Canto 34 – The Great Galactic Web
It is said that life in space exists on a spider’s web of invisible star lanes. A photon drive can propel a starship only through certain well-defined mathematical probability arrays to a new location in geometrically-and-gravitically-folded space. They work basically by popping in and out of reality, though you can only precisely describe the physics of it in mathematical terms. So, of course, there are those who claim that if space is filled with spider webs, then God himself must be the Great Spider who spins it all.
The Megadeath roared into orbit around the bright blue planet that filled the life zone of a star listed on the charts as The Old Yellow Man. It had been identified as a habitable system before, but no one had dared to come this far beyond the Imperial Borders to colonize before. At least, no one these spacers knew about.
“This is a spectacular world,” said Vince Niell.
“Yeah, man,” said Nikki Sixx. “Like a toatally gnarly hammertime world!”
“Wha…?” answered Cold Death.
Ged chuckled at the verbal density of his crew. You have to be happy with the pick of the litter even if the dog pound only has mutts.
“What do your sensors pick up, Cold?” Tkriashav asked Cold Death.
“Wha…?” the white-skinned bone-man responded.
“Your instrument panel, you thick…” grumbled Ged.
“Oh,” Death said. “Signal from the third moon of the big gas planet, man. Like, ancient dudes put a scout base there. Dead zone, dude. No life.”
“Other signs of civilization?” asked Tkriashav.
“Stellar observatory in the third orbit. Also, dead zone. One moon around this planet. None around the planet in the first orbit. Also, dead zones, dude.”
“What about the planet below us?” asked Ged, beginning to grow impatient with the brain-dead zombie stoner at the sensor panel. “Are there people or signs of civilization on this planet?”
“Whoa… Like two billion people. Not human, man. Humanoid, but definitely not human.” Cold death shook his green Mohawk hair-do like a horse shakes flies off its mane. He was definitely not human either.
“Vince? Do you think you can land safely?” asked Ged.
“Yeah, boss man. I can put her down on a dime. I’ve never had such a sweet girl under my control before. Yeah, baby!”
Ged ground a frustrated fist into his temple. He knew there was something important about this mission because of Tkriashav’s damnable clairvoyance, but he felt he needed to know what. Was it something for his own good? Or something for the greater good that would mean sacrificing his own life? He wanted to be able to make those choices himself.
“Cold Death? I’m gonna hate myself for having to ask this, but do you find any signs of a starport down there?”
“A landing field! A flat patch! A place to put down where we don’t go CRASH! BOOM! And blow up!”
“Oh, yeah, man. Major city with walls, flat all around, dude. Gnarly!”
“You see it, Vince?” asked Ged.
“I’m swoopin’, Daddy-o!”
“Ugh! What does that mean?” Ged looked at Xavier Tkriashav. Tkriashav merely shrugged.