Abgila VII is a cold gas giant, moving in a long, slow orbit far from its sun. At the time of this story, it is also quite far from any other planet in its system, which is why Supreme Captain-Commander Kvasha of the Zakavian Imperial Military Aggregate chose the planet for the EDIT Project.

Another advantage of Abgila VII, at least from the perspective of those working in the EDIT Project, was that Kvasha was unable to personally check up on the project very often, which gave them the ability to make needed decisions without consulting him. However, they still made certain to send regular reports.

Kvasha looked at the report on his desk and smiled. “Excellent,” he said, possibly to the listening devices he was certain were in his room. “The project is proceeding on schedule and under budget….” A thought occurred to him and he looked at the budget report again. “Although I’m not sure why they need such a large amount for ‘snacks’. Ah well,” he mused, “Soon it will be complete, and then nothing will stand before Zakav!” He pressed a button on his computer terminal and pre-recorded diabolical laughter filled the room.

Starcruiser Anonymous

(A Tale of Sfstory)

Episode 3
Wherein Blue Squadron Awakens
Lots of Plans Get Made

Dave Menendez

Consciousness returned slowly to the members of Blue Squadron—possibly afraid that sudden movements might startle Thomas Dent into a fit of violent activity. Their leader, Roger Vasta, was the first to regain speech. “All right, people,” he began, “how is everyone?”

The others mumbled that they were fine. It was a credit to Vasta that he understood.

“All right,” he began, “we seem to have been taken captive on some alien craft. Dent, are you still armed?”

“I haven’t had a chance to check, sir,” Dent said, still tired.

Dixon snorted. “Why bother checking? They’re obviously much more powerful than we are. We’re probably just being kept alive for some horrible purpose anyway.”

“Hey,” McCurry chided, “just being prisoners on an unknown, alien spacecraft’s no reason to be depressed.”

“Are you kidding?” Kadar demanded. “It’s a perfect reason to be depressed.”

“Hey, just look on the bright side. We’re going where no human has gone before. We’re leaving the solar system, casting away the bonds of Sol.”

“One, we’re not the first. The star shuttle Challenger II was launched almost a decade ago. Two, I’d be a lot more happy about leaving Sol if I was going by my own choice.”

McCurry considered that. “Do you think the Anonymous knows what happened yet?” he asked Vasta.

“I don’t know,” he replied.

“If we’d been sending a continuous video feed back they’d’ve seen what happened,” Kadar commented. The others considered that. (Actually, McCurry was trying to figure out if “they’d’ve” was a legal construction, but we won’t get into that.)

“Well,” Vasta said, breaking the silence, “no use crying over spilled milk. Dent?”

“Huh?” Dent asked, shaken out of his daydreaming.

“Are you armed?”

“No, sir. They must have taken my weapons.”

“How clever of them,” Kadar commented.

“Hey, if I were taking them prisoner, I’d take their weapons,” McCurry protested.

“Um… so?”

“Well, it’s not like, you know, … well, never mind.”

Another pause.

“Where do you suppose we’re going?” Dent asked.

“Planet Gloom,” replied a new, electronically filtered voice.

“Gaaah!” added Dent, startled into a fit of violent activity, which proves consciousness isn’t as stupid as you might think. However, the speaker was some distance off, and Dent managed to calm down before he could injure himself on the speaker’s combat armor.

“Who are you?” asked Vasta, voicing the question on everyone’s mind (well, except for the armored figure, who already knew the answer).

“I am Guard-Lieutenant Vtami of the Zakav Eighth Fleet.”

“Why have we been captured?”

“The Guards are not privileged with such information.”

“Figures,” muttered Kadar.

“So who are you?” asked McCurry.

“As I said, I am—”

“No, no. Not you, the Zakavs”

“Zakavians. Actually, there are no Zakavians, we’re an… alliance of two peoples, the Caphanites and the Blargoloids. I am Blargoloid. By that token, what are you called?”

“Humans,” replied Vasta.

“Terrans,” suggested Dent at about the same time.

“We can also go with ‘Earthling’,” added McCurry.

“Earthling? That always sounded so stupid,” said Dixon.

“I think Terran has a nice ring to it,” said Dent.

“I don’t see what’s wrong with Human,” protested Vasta.

“As long as we don’t go with Earthling, I’m fine,” declared Dixon.

McCurry shrugged, “I liked Earthling.”

Again they lapsed into silence.

“So,” Dent said, “is Terran all right with everyone?”

“Whatever,” said Vasta.

