The Trom Planetoid, Outside the Walled City
Demon-Mother preserve us!
Waves of shame crashed against the jagged rocks of Tarakas
soul as he called out to his deity. Such words were usually reserved
for the moment before the Escort to the Fields of Forever. He
was a Khundian warrior, a Captain of the House of Dragoon, born
and trained for the art of war. He led the Fifth Infantrys
famed Siege of Bala during the Imskian campaign. Now his finest
troops were being manhandled by a group of children whose variety
of evolutionary abilities neutralized the First Tenet of Engagement
identify your adversarys strength and neutralize
it. No wonder the Great Zaryan took such an interest in eradicating
the threat of the fledgling United Planets movement.
Such diversity was difficult to overcome and a danger to Imperialism.
But these were no ordinary children.
The red-haired youth wielded the fury of the storm itself. Lightning
erupted from his fingertips with ferocity. Tarakas was stunned
to see Spawn Tanks ripped open like discharged munitions shells.
His Brethren fell like dead men before the young mans onslaught.
The dark-haired male was obviously Braalian. Weapons existed
to dampen the Braalian ability to control magnetic fields, as
well as special non-metallic battle-gear designed for use in the
Braalian Invasion. However, his troops were ill-prepared to deal
with a Braalian on NT-306, and certainly not a Terramaster as
formidable as this youth. Two Succubus-class Attack Skiffs collided
with a deafening explosion at the youngster's bidding.
A phantom-like female phased her atoms into nothingness only
to solidify them once again as her fists, feet, knees and elbows
materialized an instant before making contact with the face, ribs,
or crotch of her frustrated opponent. Tarakas never saw a Bgtzlian
before and thought the pesky race vanquished once their homeworld
phased out of existence. This girl was teaching his troops a
firsthand lesson in how difficult it would have been to conquer
her world. Fear was evident in the young womans eyes,
but even the Demon-Mother herself would smile upon such skill
A cursed Carggite was among the group as well. Tri-jitsu was
wasted on the weak-willed, passive race whose religious beliefs
watered down the potentially deadly martial art into a defensive
discipline of cunning and guile. It was evident the chestnut-haired
female honed her skill off-world. Her three selves worked together
in perfect tandem. Sometimes two of her selves attacked while
the remaining defended. Other times, two selves defended while
one attacked. At other times, all three selves attacked or she
merged into one being to slip away from an opponent. If this
girl were Grand Sensei, Cargg would never have fallen so easily.
However, even such a savage display failed to elicit respect from
Tarakas. Her people were lower than dogs and he refused to honor
Then there was the fair-haired female with the long blonde ponytail.
She moved through the field of battle with the calm demeanor of
a hardened general.
To the careful warrior goes the spoils.
Tarakas learned the twenty-eighth century proverb from his father
when he was just a pup. It was commonly known as the Thirteenth
Proverb of the Book of War and its meaning eluded him then, but
was clear as the great lakes of the frozen north on this day.
This young human female worried him even more than her War-Klan.
Retreat wasnt Tarakas style but the unexpected situation
required artfulness over military prowess. His mission was to
make sure this roaming band of dogs remained ignorant of the Walled
City. To fail would mean certain death for his Kin.
Thank you for opening your mind
to me, Khund! Ill be sure to put in a good word with the
Demon-Mother for you.
The voice in Tarakas head was real as a Warlord barking
marching orders. His eyes locked on those of the blonde-haired
girl. White-hot pain seared his skull, forcing him to his knees,
but his training compelled him to fight on. Despite the agony
and confusion in his brain, he crawled toward the accursed human.
For a moment, her face flickered with fear but she steeled herself.
Tarakas cursed. He was a Son of the Dragoon and would not be
defeated by a lowly female pup. Such failure would earn him a
place among the Shunned.
"Im not sure who the Shunned are Khund, but your
place among them is assured."
Tarakas covered his ears and raised to his feet. Out of
my head, damned witch!
I dont think so, the girls voice
Tarakas shook with uncontrollable fear. He reassured himself
in the knowledge that hed faced death hundreds of times
like a proud warrior. So why did this girl terrify him so? It
was as if he could feel her crawling around the attic of his brain,
uncovering secrets locked safely away from others.
Ah yes, this is what I was looking for, Khund,
the voice taunted. You may lack a heart but your brain
is easy to read as a picture on a wall. You will see what I want
you to see. You will feel what I want you to feel. You will
Tarakas was bombarded with intense heat
and then bitter cold. Did his heart stop? Or were his lungs ready
to explode? Was he really standing before the Demon-Mother in
the Fields of Forever? Was it possible she denied him Glorification
and damned him to the Eternal Shunning? No! It was the girl!
