And finally, Fighting For the Galaxy Fridays is back with another brow-creasing, head-tilting installment of puzzlingly bad decisions and questionable sci-fi! This time on a Thursday for some reason!
In our last chapter, Jessica liberated herself from the intensive care unit via a well-timed punch to Captain Abrigio’s jaw, T.J. revealed her gory psychic dreams to soon-to-be-rat-food Rendar, and the gang was subjected to a probe by the evil Sffons’ mind-reading computer.
Venture below for the next thrilling chapter!
(For chapters 1-6, head over to the FFTG main page.)
Fighting For the Galaxy
by (13-year-old) T.J. Baer
In which Abrigio encounters some difficulties at the hospital, Jessica reaches the dangerous (but oddly trusting) planet Sffonia, and T.J. momentarily forgets that she’s a tough-as-nails military commander and decides to leave her fate in the hands of the attractive but dumb-as-rocks man she’s known for less than a week and yet for some reason trusts implicitly. Because sure.
* * *
Mark and Jen were shoved into a tiny little cell with a tiny little window and two tiny little cots.
“Are you sure this magnificent suite isn’t too large for two mere prisoners?” Jen shouted to the guard.
The guard gave her a few nasty snickers and closed the door.
Mark slumped in one of the tiny little corners of the tiny little cell.
“This has really not been my week,” Jen muttered to herself as she plopped down on the cot. “God, this is gonna be like sleeping on a wooden board!” She looked under the sheet. “Well, well, well, whaddya know, it is a wooden board.”
Mark sighed loudly and closed his emerald eyes in depression. “I can’t believe Jessie’s gone,” he said, not for the first time. “Those bastards will pay for this.”
There was a calm vengeance in his voice that Jen was not sure that she liked.
“Now, Mark,” she warned. “Don’t go getting crazy ideas. You’ll get yourself killed.”
“I don’t care,” he said as he opened his eyes. “Jess will be avenged. Mark my words, I’ll kill them. If I have to do it with my bare hands and end up getting killed in the process, I will.”
“I know you miss her, Mark, but this isn’t the way. Killing others in exchange for her won’t help anyone.”
“No, but it’ll make me feel a whole hell of a lot better,” he said. “Someone will die for Jessica’s death.”
“Yeah,” Jen said. “Probably you.”
* * *
“She WHAT?!” the nurse exclaimed as Abrigio stood before her, rubbing his bruised jaw.
“Jessica McKinney,” he began calmly, “punched me and knocked me out. She is no longer in her room, so I am speculating that she left to go find her dead friends.”
“Oh, this is not good,” the nurse said.
“No kidding!” Abrigio exclaimed. “A patient of yours, and an officer of mine, psychotically believes that her friends are alive, even though I am positive that they died in the blast at GaMi headquarters. She has now escaped from a supposedly well-guarded hospital with, might I mention, near fatal wounds still in the process of healing, and is now probably on her way to Sffonia, the most dangerous place in the entire galaxy for a human to visit!”
The nurse blinked at Abrigio, then calmly lifted the microphone from her desk. “Attention,” she said, and Abrigio heard her voice echo out of every loudspeaker nearby. “We have a small emergency. Could Sec. Guard 401 please come to the front desk for just one moment?”
Abrigio sighed in disbelief and left the room—and the hospital, for that matter—determined to find Jessica, even if he had to chase her the whole way to Sffonia. She was not well, and he felt somewhat responsible for the senseless jeopardy she was about to put herself in.
* * *
As it turned out, Jessica didn’t have to steal a ship. Her personal ship was still parked behind the blasted ruins of GaMi headquarters, seemingly undamaged.
Jessica sat in the wonderfully familiar and comfortable pilot’s chair and quickly prepped the engine. When it was warmed up, she masterfully lifted the ship into the air and sped off-planet. It was a miracle the hull hadn’t been scorched terribly by the explosion, but Jessica didn’t have time to ponder how it had remained unaffected.
