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Aeroquest… Canto 3

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Canto 3 – A Game of “Bridge”

 

When Ged and Trav reached the bridge of the Leaping Shadowcat, Tron’s angry face already filled the view screen.  Next to him stood the flame-haired beauty known as Maggie the Knife with one hand protectively shielding their small son, Artran.

“So!  Ged and Ham both?  How could you both be so stupid as to take up with that worthless clown?” growled Tron in a gravelly voice.  His somewhat handsome face was marred not only by anger, but by a hideous laser scar that ran from the top of the left side of his forehead, through the eye socket of his artificial left eye, down to the left side of his lantern jaw.

“Tron,” said Ged as diplomatically as he could manage, “You know me.  You know I would never take up with a swindler and a pirate like Trav willingly.  You must also know that I have troubles of my own about now.  If you leave us in peace, I can promise Trav’s presence aboard this ship will result in banishment for him.  You will never see his face in Imperial Space again.”

“Ged, I respect you more than any other space man I know.  Your word is good, and you never lie.  I wish your worthless brother and I both had your integrity.  We’d be kings among men.  But Goofy stole a priceless treasure from us and both Slimeball Harris and Blue Death Jones just died trying to get it back.  Both of their corsairs were destroyed by that rotten space barge Goofy was flying.”

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“You’re moaning about Slimeball and Old Blue?” asked Trav in an incredulous voice.

“Well, those corsair ships were very valuable!” growled Tron.

“Oh,” replied Trav.  “Sorry.”

“What if we give you the treasure, Tron?” asked Ham.

“No!” cried Trav.  “You have to let me explain that to you in private, first!”

“Yes,” growled Tron.  “Give me the blue metal box and the Nebulon slave girl. You can keep the rest. And you can keep Goofy forever, for all I care.”

“Now, wait!” interrupted Ged.  “Slavery is just plain wrong.”

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“Yes,” said Tron, “but this one is a princess among the Space Smurfs.  She is the first daughter to the Sinjarac Warlord, whatever that means.  We’re not just talking slave here, but a potentially valuable hostage for the Imperial Space Navy.  They would pay well to get their hands on her.”

“Why a hostage?” asked Ham.

“You didn’t see the Imperial Scout Data we intercepted,” said Maggie softly in a musical voice.  “A coreward border war has erupted between a huge convoy of Nebulons in their Space-Whale Cruisers and the Galtorr Imperium.  Nobody in the Imperium seems to know why, but there is a massive migration of Space Smurfs going on just beyond the Imperial Border.”

“You can’t have the girl,” said Ged.  “I’d be happy to give you the box, though.”

“No!” protested Trav.  “You don’t know what’s in it!”

“What is in it?” Ged asked Trav.  His eyes narrowed.

Trav blushed furiously.

“You have to give us what we want.”  Tron seemed too confident.  “We have corsairs blocking every jump route back into known space.  Soon we’ll have a hundred of them here ready to board your crappy little safari ship.”

“Yes,” said Maggie prettily.  “We will take the treasure anyway and you’ll all be skinned alive with a dull knife.”

“Oh, great,” said Ged.

“Are you ready with our little surprise?” Trav asked Ham.

“It’s plotted in the nav computer,” Ham answered.

“It’s time to hit it, then.”

Ham leaped into the pilot’s seat and slammed down on the jump button.  The jump into lightspeed-plus was jarring.  Space began to fold around the ship.  The surprised faces of Tron and Maggie the Knife faded away into white static, soon replaced by a red-and-blue-shifting starfield in jump space.

“What have you done?” Ged asked Ham with shock on his face.

“You didn’t think I would start this leap of faith without at least one jump already planned and programmed?”

“Trav?” asked Ged.

“Oh, yes.  I plotted a course to a planet almost nobody has ever heard of.  It’s a place with the silly name of Don’t Go Here.”

