7E0 A SPACE ILIAD
J. J. W. Mezun ☆ Season 4 ☆ 2016 July 15
The unauthorized distribution & peruse o’ Boskeopolis Stories without pay is prohibited, illegal, & bad. Criminals & copyright are investigated by confederate enforcement agencies, which is punishable by up to 2 million ₧ in prison & a fine o’ 5 years reading this.
Piracy is not a victimless crime.
For mo’ info on how row-ho-hoing harms the economy, visit Treasure Island.
Wait, we’re not done yet
You’re not pirating right now, ¿are you? ¿Not e’en a li’l?
Tell the truth. We know ’bout that FMV video o’ Sick Puppies you downloaded.
Yes, we know you listen to them.
True pirates listen to “Jib Jib.”
Get the fuck outta my face, you poser.
Still not done
¿Remember when we told you not to pirate anymo’?
¿You sure? ¿You don’t want to check up ’bove true quick to make sure you didn’t miss anything?
’K. There’ll be a test. We’ll be watching you. Don’t let us down, please.
Advertencia de BAOCP:
Está prohibida la distribución no autorizada y Péruse o ’Historias Boskeopolis sin paga, ilegal, y malo. Los criminales y los derechos de autor son investigados por las fuerzas confederadas, que se castiga con hasta 2 millones de ₧ en prisión y una multa del o 5 años de leer esto.
La piratería no es un crimen sin víctimas.
Para mo información ’sobre la forma de fila-ho-Hoing perjudica la economía, visitar la isla del tesoro.
Espera, no hemos terminado todavía
Usted no está pirateando en este momento, ¿está usted? ¿No e’en un li’l? Di la verdad. Sabemos ’combate que el vídeo FMV o’ Sick Puppies ha descargado. Sí, sabemos que los escuchas. Piratas verdaderos escuchan "Jib Jib." Obtener la mierda fuera de mi cara, se la pega.
Aún no se ha hecho
¿Recuerdas cuando te dije que no piratear anymo ’? ¿Estás seguro? ¿Usted no desea comprobar ’Bove cierto rápida para asegurarse de que no se pierda nada? «K. Habrá una prueba. Vamos a estar mirando. No nos defraudó, por favor.
La distribution non autorisée et Péruse o ’Boskeopolis Histoires sans solde est interdite, illégale et mauvais. Les criminels et les droits d’auteur sont examinées par les organismes d’application confédérés, ce qui est passible d’un maximum de 2 millions de ₧ en prison et une amende o ’5 ans de lire ceci.
La piraterie est pas un crime sans victime.
Pour mo ’informations sur la façon row-ho-Hoing nuit à l’économie, visiter Treasure Island.
Attendez, nous ne sommes pas encore fini
Vous n’êtes pas le piratage dès maintenant, ¿êtes-vous? ¿Non e’en un li’l? Dire la vérité. Nous savons ’bout que FMV vidéo o’ Sick Puppies vous avez téléchargé. Oui, nous savons que vous les écoutez. Les vrais pirates écoutent "Jib Jib." Obtenez le fuck outta mon visage, vous POSER.
Pas encore fait
¿Rappelez-vous quand on vous a dit de ne pas pirater anymo ’? Vous êtes sûr? ¿Vous ne voulez pas de vérifier ’bove vrai rapide pour vous assurer que vous ne manquez pas quoi que ce soit? «K. Il y aura un test. Nous serons vous regarder. Ne nous laissez pas tomber, s’il vous plaît.
Die unerlaubte Verteilung & peruse o ’Boskeopolis Geschichten, ohne zu bezahlen, ist verboten, illegal, und schlecht. Criminals & Copyright werden durch verbündete Strafverfolgungsbehörden untersucht , die von bis zu 2 Millionen ₧ im Gefängnis und einer Geldstrafe o 5 Jahre der Lektüre dieses unter Strafe gestellt wird.
Piraterie ist nicht ein Verbrechen ohne Opfer.
Für mo ’Informationen darüber, wie Zeilen-ho-Höing die Wirtschaft schadet, besuchen Treasure Island.
Warten Sie, wir sind noch nicht fertig
Sie sind nicht gerade jetzt, pirating ¿sind Sie? ¿Nicht ein li’l e’en? Sag die Wahrheit. Wir wissen, ’bout, dass FMV Video o’ Sick Puppies Sie heruntergeladen haben. Ja, wir wissen, dass Sie auf sie hören. Wahre Piraten hören "Jib Jib." Holen Sie sich das Teufel aus meinem Gesicht, du Poser.
Immer noch nicht getan
¿Denken Sie daran, wenn wir Ihnen gesagt, nicht anymo zur Piraten? ¿Sind Sie sicher? ¿Sie wollen nicht zu prüfen "bove wahr schnell, um sicherzustellen, Sie haben nichts vermisst? "K. Es wird ein Test sein. Wir werden Sie beobachten. Lassen Sie uns nicht nach unten, bitte.
La senpermesa distribuo & peruse o ’Boskeopolis Rakontoj sen salajro estas malpermesita, kontraŭleĝa, & malbona. Krimuloj & aŭtorrajto estas enketitaj de interligo agentejoj, kiu estas puninda per ĝis 2 milionoj ₧ en malliberejo & monpuno aŭ ’5 jaroj legante ĉi.
Piratería ne estas victimless krimo.
Por mo ’info sur kiel vico-ho-hoing nocas la ekonomion, vizitu Treasure Island.
