Category Archives: science fiction

AeroQuest 4… Canto 129

Canto 129 – Spider Wars, Flamer-Style

“Yow!  It’s Phoenix!  He’s come back!  And he’s helping the enemy!” cried a nearly-scorched ninja.

“Ow-ow-owie-owch!” cried a flaming ninja.

“Run for cover!  There’s two flamers now!” cried a female ninja with blue hair.

“There are ways to battle even Phoenix!” cried the Green Phantom, the Galtorrian lizard-ninja.  “Those who don’t want to burn, follow me!”

Friashqaztla, more easily known as Freddy, sniffed his way through the smoke until he found Alec and Jackie.  They were chained to the floor in an alcove with sonic psionic dampers trained on them from all sides.  Jackie was completely naked.

Freddy crept up silently in Black Wolf form.

“Alec!  I’ve found you,” he croaked in a smoke-hampered voice.

“Freddy?  That you?” the groggy prisoner replied, looking at the Black Wolf with bleary eyes.

“Yes, I’m here with Rocket and Phoenix to get you out.”

“Phoenix is here?  Is he angry with me?  He told me he’d kill me with the next mistake I made.”

“No.  I don’t think so.  He said as long as you haven’t hurt Jackie he wouldn’t burn you.”

Alec was visibly relieved.

“Why haven’t you escaped with Jackie’s teleport power?”  Freddy was noticing that the girl was conscious, even though she was stark naked and bleary-eyed in the same way that Alec was.

“Psionic dampers.  They are trained on our heads, making it impossible to think or use our powers.”

“If I use my wolf fangs to gnaw through the power cables, I should be able to free your minds.  But can Jackie get you both out of here before Rocket and Phoenix burn the whole place down?”

“Help me to focus, furry-boy, and I will zap Alec out of here faster than you can say Herkimer Hairbloomers.”

Freddy smiled a wolf-smile.  That was an old Zaranian joke.  Herkimer had the psionic power of instant hair-growth.  And useless as that power was, it was a good test of teleport speed.  Herkimer could grow a hundred yards of hair in five seconds.  So, if you were standing next to him, and the teacher said “Herkimer Hairbloomers,” and you still managed to escape being entangled in his golden locks, you were a fast-enough teleport.

“Wait here.  Don’t go anywhere,” Freddy growled, still smiling.  He padded off on wolf feet to look at the power-supply box.

Meanwhile, Rocket was burning Black Spider Ninjas to cinders left and right, all around the Black Spider Castle.  He was having a lot of fun, but he was also wondering where Phoenix had gotten off to.  These ninjas burned easier than pine boards and paper, but the White Spiders were still vastly outnumbered.

Rocket was a naturally gifted flamer, but Phoenix seemed to know so much more than he did.  Especially about the evil and semi-evil stuff you could do.

The Green Phantom suddenly reappeared wearing a yellow and black fire-proof suit.  Of course, Rocket didn’t know what it was, it having been invented specifically in case the BS Ninjas ever needed to defend against attacks from Phoenix.  The Black Spiders seemed far more paranoid and untrustworthy than the White Spiders were used to.

Ninjas supporting hoses moved in to surround Rocket.  All of them wore the yellow and black firemen’s outfits.

“So, what are you gonna do?  Shoot me with water to try to put my candleflame out?”

“Something like that,” said the Green Phantom, probably smirking, but his face hidden within his firesuit.

Streams of white flame-retardant paste shot out at Rocket as if they were lines of toothpaste, sticky and cold, swirling around Rocket who was now apparently filling the role of tooth decay.

The fire was still at his command, but the piles of expended toothpaste didn’t burn.  It was frustrating.  After one final fire-flower decapitated an evil BS Ninja, Rocket could make no more.  His hands were covered in inflammable goo.

“Get a lasso around his neck!” Green Phantom ordered.

These ninjas were in no way psionic, but they were good at ninja skills.  Three loops found their way immediately around Rocket’s neck.

“Pull ‘em tight!”

The nooses cut off Rocket’s airways and he blacked out completely.

                                    *****

Freddy found the wire bearing current to the psionic dampers at about the same moment that the Green Phantom found him.  The Green Phantom lived up to his name not only by wearing green ninja cloth-armor, but also by being a full-blooded, green Galtorrian lizard-man.

“You, little White Spider, lose this round!” the green ninja swore as his katana arched through its attack pattern and sliced cleanly through Freddy’s right front shoulder.

Swiftly Freddy rolled over on his good left shoulder, picturing the muscle re-growth through his third eye just as sensei had taught him.  The black wolf-leg was replaced by the time he was ready to stand on all four legs again.

“So, a little werewolf, just like Ged Aero and his double, the Black Spider Bres.”

