The humanoid and mysterious captain of the small spaceship was alone and held the controls tightly to keep it from going off course. Alarms were screaming and emergency lights flashing in the clunky shaped vessel as Captain Funktion (3:22) struggled to remain focused. The ship was badly damaged and the autopilot was destroyed. Funktion was accompanying the rest of the fleet in dangerous territory when they were fiercely and unexpectedly attacked by the brainwashed Hubron Elbards near Planet RT10020212 (2:59) in the Kearpsa System. Our hero’s ship was struck by enemy fire almost immediately in the melee and had to make a daring escape during the ensuing scrimmage.
The captain had the vessel’s nose aimed at the closest planet outside the RT system and struggled to keep that trajectory. Maybe there would be a safe harbor to land and get the repairs done, Funktion thought. There wasn’t really much choice in the matter. The engines were failing by that time and life support was limited. Pesci Carne Commercia was not a very well known planet to our steadfast space warrior but Funktion was looking anywhere to rest for a moment. While rerouting systems on the touch screen and feverishly trying to maintain command of the ship, our hero decided to land on Experimental Farm Road (4:55).
Captain Funktion shot through the atmosphere, engaged the backup landing sequence and tried to hail the traffic control tower with a fuzzing comm. After a brief back and forth with the confused traffic control staff, our hero touched down hard but safe in the landing area of a brightly lit parking lot. The captain heaved a sigh of relief and checked the surroundings. It was relatively quiet in the sprawling parking lot compared to the battle Funktion just escaped from. There was a mix of travelers and commerce, a large variety of different spacecraft, land craft and people. Funktion took some time stabilizing the vessel and powering down the systems. After securing the ship, the captain ambled through the lot towards the main building, past truckers hauling goods, families on long trips, weirdos and oddballs from all walks of life. It was Harry’s Psychedelicatessen (4:24), an oasis of sorts in an area of heavy intergalactic trade activity. It was a sight to behold, with many different visitors and beings passing through constantly. Its well stocked shelves had a tremendous array of supplies needed for anything imaginable from spaceflight to recreation.
Harry, the pale skinned humanoid owner and namesake, was very streetwise and had seen much in his many years. He was large and grumpy, but it was endearing. The somewhat cranky but sweet old proprietor spent most of his time hanging out at the counter in his shop, talking to travelers and truckers, gossiping about the latest battle or barking orders at his staff. The captain approached his counter and he looked up from his conversation to take a good look at the newcomer. Funktion was clad in a white astronaut space suit with a helmet that had a mirrored face shield and stepped up undaunted. Harry rubbed his substantial belly and made a gut face when the captain inquired about repairs. Funktion's voice sounded robotic as it came out of a speaker just below the face shield. Harry suggested that the white suited warrior should try to strike a deal with the Sextraterrestrials. According to Harry, they had a base Two Ports Down (3:56) and it was just a quick shuttle ride away.
“You should get your ship fixed over there, but you’re better off staying here. I got cheap rooms and the accommodations are better”, he said as he let out a sigh, eyeing the captain. “The Sextraterrestrials are becoming more brainwashed by the day, but they still got the best repair shops.”
On the shuttle our brave hero contemplated the seemingly endless Mind Wars that have raged for many years. Funktion sat alone and reminisced silently about a time before the wars escalated and came to take over the captain'sown planet called Funk. Recollections from long ago of riding shuttles like these to visit family filled the captain's thoughts. All the humanoid species of Funktionhad come from the planet Funk, but before the wars had reached the level they had come to be, very few had actually ever left.
A deep frown came across the captain’s shielded face as sad thoughts crept in about the Psychedelic Mind Wars (4:28). With it, the tragic loss of so many friends and family from battle after battle while an ever growing number of societies became brainwashed by the Psychedelic Waves. The Nisers, who were small in number, were responsible for the brainwashing. But they dwelled on a planet where mining for material that made the Dark Currents was possible. The Dark Currents were considered useless at first, but after setting up a heavy fortification and blockade to protect their planet, they started sending out the Psychedelic Waves. As the Waves permeated the universe, they started to alter the state of mind of those being affected. Their closest neighboring planets were affected first and among them, were the very populous Hubron Elbards. They became the Nisers' first soldiers in the Mind Wars that were to follow.
As the invisible waves intensified, many societies belief in the power of Dark Currents (3:15) became absolute. Dark Currents came to be used for the acquisition of almost anything being traded everywhere, from small communities on some of the most brainwashed planets to outposts and planetary hubs like Pesci. This made the Nisers not only very rich but extremely powerful and there was no end to their greed. They didn't care about the transformation of the universe or the lives being lost from the resistance to their control.
