Jago: The Millennium Galaxy Race

Reads: 3902  | Likes: 18  | Shelves: 10  | Comments: 25

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 14 (v.4) - Race

Submitted: July 10, 2017

Reads: 52

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 10, 2017

A A A

A A A

Chapter 14: Race

 

No one questioned him. We ran inside, grabbed as much as we could, and set it by the entrance where Cashel was shoveling it in a transport shuttle.

I helped Tammy throw all her stuff in boxes since she wasn’t the fastest packer in the galaxy, and Rei took all the food and some weapons. Kiko had the rest of the weapons and helped Cashel pack it into the ship. There was no room for us so Cashel sent it off, and we waited for another to arrive.

“Aki, did you grab the mineral cutter?” Rei asked suddenly.

“No, I thought you did.”

Rei shook her head, and Kiko quickly ran back inside the apartment.

Another automated shuttle arrived to take us to the spaceport, and we piled in just as a dark shadow covered us. The shuttle vibrated fiercely as a large space ship came down on us.

“Aki, get down!” Rei bellowed toward the apartment.

But Kiko wasn’t listening. Standing in the apartment, ready to leap into the shuttle, she glared at the letters emblazoned on the side of the ship: NAAZKAI.

My breath caught as I watched her. Why wasn’t she moving? “Kiko!” I shouted, but still she stayed motionless. The ship lowered and stopped in front of our place. Cashel looked up at it, then at Kiko, and then us.

“Tammy, get us away from here!” he commanded.

Tammy pressed her glowing hair into the ship’s control board. We whizzed away just as the large ship crashed onto the platform and fired its blasters into our apartment.

BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM.

They were relentless.

“Kiko!” I desperately searched for some sign of her, but it was hard to see anything with the smoke and debris flying everywhere.

“She’s fine,” Rei assured me. “She fled to the upper levels.”

I’d forgotten that she could see through Kiko’s eyes.

Cashel examined the situation. “Tammy, make a pass around.”

I watched through the window as Kiko ran out from an upper level and jumped on top of the attacking spacecraft. Red laser light came from the mineral cutter as she made a hole in their ship and jumped inside.

We finished our pass around and returned to the attacking ship near the hole Kiko made. Inside, we could see a dim yellow light that might have been a service corridor. Smoke hovered around it, fuzzing the image and making it difficult to discern what was happening inside. We waited, watching, wary of the fighting surrounding us and the fire licking towards us from the apartment.

Behind the smoke, a figure appeared, sprinting towards the hole. Kiko jumped up and out, followed by two blaster shots. She leaped the distance to the shuttle, falling into my and Cashel’s arms, and we collapsed in the shuttle, with her secure. The lights in the interior of the large ship flickered, and their blasters powered down. The ship drifted sluggishly towards the ground.

Pressed between Cashel and myself, Kiko breathed heavily, and she stared at the hole in the ship with a fear in her eyes I never knew she possessed. From the hatch, a silhouette appeared against the smoke. A man. No, something larger than a human man. With a leering grin and a body built like it was crudely carved from granite. He stared at the shuttle as they descended, smiling at us, his eyes never leaving Kiko’s, his grin never fading. This was a person Kiko ran from, who had scared her so much she fled back to us instead of taking down the entire ship as she usually would.

Akiko opened her fist, revealing a fuse about the length of a baton, but a bit wider, in her palm. “Powers the main dashboard in the bridge.”

Tammy nodded. “It won’t disable them for long.”

I turned around and saw our apartment ablaze, with people fleeing in terror.

“Who was that?” I asked as Kiko stood up off the two of us and launched the fuse into the burning building. She shook her head.

“Now’s not the time,” Cashel said. “We need to get off this planet.”

Tammy steered us through the collapsing city, which was now a live war zone.

I didn’t understand. “Why are they attacking each other?”

“Eliminating the competition,” Kiko said calmly. “There are no rules to collecting the stones.”

“That’s why we were attacked,” I said.

She shook her head. “Not by him. That had nothing to do with the stones.”

People would put innocent lives in danger for this race. I was starting to see how the world and the galaxy truly worked; I just wasn’t prepared for it to collapse this quickly, and right in front of my eyes.

When we arrived at the spaceport most of it was empty and in ruins. Other racers targeted the larger ships, including the Sola battleship which we technically sold when we first arrived. Luckily the Jago was smaller than most so it wasn’t a main target, but it still looked pretty banged up. I didn’t think I was ever going to see that ship in prime condition, but at least it was in better shape than when we arrived on Crux.

The shuttle we sent with our belongings had surprisingly reached the ship unharmed. Tammy made her way into the Jago as everyone else formed a line and passed the cargo along into the ship before running inside.

Cashel resumed the Captain’s post. “Once we’re in the air we’re going to be a target. Jump on a blaster and defend the ship until Tammy can get us out of here.”

