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The soft under-flesh of Oberon's longest tentacle explored the cool, silky row of rectangular levers. They shivered an invitation, but he did not press down. "An interesting contraption, Magnifico."

The Dean of Ethology unfurled from the back of his private bubble which was attached to his teaching pod. He replaced Oberon in front of the machine and laid the tips of his eighty tentacles on each lever. "We found plans and images in the latest space junk box. We suspect it is from Eth."

Oberon's skin flooded with blue, the colour of interest, curiosity, and pleasure. The machine filled most of the bubble. "I'm glad you found plans. This thing is too big to fit in a junk box."

"But wait, my friend." Magnifico turned red with purple patches. "Open your channels to this!" His tentacles rippled over the levers, pressing them in what at first seemed a chaotic manner.

Sound patterns flowed out of the sleek, seductively shaped body of the machine. Percussive pitches stroked a quarter of the range of Oberon's vibration sensors. He began recognising exquisite lacing amid the patterns. His skin flashed through his entire repertoire of colours and his life meter threatened overload.

He unfurled toward Magnifico. "Stop! Stop!" he pleaded. "I ... Give me a moment to assimilate. This is ecstasy!"

Magnifico rippled to a gentle stop and the machine fell silent.

"What is it?" Oberon begged. "The effect is profound. It arouses natures in me I don't understand. When you..." Oberon rippled his tentacle tips in the air, imitating Magnifico pressing the levers, "...the agony is more than I can bear, though I long to grow accustomed to it. When you stop..." he clutched his body where his life meter still pulsed colours. "...I cannot bear the absence. Tell me more. Make it do that again!" He furled his tentacles around his life meter and closed his eyes. "Gently, old friend. Talk me through the discovery and build."

Magnifico pressed the levers one at a time and a simple pattern flowed through Oberon's channels. Magnifico glowed orange to speak of his pleasure sharing this discovery. "The plans came with instructions. I think it is a language." He looked up at Oberon. "Fully codified." An image of lines and dots appeared in the air over the machine. "I see that you too respond to the code. Can you tell me what you get from it? Any recognisable communication?"

"No, Magnifico," Oberon drawled, his mind utterly consumed with the experience. "Only impulses, longings, desires I never knew I had and am shy to express even to you."

Magnifico pulsed brighter orange. "This little pattern I'm rippling is called, roughly translated, 'Pulse and shimmer oh celestial body of light.' Open now to this!" He rippled a more complicated pattern around and interlaced with the Celestial Body pattern.

Oberon shimmered and pulsed. "Ecstasy, my friend. What will you do with this machine? The ruling counsel ..."

Magnifico laughed. "Based on your reaction, Oberon, I will rule the world with my Pinnanio."

Oberon unfurled toward the bubble membrane. The last time Magnifico spoke like this the ruling counsel had docked them each a tentacle.

As he reached the membrane, the patterns shackled his mind. He furled and relaxed into the lulling rhythm.

“This is Mozz Art, dear Oberon.” Magnifico crooned to the melody. “The ruling counsel cannot resist it. This time I’ve really got them.”

Copyright 2023 - SFS Publishing LLC

Oberon's Obsession

Nicola MacCameron





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