Aphelion Beyond Boundary

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Chapter 8

“There,” Shanda said, turning the broken wire she had bent to fit the cuffs. Orlacc brought his hands back in front of him, moving his elbows and shoulders to restore circulation and movement. Shanda gently took off Jeremiah’s cuffs. He rubbed his wrists.

“So, what’s your plan?” Jeremiah squinted at Orlacc, trying to see through the blackness.

“I’ve got this...,” Orlacc said, holding up the metal blade. “Hopefully, I can file through the lock.” He prayed to himself.

Jeremiah touched the metal strip. “Smart move,” he said. “Then what? What about the guards outside? I think they’ll hear us hacking away on their lock. What if it files the lock so oddly that we can’t get out, or anyone else can get in?” Jeremiah felt really dependent, and it was a feeling that he really did not like at all. He liked to be in charge of the plan.

“Well... all we can do is pray,” Orlacc said. “We have to get our weapons.”

“How?” Shanda asked.

“Well,” said Jeremiah, “there are plenty of dead soldiers lying around.... I’m quite sure Alkis hasn’t had time to clean them up yet. I’m also sure that some of them have a weapon or two. Plus, there’s a weapon room, although I haven’t the foggiest how we’d find it. Only I know where it is, and... well.... Besides, there’d be too many soldiers. They’re always in that end of the building. He leaned toward Shanda. “Wait! Shanda... don’t you have your gun?”

“That’s right!” she said, feeling the cold shape of her gun in the holster. “How did we forget?”

“Give Orlacc the gun. Orlacc? Do you think you could get out there to get us a few more weapons?”

“Yes, Mr. Handell,” Orlacc said. He knew he would have to be the one to get them out of this mess. He stood up slowly. His old bones weren’t what they used to be. “I’ll come back once I have them. Then what?”

Jeremiah felt more secure. He was making the plans once more. “Then we blast all the way to the chamber. We kill Alkis, and get the plans.”

“But Jeremiah, your eyes!” Shanda protested.

“Can you see?” Jeremiah asked her.

“Yes,” she replied quietly.

“Can he?” Jeremiah waved his hand toward Orlacc.

“Yes.”

“Then we don’t need my eyes. We’re doing alright.” Jeremiah said, adding, “I hope it’s enough. We either get killed trying to save ourselves, and the people, or we sit and die by another’s hand.”

“Are you strong enough?” she asked him.

“Does this look strong?” Jeremiah held up his hand. It still shook slightly.

“Well... uh,” Shanda stammered.

“Okay, okay, so I’ll need an itsy- bitsy wee bit of help.” He reached out and feltaround for her hand. Clutching it, he said, “Are you for it?”

The princess nodded, and then looked at his face, feeling stronger just to have him by her. “Yes, Jeremiah. Let’s go.”

Jeremiah turned to Orlacc. “I’ve got a plan on getting out. We call through to the guards that we agree to help Alkis. Now, their orders in that situation would be to call through to Alkis, and get his approval, and then take us back to him. When they open the door, Orlacc, you’ll have the gun. We’ll be out. Can we do that?”

Shanda turned her eyes back to him. He sat on the floor beside her, holding her hand. He looked so helpless that he couldn’t resist anymore. She put her arms around him and said in his ear, “I love you, Jeremiah.”

Jeremiah sat perfectly still in surprise. She loved him after all. After all the things she had said to him, the way she had treated him. He embraced her and they kissed. It was worth it all to him now. He felt they could do it now that he knew what he knew.

“I’m sorry for everything I said, I--” Shanda started, but Jeremiah interrupted her with his hand at her mouth.

“No..., no, I understand.” Jeremiah no longer cared of anything she had said. It didn’t matter any more.

Shanda looked at her love. His shaking had calmed down quite a bit, but any strenuous work might start it up again. The poison still ran through her body. He wasn’t complaining though. That’s one more thing she liked about him, he never complained about anything. Not when the Police shot down his ship, not when he slept on the hard floor in the crummy old motel on Mochase, not at her insensitive remarks, and not now, while a poison raced through his body and his useless eyes gave him darkness.

“Do you think you can handle this action?” she asked him tenderly.

“Yeah. Just let me lean on you a bit.”

Orlacc watched this conversation with a pain in his heart. He wanted his love to be with him now. He felt quite alone, but he was happy that the princess had finally told Handell how she felt. If this was their end, then at least they knew about their feelings for each other.

