THE CHALLENGERS

AND

THE ROBOTS OF DESTRUCTION

Number 3 in The Challengers Series

HOME

Notes about The Challengers and the Robots of Destruction

This was 114 hand-written pages and was written on wide-ruled spiral notebook paper, in pencil. I began writing over the pencil with a pen but stopped after only a few pages. The first line of each chapter is written over in pen.

Page numbers mentioned are in reference to the hand written text, not the typed text.

The beginning and ending dates are listed as “copyright.”

In one place, I list the illustrations are by Van Turner but in another, I say the illustrations are by Allen Turner.

The spacing around the chapter titles is a little inconsistent. It’s either double-double spaced before or simply double spaced.

There is a list of ten Challengers titles at the front of the work. Number four through ten is struck through. Numbers four and five were eventually written but the rest never were.

The dedication was originally written to the BBC production and acting staff and to Terry Nation and the Daleks. It is struck through, though there is another dedication to Terry Nation and the Daleks. In the first dedication, I say that I could not have thought of The Challengers without Doctor Who. While Doctor Who certainly inspired The Challengers to become what it was, the initial idea was mine. However, the Amris were almost directly copied from the Daleks. The story setting and characters is all mine. At the time, someone told me about the concept of plagiarism and the trouble I might have gotten into. At first, I wasn’t worried. Who would know? This was in an era before personal computers or the Internet so the odds of anyone at the BBC finding out about this work were low. I later became worried that I could have gotten into trouble so these works sat in desk drawers for years before making an attempt to type them. These days, I could call it fan fiction and, as I’m not attempting to make money from these works and am giving proper credit due, I’m no longer worried about being charged for plagiarism.

This book seems to be another instance of having issues with capitalization. Not as bad as “The Mission,” though.

Page 5 is completely struck through. I have no idea what was originally there but it is completely obliterated.

The title for part two is struck through in the table of contents but is not struck through in the main body.

There is a major scratch-through in the table of contents. It looks like the original chapter fifteen title was obliterated and a new title is listed below it.

The name of the robot race was originally “Amris” but it has been used in other works as “Amrid,” or “Amrids” in the plural.

I stole more from Doctor Who here than in The Horror of Darkon: the TARDIS, Troy’s outfit (which seems more in line with something one of the Doctors would have worn), and the Daleks (the general idea of which really is more like a mash-up of R2-D2 and the Daleks but with tank tracks).

My writing style in places was definitely influenced by Terrance Dicks. It has a very Doctor Who vibe to it.

This work is another example of me having one-sentence paragraphs in the manuscript. I have worked to correct that in the transcription to the best I could.

My naivety shows in my ignorance of war and how radiation works in the description and dialogue.

I refer to the Starbird Avenger, the ship from The Mission. It was referred to as Starbird in The Horror of Darkon.

I retell the war and invasion story a couple of times in the narrative.

There’s a lot of “walking for ages.”

Page 25 and 26, I speak directly to the reader in the narrative; a writing method I’ve used before. I changed verb tenses, though, in speaking to the reader. I wish I hadn’t done either.

Page 36, there’s a long narrative concerning Joanna’s fandom of Doctor Who, which is strange in a book that outright steals so much from Doctor Who. In one place, I state that Joanna has 111 books and in another that she has 53. I did not correct this.

There are a lot of direct references to Doctor Who in the form of dialogue, especially from Joanna.
 
Page 37, I tell a different story. The starship Traveler is shot down and then the Amris enslave the survivors. In the written text, “Traveller” is spelled with 2 Ls. I have corrected it in the transcription.

Page 48, Joanna has a thought to herself that’s in quotation marks as if it’s spoken aloud but it isn’t.

Page 49. Written in pen are lines written directly at or to the reader. In a play or television, it’s breaking the fourth wall. Truly wish I had not done this.

It seems to take an extraordinarily long time for the Amris to find Troy and Joanna.

Page 51, I used “slaveship” as a word. I changed it to “slavery” in the typed text.

Page 56, I spelled Clarence “Clairence.” I didn’t change this in the typed text.

Page 57, I added a layer to the history of the war that destroyed the two cities, Rentoro and Minerva, with a storyline of Arbegla being the Amris’ home world.

Page 58, I left out “ship” of “spaceship.” Above that, I go into some detailed description of Sheila and mention her sparking blue eyes twice.

Page 66, I describe Troy’s plan in a way that makes it sound like the Amris would destroy their own equipment.

Page 67, in reflecting how Troy had met Joanna, I mention Gallifrey. In The Mission, I had initially called it Gallifrax, a combination of Gallifrey and Calufrax. These were two planets from Doctor Who and probably in an effort to seem a little clever and also to try to avoid direct plagiarism I combined the names. I later changed it back to Gallifrey, deciding that the direct reference was okay in the name of fandom, and never intending to publish these stories.

Page 68. Robin is in the scene, yet she fell when climbing the wall on page 64. There’s no mention of her having survived the fall or having climbed the wall or running to the ship.

Page 74. Robin and Ratanda hand out laser guns to the former slaves. I make no mention where the guns came from. Perhaps it can be assumed that the ship had a weapons storage area.

Page 74. Troy pulls out his Scetza blaster. He’d had it the whole time. Why not use it earlier when dealing with the Amris?

Page. 76. The resistance just randomly finds canteens while walking through the desert.  Convenient.

