The Planet Varnus
The Outskirts of Vector
Ceda Misac paced nervously. He ran a hand through his thick mane of black hair, thinking furiously, trying to make sure that he had all of his bases covered. "Why'd I have to do it? Am I brain damaged or something?" he said out loud, cursing himself for his foolishness.
He had been working closely with Sserr shipping, getting black market goods at cutthroat rates and then passing them off to the guys at Sserr for shipment off world. Things had been going well, but then Ceda had gotten greedy. He had only taken a little off the top of the shipment, but Sserr was far too experienced for Ceda's little tricks.
"Sami, are those auto-cannons ready yet?" he yelled out to a mountain of a man who was toiling away powering up a auto-cannon. There were three of them positioned around the small, empty warehouse. Each of them sat in a corner on a second story cat-walk, pointing toward the floor, waiting to blow away anyone who set foot inside their cone of fire.
"Just about," came Sami's reply.
"Just about isn't good enough. He could be here any minute. Work faster!" Ceda ordered. If he came and they weren't ready, Ceda knew he wouldn't have another chance. After a full chewing out, Sserr had promised that he had already alerted his employer, and that he would see to rectifying the situation personally. "Sserr's bad enough, I really don't want to meet his boss."
His comm link beeped. Flicking the activation switch, Ceda said, "This had better be good."
"Sir!" responded one his guards, "He's here."
"Already? Ask him what he wants." Ceda was becoming concerned.
A moment's pause, then, "He says he want's to speak with you in person."
"Tell him this is not a good time. Tell him that I'll get back with him later."
"Sir, he doesn't seem to want to take no for an answer," the door guard informed Ceda.
There was only one thing to do. Ceda called out to Sami, "Is it ready?"
"All systems go," replied Sami, climbing down from the catwalk and grabbing a blaster.
"Great. Guards to your posts!" Then he spoke into the comm link, "Kill him."
"Yes, sir," replied the door guard. There was a few seconds pause, but no sound of blaster fire.
"Guard! Report!" Ceda shouted into the comm, his anxiety obvious.
"Sir..." the guard's voice sounded strangely distant and dreamy. "I don't want to kill him."
"I want to put my blaster away."
Ceda was holding the comm link with a death grip. "What are you saying? What's wrong with you?!"
"I want to let him in."
"Don't you open that door! Do you hear me? Don't open it!" And then he realized it was too late. The outer door was already opening up. "Guards, close the inner door!"
With a loud clank, the heavy inner door sealed shut. It was an old vault door, thick metal with a hinges and a latch. It had been the difference between life and death before, and once again it came between Ceda and an imposing aggressor. But just in case, Ceda ordered the guards to stand in front of the door, blasters drawn, ready to stop any hostile invaders.
For a moment there was only quiet, allowing Ceda a chance to fill himself with false hope. Then, it began. One, two, three ... One hinge pin after another shot up into the air to fall with a clatter several meters from the door. Then, as if moved by some unseen hand the door latch slid open. The guards gripped their blasters in anticipation. Slowly, the door began to tilt inward creeping bit by bit, then finally caught by gravity it slammed to the floor.
The guards merely stood there, looking out the doorway. "What's wrong with you? Shoot him!"
"Shoot who, sir?" asked one of the guards. There was no one there. A sense of terror grasped everyone in the increasingly claustrophobic room.
BOOM! A shower of sparks poured from a now dark light panel. Then another blew out, and yet another. Soon the room was filled with shadows, adding to the terror of its occupants.
"Would someone like to explain what's happening here?" asked a panic filled Sami.
An eerie wind filled the cramped warehouse. "NO!" one of the guards let out an ear splitting scream and opened fire on the door way. The others followed suit, blasting away as a demon from a land of nightmares stepped through the door. It was four meters tall, standing on a pair of hoofed feet. It had feathered wings and its avian head ended in a sharp beak, but its arms and torso were like a tiger's.
The monstrosity flexed its claws and let out a roar that filled the room. It fixed its fiery eyes on the guards, then merely stepped aside and watched them flee through the doorway. Even Sami, who had been standing beside Ceda, through down his blaster and flew for the door. "What! Sami!"
Then he was alone... alone with it. His breath caught in his throat as the monster slowly changed shape. Little by little it took on more human features, and shrunk down to about two meters. Finally, it was a man who stood in the shadows sending a cold stare at Ceda. The man spoke in a strong, deep voice, "I am disappointed with you."
