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Aeroquest… Canto 17

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Canto 17 – Wraiths and Pinwheels

      Trav was the kind of guy who easily gets led by the nose if a pretty woman decides she wants him to do something for her.  Dana Cole with her strawberry-blond hair and luminous blue eyes was perfect in the role of that kind of woman.  She got Trav from Flintstone land into the clutches of the dangerous and powerful Synthezoid, Sorcerer 3.  She got him to reveal the location of the Crown of Stars.  She led him by the nose to Sorcerer 3’s hidden starship in a back alley of a slum in the outskirts of Bedrock.

“We will help Sorcerer 3 by giving him the Crown of Stars, and then he will help us get the Hammer of God,” said Dana in Trav’s ear.

“Sounds good,” said Trav, nodding his doody-head stupidly.

“You know,” said the artificial man with a bright electrical spark orbiting his head, “The Crown really belongs to us anyway, since it was stolen from one of our starships at Mingo Downport.”

“Oh, well… ah…ah,” stuttered Trav, “It was actually Tron’s idea.  I’d never heard of Ancient artifacts before that.”

“Yes,” hissed the Synthezoid with a red spark in his pupil-less eyes, “we forgive you for that.”

The spaceship, hidden behind piles of trash cans, was a sleek black merchant clipper, built for traveling fast in the outer darkness and well-defended from pirates with an impressive weapons array.

Sorcerer 3 turned to face Rocko Slaghoople and his two goons, Thing and Thog.  “You know I don’t have room enough for the three of you in this ship.  You told me where to find the Hammer of God, and I need to make sure no one else finds out where it is.  I think it’s time I gave you your rightful reward as we discussed.

“Uh… Thank you,” said Rocko stupidly.

“How nice!  I rarely get thanked for this kind of service!”  He plucked an illegal Skortch Raygun out of his robe and popped the beam three times, once into the head of each of the three cavemen.  All three of them disintegrated with looks of ignorant surprise on their faces.

Trav was a great fan of extremely destructive weapons.  He recognized the weapon for what it was.

“Ooh!  Can I see that Skortch Ray?  I’ve always wanted one of those.  You do know they are illegal in the Galtorr Imperium?”

“Yes, Trav.  I know about Skortch Rays.  They come from a time when only the Telleron Frog People of the Planet Telleri could travel faster than light and that at a very slow pace.  You may not see it just now, however.   We are in a hurry.  I promise to show you exactly how it works after we have retrieved the Crown of Stars.”

“Well!  Let’s get there then, old Jester!”

The sleek black craft was up and out of the planetary gravity well in a matter of minutes.  It effortlessly pulled itself into docking range with the rebuilt space station.

“I’m impressed by what you did with the place in the short time you’ve been here,” said Sorcerer 3.

“Oh, I didn’t do much.  I got Frieda to do it for me!”

“Hmmm, tell me more about your invisible friend Frieda.”

“Oh, well, I…”

Suddenly they realized that the newly opened starport was surrounded by Pinwheel Corsairs.  Now, a Pinwheel Corsair is a deadly fighting vessel.  Each of the spinning pinwheel arms rotating around the cockpit bore a large, ship-to-ship laser.  The green beams could bore a hole in the side of its victims large enough to fly into, and boarding parties could deploy in vacuum suits.  The only defenses against pinwheel lasers were really thick ablative coatings that evaporated as they absorbed the laser fire, and really large sand-casters that could cloud space with opaque bits to block the rays.  Neither defense would work after the first couple of hits.

“So, Trav,” came the familiar voice over the commo system, “this is where you and the Aeros leaped to?”

“Ah!  Tron, old Jester!  I am so happy to see you here.”  Trav put on the view screen before Dana or Sorcerer could stop him.  The one-eyed face of Tron and the beautiful face of Maggie the Knife glared down at them.  “This is my new playmate, Sorcerer 3, and my girlfriend Dana Cole.”

Tron lifted an eyebrow at the sight of Trav’s new friends.  “You again!” He sighed.  “Goofy, you are playing with the worst kind of fire.”

“And you’re too near the dynamite, love,” added Maggie.

Three pinwheels opened up on the sleek black space clipper.  The boring beams came down from three different angles, blazing bright green light and deadly heat.  Then, by some miracle of technology, the skin of the black clipper absorbed it like a bikini babe soaks up sunlight on the beach.

“Hey, cool!” said Trav.  “How did you do that?  We should be dead by now.”

“Ah, no,” growled Sorcerer 3.  “Tron Blastarr is the one who needs to sweat now!”

