Smoke bellowed from the Galman facility as sirens blared and
emergency crews frantically searched for survivors. A quarter of the building had been
destroyed and countless had been killed in the deadly blast. Mutilated Galmans were
taken away on stretchers and people were in the streets crying amidst the blood and
While ambulances rushed the wounded and dead off to hospitals a large transport vehicle carrying a secret military security team screeches to a halt. The team ignores countless pleas for help as they are quickly dispatched to find the Emperor in the smoldering mess of a building.
Desslok and Talan were on the opposite side of the building when the explosion went off and were sitting on a pile of rubble in the Emperor's main office. They were waiting for what they thought was the rescue crew to finish cutting their way into the room with a laser saw. After a few moments, the area was cleared and a group of six Galman soldiers rushed to Desslok and Talan with their guns drawn. Stunned by the unexpected turn of events, Desslok reached for his pistol. Before he could get to it, another individual entered the room.
"I would not do that if I were you Desslok."
A familiar face sporting a devilish grin emerged from the opening. It was General Plimkin from The Assembly. Without hesitation, Talan lunged at Plimkin only to be met with the butt of a soldier's rifle. Talan fell to the floor and blood began to drip from his nose. Desslok began to move toward his friend.
"Do not be foolish Desslok or you will end up like Talan," snarled Plimkin.
The soldiers removed Talan and Desslok's weapons, pulled out shackles and began to handcuff Desslok and Talan.
"What is the meaning of this Plimkin?" Desslok asked.
Plimkin walked about the room like a man who had conquered the world. He was a tall man, well over two meters in height, who towered over Desslok and the rest of the soldiers in the room. He walked over to what was left of Desslok's desk and found a fully functioning data pad. After pressing a button, the pad lit up and showed the position of the Galman fleet that was sent to meet the Omega.
"I am sure you know exactly what this is all about," answered Plimkin.
"General Plimkin, you above all people have been instrumental in creating a new Planet Galman," said Desslok. "Why this? Why now?"
Plimkin continued to hold the data pad in his right hand. It would come in good use later as his perfectly planned coup continued to unfold. He walked over to Desslok and stared him straight in the eye. It was a look of anger and disgust.
"You should have listened to me months ago Desslok. We could have avoided all of this senseless violence and death. But you refused to listen. You were too busy thinking in the old ways of Gamilon. You were closed minded to new ideas and new opportunities.
"It took me a long time to think of how to remove you and all of your political supporters from power. You see Desslok, the public will want justice for the bombing of Galman Headquarters and revenge for the killing of their Emperor. The people of Galman will learn that your supporters were tired of your politics and wanted a change in government. They were the ones who formed the Circle and plotted your assassination.
"I will pin it all on them and will destroy them all! I will be the one who avenged our great Emperor's death! I will be the one who destroyed the Circle and bring peace to Galman! I will be a god!"
When Desslok was a young man trying to make a name for himself, power and greed helped him destroy anything that got in his way. It gave him the strength to make his way through the ranks of the military and eventually elected as Leader of Gamilon. That same power and greed now coursed through Plimkin's veins. He was a man determined to succeed.
"So when do you plan to kill me Plimkin?" Desslok asked.
Plimkin turned from Desslok and made his way toward the hole in the wall as debris settled from the explosion and search teams continued to scour the rest of the building for survivors. Faint gun shots could be heard in the distance and Desslok wondered if some of his supporters were on the receiving end of the laser blasts.
"I am not going to kill you Desslok," taunted Plimkin. "I am going to do something much worse than that. I want you to watch as I take over your beloved Empire. You and General Talan will live out the rest of your lives imprisoned by me. I am afraid you will die by either natural causes or by your own hand. But look at it this way Desslok, you will be Galman's only living martyr."
Plimkin motioned to his troops in the room.
"You know what to do. Take them away and do it quietly."
One of the soldiers removed a syringe mechanism from a small pouch. As he walked toward Talan and Desslok, the other soldiers began to tighten their grip on the Galman leaders. The soldier holding the syringe injected Talan and then Desslok. Plimkin was nearly half way through the hole in the wall when he turned his attention back to his two prisoners.
"Your love for Earth has made you weak, Desslok. I will succeed where you have failed. I will make sure your friends on that Earth battleship are taken care of and when that's done, I will release the Bollar virus on Earth and watch as all life on that miserable planet dies a painful death. I will even set up a camera and broadcast it live in your cell!"
"I will make sure you are dead Plimkin!" Desslok screamed as he fought the effects of the injection. "I will make sure your body rots for the whole universe to see!"
