Excerpt for The Restwell Boys by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Travis Barr

© 2017 by Travis Barr

The story you are about to read is true.

I mean, it could be.

I mean, it does happen in another galaxy unknown to ours, so it could be absolute fact that was transmitted to my mind through some sort of unknown technology.

You don’t know.

Also, many of the names of the characters, places, and things in this story have been changed.

For no reason at all.

Chapter 1

And so here they were, four boys of different alien origin from four different worlds who were striking out on their own, making a name for themselves.

That was the plan anyway.

Theoretically, they possessed the tools necessary for the job. There was “The Vaccuumater,” a lengthy device that could suck up a pesky critter and trap it for future storage. Then there was “The Shockinater,” another long tool typically used to zap critters—and drive them into the path of the aforementioned Vaccuumater. In addition, their arsenal included “The Webinater,” a gun to catapult web nets at critters, “The Fuminater,” a gun that gasses critters too quick or small to be trapped, and “Traunt Detectors,” infrared scanner devices to ferret out traunt critters.

And there was their most important weapon of all—the boys themselves. Or so it would seem at any rate.

The unofficial leader of this business venture was a young man by the name of Cordann Blu, hailing from the planet Dooshlodia. Cordann’s immediate family consisted of a mother and father, two younger twin brothers, and a younger sister. The mother, Betley, was an aloof sort who spent most of her time pruning and pining over her plant garden. The father, Caradeen, was just a plain pretentious jerk who came from money and was clearly obsessed with his reputation…and fried pork. Morski and Korski were clearly chips off the old sociopathic block, as they repeatedly displayed their propensity for opportunistic connivance. In stark contrast, however, was Cordann’s younger sister, Lania—a somewhat insecure wallflower who was rather ignored by the rest of the family. Except for Cordann, who always encouraged Lania to find a life direction and pursue it head on.

But enough about Cordann the Dooshlodian, the next boy of our attention is Neffelefekus, an Enzymian from the planet Andor who was naturally sensitive about his name. Neff, as the other boys called him, had more than a passing interest in hypnotherapy, and had studied the field extensively at the Andorian University of Fralton.

His family was made up of a father named Koleffekus, an industrious man who dealt in fuel production. The mother was Stona, the embodiment of an overprotective mother to her two children. She smothered them in many ways…and sometimes the offspring had a strong desire to smother her—in her sleep. The daughter, big sister to Neff was named Caldona, who would pester Neff frequently regarding Cordann. It was evident she had the hots for her brother’s friend.

The third boy of interest is called Parn, a Paxellian from the planet, Subpaxel. Parn is the young man who first suggested that the four chums enter into a business venture together.

His family was deeply entrenched in politics—father, Smeldus was governor of Keedo City. But mother, Itshtinx was truly the political muscle behind her husband’s governorship. Both parents were typically busy as hell, and it was a wonder that they even had Parn in the first place. Certainly they had no time to produce a second child.

And the fourth and final rascal of this new career venture came in the form of Morch Caletskian, or “Morch the Porch,” a Minisculian hailing from the planet Cubaat. Morch was blessed with two mothers, Peesha and Excreesha. Together, the same gender parents ruled the male enhancement industry on Cubaat and a few other “afflicted” planets. Peesha was quite a direct woman and not very sparing of feelings—particularly of those who worked for her and her partner. Excreesha possessed a bit more in the way of diplomatic graces, yet in her own way she could be just as manipulative as her life mate.

Both moguls of the lucrative “unit fix-it” trade had clear intentions of gearing Morch to follow in their footsteps, take over the reigns of their empire someday. But Morch, of course, had other plans for a self-sustaining career.

Restwell Mind and Pest Cleaners was the name of their small and fledgling company. And as mentioned before, the four boys owned the tools necessary to perform the duties. Now the question was, could they use them effectively enough to actually get the job done?

In a few moments from now, they would certainly find out.

They had run through several equipment and job scenario drills in the past few months, gearing themselves up for the real deal.

But the real was at hand presently. Time to see if practice properly prepared for actual duty.

“Who’s up for this?!” Cordann Blu asked his crew of Restwell cohorts, his tone full of gusto.

We are!” the other three replied with vigor, holding their equipment a bit tighter.

Cordann held a vacuumater in front of him while Neff gripped a shockinater. Parn had possession of the webinater which left the fuminater in the tensed clutches of Morch. All carried a traunt scanner.

“Equipment check,” Cordann ordered with officious barking. He hit the power switch on his weapon and it hummed to life as it should.

Neff hit his and it purred like a charm. “Yeeaahh, son,” he added with fierce pride.

