Canto 38 – The Master Speaks
Xavier Tkriashav came back to the planet Zarane for the first time in a quarter of a century. It had once been home. By the looks of it, though, they had been through hard times in his absence. The Downport at Zhdlianta City was run down and nearly deserted. Only a handful of junky old fossil merchant ships still traveled in and out of the place. The lone military ship that once had carried a hundred teleport commandos aloft sat broken down and thoroughly pirate-scarred in its dry-dock.
The Megadeath sat down on what once had been the Psion Emperor’s landing pad. No one was there to meet them. The Lupin Stardog Corsairs filled the empty landing pads surrounding it. If they had been an invasion force or a raiding party, they would have entered Zarane’s largest city unopposed. Tkriashav frowned.
“We be jammin’” said Vince Niell. “Last stop, spooky world of the supersonic headhunters. Everybody out!”
Tkriashav was the only one who left the safety of the starship willingly. Everyone else edged out behind him. Young Rocket Rogers kindled a small ball of flame in his right hand, apparently to be ready in case the worst happened. He cradled the baby fireball out of sight in his hands.
“Wha…?” said Cold Death as a small rock flew out of the shadows and plunked him on his head.
Vince and Nikki pulled their laser pistols. Cold Death stupidly rubbed his throbbing head.
“Friends? Zaranians? Countrymen? I have returned. Why is no one here to lend an ear?”
“Go away!” shouted someone in the middle distance. Vince pointed his weapon in the general direction but could see no one to shoot at.
“The crowd is in the Gallows Stadium!” cried someone else from further away. “Go there to get what’s coming to you.”
“Jeez, man,” moaned Nikki Sixx, “we should leave now, dude!”
“Yeah, well, I mean… Wait,” said Tkriashav. “I know these people better than they know themselves. They need to hear our good news!”
Resolutely Tkriashav began his march to the Gallows Stadium, expecting everyone else to follow him. Slowly they did.
On the way, several people saw Tkriashav and his crew. They all turned tail and sprinted towards the Gallows Stadium. Word would proceed the Psion Master himself.
The stadium was designed, just as the name suggested, as a place of public execution. It was, in fact, quite crowded with the current execution nearing its commencement. As Tkriashav entered through the main gates, all eyes turned his way. Some few shouted “Hurray!” but many others hissed a “Boo!” at him. The rest were unnaturally silent. On the gallows itself were three Nebulons and a white-skinned boy about to be hung. The adult male Nebulon glared defiantly at Tkriashav with a noose securely around his neck. The blue-skinned woman and the Nebulon boy were both crying. The white boy, also balanced precariously with a noose around his throat, looked grim.
Tkriashav marched up to the gallows platform, shoving several planetary officials and Telepathic Monitors aside. He raised his hands to the crowd.
“Zaranians, I have returned. I am Tkriashav, First Psion of Zarane from the Aziashav Dynasty. I know you will not go through with this unwarranted execution! To have a share in the prosperity I bring, your hands must remain clean of innocent blood.”
“What makes you believe they are innocent!” cried a Telepathic Monitor in a blue turban and Psi-police uniform.
“I can foresee the future. If you kill them, I see this planet devastated in war. You have no fleet left!”
“These Nebulon invaders have no real fleet either! They are Psionic and intend to overrun our world.”
“Have you probed them?”
“The two boys are too powerful. They shield everyone around them from telepathic probes!” accused a red-turbaned Psion Centurion.
“Those of you who remember me from twenty years ago will recall my powers of clairvoyance. I foresee the space whale navies of two entire Nebulonin clans coming to destroy this world. Every last man of you will lie dead in your own filth for the atrocity you plan to commit here today! Only if you listen to this blue man do you stand to reap the benefits of the prosperity and high technology that I have brought back to you.”
“Empty words, Tkriashav!” called out Shivitatla, one of Tkriashav’s former political rivals. “You may have predicted your own disappearance and return, but you failed to predict the death of Aziashav II. The world of Zarane has gone to ruin in your absence. Stardogs and Nebulons are to blame. They decimated our fleets and dropped colonies on all the empty worlds in this sector!”
“Perhaps,” said Tkriashav grimly, “you need to hear why. Did you give this Nebulon ambassador a chance to speak?”
“No,” said Shivitatla. “<You know already why he’s here, don’t you!>” he added in Zaradese.
“<Do you?>” The force of Tkriashav’s reply made Shivitatla stagger backwards.
“Let the Psion Master give us proof!” shouted a Psi-police Lieutenant. “I would hear the evidence!”
“Let the Nebulon speak!” said Tkriashav.
“He’s a stupid Space Smurf!” cried several. “He doesn’t know Galactic English!”
“Can you speak to us?” Tkriashav asked the blue man directly.
“I can speaken Galagic Engrish!” he said in a thick, but understandable accent. “I need to speaken!”
The crowd grew hushed at the surprising revelation. Xavier Tkriashav walked up to the man and removed the noose from his neck. “Speaken,” he said.
“I am for Clannish Sinjarac talken!” said the blue man. “I am Ambassador Jor. My clan has left the Great Nebula from before I am bornen. Tshizcaruc! We are refugees of a great war. We leaven the Pan Galactic Union because of Faceless Horde. We leaven Imperial Borders because of pirates and Galtorrian monster men. We been many killed by your kind. We beg for place to stayen! We like many other mens. We bleed. We feel sorrow. Give us any worlds you want. Airless okay! Gas Giants! We live where you do not! We only want peace, a place to belongen.”
“Let me add this,” said Tkriashav, “I am a powerful clairvoyant. I know what course will bring us happiness! This man offers you something you need from Nebulons, peace and friendship. I can also show you proof that the prophecies of Xan have come true.”
“A new White Spider?” asked Shivitatla amazed.
“Yes. A man called Ged Aero. He is on a planet called Gaijin, not many parsecs from here. He will rebuild an Empire and create a new future for us.”
“I hope you can prove that,” said Shivitatla, “but if you can, then I yield to you. Your way could be right after all. I will not stand in the way of Xan’s Prophecy.”
The people began cheering. The government officials began chattering amongst themselves. The possibilities began to open their minds and hearts.
“I thanken you for saving us,” said Jor to Tkriashav. “I am grateful for the lives of my son, Gyro, my wife, Natasha, and this young cowsboy, Billy Iowa.”
“I had a dream about this,” Tkriashav said, helping Jor to free his family, “and if it comes true, we will all be thanking you and your family.”