The Zaftans are Coming!
In January, 2011
Tired of reading scifi and fantasy stories that take themselves too seriously? Zaftan Entrepreneurs is a unique First Contact story; it is part adventure and part corporate and political satire spiced with comic relief. Here, you'll find nasty, snarly aliens, fantasy creatures, humans, romance, magic, and--just like the real world--incompetent politicians and feuding bureaucracies. What more could a fantasy/scifi reader ask for?
Aliens, fantasy creatures and humans in one story? They don't mix very well. Neither do untrustworthy aliens and deceitful government bureaucrats.
The solar system flaunted unpretentiousness. It existed in a shabby neighborhood at the raggedy end of an unremarkable galaxy and had a common yellow dwarf at its core with five planets in orbit.
Beyond the solar system, space expanded outward with nothing to see except the pinpoints of light coming from distant suns, a portrait of tiny jewels set on a black velvet cloth. The solar system centered a huge sphere of nothingness.
For eons, the system's peaceful vista existed undisturbed, unblemished and unvisited except for an occasional meteor or comet.
The only source of color came from the second planet. It sparkled in the light from the sun: blues from the oceans, greens from vegetation, reds, blacks and browns from mountains, whites from the clouds. They all combined to form a pleasant scene, especially when viewed against the blackness of space.
Near the solar system's outer edge, a gravity ripple appeared and broke the smoothness of space. When the ripple grew into a wave it broke apart and a space ship appeared to shatter the serenity of the panorama.
The ship could charitably be described as ugly, but that failed to account for the unsymmetrical and repulsive sight. The paint had peeled away in many areas showing bare skin in various stages of decay. Parts of the ship appeared cylindrical, other parts spherical, suggesting the ship had been made by cannibalizing a number of other ships and melding various parts together without a master blueprint. Grafted onto the exterior skin, these additions had different sizes, shapes and metals. They resembled burn blisters on skin. Antennae sprouted everywhere. It was as if the designers couldn't make up their minds about when to stop modifying the ship. As a result, it looked like a traveling junk yard.
The ship rolled, pitched and yawed in an uncontrolled manner while it plowed through the distant reaches of the solar system. Gradually, the gyrations slowed and stopped, leaving the ship motionless in space, as if deciding how to further besmirch the prettiness of the scene.
A legend on the side of the ship, in large blood-red letters, read Black Carrion Flower. Additional smaller lettering read, Furshtanker Inc, Zaftan 31B.
Inside the ship, Captain Yunta groaned on her reclining couch in the small flight deck. Another pair of couches, two control consoles and view screens filled the front. Electronic gear took up the left side and read-out devices were everywhere, even hanging from the ceiling. The flight engineer and the navigational shaman sat at the front consoles while the captain's couch
occupied the space behind them and to the right. Like all zaftans, these three were seven feet tall and weighed over four hundred pounds. Their grayish-black, rubber-like skin oozed green slime. On the top of the body, over a cruel beak a pair of eye stalks protruded and held black eyeballs with red irises. Eight tentacles served as arms or legs. None of the zaftans wore clothes because the slime made most cloth material smolder and catch fire. The surfaces of their couches were treated with fireproofing chemicals to prevent a shipboard catastrophe.