Story #11
wordcount approximately 11230 all together
copyright date 2001 C.E.

This was an interesting piece that I was writing with the intention of having it turned into an anime' project for a television series. I only got so far and hope to one day actually turn it into a book. This is the later chapters of a much larger story that pretty much spans the entire history of humanity. It's based on the Earth Chronicles, a series of books written by Zecharia Sitchin. Enjoy.

NEBULOUS: ORIGINAL ANIMATED SCRIPT or the thoughts thereon

Terras Inner Rim Space...
Planetary orbital path...
Approximately two million miles out from Orbiter: Kingu

The Capitol Continuum Battle Carrier of the Juggernaut class "Ponce De Leon" slowly drifts through the open space just outside of Terras, the third world from the center sun, frequently referred to as "Apsu", of the Terran solar system.

The Juggernaut's purpose here is secret and not even those left of Terras are aware of its arrival. Nor is the Juggernaut vessel aware of the small ship approaching its rear. It doesn't pay heed to the smaller vessel's drilling into its thin rear quarters.

With the hull breached, the small band of renegade pirates enters into the huge carrier. Their purpose, plunder. For within these people, is the highest contempt for the Capitol Continuum.

"Karson, the perimeter is clear. Approximately seventy kilometers to cargo hold. Guard patrol at thirty. Stick to the southwestern corridor." Comes a voice over Karson Montonie's headset.

"Copy, Kookie." Karson responds hushly and motions for the three others with him to take point and guard.

Four members of the pirate ship "Long Shank's Revenge" navigate the corridor in a southwestern direction from their start point. In their calculations, the Long Shank's nose is always considered the North point and all routes are planned through that consideration.

Three men and one woman pass from shadow to shadow undetected. In the lead, the five foot nine Captain Karson. To his flanks, Maavyn Coorus, Karson's first mate and confidant, whom rises taller at six-foot-three and to Karson's left, the Cherokee Ihauve, 'Wave', at six-foot-one. To their rear, their guard Nellene Qroatch, a five-foot-five-inch mixed breed whom has more fighting skill than the other three combined.

After a short bit and secret passes near guard posts, the group enters a large room filled with starships. It is in truth a large hangar bay. At the center, Karson marvels at a golden ship. All the vessels within seem prepped for a war. And it is a bother that nags at Karson's mind.

"Stay on your toes. We haven't seen a soul outside of those guards. That worries me."

"Relax. Probably lunch time." Answers Maavyn swiftly keeping his firearm close in hand.

Karson draws forth his saber and looks very much the part of a swashbuckler. All seem as to be out of the past but forged by the future. They push forward further into the bay and then past it. Gunnery turrets line the walls but remain motionless.

"Five hundred feet...next room it seems." Comes the voice of QuKi from the Long Shank's.

Karson acknowledges and he and the crew enter the hall separating the next room from the hangar. A lock is on the door at the end. And a card seems to be necessary.

"Kookie, small dilemma...card swiper here." Speaks Karson into the headset.

In the Long Shank's, the alien ponders for a moment with another crewmate close at hand watching him. Marcus Truelight keeps his eyes on the monitor while paying attention to QuKi.

"Take out the Telxon card I gave you and prepare for a patch." He finally says. An affirmative is his response.

Back within the small hall, Wave, Nellene, and Maavyn keep their eyes to the hangar beyond. Maavyn draws up beside Karson to watch the little card plugged into the slot on the wall glow. With a hiss, the door slides open.

"We're in." Says Karson with a dubious expression.

They enter the room and take in the sights.

"So...where's the plunder?" Asks Maavyn wryly.

Along the walls and ceilings, are lined up robots of war...though they look more human than not. Those robots are affixed by means of holsters. And they are obviously inanimate for the time being. Looking around, they see nothing of real significant value.

"Let me guess, we leave empty handed?" Nellene quips.

"I thought...but my source said that in this hold was a prize the most valuable to the Continuum." Karson says perplexed.

"Looks like we've been duped." Nellene replies.

In the Long Shank's, Marcus and QuKi exchange baffled expressions. Something was wrong with this exercise. Suddenly, a clank emanates from the far corner of the vast robot room.

The members inside gather their weapons and slowly approach the source. Nellene stays watch at the door entrance.

"Hurry up, guys. These robots give me the creeps. What were they being used for anyway?"

No one answers Nellene as the three others close in on the source of the sound. At least, they hope they close in and aren't closed out.

Beyond the Long Shank's Revenge, three battleships come into view. Without a hail, they open fire catching QuKi and Marcus off guard.

"We're under attack!" QuKi yells over the com.

Karson snaps to attention. Just then, a robot thing rushes past them all inside the room and makes a break for the door. Nellene roundkicks it back down. And it grovels with its hands above its head. It makes sounds but no speech.

