Category Archives: novel

Re-bubbling the Old Enthusiasm

It is getting harder and harder to climb the new day’s hill to get to the summit where I can reasonably get a good look at the road ahead. At almost-64, I can see the road ahead is far shorter and much darker than the highway stretching out behind me. It is not so much a matter of how much time I have spent on the road as it is a matter of the wear and tear the mileage has caused.

This weekend I had another depressing free-book promotion where, in five days, I only moved five books, one purchase, and four free books. I have made $0.45 as an author for the month of June.

I was recently given another bit of good advice from a successful author. He said that I shouldn’t be in such a rush to publish. He suggested taking more time with my writing. Hold on to it longer. Polish it and love it more. And now that I have reached sixteen books published on my author’s page, I have basically beaten the grim reaper in the question of whether or not he was ever going to silence me and my author’s voice. I can afford to live with the next one longer.

But the last one, A Field Guide to Fauns, practically wrote itself. It went fast from inspiration to publication simply because the writer in me was on fire and full of love and life and laughter that had to boil over into hot print exactly as quickly as it did. The additional writing time afforded me by the pandemic and quarantine didn’t hurt either. Once in print, my nudist friends loved it.

This next one has the potential to boil and brew and pop out of me in the same accelerated way as that last one did. Of course, it has been percolating inside my brain basically since the Summer of 1974. So, this is no rushed job. The Wizard in his Keep is a story of a man who tries to take the children of the sister of his childhood best friend to a place of safety when their parents are killed in a car wreck. But the only safe place he has to offer is in the world of his imagination. A world he has bizarrely made real. And that best friend comes searching for the children. And so does a predator who seeks to do them all grievous harm.

In many ways, it is a story already written.

So, I am rekindling the flame that keeps the story-pot boiling. And more of it is already cooking. And I am recovering from the cool winds of disappointment, as well as the dark stormclouds of the nearing future.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 102

Canto 102- How to Fly a Dinosaur

Things were a bit crazy on the surface of Outpost as the airless planet began preparing for the coming space battle with Admiral Tang and the Imperial Fleet.  But King Killer was certain it had to be like eating cake and ice cream down there compared to what he had to do up in orbit.

He paced back and forth in front of the ten pilots he had lined up on the flight deck of his command ship.

“You men are the cream of the crop of new pilots.  You are already designated as wing commanders.  And the ranks of ship captains and vice admirals above you are completely empty and waiting to be filled.  And yet, between the ten of you, you have already crashed twenty ships.  And you are lucky those were these bulky Triceratops cruisers.  Their Ancient tech makes them practically indestructible and easy to repair. Every pilot who has crashed a Pterosaur fighter so far, all two hundred and fifty-three of them, are dead.  And their ships are destroyed.”

All five cavemen from Don’t Go Here, and all three M’uduai from what King was calling Squidworld, and the idiot from Geogenesis, and the rockman from Dekastria nodded their stupid heads at the same time.

“Do you actually understand me?  Or do your heads just do that because you see the others do it?”

“Yes, Admiral Killer, Sir!” they chimed in unison.

“Zukkuua. Kuakuua Killer, Kua!” shouted the rockman who didn’t know Galactic English yet.

“You mean, yes, you understand me?  Or, yes, you are just imitating the others?”

“We understand you, Admiral Killer, sir!”

“Slikka ku Kikk kik?” said the rockman.  Then he appeared to be thinking about it.  “Zukkuua, Kuakuua Killer, Kua!”

“What did he say?” King asked.

“He said he understands, but wonders if you understand him?” said the caveman in the thick reading glasses.

“Teach him Galactic English, dammit!”

“Uh, yessir!  Admiral Killer, sir!”

“Okay, now, these men will be your teachers, as they are some of the finest pilots anywhere on the frontier.”

King indicated the three pilots standing behind him.

