"Dude WOAAAAAAAAAAAH!" Kevin said.
Kevin was clutching his leather jacket to himself so tightly it might as well have been his own skin. The last effects of worm hole space played out. The tunnel of space-time shifted to a red color, before finally disappearing completely and spitting them out directly into normal space. New constellations, never before seen by eyes from Earth, could be seen plain as day.
"What in the name of Christ!" Kevin said, clutching the control room wall behind him like his life depended on it.
"Welcome to the greater universe," Sillan said.
Kevin swiftly crawled up to the polyhedron window of the control room and began clinging to it like a lizard. He darted all around in amazement. His very frame of reference for the universe he lived in had been changed drastically again.
"Where in the name of god are we?" Kevin insisted. "Is this a different dimension?"
"In a sense," Sillan replied.
"This isn't blowing your mind?!" Kevin asked.
"I am over seven hundred years old Kevin. I've lost count of how many times I've done this."
Kevin gestured back out the polyhedron window with extreme enthusiasm.
"Yeah, but look!" He exclaimed, gesturing to the area of Omega Centauri.
"Just look! Look at all of it!"
Sillan let out a long sigh, and then turned to face the control rooms main panel.
"Bring it up," Sillan said.
"Fair enough," Spaceship Ksenia's A.I. replied. "You really want to indulge this guy? This could go on for a long time..."
"Bring it up."
A three dimensional map of The Milky Way Galaxy immediately enveloped Kevin, Sillan, and the rest of the control room.
"Siiick!" Kevin said.
"Here we go again," Sillan said.
"We are well outside of the Orion Nebula your solar system lies in. There is a considerable gap in planets with living civilizations in the Orion Nebula. That's why people on your planet question whether there is other life in the universe. There are some other interesting reasons for why they think that. We've now crossed that boundary; hence, the greater Milky Way and universe. From here on out, you'll find everything and anything."
"Where are we landing first?" Kevin asked.
"Well, considering this is Class AAA security, we shouldn't be landing anywhere. Not even to refuel. But, since you decided to jettison half of our food supply and back up rations into the void space, we will need to land soon. After that we will make our second worm-hole jump and then head for the center of the galaxy."
Kevin still looked terribly embarrassed about what had happened. He didn't really know how to apologize to Sillan, so he had just been avoiding the issue altogether.
"I'm going to figure out exactly what planet to land on, and then we will utilize light speed travel to get there."
Kevin looked back out the window at the new constellations. He looked like he was thinking hard about something.
"Yes?" Sillan asked.
"Why does Galawan hate you so much?"
"He thinks I'm responsible for the destruction of his home planet. Which isn't true. It was destroyed by some of the worst beings in the galaxy."
"I doubt you could destroy an entire planet."
Kevin looked out the window again.
"Galawan is really a tragic figure," Sillan said. "That's why I always give him a chance. Even at a young age, he was cursed."
"What happened to him?"
"He was discovered as an infant by the Hilax Monks on planet Chennvast, in the Perseus Arm of the galaxy."
"Can I get a little more context?"
"Here comes the Q and A."
"Hilax Monks," Sillan continued. "Are a thousand year old spiritual tradition throughout the Perseus arm. It's incredibly fascinating."
"How do you know about everything," Kevin asked with wide eyes.
Sillan began to gesture with his hands. He held one hand down low.
"Most beings in the galaxy live a typical life even if they posses space travel and are connected to the greater galaxy."
Sillan raised another hand above the other one.
"And I'm up here."
"Don't you think that's an egotistical way to look at things?"
"You are using Earth logic."
"How many people in the galaxy are like that?" Kevin asked.
"Probably ten thousand or so. Considering there are trillions of lives in The Milky Way."
"Anyway," Sillan continued, lowering both hands. "Being an especially tragic individual; Galawan, although taken care of by the monks, was also trained wrong by them, as a joke."
"They trained him wrong as a joke?"
"It's as hilarious as it is tragic. Trust me. We will be seeing him again, and you will see what I am talking about...Galawan spent twenty years on Chennvast with The Hilax. They taught him ridiculous things like "strengthening bad energy" and how to "lower your level of consciousness."
"What the hell?"
"I told you he was a tragic figure. Most likely the Hilax Monks could see his future, and that was the best they could do. Although, I find it a little cruel."
"Then what happened?"
