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The Recollection Of Crankshaft

Chapter 1


I suppose that to keep some measure of formality in this document, I should start by introducing myself. My name is Professor Crankshaft R. Differential. I have a Ph.D. in chewing gum, and I'm a professor of Mechanical Physics at the University Of Pioneer 2, otherwise known as UP2. We're a modest school, and we don't accept anyone outside of our city. Mostly because our city is the only unit of civilization on the ship. We're also the only accredited college on the ship. Our Science Department is booming, and our Athletics program is moving along quite well, because, being the only college on the ship, all of our teams win by default. Both of them. Of course, some day, someone's going to figure out that we can pit our Men's Lobby Ball team against our Women's Lobby Ball team, and then our Athletic department is going to be in trouble.

I am not a hunter, nor do I play one on the glowing box. I am, however, a really tall Newman. I stand at a gangly six feet and two inches, and my spiky blue hair sometimes catches the top of a door, especially when I'm wearing my platform shoes, which add another good four inches to my overall height, making me just two inches shorter than the standard door size. Most Newmans wear platform shoes because they're short and they want to look taller. I wear them because I'm tall and I like to scare the sweet cream out of my freshmen students. It's funny how a bold High School Senior can become a timid College Freshman in a mere couple of months.

I'm writing this story, because I feel that in my goofy platforms, I have literally stumbled over something that others should know, and probably don't. This is knowledge that's mostly reserved for high-level government officials like Principal Tyrell and the Council, but it's mostly information that's been retrieved by Hunters. I'd sum it all up right here, but then that would make the story itself rather anticlimactic, and this entire book would be rather unwarranted. I can see it now. The book reviewers are all saying, "This book by Professor Differential is great! You only need read the first three or four paragraphs, and you're as good as finished!"

Well, I'm just gonna have to hold you in suspense for a while, and make you earn it. In the mean time, I'd better pick an arbitrary date to start this from. It all started one day when I was talking a stroll down the street, but I was strolling down the street for a very precise reason, so I suppose I need to explain that part first.

Being a young, taller professor at the most prestigious college a resident of Pioneer 2 can hope to go to, and in fact, a professor at the only college that a resident of Pioneer 2 can go to, I often receive letters. Big ones, small ones, ones with good grammar, ones with bad grammar, and ones with grammar like mine, which often defies explanation, even though it may very well need it.

So anyway, yeah, I get letters. Some are on official business, some are from my local worshipers, and some are from raving college women that want a piece of Crankshaft. Well, maybe not as many as I would like, but it's happened once or twice. Much to my dismay however, I've yet to receive one from one that appeals to me. I'm not going to say that I've ever gotten a letter from a beached whale, though I might consider suggesting that I've gotten one from a beached octopus. That was one MEAN octopus, too.

So, yes, letters. Must attempt to stay on topic. It's funny how receiving things here and there can complicate your life. One day, an undisclosed number of months ago, I received a letter from a former student. It was full of questions about machinery and photons, and so forth. So, I'm reading this letter, and preparing in my cortex, ideas for a reply, but then someone walked through my office to get to the bathroom and totally ruined my train of thought, which, strangely enough, caused me to drift off in thought about sandwiches, and the amount of energy it takes to gnaw on one, depending on the staleness of the bread. Or maybe I was thinking about where I was in the letter. Could be either, I suppose. On the other hand, at some point I figured out that with just the right balance of staleness and wholesome goodness, you can eat a sandwich and burn more calories than you're consuming.

So anyway, I got off on some tangent, so I decided to put the letter down, and go have a stale sandwich. Luckily, I didn't have to go far, because I just happened to have one already prepared for me by some admiring person, who I'm quite certain must've been myself. Ah yes, that's right, I had prepared the sandwich for lunch, and forgot to eat it. So this, being around mid-morning three days later, on a Monday morning in fact, I decided that it was time to make good on the eats.

It was a good sandwich, but the bread was stale. Given this, my reaction was to go to my mini-fridge and extract some preserved milk. The expiration date was about a week after Pioneer 2 left Coral, but I took a hint from our mode of transit, and tweaked the fridge with a strange combination of home-built particle accelerators and exotic refrigerants, all stuck together with chewing gum. And duct tape. In any case, in addition to keeping things cold, the refrigerator also keeps things in a temporal pocket, so every second of time in there is something like ten years to my time. Milk was my test subject for this.

