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Author: William A. Stein
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\title{{\Huge\sc$\overline{\rm The\, Space\, Wars}$}\\
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.\\
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\LARGE\bf\sf \underline{Destiny of the Droids}}
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\author{William A. Stein}
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* * *
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\begin{document}
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\maketitle
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\tableofcontents
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\chapter*{Preface}
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I wrote the original version of this book when I was ten years old. I
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am presently rewriting and expanding on the original version.
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If you like this book, let me know ({\tt [email protected]}). If
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not, stop reading, and don't bother with criticism; I'm writing this
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because it makes me feel good, in much the same way that, e.g., going
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on a brisk walk does. I'm not seeking criticism at this point,
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because I'm not interested in becoming a professional fiction author,
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as I already have a professional career that I love.
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{\em A note on intellectual property:} The author, William A.\ Stein,
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of this work gives anyone the right to read and distribute this book
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in any form they choose so long as the writing is attributed to
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William Stein and this preface remains attached. In particular, no
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monetary compensation is requested. Moreover, anyone can take the
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text and extend it, if for some weird reason they want to, again under
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the condition that this preface remain attached. However, the
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extended text must also be made freely available to everyone.
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\chapter{Droid Armies}
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Crisp cold air sweeps across a gray sky. A sturdy black building sits
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in the middle of a huge red and rocky area on a freezing barren
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planet. Numerous other identical menacing buildings are stationed
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across this dreadful landscape. Each contains something that only the
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recently appointed president, Columbo, and a few of his trusted
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advisers knows about.
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\threestars
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Bill Stein recently celebrated his 25th birthday. He is about five feet
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ten inches tall, has black hair, and a medium build. At the moment, he
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is standing on a barren planet, near a dark precipice. He thinks, then
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looks at his watch, which, for a very brief moment, reads ``2185,
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August 16, 1:25, 16 and 28/1000000 seconds.'' Upon seeing the time,
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he pulls a gadget from his pocket and speaks into it. ``This is Captain
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Bill Stein on Sector 4. Bring me back from this scout mission. It's getting
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cold out here.'' In fact, the cold can't touch him in his heated
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space suit.
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Far away, floating in space, the beaming office replies: ``OK. I'll
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beam you aboard the ship.'' The beaming officer was quite unusual and
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harbored a deeply veiled past. In less than a second, Bill
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materializes aboard the ship. He removes his protective suit, exits
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the beaming room, and enters a hallway where he is met by a 6 foot 2
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inch tall man with fluffy brown hair and sharp features. Together
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they step into an elevating room and are pulled through an antigravity
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tube. As their journey ends and the tube opens, Thom steps onto the
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bridge.
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Thom is Bill's best friend, and like Bill he is 25 years old.
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He stands just over six feet tall in front of his monitoring
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and communications array and in a few moments yells ``Bill, look at
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the scanning display!''
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``What exactly do you see?'' Bill inquires.
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``A blip,'' Thom excitedly answers. This is Thom's 6th mission.
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``There's something out there and I want to know what it is and where
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it is going. What is its present course?'' Bill asks carefully.
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``It's on a direct course to intercept us. I may be able to bring up
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a visual of the blip using our ship's telescopes'', Thom suggests.
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``Try,'' Bill agrees. Several barely-visible specs appear in the
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middle of a large black viewscreen. They wiggle a little, indicating
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rapid movement. ``Thom, try to zoom in further and enhance.''
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The view on the screen barely changes, as Thom studies his instruments.
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``Bill, those are sophisticated space ships, and they do not look friendly.
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Their weapons are fully charged.'' Thom fixes a concerned eye on
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Bill, ``I suggest we arm our lasers as a safety precaution.'' The
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mood on the bridge becomes tense. Officers to the left and right
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of Bill try to appear to relax as they study their consoles while
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nervously glancing at the viewscreen.
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``I agree.'' Bill pauses, then turns to an officer nearer the view
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screen and adds, ``Dennis, arm our weapons array.'' Dennis is 24
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years old and 5 feet 9 inches tall. If anyone really knows Bill, it
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is Dennis. Though Bill is captain of the ship, and Dennis is
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devastating in combat situations, without Dennis's financial wizardry,
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the ship would never have been allowed just the right crew.
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``Laser's armed'', Dennis replies as his hands dance in the air amongst
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a forbiddingly colored hologram that hovers in front of his chair.
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A flash of light appears on the viewscreen. A single thought leaves
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each officer's mind as rapidly as it arrives: Will I be incinerated in a
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moment? The bridge shakes enough to knock Bill and Thom to their
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knees as a bolt of energy cuts into the ship's launch pad!
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``Fire lasers!'' Bill yells. The air vibrates slightly as Dennis
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releases laser cannon fire at ten approaching ships. The viewscreen
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shows three fighter ships explode, as the shields on the other seven
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re-modulate in order to deflect Bill's lasers.
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``I suggest I try to establish communication with them'', suggests Thom.
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``Go ahead and try'', approves Bill. Thom tries, but has no luck. The
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enemy ignores all hails. Frustrated and worried as the remaining
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seven ships speed closer, Bill orders ``Ready the ship to jump to
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light speed.''
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``All right'' responds the lead cruise controller, a clever blonde
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haired young man named Chris, who sits to Bill's left. The controller
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and three nearby officers move their hands carefully above a smooth
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panel admists rotating holographic images. The ship hums and vibrates
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as the hyperdrive engines are activated. Just as the ship begins to
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jump to light speed, enemy laser fire storms all around damaging the
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hyperdrive. ``Captain, we're not going to be able to jump to light
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speed for a while. I will try to assess the damage caused by those
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last blasts.''
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``How long do you think it will take?'' Bill demands.
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``It will probably take a few hours,'' replies the cruise controller
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slowly, keenly aware that he might not live more than a few more
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minutes.
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``We'll just have to fight them off'' shouts Bill; ``keep firing
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lasers Dennis, Thom, and Chris!'' He mentions manuever ``alpha
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bravo'' to the cruise controller.