"Planet Chennvast was completely destroyed by The Ishmaru. Everything that's happened to him in life has been one tragedy after another. Being trained to practice bad energy on top of that would twist anyone's psyche."
"And he blames you?"
"I really don't want to get into that."
"I see there is no discouraging you, Kevin. The Ishmaru are the worst of the worst in The Milky Way. They are basically an interstellar crime syndicate, disguised as a interplanetary government. Most of the bad things happening in The Milky Way now, are their fault. Their home planet, Ren, is about the most disgusting place you could imagine. It's even worse than the entertainment planets in the Manufactured Solar Systems Region."
"What do they do?"
"AHEM!" Sillan coughed, trying to change the subject.
"What do the Ishmaru do?"
"I told you. They are an interstellar crime syndicate, disguised as a government. They have their hand pretty far up The Federation. And, probably, The Vend too. You'll see."
"No! You are out of questions Earth citizen. Trust me this is for both of our benefit. Just takes things as they come. And try to have a good week."
"I can imagine finding out there is a whole galaxy filled with beings and history must seem overwhelming! It's actually considered a sin among the Lunerians to figure out everything in one shot. Why don't you walk around Spaceship Ksenia while I try to figure where we are going to re-stock our food supplies. The relaxation room is in the very back."
Kevin took one more look out the control room window of Spaceship Ksenia. He could see the greater shape and curve of the Milky Way Galaxy. It was much more visible than from his bedroom window as a child. He almost felt like it was looking back at him. The dense, dark blue glow that stretched on for trillions of miles had a much more defined personality.
Kevin walked away from Sillan. He passed through the automatic, parting doors of the ship's control room. The ships A.I. system give him an exasperated sigh as he walked through.
"What did I do to deserve that?" Kevin wondered.
"Space is not like I imagined it."
He immediately noticed the color codded lines on the floor, that directed people through the ships interior.
"This looks like the lines they use in hospitals," Kevin thought. "How fascinating."
There were three doors on each side of the hall, uniformly spaced. The entire hallway was pure white. Kevin was amazed how much Spaceship Ksenia looked like it was from the movie “2001 A Space Odyssey.” He had no idea what the colored lines were supposed to indicate.
"Where did he say the recreation room was?"
Kevin tried walking into the first door on the left. There was no door handle, or any kind of element to the door that could be deduced as an opening mechanism. Kevin tried leaning on the door, but nothing happened.
"What the hell?" He wondered.
He turned around one hundred and eighty degrees and then pushed on the adjacent white door on the other side of the hall. Suddenly the ships A.I. spoke.
"No!" It said.
"No what?" Kevin replied.
"This room is off limits. You have been instructed to use the recreation room at the end of the hallway. So why don't you just relax."
"Space is harsh," Kevin thought.
"Why can't I go in there?" Kevin yelled towards the space around him, not sure where the A.I. was situated exactly.
"All rooms but the recreation room are strictly off limits."
"Please proceed to the relaxation room at the end of Spaceship Ksenia's hallway."
"Alright...," Kevin sighed.
Kevin realized he was both tired and hungry.
"You are not even real," Kevin said to the A.I. as he continued down the hallway to the relaxation room.
The A.I waited until Kevin was entering the parting door before it responded with a retort.
"Are you?" It said.
The relaxation room was radically different from the rest of the ship. Kevin sat in what (he could only describe as) a bean bag chair from 1970's Earth, except it was also completely foreign looking. It felt incredibly comfortable. He leaned back and inspected the room around him.
"Sigh...what a crazy day," he said.
"So this is Sillan's stuff?"
Getting a read on someone who was over seven hundred years old wasn't something Kevin had a frame of reference for. In the corner of the room was a lamp that looked like it was also a form of A.I. It seemed to be reacting to Kevin's mental state and adjusting it's light in response. It was emitting types of light Kevin had never seen before.
"Fair enough," he thought.
There was a giant rug that tied the whole room together; which made Kevin laugh. It looked like it was made from the skin of an exotic beast from a far off corner of the galaxy. Kevin tried to imagine what planet, in what solar system, in what arm of the galaxy the beast was from. He thought back to a high school astronomy class. He remembered hearing there was something like one hundred billion planets in the Milky Way. He laughed again about there being an animal skin rug in outer space.
"That never goes out of style."
