Meanwhile, in the hangar bay where Flyro's spaceship was held in place by a tractor beam, Trakgharin and a team of Schliphargons had finished going through it with their handheld scanner devices. "Any sign of the Orionite traitor that stole this ship?" Trakgharin asked.
One of the other Schliphargons, Lazghokar, shook his head as he looked at his scanner a final time. "Negative, Trakgharin. Any organic traces he may have left have most likely been vaporized. It is possible that he had died on the planet that those Smurf beings have come from."
The other Schliphargons reported the same thing, leaving Trakgharin scratching his goatee.
"I'm not convinced that this p'targaphne could so easily have traded places with those blue-green planet beings that our captain is interested in," Trakgharin snorted. "The blood of this Orionite still reeks in this vessel, I can feel it. Keep searching and report your final data to me so I can submit it to Heftargan."
"As you command," the other Schliphargons answered, bowing their heads before returning to their duties.
Meanwhile, Flyro had secretly jettisoned its portable robot unit from the vessel and entered a nearby ventilation shaft. He had to find where the Smurfs are and rescue them.
Heftargan stood before his captain on the main bridge. They spoke to each other in their native language. "What is the meaning of disobeying my direct order?" Cullivargh demanded. "I thought I told you that these blue beings are to be kept in a holding cell until I decide upon what to do with them, not you!"
"Many regrets, Captain," Heftargan responded. "However, as the leader of the Talektharkon, I felt it was my duty to this ship, the captain, and the empire to test this star-marked blue being for his warrior skill and prowess, not to mention his instinct to kill. Obviously, this p'targaphne was too weak and vulnerable when he showed no desire to kill his opponents, even in the training."
"Next time you disobey an order like that, Heftargan, I will personally have you stripped of your honor and have Vanegkhar replace you as the leader of the Talektharkon," Cullivargh scolded, his own native words addressing his anger fluently, to say the least. "The being called Empath Smurf could be valuable in helping us understand the various technologies we have acquired from other worlds, assuming what Dablargh has reported about his abilities is accurate. He could be more cooperative than the telekinetic being from the Orion sector who had somehow managed to escape our ship with his own vessel...the same vessel he and his companions have boarded."
"Soft-bellied beings like those do not deserve the liberty of life such as the one you'd grant this Empath," Heftargan shot back. "Their fate is to be used as labor fodder and then disposed of when they are too weak to continue. Or has the great Cullivargh forgotten what it is to be Schliphargon?"
"I have not forgotten my warrior honor and pride, Heftargan," Cullivargh roared, "but you have forgotten your place in making the decisions. You are to make sure this Empath's heart is still beating long enough for him to consider helping us with our lack of understanding the technology on this ship, even if he must do it for the sake of his companion's continued existences. If this Empath is killed for any reason, your own heart will be cut out and roasted in the fires of the reactor core. Do I make myself clear about that?!?"
Heftargan nodded, realizing the threat in Cullivargh's words. "My actions shall state my honor to you, Captain," he responded grimly.
After Cullivargh had dismissed him, Heftargan had sour thoughts about his own captain that made him believe that the Schliphargon empire was being lead into weakness and vulnerability by letting Empath and his companions live for the sake of gaining knowledge from them. He promised himself that someday only he would lead the Schliphargon empire, and then he would show the galaxy what it truly means to fear a Schliphargon.
Back on Earth, while the other Smurfs were gathered in Tapper’s tavern listening to Orbit playing his music, Smurfette was looking up at the night sky with Polaris Psyche and Duncan McSmurf from the watchtower near the center of the village. "Oh, dear," she gasped suddenly.
"Lassie, are you all right?" Duncan asked, sounding concerned.
"Smurfette, what is wrong?" Polaris asked, sharing the same sentiment.
"I don't know, Polaris," Smurfette answered, shaking her head. "I suddenly smurfed the feeling that Empath got hurt somewhere up there in space."
"This one doesn't see how you could sense that at all, Smurfette, since this one can tell you were not born or created with a third eye," Polaris reminded her.
