Canto 131 – The Necessary Gathering
The Super Rooster sat down softly on the green just outside the Palace of a Thousand Years. The grav engines even more softly whirred off. It can be surprising to see a starship land. Because pilots always talk about “blasting off,” you tend to imagine roaring fire coming out of interstellar engines with powerful photon drives. But starships use the anti-grav engines for planetary travels, especially for landings, and those purr like soft-furred gray kittens with their tummies full of milk, if they bother to make any noise at all.
Ged came striding down the gangway with purpose and furious energy in every step.
“Shen Ming-dono! Where is your army? And is Jai Chaing recovered enough to lead them? We need him!”
Shen Ming smiled and quickly moved to meet Ged with a multitude of very tiny steps.
“Um, ah… the army is not here right now. And you remember that we had Jai-Chang-sama in custody for his own protection.”
“Well, we have a situation that requires an army. Can we at least give Jai-sama a chance to redeem himself?”
“Ah, so… you see… Jai-Chang has escaped custody. The whole army is chasing him.”
“So, nobody is available?”
“Well, there are your faithful students…”
“Good. Let’s get them together. We must deal with a fascist incursion on a planet we just discovered. They have a oppressing army of plant-warriors called Throckpods we must defeat, and an evil dictator called the Grainmaster we must overthrow.”
Nervously, Shen Ming gathered the remaining students.
“Hassan Parker, Mai Ling, Taffy King, and Shu Kwai… Wait, is this all that are available? Where’s Rocket and Phoenix? Freddy? And Jackie?”
“Um, ahem… they are away on a little mission for me,” the old man said shiftily.
“Well, these will have to do.”
Ged handed a supply list to Shu.
“Get me these things for the invasion. We are dropping onto a hostile planet where everything is alive and sentient. We have a war to fight and a dictator to overthrow.”
“Yes, Sensei!” said Shu obediently.
Shu recruited Taffy as a telekinetic to help him float the supplies to the space ship.
“Will you be coming with us, Shen Ming-dono?”
“Oh, no… no… I have things here to take care of. Irons in the fire, one might say.”
“Very well, then. We must take off again as soon as we are refilled and loaded with those supplies.”
“There are material synthesizers aboard, you know, Ged-sama.”
“Yes, but not as good as the real thing. We need some serious weed-killer and yard-trimmers. This is no easy opponent we face.”
“Weed-killer? Yard-trimmers? Most not-easy indeed, my friend.”