Matt held tight to the door frame of the burning assault lander. The area they were sent to scout had been more heavily defended than they were told. Of the three landers that went on the mission only one was still in the air. The first was blown out of the sky by a clone trooper’s missile launcher. They hadn’t known the clones had pushed this far south. The second was hit but it was able to land and get the crew off before it blew up. Matt was in the last one these landers. They had to leave before they could rescue the crew of the second ship because the had been so badly damaged themselves. Matt could see the base now. They were just in time. Captain Zekk must have found out about how close the clones were and ordered the base evacuated. Vehicles were being loaded and some had already left.
“Hang on!” Yelled the co-pilot as they turned to make their final approach to the landing pad. The ship began to bang way too hard and suddenly loose altitude. Matt watched as the lander rolled almost horizontal before the co-pilot was able to right the ship just before it hit the ground. Everyone on board lurched forward on impact . Windows burst from their frames as the landing gear crunched under the force of the impact.
Matt stumbled out of the wreckage and started walking toward the command post. The building was a very nice home before they got there and it was commandeered by Captain Zekk. Zekk was Matt’s superior officer in this mercenary unit. They had been working for the Separatists for about a year now on this planet and the war was not going well for them. Ever since the army of the republic received there clone warriors everything had changed.
“Where is he?” Matt yelled at one of the Captain’s orderlies.
“Who, the Captain?” the orderly asked.
“Yeah. The Captain!” Matt Barked at him.
“He’s inside interrogating that young girl that they found at the dump.” he said.
“Interrogating?” Matt said as he looked at the upper bed room windows.
Matt burst inside and started up the steps. He came face to face with Lieutenant Nondow Dak. He was the same rank as Matt but he was also Captain Zekk’s personal body guard.
“Where do you think your going Mazin?” Nondow said as he stepped in front of Matt.
“Out of my way fat stuff. “ Matt said as he tried to get past Nondow. Nondow was big and he was fat but he was also no one to mess with. He had been a soldier all his life and it had made him into a bully and a mean one at that. But there was no doubt about it, he could fight like a champ.
“Captain don’t want to be disturbed right now Mazin.”Nondow said still blocking Matt’s way upstairs.
“You know what he’s doing to that girl Nondow, are you just going to let him get away with it?” Matt said trying to get a human response out of him.
“I don’t know nothing Mazin, I’m just doing what I was told to do.” Nondow said leaning forward so he could put his face closer to Matt’s.
Matt refrained from punching him in his fat face.
“ I don’t get you Nondow, how can you just stand there and let that slime do what he’s doing up there?” Matt said angrily.
“ Your type will never get it, you think this is about some lofty cause or our way of life. This war and all the rest is about who controls who. That’s what life is about Mazin who’s on top and who’s on the bottom. That girl up there, well she’s on the bottom. She didn’t understand how things work so that’s what she gets. There ain’t no right or wrong about it, that’s just how it is.” Nondow answered angrily.
“Nondow! What’s all that shouting about down there?” It was Captain Zekk calling from upstairs.
“ It’s Mazin sir, he wants to come up.” Nondow said looking at Matt.
“ Fine, fine send him up.” Zekk said.
Nondow stepped aside and smiled. He had said what he wanted to and gotten it off his chest. Now maybe Matt and him understood each other a little better.
Matt pushed by Nondow and hurried up the stair way. Maybe he had caused enough noise to distract Zekk long enough to keep him from hurting the girl.
Zekk was waiting at the door way. When he saw Matt he motioned him to come into the room.
Zekk walked behind his desk and stood as he buttoned up his shirt. Matt looked around for the girl hoping he had made it back in time, there was no sign of her.
“Where’s the girl Zekk?” Matt asked firmly.
“What girl is that?” Zekk asked. He wasn’t afraid of Matt. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He was in charge of o well organized mercenary company. His word was law.
“The girl that was picked up at the dump. You know which one I’m talking about!” Matt said angrily.
“Oh that one. She’s been dealt with.” Zekk said in a very matter of fact way. “ More to the point Mazin, what happened out there? I understand we lost two landers on that scouting mission you lead.” Zekk replied.
