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AeroQuest 4… Update

So, I have no idea if anybody is following my Tuesday novel-writing posts or not. But since I have reached the halfway point in novel #4 of the series, I thought I would take a slight break to explain and re-elucidate the whole ugly process before it comes to life and swallows me whole.

The original intent is to take my horrifically bad first-published novel and expand, improve, and reorganize it into a series of novels. Basically turning one badly written swamp full of plot holes and monstrously confusing characters into five equally terrifying pieces of pulp-fiction parody-satire-trash… er, I mean, treasure.

I have already turned 80 percent of the 327 pages of the original piece of garbage into three and a half 35,000 to 45,000 word novels. They have all been displayed here as the novel-writing proceeded, a Canto (what I call a chapter) at a time. Hopefully they show how I rewrote and modified each new Canto.

I have published AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones. It relates how the Aero Brothers find and reclaim the cave-man planet called Don’t Go Here, and the first conflict in the Foundation War of the New Star League is begun.

I have also promoted the first book in the series with a free give-away e-book, to a rather insignificant degree of non-success.

This book was the easiest to revamp. It started off the old novel with the most coherent plot lines and story structure of the entire old monstrosity of a manuscript. And publishing with Amazon gave me the option of including lots of illustrations which were already made and waiting to be scanned and inserted. So, this was mostly a cut-and-paste rather than rewrite process. Very little new material needed to be written.

The second part took a good deal more sorting and re-arranging as I had to gather scattered Cantos from the whole rest of the original manuscript and link them together more coherently than I had before.

This would become AeroQuest 2: Planet of the White Spider. This would chronicle mainly the story of Ged Aero finding and embracing his destiny as the teacher of psionics written about in obscure books of prophecy (Somehow all the same book written by Xan, Zhan, Shan, and Stan who may actually all be the same guy.)

Ged would be united with and begin to teach twelve Psion students with significant reality-altering mind powers… As well as the ninja skills that Ged’s own Psionic power gave him when, in velociraptor form, he ate a ninja and absorbed its skill.

That left me with the task of sorting out the messy middle of the original manuscript into as much of a novel-like form as it was possible to do.

AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets was about the journeys of Ham Aero as he and the crew of his spaceship, The Leaping Shadowcat, went from planet to planet convincing people, or even conquering them, using charm, tactical skill, but mostly sheer dumb luck into joining the rebellion against the old Imperium and trying to form the New Star League.

All three of these books are already published and promoted at least once. Interest has been building. Some among the possessors of the free copy of the second book found it interesting enough to go back and buy copies of book one. Each new promotion found new readers. Nobody, however, has reviewed any of these books yet. But… we can’t have everything we want in life, right?

So, next Tuesday the story of book four will continue with newly written material that I have not written yet. The fourth book, AeroQuest 4 : The Amazing Aero Brothers, is written in two parts. Ham Aero’s part is about continuing the fight against the Imperium and evil Grand Admiral Brona Tang (the Darth Vader parody who leads the bad guys) . Ged Aero’s part will continue to be about training his students to meet a terrible destiny in the prophesied future.

And, of course, the fifth book will bring a conclusion to the series as a whole. But I haven’t really had time to think about that very much yet.

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AeroQuest 4… Nocturne 10

Nocturne 10 – A Little Routine Engineering

Dana Cole held Trav Dalgoda’s severed head in her hands.  The head stared back with lifeless eyes.  The crown on the head was pulsating with sickly green lights.

“How could you do this?” she said to the head.

“The evil power of the Tesserah,” the head answered.

“You can still talk.  Are you alive or something?”

“Trav Dalgoda’s life spark is still in here,” said the head, “preserved by the power of the crown.”

Dana’s heart turned over in her chest.  “You mean he could be brought back?”

“Yes.  We possess the power.”

The feelings that poured through her ample bosom were a terrible, painful mix.  She hated the stupidity of the man and all the death and suffering he had caused on Coventry.  She felt like the fool deserved what he had gotten out of the adventure.  Still, she loved him.  There was something oddly attractive about the goofy-sweet fool with the charm of a naughty little boy.

“How can I do this awful thing?” she asked the head.

“As long as we remain attached to the head,” said the crown, “we can speak to you and direct you, as well as keep the life spark alive.  We will help you to build an artificial body to allow the man to return to full mobility and control over his life functions.”

“He’ll be a Mechanoid?”

“Not in the sense of the crude beings your own people make of dead bodies.  He will actually be alive.  Everything but his head will be artificial, but we can make him better than he was.”

Dana couldn’t help but imagine Trav naked with the body of a Greek god.  He could be enhanced in that special area…  Well, yes.  She would do this for her Goofy man.

“How do I go about it?  Especially the penis…”

The crown gave her hours of instruction.  She took extensive notes, filling three note-computers.  She diagrammed the whole thing out holographically.  She then located the best materials available on the ruined warship.  Assembly took her a week while the rest of the surviving crew worked to restore the ship to flying trim without the specific parts she needed for her project.

When the task was done, Trav stood before her, looking at her with sensory enhancements in his goofy brown eyes.  She had replaced his Donald Duck hat with a more manly-looking cowboy hat.  He was buff and handsome in ways he hadn’t been before.

