Chapter 44: Sparky's Gone Away
“Lilo!” screamed a desperate, raspy voice into the unforgiving void.
Hours had past, and Stitch had still not seen any sign of either his best friend or the other two experiments. He felt like he had run for miles, or searched the ship lengthwise at least. The thought that Lilo might be still alive had kept him going onwards, a lighthouse in the stormy sea.
But now, he felt as if his spark had gone.
He leaned forward against the chain-link barrier that only just prevented him from falling into the sea of black below. Inside, the cogs of his mind were still churning with possibilities, but his brain told him that the little girl he knew was by now either dead, or worse.
Slowly, he sighed, and listened to what was around him; the sharp beeping of consoles, the slow hiss of gas escaping, and the occasional psst-shap! of the hydraulics systems that worked the knees of the alien beings around him.
Was this what he was reduced to? Stitch remembered a time when he could travel the ends of the Earth and back; in fact, it was barely four days ago when they were chasing an experiment together; laughing, having fun, and thoroughly enjoying themselves. But now, Stitch felt tired, miserable and alone, all alone in this Rubix-cube-of-a-ship.
“Lilo…” he murmured, more to himself than anyone else. He wanted her to be alive… she just had to be alive…
But no, she was gone, and there was nothing he could do.
He stared at his hands; they were cold, desolate, empty. He remembered a book he once read, about a boy and his horse.
“‘These look like such strong hands, don’t they?’”
Stitch sighed, and sat beside the fencing, staring at the cold, desolate, empty nothing that surrounded him.
“Look at this!”
426 wearily looked up at what 419 was pointing at. It was a computer screen.
“Oh c’mon, we’ve seen so many consoles that I could probably pull one out of my ears,” 426 said hazily.
“No, no, no; it’s what’s on it that’s important,” 419 replied, brimming with excitement. “You see…”
“Shh, can you hear something?”
419 listened quietly in the near silence.
“That,” 426 continued, “is the sound of I-don’t-ca…”
“Quiet!” 419 warned him. “I think I can hear something else!”
“Ya, although it’s kinda hard to tell over the sound of your ginormous ego.”
“It… sounds like static – hey, you don’t still have that walkie-talkie, do you?”
“As a matter of fact, I do,” grinned 426, and with that, he gingerly reached down his throat and pulled from its depths an incredibly-slimy-but-still-operational walkie-talkie.
“Eww…” moaned 419 as her companion flung the mass of mucus and saliva covering the device away. “Why, of all things, did you swallow it?”
“Well, I wanted to hang on to it, but I don’t have pockets, and I definitely don’t have extra arms that I can slide away… so I put it in the one place I can keep it without worrying about it…”
“In your stomach?”
419 shook her head, trying to understand any possible way that that could be a good idea.
“Don’t you know, my dear 426, that there are various digestive acids and catabolic enzymes in your stomach that attempt to break down anything that enters it?”
“Never mind,” hand-waved 419, slowly shaking her head again. “I guess it works, and that’s what matters.”
“Pleakley, are you transmitting on all frequencies?” Jumba asked, his thick, burly accent hiding the shivering fear in his voice.
“All known frequencies transmitting, Jumba!” replied Pleakley, who’s normally fast and high-pitched voice was now faster and higher-pitched than ever.
“This is the Galactic Federation Starship Dakana,” articulated Jumba, slowly and clearly. “Our shields are down, and…”
The floor, the walls, the entire ship shuddered as the Borg vessel fired another shot into its starboard decks.
“… and the… shut up, computer, I know! … they - the Borg cube - are, how you say, hitting us with all they are having. We cannot hold out much…”
“Jumba? Jumba, is that you?”
The syllables sliced the icy silence of static that surrounded the ship. Jumba looked to Pleakley, and he looked back, hope shining in his face.
“Experiment 419! Please, tell us you can help!”
“Why?” The two aliens’ hearts fell. Surely, if 419 was in a position to aid or assist them, she would know what their problem was.
“Jumba, what’s wrong?” the voice of 419 asked, more panicked than before. But Jumba did not reply.
“The great scientist, that’s what they called me.” Jumba sighed heavily. “But I am only a scientist, nothing more, nothing less.”
“What are you saying, Jumba?” Pleakley looked at his best friend in the universe, eye to eye. “Don’t tell me you’ve…”
“We are completely defenceless, completely alone. I am no more a war general than Nani is a great chef…”
He looked wishfully out at the stars, at the cold dark night.
“Chance, chance and luck. That’s what’s gotten me through life… but I’m afraid this may be it.”
“Jumba?” 419 whispered through the communication device.
Pleakley, however, walked straight up to Jumba and looked him in the eye.
“That, Jumba Jookiba, is nonsense, and you know it.”
“Listen to Pleakley, Jumba!” 419 said softly. “Who wrangled his way out of the legal system to escape life imprisonment? You. Who saved us from the asteroid? You. Who quelled the rebellion on Alpha Quaam? Oh, I know what the documents say, but I didn’t see any Federation troops in the video footage!”
“That wasn’t luck, Jumba,” Pleakley continued. “That was you. And as for being a war general, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve beaten you in chess.”
“And that’s saying something, he only has three fingers!” 426 finished.
“Ah, but chess is simply calculating a series of moves based on multiple vectors. This…”
“This is just like chess, you should know that!” Pleakley almost shouted. “You have your multitude of vectors, your king to move. They’ve got a queen on ya, and you’re in check.”
Jumba sighed. “You’re right.”
He paced around the control room, deep in thought.
“We need a plan,” he said, his eyes brightened with new resolve. “One that involves cunning and daring. 419, are you still there?”
“Yes, Jumba, I’m here!”
“Right, then. I need you to…”
“Jumba!” shouted Pleakley, covering his mouth in shock.
“What? What’s wrong?” Jumba looked around quickly, trying to ascertain the danger. But when he caught a glimpse of himself in one of the star-streaked windows, he stopped in his tracks.
He was fading.
And as he watched, completely helpless to do anything, he and the world around him materialised into nothing.