“Elvis the Cruel has more kills in battle than any other pilot I have ever heard about.  With the Pinwheel Corsairs he has killed more than nine hundred space ships and more than a thousand ground targets.”

Elvis stepped forward, gave a jaunty salute, and then said, with a cigarette stub hanging off his lip, “Thank ya, thank ya very much.”

All ten pilots clapped.

“Apache Scout has been the number-two pilot in the Lady Knights Corsair Band for fifteen years.  He was one of the most effective fighters in the First Battle of White Palm.  He also helped plan the overall battle plan for that invasion.”

The huge, well-muscled descendant of old Earth Apaches stepped forward and saluted with a stern face.

The pilots all saluted back and then clapped.

“And I hope the third trainer, Vince Niell will be the most help to you.  He started as a rookie pilot from Don’t Go Here.  He took up piloting aboard the first starship designed by Ancient technology, the Megadeath.  He has swiftly become a peerless pilot, maneuvering that ship in ways I have never seen done before.”

Vince, still wearing his mirrored sunglasses inside the spaceship’s fighter flight deck, stepped forward and saluted.

They all saluted back and clapped.

“Perhaps, Admiral Vince, you can tell us a little bit about how you learned to pilot your ship in combat?”

“Um… yeah, well, you see, sir…  um… Actually, the ship kinda taught me herself.  I kinda developed a close working relationship with my baby and she sorta does whatever I can picture in my head for her to do.”

“Wait a minute!”  King’s head was suddenly swimming in a sea of shock.  “You mean your ship is telepathic?”

“Um, yeah.  I think it’s kinda a feature of all these Ancient starships.  The Triceratops I tried out after Tron first brought them here seemed to read my mind as easily as the Megadeath does.”

King Killer hit his own forehead with his gloved fist.  Why was he just now hearing this?  He had a sudden urge to punch Dr. Hooey in the face again.  Too bad the stupid Time Knight was not present. And too bad the problem wasn’t really his fault.

“Willy!  Willy Culver!  Get out here this instant!”

The man who wasn’t supposed to survive the imprisonment on the planet Stanley came out of the tool room obediently.  King punched him in the eye and knocked him out cold.  King knew there was a good reason he had saved that man’s life.

“Okay.  You all heard Admiral Niell’s advice.  The next time you fly, think at your stupid starship until the damned thing thinks back!”   

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Day After Day

Posting every day keeps the imaginary writing muscles toned and renews my basic energy levels. But it also becomes a chore on certain days. Like today. The weather has got me down with arthritis woes. Typing like this is it not as easy as it should be. And when I have to labor at it to make the paragraphs flow, sometimes I just turn it all into rambling babbling. I spin my mental wheels and get nowhere.

I can use this post to tell you, however, that I have now started a new work-in-progress. I have already pounded out the first four thousand words of The Wizard in His Keep.

This is the final story in the arc of the character Milt Morgan. This story has been gestating in my brain since 1995. Though, if I am honest, it began with fantasies I had back in fifth grade. The main character, Milt Morgan, is half me and half the other Mike from our gang back in Rowan in the 1960’s. Back when Mike and Michael were sometimes good friends and sometimes the brains behind evil plans and terrible tricks. He supplied the devious know-how, and I provided the creative spark that lit the schemes on fire.

But this story is advanced to the computer age.

Milt Morgan is 50% me and 50% my best nemesis, Mike Bridges

In 1996, Milt Morgan was a 34-year-old video game designer living a double life in a high-tech, state-of-the-art computer lab. It is then that he mysteriously kidnaps the three children of his child-hood friend’s sister and takes them away to a magical world that only two people in the entire world have the keys to. Milt is the Wizard. The other Key-Master is Daniel Quilp, the Necromancer. A battle for the soul of the world must take place, and Daisy, Johnny, and Mortie Brown are a part of it.

