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Aeroquest… Canto 21

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Canto 21 – Blue Boy

The entire group of adventurers went aboard the Leaping Shadowcat to work out their problems. The Hammer, an ancient device of incredible power, was now actually in their possession. Junior Aero had detected it hidden within the Synthezoid’s body cavity.

Junior Aero“How was this boy able to read the robot’s mind?” Ged asked Tkriashav.

The almond-eyed Psion Master looked at Ged through narrowed eyes. “He has a Psionic power I’ve never encountered before. His mind reads as a telepath, but he can read artificial minds. He can manipulate computers and robots in the same way Tara and I can bend human minds.”

“Will you teach him to use this power?” Ham asked.
“No,” said Tkriashav, closing his eyes. “I believe he is meant to be Ged’s first student. I can’t touch his mind properly. Neither can Tara. He might prove dangerous to us.”

“But…” began Ged, “I don’t know how to teach! …Not Psion power!”

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“You know more than you realize,” said Tkriashav. “You are a master of the inner eye. You do it so well. It is an instinct with you. From what we saw today, the child is nearly there himself. All he really needs from you is moral guidance, positive support, and, well… love.
Ged looked at the blue-skinned boy. He hadn’t really paid much attention to him before. He looked like a blue version of Ham when he was young. He was small and thin. He hardly ever smiled, but he had dimples when he did smile. He was nine years old, but looked more the size of a six-year-old. It was his Nebulonin curse to be forever small and child-like. Ged nodded. He could learn to love this boy.

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“Lend me a hand, Ged,” said Ham as he hoisted the inert body of the Synthezoid onto the game-skinning table. The Madonna had gone to the galley to cook. Tara and Sinbadh had gone to help. That left Bam-Bam, Ged, Tkriashav, and Ham to do the surgery on the Synthezoid.
Ged helped Ham stretch the body out on the table. They pierced the wrists and ankles with skinning hooks. The flesh oozed green juice as if it were blood, but there the similarity to human anatomy ended. There were layers of circuit-weave mesh under the skin and titanium bones at the bottom of it. On the outside, Sorcerer 4 was made like a human. He even had the naughty bits. But under the skin, he was all robot with fiber optic wires and blinking lights everywhere. Ham easily peeled away synthetic flesh to reveal the metal man underneath.
In the hollow of the Synthezoid’s chest cavity, they uncovered the device itself. Ged almost laughed at Junior’s big-eyed facial expression when the boy first saw the Hammer of God. Everyone had been pretty much expecting a Thor’s Hammer type of thing. What they got was an undecorated tube with two right-angled handles on one end. You would never know it was an ancient artifact without the eerie purple glow coming out the open end. It looked like an ordinary plumber’s tool.
“There are no buttons to use the dang thing!” swore Ham, disappointed.
“No,” said Junior in a small voice, “but the thing is telepathic.”
“He’s right,” confirmed Tkriashav. “I can sense that to use the device, you must be a telepath.”
“Oh, great!” moaned Ham.
“It’s workable,” said Ged. “We have to use these things carefully. We will ask Frieda about it, and we have telepaths that might be willing to help us.”
“You do,” confirmed Tkriashav. “I know I haven’t earned your trust yet, but from here on out, our destinies are all intertwined.”
“Even mine?” asked the little blue boy.
“Especially yours,” said Tkriashav.
Ged couldn’t help but be a little spooked by the Psion Master. He didn’t like knowing so many riddles about the future, and he was not comfortable around someone who did.

Tkriashav picked up the Hammer. “It makes things according to mental directions. It uses some kind of organizing power that can rearrange molecules and energy flows. It is light years beyond any technology on Don’t Go Here.”

“What will we use it for?” asked Bam-Bam.
“This planet,” said Ham. “We can bring space-travel technology here with the thingy. We’ll build downports and dry-docks and spacecraft. We can make this world high tech overnight.”
“Don’t be surprised if they insist on staying cave men,” warned Tkriashav.
“Yeah,” said Bam-Bam. “Most of us grew up in Fredsuits and riding dino-back.”

“If we’re going to make this world home, we need to dress it up a little bit,” sighed Ged.

“Yes,” said Tkriashav. “But this world may not turn out to be home in the long run.”

“Why would that be?” asked Ham.

“I see other places on both of your horizons.”

Ged shivered. “Don’t tell me that. I don’t want to know.”

