Category Archives: science fiction

AeroQuest 3… Canto 71

Canto 71 – In the Belly of the Dragon (the White Thread)

Inside the massive ancient device shaped like a dragon, the students of Ged Aero discovered a long corridor and a number of rooms that looked like the inside of a spaceship, yet not like any spaceship any of them had ever entered.

“It’s something like a Nebulon Space Whale,” said Gyro. “The walls and floors and ceilings are all made of pliable materials that bend and warp as the artificial creature moves, yet I can sense that it is entirely unliving in the same way as something made of stone or rigid metal.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty weird in here,” said little Mai Ling.

“Junior?  Are you still in telepathic contact with its artificial mind?” Ged asked.

“Yes, Sensei.  But it is complex.  It thinks in algorithms faster than I can learn from it.”

“We have to master this wonderful thing,” said Phoenix.  “It is the most elegant and brilliant travel machine I have ever seen.”

“Where is the control center… the bridge for the ship?” asked Shu Kwai.

“Directly above us,” answered Junior, straining to keep up with the flood of input from his unique form of telepathy.

“Can you find the way in?” asked Sara.

“I think I can open it.”

Red, blue, and yellow lights flashed in pulsating patterns along the red-brown walls.  Then a hidden hatchway opened above their heads.  A ladder that was made of some sort of high-tech bone or stone dropped to the floor.

“Permission to lead the way?” asked Billy.  “I can use my clairvoyance to see what’s ahead.”

“Yes, Billy-san, lead the way,” said Ged with a satisfied smile.

Billy Iowa climbed like squirrel monkey, zipping up through the hole in the ceiling in almost no time.  Then he signaled the others to follow.  One by one they all scaled the ladder and entered the large control room of the dragon ship.

It was a room shaped like the top of the dragon’s head in the carved statue of the dragon gate that existed outside and all around the ancient device.

“This will be such a shame to shatter the walls and city gate in order to use this spaceship,” Ged muttered, intending to talk to himself mainly.

“As far as I can tell, we don’t have to destroy the gate or walls to free the dragon from them.  It is showing me a schematic that suggests the whole thing teleports from here out into space.  The structure of the city walls and gate were built to remain standing when the dragon leaves.  It can also return and hide in the same place.”  Junior had answered in an almost mechanical way.

“Junior?  Do you need to rest your telepathy a bit?” suggested Sara.

“Um, well… let me do two more things first.”

The panels where the dragon’s eyes were located on the outside of the gate suddenly irised open, though nothing could be seen through them.  The six holes in the ceiling that then opened up each lowered a helmet attached to a long, glowing filament that tethered it to the computerized brain above.

“What are these for?” asked Hassan.

Junior fell to his knees, practically exhausted to the point of unconsciousness.

“Junior!”  Sara took hold of him and cradled him on her lap on the control-room floor.

“We… we are going to have to experiment.  So much of this is too complicated for me to understand without a great deal of study.”  Junior closed his eyes, and was immediately asleep.

“So, when do we move our stuff from the Palace into this thing?” asked Alec.

“There is no hurry.  We need to give Junior time to learn this thing’s complicated operations.  And we need to explore the whole of the ship.  We cannot simply jump into a thing like this and take off.  We don’t even know yet where we must go.  Somebody is going to have to study those damned books of prophecy too.” Ged surveyed the faces of his students.  Freddy, Rocket, Phoenix, and Billy had started grinning at each other when Ged had mentioned the word, “explore”.  Gyro was lost in thought examining a helmet. Hassan was looking about with a bored expression. Jackie, Mai Ling, Taffy, and Sara were all gathered around Junior and tending to him or lending concern.  Only Alec was glaring back at Ged.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 70

Canto 70 – Frying Pans and Fires (the Green Thread)

Hooey, King Killer, and another Pinwheel Corsair known as Willie Culver knelt in rags and chains on the cold metal deck of the Bregohelma.  Wormheart Toadsucker rubbed rubbery white hands together with glee over them.

“Pirates are you?  Fearsome are you?  Killed many men, have you?” crooned Toadsucker. “It will not help you now.  The master has you in his power.  You are doomed.  DOOMED!”  The ugly sycophant cackled in a particularly ugly way.

“Charming company we’re keeping,” King remarked to Hooey.

“We have to put up with him in order to get where we are going,” said Hooey matter-of-factly. 

“Jeez,” said Willie Culver, “we’re gonna die and you guys are making jokes!”  Willie’s young face was contorted with fear.

“Well,” said King, “I guess it’s because I wanta die, and the Doctor here believes we can’t no matter what we do.  You know, Willie, he’s a Time Knight and supposedly knows the future.”