Orlacc moved up the stairs with Shanda’s gun and the metal blade, in case. He banged on the door and called, “We have agreed to the senator’s plan. Mr. Handell, though, is getting very weak, and if the senator wants him alive and competent, well, he better listen to our idea!”

There was a long pause, and then the door clicked. “Where is the captain?”

“He’s on the floor. I don’t think he’ll be able to walk back there!”

“Go down to the floor! Stay down by Mr. Handell! We will be opening the door!”

Orlacc went down the stairs and Shanda helped Jeremiah to the corner by the stairs to keep safe from the gunfire that was sure to follow.

As the door groaned inward, and Orlacc could see the figures of the two men emerge around the edge of it, making sure Orlacc and Handell were where they were supposed to be, Orlacc fired. He hit the first officer directly, and the second sprung back, out of range, emerging only to shoot. He was trying to reach help on his communicator and got hold of some, when Orlacc finally finished him off, catching him when he was trying to tell the coordinates and shoot at the same time.

Orlacc went out the door and began pulling the bodies down the steps as quickly as he could, and then got the weapons each had used only minutes earlier.

Jeremiah turned his head to the door, whispering to Shanda, “Who is it? Who made it?” He hoped it wasn’t one of the soldiers who would get Rakin to come get him and put him to his death, now that everything was going so well.

“It’s Orlacc,” Shanda said. Jeremiah tried to get to his feet. Shanda helped him up andthey moved over to where Orlacc stood.

“Two guards. No one else. I guess Alkis hasn’t been figuring on an overthrow.”

“Well, he just got his playhouse set up here, really,” said Jeremiah.

“Anyway, I got these.” Orlacc held out two guns and a larger Police gun. “I guess that’ll do, huh?” He held out Shanda’s gun as well.

“Quite,” Shanda said. “Thanks, Mr. Orlacc. You’ve saved us.” She took her own gun back as well as another. “You can use those.” She left the Police gun and the regular one in Orlacc’s hand. Then she held out the second gun in her hand, reached over and took Jeremiah’s hand, placing it over her own. Jeremiah’s face lit up when he felt the gun beneath his palm. Now they were talking! It was just like his own that the officer had taken. He knew exactly how to run this one, and it was like a dear old friend. He was back in business.

Orlacc began up the stairs. “We’ve got to get moving. It won’t take them that long to figure out where the distress call came from.”

“Okay,” Shanda said. She put Jeremiah’s arm around her shoulders and put her arm around his waist. She’d never held him so close before.

They began up the stairs, Orlacc ahead. He opened the door very carefully, very slowly. There was a troop of men heading away from them, backs turned. They must have come in from another sector, and were unaware of the call. He motioned for Shanda to come.

***

“Do you know what, men?” Admiral Araignea called.

“What, Sir?” asked Drate.

“Yeah, Admiral?” Reggs demanded.

“There’s three left!”

“Not for long!” called Drate. He raced his ship off behind a Police ship as fast as he could.

“Well, don’t get too overconfident,” Araignea said. He felt pretty confident himself. The Police ships were doing all they could to destroy three times the amount of ships they had. They shot white lights into the deep, inky sky, trying to hit anything they could. Drate finished one, Calsa hit number two of the enemy, and Duncan chased a weary third, who seemed to just surrender. He knew the fight was over.

“Captains?” Araignea said proudly. “We have done it.” There was a burst of cheers. “That is, if they couldn’t radio back to base and tell them that they needed more troops.” He paused. “Oh, well, if they did, we’ll defeat them on our way. Now let us get down there and help the old Myglord and his princess.” He smiled as he heard the willing words of his fighters. They were ready and excited, not because of the chance to meet a Myglord fighter, but to introduce their uniformed selves to the princess.

The Fleea ships swooped down to the Police base and the eager men jumped out cautiously.

“Two to each group,” Araignea ordered. “Drate and Flec, you take the first door, Harly and Calsa, take the entrance close to where we landed. Clay, Brent, enter here. Small and Duncan, run down to the open end further down. Reggs and I will head over to that side with the trees. Good luck, men.” Araignea said, and his pilots ran off in their designated directions.


Senator Alkis smiled at his own intuition. He had caught both the traitor, Handell, and a remaining Myglord.

“Sir? The ships above are no longer on our scope.” General Saris said over the radio link, the speaker of which sat on a desk pushed to the far end of the dingy room. Alkis moved over to it.

