Canto 34 – Slinking Out of Paradise
Gaijin is one of the most beautiful worlds in human space according to those humans who have visited enough of them to compare. Its lush, tropical-sea environment is pleasant always and fully climate-controlled by old Sylvani technology. It has far fewer cold places than an Earth-like world such as Talos III or Martin Faulkner’s Dream. It has more resources than an ocean-world like Dancer or Design where no land masses are present. And its greatest features are the people themselves. They are disciplined by the Bushido code, and beautified by the natural Sylvani grace. It was no surprise, then, that Vince Niell and the crew of the Megadeath did not want to leave.
“I have to go to at least three other worlds,” argued Xavier Tkriashav. “I have important missions to complete. You have the only available spaceship on the planet.”
“Dude, like, we don’t got no orders from Ged boss-man,” said Vince Niell. “This ship is his.”
“Ged is very busy now. I am his friend and agent. I tell you, I have important things to do for Ged Aero!”
“And we tell you, Psion Dude, that we don’t go to space for nobody but Ged Aero.”
Xavier smiled. “Can you call him and ask?”
“Dude, we have commo units on board. Did he take a walkie-talkie or a commo dot?”
“Then ain’t no way we’re gonna move from this spot.”
Tkriashav looked at the stubborn rock-and-roll starship pilot. He saw only two angry reflections of himself looking back from Vince’s mirrored sunglasses. The hippie freak had started wearing a pair of red Moko-bird feathers in his hair as if he were some kind of Native American.
“I am going to go and disturb Ged now, and get him to write a note to let me use this starship while he is training to be Gaijin’s new White Spider.”
“Sounds good to me, Daddy-o.”
Fuming, the turbaned Psion stalked back into the city, making his way swiftly through crowded streets to the Palace of One Thousand Years.
Ged was on the practice field with Junior, teaching martial arts.
“You were impressive in the arena,” Tkriashav said when Ged acknowledged his presence. “Tell me, how is it you already know the martial arts they teach here?”
“It’s not something I’m proud of, but I absorbed it by eating the flesh of the man they called the Black Spider. I inherited the ability to alter myself into the patterns of his finely trained muscles. Muscle memory is the key to absorbing the skill. Just like the instincts I’ve absorbed from animals I’ve eaten.”
“Did you actually eat one of those invisible cat things?”
“It was during an episode of survival training on the planet Samothrace when I was young. I guess I had my powers even then, though I didn’t know it until the last few years.”
“It’s that kind of knowledge I need you to pass on to other Psions, Ged. Do you mind if I use your starship to round up a couple of students for you?”
“I would be honored to serve,” said Ged with a bow. “Teaching seems to come naturally too, though I don’t ever remember eating a teacher.”
Xavier laughed. “I need a note for your crew, Ged. They don’t want to leave this place. They won’t take my word.”
“No problem. Will you revisit Don’t Go Here?”
“Yes. Young Friashqazatla is there. I want you to teach Freddy especially because he is a shape-changer like you. He is another Psion that we would’ve lost without Tara Salongi.”
“Check on Tara for me. Tell her I miss her. And tell Ham about what’s happened here. I want him to come here and learn about this place too.”
“I would be happy to. You like it here, don’t you?”
“How could I help it? I’m not a monster here. I’m a hero to these people. But I have to say, I don’t understand the praise anymore than I understood the fear.”
The message was quickly written, and within the hour, the Megadeath roared out of Gaijinese orbit, headed directly into trouble.