A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 6 (Final)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The transporter was set to drop me into the middle of the funerary celebrations. I had planned to land on the stage next to the priest giving my eulogy. I missed, even being a prophet isn’t fool-proof and I’m certainly more of a fool than I like to admit.

Instead of the stage, I materialized front and centre on the casket. Standing and looking over the crowds I said, “Closed casket was a good idea.”

The priest on the stage blanched, kneeled, and said, “But you’re supposed to be dead.”

“The reports of my death were exaggerated.” As I spoke, I looked around. We were in the anti-grav stadium, the only structure on Venus large enough to hold several million viewers. It was home to the Venusian Vultures, the greatest anti-grav team in the solar system. I’d snuck into more games here as a child than I could remember. I hadn’t seen the playing field this close since I’d first become Sun-Speaker. There were large thrones set up around the stage and casket for each Solar-Monarch. The Venusian Empire had two delegates, their king and queen. I nodded to their queen and my ex-best friends. The Martian thrones were empty and I shook my head. The independent Republic of the Asteroid belt had their president and her wife. The Jupiter Protectorate had their monarchs, and the Uranus Confederate had their current warlord. I did a double take when I saw that the Trans-Neptunian Parliament had sent two of its representatives. The androgynous TNP members nodded at me and were cheeky enough to wink at me.

The crowd had started to applaud quietly when I appeared. Unsure if they should be celebrating or booing. “Friends, Venusians, Countrymen,” some openings for speeches were classic for a reason, “I am alive and I have come here for an explanation. Why have I been declared dead when blood still rushes through my veins?” I paused, turning away from the crowd I spoke to the centre chairs holding the Venusians, “Why?” a few seconds and I repeated, “Why?” The crowd got the idea and soon I had near two million voices chanting with me. It was pretty amazing.

Rising from her chair, Gwindolyn, whom I’d always known as Gwin, the high Queen of Venus and protector of the inner planets lifted her hands silencing the crowd.

“Sun-Speaker, this is not a funeral, this is a trial. We knew your ego would force you to come and face us.” The casket sprouted arms and clasped itself to each of my limbs and my neck. You shouldn’t have come. You knew it was a trap. Gwin spoke to me in my mind, her limited telepathic powers and more than a decade with me allowed her that.

“What are the charges?” I demanded.

Sighing she said, “You are charged with impersonating a Sun-Speaker and abusing the holy rights of that office.”

Dramatically I threw my head back and laughed. “Did you need proof of my office?” I started collecting heat around me slowly preparing for a blast of pure energy.

All the delegates are shielded from heat based attacks.

I know Gwin but it’ll startle the smug little jerks.

“We all know you are powerful. That is not in question. The church of Sol has repealed your status and it is the opinion of this council that you are a fraud.”

“The only frauds I see on sitting on thrones,” I spat out the words with contempt. The crowd cheered, unfortunately they didn’t decide my fate.

“Your contempt for authority of all kinds is well documented.” The Venusian King laughed, sitting as if he were at a show and not a trial.

“Hal, formerly known as the Sun-Speaker, on the charge of impersonating a Sun-Speaker, how do you plead?”

“Not guilty, but you’ve already made up your minds.”

“Had you pleaded guilty we could have shown mercy. Since you deny the obvious, your sentence is immediate death.” I’m sorry Hal. I tried to stop them.

I know Gwin, I smiled up at her. Turning to the crowd I said, “I have acted as the Sun-Speaker for twenty-three glorious years. I regret only that I couldn’t do more.” I took off my official garb and revealed a simple Venusian’s peasants outfit. “Let me die as I was born, one of the nameless, faceless mass, of glorious Venusian people.” I paused. “You are the empire; you are its lifeblood, its strength, and its beauty. Long live the Venusian People. May they someday taste freedom.”

I heard the plasma gun a moment before the searing pain passed through my back and exposed my chest. In my last few moments of life I heard two-million voices rising up in anger chanting, “Freedom.”

***

When my eyes opened again I saw grey ceiling tiles and smelled antiseptic. “If this is the afterlife it needs more interior decorators.” My chest hurt, but when I looked down, the hole I’d seen was gone.

Standing around my bed, Janet, Suzie, Travis, Adric, and Caro smiled down at me. Even dead, they didn’t laugh at my jokes.

“You’re not dead Hal. I used my blood to synthesize more of my serum. You’ll live.” Janet, with the prophetic powers of Caro, had worked up a serum that could heal me.

“I was supposed to die. The revolution…”

“Is twice as strong with a martyr that rose from the grave in front of them,” Caro’s voice echoed in my head.

“What about Sol? Do I…” Sol interrupted me with a huge dump of information, but it only hurt a little. Nothing like it had before.

“Hal, your body reacted oddly to the serum, instead of making you younger it has boosted your natural healing ability to amazing levels.” Janet’s mouth was open.

Sitting up and feeling a phantom ache in my chest I said, “Since I’m not dead, we might as well do some good. Who’s up for saving the Venusian Royal family from an angry mob?”

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I’m not a great man. I’m a glorified do-gooder with a soft spot for underdogs. I’ve made small changes and big changes. All of these have been at the orders of my God and Master Sol but they’ve all been for humanity.

