In the 80’s and early 90’s I played a lot of the science-fiction-role-playing game called Traveller. Those hours and hours of gaming produced the characters and stories I turned into my novel AeroQuest, now AeroQuest 1, 2, and very soon3. So, most of this artwork is either for the game and was used as a part of it, or the book, used as an illustration.
Tiki Astro is an artificial robot boy that looks fully human.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!”
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.
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
“Well… In a sense,
“All right, King
is already hurt. Spill it, Doctor. What will happen next?”
my boy, only time can really tell.”