By: Jason Bliss
Chapter 11 – Another Nemesis
Maxus awoke his body badly bruised but not broken. He slowly opened his eyes and looked about. Seeing the threat was gone, and given the fact he was still breathing, meant it came from outside of the ship and the emergency shields had worked after all. He made a mental note to have the shields designer promoted. Slowly he made it to his feet and looked at the carnage around him. A huge gaping hole was where his window used to be. With the emergency shield being the only thing holding the vast, dark, and cold vacuum of space at bay. Smiling to himself he Maxus shook his head in disbelief began to laugh hysterically. What else was he supposed to do, break down and cry?
“Bah! So much for this office…” Maxus said brushing the dust and dirt from his uniform as he straightened himself out.
As he was himself off he suddenly remembered he was not alone. His pulse quickened and a bead of sweat began to form just above his brow. Could Gak’tul have tried to kill him? He couldn’t be sure, but with the most recent events he couldn’t afford not to be.
“Gak’tul! Are you there?!?” shouted Maxus as he quickly made his way to what had once been his desk.
Maxus heard a grunt from a pile of debris to the opposite side of which he had laid.
“Is that you Gak’tul?” mumbled Maxus in a cracked voice as he dug through the remains of his desk for the blaster he always kept there.
He knows he has a problem, someone wants him dead, and he knows it has to be his old friend Gak’tul. But why? Why him? Why now? The debris slowly starts to shift and move as Gak’tul struggles to free himself. Maxus frantically searched for his blaster with his hands his eyes, full of fear and uncertainty, never leaving the pile of debris. Finally he finds his blaster and he rises to his feet, the blaster aimed at the shifting pile of debris.
“I know you are strong enough to toss off that debris if it is truly you Gak’tul! Get up off the ground NOW!” his voice dripping with fear.
Mazuko grunted as he struggled to get up from beneath the debris. Maxus was right, if he were really Gak’tul he would have no trouble tossing off the debris that had him pinned down. Mazuko knew he had to maintain the guise of Gak’tul or he would be found out and all of their carefully crafted plans would be left in ruin. With a single grunt and much strain he lifted himself up from the floor, the debris sliding down to the floor causing a large dust cloud to form.
Gak’tul rose from the debris his eyes trained upon Maxus.
“Put that blasted thing away. You hardly know how to arm one of those damned things, let alone how to shoot it.” Said Gak’tul.
A risky move no doubt, but one he had no choice but to take.
With a heavy sigh of relief Maxus lowered the blaster to his side and smiled.
“Thank the God’s that you still live my friend! I thank you so for knocking me down as you did. Had you been a second later neither one of us would be standing here today!” Maxus said in a near shout as he moved towards Gak’tul helping to brush the dust from his cloak.
“Aye…I saw the missile heading towards us through your porthole.” Said Gak’tul as he too began to dust himself off.
“Marvelous…I must say these shields are magnificent.” Maxus said his right hand moving in a gesturing sweep over the hole in the ships hull behind them.
“Fortunately for us your men did not power down the shields after our battle or neither one of us would be standing here now.” Gak’tul said as his eyes followed every movement Maxus was making, unsure if his cover still remained.
“Too true my friend. Too true.” Maxus sighed again as he put his arm around Gak’tul’s neck in a friendly gesture as both men left the now ruined office.
Gak’tul shook his head in disbelief. He couldn’t believe Maxus was capable of acting as if the event had never taken place. An important skill for a competent Commander, perhaps he was not such the fool after all? Than again…Maxus is crazy, in his own sort of way thought Gak’tul.
Pushing Maxus’s arm aside Gak’tul turned to face him. “I will return shortly. I must tend to my men and tell them that I am well. Once my vessels damaged in today’s battle are repaired I will return. My fleet will rendezvous with yours at the home planet of the Human Alliance.. Good luck Maxus, take care…” He turned and started down the corridor, his massive frame taking up nearly all of it.
“Goodbye my friend!” said Maxus with an excited wave of the hand.
Mazuko made his way back to his capital ship and sighed in relief as he cast aside his Gak’tul disguise. Smiling to himself he thought of the events that had just taken place. Not only had he verbally beaten Maxus, the most powerful speaker in the galaxy, but he had saved his life, and flat out fooled him. How he had managed thus far to keep Maxus fooled he had no clue, but he certainly wasn’t going to complain about it.