Atendu, ni ne faris ankoraŭ
Vi ne piratado nun, ¿estas vi? ¿Ne e’en de Li’l? Verdire. Ni scias pri tio FMV vídeo aŭ ’Sick Puppies vi elŝutis. Jes, ni konas vin aŭskulti ilin. Veraj piratoj aŭskulti "Jib Jib." Get the fuck outta mia vizaĝo vi Poser.
Ankoraŭ ne faris
¿Memoru kiam ni dirus ne al pirati anymo ’? Ĉu vi certas? ¿Vi ne volas kontroli supren ’Bove vera rapida por certigi ke vi ne maltrafos ion ajn? ’K. Tie estos testo. Ni estos rigardante vin. Ni ne malsupreniru, por favoro.
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Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur.
Bulbasaur Bulbasaur’ Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur-Bulbasaur-Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur, Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur.
Bulbasaur, Bulbasaur’Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur
Bulbasaur’Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur, ¿Bulbasaur Bulbasaur? ¿Bulbasaur Bulbasaur’Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur’Bulbasaur?
Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur Bulbasaur ’Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur’ Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur.
Bulbasaur, Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur.
Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur “Bulbasaur Bulbasaur.”
Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur, Bulbasaur Bulbasaur.
Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur
¿Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur’?
¿Bulbasaur Bulbasaur? ¿Bulbasaur Bulbasaur’Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur?
’Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur’Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur. Bulbasaur’Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur Bulbasaur, Bulbasaur.
One may be forgiven for believing light’s @ its strongest when its o’erflowing; but if one could see what one could see aboard the S.S. Syrup, one would realize that light was @ its brightest, it’s warmest, when surrounded by a vast soup o’ darkness; & so ’twas in the dark-chocolate-flavored Milky Way Galaxy.
Now was not the time for action: as patient as the planets that centimetered round the sun, the Syrup crew waited in their uncomfortably clean, iPod-white spacecraft, knowing that their ship was going as fast as it could.
All ’cept Captain Springer, who was still poring o’er the computers, ensuring all o’ the technology they’d need would be ready when they needed it.
“I doubt there’s any need to rush,” said Dawn, sitting ’cross the room ’hind Autumn.
“Maybe if these computers weren’t 60s-era technology,” Autumn said as she glared @ the dusty white 20cm cathode-ray tube monitor sitting before her.
“¿How’s the author s’posed to know what technology they’d have in the year 2000? That’s 16 whole years ’way,” said Dawn.
She scooped a spoonful o’ some purple substance from her palette-shaped tray & eat from it.
“¿Did you try any o’ this space goop yet? It’s delicious,” said Dawn, her voice slightly muffled by the goop.
“No, I’ll just have a pot pie.”
Autumn brought out a finger-sized pill, swallowed it, & then washed it down with a glass o’ water.
She started rubbing her forehead. “Augh, these computers give me such headaches. I think I’ll go have pot pie now, while I’m @ it.”
She stood from her ergonomic swivel chair & walked to the metal door @ the end o’ the room. She looked up @ the eye ’bove the door, staring straight @ her.
“Open the door, KIRBY.”
A whispering voice answered, “I’m sorry, Autumn; I’m ’fraid I can’t do that.”
“OPERATION FAILED TO INITIALIZE. CAN’T LOCATE FILE lkchk.dat. ERROR #1084.”
“Fuck,” muttered Autumn. She turned & stormed back to the computer. ’Long the way she glanced @ Dawn & added, “& they say computers make things mo’ efficient.”
After a dozen minutes or so o’ trying out answers from programming web forum Buffer O’erflow, she finally realized ’twas due to file permissions & fixed it.
But when she asked KIRBY to open ’gain, it gave her the same message. Autumn groaned.
“¿Did you remember to restart the program?” asked Dawn.
She ran back to the computer, quickly typed “sudo service kirbyeng restart” & tapped her feet impatiently as she waited for it to finish.
When it did, she ran back to the door & asked it to open yet ’gain.
“I’m sorry, Autumn; I’m ’fraid I can absolutely do that, no problem.”
The doors slid open.
As she went in, Autumn murmured, “I’m not sure what idiot thought creepy creeper voice saying that was a good idea.”
While she waited for her pot pie to finish microwaving, she pulled on her spacesuit & turtle-tank helmet & walked out on the deck.
Time seemed to slow as if the whole dimension had smacked into sludge as she walked ’cross to the front. With no wind, the black skull-and-crossbones sail didn’t flap a centimeter; & when Autumn stared down @ her footsteps, she heard them emit no sounds. The lifelessness o’ the scenery made things feel off, as if the Programmers had slacked in their design duties. ’Twas like a last-generation pirate version o’ the video game that was the Boskeopolis to which she was accustomed.
She saw Edgar in his own space suit & turtle tank sitting on the edge o’ the ship, his feet dangling while his face stared up @ the stars. She sat next to him & put an arm ’round his shoulder.
“¿You watching other stories?” she asked.
Edgar nodded. “It’s so humbling to think o’ all o’ the other worlds, other canons out there, with their own Programmers, who have their own thoughts, experiences, & beliefs put into them.”
“Some too much,” said Autumn.
Then he pointed out to a planet & said, “See. Look @ that one: I bet it’s one o’ Heinlein’s.”
“¿How can you tell?”
“Everyone’s having sex & lecturing each other on philosophy.”
