Tag Archives: Aeroquest

Sci-Fi Plans

This is a possible cover for AeroQuest 3.

I have now re-written about sixty percent of the old novel AeroQuest. I published AeroQuest 1 : Stars and Stones in September. AeroQuest 2 : Planet of the White Spider was published yesterday in October. AeroQuest 3 : Juggling Planets will probably take longer than either of the other two. The story has to be elongated. The growing rebellion of the pirates and smugglers trying to establish the New Star League need time to grow their rebellion. In the previous edition of this book the flower blossoms almost before the shoots are out of the ground. I need to develop the rebellion with more planets and systems with reasons why they want to leave the icky old emperor and establish a space-born democracy. And this novel series isn’t merely a parody of Star Wars or an imitation of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It is also its own version of a space opera with unique characters and plot-lines that are entirely Mickian in their non-sensibility.

Ged Aero, the main character and most important protagonist, is revealed in AeroQuest 2 to be the new White Spider, a prophet-like teacher fulfilling a century-old prophecy by leading twelve young disciples into the state of near-perfection of their psionic mind powers. Adventures where these twelve student-disciples learn stuff they need to know need to be added to the original story.

Each of the first two re-written books is about 35,000 words. The original novel is about 120,000 words. I will need to add a lot more than just the re-write of 50,000 more words. And I want to keep the books approximately equal, so I will be aiming to increase the total to at least 140,000 words by writing two more 35,000-word stories. And it may be enough more than that to fill five total books.

If my run-away cancerous imagination is not reigned in, I have at least three more book-length story-tumors to add in beyond that.

So, I have enough to do. My Tuesday blog plan will still be going for a while.

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Transition Time

I have reached the point that I have to change the novel I am showing you on Tuesdays. When the Captain Came Calling is in the final proof-reading stage where I am almost ready to publish.

Now, I need a replacement.

I have decided to use the wreckage of my out-of-print disaster of a novel, Aeroquest as the new Work in Progress.

So, here is a look at the initial cover art mock-up for the re-vamped Aeroquest1.

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Aeroquest… Canto 42

Canto 42 – The Dancing Doll

     After three days of Ged’s attempts at teaching, Shu Kwai was still kneeling stark naked in the practice grounds.  He refused to accept any clothing he felt he had not earned. Ged quietly shook his head in despair. Junior Aero and Sarah Smith each had a linen robe with the White Spider symbol stitched into it.  They also had tabai boots for their feet, cloth footwear with the big toe tied off for climbing and sure footholds.  The two of them worked together with their telepathy to absorb the thoughts of their sensei.  Shu Kwai would only stubbornly continue to struggle.

     “What is it about the inner eye that you can’t get, Shu-sama?” Ged asked.

     “I apologize, Aero-sensei, I do not see the pictures in my mind that you suggest.  What do they look like to you?”

     “I suppose the problem is that all Psions do not use the same inner eye to focus their power.”

     “How do you mean, honored one?”

     “I mean, I see molecules.  I can read DNA strings with my inner eye.  If I have eaten the meat, I can call up the proper shapes and spirals to make the creature. I can focus my power and shift my own DNA molecules in every cell of my body.  I don’t know how I know this, or can do this, but the power wells up in me like a cup that fills itself.”

     Shu Kwai’s face showed stern concentration.  As the boy knelt there, quivering in the cool breeze, he continued trying with all his youthful might.

     “Please, Master Ged, let me help,” said Sara, large eyes pooling with liquid sympathy for Shu’s dilemma.

     “All right,please, Sara-san.”

     “Shu-bozu, it is true that we all see the inner eye in different ways.  Mine is like Ged-sensei’s vision.  I can see molecules and DNA.  I can rearrange the flow of power in the minds of others to effect healing.  I have seen into Junior’s mind as well.  His is different.  He sees circuits and electrical links.  He can trace the patterns in a human mind as I can, or in a computer mind, as I cannot.”

     “So, what does my mind, my eye, look like?” asked Shu Kwai, looking with puzzled eyes into Sara’s face.

     “Can I take a look?”

     Sara reached over to Shu with a tender hand and touched his temple.  Shu cracked a smile as her beautiful essence flooded into his head.

     “Your inner eye sees motion.  Flickering motions.  Energy paths of movement.”

     Shu nodded with his eyes closed.  “I see it.  It is just like chi.”

