Prompt: A wise-cracking super silly young genius space pilot wants to become captain of his fleet.
Max Intinny struggled to keep his eyes open, even with a gulf of stars before him. He hadn’t trained to look at stars, but to fly by them on the edge of human bravery and ingenuity. Right now his vessel, the Bonbon, coasted through the darkness and the purple nebula vapors lazily.
There was a predicted encounter, he was supposed to spearhead an assault against the four-headed aliens of Hydrockus, but there was still plenty of time to kill before they reached the rendezvous. He sighed, drawing the annoyed stares of his orange-skinned navigator and his trilobite-headed communications officer. They couldn’t say much though. It was Max’s bridge to command. The word was, if the battle went well, he might even be promoted to admiral of his own fleet.
Max looked over at his girlfriend, who happened to be the chief engineer. She absent-mindedly played a game on her console, not even noticing his stare. She was a fascinating human-offshoot organism, with skin somewhere between fresh snow and glistening sugar. Her eyes sparkled like diamonds, and whenever her lips smacked together it sounded like an ice pick. Her name was Basasha, a rather foreign name on Max’s tongue, so he usually just called her Sugar.
In failing to draw her attention, he eventually turned back to his own console to stave off boredom. He never had the lack of stimulus that characterized an Earth childhood, never had grass to lounge in or clouds to take shade under, so boredom was proving his arch nemesis. Back in the training programs of his youth, with the enhanced food and vitamins provided by his academy, Max’s hands had become faster and more skilled than those of even the most dedicated concert pianists. His right could play a masterpiece on the ivory keys while his left expertly kneaded dough for the most sensitive pastries in French cuisine.
As such, his nimble fingers had already mastered every game on his console. All he had to occupy them was a cylinder of colorful gumballs on his armrest. He needed the sugar to keep up his enhanced metabolism; at least that was the excuse he gave when any of his superiors tried to tell him it was unprofessional to keep candy at his side during military ventures.
He poured them out on the console, letting them scatter, using his hands to grab any rogues and push them back. It was an alright game. He counted his hits as points, and would’ve continued until one rolled off the edge or until they arrived at their Hydrockus appointment. He made it all the way to three hundred and fifty-two hits before a nasty bump interrupted him. Gumballs popped up into the air.
“Mild turbulence,” the navigator announced. “Just some mineral debris on the hull. We should be fine.” While he spoke, Max was catching gumballs on their way back down. There wasn’t time for all of them. The turbulence popped a panel open next to his armrest. Three gumballs, one dragonfruit, one green apple, and one plum, dropped down into the opening. Max stared and listened in horror as they ricocheted their way down to a lower deck.
His head whipped around. Nobody was looking. None of the others had seen him drop his candy. That was good. This was trouble though. There were five higher-ranked individuals aboard the Bonbon, all of whom could put in one negative word and have him demoted back to deck-scrubber. If any of them so much as saw a loose gumball in the works, they would know it was his irresponsibility that put it there.
“IIIII…. have to use the little captain’s room,” Max announced. Basasha turned to him, furrowing her brow.
“Well, don’t be long. We’ll be at the rendezvous in less than ten minutes. You need to be in your command chair.”
“I’m just making sure I don’t soil the command chair!” he shot back. The young captain put an awkward rigidity into his walk to imply digestive issues, then hurried out of the bridge. His mind raced. There was candy in his ship, and he needed it in his pocket before the ten minutes were up. Where would they roll?
Blueprints flew by his mind. He remembered communication pathways, coolant pipes, access panels… The most likely place was an engineering access panel three decks down. Surely they had settled there, harmlessly, next to wires with protective coating. They probably weren’t meant to protect against high fructose corn syrup, but could likely handle it.
Max tried to look like a dignified captain as he hurried through the vibrant corridors of his ship. Everyone he passed looked happy enough. He was a good captain, even if he wasn’t the most mature. He let his crew paint their own living quarters, do murals in the halls, and vote on the cafeteria menu. It was a fun place to serve, but once those gumballs vanished he realized that fun could never be allowed to enter the ship itself. That spelled his doom.
A female crewmember, a nine-legged Vorninnian, strolled by. Max whistled, standing in front of the panel, and sighed once she was out of sight. If it wasn’t for those seven extra legs it might have taken her a lot longer. He practically ripped the panel off. Green apple! He snatched it. Dagonfruit! Gone into his pocket. Plum? It wasn’t there! One gumball was unaccounted for. Where was that dessert deserter?
He searched his mind again. If the turbulence had popped one panel open, there were likely others. The best candidates on the gumball’s fall path would be the ones over… the laboratories! Max slapped the panel back on and ran for it. Still time. Still three minutes before the rendezvous. He rounded a corner, put his hand on the lab door, and experienced a moment of frozen terror. Admiral Haux was at the end of the hall, heading towards him. Nothing escaped that alien’s giant owl-like eyes. She immediately spotted Max and turned towards him. She threw up a feathered hand.
Max pretended not to notice and slipped inside the lab. The doctors and assistants were all on their lunch break, flirting with each other over the griddle as the robot chef flipped tortillas, while their captain snooped around their work.
“Plum? Where are you?” he hissed, shuffling things around on one of the tables. “Is this because your my least favorite flavor? I promise the jar will be all purple all the time if you just show yourself. I’ll hire more purple aliens for the bridge!” His hands ran into a metal base and crawled up it. It held a wide glass beaker, full of some thick green gel. The plum gumball sat perfectly in the middle of the gel, barely bending its surface. Max looked up and saw the crack in the ceiling where it had fallen. He plunged his hands into the beaker, scooping the ball out along with some of its contents. The door clicked. With no time left to think, Max shoved the gumball in his mouth and started to chew. His hands were still coated in the green slime when Admiral Haux appeared, so he pushed them back into the beaker.
“Captain Intinny? What are you doing down here?” the admiral asked with her throaty trill of a voice.
“I was just doing some… stirring, while the doctors were on break. They’ve got an experiment going and it needed to be swirled every so often.” The words barely made it around the wad of gum in his mouth. His tongue tingled. The green stuff had a very odd taste, like acid that frolicked rather than burned.
“It seems you’re as devoted to your crew as they say,” she noted. Her species’ facial disk didn’t allow her eyes to narrow in suspicion, but Max sensed it in her voice anyway.
“Oh yes, I’m admirably hands-on,” he declared, swirling his hands in the mysterious slime. “But, this has been stirred. My extremely thorough work is done, and now I’m needed on the bridge. Excuse me admiral.” Max bowed slightly and rushed out of the lab, trying to rub the slime off inside his pockets.
“Spit that gum out captain,” she called after him. “It makes you look unprofessional.” Max chose not to spit it out. He didn’t have time to make it back to the bridge, not with his normal sprinting speed. Less than a minute now. The acid frolicking in his mouth moved to his muscles, sped him up. Max chewed harder and faster, increasing his run speed all the while. Whatever they were working in the lab, it sure was potent.
His mind moved at a mile a minute. It was a sugar rush, but accelerated beyond the boundaries of the human body. He felt great, so good he could launch himself out of a torpedo tube and defeat the Hydrockus with his bare fists. What luck! He threw himself back into the captain’s chair just as the enemy ships started to appear from the thickest parts of the nebula vapor.
“You made it!” Basasha said, relieved.
“Of course.” He chewed twice more. He had a feeling this sugar rush was permanent. He rolled one of the other gumballs around in his hand, feeling every minute imperfection on its surface. Oh, he would be admiral: the admiral with the fastest brain in existence. He turned to his chief engineer.
“Take us to light speed, Sugar!”
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by Mmaakk32 during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!