Part Two: The Confrontation, Chapter 7
A huge force was assembling in the darkness of the galaxy. They were the Fleea Freedom Fighters, hearts anew with the hopes of defeating the Police. They had tried to salvage peace before, but had lost their fought battles. There was too much power behind the Police. They had tried with non-violence, the preferred method of confrontation, but it was not enough, and now they had to use the Earthling method. None were too happy about it either.
Admiral Araignea felt that this was it. Either they would triumph, or the Police would defeat and destroy once and for all, therefore stepping on any hope of the demise of the evil rulers, for, after the Freedom Fighters, after the long-gone fight of the Myglords, there was no more, and the tyranny would overcome the weakness.
When the word had come in, Araignea had thought it to be a hoax, but the caller identified himself to be with the princess of Xailier, and he himself to be a bygone Myglord, and the admiral knew it to be true. He called together his men, and the men they could find. Now here they sat, a motley division of those men who were willing to give their lives, so that their children, and the children of those children could remember the way it was... the way it should be. A shame that peace could only be gotten through war. A shame and a waste of precious time and precious lives.
“All accounted for, Admiral,” a staticky voice announced.
“Thank you, General. I am waiting for the word,” replied Admiral Araignea. He could feel the intensity in the air.
“Here we are,” said Captain Handell. Admiral Handell. It all began to flash into his mind, especially the torture part.
Shanda flicked open the small communications device. “Orlacc?” She paused.
“Yes, Ma’am,” came Orlacc’s coarse voice.
“We are here,” she announced simply.
“The fleet is above you now,” Orlacc informed her. “They’re coming in. I will be there at once.” He stopped for a moment, and when he spoke again, the gruffness in his voice was all but gone. “Be careful, M’lady. Tell your friend. And... good luck.”
Shanda stood still for a moment before she folded the receiver and replaced it into her pocket.
She thought about Orlacc and how he pretended to be mean on the outside but how gentle he really was. Why did he cover it up? Her mind turned it’s thoughts to herself. She wasn’t really that nasty either. Why was she always biting at everyone? She never used to. When she was young, she always had wished she had someone to play, to roll in the fields and run with.
The princess had been born twenty-three years ago in the Crystal Palace of Xailier to King Maylord Destanias and Queen Elsa Destanias of Trinelki. She knew little of friendship but heard about games and kind red souls through her studies. The queen would catch her little daughter looking dismally out her room to the rolling fields of flowers and she knew that her child wanted to play. But that wasn’t the way a princess should behave. Ania was taught her manners and the ways of monarchy rule and she was loved by her parents and the servants alike, for she was dear and sweet and very beautiful.
The little princess did have an imaginary friend, as most children do, but hers was her only friend. She called her “Orchid”, and on the sly, they would run out into the field and play. Soon, this got too hard to do as she got older, so before anyone awoke, Ania and Orchid ran out across the morning ground to the well before the breakfast whistle sounded. Once the whistle was heard, Orchid disappeared and the young princess would scurry back from her illegal run, to the palace.
Orchid was most real after Ania’s parents had died. The servants were left with a princess to care for who had to care for the whole planet at the age of twelve. She would not become queen until she had married, abiding the Xailier rules. Since she never attended social events which required her to talk one on one amongst the crowd, she’d never met people, and was very shy and unsure of how to act.
Ania had never learned of her parents’ deaths. She just knew that her loving mother and doting father were not around any more to call her “daughter”.
Orlacc called to Admiral Araignea. “It’s all set,” he said. “Get them out of here.”
Orlacc started up his ship and took off.
“Report came in, Sir. The Myglord ship just left deck. Seems it’s heading this way,” Admiral Rakin informed the senator.
Senator Alkis smiled. “We’ll be ready for their threesome,” he said. “Call the--”
“Sir!” The door opened as an officer hurried in. “It appears that a fleet of ships, Freedom Fighters, it seems, are assembled above us.”
The smile disappeared from the senator’s face. “Call troops to get up there! As many as it takes! Get rid of them!”
“Yes, Sir.” The officer bowed his head in respect and moved briskly out the door, which closed behind him.
“So,” said the senator, walking around the table. Admiral Rakin stood at attention, though his eyes followed the senator as he moved around the room. “They seem to know more than we thought. But they’re also stupider. Now instead of losing three lives, they are killing off thousands.”
But Senator Alkis wasn’t smiling this time.
Jeremiah and Shanda watched from the trees as the ships, one by one, took off, heading straight up to where the Fleea ships were waiting.
“Not too smart, these boys,” said Jeremiah. “The way our fleet’s sittin’ up there, it could blast ‘em so easy. They’re movin’ in, one by one.”