     “Spirit force, yes,” said Ged, finally realizing where he had gone wrong.  “Girl! Come here!”  He motioned to a girl attendant who waited beside the practice field for just such an order.  “Girl, we need a loose-jointed doll or a puppet.  Can you fetch one for me?”

     “Yes, Ged Aero-dono!” she said in breathless awe.

     In minutes the girl had returned with a small wooden marionette from the Akito House, smiling and well-pleased that she had been honored to do this service for the White Spider’s special school.  Ged took the doll and gratefully patted her powdered cheek.

     “Picture this doll in your mind’s eye, Shu Kwai.”  Ged sat the doll on the grass.  “Picture it rising to its feet.  Make it do something.”

     As Shu Kwai concentrated, the doll stood up and bowed to Master Ged.  Then it slowly began an undulating dance.  The dance got wilder and happier as Shu Kwai began to feel his success. Finally, it ended with a flourish and a bow.

     “Clever boy!” said Ged, feeling warm inside for the first time all day.  “Let me give you a robe!”

     “No, Sensei.  I made only a first step.  Give me a loin cover only.  I must work harder still.”

     “As your teacher, I say you accomplished at least two steps today.  You learned to focus the inner eye, and you learned not only from me but from your classmate Sara.  That is worth a robe, surely.”

     “You are anxious to cover me in cloth, Sensei.  If I may choose, I would rather have the tabai boots like Sara and Junior.”

     “Very well,” said Ged with a smile.  “You are determined to remain a naked barbarian.  But I respect you very much as a student, Shu Kwai.  Your victories make me proud.”

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Aeroquest… Adagio 9

Adagio 9 – The Planet Dancer

    I can give you rather accurate and unique insights into the planet called Dancer.  I was a resident there for nearly twenty years, working first for the Pirate King, Cat Five, then for the maniacal Mechanoid, Khoolbas DiQuiri, and finally for his usurper, the Pirate King Razor Conn.

     When the great explorer Martin Faulkner first surveyed the Beta-Regulan Star System, the system where Dancer was the only livable planet, he wrote it off as a place useful solely for refuel and resupply stops. The planet had a breathable atmosphere, but no land masses at all.  Everything was salt water.  It rarely ever rained there or had clouds in the sky.  It was a lonely little water-ball. 

     It was part of the genius of Cat Five that he chose Dancer as the planet for his throne world.  No other pirate king ever chose an Imperial Rimworld without any land surfaces as his home base.  It proved to be a wonderful spot for ambushes as the system increasingly became a necessary stop for the Rimworld Merchant Fleet, Orchides’ Delivery, and GTS(Grand Transport Systems).  Cat Five got obscenely wealthy off a mere five percent of the space trade.  He designed the underwater city of Castle Orpheum and supervised its construction himself.  Soon the master smuggler known as the Thin White Duke, Sir Carleton Keyser, moved in and made the world a key link in the “package industry”, what you and I, being less criminal in nature, would call smuggling.

     As with any profitable venture, there would be those who would lust for control of it.  The obese Mechanoid known as Khoolbas DiQuiri was Cat Five’s second in command. That motorized fat-thing was my boss during the worst years of my life.  He was crafty, conniving, and he smelled terrible. He had been a blobby man in life, but as a Mechanoid, he was a transistorized stack of cyborg Jell-O.  When Cat Five met an untimely end at the hands of the Monopoly Brigade, Khoolbas took over as regent.  Cat Five’s son, Cat Six was only seven years old at the time.  Khoolbas secretly connected himself into the city’s power and environmental systems, as well as the main computer.  He secretly administered youth drugs to Cat Six, effectively trapping him in childhood forever.  He even tried to take over the package industry from the White Duke. The fat one built an indestructible power base for himself.

     I was serving as a computer technician and research physicist to Duke Keyser, the White Duke, when Razor Conn first showed up.  He was a swaggering swashbuckler with a cowboy hat and a knack for winning the fights he picked.  He was the one who revealed all of the plots Khoolbas was running on Dancer. With the Blackstone brothers as his allies, he made the people, especially the pirates, see that Khoolbas was cheating and using them.  He found enough gifted malcontents among the spacers to form his own strike team which he named the Blackhawk Corsairs after his favorite interstellar hockey team. The Blackhawks overran Castle Orpheum and took Khoolbas prisoner all in one swift battle action.  He ended up ruling the place, though he showed mercy to Khoolbas DiQuiri and a great deal of administrative wisdom in setting up his democratic government of the world.