“There’s that puppy,” Parn said in the same tone as his powered properly.

Morch, however… “Aw, you piece of jiss…” He growled as his tool glitched and sputtered out. And frustratingly banged on it with his fist a few times hoping to jar it to proper functioning, but it wouldn’t heed.

“You okay, Morch?” Cordann asked in concern.

Fine,” Morch spit out as he transitioned from fist bangs to out and out kneeling down and smacking the device on the hard ground. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM!

“Don’t break it,” Neff chided.

“I’m not…” Morch grunted. WHAM! WHAM! ...WHAM! He alternated sides to hit on the thing—WHAM! WHAM! CRACK! BONK! TINK! BAM!

And finally…power up…

Morch rose with his humming fuminater and finally boasted, “Yeeaahhh…

Now they all turned to face their destination: a large house owned by a bio-chemistry specialist by the name of Doot.

Neff asked, “Does this Doot fella have a last name?”

Cordann answered earnestly, “No, as far as I know, it’s just Doot.”

Parn put in, “Doot…Dooter, Dootman…”

Morch elaborated, “Doot is moot…”

Parn again, “Don’t shoot the Doot…”

“Someone do the Doot…”

“Dooter Rooter…”


“Are we gonna do this, or are we gonna stand here all day and insult our first paying customer’s good name?” Cordann asked with annoyance and impatience.

“…Dootyshorts—” Parn let slip and giggled but tried his best to get it under wraps. “All right, I’m done.”

Cordann rolled his eyes then said with as much conviction as his nervous being could muster, “All right, let’s…approach…”

They held their positions for an instant longer, then they slowly trotted forth toward the front door of the house. A sensor alerted the occupant of the house that guests were at the door. A moment later, it was answered.

“Restwell?” Doot inquired as he stood inside the opened doorway and stared at the boys.

“That’s us,” Cordann replied with a bright face. “You have some nasty critters giving you some hassle?”

“Yes indeed,” Doot said, “In the basement and running through the wall spaces.”

“You hear and see ‘em?”

And see their droppings. It’s getting to be a serious problem, especially with my work.”

“Say no more, we’re on it.”

“Come in, please.”

And so the boys entered. And embarked on their first assignment as the self employed representatives of Restwell.

Chapter 2

“See anything yet?” Cordann asked as he and the other boys searched the corners and crevices of Doot’s expansive yet shadowy basement.

“Nothing,” Neff replied.

“Me either,” Parn echoed with a bit of deflation.

“Zippo,” Morch gave flatly. “It’s like they knew we were coming.”

“Well of course they did,” Neff added coarsely, “They heard us coming into the room, ya jiss scooper.”

Morch jabbed his fuminater out toward Neff. “How’d you like this jammed up your jiss hole?”

Boys!” Cordann blasted in a bit of a whispery wheeze. “A professional demeanor is key to our success here! If our customer heard us talking this way—”

“You’re right, sorry,” Neff amended apologetically.

“Sorry,” Morch agreed. He turned to Neff with penitent eyes. “You’re a master of the shockinater, Neff. I respect you.”

Neff said in kind, “And you’re a wiz with the fuminater, Morch. I respect you.”

They nodded at each other in good faith. Parn smiled at the show of common comradery between his two friends.

But Cordann turned back around and rolled his eyes, thinking, these are my business partners. Soon he refocused on searching for a sign of the pests they had come to remove.

Parn commented, “Doot was right about the droppings. There’s certainly plenty of those littered about.”

Cordann asked, “Can you determine what critters there are from the droppings?”

“Aaahh…nodies, looks like…possibly some botters.”

Nodies and botters, Cordann pondered and prepared his mind for what could happen. A nody was a particularly inhospitable and troublesome type of rodent with not one, not two, but three separate heads. Knock two out and the third one would keep the body going. And they were quick, not too easily trapped. Botters were a bit of a different story—they were bothersome to be sure; but they were also quite sensitive to light. Their four eyes needed the shadow to move around and do their damage. Deprive these little lizards of the dark and they become disoriented and mostly ineffective. Just watch out for their elongated tails—which acted like miniature whips! Not something you want to feel unless razor sharp pain is what you enjoy.

Something skittered, out of sight.

The boys tensed, aiming their weapons in the direction of the telltale sound.

Something else scampered in another direction, another darkened corner behind some crates. The boys quickly swung their aim that way. Still nothing visible for them to target.

“I think they’re playing with us,” Morch quickly got out.

“Look behind everything!” Cordann blasted. And all four did so hastily, careful not to damage anything.