She pulled the lever back and shot into lightspeed.
* * *
“We’re gonna die,” T.J. said. “There’s no way out, no way to escape.”
Rendar looked at her, his arm still around her shoulders. “Don’t talk that way. You sound like Mark. When did you turn into such a fatalist?”
She shrugged slightly. “I don’t know. But everything seems so hopeless. I mean, look! We’re stuck in a prison cell. They know I know their secret codes, and there’s nothing to stop them from killing you and me and everybody else, just like in my dream. And even if we manage to escape from this hellhole, there’s no guarantee that we can get a ship and get off of the planet before they shoot us down or just plain shoot us.”
For a minute, Rendar couldn’t think of anything to say to that.
“There’s always a way out,” he said.
“Not this time.”
“Yes, this time,” he said firmly. “We will find a way out. Trust me.”
“I do trust you, but—”
“If you trust me, then you’ll believe me that we will get out of this before anybody else gets killed.”
She was quiet for a moment, then nodded. “All right,” she said. “I’ll trust you. What do you have in mind?”
He smiled and told her his plan.
* * *
Captain Torel Abrigio muttered several curses at himself for even caring enough to go after his delirious…friend? Was she a friend? Or did he just feel responsible for her since he had found her and pretty much saved her life with that action? Torel didn’t know, and he didn’t much care. The point was, he was in his ship on his way to Sffonia to rescue a young lady that he was acquainted with. The why didn’t matter.
Torel pulled back the lightspeed lever and watched the viewscreen as his ship increased speed until the stars were just blurs against the black background. If General Minhuk were alive, Torel’s head would roll for this. But there was no point trying to build back up GaMi himself, even if Minhuk or anybody else was alive. Duty could wait until he had rescued Jessica.
* * *
“You’re crazy,” T.J. said after she had heard Rendar’s plan.
“Okay,” he said, “so it’s a little off the wall.”
“A little? You call that ‘a little?’”
Rendar turned to gaze at her, his eyes begging her to at least try it. “It’ll work,” he promised. “Besides, do you have any better ideas?”
“No,” she admitted. “I guess not. But how will we get Mark and Jen out, too?”
“Don’t worry, we’ll find a way.”
She bit her lower lip. “I hope you’re right.” She sighed and sat resignedly on one of the cots in the corner. It wasn’t very comfortable. “So what do we do now?”
Rendar shrugged. “Wait.”
They didn’t have to wait long; in a few short minutes, the leader of this little installation appeared at the door, guards flanking him. Rendar wasn’t sure if they were here so he and T.J. didn’t escape, or to protect the leader. Most likely both.
“Hello, I am Karil Sokat, leader of this building and everyone in it,” he said to them, an obviously fake smile on his flabby pale face. His thick black hair was in a knotted mess on top of his head, and he was altogether not a very handsome man. The only nice thing about him were his eyes, which were somewhere between light blue and light green.
And what he lacked in looks he definitely did not make up for in charm. He was a drab man leading a boring and uncultured life that made plumbing look fun. Sure, he got to play with the mind probe, but torturing prisoners could get unbearably boring after a while, as could a simple yet feared machine. Karil figured that either one of his prisoners would kill him, or the insufferable boredom would.
“Follow me,” he said.
Rendar and T.J. stood up and walked towards the door.
“No,” Sokat said as he thrust an arm out in front of Rendar. “Just her.”
Rendar nodded and touched T.J.’s hand briefly before they led her down the hall and shut the door tightly behind them. He heard the lock click and swore under his breath. He hoped she remembered what she was supposed to say without him. He had been counting on being there to assist her, but no such luck. He wished he could run after her and be there to support her and help her.
But it seemed that all he could do was sit and wait. And hope.
