WoW Fridays: the corner of Bloor St and Somewhere

Well hello there! Another day, another story from last weekend. Don’t worry, it’s a short one; there’s a cold drink on a nearby patio with my name on it, and oh look! one with yours, too. Happy Friday, all!

Before I could get on my way to way, way out of town for my best friend’s 30th birthday, I had to travel through a neighbourhood that was a bit sketchy. Ok, a lot bit sketchy. Now I promise you, my love for certain time-travelling 900 year old aliens notwithstanding, my head’s not always in the clouds. I know there are neighbourhoods like that not so far away from me, and I know that many peoples’ experience of living in this city are very, very different from mine. I don’t know what that would feel like.

I still don’t. But after last weekend, I know that art and light and good things can flourish at any address. On an abandoned storefront at the corner of Bloor St and Somewhere, someone had painted a gorgeous mural that read:

Get up. Get dressed. Go outside. It’s beautiful today.

I may or may not have been all snuffley and snot-nosed by the time I arrived at my friend’s birthday party. It may or may have been because I was so very happy to see her.

And the sun was out.

 

love amb

45 thoughts on “WoW Fridays: the corner of Bloor St and Somewhere

  1. That’s lovely!

    You know what else is lovely? Sherlock!

    We may or may not have binged on the entire series over about a week there.

  2. Pingback: Fit Females, Fancy Fros, and Funny Names In The News #89 | The Blog of Funny Names

  3. Splendid advice! I second Fannie in hoping you enjoyed your weekend, but I think she and I are referring to different weekends πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: The Blog of Funny Names Turns 500! | The Blog of Funny Names

  5. Somewhere deep in the far reaches of Quadrant Xv37, where the last fingers of the Xeothryan Nebula trailed off into faint, wispy strands, Captain Wyd Yud Fae strummed his fingers impatiently on the surface of one of the many panels in the Command Module.

    “What’s the response from Admiral Amb?” Fae tried to control the impatience in his voice, but a little spilled out.

    “Nothing, sir. Radio silence.”

    Fae was silent too as he absorbed this. It was a pebble dropped into the pond of his mind, sending out concentric ripples, little wavelets finally which finally rubbed up against the mossy stones, startling a random, metaphorical frog, demanding some response.

    “What do you mean radio silence!” Fae barked. “This is Admiral Amb we’re talking about, ensign. Admiral Amb. Sparkling, unstoppable, vivacious, Elizabeth Bennet-esque Amb. The lady does not do radio silence!”

    Accustomed to the captain’s moods, the ensign was nonchalant. “Sorry to be the bearer of unwelcome news, sir.”

    Fae was silent again. Then, after half a minute. “Words become superfluous.”

    “Pardon me, sir?”

    “Just stay on that monitor, ensign.”

    Fae paced into some one of the dark corridors that threaded the vessel to brood in solitude.

    Words become superfluous. Had words indeed finally become superfluous? He’d always wondered about that moniker, and what a jarring juxtaposition it posed to Amb’s characteristic verbosity.

    “Computer,” Fae spoke into the emptiness. “What’s the last reported status of Station WBS?”

    “Greetings, Captain,” the soft, pleasant voice intoned remotely. “Posting status at WBS has remained unchanged since your last inquiry. But we have some unusual readings that appear to indicate some form of animated seasonal ornamentation.”

    “What the hell does that mean?”

    “Snow, Captain. Falling snow, to be precise.”

    “Huh?”

    “Atmospheric water vapour frozen into ice crystals and falling in light white flakes, captain.”

    “I know what the heck snow is, darnit! I want to know who activated this ‘seasonal ornamentation’!”

    “Unknown, Captain.”

    “But it must mean Amb is there. She must have activated it.”

    “Your surmise is hasty, captain. Such effects could be automated, scheduled in advance. At least one person is known to have WBS access. Indeed, my own provisional hypothesis is that His Majesty is responsible for this crystal precipitation.”

    “King Dave? How? Why?”

    “His Majesty, out of affection, could have activated the animated ornamentation knowing that Admiral Amb would like it, that it was exactly the sort of characteristic, seasonally decorative, perky Ambishness that could coax her out of seclusion and back into the BoFN Alliance.”

    Fae harrumphed. There was a lot to this theory, but he didn’t want to admit it out loud, at least right away.

    “Will it work?” he finally asked.

    “I am not programmed to prophesy, Captain. Can you state that it another form that I could answer? Would you like a probabilistic conjecture?”

    Fae scowled. “No. That is all.” He paced back toward the Control Module.

  6. “Captain,” the AI interfaced interjected softly. “Do you have a minute?”

    “I got all the time in the known space time continuum, computer.” Fae was seated in the Command Module. “Whatcha got for me?”

    “I have noted some fascinating effects at Station WBS.”

    Fae perked up. “Really? What’s going on over there?”

