The shobble secret, p.1
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       The Shobble Secret (The Shocking Trouble on the Planet of Shobble), p.1
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         Part #2 of Space Brigade series by Liane Moriarty
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The Shobble Secret


  L. M. Moriarty is the author of two best-selling books for adults. The Space Brigade and the Shocking Trouble on the Planet of Shobble is the second book in the Space Brigade series.

  Also by L. M. Moriarty:

  The Space Brigade and the Petrifying Problem with Princess Petronella

  First published 2009 in Pan by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited

  1 Market Street, Sydney

  Copyright (c) Liane Moriarty 2009

  The moral right of the author has been asserted.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

  National Library of Australia

  Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

  Moriarty, L.M.

  The shocking trouble on the planet of Schobble / L.M. Moriarty.

  ISBN 978 0 3304 2470 7 (pbk.)

  Moriarty, L.M.

  Space Brigade.

  For children

  Dewey Number: A823.4

  Typeset in 11.5/14 pt Minion by Midland Typesetters, Australia

  Printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group

  Papers used by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited are natural, recyclable products made from wood grown in sustainable forests. The manufacturing processes conform to the environmental regulations of the country of origin.

  These electronic editions published in 2009 by Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd

  1 Market Street, Sydney 2000

  The moral right of the author has been asserted.

  All rights reserved. This publication (or any part of it) may not be reproduced or transmitted, copied, stored, distributed or otherwise made available by any person or entity (including Google, Amazon or similar organisations), in any form (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical) or by any means (photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise) without prior written permission from the publisher.

  The Shocking Trouble on the Planet of Shobble

  L. M. Moriarty

  Adobe eReader format: 978-1-74198-473-6

  EPUB format: 978-1-74198-500-9

  Online format: 978-1-74198-554-2

  Macmillan Digital Australia

  www.macmillandigital.com.au

  Visit www.panmacmillan.com.au to read more about all our books and to buy both print and ebooks online. You will also find features, author interviews and news of any author events.

  CONTENTS

  Cover

  About L. M. Moriarty

  Also by L. M. Moriarty

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  For George

  PROLOGUE

  Two girls and a boy stood knee-deep in snow on the side of a mountain. A thousand dazzling rainbows soared above them. Beneath them a frozen sea shimmered like a giant sapphire.

  The shorter of the girls had curly red-gold hair that blew in a halo around her head and dimples that dented her cheeks even when she wasn't smiling.

  She was in a bad mood.

  'Are you sure it's true?' she snapped.

  'No. I made the whole thing up just to ruin your day,' sighed the boy. He was her younger brother, which explains a lot.

  The other girl, who had dark brown frizzy hair and a pale, serious face didn't say anything. She was thinking, pressing her finger hard against her bottom lip.

  The girl with the red-gold hair blew her nose noisily. She said, 'I just never thought things would go this far. It's frightening.'

  'Yes,' admitted the boy. 'But we'll fight!'

  'Of course we'll fight! What is this evil Earthling's name?'

  The boy pulled a sheet of paper from his back pocket and examined it.

  'Nicola,' he answered. 'Nicola Berry.'

  1

  Nicola Berry had a problem.

  She needed to make a long-distance phone call.

  An extremely long-distance phone call.

  She needed to ring someone who lived on another planet.

  Unfortunately, whenever Nicola's mother opened the phone bill lately, she made a sound like she had a fishbone stuck in her throat. If an intergalactic phone call appeared on the bill she might stop breathing altogether.

  Nicola pondered her problem while she sliced a banana to put on top of her breakfast cereal. The house was still and silent. A shaft of summer sunlight was creeping its way across the kitchen floor. It was early Saturday morning and her brother and parents were still sound asleep. They wouldn't be up for hours, when they would appear rubbing their eyes and saying things like, 'You're up already? Why?'

  Eating her cereal at the kitchen table, Nicola studied the newspaper clipping her dad had pinned to the noticeboard. The headline read:

  NICOLA AND HER FRIENDS SAVE THE WORLD!

  She frowned. She still got the strangest feeling from seeing her name in a newspaper. Nicola read the first paragraph of the article again.

  Last week, Nicola Berry and a group of young friends she refers to as 'The Space Brigade' undertook a daring intergalactic mission to kill an unspeakably evil alien princess - Princess Petronella - who had been left in charge of the planet of Globagaskar while her parents were on holiday. The spoiled young princess had come up with a despicable plan to destroy Earth. Fortunately, Nicola and her young friends found out about the Princess's intentions. They travelled to Globagaskar by spaceship and kidnapped the Princess from her palace bedroom . . . Now the Princess is dead and Earth has been saved, thanks to the heroic efforts of 'The Space Brigade'.

  The newspaper reporter had got it wrong. Nicola and the Space Brigade had kidnapped the Princess and convinced her not to destroy Earth but they certainly hadn't killed her! The Princess was very much alive and kicking on the planet of Globagaskar.

