Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
 
Editorial    
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Forum
Flash Writing Challenge
Forum
Dan's Promo Page
   

Voyages of the Earthship Horus:

Gangsters

by Michael Joseph


Burping, gurgling, squealing and spewing noises reminiscent of certain human bodily functions, the Mjian Proctor, planetary gangster, communicated with Xao, my alien grey telepath. Xao relayed the Mjian's thoughts to my mind while pretending to interpret verbally. We were here to get rid of a contraband load of irradiated silicon crystals bought with the reward diamonds from planet La Miria.

I'm Captain Plato Zhoth of the Earthship Horus. Molly, my seven-foot tall navigator, had dropped us off on the planet Velious Ictus, then taken the Horus into hiding on the far side of the third moon. I knew that she would find cover in the frozen rock somewhere. The message to this Proctor dude was, I had the crystals and I wanted the agreed upon payment.

The name of the slimy blob of sentient protoplasm telepathically relayed to me sounded like "ooogu-boogoo" or something like that. I couldn't pronounce it so I just called him "Jelly-belly". It seemed that Jelly-belly wanted to renege on the deal. Promised a cargo hold of platinum electron emitters, it looked like he didn't have the payment. He told us that the cobalt ones were just as good. Xao relayed the thoughts of planet gangster. He had something up his sleeve, or should I say slime covering.

"Yesterday's technology," I yelled as Xao interpreted. "We had a deal. Platinum emitters or we walk." Then I turned to leave.

Bubbling gurgles punctuated the franticly waving slimy tentacles. I figured, without interpretation, that he was not to happy to hear my answer. Xao tried to schmooze him with sweet talk and a veiled telepathic suggestion. From the way the Mjian relaxed, I thought we had him on our side.

He blasted his reply in my mind. "You try to fool me, eh? You think I cannot tell that your pet is a mind reader?" The bastard not only knew we probed him, but now turned the tables. Jelly-belly was a telepath and an extremely strong one.

He sent waves of searing pain driving me to my knees. I saw Xao suffered from the same dose of whup ass. From behind the Proctor, a couple reptilian goons swaggered toward us armed with pain induction whips. Blue flashes lit the dim back street with each crack of the whip. At the rear, a couple more blocked our exit. The goons closed in as the pain from the mental torture receded.

"Tell the Jelly-belly we are out of here." I told Xao.

He made squeaks and grunts, sounds no human throat could muster, relaying my message. I knew that he could read our thoughts. The vocal message was for his lizard goons.

"I think not, human," said one of the reptilians in common tongue. "The boys and me ain't ate this week and we love humans. That one there would make a nice desert."

"Crack!" went the whip; the smell of ozone permeated the air.

In the dark alley, it looked like he rose about seven feet in the air, as a livid lady obviously didn't like his attitude. That would be Molly. Twirling him like a gyro, she launched him over our heads into the other two. Two spotted human felines sprang from the darkness, ripping reptile flesh from bone in a heartbeat. That would be Lilliph and Dolphie. The fourth goon tried to run only to be snatched by Molly and tossed to the "Kitty Sisters", twin half-human, and half-cheetah clones.

Jelly-Belly was not happy. He tried mind torture on us, only to have it interrupted. His face became puke green and waves rippled through his viscous facial expression. From the shadows came Little Plato, the orphan the kitty sisters adopted on planet La Miria. Hands stretching out, staring at the slime ball, Little Plato's mental power was too much for the Proctor. Jelly-belly beat a hasty retreat before being reduced to a blob of quivering protoplasm. Xao looked at the youngster with pride. After all, he had been the child's mentor for years as we traveled to this planet.

"Figured you'd get yourself in trouble," said Molly.

"Thanks, I owe you"

"Again," interjected Molly. "Lilliph and Dolphie needed to stretch their legs so we shuttled down. Thought Little Plato might like to see the sights. He picked up a telepathic cry for help from Xao. Lucky for you we were near. You'd be dinner for those lizards."

Lilliph and Dolphie strolled over to where we were standing and checked out their adopted boy, Plato. He was about twelve, now. We took turns using the sleep tubes while he was maturing so he would grow up normally, well at least somewhat normally.

"Hello, girls,"

"Hi, Captain Plato," they simultaneously purred.

"Did you see our little boy?" said Lilliph.

"He's so grown-up," said Dolphie. She pawed his hair like a mother cat and her kitten. He shrugged and pulled away.

