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Fiction: 'The Quantum Quadrant Speed-of-Light Elite Fleet Christmas Party' by Rose Biggin

GSFC_20171206_Archive_e002737_origStocking Stuffer 2014Peace reigned across the cosmos thanks to the bravery and derring-do of the Quantum Quadrant Speed-of-Light Elite Fleet. Beneath the gentle glow of a nearby nebula, a swirling ball of spiralling light bits span around a supernova and sped towards a distant horizon of stars.

‘Oy!’ said Gloria (Elite Fleet Flighter). ‘We agreed: nothing to go near the supernova, yeah?’ And to emphasise her point she shot a laser into the void of space. It made a PEW-PEW noise, because everyone else in the Quantum Quadrant Speed-Of-Light Elite Fleet did the sound effect over their Communic8ion GobPipes. Then they went into a flying-V formation, just because they could.

‘But it’s my turn!’ said Zeke (another Elite Fleet Flighter), in a slightly whiny manner. He’d set off the light-bits bomb to get the Fleet’s attention.

‘No! You forfeit your go because we didn’t get the last one,’ said May-Li (a further Elite Fleet Flighter), who Zeke suspected of making up the rules as she went. 

The last round hadn’t gone well. The Fleet had worked out that it was a six-word film, and the fifth word was sundance, but beyond that they’d been stuck. They did agree that the way Zeke had manipulated space to convey sundance was extraordinary. Indeed, this was the reason a supernova was billowing away in the background a few thousand centuries too early. The EliteFlighterFreighterCruiser had made some warning bleets when it picked up that data.

‘I’ve got a good one,’ said Aliki (Elite Etc.) ‘Ready?’

The Fleet chorused that they were Ready. 

Their mumship, an EliteFlighterFreighterCruiser called Sally, floated nearby like a chaperone while each member of the Fleet piloted a sleek individual QuantumQuadrantCraft. Aliki appeared over the ComScreenz and moved her arm appendages. The Fleet responded in chorus: it’s a book. Aliki nodded and tapped her ship’s delicate plutonium HydroRod onto the Emergency Fusion Canisters. One word. Three syllables. Second syllable.

Aliki wobbled her ship’s wings up and down. Sounds like.

Aliki fired a strictly forbidden Emergency-Only Antimatter Missile. (Nobody minded, because it was Christmas.)

‘Missile!’

Sounds like missile? Gross misconduct trial.’ said Gloria. (Not that THAT sort of thing ever happened to members of the Quantum Quadrant Speed-of-Light Elite Fleet.)

‘Spacetime coordinates calibration dial!’ shouted May-Li, certain that she had it.

Aliki looked smug on the ComScreenz. ‘Waaaait for it…’ 

The Antimatter Missile collided with an asteroid that had been orbiting around not doing any harm. There was an explosion of colour and pieces of rock. 

‘Boom!’ said Zeke.

‘Wahoo!’ said May-Li, firing off some smaller stellargrenades in celebration.

But the Fleet still couldn’t get it.

‘Sounds like explosion?’

‘Sounds like blast? Don’t-fly-so-fast?’ (A subtle dig at the warnings that could issue from the mumship when the Fleet got overexcited.)

Aliki grinned. ‘Want a clue?’ But an urgent sound from Sally buzzed into their HearHoles. 

‘Uh-oh,’ said May-Li.

‘Can’t be good,’ said Zeke. Last time Sally’s supercomputer had communiqued on this frequency they’d been cruising the old Home System and Saturn had burst. 

‘What is it, lasers-for-brains?’ said Aliki, annoyed at having her turn interrupted. 

A message came through.

<foundation scan of asteroid conducted, newly exposed core highly volatile; fatal carbon degeneration, gravity displacement imminent. danger. urgent>

But the Fleet had only listened to the first word before they started doing loop-de-loops in celebration.

‘She’s got it! Sally’s playing too!’ said May-Li.

‘I love that book!’ said Aliki, who’d never actually read it.

‘Totally galactriffic!’ said Gloria.

‘Ohh, second syllable sounds like A,’ muttered Zeke. ‘The chemical symbol for Azzozzoznium, newly-discovered gravity-displacing gas inside asteroids.’ And he conceded: ‘That is quite good, I suppose.’

‘Your go, Sally!’ chorused the rest of the Quantum Quadrant Speed-of-Light Elite Fleet, and they waited for the EliteFlighterFreighterCruiser to think of something. 

A message came through.

<it’s a black hole>

The Fleet groaned. May-Li pulled a series of grotesque faces.

‘Noooo!’ said Zeke. ‘You’re supposed to –’ 

‘Er, team,’ said Aliki. ‘Look there.’ They looked.

And it was a Black Hole. The Fleet had caused it with all this messing about. Oh no!

‘Time to go, Elite Fleet,’ said Gloria, snapping her visor down with needless force so she looked even cooler, and the game of interstellar charades gave way to solving this new problem with speed and efficiency. When the Derring-Do Activity Reports were filed later, wrangling the black hole was described as an act of supreme courage and fortitude in the face of a problem they hadn’t actually caused of course, and they all got medals.

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Rose Biggin writes stories and plays, and once won a poetry slam by accident. She has been published in, amongst other places, Irregularity.

"The Quantum Quadrant Speed-of-Light Elite Fleet Christmas Party" was first published in Jurassic London's Stocking Stuffer 2014. Cover, shown above, by Sarah Anne Langton.