The shadowy figure began walking right toward Ceda. "Good. Just a little closer." thought Ceda. A few more steps and he would be in range of the auto-cannons. Suddenly the man stopped. He looked around the room as if he could sense the danger. The man bent his knees slightly, then leapt into the air, back-flipping several times before coming safely to rest on the second story catwalk.
"What?!" thought Ceda, shocked by that display. It really shouldn't have bothered him that the man could jump eight meters into the air, once that was compared to the monstrous figure the shadow man had first appeared as. However, all of Ceda's questions were answered when he saw a brilliant yellow shaft of light leap from the man's hands, then hold there like the blade of some ancient weapon. "A lightsaber? This guy's a Jedi!"
With one smooth motion, the man hurled his lightsaber at one of the auto-cannons. The spinning blade sliced the first gun in half, then veered away toward its next target. After destroying all three of the automated weapons, the lightsaber returned to the man's hands. He then stepped off the catwalk and glided to the floor, landing softly and with the look of a performer posing for applause.
"Who are you?" asked Ceda in a frightened tone.
"I am..." the man blurred slightly and suddenly he was only a meter away from Ceda, "the T-Rex."
There stood Ceda, a lightsaber blade only a centimeter from his throat, pretending that he wasn't afraid, but shaking hard enough that he risked bumping into the blade.
"Ceda. I'm going to let you in on a little secret," began Rex. "It isn't wise to double cross me. You may think that you can take a little off the top, or cut a few corners and fool me, but I'm nobody's fool. I know where you are and what you are doing every single moment of your life. I know when you eat, I know when you sleep, and I know what you dream about. I know you better than you know yourself, and I know that you will never do anything remotely like this again. I know because you know that you won't live long after the next time you cross me. Do you understand?"
Ceda stood silently for a second, trying to find his voice. "I understand," he stammered. "Please don't kill me."
"Death is better than you deserve," Rex proclaimed firmly. With that he raised his blade over his head for a strike. Ceda covered his face and cringed... but nothing happened. Ceda looked around him, but the T-Rex was gone.
* * *
"Dark, Light, Death, Life, the Beginning traces it's path to the End. A path that is unchanged leads nowhere but to Death and Darkness. For we are all creatures of change, and the Universe if full of it. For every Up there is a Down, every Rainy day is followed by Sun. And without the changes of Life, we would be no better than the Dead. Know this and Know All. All of Life can depend on a single Turning Point."
Machin Chib, High Priest of the Zyurbii Temple in Garabesh
a Knightworks Production
She walked down a dark, abandoned alley. The rhythmic clicking of her boots on the stone street sounded overly loud in her ears. Scanning the shadows, she felt a slight disturbance. It was her danger sense. “Well, this should be interesting.”
Slowing to a stop, she watched as a shadowy figure emerged from the right side of the alley, mirrored by another, shorter figure on the left. She could feel two more behind her. “This could give me a chance to get in a little exercise,” she thought.
“All right lady. Stay calm and do what I say and you just might live through this,” began the taller of the shadowy figures in front of her.
“Don’t worry. Not only am I calm but my odds of surviving this are phenomenal, though I can’t say the same for yours,” was her ice cold reply. Grinning ear to ear in a rare show of emotion, she slowly began to vanish, starting with her extremities and ending with her glowing smile. This of course was only for effect. While she could disappear instantly, she enjoyed seeing the terror on her would be attackers’ faces.
“What?! Where?!” was the only cry that the tall shadowy figure had time to get out before an invisible fist caught him full in the face, breaking his nose and sending him plummeting to the ground.
Laughing to herself at the ease of dispatching the first assailant, the woman leapt sideways into the air, spinning from her left side leading to her right side, and sailed along for about four meters before landing a devastating side kick to the short shadow man. He had been staring at his fallen comrade, completely befuddled by the man’s sudden apparent collapse, when he had the air knocked out of him by this invisible woman.
“It’s a ghost!” wailed one of the two men that had so boldly taken their positions behind her, believing that they were far tougher than this one little woman. But now the tables were turned and suddenly it was all too apparent that of all the creatures of the night, she was the most dangerous.
The remaining two men shot off down the alley, running so fast that it didn’t seem possible that such short legs could carry that small woman ahead of them, but the impossible was already happening. Skidding to a stop, the men stood with looks of disbelief locked solidly on the woman in front of them. “But how...” asked one of them in disbelief.