I’m sure the others already knew what to do so he was directing his words more towards me. Rei told me to go on one of the side guns, which was controlled from a small dark room. She was on the other side, and Kiko was in the rear.

The room brightened once I was inside, and all the walls became a map, lit up according to the area that each blaster was capable of firing at. It was like being the eyes of the blaster, and from what I could see, we were about to enter a maze of ships and billowing smoke.

Blasters were forbidden (at least to lowly slaves) on Sola, so I had never used one before. Rei gave me a quick rundown through her soul link. Basically, all I had to do was mark my targets to blast at with a tap—seemed simple enough.

Tammy fired up the engine, and we took off faster than I ever thought this ship was capable of.

“Whoa! Geez!” I said, trying to stabilize myself since I was still standing.

Cashel was right; we became an instant target to any hostile racer in the area. Many ships pursued us, but the dangerous ones were the big ones. They had smaller spacecraft hovering close to them, simultaneously protecting their lead ship and attacking anything that got close.

I stood at the center platform, and a mechanical arm extended from the ceiling. It wrapped two cables snuggly around my shoulders and waist before locking into place with multiple clicks. I could walk and move around freely when needed, but the arm secured me in place whenever the ship rattled or bounced.

The blaster controls were all touch activated. I had to tap a hologram to lock onto my targets and to choose which weapon to fire. That part was simple, but keeping up with all the ships and firing at the right moment was harder. Blasting the small ships, which were smaller, faster targets, was a challenge. On top of that, we had to keep track of the top and bottom of the ship. The good thing was, all the rooms connected to the same system, so even if I missed a ship, Kiko or Rei could catch it and lock onto it—which happened a few times.

The Jago jarred. I know we were hit more than once, but somehow Tammy held it all together. She’d designed a shield that could absorb most of the energy from blasters, but it didn’t work well against projectiles.

Tammy’s voice announced, “Thirty seconds until warp speed.”

It was the longest thirty seconds of my life.

Kiko’s electronic voice warned, “Sarth, there’s a swarm of meedles headed your way. You’ll have to hit ‘em with the ion-charged blasters; nothing else will work.”

I had no idea what meedles were, but a second later the swarm of what I assumed were the quick-juking meedles set their sights on us. They were annoyingly tiny, oblong, golden drones that appeared too small to carry even a single passenger. My guess was that they were controlled remotely from the main ship. Even though they were small and appeared harmless alone, they packed a punch when they swarmed together, as I witnessed when they ravaged a ship with their laser-blasters and left it falling to pieces from the sky.

My fingers frantically dabbed the holoboard, but the meedles were too quick for the slow-charging ion blasters. “C’mon! C’mon!” I muttered.

Pew! Pew! Pew! Pew!

The Jago swayed sideways from the meedles’ volley, and our blaster shield flickered.

“Sarth!” Rei butted in.

I jerked slightly in my harness. “I’m sorry! I’m trying!”

“Just focus on charging the ion blasters,” Kiko said. “I’ll handle the tagging.”

I did as I was told and watched Kiko swiftly lock-on and take out a handful of meedles within a few seconds.

Finally, Tammy’s voice came back. “Prepare to launch.”

The room went dark, and the Jago shuddered under my feet as the chaotic battlefield noise silenced in an instant.

Rei spoke in my head. “You can get out now.”

“Oh … right.” I was still full of adrenaline as I toppled out of the room. My legs were tense and shaky as I made my way over to the flight deck and plopped down at the table.

How had it come to this so quickly? Just this morning we hadn’t a care in the world as we lounged on the couch and a few hours later we barely escaped our apartment alive. I didn’t think we’d be returning to Crux any time soon.

Kiko and Rei walked in, their attention directed to our captain.

“What are we going to do, Cashel?” Kiko asked, getting straight to the point.

His eyes never left the flight deck control panel.

“We’re just going to run away and pretend we didn’t see Crux getting destroyed? What Tiberius tried so hard to protect?” Rei asked in a fury.

Cashel continued examining the control panel in silence, so she gave a huff before she stormed off angrily.

“Kiko,” Cashel asked. “Who was that? On Crux, the ship you broke into. You said that wasn’t about the stones.”

She hesitated, averting her eyes to the floor. “It was Ozias.”

“Ozias?” I asked, butting in from the table behind them.

Kiko looked over her shoulder. “He’s from my home planet.”

Cashel’s face dropped, the lines across his face deepening into a frown. He must’ve known who he was, this Ozias.

“And if it wasn’t about the stones …” I said.

“He was after me,” Kiko admitted.

“After you. Why?”

She sighed. “It’s a very long story. Let’s just say it’s someone we should avoid at all costs.”

“Why? Is he that powerful?”

Kiko nodded. “He could be.”

“Then the stones …” I shook my head.

