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Author: William A. Stein
1\documentclass[12pt]{book}
2\title{{\Huge\sc$\overline{\rm The\, Space\, Wars}$}\\
3.\\
4\LARGE\bf\sf \underline{Destiny of the Droids}}
5\author{William A. Stein}
6
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8  \begin{center}
9      * * *
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11}
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14\begin{document}
15\maketitle
16\tableofcontents
17
18\chapter*{Preface}
19I wrote the original version of this book when I was ten years old.  I
20am presently rewriting and expanding on the original version.
21
22If you like this book, let me know ({\tt [email protected]}).  If
23not, stop reading, and don't bother with criticism; I'm writing this
24because it makes me feel good, in much the same way that, e.g., going
25on a brisk walk does.  I'm not seeking criticism at this point,
26because I'm not interested in becoming a professional fiction author,
27as I already have a professional career that I love.
28
29{\em A note on intellectual property:} The author, William A.\ Stein,
30of this work gives anyone the right to read and distribute this book
31in any form they choose so long as the writing is attributed to
32William Stein and this preface remains attached.  In particular, no
33monetary compensation is requested.  Moreover, anyone can take the
34text and extend it, if for some weird reason they want to, again under
35the condition that this preface remain attached.  However, the
36extended text must also be made freely available to everyone.
37
38\chapter{Droid Armies}
39Crisp cold air sweeps across a gray sky.  A sturdy black building sits
40in the middle of a huge red and rocky area on a freezing barren
41planet.  Numerous other identical menacing buildings are stationed
42across this dreadful landscape.  Each contains something that only the
43recently appointed president, Columbo, and a few of his trusted
45
46\threestars
47
48Bill Stein recently celebrated his 25th birthday.  He is about five feet
49ten inches tall, has black hair, and a medium build.  At the moment, he
50is standing on a barren planet, near a dark precipice.  He thinks, then
51looks at his watch, which, for a very brief moment, reads 2185,
52August 16, 1:25, 16 and 28/1000000 seconds.''  Upon seeing the time,
53he pulls a gadget from his pocket and speaks into it.  This is Captain
54Bill Stein on Sector 4.  Bring me back from this scout mission.  It's getting
55cold out here.''  In fact, the cold can't touch him in his heated
56space suit.
57
58Far away, floating in space, the beaming office replies: OK.  I'll
59beam you aboard the ship.''  The beaming officer was quite unusual and
60harbored a deeply veiled past.  In less than a second, Bill
61materializes aboard the ship.  He removes his protective suit, exits
62the beaming room, and enters a hallway where he is met by a 6 foot 2
63inch tall man with fluffy brown hair and sharp features.  Together
64they step into an elevating room and are pulled through an antigravity
65tube.  As their journey ends and the tube opens, Thom steps onto the
66bridge.
67
68Thom is Bill's best friend, and like Bill he is 25 years old.
69He stands just over six feet tall in front of his monitoring
70and communications array and in a few moments yells Bill, look at
71the scanning display!''
72
73What exactly do you see?'' Bill inquires.
74
75A blip,'' Thom excitedly answers.  This is Thom's 6th mission.
76
77There's something out there and I want to know what it is and where
78it is going.  What is its present course?'' Bill asks carefully.
79
80It's on a direct course to intercept us.  I may be able to bring up
81a visual of the blip using our ship's telescopes'', Thom suggests.
82
83Try,'' Bill agrees.  Several barely-visible specs appear in the
84middle of a large black viewscreen.  They wiggle a little, indicating
85rapid movement.  Thom, try to zoom in further and enhance.''
86
87The view on the screen barely changes, as Thom studies his instruments.
88Bill, those are sophisticated space ships, and they do not look friendly.
89Their weapons are fully charged.''  Thom fixes a concerned eye on
90Bill, I suggest we arm our lasers as a safety precaution.''  The
91mood on the bridge becomes tense.  Officers to the left and right
92of Bill try to appear to relax as they study their consoles while
93nervously glancing at the viewscreen.
94
95I agree.''  Bill pauses, then turns to an officer nearer the view
96screen and adds, Dennis, arm our weapons array.''  Dennis is 24
97years old and 5 feet 9 inches tall.  If anyone really knows Bill, it
98is Dennis.  Though Bill is captain of the ship, and Dennis is
99devastating in combat situations, without Dennis's financial wizardry,
100the ship would never have been allowed just the right crew.
101
102Laser's armed'', Dennis replies as his hands dance in the air amongst
103a forbiddingly colored hologram that hovers in front of his chair.
104
105A flash of light appears on the viewscreen.  A single thought leaves
106each officer's mind as rapidly as it arrives: Will I be incinerated in a
107moment?  The bridge shakes enough to knock Bill and Thom to their
108knees as a bolt of energy cuts into the ship's launch pad!
109
110Fire lasers!'' Bill yells.  The air vibrates slightly as Dennis
111releases laser cannon fire at ten approaching ships.  The viewscreen
112shows three fighter ships explode, as the shields on the other seven
113re-modulate in order to deflect Bill's lasers.
114
115I suggest I try to establish communication with them'', suggests Thom.
116
117Go ahead and try'', approves Bill.  Thom tries, but has no luck.  The
118enemy ignores all hails.  Frustrated and worried as the remaining
119seven ships speed closer, Bill orders Ready the ship to jump to
120light speed.''
121
122All right'' responds the lead cruise controller, a clever blonde
123haired young man named Chris, who sits to Bill's left.  The controller
124and three nearby officers move their hands carefully above a smooth
125panel admists rotating holographic images.  The ship hums and vibrates
126as the hyperdrive engines are activated.  Just as the ship begins to
127jump to light speed, enemy laser fire storms all around damaging the
128hyperdrive.  Captain, we're not going to be able to jump to light
129speed for a while.  I will try to assess the damage caused by those
130last blasts.''
131
132How long do you think it will take?'' Bill demands.