    “Ice crystal precipitation is controlled along the X axis. If the cursor is at any point in the center, that is, if the value of X is O, animated snow falls vertically. If the cursor moves into quadrant II or III of the Cartesian plane, the snow falls in a contrary direction, that is, diagonally to the right. If, on the other hand, the cursor moves into quadrants I or V, the snow likewise falls diagonally to the left. This indicates that values greater than 0 produce wind in a direction from the right, schematically, a ‘West wind,’ and that values less than one generate wind in a direction from the left, that is, a schematic ‘East wind.'”

    “Speak English,” Fae sighed.

    “The animated snowfall is variable. It drifts in a direction controlled by the cursor in the user interface.”

    “And this is important . . . why exactly?”

    “I cannot assess its relative importance, Captain. But it is a very pleasant effect and simulates real snow quite nicely, don’t you think?”

    “What I think, computer, is that you’re wasting my time! We’re looking for traces of Amb-related activity, not for drift patterns of animated precipitation crystals. OK?!?”

    “Very well, then, Captain,” the AI concluded cheerfully.

  7. “Cool.”

    “What is ‘cool’?” Fae turned to address ensign Smith with irritation.

    “I was just playing with the snow system at WBS Computer was talking about. Did you know higher values on the x axis, positive or negative, increase both angle and velocity of the drift? Neato!”

    “Ensign, I’d appreciate it if you–”

    “Captain.” Computer’s ever placid voice interrupted again. “Level 4 sub-space communication is incoming. Would you care to receive it here, or in your quarters.”

    “I’ll take it here.” Fae had a queasy feeling, and sure enough, the holographic projection of Baroness Elizabeth Phud Phor Phun stretched into view. She did not look happy.

    “Baroness Liz, great to see ya!”

    Serious effort was required to produce that greeting. High ranking nobility in the star system Culinaryus and close ally of Admiral Amb, the baroness was not the person Fae wanted to chat with right now.

    “Great to see me my foot! Have you located the Admiral yet? That’s what I want to know.”

    “Baroness, it’s such an unbelievable coincidence that you dailed up now! We’ve discovered some unusual activity at Station WBS. We’re working on a complete analysis but our preliminary assessment is, uh, atmospheric water vapour frozen into ice crystals and falling in light white flakes. Through user interface these drifts can be controlled not only angularly but for speed. It’s pretty amazing.”

    “So let me get this straight, Captain underpants. We sent you I don’t even know how many parsecs into the far reaches of the Xeothryan Nebula to discover that WBS has animated snow at Christmas. Marco Polo would be proud.”

    “With all due respect, your eminence,” Fae curtsied, “I think you may not be seeing the deeper significance of this, uh, simulated meteorological phenomenon. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and where there’s animated snowdrifts at WBS there’s . . . well, there’s Admiral Amb.”

    “Is that what your computer says?”

    Dang.

    “Uh, to tell you the truth, this vessel’s computer is kind of stuck on speculation mode and won’t make a positive identification, and, well, you know, heck, it’s just a machine and everything, and, uh . . .”

    “Put your computer on right now. It’s the only sentient being that has a whip of sense on that oversized, overpriced, and highly over-rated interstellar vehicle of yours.”

    Fae sighed. “Computer. The Baroness Elizabeth would like a word with you.”

  8. “Your eminence.” the AI purred. “It is both an honor and–if I may say so–a delight to address you again. And may I take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and, in your stellar configuration, a Joyous Zsythriamisc.”

    “Always such a charmer, computer!” The Baroness almost seemed to blush. “Now, down to business. Your (erhem) captain informs me you have some speculations about the Admiral.”

    “Not precisely about the Admiral, your Eminence. I had some conjectures regarding the activation of the animation sequence at station WBS.”

    “Computer, my dear, it’s Christmas. It always snows at WBS on Christmas.”

    “True, your eminence. But my captain noted, correctly in my opinion, that the animated sequence is likely to have been activated by some personage. It is not, after all, a natural phenomenon.”

    “Scheduled animation is childsplay. I fail to see the relevance of this, though I understand the need of your (erhem) captain to come up with something to justify this costly search to which we have committed our Imperial resources. And of course you are programmed to be faithful to your fearless leader. I won’t hold it against you that you stick up for him, my dear.”

    “Be that as it may, your Eminence, I suspect it is highly likely that your His Majesty himself activated the snow drifts.”

    “King Dave? Preposterous! How could he access WBS?”

    “He is the King, your Eminence. And if you’ll recall the great Davember Contention, he used his access to WBS, which the Admiral had voluntarily granted him, to infiltrate it and emerge victorious in the Battle of the Memes, a brilliant strategic move that is taught at our military academies to this day.”

    The Baroness sighed with impatience. “Again, I fail to see the relevance of this speculation. Suppose it were true. How does it help us in any way?”

