Category Archives: novel

Oopsie! I Did It Again

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I have published yet another book.

This book is now available on Amazon as both a paperback and as a Kindle e-book.

It is a story that I have lived with for a very long time.

It is about friendship.

It is about the challenges of friendship.

It is about friendship surviving over time even when bizarre circumstances try to get in the way.

It’s main character is a scientist/inventor, and he’s laser-focused on science, but a bit lost in the world of people.  So it is also about science and technology, both the good things and the terrible things about them.

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It is also, hopefully, a funny story.  One of the main characters, Millis, is a pet rabbit that in a lab accident is transformed into a walking, talking rabbit-man.  He proves to be a loyal friend and a very good vegetarian chef.

Now I know you might argue that rabbits shouldn’t become people.  That is probably a very bad idea for a serious science fiction story.  But I would argue right back that this is intended to be a humorous story, the opposite of a serious science fiction story.  So it is not science fiction, but, rather, science funny.

And good science fiction probably shouldn’t have too many evil alien robots in it… or man-eating chinchillas, or self-aware computers, or ray guns that can change girls into boys and boys into girls, or invading alien frog people from another star system… and this book has all that.  So don’t think of it as good science fiction.  Think of it as good science funny.

Those of you who are the guardians of literature and culture in this world, before you condemn and burn this book, buy a copy and read it, to see how bad the thing you hate really is.  And I hope that you will then be so outraged that you buy up a million copies of it to burn in a huge bonfire to protest the existence of this book.  In fact, buy two million copies.  Wouldn’t that make a marvelous book burning?  Book burners everywhere would talk about it for years to come.  Just saying…

Anyway, the deed is done.  And now let the consequences happen however they will.

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The Joys of Editing Yourself

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I am now in the final phase of publishing The Bicycle-Wheel Genius.  I am merely waiting for Amazon to object to whatever ridiculously minute formatting error I may still have going.  And I once again had to publish without benefit of a beta reader or an editor of any kind.  You learn things about yourself that you really don’t want to know.

What I have learned;

  • I can’t depend on my wife to be a beta reader and comment on my work.  She tried once and told me, “Your writing is like dog poop.  It is full of weird stuff, smells bad, and is impossible to get off your shoe once you step in it.”  To be honest, I ironed out that metaphor just a bit.  She was actually quibbling about my proofreading style and basically ignored all the content of the story.  That’s the way English teachers are about prose.
  • I can too easily fall into the habit of introducing characters on a fashion model runway.  The first time the character enters the narrative I tend to give a head to toe rundown of how they look, what they are wearing, and how they have done their hair.  I know better than that, but I still do it.
  • I… use… ellipsis… marks… toooo… much…!
  • My creative spellings tend to drive the spellchecker insane.  In this novel I had trouble over the spellings of blogwopping, interbwap, and dillywhacking.  To be fair two of those words are from the language of the Tellerons, a space-faring race of frog people who happen to ineptly invade the earth.  (Oh, and the other is a euphemism  used by young boys for something very private.  Don’t tell anybody about that one.)
  •  Time travel plots can be laboriously difficult to follow through mobius-strip-like  contortions of time, space, and history.
  • Sometimes my jokes are not funny.  Seriously… that can be a problem.
  • And my characters often act on weird impulses and do things for no rhyme or reason… or rhythm either for that matter… see what I mean about ellipsis marks?  Of course, one can always explain that that is exactly how people really are.  I myself never do that.  There is always a rhyme to be snatched from the ether in the very nick of time… randomly.
  • And at the end of the novel, when I am tying up the loose ends of the plot in a Gordian Knot, I have strings left over.  Maybe enough to knit a shirt with.  So I end up picking them up and starting another novel with them.
  • It is basically heck to be a divergent thinker.  You try to make a list of things, and by the time you get to number 9, you have forgotten what the list was about, and you even forgot to number things, so you have to go back to the first one and count.  Now what was I talking about?

Oh, yeah.  I edited the book all by myself.  And now it’s done.  Time to start a new novel and make all the same mistakes over again.