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As the battle rages on, it rapidly becomes clear that Dennis is the
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best shooter. A total of six enemy ships fall by his hand. After a
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while, it seems that all of the enemy ships are gone, as the ship
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speeds seemingly unpursued across the deeply empty reaches of space.
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Bill congrulates his crew: ``Great shooting Dennis!'' ``Excellent
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work repairing our light-speed hyperdrive, Chris.'' Then Bill thinks
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fleetingly about his wife Tasha, who was many light years away, who
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he has not seen in several months.
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A few tense hours pass, in which the crew carefully monitors for
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attack craft, and does their best to hide the weakened ship behind
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floating debri. Finally, Chris announces ``The hyperdrive should
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now be fully operational.''
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``Great!'' replies Bill, and then adds solemly, ``Let's go home.''
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``Just give the order, Bill'', Chris says excitedly.
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``It's given.'' As the ship enters an open expanse of space, it hums
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and vibrates, and the hyperdrive safely jumps the ship to near light
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speed. For a moment every living thing on the ship is mildly
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disoriented, and the next moment the only change is that the view out
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the window is bizarrely distorted. Several hours pass, and then Chris
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slows the ship down, as most of the crew's home world appears, as a
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dot, on the viewscreen.
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``It is fabulous to see Earth again,'' comments Thom, ``When we were
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attacked we fought well; I don't think we can easily be captured.''
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The ship rapidly approaches Earth, shooting through space at sublight
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speeds that defy comprehension. As the planet grows to encompass most
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of the viewscreen, Bill thinks for a moment about his parents below,
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and wishes that his wife Tasha were also below instead of off on a
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research mission at Dinesta. As the ship breaks through the
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automosphere and glides towards Earth, a landing area appears,
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imprisoned on three sides by water. Thom notices that the fourth side
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is populated with an organized large number of people and asks, ``What
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is going on down there?''
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``I don't have the slightest idea'', Bill answers. ``Chris, slow our
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landing. Thom, run a scan on the people who appeared armed with laser
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cannons.''
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Moments later, Thom yells in surprise: ``Those 'guys' are droids!''
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``They must be somehow connected with the droids that I discovered in
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the sheds on that planet's surface,'' realizes Bill.
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The ship jerks, knocking Bill and Thom temporarily off balance.
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``What just caught us?'' asks Dennis.
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``Some kind of tractor beam'', responds Thom.
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Before Bill can say ``ready lasers'', the ship is locked onto the
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landing pad, and the weapons array is covered by special mirrors, that
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are usually placed there to prevent accidents, but in this case make
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the ships weapons all but useless.
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``Let's try to break free'', Bill cries. Chris tries, but the ship
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is held fast.
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``Let's try to shoot the droids'', suggests Dennis.
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``No -- with the safety deflectors over our lasers, we'll only harm
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ourselves,'' warns Bill.
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Red lights flash as the ships goes into battle alert. Droids break
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through an entrance and begin boarding the huge ship. Some are ripped
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apart by laser fire from crew members, but soon the droids produce
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shields which effectively protect them.
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Feeling betrayed by the security of their home world, eventually,
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Bill, Thom, Dennis, and Chris all find themselves being forceably
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escorted off their ship. The rest of the crew is detained onboard by
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ever patient and watchful droids.
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``Why are you here?'' inquires Bill as he and the others are moved
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very quickly away from the ship in a carefully sealed rectangular
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black vehicle. The droids take no notice. The vehicle connects
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solidly with a featureless grey building, and unloads its human cargo.
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The human-looking expressionless droids lock our space travelers up in
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a medium size featureless cell. The cell walls are smooth and grey,
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there is a bench against a wall, and a small glowing force-field door,
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through which nothing can be seen.
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``Thom, just moments ago you said you didn't think we could be beaten
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or even captured'', says Dennis in frustration.
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Thom stoically replies, ``we are not dead yet.''
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``We are in a big mess,'' Chris notes. ``We have to escape and get help
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from one of the allied planets.''
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``We had better do so,'' agrees Bill, as a droid approached the
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force-field door of their cell.
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``Be silent'', says the guard in a monotone voice from behind the
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door. The sound of the guard's footsteps suggest that he walks
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several yards directly away from the door.
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``I have a great idea!'' announces Bill very quitely.
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``What is it?'' whispers Tom.
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``Well, we could probably make it past several of the guards...'', he
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lowers his voice even more, ``if we could re-program one of the other
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droids. We'll make a lot of noise to draw the guard's attention. It
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will come in here to shut us up, and then Dennis will take him out.
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Dennis, I trust you were able to smuggle off of our ship something
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that could be used as a weapon?''
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``Of course.'' Dennis confirms, with a twinkle in his eye as he
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taps an almost imperceptible bulge in the corner of his pantleg.
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At Bill's signal, Chris, Thom, and Dennis begin talking, then
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yelling loudly, and even appear to be fighting each other at one
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point. The guard droid, who had warned them before, appears stoically
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at the door and says ``Be silent.'' A torrent of loud curses echo
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back from the small prison. The guard, devoid of fear, follows its
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programming; it shuts down the force door. It enters the room, then the
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force door is re-activated by another guard.
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Dennis springs from behind at the guard, brandishing nothing but a
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thin diamond wrench, and makes a quick incision from behind. The
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guard stops in midstep and falls to the ground. Everyone is silent;
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they must work quickly.
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Thom whispers, ``Assuming Dennis hasn't damaged this droid too much,
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I'll try to re-program it so that it will attack the other droids when
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they least expect it. It's too bad we don't have more time to study
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these droids, so we could perhaps learn their purpose.'' Because the
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droid looks so human, it is disconcerting to see Thom open various
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panels and beginning hacking through, then reprogramming the mind of
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the droid, using a holographic interface that he is able to produce.
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``Hurry up'' Bill whispers in a concerned voice, ``I hear footsteps.
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The other droids will soon become suspicious.''
