I wrote this story one day at work. I was bored. Totally, completely bored. You have no idea how mind boggling bored I was. The company I worked for would often run out of work for us to do. I was reading an article on the web about Near Earth Asteroids and, as I had been reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy © 1981 by Douglas Adams, my mind started to wonder in a particular, peculiar direction.





Once upon a time there were three little green men from Mars. They went flying through the galaxy looking for trouble. And one day they found it. They ran across an asteroid belt, but this was no ordinary asteroid belt. The asteroids were bigger than any they had ever seen. Bigger than the NMA (Near Mars Asteroids) back home. They had bizarre gravitational and electromagnetic fields, the likes of which they had never seen. These asteroids did not orbit a star or quasar. They seemed to stretch on ahead for light-years; an endless sea of worlds.

One of them was inhabited.

They did not know this.

They circled the belt for days. They knew they could not fly through it. That would be foolhardy, but found no way around it. Quikayr, the pilot, became impatient. "I'm taking her in."

"To earth you will!" yelled captain Myurts. "This is my ship and I will not risk her. That would take all the fun out of it."

"Then what do you say we do, Myurts!? Fly around forever!?" Quikayr retorted. He hated authority, especially when it stopped him from being dangerous.

"What do the scanners say, fiud L'Fdam?" Myurts said to the nav commander.

"Unable to scan the other side, captain."

"Is there anything else?"

"Yes, one of these two asteroids in front of us is made up of mostly plutonium, uranium, and has an atmosphere of hydrogen and oxygen."

"Well!! Why didn't you say so in the first place?? Target main guns!!! Time for a bit of fun..." evil grin.

Now, unknown to the Marsinians, the second asteroid in front of them was inhabited by the Gtpfiss. The Gtpfiss do not like just anybody coming along and blowing things up.

It should also be noted that the Marsinians are not from the fourth planet orbiting Sol but rather from the fifth planet orbiting a star in a completely different galaxy. And as mere coincidence would have it, they had named the first planet in their system earth.

Suddenly the main deck was blazon with red and yellow lights and the famous siren of red-alert. Console lights blinked and flashed, and streams of text flew by on their monitors.

"Range two zero zero zero mark one five!"

"Get in closer! I don't want to miss any of this!"

"Targeting scope on line!"

"Increase power!"

"Increasing power... "

"Blast shields on! "

"Range one zero zero mark nine two five"

"Not that close!"

"Power fluctuation... Stabilizing."

"Captain, detecting inverse magnetic field..."

"Something's happening down there..."

"Report! Report! Why haven't we fired yet?!?"

"Pulse generator charging..."

"Captain! Detecting an energy pulse of unknown source. Could be a reflection!"

"Fire! Fire!"

"Firing main weapon.."

"Incoming!"

"Evasive! Course two five two.."

"What the..."

"Pulse overload!! Feedback in the core!"

"Power...off scale..."

Silence.

They awoke after many days of drifting. As far as they could tell, there was an overload in the pulse generator.

Actually the Gtpfiss hit them with a hyperspace inter-dimensional trans-galactic multi-phasic inverse-tacion manipulation ray.

They made them go away.

Far away.

The Marsinians, of course, did not know this. Neither did they know that they were midway between the third and fourth planet of an unknown system in an unknown galaxy.


***


"What do you think they were up to?" The Gtpfiss commander said quietly to his chief.

"Not sure." The chief paused. At length he added, "It may have been a surprise attack."

The commander contemplated this for a moment. "Who knows we're here?" he said cautiously.

"Not sure." The chief took a sip of his Gtpfissarn tea. "Do we have their current co-ordinates?"

The commander took a moment to check his records. He seemed relaxed and leisurely. "Yes, we tracked them to the third galaxy in this region. Shall I dispatch a scout?"

"I suppose we should keep an eye on them. Maybe we can learn more about their plans." The chief paused again, sipped his tea. He took a moment to look at the view screen at all the unexplored worlds and untapped resources.

He breathed deeply.

"Send out the scout."


***


So, what do three Marsinians do when they are all alone in unknown space and have no idea how they got there?

"Range three five nine mark zero five!" "Targeting scope on line! Increasing power... " "Blast shields activated..." "Weapon charged. Ready!" "Fire!" "Firing weapon!"

A small, silent explosion briefly illuminated the view screen.

"Quikayr!!" Myurts screamed. "What in earth are you doing?!?"

Startled, Quikayr straightened in his chair. "A little violent creativity never hurt anybody." He replied. "Got to keep the brain waves from stagnating. .. all this empty space could dull a sharpened blade!"

Myurts raised an eyebrow at Quikayr's comment. "Carry on then." He turned to L'Fdam. "Any idea what happened to us?" Myurts said.

"None yet, sir. It could have been feedback in the O-reactor, coupled with an energy reflection from the asteroid, creating a worm hole which sucked us in. either that or..." He paused.

During that pause they became vaguely aware of Quikayr's voice ascending and descending above the noise of the engines. Then they realized the ship too was ascending and descending.

"Incoming... incoming... chiiingggg... phreeww... dadadadada..." The view screen brightened and dimmed from tiny explosions.

They blinked for a moment at Quikayr's back. Choosing to ignore him, Myurts turned to L'Fdam. "...Or what?" he asked hurriedly.