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Aeroquest – Canto 2

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Canto 2 – A Bit of Blue

 

The two spaceships finally locked together belly to belly in the middle of a barrel roll.  Dalgoda’s fireball was tearing itself apart from inside.  Flaming projectiles tore free on every side of it, sparking out in airless space.  Meanwhile, Tron’s Pinwheel Corsairs were bathing the two spiraling space dancers with hot laser fire.  Two of the six corsairs had a pretty decent lock on Trav’s ship and were peeling more chunks off the drive core.

“Ged!” hollered Ham, “can you get the Goofer out of his ship before it blows?”

“I can try,” said Ged, more to himself than to Ham.  His brother was busy trying to fly the ship in a carnival-ride maneuver.

Ged scrambled down the hatchway ladder to the ventral docking port.  The metal around the port doorway was already glowing red from heat.  With a moment of panicky concentration, his hands grew fire-lizard scales all over them, like gloves that appeared out of nowhere.  How did he do this thing?  Well, he had to admit to himself that as a safari leader, he’d skinned more than a few of the fire-resistant xeno-beasts in the past twenty years.  He knew the feel and look of the skin quite well.  His protected hands could spin the locking wheel of the heated door and throw it open without singeing his fingers off.

“Goofy?  You there?”

“Atta-boy, Ged-boy!  You’re a hero.”

Ged expected to see the thin, eye-patched face next, but instead he found himself looking into the beautiful blue face of a Nebulon woman.

“Who are you?” Ged asked with open mouth.

The blue-skinned young lady with the yellow hair just shrugged and eyed Ged like she didn’t understand.

“She’s part of my treasure, Ged!” called a goofy voice from somewhere behind her.  “Pull her into your ship.  Not all Nebulon slave girls speak Galactic English, you know!”

Ged pulled her into the Leaping Shadowcat.

“Here’s more,” called Trav.

An elfin blue-skinned boy with bright yellow hair was held up next to be rescued.

“Another slave?”

“He’s the son of the Nebulon Princess.”

“Your son?”

“No way!  I’m greedy, not perverted!”

Ged couldn’t argue that.  He pulled the boy in too.

“Where’d you get the cool lizard gloves, Ged?” asked Trav as he clambered through the doorway and eyed the scales with his one uncovered eye.

“I kinda made them,” Ged answered sheepishly.

“Is our boy, Ham, ready to jump out of this mess?”

“I hope so.”

“Good.”  Trav hauled a huge gravitic cargo-bag into the ship after him and slammed the portal door.  “Eeyow!” he cried as he burned holes through the fingers of his own gloves.  It was fortunate the Goof always wore those stupid white gloves.  They saved him from burning flesh off his fingers.

“Ham, you can let ‘er go!” hollered Ged into his commo dot.  The communicator was glued comfortably to his throat.

They heard a rumble as the Leaping Shadowcat released her grip on Trav Dalgoda’s nameless ball of flame and melting hull.  The rumble was followed shortly by a huge boom and jarring shockwave.

“Ged!  Get the Goofer up here.  We’ve got big problems with his corsair friends.”

Ged’s eyes widened.  “What happened that made that shock wave?”

“Goofy’s ship exploded and took out two of the trailing corsairs.”

“Jeez!” moaned Goofy, “I hope Maggie and Tron are all right.  They’re good friends of mine.”

“Do I read the situation right?” asked Ged.  “If they live, they are going to kill us?”

“Well, yes, but I still love Tron like a brother.”

Ged nodded unhappily.  He wished he lived in the same alternate universe as Trav Dalgoda.

Junior Aero

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Aeroquest – Adagio 1 – Googol Marou

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Adagio 1 – Googol Marou

 

Sometimes a good historical tale requires the right story-teller to really explain it correctly.  Sorry, you are stuck with me, Professor Googol Marou.  I am an astronomer and physicist, not the kind of story-teller I knew so well when the events I will try to relate to you actually happened.

