Welcome back to Fighting For the Galaxy Fridays, actually on a Friday for once! Wow!
In our last installment of hilariously bad pseudo-sci-fi, Captain Torel Abrigio charged off to the dangerous planet Sffonia in search of the shot-five-times-but-surprisingly-mobile Jessica, while T.J. cunningly blamed her knowledge of the Sffon codes on resident bad guy and turncoat Steve Phelps. As a reward for her information, the Sffon decided not to execute her, and instead are sending her off to be a human slave at some rich dude’s house, because sure, that sounds plausible.
Will T.J. be able to escape before she’s forced to don a ridiculously skimpy uniform and give stirring speeches about equality to her captors’ children? Will Abrigio somehow spot Jessica in minutes despite the fact that she could literally be anywhere on the entire planet of Sffonia? And will Mark actually kill someone by throwing a fork at them because he saw it in a movie once? (Answer: Yes. Yes, he will.)
Read on to find out the answers to these and more burning questions..!
(For chapters 1-7, head over to the FFTG main page.)
Fighting For the Galaxy
by (13-year-old) T.J. Baer
In which there is a surprising amount of violence from an author who doesn’t even like killing bugs, Jessica discovers the bikini-related downsides of being reunited with her friends, and T.J. gives a moving speech about interspecies tolerance that makes no damn sense at all.
* * *
The afternoon stretched on, and still T.J. had not returned to the cell. A guard brought Rendar dinner, but would not answer his inquiries about T.J. Night came and went, and still there was no sign of his young companion.
Had the plan backfired? Did Sokat not believe that Steve Phelps was the traitor? What had happened to T.J.? And was it all Rendar’s fault?
At last, the door opened and Sokat stood there, no T.J. in sight.
“Where is T.J.?” Rendar demanded.
Sokat looked at him. “Who?”
Rendar began to look extremely frustrated and the man laughed. Annoying his prisoners was the highlight of his drab day. “Oh, yes, the female human who knew our codes. I believe I do recollect seeing her somewhere.”
The violet-eyed commander swallowed his anger and fear for T.J.’s safety. “Where is she?” he asked calmly.
“She’s certainly not going to be returning to this cell. She’s in a better place, don’t worry. And by the way, your sentence will be death tomorrow at local noon.”
The wicked man brought up the subject as casually as if he were ordering dinner, instead of determining the fate of a young man.
“What was my crime?” Rendar asked him, hardly believing what a rotten day he was having.
Sokat laughed again. “Why, sympathizing with the enemy, of course.”
“At least tell me what you did with T.J.,” Rendar said, the anger boiling in him now. “If you killed her, I swear I’ll never—”
“Never fear, young, stupid human. She is not dead, simply in a better place than prison. She gave us information we could use, and for that she was rewarded. Have a nice day.”
And before Rendar could demand a more detailed answer, Sokat left the room and sealed the door shut behind him.
“Damn,” Rendar swore. “Damn, damn, DAMN!”
Now there was no way he could rescue T.J., because he had no idea where she was. He lay down on his cot to think. Where could they have sent her, anyway? There was nothing he could do about her while he was stuck in here. There was also no point in beating himself up for being so helpless. All he knew was that he had to find a way out.
* * *
“No! No! I’m not a traitor! Nobody bribed me! I’ve always been true!” Steve Phelps screamed. “Don’t do this to me!”
The guard merely snickered—they were good at that—and shut the door to the gas chamber tightly and locked it.
“Steven Phelps,” Sokat’s voice said through his microphone. He was inside an isolation booth at the far corner of the relatively small room. “You have been sentenced to death for your crimes of sympathizing with the enemy and accepting bribery, plus giving GaMi officers secret information. Have a nice day.”
Steve’s screams of horror were muted by the soundproof walls of the chamber. His screams intensified as the white, puffy clouds of poisonous gas slowly filtered into the room. He wished he’d never gotten involved with Jen or GaMi or the Sffon Collective. He could not see Sokat as he slipped further and further out of consciousness, but he could hear the evil man’s laughs of glee.
Steve’s last thought before he passed out was of his wife and three children on the planet Kibik. Sure, he had cheated on his wife more times than he could count, and he hadn’t seen his kids for five years (he even forgot their birthdays), but they were still his last thought. God, he wished he hadn’t listened to Sokat that day on Kibik.
