Category Archives: aliens

AeroQuest 4… Canto 111

Canto 111 – Evil Coffee Makers Boil

The Leaping Shadowcat and The First Half-Century both came out of jump space together into the system of 1232 Ardonnis, the home system of the high-population world called Coventry.  Immediately, the situation became the silent-operatic equivalent of Beethoven’s Knock of Doom in the Ninth Symphony.  Daaat Daaat Daaat Dooooh!   Three hundred of the Imperium’s newest space ships, ships of the line, tenders, and support ships were all arrayed against the two ships of Ham and Ferrari’s tiny rebel fleet.

Ham leaned on the pilot’s control panel and let his jaw drop as he gazed out the Shadowcat’s viewport at them.

“I see the Bregohelma!” he cried.  “Admiral Tang is out there himself!”

“We are so dead!” moaned Duke Han Ferrari.  The Duke twisted the right end of his handlebar moustache nervously.  “I will surrender myself to them, and maybe they will spare you and the crew of the Shadowcat.”

“Give me some credit, Duke,” said Ham sullenly.  “I may not be the famous space hunter, Ged Aero, but I can be a hero too.  I will NOT desert my friends.”

“Hey, Ham-boy, old Jester!”  The call came from the command deck of the fighting space frigate, The First Half Century.  “Do you see what I see out there?”

“Yes, Goofy, I’m afraid I do.”

“Wow! Old Jester, I mean literally WOW!  We can win glory in battle like this against impossible odds!”

“Goofy, we are going to die!  Don’t get all hammy over it!  We have to make them pay for it the best we know how.”

“Oh, you got it, Ham-ster!  I am putting the Crown of all Stars on my head right now.  I can use the powers of the Ancients to defeat this bozo!” 

Ham slapped his right hand over his forehead in total frustration.  There was a good reason that Mammy Aero had once banned little Ham and little Ged from playing with the demented little goofy child.  That boy just wasn’t entirely right in the head.

“Belay that!  You don’t need to melt your brain to die in this battle.  You need to fight the way they taught you back at the Space Academy.  We need to go down with honor.”

The video communicator snapped on and showed a smiling one-eyed Goofy with the three-orbed alien thing pulsing yellow, orange, and lime-green lights all over the bridge of the military ship.  Goofy’s crew were resolutely manning battle stations in the background.  Ham could also see the unearthly Tesserah thing pulsing and glowing with menace behind the Goof.

“What’s that Tesserah thing doing?” I asked the view screen, feeling I had to insert myself into the dire problem to find some sort of sensible solution.

“That, old Scientist-Jester, is an Ancient weapon now fully primed and ready to be used against the enemies!”

I have to tell you, I was more than a little alarmed as a scientist and scholar.  This situation seemed sure to end only one way.  We would be atomized by space-born weapons systems or torn atom from atom by Ancient alien energies.  Even I didn’t see a way out.

“I order you to stop what you are doing right now!” said Duke Ferrari, trying to take command of the situation.

“No, your Duke-ness.  I can do this!  Watch!”

Goofy Dalgoda made a face like he was having a painful bowel movement, and then the space between the Tesserah and the Imperial Fleet was suddenly ablaze with alien energy, like a strange ochre lightning in the vacuum of space.

Fifteen Imperial ships disintegrated before our disbelieving eyes.

“Wow!” I said, being the first one able to speak. “Mr. Dalgoda?  Are you actually able to direct that power?”

“Yessir, old Mr. Science Dude!  I can drop that beam on the head of a pin.”

Ham was suddenly smiling again.  He was a very handsome man when he smiled.  “Let them have it, then, Goof!  Give ‘em all you’ve got!”

The Goofy One did not have to be told twice.  Blasts arced out into space on all sides of his ship.  For three hundred and sixty degrees all around, the small capital ship laid waste to larger and more powerful space behemoths.  The Wargod Class Dreadnaught called The Benjamin Franklin, ruptured like a dried gourd and spilled its disintegrating seed into surrounding space.  The Nimitz Class Fleet Carrier, the Colonel Green, launched a thousand fighters as it rolled over in space and dissolved.  One by one all of the fighters winked out of existence too.  It was like watching silent fireworks.  It was all I could do not to shout “Ooh!” and “Ahh!”  There was a terrifying beauty in so much fire and death.

“Goof?” asked Ham anxiously, “Can you target the Bregohelma?

“Oh, Ham-boy!  We have to make the old red bird see all of this destruction first!”

A huge blue bolt of energy surged out of the Tesserah and painted a wide swath over the most populous of the cities below on the planet.  Everyone was suddenly sick to their stomach as almost a billion innocent beings on the planet below were consumed by alien energy.

