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Time's End

Part Three

By: Me, Tato

Pictures and illusions filled the mind of Surrola Elmira, Spung 
princess of the Spung Empire.  She stood in a blanket of clouds, 
surrounded by fear and surprise; emotions engulfing her entire body.  
A vision appeared above her,filling the empty blackness that had once 
been an icy sky.  The Christa flew by, looking torn and battered, as 
if brought back from a battle that they had nearly lost.  It flew 
closer and closer, until the person in control of  it was seen.  
Warlord Shank, her father, laughed in triumph as the majestic vessel 
flew by his every command.  She turned as she heard a piercing scream 
fill the clouded area, and she saw an Andromedan boy fall to his knees.
Warlord Shank held a blaster in one hand and glared at the boy, envying
the terrible pain the Andromedan was in.  Elmira stepped closer, 
unsure of what she was stepping on.  She looked down to see several 
dead bodies sprawled out under the clouds.  Every step she took, she 
found more bodies, and the floor seemed to be made out of them.  
Disgusted, she tried to focus away from the padded floor.  She glanced
at the Andromedan, and tears started to form in her eyes.  Radu had 
been shot and was now at the mercy of her father.  Shank’s hand 
suddenly rose, and a metallic whipping mechanism appeared in his hand.
Strike after strike, the young Andromedan screamed, trying to shield 
himself, and failing miserably. Elmira quickly looked away, and she 
began to sob.  As the sound of the whipping began to cease, she looked
only to see Radu fall into the clouded floor.  “No!” she shouted, her 
vision becoming blurry and hazed.  She turned to see an image of
herself calling out to the Christa.  Chaos ensued, screams of pain 
echoed, and Elmira’s head started to pound.


Elmira rose quickly from her bed, looking rather disturbed.  She 
placed her hand over her heart and eased herself, taking deep breaths 
and reassuring herself that everything would be okay.  The pictures of
the previous dream had been so vivid, yet frightening.  She tried to 
recall the memories, but it did little good, and she only became more
frustrated.  She walked to her mirror and took a rag that lay on her
dresser.  She wiped the sweat off her forehead and brushed her hair.
She then strolled over to her clock and noted the time.  

She gasped.  

“That cant be,” she told herself, checking once again. “My alarm 
system would have woken me up LONG ago!”  Slightly confused, she left 
her room.  The gaurds eyed her suspiciously, but did nothing to stop 
her as she cautiously walked down the corridors.  She kept walking 
along the corridor until she  reached a large door.  

“Let us get that for you princess-ss,” the guards hissed.  

“No thank you, I’ll be fine,” she said opening the doors.  

The gaurds slithered back to their positions hastilly. This was not 
unusual behavior for Surrola Elmira, Spung princess of the empire.  
She was strong-headed and bold.  No matter what happened, no Spung 
could please her or satisfy her.  She normally did things on her own, 
and when offered help, she would decline immediately.  Her unusual 
behavior had caused some controversy at first to if she was truly a 
Spung princess.  Such as the fact that she was kind to the servants, 
and helped the servants with their work.  She was constantly sweet to 
everyone, which made the Spung gaurds sick to their stomachs.  She
was one amongst the most unusual Spung anyone had ever seen.  

They knew she had already chosen one she loved, but nobody knew who.
It had been a mystery and the talk of the ship ever since she had
returned from her last escapade.  Her royal retrieval chip had brought
her to saftey among the careful watch of her father, but she had never
seemed more miserable than the last time she had returned.  The
depression was noticable to all; all except her father.  Arrogant and 
stubborn, he refused to believe anything else than that she couldn’t be
happier in her own home on the Killcruiser.  And so, she went through
her role of a “happy Spung Princess” with every meeting with her 
father.  

She carefully made her way inside the vast room, and walked along the
red carpet, down to a thrown-like area.  There, Warlord Shank stood
high and proud.  

“Daughter, what is it?” Shank asked as he saw his only daughter walk 
through the doors, in a tone that showed that he couldn’t care less to
what she was about to say.  

“Father, are ALL the alarm systems broken?” she asked, in a semi-
concerned tone.  “My alarm didn’t work today. If they’re all down, I 
suggest you fix them.  There may be intruders, and you wouldn’t know.
We could be blown to smitherines!  We could be--”

“Thank you, Warlord Shank’ll look in to it,” he said irritably.  