Forty black ships materialized out of nowhere.  Wraith Corsairs!  They de-cloaked on cue and took Tron’s pirates by surprise.  Three pinwheels were blasted into debris and dust in seconds, before they could react.  Tron himself was moving from the moment he first spotted Sorcerer 3.  There was no better pilot than Tron Blastarr.  He immediately began taking the wraiths to school.

“Why don’t you just die, Tron?” said Sorcerer with a sneer.

“It’s still your turn, Sorcie, old buddy!” Tron growled back.

The battle had only just begun.


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Aeroquest… Adagio 5

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Adagio 5 – Psion Society

     Now, I told you before that I wasn’t a Psion myself.  I, Professor Googol Marou, expert on practically everything, must rely on testimony and speculation to tell you about the Psions themselves.  Strange people they are, with unnatural powers.  Oooh!  Spooky!  It’s little wonder the Galtorr Imperium was so deathly afraid of them.  Still, I suspect that Grand Admiral Brona Tang of the Imperium was himself a Psion, him and all of his clones.  So, I believe that the Imperium only feared Psions they couldn’t control.  It turns out that Ged and Ham were not the only ones to seek escape from persecution of Psions by leaping outside of known space.  It seems it had been going on for so long that an entire Psion Empire had blossomed in the stars just beyond the Imperial Border.

Of the nine billion people living on the planet Don’t Go Here, only a handful were Psions.  The few I came to know well seemed to originate from the cavern-world beneath the surface of the planet that bore more than two thirds of the dense population of the planet.

Most of the Psions in our galaxy lived on the worlds of Zanatas and Zarane in the Phoebus IV Star System.  It was a good 40 light years beyond Don’t Go Here in the Unknown Regions.  It took at least 10 Jumps in space to get there with a good starship, and the Don’t Go Hereians had no ships at all.  The Psion Colony Worlds were Tfriash, Kvarii VI, and Rhaskoo.  All three worlds were many light years further away.  You may have noticed that they are also hard to say.  They seemed to have a thing for names with too few vowels in them. Kinda like Poles and Czechs, I suppose.

So the fact that Don’t Go Here had a Psion Master living on it was nothing short of a miracle.  The thing is, though, that Tkriashav was himself capable of telepathy, teleportation, and clairvoyance.  He had been anticipating Ged Aero’s arrival on Don’t Go Here since well before he found himself marooned upon the planet.

I like Tkriashav.  I count him as a friend of mine.  But I find him creepy in many ways.  It is very unsettling to be around someone who can, in a sudden flash of insight, at any moment reveal to you the manner and place of your death.  Oooh!  Spooky again!  Some things I really wish I didn’t know.

Tkriashav had been the mentor and teacher of several Psions as he lived on the planet Don’t Go Here.  He had brought his sister’s family along on the space voyage that had resulted in his being marooned on the planet.  Young Friashquazatl, Freddie they called him, was a shape-changer like Ged.  He was Tkriashav’s nephew and Tkriashav had raised him since he was an infant, teaching him to control his power.

Tara Salongi, the beautiful girl who saved Ged’s life the first time he completely transformed into another species, was a gifted telepath.  Tkriashav had taught her how to use her mind power to heal and to help.  She was probably the one student he was proudest of.  Bam-Bam Salongi’s only daughter was destined to be one of the most important Psions in the history of known space.  That should raise some tremendous expectations in your humble imaginations.

The Psions themselves were only about two percent of the population of their own empire, but their planets were fertile and heavily populated.  A large number of people with mind powers were available there to accomplish things that ordinary people could only dream of doing.  Therefore, one has to conclude that Ged Aero was not only the right man on the right planet at the right time, but gifted with the right powers and teaching skills as well.  Teaching skills, you say?  Yes, he was a scout, a hunter, a spacer, and a psion before he met Tkriashav.  But after meeting him, he became the most important teacher in all of known space.



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A Perfect Old Book… The Distant Hours


This book, purchased for two dollars off the sale cart at Half-Price Books, was one of the most pleasant surprises I have ever had in my reading life. I knew when I picked it up that it was not a perfect fit for me. It is a Gothic romance tragedy, possible even in a black-and-white-movie sense a horror story. It is a story for women, written by a woman, and all the most important characters, except the man who is murdered, are women. It is definitely not a story for crotchety old men like me, even though the Mud-man is a classic Gothic horror tale monster.  I can relate to that.