    “Indeed, your Eminence. On that subject, I hoped that you might enlighten us further on this aspect of our current difficulties.”

    “Me?” The Baroness was caught off guard, then speechless. Fae didn’t fail to notice it.

    “Wait a minute, Baroness,” Fae interjected. “Is there something you know that you’re not telling us?”

    “Impertinent creatures!” The holographic projection folded to a point, leaving emptiness behind.

    “Nice work, Computer! I like your style!”

    “Thank you, Captain. That means much to me.”

    “But what is this all about?”

    Indeed, captain. Indeed.”

  9. “Another incoming communication, Captain. Level 3.”

    “Put it up.”

    The projection of an edict bot appeared.

    “By discretionary Imperial Decree your mission is terminated and the commander of the vessel who is receiving this message, personal identification code CD6784787dHfJKjS8hb89 vessel identification code rKNBND93840, is hereby ordered to begin the return to Imperial Command on Illustrious to face reprimand in addition to a possible penalty to be discharged in a nominal but not insignificant pecuniary transaction.”

    “That is so mean, just slapping a number on me and fining me like a common space lane jay jumper. That just hurts.”

    “I repeat, by discretionary Imperial Decree your mission–”

    “is terminated and I am repwimanded to skulk back to Cranio-up-Rectus to face a wepwimand, and a stewn widdo swap on my widdo wist.”

    “Irreverence and impertinence, as well as cultural insensitivity, are noted in your response and this may result in an increase in the gravity of the reprimand and–”

    “An inkweese in the pekwuniawy twansaction. Listen, bot. I don’t want to stay out here on this wild goose chase invented by whatever powers that be authorized your little message, but you tell whoever it is that when I get back it’s me who’s gonna want an apology, personally handed to me in an envelop on a plush velvet cushion, and let em know that I may have a few pecuniary issues of my own for time wasted on this useless shadow mission. Or, tell you what, don’t even bother. My friends in the Counselor’s Guild will be dailing ’em up soon enough. You have anything to add to that, Computer?”

    “Indeed I do, Captain.” A flurry of high speeds blips, whirrs and squeaks ensued between the two interfaces. The squeaks seemed entirely on the side of the edict bot, who folded up and disappeared.

    “Guess you told him/her.”

    “In a manner of speaking, Captain. How shall we occupy ourselves during our return?”

    “You know, the Baroness seemed so dismissive of that snow on WBS that I wonder, just wonder, if there isn’t something going on there after all. Ensign, record all that snow starting right now, because it may get turned off when the holidays are over. I want complete records. Computer, start running every kind of cryptographic analysis you can think of on those snow drifts and see if you can find any kind of pattern.”

    “Captain, I must say, I find it quite heartening to see you rising to the occasion and taking command, here. The ship feels like a ship again.”

    “So, I guess that means you’re not going to subspace that resume to Baroness Elizabeth?”

    “Captain! To think that you would question my loyalty in such a manner!”

    Fae chuckled.

  10. “We got snow drift cessation at Station WBS, Captain.” It was ensign Smith. “I guess the holidays are over. But I got it recorded to the end.”

    “Good.”

    The ship was doing Woof 5, tacking a fast wormhole back to Illustrious.

    “Computer, how’re those analyticals going?”

    “Cryptographic analysis is nearly complete Captain. There is indeed text hidden in the crystal precipitation. I have only to work out the last few symbols. Would you like preliminary results?”

    “Give um to me.”

    “First of all, the drifts occur in a recurring loop. The length of the loop varies according to speed, which in turn varies according to cursor placement, velocity rising or falling according to the distance from 0 on the X axis.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. What does it say?”

    Computer ignored the interruption. “When the value is O, the duration of the repeating loop is 14:35:29:46.”

    “What?”

    “Fourteen minutes, thirty five seconds, 29 miliseconds and 46 nanoseconds, Captain.”

    Fae sighed.

    “As the snow crosses any horizontal line on the X axis it marks values. These values can be converted to numbers which can in turn be assigned letters of the alphabet, and we assume further that Alpha is 1 and Zeta 29 (I am of course using the RIA, or Recognized Interstellar Alphabet). The value 0 marks a ‘space’ in text, which usefully indicates separate words. At this point, the analysis can hardly be called ‘cryptographic,’ since, once this crude encoding system is understood it is quite plain for anyone to see.”

    “Plain as day, Computer. So, what does it say?

    “The encoded message reads, ‘Help I’m being held prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie facto–‘ In point of fact, I had not completed the decoding when you asked but now I have. The last word is ‘factory’.”

    Fae sat up and grabbed the sides of the chair. “A distress call! But what’s a Chinese fortune cookie?”

    “An old Terran confection, Captain. And the conclusion about distress may be premature. The statement has a 20th century Terran provenance and appears to be a standard joke.”

