Monday, 31 December 1990

The Valkyrie Chronicles - Return to the 24th Century Chapter 3

Darkness began to enshroud the encampment of Jabba the Hut. At night time, his fortress seemed like a foreboding place. Lights lined the roof of his fortress and no guards were visible.
    In the still of the night, a shadow stretched across one of the areas covered by one of the lights. Slowly, it got bigger and bigger. Anyone could tell it was the shadow of a small animal, but not one native to Tattooine, it was one native to Earth - a slightly tubby, black tom-cat. The cat of Dr. Magus, Jimmy.
    Quickly the cat darted across the area covered by the lights, until he came to a brick wall, where the cement-like substance was crumbling away. He took a couple of steps back, and then he launched himself at the wall. He managed to latch his front claws onto some of the cracks, and then, he slowly began to climb up the high wall. It took him time, but he made it to the top with ease.
    With the same ease he used to climb the wall, he now walked along it, until he came to a small opening, and he crawled through it. He was now inside the fortress.
    It was dark and cold inside. The silence was almost deafening. Yet, just a few hours earlier, Jabba had been holding one of his celebrations, celebrating the capture of the two Federation and one Klingon officer.
    The cat skirted silently through the hallways of the fortress, as if he was walking on air. He searched for the prison cells, and he soon found them. He scaled the wooden door, and peered through the small barred window. The cell was small, and it looked cold and damp. Small creatures, similar to rats, ran across the cell floor. At the far wall he could see a large water tank, filled to the top. Tamar Amarus was held in this tank, and oxygen mask allowing him to breath. Jabba knew that water could negate his heat powers.
    Jimmy jumped back down to the floor, and ran along the floor until he came to another door. He climbed this door, and again peered through the barred window. It was almost identical to the last cell, except that the two prisoners in this cell, Sutek and Salg, were chained to the wall by their wrists and ankles. Both were heavily drugged.
    The cat had seen what he had been looking for. He quickly went back the way he had came, and he was soon outside the fortress, in the desert wasteland of Tattooine.
    He stood, scanning the horizon, and then he looked back at the fortress. It seemed that he had been undetected. He then continued his journey. He knew that he did not have much time left.
    About a mile away, a small group of people sat around a small fire. They numbered five in all.
    “Are you sure it was wise, Magus?” asked Watt. “Sending one of your cats in Jabba’s stronghold?”
    “Jimmy can take care of himself.” said Magus. “Although he may be carrying a few extra pounds, he is still almost twice as fast as any normal feline, and his night vision is beyond comparison!”
    Then, Ensign Greenleaf sprang to his feet.
    “What is it?” asked Pendragon.
    “I can hear something.” Greenleaf replied. “About half a mile away.”
    “There!” pointed Tompkins. “That shadow!”
    Magus stood up, and looked out into the distance.
    “Jimmy returns!” said Magus. “Like I said, Captain, he was perfect for the job!”
    A couple of minutes later, Jimmy was near the small party. He stopped in front of Magus. He was visibly tired.
    “You look worn out, my small friend!” said Magus, picking his cat up and stroking his head.
    “Are they okay?” Watt asked.
    Jimmy nuzzled Magus’ ear, as if he was whispering into it.
    “They are being held in the east wing of the fortress.” said Magus. “Lt. Amarus is being held in a large water tank, which is stopping him from using his powers. Lt. Sutek and Commander Salg are heavily drugged. You’ve done well, Jimmy, you deserve a rest. Captain?”
    “Watt to Valkyrie. Beam Magus’ cat directly to his quarters.”
    Magus placed Jimmy on the ground, and a few seconds later, he was back on the Valkyrie.
    “Commander Winthorn.” said Watt. “Have you managed to get a lock on the prisoners yet?”
    “No sir.” Winthorn replied from the bridge. “The fortress walls are lined with Byzantium. Our scans are just bouncing off!”
    “You’ve done your best, Commander.” said Watt. “Has Mr. Lom repaired the fighter yet?”
    “He’s still working on it.” said Winthorn. “He says it will be another four hours.”
    “He has two.” said Watt. “That meeting’s in five hours, and we’ll need that fighter. Watt out.”
    Watt turned to Magus.
    “It looks like we’ll have to get them out the old fashioned way!” he said. “I only hope swords, bows and arrows work on this!”
