Category Archives: science fiction

AeroQuest 4… Adagio 19

Adagio 19 – The Last War Before Now

If you actually read that last Canto instead of skipping it to get to the good parts, especially the naked-girl parts of which I am not promising you any, like most readers do, you may have noticed that both Tron Blastarr and Arkin Cloudstalker were veterans of a war that happened in the Imperium’s Pan Galactican Rim, Space Cowboy country.  The Imperium had for two hundred and thirty-six years been expanding unimpeded and colonizing empty system after empty system.  The problem, of course, is that the systems weren’t exactly empty.  They had merely been cleansed of sentient and intelligent life by an unknown alien presence that came to be known as the Faceless Horde.

Battles took place, and planets would become empty of intelligent creatures like dolphins, whales, apes, Earthers, Nebulons, Galtorrians, Fusions, and other aliens capable of speech, culture, and organized militaries.

And the strangest thing was, the planets were simply empty after the battle.  No bodies of defenders.  No evidence of attackers.  Rumors began that the enemy ate the dead from both sides.  Of course, this was not based on the remains of cannibal cook-outs.  While there were a few of those sites with long-dead skulls and fire-pits for making barbequed people, they were all created by the usual Galtorrian and Dion cannibal cults that had been eating their own as well as other sentients since the Imperium was formed.

But then, finally, captured study specimens, mostly Earther-humans were released by the Horde to return and tell us what they knew.  The Scondians were literally faceless.  They were a race of black, eyeless, faceless creatures that lived entirely on soaked-up starlight, or more groundedly, sunlight.

I got a lot of first-hand information about them because one of Ged Aero’s most prized Psion Teenage Mutant Space Ninjas, Billy Iowa, was one of those captive study specimens returned to the Imperium. 

It was discovered that the Horde War was mostly a matter of misunderstanding.  The creatures did not need to eat because they were made mostly of coherent light energy.  Their bodies were primarily containment constructs to carry beings made mostly of low-temperature thermo-nuclear plasma.  Once killed, they simply dissolved into the air.  The Imperial forces had slaughtered billions, but didn’t know it because the bodies were gone by the time living observers were there to see them.  And Imperials didn’t find any Humanoid or allied alien bodies because the Scondian Faceless Horde were fascinated by them, needing to study them to discover why they didn’t dissolve when deceased.

Billy told me that he was only able to communicate with them when a Scondian who went by the name Rahotep invented a translation device that turned their clicks and popping sounds into Galactic English.  Nothing in Scondian society actually had a name.  “Scondian” and “Rahotep” were simply randomly chosen designations from the computer’s Galanglic database.

So, once the two very different kinds of intelligence could communicate, the misunderstanding of what the two sides each were, and what their goals were, the war ended in a flash.  The differences were great enough that no one actually was interfering with anyone else’s way of life.  Co-existence became easy.

Not so easy came the acceptance of the peace by those like Tron Blastarr, The Degenerate, Arkin Cloudstalker, Razor Conn, and Fez Amin.  They had experienced a myriad of impossible battles against the Scondian Scorpion ships, and came to deeply despise an enemy that had inflicted so much damage and pain with no apparent pay-back.

That’s when the veterans of the Horde War began moving to the border with unknown space to lick their wounds, build new fleets, and turn the act of privateering into complete and illegal piracy.

Many scientists, myself included, felt that the peace settled upon at the end of the Horde War was a mistake.  The Scondian Horde did not offer any cultural exchange or opportunity to cooperate in shared space.  They simply returned the Pan Galactican planets and properties and outstations they had cleansed of people and forbade further colonization in their portion of the Orion Spur.  That was bound to cause trouble sooner or later.  I mean, how can a greedy, acquisitive race of sentient beings like the Earthers, or the lizard-like Galtorrians, or the Human/Galtorr Fusions ever be satisfied that sentient beings with planets and a culture of their own not only forbid profiting from trade and commerce with them, basically in order to take advantage of them, or, even more galling, deny them planets, stars, and property to steal from its rightful owners?  They can’t be satisfied.  Piracy, after all, is what moves history forward.   But then came the massive influx of Nebulons in their Space Whale Cruisers, moving into Imperial range for no apparent reason.  By the billions, the little blue Space Smurfs were invading with a culture no more easily understandable than that of the Scondian Horde.  A new enemy to go to war with and exploit in any way possible made the Imperial navy and Admiral Tang forget all about the Faceless Scondian Horde.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 103

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.

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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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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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AeroQuest 3… Canto 89

Canto 89 – Back to Darker Skies (the Blood Red Thread)

            Ham finally had the Leaping Shadowcat reloaded and ready to return to space.  It was a pleasant thing to take part in celebrations for a new government, but the reality was that soon the rot warriors and death commandos of the Galtorr Imperium would be descending.  Admiral Tang would hear about Ferrari’s victory and wish to turn it into an ultimate defeat.

The Imperium could bring far more warships and troops to bear than a single planet like Farwind could possibly hope to possess.  The only real hope was to activate alliances with other planets. 

There was always Coventry.  The high-population world was Ferrari’s home planet, and likely to be even more easily swayed to Ferrari’s cause than Farwind had been.

            Ham’s crew was reassembled.  Duke Ferrari would return as astrogator and navigator because he knew the routes to Coventry better than the rest. 