* * *
Jess watched as the blur of stars slowed until she could see the planet Sffonia clearly in her viewscreen. It didn’t look like a bad planet from the outside. It actually kind of resembled Earth. There was the normal mix of brown, green, blue, and white to be seen, but Jess could see the main continent. It was a lot larger than any continent on Earth, but that was because there were only two major continents on the entire planet. Other than that, the atmosphere and size were exactly the same as Earth.
She took a deep breath and pondered for a moment. She had to figure out where her friends had been taken. A planet was a large place to search, but she was sure she could find them somehow.
Jess hesitantly pushed her precious ship forwards until she was directly outside the atmosphere. Then her radio crackled.
“Unidentified ship,” a bland female voice said. “Please identify yourself and your business here or be destroyed.”
Jess cleared her throat then switched on her microphone transmitter. “This is Kali Johanna aboard the Shadow Moon. I am a trader and have come to trade goods with a client.”
There was a quick pause, then the voice responded. “You may proceed, Miss Johanna. Pad 23.”
Jessica silently celebrated and prayed they wouldn’t ask for ID when she got down there. Inventing an identity and a purpose was simple, but proving it was another thing altogether. She brought her ship, which actually was called Shadow Moon, down onto the landing pad that she had been assigned to. She checked her coordinates and discovered that she was landing in the capital city of Carilig.
Oh, well, she thought. The capital city here was as good a place as any to search for her friends.
As it turned out, they didn’t check for ID. In fact, there were no guards at all in the spaceport.
That frightened Jessica, because that meant that the Sffon had a reason to feel safe from any threats. She wondered why. She soon found out. As she walked out of the spaceport, trying to look like she fit in, she had to walk through a metal doorway. As she stepped through, she heard a loud BEEP!
“I’m sorry,” the guard said as he ran the scanner up and down her body. It beeped loudly as it registered the metal in her gun. “You’ll have to check your weapons at the door. None are allowed into the city unless you have official clearance.”
She nodded and handed him her gun. She had stolen it from a cop at the hospital while he talked to someone.
* * *
“We know you have the secret codes to our prison,” Sokat said dully. “Who told you them?”
T.J. played innocent. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know any codes.”
“Our mind probe computer says that you do.”
T.J. raised an eyebrow. “Oh, the same computer that blew a circuit, right?”
He ignored her point and continued to pester her. “Now, if you don’t tell me the truth right now, I’ll have your pals in the prison killed one by one, slowly, in front of you.”
Her expression changed. “You wouldn’t.”
“Okay, fine,” she said. “I’ll tell you where I got the codes.”
He smiled. “Thank you.”
T.J. took a deep breath and told him the lie Rendar had invented.
“You guys had an agent in GaMi headquarters for a few years. Steven Phelps,” she said. “Well, he turned on you for a sum of about five million dollars in American money. He’s the one who told me the codes. He’s a double agent, and he betrayed you.”
The man frowned. “Who paid him, you?”
She shook her head. “No, Captain Torel Abrigio and General Minhuk paid him money to give us that information. He’s quite weak to bribery, might I add, but I guess you already found that out, right?”
“How do I know you’re not lying?”
“Two reasons. First of all, I am in no position to lie, now am I? And secondly, Phelps told me his operating number. It’s 42355A3.”
Sokat’s expression turned to ice. “He is a traitor,” he said. “Guard, I want the immediate execution of Steve Phelps. Then escort this young lady back to her cell.”
“Excuse me,” T.J. said. “But I just exposed a big traitor to you. What do I get in return?”
Sokat thought for a minute. “I’ll give you your life.”
“But my friends—”
He cut her off before she could finish. “Just be happy I’m letting you go. You’ll have to stay on the planet, of course, but you should have a reasonably normal life as a human slave to one of the richer families. Don’t worry, they will treat you well. As for your little friends, they could be in their cells for a while.” He turned his head. “Guard, scratch taking her back to her cell. I want her off this installation by noon and acting as a human slave in the residential area.”
The guard nodded and dragged a protesting T.J. off by the arm.
To be continued…
Click here for Chapter 8.