March 2008 Volume Two Issue Three
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm - Bill Wolfe
Commodore Bbbrxx formed a pseudopod and a cranium just so he could scratch it in a show of total puzzlement.
There was a Fim vessel blocking their assault? Fim? This just didn't make any sense!
This planet was ripe for plunder. Its inhabitants were only marginally warlike, and had barely set a tentacle outside their own atmosphere. They were primitive, quarrelsome, brutish and . . . to read the reports from some of the scoutships . . . quite delectable.
The War Council had--at great expense--assembled a mighty armada of their most advanced warships for an invasion of the Groth'Nok Empire, and they needed the six billion tasty inhabitants of this insignificant orb to feed the fleet for the first phase of the incursion.
The meat freezers were empty, waiting.
And now a tiny Fim vessel dared deny them their supplies? He formed another pseudopod and allowed it to idly fiddle with the Massive Overwhelming Attack button as he pondered. It was only one Fim ship, after all. It was barely the size of a maintenance pod.
There are four truisms known throughout the Universe:
You don't exert physical stress on a superior sophont's meaningless clothing accessory.
You don't expectorate counterdirectional to moving air masses.
You don't remove the face shield of an aged solitary law enforcement representative.
And you don't mess around with Fim.
The Fim are the oldest existing species ever. They have outlived the lifespan of their original solar system and rumor has it that the primary in their new solar system is only still functioning because they are too set in their ways to move their society again, so they are using artificial means to keep it going long past its time. They are old . . . cold . . . .humorless, and eminently logical.
The Fim are so far advanced that their technology is akin to magic and their minds so evolved that it takes a planet-sized supercomputer to even formulate the mathematics necessary to ask them a question in their own language. The very few Fim who interact with the rest of the universe, though, carry translators so tiny they look like small jewels.
And the Fim hadn't deigned to take an active political role anywhere in over a billion years of recorded history.
And why? That was the part that made the Commodore want to extrude hairlike pseudopodia just so he could form grasping limbs to tear them out.
The Fim were denying his people their place at this open buffet table because they thought the inhabitants were funny? Because this planet had produced a comic genius the likes of which the Fim had never encountered and who had written a single joke that had made the Fim . . . could the translation be correct? . . . that had made the Fim, giggle?
The Commodore resorbed his pseudopod and carefully moved it back from the Massive Overwhelming Attack button. The War Council would back his decision, he was sure of it. They had to . . . these were the Fim!
The fleet would turn protruding prehensile vertebral appendage and retreat. And all because of one comedian with an unpronounceable name and a single joke.
When the Fim had told him the joke, he couldn't believe it. Though he tried, he could see no humor in it. But the Fim on the other end of the transmission had -- quite literally -- collapsed in unceasing gales of heaving laughter before He/She/It could even finish it. He/She/It had to send the punch line by text only.
- END -