Her eyes widened, and she froze with a new realization. “You don’t think Ozias is going after the stones, do you?” she asked Cashel.

He had apparently thought about this before because he remained calmly stroking his beard as he said, “We don’t know for sure, but he doesn’t have any advantage over the other racers. What are his odds of winning any time soon anyway?”

 “We should still be careful; that man is powerful and conniving. His resolve to seek power  gained him strength and followers; even beyond our people, his reputation is known by many. What I’m uneasy with the most is what he’s been up to since the last time we met.” She leaned over so her face was hidden from the light as she confided to us under her breath. “When I saw him at the apartment, I could sense his power had risen. It’s grown over the years, steadily fed from ambition and bloodlust.”

Who was this man who had the fearless Kiko on edge? I wanted to know, but asking meant asking about her past, something she’d never been inclined to share.

“Mmm. Then it’s settled,” Cashel declared. “If he has the chance he’ll go after you, Kiko. Our priority is establishing our safety by going into hiding.” Then he went back to his seat next to Tammy and added, “We’re going to Dezner.”

Kiko looked up. “Dezner? Didn’t Crux send a settlement there to mine for ore?”

“Yes. They sent Vero to establish a colony a few years ago,” Cashel said.

“Is it a good idea to hide out there, then? Why do you think we’ll be safe there?”

“Tammy, do a search through the Crux database for Dezner.” Cashel tapped on the flight panels, continuing the Jago’s current course.

We came up behind Cashel to watch in silence as Tammy worked. Strange text flashed faster than my eyes could interpret. It continued until it suddenly stopped, frozen on text that read ‘unattainable.’

Tammy explained. “The planet is new enough that it’s still not in the Crux database as a viable resource settlement planet. Its existence is only known to those who work directly with the colony. The only ones who know of our knowledge of the planet, and can make its location known to the public, are Tiberius and Vero.”

 “Tiberius is gone, and I trust Vero with my life, so there’s no way anyone can find us through them,” Cashel said.

Kiko took a moment before she nodded and left. “I’ll tell Rei.”

I stayed there in silence, watching Cashel and Tammy discuss the new flight route with a practiced exchange of grunts and panel tapping. After a while, I went to wash up and put on extra clothes since I had forgotten how cold it was in space. Something I’d better get used to considering how much time bounty hunters spent traveling through space; but after recent events, were we still bounty hunters? How long would we stay in hiding? And even if we did resume hunting, was there even a Crux left to return to? None of that mattered; all I cared about right now was making sure Kiko was as far away from that man as possible.

#

It was going to take two weeks to get to the planet Dezner, and I was determined to apologize to Kiko before we got there.

I didn’t have to wait long. The next day I was running in the training room when she sprung out from nowhere and asked if she could talk to me.

I was elated—and sweaty and exhausted. “Yeah,” I managed, still gasping for air.

“I’m sorry about my behavior these past few days,” she started.

“No, I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to worry you or make you upset.” I paused to catch my breath. “I just … want things to go back to how they used to be.”

“Yeah. I agree.” She nodded. Then she turned to leave.

“Wait!” I suddenly remembered her gift. I always kept it with me, to be able to give to her at the first chance I had. “I bought this for you. I know you love gazing at the stars.”

I handed her the small black vial with the now brightly glowing star, and her face lit up right along with it. “It’s a—”

“Firestar,” she finished in complete awe.

“Yeah.”

Everyone recognized the stuff I got them, except me. Here I’d thought I was buying random junk.

She gripped it tight in her fist and held it close to her chest. “Thank you,” she whispered, beaming at me.

I couldn’t help but smile. “You’re welcome.”

#

For some reason, time passed slower when traveling through space. Rei and I spent the downtime in the training room, practicing soul linking.

It turned out to be really fun. We spent hours trying to get through obstacles together, and afterwards we played cards from each other’s hands so my brain could get used to seeing through someone else’s eyes. She could only use her power for so long with certain people. For Kiko it was about an hour, but she could soul link with me for almost six hours straight. And as we practiced we were able to keep extending the time.

“It’s probably because your species is very basic,” Rei contemplated. “I can stay in Tammy’s head less than five minutes before I’m pretty much thrown out from her complex thought processes.” She shot a target from across the training room with a projectile blaster using my vision to aim.  “And that was when I made her just sit there and not do anything.”

“What about Cashel?”

She released the magazine, and it popped with a satisfying click into her hand as she thought towards the ceiling. “I can’t link with him at all, though he did say he was able to nullify other species’ powers, so it makes sense that I can’t.”

 “Oh yeah, that’s right.”

It seemed like everyone on the Jago had something in their past they were running from. From the pieces I could grab, I felt like Cashel’s was the most surprising. I never would’ve guessed he was almost a thousand years old. What does someone even do for that long? But that wasn’t even the most shocking thing. There was just no way I could believe his history. I couldn’t see him betraying anyone, let alone his friends.