Dana Cole leaned over and kissed her resurrected fool.  “I love you, Trav.  Welcome back.”

“Thanks, old Dana Jester,” he said.  “Now how about we make me two more arms?  One will have a built-in machine gun, and the other a flame thrower.” Dana smiled.  She definitely had her Goofy back.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 113

Canto 113 – Prisoners on the Shadowcat

Ham sat at the pilot-seat controls aboard his safari ship, looking out the main portal into the cavernous docking bay of the Bregohelma.  It was depressing.  Trying to suicidally destroy his enemy, he had become a mere prisoner instead.

Admiral Tang didn’t see him as anything more than a flea that needed to be slapped.  He was glad he and his crew were not dead, but he was irked by the fact that he had been far less of a factor in the Battle of Coventry than had his friend the Goofer.  And worse, now Goofy and all those potential allies on Coventry were all dead too.  What step comes next?

There was activity in the docking bay.  Armed men in combat armor were filing in, keeping together in highly organized tactical formations.  Dang!  Imperial Marines!  There would probably be little hope of surviving this encounter.

“Boss!  Yo, Boss!”  Sinbadh came stumbling into the bridge of the ship with an armload of unattached plasma gun parts.  “We gots plenty o’ buccaneers ready to board us!”

“Yes, I know.  Stow the guns away.  We are gonna meekly surrender and hope they don’t kill us.”

“Blimey, Cap’n!  We surrender without a fight?”

“Yes, my friend.  The Madonna is pregnant.  Sahleck is a little boy.  Professor Marou is really, really old…”

“Not that old!” I said as I revealed myself from where I had secretly been watching Ham from behind the bulkhead.

“Hey, Professor, what were you doing hiding back there?” Ham asked.

“Well, I…”  I tried to think of a quick excuse.  It suddenly wasn’t necessary.

“Ham Aero!  Han Ferrari!  Come out!” came the strangely compelling voice.  We all felt a deep black fear swelling in our guts and pulling us painfully toward the voice like a nose ring attached to a chain being pulled by a steady, relentless strength.

“Good Lord!” swore Ham.  “It’s Admiral Tang, and he has us in his power.”

Ham was right.  It was Tang’s special Psion power.  He could manipulate us with our own fear.  He controlled us completely.

“Don’t shoot!  We’re coming out!”  I heard Duke Ferrari saying it from the exit ramp beneath us.  And there was no choice.  We filed out of the Shadowcat like puppets on strings.

Admiral Brona Tang was not only the scariest being I had ever met up to that point in my life, he was also the biggest.  He was easily six foot eleven, and encased from head to toe in powered battle armor.  The armor was even a bright red color, as if to emphasize the blood he had spilled and the blood he still intended to spill.  His face was a red mask with black eye portals, an alien, evil sort of face.  He also wore a hat on top of the helmet, a wide-brimmed red hat that looked vaguely like the kind of hat worn by Catholic friars in the long-ago Dark Ages, the fourteenth century.  In fact, as I thought of it, images of the Inquisition and power-mad Cardinals leapt to mind.

“Good.  You have decided to relent and surrender.”  The voice was electronically enhanced and almost sounded like three voices in one to me.

Ham, Duke Ferrari, and I stood in front, as if to shield the others.  Sinbadh stood behind with the poor Nebulon Madonna on one side, and the trembling Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim on the other side.  The wolfman put a hairy paw around the shoulders of each.

“Neither you nor your brother can escape me, Ham.  I have you in my possession, and one of my most trusted agents is by Ged’s side, reporting his every move.  Your brother is even now beginning the quest that will dispose of that Ancient device that proved to be such a thorn in my side here at the Battle of Coventry.”  Tang laughed.  “I couldn’t ask for a sweeter vengeance.”

“Who… who is the agent?” asked Ham, against the force of Tang’s terrible will.

            “Ah, no!  It’s not that easy!  How do I know you haven’t manifested some terrible Psion power too by now?  It runs in our families.  Mine comes from my father.  Your brother’s is from Mammy Aero, a powerful Psion as well known to my father as Ged.  My mind is shielded, and I will tell you nothing.”

“Aren’t villains always supposed to brag about their evil plots to take over the galaxy?” I asked sarcastically.

Tang laughed again.  “I know you too, Dr. Marou.  I learned of you from those accursed Time Knights.  You are the one person here that future history books guarantee had to survive this encounter.  The same is not true for the rest.  Most of you will live no longer than the coming battle against Tron Blastarr at Outpost.  Oops!  Did I give something away?  How about this; I am committing what remains of the entire Imperial Navy to that battle.  I am going to win it and put an end to any possible time line where your so-called good guys can win.  The Imperium has kept order for hundreds of years.  It will last for thousands more.”

Sinbadh winked his doggy eye at me.  “Clever how ye got him to spill the ol’ soliloquy there, Doc.” he whispered.  “Tip o’ me hat to ye.”

“What will you do with us, then?” asked Ham.

“You will sit right here in the docking bay, prisoners aboard your own ship.  I am told I cannot destroy you tonight.  It has to wait for the battle.  But if I can outthink and kill a Time Knight, I can kill you.”

