WEP Jun 2021 – Great Wave

Here is my entry for the June 2021 WEP Challenge, Great Wave. Neville, a Space Fleet Academy cadet, is serving on the military freighter Mariposa, which carries thousands of refugees from their destroyed colony planet to their new home, the planet Simel. Neville’s duty is being the captain’s liaison with the passengers. I wrote about Neville’s previous adventures here:

Feb 2021 – The Kiss

Apr 2021 – Freedom Morning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Neville was on the bridge for his daily debriefing with the captain when he detected a sudden movement out of the corner of his eye. He spun around. And stared in stupefaction at a great wave of pink … insects? Mice? The tiny creatures – hundreds of them – flowed like a tide from the navigator’s station up the wall, disappearing into the ventilation shaft above the pilot’s chair. The last one lagged behind, sick or lame, before it too escaped into the shaft.  

“I think they did something bad,” Sarni, the navigator, said faintly. “What are those things? I only turned away for one moment, and now my holo screen is blinking. There should be a star map there, but it is just blinking.” Her voice rose to a screech. “Where is my star map? I need to lay a course.”

“Tergio!” Captain Moss bellowed into the intercom for the chief engineer. “Report to the bridge. Find her star map.” Then she glared at Neville. “Cadet! Find those things and destroy them. I don’t allow … pests on my ship.”

“Destroy how?” Neville asked helplessly. “What are they?”

“Find out what they are, where they came from, one of the passengers, no doubt, and kill them,” she yelled. “It’s your job. We can’t have such pestilence on my ship, especially if they eat star maps.” Then she gulped, her cheeks turned pink, almost the same color as the fleeing bugs had been, and she winced. Much calmer, she said: “They probably did something to Sarni’s com-link. They’re a menace if they could do that. Find them, research them, deal with them. I want them off the Mariposa before they damage any more equipment. That’s your priority, cadet.”

“Yes, captain.” Neville swallowed his useless objections.

He collided with Tergio, the chief engineer, as he fled the bridge. Now what? he wondered, stomping towards the passenger holds. He couldn’t ask every passenger in the seven holds about those beetles, could he? Over nine thousand refugees had boarded the Mariposa for this trip to Simel. One of them had obviously smuggled aboard something he shouldn’t have. And then those stowaways escaped. And the Mariposa was a three-kilometer long freighter with tons of old equipment stored everywhere. Argh!

As it happened, he didn’t have to search at all. A short spare man with a mane of auburn hair assaulted him as soon as he crossed to the B section.

“You’re the liaison, aren’t you?” the man demanded with obvious irritation. “Norman or Nathan?”

“Neville,” Neville said. “Yes, I am. Do you have a problem?”

“Yes. You do too. I had a crate of my research arthropods, but someone pried open the lid while I was in the mess hall. They escaped. You need to find them.”

Neville stared. “Pink things?” he murmured. “Like a cross between a bug and a mouse?”

“Yes, yes! Did you see them?”

“Yeah. They just damaged the navigator’s station on the bridge.” Neville struggled to suppress his hysterical laughter. “Instead of displaying her star map, her holo vid screen now blinks. We can’t navigate. The captain ordered me to find and destroy your critters. What are they, anyway?”

“No!” the man cried. “You can’t destroy them. They are my future on Simel. They are priceless.”

“The captain’s orders.” Neville shrugged. “You should’ve had a better lock on that crate of yours.”

“I’ll talk to the captain myself,” the man declared. “I’m Professor Berum. I was the top entomologist on the planet. Lead me to her.”

Neville complied. The entire bridge listened in breathless fascination to the explosive argument between Captain Moss and Professor Berum. At first, the captain was adamant, but in the end, after much pleading and some passionate insults on Berum’s part, she relented and agreed to stay her execution order, if the scientist helped Neville recapture the beasties. Immediately.

Sarni, the navigator, still muttered mutinously, as Berum and Neville left the bridge.

“They are dusters,” Berum explained. “A household might have a family of them, no more than twenty, and they would take care of all the dust, dirt, and dead hair in a house. No need ever to vacuum or dust or even wash the floor.”

Neville, who had often been on cleaning duty at the Academy, grunted an affirmative. “But why pink?”

“To be instantly visible,” Berum said. “Pink is a color rarely used on furniture or walls or floors. I researched.”   

“How do we catch them? What would attract them?”

“Chocolate. I researched that too. It’s one of those universal food staples people brought with them to every human colony in space. They grow cocoa beans everywhere.”

Neville shouted a short laugh. “So we’ll just get a couple of chocolate bars from the mess and go around waving them? Come, dear bugs, here is your treat!”

“We-e-ell,” Berum said weakly.  

They did get chocolates from the mess. Optimistically, Neville installed Berum’s empty crate – the bugs’ abandoned home – on a small float loader to trundle with them, and they started their sweep of the ship. While they walked, Berum told Neville that his millipedes were genetic constructs, created and patented by him. They usually avoided people and worked best in an empty space. “When the owners are at work,” Berum clarified.

It took all day. “I think my dusters want to get to the passenger holds,” Berum speculated. “Lots of dust and dirt for them there, but too many people. They wouldn’t do it.”

Neville was more concerned about the warp drive, but to his relief, they didn’t find any pink varmint there. Eventually, they arrived in engineering, the section Neville avoided all day. By now, even he was tired, and the much-older Berum visibly sagged.