“Any part of you that I bite off won’t regrow as swiftly.”  Freddy glowered at the ninja with bright blue wolf-eyes.

“Never mind…  We’re prepared for you already…”  The ninja lowered his katana, turned, and ran away at full speed.

“I will bite through the wire first and then give him the chase and the bite he deserves.”

Freddy bit cleanly through the wire, but the energy that surged through it, and through Freddy’s tongue and mouth besides, was what any werewolf would have to call “silver fire” for the effect it immediately had.

Freddy was transformed into his original naked form and fell full-length upon the stone floor, apparently dead to the world… unconscious at the very least.

                                    *****

As soon as Jackie sensed the return of her teleporting power, she knew she had to free both herself and Alec from their chains.  She pressed her back against as much of Alec’s body as she could manage, then popped both of them out of their iron bonds.

Briefly she was standing there with him looking down at their now-empty manacles.  Already she began forming a picture in her third eye of the courtyard of The Palace of a Thousand Years.  It would take literally all of her remaining energy to get them there, but it would be worth it.  They would both be safe.  And now, she was confident that Alec really loved her, and she… well, she felt exactly the same.

“Jadalaqstbr, you have saved us,” said Alec, pronouncing her Zaranian name correctly for the first time that she could ever remember.

She turned to face him.

He put a gentle hand on her right cheek, and then his lips found hers.

“Alec, um…  I have to concentrated really hard to get us out of here.”

“Yes, Jackie.  But I love you.”

“I… I love you too…”

They moved together for one more kiss.

Then the Green Phantom popped them both with a stun-ray.  Both youths temporarily vibrated with the shock of it.  Then both of them fell to the floor.  Alec first.  Then naked Jackie on top of him.  “Not exactly faster than I could say Herkimer Hairbloomers,” said the Green Phantom.  “Too bad, Alec.  You lose again.”

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 127

Canto 127 – The Black Spider Theatre

Rocket had swiftly grown to trust Phoenix in ways that were hard to explain.  The two pyrokinetics had spent so much time transferring pyro-tricks back and forth with the aid of telepathy by Junior, Sara, or Hassan that he felt like he knew what the inside of Phoenix’s mind fully felt like.

He was surprised when they both ducked through a small, obscure doorway and found themselves in the dark wing of a mostly-dark stage.

Fangwoman was standing at the very front of the stage, wearing the Avenger helmet, holding both arms up and speaking loudly to about four hundred Black Spider ninjas in full ninja cloth armor.  Not only were there the ninjas in the audience gallery, but they were surrounded by a couple of thousand lit candles.

“Come, my minions!  Now is the time to strike!  The Palace of a Thousand Years is in chaos!”  She shouted into the candle-lit auditorium.  Strike in the name of Shen Ming!”

“Why would we fight in the name of Shen Ming?” asked one confused minion.

“Because Shen Ming has earned our anger!  He betrayed us and locked us away!”

“No, he hasn’t,” said a female ninja in peach-colored armor.  “If anyone has betrayed us, it would have to be Jinjiro, or Bres, or even Phoenix.”

“He betrayed us by locking us in a hole for a hundred years!”

“No, he didn’t.  You must be talking as the weird helmet.  The helmet was locked up in the Palace.”

“Oh, why am I arguing!”  Fangwoman launched three iron ninja stars faster than anyone could react.  The three ninjas who had spoken fell dead with the throwing stars partially protruding from their foreheads.

“We have to stop them before they get to the Palace,” Rocket whispered.

“Don’t worry, Rocket, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.  Do you see all the candles in here?”

“Yes, but I see all the ninjas too.  We’re way too outnumbered.”

“Just follow my lead.”

Phoenix gestured at the far wall.  All seven hundred and fifty-three candles on that wall suddenly shot flames upward as if they were flame-throwers.

Phoenix gathered all the flame and heat into one tight column of fire, and then brought it down on the heads of around a hundred of Fangwoman’s minions.

Some died screaming.  Others managed to pat out the fires on their clothing.  Still others seemed to be wearing flame-proof armor.

Rocket gestured at a near wall to accomplish the same effect  It appeared at first that he had set about a hundred and twenty ninjas on fire.  The effect was very similar to what Phoenix had achieved.  However, more than twice as many put the flames out, and three times as many proved to be fire-proof.

“Well, this should prove difficult,” said Rocket through gritted teeth.’

“Oh, yes!  Difficult, but glorious fun!” laughed Phoenix. It was going to be a long, hot night, Rocket thought as he began to grow his fire-form around himself.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 126

Canto 126 – Enter the Spider

The Black Wolf snuffled along the streets of Kiro, past apartment complexes, Shinto shrines, manga cafes, noodle shops, child-care centers, accounting firms, Zen Gardens, and the once-famous clown college where the zaniest members of the Harlequin Brothers that Gaijin entertainment had once been saturated with.

