Sep 1st 2011, 11:02 by E O Hatterpol | 1228 AU FROM SUN
THE DEFENSELESS young girls shivered in the cold air, long shadows from fires lit in barrels stretching across their worried faces. Without power, Starbase Octopus was rapidly losing heat.
The doomed Starbase was also rapidly turning in on itself, Starbasegoer fighting anarchist fighting Starbasemen fighting frightened young girls who used to be zonbis before I tore open Heartbreak's bowels and hung him by his cords. These men turned mad bristled at the two young girls behind us with looks of violence in their eyes.
"Save them, E O, save them!" Nixie cried.
I wanted so badly to run away, to keep on until we reached the Flybrary, to get off this dying Octopus, but instead I brought my bookshield and beersword to the ready, counting off the number of opponents. I got to six before a sudden movement off to the back and right caught my eye.
A huge, hulking figure had appeared atop a small hillock of the dead and injured, stepping indiscriminately on their faces and chests to get a better view of the Squid's Beak. His skin was riddled with pockmarks and craters; he wore an eyepatch with a picture of a skull wearing an eyepatch; a bottle of Whale Ale stuck awkwardly out of his head.
We locked eyes. He stopped, realizing he had found what he was looking for, and smiled a great big I'm-gonna-get-you! smile.
"MotherFLOUNDER it's Captain Makemake! Nixie, we've got to--"
An old man's broad, muscular back suddenly appeared before me, blocking my view. He was wearing a one-piece spacesuit, but he had tied the top bit in a knot around his waist to free up his fighting arms and juice up his manly spirit. He held a great big cricket bat in his left hand.
"General Asteroid?!" I said incredulously.
"I've been looking for my granddaughters for weeks now," he roared. "My thanks to you for finding them. I'll hold this scum back until you can get to your ship. Take good care of that suit I sold you; it's one of the best I've ever sewn. Now GO!!"
I looked over his shoulder; Captain Makemake had vanished.
We left General Asteroid just before his many attackers moved to strike. I have no idea what happened to him, nor do I think I ever will, but he was a good man, and a brave one, and he probably saved my life.
We dodged anarchist molotov cocktails, twirled around warring families and stumbled over the bodies of dead zonbis. Finally, bruised and scraped and scared and out of breath, Nixie and I reached Ravi the Bookman's wall of books, but the entire thing was barely visible behind the crush of Flybrarians and free-loaders and freaks all trying to board the last ship off the Starbase.
"Ravi! Ravi! Open up!" I called desperately.
Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Captain Makemake picking his way down the tentacle towards us.
"Ravi!! Open up and let us in, you big gay stack of books!"
Suddenly a strong arm punched through the wall of books, stunning everyone with a spray of hardbacks. The arm was made of books, and I recognized some: Stardust, Coraline, Marvel 1602. It was Ravi the Bookman's Arm of Neil Gaiman.
"You go first, E O! I'll come right after you!" Nixie shouted.
I nodded, feeling Ravi's paperback fingers close around my spacesuit collar. The next minute I was being dragged over fallen bodies and over people's heads through the wall of books to safety. But before I was pulled through, I saw Nixie run across the way to help some injured children.
"What are you doing, Nixie? Get back over here!!" I yelled, someone's neck digging into my back.
She gave me a look I never want to see again.
"For the Help & Welcome Department," she said softly.
"Nixie, no! This Starbase is doomed - you'll die! Nixie, noooo!" I shouted.
Ravi pulled me through. I smacked his hand away and screamed in his face.
"Ravi! Flounder me, get Nixie! Get Nixie, go!"
Ravi looked bewildered, but he stuck his arm back through and searched wildly. Mad lunatics grabbed at his arm, trying to tear away his books, or trying to get a ride through the wall of books, or trying to just destroy things, I don't know. He searched and searched and searched, and I thought all hope was lost, but he finally grabbed onto something and pulled it back through.
But it wasn't a person; it was something small enough to fit in his hand. I looked at his palm with bated breath as he opened it slowly to see what he had found.
It was Nixie's locket.
WHAT should I do next, Flybrarians?
A: Nixie is still out there! Tear down Ravi's wall of books and find her, even if it means flooding the Flybrary with the same chaos that's destroying Starbase Octopus!
B: The Carptain isn't waiting any longer and Nixie wants to stay and help. Cut your losses and get on that Starship before it blasts away and leaves Ravi and you for dead!
Your daily choice becomes tomorrow's adventure! Choose Our Own Adventure with either (A) or (B) in the comments section below, on Twitter, Google+, Facebook or EOHatterpol[at]gmail[dot]com.