The Princess, The Plot, and The Future
Chapter 1: The Princess
Once upon a time long, long ago, in the deepest reaches of space, there lived a princess whose name human tongues cannot pronounce, so we'll call her "The Princess". Her mother (The Queen) and her father (The King) ruled justly and honorably over an entire solar system. The King and Queen were kind, good-natured, well-loved rulers who believed that sharing their Solar System's wealth so that everyone could live peacefully and prosper equally. That being said, I’m sure you can see how utterly heartbreaking it was to them the day they realized their darling, beloved daughter was the nastiest, rudest little snot they have ever met.
"What will we do?" The King asked his wife as The Princess screamed and ponded her fists through the dessert she refused to eat because the royal chef used the wrong color icing around the edges.
"I... I have no idea," The Queen replied, watching in horror as her daughter hurled mushed cake at the chef who was trying to hide his large frame behind a wall tapestry.
The King chewed his pinky nail for a moment. Never in his life had he seen anyone act in such a way. Finally, he turned to The Queen and asked, "Has she always been this way?"
"No," she answered, but then she shifted her shoulders. "Well, there was that one time she threw all her Birthday gifts in the incinerator once she realized her cousin had received the same pair of shoes at Winter Solstice.”
"Ah, yes," said The King, stroking his beard and thinking back, "There was also the time she spit in my mother's face when she was asked to say 'please'."
"Hmmm.... I don't think I recall our daughter ever saying 'please'. Or 'thank you' for that matter."
The King stoop up straight, "Wait this very morning when she wanted a second muffin. I think she said 'please'. Yes, I believe she said, 'Servant, give me another muffin, please.'" He smiled, proud of himself and his daughter.
"No," The Queen said, shaking her head. "She said 'Servant, give me another muffin. Please me or perish.’"
"Oh, yes, now I remember,” he watched as The Princess shoved fistfuls of cake into the cowering chef’s mouth.”
Tears trickled down The Queen's cheeks, "How could we be so blind, darling?”
The King grabbed his wife and held her close, looking up and away towards the ceiling, "I don't know, dearest, but we'll fix it. We must. The Princess will one day be queen and will rule over this solar system. We cannot let her continue down this wretched path."
Later that evening, King and Queen convened their brightest and most loyal advisors. The advisors tried their absolute best to pretend that they had no idea The Princes was a rotten brat, a spoiled nightmare, and a generally unpleasant person to be around. That night, they devised a plan to teach The Princess some manners. They all tossed and turned in their beds that night, fretting over The Princess and their plot.
Chapter 2: The Plot
The Princess grumbled and stomped her way down to breakfast that morning as she had done every morning. If she were a little more awake or actually cared about others, she might have realized the absence of the bevy of servants, guards, and footmen. She did, however, realize the absence of the savory and sweet alien foods her chefs from each corner of the solar system prepared for her and her family. She looked at the empty table and dining hall and snarled, "Hey, where is everybody?" She waited a moment for a reply. Her royal belly rumbled. "Am I gonna wait all morning for everyone to get their fat heads off their pillows?"
She waited and again heard no rely. She stomped to her spot at the table. She looked around for a servant and decided to just pull her chair out herself. The Princess noticed a small note left on her plate. She opened it and it read:
We have decided to take breakfast in the hangar this lovely morning. Variety is the spice of life isn't it? We went to wake you, but you were sleeping so peacefully, we couldn't bring ourselves to disturb your beautiful slumber.
We'll be waiting in Bay 98.
Loves, hugs, and kisses,
Mom & Dad
The Princess roared and stomped down to the hangar. Once there, she could smell the sweet aroma of a dish human tongues would tingle with joy to taste. She followed her nose to find a steaming bowl resting in the captain's chair of a royal guard starship. She plopped down and slurped up the bowl’s contents. As a rather stinky belch rattled its way from her now full belly, two seat belts snaked around her waist and chest and locked, trapping her in the chair. The starship's engines hummed to life, and The Princess felt it lift up a few feet from the ground. The giant silver ship hovered towards the opening bay doors.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait a minute!” The Princess screamed as she pounded on the colorful, blinking buttons on the control panel before her. She pulled on the seat belt and thrashed against the chair as the spaceship zipped out the hangar and pointed its nose towards her planet's blue sky.