She made no reply, but launched herself into the air hurtling toward one of the men. With no time to react, he was caught square in the chest, the impact slamming him to the ground. The other man tried to back away, but the woman rolled into a hand stand then, spinning herself on her right hand, split her legs, hitting him with first one then the other. As he hit the ground, she flipped back to her feet and began to brush herself off.
Pulling at her gray tunic, she remarked, “Pity. I wish they had been stronger than that. It really wasn’t challenging at all.” With that she disappeared.
* * *
The T-Rex was a little low on sleep, and the dim lighting beneath the palace wasn’t helping him to stay awake. He shook his head, and let out a yawn. At least he had kept Misac in line. Rex knew all too well that failure to maintain order could quickly lead to disaster. And with the current situation, the disaster could be final.
Adjusting his lightsaber, Rex returned to the Tomes of Force knowledge. Two works were of particular interest. Philosophy of the Null Force and Anatomy of the Ysalamiri. “Now this could be...”
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. Rex pulled out his commlink. “Jedi Templar T-Rex, here.”
“Icis, I need to speak with you,” responded Xar. Shifting his lightsaber in its holster, Rex wonder what the Grand Master wanted.
“Meet me in my office ...” began Xar.
“In five minutes, right?” Rex jumped in.
“No,” Xar sounded confused by Rex’s comment. “In seven minutes.”
Laughing to himself, Rex said, “I’ll be there. Rex out.”
“I guess this will have to wait.” thought Rex, setting down a novel he had come across during the brief conversation. “The Force Cage, hmm, sounds interesting though.”
As T-Rex began his journey toward the GM’s office, he once again had to adjust his lightsaber. After having his old lightsaber destroyed, he hadn’t had time to build a new one. He thought it would be simpler to “borrow” one from the Academy. What with Dean Osiris away, Rex figured that no one would bother to ask for its return. Still, it didn’t fit in his old holster, and he had never gotten around to resizing the holster. He knew he could always clip it to the front of his belt, but he had never felt comfortable with that.
Closing the old, creaky chamber door, Rex left the archives and his thoughts about his lightsaber behind him, and headed off for the GM’s office.
"Icis," Xar began, no sooner than the office door was closed. "As you know, Osiris left to find Kurt, and we still need a Dean for the Academy."
"Wait." Holding up a hand, Rex shook his head at the man behind the desk.
"I told you that I didn't want that position. It's too out in the open." Rex crossed his arms.
"Icis. . ." Xar said in a, ‘I’ve told you a thousand times’ tone of voice.
"Xar, I would like to help you but I..." Rex trailed off.
"You are afraid." Xar accused.
Rex locked an icy glare on him. "What did you just say?"
Xar stood up. "You heard me. You are afraid. You have been living in the shadows so long that you have become terrified of ever standing in the light."
"I'm not afraid of anything! I just don't ..."
"Want to draw attention? You have powerful enemies? I have heard it all before." Xar shook his head. "The fact is that you have already drawn attention to yourself. They may not know much about you, but half the Division has seen you. You joined me in battle on several occasions. I mean, come on Icis, if the powerful enemies are out there, why are they waiting?"
Rex stood silently.
"Come on. I know you want to help, and I know that you are afraid, but we both know what is coming. I need all the help I can get." Xar held out his hand. "Icis, we cannot do this without you."
Rex stood there, just staring at the hand and thinking. He couldn't tell Xar about the Huntress, but he couldn't run forever. "I won't run any more!" Rex gripped Xar's hand. "I'll do it."
"Good." Xar smiled, scratching at his scar; it was a souvenir from his last “vacation”. “Oh, and one more thing.”
Rex nodded his head, asking the Grand Master to continue.
“There will be a little get together at the observatory today. We will be watching the christening of the Starfire, the first of our new line of capital ships.”
“I’ve heard of it, but I’ve been too busy to give much of my attention to it.” Rex suddenly noticed a piece of lint on his cloak.
“Well, I would like to have you in attendance. It would be a good chance for the members to see you so that when I tell them, ‘That is between you and Dean Novitaar’, they will know who I am talking about.” Xar gave emphasis to the part about knowing who Rex was. Half the members didn’t even know who he was, and the other half could fit their knowledge of the man on a single piece of paper.
“You’re right, I do need to get out more.” Rex reached out with the Force, picking off the piece of lint, and said, “I’ll be there.”
