I have published part two of my rewrite of the novel AeroQuest. It is now available from Amazon in both Kindle e-book and paperback editions. It is liberally illustrated and far superior to the previous form of this novel published through Publish America and now out of print.
Tag Archives: AeroQuest 2
Canto 40 – Sad Tidings at the Spaceport
When the space ship called Megadeath, the Rock and Roll Starship, docked at the now prosperous spaceport of the planet Don’t Go Here, they interrupted a solemn ceremony. Administrator Bam-Bam Salongi was about to be buried in space. His body, encased in a glass torpedo pod, was on display in Frieda’s central administration hub. The relatively new crew of the space port was gathered around for testimonials and remembrances.
Frieda’s Metalloid form stood guard over the office. The Dion girl named Taquira was kneeling by the foot of the makeshift coffin and Tabitha Blue Arrow, in Lady Knight armor, stood over the head of Bam-Bam’s final resting place.
Xavier Tkriashav entered the office first, shock registering on his dark, inscrutable face. Behind him stood Captain Tommy Lee, Pilot Vince Niell, Nikki Sixx, and slack-jawed Cold Death. All removed hats and became silent mourners.
“What has happened here?” asked Tkriashav.
“Fez Amin and the Monopoly Brigade,” said Frieda. “He came here and killed Mr. Salongi and kidnapped Tara. We killed one of his Lieutenants, but he used Tara as a shield to make his escape. I’ve tried to organize pursuit, but we lost him completely in the Imperium.”
“We should not have left you vulnerable to attack,” said Tkriashav, shaking his head.
“We were unprepared for treachery,” said Tabitha, the Lady Knight. “It will not happen again.”
“We have ships now to defend our home,” said the Dion, Taquira. “We just don’t have any pilots to fly them.”
“We are outward bound now, to places where I know we will find a large number of willing spacers ready to come here and help get that problem solved, at least,” said Tkriashav. “I have places to go where I know all kinds of Psions. We might even see if we can strike an accord with the Nebulons we believe are migrating in mass towards this part of the Orion Spur.”
“You know,” said Tabitha, “you are opening your arms to all the peoples the Imperium loathes?”
“Yes,” said Tkriashav. “That was the idea. All us rejects will band together to make something far better than what Imperial Space has to offer.”
“You are a hopeless idealist, Psion Master,” said Tabitha Blue Arrow.
“Does that mean you will leave us and go back to the Imperium?” he responded.
“Of course not,” replied the Lady Knight. “We need idealists as leaders. It’s the reason I joined Cloudstalker’s Corsairs to start with.”
“You are good man, Psion Master,” hissed Taquira the Dion. She switched her brown lizard’s tail. “We like you a lot!”
“Tara wanted us to tell Ged Aero that she loves him,” said Frieda. “I fear those may have been the last words we’ll ever have from her.”
“I will have some students I have to deliver to Ged on Gaijin,” said Tkriashav. “I will tell him the grave news.”
An emerald-green female Galtorrian walked into the main office at that moment. “Ged Aero, you sssay?” she hissed. She was beautiful in a serpentine way, snake-eyed and tressed with flowing green hair. She wore the uniform of the Imperial Scout Service. “I must find Ged Aero.”
All eyes turned suspiciously to her.
“Why do you seek Ged?” asked Tkriashav.
“I must find the fulfiller of the Prophecy of Zhan! I have sssearched for him for yearsss. I mussst find him if it costssss me my life!”
“We shall see. You will surrender all weapons and travel with me under guard,” said Tkriashav.
“Yesss, whatever I mussst do. But, I mussst find him before hisss enemiesss do.”
The pheromones she gave off at that moment made every male present feel as if he must fall in love with her. Xavier couldn’t help himself from feeling it too. He tried to probe her, but she was apparently a Psion too, though not a type he recognized.
I am nearing the completion of the rewrite of part two of AeroQuest. Part of that is getting all the illustrations I want to include done. So, here are a few more that I have been working on.
For those who might be wondering, AeroQuest 1 and AeroQuest 2 are comic science fiction, and I have chosen to rewrite them with lots of illustrations since it is a work of fiction that I might’ve done as a graphic novel if only I didn’t have arthritis in my hands.