Elmira looked  at her father curiously.  He looked as if he were up to
something.  Immediately, if he had heard this  news, he would normally
do some shouting to a poor Spung warrior who didn’t know what he was
doing.  He may even fix them himself.  After all, he wouldn’t want to
endanger his empire.  But there he sat, hardly caring about an alarm
system that could endanger everything he held proud.  

Elmira nodded at the unusual response, then quickly exited to the room,
not quite as satisfied as she would normally be about telling her 
father about a life-threatening task.  She slowly walked towards her
room, eying each gaurd with an everlasting hatred.  Each gaurd had a 
decietful smirk.  They knew what was going on, but refused to tell 
her, which only made her more angry.  She quietly entered her room and
shut the door, closing herself off from the Spung world, as she had 
done every day.  

The rest of the day went by quickly for her.  A bit too quickly,  in 
her opinion.  She had no interruptions of her father, nor any other 
gaurds.  Her meals were so satisfying, she began to question herself 
on why  they would taste this decent.  She hadn’t been inquired once
about any wars or psychic predictions for that day.  She had even been
able to reach several secret contacts that she had trouble getting to
in the past months.  It was becoming too strange for her. It was now 
her reading time, or what time she put aside in case something like 
this would happen; where she would have time to read famous galactic
literature.  She took out a small mechanical book and began to read.

She immediately set it down.  Things were going too right.  This
normally wouldn’t be a bad thing, but she felt uncomfortable, and only
felt this way when things went horribly wrong.  Elmira stood up and 
walked outside the doors of her room. Strange.  She only examined 5 
gaurds, when normally there’d be at least 10.  

“Where are the others?” Elmira inquired to one of the gaurds, one by
name of Zeon.  

“I’m not sssure, Sssurrola,” he hissed suspiciously.  

“Zeon, you dont need to lie.  You know very well that I know when you
lie.  Now, where did they go?”

“I wasss instructed not to tell you,” Zeon said honestly.  

“Why in the universe would they be gone?” she asked herself more than 
anyone else.  “Thanks anyway, Zeon,” she said, and she left to seek 
her father.  

Zeon hissed at the compliment, and continued with his watch, keeping 
one eye on the departing Spung.  He shook his head.  “Whoever came up 
with such a sssstrange Spung musssst have been out of their mindssss,”
he hissed, returning to his work.  

Elmira was now more curious than ever as she rushed down the hallways,
approaching the large doorways.  What would she say to her father?
“Father, my day is going TOO right.  Do something about it!”  She
chuckled to herself as that thought crept in, but she quickly forgot
it, proceeding with the thoughts of concern towards what was going on.

When she reached the large doors, she opened them, revealing, much to
her dismay, an empty room.  Empty?  Sure enough, the entire throne
room had been evacuated.  

“Father?” she called out, her voice echoing throughout the room.  No 
answer.  She slumped her shoulders, then closed the doors behind her.
“I suppose I can just....look around,” she told herself innocently.
She nodded to herself, hardly believing her own words. She had often
created conversations with herself when no one else was around, and
gave herself ideas that could only lead to trouble. Of course, she
never saw it as trouble, she saw it as being curious.  

With that thought in mind, Elmira began searching through the
belongings around Shank’s throne area.  There wasn’t much of anything
there.  Garbage and small objects were piled on top of the entire
table; there was nothing to fret over except perhaps the clean-up of
this mess.  After she began to search the shelves, something caught
her eye.  She closed in on a small remote that had been burried within
the large piles of garbage.  It looked like one from the viewing
screen.  Shrugging, she pressed the button emplanted on the small
remote, and an image appeared on the screen.  Her mouth dropped open.
It was an image of herself! 

“I didn’t send a message recently...did I?” she questioned herself, 
still hardly believing her eyes.  There was only one way to find out
the answer to her question: Play it.  Her hands shaking with unwanted
nervousness, she pressed the play button, waiting impatiently for it
to start.  

“Hello,” it began, “My father is-s us-sing my power-s for evil
purpos-ses.  Pleas-se help me.  Go to the s-southern border territory.
Hurry.”  

"Elmira was shocked.  Who had done this, and for what purposes?  As 
she thought, her dream began to come into focus.

