One last hope
Timtam stepped into the doorway of the escape pod. It was morning on the planet and she had always been used to getting up early to prepare Lionette’s bath and lay out her clothes. The sun was just coming up over the hill behind where the pod rested so at least they wouldn’t have the sun in their eyes every morning.
It was still a little dark and cool enough for Timtam to wrap herself in a blanket to keep from being too chilly. She sat in the doorway and pulled her knees up under her chin to stay warm. Once the sun rose high enough the temperature would rise very quickly and it would be hot again all day.
She listened to the birds high up and unseen in the trees. She decided she liked it here. It would be just her and Hudd for a long time, maybe years. If they could locate enough food to go along with the supply of fresh water they found the day before then everything would be all right.
Timtam heard Hudd moving in the bunk. He grunted and rolled over still sleeping. She looked at him and smiled to herself. She didn’t want to be rescued. She wanted to stay here with Hudd and not have to worry about all the other problems. She turned back and looked at the jungle again. There, not ten feet in front of her, was a small gray furry animal. It was sitting with it’s back to her as if it didn’t realize she was there. Timtam froze and remained silent so she could watch this little animal awhile.
It sat on its haunches with its head down. It had a long fluffy black and white ringed tail that wagged back and forth slowly. The tiny creature was covered in hair from top to bottom with two long pointy ears that seemed to be in constant motion taking in every sound.
It was about a foot tall in the sitting position but was probably taller if it could stand on two legs. She couldn’t see its face yet and was hoping the little animal would turn so she could see it.
“Timtam?” Hudd called as he woke up.
Timtam watched as the animal turned in her direction. The animal had a slightly elongated face and a tiny nose covered in light gray fur. It was eating an insect of some kind and she noticed that it had opposable thumbs on its hands. She could make out sharp teeth in its mouth denoting it to be some form of predatory animal. However the most striking feature was its huge blue eyes that had a slit like pupil that made her think of her own eyes. Hudd began to get up and move around in the escape pod by now. The tiny creature’s ears folded back as if frightened by Hudd’s sudden movements and noise and sped off into the foliage.
“Aww.” Timtam said disappointed. She thought the little animal might make a nice friend for her.
“What’s up?” Hudd asked as he leaned over and kissed Timtam on the top of her head.
“There was a little animal out there just a second ago. It was cute.” She said looking up at him and returned his kiss.
“You’d better be careful about any animals you find, even small animals can be dangerous.” He said rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
“I’ll be careful, I promise.” She said smiling.
“Besides the little animals the main thing we have to worry about are the top predators, the big animals. In a place like this they could be anything, insects, reptiles, even plants or mammals. All we have for protection is my blaster and it only has ten shots in the power pack. Until we can come up with a way to recharge it we won’t be able to use it unless we’re in a life or death circumstance.” Hudd said as he sat down next to Timtam.
“What about food?” she asked.
“We’ll make some traps. I remember how to build some simple ones from my pilot training. We had to take a survival course just in case of things like this. I’m licensed to carry passengers so I had to take the class for their safety.” He said looking at the jungle.
Timtam could tell he was worried. Everything would depend on him now and the search for food everyday would have to be his top priority.
“Okay then, what can I do to help?” she asked.
Hudd thought for a second. She felt a little hurt that he had to think of something she would be capable of.
“I’m lucky to have you here.” He said smiling. “I want you to go through the manuals and see if there’s a way to build a generator or battery recharger. With your mechanical skills it should be easy for you to do.” He said.
Timtam smiled, he didn’t think she was useless at all he was just thinking how best to use her skills.
She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. “I’ll get right on that but first I’m going to open a ration pack and make you something to eat.” she said. She stood up and began to dig through the supplies for the rations.
“Wow, that’s the first time I ever got a kiss and breakfast for handing out crew assignments.” Hudd laughed.
The Visiok flagship had landed at the lower docking bay of the Ty palace. Fighting was still heavy but Azak was no coward. He stood in the front off his men just behind the main landing bay door on the ship.
“This is the end my brothers. Once Mundis and Furonius are killed we will be the new masters of the Ty clan and all who serve them. You all know me to be a fair leader. I promise a share of all we gain here today to all of you who fight by my side.” The huge bay door dropped open with a thunderous clang.
“Death to Mundis Char, leader of the Ty clan!” Azak yelled as he held his light saber over his head and charged headlong into the Ty troops defensive fire. He too had been trained by Verasia, the Jedi master as were most royals.
