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Star Date 2549. The end of the last millennium’s wars left Earth’s galaxy divided into four quadrants, each one respectively under the jurisdiction of the Nylonites, the Rayonites, the Dacronites, and lastly, our Earth quadrant overseen by a coalition called the Spandextrians.

Because critical resources that used to be scarce could easily be replicated through technology invented years ago, there was no such thing as precious substances whether animal, vegetable, or mineral. Thanks to replicators, silver, gold, diamonds, and even water, were common and valueless, which created a new era in commerce. Commodities were no longer traded. The only thing of value was the creative arts, which gave new meaning to the phrase, “I picked it up for a song.”

But the one commodity that still held its value was the one that replicators were not able to reproduce. And that’s where I come in. I am Juan Valdez XXIII, the Intergalactic Coffee Commissioner and High Commander of the Java Force.

The coffee bean has a mysterious atomic structure that had eluded scientists from breaking it down to copy and reproduce technologically, despite massive amounts of research and trial and error experiments.  And thus, it is the one item of trade that is sought after and coveted. And fought over.

Earth is the only location where coffee beans can be grown. And it is the one planet that is constantly the subject of java-hungry alien invasions and attacks. He who rules the coffee bean rules the universe.

I received word that a small, radical faction of the Rayonites were about to enter our sector posing as used spaceship salesmen (the industry prefers the term previously-owned spaceships). As the vessels they were traveling in were detected to be empty cargo ships, it suggested they would try to hijack a large coffee shipment heading for the Dacronites, which had just left a Columbian spaceport two days ago.

Despite a three-hundred-year-old treaty, there was still bad blood between factions of the Rayonites and Dacronites which had begun after the last war ended and the Rayonites felt they were cheated out of a favorable allotment of coffee beans due to the son of the Rayonites supreme leader marrying my daughter.

I had two choices. Mediate the dispute between the Rayonites and the Dacronites in the Intergalactic Council, or use the full force and might of our Java Force to head off the invaders. I chose the latter, as radical Rayonites are notoriously disagreeable before they’ve had their morning coffee.

I will bring a small supply of Arabica and Robusta beans as a peace offering and hope that our aroma canons will soothe their caffeine-denied hostilities.

Our fleet leaves Earth’s atmosphere tracking the invader’s position as being less than three hours away from the Dacronite convoy. We would have ramped up to warp speed to catch up, and I never like that feeling of being pushed back into my chair for the duration, but I simply had no choice.  I downed the rest of my latté and secured my urinary catheter tube before ordering the engineer to jump to warp speed.

After a grueling 20 minutes at warp speed, it was time to slow down, get visual access and change my bag. The Dacronites were on our viewer screens and fortunately, we outnumbered them substantially. It was time to communicate. “Set the communications translator to English to Dacrionite,” I order.

“Ready, sir,” our communications officer confirms.

“This is Commander Juan Valdez XXIII from the Java Force speaking. Can you read me?”

“Well, hello, Commander,” a friendly voice responds. “We see your fleet is nearby, and by the looks of your ships on our monitors, it appears you’re ready for some new equipment. We can put you in a low mileage Excalibre 4000 for a very reasonable price point.”

“Cut the crap, Commander. We know why you’re in our quadrant. We will not allow you to intercept those coffee shipments. Copy?”

After a long silence, the Dacronite ships suddenly turn and accelerate away. “They’re going for it,” Valdez exclaims. “The fools, they can’t outrun us. Full speed ahead. We can’t let them steal that cargo.”

The chase is on. As the Java Force ships catch up with the Dacronites, Commander Valdez orders, ”Fire the aroma canons.”

“Yes sir!” the engineer responds. “In three, two one…fired!” And with a huge rushing sound, the Dacronite ships slow to a stop. There is another long silence.

“That wasn’t fair, Commander,” the Dacronite Captain complains as his image appears on the visual screen. “That smell of fresh roasted coffee is just soooooooo satisfying. Can’t you understand, we’re desperate! Mornings are hell without coffee. We can’t take it anymore.”

Commander Valdez is sympathetic, yet a stern enforcer of the law. “Captain, do I have you solemn word that you will refrain from attacking our coffee shipments if we let you go?”

The Dacronite Captain humbly nods his head in agreement. “May I suggest chai until your next allotment of coffee arrives,” Commander Valdez adds.

“Chai? Chai?! Go to hell!,” the arrogant Dacronite spews. With that, the screen goes black.

Commander Valdez is resolute. “We have no choice. Java Force commanders, fire at will. Destroy the enemy targets.”

The visual screens display the Dancronian ships being destroyed in tremendous fireball explosions.  The young Ensign at the controls turns to the Commander and nervously asks, “They asked for it, didn’t they, Commander?”

Valdez replies, “Yep. That’s the way the coffee grinds, Ensign.”


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