Page 77. Had written inclinement instead of incline. Corrected it in the typed version.

Page 78. It actually started a few pages before but “let’s go” seems to have become the phrase of choice. I use it several times.

Page 79. It seems like the recharging banks are in the Amris leader’s quarters. Also, why would the Amris need individual quarters?

Page 90. Troy refers to the Scetza weapon as a “multipurpose stun gun.” This is odd, as he goes on to list that it can stun, paralyze, kill, and destroy. Maybe a better descriptor would be “this weapon has four settings.”

Page 94. I had written that Nikki was Sheila’s older sister but crossed out “sister” and wrote “cousin.”

Page 107. Troy had an extra Scetza weapon, previously unmentioned, in his pocket the whole time.

Page 108. It seems like my favorite description for the destruction of the Amris is “exploded in a mass of flames.” I used it a lot.

Page 108. I state that there are only 100 Amris where I don’t think I mentioned an absolute number of them before.

Page 109. The Traveler has phaser banks but the cannon fired lasers.

Page 111. The Traveler’s cannons malfunctioned and Robin states that Troy and Nikki are on their own. The story of the former slaves ends here with no resolution. The reader has no way of knowing if the characters make it to Earth or what becomes of Joanna. Biggest dangling plot and character thread ever.

Page 113. The last Amris runs out of power and it is stated that the Amris are all dead. I think I had intended for it to twitch or something after Troy left, leaving the reader to wonder if the Amris were really dead. I had grand schemes to bring them back in a later book that never happened.

Page 114. Troy goes to the far side of the control room and pulls a lever. Should probably read that he went to the far side of the control console.

The other major dropped plot point was what were the Amris digging for?

 

SHORT STORIES
POETRY
NOVELLAS
ILLUSTRATIONS
PHOTOGRAPHY
INCOMPLETE
ABOUT ME
CREDIT
LINKS
 

 

The Challengers and the Robots of Destruction
By Van Turner, writing as Allen Turner
Illustrations by Van Turner

Number 3 in “The Challengers” series

Others

  1. The Mission
  2. The Horror of Darkon
  3. The Robots of Destruction
  4. The Ring of Death
  5. The Scetza Invasion of Earth
  6. The Barak Invasion
  7. The Wheel of Infinity
  8. The Lemrebic
  9. Geotra The Gindu Conspiracy
  10. The Warriors of Time

Illustrations by Allen Turner

For the BBC Production and Acting Staff in connection with Doctor Who and for Terry Nation and his Daleks. Without Doctor Who, I could never have thought of The Challengers and without the Daleks, the Amris would never exist.

Began:  March 13, 1985
Completed:  May 16, 1985

CONTENTS
Part One:  Not a Person in Sight
Chapter One:  The Planet
Chapter Two:  The City

Part Two:  Discovery
Chapter Three:  The Ship
Chapter Four:  The Amris

Part Three:  Trouble
Chapter Five:  Slaves of the Amris
Chapter Six:  The Resistance
Chapter Seven:  Escape to Danger

Part Four:  A Chance to Talk
Chapter Eight:  The Plan
Chapter Nine:  Putting the Plan to Work
Chapter Ten:  Captured

Part Five:  A New Life
Chapter Eleven:  The Second Escape
Chapter Twelve:  The Battle Begins
Chapter Thirteen:  Escape to Earth

Part Six:  A New Companion
Chapter Fourteen:  The End of the Amris
Chapter Fifteen:  Depature

Pictures on pages 11, 18, 33, 58, 82, 100, and 105.


Part One: Not a Person in Sight
Chapter One
The Planet

 

