In our last episode, our heroes' ship was destroyed by an Imperial cruiser. They jettisoned successfully but were caught up in a tractor beam.
They were taken inside the airlock, where they were met by a squad of Imperial troopers with blasters leveled. Having no choice, our heroes surrendered. They were taken into custody and interrogated extensively, but they would not divulge the fate of the research. After many fruitless sessions, the interrogator had to report to the captain.
"So they still will not talk?"
"No Captain," the Inquisitor replied. "The Templar's discipline is too strong and the other is an android. None of our usual methods will work on an artificial being."
"Have your engineers tried to hack into his cerebral processors?"
"Yes, sir. However, the information has been encoded and protected. We cannot access it without frying its entire system."
"So? One less Federation robot the better."
"But it would also fry the information, Captain."
"Pity. It appears that there is nothing left to do. Dispose of them."
"Wait, sir. I may have a better idea," replied the Inquisitor with an evil smirk upon his face.
Days later, our heroes were transported to the Imperial planet Xarxes. It was arid, squalid, and brutal. The Xarxians' favorite past time was gladiator games, and Rugen and Tee became the latest participants in this brutal sport. Stripped of their uniforms, fitted with obedience collars, dressed in the traditional breech-cloth of Xarxian gladiators, and armed with rudimentary clubs, they were escorted to the arena by blaster-toting guards. At the entrance to the arena, they were met with an Imperial Interrogator.
"Welcome to your new life, Federation stooges. You will now entertain us, and risk death every day. Of course, there is a way out. Turn over the research plans and I will change your assignment. Oh, you will still be slaves, but I can find you a much less dangerous post."
"Save your breath, Inquisitor, we will not betray the Federation." Rugen retorted.
The Inquisitor snorted, then ordered them to be escorted into the arena.
Rugen and Tee walked into a large, dusty, oval field surrounded by stands. The stands were filled with cheering patrons. Workers were cleaning up the remains of the last bout, shoveling body parts onto a grav sled. Speakers blared and the workers hurried from the field. Then, a door across the field from our heroes opened. Out rushed a swarm of short, bluish creatures with sharp teeth and long claws.
Rugen and Tee stood back to back, fending off the gremlins each time they surged forward. One managed to leap upon Rugen's arm and take a deep bite. Rugen screamed in pain but managed to shake off the beast. Another was able to dig its claws into Rugen's abdomen, tearing away at the flesh before Rugen brained it.
Nevertheless, the clubs of our heroes whittled down the horde's numbers, until only one remained, Finding itself alone, it ran away in fear for its life, but one of the guards blasted it into oblivion with his laser rifle. Rugen, his blood pooling at his feet, and Tee remained standing.
Rifle-armed guards escorted the duo of the field. As they exited, the Inquisitor was there. He ordered the guards to escort Rugen to the medics. "After all, we do not want him to die before his time."
One of the guards was assigned escort duty. Once they got out of earshot of the Inquisitor, the guard whispered, "Have courage. Help is on the way."
Stay tuned for part 2 of the Arena of Xarxes.