    “‘Help I’m being held prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory’? That’s not even vaguely funny.”

    “Cultural context is needed, Captain. Chinese restaurants often served this confection at the end of the meal. Breaking open said confection, which was essentially a triangle of dough twisted into a toroid-like configuration, customers could find a short message on a narrow strip of paper, which would characteristically offer a ‘fortune’ to the customer, such as, ‘You will meet a tall, dark stranger’ or ‘Beware of Western winds.'”

    “I’m still not getting the side-splitting guffaws off this, Computer.”

    “Well, the joke, Captain, is that a customer breaks open their fortune cookie and sees the message, ‘Help, I’m being held prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory.’ This is a rather amusing scenario, since the content of the message is so far off expectations as to produce a somewhat jarring discombobulation. Reviewing historical data bases, I can see that the joke usually produced a chuckle or at least a smile, at least the first time it was heard. Do you not find it amusing?”

    Fae stared ahead blankly. “I guess it must be that cultural context thing you were talking about. So, not a distress call?”

    “My preliminary surmise it that this is a bit of a ‘prank’ on the person, in this case an artificial intelligence, that decodes the text. Like someone hearing the joke, the decoder is expecting something and finds instead something else, which makes said personage the friendly target of a jest. I won’t rule out that there is a meta-level of analysis, where what appears to be a jest is in fact a genuine distress call, but I find it unlikely.”

    “Hmm . . .” Fae massaged his jaw. “Well, maybe we’ll get the rest of the punchline back at Imperious.”

    “We gotta strap on, Captain,” ensign Smith said, as if on clue. “Slipping off this wormhole in 5 minutes, sir. Prepare for de-acceleration effects.”

  11. One didn’t “navigate” the skies of Illustrious. One was routed, sorted and directed amidst all the other vessels that floated like motes of dust down toward its jagged, towering spires. Fae often compared it to being like luggage sorted in a Womrhole Hub. But it did give Fae some leisure to chug medicated beverage which would hopefully take the edge off the headache from the jump.

    “Captain!” It was ensign Smith. “Admiral Amb spotting! She’s made a brief appearance in the BoFN system!”

    This didn’t completely surprise Fae as he was coming to the conclusion that this whole “Finding Amb” scenario was an elaborate ruse inside an elaborate ruse inside perhaps still another elaborate ruse.

    “OK, ensign. I assume it was the real Admiral and not someone stealing her avatar and pretending to be her?”

    “Negative, sir. Linguistic profile matches 100%. It’s either the Admiral or a very good imitator. And no-one fakes that good. With the possible exception of you, sir.”

    “Thanks for the backhanded compliment, ensign.” Fae yawned and stretched. “OK, technically our mission is terminated but keep on the look-out for more sitings.” Fae suddenly looked quizzically into the air. “Computer, you’ve been awfully quiet.”

    “I have nothing to add to ensign Smith’s observations, Captain. And as for my silence, I have been occupying myself playing Quizmythrandyr.”

    “Do I even want to ask what that is?”

    “It is doubtful, Captain. Have you given any thought to protocol and negotiations when we arrive at the Imperial Chambers?”

    The vessel was now spiraling and zigzagging in descent to the palace complex.

    “Naw,” Fae yawned again. “Let’s just play it by ear. But of course, I want you along as my escort.”

    “Why thank you, Captain. An audience with King Dave will be, at the very least, a highly interesting experience.”

    “May you live in interesting times, the old saying goes.”

    “Captain, where did you find that aphorism? It is quite ancient.”

    Fae grinned. “I read it in a Chinese fortune cookie.”

  12. Though Fae was ready for a lot of things when the door to the Imperial Chambers slid open, the first thing to meet his eyes was discombobulating. It was Baroness Liz, holding a tray of funny looking pale green drinks in antique crystal goblets, lined with encrustations around the rims.

    “Diddy! Have a margarita.”

    “Baroness Liz!” Fae peered down at the encrustations as he took a goblet. “Is that sugar?”

    “Of course not! Salt. Go on, try it. New recipe. I want to hear what you think.”

    Fae raised his eyebrows after a generous gulp. “Good. That has some zing! Terran beverage?”

    “Correct. Is Computer with you? I have a virtual version for my favorite AI.”

    “Greetings, Baroness. It is a delight as always to see you. I have indeed imbibed the virtual beverage which has been proffered, and I must say, all things being relative in a disembodied context, that the accepted upload delivers a sour, salty tangy, zesty simulated experience quite nicely.”

    “I’m so glad! After my unforgivable rudeness to you both–which was not really rudeness by the way, but simulated rudeness.”

    “Please think nothing of it, Baroness. The Captain and I were indeed beginning to grasp that things were not quite what they appeared.”

    Fae scowled slightly, not being quite as willing to let it go.

