The Tornado Sojourns – Chapter 03 – Pulsat and Vanzyl
Pulsat Rad was born on Prinsloo in the Rexenor system, a dry desert world, rich in minerals and ore, which he hadn’t seen for 15 years.
He was one of the lucky ones as his parents were able to arrange for him to get away from his home world before the Mehreen Empire conquered the planet and enslaved the Prinsloovian’s putting them under the yoke in order to rape their own planet of all that was precious.
He had never returned and had no idea of what fate may have befallen his parents, he had met several of his own kind over the years, but none of them could enlighten him, as they were in the same boat as he was.
He was heavy set and had a rough bony skull which raised up like a crown which receded to give way to a Mahogany scaled brow, cheekbones and jawline which framed an ivory coloured face, and he had yellow eyes and his entire countenance betrayed his reptilian ancestry.
He was incredibly strong and found no difficulty in finding work among the many mining operations he came across as he worked his way steadily, from world to world and moon to moon, moving inexorably away from the Mehreen, it was on one of those worlds, Kordesh, that he met his friend Vanzyl.
Vanzyl was from Kessleria, the third planet in the Omeghard system, he was slender and like Pulsat he owed his origins to reptilian DNA, but his kind evolved from fish and possessed a scaly countenance and silver scaled skin, a sleek form, large opaque eyes, pursed lips, and gills.
He was also working for a mining company when they met but he did his work underwater.
He also left his home world because of the Mehreen but in Kessleria’s case they wanted the water, and in taking it they essentially brought genocide to the peaceful Kesslerian’s.
Vanzyl was more fortunate than Pulsat as he escaped from his home world with a large group of friends who supported and comforted each other, but over the years following their exodus, as they endured harsher and harsher conditions his friends perished one by one until he was finally left alone.
Subsequently his loneliness was keenly felt because his solitude was so extreme, and that was because he could only communicate in clicks, whirls and whistles which none but his own kind could understand, until that is Pulsat Rad arrived on Kordesh.
Pulsat worked his passage on a Pan Universal Minerals Gargantuan cargo transporter and was part of the crew that unloaded new processing plant to Kordesh and helped to manoeuvre it in situ, but when the time came for the manager of the mine to press the start button the motors ground to a halt after about 15 seconds causing a good deal of head scratching, but very little else.
Until the moment the slender animated fish like figure of Vanzyl approached the manager and began loudly whirling, whistling and clicking at him.
“For God sake get this freak away from me” the manager shouted and two burly security men began man handling him away which caused Pulsat to rush forward.
“Stop, stop, he can fix, he can fix”
“Wait” the manager said to security and then addressed Pulsat
“Do you understand what fish lips is saying?”
This prompted a fresh utterance of whirls whistles and clicks this time directed at Pulsat, because he could understand every tone and toot as if it were in his own tongue, but that was common place for his species, there were very few races he had met on his travels that he couldn’t understand, although he couldn’t speak to them in their language, but he nonetheless understood every word that they spoke.
“I said do you understand this freak?” the manager shouted
“He ask me same question” Pulsat retorted then added
“He know how to fix”
“How?” the manager barked and Vanzyl renewed his emanations
“He say, intake hose connected outlet valve”
“That’s not possible” one of the techs responded dismissively
“He say” Pulsat repeated and shrugged
“Check it” the manager snapped
“It’s a waste of time” the tech said
“Check it! Now!” he demanded and the tech walked dejectedly away and ten minutes later he returned shamefaced.
“Well?” the manager demanded
“The hose was connected to the wrong valve” he simpered
“So if I hit the start button will it start?” the manager asked
“I think so” the tech replied
“I wasn’t asking you” he snapped
“I’m asking him” he said pointing at Vanzyl who whistled a response which Pulsat translated
So the manager nodded and turned confidently to the machine and hit the button and the great beast of a machine roared into life.
After Vanzyl had saved the day, and the blushes of the techs, he was promoted to engineer on the new plant, and because he was only able to speak in clicks and whirls, which only Pulsat could understand, he was also promoted, but it turned out that he too was an excellent engineer.
They spent the next ten years working for Pan Universal Minerals firstly on mining planets and latterly on a Gargantuan cargo transporter and they were happy enough, they were well treated on the whole, though were still made to feel like outcasts, and excluded from the main group, but without malice, which was perhaps worse as that made them almost anonymous.
But they would have happily stayed aboard indefinitely, however when the Gargantuan was ordered to cross into Mehreen space to deliver a new mining rig the pair parted company with Pan Universal and disembarked on Alwi.