All the walls in the room were lined with a foam like material. Kevin guessed it might be providing some form of sound dampening. In the adjacent corner to the A.I. lamp, was something that looked like a video game. It appeared to have a myriad of options as to which game you could play. The design was similar to a pinball machine, except it had an interface that looked like it utilized touch (or possibly thought) instead of buttons. It was probably A.I. too. The games on the machine looked eerily similar to something you would see on "Rick and Morty."
Kevin couldn't help but sense (from Sillan's decorations) that Spaceship Ksenia was a temporary home to him. There seemed to be a conflict (most notable by the sparseness of the decorations) between wanting to decorate and not wanting to commit.
"Then again," Kevin continued to think. "How does a seven hundred year old man really see things?"
"Are you psychoanalyzing the master?" The lamp inquired.
Kevin really didn't know what to say to that. Everything that had happened in the last week had left a numbness in the part of his brain that processed experiences like this. He was starting to like it. He already knew more about the universe than the most brilliant scientists on Earth.
Thinking about Earth made Kevin wonder about his friends back home on the blue and green planet, situated in The Orion Nebula, inside the Oort Cloud.
"Jack would really get a kick out of this lamp," he thought.
He started to wonder how the disintegration of two alien beings on McGuile's dance floor had played out after he left. Kevin started to imagine news trucks from all over the world pulling up on Madison Street. He could see Jarrard and Darren being interviewed on global media; explaining the events. Maybe McGuile's would finally get the attention Jarrard had striven for. He wasn't sure if Jack and Darren saw him get onboard Spaceship Ksenia. There were so many bystanders on the roof. Surely someone would have told them what happened to Kevin. Then again, Sillan had "immobilized" them, so who knows what they would think. Perhaps everyone just ended up rationalizing away what had happened. He thought about Jack, Pamela, Lyle and Dustin, plus whoever was crashing in the derelict house now. He wondered if they realized anything had happened to him.
"It will probably be another week before they notice," Kevin thought.
"Ha ha ha," he laughed out loud.
"Are you doing well sir?" The lamp asked.
"I'll be okay," Kevin responded.
He kept laughing and wasn't exactly sure why.
"Perhaps a game of D'Afrrennen Head Ball would do you well, young traveler?" The video game machine calmly insisted, from across the room.
"I also have Black Hole Round Up and Final Fantasy 6."
"You have Final Fantasy 6?"
Kevin looked at his leather jacket again. His clothing was the only other thing from Earth that had joined him in his departure. The leather jacket was something he had found the year before he moved to Jack's House at 1234 Cedar Street. He had found it with his ex-girlfriend Cecilia, when they were investigating an abandoned house. The previous tenant had completely disappeared, and no one, including the neighbors, knew what had happened. The police had ruled out any foul play. Cecilia had discovered the house, because she was hired to clean it a week before the tenants disappeared. She took Kevin there to show him the mystery, and he found the leather jacket hanging against a moldy chair in the basement. The jacket was dark black leather, with a series of patches sewn and ironed on to it. One of them was for a baseball championship. There was another one, that, ironically, said "Space Command!" Kevin wasn't one to take another persons clothing (even if they had mysteriously disappeared) but something about the jacket called to him.
Kevin hadn't realized the irony of it until this moment. He laughed to himself again.
"It's not smart to over identify with articles of clothing," the lamp said.
"Is the whole ship like this?" Kevin said out loud.
He took another glance at Sillan Octavian's relaxation room. The rest of the objects were purely for decoration, and didn't seem to have any functional use. There was another lamp in an opposite corner from the A.I. one. It looked like it was from Ancient China. The doors to the relaxation room parted smoothly, and Sillan entered.
"You're using that for a chair?" Sillan asked Kevin, in response to the thing he was laying on.
"It's not a chair?" Kevin asked.
"I'm just messing with you," Sillan said. "Did the lamp tell you to do anything weird?"
"It read my mind."
"Okay," Sillan said out loud, thinking. "That's normal. It tried convincing me to sell my own limbs on the black market the other day. It seems like it's A.I. was degrading, but if it was just trying to help you, it's probably back to normal."
"Why would it try to convince you to sell your own limbs?"
"A.I. does extremely strange and hard to define things when it degrades. The layers of digital logic circuitry start to distort each other and create bizarre modes of simulated consciousness."
