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Continue To The Next Chapter - Chapter 2

THE GHOST PLANET

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER ONE

TIME : December 12, 2014
PLACE : Alpha Memory "The Ghost Planet"

The Ruler stood solemnly in the middle of the ruins of a once great city. The wind stirred up a few dust storms in the background that quickly passed away into nothingness. It had the appearance of evening although it was in the middle of the day. Nothing was what it seemed to be on Alpha Memory.

Alpha Memory was once the most advanced planet in the galaxy. It was the center of trade and the place everybody dreamed of visiting someday. Then, about sixty years ago, the lifeforms on Alpha Memory were totally wiped out. Like the dinosaurs of Earth, scientists suggested many theories as to what happened to them, but none of them had any clear cut answer and Alpha Memory became out of the greatest mysteries in the galaxy.

The technology of the people of Alpha Memory remained after they were gone. The most famous of which was the Alpha Memory Computer. For those who could find it, the Alpha Memory Computer had records of every planet in the galaxy, something the Ruler would find highly valuable if he ever got his hands on it. In addition to its massive collection of data, the Alpha Memory Computer could answer 94.9 percent of all the questions people asked it. Such an accomplishment was unparalleled by any other computer anywhere.

The Ruler knew about the Alpha Memory Computer and the rumor that it could be found inside the tallest building of one of the ruined cities, but the Ruler had something else in mind. Something more deadly than all the records in the universe.

The Ruler constantly had research teams working around the clock to create better and more effective weapons. After they had invented something, the Ruler would test their new weapon on the members of the research team that he considered unnecessary which was about 90 percent of them. Of course, if the weapon didn't work he would have them killed anyway so if was a no win situation for the research team.

If Vondwin's assistants had known this, they wouldn't have volunteered to help with the project. As it was, they were silently cheering as Vondwin handed a small bottle of blue liquid to the Ruler, the result of five years of research.

Vondwin was from Altair 3, a planet which had eluded being conquered by the Ruler for a long time. While most people on Altair 3 were opposed to the Ruler, Vondwin saw a great opportunity to get ahead in life and joined the Ruler's forces. The Ruler had noticed his knowledge of the thought project and assigned him to a research project that would be illegal anywhere else. In order to keep his experiments a secret he decided to work on the ghost planet, Alpha Memory, an ironic setting for the most powerful brainwashing device ever created.

"The liquid you have in your hand is normally a highly unstable gas, but we have managed to stabilized at 100 degrees Kelvin," Vondwin explained. "Once release it instantly reverts back to a gas rendering anyone exposed to it unconscious, but instead of killing them, the gas effects their memory cells giving them no recollection of what has happened to them making them easily susceptible to other peoples suggestions. They will become your slave for life and, best of all, the process is irreversible since it totally destroys certain brain cells controlling free will and memory."

The Ruler was impressed. "If this stuff works, I'm making you my new second in command," the Ruler declared. "Have you tested it on anyone?"

"We have tested it on a few prisoners who were shipped over here, but we haven't done any official tests on it yet," Vondwin announced knowing what to expected from previous discussions with the Ruler explaining what to do when the research was complete.

"Prepare your gas masks," ordered Vondwin securing his gas mask in place.

The other scientists began to panic finally sensing that something had run amok.

"We didn't bring our gas masks," stammered on of the scientists who was slow to catch on.

Suddenly, it hit him and started running like mad.

The Ruler watched them panic for a few seconds and then opened the bottle and threw it into the middle of the crowd. Some of them were effected by the gas immediately and slumped to the ground. Others got down on the ground, below most of the gas, and attempted to crawl away to safety. They were unsuccessful. Still others were able to escape the gas altogether and ran straight into the Ruler's robot army. The robots fired mercilessly upon the crowd until the last scientist was either dead or a victim of the gas.

The Ruler was pleased with the demonstration. The gas spread quickly and its effect was instantaneous. He could start another was with the Triax government and dump the gas on all its major cities or even Altair 3. When the scientists recovered, they had no idea where they were or who they were or what they were doing there. They just stared blankly at each other and the Ruler and Vondwin. Now that the Ruler knew the first Dart of Vondwin' s explanation was true, he was ready to test the second part. The Ruler pointed at one of the scientists.

"Do you see that tall building to the right of you?" he asked him.

"Yes," the scientist replied deliriously.

"I want you to go to the top of it and jump off," the Ruler commanded.

The scientist casually did as he was told to do thinking it was his purpose in life and landed with a loud splat on the ground below.

"Excellent!" commended the Ruler. "How long will it take you to mass produce this stuff?"

"It depended on how much of the stuff you want me to make," Vondwin reasoned coyly.

"I'll give you as long as you need," the Ruler assured him giving his new second in command more respect than he gave most people. "I'll even give you my robot army and those zombies we just created to protect you. Just make sure you can produce the gas."

"I have a program in the computer room that will retrain these people to act with some intelligence, but still give them the desire to obey our commands," Vondwin stated.

The Ruler didn't respond. He went back to his ship and left Vondwin alone, except for robots and zombies, on the ghost planet of Alpha Memory.

TIME : December 26, 2014 11:00 A.M.
PLACE : M.W.G.D. Headquarters

M.W.G.D. (Milky Way Galaxy Defense) was an organization designed to protect the galaxy from any foreseen dangers, especially those coming from the Ruler. They were highly organized and ready for action, usually.

They day before, Shawn had thrown a Christmas party for his employees who had to work on what he considered to be a holiday. Unfortunately, there were no days off from protecting the galaxy. There was always some potential danger lurking about.

Shawn was in the same boat as the rest of them. Someone had to work on Christmas, but they could at least have a party while doing it. They had a Christmas tree, presents for each other, and everything. There were no emergencies on that day, so the party went on as planned.