Another whisk of a creature zoomed out of sight from the peripherals of the boys.

Into a vent in the lower portion of the wall.

“I’ll wager they’re all in that air shaft, hiding out!” Neff hollered as they turned to spot the vent.

“Well, we’ll see about that,” Cordann returned as he pulled from his belt pouch a tiny orb-like device. He quickly approached the grill of the vent, stood before it, and placed the orb inside the thick mesh. From there, the gadget lit up a red dot on its curvature, and rolled further into the shaft.

The thing was a trademark tool designed to flush out most critters from their dark, dank hiding spots—by rolling to their area of nesting and releasing a quite objectionable high-pitch sound. One that only the critters can hear.

It only took a moment of roll and search before the boys heard many screeching screams from deep within the vent. And scurrying. The scratching running sounds were coming closer and closer.

“Brace yourselves!” Cordann warned the boys, and they complied, tensing up their stance and weapons.

The nodies and botters shot forth from the wall and quickly dispersed to different hiding spots behind whatever sizeable object they could find.

But Cordann actually caught one dead on into his vacuumater and trapped it!

One down.

“Glare floods, all of you!” Cordann ordered. The four boys activated their blinding light rays hooked to their shoulder harnesses. “We can take out the botters first!”

With the powerful lights now acting as a new way to flush out at least the botters, the boys began to search out the critters from behind different things. Parn got two bots under a web from his webinater. He hollered to Cordann to suck them up; he rushed over and did it. Three down. Something like eight or nine to go! The nodies were scattering away from their botter counterparts, making for harder targets. Some were even shooting out right at the boys themselves, causing them to duck. Yet they were still making good time collecting the botters; shocking, webbing, and vacuuming the little buggers into permanent containment. Cordann moved over to the storage portable, hooked his vacuumater’s barrel end to its umbilical unit, allowed it to join/open, and hit his switch to transfer the botters into the portable. Trapped and secured. Cordann unhooked then went about joining his friends in hunting down the pesky nodies.

But damn, the things were quick and aggressive. Just when they thought they had one cornered, two or three others would jump at them to distract—and the target would dash away to another hiding spot.

“That’s it,” Cordann announced in agitation. “Morch, what is this ceiling made of?”

Morch unlatched a metals determining scanner from his belt and did a probe of the ceiling structure. When the results displayed on his mini-monitor, he revealed, “It’s made of curbidus metal, boss.”

“All right, you boys know what to do. Hit your boots.”

“Got it,” the other boys acknowledged, and all four of them kneeled down to adjust their boots to be conducively magnetic to the ceiling’s particular metal type.

Once done, they all sat down on the floor, shot their legs upward, then hit a button on their belts. And instantly their bodies rose up till they were all standing on the ceiling!

Now it was quite a bit easier to see all hiding spots of the nodies! The boys could even manage an arduous walk to bring themselves into even better vantage points.

The nodies did their best to try and evade or attack. But within minutes, it was over. And the nodies angrily joined their botters friends in the portable containment. All of the trapped critters viciously growled at their captors, staring them down through the thick glass with venom in their eyes.

“Yeah, yeah, nerk you, too,” Neff retorted to their vengeful looks.

“Thank you, boys. I’ve credited your account. Wonderful job,” Doot compliment with a smile and relief.

“Always at your service, professor,” Cordann responded with his own jovial smile and casual salute.

Neff offered, “Are you sure you wouldn’t like any hypnotherapy whatsoever?”

“Oh, no,” Doot answered dismissively, pishawing the notion.

“You sure?” Neff pushed but politely.

“Positive, positive.”

“All right, sir, then we shall bid you a fair and productive day,” Cordann said and bowed slightly to show professional courtesy before he and the boys turned to leave.

But as they headed for the door…


The four boys spun to face the professor with raised brows.

Doot continued, “…Actually…there is something…”

The boys had gathered and seated themselves in the professor’s study. Doot, himself, was facing them in his favorite chair as he explained his crisis.

“You see, I have a bit of a…personal issue…well, it’s rather embarrassing…”

“Please,” Cordann assured, “Whatever you tell us will be in the strictest of confidence. We’ll even put it in writing if need be.”

Doot asked if they could and it was done.

Once that was accomplished, Doot finally revealed, “I…I have a…girl…that I’m thoroughly fascinated with…”

“Well all right, professor, good for you, sir,” Parn congratulated.

“Thank you…thank you…She’s a remarkable woman, she works with me at the laboratory. We connect so well with each other, and I can tell that she would like to take our association to a new plane, but…”


“But she owns a quite sizeable collection of dolls and, well…”

“You have a fear of dolls.”