"Come on!" whispered Little Plato. "Not in front of everybody. They'll think I'm still a little boy."

A long, black limousine hover car lumbered up to where we stood. The darkened window lowered and a rough looking thug stuck his hand out, putting a communicator in mine.

"Da boss wants to talk wit ya', use dat maybe in a couple hours, if you're still breathin'. By da way, dere was a few more of dem lizards headed dis way. De're just over da hill."

Then the limo sped off. We beat a hasty retreat to the shuttle and headed in a roundabout way to the ship.

####

"Betty, what do we have on the planet's criminal organizations?" I queried the ship's computer as a holograph of the 1940's pin-up, Betty Page, shimmered into view. I just love those nylons with seams up the back.

"Hello, Captain Plato. I accessed the planet's municipal security police computer and found a number of organizations competing for domination of the underground economy. It seems there is a culture of violence much like earth in the 1920's.

"Wait...a signal is following my beam...sorry, Captain. They found us," as Betty dematerialized; another hologram took its place.

"Who? What the hell?"

"I'm Inspector Deaton, New Chicago city." The hologram was of a police detective, not Jelly-belly, as I feared.

"I would like to know what you are doing projecting your image on my ship?"

"For one, your computer accessed files by hijacking my computer through the rather complex security program. It was put in place so certain elements of our society couldn't do what you just did."

"Get to the point, Inspector," said Molly.

The chief engineer, Opus Capesius, entered the bridge followed by the ship's doctor, Dr. Ail-Mer. They wondered what all of the commotion was about.

"My sources say that you had a run in with a Mjian named..."

"Yeah, yeah! I know his name. Just call him 'Jelly-Belly' for now. So, what about it? Maybe I did, maybe I didn't."

"We found what was left of a few of his crew, or at least we think they were his. There wasn't much left."

"I'm listening."

"I'd like to meet with you later today, say sunset at a little place by the waterfront."

"I have two questions for you, Inspector: Do they have beer, and are you buying."

Betty received the coordinates and I ordered Lilliph and Dolphie to change from their sexy leather outfits to something more appropriate. Planet info files showed the waterfront to be a rough place. Molly shuttled us from the ship to a space dock near the waterfront pier and stayed close to the com. We walked to the pier trying to blend in with the wharf rats and swabbies. Dockworkers shuttled cargo back and forth. Floppy hats and baggy clothes hid the curvaceous bodies of the girls while greasy coveralls from my cabin allowed me to blend in perfectly.

"Hey! You there!" said a dockie. Well, maybe not so perfectly.

"Girls, keep your heads down. Don't get too excited. Remember, we're here to visit our brother," I whispered.

"You," he said again, this time pointing his finger at me. "You're new. You belong to the union? No work gets done here without union workers. You might get in some real trouble if you try."

A group of scruffy looking workers gathered around while the union agent accosted us. It looked like the girls were getting nervous. I glance at their hands and their long, sharp claws were beginning to appear.

"That's okay, Jake," said a voice from the rear. "They're with me."

The inspector parted the crowd while the agent said, "Sure, Inspector. Just make sure they don't do no work.

"Okay, show's over. Come on, break it up!" said the agent dispersing the crowd.

"I'll say this for you, Zhoth, you got balls coming here through that crowd," said the inspector. "You should have come here through the front like everyone else."

"I don't know if it takes balls as much as a secret security team. Say 'hi' to the inspector, girls."

Lilliph and Dolphie pushed back their hats and smiled, revealing their sizeable canines and furry faces.

"So that's how those goons met their match," said Deaton.

I didn't want to mention Molly. After all, a guy's got to have some secrets.

We walked to this sleazy dive not ten feet from the cranes hoisting containers on and off the ocean vessels. Looks like they could use a few anti-grav platforms on this backward planet, but who am I to say?

The Marooned Swabbie stunk of body odor and rotting fish. I guess the name fit. We sat down at a dimly lit corner table as the Inspector ordered four drinks. What came back looked like unfiltered fish piss and smelled just as bad. The girls wrinkled their noses at it and I just pulled it to me with no intension to partake.

"Look, I'll be straight with you," started the Inspector. "I know you are in possession of a certain cargo that is sought by the underground. I want to make you a deal."

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Inspector Deaton. We are traders looking to make a buck. By the way, do they have anything except this stinky crap to drink?"

"These guys will chew you and your crew up and spit them out," he said.