“Great,” Xar clasped his hands. “Now that we are in agreement, I have some more business to attend to. You are dismissed.”
“Grand Master,” Rex bowed his head slightly. “See you at the observatory.”
“See you then.”
* * *
The spacious observation deck was filled to near capacity, a sign of the importance placed on the new ship. T-Rex carefully placed himself out in the open enough to appear at ease, yet close enough to the observatory controls and one of the lifts to allow him to take charge or take flight quickly enough to matter. Old habits died hard.
“Rex,” called out a man dressed in a Jedi cloak. Rex recognized him immediately.
“Thrakus.” Rex smiled, gripping Kiz Thrakus’s outstretched hand. Jedi Adept Kiz Thrakus, one of the most well known Jedi in the Division, was one of the few people who Rex could call a friend. “Nice to see you again. How’s Lorien?”
“Fine, fine. She’ll be here a little later.” A thoughtful look crossed Thrakus’ face. “So, what does it feel like to be the new Academy Dean?”
“Strange.” Rex said seriously. “I’m used to being a shadow in the night, here one minute, gone the next. Being tied down to one place, with responsibilities to people other than myself... It’s going to take a little getting used to. Hey, how did you know I was the new Dean?”
“I knew before you did.” Thrakus laughed.
“What?” Rex said in confusion.
“You’re not the only one that talks with the Grand Master. I’ve been pushing him to ask you for a while. He told me yesterday that you were going to be the new Dean. I knew your objections, but I also knew that Xar wouldn’t be the GM in the first place if he wasn’t persuasive,” explained Thrakus.
Rex was surprised that there were so many things going on that he was unaware of. “I really have been spending too much time on my side project.” he thought. “Still, if it works...”
“So,” said Thrakus, “Who do you think they’ll find to fill Deewun's shoes?”
“Don’t know, but we really need a new Warden. Right now the GM’s been doubling as Warden, and I don’t think he can handle the stress much longer.” Rex felt safe confiding in Thrakus.
“I don’t know. I think Xar’s been managing quite well,” Thrakus paused. “Delta 1 sure was wild wasn’t he?”
“Yeah. But then again, it really wasn’t D1 but Malphunoc.” Rex shook his head. “I never saw that one coming.”
“Well, didn’t you think it was a little strange that D1 left a sane pilot, and came back an insane Jedi?” questioned Thrakus.
“Hey, if you had lived my life, you wouldn’t think it was that strange at all,” joked Rex. “But if you want to know what I think, I think the insanity was just an act.”
“Care to elaborate?”
“Well, Malphunoc knew that he didn’t know D1 well enough to impersonate him as a sane pilot. However, by going completely off the wall like that, he could pass off any odd gaps in his memory or un-D1 reactions as part of the lunacy.” Rex explained.
“That could be. But the real D1 might not be much better. After all, spending time around Dathomirians can do strange things to you.” Thrakus paused for a second, receiving a questioning look from the T-Rex. “What? I wasn’t there all that long. I’m perfectly sane.”
“Then again, if you were insane you would believe yourself to be completely normal.” Rex added. For a few seconds they just stood there staring at each other.
“Well, I’m not.” Thrakus assured Rex, breaking the silence. “Say, do you remember that song D1 used to sing?”
“Come on. It’ll be fun. De de da, de de da, da da da da da da, de de dade da da, de dum.” Thrakus began.
Rex cleared his throat, took at deep breath, and placed his right hand on his stomach as if to push out the notes. Joining in, Rex held down the base end, while Thrakus sung two octaves higher. “Billaries, Bobarus and Mathis Organa, they all come together in - Billbob.”
“One more time.” Thrakus called out, completely undisturbed by the crowd’s turning around to watch the amazing Jedi musical duo.
“Billaries, Bobarus and Mathis Organa, they all come together in - Bi...”
Suddenly, the crowd parted as Deputy Grand Master Mathis Organa marched up. “Oh, hi Billbob. Thrakus and Rex said in unison.
Mathis took a second, looking first at one and then the other before saying, “You’re both loons.”
“Well, we ah...”
“Hmm.” Mathis grunted as he walked off to join Xar, who was staring at the two as if they had each grown a pair of extra arms.
“What crawled up his cloak?” asked Thrakus.
The crowd was still staring. “Ok.” called Rex, waving his arms. “Show’s over folks.”
Just at that moment the real show began. The crowd quickly forgot about Rex and Thrakus as they turn their full attention to the Starfire.