    “I still think you should beam back to the ship, sir.” said Pendragon. “This is going to be very dangerous.”
    “There’s no need for you to worry, number one.” said Watt. Just remember, I have the strength of twenty men!”
    “A legacy from the Black Squadron, four hundred years ago, no doubt!” said Magus.
    “How do we get in?” asked Tompkins.
    “I cannot guarantee that teleportation will work.” mused Magus. “May I suggest a more direct approach?”
    Moments later five bounty hunters approached bearing a huge chest. They were ushered into Jabba’s throne room.
    “What do you bring?” he boomed.
    Magus bowed low and removed his dingy outer cloak. He bore no resemblance to the old man Jabba had thrown to the rancor. He stood, his mithril topped cane in his hand, clad once more in the ceremonial robes worn by one of the five lords of the Istari. Of course, Jabba did not know this.
    “Hail, O Jabba, Lord of Tattooine. I bring you a gift from the planet Sol III, many light years away.”
    “I do not know of this Sol III, ancient one. What is your gift?”
    His four companions placed the crate on the ground. It fell away to reveal a magnificent Siberian tiger.
    “A tiger, Lord Jabba. A magnificent beast.” replied Magus.
    Jabba was impressed.
    “Bib Fortuna!” he cried. “Show these five to the best quarters we have.”
    Soon, Magus and his companions were left alone.
    “Where did you get a tiger?” asked Pendragon.
    “I didn’t!” smiled Magus. “He’s got Tabby in that cage!”
    Then he reached into his pocket. He placed a small yellow speck on the floor. It began to grow until Toby, the Labrador, stood before him.
    “The strength of an elephant and a nose like a mine detector! Toby, my boy, how do you feel like tracking?”
    Toby turned his big brown eyes on his master.
    “Now?” he asked, grinning. “And who?”
    “Find Sutek. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a Vulcan!”
    Toby raised his head and sniffed the air. The he walked straight through the outer wall, around the outside of the compound and into the cell containing Salg and Sutek. The two of them could still barely move. Quickly, Toby ran back to Magus’ quarters.
    “I found them!” he shouted, his tail wagging madly.
    “Good boy!” smiled Magus. “Take us to them!”
    A few seconds later, Magus and Watt stood in the cell. Using his tremendous strength, he broke the chains that held Salg and Sutek. Watt then activated his communicator.
    “Watt to Valkyrie. Two to beam directly to sickbay!”
    A few seconds later, Salg and Sutek were on board the ship. As Watt and Magus went to leave the hell, the door came crashing down. When the dust cleared, they could see Bib Fortuna, and behind him the dreaded and mysterious bounty, Boba Fett. Bib Fortuna pointed his laser pistol at Watt and Magus.
    “If you value your lives.” he said. “Then you will hold your positions.”
    Magus raised his hand, slightly.
    “I hope this position pleases you.” he said.
    A few seconds later, Watt and Magus vanished.
    “What trickery is this?” gasped Fortuna.
    Seconds later, Watt and Magus appeared in the adjoining cell, where Amarus was being held.
    “We haven’t much time.” said Magus.
    Watt smashed the thick glass of the huge water tank. The water came gushing out. Magus looked annoyed as the water covered his shoes.
    “This pair of shoes has lasted me two hundred and twelve years!” he said.
    “So I’ll buy you a new pair!” said Watt.
    Watt dragged Amarus from the tank, then again activated his communicator.
    “Watt to Pendragon. Get everyone outside the fortress. They can’t beam us all up while we are in here!”
    With Amarus draped over his shoulder, Watt, followed by Magus and Toby, quickly left the cell as Fortuna and Fett were about to blast the door. They soon met up with Pendragon and the rest of the away team.
    “They’re just behind us!” said Tompkins.
    Just as Tompkins spoke, Jabba’s guards, as well as Fortuna and Fett, were now visible in the distance.
    “Watt to Valkyrie! Beam us up now!”
    A few seconds passed. Jabba’s guards had stopped, and they now aimed their laser pistols at the away team. They fired just as the transporter beam was energized. The laser blasts just bounced off the transporter beam, and hit Jabba’s sky yacht. There was a huge explosion.
    “The Imperial vessel is near Tattooine.” said Fortuna. “We must signal them that their meeting is in danger!”