“Fine with me,” added Kadar.

McCurry and Dixon nodded and shrugged, respectively.

“Great,” smiled Dent. “We are called Terrans.”

“Fine,” replied Vtami. None of the Terrans were certain if they detected an amused tone through all that filtering. “I’ll let you know when we arrive,” and with that, Vtami left.

After a few moments, McCurry spoke up. “Seems to be a rather nice person, considering.”

“Sure,” Dent agreed, “for a representative of an unknown race that’s abducted us against our will.”

“Is it possible to abduct someone in accordance with their will?” Vasta asked.

“Shut up, McCurry.”

“Hey!” McCurry protested. “The Boss said it, not me.”

“Sorry, it just seemed like something you’d say.

“So,” Orliss said, barely catching the attention of Horlun and Anme who were watching the news and reading Sullen Rebel magazine, respectively, “do you think we could do something outside of the city?”

Neither answered at first, but then Horlun looked up. “We could go on a road trip.”

“To where?” Anme asked. “This is the most interesting place on Foobarh.”

“What, this apartment?” Orliss asked.

Anme rolled her eyes. “No. This city.”


Horlun looked at Anme, a gleam in his eye. “Who says we have to go somewhere on Foobarh?” he asked her.

Anme, looking somewhat confused, replied with another question: “How would we get off planet? You’re not suggesting….”

“I am. You think your father would lend us his Finstar?”

“You know I don’t get along with him. He’s a boring, upper-class stooge, and I’m pretty sure he uses his wealth and influence to oppress the masses.”

“So, would he?”

“Couldn’t we just take a tourist trip? I’ve heard of a guy who can get us tickets to Barbados, Planet of Physical Delights, for only a five-thousand percent markup.”

Horlun refused to be diverted. “Would he lend us the Finstar?”

“Well… probably.”

“Great! You ask him, and then we can decide where to go.”

Anme sighed, and walked into the next room where Horlun kept his communications equipment (which, for all intents and purposes, was a telephone, but we can’t refer to an alien device by such a mundane title).

Horlun looked at Orliss. “Great idea, Orliss.”

“Well,” Orliss said, “it sort of went further than I originally intended. I brought it up because there’s a harvest festival in the next district that sounded marginally interesting.”

“Oh. … Well, I suppose we could—” Horlun broke off as Anme reentered. “What’d he say?” he asked her.

“He said we could use it, and offered us a credit line.”

Were it possible, dollar signs would have appeared in the others’ eyes.

“I turned him down, of course. He can’t buy our respect.”

“D’oh!” chorused Orliss and Horlun.

“It’s not like we don’t have money ourselves,” Anme said.

“Do you know how expensive Barbados is?” Horlun demanded.


“Neither do I, really, but that’s not important. When can we pick it up?”

“Anytime we want, really.”

“We better start packing, then,” Orliss said, standing up.

“Shouldn’t we decide where we’re going first?” asked Horlun.

“Nah. Space heros just sort of make it up as we go along.”

“But you’re just a student. Couldn’t we do a little planning?” asked Anme.

Orliss merely grinned, which did little to reassure the others.

The Peace and Light Bar & Grill was one of the smaller eating establishments within walking distance of the Aroruan Palace, and was suffering from the drop of palace-related tourism due to the Zakavian conquest. The owners, rather than lay off their serving staff (which would be tricky as they were down to two per shift), had had to forgo those floor repairs they had been thinking about. Tels Garav, one of those two servers, walked over to a small group that had been sitting, talking, and not really buying that much. Hopefully, he could coax another purchase out of them, otherwise he would have to throw them out—which he didn’t look forward to, as some of them looked quite strong and possibly violent. As he walked up to them, he heard them talking, and became reluctant to interrupt their conversation.

“…no, Bentor, I don’t think blowing up our own outposts would be very effective,” a vaguely familiar woman was saying.

A man, presumably Bentor, started to talk, then looked up and saw Garav. “Hello?” he asked, looking irritated.

“Um,” Garav said, forgetting the appropriate phrase. “How is everything here?”

“We’re fine,” Bentor said. “We just want to sit and talk. Alone.”

“I’m afraid that if you don’t buy anything I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

The four looked at him, then at each other. Finally the woman said, “how about some water?”

“But that’s free.”

“Expensive water.”

“Oh. I suppose I could bottle some water and charge you.”

“That works.”

“Right.” Garav turned to leave, then stopped. “By the way,” he said, “you aren’t plotting to overthrow the new Zakavian regime, are you?”