“The girl, I want to see the girl.” Matt said firmly.
“I think you are forgetting who you are speaking to Lieutenant! I am your commanding officer, now stand down and give me your report!” Zekk said in a calm commanding tone.
Above all things Matt was a soldier. He had been a soldier his entire adult life and respected the chain of command regardless of who was in charge.
“We came in low with good spacing between us. They were waiting for us, clones had pushed south during the night and had set up their positions. The first lander didn’t stand a chance. I ordered the other lander and mine to fall back but we were both hit. The second lander crashed but everyone got out. We just made it back by the skin of our teeth. I haven’t heard if the rescue flight had picked up the second crew yet or not.” Matt said.
“Oh I called off the rescue flight. We will need all the remaining landers to evacuate the base. Those men out there will serve a better use by delaying the advancing clone troopers.” Zekk said as he calmly turned around to pick up his field jacket.
“You left them to die! We have to get out there and pick them up!” Matt said frustrated.
“ It is my job to make sure as many of us get away from here as possible, if those men can hold off the enemy for a while longer that will make everyone’s chance to escape better.” Zekk said putting on his jacket.” You never will understand about making the hard decisions Mazin, some must be sacrificed for the greater good.”
“What you are doing is not a hard decision, it’s easy to cut and run. I want permission to go back after them.” Matt said.
“No, you are needed here. I want you to set the buildings on fire so the clones can’t use them when they arrive. I want nothing left for them to use. That is an order Mazin.” Zekk said as he finished buttoning up his jacket. He walked over a table near the door. He picked up his brief case and walked out.
Matt took his blaster rifle and swung it smashing Zekk’s empty bottles and trash he had left on the table. As he turned to leave he saw something move in the bed room. It was just the slightest bit of movement that barely caught his eye but he did see it. He carefully opened the door. The room was dark but some light came in as he opened the door. There on the bed tied face down was the girl that Zekk said he had interrogated. She was nude and tied spread eagle face down. She had been tortured and raped. The sheets had blood stains on them. Matt hurried to the bed and put his fingers up to her throat to feel for a pulse. It was weak, she was dying. Matt pulled his knife out and quickly cut the ropes that held her to the bed. He cradled her in his arms and carried her down stairs. Matt kicked open the front door and ran outside. Troops were hurrying about loading transports.
“Medic ! I need a medic !” Matt shouted as he ran into the center of the compound. Nobody stopped. They were all too busy trying to save themselves from the enemy advance.
Matt felt some one grab his shoulder, it was Nondow.
“What in blazes are you doing Mazin? You got orders to burn these buildings. Captains not gonna like this one little bit.” Nondow said angrily.
Matt just pulled away, he just wanted to get this girl to a medic.
“You asked for it Mazin.” Nondow said. He grabbed both of the girls ankles and with one mighty tug he tore the girl from Matt’s arms causing her to hit her head on the pavement with a sickening crack.
“You should have left well enough alone Mazin.” Nondow drew his pistol and fired two shots into the girl’s body as it lay motionless on the ground.
Nondow put his pistol away and looked at Matt. Matt was pointing his blaster rifle at Nondow’s head.
“You ain’t got the balls.” Nondow said just before Matt pulled the trigger and blew his brains out.
The troopers around the area were stunned. Matt was a good officer but he had been pushed to the limit. He had done what most of them had wanted to do. Nondow was a thug and a bully that hid behind his rank and those who condoned his actions above him. This was a mercenary unit and the rule were flexible at times
The troopers looked at Matt not sure what to do. They were all busy trying to save themselves so most decided to just keep going about their own business. The enemy was just an hour away so nobody wanted to stop and arrest Matt.
Matt stood over the girl with his blaster in his hands. He couldn’t believe he had just done what he did. Why did he care about one girl. Just another girl that had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. It didn’t matter to Matt, she had been tortured and raped by his commanding officer. He had to set things right. Zekk had done this kind of thing many times before. He could always justify his actions as a necessary evil or he wanted to send a message to the enemy. In reality he was just a sadistic fiend that liked to inflict pain on those weaker than himself. He was a monster.
