The lights dimmed and the rainbow tunnel of the hyperdrive became the main source of light for the room. No one onboard the Orville could truly feel the speed at which they slid through space, the inertial dampeners prevented that. But the sight of the stars zipping by was enough indication to Topa that they were going fast. It was the best part of bedtime. Until last night, that is. He had spent the last night over at his friend's quarters. It was a birthday celebration called "sleepover." It was the longest and strangest Human/Moclan interaction-at least to Topa.
His fathers stood proudly at the door, looking at their son in bed. "Sleep well, Topa," said Klyden.
Topa glanced at his fathers, then back at the window. "Father, would you tell me a bedtime story? Like Kevin's Father?"
Bortus and Klyden looked at each other with puzzled expressions. "What is a bedtime story?" asked Bortus.
"I told you he was too young for overnight human interaction, Bortus," nagged Klyden. "He is experiencing too many Human Cultural behaviors and not enough Moclan. He is becoming confused."
"He is not confused, Klyden. He is requesting a bedtime story." Bortus turned back to Topa. "When I was young and I had trouble falling asleep, my father would quote words of wisdom from-"
"Those words are forbidden now! You will not repeat them," said Klyden.
Bortus took a deep breath. "Topa, what is a bedtime story?"
Topa sat up in bed. "Kevin said, when it is time for bed, his father would tell him tales of livestock that cross bridges and build houses. I wish to hear these tales as well. To help me fall asleep."
Klyden and Bortus exchanged glances again. "How can livestock build houses?" asked Klyden.
"I do not know. I only know that when pigs build houses, wolves come to blow them down,' said Topa. "Kevin's father says it is true."
Klyden became uncomfortable and upset. "I will speak to Kevin's father tomorrow."
"Klyden," said Bortus. "Calm yourself." He walked to Topa's bed and sat on the edge. "Topa, tell me a bedtime story. Perhaps I can find out more."
"There were three brother goats. Big Gruff, Middle Gruff, and Little Gruff. They lived on a hill and ate grass. But the grass on the other hill was better. To get there, the goats had to cross a bridge. Under the bridge lived a troll," said Topa.
"What is a troll?" asked Klyden, his interest suddenly peaked.
"A troll is a creature that eats goats. Kevin said the one under the bridge is hungry," said Topa.
Bortus nodded his approval. "I see." Klyden, now interested in the bedtime story, walked over to the bed to listen.
"The little goat went across the bridge. The troll heard his footsteps and called out, ‘Who is walking across my bridge? The Little goat spoke. The troll jumped out to eat the little brother. But the little goat pleaded with the troll for his life," said Topa.
"This is silly," interrupted Klyden. "The troll should wait for the bigger goat to cross."
"Klyden, the troll does not yet know of the big goat. Let Topa finish his story," said Bortus.
Klyden huffed his impatience at Bortus. "I'm sorry Topa, please continue."
"The goat told him he had another brother who was coming. That goat was bigger than he. And, if the troll waited, he would cross and get fat on all the grass on the other hill. Then, the troll could eat him later, when he was bigger."
Bortus looked at Klyden. "You see? If you were just patient-"
"Nonsense," said Klyden. "This poor troll is starving. He should go find the big goat and stop living under a bridge."
"That is not how the story goes," said Topa. The two fathers stopped arguing and Topa continued. "The troll let the little goat across. But then came the Middle Gruff. The troll wanted to eat him as well."
"I see," said Bortus. "The goat pleads for his life. He tells the troll that a bigger goat will come."
"A starving troll who is merely asking for a fair toll for use of his bridge. And two brothers who would sell out their eldest brother in exchange for their own lives. This is clearly not a Moclan story,' said Klyden.
"The eldest gruff comes across the bridge. The troll jumps out to eat him. But the eldest brother is very strong and has pointed horns. He kills the troll as it tries to eat him. The elder brother goes across the bridge and joins his family to get green grass," said Topa.
Klyden's face changed dramatically. "They killed the troll? How mean of them! He was only hungry." The Moclan started to tear up. "Where is the Justice?"
Bortus watched Klyden begin to cry. "But Klyden, the eldest goat did his duty in protecting his family. Is that not a better message?" he nodded towards Topa, who was wide-eyed and confused by his father's reaction.
Klyden wiped away some tears and cleared his throat. "Yes," he lied. "The eldest did his duty." He tried to compose himself but it didn't work. He turned and left the room.
Topa looked at Bortus very concerned. "Papa, will Father be all right?"
Bortus nodded. "Yes, Topa. Klyden can only handle so much Human culture a day. And I believe this was a little too much for him." He stood up. "I enjoyed your bedtime story. I will inquire tomorrow about more. Now, go to sleep."
"Yes, Papa. Goodnight."