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THE RULER RETURNS

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER FIVE

TIME : 2:05 P.M. (14:05)
PLACE : Outside the hideout

Still hiding in the bushes, Peter spotted three soldiers taking Linda back to the hideout. He whispered to Orn his plan to strike back. If it had been any more soldiers, the best thing to do would be retreat, but with only three soldiers and the element of surprise in their favor, rescuing Linda was far more important than avoiding battle.

Peter double checked to make sure they were hidden from the enemy. Then, they waited for the soldiers. Knowing that the slightest sound, the slightest movement could give them away, Peter and Orn held their breath as if the air itself were against them.

The soldiers thought that Linda was the only spy, so they weren't even looking for the others. Peter gave the signal and Peter and Orn fired simultaneously fired at their chosen target. The soalldiers were completely taken by surprise. Both shots were hits. Two of the soldiers were stunned before they even knew what had happened.

The third soldier dropped his gun and surrendered. He thought that there were many more attackers than there actually were and he didn't know what had happened to the other two. All he was concerned about was his own survival. He too was stunned.

Peter and Orn jumped out of the bushes. Linda had wondered who the attackers were and was greatful to see they were friends.

"I thought you had been captured," said Linda glad to see otherwise.

"We were, but we escaped," Peter explained. "Where are Hank and Lisa?"

"The last time I saw Hank, he was following Lisa's signal to that house over there," Linda recalled Linda picking up her gun from the stunned soldier and checking the homing device. "However, both Hank and Lisa must have left since then."

"That's the house were headed to," Orn declared "Maybe Abria knows where they are."

The three of them started off towards the house keeping a sharp eye out for trouble. They knew that they weren't safe yet, nor could they expect to be as long as the Ruler was around. Anything could happen.

TIME : 2:10 P.M. (14:10)
PLACE : Abria's house

Linda, Peter, and Orn reached Abria's house without incident. Orn knocked on the door since he was the only one that knew Abria and they didn't have much time to waste.

Abria answered the door immediately. She didn't normally have too many visitors, but she had already had two visitors on the same day, not including the search party. However, she stiallall wasn't ready for Orn and two more visitors.

"Orn, what an unexpected surprise!" Abria greeted them in a pleasant tone of voice. "What brings you out here on a busy day like today?"

Orn briefly explained their mission and why they need to know where Lisa and Hank were. Abria replied that both of them had come to her house just before leaving for Capitol City.

"M.W.G.D.," declared Abria. "I knew they were hiding something from me."

"Well you didn't exactly tell the whole truth yourself," Orn scoled. "The important thing is we know where they are and they are safe for the time being."

Peter, Linda, and Orn left as quickly as they had come, heading off to Capitol City to catch up with Hank and Lisa.

TIME : 2:30 P.M. (14:30)
PLACE : The Royal Palace of Triax

Shawn had come with about twenty other M.W.G.D. officers. He had promised the king that he would come at the first available opportunity and, as usual, he kept his promise. The guards would not let a party of that size see the king and queen, so Shawn told the others to wait for him outside while he went in alone.

The king and queen were glad to see him. They had thought that Shawn would not arrive until the next day, but Shawn had made arrangements to leave his previous engagement early so he could deal with the Ruler's return himself. No one was offended when he left. After all the primary job of M.W.G.D. is to defend the galaxy and what individual was a greater threat to the gaallaxy than the Ruler.

Shawn was quick to ask what had happened to his friends. He knew the king was going to send them on some sort of secret mission, but he knew they had dealt with the Ruler before and were more prepared to deal with him than even he was.

The king explained where Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa had gone and what they were doing there. He also told Shawn that all of them were heading back to Capitol City. Hank and Lisa were a little less than ninety minutes away and had warned the king and queen about a plan to assassinate them so the Ruler could become king of Triax and declare war on Altair 3. Peter, Linda, and Orn were a little more than ninety minutes away and gave a few details to what Hank and Lisa had told them. Two of the Ruler's agents had been surgically altered to look exactly like the king and queen. Somehow they would replace the real king and queen and declare war on Altair 3.

"We are scheduled to give a speech tonight," the king stated. "Now I'm not so sure. If there is going to be an assassination attempt,that will probably be the time that it will occur."

"I will personally see to it that you get all the protection you need," Shawn declared. "With the combined forces of the Triax Royal Guards and M.W.G.D. it will take a very crafty assassin to even try to get a shot off."