But I will not give away any of the convoluted plot. No spoilers here. For it is not the plot that makes this a truly great read. It is the language, the beautiful, insightful, passionate language that links my very soul to the souls of the characters in this story. Three elderly sisters live in a rotting old English castle that once belonged to their father, a famous author who created the novel The True History of the Mud Man. A much younger woman comes along and discovers she has a secret relationship to the castle through her mother who was sent to live in the castle as a child during the London Blitz in World War Two. The characters are so well developed, you can see them breathe. They are real people in a way that real people, especially mysterious real people, always present you with a mystery to be solved. Who are they really? What did they actually do? Which part of what they said to you is true? And which are the lies? And there was a murder? It happened in the past? We didn’t even know he was missing. Where is he now? And what did a monster character in a beloved old book have to do with it? Okay, I promised you no answers to any of those questions. But if you feel already like you simply have to know, well, that’s the magic in this story. You will fall in love with Edie Burchill and her mother. And also the Blythe sisters, Percy, Saffy, and Juniper. And the story will leave you devastated, the way it did me. Test me and see if I’m merely telling hoo-haws. You will not regret it.

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Justifying The Existence of Aeroquest

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The question may arise if anyone who wasn’t forced to read the novel Aeroquest because they have the misfortune of being my relative ever actually reads the book, “Why did you ever write such a gawd-awful thing?”

The truth is, I didn’t write it, not by myself at any rate.  The essential plot of the novel is such a jumbled mess because the story is lifted directly from a game of Traveller, an RPG from Game Designer’s Workshop.  The basic characters in the novel were all player characters.  Their design and personalities are created by adolescent boys in the 80’s and the paths they chose in the story strongly reflect the chaos of youth.

The Aero Brothers, Ged and Ham were both created by one of my favorite students of all time.  I will refer to him here as Armando Carrizales, though that was not his real name.  I am trying to explain the novel here, not mortify an adult former student living somewhere in Texas, or even elsewhere.  Armando’s idea was to use Star Wars characters.  Hamfast Aero was actually Han Solo in the game.  And when Armando wanted to create an all-powerful psionic character, he created brother Ged Solo, using the first name of Larry Winslow’s character Ged Stryker (And Larry did not know how to spell “Jed”).  Because I really liked Armando, and he was bright, creative, and a good problem solver, I eventually chose his characters as the main characters of the novel.  He was good at organizing expeditions, collecting gear and matching it to the purpose in the adventure before him.  But you do need more than heroes for an adventure game, or for a novel.

Emilio Jalapeno was a very different kind of kid, but also Armando’s real-life best friend.  He was a skinny kid with a goofy grin, and was always ready with a joke or prank that would either make you laugh, or make you palm your forehead and consider murder.  His first Traveller character lasted all of fifteen minutes because he decided he wanted to take his shiny new pistol and kill everyone on the entire planet they were on.  That character, whose name I have forgotten, was actually gunned down by his own adventuring party.  So Emilio had to start again.

He created the character Trav Dalgoda.  He got the name from the first syllable of the Traveller game and a name he spotted on the cover of a magazine laying on the table.  Trav was simply Emilio in an RPG form.  He wanted to have an eye patch like a pirate, but he wanted to have two eyes.  He wanted to wear wide ties with messages on them, like a cartoon screw next to a baseball.  And he dearly loved to blow things up.  A time would come in the adventure where he had access to really big weapons, and we had to let him experiment with killing everybody on an entire planet.  This, then, was the needed comedy relief that kept us laughing through shared adventures.  And Trav’s ability to get into really big trouble would eventually drive the plot forward.

Sinbadh the Lupin, a dog-headed humanoid alien, was also Emilio’s character.  The fact that he based his entire character on talking like a pirate from Treasure Island was a source of endless hilarity.


Tron Blastarr, the scar-faced villain, was created by Armando again.  There was a time when Larry Winslow wanted to create a villain character in the most desperate way possible.  But the evil villain Mantis, who was really just a living head on a robotic body, and the enigmatic psionic Xavier Trkiashav never really got their chance to be truly villainous.  One became a laughable boob while the other became a hero and the leader of the Psionics Institute.  Tron, however, was a perfect pirate.  He led the band of adventurers on merry chase after looping, curling space chase, eventually becoming the first player character to get married and have children.  He retired as a villain with a fleet of stolen space ships, and a planet (the airless world Outpost1) as his pirate treasure.

So, to claim I wrote the novel Aeroquest on my own is to completely overlook my collaborators.  It is a mess of a comedy sci-fi novel that I am still trying to iron out and rewrite, but it is also a story I shared with some who were very near to my writer’s heart.