“I know seven of them, as a matter of fact,” said the good doctor.  “It’s just a matter of making sure we arrive at the correct one.”

“And what did Sheherry mean right before she died?” added King.

“About what, exactly?” asked Hooey.

“She said to take care of our children.  She’s dead.  We don’t have any children, nor ever will have!”

“Oh, well…  You have to find out some time…  You actually have three children, all boys.  All three of them are growing up in the distant past, safe places where they can be retrieved at the proper time.”

“What?”  King was stunned.

“Sheherazade knew she was going to sacrifice herself to save you.  I showed her the video of the possible outcome of the battle.  She decided to have three children by you in the short time she had available to her.  That’s why I had to take her in my time ship to give birth three different times within the space of a week here in this timeline.”

“I have three boys?”

“The eldest she named Prince.  The younger two are Terran and Sejii.  She told me where and when I am supposed to pick up each of them and hand them over to you.”

“Let’s find them right now!”  King’s face was red and hot.  The chords in his neck bulged with emotion.

“Well…  We sorta hafta get back to my time ship first.  That’s going to take a while.”

“Yeah, especially if we die,” said Willie.

“Oh, we aren’t gonna die,” said Hooey.  “I have an ace in the hole yet.”

At that moment, Brona Tang entered the Brig.

“So, Bad Guy in red armor, what will you do to us now?” said King with a perilous grin.

“Oh,” said the electronically enhanced voice, “I thought about putting you all to death, but I know from my uncle, Sir Saurol, that you can’t kill a Time Knight without it being the thing he wants you to do.  They have some kind of uncanny power over the future.  I won’t fall into that trap again.  It cost me too much when I killed Shan Sasaki.”

“Ah, so you are the one!” said Hooey, surprised.  “I should have known you were the one.”

“I have a much better plan for you three.  There is no way you could’ve anticipated being marooned on the prison planet I have in mind.  It will mean a long, slow degradation and death.”

“A desert planet, then?” asked Hooey.

“No,” snapped Tang.  “I told you that you couldn’t guess.  I will take you to the planet Stanley.  You can play with the scalies, dinosaurs, and damnthings there.  They will be happy to meet and eat you.”

“Oh, gawd!” cried Willie Culver.  “No one has ever escaped from there.”

“I welcome it,” said King.  “You are giving me just what I want!”

Tang laughed and waves of fear rolled over the three prisoners.  “You will languish and live out your days there in terror and pain.  Maybe your friend Tron Blastarr will be joining you there.  We’ve found his little pirate base at the place he calls Outpost.”

King glared at the armored Admiral.  “So, you think you’re gonna beat Tron?”

“Oh, I intend to take my time about it,” said Tang.  “I know that Arkin Cloudstalker is making his way there with his allies.  I might even trap Conn and the Blackhawks there, destroying all my enemies in one barrel.”

            “Dream on,” said King hotly.  “Tron and Maggie are the best you’ve ever faced.  You give them time to put together the space forces, and you’ll never live to regret it.”

“Ooh!  I’m so scared!” said Admiral Tang.

“We’re scared!” mimicked Toadsucker.  “We are worried about one-eyed star sailors and their skinny, red-headed wives too!  Ricky and Lucy fight the evil Admiral.”

            “Shut up, Worm!”  Tang backhanded the lowly mutant across his ugly faced and made him sink, weeping, to the deck of the Brig.

“You make me mad,” said King Killer.  “In fact, you make me wanta live long enough to escape your stupid prison and pay you back what you’re worth.”

“Rot on Stanley, you ugly monkey.  The jungles there will take all three of you in a week.”  Tang turned on his armored heel and walked away, his red cape swirling and billowing out behind him.

“We’re gonna die a horrible death,” moaned Willie Culver, tears streaming down his young cheeks.

“Willie, I intend to bring us all three back alive,” growled King.  “Just to spite that red bughead.  He made me mad!”

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AeroQuest 3…

Canto 69 – Coffee Time on the Shadowcat (the Blood-Red Thread)

My first meeting with Ham Aero and the crew of the Leaping Shadowcat was in the Trophy Lounge on the lower deck of the Shadowcat herself.  The charming white-furred Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim, led me there when I arrived from the White Duke’s shuttle. 

“So, you’re the cabin boy?”

“Oh, yes, Dr. Marou.  It’s hard to believe, I know.  I’ve gone in a matter of a few weeks from Count Nefaria’s dungeons where I was destined to die, to working aboard the space ship of the great Safari Master and adventurer, Ham Aero.  My future is suddenly bright.”