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The force door opens, revealing two droids, just as Thom's droid
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stands tall and announces in a convincing monotone, spoken in the
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droid's own encrypted language, that the prisoners are under control,
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because he has just administered a sedative to each of them. Thom
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feigns to look tired, and Bill, Dennis, and Chris follow suit. As the
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droids turn and begin to leave, Thom's guard droid fires poinpoint red
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lasers from each thumb, which land squarely in the backs of each of
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the other two droids. They stop moving, then fall to the ground.
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``Amazing work'' congrulates Bill. The four jump through the force
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door and into a hallway of Building 7, a building they all got to know
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well during their early years of training. ``We're near what used to
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be a weapons storage room; let's check to see if it still is.'' Bill
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leads the way, followed by Chris, Dennis, and Thom and his droid.
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They quickly find the storage room, while appearing to avoid
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detection. The storage room is locked by a black force shield.
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Because he is on the outside of the force shield, Thom has little
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difficulty breaking through it using a ``backdoor'' that he installed
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while in training here a few years ago. The force shield dissipates,
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revealing stocks of weapons lined up against the walls and a
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suspicious and heavily armed droid in the center of the room, who
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immediately begins to fire as our four fighters jump away from the
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door. Last blasts darken and rip apart the side of the hallway
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opposite the door.
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``Surrender or die'' the attacking droid threatens as he emerges from
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the weapons room. Just as our fighters are about to run, Thom's droid
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makes short order of the attacker with a quick small red laser blast
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from his right thumb. Moments later, our fighters are armed to the teeth.
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They charge down a corridor, with hopes of amassing enough power
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to retake their ship and escape.
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``Watch out behind you, Bill! Duck and fire!'' screams Thom. A laser
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blast barely misses Bill, resulting in a mild burn on his arm, as he
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fires back hitting nothing. Shots from Thom hit the attacking droid,
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causing it to explode.
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Eventually, a systematics search leads the crew to the droid's command
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and control center, which is located in a small tower mounted on the
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top of Building 7. With some difficulty, they manage to take the
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tower. Though Thom doesn't understand the encrypted wireless protocol
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used by the droids to communicate, he can send messages using it via
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his loyal droid, who has managed to escape harm so far. Thom sends
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out a message using the droid's encrypted wireless frequency telling
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all droids that they ``must go to landing strip 14 immediately!''
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Even his own droid finds itself compelled to obey.
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As Thom, Dennis, Chris, and Bill reboard their ship, they find their
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crew mostly unharmed and in the process of mounting a rescue effort,
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and have successfully disabled the ship landing constraints. When
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they reach the bridge, Chris says, ``The controls appear to be intact.
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I think I can get us out of here. Just give the order, Bill.''
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``It's given,'' says Bill, and the ship shoots quickly into the sky,
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as their view of the base disappears behind clouds, and the whole
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planet appears to them as little more than a dot. As some
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droid-controlled ships begin to fire on them, they engage their
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hyperdrive and are gone.
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``That was very close,'' comments Thom. ``Let's drop out of
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hyperwarp, then approach the nearest allied planet and explain to them
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what has happened to Earth.''
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``That's just what I had in mind,'' agrees Bill. Chris slows the
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ship down, as Thom determines their exact location in the astromap
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database.
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After a few tense minutes, Thom announces ``The closest planet is
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Drizzt. Unfortunately Bill, my scans suggest that Drizzt is crawling
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with droids, just like Earth was.''
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Just then a squadron of small agile attack ships is detected by their
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sensors. The approaching ships are barely visible by the light of
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Drizzt's sun. They are mostly black with sharp streaks of silver
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running from their front to back. Each ship carries several huge red
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laser canons mounted on top and bottom. These ships have one purpose,
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to destroy.
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Dennis yells, ``They're firing at us!! Fortunately our shields are
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fully charged, and have held so far.''
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``Return fire!'' Bill commands.
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Two attacking ships explode moments after Dennis targets the attack
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ships and causes his weapons to release a few blasts.
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``What happened to the lights? Ouch!'' yells members of the crew. The
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remaining attack ships had simultaneously released a huge torrent of
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lasers and struck a direct hit on the ship's primary power reactor.
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Thom says in frustration, ``Our weapons likely won't be operational
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for the next hour.''
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``No! I won't give up so easily,'' responds Bill, ``Dennis, switch to
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secondary power. Are any of our weapons now at least partially
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operational?''
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``We still have two of our laser cannons'', replies Dennis, as he
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prepares to fire one of them. ``Bill, you may want to fire the other
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cannon.''
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A small explosion rocks the ship. ``Damn!'', yells Dennis, ``I had an
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enemy ship targeted and just as I fired my cannon failed!''
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``Use mine'', Bill replies. The lights re-appear, but are dim. ``Thom
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and Chris, how close are we to having enough power to engage our
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hyperdrive?''
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``Probably a few more minutes'', responds Chris as he puzzles over a
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holographic image that floats before him.
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As three enemy ships close in for a final assault, the ship activates
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its hyperdrive, and, as far as the three ships are concerned, is gone.
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The droids who control the remaining attack ships fly back to planet
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Drizzt.
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\chapter{Sundance Galaxy}
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Now that we survived the fast-paced present-tense first chapter, the
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author has elected to switch to the past tense.
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After the crew got some rest on board, and attended to their wounds,
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they partially repaired the ship. They then slowed from hyperspeed as
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they entered the Sundance galaxy.
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Several of the ship's top officers gathered together in the strategy
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room, a cool expansive high-ceiling room constructed in the
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ancient European style, with genuine stone floors and walls, and
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detailed woodwork decorating the walls. The holographic computer
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terminals, which looked out of place mounted on the walls, gave off a
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noticeable glow in the dim light.
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When Dennis, Thom, Chris, and a few other officers had arrived, Bill
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spoke up: ``We have lost all contact with the people or military
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forces of Earth. We don't know what happened to our people, if they
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are alive, or if they are being held captive. The worlds neighboring
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Earth appear to have met a similar fate. One thing is for
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certain---we must retake the Earth!''
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``We could try to convince some of the powers based at the planets in
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Sundance to help us,'' Dennis suggested. ``It would be in their
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interest, because their worlds might be attacked by the droids next.''
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Thom added, ``I made some preliminary scans, which suggest that perhaps
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the droids have not yet infiltrated Sundance.''