“Yes, a deftly fear of them, I’m embarrassed to say.”

“Can you say why?”

“Well that’s the major difficulty, I’m not sure why. My parents died when I was very young, so I was never ale to find out from them why this deep fear remains in me to this day.”

“So you think if we help you remember your earliest childhood memories, you might be able to identify where the fear came from—and hopefully how to stop it?”

“Hopefully, yes. In fact, I’m desperate to know why, and if something can be done about it. I’ve met and been intimately associated with females before but…I really want to get it on with this one.”

“Leave it in our capable hands, professor, we’ll get to the bottom of things and you’ll be holding…”


“…Soota in your arms with or without her dolls in no time. Neff?”

Neff came forth and knelt down in front of Doot, coming to eye level with him. “I want you to relax completely.”

“Okay,” Doot said.

“Breathe deep.”

Doot did.

“Now breathe normal,” Neff continued, “And let your mind free itself of all thoughts, concerns…”

Neff waited a brief moment to allow Doot the process of clearing his mind. “Now…I want you to envision that you are following me down a path. The path appears to have no end, but you trust me to follow along and that I know exactly where the path intends to take us. Close your eyes now.”

Doot did so.

“We are walking at a very leisurely pace,” Neff evenly continued, “there are no worries, no troubles, only our relaxing stroll along the path. It is daytime when we have started our walking, but as we continue on the seemingly endless path, dusk is setting in, the light of day is beginning to dim. It is becoming darker still until finally it has grown to pitch black night. There are no stars, no moon, nothing to light the heavy shadows now fallen on us. Now we can’t even see the path that is before us, but we are still walking on it. And it is still taking us where we need to go…Professor, I want you to open your eyes…”

Doot did. But his eyes were unfocused, relaxed.

Neff continued, “…Professor, are we still walking the path in the dark?”

Flatly, lazily, Doot said, “…Yes.”

The boys squeezed Neff’s shoulders from behind him, a silent congratulation that he had successfully hypnotized their first customer.

Neff went on, “Now professor, even though it is total night around us, the path is going to become visible to us again…do you see the path now?”

“…Yes, I do,” Doot responded.

“And do you see me in front of you?”


“Good…Our path is going to take a turn now…a turn into your past. We’re going far now, past your earlier school years and into your earliest formative period. The time when your parents were still guiding you. Now professor, something happened in that time that was extremely frightening to you…Something that involved a doll…Can you tell me about this now?”


“Please do so.”

“I was two when I was given a certain present by my father. It was a Zoopala Doll from my favorite holoshow, Zoopala and Friends. I was thoroughly excited to receive this doll, I was jumping around with joy with my new gift. I had never been so happy in my life.”

“So what happened then that year that was so terrifying to you, professor?”

“That very night, there was a storm, an ominious and frightening storm. It terrified me almost beyond reason. And I couldn’t run to my parents for safety because they had gone out and left me with a sitter…a very cold and vengeful woman. I remember screaming when the lightening and thunder flashed and shook my room. And when it did, it cast bizarre shadows on my Zoopala Doll, it made it look like a horrible demon! Made me scream profusely. Before long the sitter came bursting into my room and hollering at me, Be silent! Stop screaming and crying or she was going to tell my parents that I was a bad, bad Dooters…”

Parn perked up visibly and looked at the others, as if to say, I pegged it! I was the one who guessed his pet name!

But soon, they all focused back on Doot as he described on, “…And then the sitter marched over to my Zoopala Doll and quickly picked it up. She stormed forth to stand over me in my bed and barked at me right as the lightening and thunder hit, ‘Now take your stupid little doll and go to sleeeep!’ The lightening cast the horrid shadows on my doll once more…and she had shoved the demonic thing right in my face…I screamed even more! The thunder was heard in my head as evil, soul shattering laughter!”

“Your greatest joy became your greatest fear, professor,” Neff revealed.

“Yes…yes, it did…”

“But it was really the fault of the sitter, professor, don’t you see? If she had been a caring and generous spirit, she would have come in to turn on the light and show you that your Zoopala Doll was nothing so demonic or frightening.”

“…Yes…yes, that’s true…”



“It’s time to let go of your fear of Zoopala—and all dolls. The trauma is not with them, but with the sitter…and if she still lives, I strongly suggest that you meet with her to see if you can address your difficulty. And if she has passed, then I strongly recommend you making peace with her shortcomings. It will help you come a long way in eliminating your aversion to such a harmless object as a Zoopala and all other dolls. You will remember all of this as I bring you back along the path to the here and now.”

