Canto 27 – Blue Eggs and Ham
The Leaping Shadowcat pulled into the orbit of White Palm just as the last explosions on the periphery of the battle site were dying out. Sinbadh sat next to Ham in the copilot chair.
“So, Bucko, what be Questor like? I have ne’er been in that there port.”
“It’s deep in the Imperial Interior, in the Phaetus Cluster with the systems of Phaetus, Xerxes, Perch, and the Talosian Systems I, II, and III.”
“Kinda the suburbs to Galtorr Prime?”
“Do it be easy livin’ there?”
“Yes, but… Well, the Galtorrians house many of their slaves there. Freaks, Unhumans, Mechanoids, Metalloids, all the basic slave races are housed in the ghettos of Questor. It was oppressive growing up there and seeing all that injustice.”
“Me, I never had the chance to see the like. My people were forever hunted out there beyond the borders, movin’ an’ hidin’, movin’ and hidin’.”
“You had it good. When I was twelve, I had a friend who was a Mechanoid. He was only ten when they reanimated him. He would’ve never been able to grow up had he… At school they caught me talking to him when he was supposed to be mucking out sewers. They whipped me for talking to a slave. They shut him down and scrapped him. I found out, though, that he was still a person, just like me. He told me all about his memories of his early life. He remembered when he was still alive. He felt love and fear just like we do. I vowed after that that I would change the galaxy some day. I wanted them to be treated the same as we are.”
“Ged feel the same?”
“He’s worse than me. He’s careful and doesn’t get into trouble as much as I do, but he cares passionately about justice and morality. He’s already done more to help the oppressed than I ever dared to even dream of.”
“Good man, that Ged.”
“You’ve no idea. He’d give his life for an ideal. He’d sacrifice himself to help you and me, too.”
It was then that the Madonna brought them lunch. It was made of blue eggs from the starchickens of the planet Arriseah. They smelled foul and were served next to greasy slabs of fried bacon. The meal was not healthy, but the planet-bound peoples of the Imperium believed the meal had the effect of a love potion.
“Madonna, my girl,” said Ham shaking his head, “I do not like blue eggs and bacon.”
The Madonna looked at him confused. She wore a revealing flesh-wrap that effectively showed off her girlish blue figure. Being a neotynous Nebulon, she had the physique of a fourteen-year-old human girl, even though she was a Nebulon woman of nearly thirty years in age. Nebulons were child-like even when they achieved advanced age.
“I… I read about your world… foods of love…”
Ham’s expression turned from one of disgust to one of sympathy. He had grown fond of this Nebulon Princess. He didn’t want to hurt her in any way.
“You don’t need to feed me Aphrodisiacs. I love you without that.”
The Madonna smiled at him shyly.
“Well, says I,” said Sinbadh, “I better get to the galley and make this right.” He took the eggs and bacon and headed out of the cockpit. “I’ll make ye some of me best honey-plant stew. I got a case of honey-plant roots on board for just such an occasion. They can make ye fall in love too… with me cookin’, o’ course.”
The Madonna sat down in the copilot chair. On the view screen, a large Pinwheel Corsair showed up. Its weapons were visibly armed and ready to fire.
“Unknown vessel!” came a voice over the commo, “prepare to be boarded.”
“Negative, corsair. You don’t need to board us. We are friends of Captain Tron. Radio him that Ham Aero is here to help.”
“Ham Aero? Is Ged with you?”
“Oh, okay. Don’t make any foolish moves. We’ll escort you down to the planet.”
Together the two spacecraft rolled to the left and inserted themselves into the atmosphere of White Palm.