The Starfire sailed through space as though it was the rightful owner of the stars. Gracefully cruising by, it inspired whistles and applause from the audience in the observatory. Thrakus shook his head, “She’s a beauty, isn’t she?”
“That she is.” replied Rex. It felt strange to Rex to be standing out in plain view, surrounded by friends just watching a new ship sail. “Friends... its been a long time since I had friends.” For one brief, bright and shining moment, all was right with the galaxy.
Then, a blaze of energy like a pool of glowing water in the black of space brought reality crashing down. No sooner had this energy field formed, then a pair of spires shot through it. They grew, widening out into a pair of titanic wings on a collision course with the Starfire.
“What?” Thrakus said, apparently to himself.
"No. . ." whispered T-Rex. He took a step back, trembling. Gritting his teeth he said aloud, "No. . . No!"
The observatory erupted in confusion as the newly commissioned Starfire collided with one of the giant wings. There was a quick burst of flame as the air inside the ship was released in a massive explosion, but the wing, now kilometers long, kept racing out of the energy vortex. Then it happened again...
Another energy field appeared off to the side of the first, with another pair of wings, slightly more slender, if you call a multi-kilometer span slender, then the first massive ship. On the other side of the first ship, beginning with another burst of energy, a third massive ship began to emerge into real space. This one was blunt and rounded, almost like a Calamari cruiser, but many times larger.
“The first ship, sir, it’s over 12 kilometers long... and still coming!” shouted out a young officer, obviously trying to hold back a torrent of panic.
"NO! They're here!! They can't be here! Not now! NNOOO!!!" Rex spun around and bolted for the lift door.
Thrakus, suddenly shaken from his trance, turned around and called out to Rex. "Where are you going? Hey Rex, hold on!"
But the T-Rex was far beyond the point of reason. As the lift doors opened, a man (Rex wasn't sure who he was, but he was wearing a Division uniform) stepped out and stood in Rex's path. Apparently the man had been startled by the dark figure racing toward him, and froze. "Out'a my way!"
The man didn't move, and in a fit of panic, Rex hit him with a backfist right on the chin. The blow, charged with the power of the Force, send the poor man spinning to the ground. Rex leapt into the lift, and hit the control panel.
"Icis!" called Xar. "What are you doing?"
With that, the lift doors closed.
Standing in the lift, trying unsuccessfully to pull himself together, Rex pulled out his commlink. "Traveler. Power up."
Gohac Naverian, a half human / half sigman tech officer under Thad Balfin, grunted as he tried to pull the sonic selector into position. Balfin had told him to scan the hyperdrive connecter coils for micro fractures, so that they would know which ones to replace. "That incompetent, mynock brained, rancor b. . ."
"Gohac." Balfin called.
"Sir." Gohac snapped to attention. "It's a good thing I didn't finish that sentence."
"How is it coming?" Balfin smiled.
"Almost in position, sir." Gohac reported, scratching an antenna.
"Great. So long as we get him patched up before Rex finds out, we should be OK.” Balfin scratched his chin and chuckled to himself. “I’ll never forget the look on your face when the cloak started to go critical. If I had a credit for every time you panicked and got that "bugged out" look. Ha ha. Get it! Bugged out!"
Balfin stuck his two index fingers on his forehead, making mock antenna. “You stupid, ****, ****, ******** (CENSORED).” Gohac had only recently found out that he was half sigman. He never knew his father, and it wasn't until the NI made contact with the sigmans, that the truth came out. He was still rather sensitive about it. “Idiot!” he said under his breath.
"What was that?" asked Balfin.
"Bout got it."
“Good, good.” Balfin scratched his head. "Now where was I? Oh, yes. The theory was good. The hyperdrive energy should have become unstable when it entered the tachyon matrix. Then, hopefully, Traveler would have been able to make the jump to light speed, even on the planet's surface. Think of it Gohac. . ."
"Yeah, I'm thinking." Gohac answered sarcastically.
"Just imagine. Our ships could ignore interdiction fields. I mean, okay, so the whole cloaked fighter thing didn't work out, but this. . . this could work. I wonder what went wrong." Balfin shook his head.
"You went wrong."
"I've turned it on." Gohac spoke up.
"Great." Balfin leaned over the sig-man. "Coils 3, 7 and 8 are out. So it looks like we need to. . . What the. . . "
"Whoa! It just powered up." Gohac gasped.
"What did you do?" asked Balfin as the jet black X-Wing began to shudder.
