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Chapter 6: Regime

The soldiers stepped closer, searching the room, “They’re in here somewhere,” said one of them. Suddenly, two people shot out of a booth and made a run for the open wall leading outside, “There!” yelled the guard as he turned to them and fired. He missed, and the two escaped.

“Come on!” said another guard, and they all ran outside to chase the two.

“That was close,” said Darren, “Why’d you stop me from firing?” he asked Kaylee.

“Remember what Zell said the other day while we were training?” she asked him.

Darren paused for a moment, “No.”

Kaylee rolled her eyes, “He told us to only power them to level seven, any more than that, and we’d tear a hole through a wall, three times our size. Who knows how bad the blast would have been for us at five feet away.”

“Oh yeah,” Darren said, “Good call.” They rested there for a few more minutes before another patrol showed up, once again searching the building. This time, they made their escape, rather than waiting. It was clear now that they were tracking Darren and Kaylee, and if they didn’t stay on the move, they’d be found and likely killed. As Darren and Kaylee crept through the alleyways, another blast from orbit descended near them, “Look out!” yelled Darren as he dove over Kaylee, knocking her to the ground and covering her from open fire as the weapon obliterated the building next to them. They were covered in rubble from the blast, Darren barely had the strength to stand up, but when he did, he saw that Kaylee wasn’t moving, and was apparently unconscious. “No!” he yelled out, “Don’t you dare leave me, Kaylee! Don’t you even think about it!” Just then, as if the timing couldn’t be worse, another patrol showed up nearby, and headed toward the newly destroyed building. Darren picked Kaylee up and carried her with him to find a safer area. He leaned his head close to her mouth and heard her barely breathing; she was alive. He carried her further down the alleyway and into another, dodging patrols and orbital fire on the way. Could all of this have been just to find two people? No, this had to be an invasion force. A lot of resources have gone into this move by the Imperium, and Zell had said that the Imperium tend not to waste resources unless they have some huge goal. But this meant they had to have secretly known about Earth already. Why now? And why bother trying to capture Darren and Kaylee in the midst of this chaos?

Kaylee regained consciousness and looked at Darren, “You can put me down now,” she said with a half laugh.

Darren allowed her to stand on her own, offering balancing support as she regained her composure, “Careful, you were hit pretty hard-Ah!” Darren suddenly fell in pain. Kaylee looked at him, falling over from the sudden shift in support.

“Darren, your back!” she said, “It’s all bruised and bloody!”

“I’ll be fine,” lied Darren. He knew how bad it was, but they had to keep going. The Imperium were inching closer as they took over the city. Another blast from orbit hit the tallest building in town, toppling it in seconds. It was no skyscraper, but it was big enough to cause a bigger panic nearby, where Darren could hear screams and weapons fire.

“You won’t be fine unless we can patch you up!” scolded Kaylee.

“We don’t have any medical supplies, so how are we going to do that?” he asked her.

“I don’t know,” said Kaylee, “But we have to find something; a medical kit, or, just anything!”

“We don’t have time to stop, they’ll be back on us any minute,” said Darren.

“Hold it right there,” said a soldier as he slowly walked up behind Kaylee. Darren decided to play dead, but reset his blaster out of sight. Kaylee put her hands up and slowly turned to face the soldier.

“Why is the Imperium after us?” she asked him. The soldier kept his blaster on her and walked closer.

“We detected your Link Units and knew you could send a signal. This invasion is a covert operation to further support the war against Rizadia,” he said, “We can’t have you telling anyone else about it, now can we?”

“Well, it seems you have that in hand now,” said Kaylee.

“It would seem so. On your knees, now!” yelled the soldier. Even now, they had never seen one of their faces; they’d always covered them with their helmets. As Kaylee knelt down, Darren had a clear shot at the soldier, he quickly raised his blaster and fired, killing the soldier, who fell to the ground.

“And now that we know their plan, we can tell Zell and Arkaz when they get here,” said Darren.

Kaylee got up, “If they get here,” she said. She helped Darren up, and they both started walking again, slowed by Darren’s wounds.

“Yeah, there’s no guarantee that this transmission is getting out very far,” said Darren. They slowly made their way to another building interior, this one not ruined. Darren turned off the transmitter and laid back against a wall, his breathing became more and more labored as time passed; he was hurt, badly.

