Chapter 23: The Satellite CityIn the now chaotic ethereal realm, the F01 gazed into a river of energy which divided two diametrically opposed areas of this plane. Lamia's side still looked the picture of ethereal beauty, but on closer inspection, small blood red cracks were starting to appear in the swirling multicoloured cloudscapes. The other side of the energy river was now the realm of the Imperial Master and bore aesthetic similarities with Gelma 2 in its hellishness and inhospitality.The Imperial Master currently had the upper hand in their battle of wills and he cut an imposing figure as he stood on his side of the divide watching her gaze at her friends in X-Bomber pursuing Captain Arkama’s damaged vessel, in the blue tinted glow of the energy river as if it were a view-screen.She could hear the Professor’s words echoing throughout the realm, ‘The Temple of the Ancients was more than just a temple, it was a prison!’ The Professor had inspected the Alliance logs that ID1 had stolen and was horrified to find that the Temple in question was of a design he had encountered before on his travels. He had met an inter-dimensional traveller, briefly, long ago who commanded a huge prison vessel. In his hold were 6 of these ‘temples’ which were in fact prisons holding universe-threatening anti-matter beasts. He had jumped into this dimension in search of the seventh temple/prison, but his jump engines were acting erratically in this dimension and so he sent out a distress signal which found Professor Hagen. The Professor battled to fix the ancient traveller’s jump engines, but the technology was too far advanced, even for him, and so the Professor had to make a swift exit from the prison ship as it jumped out of this dimension.Why he hadn’t put two and two together before now was beyond him, it was almost like...‘...Someone had been clouding his mind!’ finished The Imperial Master. ‘The Professor is strong willed, unlike his pitiful apprentice. I will see to it that he is converted when I return to the corporeal plane. He will be a great prize for The Imperial Alliance’‘I will make sure that never happens!’ said The F01‘It is inevitable!’ said The Imperial Master, ‘Here, let me show you something.’With a wave of the Master’s hand, the image changed within the energy river as the stream's colour took on a reddish tint.‘While you have been preoccupied with your human friend’s trials and tribulations, my emissary has been busy!’ said the Imperial Master, ‘Gaze into the abyss Lamia, gaze into your doom!’Lamia looked into the energy stream and watched as the story played out...The Zeta system. A mineral rich area of the galaxy which was one of the reasons the Imperial Alliance had made it a priority to colonise and rule this system. The largest and richest of these planets was Zayin; used by The Alliance as an Industrial centre, complete with a large orbiting space dock. This was in the glory days of the alliance, before the fall.Zayin today was quiet and desolate, but the orbiting station had emerged from the downfall of the alliance into a prospering satellite city called Gladius.From above, the floating city was a similar shape to the Imperial Alliance emblem with star ships from every part of the galaxy docked into ports on the side arms of the station. One such vessel was an Octakaar class Imperial battle cruiser; its biomechanical tentacles were unmistakably the handiwork of the master of Gelma.Races from throughout the galaxy would visit Gladius to trade, gamble and enjoy all the entertainment the station had to offer. The main draw, though, was the arena!Warriors of all kinds, be they alien, cyborg or mechanoid, would enter the arena in battles to the death for fame and fortune.The rogue Imperial Commander Delardu had been responsible for the transformation of this Imperial space station into a decadent pleasure hub. Free from the Imperial Master’s control, he now looked after his own affairs and was the supreme controller of Gladius.Delardu sat in his booth above the gladiator arena flanked by several termoid body guards. He watched as his 8 foot mechanoid champion rained down blow after blow on his cyborg opponent. The challenger was a young warrior from the Diakon System who wore ancient decorative body armour; his arms and legs were metallic as was half of his head, and he wielded two energy-enhanced swords.Delardu’s champion had been built by his newly acquired chief scientist and engineer and was based on the termoid design, but far