Feloids fell in droves on both sides as the battle for the landing dock raged on. The battle had quickly become a hand-to-hand free for all. Azak deflected shots back at his attackers as he urged his warriors closer to the palace entrance. “Onwards to the inner hall, if we don’t take this landing dock all is lost!” he yelled.
A Visiok assault team had managed to get close enough to set up a plasma gun on one side near the entrance. The guns commander threw the switch and a huge torrent of white-hot plasma energy crackled its way into the Ty defenders at the entrance. Most never had the chance to scream as they were almost instantaneously incinerated.
“Forward!” Azak yelled as he saw the breach in the Ty clan lines.
There was a huge cry from the Visiok clan troopers as they surged forward brushing aside the remaining defenders. In seconds they had entered the Ty palace and quickly fanned out to secure hallway intersections to allow the second wave of attackers to move in and assault their objectives.
This had been the main focus of the attack. Once this level had been taken the Visiok troops would have cut off the lower levels and the Ty clan re-enforcements keeping them from joining the fight upstairs.
“Come out Human, you’re free to go.” the Feloid guard said to Matt as he opened the door. Matt had heard the battle raging above him echoing through the halls over head.
“Where’s Pep? What have you done with her!” Matt said grabbing the guard by the arm. He knew this soldier had just been following orders and most likely had very little useful information.
“I hope for her sake she left. The palace has been breached and Visiok scum is now flooding into the lower landing bay. I’m afraid everyone in the palace will be enslaved or put up against a wall and shot. If I was you Human I’d get clear of the palace anyway I could and try and find your woman on the outside, to stay here is certain death.” The guard said with the calmness of a man who has accepted his fate.
Matt released the guard realizing there was no way to intimidate this soldier now that he had resigned himself of his fate.
“What’s my best chance to get to the Colonel?” he asked.
The guard shook his head at Matt’s stubbornness. “Take the stairway you were brought in on. Continue up three floors and then, if you’re lucky the Visioks won’t have captured that area yet.
If your luck holds out go across the great hall and behind the great throne you’ll find a secret door. Go in and up the stairway until you go through a second door into the command center.” The guard said suddenly becoming very helpful. “If by this point you haven’t been shot by either side you’ll be in the room where he should be.”
Matt took a few steps and then turned back to look at the guard. “Why are you helping me?” he asked.
“I will most likely be dead in a few minutes human. I won’t be able to see my woman before that happens but you have a chance. Go and find your Pep and spend the last minutes in each others arms.” He said simply and then hurried off down the hall.
Matt turned and ran up the steps that he had been brought in by. He opened the door and saw Ty warriors in hand-to-hand combat with Visiok shock troopers in the doorway about to enter the area. Several shots were fired at him as he made a break for it across the great hall. The description wasn’t an exaggeration at all. The room was easily a hundred feet long and fifty feet wide. Matt ran from pillar to pillar using them as cover from the Visiok soldiers that were shooting at him. He had to crawl on his belly behind a fallen pillar to reach the throne but once there he found a well-protected area just behind it where he could search for the secret door. The Visiok troops had entered the room and several began shooting at the place they had last seen Matt. He knew he had only seconds to find the device that opened the door. He decided to try a new tactic. Matt kicked against the wall with all his might until he saw a panel give way just a little. He focused all his strength against that one spot bending the panel back just enough to squeeze through. Once through he felt a hand grab his ankle. It was a Visiok soldier following him. He pulled the trooper in farther to his surprise wedging him in the opening. Matt then grabbed the wall for support and kicked the soldier in the face with his boot. He heard a crack as the soldier’s nose broke. The soldier began yelling something in Feloid so Matt kept kicking him in the head harder and harder until his grasp released. Matt stumbled back and caught his breath looking down at the bloody mess on the floor. He turned and saw the stairway that lead up to the command center. He reached back down to where the Visiok soldier lay and grabbed his rifle and checked to see if it was loaded. Satisfied he had a working weapon Matt began to climb the stairs as fast as he could.
He could hear shouting just behind him now as the other remaining Visiok soldiers began their pursuit. He didn’t stop until he reached the second door. The door was locked so he began beating on it and yelling.
“Open the door, it’s Matt Mazin!” he repeated.
Matt felt the bite of a Visiok blaster bolt hitting him in the leg. He fell to the floor and fired two rounds instinctively down the stairway.
“Open the fucking door you idiots!” Matt yelled. Matt howled as he was struck again with a second shot just missing his head splattering his face with tiny droplets of molten slag from the wall where it hit.