The child’s eyes glistened like an excited puppy’s as he told me his tale of rescue.  He led me to a seat in the Trophy Lounge where I could sit and eat one of Sinbadh’s sumptuous meals.  There was a stuffed head of a dragon-mouthed pakoollie beast from the planet Samothrace looking directly down on my plate, trying his hardest to ruin my appetite with his ugliness.

            “My boy, do you have any coffee?” I asked.

Sahleck grinned in a wide-mouthed way that only Lupins can manage.  “It’s one of Commander Sinbadh’s specialties!” He said.

“Bring me some.  Please.”

The boy hurried to the mess.  At that same moment, Ham and Duke Ferrari entered.

            “I guess, with Cloudstalker’s departure, you are the Captain of the ship again,” said Ferrari of the curly moustaches. 

“Oh, I think you still out-rank me,” answered Aero modestly.  “Hello…  You must be Professor Googol Marou.”

Ham offered his hand to me and I gladly shook it.  “Yes, I’m honored to meet a man who has traveled almost as much as any explorer.”

            “The reputation has not entirely been earned,” said Ham.

            “This is YOUR ship, Ham,” said Ferrari, frowning slightly.  “I think you should be the captain.”

Ham smiled.  “I won’t argue that now, Han.  Have you met Dr. Marou?”

“No, no…  Nice to make your acquaintance, Doctor.”

“I too, am honored,” I said.  “I am not used to meeting such powerful inter-planetary politicians.”

Ferrari looked at me as if he were slightly annoyed.  “You know the White Duke.  He’s a bigger light in this galaxy than I am.”

“Well, if you say so.”  I know I must’ve been grinning ear to ear to hear my own friend being praised in this way.  I wonder how Ferrari actually took that.

Ham looked at me quizzically.  “Professor, what’s in all the boxes you had installed in the skinning and mounting lab?”

“Oh!  My invention!  I have to tell you about it.”  Gleefully I related everything they needed to know about the Marou Ancient Light Holo-Assembler Telescope and maybe a tad bit more as well.  I explained how my sheer genius had allowed events to be viewed from light years away, and thusly, years in the past.

“Umm, that’s very good, professor,” Ham said.  “I guess that will come in handy…”

He didn’t speak with enthusiasm, but I knew he was actually quite impressed with me.

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AeroQuest 3… Adagio 13

Adagio 13 – The Pathfinders

It was difficult enough to piece the whole story together before Artran left his parents, but it’s about to become even more difficult to follow.  Let me try to straighten you out about the plot of this history.  Well, maybe straighten out isn’t such a good term.   It’s more like having a giant Gordian Knot of colored pipe cleaners without being able to cut it apart with a sword.  Instead, you have to follow the ins and outs of the different colored strands and try like hell to make out how it all fits together.  That is by way of analogy, mind you.  Don’t go thinking that this entire history is made of literal pipe cleaners. 

The thing is, it started out as a straight-forward tale with two brothers leaving Imperial space because of persecution.  They were determined to make a new and better home somewhere out in unknown space. 

It’s surprising, though, how quickly the unknown becomes a part of the known, and how the known can become a heavy anchor that pulls you back to weighty things. 

When Ged sent Ham in the wrong direction, back into the Galtorr Imperium, we have the first fork in the plot.  Then came the Corsairs’ determination to work together, all except for the evil Monopoly Brigade, and then, following that, Tron and Arkin and Razor and the rest all get split up again.  More forks in the path.  In fact, everything gets pretty much all forked up.

I see the story going plot-wise in two directions at once, then with a couple of curly-cues, a loop-the-loop, and a full back flip.  It gets even more complicated as Dr. Hooey and the Time Knights get involved.  I mean, they started meddling with events themselves, backwards and forwards in time.  It gets pretty hairy in an ugly, back-hair sort of way.

So, even though I started this chapter in my history as a way to clarify how and where things are going, I am more confused than ever myself.  You’ll have to forgive me.

Anyway, little Artran leaving his parents for the first time is important because of the result.  He would fly off from the impending Battle of Outpost and into history as one of the most important explorers since Martin Faulkner himself.  You’ll see what I mean as the story goes along, that is, if I don’t get so balled up in it that I meet myself going the opposite way and forget to tell you that part.

This is not just a record of the doings of the famous safari masters, Ged and Ham Aero.   It is not just a record of the rebellion by pirates and politicians.  It is a story of how a small boy gets separated from his parents and discovers worlds undreamed of in our philosophy.  Oh, and don’t forget about the “Teachers in Space” parts of the story.  That’s important too.

