Well, I’ve written the next chapter quickly, but I’m so close to the end I can smell it in the air! And besides, I had started the other chapter at an earlier date. This does however, mean that tomorrow I’m going to be swamped with other homework. Oh well, it’s all for a good cause. Hope you enjoy. 🙂
“Hammerhead flank them. Tigerbite, engage the tractor beam.”
These orders were snapped out crisply from the mouth of Malvolent’s apprentice as she stood calmly on the bridge of the leader of the three Velocity-class Spacecruisers. Her white, starched robes made an imposing figure as she voiced orders from the commander’s platform. The Imperetor had grown tired of waiting and had sent her with three Spacecruisers to pick Liam and whoever else might have been with him up. The two lumbering Spacecruisers moved deceptively fast and soon had the tiny Scorpion pinioned.
“Pull them in, and prepare my spaceship,” the commander said whirling around, her cloak whirling behind her.
“No no no!” Jayna said hitting the control panels with her fists. She was utterly and completely exasperated. After all they had done to escape from Terraan they had to land in the clutches of the enemy. “How did they find us?” she turned to Liam accusingly, her eyes flashing. “How did they?”
Liam made a metallic noise that Jayna interpreted as chuckling. “They had their two top assassins with us the whole time. Did you really think they had no idea where we were?”
“Well–” she said helplessly.
“They’re pulling us in ma’am,” Derson informed Jayna as the tractor beam began drawing them in towards the Spacecruiser. “Should we prep our weapons?”
Jayna was silent.
“Should we prepare our weapons ma’am?” Derson asked again, the slightest hint of urgency in his voice.
She looked at Liam. He shook his head fractionally.
“You might be interested to detect who is in that approaching spaceship,” Liam said, nodding his head in the direction of a fast approaching shuttle headed towards the Spacecruiser called Tigerbite.
Jayna extended her senses, then she drew back gasping.
“It can’t be!” she said, denying reality. “She– she must be a prisoner or something. There’s no way–”
She was cut off as the Scorpion landed in the hanger. Instantly it was surrounded by a cordon of mechs; outdated, but still dangerous technology. Each one carried an RR 37 Sidewinder. One of the mechs stepped up to the boarding ramp lock and extending a probe, inserted it into the digital key port and hacked the password. The boarding ramp opened up with a bit of a groan.
“They’ve improved,” Liam said, with an undercurrent of sarcasm as he lethargically stood from his seat. He strode purposefully out of the spaceship, put his enerblade carelessly into the hand of the surprised mechanoid, then demanded for an audience with the leader of the fleet. The mechs looked at each other in confusion. They had not expected such audacity from one they had determined to be a prisoner.
A sharp clicking of heels informed Liam of the direction from which the person he sought would come from even before he saw her. Then the Imperetor’s pupil stepped out from a corridor, her shoes hitting the floor with military precision. She was flanked by twenty mechs, but she waved them off casually as she approached Liam.
“Long time no see, General Vahn,” Liam said, with an elaborate bow which did not match the demeanor of his mask. By this time, Jayna, Mako, and the two coms had stepped out from the spaceship. Derson did not seem the least perturbed, but his internal emotions betrayed him, while Jayna had her mouth wide open.
“But how could you Cassie? How could you betray us?” she asked, not bothering to conceal the shock in her voice.
“The Imperetor took me and showed me the light,” Cassie said coldly.
“Ahh, so it is Malvolent, back again to play his little tricks is it?” Liam asked darkly, his fists clenching and unclenching by his sides.
“Yes,” Cassie said with a sickly sweet smile. Then she said condescendingly, “And you thought you had killed him.”
“I killed him once, and I’ll do it again. Bring me to him,” Liam said authoritatively.
“Indeed?” Cassie asked unflinchingly. “You have an overwhelming sense of confidence in yourself Liam, but do not forget what he did to your mind in the past. He is much stronger now than he was then.”
“When I say something, I mean it!” Liam said, stamping his foot in what might have been characterized as frustration, except for the fact that every mech in the hanger went flying away. Even Jayna was slightly impressed.