The Christa.  The message.  Radu...Goddard.....dead.

“I cant let it happen,” she said placing the small device she had once
held in her hands back down.  She quickly rushed out of the room in
search for her father.  

* * * * * *

Elmira searched every place she thought her father may have been.
From the torture rooms of the ‘cruiser, to the large Galley, each
place seemed to be evacuated.  She even attempted to look in the
Command Post, but hardly anyone was there.  There were only two very
bored looking Spung gaurds, keeping watch on the radars and conversing
on several strange and unusual subjects that they would normally talk
about in a situation as uneventful as this.  Elmira tried the throne
room again, but found that it was still deserted.  She sighed heavily
as she went from place to place with no avail.  Finally, she decided
to check one last place, and if she couldn’t find them, then she would
have to find a different way of tracking them down.  As the doors
swished open, her mouth dropped open.  

Through the now opened doorway of the landing bay, she saw her father
and several other gaurds standing watch in the landing bay of the
killcruiser.  Several gaurds were retreating into the vehicles that
were parked to the sides, and there was a large, open space, as if 
they were expecting someone.  Warlord Shank had a blaster in hand and
was arguing with a Spung warrior about last-minute, rushed plans.

Elmira raced up to her father and hit him in the arm to get his
attention.  

“What have you done?!?”  Elmira shouted as she pushed her father,
causing him to lose his balance.  Rage and worry was written on her
face as she glared at her father, pondering what he could be doing.

“Daughter,” he said unsteadily, trying to regain balance.  “What are
you speaking of?”  Warlord Shank asked in his bland, unconcerned voice.
He managed to gain control of his balance, and stand up straight and
tall.  He stood high and proud, not losing the face of a great Spung
Warlord.  

Elmira had always hated the posture he composed when speaking with his
gaurds, and even other Warlords.  He had always acted as if he were
better than all of them, and while  this was typical thinking of a
male Spung, he took it to extremes.  And here, all the gaurds treated
him like the king of all Warlords.  Of course, he was well known for
his leadership in emergencies and his brilliant plans, but that was
besides the point. There were far more warlords who had the brilliance
that he possessed, yet he treated it as if he were a god in the eyes 
of all!!  It made her stomach turn only thinking about it.  

She quickly shot a dirty look at the man before her, not believing the
ignorance he was playing.  “You know what I’m speaking of,” she shot
back with a stare,  “that message!  The one I supposedly sent??”

Shank grinned unfavorably.  “So, you’ve found the tape, have you? 
That still gives you no idea on WHAT it was usssed for,” he said with
amusement.  

“You’re trying to trick the Christa into coming here and saving me so
you can get their ship and kill them!” she said with outrage.  

His smile faded.  He had momentarily forgotten about her psychic
powers, and felt it was quite a rough disturbance in a perfect plan.
He turned quickly away and looked towards a craft nearing the bay.
“You’re too late,” he said, facing her. “Gaurds, take Sssurrola to her
quarters and see that she doesn’t escape.”  

“No!! You cant do this!” Elmira shouted as one of the gaurds took her
into his grasp.  

“I’m afraid I already have,” Shank said, a wry smile emplanted on his
face.  Elmira struggled to break loose of the gaurd’s grasp, but it
was no good.  Their grip was firm, and they were too strong for her
to handle.  

“You’ll never get away with this!” she screamed, but her father only
laughed at the very idea of his well set up plan failing.  

Elmira kicked and screamed as she was dragged away, with only the
faintest vision of a small, painfully recognizable starling coming
torward the infested landing bay.  All her hope began to desintigrate
as she saw it near the bay....

* * * * * *

Radu sighed  with nervous frustration as the Spung Killcruiser’s 
landing bay came into view.  As he viewed it, millions of thoughts and
worries went throughout his mind.  If only Radu had  been in his right
mind, he would have thought of the suspicion that the killcruiser
seemed quiet and peaceful, which was a large abnormality.  No alarm
for an intruder had gone off, and it looked as if it had been graced
by the hand of harmony.  

Instead, Radu thought of more dreadful thoughts. What if he was too 
late to help Elmira? What if, when he got there she was gone or
possibly even dead?  What if the entire message was some sort of trap?
What if, somehow, Warlord Shank had  gained control of Elmira’s mind
and set her up to send the message? What if the message wasn’t even
real?  Of course, his logical mind would have dismissed the idea of
Elmira being hurt entirely seeming she was dreadfully important to the
Spung empire.  However, his logical and calm thinking had stopped
shortly, and his panic had taken full control over his mind and
actions.  
	