  Actually, she was kicking all day long, according to her latest i-mail (intergalactic email - sent from the super-advanced computer in the Globagaskar Palace all the way through outer space and cyberspace to the Berry family's battered old computer in their living room). The Princess had i-mailed to say that her new hobby was kickboxing and she was spending hours practising on her poor guards.

  Without a doubt, travelling to Globagaskar and kidnapping the Princess had been the scariest thing Nicola had ever done. Not surprisingly, most people assumed Nicola was in no hurry to head off into outer space again. 'You probably want to put your feet up, eat popcorn and watch TV for the next twenty y
ears or so, hey, Nic?' her dad had said hopefully.

  Little did he know that Nicola was actually hoping for the Space Brigade to embark on its second intergalactic mission very soon.

  She put down her spoon and pulled a crumpled white card from her pocket to read it for about the twelve-hundredth time. It said:

  Dear Nicola,

  I understand you're the leader of a brigade of highly trained intergalactic freedom fighters and that you recently saved a planet by the name of EARTH.

  Our small but exquisite planet is currently facing grave danger of a rather unusual kind and we would like to engage your services. Payment would be both generous and delicious.

  If you are available and interested in taking on a new mission, please don't hesitate to call this number: 902856082484509342508905180891230943809421.

  We look forward with much anticipation to hearing from you,

  COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF,

  PLANET OF SHOBBLE

  Nicola looked longingly at the phone. If she didn't hurry up and ring him, the Commander might find another brigade of 'highly trained intergalactic freedom fighters'.

  Of course, the truth was that the members of the Space Brigade weren't exactly 'highly trained'. Nicola felt a flutter of fear as she considered the words 'grave danger'. Imagine if something happened to one of them and it was Nicola's fault. Everybody would hate her. She'd never be invited to another party for the rest of her life. Why was she even considering it? She put her hand over the card ready to tear it up but then her eye was caught by the promise that 'Payment would be both generous and delicious'. That sounded so tempting.

  Nicola's great-grandmother was turning one hundred years old in a few days' time and Nicola wanted to find her the perfect present. After all, not many people had been alive for a whole century. If they were paid with something delicious, Nicola could give it to Grammy. 'This is just a little something I picked up in outer space,' she could say casually.

  She looked down at her cereal.

  What should she do?

  She slapped her hand to her forehead.

  'It's pretty obvious,' she said out loud.

  'What's obvious?' said a voice, and Nicola got such a fright that she jumped up and sent her cereal bowl flying with her elbow.

  2

  'What are you two doing here?' asked Nicola.

  It was as though her best friends Katie Hobbs and Tyler Brown had materialised out of thin air. They were standing right in front of her wearing sunglasses and caps, with beach towels draped over their shoulders. Katie had leapt forward and caught Nicola's cereal bowl just before it landed on the floor.

  'We thought you might want to come to the pool with us,' Katie said. She took Nicola's cereal bowl to the sink, rinsed it out and put it in the dishwasher.

  'What's that you're reading?' asked Tyler.

  Nicola pushed the letter over to him. 'Read it for yourself. You too, Katie.'

  Katie stood next to Tyler and read over his shoulder.

  Tyler finished first and looked up. His eyes shone through his glasses and the tips of his ears glowed pink.

  'When are we going? Have you rung the Commander yet? Oh, this is just . . . this is just - I can't think of a word that's good enough!'

  'Stupendous?' suggested Nicola.

  'Yes, stupendous! What do you think, Katie?'

  'Ummm.' Katie pulled her long brown ponytail over her shoulder and chewed on the end. 'I guess.'

  'Great!' said Tyler. 'So, Nic, we've got to act fast.'

  'Wait a second.' Nicola studied Katie. 'I want to know what Katie really thinks.'

  Katie threw back her ponytail and chewed on her lip. She grabbed a cloth from the sink and began scrubbing furiously at the kitchen table. 'It's just that . . .'

  'What?' said Tyler.

  'It's just that it says "grave danger",' said Katie.

  'We don't have to do it,' said Nicola.

  'I want to do it but I don't want to do it,' said Katie. 'Our first mission was the best time I've had in my whole life, but it was also the worst time. Does that make sense?'

  'Yes,' said Nicola.

  'No,' said Tyler.

  'Anyway,' continued Katie. 'We don't have a choice - we've got to do it. They need us! All the poor people on their "small but exquisite" planet are depending on us!'

  Nicola felt guilty. All she'd thought about was how fun or scary the mission would be. She nodded seriously and frowned as if she'd been worried to death about the people of Shobble. 'Yes, I know,' she said. 'It's a big responsibility.'

  'So what did you mean before when you said that it was pretty obvious?' asked Tyler.

  'I realised I should just put it to the vote,' said Nicola. 'It has to be unanimous. Everyone in the Space Brigade has to want to go.'

  'Well, Sean will want to go,' said Tyler confidently.

  'That's true,' agreed Nicola. Her older brother had found it difficult to cope with normal life on Earth after their last mission. He was itching for another adventure. 'He'll probably complain that it doesn't sound dangerous enough.'

  'What about Greta?' asked Katie.

  'Oh, is she still in the Brigade?' asked Tyler. 'I mean, she sort of tricked us into letting her join in the first place.'

