Tag Archive: star trek

Commander Brogan Lannrat gave a determined grimace, displaying the square, well-formed teeth that had previously attracted favorable attention from more than a few highly skilled Lounge Dancers on the Planet of the Green Lagoons.  “No puffed-up pillbug is going to look down his nose at me.”

“Pillbugs don’t have noses,” noted crew biologist Mecky St. John.

“I don’t care what part of anatomy they might or might not look down from, they won’t be looking down from it at me.”  Lannrat stood, hands on hips, at the entrance to the Prime Bugorium, the elaborately ribbed and segmented bug government headquarters on the Planet of the Pompous Pillbugs.  The purple-and-black granite of the planet’s surface spread out in undulations behind him like series of giant, oversize, rocky ear canals.

“The pomposity is something you have to accept.  It’s a part of their DNA,” explained Mecky St. John.

He and Lannrat had traveled to the Bugorium gates on their Bounce Bike, Space Command emissaries on a secret mission to investigate Pillbug intentions.  Space Command intelligence officers had picked up unsettling noises in the cyberverse about Pilbug territorial prerogatives, setting off alarm bells at Blouder Base.

“After their evolutionary triumphs over the small-giraffe, this planet’s pillbugs have an attitude problem that’s insufferable,” Mecky explained, in that nearly insufferable, wheedling crew biologist voice of his.  “They’re the only bugs within three systems that possess the power of speech.”

“Fortunately I possess the power of ignoring speeches,” said Lannrat.  He gave his signature commanding guffaw, which tended to intimidate anyone with a less robust sense of humor in his immediate environs.  “Now let’s see just how nervously these bugs quail when an authentic, full-bodied human challenges them head on.”

Lannrat strutted toward the guard-bug standing sentry at the Bugorium entrance, his space boots stomping the granite with the full force of the militaristic chieftain that he considered himself.

The guard bug wobbled slightly on his lowest legs, a sleek, imported black helmet sheathing the upper part of his body.  Two of his many upper-right legs twitched restlessly, sending the spear he held into wobbly gyrations.  “Who approaches the Bugorioum?” the huge arthropod asked, in a somewhat rusty voice since it was pretty infrequent that any visitors actually approached to even try gaining entrance to the massive grey complex.

“Humans,” sneered Lannrat.  “I suppose you’ve heard of them?  Although the elevated, sophisticated nature of our affairs rarely leads to an intersection of our world with yours.”

The pillbug twirled his lance in an impressive flourish with seven or eight legs until it’s glinting point was just a pillbug-leg length from Lannrat’s check.   “What is your business at the Bugorium?”

“Haha!”  Lannrat laughed, as though the deadly pillbug lance was little more to him than the plaything of an inconsequentially rolling, insignificant, dirt-speckled millipede.  “Very entertaining!  I salute you on your twirly skills, your dexterous thrusting.  It’s a veritable floorshow for the visitors: Pillbugs on Ice!”

Mecky St John trotted up, coughing into his hand with exaggerated embarrassment.  “You’ll have to excuse my Commander, oh Pillbug officer.  He’s not accustomed to dealing with the more intelligent members of the gargantuan bug community.”

“Don’t apologize for me, Mecky,” Lannrat snorted, knocking aside the pillbug’s lance with a jerk of an arm.  “This bug needs to learn his proper place in the cosmos, below the great chain of human beings.”

“Commander Lannrat,” Mecky warned, “I don’t think it’s advisable…”

But it was already clear that Lannrat’s move had been inadvisable, since the guard was flailing all of his ungrounded limbs and running straight at the Commander, shaking his helmet and emitting a piercing tone that made a typical whistle seem as low-pitched as a foghorn.  Lannrat stood his ground, and was just about to experience a full collision with the onrushing bug flesh when the pillbug halted.  A crackle of energy had darted through his helmet and with this signal the bug had ground to a stop.

A voice boomed with authority from a helmet-implanted speaker.  “Guardsman, escort the intruders to the Bugorium Auditorium.”