“Let them do it their way,” Shanda said.
The last ship had taken off and the battle amongst the stars had begun. Jeremiah moved out of the bushes, gun ready, with Shanda following silently behind him.
They slunk around to the back doors, where a guard stood armed. Jeremiah summed up the situation. He wondered how many men there were inside the huge old building.
The building was a giant, fort-like structure made of stone. It was one floor, except for a bunch of damp rooms under the main floor. The actual structure consisted of two big, square buildings joined by an enclosed bridge which extended over a swamp. The main entrance, back door, and the power generators were in the nearest block, and across the bridge in the far building, was the senator’s room, the dungeons, and a well-hidden room where the senator would hide in time of danger, which could only be gotten to by passing through a series of doors and going down stairs until the room was reached. It contained everything the senator would need to stay for days or weeks if need be. Other than these rooms, were hallways and rooms, used and unused.
There was such a large amount of space that even the whole league of Alkis’s men couldn’t fill it up. Jeremiah decided that it would be a rather empty building.
He looked at Shanda, shrugged his shoulders, and pulled the trigger. The guard fell to the ground. Jeremiah strode over to him and picked up the man’s gun. They opened the heavy, metal doors which slammed shut behind them.
A network of hallways extended before them, metals with lights flashing, dotting halls of steel.
“Uh,” said Jeremiah. “Which way should we go?”
“We shut off all the systems first,” Shanda replied.
“Right... of course... I knew that. I was just checking to see if you knew the plan,” Jeremiah said, trying desperately to keep his leadership qualities above water.
Shanda moved ahead of him, so he wouldn’t see her smile.
“Wait!” he called softly. She stopped and turned around. “You don’t even know where you’re going,” he said.
“Lead on, then, Mr. Space Captain,” she said, waving her hand ahead of her. He marched through the empty hallway, barely causing an echo. He certainly seemed confident.
He recalled his previous entanglement with the men who marched these halls. He once was one. He killed to gain power. It wasn’t that he wanted to kill, he didn’t, none of them did, but there was no other way.Wanting to be tops had always meant working for it. His father, Arthrarian Rena Handell had taught him to fight to get to the top. His son’s fight to the top had only led to his own death. Jeremiah never forgave himself for any of it.
He could see the pride in his father’s eyes as, in memory, he raced home to tell his father of his acceptance in the new government. His mother, too, had great joy in her eyes for her son. Greta Handell was a lady dedicated to her family. She supported her husband, the Arthrarian of the High Lords of Aria, as he supported her raising of their only son, Yrmaya Donovan Handell. Yrmaya had tried to stop the wicked ways of Senator Alkis. He’d done all he could, risking his admiral status, and almost his life to arrest the commencement of the plans to overcome the whole Remdis System, then even perhaps the whole galaxy.
They had caught him, though, and had taken the plans back, starting the overthrow even sooner than the plans had indicated.
“So, Admiral,” Senator Alkis had said sarcastically, accenting the word “admiral”. “You thought maybe you own ideas are better than every other admiral’s here, as well as my own, did you? What was your motive for betraying the Police?”
“I did not betray you, Sir. You betrayed me... and all the other men who thought as I did. We didn’t think our involvement would ever come to the siege and destruction of the whole system.” He kept a defiant stance, even though his hands were bound behind his back.
“We thought you would be pleased with your newfound power, Admiral. I thought you would hold your intentions to becoming the power yourself. Taking over my job. Keeping the Police running smoothly under YOUR thumb.” The senator turned and walked to the other end of the room. “Now, Admiral,” he spat out the word, “you will never run this ultimate organisation. If you withstand the torture my men have prepared, you will remember this pain, excruciating pain, forever. If you live... you may regret it.” The senator waved his arm to the guards, who grappled onto the contemptuous admiral.
“You’ll regret this, Alkis,” growled Handell. “I’ll be back, and then you’ll regret it all!” No more was heard, as the doors clanged shut behind him and the guards.
Senator Alkis held in the back of his mind a diminutive uneasiness, but diminutive was all it was. Then he followed the path to where Handell was to be punished.
The heat and electricity drew closer, the excruciation growing worse. His screams rang out to districts unwalked in the station. Never had anyone felt such agony. Every part of his body exploded in anguish. They continued even after he had fallen into an unconscious state of torment.
“Take his body to Xailier,” Alkis told Captain Rydra. “Leave him in an isolated area. Perhaps he will be found..., perhaps he won’t.”
Captain Rydra took the comatose admiral to his ship and upon reaching Xailier, found a secluded area, and left the dishonoured Handell lain out amongst the grass and trees.
