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Chapter 2: Involvement

Kaylee was worried about what they’d find on the planet. From her view, she could see the planet’s atmosphere, but nothing shown through the thick clouds that seemed to cover the whole planet. It reminded her of Jupiter in a way, but without any circular cloud patterns, it all just seemed to blend and mix.

The Auriga AI spoke through the speakers as they approached the planet, “Now approaching Planet Cryon-5PS. Protocol download complete. Standard procedure for this world is for the Auriga to dock at the sky station. Any crew wishing to go to the surface will be required to go through containment scans at checkpoints, in addition to temporary quarantine. There will be no weapons permitted in the primary business district, and any transactions completed without a transaction license are subject to penalty by Imperium Law.”

Darren looked at Zell, “What’s the penalty under Imperium Law?” he asked.

“Just assume it’s ‘Death’, like most of their punishments,” Zell replied, adding “They don’t bother housing most criminals, too costly. Such cost would take away from their ability to create new, more destructive ways to ‘govern’ everyone.”

The AI interrupted the conversation, “We’ve received clearance for docking platform Obyx. I have altered our course in compliance,” the AI said. The ship entered the planet’s atmosphere shortly afterward, the hull being bombarded by the atmospheric layers, the ship shook and rumbling could be heard as the turbulence increased. Lightning could be seen through the view-port, and this frightened Kaylee. This was a standard entry for the crew, and the ship was able to keep everything steady enough to allow the crew to walk around with minimal risk. Thirty seconds after initial entry, the view, which had been obscured by the flames on entry, cleared, revealing a large sky station in plain view. It was dark enough to be night on this planet, but it wasn’t, rather, the clouds were so thick that sunlight couldn’t reach the surface. The sky station was lit with bright lights, some of them flickering or pulsing to show function. The Auriga drew closer to the docking platform, spotlights not only illuminated the platform itself, but also the Auriga. The platform was massive, to Darren and Kaylee, it had to cover something like 4 square blocks, which meant that not only was Auriga a large vessel, but there were even larger ones that could dock here. The Auriga only took up half of the space, it’s docking struts, fully extended, finally touched down onto the platform. An umbilical tube extended outward from one of the nearby buildings, and attached itself to the Auriga at its main hatch. The Auriga’s engine drives powered down, and new lights lit up the hallways while others previously lit, were turned off. It was brighter in the corridors now, since the ship wasn’t consuming power for its core systems, save for life-support.

Arkaz let out a sigh of relief and turned to face the others in the room, “Zell, I trust you know what we need. Why don’t you take the new arrivals with you? Let them broaden their horizons. I’m sure they’d enjoy seeing a world far from their own,” he said.

Darren stood up, along with Kaylee, ready to follow Zell, who nodded in response to Arkaz’s request. “Listen, our weapons can’t go on this trip, so you both will need to follow my instructions to the letter. Stick close to me, don’t wander off too far, and don’t touch anything,” said Zell.

Kaylee had no idea what that was supposed to mean, and judging from Darren’s facial expressions, she surmised that he didn’t either, but they followed along either way, knowing that Zell was their only seemingly trustworthy companion. Kaylee looked at Darren for a moment, then back at Zell, “So, what do we do with our weapons, since they’re restricted here?” she asked.

Zell stopped at a panel near the airlock and opened it using a digital keypad and code, “Put them in here, that way we can get them when we come back aboard,” he said, placing his Flux Blaster into the compartment. Kaylee and Darren did as well, but left their holsters on, seeing no reason to remove them as well. Once their weapons were stored, Ma’Lyr appeared from around the corner of the corridor, joining them with what looked like some kind of scanner at her hip. It was small, no larger than someone’s hand, and it had colored buttons on one side that lit up, along with a holographic display. She placed it in a pouch that was attached to her belt, and nodded to Zell, who closed the compartment and began walking toward the airlock.

“Try to breathe naturally”, said Ma’Lyr to Kaylee and Darren, adding, “New atmospheres can be very overwhelming at first, but that’s why I’m here, to help you adjust.”

Kaylee started to get nervous at this point. They all stepped into the airlock, and the door closed behind them. The airlock started to cycle the pressure to balance it out before opening the external hatch. Finally, the cycle ended, and the hatch opened, revealing the umbilical leading to the quarantine bay on the sky station. The air was thick and stale, which took its toll on Darren and Kaylee as it was, it had no odor, but was unpleasant to breathe. Zell stepped out of the airlock first, and began walking normally, but when Kaylee and Darren stepped out, they toppled to the floor of the umbilical, unprepared for the planet’s heavier gravity. They struggled to stand again, their breathing labored, and their muscles under strain. Ma’Lyr and Zell helped them up, and stayed by their sides as they walked down the umbilical.