133
134It will probably take a few hours,'' replies the cruise controller
135slowly, keenly aware that he might not live more than a few more
136minutes.
137
138We'll just have to fight them off'' shouts Bill; keep firing
139lasers Dennis, Thom, and Chris!''  He mentions manuever alpha
140bravo'' to the cruise controller.
141
142As the battle rages on, it rapidly becomes clear that Dennis is the
143best shooter.  A total of six enemy ships fall by his hand.  After a
144while, it seems that all of the enemy ships are gone, as the ship
145speeds seemingly unpursued across the deeply empty reaches of space.
146
147Bill congrulates his crew: Great shooting Dennis!''  Excellent
148work repairing our light-speed hyperdrive, Chris.''  Then Bill thinks
149fleetingly about his wife Tasha, who was many light years away, who
150he has not seen in several months.
151
152A few tense hours pass, in which the crew carefully monitors for
153attack craft, and does their best to hide the weakened ship behind
154floating debri.  Finally, Chris announces The hyperdrive should
155now be fully operational.''
156
157Great!'' replies Bill, and then adds solemly, Let's go home.''
158
159Just give the order, Bill'', Chris says excitedly.
160
161It's given.''  As the ship enters an open expanse of space, it hums
162and vibrates, and the hyperdrive safely jumps the ship to near light
163speed.  For a moment every living thing on the ship is mildly
164disoriented, and the next moment the only change is that the view out
165the window is bizarrely distorted.  Several hours pass, and then Chris
166slows the ship down, as most of the crew's home world appears, as a
167dot, on the viewscreen.
168
169It is fabulous to see Earth again,'' comments Thom, When we were
170attacked we fought well; I don't think we can easily be captured.''
171
172The ship rapidly approaches Earth, shooting through space at sublight
173speeds that defy comprehension.  As the planet grows to encompass most
174of the viewscreen, Bill thinks for a moment about his parents below,
175and wishes that his wife Tasha were also below instead of off on a
176research mission at Dinesta.  As the ship breaks through the
177automosphere and glides towards Earth, a landing area appears,
178imprisoned on three sides by water.  Thom notices that the fourth side
179is populated with an organized large number of people and asks, What
180is going on down there?''
181
182I don't have the slightest idea'', Bill answers.  Chris, slow our
183landing.  Thom, run a scan on the people who appeared armed with laser
184cannons.''
185
186Moments later, Thom yells in surprise: Those 'guys' are droids!''
187
188They must be somehow connected with the droids that I discovered in
189the sheds on that planet's surface,'' realizes Bill.
190
191The ship jerks, knocking Bill and Thom temporarily off balance.
192What just caught us?'' asks Dennis.
193
194Some kind of tractor beam'', responds Thom.
195
196Before Bill can say ready lasers'', the ship is locked onto the
197landing pad, and the weapons array is covered by special mirrors, that
198are usually placed there to prevent accidents, but in this case make
199the ships weapons all but useless.
200
201Let's try to break free'', Bill cries.  Chris tries, but the ship
202is held fast.
203
204Let's try to shoot the droids'', suggests Dennis.
205
206No -- with the safety deflectors over our lasers, we'll only harm
207ourselves,'' warns Bill.
208
209Red lights flash as the ships goes into battle alert.  Droids break
210through an entrance and begin boarding the huge ship.  Some are ripped
211apart by laser fire from crew members, but soon the droids produce
212shields which effectively protect them.
213
214Feeling betrayed by the security of their home world, eventually,
215Bill, Thom, Dennis, and Chris all find themselves being forceably
216escorted off their ship.  The rest of the crew is detained onboard by
217ever patient and watchful droids.
218
219Why are you here?'' inquires Bill as he and the others are moved
220very quickly away from the ship in a carefully sealed rectangular
221black vehicle.  The droids take no notice.  The vehicle connects
222solidly with a featureless grey building, and unloads its human cargo.
223The human-looking expressionless droids lock our space travelers up in
224a medium size featureless cell.  The cell walls are smooth and grey,
225there is a bench against a wall, and a small glowing force-field door,
226through which nothing can be seen.
227
228Thom, just moments ago you said you didn't think we could be beaten
229or even captured'', says Dennis in frustration.
230
231Thom stoically replies, we are not dead yet.''
232
233We are in a big mess,'' Chris notes. We have to escape and get help
234from one of the allied planets.''
235
236We had better do so,'' agrees Bill, as a droid approached the
237force-field door of their cell.
238
239Be silent'', says the guard in a monotone voice from behind the
240door.  The sound of the guard's footsteps suggest that he walks
241several yards directly away from the door.
242
243I have a great idea!'' announces Bill very quitely.
244
245What is it?'' whispers Tom.
246
247Well, we could probably make it past several of the guards...'', he
248lowers his voice even more, if we could re-program one of the other
249droids.  We'll make a lot of noise to draw the guard's attention.  It
250will come in here to shut us up, and then Dennis will take him out.
251Dennis, I trust you were able to smuggle off of our ship something
252that could be used as a weapon?''
253
254Of course.'' Dennis confirms, with a twinkle in his eye as he
255taps an almost imperceptible bulge in the corner of his pantleg.
256
257At Bill's signal, Chris, Thom, and Dennis begin talking, then
258yelling loudly, and even appear to be fighting each other at one
259point.  The guard droid, who had warned them before, appears stoically
260at the door and says Be silent.''  A torrent of loud curses echo
261back from the small prison.  The guard, devoid of fear, follows its
262programming; it shuts down the force door.  It enters the room, then the
263force door is re-activated by another guard.
264
265Dennis springs from behind at the guard, brandishing nothing but a
266thin diamond wrench, and makes a quick incision from behind.  The
267guard stops in midstep and falls to the ground.  Everyone is silent;
268they must work quickly.
