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Stardusters… Canto 68

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Canto Sixty-Eight  – Return to the Moon Gundahl

The golden wings that could be retrieved touched down on the moon base where Biznap and Xiar had established a new colony for the Telleron people.   Material synthesizers were busy churning out components for a new Telleri-swamp enclosure.  The ruined Galtorrian fortress was swiftly becoming the kind of homey organic mess of a construct that the Tellerons had left behind and lost track of at Barnard’s Star.

The entry doors of Harmony Castille’s mission wing popped open with a snap-hiss worthy of a cobra celebrating victory over a mongoose.  Many mongooses in fact.  Harmony and Shalar both led the way down the ramp, rushing into the arms of their beloveds, Biznap and Xiar respectively.

“Bizzy, we have conquered a planet for you at last,” Harmony said happily.

“The evil Senator and his minions are defeated?”  Biznap asked.

“Defeated and eaten and dead,” said Shalar.  “Those the man-eating Lester-flowers didn’t eat were turned into food by material synthesizer and fed to starving Galtorrian survivors.”

“How about the little ones?” Xiar asked.  “The missing children from our ship and the little wounded lizard girl?”

“We found all the tadpoles alive and well, except for Tanith and Davalon, who got a little bit crunched under a falling space ship. And they are recovering in the same hospital room with Sizzahl, the little lizard scientist.  That one will be invaluable to us if we are going to help the natives rebuild a society here.”

“Tanith and Davalon?  Is that the one who saved our behinds on Earth and his nestmate, the pretty one?” asked Xiar.

“Xiar!  You don’t know your own offspring even yet?” said Harmony.

“Well, I, uh… hey, I remembered them correctly, didn’t I?”

“You did,” said Shalar.  She practiced the human thing about kissing him on the cheek affectionately.

“And they stayed on the planet?” asked Biznap.

“Yes.  Alden and Gracie Morrell are looking after all the tadpoles, along with their new children, the half-human, half-lizard fusions.”  Harmony’s eyes twinkled as she talked about it.  “They will be great parents, even though they are perpetually child-sized themselves.  They even have me thinking about adopting some children myself.”

“We have plenty of Galtorrian orphans right here,” said Biznap.  “Teenage lizard boys and teenage lizard girls.  Still think you can handle teenagers?  Even the toothy ones?”

Harmony laughed a Sunday-school-teacher laugh.  No mere child would ever get the best of her and her beloved Bible.  She’d have those heathens tamed in no time.

“And just think,” said Xiar with a grin, “none of this could’ve happened if your Earther primate wife hadn’t corrected your math.”

Biznap grimaced.  “Yeah, working on math and star-charts is going to be a thing for the next few years.”

“You’re not looking forward to living here?” Harmony asked.

“I guess I’d better get used to the idea.  We are not going anywhere else until the coordinates to everything in the universe have been fixed.  We don’t know where Earth or Barnard’s Star, or even Telleri were misplaced at now.  Their correct positions have to be fixed.”

“Fixed in your charts, you mean,” Harmony said.  “I think they are still right where God originally put them.”

“Yes, I guess they are,” Biznap finally admitted.

So now, dear reader, after having posted a chapter every Tuesday for over a year, I have managed to post an entire novel, three years in the writing, for free on WordPress.  Now that I have accomplished such a stupid feat, I am going to try to publish this thing, along with many other things I have finished writing.  Fair warning.  I am certainly not done inflicting Mickian fiction on the world.  This world… not Galtorr Prime.  Sorry if I misled you there.  I know lots of Galtorrian lizard folk are looking forward to reading this story.  But they will have to be extremely patient.

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Stardusters… Canto 67

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Canto Sixty-Seven – The Arboretum Again (We Can’t Seem to Get Out of There)

When Farbick and Starbright finally got to the Arboretum where everyone else had gathered, they got in on the very end of Alden Morrell’s third re-telling of the final battle and deaths of Tedhkruhz and Makkhain.  Alden had gotten rather good rather quickly at telling the tale, complete with the sound effects at the climax of Lester smacking his huge petal-lips as he/she/it devoured both combatants.

Starbright then went to Science Officer Shalar to see if she could help with the medical care for the little wounded lizard girl.

“Was she badly wounded?” Starbright asked.  Farbick continued to hold her hand even as she asked it.