“Spectacular Nightmare, but it will take a lot more than baby’s tricks and power games to defeat the Imperetor. Come with me,” and she walked imperiously away, her cloak flaring behind her. Liam followed, and he seemed to be storming as he did so, for every piece of metal that he walked past warped and twisted like it was possessed. The mechs, recovered from their airborne episode, egged the rest of the party onwards as well.
Mako recognized now the same haughtiness in Liam that had once existed when they had worked for the Imperetor. He shook his head sadly. He had never imagined their brief happiness after Liam’s release from the Imperetor would have ended like this. Things had been going so well with Liam’s rehabilitation, and suddenly, in a matter of moments, it had all crumbled back down into nothing. Gone was the Liam, and back was Nightmare.
Jayna could not understand the change that had just happened inside Liam. In all her time with him she had never seen him like this. She did not realize he could be so arrogant, and– childish. It was almost like he had skipped his childhood and was living it in the present. It was preposterous for him to even consider having any authority on this Spacecruiser when they were prisoners, yet he did so without the least hesitation.
And he had surrendered his enerblade as carelessly as if he had been on their side instead of hers. Or was he on their side? Jayna felt extremely confused. Her only mentor had just deserted her for the evil side that she had been taught all her life was wrong, she no longer had any friends apart from two coms and Mako, and the person she had hoped would possibly save them seemed to have become their enemy. All in all it was a situation to cause confusion.
Inside the bridge, Cassie gave orders for the fleet to return to the planet it had come from. Liam had gotten up beside her on the commander’s podium, but she had pushed him back down almost daintily. He stood beside the dais fuming growling. The handrail in front of Cassie bent, twisted, then crumpled. She gave a slight smile but continued to stare out of the viewscreen as they shot through space.
Then the mech with Liam’s enerblade entered the bridge. In an instant the enerblade had flown from its hand into Liam’s, and igniting it, Liam decapitated the mech.
“Who said you could take my enerblade?” he roared at the mechanical corpse. Liam turned to face Cassie as if challenging her to oppose his actions. She just smiled, and something moved behind him. He whirled around only to see the mechanoid he had decapitated be rebuilt before his very eyes. Then it stuck a syringe in his chest. He decapitated the robot again then turned around to face Cassie.
“What’s this?” he asked, pointing at the needle still in his torso.
“It’s to shut you up,” Cassie said sweetly.
Liam snorted and removed the syringe. The neurotoxin oozed out from the hole then dribbled down his suit.
“You’re obviously not very well educated on Nightmares,” he said, discarding the syringe. He was calmer now. Spinning his enerblade several times, he hooked it onto his belt, then stepped up onto the bridge beside Cassie. The rest of his party were out on the floor, but when the mechs that had injected them tried to approach Liam, they fell to pieces.
Liam could feel Cassie probing his mind, trying to put him to sleep, so he threw up a shield. She grimaced wryly when she hit it.
“An old school trick,” he informed her, after she tried several shield-evasion techniques. “When is this contraption going to arrive?” he demanded of the pilot.
“It will take a day sir,” the mech replied.
“A day? You make good speed. It would have taken a week for the older Cruisers to make this journey. You’re using outdated mechs and highly-specialized Cruisers. Why the mixture?”
“None of your business,” Cassie said stiffly, and Liam turned from her. He summoned a mech.
“Put these people in the cabins,” he ordered, pointing at Jayna, Mako, Derson, and the com.
“Ma’am?” the mech asked, seeking confirmation from Cassie, who stood with a slight curve to her lips.
“You can take orders from me,” Liam said menacingly.
“Ma’am?” the mech asked again, completely unperturbed. Cassie smiled smugly.
“I said to put these people in the cabins,” Liam ordered, while mentally using an old mech reprogramming trick.
“Yes sir,” the mech said, and calling over some of its companions, began ordering them about. Cassie looked curious.
“Old school trick,” Liam said gruffly.
“So you can do more than send robots flying to pieces,” she said.
“Oh I can do much more. So much more. Now take me to your master.”