Chapter 1: Zarquon the Great
Every society has as its primordial basis the collection and consumption of food. from this eventually comes the trio of questions, What shall we eat, how shall we eat, and where shall we eat, that defines a cultures progress. Some cultures, like the subcuticlious dandelion of Charliebravo Four progressed rapidly past the first question (crusty fingernail fragments), went past the second quite rapidly (by knawing off the skin of the parasitiic blinkobeast that infests the spicies to whom the fingernails belong in the first place and using said skin to scrape off previosly said fingernail flakes). But that said said, they have not passed the third stage because they cannot get up and move off the parasitic blinkobeasts which themselves don't move off of the Woolymart beasts on which they reside.
Of course, the Woolymart has tried many times to get rid of the Blinkobeasts, by devising various pesticides and even, at the suggestion of an odd-looking bipedal in a nightgown, tried something called a "blue-light special", but as yet, had thoroughly and utterly failed. This was an instance of the development of a complex culture being hindered by outside circumstances, and often happened to very intelligent, advanced species. Other species, meanwhile, merely made their food collection process abundantly difficult, and spent so much time doing that that they didn't have much time to evolve or even have too much fun..
These pathetic speiceis were generally looked down upon by the rest of the universe, except by the great Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, which took great pride in swindling away as much money as siriusianly possible.
By the twenty-first century AD on the planet Earth, food collecting had become very compicated. Altthough no one completely understood it, most outsiders, after watching the numerious exchanges of oddly colored paper, uunweildy round iimprinted disks, and long sharp pointed objects, became convinced that it workedd something like this: Having enough unweildy metal disks, one could get small pieces of paper, with which one could purchase a long sharp pointy object, which could be usued to acquire more metal or paper, which could be used to purchase more large sharp pointy objects, which could be sold for more paper, which could be used to hire lawyers in defense of the use of the large sharp pointy objects, who then took the paper for themselves, got fat, and once a year donated one small copper round thing to charity to keep the cycle moving. Of course it was obvious that it would be much more simple just to melt the round metal thiingies down and make more bigger long sharp pointy knives, or, better yet, guns, or, evern better yet, Kill-O-Zap ray guns, and then use them on the lawyers and use the paper as fertilyzer for some food which everyone could they share, but the people on the planet where too backwards to notice, and the people in the universe didn't care. As the Hitchhiker's guide eventually described it, "paper beat metal, knife beat paper, metal, in the form of a shield, beat knife, which was in tuurn beaten by paper once again, and the whole process continues with a game much like paper, rock, scissors." This new game, of course, became an instant success, and if the planet had known about it it could have recieved tremendous royalties and never have had to deal with paper, metal or knive, but it was jsut a backwater planet in an unfashionable arm of the MilkyWay galaxy that would never amount to anything.
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
Orbiting this at a distance of roughtly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primaitive that they still think digial watches are a pretty neat idea.
This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutiions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of the were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.
Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake ini coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had benen a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.
And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice topeople for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally new how the world colud be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
Sadly, however, before she couludd get to a phone to tell anyone about it, at terrible, stuupid catastrophe occrred, and the idea was lost for ever.
Fortunately, during that terrbile catastrophe, the young girl was magically transported to a not-parrallel not-universe onto another not-earth. Unfortunately, she forgot everything. Fortunately, she met a thoroughly unremarkable man named Arthur Dent. Unfortunately, being thoroughly unremarkable, he did little to help her memory. Fortunately, she soon dissappeared from the not-parrellel not-universe just as remarkably as she had arrived in it. This is fortuunate, becuase it enabled her to save, life, the universe, and everything, including Arthur Dent.
Time travel, is of couurse, nothinig new. Neither is it anything old. In fact, it isn't anything but there. And it's not really there, but rather when. In fact, it may or may not have been invented yet, but it doesn't matter because whenever it was invented iit went back to whenever, which was a good bit of time before now, and when now finally came it had already been invented whenever, so in the great Encyclopedia Galactica, where it lists the year time travel was invented, it merely says "yes." Which is all anyone usually asks for. Except, of course, for Fenchurch.
Fenchurch, the thoroughly remarkable girl connected to the thoroughly unremarkable Arthur Dent, was really quite remarkable, especially compared to Arthur Dent, who was not. Part of this remarkableness came from the great idea she had when she was a young girl. Most of it did not. Most of it came when she became the first person to time travel.
