TIME : March 12, 2012
PLACE : Peter's bedroom
Peter woke up in the middle of the night worrying about the Ruler. He had a pecular feeling that the Ruler was about to attack. Two weeks earlier Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa had entered one of the Ruler's hideouts. Inside they had found a huge supply of drugs and explosives. The Ruler and his subodinates had been selling drugs to the people of the Rigel system to help raise money to buy explosives.
With X's help they were able to take over the hideout and confiscate most of the drugs and explosives. Since that time, however, they had been unable to find any more of the Ruler's hideouts. The hideouts were scattered throughout the Rigel system so they could attack from many different directions at once.
The headquarters of M.W.G.D. (Milky Way Galaxy Defense) was a mobile space station capable of travelling to wherever they were needed. Right now, X had ordered them to stay just outside the Rigel system. Close enough to defend the Rigel system when the time came, but far enough to avoid being detected by the Ruler.
Until M.W.G.D. could find out where the Ruler and his subordinates were hiding, they had to wait for the Ruler to make the next move. Peter was growing tired of waiting for the Ruler to attack, but considering the alternative, actually fighting the Ruler when he did choose to attack, he hoped they would wait forever.
Peter tried to go back to sleep, but the stress of waiting had finally caught up with him. Thinking back to his previous conflicts with the Ruler, he knew that getting involved in a war against him would be a very difficult thing to do. Tossing and turning he continued to think about how fragile the Rigel system was and how easily it could be destroyed.
Since he couldn't sleep anyway, Peter felt he might as well do something constructive. He got dressed and hurried to check on the night shift thinking they could use his help.
Suddenly an alarm sounded throughout the space station. The alarm was used only in extreme emergencies so Peter knew it could only mean one thing, the Ruler had started his attack.
Everyone at M.W.G.D. had been given a set of commands to follow if the alarm ever sounded. Peter had been instructed to find Shawn and await further orders. This was the first time since he joined M.W.G.D. that the alarm had been sounded. He felt a chill as he made his way toward Shawn's office. On the way, he passed hundreds of M.W.G.D. soldiers and officers each of them with a specific task to perform. They were remarkably organized under the circumstances. All of them carried out their instructions as if it were routine.
After a minute, the alarm was turned down so important conversations could take place, but it continued to blare in the background reminding people that they were still in the middle of a crisis. Peter was the first to arrive at Shawn's office. He sat down in the chair closest to the door and waited for the others to arrive. Shawn was a few seconds behind him.
"What's happening?" asked Peter as soon as Shawn arrived.
"It's just as we feared," Shawn replied gravely. "The Ruler is attacking all five inhabited planets at once. Our troops have been deployed to each of the five planets depending on where they are needed the most. Unfortunately, we don't know where the Ruler keeps most of his forces. The troops being led by the Ruler will obviously be the biggest and cause the most damage."
"I want you to stay at M.W.G.D. Headquarters until we can figure out where to send you. For the time being your job will be to gather as much information as you can from the soldiers engaged in battle and report to either X or myself. Remember, our job is just as important as the people who are doing the actual fighting. With our troops scattered on all five planets, we are their connecting link. We need to let them know what their allies are doing."
"I'll get to work on it immediately," Peter assured him.
On his way he bumped into Hank, Linda, and Lisa.
"How did you get here so quickly?" wondered Hank.
"I was up early," Peter explained. "I had a bad feeling about today."
"You're not the only one," Lisa remarked. "The Ruler's been preparing for this war for months, we've just been preparing for a few days. The Ruler will have the initial advantage."
"What did Shawn tell you?" interrupted Linda.
"He told me that we would be monitoring communications until they decided where to put us," answered Peter. "He'll explain it to you."
Peter continued to the communications room while Hank, Linda, and Lisa entered Shawn's office. They normally weren't even awake at this time but they already felt like they had had a busy day.
TIME : 7:00 A.M.
PLACE : Somewhere in the jungles of Darius
A small band of M.W.G.D. soldiers cautiously made their way through the jungle. Being stationed at the M.W.G.D. base on Darius, they were the first to be alerted when the Ruler attacked. Their mission sounded simple, they were to find the location of the Ruler's troops on Darius and report it to M.W.G.D. Headquarters, but it was the most dangerous mission they ever had.
First, they had to find out where the Ruler's troops were hiding without being spotted, a job much easier said than done. Then, they had to get a message back to M.W.G.D. Headquarters and they couldn't do that without giving away their location. No matter what frequency they used, someone was bound to intercept their message.
Geffah, the leader of the expedition, was faced with this dilemma. They had succeeded with the first part of their mission. The Ruler's troops were stationed at a secret complex built in the middle of the jungle. The problem was getting the message back to M.W.G.D. Headquarters.
"One of us will have to act as a decoy by moving to the other side of the complex and alerting M.W.G.D. Headquarters," Geffah began. "This will allow the rest of us to safely return to our base. Whoever acts as a decoy will probably be captured by the Ruler's forces. That person may be killed or slowly tortured. I can't order any of you to take part in such a dangerous mission so I will ask for volunteers. If no one volunteers, I will have to do the deed myself."
"I'll go," said Yoblic. "Get out of here while you still can."
"No," protested Jariah. "I don't want anything to happen to you."
Yoblic and Jariah were engaged. The wedding would take place in a few months if all went well. Jariah knew Yoblic felt it his duty to protect the others, but she couldn't help hoping somebody else would volunteer to take his place. Geffah was too valuable to loose, but one of the others could certainly volunteer. She looked at the others silently pleading with them to be the decoy, but they were unprepared to volunteer for a suicidal mission.
"Stay here," begged Jariah. "I'll send the message."
"I know you don't want to see me get hurt, but we both made a commitment to M.W.G.D.," Yoblic reminded her. "We can't desert them just because things have gotten rough. I'll return before you even know I'm gone."
Yoblic reached into his pocket and handed her a small, silver amulet. It looked old and very valuable.
"Take this," he sighed. "It was given to me by my grandfather. I have taken care of it over the years. Legend says it brings good luck to whoever wears it."
"You need good luck more than I do," stated Jariah. She tried to give the amulet back to Yoblic, but he refused to take it.
"Consider it a gift," insisted Yoblic. "You can give it back to me when we are married. Until then, I want you to wear it."
Yoblic kissed her good bye and disappeared into the jungle. Jariah tried not to cry, but she couldn't keep the tears from streaming down her face.
"We have to get out of here before we're spotted," commanded Geffah. "If we're captured by the Ruler, Yoblic's sacrifice will have been in vain."
Jariah stared at the amulet Yoblic had given her. On the back of it was some writing in a language she didn't understand. She would have to ask Yoblic what it meant next time she saw him.
"Jariah, are you coming?" demanded Geffah.
Reluctantly, she followed the others back to the base. Her body might be on its way to safety, but her heart was still with Yoblic and whatever dangers awaited him.
TIME : 7:15 A.M.
PLACE : The communication room at M.W.G.D. Headquarters
Peter was monitoring the activity on the planet Darius. Most people suspected that Darius was where the Ruler's attack was centered, but so far things on Darius had been uneventful, just a few isolated attacks on small towns and villages. Normally when war was concerned no news was good news, but when the Ruler was involved it usually meant that he was making plans for a major attack, the longer the silence, the bigger the attack.
A message suddenly came in on a frequency restricted for M.W.G.D. use only. Even though the message was automatically recorded, Peter listened carefully to every word.
"This is Lieutant Yoblic of the Darius branch of M.W.G.D.," he reported. "I have located the Ruler's stronghold. About five thousand soldiers are stationed at a complex three hundred meters east of my current location. They are more than capable of overrunning any city they choose to attack. The base must be put out of commission immediately."
The message ended abruptly.
"Yoblic, are you still there?" Peter cried out desperately.
All he could hear was static. Yoblic was unable to respond. Peter reported the recent turn of events to Shawn who in turn reported it to X. X sent a message back to Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa asking them to meet him in the main conference room as soon as someone came to replace them.
TIME : 7:20 A.M.
PLACE : The main conference room
Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa reached the conference room as soon as they possibly could. The room which could seat several hundred people was empty except for three people sitting in the front row. Peter recognized them as X, Shawn, and Rextol.
"Welcome, have a seat," greeted X. "I have decided to send you to Darius. The four of you have always done better in a small group so I am sending you to the M.W.G.D. base on Darius. As I'm sure you've heard, they urgently need your help. Rextol will be accompanying you as a lookout. Also accompanying you will be Ramos, the police officer who helped you escape from Relvac. He has joined M.W.G.D. in order to prevent the Ruler from taking over his home planet. I'm sure you will find his experience as a police officer very useful."
"As you know, one of our agents discovered their based just a few minutes ago. Your job will be to blow it up. Each of you will be given the necessary explosives and told where to place them and how to detonate them. Remember, unlike your previous missions Shawn and I won't be able to rescue you if you get in trouble. You are totally on your own."
"We won't disappoint you," Peter assured him.
Rextol handed each of them a backpack containing explosives that looked like the ones he had seen as Relvac.
"Did we get these explosives from the Ruler's hideout?" inquired Peter.
"Yes," X replied. "We found them in the main storage room."
"How ironic," declared Peter. "The Ruler's base will be destroyed by his own explosives."
"Be careful," warned X. "We're in the middle of a war. If the Ruler captures you, he won't treat you as nicely as he did the last time. They have no reason for hostages. The only reason they'll keep you alive is to torture you for information. Whatever happens, you must not tell them anything. If you do, you will put millions of lives in danger."
"Where is Ramos?" wondered Lisa.
"He's already on Darius," answered X. "When you arrive, he'll tell you what happened."
"We're on our way," stated Linda.
The five of them left for Darius leaving Shawn and X alone in the conference room.
"You're the one in charge of the space station," X told him. "I'm joining the battle in space. The best way to keep the Ruler from attacking inhabited planets in the Rigel system is to keep him from getting there."
"They'll retreat as soon as they see the XX1 on their radar," agreed Shawn. "Even the Ruler wouldn't dare to fight you one on one."
"They might be afraid of me, but they won't retreat," corrected X. "They're even more afraid of the Ruler."
TIME : 7:35 A.M.
PLACE : The M.W.G.D. base on Darius
As soon as they landed Peter, Hank, Linda, Lisa, and Rextol were met by Geffah, Ramos, and a young woman wearing a silver amulet.
"Hello," said Geffah. "You must be the four M.W.G.D. officers from Earth. I have heard so much about you. It is an honor to meet you. I've also heard of you Rextol."
"I will lead you to the base," Jariah interrupted. "It's not very far from here."
"You seem anxious to get there," snapped Peter.
"My future husband is a prisoner at that base," she replied with tears in her eyes. "I want to rescue him as soon as possible."
Peter looked at her sympathetically. He wanted to help her, but there was nothing he could do.
"We'll leave shortly," Peter promised her. "but first we need to learn what you know. We can't enter the jungle not knowing what's waiting for us."
Jariah smiled meekly and nodded her head in agreement. Her emotions were getting the best of her. She had to stay calm and use her head if she wanted to see Yoblic again.
"Inside is everything you need to know," Geffah told them.
Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa had never been inside an M.W.G.D. base other than M.W.G.D. Headquarters so they didn't know what to expect. They were relieved to find that it looked just like M.W.G.D. Headquarters only smaller and not quite as technologically advanced. The only other differences were the people. At M.W.G.D. Headquarters the people came from all over the galaxy bringing a wide variety of races and cultures together. Here most of the people came from Darius and all of them came from the Rigel system.
Even though they were just a local branch of M.W.G.D. they did have some advantages over M.W.G.D. Headquaters. At M.W.G.D. Headquarters, they had to keep track of what was going on all over the galaxy and help out wherever they were needed. Here they were only concerned with protecting Darius so they could concentrate on just one planet. They also got to associate with the general population more frequently and meet the people they were trying to protect.
"How many M.W.G.D. bases do we have?" wondered Peter.
"We try to build a base on every major inhabited planet in the galaxy," explained Geffah. "I'm not quite sure how many we have, but I know it's numbered in the thousands."
The group entered Geffah's office and found all the information they needed; a map of the jungle with the bases belonging to M.W.G.D. clearly marked, a report on the security at the Ruler's base and how to avoid it, a chart on the Ruler's attacks on Darius and how much damage they had caused, and a sketchy map of the inside of the Ruler's base pinpointing the best spots to place their explosives. They studied them carefully asking an occasional question which Geffah would answer to the best of his ability.
When they felt they had learned all they could about the base, they said good bye to Geffah and entered the jungle. Jariah led the way. Since she was the only one familiar with the territory, she would be their guide. The others stayed close behind her except for Rextol who flew above the trees scouting the area.
"Eight soldiers heading your way!" warned Rextol.
The others took cover waiting for the soldiers to pass.
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