Some were immune to the Psychedelic Waves and were left feeling lost and disconnected. Those individuals were forced to watch their worlds, family and friends change before their eyes. Funktion was immune in this way and had to see everyone else on planet Funk become brainwashed over time and obsessed with nothing else but obtaining Dark Currents.
The captain thought with disdain about these ports where Harry had his business and where the Sextraterrestrials had set up their Military Bass (2:49). This was the front line for now and because of that, trading in these ports could be pretty aggressive. Even with some of the flimsy local treaties that were established, these days it was difficult to tell if anyone would stick to them. They had become hotbeds for the kind of battle that had put our steadfast warrior in this position. The captain wondered about the fate of the docked ship and how it would be to strike deals with an uncaring group at best or malicious enemies at worst. Funktion knew little about the Sextraterrestrials, except that this was the front for a reason. They were beginning to completely change to a brainwashed society and the allies were losing the war.
Captain Funktion arrived safely yet anxious and impatient in the Sextraterrestrials’ territory. But shortly after landing and just before leaving the terminal, the warrior was accosted by several different mechanics who caught word that there was someone on the shuttle in need of ship repairs. The captain relaxed amid the relative safety of what was driving their society. Treaty or no treaty between them, the most important thing now were the Dark Currents hidden in our brave hero's space suit. Funktion sighed as 186.91 (3:20) Dark Currents were handed over to the most trustworthy looking mechanic. After the agreement was made, a fight broke out between the mechanic representing the shop Funktion picked and some other shop representatives. This was the way of the brainwashed in the early stages and our hero thought grimly that soon after this, the society would turn its violence and relentless competition outward. Without fail, this would spark numerous conflicts which would plunge the whole society of Sextraterrestrials headlong into the war. With all the arrangements made for the ship to be towed over to the military bass and repaired, the Captain boarded the shuttle to return to Harry’s.
“Did you get it sorted out?”, Harry asked from behind his counter when Funktion returned.
“It’s a mess over there”, said the gravelly, robotic voice, emanating from the speaker.
Harry chuckled and his girth shook. He tapped on a screen that was sitting on the counter and asked with an impish grin: “So, the repairs’ll probably take till tomorrow, huh? You’ll be needing a room to take off that helmet and catch some sleep then, wontcha?”
The captain, feeling defeated on the day yet resolute, replied, ”I suppose I will. But give me something nice, ok? You take Dark Currents?”
Harry nodded enthusiastically and yelled for an employee of his to show his guest a room. With a patronizing smile he extended his arm as his worker showed the captain away.
“Enjoy a nice breakfast in our restaurant tomorrow morning!”, he bellowed after them as they were walking out. “Free with the cost of the room!”
Captain Funktion woke up in the bed blinking, not exactly sure of the surroundings. The wall panel was flashing slowly and our hero watched for a moment, realizing the day had begun. The captain stumbled out of bed and touched the panel with a cautious finger.
“Good Morning!”, the panel said cheerfully as the lights brightened in the room. “Please join us in our Famous Harry’s Restaurant for your complimentary breakfast!”
The captain frowned at the phony voice, donning the space suit and helmet once again. With a rumbling stomach, Funktion hung the ‘do not disturb’ sign and left the room. Hope for a comforting meal was dashed when the captain arrived at the restaurant. Despite the overall grandeur of Harry’s intergalactic oasis Psychedelicatessen, it’s attached restaurant was less so. Its poor design was almost comic and everything seemed old and falling apart. Funktion immediately decided to take whatever breakfast there was back to the room to eat. A thin, aging, mauve skinned server with tentacles went over to greet our hero as the captain walked in.
“Good morning”, she said, in a pleasant, practiced tone. “Will you be joining us today?”
“Um, I don’t think I’ll stay. Can I just get something to take up to my room?”
The server bristled at the robotic voice and her skin turned a shade more like amethyst. ”You may, but you will still pay the gratuity.”
Funktion told her it was fine and took a seat at the counter to wait for the meal. As she went to pick up her tablet for taking the order, the cook leaned through the window and said something in a language the captain couldn’t quite understand. The server screwed up her mouth in a scowl and let out a groan. She was practically eggplant when she walked back over to Funktion to say that the griddle was down.
“We have toast or cereal. No hot food right now.” She added a ‘sorry’ after a brief pause, but she didn’t mean it.
The captain took it in stride and with after a sharp exhale,”Coffee?”
“I just ran out, but I’ll make some fresh for you.”
“…And I’ll have the cereal, I suppose. What kind?”
“Cheery Yo’s (3:29)?”
“Fine, Thank you.”