“Trav!  What have you done?” cried Ham.

“I did just what the crown said I should.  I used my mental connection with the Tesserah to start cleansing the planet below us.”

“Trav!” wept Ham.  “They were on our side!”

As Ham pleaded, I suddenly saw Commander Dana Cole on the view screen.  She had a laser weapon in her hand.  “Forgive me, Ham!” cried Dana Cole as she cut off one of Trav’s arms with the laser.  “He’s possessed by that alien thing!  I have to stop him.”

Trav Dalgoda was still laughing as he used his remaining arm to gesture and make a smaller blue splash of energy launch toward the planet.

“Forgive me, Trav.  I do love you,” said Dana as she sawed off his other arm.  Trav was still smiling as he tried to gesture with a foot.  She cut the leg off too.  Then the other leg.  Finally, with a destroyed look of regret on her face, she cut off Goofy’s head.  The crown grew dark and the Tesserah grew silent.

All of us aboard the Shadowcat were still stunned.  Trav had nearly saved us from catastrophe.  Then he made everything a billion times worse.

“We can still win,” growled Ham resolutely.  “I can crash the Shadowcat into the bridge of the Bregohelma and destroy Admiral Tang.”

Trav’s former command, the frigate, was battling the last remaining ship of the line, and apparently winning.  We actually could rule the day if we made the ultimate sacrifice Ham was suggesting.  All on the bridge of the little safari ship looked each other in the eye and nodded yes to it.  Ham fixed the navigational controls on the target, dead center on the bridge of the Admiral’s Flagship.  Full throttle we began to plunge toward her.

In my mind, the symphony had reached a crescendo, cymbals clashing, drums rumbling, and violins soaring.  I was prepared to die in that instant, as we all were.

Sinbadh, the Lupin space cook, stuck his head in the doorway to the bridge.

“Ham,” he said, “ye has made me poop meself!”

Ham laughed bitterly.

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Space Book Free

My title doesn’t mean that I am free from writing space books. These bizarre little sci-fi satires keep reeling out of the space between my ears. My head is full of science fiction froo-froo. And it has to go somewhere. So, in honor of Book 3 of the AeroQuest series being free this weekend (through September 22), I am posting today more AeroQuest art.

Fiona Arbuckle, Space Journalist from the planet Don’t Go Here.
A Nebulon Princess, blue-skinned alien wife of Ham Aero.
The villainous synthezoid villain.
Time Traveller and meddler extraordinaire
ADaB (Another Danged Boy 1578) an artificial life-form created to be ultra-creative
A pestiferous alien life-form of questionable intelligence
Admiral Tron and Grand Admiral Cloudstalker
Fleet Admiral King Killer
Banzai Joe, owner and operator of the Rimbaud Memorial Deep-Space Outstation
Girl traveler of time and space
Space Opera Hero
Triceratops Space Cruiser from the rebel planet Don’t Go Here.
Three alien space kids
The cover of Book 4

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 110

Canto 110 – Ship to Ship 

It was the commander on the bridge of the Bregohelma who first spotted it as it came out of jump space.

“What the hell is that?” he complained in a nasally voice while looking out of a face that was not the face of a weasel, but that only obvious because DNA scans had proved he was human and he didn’t have a tail.  He looked around the bridge for someone to give him an answer to his question.  But almost everyone on bridge duty at that moment was an undead rot-warrior, a skeletal dead body reanimated with electronics and controlled by a computerized brain.  And all of them, at that moment were still trying to compute how to get the answer out of “Hell” since that was where the commander had requested it from.

“That looks like a… dinosaur,” said Wormheart Toadsucker, who was only slightly less dead-looking and probably less intelligent than the rot warriors.  “You know, like the ones on the planet Dionysus.”

“It can’t be one of those.  It’s in space.  It just appeared in far orbit around the planet.”

“You should have one of the smart ones scan it,” said Wormheart.  “I need to go alert Admiral Tang.

“Okay, which of these mud-brains is a smart one?”   The commander looked at every vacant-eyed face on the bridge and then started scanning himself.   Amazing things began popping up on the scanner-screen report.

The red-armored admiral appeared on the bridge moments later with the boot-licker Wormheart groveling along behind him.

“So, what does it appear to be?” asked the admiral in his ultra-creepy modulated voice.

“Well, it’s a kind of starship like I have never seen before.  The scanner computer can’t completely identify it.  It seems to be some sort of alien artifact from the time of the Ancients.”

“Ah, that might explain the weird dinosaur shape.  The Ancients were of so much higher a tech level than we are now that many of their relics seem totally inexplicable to us.”