One day, when crossing vast interstellar distances through hyperspace, with Arthur Dent, she dissappeared. Or so Arthur thought. She really was called upon by the great Zarqoun, just seconds after the universe was brought into existence. She was called upon him becasue he was great, because he wanted to know what the creatures of the universe wanted from their god, and, more importantly, he was bored. It happened something like this:
(Zarqoun) "Would you care for a tunwich sanda?
(Zarqoun) "I said, would you care for a tnwich sundra?"
(Zarquon) "I said...oh never mind." He then sent her back in time and finished chewing the mouthful of tna sandwich he was chewing on.
Seeing as how Zarquon smmoned her to the beginning of time, and then sent her back farther in time, Fenchurch ended up arriving before the beginning of time. But, as the great Encyclopedia Galactica says, "space and time are essentially a giant sphere. Which means each one is a circle, and when put togeather, they make a sphere." Now this is total and utter bull created to keep the editors from doing any real research. However, it is essentially true. And it was, essentially, what happened to Fenchurch. Before the beginning of time, then, was the end of time. And as every good spacefarer knows, at the end of time there was only one thing: Milliways. And as every good Guide reader knows, it was owned and run by a beautiful lady with a funny name.
Chapter 3: The Grebulons.
The Grebulons had a problem. They didn't know how long they had had this problem for. They didn't know how to fix this problem. They only knew that they didn't know. That was becasue their memory core, carrying their mission statements and their personal memories had been wiped out by a meteor impact. So they savaged what little information they could, and sat down to carry out what little of the mission they knew about: they monitored. They didn't know what they were to monitor, but seeing as how there was only one solar system nearby, with only one habitable planet, they sat on the tenth planet of the solar system and watched the little blue green world revolve.
Eventually, they got tired of performing a mission they ddin't know if they were supposed to be performing and decided to do something to determine what they should do.. After much debate, they decided on the most advanced method available to them: astrology. Unfortunately, all of the systems astrological charts had been made from the third planet of the system, not the tenth. To help, they abducted a astrophysicist -turned -newscaster named Tricia. She helped them, videotaped the entire encounter, went back to her homeworld, and was promptly annihilated along with her world. Oh well, thought the Grebulons.
Or at least, most of them thought that. Except for the one they called number six. He was actually second in command, but they named him before they understood rank, arabic numbers, or how good a boxer he was. And when he saw how horrible his week was, he convinced number nineteen, who was actually the leader and who was going to have a horrible horrible month, to let him do something. As the entire earth was being destroyed in every single dimension, one trendy southern london night club was being mysteriously pulled towards Rupert, the tenth planet in the solar system.
Until, that is, the vogons saw it.
Oh well, thought number six, as he sifted through the wreckage. Eventually, he found a juke box, with only 14 elvis albums intact, a small stuffed walrus, a deck of cards, and a small wristband which bared the word, "Random." And oh yes, the small girl inside the wristband.
Chapter 4: recovering the memories..
As Random lay recovering on the Grebulon planet, she reflected on her life. Unfortunately, she was rather young, and had neither much of a life to reflect on or the experiences which made reflection possible. So basically, she thought abouut how often she had been screwed. First, her mother did not have a husband. She was artificially inseminated. Then, she was dropped off at the father's who she didn't even know existed and became an apprentice sandwich maker. Finally, she met her mother from a different universe, then her mother from her dimension, then killed a being named agrajag, and then felt the homeworld she had never lived on being blown up. Her last words, at least in that life, were, "Where do I fit?"
As it happened, she "fit" on Rupert. The Grebulons idolized her. She was the first being they had met in that solar system who had never seen earthen television. So they kept themselves wonderfully busy re-enacting the most dramatic and poignant episodes of "The Brady Bunch," "Sally Jesse," and "The Price is Right," for her. And slowly, it seemed she recovered a sort of cultral identity of herself. Of course, the culture no longer existed, but that didn't matter to her. She belonged somewhere now, even if it was with a cloud of dust.
Eventually she learned from the Grebulons the terrible story of their loss of memory. She was genuinely touched by their account, or rather their lack of it.. It was the first time that she had ever felt pity, love, or any emotion other than anger towards anyone. So to help them feel better, she began to pretend that she had a mysterious ability to see into their past and know their histories. Of course she was bluffing, but seeing as how Venus was rising in Capricorn while Jupiter was crossing through the mist that was Earth, it was very obvious that, as a Pisces, she had to be telling the truth. So the Grebulons believed her.