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AeroQuest 4…

Canto 112 – The Megadeath’s New Super Powers

“Let me understand what you stupid… stupid people are saying!  You left the defenses of Outpost and Don’t Go Here to go galivanting all the way to Coventry?  And in only three days?”  King Killer had never shouted so loudly nor had a face so red as it was in that meeting.

“Dude!  It woulda been two days if we hadn’a parked invisioble to watch the battle.”  Nikki Sixx appeared shocked that Admiral Killer was so mad.

“Wha… ?” burbled Cold Death stupidly.

“Chill oh soon-to-explode-from-rage dude,” said Vince Niell from his safe place behind mirrored sunglasses.  “We followed the orders of the Hooey-dude, man.  We know how he worked for you in escaping the Imperium, bro.  We just assumed that you gave him the orders he gave us, dude.”

“Vince, grab some whiskey.  I need you skunk-levels of drunk so I can understand every word you are saying.”

Besides the Admiral and the crew of the Megadeath, Admiral Tron and his wife Maggie the Knife were also present.  Maggie, taking a cue from Admiral Killer went to the bar in the back of the conference room and grabbed two bottles of Mundoploovian Suicide Ale to help make Vince more understandable.

“And where was Captain Lee in all of this, Gentlemen?” asked Tron sounding dangerous.

“Oh, he weren’t with us,” said Nikki Sixx.  “He and Pamela left the ship to go be rock and roll stars to the stars!  Hooey said they was gonna be megastars!”

“So, he officially abandoned his command and went AWOL?”

“Um, yep, thass about the size of it, boss,” said Nikki.  Cold Death nodded stupidly but vigorously to back him up on that.

Maggie put the Suicide Ale down in front of Vince.  Then she stuck her shiny knife in the table for emphasis.  This particular table had numerous decorations from years’ worth of Maggie’s pointed emphasis.

Vince drank quickly and narrowly avoided vomiting out his liver.  He became instantly drunk.

“So, tell me this, Vince, dude…  How the hell did you make a round trip to Coventry and back in only three days?” King Killer asked.

“Your friend the time knight brought his little time machine booth device on our ship, interfacing his chrono-circuits with the Megadeath’s Ancient computer brain.  It reduced a three week trip to two days via a built in time-accelerator that we knew nothing about until the good Doctor Hooey showed us it’s enhanced space-travel ability.”

“And do you think these other Ancient-built space ships are capable of doing the same thing?”

“I am unsure of the probability… but I believe I can find the device in the other ships if they are indeed present.”

“Okay, Vince,” said Tron, “what was this other nonsense about watching the battle invisioble?”

“Well, of course, the mispronounced word was intended to represent invisibility.  The Megadeath, it seems, has a most efficacious ability to go into stealth mode.  We delivered the good Doctor Hooey into the Bregohelma with his timeship.  And then, per his specific instructions, we became mere observers of the gnarly… err…” Vince had to take another swallow of Suicide Ale.  “… most great and glorious battle ever seen since Ancient times ended.”

“Okay, tell us what happened,” demanded Admiral Killer.

“Well, sirs, if it please you, the ship we rendezvoused with was the stolen Apatosaurus Battleship.”

“Did you attack on sight?”

“Of course not, sirs.  Our orders were to deliver the good Doctor Hooey to the battleship.  He was supposed to meet up with the Lizard Lady there and help her destroy the Bregohelma.”

Everybody gasped at the name of Admiral Tang’s flagship, including Cold Death who had forgotten he knew all of this particular battle story already.

“How were they going to do that with one battleship against Tang’s whole fleet?”

“They were trying to convince the Imperials that they were going to turn over the stolen Ancient tech, since Lizard Lady portrayed herself falsely as an Imperial spy.  And when the two ships docked, the Apatosaurus Battleship would blow up and take out the Bregohelma along with it.”

“Did the plan work?”  Maggie asked, obviously hoping that it would in spite of having been told the final outcome already.

“Naturally, it did not.  But this must’ve been a part of the plan all along, because we were asked to remain invisibly as observers to the battle that followed.”

“That’s when you saw Ham’s safari ship and the First Half-Century?” asked Tron.

“Of course, sir.  They flew in bravely to take on Tang’s entire fleet.”

“And what happened after that?”

“Well, it was obvious that the First Half-Century was also equipped with some kind of Ancient weapon system of immense power.  The thing went off and destroyed all of the Imperial ships but one, the Bregohelma.  But Tang’s ship, as well as the two attacking ships were all rendered powerless and completely damaged when something caused the Ancient weapon to target the planet and blast away about a billion people in the planet’s largest three cities.  It was a horrible tragedy.  And the three starships were dead in space for a while.”

“Why didn’t you step in at that point and finish off the Bregohelma?”

“We couldn’t.  Dr. Hooey told us not to interfere with the battle or we could alter time-lines and keep our side from winning the upcoming Battle of Outpost.

“Bummer!” said Maggie.

“Naw!  Itsa good thing, Mama,” said Cold Death, risking Maggie’s notorious wrath.  “Itsa meanin’ we is gonna win dat battle what ain’t happenna yet.”

“Can you give that man a Suicide Ale too please?” asked Tron.

“To make him talk better?”

“No.  To kill him if possible.”

“Continue, please, Vince.  What happened to Ham Aero and the other ship?”

