“Let me ask you this,” Michael said, as Creepy wobbled determinedly towards the little floating egg. “How much experience do you have with TC armaments?”
“I’ve forgotten more than you’ve ever known about TC armaments,” I predicted under my breath, but making sure Michael could hear. Not much point making a prediction and then saying ‘see? Told you’ if nobody else hears it.
“I’ve forgotten more than you’ve ever known about TC armaments,” Creepy rewarded my long experience by saying airily.
“See?” I said. “Told you.”
“That’s all well and good,” Michael persisted as Creepy continued to wade towards the egg, “but there’s no functional difference between forgotten knowledge and nonexistent knowledge, in this context. It’s the knowledge you possess that is of importance.”
“What do these squiggles mean?” Creepy asked, pointing at the little screen. “And what do these buttons do?”
“I have no idea,” Michael admitted.
“Me neither,” Creepy said, and poked the little row of buttons.
“But I can tell you that there’s a chance messing with the interface will set off the warhead.”
“No reward without a little risk,” Creepy said, but at least he stopped prodding the alien bomb.
Now, sadly, he was rummaging in his pockets.
“Does the fallout get more intense the closer you get to the device?” I asked, in an attempt to stop him. “I assume touching it isn’t actually fatal, since Creepy hasn’t just vanished in a puff of total cosmic irrelevance.”
“You wish,” Creepy said loftily, still digging.
“It’s no more dangerous,” Michael said doubtfully. “To be honest, we weren’t even sure it was possible to get this close and come back. Thanks to you, there’s at least this final safety zone,” he hesitated again. “Of course, we may need somewhat more extensive decontamination procedures … what’s that?”
I looked at what Creepy had finally produced from his pants and was now brandishing triumpantly. I sighed.
“Gaffa,” I said. “It appears to be gaffa tape.”