"I know that," Smurfette said. "But something inside me smurfs that Empath is in pain. I'm surprised you can't smurf with your third eye what Empath's smurfing through up there."
"Smurfette, you should know that there are limits as to how far our abilities as Psyches can extend beyond ourselves," Polaris mentioned. "Generations ago, the Psyche Master had sent eight brave Psyches up into the sky to see how far they could fly. Unfortunately, those eight Psyches never returned alive, for their bodies became like miniature falling stars. Even to this day, the Psyche Master grieves for their loss and commemorates their passing with the celebration of the eight stars."
"Quite a fanciful story for a people that don't even celebrate holidays, laddie," Duncan said.
"The Psyches do not 'celebrate holidays' as your people and the humans do, fellow Duncan, but we do honor the passage of life from its emergence to its termination," Polaris said. "The Psyches believe in the idea of their spirits joining with the Ancestors of Psychelia so that they will be guides unto future generations that will carry on the ideals of the Psyche Master, to whatever end he may dictate for us."
“I just hope that Empath doesn’t besmurf like one of those Psyches, Polaris,” Smurfette stated, her eyes turning toward the stars again.
“Empath has been trained well to survive in whatever difficult situation he may be facing,” Polaris assured Smurfette. “Whatever the condition he and his fellow Smurfs are in right now, this one is certain that Empath is already in the process of finding a means to escape.”
"Aye, Empath's got the spirit of a McSmurf in him, lassie," Duncan said. "He'll smurf the boys safely back home and live to smurf the tale of their adventure in that star-smurfed place up there."
"Empath...please smurf to us! Are you all right?"
He heard a familiar voice pulling him out of the blackness that he had slipped into. He slowly opened his eyes and saw Handy and Dreamy standing over him. He must be back in the holding cell.
"This smurf is still functioning, Handy...though not without some difficulty," Empath groaned, trying to pick himself up. He felt bruised and bleeding, but fortunately nothing was broken.
Handy and Dreamy helped Empath up onto his feet. "Have either of you been able to study this cell to find any possible way we can escape this imprisonment?" he asked.
Handy shook his head. "It's like you said, Empath...the technology of this ship is far too advanced for me to smurf any weaknesses that we can smurf to our advantage."
"There's a grate right below this bunk," Dreamy reported, "but neither of us can find anything to smurf it off the wall." He started to break into tears. "Oh, Empath, I'm so sorry I've smurfed us into this mess. If I hadn't been so eager to smurf off into the stars when I saw that smurfship...!"
"It's okay, Dreamy," Empath consoled, forgetting his own physical pains to comfort his fellow Smurf. "Neither of us are holding you solely responsible for this unfortunate circumstance. Your desire for travelling into the universe being fulfilled like this has now made us aware of the dangers that exist in this region beyond our own world. A much worse circumstance would have taken place if we had all ignored the presence of Flyro's spaceship landing in our forest."
"But who's smurfing to stop the Schliphargons from smurfing over our world now, Empath?" Dreamy asked.
"At the very least, Dreamy, we are here," Handy answered. "And if we can find a way to smurf out of his cell, Empath could smurf control over this ship and prevent those bullies from smurfing anything for their empire."
Empath was going to say something in response to Handy's comment when his minds-eye sensed something. "There's a weakness in the force field forming right where that grate is," he related, folding up the bunk as though expecting something to emerge from it.
The three of them watched as something had cut its way around the grate like a hot knife through butter. Then the metal grate fell to the floor and they saw Flyro emerge from the hole.
"Flyro, what are you smurfing here?" Handy asked, happy to see him again.
"I know everything there is about this ship...floor layouts, air shafts, power conduits, and anything else pertinent," Flyro answered. "I have managed to interrupt the field in this sector for a short while, but we need to leave before they notice the interruption in the force field."
Empath decided not to question that. "You and Handy go ahead first into the shaft," Empath told Dreamy. "This smurf will be your rear guard, and Flyro will follow us."
Empath watched as Dreamy entered the ventilation shaft, then Handy, and then he entered it himself. Flyro was the last. He helped Empath seal the grate back shut behind them.