Anyway, the words are beginning to pile up again. And again I have made something out of nothing. My book promotion is still going on until tomorrow. The link above can still get you a free e-book copy until after midnight tomorrow. And nobody, it seems, still wants my book for free. (How’s that for a pathos pitch?) We’ll see how it all ends tomorrow.

Johnny Brown in Purple Glammis (the Magical Kingdom)

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Same Old Woes…

I am running another free-book promotion this month, once again for Recipes for Gingerbread Children. Same song, third verse. It seems no one wants this book. I can’t even give it away for free.

I suppose it might have something to do with the fact that there are nudists in the story. It’s true, the Cobble Twins are teenage girls who love to be naked. And in the story, they spend time at Grandma Gretel’s house walking around with no clothes on. And when they get their junior high friends to visit Gretel, eat her gingerbread cookies, and listen to her stories, they also try to convince their friends to get naked too. But, really, it is a part of the charm of those two characters. It is not a pornographic story, and they basically fail in promoting nudism among eighth graders.

But nudism has a slightly different meaning for Gretel Stein. She barely escaped the showers at Auschwitz. It is the hardest story she has to tell.

Sherry and Shelly Cobble

I am roundly disappointed. I have every reason to believe I am a good writer and this is a good book. But how can I get people to agree if no one is willing to read it? I have to just keep trying. The book is still free until Tuesday midnight.

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Stories with Gingerbread

Yes, this post is a shameless promotion. But this is a good book that not enough people are reading to truly appreciate that fact. When I was a boy in the 1960’s, there really was an old German lady who lived in a small tar-papered house, all ginger-brown in color, which we all called the Gingerbread House. She really did love to give out sweets and cookies and popcorn balls to the kids in our town. And she really did love to talk to people and tell them little stories.

Grandma Gretel Stein

Her name, in real life, was Marie Jacobson. She was, in fact, a survivor of the holocaust. She had a tattoo on her right forearm that I saw only one time. Our parents told us what the tattoo meant. But there were no details ever added to the story. Mrs. Jacobson doted on the local children. She regularly gave me chocolate bars just because I held the door for her after church. But she was apparently unwilling to ever talk about World War II and Germany. We were told never to press for answers. There was, however, a rumor that she lost her family in one of the camps. And I have always been the kind that fills in the details with fiction when the truth is out of reach.

I based the character of Grandma Gretel on Mrs. Jacobson. But the facts about her secret life are, of course, from my imagination, not from the truth about Mrs. Jacobson’s real life.

Marie Jacobson cooked gingerbread cookies. I know because I ate some. But she didn’t talk to fairies or use magic spells in cooking. I know because the fairies from the Hidden Kingdom in Rowan disavowed ever talking to any slow one but me. She wasn’t Jewish, since she went to our Methodist Church. She wasn’t a nudist, either. But neither were my twin cousins who the Cobble Sisters, the nude girls in the story, are fifty percent based on. A lot of details about the kids in my book come from the lives of my students in Texas. The blond nudist twins were in my class in the early eighties. And they were only part-time nudists who talked about it more than lived it.

Miss Sherry Cobble, a happy nudist.

But the story itself is not about nudists, or Nazis, or gingerbread children coming to life through magic. The story is about how telling stories can help us to allay our fears. Telling stories can help us cope with and make meaning out of the most terrible things that have happened to us in life. And it is also a way to connect with the hearts of other people and help them to see us for who we really are. And that was the whole reason for writing this book.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 101

Today’s post starts the next novel in the series I am making out of the disastrous novel I wrote and published in 2007. Being the part of the story undergoing the most rewriting, today’s post, as many of these posts will be, is a rough draft.

Canto 101 – Rimbaud Outstation

It was, by my reckoning, early morning when we came out of jump space at a deep-space location known only to pirates and corsairs.  The spot in deep space contained no stars or planets.  Only the huge, insanely-placed interstellar truck stop known as the Arthur Rimbaud Memorial Outstation and Weapons Storehouse.

