply as just Bob to his good friends, had taken the off-world job gladly as it sounded like a welcome change from building large structures out of stone. Plus there was the added perk of being able to breathe fresh air; albeit, air artificially generated within a controlled environment inside of a refurbished super cruiser. Besides, no one really needed specialists to construct indomitable castles or walls fortified to withstand an assault by catapult or an angry giant with a bone to pick. Refusing to become obsolete, Bob enrolled forthwith in a training program through the Yurle Prime School of Sun Dome Technologies and Plant Care.

The brown patch on Bob's forest green uniform identified him as Senior Environmental Controls Officer. He liked being in charge after so many years of taking other people's orders. But, despite his newfound status, he'd promised himself that he would never treat his own workers as Baron Glauwer had once treated him.

His employees-fifty of the most dedicated and environmentally conscious hedgies anyone could ask for-were the true backbone of Real Plants in Space Enterprises. Many of these were aboriginal hedgehogs, and they had lived in the forests and jungles, witnessed their destruction firsthand, and brought an unequalled enthusiasm to the job of preserving what remained for generations to come.

The buggy Bob rode in whispered up to an elderly hedgehog. This fellow, also a recent graduate of the training program, regulated the water supply inside the complex. He adjusted a valve, which, in turn, pumped out a precise mixture of water and fertilizing agents through a series of hoses onto a bed of plants bearing beautiful and delicious-looking red and purple fruits.

Odd Bob stepped out of his vehicle and stretched.

"Those fruit look very healthy," Bob observed, licking his lips.

Harlix, former cemetery sexton, freedom fighter, and now senior plant manager, picked one of the fruits off and handed it to Bob. "Have one," he offered. "They're proven to delay senility, fight tooth decay, and they're only nineteen calories per serving."

Bob bit into the fruit hungrily. Juice rolled down and off his chin as he surveyed the interior of the impressive cruiser. The ship was, in fact, a retired member of the Galactic University Defense and Research fleet that had been donated as a floating greenhouse. To Bob, the cruiser looked more like a satellite with its modifications. Although its guns had been removed in order to accommodate the installation of eight greenhouse domes, the ship was still equipped with two powerful engines capable of attaining near light speed for short intervals, as well as, a basic hyper-jump generator. Eight transparent reinforced corridors radiated out from the cruiser like the legs of a spider. Each corridor ended in a domed chamber of its own-burgeoning vegetation centers with independent maintenance modules and life support.. Bob could not imagine a situation in which the eight smaller vessels would need to separate from the mother ship. Still, if such an emergency materialized, it was comforting to know that the eight mini-stations would be self-sufficient for several months.

Bob swallowed the rest of the fruit and planted the woody pit inside the black soil.

Harlix nodded and smiled. "Thank you, sir, for recycling."

"Harlix, call me Bob," Odd Bob said, squeezing the aged hedgehog's shoulder warmly. "As far as I'm concerned, you do not work for me. We work together for one cause." He smiled fondly at the hedgie. "I'm Bob. That's an order."

Harlix saluted. "Yes, Bob!"

Bob chuckled and climbed back inside the mobile fertilizing utility vehicle. The buggy weaved onward, waddling up an adjacent corridor beneath a canopy of stars and into the artificial glow of Sun Dome Three.

Only Bob, Harlix, and a few other highly trained workers had clearance to enter this particular dome. The reason was pretty obvious: It housed several aggressive plants of the voracia carnivora family. The massive stalks of these towering plants were thick and thorny, almost tree-like. The heads were shaped like large melons with razor sharp teeth in mouths four to five feet in length--easily large enough to accommodate a young herding beast in a single gulp.

The pulpy purple head of one of the carnivorous plants poked over a wall of the transparent steel-glass enclosure. Its enormous maw opened and closed and it cocked its head to one side, curious. To the untrained eye, the plant really looked docile, almost friendly. But Bob knew better.

He got down from the vehicle and tripped the activator to begin the teleportation sequence. In mere seconds, a pair of moon cow calves materialized on the transporter. Bob pressed another button and the platform on which the two beefy animals stood lifted, coming to a stop just below the top of the wall.

The head of the carnivorous plant snapped up both animals, the quickness of its movement almost impossible to follow, and disappeared behind the wall. A moment later, another head appeared, waiting its turn, impatient.

Bob entered the code that would teleport another pair of the creatures from the well-stocked Dinhari Moon Cow Farm Number Nine on Yurle Prime. He repeated the process eight more times until all of the plants within the enclosure had received their recommended daily allowance of meat.

He wasn't sure if it was possible to overfeed this particular species, but not giving them enough to eat could be very dangerous. He closed his eyes, trying not to think about the terrible accident that had occurred less than a year ago when an undertrained employee had entered the restricted area to retrieve a loose glass and fallen inside the enclosure. It had been Harlix who had discovered the platform, bloodied and still in the raised position.

Bob shut down and lowered the teleporter platform and hopped back on the little buggy tractor and shifted it into gear. He continued on his way through the giant greenhouse to finish his daily rounds.