“What happened to them?” Perhaps they had shot themselves out. Alkis didn’t care particularly if his men were killed, he could always train more, but he hoped that if they had been, the Fleea ships were gone as well.

“There appear to be ships now on our landing pads. I’ll check the serial numbers.” So his men had returned after all. (He hoped. Drat, those computers! They couldn’t tell the size, shape, or make of anything if it sat right in front of them!) “Wait a minute, Sir!” returned the voice. “They’re not-- Aargggg!” Saris was cut off by an angry scream coming from his own throat.

“General! General?” Alkis tapped on the speaker. The speaker fizzled static, and silenced. That was his only link to outside his little shelter. Now he’d have to wait for some one to come and--

“You like flyin’ blind, Senator?”

Alkis whipped around. There stood Handell, Orlacc, and a rather attractive young girl who looked vaguely familiar.

“Yeah,” Jeremiah continued, “it’s kinda fun not knowin’ what’s goin’ on around you, isn’t it? Exciting!”

“So you’re the one in charge of ruining my planet,” Shanda said, with her gun pointed at him. Orlacc barred the door behind them.

“Your planet? Miss... you are mistaken.”

“I am Princess Ania Destanias from Xailier.” Shanda announced. “My father was Maylord Destanias of Xailier. He also despised what you created.”

“But now,” said Orlacc, “it’s over.”

“Where are the plans for the seizure of the Remdis System?” Shanda asked the Senator, who was still in shock that his prisoners had escaped, and his plans were falling through.

“I’ll never tell you.... Kill me if you so wish, but my men will find those plans and continue on with them.” He turned to the speaker. “General? General? Are you still there?” he called. He sat down in frustration.

Jeremiah laughed quietly. “Sorry, Alkis. Our men have taken over. You’re quite alone.”

“You’ll never get those plans,” the senator barked.

“Jeremiah?” Shanda said, not taking her eyes, or her gun, off the senator.

“Yeah?” Jeremiah asked. He was leaning against a table at the nearest wall.

“What do those plans look like?” Shanda demanded. “Orlacc can look for them.”

“It’s in the computer.” Jeremiah said. He thought back to the past to wonder ever seeing a computer in this room. It was of no use. “Is there a computer in here?”

Shanda looked around. Nothing like a computer furnished the room. “No,” she replied.

“When Alkis first came here, he said he had put computers in every room,” Jeremiah recalled. “Did you see any upstairs in the senator’s room?”

“Yes, we checked. There was one in a wall panel.” She moved toward Senator Alkis. “We checked it, as well as several other main computers. It was not there. Nothing was there.”

“How did you get my code?”

“We held one of your weaker men to the promise that if he gave us the info, we’d let him go. Poor bugger.” Orlacc said. “I couldn’t keep my promise. I’ve never been any good at that.”

“What? Weak fools! He deserved it! They are all like you, Handell, all weak. Serious consequences will come to you, Jeremiah, and all that you care about!”

The captain smiled, infuriating Alkis. “Yeah, well, you know how it is. After bein’ tortured and all... kinda changes a fella’s mind. Besides, Alkis, what are you going to do now? We’re here, with you in OUR power, and I have lost all I cared about before to you. So there is nothing you can do to hurt me.” He did not enter the thought into the senator’s head that he may actually care about these new accomplices.

“You--” The senator started to rise. Shanda motioned with her gun.

“Ah, ah, ah, Senator,” Jeremiah said calmly. “Don’t get so excited.” He turned back to Shanda. “Find something to tie him up with.”

“Orlacc, get his belt. Tie his hands behind his back,” she said. Orlacc moved toward Alkis, not taking his gun off him. The senator glared at him, grey eyes piercing. He seemed to give a certain... feeling... with his defiant stare. Orlacc felt it, and wished it wasn’t actually he himself who had to tie Alkis up.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah had stood up slowly and moved to the wall. He slid his right hand along the stone in front of his body, which was pressed against the wall, and knocked his left fist tentatively on it, ear pressed against the cool stone.

“What are you doing, Jeremiah?” Shanda asked him.

“Looking for the computer.” He continued along the wall. “It’ll sound hollow.”

Shanda watched him for a moment, then glanced at Orlacc, who was finishing up on Alkis. She heard a thump and turned back to Jeremiah. He had run into a chair and was trying to move it out of the way. Shanda ran over to her weakened love and helped him. He put his hand on her face, wishing he could see her. “Come on,” she said. She moved in front of him, examining the wall closely.

