You almost feel like skipping as you make your way along the corridor.
But mindful of your new-found dignity, you limit yourself to humming a
merry tune. At last life is good! You have a new rank, and a
shape-shifting girlfriend waiting for you at home.
|Artwork © Ulysses Ai|
With the retrieval of the Golden Crate and the rescue of his beloved
daughter, the grateful merchant prince gave you a promotion to the
position of ensign in his trading fleet. Unfortunately, as part of
your new duties you had to leave Amorphonon 12 that night for the far
side of the galaxy.
A sceptical part of you suggests that the merchant prince is not as happy
with his daughter pairing up with a human as you like to imagine; but
since you really like to imagine that he is deliriously happy about it,
such negative thinking never gets very far.
You enter the bridge thirty seconds early for your watch. The Amorphonon
ensign in the command chair lifts himself up and gives you a nod as he
leaves. While on duty, the shape-shifters wear humanoid shapes like a
uniform, allowing you to interact with them in some semblance of normality.
Smiling with great satisfaction, you slip into the chair. Although this is
only your first watch (1:30 to 1:45 AM), it is a beginning. One day, you
could be captain!
Since the ship is travelling through the void of hyperspace, there is no
real need for anyone at all to watch the fully-automated bridge. Even so,
on the slight, off-chance that there was some emergency, you would be
fully in charge of the ship. At least until a higher-ranking officer
(i.e. anyone) came in through the door.
You settle into the captain's chair, and after taking a moment to let the
satisfaction seep through your body, you pull out a glass tablet and bring
up the latest issue of Celebrity News. You gasp at reports that the
blue-skinned, sextuple-breasted supermodel Umumoolomoot has had cosmetic
surgery on somewhere between two and five of her assets. The former best
friend of the maid who worked at a hotel where Umumoolomoot's personal
assistant's accountant almost stayed for one night last year is the source,
and you "ooo" at the possibilities!
The next article reveals that the Grumple Twins, famous for getting ten
songs into the galactic top ten, might not actually be twins! You squeal
with delight as you read the testimony from the sister of a woman who
shared an escalator with the Twins' former manager's cousin's dog's
You then cast a critical eye of the fashions at the Red Carpet event held
last month to honour celebrities for being famous. You admire some of
the stunning costumes, and shake you head at others. Some people have no
business being famous; strutting about and demanding that people look at
them and buy magazines with stories about their lives in them. It is at
this point that one of the consoles starts sounding a warning tone, and
some red lights start flashing.
Hurrying over, you see that it is the helm. A potential obstacle has been
"Wa?" you say. Hyperspace isn't so much a plane of existence as it is a
state of being your ship elevates itself into. That is: each vessel
creates its own hyperspace. Consequently, the void should be empty,
thereby qualifying for the designation void. At least, that's how you
understand it; hopefully the fast food restaurant got the information for
its placemat from a reliable source.
You peer at the screen on the console. The dot that is the potential
obstacle is many times larger than the dot that represents your ship.
Furthermore, it is circling about as if wandering aimlessly. Suddenly,
it seems to detect your ship and darts towards it.
"Computer! Forward view!" you command. The glass wall that is the front
of the bridge lights up, displaying the swirling luminous greyness of
hyperspace. You see a dark smudge steadily appear, and then something
breaks through the mist. You blink as the enormous fish head waggles
forward and the cavernous maw opens. Before you can say Wa!, the ship
is swallowed whole by the massive beast, and the screen goes black.
Seconds later, a quaking knocks you to the floor...