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Aeroquest… Canto 20

Canto 20 – Seize the Hammer

In the caverns of Don’t Go Here, Ged and Ham and company had arrived at the coordinates of the so-called Hammer of God. Instead of some large ancient construct resembling Thor’s Hammer, however, they found a small army awaiting them. They were not an un-schooled, low-tech army of cave people. They were leather-clad laser jerks, complete with plasma laser rifles and allosaurus mounts.
The army was led by a white-skinned conehead in fake tiger fur. He rode the largest of the allosaurs and he had a small electrical star orbiting his cranium.
“So, you are the Aero Brothers!” cried the cone-headed leader. “You are too late to thwart me this time. I have the Hammer already, and I mean to kill you all now!”
“Ged,” said Ham, “You have such ill-mannered friends.”
“I’m sorry. I hang out in too many low places, I guesssss,” answered Ged, already transforming into the familiar raptor body.
A beam of green energy lanced out of Ham’s weapon and sliced the torso of a bald allosaurus rider in two pieces. Sinbadh’s twin laser pistols splashed angry red beams along the flanks of two different allosaurs, spilling intestines. The beast that didn’t fall dead immediately lashed out in pain and took the head off of another laser jerk.
Chaos erupted before the Synthezoid leader could give any orders to his army. Ged and Ham had never fought an army before, but they knew dangerous beasts from years of hunting experience. They could split up and de-fang a large group of xenomorphs with great skill.
Beams of blue-white plasma leaped out of the laser jerk barrels and skewered things in their path mostly in random directions. One beam passed through the craniums of two of the ten allosaurs in one shot. It wasn’t enough to kill the two-ton carnivores, but it put them both down with smoking holes in their heads.
Ged had transformed and used the raptor’s innate leaping and clawing ability to great effect. He was quickly up on the allosaurus backs and slashing away at laser jerks, piercing leather armor with the wicked hooked claws he wore on each foot. Growling in triumph, he twisted the head off another laser jerk.
Tkriashav used his telekinetic powers to shield the group from laser fire. Plasma and heat splattered off his invisible force fields to set the rocks alight. Puddles of magma began to form around the group of adventurers as rock melted under the rain of deflected plasma.
Tara sent streams of mental fire into the brains of untouched laser jerks. Most fell from their mounts into the burning lava puddles, or to be eaten by their own agitated mounts. Riderless allosaurs did not stick around for a further fight. They scattered into the darker recesses of the back part of the cavern.
The artificial man, unhorsed from his allosaurus, lay glaring up at the raptor Ged with a fierce defiance on his white face. “I shall not underestimate you again, Ged Aero,” he said. “There are ways to defeat even your kind. Psions have weaknesses too!”
“Who are you?” demanded Ham, pointing his laser weapon at the face of the Synthezoid. Bam-Bam Salongi, unable to do anything but watch in the battle, had picked up a plasma rifle. He leveled it at the Synthezoid and showed him that Bam-Bam had seen how they operated by observing laser jerks. He fingered the trigger switch menacingly.
“I am called Sorcerer 4. Remember that name. I will be the death of you all.”
Suddenly the Synthezoid began to hum internally. His eyes rolled back, and his orbiting spark went out like a light bulb.
“He’s going to explode!” shouted Tkriashav. His inner eye had warned him.
“I will get it!” shouted the little blue boy. His naked body vaulted over the corpses to lay hands on the Synthezoid’s head. “He’s still downloading to somewhere else!” Junior closed his eyes and directed a bolt of mental energy into the metal mind.
“The boy can’t do anything!” warned Tara. “We can’t read that artificial mind!”
Suddenly the whirring and the humming ceased.
“I stopped him,” said the boy, smiling. “I mentally diffused the bomb. I can see into robot and computer minds.”
Ham stepped forward and picked up his new Nebulon son. He glared down at the defeated Sorcerer, and then grinned at the boy.
“You know,” said the boy, “you are really handsome when you smile.”
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Aeroquest… Canto 19

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Canto 19 – Let’s You and Him Fight

Tron Blastarr was a masterful combat pilot.  The wraith corsairs were too much for several of his less talented pilots, but Tron himself began chewing them up.  He found their weakness.  They merely had to be pounded twice on the same part of the hull to open a major hole in the surface of their state-of-the-art ablative armor.  He had taken out six of them before one could even circle behind him.  That lucky one that sneaked behind was taken out in the next instant by Elvis the Cruel, himself the owner of four victories over wraith corsairs.  The Infamous King of Killing was next with three kills to his record.