Next, he saw himself through the eyes of the countless victims
he played for sport throughout the years. He was an overworked
Bismollian waitress earning her way through college. Her life
destroyed in one night by a brutal rape at the hands of Tarakas
and a watch of his Guard. He was a Sklarian wench skinned alive
because she refused his advances. A lone Carggite, her other
selves brutalized while she was forced to watch. Or was he a
What was this witch doing to him? Then he glimpsed his own daughter,
twelve cycles old and scavenging the remains of a Heroshian Cat
outside an encampment for the Shunned on the border of his ancestral
hometown, Leol. Gone were her courtesan gowns and her Veils of
Virginity. She was barefoot and dressed in tatters. No!
Tarakas cried before he slumped again to the desert sand. He
looked up to see a satisfied smile on the girls face as
his head hit the rocky tarmac. It was the last image he saw before
he was claimed by unconsciousness.
The Trom Planetoid, Chamber of His Eminence
But father, why must I defend the intruders?
Jan Arrah asked.
His Eminence smiled. His son felt such deep respect for the
Way and took his responsibilities as Eminence-Elect very seriously.
He was a pious young man who seemed more at ease with his nose
buried in the Ancient Texts than with a group of peers. Because
Your Eminence commands it, son. It is the Way.
Jan nodded. I will obey the will of His Eminence, but
I request the public records note that I defended the off-worlders
against my wishes.
It will be noted. However, I think it is a notation you
will live to regret, His Eminence answered.
I dont understand. Jans eyes pleaded
with his father to let the bitter cup pass from him. "They
are infidels! They oppose our friends, the Khunds! Surely they
have come to undermine the Way!
His Eminence frowned at the mention of the Khunds and dropped
his head. He sat silent for a moment and then sighed. When he
at last spoke, his words were a slow, deliberate whisper. The
Khunds are not our friends. They are protectors sent by the Way
to guard our quality of life. To call them allies, let alone
friends, is an insult to those whose friendships we truly treasure.
Our relationship with them is symbiotic, nothing more. Dont
confuse such an arrangement with friendship, son.
His Eminence was careful not to dismiss Jan's concerns. It was
good that his son was so mindful of the Way. However, he did
worry that the hardliners at the University were influencing Jans
judgement rather than outlining the basic tenets of their faith.
Jan would have to learn that the Way was not a rigid set of rules
chiseled in stone, but rather a living, breathing dogma that embraced
the ever-changing universe. The Way is a winding road,
my son. Dare to explore its twists and turns. You seek the path
of least resistance, but in the end it is a hollow doctrine.
Change is the heart of the Way! Consider the very catacombs our
intruders are accused of violating.
Yes father, the walls are a study in change, Jan
They are more son. Look deeper. Yes there is change,
but also order. Embrace the order of change and it will free
you. Reject it and it will rule you.
Jan still didnt look convinced. What if their ideals
taint the teachings of the Way? Their beliefs
You fail to sample wisdom of the Way if you silence their
voices. The Way has brought them here. Is your learning at the
University so short-sighted that you believe the Way is confined
to Trom? The Way is universal, my son. Other worlds know it by
other names, but there are nuggets of wisdom we have yet to pan
in the streams of their beliefs. His Eminence was pleased
with his own words and hoped his son was convinced as well.
Jan nodded. I will respect your wishes, Your Eminence.
World Credit Center, Skyline City, Zoon
Tarisa Noblis shut down her station. She was hungry and glad
that her lunch hour finally arrived. She needed to pick up a
few items for her upcoming wedding and planned on doing some shopping.
The wedding was less than a cycle away and there was much to be
done. She and her fiancée set the date to coincide with the Day
of Tranquility, when Zoons three moons aligned like a necklace
of silver pearls in the night sky. The details were coming together
slowly but she knew the final result would be well worth the effort.
Soon she would be Mrs. Beel Stil IV and never again worry about
her lunch hour.
A loud crash shook the Credit Center,
knocking Tarisa to the ground. A gaping hole appeared in the
north wall of the building. Was this a bank robbery? Who would
dare in the 31st century? Credit thievery was unheard of in these
days of sophisticated crime prevention. Still, each station was
equipped with an alarm and the tellers were trained to use them.
Tarisa lunged for her alarm and hit the button underneath the
station. A shrill noise blared to life announcing the presence
of intruders. Small, concealed doors in the floor slid open.
