In Canberra, miles away from the disaster at Trilobite Park, a hood was being yanked off the head of a handcuffed man. He blinked in the sudden brightness, and sneered at his captors.
“Taipan McGillacuddie?” came a voice.
“You know, the hood was kind of uncalled for,” Taipan said. “I only have one eye. You could have just moved my eyepatch over onto it, and I couldn’t have seen a thing.”
“You have been –”
“I mean, I guess the hood was easier to pull over my head, but it’s hot. Middle of summer, yeah?”
“You have been accused –”
“I don’t even want to think about how my hair looks now,” Taipan continued. “I know, I’m an ex-special forces hardass turned criminal, maybe I shouldn’t be worried about the hair. But my mullet is my trademark, you know? Where am I anyhow? AFP headquarters?”
“How did you know that?” the voice said. It was coming from an increasingly flustered looking bald, middle aged man.
“Heard one of the guards talking about it in the van,” he said. “They really oughta know that the hood doesn’t block hearing, yeah?”
The bald man took a deep breath. His head looked like a model whose sculptor had run out of clay, and so had just made token facial features on an egg-shaped skull. “Taipan McGillacuddie, you are facing life in prison for your various savage but ill-defined crimes,” he said. “But today is your lucky day.”
“Today? No, I’m a Sagitarius. My lucky days are…”
“We need someone with your skills to rescue the Prime Minister,” the bald man said loudly. “He’s been captured by ninjas, and we can’t stage a cabinet coup until we get him back.”
Taipan stood and stared at the bald man. “Ninjas?” he said. “I don’t do ninjas. I’ll take my chances in jail.”
“Okay,” the bald man said.
“Sure. If you’re not a bad enough dude to save the Prime Minister, we won’t make you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing. Buk! Buk!”
“C’mon, are you a bad enough dude or what?”
“Oh, I’m a bad enough dude, I just don’t want to…”
“Shees, what are you, five?”
“Go to Hell!”
The bald man shrugged. “Okay. But you should be aware that… No, you wouldn’t be interested.”
A silence fell over the featureless room for nearly ten minutes before Taipan said: “All right, fine, I’ll bite. What?”
“The Prime Minister is being held in Trilobite Park.”
“What’s that, then?”
“A theme park full of resurrected trilobites,” the bald man said. “Run by none other than… Captain Pete Olivetti-McTarvish.”
Taipan frowned, and ran a hand over his eyepatch. “All right, I’ll go.”
“Great, I’ll just action that,” said the bald man. “By the way, how did you get your hand out of the cuffs?”
“Pretty sure I didn’t,” Taipan said.
“But you rubbed your eyepatch.”
“News to me.”
The bald man threw his hands up. “Fine, whatever.”
Back at the Park, Hay Ew was reading the Park emergency manual by the red emergency lights. This would have been the most responsible thing she had ever done, had it not been for the fact that she was reading it out loud to about three dozen visitors who were hiding in the caferteria.
“‘In that event you should steer towards Charybdis,'” she read, “‘for ’tis better to loose six members of your crew than that your entire boat be wrecked.’ Hm. That’s good advice.”
A tourist put a hand up. “Are we going to die?”
“Please hold all questions to the end,” Hay said. “But yeah, realistically our odds aren’t looking good.”
The door burst open and a flutter of panic filled the room. “Relax,” Hay said. “It’s just Jacobs. How’s it going, my man?”
Jacobs stared at her. “Badly,” he said. “Haven’t you been paying attention? Badly. I need your help.”
“Whoa, it is pretty bad then,” Hay said, happily. “What can I do? Honestly, I’m getting tired of babysitting these poindexters.”
“You suck!” shouted someone at the back. Hey responded by flipping the bird.
“To reconnect the main power and open the external doors, I need to get past a room full of flesh-eating trilobites,” Jacobs said.
“They eat flesh?” shouted a visitor. “Why did no one tell us that? That’s actually interesting!”
Hay threw a raw potato at the interlocutor, or in their general direction at least. “So what do you need, some of these losers to be decoys?”
“What? No, I need some meat. You’re head of catering, right? You have access to the cool rooms?”
“Oh, is that where I was supposed to keep the meat?” Hay said. “Dylan! You were right! It doesn’t go in my office.”
Jacobs rubbed his eyes. “Just get some meat and come with me.”
They loaded a trolley with some funky-smelling meat and wended their way through the dimly lit Park towards the circuit breakers. “So what caused this lockdown anyway?” Hey said.
“Not sure,” Jacobs said. “There’s a lot of weird stuff going on.”
“Do you think it was those ninjas?” Hay said, pointing to what had seemed at first like a bunch of shadows, but resolved itself into a tableau of black-clad men standing perfectly still.
“What ninjas… Oh, yeah. Huh. Totally ninjas.”
“You didn’t see us,” said one of the figures.
“No, we totally do,” Hay said.
The shadows detached themselves from the wall. “Fine, we’re trying to find the time-control apparatus that Captain Pete was using,” one ninja said.
“Oh, not trying to capture the Prime Minister, then?” Hay said.
“Oh is he here? Which one is he?”
“Wait, that’s not the point, Hay,” Jacobs said. “These men are trying to steal proprietary information from the Park!”
Hay thought about this for a moment. “We have some meat,” she said. “So we’re good to go against the angry crabs. But the two of us aren’t really prepared to take on a dozen armed ninjas, are we?”
“Uh…” Jacobs said. “That’s uh, that’s actually a good point.
“Let’s leave them to the head of security,” Hay said. “Who as we know, is totally badass in a very well defined way that we all know.”
“I guess so,” Jacobs said. “Let’s go poison some killer trilos.”