An Intoxicating Encounter
Some people have a knack for finding strange things; strange things always find Zane Legends. One such strange thing began late one evening as Zane travelled through deep space in his interspatial cruiser, the Space Bar. Really, it could not have been late evening, for there is no sense of day and night when one travels through the middle of deep space. Evening was, however, Zane’s favorite time of day, so when he travelled through deep space, it was always evening.
He had passed the final star system nearly thirty hours previously, and he yet had a long way to go before arriving at his destination. He was just sitting down for a wonderful five-course meal when the ship’s AI pilot began to speak over the speaker system.
“Alien ship detected fifteen degrees off our current trajectory,” it said in its monotone voice.
It was rather unusual to run into another ship in these large stretches of space, since there were so many other routes a ship could take. “What is the ship’s destination?” Zane inquired of the AI pilot.
“Undeterminable,” it responded.
Zane arched his eyebrow in confusion. “Undeterminable? How can that be? I thought you were supposed to have artificial intelligence.”
“The ship is not on auto-pilot, and it is changing directions so quickly it is impossible to determine what his destination is,” it responded, continuing in its monotone voice.
“Perhaps his ship has a malfunction?” Zane wondered aloud.
“It does not appear that way, sir.”
“I’m sure it doesn’t,” Zane said. “After all, auto-pilots are nearly perfect these days.”
“Indeed they are,” agreed the AI.
Zane just shook his head and said, “Send him a com-request.”
He had to wait for a few minutes, which he used to his advantage by eating as much of the food in front of him as he could. It wasn’t the best food he had ever tasted; there were certain restaurants in his home city that almost seemed like heaven. But, he kept his ship well stocked, and the food certainly was not lacking in variety.
Too soon, the AI interrupted his meal. “Com-request granted, now on speakers.”
“Good evening, this is the Space Bar calling. may I ask what your destination is?” Zane asked.
“Who ‘r’ you?” came the response.
“My name is Captain Zane Legends. It appears to me your ship may be malfunctioning, is there anything I could do to assist?”
“Ma’ ship? Ma’ ship’s jus’ fine, don’ you worry ‘bout that. Bes’ you jest stay outta ma’ way, mister Zane.”
Zane tilted his head slightly to one side, and with a thoughtful expression asked, “Sir, are you intoxicated?”
The voice over the speakers sounded somewhat angry. “O’ course I’m not, what kinda fool do ya think I am?” With that, there was a faint pop which meant the man had closed the connection.
Zane sat there for several minutes, mostly to finish his meal, but he also wondered what his best course of action was. He could obviously just stay clear of the guy, which would be the easiest and safest route. But Zane knew he couldn’t do that, what if the man killed himself, or worse, accidentally killed somebody else? He was too far away from any civilization to report the man to the space traffic authorities, so he would just have to take care of the matter himself. That’s the way things often worked in deep space.
He carefully scraped off the last bits of food from his plate, drank the last of his imported orange juice, then carefully wiped his face with a silk napkin.
He went to his quarters to change into more appropriate clothes for handling a drunk. “Bring the ship close enough to board,” he commanded the AI. He put on his best, most intimidating coat, which also happened to be stain-resistant and projectile-proof. With that coat, he could do anything.
After a few minutes the AI announced, “We are now within boarding range.”
Zane walked briskly to the teleportation room and stood on the circular platform in the center of the octagonal chamber. “Teleport me to the ship, and set a thirty minute automatic recall,” he commanded. The automatic recall may have been unnecessary, but you can never be too careful around a man crazy enough to travel through space while drunk.
Zane felt a strange tingling sensation pass through him from head to toes, which was immediately followed by a horrible, cold, senseless feeling, then he found himself in the teleportation chamber of the other ship. He looked around and instantly knew that his ship was much better than this pile of junk, but not everyone could have a ship as fine as his.
He exited the room and made his way to the control room of the ship, where he found the pilot manning the controls. He immediately saw that his guess was correct, the man was swaying back and forth like his Uncle Jim did every New Year’s. The man heard Zane approach and staggered to his feet.
“I told yeh I’m jes fine, now get outta ma’ ship before I shoot you through!” the man shouted in a hoarse voice.
“Sir,” Zane responded in the most professional tone he could come up with, “you are violating galactic law by travelling intoxicated. You should turn auto-pilot on immediately. You should also take a bath as soon as possible.”
The last comment detracted from his business like tone, but the man, being drunk, did not really notice it.
“I gave yeh a warnin’, and yer tresspassin’,” the drunk said. Then he suddenly picked up a gun from the control panel and shot Zane square in the chest. At that moment, Zane was very glad he had had the foresight to wear his projectile-proof coat. The man was so surprised that Zane was still alive he dropped the gun and nearly passed out. Zane helped him out by banging his head as hard as he could against the nearest wall. The man was out cold and collapsed.
“Hopefully by the time you wake up you’ll be a bit more intelligent, but perhaps that’s a bit much to hope for,” he told the now-unconscious body sprawled on the floor. He then set the auto-pilot’s course heading to the nearest traffic control station and teleported back to his ship.
“Restore our previous heading,” he told the AI. And as an afterthought, he added, “And cook me up another meal, that business made me hungry.”