Author’s note: This story was originally uploaded on Deviantart but I’ve made some small changes.
Bob Skaaren, on his sixth day of awakening, looked up in the blue sky as the F-1400 Blackcat streaked towards the atmosphere; the sight made his heart soar up as high as the starfighter went. It disappeared into sky, going wherever the Kobayashi Kingdom sent it, as its twin-engines roar faded into the distance. His father’s hand fell on his shoulder, chuckling, as the hanger crew made preparations for the next launch.
“You don’t have the words to describe it, right? That’s all right, son, I don’t either,” said Commander Alfred Skaaren, a Blackcat pilot himself.
“Father, I want to be an aviator like them. Like you!” Bob beamed up towards the giant of man that his father was; his father tousled his hair as he smiled.
“One day, my boy, when you grow up and you study hard at your mathematics lesson, you’ll be up there with me.”
At this the boy faced the ground. “But I’m no good at my lessons. All the other children make fun of me because they know I’m stupid and they’ll be in the fleet academy!”
His father grunted. “Now listen to me, Robert. Don’t mind what the others say. I don’t want to hear that sort of talk ever again. You’re a Skaaren. We’re warriors, not like those Federation cowards!”
Bob looked up at him, eyes filled with pride, even though deep down the boy doubted himself; yet he had to keep up a strong face for his father. “Yes, father. I am a Skaaren!”
Alfred made his warrior face, like he always did with his son whenever he regaled him with tales of their family’s military service. He put on his instructor’s voice. “YOU’RE A SKAAREN AND WHAT ELSE?”
His son put himself at attention and shouted as loud as a child in his sixth year could. “I am a Skaaren and damn proud of it!”
“I AM A SKAAREN AND DAMN PROUD OF IT!”
“GOOD!” Alfred then softened his features and smiled. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were ready for service.”
“Really?! Oh, could mother not know I cursed though?”
Bob nearly jumped as his father’s laughter boomed in the hangar. “It’ll be between the two of us.”
The speakers called out for Alfred that his Blackcat was ready. “Well, I’ve got to go, son. Wish me luck, eh?”
Alfred’s aide stood by Bob, trying to keep the boy in his sight, in the control room. Bob watched through the windows, catching his father’s Blackcat. The starfighter’s twin-engines roared as it sped down the runway and lifted off, going up in the air. It went so far away that it became a tiny speck. Bob muttered under his breath. “I’ll go up there with you, father. Some day.”
That day never came and Bob grew up into a young man with a lousy score in the fleet academy; he flunked and to save face, Bob enlisted in the Kingdom’s Infantry, becoming a Doomgunner. He stayed at the rank of a lowly private, failing promotions, and bringing shame to his family, to his father.
It was a time of warfare and destruction; Of adventure; of Bounty Killers and Insurrectionists. The Kobayashi Kingdom sought extermination of the Federation. Several Kobayashi colonies had turn to the side of the Federation, rebelling against the tyranny of King Kobayashi. The war raged on several worlds, from the humid jungles of Vysskran to the icy tundras of Delta V; to the scorching dunes of Raurava, where an excavation for powerful relics that were known, only in legends and whispers, to hold the secrets of the universe. King Kobayashi’s keen interest in such matters was known among the royal court, rumors abounding that he had partaken in forbidden rituals for power. He enforced his rule with his Space Armada, Doomgunners, and the elite Shadow Samurai, who were ruthless and merciless under the leadership of Lord Akira, a Shadow Samurai more machine than man if he was ever a man to begin with, wielding powers of the Ki.
A prophecy has been foretold that the Chosen One, bringer of death and destruction and doom, will yield to whoever takes control of them. A devastating weapon that King Kobayashi is willing to destroy worlds and go to the ends of the universe to find it. Now on a mission from King Kobayashi, Lord Akira has taken a task force of Kobayashi Hellships on the way to Raurava, where Private Bob Skaaren, along with his war buddy Private Jeff Fraker is stationed with his platoon, not knowing of the impending rebel assault on the base during a blistering sandstorm….
“I’ll never forgive you for killing my husband, Kobayashi scum!” Zara the guerilla fighter spat at the two prisoners before her, laser pistol aimed squarely at them. Bob and Fraker were held prisoner at the insurgent base, a network of caves, the two Doomgunners were now at the mercy of the redheaded woman swathed in fatigues with a keffiyeh wrapped around her head.
