…on a Saturday, because no calendar tells me what to do, yo.
For the uninitiated, Fighting For the Galaxy is the epic science fiction masterpiece* (*citation needed) composed by my Star Wars-obsessed thirteen-year-old self. It features Commander T.J. Baer and her struggles to defeat evil aliens, save the planet Earth (and the galaxy, one would assume), and have happy kissy times with a violet-eyed boy named Rendar she apparently has heterosexual-type love feelings for. (13-year-old me was still somewhat in denial on that front, alas.)
To read Fighting For the Galaxy from its glorious beginning, you can check out the FFtG main page here: Fighting For the Galaxy: Main Page
In our last installment, T.J., Jess, and Captain Abrigio were forced into the scantily-clad service industry in a fine home on planet Sffonia; Rendar, Mark, and Jen busted out of jail with an exceptional degree of violence and snappy comebacks; and Rendar said, “Damn, damn, DAMN!” because 13-year-old me thought “damn” was the height of swearing, and damn x 3 was bound to be 3x as cool.
Today, we once again visit the alien planet of Sffonia, where T.J. leads a daring escape, Jess makes yet another unfortunate decision that leads to gunfire and general mayhem, and Rendar, Jen, and Mark wander around the city arguing and wasting time. ONWARD TO EPIC SCI-FI!
FIGHTING FOR THE GALAXY:
Rendar, Mark, and Jen walked warily through the ever-present crowd in the streets. There were no motorized vehicles anywhere–there was no way for them to get through. From what Jen could tell, Sffonia was an overpopulated, dull, dictated planet that had probably never heard of fun or partying.
“So where do we look, Rendar?” Jen wondered as they trudged down the street.
He shrugged, then stopped. “No, we don’t want to go that way,” he said, pointing to the direction they were previously headed in.
“Why?” Mark wanted to know.
Rendar pointed out the wandering old blind woman. “I don’t think we want to run into her. Remember what she did while we were being taken to the prison?”
Jen thought for a minute. “Was she the one that screamed, ‘I smell a human!’ when she ran into you?”
He nodded and they went in the other direction. They kept walking and eventually ended up in the mostly deserted business district of the city of Carilig.
Jen glanced around, then looked at her companions. “Uh, do either of you know where we’re going?”
Mark shrugged. “No idea whatsoever,” he told her flippantly. “I’ve just been following Rendar. I assumed he knew where he was going.”
Rendar paused as he looked at his friend. “Oh, so I’m just supposed to know exactly where T.J. is all the time? What? Do you expect me to use my amazing mental powers to just zone in on her?” he asked heatedly.
Mark held up his hands. “Whoa, whoa, pal! Calm down. I didn’t say that. I just said I thought you knew where she was. After all, you were the last one to see her.”
Rendar sighed and slumped his shoulders. “I know, I know. I’m sorry, Mark. It’s just that I want to find her and get the hell off this planet and back to whatever’s left of GaMi.”
“I know,” Jen said as they continued down the street. “We will find her. I promise you, we will. Sokat didn’t say anything that could give us a clue as to where she is?”
The violet-eyed commander shrugged helplessly. “Nothing.”
Jen refused to give up. “Well, what exactly did he say to you?”
He sighed again and tried to remember, not really seeing what this would gain them. All Sokat had said was… “Just that she had given him useful information and that for that she was being rewarded by being put into a better place.”
“What useful information?” Jen wanted to know.
Rendar smiled. “Actually, that Steve was a traitor to them. Apparently they believed her.”
“A better place,” Mark said, pondering. “You don’t think that they…”
Rendar shook his head. “No, Sokat assured me that they didn’t kill her.”
“I’ve got it,” Jen said. “A better place. Maybe she’s in one of the nicer homes around here.”
Rendar raised an eyebrow. “What would she be doing there?”
“I don’t know, but it’s a place to start,” she answered.
“I don’t think she’s there,” Mark said. “We’re just wasting our time.”
Jen nodded. “Yeah, maybe you’re right, Mark. I mean, what would she be doing there anyway?”