I am not calling this bit “Chapter Two” like an ordinary writer with writing sense would.  No, I am following the unscientific metaphors that Ged Aero himself always used when telling a story.  He talked about the universe as if it were a symphony played by musical instruments that don’t make sounds.  Their musical notes are actually lights and energies, physics, if you will, or some such nonsense as that.  So the first chapter was called a “Canto”, a section of poetry or lyrics, intended to be sung out loud.  This little pile of narrative nonsense is primarily exposition, a part that is probably good to know about, but it won’t kill you if you skip it.  It won’t kill the story either… hopefully.  I may also use “Nocturnes” in the course of this tale, classical movements of romance and sensual beauty.  And I am looking forward to the “Scherzos”, the short interludes of comic musicality and brief relief from the heavier fare.

My over-all plan for this tale is to tell you how a group of teachers were able to make history and change the Imperium of a Thousand Worlds, turning it into the New Star League, even though the stars in it were billions of years old.

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Now, you might wonder how it is that a group of teachers were able to conquer and realign the very stars, especially since they didn’t know they were teachers at the outset, but I swear it is true.  I’m not the liar Trav Dalgoda was.  And, even though I didn’t personally witness everything I intend to tell you, I did participate a bit.  And, I was able to learn even more through my special telescope.

Space in the era of this history was already partially colonized by human beings who originated on Earth. Four branches of Earthers had reached out to the stars and planets of the Orion Spur of the Sagittarius Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.  The Texans had created the Coreward Union of Inhabited Worlds, also known as the Pan Galactican Union.  Those fools in their plasticized cowboy hats had a way of running roughshod over the galaxy until they met forces more determined and self reliant than they were.  I don’t apologize for Space Cowboys, there really is no excuse for them, but they were a necessary part of the cultural mix that preceded the New Star League.

The Japanese had reached out to the Trailing Area of the Spur and their colonies disappeared from known space. Many thought they had run afoul of a powerful alien menace.  In some ways, it was probably the truth.  Still, the inscrutable Space Samurai would come back to haunt us in a new incarnation.  It would prove to be the right thing at the right time.

The Southern European Union had branched out towards the Nebulas of the Leading Edge of the Orion Spur.  There they founded an exclusive humans-only Empire called the Classical Worlds.  They were so pig-headedly convinced of their own perfection and superiority, that they took to living everywhere as Space Nudists, shaping the environment to accommodate the human form rather than making any adaptations themselves.  These descendants of the French, Italians, and Greeks adopted Greco-Roman dress and culture, and I mean the Ancient form that had served the original Greeks and Romans back on Earth, the culture of social nudity and reverence for the naked human form.  They were very enlightened about philosophy and science, but as buck-naked people, they had absolutely no fashion sense.  They were also unusually prejudiced towards any intelligent being that wasn’t human.  They never seemed to figure out that most humans weren’t really intelligent beings.  Still, in the long run, we needed them too.  Good thing we didn’t have to look at them often… well, unless we really wanted to.

And finally, the Eastern European Space Initiative had made maximum use of their discovery of the humanoid lizard Galtorrians discovered in the Delta Pavonis Star System on a planet known as Galtorr Prime.  They established their Imperium in the center of the Orion Spur.  Something about the Germans and Russians just naturally dove-tailed with the lizard peoples of Galtorr.  The Galtorrian lizard-men and humans became the first genetically altered, melded race in known space.  They were able to take advantage of the many genetic similarities between humans and reptiloids for the purposes of making the two species into one, the Galtorrian Imperial Lizard Race.  They were like humans in every way, even mostly blond-haired and blue-eyed, but their snake-like eyes had vertically slitted pupils. They discovered they could thrive in Earth-like worlds and hostile Galtorr Prime-like worlds equally well.  They used their supposedly superior breeding to field vast space armies and navies of powerful starships and began conquering their neighbors.  This, of course, included the conquest and devastation of the Earth itself.