I thought, Yeah, right. I wish I had a credit for every time I heard that.

"They control more than the sale of contraband cargo. They will steal and kill in the same breath. I can arrange for a little reward and maybe look the other way as you leave our system with your cargo still hidden your ship."

"Still don't know what you're talking about, but if I ever run into one of these thugs, I'll be sure to give you a ring."

"Ring?"

"Yeah, it's an ancient earth expression. You'd have to know Humphrey Bogart to understand."

He paid the bill and left his card as he walked out the door. As I scanned the sparsely populated bar, it seemed that everyone had been looking our way. The bartender especially stared at Lilliph and Dolphie. Maybe he just had a thing for furry women. He whispered something into a small com unit and then went about wiping the bar with his greasy rag.

I noticed the kitty sisters staring in the direction of a dark balcony at the top of the stairs. They picked up on someone emerging from the shadows. Hissing, they bared their claws. Slinking down the stairs was another Mjian, like the Proctor, only this one was much smaller and younger.

Dressed in what would pass as a business suit for one of his species, he raised a tentacle and four lizard guys seemed to materialize from the shadows of the bar. The few patrons still in the dive downed their drinks and decided there was something they needed to do elsewhere. In a defensive crouch, Lilliph and Dolphie were ready to pounce.

"Captain Plato," said the Mjian. "do we need this? We are businessmen, yes?"

"Businessmen don't try to kill each other. Hey! You in the shadows," I said looking at the reptiles. "My kittens are hungry so please step a little closer. Those other lizard men were so skinny."

Lilliph and Dolphie, hissing, showed their teeth, and pawed ominously at the shadowed figures. With a wave of the Mjian's tentacle, all except one melted back into the shadows. That one pulled a crude steel cable and out from the corner came a girl, badly bruised and barely covered with coarse cloth.

"Maybe we make trade for something valuable and legal. Platinum emitters not up to our standards. We rejected shipment," said the Mjian Domo.

Translation: cops caught the smuggler.

"We have finest human goods in this sector. They from breeder farms off planet. Males traded at mines or females used for other purposes."

Smiling, he looked at the reptile guy as he hissed some sort of laugh. The girl's traumatized stared made it obvious what he meant.

Lilliph and Dolphie lunged forward ready to kill the reptile and free the girl.

"Girls, stop right now. That's an order," I said.

They gave me a dirty look showing how they felt about this animal abusing the girl. I gave them a hand signal telling them to follow my lead and they backed off.

"Do you have the authority to make the deal?"

"I in contact with Proctor always," he said.

"I want to think about it. How many would we be able to acquire? My crystals are top of the line. Are your slaves?"

"Slaves, harsh word. I say already, we call them human goods. Maybe crystals worth one hundred."

"Do we get our pick?"

"Yes, you take this for trial. Sample as many as you like. Maybe you like young boy, eh?"

I moved my hand to keep the girls back because they wanted to rip this guy into little slime balls from the big one he was proving himself to be.

"No, no. I'll just take her with me now." I pointed to the lizard. "You'd better just drop the leash and back away. I can't keep my kittens back much longer."

With that, the girls leapt into action. Lizard guy bounded out of the door with Lilliph not far behind. One of Dolphie's sharp claws cut the cable as if it were paper. She hovered over the girl guarding the child as Lilliph strutted in the bar, claws dripping blood. I never saw a lizard who could out run a cheetah.

"I'll be in touch," I told the Mjian Domo.

"I give two standard days. Then we come to you," he replied.

####

At the ship, Molly was livid. "We need to free these people."

"Come on! We don't need another crusade. We got her, lets just make some sort of deal and get the others, then split. We'll have to take them to some planet where they can be taken care of and hope we can get some supplies out of this," I said.

"Can't we negotiate the release of the slaves and supplies, too?" said Molly. "That was their first offer. Pump it up. I'll bet we can get two hundred and supplies."

"We have no place for two hundred bodies on the Horus, much less the supplies to care for them."

Molly and I found Dr. Ail Mer in the infirmary, Lilliph and Dolphie hovering outside, probably kicked out for being a nuisance.

"She's sleeping," said Dr. Mer. "She's been traumatized by her abuse. Little Plato gave her a sleep suggestion to quiet her mind."

"How is her physical condition?" Molly asked.