“What are you doing?” asked Kaylee, “If you turn off the transmitter--”

“Then the guards,” Darren interrupted, then caught his breath, “Won’t be able to track us. And we can rest for a while.”

“What about Auriga?” said Kaylee. She sat back with Darren and kept watch.

“If they got the transmission, then they’re on their way,” said Darren, “If not, then they never will. They were moving away from Earth, remember?”

Kaylee sighed, “Yeah I guess,” she said. She took Darren’s hand and looked at him, “Don’t you dare die on me.”

“I don’t plan to,” said Darren, “But even if it doesn’t go according to plan, at least my last sight will be your face.” Darren smiled at her, although more to make her feel better. She leaned forward and kissed him. “What was that for?” asked Darren.

“Incentive for you to stay alive?” said Kaylee. Darren laughed, but winced in pain as he did.

“Kinda hurts to laugh right now, Kaylee,” he said, “What time is it?”

Kaylee looked at her watch, situated right next to her Link, “Five Fifteen am,” she said.

“Damn,” said Darren, “We’ll never last out there in daylight. We need a plan.”

“I still think the bomb shelter would be a good place to hide out,” said Kaylee. At that moment, her Link Unit beeped and a voice came through, static filled the background and a lot of it couldn’t be understood.

“Ka-lee, ---en, If-- can hear this, --on our way. --in there,” the voice said.

“That sounded like Arkaz,” said Darren, “They must have gotten our message!”

“Please hurry,” said Kaylee in response, “Darren’s hurt, and the Imperium are hunting us.” The transmission cut out before a return response could be heard. “Damn it!” yelled Kaylee. Darren could see a tear falling from her eye.

“It’s okay, at least we know they’re on the way,” said Darren.

“Darren, I’m scared,” said Kaylee as she cried.

“I know... me too,” said Darren. He put a hand on Kaylee’s shoulder to comfort her. “But we have to keep going, we can’t give up, especially now that help is on the way,” he said. Kaylee nodded and sat with Darren to rest.


Meanwhile, aboard the Auriga, Zell, Arkaz, and Ma’Lyr sat in the command chamber at their respective stations; Zell at weapons, Arkaz at command, and Ma’Lyr at helm control. “Time,” said Arkaz. He tapped a few controls on the arm of his chair.

“We will arrive at Darren and Kaylee’s homeworld in approximately one uoer,” said Auriga.

“Good, let’s hope that won’t be too late,” said Arkaz. Zell sighed, he was uneasy at what they were about to do; rescue two people from a planet being taken over by the Imperium. If the Auriga wasn’t already on the Imperium’s hit-list, they would be after this.

“We need a plan to get them off of that planet in as short a time as possible,” said Zell. He knew exactly how quickly the Imperium would come after them, they couldn’t be there any longer than twenty setkas, any longer than that, and the Imperium would pick them up on their sensors on approach. “Auriga, would it be possible to re-enter normal space inside of their planet’s atmosphere?” asked Zell. The others looked at him like he was crazy with such a proposal, and maybe he was, but that was all he could come up with.

“It would be unwise--” said Auriga.

“I didn’t ask if it was wise, Auriga,” said Zell, “Can it be done?”

“It can indeed be done,” said Auriga, “However, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that exiting into normal space within an atmosphere would cause a devastating shockwave, which in turn could result in structural damage and possibly structural collapse of any land-based buildings larger than sixty-seven units in height.”

“Understood, Auriga,” said Zell, “Begin your calculations.”

“I should also point out,” added Auriga, “That I will need to make these calculations in-transit, and I will need to control this vessel for the maneuver.”

“Again, understood. Try to get close to their signal, when we get within range, drop a trans-location platform down to the planet’s surface,” said Zell.

“Risky move,” said Arkaz, “But, it’s not like I have any better ideas, so let’s do it. Prepare one of the secondary TL Units, they should survive the drop better than the primaries.” Zell nodded to him and switched to the Engineering console, tapping buttons as he did.

“Dexa,” sighed Zell, “The sequencer’s damaged, I’ll have to calibrate it manually.” He stood up and started toward the door when Ma’Lyr set the autopilot, and went with him.

“I’ll go with you,” she said. They took the gravity tubes down to Level Green, then entered the storage area where the secondary TL platform was stored. Zell grabbed a toolkit from the wall, then knelt down in front of the TL unit. He tapped a panel, which released the lock on its side that allowed the top pad to be raised, revealing the circuitry inside. “You’re worried about them, aren’t you?” said Ma’Lyr.