269
270Thom whispers, Assuming Dennis hasn't damaged this droid too much,
271I'll try to re-program it so that it will attack the other droids when
272they least expect it.  It's too bad we don't have more time to study
273these droids, so we could perhaps learn their purpose.''  Because the
274droid looks so human, it is disconcerting to see Thom open various
275panels and beginning hacking through, then reprogramming the mind of
276the droid, using a holographic interface that he is able to produce.
277
278Hurry up'' Bill whispers in a concerned voice, I hear footsteps.
279The other droids will soon become suspicious.''
280
281The force door opens, revealing two droids, just as Thom's droid
282stands tall and announces in a convincing monotone, spoken in the
283droid's own encrypted language, that the prisoners are under control,
284because he has just administered a sedative to each of them.  Thom
285feigns to look tired, and Bill, Dennis, and Chris follow suit.  As the
286droids turn and begin to leave, Thom's guard droid fires poinpoint red
287lasers from each thumb, which land squarely in the backs of each of
288the other two droids.  They stop moving, then fall to the ground.
289
290Amazing work'' congrulates Bill.  The four jump through the force
291door and into a hallway of Building 7, a building they all got to know
292well during their early years of training.  We're near what used to
293be a weapons storage room; let's check to see if it still is.''  Bill
294leads the way, followed by Chris, Dennis, and Thom and his droid.
295
296They quickly find the storage room, while appearing to avoid
297detection.  The storage room is locked by a black force shield.
298Because he is on the outside of the force shield, Thom has little
299difficulty breaking through it using a backdoor'' that he installed
300while in training here a few years ago.  The force shield dissipates,
301revealing stocks of weapons lined up against the walls and a
302suspicious and heavily armed droid in the center of the room, who
303immediately begins to fire as our four fighters jump away from the
304door.  Last blasts darken and rip apart the side of the hallway
305opposite the door.
306
307Surrender or die'' the attacking droid threatens as he emerges from
308the weapons room.  Just as our fighters are about to run, Thom's droid
309makes short order of the attacker with a quick small red laser blast
310from his right thumb.  Moments later, our fighters are armed to the teeth.
311They charge down a corridor, with hopes of amassing enough power
312to retake their ship and escape.
313
314Watch out behind you, Bill! Duck and fire!'' screams Thom.  A laser
315blast barely misses Bill, resulting in a mild burn on his arm, as he
316fires back hitting nothing.  Shots from Thom hit the attacking droid,
317causing it to explode.
318
319Eventually, a systematics search leads the crew to the droid's command
320and control center, which is located in a small tower mounted on the
321top of Building 7.  With some difficulty, they manage to take the
322tower.  Though Thom doesn't understand the encrypted wireless protocol
323used by the droids to communicate, he can send messages using it via
324his loyal droid, who has managed to escape harm so far.  Thom sends
325out a message using the droid's encrypted wireless frequency telling
326all droids that they must go to landing strip 14 immediately!''
327Even his own droid finds itself compelled to obey.
328
329As Thom, Dennis, Chris, and Bill reboard their ship, they find their
330crew mostly unharmed and in the process of mounting a rescue effort,
331and have successfully disabled the ship landing constraints.  When
332they reach the bridge, Chris says, The controls appear to be intact.
333I think I can get us out of here. Just give the order, Bill.''
334
335It's given,'' says Bill, and the ship shoots quickly into the sky,
336as their view of the base disappears behind clouds, and the whole
337planet appears to them as little more than a dot.  As some
338droid-controlled ships begin to fire on them, they engage their
339hyperdrive and are gone.
340
341That was very close,'' comments Thom.  Let's drop out of
342hyperwarp, then approach the nearest allied planet and explain to them
343what has happened to Earth.''
344
345That's just what I had in mind,'' agrees Bill.  Chris slows the
346ship down, as Thom determines their exact location in the astromap
347database.
348
349After a few tense minutes, Thom announces The closest planet is
350Drizzt.  Unfortunately Bill, my scans suggest that Drizzt is crawling
351with droids, just like Earth was.''
352
353Just then a squadron of small agile attack ships is detected by their
354sensors.  The approaching ships are barely visible by the light of
355Drizzt's sun.  They are mostly black with sharp streaks of silver
356running from their front to back. Each ship carries several huge red
357laser canons mounted on top and bottom.  These ships have one purpose,
358to destroy.
359
360Dennis yells, They're firing at us!!  Fortunately our shields are
361fully charged, and have held so far.''
362
363Return fire!'' Bill commands.
364
365Two attacking ships explode moments after Dennis targets the attack
366ships and causes his weapons to release a few blasts.
367
368What happened to the lights? Ouch!'' yells members of the crew.  The
369remaining attack ships had simultaneously released a huge torrent of
370lasers and struck a direct hit on the ship's primary power reactor.
371
372Thom says in frustration, Our weapons likely won't be operational
373for the next hour.''
374
375No! I won't give up so easily,'' responds Bill, Dennis, switch to
376secondary power.  Are any of our weapons now at least partially
377operational?''
378
379We still have two of our laser cannons'', replies Dennis, as he
380prepares to fire one of them.  Bill, you may want to fire the other
381cannon.''
382
383A small explosion rocks the ship.  Damn!'', yells Dennis, I had an
384enemy ship targeted and just as I fired my cannon failed!''
385
386Use mine'', Bill replies.  The lights re-appear, but are dim. Thom
387and Chris, how close are we to having enough power to engage our
388hyperdrive?''
389
390Probably a few more minutes'', responds Chris as he puzzles over a
391holographic image that floats before him.
392
393As three enemy ships close in for a final assault, the ship activates
394its hyperdrive, and, as far as the three ships are concerned, is gone.
395The droids who control the remaining attack ships fly back to planet
396Drizzt.
397
398\chapter{Sundance Galaxy}
399Now that we survived the fast-paced present-tense first chapter, the
400author has elected to switch to the past tense.
401
402After the crew got some rest on board, and attended to their wounds,
403they partially repaired the ship.  They then slowed from hyperspeed as
404they entered the Sundance galaxy.