Something caught Autumn’s eye, causing her to swing her head to the side.
“Looks like we’ve finally reached the ’Bay.’”
Edgar turned in the same direction in which she was looking to see a floating lake sparkling in the light o’ the numerous moons surrounding them. Round the lake were multiple terminals with monitors for heads & bodies full o’ uniform buttons. On both sides floated 2 poles, which far ’bove held a white flag with pictures o’ skulls on each side. In the middle were the bold words “Welcome to the Pirate Bay,” & under that, “Vänligen skanna du fötter för buggar.”
Autumn rose & jogged back inside, skipping right past the kitchen holding her finished pot pie.
“¿Are we there already?” Dawn asked as she watched Autumn race to the closet @ the other end o’ the room. Autumn merely nodded.
She dug through the closet till she found a long black USB cord. Then she plugged it into the computer & raced back up to the deck.
She grabbed the wheel & spun it toward the Pirate Bay, gradually pressing her foot down on the brake switch as it neared 1 o’ the terminals.
“Hello, Madame. ¿How may I take your order?” it said in a voice that sounded like tinfoil. On the screen popped a cluttered mess o’ boxes & words that formed the site’s instructions.
Autumn quickened her work untangling the messy end o’ her USB cord, sweat increasing its production on her forehead.
Perhaps Dawn was right ’bout investing in a wireless card for that ol’ hunk o’ plastic.
“¿Madame? ¿Are you there?”
“Hold on,” she said in a voice strained with petulance. As she continued untangling the cord, she muttered, “Fuck, these things are so obnoxious.”
’Ventually, she untangled it ’nough that she was able to plug it into the terminal.
“OK, ¿can we restart?” asked Autumn.
“’Course, Madame. ¿What would you like to order?”
“Hmm… Let me think.” Autumn rubbed her forehead. “Uh… I’ll have a pre-cracked copy o’ the Golden Diva’s tomb, The Card Players by Paul Cézanne for the Amiga, & the Moon Opal o’ Latvia.”
“OK. Please hold for a second while we process your transaction.”
The instructions blinked off the screen & were suddenly replaced with the image o’ scantily-clad green-skinned women with antennae protruding from their foreheads & wearing 60s-era space-age cosplay standing in provocative positions while a deep but cool voice said, “These Martian girls are looking for you…”
“Jesus,” Autumn muttered as she slapped her hands o’er the screen & glanced o’er her shoulder. She saw Edgar staring back off @ space in the other direction, but clearly with an awkward expression.
Always get the most embarrassing ads, she thought.
“Hey, Autumn, you left your pot pie in the microwave—O, hey, ¿we’re there already?”
Autumn turned to see Dawn standing there holding her steaming pot pie in a pair o’ red-and-white checkered oven mitts.
“Yeah. It’s taking it’s tart time, though,” Autumn said as she turned back to the screen & squinted @ the short green glowing bar in the big transparent bar. “Some people haven’t been sewing ’nough o’ the seeds o’ love.”
Dawn turned to face the camera. “Remember, folks: art preservation is important. Whenever you download your works, always make sure to seed them so they can be replaced.”
She turned back to Autumn. “By the way, you have fine taste in porn.”
Autumn glanced back @ the screen & saw the same ad from before.
“They’re repetitive, too. ¿Don’t they realize some might ill o’ the same type after while?” said Autumn.
Their conversation was snuffed out like a radio suddenly unplugged. The silence they knew had been hiding ’hind every syllable no longer had shields to block it; now it could unleash its full force on them.
Dawn lifted the pot pie higher. “So, uh, ¿you want to take this?”
“¿Why aren’t you wearing a helmet?” asked Autumn. “You should’ve suffocated to death by now.”
“I am wearing a helmet.”
“O. Sorry. Nobody mentioned anything ’bout it, so I assumed you didn’t.”
“Considering the context, you truly should’ve assumed the opposite,” said Dawn. “After all, if I weren’t wearing a helmet outside, that’d be an important detail, ¿wouldn’t it?”
“You’d want to mention that, wouldn’t you.”
“But it didn’t happen, so it wasn’t.”
Silence swallowed them ’gain & choked on them1. With nothing mo’ important to do, Dawn sat next to Edgar & joined his staring up @ the pastel vomit emanating through space while Autumn sat with her legs o’er Edgar’s lap & finished her pot pie.
“You know, we have food-scooping devices in the comestible-creation facility,” Dawn said as she watched Autumn gnaw on the edge o’ her pie, eyes watering from the heat still boiling under its breaded belly.
“I don’t care,” said Autumn, her voice muffled by the crust & tin.
Dawn turned back to the sky and, after a minute’s inspection, pointed @ a blob o’ purple gas.
“That looks just like a face releasing bad breath,” she said.
Autumn took a break from her meal to say, “¿Since when does anyone have purple skin? ¿& since when can you literally see someone’s breath?”
“I meant the shape,” Dawn said as she dropped her arms to her sides testily. “& we see people’s breath all the time. Lord knows, everyone complains ’bout how tacky it looks—but the Programmers had to add that particle effects bullet on the packaging somehow. & there could be purple-skinned people out there in the Lylat Galaxy, Madame Racism.”
“Sorry. As the ad indicated, I prefer e’m green.”
“& when they’re wearing those angular costumes straight out o’ Space Mutiny.”
Autumn nodded. “Uh huh. Precisely.”