"She's malnourished, dehydrated, otherwise okay. They must have been giving her special treatment because they wanted you to go for the trade," said the Doc. "Little Plato found some disturbing information that I think you need to know."

"The reptiles use them for amusement," said Little Plato. "This one was only in their 'care' for only a day. They play games with them. They use them to train their thugs, target practice and killing points for humans. They drive the males until they do unspeakable things..."

Little Plato was cut short by Lilliph and Dolphie who entered the infirmary at that moment. Hearing what the boy had to say, they gave a dismayed look and stood guard over the slumbering girl. She looked much better, having been cleaned and most of the bruises healed by Dr. Mer. The psychological damage would take much longer.

"Betty found out that the other major gangster group is led by humans. That's probably why they practice on these poor souls," said the telepathic student of Xao.

"I think you should contact them to find out what they want to talk about. We don't need two of them fighting over us," said the doctor.

I agreed and went to the mess hall. I sat down across from Molly and asked what she thought.

"Maybe we should just fly out of this sector and consider ourselves lucky to be in one piece," said Molly.

"Looking into the eyes of that girl in the infirmary... Okay, okay! If we don't come up with a plan by tomorrow, we hyper-jump to wherever Betty takes us," I said.

"Betty," I said bringing my computer interface into view. "Did you get anything on that com unit the gangster gave me?"

"No, Captain," she said. "It is a generic com on a public frequency. The auto connection is set for another generic public com. The signal will show our direction once we activate it. A disguised locator chip is inside, but I was able to redirect the signal so it would appear that we are on an uninhabited place on the surface"

"I suggest that we move to low orbit when we talk to them," said Molly.

"Bette, I need Deaton ASAP."

Molly moved the ship into low orbit over New Chicago. This was getting too cute. I love antique vids but I never figured I'd be in one.

"Hey, how 'ya doin'?" said the voice on the other side of the com. "I'll get da boss."

"Am I speaking with Captain Plato Zhoth?" asked a husky voice.

"Yeah, that's me."

"I guess you pissed off the 'oogu-boogu' Mjian." There was laughter in the background. "We felt the earth shake over here on the other side of town. By the way, I'm Zoni Tarotino."

"Get to the point."

"Okay, to the point. We know you are in possession of certain 'merchandise' for delivery. Did you make any commitments?"

"Maybe. What if I did?"

"These guys are not good at coming through with their end of the bargain. I am a good businessman and would make you an offer."

"And what would that be?"

"My guy in the Mjian organization says you were offered slaves from his pit. Tell ya', Captain, I don't like the way they treat our people. They got kids there. I mean, we gotta' stick together, right?"

Silence said all he needed to know.

"I've got a plan so both of us can come out on top. You don't want a bunch of slaves to feed and need to get rid of those crystals before the cops get word of it, if you get my meaning," he said, in a threatening sort of way.

"What do you want of me?"

"You will be contacted tomorrow about how I want this thing done. Then, I get the crystals, the slaves, and you get ten million interstellar credits put in the bank of your choice."

"I have to see the plan, Mr. Tarotino. I won't put my ship or crew in danger. Relay the time and coordinates to my ship, encoded, and I might be there." I gave the hand-across-the-neck sign and the connection was cutoff.

Betty came through with the inspector on the ship's com.

"Inspector Deaton, I have a question about your laws here on Ictus. Why do you allow slavery on your planet? It's outlawed on every habitable planet in this sector."

"We have certain politicians in our internal legislative body who favor the slave breeders. They contribute heavily to the Mjian caucus. The law allows for slaves, humans among the most numerous, to be bred in farms and sold on the open market. Slaves captured from other planets are in conflict with inter-planetary regulations and not allowed. It's dirty business, Captain Plato. I hope you are not getting involved in their little war..."

"War? What war?"

"Between the Mjians and the Tarotino organization. They've been after control of the slaves for decades."

"Thanks for your help, Inspector Deaton. I might have something for you later."

Another abrupt cut off. I left him hanging.

"Betty," I asked, "where's our guest?"

"She is in the mess hall with Lilliph and Dolphie."

She was a very pretty girl, once cleaned and in some decent clothes. The kitty sisters were mothering her as Little Plato hovered, eyes wide and mouth agape.

I found out that she was an off planet abductee named Strawberry. Her people came from earth about a century ago and settled into a more agricultural society over the tech society that led them to their planet.

"We were rounded up like dogs. Those evil lizards whipped anyone who resisted. They didn't kill most of those who resisted. They said that the spunky ones fetched more credits," said the lithe blonde.