“Admiral Tang’s ship moved first.  They completely loaded the little safari ship on board their ship and took off at a slow crawl.  The First Half Century hadn’t gotten more than life support working when we had to leave to bring this report to you.”

“I wish you would’ve at least rescued Ham and the Duke,” said Admiral Killer.

“Doctor Hooey specifically told us not to.”

“Oh.  Did Hooey survive the explosion, do you know?”

“No.  As far as we know, both he and Lizard Lady are now dead.”

“I really don’t know if that’s good news or bad news,” said Admiral Tron.  “It is good that such a large part of the Imperial Navy was destroyed.  But we may have lost the heart of the rebellion.  And what are we gonna tell Ged Aero?”

“The truth, I would surmise,” said Vince Niell, shortly before passing out dead drunk.  Cold Death finished his ale.  Sat down next to Niell.  And passed out too… where he began snoring loudly, thus proving that he was not, unfortunately, dead.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 111

Canto 111 – Evil Coffee Makers Boil

The Leaping Shadowcat and The First Half-Century both came out of jump space together into the system of 1232 Ardonnis, the home system of the high-population world called Coventry.  Immediately, the situation became the silent-operatic equivalent of Beethoven’s Knock of Doom in the Ninth Symphony.  Daaat Daaat Daaat Dooooh!   Three hundred of the Imperium’s newest space ships, ships of the line, tenders, and support ships were all arrayed against the two ships of Ham and Ferrari’s tiny rebel fleet.

Ham leaned on the pilot’s control panel and let his jaw drop as he gazed out the Shadowcat’s viewport at them.

“I see the Bregohelma!” he cried.  “Admiral Tang is out there himself!”

“We are so dead!” moaned Duke Han Ferrari.  The Duke twisted the right end of his handlebar moustache nervously.  “I will surrender myself to them, and maybe they will spare you and the crew of the Shadowcat.”

“Give me some credit, Duke,” said Ham sullenly.  “I may not be the famous space hunter, Ged Aero, but I can be a hero too.  I will NOT desert my friends.”

“Hey, Ham-boy, old Jester!”  The call came from the command deck of the fighting space frigate, The First Half Century.  “Do you see what I see out there?”

“Yes, Goofy, I’m afraid I do.”

“Wow! Old Jester, I mean literally WOW!  We can win glory in battle like this against impossible odds!”

“Goofy, we are going to die!  Don’t get all hammy over it!  We have to make them pay for it the best we know how.”

“Oh, you got it, Ham-ster!  I am putting the Crown of all Stars on my head right now.  I can use the powers of the Ancients to defeat this bozo!” 

Ham slapped his right hand over his forehead in total frustration.  There was a good reason that Mammy Aero had once banned little Ham and little Ged from playing with the demented little goofy child.  That boy just wasn’t entirely right in the head.

“Belay that!  You don’t need to melt your brain to die in this battle.  You need to fight the way they taught you back at the Space Academy.  We need to go down with honor.”

The video communicator snapped on and showed a smiling one-eyed Goofy with the three-orbed alien thing pulsing yellow, orange, and lime-green lights all over the bridge of the military ship.  Goofy’s crew were resolutely manning battle stations in the background.  Ham could also see the unearthly Tesserah thing pulsing and glowing with menace behind the Goof.

“What’s that Tesserah thing doing?” I asked the view screen, feeling I had to insert myself into the dire problem to find some sort of sensible solution.

“That, old Scientist-Jester, is an Ancient weapon now fully primed and ready to be used against the enemies!”

I have to tell you, I was more than a little alarmed as a scientist and scholar.  This situation seemed sure to end only one way.  We would be atomized by space-born weapons systems or torn atom from atom by Ancient alien energies.  Even I didn’t see a way out.

“I order you to stop what you are doing right now!” said Duke Ferrari, trying to take command of the situation.

“No, your Duke-ness.  I can do this!  Watch!”

Goofy Dalgoda made a face like he was having a painful bowel movement, and then the space between the Tesserah and the Imperial Fleet was suddenly ablaze with alien energy, like a strange ochre lightning in the vacuum of space.

Fifteen Imperial ships disintegrated before our disbelieving eyes.

“Wow!” I said, being the first one able to speak. “Mr. Dalgoda?  Are you actually able to direct that power?”

“Yessir, old Mr. Science Dude!  I can drop that beam on the head of a pin.”

Ham was suddenly smiling again.  He was a very handsome man when he smiled.  “Let them have it, then, Goof!  Give ‘em all you’ve got!”

The Goofy One did not have to be told twice.  Blasts arced out into space on all sides of his ship.  For three hundred and sixty degrees all around, the small capital ship laid waste to larger and more powerful space behemoths.  The Wargod Class Dreadnaught called The Benjamin Franklin, ruptured like a dried gourd and spilled its disintegrating seed into surrounding space.  The Nimitz Class Fleet Carrier, the Colonel Green, launched a thousand fighters as it rolled over in space and dissolved.  One by one all of the fighters winked out of existence too.  It was like watching silent fireworks.  It was all I could do not to shout “Ooh!” and “Ahh!”  There was a terrifying beauty in so much fire and death.

“Goof?” asked Ham anxiously, “Can you target the Bregohelma?

