Tels Garav stepped back and observed his handiwork. Before him, on the wall of the Aroruan Civic Building, stood the message Zakavs Go Home, written very nicely in red spray-paint. Now, having done what they demanded, the Aroruan People’s League would let him rejoin their merry band of revolutionaries. Smiling, he turned around—and saw a Blargoloid of the Aroruan Occupation Legion standing right behind him.

“What’s this? ‘Zakavs Go Home’?” the legionnaire asked. “What, are you stupid? First off, it should be ‘Zakavians’.”

Garav gulped. “Sorry, sir! I’ll just change that right now,” he said, fumbling for his spray-can.

“Not so fast, young man, there’s another problem here.”

Garav winced, he knew what was coming.

“I’m wondering where you think this ‘home’ for the Zakavians is? Do you think there’s some planet Zakav somewhere that we all come from?”

Garav blinked. “Not really, it’s just sort of a standard phrase.”

“Well it hardly applies in this situation, does it!” the legionnaire shouted. “I suggest you find some other phrase to express your dissatisfaction with the current political state of your planet!”

“Sure!” Garav blurted. “How about … um … ‘Free Arorua’?”

“That’s fine. There’s some space over there you could use.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Starcruiser Anonymous

(A Tale of Sfstory)

Episode 4
Wherein Governor Jjana
Kills Two Birds with One Stone
Orliss’s Vacation
Starts to Get Interesting

Dave Menendez

Governor Malta Jjana had been enjoying his stay on Arorua. He had never been that good at politics, and there pretty much weren’t any here. That was before Captain-General Tvanir started trying to work her way into his love life in an attempt to gain more power, of course. It was also before the Aroruans, despite Chancellor Elahte’s predictions to the contrary, started a second rebellion. Granted, it numbered less than ten people at the moment, but it was by no means a good sign.

Already, Tvanir had sent him a request for more soldiers that she had prepared earlier “just in case.” While even Jjana thought that was a bit suspicious, he didn’t really think Tvanir would incite a rebellion just so she could increase the Legion. He didn’t think she was that stupid.

Sighing, he stood and walked to the window and looked out over Arorua’s capital city. He was familiar enough with the view to pick out the differences immediately: the increased patrols, the revolutionary slogans on the Civic Building, the rubble where AOL shock troops had accidentally destroyed buildings searching for the rebels, and so forth.

The intercom buzzed and his secretary informed him that Elahte had news for him. “Send him in,” Jjana said, sitting down at his desk. Elahte walked in. “What is it?”

“I have some news about the rebels, Your Excellency,” Elahte said.

“Oh? What is it?”

“I am lead to understand that it’s possible that Princess Elim may be in some way connected to this whole, sad business.”

“How possible?”

Elahte handed him a folder. “I’ve been given these surveillance photographs.”

“Thank you.”

“Your welcome, Excellency. And if I may, I’d like to apologise, on behalf of my people, for this most unfortunate state—”

“You may leave, Chancellor.”

Elahte nodded, and left. Jjana looked through the pictures and decided that Elahte was, as usual, pretending uncertainty to avoid getting blamed should the data prove to be false. He decided to pay the Princess a visit.

By the time he reached Princess Elim’s quarters, he had realised that simply walking up to Elim and telling her that she was a rebel was probably unwise. Especially if she was armed. Robbed by logic of his course of action, he nonetheless proceeded to knock on the door, in the hopes that he’d come up with something.

“Come in,” Elim called.

Jjana opened the door and walked in, glancing around the anteroom and noting the lack of anything immediately dangerous. “Princess Elim,” he said.

“Governor Jjana,” she replied. “What brings you here?”

“Oh, you know. Um … stuff.” This was not going very well.


Jjana looked at her, managing not to panic visibly. Suddenly, inspiration struck. Hard. “Ow,” he muttered.


“Nothing. Tell me, have you noticed that Captain-General Tvanir has been acting rather … oddly of late?”

