01 March 2013
A MIDDLE PORTION OF THE STAR-SAILOR'S TALE
By Curtis C. Chen
The sailor refused to answer questions about why he had journeyed into prohibited space, but the Brigadier could prove no wrongdoing more severe than trespassing on the sailor's part. After the prescribed holding period had expired, the peacekeepers released the sailor onto a small merchant moon in the Western Spiral Arm. Once again penniless and friendless, that is where the sailor met the gene-seeker.
Indeed, these are the fables you surely heard as a child, or saw played out in countless popular holodramas: the adventures of the star-sailor and the gene-seeker, traveling the known galaxy and beyond in search of adventure! But those swashbuckling tales are not the whole story, of course.
The sailor was not so carefree and inquisitive when he first encountered the gene-seeker. In fact, the sailor was quite single-minded in the pursuit of his sworn enemies, the pirates of the near-core systems. His first meeting with the gene-seeker was a clash over which of them would hire a particular starship out of lunar orbit.
"Your dead science can wait," the sailor said to the gene-seeker. "I have more pressing engagements. And none will stand in my way."
"Oh, you intend to hunt down your former captors all by yourself, do you?" the gene-seeker replied. "Be realistic, my friend. The peacekeepers devastated that pirate fleet when rescuing you; the surviving raiders have surely scattered to distant stars by now. It would take years to track them all down."
"I have nothing but time," the sailor said.
"Allow me to propose another situation," the gene-seeker said. "You have, I understand, been sequestered for some time, and may lack knowledge of certain current events. I offer my services as information broker, negotiator, and guide. I mean no offense, but it seems clear that you are not, at this time, well suited to the task of establishing and maintaining interpersonal relationships."
"And what do you want in return for these services?" the sailor asked.
"Let us travel together," the gene-seeker said. "We shall begin the long and difficult task of locating your enemies, and along the way, explore the various worlds we encounter and inspect any life-forms of interest. My research is not constrained; I have no predetermined path. As long as there is biological data to collect, my analysis can proceed. You will be free to direct our travels."
"Fine," the sailor said. "Just stay out of my way."
"Of course, my friend," the gene-seeker said. "We shall journey side by side."
And so they did, for nigh on a century. I will not repeat those tales here, for they are numerous, and you have surely heard the most engaging of the lot many times before. Suffice to say that the star-sailor and the gene-seeker became great friends, boon companions through all manner of hardship and mystery, inseparable except by death at the end.
And so it was, when the gene-seeker passed on, that the next part of the sailor's story began.
Photo Credit: saroy via Compfight cc