Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Escape

And now for our thrilling conclusion

Tee’s diagnostic system quickly repaired the short circuits. He tottered over to his supine friend and began to administer first aid. Rugen’s eyes opened and he spoke: “What happened?”

The princess responded. “Your friend’s last shot knocked out the restraint controls, freeing me to strike down that vermin.”

At that moment, there was a loud pop and smoke issued from the control panel. Alarms went off and more explosions echoed from other parts of the Temple.

“Looks like my shot has shorted the power grid. This whole Temple is going to blow. Let’s get out of here.”

Tee picked up Rugen; he and the princess began to run. Smoldering fires and sizzling conduits filled the hallways with acrid smoke. Occasionally, another explosion pierced the air. Confused guards, panicked worshipers, and freed prisoners fled toward the exits, followed by the trio. They made it without incident out of the temple, through the jungle, and back to their ship. Tee place Rugen in the pilot's chair. 

"Can you fly her?"

"I think so," Rugen responded weakly. He engaged controls and they were off. As they sped through the atmosphere, a flash of light blossomed from the surface as the Temple's power grid exploded.

When their ship reached space, Rugen looked to Tee saying, "OK, Tee. Get us out of here." Tee began making the calculations for the jump into hyperwarp.

"Hmmm. Looks like we have a computer malfunction. I'll have to make repairs."

"Make it quick! We have company!"

Two Imperial scouts were vectoring towards the Templar runabout. Rugen turned the nose of his craft and increased speed. The scouts began firing their lasers, but Rugen was able to evade their wild shots. Tee continued working on the navigation computer. Rugen engaged the automated laser turret, honed in on one of the scouts, and fired. The beam struck the enemy, rupturing the engine. The enemy ship was dead in space.

More laser shots. One struck the runabout. A shower of sparks erupted from the controls. Suddenly, their grav system shorted out. Rugen and Tee were strapped into their command seats, but the princess, standing behind them, suddenly flew up into the ceiling, bumping her head. Rugen returned fire. The enemy erupted in a burst of flame.

"Whew. We're free. How's the computer coming?"

Before Tee could respond, laser fire licked the runabout's hull.

"Another one! Long range but coming fast."

"The computer's fixed." stated Tee.

The enemy scout closed the range while blasting away with its lasers. Rugen returned fire; his shots hit the scout but did no serious damage. The enemy was more accurate, however. Laser fire scorched the Templar ship's hull; computer circuits began to pop.

"Computer's down."

"Holy Temple! Get it working!" Rugen shouted to his partner. He then muttered to himself, "Let's see if I can shake this heretic." Rugen fiddled with his controls and pushed forward on the throttle. The engines whined but the runabout began to outpace the scout. Laser fire flashed harmlessly past the ship. Then the ship rocked, and Rugen felt like he had been thrown back into his seat.

The runabout jumped into hyperwarp, and they were away.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Altar of Death

Part 3 of my Space Templar Adventure

Tee performed a quick diagnostic and repair, then the duo headed down the stairs into the crypts. Proceeding down one hallway, they spotted two guards walking towards them. Rugen leaped at them and with a couple of quick slashes dispatched the surprised minions.

As they continued, they heard growling behind them. Turning, they saw two giant hounds, black as night with glowing red eyes. 

The hounds attacked. Rugen managed to stave off the one lunging at him, but the other locked its massive jaws around Tee's leg. The screech of rending metal pierced the air. Tee tried to shake the beast loose, but it clenched even harder. Rugen dispatched his opponent and came to Tee's aid. His glowing blade plunged between the shoulder blades of the ravening creature, and it collapsed.

Tee performed some additional repairs, although he still displayed a bit of a limp. The heroes pressed on, desperate to find the princess. Suddenly, a woman's scream pierced the air. They ran toward the sound. Another scream! Almost there. Then they burst into a large chamber. In the center of the chamber was a blood-stained altar with long, wavy dagger laying upon it. Suspended above the altar with force field manacles was a woman, stripped to her undergarments. She was in a swoon and reddish welts lined her flesh. Below her stood a robed figure with a pain stick in his hands. A cruel smile spread across his face.

