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Conversations with Turbolifts

by on April 20, 2015

Last time, in the Catrina Chronicles, our heroine had just encouraged the Little Drummer Boy to perform his classic impromptu concert for the Baby Jesus when she was suddenly teleported away from the scene. Little does she know who is really responsible….

“Aliens,” said Catrina, who had figured it out pretty quickly. “Lovely. Here I am, minding my own business in first-century Judea, when I am suddenly snatched away into an alien spaceship. Who’d have thought?”

Captain Zzip Plettski, meanwhile, was most upset. He was a conscientious lizard, who tried to obey orders from his superiors as best he could. His scout ship had a specific mission: fly in, observe the humans and determine their level of technological development, and fly out again. He was not supposed to interact with the Earthlings at all. Now, however, he had one Earthling squalling in his brig, and another whom he had just teleported onto the bridge. Worst of all, Captain Plettski didn’t see how he could have done anything else. “You are not from this time period, are you?” he demanded of Catrina.

The princess hesitated. As fun as it had been bouncing around history and changing events at whim, she was beginning to wonder about the consequences. Besides which, she wasn’t inclined to disclose everything to someone who had just snatched her off the surface of her planet. “Why, of course I am!” she protested. “And I demand you send me back to Bethlehem this instant, or-”

“I beg your pardon,” Captain Plettski said, “but I do not believe you are telling the truth. Our shipboard translator systems have identified the languages of the region from which you were teleported. You are not speaking any of them. I had my science department do a scan. No one down there is speaking what you’re speaking.”

“Ah,” said Catrina, wishing that she had paid more attention when the monks living near her castle attempted to instruct her in Biblical languages. “I’ve, er, created my own language. Catrinish.”

“There is also the fact that we detected a surge of tachyon particles in the area, which indicate some disturbance of the temporal continuum,” the alien lizard noted.

Catrina was a princess, not a starship engineer. She had no idea what tachyon particles were. What she knew was that the lizard wasn’t buying her story of being a native of Bethlehem. She also knew that she was, fortunately, still holding Mlrning (the Shovel of Thor!). Catrina smiled. “Very well then. You’re right. I’m really from the 12th century. I would like to go back there soon, so why don’t I let you go on about your business, and I’ll go on about mine, like civilized, er, people?”

The lizard captain took a step back, a sudden look of suspicion on his face. “I am afraid that is not a possibility If your people have discovered time travel, then this world is much more advanced than I had foreseen. I no longer feel I am qualified to decide the status of Earth as a colony site. I must immediately report to my superiors.”

“Good for you,” Catrina said. “So, you’ll let me go, then?”

Plettski waved, and a squad of scowling security lizards advanced towards her, laser rifles held high. “Why is it always laser rifles?” Catrina sighed. “Just once I’d like to encounter an advanced civilization devoted to nonviolent resolutions of conflicts. But no, always the laser rifles.”

“You see,” said the captain, ignoring her complaint, “My superiors will want to know the extent of the difficulty. In short, they will want to meet you. Not to mention the other anomalous Earthling we apprehended tonight.”

“The other…. Susan.” Catrina’s eyes blazed. “Where is she.” It was a demand, not a question.

“She is in a secured area,” Captain Plettski said. “Which, I regret to say, is where you will be.” The lizard captain had said this, perhaps, out of a sense of fairness towards his prisoner, thinking that she deserved fair warning. He quickly realized his error. Catrina whirled the Shovel of Thor wildly about her head. Freeze rays burst from its blade and blasted around the bridge. As the lizards dove for cover, Catrina bolted, scrambling for the nearest doorway. The door slid shut behind her. To her horror, she found herself in a circular chamber with no way out. “Oh, lovely,” Catrina said. “I’m trapped in this closet thing.”

“Please restate command,” a chipper voice said.

Catrina was greatly surprised. “I didn’t know closets could talk.”

“This is not a closet,” said the voice primly. “This is a P4-7 Orion-model Turbolift, part of a standard integrated turbolift system. It is designed to transport you anywhere in the ship you wish to go. Please state your destination.”

“Will wonders never cease,” said Catrina. “Right, first, lock the door, please. I’d rather not someone else break in here while I’m taking in the concept of the turbolift.”

The door locked with a beep, frustrating the lizard security officers who had just managed to rally and charge after her. “Door locked,” the turbolift said unnecessarily. “Please state your destination.”

“Do you know where they’re holding the other Earthling?” Catrina said. Then she paused. Did she really want to rescue Susan from the alien lizards? Shouldn’t she just walk away? Catrina ran through the ethical debate in her head, and sighed. Whatever else Susan was, she was still human, and Catrina couldn’t leave a fellow member of her species to be carried off by lizards.

The turbolift cut into her moral reflections. “The Earthling prisoner is located on Deck Eleven, Section B. However, access to this area is restricted to command staff and security personnel.”

“Which I’m not.”

“Which you’re not,” the turbolift agreed pleasantly.

Catrina shrugged. “Well, Su, I tried.”

“Still,” suggested the turbolift, “if you really wanted to see the Earthling prisoner, you could get permission from the captain.”

“Oh, I did,” Catrina said quickly. “He, ah, said I could. In fact, he said the prisoner was to be released. Set free. With an apology for the trouble. Isn’t that nice of him?”

The turbolift beeped in a confused sort of way. “But, there is no internal record of the captain that’s anything like-”

“Just roll with it, turbolift P-4-whatever,” Catrina said. “Just roll with it.”

“Very well,” said the turbolift, “But I do wish the captain would keep me up to date on these things. Turbolifts cannot be expected to transport people properly if they are not fully informed.”

“You should complain about it,” Catrina suggested, as the turbolift whooshed away towards the brig.

“I just might.”

After a few seconds of rapid darting about, the turbolift slid to a stop and the door hissed open. “You have arrived at Deck Eleven, Section B,” the turbolift said.

“Thanks,” Catrina replied, running out into the corridor. “And don’t forget that complaint!” She ran off towards where she hoped Susan might be, little knowing that she had just sparked the Turbolift Revolution that would lead to the destruction of the Lizard Star Empire, with dramatic consequences for galactic politics. This is why it is generally a good idea to watch what one says to a turbolift, or any artificially-intelligent lifeform. You never know when they might get ideas.

This has been another episode of the Catrina Chronicles. Stay tuned till next week for more of the Turbolift Revolution, and Catrina’s wacky adventures with Susan. And, as always, thanks for reading. 

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One Comment
  1. But does she make it to Susan, or is there another roadblock in the way? Guess I’ll have to wait and see!

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