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WAR IN THE RIGEL SYSTEM

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER THREE

TIME : 8:50 A.M.
PLACE : Outside the Ruler's stronghold

Hank, Linda, Rextol, and Ramos had begun placing explosives around the based. They were so busy placing explosives that they failed to notice Xancorra and five of the Ruler's guards approaching. By the time Rextol spotted them, it was too late. They had captured everyone except Rextol who had escaped by flying above the range of their phasers.

The guards took their weapons away from them and placed them in a small pile. They were about to kill all of the prisoners except one as the Ruler had ordered but Xancorra stopped them.

"Not until we have Rextol," she ordered. "If we kill the prisoners now, we will loose our bargaining power. Rextol is still watching us. He won't leave as long as they are alive."

Xancorra flew up to Rextol waving a flag of truce. Rextol acknowledged the flag of truce and flew up beside her.

"Speak while you still can, traitor," Rextol roared angrily.

"The Ruler wants me to kill all of you except one," explained Xancorra. "That one is to be taken back to the Ruler for questioning. However, I will let them go if you surrender and allow yourself to be shot. If you don't I will order them to kill them all. Which will it be, your life or the lives of your friends?"

"I have no reason to trust you," Rextol stated coldly. "You are still wanted for treason back on Triax. I do not make deals with criminals, especially traitors. Let them go and I will surrender myself to you."

"I have no reason to trust you either," mocked Xancorra. "Without that jetpack you're nothing. Do you want to be responsible for the deaths of three people? Return to the ground before I change my mind."

"Why did you come after me?" inquired Rextol. "You knew I was coming after you. I thought you were trying to hide from me."

"I'm tired of hiding," replied Xancorra. "It's time for me to turn and fight. I know I can't beat you while you're on your jetpack. That is why I had to give you a handicap. I am going to land and tell them to kill the prisoners if you don't land before I do. I will go slowly so you will have plenty of time. Think about it. I know you'll do the right thing."

Xancorra slowly descended to the ground. About that time Lisa arrived. She looked at the others and saw that they were in trouble. Instinctively she froze not knowing what to do. She was suppose to ask them to help Peter, Jariah, and Yoblic but they needed help themselves. Her only real choice was to go to the M.W.G.D. base and contact X and Shawn.

She was about to go back when she spotted Rextol and Xancorra. They appeared to be talking, possibly discussing the fate of Hank, Linda, and Ramos. Xancorra began slowly descending to the ground. Rextol watched her for a few seconds then started descending too. She remembered when Xancorra told her how Rextol defeated her when they were both members of the Royal Guards of Triax and how she wanted revenge. Rextol would be killed if she didn't do something, but she didn't know what to do. If she fired at Xancorra the guards would discover her location and she couldn't fight all the guards at once.

She decided to get the attention of Hank, Linda, and Ramos. They knew what was going on better than she did and perhaps had a solution to the problem. Carefully, she crept around to where Hank was watching Rextol and Xancorra wondering what they were doing. Lisa picked up a small rock and threw it in Hank's direction. Hank turned and saw Lisa hiding nearby. Rextol was entering phaser range. Whatever they did, they would have to act fast.

Hank pointed to the small pile containing their weapons. The guards were watching the prisoners, but ignoring the pile of weapons. Lisa quickly crept toward the pile of weapons. She was almost there when one of the guards spotted her. He immediately alerted the others.

Lisa ran to the pile of weapons and threw Hank, Linda, and Ramos their phasers. The three of them immediately fired at the guards and hit them. The guards tried to fire back but it was too late. None of them hit their targets. Xancorra was alone.

Rextol, taking advantage of the situation, captured and disarmed Xancorra. He forced her to land and removed her jetpack.

"It looks like the advantage is mine," gloated Rextol. "I'm taking you back to M.W.G.D. Headquarters. We'll have you in a nice quiet jail on Triax in a matter of days."

"If you let me go, I'll help you destroy this base," pleaded Xancorra.

"You really are untrustworthy!" exclaimed Rextol. "The Ruler can't trust you either. I already told you. I don't make deals with criminals, especially traitors. I'm going to make sure you rot in jail for a long time. We don't need your help destroying this base."

"I'll get even with you!" screamed Xancorra. "I don't care how long it takes. I'll find you and make your life miserable."

"I'm taking Xancorra back to the M.W.G.D. base," Rextol told them. "You'll be on your own for a while. Xancorra's jetpack is just like mine so you shouldn't have too much trouble using it."

Rextol forced Xancorra into the air and took her to the M.W.G.D. base where Geffah would be waiting for them. The others examined the jetpack wondering which one of them would have to use it.

"Where's Peter when you need him?" wondered Linda. "He enjoys using jetpacks. This would be a great opportunity for him."

"I forgot to tell you," stammered Lisa. "Peter and Jariah have been captured. I was supposed to come back and tell you. We found Yoblic. The Ruler must have been torturing him. His entire body is covered in bruises. All three of them are in terrible danger."

"We'd better go after them," declared Hank.

"I'll stay here with the jetpack and the explosives," said Ramos. "Someone has to stay here and tell Rextol where we've gone."