Canto 39 – Slinking Out of Paradise
Gaijin is one of the most beautiful worlds in human space according to those humans who have visited enough of them to compare. Its lush, tropical-sea environment is pleasant always and fully climate-controlled by old Sylvani technology. It has far fewer cold places than an Earth-like world such as Talos III or Martin Faulkner’s Dream. It has more resources than an ocean-world like Dancer or Design where no land masses are present. And its greatest features are the people themselves. They are disciplined by the Bushido code, and beautified by the natural Sylvani grace. It was no surprise, then, that Vince Niell and the crew of the Megadeath did not want to leave.
“I have to go to at least three other worlds,” argued Xavier Tkriashav. “I have important missions to complete. You have the only available spaceship on the planet.”
“Dude, like, we don’t got no orders from Ged boss-man,” said Vince Niell. “This ship is his.”
“Ged is very busy now. I am his friend and agent. I tell you, I have important things to do for Ged Aero!”
“And we tell you, Psion Dude, that we don’t go to space for nobody but Ged Aero.”
Xavier smiled. “Can you call him and ask?”
“Dude, we have commo units on board. Did he take a walkie-talkie or a commo dot?”
“Then ain’t no way we’re gonna move from this spot.”
Tkriashav looked at the stubborn rock-and-roll starship pilot. He saw only two angry reflections of himself looking back from Vince’s mirrored sunglasses. The hippie freak had started wearing a pair of red Moko-bird feathers in his hair as if he were some kind of Native American from ancient Earth.
“I am going to go and disturb Ged now, and get him to write a note to let me use this starship while he is training to be Gaijin’s new White Spider.”
“Sounds good to me, Daddy-o.”
Fuming, the turbaned Psion stalked back into the city, making his way swiftly through crowded streets to the Palace of One Thousand Years.
Ged was on the practice field with Junior, teaching martial arts.
“You were impressive in the arena,” Tkriashav said when Ged acknowledged his presence. “Tell me, how is it you already know the martial arts they teach here?”
“It’s not something I’m proud of, but I absorbed it by eating the flesh of the man they called the Black Spider. I inherited the ability to alter myself into the patterns of his finely trained muscles. Muscle memory is the key to absorbing the skill. Just like the instincts I’ve absorbed from animals I’ve eaten.”
“Did you actually eat one of those invisible cat things?”
“It was during an episode of survival training on the planet Samothrace when I was young. I guess I had my powers even then, though I didn’t know it until the last few years.”
“It’s that kind of knowledge I need you to pass on to other Psions, Ged. Do you mind if I use your starship to round up a couple of students for you?”
“I would be honored to serve,” said Ged with a bow. “Teaching seems to come naturally too, though I don’t ever remember eating a teacher.”
Xavier laughed. “I need a note for your crew, Ged. They don’t want to leave this place. They won’t take my word.”
“No problem. Will you revisit Don’t Go Here?”
“Yes. After completing the missions I have in mind.”
“Check on Tara for me. Tell her I miss her. And tell Ham about what’s happened here. I want him to come here and learn about this place too.”
“I would be happy to. You like it here, don’t you?”
“How could I help it? I’m not a monster here. I’m a hero to these people. But I have to say, I don’t understand the praise any more than I understood the fear.” The message was quickly written, and within the hour, the Megadeath roared out of Gaijinese orbit, headed directly into trouble.
Canto 38 – Friashqazatla, “Freddy”
Ged, Junior, Tkriashav, Naylund, Sara, and Friashqazatla were all gathered in the office of Shen Ming inside Akito House.
“Honorable Ged Aero-sama, we are here to determine the course we must follow to honor the prophecy.” Shen Ming smiled his unnerving crooked smile.
“So, what prophecy are we talking about?” asked Ged.
“The prophecy of Shan,” answered Naylund.
“The prophecy of Xan,” answered Tkriashav.
Shen Ming chuckled. “Ah, so… a matter of spelling, ha? It is the wisdom of my ancestors that the two prophecies are the same.”