The mere thought of the amounts of Spung on the ship before him made
Radu tremble.  He had talked to Elmira once, and she had explained to
him that killcruisers held no less than 500 Spung.  Imagining even one
of them made his blood run cold, but he pushed the thought aside as he
tried his best to preoccupy his mind from those thoughts.  
	
Suddenly, he came to a realization.  Wait a second, he thought, I dont
have a plan!!  Radu became even more worried, and his brow dripped of
nervous sweat.  His shaky hands began to progam the small starling
while his mind raced for a quick plan.  As he saw the docking bay
closing in, murmured a silent incantation for luck.  The landing bay
was merely feet away, and now, he had to land the small vessel.  He
quickly ran over the many small buttons and pressed each one with a
random frenzy.  The Starling went down smoothly, and Radu sat back,
preparing himself for his future venture into the forbidden ship.   
	
He closed his eyes and sighed heavily, trying to prepare himself for
the mess he had gotten himself into.  Maybe this was a bad idea, Radu
thought to himself.  But there’s no turning back now...I have to save
her.
	
Radu had completed his task of landing the Starling, then quickly shut
it down.  He then grabbed a small bag he had put together by the
handles, and pulled the handle of the door and slid it open.  His feet
slipped out onto the cold metallic floor, and a slight chill went up
his spine from the cool, brisk air surrounding him.  He then lifted
himself, slid the door shut, and scanned the room.  The room appeared
empty, which seemed strange for such a mighty ship.  However, he had
no idea how the Spung gaurded their systems, and wasn’t about to
question it now. It only meant a larger advantage for him.  
	
Radu carefully walked along the floor, his soft shoes making a soft,
light tapping echo.  He had almost reached the doorway that lead to
the corridor of the ‘cruiser, when he heard the sound of an electronic
device powering up.  He froze as he heard a powerful, painfully
recognizable voice echo throughout the large room, and felt a heated
object poking him in the back.  
	
“Hands-s up, Andromedan,” he heard  the harsh, deep voice say.  
	
Radu slowly rose his hands into the air as a signal for surrender,
then slightly turned to see the one face he had hoped he wouldn’t see:
the villianous Warlord Shank.  
	
One impulse told him to leap at the menacing lizard creature.  With
the strength of Warlord Shank’s build, and Radu’s Andromedan strength,
they would be evenly matched, with perhaps the upper hand for Radu.
A Spung’s strength would normally never match an Andromedan’s, but
they were strong.  Radu was still a young Andromedan, and Warlord
Shank was a Spung who had trained in fighting and war-like manuvers
for years.  With Shank’s education and training, and Radu’s strength,
they would be more evenly matched.  However, the thought quickly
deceased from his mind once he saw, from the corner of his eyes,
several other Spung warriors heavily armed.  There was no chance of
his escape if he viciously attacked  their superior.  Each Spung
warrior knew how to defend themselves and their leader, and they would
shoot at any chance they had.  
	
“Hmmm...Warlord Shank WAS hoping for something more,” Shank said,
rubbing his chin with his free hand, “but this will have to do.
Barcly!!” he shouted.  
	
A Spung Warrior quickly  rushed to Warlord Shank’s side, bowing. 
“Yes-s sir?” he replied honorably.  
	
“Take this...filthy Andromedan....to a holding cell.  Send out a
rans-som to his children crew.  Warlord Shank WANTS that ship,” he
said, a cruel sound to his voice.  
	
“Yes, Warlord,” Barcly grumbled, taking a firm hold onto Radu’s wrists,
signalling for several other Spung warriors to follow.  
	
Radu’s blood ran cold as several other Spung warriors latched onto him,
their cold reptilian skin scratching harshly against his uniform.  As
they showed their grip on the young Andromedan boy was firm, they soon
began to head toward the door, but were halted by the sound of Shank’s
voice.  
	
“Oh, and Barcly, take him to the mind-wiper we sto -- er -- borrowed 
from the Luff, will you?”
	
