Stardusters #2 Night Wynd, 1991, b&w.
1 >Stardusters #2 cover Rigell's ship is charged with electricity as it nears the worm giants in space. His ship heads at an asteroid but an awakening Tapiet makes Silverband stop it. On the asteroid there is an oxygen atmosphere. Silverband tells Tapiet that he teases him but that he is really one of the most valuable beings in the universe. Rigell is conscious and will find out what aBook is by playing that he is unconscious. Info from Tapiet has saved 300 species in this quadrant alone and the Worm's people seven times. Without Books, there wouldn't be a Universe. Tapiet's cure is the cure for Eldrich's blight. A race suffering for 500 years are a people that once ruled a splendid civilization and now are the dregs of society. Tapiet sees Rigell is awake and they argue briefly. Rigell tells them he didn't fire on them. Tapiet makes the argument stop. A giant cloud with a mouth, a blob in space, Imperial Slavers, arrive. They are bigger than the worms even. Inside, an octo mouth shell backed creature is the commander and he has small, puny insectoid bug eyed boys serving him. With a claw he chokes one, telling it that humanoids (Hummies) have more spirit than these genetic freaks. Rigell tries a hyper drive maneuver, skimming a super string to distort their sensors, "And when we go back into normal space, we will be..." Rigell gasps, "Shit!!" The mouth of the slaver ship blob thing is in front of them. Tapiet tells Rigell that these things only respect warriors: fight them or you're screwed. Tapiet gets clawed but Rigell fights. Tapiet tells the alien commander he brought him Rigell. Tapiet sells him as a "fine gladiator for the Farinick Games." Tapiet thinks that this is not what it seems. Tapiet tells the alien commander chains will be fine but not to put him in the same cage as Rigell. The slave boy bug needs information and knows Tapiet is aBook. Tapiet must furnish the info for the boy who needs info about where a safe place for his people will be. For Tapiet it is a genetic imperative. For 1000 years the bug boy's people have been slaves and they have wings and antennas as well as black eyes. The games are held on the boundaries of Imperium Space and QLU and Fed O's space and the cure is for a member of the QLU. Tapiet knows they will be closest to the Order in one hour. Tapiet must get the info for the Second (the bug boy). In 45 minutes it is time to go to the troughs--where the slaves eat. Seconds are supposed to be less than human so they are to be like furniture.. a stool, a foot rest, even a urinal. Strange aliens are about, one with strange helmet, one with a tree like hairdo, another that looks like a seas lion person. The trio get into a secret passage and get to a scout pod bay and into a small ship. Tapiet tells Rigell to go to hyper drive instantly and he snaps he is the captain and he will decide. He decides to go to hyper drive instantly. 3 hours later they leave hyper space and QLU ships surround them. Strange flower like noses on the ships. For thousands of years QLU believed their's was the only civilization in the universe, they are xenophobic and arrogant. Soon, a uniform type has Rigell with mechanical braces on his arms against a wall, the Second in wristchains against a wall and up. One guard tells the leader that they seem to be speaking some sort of bastardized Kelmeinese. Rigell (with no shirt on and tattered black flight pants) and Tapiet have their shirts off. Tapiet has on a neck collar connected to a metal tube to the wall; he also wears only a loin cloth. An old bearded colonel tells a Lt he wants to know where they came from. Tapiet tells them they are from the fringes but the Lt doesn't believe him that he is on a mission for Alpha Prime Korskoff. Lt slaps Tapiet. Alpha Prime is the leader of a research organization called the Order. They are the VIPest, Tapiet says. The colonel returns, telling them Korskoff denies any knowledge of Tapiet but Tapiet tells him they didn't ask his name so how could they provide Korskoff with information about him. They bring a holo com to the basement cell and Tapiet says hello to the young looking Korskoff. Tapiet tells him the disease is more like a fungus than a virus. Tapiet tells Lord Korskoff he is the answer to the enquiry. Korskoff orders them untied but not freed until he gets there. Tapiet is playing this by ear. He feels they must get out of here: these people have done vivisections on creatures they didn't feel were human enough. Rigell tells Tapiet to stick with him, calling him a kid. Rigell grabs Korskoff and Tapiet ties his hands. Second is told to get their guns. Rigell tells them if either of them move he will break this pompous ass neck. The Colonel warns the entire police force will be after them. Tapiet has a small hand gun trained on red robes Korskoff, "All right, yer nibs, let's take a little ride." They get away in their ship. The Colonel orders his men after them.