"But the Ruler is a very crafty assassin," reminded the king.

"Then we must double our efforts," Shawn insisted.

Shawn talked with King Jake the twenty-eighth and Queen Lynn the first about how to set up future undercover operations on Triax while the people that worked for them set up one of the tightest security systems ever seen since the creation of the Omega Destroyer, the Ruler's most powerful weapon before it was destroyed around the white dwarf of Alpha Centauri. There was no sign of the Ruler or his followers, but they all knew that it was only a matter of time.

TIME : 3:00 P.M. (15:00)
PLACE : The secret hideout for Triax People for the Ruler in Capitol City

The Ruler instructed his troops with his latest plan of attack. He knew that his arch enemy, Shawn, was on Triax to protact the king and queen. He also knew that Peter and Orn had escaped and had warned them of their coming, but this didn't change anything. He was determined to gain control of Triax and from there, the rest of the galaxy.

Other than the two facts previously mentioned, everything was going according to his plan. Just as the king had predicted, they were going to wait until the king and queen were about to give their speech. Then, the Ruler would put his plan into action.

After the Ruler had finished instructing his troops, the bald man asked him, "How did you ever manage to escape from the Omega Destroyer?"

The Ruler just smiled. It was a smile no one could see behind his purple visor, but it was enough to prove the Ruler had returned.

TIME : 3:49 P.M. (15:49)
PLACE : The Royal Palace of Triax

Hank and Lisa arrived and prepared to defend themselves against whatever awaited them. To their relief, the Ruler's forces hadn't attacked yet. To their surprise, Shawn was there waiting to greet them.

"Shawn!" exclaimed Hank when he first saw his boss waiting for them.

"Surprised to see me?" Shawn remarked showing that he hadn't lost his sense of humor. "I was just in the neighborhood and thought I'd drop by."

"Well you couldn't have picked a better time," added Lisa. "The Ruler might attack at any moment."

"We have already prepared ourselves for such an event thanks to your early warning," announced the king entering the room with the queen right by his side.

"The Ruler has tried to beat us before and failed. He will fail again," predicted the queen.

The others only hoped the queen was right. They remembered how long it took to defeat the Ruler before. The battle had raged on for days before the Ruler finally gave up. The Ruler only had a small fraction of the army he once had, but he knew how to use the forces he had.

Hank and Lisa took turns telling of their adventures while the others listened to every word as if they were explaining how to stop the Ruler. When they were through speaking, Shawn told them that Peter, Linda, and Orn were safe and sound and on their way to Capitol City. Hank and Lisa were glad to hear that and waited patiently for their friends to arrive.

TIME : 4:03 P.M. (16:03)
PLACE : Just outside the Royal Palace of Triax

Peter, Linda, and Orn were greeted by a combination of Triax Royal Guards and M.W.G.D. officers on their way to the castle. They were told that Shawn had arrived and was helping the king and queen prepare to defend themselves against the Ruler.

Orn had never met Shawn before, but he knew he was the leader of M.W.G.D. If he was having a meeting with the king and queen, something big was bound to happen.

Hank and Lisa were at the door anxiously waiting for them. After the happy reunion, all of them walked up to the throne room where King Jake the twenty-eighth and Queen Lynn the first were seat in their proper positions as the true rulers of Triax. Shawn was sitting in the seat just to the left of the two thrones which was reserved only for members of the family or very important guests.

The king asked Peter, Linda, and Orn to tell their story just like Hank and Lisa did. Lisa was particularly interested in what they knew about Abria. She had been a mysterious friend in her time of need and Lisa wanted to know more about her. After they were through accounting for where they had been, the king ordered them to relax until further notice.

Linda protested, but the king didn't achieve his high status by giving in to the first person to disagree with him. Soon, Linda realized that arguing would be futile, so she went back into the room she had spent the night in and waited.

TIME : 7:30 P.M. (19:30)
PLACE : The Royal Palace of Triax

Almost three and a half hours had gone by since the had all been reunited, but still no sign of the Ruler. Since dinner, about an hour earlier, the king and queen gave the others permission to do practically anything they wanted to do while they rehearsed their speech.

Peter looked out the window and saw the crowd gathering for their speech. It would be very easy for an assassin to blend in with the crowd. All of the sudden, Peter saw the bald man that they had met back at the hideout. He was walking up to the platform where the king and queen were going to give their speech in a few minutes.

