The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act V

Meeting the Ambassador

A short while later we arrived at the Ambassador’s den. Silurians, and that included their senior officials, didn’t live in houses. Their habitat was the forest and they had ‘dens’. A den was typically a cluster of trees marked with the scent of the Master of the Den (in other words the head honcho had pee’d and smeared excrement all over the trees). The more important you were the more trees you had and the larger was the central clearing within the trees, which was where the Master and his family spent most of the time, lounging in leaf and branch covered hutches.

Though Silurians did not typically cook or suffer from the cold, they would sometimes have an open fire crackling away in the centre of the clearing. The Ambassador’s den had a very large open fire roaring away. Ordinarily that would have been quite cozy. To sit around an open fire, perhaps with a glass of Baffleberry juice in one’s hand, chewing the cud over tax reform. However, as both Cat and I were suspended upside down from a tree branch swinging none too gently back and forth above the roaring flames, the coziness element was somewhat lost in the moment.

I felt the intense heat on the top of my head and could smell decidedly singed hair, as I passed once again the zenith of the arc that Cat and I had traversed many times by now. Underneath us, the Ambassador sat eating from a larger bowl of wiggling insects and periodically looked up at us. The more educated Silurian could speak some English though the Ambassador was using an interpreter to communicate with us.

“So you swine refuse to reveal what you know about our special silkworm exports do you?. We know you are not really here to discuss any new tax frameworks between our two planets. Admit it and tell us how much Earth knows” the interpreter said.

As I swung past and felt searing heat flash up my nose I gasped out words as and when I could given the swinging,

“We don’t……. know anything Ambassador, do…… we Cat? This must ………all be some sort of mistake. We know…….. the Silurian people are…….. so nice and kind – what have we done……. to upset you? For goodness…… sake……. say something Cat. I appreciate…….. you may not be……. feeling the warmth but……. I am.”

More searing heat hit the top of my head and body every 5 or 6 words as we continued to swing, left-right, left-right, left-right over the fire.

“Tell him Cat,” I urged desperately.

“Ahhrrmm, tricky,” said Cat,…… “That no-lie chip you…. insisted be added …….to my motherboard …….at my last service means……… I can’t really say…… we know nothing. Especially……. as we do.”

“HUH!!” I exclaimed, “What……. do you mean….. we don’t know nothing?………. I know nothing. If you know …….something…… then……. for goodness sake….. tell this creature, – Oh, sorry…… Mr Ambassador I mean……..not creature but……. tell the Ambassador…… what we know so I can…… stop being cooked, pleassssee!!!”

Cat replied, as we passed each other on each swing of the ropes holding us, “It won’t matter……. if I tell him what…….. we know. He…… already knows……. what we know. He’ll still…….. cook us. Well, you. I’ll just……. get a bit overheated.”

Somehow I managed to get my next response out in a very ‘jointed’ manner, “You keep saying ‘we know’ you rubberised tin can. I DON’T KNOW!!!!”

Cat’s reply was again disjointed, more so as the arc of the swing had become longer, “I’m sure……you do…..know. There……was an…air-memo…….you…..really should pay……attention…..to them…….you know.”

“ARGGHHHH,” I screamed in return but before I could start to say how I was going to slowly dismantle him when I got out of this mess, I found myself plummeting to the ground.

Fortunately, I didn’t land on the fire but well to the side in a rather damp thick mound of leaves. This was also fortunate in another way as it cushioned the impact of my head, which hit the ground first. On the unfortunate side, as I groaned and lifted my head, the smell told me that I’d landed headfirst in a Silurian latrine.

To be continued…….

What did we do before Droids?

In the 23rd Century, every public place has a full range of artificial intelligences (AIs) or ‘Droids’ that collectively perform a wide range of essential service functions. In some cases (e.g. a public MediDroid) the AI acts as a first line, dealing with minor ailments and sending on or transporting anyone with a serious injury or illness, to the nearest major major medical facility.