Of course, my first thought on testing it, was to stick my head in, but then I thought about what would happen if I were to stick my head in and activate it, and I realized that I probably wouldn't like that very much. So instead, I rigged the light switch to my little customization unit, so that it shuts on and off, depending on whether the door is open. My only problem is that I then had to choose whether the light was to stay on or off. When it occurred to me that, the difference between it being on or off was immeasurable because of how slow the power drain would be. It's interesting to think though, that the life expectancy of the bulb in my refrigerator is about ten years, but then, ten years from the day that I installed my customization, it will only have been about three seconds. Well, plus the time that I had it open. Then again, the mini-fridge was twelve years old, already when I customized it. So by my calculations, the bulb could've blown up all over my milk any nanosecond now.

So anyway, I got some milk, and I poured it into what I'm supposing was a clean glass. Now that I had my milk, I took a drink, then dipped my stale sandwich in it. The drink was obligatory of course, because well, I had to make sure that it wasn't soured. I at least knew that it was still liquid, because I was able to pour it out of the carton. It had been in my fridge for ten years, after all. So I dipped the stale sandwich into the milk, and decided that a thought that was in the back of my mind through all of this was indeed right. That thought being that a bologna and cheese sandwich probably wouldn't be very pleasant when dipped in milk. It was malleable now at least, so I figured, the heck with it. It would do.

It eventually hit me that I'd be better off to go and get buy something to eat, rather than crunching on this milky sandwich. This determination came to me when it dawned on me that a person with my high metabolism doesn't need to worry about eating stale sandwiches to burn more calories when they eat, because in theory, I could power a nuclear mini-fridge for a month with just a single meal.

So my associate comes out of the bathroom as I'm making a funny face while trying to consume this rock, and she says, "Crankshaft, why don't you go out and buy a fresh sandwich?" My associate, Laya, is a well-dressed blond woman, by the way, always with her fancy dresses and big hats. She is a professor of Technical Physics, of course.

At this point, I dropped my sandwich and bizarrely yelled, "No, I will not go on a date with you!" Which, I sometimes do when she speaks to me, simply because it disturbs her so much.

"I told you to buy yourself some edible FOOD, Crankshaft! Go!" She pointed at me accusingly, and made a mean face. Though as hard as she tries, she really does have difficulty looking threatening. Not like me, and the way that I tower over short people like a really tall person over a vertically impaired midget. As opposed to a vertically gifted midget. You know, the kind that plays professional sports, laughs at short midgets, and smacks his forehead on countertops when he gets in a rush and walks without looking.

So I decided that I needed some food, which therefore lead me to the cafeteria, where you can get stale food that convincingly portrays itself as fresh food, but your stomach just might tell the difference. Actually, I'm rather certain that all the food is indeed fresh, at least once a week. The rest of the week can be debated on. I have to say though, nowhere else have I ever seen preservatives injected into an otherwise untainted apple.

I stared at the selection for a while. It was the first day after a weekend, so the food, as far as I can guess, was fresh, at least. The hot stuff was still hot for reasons other than the microwave lights, at least. Still, for some reason, deep fried butter sticks and the many variants offered in the cafeteria weren't seeming very appetizing to me at the time. Maybe I was a little woozy after eating so much of that stale bologna sandwich dipped in milk, or maybe the food is just genuinely bad there. But then I remembered that it was only mid-morning for my personal sleep schedule, so I therefore didn't need to eat anything to begin with.

So I started to wander back to my office, when a student stopped me in the hall to ask about the test I had given on Friday. Typical questions about whether or not I'd graded it yet, and my typical answers that consist of things like, "Yes. You got an F." or my personal favorite, "Uh... My dog ate it!"

This made me think of when my next class was, which I recalled wasn't until the mid-afternoon. So I thought I would take a walk. I hate it when I get an idea to go somewhere, though, because then I'm faced with the task of deciding where to go, even though I have no urgent need to go anywhere. Besides, I still hadn't gotten anything to eat, even though I didn't need anything.