“Yes, but this one has a primarily human crew.  They are not even mostly Galtorrian/human fusions like you might expect.  Just plain Earther types.”

“And it is coming towards us under power.”

“Yes, Admiral.”

“Are the shields up?”

“Um… they are now.”  The commander quickly corrected his oversight.

“Find out what they want.”

As soon as the admiral commanded it, a visual appeared on the commo-screen.  The Lizard Lady herself appeared in the middle of a bridge full of oddly-dressed human crewmen.

“Are you not an Imperial spy, Captain?”  Admiral Tang asked, lowering his voice to basement levels of creepiness.

“I am.  And I have stolen a flagship of the new fleet you will face if you try to invade the Outpost system of Tron Blastarr.”

“That is remarkable good work, um… what is your name?”

“I am an original Galtorrian, simply called Lizard Lady.”

“You will be remembered as a hero to the Imperium, Lizard Lady.”

“Ah, but the mission is not yet fully complete.  We need to pull up to your ship and dock.  This is Ancient technology, and we will need your brilliance to fully control it.”

“Very well… we should be able to…”

Suddenly another sleek spaceship of Ancient designed popped out of jump space directly beside the dinosaur-shaped ship.  After a few moments in which no one had time to do another scan, the new, sleek ship disappeared once again.

“We are moving in to dock with you now, Admiral,” said the Lizard Lady as she gave orders quietly to her pilots and then swiftly left the bridge before Tang could ask her anything.

The dinosaur ship lurched forward and was approaching at an impossible docking speed.

“Shields on maximum!  Back away from them fast,” ordered Tang, obviously sensing a trick.  “Fire everything at that ship now!”

Lasers, plasma cannons, nuclear missiles, and Gauss cannons all fired at the incoming ship.  It did not fire back.  Instead it ignited and blew up in what would have been a spectacular fireball if it had blown up in an oxygen or hydrogen-rich atmosphere.  The shock-wave nearly obliterated the Bregohelma as it was, but apparently it was too far distant for the resolution of the mission that the Lizard Lady had planned.

                                    *****

Dr. Hooey’s time ship, the Star Wars, materialized in the Bregohelma’s cargo bay.

The door of the phone-booth-like thing opened and the Lizard Lady stepped out to confirm her present location.

“Is it the proper cargo bay?” asked Dr. Hooey from inside the time ship.

“It is,” she answered.  “Now that we are in the proper place, we only need to move to the proper time.

“Very well.  The time according to which of the prophecies?”

“Yes, according to all of them.” She stepped back into the time ship.  It made its normal grinding sound, and promptly disappeared into the near future.

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AeroQuest 4… Scherzo 11

Scherzo 11 – Breaking News with Fiona

I found this report in the Don’t Go Here Dino-News and decided, since I am more than a little bit lazy, I would quote it wholly to take the place of this part of the history you are now reading.

  • Googal Marrou
Your beloved reporter; Fiona Arbuckle

Fionna Arbuckle here, your favorite cub reporter with all the gossip that anybody who is remotely anybody listens to and commits to heart to be able to repeat word for word to everybody in the town square of beautiful Bedrock City, for Dino-News’s gossip pages.

The breaking news this reporter was turned on to by the stealthy revelations of moderately leaky New Star League Fleet security personnel, has to do with a certain handsome new Grand Admiral and his Second-in-Command, inexplicably named after a two-winged insect and a color known in the Classical Worlds as “noire,” who were seen together in the lifeboat after having escaped a kidnapping of their new fleet flagship and accidentally turning broadcast cameras on with a stray limb in such a state of intimate compromise that they are now needing to get married at the point of a shotgun…

And yes, I do actually need to take a breath after a run-on sentence delivered at a high rate of speed in order to deliver every bit of juicy information possible in the time available due to the short attention spans of our supposed cave-man audience-members… whooo…

And here comes the couple now.  We shall see if we can get a word with them.

“Grand Admiral Cloudstalker, is it true that you and Commander Black Fly are seriously on the brink of tying a knot that you may or may not regret for the rest of your natural life?”

“Um… no.  No, it is not true that members of the radical White Spider Cult are at this moment taking our captured flagship full of traitors straight to Admiral Tang.”

“Wait, there’s a White Spider Cult?  A cult that lives by the credo set forth in the Prophecy of Shan?”

“What…?  No…. I mean, yes, that cult…. But not the ones who actually follow the teachings of the interstellar White Spider Ged Aero.  Rather, a splinter group following the so-called Bishop of the White Spider and her insane interpretation of the Prophecy of …?  What was it again, honey?”

