The Captain and the Queen
by D.A. Madigan
part 1 of 4
Jason sat at his computer keyboard, tediously tap-tap-tapping away with the hand that wasn’t in the cast. Frickin’ crazy ass drivers who didn’t watch where they were going. Frickin’ insurance assholes who wouldn’t pay for his physical therapy. He sat there, slowly and laboriously answering his email, cursing the world at large, unaware of the horrors that slunk through the nighttime shadows just outside his bedroom window.
“Sssarrr ooesssa ssaalllik assllaanokin Ssoorta?” hissed the green scaly humanoid from the darkness of Jason’s front yard. The crystal the creature held in its clawlike hand was a disgusting shade of pus-yellow, and pulsated in a nauseating fashion within the creature’s webbed digits. After a second, a voice responded, in the pleasant tones of a human female. “Steen hyek alto dossin,” it purred warmly. Either speaker could have used standard English, or any of several other human tongues, but there was greater security in speaking Lemurian. The only living creatures on the planet that understood Lemurian were the Ool and their Queen.
Obediently, the Ool watching Jason through his bedroom window scuttled closer to the side of the house. The Ool are a swift, stealthy species, cunning and well versed in deceit and treachery. Offsetting this is the fact that they are a race of terrible cowards who can generally be bested in a straight up fight by an average human ten-year old. The Ool assigned to watch Jason was very aware that its life hinged on Jason continuing to be ignorant of his own true nature. Should the cloak of amnesia fall away from Jason’s intellect and the Hierophant awaken, the Ool’s death was as certain as it would be slow and excruciating. Worst of all was the fact that the Ool had no way of knowing for certain that this had not already happened. The human wizard could be shamming to lure him into an already laid ward spell; if so, it would doubtless be triggered any second now...
The Ool breathed a raspy sigh of relief as he reached the side of the human dwelling without incident. The mammaloid must still be laboring under the spell laid on him by the Queen so many sun-turnings ago. It had been very sloppy of the Ool’s nest-clan to lose track of this particularly noxious human-thing for so long, but now they had located the creature once again, and soon, they would return him to the Queen and regain her favor.
The Ool elongated its serpentine neck, stretching inhumanly to peer through the strange flat panes of warped mineral dust that the mammaloids filled their wallholes with. Its slitted serpentine eyes widened. This Jason thing was huge, even for his ilk. His corpulent corpus would feed a nest-clan’s egglings for a week...! But necessity forbade killing him except after the proper ceremonial.
Reluctantly, the Ool retracted its venom-fangs and instead drew a prepared vapor-egg from its belly pouch. The fumes of the vapor-egg would stun a herd of rutting mammaloids. Now to shatter the clear-stuff and make the throw — by the time the Jason-thing awakened, he would be bound to the Black Rock again, deep within the earth, safe until the Serpent Star rose once more and the sacrifice could be done!
Jason’s nose itched. He looked up from his computer, his good hand coming up to scratch beside his left nostril. He had the strangest sensation of being watched...
Abruptly, the room around him dissolved in a shower of golden sparks.
Just as abruptly, the sparkling golden haze surrounding him formed into different shapes and patterns, before fading away to reveal... a set from his favorite TV show, Space: The Final Frontier...?
What the HELL...?
Jason stared around in bemusement. He’d never actually visited a Space: The Final Frontier set, of course, but this sure looked like one... to be specific, it looked exactly like the teleporter room from the very first S:TFF series, initially shot and broadcast in the early 1960s, perpetually in syndication on late night cable ever since. Weird, boxy machinery, made of a mixture of plastics and metals, that was strangely quaint and futuristic at the same time. Silently blinking lights in the wall panels. He glanced down; yes, he was standing squarely on a grouping of concentric metal rings inset in the platform; there were several other such rings arrayed in a geometrical grid around him.
Across the room was a console, but no one was behind it. To the right of the console was a classic Space: The Final Frontier internal door; it was rectangular and split down the middle into two halves which Jason would whooosh open obediently at his approach.
He stepped down from the platform and crossed to the console. There were strips of blinking lights and metal slide-levers similar to the tonal balance levers on a 1970s stereo system. To one side was a simple solenoid switch. Jason’s eyebrows twitched.
“What the hell,” he said, and flicked the switch. Immediately, a cold voice said “Working... inquiry?”
Doesn’t sound at all like whatshername... the original S:TFF creator’s wife, Jason noted to himself. All true Space: The Final Frontier fans knew that she... Marjorie Barry, that was her name... had been involved in some way in the first three versions of the show, from the initial pilot featuring Captain Christian Packer, where she had played his second in command, known only as Number 2, through the 80s follow up to the original S:TFF, Space: The New Wave, where she had had an occasional recurring guest star role. In the first S:TFF, she had lent her voice to the semi-autonomous artificial intelligence program that ran all the future starships’ computer banks.
“Uh, yeah,” he said. “What the hell is going on here?”
Back on Earth, the Ool was blocks away from Jason’s house, crouched down in a storm drain, staring around in terror. The failure, although inexplicable, was complete. The Ool had made a lightning fast search of the human’s reeking den, slithering like a king cobra from one chamber of the monkey-warren to another, forked ophidian tongue waving through the air to catch the distinct human stench... and found nothing. The Jason creature had simply vanished away. The Queen would be furious. If she laid hands on the Ool, extinction was certain. But perhaps, if the Ool could find a sewer leading out into a large body of salt water, it could lose itself there...
A shadow of hideous coldness fell across the Ool. It hissed in fear and attempted to lunge away, but paralysis had already taken hold of its serpentine form. The shadow swallowed it whole.