            The scene, again, was one of the future. Even though much of the city had been destroyed in a war with another city, destroyed, it still had an air of elegance and sweet charm.
            The war had ended several years ago, but no one took the time to try and rebuild the city. There was a good reason. All but a few handfuls of people that survived the hundred-year war were constantly on the run from each other and were very scared of their rulers.
            The rulers of the city, and the planet, were a race of robots. Shaped like pepper pots with toothpicks in the top and side, the Amris remind us of another race of robots – the Daleks!
            The survivors were enslaved by the Amris, They had to be if they didn’t want to be “eliminated,” as the Amris would say. The slaves had to dig through the rubble to find their lost city. A group of slaves was toiling through their chores as set by the Amris.
            After the last group of slaves had gone back to their underground prison cells, everything was quiet. The fields of ruin were empty.
            Then there was a wheezing, groaning noise and a tall, brown tool shed appeared from nowhere. The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) had arrived. The door slid open and a tall, muscular, elegantly dressed young man of about twenty-five with brown hair and eyes stepped out.
            He was wearing checkered pants, a white, ruffled shirt, and a long black smoking jacket. This was Troy Star.
            He was followed by a short, equally elegant young woman of about the same age. She wore brown dress pants, a checkered shirt, and a short, red jacket. This was Joanna Berckley.
            “Well,” said Troy. “What do you think?”
            “I don’t like it,” Joanna answered. “Where are we?”
            “Somewhere in space and time,” he answered dismissively.
            Joanna wasn’t to be put off.
            “In other words, we’re lost.”
            “We’re not lost,” said Troy innocently. “I just don’t know where we are.”
            “You drag me off through space and time and you don’t even know where we are!” Joanna screamed.
            “I have a general idea,” said Troy calmly.
            “I think I read about a war similar to this in my “Universe History Three” book. I think this is Arbegla.”
            “A war?” questioned Joanna. “A war did all this?”
            “Yes.”
            “How can you be so sure?” asked Joanna.
            “Look at these holes,” he said, pointing at numerous holes in the ground.
            “Bomb craters?”
            “What else? I figure this war ended several years ago.”
            “What gives you that idea?”
            “I don’t feel the heat of radiation.”
            “Maybe they didn’t use nuclear weapons,” suggested Joanna. “Maybe they used…” she looked around and found what looked like a sub-machine gun, “laser weapons,” she completed.
            “Could be,” said Troy.
            “Could be?” Joanna glared at him. “What do you mean, “could be”? This is a laser weapon of some sort, isn’t it?”
            Troy took the weapon from her and looked at her.
            “Primitive,” he said thoughtfully. “Light weight, compact, but sufficient enough to kill a person. Definitely a laser weapon.”
            “I thought so,” said Joanna. “I know a laser weapon when I see one.”
           “How could you possibly know as laser weapon when you see one?” Troy asked. “The only laser weapons you’ve seen are the Drymiss’ weapons, the Scetza’s weapons, the Starbird Avenger’s cannons, Darkon’s bodyguards’ weapons, and Darkon’s personal blaster. So how could you know a laser weapon when you see one?”
            “I’ve been with you long enough to identify different weapons by sight?”
            “Oh?”
            After a long silence, Troy said they ought to find someone – anyone – to explain where they are. Joanna agreed and they set off trying to find someone to explain where they were.
            After walking for what seemed like hours, Troy suggested they rest.
            “But it’s getting dark out,” protested Joanna. “Maybe we should go back to the TARDIS.”
            “We’ve walked too far to turn around and walk back,” said Troy. “Besides, I’ve never been camping.”
            “Are you suggesting we sleep out here?” asked the very much-astonished Joanna. “Are you crazy?”
            “Yes, I am suggesting we sleep out here, and no, I’m not crazy.”
            Joanna could see he was serious.
            “We don’t have sleeping bags,” she said, hoping he’d say that they could go back and get some. She was to be disappointed.
            “So,” said Troy, “we’ll just sleep on the ground.”
            “But the insects…” Joanna began.
            “If you don’t bother them,” Troy interrupted, “they won’t bother you.”
            “I’ve heard that one before! My mother said that about bumblebees. I did what she said and I still got stung!”
            “Maybe the bee didn’t like you!”
            “That’s exactly what she said! You and my mother would definitely enjoy each other’s company.”
            “Look,” said Troy calmly, trying to reassure Joanna. “All you have to do is lie down like this,” he said, lying down on the ground, “and curl up in a ball,” he said, curling himself up in a ball, “and go to sleep!” he said, falling asleep.