“I think it was the Prophecy of Xan.  But it is possible that all of the versions of the Prophecy speak of the betrayal from the acolytes of the Grand One.”

“The Grand One?  Does that refer to… me? The Grand Admiral?”

“Possibly…”

“Anyway… we will not be deterred from our intentions to repel invaders when they come to attack the worlds of the New Star League.  And we will get the flagship back before the battle takes place, I promise you that.”

“Actually, the Admiral doesn’t promise that.  He will not be able to retrieve that ship at all, in all likelihood.”

“Oh, you have just heard from cute little munchkin Commander ADaB from Djinnistan.  He and Commander PiP in all probability will also be getting married in a shotgun wedding arrangement judging by the accidentally switched-on cameras in their escape pod.”

“We will not, Miss Arbuckle.  I have seven wives already to think about.  We will just be having a torrid love affair.  And we are called Peris… definitely NOT munchkins!”

“Admiral?  You never actually answered that question when it was put to you and Commander Black Fly.  Can you tell us now?”

“Fionna, I wish you were better at hearing what is not being said and figuring out why.  Yes, we will be getting married.  You specifically are being invited.  And if wedding ceremonies on Black Fly’s planet include ritual human sacrifice, that honor will be entirely yours.”

“Oh, why thank you for that, Admiral.  I only hope it is not a bloody sort of ritual.  I cannot stomach the sight of blood.”

“He was joking, my dear Fiona.”

“Thank goodness… erm, I mean thank you for sharing, Miss Fly.  And um… was it the wedding part that was the joke?”

“No, we are definitely getting married.  We talked about it on the way back to base.”

“You heard it here first, folks.  There is going to be a Grand Admiral’s wedding between the planet Don’t Go Here’s most notable power couple.  And you heard it from cub reporter Fiona Arbuckle, representing the Don’t Go Here Dino-News.”

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AeroQuest 4… Nocturne 9

Nocturne 9 – It’s Sighing Time Again

Ham had a bit of time in jump space to relax and worry about nothing.  Worm holes are strange and mysterious things to travel through.  Because of the fickle nature of relativity, traveling one parsec of space took about the same amount of time as traveling six parsecs of space.  Jump space, because it was outside the physical boundaries of normal space, was riddled with quantum unpredictability and constants such as the speed of light.  It meant that you had to traverse both time and space.  So, it would be at least a week before he and the crew of the Leaping Shadowcat had to deal with the terrors and the politics that awaited them on the planet Coventry.

The Madonna had made their mutual cabin aboard the Leaping Shadowcat starship into a very comfortable and homey place.  She decorated it in that strange, amorphous way that Nebulons have of making everything look like the inside of an egg, all organic and squishy-like.  The foam furniture she had made with the material synthesizer was all blobby, colorful, and very soft to the touch.  Jarring to the eye at first, Ham had come to find it quite restful and lovely.

“How are you feeling today, Honey?” Ham said to the bustling little blue woman.

“You is no help, Hamfast.  You going nowhere and laying on my home, making me perfect witch in making of home.”

“Love, I have no idea what you just said, but why are you so angry?”  Ham tried to make sympathetic eyes towards his small, blue wife.

“You is no knowing!  You is big, stupid-fat with no good in your bottoms.”

Ham was mystified.  She had always been so affectionate and loving.  Why was she now in such a rage?

He wondered how he might help her.  He pushed the button on the shipboard intercom.  “Sahleck?  I think I might need your help with a little cleaning in our cabin.”

“Sure, boss,” came the reply in a child-like voice.

Sure, he had solved the problem and made it up to the little blue woman, Ham turned back to her with a silly grin.  “Are you okay now?”

“Not okay!  Hokey smoke!  You is big, big dumbhead!”

Again, Ham was confused and flustered.  His little blue wife was blowing steam out of her nostrils for no apparent reason.  She rearranged mushroom-shaped divans with all the elegance of a raging wolverine in a henhouse.  Small bits of fluff and foam flew everywhere.

“Is it something I did?”

“You no is talking to me.  I still love you, but not kissing you am I ever again!”

“Why?  What is the matter?”

“Oh!  Grrr I says!”  A large green foam cushion came flying at Ham’s head.  It bounced off of him with enough force to drive him to his knees.  “Dumb!  Dumb dumb dumb, I say!”

A large sofa-sized foam pillow whirled over Ham’s head and smashed into the young Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim, as he tried to enter the cabin with an armload of vacuum cleaner attachments and dust bins.  It sent the boy flying backwards into the hall, banging his head against the bulkhead.