They hoped that with the glowing references from their employer they would have no problem signing on with someone else but on Alwi there were 10 would be workers competing for every vacancy so they were out of luck, so they spent all of their time sitting on the terrace of the Alwi Ambassadors Lodge, watching all the comings and goings and hoping to find a suitable ship to crew on.
And it was there, after three long weeks that they met Visitor Parham, and Pulsat liked him very much from the first moment and he liked him even more when he said he preferred to be called “Bagg” because the was the name for female genitalia on his world and it made him smile very much when he heard people call him that name.
As it so happened Bagg was also looking for transport off Alwi to continue his mission.
Visitors were a Christian sect who took to the stars with the first migrants to visit new worlds, spreading the word while seeking enlightenment, and they had established Visitor enclaves in every corner of the known universe, they even thrived in Mehreen space and they were the least spiritual beings to ever draw breath.
The difference between Visitors and the established Christian Church on earth was its spontaneity, they didn’t wait until Sunday to worship, they did it wherever and whenever it was desired and it didn’t need to happen in a church, Visitors worshipped everywhere.
He had hitched a ride on a space dredger as far as Alwi but it wasn’t going any further so he got off in the hope of getting on another.
He found himself drawn to Pulsat and Vanzyl as he had not encountered either a Prinsloovian or a Kesslerian before and he found then to be very amiable and he found their relationship fascinating, so he remained in their company as much as possible but every morning he left the Lodge and went in search of transport for the three of them and on the fourth day he re-joined his companions at midday with good news.
“Quickly you two” he gestured “I have found a Tempest class freighter in need of an engineer”
“What like people?” Pulsat asked, but Bagg knew that what he wanted to know was what species they were
“The Captain is human, and the navigator appears to be also and the third is a Vann” Bagg explained
“We look?” Asked Pulsat
“We look” Bagg agreed
They stopped about fifty yards away and looked at the ship, it wasn’t a huge ship as freighters go but pound for pound the Tempests had the highest freight to fuel ratio yield of their class.
The front section comprised of a sizable pressurized hold for large freight accessed via a front loading ramp, above which was the flight deck, living and sleeping quarters, mess facilities and bath rooms, at the rear was the main propulsion and amidships were the universal pod bays, which allowed for a mixed cargo option.
“You wait here while I speak with the Captain” Bagg said and Vanzyl clicked
“She is in engine?” Pulsat translated
“She is” Bagg responded
“Very bad place for Captain” Pulsat said
They watched their new friend walk towards the ship and heard a scream emanate from within
“Very bad place for Captain” Pulsat said and then they watched as a conversation ensued and after a short time the Captain scrambled out of her oily tomb and wiped her oily hand on a rag before offering it to him to shake.
After a further short converse Bagg turned to look in their direction and gestured to them so they walked towards him.
“This is Merionwen Strong, Captain of the Tornado” Bagg said
“Good meeting, I Pulsat Rad, this Vanzyl” he said and clicks and whirls began to emanate from Vanzyl which were clearly directed at Pulsat
“Ok I speak” he said and more clicks and whirls followed
“I telling, I telling” Pulsat retorted and to Merri he explained
“Vanzyl say we very much like fix engines, very much like join crew Tornado”
“You fix the engines and you have a deal” she said “on one condition”
“What is?” he asked
“The condition is that you don’t have any strange eating habits” Merri explained and then she observed as the two engineers in waiting looked at each other in what she supposed was puzzlement until Vanzyl made a long whistling noise followed by a succession of clicks and Pulsat snorted.
“No, no, we eat everything” he said and then he and Vanzyl proceeded to investigate the engines leaving the Captain and Bagg to talk.
Vanzyl whistled, whirled and clicked audibly as he inspected the four Plasma Turbine Pyroclast Engines and the associated panels and displays and Pulsat said
“Captain not engineer”
“Engines fixed” Pulsat said when they entered the mess hall
“What already?” Merri asked “You’ve fixed them both?”
“No” Pulsat replied
“We fix four”
“I already had two working” Merionwen said indignantly which prompted Vanzyl to make a long whistling noise followed by a succession of clicks and Pulsat snorted, which clearly denoted laughter in the former and derision in the latter.
“We fix four” Pulsat repeated and everyone laughed
“So you’ve done in four hours that I haven’t been able to do in almost as many months”
“We are engineers” Pulsat said and everyone laughed again
“Then it looks like we’re getting off this rock at last” Merri said “and we have three new shipmates”
Then after the introductions were made Merri said
“Now sit and eat”
“We eat here?” Pulsat asked
“Where else?” Merri said and Vanzyl uttered a soft whistle like a plaintive flute, then he looked at his friend and whistled again
“Like family, yes” Pulsat agreed