“But sir, why?” Barcly questioned.  “The crew may want to speak with 
their cadet.  If they dont believe that we have him and he has no
memory, they may think it’s a bluff.”
	
“Then we kill him while they’re watching,” Warlord Shank said with a
shrug, as if it were nothing.  
	
Barcly stood, only staring at his superior officer.  Finally, he spoke.
“Sir, wouldn’t that waste perfectly good energy?” he inquired.
	
“How so?” Shank questioned, turning.  
	
“I only assume, sir, that you would be killing him anyway.  What would
be the point of wasting the energy that it would take to mind wipe AND
kill him?”
	
Shanked shook his head.  “I know these children well.  They can make
it through nearly anything as long as they can look upon the past and
think of their ‘good times’.  However, if this Andromedan has nothing
to remember, he will die a long, tortured death.”  Shank laughed
menacingly, making the entire room seem so much colder.  
	
Barcly nodded and roughly shoved Radu out of the door.  At each
attempt to break free, Radu would be met with a threatening lazer to
his neck.  There was nothing to be done, except be led to his fate....
a fate which he had dreaded from the moment he was born to this
present time.  

* * * * * *

	
Goddard shifted uncomfortably in the small starling as he saw his
destination toward the killcruiser.  He glanced over towards the
passengers seat of the small shuttle and saw the small Mercurian
sitting quietly with her first aid kit and staring out into space. He
couldn’t believe he had allowed her to come along, but after she
brought up the issue of possibly needing the medical attention, he
couldn’t say no.  After all, she had a point. 
	
Commander Goddard pondered his plans nervously.  His anxiety grew as
he thought of what could be done to Radu.  He scorned himself for
letting Radu out of his sight, and he pondered why Radu would even
CONSIDER doing something to endanger himself and the crew.  He knew
Radu meant well, but sometimes, Radu let his emotions get the best of
him, and became hazardous in small, nondescrete ways.  
	
Commander Goddard sighed in frustration at his own actions.  Here he
was, wondering why the navigator of his crew, one of the most sensible
teammates on the ship, could run off in regard for his own feelings,
yet here he sat in a Starling, doing nearly the same thing.  He was
looking out for the saftey of  the crew, yet he was doing the same
hazardous action that Radu was attempting to try. He was nearly 
mirroring his actions.  This time, however, he knew the true 
intentions of that message, and what was in store.  He would have to
run in, find Radu, alive, hopefully, and run out to escape. He only
hoped Rosie could keep up with him.  He knew she was capable of doing
so, but a small fragment of his mind still worried for her.  She was
at such a young age, and to be tortured, or even killed, at such a
young age would be a tragedy.  
	
Goddard pondered to himself quietly as the passing minutes began to
feel like hours.  What if the alarms go off while we’re there? he
thought to himself as his mind raced through his last minute, pathetic
plan.  What if we get there too late?  What if we get caught in the
process?  Then this process will start over again...and what if we
cant find Radu?  We dont even know where we’re going, we have no
disguise, no plan....this is crazy.  Commander Goddard shook his head,
trying to relieve the stress he was feeling. Easy now, he told
himself, you’re going to build up another ulcer, and then where will
you be?  Goddard sighed a breath of  relief as he saw the killcruiser
in sight.  He had found where it was located at, the exact coordinates
“Elmira” had given him.  Now, it was time to face the horrors they
may see.  

* * * * * *

	
Elmira slammed on her door for the sixteenth time, her mixed emotions
overwhelming her.  She then picked up a vase she had gotten for her
birthday and threw it against the door, the door still built much like
a fortress with no flaws.  Finally, she slumped down in defeat.  She
couldn’t believe what was happening.  She had no idea what was going
on, and her powers had been fading in and out.  She never knew when
something was a dream or a vision anymore, or both.  “I have to do
something, I HAVE to,” she muttered to herself.  She got up and
quickly rushed to her computers.  With the alarm settings down, it
gave her an open frequency without having the risk of being caught. 
She quickly began to type in a small code, then began to speak.  
	
“This is Elmira, calling the Christa.  Come in Christa.”

* * * * * *

	
Harlan and Bova quietly sat in the Command post, going over several
chemical components.  
	
“Bova, do you remember which one it was?” Harlan asked after a long
period of silence.
	
