They’re horrible snobsEdit
After Purple left them, elderly Brown Tentacles started shuffling towards the hot crowded miserable area where those who paid cheap fares had to go. The boy raced to the expensive section and went straight to the railings. Then Blue dipped his tentacles into the muddy harbour water, spread the mud all over himself and for a short time forgot his troubles, he hooted with pleasure.
“Stop that noise! It’s very bad manners!”, a grumpy Patrician Centaurian near Blue Tentacles exclaimed very loudly.
“That uncouth boy can’t be one of us!” another Patrician added.
“Haven’t you got a mudbath at home? Why in the Sun’s name do you make such a fuss?” a third Patrician asked.
Blue Tentacles flinched visibly and then he struggled to compose himself. He managed to apologize in a fairly Patrician manner but didn’t get it quite right. The Centaurian who’d called Blue uncouth wagged a tentacle really disapprovingly.
“So you are one of us. Stop being so immature. Say sorry the way a boy your age should.”
How long had Blue Tentacles been away from others of his own class? First he’d been in prison. Then he’d been shut away at home with his family. He tried to work out how a boy his age should behave with his own class. Blue could just hear some Patrician whisper,
“The boy is one of us but he looks feeble minded. Please be nice to him.”
Blue almost wished he could slip through the railings and disappear. At that moment elderly Brown Tentacles raced up panting.
“There you are. I’ve been looking for you. Come with me. It’s not safe here.”
Blue Tentacles had never travelled anywhere except in an expensive section or in an expensive vehicle. Well he had once travelled cheaply, when they took him to prison. Blue went quietly with his elderly friend to the area where the poor folk were. Soon he was crying and complaining. He wanted to go back to the expensive area.
“Let’s go back, Brownie?”
“I haven’t paid the fair for that part.”
“It’s awful here. It’s like the prison.”
“I can’t afford expensive places.”
The old fellow could have kicked himself or strangled himself with his own tentacles. Of course he should have thought what the Patrician boy was used to. The resources Brown Tentacles got selling the master’s fast submarine easily covered the cost of expensive fares but the self-indulgent old vagrant wanted to keep plenty to buy intoxicants later. As it was the boy was losing affection for him by the minute.
On the bridge Purple concentrated on his work, soon he’d checked the engines to the best of his abilities and made a few small corrections but there wasn’t much for him to do. Purple was glad his judgement had been sound and the Galaxy Shipping Company kept its engines in good order but he had hoped to show the captain that he was worth more than a deck cleaner.
“I have done what I can if it pleases you.” Purple explained and the engineer with him ran his experienced tentacles through the engines while Purple watched nervously.
“That was very good work.” the expert told him and Purple’s tentacles took on a lilac glow with relief, then the other added, “Can you look after the bridge and guide the ship for a short time? The water’s calm so there shouldn’t be trouble and I need to discuss important matters with that young seaman over there.”
Purple couldn’t hear what the two were discussing but the engineer kept shifting his tentacles towards the other while his tentacles sparkled with sexual invitation. The seaman’s tentacles sparkled in synchrony indicating sexual response and Purple’s tentacles took on a greenish tinge with envy. Here were free Centaurians who could get together that way and indeed there was no reason why they couldn’t start a family if that was what they wanted. Soon Purple remembered that he was a free Centaurian now and there was nothing to stop him forming relationships and starting a family, after that his tentacles shone iridescently. Purple checked the scanners as he’d been given a responsible job and he wanted to work responsibly, he noted there were sometimes currents and rapids in this area, and hoped there would be no trouble. Avoiding contradicting a superior was deeply ingrained into any Centaurian who had spent a lifetime in slavery so Purple didn’t even consider if he should have this job or not. When nothing was wrong he risked glancing down at the deck. There was a boy with yellow tentacles about the same age as Blue Tentacles or perhaps slightly younger cheerfully splashing in the water, yes life for a free Centaurian could be great.
Eventually young Blue looked towards the railings in the expensive section and saw the boy near his own age happily dipping tentacles into the water. Old Brown Tentacles didn’t dare to try and stop him. Soon both boys were by the railings getting wet.
“Just act like you’re a Patrician and I’m your servant. That should work.” The old fellow advised quietly.
Old Brownie had never been on the expensive part of a boat before. He didn’t know what to expect. Attendants came checking for Centaurians who shouldn’t be there. The two had a scary time bluffing their way through. The other boy wasn’t so lucky as he spoke in an obvious Plebeian manner. The attendants checked carefully if he had paid the proper fair. When they found out that he hadn’t, one of them just pushed him through the railings into the sea.
On the bridge Purple noticed a commotion below, his eye stalks extended in horror as he saw that boy with yellow tentacles in the water. Purple rammed the engines into reverse then with the alien equivalent of adrenalin rushing through his system he remembered that could be one of the worst things he could do. If the ship stopped too fast that would cause eddies and turbulence in the water, that could easily add to the danger. Purple struggled to remember what he’d learnt about big ships and he didn’t know very much as his master only paid for Purple to learn about small craft. Purple did his best,
“Oh My Lord the Sun guide me! Am I doing this right?” he exclaimed.