“No, Zara, you must wait! We need them alive for information.” Bakanda said. A towering, brown cat humanoid with bright green eyes wielding a stolen Zeta 100 Rifle, he cut an imposing figure. Silently cursing, she holstered the pistol and stormed out.
“Gee, thanks, I thought we were goners for su-.” Fraker said but he was cut off by Bakanda hitting him in the gut with the rifle butt.
“Don’t thank me, you worthless drone! I just follow orders. And right now the orders are to keep you alive.”
Fraker held his stomach as he lied down in the fetal position. “You got my everlasting gratitude, guy.”
Bob kept quiet as Bakanda escorted them through a series of tunnels. They turned around and found themselves walking through a massive excavation of an ancient, underground temple. The workers were carrying a sarcophagus out of the entrance of the ancient temple. Bob looked agape as he whispered to Fraker.
“Hey, ya see-”
“Yep, just realized that our guys have been-”
“Digging in the wrong place,” Bob said in unison with Fraker. Bakanda shouted at them to stay silent. They left the massive cavern, walking through another tunnel, and into a smaller cave. An older man in his fortieth years stood there along with another man in his thirtieth years.
“I don’t believe it! Arkad, the leader of the resistance!” Fraker exclaimed, before Bakanda struck the back of his legs, causing him to collapse.
Bob didn’t look at Arkad but at the man in his thirtieth years. He had synthetic, glowing red eye. And Bob recognized him. Drako, second in command to Arkad and responsible for many of the atrocities committed by the insurgents.
“Let us begin our ‘interrogation’ of these scum,” Drako said, as he pulled out a wicked looking blade, waving it closer to Fraker’s face….
Bob and Fraker held Arkad, Zara, and Arkad hostage with their Zeta 100 rifles. Having overpowered and killed the sadistic Drako, they talked with each other on how to escape.
“I say we kill em and sneak out,” said Fraker before Bob thought of a better idea.
“Naw, I’m fed up with how this war’s been going. Let’s take em with us as hostages, swipe some disguises, and take what they dug out somewhere.” Bob smirked as he motioned for the hostages to move….
“One hundred thousand gil. Fifty when we leave and the other fifty when get to the destination. Those are my terms.” Cid Wolf said as he kept on eye out for Jub-Jub Basks, who was looking for him. Cid had an eyepatch over his right eye, a bomber jacket, and he had an amused air about him. Zara and Bob were sitting at the table in a bar, filled with all sorts of characters. A group of snake humanoids sang a song in their dialect while two sluggs argued about who would pick up the tab. The band, a bunch of cyclops with strange instruments, played the same song again. Two cat humanoids smoked from a hookah, their tails moving back and forth.
Bob had decided to take Zara along in case Bakanda and Arkad tried anything funny. After dodging the slaughter by Lord Akira and his Shadow Samurai, who wanted no witnesses at the temple, he was taking no chances. He asked the prisoners what the sarcophagus was all about but they were in the dark as he was.
An old man with steel gray hair, clad in faded crimson robes, drinking from a jug that hung from his belt, sat at the bar.
“That’s preposterous! You can’t just-” Bob said but Cid cut him off by raising his hand.
“Hey, kid, you’re asking me to go through Kobayashi fleet. I was being generous but since you complained, the price is now up to one-fifty.”
“Two hundred. I’m not a charity case.”
Zara merely said, “If we find the money, you’ll do it? No questions asked?”
Cid Wolf looked at her with some amusement. “Sure.”
At this moment, the old man with the crimson robes and jug sat at the table. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you young folks were in need of some gil. Would it help if I paid for the trip?”
Cid looked at the old man before saying, “Get lost, old geezer, and stay out of business that doesn’t concern you.”
The old man reached into his robes. Cid, who had his Mawzer pistol aimed at the boy and girl, switched it towards the old man.
The old man pulled out one hundred thousand gil and laid it on the table. “I’m willing to pay not only for my passage but for the young couple here as well. You’ll get the other half when we get to wherever it is they’re supposed to go.”
Cid laughed as he pocketed the gil. “I like you old-timer. You guys meet me over in Sector No. 7, where my Star Hawk is parked.”
