Canto 147 – The Dilemma of Tiki Astro
Tiki Astro, the robot boy, sat at the control console of the Ancient Red Dragon Space Craft. As a synthetic, computerized being, he was really the only one who could take over the monitoring of the Dragon’s travels when Junior Aero slept. Tiki didn’t have the Psionic ability to read mechanized minds that Junior had, but his computing powers in his psychotronic brain were almost the equal of Junior’s Psion ability to read computer minds via telepathy.
The panel in front of Tiki was a complex sea of buttons, lights, levers and a myriad of labels and warnings written in an indecipherable Ancient script that nobody alive in the present universe could read. Tiki was trying to decipher it in the back of his computerized brain, as he had for a month now. While doing so, he could also look out through the Dragon’s eyes, the bridge of the space craft actually being inside the head of the Dragon, and see the passing stars as the Dragon leaped through jump space into the interior of the Imperium.
“So, Metal Head, how’s it going?” asked Phoenix as he walked onto the bridge.
“My head is not made mostly of metal. Synthetic flesh is composed of elements like…”
“Save the lecture, Tiki. I know what you are. You are the robot trying to be a real boy.”
“Unlike the other boys on this ship, I am only a little over two years old. Three if you count the day my head was activated as my original birthday.”
“Yeah. We are all very different on this flight crew. It makes it all the harder to figure things out.”
“What things?” Tiki asked the flame-haired boy.
“Well, a lot of things are on my mind. I mean, who among us Disciples of the White Spider should be the leader after Sensei Ged Aero?”
“I always assumed it was between Junior Aero and Sara Smith. They are the first two students of the Dojo.” Tiki looked at Phoenix with expressionless eyes.
“Don’t look at me like that. I know it is wrong to be jealous of anyone. But…”
“But you were a leader rather than a follower when you were a student of the Black Spider.”
“Well, yeah… I mean, I was trained by them to be a tactical leader and the commander during combat.”
“And you don’t want to turn over leadership to telepaths and healers?”
“It isn’t just Junior and Sara. I acknowledge that they are my equals in many ways. But there is also the Gaijinese boy, Shu Kwai. He knows how to lead from the front. And his telekinesis is almost as powerful as my pyrokinesis. And when it comes to telepathy, no one among us can keep Hassan Parker out of our heads if he wants to take over our minds. How am I supposed to handle that?”
“What kind of answer are you asking me for?”
“If it came to a fight over who’s in command, would you, as a rational robot, be on my side?”
“Sensei Ged Aero is in charge of this mission.”
“But if something were to happen to him…”
“If it did, we would be in serious trouble already. I would follow the leader with the best plan for whatever the situation is. Maybe you. But also, maybe not you.”
“That’s the kind of answer I expected, Metal Head. But if it came down to it, and the mission was on the line, I would certainly pay attention to who you choose to follow. I know you calculate the odds better than anyone else can.”
“That’s what happens when you make a pocket computer like me into an almost-real boy.”
The conversation ended there, but Phoenix continued studying the stars ahead as he continued to stand behind Tiki and look out the Dragon’s eyes at what was coming into view.