“We have to get aboard the space station and get the Crown!” hissed Sorcerer 3 grimly.

Dana Cole took the pilot seat from him on their black clipper and showed her own considerable skill as she spiraled into the nearest space port docking bay.  The landing and attachment was silky in its perfect execution.

“Good girl,” cooed Sorcerer.

“Yeah!  Primo flying, young Jester!” added Trav.

“Let’s get the Crown before your pirate friend atomizes us!” growled Cole.

The three treasure hunters ran into the space station as if it were on fire.  Their footfalls clanked down the tube-arm to the central control station.  There, just where Trav had left it, was the blue box, the Crown of All Stars sitting on top of it.  The three crystals were all lit up, though the central stone was a sickly green color, much paler than the two bright stones on either side.

“Ah!” said Sorcerer, snatching it up, “very good, Trav.  Now I no longer need you two.”

“What!” cried Dana, “How can you betray both of us?”

“My dear, did you really think Count Nefaria needed either one of you?”  Sorcerer 3 pulled out the Skortch ray and pointed it at Dana.  “If you thought you were an indispensable agent, you are as much a fool as Goofy here!”

“Tell Count Nefaria that Goofy is mine to kill,” said Tron from the tube-arm behind Sorcerer 3.  Tron’s Advanced Combat Rifle spat a five-slug burst into the Synthezoid’s back.  Sorcerer’s evil smile turned to a scowl as he slumped to the metal floor.

“Tron, you are a dead man!” threatened Sorcerer.

“Can’t be as dead as you are,” said Maggie from behind Tron.  “We’ve killed you twice!”

“Have you down-loaded yet?” asked Tron.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” sneered Sorcerer 3.

Tron ripped a fully automatic blast through the back of the Synthezoid’s head.  Computer chips, wire, and exotic fluids sprayed everywhere.  The spark orbiting Sorcerer’s head winked out.

“You killed him!” marveled Trav.

“Maybe not,” said Tron.  “He apparently can download his mind to new body somewhere else in space.  I don’t think we have seen the last of old Pasty Face.”

“Are you gonna kill Trav Dalgoda this time?” asked the beautiful red-headed Maggie the Knife.  “You have him right where you want him again!”

Tron smiled.  “As irritating as this clown is, he’s done me a favor.”

“How so?” asked Trav.

“You helped me find out who’s collecting Ancient artifacts.  I didn’t know it was Count Vladimir Nefaria until Sorcerer 3 let it slip to you.  I finally know where to go to intercept the packages that rat-man has stolen from me.”

“You’d better kill Trav before he messes things up again!” insisted Maggie.

“Maybe you had better not,” suggested Dana Cole as she picked up the Crown of Stars.  “I happen to be a former agent of Count Nefaria.  I can open doors for you on the planet, White Palm.  But I won’t if you kill Trav Dalgoda.  I have fallen in love with this goofy man.”

“Well,” said Tron, “I pity you, woman, but I will take you both along as we assault White Palm.  This little venture is not over yet.”

“Tron, old Jester?” began Goofy, “you wouldn’t really hurt an old, dear friend like me, would you?”

“I’ll be the death of you yet, Goofy.  I need you a little longer, though.  Get your gear together.  My boy, Artran, missed you while you were gone.”

“Really?”

“Ooh!  I give up!” moaned Maggie, glaring at Goofy.  “Give me that!”  She viciously tore the Crown of Stars out of Dana Cole’s hands and put it back in the blue box.  She took the box with her as she stormed out of the station.

Trav smiled.  He picked up Sorcerer’s Skortch ray. “She likes me too, underneath,” he said.

“Sure she does,” said Tron sarcastically.

“She better not,” said Dana, narrowing her eyes.

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Aeroquest… Canto 18

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Canto 18 – Spelunking with Dinosaurs

    Ged had gotten the planetary coordinates from Frieda for the so-called Hammer of God.  As they took instrument readings on the surface, they could accurately determine by use of a gravitometer the device was located in one of the deep places in the Bedrock Undercity.   An expedition would be organized to retrieve it before they believed Trav and his Slaghoople connection would be able to mobilize the criminal element.