Zara spoke up, “Thank you for kindness and generosity, sir. What name do you go by?”
The old man chuckled as he scratched his beard. “The name’s Noo.”
“Pretty silly, I know, but it was the one I was given. Now I may not know your names but I do know you’re part of the resistance. Oh, don’t act so shocked, I can tell most things. Just like how this gentleman here has been aiming his weapon at me this whole time. Would you mind if I stayed with you at the inn? I’ve nowhere to go and I won’t tell anyone your secret.”
Cid laughed as Zara and Bob looked stunned. “Now I really do like you, old-timer!”
As Zara, Bob, and Noo left, Cid was about to leave when Jub-Jub Basks, a fishlike being with an annoying guttural voice and a big double barrelled scatter pistol pointed at him, sat down at the table. “Heya Cid Jub! Slooper been really impatient with your payments coming up late Jub! I come to collect the gil Jub!”
Cid grunted as he replied, “Tell Slooper to wait, will ya? It’ll come eventually.”
“No Jub! I come to collect gil on your head Jub! You’re worth a lot of gil dead or alive and I don’t really want to look over my back with you alive Jub! So I’ll just have to settle for the bad smell of your dead body Jub!”
Cid fired his Mawzer pistol into Jub-Jub’s belly, splattering green goo all over the bar’s wall, as Jub-Jub fell over and flopped dead. The bartender, an ant with one antenna, shrieked in its native language about the mess being made. Cid simply tossed him a few thousand gil on his way out and apologized for the mess….
The Star Hawk, a triangular stealthship that looked past its prime, zipped through the asteroid field, as the group contemplated on how to open the sarcophagus.
“Does anyone know how to read the inscriptions here on the lid. I can’t make heads or tails of it. What about you, old-timer?” Fraker said before a beeping noise startled him. Devo-80, a silvery sphere synthetic, floated around. Bakanda snarled which caused the sphere to hide behind Zara, trembling in fear.
“That there’s Devo-80. He’s a harmless little fella,” Cid said as he wiped grime from his face, “Whew, the engine is giving one of its fits but it’ll get us through.”
Noo, dozing off, didn’t hear what Fraker or Cid said..
Fraker shouted at him. “Hey old-timer, wake up!”
Noo woke up with a snort and gave Fraker an annoyed look. “Whaddaya want, you punk?”
“We want you to read what it says on the sarcophagus here.”
Noo glared at him as he scratched his beard. “I may be old but I am not a fossil.”
Zara giggled as Devo-80 played some music. Cid looked at the sarcophagus and grunted. “Have you guys tried giving it a love tap yet?”
Bob looked puzzled. “No, why would we-”
Cid gave it a good, hard kick. “Open up, stupid!”
Arkad looked aghast. “You fool, stop that kicking! It’s the ultimate weapon and we don’t know how it’ll react.”
As if on cue, the sarcophagus hissed open and cool air drifted from it.
Bob, Fraker, Bakanda, and Zara took cover behind some furniture. Arkad collapsed to his knees, gasping. Noo merely yawned.
A pale hand reached into the air, followed by a waifish woman in her twentieth years. She looked very exhausted and blinked several times.
“Where am I?” She asked. “Who am I?”
Cid grunted. “You guys didn’t tell me you were slavers! I don’t do business with slavers.”
He unholstered his Mawzer pistol before a flash appeared below his neck, as the beam katana simmered in the air.
“I wouldn’t do anything rash, sonny, now put away that thing of yours. We’re not slavers,” Noo said as he held his beam katana close to Cid’s neck.
“A ronin? Gee, first a slave and now a ronin. What a day.” Cid holstered his Mawzer and sighed. “Well, things couldn’t get any wor-”
The ship’s alarm sounded off as Blackcats fired at the Star Hawk.
“Damn! I had to say it, didn’t I!” Cid snapped as he ran to the cockpit. “Fraker, Bob, and Zara, get to the gunners and shoot those bastards!”
Zara got most of them, Fraker got three, and Bob got none until he saw the last Blackcat wander in his HUD. Aiming the laser cannon, Bob was taken aback as he recognized his father’s Blackcat! “I can’t shoot…I can’t.”
