02:09:14 Ballad of the Erie Canal

Galactic Customs Personal Log
Aux. Personnel: SCOTC

Geez, I feel like I'm in high-school again.

So, Jack scolded me earlier because I haven't been keeping my Personal Log up to date. I had no idea what he meant but he explained that it's like a diary, so here goes. To put it plainly, it's been pretty dull around here the past few months. Roger has been picking up the same guy for a bunch of minor offenses. He keeps bringing him in citing all sorts of various offenses; throwing him in the cell downstairs (I can't believe that there's still more below where we normally are) but eventually Jack or Rhino lets him out with the usual warnings.

Shimo is back from vacation again. Man, I don't know where he goes, but he comes back looking lots better. He also seems to forget things too, but that's understandable, I guess. It's hard to get back into the swing of things sometimes.

I wonder if I'll ever get that kind of time off? Oh well, it's tough being the new girl.

Got a chance to call Mom. I feel bad that I can't tell her what I do for a living. I just kinda say that I'm doing admin and training for another position. Of course she's asking if I'm seeing anyone yet and whether or not she's going to be a grandmother before she dies. She can be such a ser un pesado sometimes.

Still, nothing but dull routine.

Well, there was one thing. I kinda caught part of it. Jack and Rhino were talking about a request for asylum they got from Lake Erie.

"Excuse me?" Jack said as he raised an eyebrow to look at Rhino.

Rhino shrugged, "Ok, well, not all of it but there's a sizable portion of Braccka that have put in the request."

"Braccka?" Jack said, even more mystified than he was about Lake Erie. "What perchance are Braccka?"

"They're a form of sentient brown algae. They were recently nominated by the Jelvan Xenoscience Leagues and finally recognized about 15 years ago. I was reading an article that a few professors put together about how they used a few modified translator units to piece together the languages the Braccka use and figured since we had a few spares up in the warehouse I'd try to duplicate it.."

Jack held up a hand, Rhino knew he was rambling and stopped. "Rhino. You know we can't accept anything like that. It's out of our ballpark."

Rhino looked a bit uncomfortable. "Actually, Jack, no it's not."

Galactic Customs Personal Log
Aux. Personnel: RHINO

I stopped being surprised by the universe a long time ago.

Not that the universe hasn't stopped trying to catch me off guard, and frankly it still manages to do that on a pretty regular basis, I've just stopped reacting like it's something unusual. Like Sgt. Cutter told me back in Basic Training, 'Your enemy is learning something new about you every day. Your only course of action is learning twice as much about him'.

Fortunately, we're not currently at war with anyone, at least not that I'm aware of, but I still take every opportunity I can to make sure I learn a few new things whenever I can. Since joining GC, that's been remarkably easy.

Like I said, I stopped being surprised. In all truth, I'm probably just constantly living in a state of surprise and just kinda getting used to it. So the Universe has apparently decided to up the stakes.

I told Jack about the Braccka I found in Lake Erie. I kinda figured that I'd get some sort of reading off of the modified translators, and Lake Erie was as good a place as any to try it out. Ok, so it also gave me a chance to take the bike down to the lakeshore too. So sue me.

Sure enough I fire up the translator, and nearly get my head knocked off by the yammering. Turns out that Erie is pretty much Braccka central for Earth. Makes sense, in a way, it pretty much mimics their home world's main sea, except for the fact that it freezes over more often than they appreciate.

Ok, so I'd never heard of the Braccka either up until I made contact. Turns out that they're kind of like a big hive mind more than anything, but each one has their own free will. Weird little guys. Pretty much like a big old ant colony or a huge mob, except unlike a mob, the more of them there are in a certain area, the smarter they all get. Like I said, weird little guys.

It also turns out that Braccka are a delicacy for several species, including the Kfarn. Granted, they had no idea that they were smearing brains on their bagels but needless to say someone apparently decided to blow ballast into the lake and the colony grew from there. So, officially they do fall into GC domain, since they're are an illegal import.

Of course trust Roger not to be a big help in the matter.

"What you're proposing is either murder or genocide depending on how you want to look at it." Rhino snapped back at Roger angrily.

Roger was unphased, "Look, you said yourself that the colony get's dumber when you divide it up, right? Unless you've suddenly got something capable of transporting several billion gallons of water that's precisely what we'll have to do to get them out of there, right? Well, they already have the collectors and the transport equipment to handle the job. Why not let them do it?"

"Because in all likelihood the colony would wind up in the condiment section. You know just as well as I do how Kfarn feel about virgin crops of Braccka."

"Look, you might say they're drooling, but they're always floating in water. How's one to tell what fluid comes from where?"

"They have a special attachment for their biosuits specifically for spreading Braccka! ROGER! No! Now find me some other group that can help us transport the Braccka or I'm going to spread you on toast! Capiche?"

Roger felt the heat coming from Rhino's impenetrable forehead as it hovered millimeters from his own. Roger held back any additional comment. "Alright, alright, I'll find some other group."

Rhino backed off, "Thank you. Let me know when you have something."


Rhino looked around Roger's desk for a few seconds.

"Yes", Roger asked impertinently.

"Nothing, I thought I left the Braccka sample from the lake here."

Galactic Customs Personal Log
Aux. Personnel: ROGER

Sorry, just had a quick snack, where was I?

Ah yes, Rhino had requested that I locate proper containment for the current inhabitants of the rather appropriately named Lake Erie. Personally, I suggested the obvious choice, but naturally he was far too thickheaded to agree.

