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ARIES 1

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER TWO : X AND MARS

TIME : 5:30 A.M.
PLACE : X's Quarters

Rynn knocked on the door and told X that he had some visitors.

"Come in!" he yelled.

When they opened the door, X was seated in a small desk facing them. It looked like he had been expecting them to come for quite some time. Rynn figured that X would want to talk to them alone and left quickly while he still had a chance.

Shawn told X a little, actually a lot, about himself. When he was finally finished with his life story he explained why they had wanted to see him.

"We would like for you to tell us a little about this place," he added at last.

"As you know, the main purpose of this base is to observe planet Earth," he began. "Our secondary purpose is to protect the Earth from the Ruler."

"Do you think he'll attack Earth?" Gary blurted out in horror.

"Not anytime soon," X continued. "There are too many other planets for him to take over and on all the planets in his empire there is some form of rebellion. He will have his hands full for a few years, but, if he crushes the resistance on the planets he has conquered, he will once again try to expand the boundaries of his empire."

"Are there any important features we should know about this base?" inquired Troy.

"All in due time," X replied. "If you chose to stay with us, you will have plenty of time to explore this base. Your information on Earth is vital to our research."

"You seem to know more about Earth than the others," Shawn remarked with a hint of suspicion in his voice.

"Unlike the others who have merely observed Earth, I have actually been there," confessed X. "I risked being detected by landing on Earth for some research that could only be done on Earth. I have been to your cities and farms all over the planet. Earth is going to play a vital role in the future of our galaxy and I want to make sure that it gets every chance to do so."

"I have also helped fight the Ruler in systems elsewhere. The Ruler has tried to take over Altair 3 twice and failed both times. In the Rigel system, we lost after almost a month of fighting. The hardest thing about the Ruler's forces is that they keep coming long after they should have given up."

"Our own organization, M.W.G.D., has made some stupid mistakes that have allowed the Ruler to gain so much power. First of all, M.W.G.D. has been using robots to fight the Ruler so humans wouldn't have to risk their lives. The Ruler's robots are superior to our robots. They destroy them without the slightest hesitation and then attack our ground crews before they have a chance to defend themselves. Only a human being can destroy robots like those. On top of that, we had our headquarters out in the open practically inviting the Ruler to come in and blow it up. They finally took my advice and put the new M.W.G.D. Headquarters in a mobile space station."

"That way they can travel to wherever they are needed," Shawn finished for him.

At that moment, Rynn came running into the room and told them that X was needed for something urgent. X thanked him for reporting so promptlyw said good bye to Shawn, Troy, and Gary, and left the room to see what needed to be done. Shawn, Troy, and Gary were left in the room with more questions than they had when they started out.

TIME : September 12
PLACE : The center of the base

All three of them decided to stay. The base had some luxuries that wouldn't be found on Earth for at least a thousand years. They could go places and do things that they could never do on Earth.

The Aries 1 had been brought to the base. The ship was the latest in Earth technology and was a good indicator of how far Earth had advanced. With no one going back to Earth, the ship was theirs to take apart if they so desire though they wouldn't dream of doing so. The Aries 1 was something to be preserved and returned to the people of Earth as a sign of peace when they finally decided to make contact.

Meanwhile Shawn, Troy, and Gary were learning were learning all they could about the rest of the galaxy. The more they learned, the more they wanted to know. Everything had been happening so rapidly that they needed a chance to catch their breath.

Finally, X thought the time had come to decide whether or not to let Shawn, Troy, and Gary join M.W.G.D. In order for them to join, they had to be approved by the commander of the base, X, and a majority of the other M.W.G.D. members present. X did his part. It was up to the others now. They would have a short debate and then vote.

"How do we know we can trust them not to betray us to the Ruler?" objected one.

"If they were going to betray us, I think they would have already attempted to do so by now," X argued. "The Earth is their home and they want to guarantee its safety as much, if not more than we do."

The vote was a landslide. It was 360 to 23 in favor with only 3 undecided. Shawn, Troy, and Gary were official members of M.W.G.D. and were given duties like everyone else. They were trained to use the computers and cruisers and, in return, they told the others all that they knew about Earth. They couldn't ask for a better deal.