“Haha,” Lannrat chortled again.  “They think we’re common intruders.  Wait until they realize they’re dealing with superior beings here.”

“Commander, I don’t think you understand…”

As the guard turned to lead them into the Bugorium, Lannrat gave a light kick to his shell.  “Show us the sights, bug man.”

Just minutes later, Lannrat and St. John found themselves in the large, but clammy, ceremonial auditorium, adorned with a dozen detailed sculptures of great pillbugs of yore, most of which, to the untrained human eye, looked remarkably alike one another.

Brogan Lannrat stood in the middle of the floor, hands on hips, looking up scornfully at the stone table where a council of especially sententious-looking pillbug potentates sat in a semi-circle.  “You call this a central Bugorium?  Ha.  I’ve seen more ornate arthropodean chambers in my niece’s Insect Farm.”

Mecky St. John was next to Lannrat, trying to keep a lid on his frightful quivering at the concerted pillbug power arrayed against them.  “That attitude may not be our best approach, Commander.”

The pillbug dignitaries seemed to agree with St. John, since they proceed to make munchy, gabbling, pillbug-language sounds across the table to each other.  Finally, the central pillbug turned to the intruders and addressed them in a heavily accented speech that sounded like a man speaking through a tiny megaphone packed with pebbles and cottage cheese.

“You have brought your gangly, unfortunate people-bodies to our planet without the proper identification, visa cards or recommended two-week vacation package vouchers.  Why should we not immediately consign you to our Sponge Prisons?”

“Ha,” reiterated Lannrat.  “The Sponge Prison hasn’t been built that can hold Brogan Lannrat.  You clearly haven’t heard of my escape from the Solitary Maximum Spongiform Security facility on the Planet of the Armored Earthworms.”  Lannrat threw some vigorous air-punches to demonstrate how he’d been able to damage his holding cell’s sponge walls.

The pillbugs made more gabbling and gargling sounds that might’ve been the bug equivalent of laughter.  “Your body motions are diverting,” allowed the head bug.  “But they do not address our question.  Why have you come here, all unbidden, to soil our domain?”

Lannrat gritted his perfectly even and remarkably square teeth.  These pillbugs simply wouldn’t let up on the pomposity.  “Listen, you puffed up, overlimbed ambulatory pebble.  Space Command polices this galaxy and we’ve picked up way too much chatter lately on your insidious moon-gobbling plans.  As far as we’re concerned, you primitive talking fossils already take up way too much galactic real estate.”

The bug bigwig was unpleased.  “Your insolence is beyond bounds, Commander.  Bug-guards, teach these fleshy ones some manners!”

Before the Space Command officers could take defensive maneuvers, two of the auditorium pillbug sentries instantly rolled themselves into pill form while simultaneously collapsing onto built-in, full-size floor trampolines.  With an aggressive spin they bounced off the trampoline surfaces to the center of the chamber, both guards smacking into either side of Mecky St. John.  St. John let out an unmanly shriek and collapsed, messy blood dripping from the collapsed sides of his head where the naturally well-armored bugs had impacted.

The bug leader waved a series of impatient legs at Lannrat.  “Clobber the other one!”

But Brogan Lannrat wasn’t too be bug-bombed so easily.  The security bugs had frisked him of his Spoggle blaster upon entering the Bugorium, but Lannrat had cleverly secreted a miniature bandolier of poison Muq’u darts in his upper mouth cavity.  Using a few lighting-fast foot-and-knee movements from the martial art of Brim Pucha, Lannrat jumped in front of the dignitaries’ semi-circular table, ripped the bandolier from his mouth and let fly with five expertly placed Muq’u darts that lodged in the tender underbellies of the sententious pillbugs.  The pompous monsters’ many legs writhed agonizingly in a spontaneous, coordinated display of insane pain and then, one-by-one, the oversize arthropods tottered and, in a Muq’u-petrified state of immobility, crashed to the chamber floor.

