Canto 141 – The Critical Task
Safely back at the newly-constructed Gaijinese Starport, Naylund, Sara, and Junior walked down the exit ramp from the space ship with Ged Aero, the White Spider. They were all four relatively quiet and somberly thoughtful.
“Are you sure you have no lasting effects from dividing yourself in two?” Naylund asked.
“Naylund, old friend, don’t worry about me. I could feel his thoughts when we first separated, but each of us came to terms with our new, separated identities rather quickly. By the time we were ready to leave, not only was the planet well under control, but we were each feeling like two separate people.”
“What did it feel like to split yourself in half like that?” Junior asked.
“It hurt a lot at first. He got the right half of my brain, and I got the left. But we each grew out a fairly perfect copy of the other half, me as Ged Aero, White Spider, and him as the new Grainmaster Aero. So, we are now both very different beings, me a human descended from Earthers, and him a Cornucopean Ear of Corn, controlling all the plant life on the planet.”
“It wasn’t really a fascist thing from the start, was it, Ged-dono.”
“No, Naylund. It was more of a hive-mind as if the entire planet could think as one plant-creature. And all of it flowed through the Grainmaster’s brain.”
They found themselves confronted on the Tarmac by three Blackhawk Corsairs, Razor Conn, the leader, Shad Blackstone, his second in command, and newly uniformed Dana Cole. They looked rather grim. And Ged knew immediately without telepathy or clairvoyance that they came bearing really bad news.
“So, what’s happened now?” Ged dared to ask.
The trio of Blackhawks explained about the death of the White Duke, the preparations for rebellion against the Galtorr Imperium, as well as the battle of Coventry and the war crimes of Trav Dalgoda.
“That’s almost hard to believe,” said Naylund.
“Except it was Trav. I’m afraid I have no trouble believing that,” Ged added.
“Trav died for his sins,” reminded Dana, “And the new creature he has become… well, I’ll personally work on reforming him.”
“And what about the Tesserah thing that Trav used to destroy half of a planet?” Ged asked.
“That’s what the new White Spider of the Space Lanes will be needed for,” said Razor Conn.
“We believe the thing is counting down to the destruction of the entire universe. We don’t want that to happen.”
“Yes, I agree that it does not sound like a very good thing to allow to happen,” Ged said.
“We need you and your students to take it away and destroy it,” said Shad Blackstone.
“You are the only one we believe can actually do it,” added Razor Conn.
“Me? I have no idea what to do.”
“It’s from the prophecy, Ged,” said Naylund. “It suggests that the new White Spider will destroy the Ancient Most-Evil by burying it in the heart of the black hole.”
“What black hole?”
“The one with an Ancient construct orbiting it, Little Swirl.”
“My holy God! That’s all the way Coreward on the other side of the Imperium.”
“It will be your greatest test, Ged. It will be the quest that establishes the reign of the new White Spider of Prophecy.”
“We are going to take a good long look at what this prophecy-thing actually says. And if there is any other way to accomplish it, we are going to consider that instead.”
“We will help you plan the mission, Ged,” said Razor. “But this whole prophecy thing has foretold everything without missing a single detail. I know it’s sorta spooky stuff, but it’s also real. And time is running out for the whole universe.”
“That sounds like a good plot for a whole book,” said Sara, smiling.
“Yeah… but we better take a lot of care about which dumb nut we let write the danged thing,” said Ged.
I, Googol Marou, the author of this book, swear to you, he actually said those words. And I only resent the “dumb nut” part of the comment a little bit.