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interstellar travel

Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 8

He tugged at the reeds with both hands, then raised them up and regarded his handiwork. He had fashioned a small crown with the green stone set into its center. He offered it to the Officer, but the other man made no move to take it. Shrugging, he tossed it into the silver pool.

“Why did you really come to Lumina?” the Officer asked at last.

“To escape I suppose, but also because I did not want to live in a universe where war was the sole antidote to barbarity.”

“But battle is the only way to keep people honest, it’s human nature.”

Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 7

A rustling sound woke him. He sat up and looked around. Perched on a rock a little ways off was the Admiral, brow creased as he delicately wove together several strands of reeds. The Officer looked down in horror at his mud-stained uniform. The abruptness of waking had shocked him back into his former self, if only temporarily. His entire body tensed up at the state of his hygiene.

“How long have I been asleep?” he asked sharply.

“Some time.”

“And how long have you been here?”

“Oh, some time, some time.”

Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 6

The path, barely wide enough for one person, twisted between behemoth trees twice the height of the bungalows in the village. All was shrouded in near darkness by the locked-tight canopy, and electrically charged bugs flew through the air in great numbers, breaking apart into a shower of sparks at the slightest contact. The ground sank underfoot but did not break, as if an ocean of mud lay just below a latticework of grass. Faint chiming calls echoed from above and overlapped endlessly, creating a polyphonous chorus.

Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 5

As he turned to go down the ladder, the Officer heard a commotion outside. He dove down through the square opening in the floor and did a handspring on the ground, landing in a defensive crouch. In a flash he produced long sleek gun barrels from under his sleeves.

His soldiers stood to the left, aiming their rifles at a small dirty man squatting on the ground.

“What is the situation Lieutenant?” the Officer said.

Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 4

The Admiral appeared startled, then he leaned forward and his eyes twinkled. “Is that so?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And why is that?”

Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 3

He surfaced in a large room with a low ceiling. It was lit warmly, though he saw no visible source of illumination. The walls were pale and smooth, and a rug of tightly knit blue and green fibers covered the floor. A small desk with a cushion to kneel on looked out the sole window onto a tangle of branches and leaves. A slim, fragile door without a handle led into the only other room. The Admiral sat on a chair made of woven reeds, watching the Officer with a wide, toothy grin. In the close, welcoming light of his quarters, his eyes were brilliant pebbles.

Last Flight of the Admiral Stalkforth 1

An idle wind blew across the lake. A giant infernal sun gazed overhead through a gap in the tree canopy, tracing the roving swells in metallic red. On the banks sat a lone man watching the ebb and flow of all around him. The water, the wide leaves of the trees, the grass and the reeds all moved to the same unsteady meter. In the distance he thought he heard the musical plucking of strings, but he couldn’t be sure.