The Missing Princess Part 14: A Desperate Cry in the Darkness

In the last heart-wrenching chapter Imperial Princess Taegan allowed herself to be captured by one of a gang of brutal Space Pirates who had boarded the desolate Imperial Watch Station in orbit around planet Eratus Est of the Draco star system, as she was carried off aboard a stolen Imperial Class II Scorpion rocket as gallant Galacteer Commander Lightyear of the Lightyear Brigade was forced to watch on along with the rest of the Space Pirates the treacherous four-armed Kutila named Xasaphrax tossed a live grenade into the docking port! Which terrible fate has befallen noble Commander Lightyear? To be marooned with murderous pirates or a swift explosive death?

“See you all in the afterlife you scudge swilling zwilniks”
With a cruel laugh the mottled reptiloid tossed the live grenade, slamming closed the aluminiglass and goldrantium hood down and pulled the rocket swiftly away.

The grenade bounced and skittered across the docking bay right into the corridor where Commander Lightyear and the Pirates had watched the departure of the treacherous Xasaphrax coming to rest right at Lightyear’s feet! As the pirates stared in stunned and fatal shock Lightyear, with his superior strength from years spent as a child growing acclimatised on a high-gravity world; the superior reflexes of Galacteer training and the skills of split-second decision-making that comes from mastering the break-neck speed of the Galacteer Class 1 Comet Rocket leapt into instant action!

With the skill of a professional athlete he kicked the grenade back into the docking port, slamming the hatch as he did so and throwing himself onto two of the gormless pirates hurling them to the ground and protecting their unworthy lives with his own far more noble one!

Ka-BOOOOM!
The whole station shuddered and vibrated as the docking port was torn asunder by the powerful super-explosive!

Lightyear sprung to his feet, drawing in a single elegant motion a pistol in each hand from the holsters of the men he used his own body to shield as he rose, barking orders with a tone of natural command.

“You, go down two floors to the third locker on the left and get 3 sets of welding gear, You and you, take off your shirts and use them to hold the air in those seals around that door, you, you come with me!”

The pirates, shocked into action by the booming voice of the Galacteer snapped to attention even before realising he was now armed, and when their ears ceased ringing from the concussion of the explosion they heard the whistling of the airleak that Lightyear could not have yet heard but simply knew from experience would be there.

“Where are we going?” Asked the pirate accompanying Lightyear from the hatch.

“Before I answer your question you answer mine. Which do you prefer, a shorter sentence in prison commuted at my say for cooperation in all our survival or death right here and now?”

The pirate gulped but answered swiftly “Shorter sentence”

“Good,” replied Lightyear with a tone as unwavering as granite, “Don’t change your mind” he motioned with one pistol towards the command room door while keeping the other trained on the pirate. “We’re going to have a little look at a screen and do a little tinkering with some wires.”

*******************************************************************************

As the Scorpion flew away the Princess, seeing the damage the grenade wrought to the docking port calculated the odds of Lightyears survival and her heart broke. Despite all her mighty will, a single tear slipped down her face. Cold icy roots of rage took root in her chest and fought with her mind for control of her actions. Her hands were bound behind her, something she could rectify but in the cramped confines of the tiny space behind the pilots seat resting as she was on a small golden folding bench not something she could do without attracting attention unless she took a long time with it. The fool pilot, subject now of her murderous cruel feelings, had foolishly not bound her feet and even without the hidden blades in her high heeled shoes and the weapon that was the very heels themselves she had a dozen different ways she could kill or main him with her feet alone.

Her rational will wanted to follow through with the pirates plans, her life worth more in ransom than any pirate would pass up and so would be a fairly swift way back to her own people who now might be based anywhere after the loss of the watch station to the deadly Brain Parasite. Her heart wanted to enact every form of violence imaginable upon the murderous wretch sitting in easy reach in front of her. Her mighty will was pitted against the strength of her passionate heart, and each was a truly formidable opponent.

She considered all the ways she had killed the enemies of the Empire in the past, the swift but still gratifying deaths and the slow ones. Trying to imagine any punishment she could possibly inflict upon the pirate that would hurt as much as the wound to her heart the pirate had inflicted on her with that grenade. The quandary of that impossible dilemma was enough to keep her vengeful heart busy while the rocket sped on.

************************************************************************
Commander Lightyear kept one eye on the little blip on the scope that marked the progress of the rocket carrying the Princess. Till it reached the edge of the scopes range he would not miss a single change of course even if his very life depended upon it. The other eye he kept on the pirate finishing the rewiring he had instructed be carried out.

“I don’t see how this is going to get anyone’s attention, all this will do is get a single noise out, and on an unused band at that. Even if someone heard it they wouldn’t pay any attention to it.”

“Oh this will work.” Said the grinning Lightyear. “Hand me that toggle-switch and watch.”

Lightyear, still keeping an eye on the precise coordinates of the Scorpion started tapping the toggle switch, cutting the circuit on, then off, in measured staccato rhythm, creating pulses of signal.

“Some kind of code?” Asked the now-fascinated pirate.
“Oh yes, one every Galacteer learns as a Cadet. An ancient one no longer used by shipping and other forces but good for occasions just like this one.”

