Friday, March 18, 2011

Space Pirate Maggie: Episode 1, Too Much Booty, submission by Andrew

Android’s Log: Star date, I haven’t been keeping track:
Space is boring; really, really, really, really, really, really boring. I mean, at first it’s kinda cool. You rocket up through the fiery atmosphere. Then you say, “look at the stars,” and “oh, there’s Jupiter,” and “oh, hey! It’s Saturn’s ring!” But after a while you come to realize it’s an eternity of emptiness. Oh sure, there are a few stars freckling the firmament, but after long enough, even they seem to merge with the nothing.
It was a cruel twist of fate which brought me here. Long ago I was a man. I do not remember it well, but I imagine it ended with sorrowful tragedy, thousands attending my funeral, widows throwing themselves on my coffin. But it seems someone decided to stick my head in a cryogenic freezer, hoping I would one day be thawed back to life. I must have slept for ages in the cold near death. I do not know what I anticipated, whether I thought I would ever wake. But then, in the hidden time between death and revival, Maggie found me and placed my mind in a spaceship. Now they call me “Android.”
I know, once upon a time, I went for walks, chatted over cups of coffee, and felt the embrace of warm hugs. Now it’s just me, the stars, and blackness. Sometimes I connect the dots... I make my own constellations, like the farmer with giant overalls, the five legged goose, or the giant squiggle (I’ve made that one a lot).
Anyways, to relieve some of the tedium of my very boring existence, I have decided to keep a record of the exploits of my master, the space pirate Maggie. It all began... well... I don’t remember when it began (I was just a frozen head). But it all began when the company Google decided to conduct a participatory, bottom-up, envisioning/mission development/strategic planning process. In this process, Google staff decided to revisit the motto to “do no evil.” After much discussion, they realized that doing “no” evil made it really hard to make money. A committee was convened to discuss the matter. Passionate debate ensued, ending with the decision to take out the word “no” and replace it with “only.”
The public was enraged to find the headlines the next morning reading “Google managers embark on puppy kicking retreat.” This would have spelled disaster for the company were it not for the fact that they soon unleashed a revolutionary new product. The newly appointed Google CEO, Wasp Oppressor unveiled the Intergalactic Search Engine -otherwise known as the thingie which makes spaceships fly.
Although people were generally, for the most part, not ok with Google’s commitment to evil, flying in space seemed really cool and Google had the patent. Wasp Oppressor promised to let people ride in spaceships so long as they signed a binding document declaring him the Cosmic Overlord. Enough people signed it (although there were allegations of election fraud), space travel was born, and the evil Wasp Oppressor became the ruler of the universe.
An interesting side note, the contract declaring Mr. Oppressor the Cosmic Overlord was disputed in a long legal battle. It went to the Supreme Court, where the court argued that Mr. Oppressor was acting as a CEO, and so represented not his own interests but the interests of Google corporation. And corporations, as oppressed second class beings whose very personhood is protested, require overlord status for themselves and their representatives in order to have their minority voices heard.
Anyways, long story short, the universe is ruled by an evil corporation. In response to this, Maggie got together with a bunch of friends and said “hey, why don’t we be like Robin Hood?” Then she found my cryogenically frozen head, and now I waste my life away staring at the stars.
The thing about space is it’s easy to get lost in. Suppose you were looking for someone, and the only clue to finding him was that he was somewhere on Earth. In all possible locations on Earth, it is hard to narrow down the exact spot of a single individual. But space is a lot bigger. So how hard must it be to find a single ship amidst the emptiness?
There is anonymity in space. Since the invention of the Intergalactic Search Engine, space has become a place for nefarious and disturbing acts that shock the conscience, which no one at home may know about -much like Vegas or the internet. In space no one can hear you scream, which means it is the perfect place for piracy.
The anonymity of space is Captain Maggie’s greatest weapon. She waits near the galactic shipping routes. She stays close enough to monitor the ships passing by, but far enough that no one would notice her unless they were looking for her. The ship’s crew watches and waits. Caravans of large freighters roam by, sometimes protected by dangerous fighter ships. Maggie waits for the low hanging fruit.