Each door housed an army of tiny insect-like devices that flitted
about the room recording every detail of the place. Many patrons
shooed the pesky little robots away from their faces like flies,
but it was a futile effort. The drones were imported from Colu
and proved valuable in assisting the police in assessing a crime
scene. No one could enter or leave the Credit Center without
being recorded on holovid.
Tarisa looked up. Two figures entered the building through the
hole the explosion created in the wall. She hoped they were Science
Police but her instincts told her better.
A male who appeared to be in his late twenties took the lead.
His face was cold and hard like the snow-capped Great Northern
Mountains. He was a menacing-looking man whose most striking
feature were his curly locks of ashen-white hair. A considerably
younger looking female followed him through the hole. Though
obviously a teen, she was stunningly attractive with a petite
body and striking red hair that framed the soft feminine curves
of her face. The woman-child seemed more apprehensive than the
Bow before your master, dogs! The man bellowed.
Pay homage to the Lightning Lord.
Mekt, can we just do this and get out of here? the
A burst of electricity shot from the mans hand and knocked
his unsuspecting partner to the ground. Sister dear, in
public you use my proper title
. Lightning Lord.
The blast appeared to merely stun the girl and she regained her
footing. She said nothing but glared at Lightning Lord coldly.
The hover-drones recognized the surge of electrical power as
a threat to the sentients in the building and buzzed toward Lightning
Lord like a swarm of angry bees. In moments, the smoking fragments
of the drones fell at his feet. A pity you send machines
to do the work of men! Such is the arrogance of your technology!
A barrage of blaster fire erupted through the hole in which the
two criminals entered and soared over their heads. Attention
intruders! We have you surrounded! You will lay down your weapons
Maybe we should consider their offer Mekt. This has gone
too far, the girl pleaded. You told me if I helped
you that you would leave Garth alone. You didnt say anything
about harming innocents.
Once again the girl was bathed in a storm of lightning
bolts. This time she fought back. Lightning leaped from her
hands too, and struck the man. The two stood deadlocked for several
long minutes with electricity dancing between them before the
girl fell at the mans feet. Unfortunately, little
sister you are too much like your pathetic twin! You lack the
courage to embrace what you have become."
A squadron of Science Police rushed through the pile of rubble
at the opening made by the intruders and surrounded the man.
Ok Squaj! The game is over! Put your hands where we can
Lightning Lord raised his arms and smiled. Oh
gladly raise them, officer. Once his arms were raised,
the Credit Center was filled with an angry storm. Lightning bathed
each person in turn as Lightning Lord cackled like a maniac.
Tarisa Nobis slumped to the cold, granite floor. She tried desperately
to watch the events unfolding before her.
As his laughter subsided, Lightning Lord stood over the woman
he called his sister. I should have listened to you when
you told me you didnt have the heart to do this.
Lightning Lord bent over and took the girls head in his
hands and kissed her mouth forcefully. His tongue parted his
sisters lips. It repulsed Tarisa to see such an incestuous
act. At last Lightning Lord broke the kiss and ran his fingers
through the girls red hair. Goodbye little sister.
Lightning Lord assaulted his sister with his awesome power.
Her limbs flopped like a fish in a net as lightning flowed through
her body. At last, she mercifully stopped moving. Lightning
Lord dropped her head and left her lying. He then exited through
the same opening he made to enter the Center.
Tarisa Nobis closed her eyes and let her pain end.
The Trom Planetoid, The Walled City, Chambers of Jan Arrah
"And I should trust you, why?" Jan Arrah asked the
three youths gathered with him in his private chambers.
"Because we tell the truth," Dox answered.
"And how do I know that?" Jan asked.
"Because it saddens me to say that you are our only hope
on this God-forsaken cesspool of a world," Lyle Norg responded
angrily. "The only chance we have of getting out of this
thing alive is to tell you the truth about Khundia and what they're
doing with the element your people provide them."
"Trommium. It is called Trommium," Jan answered.
Salu Digby sat on a small table in the center of the room.
"Demonium is what my world calls it. Please, you have to
believe us! I don't want this! It scares me. I want to be home
on Imsk with my friends. I'm not a freedom fighter or a hero.
Im just a regular, teenage girl. Please consider the possibility
that we're telling the truth."
"I refuse to believe my father would take part in the enslavement
of an entire galaxy! The Khunds are a proud people who use the
Trommium as a power source for their great cities," Jan argued.