"Too late, Templars," the man spoke as he turned to face the duo. "Soon, her life's blood will feed the almighty Zircon."

"We'll see about that!" Rugen replied as he unsheathed his stun sword.

As Rugen took his first step forward, the High Priest of Zircon held forth his hands. Sizzling bolts of energy shot from his hands. Tee dodged, but the arc of lightning struck Rugen square in the chest. Rugen was transfixed as the surge of energy coursed through his body. Tee fired at the priest. The shot struck its target. The priest staggered back, breaking his electrical death grip on Rugen.

Rugen shook off his wound and leaped to the attack. Weakened by the energy bolt, Rugen was too slow; the priest easily dodged the attack and jabbed the pain stick into Rugen's side. Rugen dropped to his knees as torrents of torture ran through his body and exploded in his brain. The priest laughed at Rugen's misery.

Tee squeezed off another shot. It missed, badly. The energy bolt nearly grazed the princess and struck the rear wall of the chamber. The sound of the shot drew Tee's attention to the wall. He noticed a control panel there. His robotic eyes zoomed in on it and he could make out the controls for the princess' force field. Then Rugen's screams of pain turned his focus back to the battle. He took another shot that hit the priest. Rugen used that distraction. Grunting through the agony, he slashed at the priest, catching him on the arm. The pain stick clattered to the ground.

Rugen stood. The two companions advanced upon their enemy. The priest scowled and spread out his hands. This time, a blast of concentrated air, like the concussion of an explosion, shot forth from Zircon's minion. The blast knocked the heroes to the ground. The priest used the delay to mutter an incantation. Flames licked around him and the wounds upon his exposed flesh visibly receded.

The Templars were back on their feet. Rugen lunged at the enemy, landing another blow. The priest retaliated with another incantation. Rugen' mind felt like it had been stabbed. Pain surged through his brain, knocking him to his knees. The misery continued; it roiled through his body until he could not resist any longer. He sank into unconsciousness.

Tee shot. The bolt whizzed past the priest.

"You missed," the priest scoffed. He pointed his hand. A lightning bolt discharged, striking Tee. The bolt shorted out his circuits; he was paralyzed.

"Now to finish you!" The priest drew a wicked, curved dagger from his belt and advanced upon the prone Templar.

As the priest advanced, he taunted the Templars. "You fools! Did you think you could best me? No one can defeat the servants of Zircon!"

"Wrong!" said the voice from behind the priest.

He spun around. The princess stood behind him, her arm poised to strike with a dagger in her hand. The priests raised his hands to ward off the blow, but it was too late. The dagger plunged into his heart. He dropped to the ground.

Coming up - the Escape!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Into the Temple

Part 2 of my Space Templar Adventure

After the battle with the ape creature, Tee carried Rugen to a small, secluded clearing in the jungle. There, they spent the night while Tee used a med kit to heal his companion's wounds.

The next day, they set out, rested and recovered. They managed to slip by the guards patrolling the perimeter and sneaked into the temple itself. 

The duo managed to blend in among the throng of worshipers, all clad in the same rough-spun cloth.

Ducking into one room to avoid some guards, they found themselves in a room filled with caged prisoners of many races from throughout the galaxy. Many had been beaten and abused. All looked like they had lost hope. Tee motioned Rugen to exit the room. Rugen hesitated. He wished to help, but to release the prisoners would be to risk their mission. One prisoner saw his hesitation and croaked out: "help." Rugen went to the man and spoke briefly with him. He explained that the prisoners were being used as sacrifices to the dark god Zircon. The princess had been there, but recently was taken away. The rest of the prisoners were doomed to share her fate. Rugen decided to act, whatever the cost. They could at least open the cages before they continued their search for the princess. Rugen gave the command and Tee was able to hack into the security grid, opening the cages. Then, they hurried out. Rugen hoped to return to provide more aid once the princess was rescued.

