The Super Wizard From Space #23

"The Super Funeral Of Sharkasaurus Rex, Part 2" by

Hanaya carefully laid all his sharp implements upon the stone altar before him. Many he had used before, when as a younger man he earned a comfortable living at his trade. Others he had seen drawings of, in old thin manuscripts full of carefully guarded secrets. A great many he had never encountered before now, of unusual shapes and various sizes, but all with razor sharp purpose. He was careful with each and every one, coating them in choji oil, cleaning them with a white clothe, oiling them again, and finally arranging them with a practiced efficiency upon the stone.

He wiped his hands on his bloody apron, then stroked his long grey beard with a smile. It was with great experience that he could judge the quality and balance of a blade and in all the experience, he had never worked with such magnificent instruments.

"I trust all has been completed satisfactorily?" asked the flat voice over his shoulder.

Hanaya nearly jumped out of his wooden sandals in surprise. He shut his eyes tightly, turned around and bowed deeply in what he hoped was the general direction of the voice. "Oh yes! The rice was perfectly cooked, the vinegar at the ready, the nori dry, and the instruments provided of impeccable quality. Never has an artist like myself had access to such a perfect kitchen! All honor to you, the living incarnation of unseeable philosophies!"

"Oh, cut that out. You can look at me. I will not tolerate old ways for the sake of old ways."

"But... but this is tradition! It is the great honor bestowed upon the guardians of heaven, earned by the Invisible Monks long..."

"Not earned by me. For no service bestowed upon you. If I am to have honors, it will be honors gained in the now, by my own hands," came a reply that made attempts to be scholarly but was painted with a thin coat of disgust. "Now, open your eyes."

Hanaya slowly opened his eyes. He stared at the widely splayed toes of large, grey gecko feet.

A sigh, "Stand up straight."

He swallowed and began following the form up. A loose fuligin robe around a tall form. Wide breezy sleeves that met in the front, neatly hiding steepled hands. A necklace of thick glass beads, each the size of a man's fist. And finally, nine feet up, a great monochrome lizard head, looking down at him with fog-colored eyes and a satisfied smirk.

"Hee hee hee! See? Here I am, for any to gaze upon! Long past time to shake free of old habits, eh?"

"Er, yes. Yes." Hanaya was unsure about this strangeness, but it came from a holy being, so it must be a wisdom beyond his own simple wits. "Thank you, Andy Dharma."

Andy waved a wave dismissively. "The Invisible Monks are only the hosts. The true honor belongs to our super-funeral guests, which have gathered to honor the departed Sharkasaurus Rex. Hm," the lizard tilted his head and rubbed his chin, "I think you should join them."

"Join them? Dear heavens! But they have come from across the cosmos to pay homage to the Star Beast, not tolerate an old man."

"Even the quietest of musicians can be part of the mightiest of orchestras! If you had no place in these proceedings, we certainly would not have invited you." The lizard smiled and, with a arm over Hanaya's shoulder, led him down a path toward the Gong Ago. "They will be indulging in your work, work you have slaved away at for days. I think that is at least worth a seat amongst them."

Hanaya mumbled an agreement that satisfied the grey lizard who, with a pat on the back, let him on his way. Following the wide path, Hanaya wandered around the outside of the great peak, up a slight incline, and to the flat metal plane of the Gong Ago. He remembered, as a child, when wise men spoke of the massive metal disc that hung in the valley, that it was originally a second sun that was hammered flat and presented to the guardians of heaven by thin and distant gods. Now, with inconceivable power, the mighty disc had been laid flat, wedged between the two mountains, forming a majestic plain... a fitting place for the giants of the universe to gather.

They gathering about an impossibly long, spiraling table. All looking solemn, all muttering in low voices. Those that had voices, Hanaya supposed. They gathered in groups and shared super-tales of the dead constellation, how they too had been visited by the Star Beast. Such amazing beings from across unimaginable stretches! Barons that explore the sometimes-pasts and possible-futures! Great informational humanoids who modify reality around them in new and inverse ways! Vicious looking humanoids that reminded him of majestic samurai but spoke so foully and obscenely that even he cringed, despite not knowing their elite language.