“You mean the way she keeps trying to catch your eye?”

“Yes. A rather transparent attempt to gain influence, really.”

“I suppose so. What does this have to do with me?”

“Well, I need to turn her down, but I’d rather not have to reject her outright, as it would no doubt embarrass her immensely. Instead, if I were to become involved with someone else, she would have to back off without admitting that she was doing anything wrong.”

Elim looked at him. Jjana hoped she was able to pick out his meaning. Finally, she spoke: “You’re suggesting we start dating?”

“Not necessarily. We just have to pretend to.” This was it. Hopefully, she would reason that, by being close to him, she could glean information to report to the rebellion without realising that he would have an excuse to keep a close eye on her.

Elim considered. “All right,” she said, “I’ll do it.”

Jjana smiled. Now he had access to the chief rebel and a way to keep Tvanir off his back, with neither suspecting a thing. Nothing could spoil his day now.

“Hello, Governor,” came a voice from behind him.

Jjana turned and saw Elim’s brother Boltar behind him. “Ah, hello.”

“Say, are you up for a game of ping-pong?”

“Well, I—”

“Go on,” Elim urged, “It’ll be fun.”

Jjana sighed. Someday, he swore, he’d remember not to tempt fate.

The Finstar F6000-series was designed to be an inexpensive, single-family starship destined to introduce a new income bracket to space travel and make a lot of money for its developers. What those developers neglected to realise was that the target market for the F6000 was quite happy using liners and freighters to travel, when they bothered to do so. The only people who really wanted personal starships were rich enough to afford the high-end models. It looked like the F6000 was destined for failure when an executive thought about all the smaller planets (in a political and economic sense, of course; most planets are around the same size). Their rich were right in the target market for the F6000. This is how the Rifba family ended up the proud owner of a small, unremarkable starship that, despite its great cost (in Foobarhian terms), contained no trappings of luxury whatsoever.

Orliss SoFah, student of Interstellar University and captain of the Rifba family’s Finstar (because the others didn’t want to argue about it), looked about the cramped cockpit, where his cousin Horlun was watching the computer precalculate their course through overly-hyped space. Actually, since the computer worked at a speed far faster than the human brain— faster than the display’s refresh rate, in fact—the data onscreen was unreadable, not that anyone seemed to mind. Orliss quickly scanned the area outside the ship. Nothing.

Behind him, Anme Rifba entered and sat at an empty seat. She was not too pleased that Horlun had convinced her to borrow the ship from her father, who, to hear her talk, had gained his wealth and power solely by oppressing the working classes. “Are we ready to go?” she asked.

“Pretty much,” Horlun answered. “I’m sure we’ll have a fun time at—”

He was cut off by an unimpressive burst of light that briefly flooded the cockpit. When it faded, they saw a rather large (in comparison to the Finstar, that is) vessel before them.

Orliss was the first to speak. “An unidentified vessel,” he said. “You know what this means?”

“It means we leave now?” asked Horlun.

“No,” replied Orliss. “Only a villain would travel in an unidentified vessel such as this. It is my—our!—duty to stop whatever nefarious schemes this vessel’s crew may have.”

“It is not our duty,” Anme protested. “Furthermore, we are a small, recreational starship, while they look to be armed.”

“I guess we could hail them,” Horlun suggested.

“Right,” Orliss said. Horlun worked at the console for a few seconds, then gestured at Orliss. “Unidentified Starship: please identify yourself and your mission.”

There was a brief pause.

“Hello,” came the response, “This is the Futility. We’re, um, looking for some people.”

“The Futility?” Horlun asked. “Isn’t that kind of a depressing name for a starship?”

“Well, probably.”

“So who are you looking for?” Orliss asked. “Perhaps, as space heros, we can help.”

“We are not space heros,” Anme added.

“Shut up,” Orliss noted.

“Well, I’m not sure if we can describe the ship all that well—”

“I’ve got a picture,” said a different voice.

“You took a picture?” asked the first voice.