“Sahleck!”  Ham leaped to the rescue.  He had come to be quite fond of the puppy-like boy.  Fonder even than he was of the more adult-like Sinbadh.  He reached the crumpled child in a flash, and tenderly picked him up from the hall floor.  “Oh, Sahleck, I am so sorry!”

Sahleck’s furry head was bleeding just a touch, but the boy quickly came back to his senses.  “What did I do?” he asked, seeming slightly stricken.

Ham looked at the Madonna, standing in the middle of the cabin with a horrified look on her blue face.  She began to weep.

“Everything is fine, boy,” Ham said.  “You are all right and no one is mad at you.  It was an accident.”

The Madonna looked at Ham and the dog-boy with stricken eyes.  “You are good father-man, no?” she asked the air in general.

“I don’t know,” said Ham.  “Why?”

“You are going to need be one,” she said.  “You will be a daddy soon.  You and me, we will have a three.”

A child?  Ham couldn’t believe it.  He was both shocked and filled with joy.  How could this have happened?  No, he knew how.  It was wonderful.  In all his days of traveling and hunting through the stars, he never dreamed that one day he would find both happiness and a family.

 “Madonna, my love, I love you!”

The blue-skinned beauty stared at him.  It was obvious that if a Nebulon could blush, she would be glowing red.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 109

Canto 109 – Whoa, Gnarly, Dude!

The crew of the Megadeth were busy playing beer pong in the main lounge of the starship when suddenly Dr. Hooey, Time Knight and man of mystery, mysteriously showed up at the door to the lounge.

“Oh, hey, Big-nosed Dude!  Nice to see ya an’ all, but you ain’t supposed to be here.  Not without the Megadeth tellin’ us that ya entered the ship!” said Nikki Sixx with a rather non-sober glint in his eyes.

“I am not going to argue with anyone here.  I know this timeline like the back of my hand.  You are going to agree to take me to the Battle of Coventry.  It is necessary that you do this.  And the book in the archives says that you have done it every time you were asked in every reality.  I realize that I am not Shan Sasaki and this is the first reality that you have been asked by me for this favor.  Still…”

 “Wha…?” said Cold Death, shaking his green mohawk both stupidly and drunkenly in the same shake.

“What my esteemed colleague is trying to say is that we not only don’t know who you are, but we do not have any sort of authorization from any of our superior officers for the sort of transportation mission you are presently seeking.”

“Ah, yes.  You are the one who speaks more coherently when you are drunk.  You are the one named Vince Niell.  You are the one I need to be talking to.”

“Whoa, gnarly dude!” said Nikki Sixx.  “You can acktually unnerstan’ him when he’s drunk?”

“Actually, Mr. Time Knight, sir, I spell my name Vince Neill when I am drunk.”

“Oh?  And why is that?”

“The only reason I spell it wrong to begin with is because some kid playing a role-playing game with the writer of this story named me with the wrong spelling long ago.”

“Yes, and the writer left it spelled wrong as a joke.  I know all of that.  But that’s why you have to do this.  The writer needs a Deux ex Machina solution to an upcoming problem that he can’t figure out another way to solve.”

“Wha…?” commented Cold Death stupidly as his ping pong ball missed all the cups and he was forced to drink five cups of Antarian Ale all at once.

“You know, you are playing beer pong all wrong,” Hooey said.

“Yeah… but we like it bedder dis way,” said Nikki.  “But what the Cold Man wansta say is, whatta hell is Dooz-x-Mockeena?”

“It means God in the Box, my inebriated minion.   The author can’t think of any way to solve a problem but to pull an answer out of his anal sphincter.”

“Whoa, gnarly, Dude!”

“Yes, you said that already,” reminded Hooey, concerned about too much repetition of dialogue in an already tepid tale.  “So, you’ll do this for me, Vince?”

“Yes.  On the basis of that rationale.  But Captain Tommy Lee and Ensign Pamela are both on the planet giving a concert tonight.”

“That’s fine.  I have it on the authority of the Library of All Time that tonight is the real start of their fame and singing career.  We don’t need them.”

“Okay then.  I am inappropriately, and without following proper protocol, going to agree to your commands.  But only because I am totally, stupidly drunk at the moment due to our horrible misinterpretation of the standard rules of beer pong.”

“That works for me.”

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Andre Norton, Sci-Fi Royalty

It began for me in 1977 with this wrap-around cover illustration. I knew there were a lot of this guy’s books on the shelves of the college bookstore along with works by Robert E. Howard, Roger Zelazney, and Theodore Sturgeon. And I knew this guy had also written paperback books under the name “Andrew North”, a name I had seen on the twenty-five cent novels in the drugstore where you could buy the really good pulp fiction novels only slightly used.