Hanaya tried his best to be inconspicuous, tried his best not to gain the attention of so mighty and terrible a crowd. He was nearly too successful, as an oversized metal foot nearly stepped on him.

"Oh! By the Silver City, my apologies, little flesh thing!" boomed an electronic voice from fare above him. "I hope I did not damage you?"

Hanaya instinctively bowed deeply. "I should not have been underfoot, great... um... sir!"

"Sir? Hardly!" was the cheerful reply as the great figure kneeled down. It was over three times Hanaya's own height and made of odd steel angles, but moved with a surprising grace. "Though I'm certain we all seem constructed the same to your lot, I was manufactured with much more feminine lines, I'll have you know. I am called Aqua Marine. Well, in actuality, my full designation is Second Series Power Combo Connecter Edition Aqua Marine, but you look like you may have a restrictive character count in your variable-character columns, so you may refer to me as just Aqua Marine."

An oversize metal hand was held out at him. He barely managed to wrap his own around a single solid digit. "I am... Hanaya."

"Hanaya? I've logged that username before, haven't I? Searching... yes. Yes! I recall now, you are the unit readying the feast!" Hanaya nodded, though the metal giant rambled on regardless. "I had the good fortune to have been in full operational efficiency when the ghost shark and his school interfaced with the Citizenship! It was only a short filler adventure, released on fifth-week schedules, but one fondly recalled by enthusiastic collectors." { Solar Sails Generation R #5 }


"Do not underestimate the value of those one-offs!" it chastised him. "A series is just as incomplete without them as it is with even the most sought-after cross-over! Why, the entire Second Series Power Combo Connecters would not be worth the factory molds they came from without every single unit present, even lowly Aqua Oceanic. Speaking of which, where did that gossiping hussy disappear to..."

It stood tall, looking over most of the crowd until a crackling-pop came out of its speaker grill in what Hanaya assumed was a shocked gasp. "There she is, trying to chat up another of those stone avatars again! Trying to negotiate for collapsiron no doubt, like even that could reinforce her lopsided stern! Excuse me," it barely tossed the apology over its shoulder before stalking away. Hanaya found a series of different sized cubes that he hoped was for seating. Gingerly he settled his tired frame upon one, tense that it might suddenly protest. When it didn't, he finally relaxed. What amazing things, these demi-gods! Striding across the stars and come to humble Amity to pay homage to a fallen constellation. And here he was, with a place among them! A place of honor! Of magnificent importance as all these wondrous beings of the heavens and sickening monsters of the pit.

His gaze caught a dire looking group across the table from him, all dressed in black metal, all with fiercely glowing eyes. All of them looking directly at him. Hanaya suddenly felt a deep guilt, like they were staring into his soul and deciding how best to snap it in two.

A friendly hand clapped his shoulder and pulled him to his feet. "Best you away from wanderers, friend old. Dangerous class, violet eyes, your mind read easy by them."

Stumbling away from the group, along the curving edge of the table, it wasn't until he was seated again that Hanaya caught his senses and recognized his neighbor. "Yohei! Thank our unseen guardians, another normal person at last! I thought I would be overwhelmed by all this strangeness!"

"Yohei, yes. Good help little farmer is," was the slurring reply as Yohei sat beside him. Hanaya's smile dropped as he saw the soaked clothes, the strange swirling spirals in the depths of his pupils, and the half-dozen floating jellyfish clinging to his shoulders. They looked like misted balloons filled with water, their tendrils all curled around his forehead.

"What has happened to you?" Hanaya exclaimed.

"Friend yours healthy, no concern from you. Farmer arrangement agreed for metal silver discs, act as translator for bloom." His arm raised almost mechanically, the tendrils tugging like strings, hand outstretched. "Us you call the diplomat keeping ones. Rank title not species designation."

Hanaya gulped and shook his neighbor's hand. It was sticky and wet.

"Long worry hive-mind not capable send here event representatives. Long history spectral shoal and astro hydroza. Trading secrets freely, of sharing thinking outside and moving without water, of finding blue waters far away for spreading." { Cosmic Tales Of The Incredible #6 }

"And you are comfortable with the, um, the ceremonies?"

