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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

SKY PIRATES:Part15

by John Shirley




Most of the Kastillian overseers were in hiding from the Veln. There was only one guard at the armory: Blust was just inside, when the escaped slaves arrived, their overseer standing with his back to the door, talking into a headset communicator and hefting a hand cannon as he told the other guards: "If you fools don't come out of the forest and meet me at the armory I'll see to it that you're all jailed for treasonous insubordination! I don't care if the Veln are still patrolling the area--what do you think you're going to do in the forest, live on grubs? We need to regroup and for that you'll need ammunition! Now meet me at…"

He broke off as he turned toward the door--and saw Jann standing there, smiling faintly, staring unblinkingly at him. "Careful, Jann!" Ivan said. "He's got a hand cannon!"

"He hasn't put a clip into it," Jann said casually. "It's not loaded."

Blust looked down in horror at the gun--then looked around desperately at the racks of weapons for something ready to use. Jann chose that moment to lunge, slamming his right shoulder into Blust's solar plexus. Blust grunted and staggered backward, falling with Jann atop him. Jann fastened his hands on Blust's throat and squeezed. Blust tried to batter at him with the butt of the weapon but Ivan, chuckling, wrestled it away from him.

"How well I remember the time he 'lashed me until I was out cold!" Ivan said. "Let me at him for awhile, Jann!"

But pent-up rage was taut in Jann's fingers. He couldn't let go until long after Blust ceased to move.

As he stood, he noticed that he didn't feel much better, seeing Blust dead. He could only think, He's just the first one. There's Drumm…there are others…There is a whole planet that must pay...


#


The raid on the armory had yielded more weapons than the escaped slaves needed. Twenty-four hours rest in a secluded spot in the woods had restored most of Jann's strength, and he was sitting cross-legged in late afternoon sun, in a small clearing with Moss, Ivan, and Dribney. Twenty-two others lolled in the shade nearby; a few stood sentry; all of them awaited his orders. Rallying the slaves had come easily now that word of the coming collars had gotten around. But he found himself wondering, again, how he had become their leader.

Could he live up to it? Jann had serious doubts--he'd lost a lot of confidence in himself after what had happened on Paradine. He had let Vonn down--and by extension, his mother. And they'd died because of the decisions he'd made. How could he make decisions for these men?

He had no clear idea what to do next. The Veln were still looting the planet, the Kastillians were still a danger--for their survivors had gone to ground, too, and once the Veln had gone the Kastillians would come looking for the slaves. Perhaps any minute now.

There were navigators and technicians, amongst his men--if they could but steal a starcraft, there might be a way to organize a series of strikes at the Kastillians. If he released slaves--he could also recruit slaves.

But he could do nothing until he found out what had become of Delphine. Foolish or not, it was how he felt. Was she still alive? That explosion…A servant from Gangtofen's estate who'd escaped the Veln had told Moss that Delphine was away, with Gangtofen, at the time of the explosion…But the Veln were raiding across the planet…Anything might've happened to her. Foolish to obsess on a woman he didn't really know. And yet…

"Jann!" hissed one of the sentries. "Someone's coming!"

Jann signaled for silence and the rebels slipped into the forest, hiding to either side of the thin trail. A tall, broad shouldered, bushy haired figure came swaggering up the trail, unarmed. The little green primate Jann had seen in the forest was riding, like a pet, on the Centauran's shoulder. "You fools can come out of hiding!" Derv called. "It's just me!"

Jann stepped out onto the trail, smiling. "Derv--you got away from Oraclis?"

"There's a surprising story in that..."

"How'd you find us?"

"Easy for a Centauran--you clumsy oafs leave a trail a Centauran infant could follow!"

"Ha!" said the little primate. "Fools! And I could smell them much afar! How could we miss them, with such a smell!"

"Not much chance for bathing hereabouts," said Moss. "What became of you, Derv? And who's your, ah, little friend?"