They both staggered once more, and Kaylee felt that something was wrong. “What’s happening…?” she asked. Everything seemed to be slowed down to a crawl, her vision began to blur as she could no longer focus, and she became confused. She felt as though her mind had become clouded, and her breathing became more labored than before. Her vision finally darkened until she could no longer see, her hearing faded, and she could no longer breathe. She could feel herself collapse onto the umbilical flooring, then something at her neck, something sharp, but not painful, she could barely feel anything as it was. Then almost as quickly as the episode had begun, so too did it eventually fade. She drew a heavy breath and began coughing, finally able to breathe again. Her hearing returned just as slowly, and so too did her sight. She looked over at Darren who had some kind of flexible needle in his neck. Upon closer inspection, Kaylee saw that it was an extension of the scanner device that Ma’Lyr had brought with her. Darren gasped for air soon after she removed the needle, which retracted into the device.

“Are you two alright?” Zell asked them both, never having seen such a reaction to differing atmospheres before.

“I...think so,” said Kaylee. Darren nodded as he coughed, and that was good enough for Ma’Lyr, who went on to explain what happened.

“You both suffered some sort of histamine response. It’s likely that it’s something in the atmosphere, but I should be able to counter it for a few uoers,” said Ma’Lyr.

Darren regained his composure and looked at Ma’Lyr, “You’re saying we’re allergic to something in the air?” he asked.

“It would seem so. It’s likely that it’s something that your species cannot process or filter. As I said, I can counter it for a few uoers, and you both should be fine,” she responded.

Kaylee was worried about another attack, but since they’d just been treated, she tried to put it out of her mind, “I hope so”, she said. They continued through the umbilical and into a chamber filled with blue light and mist. The door closed behind them and a voice came over the intercom.

“Remain here. You will be released from quarantine after 24.3 uoers,” said the voice. They all sat down, Darren and Kaylee sat on one side of the medium-sized room, Zell and Ma’Lyr on the other, who also seemed to take the time to relax.

Kaylee’s mind wandered as they sat there, a slight buzz in the background from the decontaminants hitting the lights could be heard, which only furthered her unfocused mind. She thought of the things she’d be doing if she were back on Earth; watching her favorite sci-fi show, drinking her favorite drink, or buying new futuristic clothing to wear. She didn’t have a lot going for her back on Earth, but at least it was home, and familiar, not like this strange new part of space she found herself in. ‘Will we make it home?’ she silently thought, ‘What if we never find our way back?’. The thought of never going home hit her harder than she expected it would, and a tear slowly rolled down her face.

Darren noticed the tear as he looked over at her, “Hey, are you okay?” he asked her.

She wiped the tear from her face quickly, trying to hide it, but it was too late, more slowly began to flow as she cried. “No,” she said to him, “What if we never get back home, Darren?”

“We will” he said, “if there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that,” he added.

“But how do you know?” she sobbed, “We’re out here in the middle of God knows where, and we don’t even know where Earth is.”

Darren sat closer to her and held her close to him, “Trust me, I know. I can’t explain why I do, I just… do,” he said.

“I promise you both, I will do what I can to find your homeworld. While we’re here, I’m going to spend every Crekik I have, if necessary, to get as many star charts as I can buy here. With any luck, we can find your world quickly,” said Zell, interrupting them.

“What’s a Crekik?” asked Kaylee.

“Our currency,” responded Zell.

Kaylee shook her head, “You don’t have to do that, that’s too much to ask of you.”

“Not at all, it’s the least I can do to help you both,” he replied. That was the final word on the matter, and Kaylee took it to heart, knowing that Zell meant every word. She collected herself and put the rest out of her mind, confident that, at the very least, she’d have support in this new life she and Darren had stumbled into.

“So, Darren,” said Kaylee, “How are you staying so calm about all of this?”

“I wouldn’t say I’m calm. Silent, maybe, but definitely not calm. I mean, we’re stuck somewhere away from home, without a clue as to what we’re doing, or whether we’ll make it back again,” said Darren.

“How do you suppress it all?” asked Kaylee.

“Well, ‘A fully balanced mind equates to fully balanced emotion’,” quoted Darren.

