Stardate 2213. Kaloula and Pipa have just gotten off engineering watch. "We've got four hours," noted Kaloula, what are you up for?" "I could crush you again at mush ball," responded Pipa. "I don't think that the words 'crush' and 'again' belong in that sentence." Kaloula smiled dryly. "Let's do a program on the holodeck. My treat for the credits. You pick out the program," said Pipa. A few minutes later, both were scanning the list of available recreational programs outside the holodeck entrance. "Here's one," pointed out Kaloula, "It's called Sekans." "Read the back." "The label says, Looking for excitement? Then take a hike in the jungle and win extra holodeck credits if you complete the course in under three hours," read Kaloula out loud. "Hey, between the two of us, we should be able to win some credits. Let's go for it," responded Pipa.
A few minutes later, Pipa and Kaloula were eye balling a broad, sluggishly flowing muddy river. On the opposite shore was a mass of jungle, but pretty much directly across the brown expanse, a small break in the green wall was visible. "Looks like the path takes us over the river," suggested Pipa. "Let's hope that the water is warm." The water was indeed almost body temperature warm. "No problem as long as you don't drink it," joked Kaloula. About half way across, Pipa noticed two huge logs blocking their path. "There's something odd about those logs," he noted. "That's because they are not logs. Look closer," suggested Kaloula. Suddenly, one of the logs sprouted four legs, big teeth, and turned to glare at them. "Crocodiles!" croaked Pipa. Both amphibians dove deep, using the poor underwater visibility as a means to get under and behind the crocodiles. No dummies, the croc's split up, with one guarding the route ahead, and the other responsible for pursuit and herding. Fortunately, the croc's were big and the amphibians small, fast and maneuverable, and it was not long before Kaloula and Pipa were walking on the trail leaving the river behind. "They say that size matters," commented Pipa, smiling, "but not that time." The path was a cross between a swamp and a jungle. Oddly, every so often the ground would seem to rumble, and visibly shake, making the vines crossing the path sway back and forth. Pipa whacked at the vines with his walking stick. "That's different, one of the vines has an interesting repeating pattern," he noted. "Try not to disturb anything," warned Kaloula, "and look, your vine is moving." ""It's a snake! Run!" Both amphibians hopped for all they were worth, splashing muddy water and trampling leaves and fronds. The snake quickly lost interest, and once again they were alone. "Phew, what is that smell?" asked Kaloula. "It's seems to be coming from that oozing mud along the side of the path," observed Pipa. Indeed, the path was now higher and dryer, elevated about four feet above a green-black swirl of mud, which occasionally emitted horrid vapors. Pipa kept up a running conversation. "Could be worse, at least this place has mosquitoes. Chewy and tasty. Looks like were coming to a break." Both amphibians could now see about 100 yards ahead, where the jungle gave way to the edge of a cliff. Centered in the cliff was the entrance of a dark cave. Suddenly, from out of the cave, flew a massive black swarm. "What the . . ." spoke Kaloula. As the swarm approached, one tiny black winged creature landed on Pipa's arm. "Yeeouch! that thing bites," exclaimed Pipa, swatting at the animal. "Vampire bats!" shouted Kaloula, "Get off the path, head for the mud." With only seconds to spare before being enveloped by the swarm, both amphibians submerged themselves in the stinking mud. "Lay still," whispered Kaloula unnecessarily, "maybe they will pass." "Something better happen soon," gagged Pipa. The swarm circled the spot where the two amphibians had disappeared, blasting the air with high pitched sonar scans. Finding nothing, just as quickly as it arrived, it disappeared. Both Amphibians climbed out of the mud. "I don't know if we look worse, or smell worse," Kaloula growled. "What? I can't hear you," said Pipa. "My tympani are still vibrating from all that squeeking." Their complaints to each other were interrupted by a repeat of the shaking earth and a rumbling, followed by the noise of something from above crashing through the trees and landing about 15 yards ahead, coming to rest partially on the path and partially in the mud. "What was that?" Pipa found himself asking. Both amphibians cautiously walked up to the the black object. It was nearly spherical, and smoked and hissed where it contacted the mud. With a start, Kaloula recognized it for what it was, "Pumice." "Pumice?" questioned Pipa. "Volcanic rock," answered Kaloula. "One must be one very close. Indeed, the next turn on the path revealed that they were at the edge of the jungle. Here, the air was noticably hot, smelled a new kind of terrible, and ahead lay only smoking stumps and the narrow path leading up a small hill. Thirty yards to the right, a stream of glowing yellow molten rock and metal carved a river-like path downhill. "Up and at em," Kaloula announced bravely. "Next time you pay the credits," added Pipa. The top of the hill revealed a spectacular view of a crater filled with bubbling liquid, and a signpost with a red button marked "exit". Sweating profusely, Kaloula pushed the button, and immediately a door opened to the corridor next to the holodeck, and they were out. Still covered with partially caked mud, both trooped to the entrance to return the program. As Kaloula placed it in its slot, a panel lit up. "You have placed in the top 10 for the time to complete this program," he read. "Please type in your name." "Carefully he filled in KALOULA and PIPA. "What place did we get," asked Pipa. "Fifth." "Who's in first?" "From what I can tell, Chief Otophryne completed the course an hour faster that we did," noted Kaloula. Pipa had only one last comment, "That's one record he can keep."
< Message edited by oi -- 7/20/2008 1:46:49 AM >