Phoenix and Rocket Rogers in his conspicuous white cowboy hat followed at a discreet distance.

Finally, they arrived in front of a run-down athletic shoe factory.

“Is this it?” Phoenix asked.

“You don’t remember it?” Rocket asked.

“They obviously moved locations after Alec and Taffy and I became White Spiders.  Too risky to keep using a place we could take all of you directly to.”

“How did Alec know where to go, then?”

“Good question.  Do you think the rat might’ve been betraying us all along?”

“No.  I think it was the helmet.”

“My nose says they are inside this building.  Jackie was very afraid when they entered,” said the Black Wolf.

“We are going in, but we will split up inside.  Freddy, can you find Alec and Jackie for us?  Maybe even set them free if they are imprisoned here?”

“Yes, I can Phoenix-kun.”  Phoenix nodded, and the Black Wolf disappeared around the corner, sniffing out a possible entrance for a small black wolf.

“And what’ll we do?” Rocket asked.

“We see if we can locate the Avenger helmet.  But carefully so we don’t fall under its spell.”

“Right!  We definitely need to find out what that evil thing is up to.”

“It will mostly likely be in Fangwoman’s greedy hands.  She is the highest-ranking Black Spider after Jinjiro’s death and Bres’ banishment from the planet.  But be warned, she is not the most evil one there.  You need to leave Bone Daddy to me.”

“Bone Daddy?”

“He’s a wraith, not a humanoid.  His people have see-through flesh that makes them look like walking skeletons when they’re naked.  And they can alter their density to be stone hard or phase through solid walls.  Oh, and anything in between, so never let a wraith have a chance to grab any of your internal organs by hand.”

Rocket visibly shuddered. Of course, Phoenix knew that Bone Daddy would be the critical fight for him.  He would have to beat him in single combat or all the White Spider students would eventually die at his hands, not just Freddy, Rocket, and Phoenix.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 125

Canto 125 – Spider Hunting

Rocket Rogers, Phoenix, and Friashqazatla, better known as “Freddy,” were gathered in Shen Ming’s office when Tempi, the messenger boy, came in breathlessly explaining what had happened to Alec and Jackie in front of the palace courtyard. Shen Ming nodded seriously.

“What did Alec do?” asked Phoenix angrily.

“It seems, my young friends, that he put the Avenger helmet on his own head.  And then he made young Jackie strip naked and run away with him to the Black Spider Palace.  Tempi says the people in the courtyard could not stop him.”

“I always knew that Alec’s conversion to the White Spider’s service was the least likely to hold,” growled Phoenix.

“Gosh darn it!  Now I need three brave caballeros to go attack the Black Spider Palace and bring them back.  Especially the naked, pretty one.”

“We will do it, Shen Ming-sama.  We’ll burn them out of there.”  Rocket’s enthusiasm was almost too much.

“But we won’t burn our two classmates,” amended Phoenix a little more darkly.  “At least, not the pretty naked one.”

“Good, good, young ones.  If you make an oopsie and burn down the Black Spider Palace accidentally, don’t be too upset about it.”

A wide grin split Shen Ming-sensei’s face as the three boys left the office.

Phoenix was a little bit anxious about this test.  Going back to the Black Spider Palace would not be an easy thing.  He would be going back to a place where terrible things happened.  But it was also the place where he would probably have to face Bone Daddy once again.  And this time it would be different because he had betrayed his master, the wraith assassin from the planet Darkworld.   And facing up to that betrayal was going to hurt.

Phoenix looked at his two companions.  He was entirely confident of Rocket’s loyalty and friendship.  But Freddy?  Rocket had an arm around the younger Zaranian.   He would be loyal to Rocket, but there were things Phoenix wouldn’t be able to order Freddy to do if the need arose. 

“So, if we are going to track Alec and Jackie, we are going to need a good tracker,” Phoenix said.  He and Rocket both looked at Freddy.

“The Black Wolf, huh?”

Freddy sniffed the air and immediately transformed into the small black wolf form his Psion power allowed him to become.

“This way!”

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 124

Canto 124 – Throckpods!

Ged and Naylund together brought the Super Rooster down smoothly in a wide golden field of grain.  The Ugly Pod remained in low orbit, but Luigi the Onion Guy and Carrot Mabutu had come down to the planer with Ged and his students.

In a matter of minutes the field of wavy grain was populated with a huge circle of evil-looking vegetables that had stems of six to eight feet in height.  Their so-called “heads” were either a bushy orb of purple thistle-down or sunflower-like blossoms.  But all of them had eerie, human-like eyes.

“What are these things?” Ged asked Luigi.