Ged took both Tara and Tkriashav along to teach him more about Psions.  He couldn’t help but look longingly at the beautiful teenager, Tara Salongi.  The facts of it made him feel terrible.  Bam-Bam Salongi and Sinbadh went along for muscle.  Ham couldn’t help but bring the beautiful Nebulon Princess and her young son.  The two of them seemed to persistently attach themselves to Ham, though Ged noticed the boy looking at him more than once.

The Slate Cliffs had a huge cavern opening in their northernmost face.  It was there that most people gained access to the Bedrock Undercity.  The rocks there were an oily gray and led into a series of caverns that were torch lit and gloomy.

“Do you know anything about these Ancient artifacts?” asked Ged, looking sternly at Tkriashav.

“Yes,” said the almond-eyed master.   “I know what prophecy says.  The Prophecy of Master Xan says that the White Spider shall be reborn and he shall use the sacred tools of God to remake the Great Web Across Darkness.”

“Good God!” said Ham.  “What does that mean?”

“Ged is the White Spider, the Weaver of Golden Destiny.  I have foreseen this myself.  The tools of God are the ancient relics of Grandfather whom some describe as God Himself.  These would be the Crown of Stars, the Hammer of God, the Celestial Dragon, and the Orb of Essence.  Ged will use these, I believe, to remake the very stars into a new and better Empire.”

Ged sighed.  “That’s a lot to ask of a simple hunter.”

“You will do it, I have seen.”

Tara slipped her hand into Ged’s and smiled up at him shyly, more like a teenager now than when Ged first met her.  He felt uncomfortable, thinking of what they’d already done together.  She was still very much a young girl.  Still, he couldn’t make himself let go of her soft and delicate hand.

They entered a wide and much-traveled stone footpath into the middle of the Undercity.  Many cave men and women were already there, going about stone-age business.  A billboard advertised the big Rock-ball game on Monday night, and another mentioned Stone Cold Cola in glowing terms.

“What will you teach me about being a Psion?” Ged asked morosely.

“I can’t teach you much.  You are already a Master of Shape-changing.  You can control cellular regeneration.  That power alone will make you immortal as long as your brain doesn’t die.  Your power as a hunter will also make you formidable.  And Tara telepathically gifted you with most of the instincts you didn’t already have.  If you know enough about a creature, if you can read its DNA, then you can become that creature.  Unlike most who can change shape, you are not limited by your size.  You can change into things both larger and smaller than yourself.”

“How do you know this?” Ged asked, puzzled and irritated.  “Is it by your vision?”

“Oh, no.  I can also read your mind.”

Ged looked violated and perturbed.  He had not even sensed another’s presence in his head.

“Don’t be offended, my son,” said Tkriashav soothingly.  “It is not as intimate a reading as Tara did.  You still have secrets that I will not violate.  I am as strong a telepath as you are a shape-changer.  I can even read the Nebulon boy, and he’s going to be a very powerful telepath with tutoring.”

Ged looked at the naked blue child clinging to Ham’s reluctant hand.  “What can you tell me about the two Nebulons?” he asked.

“The Princess has a very important father.  He will not be pleased with the boy, a child caused by abuse as a prisoner in the Imperium.  His father was a Galtorrian-fusion bully.  The boy as yet has no name.  What he does have is psionic ability, and a strong connection to your future as the White Spider.”

Ham, on hearing this, stroked the boy’s bright yellow hair with a loving, sympathetic touch.  “What’s the Princess’ name?” Ham asked.

“In her language, she will now be called the Madonna.  She is mother to a fatherless boy.  The name is Inouijuc.  She is very much in love with you Ham.  She believes she owes her life to you, Trav, and Ged.”

“Princess Inouijuc,” said Ham, “What shall we name our boy here?”  Ham put a hand on the blue child’s soft shoulder.

“Hamfast Aero Junior,” said the Madonna clearly and without hesitation.

Ham blushed.  Then he smiled.  He didn’t say another word or protest the decision.  Ged also smiled.  He couldn’t help hoping that Ham decided to settle down with this pretty blue princess.

Ahead of the party, a row of raptor riders lined themselves up across the road.  Nine of them.  The riders were armed with stone-flingers and spears.

“What do you want, Goober?” Bam-Bam Salongi asked of the beady-eyed leader.

“We mean to help you and your friends, Bam-Bam,” Goober Slaghoople answered the silver-haired caveman.  “A friend of mine witnessed the death of Rocko Slaghoople.  That other group after the Hammer is evil and foul.  They must not have the thing.”