"This fellow? This is Remple…Well, let me sit in the shade, and I'll tell you...after that day they nailed me with the trank gun..."


#


Derv had awakened in a comfortable room, in bed. A small creature was crouched on the end of the bed--Remple. The little green tentacled primate advised Derv to eat the food set out beside him. At first he was afraid to eat, so Remple ate some, showing it wasn't drugged or poisoned.

"Boss will be here, soon," Remple told him, as Derv ate.

"Boss? Who's that?"

"Why, the one who saved you from the plantation! Oraclis! My boss!" The primate thumped his small chest. "He raise me! I am his number one spy!" He had been raised from earliest infancy and trained by Oraclis.

"Are you the result of one of his…his experiments--perhaps a brain transplant?" Derv had asked fearfully, thinking of Oraclis' reputation. Remple was insulted by this.

"There are no experiments," Oraclis had said, coming in. Without his lens-eyes, his ridiculous makeup and supercilious expression, Oraclis looked quite different. And talked differently--because he was not now "in character," as he put it. He explained to Derv that the experiments were a myth he himself had spread to create a fearful image for himself; to discourage snooping. The stories of terrifying scientific experiments kept the Kastillians at bay.

"But--what of me?" Derv had asked.

"We will help you escape…which brings me to my real project. A secret project--of quite another sort."

He told Derv of his true agenda, swearing him to secrecy. Oraclis was in fact a spy for a group of Kastillians opposed to slavery. Like Delphine, he was secretly a Kastillian abolitionist. He maintained a certain effete veneer to deceive the Kastillian high command.


#


...Listening to Derv in the forest, Jann sat up straight and stared at him. "About Delphine--did you say she's against slavery? She works with Oraclis?"

"So Oraclis says," Derv said, nodding. "She always did seem to find a way to help us, you remember, talking rings around that dolt Gangtofen. Then on the sly, she and Oraclis smuggled out half a dozen escaped slaves over the last few years."

The men crowded around Derv gasped and shook their heads in wonder. Dribney said it for them: "Oraclis--that weird old goggle-eye…helping slaves to escape!"

Derv nodded ruefully. "Oraclis took a chance telling me--but it was so that I could work with him. Because of the slave collars he thought there had to be a mass escape, and I might help arrange it--but then came the attack of the Veln, and chaos! He sent me to find you, and he went to find Delphine…I guess he took some kind of transport with her and Gangtofen, to escape the Veln! I went back to the camp to find you--and followed your tracks here. I had to dodge a patrol of Kastillians--I was hiding from them…but they were hiding from the Veln!"

The escaped slaves guffawed at that.

"But there's bleak news, Jann," Derv went on earnestly. "I heard the Kastillians talking as they passed, while I hid in the brush. Gangtofen, Oraclis and Lady Delphine have been taken...by the Veln! Their transport was intercepted, and the Veln have take it over. Delphine and Oraclis are being held hostage in the captured Kastillian ship." He smiled crookedly. "The patrol was concerned about it--because after paying a ransom Gangtofen might not be able to pay their salaries."

"They're in a Kastillian starcraft?" Jann asked, his pulse racing. "Is it in orbit?"

"From what I could make out, it landed about seven miles south of here. The Veln are waiting for a ransom to come through. If they don't get it, and soon--they'll kill Delphine and Oraclis." After a moment he added, "Oh--and Gangtofen."

Jann stood up and looked at the escaped slaves. "A Kastillian ship, boys, is just what we need--to get out of this wretched paradise…"




Click Here for Part 16, the final installment of SKY PIRATES, by John Shirley

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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's
NINE TENTHS OF THE LAW

Sean Padlo's
GRANDPA'S LAST REQUEST

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
are never able to be fully
pinned down, but what we
do know about him is laced
with the echoes of legend.
He's already been known
to haunt certain areas of
the landscape, a trick said
to only be possible by being
able to manipulate it from
the future. His presence
among the rest of us here
at the freezine sends shivers
of fear deep in our solar plexus.


