“It is a . . . glorious supernova remnant, isn’t it Damitol?” Testicleeze had a catch in his voice.
The expanding detritus of the dead star occupied the num-one slot on his list of awesome things to see in the galaxy.
“What makes it so pretty?” she asked.
“When the star exploded, it ejected radiation and matter. The initial burst of light heralded the supernova blast. A galactic shout-out: Wake up Universe, here I am.” He threw his tentacles wide and his aura tendrils filled the cockpit. “The matter moved slower. Well, if you can call several thousand klicks a second slow. That blue rim shows the edge of the blast wave.”
“Blast? Do we need to worry?” Her aura turned burnt orange and flitched through the cockpit.
Testicleeze extended a calming energy tendril, and her aura cooled as he reassured her. “No, Damitol. It’s still far, far away. We’re seeing light generated by the interstellar gases. And the other colors, the greens and yellows, emit from the matter that came out of the star.”
“This is too cool,” she said, happy again. She unfolded from her seat. “I’ve gotta pee before the excitement overwhelms me.”
She used the head while he fumbled in his sack of technotoys. He positioned a device in front of his visualizers and cooed with pleasure. When she returned, he passed it to Damitol.
“It’ll extend your vision into the X-ray spectrum. The colors aren’t real, but you can see more details.”
“It looks like a humongous, amorphous flower,” she said. “The wispy strands take my breath away.”
“The colors emit from different atoms, like iron or silicon, that the dying star ejected.”
They admired the supernova while eating one of Damitol’s snacks. They intertwined energy tendrils from their aurae and shared a mutual enchantment of the stellar debris. Time passed in their comfort with one another.
“We can’t stay here forever,” Damitol said. “I wouldn’t want to flork here.”
“Yeah, about that,” Testicleeze said. “Can you set the junger to autohome?”
“So if we flork and can’t operate the ship, we’d get back? Bodacious idea.”
Damitol fiddled with the controls. She had to look up the autoreturn sequence, but followed the step-by-step instructions with ease. The ship would seek the transdimensional beacon of its hangar slot if they didn’t update its instructions in a blork cycle.
While she’d been figuring out the safe-return, Testicleeze made his trip to the junger’s tiny head. He came back to the copilot’s seat and pulled up auxiliary controls.
“Bonzai!” he shouted as he pushed a button.
“What did you do?”
“I ejected our waste.”
“No, no. We’re supposed to recycle that.”
“Think about it, Damitol.” His voice became wistful. “In a thousand, ten thousand years, the leading edge is gonna sweep by here, and our piss will become one with the supernova. We’ll be immortal. Together forever.”
“Oh, Testicleeze. You’re such a dopeless romantic.” Her tone chided him, but her aura flushed a warm pink as it mingled with his. She pressed the GO button. “Cowabunga!”
The ship slid to their next destination.
The sky shone brighter than either of them had ever seen. They still sat in deep space, but the sheer number of stars in every direction overwhelmed them.
“Galactic center, dead ahead,” Testicleeze said. “This is as close as we’re going to get. If we slip to that system over there, we can park the hop-junger at the moon of the fourth planet and eat.”
Slipping a junger proved a more delicate maneuver than sliding, but the small size of the hop-junger made control easy, even for a tyro like Damitol. It took an hour to slip over, but arranging a place to park where they could plart from the junger down to the surface required almost as much time.
“Popular place.” Damitol was happy to be done piloting.
Testicleeze disdained the crowded hangers. “Tourists.”
“No, Damitol. We’re on a joy ride. We’ll be here just long enough to feel the gravity.”
“Can we eat? The snack wasn’t much.”
“Sure. Let’s go see what we can find.”
Image of Cassiopeia A in a combination of wavelengths from NASA.
Stay tuned for the next stop in the joy rides of Damitol and Testicleeze.