            Joanna was furious. She hated it when she had been outdone by a cosmic hobo.
            “Now, what was that the Doctor would say to Tegan?” she thought.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            In an underground prison cell, a female prisoner named Robin had been worrying about something else. She, like Joanna, couldn't sleep. Robin was a tall, dark haired, dark skinned woman of about thirty with brown eyes. She wore the simple brown tunic of the slaves.
            Robin didn’t like being a slave of the Amris. But like it or not, she had no choice. She didn’t like being a slave but appreciated the fact that the Amris took good care of their slaves.
            As a child, she had been told of how the war ended, with the Amris as the winners. She was told of how a brave group of people called “the resistance” had destroyed many of the Amris. The story always ended the same way with the Amris destroying the resistance. It wasn’t comforting to know that such a group didn’t exist.
            It had been a story to tell children and that was all it was meant to be. The resistance never existed and it never would. Or would it? A plan was beginning to form in Robin’s head. It might be suicide, but it was better than being a slave.
            Her plan might work.
            Confident her plan would work, Robin had something to think about it and went to sleep.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            The next morning when Troy awoke he found Joanna already awake. She was slipping her high heels on.
            “Good morning,” he said.
            “What’s so good about it?” she asked angrily, brushing the dirt from her brown hair.
            “It’s a glorious morning!” said Troy. “The sun is high…” He looked up. “Excuse me. The suns are high and shining brightly. Both of them.”
            “I still want to go back,” she said. “But we’ll find out where we are, first, if it’ll satisfy you.”
            “I’m satisfied. Let’s go.”
            They stood up and began to make the long walk to find anyone that could tell them where they were.
            After walking for what seemed like ages, Troy and Joanna decided to rest. Troy looked at his watch and was surprised to see they had walked only forty-five minutes. Soon they were rested. Troy and Joanna continued their long walk.
            “What are we going to do when we find out where we are?” asked Joanna.
            “That rather depends on the circumstances, doesn’t it?” Troy asked sarcastically.
            “I guess.” Joanna shook her head in a mocking way when Troy wasn’t looking. Then she asked, “What do you mean, ‘circumstances’?”
            “Remember our last two trips?”
            Joanna shook her head.
            “We were in rather bad circumstances when the Drymiss* had us trapped in that corridor. And when the Thackra* had us trapped in the moat. We could end up in worse circumstances if the natives, if any, of the planet don’t like visitors.” (*See The Challengers and the Mission. *See The Challengers and the Horror of Darkon.)
            Joanna knew he could be right.
            Troy was right. He was about to meet his most deadly enemy.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Robin and the other slaves were carrying out the orders of the pepper pot shaped Amris. She had told a few of her fellow slaves of her plan to form a resistance. When Robin mentioned the word “resistance” the slaves would hurry away from her.
            It was obvious that old stories of the original resistance were true.
            The Amris had been there for one hundred forty years. They wiped out both the Minervan and the Rentoran cities without effort. The two cities had been warring when the Amris arrived. The resistance was formed and destroyed.
            Robin’s idea did catch a few listeners. Some of the other slaves agreed that they needed a resistance group of some sort. When the slaves that didn’t agree heard Robin and her followers they would run away.
            Robin only had six people, counting herself, in the resistance group. Six people would be enough. She had the group, now she needed a plan that they would agree to. Robin sat down to think but an Amris pointed to her and said, “Get to work or you will be eliminated!”
            Robin hated to deep, grating, unbroken tones of the Amris’s perfect English. Robin and the other slaves spoke English as well. Most of their ancestors were from a small, over-populated planet called Earth.
            None of the slaves had ever seen Earth and rarely spoke of it. The slaves’ job was to dig until they found the spacecraft that their ancestors came to this planet in.
            The planet’s name is Arbegla.
            The Earth was beginning to get crowded so scientists built a spaceship to travel long distances. To ship them to Arbegla where it crashed. A city was built. Minerva. There was a disagreement and Rentoro was built. The twin cities went to war and destroyed each other. The Amris invaded and took over the two cities. The people were made slaves.
            That had been one hundred forty years ago. One hundred forty years too long.
            Robin was tired of being a slave. She had the people and a plan was beginning to form in her mind.
            Robin was tired of being a slave and was going to put a stop to it.