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Aeroquest… Canto 25

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Canto 25 – Count Nefaria

      The underground of White Palm was riddled with ancient tunnels and warrens that may have been caused by nature, or may have been evidence of a lost civilization.  They meandered everywhere just under the surface of an entire planet.  They varied in temperature from cool and dark, to bright-hot ovens.  Navigating them was perilous.

Dana Cole led the way with Trav Dalgoda hovering right behind her.  She knew the passages Nefaria used, and she made Trav hold the densitometer, a gravitic device meant to read matter density and reveal open spaces, to read the makeup and general shape of what lay ahead.  Tron and Maggie came behind, pistols and lasers at the ready.  Artran came next with a stuffed Pleezy-bear under one arm.  Arkin Cloudstalker and Sheherazade came after the boy, also fully armed and ready.  The rest of the ground troops covered all exits from the Oasis City underground.

“We have to go carefully,” said Dana Cole.  “Nefaria imported tunnel fuzzies from Galtorr to serve as underground guard dogs.”

“Tunnel fuzzies?” asked Tron.

“You know,” she explained, “those acid-spitting green spiders with the hundreds of eyes?  The ones with the plastic fur that make insulation good enough to bathe in lava without getting burnt.”

“Fascinating,” said Cloudstalker ironically.

“There’s a large corridor ahead,” said Goofy, grinning.  “There’s a really big room beyond that.”  The densitometer made his face glow with unnatural purple light.

“This place sure is spooky,” said Artran.

Without warning, a stream of bright yellow-green acid flew over their heads and melted an alcove into the sandstone on the far side of them.

“Tunnel fuzzy!” cried Dana, scrambling to get down under cover as she looked frantically for the source of the toxic goo.

“I see it!” cried Tron, lasering into another dark alcove with his green pulse-laser rifle.

Acid splattered everywhere, leaving pock marks in the walls, sores on exposed skin, and holes in clothing and body armor.  Artran began to cry.

“Are you hurt, Snookums?” asked Maggie in parental agony.

“No.  It’s Little Goofy!”  The boy held up his now headless Pleezy-bear, the fuzzy smiley face burned off by acid.

“Keep a sharp eye out!” warned Dana.  “That could happen to any of us!”

Watching warily, the assault team inched forward.  Trav’s nervous eyes were glued to the densitometer screen.  They eased into the major corridor.  A quick firefight dispatched three of Nefaria’s police robots.  They were swept quickly away by the surprise attack.

As the group bolted through the door into the big chamber, they came face to face with Nefaria and Sorcerer 6.  Neither the monocled, gray-haired villain, nor the white-skinned Synthezoid were happy about the turn of events.

“Well, Captain Tron and friends!” said Nefaria, trying to act suave and sophisticated though obviously rattled.  “What brings you to my humble home?”

“I do,” said Dana Cole.  “You and the other members of Expedition One betrayed me.  One of your Sorcerers nearly killed me!”

“Believe me,” said Sorcerer 6, “no one regrets the failed attempt more than I.”

“Oh, I believe you all right, you slimy white android!”  Dana shot the new Sorcerer right between the eyes with an auto burst from her advanced combat rifle.  Microchips and synthetic flesh flew everywhere.

“Now, let’s not get vindictive!” pleaded Count Nefaria, his monocle falling out.

“Oh, I think we should!” cried Trav stupidly; pulling out the Skortch ray he had taken from the corpse of Sorcerer 3.  He skortched Nefaria before Tron could grab the illegal weapon.  The stunned Count dissolved into hot ashes in seconds, completely disintegrated.  The monocle tinkled as it hit the stone floor.

“You numb-noggin!” cried Tron, grabbing the deadly weapon out of Goofy’s hands.  “We still needed vital information out of that criminal bug-head!”

“Oh… gee… I’m sorry, boss,” said Trav, humbled.

“Kill the Goof now!” insisted Maggie.

Dana stepped in front of her beloved imbecile.

“Please, forgive Uncle Goofy,” pleaded Artran.

Tron looked down at his son’s cherubic face and lowered his guns.  “I forgive you, Goofy, but you will make it up to me with some hard work.  Man that densitometer!  We’ve got to find Nefaria’s prison and his treasure house.”

“Maybe Miss Cole can help with those, too,” suggested Cloudstalker.