“You’ll never find it!” Alkis hissed.

Jeremiah’s fingers slid over a small crack. He tapped in uncertainty on the wall. The sound came back to his ear differently. His fingers followed the crack up, then down.

“Shanda?” he said. “I think--”

“You found it?” Shanda moved back to him.

“I think so....” Jeremiah kept knocking on the panel.

He was right.

“How do we get into this one?” Shanda asked. She wasn’t speaking to anyone in particular. “There are no buttons or anything. What do we do?”

“Shoot at it,” Jeremiah suggested. “Shoot downward at the bottom of the panel so you won’t damage anything inside.”

“But--”

“Shoot at a severe downward angle,” Jeremiah repeated.

Shanda looked at him. He raised his eyebrows at her and began moving backwards. She waited until he was well out of the way, and then did as he said. She blew a huge gash in the crumbling stone. Jeremiah came back to it and began pulling on the loose rock, until the whole panel came off. Inside, after all the smoke and dust had cleared, they could see a screen. Shanda went over to it, and began punching in the code that she had gotten from the officer upstairs. Nothing happened. The screen instructed that an error had been made.

“Jeremiah! It’s not working! The code that I received doesn’t work!”

Behind them, Senator Alkis laughed.

Jeremiah turned, rage rising in him. He felt his way over to the senator, and stood in front of him. He was beginning to feel weak again, but stood up straight to his ex-leader.

“Listen, you. Your whole gang is gone, Alkis. Sorry, Senator, the clubhouse is closed. Now unless you tell me how to get into that thing, I’m gonna--”

“Feed me to the crocodiles if you like, Captain. Shoot me right here. Do what you wish. I shall not tell you how to get into that computer.”

Jeremiah groped for the senator’s collar. He pulled Alkis towards him. “What would you--” He was interrupted by Orlacc.

“Let him alone, Jeremiah.” Orlacc’s voice was surprisingly gentle. Jeremiah felt Orlacc’s hand on his own, releasing his grip on Alkis. Orlacc put his arm around Jeremiah and took him to a chair.

Shanda was still puzzling over the computer. “What can I do?” she asked. “How do I get it?”

Jeremiah thought to himself, which was beginning to get difficult. How WERE they going to get the plans? He searched deeply in his mind for anything at all which might give him a clue. His thoughts were starting to flash uncontrollably, and his body was giving out. “I--I don’t know, Shanda.”

Senator Alkis felt glad. Glad that he was winning. It didn’t look like it now, after all, his men were being killed by the Fleea Freedom Fighters, but after all this was over, the Police would overcome.

But by whom? If that was true, and all the senator’s men were dead, who would overcome?

The senator looked at the three people who had been strong enough to fight the Police. He could lure Jeremiah back, if Handell didn’t die first from the poison. If he did, that princess could be taken in a vulnerable state. Orlacc was too old, perhaps, to change, but maybe power would change that. Power and money. If the senator could give them the plans, after the promise of not being killed, he could start a whole new legion of Police. A stronger and more powerful league of participants. Ones that would not be afraid. He would do better this time. It was a way for him to keep it alive. But who would he deal with? Jeremiah would be easy, in his weakened condition, and besides, Alkis knew Handell’s mind. Shanda would follow him, it was clear she felt strongly for him, and the old Myglord was too alone and aged to go against them. Yes, that’s what he would do. But could he trust them? The senator decided he couldn’t trust them, not until he could control them. And he would have better control this time.

Orlacc walked over to Shanda to help her. The senator saw this as his chance. He whispered Jeremiah’s name harshly. Jeremiah turned towards him. “What do you want?” he snarled.

“You want out of here? With the plans?”

Jeremiah tilted his head in puzzlement. “Yeah?” He wondered what Alkis was up to now.

“If you’ll promise not to kill me, I’ll get it. I’ll hold onto it until I’m sure your promise is kept.” The senator’s voice seemed mesmerising in its tone.

“What do you want?” Jeremiah asked. He held his head in his hands, as the dizziness was growing.

“I just would like to get what I want the most. You would like to get what it is you want the most,” the senator said. Little did they know that what they wanted could help him to get what he wanted. “You’ve killed all my men. I’d say it was fair.”