“How do you know this, Shen Ming-sensei?” asked Naylund.
“What does the prophecy of Shan say is the White Spider’s first task?”
“He will teach students the Way of the Spider.”
“And what does the prophecy of Xan say he will do first?”
“He will teach Psions to use their inborn powers,” said Tkriashav.
“Is this not a similarity rather than a difference?”
Neither Naylund nor Tkriashav was able to dispute that.
“Well, then, I will discuss this first with the Black Wolf.” Shen Ming smiled at Friashqazatla.
“Who is the Black Wolf?” asked Naylund. Ged looked confused as well.
“I am the Black Wolf,” admitted Friashqazatla quietly.
“And how do you know this to be true, little Freddy?” asked Shen Ming very patiently.
“I see the Black Wolf in my inner eye. He constantly tells me, Come and be me.”
“Do you know the process to become the Black Wolf?”
“I do not. It distresses me.”
Friashqazatla, or, more simply, Freddy, was a very comely and attractive child. His skin was a rich, reddish brown in color. His hair was jet black and shiny. His eyes were two glowing-blue sky-colored sapphires.
“The Way of the Spider is to look within,” said Shen Ming. “The Way of the Spider is self-fulfillment and the honing of personal skills and moral strengths. Can this Way not also mean the development of Psion powers?”
“Yes, honored Shen Ming-sensei. I understand how to teach shape-changing power like my own,” said Ged. “But how can I teach the Way of the Spider if I do not know it?”
“Have you a personal code of morality and honor, Ged-sensei?”
“Then teach that as the Way of the Spider, for the White Spider is you.”
“And is that all that I must teach?”
“I believe in the combat with Ginjiro, the Black Spider, you actually consumed his flesh, did you not?”
“Shamefully, I did.”
“And your Psion power allows you to change into any living creature you have tasted or otherwise genetically analyzed, yes?”
“Then the Way of Combat will be easy for you to teach, for Ginjiro, though evil, was a master of powerful martial arts.”
Ged was a bit stunned to learn that part of what he was to teach was knowledge he had gained by eating a teacher of martial arts.
“Who will I be teaching the Way of the Spider to?”
“I see three students here. Lovely Sara, the daughter of Naylund Smith-sama. Your own little blue nephew, Junior Aero. And, of course, the Black Wolf, whom I will always refer to as Freddy because of the lack of ease I have saying his birth name without bruising my tongue and cracking my few remaining teeth. And there is one other we must add to this dojo. We have reason to believe he is a Psion also, a telekinetic. His name is Shu Kwai.” “I accept this assignment, Shen Ming-sensei.”
Ged bowed to Shen Ming humbly. He had become a teacher, complete with the necessary class to be one.
Canto 37 – Dance of the Two Spiders
Naylund Smith was dressed in a formal silk jacket with an embroidered Japanese-style phoenix raising its wings across the chest and turning to flaming ashes on the back. A white chord ran down the left leg of the blue silk pants and ended in an embroidered white spider, the first time Ged was to see the White Spider’s personal logo on anything.
Ged couldn’t help but admire the strong-looking, erect posture of this amazing man. He wore a gold earring in his left ear; his head was shaved and hairless except for white eyebrows, a white bun at the very back of the head, and a white goatee. The man’s iron-gray eyes glared like the stare of an eagle. Only the golden walking stick hinted at any weakness in the man, and he never seemed to lean upon it.
“The web of space is locked in an ever-expanding spiral dance,” said Naylund as ceremonial armor was strapped to Ged’s arms and chest. “The spiders that move from strand to strand are merely a counterpoint to the great dancing flow of the web itself. When spiders contend for space on the web, then the dance reaches its most violent and most beautiful point. I cannot help you with the next few steps of the dance. The prophecy says that you will be victorious, but no prophecy is ever absolute unless it can be proven to come from God himself.”
“You sound like I am about to have some kind of duel,” said Ged cautiously. “I thought this was just a welcoming ceremony.”
“It is that. It is also deadly serious.”
Little Ham Aero Junior was brought to Ged dressed in a milk-white kimono, and an embroidered white spider picked out in light blue covered the heart. The female attendants left him with Ged.