  'She did help with some things,' admitted Nicola. Greta had once been Nicola's Worst Enemy and she still wasn't her favourite person, but it didn't seem fair to leave her out after all they'd been through together.

  'She wasn't that bad,' said Katie. 'She doesn't mean to be so bossy and competitive. I kind of liked her at the end.'

  'Ye-es.' Nicola and Tyler gave each other doubtful looks. Sometimes Katie took being nice just a little too far.

  'And then there's Shimlara,' said Katie.

  Shimlara was their friend from the planet of Globagaskar. Her dad was Georgio Gorgioskio, the President of the Save the Little Earthlings Committee. It was thanks to Georgio that Nicola had discovered Princess Petronella's plan to destroy Earth. Shimlara had become a member of the Space Brigade when she offered to help the Brigade kidnap the Princess. Apart from the fact that she was six foot tall (the people of Globagaskar were nearly twice as tall as Earthlings) and knew how to read minds (a handy Globagaskarian skill!), she was pretty much like an ordinary Earthling girl.

  'She'll want to go.' Nicola, Tyler and Katie agreed.

  'It looks like we already know what the vote will be,' said Tyler.

  Nicola picked up the letter again. 'I still need to call the Commander. How much do you think it would cost to phone another planet?'

  At that moment Sean walked into the kitchen yawning and rubbing his eyes. 'Why are you three up so early?' he said predictably. He opened the fridge door and stood there for a few seconds, before turning around slowly. 'Did you just say something about ringing up another planet?'

  'Yep.' Nicola waved the letter at him. 'The Space Brigade might be going on another mission.'

  'What?' Sean slammed the fridge door shut and grabbed the letter from Nicola's hand. He read it quickly. 'YES! So have you called yet? Why not? Too scared, eh?'

  'How do you think Mum and Dad would like it if I called another planet?'

  'Oh. Good point.'

  They were all silent as they tried to think of a solution. Suddenly, the phone rang.

  Katie, who was the nearest, picked it up. Speaking in a bubbly, professional voice, entirely unlike her normal voice, she said, 'Good morning! This is the Berry residence. How may I help you today?' Katie had learned how to answer phones from her mother, who was a receptionist at a doctor's office. If Sean had answered it, he would have said, 'Yo,' which always caused the person on the other end to say, 'Ummm, pardon?'

  After a pause, Katie said, 'Nicola Berry? I'll just check if she's available. May I ask who is calling?'

  Sean snorted.

  'Shhh.' Tyler pointed a finger at Katie. Her eyes had become very wide.

  'What?' said Nicola. 'Who is it?'

  Katie handed the phone to Nicola and sai
d, 'It's the Commander-in-Chief of the planet of Shobble, calling for Miss Nicola Berry.'

  3

  'Hello?' said Nicola nervously into the phone. 'This is Nicola speaking.'

  Tyler was dancing silently around the kitchen, punching the air like he'd just won a boxing match, while Katie was beaming and giving her two thumbs up. Sean was busy writing on a piece of paper: DON'T MESS UP!

  Nicola tried to ignore them all and listen to the person on the end of the phone. His voice was warm, deep and sweet, like honey drizzled on toast.

  'I do hope you don't mind me calling you. Is this, perhaps, an inconvenient time for a chat?'

  'Oh yes, I mean no, um, this is a very convenient time,' said Nicola. Pull yourself together, she told herself sternly. You've got to sound like the leader of a Space Brigade, not a bumbling idiot wearing an old summer nightie with pictures of koala bears all over it.

  'My name is Enrico Aloisio. Did you receive my letter, Nicola? May I call you "Nicola"?' asked the Commander. 'Please do call me Enrico.'

  'Yes, of course, ah, Enrico, you may call me Nicola,' said Nicola grandly, in her poshest voice. 'I did receive your letter. In fact I was just discussing it with some of the, ah, senior members of the Space Brigade.'

  She glanced up to see Katie, Tyler and Sean all stifling their laughter over her posh voice.

  'My timing was fortuitous then,' said Enrico.

  'Indeed,' agreed Nicola, although she had no idea what 'fortuitous' meant.

  'And tell me, have you decided whether you would be willing to help us?'

  Nicola didn't hesitate. 'Absolutely!' Then she added quickly, 'Depending, of course, on what the mission actually involves.'

  Enrico said, 'Of course, of course! May I suggest you drop by for dinner and a briefing? I assume you have your own transport?'

  'Yes, we do,' said Nicola proudly, thinking of the Mini Easy-Ride Spaceship that Shimlara had left behind with Tyler after their last mission.

  'Excellent! Shall we say 6 pm?'

  Nicola's mouth dropped open. Did he mean 6 pm today?

  'Well, it's been a pleasure speaking with you,' said Enrico, without waiting for an answer. 'I do look forward to meeting you. Oh, I'll have someone pick you up at the SpacePort, of course. Cheerio!'

  The line went dead. Slowly Nicola hung up the phone. My goodness, she thought. What have I done?

  'Well?' said Sean.

 
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