“THrocKpodS!  (best possible translation… though maybe, WeEds!)  Two different bRands… (possibly cAtagories)” Luigi said.

“What’s with all the capital letters in wrong places?” Ged asked.

“Dunno, Ged-Aero-sensei.  I programmed it with my Psion ability, all by intuition,” Gyro said by way of an excuse.

“Well, we better go out there to talk to them,” said Ged.

“Ask them to take you to their leader,” added Naylund.

“I foresee trouble, Ged-sensei,” said Billy, using his clairvoyance.

“Can you be more specific?” Ged asked.

“Sorry.  That is as much as I can see.  I think it depends on who we send out there to talk to them.”

“I will go myself.  Junior and Sara are both telepaths.  They will go with me.  Does that change what you see, Billy?”

“No.  Not better.  Not worse.”

“Okay.  Extreme caution, then.  Junior, you will take the point with Gyro’s translator.”

Junior, wearing his white ninja cloth armor, led the way out through the airlock and down the ramp with the stink translator held out in front of him.  Sara in a white top with ninja-armor pants followed close behind him so she could also see and hear the translator.  Ged, giving them only minimal space ahead of him, followed them defensively from behind.

A thistle-headed Throckpod immediately moved in front of junior.  It held up leafy branches, showing off wickedly sharp thorns as it’s weapons.

“Why are you threatening us?” Junior asked.

“I’m a superior Throckpod!  Servant of the almighty Grain-Master! (Best translation.)  I must oppose any who have no chlorophyl to sacrifice!  (95%  certain of translation.)”

Ged was surprised at how much clearer the Throckpod’s voice came through than either Luigi or Carrot.  What made this one so different?  Besides the creepy, human-like eyes?

Suddenly, a branch shot forward and slapped away the translator device.  Junior fell backwards to avoid a lashing pair of thorns.  Sara was not so lucky.  She stumbled forward directly into the grasp of a sunflower-headed fiend.

“What does it mean by no chlorophyl to sacrifice?” Ged asked, knowing the translator was now face down in the dirt.  He didn’t expect an answer.

I aM aFraiD he meAns blood!… no, life force… poWer?? (no direct translation.)”  Luigi was standing, or rather, onioning resolutely next to Ged.

Sara cried out as the sunflower-headed Throkpod began ripping her clothing off as if it were some kind of sex-crazed manga villain.

“This long-head-fur one will do nicely (rough translation)!” Gyro’s stink translator was still working extremely well at a distance.  “We will tear off her blossom (possibly meaning head) and suck out all her sap (93% likely meaning blood.)”

Ged was not going to let that happen.  He immediately began to change shape, into a giant green plant-eating armored ape like the ones he once had to hunt on the planet Misko Skoogalia.

“Let her go!” Ape-Ged roared.  He leapt on the two offending Throckpods, rending their stems with his green gorilla hands.  Then he proceeded to stuff the pieces of the Throckpods into his green mouth and noisily eat them.

It was then that he tasted a weirdly familiar genetic pattern.  He couldn’t quite place it, but he knew it definitely wasn’t plant-based. Meanwhile, Junior had gathered up Sara, and he carried her back into the ship, aided by Luigi who bounced along like a basketball rather than running… having no legs to speak of.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 123

Canto 123 – Who Can We Trust?

Jadalaqstbr, more often called Jackie because Zaranian names are hard with no vowels at the end, was impressed by the way Alec had taken charge of the situation.  She knew no one really liked or trusted Alec.  He was abrasive and often not worthy of trust.  But he had seduced her more than once by using his telepathy to invade her mind… more than three times already actually.  And she liked it.  There was something both sweet and sad about boys who were that pathetic and secretly needy.  She had always had a soft spot for guys like that.  Her own father had been like that before he died.

  And she could teleport him to five hundred feet in the air and drop him on his head if he did anything really bad.

Jackie noticed Taffy was the one who retrieved the

fallen helmet.

“Do not touch the inside of that!” said Shen Ming-sensei with a frightening suddenness.

“Um, okay…” said Taffy, holding it gingerly.  “Why?”

“Ah, so you see… I remember all of this now… when I could not recall any of it before…  The Avenger helmet was created over 400 years ago to have an intelligence of its own.  I overdid the wisdom circuits, however, and it blew out a morality capacitor.  So, instead of using it to make our commanders smarter in battle, it simply went insane.  We locked it away for four hundred years.  It grew more and more insane with each passing year.  Not only that, it can absorb the skills of those who wear it and amplify them.  So, not only does it have Jai Chaing’s superior bow skill, it has Hassan Parker’s Psionic telepathy.”

“Oh!  You mean it could take over my mind?”  Horrified, Taffy dropped the helmet.