“Maybe she can,” nodded Tron.

Sheherazade nudged with her foot the ruin that was once the Synthezoid, Sorcerer 6.  “Do you suppose this is the last one of these?”

“I doubt it,” said Cloudstalker.  “It has too much of the stink of Syn Corporation about it.”

“I hope it isn’t the last,” muttered Tron.  “I need to kill that conehead a few more times myself just to feel good about it.”

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Aeroquest… Adagio 6

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Adagio 6 – The Raiders of White Palm

      The attack on White Palm would come to be an event featured in folktales and legend.  Most of the combat footage and holography was either destroyed in the battle itself, or lost in the wars that followed.  That makes for better war stories because it means nobody can prove you embellished the tale a little, er, or maybe a lot.  You will just have to believe that what I say about it is true based on my own eyewitness recollections and memory of those lost documents.

The world of White Palm was mostly a dry, arid wasteland.  Count Nefaria and his “family” had built their wealth and gained ownership of it through control of the water resources, brought entirely by space transport.  Terra-forming the planet was easy enough to accomplish, but the Count’s family had expressly forbidden it in order to maintain their iron grip on the planet.

Now, it is useful to note here that Nefaria did not hold an independent ownership of the planet.  As a smuggler of the class known as the Smuggler Prince, he was a part of the lucrative frontier “package industry”.  He provided goods and services to worlds along the Imperial Border that could not be gotten legally.  This put him in direct subjugation to the King of Smuggler Kings, Sector Duke Carleton Keyser.  Keyser was the third or fourth most powerful man in the whole Imperium.  He was known as the Thin White Duke, a thin, dapper man who always dressed in white suits and conducted his shady business with elegance and style.  He ultimately controlled all revenues from smuggling and organized crime.  Count Nefaria imitated him in practically everything and it shocks most who knew him to find out that the whole artifact quest was undertaken without the all-important consent of the White Duke.  Count Nefaria would’ve ultimately paid a high penalty to the White Duke if he had won the Battle of White Palm.

Count Nefaria’s chosen allies were the metalloid makers, Synthetic Bionics Corporation, commonly known as Syn Corporation.  They had provided him with the robotic army and the prototype Synthezoid that would become Sorcerer.  They had also provided a lot in the way of behind-the-scenes support.  Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never fully trusted synthetic men or robots.  They have no human emotions unless they’ve been programmed with them.  Ged claims he’s known Metalloids who actually loved other beings in spite of their programming, but I think that’s all basically hoo-haw. All these events occurred before anyone was aware that Syn Corporation was entirely made up of sentient machines.  The unfeeling metal buggers were attempting something evil, and everyone just thought, “Oh, well, it’s just human nature.”  Human nature my eye!  They were metalloids with no biologicals in their entire organization.  They probably would’ve even converted old Nefaria to metal if he’d lasted long enough.

The battle itself was a very close contest.  The Raiders of White Palm, the corsair bands of Tron Blastarr and Arkin Cloudstalker, won mainly due to the battlefield depredations of Apache Scout and Elvis the Cruel.  It was their initial drive into the heart of the city that established military control over the planet.  Count Nefaria had more than ample resources to repel a planetary invasion.  The corsairs lucked into cutting the head off the snake just as it was coiling for the strike.

The battle moved underground before the Count and his robot minions were ready.  Trapped in the heavily fortified command center, Nefaria was unable to coordinate his robotic troops, or even escape from his own lair.

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Aeroquest… Canto 24

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Canto 24 – Attack on White Palm

White Sword Corsairs were long, stiletto-shaped vessels with a wicked array of pulse lasers, microwave beamers, and contact missiles.  Two hundred of the deadly craft led by Arkin Cloudstalker himself had joined Tron’s own one hundred and eighty Pinwheel Corsairs in high orbit above the desert planet, White Palm.

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“Cloudstalker?  This is Tron.  Do you see any sign of space forces?”

“None,” came the quick reply.  “Amin would be here if he intended to oppose us.”

“Do you think we took the Count by surprise?”

“Not a chance.  He knows we’re here.  If he’s not laying for us in space, he has a trap set up on the planet.”