The busiest type of Droid in a public space is the SaniDroid. This ‘Jack of All ‘Dirty’ Trades’ effectively deals with anything that might make the average human struggle to hold on to their lunch, (assuming they’ve just eaten lunch). So if anyone throws up in a public space or the lavatories malfunction, a SaniDroid will be there in an instant. Able to clean both the facility, and indeed any individuals who for whatever reason may be less pristine than when they left home, the SaniDroid is pretty indispensable in modern life.

Manufactured, as most Droids are, by the AI-rU consortium, it is estimated that SaniDroid sales and service contracts account for over 75% of this major utility company’s income. AI-rU claim that over 90% of whatever a SaniDroid absorbs is recycled and used in the manufacture of a wide range of consumer products, though their spokesperson was reluctant to reveal which products……..

The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act IV

The Welcome Party and Disembarking

We had indeed surfaced and noises were coming from the main hatch. As that opened, bright sunlight rushed into the flight deck of our lightship. I blinked and walked over carefully to the open hatch. I had something of a track record of falling out of open hatches so was taking no chances, especially as our ship was bobbing about a bit. A hoverboat hummed away just outside the hatch and drew closer just as my head poked out of the hatch. The hoverboat was not Silurian, they had no need for such things, it was manned by staff from Earth’s consulate on Siluria. A very young looking uniformed man smiled at me and said,

“Quite a landing. We were expecting you at the spaceport over there” and he pointed somewhere to the right in the distance.

“Yes” I said, “we had a bit of a problem. Shall we step aboard?”

Cat, who had his own built-in short distance hovering capability, fluttered through the hatch. I stepped up on the lintel of the hatch with my right foot and then reached up, over and out with my left foot, planting it firmly onto the edge of the hovership. Right at that moment, our lightship lurched in the water and the distance between my two feet grew dramatically, as open water appeared between our ship and the hoverboat. Things were starting to get quite painful in the basement department of my body when suddenly I felt myself lifted into the air. I wriggled a little as my legs thankfully came together and, as I looked sideways and up, I realised Cat had grabbed me by the collar of my tunic and was holding me. It felt most undignified and I growled at him,

“Will you please let me down, you wretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were doing this on purpose just to show off.”

“Ok,” said Cat and with that, I plummeted into the water between the two craft. I was, as you might imagine not in the best of moods as, having been fished out of the water by the crew of the hoverboat, we headed for shore with me dripping pools of Silurian seawater onto the hoverboat deck. Fortunately for him, Cat floated just out of reach above my disheveled form.

By the time we reached shore, I’d been below deck, dried by a vanity droid and re-equipped with new clothing. At the dock, as we disembarked, a hovercar was waiting to take us to meet the Silurian Ambassador at his den. I grabbed hold of Cat by his tail, much to his annoyance, and slung him over my shoulder. We’d never quite worked it out but there was something in a hovercar’s electronics that created havoc with Cat’s own sensors and basic navigation. Ordinarily, this resulted in him hanging from the internal roof of a hovercar, once it had started its engines, in a temporary catatonic state. Any hovercar journey then normally ended with me having to prise his claws from the roof before slinging him over my shoulder by his tail to disembark. This time, to pre-empt the inevitable, oh and ok to annoy him, I decided to carry him on tail-first for a change. As he wriggled and squiggled against my back, the hovercar rose up and in that instant, I felt Cat’s body stiffen and go still. I let go of his tail and he tumbled to the floor, bouncing a couple of times before settling in a frozen heap. Well, I thought, at least I had saved the hovercar upholstery from claw marks. I eased my back into my chair and as we moved off, rested my aching feet on the rather handily placed prostate body of Cat.

To be continued……..

RickRock’s Brother now Immersed in Scandal

Speak4U recently launched its advanced Persona service. Providing people with a way to use their time more efficiently, public figures can have their programmable personas represent them at events or interviews. Personas are linked to cerebrum bio-chips implanted into the human they represent.

