Canto 5 – The Crown of Stars
The docking of the Leaping Shadowcat with the station was routine, even though the station was unpowered and unresponsive. The mission, though, would be an entirely different matter. With only two vacuum suits on board, only Ged and Goofy would be able to perform the explore and restore. Ged, not entirely trusting his partner, led the way, while Trav carried his precious blue box.
The airlocks were blown. As Ged turned up the power in his mag-boots he reassured himself that he wouldn’t drift out into empty space through any hole or opening. He proceeded cautiously with Goofy ten paces behind.
Once inside the customs terminal, he began to find bodies. Two frozen and partly exploded Galtorrian bodies were still staring outward with icy snake’s eyes in the same posture they had been in when catastrophic depressurization killed them. A little further on, a snake-eyed Galtorrian entertainer in her scanty orange veils, floated dead in the middle of a café.
“Somebody murdered this outpost,” said Trav.
“More than a hundred years ago,” added Ged. “Their style of clothing and interior decoration are like some of the oldest worlds in the Imperium. I wonder how long they’ve been entombed here.”
“We’ll give them a decent send-off.”
Three hours work had all twenty-three of the bodies on the station rounded up and floated away for a deep space burial. Ged located and cleared out the station’s control center, but the electronics were completely fried and not repairable.
“Never fear, old bean” said Trav. “I have the answer to our problems right here!” He sat the blue metal box on a control console. He gingerly opened the box, and carefully lifted out the alien crown. It had three glowing crystals mounted on the front of the band, and they pulsated with glowing light.
“How do you activate that thing?” asked Ged.
Trav had no time to answer. Greenish fingers of energy radiated out from the crown instantly. Control panels began to melt. Circuits fused in a pattern that was obviously not random. Tendrils of energy and realigning circuits exploded outward through the facility. Ged was instantly afraid for their lives. Would the station explode? Would they be consumed by this rampant energy?
In a matter of a few minutes, the ruined space port turned back on. Doors closed. Airlocks sealed. Atmosphere hissed into empty corridors and rooms. Lights came on. The station bloomed into fully functional life.
“How did you do that?” gasped Ged.
“I told you we couldn’t just give this thing back to that old jester Tron. It’s poppa’s little miracle worker.”
“We are now on line,” said a booming female computer voice. “We are at your service, Grandfather.”
Trav took off his helmet and breathed in the fresh air. “So, you are at my service, are you? Who are you, then? And how did I get to be your grandfather?”
“We are the matrix of Terris Mansill. Also known as Grandfather of All Stars. We are the artificial minds of the Crown of All Stars at your service, Grandfather. Call on us, and we shall do your bidding.”
“Cool,” said Goofy smiling broadly at Ged, “just like a genii in a lamp!”