CHAPTER TWO
THE CITY

 

            Troy and Joanna had been walking for what seemed like ages. Troy told Joanna it had been two hours since they woke.
            “I’m wacked!” said Joanna. “Can we rest?”
            Troy fell forward and landed on his hands only inches from the ground. He turned over on his back and said, “I thought you’d never ask.”
            Joanna sat on the ground beside him.
            “Are you alright?” she asked worriedly.
            “Right as rain,” he answered. “Just bushed.”
            “What time is it?”
            “My watch has ten o’clock,” he answered. “But since we’re on another planet, it could be any time of day or night. This planet does have twenty-four hour days like Earth. The temperature dropped twenty degrees last night. A bit cold but pleasant. I’d say it’s eighty-five degrees now.”
            “Eighty-five degrees!” Joanna exclaimed questioningly. “I’ll get a sunburn. I burn easily, you know.”
            “I know. You’ve told me.”
            Troy stood up and looked around. His attention was caught by something metal protruding from the ground. He pointed it out to Joanna and said, “What does that remind you of?”
            Joanna looked the metal box with one open side. It was at least eight feet tall. Joanna walked around it. The box was about twenty feet long and ten feet wide. The single opening was about seven feet tall and nine feet wide. The opening looked like there had been doors on it, now ripped off the hinges. She looked down into the opening. She could see stairs leading down into darkness.
            “Well?” said Troy. “What does it remind you of?”
            “It looks like a subway entrance,” Joanna answered.
            “And do you know why it looks like a subway entrance? Because it is, or was, a subway entrance. Now, let’s see where it goes.”
            ”Hold on, Troy!” said Joanna firmly. “I don’t fancy going down into subway entrances. I don't like subways.”
            “What do you like?” Troy asked.
            “A lot of things!” Joanna shouted indignantly. “One of those things is life. If we go in there, we might get killed.”
            Troy tut-tutted and walked into the doorway. He looked down and saw the stairs leading into darkness. He took a step down onto one of the concrete stairs. The stair crumbled under his foot and he slipped. Troy fell backwards, landing on his elbows. He got up and brushed himself off.
            Troy looked at Joanna. She was laughing.
            “I knew you should have gone on a diet,” she laughed.
            “I knew you’d say that,” said Troy indignantly. “Come on. I’ll try again.”
            “You don’t learn from experience, do you?”
            “No, I don’t! Are you coming?”
            “I’ll regret it, but yes, I’m coming.”
            They began to walk down the concrete steps.
            Joanna asked, “Why did that step crumble?”
            “It was old,” Troy answered.
            “Wouldn’t the others be as old?”
            “Yes, I’m afraid so. That’s a very good and interesting point. But a nasty thought.”
            Just then a step under Joanna’s foot crumbled. She slipped and fell forward, knocking Troy off balance. Troy stepped on a step and it crumbled causing him to fall. He and Joanna fell down and tumbled down the long flight of concrete stairs.
            They landed at the end of the staircase and bumped their heads on a wall. Troy and Joanna were knocked out.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            In the underground base of the Amris, a light flashed on a control panel.
            “There are intruders in the entrance leading to the Base, Leader,” said the Amris manning the panel.
            “Send a patrol to investigate,” said the Amris Leader. “If the intruders are found, they are to be eliminated unless considered worthy of being a slave.”
            The Amris turned back to the control panel and spoke into a microphone. “Amris Patrol Six to investigate Section Nine,” said the Armis. “Suspect intruders. Eliminate if not worthy of being slaves.”
            The voice of the patrol leader came back over a loudspeaker. “Patrol Six investigating. Out.”
            The loudspeaker cut off.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            “We are to investigate Section Nine,” the patrol leader told his patrol. “Suspect intruders. Eliminate if not worthy of slavery.”
            “We obey,” came the chorus of voices.
            The patrol glided out of the room toward Section Nine. Section Nine is where Troy and Joanna are knocked out. They didn’t know what they were in for.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Good news and bad news.
            Good news:  Troy and Joanna are awake.
            Bad news:  They don’t know about the Amris Patrol. But what they do know fascinates them.
           They were standing among many tall, brown clay cliff dwellings, like those of the Pueblo Indians. Troy walked into one and found metal furnishings. Joanna followed him and was just as confused.
            “What are the chances of finding metal furniture in clay houses?” Troy asked curiously.
            “About a million to one,” said Joanna, thoroughly confused, “or less. This is definitely a strange planet. What did you say the name is?”
            “I didn’t. But it looks like Arbegla.”
            “A lost colony of explorers. It was said they got in a fight and built two cities, Minerva and Rentoro. They had a war and destroyed each other. And…” He stopped, trying to think of what happened next.
            “And?” said Joanna.
            “And that’s where the story ends.”
            “Was it an Earth colony?”
            “Yes. The third colony lost on Arbegla in 2971. The Earth government sent a team of people. The first colony was lost to the Interplanetary Mining Corporation. The second to something called Daleks. And this one to a civil war.”
            There was silence, then a rumbling. The ground began to quake.
            “Earthquake!” shouted Joanna.
            “Wrong. Arbegla-quake!” corrected Troy.
            Just then a piece of the roof fell in. There were streams of sand coming down from the roof and walls. Troy and Joanna were thrown off balance.
            “This is getting preposterous!” shouted Troy.
            “Tell me about it!” Joanna shouted back.
            The quaking subsided after a while. Troy and Joanna rose up off the ground. They looked around them. The metal furnishings were unharmed. Troy cleaned off a high-backed chair, pulled a foot stool in front of it, sat down and propped his feet up. Joanna knocked Troy’s feet off the stool and sat down.
            A little shakily she said, “That was too close for comfort.”
            “Tell me about it,” Troy agreed, equally shaken.
            “What is, or was, this place?” Joanna asked.
            “It was a meeting place like the United Nations building. Nothing but junk now.” Troy fished an old, white, wide-brimmed hat and put it over his face. “Rocks and sand,” he said, bored.
            He rose up suddenly, took the hat off his face and stared Joanna right in the eye and said, “I tell you there’s something fishy about all this! It’s like I’ve seen it all before.”
            Joanna knew what this meant. She had been through it before. Troy and she would land on a planet in a time where things were in chaos. They would look around, Troy would remember something like it, or would say he did, and wouldn’t be satisfied until he found out what was going on.
            It was known to Troy as “scientific curiosity.” It was known to Joanna as “curious blundering” or an “adventurous streak.” She hated his “scientific curiosity.” It usually got them in trouble. Troy’s next action proved her right.
            He was scratching his right cheek with his left hand. This meant trouble.
            Just then, the rumbling started again. Another piece of the roof fell. It hit Troy on the head. He fell to the ground. Joanna ran over to him. He was knocked out.
            Just then, another piece fell and hit Joanna, knocking her out. The roof caved in, burying Troy and Joanna in a heap of rocks.