Space Journey 2000, Lt. Locke’s life motto,” said Kaylee, “So you prefer balanced thoughts and emotions, above all?”

“In certain situations, yes,” said Darren, “But it’s worth mentioning that emotion isn’t always meant to be balanced. One must find that balance as well, not just in the duality, but also in when to embrace that duality, versus when not to.” Kaylee smiled and relaxed at that moment, feeling as though Darren could be the person she could lean on, emotionally.

Time passed on as the decontaminants continued to work. It was now twelve hours into the quarantine, and Ma’Lyr was starting to run out of bio-polymer for Darren and Kaylee’s treatments. There was genuine concern starting to arise from the situation, but Ma’Lyr reassured the two that once the decontamination was finished, she could purchase more bio-polymer to help them, should they need even more treatments. For the last half of the quarantine, the room’s lights changed to red, which also allowed the group to sleep for a time, until Darren and Kaylee awoke from being unable to breathe again. Kaylee woke Ma’Lyr as her vision began to darken again. Darren fell to the floor and watched Kaylee as Ma’Lyr attempted to give her an injection.

“It’s empty!” exclaimed Ma’Lyr, who was clearly frustrated by this point at the lengthy quarantine. “Both of you, stay with me!” she said to them. Kaylee gasped for air one last time, she was sure this would be the last breath she would ever take. Just then, as all hope seemed lost, she was able to gasp for a deep breath of air again, as was Darren, who did the same. They coughed as they struggled to breathe again, but what was it that had saved them this time? Ma’Lyr scanned them both with her device, “Incredible! It looks like your lungs have somehow adapted to this planet’s atmosphere! I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said.

“We’ll just… count our blessings,” Kaylee gasped, holding her chest near her throat.

“Blessings?” asked Ma’Lyr.

“Human expression. Blessings are basically gifts from our deity,” Darren replied as the two of them began to breathe normally again.

Ma’Lyr nodded, “I see. You might count this circumstance as one such instance then, as I cannot explain why your lungs have suddenly adapted to this atmosphere,” she said.

The quarantine ended soon after the incident and each of them exited through the door leading to a nearby lift, which took them down to the planet’s surface. The doors to the lift opened, revealing a long path in front of them leading up to a section of the nearby city. On each side of the path, there were merchants with stalls of their own, trying to sell the bits and bobs that they each had in their possession. The group walked down this path, which was only partially lit, but well enough to see easily. The atmosphere was as dark as ever, making it appear as though it were night, just as it did before they docked. The path was like a street, with its own vents at points which produced steam.

Kaylee looked around eagerly, taking in the sights. One of the merchants came up to her, trying to sell her something, the man was even pushy with the proposal, “Get your low-priced Torkyn Resin here! Offer only for a limited time, you won’t get the same quality anywhere! How about you, young lady? I haven’t seen your species before, where are you from?” he asked.

“Um, Earth,” Kaylee said, taken aback by the man.

“Earth, huh? Never heard of it, must be out past the Gamma Kloridian Sector, that’s as far as I’ve been from here,” he said, “Would you like to buy some Torkyn Resin?”

“No, thank you, I would have very little use for it, I’m afraid,” said Kaylee with a small laugh as she tried to rejoin the group.

The man blocked her way and made another attempt, “You sure? You can use this stuff for everything! Why, this resin is used in every major space vessel this side of the sector! If you don’t use it, it’s still a fair way to trade, plenty of people would pay top-crekik for this kind of quality,” he said.

Zell stepped in and guided Kaylee free, “She’s not interested,” he said to the pushy salesman. He whispered in Kaylee’s ear, “Try not to get too engulfed in their stories, most of them are complete fiction.”

Some men along the path whistled at Kaylee, no doubt from the outfit she was wearing, which brought unnecessary attention here with it’s semi-revealing points. It was a little risque even on Earth, but she chose it more for its statement than anything as she felt like her choice of outfits were limited by society’s odd double-standards. She ignored them and continued along the path with the others.

“Perhaps we should buy some alternative clothing for her,” said Ma’Lyr, addressing Zell.

Zell nodded, “That was indeed on the agenda, perhaps sooner rather than later, we don’t wish to attract undue attention, this is an Imperial planet,” he said, leading them all into a shop lit by what seemed to be neon lights and holographs that danced around the room. The room was dark, but that fact didn’t hinder their ability to see everything in the room. “Here you are, Kaylee, pick some things out that you like. You too, Darren, if you would like some new clothes,” said Zell.