The two Lupins, Sinbadh and Sahleck Kim, would continue to serve as stewards.  Sinbadh would be the cook and sometimes the copilot.  Sahleck was the cabin boy and did the cleaning. 

I was back aboard as the ship’s engineer and chief mechanic.  I could also lay claim to the job of Science Officer, though nobody really took a Star-Trekky job like that seriously in the modern universe.  Space travel had never truly been imagined right by the movies and TV.

 Besides, I was one of the few that really took Astrophysics and Xenobiology seriously.  Most spacers would much rather kill it than study it, regardless of what it was.  The Kritiian Bugbright was left in charge of the revolutionary government, and we took off on a new mission.

            The Leaping Shadowcat rose smoothly through the bright blue skies of Farwind.  It was basically a water world, only a few small islands showing on the surface of the ocean-covered blue planet.  I watched the planet become smaller below us as I looked out through the viewport on the bridge. 

I knew that Coventry would be far different.  It was a planet with practically no oceans.  Ninety per cent of the water there was underground, or contained in sealed water systems.  When you looked at a smoggy brown high-population world like that, all you really could see was a vast, seamless cityscape.  I didn’t relish the idea of going there.

            “Are we gonna have to make another commando raid against impossible odds when we get to your homeworld Duke?” Ham asked pleasantly.

            “I hope not,” Ferrari answered.  “You probably noticed that I am no good at such things at all.”

            “How do you plan to reconquer it?”

            “I don’t really know.  Maybe we can luck into something as we get there.  Like we did on Farwind.”

            “I think…” I said, offering vast wisdom on the matter, “I think we should seriously list those who are on our side in the area.”

            “Well,” said Ferrari, “I know we can’t count on Galtorrian or Fusion troopers to aid us this time.  Coventry has three different Imperial Training Academies on the planet, all of them fiercely loyal to Slythinus.  The local pirate or corsair forces are the Monopoly Brigade, and we’ve learned from Tron Blastarr that their leader is dead set against us.”

            “Well, that’s two definite no’s,” I commented wryly.

            “How about the White Duke?” offered Ham.

            “He’s powerful throughout the sector with gamblers, smugglers, and thieves, but do we really want them on our side?” 

            “Are there many Unhumans in the system?” asked Sinbadh innocently.

            “Mostly as part of the downtrodden under classes.  The Imperium treats sentient aliens almost as badly as the Classical Worlds do.”

            I had to shake my head on that one too.  Genetic freaks were also abused in the area as far as I knew.

            “Are there any allies for us there?” asked Ham, concerned.

            “Not really,” said Duke Ferrari.  “The people loved me when I ruled there, but I championed them and alienated all those who had power.  It was the beginning of my downfall.”

            “I thought the Imperium was not a republic or a democracy,” offered Sahleck.  He was a bright-faced boy for a Lupin.  I had always thought Lupins were thoughtless brutes before.

            “That’s true,” said Duke Ferrari, “but even a cruel tyranny like the Galtorr Imperium has to have the consent of the governed to rule.”

            “Maybe,” said Ham, “that is precisely what we need.  The people are behind you, Han, not the current rulers.  We just have to let them know what the Imperials tried to do with you.”

            “Well, I be hornswoggled!” said Sinbadh.  “Ye have found a solution Ham-boy!”

            The simpering Lupin lackwit had suddenly reversed my opinion of Lupins once again. The Shadowcat, now fully prepared, but not fully confident, embarked through jump space for the next fateful destination, the planet Coventry.  If only we had failed to tell Captain Dalgoda and the First Half Century where we were going!

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Slow, But Still Progress

The new book cover, finished this morning

I have not yet finished AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets, but the groundwork is being laid already for part 4 in the AeroQuest Saga. The series is, after all, the rewrite of my out-of-print, 2007 novel, AeroQuest. So, the overall structure of the story already exists. I am merely expanding and revising that 350-page book into a better series of four or five books. In fact, there might have to be even more than that. I basically am too inventive for my own good, and there are just too many characters and plot threads for one book. And it may take six books to work it all out correctly.

This, then, is not so much a novel project as a hobby. Or maybe an artifact of an old hobby.

You see, AeroQuest was a story made from the notes I kept of my ongoing Traveller Role-playing game of the 80’s and early 90’s. Hamfast Aero, a main character, was a player character created by one of the first gang of players I had in the 80’s. In fact Ged Aero, Trav Dalgoda, Tron Blastarr, Xavier Tkriashav, Vince Neill (the player’s misspelling, not mine), Cold Death, King Killer, and Duke Han Ferrari were all player characters and strongly reflect the personalities and style of their original players. The plot is bizarre because of some of the creative problem-solving decisions made by the group of nerds who played the game. It had to be a comedy because we always had that over-the-top jokeability as a guiding principal of game play.

I am past page 100 in Book 3, and I have passed 27,000 words. It will end up being at least 135 pages and at least 35,000 words when it is finished. Book 4, if it ends the series, will have to be more than twice that. That’s why I am thinking five books instead of four.

The inspiration for the book was the foolish idea of combining Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy wackiness with Frank Herbert’s Dune huge-book-with-many-short-chapters style. I guess the rewrite has given up on the Herbert format, if not the multitude of characters and subplots that went with it.

Anyway, I will have Book 3 published before I move on to the next writing project. The goal has never been to make money and be famous as a writer. But telling stories and writing them as novels has never been a choice. And, as painful as some of it is to give birth to, there is fulfillment to be had just from the simple act of writing.

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