“You... killed my... family,” Jeremiah said, trying desperately to get the words out. There was a thundering noise in his head. For a minute he saw colours, splashing across the inkiness of his destroyed vision, but it returned to blackness once more. If he could just clear his mind for a minute, he might be able to think. Nothing made sense. “Shanda?” he called. Her voice appeared from above him, it seemed, as if she were in a ceiling corner.

“What? What is it?”

Jeremiah put his hand out, groping for her, while keeping his other hand grasping tightly to the chair. He felt her soft hand enclose on his. “Uh... Senator has a deal. We’re gonna get out of here.”

“What?” Shanda couldn’t believe Alkis had changed his mind. “What did he say?”

“He’ll give us the... plans if... we bring him along and don’t kill him.” Jeremiah mumbled.

“Why would we--”

“We want the plans, Shanda,” Jeremiah said.

“Keep him tied,” said Orlacc. “Alkis, give us the code.”

“No. I will get it, or you’ll never see the plans,” Senator Alkis demanded. “Untie me.”

“Do it,” Jeremiah commanded. Orlacc looked at him. Was he insane? It seemed as though he was under the senator’s spell. Maybe it was the poison. “We have to have it,” Jeremiah said. Orlacc, still suspicious, untied the austere senator.

“No sudden moves,” ordered Orlacc, making sure Alkis saw his gun. Alkis glanced around at the three captors. Setting his eyes on Jeremiah, he moved towards the gaping wall where the computer sat. He would get the plans and encase them in a lock shield as they came out. which was invisible to the naked eye, making them impossible to get into without the aid of a computer of the same make as this one. So, if Alkis were killed, the plans would be kept anyway. Glancing at Orlacc, he hit the copy button softly, sending an identical copy of the Police files to the waiting computers of the huge building. With his back to the others, he smiled to himself, and after putting the plastic file in a case and locking it with a combination lock, slipped it in his pocket.

“Let’s go,” Orlacc said. He pointed a gun at Alkis. “move.” Alkis did as he was told, for now, but soon he would be giving out the orders.

Shanda pulled Jeremiah up, and he leaned on her heavily. He was dizzy beyond belief, and barely could keep his eyelids open, not that it mattered. His breathing was irregular.

“Are you in pain?” Shanda asked him, worried.

“No, very weak and dizzy. I may not make it out of here.”

“Yes, you will,” Shanda told him firmly. “Come on.” She helped him forward and they followed Orlacc through the door he had just opened, and up the stairs. Orlacc and his prisoner walked on, moving further and further ahead of the princess and the ailing Jeremiah.

Jeremiah tried his best to help Shanda keep him up, but the poison was overpowering him. Flash! An instant burst of colour in Jeremiah’s mind caused him stop and wave his hands in front of his eyes.

“What?” asked Shanda.

Jeremiah realised it wasn’t his eyes after all, because the pictures came and went. “Nothing,” he said. The lovely face of Her Highness Ania Destanias of Xailier splashed across the blackness, the gaunt face of Senator Alkis, his own father and mother, then lightening. A red flower floated on a blue lake, then was crushed by a hand. crucifiction, and a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Blue swirls around a pink circle, children in chains, men in death, a torch being turned upside-down, Satan’s laugh. Fire embodying a cow, which rose up in anguish to scream out Jeremiah’s name. It turned into a man, yet not human. His eyes glared in red and he smiled. Blue silence encased a silver cloud and then exploded.

“Oh, Lord,” Jeremiah whispered.

“Jeremiah?” called a voice through the thunder. Shanda laid Jeremiah’s body to the cold floor.

Her voice echoed again and again through his mind. A cross covered in blood. A ram racing across crimson grounds. Constellations coming together and imploding. The solitary quietness of Aria, an ancient sword battle in the square. The fire.

“No! No! Oh, Shanda, make it stop!” Was she still there, or was he actually witnessing all of this? Where was Shanda? “Shanda?”

Her warm hands wrapped around his arms. He heard her from far away, echoing. “Jeremiah? What’s wrong?”

He tried to speak, but the voice had been taken by the birds flying above his head. He was in an elevator, falling, falling.

Then there was silence and blackness. “Shanda?” he called. He could not hear her voice. He couldn’t feel his breathing. What was happening? The coldness of the floor was gone.

Shanda was terrified. She held onto his arms tightly. He called her name over and over, but didn’t respond to her replies. His breathing was rapid now and his eyes were panicked.

