Tag Archives: AeroQuest 3

AeroQuest 3… Canto 68

Canto 68 – Blunderful Voyage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 67

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Possibly a space ship,” offered Phoenix.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” asked Ged.

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

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

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

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AeroQuest 3… Canto 66

Canto 66 – Fish-Skin Socks in the Rock Garden

The planet Hyde Park was different than most planets in the Thousand Worlds of the Galtorr Imperium.  Where most life in the Orion Spur was made up of carbon-based life-forms, Hyde Park was rife with silicon-based life-forms.

Instead of forests of trees or plants, the countryside was overgrown with gardens of living crystal, quartz, and harmonic stone.  The wildlife was made up of electro-energy creatures with crystallized bodies, or even no bodies at all.  The amorphous stone men of Hyde Park communicated with no one but each other, taking whatever shape struck their weird fancy.  They could constitute and dissolve themselves with the speed of thought.

Nert Cooblegooble felt ridiculous in his red-and-white-striped pajamas.  His blond hair was tied up in random pony tails, and red freckles had been added to his face with a paintbrush.  He stood next to a table advertising fish-skin socks for sale.

“Stop fidgeting, Nert!” said Mr. Crushcracker, waving his fat, smelly cigar.  “You have to look business-like to sell these things to tourists.”

“Why do we have to play these silly pretend games?” complained Nert Cooblegooble, secretly Arkin Cloudstalker.  He looked dubiously over at Madame Prong, who was obviously an ugly man in drag wearing a tight blue dress over an overstuffed body and wearing gobs of makeup on his… er, her eyes and cheeks.

“We calls ‘em as we sees ‘em,” said Phineas Crushcracker, secretly Scarpigo Snarcs.  “These rubes and yokels are used to seein’ us like this.  These secret identities are critical to our roles as agents of the Thin White Duke.  Now be quiet, or I’ll buy a supper club and beat you over the head with it.”

Madame Prong, secretly Zero Snarcs, put a swollen white finger to her badly painted red lips and pantomimed shushing Mr. Crushcracker for saying the TWD-word out loud where any stone could hear.

“There are no humans about anywhere!” moaned Nert.  “Why the need for secrecy?”

“The rocks have ears,” said Mr. Crushcracker.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

In answer to Arkin’s question, a man walked up to the fish-sock table.  He was not like any other man either Arkin Cloudstalker or Nert Cooblegooble had ever seen.  He was made entirely of stone, a living statue looking out apparently through carved stone eyes.  He was an eerie, zombie-like figure that moved and talked without expression, always a degree or two off of what would be natural for a human man.

“Well, well!” gushed Mr. Crushcracker.  “So nice to see you again, Mr. Lazerstone!  How have you been?  How’s the missus and all the little pebbles?”

The cold stone voice that came from the hollows inside Lazerstone chilled Arkin to the bone with dread.

“I don’t pretend to understand your need for charades, Snarcs.  I do understand the position of the White Duke.  I am ready to render aid.  I can do far more than even Duke Keyser himself realizes.  Don’t mock me.  I get tired of the human need to maintain personal fictions.”

“Have you met Nert Cooblegooble?”

“You know that this man is different from the last human who you introduced as Mr. Cooblegooble.  Don’t play games with me again.”

“Oh, you take all the fun out the whole spy thing!  This is the Pirate King, Arkin Cloudstalker.”

“Yes.  A noble reputation among those who travel through the Hyde Park starport.  I believe you use the Knights as a privateer band working to liberate the people of the Galtorr Imperium, do you not?”

“I do.  I like your directness.”

“We are many, Mr. Cloudstalker, but we are one.”

“Wait, I don’t understand again.  Is this a riddle?”

“No.  It is merely a factor in the differences between your kind and mine.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Of course, you don’t.  You are like these ephemerals.  You do not have the Wisdom of the Stones.”

“Oh!” interjected Mr. Crushcracker, “You mean like, I can’t get no… satisfaction!?”

“Shut up, Snarcs.”  Lazerstone turned cold, sightless eyes on Phineas Crushcracker.  “This meeting is important.”

“Help me understand,” pleaded Arkin.

“Very well.  The crystals of this planet are all alive.  They are all capable of thought.  In fact, they all share one vast consciousness.  We, the Lazerstone, are capable of understanding everything about your kind and what they are doing in our shared galaxy.  We have seen the unnatural evil and crimes of your Galtorr Imperium.  We understand the need to put an end to that.  We also realize that only men like you, Ged Aero, and the White Duke are capable of making your kind turn away from violent animal ignorance and start harmonizing with the galactic symphony of life.”

“That is all very poetic,” said Arkin, still not fully comprehending, “but how are you going to help us?”

“I will fight for you.  Soon you will see how important that is for your future Empire.”

“My Empire?”

“Your Democracy if you prefer.”

“Yes, that would be better.”  Arkin tried to use mental x-rays to pierce the colorful stone of that impassive face.  “Can you see me through those stone eyes of yours?”

“He can see through you, Nert,” said Scarpigo Snarcs.  “He’s an all-powerful monster from outer space.  Booga-booga!  He can even tell what color underwear you have on.”

The humorless stone face turned towards Snarcs.

“At least I have enough respect for his underwear that I don’t feel the need to reveal what it looks like.  Not like the silk shorts with printed pink bunnies on them that you have on.”

Snarcs turned stone white.  “How did you know about those?”

“Lazer-vision, funny boy.  I see by using my perceptions of relative density and wave-lengths of gravitons.  Don’t cross me, or I might eat you in the night!”

Phineas Crushcracker and Scarpigo Snarcs both cringed.  Madame Prong held a rubber chicken in her hand with less than the usual gusto.

“By the way,” added Lazerstone, “Booga-booga! Scarpigo Snarcs!”

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