By the time the captain reached the bridge, he was feeling rather queasy. His stomach gurgled as he walked over to his mother’s hologram. She was sitting on a large, ornate chair and scratching Bobo behind her stubby black horns.
“Stand up straight and look me in the eye,” she snapped. “Why haven’t you gotten rid of that planet yet? I have my contractors and my designers and all sorts of people on standby while you are out playing with pirates. I mean really, Tentorp, pull yourself together.”
She sipped a sunset colored liquid from a thin-stemmed glass before continuing.
“You are a disappointment to me, Tenny, I just cannot comprehend why you can’t do this one, tiny little thing for me. Well? What have you to say for yourself?”
By this time, the captain was the color of pea soup.
“Admiral, I will attend to the matter at once,” he stifled a burp, “don’t worry about another thing.”
“See that you do,” the Admiral sniffed, and Tentorp could have sworn that purdle smirked at him just before the hologram ceased projecting. He leaned on the nearest crew member’s head, Kik, for support.
“Captain, are you feeling well?”
Kik, the ship’s navigator, was not at all worried for his irritable captain’s well-being. He was worried the captain might spew chunks on him.
“Set a course for Earth, Kik, and be quick about it.”
The captain toddled over to his seat and fell into it, moaning. The crew worked in silence, every one of them afraid to incur the captain’s literally vomitus wrath.
The sun they had hidden behind was the Earth’s Sun, so they arrived at their destination before the captain had a chance to run to his cabin and lie down.
“Sir, we are holding at a safe distance from the planet’s blast radius. What are your orders?”
The captain peeled himself from his chair, sweat dribbling down his face and back. He stumbled over to Frip’s chair. Frip was nervous, having never pushed the button before, not even once in the battle against the pirates. He had been feeling useless up to this point, and he wished he could go back to that feeling instead of the one he was experiencing: stomach-knotting, pants-wetting dread.
A face appeared on the large screen in the front of the bridge.
A human face.
The words it squeaked were English, a language only a few crew members, including the captain, could speak or understand.
“Hello, I am a representative of the leaders of this planet. We have taken the liberty of first communication. What brings you to our solar system?”
The face was male, with a brownish sort of beard and brownish sort of hair. It was a pale, sweaty face, and the captain was in no mood to listen to it speak.
“Earth man, hear this: I am blowing up your planet. It’s not that I want to, but my mother insists; you know how that is. So I must blow your planet to smithereens.”
The captain wobbled and shivered off the urge to vomit.
“Before I scatter you and your kind to the outer reaches of the universe, I must ask you a very important question: do you have any Roquefort?”
The sweaty faced man had passed out right after the captain had stated his intentions to blow up the planet, and nobody had wanted to replace him, as most of the staff of the top-secret government facility had also passed out or ran away screaming in mortal terror.
Then a soft face with a pointed chin and curly gray hair popped on the screen.
“What’s your name, sir?”
“Captain Tentorp of the S. S. Splinter, human. Do you have any Gouda?”
“Well captain, it’s nice to meet you. I’m Marge. And yes, we have all kinds of cheeses down here. Our Gouda is quite Gouda,” she said, winking.
The captain, although nauseous, could still appreciate a cheese pun.
“That’s a Gouda joke, human, but I still have to blow up your planet. I’d like to take some cheese with me as a memento. Do you have a recommendation?”
The captain’s stomach gurgled.
“I must say I do. Do you see this solar system here,” she pointed at a star chart of a system far, far away from Earth. “This system would be much better for your mother. There are some lovely, warm, uninhabited planets she might like. Then you wouldn’t have to blow us up and we would be more than happy to supply you with a good deal of cheese.”
The captain’s stomach burbled.
“I don’t want to disappoint mother,” he grimaced.
“I understand, captain. As a mother, if my son found out the home I preferred was inhabited with creatures that would most assuredly fight back should I try to exterminate them, I would thank him to find me a new one.”
“Human, did you threaten me?”
“Oh no captain, I wouldn’t dare threaten a nice alien such as yourself,” Marge smiled.
The captain’s stomach rumbled.
“Then I accept your offer, on the condition you render to me 5,000 pounds of cheese,”he blurted, doing his best not to heave.
The captain managed a pained smile.
“Human, I shall send a shuttle down for the cheese to whatever coordinates you provide. End communication.”
“Nice to meet you too, captain,” Marge nodded. Her face disappeared and coordinates popped up in her place.
The captain gripped the back of Frip’s chair and spewed hot, spoiled cheese all over the poor Yamagorn. Frip yelped and tried to stand, but he slipped on the mess and fell back into his seat, tail unfurled. The captain, in trying to catch his balance, stepped on Frip’s tail.
Frip howled and slammed his hands on the panel in front of him.
A whirring, humming sound indicated that the giant laser had begun to warm up.
Frip had pressed the button.