“Ah, this is better.  So, perhaps a telepath should be the one to take this thing back to Mistress Li in the storage basement.”

“Right now, only Hassan and Alec are here with telepathy,” said Mai Ling.

“Ah, yes.  Perhaps giving it back to Hassan is not the best of ideas.  It did have him under its evil spell just moments ago.”  Shen Ming smiled crazily as he shook his head no.

“Um, okay…  I will take it to the storage basement,” Alec said rather hesitantly.

Jackie decided that if Alec was going to take such a risk, she was going with him to teleport him away the instant the evil thing showed the least sign of doing something bad.

Shen Ming and others walked towards the infirmary with Hassan while Alec and Jackie, with the helmet, started towards the stair to the palace basement.

Jackie was admiring Alec’s handsome face and not really paying attention to what Alec was looking it.  He turned the helmet over and over in his hands, peering inside at the neural contact points.

“I wonder how this thing makes people put it on their heads?”

Jackie suddenly turned and looked directly at the former Black Spider student ninja.

“Hassan is the second strongest telepath on Gaijin.  It must have a special power of its own,” she said.

No sooner had she said it than the helmet began to vibrate and glow.  A powerful, dominating voice blasted through her head, probably doing the same to Alec. 

“Put me on your head!  You are in my power!” the voice directed at Alec.  “Jackie, take off all your clothes!  I am your master!” It directed at her.

She could see Alec struggling to disobey the voice, but the helmet slowly raised his hands above his head and slipped it into place on him, the fifth most powerful telepath on Gaijin.

And her own hands no longer obeyed her.  She watched with horror as she completely undressed herself.

“We must escape to the Black Spider Castle!” the helmet said.  The helmet did not sound like Alec.  It seemed to have a voice of its own.

As much as it terrified her to see herself obeying the helmet, Jackie flung her clothing away and started to run.  Alec, wearing the horrid, three-horned helmet ran after her. Where was she going?  She didn’t know where the Black Spider Castle was, but apparently her bare legs did.  She was headed to the last place in the universe where she wanted to be.  And she was going there at high speed.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 122

Canto 122 – The Hidden Powers of the Avenger

In the central courtyard of the Palace of a Thousand Years, the Avenger made its reappearance atop a young, completely nude boy.  He ran into the courtyard full throttle, and suddenly pulling up in front of the animal handler, six of his young apprentices, and six mardenschmauz six-legged riding beasts.    The Avenger then hit them with a mind-blast, proving that whoever was under the helmet was a powerful telepath.  He did not, however, kill them.  He merely put all seven people and six hexipedal riding beasts into a deep and restful involuntary slumber.

Of course, it was obvious that it wasn’t Alec under the helmet.  Alec was especially aware that it wasn’t him, as he rushed to the scene of the attack knowing it had to be stopped, and most likely only by another telepath.

Besides Alec knowing that he wasn’t the telepath in the Avenger helmet, he knew it wasn’t Sara or Junir, because the naked body wasn’t a girl, and it definitely wasn’t blue.  Besides, he was beginning to know and befriend the only Space Nudist among the students of the White Spider, and he now recognized Hassan Parker’s skinny butt and tiny penis.

Alec’s own telepathy was at least strong enough to protect him from any attack against him that naked Hassan could muster, in spite of Hassan’s telepathic superiority.

“Halt, Hassan!  You must take that evil helmet off.  You don’t want to hurt anyone.”  Alec stood in Hassan’s way.

“I do not know this Hassan you speak of.  I am the mighty Avenger!  I have returned because of the foul crimes of Shen Ming.  The wronged ones must be avenged!”

Others gathered around the scene of the Avenger’s sleep attack.  Taffy King and Mai Ling arrived from across the courtyard.  Jadalaqstbr teleported to Alec’s side and slipped her soft hand into his.  And Shen Ming-sensei hustled across the green, lifting the skirts of his orange ceremonial robe with both hands.

“Bow before me, infidels!  Or be destroyed in the name of Shen Ming!”

“I did not ask for any destruction in my name,” muttered Shen Ming, low enough that Alec almost didn’t hear him say it.

“So, Shen-sensei, the Avenger has now become Hassan?” Alec asked.

“Of course!  Why didn’t I remember?  It’s the stupid helmet!” Shen Ming said with a chuckle.

“You mean, it’s controlling his mind?” Alec asked.

“Undoubtedly.  It is what it was designed for.”

Alec looked at Taffy and Mai Ling, both of whom had fearsome Psionic powers of telekinesis and no telepathic mind shields.  If Hassan took over their minds… Oy!  Everyone could die a horrible death.