“Damn you, Alkis!” she screamed into the air. She thought for a moment and then slapped Jeremiah’s face. His breathing halted for an instant, and then he reached his hand up and placed it on Shanda’s shoulder. “Jeremiah?” she whispered.

“Shanda,” he replied softly, choking on the word.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know,” Jeremiah gasped. “It was like a hallucination... the poison.”

“Oh, yes. I know. We have to get you out of here. Can you keep your mind clear?”

“I--I’ll try,” he said, as Shanda helped him up once more. He focused his mind on his ears, to hear what really was happening. He heard far off gunblasts. “What’s happening over there?” he asked.

“Nothing I can see,” said Shanda. “Let’s hope we’re winning.”

“Of course we’re winning,” Jeremiah assured her, and he hoped he could live to know it. He stepped clumsily alongside Shanda, forcing anything other than what was happening in the real world out of his mind as best he could.


Orlacc pushed the senator up the hatch into his large ship.

“Oh, to be on a Myglord ship,” Alkis muttered. “It’s punishment in itself.” He turned to Orlacc. “Perhaps you should check on your friends. They seem to have fallen behind.”

“No way, Alkis. Don’t you worry, they’ll be along.” Orlacc hoped he was right. “Sit there.” He pointed his gun to a nearby chair. Alkis slid towards it and sat down. He began to work out the plan in his mind.

Orlacc wondered at the senator’s agreeable nature. Why was he consenting to their wishes? He glanced quickly out the hatch. Where WERE the princess and Handell, anyway?

It wasn’t too long when they came slowly around the building and Shanda led Jeremiah to the ship. They climbed the hatch and Shanda sat Jeremiah down in a chair across from the senator.

“Is he...?” Orlacc murmured.

“He’ll be okay if you get us to a medical dock soon,” Shanda said, with more hope in her voice than in her mind.

“Keep your eye on him, then.” Orlacc pointed at Alkis, and went up to the cockpit to start the engine.

Shanda did just that, but the senator spoke:

“Mr. Handell... you would very much like to see these plans, no?” While Alkis was talking, he was working on the belt which was wrapped around his wrists.

“Why don’t you just give them to me?” Jeremiah asked.

“You want to give them back to the people, don’t you?”

“So? It won’t... it won’t matter to you.”

“Of course it would, Captain, You’re one of the better men I had.”

“So?”

“So, I’d like to think you still remembered the power you once had.” Senator Alkis had gotten the belt off his wrists by

now.

“Don’t listen to him, Jeremiah,” Shanda ordered.

“You felt your power. You enjoyed having others do as you wished.”

Jeremiah’s mind was spinning. Why was Alkis doing this to him now when Jeremiah couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong? He recalled his leadership over so many people. He could order so many. But his father....

“No, no, Alkis, don’t try to do this!” Jeremiah pleaded.

“How you wanted to get into the Police. You were very excited about your membership, as I recall.”

But his father....

His father had been so proud of him. His mother had been as well. They had thrown him a grand party. Everyone was excited. All his friends had been. It was good that he had been accepted. Perhaps it would be good once more.

The ship was lifting off.

“No, Jeremiah! Don’t! Don’t listen!” Shanda called.

The planet was beautiful, almost mystical.

“I can give it to you!” Alkis informed him.

The clouds were like wisps. He was floating.

“Jeremiah, tell him no!” Shanda pleaded.

The clouds surrounded him, and as they cleared...

“Money! Power! Jeremiah Handell!” Senator Alkis pounded on

the table between them.

he saw Orlacc and Shanda in death.

“No!” he cried.

“Handell!” The senator jumped up. Shanda lunged for him, but he turned and knocked her to the floor, snatching her gun. He pointed it at Jeremiah, but Shanda was back on her feet. She pushed him to the side, and, as she did so, he turned with the gun pointed at her. A blaze from the barrel brought incredible pain to her right arm. She cried out and fell back.

Jeremiah heard her scream and, feeling a surge of strength, was on the senator before he could turn. Jeremiah didn’t know whether Shanda was alive or dead, but he decided that if she were alive, he wanted her to stay that way. He clutched the senator’s wrists, pushing the gun away from himself. He pushed Alkis to a wall. The gun went off and a stream of fire put a gash in the table. Jeremiah was forced back to the near wall. He fought wildly, the adrenalin pumped through his body. He thrust Alkis back once more, only it was against the hatch. The force of their bodies caused the hatch to open. The senator fell, grabbing onto the floor. Jeremiah had landed half in and was trying to turn himself around when he felt a cool hand pull him up.