After a few wrong turns, the found the stairs to the crypts. Four guards armed with laser rifles blocked the staircase. There was nothing to do but fight. Rugen switched on his stun sword, leaped at the enemy, and with a spinning attack felled two of the guards. Tee began blasting away with his stun ray. The remaining two guards leveled their lasers and snapped off wild shots, one hitting Tee. The blast burnt through his borrowed robes and scorched his metal skin. Tee returned fire and another guard went down. Rugen faced the last guard, who continued to fire. Rugen dodged the shots, although another hit Tee.

"Back off, Tee!" Rugen commanded his damaged companion. Rugen struck at the guard, slashing his rifle and sending it skidding across the floor. The guard rushed Rugen, burly hands ready to crush the life out of him. Rugen ducked, tripped the guard, then dazed him with his stun sword. Their path to the crypts lay open!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Escape from the Temple of Zircon

Part 1 of a Space Templar Adventure

10,000 years after the adventures of Rowan and Jacor, the Divided Lands are united under a planetary government, which is part of a galactic Federation. Many things have changed - man now travels the stars and aliens walk among us - but the Templars still exist. As in the days of yore, they still work to maintain the peace and preserve justice.

The Princess of one of the Federation planets had been kidnapped. The Templars tracked her to the ancient Temple of Zircon on a jungle world in Imperial territory. Getting her back required a covert operation by a small team. The Templars send in Brother Rugen and his robot sidekick, TSD-95A ("Tee" for short). The following account is culled from the TSD unit's video record.

Rugen and Tee landed their runabout in a clearing a couple of miles from the Temple. From there, they marched on foot through the dense, fetid jungle. Despite the vegetation, they could see the top of the main pyramid towering overhead. As they proceeded, they heard movement ahead. Tee scanned the disturbance, and identified two rat-like natives moving furtively, looking over their shoulders in fear. Rugen stepped out of the brush into their path. They jumped like startled deer, but Rugen reassured them. He learned that they were escapees from the temple. Rugen was able to acquire their worshiper robes so that he and Tee could move unhindered around the temple.

They continued on their way through the jungle until suddenly they heard a massive creature rushing at them. Before they could react, a giant, white ape with six limbs leaped at them. 

Tee was able to duck, but the beast smashed a huge fist into Rugen's face, knocking him to the ground. The beast then grabbed Rugen and proceeded to shake him like a rag doll. Tee tried to line up a shot of his stun beam, but he could not fire for fear of hitting Rugen. The beast proceeded to pound on Rugen. Tee finally snapped off a shot, hitting the beast in the back. In its rage, it slung Rugen across the pathway and into a tree. Badly wounded, Rugen slumped against the trunk. The ape, teeth bared in a frenzy of hate, charged the young Templar. Tee shot; the beast stumbled but kept coming. Suddenly, Rugen flicked on his stun sword and thrust it into the ape's chest. It went down like a malfunctioning anti-grav unit. Rugen gave Tee a smile, then collapsed upon the beast.

The second part of the adventure coming soon!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

An Attack during the Night

An excerpt from Brother Rowan's journal

Last night, we suffered an attack by a party of goblins.

We had been marching north along the Farmer's Road for two days. As evening approached, we came upon a burnt village. Brother Rolf explained that goblins have been raiding the settlements. Wary that they might return, we camped in the fields and lit no fire.

Later that night, we heard the howling of wolves. They grew closer to our camp. We prayed that they would pass us by, but the wolves must have caught our scent. Before we knew it, a bunch of goblins, accompanied by the wolves, attacked. Fortunately, we were ready for them.

Lysa tapped into the power of the earth, causing a tremor that knocked down the foe. In their confusion, she slew one of those bestial humanoids. I anchored the left flank, managing to kill a goblin and a wolf. Brother Jacor, however, was mauled by a wolf. I came to his aid and smote his opponent. Lyla and Snake managed to take down the rest of the attackers.

It is now morning and we are prepared to leave the road and travel westward to the monastery.