Not willing to take chances, Alec ran towards Hassan the Avenger and forcefully applied his best roundhouse kick to the side of Hassan’s head, then reversed direction and kicked him in the midsection with the other leg.  The helmet, once dislodged, flew through the air and landed in the grass more than two meters away from anyone.

Hassan was lying on the ground, still as death.

His heart in his throat, Alec leapt to Hassan’s aide.  His own telepathy was healing-centered, and though Fangwoman of the Black Spiders had only taught Alec how to use it to inflict pain, he knew only too well that it could be reversed the way Sara Smith did it to heal instead of harm.

The green healing energy radiated from Alec’s hands.  He poured his power into Hassan’s potentially damaged skull.

Slowly, Hassan opened his eyes again and came back to life.

“Alec, you freed me!  That evil helmet takes over your mind.  No matter how hard I fought it, it made me do things I did not want to do.”

“You have always been nice to me and helped me, even when I was horrible to you,” Alec admitted.  “I couldn’t just let the Avenger thing do harm to my only male friend.”

“Alec, you have definitely changed,” said Taffy King, smiling at him.

“Yeah, maybe so… But please don’t tell Phoenix.  I don’t want him to lose respect for me.”

“Oh, no worries there,” Taffy said about their old Black Spider classmate, “He doesn’t respect you, and probably never will.”

“Well, good then…” Alec muttered, though the disappointment from realizing the truth of that stung him deeply.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 121

Canto 121 : Leafy Green Problems (That are Probably Nutritious if you Eat them)

As Gyro came through the weird blossom-like airlock without his helmet, just like the others, he saw Billy and Sara helping Junior clean plant secretions off Junior’s face, neck, and hair.  Ged was also cleaning secretions off his hand-rocket and plasma pistol, a rather important thing to keep clean and free of particles that might cause a thermonuclear explosion.

“Hey, guys,” Gyro said, “that thing took my helmet off and ate it or something.”

“No flowering plant is ever going to want to eat your stinky helmet,” Sara said.  “It smells too much like your spahnschloop ar nembhis.”

“So, you speak Nebulonin, now?” Gyro said with a dimpled blue grin.”

“Khompuruc sah, Gyro.  All I have to do to learn an alien language is grab it out of your little Smurf brain with my telepathy.  Kheehannan doh Churro.”

“What?  You want to force me to eat Mexican cinnamon bread?”

“That’s not what that means, Gyro, and you know it well.  It goes in the other end entirely.”

Gyro giggled.  “I like your weird accent, though.  It makes everything you say sound like a joke.”

“That’s practically what everything is when you translate it from Nebulonin,” said Junior with a wry grin of his own.

“Speaking of translating, that whole messy process used a semi caustic plant juice to sterilize us enough to enter this plant-filled environment.  Do you still have the universal translator, Gyro?” Ged Aer0-semsei said.  He was finishing the careful cleaning of his deadly weapon/transportation aide.

“Oh, no!  It was in my helmet, Sensei.”

“The helmets came out on the other side of the blossom.  Retrieve yours and take proper care of the translation device.  There are strange alien beings aboard this strange alien ship”

Gyro suddenly had an anxious little knot in his stomach.  The last thing he wanted to do was let his new friends and teachers down.

He retrieved his helmet.  Using his Psionic ability to measure the molecules of the translator device, he soon discovered that, not only did he not have to worry about damage, but the thing was cleaner by far than it had been before passing through the blossom airlock.  And besides, he was confident of fixing everything when all he had to do was shift the molecules that the thing was made from.

The inside of the alien thing was a complex of tunnels between root structures, flowering alien plants, savory-smelling herbs, and various plant-like leaves, branches, and brush. 

“If this is an alien space craft, where are the crewmen?” asked Sara. “I sense alien minds, but I see nothing that looks like alien personnel.”

“I don’t sense any mechanical minds,” said Junior.

“Billy, do you intuit anything with your clairvoyance?” Ged asked the young shaman.

“I get a strange sensation of war and impending violence.  But not here.  It is coming from some place far away.”

Gyro looked all about himself.  Nowhere was there anything, creature or machine, that looked like anything but a plant.  But… maybe that was the key.

He bent over to look at a large, squat, onion-thing.  The bulbous part at the bottom had a couple of fruit-like black orbs on it that almost resembled sad, expressive eyes.  And a mouth-like hole was blowing visible clouds of onion-stink at him.

“You know, we haven’t seen any crew or technology.  All we’ve seen are plants.  Could it be that the plants are the technology?  Maybe even the crew?”

Nobody responded to Gyro’s observation.  They were obviously all deeply invested in their own wonderings.

So, Gyro wondered if the people on board this plant-like starship were plants…  What would they look like?  And how would they communicate?

He looked at the onion-thing.  It blew another cloud of eye-watering onion-stink at him.