Today, their luck caught up with them. Shawn gave his friends some time to recover, but he had to send them on another mission. Peter was to first to arrive. He had always gotten on to the others about not recognizing Earth holidays just because they were no longer living there. He finally got what he wanted and was eagerly awaiting the next mission, provided that he got back in time for the New Year's celebration he had planned. Hank was next on the scene. He groggily sat down and glanced upwards at Shawn. He had enjoyed the Christmas party just like everybody else, but he was ready to get back on a regular schedule. Linda came in just a few seconds later. She seemed to be unaffected by the party, but looks could be deceiving. She had had the time of her life, but she was always serious and entered with businesslike efficiency.

"Where's Lisa?" Shawn inquired after a few minutes went by.

"We don't know," Hank answered. "Last time I saw her she was in her office writing a few things about the Christmas party in her diary."

"At least you've never had to spend the night with her," Linda cut in. She sits up in bed and writes for hours. It really annoys me!"

"And then she won't let anybody read it," Peter added. "Did you the fit she pitched when I picked up her diary after she dropped it."

The room grew silent. Lisa had entered the room. She pretended she hadn't heard them though they had knew she had heard everything they said about her. The others wanted to apologize, but they knew that would only make things worse. The only thing they could do was let time pass and hope that everyone forgets all about it.

Shawn broke the ice by doing his job and giving them the information they needed to know about their next mission.

"One of our secret agent found illegal activities on Alpha Memory," Shawn began. "A closer investigation revealed that the Ruler was behind it. Then, we lost contact. Whatever they're doing, we know it will result in a weapon of epic proportions. At all costs, this weapon must not be brought to the Ruler."

Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa looked at each other with an understanding of what had to be done. However, Shawn was not through speaking.

"Your mission is to go to Alpha Memory and sabotage anything that belongs to the Ruler and can be sabotaged," he continued. "Make sure their experiment can never be repeated."

"Could you tell us something about Alpha Memory?' wondered Peter, a question Shawn did not want to hear.

"I have never been there," Shawn confessed. "but X has perhaps lie will help you."

Before Shawn became leader of M.W.G.D., X was the leader. Like the Ruler, he kept his past a secret preferring to live by his self-created secret identity. X had retired from M.W.G.D. and now worked alone occasionally crossing paths with his old friends at M.W.G.D..

As the others started to leave Shawn's office, he called out after them, "Oh, yes, one more thing. In order to reduce the risk of detection, the four of you are going alone. Since Alpha Memory is a ghost planet, I cannot guarantee there will be anyone to help you as you have been on all your previous missions."

"Understood," Peter acknowledged.

Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa got their things together and left for Alpha Memory.

TIME : December 27, 2014 7:00 A.M.
PLACE : 1500 meters away from a deserted city on Alpha Memory

After traveling all night, Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa landed on the baron world of Alpha Memory. As they began to look around, they saw many similarities between Alpha Memory and Mars where they had had their first interplanetary experience. Both of them were deserted with red soil and an atmosphere that made it appear that it was always night time. However, there were some major differences. Alpha Memory had buildings scattered all over the planet while Mars did not.

Even though Alpha Memory had become a ghost planet, it was still the origin for the official M.W.G.D. coordinate system. All over planets were measured by the number of light years it was away from Alpha Memory.

"A rather dismal place for the center of the known universe," Peter thought to himself.

Lisa saw that the others had taken a break and decided to use the time to write in her diary. She half expected them to start bugging her about it and she was right.

"Do you have to take that thing with you everywhere you go?" complained Linda.

"By the time we get back to M.W.G.D. H.Q., I'll have forgotten what I wanted to write," Lisa stated bluntly.

"What are you writing about?" insisted Peter knowing what her answer would be.

"Nothing," she replied unconvincingly.

Hank came over and sat down beside her. Lisa immediately closed the diary.

"You are going to have to learn to trust people more," lectured Hank trying not to be cruel. "There will come a time when you will have to open up to other people. You're life may depend on it. You can't keep everything all to yourself."

Lisa got up and walked away trying to ignore the others.

"Lisa does trust other people," defended Peter watching Lisa continue to write in her diary from a distance.

"I know," Hank confessed. "I just wanted to give her something to think about. I never intended to disregard her right to privacy."

Hank walked over to where Lisa was, walking slowly to make sure Lisa saw him in time to prepare for his visit. Once again she closed the diary, this time a little more casually, and smiled.

"We're sorry for the way we behaved," conceited Hank. "If you want to come join us, you're welcome to do so."

"Apology accepted," Lisa declared Lisa rising to her feet. "I'm through writing and maybe someday I'll let you read it."

The two of them walked back together in friendship.

TIME : 7:05 A.M.
PLACE : Inside the deserted city

Vondwin knew that the M.W.G.D. officers had landed not too far away from where he was and went up to the Ruler to ask him what to do. Unknown to him, the Ruler had decided that he had lost to M.W.G.D. too many times and had decided to let someone else sweat it out for a change. It would be a perfect initiation for his new second in command.

"The have found us!" cried Vondwin in a state of total panic. "I knew we should have brainwashed that secret agent of theirs instead of letting the robots kill him."

"It wouldn't have made any difference," the Ruler explained unsympathetically. "I have dealt with those four many times. They are members of Shawn's personal staff. Defeat them and you will bring Shawn to his knees."

"What should I do?" asked Vondwin knowing the rewards would be greater if he made the Ruler think that he was the one in charge of the operation throughout its duration.

"Just do what you normally do," the Ruler advised him. "I have brought you a little help."

The Ruler clapped his hands twice and two servants came in, one male and one female. Both of them had on official M.W.G.D. uniforms and looked like two of the people outside. Vondwin stood back in amazement.

"It's Peter and Lisa!" he exclaimed.

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