“Do you have ground assault vehicles aboard your corsairs?”

“Sorry, Brother Tron.  We didn’t come prepared for that.”

“We have two aboard each Pinwheel.  Can you at least provide air cover?”

“Oh, most definitely.  We’re the best you’ve ever seen.”

“You fly like a bunch of girls,” said Tron with a snort of laughter.

“Women, Blastarr!  That makes all the difference!” asserted Cloudstalker.

The Pinwheels began spiraling down into the hot, cloud-free atmosphere of the desert planet.  Elvis the Cruel led the way, lasering the desert below out of sheer spite and meanness.  Sheherazade flew her pinwheel right behind.  The King of Killers was on her tail with Courtney Blake right behind him.

Cloudstalker led the White Swords in a classic “V”formation, with his only male ace, Apache Scout, on his wing.  The Lady Knights all followed smoothly in ground attack formation, spreading out in a slowing double chevron.

It became obvious what tactics Count Nefaria had chosen to employ.  The desert was covered by huge robotic walkers, some on two feet, some on four, and even a dozen or so of the six-legged battle platforms.  Plasma beams sprayed out in a flytrap pattern that took out seventeen Pinwheel Corsairs on the first volley.  The beams were hot enough to burn directly through energy shields and leave wide swaths of glass on the deserts of White Palm when they fell to the planet.

“Tron Blastarr, you are outmatched,” came the effete voice of Count Nefaria over the general com channel.  “A wise corsair would count his losses and fly away!”

“Nobody ever accused me of being wise, Old Dracula!” shouted Tron.  “I’ve come to stake you once and for all before the fall of darkness.”

“Big words!” said Nefaria, apparently commanding another volley of plasma fire.  The words had actually been normal-sized, not big at all, but Nefaria had a reputation for being very cruel and not terribly bright.

Apache Scout was hit, though not fatally.  His White Sword and crew of four arced down into the palm trees near Nefaria’s Oasis City.  A Lady Knight named Stella also caught a plasma beam, but it struck the cockpit, vaporizing all aboard.

Cloudstalker’s deadly corsairs attacked with heat-seeking contact missiles.  Four hundred missiles made four hundred separate hits.  Two six-legged battle platforms went down along with the 398 walkers.  Robot parts were splashed all over the desert.  Tron could picture Nefaria’s monocled face turning pale as he witness the robotic death and carnage.

Elvis the Cruel flew over the Oasis City shield tower, burning it with a sheet of laser fire and causing a series of explosions that caused the building to fold down into the ground, smoking and spewing debris.  Elvis’ Pinwheel curvetted and landed two cliques outside the city wall.  He was the first Pinwheel pilot to deploy his two ground vehicles.  They were tracked ATV’s with pulse laser cannons, the kind that corsairs referred to as “killer campers”.

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As Elvis personally drove towards the walls in his first vehicle, he was hailed by a downed pilot coming out of the palm trees near the reservoir.

“Hey, stupid white man!  I am Apache Scout.  Give me an ATV and I will slay these metal men for you!”

Elvis knew his old enemy, and gladly surrendered command of ATV 2 to him.  Apache Scout was a full-blooded Pan Galactican Indian, and known for his combat piloting abilities.  He could fly or drive anything on the battlefield.

Tron successfully landed his two ATV’s as well.  His beautiful wife and young son rode with him.  If they were going to die in battle, better, Tron reasoned, to all die together.  He knew he could never live without either one of them.  After landing, a battle walker with four legs, called a Road Warrior, smashed in the side of Tron’s number two ATV.  The four crewmen were killed instantly as their own missile battery gutted their vehicle.

Tron, taking offense, cut the head and front legs off the robot, pitching it sideways into the blazing wreck of Number Two.

Sheherazade’s lead ATV, the one she piloted herself, was caught between a two-legged Desert Rat, and a six-legged battle platform.  The plasma energy burned off the back half of her ATV.

In the next few moments, King Killer flew into a supernatural rage, driving down the Desert Rat and pumping the underside of the battle platform full of hot laser fire.  As the platform burned and toppled to the desert, King leaped out of his ATV and plunged into the wreckage to find Sheherazade.  Tron was certain he had just lost two aces from the Pinwheel Corsairs.  Suddenly King emerged from the smoke and flames carrying the still living dark beauty in his arms.