Konstantine Paradias & Edward
Morris's HOW THE GODS KILL


Konstantine Paradias's
SACRI-FEES

Konstantine Paradias is a writer by
choice. At the moment, he's published
over 100 stories in English, Japanese,
Romanian, German, Dutch and
Portuguese and has worked in a free-
lancing capacity for videogames, screen-
plays and anthologies. People tell him
he's got a writing problem but he can,
like, quit whenever he wants, man.
His work has been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize.

Edward Morris's
ONE NIGHT IN MANHATTAN


Edward Morris's
MERCY STREET

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.


Tim Fezz's
BURNT WEENY SANDWICH

Tim Fezz's
MANY SILVERED MOONS AGO

Tim Fezz hails out of the shattered
streets of Philly destroying the air-
waves and people's minds in the
underground with his band OLD
FEZZIWIG. He's been known to
dip his razor quill into his own
blood and pen a twisted tale
every now and again. We are
delighted to have him onboard
the FREEZINE and we hope
you are, too.

Daniel E. Lambert's
DEAD CLOWN AND MAGNET HEAD


Daniel E. Lambert teaches English
at California State University, Los
Angeles and East Los Angeles College.
He also teaches online Literature
courses for Colorado Technical
University. His writing appears
in Silver Apples, Easy Reader,
Other Worlds, Wrapped in Plastic
and The Daily Breeze. His work
also appears in the anthologies
When Words Collide, Flash It,
Daily Flash 2012, Daily Frights
2012, An Island of Egrets and
Timeless Voices. His collection
of poetry and prose, Love and
Other Diversions, is available
through Amazon. He lives in
Southern California with his
wife, poet and author Anhthao Bui.

Phoenix's
AGAIN AND AGAIN

Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he
was a little kid. He finds much import-
ance and truth in creative expression.
Phoenix has written over sixty books,
and has published everything from
novels, to poetry and philosophy.
He hopes to inspire people with his
writing and to ask difficult questions
about our world and the universe.
Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
where he spends much of his time
reading books on science, philosophy,
and literature. He spends a good deal
of his free time writing and working
on new books. The Freezine of Fant-
asy and Science Fiction welcomes him
and his unique, intense vision.
Discover Phoenix's books at his author
page on Amazon. Also check out his blog.

Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL & SIR
FRANCIS DRAKE



Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee. He has been
a Romantic poet for as long as any-
one can remember, specializing in
the composition of spectral balladry,
utilizing to great effect a traditional
poetic form that taps into the haunted
undercurrents of folklore seldom found
in other forms of writing.
His poetry has appeared on the pages
of such publications as SPECTRAL
REALMS and BLACK WINGS OF
CTHULHU, and a poem of his,
"The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,"
won the Rhysling Award for long-form
poetry. His collection of weird balladry
and Jack tales, THE LAY OF OLD HEX,
was published by Hippocampus Press in 2017.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S
MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
following books: Ring of Fire (Eraserhead
Press, 2018), Flesh Trade (co-written
w/Edward Morris; published by Create-
Space, 2017), Punk Rock Ghost Story
(Deadite Press, 2016), Amazing Punk
Stories (Eraserhead Press, 2016),
Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich (Eraserhead
Press, 2014), Hunting the Moon Tribe
(Eraserhead Press, 2011), The Vegan
Revolution...with Zombies (Eraserhead
Press, 2010), and Screams from a Dying
World (Afterbirth Books, 2009).
David is a hardcore vegan and tireless
environmentalist. His contributions to
the punk horror scene and the planet in
general have already established him
as a bright new writer and activist to
watch out for. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance.

Sanford Meschkow's
INEVITABLE

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
Main Line girl. Sanford has been pub-
lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE RECIDIVIST



Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's
THE MEMORY SECTOR

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
resides in the high desert of Phoenix,
Arizona where he enjoys campy horror
movies within the comfort of an Insane
Asylum. Search for his science fiction
stories at The Intestinal Fortitude in
the Flesheater's World section.
The Memory Sector is his first
appearance in the Freezine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's
NOETIC VACATIONS

Little is known of the mysterious
Owen R. Powell (oftentimes referred
to as Orp online). That is because he
usually keeps moving. The story
Noetic Vacations marks his first
appearance in the Freezine.