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``Repairs on our ship are proceeding well,'' noted Chris.
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Bill turned to the chief engineer, a short and clever man, and said
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``Good work on the repairs, Nathaniel.'' He paused, then said
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``Dennis, Thom, and Chris, meet me on the bridge.'' The meeting ended.
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``Thom, have you been able to establish communications with any
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of the leaders of nearby planets?'' inquired Bill.
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Thom responded affirmatively: ``Davitt, leader of an influential
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nearby planet named Orbis, has agreed to speak with us in one hour. In the
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past, Orbisians have been sympathetic to human problems; moreover,
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they have a historic distaste for droids.'' The hour passed
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uneventfully as repairs on the ship continued, and the crew did its
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best to review the place of Planet Orbis in recent Sundance Galaxy
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history. Finally, Davitt appeared on the viewscreen. The ship and
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Davitt communicated via a high-bandwidth encrypted link, which kept
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Davitt's location quite vague.
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What they saw on the screen did not look anything like a human.
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Daviss was quite a bit larger than a human, and wore a black and
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mirrored suit that allowed him to hover gently above the rough floor.
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His head hid behind a helmet that betrayed nothing of his facial
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expression while keeping him extremely comfortable in almost any
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atmosphere. Davitt began, his words automatically being translated to
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Earthlish, ``My secretary has informed me that an army of droids have
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attacked Earth. This is consistent with reports we've received from our
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intelligence officers.''
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``Orbis could be next,'' responded Bill, very much to the point.
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``A droid army once attacked us, and almost managed to imprison and
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slaughter much of our population. Fortunately, most of the planets of
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Sundance were united, and we were strong enough to repulse them. They
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must have retreated towards the Milky Way. At the time, we were not
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strong enough to follow them and destroy them completely.'' He paused
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for a moment, ``I have to wear this suit at all times because I was
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greviously injured when a spy droid attempted to assassinate me.
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These machines are terrible; they're a virus.''
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This recent-history lesson from Davitt served to chill Bill's crew, as
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their thoughts turned once again towards their families and questionable
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futures.
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``I will send forces to rendevous with you,'' said Davitt to Bill, then
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he terminated the communication. Davitt, the absolute leader of Orbis,
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contacted his favorite and most trusted general, ``Jerrisons, the time
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has come for us to launch a counterstrike against the droid armies. I
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have strong evidence that the droids have taken Earth; if so, they once
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again pose a supreme threat to us. We must strike now. Lead several
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rapid-action squadrons of our best fighters and rendevous with the
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Earth ship that you've no doubt detected by now.''
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After a few hours of preparation, four elite squadrons take flight,
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breaking through Orbis's gravitational pull, and begin flying towards
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the Earth ship. Half way into their journey, and without warning, the
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two lead ships are attacked!! ``Watch out fighter K713, there is an
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unidentified fighter approaching you from behind!'', warns Masas, one
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of the fighter pilots, ``I don't detect any life signs on board, so
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maybe it's a droid scout ship. Permission to destroy it?''
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``Granted'', replies the occupant of K713, as he opens fire.
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Div-div-div-div-div-boooom!!! yell the lasers of K713, as the
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attacking ship is fragmented into millions of pieces. ``Watch out
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Masas!'' yells the occupant of K713. But he is too late. Masas's
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ship is ripped apart under the assault of scorching merciless laser
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blasts, which issue from a second droid scout ship. The second ship
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then fires on K713, which spins and jerks as a laser blast glances off
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one of its stabilizer arrays. ``I've been hit,'' shouts the occupant
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of K713, as he sends out a distress signal. The droid closes in
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for termination.
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$$*\hspace{1in}*\hspace{1in}*$$
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Back on the ship, Bill was concerned. ``I wonder why it is taking
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Davitt's forces so long to reach us?''
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``I just detected a distress signal!'' replied Thom, ``It appears
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to be coming from one of Davitt's ships.''
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``There's been recent laser fire,'' chimes in Dennis, ``it looks
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like one of two point fighters have been destroyed, and the other,
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K713, is disabled. I recommend we beam the pilot of K713 out immediately.''
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``Do it!'', shouted Bill; the ordered propogated to the mysterious
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beaming officer, and, as a droid laser blast ripped apart K713, the
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pilot materialized in the beaming room, pleasantly surprised to be
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alive.
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``Dennis, try to destroy the droid fighter, before it attacks any more
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of Davitt's forces,'' commanded Bill.
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``Yes, sir.'' Dennis launched an expensive unmanned craft, which,
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within ten minutes, efficiently sought and destroyed the loan
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droid scout in a kamakaze attack that resulted in its own destruction.
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Within 20 minutes, Davitt's four squadrons came into view, illuminated
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by the distant warm glow of Sundance's trio of suns. The huge
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recently-saved occupant of K713 stepped slowly onto the bridge. ``I
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am Jerrisons. I owe you my life.''
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``It is honor to meet you,'' shouted Bill. Jerrisons's imposing
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stature and thick black battle armor made it difficult to avoid
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speaking loudly to him. ``Let's discuss our plans to regain Earth.''
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The two stepped off the bridge, followed by Thom and Dennis, and began
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to discuss the possibility of using the ship's hyperfield to transfer
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the Orbis fighter squadrons near Earth. The Orbis military had not
534
successfully deployed hyperdrives, because they chose to keep focused
535
on their home world and neighboring planets, instead of scattering
536
their attention throughout the Universe. Thus they were able to
537
temporarily stem off the droid invaders but were not able to arrest
538
their retreat. Earth, on the other hand, had the exact opposite
539
focus, and had quickly fallen to the droids, as ship's such as Bill's
540
would sadly discover as they returned home from fantastic voyages and
541
were imprisoned by the droids.
542
543
$$*\hspace{1in}*\hspace{1in}*$$
544
545
``Position your fighters at the following coordinates ...''
546
commanded Colum, the supreme droid master whose thin stature towered
547
over 9 feet high. He was the creator of the droid armies. He looked
548
somewhat human, despite his height, and that his smooth hard skin was
549
perfectly black.