“We welcome your help,” said Tkriashav.  “As Rocko’s nephew and only living male relative…”

“I am now leader of Don’t Go Here! Yes,” proclaimed Goober Slaghoople.

“We are honored to have your help,” added Ged.  “My brother, Ham, and I are the new owners of the Don’t Go Here Space Port and the Grange Station.  We will be working with you from now on for the planet’s own good.”

“Don’t Go Here has a star port?” asked Goober Slaghoople, flabbergasted.

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Aeroquest… Canto 17

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Canto 17 – Wraiths and Pinwheels

      Trav was the kind of guy who easily gets led by the nose if a pretty woman decides she wants him to do something for her.  Dana Cole with her strawberry-blond hair and luminous blue eyes was perfect in the role of that kind of woman.  She got Trav from Flintstone land into the clutches of the dangerous and powerful Synthezoid, Sorcerer 3.  She got him to reveal the location of the Crown of Stars.  She led him by the nose to Sorcerer 3’s hidden starship in a back alley of a slum in the outskirts of Bedrock.

“We will help Sorcerer 3 by giving him the Crown of Stars, and then he will help us get the Hammer of God,” said Dana in Trav’s ear.

“Sounds good,” said Trav, nodding his doody-head stupidly.

“You know,” said the artificial man with a bright electrical spark orbiting his head, “The Crown really belongs to us anyway, since it was stolen from one of our starships at Mingo Downport.”

“Oh, well… ah…ah,” stuttered Trav, “It was actually Tron’s idea.  I’d never heard of Ancient artifacts before that.”

“Yes,” hissed the Synthezoid with a red spark in his pupil-less eyes, “we forgive you for that.”

The spaceship, hidden behind piles of trash cans, was a sleek black merchant clipper, built for traveling fast in the outer darkness and well-defended from pirates with an impressive weapons array.

Sorcerer 3 turned to face Rocko Slaghoople and his two goons, Thing and Thog.  “You know I don’t have room enough for the three of you in this ship.  You told me where to find the Hammer of God, and I need to make sure no one else finds out where it is.  I think it’s time I gave you your rightful reward as we discussed.

“Uh… Thank you,” said Rocko stupidly.

“How nice!  I rarely get thanked for this kind of service!”  He plucked an illegal Skortch Raygun out of his robe and popped the beam three times, once into the head of each of the three cavemen.  All three of them disintegrated with looks of ignorant surprise on their faces.

Trav was a great fan of extremely destructive weapons.  He recognized the weapon for what it was.

“Ooh!  Can I see that Skortch Ray?  I’ve always wanted one of those.  You do know they are illegal in the Galtorr Imperium?”

“Yes, Trav.  I know about Skortch Rays.  They come from a time when only the Telleron Frog People of the Planet Telleri could travel faster than light and that at a very slow pace.  You may not see it just now, however.   We are in a hurry.  I promise to show you exactly how it works after we have retrieved the Crown of Stars.”

“Well!  Let’s get there then, old Jester!”

The sleek black craft was up and out of the planetary gravity well in a matter of minutes.  It effortlessly pulled itself into docking range with the rebuilt space station.

“I’m impressed by what you did with the place in the short time you’ve been here,” said Sorcerer 3.

“Oh, I didn’t do much.  I got Frieda to do it for me!”

“Hmmm, tell me more about your invisible friend Frieda.”

“Oh, well, I…”

Suddenly they realized that the newly opened starport was surrounded by Pinwheel Corsairs.  Now, a Pinwheel Corsair is a deadly fighting vessel.  Each of the spinning pinwheel arms rotating around the cockpit bore a large, ship-to-ship laser.  The green beams could bore a hole in the side of its victims large enough to fly into, and boarding parties could deploy in vacuum suits.  The only defenses against pinwheel lasers were really thick ablative coatings that evaporated as they absorbed the laser fire, and really large sand-casters that could cloud space with opaque bits to block the rays.  Neither defense would work after the first couple of hits.

“So, Trav,” came the familiar voice over the commo system, “this is where you and the Aeros leaped to?”

“Ah!  Tron, old Jester!  I am so happy to see you here.”  Trav put on the view screen before Dana or Sorcerer could stop him.  The one-eyed face of Tron and the beautiful face of Maggie the Knife glared down at them.  “This is my new playmate, Sorcerer 3, and my girlfriend Dana Cole.”

Tron lifted an eyebrow at the sight of Trav’s new friends.  “You again!” He sighed.  “Goofy, you are playing with the worst kind of fire.”