“He seems to be doing it without any compunction, Bob! Take the shot!” Zara snapped. But Bob couldn’t so he decided to wing it. The Blackcat easily dodged it and then flew off.
“Bob, it’ll come back with reinforcements. Why didn’t you shoot, dammit!?” Zara grilled him and Bob retorted.
“He’s my father!” Bob wept as he looked down at his feet. Zara said nothing and left him alone….
After a harrowing escape, they discovered that their destination, the resistance star base, was nowhere to be found. Cid fiddled with the radar to see if he could find it but so far, he couldn’t find jack and shit. Meanwhile, Devo-80 shined a little red dot on the wall every time Bakanda passed and Bakanda leapt at the wall to catch it, only to be confused that he could never grab it.
The strange girl was with Cid in the cockpit, pestering him with all sorts of questions.
“Who are you?” She asked.
“Cid.” He replied.
“What do you do?”
“Bounty killing. I catch bad people, kill them, and bring their bodies back for a hefty amount of gil.”
“What do you mean ‘kill’?”
Cid tried figuring out how to reply before saying, “They go to sleep forever.”
“Do all of them want to sleep forever?”
“Then why do you do it?”
“What keeps the universe moving.”
“That’s not true. I know what makes the universe move. It’s the Ki from everyone.” Cid chuckled at the reply as he turned towards the girl. “You really don’t believe in that?”
“I do. Your Ki is very low though.”
Cid laughed out loud at this. “Of course it is! Because I’m an unbeliever, right?”
“No, because you seal it away. Perhaps you lost someone close to you.”
Cid glared and snapped at her. “How do you-”
The strange girl spoke in a familiar voice, that belonged to a woman he loved a long time ago. “Cid, how many times have I told you to stop going so fast on your Star Hawk? You’ll get yourself killed, ya dummy.”
Cid grabbed her shoulders and yelled at her. “Who are you, dammit?!”
Bakanda sauntered in and spoke in a low voice. “Let her go, Bounty Killer.”
Cid let her go, a sad expression on his face.
“I am sorry I did that, I didn’t mean to-” The strange girl didn’t finish as Cid cut her off.
“Get out. Please, just leave me alone.” And with that, he slumped into his seat….
Noo paced back and forth as he lectured Bob on how to use the beam katana, a spare one he had. “No no no no NO. You’re doing it wrong. Like this!”
Noo opened his beam katana up and slashed the air smoothly, cutting the three berries that Zara had thrown. She looked on with an amused expression as Bob slashed the erratically.
“Aw nuts, lemme try again, okay?” Bob said as he lowered his beam katana. Noo sighed as though he had an entire planet on his shoulders.
Bob concentrated as he raised his beam katana into the offensive stance. Noo had taken to teaching Bob how to be a ronin because Noo said he was bored and Bob seemed like a good test dummy or apprentice or something.
“Okay, Zara, chuck em again.” Zara chucked three more berries and Bob sliced all three.
“Hey I got it! Ow, why did ya hit me on the head for?” Bob rubbed his head where Noo tapped him with the hilt.
“You still have a ways to go, you rube. Keep slicing.” Noo said as he scratched his beard.
Later on, Cid was teaching Bob how to fly the Star Hawk.
“Okay, and what’s this button do?” Bob pointed at the big red button. Cid smacked Bob’s hand away from there.
“That’s the button that grows flowers. What do you think, bozo!”
“I think it doesn’t make flowers….”
Cid smirked. “You catch on quick. Remember kid, it’s all about instincts. Now try not to hit that asteroid.”
Bob only clipped it as Cid chewed him out for it….
“What do we call ya?” Fraker said as they ate their meal. Arkad grunted, stuffing his face.
“It doesn’t matter, she’s an ultimate weapon and as such she really doesn’t need a name.”
Zara looked at him with surprise. “That’s a little insensitive, don’t you think? We don’t even know if she really is.”
Arkad shrugged. “We have a mission and that is to get our hands on an ultimate weapon and keep it away from that mad king.”
“Fine. In the mean time, I’ll call her Tina.” Zara replied angrily.
“I like it.”
The group turned to see that the strange girl, Tina, stood at the entrance of the dining room. “I think it fits.”
Cid merely drank from his flask and ignored the others, sitting by himself, as Noo came up to him. “Hey sonny, I’ve been meaning to ask ya favor.”