Matt fired three more shots down the stairs wounding one of the Visiok troopers.
Suddenly the door opened behind him and a hand grabbed the back of his collar dragging him inside. Several shots were fired from inside the room followed by two hand grenades being tossed into the stair well. The door closed just in time as the grenades went off. Screams of pain could be heard on the other side of the door coming from the dying Visiok soldiers.
Matt grabbed the hand of the man who drug him into the room and looked up. It was Mundis Ty himself.
“That was a close call I’d say.” Mundis said to Matt as he helped him up and over to a sofa.
“Thanks for letting me in, I thought I was a goner.” He replied.
“I feel I’ve only delayed your death my friend. It won’t be long now until they attack this room.” Mundis said looking somewhat nervous.
Matt looked around the room and saw the Colonel standing in the center with his hands behind his back.
“Where is she? Where’s Pep?” Matt yelled trying to stand.
“She’s gone. She was taken by a third party of unknown origin and motive. A pink head cat girl, maybe you know who it was.” He answered calmly.
Matt thought it might be Timtam but she had been sent to Geirgor by Pep so it couldn’t have been her.
“What kind of ship was it?” Matt asked desperately trying to figure out what had happened to her.
“We should be focusing at the matter before us. In less than half an hour that door is coming down and we will be murdered where we stand. At least Pep is not here and most likely alive.” The Colonel said.
“Who are you?” Pep asked as politely as she could. From years of slavery she knew she should never anger the person that holds you captive.
Enna had come back from the cockpit after setting the astrodroid’s co-ordinates. She had walked up to the bunk that Pep had been shackled too. The binders she used had a stasis field that canceled all force energy.
“I’m Enna, just Enna. All you need to know is your life is now in my hands. Do you understand what I’m telling you?” she asked.
Pep nodded her head yes.
“You are being taken to the Empire because of your abilities. Apparently back when you were taken prisoner by Professor Gangler and tortured you were given a drug while you were passed out. The drug is meant to stimulate any latent Force abilities in you. It was only an experiment to see if Feloids had any Force potential at all.” Enna said as she brushed the loose hair away from Pep’s face.
“Anyway you know the rest. You seem to have gotten lost and developed your skills by yourself. They want to study you to see if they can use other cat girls to bring down the Feloid race. As I understand it your kind has the most anger and will be easiest to turn to the dark side. In return they’ll give me the same powers you have.” Enna said sitting down next to Pep.
“If you have me then why do you need them? I’d be willing to help you. I have little education and it would be nice have someone with the same powers to help me.” Pep said smiling shyly.
“Hmm, it would be easier if I didn’t have to deal with the Empire and their back stabbing ways.” Enna said.
“You said you wanted to lead the Feloid race so why not start with me? The clan I was loyal to is probably gone and I need a friend right about now.” Pep had learned how to make people like Enna feel in control so she wouldn’t be seen as a threat. She was sick inside knowing her friends and Matt may be dead as they spoke but once again her years of slavery had taught her how to bury those feelings and only show her masters the side they wanted to see and how to survive.
“It could work I guess but I’d need that Imperial doctor and her serum.” Enna said thinking out loud.
“If you captured me it should be easy for you to capture her. You know I’d be willing to help you” Pep said.
“Why would you help me? How can I trust you?” Enna asked suspiciously.
“I want to be with my man again. If I help you I think you would let me see him again. If I’m turned over to the Empire then I’ll never see him again and they may not keep their word and give you the same powers I have. If you were to take my suggestion it would be you who was in control of me, the doctor, the drug, and your own destiny.” Pep said as humbly as she could.
Enna stood up suddenly and stepped away from Pep.
Pep froze, afraid that Enna had figured out that she was saying anything so she wouldn’t be turned over to the Empire.
“That drug must have increased your brain power.” Enna laughed.
“I think there is something to what you are saying. If I had the doctor and the drug I would control my own destiny. The only problem we have is that if I were to take those stasis shackles off of you I think you would kill me before the shackles hit the floor. So how can you be trusted cat girl?” Enna asked.
“I guess you’ll have to leave them on until you get the doctor. I’ve worn shackles before, I won’t complain. After all you are the one calling the shots aren’t you? I don’t want to challenge you or hurt you. I just want to go somewhere safe and live my life with my man. I never wanted any of this so if you can help me to get what I want then I’d be glad to cooperate in anyway you want.” Pep said forcing desperate tears into her eyes.