550
551
``Yes master,'' answered the droid in an encrypted transmission that
552
is best described as an obedient monotone by those who frequently
553
listen to such transmissions. Colum, who was born several hundred
554
years ago in a distant ancient world, wanted to be present at this
555
supreme moment of victory. Finally, Earth and any planet near enough
556
to matter, would be completely under the control of the
557
self-replicating droid army that he had built over a hundred years ago
558
to help him liberate a new place for his people. All that remained
559
was to take care of the last of Earth's remaining annoying Space
560
Voyagers, the Stein Ship. Being here was one of the greatest risks
561
Colum had ever taken, but he needed to be certain of success.
562
563
Every so often a stroke of cosmicly bad luck visits a very powerful
564
being. It would soon visit Colum.
565
566
Colum knew that Bill's ship must pass near here in order to return to
567
Earth, because this was the only safe stargate into the Milky Way.
568
(Bill's ship could activate its hyperdrive anywhere, but had to exit
569
at a stargate.) Colum knew that Bill must come soon, as he had received
570
a signal from two of his droid scouts ship. I will finally have them,
571
Colum thought to himself as he rubbed his perfectly black
572
four-fingered hands together.
573
574
Bus, Colum's officer and friend for hundreds of years, sent a signal:
575
``Colum, there's an asteroid storm heading straight for you!!!!''
576
577
``What??'' Colum's ship was impacted repeatedly by a flurry of huge
578
and pebble-sized ancient rocks which, billions of years ago, had started
579
on just the trajectory that would eventually lead to a surprise attack
580
on Colum's ship.
581
582
Colum's ship was ripped apart as Colum let loose a last angry scream of
583
supreme anger and frustration.
584
585
Bus was unharmed, and realized this was his chance to take command of
586
the droid armies, which is something he had longed to do for many many
587
years. Bus brought his eight finger tips together and smiled. ``What
588
amazing luck.'' There was just this small matter of the renegade
589
human ship to take care of.
590
591
Bus opened a communication channel to the nearby droids, who had
592
stopped forming their trap when Colum's ship was destroyed: ``Colum
593
was terminated by an asteroid storm. Droid tactical squads, resume
594
moving into ambush formation.''
595
596
``Yes, yes, yes, ...'', responded the countless droid fighters, in
597
a lifeless monotone.
598
599
Bus extended his communication to all droids; his messages would
600
quickly propogate throughout the galaxy: ``Droids, in the last moment
601
before Colum terminated, he made me supreme leader of the droid
602
armies.'' The droids believed him, though what he said was a big fat
603
lusty lie.
604
605
\threestars
606
607
``We should exit the stargate very soon'', announced Chris, ``the
608
hyperdrive is functioning perfectly, and we can already begin to see
609
outside of the stargate.''
610
611
Bill turned to Thom, ``Jerrisons has told me some of what he knows
612
about how the droid army operates. Using only a skeletal force, they
613
enter a galaxy and conquer a distant sparsely populated planet or
614
moon, then spend a few years creating a droid army manufacturing
615
facility that turns the raw resources of their base into droid
616
fighters. They then have a constant supply of reinforcements. The Orbisians
617
were lucky to detect this operation in Sundance Galaxy and head it off
618
before it was too late.''
619
620
Thom responed, ``We however, did not. The droids must have established
621
such a base somewhere in our galaxy. I'll immediately set a crew to search
622
for where the droids have hidden their operations base. Perhaps they have
623
become lazy in hiding it, because they seem to have all but taken complete
624
control of our galaxy.''
625
626
As the star gate drew closer, Bill said, ``Jerrisons, make sure your
627
squadrons are ready for battle. It's likely that we will encounter
628
hostiles near the stargate. All fighter squadron, red alert!'' On
629
the viewscreen Bill could see a huge field of slowly-moving asteroids
630
on the other side of the stargate, along with a mysterious shiny
631
silver planet called Josh. Though many scout ships and probes had
632
landed on the planet, it was believed that none had ever returned nor
633
even sent back data.
634
635
The ship shook and vibrated firmly as Chris gently guided it out of
636
hyperspeed and through the stargate. Bill's forces entered the Milky
637
Way.
638
639
Bus sent an encrypted signal to his forces, ``Droids, wait until the
640
humans are half way through the asteroid belt before attacking. They
641
will fall into our red hot hands!''
642
643
``We are ready,'' the droids replied obediently.
644
645
\chapter{Tai Stargate}
646
``Thom, what have you found?'' asked Bill, ``Have our scans picked up
647
any droid ships?''
648
649
``Oh yes,'' responded Thom in a deep voice. ``They're everywhere,
650
though I can't get a visual on any of them. They are hiding in the
651
asteroid field.''
652
653
Bill replied, ``So, they mean to ambush us. I wonder if they expected us
654
to return with several squadrons of rapid-action Orbis fighters?''
655
656
From the bridge of Bill's ship, Jerrisons was in constant
657
communication with his squadrons, who had by now separated from the
658
ship and were carefully flying in tight formation very nearby. Dennis
659
had errected a powerful force shield near the ship, which protected
660
both it and Jerrisons's fighters, but which would reflect any weapons
661
Dennis fired back. They were relatively safe from laser fire as long
662
as the shield held out; unfortunately, the effect on their weapons was
663
like the effect of lodging a piece of lead in the chamber of a gun.
664
665
Bill tried to break the tension as he inquired, ``Thom, now that we
666
are a back in the Milky Way, has your team had any luck searching for
667
a droid manufacturing station.''
668
669
``Let me check.'' There was a pause. ``Maybe'', responded Thom,
670
``there's a planet called Roxy near the Tai Stargate. My team's
671
searches of Galaxynet suggests Roxy is the most likely home of a droid
672
manufacture point. I think Chris will agree that we could re-enter
673
the stargate and make a jump to Tai.''
674
675
``Let's wait,'' responded Bill. ``Dennis, raise shields around both
676
us and Jerrisons's forces. Thom, any sign of the exact location of our
677
'welcome party'?''
