Canto 119 – The Debate on the Bridge
The control panel on the bridge of the Super Rooster was made up mostly of the remnants of Dr. Naylund Smith’s old space ship, the one he had crashed and eventually junked a mere two hundred twelve years before. But it was like riding a bicycle to sit in front of the familiar controls. That, Naylund supposed was why Ged had asked him to be the pilot, taking over the role that Ged would’ve much preferred had gone to his brother Ham, but he would not take for himself.
“Thank you for organizing this mission, Naylund-sensei. I am not used to doing the job of a space captain myself.”
“It is nothing, Ged-dono. Sitting in front of these controls is a little like arriving home again. And this is the first time in the history of Gaijin that the planet can mount a response to an incoming possible threat.”
“Have we learned anything more from the scanners?”
“Not much. It is coming up on the viewscreen now. It is still 5,000 miles away. Computer, enhance viewscreen 500 percent.”
The image enlarged in the holo-digital viewscreen.
“That looks like a big piece of driftwood with a flower on its side,” said Sara, looking over her father’s shoulder.
“The sensors indicate the whole thing is alive,” said Junior Aero, sitting behind Ged. “It functions as a space ship, though. It maneuvers. And it orients itself to the gravity well of the planet like an incoming spaceship. It has to be something like the living space-whale ships of my people.”
Junior was born a Nebulon, blue-skinned and red-cheeked, and later adopted by the Aero Brothers.
Naylund looked at the plant-like thing and squinted. Hoping to see… what exactly?
“I don’t think it’s connected to your terrorist, Ged. It’s like some sort of seed pod.”
Ged looked at Naylund skeptically. “It seems almost impossible that it would be a coincidence, Naylund.”
But Jai Chang, the ninja under the Avenger helmet, was a native-born Gaijinese who had never been off planet and never known to have any off-world contacts. If there was a connection, it was not an obvious one.
“Sara, can you tell anything about it with your telepathy?” he asked his daughter.
“I hear voices, but it’s confusing,” she answered. “Could the whole thing be a disguise? I can read alien minds there… but it’s all garbled. I can usually understand anything the mind I read understands.”
Junior suddenly also looked quite confused. “I can’t read any computers on board, A-I or otherwise. How can they navigate?”
“They can’t. No starship we know of can operate without a computerized brain of some sort. Anything less than Tech-level Nine wouldn’t be able to find its way through jump space.” Naylund could only guess at the weird alien technology behind this interstellar seed-pod.
“There is a breathable oxygen-nitrogen-carbon dioxide atmosphere inside,” said Ged, reading the latest sensor scan. “We will have to go inside. Time to use your antique vacc suits, Naylund.”
“Be my guest. I will fly the Super Rooster and wait for your return in the ship.”
“You and the robot-boy, Tiki Astro. That should be enough problem-solving help to leave on this end. I will take Sara, Junior, Billy, and Gyro with me. We have five usable suits.”
“Don’t take any unnecessary risks, Ged-dono. I am trusting you with my daughter, after all. Something I would only do with the one true White Spider.” “I promise, Naylund-sensei. On my life, I promise.”