“Yes,” answered Shalar, “It seems she would’ve died if not for the application of this alien device to her throat as she was dying.”

The weak and pale little lizard girl smiled up at them.  “It’s a tissue-knitter given to our people by the  Zeta Reticulans as a gift when they left our planet for good.  Makkhain wasn’t supposed to have it, but he stole it from the evil Senator’s treasure room to save me if he was forced to try and kill me.”

“You were lucky that Makkhain was still himself even though he was a clone,” said Gracie Morrell.

“That was Senator Tedhkruhz thinking he could completely control the clone with his hypno-programming.  Makkhain was still free to do whatever the Senator had forgotten to tell him not to do.”  Sizzahl smiled at Gracie.  “I think you know something about the value of love when it comes to clones,” she said to Gracie.

“Yes, if a simuloid Telleron clone had not sacrificed himself out of love for humanity, I would not even be here,” Gracie said.

“And you wouldn’t be a child again either,” added Alden, somewhat ironically.

“But, Alden, don’t you love being young and fresh and full of energy again?” Gracie asked him.

“Yeah, I suppose I do.  We are going to need it raising those clone children.”

“What’s this about children?” Starbright asked.

“Sizzahl used some of Alden’s DNA to create five little boys and five little girls that  are half human from Earth and half lizard people from Galtorr Prime.”  Gracie was beaming like an expectant mother, even though she looked like a little girl herself.

“I was expecting the fusion children to be the new people of this planet.  I really didn’t think any Galtorrians would survive,” Sizzahl said.  She was still weak and looked ill, but as she rested in Shalar’s protective embrace, she was obviously recovering.

“So, let me understand this,” Starbright said.  “The Morrells are finally going to have children of their own, and all of the survivors are going to restore and repopulate this planet?”

“That’s about how I see it,” said Shalar, the Science Officer, giving the idea the rubber stamp of scientific approval.

“Well,” said Starbright, “It’s about time we got in on this whole love and marriage thing too, Farbick and I.”

“The two of you are going to get married?” asked Alden, looking shocked in the fakest possible manner.

“Well,” said Farbick, “She hasn’t officially asked me yet.”

“Farbick, will you marry me?” Starbright asked, smiling  brightly, like a star.

“Of course I will, my love.”

“Gee, that’s just like in some old movie,” said Alden.

“I don’t remember the name of it,” said Farbick, “but it was an old black and white movie I got it from.”

Farbick laughed as Starbright slugged him on the shoulder.

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Stardusters… Canto 66

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Canto Sixty-Six – The Arboretum Again

Senator Tedhkruhz entered the arboretum with a glum look on his smug face, but it quickly blossomed into a smug smile as he viewed the scene before him.  In fact, his smile became so smarmy and smug that his smirky grin gave off waves of puerile smugness.

“So, Makkhain, you have succeeded in our little quest to kill the planet savers, have you?”

Makkhain, cradling Sizzahl’s apparently lifeless body, looked at him with a glare of pure hatred.  The two naked Earthers, both children, glared at him also. He also noted the little Telleron sitting against a huge yellow, red, and green flower thing.

“Where’s your conquering army, Senator?” Makkhain growled.

“I don’t need them.  We shut down this base, which I believe controls all the atmosphere restorers on the planet, and we have won.  The  world ends, and we are the winners.”

“Aren’t you afraid that without your army, I will turn on you and kill you for what you’ve done to me, my family, and my world?”

“Oh, certainly not.  You are a clone.  And you’ve been thoroughly programmed to do what I ask you to do.”

“Is that so?”  Makkhain laid Sizzahl gently down and stood, knife in hand.  He carefully balanced it in his right hand for throwing.

“Go ahead.  Try to throw the knife at me.”

He cocked his mighty lizard arm to throw, and then started to whip his throwing arm forward.  But he couldn’t release.  The knife clattered harmlessly on the floor.

“You see?  You are completely in my power.  Now destroy the controls of the atmospheric instruments.”

Makkhain smiled.  “I can’t overcome your programming, it’s true.  But I no longer do your bidding.”

“Oh, but you have to.  Destroy those controls now!”

Makkhain continued to grin.  The two Earthers and the Telleron were smiling now too.

“What is this?  Why are you not doing what I command?”

“Because I can’t, fool.  I don’t know where the controls are, and Sizzahl can’t tell me because she’s unconscious and probably dying.”