A Mecca worker travelling through the waving hay on his way to work the next day came across Handell, and Jeremiah was taken to the nearest medical unit. Even with the modern instruments and techniques by the doctors, it was almost impossible to revive him. When Jeremiah had awoke, the excruciation of the device that had almost killed him tortured his mind for months. It took him almost a year to strengthen his weakened body just so he could stand on his own two feet.
What was he really doing back here? He could never withstand that kind of agony again.
Shanda now saw the pain inflicting on his face and wondered at what had really happened to him. He’d told her that he’d been punished and left on Xailier, but his face now implied torment deeper than he had originally described. He kept on walking.
“Captain!” she called. He stopped and turned. “Can you remember where the power circuit is? It’s been a long time.”
“I remember everything about this station.” He flicked out his gun and shot down an approaching officer. He twitched his head toward the fallen soldier. “Even them.” He began to run. “Come on. We’ve got to get there before we’re swarmed.”
They raced to a door on the right of the hall, where a bit of door-blasting on Jeremiah’s part aided in their entry. Jeremiah took a good five minutes to tear out the weapons and light wires.
“What about the generator?” he asked Shanda.
“What does it run?”
“It only has enough power to run their back-up lights,” said Jeremiah.
“Well then, leave it. We’ll need to see--” She was interrupted by the four men who barged through the door. Surprised at seeing two people in there was their punishment. Jeremiah and Shanda gunned them down.
“Come on!” Jeremiah yelled. Shanda followed, hopping over the bodies.
Admiral Araignea called out the instructions to his lead men, who barked them out to their own fighters.
“Number One!” he called into his speaker.
“Get your group to take them on the way out. I’ll have Number Two pull up and fire at them from behind.”
“Number Two, did you copy?”
“Yes, Sir. We’re pulling up now!”
Araignea looked out to see a half a dozen ships heading out towards the Earth’s moon. They were followed by six Police ships, which, in turn, were followed by six more Fleea ships. Across Araignea’s screen flashed stars, gun fire, and ships exploding, all at the same time, in space.
“Admiral!” screamed Number Four. “I’m caught! Right below you!”
Araignea dipped down, spying the offender, and finished him off.
“Thanks, Sir!” said Number Four.
“My right engine’s gone!” shouted Number Three.
“Get out! Get out!” Admiral Araignea yelled. “Direct your men from above!”
A ship from Number Four’s group exploded to Araignea’s left. Groups One and Two had defeated all but one enemy ship, which switched course abruptly, turning back toward the battle.
“Number Five,” called Araignea, “check those ships returning from Number Four’s chase.”
“Will do, Admiral,” Number Five called. Flecks of fire hit the starboard of his ship. “Men, return to me, and follow. Let’s take these boys on!”
“Should I help Drate?” Number Three shouted from above.
“Negative, negative, Number Three, you only have one engine left.” Ordered Araignea. He moved his ship quickly to the to avoid the bits of explosion from a near Fleea ship, and veered over behind another Police ship.
Orlacc set the large ship down on the Police base. Jeremiah had told him to meet them at the bridge.
“Where is it?” The old pilot had asked.
“You’ll know it when you see it. It’s in the centre of the station,” Jeremiah had replied.
That’s where Orlacc was heading now. He stealthily slunk along to the back door, after blasting a couple of on-duty soldiers. Most of station was alert to the others’ invasion, and were in search for those two, not knowing about Orlacc’s later intrusion. He snuck in a back door, which must have been the same entrance as the princess and the pilot’s, as the door had been blasted, and a dead soldier lay askew on the ground. Now for the bridge.
Senator Alkis moved swiftly down the halls, down the stairs to a damp, dark chamber below the building. Here he would stay to await the captain, Handell. Mr. Handell would know where he was when it was time for confrontation, and he would come, because it was in the senator’s plan.
He unbarred the great stone door and pushed it inward, descending a few steps more on the chipped stairs. The second door swung open. The musty, dank chamber had several cobwebs extending from the ceiling to the damp walls. A few solid chairs were scattered about the room, and an immense book shelf, filled with dusty volumes of the great Old Earth writers, Dickens, Twain, Shakespeare, and of poets like Keats, Blake, and Ginsberg, all the great stories and poems of the past, rested against the far wall.
Senator Alkis sat down with one of these tomes in hand to wait for an admiral who had betrayed his organisation.
The admiral in question was on his way. He and the girl had managed to get to the bridge.
“We can’t hold them off forever!” screamed the princess, blasting another officer off the side. “Where is he?”
“I don’t know!” Jeremiah hollered back. “Maybe he got detained.” Jeremiah wielded his gun. A soldier stepped in front of him, but before Jeremiah could shoot, the soldier was dead on the floor. In the door stood Orlacc.
“Need help?” he asked.