Seconds later, the shadow subsided in another place entirely, leaving the stunned Ool lying in a twisted posture on the floor. The Ool’s eyes slowly focused. The black sandy floor was warm and comfortable. All around, it could hear the hissing of Ancient Lemurian, the scratchy sound of slithering scales... the Ool quailed. Had it turned its head, it knew it would have seen the ancient black stone of the Queen’s egg-shaped throne. But it dared not turn its head.
“Well,” came the pleasant, sweet tones of the Queen’s voice. “It seems you have failed me, little serpent.”
“In the event that the Captain failed to record a log entry for a certain predetermined time period following temporal transition,” the coldly mechanical voice stated, “automatic programs were initiated to sensor pinpoint a particular human of this space-time era and beam him aboard the Venture. The ship is then to be placed at this human’s disposal. That is all that this program is aware that is the hell going on.”
Jason stared around in dawning wonder. “You’re trying to tell me that this is actually the Alliance Star Cruiser Venture? Commanded by Captain Jarius Adam Kane? Pulsar class starship of the United Alliance of Intelligent Life Bearing Worlds? Which valiantly hurtles across the trackless void of infinity where no living being has ventured before?”
“Actually,” the computer replied drily, “I have made no attempt to communicate any of that to you.”
Jason waved his arms in the air maniacally. “That’s insane! The Venture is a fictional creation! None of this is real!”
Abruptly, Jason realized what he was doing. Waving his armS around maniacally... striding around the room shouting at a disembodied voice... “Uh... I’m... fixed? How did THAT happen?”
The computerized voice sounded actually bored. “Standard teleporter programming causes reintegration of the basic pattern in an optimized form. All defects and injuries are corrected to programmed ideals. This is normal operating procedure.”
Jason’s eyebrows rose. “You don’t do that in the TV show!” he exclaimed. Jason recalled with some chagrin certain arguments he’d had with a friend of his over precisely this point. His friend had claimed that with teleportation technology as advanced as that which was casually used on the TV show, there would be no need of medical science... you could simply cycle any injured or otherwise afflicted person through a teleporter console, reduce them to energy, and reconfigure them in their ideal, uninjured form. Jason had argued vociferously that it wasn’t necessarily so. He certainly hoped his friend never heard about this...!
Jason paced around the room for a few minutes. Most likely circumstance: he’d taken a few too many of his Percosets and was currently whacked out of his everlovin’ brain. Lying in his bed in a delirious opiate induced stupor, raving about his favorite TV show. So, he might as well enjoy it while he was here. “You said the ship was to be put at my disposal?”
“Within limits,” the computer said primly, its cold voice somehow managing to exude disapproval.
“What limits?” Jason asked, immediately suspicious. NOW he’d find out that he could use the sonic showers and drink Rigellian ale to his heart’s content, but he couldn’t move the ship, fire the laser cannon array, or use the teleporters to bring up any topless dancers. Limits my ass!
“My programming is rigidly parametered by the Alliance Primary Imperative,” the computer responded. “You may take no action that would violate this.”
Jason scowled. “So you won’t let me blow up the Florida Social Services office?”
“If it can be demonstrated that the Florida Social Services office is an area in which nonhumans actively conspire to the detriment of human-gene beings, then the Primary Imperative will not only allow such a place to be a target of offensive weaponry, it would almost require it.” The computer’s voice seemed almost contemptuous, as if speaking to a moron.
Jason whirled around and clenched his fists in his hair. “What? Are you crazy? I thought the Primary Imperative mandated no interference with the independent development of any sentient culture!”
“That is its first clause,” the computer explained patiently. “Its second clause, which the 20th century Earth human Gerry Brodenrury apparently was never aware of, mandates that all possible aid be rendered to any human-gene culture that is in danger of enslavement or extinction by any nonhuman species.”
Jason frowned. “Goofy. But I can’t see how that affects us here. The short form is, I have a Pulsar class starship with weaponry that would let me conquer the world, and I can’t use it.”
“You can blow up all the Ool you want,” the computer replied snidely.
Jason stopped and went completely quiet for a moment.
Then: “...the Ool?”
On the planet below, a gloriously nude young woman named Jessica Cutter stepped out of her bedroom closet. A quick glance told her that her erstwhile husband Andrew continued to snore on their shared bed. She would have been shocked if it had been otherwise. He would continue to sleep while she made her preparations for the day; of that she was certain. She turned back to the closet. The deep blackness that had been there only seconds before was now gone. She quickly began going through her mundane clothing, looking for an outfit that would arrest and hold the attention of a typically libidinous heterosexual human male, without seeming so far out of her established persona as to excite commentary.
Jessica was an eyecatching example of the Earthly female; around six feet tall, with a figure that neatly carried off the generally unlikely combination of being both voluptuous and athletic. Every separate feature of hers was specifically designed to excite the interest of mammaloid, monkey-descended human males, from her long shapely legs to her improbably large, firm breasts. Her face in repose had a solemn thoughtfulness that was neither plain nor pretty but that, nonetheless, had the capacity to fascinate nearly any human of either gender regardless; when animated by a smile, Jessica’s facial features became stunningly beautiful. Her hair was a shaggy, shiny auburn, her eyes were big and brown and sparkled with vitality and apparent joy in living, her mouth was wide and full-lipped and frankly sensual. None of her appearance was an accident, of course; every detail was calculated for effect.
As she looked over the available clothes, she absently slipped into a plain pair of panties and bra. Not that she needed either; her absolute conscious control over every molecule of her current physical shell made support garments superfluous. Nontheless, Jason would be shocked if she showed up with her nipples protruding through her outer garment.
Copyright © 2005 by D. A. Madigan