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THE VOYAGER ARRIVES
Deva flipped through the screens of his holo-display, idly searching for some loose end that he couldn’t quite remember. Seated on a sterile table nearby was the strange alien artifact he had been studying for several weeks now. He glanced up at it in discontent. This stupid-looking thing had been unusually resistant to his fastidious research. Even now, he was still trying to decode its secrets. He had made a lucky breakthrough only yesterday, and today would yield the results (if there even were any). Deva began to look back through his notes just as his junior researcher returned from the nearby storage facility.
“Lorra’n, so good to have you back,” he murmured to himself—for a scientist, Lorr was not very perceptive. “Did you retrieve the...” Deva glanced back at his notes. “‘Record player?’”
Lorr rolled his eyes. “Yes, I got the record player.” The junior researcher dropped the delicate piece of machinery on the least-cluttered surface within arms’ length.
Deva was about to rebuke his subordinate for carelessness when a little red light on the wall began to blink. Deva whipped his head around in terror. “Oh shit!” he said, “the captain’s coming!” He rushed around the lab, gathering loose data tapes and instruments in a desperate attempt at tidying up. Lorr watched on with bemused disinterest.
The pressure door unsealed, and in strode the foreboding captain of the Space Frigate Hellfire 3. Deva snapped to attention. “Head Researcher Deva Tin-Alai, Class X, reporting for inspection sir!” he barked. The captain levied his stern expression across the laboratory. “Don’t you people ever tidy?” he growled.
Deva didn’t answer, save for a strained “uh—”. But the captain didn’t dwell on the state of the lab. He strutted officiously up to the alien artifact. “Status report!” he shouted with audible impatience.
The head researcher paused just long enough to open his holo-display. “Yes, uh, progress on Investigation D-2527, codename ‘Voyager’...” he muttered. He began to read his own written case report aloud. “The mysterious alien machine found floating in nearby allied space, transmitting a weak broadcast signal to an unknown star system. Translation protocols have determined the name of the probe to be ‘Voyager,’ indicating a society of mercantile exploration. Research has produced minimal information regarding...”
The captain cleared his throat loudly and then quickly interjected. “Have we found the coordinates of Voyager’s home planet? I’m under a lot of pressure for another conquest. Imperial command built this warship for destroying planets, and that’s what I intend to do!”
Deva gave a curt nod. “Yes, captain, we are closing in on the coordinates now.” The captain glanced in Deva’s direction. “So,” he said, “you were able to decode the inscriptions on the golden plate?” Deva shook his head. “No, my captain, the inscriptions turned out to be convoluted scribbling. Except for the drawings of course, which we determined to be naked depictions of the planet’s inhabitants, the so-called ‘human race.’” The captain laughed a derisive laugh. “Gross,” he said.
“But we did make a breakthrough yesterday,” said Deva. “There was a hidden compartment within the gold disk.” The captain nodded. “And what was in the compartment?” he asked. “Another gold disk, actually,” said Deva.
The captain rolled his eyes. “This is becoming tiresome,” he sighed. “Yes,” said Deva, “we were all very annoyed to find it. But it turns out this second disk was some sort of long-playing recording. We’ve already played the first side yesterday. It was mostly music and aliens jabbering.” Deva nervously flipped through his holo-notes. “But we suspect the second side will have the coordinates you’re looking for.”
Suddenly there was a jarring shatter from the other side of the lab. The captain and head researcher turned in anger and mortification (respectively). Junior researcher Lorr stood with his hands empty, a bioluminescent cobalt blush rapidly spreading across his face. At his feet were the jagged remnants of the shattered golden record.
The captain drew himself up in rage. “What the hell?!” he bellowed. “Did he just break the record? Who is this goddam moron?!” Deva grimaced and held his four hands up in warning. “Captain, this is Lorra’n Silvix. You know, as in, Grand Vizier of Transportation Silvix?” The captain rubbed his temples. “Great, the Vizier needs a job for his cousin and now I’m out of the job,” he said. Lorr shrugged with a lazy smirk on his face.
The captain decided to yell some more, if only to calm himself down. “Son,” he shouted at the junior researcher, “Do you realize you’ve just saved the whole human race, you dumb son of a bitch?!”
Lorr continued shrugging. “Hey, I did you a favor. That album sucked,” he said.
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