“Oh, Ham-boy!  We have to make the old red bird see all of this destruction first!”

A huge blue bolt of energy surged out of the Tesserah and painted a wide swath over the most populous of the cities below on the planet.  Everyone was suddenly sick to their stomach as almost a billion innocent beings on the planet below were consumed by alien energy.

“Trav!  What have you done?” cried Ham.

“I did just what the crown said I should.  I used my mental connection with the Tesserah to start cleansing the planet below us.”

“Trav!” wept Ham.  “They were on our side!”

As Ham pleaded, I suddenly saw Commander Dana Cole on the view screen.  She had a laser weapon in her hand.  “Forgive me, Ham!” cried Dana Cole as she cut off one of Trav’s arms with the laser.  “He’s possessed by that alien thing!  I have to stop him.”

Trav Dalgoda was still laughing as he used his remaining arm to gesture and make a smaller blue splash of energy launch toward the planet.

“Forgive me, Trav.  I do love you,” said Dana as she sawed off his other arm.  Trav was still smiling as he tried to gesture with a foot.  She cut the leg off too.  Then the other leg.  Finally, with a destroyed look of regret on her face, she cut off Goofy’s head.  The crown grew dark and the Tesserah grew silent.

All of us aboard the Shadowcat were still stunned.  Trav had nearly saved us from catastrophe.  Then he made everything a billion times worse.

“We can still win,” growled Ham resolutely.  “I can crash the Shadowcat into the bridge of the Bregohelma and destroy Admiral Tang.”

Trav’s former command, the frigate, was battling the last remaining ship of the line, and apparently winning.  We actually could rule the day if we made the ultimate sacrifice Ham was suggesting.  All on the bridge of the little safari ship looked each other in the eye and nodded yes to it.  Ham fixed the navigational controls on the target, dead center on the bridge of the Admiral’s Flagship.  Full throttle we began to plunge toward her.

In my mind, the symphony had reached a crescendo, cymbals clashing, drums rumbling, and violins soaring.  I was prepared to die in that instant, as we all were.

Sinbadh, the Lupin space cook, stuck his head in the doorway to the bridge.

“Ham,” he said, “ye has made me poop meself!”

Ham laughed bitterly.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 110

Canto 110 – Ship to Ship 

It was the commander on the bridge of the Bregohelma who first spotted it as it came out of jump space.

“What the hell is that?” he complained in a nasally voice while looking out of a face that was not the face of a weasel, but that only obvious because DNA scans had proved he was human and he didn’t have a tail.  He looked around the bridge for someone to give him an answer to his question.  But almost everyone on bridge duty at that moment was an undead rot-warrior, a skeletal dead body reanimated with electronics and controlled by a computerized brain.  And all of them, at that moment were still trying to compute how to get the answer out of “Hell” since that was where the commander had requested it from.

“That looks like a… dinosaur,” said Wormheart Toadsucker, who was only slightly less dead-looking and probably less intelligent than the rot warriors.  “You know, like the ones on the planet Dionysus.”

“It can’t be one of those.  It’s in space.  It just appeared in far orbit around the planet.”

“You should have one of the smart ones scan it,” said Wormheart.  “I need to go alert Admiral Tang.

“Okay, which of these mud-brains is a smart one?”   The commander looked at every vacant-eyed face on the bridge and then started scanning himself.   Amazing things began popping up on the scanner-screen report.

The red-armored admiral appeared on the bridge moments later with the boot-licker Wormheart groveling along behind him.

“So, what does it appear to be?” asked the admiral in his ultra-creepy modulated voice.

“Well, it’s a kind of starship like I have never seen before.  The scanner computer can’t completely identify it.  It seems to be some sort of alien artifact from the time of the Ancients.”

“Ah, that might explain the weird dinosaur shape.  The Ancients were of so much higher a tech level than we are now that many of their relics seem totally inexplicable to us.”

“Yes, but this one has a primarily human crew.  They are not even mostly Galtorrian/human fusions like you might expect.  Just plain Earther types.”

“And it is coming towards us under power.”

“Yes, Admiral.”

“Are the shields up?”

“Um… they are now.”  The commander quickly corrected his oversight.

“Find out what they want.”

As soon as the admiral commanded it, a visual appeared on the commo-screen.  The Lizard Lady herself appeared in the middle of a bridge full of oddly-dressed human crewmen.

“Are you not an Imperial spy, Captain?”  Admiral Tang asked, lowering his voice to basement levels of creepiness.

“I am.  And I have stolen a flagship of the new fleet you will face if you try to invade the Outpost system of Tron Blastarr.”

“That is remarkable good work, um… what is your name?”

“I am an original Galtorrian, simply called Lizard Lady.”

“You will be remembered as a hero to the Imperium, Lizard Lady.”

“Ah, but the mission is not yet fully complete.  We need to pull up to your ship and dock.  This is Ancient technology, and we will need your brilliance to fully control it.”

“Very well… we should be able to…”

Suddenly another sleek spaceship of Ancient designed popped out of jump space directly beside the dinosaur-shaped ship.  After a few moments in which no one had time to do another scan, the new, sleek ship disappeared once again.

“We are moving in to dock with you now, Admiral,” said the Lizard Lady as she gave orders quietly to her pilots and then swiftly left the bridge before Tang could ask her anything.

