by James E. Guin
“Druy, where did you find that pitiful looking piece of space junk?” Capitan Saga asked as he slid off the ramp onto the lower deck of his ship.
“In the emptiness,” Druy said and continued circling the disk shaped object.
“And why wasn’t I informed?” he asked.
Glancing at Capitan Saga through rods and antenna that intertwined above the large disk, Druy said, “You were asleep.”
“Asleep or awake, you’ve never informed me about the space rubbish you pull into my ship. Not to mention the fact that you’ve turned the lower deck into your own personal garbage room,” Captain Saga muttered to himself.
Attempting to straighten a support truss for an antenna that she had broken when she pulled the disc shaped object into the ship, Druy pretended not to hear Captain Saga mumbling. Druy’s olfactory sensors could detect sounds as low as 20 dC and as high as 100 dC. She knew that Captain Saga knew this and Captain Saga knew that she knew this, but often she pretended not to hear him.
“Is it working?”
Druy dropped the support truss. “I don’t know Cap—”
“You know what I mean, Druy! Does it still have power? I don’t want some booby trapped mechanical destroying half of my ship like that piece of junk you found when we entered this galaxy,” Capitan Saga said.
“Yes, that was my fault.”
“Of course it was your fault. If you weren’t an expert maintenance mechanical, I’d let you float around in the emptiness for some ship to find you. And maybe that ships mechanical would take a laser to your head and see how you worked or didn’t,” Capitan Saga said.
“I estimate I could survive in The Emptiness until this universe—”
Captain Saga’s head and body-tentacles pointed at her and wiggled around in the air forming quotation marks.
“You’ve told me. You’ve told me,” he said.
Ignoring his mocking gestures, Druy wheeled over to a work table and examined a smaller disk that she had detracted from the side of the object.
“How many individual components?” Captain Saga asked.
“Sixty five thousand,” she said.
Captain Saga’s bulking body slid across the floor and then stopped behind her.
He stretched his neck over her shoulder. “What is this disc that you’re fooling around with?”
“I don’t know. I have followed the instructions which are etched in the side of it, but all I get are these fast moving, high pitched sounds. Shall I record them and slow them down on your ship’s computer?” Druy said.
Captain Saga didn’t miss her stressing the words “your ship’s computer.” “For a mechanical, sometimes I detect a little sarcasm in your voice. But no, we’ve got enough of your findings on my ship’s computer.”
Captain Saga reached one of his body-tentacles above Druy’s shoulders, lifted up the disc for closer examination, and said, “Well if you can’t figure out how it works, we can always eat off of it.”
“You can eat off of it,” Druy said.
Captain Saga returned the disc to the contraption Druy had constructed. She plugged a power cord from the ceiling into it and the disc spun around. With her mechanical back-tentacle, she reached on the side of the contraption and lifted a small arm with a slender piece of pointed steel hanging perpendicular to the center of the arm and placed it at a random spot on the spinning disc. It began producing high pitched noises.
Captain Saga’s face scrunched up. “All you have to do is slow it down.”
With one of her rigid mechanical body-tentacles, she pressed a button multiple times and the disc slowed. The sounds coming out were pleasant.
“And again, the biological outsmarts the mechanical,” Captain Saga boasted.
Druy detected the sarcasm in his voice, but did not inform him.
The arm of the make-shift contraption was about a quarter of the way across the spinning disc.
Intrigued by the sounds, Druy said, “Clearly, this demonstrates more intelligence than we have found in this galaxy.”
“Ah, if it showed intelligence it would still be powered, Druy. Besides we have nicer combinations of sounds in my ships computer. You would know that if you spent more time repairing my ship than fooling around with this space junk that you find out there in this boring, typical galaxy,” Captain Saga said.
Ignoring his comment, she continued listening and after a minute she said, “These sounds are organized in a nicer way. It is beyond my analysis. Most of the sounds from our universe are stiff, less emotional.”
Captain Saga waved his head-tentacles in the air. “Ah, what do you know about emotional. You’re a mechanical.”
His head-tentacles fell on his shoulders and he listened for a few moments. “The production quality is primitive. It’s grooving but it’s repetitive, and I can’t understand this Being’s vocal sounds.”
Captain Saga tried to imitate. “Go.., go, go Johnny, go.”
Captain Saga laughed with a deep gurgling sound and, Druy imitated his laughter. Annoyed, he stared at her for a few minutes while she used her body-tentacles to press buttons on her head in order to retrieve data.
“We haven’t found anything like this in this universe,” she said and started to dance.
Disgusted, Captain Saga said, “Oh we can’t finish this exploratory voyage soon enough. What in the name of the multiverse are you doing?”
“These sounds just make me want to move,” she said.
“Well don’t,” Captain Saga said. “Start back at the beginning. Let’s hear if all of the sounds on this disc are as repetitive.”
She lifted the arm and placed it at the very edge of the disc.
After a few minutes of listening, Captain Saga said, “Now that’s better. Organized. Repetitive, yet it manipulates more sounds than the first example. Mathematical and emotional. This is nice.”
My Master Captain of the Multiverse, the ship’s computer called out from a speaker in the ceiling.
“My Master Captain of the Multiverse? The computer has never called you My Master Captain of the Multiverse,” Druy said.
“SomeBeing has to show some respect on this ship,” he said then looked up at the speaker. “Please continue.”
“The nearest star is a red giant that was in the top 15% of the bright stars in this galaxy but it has engulfed its Goldilocks Zone. I estimate that Druy’s space junk originated there,” the computer said.
“Well Druy, let’s get out of here before this red giant engulf us,” Captain Saga said, looked up at the ceiling and continued. “My ship’s computer.”
“Since when is the computer called My Ship’s Computer?” Druy asked.
Captain Saga held up his head-tentacles for Druy to remain quiet and said, “My Ship’s Computer, if your sensors detect Druy constructing those strange movements again, open the lower deck and get rid of her.”
Yes, My Master Captain of the Multiverse, the computer said.
Continuing to work on the larger object with the antennae, Druy pretended like she didn’t hear.
Listening to the pleasant sounds, Captain Saga scanned all of the misshapen objects Druy had picked up during their voyage. From shapes that imitated the creatures of the planet the object was from to disc shaped objects like the one she had just found, they were all sent to answer one question. Are we alone? Captain Saga knew the answer to that question, and he hoped the Beings who had created these objects had at some point in their history discovered the answer. He and Druy had found nothing in this galaxy but the remnants of ancient civilizations.
As if in an attempt to verbalize an afterthought, he looked up at the ceiling speaker and said, “Oh and My Ship’s Computer, pipe these organized sounds throughout the ship. Give me about ten seconds to get to the bridge and then let’s get out of this desolate galaxy and head back home.”
Yes, My Master Captain of the Multiverse, the computer said.
Captain Saga slid across the floor, placed his body-tentacles on to the rails of the ramp leading to the upper deck.
Before ascending he turned and said, “Well Druy, if nothing else, the Multiverse Federation may be interested in all of this junk collected.”
He gave himself a pull and sped up the ramp.
James E. Guin writes … “One of my greatest fears is: What if Voyager I and II are found after the human race no longer exists?”
James E. Guin’s fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Perihelion Online Science Fiction Magazine, MetroMoms: Metro Fiction, Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, and Alternate Hilarities Anthology Volume 1. He received an Honorable Mention in the 2nd Quarter of the 2014 L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest and second place in Jenny Magazine Speculative Fiction Contest 008. James can be found jameseguin.wordpress.com