'So,' said Adrig, 'That excursion of our stray pod, somehow, to the land of the octopuses, Sample 621 we now presume, although how it managed to get there we still don't know, but anyway, the arrival of our pod there appears to have betrayed our outpost's location to the octopuses, and these octopuses seem to be highly evolved and intelligent creatures.'
'Yes my boy, Oh indeed,' said Adrig, running his thin fingers through his long grey hair. 'We seem to have inadvertently initiated a rather startling development.'
'Well… a group of them arrived, just a small group, in a large pod of their own making but rather similarly conceived as ours, and of course our Ladies fired their stunners and stingers at them, but that just seemed to energise them and make them more vigorous.'
'Yes. We saw a little of their electrical potential didn't we. Ha ha… electrical potential… their voltage you might say.'
'You are trying to make a pun out of this development?'
'Yes, sorry, but it is not quite the disaster you may currently think, or at least perhaps not. Anyway… Just listen. The Ladies' attempts to repel the octopuses just energised them. The octopuses thrived on the electricity being thrown at them and the Ladies were overpowered.'
'What? All of them?'
'Well not at first, apparently. Macrig told me most of this by the way, because most of the time I was busy on 718.'
'With your wife?'
'Yes. Ah… we had our moments. But anyway… the first batch overpowered the Ladies down below, and then sealed the connections between the floors until reinforcements arrived. Waves of damn octopuses were swarming up and down our tower.'
'Oh. We do seem to cause some, eh... pickles, don't we?'
'Yes, my boy… and this is a very big pickle because now they are in control. Well, the few that are left, all led by that rather big and actually surprisingly benign one you met on her throne below.'
'She's a lady?'
'Apparently so. At least that is what she told us and she certainly behaves like one, although not too bad a one.'
'She told you through the console?'
'Yes. They have somehow learnt our language but they can't speak to us. None of them can, and we do believe they may be completely deaf.'
'Oh good. Deafness in Ladies would be an improvement.'
'Yes, and she has announced that she is our new Lady Lord, although I think that may just be her attempt at a joke. She laughs, you know, a sort of squirmy squeally laugh. At least we think it is a laugh and it certainly seems to be accompanied by a smile.'
'And our Ladies? What happened to them? I saw the four below that were scooping the water, but the rest?'
'Yes, the four below are treated as servants, and have become very compliant because these octopuses really can sting. But the others are all imprisoned way down on floor 37, apparently. I haven't seen them.'
'And us? All of us men?'
'Well that's the strange thing my boy. They seem to like us.'
'They communicate with us in a rather friendly manner, either through consoles or via sign language. Mainly sign language with the little ones. But they seem quite happy for us to have the run of the place.'
'And to drink the beer?'
'Yes. To drink the beer, although Macrig did get a bit of a stinging once when he got too drunk. So we drink the beer, but we drink in moderation. Cheers my lad.'
And the two male superior beings chinked their beers together, and then Adrig continued.
'So of course our Ladies at headquarters have detected all this.'
'Yes indeed. And the Lady Lords there are none too happy with it.'
'But they seem to be rather afraid.'
'So there seems to be a bit of a stalemate going on, and they have not come to, eh… rescue us so far. But, frankly, rescue may not really be what we need.'
'Because life up here is mighty fine now really, if a bit smelly, but you get used to that.'
'Oh. And what do you think they want of us, the octopuses?'
'Nothing. It seems. Nothing so far at least, other than data, provided they can be get moistened and fed, and they can eat our food. They do spend a lot of time wetting themselves in the bath and shower rooms though. You may have trouble getting in sometime.'
'You fancy another beer?'
'And a bite to eat?'
'Well you just sit there lad and I'll go and get that.'
'So what data?' Edrig asked, as Adrig returned with two beers and two plates of nibbles
'They look through our archives.'
'They use the four Lady servants to get access to all our archives, everything… about all the Samples, and according to Macrig they are busily transmitting it back to their home.'
'All of our knowledge?'
'Oh indeed. Think of it… A breed of clearly highly intelligent octopuses, they have their own pods after all, learning everything we know, about all of our Samples and everything about our home worlds as well.'
'You've been saying oh a lot.'
'It seems appropriate.'
'Yes my lad. It is. Yes indeed it is. But have another nibble.'
'We'll just have to make the best of it won't we?'
'I suppose so.'
'And it seems like it may be an improvement actually.'
'Indeed. And they have never hurt or harmed any of us, apart from the initial stinging and the stingings if we get too drunk. They threaten more than they act. A raised arm is usually enough. And we are all fine and all the Ladies are still alive, apparently, and fed, just contained.'
'But not very pleased I expect.'
'Ha ha. I expect not.'
'I wonder what will happen.'
'I don't know.'
'Still… Nice beer. Nice nibbles.'