I noticed Little Plato listening to every word. This was the first he'd heard of her abduction. He was always a quiet boy, reading everything Betty gave him. His moral compass pointed true, as his adopted parents tutored him to respect others. I knew he was infatuated with the girl. She was the first person he'd met his age since we left La Miria.

The crew looked at me as if they expected me to do something about their situation.

"I...I hope my grandfather is okay. He's all I have left. They captured my parents while they were trying to stop them. I don't even know if they are alive. Grandfather tried to stop those monsters from..." She sobbed uncontrollably as Lilliph held her tight.

"What are you going to do, Captain?" the doctor asked.

I just shook my head and walked away. That's when Dolphie cornered me in the passage.

"Captain, we can't, I mean, we just can't stand by and watch as these people are treated like cattle."

"Do you want to go up against those thugs? It's not just the Mjians but also Tarotino. I just think that we should get as many as we can and get out of here. We can report them to Inspector Deaton and let the authorities handle the rest."

She said nothing, just turned and walked back to the infirmary. I felt like crap because I was so helpless. I asked Betty to put me in touch with the Mjians. We made our deal for one hundred slaves, the most I figure the Horus could hold. Molly looked as bad as I felt and, without a plan, we realized this was the best we could do. I called Deaton and told him the story. He said that he'd do the best he could, but that there was no way he could arrest the Proctor without evidence about from where the slaves came. It seemed that the only help would be to deal with the devil. I contacted Tarotino to tell him of the deal with the Mjians. He said he'd be waiting for my signal to get the slime ball, Jelly-belly.

####

The planet had dozens of moons, some larger than others. We wound through the shadow of the planet punctuated with magnetic and radiological asteroids, enough to scramble any nav computer. Molly took a bearing on the surface of the planet, providing a general direction out. We landed on one of the moons in a canyon two miles deep.

"Molly, see if you can get a signal out. Try Deaton. Scramble a locator signal to Tarotino. Lilliph, Dolphie, bring little Plato and the girl. Xao stay here with Opus and make sure we can blast off as soon as I get back. Stay near the com. Betty, you are only to respond to the crew. Security program Zeta if intrusion is imminent.

Underground tunnels led to a dimly lit large grotto. Stench blew off the filthy pens, slaves crowding every square meter. Piles at the far wall held the rotting corpses of the dead. Walking down a narrow path, the smell of ozone meant they energized a force field locking us in. Note to self: next time, don't be such a sucker for a pretty face.

I signaled for a private conversation with Little Plato.

What's up? Does our little friend know where her people are? I asked.

After a couple of seconds, he answered, She's scared. The pen to the left, four rows up and two back is where her grandfather was when she left.

I walked down the slimy path between pens as pleading eyes followed my every footfall. They were amazed to see the girl, but said nothing.

"There," I said pointing to the pen that held her grandfather. The Domo would not enter the pen area, probably didn't want to dirty his ugly tentacles. He nodded as two of his goons lowered the shield and shoved us in. Then they raised the shield, with us inside.

"Yes, yes, you can have all you want, eh?" His larger counterpart, the Proctor, joined the Mjian Domo. "You have many here. I have use for the furry ones."

Lilliph and Dolphie growled loud enough to wake the dead. They pounced on the force field. Sparks of energy flashed blue in the dimly lit cavern as it sent them crashing to the feces covered ground knocked unconscious. I looked at Little Plato.

"They are linked," he said referring to the Mjians. There was no need for secrecy any longer. "I can't break through their mental block."

The kid grabbed his head, dropped to his knees, and quivered with anguish. Payback from the Proctor.

"Stop," I screamed. "Stop or I'll tell my ship to auto-destruct! You all will be buried beneath tons of rock."

Little Plato relaxed. His body stopped shaking and after a couple minutes, he looked at me. Then, seeing his two foster parents, he went to them. He picked their heads off the slimy ground and cradled them in his lap. He looked at me signaling that they would be okay with his eyes.

"What do you want? The crystals? Take them! Just let us leave."

"Yes, yes, crystals will be found soon. We looking now. We want everything. Crystals, ship, you, crew, slaves," he said, laughing in gurgles and burps.

I had no idea what was happening to Molly and the rest of the crew. My only hope was that she got a locator signal to Deaton.

I heard nothing for hours. Strawberry found her grandfather and he was in bad shape, but still alive.

