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Chapter 17 - Killer Koandas of Quadrant-5 (page 1 of 10)

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We were on course, but the course we'd set was more than a modest modicum of treacherousness. Time is always of the essence, but never so much as it is when you've got somewhere to be, which we did. Time was short, place was far and there was no time for pit stops on the inter-stellar highway. Not Hershey, not otherwise.

Being an interstellar swashbuckler is no easy work and not just your average Joe is cut out for it. It takes the strength of an ox, the mind of an Ipmarian uber dolphin and nerves of tectanitron steetanium. Good looks don't hurt either.

Space cadets are hand picked, groomed more thoroughly than Clark Gable's moustache, and tested more rigorously than a sprinters rancorous urine after a record blast in the hundred meter. Though common diseases of mind and body had been intelligently designed out of the human race thousands of years ago, mediocrity was a an affliction that still poisoned mankind from the itchy outposts of the crab nebula right back to Uranus.

And the universe is no place for mediocrity.

The pressures of space, despite the inherent zero pressure vacuity of it all, was usually all it took for even strong men to crumble, and that speaks nothing of the terrors, dangers and wit-engaging challenges that lurk behind every empty patch of dark nothingness that is the inter-stelaria of deepest space. A mind like a steel trap can be the difference between life and death, but a mind like an erhoovium alloy gigantigoliath mortasnare can be the difference between merely living and the life of a hero.

None had the mental fortitude of Tek Jansen. I'm a man of laser machined nanospiral titanium constitution. Nothing gives me pause and nothing instills me with fearÖ or at least, that's what the Interplanetary Commission has always believed. As a master of everything I'd ever put my chip-riddled mind to, most specifically my own mind, I could control anything, even the most sophisticated of the very tests designed to determine the presence of a fear that could paralyze a soldier and jeopardize a mission.

Oh yes, fear can jeopardize and paralyze. It can ruin a man, a mission and the very space mates the man is entrusted to protect.

When it came to tests of merit and metal I was second to none, even when it entailed gamma-dinello scans of my inter-synaptic protoneural conjectrotomotons. Pictures of bunnies, no problem. Holofilm of the Romulan Catholic crusades of sector 19, I was unfazed. A live action snuff scene set mere feet away from my scroll testing capsule, not an issue for me. I just leaned back in that scrotesty, not so much as a flinch or modest shift in penile volume.

Come on people, I'm a pro.

But all that was kid stuff. For a lesser man it would have been a test, but no one's ever had the nerve to suggest considering the insinuation of pondering the possibility of perhaps conceiving the notion that I was anything less than a really, really great man. Even those who suggest using merely two "really"s to describe me often tasted my french fisticuffs for the insult, and I never lost.

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