A/N: ...I begin to suspect that I regard certain prompts as dares, and my self-control is non-existent.
The prompt was, 'Mycroft is abducted by aliens'. The actual title of this fic is ((U+C+I) x (10-S))/20 x A x 1/(1-sin(F/10)), the equation to measure the likelihood of Mycroft's appearance in some beleaguered alien captain's life. Or Sod's Law, whichever.
Theta Omicron 3 and all related info is the brainchild of a member of the great Anonymous.
Not-Appearing-In-This-Fic: The Cravolds Alliance.
The thing about Earth, the captain thought gloomily - apart from the fact that it was a total backwater planet under the influence of rampant consumerism, not a species on it capable of manned flight out of their own solar system, for Omega's sake - was that it was in the middle of a busy route, directly on the way home, and it was fast becoming a Tradition.
He understood all about letting off steam, of course he did, but was it really necessary to pick up a native and take it for a ride every time they went past?
Granted, he admitted Beethoven was good, but they never managed to pick him up. No, they always got members of fauna so stupid it really was a wonder the planet had lasted so long. They were usually members of the dominant species too - or the species that thought it was the dominant one anyway, and none of the others seemed inclined to inform them otherwise, despite how many times the crew tried to get the insects to do so.
It was depressing, frankly, no matter how much entertainment their guests usually provided.
Humans did do good entertainment. There was a system eagerly anticipating the next Star Trek episode, waiting to see who would be unintentionally insulted next. The Vulcanians, for instance, had never lived the imaginary connection down; their lexicon was rapidly expanding to include 'Trek' as a curse nearly on par with 'Belgium'.
Speaking of - what kind of planet had an entire country named Belgium? His crew were (supposedly) professionals, and every time, every single time, they all ran to the viewports, giggling, trying to be the first to exclaim 'I see Belgium!'
They never managed to get Tintin either. It was almost enough to drive him to drink.
Half his crew had learned at least one popular human language just to be able to make fun of the natives, and the other half just knew the curse words. Omega only knew what they'd do if he said no to picking up the natives. Riots, possibly. At the very least there would be exclamations of 'but everyone's doing it!' and 'I bought the costume specifically!'
"A few last minute checks, then. Everybody got their costumes?" he said mildly.
Everybody nodded beneath their big-eyed 'Grey' suits.
"Let me remind you - again - that after the Bubba Incident, you are no longer permitted to take a human from America."
There was a groan.
"I know, I know, 'everybody else does' but frankly, you're lucky we didn't get banned from the entire system and have to change our route."
"The answer is always going to be 'no' where Ziggy is concerned, so don't even bother."
The crew slumped as one. Strange, when he could never get them to stand straight as a unit.
"I know you miss him, but that diplomatic incident almost cost us our trading licence."
"No, we cannot keep looking for Tintin."
The crew slumped even further.
"I know you do it just because you like to say 'Belgium'."
Sniggers and embarrassed giggles.
"This time there is going to be no diplomatic incident. No 'sir, I've lost the native!' No 'can we keep it, please, please, please?' For once you are going to pick up a native, give it a tour, put it right back where it came from, and nobody ends up dead, maimed, drunk or in the Legion. Yes? Understood?"
"Right. Now, this blobby little island here came up on the random generator. You may have one human - that's one, not 'one' and the mob it happened to be travelling with - from this country to bring on board."
A ragged cheer as a fight broke out for the controls. Sometimes he didn't know why he bothered.
There was a reluctant blurble from the controls, almost as if the transporter itself wasn't entirely sure it should be doing this, and the human appeared.
It glanced around, tapping a furled umbrella against the floor. "Hm," it said mildly. "Interesting."
English, he noted abstractly; the human language he'd chosen to learn, given his crew's former propensity for Americans. He looked at his crew. He'd been perfectly ready to break out the old favourite, 'we come in peace' but the human's utter disinterest in its suddenly changed surroundings had put him off his stride and left him rather unsettled.
It strode over to the waiting chair - normally the humans needed to be strapped down to the table for an hour or two of yelling and screaming before they were calm enough for the chair, though - and sat down, elegantly crossing its ankles. "Well?" It said.
"Well?" He echoed, bemused.
The human gave him a Look he hadn't known was possible from a non-member of the cold-blooded race found on Epsilon 5 known for eating enemies.
"Introductions," it said patiently, almost as if it was patronising him. It sighed heavily when he continued to stare in blank confusion at the way things had suddenly been turned upside down. "Do introduce yourself, it's only polite."
