Zo and Qin

The Zeppulian was the pride of the Ulion galactic fleet. A feat of interstellar space travel bar none. Literally none. They checked. It was the most grand spaceship in the galaxy, as well as the fastest. It boasted the best navigation drive in existence, a navigation drive so good it could find places no one was even looking for. And its design was just as spectacular. A pancake shaped primary hull impeccably mounted on a cylindrical secondary hull with a rocket engine which was proportionally just too big, yet impressively so. Inside the command bridge,  smooth surfaces and blinking lights dazzled the senses with a simple yet sleek design. Five chairs were arranged in a semi-circle for the pilot and crew to pilot and crew the ship. Beyond the command bridge, the primary hull was occupied by a number of corridors leading to rooms of varying sizes, all of the them somehow grand regardless of size. The engine’s room in the secondary hull was a zigzag of pipes, grids, and electric cables that seem to lead somewhere important. There was also the occasional room with precarious bridges leading over impossibly deep holes in the floor for some reason, maybe for ventilation? It was an impressive ship.

 

Even more impressive was the aforementioned navigation drive. Remember the navigation drive? It was the best in the galaxy. So good in fact that it had the coordinates to the fabled lost planet. A planet so lost no one knew its name or why it was lost but assumed it must be important for why else would it be so lost? How the Zeppulian even got the lost planet’s coordinates was a mystery. It did have a really good navigation drive though...

 

Zo and Qin were on their spaceship in the Arbeth sector. Well, it really was more of their friend’s ship than their ship. Okay, it might have been someone they knew’s friend’s captain’s ship, to be precise and you could say they had acquired the ship through less than honest means. To be even more precise, you might say they had stolen the ship while it was docked on planet Lozth. And since, we’re being so precise, they weren’t so much in the Arbeth sector, as lost. Completely and utterly lost. The spaceship they stole was the Zeppulian, the grandest and fastest ship in the entire galaxy. A ship with the greatest navigation drive in existence.  And Zo and Qin had no idea how to fly it beyond taking off and going straight.

It was Zo’s idea, because of course it was. It is always Zo’s idea. Zo liked coming up with big ideas. Trouble was, he rarely put much thought in them past the first stage of “Wouldn’t it be neat if…” since he just assumed the little details would figure themselves out. To be fair, they always did. Not in the way Zo would often had liked, but the details did eventually figure themselves out. Zo liked having ideas but he didn’t like thinking too hard about them. He left that to the universe and the universe was only more than happy to comply. Qin was also more than happy to comply with Zo’s ideas even when he knew that it would probably lead to trouble. He was happy with that since he knew the path to trouble very well and was comforted by its familiarity. He also liked Zo, including his inability to stop talking. It really was something to behold. Words flew out of Zo’s mouth as though the thought of stopping would be as detrimental to his health as if he ceased breathing or his gills weren’t regularly moisturised. Zo was beholden to his most recent case of word vomit due to the fact they were lost in the Arbath sector on a spaceship with the best navigation drive in existence. Zo was not a big fan of irony, even though irony was a big fan of Zo and liked to chip in with a contribution every now and then. There also seemed to be a Neuzuan space pirate fleet of Death-Stalkers on their trail but it’s doubtful that’s of any relevance since Zo and Qin hadn’t noticed them yet.

“How can, I mean, that is, really, how can this happen?” He ostentatiously asked Qin but really was just declaring to the universe as a whole and without waiting for a reply he continued, “Like, we’re on the Zeppulian, The Zeppulian. The spaceship with the greatest navigation thingy in the history of navigation thingys and we’re lost. I have no idea where I am, do you? I don’t even know. How do you even get lost when the navigation is supposedly so good it finds places you weren’t even looking for?” He stared blankly for the splittest of seconds, “I don’t even know”, he repeated presumably for emphasis or perhaps because he really didn’t know. It’s hard to tell with Zo sometimes.