Random started slowly at first, creating bits and pieces having to do with family and relatives. Eight was married, fourteen was not. Sixteen had twelve different children, all to different mothers.. Six, (whom she was especially fond of) was really the leader, while nineteen was really head of the janitorial staff. She was getting ready to let it rest at that, but then the Grebulons, realizinig that if she knew their rank she probably also knew their mission ini full, began pressurinig her. So Random collected the details of their histories, and made up the story. It went something like this:
The Grebulons, it seemed, had been on a research mission. Their research was to be included in the forthcoming edition of a wholly remarkable book, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." This researching included monitoring the recently bulldozed planet Earth, the myseterious Perfectly Normal Beasts, Trillian McMillan, the interstellar newscaster, Arthur Dent, a wholly unremarkable person, and just about anything else from the recent past that sprang to Random's mind.
The Grebulons were quite satisfied with this for a time, approximately 15 seconds, until they realized that Earth was destroyed, as was Trillian, Arthur, and everyone else Random came up with, except of course for the Perfectly Normal Beasts, of which they had no idea where they were. This cauused quite the consternation, and the Grebuulons wondered if perhaps Random could also fortell the future, and let them in on what was in store for them to do next. It was at this time that absoluely nothing of any interest happened to Random.
Chapter 5: Milliways.
"Oh Zarquuon, Arthur's ouut there. What am I going to do!" screech Fenchurch to the meat of the day.
"Why worry about it," he replied. "I've been exercising right, I should have a magnificant marbled texture, one bite of me and he'll forget all about you."
"I don't want him to forget me! I love him! I love him I love him I love him!" Fenchurch was clearly qiute excited. "Why don't you go out and see if he mentions me. Or, better yet, send Old Thrashbarg the 1,652nd over to records and see if he can find out what happens to Arthur after he leaves for his own time." And with that Fenchurch hurried off to the back recesses of her restraunt, hiding from the man she thought she had lost long ago.
Thrashbarg, meanwhile, was looking through the sandwich maker's records. Born: Earth. lived: Earth, cargo hold, cave, Earth 2, ship, Earth 3, Earth 2, Krikkit, Earth. Died: Earth. In a terrible attack by a weird expensive bird. Ouch. After saving the universe. Three times. And beiing a superb sandwich maker apparently. Wow. Not really caring, he saved all of the information and gave it to Fenchurch.
Fenchurch, meanwhile, found some very interesting information in the documents Thrashbarg gave her.
Chapter 6: The Abolishing of Debt.
The green things on earth, though outdated, existed on many planets in many different shapes and colors.. Eventually, the papers were replaced by plastic, then Antolian Water slugs, then plastic again, and then by computerized pieces of information. Through all of this transition from paper, which rotted, to plastic, which everyone could get through highly selective services such as American Express, to Antolian Water slugs, which died and smelled, and then back to plastic, much of the symbolic elements of the original paper was forgotten. Which was more than a little bit of a problem. The only people who were riich no were those who either owned Antolian Water Slug farms or those who collected dead and smelly Antolian Water Slugs. So eventually, President Dinky Rodd, tired of people making fun of his name, declared all currency null and void, and entered balances into the computer based on his friends credit card numbers, which he had stolen long ago.
Eventually, however, he ran out of friends, and then out of stolen credit cards, so he didn't know how much money the rest of the population should have. So he invited them into his palace over the course of the next 4 years of the remaining 6 on his term and let them tell him how much money they had before he wiped it out, and how much that was worth now compared to how much everyone else had. So through this, a number of people became quite rich. Buut iit took far far too long. The Antaerean Civil Service, at that time the backbone of the galactic government, was backlogged for a period of several years entering in new data. And so many people starved. Except, of course, those who were rich enough to own vast food stores to begin with, and those strong enough to steal the vast food stores from those who were rich enough to begin with.
In the end, President Rodd simply opened up the governmental database to everyone and allowed them to input their own monetary figure. Quite quickly the entire galaxy became phenomonaly wealthy, threatening the stability of the universal economy. Fortunately, from the future a number of successful backers stepped forward and loaned money to the galactic government and numerous businesses that suddenly found themselves owing hundreds of gazillions of BigRods (the new soon-to-be discarded monatary term decided on by Presiden Rodd) to their employees. And the stabliity of the galactic economy was restored to everyone except the honest people. But being honest, they tended to mostly annoy everyone else, and no one really missed them very much. And of course some people complained that they were mortgaging the future, which everyone knew was a horrible idea, but it was soon pointed out that they were really mortgaging the present, which was okay. And from this incident, galactic debt was abolished in Rodd's time, as the future couldn't collect until, well, the future.
No one of course knew how far away this future was, but the talking cow who made the deal for the backers was always ready to assuure them that it was a long way off..