405
406Several of the ship's top officers gathered together in the strategy
407room,  a cool expansive high-ceiling room constructed in the
408ancient European style, with genuine stone floors and walls, and
409detailed woodwork decorating the walls.  The holographic computer
410terminals, which looked out of place mounted on the walls, gave off a
411noticeable glow in the dim light.
412
413When Dennis, Thom, Chris, and a few other officers had arrived, Bill
414spoke up: We have lost all contact with the people or military
415forces of Earth.  We don't know what happened to our people, if they
416are alive, or if they are being held captive.  The worlds neighboring
417Earth appear to have met a similar fate.  One thing is for
418certain---we must retake the Earth!''
419
420We could try to convince some of the powers based at the planets in
421Sundance to help us,'' Dennis suggested.  It would be in their
422interest, because their worlds might be attacked by the droids next.''
423
424Thom added, I made some preliminary scans, which suggest that perhaps
425the droids have not yet infiltrated Sundance.''
426
427Repairs on our ship are proceeding well,'' noted Chris.
428
429Bill turned to the chief engineer, a short and clever man, and said
430Good work on the repairs, Nathaniel.'' He paused, then said
431Dennis, Thom, and Chris, meet me on the bridge.'' The meeting ended.
432
433Thom, have you been able to establish communications with any
434of the leaders of nearby planets?'' inquired Bill.
435
436Thom responded affirmatively: Davitt, leader of an influential
437nearby planet named Orbis, has agreed to speak with us in one hour.  In the
438past, Orbisians have been sympathetic to human problems; moreover,
439they have a historic distaste for droids.''  The hour passed
440uneventfully as repairs on the ship continued, and the crew did its
441best to review the place of Planet Orbis in recent Sundance Galaxy
442history.  Finally, Davitt appeared on the viewscreen.  The ship and
443Davitt communicated via a high-bandwidth encrypted link, which kept
444Davitt's location quite vague.
445
446What they saw on the screen did not look anything like a human.
447Daviss was quite a bit larger than a human, and wore a black and
448mirrored suit that allowed him to hover gently above the rough floor.
449His head hid behind a helmet that betrayed nothing of his facial
450expression while keeping him extremely comfortable in almost any
451atmosphere.  Davitt began, his words automatically being translated to
452Earthlish, My secretary has informed me that an army of droids have
453attacked Earth.  This is consistent with reports we've received from our
454intelligence officers.''
455
456Orbis could be next,'' responded Bill, very much to the point.
457
458A droid army once attacked us, and almost managed to imprison and
459slaughter much of our population.  Fortunately, most of the planets of
460Sundance were united, and we were strong enough to repulse them.  They
461must have retreated towards the Milky Way.  At the time, we were not
462strong enough to follow them and destroy them completely.''  He paused
463for a moment, I have to wear this suit at all times because I was
464greviously injured when a spy droid attempted to assassinate me.
465These machines are terrible; they're a virus.''
466
467This recent-history lesson from Davitt served to chill Bill's crew, as
468their thoughts turned once again towards their families and questionable
469futures.
470
471I will send forces to rendevous with you,'' said Davitt to Bill, then
472he terminated the communication.  Davitt, the absolute leader of Orbis,
473contacted his favorite and most trusted general, Jerrisons, the time
474has come for us to launch a counterstrike against the droid armies.  I
475have strong evidence that the droids have taken Earth; if so, they once
476again pose a supreme threat to us.  We must strike now.  Lead several
477rapid-action squadrons of our best fighters and rendevous with the
478Earth ship that you've no doubt detected by now.''
479
480After a few hours of preparation, four elite squadrons take flight,
481breaking through Orbis's gravitational pull, and begin flying towards
482the Earth ship.  Half way into their journey, and without warning, the
483two lead ships are attacked!!  Watch out fighter K713, there is an
484unidentified fighter approaching you from behind!'', warns Masas, one
485of the fighter pilots, I don't detect any life signs on board, so
486maybe it's a droid scout ship.  Permission to destroy it?''
487
488Granted'', replies the occupant of K713, as he opens fire.
489Div-div-div-div-div-boooom!!! yell the lasers of K713, as the
490attacking ship is fragmented into millions of pieces.  Watch out
491Masas!'' yells the occupant of K713.  But he is too late.  Masas's
492ship is ripped apart under the assault of scorching merciless laser
493blasts, which issue from a second droid scout ship.  The second ship
494then fires on K713, which spins and jerks as a laser blast glances off
495one of its stabilizer arrays.  I've been hit,'' shouts the occupant
496of K713, as he sends out a distress signal.   The droid closes in
497for termination.
498$$*\hspace{1in}*\hspace{1in}*$$
499
500
501Back on the ship, Bill was concerned.  I wonder why it is taking
502Davitt's forces so long to reach us?''
503
504I just detected a distress signal!'' replied Thom, It appears
505to be coming from one of Davitt's ships.''
506
507There's been recent laser fire,'' chimes in Dennis, it looks
508like one of two point fighters have been destroyed, and the other,
509K713, is disabled.  I recommend we beam the pilot of K713 out immediately.''
510
511Do it!'', shouted Bill; the ordered propogated to the mysterious
512beaming officer, and, as a droid laser blast ripped apart K713, the
513pilot materialized in the beaming room, pleasantly surprised to be
514alive.
515
516Dennis, try to destroy the droid fighter, before it attacks any more
517of Davitt's forces,'' commanded Bill.
518
519Yes, sir.'' Dennis launched an expensive unmanned craft, which,
520within ten minutes, efficiently sought and destroyed the loan
521droid scout in a kamakaze attack that resulted in its own destruction.
522
523Within 20 minutes, Davitt's four squadrons came into view, illuminated
524by the distant warm glow of Sundance's trio of suns.  The huge
525recently-saved occupant of K713 stepped slowly onto the bridge.  I
526am Jerrisons.  I owe you my life.''