I had never before bought one of his books. And the book money I had for the fall quarter at Iowa State was supposed to all go towards the book-list given to me as a Junior-level English major. But the naked kid on the cover had a wired-up collar around his neck. And I had only recently recovered long-suppressed memories of being a victim of a sexual assault. I had to have it. I had to know what that illustration had to do with the story inside.

So, I bought a book that I judged by its cover.

And it was not the wrong thing to do.

The main character was a boy named Jony, the naked boy on the cover of the book. He is taken by alien beings as a study specimen along with his mother, the pregnant woman on the back of the wrap-around illustration. The story starts with Jony in a cage, treated like an animal. His mother, also a study specimen has been mated to a Neanderthal-like humanoid specimen who cannot speak, and she has given birth to twins, a boy, and a girl. They are kept in separate cages by their inhuman captors.

Jony manages a mass escape, taking his mother and his younger siblings with him, and releasing as many of the other study specimens as he can. Luckily they escape onto a very earth-like planet. But unluckily, the mother is in very poor health and dies soon after escaping. Jony is then responsible for his little brother and sister in a wilderness that is not empty of others. Luckily, the others they first run afoul of are the bear-like ursine aliens who share their need to not be recaptured by the zoo-keeper aliens.

It was a perfect novel for me. I identified strongly with the main character, who had been violated in a very personal way by monsters. And then had to build a new life in a world full of potential other-monsters. Andre Norton shared my pain and helped me overcome it.

But she also fooled me big-time. She was not a he.

She was a librarian and editor of pulp fiction who wrote enough sci-fi and fantasy in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s to finally become a full-time author.

She was already on book number 29 when she retired from being a librarian to write full time.

And I would go on to own and read several of her other books, which were good, but never quite lived up to that first one I read. Of course, that may have been because of the timing and circumstance that led me to a book that I actually needed to read. That book set me on the road to recovery from my personal darkness. And it may have sparked in me the need to eventually become a nudist. And more important than that, it may have led me to a lifelong need to teach reading.

Andre Norton was a real writer. And she made me one too. Though I never knew who she really was until after I bought that book because of the picture on the cover. And I never got around to properly thanking her for all of that… Until this very moment.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 108

Canto 108 – The Lost Child

Things had been chaotic in and around Outpost for an Earth-time week.   Tron and Maggie were both dragging from one conference and administrative nightmare to the next.

Elvis and King Killer found them sagging in their seats at the conference table in the Outpost control center. 

“Boss, it’s not that bad.  Nobody died in a training accident today,” said Elvis the Cruel.

“Really?” said Tron with a snort.  “Two of those Triceratops starship-thingies locked horns and tore the bridge section off of one of them.”

“But nobody died,” reaffirmed King.

“Well, that’s something,” said Maggie, blowing a stray red hair out of her eyes.

“The problem with those things is that they have a mind  of their own.  It’s hard enough to learn starship combat from complete scratch like these maroonies and alien squid-men have to, without having to learn to accept interference from your own starship at the same time.”  King had offered the same complaint a hundred times already, but it didn’t hurt for Tron to hear it again.

At that moment, Artran, the adult version, wandered into the conference room having heard everything that was said.

“You know these things are shaped like dinosaurs for a reason, right?” Artran asked with a grin.

“Yeah.  A Flintstones reason,” griped King.

“If they were actual living riding beasts, you would have to learn to ride them differently.  You can’t control them so much as you have to guide them.  Think of it like leading them with a tug on the reins.”  Artran’s reasoning was actually quite eye-opening.  The starships shaped like dinosaurs were created by an artificial alien intelligence that came to them by way of the inscrutable Ancients.  It was a superior race that created them from the highest level of technology that living beings had ever known.  If they acted and reacted in contrary ways, it had to be because the lesser beings flying them didn’t understand their ways.

“How did you get so wise since you were a little boy just a couple of months ago?” Maggie asked her son who had suddenly become a man, seemingly overnight.

“Spent the last twenty years in the past with the Star Nomads, exploring unknown space and learning more than I ever could’ve learned from tutor robots on Outpost.”

Actual tears flowed down Maggie’s cheeks.  “I miss the little boy you were.  I feel like your Nomads have robbed me of precious time with my young son.”

“I don’t regret the things I have learned,” Artran said sympathetically.  “And soon you will have another little boy to play mommy with.”

“Really?  How do you know it will be a boy?”

“Star Nomads travel in ways that bend time.  I have seen Starchart in my past and your future.  He’s a great kid.”

“Really?  I won’t lose him the same way I lost you?”

