Canto Thirty-Three – Aboard Golden Wing Thirteen
Shalar looked at the readout on the control panel in front of her. There was no mistaking that signature. It was the same kind of supra-magnetic photon drive used in a Golden Wing, and it was no longer operational. It also appeared to be crash-landed in the middle of a debris field, and that couldn’t be good. In addition, it also had to be the tadpoles’ ship, because Farbick and Biznap on the other missing ship were too capable to have crashed in that manner.
“Is it them?” asked Harmony Castille. The beautiful young Earth woman who was really an old lady made young and beautiful by Commander Biznap’s own de-evolution machine. She had a grim face, like someone who expected the answer could only be bad news.
“I don’t see how it could be anybody else.”
“I register bodies with no breathing and considerable signs of disease. No living bodies… but no confirmation that the dead ones are our missing tadpoles.”
Harmony seemed to stifle a sob.
“Why are you so affected by Telleron tadpoles, Harmony? I understand how much you are in love with Commander Biznap, but none of these tadpoles are his.”
“I have never in my long life had children of my own. I have always loved children vicariously through the young brats and evildoers I taught in Sunday School at the Methodist Church back in Iowa.” A tear escaped the beautiful young woman’s eye and rolled down her powdered and rouged cheek. Shalar couldn’t help but notice that even though the woman’s face was young, her eyes held a certain look of wisdom and experience, as well as pain.
“I will be very sad if I have lost young Tanith and Davalon. They are very probably children from my own eggs, even though we usually only keep track of the male parents.”
“I will miss young mistresses Brekka and Menolly, too,” said Harmony sadly. “Their immature giggles and love of dancing always seemed to brighten the room whenever I tried to teach them important life lessons from the Bible.”
“I thought the way you talked to them while teaching them meant you loathed their immature behavior.”
“Oh, I did hate most of the behavior, but I adored those girls. Underneath the death-eye frowns I gave them, I was always secretly laughing at their antics.”
“I never realized that about you before, Harmony,” Shalar said with some sympathy.
“What kind of mean old fuddy-fuss did you take me for, Shalar?” Harmony gave a small chuckle with the reply.
“The kind you were pretending to be, apparently.”
“I will miss the Morrells, too. They were a little dim sometimes, but basically good Christian people.”
“…And how about little George Jetson?”
Harmony’s eyebrows raised in disbelief of some sort. “That little heathen? He was almost as full of Satan and evil ways as one of our Earth boys from the Norwall Methodist Church! He made me wonder sometimes if he actually had a little bit of wicked Baptist in his demon blood. I never met such a child for pranks and playing with his privates when he should be listening to some good, soul-saving advice!”
Shalar was amused by that reaction. She was beginning to understand how self-contradictory Earther primates actually were. In fact, she understood that the reaction actually meant that Harmony would miss that little rapscallion more than all the rest put together. Shalar had come to see that the old church lady always claimed to hate most what she really loved and adored.
“Studpopper, can you land this wing near the wreckage down there? We need to find our missing children.”
“I will certainly do my very best, my lady.”
Harmony quickly grabbed Studpopper’s pointy green ear and twisted.
“You’d dang well better do better than that!” the young old lady cried with passion.