more ferocious looking than the rank and file alliance trooper. It had four arms; two of which had scythes where hands would normally be, while the remaining two wielded large swords enclosed in force fields.The Diakonian fought bravely, but it was a swift match. The Termech, as it was known, cut the young warrior’s legs off with his scythes before delivering a finishing blow to the fallen gladiator with his swords. The arena erupted and the mass ranks pledged their cries to their champion and his master.Delardu stood up to receive the applause. He, himself was dressed in the attire of a warrior with elaborate Gelma markings on his armour. He had a red visor where once there were eyes. And his forehead stopped midway to be replaced with ancient alien circuits and wires. A large spike protruded from either side of his neck to complete his formidable look.At that moment Delardu’s chief engineer and scientist walked into the booth from the shadows to be greeted by his master.‘You have done well Caliban!’ said Delardu, ‘Your warrior is unbeaten in 30 matches!’The silver skinned cyborg stood next to his master. He had escaped the destruction of Makara’s battle cruiser and had made his way to Gladius to claim sanctuary.‘No one can defeat my Termech!’ said Caliban.Around the arena, alien races from a thousand systems waited impatiently for the next match. Order was maintained by a large contingent of termoid troopers patrolling the stadium as well as all the other areas of the city. There was an army at Delardu’s disposal, but he had no interest in conquest other than in the arena. He was proud of the unlikely utopian city he had built.A hush fell over the arena as the robot master of ceremonies announced the arrival of a new challenger.A robed and hooded figure walked into the combat area, stopped and then remained as still as a statue.‘And now fine patrons we have a new challenger.’ said the robot announcer, ‘From the Helgox system: The Angel of Death!’Delardu turned to Calliban.‘Send out the Termech!’ said Delardu, ’But tell him to put on a bit of a show this time before he kills her. We must keep the patrons happy. Happy patrons mean more credits!’The Termech was informed and walked into the arena to a wall of applause. It turned to the crowd and bowed. Caliban had programmed a little showmanship into the mechanoid’s computer brain. It was now down to Delardu to start the fight.‘For those who are about to die, or have their warranty expire, we salute you!’ said Delardu as he pulled out his broadsword and raised it above his head to start the battle.The hooded figure remained motionless as the Termech ran towards its opponent, all arms flailing. When the two were about to meet the robed figure swiftly side-stepped the incoming mechanoid and pulled her blade, swinging it in a crescent arc. The mechanoid continued its run a little further and then stopped. Something was wrong! Sparks and electricity appeared from the Termech’s waist as his torso fell off of his hip chassis onto the ground. The robed figure had cut the mechanoid in half with one stroke.The crowd was shocked into silence. Their champion was defeated. Delardu was not a happy cyborg.
‘I don’t believe it!’ said Delardu, ‘Who is this mysterious robed figure. I wonder if we can get her on the payroll? If not, you’ll just have to build something better to kill her with, Caliban!’Caliban was speechless as he watched his master stand to greet the newest champion of Gladius.‘Your skills are most impressive, robed one!’ said Delardu, ‘But who, pray tell, lurks behind that hood?’The robed figure remained motionless for a few more seconds and then threw off her cloak to reveal her true identity.‘You!’ said Delardu.‘Oh know!’ said Caliban who swiftly made an exit from the main booth back into the shadows.Commander Makara stood proudly in the centre of the arena. She had been sent here by the Imperial Master to clean up the mess that Delardu had made.‘Commander Delardu!’ said Makara, ‘You have made a mockery of the Imperial Alliance with this den of iniquity. I am here to re-establish order. You will surrender this station to me and submit to memory dissimulation!’‘Never!’ said Delardu, ‘Termoids, execute her!’The termoids around the arena were confused and unable to act upon Delardu‘s order. They served the highest ranking Imperial officer, but Makara was a Commander too, so they were both equals.‘There is only one way to settle this.’ said Makara, ‘I invoke the thalian rite of Gelthaar: trial by combat!’