“Yes,” the professor concurred.

“Let’s turn back on our path. As we are walking back, we are passing your growth through time…and the dark is fading to light, a day is dawning on us…Now professor, I want you to close your eyes for me…” Doot did so. “Do you still see the light of the brightening day?”


“Good…we have come to the end of the path, back to where we began…Open your eyes.”

Doot did, and became more animate again, a normal functioning, cognizant individual. “Wow…I remember…I remember what happened…and who was responsible for fueling my deep fear…” Doot looked stunned, amazed. He looked at Neff and said, “Thank you for your work on me, boy. I’m impressed.”

“So am I,” Parn admitted, amazed his friend could actually pull it off. Morch secretly hit Parn in his side, Parn reacted with a jolted face of pain. “Owww…

Cordann redirected with, “Once again, we’re glad to be of service, professor. And we hope that your ladyfriend will be appreciative of it as well.”

“I think she will be. Thank you again, boys. I will certainly call you again if I have any more problems…either with my house or my head.”

And so there they were, the four boys of Restwell Mind and Pest Cleaners standing outside their first customer’s home, staring at each other with somewhat nervous yet exhilarated eyes.

They had done it, completed their first job successfully, glowingly. Pride shown in their faces and postures.

Cordann announced, “This is it, boys, this is how it starts for us, do you feel it? This is how our successful business begins. Nothing will stop us now.”

Chapter 3

“Those boys must be stopped!” Cordann Blu’s father thundered to all the others in the room.

Caradeen was is name, and he was the chief engineer and CEO for Kymar Industries. Kymar mass produced household and business assistant androids—what are dubbed in some circles as “Ass. Andies.” But don’t let Caradeen hear you call them that.

The others Caradeen spoke to in such a course tone were the parents of the other boys who had joined Cordann on his bold new business venture.

Neff’s Enzymian parents, hailing from the Andor system, Koleffekus and Stona felt compelled to be present at this emergency meeting. Leff, as he was called, dealt heavily in fuel production for the galaxy’s transports. Leff agreed wholeheartedly with Caradeen’s sentiments concerning the boys’ career choice.

“I wholeheartedly agree with Caradeen’s sentiments concerning the boys’ career choice,” Leff added.

“Well what do we do about it then?!” Smeldus blasted to the other parents in the meeting room. Smeldus was the governor of Keedo City on Sub Paxel—and Parn’s father. Though Smeldus held the official title of governor, it was his wife, Ishtinx who truly governed Keedo.

“Here’s an idea,” Peesha spoke up with curtness to the others as she stood next to her lifemate, Excreesha. “Why don’t we just tell our boys that they have to quit this nonsense. We are their parents, for Godsake.”

“Yes,” Excreesha chimed in, “They owe us.”

“Oooohh surrrrre, that’ll fly,” Leff retorted sarcastically. “Good plan, Excreesh.”

She’s Excreesha,” Peesha raged, “I’m Peesha!”

“What’s the difference, you’re both the mommies,” he pishawed.

“How’s our male enhancement products working out for you, Leff?” Peesha shot back.

“Can we get back on the subject at hand, please?” Caradeen protested to redirect. “Let’s not snipe pointlessly at each other. Our end goal is the same here. We want our children to carry on our hard earned legacies—which, I’m sure you would all agree, is not too much to ask.”

“I would agree with the ‘Eeshas on one account, those boys do owe us for all the sacrifices we’ve made for them,” conceded Leff.

Smeldus chimed in, “Here, here. Ish and I used to have fun in life. But that ended with Parn’s arrival.”

Caradeen added, “I’m sure we can all remember that life used to be so much more worth living before our offspring came along, but we made our choices and we sucked it up and endured. And now it is time that our boys sucked it up, got real, and carried on our empires.”

“Yes, but again, exactly how?”

“I will tell you how. By ensuring that they fail in all of their business dealings.”

Ah, I see…” Ishtinx said as she approached Caradeen and stared him down. “we use our resources to fake legitimate pest calls, but we rig the jobs with some of the nastiest critters imaginable.”

“Precisely,” Caradeen said with a smile. “Beasts that the boys couldn’t possibly deal with.”

“And the customers—who we will select, of course,” added Smeldus, “—will act as irate and dissatisfied as possible…”

“And the boys will be disenchanted, crushed,” Caradeen concluded. “And will give up this crazy notion of pest control…and hypnosis…” he ended with a sour tone.

Can you imagine…” Excreesha lamented in disgust, “…sullying our good names with this vile profession—rooting around in basements and dusty attics, it’s an insult!”

“It’s scandalous!” Peesha echoed.