Darren and Kaylee both walked around the shop, looking at various outfits that were on display. Kaylee found something instantly that she liked and picked it up, pressing it to her slender figure and turning to Darren, “What do you think, Darren?” she smiled.

Darren turned to her and nodded with a smile in turn, “Yeah, it’s definitely you,” he said to her as he picked out something for himself. The shopkeeper stepped up to both of them, but before he could speak, there was the sound of an explosion outside in the distance, and numerous blaster shots proceeded after that.

Zell and Ma’Lyr stepped further into the shop and the shopkeeper hurried to close the door leading outside, “So sorry about that, but I’m afraid that’s a hazard here. Can I help any of you find anything?” he asked them. He had a third eye which was a different color than the other two, each eye was a solid color, not like humans, he had two green, and one blue. His hands were webbed and consisted of six fingers each, including a thumb.

“Do you have anything form-fitting?” asked Kaylee, who had a few outfits under her arm by this point.

“Why yes, my dear,” The shopkeeper said, lifting his hand to point to a tech-rack. “Would you like cloth, or will you be looking into nano-clothing?” he asked her.

“Normal cloth will be fine for now, we’re pressed for money at the moment and I can’t imagine nano-clothing would be very cheap,” she said.

Zell laughed a bit, “Actually, nano-clothing is very popular, if you want a nano generator, I’d recommend getting one. We can afford it,” he said.

Kaylee smiled and looked back at the shopkeeper, “Let’s see it” she said to him.

“In fact” Zell added, “add five of them to my account.”

The shopkeeper bowed, “Of course, those each come with a one-year warranty, guaranteed to store five-thousand separate outfits, each of them customizable down to their color,” he said.

Kaylee was surprised by this fact, she’d never have to buy clothes again with that many options, “Could it be programmed to create what I’m wearing right now?” she asked the shopkeeper.

“Why, yes! Would you like me to scan the outfit now? I can add it to the device you wish to use while you’re still here,” he replied.

“Definitely!” exclaimed Kaylee as she placed the clothes she wanted on the nearby counter. The shopkeeper picked up a device and aimed it at her.

“Hold still now,” he said as he activated it. The device emitted a scanner light that was similar to Ma’Lyr’s medical scanner. It only took a few seconds before it turned off, and the shopkeeper stepped behind her, scanning the back of the outfit as well. After he was finished, he went to one of the devices and input a code that was displayed on the device that had scanned her outfit, “There we go. Now your current outfit is included in the device. I’ll just mark the unit with a blue light to indicate that it’s yours,” the shopkeeper said.

“Thank you!” said Kaylee, eagerly taking the device as Zell walked up to the counter and presented his crekik chip. The shopkeeper scanned it and tapped a few controls.

Darren equally had chosen a few articles of clothing for himself, although he seemed less focused on style than Kaylee was. After everything was paid for and Zell had arranged for their merchandise to be sent to the ship, they left the shop. The fighting they had heard when they entered, had faded, and it was once again quiet. Zell led them further up the path and deeper into the district, the further they went, the more exotic the sights became. Darren noticed a night club and peeked inside to see nude female performers dancing on a stage, though the sight was short as Kaylee grabbed his arm and dragged him along once again, just as she had when they met De’Lora on the ship.

“Seriously?” Kaylee sighed in disgust, seeing what Darren was looking at, “Focus, Darren. Stop looking at all the women dancing on stage,” she added.

Darren sighed, but followed behind her, “Come on, Kaylee! Can’t I have at least a little fun while I’m here?” he protested.

“Not if that fun involves looking at naked women” she replied, annoyed with him.

“What the hell is your problem?” asked Darren as he broke free of her grasp, “You don’t control me or my life, so why are you trying to?”

Kaylee turned around immediately, looking straight into his eyes, her nostrils flaring as she finally lost her temper with him. “I-” she began, wanting to tell him something, but unable to say it, “God, you are just so clueless!” she exclaimed heavily as she turned around and kept walking to meet up with Zell and Ma’Lyr, who had stopped at the corner of the next street.

“What are you talking about?” asked Darren, giving a look of confusion.

“Nothing, never mind!” said Kaylee with a deep sigh. They rejoined the others just as some commotion began close by. Two guards in heavy black armor were at a merchant’s stall, where they began rummaging through the items on display with careless endeavor.

“W-what are you doing?! I’ve spent all day arranging those!” the merchant objected. Their voice was distorted, as if they had two vocal ranges at the same time.