“No... no... not at all. We were doin’ great,” Jeremiah said.
Shanda shot at two more men who were on the other end of the bridge, and Jeremiah picked a few off the platform itself. Orlacc shot at his side of the bridge. Hot streams of ammunition zinged through the hall until silence closed it in. The smoke cleared to uncover dozens of dead bodies. It seemed to be the end of the invasion from the Police, so the three anti-establishment members let their grips loosen a little on their guns.
“Where are the plans?” Orlacc asked Jeremiah.
“In the senator’s room,” Jeremiah said. “But I can’t go get them.”
“Why? Where’s the senator?” Shanda demanded.
“He’s gone to the chamber rooms below.”
“We can get the plans first, then go down together,” Shanda said softly, going over to him.
“No. I have to go alone. Follow me later. Give me some back-up.”
“Are you sure, Captain?” Orlacc inquired.
“Yes, I have to, Sir.”
“So be it,” said Orlacc, turning.
“No! No! Jeremiah!” Shanda heard herself calling. She tried to tell herself that it was a waste of energy, that she didn’t love this man. She never could. He much so different. She wanted to leave him, to let him seek out his mission, but at the same time, she wanted him to be with her forever.
“Sweetheart, I’ll be back,” Jeremiah Handell said to her. He saw her flashing eyes. What had caused her to change, to become older, he wondered. Was it her terror? Was it love? Love for him? He’d always loved her, from the very first of their trip together. Trouble was, if she didn’t love him back, why should he worry about her? If he could save the universe, even if he had to give his life, it would be worth doing, although he wasn’t too fond of dying.
Orlacc took her from his view. Just before the doors closed, the princess turned with a look in her eyes that haunted Jeremiah. It was the same look his father had given him before he was killed. Love for his son, terror for what would come of all this.
Jeremiah turned and quickly trekked to the other end of the bridge, mind set.
“I’m hit!” screamed a pilot of Group One. As he careened through space, he made a last attempt at taking one of the enemy with. His fighter smashed into a Police ship, itself exploding in the force of the crash.
Two fighters returned from the number Five group, but four Police followed them.
“Who’s left?” called Araignea.
“It’s me, Sir, Drate. Flec is also with me.”
“Well, good try, Number Five.” Araignea dodged the steady spitfire of a Police fighter.” Let’s hope the men below are doing better than we are!”
“Sir? Number Three’s gone!” called out Clay, who was a member and second in command in that group.
“Take over, Clay! Take your men away! We’re getting too close!” As he said that, a Police ship jolted Araignea’s own ship, therefore proving his statement. “Way too close,” he mumbled to himself.
Clay moved his fleet away from the group, with blasting Police behind them. He pulled his ship up quickly, doing a full loop turn, so that he fell directly behind the Police ship that had been trailing him. The Pilot of the enemy ship was stunned at the disappearance of the smaller Fleea ship, but he found soon enough where it went, as his ship exploded into bits. He never even felt it.
“Makes it a little easier, don’t it, Sir?” called a captain.
“What’s that, Drate?”
“Not knowin’ or feelin’ your death?” He shot at a Police ship in between words.
Araignea smiled at his men’s courage. “Drate? Don’t look forward to it.”
“Can’t, Sir. Got five mouths to feed.”
The admiral laughed, but with guilt.
“Look out below!” called Number Two.
“What’s up, Reggs?” asked the admiral.
“This guy, but not for long!” Number Two dipped down, firing heavily at a ship, which exploded. “Sir? I think the extra rations in storage are about cooked now!” Reggs joked.
Araignea was amazed at his men. They held such great spirits. He hated the thought of the loss of any of them.
“They’re not in here,” Shanda said. “We’ve looked everywhere. They are not here.”
“He must have them, then,” said Orlacc.
“Let’s go downstairs. Jeremiah’s down there. Let’s go. Come on.”
Orlacc hesitated for a moment. She was not in a hurry for the plans. It was Handell she was in the rush for. Perhaps they should hurry. Handell had once endured a punishment close to death. This time the punishment would be death itself. He nodded to the girl, whose eyes betrayed her seemingly tough dislike for Captain Handell.
They raced out of the room. A guard and his troops spotted them on their quick journey.
Shanda whipped around, and as if she had a gun with a continuous beam of light emerging from the barrel, mowed the whole front line of the troop down, as well as the officer in front. The guards sprung to life, tearing after the two with guns flaring. Orlacc spun and lay down three more. There was four left. Shanda ducked as a white beam zilted above her head, and returned fire, knocking another down. Orlacc succeeded in killing one more, but the last two they couldn’t seem to shake. Orlacc pulled Shanda through a shield door and blasted the controls, which provided them with silence, as the doors banged shut in front of the two troop members.