“Criminal!” Ishtinx belted.

“Well, not for long ladies…not for long,” Caradeen assured with confidence. “By this time next week, we will have them right where we want them.”

Chapter 4

Goldin Rambidou was indeed a very happy man. And why shouldn’t he be? He was, after all, president of the whole universe. Or at least the part of it known as the Effen Galaxy. Spanning thirty-eight planets and a couple of supercool nebulas, Effen was a happening galaxy to be a part of.

And for the last thirty years, Goldin had overseen the regulation of it all. Proudly, judiciously…lasciviously. Unevenly, criminally, caustically, violently, cruelly, backwardsly…well, you get the general idea. Typical government practice. But at least Goldin was dedicated. He had no domesticated life to speak of; no wife or children, just the love of the job—and the love for the gross power he wielded over many worlds and peoples. Despite no family of his own, Goldin could hardly consider his existance to be wasted or meaningless. After all, he was ruler of the Effen Galaxy and his influence was felt throughout the various systems therein. Yes indeedily, Goldin was a content man.

Except when his power and position were under threat of weakening—or extinction altogether. Goldin had encountered this situation numerous times in his thirty year reign of Effen.

And unfortunately this kind of predicament had reared its rastard-ugly head once more.

There was a senator on the rise who proposed radical amendments to the Effen constitution. His name was Osis Binarian, a righteous and impassioned representative from Dooshlodia who was smooth talking his way through the ranks. He seemed incorruptible and completely honorable. Goldin despised him.

It appeared that one of Osis’ proposals was to form a special task force to clamp down on the slave trade that plagued the Effen underworld sects.

Goldin was not a fan of slavery per se, but he realized that it was a necessary evil in order to keep the galaxy well financed…particularly in funding his scientific experiments. Goldin covertly had his science teams working on new chemical formulas to effectively control the minds of the senate members. Manipulate them into voting his way in important ratifications. Important to maintaining Goldin’s power base at any rate.

Something had to be done about this idealistic and dangerously naïve new senator. Something permanent. Goldin knew that if he simply tried to smear the Dooshlodian’s good name, create some trumped up scandal for Binarian, it may only delay trouble for Goldin’s grand plans. He knew that politicians always had a nasty knack for bouncing back from bad press. No, something more drastic must be put into play.

But it must be done delicately, with supreme subterfuge, and with no trace of Goldin’s administration being implicated by the Effen high courts.

And Goldin knew the right people to contact for this sort of intricate assignment. First would be his personal assistant—his pers. ass.—Snaris Umley. In the official Effen dictionary under sycophant, it says “see Snaris”—at least Goldin felt it should be. Snaris, as most knew, had his proverbial lips firmly glued to Goldin’s rear. Anything that the president desired, Snaris made happen, gladly and without question.

The second person that would be contacted concerning the covert elimination would be a man who was an unofficial liaison in these touchy types of assignments: Gannik Butrillon. Gannik would then be tasked unofficially with hiring an experienced and clever assassin to carry out the deadly contract.

Usually that assassin came in the form of the most ruthless, precise, and cunning assassin in the Effen Galaxy: Putrak Alkak, or Putrak The Much Feared as he is known in the criminal underworld.

Putrak would receive the particulars, gather his tools of death, and the job would be completed. Period. Without fail.

And Goldin had the perfect venue in which to carry out the killing of Osis Binarian: the yearly Effen Galaxy Summit, where all delegates from thirty-eight worlds come together to discuss the current state of Effen. Osis was scheduled to speak, make a grand plea to the populace for grand change. But before Osis would begin his speech, he would suffer a “mysterious affliction” and die on the spot, in front of the masses. Where there would be little suspicion for foul play, no sniper’s bullet to be traced to anyone or assassin to track down. Putrak was quite good at using tools that could end an individual and leave no trace as to the cause.

Sure, it might look like convenient timing that Osis would croak just before an important address to the Effen peoples. But these things happen, Goldin could always defend, life is unpredictable; and sometimes tragedy occurs when you least expect it.

Certainly, Goldin had been under scrutiny before for suspicious dealings and underhanded circumstances. But he had always weathered them with grace, charm, and toughness of resolve. He hadn’t maintained his thirty year rule by being a lightweight pushover who was easily ruffled by scandal.

No, Goldin was confident that this current crisis would be resolved by the beginning of the summit. And he, the president of the whole Effen Galaxy, would continue being a very happy man.

Chapter 5

The prospective client opened the door to his humble abode on the planet Bormie and faced the four Restwell boys.