PART TWO:  Discovery
CHAPTER THREE
THE SHIP

 

            While Troy and Joanna were buried in a pile of rock and resistance was growing stronger, the Amris Patrol was getting closer. But at the moment, they’re clearing rocks from their path. Soon they had the path half clear and were on their way to investigate the intruders (Troy and Joanna).
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Robin had no idea of what her fellow conspirator was babbling about.
He had told her of the intruders and the six-member Amris Patrol going to investigate. Now he was telling her about the earthquake and the cave-in.
            “There was an earthquake – a long one – and the roof fell in,” the tall, brown-haired, blue-eyed young man was telling her.
            “What of the Amris Patrol?” asked Robin. “And the intruders, Ratanda. What happened to them?”
            “I guess the intruders were killed,” answered Ratanda. “The Amris Patrol is on its way to Section Nine.”
            “Section Nine,” said Robin thoughtfully. “That’s the entrance to the base!” she exclaimed. “How could any of us get to the front door? And why?”
            “I don’t know,” said Ratanda. “Unless it’s not any of us I haven’t the faintest idea.”
            “Are you suggesting that someone from another planet has come to Arbegla?”
            “Yes. It could be possible, you know. This is what the Amris have always feared. These people may be from Mother Earth. They could have come here to help us.”
            “How could they know that we’re still alive? And if they are from Earth, how will they be able to help us without being eliminated?”
            There was a strange silence. Then Robin spoke.
            No. It’s impossible. Even if it was, they can’t help us now. They’re dead. Well, it was good while it lasted.”
            An Amris came trudging out into the work area.
            “The rest period is over. Get to work or…”
            “You will be eliminated,” interrupted a slave. “We’ve heard you say that so many times we’ve memorized it. Now go report to you superiors.”
            The Amris was not angry (they have no emotions) but it didn’t like the attitude of this man.
            “You will step forward and present your name and age,” grated the Armis.
            The slave stepped out of the speechless group.
            “Dayton is my name. I’m forty-seven years old.”
            “The forty-seven years of your life have been for nothing if you interrupt me again. You will, undoubtedly, interrupt me again. You will be eliminated!”
            The gun stick in the center of the Amris’ chest raised and pointed at Dayton.
            “Any place is better than this hell hole. Even death. So, eliminate me, you overgrown trash can.” Dayton was normally nervous. But this side of him was new to Robin. Dayton had joined the resistance. And now this cool side of him and his membership to the resistance was to be cut short by an Amris gun.
            The gun roared and a blue ray shot out and hit Dayton in the chest. For a moment he seemed to glow with an iridescent quality. He fell to the ground. He writhed for a moment and became very still. Dead.
            Now you’ve seen the power of the Amris.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy and Joanna woke up and unburied themselves. Joanna was unharmed but Troy’s left knee was twisted so he had a limp. They had been walking for thirty minutes, still unaware of the Amris Patrol closing in on them. Troy’s knee slowed them a bit, but not too much.
            Joanna noticed more pieces of metal protruding from the ground. While walking she notice something like a part of corridor. Troy noticed it had an open door frame in one side. Behind the corridor was something like an airplane wing.
            Troy decided to investigate. He stepped through the frame and stared in absolute disbelief and awe. This was no corridor. This was a spaceship – and a large one at that. Joanna stepped in behind Troy and reacted the same way.
            “What in the world!” Joanna exclaimed.
            “A passenger ship,” he said. “The one that brought the Earth colony here – to Arbegla.”
            “And by the look of it – to their deaths,” said Joanna looking at the wrecked controls. “The pilot must have gone blind. This ship is completely destroyed.”
            “But not by the pilot,” said Troy thoughtfully. “These ships don’t need pilots. They’re controlled by computer.”
            “Then the computer malfunctioned.”
            Troy limped over to a control lever and pulled it back. It came out of its socket. Troy raised an eyebrow.
            “This was done after they crashed.”
            “How do you know they crashed?”
            “They couldn’t very well park in here.”
            Joanna remembered they were underground.
            Troy threw the lever down and picked up a machine gun-like object. Another laser weapon. The same kind of weapon Joanna had discovered in the long walk across the ruins-strewn desert. He threw it at one of the computer banks that lined walls of the ship.
            The gun hit it and they exploded in a mass of smoke and electric crackling.
            “That proves it!” he shouted. “This ship was shot down and the crew and passengers were either killed or captured. Then the controls were wrecked so they couldn’t escape! I wish I had paid more attention to Doctor Shadner!”
            “Doctor…” Joanna began.
            “Don’t ask!” interrupted Troy.
            “Why not?” Then it dawned on her. Troy was making fun of her knowledge of a British TV show called “Doctor Who.”
            She glared at him.
            He grinned back at her.
            She smiled and Troy gave her a kiss on the cheek.
            Joanna had told Troy she had a good number of “Doctor Who” books – one hundred eleven to be exact – and had seen Tom Baker’s “Robot” seven times. She told him she seen “Robot” through “Logopolis” in the Tom Baker era and “Castrovalva” through “The Caves of Androzani” in the Peter Davison era at least twice.
            Troy wasn’t impressed – even though he had read a good number of her books – all fifty-three. Troy liked Jeffrey Lord’s “Richard Blade.”
            There was another crackling sound at the computer bank as the one beside the one Troy hit came to life. It spat out yards of print out paper.
            Troy picked up the end it and fed it into a computer bank. The log recorder. He and Joanna listened to the voice on the tape.
            “Starship Traveler, Captain Johnathan T. Klinger speaking,” the voice said. “The year is 2971 and we have just been blown down by the Amris. We have crashed in an underground cavern. The Amris are comin to enslave us.” The captain’s voice was shaking. “The door has opened. They want me to move away from the recorder. I’ll feed the records into the Central Register and the Random Access Memory. I’ve told them I was turning the power off. They don’t believe me. They’re coming closer.”
            They heard a grating unbroken voice yell, “Eliminate!” There was a high-pitched whine. The captain screamed. Troy heard a thud. Another pitched whine. A muffled explosion and the sound of the tape ending. Then the tape whirred to a stop.
            “The Amris!” said Troy disgustedly.
            “Do you know ‘em?” Joanna asked.
            “Not personally. But I studied about them in Universe History. They’re a lot like the Daleks. They kill anything they consider a threat. I think they’re still here. They may consider us a threat. We could end up dead.”
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy’s discovery was unknown – but extremely important – to the resistance. If Robin knew what Troy had discovered, and told the other slaves, she would have at least fifty more on the side of the resistance.
            Robin was still trying to come up with a logical plan – but was getting nowhere. She still had a long way to go. Counting herself, there were only seven members of the resistance.
            “Some resistance,” she thought as she lifted a large piece of stone. The stone slipped and hit her foot. Robin gave a cry of pain that brought an Amris to her side.
            “What has happened?” it asked in sort of a concerned way.
            Robin considered the Amris. She thought if it was concerned about her health it would take her to the infirmary it would have her foot mended. The Amris would let her rest until she could work again (two hours).
            “What has happened?” it grated again.
            “I dropped a stone on my foot,” she answered looking down at her foot and then to the Amris’ eyestalks.
            “Can you work?”
            “I don’t know” she lied. The stone didn’t hurt her as much as it surprised her. “I think I may have broken it.”
            “You must go to the infirmary for X-rays and treatment if necessary.”
            Robin was taken to the infirmary. An Amris physician examined her front and said the bones were bruised. Robin’s foot was bandaged and she was told to lie down in the sick room.
            While Robin rested, the Amris Patrol was still getting closer to Troy and Joanna. They were unaware of the Amris Patrol. But soon they would find the reason behind the Amris invasion of Arbegla. Sooner than they expected!