Mazuko slowly ran his fingers through his goatee in thought. Who would want to kill Maxus? What purpose would Maxus’s death serve? Who would benefit if he died? Mazuko paced across his cabin for a majority of the night pondering these thoughts. Finally giving up in dismay he sat upon his bed and started to unlace his boots. As he did so he muttered his thoughts aloud.
“Who the hell would want him dead? It’s not like he has any political enemies right now, at least none that our operatives have not already dealt with. Hmmm…perhaps if Maxus were slain the Human Alliance would topple? Bah…such a stupid thought it’s not like he cannot be easily replaced.”
Mazuko fell back upon his bed and stared at the metal plated ceiling above him, his eyes slowly start to close as he begins to fall asleep.
**Ding, ding** “What do you want Picese?” Mazuko said sitting up abruptly.
“I could not help but hear your mutterings Sir, might I make a suggestion?” Said Picese in a synthesized voice.
“You know I could have you erased for doing that Picese…”
“Understood Sir...goodnight then.”
“No wait Picese, please go ahead and make your suggestion.”
“Well Sir perhaps Maxus was not the intended target. Perhaps the assailant was a
fanatic who believes the Alien’s are our saviors? There are several groups on planet XT4E-LU that are known to harbor such beliefs.”
“Say that again Picese” shouted Mazuko excitedly.
“There are several groups on planet XT43-L…”
“No, no dammit the beginning of the message Picese, the beginning!” Impatiently Mazuko jumped from bed and started pacing his cabin once more.
“Perhaps Maxus was not the intended target. Perhaps the assailant…”
“THAT’S IT! Picese you are a GENOUS! If you were real I could kiss you!” Mazuko said excitedly as he smacked his hands together.
“I’m grateful I was able to help Sir. Is there anything else Sir?”
“No, no thank you Picese you may power down now.”
“Yes Sir, goodnight.” At this Picese powered down and Mazuko was left to ponder his own thoughts. His mind racing phenomenally fast, he tried to remember every important individual on that ship. However he could not think of anyone aboard that would warrant an attack of that magnitude.
“Unless…no it can’t be…Gak’tul…Gak’tul was the target. God dammit it was in front of me the whole time! I know who you are, you son of a…”
Mazuko bolted from his room and ran towards the communications center to attempt to contact Mastermind.
Once he made his way into the communications center he quickly moved to the main control panel the men in the room all looking at him in bewilderment.
Mazuko quickly turned from the control panel and spoke. “All of you are dismissed. You will be notified when you may return to your duties.”
With a quiet cheer and a quick salute the men filed out of the communications center and shut the door behind them. Following behind them he locked and changed the access code to the door so that no one could enter during his transmission. Returning to the main control panel his hands moving at lightning speeds as he frantically tried to raise Mastermind.
“Mastermind come in, Mastermind this is Mazuko, come in Mastermind.”
“This is Mastermind, go ahead.”
“Is this channel clear?”
“That is affirmative, begin transmission.”
“Everything is going as planned.
“It seems…we have a new nemesis. An AWOL Commander from our own ranks.”
“Really? Are you sure?”
“Yes Sir. I couldn’t be more positive if you were holding a blaster to my head.”
“I did send one Commander to the cluster of the Imperial Scourge…NO…he can’t be the…”
“Yes…he is the one.”
“DAMNIT! How could we not have known?”
“What do you want me to do Sir?”
“You KNOW what to do Mazuko.”
“I don’t want this escalating to an all out war with the Human Alliance. Finish it, and finish it quietly!”
Mazuko now a bit relaxed knew what had to be done. He had to eliminate the rogue Commander. But how? He knew damn well it wouldn’t be an easy task. The traitor had made quite a name for himself with the sheer number of slaves running his holdings. They all had implants to do what ever he wished them to do, making them all the more deadly. He couldn’t do this alone, but whom else could he depend on? Laughing loudly he exited the communications center and made his way into his office dropping himself the chair at his desk picking up the holophone as he did so. Mazuko dialed a trusted Commander.
“Good evening Commander Sterling. I have a Mission for you…”