The Galtorr Imperium had been established almost 500 years before Ged and Ham Aero started the Great Outworld Expansion of 5526 C.E.  People would come to call the Imperium the “Thousand Planets” because of the 1,212 inhabited worlds in the 882 stellar systems it had conquered or colonized.  It was not the securely settled Orion Spur that I am sure you enjoy now.  It was necessary to keep an active scout service even in the heavily populated center of the Imperium.  Information traveled only as fast as the fastest starships, and one end of the Imperium rarely knew what was happening in the other end.  There had been a need for the Galtorrians to fight three Jihads and five Unification Wars.  Pirates and Privateers were everywhere.

No merchant traveled safely. New colonies often disappeared without a murmur.  Delivering goods meant risking life and limb.  Of course, some of my best friends were pirates at one time.  You shouldn’t really hold that against them.  But, it is no wonder that an outworld expansion required someone of great courage and character to step out of the general darkness.

Now, I’m sure you are wondering, “Who are you, Professor Googol Marou, to be telling us about the distant past over so many light years of space?”  Well, that would be a good question.  I’ve been described as a “total nut-job” on many occasions. I know what I’m talking about, though, because I’ve studied history in action through the Marou Ancient Light Holo-Assembler Telescope (the MALHAT).  It takes the collected light from the stars and planets we see, and reassembles it in a holo-recording that shows what happened at the moment those light particles reflected off the event.  The true genius, of course, was in finding the quantum shape-memory in photon particles and building a re-assembler.  That means that to view the past as it was 500 years ago, all you have to do is look at it from 500 light years away and gather 500 year old light.  This I could do from the relative safety of a space platform or space ship.  I mostly preferred a scientifically-oriented lab ship, but also found Ham Aero’s quaint little hunting ship serviceable as well.  And, I invented this wonderful thing.

Ham Aero

I won’t lecture you now on the fierce repressions of the Galtorr Imperium.  Most of that goes without saying, and if you’ve heard of them at all, you know it is true.

I know you are probably still marveling over the simple brilliance of the Marou Ancient Light Holo-Assembler telescope!  I can’t blame you.  I’m still amazed that I invented it.  It makes me have to stop in the middle of my thesis just to marvel at myself.  Wow!  Aren’t I wonderful?

What I will tell you, though, is that the Aero brothers left known space because Ged was slowly transforming into a rare form of Psion known as a Shape-Changer.  Like the telepaths, pyros, savants, teleporters, and telekinetics who made up the usual run of Psions, shape-changers could make use of their entire brain system in a conscious way to control the universe around them by mind power alone.  That is not to say that they were any smarter, wiser, or more moral that the rest of us, just unusually gifted with special brain powers.

The Imperium hated Psions because they were so much harder to control.  They actively hunted, persecuted, and, often, even executed Psions.  I, myself, am not a Psion, but you will note in the course of this history, when I come into the picture to play a key role, that I have a real affinity for Psions and their way of life.  So, as the story continues, please don’t doubt the veracity and mental stability of my observations.  I’m a genius, after all.  My inventions prove it.

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A Full-Color Rough Draft

As terrible as my first published novel turned out to be, I have not given up on the idea of Aeroquest.  I am interested in whipping a part of it into the shape of a graphic novel.  So I bought a sketchbook and noodled down some Baby Mutant Space Ninjas gunk into it in full color.  But it is only a rough draft.  It is not finished artwork.  I can’t get over how pretty and colorful it is turning out to be.  I thought I would show you how it is going so far.

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There are obvious signs that the dialogue and text boxes need to turned into a more finished form.  And serious editing decisions probably need to be made about moon shots.

Here is what it looks like to use computer editing to try to fix some of the problems.

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I will continue to work on it, but I needed something to post today.  And sometimes you need to consider the work-in-progress warts and all.

