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Chapter 13 : SabotagePraetorian Guard Research and Development department. 0200 hours. Estimated time time to reality collapse: 5 days.
Howling winds battered the building, rattling the windows in their panes and freezing the water in the pipes. It tore wit a savage violence, almost lifting the building off its foundations.
General Cross sighed. Just another average day, really...
The longing to feel the warm breeze of Fastoon again was all that kept him going these days. He barely ate, barely slept. He knew the others worried about him, but he didn't care, focused only on the Project, terrified that one little detail they missed could destroy the entire thing. The thought haunted him, driving out all others.
His fingers flew over the main keyboard, running yet another calculation. It would be just like Ginger to forget to carry the Y again...
He heard the distinctive clatter of Bryant's leg brace behind him.
"Can it wait, Bryant? I'm busy"
"Oh I'm sure you can find time, General"
Chapter 12 Terror on terachnos"Hmmm"
Drake studied Ratchets star map carefully.
"I can't find it"
"Ah" The Zenithi chuckled ruefully. "I apologize. I am more used to teleportation as a method of transport. These maps are strange to me"
"That's OK, I can find Terachnos with my eyes closed. You leave this to me" Ratchet carefully adjusted Aphelions course.
"Its about a half hour flight"
Drake settled back down in his seat. He had to admit, this was a heck of a way to travel. Having spent his whole life teleporting from planet to planet, he had never flown among the stars, and was making the most of this unique experience.
"I say, this is quite a pleasant way to travel" he said, shuffling his wings as he got comfortable.
Ratchets sharp eyes spotted an odd, golden gleam.
"Hey, what's that?"
He hadn't noticed before, but a leather thong looped its way around Drakes neck and shoulder, disappearing under his wing.
Drake swept his wing aside, revealing a gold disc attached to the rope. In th
Chapter 11:Allies and answers"They WHAT?!"
Miles quaked with terror. Kaos stalked her chamber like a caged wolf, hissing with fury. The unfortunate Jarv had already met a terrible end, and Miles knew that only a miracle would save him from being next.
"T-they disappeared, Ma'am" he stammered.
"How in the name of Solana could they possibly have disappeared? They had the best part of half my army and the Ishkhan after them! How did they still manage to escape?"
"I d-don't know, Ma'am. I-its like they v-vanished into thin air"
There was a little flicker of hope.
"Maybe they sank in a bog" he said.
"This part of Sargasso has no bogs, you imbecile! No, they're out there somewhere. And I will find them"
"What about Qwark, Ma'am?"
She waved a hand dismissively.
"He's a bone headed moron with no spine to speak of. He is of no consequence. But the others...now they are a different story. Find them, Miles. Bring them to me in chains or bring me their heads, I don't care. Just find them. Prove to me that you ar
Chapter 10: Kaos"Hey! Keep your hands where I can see 'em mister!"
Ratchet scowled, but grudgingly obeyed. The four heroes knelt on the floor of a transport vehicle, hands on heads. Armed Blargs surrounded them, rifles trained on their hearts. Jasmine shifted uncomfortably. The carrier smelled to much like Ishkhan for her liking. A nasty suspicion flared. Maybe the Ishkhan hadn't been on Kreeli comet by accident...
Clank gently nudged Ratchet with his foot.
"Ratchet? Do you notice something strange about our captors?"
Ratchet looked. Now he thought about it, some of the Blargs were acting rather funny. Around half were acting as expected, shoving, laughing nastily and leering at Jasmine. (But only leering. A Blarg with wandering hands had come down with a nasty case of pain, and the others were keeping a careful distance from her) But others...
Ratchet was reminded of the ancient automatons he had seen in museums. Their movements were stiff, their eyes stared blankly ahead. They looked like z
Chapter 9: into the jungleSargasso. 2100 hours.
Miles shivered. Transferring the Ishkhan from Kreeli comet to the carrier had cost him six good men and now the black-plated monstrosity lay with its head in his employers lap like the galaxies ugliest puppy. The shadowy figure gently stroked it, dwarfed by its sheer bulk.
"Poor baby" she crooned, as a very nervous Blarg dressed its wounds.
"Did those nasty Lombaxes hurt you? Don't worry, you'll get your chance soon enough"
Miles tensed as her shadow-shrouded head swung towards him. There was the jingle of unseen jewellery.