He flailed about for a moment. With the number (and type) of humans his crew managed to pick up, you'd think experience would count for something. "Human tongues are incapable of correctly pronouncing my name."
"Really." It said. "In that case, I do believe I shall call you 'Bob'."
'Bob' wondered if the human knew that was a mild insult in his language. Then chided himself that of course the human couldn't know that, a member of a silly ignorant little race incapable of leaving its own doorstep.
"Sit down, Bob," the human said, rapping its umbrella sharply against the table. "We have much to discuss."
"Discuss?" 'Bob' said, bewildered. This was not at all how it usually went.
"Yes, discuss," the human agreed. "Sit."
"There now, isn't that better?"
'Bob' exchanged a glance with his crew. His crew looked about as helpless as he felt.
"Good... 'Bob'. First of all, I'm afraid, you must sign these forms. Here, here, here and here, please, and then again on the copies."
He stared at the mass of folded documents the human pulled from its pockets.
"It is in triplicate," the human said helpfully, "but what do you expect these days? Sign."
Feeling somewhat as if he'd drunk something very dangerous and that the universe had started swaying, he signed.
"Now, Bob-" maybe it was cultural bias, but somehow 'Bob' in the human's voice managed to have a genteelly dismissive tang to it. "Pour me a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster and tell me everything. I imagine I will be very interested in the workings of your technology. Be precise. Leave nothing out."
The crew perked up a bit. No human they'd ever swindled into drinking a Gargle Blaster remained boring/threatening/vaguely intelligent.
It only occurred as they were toasting the human that it really shouldn't have known what a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster was.
"Sweet zombie Jesus," someone moaned, someone who was no longer going to be allowed to watch human entertainment, "Wh-wh-wha' ha-happ'n'?"
"Flurble-burble-wurble," said another.
"Ni," someone said, possibly in reply to 'flurble'. "Ni-ni-ni-ni."
"Paper," the captain managed, having finally grasped the outdated word and throttled it until it agreed it was the one he wanted. "Paper." What he meant to say was 'there's a piece of paper in my hand that has a very large, very clear symbol on it, purposely designed to be easily recognisable by the hung-over, and I have a dreadful feeling this means we have joined the ranks of the Omicron Foreign Legion of Theta Omicron 3', but of course, he was in no condition for that.
Fortunately, everybody was drunk enough to be on the same basic wavelength (just a step above brain-dead) and realised he meant 'look at the paper with the pretty picture'. They all made an earnest attempt to look, even if some of them were still convinced they were blind.
Theta Omicron 3 is known for its very peculiar orbit. Affected by two inner planets and seventeen outer planets, it orbits the sun on a close ellipse for about fifty years, and then enters a fairly distant orbit for about thirty-seven years (during which it is not, in fact, the third planet in the system, but the eighth. This is the source of some contention from traditionalists who insist calling the place Theta Omicron 8 for thirty-seven years). The years during Theta Omicron 3's close orbit are called 'light-years' (a source of great confusion and irritation to everyone else) and the years during the distant orbit are 'dark-years'.
Theta Omicron 3 is also known for its Foreign Legion. Its proudest leader once remarked that it was filled with 'the very scum of the galaxy'. That is regarded as something of an understatement.
Standard enlistment is for twenty years of whichever type the planet happened to be in when you drank enough to think enlisting was a good idea, and if you happened to enlist during the last year of a close or distant orbit... suicide was always an option. A pretty good one, all things considered.
Someone - presumably the one capable of a near-complete sentence - let loose a string of profanities in his native tongue. At someone else's burble of confusion, he tried to explain: "The-the-theta Om-mo-mn-m-"
"Belgium!" screamed another member of his crew, evidently having reached the punch line before the other could remember how to use their tongue.
He stared at the enlistment papers for the Omicron Foreign Legion. He looked around dazedly. He was naked. His crew was naked. He had enlistment papers saying the Foreign Legion owned him for the next twenty light-years. And his ship was nowhere to be seen.
He took a deep breath. He carefully, carefully opened the fingers of his other hand, and peered blearily at a very different set of papers.
It took an obscenely long time for the dancing figures to make sense, but eventually he realised he'd signed documents agreeing to hand over technology and information, not to mention his ship.
And there wasn't a loophole to be seen. There was, however, a neat little inscription on the last page:
Pleasure doing business with you. MH.
Pleasure doing business with you. MH.
He joined the screams of 'Belgium!'