kingmonkey had flown for days in a straight line. The overwhelming monotony had begun to crush his spirit after only four hours of flying. He was not known for his patience and discipline. He had already steered into at least seven near death collisions. On his last pass through a roid belt rich in radioactive roids, he noticed something darting between rocks. At first he thought he was merely imagining things. Space madness or the like was surely playing tricks on him.
He moved in closer seeing no need to hurry off in his original direction and being a very curious monkey. He rolled the Smack-a-Roid slowly about it’s keel and pithced ‘up’ toward the flitting light. There it was again, no not it… they. Two lights appeared and quickly disappeared.
kingmonkey could only see them briefly, but he could see that they were living creatures. His pulse quickened and he readied a Morning Star for launch. He cursed himself for not arming any weapons on his heavy miner. Again the shapes rolled languidly into view. This time he saw their destination and was able to push his ship past a ring of large roids and into a huge clearing in a roid belt that he could now see spread for hours out in every direction.
As he entered the massive roid ring, he could see a multitude of shapes. Living creatures drifted like schools of fish, this way and that throughout the sector. They were not conflux, he could see that. They were almost a brown colour with large snouts and four flipper-like limbs. They were massive: almost the size of kingmonkey’s ship. He slowed his approach and finally cut his engines altogether, drifting into the school of the playing creatures.
They swam about space, apparently playing games and dancing. One even approached the Smack-a-Roid.
Hello weary traveller. Won’t you join us for a spell? You look as though you could use a good rest.
kingmonkey looked at his comm channels: none were open.
No, I am not speaking to you through your machines. I am speaking directly to your mind.
What are you…?
We are the Space Manatees. We have lived here for a long time and seek only peace and fun.
That doesn’t sound to bad. Maybe I could join you in a quick game of hide and seek… No, no. I really should get going.
Wouldn’t you rather stay and play?
You make a good argument, but I do have to get back home. I have a job to do.
Ooh, a quest! We love aiding in quests!
Oh, yes. We especially love escorting people through dangerous territories to a pivotal moment in their journey at which point they usually have to finish alone. We especially love it if we begin to get killed on the way, dying one by one as we protect the questor.
Holy crap, that’s crazy. Why would you just go on quests for the thrill of getting killed?
None of us knows. It’s almost as if our destiny were written in advance and we are only some kind of secondary character or plot device intended to aid the hero.
Uhh, yeah. You know that really does sound strange when you put it that way. Kinda crazy and eerily foreshadowing. Do you usually give this kind of exposition when you meet someone?
We shall guard you on your way to your goal, even if it means our deaths.
How do you know what my goal is?
You seek the Ancient Portal, do you not? The legendary artifact capable of bending time and space to the whim of it’s holder. Which if used by a good being could transport him anywhere, but if used by and evil being who secretly sent you here to find it, could be used to dominate all space.
Are you saying that someone sent me here to find this old portal thingy?
Oh, no. I’m just providing some background information and some clever hints for our story.
You know, the whole predestiny-writing analogy I made earlier…?
kingmonkey shook his head. This was all too weird. He had a feeling that this portal could help, but what was all this crap the space manatee was spouting about evil beings and dying and creative writing?
All right, show me the portal-ma-jig and I’ll see if it can help me get home.
We will guide you there and defend you even if it costs us our lives.
Okay, now is something going to try and kill us for going there, or what?
I don’t think so. Why do you ask?
Well you just said… I… you keep telling me about you guys dying and all. I just thought it had something to do with the portal… You know what? Never mind. Just lead me to the portal.
The herd of space manatees numbered in the dozens. They formed a long, graceful stream of shining brown as they began to file toward an unknown goal.
kingmonkey was less than confident.
You dimwitted fool, keep leading me to the portal. I must have it’s secrets. Only then can my plan for domination begin! Bwah hah hah haha ha ha ha ha. OUCH!! Who put that broom there? I damn near tripped. Seriously, I could have been killed! Oh, I’ll take it up with your supervisor all right. Look I’m paying you… Just do it.