Is that what this race would do to a person?

#

Another week passed.

Our route to Dezner was a quiet one, and it felt like just a casual trip. I had to remind myself that a huge race was taking place, where billions of racers were searching for four stones.

How would they even begin to search for stones across an entire galaxy? Tammy said it might be possible to track them if they had the right tools and knowledge. I wondered if we could ever track them. We did have someone who’d won before. How long had it taken them to gather all the stones? These questions were pointless to dwell on, but I couldn’t help but wonder occasionally.

“Prepare to enter Dezner’s atmosphere,” Tammy broadcasted.

I left my room and went to the flight deck. This time Kiko and Rei were sitting at the table.

“So, have you guys ever been here before?” I asked.

“Once, about six years ago, when the Jago discovered the planet!” said a giddy Rei.

“You found the planet? Six years ago?”

“Well, technically Tammy found it. The rest of us just explored it,” Kiko said.

I did the math in my head. “How old were you like … eight, Rei? And Kiko, you’ve been hunting since you were twelve?”

Rei gave me a look. “We age twice as slow as humans, so, I looked more like eleven and Kiko was about fifteen.”

I frowned. “Still, that’s pretty young.”

Kiko didn’t look pleased about my last comment, but luckily Tammy bailed me out.

“Sarth, would you sit down, please?” she asked.

I nodded, avoiding Kiko’s stabbing eyes, and did as I was told. From my seat next to Rei, I could see that Dezner was a very green planet, like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was like finding a huge oasis in the vastness of dark space.

We landed in a remote area at the edge of a tree line, with no sign of life nearby. Tammy opened the cargo bay doors, and we exited the ship. Everywhere, everything was green. The only thing contrasting the green was the variety of animals. Furred, four-legged creatures just grazing out in the open without a worry in the world. It was truly a beautiful sight seeing so many different, natural life-forms living in untouched, peaceful harmony on the planet.

From our practice, I could tell Rei was using the nearby creatures to scan the area. “I found something!” she shouted, taking off through the brush.

“Rei!” Kiko yelled, running after her.

I took off as well, following behind them. They were fast, but I was able to keep up. My training came in handy after all. We were headed towards the mountain, slapping through large leaves and plants. It felt so good to run freely again.

Finally, Rei stopped at the base of a mountain where a heavy stream of water was falling out from the side and pouring into a large pool. She didn’t hesitate to take off her boots and utility belt and jump in. Kiko and I sighed and watched her splash about from the side. I was awe-struck at the vast amount of water and how loud it was. It smacked the pool below it with a gushing roar.

“Come in! It feels great!”

Kiko shook her head. “We’re not even here five minutes and you already take off.”

“Aw, come on, Aki! When’s the last time we went swimming?”

Kiko contemplated before giving in and joining her. “Aren’t you coming in?” she asked me.

“Nah, that’s okay. You guys have fun.” I said, trying to sound uninterested.

Kiko read me like a book and gave me a little smile. “You can’t swim, can you?”

Busted.

“Uh, well,” I started, but something drew Kiko’s attention to some bushes off to the right.

“Grab our stuff and hide,” she said to me as she dragged Rei behind the falling water.

I did as she said and hid inside some tall bushes. Less than thirty seconds later I heard leaves rustling and the sound of babbling; then a group of people ran out of the bushes and jumped into the water, splashing and horsing around. I released my breath. It was just a group of kids playing.

One of them by the falling water noticed Rei and Kiko and started screaming.

“Something’s in there!” she screamed. “Behind the waterfall!”

I guess it’s called a waterfall.

I watched closely, wondering how both groups were going to react towards each other.

“What is it?” asked one of the kids.

“Are you sure?” asked another.

Then an older kid, with tufts of golden locks in his brown hair, grabbed the stick he was playing with earlier.

“Guys, get out of the water. I’ll see what it is,” he said.

The others backed away as he slowly approached the waterfall. That was when Kiko and Rei made their appearance. The kids screamed as soon as they saw the water move in their direction. Even the kid with the stick hesitated, but then he raised his weapon and swung. Kiko caught the branch with one hand, their faces still hidden behind the falling water, morphing their identity. That’s when they all started freaking out and splashing to get out of the water.

“Wait! Wait! It’s all right! We’re not going to hurt you!” Rei yelled, but it was too late.

The screaming caught the attention of a strange large beast passing by, and it did not look friendly as it approached us from the bushes, baring its long sharp teeth.

 


© Copyright 2017 Anon Amous. All rights reserved.

Chapters

Add Your Comments:

More Action and Adventure Books

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Anon Amous

Jago: The Millennium Galaxy Race

Book / Action and Adventure

Watch Me Kill

Short Story / Science Fiction

Jago: Terminology Guide

Miscellaneous / Action and Adventure

Popular Tags