Elvis and Apache Scout had fifteen kills between them, the highest of any ground pilots in the battle, when they finally breached the walls of Nefaria’s Command Bunker.  The Battle of White Palm had officially ended in a victory for the raiders.  All that remained was the fox hunt for Nefaria within the tunnels of his own complex.

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Characters From Superchicken

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These are a few of the main characters of the old story which is now my newest novel.

Superchicken is Edward-Andrew Campbell.  He is basically a me-character.  His embarrassing nickname, from a Jay Ward cartoon that used to be on TV Saturday mornings, was actually my nickname in junior high and high school.  Many of the emotional changes he goes through and the embarrassments he endures to be a super hero were based on my own experiences.  But he definitely embraces the nickname as his superhero name in a way I can only wish that I did.

Brent

Brent Clarke is the outgoing athlete sort of kid who was definitely not me.  He becomes leader of the Norwall Pirates because he pitched for the softball team, and because anyone who met him naturally assumed he was the most important kid in the group.  Others look to him for leadership even when they don’t need it.  Making friends with Brent is one of the most difficult and important tasks the Superchicken must undertake.

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Milt Morgan is the wizard of the group.  He is obsessed with magic and imagination. And though Brent is nominally the leader of the group, all their evil plans and hair-brained schemes come from Milt’s imagination.  The picture of Milt is drawn from me as a boy, but in reality he is the other Mike from my childhood, the one with a rather tough life and a heart of… well… maybe not gold, but at least silver.  He is also the one who insists on making Edward-Andrew part of the gang.

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The Cobble Sisters, Sherry and Shelly, are a pair of identical twin girls.  They are both nudists at home on the farm place and at the nudist club in Clear Lake.  They are problematic for a shy boy just discovering girls, but Sherry definitely pursues a crush on the Superchicken and tricks him into a family camping trip at the nudist camp.

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Sherry at the Sunshine Club

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Anita Jones is the shy girl who has a crush on the Superchicken.  And he secretly has a crush on her.  But she is also the girl who becomes, completely by accident, the first girl that Edward-Andrew sees naked.  Love and hate, embarrassment and attraction, she is the one girl whose opinion seems to matter most.  I, of course, will never reveal the real life girl she is based on.  I could never live that down, even though we are both now more than sixty years old.

So those are a few of the main characters that make this novel work for me.  They are real people to me now that the novel is written, just as they were once real people when I was a boy and living the nightmare of being a mere boy in a world that needs heroes.

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Aeroquest… Canto 23

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Canto 23 – The Fellowship of the Crown

      The Leaping Shadowcat docked smoothly at the starport.  Frieda had completely rerouted and refitted all the systems on board.  Robot arms were redeployed, circuits revamped, and energy flows were maximized.  Frieda had made the starport more efficient, and much more her own.

Ham was impressed by the starport operations on his return.  It was the most pilot-friendly base he had ever visited.

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As they disembarked, Tara moved to catch up to Ged.

“I want you to know that I now know you better than any other human being ever knew you.  I… I can’t stop thinking about you.”

Ged looked sternly at the sweet-faced teenage girl.  He softened as he saw her blush and look away from his searching eyes.

“I know you don’t approve.  I know you feel violated,” she said.  “But I will never share any of your secrets.  Not only would it be against my own moral code, but… Ged, I think I’m falling in love with you.”

“You are too young,” said Ged matter-of-factly.  “I am the same age as your father.  Besides, you will get over this crush you have developed.”

“I’ve shared minds and personalities with many others before you,” she said.  “I’ve never melded with anyone as good and decent and loving as you.”

“You’ve lain with other men before?”

“Be fair.  That only happens when the Psion is dying because of his own powers.  The deeper connection was necessary.  I only used that procedure once before.”

Ged was tempted to ask who.  He thought, however, he already knew and didn’t want it confirmed.  He quietly slipped his right hand around Tara’s bare middle.  She was so warm and soft to the touch.  Her Sheena Queen of the Jungle skin bikini looked so alluring on her.  This was a severe temptation that Ged knew was a critical test from God.  He did love her, but he would not give in to temptation.