The dinosaur ship lurched forward and was approaching at an impossible docking speed.

“Shields on maximum!  Back away from them fast,” ordered Tang, obviously sensing a trick.  “Fire everything at that ship now!”

Lasers, plasma cannons, nuclear missiles, and Gauss cannons all fired at the incoming ship.  It did not fire back.  Instead it ignited and blew up in what would have been a spectacular fireball if it had blown up in an oxygen or hydrogen-rich atmosphere.  The shock-wave nearly obliterated the Bregohelma as it was, but apparently it was too far distant for the resolution of the mission that the Lizard Lady had planned.

                                    *****

Dr. Hooey’s time ship, the Star Wars, materialized in the Bregohelma’s cargo bay.

The door of the phone-booth-like thing opened and the Lizard Lady stepped out to confirm her present location.

“Is it the proper cargo bay?” asked Dr. Hooey from inside the time ship.

“It is,” she answered.  “Now that we are in the proper place, we only need to move to the proper time.

“Very well.  The time according to which of the prophecies?”

“Yes, according to all of them.” She stepped back into the time ship.  It made its normal grinding sound, and promptly disappeared into the near future.

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AeroQuest 4… Scherzo 11

Scherzo 11 – Breaking News with Fiona

I found this report in the Don’t Go Here Dino-News and decided, since I am more than a little bit lazy, I would quote it wholly to take the place of this part of the history you are now reading.

  • Googal Marrou
Your beloved reporter; Fiona Arbuckle

Fionna Arbuckle here, your favorite cub reporter with all the gossip that anybody who is remotely anybody listens to and commits to heart to be able to repeat word for word to everybody in the town square of beautiful Bedrock City, for Dino-News’s gossip pages.

The breaking news this reporter was turned on to by the stealthy revelations of moderately leaky New Star League Fleet security personnel, has to do with a certain handsome new Grand Admiral and his Second-in-Command, inexplicably named after a two-winged insect and a color known in the Classical Worlds as “noire,” who were seen together in the lifeboat after having escaped a kidnapping of their new fleet flagship and accidentally turning broadcast cameras on with a stray limb in such a state of intimate compromise that they are now needing to get married at the point of a shotgun…

And yes, I do actually need to take a breath after a run-on sentence delivered at a high rate of speed in order to deliver every bit of juicy information possible in the time available due to the short attention spans of our supposed cave-man audience-members… whooo…

And here comes the couple now.  We shall see if we can get a word with them.

“Grand Admiral Cloudstalker, is it true that you and Commander Black Fly are seriously on the brink of tying a knot that you may or may not regret for the rest of your natural life?”

“Um… no.  No, it is not true that members of the radical White Spider Cult are at this moment taking our captured flagship full of traitors straight to Admiral Tang.”

“Wait, there’s a White Spider Cult?  A cult that lives by the credo set forth in the Prophecy of Shan?”

“What…?  No…. I mean, yes, that cult…. But not the ones who actually follow the teachings of the interstellar White Spider Ged Aero.  Rather, a splinter group following the so-called Bishop of the White Spider and her insane interpretation of the Prophecy of …?  What was it again, honey?”

“I think it was the Prophecy of Xan.  But it is possible that all of the versions of the Prophecy speak of the betrayal from the acolytes of the Grand One.”

“The Grand One?  Does that refer to… me? The Grand Admiral?”

“Possibly…”

“Anyway… we will not be deterred from our intentions to repel invaders when they come to attack the worlds of the New Star League.  And we will get the flagship back before the battle takes place, I promise you that.”

“Actually, the Admiral doesn’t promise that.  He will not be able to retrieve that ship at all, in all likelihood.”

“Oh, you have just heard from cute little munchkin Commander ADaB from Djinnistan.  He and Commander PiP in all probability will also be getting married in a shotgun wedding arrangement judging by the accidentally switched-on cameras in their escape pod.”

“We will not, Miss Arbuckle.  I have seven wives already to think about.  We will just be having a torrid love affair.  And we are called Peris… definitely NOT munchkins!”

“Admiral?  You never actually answered that question when it was put to you and Commander Black Fly.  Can you tell us now?”

“Fionna, I wish you were better at hearing what is not being said and figuring out why.  Yes, we will be getting married.  You specifically are being invited.  And if wedding ceremonies on Black Fly’s planet include ritual human sacrifice, that honor will be entirely yours.”

“Oh, why thank you for that, Admiral.  I only hope it is not a bloody sort of ritual.  I cannot stomach the sight of blood.”

“He was joking, my dear Fiona.”

“Thank goodness… erm, I mean thank you for sharing, Miss Fly.  And um… was it the wedding part that was the joke?”

“No, we are definitely getting married.  We talked about it on the way back to base.”

“You heard it here first, folks.  There is going to be a Grand Admiral’s wedding between the planet Don’t Go Here’s most notable power couple.  And you heard it from cub reporter Fiona Arbuckle, representing the Don’t Go Here Dino-News.”