Gene Stewart
(writing as Art Wester)
GROUND PORK


Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
American Wilderness where he is
researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
the shadows. Follow this link to his
website where there are many samples
of his writing and much else; come
explore.

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
Audio Anthology, The Tide Pool, and
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.
When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found here.


Paul Stuart's
SEA?TV!


Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.


Rain Grave's
MAU BAST


Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
Poetry Collection, The Gossamer Eye
(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
Written in Dark Bars and Questionable
Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's
Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..."
in January of 2009. She lives and
writes in San Francisco, performing
spoken word at events around the
country. 877-DRK-POEM -



Icy Sedgwick's
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN


Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK
but dreams of the Old West. Her current
works include a ghost story about a Cavalier
and a Western tale of retribution. Find her
ebooks, free weekly fiction and other
shenanigans at Icy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.


Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth
with LIPSTICK



BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
Singer, Songwriter, producer &
founder of the notorious DWARVES.
He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and
‘ARMED to the TEETH with LIPSTICK’.


G. Alden Davis's
THE FOLD


G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
in high school, and received a creative
writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over
25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis
is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.
He's also the best friend I ever had. He
was taken away from us last year on Jan
25 and I'll never be able to understand why.
Together we were a fantastic duo, the
legendary Grub Bros. Our secret base
exists on a cross-hatched nexus between
the Year of the Dragon and Dark City.
Somewhere along the tectonic fault
lines of our electromagnetic gathering,
shades of us peel off from the coruscating
pillars and are dropped back into the mix.
The phrase "rest in peace" just bugs me.
I'd rather think that Greg Grub's inimitable
spirit somehow continues evolving along
another manifestation of light itself, a
purple shift shall we say into another
phase of our expanding universe. I
ask myself, is it wishful thinking?
Will we really shed our human skin
like a discarded chrysalis and emerge
shimmering on another wavelength
altogether--or even manifest right
here among the rest without their
even beginning to suspect it? Well
people do believe in ghosts, but I
myself have long been suspicious
there can only be one single ghost
and that's all the stars in the universe
shrinking away into a withering heart
glittering and winking at us like
lost diamonds still echoing all their
sad and lonely songs fallen on deaf
eyes and ears blind to their colorful
emanations. My grub brother always
knew better than what the limits
of this old world taught him. We
explored past the outer peripheries
of our comfort zones to awaken
the terror in our minds and keep
us on our toes deep in the forest
in the middle of the night. The owls
led our way and the wilderness
transformed into a sanctuary.
The adventures we shared together
will always remain tattooed on
the pages of my skin. They tell a
story that we began together and
which continues being woven to
this very day. It's the same old
story about how we all were in
this together and how each and
every one of us is also going away
someday and though it will be the far-
thest we can manage to tell our own
tale we may rest assured it will be
continued like one of the old pulp
serials by all our friends which survive
us and manage to continue
the saga whispering in the wind.

Shae Sveniker's
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
REGARDING THE BEHAVIOR
OF PLANT LIFE


Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on
Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.


Nigel Strange's
PLASTIC CHILDREN


Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
in their home in California where he
occasionally experiments recreationally
with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN
is his first publication.


J.R. Torina's
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT


J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
house ('90-'97), runs Sutekh Productions
(an industrial-ambient music label) and
Slaughterhouse Records (metal record
label), and was proprietor of The Abyss
(a metal-gothic-industrial c.d. shop in
SLC, now closed). He is the dark force
behind Scapegoat (an ambient-tribal-
noise-experimental unit). THE HOUSE
IN THE PORT is his first publication.


K.B. Updike, Jr's
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE


K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free:
(We are not certain if K.B. Updike, Jr.
has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)