by Simon Whitaker
The Inquisitor paused, his finger hovering over one of three buttons. The first was the PROCEED button, it allowed the cargo under investigation to proceed through Customs to it’s destination, unmolested. The second, REJECT, rushed the cargo to the mills for instant atomization with no claims allowable. The third, HOLD, sent it on it’s way to the vast storage facilities of Abrax IV where it might remain for decades or even centuries, lost amongst the multitude of “too hard to decide” cases. The finger came down on REJECT. The case of stripling fruits was just too dangerous to be allowed through, as it could well be infested with Quarkbugs. He was satisfied with the decision, it was the third time this semester that someone had tried to sneak them through.
Next on his manifest was a shipment of baryonic disruptor bombs, bound for the outer moon of Solent Prime. There was some trouble down there, there always was. Some coup or revolution, or maybe some kind of good old fashioned war. He remembered reading about it at one stage but could not recall the details. No doubt some freedom fighter was desperate for his bombs. He pushed PROCEED and the cargo whisked off to it’s awaiting starship to proceed directly to Solent Prime.
It was getting late, surely his shift must end soon? But what’s this? Next on the manifest was “Unknown alien artifact”. Curious, he had not had one of those since last semester. He brought up the details and images of the item. Several flags alerted him to it’s nature:
He looked at the image. It was a round disc made of gold, with what appeared to be fine grooves in the surface of on one side. The other side depicted indecipherable and rather rudimentary images and pictograms. There was also some form of writing in the center of the disc, which stated exactly this: THE SOUNDS OF EARTH. Unfortunately, the whole thing appeared to be damaged, with a large notch missing from the edge. It had been found in interstellar space, with no other debris nearby and no clue to it’s origin. As with all archeology, an artifact out of context is useless. The Inquisitor’s finger hovered over the REJECT button, then a sudden thought struck him. He quickly looked up his stats for the semester, then smugly pushed the HOLD button. That was the most HOLDS he had ever done in a single semester! He was deeply satisfied.