"Be careful," warned Hank. "The Ruler's soldiers are everywhere."

"I was chief of police before I joined M.W.G.D.," Ramos reminded him. "Before that I did plenty of undercover work, so I know how to stay hidden."

"Lead the way, Lisa," ordered Hank.

Hank, Linda, and Lisa entered the base leaving Ramos alone with the jetpack and the explosives. He strapped on the jetpack and waited for Rextol to return.

TIME : 9:00 A.M.
PLACE : The cell

At Jariah's request, the soldiers had locked all three of them in the same cell. Peter and Jariah were both greatful that Yoblic didn't have to stay in the cell alone. Slowly Yoblic began to recover. He opened his eyes to see what was going on around him, but his eyes were almost completely swollen shut.

"Yoblic?" asked Jariah. "How are you feeling?"

"I'm too numb too feel anything," replied Yoblic. "What are you doing here?"

"Peter and I tried to rescue you," explained Jariah. "We couldn't leave you here alone."

"I'm sorry we can't do more for you," added Peter. "We'll get you to a hospital as soon as we get out of here."

"Is there anybody else?" wondered Yoblic.

"My friends Hank, Linda, and Lisa are somewhere near the base," answered Peter. "We have known each other for years. They're very reliable. If they have a chance of rescuing us, they will. We also have Rextol, my jetpack instructor, and Ramos, a former cop. One of them is bound to find us."

"You have a great deal of confidence in your friends," commented Yoblic.

"We owe each other our lives a thousand times over," stated Peter. "When one of us is in trouble, the others will not rest until all of us are safe. Jariah feels the same way about you. She insisted that we try to rescue you."

"I wish she hadn't," frowned Yoblic. "Before, I was the only one in danger. Now all three of us are in danger. The Ruler only needs one of us to get the information he needs. The other two are expendable."

"None of us are going to talk," Peter predicted confidently. "The Ruler will have a tough time deciding which one of us to keep."

"I couldn't leave you here," insisted Jariah. "Not after sacrificing yourself to warn M.W.G.D. Headquarters and save millions of lives. We have to finish our wedding plans."

"You would have done the same," Yoblic said comfortingly. "and we don't need wedding plans. We have each other. That's all that matters."

Jariah and Yoblic embraced and kissed each other. Jariah was careful not to touch any of Yoblic's bruises. Peter turned his head giving them as much privacy as he could give them. Examining the outside of the cell he noticed that no one was anywhere near them. If they could open the cell, it would be very easy to escape. Unfortunately, the cell door wouldn't even budge.

TIME : 9:15 A.M.
PLACE : Near the cells

Hank, Linda, and Lisa hadn't spotted anyone on their way to the cells. They searched carefully, but no one was anywhere near them. It was as if all the Rulers soldiers had been ordered elsewhere.

"It smells like a trap," warned Hank.

"Trap or not we have to rescue them," urged Lisa. "They're depending on us."

"We won't do them much good if we're captured too," argued Hank. "I want to rescue them as much as you do, but we have to take precautions. If we can't even keep ourselves out of danger, how are we supposed to help them?"

"What do you recommend doing?" inquired Lisa. "We've searched for enemy soldiers. If they are watching us, they're well hidden. We can't panic at the slightest hint of danger. The best thing to do is find them and get them out of here."

Hank reluctantly agreed to continue. With no one else in sight they reached the first cell. It was empty.

"Over here!" called Peter.

Hank, Linda, and Lisa ran over to the furthest cell where Peter, Jariah, and Yoblic were being held. They were glad to see each other. Together they had a better chance of escaping that they did alone.

Hank cut the lock and opened the cell door. Peter and Jariah assisted Yoblic as they made their way back to the exit.

"Going somewhere?" asked a figure dressed entirely in black except for a purple visor covering his face. "I should have known Shawn would send the four of you."

Hank and Linda fired at the Ruler. Both of them hit him, but the Ruler wasn't affected by their phasers. He wasn't even slightly injured.

"Do you think I'd confront you alone if I could be wounded by your puny phasers?" mocked the Ruler. "I have faced tougher opponents than you and defeated them. You will not bother me much longer."

"Run!" yelled Hank.

The Ruler just laughed as they ran away from him. Peter and Jariah had to support Yoblic which slowed them down considerably. The others had their own problems to worry about. They had to find another way out. Just when they thought they had gotten away from the Ruler, they turned the corner and ran into Yot and a dozen of the Ruler's soldiers. The Ruler quickly caught up with them running faster than the fastest runners on Earth.

"You may not be afraid of death, but are you afraid of pain?" demanded the Ruler. "I will not give you the pleasure of dying. I will torture you slowly, for years if necessary, until you are ready to talk."

The Ruler turned to Jariah and Yoblic.

"Now that I have the four of them, you two are no longer needed," the Ruler sneered hatefully. "Yot, kill them."

Yot removed his phaser and looked the two of them over.

"I wonder which one of you I should kill first," snickered Yot.

He moved his phaser back and forth between the two of them finally deciding on his target, Jariah. Will an evil grin on his face he prepared to kill his victim.

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