Senator Tedhkruhz lost his smug smile. A look of consternation crossed his ugly lizard face.

“Are you sure you can’t kill him?” the Earther male said.

“I can’t.  But others in the room can.  And I can’t harm him, but I can dance with him.”

“Dance with me?” the Senator scoffed.

“By your command,” Makkhain said.  He moved up to Tedhkruhz and took him by both hands.  They began to whirl around each other, Makkhain leading the lizard dance and forcing the Senator to go tripping along.  The Senator grimaced as he realized how he had uttered precisely the wrong words at precisely the wrong time.

“Is Lester still hungry for Galtorrian flesh, Brekka?” Makkhain asked.

“Dance him this way,” said the Telleron girl with and angry-eyed grin.

It didn’t dawn on the lizard-man overlord until too late that Makkhain was steering the dance directly toward three big moving blossoms lined with what could easily be interpreted as teeth.  He obviously should’ve ordered Makkhain to stop dancing and let him go, but nothing came out of his throat but a hoarse, frightened croak.

The plant attacked with all three blossoms.  One grabbed Makkhain and took two bites and swallowed.  The other two grabbed Tedhkruhz, one by the head, the other by both legs.  They pulled him into two pieces before each happily munched on their half of the wishbone.

The children who remained in the arboretum, three awake and aware, one lying unconscious, were stunned into silence by the sudden end to violence.  It was then that they heard and answered the anxious voice of a former old Sunday school teacher turned young war leader.  The rest of the Telleron army was suddenly at the arboretum door.

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Stardusters… Canto 65

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Canto Sixty-Five – The Arboretum

Sizzahl and the two naked Morrells had moved to the arboretum’s central control panel to look at security programs.  Brekka and Lester, accompanied by the baby buds, were watching for anyone else who might enter.

“Can you find him on a security camera?” Alden asked.  “He has to be somewhere near.”

“I used the Telleron invisibility cloak to disappear.  My fake Uncle Makk couldn’t possibly know where I went.”

“No defenses are left?” Gracie asked.

“Well, the fake Uncle Makk did take the security robots out just like the real Uncle Makk would’ve been able to.”

“That doesn’t take any of the worries away,” said Alden.

“Sizzahl!” shouted Brekka suddenly. “look above you!”

As Sizzahl and the Morrells looked up, the armored lizard man dropped out of the ceiling supports from a hundred feet above.  He landed completely unhurt on the gravel walkway and stood up straight in front of Sizzahl.

“I told you I could track you,” Makkhain said.  Then he stabbed Sizzahl in the chest with his glittering knife close to where a human from Earth would have a heart.  The lizard girl grabbed the gushing wound and pitched forward into his arms.

“No!” shouted Alden, jumping at Makkhain from the left.

“You monster!” shouted Gracie from his right.

He simply kicked Alden into a senseless heap at his feet and knocked Gracie down with a sweep of his lizard tail.  He cradled the wounded and probably dying Sizzahl in his arms.

“What have I done?” Makkhain said aloud.

“I think you have killed me, Uncle Makk,” Sizzahl answered.  She closed her eyes and went limp in his arms.

“We are gonna kill you and eat you!” Brekka cried from the safety of Lester’s viney tendrils.  “Lester, I mean.  Lester is gonna eat you.”

“Maybe I can still save her.”  The lizard man pulled some kind of medical kit out of pants pocket.  He fished out some kind of aerosol spray and sprayed it into the gaping hole in Sizzahl’s chest.  Then he took some kind of electronic device the size and shape of the egg of an Earth chicken and pressed that against Sizzahl’s throat.  The silent lizard girl suddenly popped awake.

“Ah!  Why did you do that, Uncle Makk?  I was headed for my father and mother.  Now I am hurting terribly!”

“Stabbing you changed something in my head.  Tedhkruhz’s programming is no longer in control.  I now feel like your real uncle.  I now want to save you if I can.”

“First you kill me, and then you try to fix it?”

“I know I’m not physically your real uncle, Sizzahl.  But in my head, I am still your Uncle Makk, and I still love you more than any other Galtorrian I know.  Can you forgive me?”

“Of course I can.  But if I die, you have to promise to take care of this world of ours.”

Alden pulled himself groggily up into a sitting position.  Gracie went to him and put her arms around him.