Rendar shook his head. “No,” he said quietly. “Let’s check it out.”
“Why? There’s no way she could be there,” Jen said.
He shrugged, trying to get a grip on his thoughts. “No, we should go there. I just have a feeling…”
“We’re just wasting our time,” Mark repeated.
“Oh, well,” Rendar said, determined. “It’s our time to waste. Besides, do you have a better idea?”
Jen and Mark exchanged glances. “I guess not,” he said.
* * *
Jessica glanced around the huge study and wondered where she should start. The room was messier than her own quarters back at GaMi, which were pretty bad. She shrugged and set to work, deciding to start with organizing the papers on top of the large wooden desk. She was actually surprised that it was made of wood. There were only a few trees left on Sffonia, which made wood extremely hard to come by. This particular work looked like oak, which only came from two planets: Earth and Ttti. Both of which were GaMi planets that the Sffon had not yet taken over.
She wondered where “Master” Geoffrey had obtained such a rare desk. A rich man such as himself would of course have no trouble at all paying for such a thing, but that would mean that he had contacts outside of Sffonian territory. Which would, in turn, mean that he may sympathize with GaMi and might let three GaMi officers free if he knew that they were who they were.
Jessica set to work, wondering how she would approach Geoffrey when the time came.
She didn’t have all that much time to think. In a few minutes the master of the house himself came strolling into his study just as Jess attempted to neaten a towering stack of loose papers.
“Good day, Jessica,” he said politely.
“Good day, Master Geoffrey,” she returned. She took a deep breath. “You have to let me go. I’m very important to GaMi. They’re rebuilding, so they need all the officers they can get.”
A millisecond after the words left her lips she knew by his expression that she had made a huge mistake.
“You’re with the Galactic Military?” he asked as his voice rose angrily. “You SCUM! How can you be a member of that pitiful, disgusting organization of idiotic HUMANS?”
She glared back at him, not caring about what he might do to her for it. “I’m one of those ‘idiotic’ humans, and also a proud member of the Galactic Military. We will kick the Sffons’ asses in this war, and don’t you forget it, ‘Master’ Geoffrey!”
Once again, she realized the error in her words too late. MUCH too late. He really began to steam and moved closer to her, an object in his hand that Jessica really didn’t want to know better. Unfortunately, he had other ideas.
* * *
T.J. sat quietly at the table eating her own lunch when all of a sudden she heard a scream followed by sobs. Loud sobs. Familiar sobs. Lista, who had been keeping her company, froze in mid-sentence and stood up just as T.J. did.
“Uh-oh,” she said.
T.J. ran in the direction of the sound, motioning for Lista to stay in the room. She pushed open the door and saw a horrible sight. A man—Master Geoffrey, she guessed—was beating Jessica with a whip-like cord. Jess, by now, was crumpled up on the floor in pain, whimpering with every stroke.
“STOP!” T.J. yelled, and charged the big Sffon above her enfeebled friend.
Geoffrey, apparently startled by her verbal intervention, paused and spun, just as she slammed hard into his side. He stumbled but did not fall, and glared at her angrily. T.J. then figured that now may be a good time to get the hell out of there.
She grabbed Jessica as he raised the whip above his head and dragged her to her feet. T.J. pushed her out of the way of the whip and towards the door.
Even though the cord missed Jessica, it struck T.J. on the shoulder. She cried out in pain, but dashed out the door with Jessica before he could hit her again.
“Captain!” she screamed through the house. “We’re LEAVING!”
She heard his startled yelp from upstairs.
“Wait for us outside,” T.J. told Jess, and pushed her out the front door.
She turned around, intent on finding something to hit Geoffrey with, but he was behind her so she ducked as he swung the whip at her face. She scrambled away, hoping he wouldn’t hit her as she moved. He did, but he only hit her ankle. Just the same, it still hurt. She spun around and saw him fumbling in a drawer. By now, Captain Abrigio had made it downstairs.
“Go!” she shouted to him, since he was closer to the door than she was.
T.J. was on her way to the front door and the nearest exit when she heard, “Freeze, or I’ll blow your head off!”
