It was beginning to get dark when the three men, weary from their work, climbed back into the ship.
Shanda looked up from the table where she had been writing in her travel log.
“She’s done,” said Dan.
“And better than ever,” Jeremiah added.
“--Except for when I used her in battle,” corrected Orlacc.
“Right,” Jeremiah said.
Dan gave them a funny look and Orlacc quickly said, “I borrowed her a few times.”
“Are you leaving tonight?” Dan asked.
“Yes,” Shanda said, before anyone could get a word in otherwise.
“Yes?” Orlacc and Jeremiah asked at the same time.
“Yes, we are leaving tonight.” She walked over to Dan. “Dan, thank you for everything.” She held out four regs in exchange for his help.
“Nah, couldn’t take it.” Dan waved it away.
“Take it.” Shanda shoved the bills toward him. He took it reluctantly and stuffed them, folded, into his pocket. Shanda smiled and held out her hand and said, “May the Almighty One watch over you and your wife every day, and take care of you.”
“Thank you. You too,” returned Dan. “Good luck, Miss. I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for on Earth. Don’t get yourselves in trouble with the Police.” With that he turned, nodded to Orlacc and Handell, and parted, taking his toolbox on the way.
The three looked at each other, and Orlacc was the first to speak. “So, we’re leaving now, Miss?” he questioned.
Shanda began to nod when Jeremiah interrupted. “The registration, Orlacc. Can we change it?”
“Yes, Sir,” Orlacc said. He went over to the wall and did some button pushing. A panel slid up and a computer was hidden in the wall beneath it. Orlacc pushed the key-in button.
“Registration of Myglord ship, Entity,” he said. The screen flashed numbers and the computer said, ” Ship: Myglord, 2O4. Entity. Registration number: 2O4. Registrated owner: Peter Orlacc. Date purchased: 3879. System in which purchased: Hargan System.” After that were the ship’s documents and travel logs, as well as blueprints of the ship.
Orlacc interrupted the computer. “Please change registration, Entity. Ship: Myglord, 2O4. Entity. Registration number: 4O67. Registrated owner: Jeremiah Handell. Date purchased: 3879. System in which purchased: Draten System. Please change documents accordingly.”
“Will do, Sir,” replied the computer. It began to flash its information across the screen and Orlacc shut the wall.
“Well, Peter Orlacc,” said Shanda. “Get behind the controls and fly us to Earth.”
Orlacc glanced at Jeremiah. “You’ve picked quite the boss,” he said, and turned to the cockpit. Jeremiah smiled to himself and followed. Once they reached the interior of the cockpit, and they had sat down, Orlacc said, “She’s quite the lady, Mr. Handell, quite the lady. She a Freedom Fighter?”
“No, Sir, she’s a princess.”
“Acts like one,” Orlacc mumbled.
The afore named Princess sat in frustration, trying to keep herself calm. If only there was a lady she could talk to. Not one of those chauvinistic men. A lady would listen to her. She paused in thought. No, only a lady who worked in the palace and was used to her orders and her rules would listen. She was in the real world now.
She was just making up her mind to be cordial with them when they came in.
“We’re set on the trail for Earth,” Orlacc informed her.
“Good. Finally. I hope we aren’t delayed anymore,” Shanda said, promptly dissolving her inward promise of being friendly.
“Whadaya want, a faster death?” Jeremiah asked.
“If that is the way,” said Shanda Blore, “yes.”
“Can’t blame the girl for trying,” stated Jeremiah.
“Can we blame her for insensitivity?” Orlacc asked.
Shanda squinted her eyes at him in displeasure and turned back to her writing.
Jeremiah shrugged his shoulders and watched the scanner next to the table. Stars whizzed by. Jeremiah watched Shanda write in her travel log. She was so pretty. If only she would let herself open up to him. He’d seen her soft side a few times when she let her guard down unknowingly. If only there was a way that he could get her to talk to him. He guessed she really didn’t want to have anything to do with him.
He was just wondering why she was so unkind when the beeper of the scanner sounded.
“We’re coming up on Earth,” said Orlacc, and he went to the cockpit.
“Put on the cloaking device!” called out Jeremiah.
The ship slowed down and Shanda trembled. She had reached her destination. They followed Orlacc to the cockpit.
“Where should we go?” asked Jeremiah. “With the cloaking device on, it’s gonna seem awful strange for us to ask to land, when their computers can’t read a darn thing on the ship setting down on the landing pad.”
