Scribe of Texas Book Page Scribe of Texas Poems Scribe of Texas Short Stories Scribe of Texas Fan Fiction Scribe of Texas Preaching Politics Scribe of Texas email

Universe of G-Minor Logo
All the Heavens - Title

Chapter 20

“First of all,” Aaren said, “Elric’s mistake is very reasonable for someone to make. The distances between the stars are enough to boggle the mind. They’re nothing short of unbelievable. But that’s exactly the problem he’s having; he’s not believing the obvious.” He paused dramatically and looked around the room. “Those maps don’t show different star patterns; they show different star charts!”

Mira felt her reason starting to slip. “I think I’m starting to agree with Elric. What are you talking about?”

He deflated slightly. So much for his big pronouncement. “Look, you know how a regular ship keeps different charts for different oceans? One for the Overdark, another for the Tagil Sea, another for the Azure Sea, and so on? Well, that’s what this ship does. Only instead of different oceans, it’s for different star systems.”

“But what about the trees that Elric was talking about?” Horace wanted to know.

Aaren shrugged. “If what I’m saying is true, then his analogy suffers from problems of scale. Trees are too small. Think big, really big.” He jumped up and paced around the room. “Think about mountains. They’re so big you have to be hundreds of leagues away before they start forming different patterns like he’s talking about. Hundreds of leagues away and hundreds of leagues in a different direction.” He clasped his hands behind his back and bounced up and down on his toes. “And how much bigger is a planet than a mountain?”

They sat silently thinking about it.

“Well, Mira?” he challenged her. “How much bigger?”

She met his gaze solemnly and shook her head.

“Jon? You’re pretty good at throwing daggers and using a sling. That requires a good eye for size and distance. How about it? How much bigger is a planet than a mountain?”

Their self-appointed First Officer laughed quietly. “I don’t know; a hundred times?, a thousand?”

“Bigger. Lots bigger.”

Horace was chewing his lip, a troubled expression on his face. Aaren swung around to face him directly. “And here’s something else to think about, stars are even bigger than planets.” He paused for a moment to let that sink in then continued, “Now, how far away would you have to be for the patterns of something that big to change? Even a little bit?

“But Elric said something about the scale on the maps,” Horace objected.

“Sure he did,” Aaren agreed readily. “But he’s wrong on that too. The planets are drawn in, but they’re not to scale. If they were, each one of those charts would have to be hundreds of cubits across.”

“So he’s wrong about everything and you’re right about everything, is that it?” asked Jon sarcastically.

Aaren had the grace to blush and drop his eyes uncomfortably.

"I know what it sounds like,” he confessed, “but he’s trapped by old, groundling habits. He’s looking at a whole new reality and trying to measure it by old methods and it just won’t work.”


“Sorry. Space-going term for people who live on planets. We found it in the books.”


Katrina was following the discussion with the rest of them when a sudden thought occurred to her. She frowned prettily and scooted closer to one of the windows and peeked out. The starlit sky twinkled back at her from all directions. “Uh, excuse me?”

Aaren waved her off. “Just a minute. I’m not trying to insult him, but Elric is trapped by his limitations. He’s like a man who’s never been out of his home village in his life and is suddenly thrust into the middle of Thorginbelt. He’s just not used to it.”

“And you are?” Elric interrupted hotly.

“. . . uh, pardon me. . .”

“I’ve certainly studied it more than you have!” he retorted.

“Oh really? And since when do priests study outer space and the problems associated with it?” Elric sneered.

“Since those priests are dedicated to the Lord of Light!”

“What’s The Healer got to do with space?

“. . . guys? . . .”

“He’s the God who cares for us more than the rest of the gods so he answers our questions more than they do,” he shot back. “Anything that’s worthy of our time to st–”


Katrina’s shout startled them into sudden silence. She smiled sweetly at them. “Why don’t you look outside?” she suggested.

There was a stampede for the windows. Horace won the race and instantly regretted it as the rest of them ran into him from behind. There was a writhing mass of arms and legs for a minute until they managed to untangle themselves. Mira pulled herself up and flung open the windows.

The star-studded sky extended in all directions. Above the ship and below, ahead and behind; everywhere they looked there were thousands of stars, sharper and clearer than they had ever seen them before. They shone with a cold, diamond-hard light in every color of the rainbow. It was a stunning and beautiful sight.

Horace caught his breath and looked out at the endless sky with the rest of them. Katrina leaned over his shoulder and pointed at a group of brilliant stars. “The Bent Sword,” he exclaimed in surprise.

Elric let out a gasp of disbelief. “It can’t be!”

“Of course it is,” Horace told him. “That’s the first constellation my father taught me. It’s part of our family crest.”

“But, but . . . how?”

Katrina laid a friendly hand on Elric’s shoulder, noting with interest it wasn’t as bony as it used to be. He was filling out. “Aaren was right and you were wrong, that’s how,” she purred. “Of course he ignored me before you did, so he loses on that one.” She gave the startled pair a wicked grin.

They pulled themselves back from the window and faced their green-eyed tormentor, faces flushed with embarrassment. “You’re right,” Aaren admitted. “I did ignore you. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Elric nodded. “I ignored you too, and I’m sorry about that. It’s inexcusable. Can you forgive me?”

She smiled and nodded magnanimously at them. “Apologies accepted.” She eyed Elric judiciously. “Don’t you have something to say to our Captain?”

“Oh, yeah, I guess I do.” His eyes dropped and his face reddened even more. “Sorry, Aaren. I guess I just got carried away with my own explanations.”

“That’s alright. I got a little carried away too,” he replied. They grabbed each other in a rib breaking hug and the breach was sealed as quickly as that.

When they stepped back from each other, Aaren continued in a somewhat different vein. “Now that we know which map to use, the one showing Gaia, we still have to figure out where we are on it, and that won’t be easy.” He led them back to their chairs and they all sat down.