She halted immediately and slowly turned around to face her adversary. He held a big gun in his hand, pointed at her face. The whip lay on the floor, forgotten.
“Put your hands on your head. Now!” he ordered. She complied. “Now let me make it clear that if I catch you trying to escape again, I’ll shoot you without hesitation. Do you understand, human?”
She nodded curtly, hoping that Jess and Abrigio were okay.
“Daddy, no, leave her alone!” shrieked Lista from behind him.
Geoffrey turned around for only a split second, but that was all that she needed. T.J. made a mad dash for the door. He turned around and sprayed shots at her. With a jolt of pain she made it out the door and ran down the street, trying to get as far away from the house as she could. She only made it a few blocks before she collapsed.
* * *
Torel and Jessica waited for a few minutes outside the house, but then they heard Geoffrey shout, “Freeze, or I’ll blow your head off,” and that’s when they decided to duck back an alleyway. In a few minutes they heard Lista scream something, and then several gunshots and complete silence. Jess and Torel peeked out of the alley just in time to see a bleeding T.J. stumble around a far corner.
“Oh, my God!” Jess exclaimed.
Torel hushed her right away and yanked her back into the alleyway as the front door swung open and Geoffrey hopped out, gun in hand. Torel peeked around the corner and watched as the Sffonian looked left, then right, then went back inside.
“It’s okay,” he said to Jessica. She was sitting down in the small alley with her arms folded across her chest. She looked terrible. She had red welt marks all over her skin and her usually neat hair was straggly and messy, hanging in her face. She swept it behind an ear with her hand and wiped a tear of pain away from her eye.
“It’s okay,” he repeated. “He’s gone, Jessica.”
“Captain, we have to go find T.J.!” she said.
He nodded. “Okay, but call me Torel. It’ll make everything so much simpler.”
She shrugged and stood up, at that moment realizing that she was still in her maid’s outfit. “We have to get something better to wear before we go out there,” she said.
He looked around. “I agree, but where can two humans get clothes on this planet without getting locked up?”
“I’ll give you clothes,” said a new voice from behind them. “For a price.”
They spun around to see an old man with two bags. He pulled out two plain black robes from the first bag.
“How much, old man?” Torel asked.
“60 Sffonian dollars,” he answered.
“But we don’t have any—” Jess began, but Torel cut her off.
“All right, give me the clothes and I’ll give you the money.”
The man shook his head. “No, no, no. I’ll give you them when you pay me. Where do you keep money in that outfit?”
“Here, I’ll show you,” he said, and moved closer to the man. “See, there’s a secret little pouch right—” At this point, he jetted his hand up and punched the man hard in the jaw. “There.”
The man was out cold. Torel grabbed the two robes and handed one to Jessica, grabbing another from inside the bag for T.J., if and when they found her.
* * *
Jen, Mark, and Rendar checked out the residential houses one by one. Two of the houses were empty at the moment, and at the last one the little girl who answered didn’t tell them much, just that her daddy was in a very bad mood and to go away before he got madder. They left there without hesitation and headed down the street. On the way they passed a man wearing a huge hat, two children wearing shorts and nothing else, and two people in hooded robes.
“I really hate this planet,” Jen said as they strolled through the streets. “I hope we find T.J. soon so we can get the hell out of here.”
“Jen?” a voice said.
They all froze as if someone had pushed a pause button.
Jen didn’t turn around yet, scarcely believing her own ears. “Did you guys hear that, or was it just my imagination?”
Mark did not answer her, and neither did Rendar. They both turned around and looked around for where the voice had come from. The robed people shrugged off their hoods, and the three of them just stared for a few minutes.
“Jess?” Mark said, circling her. “Is it really you?”
She nodded, tears in her eyes. He wrapped his arms around her, losing himself in her warmth, praying that she was real. She was.
Rendar turned to the captain. “Have you seen T.J.?”
Jessica, by now out of Mark’s arms, exchanged glances with Torel. Neither spoke.
“What? Where is she?” he asked them.
Jessica looked down. “Actually, she sort of got shot,” she said softly.