"Hold it! Who are you?" Karson demands coming up behind the thing. It looks up at him.

Karson can't believe how lifelike the being looks. Yet, he knows it's a robot.

"Let's go. Kookie, have the ship..."

Karson gets cut off by a huge explosion and an answer coming over the headset.

"We're inside! The Long Shank's been destroyed! Can't come this way! No atmosphere!" QuKi answers from behind his breathing apparatus struggling against the new pressure of atmospheric release.

Marcus signals for them to take the left passageway about a hundred feet out from the explosion. They rush by doors locking shut. A shutter cuts off the path they just escaped from.

"Let's get to the others fast!" QuKi yells at Marcus as they hurry along several side corridors.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew has decided to make for the hangar bay. Karson calls into the headset and commands Marcus and QuKi to make for the bay the fastest they can.

"We're gonna have to blast out of here with one of these ships! Once Marcus gets here, he can boot one up." Karson says to the other three as they enter the room. Immediately, laser fire ladens their exit. They duck back into the small hall.

"Great!" Maavyn shouts.

Maavyn and Wave open fire. Two of the attackers are blasted down but thirteen more have perched inside the hangar interior.

"Now what?" Asks Nellene as she draws a small firearm and starts blasting away at the gunmen.

Karson draws back a little trying to think. He notices the robot thing staring at him from within the doorway. The thing looks around and up. It stands. For a moment, Karson believes the thing gave them away. Then it dawns on him, they were set up.

"This was an elaborate trap!" Karson huffs.

"Well, find a way out of it!" Nellene commands as she returns fire.

Wave and Maavyn notice the gunnery turrets come to life and point in their direction.

"Back! The turrets!" Maavyn cries back to his colleagues as the turrets start blasting. They all enter the robot room.

"Kookie! The way's cut off!" Karson shouts into the headset.

"Wonderful." QuKi says to Marcus as they approach the bay and see the men firing.

Down the opposite hall, comes another group of soldiers. Without thinking, QuKi draws his gun and blasts the entrance across the hall. This alerts the thirteen soldiers around the bend but shuts the access door.

"Ok. That's solved. And them?" Asks Marcus, drawing his own firearm.

"Drop 'em if we can." Responds QuKi as they open fire on the oncoming soldiers.

While within the robot room, the robots start to hum to electric life. The lone bot motions for the others to follow him as Wave and Maavyn notice the fire fight being drawn off to the opposite side. Just at that moment, a large explosion echoes blowing several soldiers out into the open to remain motionless. The gun turrets go dead.

"Looks like Kookie and Marcus are out there." Maavyn looks to Karson.

"Try to give them cover." Responds Karson. He puts his attention back to the robot thing.

It stands roughly the same height as Karson, around five-foot-eight, tall enough for them to see eye to eye as around them the robots come into position.

"We have to get to one of the ships!" Karson yells, as the thing takes to the fore of him.

The numbers of the soldiers beyond begin to dwindle as they head out the door and into the hangar. They notice Marcus and QuKi nail five of the soldiers as they drive them back with the combined fire power of the members.

"Come on!" Karson commands as the robot leads on.

They all meet up in the center of the hangar. Just then, fully armed robots enter the hangar from the room beyond and open fire on them. The robot with them leads them into a ship in the center of the room. Without question and in haste they pile into the golden ship. Karson notices and unusual pictation on the side of the craft of the Terran solar system...at least, that's what it seems to be to him.

The robot things march out into the hangar bay while the human soldiers continue firing upon the crew rushing into the ship. Once inside, Marcus and QuKi find their way to the bridge and are taken aback. The bridge is vast and stealthy looking. A command extension leads over the rest of the bridge and the comm stations. Karson stands atop the overlooking bridge and witnesses the soldiers firing upon the vessel.

"Alright...I think I've got it...simple." QuKi says and casts a glance at the robot standing solitary nearby looking pitiful.

It's gaze looks upon the robots in the hangar bay approaching the ship. Something catches the robots' attention and they all take cover as if they had emotions with arms flailing.

"Get us out of here." Karson commands.

Maavyn fumbles with a mechanism and a flurry of laser bolts emits from hull mounted cannons forcing the pressing legion back. A large blast shoots from the forward nose cannon blowing the doors off the side of the hangar bay. Free space lay beyond and the ship leaves the dock at full speed. Soldiers and robots get blown out the new exit way.

The golden ship sets its course away from the now faltering Juggernaut as its precious atmosphere is depleted. A certain peace overtakes the crew.

"Set course for the Outer Rim." Karson speaks.

"Aye, sir." QuKi responds.

Maavyn wanders up to Karson and looks back out the expansive windows surrounding the bridge.

"This is a nice ship. I like it." Maavyn comments.

"Yeah...it's nice." Karson says with a grim look and sits into the Captain's chair.

