A large landing bay in a space port on some far away planet. A vessel is moments away from departing for the milky way galaxy for scientific research on Venus. Snart, a surveyor working for the owner of the space port, is crossing the bay.
“Evening Snort.” Says Snart, manoeuvring his way towards the spacecraft. Inside, Snort is reading a newspaper. He turns his head and raising a tendril to shield from the bright star glare, fixes his eye on Snart.
“Snart. How are you?” Enquires Snort.
“Yeah I'm good, busy as usual.” Snart shuffles on the ground and scratches his head. “You're heading near the Earth system today, aren't you?”
“Yeah. I'm heading towards Venus, Why?”
“I need a ride to Earth. I'm covering Snurt today, Earth southern hemisphere. Biodiversity.”
“Aha, right-o. You can come along with me, what region are you going?”
“I neeeeeeed...” Snart pulls a sheet of paper from his pocket and checks the information on it. “I need the south polar region. I'm checking Krill density near the south pole.”
“Sounds like a fun job, I like a swim. Well it'll be good to have some company, mate. The run to the milky way is a bloody boring one. Have you got Snurts access card?” Snart pauses and moves his eye from side to side.
“Snurt's gone and lost his card, waiting on a new one. I've checked in about and they said the forecast is good, I can fly without one this time.”
“I see...and you're bringing a prober along?” Snort indicates a case being carried by Snart; a black holdall with PROBEX 227 written along the side.
“It's only a prober bag, there's an organic scanner in here.” Say's Snart, turning to make his way to the passenger side of the vehicle. Snort begins stroking the gastric pod under his chin.
“I see...Snart?” Calls Snort, some realisation dawning on him.
“What?” Snaps Snart.
“Snart...are you going probing again?” Snarts hair bristles nervously. His eyes quickly dart to the left then re-centre.
“No! No, I gave that up!”
“Alright, no problem. Hop in the passenger side.” Snart walks around and enters the cab on the passenger side. “What are you doing with the Krill?”
“Eh? Ah the Krill, just seeing what the concentration is like, will need 2 days.” Snart blinks his one eye, which then trembles left to right slightly. He shuts the door and the shuttle begins to light up. Snort busily consults the control panel, making ignition checks and sending messages to the control tower in a series of clicks and light flashes. The vessel lifts about twenty feet off the ground, tilting it's nose upwards. A clearance signals comes to him from control. Snort acknowledges the order with a tendril in the air, then the vessel departs. Snart is quietly watching the bobbing chimp on the control panel, twiddling his pseudopodia together.
“What?” Snaps Snart.
“Come on Snart, you don't have to pretend with me. We've been working together for three years, you're not yourself today, too shifty for one thing...I know you're going probing...” There was a protracted silence, both occupants of the vehicle facing forward into oncoming space. Snart blinks. “You know I used to probe, myself. There are services available to you, you don't have to keep up this charade.”
“...I'm not...I was just...”
“Come off it Snart. It's glaringly obvious what you're up to, now.” Snart spins his head around angrily towards Snort.
“What the hell are you talking about? I'm covering for Snurt today. I'm going to the southern pole of Earth to check the Krill density, like I already told I was doing so get off my fucking case, ok?”
“Ok, ok. No worries...” The two face out into open space again. Snart looks to his right, breathing out with a huff of anger. He watches something in the distance collide with a large, dimly burning star, which in turn explodes sending a hail of fragments in all directions. “How are Snuurt and Snaat keeping?” Asked Snort.
“...They're fine, thanks. Both still in school. Watch out on the right, there's a star shower and I've not brought my visor.” Snort looks over towards the fray and twitches his nose indifferently.
“Ah, that's no problem, just a little tiddler of a shower. I'll tint the outer window to reflect any passing pieces...” Beyond the screen of the vehicle, the stars dim slightly as the tint comes down. “And how about Sneeert?” Enquires Snort. The short, cropped bristles on Snarts head begin to quiver and his antenna start to turn a slightly brighter pink.