 

CHAPTER FOUR
THE AMRIS

 

            The Amris Patrol had cleared the fallen rocks and was on its way to arrest of eliminate the intruders. But now it had run into another problem - solid rock wall. There was a piece of round rock protruding from the wall.
            The Amris Patrol Leader turned the rock with a pincer hand. The rock wall slid back to reveal a smooth path leading – no doubt – to the ship (and to Troy and Joanna).
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy and Joanna took the flight recorder from the ship and began to walk back to the TARDIS. Troy decided he was going to find out what was so important to the Amris on Arbegla that they destroyed an Earth colony.
            Joanna had tried to talk him out of it. Troy wouldn’t listen. He was determined. But she was thankful – a little – when they reached the cement staircase. It wasn’t there.
            They guessed it had fallen because of the earthquakes, or Arbegla-quakes as Troy called the tremors. They turned back and walked to the ship – hoping to stay the night. Troy was anyway. Joanna was now angry with the earthquakes.
            Troy and Joanna reached the ship and went inside. Troy set about fixing the console with what tools he had. A sonic screwdriver, a laser torch, a scalpel, a prick, some nails, a hammer, and some insulated wire – about fifty meters of the stuff. All this was stuffed in his smoking jacket pocket.
            It took he and Joanna to get the console panel off the console table. They eventually got the panel off and Troy set about repairing as much as he could with what he could.
            All he had to help him was his memory of starships and a sixty-year diary. Troy looked through it and found what he was looking for:  some information on what it took to repair a sentichronic diolope. It took a sonic torch.
            “I’ll have to adapt the sonic screwdriver to the laser torch,” he announced.
            His voice startled Joanna, who clasped her hands over her chest and gave a sigh of relief. Troy grinned at her. She smiled back.
            “T’salright,” she said calmly.
            He kissed her on the cheek again – closer to the lips this time.
            Joanna was starting to think maybe Troy was in love with her. She hoped not. Not this soon. Joanna had only known him for a month. Certainly he couldn’t be in love.
            Troy got to work on the console. All that could be seen of him were two long legs and a pair of wriggling feet. The rest of him was in the console. There was a high-pitched whine, then a bang and a flash. Troy came out from under the console like greased lightning. He was desperately trying to beat a small fire on his jacket.
            Joanna saw the small fire getting larger and pulled the jacket off Troy and stomped the small fire out. She picked up the jacket and handed it back to Troy.
            He took it from her gratefully.
            “Thank you ever-so-much!” he said slipping the jacket back on.
            Normally she would have said it was all in a day’s work, but she was sniffing something in the air.
            Smoke!
            “I don’t think we’re out of trouble yet! Look! The console’s on fire!”
            Troy looked around and found a small fire blanket and smothered the fire.
            “What’s next on our list of catastrophes, Johnny?” Joanna asked the air. She was making an impression Bob Barker asking Johnny Olsen who the next contestant was for “The Price is Right” game show.
            “Don’t ask,” said Troy. “I don’t want to know.”
            “Me either,” she sighed as she sat down behind the console. She was in the Captain’s chair.
            Neither of them knew that the fire had done more help than harm. The fire had also damaged the distress call receiver/transmitter. Right now it was sending out a distress call – on the frequency of the Amris.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            The damage was done.
            The Amris Patrol received the distress call and was proceeding toward the ship to capture or kill Troy or Joanna. An Amris was telling the Patrol Leader of the distress call.
            “A distress call was received by Unit Seven. Seven said it matches the distress signal of the Earth Starship Traveler. The memory banks of Control Central state the same.”
            The leader turned to face the Amris.
            “Then the intruders are in the ship,” it grated.
            The leader then spoke to all the other units.
            “All units. Attention all units. All units are to proceed to the Earth Starship Traveler. I will report to Control Central. Unit Seven will lead. If the intruders are there, they must be arrested or eliminated. Again, Unit Seven will judge. Proceed to Earth Starship Traveler.
            With that as its last words, the Patrol Leader turned and glided in the opposite direction.
            Unit Seven took the lead and said, “Follow.”
            The Amris Patrol was getting even closer to Troy and Joanna. Soon Troy and Joanna would see if he and Joanna “could end up dead!”
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy had the majority of the controls fixed. He was testing them now. He had made a checklist and Joanna was reading the list aloud.
            “Primary generators,” she read.
            “Check,” came Troy’s reply.
            “Secondary generators.”
            “Check.”
            “Generator system.”
            “Check.”
            “Primary engines.”
            “Check.”
            “Secondary engines,” said Joanna.
            “Check,” replied Troy.
            “Log recorder,” requested Joanna.
            “In your pocket,” was the reply.
            Joanna paused. “Engine system,” she continued.
            “Check,” came the bored reply.
            “Radar systems,” sighed Joanna.
            “Check,” yawned Troy.
            “Door circuit?” Joanna asked curiously.
            “Check. You never know. Besides, it was busted.”
            “Laser cannon.” Joanna raised her eyebrows.
            “Check. This thing is armed.”
            There was silence. “That’s nice,” said Joanna absent-mindedly.
            “What’s next?” asked Troy impatiently.
            “That’s all,” Joanna answered.
            “Let’s put a big check on that,” Troy sighed tiredly.
            “What o’clock do ya make it, Troy?”
            “Eight thirty-six is what my watch has. But remember, we’re on another planet.”
            “A planet with the same length days as Earth. That’s a planet I’ll never see again.”
            “You’ve got to have faith in me and the TARDIS.”
            “Why don’t you simply call your beloved TARDIS ‘hopeless’?”
            “Because the TARDIS isn’t hopeless.”
            “Because a group of people called ‘Time Lords’ gave it to you…” Joanna began.
            “And called it ‘damaged’,” Troy interrupted.
            “Right,” said Joanna. “Okay, you win.”
            “Don’t I always?” asked the smart-alecky side of Troy.
            “Well,” Joanna began again.
            “Don’t answer that,” said Troy, grinning ear to ear. “I love you, ya know.”
            “It was true,” Joanna thought. “He’s fallen in love with me.”
            “You what?” she said, pretending not to have understood him.
            “I love you,” Troy repeated, taking her hands in his.
            Joanna was, for once, speechless.
            “What am I to do now?” she thought.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Somebody do something!
            The Amris are closing in on Troy and Joanna. (If I were in this, I’d get the hell out!)
            With Unit Seven in the lead, they made it to the ship. Actually they were fifty yards, take-or-leave, from the ship. (A little close for comfort!)
            “Advance!” ordered Unit Seven.
            The other units moved in. Unit Seven glided through the doorway.
            But there was no one in sight.
            “Enter!” it ordered.
            The other units entered the ship.
            “Search the ship!” ordered Unit Seven.
            The Amris Patrol began searching the ship.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy and Joanna are in the cargo section of the Traveler, looking for anything that would be of value to the investigation.
            “Nothin’ here,” announced Joanna.
            “Right you are, Joanna,” said Troy. “Let’s go back to the control room.”
            Troy and Joanna walked back into the control room to find the Amris Patrol looking for them. One of the Amris spotted them.
            “Halt!” it shrieked. “Do not move!” It raised its gun arm to point at Troy.
            Another unit came up behind them and pointed its gun arm at Joanna. She turned to run. Then checked herself at the sight of the Amris unit.
            “Do not move!” it said.
            “Do not move or you will be eliminated!” ordered Unit Seven. “We are the Amris. You will obey us! Obey! Obey! Obey!”