“After what you did, you expect us to believe you are on our side now?” Alden asked with a glare that could melt frozen steel beams.

“No, naked little Skoog monkey, you don’t have to believe anything about me.  You don’t have the power to change anything.  You must rely on me for that now.”

“Please, save Sizzahl,” pleaded Gracie.  “No matter what it costs us.”

“I will.  And I won’t let it cost you anything.”

“No way am I ever trusting you again,” said Alden.

“Yes, I don’t expect you to.”

Brekka, Lester, and all the baby blossoms looked on with doubtful eyes… and doubtful blossoms that had no eyes, but somehow also saw.

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Stardusters… Canto 64

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Canto Sixty-Four – The Ruins of Tanith and Davalon’s Nesting Quarters

Farbick led his small band of rebels into the gaping hole the forward stabilizer arm of the Bonehead had cut into the side of the bio dome.  The wreckage inside the building was pretty extensive.

“You really think we can stop the Senator?” Stabharh asked Farbick from directly behind the Telleron leader of the rebels.

“We can if we can convince more of his crew to join us in resisting his mad planetary death wish.”

“That’s going to be pretty hard.  Senator Tedhkruhz is extremely evil and his men are mostly very weak minded.”  Slahshrack was a real ray of sunshine in the gloom of the situation.

“We have to try,” said Starbright, “otherwise your species and your planet will be extinct.”

“Wait a minute, what’s this?” Farbick said, hearing a moan in a rubble pile and noticing a slight movement amidst the shattered concrete shards.

With Stabharh’s help he and Starbright began un-piling the stones, and soon two small Telleron bodies were revealed.

“Davalon!  And is that Tanith with you?”

Davalon was holding Tanith tightly in his arms.  The tadpoles were both bruised and bloodied, but technically still breathing.

“Can either of you still talk?” Starbright asked.

“A… a little…”  Davalon was obviously wearied by the effort.

“What are you doing here?” Farbick asked. “You tadpoles should all be safe on board the mother ship.  Why would Xiar send you here?”

“He… ah, didn’t.  We took a wing without permission and came to help this world survive.”

“We… ah, didn’t know we were doing that last part when we… ak, set off on the adventure,” Tanith said with a painful wince.

“You both have extensive injuries.  We have to get you both to someplace safe where you can hibernate and recuperate,” Starbright said.

“Do you know what this place is?” Farbick asked, since the tadpoles had apparently been in the place for a while.

“Yes… ouch… it’s a science facility where they are trying to restore the atmosphere of the planet and create new viable… ahg!…food sources.”  Davalon was in quite a lot of pain.

“So scientists survived?” asked Stabharh, quite surprised.

“One,” answered Tanith.  “A little Galtorrian girl named Sizzahl.  But she’s… oof!… a very intelligent little girl.”

“She’ll be the reason Tedhkruhz came here,” said Stabharh.  “He means to slay anyone and everyone who might be smart enough to bring this planet back to life.”

“We have to stop him,” Farbick said.  “Where do you suppose he is now?”

“I don’t know,” said Stabharh, “and I have no idea how to find him.”

“When I was a little lizard,” said Slahshrack, “I would turn to the last chapter of the book and read ahead to find the answer.”

“We can’t do that here, stupid,” said Stabharh.  “This is real life, not some idiot fiction book!”

“Yeah, too bad about that, huh.”

*****

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Stardusters… Canto 63

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Canto Sixty-Three – Harmony’s Response Team Assembly Area

Almost as soon as the crash woke Harmony Castille’s team of warriors, the old girl was immediately busy with setting up a response team in the area of the crash hole opened up by the collision between space cruiser and dome.

“Studpopper, you take point like I taught you.  You are a good boy and you know how to do the job effectively if you just remember what I taught you.”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am.  I won’t forget what you taught me not to forget in the heat of battle against an enemy that wants to eat me.  I shall certainly remember what you taught me because you are such a good teacher, Miss Harmony, ma’am.”

“Studpopper?”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am?”

“You are remembering the rule about addressing your leaders respectfully.  You are doing that really well, like a good boy.  But you’ve forgotten how to take the point, haven’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am.”

“You sneak quietly into that hole in the wall and look for the enemy.  When you spot them, you signal us, and we set an ambush for them.”

“Oh, yes.  Thank you, ma’am, Miss Harmony…”

“And, Studpopper?”