Matt looked around frantically using his magna goggles . He saw Zekk having his things put on board a shuttle. He was just standing there with his hands behind his back looking like he was important. Matt looked around for some kind of transportation to get him to the other side of the base before Zekk could get away. He saw one of the large transports close by. Inside were some speeder bikes. Matt took one last look at the girl splayed on the ground and took off toward the transport. Just then artillery rounds began to hit the base. He was knocked off his feet when one of the rounds hit the transport blowing it to pieces. Parts of the ship and it’s cargo went flying everywhere. Matt stood up still stunned from the blast. The clones had found them. It was now every man for himself.
“Hurry it up!” shouted Captain Zekk . The artillery rounds were coming in more frequently. The clones had the range and the real bombardment would begin any second now. Zekk ducked as he saw a large transport take a direct hit blowing it to pieces.
“Hurry you idiots!” Zekk yelled as he began to panic. He was helping with the loading now. He had collected a lot of valuable objects in this last campaign and he wanted to be sure he left with them.
He looked out over the scene before him. Explosions were going off all around him now. He was looking for Lieutenant Nondow. He had sent him to make sure Mazin had burned the buildings. Nondow should have been back by now. He smiled as he thought about Mazin setting fire to the building that the girl was in. Mazin would be the one that destroyed the evidence for what he did. What was the big deal anyway. People died every day in this war what was the big deal about who did it or why. Mazin just didn’t get it. When there is a war there are no rules except to win. Oh sure there will be those who want you to kill people in a civilized way but that just makes the damned thing take longer. So what if the girl was a civilian. She was asking for it, any one could see that.
Where is Nondow? He should have been back by now. Does he want me to leave his fat ass behind? And that damned Mazin, he was always judging me and my motives. How dare he do that. I’m in command and what I say goes. Why do I even care about what he thinks? He’s a looser and will never be anybody of importance like myself. If Mazin was right then Mazin would be in charge. That damned girl. Why did she have to show up at the dump looking for food. She was so pretty and helpless. Why did she have to fight me . I just wanted to have a little fun. I would have let her go before we left. It was supposed to be a little fun but she wanted to fight me. Me! Well I showed her. That little bitch understands who is charge now I’ll bet.
Matt got to his feet and gathered his senses there was a loud ringing in his ears that was slowly fading away as he collected himself. There was fire and screaming all around him. The speeder bike! He was trying to get a speeder bike! He looked through the wreckage and found one that was still working. Matt looked toward were he remembered the shuttle was. He saw it was still there. He started the bike and hit the throttle. The barrage was coming down like hail at this end of the base now. He maneuvered the vehicle through the explosions as best he could. Zekk wasn’t to get away with his deeds again this time.
“Take off ! Take off you fools ! Zekk was yelling to the pilots of the shuttle. The artillery was creeping closer and closer toward the shuttle. It was time to leave. To bad for Nondow, he should have been faster. The shuttle began to lift off the ground as men tried to get in. the rear cargo door was still open causing a panic as soldiers fought for the last places on board. At the last second Zekk saw a speeder bike crash into the rear of the shuttle throwing the rider inside. It couldn’t be! The rider looked like Mazin! Zekk grabbed his pistol and pushed his way through the soldiers down to the cargo bay. He felt the shuttle being hit by something as it shook violently. The clone attack fighters must be here. They were being strafed. He didn’t care, he had to find Mazin. Something had gone wrong. Nondow was missing but Mazin was here. He must have found the girl. It would be just like him to try and seek out justice in a time like this. Well in times like this anything can happen. It was time to get ride of Matt Mazin once and for all. He wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder. Mazin had to be dealt with.