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Aeroquest… Canto 14

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Canto 14 – Sorcerer 3


Trav thought this Dana Cole girl was hot stuff.  She seemed to like him.  She talked nice to him.  She made him feel at home in Slaghoople Manor.  She looked really sexy in a fake fur bikini.

“So,” she said, “your name is Trav Dalgoda and you seek the fabled Hammer of God.  Why do you seek it here?”

Trav slouched back comfortably on the synthetic rock sofa.  “My friend Frieda told me it was here.”

“Who is this Frieda?”

“Oh, she was my invisible friend in third grade at school on the planet Questor.  No one else could see her, but she was always nice to me.”

Dana took his hand and slipped an electronic ring on his finger.

“What’s this, then?”

“That is a little something to help me get to know you,” she said.  “Now, you say this friend was invisible?  Did others think you were crazy?”

“Well, yes.  Actually, I sometimes thought I was crazy myself.  It’s hard to believe anyone as handsome as me could be as truly wonderful as I tend to be.”

“He speaks truthfully,” said a tiny voice from the ring on Trav’s finger.  “At least he believes it is so.”

“How interesting,” said Dana.  “I know a man named Count Appleby that you must meet some day.”

“Is he wonderful too?”

“Oh, yes.  He believes he’s the reincarnation of Napoleon.”

“Who would that be?”

“Didn’t you study ancient history back on the planet Questor?”

“Oh!  Well, I…  You know, sometimes there isn’t enough time for study when you’re growing up to become one of the most important men in the Milky Way!”

“He is now untruthful,” said the ring.

“Well, isn’t that something!” marveled Trav, ogling the talking ring.

“Here comes the boss,” said Dana in a purr of dark intent.

“Oh, good!” said Trav.

Rocko Slaghoople was a balding, but massively-muscled cave man who looked quite dangerous.  His brutish face had but one thick eyebrow across his beady-eyed visage.  His powerful arms looked like they were dragging on the floor.  His arms seemed even longer than his legs.

Traveling next to Rocko on metal legs came a white-robed Synthezoid, or artificial man.  His soulless white eyes had no pupils and his head came to a point like some kind of conehead.

“Hello, boss,” said Dana Cole.

“Hello, my beauty,” answered the Synthezoid.

“Hello, Mr. Rocko,” said Trav.  “I understand that you might know something about the Hammer of God.”

“Whu…?” grunted Slaghoople.

“The Hammer of God!  The Ancient artifact!  Everyone says you’re the man to see about such things.”  Trav’s voice cracked with sudden desperation.

Rocko looked stupidly at the Synthezoid.

“Yes,” said the artificial man, “and my intel claims that you know something about the Crown of Stars.  Weren’t you with the infamous Tron Blastarr when he stole it?”

“Well, I…”

“I am even told that you came away with the item.”

“Who… who are you?”

“I am called Sorcerer 3, and I am your new partner in this little quest.”


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Aeroquest… Canto 13

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Canto 13 – Dino-Man


Fred 3576 was tied to one side of the tree, his girlfriend Wilma456 was trussed to the other side.  Their pet, Dino6476 was laid out dead and ready for skinning, much too dangerous to try to keep as a live captive.  The two cave youths looked at Ged with large, fearful eyes.

“I can’t wear that!” moaned Ham, looking at the fur loincloth young Fred was wearing.

The Nebulon Princess grinned at Ham.  It began to dawn on all of them that she now understood the words being spoken around her.  Ham blushed.

“We have to find that clown of yours before he can do some real damage.  Unless you think you can do the riding beast, you are going to have to use what that boy is wearing as your disguise.”

“Ged?  What are you going to do about the riding beast?”  Ham seemed nervous about the grim determination he obviously saw on Ged’s face.  Ged could tell just by looking that what came next was going to traumatize Hamfast Aero.

“I’m going to skin and eat this thing.”

Ged’s environment suit was laid aside.  Ged sat down next to the dead raptor with his lectroknife.  The blade shimmered with barely controlled energy.  He slit the beast open from throat to groin.  He quickly peeled back the hide, and then spent about half an hour stretching and preserving the hide on the gray ironwood frame he made from tree branches.  The meat he carved off was eaten raw with special cat teeth he grew in order to eat the meat.  Then he began to analyze and absorb.  Complex DNA patterns formed in his inner eye.  He had never gone further than imagining this process before, yet he knew he could achieve it.  He ate more as he began to change. The skin of his face split at the nose ridge and fell away to reveal scales.  The bones of his face began to elongate into raptor form.  The more he changed, the more he felt the need to eat.  As his own previous flesh sloughed off, he had to replenish his own mass with the flesh of the raptor.  After another twenty minutes, Ged Aero had become a dinosaur, a Dionysian velociraptor.