“And you’re too near the dynamite, love,” added Maggie.

Three pinwheels opened up on the sleek black space clipper.  The boring beams came down from three different angles, blazing bright green light and deadly heat.  Then, by some miracle of technology, the skin of the black clipper absorbed it like a bikini babe soaks up sunlight on the beach.

“Hey, cool!” said Trav.  “How did you do that?  We should be dead by now.”

“Ah, no,” growled Sorcerer 3.  “Tron Blastarr is the one who needs to sweat now!”

Forty black ships materialized out of nowhere.  Wraith Corsairs!  They de-cloaked on cue and took Tron’s pirates by surprise.  Three pinwheels were blasted into debris and dust in seconds, before they could react.  Tron himself was moving from the moment he first spotted Sorcerer 3.  There was no better pilot than Tron Blastarr.  He immediately began taking the wraiths to school.

“Why don’t you just die, Tron?” said Sorcerer with a sneer.

“It’s still your turn, Sorcie, old buddy!” Tron growled back.

The battle had only just begun.

 

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Aeroquest… Adagio 5

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Adagio 5 – Psion Society

     Now, I told you before that I wasn’t a Psion myself.  I, Professor Googol Marou, expert on practically everything, must rely on testimony and speculation to tell you about the Psions themselves.  Strange people they are, with unnatural powers.  Oooh!  Spooky!  It’s little wonder the Galtorr Imperium was so deathly afraid of them.  Still, I suspect that Grand Admiral Brona Tang of the Imperium was himself a Psion, him and all of his clones.  So, I believe that the Imperium only feared Psions they couldn’t control.  It turns out that Ged and Ham were not the only ones to seek escape from persecution of Psions by leaping outside of known space.  It seems it had been going on for so long that an entire Psion Empire had blossomed in the stars just beyond the Imperial Border.

Of the nine billion people living on the planet Don’t Go Here, only a handful were Psions.  The few I came to know well seemed to originate from the cavern-world beneath the surface of the planet that bore more than two thirds of the dense population of the planet.

Most of the Psions in our galaxy lived on the worlds of Zanatas and Zarane in the Phoebus IV Star System.  It was a good 40 light years beyond Don’t Go Here in the Unknown Regions.  It took at least 10 Jumps in space to get there with a good starship, and the Don’t Go Hereians had no ships at all.  The Psion Colony Worlds were Tfriash, Kvarii VI, and Rhaskoo.  All three worlds were many light years further away.  You may have noticed that they are also hard to say.  They seemed to have a thing for names with too few vowels in them. Kinda like Poles and Czechs, I suppose.

So the fact that Don’t Go Here had a Psion Master living on it was nothing short of a miracle.  The thing is, though, that Tkriashav was himself capable of telepathy, teleportation, and clairvoyance.  He had been anticipating Ged Aero’s arrival on Don’t Go Here since well before he found himself marooned upon the planet.

I like Tkriashav.  I count him as a friend of mine.  But I find him creepy in many ways.  It is very unsettling to be around someone who can, in a sudden flash of insight, at any moment reveal to you the manner and place of your death.  Oooh!  Spooky again!  Some things I really wish I didn’t know.

Tkriashav had been the mentor and teacher of several Psions as he lived on the planet Don’t Go Here.  He had brought his sister’s family along on the space voyage that had resulted in his being marooned on the planet.  Young Friashquazatl, Freddie they called him, was a shape-changer like Ged.  He was Tkriashav’s nephew and Tkriashav had raised him since he was an infant, teaching him to control his power.

Tara Salongi, the beautiful girl who saved Ged’s life the first time he completely transformed into another species, was a gifted telepath.  Tkriashav had taught her how to use her mind power to heal and to help.  She was probably the one student he was proudest of.  Bam-Bam Salongi’s only daughter was destined to be one of the most important Psions in the history of known space.  That should raise some tremendous expectations in your humble imaginations.

The Psions themselves were only about two percent of the population of their own empire, but their planets were fertile and heavily populated.  A large number of people with mind powers were available there to accomplish things that ordinary people could only dream of doing.  Therefore, one has to conclude that Ged Aero was not only the right man on the right planet at the right time, but gifted with the right powers and teaching skills as well.  Teaching skills, you say?  Yes, he was a scout, a hunter, a spacer, and a psion before he met Tkriashav.  But after meeting him, he became the most important teacher in all of known space.