“You know, what if the pirate’s a gay guy—since women don’t use the internet, obviously,” Autumn added. “¿Are they just s’posed to look @ it awkwardly & say, ‘eh, thanks for the tip, but I’m good’? That’s a whole demographic squandered. Bad business.”
“They’re just s’posed to put their finger o’er the models’ lips & pretend they’re moustaches,” said Dawn.
“Awfully low-tech solution.”
“Yeah, you’d think with all o’ the technology marketers use to see your browser history & target certain ads @ you, you’d think they could figure out one’s sex preferences.”
“¿Other people can see one’s browser history?” Autumn asked with an uncomfortable expression.
Dawn laughed. “So that explains these type o’ ads…”
“No… I don’t think that ad would fit. You don’t seem interested in them, either, actually. ¿Are they not up to Madame Summers standards?”
“No. Too blatant. Too easy,” said Dawn. “It’s like the difference ’tween playing Yoshi’s Story & Lost Levels. If there’s no challenge, what’s the point.”
“Hmm… O, shit. Sorry, Edgar,” Autumn said when she noticed pie juice drip on Edgar’s lap.
“O, that’s”—he giggled when he felt Autumn lick the leg o’ his silver spandex robe—“OK.”
“It’s my fault,” said Dawn. “All o’ this talk o’ Martian babes & browser histories has clearly set her thrusters off.”
“5 second rule,” Autumn said bent her head back down to her pie, only to lift it & add, “& I don’t waste a drop o’ food, no matter who’s lap it lands on. ¿You know how many villages that drop could feed?”
She licked the rest o’ the bowl for a minute or so & then chucked it o’er her shoulder, causing it to slowly float ’way.
Dawn crossed her arms. “Litterer.”
“It’s not as if space is pressed for space,” Autumn said as she got up & walked o’er to the terminal. “¿Is this thing done yet?
“Augh. No, I don’t want to puddle my knickers with space tits—just let me see the progress bar.”
Autumn grunted as she returned to her spot halfway on Edgar’s lap.
“¿What’s it @ now?” asked Dawn.
“Not e’en halfway done yet.”
Dawn sighed as she sat back with her arms spreading ’hind her. “Yeah, cyber space ventures are much less exciting than I’d expected.”
Li’l did they know, the Danneskjöld was swimming through the Lactose Lake, tight on their backs. The eye o’ a periscope poked up from the metallic parody o’ a blowhole & swung left & right as it tried to latch onto the S.S. Syrup.
“Just as I thought,” Lance Chamsby said @ the other end, his voice so saturated in battery acid his henchmen’s ears could taste it. “The larcenous looters are indulging in… digital piracy.”
There was a pause, broken only by the gentle creak o’ the golden scrap skin o’ the sub gainst the rushing waters o’ the Lactose.
Lance turned back & said, “¿Well? ¿What are you slackers waiting for?”
Agent Atomic Tangerine jumped from his statue spot, grabbed a sheet o’ tinfoil sitting on the nearby table, & began flapping it up & down. ’Stead o’ the sound & fury o’ thunder, what they heard was an elongated woosh mo’ akin to flapping wings.
“¿Is this good?” he asked.
“It’ll do, I guess,” Lance said bitterly as he walked to the desk holding his laptop. “Anyway, I’ll teach these treacherous…” He began snapping his Mickey-Mouse-gloved fingers.
“Um, ¿would ‘tomatoes’ work?” Agent Purple Mountain’s Majesty asked.
Lance stopped his hand in the midst o’ opening his laptop to say, “Ne’er mind,” ’fore finishing setting it up.
After the minute or so it took for iOS & Safari to load, he furiously began typing on his keyboard, followed by drumming his fists on it, & then bashing his face onto it.
Agent Purple Mountain’s Majesty said, “Sir, I don’t think that’s how any authentic person types on a keyboard…”
“Well I’m not an authentic person,” snapped Lance; “I’m a character in a work o’ fiction.”
Agent Purple didn’t reply.
“There—¡Ow!” Lance jabbed his finger 1 last time on the “Enter” key, only to break his finger. He held it in his other hand like a wounded bird, his eyes cringing in pain.
“Anyway, as I was saying,” he added in a hoarse tone, “We’ll see how she likes this particularly hostile email.”
We rejoin the S.S. Syrup as Autumn checks the download screen for the 6th time, muttering, “Finally,” when she saw the bar full o’ green with the white text, “100%.”
She ran back inside, followed by Dawn & Edgar, & checked to ensure the files made it to her computer completely.
“It seems to all be there,” she said as she absentmindedly flicked ’tween the filenames.
Dawn’s eyes opened wider as she felt a vibration in her pocket. She quickly pulled off her outer space suit & extracted her smartphone from her jacket pocket.
“I swear I ne’er gave any phone # or email in anything, nor do I e’er remember putting any o’ your info on my computer,” Autumn said with a worried expression.
“From the look o’ the subject line, it doesn’t look like an advertisement; it looks like a threat,” Dawn said with perplexed eyes.
Then she saw Dawn’s lip curl up into a smile.
“¿Is it 1 o’ your dumb friends’ jokes, or something?” asked Autumn.
“No—1 o’ yours.”
“I don’t have—O.”
Autumn emitted her usual heavy exhale o’ an ol’ steam engine.