527
528It is honor to meet you,'' shouted Bill.  Jerrisons's imposing
529stature and thick black battle armor made it difficult to avoid
530speaking loudly to him.  Let's discuss our plans to regain Earth.''
531The two stepped off the bridge, followed by Thom and Dennis, and began
532to discuss the possibility of using the ship's hyperfield to transfer
534successfully deployed hyperdrives, because they chose to keep focused
535on their home world and neighboring planets, instead of scattering
536their attention throughout the Universe.  Thus they were able to
537temporarily stem off the droid invaders but were not able to arrest
538their retreat.  Earth, on the other hand, had the exact opposite
539focus, and had quickly fallen to the droids, as ship's such as Bill's
540would sadly discover as they returned home from fantastic voyages and
541were imprisoned by the droids.
542
543$$*\hspace{1in}*\hspace{1in}*$$
544
545Position your fighters at the following coordinates ...''
546commanded Colum, the supreme droid master whose thin stature towered
547over 9 feet high.  He was the creator of the droid armies.  He looked
548somewhat human, despite his height, and that his smooth hard skin was
549perfectly black.
550
551Yes master,'' answered the droid in an encrypted transmission that
552is best described as an obedient monotone by those who frequently
553listen to such transmissions.  Colum, who was born several hundred
554years ago in a distant ancient world, wanted to be present at this
555supreme moment of victory.  Finally, Earth and any planet near enough
556to matter, would be completely under the control of the
557self-replicating droid army that he had built over a hundred years ago
558to help him liberate a new place for his people.  All that remained
559was to take care of the last of Earth's remaining annoying Space
560Voyagers, the Stein Ship.  Being here was one of the greatest risks
561Colum had ever taken, but he needed to be certain of success.
562
563Every so often a stroke of cosmicly bad luck visits a very powerful
564being.  It would soon visit Colum.
565
566Colum knew that Bill's ship must pass near here in order to return to
567Earth, because this was the only safe stargate into the Milky Way.
568(Bill's ship could activate its hyperdrive anywhere, but had to exit
569at a stargate.)  Colum knew that Bill must come soon, as he had received
570a signal from two of his droid scouts ship.  I will finally have them,
571Colum thought to himself as he rubbed his perfectly black
572four-fingered hands together.
573
574Bus, Colum's officer and friend for hundreds of years, sent a signal:
575Colum, there's an asteroid storm heading straight for you!!!!''
576
577What??'' Colum's ship was impacted repeatedly by a flurry of huge
578and pebble-sized ancient rocks which, billions of years ago, had started
579on just the trajectory that would eventually lead to a surprise attack
580on Colum's ship.
581
582Colum's ship was ripped apart as Colum let loose a last angry scream of
583supreme anger and frustration.
584
585Bus was unharmed, and realized this was his chance to take command of
586the droid armies, which is something he had longed to do for many many
587years.  Bus brought his eight finger tips together and smiled.  What
588amazing luck.''  There was just this small matter of the renegade
589human ship to take care of.
590
591Bus opened a communication channel to the nearby droids, who had
592stopped forming their trap when Colum's ship was destroyed: Colum
593was terminated by an asteroid storm.  Droid tactical squads, resume
594moving into ambush formation.''
595
596Yes, yes, yes, ...'', responded the countless droid fighters, in
597a lifeless monotone.
598
599Bus extended his communication to all droids; his messages would
600quickly propogate throughout the galaxy: Droids, in the last moment
602armies.''  The droids believed him, though what he said was a big fat
603lusty lie.
604
605\threestars
606
607We should exit the stargate very soon'', announced Chris, the
608hyperdrive is functioning perfectly, and we can already begin to see
609outside of the stargate.''
610
611Bill turned to Thom, Jerrisons has told me some of what he knows
612about how the droid army operates.  Using only a skeletal force, they
613enter a galaxy and conquer a distant sparsely populated planet or
614moon, then spend a few years creating a droid army manufacturing
615facility that turns the raw resources of their base into droid
616fighters.  They then have a constant supply of reinforcements.  The Orbisians
617were lucky to detect this operation in Sundance Galaxy and head it off
618before it was too late.''
619
620Thom responed, We however, did not.  The droids must have established
621such a base somewhere in our galaxy.  I'll immediately set a crew to search
622for where the droids have hidden their operations base.  Perhaps they have
623become lazy in hiding it, because they seem to have all but taken complete
624control of our galaxy.''
625
626As the star gate drew closer, Bill said, Jerrisons, make sure your
629the viewscreen Bill could see a huge field of slowly-moving asteroids
630on the other side of the stargate, along with a mysterious shiny
631silver planet called Josh.  Though many scout ships and probes had
632landed on the planet, it was believed that none had ever returned nor
633even sent back data.
634
635The ship shook and vibrated firmly as Chris gently guided it out of
636hyperspeed and through the stargate.  Bill's forces entered the Milky
637Way.
638
639Bus sent an encrypted signal to his forces, Droids, wait until the
640humans are half way through the asteroid belt before attacking.  They
641will fall into our red hot hands!''
642
643We are ready,'' the droids replied obediently.
644
645\chapter{Tai Stargate}
646Thom, what have you found?'' asked Bill, Have our scans picked up
647any droid ships?''
648
649Oh yes,'' responded Thom in a deep voice.  They're everywhere,
650though I can't get a visual on any of them.  They are hiding in the
651asteroid field.''
652
653Bill replied, So, they mean to ambush us.  I wonder if they expected us
654to return with several squadrons of rapid-action Orbis fighters?''
655
656From the bridge of Bill's ship, Jerrisons was in constant
658ship and were carefully flying in tight formation very nearby.  Dennis
659had errected a powerful force shield near the ship, which protected
660both it and Jerrisons's fighters, but which would reflect any weapons
661Dennis fired back.  They were relatively safe from laser fire as long
662as the shield held out; unfortunately, the effect on their weapons was
663like the effect of lodging a piece of lead in the chamber of a gun.