Plimkin existed the room as Talan and Desslok's vision began to turn black. Two more soldiers entered the room carrying stretchers and blankets. They put the stretchers on the floor and with the help of the other guards placed the unconscious bodies of Talan and Desslok onto the stretchers. They then covered the bodies with the blankets and began to move Desslok and Talan from the room.
Once clear of Desslok's office, they carefully made their way through the heavily damaged facility. They passed one dead person who had a support beam from the ceiling land directly on his head spilling his brains all over the floor. The gray matter was littered with dust and soot. Another Galman had been walking down the corridor when the bombing occurred and was thrown so hard across the room that his head stuck into the wall. He remained dangling there, his feet five inches off of the floor.
The two soldiers carrying Talan tripped over some debris in one of the hallways and nearly spilled the general onto the floor. The two teams of two, followed closely by four guards, exited the building. A transport was waiting and within seconds the guards had placed Desslok and Talan inside and the vehicle left the scene.
Two hours later, General Plimkin had convened an emergency meeting of the Assembly. The room was very loud as everyone was in the middle of discussing the bombing. Notably absent were General Shoru, General Plimkin, General Talan and Emperor Desslok. The door at the far end of the room opened and General Plimkin and General Shoru entered as a hush fell over the group. Plimkin walked over to the Emperor's chair and sat down.
"That chair does not belong to you Plimkin!" General Vleen yelled as he jumped to his feet.
Plimkin drew his pistol and within seconds, General Vleen was blasted out of his chair and sent sailing across the room. Blood dripped from his lifeless body as Plimkin addressed the Assembly.
"Gentlemen, our Emperor Desslok and General Talan have been killed. Being the senior General left in the Empire, I am declaring myself Emperor of Galman. Are there any objections?"
The rest of the Galman Assembly looked at the lifeless General Vleen and then back at Plimkin who was still holding his pistol. The safety was off and he was ready to keep firing if necessary. Not a word was said.
"Thank you gentlemen," continued Plimkin. "Our first order of business is finding those responsible for the deaths of Desslok and Talan and bring them to justice."
Plimkin pressed a button on the arm of the chair. Seconds later the door on the far side of the room opened and a whole company of Galman troops entered the Assembly. They quickly made their way around the table selecting only predetermined people by pulling them out of their chairs. They lined nearly the entire Assembly against the wall at the far end of the room.
Some of Desslok's strongest supporters began to vocally protest as they started to realize their fate. Plimkin got out of his chair and walked in front of the Galman soldiers who had their rifles pointed directly at the Galman leaders.
"Gentlemen, I find you all guilty of the worst crime against our Empire - treason. I sentence you all to die."
Plimkin walked away and the gunmen opened fire. In an instant, the leaders were reduced to a pile of death on the Assembly floor. Plimkin walked back to the Emperor's chair and sat down. The remaining members of the Assembly wearily sat back down in their chairs.
"Now Gentlemen, planet Galman belongs to the Circle."
General Plimkin had ordered a transport to parade the dead Galman leaders around the streets for all to see. He wanted the world to view Desslok's killers. As the transport went by people threw old food and junk at the dead leaders. The transport circled the entire city then stopped at the bottom of the steps that lead to the Emperor's palace.
A large crowd has gathered outside the Galman Leader's residence waiting for Plimkin to address the planet. They grew restless and demanded news from its new leader. Inside the palace Plimkin and General Shoru watched through a window as the crowd continued to increase in size.
"Look at them Shoru. Look at how desperate they are! I will have them eating out of my hands in no time. Stay here."
The front doors of the Emperor's palace opened and Plimkin walked toward a podium that had been set up on a platform at the top of the steps outside the palace. It was decorated with the flag of the Galman people. Plimkin stopped at the podium, placed his hands on the sides of it and scanned the crowd. He noticed that people were weeping and he knew that it was a perfect time to prey on their emotions.
"People of Galman, our Empire has suffered a great loss. But the memory of our beloved Emperor Desslok will be a source of great strength. We must fight in Desslok's name for the survival of peace and prosperity for our great planet.
"I have taken it upon myself to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice." Plimkin points to the dead bodies in the transport at the bottom of the steps. "That is the fate of those who betray our Empire! The Circle has been destroyed and never again will the people of Galman be held under the veil of domestic terror!
"But we must not forget that we are at war. We are at war with the Bollar Federation and they must never again see us as weak. Until the Bollar Federation has been completely eliminated from our star system we will never truly be free.