Was that the answer?  Did they talk with odors instead of words?

He looked at the translator.  There were parts of the translator’s battery system that he could repurpose to be a mini-material-synthesizer… to make smells of his own.  And then he adjusted the microphones to become olfactory detectors.  It was easy when all you had to due was shift atoms of hydrogen, lithium, and carbon into other elements that were even more useful.  Soon, he had the smell-detector working hard.  He reprogrammed the translator A-I to interpret smells as language.  He set the new stink-sniffing detector to translating onion smells.

“Ola, Mi AmiGos!” he heard from the speaker.  The readout display said (Oopsie!  Not Spanish!)  Then the Galactic English translations started pouring out.

“ThanK bugbladDers!  I can finally tAlk to you. I aM captain (best approximation) LuiGi the Onion-Guy!”

“Hey, guys!  Come here and listen to this!  I am talking to an onion, and he says he’s the captain of this ship.

“YeS!  That’s nearlY, possibly right.  YoU are on board the Cornucopean Ship, the… UglY Pod!

“We corNucopeans need Your HelP,” (said in really strong smells… possibly due to anxiety or excitement.)

“Wow, Gyro!” said Sara.

“Yeah, wow… I’m talking to an onion…” Gyro grinned sheepishly.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 120

Canto 120 – Space-Walk

Junior Aero found the antique vacc suits somewhat clunky and uncomfortable compared to what the Aero Brothers had available on the Leaping Shadowcat.  Not that he’d had one on more than once, briefly.  But they had rigid sections in the thighs and upper arms that restricted fluid movements and joints that didn’t allow flexibility.  And there was no intelligence at all ln the helmets or in the systems circuitry.  It was like wearing the stupid Nebulon Danjer suits, one-piece protective organisms that Nebulons wore in space.  But even though levels of stupidness were the same, the current space-wear had none of the fluid movements that the totally stupid Danjer-critters allowed.

Ged was the one taking the lead.  He held the hand-rocket that moved them all through weightlessness in space.  All four students were tethered behind him.

Billy Iowa was tethered directly behind Ged.  Sarah was attached to his suit from behind him.  Junior had fastened his tether cord to the metal loop on the lower back of her suit.  And Gyro brought up the rear.  After the boobie-spotting plan hatched in the little blue guy’s evil little brain, Junior felt it was right to put him as the rear end of the line.  For a Nebulon, Gyro could be a real little rear end.

Stars filled the universe outside the airlock, nothing but perfect silence besides. 

The alien “seed-pod ship” was lit by Gaijin’s yellow star and Junior noticed how flower-like it really seemed to be.  Could it be just some sort of wandering interstellar organism?  Junior really didn’t know.  Still, it was no more deadly than anything else they had faced on Gaijin.  Even stiller still, it was certainly no less deadly either.

Ged signaled the start of the journey across open, airless space with the first blast from the hand rocket.  The line jerked each student forward in turn.

Sara turned and signaled that everything was okay.  Junior gave the “OK” sign back.

As they neared the big blossom-looking appendage, the scanner pad that Ged was holding identified the structure as an airlock.

As Ged drew near enough, prehensile tentacles of some sort reached up to take hold of him.

“Ged Aero-sensei, do we run for it?” Billy asked over the comm system.

“Let’s allow it to perform its apparent function,” their master answered.

Junior then watched in horror as the tendrils latched onto Ged’s suit and pulled him inside.  It looked for all the universe like the thing had eaten him.

“Ooh!  I don’t know about this!” said Billy, alarmed as the thing slowly consumed him next.

“Does it hurt, Billy?” asked Gyro.

No sound, of course, came back in reply.

“Sara, can you pull them out again?” Junior pleaded.

Sara didn’t answer as the blossom-thing swallowed her next.

Then it was Junior’s turn.

“Shneejara sohk nahl, Junior-san,” saluted Gyro as the thing grabbed Junior by the feet.  That meant in Nebulonin, of course, “It has been an honor adventuring with you, Junior-san.” Then, the moving, living tendrils were all over him.  He could feel them pulling at his suit, twisting, turning, and then, horrifically, popping his helmet off.  Slime covered his head and slid down into his suit.  All he could see was a faint reddish glow through the tendrils’ translucent flesh.  He sincerely hoped the slime was not digestive juices.

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AeroQuest 4… Scherzo 12

Scherzo 12  – The Debate in the Ready Room

In the ready room where the borrowed Tech Level 9 Vacuum Suits were stowed, Tiki Astro, Gyro Sinjarac, and Billy Iowa were all three busy trying to figure out how best to carry out their orders.  They had to prepare the five clunky-sized duro-steel deep-space suits to fit one normal-sized adult and four child-and-youth-sized bodies.