“I wonder how we get down there?” the princess asked. They rounded a corner, and Orlacc pulled her back.
“What?” she whispered. Orlacc’s eyes reached into her. She knew before she looked. She leaned out an inch to see two men taking the cuffed Jeremiah Handell down the hall.
Jeremiah pushed the button to open the doors at the far end of the bridge. He turned his eyes back to the opening doors and a gun pointing at his face. In front of him stood two officers.
“Uh, sorry, men, I have something to do,” Jeremiah said, uneasily.
“We’ll help you,” said the one with the gun pointed at Jeremiah.
“Well, really, guys, I don’t need help, I--”
“No, really, Handell, let us help.” The commander his head to the other officer, who frisked Jeremiah for weapons. He seized the gun, brought Jeremiah’s hands down, and locked them behind his back.
“Hey, guys, I was just on my way to Alkis,” Jeremiah said as he was taken down the hall.
“Yes, with this,” the commander said, holding up the gun.
They marched down the halls, unknowingly being followed by Orlacc and Shanda. Just before the reached the hall which led to the chamber’s doors, an admiral stepped out.
“Rakin!” Jeremiah spat out. “You’re a little older than when I last saw you.”
“I’m a little higher in position as well, Handell,” returned the admiral. “I have taken over your position.”
“The high henchman, yes, I see,” retorted Jeremiah.
“Let’s just hope I don’t also inherit your attitude,” the admiral continued. “You wanted to see the senator, did you? Well, he’s been looking forward to seeing your pitiful being as well, Captain.”
“Pitiful? Well I wouldn’t quite... say...,” Jeremiah’s voice trailed off as Admiral Rakin opened the door Which led down the stairs. The two Police members pulled Jeremiah down the steps, and the commander opened the doors. The wary captain saw the uniformed shape of Alkis stand up and close the book he held in one hand.
“Hello, Captain Handell.” He grinned evilly. “How was your trip? A Myglord ship. I’m impressed.” He turned away, returning the book to its place. “Why did you return?” he asked, still turned away.
“I didn’t like your idea of taking over the universe,” Jeremiah said, still putting up a brave front. He beheld the severe vision of the senator. His piercing grey eyes were the most austere feature, as well as his tightly drawn mouth which opened to say:
“Well, you will never have to worry about it again, Handell.”
The sight of his foe captor caused the captain’s wrath to explode. He began to race forward, although his hands were still tightly bound behind his back. He lunged for the senator, but the blast from the admiral’s gun stopped him, sending Jeremiah sprawling to the floor.
“Admiral,” muttered Alkis. “I did not want him dead yet. I had some plans for him before he was ever to be killed.”
“Not to worry, Sir. My gun was set on poison stun. It will not kill him... right away..., but it will slow him down a bit when he wakes up,” Admiral Rakin said.
“Good.” The senator smiled. “Take him to the cells.”
“Yes, Sir.” The two officers picked up Jeremiah’s limp body off the floor and dragged him out of the chamber.
“Another one of my men is gone, Admiral Beyna,” called Captain Harly.
“How many are left of your group, Number Four?”
“What about you, Number One?” Admiral Araignea chased a ship.
“There are four, Sir... negative... three, Sir. E.G.’s just been shot down,” Captain Small announced.
“What about you, Number Two?”
“Well,” replied Reggs, “if I’m not mistaken, there’s two.”
“I have three!” called Clay, while twisting his ship to get another Police fighter.
“Thanks, Number Three. Number Five?” Araignea blasted a ship in front of him.
“Well, Sir, it’s just me and Flec,” Drate replied.
“Keep `er goin’. We still are flying fifteen ships. We can get them. No problem.”
“If they don’t get us first. How many men do you think are left down there for the others,” Drate asked, just missing a hit on one of the Police crafts.
“Too many, Drate.” Araignea chased a ship across the black sky, and before he could knock it down, he felt a jolt from behind.
“You okay?” called Drate.
“Yes, just barely,” replied the admiral.
“I got him. Keep on that one,” Number Five called, moving swiftly behind the ship the ship that had fired at Araignea.
“Admiral, Number one here. We’ve lost Milson.”
“Thank you, Captain... Clay?”
“Here, Sir,” Number Three answered.
“Can you spot from above how many ships that are left?”
Number Three flew up above the fleet, hovering over them. “Well, I’d say at least twenty or so, plus the one on my tail.” He flipped around quickly and fired. The explosion of the enemy ship followed his fleeing ship as he returned to the group.
“Let’s get to work, then,” Araignea said to all his men.
“Hold it, Miss,” Orlacc whispered to Shanda as she raced to the door of the chamber. He pulled on her arm and took her around the corner.
