by Max Barry

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by The Swinging Jungle of Baloo Kingdom. . 194 reads.

Rome Wars: A New Pope (Part 6)

[A signal starts flashing on the control panel and a muffled alarm starts humming.]

Barlyy: There’s another ship coming in.

Baloo: Maybe they know what happened.

Kirby: It’s a Callistan fighter.

[Nooooooooooooooo barks his concern. A huge explosion bursts outside the cockpit window, shaking the ship violently. A tiny finned Imperial CPP fighter races past the cockpit window.]

Baloo: It followed us!

Kirby: No. It’s a short-range fighter.

Barlyy: There aren’t any bases around here. Where did it come from?


[The fighter races past the slowing pirateship.]


Baloo: It sure is leaving in a big hurry. If they identify us, we’re in big trouble.

Barlyy: Not if I can help it. Nooooooooooooooo…jam it’s transmissions.

Kirby: It’d be as well to let it go. It’s too far out of range.

Barlyy: Not for long…


[The pirateship zooms over the camera and away into the vastness of space after the Imperial CPP fighter.]


[The tension mounts as the pirateship gains on the tiny fighter. In the distance, one of the stars becomes brighter until it is obvious that the CPP ship is heading for it. Kirby stands behind Nooooooooooooooo.]

Kirby: A fighter that size couldn’t get this deep into space on its own.

Baloo: It must have gotten lost, been part of a convoy or something.

Barlyy: Well, he ain’t going to be around long enough to tell anyone about us.


[The CPP fighter is losing ground to the larger pirateship as they race toward camera and disappear over head.]


[The distant star can be distinguished as a small moon or planet.]

Baloo: Look at him. He’s headed for that small moon.

Barlyy: I think I can get him before he gets there… he’s almost in range.

[The small moon begins to take on the appearance of a monstrous spherical battle station.]

Kirby: That’s no moon! It’s a space station.

Barlyy: It’s too big to be a space station.

Baloo: I have a very bad feeling about this.

Barlyy: Yeah, I think you're right. Full reverse! Nooooooooooooooo, lock in the auxiliary power.

[The Briteannia Knight shudders and the CPP fighter accelerates away toward the gargantuan battle station.]

Baloo: Why are we still moving towards it?

Barlyy: We’re caught in a tractor beam! It’s pulling us in!

Baloo: But there’s gotta be something you can do!

Barlyy: There’s nothin’ I can do about it, kid. I’m in full power. I’m going to have to shut down. But they’re not going to get me without a fight!

[Kirby puts a hand on his shoulder.]

Kirby: You can’t win. But there are alternatives to fighting.


[As the battered pirate starship is towed closer to the awesome metal moon, the immense size of the massive battle station becomes staggering. Running along the equator of the gigantic sphere is a mile-high band of huge docking ports into which the helpless pirateship is dragged.]


[The helpless Briteannia Knight is pulled past a docking port control room and huge laser turret cannons.]


[Clear Bay twenty-three-seven. We are opening the magnetic field.]


[The pirateship is pulled in through port doors of the Gulag Star, coming to rest in a huge hangar. Thirty tsartroopers stand at attention in a central assembly area.]

Tsartrooper Officer: To you stations! (to another officer) Come with me.


[Tsartroopers run to their posts.]


[A line of tsartroopers march toward the pirateship in readiness to board it, while other troopers stand with weapons ready to fire.]

Tsartrooper Officer: Close all outboard shields! Close all outboard shields!


[Mathuvan Union pushes a button and responds to the intercom buzz.]

Mathuvan Union: Yes.

Tsartrooper Voice: (over intercom) We’ve captured a freighter entering the remains of the Alderaan system. It’s markings match those of a ship that blasted its way out of The Tavern.

Plus Nova Imperii: They must be trying to return the stolen plans to the princess. She may yet be of some use to us.