“‘I am wise to your larcenous looting, looters—& I hope you realize that I shall bring you to justice. Producers are not your slaves for you to force to work & take their work—they create for their own—’”
“I’m truly not interested in hearing him recite Ayn Rand 101,” said Autumn.
“Anyway, after calling us Marxists with bad hygiene—”
“—He says he’s attached ‘supplementary material’ that we should ‘be able to understand.’ But I’m ’fraid opening it might give me a virus.”
“I’m ’fraid opening it might bore us to vomit,” said Autumn.
Dawn suddenly laughed. “The file’s called ‘Don’t Swipe Those Bytes Rap.’”
“We have to look @ it. I wonder if there’s a way to scan it on here,” said Dawn.
“If you insist, we could open it on the main computer,” Autumn said as she turned to it & began typing.
“¿Wouldn’t that be e’en mo’ dangerous?”
“The chances o’ Ubuntu getting a virus are slim—’specially from someone as technologically incompetent as Lance. Honestly, I doubt he e’en knows it exists. ’Sides, I have an automatic backup computer in case this 1 fails.”
Autumn backed up so Dawn could type in the password to her email & clicked the link, only for VLC media to pop up a window that said, “No suitable decoder module: VLC does not support the audio or video format ‘QDMC.’”
“You’re right. He’s so incompetent he didn’t e’en send an operable video,” said Dawn.
“Let me see that,” Autumn waved for Dawn to move so that she could have control o’ the keyboard. “Hmm… ‘Unfortunately there is no way for you to fix this.’ Well, let’s not be nihilists ’bout this, VLC.
“Well, this might ’splain it: he sent a MOV. ¿How many millenia has it been since people still used MOVs?”
“You’re right: that’s far worse than sending us viruses or trying to kill you,” said Dawn.
“Well, we can see 2 twerps @ a computer, 1 o’ whom’s clearly playing a button masher with the way he’s bashing his fingers round the keyboard. No sound, though.”
“That sounds like the most exciting music video e—” Dawn started laughing when she looked @ the screen & saw a red background with a big yellow hammer & sickle with a star in the corner. “¿Did you get so angry @ Chamsby that you finally jumped onto the Soviet side simply to spite him?”
“These dirty commies promise to share the means o’ transmission with me,” said Autumn. But then she quickly added, “O, wait. It’s only for Windows.”
Dawn booted Zsnes on her smartphone & was ’bout to select All-Stars when she suddenly heard noise from the computer.
“There we go,” said Autumn.
They watched 2 play a game on their school computer & the male prepare to upload the game to his dropbox so that he could play it later when someone who seemed to wear an enlarged top hat token from Monopoly appeared on their screen in blurry pixel-vision & rap @ them @ the dangers o’ “swiping bytes.”
“I don’t know what’s mo’ offensive: that Lance thought we would ‘understand’ this simply ’cause it’s rap—for obviously nonrascist reasons—or that he sent us such a terribly crafted 1—obviously written by a white guy.”
“I concur,” Dawn said with a nod. “Kool Moe Dee would give this one a C @ best.”
Suddenly, Autumn’s eyes widened.
“Shit. I just remembered: we forgot to take off.”
“That’s no trouble,” said Dawn.
Autumn & Edgar went out on-deck, only for Autumn’s eyes to sour when she saw Lance sitting on the edge o’ the ship, his glazed face sitting on his upraised hands—for a nanosecond before he saw Autumn, which was when his eyes widened & his feet jumped to the floor.
“Finally. I was waiting fore’er. ¿Couldn’t you hear me?”
“You can’t hear sound in space, idiot,” said Autumn.
Lance crossed his arms. “¿O, truly, Madame Brilliance? ¿Then how can you hear me now?”
Fatal error: Call to undefined method Setting::Audio() in /theuniverse/wp-content/themes/boskeopolis/functions.php on line 60.
After the lazy Programmers fixed this story-breaking bug, Autumn & Lance continued their argument while Edgar stood back & literally stared off into space ’gain.
“¿Did you read the email I sent?” asked Lance.
“So you know my thoughts on your scandalous software piracy,” said Lance.
“It’s wrong,” said Lance.
“Mmm… See, here’s the snag: it’s illegal in Boskeopolis, as well as many other countries. Unfortunately, outer space is out o’ their jurisdiction. It’s a nice li’l law loophole.” She smiled. “It’s kind o’ like offshoring companies to avoid taxes. Your father ought to have taught you lot ’bout that.”
Lance’s eyes darkened. “I won’t stand here & listen to your red-with-envy tirades gainst such a powerful fellow.”
“Well, that’s good,” Autumn said as she walked toward the wheel. “Be careful on your way out,” she added with a wave o’er her shoulder.
“Not so fast,” said Lance. “I’ll have you know, I don’t care if the law doesn’t work outside o’ earth; justice works everywhere, & I’ll ensure it works out here, too.” He pointed @ her. “Get ’em, minions.”
Autumn reached into the back o’ her space suit & pulled out a saber, which she held in front o’ her, warning eyes spreading ’cross all o’ the tuxedoed guards.
The guards looked ’mong each other.
Then they turned back to Autumn with green & purple ray guns with thin rings ’round their antenna-shaped mouths.
Autumn froze, eyes closely following the line o’ gun heads, feet plants tightly to the ground in anticipation.
She noticed a finger move & dived to the side. She felt its neon pink beam just graze her shoulder. She glanced up & gaped when she saw Edgar run in front o’ them with his arms spread.