678
679
Bus sent the signal: ``Attack!!'' Laser bolts exploded from several
680
directions.
681
682
``Our shields are holding,'' reported Dennis.
683
684
``I could hyperwarp us towards Tai Stargate in only a few
685
minutes,'' added Chris.
686
687
``Droid ship 6K7, kamakazi into the Stein Ship,'' commanded Bus, as
688
he began to test his enemy's defenses.
689
690
``Yes,'' replied the droid occupant of 6K7 obediently as his ship
691
dived towards Bill's ship. Bus suspected correctly that Bill's ship's
692
shields would deflect energy bolts, but not a fighter ship.
693
Expendible pilots and a self-generating army provided a formidible
694
advantage against even the most cunning foe.
695
696
One of Jerrisons's fighters, the 7th Falcon, broke from formation, and
697
shot out from the shield, intercepted 6K7, and destroyed it, then took
698
heavy fire as he retreated. The integrity of 7th Falcon began to fail,
699
as it re-entered Bill's shields. The pilot ejected, then was beamed
700
aboard Bill's ship, just before the 7th Falcon imploded.
701
702
``Bill, I think the droid leader's is part of this ambush,'' shouted
703
Thom. ``And, I bet I've located it. What a brilliant stroke of luck.
704
''
705
706
Bill responded, ``Or a brilliant trap? I think not. Chris maneuver
707
our ship towards the coordinates Thom gives you. Dennis, prepare to
708
lower the shields and launch our photon disintegrators.''
709
710
The mood on the ship was tense. Combat always made Bill uneasy. His
711
crew's primary mission was exploration, not combat. They would much
712
rather understand the universe than save it.
713
714
``Fire!'' yelled Bill, as Dennis unleashed a torrent of photon
715
disintegrators at a nearby asteroid. As the asteroid turned to dust,
716
Bill's crew saw a terrifying black and flourescent orange ship appear
717
before them. It dwarfed Jerrisons's rapid fighter ships, but was in
718
turn dwarfed by the Stein Ship. Then it vanished, as the Stein
719
Ship raised its shields.
720
721
Dennis summarized the situation, ``Bill, that ship's activated some
722
sort of alien cloaking device. Even if we lower our shields, I
723
probably won't be able to lock any of our weapons onto it. If
724
Jerrisons's fighters start shooting wildly for it, they'll be picked
725
off by the other droids.'' Dennis stood up from his chair to say
726
something, but then changed his mind.
727
728
``Dennis, what is it?'' inquired Thom, concerned.
729
730
``Oh, nothing,'' answered Dennis, as if he had just awoken from a deep
731
sleep. Dennis escaped Thom's scrutiny as he began manipulating the
732
rainbow of holograms that danced before him.
733
734
Chris interrupted, ``Several droid ships are launching kamikazi
735
attacks on us.''
736
737
``Jerrison, reattach your fighters to our ship. Chris, get us out of
738
here! Let's go to Tai Stargate as soon as possible.''
739
740
The droid ships caused some damage as Chris piloted the ship towards
741
the stargate. Two of Jerrisons's fighters and their pilots were destroyed
742
defending the strategic retreat. ``I'm ready to activate hyperdrive,
743
Bill,'' said Chris, ``just give that sweet order.''
744
745
``It's has just been given,'' said Bill as the ship jerked then
746
fled through the stargate.
747
748
Bus's ship frustratedly decloaked. ``That was good thinking,'' praised
749
one of the best-constructed droids. This droid believed it also could
750
think.
751
752
``It was not good enough, I'm afraid,'' responded Bus in what might be
753
interpreted as a deep alien voice. ``I should have never considered
754
your suggestions during the battle. Perhaps droids can't be
755
programmed to really {\em want} victory.''
756
757
``What is the problem?'' inquired the droid.
758
759
``These remaining humans are probably going to destroy our droid
760
manufacturing sheds. If you would have monitored their Galaxynet
761
traffic you wouldn't have to ask. I only hope we can stop them. It
762
is a shame that Columbo's ship, which was destroyed, was equipped with
763
hyperdrive technology, but ours is not.''
764
765
\threestars
766
767
Chris broke the silence on board the bridge, ``We will arrive at Tai
768
Stargate very soon.'' The ship slowed as it approached the stargate
769
exit. Every eye on the bridge was fixed on the viewscreen as the ship
770
exited the stargate and Roxy came into view. They saw a redish planet
771
appear on the view screen. Chris didn't maneuver the ship too close,
772
in hopes that they cold avoid being detected. Roxy was not pretty;
773
she had a deadly atmosphere and her surface was colder than the
774
coldest glacier capped polar regions of Earth.
775
776
Bill wasted no time, ``This planet has ideal resources for a droid
777
manufacture plant, and our sensors seem to have found one. Thom,
778
Dennis, and I will beam down and try to sabotage the manufacturing
779
facility.'' Bill turned and said, ``Dennis and Thom, meet me in the
780
transporter room after you put your life-support suits on.''
781
782
Bill left the bridge, and passed Nathaniel on the way, ``Nathaniel,
783
you're going down to Roxy with us.'' Bill and Nathaniel both entered
784
the antigravity tube, dawn life-support suits and arrive at the
785
transporter room. ``Is everybody's suit operational?'' asks Bill, who
786
added, ``Enter the life-support test chamber.'' Thom, Dennis,
787
Nathaniel, and Bill entered a special room that simulated conditions
788
on the planet. It was imperative that if one of their sophisticated
789
bulky suits was not defective or not configured properly that the
790
mistake be discovered on the ship rather than off. Everbody's suits
791
checked out, and each person stepped, somewhat clumsily, to the
792
transporter pads.
793
794
Thom said, ``We should now exchange maximally secure public encryption
795
keys so that we will be able to communicate during the mission with
796
minimal chance of being understood.'' He then clumsily turned his
797
helmet enclosed head towards the beaming officer and asked, ``Are you
798
ready to beam us down to the planet's surface?''
799
800
``I'll be ready soon,'' replied the beaming officer as he manipulated
801
the multi-colored holograms that floated above his control panel, ``I
802
don't want to beam any of you into something solid, you know.''