"People of Galman I ask you today to follow me and help me create a new and stronger Galman Empire! Follow me in battle to destroy our enemies! Follow me as your new Emperor!"
The crowd erupted in applause and the sound was deafening. Chants of Plimkin's name could be heard throughout planet Galman. Plimkin smiled as he enjoyed his brief moment of fame. Plimkin absorbed it like a sponge.
After the address, Plimkin met with General Shoru in the Emperor's main office. The room was spacious with a large desk near the far wall. An immense window looking out over the Galman Capital was directly behind the desk. There were computer screens on the other two walls. One screen had Galman fleet deployments displayed on it while the other was completely blank.
Plimkin was sitting behind the desk. It was littered with reports that had been prepared for Desslok. He wiped the desk clean with his arm as General Shoru stood at the front of the desk.
"General, it is time that we reassign some of our forces. I have sent an order to recall some of our deep space fleets to help fortify our front lines. We are going to press on into the Bollar system and wipe out their entire defenses within the week. This planet desperately needs a victory to help boost its morale. I have also decided to give you a special assignment. I am reassigning you to supervise the Galman military outpost in sector 7G."
Shoru was shocked and outraged.
"But why?" Shoru asked. "I have done nothing to deserve this!"
"Shoru, for the Circle's plans to be fully understood throughout Galman, we must at times be asked to do things that are not normally expected," answered Plimkin.
"Normally expected? I have played a pivotal role in all of this!" Shoru replied. "I should be here at headquarters or out on the front lines smashing the Bollar Federation! What you are asking me to do is run a useless facility out in the middle of nowhere! This is an insult!"
"General Shoru, I would suggest accepting this assignment. Failure to do so would be detrimental to your health. Besides, the assignment is only temporary."
"Temporary? For how long?"
Shoru realized that he had been used. He also knew that if he pressed the matter any further that he wouldn't be leaving the office alive. He just nodded in agreement.
"You are a good soldier Shoru," said Plimkin. "You will serve this planet well."
Shoru left the Emperor's office without saying another word.
In a desolate part of planet Galman, a small outpost was the only sign of life for many hundreds of kilometers. The facility was originally built as a training center for the Galman military but it was closed for being too financially inefficient. It was here that the Circle set up their headquarters and launched their terrorist attacks against Desslok's government. Now that the Circle controlled the planet, the outpost had been reduced to a small prison.
There were ten single passenger transport vehicles outside the facility. These hover crafts were used for recreation and for daily patrols of the area. Despite having their engine's power shut off, they remained hovering over the black rocky surface of the planet.
Two of these vehicles had just come over a hill and were approaching the outpost. A Galman soldier was on one and General Shoru was on the other. The two vehicles came to rest and General Shoru and the soldier dismounted. Shoru took a quick survey of the area and wondered what he had done to deserve being sent to such a horrible place.
Once inside the facility, Shoru proceeded to check in with his second in command. He had been given a very small office about the size of a broom closet and his first officer was standing in front of him. He had just finished going over the current personnel assignments.
"General Shoru, would you like to check on the prisoners?"
"Prisoners?" Shoru asked.
"Yes sir. There are two of them," answered the officer.
"I was not informed that there were prisoners here," replied Shoru.
The first officer did not answer and continued to stand at attention.
"Well by all means soldier, let us not keep them waiting."
The two men took a right out of Shoru's office and walked down a narrow corridor. At the end of the hall they took another right and saw two guards at the end of the small hallway with their guns drawn.
"Halt this is a restricted area! Identify yourselves," ordered the guards.
General Shoru was impressed at the soldiers confidence and efficiency. He noticed that the guards were standing watch in front of a very thick steel door. On the door casing was a tiny computer with a touch screen that contained Galman alphabet characters.
"I am General Shoru. Please let me in."
The first officer nodded at the guards and they both stepped aside. He then walked over to the computer and pressed on the screen. The door slowly opened and revealed a corridor about ten meters long by three meters wide. There was a cell enclosed by tinted blue force field on the right and left hand sides of the corridor. Each cell was occupied by only one prisoner. As with the main door to the cell area, each individual holding cell had its own computer screen on the outside wall. Only a secret code would disable the force fields to the cells.
As General Shoru and his first officer entered the cell area, the two prisoners stood to get a better look at their visitors. Shoru recognized them immediately. Shoru looked at Talan and then at Desslok. They had both been stripped of their military uniforms and were wearing gray work outfits. Each garment had small micro processors woven into them to help prevent escape. Through computer tracking, these specially made clothes could be tracked for many miles. Shoru looked at Talan and saw dried blood on his face. It was evidence of Talan's up close and personal meeting with a soldier's rifle. Shoru then looked into Desslok's cell and immediately made eye contact with the former Emperor. Shoru instantly felt intimidated.