The adventurers went to the control room to access key information from Frieda.  It was then that Ged noticed that the blue box and the Crown of Stars were gone.

“Frieda?  What has happened to Trav and the Crown?”

“Captain Tron Blastarr has both the Crown and my beloved Trav.  Don’t worry.  I wouldn’t have let it happen if it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

“What do you mean?”

“The Crown and its remaining three minds have a destiny that belongs with Trav and Tron.”

“Three minds?”

“Yes.  The dark mind, the side-winding mind, and a copy of Trav’s mind are all still loaded on the Crown of All Stars.”

“Oh, this is bad,” said Ham.

“Your friends Tron and Trav are not to be trusted?” asked Tkriashav.

“Tron is a pirate and Trav is a clown,” said Ged.  “A thing like that in their hands is a danger to the entire galaxy!”

“Do we need to follow them and take the artifact back?” asked Tkriashav.

“Some of us do,” said Ged, looking at his brother Ham.

“We don’t know where they might go,” said Ham, studying the floor.

“Yes, we do,” said Tkriashav.  “I am clairvoyant.  I can see already that they are going into battle on a planet called White Palm.  They go to battle a smuggler king.”

“Oh, gawd!” swore Ged.  “They’re taking on the White Duke?”

“Doesn’t White Palm belong to Count Nefaria?” reminded Ham.

“Yes, but even Nefaria can field a force big enough to crush Tron’s corsairs.  And you remember how Goofy betrayed Tron before he came to help us?  Trav may already be dead.”

“No, Ged,” said Tkriashav.  “They are allies in the struggle.  For good or ill, they go together into the fray.”

“We need a plan,” said Ham.

“It’s my responsibility,” said Ged.  “Ham and I will take the Shadowcat back into known space.  We’ll track Goofy down and take the artifact away from him before he destroys us all.”

“If you go back into the Imperium,” said Tkriashav, his eyes glowing eerily, “Someone in your party is doomed.  I see a better path.  Come with me further beyond the Imperial border and we will find a new place where you are supposed to be.”

“Can Ged go with you and I go after Goofy myself?” asked Ham.

“I don’t see the result of that course,” said Tkriashav shaking his head.  “I do see the Crown of Stars in Ged Aero’s hands as it does its last service for this galaxy.”

“That settles it!” said Ham.  “I have to go back alone.”

“Ham,” said Ged, “I have a bad feeling about this.  We’ve done every mission together before now.  Who will copilot for you?  Who will lead the away teams?”

“Upon me dead bones,” said Sinbadh, “I will go with Hamfast and purrteckt ‘im.  I be owing you both that much.  I am a capable hand and copilot.”

“I go too,” said the Madonna resolutely.  She moved behind the chair in which Ham was sitting and twined her arms protectively around his neck.  “He and I together.  Is good!” she insisted.

“You’ll hire a crackerjack engineer when you get back?” asked Ged. “To replace Goofy?”

“I promise,” said Ham.

“Where will I go?” asked Ged of Tkriashav.

“There is an unknown planet near here where you must go, Ged.  I don’t know its name, but I see you ruling there.”

“I need to go with you, Ged,” said Junior softly.

“You won’t go with your mother?” asked Ged, surprised.

“He is destined to be your disciple, Ged,” said Tkriashav.  “He has to go with us.”

Ged looked at Tara.

“Can I come with you too?” the young girl said plaintively.

“The Hammer operates by telepathy,” said Ged.  “Someone has to stay here and manage the starport, grange, and planet for us.  We consider you an equal share-holder in this project, both you and your father.”  The word goodbye was already sticking in Ged’s throat.  After all, Ham had his girl.  Still, she was only a child.  “I will… I will come back for you when the time is right.”

Tara looked at Ged with tears glittering in the corners of her eyes.

“We can never truly repay you,” said Bam-Bam gratefully.  “You have given us so much!”  He shook Ged’s hand.

“You are a trusted partner,” said Ged.  “And both of you have my word, I am not yet finished with the Salongi family, or the world of Don’t Go Here.  I will be back.”

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