One of the first exponents of Speak4U personas was Earth’s biggest airstar, Rock Quarrey, the younger brother of Rick Rock. Recently one of Mr. Quarrey’s Personas was accused of improper comments towards an event avatar. Similar accusations were made against RickRock earlier in the year.  Representatives of the Rocks have denied that the Personas thinking is linked to theirs. Whilst investigations continue, Rock’s management team have pulled all Personas from public places. 

This is the second such scandal to hit Speak4U and the Rock entertainment dynasty now teeters on a knife-edge.

The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act III

Siluria and Our Mission

For this mission we had been sent to Siluria to start new tax framework negotiations with the Silurian Ambassador. Siluria was an Earth-like habitable planet discovered around the end of the 21st Century in the XXi Regus 7 star system. Silurians were the dominant species on the planet and were basically bi-pedal reptile-like beings, with huge eyes and even ‘huger’ teeth. They were however, despite the teeth, generally an extraordinarily friendly and placid civilisation. They are one of only two extra-terrestrial groups that have made proactive contact with Earth with a view to meeting and sharing knowledge and expertise. And they did, of course, give us Baffleberry juice!!

The Silurian way of living was quite uncomplicated compared to the daily life of humans. They did have rudimentary technologies for communication (so they could phone home when they needed to) but they didn’t have the lifestyle ‘tools’ that Earth had. So they didn’t need vehicles to move around on their planet and they only ate vegetables and fruit. They also didn’t wear clothes as they had no obvious dangly or otherwise private bits to hide. Procreation apparently only really involved their tongue. They had quite tough and wrinkly skins that varied from pale brown to almost black. So, all in all, they led a very simple life on a daily basis, enjoying a very temperate climate that hardly varied as they went through their equivalent of a year.

Trade was limited with Siluria primarily because they had few needs and therefore didn’t need to import much and had only a limited number of items to export. Their two main exports were Baffleberries and Silurian silk rugs. The latter were unique because living Silurian silkworms were incorporated into every rug. The rugs were very popular on Earth as you could buy a small one and then, if you ever moved to a larger place, you could trigger the growth cycle of the worms and watch the rug grow to fit the space. Downsizing was a bit of an issue as there was no equivalent means of shrinking a Silurian rug. In addition, Silurian silkworms have remarkably strong legs which meant that on occasion a rug could go walkabout unexpectedly!!

Baffleberries on Siluria were quickly determined by the early explorers to be essentially delicious and then, by the inevitable scientists, to yield a juice with remarkable antioxidant properties. The juice rapidly became popular on Earth as a natural way to address the aging process and have a sometimes yummy drink for breakfast. Baffleberries got their name for a number of reasons. First, it was never easy to work out when the bright green triangular shaped berries were ripe, so farming them was something of an art. Not only that but from the consumer side, their flavour could vary enormously from sweet raspberry, banana-like, to something like raw onion. Consumers never really knew whether the Baffleberry juice they bought at the cloud market was going to bring a smile or a grimace to their face. However, committed Baffleberriers (members of the very popular Baffleberry club which made someone very rich) didn’t mind too much if they got one of the fairly rare onion flavoured batches – wrinkles were kept at bay and that was the most important thing. Silurians, in contrast, didn’t really care because they were wrinkly by nature, so Baffleberry juice was exported to Earth quite cheaply. And finally, as if that were not enough to baffle, the juice, when refrigerated for longer than an hour, became totally invisible. This meant that you never quite knew how much you had left or worse, if you were in a rush in the morning, how much you had actually poured out into your glass!!

Cat had by now finished his investigations and announced,

“Well, that is worrying.”

“What is?” I enquired.

“Sabotage. It was sabotage.”

I felt my eyebrows head towards my hairline as I said,

“You mean someone tried to kill us? Or rather me, because as we all know you’re pretty indestructible.”