Forgoing the decision to figure out where I was going to go, I decided to just leave, and I took a stroll down the street. The streets are always interesting. They're full of an odd mixture of intelligent people, and people who have peculiar accents that make them sound like they flunked their language classes beyond any measurable level. These people tend to be the most dangerous though, because in light of their failings, they often turn to crime to make a living. I think. Maybe I'm wrong, and it's all just a ruse by the intelligent people, who are all secretly out to get us.

I strolled down the street and did some window-shopping. Staring at windows for an extended period of time, though, tends to get boring. I never understood the premise. Glass isn't that interesting. Sometimes the stuff behind it is, though. So I looked at that instead. Why is it that clothing shops out number even food shops? I can't walk down the street without seeing half a dozen clothing shops for every half of a different shop. Shops like Gilbert's Outpost, Hilda Blue and The Space dot the urban plane like clothing shops in a mini-mall. It's absurd. The thing that bothers me most is that the variety isn't even that expansive. Admittedly, though, I see what some of my female students wear, and I suppose I shouldn't complain. Why, if it weren't for stores like these, the eye candy jar would run dry before too long. Either that or we'd all wander around nekid, but I think I can appreciate clothing stores for being present not to allow that in some cases.

I eventually saw a huge, tank-like android wander by with a young, pointy-eared woman. They were talking and joking as they wandered along, and seemed an auspicious couple. Pretty short she was, but well-endowed indeed. They stopped for something to eat at a cafe across the street from an electronics store, which made me remember that I hadn't gotten anything to eat for this new meal that I had invented for myself.

Having my fill of looking at stuff that I do not own and shall not buy, I decided to walk further down the street, and maybe I'd be lucky enough to find that cafe that the android and the young woman had wandered to. I had its entrance in plain site, after all. As I approached the shop, I noticed something moving through the crowd quite swiftly.

I stood and blinked for a moment, then saw what it was. It was another tall Newman guy, much like myself, but he was running, desperately trying to get away from something else that was running through the crowd like a big oppressive group of people or something.

So this guy, keenly dressed in green and meticulously maintaining balance on snazzy platform shoes to accelerate his height to new levels of intoxication, pushed his way through the flowing crowds of the streets, careful not to knock anyone down, but certainly bumping into things. He seemed pretty well quicker than the big group of strangely oppressive individuals that wanted to probably beat him goofless, but watching someone be chased by a HUmar and a couple of RAcasts is like watching someone be tracked by a couple of rangers and a hunter. Sooner or later, the rangers are just gonna give up and shoot, and the hunter's gonna catch up and lay down the smack. I suppose that goes without saying, though.

So I'm watching this guy rampage through the crowd, desperately fleeing the group of oppressive individuals who seemed like they wanted to do something rather unpleasant to the guy that was running. I would imagine that each one very well may have had many curse words of great variety and varying vulgarity running through their heads at sporadic intervals. I think, at least. I can't imagine that someone would remain cool and calm, whether they were the hunter or the hunted. Or the ranger or the ranged. Whichever is more correctly applied to the described situation.

For some reason, through all of this, I was just standing there with a peculiar expression on my face, which I would describe had I actually seen it. Finally, after what seemed like paragraphs of time and information, this other tall Newman in snazzy Newman-like style clothing, likely purchased at one of the innumerable clothing shops in the city, came running toward me, and by chance, clunked into me. Perhaps this was deliberate, perhaps it wasn't, but I'm rather inclined to think it was, as he then looked me in the eyes, and thrust a couple of articles into my hands and said, "Take these, I'll find you to get them back at another time!" Or something to that effect. At this point, he madly ran in the direction he was headed in, and I calmly sidestepped the unwitting group of strangely oppressive individuals who were chasing the other guy.

So now, I had these objects. One was a large token-like object, designed to be placed in a proper receptacle, which would be worn, and it would light up slightly. I later figured this out to be a Section ID. I am as of yet, rather unclear of the exact identity of this Section ID, though all things considered, for a layperson non-hunters' guild member such as myself, such things are of little concern. Also in my hands, was a key and some manner of compact disc, which I was unclear of the purpose of, but figured that it probably contained some sort of vital information that I would eventually find had no purpose but to be of no purpose to me. Mind you, this was not a technique disk, which is considerably different in design. This was, rather, a data disc of some variety.

So that is how everything began. That is what started my whole involvement in this loopy ordeal, which I shall attempt to describe in the coming chapters of this writing.

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