“Gonna cost you.”
Noo scratched his beard. “Had a feeling you’d say that. Here’s what I had in mind.”
And Noo told Cid his plan….
“Traitor! You sneaked through all of those traps and chases, only to bring us to their base?! Why?” Zara spat at Cid as he received his bounty on the group. Noo was nowhere to be found, hidden away somewhere on the Fortress Noir, a massive flying fortress that looked like a moon and armed with a planet cracker.
“Just doing my job, sister. Nothin’ against you.” Cid said as he started to board his magnificent Star Hawk. Lord Akira, clad in his black Shadow Samurai armor, wearing a grinning black skull mask over his face, waved for the Doomgunners to escort the prisoners to the execution room. He was brutally honest about what happened to their base.
“We destroyed your resistance base with our mighty cannon. Now you have no hope. Where is the other one?” Lord Akira said in his deep, robotic voice.
“What other guy? What you see is what you get,” Cid said as he counted his gil, “I delivered them here. If you lost one, then that’s on you.”
Lord Akira, towering over Cid, leaned in and said, “Find them. And you will be compensated greatly!”
“Nope. Go do it yourself. We had a deal and it’s done now.” Lord Akira could use his Ki to strangle this insolent fool but as insufferable as he was, the man had a point.
“Very well then. You may leave. Alive.” Lord Akira turned around, sweeping his cloak, as black as the night, and headed for security room to find Noo on the surveillance systems.
“I’m sorry to see you go away so soon, mister. Good-bye.” Tina said as Cid looked away. He couldn’t bring himself to face her….
“What are you doing?” Tina asked as the scientists strapped her into a pod. They ignored her and shut it close. The scientists then pressed a button on a control panel and Tina felt like she was on fire.
“Why are you doing this?” Tina said but they simply increased the agony until she could no longer support it. Just then Noo barged in, brandishing his beam katana. A Doomgunner, clad in body armor and a helmet with trifocal goggles, opened fire but he was too slow. Noo bifurcated him and deflected a laser blast from the other Doomgunner back at him, the blast piercing his skull. The scientists cowered in fear as Noo ordered them. “Let her go.”
They deactivated the control panels but Tina, shrieking in agony, blew apart her pod and floated out, glowing with the power of infinite suns. She vaporized the scientists and nearly did the same to Noo only for him to dodge the blast.
“Please Tina, it’s me, Noo, calm down!” Noo yelled out as he shielded his eyes from her awesome power. Tina’s glow faded and then she passed out, falling into Noo’s arms. “Alright, Devo-80, look for Bob and the others. Unlock the cells and direct them to the docking bay! Hurry, we mustn’t lose time.”
Devo-80 flew from his robes and towards the control panel, linked to it, and found out where the group was being held….
“Cid?! What are you doing here? I thought you betrayed us!” Bob said as the forcefields shut down, freeing them. Cid just shrugged.
“It’s part of Noo’s plan. There’s a traitor in our group and it ain’t yours truly. Now, we gotta bail this place before the Doomgunners find us.”
Cid tossed Zara’s Dezzer Pistol and she immediately aimed it at Cid.
“What are you-” Cid didn’t finish as Zara fired her pistol, killing two Doomgunners behind him. She smirked at him.
“Caught you off guard, didn’t I?”
Cid just laughed as Bob, Zara, Fraker, and Bakanda left. Arkad was nowhere to be found….
Cid fired his Mawzer pistol, keeping Tina behind him, at the Doomgunners firing back as Bakanda had his back with the Zeta 100 rifle spewing a constant stream of lasers that it looked like a solid beam of light. Bob, Zara, and Fraker made a mad dash to the Star Hawk, nearly getting hit by lasers. Noo was locked in a fierce fight with Lord Akira, their beam katanas making crackling noises as they collided with one another.
“So, I should have known you were behind this, Lord Susanoo!” Lord Akira said as he deflected a blow from Noo.
“That man exists no more. I lost the right to be called Lord as soon as you, my former pupil, corrupted the Ki. If only I wasn’t such a stubborn, hard headed fool back in my youth, I wouldn’t have let you run amok with power.” Noo parried and attempted to hit Lord Akira’s blindside but the Shadow Samurai was too quick and countered before impaling Noo right through the heart.