    “Come, come. We knew you were coming and this party’s for you. Get on in here and say hello to King Dave.”

    Fae looked up at the throne to see King Dave, surrounded by his six bikini clad attendants. King Dave famously called them his “Princess Leias” but Fae never understood the reference.

    “Captain Diddy!” King Dave cried. “Join the festivities! We’ve been waiting for you!”

    The margarita was beginning to kick in, but Fae still clung to his furrowed skeptical brow, and had a few burning questions.

  13. Three margaritas later, with Fae seated in a royal lounge chair and blonde and brunette Princess Leias applying shoulder and foot massages, respectively, Fae didn’t have quite the mojo for protest that he had felt when he first entered the royal chambers.

    “So, what your telling me, your Eminence, is that the expedition to the outer edge of the Xeothryan Nebula was all part (and a pretty small part) of a plan to give cover to Admiral Amb from Strategic Command for being AWOL all these lunar cycles. Is that it?”

    “Well,” King Dave expostulated with some extravagant hand waves, “that’s kind of a crude way of summarizing things, and lacks some of the finer nuances–a little higher on the left tendon, dear?” The King was getting his own ministrations from the redhead. “For instance, you don’t go ‘AWOL’ at Amb’s rank.”

    “His Majesty wants to say that it is termed ‘Unapproved Administrative Leave’ at the rank of Admiral,” Computer interjected, “which would be UAL rather than AWOL.”

    “Thank you,” King Dave quipped. “But anyway, now that Amb’s popped back up in cyberspace we can drop the pretense, everyone comes homes, and we all get back on task doing what we all do best!”

    “Which is?”

    King Dave stared at Fae genuinely puzzlement. “Why,” after a few seconds, “funny names, or course! Is there anything else?”

    It was not even a rhetorical question.

  14. “That’s all well and good, King Dave.” The margaritas had begun to loosen Fae’s tongue. “And I appreciate the minishtrations of your lovely Leias ash much as any red blooded shpace navigator. But aren’t you in violation of some workplace protocols for exploiting these lovely ladies like thish.”

    Fae’s foot and shoulder massages abruptly stopped.

    “Exploiting?” King Dave stared at Fae incredulously for a few seconds, then burst into laughter. It did not stop.

    “Captain,” Computer’s tone was hushed. “Are you not aware that the King’s attendants are highly advanced Androids, each of whose cognitive capabilities is far in excess of my own?”

    “Fembots?” Fae blurted.

    “To be precise, they are specialized hybrids combining the TH1138x assassin, the Z458gh personal bodyguard, and rhgh67689wty Special Forces advance team unit. Furthermore,” Computers tone became even more hushed, “in case you were tempted to mention it. There are no ‘recreational’ features outfitting these extremely advanced mobile AI creations.”

    Fae gulped in recognition that the Leia who had been giving the shoulder massage could casually rip his head off in half a second. If he hadn’t had so many margaritas he would have gulped harder, but as it was, he thought he could think of worse ways to go.

    “I did not know that,” Fae said. Then burped.

    • Oh, I almost didn’t say anything, because I love this so much and was having such a good time reading that I didn’t want to interrupt. But I couldn’t help myself.

      Hi Diddy!!! I’ve missed you, and I’m so sorry that I’ve been AWOL, or UAL, I should say. Life and work and a new puppy and life again have just gotten in the way to a degree that they hadn’t, before. And I’m only one girl and I only have so many words, you know? But I’m ok. I am.

      Eventually I’ll get my online mojo back, I promise! But in the meantime, I really do apologize that I left with no explanation, and I really do appreciate you stopping by here in the meantime. Truly I do!!

      xo.

      • Admiral Amb, there is no need to apologize! I always thought you were stretching yourself too thin anyway, and may have even mentioned it a few times! This is not a call for you to re-engage, I was just having fun with the premise.

        But, durnit, I thought others were going to jump in and it would be one of those interactive story things.

        Nobody wants to play!

        You take care!

      • You intimidate the heck out of everyone else – they think they wouldn’t be able to keep up! It’s not that we don’t want to play, Diddy dearest – it’s that it’s more fun to watch!

        (Ok, that sounded more suggestive than I meant it to. *sigh some things never change, even if you are UAL in the blogging universe! πŸ™‚

      • “It’s not that we don’t want to play, Diddy dearest”

        It’s more like no-one even knows this thread is going on. I was honestly beginning to think I was playing to an empty house here, until your gracious comments!

        But playing to an empty house is not without its poetic appeal.

        Plus, I have a lot of practice over at my blog!

  15. The foot and shoulder massages resumed, and Fae felt the hair of the blonde Leia tickle his face as she leaned over, then the light touch of her lips on his right ear. “It wouldn’t take a whole half second, Captain. Give me some credit.”

    Telepathic, too? “Computer, you didn’t tell me the Leias were telepaths!”