X continued to travel back and forth to do all he could to stop the Ruler. Altair 3 was defended successfully one again and became a symbol of hope. The prediction of the mass murderer almost eight hundred years before still hadn't been fulfilled. Other planets fell to the Ruler, but it was happening at a much slower rate than before. Every once in a while, a planet even broke free from the Ruler's grasp.

X got most of the credit for the M.W.G.D. victories. He had battle plans that made the Ruler's robots totally useless. The Ruler was forced to find alternative methods of attack which made him seem less powerful.

The Ruler refused to admit he was weakening and turned to his spies for help. The spies were ruthless and did all they could to destroy those opposed to the Ruler. Two spies even managed to get into the M.W.G.D. base on Mars by posing as a couple from Altair 3, right under X's nose. The battle on Mars was about to begin.

TIME : July 14, 2008
PLACE : The M.W.G.D. base on Mars

X had been gone for almost six months. He had left the base many times before, but never for that long. The others were beginning to worry about him. At last the news spread across the base that X was on his way back. He had finally returned.

Shawn was glad X was back. In the seven years that he had known X, he had learned to use their most sophisticated computers. He had learned all he could from X about almost anything and advanced quickly in rank. He had become third in command of the base behind X and Rynn.

Troy was also glad of the news of X's return. He was fascinated by all their advanced technology. X had even let him fly around the solar system. Troy's wish of flying into unexplored regions had been granted. He was in charge of the telescopes, the eye to the cosmos. He was the first to spot the XX1, X's personal ship, on its way back.

Gary couldn't care if X was back or not. For the first five years, he had enjoyed it at the base too. His favorite experience was when X had let them come with him and took them to Altair 3. At the time, X had given them a choice to either stay on Altair 3 or return to the base. They chose to stay at the base.

Recently, Gary was wondering if he had made the right decision. He was starting to grow bored with the whole thing. Everything seemed to be the same. He could leave and go to another planet anytime he wanted to, as long as it wasn't Earth which is where he wanted to go. He was sick of people telling him he couldn't go home, yet he obeyed them because the safety of Earth depended on it.

As soon as X arrived, he headed for a place where he could talk to Shawn, Gary, and Troy. He realized that he had been gone of quite some time and wondered how they had been getting along without him.

Unknown to any of them, they had far greater problems. The spies had already reported their location to the Ruler and told him that X was there. The Ruler had a score to settle with X and would be looking forward to getting the best of him.

TIME : July 15
PLACE : Altair 7

A lone soldier came to report to the Ruler the latest information on the Martian base. He had heard stories, just like himself, who had reported to the Ruler and never returned. Trembling, he continued onward until the Ruler stood before him. He stood there speechless unable to move.

"Speak," ordered the Ruler.

"Our spies have found where X is located," he said at last. "It is at a base located on the fourth planet of a star called Sol. It contains about four hundred people including three people from the third planet of the same system and of course, X."

"As soon as we are prepared, order a full scale attack on the base," the Ruler commanded.

He wasn't going to take any chances, but the soldier had his doubts.

"Why waste time with a full scale attack?" the soldier questioned without thinking about what he was doing. "Why not a partial attack now?"

"DON'T QUESTION MY AUTHORITY! "bellowed the Ruler angrily. "X is more powerful than you can possibly imagine! If he is destroyed, the galaxy will fall! GO!"

The soldier left glad to still be alive and arranged for a full scale attack to be prepared. The last thing he wanted was to arouse the Ruler's wrath again. Odds were he wouldn't live through it a second time.

TIME : July 30, 2008 6:48 P.M. (18:48)
PLACE : The base

Troy sensed that something wasn't quite right as he glanced through the telescope. Something was out there, but even he wasn't prepared for what he found. At first it looked like something was on the lens, but upon closer examination he could see that the specks were moving. It was the Ruler's attack fleet.

As he zoomed in on them, he could see wave after wave of ships in battle formation. None of them looked very friendly. There was no time for him to waste. He had to warn X before it was too late.

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