[Plus Nova Imperii and a commander approach the troops as a Tsartrooper Officer and several heavily armed troops exit the spacecraft.]

Tsatrooper Voice: (over intercom) Unlock one-five-seven and nine. Release charges.

Tsartrooper Officer: (to Plus Nova Imperii) There’s no one on board, sir. According to the log, the crew abandoned ship right after takeoff. It must be a decoy, sir. Several of the escape pods have been jettisoned.

Plus Nova Imperii: Did you find any droids?

Tsartrooper Officer: No, sir. If there were any on board, they must also have jettisoned.

Plus Nova Imperii: Send a scanning crew on board. I want every part of this ship checked.

Tsartrooper Officer: Yes, sir.

Plus Nova Imperii: I sense something… a presence I haven’t felt since…

[Plus Nova Imperii turns quickly and exits the hangar.]

Tsartrooper Officer: Get me a scanning crew in here on the double. I want every part of this ship checked!


[A tsartrooper runs through the hallway heading for the exit. In a few moments all is quiet. The muffled sounds of a distant officer giving orders finally fade. Two floor panels suddenly pop up revealing Barlyy and Baloo. Kirby sticks his head out of a third locker.]

Baloo: Boy, it’s lucky you had these compartments.

Barlyy: I use them for smuggling. I never thought I’d be smuggling myself in them. This is ridiculous. Even if I could take off, I’d never get past the tractor beam.

Kirby: Leave that to me!

Barlyy: Damn fool. I knew that you were going to say that!

Kirby: Who’s the more foolish… the fool or the fool who follows him?

[Barlyy shakes his head, muttering to himself. Nooooooooooooooo agrees.]


[The crewmen carry a heavy box on board the ship, past the two tsartroopers guarding either side of the ramp.]

Tsartrooper: The ship’s all yours. If the scanners pick up anything, report it immediately. All right, let’s go.

[The crewmen enter the pirateship and a loud crashing sound is followed by a voice calling to the guard below.]

Barlyy: Hey down there, could you give us a hand with this?

[The tsartroopers enter the ship and a quick round of gunfire is heard.]


[In a very small command office near the entrance to the pirateship, a Gantry Tsartrooper looks out his window and notices the guards are missing. He speaks into the comlink.]

Gantry Tsartrooper: TX-four-one-two. Why aren’t you at your post? TX-four-one-two, do you copy?

[A tsartrooper comes down the ramp of the pirateship and waves to the gantry officer, pointing to his ear indicating his comlink is not working. The gantry tsartrooper shakes his head in disgust and heads for the door, giving his aide an annoyed look.]

Gantry Tsartrooper: Take over. We’ve got a bad transmitter. I’ll see what I can do.

[As the tsartrooper approaches the door, it slides open revealing the towering Nooooooooooooooo. The gantry tsartrooper, in a momentary state of shock, stumbles backward. With a bone- chilling howl, the giant Nooooooooooooooo flattens the officer with one blow. The aide immediately reaches for his pistol, but is blasted by Barlyy, dressed as a Callistan tsartrooper. Kirby and the robots enter the room quickly followed by Baloo, also dressed as a stormtrooper. Baloo quickly removes his helmet.]

Baloo: You know, between his howling and your blasting everything in sight, it’s a wonder the whole station doesn’t know we’re here.

Barlyy: Bring them on! I prefer a straight fight to all this sneaking around.

NAIS: We found the computer outlet, sir.

[Kirby feeds some information into the computer and a map of the city appears on the monitor. He begins to inspect it carefully. NAIS and KOE look over the control panel. KOE finds something that makes him whistle wildly.]

Kirby: Plug in. He should be able to interpret the entire Callistan computer network.

[KOE punches his claw arm into the computer socket and the vast Callistan brain network comes to life, feeding information to the little robot. After a few moments, he beeps something.]

NAIS: He says he’s found the main computer to power the tractor beam that’s holding the ship here. He’ll try to make the precise location appear on the monitor.