A moment of silence passes as the crew man their various positions. QuKi and Marcus work the helm. Maavyn and Karson at the head of the bridge. The robot thing standing away to the side of the bridge quietly. Nellene watching with judging eyes from behind the comm. Wave at the communications monitor listening to any following wave bands.

All the while, Karson keeps his eyes on the robot.

"What do you make of it?" Karson asks quietly of Maavyn.

"Don't know...d'you think this is what we came for?" Maavyn inquired.

"Strange...I'm not sure...but....there is something to it." Karson says as the ship hits subtravel lightspeed and makes for the Outer Rim.

Watching the departure, a lone ship along the perimeter of Kingu sits in the shadow of the moon's darkside. It had witnessed the battle from afar. It had been nothing more than a dot on the horizon before...but the sudden explosion alerted this ship to the Juggernaut's presence. And silently it reports back to its own headquarters planetside of Terras as the green prying eye looks on at the departing golden craft.

The Outer Rim of the Terran Solar System...

The docking bay of the space station Creole Haven looms large over the docked golden ship. Within the ship's bowels, most of the crew members debate. Its focus, the strange being brought in by them...or rather the one that gained them access into the strange golden ship.

"Well...? Don't you talk?!" Nellene questions getting nearly into its unblinking and mechanical eyes.

"Hmm." QuKi ponders with his alien digits brushing his elongated chin.

QuKi finds himself perplexed. His diagnostics reveal startling evidence of the creature's form and function.

"Kookie?" Nellene turns her attention to QuKi while Wave and Marcus continue lightly touching the robot.

"Why must you call me "Kookie"? I am Qu Ki Ea Son!! Legal heir and son of En Ki, the lord "Ea", of the Annunaki!" QuKi raises his voice and puts his long fingers onto his knees.

Wave stares at him with a smile. QuKi issues no further comment on that comment on that matter. While Nellene still demands an answer. QuKi waves her off with his right hand.

"Yes, Yes... this "robot", as you call it, is no robot as you know."

"Huh?" Marcus inquires with his interest perked.

"The diagnostics point to analog technology, the like of which hasn't been seen since the 21st century on Terras...or what it once was called, 'Earth.'" QuKi says looking the robot in the eyes. It stares back at him and blinks once.

"So? What does it matter what he's made of?! He's still a robot!" Nellene shouts.

"Not necessarily. Robotic lifeforms and synthetics as well as anatons are all programmed. This being could not possibly have been programmed for its technological make up does not allow for program."

"Huh?" Nellene.

"Simple...it learns not calculates. Witness...being, heads up..." QuKi says tossing a round object at the being. Its reflexes react and it catches the ball with its right hand while flinching mechanically. Then it questionably looks at QuKi.

"That doesn't prove anything! I know synthetics that can play catch!" Nellene.

"Not with the speed of a human being. This was pure instinct to defend itself from attack. Interesting to say the least. I should pay a visit to the Haven's library. I wonder if it's what I think it is."

"Which would be?" Nellene asks as QuKi rises to his feet and passes the robot. It continues watching QuKi.

"..." QuKi stops by the exit of the ship's ten forward. "Something...I once read about." He finishes and departs ten forward. Wave drinks a beer he had in his tote bag.

*****

Maavyn and Karson meanwhile are within the Haven heading towards a bar. A long conversation had been ensuing between the two. Beyond them, lays the Creole Haven Tavern. To their right, the large spanning window separates them from open space.

"So what made you decide this as our destination?" Maavyn inquires as they approach the Tavern.

"Figured be the easiest way to evade any followers. Here we are on the fringes of the Continuum, they would never think to look for us here!" Karson replies waving his hands somewhat.

"Never? Hmmm...sounds like wishful thinking."

"Maybe. But still...my "source" should still be loitering about and I think I'd like to have a word with the scumbag BEFORE the Continuum is alerted and he bolts." Karson says setting a mean gaze at the entrance.

"Good thinking...let's just hope our two day detour didn't give them more than enough time to react."

"Subspace's a bitch. But we had to. And their tech still isn't as great as they'd like to think. An audio transmission alone will take four days at full saturation. I think we have time, especially since the Continuum uses video feed as well....less they came up with another system in the last three weeks."

"Soon have time enough to find out. Heh...Creole Tavern...first place we met, you scalawag!" Maavyn says tapping Karson on the shoulder and giving a smile.

"How can I forget." Karson says with a sigh as they enter the thoroughly packed Tavern.

Every type of creature in the Terran system is present. From the synthetics to the Anunnaki. Though Karson looks dubiously at the two Anunnaki present in the large Tavern. It isn't usual for members of their species to be abroad in the system. Despite the fact they have an uneasy truce with the Continuum, their homeworld, Nibiru, is still under danger of the continuing outreach of the Continuum.

