Brendan Howard, Author

from the adventures of Bart Battly

“Yipee!” The small, electronic voice came from a thick disc, about six inches in diameter, floating in the air. This disc had squares located on one side to indicate the location of its optical sensors. The robotic disc moved swiftly with a soft whir towards a handsome man. Then it flew in rings around the man’s head.

“Chip! Stop that!” the man’s booming voice yelled. As he arose, the man could be seen as Bart Battly, guardian of the galaxy. His metal whip and stun pistol at his side, Bart gave the small robot a stern look.

“I’m sorry, Captain Battly, but Noyac is my favorite star system. Noyac-1 has all those electronic doodads and whatchamacallits. I am just so jubilated that the Alien Force is sending us there today!” Chip apologized and explained simultaneously.

“I know who else is excited,” Bart said sarcastically as a beautiful young woman entered the cockpit of the spaceship.

“Bart, do we have to go to that awful Noyac system?” the woman inquired. “All the planets have muck and swamps and icky stuff like that.” She was strikingly feminine with long blonde hair and a curvy body. Her blue eyes glimmered with hope as she asked.

“Yes, Serena, we have to go! Your diplomatic skills will be useful on this mission. Also, your mother asked my mother to keep an eye on you, and that’s what I’m going to do,” Bart answered.

“Oh, darn!” Serena sighed as she collapsed into the comfy first mate’s chair.

“Ready for take-off, sir!” Chip’s high-pitched voice, almost like a child’s, interjected.

“Okay, Chip,” Bart answered as he strapped in. “Start the countdown.”

A digital sensor screen popped out of the top of Chip’s metal exterior. Laser-induced numbers appeared.

10. 9. 8.

“I really don’t want to go, Bart.”

7. 6. 5.

“You’re going, Serena.”

4. 3. 2.

“I want my mommy…”

1. 0.

Then the spaceship, designated the Black Hole, blasted into space and approached a hyperspace wormhole. As they reached the speed of sound, the sonic boom was not even noticed, for it was such a common noise. Within minutes, they arrived in the beautiful Noyac system. Each planet was a different hue of blue or green, and each of them supported lifeforms. For the moment, Serena was glad she had come.

The Black Hole docked on the planet known as Noyac-7. After several minutes, the three friends were exploring the area in an X-237 scouting craft.

After finding and analyzing minerals, insects, and plant life on the surface, Chip noticed a movement about fifty feet away.

“Captain Battly, there is a creature hiding behind that large boulder,” Chip mechanically whispered.

Indeed there was. Bart saw a biped, hunched forward, somewhat humanoid and covered in a deep green fur. The creature appeared to be very frightened.

As Bart moved closer to the mysterious green creature, suddenly a laser bolt shot out and squarely struck him in the back. With a bloodcurdling scream, the creature fell to the ground in agony and rolled over before losing consciousness and going limp.

Serena activated her personal deflector shields and accelerated the scouting craft to the source of the deadly laser.

“Serena! You’re actually racing into danger!” said Bart, sounding impressed. “This kind of bravery is quite unexpected!”

“Of course,” Serena replied. “That little green guy was cute.”

Within seconds, they reached the source of the bolt. Horrified, Bart did a double-take. The murderous humanoid looked exactly the same as the other creature, except this one was an orange color!

Bart fired his stun ray and hit his target squarely in the chest. Then he, Serena, and Chip moved closer to examine the creature frozen in an attack pose.

Chip broke the silence by saying, “Captain Battly, my scans reveal that there is no physiological difference between the orange creature and the green one. My memory banks tell me that they are called Ghaets and they are native to this planet.”

“Thanks for the background, Chip. It’s clear to me that these Ghaets are plagued with a deadly prejudice,” said Bart.

Serena added, “I have heard of the Ghaets. From what I remember, they are supposed to live in harmony with each other, and violence is completely unknown to them.”

Chip hummed a bit and emitted, “A more recent database search reveals that gamma radiation accidentally focused on a single village of Ghaets caused their fur to turn green.”

Serena stood upright. “We need to straighten this out.”

“You’re right, Serena. Let’s go.”

After loading the stunned Ghaet and his victim into a suspended animation storage compartment on the scouting craft, the heroic trio used their scanning equipment to find the nearest village and arrived to find an argument brewing between two Ghaets: one green and one orange. Before their disagreement could turn violent, Bart floated down on an anti-gravity tube and used his mighty metal whip to separate them from each other.

“Listen to me! You need to look past your superficial differences! You are the same! The color of your fur is not a reason for distrust or conflict!”

Taken by surprise, the orange Ghaet lowered his fists and replied in broken Common language, “They...have changed.”

Then Serena floated down, saying, “All of us may change as time goes by. The green Ghaets are still the same inside. The color outside doesn’t change anything inside.”

Bart continued, “One of you may be a better hunter and another could be a better cook. Some of you are born leaders and others have mastered education. None of that is influenced by the color of your fur, only your innate abilities and the strength of your character!”

Chip broke in, saying, “We’re not saying that you need to treat everyone like your programmer—I mean like family. All we ask is that you look past your differences and work together as equals.”


The orange and green Ghaets turned toward each other, let down their defensive postures, and each held out a hand for a friendly handshake. The rest of the village cheered, and before long the youngest of the Ghaets were playing games together, regardless of color.

After the wounded green Ghaet had received medical attention and the orange Ghaet had been turned over to the village elders for judgement, the heroic trio returned to the Black Hole to reflect on their experience.

Serena gushed, “I can’t believe we were able to make such a difference in the lives of those Ghaets!”

Bart nodded, and then warned, “This is only the first step toward a greater understanding among them. While it’s not so easy to eliminate prejudice, they have taken the first step. We will need to stay in touch with the village elders to track their progress over time.”

“You’re right, of course,” said Serena. “You can’t change the deeply-held prejudices of five thousand Ghaets overnight.”

Chip interrupted, saying, “The most recent census in my memory banks indicates that the population of Ghaets on this planet is 5,287 with an estimated increase every month of…”


“Yes, Captain Battly?”

“Shut up!”

“Yes, sir,” Chip sighed.

As the Black Hole swooped into space, the three friends were left laughing as they flew deeper into the infinite void.

* * *

© 1997- Brendan Howard
All rights reserved.