664
665Bill tried to break the tension as he inquired, Thom, now that we
666are a back in the Milky Way, has your team had any luck searching for
667a droid manufacturing station.''
668
669Let me check.''  There was a pause.  Maybe'', responded Thom,
670there's a planet called Roxy near the Tai Stargate.  My team's
671searches of Galaxynet suggests Roxy is the most likely home of a droid
672manufacture point.  I think Chris will agree that we could re-enter
674
675Let's wait,'' responded Bill.  Dennis, raise shields around both
676us and Jerrisons's forces. Thom, any sign of the exact location of our
677'welcome party'?''
678
679Bus sent the signal: Attack!!''   Laser bolts exploded from several
680directions.
681
682Our shields are holding,'' reported Dennis.
683
684I could hyperwarp us towards Tai Stargate in only a few
686
687Droid ship 6K7, kamakazi into the Stein Ship,'' commanded Bus, as
688he began to test his enemy's defenses.
689
690Yes,'' replied the droid occupant of 6K7 obediently as his ship
691dived towards Bill's ship.  Bus suspected correctly that Bill's ship's
692shields would deflect energy bolts, but not a fighter ship.
693Expendible pilots and a self-generating army provided a formidible
694advantage against even the most cunning foe.
695
696One of Jerrisons's fighters, the 7th Falcon, broke from formation, and
697shot out from the shield, intercepted 6K7, and destroyed it, then took
698heavy fire as he retreated.  The integrity of 7th Falcon began to fail,
699as it re-entered Bill's shields.  The pilot ejected, then was beamed
700aboard Bill's ship, just before the 7th Falcon imploded.
701
702Bill, I think the droid leader's is part of this ambush,'' shouted
703Thom.  And, I bet I've located it.  What a brilliant stroke of luck.
704''
705
706Bill responded, Or a brilliant trap?  I think not.  Chris maneuver
707our ship towards the coordinates Thom gives you.  Dennis, prepare to
708lower the shields and launch our photon disintegrators.''
709
710The mood on the ship was tense.  Combat always made Bill uneasy.  His
711crew's primary mission was exploration, not combat.  They would much
712rather understand the universe than save it.
713
714Fire!'' yelled Bill, as Dennis unleashed a torrent of photon
715disintegrators at a nearby asteroid.  As the asteroid turned to dust,
716Bill's crew saw a terrifying black and flourescent orange ship appear
717before them.  It dwarfed Jerrisons's rapid fighter ships, but was in
718turn dwarfed by the Stein Ship.  Then it vanished, as the Stein
719Ship raised its shields.
720
721Dennis summarized the situation, Bill, that ship's activated some
722sort of alien cloaking device.  Even if we lower our shields, I
723probably won't be able to lock any of our weapons onto it.  If
724Jerrisons's fighters start shooting wildly for it, they'll be picked
725off by the other droids.'' Dennis stood up from his chair to say
726something, but then changed his mind.
727
728Dennis, what is it?'' inquired Thom, concerned.
729
730Oh, nothing,'' answered Dennis, as if he had just awoken from a deep
731sleep. Dennis escaped Thom's scrutiny as he began manipulating the
732rainbow of holograms that danced before him.
733
734Chris interrupted, Several droid ships are launching kamikazi
735attacks on us.''
736
737Jerrison, reattach your fighters to our ship.  Chris, get us out of
738here!  Let's go to Tai Stargate as soon as possible.''
739
740The droid ships caused some damage as Chris piloted the ship towards
741the stargate.  Two of Jerrisons's fighters and their pilots were destroyed
742defending the strategic retreat.  I'm ready to activate hyperdrive,
743Bill,'' said Chris, just give that sweet order.''
744
745It's has just been given,'' said Bill as the ship jerked then
746fled through the stargate.
747
748Bus's ship frustratedly decloaked. That was good thinking,'' praised
749one of the best-constructed droids.  This droid believed it also could
750think.
751
752It was not good enough, I'm afraid,'' responded Bus in what might be
753interpreted as a deep alien voice.  I should have never considered
754your suggestions during the battle.  Perhaps droids can't be
755programmed to really {\em want} victory.''
756
757What is the problem?'' inquired the droid.
758
759These remaining humans are probably going to destroy our droid
760manufacturing sheds.  If you would have monitored their Galaxynet
761traffic you wouldn't have to ask.  I only hope we can stop them.  It
762is a shame that Columbo's ship, which was destroyed, was equipped with
763hyperdrive technology, but ours is not.''
764
765\threestars
766
767Chris broke the silence on board the bridge, We will arrive at Tai
768Stargate very soon.''  The ship slowed as it approached the stargate
769exit.  Every eye on the bridge was fixed on the viewscreen as the ship
770exited the stargate and Roxy came into view.  They saw a redish planet
771appear on the view screen.  Chris didn't maneuver the ship too close,
772in hopes that they cold avoid being detected.  Roxy was not pretty;
773she had a deadly atmosphere and her surface was colder than the
774coldest glacier capped polar regions of Earth.
775
776Bill wasted no time, This planet has ideal resources for a droid
777manufacture plant, and our sensors seem to have found one.  Thom,
778Dennis, and I will beam down and try to sabotage the manufacturing
779facility.''  Bill turned and said, Dennis and Thom, meet me in the
780transporter room after you put your life-support suits on.''
781
782Bill left the bridge, and passed Nathaniel on the way, Nathaniel,
783you're going down to Roxy with us.''  Bill and Nathaniel both entered
784the antigravity tube, dawn life-support suits and arrive at the
785transporter room.  Is everybody's suit operational?'' asks Bill, who
786added, Enter the life-support test chamber.''  Thom, Dennis,
787Nathaniel, and Bill entered a special room that simulated conditions
788on the planet.  It was imperative that if one of their sophisticated
789bulky suits was not defective or not configured properly that the
790mistake be discovered on the ship rather than off.  Everbody's suits
791checked out, and each person stepped, somewhat clumsily, to the
793
794Thom said, We should now exchange maximally secure public encryption
795keys so that we will be able to communicate during the mission with
796minimal chance of being understood.''  He then clumsily turned his
797helmet enclosed head towards the beaming officer and asked, Are you
798ready to beam us down to the planet's surface?''