"Niburians." Maavyn says quietly.

"Yeah, I saw the Annunaki. Just wonder what brings em here?"

"Inside the Continuum the Annunaki are Niburians."

"This is the Outer Rim."

"Nonetheless...I think you'll find them to refer to themselves as 'Niburians.'"

"Regardless...over here." Karson says leading them across the first floor of the three-story structure.

They pass over to the primary bar and Karson asks something of the bartender. He leans over the bar and motions up to the third story. They begin the trek upstairs oblivious to the bartender pushing some sort of button below the bar. Two Anatons follow the duo up to the upper level.

On the third floor, Maavyn and Karson proceed across an entertainment galley. The second floor contained the dining establishments. Now they pass by unusual Power Reality devices used to enhance game play through neuro synapses. As well, they pass the ages old and standard game machines built to gobble up Continuum credits.

Dimmed lighting and bright game machine lights make it impossible for the two to see the two Anatons following them from behind. An employee only room lurks beyond. Maavyn and Karson look around them and then enter the room.

"Seems no one's home." Maavyn says with his blaster in his right hand. "Let's get outta here. I don't like the way this feels."

"Good idea..." Karson says. As they turn around, the two Anatons enter the room and point laser rifles at them.

Karson and Maavyn drop their weapons and put their hands up. From behind them, a voice of familiarity to Karson rings through the sudden silence.

"Your coming brings bad tidings."

Karson turns quickly with his arms still high and retorts sharply to his erstwhile benefactor.

"You shouldn't have set me up, Trae! I'll make you pay for turning us over to the Continuum!"

"Turning you over?! Hah! Anatons...return to your duties at the doors. Report any Capitol Soldiers coming!" Trae speaks as the Anatons turn lowering their rifles and return to the first floor. "You're mistaken, lad."

"Then why the Anatons?" Karson asks with his arms still in the air. Maavyn maintains the same position with his eyes still wide. Trae looks at them and sighs.

"You can put your hands down now, I think." Trae says as they do so not having noticed they were still in that position. "The Anatons weren't for you...though they were to ensure you weren't with the Continuum. No, no...it was a safety precaution, lad. It isn't safe here. Nowhere, either, I'd say."

Trae had turned and now was going further into the backroom. Maavyn and Karson reluctantly follow.

"You should not have come. I sent you to retrieve the artifact."

"Artifact? There was nothing there!" Karson shouts. The old man turns hastily with eyes wide.

"Nothing?! Did you not go to the hangar bay?! Did you not go to the room beyond?!"

"Yes...I did. All we found were a bunch of robots that came to life and started firing at us!" Karson says.

"All? Surely one did not." Trae says and stares at Karson.

"There...was one." Maavyn starts. Karson hushes him with a gesture of his hand.

"One? What of this one? Importance?"

"Great is the importance. Let me tell you a tale..." The old man Trae takes a seat in his large lounger.

Maavyn props himself against a wall while Karson sits upon a stool.

"Alright, but make it fast. I need to know what to..." Karson begins.

"Yes, you do need to know "what"...now still your impetuous ways for a minute or two..."

Trae begins his tale with Maavyn and Karson listening intently.

"...It isn't exactly 'Once upon a time...' but it was a long time ago. It was well before the annexation of the Americas by the Ulyssian fleets. Well before the Capitol Continuum. It was within the confines of the Confederate nations, in fact, that the origins of the tale is begun..." And Trae relates of the man with his gadgets who wanted to build just to build. "...This man of yore, his name has been lost to time, a pity. But his desire was to create. He was driven by an unseen hand to play and build his toys....his constructs. Til one day, those constructs..."

"Killed him and took over the world?!" Maavyn shouts out suddenly. Karson silences his following smile with a wry expression. Trae looks to Maavyn but ignores him and continues.

"...Rather, it is to say, those constructs took on a life of their own. Oh, no, no take-overs for you see, he built small things first. Creepy, crawling thingies. And they were built from circuit boards that he took from within junk...old transistor radio parts from the junk yard, old wiring from TV's..."

Trae takes not of their puzzled expressions.

"Yes...ah yes, you wouldn't know of those things being as they were of hundreds of years past. Hmmm....a transistor, first off, is a small circuit board composed of welding allowing the electrical impulses to travel upon it...some were useless by themselves until put against a speaker, a tiny comm unit, essentially, whose primary purpose was to allow you to hear music played over the airwaves, which were broadcast from stations built for just that purpose. Radio stations. Anyhow, a television, or TV, did essentially the same thing, except with video as well as audio signals and there was more to view than just music videos!"

The old man laughs as the two nod in understanding and wishing for him to continue.