“If I knew what it was, we wouldn’t be looking here, now would we?”
Bova replied impatiently.  “Besides,” he added, “I hardly know if it
works on this ship or not....I’ve only tested it on mechanical objects,
not organic.”  
	
“It doesn’t matter, Bova, if your fuel formula works, then we can not
only have a new source for fuel, but we can help Goddard and Rosie
before they get in REAL trouble....” Harlan said distractedly.  
	
Bova nodded silently and continued reading.  
	
Beep Beep.
	
Both Harlan and Bova jumped slightly and fixed their eyes on a small
blinking light as they saw their communications link blinking.  “Go
answer that,” Harlan said, motioning for Bova to head towards the
direction of the communications panel.  
	
Bova rolled his eyes and set down his compupad.  He quickly walked
towards the panel and pressed the small red button.  The screen faded
from the starry night to an image of a frantic Spung -- Elmira.  
	
“Harlan!  Bova!  Where are the others?” Elmira asked hurriedly.  
	
“Elmira!” Harlan exclaimed, clearly happy to see his sarcastic Spung
friend.  “What’s happened to Radu?  Is he all right?” 
	
Elmira dropped her eyes and shook her head. “I dont know what’s
happened to him.  I needed to contact to you, Harlan. We need to
think of a plan.”
	
Harlan nodded.  “Right now, Rosie and Goddard are on their way to get
Radu.  Rosie knows what she’s doing, so as long as she keeps Goddard
from....from getting caught, they’ll be all right.  Right about now,
Radu is probably in a holding cell, but we dont have that much time to
save him, and we need to find Bova’s fuel formula so we can get in
range of picking up Goddard’s starling when they return.”  
	
Elmira stood, wide eyed and open mouthed for a moment.  “Why Harlan,
are you becoming a psychic?” Elmira asked, smiling. 
	
Harlan cracked a smile and shook his head.  “Long story, Elmira,” he
replied with a shrug.  
	
“I understand, Harlan Band.”
	
“Another incoming signal,” Bova barked from behind the communications
panel.  
	
Harlan looked back towards Bova, then to Elmira.  “Trace it,” Harlan
ordered.  
	
Bova nodded, and began punching in some buttons.  “...uh-oh....another
signal coming from the killcruiser,” he muttered, glancing at both
Harlan and Elmira. 
	
“Record it, Harlan Band,” Elmira replied, “and I’ll contact you later.
I’ll check on the status of Radu and I’ll prevent anything I can. 
Goodbye Bova.  Goodbye Harlan Band.”  
	
And with that, the message disintigrated into another rather
disturbing image -- an image of Warlord Shank.  
	
“Ah, Harlan Band,” Warlord Shank greeted with a menacing grin.  “Fine
time to see you,” he replied.  
	
“What do you want, Shank?” Harlan asked harshly, his growing hatred
for the Spung Warlord showing throughout every part of his expression.
	
“Is that the way you treat all your aquaintences?”
	
“Only you,” Harlan muttered grimly.  
	
“Listen, you puny human, you shall not cross Warlord Shank in that way
if you know what’s good for you.   Or at least what’s good for your
friend.....Radu, is that his name?  Oh, Warlord Shank supposes it will
not matter, seeming he will kill him in a short time, but --”
	
“Wait!” Harlan shouted. “What do you want from us?”
	
“What does Warlord Shank want??  He wants your ship!  And you, Harlan
Band.  You have been quite a trouble to him, and he wishes to show you
what punishment is like.”  Warlord Shank began to laugh, but stopped
when he saw that Harlan had kept the expression on his face.  
	
“I want to see Radu,” Harlan said, glaring.  
	
“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” Shank said with a toss of his head.
	
“SHOW me Radu! You have your demands, and I have mine!  If you truly
want me and this ship, you will show me Radu! I want to make sure he’s
alive, and this isn’t a bluff.”  
	
“Very well,” Shank said with a grin, “but you may find him a bit
silent...”
	
“What do you mean?” Harlan demanded.  
	
“You will see.  Barcly!  Send in the Andromedan!!” Shank barked over
his shoulder.  
	