"Nothing. It powered up by itself."
Balfin raised an eyebrow at the flashing lights inside the cockpit. "I think we might just want to. . ."
"Run!" yelled Gohac, his eyes bulging out of his head in fear.
"Wait, we've got to get the sonic selector out of the way." Balfin and Gohac each grabbed an end, and hauled the bulky piece of equipment clear of the possessed X-Wing. "Hmm. This is certainly interesting. I wonder what's causing it."
"Traveler," Rex spoke into his commlink. "Activate auto-navigation."
A few seconds for the ship to comply and, “Go to emergency position G18.”
The engines flared as the ship, now hovering over the deck, surged toward the hanger doors. “Open the doors before it hits!” shouted Gohac to the tech at the hanger command console.
The man hit a few buttons, holding his breath, hoping that the door would open in time. That, however, didn’t seem likely.
“It’s gonna hit!” cried Gohac, eyes bugling and antenna trembling.
“I doubt it.” Balfin didn’t seem worried at all.
“What do you ... oh.” Gohac stopped as the X-Wing turned on its side, sliding through the half opened doors.
“Obviously, Rex has summoned the ship. Therefore, it must be equipped with a pretty solid auto-pilot. Hmm. Shame I didn’t know it was there. I could’ve upgraded it for him.” Balfin ran a hand through his hair, then shook his head regretfully.
“Silence, my twitchy little friend.” Balfin tapped his forehead. “I think I know how to find out.” Then turning to the tech seated at the controls. “Have there been any major happenings at the palace?”
“Sir, I wouldn’t know. You’ve had me cut off the comm system so that you wouldn’t be bothered with “jibber-jabber”, sir.”
“Oh. So I did.”
Gohac rolled his eyes. “Brains of a conec cow.”
“What?” asked Balfin.
“Why don’t we try the comm out now,” covered Gohac.
“Excellent idea,” replied Balfin. He waved a hand at the seated tech. “Go ahead.”
Klaxons blared throughout the hanger. Gohac shook his head in surprise. “What’s been going on... ah... ah...”
“What is it?!” cried the seated technician, face frozen in a look of terror.
“Well,” said Balfin. “That simplifies things a bit.”
On the screen, three ships sat side by side in space. Two of ships had large prominent wings, the other somewhat resembled a Mon Calamari Cruiser, but each one was so large that it made an ISD look like a mere toy model. At high magnification, they looked like palaces, and works of art, but once you could see the whole ship. . .
“Open a channel to Dean T-Rex.” Balfin said, braking the silence.
The seated seamed entranced by the image on the screen.
“Mr. Richbe!” shouted the Chief Tech right in his underling’s ear.
At that the tech seemed to snap out of his trance. “Yes, sir.... Ah, sir the system’s jammed. Every commlink on Varnus must be on.”
“Rex is going flee Varnus.” Balfin thought aloud. “Only, he doesn’t know about the hyperdrive. If he gets caught outside the planets defenses... Gohac.”
“Sir.” The sig-man snapped to attention.
“Is my shuttle still warmed up?”
“Yes, sir. I never powered it down after your inspection. I thought you might want to do a little more work on it today, but...”
“Good,” smiled Balfin.
“No.” Gohac’s already bloodshot eyes began to bulge again. “No. It’s not fair,” he whimpered.
Stepping off the top step and out onto the roof, Rex could see Traveler about 30 meters from the edge of the roof, holding its position. He took off at a full run, using the Force to enhance his natural abilities. He easily made the jump from the roof to the nose of his modified X-Wing. Then, sliding into the cockpit, he began to throttle up for space.
“Rex... T-Rex.” It was Thad Balfin!
“Balfin! I didn’t authorize your transmission. How did you...”
“I just added an emergency channel. It was really very simple. I..”
“I don’t have time for this,” Rex complained, looking for a way to shut the comm off.
“You’ve got to listen to me. I was working with your cloak ...”
“My cloak? What have you done to it?” Agitation filled the T-Rex’s voice.
“Well I was trying to create an unstable tacyon energy matrix and...”
“As I was saying, we had a bit of a problem controlling the matrix. It was probably only a matter of adjusting the phase inverter but ...”
Rex interrupted. “Balfin. Is there a way to override the emergency comm?”
“Why yes. Just hit the override switch.”
“And which one would that be?” Rex realized that all of the comm systems controls had been reworked.