     The Thirties Gangster Culture that predominates the world of Dancer is mostly a matter of tough-guy posturing and the obsessive-compulsive design tastes of some of the powerful residents, but, corny as it all is, it works.  It is a stimulating and imaginative place to live.  A water-world pirate kingdom where space pirates could happily live with the fishes.

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Aeroquest… Canto 41

Canto 42 – Agent Ace Campfield

     Arkin Cloudstalker had stepped out for a bit of a look around.  Castle Orpheum was too dark and mysterious for his taste.  He preferred a cockpit in space, or even the open air to this dim and dreary underwater place.  He missed his family, wife and kids who lived parsecs away on a moon of the wealthy residential planet called Bird World.  Being a corsair had driven him further and further away from his original vision of being a Galactic Hero.  He wanted to make the universe a better place to live, but more and more it seemed that all he could manage was to become a better killer and criminal.  The lamp-lit streets of Castle Orpheum were deserted at this time of the artificial day-night cycle.  Most intelligent residents were in bed asleep.

     Someone was walking towards him on this particular street. This someone had an orange Kevlar jumpsuit and a very big gun.  This someone clanked as he walked, metal striking the pavement to the beat of a slightly off-kilter step.  Arkin slowed to a stop.

     “Don’t stop on account of me, Cloudstalker,” said the figure. He pulled up short under a streetlamp so that Arkin could finally see his face.  It was an undead Mechanoidface, skull-like and one-quarter metal. The enlarged right eye was a glowing red computerized visual sensor.  “I came to see you face-to-face about a little matter of a bounty.  I am an ace bounty-hunter, Argo “Ace” Campfield.”

     “I didn’t call for any bounty hunter,” said Arkin, measuring the distance between them at about forty paces, easily within the range of the big gun the Mechanoid carried.

     “No, Count Nefaria hired me with money he got from a Galtorrian Knight he called Sir Saurol.  With Nefaria dead, I’ll probably get even more money for your severed head.”

     Arkin leaped for a nearby alley opening, rolling and coming up with his emergency blaster pistol, a one-shot plasma gun that he kept in his vest for occasions like this one.  Campfield’s deadly green beam burned leather, hair, and the top layer of skin off of Arkin’s left shoulder.

     “Gazzool!” groaned Arkin, using the only Bird World cuss word he still remembered, mild though it was.  He aimed unsteadily and fired his blaster.  The air sizzled with a beam of pure star fire and Campfield’s robotic right leg melted into two pieces.

     “Hah!  I laugh at losses like that!” growled Ace Campfield.  He hopped on one metal leg in Arkin’s direction.  “You may have slowed me down, but my sensors tell me you have no more shots left to take.”

     Arkin knew the undead death-machine was basically right.  He was slightly wounded and weaponless against an enemy who was tireless and had nothing left to fear from him.  He was as good as dead unless he did some very quick thinking.  The alley he had dodged into ended in a ladder that went all the way up into the subsea dome’s catwalks.  From there he could make his way to the submarine pens if only he could get out of range up that ladder before Campfield hopped into position for a good shot.  That would be a darn good trick, since the robotically enhanced senses of a Mechanoid were bound to make Campfield’s marksmanship superb.

     As swiftly as Cloudstalker could run, he bounded towards the ladder.  It was only a matter of moments before Campfield would lock on him as a target and burn a hole through his chest or back with that energy beam.   His heart pounded as he looked up the ladder into the distant grill-work of the catwalks above.  His heart almost stopped for a moment as he saw another face peering down at him over the edge of a catwalk platform.  Did Campfield have a partner?  Was he trapped as well as doomed?  The face was almost as unusual as Campfield’s skeletoid visage.  This new face had crossed eyes and a white fright-wig of frizzy hair crammed up underneath a black top hat.  The silly pink tongue, longer than the normal humanoid tongue, lolled out of the slack mouth.  Before Arkin could yell, the strange face dropped a coil of rope down on top of his head and motioned for Arkin to grab hold with one hand while he waved a skinny rubber chicken with the other hand.

     Having little other choice, Cloudstalker firmly took hold of the rope.  Instantly he was dragged upward by some high-speed winder that thumped him several times against the ladder, but pulled him up to the platform in a matter of seconds.  Campfield spotted him, but even robotic reflexes didn’t allow him to get a shot off before Arkin was safe.

