Canto 73 – Star Nomads – (The Silver Thread)
Tron and Maggie needed the Megadeath and her crew to bolster the defense forces of Outpost. So, it was simply a matter of finding a ship they could spare to send Artran to safety with Ged on whatever planet the hunter now inhabited.
“I can’t afford to send a single Pinwheel or White Sword out of system. We lost too many to defend our planet already. And we have to assume this base is no longer a secret to Grand Admiral Tang.” Tron glared at his difficult wife.
“This is our only son we are talking about,” argued Maggie. “He is a cargo worth protecting. That’s why we are bothering to send him to Ged Aero in the first place.”
“Perhaps I can be of assistance, sir,” offered Bill the Postman (secretly Scarpigo Snarcs). “Your wife is going to win this argument, or I don’t know anything about wives.”
“Have you been married before?” asked Tron, fixing the clown with a laser-eyed look from both his artificial eye and his natural one.
“Of course not! I told you I knew all about wives didn’t I?”
“So, what’s your worthless advice, then?”
“I am disguised as a competent member of the Imperial Scout Service. So, I can take him to his destination without being fired upon in any X-boat that is delivering mail.”
“How is that secure enough for my precious boy?” asked Maggie.
“Well, I will be delivering the Imperial mail. You know the Imperial Space Navy does not shoot down its own mail service, even on the frontier.”
“He has a good point, Maggie,” said an exasperated Tron.
“What about Star Dogs? They do attack Scout ships of all kinds.”
“That’s true, dogs does chase postmen,” offered Quintillius Blorghoffer (secretly Cinco Snarcs disguised as a Scout Service Postman), “But me brudder an’ I is two of de bestest secret-type agent-men going, an’ our X-boat is secretly armed with a meson cannon, don’t ya know. Ain’t that right, Pontoffel Poggs?”
Zero Snarcs (disguised as the above-mentioned Poggs the Postman) vigorously shook his head.
“He says you don’t?” asked Maggie angrily.
“Oh, he don’t know no better. He shakes his head like that when he means ta say yes. He’s just too stupid to talk.”
“Okay, I have my doubts now, too,” said Tron.
“Please, sir,” said Tiki Astro, “I am fully programmed to problem-solve and defend Artran. Who better to send along with him as he travels in secret than I?”
Tron looked at the artificial child. With his new skin covering his metalloid body, he was completely indistinguishable from a real child. He would indeed be the perfect travelling companion to keep Artran safe.
“Yes. That settles it. Artran goes in the X-boat with the three idiots to be with Ged Aero in relative safety.”
Maggie sighed and nodded agreement.
Happy Jack sighed and then hugged his artificial son goodbye.
The three idiot postmen and the two children boarded the balloon-shaped X-boat and immediately took off from Outpost.
Once they reached the orbital jump point, Bill the Postman turned to Pontoffel Poggs (which was actually Scarpigo Snarcs turning to Zero Snarcs) and said, “Okay, boy, spin the directional dial and then spin the distance dial.”
Poggs (who was actually Snarcs) spun both dials like he was playing Intergalactic Wheel of Fortune.
“It says we are jumping a hundred and twelve parsecs into the middle of unknown space,” warned Blorghoffer (who was also secretly Snarcs).
“That’s perfect!” said Bill (secretly… well, you know). He then smashed the jump button and folded space to a distance that would normally destroy an X-boat.
After an undeterminable amount of time they exited jump space into a black void. But at it’s center glittered a multitude of artificial lights from a construct seemingly sewn together with steel beams and made from junk spaceship fuselages, broken satellites, abandoned space stations, and unidentifiable metal things from unknown space.
“Ah, I didn’t actually think that would work,” said Bill.
“Where are we?” asked Artran and Tiki at almost the same moment.
“This, my boys, is Nomad. This is the home of the Star Nomads.”
“An’ I always thinked that Star Nomads be Myths,” said Blorghoffer.
“Just because something is a myth doesn’t mean it’s not true,” said Bill.
Poggs vigorously nodded his stupid head.