When I die, a small group will mourn and a much larger group will celebrate. Ten years later I’ll be remembered fondly by some and forgotten by most. I’m ok with that. My closest friends will always remember me. They are a loyal, no I mean ridiculously loyal, group.

That’s why I needed to get them away from my funeral and death. If I gave them any chance to save me, they’d all die with me. I couldn’t stomach that idea.

“Where to next, boss?” asked Adric. He’d been on the ship for less than a day and he’d already made it twenty times more efficient and got rid of that annoying rattle in the life support.

“We need one last member of the crew to survive this.” I paused for dramatic effect and the coms bleeped. I pressed the button and a person with shoulder length purple hair appeared on the vid screens.

“Everyone,” I said. “This is Caro. They are the systems strongest telepath and precog.” They all looked from the androgynous figure on the screen and me. “Yes, they are stronger than I am. With the two of us, how could we possibly lose?”

Smiling, the ethereally attractive figure said, “Hal. You’ll have to pick me up on Eris.”

I don’t like this old friend. They spoke to me in my mind from over eighty astronomical units away.

You’ve seen what will happen if you save me. They’ll need your guidance. You’ve always been more careful and wise than me. I was buttering them up and they knew it.

Fine. I’ll do this because I know we will make a better solar system, but I don’t like it.

I know. Neither do I. Goodbye my friend. See you on the other side.

As we’d been speaking they had introduced themselves to the crew and given me coordinates to pick them up.

I must have looked as bad as I felt, for I felt Janet’s hand on my shoulder. I patted the hand and said, “I’m feeling tired. Been a long couple of days. I’ll take a nap. Travis, do you mind?”

“You must be feeling bad if you’re letting me take over.” Travis knew I was a little bit of a control freak.

Standing shakily, I headed to my room. When I’d turned the corner, Suzie walked up behind me and took my arm. “How bad is it?” she asked.

“Bad. One more episode will probably kill me.” I lied. I could have survived at least three more. I leaned on her for support.

“Why haven’t you told Janet?”

“She’ll want to use inhibiters to prevent my contact with Sol. It would save my life but I’d be utterly useless to everyone.”

“Do you really think you’d be useless?” she asked.

“I’m nothing without Sol,” I said, thinking of the boy I was before I became the Sun-Speaker, an orphaned street kid with more brains than sense. Compared to the crew I’d assembled, I was an intellectual dwarf, they didn’t need me.

We reached my room and Suzie let me down on my bunk a little harder than she should have. “You’re an idiot Hal. None of us give a damn about Sol or the messages he gives you. It’s you that we respect and…” she hesitated, trying to decide if she should say what she wanted to.

Reaching out a hand and caressing her cheek, I said what she was too proud to say, “I love you too.”

“Get some rest. We’re going to your funeral but I’d like you to stick around for a while.” She stood up and left.

Waiting until I was sure no one was going to interrupt me I changed into the official draperies of my office as Sun-Speaker and snuck down to the cargo hold. Once inside I went straight for the matter transporter and programmed my coordinates. The mathematical formulae needed to dissolve my form and reassemble it were extra tricky but I had Sol to help.

As I pressed the button, I whispered, “Goodbye, my friends.”

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

The forests of Mercury, through a twist of optics and evolution, were a bright pink colour. Unlike the green of Earth or the dark brown of Mars, you end up feeling pretty silly being terrified by bright pink trees. I knew nothing as going to kill us in the New-Black Forest, stupid name, but I was a city and spaceship kind of person. Walking the wilds of Mercury looking for a small town that shouldn’t exist wasn’t my idea of fun.

“Would you stop jumping at every twig and shadow?” Suzie was the only crew member to come with me. Janet didn’t want to be recognized and Adric said he needed to work on the ship. I knew what they really wanted to do, but I also knew it wasn’t going to happen for a few more years. They would take my death very hard.

“There are things everywhere on this planet that want to kill me.”

“We’re not on Earth. The biggest wildlife they have here are cats.”

“Did you know that cats will eat their owners if the owner dies? That means they want to kill me.”

“I’ve seen you stare down some of the most dangerous people in the system and you’re afraid of a cat?” Suzie rolled her eyes as we approached Green Lake. I really need to have a terse word with the person who named these things.

Green Lake was neither a lake nor green. In fact it was a small jungle town with a river running through it. The ground was brown and the trees were still pink. The native people, having absorbed millennia of radiation, were nearly completely black.

This semi-tropical area was considered ideal, especially by people who didn’t want to be found. We checked the bar first. Some things never change. The man I was looking for was an old friend and that’s why when I found him, his fist found my face.

“Nice to see you too, Travis.” I mumbled through a few napkins quickly filling with blood. His pale grey eyes almost glowed in their dark sockets. Suzie had her sword out and it sang with power.

“What do you want, Hal?”

“I need a pilot and I want the best.”

“Do you have any idea what they did to me in that Pirate Ship?” he looked at me with anger and I returned his look with my own. I knew every pain and every injustice that the Pirates had inflicted on him. I had experienced each second with him. I knew his pain as if it was my own.