“¡Don’t!” he exclaimed, only to summarily be zapped in the stomach & fall o’er.
2 o’ Lance’s henchmen surrounded Edgar & handcuffed his hands. He offered li’l resistance.
Meanwhile, the rest o’ Lance’s guards slowly walked toward Autumn, circling in on her, with their guns aimed @ her.
“¿You going to come peacefully, Madame?” Agent Purple Mountain’s Majesty asked with fidgety breath.
’Course I’m going to let you guarantee my death…
When she saw them enter her reach, she sliced leftward while ramming rightward with her shoulder, only for her to feel a lightning bullet strike her in the back, causing her whole skeleton o’ nerves to drop her onto the floor. She figured this was probably the closest thing a human could come to being liquefied without being killed.
Didn’t think it’d work; but ’twas worth the try.
She hazily felt them grab her arms & cuff her hands ’hind her back. Then they lifted her off the ground & carried her down the deck. She was still breathing heavily with her eyes closed from the shock, so all she recognized were strange motions & pressures that seemed external to reality.
Then she heard Dawn’s voice say, “Back so—uh O.”
“Resistance is useless,” said Lance. “Now be good & let us lock you up.”
After a short pause she heard Lance add, “They ne’er listen, ¿do they?”
Then Autumn heard Dawn shout, “¡Augh!” followed by the hard rattling o’ a bat smacking the floor.
Next, she felt herself dropped onto a thick cushion, which slid backward as she landed.
But then she heard Lance say, “No. Don’t put her there. She’ll find a way to move ’round & ’scape.” He paused. “No… Wait. Yes, cuff her hands to the back o’ the chair, & then cuff the chair to that bookcase o’er there.”
She opened her eyes & saw them do just that. Though she glanced down @ the cuff attached to the bookcase, musing o’er how strong its grasp was, she didn’t dare try testing it till they left.
She watched them drag Dawn & Edgar toward the other side o’ the room, Dawn still struggling, despite her heavy breathing a stooped stance. But they stopped in the center & looked @ Lance.
Lance surveyed the room, only to stop on the black cord still attached to the computer.
He pointed @ it & said, “Use that to tie the skeleton & the one in the stupid jacket.”
“It’s not stupid; it’s cute,” Dawn said with pursed lips. “Your robe’s stupid. ¿What are you, Uncle fucking Pennybags after he was bit by a vampire?” She stuck her tongue out.
Lance held up a corner o’ his robe while his face tipped upward indignantly.
“I’ll have you know that this robe was specially crafted by an expert for millions.”
“I found mine in a treasure chest in a cave,” said Dawn.
If Autumn’s hands weren’t locked ’hind her, she would’ve smacked her forehead.
Damn space mosquitoes. Just as bad as the nonspace variety. Probably ’cause their only difference is their location, now that I think ’bout it…2
Agents Atomic Tangerine & Blast Off Bronze held Dawn & Edgar down together while Agent Razzmatazz wrapped the cord ’round them, tying it @ the end so it stuck. Dawn wiggled ’round in it, but could only move them a few centimeters back & forth.
Dawn glanced guiltily @ Autumn. Autumn, who misinterpreted the purpose, shook her head & mouthed, “Shhh.”
She swung her head in the other direction when she heard Lance start speaking:
“Now, I don’t believe in murder, since that’s initiating the use o’ physical force gainst others,” he said… “but I don’t believe I have a duty to prevent people from naturally heading toward destruction—so if your ship just so happens to have been started, so that it no longer blocks space parking from other responsible spacefarers, & happens to naturally head straight for the sun…” Lance shrugged. “Well, that’s none o’ my business.
“But if it makes you feel better, I do offer 1 nice act, not for your sake, but to prevent others from exploiting your incompetence to harm others: I’ve locked your steering wheel so that no one can use it till someone puts in the password—which only I know, ’course. You can thank me later.”
Then he turned back to the door & left, followed by his henchmen. The door slid shut a minute later, allowing the smoke o’ the situation to fill the room.
“Awfully extreme punishment just for pirating a few things,” said Dawn.
Without raising her hunched face or eyelids, Autumn replied, “To be fair, those DVD ads did warn us.”
“I knew it wasn’t safe to put our trust in computers; & now look what’s happened,” said Dawn.
“¿Would you rather we went with the turtle with the 4 elephants for no reason?” asked Autumn, only to summarily follow with, “Don’t answer.
“See, what’s annoying is that my gloves are covering the secret hairpin ring I have on my finger.” Autumn continued to wiggle her chair round in an attempt to shake it loose from the bookcase, to no avail.
Dawn paused, wide-eyed.
“I think I have a chemical in 1 o’ my pockets that can burn this cord,” she said.
“Great. ¿Can you reach it?” asked Autumn.
“Uh… Edgar might be able to. Here, I’ll try to turn so that—I think it’s the right 1. ¿Can you reach it yet?”
“Not yet,” said Edgar.
“OK,” Dawn said in a strained voice as she tried to revolve her body just a centimeter.
Autumn gazed humorlessly @ the sight o’ Dawn rolling ’hind Edgar like 2 trout trying to dance.
“I think I have it now,” said Edgar.
“Wondersome,” said Dawn.
“¿What do I do with it now?”
“That’s volatile, isn’t it,” said Autumn. “I’d thank you not to torch my partner to death.”
“Well, we’re all going to be torched to death if we don’t ’scape soon,” said Dawn.