799
800I'll be ready soon,'' replied the beaming officer as he manipulated
801the multi-colored holograms that floated above his control panel, I
802don't want to beam any of you into something solid, you know.''
803
804Bill, Thom, Dennis, and Nathaniel prepared themselves mentally for
805their critical mission as the beaming officer made a few last minute
806calculations.  Finally, all was ready.  The beaming officer slowly
807moved has hand through the hologram which caused one spatial dimension
808of Bill's team to change ever so slightly.  They vanished from view,
809just as the square leaving Flatland vanished.  With that spatial
810dimension adjusted, the bizarre curvature allowed their usual position
811to be almost immediately altered.  It was good that the movement
812occured so quickly, so that their bodies didn't begin to break down.
813Transporting this way was OK for relatively small distances, but a
814voyage across a galaxy would destroy the voyager.
815
816The team soon appeared on Roxy's inhospitable surface.  This place
817is creepy,'' said Nathaniel as he surveyed the rocky red landscape of
818the windswept freezing planet.  The harsh expanse of scenery was
819interupted by a large mostly featureless black buildings.
820
821Abe, can your hear me?'' inquired Bill, sending a signal back to
822his ship.
823
824Abe Burns, who was in charge of the ship in Bill's absense, replied
825Yes, your signal is very strong.  We'll try to keep the transporter
826system locked on, and the ship ready to jump through Tai Stargate.''
827Abe, who stood just under six feet tall, was the same age as Dennis,
828and had studied with him many years ago on Earth.  A concerned look
829swept across Abe's face.  He was more comfortable and happier while
830engaged in his research than when commanding a space exploration ship.
831Nonetheless, Abe was a superb and brilliant officer and Bill felt he
832could rely on him.
833
834Back on the planet's surface, the landing party planned their next
835move.  Thom reported, My sensors suggest that the entire planet can
836potentially activate a shield if danger is suspected.  Thus if we move
837the ship near the planet and launch a volley of weapons, they will
838probably have no effect.  Moreover, we'd be attacked by droid defense
839ships, of which there must be many as this is where they are
840manufactured.''
841
842Nathaniel inquired, Why don't we simply beam a collection of
843time-actived megabombs onto the surface of the planet?''
844
845Dennis responded Extensive research has shown  that they would probably
846explode the moment their other spatial dimension is modified, and our
847ship would be destroyed.  Our equipment and bodies are able to stand a
848slight bit of spatial distortion but it's far too risky to ask the
849same of a megabomb.  I'd love such a weapon, but alas.''
850
851Thom then suggested, Nathaniel, if we can get you safely into one of
852these buildings, do you think you could cause it to self destruct?''
853
854Nathaniel responded, Sure.  Not only that, but judging from the way
855our scans suggest these buildings are connected, I might even be able
856to start a carefully timed chain reaction, which would result in all
857of the buildings exploding almost simultaneously.  That might even rip
858this god-forsaken planet apart!''  This last sentence was pronounced
859with an almost disturbing sense of glee.
860
861Dennis, Thom, and Bill were stunned.  Bill asked, Do you think you
862can really do that, Nathaniel?''
863
864Yes, I bet I can,'' affirmed Nathaniel, make sure our ship is
865ready to get us off this planet quickly.''
866
867Abe's studied some sensors on the bridge.  He didn't like what he
868saw. Bill, you might be in trouble.  The planet's shield is
869activating.''
870
871I'm surprised, but a few droids are headed our way.  Somehow they
872must have detected us.  Try to keep our communications channel open,''
873responded Bill.  Unfortunately, Abe's reply could not be heard because
874of Planet Roxy's shield.  Take cover behind this ledge, which leads
875to that building!''  commanded Bill.  We'll hold off these droids as
876we approach the building, then try to get inside so that Nathaniel can
877work his magic.  Thom, keep trying to contact our ship.  Dennis, take
878out as many droids as you can.''
879
880Bolts of energy flared by Dennis's head, as he peared through his
881hand-held shield over the ledge, took aim, lowered the shield for a
882moment, and fired.  A droid exploded in flames just as his shield
883re-appeared in time to protect him from another volley.  That was a
884little too close,'' whispered Dennis as he became more cautious in his
885defense of the group and pulled from his pack his most advanced
886weaponry systems.
887
888Soon Nathaniel, Bill, and Thom arrived at an entrance to the large
889black building, as Dennis continued to set up various high-tech
890defenses to hold of the droids.  The entrance to the building was
891guarded by a black force shield, which was similar to but much
892stronger than the one that had imprisoned them on earth long ago.
893Thom tried directly to open the door via the control panel but was
894unsuccessful.
895
896We're heavily armed.  Let's just blast the door away,'' suggested
897Nathaniel, Thom, stand back.''  Nathaniel blasted away at the door
898several times, then Bill and Thom both joined in for a moment.  The
899dark entrance didn't appear to change, but Thom informed them that
900its strength had diminished approximately 10 percent.
901
902Dennis noticed the situation and yelled Stand way back and raise
903your body shields!''  For a moment he turned from systematically
904picking of the droids, who were by now mostly pinned down in some
905cracks in the ground, adjusted his angry black and silver rifle, and
906fired one extended red bolt of energy which sailed slowly through the
907scorched atmosphere and injected itself into the portal.  Dennis
908turned back to continue laying down defenses as the portal disolved.
909I've got you guys covered out here.  You can enter the building.
910I'll let you know if the situation changes or if the droids
911send serious reforcements.''