“Yes. I know, and trust me, worse would have happened to you if I’d taken you with me.”

“How much does this job pay?” I could see his anger soften as he started to understand how intimately I understood his pain.

“It pays room, board, and a small salary. It also lets you pilot the greatest ship in the solar system.” Both he and Suzie laughed at that. When he laughed I could see through the pain that made him look much older than his forty years. “I’m not joking. I’m assembling the best crew and ship possible to go back to Venus.”

“What’s on Venus?” he asked.

“We’re going to my funeral.”

Another hearty chuckle and he replied, “I’m in!”

On the uncomfortable trek back to the ship, I hate nature, Suzie walked ahead and Travis walked next to me. He asked the question I didn’t want to answer, “You’re dying aren’t you?”

“Yep, but these visions aren’t going to kill me yet.”

“What will?” He looked at me and added, “You’re preparing a ship of people to continue your work. Aren’t you?”

“How did you know?” I said, sighing in fatigue. I always felt weak now.

“I was your captain for two years, I know you.”

“Sol let me know that I would die at my funeral, feels almost ironic.”

“Can we stop it?” he asked and it sent a shiver up my spine. My premonition told me that if anyone tried to stop my death, it would lead to terrible things. Empires falling terrible.

“No, and I don’t want you to try.”

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 2

Part 1

“I’m sure they’ve forgotten all about that by now.” The two women gave me identical looks. I don’t think I’d ever told them what happened, but they apparently knew me well enough to know it was dramatic. I like dramatic; it’s fun.

Looking that the two women and giving my best dramatic sigh, I told them the story, “When I first discovered I was slowly dying, I didn’t take it well and decided to take a vacation. What better place than Callisto. It had soft sand, endless beaches and the grandest casinos in the system.

“While I was winning at the poker tables which had some of the best poker chips I’d ever seen, I swear I wasn’t using any telepathic or prophetic powers, I started chatting with the other players and discovered that the casinos were run by a syndicate of the organized crime variety. That got me exploring the less touristy areas and discovering that while the syndicate was making lot of money with the casinos and resorts, that money wasn’t coming anywhere near the locals.”

We walked towards the bridge and they both smiled knowing me enough to know I’d meddle. What can I say? I’m a meddler.

“Before I had much of a chance to snoop, they found me, stripped me and dumped me in less than mint condition on top of a landfill. As I lay naked on some really uncomfortable garbage, Sol decided to give me some extra information. I couldn’t do anything to incite a revolution and I couldn’t do anything to attack the syndicate directly. Doing that would end with them being stronger, or one of the empires claiming the planet.

“Obviously, I couldn’t leave things the way they were. Sol works in mysterious ways and that’s when I met Adric.

“Besides helping me out of the garbage pile and helping me find some decent quality if not smelly, clothing, he built me a mini computer to contact my ship. I was travelling alone at the time. I took the brilliant eight year old onto my ship, fed him and had a brilliant idea. What if the casinos and resorts belonged to the people of Callisto and not the Syndicate?

“From there, it was just a matter of hacking the Syndicate, the banks, the Inter-Solar monetary fund, and the Jupiter Alliance Protectorate.”

We all sat down at our designated posts. Me in the pilot chair, Janet on sensors, and Suzie on weapons.

“In one brilliant coup, Adric managed to make the syndicate broke and the people of Callisto rich. I made sure they were protected with heavy bribes to the Jupiter Protectorate and the Solar-Monetary fund.

“The next day’s stock market showed a marked increase in business to Callisto and they’ve been living happily, and profitably, ever since. The planet was filled with the well off and every tourist they encouraged to visit made them more money.

“After a long talk, Adric decided he’d rather stay on the planet and attend school. I may have helped him along by paying for a private education,” I finished.

“So why is there a warrant for your arrest on the planet then?” asked Suzie.

“People are afraid of power, and I had just rearranged a planets financial and political landscape in one brilliant move…” I drifted off knowing the women would figure it out.

“They were afraid that you’d do it again.” Janet shook her head.

“And they didn’t trust my benevolence. Isn’t this face trustworthy?”

“I’ve learned one thing in my long life, it’s that men as handsome as you are never trustworthy.” Janet said it with a gravitas that only fools and those who’ve lived long enough to gather true wisdom could pull off. It made me almost giggle. Bartenders on most worlds wouldn’t serve her anything with alcohol in it.

“Don’t tell him he’s handsome,” Suzie said, misinterpreting my smirk. “How he’ll be insufferable for days.”

As I had told them my story I had also calculated the jump that would put us in close orbit with Callisto. Sol had shown me that Adric needed help and I needed a mechanic, there was only so much I could do to keep this boat flying.

The ship’s panels started making panicked noises. “What did you do?” asked both women at the same time. Suzie sat down.

“It’s just three Jupiter Protectorate battleships. I’ll deal with it.”

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral – Part 1

Hello,

I am currently on blog vacation either at Disney or Editing my books. Here’s a fun little story following Hal the Sun Speaker. It’s the third in a series but completely stand alone.

If you’d like you can read Hal the Sun Speaker, or The Assassin. If not continue after the cut.

Thank you for reading!

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