Sunday, 16 January 1994

The Empire Saga Chapter Ten

    The Phantom Cruiser hurled through space past Saturn. At the controls sat Space Ghost. Watt sat next to him, and behind them Magus and the Doctor.
    “You still haven’t told me our course, Magus.” said Space Ghost.
    “Just keep steering ahead.” said Magus. “We will soon reach our destination.”
    The Doctor turned to Magus.
    “Wouldn’t it have been much easier for us to use the TARDIS?” he asked.
    “I think not, Doctor.” said Magus. “Something tells me we will be needing the Phantom Cruiser.”

    Space Ghost looked at his instrument panel.
    “There’s something strange up ahead.” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
    The Doctor got up from his seat and looked at the instrument panel.
    “I haven’t seen one of those for years.” he said. “Is this what you were looking for Phineas?”
    Magus, took, looked at the instrument panel.
    “It is.” said Magus. “It is the time portal I asked my fellow members of the Istari to open. Space Ghost, please fly into it.”
    “But there’s a huge energy reading coming from that thing.” said Space Ghost. “We’ll be torn apart!”
    “Please trust me.” said Magus. “Doctor, can you go to your TARDIS. I believe your instruments will soon tell us what century we’ve come out in.”
    The Doctor rose from his seat and left the cockpit. Space Ghost steered the Phantom Cruiser towards the portal. There was a bright flash of light as the ship entered. After a few seconds the light subsided.  Space Ghost looked out of the window. All he could see was stars.
    “Where are we?” asked Watt.
    “We’re not in the Milky Way.” said Space Ghost.
    Magus got up from his seat and left the cockpit. He soon joined the Doctor in the TARDIS.
    “What have you found?” asked Magus.
    “We are in the twenty-fourth century.” the Doctor replied. “I visited this particular system not too long ago, when you asked me to help you with that Winthorn matter. I was aboard that ship. Now what was it’s name…?”
    “The Valkyrie?”
    “Yes. That’s it. They were travelling through this system, on their way to investigate some energy reading.”
    “Can the sensors on this TARDIS pick up anything?”
    The Doctor made a few adjustments to his instrument panel.
    “I’m getting readings from the adjoining star systems.” he said. “Nearby is the Bajoran system. In that system are three ships and one space station.”
    The Doctor made some more adjustments to his panel.
    “Ah, yes, there it is.” he said. “The energy reading the Valkyrie were monitoring. It appears to be some sort of wormhole.”
    “It must be the wormhole they travelled through to go back to 1999.” said Magus. “They told me of this after they helped us against some Predators.”
    The Doctor made more adjustments to his panel. Suddenly he stopped. A concerned look appeared on his face.
    “What is it Doctor?” asked Magus.
    “There is a large vessel near the wormhole.” said the Doctor. “I have never seen this sort of vessel in this system before. It belongs to the Galactic Empire, a truly evil empire.”
    “I have encountered them before.” said Magus. “But what are they doing here?”
    “How they got here doesn’t matter.” said the Doctor. “If they discover that wormhole they could alter history for their own foul needs!”

