“Is that a power generation device?” Folie said as he indicated the heavy-looking equipment that stood in the second alcove beside the toilet.
“No, no,” Donny replied, “that all happens behind shielding and stuff. That is a Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”
For a moment silence reigned. Then Tojo spoke: “Want know what is?”
“Please.” Both youngsters replied.
Donny rubbed his hands together – at least mentally: as far as he was concerned, this was the best bit of the tour. He said: “The idea came from something in the ship’s log. Its previous owners – Beaufort and Richter Skail – were trapped by the gravity of a Galactic Lens.”
Folie and Placebo cast their minds back to the video they had discovered in the depths of space. It mentioned the Galactic Lens…
“Got it.” They said together.
“And do you recall how the ship escaped the Galactic Lens?” Donny inquired.
Both Folie and Placebo screwed up their faces in thought; and it wasn’t a disfiguring effort in vain: “Yeah.” Placebo blurted. “They used the ship’s tractor beam to latch on to a distant planet, and pulled themselves up it.”
“It took months to escape.” Folie added. “And when they got back home they were too late: their eco-system had been destroyed.”
“A very sad tale.” Donny said as his face went all gum and despondent. But then it lightened once more: “Well our engineers have improved on the tractor beam: we’ve made the Gravitonic Multiplicitor.”
The boys had to think about that for a minute. In doing so they absentmindedly turned in the direction of a second door…
“So it’s really a super-massive tractor beam.” Placebo concluded.
“To do with what you want.” Donny said with a smile. “And, right now, you might have no idea what that will be: but one day, in the future, you’ll be very glad you have a Gravitonic Multiplicitor. And when you finally get to use it – tell us how it went: we’d love to know. Now I see you’ve noticed that other door. Shall we?”
With that he invited them to join him…
“You gonna like it.” Tojo stated adamantly. “A lot.”
But Tojo’s verbal utterance was the understatement of the year…
“By the Saint of All Earplugs,” Folie yelped as they entered the second compartment, “I’ve died and gone to Silicon Valley!
“It’s…it’s…it’s,” Placebo stammered…
…”a proper bridge!”
With that the two Earthlings ran around the compartment excitedly – jabbering so quickly to one another that Donny, despite his perfect command of Earplug, couldn’t follow.
“Slow down.” He cried. “Slow down. Those buttons on the control panels actually do something. Don’t go pressing them willy-nilly: you might empty the lavatory, fire a neutron torpedo, or something!”
Neither Placebo nor Folie were really listening – either to each other or Donny Woolbadger. But eventually, when exhaustion – both mental and physical – set in, they slowed to a halt.
“Neutron torpedo?” Folie inquired…
Donny explained that, following an intense reverse engineering of the Gravity Whelk’s remaining two proton torpedoes, Scroton engineers thought they could go one better. Why base your weaponry upon feeble little protons, they considered, when you could introduce the much butcher and generally heftier neutrons? The result, neutron torpedoes: altogether a much more potent form of defence.
“No one kick sand in eyes now.” Tojo remarked.
But this information worried Folie…
“Oh, Placebo, what are we going to do? With great power comes great responsibility. Are we up to controlling something as devastating as a neutron torpedo? Or a whole bay of them in the bowels of the ship – just waiting to be unleashed! Will it drive us to the edge of madness? Do we have the necessary credentials in the wisdom department? I have my doubts.”
© Paul Trevor Nolan 2021