"Double plus good funeral, yes. In keeping ideals great shark wanting. No dull ground, no empty space, no burning fire. Wasteful. Still be useful, reclaim everything, help others. A great frenzy. A great feeding. Sharks can be that way. Only..." Yohei frozen as faint lights flickered between the individual jellyfish, as if they had put down a book to have a short discussion. Then, he suddenly animated again, tendrils looped at the corners of Yohei's mouth tugged it into a disturbingly rictus grin. "Quiets now Hanaya mammal. Look. Lizard talk."

Sure enough, the various people and things and strangeness had settled down around the table, the din falling to a whisper as a sole nine-foot tall gecko stood. His skin was as a field of moss-covered pebbles, his robes as an orchard of ripe citrus fruit, his peaceful eyes were as round and wide as the moon. He was breathing in time with the wind, or was the wind keeping time with him?

"A number of incredibly respectful salutations, everyone! Welcome to the invisible galaxy, and to the planet of Amity. Thank you all for allowing me to be the master of ceremonies on this momentous space-occasion. Though my mastery of our space kung-fu has made me completely unseeable to many of you, like crystal clear water on the stillest of days, on my honour I assure you that I am the most venerable master hero Brody Dharma, space champion of the invisible monks.

"I spoke very similar words only a short time ago, when I was visited by the Infinite School Of The Infinite Ocean and their master, the Ghost Of Sharkasaurus Rex. His presence here was monstrous, causing death and devastation and irreparable damage. But, even in those final terrible moments, I found myself still doing what he has always forced me to do...

"I learned something. Even in his dying wake, I learned something new.

"I have a brother now. His name is Andy. He has his own order monks, soon to be ascending the great mountain on the opposite side of the valley. He has found my hospitality disagreeable and plans to carve a new monastery. Plans to carve a new order of monks. One not so hidden from the eyes of men.

"I do not agree..." was the clipped response, but it was followed by another long sigh and a calmer resigned voice, "I do not approve. His way is too blunt, too naive, too shallow. It lacks dignity and it lacks founding. But I too would be at fault to reject all his arguments out of hand. Just as he would be at fault to reject my experience and and long history. The truth of all things, however, will probably be found somewhere in the middle.

"And this is where we are now. In the middle. Where old and new philosophies can sit at the same table. Where alternate points of view from the simplest of farmers to the mightiest of star dwellers can sit at the same table. Where, even if we cannot sway the opinions of others, we can enjoy enriched by the discussion. Where, even if we do not agree with the politics, we can at least learn from the opposing perspective.

"Any story can be told many different ways. I thought I had to find the correct telling, the variation with the most value. What I learned is that the variation is the true value.

"And so, I invite you to sample one new variation in the tale. A new way. Rex's way."

Suddenly , there was a singsong breeze and the table was covered in many full plates. Grand crystal bowls of soup. Wide slabs of sashimi. Simple ball-shaped temarizushi. Fermented narezushi on curved wooden planks. Conical temaki. All artfully arranged by Hanaya himself to maximize appeal to the eye and flavor on the tongue. And, as Hanaya was relived to discover, everyone at the vast table looked delighted at the spread.

Brody had a great grin, obviously pleased at the feast before him. And pleased that his guests were equally agreeable. He pulled a pair of chopsticks from inside his cloak. "It was Rex's way to not just give generously, but to also take graciously. To not just provide, but to indulge. Teacher and student. To cook and to eat. Today, we honor him in the way of the shark. Today, we feast.

"Bon appetite."

Author's Notes

When originally writing this arc, I wanted it to be a short capstone to this whole planet-of-the-shaolin-monks series of stories. However, I found that if I let it flow out as I usually let this fiction go, it was going to bloat out to three or four parts. Though there is usually nothing wrong with letting a story breathe, especially if each issue is limited to only 1500 words, I find that something the result is a little unfocused, a little rambling. So I made a concentrated effort to wrap this one in only two parts, even going as far as to squash issue 24 mid-way and posting issue 23 late.

This issue ticks off a couple checkboxes, including a few dangling high-concept challenges I've been meaning to participate in. Better late than never. Also, it acts as a thank you for all the RACC contributors, posting stories throughout the years. I do not post or critique a lot, but I have enjoyed everything I've read. I snuck in a couple cameos as a show of appreciation.

As a quick thanks to a few people who let me use some of their characters for this funeral: