Return To The Previous Chapter - Chapter 1
"Where is Arrin?" inquired Peter.
"The Ruler's troops killed him shortly after we landed on Triax," Craya began. "but we managed to escape with most of Arrin's secrets. After fleeing for several days we came across this abandoned church and decided to hide here until someone from M.W.G.D. came to get us."
"That still doesn't explain how you knew my name," insisted Peter.
"Your reputation precedes you," continued Craya. "We picked up a message from the king and queen asking M.W.G.D. for help."
"If you overheard them than the Ruler probably overheard too," realized Peter. "We have to get you out of here."
"We can't leave without the computer disk," insisted Craya.
"What computer disk?" asked Peter.
"The one Arrin used to record the Ruler's military secrets," replied Craya. "Without it your mission will be in vein. I know right where it is. It will only take a second."
While Craya went to get the disk, Peter decided to take a look outside. Five soldiers dressed entirely in black were walking along the dirt road towards the church. All of them had a weapon of some klnd and looked like they wouldn't hesitate to use it.
"We have company," warned Peter. "The Ruler's soldiers are headed this way. They must have followed me over here."
"This church has plenty of places to hide," Armac assured him. "It will take them hours to find us."
"No," sighed Peter. "They know I'm here. I want the two of you to hide until the Ruler's troops are long gone. Then, I want you to go to the nearest city as quickly as possible and try to contact M.W.G.D. Headquarters."
"What will have to you?" demanded Armac.
"I don't know," admitted Peter. "but it is vital that you get Arrin's information to M.W.G.D. Headquarters. The fate of over half the galaxy depends on it. I'll try to cover for you."
"It's too risky," argued Armac. "I've seen what the Ruler's troops do to the people they interrogate. If you're lucky, they'll kill you on sight. If not, they could torture you for weeks until they get the information they want. We're not worth that kind of risk."
"Do you have a better plan?" wondered Peter. "Either they capture me or they capture all three of us."
Armac was about to protest, but Craya spoke first.
"Better do as he says," she said. "He was captured by the Ruler's troops before and managed to survive. He and his fellow Earthlings don't seemed to fear the Ruler like the rest of us. This could be the beginning of the Ruler's downfall. Peter could probably destroy the Ruler if he ever gets the chance. I'm sure of it."
Peter smiled. He had become a galactic hero. Unfortunately, he was still no match for the Ruler.
He walked out of the church with his hands in the air and shouted, "I surrender!"
TIME : 9:50 A.M.
PLACE : The Freedom Squad's Hideout
Lisa was getting nervous. It had been almost half an hour since Peter, Linda, and Hank left, but there was still no word from them or their guides. She was curious why she hadn't been sent out to find something like the others, but she wasn't going to let it bother her.
She got her diary out and started writing. Occasionally, she glanced up at Tullen and Ralax. They were silently watching her from the other side of the clearing. Neither of them had said a word for at least fifteen minutes. They were content to stand, sit, or pace. Lisa felt as if they were waiting for her to do something, but she was in no hurry. She could wait as long as they could. Lisa put her diary away and sighed. The silence was finally getting to her. "When are you going to test me?" she asked Ralax.
"I thought you'd never ask!" exclaimed Ralax greatful that she had finally spoke. "I've saved the best test for last. I want you to find a skeleton. Yesterday, somewhere in these woods, someone was murdered in a rather violent manner. I want you to find what is left of the skeleton and bring it back to me. Tullen will show you the area in which to look."
"Are you responsible for the murder?" demanded Lisa accusingly.
"As much as I'd like to take credit for it, I'm afraid the man was killed by someone else," Ralax explained. "He was the leader of a resistance group on Altair 7 who was hunted down by the Ruler's soldiers."
Lisa's heart sank. The man fit Arrin's description. If it was indeed Arrin, they were too late to find out what he knew about the Ruler. The skeleton suddenly became very important to her. If she found the skeleton, she could confirm whether or not the skeleton belonged to Arrin. Even if it was Arrin, perhaps she could find something on him that would make her efforts worth while.
"Why didn't you try to save him?" shouted Lisa. "He was the leader of a resistance group just like you are."
"We're having enough trouble battling the Triax government," argued Ralax. "We don't need the Ruler breathing down our necks as well. We don't like the Ruler, but as long as he leaves us alone we will do the same."
"The Ruler is not going to leave you alone for long," insisted Lisa. "He plans to take over Triax and any other planet in his path until he rules the entire galaxy."
"For someone who wants to join our organization, you sure are critical of it," scolded Ralax. "It is not a good idea to demand changes in our agenda before you're even a member. Keep it up and I might not let you join at all."
"I'm sorry," conceded Lisa. "I'll bring back the skeleton as soon as I possibly can."
Tullen led Lisa on the same path Peter had taken. He eyed her suspiciously. At first Lisa backed away, but something inside her reminded her that she couldn't back away so she evenly returned his gaze. None of the members of the Freedom Squad trusted her, but Tullen trusted her the least.
"You seemed awfully concerned about that skeleton," Tullen said at last when he was sure no one else was listening.
"I don't think we should have let him be shot," stated Lisa. "He came from a successful resistance group and probably had much he could have offered the Freedom Squad."
"You don't care about the Freedom Squad," accused Tullen. "You work for M.W.G.D.!"
"What are you talking about?" wondered Lisa.
"Don't play innocent with me," snapped Tullen. "Even as we speak your friends are being followed by some of the Ruler's best soldiers. You are young and inexperienced, but perhaps we can train you. Tell us who you are and what you're doing here and I promise you a life of luxury in the Ruler's empire. However, if you choose not to cooperate I can make your life very unpleasant."
Lisa started to run, but Tullen pulled out a gun. Lisa froze in her tracks. She was unarmed and unable to avoid Tullen's phaser from such a close range. Tullen whisled and two of the Ruler's soldiers came out of hiding. Lisa couldn't believe her eyes. She was sure they were alone.
"If you thought the Freedom Squad was good at hidding, they're nothing compared to us, bragged Tullen. "Soon the Freedom Squad will be down on its knees. Who knows? Ralax might even be sharing a cell with you."
"Help!" screamed Lisa at the top of her lungs, but it was no use.
Either the Freedom Squad didn't hear her or they refused to get involved. Either way she was on her own.
"Take her away," commanded Tullen.
TIME : 10:00 A.M.
PLACE : Another clearing
"We're here," announced Glidia. "You can begin searching for the crown and staff."
Glidia had done her duty. She wanted nothing else to do with the newcomers. She quickly turned and headed back before Hank could ask her anything else.
Hank was glad to see her go. Now he could continue with his primary mission: find Arrin and bring him back to M.W.G.D. Headquarters. He had no idea where to begin looking for either Arrin or the staff and crown. He picked a path leading away from the clearing and started down it hoping to find something. Suddenly he heard a muffled cry.
"Glidia?" called Hank.
There was no reply. Hank knew that Glidia was still close enough to hear him but was either unwilling or unable to respond. After the muffled cry he had to assume the later. Hank slowly and cautiously set off after Glidia.
"Glidia," he called out again, this time not quite as loudly.
He was near the spot where he had heard the muffled cry. Dirt had been kicked up and some of the smaller branches had been broken indicating some kind of struggle.
"Don't move!" ordered a voice.
Hank found himself surrounded by five of the Ruler's soldiers. One of them was holding Glidia's limp body.
"What have you done to her?" Hank demanded.
"She has only been stunned," the guard holding her replied. "but we can easily kill her. It all depends on how cooperative you are."
"What do you want me to do," sighed Hank.
"We want you to come with us," commanded the first guard. "We're going to pay the Ruler a little visit."
TIME : 10:05 A.M.
PLACE : Yet another clearing
Linda was greatful for a chance to rest after their long walk. She didn't know how far they had traveled, but she did know she was completely lost. All she could do was look for the map and hope the others were able to find her.
Miggs was less eager to relax. She knew that she was vulnerable when she relaxed. She had to remain alert at all times. Suddenly, she heard a noise in the distance.
"Who's there?" she called out.
There was no noise except for a faint rustling sound gradually coming closer. By this time, Linda could hear it too. She sprang to her feet not wanting to be taken by surprise.
"Halt or I'll fire!" warned Miggs sounding more frightened than she was willing to admit.
The rustling noise grew louder still and closer still. Miggs fired in the direction of the rustling sound. At the same time five armed guards came up behind her.
"Drop the gun," ordered one of them jabbing the gun into the small of her back for emphasis.
Miggs did as she was told. She couldn't believe she had been stupid enough to go after their decoy. She was mad at herself for being tricked so easily and very mad at the guards who had captured her. Somehow, she would get revenge. The decoy came out of the woods and grabbed Linda. Linda was surprisingly cooperative. The two of them walked over to Miggs where the guards tied their arms together.
"Get moving!" shouted the guard. "Or do you want me to tie your legs together too?"
Linda and Miggs were led to a small shuttle. From there they were taken to a huge ship almost as big as M.W.G.D. Headquarters. If they ever had a chance to escape, they lost it the second they entered the docking bay of the other ship. The place was swarming with soldiers and all of them had their attention focused on the two prisoners.
The two of them were marched into the prison section of the ship. On either side of them was a huge transparent barrier with at least a dozen sick and hungry prisoners banging on the barrier and shouting something that couldn't be understood from the other side. The words couldn't be understood, but the message was clear, "Leave! While you still have a chance. Anything is better than being stuck in this place."
Linda felt the desire to flee, but she knew that it would be suicide to try. She turned to Miggs who started to shudder. She was even more afraid than Linda was.
At last, they came to a large metal door.
"Turn around," ordered one of the guards.
Linda and Miggs did as they were told as the guard punched a secret code into a side panel. The large metal door opened and Linda and Miggs were led inside. As the door closed behind them they could another transparent barrier that looked just like the other two.
"This must be the maximum security unit," thought Linda. Linda and Miggs were forced inside.
"So they got you too," sighed Peter. "I was hoping you'd get away."
Linda was looking back at the door and hadn't seen Peter before he spoke. The noise startled her, but she was also comforted by it.
At the back of the room, Peter, Hank, Lisa, and Glidia were all huddled together.
"How long have you been here?" wondered Linda.
"Not very long," Lisa replied. "Fifteen minutes at the most. Tullen is a spy for the Ruler. He was on to us from the very beginning. We never stood a chance."
"Apparently, Tullen doesn't know everything," hinted Peter.
"What do you mean?" asked Glidia.
"I can't tell you right now," explained Peter. "They're probably listening to everything we say. All I can say is that our mission was at least a partial success."
"Do you think they'll try to rescue us?" inquired Hank.
"I guarantee it!" smiled Peter.
TIME : 10:15 A.M.
PLACE : The Freedom Squad's Hideout
Ralax waited for the others to return. He chuckled to himself as he uncovered a large sack that was hidden underneath a pile of leaves. Inside the sack was the holy symbol of the Trinity, the staff and crown of Jake XII, an ancient map of Triax, Arrin's skeleton, and several other things in case others came to be tested. After checking to make sure every everything was there, Ralax covered the sack with leaves until it was completely hidden. Like all who preceded them, Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa were right next to the objects they were looking for and didn't even bother to check. He smiled knowing the four of them would be lucky to even find their way back.
Most people he tested gave up without ever finding what they were looking for thinking the only place they could check was they place they were led to (where the object had previously been). However, a few of them were clever enough to return to the Freedom Squad's Hideout. They normally had no trouble finding the sack full of treasures and were immediately initiated into the Freedom Squad.
This was normally the case, however, Ralax had decided that he would not let the newcomers join the Freedom Squad no matter what they did. There was something not quite right about their motives.
