[bedtime stories, recorded for posterity.]
Once upon a time Commander Gwyneth and her trusty crew aboard the Winter Star were deciding on their next mission. Astrogator Phil, the quadropus, hoped that they could go check out the nebula just over there, because he hoped that he might learn more about his people. See, when Phil was just a wee quadropus, he went exploring, but he didn’t do a very good job of remember where he’d explored to, so by the time he was ready to go home, he couldn’t remember how to get there. So he’s always looking for his path home.
But just as Commander G agreed that they should go check out the nebula, the Queen sent new orders. Executive Officer Malcolm reported that the Queen wanted space dragons to come to Earth and fly around the planet and make sky fireworks for her birthday. So Commander G was instructed to go find some space dragons.
Commander G thought about it, and decided the Queen could wait a few days while they checked out the nebula first, because she didn’t want to make Phil sad. So off they went. When they got to the nebula, there was no sign of more quadropusses, but they did hear a distress call! Captain BunBun’s ship The Hopper was out of fuel, and she needed help. So Commander G sent her Exec and Jack The Mechanic over to refuel The Hopper while Phil plotted their next course to the space dragons. Malcolm and his away team came back to the ship, and told Commander G that Captain BunBun wanted to talk to her. “Open a channel!” she ordered.
Captain BunBun said that Exec Malcolm had mentioned space dragons, and that he was concerned they wouldn’t be able to entice them to come to Earth for the Queen’s birthday. BunBun knew how to help. “Space dragons, you see, loooooove barbecue sauce. If you offer them barbecue sauce, they’ll probably do whatever you need.”
Commander G thanked Captain BunBun, and waved as The Hopper sped off out of the nebula.
“Quartermaster Miles! I have a job for you!” Commander G explained to her rotund master of supplies that all ketchup would need to be transformed into barbecue sauce, and told him that he had three days to do it. Miles protested, saying that making barbecue sauce out of all the ketchup would ruin his plan for a grand hot dog and sausage feast in honor of the Queen’s birthday, but Commander G was unmoved by his concerns. “Barbecue sauce, Miles! That’s an order!”
Her next stop was Mechanic Jack’s office, next to the engine room. He snurfed at her, scrubbing at the grease on his face. “Ma’am. What. I’m busy.”
“Well, you’re about to get busier! We need a delivery mechanism that will allow us to send barbecue sauce to the space dragons. You have three days.”
Mechanic Jack grumbled, but Commander G could tell he was intrigued. She smiled and headed back to her command seat on the bridge, where she found Counselor Blue Dog waiting for her.
“Now, G. You’re going to have to negotiate with the dragons. You can’t just give them barbecue sauce and expect them to do what you say,” Blue Dog advised gently.
“Of course I can! They love barbecue sauce, and the Queen says they need to come. She wants space fireworks. They make space fireworks. It’s simple!”
The ship’s Tactical Officer, the Redbeard81 Artificial Intelligence Unit, piped up to support Blue Dog’s approach. “Commander, you can’t just offer everything up front. That’s not how negotiating works. You have to make a smaller offer, and if they refuse, work up to offering all you’re willing to give. You cannot just offer everything at once. It is not how it is done. We will practice for the next three days until you are a skilled negotiator.”
Commander G did not want to practice, and so she avoided Redbeard81 and Blue Dog for the next few days, instead spending her time with Mechanic Jack and Quartermaster Miles. Miles perfected the barbecue sauce, and wheedled and cajoled Commander G in hopes that she’d agree to let him keep some of it. “It will be excellent on the hot dogs!”
Instead, Commander G gave samples to Mechanic Jack, who had retrofitted the Winter Star‘s rocket cannons — they were now sauce cannons! Phil and G and Jack had a great time practicing with Miles’s samples of barbecue sauce, shooting at asteroids and comets as they passed, until the rocket sauce cannons worked perfectly. Mechanic Jack was a little sticky by the time it was over, but it was worth it!
And then it was time. They arrived at the home planet of the space dragons, and set up an orbit around the gas giant. The dragons came to see who was in the tiny ship, and flew in circles around it. Commander G knew her moment had arrived, and she turned on her communicator and said, “I’m here on the orders of the Queen, to offer you barbecue sauce in exchange for you coming to Earth to make space fireworks for her birthday!” And at her signal, Mechanic Jack and Phil let loose with all the sauce cannons, hitting their targets perfectly. Redbeard 81 and Blue Dog groaned, realizing that Commander G had ignored all their advice! The mission was ruined!
But the space dragons didn’t think the mission was ruined. They thought that the barbecue sauce was amazing, and they quickly agreed to go to Earth for the celebrations. They sent their compliments to the sauce cook, and asked for his barbecue sauce recipe… but Quartermaster Miles remembered Blue Dog and Redbeard81’s lessons, and asked for a favor in return, to be redeemed someday in the future. The space dragons agreed, and Miles began thinking of all the things he could someday ask the dragons for.
And so Commander G had Exec Malcolm send a message to the Queen, telling her of their success, and letting her know when to expect the space dragons.
Then she turned to Astrogator Phil. “Where to, Phil?”
“Well, ma’am, I got this reading from the next star system over…”
And off they went.