912
913Let's move in,'' agreed Bill, as he led Thom and Nathaniel into the
914mysterious building.  As the three passed through the door they
915entered a very dark corridor whose lights had all broken because the
916door had been ripped apart so badly that much of the atmosphere in the
917building had violently escaped.  Fortunately their space suits were
918euipped with various lights that their face shields enhanced.
919They turned left and proceeded down the corridor.  After walking for
920several minutes, worried at every moment that they'll be attacked,
921Thom says: This is strange.  My sensor suggests faint signs of
922life nearby.  Perhaps we are somehow throwing off the readings,
923or there is a native life form on this planet that thrives in this
924building.''  The corridor turns right and they continue to follow
925it.
926
927As they pass two heavy black force doors, Nathaniel boasts quietly,
928After I get through with the control room we'll be able to catch a
929glance in there on our way out.''  Finally, ahead on the right, they
930spy what must be the control room.  Four tense droids are just visible
931inside, and there is no door.
932
933Thom says to Bill, Droids don't seem very intelligent.  Perhaps if
934we make a noise they'll all come out and we can shoot them.  They're
935expecting us anyways.'' As Thom speaks, his sounds are completely
936muffled by his helmet.  The sounds are received by a small microphone,
937encrypted, and broadcast via a weak signal that is usually lost to an
938eavesdropper in the ambient radio waves.
939
940Dennis's signal is a little stronger---Bill, this is Dennis.  The
941situation out here is becoming critical!  At first the droids were
942easy to hold off, but they seem to be quickly adapting.  I've only
943able to maintain our defense this long because of our superior weapons
944technology.  You're team better hurry up.  Also, I've not been able to
945re-establish communications with Abe.''
946
947Bill had little time to consider other possibilities and decided to
948follow Thom's plan.  They're shots exploded towards the control room.
949As the smoked died down, there was no sign that the droids had
950relinquished their position in the control room, which deeply puzzled
951Thom.  Suddenly a searing laser bolt ripped through the air from
952behind, and burned Nathaniel's right arm.  Thom and Bill returned fire
953as the approaching Droid tossed itself through the air shooting two
954laser pistols, an automated version of the Hong Kong action superstar
955Chow Yun Fat.  A cursed escaped Thom's lips as he dodged to the
956ground.  Time slowed as laser fire exploded everwhere.  At last the
957droid's shocking technique succumbed to Thom and Bill's superior
958weapons.  It shut off.
959
960A similar scene ensued as the three desperately fought for the control
961room.  As droids jumped through the air firing, the droids were
962eventually merciless ripped apart by Bill and Thom's scatter guns.
963Nathaniel swore the droids fought for their life''.  Something is
964wrong, very wrong,'' he commented, as he began his work on the master
965control center.  Just as promised, even with his right arm badly
966burned, he was able to shut down power to the droids in the building.
967He worked further on engineering a chain reaction that would hopefully
968destroy the planet while also allowing them to re-establish
969communication with Abe and beam to safety.  After many very long tense
970minutes, Nathaniel at last announced: I'm done.  Once I set the
971reaction in motion there is no turning back.  Probably this will allow
972us to contact Abe and get out of here.  Just give the order Bill.''
973
974A worried look hung to Bill's face as he reassuringly spoke his
975trademark: It's given.''
976
977Nathaniel moved his hands innocently, there was a warm buzz, and It
978began.  This planet will be history within 15 minutes,'' said
979Nathaniel solemly, let's hope that we aren't also.''
980
981Just then, a pale but strong chinese woman stumbled out of the hallway
982and into the control room.  She coughed and spasmed as she breathed
983the thin air, then wrapped her arms around her slime-covered unclothed
984body.  Looks of astonishment and fear mixed with guilt escaped the
985space suits of the three, as the single word help'' escaped her
986lips.
987
988Abe here.  The planet's breaking apart and its shield is gone.  We
989have a fix on you.  Permission to beam you out of there?
990
991Instead of hearing the expected It's already been given'', Abe
992received a nervous reply, Five to beam back---we'll help you to get
993a lock on the human near us.  Have our best medic there!''  In under a
994minute, Bill, Thom, Nathaniel, Dennis, and the mysterious woman
995appeared in the transporter room.  The ship jumped into Tai
996stargate, 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
1004prey, and also life on board the starship.  Kelly Wong is the name
1005of the human that they found at the droid manufacturing world.]]
1006
1007
1008\chapter{Deceived}
1010file:/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
1023NOTES:
1024
1025[[Plot spoilers: They'll set the autodestruct system up and activate
1026it.  This will open all of the doors.  Some crazed people will emerge
1027and then die from the lack of atmosphere, just as they are leaving the
1028building.  It will destroy places on the other side of the planet.
1029Abe will come back.  They'll beam out.... disturbed.]]
1030
1031
1032[[Upcomming plot spoiler: Where are all of the humans?  Are they dead?
1033Why were Bill and the others captured and not killed the first time?
1034Why are the droids getting SMARTER?  Because they encase the humans
1035(and other life forms they've previously captured) in little prisons
1036nearby and use them to help make decisions, slowly getting smarter as
1037the expert system learns'' about its enemy with the help of the
1038human problem solvers.  Bill and the others discover this just before
1039the planet blows, but after it is too late to stop the explosion.  An
1040untold number of human slaves, who are encased in the droid
1041manufacturing stations, are destroyed in the explosion.  Chilling
1042thought---maybe the many droid ships that Dennis has destroyed so far
1043contained a human mind''.  Human shields.  The reason the humans
1044aren't all located on Earth is because of communications lag time.
1045This will make the rest of the book that much more difficult to write,
1046and the thought process of the enemy will become increasingly
1047chilling.]]
1048
1049
1050
1051[ danger\_of\_droids\_033.jpg ??  goes for a bit, then resumes with
1052danger\_of\_droids020.jpg, I think.  I'm changing details and
1053order a lot at this point, so it makes more sense.]
1054
1055
1056