 

 

 

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Timeline – Finale

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So how do I end this little trilogy of timeline terror?  I have to fit in the remaining novel projects that are related or at least partially done.  And the unrelated ones too.  I have way more in the Mickian bag of tricks than I will ever have the magic-using years to actually use.  The thing about wizards is that, by the time they have accumulated all the knowledge, wisdom, and arcana that it takes to do the wizardry, they are already old and near to death.  How much time is left for the actual magic?  I have been living this weekend in fear of imminent stroke.   But I believe the random brain pain has actually turned out to be sinus problems.   So here are the projects that finish the timeline and are the projects least likely to get written and published.

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Connected to Catch a Falling Star is its sequel, Stardusters and Space Lizards.  This is a novel I have most recently been trying to finish.  I am in the home stretch at 40,000 words.  It is the story of the failed Earth invaders  continuing their journey to another planet, an even worse place than Earth.  Galtorr Prime is the planet of the humanoid lizard people.  Their world is on the very brink of extinction by global warming, toxic politics, and war.  The remnants of the Telleron aliens who tried to invade Earth and their Earther-human friends not only have to make a colony for themselves here, but have to save the planet itself as well.  It is a cautionary-type science fiction tale in the same comedy-young-adult-novel genre as Catch a Falling Star.  It also happens in the early 1990’s (intended to mean the time on Earth which is not relevant in any case).

The next novel is Monstro, a ghost story in which the Norwall Pirates have to take on the Lonely Ones, the spirit-echoes of the crazy people of the past in a haunted farm house that awakens to feed on the living.  The story is more than half written, but is looking at a near total rewrite to make it conform better with comedy young adult fiction.  It is set in the mid 1990’s, around 1995.

None of my Hometown Novels will go beyond the 20th Century.  Monstro is ostensibly the last of the novels.

I am a science fiction writer as well, though.  The first book I ever published, Aeroquest, is set more than three thousand years in the future, at a time when the Orion Spur of the Sagittarius Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy (where Earth has its street address) is largely colonized and thoroughly inhabited.  As the novel now stands (a sorry mishmash that no decent publisher would’ve ever printed) it is in need of a total re-write and make-over.  It is a novel that I humorously say is about teachers in space… though I do realize that “humorously” has to be qualified as a big bald-faced lie.

Aeroquest baby ninjas

So this is run-down in time order of all the stuff I want to do as an author.  How much gets done in reality is anyone’s best guess.  Who knows?  I may live another twenty years and finish at least one novel every year.

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First Novel Yuckishness

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One of my biggest regrets as a writer is that I started doing it before I had any earthly idea how to do it well.  I know as a former writing teacher that you have to start by starting and you learn to write better by writing.  There is no substitute for that redundantly repetitive redundancy of practice.  And that is the mistake I made with the first novel… not the first one I ever wrote… the first one I ever tried to get published.  I finished slapping the stupid thing together in primarily superfluous paragraphs and short chapters, and then sent it off to a publisher before I lost all willpower to try.  The mistake was in choosing a publisher that was revolutionizing the publishing industry with cheap-o flim-flam tricks.  If you have ever considered Publish America as an option… don’t.  They work well as a way to get your students published and excite them about writing, but you can send them a bag full of grocery lists and they will publish it, telling you they have no intention of changing your unique style… all editing is left up to you.  It is a crap guarantee that guarantees crap, no matter how good a writer you are.  If I had wasted one of my good babies on the venture, they would own the rights to it for seven years.  They do diddly-do-dah to promote or market your book.  Everything is up to the author.  They don’t even read the book.  They make some effort to contact your family and people who know you and hawk the book at ridiculous prices that I wouldn’t pay for Hemingway and are satisfied with the profits they make selling a dozen copies.

Now that the term of my contract is up, I have to decide what to do with this novel.  It is a hog-slop mish-mash of words and weirdness that no one could every truly appreciate as literature.  It is juvenile blather that I would be truly ashamed of if more people had bought it and wasted their time reading it.  (I don’t regret my friends and relatives reading it.  They deserve that fate for one thing or another over the years.  No one is without sin.)

