When Captain Fr’ngg Oblique plotted the coordinates for the next planet on his list he didn’t suspect he would be the one to discover a highly-developed but unique intelligence, the first humanoid to do so. Nor did he expect to find that, on landing his sub-galactic hopper, he would be treated with barely disguised contempt.
Intelligence takes many forms in the universe and most of them have the same characteristics of species that we have on Earth. On Ptolemy 457 the intelligences were characterized by their state, and the highest form on P457, in that self-regarding way planet inhabitants have, who have yet to master space flight was considered to be the gaseous puff-streams from the Omovoidle caskpits. Having a hierarchy meant a strict separations between states.
The appearance, literally out of the blue, of Captain Oblique changed that.
The rules of engagement with any new intelligence weren’t very clear, mainly because not many had been discovered. Basic contact was encouraged with an emphasis on peace and understanding. Ideally after that first brush, the captain would withdraw for instructions.
Easier said than done. Captain Oblique did report back but to his surprise his curiosity had been aroused by the apparently amorphous but strangely present clusters he encountered. And none captivated more so that a sinuous puff-stream called A’bush, who was allocated as his initial liaison.
For her part – ‘her’ being a somewhat loose sexual categorization but sufficient for this tale – A’bush carried with her the standard contempt for a solid. When told of her role, her form sagged visibly, creating a nimboid denting in her normally pert cumulo-curvation.
‘Why me, boss?’ She hissed wearily.
Her superior, Grorge Oel, was a hybrid, a rare genetic mutation that allowed him to morph. At times of stress or when some especially tricky gas-management skills needed to be employed, he could solidify into a liquid, a skill much admired and indeed envied but little understood. He splashed some enthusiasm into his syrupy vowels as he puddled around A’bush. ‘Because you enjoy a challenge. Just give him your best zephyr and he’ll follow you like a limpet. This is an important role, A’bush. We know you’ll blow him away. Like you did with the last Solid you worked with.’
Clump. A’bush rustled as the memories of Mani Clump flooded back. ‘That’s what worries me. Thing is Grorge, if this one is like the last lump it’ll make me want to set.’
Grorge gurgled at the joke – at least he assumed it was a joke but pure gases were notoriously difficult to interpret if they didn’t colour to show their emotions. ‘Don’t sink to his level, A’bush. Keep you molecules moving! He’s a foreign visitor and we need to make an impression. Our masters have their heads in the clouds for a reason and they say it’s up to you.’
A’bush floated away, her spirits as formless as her context.
Waiting by the reception, currently manned by two giggling pools of acro-ponding, each reflecting the other as they sought to outshine their co-worker, Fr’ngg felt oddly nervous. ‘Don’t freeze,’ he told himself, something not usually a problem for solids. But this contact was so important that nerves got the better of the Captain and so it was that their first encounter was as Fr’ngg dropped his coffee cup, splattering the receptionists and rendering them two adhesive sticky balls of almost-mucous that appeared momentarily shapeless. He pulled himself together, grovelling out a profuse apology, while A’bush nodded, keeping her tones as neutral as her self-control allowed but she knew he had seen some colour.
‘Right. When you’re quite ready let’s start.’ She wanted to restore some semblance of authority so she vented away at speed. Only as she looked back did she realise how mortified he was, either from the slippage or from catching her toning. Her nuclei filled with affection before she swarmed herself together. Stupid cloud, she scoffed. He’s a solid, even if other-worldly. Get a grip on your tendrils.
Something though must have stuck and over the next days and weeks, as A’bush showed Fr’ngg her planet the two found themselves understanding each other more and more, teasing each other at the formlessness of the one against the inflexible rigidity of the other.
Twice A’bush asked Fr’ngg home. Twice he came and spent the evening, oddly tongue-tied for someone so sophisticated. A’bush felt frustrated. Surely he likes me? Surely he’s interested? But maybe he doesn’t understand, given he’s from another planet.
She asked a girlfriend who swirled with delight. Cross substance sex, while not common wasn’t unknown. ‘He doesn’t know how to read you, silly. You need to make it bloody obvious.’
So, on the third night, after they had shared a vaporised steak and a rather delicious pixelated Merlot, A’bush slipped to her restroom. She called Fr’ngg to follow. When she saw him, through the leaded lights in door she let all self-control go, allowing a neopolitan display of the most exotic colours to suffuse her every atom. Fr’ngg stared, awestruck then pushed open the door. He removed his clothes and allowed A’bush to envelope his every inch, both shivering with a delicious ecstasy.
As one heated and the other cooled their passions took over and they bonded and flowed, melting together and becoming liquid in love.
This is part of Rachael Ritchey’s blog battle