Qin then noticed the Neuzan fleet of spaceships designed with a very specific purpose in mind. That purpose being destroying other space ships which were not those spaceships. It was a very simple purpose, truth be told. He gestured to Zo and stated emphatically, “We’ve got company!” a phrase he had only heard before in hologrammies but thought appropriate to the situation. He also didn’t think he would have another chance to say the phrase again since when do people actually say “We’ve got company!” in real life? What a strange thing to say if you think about it. It’s completely vague since it’s used in hologrammies to signal something bad but having company is usually a good thing on most planets (excluding the planet Fert, because why anyone would want company on Fert is beyond most sentient beings). Yet this was one occasion when Qin thought the phrase might just fly without comment and he was happy to make the most of it, even though it did herald his possible doom at the hand of merciless Zeuzuan pirates. “Oh zersflit!”, Zo cursed as he emphatically pressed buttons and pull levers which had no apparent effect but did make it appear like he was doing something which sometimes is the more important thing.

“That’s just what we needed, a fleet of Neuzuan space pirates, and things were going so well… wait, did you say ‘We’ve got company!’?” A pause followed. The pause was itself then followed by a disruptive blast to The Zeppulian’s shields which shook the command bridge quite viciously while causing no real damage. It was a blast that Qin secretly was grateful for since it deflected attention from his gaffe.

 

Speaking of deflecting, while rocking the ship, the Zeppulian deflected most of the blast in the direction of a faraway moon rotating an isolated planet. But the dire unintended consequences of that errant blast aren’t worth telling right now since just then a drifting escape pod crashed into the Zeppulian like purposeful accident.

 

Zo and Qin looked at each other. More accurately, Zo looked up at Qin since he had fallen to the floor following this latest collision. Getting up with his dignity trailing slowly behind him like a wounded puppy, he sat firmly in the captain’s chair.

“Would you please find out what the lehht that was? It felt like something hit us. I’m not sure I could handle more surprises.” He was wrong, he could handle far more surprises, he just didn’t like doing so. Qin nodded and grinned a grin which suggested that everything would be okay since it always works out fine in the end so don’t worry, okay? Qin walked to the elevator which lead down to the secondary hull where it sounded like the collision hit. Also in the hologram map of the ship, the docking bay area of the secondary hull was flashing red with large capital letters which read, “DAMAGED. YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK IT OUT. IT LOOKS BAD, PROBABLY.” so he had a decent idea of where to look. Stepping into the elevator, the doors abruptly shut behind him with almost indignation that he took so long to step through.

As the elevator descended for what seemed like an impossibly long time at an irresponsibly fast speed, a high pitch whining filled Qin’s ears with muzak strong enough to burn off the hairs on his chin. Luckily, Qin's species couldn’t grow beards but the elevator music was still utterly terrible. The elevator settled gently with a wet squash sound as the gelatinous substance which comprised the elevator came to a stop, wobbling Qin something fierce due to the combination of mach force and the jelly-like consistency of the elevator. Shaken, Qin stepped out of the elevator on unsteady legs, more thankful than they ever realised they could be for a solid surface to stand on once more. Walking, gingerly at first but gradually assuming his normal buoyant pace, Qin made his way through the maze of identical looking corridors with built in transdimensional lighting. Filtering the light from another dimension beyond any form of understanding, the lights were far more energy efficient than any other form of lighting but they did run the risk of tearing a hole in the thin barrier which separated one dimension from the next. They also sometimes caused mass hallucinations but since Qin was alone, he thought he would be okay. He could still feel the occasional shake as the Zeppulian’s shields were hit and dutifully deflected incoming blasts from the Neuzuan pirate fleet. For some reason, the impact seemed less severe down below. Qin wasn't sure if that was a design flaw or because his legs were just better equipped to handle turbulent conditions following his trip in the elevator. He finally found himself at the door of the docking bay. He could hear a rustling coming from behind the door and immediately realised that maybe being alone when facing the unknown wasn’t the best thing he could be doing now. Then he remembered how happy he was to be doing something which had an element of danger to it since wasn’t it great to be alive? and walked through the door.