The soldiers hit the merchant, who fell to the ground, “Silence!” the soldier yelled through his helmet, which sounded mechanical, as if their voices wouldn’t be heard through the armor or headgear and were coming through a speaker.

“We’ve gotten a report that you’re aiding the rebels and hiding weapons here!” the second guard said.

The merchant struggled to stand, “But I have no need to aid the resistance! I have too much to lose here, can’t you see that?” he said. Zell was watching the incident, which quickly brought Kaylee and Darren’s attention as well. Ma’Lyr placed one of her hands on Zell’s shoulder.

The guard that was searching the stall found a secret compartment under the table, “Sir, here!” he said as he opened it. The soldiers pulled out five flux blasters and placed them on the table.

The guard that had struck the merchant raised his flux rifle to the merchant, “The penalty for treason is death. Your sentence will be carried out immediately,” he said.

The merchant stood up, “No! Please!” he begged. The guard charged his weapon and fired it, hitting the merchant, who screamed in pain as the weapon’s energy blast ripped into him. Within a matter of a few seconds, the screaming slowly faded away, and all that was left was a pile of ashes where the merchant once stood. Zell looked away from the sight and clenched his fists and jaw.

The two guards took the weapons and looked toward a crowd that had gathered, “Move along! Or the next inspection will be on your stalls!” the first guard threatened. The crowd broke apart and the soldiers walked past Darren and Kaylee, “Stand aside” the guard yelled at them, even though neither were in their way. One of them took notice of Kaylee specifically, and spoke to the other in an unknown language. The two guards entered a nearby building that had flags adorned on its doorways.

Kaylee looked at Zell and walked up to him, “Who the hell were they? W-what the hell just happened?!” she asked, her hands were shaking after the incident, as were Darren’s.

Zell swallowed heavily and stared at the building the guards went into, “Imperium Guard… the so-called Commanders of the Galaxy, who’s job it is to uphold this totalitarian regime,” he said angrily.

Ma’Lyr sighed and shook her head, looking downward, “Zell has had first-hand experience with this kind of evil. His-” she was interrupted by Zell.

“I don’t want to discuss this!” he said as he stormed off, heading toward the night club that Darren had noticed only a few minutes before.

Darren quickly got out of Zell’s way, then looked at Ma’Lyr who threw her hands into the air, “There he goes again,” she said under her breath.

“What’s his problem?” asked Darren, after Zell was out of ear-shot.

Ma’Lyr sighed and motioned for them to follow her as she slowly walked, “Zell had an unfortunate run-in with the Imperium Guard some years back. He owed money to someone on his homeworld who had connections to the Imperium, so they sent guards to his shop. The guards took the money, but decided to destroy his shop, and his home… his wife and only child were trapped by the carnage, and died as a result,” she said, turning back to Darren and Kaylee, “He’s never gotten over it, and he likely never will. He hates the Imperium more than anyone else I’ve ever met.”

“Well, where’s he going?” asked Darren.

Ma’Lyr shook her head, “Probably to the bar we passed. Look, we just have to give him some time, he’ll come around eventually,” she said to them as she led them to buy the rest of the supplies. Along the way, Kaylee noticed a few guards at various points that seemed to be looking in her direction, though she couldn’t tell for sure, because of their helmets. She thought the guards might have been following them, but it could easily have been her imagination.

An hour later, they finally had what they were looking for, as well as a number of supplies for the ship, and had returned to the night club where Zell was inside, singing drinking songs with a few aliens at the bar. The group walked inside and Zell took notice, greeting them in a drunken haze, “And there’s my new friends now!” he slurred, stepping over to Kaylee and looking behind her. “You know, you have the best Kyna out of all the current female crew-members aboard the Auriga,” he said, patting her butt.

She jumped as he did, smacking his hand away, “Hey! You may be drunk, but I’ll still hit you if you do that again,” she warned him with a blush. He backed down, nearly falling over from his movements in the process. Kaylee huffed as she sat down on a nearby chair.

Zell laughed, then looked at Darren, “Don’t you agree, though?” he asked him.

“I-uh… I wouldn’t know,” stuttered Darren, clearly embarrassed by the question. He sat down with Kaylee to try to avoid Zell.

Kri’Kuso! I saw how you looked at her yesterday in the armory, you can’t tell me you don’t at least admire the view,” said Zell.

Ma’Lyr quickly gave him a shot of something from her device, having bought more bio-polymer before coming to the night club. “There, that should rid you of the effects of this Tarfyn,” she said to him.