Several T.V. cameras were in the area ready to televise the speech over the entire planet. All cameras were focused on the platform where the bald man was getting ready to speak. He seemed to know he was the center of attention and almost seemed to be laughing at the Triax Royal Guards and M.W.G.D. for their pathetic attempt to stop him.

Peter opened the window so he could hear what the bald man was saying and told the others to come listen as well.

The bald man wasted no time and went straight to the point.

"It gives me great pleasure to present his royal highness, King Jake the twenty-eighth, and his lovely wife, Queen Lynn the first," he announced.

Up stepped the imposters.

Before anyone had time to react, Peter ran out the door and headed straight for the platform. He was not going to let the Ruler get away with it.

Lisa was the first to figure out what was going on. The only difference was that she saw something Peter didn't seem to notice. She ran after him and called out, "Don't Peter! It's a trap!"

Peter knew it was a trap, but he didn't have time to stop and figure things out. He knew exactly what the Ruler had in mind. The imposters were going to declare war on Altair 3. With all the publicity they were receiving, some of the most hot-blooded people on Triax would start the war immediately. By the time thing were straightened out, hundreds of people would be killed and the Ruler would be in a much better position to attack either Triax or Altair 3. Someone had to stop them before they could get started.

Peter heard a noise behind him and turned around to investigate. He saw his would be attacker sink to the ground in a cloud of smoke.

"I owed you my life," declared Orn taking credit for the sudden turn of events. "Now, we are even."

Peter didn't even have time to stop and thank him. He knew that he only had seconds to reach the platform. When he reached it, he stunned the bald man before anyone had a chance to stop him. They could find out his identity later. Hank and Lisa came to his aid and stunned the phony king and queen.

The crowd began to panic. The Ruler was attacking, but Peter stood his ground.

"There is no need to panic!" Peter reassured the crowd. "The king and queen are safe inside the castle. These are imposters. Now, please leave the area in an orderly manner."

Hank, Linda, Lisa, and Orn helped with the evacuations while Peter fled for safety. He found his way into the crowd just in time as severaall shots hit the place where he had been standing.

The crowd was evacuated in record time. Only a few minor injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, the battle raged on between the Rule's troops and the combined forces of M.W.G.D. and the Triax Royal Guards. The Ruler had grossly underestimated the numbers he would have to face. As well as the twenty M.W.G.D. officers Shawn had brought with him openly, he also brought about one hundred other M.W.G.D. soldiers, all of whom had had experience dealing with the Ruler. The king and queen also had forces in addition to the famous Triax Royal Guards, all of them were the best trained experts available. The Ruler and his troops were heavily outnumbered. Another mistake the Rulers troops made was they attacked too soon. The people the Ruler wanted to kill, Shawn and the king and queen, were still in the castle. They hadn't had time to come outside yet and when they did, they felt it was more important for them to remain safe than it was for them to help fight the Ruler in some seemingly insignificant way.

Peter, Hank, Linda, Lisa, and Orn did their part in the battle against the Ruler by applying some of the Xanamite they had left to the wounds of some of the soldiers. At first, they helped everyone, but as time went by and the supply of Xanamite lessened, they had to choose who to heal and treated only the more seriously wounded.

The Ruler was power hungry, but he wasn't stupid. He knew when he was outmatched. The Ruler orded an immediate retreat. All at once, the Ruler's forces fled. They stopped whatever it was they were doing and headed by to a predesigned place where they could regroup. A few of the M.W.G.D. people and a few of the Triax Royal Guards took off after them, but they soon gave up the pursuit.

TIME : 8:06 P.M. (20:06)
PLACE : The streets of Capitol City

A loud cheer could be heard throughout the streets of Capitol City. The battle was over just as suddenly as it had begun and the Ruler had been beaten. Hcwever, they knew their victory was only a temporary one. The Ruler had reestablished himself as a major threat to the galaxy. It was true that they had captured the bald man and the phony king and queen and a few others on the Ruler's side had been either stunned or killed, but the vast majority of the Ruler's forces escaped. There was no doubt that they would be back.

Surprisingly, no one fighting the Ruler had been killed. It was a good thing the battle ended when it did, because they had run out of Xanamite. Peter looked at the empty vial. It had served its purpose. The only thing left to do was to return it to the king.

Copyright MCMLXXXIX, MCMXCIX