    The Star Destroyer continued on it’s way at a very slow pace. The bridge crew were finding it increasingly more difficult to cope with the ship’s systems because of the damage sustained in the previous battle. On the bridge Grand Moff Tarkin was growing very annoyed.
    “Why can’t they repair this properly?” he said.
    Suddenly the lights faded and the screens went blank. Then they were in total darkness. Tarkin managed to get to the communications panel.
    “Engine room, this is the bridge. What the hell is going on down there?”
    “Almost total power failure sir. We were only just able to restore power to the life support and gravitational systems.”
    “How long until you can restore power to the computer and the sensors?”
    “It could take some time. I can’t tell.”
    “You have ten minutes. I need those systems and I need them soon.”
    Then Darth Vader entered the bridge. He approached Tarkin.
    “I have sensed the presence again. Magus is near.”
    “That’s impossible. The Federation ships sustained damage to their engines so he couldn’t possibly be near.”
    “I know that, but I can still sense his presence. It feels different somehow, but I can still tell that he is near.”
    Suddenly the lights came back on. A few seconds later the computer screens came back to life.
    “That’s more like it.” said Tarkin. “Now let’s see if the sensors are still working.”
    Tarkin walked over to one of the sensor stations and seated himself in the chair. He switched on the screen and began operating the computer.
    “Good. They were working. At least something is around here.”
    The image of the wormhole appeared on the screen in front of him. He began to monitor the energy readings from it.
    “I’ve never seen anything like it before.” he said. “Did we managed to download all of the information from Deep Space Nine’s computer into our own?”
    “We did.” said Vader.
    “Good.” said Tarkin. “Scan through the information. Try to find anything they have on this wormhole.”
    Vader walked over to another station and began his search while Tarkin continued to monitor the wormhole. About ten minutes later Vader walked over to Tarkin. He held a piece of paper in his hand.
    “You have the information?” queried Tarkin.
    “The information is vague.” said Vader. “The last ship to study the wormhole was one of those we encountered at DS9, the Valkyrie. They were ordered to fly through the wormhole. There was hardly any more information available. It mentioned something about the Earth year 1999.”
    The expression on Tarkin’s face changed. It was as if he knew what Vader was talking about.
    “The Valkyrie was ordered through the wormhole, you say? And then it makes reference to the year 1999. Interesting. I remember hearing stories from someone about how a mighty space vessel appeared high above the planet Earth in that year. Most of them were dismissed, but there was one that was rather interesting. It spoke of how a vessel travelled through a portal in time to rescue a party of fighters who were about to lose a battle. I think, my friend, we may have found something here. I think that the mighty vessel was none other than the Valkyrie, and it travelled back in time over three hundred years through the wormhole we are now looking at.”
    Tarkin’s expression changed once again, as if an idea began to form in his mind.
    “During this campaign of ours two names continue to crop up, the names of two people who were around in 1999.” said Tarkin. “Ambassador Phineas Magus and Ambassador James Watt. Imagine Vader what the campaign would have been like if neither of those men were around to stop us.”
    “What are you suggesting?”
    “I am suggesting that we use this wormhole to travel back to their twenty-first century and kill Watt and Magus so they won’t bother us in this century.”
    “I urge you to reconsider this idea. I believe it would be most foolish. How would we return here to our own time?”
    “The Valkyrie returned here? And anyway, if we were successful in this time period we would not have to go through the wormhole again, because our campaign on DS9 would be successful, and we would be able to defeat the Federation’s forces, because Watt and Magus will not be there to defeat us, and Watt’s descendant will not be a Starship commander.”
    “I am still very sceptical.” said Vader. “I do not wish to live out the rest of my life in an alien time, in an alien world.”
    “Then you will not have to. After we are successful we will return here to a hero’s welcome!”
    Tarkin got up from his seat with a huge smile on his face. He soon left the bridge. He was convinced that his plan was perfect. Vader, however, was not.

    The Phantom Cruiser travelled through the empty void of space. Inside the ship Space Ghost stood in the engine room trying to make some adjustments to his engines. Magus soon joined him.
    “How long will it take us to get to the wormhole?” asked Magus.
    “At top speed it would take a day and a half.” Space Ghost replied.
    “That may not be long enough.” said Magus. “The long range sensors on the TARDIS say that the Empire’s ship sustained some damage, but they may have it repaired in that amount of time.”
    Magus began to stroke his chin.
    “May I suggest that you consult with the Doctor.” he said. “He may be able to find a way of making your engines go faster.”
    “A good idea.” said Space Ghost.
    Magus left the engine room and walked into the recreation room. The rest of the team were there, except for Watt. Spider-Man “sat” on the ceiling, trying to get some rest. Batman sat at the table playing chess with himself. The Doctor stood watching him. Each time Batman went for a move the Doctor shook his head.
    “Have you played this game before?” asked Batman.
    “I am a Grand Master in five star systems.” said the Doctor. “Of course, their chess is slightly different than yours.”
    Magus approached the Doctor.
    “Can you help Space Ghost in the engine room, Doctor?” he asked. “WE need to find a way of making this ship go faster.”
    “Certainly.”
    The Doctor made his way to the engine room. In one corner of the room Judge Dredd sat cleaning his pistol.
    “Can’t see why you would want to make this crate go faster.” he said. “Eight of us against an entire army won’t do.”
    “It won’t work unless we all work together!” said Leacock.
    “Shut your mouth kid!” snapped Dredd. “Or you’ll have a blaster stuck in your mouth!”
    “Stop it!” snapped Magus. “We’ve got to work as a team on this thing!”
    Dredd got to his feet.
    “Well I ain’t a team player old man!”
    Then Watt entered from the cockpit.
    “Well, I think I’ve got it all figured out.” he said. “Just in case we lose Space Ghost for one reason or another!”
    “We’re all gonna die!” said Dredd. “Especially with a lawbreaker like you along for the ride!”
    “What is that supposed to mean?” asked Watt.
    “It means that from where I come from you’re big trouble!” said Dredd. “You’ve caused a lot of trouble for a lot of people.”
    “What the hell are you talking about?” said Watt. “I’m no criminal. My job is to put criminals away. I’m the leader of Anglo-Force for God’s sake!”
    “Where I come from Anglo-Force is an outdated name.” said Dredd. “Their ideals are outdated, and so are you. I want no further part of this mission. Magus, I want you to send me back to my own time, now!”
    “I’m afraid I can’t do that.” said Magus. “You are here for a purpose.
    “My purpose is getting ride of scum like you!” snarled Dredd.
    Dredd reached into his holster and pulled out his blaster. He aimed at Watt and fired. The laser blast struck Watt, but it had no effect. Spider-Man leapt down from the ceiling to try and stop Dredd, but Dredd knocked him flying. Batman tried the same, but he was met with a boot to the face. Then Watt flew towards Dredd, shoulder charged him, and knocked him off his feet. His blaster was still in his hand. Dredd once again aimed at Watt and tried to fire. A blow to the jaw from Watt rendered Dredd unconscious. From the floor Watt looked up at Magus.
    “And you say a chicken picked him?” he said. “If I were you I’d get a new chicken!”