“Hi, you called about some pest critters in your home?” Cordann inquired of the homeowner.

“Ah yes,” the proprietor concurred then offered, “Please come on in. I’m desperate to resolve this problem.”

Cordann, Neff, Parn, and Morch entered the man’s home and faced him for more specifics.

The owner went on, “They’re rooting around in my basement, chewing up my power lines and destroying circuits and pipes. It’s a real mess, do you think you could get them out for me?”

“Absolutely, sir. Leave it to us and we’ll solve your pest problem in no time. Consider the job already done.”

“Oh terrific, that’s what I wanted to hear. This way, boys, to the lower level of the house.” He guided them to the entrance of the basement stairway. “This is as far as I’d like to go. Critters creep me out.”

“We’ll take it from here, sir,” Cordann assured. And he and the other three Restwell boys descended the stairs.

The owner closed the door behind them.

There was some light down below which allowed the boys a fall-free passage down the steps.

“It’s good that he closed the door…” Morch rather nervously commented, “…right?”

“We don’t want any critters escaping,” Cordann assured.

“Makes sense.” But Morch was still tense, feeling closed in.

They reached the basement and found that the area was vast and only sparsely littered with boxes or old items. There didn’t appear to be any dust on any of them.

“New owner, I guess,” Parn suggested.

“Yeah, doesn’t have much,” Neff added.

“Maybe he’s a minimalist,” Morch surmised.

“Or a Tupitarian. They’re not allowed to have much.”

“He doesn’t look like a Tupitarian.”

“They have a look?”

“They have a look. My uncle says they have a look.”

“Which is what?”

“…They have a minimal look.”

“You’re an idiot. I’m going to shock you with this thing—”

Boys. The job, remember?” Cordann stressed.

“You’re right,” Morch and Neff amended in unison and got focused on the job at hand.

A rattling noise was heard. But nothing was seen. The boys tensed, held their weapons firmer, for the ready. They looked about, trying to spot anything that might resemble a critter.

Suddenly, a whip-fast form on four legs sped by from behind two crates.

“Did you see that?!” Morch blurted.

“I saw it! I saw it!” Cordann rattled out quickly.

“What was it?! Did any of you get a good look at it?!” Morch hastily asked.

Too quick, they all responded back.

Another blur of movement came from behind shadowy items.

“There! That one…looked like a…like a rocky something…”

All four boys didn’t like the sound of that. This sight was unexpected.

Parn’s teeth began to chatter a bit in deep rooted fear.

“All right, tighten up, boys,” Cordann barked, “We can do this.”

All four braced themselves to focus on what was ahead.

But soon Parn’s teeth resumed chattering.

Parn—” Cordann began.

“Sorry,” Parn said nervously, “Can’t help it, it was a reckadeck, a reckadeck—”

“We don’t know that for sure,” Morch sobered.

“What other critter has rock-like skin?!”

“Once we get a better look—”

Suddenly, a cragged and orbish projectile, gray and hardened, rocketed straight at the boys!

“DUCK!” Neff squealed in an instant—and the boys did so in the split-second nick of time!

The stony ball shot over and past them to crash into the wall beyond. It rebounded to the floor, uncoiled itself to a four-legged, rocky-skinned nightmare, then zipped away to disappear behind a crate.

“Was that close enough for you?!” Parn stabbed at Neff.

Penitent, Neff uttered, “…Yeah…close enough…Reckadeck, confirmed.”

They all cautiously rose again, keeping a sharp eye on the crate.

Something quickly skittered behind them.

They whipped about to track the source.

From behind another crate, a spiky little devil peered its glowing blue eyes out to stare at the boys with venom.

“Aaaaand that’s a crondite,” Neff added with false calm.

“What the hell is it doing here?!” Parn asked in high pitch fear.

“What the hell is a reckadeck doing here?!”

“All good questions for another time boys,” Cordann said, “But right now…”

Without warning from behind another crate, a different, more indefinable shape catapulted itself right at the boys, causing them to madly duck down once more. They spun about to catch the wobbly, rippling mass disappear behind another pristine crate.

“Nerk me with a traunt detector…” Morch uttered, “…that was a klooner!”

Klooners. One of the most troublesome and destructive creatures in existence. They exclusively fed off circuitry, powerlines, and coolant. And they couldn’t easily be caught, because of their unique ability to change at will from solid to liquid form. Try webinating one of those and see where it gets you.

Crondites and reckadecks weren’t much better. Crondies were super-quick reptilians with spiky skin and knife-like claws—and, oh yeah, a propensity for hyper-rage. Reckies were quite dodgy to catch in their own right in that, in addition to being able to curl up and throw themselves through the air like hardened boulders, they could split into four or five parts of themselves to confuse predators.