But the Commander was not around to see the results of his fusillade.  By the time the first bug fell, Lannrat was long gone, hustling down the, fortunately, well-signposted halls of the Bugorium to the exit, lashing out with Brim Pucha kicks and Muq’u darts whenever his perimeter was broached by a many-legged armadillidium.

Within a few sweat-packed minutes he was sitting back in his World Floater, hitting the control sequence for blast off.

“This is Lannrat,” he signed in to the Blouder Base mission frequency.  “Mission aborted.  These bugs are up to no good, no question about it.  I’ve seen all I need to see.”

“Report team status, Commander.”

“St. John’s not here.  He was pretty badly bashed by those bugs.  Might even be dead.  At least sustained some brain injuries that would be damn inconvenient to recover from. But that bug-hugger’s permanently cured of his bleeding-heart bawling, leastways.”  Lannrat gave a rough, commanding chortle as the World Floater achieved liftoff and he zoomed away from the purple-and-black landscape of the inhospitable and doom-inducing environs of the Planet of the Pompous Pillbugs.



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A Space Command Moment

“I’m not talking about that kind of spasm.  I’m talking about the kind of spasm where your throat constricts to the width of a juice straw, where your body is instantly covered in the slick and morbid sweat of a quaking dog, where your legs contort into painful, unnatural curving positions beyond your control and where a thick gauze of turbulent gray, cosmiscally atmospheric intensity clogs your hearing.”   http://bit.ly/xDXsTT

“Frozen goats of Malvin! Those are the largest, land-based walking shrimp I’ve ever seen!” cried Lieutenant Henley Lipworth, peering between the crevices of the lattice-like, green rock formation on the Planet of the Obscenely Giant Shrimp. The last of the three towering white shrimp was swaying off into the sickly olive-hued distance, its nearly transparent legs sending up little plumes of avocado-colored dust with each step.
Commander Greta Bin-Lector looked through a slightly larger crevice using her authentic Space Command-issue binocularama. The shrimp’s magnified body bumped into her field of vision so dramatically that she gasped at the looming immense smoothness of its pearly covering. “Eye boggling! I haven’t seen so much smooth white curvature since the Biennial Porcelain Festival on Rugger-11.” Bin-Lector readjusted the focus on the viewing device and shifted her position. “There it is, Lipworth. The legendary Crystal Shrimp Palace. They’re lumbering right up to it.”
“Let me see.” Lipworth held out a hand, always eager to see one of the officially registered Shrimp Wonders of the universe.
Bin-Lector looked at him skeptically. “You haven’t even returned my copy of Annals of the Perverse Abbesses.”
“I’m still on the fourth Annal,” explained Lipworth. “I had to re-read annal two a few times. Remember that part with the overfed dog?”
Bin-Lector sighed and handed the device over. “Point it there. Just to the left of that last giant shrimp butt.”
Lipworth did as she directed, scraping his chin on one of the little protuberances of the gnarled rock formation. Bin-Lector held back a chuckle as a somewhat poisonous Mango Bubble Crab scurried across the rock face, nearly brushing Lipworth’s face.
Henley Lipworth let out an impressed whistle as he brought the Shrimp Palace into view. He’d seen shrimp bridges, underwater shrimp tunnels and even multi-leveled, orbiting, self-sustaining shrimp space stations, but this was his first experience with a shrimp palace. It was an inspiring sight, which would’ve been even more inspiring if Lipworth were an obscenely giant shrimp in search of a grandiose seat of government. Four stories of twisting hallways, imposing chambers and tastefully furnished crustacean pleasure dens were all constructed from glinting, transparent, variously-hued crystal, giving the viewer access to the sight of busy shrimp dignitaries, courtiers, servants and commoners scurrying about their business among the chambers.
“Amazing! It’s incredibly complex yet as finely detailed as one of the ancient Potato God cathedrals on the Planet of the Vegetable Acolytes. How do they make such intricate crystal palaces?”
“With their riches made on iron ore investments. Buying up whole planets full of iron deposits, then selling the drilling rights when iron prices went through the roof. Don’t let anyone tell you shrimp aren’t clever speculators.”
“No, I mean physically how do they make them? Shrimp don’t even have opposable thumbs.”
“They were built by slaves,” answered Letitia. “Their unhappy, short Gunnerdal slaves, imported on direct, no-frills flights from the Gunner system.”
Lipworth gritted his teeth. Enslavement was one of his least favorite things. Especially when it involved short people. “That’s repulsive. If these Obscenely Giant Shrimp are going to use their wealth to put up grandiose palaces as monuments to their own nearly limitless power, they should at least pay regular construction crews a decent wage to build them.”
“Save your outrage for the Shrimp King. Now that we’ve discovered their route to the palace, we can put our plan into action.”
“You mean the plan where we dress up as hungry, bedraggled space travelers stranded beside the shrimp trail and then they take pity on us and give us a shrimp-back ride to the palace, where we pretend to recuperate from our travails while actually uncovering the details of their strategy to colonize the Planet of the Recumbent Sages?”
“Yes. Except I’m making a slight change of plans. After seeing these shrimp tear apart those bedraggled rock antelopes for dinner, I no longer have as much faith in their ability to pity weary travelers. We’ll ask for admission to the palace head on. Posing as fine crystal salespeople with a great deal on transparent blue crystal bricks, perfect for shrimp palace add-ons.”
“But I’ve never sold anything,” protested Lipworth. “My cousin’s the salesguy. He could sell a pair of designer sunglasses to a Blind Throbbing Pumpkin Slugworm. In fact, he did sell a pair of designer sunglasses to a Blind Throbbing Pumpkin Slugworm.”
“You don’t have to actually sell anything, Lipworth,” explained Greta. But she couldn’t complete the thought. She was instead rudely interrupted by the piercing, twisted battle shriek of a rearing, nearly-translucent Obscenely Giant Shrimp charging from behind, rearing on a misshapen green boulder, its many surprisingly thick and aggressively kicking legs creating a maelstrom of deadly shrimp appendage action.
Lipworth backed against the rocks with nowhere to go, a shrimp-induced scream of jumbo proportions about to escape from his mouth when a blunt shrimp foot knocked him on the side of the head and his body’s coherency was lost in the bloody pummeling of numerous Obscenely Giant Shrimp limbs.
“I didn’t even know they could shriek. I didn’t even know they could shriek,” muttered Bin-Lector in a trance-like monotone as she saw the unpleasant black eyes of the Giant Shrimp bear down on her and the limbs kick into action to eliminate the last potentially meddlesome intruder attempting to interfere with the internal affairs of the Planet of the Obscenely Giant Shrimp.