803
804
Bill, Thom, Dennis, and Nathaniel prepared themselves mentally for
805
their critical mission as the beaming officer made a few last minute
806
calculations. Finally, all was ready. The beaming officer slowly
807
moved has hand through the hologram which caused one spatial dimension
808
of Bill's team to change ever so slightly. They vanished from view,
809
just as the square leaving Flatland vanished. With that spatial
810
dimension adjusted, the bizarre curvature allowed their usual position
811
to be almost immediately altered. It was good that the movement
812
occured so quickly, so that their bodies didn't begin to break down.
813
Transporting this way was OK for relatively small distances, but a
814
voyage across a galaxy would destroy the voyager.
815
816
The team soon appeared on Roxy's inhospitable surface. ``This place
817
is creepy,'' said Nathaniel as he surveyed the rocky red landscape of
818
the windswept freezing planet. The harsh expanse of scenery was
819
interupted by a large mostly featureless black buildings.
820
821
``Abe, can your hear me?'' inquired Bill, sending a signal back to
822
his ship.
823
824
Abe Burns, who was in charge of the ship in Bill's absense, replied
825
``Yes, your signal is very strong. We'll try to keep the transporter
826
system locked on, and the ship ready to jump through Tai Stargate.''
827
Abe, who stood just under six feet tall, was the same age as Dennis,
828
and had studied with him many years ago on Earth. A concerned look
829
swept across Abe's face. He was more comfortable and happier while
830
engaged in his research than when commanding a space exploration ship.
831
Nonetheless, Abe was a superb and brilliant officer and Bill felt he
832
could rely on him.
833
834
Back on the planet's surface, the landing party planned their next
835
move. Thom reported, ``My sensors suggest that the entire planet can
836
potentially activate a shield if danger is suspected. Thus if we move
837
the ship near the planet and launch a volley of weapons, they will
838
probably have no effect. Moreover, we'd be attacked by droid defense
839
ships, of which there must be many as this is where they are
840
manufactured.''
841
842
Nathaniel inquired, ``Why don't we simply beam a collection of
843
time-actived megabombs onto the surface of the planet?''
844
845
Dennis responded ``Extensive research has shown that they would probably
846
explode the moment their other spatial dimension is modified, and our
847
ship would be destroyed. Our equipment and bodies are able to stand a
848
slight bit of spatial distortion but it's far too risky to ask the
849
same of a megabomb. I'd love such a weapon, but alas.''
850
851
Thom then suggested, ``Nathaniel, if we can get you safely into one of
852
these buildings, do you think you could cause it to self destruct?''
853
854
Nathaniel responded, ``Sure. Not only that, but judging from the way
855
our scans suggest these buildings are connected, I might even be able
856
to start a carefully timed chain reaction, which would result in all
857
of the buildings exploding almost simultaneously. That might even rip
858
this god-forsaken planet apart!'' This last sentence was pronounced
859
with an almost disturbing sense of glee.
860
861
Dennis, Thom, and Bill were stunned. Bill asked, ``Do you think you
862
can really do that, Nathaniel?''
863
864
``Yes, I bet I can,'' affirmed Nathaniel, ``make sure our ship is
865
ready to get us off this planet quickly.''
866
867
Abe's studied some sensors on the bridge. He didn't like what he
868
saw. ``Bill, you might be in trouble. The planet's shield is
869
activating.''
870
871
``I'm surprised, but a few droids are headed our way. Somehow they
872
must have detected us. Try to keep our communications channel open,''
873
responded Bill. Unfortunately, Abe's reply could not be heard because
874
of Planet Roxy's shield. ``Take cover behind this ledge, which leads
875
to that building!'' commanded Bill. ``We'll hold off these droids as
876
we approach the building, then try to get inside so that Nathaniel can
877
work his magic. Thom, keep trying to contact our ship. Dennis, take
878
out as many droids as you can.''
879
880
Bolts of energy flared by Dennis's head, as he peared through his
881
hand-held shield over the ledge, took aim, lowered the shield for a
882
moment, and fired. A droid exploded in flames just as his shield
883
re-appeared in time to protect him from another volley. ``That was a
884
little too close,'' whispered Dennis as he became more cautious in his
885
defense of the group and pulled from his pack his most advanced
886
weaponry systems.
887
888
Soon Nathaniel, Bill, and Thom arrived at an entrance to the large
889
black building, as Dennis continued to set up various high-tech
890
defenses to hold of the droids. The entrance to the building was
891
guarded by a black force shield, which was similar to but much
892
stronger than the one that had imprisoned them on earth long ago.
893
Thom tried directly to open the door via the control panel but was
894
unsuccessful.
895
896
``We're heavily armed. Let's just blast the door away,'' suggested
897
Nathaniel, ``Thom, stand back.'' Nathaniel blasted away at the door
898
several times, then Bill and Thom both joined in for a moment. The
899
dark entrance didn't appear to change, but Thom informed them that
900
its strength had diminished approximately 10 percent.
901
902
Dennis noticed the situation and yelled ``Stand way back and raise
903
your body shields!'' For a moment he turned from systematically
904
picking of the droids, who were by now mostly pinned down in some
905
cracks in the ground, adjusted his angry black and silver rifle, and
906
fired one extended red bolt of energy which sailed slowly through the
907
scorched atmosphere and injected itself into the portal. Dennis
908
turned back to continue laying down defenses as the portal disolved.
909
``I've got you guys covered out here. You can enter the building.
910
I'll let you know if the situation changes or if the droids
911
send serious reforcements.''
912
913
``Let's move in,'' agreed Bill, as he led Thom and Nathaniel into the
914
mysterious building. As the three passed through the door they
915
entered a very dark corridor whose lights had all broken because the
916
door had been ripped apart so badly that much of the atmosphere in the
917
building had violently escaped. Fortunately their space suits were
918
euipped with various lights that their face shields enhanced.
919
They turned left and proceeded down the corridor. After walking for
920
several minutes, worried at every moment that they'll be attacked,
921
Thom says: ``This is strange. My sensor suggests faint signs of
922
life nearby. Perhaps we are somehow throwing off the readings,
923
or there is a native life form on this planet that thrives in this
924
building.'' The corridor turns right and they continue to follow
925
it.