"It's pretty fascinating actually. I know a Lunerian who did research and published a study on it. It's called 'What We Learn From Alternate Modes Of Simulated Consciousness; When Observing Degrading A.I.' His name is Enren Fenso."
Kevin just stared back at Sillan.
"Anyway," Sillan continued. "I figured out where we are going to land and resupply. It's a planet that is twenty light minutes from here."
"There are light minutes?"
Sillan didn't reply.
"Are you angry about what I did?" Kevin asked honestly.
"I could be," Sillan said, putting his hands on his hips.
Sillan had changed his clothes from before, and was now wearing an almost completely white outfit that looked like something Bruce Lee would wear, if he had a spaceship. The laser pistol that was concealed by his trench coat at McGuiles was plainly visible now.
"Your reaction was understandable. This is your first day in the greater galaxy, and you were confronted with an intense and immediately dangerous situation. And to be fair, you did manage to launch my ships carbon nano-fiber net and distract Galawan. Which was hilarious. So, I'm not mad."
"Where are we landing?"
"We are going to land in the Undellian Star System, located on the very edge of the massive Omega Centauri star cluster. It's the largest collection of stars in the galaxy, with just over ten million star systems. About 90% of the planets are level 0 technology planets. The Undellian system is a system of seventeen planets, which are all part of The Federation. We are going to land on the Undellian's main home world, Tarn. It's quite fascinating. They have a Dyson Sphere around their star, which they call 'Tendallian."
"The star is called Tendillian-
"Tendallian," Sillan corrected.
"Is...'Tendallian' the name of the star or the Dyson Sphere?"
"It refers to both," Sillan explained. "They consider their sphere and the star to be one in the same."
"Tarn also has one of The Vend's offices located at the heart of the planet's governing city. Well...the whole planet is basically a giant city. It's two continents divided and surrounded by a massive super ocean that encompasses the whole planet. You're gonna' love it."
"Do I need to strap into a chair or something?" Kevin asked.
"Yeah, like a safety belt. For the landing."
"It's not like that, I'm going to lock into the planets gravity and then lower Spaceship Ksenia completely vertically until we land on the ground. There won't be any serious effects from moving through the atmosphere."
"I have to use the bathroom," Kevin said.
"Then just go to the bathroom! You seem to be conceptualizing Spaceship Ksenia as some sort of commercial Earth craft."
"Where is the bathroom?" Kevin asked.
"It's the first door on the right after the relaxation room," Sillan said.
Sillan stood still for a moment and looked like he was going through some sort of mental process. The circle on his lift cheek rotated once.
"Okay, it's unlocked now."
Kevin found his way out of the relaxation room and into the bathroom down the hall. The ships A.I. put up a short, sarcastic fight before opening the door for him. It was obvious that the bathroom of Spaceship Ksenia was assembled from a different ship. The entire small room had a very crude design, with harsh, jagged and rusted metal edges that looked worn by many space flights and possibly battles. Kevin sat down to relieve himself. He finally had a minute to be alone and think to himself.
He was getting up when the toilets A.I made a comment.
"Thank you for your patronage!" The toilet stated.
Kevin doubled over laughing the second the toilet talked. The fourth A.I. was too much. Kevin made his way back to the control room. To his surprise Sillan was already doing the ships final landing calculations.
"Why don't you sit down in that chair," Sillan said, gesturing to the control rooms second seat.
The planet Tarn was taking up most of the view form the control room window. It was a massive planet, probably twice the size of Earth (Kevin guessed). The color and atmosphere was about the same as Earth's. It was blue and green. The ocean was bluer and the green parts of the planet were even greener. Some parts of the ocean were an amazingly dense, dark blue. The green parts looked like they were jungles. The rest of the planet was a massive, multi continent spanning city, like Sillan had described. Kevin was reminded of the planet "Coruscant" from Star Wars. The imposing, giant planet slowly came closer and closer as they prepared to merge with it's atmosphere.
"I thought the landing didn't have any intensity to it?" Kevin replied, as he sat down and buckled the seat belt of the other chair.
"Safety first," Sillan said.
