Canto 28 – Rock and Roll Starship
The Megadeath was the only available starship left in four Parsecs of space in any direction from Don’t Go Here. Ged didn’t want to travel in a Trav Dalgoda concept, but left with no choice, he trusted Frieda’s demonstrated skills as a shipwright and spacecraft designer. He could use it to travel if only he could recruit a space crew. He needed a pilot, an engineer, and a navigator who knew how to figure coordinates from Xavier Tkriashav’s memories of nearby systems in unknown space.
The finding of a crew proved quite difficult. All they had was a pool of marooned talent left by Lupin corsairs, mostly the dregs of the spaceways. Tkriashav had a telepathic network set up on the planet, and there were some primitive crystal radios. Otherwise, the planet was bound together by a word-of-mouth commo system.
All they could find was a rather motley crew. Vince Niell was the only pilot to apply for the job. He was a merchant pilot who’d lost his final ship to Lupins in the Mingo star system. He wore mirrored sunglasses even in the dark. He had a leather flight jacket which he wore over his Fredsuit. He signed on for a pair of pants, some underwear, and a baseball cap from Ged’s own wardrobe. He wanted Ged’s brown fedora, but that hat was non-negotiable, being needed always on Ged’s own head.
Nikki Sixx was a guitar-playing engineer with bright red hair that he wore long down to his waist. He had his own hand-made electric guitar and broadcast speakers even though he had no generator to make electricity for them. He had blue ovals tattooed around each eye, and he had skulls tattooed on his bare chest. He wore Bam-Bam shorts and also carried a medium-sized stone-caster. He signed on to keep the engines purring on the promise that he would be allowed to play guitar whenever he had free time.
The third crewman was the hardest to find, and easily the one Ged would’ve most preferred to replace. He gave his name as Cold Death. He was a white-skinned near-human with skin that looked like snow and was surprisingly chilly to the touch. It was like shaking hands with a snowman. He had strange black triangles tattooed around his eyes and wore a neon green Mohawk for a hairstyle. He also had two ivory fangs like Dracula in his mouth. He, too, was unnaturally attached to a guitar. He, too, was willing to sign on for a chance to play Heavy-Metal Rock-and-Roll.
Ged’s only comfort with this crew was the fact that they came cheap. He didn’t have any Imperial coins or electronic credit-exchangers to pay them with anyway. But the music gave him headaches.
Before leaving, Ged helped Tara use the Hammer of God to build a downport on the surface of the planet. All Tara had to do was take Ged’s blueprints and descriptions, picture them in her imagination, and then telepathically download them into the Hammer. The device shot a stream of purple energy into the dirt at the construction site, turning the silica and clay into a pool of microscopic nanobots that made her mental image grow into reality before the startled eyes of the cave men of Don’t Go Here.
Plans were made for housing and high-rises to enhance the economy of Bedrock and the planet Don’t Go Here. A shuttle system was built to help Tara get starship building supplies up to Frieda and farmers up to the grange station. Ged promised many that he would come back soon to begin training spacers to man the space ships they would build. The Hammer of God allowed them to boost the planet from a quasi-stone-age to the space age in next to no time, Flintstones into Jetsons, so to speak. Of course, Ged had promised a lot of commitment on the part of both his brother and himself.
Finally they were prepared to leave Don’t Go Here in the hands of Tara and her father, Bam-Bam. Ged, Tkriashav, and little Junior Aero would head out with the crew of the Megadeath to visit Tkriashav’s world and the system of prophecy. As Ged said a final, difficult goodbye to the beautiful teenager, Tara Salongi, he never imagined that he wouldn’t be back to see her again within the year. He never imagined a lot of things that would make the memory of that one goodbye one of his greatest regrets.