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Aeroquest… Canto 16

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Canto 16 – Tkriashav

At Tara’s house Ged made the attempt to regain his former self.  He’d never completely transformed before into such an inhuman creature, at least not so completely at the cellular level, and he wasn’t entirely sure how to turn back into his old self.  It was a struggle to keep a human mind distinct from the saurian mind he now possessed.  Holding onto his real self for dear life, he found an empty room in the synthetic rock house and lay down in the middle of the floor.  He began to quake and shiver.  Scaly skin peeled away and piles of flesh sloughed off.  He reshaped bone and muscle.  When he was finished, the flesh he had shed was all around him, a pile of slowly evaporating green ooze.  He himself couldn’t do anything but lay on the floor, an emaciated sculpture of his former self.  He had no energy or willpower left.

Tara and Ham found him there after an hour.

“Ged!” cried Ham.  “Are you all right?”

“He’s dying,” said Tara, fingers to Ged’s forehead and eyes closed.  “He has to have food to replace the body mass he’s lost in transforming.  His mind is also a mess.”

“What food do we have for him?”  Ham had brought no supplies with him on this masquerade, after all, he didn’t have pockets, and Ged could see him panicking again like he always did as a child.

“Don’t worry.  I have a pigosaurus in a pen out back.  Go tell my father, Bam-Bam, to butcher it, and then you bring all the edible parts up here.  I’ll have his mind straightened out by then.”

Ham was pale.  He nodded and then took off like an arrow shot out of a bow.

“Psions have to work together,” Tara said soothingly to Ged.  “I’m going to enter your mind.  I have the power to help you with the kind of thinking a shape-changer has to do.   I can restore the human thought patterns you lost your hold on.  Don’t worry, I’ve done this before.”

Ged couldn’t speak, but he knew this girl could read minds.  He tried thinking hard at her.  <“Have you met my kind before?”>

“Yes,” she said, answering the thought.  “Xavier has asked me to orient one other shape-changer.  He was a lot younger than you, though, and not so traumatized by the change.  I’m going to have to use a risky method on you.  While I’m inside your head, we need to be making love.  Body to body contact with a release of endorphins are both needed.”

<“I can’t do that!  You’re just a young girl.  It’s immoral, and I’m a moral man!”>

“You could die, and I’m not giving you any choice.  Don’t worry, it won’t hurt a bit.”

Her leopard-skins dropped to the floor and for the next half hour Ged was in a dreamy sort of paradise.  Tara was in his head while he was inside… well, you know.  His exhausted state changed into a feeling of pure euphoria.

When Ham got back with the meat, Ged was sitting up, ready to wolf the food down ravenously.  He finished a meal large enough for five men, his normal shape returning with a few raptor muscles left over in his legs and chest.  Tara had to eat heartily also.

“Ged, you had me worried!” Ham said.  “But now you look better than ever.”

“I feel better than ever.”  Ged turned to Tara.  “What we did, uh… I apologize.  I will never forgive myself.”

“Why?” said Tara innocently.  “It was only done to help you.”

“It was just wrong,” said Ged woefully.

“I was surprised to find that you are still so pure after all these years.  I think it’s sweet to be so shy and dedicated to your moral beliefs.”

“You mean,” said Ged, blushing, “you weren’t the same as me, innocent in that way?”

“Not in the way you think of it.  But don’t despair, love.  Your spirit is still as bright and pure as it was before.  You just have a small part of me in your head now.  We will always be a part of each other from now on, and marriage and family have nothing to do with it.  It is more of a spiritual connection.  In times of great stress, you can probably call out to me mentally, and I will hear.”

“I don’t understand.”

Suddenly a cloud of sulphurous smoke filled the room.  With a strange popping sound, a man appeared.  He looked like Mephistopheles in a turban.  He had slanted eyes and a devilish Van Dyke goatee.  He bowed to the three of them regally.

“Ah, I am honored to make the acquaintance of Ged Aero, the White Spider reborn.  I am Xavier Tkriashav, the Master of the Secret Society of Psions.”

“What?  Who…?” sputtered Ged.

“Where?  How?” sputtered Ham.

“Welcome, Master,” said Tara, still not dressed.  She got up off the floor and gave the man a hug and kiss.  Ged couldn’t help but think he knew a darned sight more about this situation and this man than he wanted to.  The strange fellow was already inside his head like an unwelcome flea, sucking at the marrow of his mind.

scanTK

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