The time it took to enter Tarn's atmosphere was mind blowing-ly rapid to Kevin. He watched as the giant planet swallowed them. The stars around them disappeared and the view of the planet's continents took over. Kevin was amazed to find it was sunset on planet Tarn. Now that they were in it's atmosphere, the effects of the sun could be seen. The endless sea of stars was gone and the world of Tarn became real. It only took a matter of minutes before the vast continents gave way to visible cities. Then the cities gave way to discernible buildings. The sky scrappers on Tarn were at least twice as large as the largest ones on Earth. Kevin looked back up to Tarn's sun. He could see the Dyson Sphere, Tendallian. The entire sun had a massive, interconnected net around it. Each piece of the net must have been hundreds of miles long. It was absorbing all of it's energy, while still providing the sunlight the citizens of Tarn must have been watching for thousands of years.
"This is Denlent," Sillan explained. "It's the second largest city on Tarn...if you can even distinguish the cities from each other now."
"Cool," Kevin said.
"Denlent is the capitol of Tarn."
Spaceship Ksenia finally landed on the roof of a large tower. Sillan hit a few buttons and then watched as the ship landed itself the rest of the way. The tower they were on was a residential landing pad, Kevin guessed.
"Alright," Spaceship Ksenia's main A.I. said. "Another landing, on another planet. Classic."
Spaceship Ksenia released some sort of exhaust before finally resting on the thoroughly laid out landing pad. It had a symbol on it (in the regional dialect) to indicate where to land. Sillan's facial tattoos rotated in response. Kevin stood up and gazed out the cock pit window to take in the view. The seemingly endless skyscrapers and city buildings of Denlent were a sight to behold. The Dyson Sphere sun slowly set around them. It was nighttime on Tarn.
"I'm incredibly hungry right now," Kevin said, still looking out the window.
"Okay," Sillan said. "We will find somewhere to eat."
"A human organism from his planet can survive eight to twenty one days without food," the ships A.I. stated.
"Yeah thanks," Sillan replied.
"What the hell?" Kevin said.
There was a clear view once they walked down the landing ramp of the ship. Most of the buildings on Denlent were made of transparent glass. Everything else looked like it was composed with building materials exceptionally more non-corrosive than planet Earth's. The very last edge of the setting Dyson Sphere could be seen moving away. Denlent must have obeyed the same rules as New York City, Earth. The cities endless, transparent walkways were filled with all manner of intelligent life coming and going with the night.
"This looks like the end of the work week," Kevin said.
"It is," Sillan said.
An alien being with four eyes walked by them. He had two eyes above where normal human eyes were. His skin was a muted green color, and he stood about seven feet tall. He gave Sillan and Kevin a glance, and then looked at Spaceship Ksenia. He seemed to be offended by their presence (and the design of their ship, for some reason). He made an alien scoffing noise as he walked by.
"What was that about?" Kevin asked.
"That was a Affendisian," Sillan explained. "They find anything even remotely recreational to be offensive. They are the natural inhabitants of the Undellian Star System, all seventeen planets."
"Where are we going?" Kevin asked.
"Well...it's a little embarrassing," Sillan said. "But we are going to The Vend's planetary office to see if I can get an advance."
"An advance?" Kevin asked.
More intelligent, sentient life forms of varying races walked, pushed and curved around them. Kevin couldn't help but feel he had been transported to New York City in an alternate dimension.
"I am going to get an advance on the money I'm being paid for transporting you to The Illawayan; so we can use the money to resupply our food. After that, we are going to have to travel to the rougher parts of the city...to get a good deal, naturally."
"Do all the Lunerians do stuff like this?" Kevin asked.
"I'm known for being a renegade among the Lunerians," Sillan said. "If that is what you are getting at. But, I really don't see the problem with interacting with whoever I need to, as long as I do things honestly."
"So we are basically going to a bank," Kevin said, changing the subject.
"The Vend are also a galactic bank. Their financial branches are mostly run by Affendisians; and some of the more refined Higher Kal-Vant's."
"What's the hell is a Higher Kal-Vant?"
"They are an alien race that has proliferated themselves among most of the galaxy in the last thousand years. They are mostly aggressive and war like; which is why they have established home worlds in hundreds of star systems. The ones that prefer leadership positions and intellectual work are called Higher Kal-Vant, to use their own words for it. Lower Kal-Vant are the ones that prefer battle and aggressive tactics."
"What do they look like?" Kevin asked.
"You'd probably think they look like lizards."
About the Creator
Po Ivey lives in Madison, WI, where he writes fiction in his free time. His inspiration includes Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. He write's about the nuances that make the whole world a cast of actors. He also plays music.
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