“The one over the relay selector.”
“And which one would that be?”
“The big red one.” Balfin sounded a little annoyed at being asked such simple questions.
“What a mi...”
Rex actually laughed. The man had told him how to end the unwanted conversation. At least Balfin was helpful.
“Gohac, do you believe that? He cut us off!” complained Balfin to his half sigman, half human, half fed up co-pilot.
“I wonder why?” said Gohac sarcastically.
“You heard me!” Gohac’s antenna shot straight forward, pointing accusingly at Balfin.
Balfin pulled back in surprise. The sig-man had never snapped at him before. “Are you having trouble at home?”
“Oh, shove it up your tailpipe.” Gohac crossed his arms and stared straight out the viewport.
“Really, I don’t know why I keep you around. You’re always goofing off when you should be working. Frankly, I think you’ve been hitting the caff a little hard. If you weren’t my brother...”
“Wh.. What? I’m not your brother!” Sputtered Gohac.
Balfin shook his head. “No, no. I mean brother as in a fellow engineer, technician and all around Mr. Fix-it.”
“But I thought you just said I never do any work? Now I’m a comrade in arms? Are you insane of just crazy?”
“Now, now. Let’s not quibble about terms. Oh, look. Rex has entered hyperspace.”
“Rex has entered hyperspace, that’s another thing you... What? Rex has entered hyperspace?” Gohac worked the controls, replaying on a small monitor the moment when Rex made the jump to light speed. “I thought his hyperdrive was shot!”
“Hmm.” Balfin stroked his chin. “Apparently not. Did you see where he was going?”
Gohac punched in a few figures. “Jengar.”
“Then there’s no time to waste. Set a course for Jengar.” Balfin ordered.
Gohac gave him a questioning look.
“Well, do you want to be here when those monstrosities show up?”
“Setting course for Jengar” Gohac said quickly and decisively.
There was a sudden jolt as Traveler dropped out of hyperspace. “What happened?” Rex said to himself, scanning his readouts. “She’s falling apart.”
The cloak was fried, the hyperdrive dead, shield and sensor zapped, sub-light propulsion nil, weapons out, and life support at minimal. Worse, Rex had no idea where he was. “I can’t be all that far from Varnus.”
“So, what do I do now?” Rex said to himself. “If I send out a distress beacon, I could be picked up by the Altarin’Dakor. Then again, if I just sit here I can kiss this body goodbye.” Rex sat for a few minutes in quiet contemplation. “Well, this may take me from the frying pan to the fire, but...”
Activating the distress beacon, Rex tried to calm himself, dropping into a light Jedi trance. Time seemed to slow down, he felt as if he was floating. Questions began to probe him, pulling at him, demanding an answer. He tried to hide his true emotions from himself, but the questions kept coming. “Am I running away? Didn’t I decide not to run? To face life head on? Am I running? Running...Running...Running.........”
“Icis Novitaar raced up the spiral stares toward his room in the tower. He could hear the sound of gunfire up above, even over the low roar of the Curcik landing craft. His mind raced, trying to find a way to reach his room faster, even though he was already running at least 80 kilometers an hour. If he wasn’t fast enough...
“A shrill scream from above sent daggers of ice down his spine. It was a voice he new well, the voice of his beloved wife Ciaola.. The stairs ended and opened up into a great hall, at the end of which was a final set of straight stairs leading to the apartment that had been the site of so much joy in Icis’ life. He hoped that the magic had somehow held and that he would soon be reunited with his wife, safe and sound.
“Using the Force to propel himself into the air, Icis laept over the stairs, landing in the center of his room. But the magic had not held, the fates not deemed his soul to be spared. On the floor lay Ciaola in a pool of her own blood, riddled with bullets. Icis knelt down beside her, reaching out a hand and running it through her hair. He turned her head to face him, looking deep into her eyes, but there was no one looking back.
The eyes are the windows of the soul. Gritting his teeth to hold back the tears, Icis closed her eyes. Just then, still on his knees, Icis hear the click of a gun being brought to bear behind him. Consumed with rage over his wife’s murder, he leapt to his feet, spinning around to face the Curcik soldier, and pulled out his twin havis . Still spinning he cut the soldier’s gun in half with his right havis then sliced the man’s right arm off with the left havis. Spinning around once more he brought the right havis in a wide arc that ended at the man’s neck. His severed head turned several times in the air before it hit the ground.