“She's...” Snart began, then paused again. Snort again turned from space and noticed the aggressive body language on his colleague. He turned back again, glancing to the right to check the progress of the collisions fallout.
“You know, when I used to go probing I thought there was no better buzz to be had, I was touching the nebula. It didn't take very long before I started getting carried away, working late on primitives planets, covering shifts for free. I couldn't just probe one Human, I needed a whole group. I couldn't just probe a Cow, Snart...I needed to do the whole herd." Snart was nervously stonewalling, facing forward but anable to focus. Twitching and fiddly. "There came a time when I knew I needed to stop. I had stopped probing in the name of science, it was all about me. But it was for nobody else to say that I should stop, I had to struggle on until I hit rock bottom. I'd like to save you that pain Snart..." Snort took a ,deep breath and resolutely focused his eye. "I woke up one day with the PROBEX 664b lantern javelin lying beside me, and a dead, fully probed Whale in the cargo space. My mouth tasted of Human Pineal gland..." Snort turned toward Snart, who this time met his gaze, this new information affirming the bonds the two Andromedans shared.
"Snort...I read about that, that was you? I never knew..."
"Some of the things in a human being are such an experience, there's no denying that. I thought nothing else could compare with it. I wish somebody had told me back then though, Snark. A veteran of the early probing expeditions when we didn't understand the risks. It was a difficult road to walk alone.” Snort checked the right side. The star shower had all but passed, just a few dull balls drifting here and there. He removed the tint on the screen and set the control to autopilot. He got up out of his seat and went to a drink dispenser behind the cockpit.
“Do you want a drink?” He asked the now quietly contemplative passenger. Snart looked up, the stony glazed face and rust coloured antenna of a much calmer Andromedan.
“Yeah, go on. Can you bring me a coca cola?” Snort collected two tins and returned to the pilot seat. He passed one tin to Snart and opened his own.
“Thanks...I'm sorry about this, Snort...I shouldn't have tried to pull the tendril over your eye. And thank for being so honest about it all, I appreciate it.” Said Snart, finally surrender the pretense.
“That's ok...you know I spent 2 years at probers anonymous, I couldn't have given up without them.” Snort took a long draught of the drink then ate the can. Snart followed suit close behind. “Some of the older ones there, the heavy probers who have been doing it since the early expeditions, you need to speak to those guys. They went beyond, alot never fully come back. Probing is their every waking thought. I was lucky to have been dropped off at support when I did, believe you me...nobody wants to be an old prober.” There is another long silence but without the tension of earlier. Much more serenity to this silence. Without turning, Snort sends a pseudopod over to Snart and rests it on his shoulder. Snart draws away slightly, then settles down again, acceptance etched into his face.
“Ok...” Said Snart.
“Hmm?” Replies Snort, turning his head this time.
“Ok, I'll go to a probers anonymous session.”
“...Good...you won't regret it, there are some great Andromedans there, some great wisdom to be had, you'll see. But we've started a job now, you can do that when we get back. You've got Krill densities to read first. You're covering for Snurt, remember?”
“...Yes.” Replies Snart.
“Good...Don't let me down will you? Don't let yourself down, Snart.” Snort looks firmly at the side of Snarts head, scrutinizing, his brow clenched tightly above his eye. He retrieves his tendril and returns his attention towards the space lane ahead once more.
“I won't, Snort. I'll go when we get back.” Snart looks reassuringly at Snort, nods and turns forward again. Snort follows suit. Outside the screen the dense cloud is pocked by tiny bright green stars. Snarts eye turns fractionally towards Snort again. A faint wisp of a smile cracked on the right side of his mouth, then, just as stealthily, it disappeared back into reverie and innocence. Both eyes were fixed forward as the craft ploughed on into the billowing dust cloud and off into the cosmos towards Earth.