Testicleeze woke first. The junger’s clock showed that he’d had a nice nap. He took another look at the Ring of Damicleeze through the enhancer then brushed a tentacle across the picture of it. He placed the image so it would be the first thing Damitol saw when she woke up.
The cabin needed a little cleanup, so he gathered the remains of their snacks into a pile and put them into the remolecularizer. He stowed their portaconts, plugging them in to recharge. By the time he’d finished tidying the cabin, Damitol had awakened.
“It’s still so pretty.” She gazed at the photo, then brought the enhancer to her visualizers and looked. She sighed. “I don’t suppose we can stay here forever, can we?”
“Not forever. But if you’d like to stay awhile …” He stretched a blue tendril toward her head.
She leaned into his aura, wrapping it in tendrils of her own.
“It would be nice,” she said, “but there’s more to experience, I’m sure.”
“We’re somewhere in a spiral arm of the galaxy. Let’s head outward to see what we can find.”
Damitol settled into the pilot’s seat and oriented the controls. She set a destination away from the center of the galaxy. “Distance?” she asked.
“Doesn’t matter. Give it a decent sized jump, but let’s not wind up in the fringe again.”
“Farewell, Ring of Damicleeze.” She punched the button, and the hop-junger slid away.
They rematerialized in a sparse star field. When they’d been back in the center of the galaxy, they’d seen suns right next to one another, but out here, vast stretches of dark space separated the bright pinpricks. A swatch of soft light that spread across a long sector showed the direction to the bulk of the galaxy.
“Look, those bright stars form a shape.” Testicleeze pointed at a segment of space ahead. “It’s a qualler.”
“See the eight bright stars forming kind of an oval, right over there. And then there are legs sticking out. I only count nine, but you could imagine a tenth one overlapping one of the others. You know, as they scuttle along?”
“I don’t see it,” she said.
“I’ll draw the shape.” He made an image and added lines to show the body. Then, he drew its nine legs. “Now do you see it?”
“Oh, that’s bodacious. But look, I can see where a tenth leg could be. It’s shorter, and the star is dimmer, but it’s there.” Damitol added the last leg.
They both laughed this time. Now that the quallers had a stellar sign in space, the old joke didn’t seem such an insult to their species.
They looked around and began to pick out other shapes in the sky. It was a new game to them: bright stars were rarer here than in the center of the galaxy, so it was easier to form shapes from them. Although they looked all over to find a mewber figure that they could name after their friend Nella, they couldn’t find anything close to that shape.
“Do you think she knows we’re gone? That we … borrowed her junger?”
Testicleeze considered her question. “I’m sure the mall cop reported her junger. That probably sent the grinzats looking for her … oh, I’m such a klapwad!” He slapped his head with a tentacle, sending waves of green and yellow out his aura from the impact. “We used a credit chip at the Gigantic Mall of the Galactic Center. They know who we are.”
“So, probably Nella knows what we did,” she said. “I miss her.”
“Even if we were home, you’d miss her. You know the mewbers only hang out with their own. And the way they lick each other, ewww.”
“They’re not all like that. Some mewbers have other friends.”
“And you think Nella would be one of them?”
Testicleeze thought for a moment, then nodded. He knew that would make Damitol feel better. They’d find out for sure when they got back home. Maybe Nella would still be their friend. Maybe she’d be mad at them for taking her hop-junger. Or maybe she would’ve already forgotten them. Florking changed you, after all.
But he wasn’t ready to go home.
Wonders remained to be seen.
Stay tuned for the next adventure in the joy rides of Damitol and Testicleeze.
Image of the night sky from NASA heavily edited to create a new constellation.
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