“Yep someone tried to kill us.” responded Cat, “and I may have a pretty tough coating but in a full-blown crash at the speeds we were going at, I too would wind up in quite a large number of pieces, albeit generally indestructible ones. Anyways, we don’t have time to dwell on it. We’ve surfaced and we are being met.”

To be continued………

The Trees Fight Back

Carbon dioxide levels were at critical levels in the Earth’s atmosphere. Even the US President agreed the problem was real. Deforestation was a major contributing factor.

Genetic engineers had developed a transposon that when introduced into trees markedly reduced the amount of carbon that a dead tree released into the atmosphere.

Application of the gene technology to mature trees meant that deforestation could continue even faster.

But the trees were smarter than we realised. They had their own underground genetic engineers. Pretty soon an unsuspecting human race was being affected by a range of deadly airborne viruses that the trees had generated. Whole cities became de-populated of humans one after the other. The ultimate solution to reducing carbon dioxide generating practices had arrived.

The Silurian Silkworm Affair – Act II

Onwards and Upwards

As I felt the ship start to move slowly upward, I watched my Rubanon companion as he busied himself again, this time at multiple console screens. He was alternately tapping away at and then staring for a few moments at one screen or the other, presumably as the results of his tappings were displayed. Though a robot, to all intents and purposes, due to clever body sculpting, Cat looked like an ordinary domestic cat. However, unlike the genuinely ordinary moggie, Cat has really serious airs and graces and conducts himself as though he were the Crown Prince of the Universe. As a consequence he really was the most annoying of companions, frequently doing things without telling me and never fully explaining what was going on from one minute to the next. He was supposed to be my assistant and bodyguard but often it felt as though I was the servant and he was the master. You see, being an Intergalactic tax inspector was not the most popular of vocations and many an inspector like me had found this out the hard way through a variety of means, including painful death. So Cat was there primarily to support me with facts and figures but also to ensure that clients behaved themselves and that I returned to Earth in as few pieces as possible. As mentioned, he has a Rubanon outer skin which makes him pretty indestructible, though a T. Rex nearly bit him in half once. Now that’s a story – and of course, once again, I can tell you, I saved his bacon on that mission.

And me? Well, as I’ve indicated I am an Intergalactic Tax Inspector (an ITI). Wow, and what a job. I would never have dreamed of a job like this when I graduated from my local Learning World at the age of 27 with 137 digital badges covering topics from languages, alien lifeforms, history, lasers in society, through to communication skills, martial arts, and mathsomics. I was fully expecting to drift from homework to homework earning variable sums of credit. How lucky I was to be recommended by one of my old tutors (who obviously realised how talented I was) for a government-sponsored fast-track civil service programme. Fully expecting to become a government official, proofreading and air publishing new galaxy laws, I managed to get on the wrong hoverbus outside the new trainee transit station and the next thing I knew someone was taking my arithmetic capabilities to a new level and telling me that I was going to become an ITI.

So here I am, several years later earning a good salary, traveling the galaxy with my trusty (ha ha) companion Cat, checking out the tax affairs of individuals and major corporations across many globes. Despite all of our constant bickering, we had been on many missions together now and had become known for dealing with complex tax investigations. Over the years these investigations increasingly had less to do with tax and more to do with saving the Earth from one dastardly alien plot or another.  Of course, he (Cat) would have many believe that much of my success was down to him. But I knew better. I had lost count of the number of times I had pulled his furry tail out of the fire. We sometimes would undertake missions on good old Earth, in between our space travels, and here again, all of my skills and staggering capabilities came forth to ensure I succeeded, helping to make Cat look vaguely useful in the process. Cat acknowledged my skills, only recently telling me that my capabilities rivaled the most intelligent amoeba he’d ever studied. Cat was currently writing up the thesis for his 15th Doctorate degree!!. Boy, what a know-all!!

To be continued….