Monday, 31 December 1990

The Valkyrie Chronicles - Return to the 24th Century Chapter 2

Several hours had passed. The Valkyrie had remained in orbit around Tattooine, staying just far enough out of range of the Imperial Star Destroyer.
    Sutek and Teddy had spent much time studying the information gathered from R4’s memory banks. When they were ready a staff briefing was called.
    Commander Pendragon was one of the last ones to enter the conference room. When he did, he found that his seat had already been taken.
    “What’s this animal doing in my seat?” he said, after finding Teddy sitting in the chair normally reserved for himself.
    “If I am to give a proper report.” said Teddy. “I can hardly do so while sitting on the floor, can I?”
    “Come and sit next to me, Teddy!” said Magus.
    Teddy hopped out of the chair, and Pendragon took his place.
    “Your report please, gentlemen.” said Watt.
    “The droid’s memory banks contained many useless pieces of data.” said Sutek. “Our language banks have now quadrupled in size.”
    “But there was one valuable piece of information.” said Teddy. “The Emperor is seeking allies from other star systems. Attempts have been made to contact the Romulans and the Ferengi, but without any success. They had, however, made contact with those us in the twentieth century had heard of very recently, the Monstrons!”
    “The Monstrons?” said Pendragon. “But they haven’t bothered the Federation in years!”
    “For fifteen years, seven months and fourteen days to be precise, Commander.” said Sutek. “Not since the incident on Gamma-Delta Four.”
    “Ah yes.” said Watt. “The strange plague that shook the colony. I was first officer on the Ark Royal. Only our science officer, Lt. Van Helsing, offered any explanation.”
    “A Monstron war vessel is due in this sector any time now.” said Sutek. “A special meeting between Darth Vader and Monstron General Chaney is due to take place on Tattooine in thirty-six hours.”
    “There was one other thing.” said Teddy. “R4 discovered plans for a giant space station, on which construction is about to begin. When completed, it will be known as the ‘Death Star’.”
    “We must not allow this meeting to take place.” said Winthorn. “The Imperial forces have almost total control over this star system. If they were to form an alliance with the Monstrons, they would give them star charts to every system we have explored!”
    “I agree.” said Pendragon. “An Imperial/Monstron alliance could spell disaster for the Federation. This meeting must be stopped!”
    “That is the second thing we must worry about.” said Watt. “We’ve got an Imperial ship coming one way, and a Monstron vessel the other. If we stay here, we’ll be a sitting duck!”
    “I may be able to help you.” said Magus. “I’ve studied your library, and learnt of the Klingon and Romulan cloaking device.”
    “Zzuch a thing would not work on the Valkyrie even if we had one.” said Lom.
    “I know a spell that can turn the entire city of London invisible.” said Magus. “Although it only lasts a few hours, it may give us the time we need.”
    “Would you be able to obtain more power from the ship’s engines?” asked Teddy.
    “It is possible, old friend.” said Magus. “How long until those ships get here?”
    “Thirty hours.” said Sutek.
    “With your permission, Captain.” said Magus. “I would like to consult with Mr. Lom. I may be able to cloak your ship for you, while you try to stop this meeting.”
    Watt thought for a moment.
    “Do it.” he said. “Mr. Sutek, we need the name of the Rebel Alliance commander on Tattooine.”
    “R4 did not carry that name.” said Sutek. “But we do know that he can be found in the Mos Eisley spaceport.”
    “Get all the information you can on him.” said Watt. “Mr. Amarus, try and keep a track on those two vessels. I want to know when they enter the system. Magus, Lom, you know what to do.”
    Lom led Magus into the engineering section.
    “What izz it you will need?” he asked.
    “All I will need is to access one of your power couplings.” said Magus.
    “How will you cloak uzz?”
    “It’s quite simple. I will convert the energy from your power coupling into mystical energy.”
    At that moment, Sutek entered.
    “Logic dictates that your plan will fail.” he said.
    “Magic is not logical, Sutek.” smiled Magus.
    He entered the protection lock of one of the coupling chambers. Soon, he stood before the coupling itself. With a snap of his fingers he produced a chair and seated himself. Then, he removing the coupling from it’s housing and held it in his right hand. He closed his eyes for a few minutes. Then he returned the coupling to it’s housing and left the chamber.
    “I assume that is it.” said Sutek.
    Magus nodded.
    “I have not activated the spell as yet. I have enabled Captain Watt to do that as and when he needs to, by merely saying the word ‘cloak’! It will work on his voice alone. To deactivate he must reverse the cloak by saying ‘koalc’.”
    “Extremely illogical.” mused Sutek.
    They returned to the bridge where Magus briefed Watt on the cloaking spell. They began to make plans to visit Mos Eisley incognito.
    “The party will consist of myself, Sutek, Amarus and Magus, if he wishes to accompany us. Mr. Sutek, what news of the Rebel leader on Mos Eisley?”
    “I have arranged a meeting with the Rebel representative. Of course, we will be unable to tell if he really is what he says he is unless Counsellor Trospheo accompanies us.”
    “There is no need.” said Magus. “Mind reading is a relatively minor accomplishment for one of the Istari. I will go.”