     Face to face with his weird rescuer Arkin tried to thank the man.  “You saved me from certain death just now,” he said, gasping for air. “May I know your name?”

     The man, his tongue still flopping out of his mouth, shook his head yes and handed the rubber chicken to Arkin. 

     “What does this mean?” Arkin asked.

     The man pantomimed turning something over.

     “What?”

     Looking stupidly impatient, the smiling fool took the rubber chicken back and now slapped it forcefully down in Arkin’s hand.

     “I don’t have time for this.  What are you trying to tell me?”

     The man pantomimed turning something over again, then slapped the feet of the naked rubber bird.  Finally realizing something of the nature of the message, Arkin turned the rubber chicken over in his hand.  There was a name written there in purple crayon.  It said, “White Dook”.

     “The White Duke sent you?”  Arkin was incredulous, yet at the same time amused.  The fool grinned and handed him a second rubber chicken.  He turned it over to see the word “YES” in purple crayon.

     Below them, Campfield was at the base of the ladder.  His robotic muscles pulled the one-legged bounty hunter up hand-over-hand at a frightening speed.

     “We’d better get going!” said Cloudstalker.

     He received a third rubber chicken.  When he turned it over, it said, “You said it, sister dear!”

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Aeroquest… Canto 41

Canto 41 – The Pyramid of Evil

     Dr. Hooey proved to be as wild and eccentric a character as Trav Dalgoda.  He wore outlandish clothing and said remarkably stupid things without a moment’s hesitation.  He was not pretty to look at with a big nose and uncombed hair.  He was consistently frazzled and at his wit’s end.  Still, he was probably the highest-level problem-solver that Tron had ever met.

     Outside the pyramid that no one had been able to detect two miles outside the borders of Oasis City, Hooey was hunkered down next to Tron and Hassan as the wind blew fierce, stinging sand all around the base of the pyramid.

Dr. Hooey

     “I don’t know how you found this thing, Hooey!” said Tron, having to yell over the roar of the storm.  “It seems like this sandstorm never ends.  It’s been here since my people arrived within scanner range of the planet.”

     “I think it’s more or less permanent.  All I had to do to find it is scan for a focus of artificial radiant energy large enough to create a concealed feature of the planet, like this one.”

     The King of Killers came back to his leader, running with his head bent down into the wind.  He had a breath mask on to keep the sand out of his lungs, and brought three more for Tron, Hooey, and Hassan.

     “The doorway seems to be over there,” he yelled, pointing with the breath mask on his chin while he handed out the remaining masks to the others.

     “Okay, King.  Lead the way!” ordered Tron.

     Tron had his laser pistols attached to the powerpack on his back.  The King had an ACR hanging from the leather strap over his back, while Hassan had a net-pistol that had a one-shot net trap loaded.  Hooey carried a thing that looked like a small plastic water gun that he called his really big gun.

     The four men ran to the pyramid door, hands up to protect their faces from the cruel white sand.  King brought them to a dark alcove in the base of the pyramid. 

     “This is where we go in!” hollered King.  “I don’t know what’s in there.  My sensors read nothing at all, not even the stone that it should be reading!”

     Worried, the group inched forward into the darkness.  Tron took over the lead and allowed King to drop back and cover the rear.  Hooey hovered over Tron’s right shoulder, while Hassan limped along on his new leg to Tron’s left, trying to get used to the unfamiliar device.

     “I do hope there are no mummies in here.  I hate battling the living dead!” said Hooey firmly.

     “How could a man of science be stupid enough to think that mummies could ever come to life?” asked Tron, rolling his eyes, the artificial one looking more disgusted than the natural one.

     “Pretty easily!” remarked Hooey.  “Look there!”

     In the long Gallery ahead, hard to see in the dim light, four shapes lurched toward them.  They were skull-faced and bandaged.  Mummies come to life!

     “No.  I’m not sitting still for this crud!” growled King.  “I have a wife to get back to.”  The infamous King of Killers rushed to the front and tried to prove that he deserved his ruthless nickname.  He went fully automatic with his ACR and sprayed bullets all over the approaching undead creatures.  Bone splintered and wiring sparked.  Two of the creatures fell completely to pieces.  A third one lost its head, but still kept stumbling forward.