Ham was in his usual pilot seat.  Sinbadh sat next to him in the co-pilot chair.  I was standing behind him with the cabin boy Sahleck next to me waiting for everybody’s breakfast orders.  Sinbadh wasn’t cooking for a change, so we were forced to contemplate synthesized foods from the material synthesizer that were only marginally edible at best.

“Tell me, Professor Marou, why is this thing named as a memorial to Arthur Rimbaud?  And who the heck was he?”

“If I remember correctly, Ham, he was a Nineteenth Century French poet and arms dealer who lived a debauched life, died young, and may have inspired the Surrealist movement in Art and Literature.”

We were looking out the front viewing portal at the outstation itself.  It was a brightly lit, transparent diamond shape, the central sun-source, located in the apex of the top pyramid, illuminating all the space and spaceships around it.  As we neared the equatorial docking bay, we noted that a badly damaged Blackhawk Corsair was being worked on there.

“Razor Conn, maybe?” Ham asked me, turning around to eyeball me.

“Shad Blackstone, more likely.  It has been through something terrible, though,” I said in a vast understatement.  “This is one of the safe points the Blackhawks and ships of the White Duke use when they are in trouble.”

“So, ye knew about this here place from yer White Duke connection, eh, Googol me boy?” said Sinbadh in his bad fake-pirate accent.

“Naturally.”

“Can you tell me what to punch in for breakfast?” asked Sahleck plaintively.

“Banana with peanut butter sandwich, my lad,” said Sinbadh.  “In fact, one for each of us blokes here.”

The Lupin boy scampered toward the galley.

“We can’t eat that drehk.  Why did you order that?” asked Ham.

“Yes, I thought Lupins didn’t like peanut butter on anything, because it sticks to the roof of your canine mouth,” I added.

“Ah, but it be the favored food of Elvis.  And besides, the synthesizer makes everything else on the menu taste like cattle poo.”

The Leaping Shadowcat cruised slowly into the docking bay and made a soft landing on the tarmac.

“Why does the sign over the door say Pray for him?” Ham asked.

“That’s what it says on Arthur Rimbaud’s tombstone.  I assume Banzai Joe wants you to know he is French and that he can provide wine, women, song, and bullets here, just like a dissolute poet.”

Three peanut butter and banana sandwiches later, we disembarked from the Shadowcat, the three of us plus Duke Ferrari.

When we got down from the exit ramp we were met on the tarmac by Banzai Joe himself along with three serving girls who wore only ribbons in their hair and a serving tray with drinks and aperitifs on their hands.

“Wha… why are these ladies naked?” asked Ham, blushing fiercely.

“Messieur, s’il vous plait, we are French, no?  And French spacemen are Classical Worlders, yes?  Appropriate raiment, c’est nue!”  Banzai Joe was a young-looking handsome guy with an oily manner.  He was fully dressed with a leather bomber’s jacket on with a rising-sun decoration on the front.

“We are not taking our clothes off for the sake of your silly religion, sir,” said Duke Ferrari with a rather stuffy air.

“Oui.  That is fair.  We have this station far away from the Classical Worlds.  Our staff are all nude.  But most of our guests, unless drunk or gambling and losing, they are not.”

“We are on our way to Coventry, my good man,” I said, trying to give the others room to compose themselves.

“Ah, Oui.  That will mean you are needing food and drink, and probably fuel.  A good jump six, or two easy threes, I am thinking.”

“Yes, that will do quite nicely.  And we are friends of the White Duke,” I said.

“Yes, Professor Marou.  I know you.  It all comes free for the friends of the White Duke.”

“Good man!”  I patted Banzai on the shoulder in thanks.

“Umm… I don’t know how to say this, but you all are needed in a special accommodation this fine day.  There is a game afoot.”

“Oh?  Whatever do you mean by that?”

“Friends of the White Duke, you see.  You will attend, yes?”