    Mos Eisley came within transporter range. The four made their way into the main bar. It was filled with the dregs of the galaxy, bounty hunters, space pirates.
    “I’m glad we took the precaution of disguising ourselves. I doubt if Federation officers would be welcome here.” said Watt.
    “I see Klingons and Ferengi are, though.” mused Amarus.
    Along one wall sat six Klingon warriors. Opposite sat a party of sixteen Ferengi.
    They made their way to the bar, ordered drinks, and sat down. A few moments later a troop of Imperial Storm Troopers entered, and spoke to the barman. He directed them to the table occupied by Watt and his colleagues.
    “Papers now.” snapped their leader.
    All four handed over papers, which seemed to be in order. As the troopers left one of the Klingons walked over.
    “I am Salg of the Klingon Empire.” he whispered. “It is unusual to see Federation officers on Tattooine.”
    “How do you know we are Federation?” hissed Amarus.
    “Not here. Come with me.”
    They left the bar. Salg led them out of the city to some caverns.
    “I am here acting as advisor to the Rebel Alliance, although the Imperial forces think I am here as a military ambassador for the Klingon Empire. We have long felt that this Galactic Empire may one day become a threat to us, even before our alliance with the Federation. I have been helping the Rebels. I am their commander!”
    Watt looked at Magus.
    “He speaks the truth.” said Magus.
    “Then you should know this, Salg.” said Watt. “In twenty hours Darth Vader is meeting General Chaney of the Monstron Syndicate on this planet. A Monstron/Imperial alliance could be very dangerous for both the Klingons and the Federation.”
    “Then we must act.” boomed Salg. “Where is your ship?”
    “Cloaked.” Watt replied.
    “Impossible!” snorted Salg.
    “Not when you have a wizard in your crew.” laughed Watt.
   
    Aboard the Valkyrie…
    “Monstron vessel entering the sector.” said Greenleaf.
    “Call the Captain.” said Pendragon. “I think he ought to be here for this!”
    Watt was alerted and beamed back to the bridge.
    “Be on alert, ready to beam Magus and the others back on my mark.” he snapped.

    Below on the planet, night was falling. Magus gazed out over the desert, down at the glittering lights of Mos Eisley below. Salg joined him.
    “It’s not unlike nightfall in the Gobi desert, back on Earth!” mused Magus. “I was there with Genghis Khan you know.”
    “A brave warrior.” nodded Salg.
    Then, he paused.
    “Genghis Khan lived over twenty centuries ago!” he said.
    Magus smiled. Suddenly, Salg gazed over the plain below.
    “I hear banthas!”
    Tamar Amarus joined them.
    “Banthas are the mounts of the Sand People.” he told Magus. “Not the sort of people you would want to get mixed up with!”
    “A party of twenty.” remarked Sutek. “Perhaps they are heading for Mos Eisley.”
    “They steer clear of the city. They are heading our way.” barked Salg. “We had better get out of here!”
    He moved towards the land speeder, but before he could get there two of the Sand People had cut off his escape. Salg drew his sword and attacked.
    “I suggest we do not resist.” said Sutek. “We do not wish to draw attention to ourselves.”
    “You want to become a sarlac’s lunch?” cried Amarus.
    As the battle continued a huge land yacht appeared. Laser blasts dispersed the Sand People.
    “We are saved!” cried Salg.
    Then he snorted with disgust.
    “That is the land yacht of Jabba the Hut!”
    The four were hustled aboard.
    Soon they stood before Jabba. A huge, slug-like being, he gazed down at them.
    “Throw them in the dungeons. I wonder what Lord Vader will say when I present him with two Federation officers and a Klingon!”
    “What of the old man?” asked one guard.
    “He is of no use to us. Throw him to the rancor!”
    Magus was dragged away, and hurled into a pit. As he struggled to his feet he heard a deep, throaty growl. The rancor began to move towards him, it’s talons clutching. Magus moved to the wall of the cave, and touched it with his cane. Swiftly, he formed a skeleton, and then, as the rancor lunged for him, he teleported away.
    He reappeared in the desert outside Mos Eisley. Having no communicator he could not contact the Valkyrie. Then he remembered.
    “Of course! Counsellor Trospheo!”
    Magus drew a mystic circle in the sand and seated himself in it. A group of Sand People drew near. One made a grab at Magus but found his hand burning with an arcane blue flame. Magus ignored him.
    Aboard the ship…
    “Captain!” cried Trospheo. “I’m receiving a faint message from Magus. HE wants us to beam him up!”
    “Do we have the coordinates?” asked Watt.
    Pendragon checked the computer and nodded.
    “Then make it so. Beam him directly to the bridge!”
    A glow appeared, and then in it’s place stood Magus.
    “Grave news, Captain. Sutek, Amarus and Salg have been captured, by a creature known as Jabba the Hut.”
    “And we have eleven hours to rescue them and stop the meeting.” added Winthorn.