"From these things he made imitations of living things. Crabs and insects. And they moved! But without programming. At first, he thought it just an electrical response forcing the kinetic energy within them to move their soldered legs. But then he noticed an oddity about these things. They used their soldered antennae to FEEL! He was amazed and put his devices through test upon test."

Maavyn and Karson look at him with wide eyes of amazement.

"...He put them in mazes. They found their way out with the feelers. And, thinking those a fluke, he put the things back into the same tests, only to find that they remembered their way! And those things never stumbled once after memory! He would play the part of the destructor and broke their legs! They struggled but still managed to find their way! What this man was unaware of, was the first of life created outside the bounds of flesh. He made his findings known, but many scoffed at him calling him rude and unruly names. Nut job, freak, robotboy, eccentric seemed to be a favorite amongst more intelligent folks. However, all the while the governments were in the beginning stages of synthesoid study which eventually led to the Anaton movement. But both these beings lacked what this man had created, the instinctual drive of live."

"So what you're saying is...?" Karson begins but Trae finishes.

"...Is that what you have found is the descendant of this technology! These are intelligent, instinctual beings, deprived of flesh, but not of thought! Just as this man's earliest models, they are inquisitive, and they learn. Not like a machine learns or is programmed...but actually learn! Hehe! Very exciting! You see, the governments on Earth, excuse me, Terras never learned how to efficiently use the technology because of the random variables. After the final victory of the Ulyssian nation over the Nazi armies, the primitive forebearers of the analog race sought cover in the Ulyssian lands. Though the war was over between the world wide powers, the second and last Civil War was just beginning to play out between Union and Confederate states and this race wanted nothing to do with war..."

"But those, whatevers, in the ship...they had guns! They wanted to kill us!" said Karson still puzzled.

"Then these ones are dangerous, lad. They have traded freedom to serve the Continuum. They are afraid of the Continuum and what it had intended to do with them."

"Which was?" Maavyn inquires quietly.

"More than likely to destroy them. You see, these things are impractical on the battlefield. They don't need to eat, though. And are just as strong and maneuverable as a man. But it is just their nature not to fight. This is why you are not dead now. The Continuum considers them a blasphemous race."

"Given this is true, then why are they invaluable to the Continuum?" Maavyn asks coming up and standing next to Karson and before the old man.

"Good question. I can hazard a guess but I won't. Your exploits have destroyed those housed in that cargo hold. And yours..."

"Wait a minute!" Maavyn draws forth his laser pistol as Karson stands up and holds him off with his right hand while pointing at the old man with his left.

"How do YOU know about our 'exploits', as you call it? We've told you nothing of it! Or of the fact that we actually took that thing with us!!"

"Anlatik." Says the old man starting to lean on his cane.

"What?" Karson continues.

"It is what their race is."

"So what! Answer the question!!" Karson starts to get antsy.

"Simple, Karson, you underestimate your foe. A dangerous game to play when they are more advanced than you realize. Remember, I said they considered the race blasphemous, not that they wouldn't use them." Trae lowers his head some.

"Are they...telepathic?" Maavyn asks while lowering his weapon. Karson's arm comes down as well.

"No. Not in the least, less you believe in ESP, which all living things are in tune with. Unfortunately, they do have a 'feeling' of each other's presence. They know where all of their race dwell. But not whether they are benign or benevolent. And since all on board that juggernaut were destroyed..."

"Which means at least one is alive within the Continuum! And you have an inside source within the Continuum heart! How much time, Trae?!" Karson hurriedly asks in gasping breaths.

"Not much time, I gather. You should probably leave now, though. You shouldn't have come here." Trae says as Maavyn looks at the floor in thought.

"However, that didn't stop you from keeping us." Maavyn says looking at Trae.

"Since you were here, I needed you to understand. Now you do. Or at least, you will. Now go."

With that Maavyn and Karson exit the room and leave the Tavern owner to his pondering. Trae walks to the edge of the third floor railing and watches the two men exit the front of the Tavern.

"You didn't tell them everything. Now, they will really have to figure the puzzle out on their own." Comes a voice engulfed in shadows at a table just outside the gaming area. It is a small snaking facility for those in the know.

"Not necessary. Would only jeopardize what we've come so far to move forward. But all in good time. They will know."

"Providing the Continuum doesn't get them first." The voice says taking a drink from his silhouetted glass of wine.

"Open the Long Fallen Gates, for the race is begun." The old man says after a few moments of silence.

"'Let loose the dogs of war'...so the saying goes." Replies the voice.

"Let us hope...that it does not come to that. But if so, may it be swift."

"Get the ship prepped to launch!" Karson yells into his headset he just put on. The voice replying back is that of Nellene.

"How soon?" she asks.

"Now! Where's Kookie?!" Karson asks as he and Maavyn rush forward down the open corridors of the Creole Haven. They don't pay much attention to the lack of people in the halls.

