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AeroQuest 2… Canto36

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

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AeroQuest 2… Canto 35

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?”

“Perhaps.”

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.”

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AeroQuest 2… Canto 34

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?”

“Wha…?”

“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.

Aboard the Megadeath

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