The server nodded and turned on her heel to prepare everything, her color becoming brighter again. Funktion watched the Mister Coffee (4:02) brewing and waited to be able to go back to the room. Our hero's mind wandered to the rest of the troops and how the battle turned out. There had been no communication since the captain escaped and the attack was so swift, there hadn’t been time to call for reinforcements. The fleet got broken up and Funktion was all alone aboard the ship, having to make aggressive maneuvers to get out of the way of the onslaught. It was pretty lucky to have ended up at Harry’s, thought the captain, even if the breakfast was going to be lousy.
Suddenly a tall, humanoid, grey skinned, bearded stranger leaned against the counter next to where our hero sat. He was staring at Funktion until the captain turned to look at him.
“Hello Captain”, he said with a grin in a cheerful, friendly voice.
Funktion studied him for a moment and was pretty sure they had never met. It didn’t seem to slow the stranger down at all and he kept talking. He looked right into the reflective glass of the helmet and said to call him Andar.
“Nice to meet you, Andar”, the captain said dismissively and turned back to see the server gathering the cereal and coffee for the takeaway order. Andar could tell that Funktion was suspicious, even behind the captain's one way mirrored face shield, but he was determined.
“It’s nice to meet you as well, Captain Funktion.”
Our distrustful hero, who was just grabbing the bag from the server, paused again to give Andar another good look. There was something about him that seemed familiar. Andar's grin widened and told Funktion that he was glad to have the captain’s attention. With his audience where he wanted, he waited as the server gave them a sideways glance and began to walk out of earshot. Once she had left, he became serious and began to tell Funktion many things. He described a place he knew that held the secret to end all the brainwashing that had made so many slaves to the Dark Currents. He spoke about a distant planet and that when standing on it’s surface at sunrise, one could harness a power being emitted to cease the Psychedelic Waves.
“Does everyone know about this planet, or just you?”, the Captain asked, somewhat mockingly. “What’s its name? Look, I’ve got enough problems just trying to put my ship back together”, then muttering. ”And after that, find the fleet…”
Andar nodded as the captain trailed off, his face showing as much sympathy as he could. His receding hairline and high forehead caught the light in the dingy restaurant. Funktion couldn’t quite place his age. His features indicated a somewhat older man, even though his shoulder length hair and flight suit were more indicative of someone a bit younger.
“…And why me?”, the captain started again. “What could I possibly do to help? You seem to have it all figured out.”
Andar scoffed. “You're clearly being modest, Captain. You have a reputation, you know. I understand you to be a fighter and a motivated one at that. There’s a chance we can end this war, if just the right elements are in place and if someone like you would only make the sacrifice. I also have the Dark Currents to make it worth your while. I suppose you wont be needing them much if the mission is a success though.”
Andar paused while he waited for a reply. He stroked his beard and smiled again as he looked down at the floor. Funktion was moved by the speech, but was still uncertain.
“What was the name of the planet again?”, the hesitant, robotic voice asks through the speaker on the helmet.
Andar glanced around and replied quietly. “Mercury (3:27)”
His face softened and a small grin appeared once again on his lips. The captain was thoughtful and still weighing options as Andar tried to remain calm.
“In the Solar System of the Milky Way Galaxy, right?”
Andar nodded, restraining himself. “Yeah, that's right... That means something to you, no...?”
On the one hand, Funktion was interested in finding the fleet that got broken up during the battle. They would be worried and looking for our steadfast hero. But on the other hand it would be a great opportunity to end things for good, if Andar was for real. The captain saw him being for real too, even with that grin of his. He seemed to know more about Funktion than he was even letting on.
“You must know how far that is. Flying there will take quite some time and I hope you're prepared to compensate me. I'm not greedy, but I do need to eat and buy fuel for my ship.”
“You don't have to worry about that, captain. I'll make sure you're well taken care of on the journey. By the way, does the name Ollopaw mean anything to you?”, Andar asked, slyly.
“How...How do you know that name?”, Funktion responded.
“I'll tell you everything I know, if you agree to go. Certainly you can understand the importance of this mission. I also happen to know that the Solar System is of special significance to you...”, he let his words hang in the air.
“Alright, I’m in,” Funktion said, trying to seem as confident as possible.
“Good. Good! Glad to hear it! Go to you room and eat your breakfast. I’ll be waiting for you by the hangar where your ship is docked. See you in a bit!”
Andar was elated and the captain could clearly see it. He definitely didn’t try to hide his emotion and Funktion was even more interested, thinking how peculiar he was as he strolled away.
A little later on, hurrying past a few brawls in the crowded streets and a seemingly ever increasing feeling of chaos, the captain arrived at the hangar. Andar greeted our hero warmly and apologized for all the commotion happening outside.