“Aren’t you?” asked Zell, he was agitated by the question, but he let it go. He used a device on the circuitry of the platform to start calibrating it for launch.

“Yes, but I haven’t spent nearly as much time with them as you have,” said Ma’Lyr.

“Hand me the Magnetic Sensor Probe,” said Zell, he handed Ma’Lyr the first tool he had as she handed him the probe, he continued working on the platform. “Are you implying that I’ve grown more attached to them than you have?” he asked her.

“I’m saying, Zell, that it’s okay to express your concern. It’s perfectly normal to do so. Why do you try so hard to hide your emotion?” said Ma’Lyr.

“I don’t hide it!” yelled Zell, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to shout.”

“I know you didn’t, you don’t have to apologize,” she said. She placed a hand on Zell’s shoulder, “I know your pain, as does everyone else who has been aboard recently, there is no point in suppressing it.”

“If I let out my rage, my pain,” said Zell, “Then I’ll lose the reason I’m still out here. I’ll no longer see the point in finding Kralis.”

Ma’Lyr sighed, “Would that really be such a bad thing? To move on and allow yourself to be at peace?”

“He must pay for what he’s done,” said Zell, “I won’t allow his murdering ways to go unpunished, you know why I’m here.”

“Yes, I do know,” said Ma’Lyr, “But I also know that this vendetta you’re on can also consume you.” Ma’Lyr leaned close to his ear and purred, “But I don’t want that to happen,” she said to him in a soothing voice.

Zell sighed and turned to her, having stopped his work at that moment, “I thought you didn’t like to make that sound with others around,” he said.

Ma’Lyr laughed a little and smiled at him, “It depends on the company I keep,” she said, “Do you know much about my species?”

“You’re the only Udek I’ve ever encountered,” said Zell, “But I’ve always admired your spots, they’re very tantalizing.”

Ma’Lyr swished her cheetah-like tail slowly and smiled at him seductively, “Maybe someday you’ll count them for me,” she said.

“Someday,” he said. He turned back to the platform, but smiled to himself, “Soon, perhaps,” he added. “Hand me the Field Stabilizer, will you?” he asked her. She handed it to him and watched over his shoulder as he worked. Zell’s thoughts turned to the numerous weeks he’d spent with Ma’Lyr, from the firing range to teaching her some basic tools aboard Auriga. She’d learned a lot from him in that time, and they became somewhat closer than friends, but Zell’s pain and loss had always gotten in the way of his pursuit of any relationship. He used to think that was a good thing, that it kept him objective, but after observing Darren and Kaylee, when they were aboard, he’d realized he’d lost more than just his wife and child; he’d lost his whole being. Kralis kept him alive that day, not because of mercy, but because he knew that Zell would live in agony over the loss, and it would consume him. He wasn’t far from that now, and he knew that Ma’Lyr was right. Maybe it was time to stop fighting it, and to move on, but Zell wasn’t ready to simply allow Kralis to get away with what he’d done. ‘One year,’ he thought, ‘And that’s all the time I’ll put in it further.’

He finished the modifications of the TL Unit and set it up for launch. Although this was the only course of action they could take, he had his doubts whether the plan would succeed. Either way, even just attempting this would draw attention. The Imperium would be hunting them from that point, more than they already had been. Auriga and its crew, Darren and Kaylee included, would be outlaws. As Zell and Ma’Lyr walked through the halls, Zell’s Link chimed in with a call from Arkaz, “Zell, Ma’Lyr, set up the medical bay as well, considering the Imperium’s methods of invasion, and Kaylee’s garbled report, we have to be ready to treat any injuries.”

Zell tapped his Link, “Understood, we’re heading there now,” he said. He looked to Ma’Lyr, who was following him as they entered the medical bay on Level Blue, “Almost reminds you of the incident on Chaia Four, doesn’t it?” he asked.

“The similarities are remarkable,” she said, “With the exception, of course, that in this case, we’re risking everything to rescue two people that we barely know.”

“Granted, we know very little of them,” said Zell, “But it’s the right thing to do. We can’t just abandon them now, it was technically our fault that they were brought here and exposed to the Imperium.”

“So,” said Ma’Lyr, “You feel responsible for them.” She started preparing medical supplies, as did Zell, although he knew only the basics that she would need, it was one less step she would need to take to prepare.