“I guarantee it, Mom.  And you haven’t lost me.  I’m here now.  And I will help you win the upcoming war.”

“So, what are we supposed to be doing differently with these dinosaur-shaped starships?” King scoffed with a note of resignation in his voice.

“Train them to let their Triceratops riding beasts run like a herd.  In life, herds of horned herbivores would stampede together at the enemy as a way to overwhelm and trample their tormentors.  Herds of bison once did the same thing.  If there were enough time, I’d take you back in time to show you.”

Tron grinned.  “And I’d go with you too.  But I have the idea already from what you have told us.  King, can you train them to do what Artran is suggesting?”

“With starships?”

“Maybe you start thinking of them as riding beasts.”

“Yeah.  I could definitely do that.  But I have never flown a bison before, or anything like that.”

That made everybody laugh.  But King had a sense in the pit of his old stomach that the Lost Boy maybe had just solved a major training problem.

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AeroQuest 4… Nocturne 8

Nocturne 8 – In Space, in an Egg…

The two escape pods pushed out of the back end of the Apatosaurus-shaped command starship both looked like extremely large dinosaur eggs.  Two command-level officers were being marooned in space in each pod.  Fortunately for those inside the space-dino eggs, Admiral Cloudstalker and Captain Black Fly in one, ADaB and PiP, the two Djinnistani Peris, in the other, they were still on the edge of the Don’t Go Here star system.  They could communicate with Aerobase Frieda and be rescued within a couple of hours at sub-light speeds.

“Well, I guess I really blew that one,” Arkin Cloudstalker said, referring to the theft of their command vessel while they were making their initial inspection tour.

“You really can’t blame yourself for this one, sir,” Black Fly said sympathetically.

“What do you mean?  Certainly, I can blame myself if I want to.  It’s what good leaders do… take responsibility for failures, I mean.”

“You didn’t fail.  You were taken prisoner in a very well-planned shipboard insurrection carried out by a group of religious fanatics, the very existence of which no one could’ve even predicted, much less defeated.”

“We were aware such a cult existed, weren’t we?”

“No.  We were not.  You can take my word for it as a top agent of the White Duke’s special intelligence forces.  We knew there were scholars and zealots who followed the prophecies religiously, but no one knew they had leadership with Imperial Intelligence training and a gift for military plans just like the one we fell victim to.  If you have to blame someone, blame me.  I’m the one with the intelligence responsibilities and long years of training.”

“Well, I certainly don’t blame you.  Tell me, since Black Fly is some kinda code name, do you even have a real name?”

 “My name is legally now “the Black Fly,” my mother once called me Amanda… and you can too, if you like.”

Arkin nodded.  He would certainly remember that name.  He knew that he preferred it to her real name.

“Maybe we should put in a call to ADaB and PiP.  They may have called Frieda already.  I’m sure help is probably on the way.”

“It’s part of the genius of Lizard Lady’s plan that she kidnapped us, and waited until we were at the edge of the heliosphere before she set us adrift in space.”

“How so?”

“She knew that no one could blast her out of orbit with you still on board.  You’re the Grand Admiral, after all.”

“Well, that’s something I will have a hard time living down with Tron Blastarr.  I lost his brand-new starship design the very first time I was acting as the Grand Admiral.”     

“He shouldn’t be that hard to handle.  You’re his boss now, you know,” she answered.

“Yes, that’s true, isn’t it?”

Arkin reached over to the comm unit on the inside wall of the space egg.  He punched in the code for the other egg.

“Um, Admiral… ah… um, ah, AH, AAAHHH!” said ADaB’s voice, cryptically.

“What’s happening, ADaB?  Are you being murdered?”

“Um, ah… no, Admiral.  It’s PiP.  She says we have a couple of hours to kill.  And, well…  She’s very much a female you know.”

“Yes, I know.”

“And the average female Peri is taught many years’ worth of love-making skills on Djinnistan.  And she’s… she’s… very GOOoooOOOoodddD!  Um, gotta go now, boss…”

“Hmm.  And here I thought the two of them didn’t really like each other very much.”

When Arkin looked at Black Fly Amanda, though, he noticed the evil sparkle in her eyes and the smirk on her face.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Arkin asked.

“Well, those two little imps put some ideas in my head.  And, anyway, you had to have noticed where it was always going to end up between the two of us.  Am I right?”