Darren’s attention shifted to the stage, where, once again, more female dancers were performing, “What’s Tarfyn?” he asked.

“It’s a substance in these drinks which impairs whoever drinks them,” responded Ma’Lyr.

“Yeah, we have a similar thing back on Earth, called alcohol,” said Kaylee. She turned to look at Darren, then grabbed his chin, pulling his gaze to her and away from the stage, then gently smacked his cheek. “Better,” she said to him. She turned back to Zell and Ma’Lyr, who were preparing to leave. Darren shook his head and rolled his eyes at Kaylee, then looked back at the stage.

At that moment, three Imperium soldiers walked into the club, one of them pointed at Kaylee and they walked over to her, “You have been selected for the Imperium’s concubine program. Surrender, and you will live,” the soldier said.

Darren’s attention went toward the soldiers. He stood up, and got between them and Kaylee, “You’re not taking her anywhere!” he exclaimed.

The guard grabbed Darren by the throat, “Step aside, or die, commoner,” the soldier made his intentions very clear.

“I said,” Darren gasped as he could barely breathe, “Go to hell!” he finally finished. The soldier threw him over a table, and the other patrons who finally realized there was trouble, started walking out of the club. The soldier aimed his rifle at Darren and Zell finally sobered up, thanks to Ma’Lyr’s quick fix.

“No!” Zell yelled out, grabbing the rifle, making the soldier point at the ceiling as he fired the shot. Kaylee quickly ran to Darren to make sure he was okay as a struggle ensued. Zell, and Ma’Lyr grabbed the soldiers’ weapons. Zell shot the first of the three guards, then turned and shot the second, who was about to fire his weapon at Zell. Ma’Lyr finally got the weapon free from the third, and shot him as well. By this point, the club was half empty, the dancers had retreated back-stage to avoid laser fire, and the barkeep stationed there was taking cover.

“We’d better get out of here before more show up. Come on!” Zell said to them as he dropped the rifle near the bodies. He led them quickly out to the path again, hoping they could at least get back to the ship before word had spread of their apparent ‘crime’. Soldiers poured into the area from a number of buildings, some of them from checkpoints ahead. The four of them evaded the patrols coming from ahead, and finally made their way back to the lift that they came down on, but more soldiers intercepted them, and a firefight ensued. All of them took cover to avoid the weapons fire, having no weapons of their own. A group of rebels nearby had heard the weapons fire, and flanked the soldiers, firing at them, killing most of them in the process.

“You’re all clear, get out of here!” yelled one of the rebels. Zell, Kaylee, Darren, and Ma’Lyr all ran to the lift as more soldiers began firing from behind them. The doors to the lift closed once they were inside. Out of breath, they relaxed for a minute as the lift took them back up to the proper landing pad area. Once they were back aboard the Auriga, Zell closed the external hatch, cycled the airlock, and allowed entry into the Command Level. He unlocked the weapon safe where they all grabbed their weapons, holstering them once again, and yelled to Arkaz, “The Imperium will likely be coming after us, I suggest we lift off now!”

“Very well,” said Arkaz, “Auriga, initiate liftoff procedures,” he called to the ship’s AI.

The Auriga AI spoke through the speakers, “Initiating liftoff procedures. External hatches have been secured, switching to power-save mode.” The ship’s lighting reverted to what it was when Darren and Kaylee came aboard, which was dimmer than when they landed, “Activating main drive systems. Caution: Liftoff clearance has been denied,” said Auriga.

“Override, clearance nine-Levus-four,” said Arkaz.

“Clearance override accepted, beginning liftoff,” said the Auriga. The ship began to take off as Darren, Kaylee, and Zell took a station in the Command Room, not to operate them, but more to have a seat to sit in. “Now exiting Planet Cryon-5PS’s atmosphere,” Auriga said. As the view slowly became nothing but stars again, the ship shook suddenly and violently.

“Imperium warship opening fire!” yelled out Zell, who happened to take sensors, “Auriga, raise the secondary hull armor!” he quickly said.

“Raising secondary hull armor,” said Auriga. The view of the stars was replaced with huge metal shields as the ship reinforced itself.

“Will that hold them off?” Darren asked. Kaylee was worried at this point, made obvious by her tapping her heel on the floor.

Zell shook his head, “Not for long… if we don’t get the Inter-spacial Flux Drive to full power before our secondary hull armor shuts down… we won’t make it.”

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