“Don’t you?” Zell asked her. The lights in the room flickered and the ship shook from Inter-space turbulence, which was fairly normal for the speeds they were traveling at now, in order to reach Darren and Kaylee in time.

“I suppose I do,” said Ma’Lyr, “They didn’t ask to come here, and now, as a result of their journey, and perhaps our own folly as well, their world faces a threat that it wasn’t ready for. It’s natural to wonder what we could have done to prevent this.”

“At what point do we become responsible for what we do?” asked Zell, “Just like on Chaia Four, that man who spoke out, I hadn’t told him of the atrocities that the Imperium had committed, he was as innocent as Darren and Kaylee are, and look what happened. And now, this time, with Darren and Kaylee; we decided to take them home because of the Imperium’s new move against Rizadia.”

“It was the best thing to do,” said Ma’Lyr, “Imagine if the Imperium had never found their world, they’d be home, and safe, right now, while the region surrounding them waged war. I doubt very much they’d prefer to fight a battle that is not their own.”

“But now, it is their fight,” said Zell. Ma’Lyr stepped closer to Zell and looked into his eyes.

“Through no fault of ours,” she said calmly, “We could not have known that the Imperium would invade more than just Rizadia. That’s a commitment that we’ve never seen before. It is senseless to blame ourselves when the true enemy is clear.”

“Alert,” said Auriga, “System failure on Level Green. Additional strain detected on section two shielding and subsystems. In addition; I am once again receiving Darren and Kaylee’s initial transmission, making it possible to finish my calculations. We will arrive at Earth in twenty-three point two metkas.”

“Thank you, Auriga,” said Zell, he looked at Ma’Lyr, “I guess we’d better finish up then.” She nodded and continued preparing the medical bay.


Back on Earth, Kaylee did her best to clean Darren’s wounds before they left the building they’d been hiding in. The sun was starting to come up, and it would be increasingly hard for them to move around the patrols. They had to keep moving at this point, to prevent the Imperium from locking onto their location. Kaylee figured that Auriga would need to find them quickly, so she’d began transmitting again only moments before she and Darren had made their exit into the alleys. This was the most terrified she’d ever been, but she did her best to stifle the fear, and to do that, she had to focus on her goal; to keep herself and Darren alive until they were rescued. By now, Darren’s wound had worsened, and he was barely lucid enough to walk, which only slowed them down. After a few minutes of walking, he began coughing, so she sat him down on the ground for a minute, so he could rest. “I don’t think I’m going to make it, Kaylee,” said Darren.

She grabbed his chin and looked at him with a grimace, “Don’t you dare say that,” she said to him, “We’re both going to make it, and you are not going to give up on me!” She let go of his chin and looked around to make sure there were no patrols.

“I don’t think I’m going to have much choice, Kaylee,” he said, “I’m barely conscious, I’ll only slow you down. Just go on without me.”

“I’m not leaving you behind!” Kaylee yelled at him, “Damn it, Darren, just shut the fexx up, and keep going!” Darren started laughing and shook his head, but winced in pain from the laugh. “What’s so funny?” she asked him.

“You said ′fexx’,” he said, “It’s amazing how our lives have changed in such a short time.” She laughed silently and sat with him.

“Yeah,” said Kaylee, “Now we’re even using their curse words.”

“What’s this ‘we’ about?” Darren said, “You said it, not me.”

“You know what I mean,” she laughed. At that moment, she’d almost forgotten that they were being hunted. It was a good break from reality, but one that she ultimately didn’t want, since it could mean the difference between being found, and remaining unseen. Then, as usual, and almost on cue, Kaylee heard a patrol nearby, rounding up people, and shooting those who fought back. She quickly got up and helped Darren to his feet, and they scrambled to head in the other direction before they searched the alleyway, but it was no use, they’d turned the corner too quickly, and they’d been spotted. The soldiers spoke into their communication units, and before Kaylee could react in defense, they were surrounded and captured. The guards dragged them out into the street, where a number of people had been grouped together. They tossed Darren and Kaylee down onto the road a short distance from the crowd.

“These two,” said the lead guard, “Are enemies of the Imperium! They have gained technology that allowed them to fight us, and they have personally killed twenty of my men!”

“That’s a lie!” yelled Kaylee. The guard turned to her and hit her, knocking her down again. She screamed in pain and sobbed.