They stared. “Sit down,” Bentor said. Garav did so. “What do you know?”

“Nothing, really.”

“I see.”

Garav didn’t think he could respond to that, so he waited. Eventually, the woman turned to him. “How’d you like to join an illegal organization?” she asked.

Garav considered that. “I don’t know. I’d rather join you guys.”

She blinked. “Right. Welcome to the People’s League of Arorua.”

“Aroruan People’s League,” Bentor corrected.

“Whatever. These are Bentor, Vaalte, and Canto. You may call me Cinta.”

“I’m Garav,” Garav said. “Do you know you look just like Princess El—”

“Quiet!” Bentor shouted. The other customers looked at him. One, a Blargoloid officer, stood up.

“Waiter,” he said, “perhaps you could serve the customers rather than talking with them?”

Garav stood up, defiant. He was dimly aware of the others standing as well. “Yeah? Well, you tell your bosses that the Aroruans are fed up and we’re not! gonna! take it anymore!” He slammed his fist down on the table, which caused it to smash through the floor and into the basement, taking most of the Aroruan People’s League with it.

Rick Hydrospok, leader of the Green Squadron, entered the Pilots’ lounge and walked over to his team. He looked tired, as if he’d just been in a meeting with several officers far above him in the Scale o’ Authority. Oddly enough, he had just been in such a meeting, so he was looking forward to talking with people below him for a change of pace. “Ahoy, me hearties,” he said in greeting, which earned him quite a few odd looks. “What say ye to a grand voyage?”

“You mean they approved the plan?” Gaelen asked.

“And what’s with the pirate accent?” Daniels added.

Losar and Winters said nothing, as they were off playing scrabble with two members of the Black Squadron and hadn’t heard the conversation thus far.

“Yes, and I don’t know, respectively,” Hydrospok answered. “Let’s get the others and head off to the hangars. We’ve got to set up the ship.”

“You think we should pack first?” asked Daniels.

“Oh. I guess that’s a good idea, since we’ll be out on what’s essentially a wild goose chase for an indefinite period of time, and all.”

“I can see the logic in that.”

“Right. Green Squadron: prepare to pack!”

His loyal troops (the half that were present, anyway) exchanged a look and sighed.

The ship chosen for this mission was larger than the still-unnamed escort fighter until recently used by the Blue Squadron. The technicians who had figured out its basic control systems had given its class the extremely descriptive name of “Sub-Capital Support Interceptor”. They had also written a manual for its use, which had finally ended up about the size and shape of the chief technician’s edition of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. In fact, the technical crew liked to switch the two books as a joke. Truly, these were wild and crazy guys.

Hydrospok looked at his new SCSI-class vessel and was filled with pride. Whether it was pride about his ship or because he had snatched the assignment from his rivals in the Black Squadron is somewhat unclear. “Well,” he said, “are we all ready?”

“It looks like it,” replied Commander Gerhardt, who was filling in for Captain Harrison (who was busy receiving a report from the chief investigator about a possible explanation for an odd prank which ended up causing an actor portraying Hamlet to, in the first rehearsal, state that “the Primary Power Couplings for the QuiteLarge Cannon [see inventory A/326W] can be found behind panel 431C”). “Now, I know the six of you—”

“Five, sir,” Daniels interrupted.

Gerhardt blinked and counted again. “Right. Five of you have almost no chance of finding the Blue Squadron, but hopefully you’ll run into some friendly aliens that can help you in your search. Otherwise you’re pretty much doomed to an eternal, futile quest to find a moving target in an immense galaxy. Now go out there and give it all you got!”

Green Squadron reacted to Gerhardt’s pep talk with a collective, open-mouthed stare. Finally, Hydrospok spoke up. “Right! Green Squadron: to the ship!” Slowly, his band of elite pilots entered their new SCSI-class vessel.

“Hey,” Daniels commented to Gaelen as they walked in, “what do you think we should call this thing?”

Gaelen smirked. “How about the Futility?”

The Futility?

Isn’t that kind of a depressing name for a starship?

Will they find Blue Squadron?

Or will Blue Squadron end up on Planet Gloom and meet the Emperor?

Will the Aroruan People’s League put up an effective fight?

Will all their actions be so hard on the floor?

Will Captain Harrison ever get an actual speaking part? I mean, she’s one of the few characters that was mentioned in the prologue that didn’t die mysteriously. For that matter, what about Emperor Vakaz?

On the other hand, do we really need more characters at this point?

SFSTORY: Void Where Prohibited.