It only took several moments until the doors to the command post of
the Spung ship opened, and a falling form stumbled through the doorway
with a Spung directly behind him holding a weapon towards his head.
Harlan winced as he saw his young friend being pushed towards the
screen.  He had been stripped of his uniform and thrown into several
ragged clothes.  There were blood stains soaking on the old, deformed
clothes, and Harlan couldn’t tell if it was his young friend’s blood,
or perhaps another prisoners.  Radu looked bruised and beaten, with
several cuts to his arms.  Dirt laced his face and his clothing, and
he looked tired and remotely lost.  It made Harlan sick to his stomach
as he saw such a close friend in so much pain.  
	
“Radu,” Harlan whispered as Radu was ordered to sit.  He stayed in his
original standing position until a Spung gaurd slammed his head with a
metallic bat.  Radu went down on his knees holding his head in agony.
	
“Stop that!” Harlan shouted, holding himself back from saying more. 
“Radu....Radu, are you okay?”  
	
Radu merely knelt, holding the back of his head.  It was as if he were
ignoring Harlan, or perhaps not hearing him.  
	
“Radu?” Harlan called, curiosity of his friend dwelling inside him.  
	
“Oh,” Shank spoke up, as if he had just remembered something, “one 
small thing.  Your friend does not answer to that name now.  He is
simply an Andromedan now,” Shank said casually, holding a glance
towards Harlan.  
	
Harlan’s mouth dropped as the information soaked in.  “You MINDWIPED
him??” Harlan inquired angrily.  
	
Shank stood silent for several moments, then nodded. “Yes, Warlord
Shank believes that’s what he did,” Shank said with bitter
satisfaction.  
	
Harlan was speechless.  He couldn’t believe that his best friend, 
someone who had stuck by him through thick and thin, would remember
nothing of what friendship they had...he didn’t even remember his own
name!  If Radu returned to the ship, things would never be the same.
They could never undo what the Spung had done.  His heart pounded with
fury as his cold stare froze onto the menacing Spung Warlord.
	
Warlord Shank laughed heartedly at his own genius.  “Now,” he spoke
up, “give me your ship, and you will be able to see your friend again.
Keep your ship, and you’ll have one less Andromedan to deal with,”
Warlord Shank replied with ease.  
	
At the sound of the word “Andromedan”, Radu looked up to Warlord
Shank.  
	
“Not you!  Do not raise your stare to me, Andromedan, or I’ll have you
killed!”
	
A bit of reluctance was imprinted on Radu’s face, as if he were trying
his very best to remain calm and keep still.  The discomfort of the
heated lazer pointing to his back was a constant reminder that he was
at the will of these strange lizard creatures.  
	
He had been so lost from the moment he had woken up.  He hadn’t
remembered his name, his origin, or even where he was located at.  He
had been stripped of his clothes and thrown into the clothes that the
droned slaves on the ship had been wearing.  Any existence of who he
was had been completely erased, and he found himself in some sort of
prison cell with the same lizard creature standing over him as the one
dealing with an alien crew.  Their faces were vaguely familiar, as if
he had seen them before, but recalling was useless. He had sat in his
holding cell thinking of anything that made up part of his life, to no
avail.  His past was completely gone.  
	
He had remembered when he woke up....his head was pounding, and his
eyes came to a screeching halt when he came face to face with the
mighty Warlord that stood before him.  All he could feel was hot
flashes of white pain as the Warlord teased and tormented him,
laughing at every agonizing cry he made.  He wanted to cry for help,
wanted to find someone to help him, but he knew no one now.  He was
ordered to follow any lizard creature’s orders, but were given no
names.  He never knew who to call, what to do, and who to be afraid 
of.  
	
What if this were some sort of trading deal?  What if this Warlord was
merely selling Radu for these people’s ship.  However, they did seem
quite disturbed to see him, and they acted as if they had recognized
him.  The human one seemed the most upset by his condition.  Could it
be that he was a friend?  Whoever this person was in front of the
screen, he knew that it was no use recalling.  He had heard several
gaurds laughing and talking about some sort of mind-wiping.  He had
an ackward feeling they were talking about him.  
	
And now, here he sat, shameful and helpless, in the arms of a race who
had not given him the hospitality he had hoped for.  They had stripped
his memories away, taken away his identity, and left him bruised and
beaten in a small holding cell, while laughing about it.  With a lazer
pointer to his back, and the heat of it already scorching his sore
skin, he dare not move an inch in fear that the horrifying beating 
would begin again.  
	
