Author: Richard M. O’Donnell, Sr.
Tee-Crux entered the spaceport with her service animal in tow. Everyone stopped to stare at her ET-Ultra. Even the ticket agents and porters gawked. Tee-Crux was especially pleased with the oohs and ahhs from the verbal races and the flapping of skin or feathers from the non-verbal. All had heard of the Ultra’s soothing qualities and most had viewed the vids she produced for the Nature Channel. Yet few believed that the screams of an Ultra could cure subspace-sickness.
“They’ll see,” she thought.
Subspace-sickness was the bane of intergalactic travel. The nausea was so intense that only an AI could pilot a ship through inner-space. Each galactic year a handful of passengers died, while many others had their brainwaves scrambled. The introduction of service animals on flights helped to ease the suffering, but it was not a cure. Then Tee-Crux’s mate, Blee-Crux, returned to Crux as the sole survivor of a deep-space expedition to the delta-quadrant. His AI pilot had malfunctioned and Blee-Crux had done the impossible. He piloted through inner-space without going insane. His secret, he had discovered a small, smooth-skinned, bipedal animal that radiated calming energy waves. The major space-liners had sent expeditions to retrace Blee-Crux’s trip, unsuccessfully.
“Blee may have no interpersonal skills,” thought Tee-Crux, “but he is the best smuggler in the galaxy.” He proved that when he secreted fifty mating pairs of Ultras home. They had spent the last five cycles conditioning the new pups for inner-space travel. Tee-Crux squared her shoulders and lifted her tusks up high. “Today is the day we cash in!”
A mob of paparazzi pushed through the crowd shouting, “Make it scream! Make it scream!”
Tee-Crux waited until the terminal and adjoining concourses were packed. Then she raised her hand up high to reveal a remote control. She waited until the crowd hushed, then she pressed the button.
The ET-Ultra screamed with exquisite agony and fell writhing to the floor. Its sound washed away everyone’s anxieties. Even after the Ultra quieted, the feeling of well-being continued. The crowd burst into applause of loud clicking. Few in the annuals of the Coalition of Solar Systems had ever received such an ovation from so many different races at the same time. As the crowd made-way for Tee-Crux to pass, she felt as if she were riding inside an anti-gravity pleasure bubble.
She boarded a charted spaceship, one that had cost her and Blee-Crux their life savings. Inside, she found two hundred executives from competing space-lines already seated. All were seasoned space survivor. Tee-Crux pressed the button. The Ultra’s screams produced the desired effect.
“One billion credits for exclusive rights,” shouted the first bidder.
“Two billion!” said another.
“Please, a moment,” said Tee-Crux. She picked up the ET-Ultra. It buried its nose in her neck and whimpered wonderfully. Tee-Crux patted its back. “Fellow Coalitionists, we are about to experience the smoothest take off in the history of interstellar flight. There will be ample time to bid during our three-hour cruise.”
As a multi-limbed flight attendant helped Tee-Crux secure the Et-Ultra into its carrier, he noticed odd artwork on the pet’s license tag. “What’s that?” he asked.
“ET-Ultras like to scratch tiny designs on the walls,” said Tee-Crux, “especially that one. We’re using it as our logo.”
“Does it mean anything?”
“Ultras rate too low on the sentient-index for it to mean anything.”
“I collect animal art. May I take a pic?”
The attendant clicked a pic and posted it on Intergalactic String. In minutes, a trillion followers viewed the strange animal markings for the first time.
– Fuck You –