Bob yelled out in horror as Noo, formerly Lord Susanoo, fell to the floor of the docking bay. Bakanda had to restrain him. “We have to go now! There is nothing we can do!”
Fraker was barely in his seat when Cid jump started the Star Hawk, blasting his way out.
Later on, when they had made good on their escape, Fraker, Bob, Zara, and Tina were sitting in the rec room. Bakanda and Cid were in the cockpit. Zara spoke up first.
“I am so sorry, Bob, I knew how close you were with Noo.”
Tina chimed in. “He was a kind man. He may have been extreme in letting us get caught but I forgive him for that.”
“I’m a disgrace to my family’s honor, I’ve taken the lives of too many innocents, and I lost the closest person I could call a father after my real one disowned me,” Bob said, breaking down in tears. Tina patted him on the back to comfort him. Cid walked into the room.
“For what its worth, kid, I’m sorry it turned out this way.” Cid said before an alarm sounded out that several Starcat fighters were on their tail.
“We got company! Quick, man the gunners, Bob and Fraker, we haven’t much time!” Cid barked as he ran back to the cockpit.
“Sheesh, guy likes giving orders a lot!” Fraker snarked as he operated the gunner, blasting the fighters into smithereens. Suddenly, a familiar Blackcat showed in Bob’s HUD; it was his father.
“No! I can’t open fire on my father!” Bob shouted before the Star Hawk rumbled from the blasts impacting it.
“Bob, your dad doesn’t seem to have the same issue shooting at us!” Fraker replied, firing back.
“Damn!” Bob fired in the general direction of his father, not really aiming at him, forcing him to evade….
They made good on their escape, reaching the secondary base of the resistance forces. But Bob and Fraker were taken prisoner again. Zara vouched for them, as did Cid and Bakanda.
“Isn’t that swell, their reward for bringing you guys alive is an execution the next day.” Cid snarled as he went towards his Star Hawk, Tina following him.
“Cid, where are you going?! Your friends need your help-”
Cid turned on her and snapped. “Listen, sister, this isn’t my fight. I got you guys through and that was it. I don’t stick out my neck for anyone.”
Missy, on the verge of tears, replied, “So that’s how it is then? You just don’t care about anything!”
Cid nodded and started to board. “Yep. It’ll only hurt more in the long run.”
“You don’t mean that. You’re only afraid of hurting yourself. Cid, when will you learn that it wasn’t your fault!” Tina cried out but Cid waved her away. “She forgave you.”
Cid stopped in his track. He didn’t turn around. “What do you know.”
“That she wants you to move on and that the accident wasn’t your fault. Cid, please…don’t go.” Tina said as she started to cry.
Cid sighed and then he boarded the Star Hawk, leaving Tina alone in the hangar….
The base had come under fire from a bombing raid and they would not survive another. Fraker and Bob were in their cells when a familiar face showed up. Arkad the traitor, pointing his pistol at them.
“Well well, if it isn’t the two idiots. I’m afraid I can’t let you and Zara live now that you know my secret.” He aimed at Fraker and a laser blast echoed in the corridor. He flinched, grabbing at himself, before realizing he hadn’t been shot as Arkad fell down. Zara stood in the entrance, smoke drifting from the barrel of her pistol. She told the other resistance members who were present that Bob and Fraker were on their side and that the leader of the resistance was betraying them all along. The two friends were released and they would have celebrated except that the Fortress Noir Cannon was preparing to fire a shot at their base, to wipe out the resistance in one fell swoop!
The resistance decided to recruit them, to fly the stolen Blackcats along with the squadron.
“Since we’re short a few pilots, how about you go with us?” A resistance member said as he walked to his Blackcat, Bob following along. Bob hesitated since he barely remembered what Cid taught him. Remember kid, it’s all about instincts. But he made up his mind.
“Count me in!” Bob said and they gave him an old clunker of a Blackcat. A briefing followed, as the pilots were given a the schematics on the weakpoints of the Fortress Noir. Bob gulped as he realized that he would have no chance at all to even fire a clear shot due to the lack of his skills and it being a one in a million chance….