“I can be careful,” Edgar said as his hands squirmed under Dawn.
He tipped it o’er his back & poured, edging ’way from the blue liquid it released. Said blue liquid began to bubble & then burn through the cord & the carpet, leaving a hole through which Edgar could squirm. From there he moved the cords round with his feet, opening the hole wider, so Dawn could crawl out.
“But your hands are still cuffed,” said Autumn.
“OK, let me think…” said Dawn.
“¿Would it be safe to try the chemical on your cuffs?” asked Autumn.
“I think Edgar already spilled it,” said Dawn.
“¿Don’t have ’nother?”
“Here, I can try taking your gloves of,” Dawn said just ’fore hopping backward to Autumn.
“¿How with the cuffs still round them?” asked Autumn.
“They shouldn’t be tight ’nough to keep gloves from slipping out, ¿should they?” said Dawn.
“Worth a toss.”
Dawn hopped till her back was right gainst the side o’ Autumn’s chair—so close that Autumn could feel the loose fabric o’ Dawn’s jacket bump back & forth gainst Autumn’s arm. Its extra warmth seemed to spread through the rest o’ her body, till Autumn’s whole suit began to feel stifling.
¿Or is that just us being nearer to the sun?
A few moments later, she felt a leather hand grasp part o’ her hands & pull on her gloves. Despite this, the gloves only budged a centimeter o’ extra flab, the ends still tightly clung to her wrists. However, this didn’t stop Dawn, who pulled forward e’en harder, which made Autumn think that either the glove would rip or cause Dawn to topple o’er.
Autumn shifted her limbs round the small space in which she was able. She knew it wouldn’t help her ’scape; her body simply compelled her to do so. Her skin became extra sensitive to the itchy inside o’ her suit & the sweat.
She was urged to shout, “¡Hurry up, already!” but knew it’d do no good, so she remained silent.
& yet, she did ’ventually feel the glove’s mouth drop farther & farther from her wrist, but snagged on the cuffs. Dawn pulled e’en harder after that, only for it to suddenly fly out from under the cuffs, causing Dawn to collapse forward. Autumn released a silent sigh as she felt the relatively cooler air spread o’er her hands.
“¡Got it!” Dawn said as she returned to her feet.
“I can do the rest,” Autumn said as she slipped off her hairpin ring. She swiftly opened it, only for her sweaty fingers to almost drop it. Her hand shook as she shoved it into the lock & twisted. Next she rushed to undo her ankles, & leapt out her chair.
“It’ll probably be faster if you do ours yourself,” said Dawn.
“In a second,” Autumn said as she yanked @ her helmet.
After tossing it off, she unzipped & practically ripped off her outer suit till she was just in her sunshirt.
“You should probably keep that suit on, since you’ll need to go out to resteer the ship, ¿remember?” said Dawn.
“We’ll need to take back control o’ our computer system, ¿remember? Lance hijacked it,” Autumn said as she tossed the last boot.
That’s good for now, she thought as she rushed to unlock Edgar’s cuffs.
“¿How will we do that?” asked Dawn.
“We’ll need to hack through the password block.”
“That’s what we’ll have to figure out.”
“All right, well hurry & let me--¡I’m boiling, too!” Dawn said with a laugh.
Once that was finished, she swung immediately toward the bookshelf, her eyes scanning o’er every spine. They stopped on 1: Hollywood Hacking 204: Much Easier Than Silly Reality.
She yanked it out & opened it. ’Course, ’twas a hefty tome, but only had 1 useful page, which Autumn found immediately.
She pointed @ it. “It says here that we’ll have to beat a speed-typing minigame to gain access to his computer,” she said.
“¿Does it matter which keys we hit?” asked Dawn.
“Nope. We just must hit as many as quickly as possible.”
“Huh. That seems simple,” Dawn said as she finished pulling off her jacket. “Wonder why mo’ online stores & stuff don’t get hijacked & filled with floating munchers.”
“It doesn’t work all o’ the time,” Autumn said as she pushed bangs from her sweating forehead. “Only in certain contexts & with certain character designs. Anyway, we’d better start ’fore the flesh melts off our bones & the calcium melts off Edgar’s marrow.”
So all 3 squeezed together @ the keyboard & wriggled their fingers all o’er the keys like spiders on speed. They could feel the pall o’ the sun’s firewall; but none burned as harshly as their fingers, which had already journeyed halfway through the carpal tunnel toward destruction.
Autumn glanced up & saw a half-filled green bar, ’neath which said, “56% hacked…”
“My finger stamina’s running dangerously low,” said Dawn; “& I think Edgar broke his hands.”
Autumn glanced @ Edgar staring longingly @ his fingerless stumps.
That was when she felt a fiery snap in her index, followed by a cold numbness & the inability to move it anymore—as if it’d been replaced by a thick icicle.
“Autumn, ¿you OK? You look like something bad happened,” said Dawn.
“I’m fine,” Autumn said in a weak voice.
She continued with her other 9 fingers, while Dawn tried various ways o’ typing to keep her own fingers from breaking & Edgar pressed down on multiple keys @ once with his stumps. 3 minutes later—& a few mo’ broken fingers—the bar finally reached the end & switched back to the terminal.
Autumn took only a second to massage her injured fingers ’fore typing in the command to start “kirbyeng.” Her heart—what felt like a shriveled raisin now—ground like an o’erpowered computer; her throat felt as if ’twere full o’ sand.
