Canto 103 – Star Command
“So, Grand Admiral Cloudstalker, how does it feel to be in command of an entire Space Navy?” Tron asked, only half in jest.
“Grand Admiral? Really? Aren’t we being a touch pretentious here?”
“Arkin, we started a rebellion against the Imperial Order. We have to have a new order ready in case we actually have to run an interstellar empire.”
Arkin was wearing a white cowboy hat from his Pan Galactican days. It was pulled forward and down enough to make him look angry when he glared directly into your eyes. Or, rather, one real eye and one prosthetic. Tron blinked his real eye.
“I have every confidence in you, my friend. You started the Lady Knights from scratch. You designed and built the first White Sword Corsairs. You recruited all the best female star pilots that the stupid Imperium wouldn’t even look at. You fought the Faceless Horde for a decade and never really lost a battle.”
“We didn’t lose because when we didn’t have overwhelming odds in our favor, we ran away like cowards.”
“You were a privateer, for gawd’s sakes,” swore Tron with a rather lame swear. “You never swore an oath to die in battle for old Tang when all you stood to get out of it was what money and tech you could loot from the enemy. And those Faceless Scondians didn’t have anything we could use once we looted it.”
“You didn’t swear an oath either Tron, and you lost an eye and nearly lost your beloved Maggie. Razor Conn lost his entire goddam home planet, along with all of his family.”
“But you do have to admit, we were all space warriors from birth. We did it because it was what we were born to do. Scondians and Imperials be damned!”
“Yeah, I suppose you have a point. You designed and created Pinwheel Corsairs, and old Razor made the first Blackhawks.”
“We put together some really fine fighting forces, didn’t we? You with Apache Scout and Tabitha Blue -Arrow, me with King Killer, Elvis the Cruel, and Scheherazade.”
“Now, right there is one of the things that worries me most. We were in the middle of a life-and-death fight when we picked out the cream of the cream. These alien rookie-things that are supposed to fill our new fleets… I mean, can King possibly train them in simulators to a point where they will survive a first battle with the fleets of the Imperium when we face Admiral Tang?”
“You know I believe in King Killer.”
“But these green alien troops? Rock men? Squid men? Goofy-looking, big-finger men?”
“Well, if humans can do it…”
“But these alien pilots can’t. They do fine in the simulators, but then they get into a starship made with Ancient technology, and the first thing they do is crash into each other, blow up the ships, and die a horrible death.”
“Well, the humans from Don’t Go Here…”
“…Can’t fly worth snergle poop either!”
“But the original crew of Megadeath…”
“Have you talked to those morons in person, Tron? They are the dumbest collection of numb-noggins in the universe! And that Vince Niell! He is a pilot only because his ship does most of the hard flying for him.”
“So, what you are saying is… our rookies are all too smart to be piloting these Ancient-tech starships? We need to be training them to be dumber and let the ships do the hard parts?”
“Hmm… now that you mention it, that is sorta the one thing we haven’t tried yet. We need to train them to empty their minds and not overthink things. Let the starship do its own thing?”
Both Tron and Arkin stared at each other in horror at the revelation. They had been going about it totally wrong. Pick dumber guys as pilots. Tell them to think less and let the ship itself do more. Could it really be that simple?
Of course not! Are you dense, dear reader? They merely thought it was that simple.