926
927
As they pass two heavy black force doors, Nathaniel boasts quietly,
928
``After I get through with the control room we'll be able to catch a
929
glance in there on our way out.'' Finally, ahead on the right, they
930
spy what must be the control room. Four tense droids are just visible
931
inside, and there is no door.
932
933
Thom says to Bill, ``Droids don't seem very intelligent. Perhaps if
934
we make a noise they'll all come out and we can shoot them. They're
935
expecting us anyways.'' As Thom speaks, his sounds are completely
936
muffled by his helmet. The sounds are received by a small microphone,
937
encrypted, and broadcast via a weak signal that is usually lost to an
938
eavesdropper in the ambient radio waves.
939
940
Dennis's signal is a little stronger---``Bill, this is Dennis. The
941
situation out here is becoming critical! At first the droids were
942
easy to hold off, but they seem to be quickly adapting. I've only
943
able to maintain our defense this long because of our superior weapons
944
technology. You're team better hurry up. Also, I've not been able to
945
re-establish communications with Abe.''
946
947
Bill had little time to consider other possibilities and decided to
948
follow Thom's plan. They're shots exploded towards the control room.
949
As the smoked died down, there was no sign that the droids had
950
relinquished their position in the control room, which deeply puzzled
951
Thom. Suddenly a searing laser bolt ripped through the air from
952
behind, and burned Nathaniel's right arm. Thom and Bill returned fire
953
as the approaching Droid tossed itself through the air shooting two
954
laser pistols, an automated version of the Hong Kong action superstar
955
Chow Yun Fat. A cursed escaped Thom's lips as he dodged to the
956
ground. Time slowed as laser fire exploded everwhere. At last the
957
droid's shocking technique succumbed to Thom and Bill's superior
958
weapons. It shut off.
959
960
A similar scene ensued as the three desperately fought for the control
961
room. As droids jumped through the air firing, the droids were
962
eventually merciless ripped apart by Bill and Thom's scatter guns.
963
Nathaniel swore the droids fought for their ``life''. ``Something is
964
wrong, very wrong,'' he commented, as he began his work on the master
965
control center. Just as promised, even with his right arm badly
966
burned, he was able to shut down power to the droids in the building.
967
He worked further on engineering a chain reaction that would hopefully
968
destroy the planet while also allowing them to re-establish
969
communication with Abe and beam to safety. After many very long tense
970
minutes, Nathaniel at last announced: ``I'm done. Once I set the
971
reaction in motion there is no turning back. Probably this will allow
972
us to contact Abe and get out of here. Just give the order Bill.''
973
974
A worried look hung to Bill's face as he reassuringly spoke his
975
trademark: ``It's given.''
976
977
Nathaniel moved his hands innocently, there was a warm buzz, and It
978
began. ``This planet will be history within 15 minutes,'' said
979
Nathaniel solemly, ``let's hope that we aren't also.''
980
981
Just then, a pale but strong chinese woman stumbled out of the hallway
982
and into the control room. She coughed and spasmed as she breathed
983
the thin air, then wrapped her arms around her slime-covered unclothed
984
body. Looks of astonishment and fear mixed with guilt escaped the
985
space suits of the three, as the single word ``help'' escaped her
986
lips.
987
988
``Abe here. The planet's breaking apart and its shield is gone. We
989
have a fix on you. Permission to beam you out of there?
990
991
Instead of hearing the expected ``It's already been given'', Abe
992
received a nervous reply, ``Five to beam back---we'll help you to get
993
a lock on the human near us. Have our best medic there!'' In under a
994
minute, Bill, Thom, Nathaniel, Dennis, and the mysterious woman
995
appeared in the transporter room. The ship jumped into Tai
996
stargate, safely escaping the huge explosion that followed.
997
998
999
1000
1001
1002
\chapter{Kelly Wong}
1003
[[This is a new chapter that explains the droids method of using their
1004
prey, and also life on board the starship. Kelly Wong is the name
1005
of the human that they found at the droid manufacturing world.]]
1006
1007
1008
\chapter{Deceived}
1009
[[I'm reading page
1010
file:/home/was/papers/fiction/droids/scans/small_danger_of_droids044.jpg]]
1011
1012
\chapter{Escape}
1013
1014
\chapter{The Final Battle}
1015
1016
1017
\bibliography{biblio}
1018
\end{document}
1019
1020
1021
1022
1023
NOTES:
1024
1025
[[Plot spoilers: They'll set the autodestruct system up and activate
1026
it. This will open all of the doors. Some crazed people will emerge
1027
and then die from the lack of atmosphere, just as they are leaving the
1028
building. It will destroy places on the other side of the planet.
1029
Abe will come back. They'll beam out.... disturbed.]]
1030
1031
1032
[[Upcomming plot spoiler: Where are all of the humans? Are they dead?
1033
Why were Bill and the others captured and not killed the first time?
1034
Why are the droids getting SMARTER? Because they encase the humans
1035
(and other life forms they've previously captured) in little prisons
1036
nearby and use them to help make decisions, slowly getting smarter as
1037
the expert system ``learns'' about its enemy with the help of the
1038
human problem solvers. Bill and the others discover this just before
1039
the planet blows, but after it is too late to stop the explosion. An
1040
untold number of human slaves, who are encased in the droid
1041
manufacturing stations, are destroyed in the explosion. Chilling
1042
thought---maybe the many droid ships that Dennis has destroyed so far
1043
contained a human ``mind''. Human shields. The reason the humans
1044
aren't all located on Earth is because of communications lag time.
1045
This will make the rest of the book that much more difficult to write,
1046
and the thought process of the enemy will become increasingly
1047
chilling.]]
1048
1049
1050
1051
[ danger\_of\_droids\_033.jpg ?? goes for a bit, then resumes with
1052
danger\_of\_droids020.jpg, I think. I'm changing details and
1053
order a lot at this point, so it makes more sense.]
1054
1055
1056