“I am to stand with you, Ged-sensei,” the boy said.
“Did Frieda teach you to speak so well?” Ged asked the little Nebulon.
“No. I learned your language long ago by telepathy.”
“Why didn’t you ever teach it to your mother?”
“She hardly ever spoke to me. I was nothing but a reminder to her of the shame of her servitude.”
“I’m so sorry for you, Junior.”
“Don’t be. Now I belong to you and you belong to me. I will stand at your side and die rather than leave you.”
“A very handsome and noble child,” said Naylund. “He deserves to be treated well by you, Ged.”
“Don’t worry, Naylund-sensei. I am learning to love my nephew too.” Ged smiled at Junior.
Naylund motioned to Ged to leave the tent where he had been dressed in armor. He was now done up in the armor of a Japanese daimyo or feudal lord, a samurai. He had everything but the demon mask on him.
As Ged, Naylund and Junior stepped out into the arena, 40,000 people cheered. Ged was stunned to see so many people. Being a spacer meant being alone more often than with other people. He’d never in his life been with so many at once.
“Behold! The so-called White Spider,” said a man across from Ged in the arena. He gestured with a silver katana sword to Ged and his two companions. “What do you say that I test this gaijin? Do you really believe he is the white spider?”
The crowd roared that they did believe.
“Well, we shall see,” said the man, drawing his katana in front of him.
“He will now try to kill you, Ged,” said Naylund. “If he succeeds, he will kill the boy and me as well.”
“But, wait!” said Ged. “I am unarmed!” He sounded panicky.
“According to prophecy,” said Naylund, “that’s not supposed to be a problem.”
“I am the Black Spider,” shouted the man. Ged noticed his black silk robes bore a red spider-symbol on the chest. “I will kill you now, Ged Aero!”
The man charged at Ged with lightning speed. He was obviously martial-arts trained, and knew precisely what to do. Ged tried to dodge, but the katana came down on his right shoulder in a perfect arc. Ged’s right arm was neatly severed at the shoulder.
The crowd gasped. Ged fell to his knees gasping also. Junior tried to run to him, but Naylund grabbed him and firmly held him.
“Patience, little one. Ged must pass this test himself.”
Ged’s mind swirled, but fixed on an image from his mind implanted there when Tara helped him return to his rightful form. His inner eye sharpened and fixed the image with crystal clarity. Immediately the arm grew back into place. The crowd was silent with shock.
“So!” said the Black Spider. “You are a magician! It will help you not! I have killed many magicians before you.”
Ged didn’t bother to listen. Power was surging through him. He could feel the rightness of each shape as it came to him.
“Tara?” said Junior, amazed at what he saw. Ged had changed first into the lithe figure of Tara Salongi so that the bulky clothing and armor would fall away. Then, as the nude female Ged stepped free of the binding clothing, he was already turning into the fearsome raptor dinosaur from Don’t Go Here.
“Try this!” cried the Black Spider as he leaped onto Ged’s scaly back and tried to sever the saurian head. Ged’s clawed foot nimbly came up and swept the attacker off, as easily as a horse knocks flies off his flanks with a twitching tail. The other clawed foot found the Black Spider as he hit the ground, the wicked hook slicing into the flesh of his stomach.
The Black Spider wobbled to his feet again, defiant and angry. His intestines began to droop out of his wound. “Good trick, spider, but I’m not beaten yet!”
Even as the Black Spider was bragging, Ged remembered one other beast he had been forced to kill and eat. He morphed almost immediately into a Samothracian Shadowcat, one of the most difficult creatures he had ever hunted. On the colorful planet of Samothrace, with its many xeno-flowers, shadowcats had developed the ability to change color so masterfully; they could practically disappear from view. As soon as the first paw touched the sand of the arena floor, Ged shimmered and disappeared.
“What? Where…?” cried the Black Spider, swinging his sword wildly. Attacks battered him from three sides. Ged it seemed, had turned into the wind. It looked like puffs of air were slashing the Black Spider; until finally, the sword fell from his hand and the Black Spider fell dead and thoroughly bloodied. Ged remained invisible so as not to disgust the crowd as he replenished himself by feeding on the flesh of the enemy. He also ate his own severed arm before he finally reappeared in his own form.