The resistance squadron flew towards the Fortress Noir but it was too late, as the planet cracker cannon fired a gigantic beam at the base, wiping out most of the squadron in the blast, and it would have blown the planet up except that the beam was stopped by an invisible wall around the planet. At the resistance base, Zara was taken aback as Tina floated in the air, glowing so brightly as she used her immense power to stave off the onslaught. After the beam dissipated, she collapsed. Breathing heavily, she said, “I cannot do that again. It’s up to Bob and Fraker to stop it from firing again.”
Back in space, Bob, Fraker, and what remained of the squadron were fighting against overwhelming odds as the Lightning Claw Squadron began to demolish them.
And it was down to Bob and Fraker, making the trench run through the massive fortress, when Commander Alfred Skaaren blasted Fraker.
“Damn, Bob, looks like I’m not gonna make it. Tell my wife and son that I loved them,” Fraker said before blowing up into smithereens.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Father, how could you do this?!” Bob shouted through the comms, barely dodging his father’s blasts.
“He would have done the same. And now I have you in my sights!” His father said as he lined up the shot on his son’s Blackcat…only to hesitate. He couldn’t bring himself to kill his only son. Who had grown up to be a proud warrior.
“Go ahead, Father, but I am not going to let you stop me,” Bob said as he tried maneuvering out of the way. Alfred chuckled as he heard this.
“You really are your father’s son. Will you forgive an old bastard for being foolish enough to not recognize his own son’s bravery?”
Bob fought back tears as he replied, “Yeah, all I ever wanted from you was to be proud of me.”
Alfred shielded his son’s Blackcat by flying close to it, obstructing any clear shot his squadron had. There was only silence as father and son flew side by side together.
“My pride blinded me, Bob. I’ve always been proud of you.”
And then Alfred’s starfighter was shot down. Bob cried out as Lord Akira, in his Blackcat, fired another shot at Alfred’s starfighter.
The comms abruptly shut down between them.
Lord Akira had a lock on Bob’s starfighter and he was about to take the shot.
“Your victory is short lived, traitor, now I-” Lord Akira was cut off by Cid and Bakanda swooping in with the Star Hawk, dogging Lord Akira’s black Starcat with laser fire.
“Take the shot, kid!” Cid shouted as Lord Akira’s black Starcat spun out of control, flying away in space.
This is for you, father, Bob thought as he fired his payload at Fortress Noir’s weak point. The Blackcat and Star Hawk both flew away as Fortress Noir exploded in a kaleidoscope of sound and fury….
Patrick had already seen the award ceremony several times before. He was sitting on the living room floor with his cousin Al as they finished watching The Jillucian Wars Episode I: A New Light. The two kids had just finished the movie as the snow fell in droves outside of the house. Patrick’s Mom had brought him and his sister to Kansas after leaving his Dad. He was under the impression that they were all on vacation until he started school there. He missed his Dad and thought his Mom was acting unfair towards him.
Anyway, Patrick knew how it would all end.
How Robert Skaaren, now high up in the chain of command in the resistance, received the medal for both him and Jeffrey Fraker; Zara Taslim, looking pretty in her dress as she threw a glance towards Bob that wasn’t hateful but soft; Cid Wolf fidgeting in his tight fitting uniform as he stood around uncomfortable; Bakanda the cat humanoid purring in pleasure as Tina scratched behind his ears as she gave a knowing smile at Cid; the fanfare playing over the credits as the movie wrapped up.
He knew that in Episode II, the party would be broken up and Bob would lose his first duel against Lord Akira due to his impatience with the training from Lord Zangar; Bob would be rescued by his friends at the end; they would have to go rescue Cid from the dungeon of Slooper the Slugg in Episode III and Cid would eventually defeat Lord Akira to redeem the cyborg Shadow Samurai from going further down the path of ruin; King Kobayashi would be slain by Lord Akira himself after Lord Akira expends his last bit of life; and in the end, Bob would marry Zara, Cid with Tina, and Bakanda and Devo-80 would look all happy from the sidelines.
He knew of all the fantastic adventures, their devastating defeats and tragedy; their greatest triumphs and redemption; and of their despair and hope they would have.
Patrick knew all of that because he’d seen all of the movies before. His Mom and Aunt called to the kids that dinner was ready and they left for the dining room. Patrick lingered in the room for a bit before saying, “Merry Christmas, Dad.”
And then he went to the dining room as the snow kept falling outside.