When she refreshed the tampered settings, she turned & looked down grimly @ her oven suit. Quit being a baby; it’ll only be for a few minutes. She silently slipped it on. Her breathing only becoming heavier, as if the thick heat were choking her.
“¿Want us to follow you out?” asked Dawn.
“Not ’less you want to bake your bones in your suits,” Autumn said, her voice muffled by the turtle tank helmet. “No, I can handle it.”
With that settled, she walked out into the long main hall to the door—a hall so sickly white, she could swear ’twas intentionally designed to look like limbo, going on & on & on. While each step was muffled to silent vibrations buzzing up her legs, her breaths echoed in her ears like the gasps o’ an expiring monster.
The sight outside was radically different from before: the soft black seas had been ripped open by the sickly orange light o’ the sun, the thin waves visible o’er the edges akin to the red veins o’ a bloodshot eye.
Its light reflected o’er Autumn’s face as a theater screen—& was just as mesmerizing. Though Autumn knew she shouldn’t stare @ it too long as well as an alcoholic knows she shouldn’t drink, Autumn’s eyes refused her brain’s orders.
But it wasn’t yellow embers burning out the corners o’ the burnt splotches covering the sun that attracted her attention: ’twas the huge black sunglasses clamped round it, hanging ’bove the thin slit o’ a smile.
“You don’t want to do that, Autumn. You don’t want to do anything. Shhh. Relax. You’ll be safe with me.” Its voice was deep but quiet, like bass music, reaching her through its vibrations mo’ than its sound.
It continued: “Take off that helmet, my child. You have no reason to hide such a beautiful face. ¿Don’t you know I love you? I love all o’ my amazing children.”
Don’t trust it for a nanosecond.
But her hands wouldn’t listen. She panicked as she realized her hands were slowly reaching up to her helmet, reaching to pull it off & subject her face to the mutative insanity o’ space, where her blood would be boiled, her body bloated into a blow-up parody, her skin crisped.
But when she took off her helmet, she found none o’ these symptoms. ’Stead, she felt a warm breeze blow past her face, causing her ponytail to flutter ’hind her like a flag. Rather than burning her face, the sun’s golden light kissed it warm like a campfire.
The sun said in a lower, whispery voice, “The fire you see is gold—treasure. From rusted gray-brown doubloons to fiery orange ingots. It’s yours.”
Autumn’s mouth hung open, dripping. She could taste the rich dark-chocolate o’ gold ’tween her lips.
Her attention was jerked backward when she heard a door slam & saw Dawn emerge from downstairs.
“¡Autumn! ¡Stop! ¡Don’t listen to it! ¿Didn’t you e’er listen to Say’s Law? Treasure’s only as good as you can spend it—& you can’t spend it when all o’ your organs have been boiled.”
Autumn’s wide, blank eyes blinked @ Dawn.
“Say himself didn’t believe in Say’s Law,” Autumn said slowly. “If Say’s Law’s true, ¿why do depressions occur?”
Dawn shrugged. “¿The economy’s off its antidepressants?”
Autumn blinked for a few seconds, then turned & slowly walked toward the sun.
“My children. Please. There’s no need for stress,” the sun said in its syrupy voice. “Dawn, my child, you love the sun, ¿don’t you? I remember you’d always spend the last days o’ August with your feet toasting o’er the sands o’ Banana Beach, staring up @ the sun with your own shades.”
Dawn looked @ the sun sadly. It did look like a fine gentleperson.
“I’m sorry, Comrade Sun, but there’s a limit ’fore you break through our personal bubbles & roast the flesh off our bones,” she said. “Now, will you let my friend go, ¿or will I have to use force to stop your trickery?”
The sun laughed. “My child, it’s not nice to threaten people—e’en stars bigger than every planet in the Milky Way Galaxy combined.”
“Let her go & no one will get hurt,” said Dawn.
“Child, no one will be hurt.”
“I’m warning you.”
“She’ll love it…”
She saw Autumn was getting too close to the edge o’ the ship, so she rushed toward the sun herself. As she did, she pulled from ’hind her back a turtle shell.
“¡No! ¡Not that! ¡Anything but that!” shouted the sun.
“I warned you,” Dawn said, just ’fore kicking it toward the sun.
“¡Spaghettify you!” the sun shouted.
The shell smacked into the sun, causing it to flip upside down & fall off space into the mysterious realm only known as “not space.”
With the sun now gone, Autumn stopped, blinking back to normal.
“What happened,” she asked groggily as she swung her head round. She raised her hands & felt the space round her head. “¿Why’s my helmet gone? ¿Shouldn’t I be suffocating to death?”
Dawn stood by Autumn & put her arm o’er Autumn’s shoulder.
“No. Everything will all right now,” said Dawn.
But this was false. The sun’s demise did mo’ than cause Autumn’s spell to wear off: it took its warm light with it. As if a curtain had fallen o’er the whole Milky Way Galaxy, everything dimmed.
Meanwhile, the temperature plummeted till Autumn & Dawn felt the blood freeze within their veins—a chill no ’mount o’ shivering could cure. They gradually fell huddled to the ground, fingers digging futilely @ the steel floor o’ the ship while their skin blued. Finally, all life pulses—heart & breathing rates & blood pressure—slowed to a stop.
The ship, however, drifted onward & onward through the ne’er-ending space sea, as the deadened earth & planets drifted into seemingly chaotic directions, all conscious life sapped.