Power failure. All force fields down. The cavern was as black as galaxy's end. I grabbed my crew and the girl. Her grandfather limped along while the cacophony of shouts and whip cracks from the lizard guys added to the confusion while stampeding slaves flew in every direction but out. Blaster bolts fried the lizard men as the blue flash of their whips lit the scales of their faces.

The lights came on. The guards dropped their weapons when the saw Inspector Deaton looking down on the pens. Up near the tunnel exit both Proctor and his Domo stared blankly into space as if frozen solid. I looked at Little Plato. His intense stare told me all I needed to know. Somehow, he managed to break the link between the two and take hold of their minds. Then, Xao stepped around from the backside of the two. The boy and his mentor managed to combine their powerful telepathic abilities to freeze the Mjians.

A force field formed around the pair as Tarotino stepped into view. His goons came down, disarmed the lizard men and herded all of us into a large group. Molly, the doctor, Xao and Opus were being held at blaster point off to the side.

"Let the captain and his other crew members come up. We're old friends, right?" said Deaton.

"Yeah. You know, familiarity breeds contempt," I said. "Mr. Tarotino, I have to give you credit for covering all of the bases. Bribe the police and get suckers like us to do your dirty work.

"Opus, that was you who cut the power." He nodded. "I don't think these goons would know a circuit breaker from a circus clown."

"Come on, you ain't got to be mean. Ya' know, I think the guys would be nicer to ya' if ya' show a little respect. I'm about to turn you over to the slavers for off planet sale. I'm thinkin' I'll keep the kitties for my pets."

The girls gave an ear-piercing roar baring their claws.

"Yeah, dat's right. I'll declaw dem before da fun begins."

He turned around surprised by a commotion from within the tunnel. Inter-planetary troops filed in blasters in hand. The gangsters dropped their weapons. The force fields shimmered out of sight.

####

Back at the Horus, we found a half-dozen techs surrounded by force fields, tools by their sides.

"Betty, security protocol zeta disable."

A holo image of a dragon materialized guarding the bridge.

"Security protocol zeta. Password protected. Say password," said my computer in a deep, ominous voice.

"Come on, Betty. Can't we do this without all this drama?" I said.

The dragon I nicknamed Draco, dematerialized and the familiar image of Betty Page came into view.

"Password confirmed. Welcome back. Captain Plato. Was your visit pleasant?" she said in her syrupy-sweet voice.

"Yeah, a real walk in the park. Who are these guys?"

"They entered and did not know the password. Draco breathed on them."

That was my way of scaring the daylights out of intruders while the force field formed.

"Have you been giving them air?"

"They do not know the password."

"Okay, lower the force field."

A pop signaled the field de energizing and the techs gasped for fresh air.

"There's a few guys waiting for you outside," I said.

####

After cleaning up the captives and tending the sick, the Inter-Planetary relief agency shuttled them to their home worlds. It turns out Inter-Plan enforcement had been monitoring Deaton's com traffic. The whole slaver / politician ring was broken and Velious Ictus was brought under martial law until they could elect another government.

We took Strawberry and her grandfather, Alm Mesa, to their home world, a pleasant-enough place called Newterra. On the two-month journey, Little Plato and she became close friends. It looked like Lilliph and Dolphie were going to lose their boy.

On the blue, earth-like planet, we stayed awhile. We needed a vacation and it felt good to slow down a little. We walked along a deserted beach watching the sunset. Plato was becoming more mature with every passing day.

"Well," I said, "looks like you don't need the 'little' in front of your name anymore."

"I guess," he said looking from me to the others. "I hope you are okay with the name 'Plato Junior". I thought I still need to remember my roots, you know, the Horus was my home and you were, well, sort of, my dad."

I turned because the sunset made my eyes water, a little. The kitty sisters were sobbing and even Xao looked sad, although how one would know on an alien grey I'll never know.

THE END


© 2007 Michael Joseph

Bio: Michael Joseph grew up loving movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still and War of the Worlds. He lives in Southern California, Long Beach, to be exact, and works at the port of Los Angeles. Now, at the age of fifty-eight, married, but with offspring all sprung, he has time create his own fantastic worlds. This story continues the adventures of the meddlesome (in a noble sort of way) crew of the Horus, introduced in Voyages of the Earthship Horus: La Miria (Aphelion, July 2007).

E-mail: Michael Joseph

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.