“We will pay you sixty million Sffonian dollars every year you spy for us. All you have to do is cut off all relations with family and friends and report back to us every few months. It’ll be easy money. You’ll get prestige and power at GaMi headquarters very quickly.”
Of course, with an offer like that, Steve had immediately agreed, said farewell to his crying family, and rocketed out the front door.
Hell with them, he had thought. They’ll get along fine without me.
That had been and would be his last glimpse of his family. As he fell wheezing to the floor, he had just enough strength left in his body to shout on last curse before his breathing stopped and he died, slate blue eyes wide open.
* * *
Torel Abrigio did not have a difficult time getting onto Sffonia, though it was not fun being frisked by the overzealous security guard while leaving the blasted spaceport. Despite being feared by nearly all in the galaxy except those already on the Sffons’ side and neutral traders, the entire planet had to be the most boring, humdrum place Torel had ever visited. The most enthusiastic person he had met so far was the security guard, and everyone else appeared to be bored out of their minds.
As he brushed himself off and exited the spaceport, he noticed a tall, slim woman with blondish-brown hair cut just above her shoulders.
“McKinney!” he shouted, despite the many Sffon in the overcrowded street. “Jessica McKinney, answer me this instant!”
* * *
T.J. struggled immensely in her heavy iron shackles as a guard half-dragged, half-pulled her down the streets of Carilig.
“Uh, excuse me, but where exactly are we going?” T.J. asked him, expecting either to be slapped or ignored.
Unbelievably, this guard had a light expression on his face. “You’re being taken to a nice home in the residential area of Carilig. It’s a family that is in need of three or four human slaves, actually, but for now, one will do.”
She decided to push her luck with a comment. “You guys are treating me like I’m a dog or something.”
The guard gave her a puzzled look. “Dog? What is a dog?”
“A dog is an animal that once thrived on Earth. They were kept in cages at pounds—sort of like animal prisons—and adopted by families. Now they’re almost extinct after a biological weapon went haywire during World War III in the year 2001,” she said.
The guard nodded, seemingly interested in her explanation.
And just then, she heard a familiar voice shouting, “McKinney! Jessica McKinney, answer me this instant!”
“Abrigio,” T.J. said softly, hardly daring to believe her eyes as she watched the captain catch up with a young woman. It was Jess! Her breath caught. Jess was alive!
Abrigio and Jess hadn’t seen her yet. What could she do? This might be her only chance of being rescued. But she couldn’t scream their names in front of the guard.
Come on, she thought. Please, look my way!
* * *
“Miss McKinney,” Abrigio said when he caught up with her. “You do not know how far I have chased you across the galaxy. Why are you here? Your friends are dead, and you have to accept that. Right now, you are endangering your life and mine as well with this, this wild goose chase.”
Jessica began to turn, and as she did, something caught her eye. She smiled, then laughed. “You think so, Captain?” she asked him. “Take a look over there.” She didn’t dare point, only nodded in T.J.’s direction.
She watched as he searched, then gasped. He was totally speechless as Jessica began to work her way through the sea of people. He followed her reluctantly, not speaking until they got closer.
“What can we do?” he said. “They have her in shackles.”
Jess shrugged. “Attack,” she said calmly, and ran straight at the guard.
“WHAT?” Abrigio cried.
She ducked and slammed her head into the security guard’s stomach. He “oofed” and fell to the sidewalk, one hand over his stomach, the other—unfortunately—still gripping the chain between T.J.’s shackles. T.J. went with him as he fell. Jess helped her up and tried to loosen his grip on her chains, but it didn’t work. Finally, Torel ran up and assisted her. Together, they managed to detach the guard’s hands from the chain and the trio started to run for it.
It was incredibly difficult, however, because the streets were almost completely packed except for little pockets scattered around the place. They went as fast as possible, mostly looking back as the security guard tried to find them in the mass of people. Just then, a blind woman collided with Jessica.
“Oh, no,” T.J. said as she recognized the woman.
“I SMELL A HUMAN! I SMELL A HUMAN! I SMELL A HUMAN!”
They made it perhaps five feet after that before a whole team of security guards surrounded them and shackled Torel’s and Jessica’s hands while the two squirmed. T.J.’s former guard smiled at them.
“The family wanted three, and now they’ve got them,” he said, apparently satisfied.