“All right,” Harlan spoke after moments of silence, “all right, you 
win...we’ll meet for negotiation in sector 420 of quadrant 9.  No
tricks,” Harlan said firmly.
	
Warlord Shank snickered some, then nodded.  “We will be there,” he
replied, a smile crossing his face.  
	
“But please,” Harlan piped up, “can I please talk to him?  Alone?”
	
Shank hesitated for a moment, then motioned for several gaurds to 
cuff him.  “Why not,” Shank replied tartly, “he’s all yours. You have
five minutes,” Shank informed him, then left the room.  
	
There was several moments of silence as Radu stared blankly at the 
Earther. The Earther seemed to have a look of genuine care to his
face, but he could hardly tell if it was another trick. He had been
fooled so many times by the lizard creatures, that he hardly knew who
to trust anymore.  After several more seconds of silence, Harlan spoke
up.
	
“Radu, are you okay??” he asked, sounding slightly frantic.  
	
Radu stared blankly at Harlan for a moment, then quietly spoke.
“...Radu?  My name is...”
	
“No,” Harlan interrupted, “that is NOT your name. You dont answer to
that.  Your name is Radu.  You’ve been a crew member aboard this ship
for two and a half years...and you’re my friend.  And...and we’ll get
you out of this, I promise...”
	
Radu kept the same blank expression on his face as before.  “My...my
name is Radu?”
	
“Yes,” Harlan said with a heavy sigh.  
	
“I’m sorry,” Radu replied meakly, bending his head down.  
	
“For what?” Harlan asked, curious as to what he was talking about.
	
“For frustrating you,” Radu clarified.  “You seemed frustrated by what
I said, I’m sorry.”
	
“No, not at you,” Harlan replied with a half smile, “just at myself.”
	
Radu’s blank expression changed to one of confusion.  “So...you’re
my....friend?” Radu questioned.
	
Harlan grinned. “Yes...and I promise you, we’ll get you out of there.”
	
Radu nodded, still looking very lost.
	
At that moment, Warlord Shank took it upon himself to enter the room
once again and sit back on his throne, with several Spung warriors to
his side.  He pointed to Radu, and they surrounded him once again,
carefully aiming their guns towards Radu.  
	
“Well, did you have an interesting talk with the Andromedan?” Warlord
Shank inquired with a grin.  
	
“We still have 3 minutes!” Harlan piped up, even more outraged.
	
“I make the rules here, Earther,” Warlord Shank snapped with a scowl.
	
Harlan glared at the warlord and kept quiet.  He then noticed Radu
raising his head to face Warlord Shank.  
	
“What is it, Andromedan?” Warlord Shank asked, his tone nasty. 
	
“My name is...Radu,” Radu struggled to say.  
	
Warlord Shank’s expression changed from one of entertainment, to one
of anger.  He glanced back at Harlan who wore a cocky grin on his face.
Warlord Shank then rotated his stare to Radu who seemed vaguely unsure
of what he had said.  “Filthy Andromedan, Warlord Shank will show you
not to talk back!” he shouted out, enraged my Radu’s remark.  He then
stood quickly and grabbed a thin, metallic, easily flexible whip.  He
prepared to bring it down on Radu, when Harlan shouted out.
	
“No!  Stop!!  It was my fault, it was my fault!!” Harlan stated, panic
running through his mind.  
	
“Well, I suppose your friend will have to pay for that,” Shank replied
menacingly.  He then turned to the gaurds. “Take him to his holding
cell!  I’ll deal with him later,” Shank replied, glaring at the young
Andromedan.  With a bit of struggling, they were out the door.  
	
Warlord Shank then faced Harlan.  “Now, Harlan Band....We will meet in
one hour...if you are not there, your Andromedan will be killed.  Is 
that understood?”
	
Harlan speechlessly nodded, and Warlord Shank’s laughing figure
vanished off the screen.  Harlan only sat with his hands clenched in
fists of rage.  He could hardly believe what had just happened.  He
had nearly forgotten about Bova sitting directly behind him.  
	
“So what do we do now?” Bova asked meekly, slightly afraid to bother
Harlan.  
	
Harlan jumped at the sudden presence in the room (or what he thought
was a sudden presence), then sighed heavily.  “I dont know, Bova...I
just dont know.”

To Be Continued...

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