The Wonder Worlock: Day of the Docrons, Part 2 (of 3)
created 06/06/2013 - 4:29pm, updated 06/08/2013 - 5:38pm
(Cover by Kaci)
From the log book of Captain Gar, Good Fellow, Royal Neptunian Navy:
The Docrons are like no other creature I have encountered in the heavens and they are legion. The Docrons are older than the Neptunians and perhaps even the Binary. They are reptilian in appearance, and all male. From surface psi-scans, the Wonder Worlock has learned there is a natural hatred between the species’ two genders, and they fought each other in long gender wars. Eventually, the males won, placing the females in captivity.
According to space legend, in time ‘twas the males who developed technology and abandoned their home planet Araitol, returning only when their mating drive makes it necessary. The males became conquerors of worlds, worse than space pirates, while the females are rumored to have became pacifists, content to remain in peace on their homeworld and ignorant of the males' star-spanning empire.
And worse! These beasties are able to shunt their whole beings a second forward or behind in time, not to travel through it but to keep from being touched – physically, and apparently by magic either …
PART THE SECOND
High Lord Mor's Star Destroyer, by far larger and more awesome than the five star destroyers that surround it, sits in the vastness of outlying Goff space. The six huge ships are surrounded by a convoy of smaller spacecraft. Docron fighters dart to and fro.
On the bridge of the Star Destroyer, controllers working the vast complex of electronic controls hear ominous approaching footsteps and look up from their controls. The squat Admiral R’Nolds and the young, powerfully-built General Rozdon, who have been conferring near the front, also feel the approaching presence and turn toward it. Mor, Lord of the Docrons, enters like a chill wind. As Mor moves across the wide bridge, Captain Piett hurries up to R’Nolds.
“Admiral?” Piett questions.
“I think we've got something, sir. The report is only a fragment from a probe droid in the outskirts of the Goff system, but it's the best lead we've had.”
“We have thousands of probe droids searching the galaxy!” R’Nolds says, irritated. “I want proof, not leads!”
“The visuals indicate life readings,” Piett says.
“It could mean anything. If we followed every lead ...”
Mor moves to a large screen showing an image of the Goff snow base. Speeders can be seen approaching the base in the distance.
“You found something?” Mor says.
“Yes, my lord,” Piett answers humbly.
Studying the image on the console screen, Mor of a sudden say, “That's it. The Goff are there, trying to await us, lure us out …”
“My lord, there are so many uncharted settlements,” claims R’Nolds. “It could be smugglers, it could be ...”
“That is the system,” Mor says. “And I'm sure the Wonder Worlock from that backwoods water world is with them. I feel him. Set your course for those out-system planetoids. General Rozdon, prepare your men.”
At the covert base designed as an early warning system for Goff’lar and Goff Prime, Captain Rand issues instructions to two of his men at the entrance to the main transport bay. Several transports behind them are being loaded by men carrying heavy boxes and moving quickly, but not in panic.
“Groups seven and ten will stay behind to fly the speeders. As soon as each transport is loaded, evacuation control will give clearance for immediate launch,” Rand says.
Just then at the main hangar deck, alarms sound. Troops, ground crews and droids rush to their alert stations. Armored snowspeeders are lined up in attack formation near the main entrance.
In the midst of all this activity, Tral does some frantic welding on the lifters of the Century Raven. Finishing his work, the ensign hops down to the hangar floor. He pulls out his comlink, all the while eyeing problematic lifters.
“Okay, that's it,” Rand says, nervously checking the clip on his necktie. “Try it ... Off! Turn it off! Turn it off! Off!”
Smoke rises from a minor explosion on the lifter. Exasperated, Rand surveys the new damage.
At the base’s medical center, or what there is of it, a drowsy but fit Wonder Worlock dresses in readiness for possible evacuation as his attending medical droid stands by.
“Sir, it will take quite a while to evacuate the T-forty-sevens,” the medi-droid says.
“Well, forget the heavy equipment,” the mage groans. “There's plenty of time to get the smaller modules on the transports.”
“Take care, sir.”
Now, the galactic guardian thinks, where is Rand and Queen Enid? Docrons, Zavar said …?
On the main hangar deck, pilots, gunners and service droids units scurry about. The Wonder Worlock, pulling on his ebon cloak, is headed toward a row of armored speeders. He stops at the rear of the Raven, where Rand and Faz are trying to repair the right lifter with even more haste than before.
“Faz, take care of yourself, okay?”
As the Dark Mage pats the brother of his former lover on the arm, Tral puts his arms around the mage and gives him a tight hug. Who said the N’Moy were emotionless? Not he. Rand is discussing the lifter with a repair droid when he sees his mentor.
“Hi, sir,” Rand says. Then, to the droid, “There's got to be a reason for it. Check it at the other end. Wait a second,” facing the mage, “you all right?”
“Yeah, thanks to my best friend.” And from the dark cowl, a smile.
“Be careful, sir.”
“You, too, kid.”
The Dark Mage smiles, then waves at his friend and walks on. After a few steps, he stops and looks back. Rand glances up and the two exchange a silent communication, each wishing the other safety, happiness -- many things, all difficult to verbalize.
Alarms sound throughout the hidden base. In the control room, a controller urgently gestures for General Alcor to check a computer scan.
“General, there's a fleet of Star Destroyers coming out of hyperspace in sector four. They are Docron.”
“Reroute all power to the energy shield,” the general commands. “We've got to hold them until all transports are away. Prepare for ground assault.”
Alcor exits hurriedly.