Naked, he quickly dressed in the samurai armor once again, though not bothering with the many straps and ties. The crowd was utterly silent, which left Ged wondering what it meant.
Shen Ming approached solemnly, holding two sheathed swords in his hands.
“You have done well, my son. Take your swords of office.”
Ged humbly received the swords from Shen-sensei. He bowed. There was a beautiful silver katana with a white ivory pommel and a smaller golden wakizashi with a blue woven pommel. The crowd now began to cheer riotously.
“I have defeated the Black Spider?” asked Ged of Naylund.
“You have defeated the first of many Black Spiders, Ged-sama. We will never be at a loss for villains.”
Canto 36 – The Palace of a 1,000 Years
The city of Kiro, Gaijin was a heavily populated place. The city was full of high-rise pagoda towers and Kyoto-style castles. Dominating the skyline was the huge obsidian sculpture of a Black Cat atop the Temple of the Four Pillars of the Secret Way. Naylund Smith explained it all to Ged Aero as they made their way through the ornate city.
Ged and Dr. Smith were accompanied by the two children and Xavier Tkriashav. Tkriashav’s young nephew, Friashqaztl, trailed behind the group, timid and shy. All the newcomers were overwhelmed by what they saw.
“This place is more beautiful than anything I ever saw in my visions,” said Tkriashav.
“Do I understand correctly that you are the Master Telepath and Psion?” asked Naylund Smith.
“Yes. I am a powerful telepath, teleport, and clairvoyant. I am not the most powerful of my people, however.”
“Perhaps,” said Dr. Smith, “but you figure prominently in the Prophecy of Shan.”
“If that is a book, I’d like to see it,” said Tkriashav.
“In time. It is a holy book to these people.”
All around the small group, silk-robed people had been gathering to watch as if the six people from the space ship were a circus parade. Many shouted “White Spider!” as if prayers had been at long last answered.
“Can you tell me why I am supposed to be this White Spider?” asked Ged as he took long strides to hurry past lemon-yellow-skinned admirers.
“It is destiny.” Naylund smiled and nodded his head indulgently. “The web of outer space has brought you to us to pick up the threads woven by the last White Spider. The last spider wove this world and its society. You have come to link it to other webs and expand this world’s reach back into the stars.”
“You talk a lot of poetic nonsense.” Ged looked away at the sky.
“Poetic nonsense is also sometimes Truth,” said Dr. Smith. “I will help you to learn that in time.”
Finally, they came to a beautiful castle made of white stone and Gaijinese Teak wood, inlaid with bright blue sapphires. It appeared to have been their destination all along.
“This,” said Dr. Smith, “is the Palace of a Thousand Years. It is your new home.”
“We will live here?” asked Junior.
Dr. Smith looked at the blue boy. “It is the palace belonging to Shen Ming. It is the traditional home of the White Spider. It is the place where the last White Spider, Shan Sasaki once lived and worked.”
“Do you expect me to give up space travel?” asked Ged. “It’s the only life I’ve ever really known.”
“It will be part of the life you will lead as the White Spider. It is the work you are expected to do for us.”
“Hmm.” Ged stared up at the curved roofs of the Palace of One Thousand Years.
Naylund Smith led the way into the palace through a large wooden gate. Inside they came into a courtyard that bustled with activity as if it were a small town all by itself. The courtyard had an ornate Torii arch that marked the center of the great building. There were practice yards there where groups of children under the care of a schoolmaster were learning martial arts, probably karate. There was a large oriental garden for quiet contemplation inside the palace, as well as the entrance into a riding stable filled with two-legged llama-like mammals called kians.
Naylund pointed out the two master towers where the instructors lived. There was a massive central building which Naylund called the Akito House. It contained the vast White Spider library, a place that had almost as many bound volumes of books as books on computer memory crystals. Finally, he pointed out Shen Ming’s Hall, which, he informed them, was the White Spider’s official residence.