“I’ll think on what you’ve said cat girl. You make sense but everyone knows your kind can’t be trusted. I will think about it though and we will talk more about it tomorrow.” Enna said as she walked back to the cockpit. Pep smiled to herself. There was hope now. She would gain this woman’s favor anyway she could. She would see Matt again no matter what she had to say or do.
Mykala leaned back on the other side of the cage. She had hoped that the bars on this side would be more comfortable. The cargo bay door slid open causing Mykala to look up. There in the doorway was Stella. She was wearing a long black cloak and her signature black leather boots and outfit. The cloak had an Imperial emblem on the left shoulder front identifying the wearer as a hunter of Jedi.
“Traitor.” Mykala said.
Stella calmly walked over too the cage and shook it slightly as a reminder to Mykala that she was the one who had lost. “You need to watch your little mouth Mykala unless you want something to happen to your cousin Haven Dak. You should be happy for me, I’ve just been put in charge of hunting down the Rebels in Feloid space. It seems that I may be able to make that deal about you joining us in exchange for the life of your friends.” Stella said as she smiled and walked around the cage.
“How could you side with the Emperor?” Mykala asked angrily.
“Don’t you judge me girl. I’ve seen what they do to Jedi that don’t join them. I’m trying to save you from what they did to me. They have a very special place where they send pretty little girls like you, I know, I’ve been there.” Stella said rubbing her arms as if suddenly taken by a chill.
“What place?” Mykala asked. Stella’s reaction to her own words frightened Mykala.
Stella looked at Mykala. “I was there for three months Mykala. They never let up on me for a second. It felt like three hundred years. The dark side has no limit as to what they will do; it’s their strength. I don’t want to draw you a picture or explain in detail what they did but nobody survives that. Everyone breaks and nobody is allowed to die. They don’t want martyrs Mykala.” Stella sneered at Mykala.
“Maybe you didn’t have what it takes.” Mykala sneered back at Stella.
Stella gave a knowing laugh. “I was there with hundreds of Jedi captured from all over the Galaxy. We all wanted to be tough and hold out. We all learned each other’s names so we could encourage each other to resist but even that was turned against us.
One by one they turned too the dark side. The ones that turned began to encourage the others; we fell like dominos, each Jedi falling on the other and then the next and the next.
Damn it Mykala they’ve been doing this for twenty thousand years! Take the offer and save your friends!” Stella said intently almost begging.
Stella was beginning to make sense but Mykala was stubborn.
“I don’t look good in black.” She said smiling.
Stella stood up straight and took a step back from the cage. She had a serious look on her face now, cold and knowing.
“Alright Mykala, you have it your way. But when those animals strap you down to one of those cold filthy metal tables and use your body like a brand new toy for their sadistic desires don’t call for me to help you.
When they bring you the heads of your friends and stuff you in a bag with them for a week don’t call for me to help you.
And when they capture sweet young Haven Dak then strap her to one of those tables right next to you and tell her you could have saved her while eight or nine of those animals slobber all over her then you’ll wish you took my offer.
Everything I’ve told you will happen to you and your friends unless you change your mind and save them. Even if they hate you and have to live under guard it’s a far better alternative then the other.” Stella said.
Mykala sat quiet in her cage. She knew that everything Stella said was true.
Stella turned and walked back to the door and opened it. There was a guard waiting on the other side armed with a blaster rifle.
“Come and get me at once if she asks for me.” Stella told the guard.
“Yes Ma’am.” He replied.
Mykala watched as the door closed slowly shutting her off from her friend. The things that Stella had told her had hit home. Mykala didn’t want to show fear to anyone in the Empire but she was terrified of what was too come.
Mykala knew there was no way she would be able to hold out against those types of torments. Stella had hit home by explaining how Haven would be treated. It was becoming clear to her that she had only two choices. She could take Stella’s offer to join and serve the Emperor. In exchange for that allegiance her friends and Haven would be taken to a planet well inside Imperial space and live the rest of they’re lives as prisoners.
Her second choice would be to turn down the offer and face months of torture along with any of her friends that the Empire caught. She knew she would eventually cave in to the anguish of it all and side with the Empire but her friends would be left to their own fates. There would be nothing she could do for them.
She sat in the cage alone thinking. She realized she had a third option. If she was to be killed she would be teleported back to Haven. Once back they could make a run for it and disappear on some planet on the fringes of known space. It was her one last hope to live free. She would have to try it.
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 (Tuesday, 10 September 2013 02:42)