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X LIVES!

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER FIVE : THE SHOWDOWN

TIME : 11:45 A.M.
PLACE : The Grand Canyon

Just like everything else on Triax, the Grand Canyon of Triax dwarfed anything the Grand Canyon of Earth. It was older, wider, longer, deeper, and more dangerous than the one on Earth. It was the perfect place for a showdown between two of the most powerful people in the galaxy.

Peter looked down at the river almost three miles below him and wondered something that small could have created something so big. The rocks were every color imaginable from red to brown to yellow. Peter thought it would be a great place to go if he ever got some extra vacation time and if he didn't go back to Terni.

Besides Shawn and Maylin, Peter was the only one who had actually seen X since his return and he had seen him only because he was in trouble. X was keeping most of his plan a secret which was driving everyone crazy. Poor Shawn was getting most of the abuse.

"What does X have in mind?" demanded Orn. It was almost noon and there was still no sign of X, the Ruler, Doug, or even the Ruler's troops.

"Why don't you ask Maylin?" Shawn cried out in fustration. "She's been with him longer than I have."

Orn turned to Maylin still looking for some answers. She knew that Orn would continue to pester her until she answered the question. At last it was time for her to open up, sort of.

"I was the one who rescued X when he was stranded on Earth," she explained "I come from a place far, far away. I was exploring various planets in your galaxy when I received an interstellar distress signal from Earth. I thought it unusual for it to be coming from such a primitive place, so I went to check it out. There I found X. He asked me to take him to Altair 3 and I had nothing else to do so I gave him his simple request. I had no idea how important he was to your galaxy."

Peter, Hank, Linda and Lisa were insulted when she referred to the Earth as "primitive". From their knowledge and experience, they knew that most advanced races did not refer to other races as "primitive" and concluded that either she knew they were from Earth and just saying that to bug them or she wasn't as advanced as she wanted them to believe she was. Shawn remained immune to her insults. As leader of M.W.G.D. it was his duty to establish peace and he had heard far worse about other planets.

"He took me with him into a secret room and asked the computer to give him an update with what was going on in the galaxy," Maylin continued apparently unaware that she had offended anyone. "When he heard that the Ruler had declared war on Triax, he quickly went to his ship, the XX2. I followed wanting to learn what was going on. He came here and set a few things up. Then, he asked what skills I possessed when I told him I was good with a phaser, he came up with the 'X lives!' slogan to improve the Triax soldiers morale and to let the Ruler know he was back. If you want more information, you'll have to ask X."

Shawn suspected she wasn't telling the entire truth, but it didn't make any difference. She knew enough to make her story credible. Shawn had been in X's secret room on Altair 3 and knew he had a hook up with the Alpha Memory Computer. He had never seen the XX2 before, but he remembered his old ship, the XXI. In its day, the XX1 was the fastest ship of its size. X eventually crash landed on Earth in that ship. Shawn expected the XX2 to be even faster and more powerful than the XX1.

Peter activated his jetpack and looked down into the canyon to see if anyone was there. When Shawn told him what X had said during the night, Peter bought a jetpack for each of them. Paying the money was no problem since he had helped out King Jake XXVIII. As a reward for his services, the king a given him a small plastic card which worked like a credit card except the king payed for what he bought. They were each allowed a free purchase so Peter decided to use his then.

Unfortunately, only Detrina, Orn, and the people from Earth were any good with a jetpack. Most of the others had never even used a jetpack before. Out of all of them, Peter and Detrina were the only ones who could do stunts with a jetpack. Detrina had been born on Terni, a recreational planet, and had used a jetpack from time to time until she was good at it. Peter surpassed even her. He had been devoted to jetpacks ever since joining M.W.G.D.. Hardly a day went by without Peter using a jetpack in one way or another. He had spent many hours in the recreation room at M.W.G.D. H.Q. learning various maneuvers that could be done involving a jetpack. He knew that someday those talents would come in handy. When he thought about it being the first time that he would use a jetpack in a combat situation he became nervous so he tried not to think about it.

He smiled when Detrina flew up beside him.

"Relax," she advised him soothingly. "You're always too hard on yourself. Just think about what you want to be doing when the mission's over."

Peter knew what he wanted to be doing when the mission was over. He wanted to be alone with Detrina at someplace special. Peter looked down and realized he with Detrina at someplace special and that everything was going to work out.

TIME : 11:59 A.M.
PLACE : The bottom of the Grand Canyon

"Should I bring out the hostage?" Beng asked impatiently.

"Not yet," the Ruler commanded. "The longer he's outside, the more opportunities he'll have to escape. Wait until we can use him."

The Ruler had things set up just like he wanted them. Some soldiers were on both sides of the canyon searching for any allies X had brought along while he, Beng, and a handful of soldiers waited for X and the time of the showdown.

Miles overhead, Peter and Detrina spotted the Ruler's ship. They were just about to go back and tell Shawn and the others when they saw something even more interesting. A flare had been fired from the bottom of the canyon creating a blinding light which could be seen for miles around.

"That must be X!" exclaimed Peter trying to come up with a brilliant plan. "You go back and tell Shawn what we found, I'll go down there and see if I can help X."