"I don't know, he said something about a library and left the ship!" Nellene replies.

"A lot of help you are! See if you can buzz him!" Karson says shutting off the link. "Well, now if we can get the ENTIRE crew together and ditch this berg, we should be alright!" Karson and Maavyn round a corner and are stopped by several armed soldiers.

The leader of the soldiers is a woman a few inches shorter than Karson. However, he doesn't notice her stature first and foremost, but the deadly saber she brandishes in his face.

"Where ya off ta in such a hurry, sweetie?" she says with a smile.

Karson looks slightly to his right at Maavyn and they exchange a shrug. In less than it took to cast that view, Maavyn draws his firearm and starts taking out the soldiers. Karson draws his saber and expertly knocks the woman's weapon sideways. With the soldiers stunned, they turn around and head back in the direction they came. Deftly, they change course down another winding hall.

"Well, get up, you swine! Get to it!" The woman cries giving chase to the two men.

*****

Coming out of the library, QuKi maintains in his possession several books on ancient robotic history. He starts to head back to the ship but sees Maavyn and Karson rushing at him at top speed. He perks his brows and hears Maavyn yelling at him.

"Kookie, you flotsam! Get yer ass in gear! We've got company!"

"Company?" QuKi watches them zip by him.

Immediately, he turns to see the soldiers coming at him, one isn't paying attention and runs smack dead into him. His books fly all over the ground. And he sits up from the ground as the soldier gets back to his feet.

"Get off the streets, citizen! Pirates are abroad!" The soldier exclaims regaining his pursuit.

The soldiers disappear around the corner following Maavyn and Karson.

"Great. We can't go anywhere without twiddledee and twiddledum lootin' somethin'!" QuKi laments to himself and gathers a few books speedily and heads towards the ship in the proper direction. "Likely to be guards around the docks." He mumbles.

*****

Karson and Maavyn quickly take a back route through the Haven hoping that the ship will be prepped in time for them to just blast off without any problems.

"Don't worry, looks like they ignored Kookie. He'll have the ship ready by the time we get there." Karson comments to Maavyn.

"Better!" Maavyn replies with laser fire zooming over their heads.

They navigate several halls while seemingly having lost the soldiers. They pause for a moment to catch their breaths.

"That was fun. Where...to...next?" Maavyn inquires.

Just then a sword barely misses Karson on the head. Several hairs get taken off. The woman leans over him menacingly. Maavyn goes to grab her and disarm her. But the dark haired beauty elbows him in the gut and tosses him to the floor.

"Now where was I? Oh yeah! Karson Montonie, you're wanted by the Continuum...Dead or Alive. Preferably dead I'm told!" The woman says with a smile.

Karson barely blocks a downward slash of her saber with his.

"Hey! Proper introductions first, lady! You know my name, but who are you and why do you work for the Continuum...?" Karson shouts parrying several blows. "...I mean...you're obviously in the same business as me, and obviously much more ruthless, and the Continuum doesn't hire our kind...so..."

"Oh, hush! This is a fight, not a talk-a-thon!" The woman says nearly taking his head off. "But...you're kinda cute! So, before I take your head, call me Keena! Ok, back to business." She quickly laments with a quick pose and then a deadly thrust to the abdomen.

Only with great skill does Karson evade the thrusts of Keena. Meanwhile, Maavyn sees this and realizes they don't have time for these games. It 's obvious they're evenly matched and equally obvious that soon, more soldiers would be coming. So, Maavyn, being the gentleman that he is, takes the butt of his gun and approaches the fight quickly intent on knocking the woman out. However, a quick jab to the ribcage with the woman's left elbow stops his momentum and steals his breath as he falls down.

"Hmmm." She smiles without looking back. And shrugs.

"Hey! He's just trying to end this quickly!" Karson objects.

"So am I!" She retorts with another deadly cross slash. Karson ducks and loses a few more hairs.

He comes around and jumps over the body of Maavyn. Keena does the same but is grabbed by the heel by Maavyn as he tosses her to the ground. Karson jumps on top of Keena and wrestles her for her blade.

"Just hand it over!"

"Oh! I bet you say that to all the gals!!"

Suddenly, Maavyn rips the blade away from her.

"Hey! No fair helping!" Keena cries out.

"I'm sure your soldier friends would've waited til you thoroughly trashed us before interfering, right?!" Maavyn replies.

"Your belt!" Karson extends a hand to Maavyn to get his belt while Keena puts up a fierce struggle.

It takes both men to tie her tight with their belts on her wrists and ankles.

"You can't leave me like this! HEEEELLLLLLLPPPPPPP!!!! They're trying to hurt a POOR defenseless WOMAN out here!!!!" Keena shouts out as the two men start to retreat.

Maavyn draws back and takes off his boot then his sock and goes to shove his sock in Keena's mouth.