They had just made it when the door burst open and the two uniformed men dragged Captain Handell out. The princess started with a jump, but Orlacc held her arm tensely. Her eyes followed the figures as they marched down the halls. Then her whole body seemed to go limp.
“Oh... oh... no,” she began. Orlacc’s heart went out to her. She had tears streaming down her fair face. Orlacc put his arm around her, and he began to walk quickly in the direction of the two officers.
“I’m sure he’ll be okay, Shanda,” Orlacc said, but he wasn’t so sure. They followed quietly, keeping the men in sight. As they unlocked a steel door, and disappeared inside, Orlacc’s hopes returned. They emerged without the captain, and locked the door once more. “He’s not dead,” Orlacc said to the Princess.
“How do you know?” Shanda looked up with tear-streaked face.
“Why would they put him in a cell, if he were dead?” Orlacc replied.
Shanda regarded the locked door. “How will we get in?” she demanded. She thought for a moment. the main power unit! “Can you stay here? I’ll be right back!” she said, sliding away in silence, racing back to the main power room. She remembered seeing wires which would be perfect for shaping into a key to free the captain.
Orlacc slunk back into the shadows. That girl certainly had guts. She raced around with these crazy ideas for her love for Jeremiah, which she wouldn’t admit. The only problem was, those ideas caused her to act before she thought.
Orlacc knew the power of love, though. He’d seen his own share.
When the Police had first begun, Peter Orlacc had left his home to join with the Myglords. He had been twenty-two. He didn’t like the fact that his planet had been taken over and that the Police were moving on to Earth, to take it over, too. The Myglords became a counter party, trained to fight the Police. Each male member had been assigned a ship, as well as a female partner. Orlacc’s partner was a dark beauty, with gorgeous chestnut hair and a smile that made everything alright. Her rich brown eyes shone with pride in her choice to work for what she knew was right, and she always worked with her partner without any questions or qualms. Soon they realised they were in love and Orlacc had asked her if, after all this was over, would she marry him? She excitedly agreed to his proposal and told her family that she had found her man.
It never happened. While on duty, Orlacc’s only love had been killed by the Police. Orlacc swore that he would never rest until he saw the destruction of the Police.
As he now hung back in the shadows, Orlacc thought of his vow. Either he would fulfill it, or he would join his lost one once more.
Shanda had reached the main power room, and crept in. Three men were working on the wires to restore the power. Before they knew it, they were dead. They had had their backs turned, and Shanda had struck them all quickly.
She found what she had been looking for. She ripped out the Q-wires and forced them into the form of a makeshift key, then turned back. When she came close to the outside of Jeremiah’s door, she heard a commotion. She stopped and pressed herself closer to the wall, easing herself to the corner to hear.
“You’re with HIM, aren’t you!” shouted an officer.
“No, Sir. I simply am lost,” Orlacc said in a feeble voice. A ploy was what it was.
“You were going to free him,” another officer said.
“Who, Sir, might you be talking about?”
“Don’t act ignorant. We know you’re with him. Are there any more with you?” the first officer asked.
“No, Sir, I’m all alone. Please. I’ll leave. I was just lost,” Orlacc whimpered. If it had not been such a severe scene, Shanda might have laughed.
“How did you pass by all the guards? They’re all dead. Come on old man, we’re going to see Senator Alkis.” They dragged him off to the chamber below, where Alkis still waited in safety.
Shanda watched silently. She was alone now. She had to save them all. She got closer to the door and forced the makeshift key into the lock, all the while glancing over her shoulder. It didn’t work the first time, so she took it out and reworked it, then tried again. Because the power had been knocked out, the alarm did not ring. The door opened jerkily and there was an old set of stairs, made of stone, like the rest of the building. Shanda tiptoed down, her eyes slowly adjusting to the darker setting. She had broken the wire off so that half of it remained in the lock, enabling them to get back out. She kept her gun cocked, in case guards stood waiting for someone like her.
She kept looking once she reached the bottom. `Funny,′ she thought. There were no guards. Perhaps they thought they had caught the one man who would try to kill them.
In a small alcove at the back of the dark, damp place, was a body. Shanda moved quickly over to it. She knelt down beside him and held onto his hand. Jeremiah stirred and Shanda leaned over him. He began to shake from head to toe.
“Jeremiah?” the princess said softly.
Jeremiah was drifting in a hazy black cloud, unaware of himself or his surroundings. No sounds broke the silence. He was simply lost in an empty void. Slowly and gradually he began to sense vibrations and then to hear muted sounds which seemed to come from a long way off.