    The engineers on the Star Destroyer were working overtime in an attempt to get their engines working again. Tarkin paced up and down the bridge while awaiting word from the engine room. Then the buzzer went on the communications panel. Tarkin walked over to it.
    “This is the engine room. We’ve managed to restore full power to the hyper-drive, but only just.”
    “What do you mean?” asked Tarkin.
    “We’ve had to divert some of the power from the shields to the engines, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to travel at full speed.”
    “Very well then.” said Tarkin.
    Then Vader approached Tarkin.
    “I have been carrying out some calculations of my own with regards to the wormhole.” said Vader.
    “Go on.” said Tarkin.
    “To travel through the wormhole and to minimise damage to the ship we must have full power to the engines and the shields.”
    “And if we don’t have power to those systems?”
    “There are two possibilities. We will either destroy ourselves within the confines of the wormhole or we will end up in another dimension with no way of returning to our own system.”
    “That’s a chance I’m willing to take.” said Tarkin. “It is a risk worth taking if we are to rid ourselves of Watt and Magus.”

    Magus entered the engine room of the Phantom Cruiser. He found Space Ghost standing at a computer panel. The Doctor was examining the engines.
    “Have you managed to find a way of making us go faster?” asked Magus.
    “Alas, no.” said the Doctor. “We could transfer power from the TARDIS to the engines but we will need the TARDIS to transport over to the Empire’s ship.”
    “I could find no way either.” said Space Ghost. “It’s going to be some time before we intercept their ship.”
    Magus walked over to the engines and looked at them.
    “There is one last possibility.” he said. “I could connect myself to the engines and try to convert mystical energy into an energy the engines can use.”
    “Is that wise, or safe, for that matter?” asked Space Ghost.
    “It would leave me in a weak state for a few hours.” said Magus. “But it wouldn’t really harm me. In any case, James could lead the assault on the ship.
    “Then as far as I can see we have no other choice.” said the Doctor.
    “You had better return to the cockpit.” said Magus. “You may have slight trouble controlling the ship when I attach myself to the engines.”
    Space Ghost left the engine room. The Doctor went to follow him, but before he left he turned to face Magus.
    “Have you made a decision regarding our rather violent friend yet?” he asked.
    “You mean Dredd?” said Magus. “Not as yet. I’m beginning to think I should have used a different process in selecting this team.”
    “As much as I dislike the gentleman he does have his uses.” said the Doctor. “Even though he has a volatile nature I do believe he will be of use to us. His skills are quite…..unique.”
    “I think you may be right.” said Magus. “When we get near the Star Destroyer I will revive him.”
    The Doctor left the engine room. Then Magus put his arm through the outer casing of the engines. A glow appeared around his arm. Suddenly the Phantom Cruiser shot off at a very high speed. In the cockpit Space Ghost was amazed.
    “We are far exceeding the speed of light.” he said. “I only hope the Phantom Cruiser won’t break up!”