“Yes, ma’am…?

“If you forget again the enemy will kill you.  And if they don’t… I will.”

“Yes, ma’am, Miss Harmony ma’am!”  Studpopper saluted smartly just the way the old church lady had taught him.  “You are such a good teacher, ma’am!”

The beautiful Harmony Castile chuckled to herself as the soldier tiptoed quietly into the breach in the wall of the bio dome.  Mere moments later, Studpopper’s hand was signaling that someone was coming.

Silently Harmony signaled Shalar and her other men into position for an ambush.

Senator Tedhkruhz and his remaining elite Galtorrian Guard came marching through the hole, confident in their invincibility.  He pulled his men up short and the gloating smirk evaporated from his face.  The artificial lights of the bio dome glinted off the barrels of six Telleron skortch pistols.

“What have we here?” the evil lizard-man Senator croaked.

“You would be this evil lizard Senator Toadface we have heard so much about, wouldn’t you?”  Harmony’s smile was the cold, calculating smile of the experienced Sunday school teacher who knew for certain she had the young sinner right where she wanted him.

“Senator Tedhkruhz, if you please, Miss Monkeylady.”

“I’m sure I said Senator Toadface.  Did I not pronounce it correctly?”

“I am here to make certain that life on this planet ends with its preordained conclusion.”

“Over my dead body, Toadface.”

“I am certain that is precisely what I had planned,” he said as he stepped back and his lizard-men raised their slug-throwers to fire.  “Shoot now, men!” he roared.

There was an electric blaze of skortch-pistol fire, a few random gun-thing noises, and then a whole lot of sparking and fizzing as skortched lizard-men turned into powder and foul smelling gasses released by their disintegration.

“Did we get them all?” Shalar asked as the gas and smoke began to clear.

“I don’t see any remaining lizard-guys.” Harmony nodded at her men, satisfied.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, ma’am, Miss Harmony, ma’am,” Studpopper offered from his position on point, “But I saw the Senator slip out again through the hole in the wall.

“So he escaped after all?” Shalar asked.

“Dang it all to heck!” Harmony swore with language that pushed the limit of how brutally an Iowa church lady could ethically swear.

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Stardusters… Canto 62

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Canto Sixty-Two – In Lester’s Flower Garden

Sizzahl came running into the Arboretum as fast as her feet would work.  She slammed the door behind her.  Lester and Brekka both looked up startled.  Lester’s two extra heads also looked, as did sixty-five buds whom Lester had started growing to feed his/her friends and provide more plant-people as well.

“What’s the matter, Sizzahl?” asked Brekka trying to rub sleep out of her eyes.

“Uncle Makk is trying to kill me.”

“Oh, yes!  That reminds me.  Lester told me that he was a clone with robot programming.  I meant to tell you all about it.”

“Thanks, Brekka.  That definitely would’ve been useful to know a bit sooner.”  Sizzahl was smiling a grim, determined smile.

“What do you want me to do now, Sizzahl?  Lester said I should eat Makkhain myself.”

“Ah, please don’t do that, Brekka.”

“Yeah, good.  Thank you.  But maybe Lester can help by eating him for me.”

“Um, no.  I love him, even if he isn’t really my uncle.  I may let him win and destroy this planet.  Maybe he and the other Galtorrians are right.  Maybe we don’t deserve to live.  Maybe this planet needs to be rid of us.”

At that moment Alden and Gracie came in through a door that led to the sleeping nests.  Both of them were nude again, but both were breathing hard and looked determined.  Both had obviously heard what Sizzahl had just told Brekka.

“No, Sizzahl.  You won’t let the bad guys win.  You have to fight for what is good.  You are good, and we love you.”  After gasping out her impassioned speech, Gracie bent over and grabbed her knees.  She seemed a bit short of air.

Alden, also breathing like he’d run a marathon, didn’t say a word until he had reached Sizzahl and put both arms around her neck.  He hugged her.

“You are like a daughter to us.  You even made more children for us.  You have to be here to help us raise them.”

Sizzahl wept.  She hugged Alden fiercely.  And Gracie came to them both to put her arms around both and turn it into a family group hug.

“Together.  We belong here more than we ever belonged on Earth.  We stand together for whatever comes next,” said Gracie.

Brekka felt Lester wrap a leaf around her as if he or she or it was also giving a hug.

*****

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