But this Adagio is entitled “Pathfinders” for a reason.  Admittedly, not a very good reason, as the path is very hard to follow.  But hang in there.  The story gets better later.  I promise.  For one thing, I myself, Professor Googol Marou, am about to enter this story.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 68

Canto 68 – Blunderful Voyage

When Tron sent a message to Frieda’s Starbase at Don’t Go Here, he requested Ged himself come to Outpost for little Artran.  Frieda, however, knew that Ged was at Gaijin with Xavier Tkriashav.  She sent a courier in a brand-new Express Boat to Gaijin.  It was listed for Tkriashav or Ged Aero only, but somehow it got delivered to Vince Neill aboard the Megadeath.

Scarpigo Snarcs wore an X-boat officer’s uniform as he gave the message to Vince.

“All right, dude!  I’ve heard of this kid-dude.  It’d be an honor to serve Ged-dude and the pirate-dude at the same time.  We leave immediately!”

“Thank you,” said Scarpigo in his guise as Bill the Postman.  “I will just be hitching a ride.”

“Wha…?” said Cold Death, his bright green Mohawk shaking in confusion.

“ME RIDE WITH YOU!” said Scarpigo in that extra loud way you normally talk to stupid people, as if they were deaf rather than merely mentally impaired.

“Okay, Bill,” said Vince.  “You can ride if you try to be just a bit quieter.  That gnarly voice of yours can surely give me a headache.”

Nikki Sixx looked over the coordinates to Outpost, tried to figure out the navigational logarithms in his head, and then gave up; inserting the computer crystal with the jump program that Bill the Postman supplied him with into the ship’s navigational computer.  The Megadeath roared musically to life.

Now, travel between the stars is a miracle of physics and mathematics that only takes place in certain narrow corridors of gravity and space.  A space ship creates a field around itself that alters the fabric of space nearby.  Space will actually fold itself around the matter the star ship is made of.  It appears to disintegrate in one place, and, after a period in which the space-time continuum percolates around it, reforms itself in the new location.  The location could be anywhere within a range of six parsecs, even empty space.  But spacers only found it useful to travel from star system to star system.  Fuel would eventually be necessary and none was available in empty parsecs of space.

Twenty-seven hours after they had taken flight from Don’t Go Here, the Megadeath arrived at Outpost.  Immediately they were surrounded by Pinwheel Corsairs.

“Alien ship of unknown design!” called the nearest corsair, “state your business here.”

“Yo, Dude!” warbled Vince Neill from behind his mirrored shades.  “We come on a mission of mercy from Ged Aero.  We come to pick up little dude Artran and take him to Gaijin.”

“We don’t recognize you and we don’t know any Gaijin.  Prepare to be atomized.”

“Whoa, not cool!” said Neill into the communicator.  He immediately threw the Megadeath into maneuvers that the corsairs had never seen attempted, let alone being able to catch up with them.  The highly efficient ship made with Ancient technology danced out of reach of all Pinwheel weaponry.

“Is this an attack?” rasped Tron’s voice over the communicators.

“No, Dude.  I just don’t want my biscuits fried by you!”

“Stop, then, and prepare to be boarded,” said Tron.

“Whatever you say, Dude.” Despite everything that was sensible, the Megadeath and her Rock-and-Roll crew had fallen into the hands of a desperate pirate who faced total annihilation at the hands of the Galtorrian Imperial Fleet.

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 67

Canto 67 – Scaling the Dragon (This Canto has been re-ordered in the re-write.)

The Dragon Gate of the city of Kiro, Gaijin, was a huge carving of an oriental dragon’s head which allowed a fairly good sized caravan to pass through its open mouth and into the city all at once.  The shoulders of the dragon were carved from the south side of the gate in the immense city wall that, like a coiled serpent, circled the city and ended in a gigantic tail that rose up like a tower on the northern side of the gate.  The carved dragon itself snarled in that crazed oriental manner and was colored red with gold trim edging each and every individual scale.

Ged and his students walked there and stood looking up at the edifice.

“Is it hollow?” blond Rocket Rogers asked from under the brim of his white cowboy hat.

“No, stupid, it’s obviously one solid piece,” sneered Alec Songh.

“Shut up, Alec!” shouted Friashqazatla.  Freddy had become Rocket’s shadow, following him everywhere and imitating everything about him.  His worshipful friendship had become indispensable to Rocket.

“How will we get inside?” asked Shu Kwai, ignoring the bickering and concentrating on the problem at hand.

“Can Jadalaqstbr do it for us?” asked Hassan Parker innocently.  Hassan was still nude in protest for the group’s rejection of his Classical Worlds’ notions.  He wore only the blue felt fez he always had on his head.

