TIME : May 5, 2015 6:35 P.M. (18:35)
PLACE : The Ruler's main base on Atlair 7
Ignoring the phasers that were being fired all around him, Zargothamew darted at top speed toward the docking bay. The other members of the mission had been killed leaving Zargothamew with the responsibility of warning M.W.G.D..
Originally, they had been sent to work as double agents so M.W.G.D. could remain one step ahead of the Ruler, but on their first day, they had uncovered a massive attack force that was going too attack Atlair 3 in less than a week. They couldn't afford to wait until it was convenient to report their findings. They had to act then and there.
The leader of the mission tried to send a message to M.W.G.D. Unfortunately, the base was equiped with a jamming device that made it impossible for them to communicate with any one outside the base. Worse still, the Ruler's troops picked up the signal and came after them with full force.
Zargothamew had acted quickly and was able to get away from most of the soldiers. Most of the others were not quite as fortunate. They ran straight into the Ruler's soldiers who shot them down without a second thought. Only three of them remained out of the ten who had started the mission and their chances of getting out alive were slim.
Zargothamew, who had previously been third in command, suddenly found himself as the leader of the mission. He was rather inexperienced with less than two years experience at M.W.G.D., but what he lacked in knowledge he made up for in determination.
"This way!" he commanded pointing in the direction of the docking bay.
One of them was shot down rounding the corner leaving only one person other than himself remaining. The soldiers were gaining on them every second. He heard a fatal cry behind him and knew he was on his own. He had to reach the docking bay no matter what the cost might be.
Somehow, he was able to elude his pursuers by hiding in a nearby storage tank. The tank was empty giving him plenty of room to move about without having to worry about being discovered. He was safe for the moment.
From his vantage point, he watched the soldiers march past him without even bothering to check the storage tank. Zargothamew knew that it was only a matter of time before he was discovered. They could pump a lethal chemical into the tank and kill him without even knowing he was there. However, if he left, it would mean certain doom.
He had a micro tape recorder attached to the back of his M.W.G.D. badge. Its original purpose was to record enemy conversations, but Zargothamew planed to put it to a different use, to record himself.
"Active!" he commanded. That was the word that triggered the recording mechanism. It would continue to record until he told it to stop.
"This is Lt. Commander Zargothamew Hevlit with an urgent message for M.W.G.D. Headquarters and the people of Altair 3," he began speaking softly so he wouldn't be overheard. "The Ruler has built up his largest military force to date. Almost twenty times as large as the military force on Altair 3. The Ruler is planning to launch an attack on Altair 3 in only a few days. There is no way that the Ruler can be defeated under the current circumstances. A victory over Altair 3 would leave a large portion of the galaxy completely defenseless. All available forces should be sent to defend Altair 3. This is a battle we cannot afford to loose."
"Should you receive this message, report it immediately to either the Altair 3 government or M.W.G.D. I may not survive this ecounter, but I know I have done my part to stop the Ruler. Now it's up to you. May God be with you."
He stopped the recording satisfied that his message was clear and precise. The only problem was how to get it to M.W.G.D.. He looked outside the storage tank again and, to his relief, he found the area to be void of soldiers. It was safe for him to leave.
As he neared the docking bay, his heart raced as he saw he was going to make it. Suddenly, a short was fired behind him went past his right shoulder missing his head by only a few centimeters. He had been discovered.
Keeping his eye out for trouble, Zargothamew entered the docking bay and stole one of the Ruler's best ships. A security code was required to operate it, but M.W.G.D. had taught him how to get around it. In less than a minute, he was ready to take off.
While he was waiting for the engines to warm up, he removed the micro recorder from his badge and placed it inside the ships communication system. The message would be broadcast nonstop in the direction of the M.W.G.D. base on Altair 3. As soon as he was out of the range of their jamming device, his message would be heard.
He took off in a straight line as fast as he could go. At the same time, the computers picked up the ship the Ruler had declared to be occupied by an enemy and launched a guided missile after it. Zargothamew tried to aviod the missile, but it was no use. He became the first casualty of the Ruler's new weapons system.
He died thinking he had failed his mission, but he had managed to avoid the missile just long enough to escape the jamming device. The message was on its way to Altair 3.