"Another failure, Miles"
He hung his head.
"Perhaps I should have taken your advice and sent some raiders with it"
He bit back an "I told you so" You don't juggle matches in a fireworks factory.
"We really have underestimated them. They are dangerous foes"
The Ishkhan hissed, and the Blarg tending its injuries froze.
The Ishkhan relaxed, No-one could figure out how she had such control over a beast like an Ishkhan (t
Chapter 8:Black ice,cold heartSargasso. 0800 hours.
"So, it is in place?"
Miles adjusted the ice pack clamped over one eye.
"Yes'm. Released in the ice caves, just like you requested"
"The locals did not notice?"
"Who, the pirates? Pretty scraggly lot. Didn't see a thing" he chuckled as a thought struck him "Hey, maybe they'll take care of ya problem for ya!"
There was a soft laugh from the shadows.
"That is a good thought. But I personally hope they meet my pet first. It would be more...entertaining"
There was a pause. Then-
"What happened to your eye?"
"Damn thing whacked me wid its tail on the way out. It was real keen to get going!"
Miles chose his next words with care. There was every likelihood she would get annoyed by the suggestion, and when she got annoyed, she had a tendency to spread it around.
"Perhaps I should...send some a' my boys in with it? As insurance?"
"You doubt my plan?"
"No need to be like that, yours was a reasonable suggestion. But it will not be necessary"
Chapter 7: return to the clockPraxus sector. 1200 hours
Jasmine lay back in her seat, wincing slightly. Though she would rather kiss a Tyrranoid than admit it, the fight with Miles had taken more out of her than she had expected.
"Are you all right, Jasmine?"
She gave an exasperated sigh.
"I'm fine, Clank. Just bruised" She held aloft the piece of Tendrillite. It caught the light of Aphelions cockpit, sending soft green shadows whirling.
"But this was worth it though"
Ratchet engaged the auto-pilot.
"I take it that's a vital part?"
"It has 'unique refractive abilities' apparently. I'm not sure, I kinda zoned out during Gingers lecture"
"So where to next?"
Jasmine pulled the sheet of instructions out of the manifester on her breast-plate.
"Kreeli comet. We need to find-"
A song started playing, quite possibly the most annoying song Ratchet had ever heard. He knew with a sinking heart it would be stuck in his head all day.
Jasmine touched a spot on her glove.
"Love that ring tone. I wonder who's calling m
Chap 6: Kerchu and the crystalPraetorian Guard outpost. 0400 hours.
General Cross padded down dark corridors. Most of the Guards were asleep in the barracks by now, but he had been unable to rest, thoughts and fears swirling in his head. He quietly opened the door to the Exodus room and peeked in. At the back of the room a soft glow cut the darkness. He approached stealthily, then stopped and sighed. Ginger was slumped over the keyboard of her computer, glasses askew, snoring softly. General Cross gently shook her awake.
"nnnf, guh, wuh...General!" She sat up, grabbing for her glasses, but succeeding only in knocking over her half-finished coffee. "What are you doing down here this late?"
"I could ask you the same question. You're working too hard, Ginger" He said gently. "There's no shame in taking a day off. You've done all you can here, now it's just a matter of time"
She finally managed to get hold of her glasses.
"I know, I know, it's just...I can't stand-"
She nodded, ears drooping.
Chapter 5: darkness risingPlanet Sargasso.
Rynak gently steered his ship over the swampy planet, suppressing a shudder as he did so. The Blargian captain had made numerous trips to this out-of-the-way area, yet it never failed to unnerve him. The swamp thinned, shifting to flat land dotted with stubby bushes. A building rose up. Dark and Gothic, it looked like the set from a cheap horror movie, except for the atmosphere. Evil seemed to radiate from every stone and brick, casting a pall over the landscape. Rynak would be the first to say he was no saint. His face had been on wanted posters across the universe, but even he got the willies here. He stepped off his ship and approached the door. There was only one word to describe that door. Grim.You had to try to get a door that creepy. It had an ugly gargoyle over the archway, a slam like the footstep of a giant, and above all, made it quite clear this was not the type of door that went "ding-dong" when you pushed the bell. Rynak waved his ID card at a scanner set
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