“She might teleport inside a solid part, not being able to see inside,” said Sensei Aero.  “We don’t want to lose her.”

Jackie stood close beside Alec Songh, blushing as they talked about her, in spite of her dark brown skin.

“Can a clairvoyant look inside?” asked Billy Iowa, pushing up the front of the brim of his own cowboy hat.

“Maybe…” murmured Phoenix.  His green snake eyes glazed over for a moment, and then he awoke from his brief trance.  “No.  I can’t see through some sort of fog inside this dragon.”

“What is it that we think is here?” asked Sarah Smith.  The Gaijinese sunshine made her blond hair and snow-white body suit glow with reflected light.

“An alien artifact from the time of the Ancients,” said Ged distractedly, studying the eyes of the great beast.

“Possibly a space ship,” offered Phoenix.

“Some of the other artifacts we’ve encountered had a sort of mind of their own,” stated Ged, more to himself than to his students.

“Should I try to detect a mind?” asked Sarah sweetly.

“She’s a powerful telepath,” added Junior Aero.

While Ged was thinking, Alec Songh put his hands on Jadalaqstbr once again.  She melted up against him and began to softly coo with pleasure.

“Alec!” said Shu Kwai sternly.  Alec let go of her, both body and mind.  He and Shu had talked at length about what was acceptable White Spider behavior in a public place.  Seducing someone was not one of things that Shu was willing to allow.

“All right, Sarah.  Perhaps that is a good idea,” said Ged at last.  He remembered how telepathic Tara had been able to use the Hammer to create an entire downport on Don’t Go Here

Sarah put her forefingers to her temples and began to concentrate.  “Oh!” she said, almost immediately.  “It is a dark and powerful mind!  I can’t even get close to it!”

Junior took hold of her shoulders, concerned that she might somehow be hurt.  His intentions, however, were turned inside out by the dark red mind that came flooding into his inner eye.  Swirling patterns of circuitry and resistors flooded into his brain.  A series of controls formed in his mind.  Stunned, Junior blinked at the others and said, “I have it.”

“What do you mean?” asked Ged.

“It is a machine,” said Junior.  “I can make it work by telepathy.”  He concentrated for a moment on the controls arrayed before him in his inner eye.  Red-gold-green-red.  The mechanisms awoke for the first time in a million years.

With a rumble, the carven upper jaw of the dragon splintered and the roof of the huge mouth fell out, shattering on the pavement below.  A long, thin lower jaw dropped down from the great carven head.  The tongue rippled itself into a sort of stairway leading up into the dark throat.  The dragon had come to life and now was offering to swallow them if they only decided to take the stairway.

Cautiously, Ged led the way.  Rocket Rogers, then Shu Kwai followed him.  Looking slightly panicked, Taffy King scanned the others and then followed Rocket up the tongue-stair.  Friashqazatla went next.  Then Billy Iowa and timid Gyro.  Holding hands, Alec Songh and Jadalaqstbr went up.  Phoenix, Hassan Parker, and little Mai Ling followed.  Finally, Sarah looked at Junior Aero, who had opened this hatch, smiled, and led him, too, up the stair.

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Sci-Fi Plans

This is a possible cover for AeroQuest 3.

I have now re-written about sixty percent of the old novel AeroQuest. I published AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones in September. AeroQuest 2 : Planet of the White Spider was published yesterday in October. AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets will probably take longer than either of the other two. The story has to be elongated. The growing rebellion of the pirates and smugglers trying to establish the New Star League need time to grow their rebellion. In the previous edition of this book the flower blossoms almost before the shoots are out of the ground. I need to develop the rebellion with more planets and systems with reasons why they want to leave the icky old emperor and establish a space-born democracy. And this novel series isn’t merely a parody of Star Wars or an imitation of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is also its own version of a space opera with unique characters and plot-lines that are entirely Mickian in their non-sensibility.

Ged Aero, the main character and most important protagonist, is revealed in AeroQuest 2 to be the new White Spider, a prophet-like teacher fulfilling a century-old prophecy by leading twelve young disciples into the state of near-perfection of their psionic mind powers. Adventures where these twelve student-disciples learn stuff they need to know need to be added to the original story.

Each of the first two re-written books is about 35,000 words. The original novel is about 120,000 words. I will need to add a lot more than just the re-write of 50,000 more words. And I want to keep the books approximately equal, so I will be aiming to increase the total to at least 140,000 words by writing two more 35,000-word stories. And it may be enough more than that to fill five total books.

If my run-away cancerous imagination is not reigned in, I have at least three more book-length story-tumors to add in beyond that.

So, I have enough to do. My Tuesday blog plan will still be going for a while.

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