“Jerrrma...” It sounded familiar. “Jeremiah.” Shanda! Out there, somewhere. His mind groped for an end to the dark tunnel which surrounded him. He felt himself breathing again. His fingers and toes began to tingle, and he felt a warmth surging through his body. He could smell the dampness of the room. He began to move, his body feeling like lead. He groaned and forced his eyelids open. He was terrified when he still saw blackness.
“Yes, Jeremiah. I’m here.” Shanda helped him to sit up.
“Have... you been caught too?” Jeremiah asked, blinking.
“No, I’m here to save you.” She wrapped her arms around him. “Orlacc’s been taken to Alkis. Can you stand?”
“Just give me a moment. I... I don’t know. I feel so weak.” He looked around. “Where are we?” He rubbed his eyes with a shaking hand.
“We’re in the prisoners’ chambers. Where did--”
“It’s so black in here,” Jeremiah squinted.
“Just give it a minute. Where were you shot?” Shanda said peering in the almost pitch blackness for blood.
“I don’t remember. I can’t feel any pain. I just feel weak all over and....” Jeremiah’s voice disappeared. He was alive. If the Police had decided to shoot him, and at the range they had on him, he would not have lived. They had used a special setting, and, if he felt this weak, and he saw what he saw at this moment, then he knew what they had used to put him out of action. He remembered the Police weapons that the higher officers carried. Their special settings included one that Jeremiah knew had hit him, to keep him for Alkis’s special plan.
“They used a poison stun setting,” Jeremiah told the princess. Temporary unconsciousness causing permanent... blindness.”
“What?” Shanda asked. “Blindness?”
Jeremiah remembered Shanda’s isolated life. He was absolutely sure that she knew nothing of blindness or anything like that. “Yeah, I can’t see.”
“Well, it’s dark in here.”
“No,” Jeremiah said, and softened his voice. “No, Shanda. My sight is gone.”
Shanda was scared. “I don’t understand. Nothing?”
Handell shook his head.
“Come on, then, let’s get you to the ship. We can worry about this damned fight later. We’ve lost too much.” She gently helped him to his feet, and she put his arm around her.
“No, Shanda. We have to finish now. We’ve come too far.” Jeremiah said, finding his legs barely able to hold his weight.
The door above clicked. Jeremiah turned his ear to it. “Can you hide in here?” he asked her in a whisper.
“Maybe,” she whispered back. She let him go, hoping he was strong enough to stand by himself. He reached out to touch the stone wall with his fingertips and moved towards it, leaning against it for support. The door opened, casting a faint light down the stairs.
Admiral Rakin marched smoothly down those stairs. “So, Handell, I see you’re up and around.” He snickered at his enemy’s plight.
“Yeah, if you hadn’t locked me up in this dungeon, I might be able to do the around part,” Jeremiah said, adding softly for himself to hear, “Albeit, with some difficulty.”
“Mmmm,” said the admiral, patronising Jeremiah. “Well, you can do that now. The senator found one of your friends.”
“I don’t have any friends, Admiral. They all betrayed me.” Jeremiah tried to sound menacing, but his voice still shook, so it came out to more of a gulp.
Rakin moved behind Jeremiah and locked the cuffs on his arms once more, and began to shove Jeremiah ahead of him. Jeremiah stumbled at the stairs, almost falling down. Shanda, in the dark recesses of the dungeon, almost cried out, “Stop! Let his hands go free! He can’t see!” but she kept silent. If they were all caught, it would be over. Unfortunately, when Rakin closed the door, she heard the lock. They had discovered the wire. She was caught. She ran to the top of the stairs but the door wouldn’t budge. She returned to the floor, and sat down, thinking. perhaps they would return him to the cell. Now was the time for her to let it go, and she wept openly.
Jeremiah was pushed down the hallway clumsily. “How far is this room, anyway? I’m kinda weak.” As if to prove the point, he stumbled.
“It’s not too much further, Handell. You’ll make it,” Rakin sneered. They marched a bit further and then Admiral Rakin opened the first door to the stairs of the chamber where Senator Alkis stood waiting. Rakin gave Jeremiah a push and then followed, closing the door. “Come on!” he commanded, thrusting Jeremiah further down the stairs. He couldn’t take the time to feel the stairs with his foot and bumped into the second door. Rakin opened the door and shoved Jeremiah through. Jeremiah stood in the musty air, wondering where the senator was.
“Hello, Handell. So nice to see you again,” came his voice, off to the left.
“Sorry I can’t say the same,” Jeremiah said, turning his face toward Alkis. “Why did you invite me back so soon.”
“Charming to the end,” the senator said. “I have a friend of yours here. Seems he tried to unlock your door with a Q-wire.”
“Hey, like I told your errand boy here, I don’t have any friends.”