TIME : 7:41 P.M. (19:41)
PLACE : M.W.G.D. Headquarters
Shawn was on his way back to his office after a conference with the ambassador from Tygella when he bumped into a brown, scaly humaniod with a grave expression on his face.
"Rynn!" Shawn exclaimed.
Back when Shawn had first joined M.W.G.D. he had worked at a now vacant base on Mars. Rynn had been very kind from the day they first and Shawn returned the favor by appointing him second in command of M.W.G.D. after he became leader.
Shawn hadn't seen his old friend in almost a year and was looking forward to having a casual conversation, but Rynn's look of urgency told him that it was not time for casual matters.
"An hour ago, we received a message from one of our best agents just before he was shot down attempting to escape from the Ruler's main base," he began. "He warns us that the Ruler has assembled a military force more powerful than the Omega Destroyer incident and he's planning to use it to attack Altair 3 sometime in the near future."
"The other planets have been warned and are sending forces to help defend Altair 3, but we still need more information. We are still not sure exactly big the Ruler's army is or when he's going to launch his attack or what kinds of weapons are in his new arsenal?"
"We need some of your best officers to go on an emergency mission to the Ruler's main base and pick up where the previous mission left off. If we are to defeat the Ruler, we must remain one step ahead of them."
Shawn ordered the navigator to set a course for the Altair system immediately. He was greatful that X, the previous leader of M.W.G.D., had moved their headquarters to a mobile space station. He did it so the Ruler would not be able to pinpoint their location, but Shawn had found another advantage. He could move M.W.G.D. Headquarters to wherever it was needed. He wasn't quite sure who was in command of the M.W.G.D. base on Altair 3, which he felt guilty about since he was supposed to keep track of such things, but he knew most of the higher ranking officers from earlier encounters and was fairly certain that one of them would be in charge.
His next task would be to decide who to send on the emergency mission. Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa were the first people to pop into his head, but he didn't like the idea of sending them on such a dangerous mission. Like himself, the four M.W.G.D. officers had come from Earth creating a strong bond between them. If anything ever happened to them, he would loose all contact with his former home.
However, he knew that they were the most capable of completing the mission. Like the parent of an adolescent, he knew he couldn't hold on to them forever. He would have to let them go. He contacted Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa and told them to report to him at the first possible opportunity.
In less than a minute, all four of them had arrived. When they saw Rynn was with him, they knew it had to be something important. Shawn and Rynn were normally on opposite sides of the galaxy. Rynn would frequently go to a planet in Shawn's place when Shawn was needed in two places at once. From that logic, this time Shawn was needed in the same place twice, something equally impossible.
"Long time, no see," said Lisa fully aware of the gravity of the situation.
The silence that followed seemed to last forever. Each was waiting for the other to speak and none of them wanted to talk about bad news. At last, Shawn started to speak. As the leader of M.W.G.D., it was his responsibility, one he couldn't appoint to somebody else.
"I'm not going to kid you. This is probably the most dangerous mission I have ever had to send you on," Shawn told them heading straight to the point. "A team of double agents were killed attempting to do what I am sending you to do now. Only one of them was able to escape at all. He was shot down by one of the Ruler's missiles seconds after telling us what he had learned."
He paused briefly as the others took in the initial shock of what had happened. All of them appeared willing to continue with the mission in spite of the previous group's failure. Shawn didn't think any of them would back down, but he had to be sure.
"You will enter the Ruler's main base and learn all you can about his arsenal," Shawn continued as if he had never paused at all. "I know you have dealt with the Ruler many times before, but never on his home planet or his main base. The odds will be quite different there so I will have no hard feelings if you choose not to go."
Shawn was giving them a second chance refuse their assignment. Each of them knew that deep down inside Shawn had grown attached to his fellow Earthlings and didn't want them risking their lives unless there was no other alternative.
"We all want to go," insisted Hank.
"I haven't turned down a mission before and see no reason to do so now," agreed Linda.
"There was a commitment we made to protect the galaxy when we first joined M.W.G.D.," Lisa recalled. "They need us now more than ever."
"We're all in this together," Peter declared trying to sum up there feelings.
Shawn was pleased with their enthusiasm. It was almost as if they were looking forward to another confrontation with the Ruler.
"We are headed toward the Altair system right now," Rynn informed them. "We will rendevous with Shrame and a few of his associates. Shrame will tell you all you need to know."