‘I accept!’ said an angered Delardu who jumped from his box onto the stage of battle; his hydraulic legs cushioning the impact of the long drop.The two warriors faced off with sword in hand. Each had a lot at stake. For Delardu it was his self made city; built out of the ashes of the Alliance flame. For Makara it was something far more valuable, revenge!There was no subtlety this time from Makara as she followed Delardu’s lead and charged at him. Their swords clashed producing a ripple of energy that ran up and down their blades. each warrior blocked and parried the other’s attacks trying to find a way through their defences. Delardu swung his sword at Makara’s head, but she easily ducked his attack and foot swept him to the ground.‘You are nothing!’ said Makara, ‘I have battled the very ancients themselves! And won!’‘You will not destroy my dream!’ snarled Delardu.They continued to fight, but Makara looked quite comfortable, as comfortable as anyone would, who had beaten The Great Skull in combat.Delardu was strong, but Makara was ultimately more agile with seemingly boundless energy.She somersaulted over Delardu and upon landing drove her sword into Delardu’s back. Delardu cried out in pain and fell to the floor. Makara stood over him.‘I have merely incapacitated you!’ said Makara, ‘If I wanted you dead, you would indeed be dead by now. Think yourself lucky that the Imperial Master want’s you alive.’Delardu heard Makara’s words, but was unable to respond; her blow had temporarily paralysed him.‘Termoids!’ said Commander Makara, ‘by Thalian law I am now the superior officer on this station. Round up all of the patrons and place them in holding cells. They are to be slaves of the Imperial Alliance!’‘All hail Makara!’ was the termoids demented cry as they herded up all of the screaming patrons.‘Take Delardu to the memory dissimilation centre onboard his ship; I will be there shortly!' said Makara, ‘Oh and bring that snivelling dox-toad, Caliban too!’A short time later aboard Delardu’s Octakaar battle cruiser, Makara stood beside Delardu who was strapped onto a table with a memory dissimulator hovering above him.A door opened revealing Caliban flanked by two termoid troopers.‘Commander Makara, this is such an amazing surprise.’ said Caliban, ‘I’m so glad to see you alive!’‘No thanks to you, you coward!’ said Makara, ‘Orion wasn’t much, but he was worth ten of you. He certainly wouldn’t have left me for dead on that tomb.’‘But Comman...’ started Caliban, but he was interrupted by an angry Makara.‘But nothing!’ said Makara, ‘You would be meeting a slow and painful death right now, if I had anything to say about it, but you are still valuable to the Imperial Master. You are to remain here and help Commander Delardu rebuild our fleet.’‘Thank you Commander, I won’t let you down!’ said a relieved Caliban.’‘Don’t thank me yet.’ said Makara ‘The life that you knew is over. Once I’m through with Delardu it will be your turn on the table. I will re-sculpt your memories in the most painful manner imaginable, only the useful scientific area’s will remain. And whenever you hear the name Makara uttered in future, you will feel excruciating pain and complete and utter fear! Guards take him away!’And so Makara carried out her threat and reprogrammed Delardu to be the Commander he was before. Together with his brilliant but lobotomized scientist, Caliban they embarked on their mission to rebuild the Imperial Alliance fleet.Makara left The Bloody Mary docked at the station and flew off in the Delta-Z’s fighter mode to claim her final revenge. She laughed out loud at her final action on the space station. She had programmed The Bloody Mary to send out a radio signal directly to Caliban’s brain everyday for 3 hours. The signal was an encoded message. It was Makara's voice repeating her name over and over again. The image of Makara laughing maniacally ended the tale that was projected in the river of energy in the ethereal realm. The F01’s response to what she had seen was utter horror.‘Makara!? The Alliance!?’ said Lamia.‘Yes it has already begun! said The Imperial Master as the energy river turned black, ‘Soon you will have to make a choice. Will you sacrifice the universe to stop me ruling it?Lamia was silent. The Imperial master had fooled them all and proved without a shadow of a doubt what a master strategist he was.‘Beware Lamia!’ said the Imperial Master, ‘Beware the Omni-Beast!’
I like parties, I like fun, I want to live in a hamburger bun!