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“I’ve seen some small mummies in my day, but this Planet of the Miniature Mummies easily blows away all of my previous bandaged-corpse experiences,” intoned Anthropology Specialist Letitia Stone-Stone, looking over the sandy Ulgan Plain.

            Commander Hendricksen turned and narrowed his eyes, looking at Stone-Stone with the piercing, authoritative stare that had made him a favorite with the public speaking instructors at Space Academy.  “How small do you expect these mummies to be, Specialist?”

            Stone-Stone made a size indication with one hand, as though holding a small pebble between her thumb and forefinger.

            “That’s pretty small,” Hendricksen agreed.  He was trying to hide his immense bitterness, the nearly palpable rage boiling underneath his stolid, bronzed exterior, at being assigned to this childish mini-mummy mission, when his fellow commanders were taking on major, regular-sized assignments, like exploring the vast mammoth-inhabited ice-tundra of Velcron 6 or tracking down the insidiously obscure hideout of the marauding, bloodthirsty space pirate known only as Deathbeard.  “Tell me something, Specialist Stone-Stone.  Don’t you ever feel the urge to investigate a life-size mummy?”  Hendricksen couldn’t keep the sneer out of his voice as he gazed at the lithe and well-complected Stone-Stone and her thematically-appropriate mummy earrings.

            “These mummies are life-size, to themselves,” she responded with anthropological rectitude.  “Look!  A mummy has fallen into my trap!”