Aeroq1 Aeroq2 Aeroq3 Aeroq4 Aeroq6 Aeroq5  You can see that I have made some attempts already to adapt it into something somewhat more-or-less interesting by using my rights to adaptation to make it into a graphic novel (These panels are merely rough draft form.  If I do this, it will end up in a much more finished, web-comic form.)  I am able to reclaim the entire book as of October of 2014.  I just haven’t decided yet if it is worth the effort.

It was a learning experience to do this Aeroquest book-like thing.  I learned a lot about what not to do.  But I did end up $12 dollars in the black from the experience.  The second book was a much more expensive proposition.  I paid I-Universe for editing, proofreading, and training in marketing and promotion.  They took the time to teach me all the proper steps and how to work towards eventual success.  They even set up this blog for me and trained me how to do it.   But I had to pay them.  At this point, three years later, I am still in the red with this book.  And they never mention that to be a success as an Indie novelist, you have to write more than one of these danged novel-things.  Hoo-boy!  But I am on it.  I will write to my last breath, and I guarantee you that I will tell some stories.

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Dreams Really Do Come True

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Last night a tornado dream, the one I posted about on January 4th, came true.  We had five earthquakes in Carrollton, Texas.  Of course, none of the epicenters were in Carrollton.  They were a few miles away in Irving, Texas.  But tornado dreams always precede some sort of disaster, usually a personal tragedy.  I realized during the final pair of shakes around 8:15 last nigh that the dream truly was about the earthquakes.  Remember, we were looking out the south windows of the farm house, my mother and I, at the funnel cloud, and the south windows are located right next to the storm cellar.  The storm cellar is safety. It has symbolized safety in my mind since the night we spent in the basement in Rowan, Iowa when the tornado ripped the shingles off the roof of our house.  We were safe that night, and we were safe last night because none of the earthquakes were worse than a 3.6 on the Richter Scale.  Earthquakes that are that mild do little or no damage.  My mother was in the tornado dream because she heard about the earthquakes on the news she was watching up in Iowa (at the same farm place where the dream was set),and she emailed me about the earthquakes to make certain my family and I were safe.   So it was another dream of future events, and it did come true… at least in my goofy little mind.

Dreams come true in more than one way.  I finished the initial edit of my contest novel, The Magical Miss Morgan.  I now believe firmly that it is the best novel I have yet written.  It is short.  At 44,500 words it is barely more than the minimum acceptable word-count for the contest.  It is simple.  The main plot is about Francis Morgan having her notions of what constitutes good teaching tested by a parent, a school board member, and an angry principal.  The first subplot is about a group of fairies who recruit Francis to help them save the fairy kingdom of Tellosia from a lack of the vital belief in fairies necessary to overcome evil.  The second subplot is about one of her favorite students undergoing an attack on her belief in herself from another student.  Main plot and two subplots are almost too few for me and my fevered, fertile comic imagination.  I can’t seem to juggle (usually) without twenty balls in the air at once.  But the simplicity of this novel is one of its main charms, and a quality I am hoping may help win the writing contest.  I know from my experiences with the novel Snow Babies that I am not far from reaching the top in a writing contest.

Leap of Faith

The dream may also have signaled an important milestone in my continuing health problems.  I ruled out the things that are most likely to kill me in my recent cardiologist quest.  I do not have heart problems after all.  I only have six incurable diseases, and am still a cancer survivor (the growth removed from the back of my head was infected, but not cancerous.  I only have diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, COPD, psoriasis, and an enlarged prostate.  Nothing is bad enough by itself to be unmanageable and deadly).  So I am probably going to be alive for a few more years and able to draw and write more.  I was forced to retire from teaching by health problems, but now that I am managing my debt with help from a lawyer and do not have the stress from a job, I actually have fewer sick days, more money to spend, and enough time to do the artistic work that I have always wanted to do.

So I close with the Disney song in my head… “A dream is a wish your heart makes… and dreams really do come true.”

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