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AeroQuest 4… Nocturne 9

Nocturne 9 – It’s Sighing Time Again

Ham had a bit of time in jump space to relax and worry about nothing.  Worm holes are strange and mysterious things to travel through.  Because of the fickle nature of relativity, traveling one parsec of space took about the same amount of time as traveling six parsecs of space.  Jump space, because it was outside the physical boundaries of normal space, was riddled with quantum unpredictability and constants such as the speed of light.  It meant that you had to traverse both time and space.  So, it would be at least a week before he and the crew of the Leaping Shadowcat had to deal with the terrors and the politics that awaited them on the planet Coventry.

The Madonna had made their mutual cabin aboard the Leaping Shadowcat starship into a very comfortable and homey place.  She decorated it in that strange, amorphous way that Nebulons have of making everything look like the inside of an egg, all organic and squishy-like.  The foam furniture she had made with the material synthesizer was all blobby, colorful, and very soft to the touch.  Jarring to the eye at first, Ham had come to find it quite restful and lovely.

“How are you feeling today, Honey?” Ham said to the bustling little blue woman.

“You is no help, Hamfast.  You going nowhere and laying on my home, making me perfect witch in making of home.”

“Love, I have no idea what you just said, but why are you so angry?”  Ham tried to make sympathetic eyes towards his small, blue wife.

“You is no knowing!  You is big, stupid-fat with no good in your bottoms.”

Ham was mystified.  She had always been so affectionate and loving.  Why was she now in such a rage?

He wondered how he might help her.  He pushed the button on the shipboard intercom.  “Sahleck?  I think I might need your help with a little cleaning in our cabin.”

“Sure, boss,” came the reply in a child-like voice.

Sure, he had solved the problem and made it up to the little blue woman, Ham turned back to her with a silly grin.  “Are you okay now?”

“Not okay!  Hokey smoke!  You is big, big dumbhead!”

Again, Ham was confused and flustered.  His little blue wife was blowing steam out of her nostrils for no apparent reason.  She rearranged mushroom-shaped divans with all the elegance of a raging wolverine in a henhouse.  Small bits of fluff and foam flew everywhere.

“Is it something I did?”

“You no is talking to me.  I still love you, but not kissing you am I ever again!”

“Why?  What is the matter?”

“Oh!  Grrr I says!”  A large green foam cushion came flying at Ham’s head.  It bounced off of him with enough force to drive him to his knees.  “Dumb!  Dumb dumb dumb, I say!”

A large sofa-sized foam pillow whirled over Ham’s head and smashed into the young Lupin boy, Sahleck Kim, as he tried to enter the cabin with an armload of vacuum cleaner attachments and dust bins.  It sent the boy flying backwards into the hall, banging his head against the bulkhead.

“Sahleck!”  Ham leaped to the rescue.  He had come to be quite fond of the puppy-like boy.  Fonder even than he was of the more adult-like Sinbadh.  He reached the crumpled child in a flash, and tenderly picked him up from the hall floor.  “Oh, Sahleck, I am so sorry!”

Sahleck’s furry head was bleeding just a touch, but the boy quickly came back to his senses.  “What did I do?” he asked, seeming slightly stricken.

Ham looked at the Madonna, standing in the middle of the cabin with a horrified look on her blue face.  She began to weep.

“Everything is fine, boy,” Ham said.  “You are all right and no one is mad at you.  It was an accident.”

The Madonna looked at Ham and the dog-boy with stricken eyes.  “You are good father-man, no?” she asked the air in general.

“I don’t know,” said Ham.  “Why?”

“You are going to need be one,” she said.  “You will be a daddy soon.  You and me, we will have a three.”

A child?  Ham couldn’t believe it.  He was both shocked and filled with joy.  How could this have happened?  No, he knew how.  It was wonderful.  In all his days of traveling and hunting through the stars, he never dreamed that one day he would find both happiness and a family.

 “Madonna, my love, I love you!”

The blue-skinned beauty stared at him.  It was obvious that if a Nebulon could blush, she would be glowing red.

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AeroQuest 4… Canto 109

Canto 109 – Whoa, Gnarly, Dude!

The crew of the Megadeth were busy playing beer pong in the main lounge of the starship when suddenly Dr. Hooey, Time Knight and man of mystery, mysteriously showed up at the door to the lounge.

“Oh, hey, Big-nosed Dude!  Nice to see ya an’ all, but you ain’t supposed to be here.  Not without the Megadeth tellin’ us that ya entered the ship!” said Nikki Sixx with a rather non-sober glint in his eyes.

“I am not going to argue with anyone here.  I know this timeline like the back of my hand.  You are going to agree to take me to the Battle of Coventry.  It is necessary that you do this.  And the book in the archives says that you have done it every time you were asked in every reality.  I realize that I am not Shan Sasaki and this is the first reality that you have been asked by me for this favor.  Still…”

 “Wha…?” said Cold Death, shaking his green mohawk both stupidly and drunkenly in the same shake.

“What my esteemed colleague is trying to say is that we not only don’t know who you are, but we do not have any sort of authorization from any of our superior officers for the sort of transportation mission you are presently seeking.”

“Ah, yes.  You are the one who speaks more coherently when you are drunk.  You are the one named Vince Niell.  You are the one I need to be talking to.”

“Whoa, gnarly dude!” said Nikki Sixx.  “You can acktually unnerstan’ him when he’s drunk?”