"Put a sock in it!" Maavyn says as Keena makes a grimace of disgust.

"Nice." Karson shakes his head as they make a break for the ship in the hangar bay.

*****

Within the docking bay, Nellene commands the local ship hands to prepare for the ship's release. They do as commanded. QuKi comes running into the hangar bay and looks around quizzically.

"Problem?" asks Nellene.

"I expected resistance." QuKi states as he and she enter the ship's interior. Nellene looks back and sees several soldiers enter the bay.

"Well, no. No resistance, unless you count them." She points and QuKi looks back. Without hesitation, QuKi grabs Nellene and pulls her into the ship just as a volley of laser fire opens up.

"Didn't we already do this scene?" Marcus inquires taking his place at the helm beside QuKi.

"Not now, Marcus. We have a problem."

"No kidding. Opening up laser turrets. See if they're anywhere near as bothersome as that Juggernaut's crew." Marcus says as the guns on the underside blare into action.

The soldiers near the entrance take cover and fire at irregular intervals. QuKi sets the ship's engines into ready mode.

"All we need now is the Captain." QuKi says.

*****

Soon, Maavyn and Karson rush into the bay from the opposite direction. Not far behind, is an extremely upset Keena and her soldiers in tow.

"Think she's pissed?" Asks Maavyn.

"About me or the sock?" Karson inquires with a grin. Maavyn responds with the same and they speed up the landing ramp. Karson punches the ramp controls as the ramp closes. Then he hits the same switchboard.

"Kookie! You up there?" Karson calls.

"Aye, sir. All present and accounted for."

"And our 'guest'?" Karson wonders.

"Resting comfortably...oh...scratch that, he's on the bridge." QuKi replies.

"I'm coming up! Get us out of here!" Karson says as he and Maavyn run up the corridor leading to the elevator to the bridge.

*****

"Sure. All he ever wants out of me. 'Get us out of here!' Hmph! And how praytell am I to do that? The gate's locked and is fire proof!" QuKi says to Marcus whom only frowns.

The strange robot thing comes over to a unit set out well before the helm station. It overhangs the glass giving one a panoramic view of everything from above to below. The robot starts to operate the system at the device. Seconds later, the huge gate into the hangar bay opens. Emergency systems flare up and the soldiers retreat, dragging an angry Keena with them. Weapons stop firing as the golden ship lifts off and navigates 180 degrees and leaves the docking bay.

QuKi takes control then, and sets a course beyond the Outer Rim and far from Continuum space. Maavyn and Karson arrive on the bridge. Karson takes the Captain's chair and looks at his crew.

"Great job, guys! Got us out of here in just the nick of time!" Karson says.

"Don't thank us, completely that is...the...uhm..." QuKi starts but doesn't want to seem rude to the quizzical robotic lifeform before him.

"Gate!" Marcus pipes in. "He opened the gates to the docks! Let's call him 'Gate.'" he smiles.

"Alright. Gate it is...what do you say? Gate sound good to you...Gate?" Karson asks the being. It smiles its robotic smile in response but solemnly looks out to the space beyond.

Karson and Maavyn exchange looks of curiosity. Both feel that based on what they learned, the thing should at least be capable of talk. But time didn't allow for that consideration. Battleships approach the ship fast. They come in strong from the main docking passway. And hail them to stop their engines and give up.

"Battlestations!" calls Karson.

QuKi puts full power to shields and Marcus mans the turrets. Maavyn takes the station nearest Karson...it is the tactical station. Wave takes his place upon the communications station and repeats his message to the oncoming ships.

"That's a negative, Capitol ships. We have the right of way. Please make way for the..." Wave looks around suddenly.

"Oh, wonderful! Some pirates we are! We never christened the damned ship!!" yells Nellene.

"Just...tell em the uhm...give em our title!" replies Karson.

"...The who? We didn't receive that last part, please?" comes the voice. Wave is taken aback.

"Wow. Polite bastards, aren't they?" Wave receives smiles to his notice. "This is the 'Shadow Ghosts,' notorious outlaw, renegade space pirates barreling down yer throat!! ARRRR!!" Wave replies and starts busting out laughing. The others just look at him. "Hey! I can have a little fun! Call it Cherokee humor if you want!"

"Or maybe Wave just has a bad sense of one!" Marcus pipes in. Wave wave's him off with his hand.

All the while, the Continuum ships seem to pause at the last bit, giving the golden ship a clear opening to shoot right past them. Open space lay between them and their destination now. But before the subspace jump comes, a blast rocks the ship. A voice cackles over the Comm speakers.

"Ha Ha Ha! No sock is going to keep me from catching you! Surrender now or be destroyed!!" comes the voice of Keena.

"Man, this chick just doesn't know the meaning of 'quit'!" shouts out Maavyn.