It takes patience. Space piracy is not always exciting. But then the moment of truth is realized as occasionally, along the intergalactic shipping lanes, there is a lone freighter. At that moment an alarm sounds, and the crew prepares. We glide behind the freighter before they can see us. Then, with sudden brutal violence, we blast away, targeting the engine, so that the ship will stay still, vulnerable to our plunder.
Maggie hails the target after it is helpless. The picture comes on; a terrified face stares from the other side. Maggie commands “this is the space pirate Maggie! We come to steal from the rich and give to ourselves! Open your cargo hold and we might show you some mercy.” The captain of the freighter can see, in the background, the villainous sneers of Maggie’s crew.
Usually the freight captain obliges and does not interfere as we plunder his hold. Usually the captain becomes thankful for anti-piracy insurance, and does not feel he is carrying a cargo worth risking his life. Sometimes the captain refuses to let us into the cargo hold. That makes Maggie very perturbed as it is a messy process to force our way in, which frequently involves letting a few people and too many goods float into the ether. But it is a basic principle of space piracy. If no one lets you in, you can’t just let them be.
After the exhilarating act, the key is to move on. Once you vandalize a ship, people who can kill you start looking into the darkness. So then we travel, looking for the next place to hover like a vulture.
“Do you ever stop?” Maggie asks me, while looking up as if I am above her (in reality I am all around).
I can think of nothing to say.
Maggie continues, “I mean all day long it’s ‘look at me, I’m such a sad robot. Nobody understands me. My peculiar condition fills me with existential angst. I’m soooo bored...’ Man, if I knew you’d be this emo I wouldn’t have brought you back from the dead. You’re welcome, by the way.”
I respond “I’m not a robot.”
“Whatever, that’s not the point. The point is you should be happy! We just made a big score. See you like my new outfit?” Maggie flourishes her new coat, a garish display of red and orange.
“I’m a brain hooked up to a spaceship, what need do I have of clothes? Or of anything material... other than a bigger gun maybe.”
“Well, then” Maggie smiles “we’ll just have to find you one.”
Just then the door to our cargo hold opens. First Matie Elizabeth walks through. “Mags, we’ve finished going through our most recent plunder, and I’ve just got to warn you...”
Maggie tilts her head in mild authoritative irritation “What?”
“Perhaps you should see for yourself.” First Matie Elizabeth motions for Maggie to follow her.
As they step into the cargo hold, Maggie’s eyes bulge.
She sees one of the crew, Delilah, sitting on a pile of treasure. There are refrigerated crates of food, boxes of unassembled furnishings, pieces of precious metals, an assorted collection of sculptures, jewelry which dangles from the heap, and piles upon piles of colorful clothes. “It’s uhh... a lot of stuff” Delilah says. “You uhh know this has been building up for some time.”
All around the crew lounges. Charlie, the lone male on this team shrugs, “It’s the price of successful robbery, you get more stuff than you know what to do with.”
“Well... we can’t have all this here! We have no more room!” Maggie moans.
I see only one solution to this problem, and announce it over my loudspeakers “uhh... I know this may not be a popular idea but... maybe... just hear me out... maybe, we can give some of this to people who might need it...”
“Oh, Android” Maggie says. “We rob from the rich and give to ourselves. I’ve said this line to dozens of victims. I’ve even printed out T-shirts! Do you want to make me a T-shirt liar? We have a rep to maintain!”
“We could just throw it away...” Charlie pipes in.
“And what, litter up space and waste the universe’s precious resources? That is not thinking sustainably” Emma, the final crewmember, says.
“There’s only one solution” Maggie nods her head “we need a bigger ship!”
I groan, thinking that my suggestion was both ethical and the only feasible long term approach. I become irritated at not feeling heard by the authority over me.
Just then Maggie smiles, “cheer up, Android...” Then she says in a singsong voice “we can get you a bigger gun.”
For the moment I am pacified. Like a boy on Christmas, I start dreaming of new destructive power.

To Be Continued in Episode 2: A Mysterious Koala

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