Canto 106 – Rocket-Powered Robbery
Arkin Cloudstalker had no doubt at all who was going to captain his flagship in his role as Grand Admiral. Black Fly was a beautiful woman, a sensational pilot, and, the longer they spent time together, the more they got to know each other’s beautiful souls. There was definitely some sense of a little naked baby Cupid thing fluttering around somewhere nocking arrows with Arkin’s name on them.
“So, this Apatosaurus-thing is a battleship and it will be the command center of this new dinosaur-shaped star fleet?”
“Yes, it is a high-tech Ancient construction created by the artifact known as the “Hammer of God” in the hands of a telepathic operator who is from Don’t Go Here and knows more about dinosaur shapes than space-fleet starships,” said smug little ADaB the Peri (short for Another Danged Boy #152).
“They should’ve consulted us on the engineering before they built them. We could’ve done a much better job by turning them into gigantic space kittens or something fuzzy like that,” said the female Peri, PiP (short for Pretty in Patches).
“Please don’t start arguing again,” said Arkin, heading off what he knew had to be coming. He picked up the diminutive PiP and swung her around to a position walking between Arkin and Black Fly, away from ADaB.
The crew they were walking through on the way to the bridge all seemed to be from the Bedrock culture of Don’t Go Here where everything was designed based on antique Flintstones cartoons from thousands of years ago. The men were wearing Fredsuits, orange pull-overs decorated with upside-down black triangles. The women all wore blue Bettypelts.
It was ridiculous to say the least, but when spaceships and space troops magically appear from nowhere due to Ancient relics, you couldn’t look gift-dinosaurs in the mouth.
The lift shaft took them up the neck of the Apatosaurus construct to the bridge of the ship.
On the bridge itself, blaring warning horns and intruder-alert flashers were going off, though the crew seemed even calmer than they had on the way to the bridge.
“What’s going on?” shouted Arkin, racing to the viewport.
“We have an intruder closing in on us in a tailed space-suit with a rocket pack on her back,” said a seemingly unconcerned Lieutenant in a Fredsuit.
“What are we doing about it?” demanded ADaB. In a uniform clearly marked as a Commander, the little Peri out-ranked everyone on the bridge but Admiral Cloudstalker and Captain Black Fly.
“Why, nothing, sir. That Galtorrian woman out there is our new leader. That’s the Lizard Lady.”
“But she’s a spy for the Imperium!” said Arkin.
“Not anymore. She’s the newly anointed Archbishop of the White Spider Cult.”
“Oh, crap!” said PiP, “just what we need. A religious zealot.”
“A holy crusader in the name of the White Spider,” said the junior officer, displaying his White Spider amulet.
“I know Ged Aero,” said Arkin. “He wouldn’t want to have anything to do with this kind of religious idiocy.”
“Perhaps not. But the Archbishop comes to us as the mother of the White Spider’s first-hatched son. She is coming to fulfill the prophecy of Zhan!”
“I thought it was the prophecy of Xian,” remarked another trooper.
“No, the prophecy of Shan!” insisted another.
Arkin said nothing, hoping these idiots would start a fight.
“Don’t you fools read your own prophecy? Those three are all exactly the same!” ADaB probably realized at about that very moment that he should never have said that out loud.
“Somebody who’s loyal to the New Star League needs to shoot that spy down!” ordered Admiral Cloudstalker.
The whole bridge crew turned and looked at him.
“We are all loyal to both,” said the Lieutenant angrily.
“What will we do with the Admiral?” someone asked.
“Put him in the airlock?” asked somebody else.
“Don’t you dare even think about that!” said the Lizard Lady, entering through the airlock corridor. She had her helmet off. She had the largest, shiniest White Spider amulet around her neck that Arkin had ever seen.
“Wherever you’re going with this ship, you cannot take us with you!” shouted Captain Black Fly.
“That is certainly true,” said the Lizard Lady. “These four prisoners are all mentioned in the prophecy. They must all be in the Battle of Outpost. Put two of them in each of two escape pods and shoot them slowly towards Aerobase Frieda.”
“You will not get away with this,” said Arkin.
ADaB pulled at his elbow. “Actually, Admiral, I have read all five versions of the prophecy. I think it says she does.”