Fortunately for our team, I do not let little set backs such as those hamper my skills. Adapt and survive, is my motto. Granted, it's also the motto of every single Yggsdrazine, and it gets rather permanently imbedded into us at a very early age, but still, it's a fair motto and one that deserves respect.

The metal rulers, however, one could certainly do without.

Still, I digress. It took a bit of persuasion, and a few calls before I managed to secure a proper transport container for several thousand metric tones of cognitive hors d'ouvre and even managed to get delivered after hours. The only down side is that it looks like it will require myself, Phil and Shimo to properly operate it while Rhino has a meeting of the minds with the head Goo.

I've already placed my bet in the pool.

Shimo let out a low whistle. "That's one big can."

The object in question would easily be the largest vessel ever to sail in Lake Erie provided it actually was in the lake. At the time, it was not.

The massive cylinder floated inches above the lapping waves as if it's soul purpose in life was to provide a midnight hallucination to a steel ship pilot.

"Well, don't think of it as a can when our visitors show up." Phil cautioned as she fired the transport's engines to position the giant silvery container. "To them it's simply a transport vessel. It'll keep them nice and comfy for the transport."

"Yeah, but it's huge. Won't someone notice this thing sucking that much water out of the lake?"

Phil smiled. "That's the beauty of it. No water required. All that goes in are the Braccka. If things go well, we can get all of them in there in about an hour. It'll be a tight fit, but shouldn't be an issue."

"So what do we do now?" Shimo asked.

"You got the monitors and controls set?"

"Yep, they'll have full control if they want or they can just enjoy the ride."

"Well then," Phil said as she cut the engine, "all we have to do is wait."

Galactic Customs Personal Log
Aux. Personnel: SHIMO

Man, I've really got to fix that date. It's been off now for a week. I'll try to get to it tomorrow. It'll be good to catch some sleep later.

Well, unless I have that dream again.

It's weird, but it's like I was back in the medi-chamber. I know, I know, I said it's weird. I mean no one is supposed to remember anything when you get stuck in one of those but, hey, it's a dream, right? The strange part is that I'm in there and suddenly I hear someone whispering, like he's trying to warn me or something.

But the weirdest thing is, the voice sounds like me!

Funky dream, huh?

Anyway, I usually wake up before I figure out what I'm trying to warn me about. Does that sentence even make sense? I dunno.

Uhgh, man, I hate it when Phil makes the coffee. This stuff tastes terrible.

"Look alive Shimo, there's Roger." Phil said.

Shimo closed his portable and caught the glimpse of Roger's craft. It silently slid up next to the canister.

"Well, looks like things are going well, Rhino should be here any minute with the Braccka, so I suppose we should turn this on." Roger flicked a switch on a modified translator unit.

"Wow!" Shimo said for the second time that morning. Are you sure this thing is going to be big enough?"

Behind Roger, a veritable mountain of brown algae silently formed itself.

Suddenly the translator popped to life.

"There's something wrong. We.. we hear them."

"Hear who?" Roger asked.

"We hear ourselves dying in the digestive track of one of you."

Roger let out a very quiet peep, but not quiet enough. Phil leapt at him shouting something unintelligibly obscene.

In an instant the mass of Braccka shot forth a spear of itself and with deadly accuracy gutted the offender. The remains of Shimo hit the boat decking with a sickening thud, just as Rhino leapt onto the main deck. He shouted vainly trying to stop what had already happened. A paper cup bounced near his feet and Rhino looked down at it.

It was the Starbucks cup he had gathered the sample in. From the absolute lack of anything better to say, Rhino quietly whispered, "oops."

Galactic Customs Personal Log
Aux. Personnel: PHILO

Another typical night full of fun for the GC irregulars.

Rhino's beating himself up pretty bad about losing the latest Shimo. I tried to talk to him and get him to see that nobody could have predicted that. Shimo's got a gift at finding fascinating new ways to off himself, this time, it just so happened that Rhino drew the short straw. Still, Rhino feels responsible and took this one hard.

In a moment of weakness, I offered to help beat himself up, if it would make him happier, but he just waved it off. Geez, a girl tries to be romantic.

I also feel sorry for the Braccka. Rhino got cracking fast (even after the Shimo incident) to try to convince the Braccka that it was all a misunderstanding. It took some time, but we finally managed to convince the colony to board the container. Must have been scarier than an Annie reunion tour for them to get into a big can not really sure if we'd sell them off for pancake topping.

They left under their own power about an hour later. Flarm gave them an escort to the edge of the system, but after that they were on their own. They'll make it fine.

The only person I don't feel sorry for?


He won the pool this time.

Phil stormed by the mess hall with the remains of what looked like a drive shaft slung over her shoulder. The few discernable words she mumbled dealt with Rhino, hovercraft and wreckless driving.

Carla started to get up from the table. Jack knew better and held her arm for a second.

"Jack? Come on. She's obviously really angry and needs someone to talk to."

Jack smiled. "No, actually, she needs to toss a few tanks around the hanger bay. Let her be, Carla, and she'll be fine in an hour or two." As if on queue there was a dull ringing thud of something large and metallic hitting something else that hadn't planned on moving.

Carla looked a bit nervously toward the door, than sat back down at the table. "I suppose."

She took another sip from her mug. "Jack?"

"Yes, Carla?"

"Where's Shimo? I haven't seen him since a few nights ago."

"I believe he's on vacation." Jack said.

"Again? Geez, doesn't he ever work?" Carla said angrily.

Jack just smiled. "You should see his hazard pay."