            Stone-Stone knelt down and extracted a test tube she had buried earlier that afternoon in the dry earth of the planet’s surface to form a miniature glass pit.  She held the tube up triumphantly to the eerie lime-green light of the Planet of the Miniature Mummies.  There could be no mistaking her success: at the bottom of the tube, bumping in repeated frustration against the glass walls in slow-brained bewilderment, was a mummy the size of a medium-length salted peanut.  It was covered in tiny, multi-layered mummy-like wrappings of faded beige gauze, with bandage bits hanging off of it in raggedy unravelings.  Peering through a miniscule space between two stripes of tiny head bandaging, Hendricksen could barely make out a pinprick pair of eerie, kumquat-orange mummy eyes. 

            “Ouch!” cried Hendricksen.

            Stone-Stone looked down at the Commander’s masculine, hairy and uncovered legs.  “I advised you not to wear shorts on The Planet of the Miniature Mummies,” she chided.  Hanging on to a lower portion of Hendricksen’s calf were two angry, remarkably tiny mummies, sinking their centuries-old teeth into his unprotected leg flesh. 

            “I thought you were just concerned about being attracted to my abundant leg hair!” snapped the resolutely masculine Henricksen, who always wore shorts on his missions, as long as the atmospheric make-up of the planet allowed it.

Hendricksen shook his leg vigorously, but the mummies, who were nothing if not resilient after centuries of patient survival in the arid, miniature deserts of the Planet of the Miniature Mummies, maintained their dental grip, sending waves of curse-inflicting pain up Hendricksen’s leg.

            “Where’s your mummy repellent?” barked Hendricksen.

            Stone-Stone rummaged through her Space Command-issued Space Purse.  “Repellent will do you no good now.  Mummies are impervious to chemically induced nausea when they’re avenging a captured fellow mummy.  I will have to vanquish them with a recitation of the Ancient Curse of Tumkin Rah.”

            “They’re impervious to repellent but they’ll listen to a creaky old curse?”

            “Hold still, damn it!  We don’t have much time.”  Stone-Stone was not exaggerating.  She looked behind Hendricksen, who was hopping in a painful, hairy-legged fit.  On the supermarket-sized desert plain, an entire brigade of miniature mummies was approaching them, with the characteristic extended-arm, somnolent-stepping march of mummies on the move.

            Stone-Stone took from her Space Purse a life-sized sandstone replica of the tablet of Tumkin Rah, which was actually extremely small since Rah was himself a long-dead ruler of tiny mummies, who was tall for his ethnic group but still extremely short from a human perspective, and began to intone the curse.  “Saw saw zembo.   Zembo kin saw saw.”

            “It’s not working!” screamed Hendricksen, who was increasingly surprised at the amount of pain that could be caused by mummies no larger than the fingernail on one of his pinkies.  He lifted his hands to the green sky in a spasm of desperation, his mouth open in a panoramic scream, and then fell to the ground.

            “Silly me,” said Stone-Stone.  “They can’t hear the nuances of the curse because I’m reading it in my normal, large voice.  I have to miniaturize my pronunciation.  It’s one of the first things we learned in my Small-Scaled Civilizations seminar.”  Stone-Stone began to carefully reshape her lips to create a tiny, miniature-curse-appropriate opening, but failed to notice, with her mind intent on bringing her mouth down to size, that four inconspicuous mummies had climbed up her jumpsuit and were clambering over her lips to assault her throat.

            “Saw saw zembo,” Stone-Stone said again, this time in a mouse-like, carefully shaped whisper.  But she was barely able to enunciate the first part of the curse when she went into a harsh choking fit.  The small squadron of mummies, small both in size and number, were choking the anthropologist from inside, blocking her esophagus.

            Hendricksen looked up in exquisite pain at the mottled face of the asphyxiated Stone-Stone.  He gaped in horror as she tottered, his final moments filled with a realization of her horrible fate.     

             The last thing she tasted was the musty, rust-tinged flavor of decaying mummy bandages as she gagged fruitlessly, her body tumbling to the dry and ruthless ground where lay next to the similarly lifeless body of her shorts-garbed colleague on the Planet of the Miniature Mummies.