"Come on now, Maavyn, you know she's still miffed about the sock. Put her on view!" Karson commands.

"Geez, she obviously can't let anything drop either." Maavyn quietly says to himself.

Meanwhile, QuKi has patched a video feed on top of the audio feed to get a good view of the Captain in the attacking ship.

"Visual identification achieved. Vessel Tanahi Maaryu attacking." comes QuKi as he patches through the feeds.

"Hmm, that's a Kriss name." Karson says to Maavyn. He looks doubtful.

The image of Keena comes over the primary glass section of the bridge.

"Wow. That's a nice feed! I told you I LOVE this ship!" says Maavyn.

"I wouldn't recommend getting too attached to it then, Maavyn Coorus!" says Keena standing erect with her saber drawn and perched on her right shoulder. "Karson Montonie, Nellene Qroatch, QuKi Eason, the Cherokee warrior Wave, Marcus Truelight...You are wanted by the Capitol Continuum for theft of Continuum property and murder to Continuum soldiers! You will surrender now or be..."

"Yeah yeah, destroyed, got it! Now get to what we don't know!" Maavyn shouts out in irritation.

"Look! I don't know why you should even care! And...why have us 'surrender' when before you were content to kill?" Karson asks trying to buy time. The edge of the Outer Rim was coming up fast.

"A girl's got her reasons...so stop delaying!" she says as a volley of shots scores the underside of the twisting ship.

"Well, if you want the property back, better stop trying to destroy our ship!" Karson points out.

"Your ship? You stole that too! They want it back." A shockwave distorts any further communication.

"What?!" Karson grabs hold of the upper bridge rail and sees a sudden Nebulous appear out of vapors.

"Strange. No Nebulae should be anywhere remotely near this star system." QuKi says calmly.

"Can we navigate it?" Karson asks.

"Apparently, with ease." QuKi says while the ship skates through the Nebulous.

Once out of the ominous cloud, they hit subspace warp. And they all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

"Well, now I know what to christen the ship." Karson speaks.

"Oh?" Maavyn asks with a wry look.

"Nebulous!" Karson winks. Maavyn smiles as the stars fly by.

*****

Within the cloud...the Tanahi Maaryu struggles to gain control. It is then that the cloud dissipates and a new view comes across their screen.

"Where is that ship?" demands a voice. Keena stands erect grabbing ahold of the bridge rail, her sword laying at her feet.

"Well, heh, a sudden uhm anomaly popped up." Keena scratches her head. "The ship vanished past the Outer Rim. They must be deep into Niburian territory by now."

"Anomaly?" comes the voice with irritation. Keena bows her head.

"My apologies, Empress. It seems to have been a Nebulous. It wrecked havoc on our operation systems. I...I have no idea from whence it came." Keena grovels. Her crew looks at her but she shoots a 'kill' look upon them all forcing them back to their prospective stations.

"Find them, Ms. Develon. Bring that ship to me. Do as you will to the crew."

"Of course, Empress." Keena replies as the view screen disappears. She grimaces. "Incompetents!! I told you to secure that ship! Oh...hurry up and get us running again!! And find out where they're going! Now!!!" Keena shouts and angrily leaves the bridge.

Donovan Kestrel watches his Captain leave. He refocuses his attention towards the view port.

*****

Elsewhere...

Terras Prime...
Within the Ulyssian Nation perimeters...

A lone figure watches a feedback image of the battle that had occurred several days earlier. His armored form belies nothing of his emotions. But behind him, a female entity draws near. She speaks not. It is the Overlord whom speaks first.

"It would seem that the Continuum had planned an assault on Terras Prime. I have taken steps to ensure no other vessel comes as close as that one did."

"It's cargo was precious." says the lady bowing her head.

"Yes...and now they know. The time draws nearer. All else has been prologue." The Overlord says after a moment of silence.

"Then you saw?"

"Did you think I would miss?"

"If not for the interlopers...perhaps not."

"..." If his helmet were drawn off, the lady in silken robes would have seen the grimace upon his visage. "...Indeed. None of my forefathers would have allowed such a mistake to have occurred."

"You give them too much credit. As men, you have all made errors. Fortunately, none so grievous as to cost the greater good. But now, this is no error."

"No...

By the light
It shall be seen
The invisible.

Now is here
What once was gone
It arrives!

This it says
When thus it comes
Be still!

And verily witness
The bride of shadows
Bringing light.

"The time is come." The Overlord finishes his recital of an ages old prophecy of times to come.

"Ulyssian poetry...simple yet complex." Says the lady knowing the furrowing of brows under the Overlord's helm.

"Not poetry...prophecy."

"Tomato...tomato." Says the lady with a smile and a graceful glide out the door from whence she came. The Overlord laughs outloud and switches off the viewscreen.

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