“We all did. Remember the combat recorders?”

“Oh. Them.”

“Well,” Orliss suggested, “let’s link up so we can discuss without all that electronic filtering.”

“Do they breathe our atmosphere?” Anme asked.

Orliss sighed. “Do you think they’d speak our language if they evolved in a different atmosphere?”

“Well, no, but….”

“This is the ship that took them,” George Daniels said, pointing at the picture onscreen.

“Hmm,” Orliss said, looking up from his attempt to remember the names of everyone in this “Green Squadron”. He looked closer. “I can just make out the identification…. It’s the Imperial Zakavian Starship Absurd Physical Harm, assigned to the Zakav Eighth Fleet.”

“Ah,” Rick Hydrospok, leader of the squadron, said. “Who are they?”

“Some new group of interstellar conquerors.”


They sat in silence for a few moments. “I have an idea,” Orliss said at last.

“Heavens preserve us,” Horlun muttered.

“What?” asked Orliss.


“Anyway, I’ve heard that the Eighth Fleet is in the Crelm system, no doubt spreading terror and destruction. Why don’t you,” he said, indicating the Green Squadron, “go there. We’ll go straight to Planet Gloom, their capital, in case they went there instead.”

“What makes you think they went there?” asked Roy Gaelen.

“Nothing, really. But it sounds like an interesting place to visit.”

“Sounds gloomy to me.”


After another brief pause, Hydrospok stood. “Okay, shall we get started?”

“In a moment,” Orliss said. “I think we’ll want to take two of your people with us.”

“I’ll go,” Gaelen offered.

“Hmm, we need four people to run this thing,” commented Hydrospok. “Could you take just one?”

“I could go,” a new voice suggested.

“Really? That’s … waaait a minute.”

The young human smiled weakly as she became the center of attention.

“It’s Megan Kadar,” Gaelen said, “Who, no doubt, has come along to help look for her sister, Jen, for whose squadron we are currently searching.”

“That was pretty stilted,” commented Daniels.

“But accurate,” added Megan.

“You stowed away?” demanded Hydrospok. “What were you thinking? Didn’t you ever read ‘The Cold Equations’?”

“Yeah,” Megan said. “I never understood why they didn’t just scan the ship for stowaways before they launched.”

“Well, because … um. That’s a good question.”

“In any case,” Orliss said, eagar to get started, “this has worked out for the best. If you two will come with us, we can get started for Planet Gloom.”

“You know,” Anme said, “I don’t recall ever wanting to visit Planet Gloom.”

“Relax,” Orliss grinned, “it’s an adventure.” In the Finstar, Orliss, Horlun, Anme, Roy, and Megan sat in the cockpit and watched the Futility vanish into overly-hyped space.

“All right,” Horlun said from the pilot’s seat. “Next stop: Planet Gloom.”

Anme grumbled. “I’m liking this vacation less and less,” she said to no one in particular.

“Tell me, Orliss,” Roy said, “do you think we’ll find them at Planet Gloom?”

Orliss considered that. “Well, probably not,” he admitted. “But as a space hero, I’ve got to check out the headquarters of my enemy, right?”

“You are not a hero,” Anme said, flatly. “You’re still a student. A student minoring in heroism at that.”

“Minoring in heroism, huh?” asked Megan, looking interested. “Sounds like an interesting school. What’s your major?”

Orliss grinned. “Comparative Literature.”

Comparative literature?

Does Orliss seem to be grinning an awful lot lately?

Will the intrepid crew of the Finstar find Blue Squadron on Planet Gloom?

What will happen when the Futility runs into the Eighth Fleet?

Does anyone remember the Eighth Fleet?

How will Captain-General Tvanir react to the new, fake relationship between Princess Elim and Governor Jjana?

How will the Aroruan People’s League react?

Why is this series called “Starcruiser Anonymous” when the Anonymous hasn’t really done anything?

SFSTORY: Now With More Chocolate Taste.

(Next Issue: Violence!)