Ham looked at me with a questioning look on his handsome young face.  But it was obvious he knew things could not be talked about openly in a place that was not a special accommodation.

“We will find out later, I suppose?” I said to Banzai.

“Oui.  We will all find out later.”

The girls passed out drinks.

“There’s a very good French restaurant on this outstation,” I said to Ham and the Duke.  Sinbadh’s Lupin ears perked up right away at that.

“Yeah,” said Ham.  “Let’s go get the taste of bananas and peanut butter out of our mouths.”

“A fine idea, bucko,” said Sinbadh.  “A very fine idea indeed!”

I had to admit, the food sounded good, and the nude girls were beginning to look very interesting as I sipped my wine.

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Space Laughs

When I was in college, I met and fell in love with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. I also read, in close conjunction with that book and its sequels, Frank Herbert’s Dune series. I vowed then that I would combine these two different kinds of science fiction to write my own big-book epic. At that time it was called The Dream-Flood and it was basically the story of Astro-nut Robin (inspired by Robin Hood) and his band of Merry Mutant Space Freaks. It was a jumble of bad jokes and weird science and not worth keeping. But some of the characters I created managed to stow away in my stupid head to come back into my writing whenever the opportunity came.

When I became a public school teacher in South Texas, I fell deeply in love with game-mastering for Dungeons and Dragons games with high school boys who had once been in my middle school English classes. Of course, after three years of that, the Southern Baptists in town decided that D&D was Satanic and full of demons, so I had to stop that story-telling nonsense or be driven out of town. So, enough of that. I was not leaving teaching. I was also not stopping story-telling. I switched from playing with wizards and warriors to a game called Traveller from Game Designers Workshop. Spacemen and laser-rifles.

Games inevitably were subject to the whims and humors of the players. And the players were teenage boys of the mega-nerd variety. So, they would blow planets up for laughs. They would make jokes out of serious events and turn side adventures and subplots into the main story.

It was gold for science-fiction humor.

The result of all of this was that when I lost a teaching job and had an unplanned year off, I wrote the novel AeroQuest. It was a novelization of the basic story of that Traveller game. It was a terrible novel. But I got it published without paying a dime with a terrible publisher, the criminals at Publish America. Once that terrible contract expired, and I had become a better writer, I began rewriting and illustrating it to become five terrible novels.

As of yesterday, the first three of those five are now published.

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Novel Transitions

The re-write of AeroQuest 3 is now complete. I just need to finish proof-reading and final edits before self-publishing on Amazon along with the other two books.

The Duo-ilogy will now be pushed into a trilogy.

And then rewriting and reworking begins on part 4 to turn the trilogy into a fourple-ilogy.

Four books? Did I say fourple-ilogy? That isn’t going to be the end if the Coronavirus doesn’t cut me short. What’s left will become a five-book thingy. What do you call that? A fiveple-ilogy? A nickelilogy? It can’t be a nickelology. That would be the study of five-cent coins.

Book one, subtitled Stars and Stones, tells how the two Aero brothers flee the Imperium because Ged faces persecution as a space-werewolf, a thing he is really not. What he really is is a Psion Shape-changer, able to rearrange the cells of his body according to the DNA of other creatures he has come in contact with and analyzed, mostly by tasting their flesh.

They come to an unknown planet where billions of people have been marooned by space pirates, corsairs, and stardogs. This planet, called Don’t Go Here has developed an entire stone-age culture based entirely on old holovids of the cartoon show The Flintstones.

The second book of the Teachers in Space Nickel-ilogy is subtitled Planet of the White Spider.

In it, Ged Aero learns for the first time that he is the prophesied return of the White Spider, a great teacher that will help Psions learn to overcome prejudice against them to use their powers to help make life better for everyone and build an empire of new stars and star-systems.