“You!” Tergio snarled. “I have a nasty surprise for your creepy-crawlies, Mister. A perimo pulse. As soon as I finish this pulse emitter.” He lovingly tapped an unfinished gismo on his workbench. “Tomorrow morning at the latest. That would be it for the bugs on the Mariposa. Kaput! Hah!”     

Berum flinched.

“We came to check your section.” Neville shook his head in disapproval. Nothing could be gained by frightening the old scholar.

“Is it chocolate?” Tergio demanded. “For me?” He brightened and stretched his hand for the bar in Neville’s grip. “I love chocolate.”

“It’s for Berum’s bugs.” Neville danced out of reach of Tergio’s fingers.

“Come on!” Tergio growled.

Then a pink wave hit the floor, coming from all directions and flowing towards Neville and Berum. And their chocolates.

“Lovely,” said Neville, watching the bugs scurrying into their crate and forming pink mounds around several chocolate bars inside.

“Gross!” said Tergio.

“My dusters!” Berum cried happily.  

This entry was posted in Olga Godim, WEP, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to WEP Jun 2021 – Great Wave

  1. Smiling broadly. And those dusters would have a field day here (for which I would gladly reward them with chocolate).

  2. Lenny Lee says:

    Hi Miss Olga,

    I’m a big syfy fan. I love this story. It’s well-written and kept me reading wondering about the little critters and the damage they might cause. I laughed when I found out the bugs are “dusters.” For sure we could use a few at our house. Do you think they’d like Reese’s peanut butter cups? 🙂

    Thanks for the comment on my haiku. Per your suggestion, I added my link to the WEP challenge.

  3. Where can I get a cluster of those? Well written indeed.

  4. Jemi Fraser says:

    Love it! And I’ve always got chocolate – if you have any dusters to spare!

  5. Love those dusters!!!! image the BILLIONS of dollars you could make if anyone was ever to create them… not to mention, they sound absolutely adorable. Fun story, Olga!

  6. Denise Covey says:

    I want some of those pink dusters to keep house for me, “tak[ing] care of all the dust, dirt, and dead hair in a house. No need ever to vacuum or dust or even wash the floor.” Sounds like paradise. Beautifully written, Olga. A great serial is taking place.

  7. Rebecca Douglass says:

    I think I could totally manage to spare a little of my chocolate for something to come and dust my house for me. Double chocolate for them if they clean the shower.

    Loved the light-hearted story and happy ending 🙂

  8. Yolanda Renee says:

    What an entertaining story. Love the red dusters, please send them my way! A needed HA for this prompt!

  9. patgarcia says:

    Hi,
    Very good story I was hoping that the critters didn’t die. In many ways, they are necessary to the environment. So, I laughed because they got the chocolate and not Tergio who was most unfriendly.
    Shalom aleichem

  10. C J Austin says:

    Intriguing but being that I’m petrified of bugs in general I will avoid having any chocolates in my house! 😉

  11. I want the a hoard of pink beasties to dust and clean my home!! Well done! I love the collision of hi tech, research, and domestic concerns.

  12. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – loved this … please, pretty please send me some arthropods they would love my place! I would go out and buy them some chocolate to make sure they were kept very happy … a delightful tale – loved it … what fun! Cheers Hilary (Wish it was true!!)

  13. Another great entry for WEP, with Neville’s adventures on his starship. Fun story and dialogues full of humour. Thank you Olga.

  14. lgkeltner says:

    Chocolate as bait would work for me too! Another fun and clever story! I often wonder how you come up with so many creative and fun ideas.

  15. soniadogra says:

    So much fun in that story Olga. Great entry!

  16. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Another fun instalment on the Mariposa. Perfect. Totally approve of the bugs taste in chocolate – so sensible. 🙂

  17. Steph W says:

    While I would love to have these, I would not be willing to share my chocolate. I loved it. Reminds me of your story in the anthology, another very good tale! I do love your use of futuristic tech to solve everyday problems!

  18. LOL. I have bad news for Berum. Little pink bugs would give me nightmares that I’d get cleaned at night. Unique idea, I think. Well done.
    Nancy

  19. cleemckenzie says:

    Yay for the Dusters! Great fun. Thanks for the levity and the Sci-Fi take on this WEP.

  20. Enjoyed reading about the pink Dusters. It’s also fun that they love chocolate.

  21. Anne Nydam says:

    I could certainly use some dusters in my house. (On the other hand, I want to eat all my chocolate myself.) Very enjoyable episode!

  22. Jemima Pett says:

    Oh I love it. How creative. And of course they’d go for chocolate. And unusually, I remember your characters between episodes, which is usually beyond me even with monthly prompts. Great job!

  23. Sally says:

    Oh, how I would love these dusters to help in my house. I’m so glad they weren’t destroyed and to think chocolate was answer!

  24. I’m not keen for creepy crawlies, but since these ones avoid people and eat up household debris, sign me up!
    Terribly sorry to be tardy to the party. I had a bit of a mental crisis but am back to abnormal now.

    Your post is included in this week’s Roost Recommendations. I share the Roost Recommendations posts on Twitter with readers looking for their next read.
    https://ornerybookemporium.blogspot.com/2021/06/roost-recommendations-27-june-2021.html

  25. I’m going to start my Act III and have to end my story soon too. I’m planning to read the last chapters of some of my favorite authors in my genre and hope it helps me figure out how to end mind. Great story! It was a fun one.

  26. Kalpana says:

    I loved this on so many levels. Dusters! Honestly – we need those. And Dusters that love chocolate and are pink? Inspired. Thanks for a lovely story.

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