     “There’s something fishy about these mummies,” grumbled Tron.  “They walk too much like movie monsters to be real.  And what’s with all the electrical sparking?”

     The two wounded mummies kept coming towards King even though men who were punctured that much by armor-piercing shells should have died and fallen still.  King tried feverishly to load another clip of ammo, but before he could, a mummy grabbed his shoulder.  Electricity shot out of the bandaged hand and King went unconscious, his hair smoking profusely.

     “Hooey!” shouted Tron, about to demand that the Time Knight do something. 

     Dr. Hooey stood and pointed his little plastic water pistol.  He sprayed the two remaining mummies and completely shorted out their control circuits.  They fell in smoking piles of bones.

     Tron rushed forward to help his fallen man.  King Killer would live, but he’d had a nasty shock.

     “What were those things, Hooey?  Tell me straight, or I might have to shoot you.”

     Hassan picked up a severed hand wrapped in rotted bandages and took a close look.  “Rot warriors,” said the Space Elf.  “They are Mechanoids made from completely dead men.”  He handed the boney hand to Tron.

     The bones were inlaid with glittering microcircuitry that you could only really see up close.  A nearby skull yielded up a wrecked computer processor.  The main control pod was found in the chest cavity.

     “The perfect soldiers,” said Tron.  “They’re too dumb to question orders.”

     “Yes,” said Hooey, “and designed to put a real scare into any locals who might come in here.”

     “What do you suppose they are protecting?” asked Hassan. 

     “Oh, I already know,” said Hooey.  “They are protecting a Galtorrian agent of Count Nefaria called the Lizard Lady.  She’s here in this complex somewhere.”

     “You already know what’s supposed to happen here, don’t you?” said Tron.  “That’s how you knew to bring the water pistol.”

     “Well… In a sense, that’s true.”

     “All right, King is already hurt.  Spill it, Doctor.  What will happen next?”

     “Patience, Tron, my boy, only time can really tell.”

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Aeroquest… Scherzo 4

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Scherzo 4 – Rolling a Twenty

“So, Trav Dalgoda does it again.  Your total roll of the dice with your skill of plus eight added to it is an impossible success of twenty.  You fly the burning spaceship into a curly-patterned rendezvous with the Leaping Shadowcat.”

“That’s a load of bull-puckie, Mr. M!” said Arturo.  “He always rolls a perfect twelve on two six-sided dice!”

“You agreed that he could use his jack-of-all-trades skill to do this.”

“But it’s a plus eight!  That is just too unfair for a skill you can use to do almost anything.”

“You let me spend all my adventure points on that one skill,” Eddie said.

“He’s right you know.  And besides, if he were to fail that role, then the two ships could crash, killing your two characters as well as his.”

“And mine too!” said Amanda.  “Trav rescued Madonna from the slaver pirates of Mingo remember.”

“Yes,” said the game master, “and her little blue son too.”

“Aw, that little bugger is just an NPC that you put into the story.  I really don’t care if he dies.”

“Eeuw, cold-hearted woman!” said Eddie.

At that moment, Dr.Hooey opened the front door of the young teacher’s apartment.

“Oh, hello.  My time machine must’ve had another brain fart and brought me to the wrong time and relative dimension.”

“Wait a minute,” said Eddie, “Who the hell are you?”

“Yes, exactly, but maybe hell is a bit too strong.  My name is Dr. Hooey.  I am looking for a place to leave a baby from the distant future.”
“A baby?” Amanda gasped.

“Oh, yes.  And who are you, young lady?”
“I’m Amanda Lilliput and this is my boyfriend Arturo Castrovalva.”

“Would you like to raise a baby from the future?”

“Um… no, thank you.”

“May I ask what you people are actually doing?”

“It’s a science fiction role-playing game.  These former students of mine are all playing space-faring characters in a space adventure set in the distant future,” said the goofy-looking teacher.

“Oh, my.  That is somewhat worrisome.  Are you sure you don’t want a space baby from the future?”

“Oh, I do!” said Eddie.

“No, he really doesn’t,” said the teacher.  “Thank you anyway.”

So Dr. Hooey left and closed the door behind him.

“That was weird,” said Arturo.

“Mr. M, I need to make a new character for the game,” said Eddie.  “He will be a time traveler, and I will call him Dr. Hooey.”

 

 

 

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