"General Shoru this has gone on long enough," said Desslok calmly. "I demand you release us this instant."
Just the sound of Desslok's voice made Shoru weak in the knees.
"Emperor...I mean, Desslok. You do not tell me what to do any longer," answered Shoru uneasily.
Desslok had the General right where he wanted him.
"General Shoru, end this now and I will guarantee your safety."
"I am afraid that is beyond my control," Shoru answered.
In the background, Talan recognized one of the guards. It was the guard who hit him with his rifle. Talan gave the man a little smile. It was one of those 'When you least expect it.' smiles.
"So why have you been sent here Shoru?" Desslok continued. "Surely you should be standing by Plimkin's side through all of this."
"That is none of your business Desslok," snapped Shoru.
Desslok had touched a nerve. He immediately realized that things were not as they seemed.
"General Shoru, if you let us out of here, I will guarantee your immunity. I will also offer you a promotion. You will be one of Galman's great heroes."
Desslok noticed Shoru's hesitation. The seed had been planted.
"My time at this facility is brief. I have come here to tell you both that I do not want any trouble while you are here. If you fail to comply with this simple rule I will make sure you are both shot."
Shoru realized a war of words with Desslok was futile. He turned his back on his former Emperor and left the room. The guards followed Shoru but the rifle guard stole a glance at Talan. Talan smiled at him once again. The guard knew he was on borrowed time as the cell block door slammed shut.
Talan and Desslok sat on their makeshift beds, flat steel platforms covered by a thin blankets. They were anxious to be free and take back their empire, or what was left of it.
"Emperor Desslok, we are in the furthest Galman outpost in sector 7G," said Talan. "Because this facility was not designed as a prison, I can almost guarantee that we are not being monitored in any way. What do we do now?"
Desslok paused for a moment to think about his options. He could rush the guards when they next fed them but that may not be successful. He would be out-manned two to one. He could try to disable the force field in his cell but he would still need to get past the outer cell block door. No, there had to be another way.
"Shoru was assigned here against his will," Desslok finally said. "We must take advantage of that as quickly as possible. After we escape, we will show up in Galman City and expose Plimkin as the traitor! Plimkin has made some fatal mistakes. The biggest of all was allowing us to live."
General Shoru sat behind his desk in his broom closet of an office. The room was very dark and was lit only by the light of a small computer screen on his desk. Shoru was quickly becoming disgusted with his new assignment. The latest in a series of bad news briefings reported that the supply shuttle containing food and provisions for the facility would be three days late. How would he feed his men let alone two prisoners? He opened up a communications link to the Galman Headquarters and Plimkin's face appeared on the small computer screen.
"How is your assignment coming along Shoru?" Plimkin asked.
Just the sight of Plimkin's face made Shoru's skin crawl. If he could, he would have reached right through the computer screen and squeezed the life out of Plimkin's soul. Fortunately for the new Emperor, Galman technology was not that sophisticated.
"Sir, you did not tell me that Desslok and Talan were here," answered Shoru.
"And ruin the surprise?"
"Sir, I have no experience in running a prison and we are not equipped for long term residents," answered Shoru.
"I have faith in you Shoru," Plimkin replied.
"But General Plimkin, We are running out of food."
Plimkin's face turned red with disgust. "It is Emperor Plimkin! Get it straight next time Shoru!"
Plimkin shook his head in disgust. He picked up a small data pad and pressed a button on the screen. After a brief moment, Plimkin smiled and then looked back at Shoru.
"Shoru, Shoru. You disappoint me. I think you need more time to get used to your new assignment. I have officially made your stay in 7G permanent. All future communications on this matter will go through General Weska. He will be your contact here at headquarters from now on. Enjoy your new home General."
Plimkin's face disappeared from the computer screen. In a fit of rage, General Shoru punched his computer screen smashing it to bits. The screen, physically attached to Shoru's desk, was then forcibly removed and thrown against the far wall. A loud thump could be heard throughout the facility followed by the sound of shattering glass.
After a few moments Shoru began to settle down. He sat back in his chair and wiped the perspiration from his face. He pulled out a portable communicator and pressed the send button. Shoru then took a deep breath.
"Soldier, can you come in here please? I need a new computer. This one appears to be defective."