Jessica and Torel exchanged worried glances. “Uh, T.J.,” Jess said. “Three what?”
T.J. grimaced. “Trust me, you don’t want to know.”
“Why, three human slaves, of course,” a guard said.
Jess groaned. “Aww, come on! I don’t even clean my quarters back at the base!”
T.J. shrugged. “I told you you didn’t want to know.”
Torel looked from Jess to T.J. and back again. “This is not a good day.”
* * *
Mark waited until dinner to put his plan into action. He had seen this done in the movies, and it was really the only thing he could think of to try. At lunch he had stolen a fork from his tray. Whenever the guard slid the food through the slit in the doorway, Mark said, “Uh, guard?”
The man swung the door open. Mark hurled the fork at him.
It struck the man in the forehead and stuck there, going in a few inches and sending cascades of blood flowing down the front and sides of his face. He fell with a quiet thump to the floor.
Jen applauded Mark’s aim silently and watched as he dragged the man inside, stole his access card, weapon, and clothes. Jen took the access card, Mark held onto the gun, and the two shut and locked the door behind them.
The first place they went was T.J. and Rendar’s cell, and they were surprised to discover that T.J. was gone. Rendar explained briefly what had happened—as much of it as he knew, anyway—and they walked down the hallway towards the big door at the end of the hall. Any security guards they ran into, they shot, Mark making sure the silencer function on the weapon was turned on.
Mark picked up two access cards from a duo of felled guards and handed one to Rendar. “Get everybody out,” he said. “We’re gonna have a nice little riot.”
Rendar and Jen nodded their heads in agreement and walked from cell to cell, opening doors and freeing prisoners. When they were finished, they had nearly a hundred people, almost all of them human, to assist them. All were happy to help, just to get the tiniest bit of revenge on the bastards that had imprisoned them.
The huge group flowed out the door after Jen opened it, she and Mark standing in front, Rendar in the middle somewhere. They overwhelmed any guards standing nearby, and then they finally saw Sokat. He stared at them, the fear plain on his face. Rendar shoved his way to the front. He smiled at the evil man that had stolen his love away from him and leveled his gun so it was aimed at Sokat’s head.
“Have a nice day,” Rendar quoted, and then he squeezed the trigger.
Karil Sokat fell to the polished marble floor, a neat bullet hole in the center of his forehead.
“Come on,” Rendar said. “We’ve gotta find T.J.”
Jen nodded in agreement and turned to Mark. “Satisfied? Several Sffon have died for Jessica.”
Mark had a cross between exhilaration and satisfaction on his face. He nodded. Yes. Jessie’s death has been avenged.”
As they walked past Sokat’s lifeless body, Mark and Rendar both spat on him.
* * *
Jessica McKinney, once a Lieutenant of the Galactic Military, stared at herself in her maid uniform. She almost shrieked as she looked at the reflection of herself in the huge mirror. The uniform was not something you would see even in the richest homes back on Earth. No, this was much worse. Jess wouldn’t have minded that much wearing those cute little skirts and blouses, but this! She almost laughed when T.J. walked into the room.
The uniform was not something that Jess would enjoy working in, though she might’ve considered wearing it elsewhere in a much more private place. Jessica’s “uniform” was comprised of a blue bikini top with tiny straps, including a skirt that was shorter than anything she had ever seen before on Earth. Also, as an added bonus, there was a cute little bowtie included in the package.
T.J.’s was just as bad, except her top and skirt were green instead of blue. In both uniforms, the bowtie was black. Jess had found it hard not to laugh when T.J. had come into the slave quarters, but she had not been prepared for Captain Abrigio to come walking in. She and T.J. both broke into uproarious laughter at the sight of their former commanding officer.
“Oh, shut up!” he said. He was wearing tiny bikini bottoms and a bowtie. Nothing else. “You two shouldn’t be the ones to be laughing. You look like two Playboy bunnies in those things.”
They both nodded, but still couldn’t stop the occasional giggle from escaping their lips. Soon, though, “Mistress Tamaya Bates” entered the room. It was quite obvious that she was a Sffon, but a rather attractive one. She had long, curly strawberry blond hair that flowed over her shoulders. T.J. and Jess may have had the outfits to be Playboy bunnies, but Tamaya definitely had the looks and figure to be one. Her eyes were almost the same shade of violet as Rendar’s eyes, and they made T.J. realize how terribly she missed him.