Several of the soldiers on the shuttle helped Matt to his feet. He had almost missed the shuttle. He worked his way clear of the men and headed towards the upper deck. He knew Zekk would be there. Matt heard a scream from beside him and felt blood spatter his face . The man next to him had been shot. He looked around only to see Captain Zekk standing on the stairs aiming his pistol at him. Matt ducked and the shot hit another man that was behind him. Everyone began to push and shove each other as Zekk blindly began to shoot into the crowd hoping to hit Matt. Suddenly the clone fighters also began to fire at the ship. Bolts of plasma energy ripped through the ships hull and slammed into the unprotected soldiers bodies. Men were tossed back and forth as the shuttle tried to get away from the fighters . Zekk was violently thrown down the stairs into the screaming men. He fought to get back to the stairs but a hand grabbed his nice clean field jacket. He turned just in time to see Matt’s fist punch him in the face.
Zekk stumbled back and fired his gun point blank hitting Matt in the leg. Matt drew his knife and thrust it at Zekk cutting open his jacket.
The ships left engine exploded ripping into the hull and tearing men to pieces. Everything in the ships cargo hold was suddenly flung into the air. The shuttle began to spin down to the planets surface. Men were screaming as warning alarms bellowed through out the ship. Matt looked up just in time to see Zekk leaping on top of him brandishing a knife. He was able to block Zekk’s attack just in time. Matt grabbed Zekk by the jacket and pulled him close but he was able to twist his way free leaving Matt holding it in his hand. There was a violent crash and bang and everything went black.
“You’re lucky to be alive Lieutenant.” said the doctor. He couldn’t see. His face was wrapped in bandages.
“Only you and a couple of others survived the crash. You have been in a coma for three weeks. We had to do some reconstructive surgery on your face and leg but you’ll make a full recovery.” the doctor said.
He sat there in a state of shock. No one could have survived that crash. It was as if he had awoke from a long dream and nothing that had happened before was real. All those men killed and yet he was alive.
Wait a second, where was he anyway? He could hear other people talking around him. It seemed like he was in some sort of hospital ward.
“Hello, is any one there?” He asked nervously.
“I’m here Lieutenant, what do you need?” said a woman’s voice.
“Where am I ?” he asked.
“You are in a hospital, everything is okay, the war is over. As soon as you get better you will be released and sent home.” she said.
The war was over? Who won? He sat still for a while just trying to take in everything.
“There he is.” he heard a male voice say.
“That’s the guy that killed Zekk. He did everybody a big favor.” said another male voice.
He felt someone take his hand and shake it hard. “I just want to shake the hand of the guy that killed that prick. I wasn’t in your unit sir but I served in the same regiment under Zekk. I was glad to hear he didn’t get away. He left some of my buddies to die after their lander crashed. How ever you killed him I’m sure you were too merciful for his own good.”said the voice.
“Zekk is dead?” he asked.
“ How about that. He didn’t even know he was a hero! Yeah they found what was left of him still holding his jacket in the wreckage. When they found him they drug his worthless corpse out and hung it from the wreckage and burned it.” he said laughing.
“He would have been put on trial for war crimes even if his own side had won most likely, nobody respected him. He was just a cowardly little bully and a sadist.” said one of the men in disgust.
“Well we got to go, their sending us home. Thanks again Lieutenant Mazin.” one of them said as they left.
He sat quietly for a while taking in all this information.
“Zekk wasn’t dead.” he thought. “ I’m Zekk!”
The soldiers thought he was Matt Mazin. They were happy to think he was dead. He was despised. They weren’t jealous of his success. They found him disgusting and vile. All he had accomplished in his life was to make himself a target of ridicule. The second they thought he was dead they actually burned his body and hung it up for all to see. They cheered his death.
Zekk lay in the hospital for two more weeks. At least once or twice a day some one would come in and thank him for killing Zekk. He was constantly reminded as he lay there that he was reviled. He was lucky they though he was Matt and didn’t know the truth. Then came the awful moment when he realized Matt had been right about everything. His own view of life couldn’t have been more wrong. He had been given a chance to set things right. By an accident of fate he was given a new identity. He would be able to continue with his life but as a different man. A better man. He would take up his new life where Matt Mazin’s life ended. He would give the galaxy back the man he took.
If you have enjoyed these stories please check out my first all original book series at Amazon.com. The title is Beyond the Crystal Heaven.
Once again thank you for your support.
Last Updated (Friday, 17 May 2013 01:23)