“WHAT!? Is she…?”
Torel shook his head. “Not yet, anyway. See, we were stuck working in one of the residential houses back there and while we were escaping, she got shot and ran off in that direction.”
“We’ve gotta get to her!” Rendar exclaimed.
No one objected, and they all dashed off in the direction Torel had indicated.
* * *
The first thing T.J. felt when she awoke was the terrible aching pain of her wounds. She winced and slowly opened her eyes and looked around. She was not on the street anymore. She was inside a bedroom by the looks of it, lying in a soft and comfortable bed, but she had no idea where exactly she was. There were cloths wrapped around her left arm, her right shoulder, and her lower left leg, the three places she had been shot. T.J. was no longer in the maid’s uniform. She was dressed in a white tank top and shorts and had, up until now, been covered by a blanket.
She swung her legs over the side of the bed and tried to stand. She failed. T.J. fell to the carpeted floor as her right leg went out. She got no support from her arm and had to lift herself back up onto the bed by using her good arm and leg.
Just as she managed to return to her previous position on the bed, the door swung open. An elderly woman stood there, a cup of tea in her hand. “Ah, good, you’re awake, young one. How do you feel?”
“Weak,” she answered truthfully. “Who are you?”
The woman walked over to her and handed her the cup carefully. “Hush, child,” she said. “Just drink this tea and rest. I’ll answer all of your questions later when you feel better.”
T.J. was too weak to argue, so she shut up and drank the tea. It was flavored with various herbs and spices native to Earth, but she didn’t know what they were exactly. The old woman just sat on a rocking chair and watched her drink, her silky white hair pulled up in a bun. Her face was kind, and her body looked frail, but T.J. guessed that this woman was not as weak as she appeared.
She would’ve had to be strong to carry her here—wherever here was—all by herself. After all, T.J. had been unconscious and unable to assist her in the effort. Of course she could’ve had help, but T.J. doubted it.
In a few minutes she finished the last of the tea and had to admit that it did make her feel a little better. T.J. gently set the tea cup down on a small table beside the bed.
“Thank you,” she said to the woman who was still watching her.
“It’s I that should thank you, child,” she replied. “I’ve not had good company for a long, long time. It’s the least I can do to help you get well if you’ll just talk with me for a while.”
T.J. nodded. “I’ll talk with you. I just need to get out of here afterwards, because my friends are trapped in the prison.”
“Not anymore, they aren’t,” the old woman said certainly.
T.J. gave her a puzzled look.
“It’s all over the news, but I guess you haven’t had much time to sit down and watch television. No matter; I’ll tell you. Three GaMi officers broke everyone out of the prison and killed Karil Sokat and several guards. The police haven’t found them yet, so I’m sure that they’re still there.”
The young commander nodded, then stared at the old woman. “How did you know that my friends are GaMi officers?”
She shrugged. “They are, aren’t they?”
“Well, yes, but—”
The old woman interrupted. “Then it doesn’t much matter, does it?”
T.J. sighed. Getting into a heated argument with the woman who had probably saved her life was probably not a very bright idea. “No, I suppose it doesn’t matter.”
“How did you get out of the prison?”
T.J. looked at the old woman. “I gave them some information that they could use, and they let me go.”
“What’s your name, child?” she inquired.
“T.J.,” she replied. “You?”
The old woman smiled. “Kath.”
“Lieutenant or Commander?” Kath asked suddenly.
The question startled T.J., but she trusted the old woman.
“Commander,” she said. “How’d you—”
“Hush, child. We must find your friends before the police do. I’ll get you some clothes that will cover your bandages in case whoever did this to you is out looking for you.”
T.J. shook her head after Kath had left the room, deciding that this was definitely a strange woman.
To be continued…
Will T.J. be reunited with Rendar? Will Jess and Mark stand in a field of flowers circling each other while birds and a heavenly choir sing? Will the strange old woman continue to be strange and old? Will our brave and perceptive characters look directly at one another and somehow not recognize each other because it’s more dramatic and obnoxious that way? To find out, tune in for the next installment of…