Free Will

There’s something Dr. Forrester’s assistant isn’t telling him . . . but how does it concern the Shogun Scouts?

Bruce Coville's Strange Worlds

Free Will
Bruce Coville’s
Strange Worlds
Avon Camelot • 2000

I admit it — I’ve never lost my fascination with cartoons and adventure serials, no matter how formulaic.  This story, written when both the Power Rangers and Sailor Moon franchises were highly popular, gave me a chance to flip the formula sideways.

Read an Excerpt….

I took another look at the “reality separation generator.”  It looked like a cross between a fish tank, a video arcade game, and a model of a space telescope.  Which made sense, considering that we’d assembled it from a fish tank, nine different computers, three VCRs, a laserdisc player, a box of aluminum foil, and an electric radio-controlled model hovercraft.  Dr. Will Forrester might be one of the most brilliant scientists in St. Woodlawn, but he didn’t have much money for parts.

“Save the universe?” I said.  “I thought that’s what the Shogun Scouts were for.”

Dr. Forrester shook his head.  “That’s just it,” he said.  “The Shogun Scouts are the only reason this universe exists in the first place.  We were created—invented out of whole cloth—by people in another universe, the same way writers in Hollywood create Saturday morning cartoons.  In a sense, we are a Saturday morning cartoon, or at least we’re living on the inside of one.”

“We?” I echoed, looking at him.  The Shogun Scouts were teenagers, or so the newspapers said.  Dr. Forrester was young for a Ph.D. in theoretical physics—maybe twenty-five—but too old for him to be one of the five super-warriors who guarded St. Woodlawn from the Black Tong.

“I’m sorry, Petra,” he said.  “It was too dangerous to tell you before.  I was one of the original Shogun Scouts—Emerald, to be precise.  Jen-Dee recruited me when I was fourteen, maybe two years older than you are now.”

I sucked in a startled breath.  Jen-Dee was said to be a nearly immortal being who had created the Shogun Jewels dozens of centuries ago, and advised the Shogun Scouts in their ongoing battle with the Black Tong and its leader, who was known only as Master Obsidian.  At least that was the popular opinion.  Most of what people knew about the Scouts came from cheap tabloid newspapers and cheesy investigative TV shows.  There’d been a couple of books written about them, but it was hard for readers to tell what was true and what the authors had made up for lack of reliable data.