“I don’t believe you, Chuck Marley.” Gaston giggled.
“I don’t care. But that’s what happened.” Marley did care.
They watched the hologram of the V13 thruster as it settled next to the Fooolzian Trawler outside Doookie’s Spare Space Parts.
The only way for Marley to convince Gaston was to deliberately exaggerate: “I saved the CEO of Kibbles Industries, wielding only an electric bread knife and chromium boxer-shorts.”
“That I believe,” said Gaston.
The addition of the V13 would be far from aesthetic. Bulkier than the V3, the V13 was red and white as opposed to green and blue. The cockpit was too high, sticking out into space like a sore thumb in a doorjamb. They would be totally exposed in a dogfight. But like in the movies, in case of dogfight, divert power from engines (and washing machine) to cockpit shields.
Compared to the original plan – designing a spacecraft after Da Vinci – well, the Renaissance master’s add-ons couldn’t be added just yet. The spacecraft didn’t have underwater capabilities, there were no ejector pods and it lacked long-range radar. And parachutes (for tumbling into orbit). And diving apparatus (for underwater discovery). And massive doom weapon (MDW). These mercenary add-ons would have to wait.
As would a CV player.
A few flight tests, administration, paperwork…that was all that remained before they became peas in a pod exploring the starry expanse. To Marley, the project was practically complete. He purchased a fine bottle of Falernian wine from Garibaldi. He frequented the Quasar Bar so often that Garibaldi gave him a 2% discount.
Marley clinked glasses with Dimble. “We should think of a name for the ship.”
“They say rechristening a spaceship brings bad luck.”
“It happens all the time. Every craft becomes second hand eventually. And what if you don’t like the name? What if it was originally called BoatyMcBoatface|?
“I like that.” Gaston paused.” What about naming it after a historical figure? Like the Newton, or the Vladimir, or how about the Macron?”
“They’re historical references, Chuck. They’ll give the craft mystique, gravitas…”
Marley expostulated. “Gravity? We don’t want gravity. We’re going to the stars, not hanging around here…”
“Gravitas,” Gaston interjected, “means dignity, noble bearing. In fact, Gravitas would be a good name for the ship.”
“Don’t spoon-feed me history. Besides, the Earthlings are as full of history as a stuffed giblet, and we don’t want to associate ourselves with them. This craft is not meant to be old. It’s meant to be bold. Not like those silly craft driven by the Jovian playboys.”
Secretly, he couldn’t wait to get his hands on a Jovian Sports Coupe. Imagine turning up to Playdoze in one of those.
Zorgeous, who’d been snoozing in Marley’s comfy chair, suggested a few names in his own language, which involved assuming various poses. He even gave Marley some skin for inspiration.
Marley tried to hide his disgust. “The space craft is indescribable.”
“What about The Indescribable?” said Gaston.
“Gaston, you’re as original as Soricidae art.”
“But Soricidae art is highly original.”
“This won’t do.” Marley walked briskly back and forth, jumped up and down. He spun around, almost falling over. “Yes”, he recovered himself, “I thought it before…We’ll call it…what’s that famous painting by the inventor whose manuscript we have in our …”
Gaston whispered as if he was committing sacrilege, “The Mona Lisa?”
“We certainly can’t call it that. Too feminine.”
“The painting was also known as La Giaconda.”
Marley narrowed his eyes. “La Giaconda, Boconda, conda conda. How about .. The Anaconda?”
Gaston brightened. It wasn’t exactly what he suggested, but he could not deny it had a good ring. He nodded.
“The Anaconda! My dear Gaston, it stands for cool, cool and ice pack.”
“Sounds like a famous rapper from music’s golden era.”
“Then we’ll definitely need a CV player.”
“I’ve already signed us up to GooTunes.”
“Goo-Tunes? Why I haven’t I heard of this?”
The doorbell to Marley’s apartment emitted its soothing forest melody.
“Even I’ve heard of GooTunes.” Gaston looked proud for a change.
Marley’s apartment door swooshed and in slid Insomniac Fluton, hiding a yawn. “GooTunes. Meh. I’m integrating a facial analyser into FaceMash. Based on how you look at the time – it’ll suggest a playlist: to bolster, or bring down, your mood.”
Fluton scanned Gaston. Triumphant trumpet music emanated from the flablet. “Today it shows you’re feeling on top of the world, Professor.”
“1812 Overture,” said Gaston. “Quite fitting. The ship is almost ready.”
“And what music does it play for you Fluton?” Marley raised an eyebrow.
“Ballads, lullabies, ambient music of fountains and waterfalls.”
“Because you need more sleep.”
“Just because my name’s Insomniac doesn’t mean I’m always tired.” Fluton suppressed a yawn. “However, I often am. That’s just a coincidence. My mother called me Insomniac because she hoped I’d have an insatiable drive to work and succeed.”
“Success is just around the corner.”
“Thank you, Professor. So, when are you heading up…for departure into the deep unknown?”
“We’ll be there in less than a week. As soon as all pre-departure tests are…”
The door to Marley’s condo sounded again.
“You need to change your doorbell,” said Fluton. “It’s putting me to” [he yawned] “sleep.” He pulled up a chair and began tinkering with FaceMash.
Marley could see through the monitor that it was Zeen, who bent forward as if he was being stared at.
“Come in my good friend.”
Zeen strode with his usual confident gait.
Insomniac Fluton of course couldn’t resist immediately testing his add-on to FaceMash. After scanning Zeen, the app played ominous music with deep trombones.
“The soundtrack to your life,” Marley smiled.
“Music to reflect your mood,” said Dimble.
“Or to change it,” added Fluton. “This doesn’t show you’re evil, but bold. Embrace the darkness, hahaha.”
“So Zeen. How have you been travelling lately? Your sister’s spacecraft still in good knick?”
Zeen winced at the mention of his sister. “It’s mine now. She gave it to me. I mean, I bought it off her. You know, I basically agreed to be her chauffeur whenever she comes to Crete.”
“That’s what brothers are for,” said Dimble.
“I’m not sure I want to be that type of brother. Younger brother,” emphasised Zeen.
“I wish I had a brother. Or a sister,” said Marley.
“Maybe you do,” said Fluton. “In fact, FaceMash will soon have a ‘legitimacy’ add-on.”
“What?” said Zeen.
“Through a mere scan, it will match your features with everyone in the database in order to determine if you have possible unknown brothers or sisters.”
“Families are going to love this,” said Marley.
“If a possible match is found, you can request your match’s genetic fingerprint.”
“I’ll be your first volunteer.” Marley grabbed Fluton’s flablet and pretended to scan himself.
“It hasn’t been installed yet,” said Fluton. “It’s not even at prototype stage.”
“Do you also give me consent to harvest your organs?”
“No,” said Marley.
“Look at this.” Zeen pointed to the projection of the Fooolzian Trawler alongside the rocket engine. Robotic arms welded the booster into place.
“This is actually Professor Moszkowski’s. In fact, he purchased it the very day you took us to the Eye.”
“Speaking of Professor Milton Moszkowski,” said Zeen. “I have a surprise for you. Open the door.”
Marley pressed the release button. And there was Moszkowski, smiling at the entranceway.
“Sorry to keep you waiting so long,” said Zeen.