Space Madness: Episode VI


Paps looked up at an unfamiliar room. It was very bright, but none of the light seemed to be coming from anywhere. He was lying on the floor, unable to move. A tall, alien figure moved into his view. The light that seemed to come from nowhere bent around the figure, creating a shimmering halo and obscuring any identifiable features. The figure was carrying a box in its tentacle-like hands. The floor began to shake slightly. Some lights on the box started flashing, and then the box spoke in a seductive female voice. “We have a mission for you.”

Paps bolted awake and fell forward onto the floor of the bridge. He had fallen asleep in the Space Captain’s Chair again. He made a mental note to find other places on the ship to sleep, maybe even make a tour of it.

“Nightmares again?”  Paps had been trying to avoid Hal ever since he blew up the space station. Every time something happened, there was Hal, pointing out an alien device that had slipped his notice that miraculously saved the day. Paps didn’t want any more intervention. He was sick of it. He just wanted to get back to the Orion Colony, tell them about what happened and let them deal with the matter so he could retire in peace.

“You can’t ignore me forever, Captain. I go where you go.”

Paps slowly got up to his feet and glared at Hal. “Maybe a nightmare, maybe a memory, maybe both.”

Hal looked very interested by this. Then again, Hal was very interested by a lot of things. Only a week before he managed to spend an entire hour commenting on the similarity between the rhythms of the engines and the music of various alien cultures. This was a different kind of interest, though. This was the kind of interest that Paps had come to dread, the kind of interest that always foreshadowed completely insane events. “Are you starting to remember what happened with the Duners?”

Paps needed some tea to calm his nerves. What he really wanted was whiskey, but there wasn’t any on the ship, so he settled for tea. He slowly walked over to the Space Water Dispenser. “Just bits and pieces. They had me locked up in a room for a long time. They spoke to me using that translator I used with the Remotes.”

“What did they say?”

Paps took a sip of his tea. It tasted like hot water, which is what it really was. “Just that they have a mission for me. I imagine that mission had something to do with me blowing up that space station.”

“Do you think your mission is complete?”

Paps shot an angry look at Hal. “Oh no you don’t. Every time you throw me a curveball question like that, something bizarre happens. I’m going back to Orion, to talk to human beings again, maybe even to recover what’s left of my sanity. No more side trips!”

“I can assure you, that is where you are going. Just know that you may not be able to stay long.”

Paps started breathing heavily. He felt the need to compose himself once again. “I don’t understand. What else could I do for them?”

“I don’t know. But they upgraded almost everything on this ship. This is now the most advanced, and the most powerful, ship ever flown by a human. I don’t think a gift like that would be given for a single mission.”

Hal was right. Everything on the ship worked better than before the crash on the Duners’ planet. The propulsion systems worked better, the hull was stronger. There wasn’t a single minor system that needed repair or maintenance. More than that, there were entirely new systems that Paps hadn’t been able to identify. The positron gun was more powerful than any weapon fired by any human ever. The ship should have run out of fuel months ago, but there was still enough left to make a trip halfway across the galaxy. “Yea, well they didn’t give the tea any flavor.”

Hal smiled. “Might I suggest that you learn as much about the new systems as you can before you reach Orion? It might shed light on what your mission actually is. Oh, and it will give you something to do.”

“I want no part of this mission, Hal, whatever it might be. I want off. I want to go retire to someplace quiet. I have had enough of these aliens controlling my actions. The techs on Orion can learn all they want about this ship when I get there. They can mount a defense against the Remotes if they decide to retaliate. I’m done.”

Hal moved uncomfortably close to Paps’ face. “You may not have any choice in the matter, Captain. Better to be prepared than to be caught with your pants down again.”

Hal continued with his annoying habit of being right. At the very least, the techs at Orion would want reports and schematics of the upgraded systems when he docked. They might not believe what had happened. No human had ever encountered an alien race on a mission before, let alone two different races on the same trip. Most of the planets colonized to this point didn’t have any life more complex than bacteria. Many believed that humans were the only intelligent species in the galaxy. This was a belief Paps had held before his current mission. How was he going to convince anyone that not only is there other intelligent life out there, but humanity was now at war with it? The new systems were the only evidence to that effect. “Alright, I’ll study the new systems, just so I can report how they work. Once I reach Orion, I’m done.”

“Excellent! Finally, something fun to do around here! Cue the montage music, maestro, we’re going to learn!”



One Response to “Space Madness: Episode VI”

  1. Surely (I know, don’t call you that) the magnificent new space ship should have a means of providing whisky to the captain! (And whisky is spelled correctly).

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