They entered Shen Ming’s Hall through a double door that proved to lead to a huge indoor bathing pool. Naked yellow men, women, and numerous children were all bathing there. Junior Aero would’ve blushed if his skin hadn’t been blue. Ged’s skin turned crimson.
Up a marble stair, they came into the Administrator’s Hall, and a large, stately office. Behind the desk was Shen Ming himself, looking spry for a man of nine hundred years. He was bald as a cue ball except for a single top knot at the apex of his head, and he looked like a wrinkled Alfred E. Newman.
“Honored Shen-sensei,” began Dr. Smith. “I bring before you Ged Aero. He is…”
“I know, Naylund-sama, I know. He is the new White Spider. I would know him anywhere! He is just as Shan-dono described him in the Prophecy.”
The silk-clad ancient moved swiftly out from behind the desk and took Ged’s hand. He placed it on his own hairless head. His ridiculous lop-sided smile made new wrinkles blossom across his wizened face.
“I pledge to you all that I have, White Spider,” Shen Ming said in tones of awe. “I will serve you all of my remaining days.” Ged couldn’t begin to speak. The place and the situation filled him up. Tears welled up in his eyes
Canto 35 – Gaijin Itself
In Japanese the name Gaijin means “foreigner” or “gringo”. It denotes a barbarian who is too close to nature to truly ever understand the ways of the celestial culture of the dragons. It was an appropriate name for the planet. All who came there, even the dolphins and whales, were foreigners and off-worlders. The true culture was a secret deeply embedded in the planet itself.
Dr. Naylund Smith was an immortal. He had lived on 17th Century Earth and been among the first explorers to leave the planet in a space craft stolen from the invading Tellerons. He had met the original Sylvani, and loved them as a people. He used his vast knowledge and medical skill to help them evolve into the people they were now. He and his young daughter, Sara, were standing outside the Celestial City of Kiro as the spacecraft Megadeath touched down on the plains outside the Dragon Wall. They watched the sleek war machine settle gracefully to the soil where no starship had been for nearly 800 years. It was with a mixture of emotions that Naylund watched it. He knew that the ship carried what his daughter needed most. He also knew that it would bring an end to the peace and unspoiled beauty of the world of Gaijin.
“Daddy, are they bad men?” asked eight-year-old Sara. Her blond hair fell golden and beautiful over one eye. Her little-girl body was nearly lost in the graceful white silk kimono she wore.
“No, Sweet One. They are good.”
“Why are you so sad, then?”
“Because they bring the White Spider back to us. Things will change here. The Gaijin I love will be no more.”
“The White Spider from the stories? That should be exciting, shouldn’t it?”
The little girl put her soft hand into the gnarled old turkey claw that was Naylund’s hand. He was comforted by the gesture.
The starship touched down in sight of the Dragon Gate. The town was surrounded by an ornately carved wall that was shaped like a dragon’s body. The only entrance was through the Dragon Gate, the open mouth of an ornately carved Celestial Dragon. The city was secured behind the energy barrier created by the Sylvani Technology in the wall itself. Naylund would have to escort whoever was inside the space ship through the Dragon Gate, because he did not wish them to run afoul of either the Gate Guards or the ancient energies of the wall itself. Only those with proper chi, like himself, could pass through unchallenged.
He walked out to meet them.
The first down the starship’s exit ramp was obviously an Earther by heritage. His skin was pink like Naylund and Sarah’s skin, not yellow or orange like the Gaijinese. The boy that followed the man in the fedora hat, though, was a Nebulon, blue-skinned and yellow-haired. The boy looked Naylund directly in the eye, and revealed himself as a telepath by doing so. Naylund was not a Psion himself, but had come to know them because Sarah was a telepath, born of a Psion mother who died mysteriously during the birth.
“So,” said Naylund, extending a hand in a gesture of welcome, “welcome to the planet, Gaijin, Honored White Spider.”
“Why do you call me that?” asked the sharp-eyed man in the fedora hat. “I am Ged Aero. I am here because a Psion told me to come. I don’t know you. Why do you call me by that name that I’ve been hearing so much lately?”