As the ship pierced her home world's atmosphere, The Princess’ parents appeared on the viewscreen. The King cleared he's throat, “Good morning, dumpling. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have a few questions..”
“You bet your stupid beard I have some questions, you slimy…” The Princess began gritting her teeth so tightly she heard crunching.
“Now, Darling Daughter,” The Queen said forcefully, raising her voice for the first time.
“You will not talk to your father or me or… or anyone else for that matter in that tone ever again, do you understand? We’re sending you to the outer reaches of our solar system. You WILL learn some manners, or you will not return, Little Missy.” And with that, the call abruptly ended. The starship was silent as she watched her planet grow smaller and smaller in the viewscreen.
The Princess turned her back to the screen. She had never be spoken to like that before. For once, she didn't feel angry or frustrated. She felt… sad. Before she could process her emotions any more, the starship jerked. She turned around to see a new planet on the view screen. One that was covered in equal parts ice, water and desert. The buttons on the control panel and lights in the cockpit flashed red. She hopped back in the captain’s chair and strapped herself back in. The the white, blue, and tan planet grew larger and larger as the starship hurled faster and faster through space towards it. The ship rattled as it entered the tricolor planet’s atmosphere. The snowy surface got closer and closer, but the did not slow. Something was not right.
The Princess closed her eyes and braced for impact. She dug her fingers into the chair’s armrest and bit her lip. She wondered if she would ever see her mother and father again. The starship smashed into the ice and rolled around and around on its sides until it slid into a large snow bank. The Princess stumbled out of the dented, upside down ship and lost her breakfast in the snow. She wiped her mouth and felt a little better. She looked around the white, frigid wasteland. She looked off in the distance and saw a dark figure wobbling around.
“Hey!,” The Princess yelled, “You! Come here!” She stomped towards it. “Get over here! do you know who I am?” She took two more steps and froze. She heard the dry cracking of ice. She looked down at her feet and breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t the ice beneath her. Then she turned around to her ship. The cracks spreading out from around it looked like a spider’s web.
“Oh, no, no, no,” she muttered as she ran towards the starship. The Princess slid to a stop as the ice finally broke around it and watched as it slowly sank into the frigid waters. “No!” she cried. “No, no, no!” Tears slid down her cheeks and froze before they hit the icy ground. She slumped over and started weeping. She was never getting home, and it was all her dumb parents’ fault. She snarled and hit the ice.
“Wawk?” a raspy voice inquired behind her. The Princess sat up and turned around to see a black and orange space penguin studying her. (Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Space Penguin?” Well, you see, the alien word for this creature is too difficult and complex for our human tongues to articulate and vocal chords to pronounce. It’s far easier just to call it a “space penguin”. You’re welcome. Also, they look a lot like our Earth penguins, except their bellies are orange instead of white. Oh, and space penguins can fly.)
The Princess stood and wiped away her tears. “About time you got over here,” she sniffed. “Help me get out of here, okay?”
The space penguin cocked its head, “Sqwawk?”
“Do you guys have, like, houses or anything? Take me someplace warm. With a communicator. I need to call some people and yell at them really, really loudly.”
The space penguin looked at her for a moment and blinked.
“Well? Are you going to help me or not?” The Princess put her hands on her hips and tapped her foot.
The space penguin turned around and waddled away from the noisy creature it had found.
“Wait! Where are we going?” The Princess ran after it. After an hour of waddling, walking, and what the space penguin thought was never-ending complaining, the two reached the border of where the icy and ocean sections of the planet meet. A flock of space penguins of various sizes waited for them at the shore. The space penguin who discovered The Princess joined them. The flock exchanged hushed squawks and chirps. Every once in a while, a space penguin would glance at The Princess.
