“The silver rocket ship moved thru the inky blackness of deep space with a speed that was frightening to behold. ”
“Drivel, pure drivel.” The chef read across the screen over his crewmen’s head.
“Hey that is private.”
“Tsk, tsk young Bobby Joe, no one would will ever confuse you for Faulkner, you may share a common birthplace but your lack of education and deplorable dull wittedness marks you as never rising above the station you are in now.”
The young man muttered under his breath, turned off the computer screen and stomped away.
The chef laughed out loud and turned and found himself face to face with the Captain. “I am sorry Captain Lockstone I did not hear you enter, is there something I can get for you.”
“You really shouldn’t pick on Bobby Joe like that he is a good kid.”
“Nonsense Captain, Bobby Joe will soon forget the teasing, he will go to his cabin and put on some of that god awful county music about trains and beer and my insult will dissipate like the morning mist.”
Captain Lockstone just shook his head at the chef, and he was a full chef hired by the space agency from the Cordon Bleu for this long range exploration of deep space. He was a pain in the butt, if he had not also been a certified linguist he never would have made it onto the ship. Captain Lockstone had been warned before they left the solar system the Chef who could cause personality difficulties, so far the space psychologist had been right on the money. “Captain’s prerogative, just came down to see if there was any of that Jamaican Blue still left.”
“I am sorry Captain, that particular batch of beans has been exhausted, at least until we hit the resupply ship on the way back.”
“Oh well, I drink too much coffee as it is.”
The chef spoke up. “Any transmissions from the fourth planet yet.”
“No, nothing. We just launched a probe that will start sending back imagery soon.”
“Well I hope this planet is as interesting as the Persledes, they were a fascinating and noble race.”
“Yes, a nice first contact was made and firm foundation of diplomacy was laid,” The Captian said just looking around the kitchen. ” well good night Cooky, see you in the morning.”
The chef just growled softly, people called him Cooky just to annoy him, now the Captain was doing it.
The captain turned and grinned, he probably should not have used the nickname but he could not help himself, the comment about the Persledes irked him. They were by far the most boring and dull alien race he had ever met, his diplomatic patience was worn thin by their constant calls for admiration of art and beauty in every single phase of the meeting had tested his patience. The captain enjoyed art as much as the next guy, unless of course the next guy was the Chef, who took a deep, perhaps even a perverse pleasure in pointing out his own pedigree in art appreciation to whomever would listen. Due to his linguistic skills he had sat at the table with the Persledes and appreciated the hell out of the art they presented, his second officer had calculated that the Chef had extended the formal diplomatic meetings by at least fifty percent longer than they needed to be with his constant references and comparisons to Earth’s art and history. The Captain had been tempted to leave him behind on Persleds Prime, but he needed a chef and command looked down on marooning crew members on distant planets no matter how arrogant and obnoxious they were.
“Those towers are magnificent greater than the ones at Notre Dame.”
“I have only seen the field, I guess the towers are somewhere else on campus.”
The Chef looked down his long nose at Bobby Joe. “I was referring to the cathedral Bobby Joe.” When he got a blank look he added. “In Paris.” When there was not an automatic recognition he continued. “Paris, France.”
They had been looking at the view screen in the dining room were some of the first images broadcast from the flyover were viewed by the entire crew while eating. It was just then that the Captain Lockstone walked in.
“Oh Captain any oral transmissions from the planet yet?” The Chef asked.
The Captain continued his walk to the large coffee urn. “No Cooky not yet.” The Captain filled his mug and walked over to the table where Bobby Joe was seated and stood next to the Chef. “Beautiful, from our best measurements they are over a hundred meters tall, made out of some sort of glass or crystal.”
“They must be a truly enlightened people to be able to build such towers look at those flying buttress.”
Bobby Joe snickered. “Buttress.”
The Captain laughed silently as he walked out of the room.
The working group had spent hours with the tapes and translations that were picked up from the planet and the Chef was there as well. He had not added much to the discussion, not being the most gifted linguist on the trip. It was after the Chef had gone back to his kitchen that a breakthrough occurred, and as the Automatic Translation Device gathered more knowledge from the short transmissions coming from the planet, and the device achieved a higher and higher percentage of fluency. It was when the Artificial Intelligence in the device claimed a ninety-five percent fluency that the diplomats on board decided to make first contact.
The Chef and Bobby Joe were sitting in the empty dining room watching the first face to face meeting between the Captain and his team with the newly programed ATD.
“I anticipate another great exchange of culture, philosophy and copious discoveries of their finer arts. ” The Chef said in a lofty tone. “Did you see them so tall and regal looking, such serious expressions on their faces.”
Bobby Joe just rolled his eyes. Then he noticed the clothing the aliens were wearing, one strap on each of their clothing seemed to be dangling, it made him think of something back home but then his thoughts were interrupted.
“Those cut glass basilica are all over the planet, this valley they are meeting in has one that is a particularly amazing example, they must be monuments to learning and knowledge. ”
“Shhh, they are about to start.”
“I am Captain James Lockstone and in the name of the people of Earth I greet you in peace and friendship.”
There was a pause and the translation was made with the ATD. Then the first alien said a couple of words, and another pause as the ATD went to work.
“Well Howdy, it is great you folks showed up as we was about to have a pork roast and the beer is cold, so you are welcome to stay a while.”
The Chef’s mouth just fell open.
Captain Lockstone quickly turned towards his diplomatic and linguistic staff, who were all furiously checking on the ATDs. Bobby Joe watched the looks cross the faces after a few seconds and furious whispering between the Captain and the head diplomat. The Captain continued after a few minutes.
“Well that would be very nice, thank you for the invitation.”
The alien replied quickly after the translation. “Twernt nothing pardner, what’s ours is yours, heck with you folks here maybe we can put another room on the building.”
Captain Lockstone replied. “The building? Another room? I am sorry I don’t understand.”
The ATD was getting quicker with each exchange and the alien pointed to the large crystal structure on the hill nearby. “Sure, when we get enough empties we add on to the place, it is almost as much fun building those things as it is emptying the building materials.”
“The building materials I don’t understand?”
The alien paused and titled his head in almost a human like manner. “Yeah those things are made with empties.”
Bobby Joe started laughing before anyone else.
“Yeah empty beer bottles.”
My first original short story in a while, I have been so busy working on the second story in the Outfitters Narrative, Q Runner, that I just was not inclined to write anything else. Then when I did get off track from Q Runner I seemed to find myself drawn to my World War I project. But enough about me, so what did you think of this little diversion, written by me. 🙂