“It’s a sad day when the Waves really start to take hold”, he said, shaking Funktion’s hand and stroking his beard nervously. “It appears you’re lucky. You’ll probably get out of here just in time. It was a smart move to send your ship over here when you arrived at Harry’s.”
He grinned and chortled. “That Harry! Why one time I had the craziest run in with-”
“Excuse me”, the captain blurted out suspiciously. “But I think it’s convenient that you seem immune to the Waves. I mean, you even seem unaffected by what is clearly the crumbling of your society. You are a Sextraterrestrial, are you not?”
Andar winced as his face fell.
“My dear… Captain. I must tell you, it pains me to no end to see this happen to us. We were once a very fun, freaky, funk-based culture, much like your own. Alas, that’s no more. It’s with great sorrow that I’ve got to just stand by and watch this happen. I can't give you any explanation for my apparent immunity. Also...” his face eased. “I could probably ask you the same thing.”
Funktion’s head lowered and shoulders dropped for a moment, then raised again.
“'Can't' or 'wont' give me an explanation? What aren't you telling me?”, the captain asked skeptically.
“But as fate would have it”, Andar said abruptly, using his finger for emphasis. “I’m also fortunate enough to be in possession of the tool to end all of this. So you see, between finally meeting you and having this…”, he said as he turned his finger and pointed to a sizable crate being loaded onto the captain’s ship.
“The Solar Plasma Blaster”, he said the words slowly and saw that Funktion was frozen and speechless. He probed. “I see you’ve heard of it.”
“R-r-rumors of it. Only rumors”, our hero stammered. “Those over there loading it… Do they know?”
“No, of course not. I told them it’s a crate of my personal effects, but I have none. That’s the only
thing of mine going”, he said and paused.
”Going…?”, Funktion said after a beat.
“Oh come off it. You’re gonna need a copilot.”
The captain’s head was shaking. “No. No, no, no… I fly alone. I haven't had a copilot since my falling out with Oreh Elam. I must be-“
“You must be what?”, Andar said with that same grin. “Crazy? You’re gonna need my help. You have no idea what’s ahead of you. I know that star system pretty well, I'm a good copilot and you’ve never used a weapon that can harness the power of a star!”
“Just gimmie that thing, I’m gonna break it! (4:42) I can break the waves’ spell myself. How do you know whether I’ve used a weapon like that, anyway?”, Funktion said, growing more irate. “You’re very presumptuous.”
“It’s not a presumption”, Andar said calmly and frankly. “I’ve been following your career. Been watching you for a long time and waiting for my chance. We’re gonna do this together and you’ll see. We’ll make a great team, you and I. Besides, I have much to tell you and it'll give us time to get to know each other. Please, captain. I think you'll be very interested in getting to know me better.”
He paused for effect and let his words sink in.
“Now let’s get on that funky ship and go blast some waves!”, he said, with as much enthusiasm and conviction he could muster.
He felt like a coach, willing the captain to victory on a ball field. But there was much more was at stake. The whole universe was on the line and he wasn’t sure he was convincing enough. He held his breath and waited for and answer.
“Well, we'll definitely know plenty more about each other by the time we get to Mercury, if we can stand each other that long. How certain are you that there will be enough shielding to fire the weapon undetected and still hit the computational center of the Psychedelic Waves (2:07) source?”
“Mostly certain”, Andar said as he stroked his beard.
“I want to be able to get out of this at any point if it's not working out. It's going to be close quarters and like I said, I've been flying alone for a while now.”
“I'll agree to that, but I can tell we'll get along, you'll see”, said Andar, patiently.
He was getting excited and trying not to show it. Maybe he had pulled this off, after all. The captain had never fired a weapon like that, but was aware of the science of it. It was all starting to seem inevitable to Funktion. There might be no way to get out of it, even if it seemed crazy. Our hero wondered about that grin that appeared on Andar’s face again, this time accompanied by a twinkle in his eye. He couldn’t hide his satisfaction much longer and knew that Funktion was not going to turn him down now. He had won. The captain stiffened and was nodding, relieved that looking into the helmet is like looking at ones own reflection.
They both jumped suddenly and turned to look as the boosters on the small ship were fired up for their launch test. Turning back to face each other, the captain decided Andar was right. They were going to need to act as a team if this was all going to work. Andar didn’t need to see Funktion’s face behind the helmet’s shield to know the decision had been made. He started to swiftly make his way toward the little vessel with the captain close behind him. They boarded the spacecraft, took their positions in the cockpit and commenced the take off sequence.
To be continued...