“Wait a minute,” Jon objected. “A moment ago you were saying that we should take a sighting on the stars and planets. It sounded easy, but now you’re saying it’s not. What gives?”

Aaren and Elric exchanged a rueful glance before the priest answered. “Taking a sighting is easy. The problem is that from a distance, stars and planets all look pretty much the same; just points of light in the sky. If we had taken off in a more normal fashion we could have plotted a course. Then we’d be able to say, ‘well we should be here and here, let’s take a sighting’, and from that determine our location.” He sighed in frustration. “But, through a comedy of errors, we didn’t take off in a normal fashion, so we didn’t plot a course or set a watch while we were underway or anything else. The fact is, we’re good and lost.”

There was a long silence.

Mira stared at them “But what about those books and stuff that you guys have been reading? Don’t they tell you how to navigate?”

Elric seesawed his hand in the air. “Yeah. So?”

Jon frowned. “Well, if they tell you how to navigate, they should also tell you how to find yourself on the map. Shouldn’t they?” he asked.

Elric smiled thinly. “Do you remember the first time you ever picked a lock?”

Sensing a trap, Jon was hesitant. “Of course.”

“How well did you do at it?”

“Lousy. My teacher finally pushed me aside and did it himself because I was taking too long and we were going to get caught.”

“Had he told you how to do it before you got there? Did he tell you what to expect, what kinds of problems you might run into, or anything like that?” Elric pressed him.


“And yet you still did a lousy job. Now think for a minute; space is huge, none of us have ever navigated a starship before in our lives, we don’t have an instructor around to bail us out of trouble, we’re going by a bunch of books that aren’t too clear on the subject to begin with, and we’re not sure if we’re reading them right anyhow. So, just how well do you think we’re going to do at finding ourselves on the maps?”

“Oh,” he said in a small voice.

Another long silence descended on the room, each of them occupied with their own thoughts. Mira looked from one to another and saw only glum expressions and long faces. When it became obvious that none of them were going to come up with any hot ideas she realized she would have to do something. Aaren was their Captain but right now he was too caught up in the problem of running their ship to cheer anyone up. That made it her job.

She stood up. “Look, since none of us has any ideas right now, why don’t we let it ride for a day or so. We’ve got plenty of food and water, and if what Elric and Aaren have been telling us is true, we’ve also got plenty of air. Why don’t we practice turning the ship and maneuvering in the immediate area, maybe make a few practice runs with the catapults and ballista? Who knows, maybe learning how to do that will give us some better ideas on how to navigate the ship over the distances between the planets and find out where we are.” She paused and looked questioningly at them.

The priest and the mage glanced at each other, then shrugged. Aaren examined her with new interest.

"Sure,” Elric answered for both of them. “Maybe it’ll work.”

Katrina shrugged daintily. “Fine by me.”

“Aaren is the Captain,” Jon said crisply, “but it sounds good to me.”

Mira smiled at him, grateful for his quick support. “Horace? Would you like to make it unanimous?”

“Maybe. But first I have a question.”

She cocked her head warily. “What?”

“What are we going to name our ship?”


“I’m serious. What are we going to name it? It’s ours now. We’re here in space, no one is going to take it from us – they’d have to find us first – so, what are we going to name it?”

Mira was nonplussed. She turned to Aaren but he was shaking his head too. “I never thought about it.”

“I know!” Katrina crowed excitedly. “Let’s call it The Wayward Vagabond.”

Jon clapped a hand to his forehead. “You gotta be kidding,” he groaned.

Her eyes flashed indignantly. “What’s wrong with The Wayward Vagabond? It’s a wonderful name.”

He shuddered “It’s horrible. It sounds like something a shiftless band of cutthroats would name their ship.”

“It does not! It’s a beautiful name, it sings.”

“Croaks is more like it.”

“How about The Squabbler?” Aaren commented acidly to no one in particular. Mira heard and flashed him a quick smile.

“No,” Elric protested. “We have to name it something mysterious and powerful. Words have tremendous power you know.”

“In that case, it should be the called Justice Forever,” Jon said flatly.

“Are you out of your mind?” Katrina squawked.

“She’s right,” Elric snorted. “Besides, since the ship is magical, it should be named in honor of one of the great wizards of history.”

“How about the Sky Hawk?” Horace ventured.

Aaren rolled his eyes at the brewing debate that had the potential to escalate out of control and seized on Horace’s suggestion with lightning speed. “That’s a wonderful name! The Sky Hawk it is!” he proclaimed swiftly.

His eyes flickered to Mira, warning her to support him or else. She lifted one eyebrow at him but went along with it. “Yeah, I think so too. I vote for the Sky Hawk.”

“That’s three votes for the Sky Hawk,” Aaren said. “Does any other name have that many votes?”

“Hey, wait a minute,” Elric complained. “You’re going too fast. Slow down.”

“Going once,” Aaren continued, ignoring his protest. “Going twice. . .”

“Wait! What are you doing?” Katrina and Jon exclaimed.

“. . .going three times. Done! The Sky Hawk it is. Mira, see to it the new name gets painted over the old one.”

“Aye aye, Captain.” She gave him a look that said he’d pay a price for this later on.

Katrina was looking back and forth in confusion. “Hey, what is this?”

Aaren jumped up. “Meeting adjourned,” he said briskly. He strode quickly out of the room, taking Mira and Horace with him. The rest stared after him in shock.

“Well, I’ll be a moth-eaten troll,” Elric grumbled good-naturedly. “I think we’ve just been royally had.”

Everything on my web site is free but if you like my writing, please consider donating. Thanks!
donate button
Chapter Index
arrow-back-chapter-19 arrow-forward-chapter-21