At the mention of his name, Shawn finally remembered the commander of the M.W.G.D. base on Altair 3. Shrame was placed in command while Shawn was busy stopping the Ruler from invading Quintar which was why he hadn't remembered.
Altair 7 had once been a place for Altair 3 to dump their hardened criminals. Even hundreds of years later, they still treated Altair 7 as a planet for inferior people. By the time the people of Altair 7 finally realized their mistake, the Ruler had taken over Altair 7 and used the wrongs done to them by the other planets, especially Altair 3, as an excuse for starting his empire. Altair 3 had always managed to survive the Ruler's attacks, but the neighboring planets had fallen. Altair 3 was completely surrounded by the Ruler's empire.
Altair 3 was once one of the most powerful planets in the galaxy, but they had been weakened over the years by the Ruler's constant attacks. Both sides knew that Altair 3 would eventually fall if the Ruler wasn't stopped. The only question was when.
After a somewhat redundant lecture on the importance of Altair 3 to both sides, Shawn gave Peter, Hank, Linda, and Lisa the details of their mission.
"You will be disguised as Altair 7 soldiers and head for Zhrook's Space Station, a neutral site located about halfway between Altair 3 and Altair 7. Its convenient location makes it a perfect place for both sides to exchange information."
"Zhrook Offogen, the owner, is believed to be associated with the Altair system's version of the mob, but no one has found any evidence to convict him. His most loyal and trusted friend, Chav, works for us. He will tell you where to go from there."
"Chav knows more about Altair 7 than we do, so we have placed him in charge of the operation. He has been informed of your coming and will be prepared for your visit."
"You'd better leave now," interrupted Rynn. "We need the information before the Ruler attacks."
Shawn agreed and sent the four of them to a fitting room where four Altair 7 uniforms had been custom made for them. Peter looked at the others, then at himself. He was amazed at how much they looked like Altair 7 soldiers.
They hardly had a chance to get used to their new appearance before they were lead into an unmarked ship headed for Zhrook's Space Station.
"I think they meant it when they said we'd better leave now," sighed Peter.
"Yeah, agreed Hank starting up the engines. "I'm surprised they didn't push us inside."
There was a long silence as the four of them watched M.W.G.D. Headquarters get smaller and smaller until it disappeared from sight. They knew that that was the last they would hear from Shawn, Rynn, and the rest of their friends at M.W.G.D. until the mission was over. They had concerns of their own to attend to. They had to find Chav on their own.
TIME : 7:45 P.M. (19:45)
PLACE : The Ruler's main base
One lone soldier headed toward the Ruler's office to tell him the bad news. Being the newest and lowest ranking soldier at the base, she had the unenvyable job of telling the Ruler what her superiors had discovered. They were smart enough not to go anywhere near the Ruler with news such as theirs. As the soldier got closer to the Ruler's office, she wished she had been the smart, or at least had someone lower ranking than her that she could order to do the task for her. Unfortunately, she was the newest person with the lowest rank. The job could not be handed down any further.
Trembling, she knocked on the Ruler's door.
"Come in," said the Ruler.
She opened the door and walking up to the Ruler. He was sitting down facing her. He seemed to already know that she had been ordered to tell him some bad news. When a soldier reported to him, it was bad news. When it was good news, the officers would tell the Ruler themselves.
"Speak!" commanded the Ruler. His voice had already lost its friendliness, if it ever had any.
"Remember the team of spies we shot down," she stammered.
"Did of them escape?" the Ruler roared angrily.
"No," she managed to reply. "but one of them was able to send a warning to M.W.G.D. Other planets are sending their military units to help Altair 3."
"No matter," sighed the Ruler. "They probably would have found out anyway."
The soldier was greatly relieved to see the Ruler wasn't angry and started backing slowly toward the door. She wanted to leave as soon as possible, before the Ruler did get angry.
"Did I give you permission to leave?" snapped the Ruler as soon as her hand touched the door.
"No," she whispered finding that she couldn't say anything above a whisper.
"I want the security at this base doubled!" shouted the Ruler. "All preparations on the attack fleet be completed by the day after tomorrow. Every second we delay means that many more people will be waiting for us on Altair 3. We must work quickly! Altair 3 will fall! I will achieve my rightful place as Ruler of the Galaxy!"
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