[The computer monitor flashes readouts.]

NAIS: The tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor in seven locations. A power loss at one of the terminals will allow the ship to leave.

[Kirby studies the data on the monitor readout.]

Kirby: I don’t think you boys can help. I must go alone.

Barlyy: Whatever you say. I’ve done more that I bargained for on this trip already.

Baloo: I want to go with you.

Kirby: Be patient, Baloo. Stay and watch over the droids.

Baloo: But he can…

Kirby: They must be delivered safely or other star systems will suffer the same fate as Alderaan. Your destiny lies along a different path than mine. The Force will be with you… always!

[Kirby adjusts the lightsaber on his belt and silently steps out of the command office, then disappears down a long grey hallway. Nooooooooooooooo barks a comment and Barlyy shakes his head in agreement.]

Barlyy: Boy you said it, Nooooooooooooooo.

[Barlyy looks at Baloo.]

Barlyy: Where did you dig up that old fossil?

Baloo: Kirby is a great man.

Barlyy: Yeah, great at getting us into trouble.

Baloo: I didn’t hear you give any ideas…

Barlyy: Well, anything would be better than just hanging around waiting for him to pick us up…

Baloo: Who do you think…

[Suddenly KOE begins to whistle and beep a blue streak. Baloo goes over to him.]

Baloo: What is it?

NAIS: I’m afraid I’m not quite sure, sir. He says "I found her", and keeps repeating, "She’s here."

Baloo: Well, who… who has he found?

[Artoo whistles a frantic reply.]

NAIS: The Gold Mines.

Baloo: The princess? She’s here?

Barlyy: Princess? What’s going on?

NAIS: Level five. Detention block A, A-twenty- three. I’m afraid she’s scheduled to be terminated.

Baloo: Oh, no! We’ve got to do something.

Barlyy: What are you talking about?

Baloo: The droid belongs to her. She’s the one in the message… We’ve got to help her.

Barlyy: Now, look, don’t get any funny ideas. The old man wants us to wait right here.

Baloo: But he didn’t know she was here. Look, will you just find a way back into the detention block?

Barlyy: I’m not going anywhere.

Baloo: They’re going to execute her. Look, a few minutes ago you said you didn’t want to just wait here to be captured. Now all you want to do is stay.

Barlyy: Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind.

Baloo: But they’re going to kill her!

Barlyy: Better her than me…

Baloo: She’s rich.

[Nooooooooooooooo growls.]

Barlyy: Rich?

Baloo: Yes. Rich, powerful! Listen, if you were to rescue her, the reward would be…

Barlyy: What? Baloo: Well more wealth than you can imagine.

Barlyy: I don’t know, I can imagine quite a bit!

Baloo: You’ll get it!

Barlyy: I better!

Baloo: You will…

Barlyy: All right, kid. But you’d better be right about this.

[Barlyy looks at Nooooooooooooooo, who grunts a short grunt.]

Baloo: All right.

Barlyy: What’s your plan?

Baloo: Uh… NAIS, hand me those binders there will you?

[Baloo moves toward Nooooooooooooooo with electronic cuffs.]

Baloo: Okay. Now, I’m going to put these on you.

[Nooooooooooooooo lets out a hideous growl.]

Baloo: Okay. Barlyy, you put these on.

[Baloo sheepishly hands the binders to Barlyy.]

Barlyy: Don’t worry, Nooooooooooooooo. I think I know what he has in mind.

[Nooooooooooooooo has a worried and frightened look on his face as Barlyy binds him with the electronic cuffs.]

NAIS: Master Baloo, sir! Pardon me for asking… but, ah… what should KOE and I do if we’re discovered here?

Baloo: Lock the door!

Barlyy: And hope they don’t have blasters.

NAIS: That isn’t very reassuring.

[Baloo and Barlyy put on their armored tsartrooper helmets and start off into the giant Callistan Gulag Star.]