“You’re right. We’ll fly around the planet with the land scanner on. See if there are any places on there which are run by mere civilians. There are settlers there, not just Police. I hear the far side is where their base is.”
“Yes,” said Jeremiah, more to himself than to the others. “That’s where it is.”
The Pegasus lay on the straw in the rented stall back on Xailier, the princess was on his mind. There was the shadow again. The Pegasus shivered. The shadow held on to her for a moment, then it spread to cover both her and the man. Over him it grew darker and darker, closer and closer. The pegasis awoke.
“Well,” said Jeremiah, “I guess that one, four-twelve on radaar one was the best.”
“What do you think, Entity?” asked Orlacc.
“Well, Sir, I believe he is quite right. My scanner emits civilian base.”
“Shut off scan,” said Orlacc. Jeremiah switched it to off.
“Should I halt the cloaking device?” he asked.
“No, Mr. Handell. Let’s fly away and return, cloaking device off, so it doesn’t look suspicious.”
“Right,” said Jeremiah.
When they returned, they hovered down over the base.
“Identify,” came a voice over the communications speaker.
“Civilian craft,” Jeremiah said, “vacationing from Calidious. Three humans.”
“How long will you be?”
Jeremiah glanced at Orlacc, who nodded.
“About a week,” Jeremiah answered.
“Please hold. Let me clear it.” A pause. “All right. Hanger 28 is open.”
Orlacc sailed the craft down to the hanger and docked it. They sat in thought after Orlacc shut it down.
“We should take the train to the other side,” Jeremiah said. “This planet’s not so small. There’s quite an amount of water on it. I heard that it all was very polluted before the transformation to the new system. Anyway, I guess it’ll probably take us a few hours. What’s your plan, Princess?”
“You ain’t got one have you?!” Jeremiah asked, his voice getting louder.
“What’d you think you were going to do. Walk up and say, `Excuse me, guys, but stop all those bad things you’re doing’? I’m sure they’ll say, `Oh, we’re sorry, Miss Blore, Miss Destanias... we’re sorry we offended you. We’ll stop it right away.′ Insane, Shanda! ... what were you going to do?!” Shanda had tears in her eyes. She was ready to explode. He thought she was stupid. Well, she would prove to him that she was more than an irresponsible princess. She had had a plan, but it sounded all wrong to her now.
“We have to find their leader,” Orlacc said calmly. “The high leader. Blowing up the planet would be useful as well, but tasteless. Jeremiah, we must tell her all we know of the Police. The ways of fight, rule, and thought. I shall tell of the Myglord’s fight. You shall tell of your personal affiliation with them. From there, we shall construct a plan.” The three of them set to work on the plan to defeat the Police, Shanda still fuming at her humiliation by Jeremiah.
In a heavy stone building on the edge of what was, in Earth’s old days, England, sat a man. His grey hair was combed from his high forehead and his steel eyes glanced up at the door as two uniformed men came in.
“Permission to enter, Sir?” requested one.
“Permission granted,” replied the man.
“Normally the landing of civilian ships are of no concern to us, Senator, but this one’s a Myglord ship. They say they’re here for a week on vacation. Three humans. Would you like us to check it?”
“No, Admiral. Thank you for telling me. Where is it?”
“It’s in the America,” he answered. Some of the names of places on Earth had been retained through the stories passed down through the generations. The admiral continued, “They figured we’d want know.”
“Yes. Complement them on their apprehension of the situation. They have been very assenting. I will check it myself. Thank you, men. You are dismissed.”
The two officers turned and left the large room. The man walked, hands behind his back, to his computer.
“Tell me about this Myglord ship in the America. It just landed.”
“Senator. The registration from its computer reads ’Myglord, 2O4, Entity, 4O67, Jeremiah Handell, 3879. Draten System.”
“That will be all,” said the senator. He turned away. “So, Handell. You’ve come back for a visit.” His eyebrows raised at the thought.
Senator Alkis sat back down at the long senator’s table. He smiled to himself.
Admiral Jedua Cradola Alkis had seen it forever in his mind. Going to the top, to rule, was not just a premonition, it was foreseen. He organised a small fleet. It had begun as an governmental party, but soon rose above simple democracy. It was a complete overthrow. No other party had authority over the Police. It took over it’s primary planet, Salariaan, the planet closest to Earth. A small band of Myglords, powerless even to the Police, the size that they were, had been defeated and Admiral Alkis became Governor Alkis, and then Senator Alkis. He conscripted men until he created one huge armada. They moved their base to Earth. No one fought against the Police. Except Admiral Handell. He would have made a good leader. He’d been tough, one of the best soldiers. He worked his way up to admiral and Alkis had believed he would one day follow and take his place. But Handell was content with ruling Earth and Salariaan, and the outlying territories. Alkis wanted it all. All fourteen planets. He wanted all of the Remdis System, and then the systems beyond.