The boys simply weren’t set up for these extreme cases—and for good reason, of which they’ll explain in a bit.

“Tighten up!” Cordann snapped, “we’re doing this, dammit!”

“We are?” Parn fearfully asked.

Wooshes!—two reckadecks cannoned themselves out from two far apart crates and aimed at the boys head on!

Cordann attempted to whip-position his vacuumater to catch one of the living boulders as it hurdled at him. But it was too quick and the thing ricocheted off the end of the weapon’s barrel. It bounced off the ceiling and fast diagonaled down to hide behind another crate.

At the same time, the other projectile split into four different parts and snap-attached themselves to Neff’s shockinater. Extremely flustered, Neff attempted to shake off the four rocky leeches to his weapon—especially since they seemed to be biting into its construction, tearing at it. “Ah nerk! Get off! Get off!” His shaking wasn’t doing any good.

Cordann and Morch rushed to him to try and shock and vacuum the little bugger(s), but then two crondites leaped out and attacked them! The creatures latched on, causing the boys to jerk and flail, stagger off in odd stances and steps. Both cursed wildly in shock and anger.

Parn looked around in a mad scan to see if something might pop out at him as well. Nothing was at the moment—so he desperately attempted to aim webs at the crondies clinging and clawing at his two friends. Flecks of their blood were now flying! They hollered in their struggle. Parn shot out webs but kept missing.

Meanwhile, Neff ran to a wall to try and slam his reckadeck-infested shockinater against its hard surface. But it was to no avail, the individual pieces of the creature held firm to the damaged device. And the banging was only hurting matters for his poor weapon. “Get oooooff!”

As Parn continued to expend badly aimed webs at his partners, he heard a new disturbing sound behind him…

…and spun about just in time to see a coagulating, brownish mass fly straight at him! As it did, he managed to hysterically wail, “MOMMIES?!” And then it hit—and engulfed him! His webinater dropped to the floor with loud clacking sounds.

Neff saw what was happening to his companions, and abandoned his weapon to try and firstly aid Cordann and Morch, still battling the vicious crondites. He grabbed Morch’s shockinater from his grasp and did his best to correctly aim the shocks at the squirming critters. Yet, from behind, another reckie rockish orb flew out to beam him on the shoulder before it soared on and out of sight. He winced and groaned in sharp pain, but kept his grip on the shockinater. After a few mistaken shock-jabs—which further agonized his two assaulted friends—Neff finally met his intended targets. And the crondites squealingly dismounted to shoot away and across the room. But they didn’t hide. They speedily spun into attack stances, ready to strike again if the opportunity was ripe.

“Nerk this, let’s get out of here!” Neff ground out to the other two.

“What about him?!” Morch said of Parn. The poor boy was covered in a liquidy brown… and it was threatening to close over his mouth and nose! His fear was mounting.

“Drop all weapons,” Cordann ordered, “now.”

“You mean…” Morch hazarded.

“Yeah, leave ‘em. I don’t think we get to walk out of here otherwise.”

“I bet that thing would love to eat up all the power in them… All right. Neff?”

Neff slowly lowered the shockinater while Cordann did the same with his vacuumater.

And in reaction, the klooner released itself of Parn’s body and oozed off to the side, waited.

Cautiously, the four boys made for the stairs, their arms up to show no funny biz was in the works. The critters watched their every move, ready to resume the siege if necessary.

The boys reached the door, felt for it, opened it, passed through—still eyeing their superior attackers with silent dread—and slammed the door shut as quickly as possible as soon as all were clear on the other side.

“This is absolutely unacceptable!” the owner blasted at the boys as they stood outside the front door. The owner was inside and facing them at the doorway. “I thought I was hiring professionals but you four are just third rate hacks! You might as well pack up your business and run home to your mommies! I’m going to tell everyone how you botched this job! Make bet on it!”

“We’re so sorry, sir, we came up against some unexpected—” Cordann tried.

“Sorry?! Never in my life have I seen such unprofessionalism! Whatever it takes to make it in this job you four certainly don’t have it! Now good day to you! And never darken my door again!”

The owner whooshed the door shut and left the boys to their dejection. A sharp, cold wind blew at them causing their eyes to bat repeatedly.

Neff uttered, “He seemed minorly dissatisfied with the result of our work.”

Parn retorted, “Understatement of the year, Nerkhead.”

“Nerk you very much, please.”

“I really think we’re pretty much dead in the water now, boys,” Morch assessed with no enthusiasm.

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