Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday Fiction for September 11, 2009

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Karlene on her new blog, Homespun Expressions. We have a double-reason to visit her blog; check out the spiffy new blog, and MckLinky for all the other spiffy submissions this week.

I promise you, though, that the word “spiffy” does not appear in my story. I think it would have been pretty spiffy, though, to have somehow worked it into the science-fiction setting.

Anyway, here is Part 2 of “Hogs of the Heavens,” which my wonderful wife has told me is the strangest story I’ve ever written. I swear that the old Muppets skit, “Pigs In Space” had nothing to do with this story, though I have long been a fan of the Muppets. If you are new to this story, you'll probably want to start with Part 1.

Part 3 will run next week, and this week we’ll get more details on Cranston’s odd situation.

Maybe I should run a contest for Mocking Sow’s real name…

Hogs of the Heavens

Part 2

By Rick Higginson

She dropped from the chair onto all fours, and crawled close to him. With her mouth close to his ear, she whispered, “What star are you from, Cranston?”

He leaned away from her. “What are you doing?”

“I don’t want to risk being overheard. What did you think I was doing?”

“As close as you were getting, I was wondering if you were taking him seriously on the ‘mate’ thing. No offense intended, but I’m really not into cross-species romance.”

She sat on the floor next to him. “His Boarness was completely serious about making you my mate, and he was just as serious in giving me the choice of whether I would take you as my boar. I suspect your world works differently from ours, doesn’t it?”

“Well, for all the old lines I’ve heard about Boss Hog, we don’t have anyone like the Big Boar.”

“Our society is all about status and image. His Boarness rules not only by holding the position, but also by maintaining his reputation as the dominant boar. Part of this involves denying stature to those that might somehow threaten his position.”

“Is that why he mocks you?”

“Yes. When I first came to him with what I’d learned, he believed it could diminish his status by creating doubt about all that we have been taught. Declaring you my mate is further humiliation, because it means he has declared that I could never be suitable as a mate for even a sickly boar. He added the additional insult to you by letting me decide what your status would be – platonic mate, or intimate boar. He esteems you lower than a heretic sow.”

“I never thought I’d cross the stars just to be insulted by a pig.” He scratched an itch on his leg. “I’m sorry if I insulted you by thinking the wrong thing when you whispered to me.”

“Will you be insulted if I tell you that I haven’t been alone here long enough to want you for my boar?”

He chuckled. “No, I won’t find that insulting at all.” He lowered his voice. “I was born on a colony world in the Procyon system. The vessel I serve on is a survey ship that conducts research on distant systems and identifies which are promising for further exploration.”

“A colony world? Are your people not originally from that world?”

“My ancestors are from the same star your ancestors are from – a planet called Earth that orbits a star called Sol.”

“You are certain we’re from the same world?”

He looked at her and raised his eyebrows. “How else would you explain all this? Humans and pigs are both native to Earth. You speak English, which is a language from Earth, and if that isn’t enough, the reason I’m even here is that we picked up a distress beacon from a derelict colony vessel orbiting this planet.”

“Then it’s true? We did come from the stars originally?”

“I’d say so. This world has all the signs of having been terraformed into a habitable planet, though the colony vessel that I found was declared lost over two hundred years ago. That’s why I came, instead of the main vessel. In cases of old distress beacons, all we usually find are wrecks and no survivors. A small scout ship is more than enough to verify that, and if there are still survivors, then after this long, there probably isn’t a big hurry to get a rescue vessel here.”

She crawled across the floor to the pad, and rummaged beneath it. Mocking Sow stood up, clutching something close to her chest, and walked back to where he sat. She seemed indecisive for a few moments, before slowly revealing what she held. “Can you tell me what this is, then?”

The glint of the composite synthetic case caught his eye, and he reached for it. “I promise I’ll give it back,” he said, when she didn’t immediately release it.

“I’ve guarded this for so long, because it was the one thing that kept me from thinking that maybe I was crazy, and that I’d imagined everything.” She loosened her grip, and fidgeted nervously while he brought it into one of the light beams.

“Wow; I remember seeing one of these in a museum when I was a boy. They haven’t used Databs like this in over a hundred and seventy five years. Where did you get it?”

“I was a scholar before I became Mocking Sow. There was a group of us exploring an ancient, abandoned settlement in the wastelands, and I found it there. What does it do?”

“It’s a data tablet. It interfaces with the data systems on the colony vessel and landing vessels, for both storing and retrieving information. Depending on the access level of the user, it could also be used for remote control of a vessel.” He shook his head. “Did you show this to his Boringness?”

“No. He refused to even listen when I tried to tell him I had evidence, and I realized that if he saw it, he would take it as a prize and I’d never see it again.”

He held the Datab close to his face. “Rescue Access Override: Confirm,” he said.

The Datab face lit up. “Override, confirmed. Command?” it said.

“Active AI search, picowave spectrum.”

“One AI found. RSV Voidrunner, access code required. Command?”

“Standby.” The Datab face dimmed.

Mocking Sow stared at the device. “All I had to do was talk to it?”

“It would only have worked if you knew the correct command protocols. The Rescue Override is a universal command for all data systems since the first exploration missions. I’m a bit surprised the Datab still works. They’re built to last, but it has been a long time since this one left the factory.” He looked around. “You said you had a team? Did they see this?”

“Some of them.”

“His Boorishness wouldn’t listen to them, either? Are they prisoners here, too?”

“No. They heard what happened to me, and kept silent about what they found. I’ve often wished I had, too.”

“Is there any way we can get out of here and to an open area nearby?”

“I could leave, but it’s pointless. I’m known as a heretic, and anyone who finds me outside of the Palace could do whatever they wished to me. Most would kill me on sight.”

“Listen; Voidrunner is a single crew scout vessel, but she can carry several passengers. With this Datab, I can remotely bring Voidrunner here. You can escape all this.”

“Where would I go? I’m still a heretic, no matter how far I run from the Palace.”

“Maybe his Soreness can drown out all dissenting voices, but there’s no way he can drown out the sound of Voidrunner lifting into the sky over his palace. I can take you to the colony vessel in orbit, and we can find out what really happened here.”

To be continued…


Unknown said...

I can't wait till next week. This is getting interesting!!!

Dee Yoder said...

Talk about being brain-washed (or is it hog-washed?)! Mocking Sow is too afraid to escape when the opportunity is right in front of her. This may be an advanced case of Stockholm Syndrome. Will she snap out of it in time? We'll see...

BethL said...

I laughed at "his soreness"... now I'm quickly headed to Chapter 3.. :)