Handell came from Aria, the prettiest and most peaceful planet in the system. He did not want it to be taken over. When the senator had learned that the admiral was content to rule two planets, he ordered the denunciation of Handell’s status. When Handell tried to take the plan of the destruction of Aria, the most opposing force in the system, plans which included the killing of all citizens, and the burning of all the beautiful lands, he was caught and tortured for his uncooperative behaviour for days. His weakened body was then laid down on the rural area of Xailier.
“I guess he wasn’t scared enough,” thought Alkis aloud. “He’s come back for more. Only this time, he won’t have to come back ever again. I wonder what his plans are this time. Perhaps he’ll
take our plans again. A trap shall be erected. We’ll let him think he’s getting away with it, then....” The senator smirked to himself, and began to think of a new means of doom for Handell and his pitiful friends.
The telegalactic communicator was ticking as Shanda sent her call through to home. She reached the palace and assured the lady-in-waiting that she was all right. She told her to tell the others and terminated the call before too many questions were posed.
She thought for a moment about the lady on the train who had been looking for her robots, then once more, she picked up the TGC.
“Candal Cre. Xailier,” she said.
There were a few beeps and a voice came on the TGC. “We are sorry to inform you that the person with whom you wish to speak has been dismissed by the Police for illegal acts against them.”
Shanda let the receiver fall to her lap. Candal had been killed. That’s what dismissed meant. Illegal acts simply meant living and remembering the old ways of before the Police took over.
Jeremiah looked up from his writing. “What’s wrong?”
“Their killings are getting even more ridiculous, beyond imagination. How could anyone be so cruel?”
“Another one?” asked Jeremiah.
“An acquaintance,” mumbled Shanda.
Orlacc returned from the the cockpit. “I got a hold of the Fleea blockade.”
Jeremiah and Shanda looked up, hopeful.
“They have been waiting for someone to start it up. They’ve agreed to help us. They will hover above the base until many of the troops can be lured away. Then we can get into the station. I will try to get the plans, and you can try to capture the dear Alkis.”
The Fleea Fighters were, to many, a joke. They had formed in disgust to the Police. Many of them had fathers and mothers who had been involved in the Myglord fleet. Many grew up without parents as a result, and their hatred grew. They wanted to see the destruction of the huge force that was tightening its fingers around the galaxy, cutting off its life and essence. But no one knew how. They were all quite young and inexperienced with the idea of fights, especially one of this size. Up until this revolt, there had been only one, the fight of the Myglords, since ancestors of ancestors had fought their own wars and wars that weren’t theirs on Earth so long ago. The Fleea Fighters had been waiting and training, and they had been waiting for the call that Orlacc made.
“How long will it take for them to assemble?” Jeremiah asked.
“Sixty minutes off the base.”
“Let’s get on our way,” said Jeremiah.
Orlacc headed for the cockpit as Jeremiah put his gun in his holster and held his hand out to Shanda. She shoved her own gun into her holster and walked out ahead of him. His hand dropped down to his side and he shrugged his shoulders and followed her.
They caught the train which would take them as far as the end of the America, and then took a hydrojet over the ocean to the Britains, as the name had become for the three countries in Great Britain.
They stepped off the jet and observed their surroundings. The weather was damp and cold, perfect for a Police base. The sky was grey and cast a gloomy atmosphere over the land.
Jeremiah stopped Shanda. “We’re gonna do it,” he said.
She looked at him with a certain sadness, a certain closeness, in her eyes. “Yes, she murmured.
“Shanda? You know... I love you,” he said, leaning close.
Shanda felt a twinge in her heart. “We’d better go,” she said, after a pause. She turned to search for an empty street-cruiser, and after spotting one, went over to it.
Jeremiah sighed. `Why wouldn’t she ever, once, be human?′ he thought.
“Come on! We don’t have much time!” she called back to him. He moved swiftly over to the open street-cruiser and climbed in beside Shanda, switching the engine on. They raced off, leaving a cloud of water vapour settling to the ground.
The Pegasus paced back and forth in the stall. The princess’s beauty clung in his mythical mind. The way she ran into the field in the morning to collect water. She was so innocent, too magnificent to be at the brink of danger. And now the man had to take care of her, but his future looked even bleaker than hers, now.