Arkin Cloudstalker blushed furiously.  He was a Space Knight, a hero in a white cowboy hat.  He had worked with Lady Knights for years, and never once…

And then beautiful Amanda kissed him. He reached up and switched off the lights.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 107

Canto 107 – A Group of Space Goons is Called a Goon-o-plex

The situation on Rimbaud Memorial Outstation began with a single Space Goon, as they all almost always do.  Infestations, I mean.  Space Goons reproduce asexually like microscopic amoebas do, by splitting into three parts after eating something.  And then each part split off from the original grows into a new Goon.  First you have one.  It eats a cat.  Then you have three.  They eat another cat, a plate of unattended Italian meatballs, and a decorative plant.  Then you have nine.  Six of those get into the food pantry.  One finds the last living cat on the outstation. And two more eat a small gambler who lost everything playing deep-space poker and drank himself into a coma with gargleblasters.  Then you quickly reach eighty-one.  You get the alarming idea, right?

“Mon dieu!” cried Banzai. “They will consume everything edible on my entire station!  Please, friends, you must help me round them up and herd them out an airlock.”

“But isn’t that too cruel to do to a sentient creature?” asked Dana Cole, still shivering and naked at Trav’s command.

“They are not even as smart as Goofy Dalgoda,” said Ham Aero.

“That’s right!” cried Trav “Goofy” Dalgoda.  “We must space them because they are too stupid to live.”

“No, they are able to live fine in space without space suits,” I told them all, calling upon my scientific acumen and nearly omniscient memory.  “They will just float happily out there with nothing to eat, at least until they collide with a planet or asteroid, or some other place with gravity.”

“Do I recall correctly when I remember that in a feeding frenzy, a hundred Space Goons start eating people… at least those made of flesh and blood?” asked Duke Ferrari, showing something more than just mild concern.

“Naw, I think that’s just a spacer myth told because Space Goons come from unknown space and not enough is known about them,” suggested Ham.

At that same moment, a Space Nudist serving girl disappeared in a goon-o-plex of a hundred and three Goons.  Muffled cries were heard, followed by munching sounds, and then no more serving girl was to be seen.

“How do we get them off the outstation?” asked Banzai.

“I has some middlin’ experience with Space Goon cat-nip recipes, I has,” volunteered Sinbadh, offering his cooking skills.

“What did he say?” asked Banzai.

“He says he’ll cook up some Goon-bait to put in the airlock,” I translated.  “If the smell is right, they will all follow the bait out into space and reproduce out there.”

“But Oi will needs sum special Goon grub to make it with!” announced Sinbadh.

“What do you need?”  Banzai was desperate.

“Ol’ shoe-leather, some turpentine, Samothracian onions, a dash o’ me own special sauce, and all the bar soap you can muster from every fresher on the whole outstation, me buck-o!”

Swiftly the star-dog cook got to his business.  Banzai kept the ravenous Space goons, now over a thousand strong, occupied by throwing them a few non-paying customers and one or two of his ugliest serving girls.

Then Sinbadh returned from the kitchen with a pot of extremely smelly stew.  He ran past the Space Goons to an emergency airlock, grabbed hold of a support beam with one hand, opened the air lock with his foot, and while Space Goons, outstation staff, and customers alike were sucked out into space, threw the pot of smelly goo out too.  All of the Space Goons followed it out.  As Sinbadh closed the airlock again, we could see that only about fifty percent of the people in the area the Space Goons had infested were lost to the void.  None of those who were in our party failed to secure themselves against being sucked out of the station into space.  So, the ploy was at least slightly successful.

“How did you fools manage to survive this?” cried Sorcerer 15, standing near the concourse doorway with an angry look on his white, Synthezoid face.

“You again?” Trav cried, pulling out of his hidden super-pocket that held items in an interdimensional bubble, his latest acquisition, a brand-new super-illegal Skortch ray gun.

“I’m ready for you this time Dalgoda!” said Sorcerer, pulling out a mirror-shield.

Trav shot Sorcerer 15 in the feet.  As his artificial feet disintegrated, he dropped and broke the mirror-shield.

Trav then shot him in the torso and disintegrated the rest of him.

“I hate to admit it, Trav, but your obsessions prove useful at times,” Ham said.

“You will now politely give me the illegal weapon,” said Banzai Joe. “Be careful not to accidentally put a hole in the outstation that will kill us all…”

Trav grinned.  First, he pointed the weapon at Banzai’s midsection. Then he handed it carefully to the outstation’s manager.  “Of course.  I will get it back before I leave, though.  That weapon of massive destruction belongs to me.  And you owe it to me to give it back.  After all, I heroically saved your entire station.”

“Yes, yes… But only when you leave.  I actually owe the star-dog much, much more.”

That little soiree was not the first time I had nearly lost my life to a Space Goon infestation.  And it wouldn’t be the last.  But it was easily one of the fastest and most ironically amusing.

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