“You son of a bitch!” yelled Darren. The guard pulled his firearm and pressed it to Darren’s head as Darren tried to stand to confront the soldier. “Go ahead and shoot! I’m not afraid of you! Do it, you coward!” he said. The guard simply laughed. His armor was different from the other guards’, it was red with scrolling symbols lining the shoulders and breastplate.

“You’ll get your wish, but not before I am finished here,” said the guard. He raised his firearm, pointing it up. “Your species is impure, and like all other worlds currently within the domain of the Imperium, yours will be purged of this impurity, and replaced with my people,” said the soldier.

“You know,” said Darren, “We’ve had people like yours, right here on Earth. They thought they were so superior to everyone else on the planet, and they rounded up anyone they disliked, or disagreed with, and they murdered millions on their damned crusade to conquer the planet.”

The soldier laughed at Darren, “They obviously failed, since you’re still here.”

“Oh they failed alright,” said Darren, “The whole planet was at war, many on their side, many on our side, but do you know what happened to this supposedly superior regime?”

“Tell me,” said the soldier.

“They were defeated, just like you’ll be when the rest of the galaxy rises up against you!” yelled Darren. The guard struck him and he fell next to Kaylee. Darren laughed at the guard, “And the best part about it is, I’ll be right there with them, helping the resistance end your regime!”

“You won’t live that long,” said the guard. He raised his weapon to Darren and Kaylee again, then turned his head to the crowd, “Let this be a lesson to those who think resisting us is a solution!”

Just then, a large, blue shimmering light erupted in between the buildings down the street, then a ship quickly flew out of the light, sending a shockwave outward which toppled a few buildings, and knocked over everyone who was in the street. The guards had been thrown several feet away from Kaylee and Darren. Kaylee looked up to see what had emerged, and she was pleased to see that it was the Auriga. The ship flew over their heads in a matter of seconds, and dropped a platform down into the street.

Kaylee’s Link beeped and a voice came through, “Darren, Kaylee, run to that platform, it’s a Trans-location device!” It was obviously Zell’s voice, which Kaylee recognized immediately. She helped Darren up, and they both headed toward it with haste. Kaylee heard weapons fire from behind them, and the crowd of people screaming loudly; it was decidedly time to pick up the pace. When they reached the platform, she remembered what Zell said about the Link Units, that they could be used to transport them aboard Auriga, so she tapped the necessary control. At that moment, she looked up to see someone running their way; the last person in the crowd to survive the onslaught, but it wasn’t to be, the leader stood up slowly and shot them, then aimed his weapon at Kaylee. A beam of light shot from the platform, up to the ship, and in the blink of an eye, they were both in the Trans-location room aboard the Auriga. Kaylee sighed with relief and looked at Zell, who had met them there.

“They’re aboard,” Zell said through his Link. Kaylee felt the ship’s engines kick in.

“Darren’s hurt, we have to get him to the medical bay,” said Kaylee. Zell picked Darren up over his shoulder, and carried him to the medical bay, laying him on the exam table. Ma’Lyr used one of her scanning devices while Kaylee watched from the side.

“He’s badly wounded,” said Ma’Lyr, “He’ll need to be in a static field tank for a few hours to heal his skin, then he’ll need bed rest for several days, but I think he’ll be okay.”

“Oh, thank God!” said Kaylee as she cried, “He saved my life down there. Is there anything I can do?”

“Just sit with him while I prepare the tank,” said Ma’Lyr. She walked off toward the back of the bay and tapped a number of controls on various panels, lighting up a cylindrical chamber that sat at an angle with an anchor point in the floor.

They eventually secured Darren in the tank, which lit up a blue color and hummed with a low tone while it was activated. Zell and Kaylee had gone up to Level Red, and discovered that Auriga was being chased by the Imperial cruiser that had been in orbit.

“They won’t chase us forever, they’ve got people down on Urthe,” said Zell.

“Agreed,” said Arkaz, “Auriga; Emergency Inter-space jump, now. Target: Lunar Colony Olori.” Auriga didn’t protest this time, probably because they were about to come under fire again. At least, that was Kaylee’s assessment. The ship jumped into Inter-space, leaving the Earth behind.

“I just can’t believe it,” sobbed Kaylee, “My home; all those people dead. And for what?” Zell placed his hand on Kaylee’s back, trying to comfort her in this obviously difficult time.

“Don’t worry, the Imperium will pay for what they’ve done,” said Zell, “Even if we have to spend ten years making it happen, they will pay.”

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