"No, they use it to power the quantum drive engines of
their warships. I have proof," Salu whispered.
"What kind of proof?" Jan asked.
"No Salu, don't," Dox pleaded.
"And why not, Dox?" Lyle asked. "After all,
if we die here the disk will have no value anyway. As it stands,
the disk not only contains the potential to free us but this world
as well. These people have no idea how the Khunds have used them."
"No one uses Trom!" Jan shouted.
"Khundia has," Lyle argued, "while your people
sit here in their pious glory, blissfully ignorant of the suffering
said piety brings the rest of the galaxy! Surely you do your
"This proof..." Jan asked, turning toward Salu. "What
is this 'disk' you speak of?"
Dox didn't wait for Salu to answer. "It shows how the
Khunds convert the raw... Trommium... to power their war-machine.
Do you have a lab?"
"No." Jan answered. "The only technology on
Trom is Khudian, but it is off-limits."
"And such good company you keep too," Lyle answered
sourly as he stepped toward Jan.
Salu blocked Lyle's advance. "Please, Lyle. Menacing
our attorney isn't going to help us at all."
"She's right," Dox agreed. "We should..."
The door to the chambers opened and His Eminence stepped inside
followed by a group of teenagers clad in black and purple uniforms.
"Perhaps this second group of off-worlders may shed some
light on our guest's claims," said His Eminence.
"Who are they?" Dox whispered to Lyle.
"My guess is that they're the group we were supposed to
meet once we arrived on Earth," Lyle answered.
Dox looked confused. "But they're just kids.
"We're not exactly old timers ourselves Doxie-boy,"
"Son, this group of off-worlders is willing to stand witness
to the accusations against the Khunds made by those you defend,"
said His Eminence. "I think it behooves us all to give them
a chance to prove their claims."
"Do you have a ship?" Dox asked the Legionnaires.
The young man with the fiery hair nodded. "Of course we
do! Brande makes sure we have the best. Shes a Blackhawk-class
Galactic Cruiser with a modified Twinstar Triplite drive. Shell
do warp ten and still have muscle to spare for environmental controls
and the weapons array. Shes a sweet piece of work!"
"The testosterone producing specs of the
power grid are of little concern to me. What class tech is this
ship equipped with?" Dox asked.
"Brande Industries?" Lyle asked the young man.
"Yes," he replied. "Why?"
Lyle turned to Dox and smiled. "Coluan class."
Dox looked skeptical. "I'll be the judge of that. If
our attorney will accompany us to the ship, I can validate our
claims in a timely fashion."
Jan Arrah looked to his father.
"Go," His Eminence ordered.
Aboard Khundian Battlewagon, Somewhere In Deep Space
Tarakas steeled himself for punishment. He failed to capture
the disk and suffered disgrace at the hands of inferior races,
pups no less. His family would be Shunned and his head shaved.
The torture chamber guards snapped to attention as General Karkul
entered. "Ah.. Captain Tarakas! I held such high hopes for
your career. I fancied you a great warrior. Now your failure
has cost the Empire and brought shame upon the House of Your Fathers!"
"General Karkul, I..." Tarakas begged.
Karkul punched the bound warrior's face. The sound of his
fracturing jawbone filled the cell. "You are Shunned! You
have no right to speak unless spoken to, dog! To have the disk
fall into the hands of our enemies would have been shame enough,
but your inability to perform your duties has led to the discovery
of NT-306, Trom as its pathetic natives refer to it. Because
of your failure, Lord Zaryan has ordered Trom destroyed and we
will have to find a new source for Demonium. What do you have
to say for yourself, dog?"
"May the Demon-Mother deal harshly with this dog, sir,"
Tarakas answered. "But please don't Shun my family."
Karkul smiled. "Perhaps we can make a deal."
"Anything," Tarakas answered. "Just let my family
An evil smile formed on Karkul's face. "Our scientists
have developed a program to create a biologically-enhanced warrior.
You will gain many advantages over the average warrior, super-strength,
near-invulnerability, increased speed and agility, and a hunter's
sense on par with the most sensitive animal instincts. You will
become a one-man battallion."
"I am not worthy of such an honor, sir," Tarakas answered.
"Who said anything about honor, dog? You will be little
more than an animal controlled by the whims of the Imperial Lords.
You will be listed as deceased in battle and will be stripped
of your memories. In short, you will become a killing machine,"
Karkul answered. "There will be no honor in being chosen
Tarakas nodded his head.
Karkul grinned. "The Empire thanks you for your soul,