“Actually, Mr. Time Knight, sir, I spell my name Vince Neill when I am drunk.”

“Oh?  And why is that?”

“The only reason I spell it wrong to begin with is because some kid playing a role-playing game with the writer of this story named me with the wrong spelling long ago.”

“Yes, and the writer left it spelled wrong as a joke.  I know all of that.  But that’s why you have to do this.  The writer needs a Deux ex Machina solution to an upcoming problem that he can’t figure out another way to solve.”

“Wha…?” commented Cold Death stupidly as his ping pong ball missed all the cups and he was forced to drink five cups of Antarian Ale all at once.

“You know, you are playing beer pong all wrong,” Hooey said.

“Yeah… but we like it bedder dis way,” said Nikki.  “But what the Cold Man wansta say is, whatta hell is Dooz-x-Mockeena?”

“It means God in the Box, my inebriated minion.   The author can’t think of any way to solve a problem but to pull an answer out of his anal sphincter.”

“Whoa, gnarly, Dude!”

“Yes, you said that already,” reminded Hooey, concerned about too much repetition of dialogue in an already tepid tale.  “So, you’ll do this for me, Vince?”

“Yes.  On the basis of that rationale.  But Captain Tommy Lee and Ensign Pamela are both on the planet giving a concert tonight.”

“That’s fine.  I have it on the authority of the Library of All Time that tonight is the real start of their fame and singing career.  We don’t need them.”

“Okay then.  I am inappropriately, and without following proper protocol, going to agree to your commands.  But only because I am totally, stupidly drunk at the moment due to our horrible misinterpretation of the standard rules of beer pong.”

“That works for me.”

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AeroQuest 4… Nocturne 8

Nocturne 8 – In Space, in an Egg…

The two escape pods pushed out of the back end of the Apatosaurus-shaped command starship both looked like extremely large dinosaur eggs.  Two command-level officers were being marooned in space in each pod.  Fortunately for those inside the space-dino eggs, Admiral Cloudstalker and Captain Black Fly in one, ADaB and PiP, the two Djinnistani Peris, in the other, they were still on the edge of the Don’t Go Here star system.  They could communicate with Aerobase Frieda and be rescued within a couple of hours at sub-light speeds.

“Well, I guess I really blew that one,” Arkin Cloudstalker said, referring to the theft of their command vessel while they were making their initial inspection tour.

“You really can’t blame yourself for this one, sir,” Black Fly said sympathetically.

“What do you mean?  Certainly, I can blame myself if I want to.  It’s what good leaders do… take responsibility for failures, I mean.”

“You didn’t fail.  You were taken prisoner in a very well-planned shipboard insurrection carried out by a group of religious fanatics, the very existence of which no one could’ve even predicted, much less defeated.”

“We were aware such a cult existed, weren’t we?”

“No.  We were not.  You can take my word for it as a top agent of the White Duke’s special intelligence forces.  We knew there were scholars and zealots who followed the prophecies religiously, but no one knew they had leadership with Imperial Intelligence training and a gift for military plans just like the one we fell victim to.  If you have to blame someone, blame me.  I’m the one with the intelligence responsibilities and long years of training.”

“Well, I certainly don’t blame you.  Tell me, since Black Fly is some kinda code name, do you even have a real name?”

 “My name is legally now “the Black Fly,” my mother once called me Amanda… and you can too, if you like.”

Arkin nodded.  He would certainly remember that name.  He knew that he preferred it to her real name.

“Maybe we should put in a call to ADaB and PiP.  They may have called Frieda already.  I’m sure help is probably on the way.”

“It’s part of the genius of Lizard Lady’s plan that she kidnapped us, and waited until we were at the edge of the heliosphere before she set us adrift in space.”

“How so?”

“She knew that no one could blast her out of orbit with you still on board.  You’re the Grand Admiral, after all.”

“Well, that’s something I will have a hard time living down with Tron Blastarr.  I lost his brand-new starship design the very first time I was acting as the Grand Admiral.”     

“He shouldn’t be that hard to handle.  You’re his boss now, you know,” she answered.

“Yes, that’s true, isn’t it?”

Arkin reached over to the comm unit on the inside wall of the space egg.  He punched in the code for the other egg.

“Um, Admiral… ah… um, ah, AH, AAAHHH!” said ADaB’s voice, cryptically.

“What’s happening, ADaB?  Are you being murdered?”

“Um, ah… no, Admiral.  It’s PiP.  She says we have a couple of hours to kill.  And, well…  She’s very much a female you know.”

“Yes, I know.”

“And the average female Peri is taught many years’ worth of love-making skills on Djinnistan.  And she’s… she’s… very GOOoooOOOoodddD!  Um, gotta go now, boss…”

“Hmm.  And here I thought the two of them didn’t really like each other very much.”

When Arkin looked at Black Fly Amanda, though, he noticed the evil sparkle in her eyes and the smirk on her face.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Arkin asked.

“Well, those two little imps put some ideas in my head.  And, anyway, you had to have noticed where it was always going to end up between the two of us.  Am I right?”

Arkin Cloudstalker blushed furiously.  He was a Space Knight, a hero in a white cowboy hat.  He had worked with Lady Knights for years, and never once…

And then beautiful Amanda kissed him. He reached up and switched off the lights.

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