This week’s challenge was to go to the TV Tropes website and hit the “random” button. I did this, and got “Landfill Beyond the Stars”, where planets get used as interstellar landfills. In response, I give you:
“Back it up, Throk, back it up! By Grog’s Mighty Hammer, do you even know how to drive? Do I have to do everything? Back it up!! BACK IT UP!”
Throk gently tapped the gas, and edged the StarDumper back until it just touched the edge of the dump zone around the planet below. He was aiming for a fine line – too close and gravity would pull the ship down, while too far meant the garbage would spin through space. If that happened there would be sharznit to pay.
Bork continued to jump about and wave his appendages. He was very distracting; his tentacles kept brushing against Throk’s face. Throk brushed Bork off and touched the pedal again.
“There!” He leaned back with satisfaction. The beep-beep-beep of the StarDumper backing up had been replaced with a steady roar, as the ship found its sweet spot and began the Dump.
Throk spun his chair around and looked at Bork. Bork was now panting and staring out the viewport. “You’re getting drool on the glass, Bork. You need to calm down. You almost ruined the Dump! What’s wrong with you anyway?”
Bork laughed and rubbed his tentacles together. “Nothing, it’s all good! Good Dump, Throk. Best Dump ever!” Bork did a little happy dance. It involved even more waving of tentacles. Throk stepped around him carefully and went and looked through the viewport himself. The garbage looked like it always did. It was a vast black mass, barely visible against the permanent night of space. From this view it showed up mainly as an absence of light.
The two Interstellar Garbage Men had made many Dumping runs to uninhabited planets before, but this was the first time they had worked together. When Throk had gotten the assignment, he had looked up a driver who had flown with Bork before.
Each StarDumper was manned by two people, a loader who tended the garbage, and the driver. They would be spending a lot of time together, and it could get stressful. Sometimes there were conflicts, and sometimes there were accidents. The loaders sometimes saw themselves as artists, making trash sculptures that would disintegrate when they hit the ground. To Throk it made no sense at all. He just hoped Bork was not going to be difficult.
“Bork? Bork’s a good guy. Little excitable maybe. Not many of his species left, after the Zooma incident back in ’08.” Both men had an awkward half-moment of silence. It would have been a full moment, but their food was getting cold, and hey, you can’t change the past, so you might as well have a sandwich and move on.
They were sitting in one of the Interstellar Garbage Union’s bars. Working in the IGU was a good place to be. Racing through space was dangerous, no matter if you were ferrying settlers or dumping garbage. The ladies liked it. You just didn’t discuss the garbage part of it. Nobody wants to hear about their personal waste, they just want it to disappear, discretely. Most inhabited planets had run out of landfill space long ago. Some early attempts at garbage disposal had involved simply shooting it into space. Those planets were now ringed by a floating belt of crap that couldn’t be flown through. Scavengers had to go up to just beneath the ring and scoop out windows in the belt so ships could get out.
After the Garbage Wars of ’22 and’27, where warring planets had catapulted loads of trash at each other, it was decided something had to be done. The footage had been horrifying; people getting killed by old toasters falling through the sky was terrible to see. Everybody knew there were millions of uninhabited planets around. Why not just go dump there? Nobody gets hurt, no harm done. No garbage at home. It was a perfect solution, and the IGU was born.
Throk talked around a mouthful, “Excitable is okay, but can he load the Dumper? That’s all he needs to do.” The driver assured him that this was so, and ordered another round.
Throk had started to turn away from the viewport, when a flash caught his eye. “What the sharz is that, Bork? There are sparkles in the Dump.” He looked closer, and saw that there were a lot of sparkles in the Dump, dancing on the black surface like tiny stars.
Bork came over and looked. He hugged his tentacles around himself. “That’s Bork down there!”
Throk looked at him, and stepped carefully out of tentacle range. “What does that mean? How is that Bork?”
A blissful smile crossed Bork’s face. “Those are Bork’s special cells. I made them last night.”
“What are you talking about? Oh. Ewwwwww”.
“Yes! I took my special cells, fused them to a medium, and put them into seeding canisters.”
“Special egg medium.”
“Where did you get egg medium, and what are the seeding canisters for?”
“Got it from a guy at the pub. For seeding my children.”
Throk opened all of his eyes in shock. “So you bought egg medium from a guy in a bar, added it to your, uh, ‘special cells’ and chucked it into space in a seed canister?”
“Yes.” Bork drooled in joy. “My babies. My children! This will be our new home. I already erased the planet’s location from the IGU database. They’ll be safe here.”
Throk sighed. He was telling nobody about this. He definitely wasn’t telling Bork that those seed canisters weren’t meant for space. The mix might survive, but it would be mutated by radiation before it ever hit the planet. There were few laws that regulated the wild world of Dumping, but Throk thought attempting to populate uninhabited planets might be one of them.
Bork and Throk watched through the viewport as the StarDumper moved away from the planet. He wondered how the blue-green planet would fare, populated by the radiated descendants of a half-mad, many-tentacled alien. Bork slipped a tentacle around Throk’s waist and squeezed gently.