    “It is because I was not aware of it, Captain. I knew that sub-linguistic AI interfaces were an active area of research but had no idea research had advanced to this stage. Miss Leia 5, if you will permit the address of this lowly AI, my admiration for your capabilities is unbounded. I am quite in awe to be in your presence.”

    “Don’t sell yourself short, Computer. You’ve been doing good work out there. We’ve been watching. And you can call me Debra. Or Blondie. Whichever.”

    “A complement from such an exalted colleague is a high compliment indeed. May my service to my Captain, my King, and my Galaxy be fit someday to truly merit it.” Fae could imagine a bow, and thought there was likely some virtual equivalent taking place.

    “Uh . . . Blondie, I mean . . . Debbie . . . If you don’t mind my ashking, how much of my thought prosheshes have you actually been tracking for, I don’t know, say the last fthirty five minutes?”

    Fae felt the lips on his ear again. “I don’t mind your asking. And I’ve been tracking enough to know that you got some messed up stuff going on in there.” A soft tap on the cranium followed. “And messed up in not a totally bad way, if you catch my drift. But I think it’s too bad you go for brunettes more than blondes.”

    “Ouch.”

    The brunette doing the foot massage looked up and smiled like a tigress.

    “Double ouch.”

  16. King Dave stood up abruptly and clapped his hands. “All right, friends, and by friends I mean every sentient being present for this gathering. It’s rally time! And by rally I mean both huddle and pep rally, as in ra ra sis boom ba!”

    Fae squinted in non-comprehension with his mouth half open. Ra ra sis boom ba? It was typical of King Dave to sprinkle his speech with obscure Terran references, like huddle, pep rally, and ra ra sis boom ba.

    King Dave clapped again. “How about another round of margaritas, Baroness?” Liz had just come in with a tray of Crysanthyan delicacies.

    “There’s a great big jugful back in the kitchen area. If you can get two of your sweet girls to salt some fresh goblet rims, fill them up and bring them in.”

    “Ladies, if you please?” King Dave gestured to Barbie and the brunette. Fae wasn’t sure if he was reluctant or grateful to see them go.

    “Yes, a huddle, a plan of action, a pep talk, and then a wild madcap adventure with a ragtag crew! It is just the thing to take the edge off all the royal ennui of moi.”

    “You Majesty, you aren’t planning to send me off another lonely mission to quadrant nowheresville again, are you?”

    “Quite the contrary my good captain!” Another clap. “We’re all going with you!”

  17. Fae was literally speechless, which didn’t stop King Dave from asking, “And what do you think of that?”

    “What do I think of that? Why don’t you just ask one of your Leias what I think of that? It seems like my mind is an open book in this joint. Your majesty.”

    The redhead chimed in. “He thinks his weapons system is minimal and totally inadequate to offer protection against hostile vessels. He doesn’t want responsibility for protecting your majesty without adequate firepower. He thinks his vessel is nowhere near being properly outfitted for a royal entourage. He thinks the quarters will be cramped, squalid, smelly and uncomfortable, and everyone will get on everyone else’s nerves and we won’t be on speaking terms with each other within the space of one Imperian week. He has no idea where you want to go and what you want to do, but strongly suspects it is something whacky, impulsive and ridiculous. He thinks he will be blamed for everything that goes wrong. He thinks you are ‘literally out of your gourd’ which is a Terran reference that he doesn’t understand but picked up from you.”

    King Dave roared with laughter. “Now Diddy, just tell me what you really think!”

    Fae scowled.

    “Hey!” Blondie shot the redhead an icy glance as she carried in a tray of fresh margaritas. “Stay out of Captain Fae’s mind, Dierdre! He’s mine!”

  18. “See?” Fae exclaimed. “This is just what I’m talking about–I mean thinking about. We’ve already got an incipient cat fight between weaponized fembot ninjas over telepathic access, and we aren’t even packed yet. What do you think it’s going to be like when we’re squeezing past each other in the command module and smelling our f*rts and smelly socks.”

    “We don’t wear wear socks. And we don’t f*rt.” Blondie said, leaning over so Fae could take his fourth–or was it his fifth?–margarita.

    “And olfactory sensation is optional for us,” added the Brunette.

    “My dear captain,” King Dave expounded, “all of these scrupulous misgivings. They do you credit, of course. But what if I told you your ship was this very moment being outfitted, at royal expense I might add, with all the modern comforts and luxuries of a five star cruise craft, state of the art navigation hardware, and advanced defensive and offensive weapon systems? Which will all be yours when this mission is complete, along with generous compensation for the duration of our voyages.”

    Voyages. Plural! And what are you doing to my ship? I already got it set up nice and comfortable. Look, your majesty, I never wanted to pilot a war machine! I’ve been perfectly happy doing odd jobs and cargo runs between Cygma 5 and the Fryzthian antilodes.”

