Elegant Solution

by disperser

Elegant Solution

By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright February 2013

Cursed planet!  They had emergency-landed on it well over 200 star-rises ago, and the engineers were still working to repair the drive.  Rumors ran rampant they were no closer to getting the engines working, and they all might be stuck here.

Not that it mattered much this moment; worried, Seto hurried to keep his appointment.  One does not get summoned to see the Princess unless she had a request.  Request!  More like a demand, and usually impossible to fulfill.   All sorts of hurt came to them who fell short.  Now it was his turn.  Cursed planet!  He should have been back home, lounging with his mate, sipping a mild aphrodisiac under the light of the twin moons.

He stood at the entrance to the chambers.  A bit early, but it gave him time to calm himself, breathe normally, and don a competent and confident demeanor.  The doors opened, and one of the huge imperial guards beckoned him in.  The guard stood half again his own height, engineered to withstand wounds, pain, and fatigue.  It was rumored they were immortal, but Seto knew better; as chief geneticist, he had helped design them.

The princess was little more than an adolescent.  Spoiled, even more so than typical adolescents.  Petulant, and given to throwing tantrums, she also self-conscious, and strove to appear regal, which is what she was attempting as he entered the chambers.  

“Seto.”  She spoke his name, and gave a small nod to recognize his station as Chief Geneticist.

“Your Highness.”  His own bow put strain on his back and knees, but it was expected of both young and old.  Seto fell in the later category, and his joints protested mightily.

“Seto,” She rose, and walked to the window as she continued, “ what do you see out there?”

With a nod from the guard, Seto walked up next to the princess, and looked out.  He almost sneezed, but held it in check.  The air on this planet was rich with pollen and other impurities, but it was her perfume which gave him an instant headache.

Getting his sinuses under control, he glanced out.  “I see vegetation, and animals.”

“Do you see any pretty animals?” Her question sounded casual . . . unless one was in tune with the slight waver in her voice indicating annoyance.

Seto looked out once more.  “Uh . . . no?”

She looked at him squarely in the eyes.  “Are you asking me?”

“No.  I mean, no, I do not see any pretty animals.”  He bowed slightly by way of acknowledging and apologizing for his indecision.

“It seems we are to be on this cursed planet for a while.”  She turned, and strode purposefully toward the exit as she gave him his task.  “Make me some.”

With exaggerated flair, she exited the chambers.  The guard looked at him, and failed to hide a slight smile as he moved to follow her.

Make me some!?!”  A wave of panic interfered with his breathing, necessitating his auxiliary breathing system to kick in.  The high pitched whistle of the auxiliary air intake signified both that he was getting air, and served as a warning system of his distress to anyone nearby .

“Should I call a medic?”  The automated voice of the security system made him jump, and it was a few seconds before he regained his composure.  “No, I’m fine.  Thank you”.   The system did not respond.  It was, after all, no longer its concern how Seto was doing. 

Really, the whistle noise was a throwback to early evolutionary history of his species, and these days it was mostly a nuisance.  Mostly, kids used it as a means of getting the attention of adults.  Perhaps he will put together a proposal to genetically engineer the trait out of future generations.  It would certainly be easier than his current task.

Turning to the window, he looked out.  By far, the giants were the worse eye-sore in the landscape.  No matter how pretty he made other animals, the giants would overshadow them both by smell and sight.  Their noises were none too pleasant, either.  And their numerous and prodigious droppings made even a casual stroll an exercise in obstacle avoidance.

Seto pondered for a while, then had an idea.  He practically ran to his lab, sending a message ahead of him to his assistants; “Excursion to gather samples.


Exactly thirty star-rises later, he again stood at the entrance to the chambers.  The progress had been slow, but they were beginning to see the fruits of his plan.  He was relieved he actually had something to report to the Princess.  The doors opened, and he strode with confidence into the chambers.

“Your Highness.”  Again, the awkward bow served as a reminder he should keep better fit.  “I have great news.  We were able to take samples of the local genetic material, and force mutations to . . . .”

He did not get to finish.  The doors burst open, and the Chief Engineer practically ran in.  

“Princess!  The drive is repaired!  The engines are functional, and we can leave at your command.”  He beamed, anticipating a nice reward after they left this cursed planet.

“About time!  Make it so; I never want to see this planet again!”  She made as to leave, then stopped, and spoke to the Chief Engineer.  

“In fact, as we leave this system, I want you to nudge a couple of the large asteroids.  Large enough to wipe out those monsters outside!”  With that, she started to walk away.

“But your Highness . . .” Seto made a motion to follow her, but the guard’s expression dissuaded him from continuing.  She didn’t even break stride as she left.

~

“But all our work!”  His assistants were visibly upset.  They had anticipated rewards for having slaved away at this project.  

“I know.”  Seto was as dismayed as they were.  “The smaller of our test samples are well on their way to turning.  The colors are amazing, and their vocalizing is . . . “  He turned, and wistfully looked out the windows that were already beginning to close, preparing for departure.  They had already launched massive quantities of nanobots carrying the genetic splices, but now it looked as if it would all get wiped out.

“It would be nice to one day return, and see if any survive.”

~

“Daddy!  Daddy!”

“What is it, princess?”

“Look! A hummingbird!”

“Yes, princess.”  The man looked at the bird. Then continued, “Hard to imagine they are the descendants of dinosaurs.”  

“No way!!” Her daughter clapped her hands.  “I thought they had all been killed by asteroids!  Cool!!”

The End

This was one of those late evening efforts; not too bad, but I can see improvements that could be made . . . by someone more talented than I.  Me, I’m reasonably content with this.

The story itself has been circling in my head, vying for attention, for the better part of a year.

Anyway, as usual, I appreciate any feedback offered, even if only to tell me how it could have been better.  Especially to tell me how it could have been better.

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