“T.J., please come to the kitchen and prepare lunch immediately. The children are getting dreadfully hungry.”
T.J. faltered. “Uh, what do they want for lunch?”
“They don’t have any preferences,” Tamaya said matter-of-factly.
“Uh, begging your pardon, Mistress Tamaya, but all children have preferences. What do they like?”
Tamaya appeared to be getting a bit annoyed. It did not suit her.
“T.J., I told you, they have no preferences. Now go downstairs and make them lunch!”
T.J. shrugged and brushed past her to find her way to the kitchen in this huge mansion.
“Jessica,” Tamaya said.
Jess snapped to attention. “Yes, ma’am?”
Tamaya seemed pleased with her polite tone and good protocol. “You may tidy up Geoffrey’s study. It is downstairs near the kitchen.”
Jessica gave a low curtsy. “Yes, ma’am. It’ll get to it right away.”
Jess had always been good at sucking up, even when was back at school. Kissing up to Mistress Tamaya would not only gain trust, but would also guarantee her the better jobs around the house. Jessica bet anything that she would never have to “tidy up” the bathroom of the mansion.
“Torel,” Tamaya said.
Jessica almost giggled on her way out, but held it in as she heard his assignment.
“Our bathroom needs to be cleaned badly. It’s the second door down the hall to the left. When you are finished with that, do the downstairs one, too.”
“Yes, Mistress Tamaya,” Torel said, though it certainly lacked the enthusiasm of Jessica’s parting line.
T.J. worked for about ten minutes preparing the two children’s lunch. They were a Sffonian boy and a Sffonian girl, named “Master” Kalel and “Mistress” Lista. Kalel was twelve and Lista was nine. As it turned out, they did have preferences. But luckily for T.J., what she prepared was one of the things they liked. Lista, who was very talkative, told her all about their likes and dislikes while T.J. washed and dried the dishes.
“This soup is good,” Lista commented as she slurped it up. “Please make it again sometime, T.J., okay?”
T.J. nodded, finding the child very cute even though she was Sffonian. But after all, Lista couldn’t help what she was. “Yes, Mistress Lista, I’ll do that.”
“Are you a human?” Kalel asked her. It was the first thing he’d said all through lunch.
T.J. nodded. “Yeah.”
“My father says we’re supposed to hate humans,” Kalel said rather maliciously. “He says that you’re only good for slaves.”
T.J. peered at the young boy over the pot she was drying. “We can’t help what race we are, or where we’re born. I’m just like you; I was just born on a different planet.”
Lista looked at Kalel. “See,” she said. “I told you they weren’t bad.”
Kalel looked unconvinced as he sucked the broth off his spoon.
“Look,” T.J. said.”I can’t tell you how to think, or why Sffonia is at war with the rest of the galaxy. I can only tell you what I think, and you can tell me what you think, and neither of us may be right, or both of us, or no one, but that’s the point, really. Since the beginning of time, almost no one has been able to agree on anything. But that’s what makes us different, and it’s healthy to be different. Being different can bring people together or pull them apart. In this situation, it’s pulling Sffonia apart from the rest of the galaxy. But Sffonia’s leaders might not be right, and the rest of the galaxy and Earth might not be right, but if everyone agreed on everything, then the galaxy would be a pretty boring place, now wouldn’t it?”
Lista nodded, apparently enjoying this conversation immensely. “Sffonia is a really boring place,” she said. “Is that because everybody agrees on everything?”
T.J. shrugged. “Yeah, in a way. See, people might have different ideas about things, but whoever your leader is, he makes everyone follow him and agree on everything, so it makes life boring. But see, on my planet, things are never boring. People make their own decisions, and life is exciting and fun. When was the last time you had fun, Kalel?”
The boy had no answer to that. He stood up from the table, opened the door, and left.
T.J. watched him go, shaking her head sadly. She was probably fighting a losing battle, trying to change the mind of a young Sffon boy. But Kalel and Lista were the future of this planet, and if she could open their minds even a little, maybe the next generation of Sffonians wouldn’t be so eager to wage war on the galaxy.
She could only hope.
But for now, she had dishes to dry, so she would just have to think about changing the world a little later.
To be continued…!