The two of them separated, each with a crucial task to do.

Peter slowly descended to the bottom of the canyon keeping an eye on the Ruler. He had bought the most expensive jetpack he could find which included a silent mode allowing him to glide softly increasing his stealth and cunning.

Not knowing he was being observed from above, the Ruler reached the origin of the flare, but as he expected, X was nowhere to be found.

"Show yourself!" yelled the Ruler so loud that even Peter could hear him.

X did not show himself. The Ruler knew the time had come to use the hostage. Beng brought Doug into plain sight with his phaser nudged against Doug's temple.

"Show yourself or he dies," threatened the Ruler.

This time he got some results. A hooded figure stepped out into the open, this time dressed entirely in white except for a large, black X on his chest. The Ruler could tell it was X by the way he boldly faced them with an obvious disadvantage.

Suddenly, one of the Ruler's soldiers pointed to the sky. Peter had been spotted. Peter stopped his descent when he knew they saw him and hovered over them safely out of phaser range.

Doug had been thinking he could escape for a long time. Now, he finally had the chance to prove it. Doug used a few judo moves and sent Beng flying to the ground. Then, he ran as fast as he could in X's direction. He passed X and continued to run as fast as he could go. The soldiers fired after him, but X made sure that they didn't get any good shots by returning fire. The soldiers concentrated their fire on X. They had a few good, solid hits, but nothing happened. One by one, the soldiers went down until only the Ruler remained.

"Now it's just between you and me," X declared.

X didn't bother shooting the Ruler because he knew the Ruler had a special laser proof armor, just like he did. Peter watched as the two leaders of their respective groups faced each other in a showdown that would determine the fate of the galaxy. He noted that the two of them were really very much alike. Both of them had secret identities choosing to live by the aliases they had created for themselves. Both of them disappeared on May 20, 2013 after their last showdown. Both of them liked to wear black, symbolic of their mysterious background. However, they had one very important difference. The Ruler's goal in life was to rule the galaxy. X's goal in life was to save the galaxy. Their opposing viewpoints once again created a conflict between them as old as the universe.

Peter swooped down to help, but X motioned for him to stay where he was. The Ruler was better prepared than he appeared to be. Laughing, the Ruler took out a small device with a red button on top.

"Your friend is not out of danger yet," boasted the Ruler sensing his eminent victory. "Before he escaped, my men placed a small bomb on the back of his neck. When I push this button the bomb will go off killing him instantly unless you do exactly as I say."

"What do you want me to do?" X conceited, but still showing he wouldn't give up.

"I want you to get into the brig and take his place as my hostage," the Ruler stated coldly.

X knew that the Ruler would push the button anyway, but under the circumstances he didn't see any alternative. Slowly he walked with the Ruler back to his ship.

Peter was too far above them to hear what they were saying, but when he saw X surrender himself to the Ruler, he knew something was up. He couldn't see it clearly, but he thought he saw X motioning for him to go. There was nothing Peter could do to help X at that time. All he could do was warn the others and hope he could figure out what the Ruler had in store for them.

TIME : 12:00 P.M. (12:00)
PLACE : The top of the Grand Canyon

Shawn and those who were with him saw the flare at precisely noon and knew the showdown had begun. His immediate reaction was to check and see where everyone was. He noticed that Peter and Detrina still hadn't returned and asked Hank to try and find them. He was just about to leave when they heard the familiar sound of a jetpack on high speed.

"It's only one of them," reported Orn who was first to spot Detrina.

As she got closer, Shawn saw it was Detrina which meant Peter was still unaccounted for. Hank flew out and escorted Detrina back to the others. She was exhausted and appreciated the help. When Lisa saw Detrina return alone, she suspected that Detrina had betrayed them after all, however, she knew not to accuse her without proof during a crisis, so she kept her thoughts to herself. If her suspicions were true, Detrina would eventually slip up.

"We spotted the Ruler's ship," Detrina gasped trying to get her breath back. "Peter is trying to help X with the Ruler. On my way back, I saw some soldiers coming this way, about twenty of them."

Even Lisa thought Detrina's warning was sincere. She had no reason to lie about the soldiers. They were going to be outnumbered two to one so they had to plan using the element of surprise. If they were able to surprise their would be attackers, they could even the odds, maybe even give themselves a slight advantage with the way Maylin used a phaser.

Shawn found various hiding places in the area and appointed a person to hide in each spot. Finally, he picked a good hiding place for himself and waited for the soldiers to come marching by. Neurt began to grow impatient after several minutes went by and the soldiers still hadn't come. He was about to leave his hiding place when Antru saw him and ordered him to go back into hiding.

He got back just in time. As the soldiers came into view, Orn counted them. There were only sixteen of them, but each one of them seemed to know what he was doing. It was going to be tougher than he thought it would be.

Each one of them had to time their attack perfectly. If they fired too soon, it would negate their surprise attack; but if they waited too long, they would be shot down before they even had a chance to attack. They had to fire together.

Shawn waited as the soldiers passed by. His fingers clutched on the trigger of his phaser.

"Now!" yelled Shawn and the battle commenced.

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