*****************************************************************************

Cadet Skippy’s eyes nearly bulged from their sockets as the signal came through the headphones over-riding the low-strength signal of the training exercise. “Gosh and Golly!” he exclaimed as he ripped the headphones from his head disturbing Comet, the chimpanzee, from his reading, the enraged primate screeching protest before placing a bookmark in the work of Dostoyevsky and loping after the young lad.

Skippy raced down the length of the Galacteer class 2 Supernova to the command cabin bursting through the hatch in such excitement that his first burst of speech was unintelligibly garbled.

“Whoa there, slow down” said Ace McGuire, producing his characteristic gleaming warm smile as he stood from the pilots chair and handing controls over to expert pilot and markswoman Jane Hunter. “What’s up Skippy?”

Catching his breath and heart racing the young Cadet finally managed to make his words clear.
“There was a morse-code signal! It cut right over the instructional beam. Lightyear, c-Commander Lightyear is in trouble”

“Trouble?” piped up the Professor Price, temporarily filling in on Ace’s crew with the absence of Dr Zahn, as he turned from Dr Zahn’s custom-built Science Console hooked up to the navigation system on Skippy’s left, “What kind of trouble?”

“He’s trapped on a damaged Imperial station with a bunch of pirates. They’ve not got much life support, the Space Pirates have kidnapped Imperial Princess Taegan and he says the system is awash with warring Zenithians, Imperials, Pirates, Valkeeri and he even fought a Brain Parasite!”

“A Brain Parasite you say?” mused Professor Price rubbing his brow in thought.

“Where is this station Skippy?” Asked Ace with a parental patience and calm.

“In orbit about the planet Eratus Est in the Draco system.”

“But Ace,” added Jane quizzically, her head tipped to the side as she joined in without taking her eyes from the field of stars they were traversing, “Commander Lightyear wasn’t anywhere near the Draco system. You spoke to him earlier yourself, he’s been on the other side of patrolled space and is en-route to Earth. He can’t possibly be in the Draco system.”

“Gooo-llyyy I nearly forgot the most important bit!”

“Well don’t keep us in suspense Skippy.” Responded Ace good-naturedly.

“Lightyear said the Galacteers, the Valkeeri and probably Empire too.. have been infiltrated by Pod-people clones! That the other Lightyear is a Saucerman fake!”

“Well it’s a good thing we are already on our way back to the Draco system to rendezvous with Doctor Zahn. Ready to engage the wormhole drive Professor Price?”

“Ready as always Ace!”

“Jane, set course. Professor Price, get your scientific equipment stowed for combat. Comet, make sure our weapons and spacesuits are ready for exo-atmos combat. I’ll get on the scrambler with todays code and warn headquarters about the possible clone threat. And Cadet Skippy..”

“Yes Sir?” Asked Skippy, saluting.

“Finish your lesson. It’s real instead of a drill this time. I want that signal record decoded and on my console at light-speed for headquarters. Fire on All Jets, Space Cadet!”

“Yes SIR!” Cried the enthusiastic Cadet as he raced into action eliciting a soft gentle laugh from Jane and a broad smile form Ace.

**************************************************************************

The Princess sat, apparently still to any casual observer, but carefully tensing various muscles of her body in carful order to ensure the hours with her hands bound behind her back did not cramp nor numb her arms. The bindings had carefully been unpicked and re-tied in such a way that they would appear solid but at a simple tug on the right loop would come undone.

Suddenly she noticed something in the world outside, over the shoulder of the miscreant whose neck she had been staring at, longing to break or sever. The occultion of stars by a monumental large black unlighted mass looming before them.

**********************************************************************************

Commander Lightyear kept repeating the signal. He had no way of knowing if it had yet been received, but he was using the outer skin of the station itself as an antenna, crude but effective with such a simple system, so some cadet somewhere would be receiving it. Eventually. He was ever watchful of the blip on the radarscope as it grew fainter and closer to the edge of the scopes range. It was heading in straight line at least. The rest of the pirates had ceased to cause him any trouble, it seemed they realised how dire the situation was and unless they were rescued by their own people, which by their demeanour seemed unlikely, even a long stay in a Galacteer cell seemed preferable to the present situation.

The little astro-radarscope blip had maybe half an hour left at most before disappearing.. and then suddenly it was gone!

What has become of The Princess and the Pirate? Will Ace arrive in time to save Commander Lightyear? What is the mysterious mission of Galacteer super-scientist Dr Zahn? Do not miss the next nail-biting instalment of Hydra Serials Waaar Roooocket The Missing Princess Chapter 15: The Ancient Artifact! Proudly brought to you by Turing Calculators, the Voynich library ‘More Knowledge Than Any Mind Can Handle’ and by the Space Patrol Code Belt offer just 25 cents and a box top.

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2 comments on “The Missing Princess Part 14: A Desperate Cry in the Darkness

  1. The cool stuff continues. Except I don’t get to participate on Farce Book any more, they essentially kicked me out via what I think are slightly shady policies – look up the FB blog on FB for something titled Malware Checkpoint. 2000+ seriously unhappy campers.
    There is more to the story, but it would be longer than your story.
    Anyway, I will indeed “Stay tuned for further developments” 🙂

    • Sad to hear we won’t be chatting further on Facebook Forrest, but I’m glad to hear you are ok and can keep in touch 😀

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