While Ged is busy learning to be a teacher and how to have some class, his brother Ham Aero is joining pirates, corsairs, smugglers, and various marginalized alien races as they rebel against Admiral Tang and the empire of half-lizard, half-human Galtorrian/Human Fusions.

In the third book, subtitled Juggling Planets, the characters learn the hard way that some of them are going to have to become leaders while others will have to be teachers. Numerous planets join in the rebellion. Some serious losses occur, as well as some significant gains. Some serious people get made fun of. Some not-so-serious people do some of the hardest work… or have the best dumb luck. And there are weird aliens, wacky technology, goofy people and strange planets, and things undreamed of in Horatio’s philosophy. If you haven’t guessed yet, these books are science-fiction comedies.

Next week, I start the rewrite of book 4, subtitled The Amazing Aero Brothers.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 91

Canto 91 – Ruins in the Jungle (the Green Thread)

The building itself was one of the strangest constructs King Killer had ever seen.  It was like a disintegrating pyramid, but, impossibly, it defied gravity and hung above the jungle floor in an upside down position.  The stone it was made of looked sandy and crumbly, but was cold and metallic to the touch.

Ookah pointed upwards at what appeared to be an upside-down doorway with a vaulted roof.  It didn’t take Slythinus’ expertise to understand what he meant.  All the many monkey-people quivered with fear as they stared upward at the opening.

“Up there?” moaned King.  They want me to get up there?”

“The Lemurians can do it,” offered Hooey helpfully.

“Yeah, well, I don’t have a tail to swing by.”  King’s face darkened as he felt ready to bop the old Time Knight on the nose.

Wicked Wanda was grinning at King.  Her green eyes were full of satire and insults as she laughingly got King’s attention.  He would’ve hit her instead of Hooey, except he suddenly noticed how beautiful and shapely she was.  Why did women do this to him?  He hadn’t recovered yet from the loss of Sheherazade.

“I’m wearing the answer,” said Wanda.

“Oh?”

“Yes.  You’ve heard of grav boots, haven’t you?”

“You mean you’ve been wearing grav boots all this time and never told us?”

“Well, not exactly.  It’s the same anti-gravity technology, but it’s in my brassiere.”

“What?!”

“You know… When a woman reaches a certain age, she needs a bit of extra support in strategic ways.”

“So how does your anti-gravity bra help us?”

“Oh, it has an intensity control.”

Hooey began to laugh.  “I get it!  If she turns the thing up high enough, she can fly!”

“That isn’t the funniest part,” said Wanda.  “In order to get us all up there, I’m going to have to take it off and throw it back down to you.  Each of you has to wear it in order to get up there.”

Hooey rolled on the undergrowth, howling with laughter.

“I don’t think it’s funny,” said King, frowning.

“Ahh,” moaned the eyeless Emperor, “there are times when I really regret losing my eyes.”

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 90

Canto 90 – Little, Medium, and Big Are All the Same (the Blue Thread)

Unlike other impending revolutions, the upheaval of the planet Djinnistan was so far overdue that the inequity and inequality between races was laughable.

The gigantic Afrits were all treated as machinery rather thinking, feeling, sentient beings.  The Faulkner Genetics executives who ruled the star system felt that someone with artificially limited intelligence didn’t have to be treated as equal to anyone.  They continued to follow orders blindly because they were simply not smart enough to question them, although there was no doubt about whether there was suffering going on in the Afrit community.  No one bothered to suggest to them that they might vomit lava on their oppressors and be easily done with them.

The tiny Peris had an opposite sort of problem.  They were child-sized even as adults, and though they were highly intelligent, some of them more intelligent than their corporate masters, they were easily frightened and intimidated by the security beasts (basically genetically enhanced primates in Nazi uniforms who were excessively violent, limited in thinking ability, and fond of the taste of Peri children).