In the dark meditation cubicle of Mor, there is illumination from a single shaft of light which falls on the brooding Dark Lord as he sits on a raised meditation cube.
General Rozdon enters the room and approaches the silent, unmoving Mor. Although seemingly very sure of himself, Rozdon is still not bold enough to interrupt the meditating lord. The younger general stands quietly at attention until the evil presence speaks.
“What is it, General?” Mor finally says.
“My lord, the fleet has moved out of light-speed. Com-Scan has detected an energy field protecting an area on the sixth planet of this system,” the general reports. “The field is strong enough to deflect any bombardment. And more, my lord, the largest planet of this quadrant light years beyond this ice world – the planet called Goff’lar -- is impenetrable. Impenetrable! It somehow vibrates on differing planes in random sequences, mimicking our time halter tech … and yet not.”
“D’ast it all! It was that idiot Kurry who let the wizard and his allies capture my beloved ship P’reel with all its secrets,” Mor exclaims. “And now those secrets are here, half a galaxy away from the waters of Oceanus. D’ast!! And now the enemy is alerted to our presence. Captain R’Nolds came out of light-speed too close to the system.”
“He felt surprise was wiser ...” Rozdon says.
“He is as clumsy as he is stupid,” Mor declares. “General, prepare your troops for a surface attack.”
“Yes, my lord!”
Rozdon turns smartly and leaves as Mor activates a large view screen showing the bridge of his mighty ship. Admiral R’Nolds appears on the view screen, standing slightly in front of Captain Piett.
“Lord Mor,” R’Nolds says, startled, “the fleet has moved out of light-speed, and we're preparing to ... Aaarrgh!! …”
“You have failed me for the last time, Admiral. Captain Piett? …”
Piett steps forward, as the admiral moves away, slightly confused, touching his throat as it begins to constrict painfully.
“Yes, my lord,” Piett says.
“Make ready to land our troops beyond the energy shield and deploy the fleet so that nothing gets off that system. You are in command now, Admiral Piett.”
“Er uh ... Thank you, Lord Mor!”
Piett's pleasure about his unexpected promotion is not an unmixed emotion. He glances warily at the struggling R’Nolds who, with a final choke, stumbles and falls in a lifeless heap before him.
On Elgaquine, a thin horizon line cuts across the bleak landscape. Small dot-size objects begin to appear on the horizon, moving in the direction of the Goff base.
An officer lifts a pair of electrobinoculars to his eyes. Through the lens he sees a very close view of a giant Docron snow strider. He adjusts the view which then zooms back to reveal three more of the ominous battle machines. Small flashes of yellow fire billow from the guns of the lumbering snow striders.
The officer lowers his binoculars as the regular rhythmic pounding begins to make the ground vibrate. The pounding grows louder and is accompanied by a high-pitched, metallic rattling.
Pilots and gunners race to their waiting snowspeeders as Queen Enid orders forces from the Empire-at-Large and all surrounding militia to remain on standby, despite her Royal Presence on Elgaquine. Ice and snow begin falling from the walls of the corridor, shaken by the pounding Docron snow striders as they draw ever nearer.
“We have spotted striders!” a trench officer comlinks.
“Striders on the north ridge,” a Goff controller confirms.
Enid’s troops aim their weapons at the horizon as explosions erupt all around them. They are nervous and their grip on their weapons tightens from the cold and from fear.
Behind the troops, a dozen snowspeeders race through the sky.
But then comes to the Queen and her dedicated men and women a single telepathic message.
I am preparing to enter the fray! It is the psi-voice of a healed Wonder Worlock!
A loud and multiplied cheer comes up from the fleet of snowspeeders that are even now racing above the ice field at full throttle. They accelerate away from the base and head toward the distant striders. The cannons mounted on the strider head fire at the speeders. Other striders loom in the background. Two speeders race away past two of the enormous striders and bank to the right.
All right, the fleet hears in its collective head, I am coming in!
He warps light around himself so he is invisible, and then the Dark Mage turns and dives directly at one of the striders, flying toward its towering legs. The horizon twists as the necromancer banks between those legs, two speeders holding back on taught thick ropes.
One strider and its crew are out of the battle. A Conjurer’s Cone later and the crew is out of the war!
The soaring mage hovers to the side of Rozdon’s strider and heads straight for its viewport, throwing Blue Blades of Bedevilment to great effect ... or so he thought. Mini-explosions from the Blades hit the strider window but dissipate, doing no harm. The sorcerer soars up and over the impregnable war machine like a yo-yo, even attempting an ancient Rock Troll trick.
The Dark Mage looks back at the strider as it grows smaller in the distance. That armor's too strong for magicks or it is stained with ‘time tech,’ he thinks. Just then, on the horizon, another strider moves up past the hovering shaman, twisting out of sight as the wizard starts another run.
The fierce battle on the vast snow plains of Elgaquine rages on. The Docron striders continue their slow, steady assault on the covert base, firing lasers as they lumber ever onward. In the snow trench, Goff troops fire large bazookalike guns and dishlike ray guns as explosions erupt around them. A gun tower is hit by a laser bolt and instantly explodes. Another blast destroys a ray gun.
And then, above all the snowspeeders comes the sound of the rickety but ever-faithful Century Raven, its pulse guns and photon torpedoes smashing Rozdon’s troopers to smithereens!
“Looks like we’re not doing too bad without the Hope, eh?” says young Rand in the captain’s chair.
“It seems quite logical, sir,” Faz echoes solemnly.
And from the protected surface of Goff’lar, the silver world, visible only through a strong telescope, appears like nothing so much as a wheel of fireworks this warm Treteran night.
TO BE CONTINUED …