“It is going to be a difficult refit,” said Tiki, millions of calculations whirring through his Metaloid mind as he was thinking and talking.  “Gyro, you and Junior Aero are both ‘Nebulons, so you are really no bigger than ten-year-old boys of the humanoid persuasion.”

“Well, I don’t think you need to insult us just because we’re Space Smurfs,” said Gyro.

“You are calling yourself that name again, Buddy,” reminded Billy.  “That’s an insult to your race you know.”

“Oh, yeah… sorry.”

“No need to apologize to me.  I’m a Space Texan… I mean, Space Cowboy.  And neither of those names is an insult.”

“You are bigger than the Nebulons, but you are smaller than Ged Aero-sensei.  Your suit will have to be cut down to size too,” said Tiki.  “We best get started cutting and repairing.”

“Oh, no need for that,” said Gyro.  “My powers make it easy to shrink the suits to fit just by Psion ability alone.”

“Oh, right.  I am not familiar enough with how your powers work to add that to my calculations.”

“You don’t need to worry about the computer science-y stuff.  I can handle the modifications without that.  I just reduce the spaces in the atoms themselves with Psionic squishy-power.”

“Cool,” said Billy.

“Watch me fit this suit for Billy.”  Gyro’s hands began to generate a reddish glow.  He then touched Billy with one hand and the space suit with the other.  The glow transferred something unseen from Billy’s body to the bronze-colored vacc suit.  The suit immediately shrank to Billy-size.

Billy then tried the suit on.  Gyro had tailored it to fit perfectly without cutting it up and putting it back together again.

“That is much more efficient than the way I thought we would have to do this.”  The robot-boy tried to smile, but, being a Metaloid and clueless about how humanoids actually did that, it looked more like a pained grimace.

“Why do I get the sense that you have something evil in mind, Gyro?” Billy asked.

“Um, well… Sara’s the only girl on this mission.  I was just thinking…”

“She can read your mind better than I can,” Billy reminded him.

“But not if she doesn’t suspect anything.  And she does have mammary glands that the rest of us don’t have…”

“Breasts, you mean.”

“Yeah, um… I mean, I could just tell her because of those… well, she would have to be topless to make it fit right.”

“Is that actually true?” Tiki asked.

“Yes… um, kinda…”

“Tiki can’t read minds, and even he knows you’re lying,” Billy warned.

“Yes, but… well, for a chance to look at her perfect mammary glands…”

“Yeah.  She’s seen all of us naked.  But we never got to see her,” ruminated Billy, not-so-innocently either.

                                    *****

When Ged Aero-sensei brought the rest of the team into the ready room, Gyro and Billy were already suited up, all except for their helmets.

“Gyro has an easy fix for resizing the suits,” said Billy.  “All he has to do is read you by putting a hand on your shoulder and then resize your suits with his other hand.”

Junior Aero was wearing only a t-shirt and briefs, so Gyro demonstrated by slapping a small blue hand on his ,shoulder and then shrinking the vacc suit to the perfect small size.

“You have a really amazingly useful Psion power, Gyro-kun.  You are adapting to White Spider training really well,” said Ged Aero-sensei. 

Gyro grinned with obvious pride.

“He does have one small problem though,” said Billy.

“What is it?” Junior asked.

“Um… Sara, er… in the front you have… um…” Gyro gestured helplessly with both hands in front of him.

“The word in Nebulonin is spahnkharas,” said Junior helpfully.

“Oh, my breasts.  What about them?”

“To, ah… to shape the suit properly, um… you need to… take your shirt off?”

“Is that all?”  Sara quickly pulled her shirt off over her head.

Gyro’s eyes grew larger by a couple of sizes.  He reached out his small blue hand.  It was trembling.  He placed it on her shoulder hesitantly, never moving his gaze from those two gorgeous…

“Gyro, what’s wrong with you?” asked Sara, doubt creeping into her voice.

Gyro smiled.  “I can see your naked front parts, Sara.”

Sara smiled back at him.  “Just do what you have to do, Gyro.  Or I will ask Junior to remove your… What’s the word in Nebulonin, Junior?”

Spahnschloop ar nembhis,” said Junior.

“Yes, your personal private parts.  With those gone you won’t be able to think that way so much anymore.”

Gyro turned a bit blue-white and quickly finished resizing and reshaping her vacc suit.

Once they were all suited Gyro and Billy were the last to place their helmets on.

“Gyro, honestly, that worked amazingly well,” said Billy.

“Yes, we got to see something quite beautiful,” Gyro answered.

“Put your helmets on while you still have all your spahnschloop ar nembhis.  She’s a powerful enough telepath to know what you are saying even though she has her helmet on,” warned Tiki.

“And don’t you forget it!” both boys heard her say in their minds.



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