Without stopping to wipe the blood off of his havis, he slid both of them back into their places at his sides. As if in a trance, Icis walked over to the large, seated window where he and his wife had breakfast every morning while they looked out over the bustle in the street. Now the street was filled with Curcik troops marching and yelling in cries of victory. But Icis didn’t hear them, he didn’t see them, all that he could see... all that he could feel... was the tremendous loss he had suffered. The memories of happy times with his beloved seared his heart, and burned his soul. He didn’t see it, he didn’t know, but in the street one Curcik trooper after another went up in flames, burning alive and unable to help themselves. They were burning in the fire of his anger.
CLICK. Two Curcik had come into the room while Icis had been lost to his memories and to the pain. BANG. A stream of bullets raced toward the near broken man. For an instant, Icis thought about just standing there and joining his beloved on the other side, but there was no death for him, and even if there was, he wanted more. He wanted revenge... he wanted blood. Faster than the eye can see, Icis raced out of the path of the bullets. Everything seemed to slow down. He could see the individual smoke trails of the bullets as they raced out, shattering the window and barreling on out of sight.
Cloaking himself with the Force, Icis rushed toward the two troops, pulling his havis out of their blood soaked holsters. He anticipated the troopers’ next move, leaping into the air as they sent a wave of bullets to where he had just been. Each of his havis went straight for the throat, completely severing each of the men’s heads. Icis just stood there as the bodies dropped, staring at the heads resting on his outstretched havis, watching as they lived through the few seconds before their brains failed from lack of oxygen and blood. But it was not enough, he wanted more.
Icis raced out into the main hall and right into a wave of Curcik. The others had just been the advance guard, these were the main forces. They were highly trained crack troops, but they didn’t know what hit them. For all they could see, arms, legs and heads were flying off of their own accord. A few tried to shoot whatever “spirit” was decimating their forces, but that only resulted in more troops dead from friendly fire.
Icis fought his way down the stairs, out of the palace, and into the street. There he stood, surrounded by dead bodies, some slashed, some burned. Calmly, he walked down the street until he could see the Curcik landing craft. The air vibrated with the sound of its idling engines. There he stood, calling back memories of joy, remembering the excruciating pain, but more importantly, summoning up the Force. He closed his eyes... he could feel the Force around him... he pulled it in, filling himself to bursting with it... slowly, he focused every drop of Force Power into a tight ball in his right hand. Icis opened his eyes and just stared at the glowing ball of Force energy. Then, he threw it.
It plowed through the landing craft’s armored hull, through the ship, and into the fuel tanks. Icis surrounded himself with a shield of the Force and hoped it would hold. The light was blinding, the sound deafening, and the heat excruciating. Icis could feel the shield begin to give way, but his held it together with nothing but will and hatred. Then, it was over. All around him lay the ruins of Glacius Palace. He was alone. He was not through.
Bringing a comm device up to his lips, Icis said through grit teeth, ‘Traveler, power up.’ After a minute to let his ship power up fully, ‘Traveler, activate auto-navigation. Go to emergency position A22.’ He wasn’t going to let this day be forgotten by any of the Curcik race. The ironic thing was that the Curcik invaders were the same race as his Glacian friends. As his wife had been. Thousands of years ago, a colony ship was sent to Soro. The colonists were forgotten during the following war, and the colonists themselves had forgotten their heritage. Now they thought the Glacians were aliens, and had destroyed their capital.
“An eye for an eye,” began Icis as his Konna Class Fighter Traveler set down in front of him. “A tooth for a tooth,” he walked up the down sloped wing. “Hand for hand,” He stepped down into the cockpit. “foot for foot,” he sealed the cockpit. “Burning for burning,” the ship hovered above the ground. “Wound for wound,” he set course for the Curcik homeworld. “Stripe for stripe,” he hit the throttle and raced for the stars.”
BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. Rex opened his eyes, and flipped a switch. “SH-1276 responding.”
“Good to see you’re still alive in there,” came a voice Rex didn’t recognize. “I was beginning to worry. You’re signal is pretty weak.”
“My comm is shot. So are my sensors. Are you from the NI?” Rex inquired.
“If I wasn’t would I be picking you up?” The man laughed. “Standby, we’re on our way.”
“Good. I’ve been kind of stressed out lately,” T-Rex began. “But I’ll not be running anymore. No... not anymore.”
Switching off the comm, Rex spoke out loud to himself, “Eye for eye, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”
The End of
a Knightworks Production