Thursday, May 26, 2005


      Douglas stared hard. Nothing seemed to happen. He had watched a lot of things come and go, but this thing was different. Out there, weightless, distinct. There were no precedents, no reference points. An approach without the courtesy of footsteps. He had to look away and look again to know anything had changed. Doing this a few times made him feel dizzy and inexplicably old.
      "They declare themselves the Hyperborean."
      1 squinted.
      "Confused. I've been aboard the Hyperborean. It doesn't look like that. Maybe you were right, Josef."
      "I'm afraid not. There doesn't appear to be anyone alive on that ship. So unless they are ghost pirates... And yes, Douglas. The entire galaxy is haunted by ghost space pirates. They are terrible and evil and have top secret tea parties where they howl and shriek and plan the abduction of left socks."
      "Hey 1," whispered Douglas loudly, "I think Josef is a ghost space pirate."
      Just then the Hyperborean caught everyone's attention with a spectacular explosion. Debris dispersed in every direction. They were close enough now to see why 1 hadn't recognized the ship. Whatever the original shape of the Hyperborean, this was clearly not it.
      What floated before them was a story. An epic tale of exotic worlds and glorious space battles. A beautiful narrative full of dramatic climaxes and heart-wrenching twists, neatly crumpled into a little ball.
      "Josef said there's no one alive."
      "It's all right, Douglas. The escape pods have been launched."
      "That is good to hear, I'm sure," said Josef, "I have reversed the drift so as to take us in the direction of the attack."
      "We've gotta board it first."
      "Board that?! Ridiculous! It is a few explosions shy of a toaster!"
      "It could help find 3."
      "Not so. If 3 is responsible for this, he must be nearby. This is a waste of time, either way."
      "Josef, this is a Wardship. We gotta find out what happened."
      "Perhaps I should remind you, 1: you are no longer a Ward."
      "You know, Douglas," frowned 1, "I think Josef might be a ghost space pirate after all."
      "Now wait just a -"
      "Oh no!" replied Douglas, "How can we tell?"
      "I am not a -"
      "We'll have to eject him into space. If he survives, he's definitely a ghost space pirate -"
      "Fine." Josef sighed. "We will investigate your precious ship. Your specious reasoning is torture enough."
      "It isn't specious," replied 1, "'cause I don't even know what that means."