The Putrid Moon

“I hate living on the Putrid Moon,” said Commander O’Flaherty. 

He stared out at the deeply pockmarked surface of the unsightly moon over his cup of breakfast powder.

“Think about future generations.”  Second Officer Haifa Al-Rashid stored the packaging of her futuristic space meal for recycling.  As the first one-armed female Arab-American astronaut on the Putrid Moon, she was full of inspiring, optimistic ideas on the future of space exploration.  “One day, our children’s descendants will look back on us as moon pioneers.”

“I’m not having any children with you,” protested O’Flaherty.

“I was using the royal ‘our’,” explained Al-Rashid.

Just then, Ensign Bradley burst into the dining pod.

“Commander O’Flaherty, we’ve detected suspicious movement in the Crimble Zone!”

“You see what I mean!”  O’Flaherty seethed.  “Not a day goes by without some annoyance cropping up on the Putrid Moon.”

Second Officer Al-Rashid faced O’Flaherty with determination.  “You need to show grit, Commander!  The Crimbles could completely destroy our insulated, technologically advanced yet structurally fragile moon base with one well-organized attack!”

“Give me one reason I should care!” cried O’Flaherty.  “This moon is Putrid!  Why are we even here?  Have you taken a look around?  The Great Rundible Cleft is filled with half-solid gray slime that gives off the stench of burnt rubber.  The Wallinger Geyser shoots out burning plumes of orange-brown muck every hour that reeks of rotten potato. Last week, I fell into a gaping pit filled with decaying Crimble carcasses and I still haven’t been able to remove the stains from my uniform!”  O’Flaherty pointed to the seat of his silver moon-colonist radiation-deflecting pants.  “We can’t even invite any galactic dignitaries to visit our colony because the whole place is too goddamn smelly.  Face it people, this moon is putrid!”

Al-Rashid threw a saltshaker to the floor in fury.  “I can’t listen to this!  As the first one-armed female Arab-American astronaut on the Putrid Moon, I must set an example for all the space daughters who’ll follow my example.  This mission is not about nasal aesthetics!  This mission is about claiming a world for human habitation that on the surface is completely hostile and inappropriate for settlement and putting up with endless sacrifices, hardships and unpleasant odors to make that possible!”

Ensign Bradley pointed out the impressive picture window to a spot beyond the bubbling pits of devil-lava that lay around the compound.  “A Crimble scout!”

Bradley was undeniably correct.  In the distance, visible against an olive-ochre horizon spotted with tattered clouds, came the shambling, unappetizing shape of a three legged, large-eyed Crimble.  The Crimbles were yet another hazard of life on the Putrid Moon.  Using their sharp and pointed tusks and glinting titanium claws, a rampaging Crimble could do untold damage to the moon colony habitation with its fragile pink light funnels and architecturally renowned billowing canvas sails, reminiscent of the masts of a 19th century whaling ship.

“We’re doomed!” cried O’Flaherty.   “Doomed!  This ill-begotten mission is on a headlong collision course with a violent, smelly destruction.  All of us are going down to our putrescent unmarked graves on this godforsaken moon!”

“Perhaps the Crimble will stumble into one of the devil-lava pits,” said the inexperienced and recklessly hopeful Bradley.  He was a recent graduate of Space University and his grade point average had not been high enough to secure him a post on one of the less disgusting moon bases.

“Nonsense,” claimed Al-Rashid.  “We need simply to reach out to these misunderstood creatures.  I will go out and play the Crimble a tune of peace on my Earth-oud.  We must bridge the differences between our species if we ever hope to live in peace with the creatures of the Putrid Moon.”

O’Flaherty watched in seething frustration as Al-Rashid and Bradley set forth with the fragile oud to make peace with the Crimble.  As he could have predicted, Al-Rashid was quickly speared through the stomach by the Crimble’s tusk and Bradley fell headlong into a devil-lava pit.  O’Flaherty beat on the intercom in frustration as the Crimble lumbered ever closer to the compound.