“I hate to be the one to break it to you, Ged Aero, but by stepping out of that starship, you have fulfilled an 800-year-old prophecy. The people here will hail you as a god reborn. You are like Jesus Christ to them. You are here to teach them, and lead them out of their millennium of isolation.”
“Perhaps you are mistaken. What if I am not the White Spider you seek?”
Naylund laughed. “Shan’s Prophecy tells how you would speak those very words when you arrived here. The people would not follow a White Spider that never doubted himself and acted without reserve. Those are the qualities of a Black Spider. We have too many of them all ready.”
Ged looked the old man in the eye. Naylund could see something there he had never seen before. This man was a different sort of Psion. He was a changer, one who could change himself, and by doing so, change the worlds around him.
“Exactly who are you, old man?” asked Ged.
“I am Naylund-sensei. Naylund Charles Smith, Doctor, Adventurer, and Scholar. I am from Earth, but from long, long ago. Ged-kun, I will help you in your new role as leader of this planet. I pray that you will learn to love it as I do.”
“Naylund-sensei?” said the little blue boy, “who is this lovely girl?”
Naylund looked at the bright-eyed boy. He was a handsome child with the beautiful powder-blue skin of a superior race of beings. Naylund felt attraction to him immediately, though he had no idea yet why. “This is my daughter, Sara Smith. I pray that you both will learn to love her too, just as I do.”
Canto 34 – The Great Galactic Web
It is said that life in space exists on a spider’s web of invisible star lanes. A photon drive can propel a starship only through certain well-defined mathematical probability arrays to a new location in geometrically-and-gravitically-folded space. They work basically by popping in and out of reality, though you can only precisely describe the physics of it in mathematical terms. So, of course, there are those who claim that if space is filled with spider webs, then God himself must be the Great Spider who spins it all.
The Megadeath roared into orbit around the bright blue planet that filled the life zone of a star listed on the charts as The Old Yellow Man. It had been identified as a habitable system before, but no one had dared to come this far beyond the Imperial Borders to colonize before. At least, no one these spacers knew about.
“This is a spectacular world,” said Vince Niell.
“Yeah, man,” said Nikki Sixx. “Like a toatally gnarly hammertime world!”
“Wha…?” answered Cold Death.
Ged chuckled at the verbal density of his crew. You have to be happy with the pick of the litter even if the dog pound only has mutts.
“What do your sensors pick up, Cold?” Tkriashav asked Cold Death.
“Wha…?” the white-skinned bone-man responded.
“Your instrument panel, you thick…” grumbled Ged.
“Oh,” Death said. “Signal from the third moon of the big gas planet, man. Like, ancient dudes put a scout base there. Dead zone, dude. No life.”
“Other signs of civilization?” asked Tkriashav.
“Stellar observatory in the third orbit. Also, dead zone. One moon around this planet. None around the planet in the first orbit. Also, dead zones, dude.”
“What about the planet below us?” asked Ged, beginning to grow impatient with the brain-dead zombie stoner at the sensor panel. “Are there people or signs of civilization on this planet?”
“Whoa… Like two billion people. Not human, man. Humanoid, but definitely not human.” Cold death shook his green Mohawk hair-do like a horse shakes flies off its mane. He was definitely not human either.
“Vince? Do you think you can land safely?” asked Ged.
“Yeah, boss man. I can put her down on a dime. I’ve never had such a sweet girl under my control before. Yeah, baby!”
Ged ground a frustrated fist into his temple. He knew there was something important about this mission because of Tkriashav’s damnable clairvoyance, but he felt he needed to know what. Was it something for his own good? Or something for the greater good that would mean sacrificing his own life? He wanted to be able to make those choices himself.
“Cold Death? I’m gonna hate myself for having to ask this, but do you find any signs of a starport down there?”
“A landing field! A flat patch! A place to put down where we don’t go CRASH! BOOM! And blow up!”
“Oh, yeah, man. Major city with walls, flat all around, dude. Gnarly!”
“You see it, Vince?” asked Ged.
“I’m swoopin’, Daddy-o!”
“Ugh! What does that mean?” Ged looked at Xavier Tkriashav. Tkriashav merely shrugged.