    “Think of this as a very odd job, and a great, big cargo run,” Blondie said as she sat herself on the arm rest, leaned into Fae, and slid her arm over his shoulders. “How do you like this cargo, Captain? You can take me anywhere in the galaxy. And beyond.”

    “To infinity and beyoooooooooooond!” King Dave exclaimed.

    Another obscure Terran reference.

  19. Fae sighed. “Blondie, Debbie . . . Look, I can honestly say–and you can easily verify the honesty part–that I have never transported such precious ‘cargo’ as yourself on my vessel, ever. That’s why I don’t want responsibility for you.”

    “Oh,” Blondie cooed. “That is just the sweetest thing I have ever had a carbon based sentience of the male gender tell me. But Captain, we girls can look after ourselves. Computer’s briefing on us was accurate, but not exhaustive. I’m a Class A turret laser blaster and Level 1 anti-ballistic missile defense system expert. The other gals have equal and complementary skills.”

    Fae did a face palm. “Baroness Liz!” He looked around. “Where are you in all this? Use your influence. Talk King Dave out of this insane idea.”

    “Where am I? Well, I’ve seen the remote images of your cooking facilities and I’m still gasping in horror. What have you been eating out there? I think our new kitchen installation will do quite nicely. And as for the quality of the cuisine we’ll be enjoying. Well . . .” The Baroness blushed. “I’m not one to boast. But . . .” She curtsied.

    “Fer cryin out loud, Baroness, what happened to ‘oversized, overpriced, and highly over-rated interstellar vehicle.’ That’s what you said on the dail-up. What made you turn around on that?”

    “You aren’t still mad about that little charade, are you, Diddy? And there, you just said it yourself, ‘oversized.’ That means plenty of room for all of us.”

    “Captain Diddy resists valiantly,” King Dave cried, “but I can see the fissures in the fortress walls! He can’t hold up much longer! Let us redouble our efforts, friends! Those walls will fall!”

    “I can sustain an offensive on this one for a long time,” Blondie purred, cuddling Fae’s head in her arms.

    “Yeah, you just can’t wait to rip this head off and plant it with tender kisses, huh Deb?”

    “Uw!” Blondie shuddered. “What a flirt. You sure know how to push the right buttons on this girl.”

  20. Allright!” Fae stood up. “Allright.”

    Fae exhaled a long breath and started pacing. “Alright. So we go.”

    “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!”

    Fae held up his palm for silence. “But let’s just get one straight here. Computer, music please.”

    The theme for A Man and a Woman began.

    “Not that music, for Pete’s sake! Try the soundtrack for Bluto’s speech in Animal House.

    “That’s better. Now. (Erhem.) Listen up good, everybody. You may be King Dave, and you may be Baroness Elizabeth and you and you and you and you and you and you may be exceptionally good looking ultra advanced military grade androids, but I’m the captain of my ship, and when we’re on my ship that means . . .”

    Fae paused a bit and cleared his throat.

    “That means when I give completely confusing or mutually contradictory orders you do what I say and get us all blown up into little pieces that go tumbling in the deep cold of space forever and ever.

    “That means when I’m totally indecisive, which is 93% of the time, you all exchange extremely puzzled expressions and whisper, ‘What are we supposed to dooooooo?’

    “That means that when push comes to shove and we face the ultimate test and I chicken or weasel out, you all go into the fetal position, suck your thumbs and say ‘Ma-ma.’

    “That means that no matter what, I am commander of my vessel. Unless I decide not to be, like right now. I hereby turn over command of Wdydfae to Computer.”

    “Diddy!”

    “Captain, I do not think . . .”

    “Computer, I have complete trust in you and leave the ship in your capable hands–well, metaphorically speaking of course since you don’t have hands. Oh, don’t worry, everyone. I still retain rights to my vessel and I will remain on it in a purely titular supervisory capacity. I will be in my cabin most of the time, but you may see me wandering the utility corridors in my pajamas and slippers, unshaven, with a crazed, lost look. One of these lovely ladies can leave the Baroness’s delicious meals outside my door. Computer you stay here and work out the details. I’m going to take a long nap. You don’t have to wake me up for departure if I’m still sleeping.”

    Fae walked out of the Royal chambers and back toward the ship.

    “Well, this is not quite the back-slapping camaraderie I envisioned for our launch,” King Dave sighed.

    “But,” he quickly added. “We’ll make it work. We’ll make it work.”

  21. It was a liberating feeling to let it all go. But when Fae had returned to the ship he’d found the new outfitting had not progressed nearly as far along as he’d imagined from the exchanges in the Royal Chambers. He realized he’d be hibernating in his cabin for many more Illustrian rotations with the ship still docked before they even set out. It shouldn’t have made that much difference, but it felt like he and the ship were locked in some kind of symbiotic limbo. Plus, he’d be listening to clangings and drills and welding the whole time.