“Shanda?” he gasped.

“Handell!” Alkis screamed. Jeremiah had a feeling that he had not had since his father and mother had been killed and Aria was ruined. The feeling that he could never let another human being die under his judgment. He put his hand down into the sucking air of Earth’s field, groping for Alkis’s hand. He found it.

“Hang on, I’ll pull you up,” Jeremiah said, but his strength was gone. “Shanda. Help me.”

Shanda reached down with one arm, clutching her injured arm to her body, but beforeshe could help, the senator’s hand began to slip.

“Handell!” he cried, but he could hang on no longer. He realised it was over for him. The Police would return without him, and Handell might return with it. If he lived. Even if he couldn’t be turned, he couldn’t be wasted. He was too much an all powerful man, and he’d be a good test and foe for the Police. “LDX 128!” he said, then repeated it louder, and his hand let go.

Shanda watched him fall, his body ripping through the air until he was but a dot. She pulled Jeremiah out of danger of the open door with the help of Orlacc, who had come as quick as he could after locking in the coordinates and hitting safety locks from the danger of the releasing air out the door. He got a hatch pole and pulled the door shut with it. Shanda laid Jeremiah to the floor, both breathing heavily.

“Are you... are you alright?” he asked.

“I’ll be okay. He got my arm. What did... what did he say before he fell?” She collapsed beside him.

“LDX... 128 is the antidote for his poison. They all have different antidote ingredients.”

“He saved you?”

“Not yet.”

Orlacc sat beside them. “Look what I found.” He folded a plastic case into Jeremiah’s hand.

“The plans!” said Shanda hugged him awkwardly, keeping her arm protected.

“I guess we’d better get you two to the medical dock,” Orlacc said, hurrying up to put the ship into light speed.

Jeremiah and Shanda lay together in exhaustion, trying to catch their breaths.


The Pegasus laid down peacefully at last. He knew that they were safe. If they had not been, the Pegasus would have taken his own life,in the way his protection was intended. Once a Pegasus was care of a person, he had to stick with that person, in life and death.

He had followed Her Majesty’s progress in his mind, but he was unable to help her. He knew now that he had graduated from simple mindtracking to mind-fasting, and could communicate with her. He could do this now because he had stayed with her through her (and his own) harrowing times. If he stayed with her again through more hard times, he would graduate again to a higher level. That was the way of a Pegasus.

Mind-fasting was if the Pegasus’s mind was with them as well, in the princess’s own mind. They could then communicate.

The Pegasus now felt the pain of the princess, whose arm was bleeding from the blast of the gun. It was still unsure for her friend, but the Pegasus felt positive that they would all return. He hoped it, anyway.


Admiral Araignea gathered his men. Taken by surprise, Alkis’s men had not put up a good fight. The Fleea Fighters had made a clean sweep of all the building and it seemed they had overcome the whole Police group.

“Well, men, my radaar indicates no more Police,” Araignea said, “and the Myglord ship has left for Xailier. Are we going?”

“Yes!” Drate said. Araignea laughed.

“Come on, then. To your ships!”

The men stormed towards the door and soon each ship took off. Admiral Araignea flew over the stone building and dropped a large explosive. The huge, grey station’s rocks spilled down in a meteor shower in one end, and followed in the other end as Araignea dropped another.

“Sir?” Flec’s calm voice questioned over the speaker.

“Just in case,” Araignea replied, and the fleet moved away from the destroyed station.

On the other side, a single ship lifted up and flew in the opposite direction out of the Remdis System.


Jeremiah had found his jacket, and gently wrapped it around Shanda’s arm. “How’s that?” he asked.

“It’s good. Thank you. How about you?” Shanda said, speaking softly. She winced at the pain.

“I’m... I’m still visioning. It comes and goes. I’m feeling better now, but it’ll come back.”

“Well, just relax. Don’t let it overtake you.”

Jeremiah placed his hand on his cheek. “No.” He paused. “Did you really mean it when you said you loved me?”

Shanda thought for a moment. What would she say? Could she deny it? “Yes, Jeremiah. I love you.”

He smiled. A wave washed upon the shore, leaving a starfish laying on the sand. The sun shone on his face and he smiled at the starfish.

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