"What are you talking about?" The Princess screamed at them. All the space penguins stopped and looked at her. "Don't you think it's a little rude? Totally ignoring me like this? Hello?" The space penguins looked at their comrade who brought the loud intruder across the frozen land. That particular space penguin looked down at his feet and sighed. The rest of his flock flew away. He waddled to The Princess and used his wing to usher to the icy shore.
"What were you dumb birds squawking about over there, huh? You gotta help me, you know,” The Princess said, almost pleading. The space penguin gave her one last sad look and with two flaps of his long, black wings was off to join his friends.
"Really? You're just gonna leave me here?" The Princess shouted after them. She balled up her fists and grit her teeth until she heard them crunch again. She stomped her foot so hard the ice around her cracked, and the hunk of ice she was standing on broke off from the shore and drifted off into the ocean. "Stupid space penguins," The Princess growled.
The Princess drifted with current south to the warmer air and waters. The waters were so warm in fact that her tiny ice berg became smaller and smaller the further south she traveled. The Princess cursed those space penguins. They could've easily carried her someplace with people. What did she ever do to them? The Princess stopped then and actually thought about what she had done. The yelling. The complaining. The insulting. She thought about her parents and why they sent her to this planet. Was this a part of their plan? Where they actually going to come and get her when she learned her stupid lesson? She felt a little bad about the way she behaved but was that enough? Then, once she found herself balancing on a block of ice barely big enough to fit both feet on, she began to panic. While she was spending that much-needed and past due time to reflect on her behavior, The Princess neglected to notice her shrinking ice raft and worsening luck.
As she was trying to balance on one foot on her little ice cube, she two space dolphins (Don't start. They look like dolphins, and you couldn't even imagine how difficult their name is to spell nevertheless to pronounce.) playing and splashing on the horizon.
"Hey!" The Princess shouted, but stopped. She thought of the space penguins and how it went. She couldn't afford to offend the space dolphins. She had never learned how to swim. She had an instructor, but he quit when she told him he looked fat in his bathing suit and asked what space krill tasted like. Anyway, she decided a new tactic was necessary. "Excuse me!" she called to them "Could you please help me?" The berg had shrunk so much that The Princess was on her tiptoes now. "Please hurry!"
Without hesitation, the two space dolphins splashed their way to The Princess. They reached her just as the rest of her personal iceberg dissolved, and she fell into the water. The space dolphins swirled around The Princess under the water, looking her over. The smaller one went under her while the larger watched. In a matter of seconds, the small space dolphin emerged from the water with the gasping royal on its back. The larger space dolphin squealed in triumph. The Princess held on to the space dolphin's dorsal fin as it cut through the water.
The Princess had never felt more alive. She forgot all about her predicament. Wind whipped her face and hair. For once, she was getting joy from something other than hurting some poor soul's feelings, and it felt amazing. She shot her fist up in the air and yelled out of pure happiness.
The two dolphins cross-crossed in front of each other and bobbed up and down as they soared towards the coast of the desert third of the planet. The dolphins took her to the shallows. The Princess hopped off her new friend's back exclaiming, "Wow! That was amazing!" The dolphins swirled around her once more. "Whelp," she said shaking her hair out. "Guess I'd better be on my way." She turned and walked away from the space dolphins, who looked at each other and back to The Princess. They let loose a loud squeal in unison. The Princess turned around. She could tell they wanted something but had no idea what. So, The Princess winked and gave them a thumbs up, saying "Later, guys." The pair turned around and slammed their broad tails down on the surface of the water, soaking the already wet Princess. Then, they swam away from the ungrateful little girl. "Rude," she shrugged and walked away.
The Princess stared out at the seemingly endless desert. She looked up and down the coast, looking for any signs of plant life or animals. The joy from the ride with the dolphins quickly vanished as she realized she was still far from safe. Off in the distance, she could see a figure. It might have been a man or possibly an animal, she couldn't tell. The waves of heat coming off the sand obscured his shape. She tore the soaking slip out from under her dress and held it over her head. The Princess sighed and started walking.