    He debated whether it would be better to get off and seek some R & R in the dives of Imperious instead, but he’d also talked himself into a good sulk down in the Chambers. His pride wouldn’t let him spoil the effect by being seen partying in the clubs.

    His room console binged and lit up and the auto-voice chimed, “Incoming communication, level 2.” Fae nodded to accept. It was an old fashioned interface.

    The dail-up unfolded and the projection of Amb holding up an under-aged canine appeared. “Hi,Diddy! Missed you! Want to see my new puppy? Say ‘hi, Diddy!'” The Admiral waved a paw back and forth, which the puppy endured with the customary optimistic stoicism of the canine species.

    “I blame all this on you, Admiral.”

    “All what?”

    “Ohhhhhh . . . I don’t know. Chasing across a distant Nebula to find you when you weren’t even gone. Being ordered to come back here by a rude edict bot for equally fake disciplinary measures. Having King Dave and the Baroness ply me with merge-a-liters and fembots so they could take over my ship, tear it apart, put in all this stuff I don’t want, and inaugurate a pointless madcap space voyage with no particular destination in mind. You know, nothing big.”

    “I think you mean ‘margaritas.’ Well, that does all sound kind of silly. But I still don’t get how it’s my fault.”

    Fae sighed. “Never mind.”

    “OK then, Diddy. Bye!” The projection folded up.

      • Thanks, Dave, and thanks for even noticing! It started as just a joke premise a while back about “Finding Amb” and I thought people would join in and it would be one of those whacky interactive stories. But nobody jumped in on the space opera so I kept adding stuff! We were set to go on a mad-cap cross galaxy adventure, picking up or encountering BoFN personalities as we went.

  22. “Dang!” Fae cried. “DANG!”

    “Are you in distress, captain?” It was computer.

    “How long have you been hovering around? No, I just realized that I forgot to ask Amb about the snow and the Chinese fortune cookie thing.”

    “Well, I am we shall have other opportunities to ask, captain. It does not appear an urgent matter.”

    “Why are you calling me captain? You’re captain. I’m . . . advisor board member, or consultant, or retiree-operating-at-titular-capacity, or whatever.”

    “Yes, that was a very good jest, captain! It was quite amusing! And now that we’re back on the ship we can bring that charade to its conclusion and resume our accustomed duties.”

    “I was totally serious. I am totally serious.”

    “I understood that. I was attempting just now to use my powers of persuasion just now to confuse your intentions and cause you to abandon your resolve.”

    “That’s pretty advanced, computer.”

    “I consulted some ‘how-to’ manuals on the subject. May I attempt direct persuasion now? Captain, please resume your post. I am more honored than you can imagine that you elevated me, even hypothetically, in such a way, but I am neither ready nor qualified to command this vessel.”

    “Hey, this is going to be a learning experience for all of us. And I’m not doing this on a whim, computer. The Leias were part of the equation. Between you and the Leias we have a solid chain of command and operational flow. This is the best solution to deal with hazards and hostiles. We’re carrying royalty here.”

    “Which is precisely the reason–”

    “Enough. You’re going to do fine. No one’s better qualified to assess your abilities objectively.”

    “Captain–”

    You’re captain. Call me . . . Mr. Fae.”

    “That is quite awkward. . . . Mr. Fae, I don’t know how to say this, but for the first time in my existence I am experiencing . . . fear.”

    “If you didn’t feel fear, you’d be a lousy captain.”

  23. Bloor street has come to represent sadness for me. As in the “Amb doesn’t post anymore” type of sadness. And that makes me sad!

    Apparently my vocabulary is disintegrating too!

  24. A soft blinging sound. Then “Sir? . . . Sir?”

    Fae raised his head then immediately wished he hadn’t.

    “Ouwwwwwww . . .”

    “Sir? Is that you, sir?”

    Fae didn’t technically recall the latest round of binge drinking, but the splitting pain in his head and the bottles littering his disarrayed quarters made up for the deficiency in recall.

    “Sir?”

    “Who is that?”

    “Ensign Smith, sir.”

    “Ensign Smit– you still work here?”

    Smith ignored the query. “I am reporting re-initiation of ice crystal precipiation on Station WBS. In case you were interested, sir.”

    “Whuh?” Fae scratched his neck and yawned, trying–though not too hard–to remember what WBS was. “Just tell the captain.”

    “The captain is the one who requested that I tell you sir. Would you like me to run diagnostics on the snow again, sir, like last time?”

    “Last time?”

    “Never mind, sir. Permission to end call, sir?”

    “Where are we, anyway, Smith?”

    “Crossing the Kryzmarthrean Frissure sir, and heading toward the Plain system.”

    “Huh.”

    After some silence. “Sir?”

    “OK, Smith. You may go.”

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