He looked around impatiently. Lontus, Glidia, Miggs, and Tullen should have returned by then and he guessed correctly that something had happened to them.
"Prepare for an attack!" he yelled to the members of the Freedom Squad still hidden.
"I see Lontus!" one of them called back. "He's headed this way."
Ralax was relieved to know that at least one of his scouts was still safe. He waited for Lontus to see what he had to say.
"What kept you?" he demanded when Lontus finally arrived.
"A small army is out there," replied Lontus. "They're after the newcomers. I had to take the long way back to avoid them."
"Ten people dressed in black are approaching from the northeast," warned the lookout. "They don't look very friendly."
"You fool!" scolded Ralax. "You led them right to us!"
"He's not the one to blame," declared Tullen stepping out of his hiding place. "They didn't follow Lontus. I told them where to come."
"Traitor!" roared Ralax. He charged in Tullen's direction intending to strangle him, but pulled out a gun freezing Ralax in his tracks.
"Ten more people approaching from the west," stated the lookout.
"Attack immediately," Ralax cried in desperation. "Don't let them reach the clearing!"
The Freedom Squad was well trained, but the only weapons they had were the ones they had stolen from the Triax Royal Military Force and their only defense was the trees. The soldiers on the other hand, had standard issue phasers with the latest technology and they were even more skilled at fighting. The battle didn't last long. Soon the entire Freedom Squad had either died or surrendered.
Ralax watched the battle and saw how easily the Freedom Squad had been beaten. He gave Tullen a look of both anger and despair.
"You have beaten us," he acknowledged. "What do you want us to do?"
"We want you to come with us until the Ruler decides what to do with you," explained Tullen. "I'm sure some type of deal can be arranged."
"You'll pay for this," warned Ralax. "I don't know when, I don't know how, but I'll escape and hunt you down. Then you'll be sorry."
Tullen laughed at him as if he were a small child.
"You're not going to be able to do anything for a long time," he stated coldly. "If I were you, I'd forget all about your dreams for revenge. They're not going to help you."
TIME : 10:30 A.M.
PLACE : The maximum security cell
Peter had guaranteed that they would be rescued but even he knew it would be at least several hours before a rescue attempt was made. In the meantime, they would have to keep the Ruler happy enough to keep them alive without revealing any vital information.
"I know they haven't forgotten about us," began Peter. "I wonder when they'll return to see what we know."
"They can wait as long as they want," declared Linda. "I'm in no hurry "
Suddenly the door opened and Ralax, Lontus, and several others were thrown into the cell.
"This is your fault," accused Ralax. "If you had stayed at M.W.G.D. Headquarters, where you belong, the Ruler would have left us alone. I don't know which is worse, you or the Ruler."
"You'll soon find out," predicted Peter acidicly. "How long has Tullen been a member of the Freedom Squad?"
"A little over a year," replied Ralax.
"The Ruler would have left you alone if we hadn't come," continued Peter. "The Ruler must have considered you a threat, otherwise he wouldn't have kept a spy in your organization for so long. I admit we accelerated the process, but the Ruler would have attacked eventually."
"Regardless of whether or not the Ruler was going to attack, you never should have come," argued Ralax. "The Freedom Squad is opposed to all types of government, especially galactic ones. M.W.G.D. was set up by a former king of Triax and I am opposed to anything that has anything to do with the Triax monarchy."
"Someone's here to see us," interrupted Peter.
Ralax turned around and saw three figures on the other side of the barrier. The one on the left was Tullen and the one on the right he recognized at Yot Montesula, the Ruler's second in command, but it was the figure in the center that made him fearful He was dressed entirely in black except for a large purple visor covering his face. Even though he couldn't see the face on the other side of the visor, he knew the Ruler was staring him down.
"You, you, you, and you, come with me," ordered the Ruler pointing to Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa.
His voice was as sinister as his appearance.
Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa felt compelled to obey even though they did not know what the Ruler has in store for them.
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