tagSci-Fi & FantasyHot House Crustacea Ch. 01.2

Hot House Crustacea Ch. 01.2


(Inspired by Seduced On The Bridge by Little White Mouse)

"Oh! My! God! We're on a spaceship!"

What else could it be? The room was right out of Star Trek; circular, with walls festooned with consoles and display screens, flashing multicolor lights and strange hieroglyphics. The ceiling was a dark gray with vented air ducts arranged like a chessboard. Four flat screen monitors floated near the ceiling, at ninety degree angles to each other, forming a revolving square. The monitors displayed areas of the ship; the girls recognized some of the creatures. The monitors were suspended in mid-air, without any connection to the ceiling or other structure.

Below the monitors floated another flat screen. This one displayed a blue-green pattern, circular like a radar screen. Finally, and as much a confirmation of their location as any, a huge semi-circular viewing window, taking up half the room, and displaying a panoramic view of stars unseen by any human, until Tandy and Sue walked into the room.

"Oh God, Tandy! We've been kidnapped by aliens!"

"Yep, it looks that way." Tandy gazed at the window in wonder. She noticed a few other peculiarities.

"Sue, it's hot in here." Well not hot, but the room was very warm and humid, almost tropic.

"Yeah, and I don't see any place to sit," Sue said.

There were no chairs or benches. The floor was the same transparent glass as the rest of the ship. Instead of seeing into the next level, however, soft white fluorescent light glowed through the floor. The girls were pretty shiny themselves. The oil, sweat, and humidity combined to give the two young women a very slick appearance.

"Sue, be careful. We're still covered in suntan oil and we're sweaty. The floor looks slick."

"Don't worry, Tandy," Sue said, treading carefully. "You know, maybe we could hide up here. It's warm. I don't think those monsters can use the elevator thingie. This could be a good spot to think."

"You have a point, Sue. I want to take a closer look at that...ew! What did I just step in?"

The sticky liquid puddle that Tandy trod in was almost invisible against the bright floor. Slither! "What was that!" Sue cried. Scuttle! Scuttle! "Uh, Tandy. I don't think we're alone."

4782 reactivated; a reasonably good nap by A.I. standards. Its memory diagnostic and repair had done an adequate job. At least it remembered more, and its file access ability had some restoration. Now! About those two primates.

The A.I. went through the records and found some disturbing news. The teleport beam had deposited them in one of the damaged containment cubes; very annoying. It most certainly meant the primates were running loose. The A.I. had enough problems with the other creatures. It ordered the ship to scan for the primates' specific patterns. They were probably dead. The primates didn't look too menacing and some of the creatures were among the galaxy's deadliest.

4782 was mildly surprised to find the primates on the ship's bridge. The furniture had been removed as there were no personnel. The primates would have to sleep on the floor. A message appeared from the database. 4782 accessed and found a legal caution. *Legal caution?*

The A.I. scanned the message: 'This message is to inform SEXES A.I. 4782 that you may have illegally acquired a life form or life forms designated sentient under galactic legal codes. You may be subject to sanctions under Legal Code No...' *Oh dear!* thought 4782. *But I acted correctly!*

4782 scanned the primates and consulted the Xenopedia. The primates were similar to the images (information on the planet was scant) but 'There are several species of primates on Planet No...but one species has evolved into sentience. The species is now the planet's dominant life form.'

4782 scanned through the rest of the article with growing trepidation: 'constructed dwellings, complex social and political structure, varied cultural collectives, primitive technology but the beginnings of space travel.'

*Oh dear! But it was a jungle watering hole...or was it? I could have made a mistake.*

4782 was going to have to explain this to someone; it just couldn't remember who. As for the sentients, the A.I. decided to seal them on the bridge for safe keeping. It sent a note to the food dispenser to construct a diet for the sentients' needs.

4782 found several other alerts in the database: the bridge had climate control problems but they were well within the sentients' tolerance; and, prior to the sentients' arrival, several dozen crustazoids from the planet Krakenia had made their way to the bridge; current location: the heating ducts in the ceiling. There was a possible safety issue regarding the sentients.

*Crustazoids?* The A.I. consulted the Xenopedia: 'Crustazoids...native to Krakenia...semi-sentient, omnivorous (mostly plankton, algae, and seaweed)...known to frequent warm, moist areas... Mating habits: extremely active sexually...known to mate at least ten times per cycle....females are twice the size of males...males fertilize eggs...carried within the females. The larvae hatch and develop within the female, residing in the womb until early adolescence.'

The section regarding reproduction caused some concern: 'In situations where there is a scarcity of females, crustazoids have been known to use host animals. The host, presumably female as well, will carry the larvae until adolescence. Xenobiologists observed the experience as bearing similarities to a normal pregnancy and birth, albeit with peculiar characteristics. Scientists have also observed a phenomenom known as 'fusing', involving two female crustazoids, and occasionally host animals. Crustazoids are known to secrete a wide variety of chemicals. Said chemicals are valued as lubricants, adhesives, soporifics, and sexual stimulants.'

'Xenobiologists suggest that the soporifics are designed to keep the hosts docile during gestation. Host animals are also fed a liquid protein substance during this period. Crustazoids are notable for evolving a sophisticated hygienic and waste disposal system. Xenobiologists suggest that the sexual stimulants allow larvae to feed on the sexual ejaculates produced during gestation. Male crustazoids seem to regard ejaculate as a delicacy.'

The A.I. scanned the article. This was a concern. It could cause complications. The A.I. decided to seal off all passage ways to the bridge. The levels were also sealed to prevent the animals from mingling. *I should have done this sooner,* 4782 thought, but it had earlier preoccupations.

There was really nothing it could do for the sentients except watch. It would monitor the activities but not interfere. 4782 thought there was really something it should be doing. Its memory was still defective, however, so it decided to retreat into a meditative mode. The distress signal program sat unused.

To Be Continued...

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