Just as Ged had imagined, Ham was nearly in shock over the transformation.  He’d seen Ged grow scales here and there, and change color a few times.  He’d even seen the fangs grow in once or twice.  But this was the first time Ged had let anyone else witness how completely his ability allowed him to change form.  He knew it was disgusting and awful to watch, but he felt the time had come to reveal what he could truly do.

“Ged?  How did you…?”

“Truly amazin’ Bucko!” Sinbadh gasped.

The Princess took Ham in hand and made sure he followed through with the plan.  She stripped the captured Fred of his Bam-Bam shorts and then undressed Ham, before putting the caveman disguise on him.  Ham was too far gone to protest or be embarrassed.

“Thaank you, Princesssss,” said the velociraptor that was Ged Aero.  “You and Sssinbadh ssstay and guard the prisonerssss.”

The Princess firmly shook her head no.  She stripped the girl of her Raquel Welch 1,000,000 B.C. bikini and put it on.  Her small son she stripped naked.  “We go,” was all she said.

Ham mounted on Ged’s saurian back and the Princess got up behind him.  The little blue boy was wedged safely in between them.

“What is to become of us?” cried young Fred3576.  “You killed our Dino.  You can’t just leave us here in the wild naked and tied up!”

“No harm will come to you,” hissed Ged.  “Sssinbadh will ssstay and guard you.”

“Blimey!  Ya kin count on me, Cap’n.  As long as ye don’t eat me.  I am yer faithful dog!  Space dog, that is!”

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Aeroquest… Adagio 4

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Adagio 4 – Don’t Go Here

I have to tell you, brilliant as I am, I will probably never figure out the reasons for the existence of things like the Bedrock Culture of the planet, Don’t Go Here.  I do know that the first colony that archeologists uncovered from there was a back-to-nature group that had a weird religion that insisted they reject all modern technology.  After a number of years, their culture began to be inundated with marooned starship passengers by the Stardog Corsairs.  It was claimed that the only entertainment that had been left to them were a handful of cartoon holovids and one holovid player.  The Flintstones took on a kind of religious significance among the growing population of the planet.

Evidence clearly indicates that the first colonists were Galtorrian refugees from the planet Dionysus.  They were a group of Galtorr/Human Fusions, Earthers, and a group of humanoid saurians known as Dions on Dionysus.  You know what that mix looks like, right?  Lizard men and half-lizard-men with humans mixed in.  They brought with them saurian pets and work animals of the kind usually referred to in Galactic English as the dinosaurs.  They also brought numerous Dionysian plants.

Now, Dions are not accustomed to wearing clothing anywhere but in space.  They have natural scale armor and even their private parts and prehensile tails are covered by living leather and scales.  That’s a fashion choice that makes me cringe a little.  The humans who came with them were dedicated to the idea that it was only right to wear as little clothing as they could get away with in honor of their Dion friends.  Even the primitive monkey people who were brought along as slaves, those peculiar furry pygmies known as Lemurians, were taught to wear nothing beyond the occasional synthetic fur.

I guess it only made sense when this back-to-nature group with their cartoonish ways and chosen primitive lifestyle were mixed with castaways from all over, and marooned spacers stripped of all tech gear, they were bound to mutate into a blended culture unlike any that had grown up anywhere else.


For clothing, a few electrical material synthesizers were created from scrounged parts of the scuttled colonial ships.  Thus, synthetic furs could be manufactured for clothing, since organic material was plentiful, but furred animals didn’t exist on the planet.  Synthesized stone-foam wads could be easily hollowed out to make stone homes that looked almost exactly like the homes in the Flintstones holovids.

The fake orange furs with black triangles on them came to be known as Fredsuits.  White fur dresses became known as Wilma Skins.  Blue fur went into Bettypelts, and Brown was for Barneysuits.  Bam-Bam Shorts and Pebblespelts, also known as Bonehead Skins, rounded out the major styles.  Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, Pebbles and Bam-Bam became the most common names chosen by colonists and castaways alike.  They began to distinguish themselves from one another by adding numbers to their names.  Most ridiculous of all, the most common vehicle developed by the highly imitative culture was the foot-powered car.  They gave up all practical value in order to imitate the cartoon show.

By the time the Aero Brothers arrived, the culture of the planet Don’t Go Here had degenerated into something unparalleled in history and monumentally silly.


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