"I have seen
firsthand the impact these savages wreak on an unsuspecting planet!
Look at Rimbor! While some may feel our little corner of the galaxy
is better off without it, may I remind you that it has been transformed
from a den of thieves to a full scale weapon-producing economy
practically overnight! Imsk! Braal! Phlon! Will Earth be next?
Or maybe Durla? Or Kathoon? We must unite the remaining worlds
under one flag, dedicated to preserving one another's freedom,
before the flag of Khundia's tyranny flies over all our worlds!
I urge those of you here today to petition your governments through
whatever legal means necessary to support my ideas. Now is the
time to unite our planets!"
Several in the
gathering crowd echoed the phrase in unison, "United Planets
The chant grew
louder as the crowd picked up on it. For Rokk Krinn, who came
into his teen years on a world already under Khundian rule, this
freedom to gather in such a manner, and to express such ideas
seemed peculiar. Did these poor souls not realize that when Khundia
does conquer their worlds, they will be executed for their brashness?
Surely they've heard the tales from the other worlds. Rokk shook
his head in disbelief. "What do you make of all of this Ranzz?
Do you believe a remaining handful of worlds can mount an offensive
against the Khundian Empire, even if they do unite?"
Garth shook his
head. "The Free Worlds would be lucky to mount a defensive
effort when Khundia attacks them. Brande does speak well though,
The voice was
female. Rokk recognized its melodious tone from earlier. Imra
Ardeen. She had slipped in behind them during Brande's speech.
"I think his ideas are interesting. They would work, if the
governments of the Free Worlds gave them a chance."
Rokk shook his
head. "I know the Khundian war machine firsthand. The Khunds
are simply too powerful for such a force, and they plan their
attack so well. Three-hundred thousands Braalians died before
we realized they re-configured their weaponry with non-magnetic
Imra covered her
face with her hands. "You're Braalian? Now I feel even worse,"
do you mean?" Rokk asked.
her head. "That kiss...earlier. I know how you must feel
about my people. I hope you're not mad. I don't usually act so...forward
with strangers." She glanced at Garth Ranzz and then turned
back to Rokk. "I was just...I...I'm sorry."
his shoulders. "As long as you're not Khundian, it doesn't
bother me. Besides, our worlds fought so long ago...."
The three acquaintances
watched as Brande wrapped up his speech to enthusiastic applause.
Reporters representing most of the free worlds of the galaxy crowded
around him as he descended from the stage. "Please, I ask
that you focus on the issues! This old man's face need not be
plastered on the cover of every holo-vid from here to Zoon! As
these people are saying, 'United Planets Now!'"
would you care to pose for the cover of Mars Today?" asked
a middle-aged man wearing a long red coat.
himself to the inevitable. He assembled a few of the dignitaries
who had been on stage with him to pose for the holo-camera. He
glanced at the beings around him and cried, "For Unity of
The reporter seemed
to have other ideas. "No, no! That will never do! I need
everyone else to step back. I want a shot of Brande alone!"
dismissed his colleagues and faced the camera once more.
find my Ayla and Mekt. Last I heard they were on Starhaven."
Imra nodded. "Maybe
you're not as bad as I thought Ranzz. Listen, I'm with Tel-Net,
Titan's Profiler Unit. I'm headed to the Science Police Academy,
maybe I could run a check...."
got to do this myself. I appreciate it though," Garth answered
Rokk cleared his
throat. "I hate to break up the party, but I need to find
a place to stay. It was great meeting the two of you. Before I
go though, download my P.C.I.D.*, and we'll keep in touch."
(*Personal Communications Identification*- Dave)
found his PCID. Imra searched through the small purse draped over
her shoulder. "It has to be here somewhere. I just had....Ohmigosh!"
Rokk jumped. "Imra,
Imra pointed across
the room to the news reporters surrounding Brande. "Those
men are going to assassinate RJ Brande! No time, the camera!"
Without a moments
hesitation, Garth extended his hands. Bolts of lightning spewed
from his fingertips, arcing over the crowd. His aim was true,
as the electrical energy emanating from his hands blew the "camera"
into tiny pieces. Two larger men saw what was happening and lowered
laser rifles at Garth.
Panic swept through
the crowd at the sight of the weapons. Many hit the floor, covering
themselves as best they could. Some sought refuge underneath the
many tables around the conference hall. A few braved the danger
and raced to the door.
his senses. "Didn't your mother ever teach you not to play
with these things? Someone could get hurt." Using the magnetism
which made the natives of his homeworld so proficient at MagnoBall,
he ripped the guns from the men's hands. The weapons flew across
the room and into his waiting arms.
The two men made
a break for the door. They got only half way before they collapsed
to the floor. They seemed to be in agony, clutching their heads.
In moments, both lay unconscious.
The holographer fell to his knees. "Please, don't kill me!
Whatever you did to my friends, don't do it to me!"
Imra walked toward
the cowering man. She pointed toward the Titan Telepath badge
on her blouse. "It's called a Mental Blast. They'll be fine
in a few hours. Now are you going to tell me who sent you, or
do I have to ferret the information from your numb skull?"
The man replied
with a pathetic whimper and folded his body into a tight ball
at Imra's feet.
Imra furrowed her brow. After a few moments, she turned to Garth
and Rokk and shook her head. "No good. He has a telepathic
shield implanted. I can't get through."
The man suddenly
seemed more confident, uncurling his body from the previous position.
He started to stand. "That's right, little girl! Men like
Brande need to be silenced for all our sakes, and as long as someone
is willing to pay..."
Imra looked at
the man in disgust. She pointed to his two cohorts."Two things,
creep. One, you may have an implant, but those frag-heads over
there don't. I know who sent you and why. Two, I don't need a
mental blast, when I still have a perfectly capable foot!"
Imra kicked the man, her foot striking him above his cheekbone.
He crumpled to the floor.
With the three
men subdued, the hall erupted with deafening applause. In a matter
of moments, holo-cameras filled the room once more. Those who
fled the assassination attempt gathered back into the room chanting,
"United Planets Now!" Everyone wanted a glimpse of the
very determined "old man".