"Or, and I know this will sound incredibly fantastic, and highly improbable, but maybe..." he paused for effect. "just maybe..." he began to whisper. Quikayr heard their hushed tones and leaned his chair in closer. "Maybe someone hit us with a hyperspace inter-dimensional trans-galactic multi-phasic inverse-tacion manipulation ray."

In the midst of quiet secrecy, the sound of a chalk board squeaking under sharp, dry fingernails can send nerve-racking chills down one's spine. So, too, can roaring laughter. And since there was no chalkboard to be found anywhere between the third and fourth planet in this system, Quikayr began to do just that, and quite mercilessly.

L'Fdam was deeply annoyed and it was all he could do to keep from strangling their pilot. Then he had an idea. "Quikayr. Look!" He pointed to the viewscreen.

"Huh?"

"Is that an asteroid?" he pointed to the screen.

"Ooh.. " Quikayr said, eyes widening. "Asteroids... good..."

"Go get It.. Go get the asteroid."

With a crazed look in his eyes, Quikayr moved in closer to the pilot's console. "Blow things up.. feel good.. make for good time"

In no time at all, the view screen was lighting up with the silent explosions of senseless destruction at the hands of a senseless, but creatively destructive, pilot.

Myurts, getting back to their discussion, looked sideways at L'Fdam. "That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! Who ever heard of a hyperspace, inter-active-inert-tacky..."

"Hyperspace inter-dimensional trans-galactic multi-phasic inverse-tacion..."

"There ain't no such thing you idiot!" Myurts Screeched.

"I'm... coming... to.. get.. you.. as-ter-oid.. You can't hide from meeeeee" Quikayr sang eerily to himself.

"Inside that head lurks an obsessed man." Myurts observed. They shook their heads in mournful regret.

L'Fdam's attention was suddenly on the viewscreen. "Oh. Another asteroid."

"A Big asteroid" Quikayr said, eyes glazed.

"A real asteroid" confirmed L'Fdam.

"Really?" Myurts asked with exagerated interested. Then a devious look came over his face. "You can't hide from meeeeee as-ter-oid... ready main weapon!" His conversation with L'Fdam was now completely forgotten. It was time to get on with more important things.

"Pulse charged. Ready!" L'Fdam yelled.

"Range two one seven mark..."

"HOLD IT!" screamed Myurts, and waited for all the ruckus to die down. "What's that blue thing over there?" He motioned to the left side of the viewscreen

"Huh? Who cares?" Quikayr cut in. "As long as it doesn't get in the way of me blowing up that asteroid."

"Sensors show... base elements... atmosphere... oxygen...carbon." said L'Fdam

"Hello!!!" Quikayr blurted out impatiently. "Can we blow up the asteroid now??"

"There's a planet down there, you imbecile!" Myurts shouted at Quikayr.

"You mean we get to blow up a planet??" he almost drooled at the thought.

Myurts looked exasperated.

"Captain, picking up huge life readings. This planet is inhabited." L'Fdam reported.

"Oooo.. we get to blow up an inhabited planet!?"

No one knows where the lead pipe came from, only that one end of it hit Quikayr square on the head, and the other end was attached to Myurts hand.

"Just blow the damn asteroid. Ready main weapon!!"


***


It should be noted that this blue planet they stumbled across has a deep and meaningful history. A history of constant development, learning and change with many, many different species of life.

One such deep and meaningful change occurred about a million years ago. A highly developed species of land and sea dwelling creatures learned a very valuable lesson.

Things change.

The change took place coincidentally at the same time this planet got in the way of an asteroid meandering harmlessly around the solar system. It promptly smacked into it causing irreparable damage to the poor asteroid. Also many of the large creatures on this planet died of fright. Well, some also died during the violent looting that took place afterwards in all the confusion but mostly it was the fear. They all believed that such a large collision would be the end of the world and thus panicked until they were no more.

Such events are commonplace in the universe. Since the beginning of time there have been planets crashing into harmless asteroids all over the place and causing all kinds of havoc. The more intelligent species of the universe understood that this was an inconvenience and developed ways of avoiding them such as graceful gravity manipulation, planet shifting, or even the mindless, violent scattering of asteroid atoms. The Marsinians chose the latter.

The lesser intelligent species of the universe either pretended that such events could never happen even in a million years. (They do, in fact, happen more often than that) or that such events are unavoidable anyway and there is nothing anyone can do to avoid the total annihilation of their planet and species.

The current species inhabiting the third planet in this system go both ways and have never been able to develop graceful gravity manipulation or planet shifting or mindless, violent asteroid atom scattering devices. Thus they had no way to avoid their planet from hitting poor defenseless asteroids.

As it happened, being a million years since the last collision, another asteroid was meandering its way towards this tiny blue planet. The impending collision would have caused much confusion and damage to the asteroid not to mention death to the current species of the planet. This of course will never happen now.

Everything in the universe has a meaning. Every star that shines, every planet that is born, and every living creature that eats, drinks, and pays taxes have a meaning. Even the invention of a hyperspace inter-dimensional trans-galactic multi-phasic inverse-tacion manipulation ray has meaning. And so too does a creatively destructive Marsinian pilot in control of an Asteroid Atomizer Pulse cannon have meaning. Meaning that this tiny blue planet will not suffer any confusion nor damage nor death by colliding with any asteroid this millennia and will be safe to grow and flourish for at least another million years.

And nobody ever knew the difference.


***


Copyright © 1999 James Barrett


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