As she neared the figure, she could see it was a man with an animal. The man was tall and thin. His loose tunic that extended all the way down to his sandaled feet reminded her of The Queens dressing gown she would wear before bed. The Princess thought about how her mother would gracefully float to the side of her bed to kiss her goodnight. And how her father would let her ride on his shoulders up to her bedroom. She realized as she approached the man and his beast that she missed her parents a great deal and felt terrible about the way she treated them and everyone else she had ever met.
The man smiled and bowed to The Princess, "I was not expecting a royal visitor this day, your highness."
"Well, I wasn't expecting to visit your planet today, either," she said. The man was still kneeling. She was about to tell him to stop being weird and stand up straight, but then she remembered her manners. More specifically, she remembered the royal etiquette her tutor tried to teach her until he quit after a she threw her tea cup at him. The Princess bowed, and the man stood again.
"I am Jim, your highness,” the man said (That's right, "Jim". Not all alien words and names would cause our tongues to twist in knots.) Jim pat the large, four-legged beast on his shaggy head. "This is Stinky. He may not look like much, but he certainly does smell. What are you doing out here, if you don't mind my asking?"
The Princess cleared her throat, "You see, apparently, some people think I have been less than respectful or nice…” The Princess stopped and shook her head. "No, that's not right. I’ve never been respectful or nice. I was mean and rude and nasty and hateful and self-centered,” her eyes watered, “and my parents kicked me out. They sent me here to learn a lesson."
"And did you?" Jim asked.
"I did," she wiped away her tears and nodded. "I have a pretty good feeling, if I wasn't rude to some space penguins, I could've been home by now, and I upset some space dolphins."
"I see," Jim rubbed his beard. "Would you care for some help?"
"Yes, please!" The Princess exclaimed. Then, she cleared her throat, "If you'd be so kind, and if it wasn't much trouble." She gave him an uncomfortable smile.
Jim smiled much more easily back. "Don't worry, your highness. It won't be any problem at all." He reached his sleeve and pulled out a small communicator. "Royal One, this is Jim. I have her." He looked at The Princess and shook his head. "Can't believe it, but I think it actually worked."
Within moments, The King and Queen's giant flagship soared into view and landed just a few feet from The Princess and Jim. The landing platform extended and The King and Queen rushed to their daughter. The Princess ran to them and hugged her parents for the first time, well, ever.
"I'm so sorry," The Princess began to cry. "I'll never, ever be that way again."
The Queen wiped away her tears and smiled, "Do you really mean it?"
The Princess nodded and looked up to her father, "Can we please go home now?"
The King wiped one of his own tears away, "Of course, darling."
Together, they walked back to the ship. the Princess stopped and turned to Jim, "Thank you."
"I didn't do much," he hopped on Stinky's furry, tan back. "I just made a call."
The Princess thought for a moment and whispered something to her mother. The Queen smiled. Before they left the three-in-one world, they stopped by the shore where the hot sands meet the ocean, and The Princess thanked the space dolphins who helped her and presented them with of her home world's finest fish from the ship's galley, which they quickly devoured. Then, they flew to icy shores of the planet's North Pole and found the space penguins she had disrespected. Her former guide waddled to her.
"I'm sorry," she said. "Thanks for helping me when I most certainly didn't deserve it. I hope there aren't any hard feelings." The space penguin waddled back to his friend, and they squawked amongst themselves for a moment. The mass of space penguins waddled together to The Princess. They huddled around her and enveloped her with their long wings. She put her head down and whispered, "Thank you. I promise I'll be different from now on.”
Chapter 3 - The future
The Princess kept her promise. It wasn't easy, and she wasn't perfect, but she made an effort each day to be better than the day before. When she became Queen, she ruled the Solar System just her parents did - fairly and justly. Much later on, when her son was born, she had a feeling that he would be a bright, shining example of royal politeness and courtesy. If not, she kept Jim's number in her communicator.