Author Topic: 2020 (name a WIP)  (Read 785 times)

O Senhor Leetz

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2020 (name a WIP)
« on: January 12, 2017, 01:10:31 AM »
IC: Gliese 832 c, 2376CE
Till took a final drag of his cigarette and flicked what remained towards the ground. He looked at the smoldering butt and silently laughed two puffs of smoke from his nose; that such a gross little thing would take him so far from Home. 16.87 light years and 26 real years, 11 reals month, 2 real weeks, and a few real days. All that distance, all that time, and about 10.44 sextillian American-made Marlboro Red cigarettes, a number so obscene and nauseatingly impossible that Till felt uneasy thinking about it. The same went for the size of the container-vessel they he piloted. The Elise-Marie, Till named her after a woman from Marseilles who he used to see, before becoming unbound. The Elise-Marie was a hollow galleon, a vessel the size of super-city. From a distance, she looked like a piece of long driftwood.  Up-close it was an asymmetric riot of delicate curves, deep ridges, and dull bronze. Till had traded a mint condition series of Harry Potter, signed by JK Rowling, for her - all 1,221,985.2 km3 of her - from a maltese art collecter at the mining facility on Wolf 1061b that the unbound had taken to calling Serpent. He had more than a few contacts, some even reputable, say that the ship was of sphinx design. A friend he had made, Paul or something like that, when he was on Serpent had explained over drinks that the sphinx are, or were, no one seemed quite sure if they were still around, excessively aesthetic creatures.

Till was 277 years old, 232 of them in stasis. He had had the Elise-Marie for 238 years. She was a good ship. No weaponry, but she did have a legion of small, spider-like drones to maintain her. Nevertheless, the ship at times made him uncomfortable, like she was watching, listening. She anticipated things better than Till liked sometimes. He knew that she wasn't one of the so-called infinity-craft, those billion year-old ships, armed with terrifying intelligence and detached from the known laws of space and time. He had seen one once.

He had made a stop near 55 Cancri at one of the dancer world-ships - the Jade Lattice if he recalled correctly - to replenish their supplies, check communications, and prepare for their next bout of stasis. While waiting for the dancer authorities to process their documentation and prepare documentation he had been watching the growing belt of ice and dust that had started to grow around the gravity of the Jade Lattice. A bright, fast metallic thing had caught his eye. The enhanced view screens showed a lithe craft, like a long needle that bulged ever-so-slightly at the end. The ship was unblemished silver, not a single line, rivet, or porthole could be seen on it's surface. The Elise-Marie had then informed Till that the ship was bound for a massive block of ice. It was large, twice as big as his ship. Yet there was no impact. No tell-tale flash of an exploding reactor, not even a cloud of debris. Till knew there were plenty of ships in the void that could plow through something that big. It would take a while, and would be more akin to the blow of a hammer, spaced over hours, but they could do it. There were no entry or exit craters. This ship though, passed through the ice without a trace, like it was there but it wasn't. He had then watched the ship in awe until it disappeared into the void...

A sharp knock brought him back from his day dream. It was his second, Ahmed. He was a good man, reliable if not personable. He was also a Muslim, and took the first chance he could to get away from Home. When they first left in 2097, the powers that were didn't take to kindly to anyone who was not a professed Christian. Volunteering to become unbound was, in all reality, a death sentence. The state was happy to sign you up. It was the end of life as you knew it. The Lorentz effect saw to that. Time dilation made no exceptions. Everyone they knew was long dead.

"They're here," said Ahmed.

A slight shudder throughout the ship doubly informed Till that the frogs had docked. Their scientific name is ranae matutinus, the overly generous "dawn frog." As Gliese 832 c, or Moor, was tidally locked, the frogs inhabited the ring where dusk and dawn met and were eternal. The soft light near the airlock gently shifted from a milky blue to a rich orange - the sphinx took beautiful little detail into account - and the portal, like a brass sphincter, slowly began to peel itself open.

Two shapes waddled and one shape walked out from the dank mist the choked the other side. Till was glad Elise-Marie had seen it wise to project a barrier field where the two ships conjoined. Occasionally her omniscience was a blessing. Whatever cocktail of gases filled the other ship. Till was sure that it was not something he was meant to breath. The two waddlers were frogs. Two meter tall piles of glistening skin. Two shiny eyes sat on top, with a mouth not far below. They each had two pairs of arms, each incredibly spindly in regards to their corpulent bodies. One pair hung from near their heads, the other sprouted from their chest, resting upon their bellies. Till knew the frogs were dangerously smart, but their physical form did not show it.

The other shape was different. It was bipedal thing, mostly composed of cartilage and sinew. It had an unnerving resemblance to a man. It's head, a tower of bone and ligaments, riddle with dozens of holes. It's articulated chest heaved heavily, deeply, and quickly. Several red metallic tubes weaved their way through white carapace: breathing device, thought Till. It was a talker, a fantastically old and long-lived race, and Till had no doubt that the one before him was no less than a thousand years old. The unbound found them terrifying.

Yet, they wielded much power. Not as mercenaries or scientists, but as interpreters. Their ability to hear, project, and mimic an unfathomable number of sounds made them integral to interstellar trade, politics, and war. Very few races heard the same wavelengths, let alone made similar sounds. They were a ghoulish necessity. The frogs could not produce the sounds of English (or Mandarin or Spanish or any human tongue for that matter) and Till surely could not produce the nauseating burbs and slurps that formed the heart of the frog language.

Yet, frogs and humans were not entirely alien to each other. A physiological and psychological weakness for tobacco made them strange bed fellows, like two drinkers, huddled outside the galactic bar, pulling drag after drag. In the maddening flurry of interstellar communication occurred after September 12, 2020, the frogs had sent a delegation Home. While learning more about humanity and acquiring the entire discographies of Huey Lewis and the News, Robert Palmer, and the J. Giells Band, the frogs also became irreversible hooked on tobacco and immediately purchased half that years harvest. Back in 2349, near Barnard's Star, Till had traded the shipment of gold and uranium in the Elise-Marie for an ungodly amount of smokes. It was a good deal, Till didn't want to go Home and the other ship didn't want to go to Moor.

One of the frogs shook violently, belching a series of wet sounds. The talker than nodded, bowed to the frog, bowed to Till, and spoke. It's voice was smooth and melodious, like a clarinet. It spoke the King's English.

"Good evening gentlemen, my employers wish to know if you are ready to discuss the terms of the transaction..."
« Last Edit: January 12, 2017, 06:37:42 PM by O Senhor Leetz »
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