A Forceful Conversion
by Darcy Moline
COMMANDER URGNE V0 shook out his
copious tentacles emitting a delightful scent of rotting sniis.
"Groll," he shouted in a sonorous command voice. "Bring in some
Groll, his sub-sub-sub lieutenant, rolled away, barely
touching the violet tunnel walls on his way. He returned several
minutes later, leading two seedy looking M'bubs, each with its
tentacles tightly bandaged to its head.
Urgne surveyed them with
disgust. "Are these the best you could find, Groll? I'd thought better
Groll cringed appropriately and rolled backward to the edge
of the hole.
"Hear me, you Slime . . ." Urgne bellowed, addressing
the prisoners, "You have been chosen nay, selected to
engage in counter espionage on behalf of our gracious Leader." (At this
mention of the Leader Urgne undertook the ritual genuflection and Groll
rolled quickly forward to flail the M'bub's helpless tentacles until
they writhed and sobbed in the accepted fashion.)
"Even M'bubs are
allowed to serve," Urgne continued, fluttering his tentacles wildly
until they gave out the scents of wild pnid and vossry. "Even worthless
green M'bubs with fluffy fur on their elbows have their part in the
great plan. They also serve who only writhe and sob!"
moving words, Groll quivered his tentacles in admiration, and the scent
of flume wafted through the surrounding space, tinting it a pale
orange. Even the M'bubs sobbed softly without Groll's having to flay
Urgne looked both pleased and modest, and his fore
tentacles waved gently, at which the M'bubs rushed forward and might
even have caressed him, had Groll not quickly intervened.
Thoroughly softened, the commander continued to wave benignly at the
captives. "Have you handles?" he asked pleasantly. "You may tell them
to me before I convert you."
The larger of the two shuddered quietly
in response. "I'm Dodole and that's Tnoo."
said. "Agreeable names for M'bubs. What is your origin?"
ring, your Magnificence"
"Very well, M'bub Dodole. Roll forward."
Somewhat reluctantly, Dodole did as he was told, but his green coloring
began fading to a sickly chartreuse.
Urgne seized the trembling
M'bub in his fore-tentacles and began squeezing and crunching. The
hapless creature quivered and turned a wan yellow, while emitting a
piercing scent of vrumm. The air grew winey with it as Urgne squeezed
and squeezed, and the M'bub became more and more pale. At last its
substance began to take on a satisfying gray tinge that thickened and
curdled until behold! the ugly green M'bub had become a
handsome, pleasingly warty, and reliable V0, almost indistinguishable
from Groll himself.
At once Groll undid the bandages and offered the
new-made V0 a warm, full-tentacle caress, which the new made V0
cordially returned. "Now GO! Both of you!" Urgne bellowed. "Go out and
mangle M'bubs and C'dums and take them captive. I will deal with the
other M'bub in your absence."
Very willingly the two V0 comrades
rolled out together. Once inside the tunnel, Groll entwined tentacles
in a friendly manner. "So. How long had you been M'bub," he whispered
(for they were still within bellowing distance, and the vrum-smell of
the other unfortunate M'bub was still clearly within scent.)
one moon-cycle," Dodole answered. "Before that I was Tunkuny for two
cycles, and before that I spent the revolution as a wretched Twee."
"Hard luck," Groll said sympathetically. "But you'll like being V0
we're hard to capture. You can expect to be V0 for one, maybe two
"So. Then it's good being V0? Good hunting? You
capture anything good lately?" Dodole asked.
"Nothing but Twee,"
Groll answered writhing his rear tentacles gently. "And they're so
disgusting that I usually throw them back. Not worth bothering
"Aw, have a heart," Dodole said, emitting the soft scent of
druppets. "We were all Twee once."
And Groll had to admit that it