The security beasts themselves enjoyed conflict and violence.  They understood two-word sentences like, “Kill Peris,” “Eat children,” “Throw this,” “Scare Peris”, and “Hit that.”  A few were genius enough by comparison to understand, “Hit that hard!”  But they, themselves, were unjustly tormented by bosses that starved them on purpose to make them fiercer.  And they were not smart enough to realize they could do to their corporate masters the same things they did to Peris and Eaglemen because they were so physically more powerful.

The winged Djinn, also called Eaglemen, were of average intelligence.  They were mostly manipulated by the genetic coding that made them docile unless their masters needed them to be warlike, and then code words could instantly turn them into crack shock troops.

This was the situation Arkin Cloudstalker found himself in as he, Lazerstone, and Black Fly sat down to a meal with the leaders of Djinn Rebellion.

The meeting was held in a huge light-blue desert tent.  In the far corner sat a group of three Afrits, keeping their distance from everyone to avoid choking them with the natural Afrit corona of sulfur and black smoke.  A smoke-hole had been placed in the tent roof directly above where they sat.

The head table held a party of Eaglemen, ten male and five females.  There were exactly two Peris at the table, a male and a female, both of indeterminate age.

The head Eagleman stood and introduced himself.  “I am Alsama’ Alzirqa’.  I am the sultan of the enslaved ones.  I lured you here because agents of the White Duke have been urging me to rebel.”

A second Eagleman stood and spoke also.  “I am Mutasabiq Alsama’. I am the sultan’s adversary.  And I am disappointed that you did not arrive with an army.”

Arkin didn’t have much of an idea what was expected of him, especially in the matter of what to say next.  Both bird-men stood looking at him expectantly.

The male Peri then stood.

“Ahem!  I am Another Danged Boy 152.  And, yes, that really is my name.  I am brother to the famous Another Danged Boy 143, may he rest in peace.  What the sky-guys are trying to get across in their bird-brained way is that we know the White Duke wouldn’t have sent you, specifically, the three of you, unless he thought you could solve our problem.”

“Ahem, also!” said the female Peri.  “I am Pretty-in-Patches.  That is also really my name.  I am the sister of the famous Uggo Uglygirl.  And I am here to come up with a creative solution if you goony birds fail to figure it all out.”

“Um, yes, I see,” said Arkin.  “We are supposed to help you rebel against your corporate masters.  The trouble is, I really don’t know anything about you people or your world.”

ADaB (Another Danged Boy 152) then spent twenty minutes recounting all the information about Djinnistan that I have already explained earlier, so you don’t need to worry about his recitation of it.  Besides, PiP (Pretty in Patches) spent considerable time and effort in contradicting and correcting him, so I will try not to bore or confuse you more than I already have.

“So, if I understand everything rightly, you outnumber the bad guys by a thousand to one, but you simply can’t take the fight to them because you are scared of the security beasts.”

They all looked at Arkin with some surprise registering on their faces, partly because Arkin had understood ADaB perfectly, and partly because PiP didn’t believe she hadn’t worked hard enough to fudge up ADaB’s explanation.

“Okay…  But you still don’t seem to have an army to solve our problem with,” said ADaB.

“We do have an army,” said Lazerstone.

“We do?” asked Arkin.

“Plenty of harmonic crystal out there in the sand, yes.  But also, look at them.” His sweeping gesture took in all the Freaks present.  “They can take this planet by sheer force.  They just have to be willing to try.”

“We can trap Dr. Bludlust in his lab easily, if we just don’t have to worry about the security beasts,” said ADaB.

“Would the Afrits be willing to aid us in battle against the security beasts if Lazerstone and I took them on by ourselves?” Arkin asked.

“You are powerful enough to do that?” asked Alsama’ Alzirqa’.

“Are we powerful enough?” Arkin asked Lazerstone.

“Definitely.”

“Uggo Uglygirl?” Black Fly asked PiP.

“Daddy had just endured a twenty-five-year run of only daughters, and he was desperate for another son.” “Okay, then, let’s get this battle underway,” said Arkin.

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