“An acquaintance then... Mr. Orlacc?”
“Sorry, Captain Handell,” came Orlacc’s gruff voice.
At first, Jeremiah thought Orlacc had turned him in, but realised Peter Orlacc would never enter the Police. “Yeah, well.” Jeremiah had no retort.
“What? Nothing to say?” Alkis asked, moving over to his desk. “A first.”
“Well, you know, I don’t know him like I know you.” Handell said.
“How would you like to die, Captain?” Senator Alkis asked, trying to decide between interesting ways of death.
“No, thanks, Senator, I wouldn’t like to.”
The senator laughed. “What I missed most about you, Handell, was your sense of humour. I think I’ve decided on a way to kill you.... That is... if you won’t help me with my plan.”
“I know about your plan, Alkis.... I won’t be a part of it.”
“Well, then. While you are waiting, and thinking about my proposal, I’ll put you together in your little cell so you can chit chat. I just wanted to tell you that it’s ruined, your whole plan. Take them back to the cell.”
“Not again. I don’t think I can make that long walk again,” said Jeremiah. It wasn’t just an act. Jeremiah still was trembling from the after-effects of the poison. His knees felt weak and his stomach kept doing flip-flops. This blackness surrounding him made him feel the worst and most helpless of all. Nevertheless, he was forced back up the stairs and down the hall beside Orlacc, who watched him carefully. He hadn’t realised what had happened to his friend as of yet, and took Jeremiah’s stumblings to be the doings of a gun injury. As they got closer, Orlacc noticed the lock on the door to the cell to be a standard lock of large size. It wasn’t even a padlock. For such an organisation, the Police had lousy security. Jeremiah began to falter once more from pure fatigue. He fell to his knees. Admiral Rakin bent down to get him and Orlacc saw what he needed. A long, narrow piece of metal on the wall, which was nearly broken off from a blast by gunfire. Rakin was pulling Jeremiah up and Orlacc saw his chance. Knowing he and the injured captain could not take on the admiral and his gun handcuffed the way they were, he slid his hands over, ripped it off, and slid it up one sleeve. Now they’d have a means of escape. Rakin had Jeremiah back up, and he unlocked the door. Before he sent them to the cell, he called into a communicator.
“This is Admiral Rakin, demanding two guards for cell block 85647. Immediately. Response.”
“Aye, Admiral, Kirts and McAndrews on our way.”
“Thank you.” He closed the communicator and pulled open the heavy door. He shoved the blind captain through first and followed, dragging Orlacc behind him. Rakin turned and and shut the door on his way out, smiling, leaving the two prisoners with their last thoughts.
“Jeremiah?” Shanda called.
“Princess?” Jeremiah peered into the darkness.
“Did they catch you?” Orlacc asked her, helping Jeremiah down the steps, where he collapsed.
Shanda knelt beside him. “No. No, they didn’t. What are they going to do?” she asked Orlacc.
“We don’t know, but it sounds as if it could be interesting. Is he okay?” He nodded his head to the exhausted pilot.
“He can’t see,” Shanda said, “and he’s very, very weak.”
“He can’t see? I was wondering.... How did it happen?”
“He told me it was some kind of poison stun gun. It had a poison in it which caused temporary unconsciousness and weakness and... that.” she said, pointing to him.
Jeremiah groaned. “They could have just delivered me that message,” he said, now conscious. “I wasn’t ready for all that.” Shanda laid his head in her lap, and stroked his now damp hair. “What do we do... now that we’re all locked up in here.”
“No we’re not,” Orlacc said softly.
“Is there someone I don’t know about?” Jeremiah mumbled. “If there is, I’d really like to know about it.” He tried to control his shaking.
“No. There’s no one else. Shanda? Do you still have that wire?”
“Yes. A part of it,” Shanda said, wondering what Orlacc was up to.
“Good. Could you get us out of these cuffs?”
“I’ll try,” Shanda said. She began to work on the key.
“Well, men, I’d say that the fleets are almost equal!” Araignea called to his captains. “It’s looking up again. Maybe we will have a chance.” He felt quite happy, in spite of the enemy ships zooming around in front of them.
“Admiral, it appears that there are less Police ships than of Fleea ships,” Number Three called from above.
“Great!” Admiral Araignea called as he heard the cheers from the pilots. “Don’t give up! Keep shooting!”
Flec streaked in front of the ship, on tear after a Police unit.
Perhaps we will get out of this after all, Araignea thought.
The Police ships were being destructed one by one. They were small and quick at manoeuvring, but were not fast enough for the Freedom Fighters, whose ships were diverse in shape and size, but whose pilots were excellently trained. They moved their ships expertly.