PART THREE:  Trouble
CHAPTER FIVE
THE SLAVES OF THE AMRIS

 

            Troy finally met the Amris. He wanted to. Though, not quite like this.
            Unit Seven turned to face Troy.
            “The following is to be recorded,” it grated. “The intruders are two in number – one male, one female. Both human. The male is six feet four inches tall and approximately two hundred ten pounds in weight. Hair is auburn, eyes are brown. Race is Caucasian. Eligibility for slavery – positive ninety-two. Name is …” it waited.
            “Troy Star.”
            “Name and voice are registered.”
            It turned to face Joanna.
            “The female is five feet six inches in height and approximately one hundred pounds in weight. Hair is brown, eyes are blue. It is noted that she is wearing bifocals. Race is Caucasian. Eligibility for slavery – positive eighty-five. Name is…”
            “Joanna Berckley.”
            “Name and voice are registered.” Then it spoke to both of them. “You will walk among us. If you attempt to escape you will be eliminated.”
            Troy and Joanna were escorted back to Control Center and questioned. Then they were sent to work.
            Troy picked up a large rock over his head. He saw an Amris unit at the prison door. He was contemplating the idea of crushing the Amris. He threw the rock down.
            A short black woman of about thirty walked over to him. It was Robin.
            “Who are you?” Robin asked.
            “I’m Troy Star,” he replied tiredly. There was sweat streaming down his face. “Who are you?”
            “I’m Robin.” Then she whispered, “I’m the resistance leader. Do you want to join?” She was expecting him to run away but was surprised when he said, “You bet your life I do. I knew somebody had to have some spunk. I must say I’m happy to meet you. How many members do you have?”
            “Seven counting myself. You can meet them during the rest period.” She stared him in the eye. “But during the sleep period, you’re mine.”
            Troy raised an eyebrow and frowned deeply. “I’ve got a girlfriend,” he said.
            She sighed and walked away.
            Troy grinned and winked at himself.
            “Pretty but not my type,” he said to a small rock in his hand. “Do you like her?” He made the rock move in a way like a positive nod.

            “Then go get her.” He held the rock like a bowling ball and rolled it into a pile.
            “Strike!” he said. “Line ‘em up again, Charles.”
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Robin had gone to talk to Ratanda.
            “I talked to one of the intruders,” she said. “His name is Troy Star. You were right. They’re not from Arbegla. He didn’t like me.”
            Ratanda laughed. “I talked to the other. She’s Joanna Berckley. Not of Arbegla. She kicked me when I said I had some ideas of how to keep warm in the prison bunks. My shin still hurts!”
            It was Robin’s turn to laugh.
            “Do you think they’re from Earth?” she asked.
            “I don’t know. They look human. Looks can be deceiving, you know.”
            “I’ll ask Troy. You ask Joanna,” suggested Robin.
            But before Ratanda could reply, she was gone to ask Troy if he was from Earth.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Robin walked up to Troy.
            “I’m sorry for suggesting what I did,” she said, although she wasn’t.
            “You don’t need to apologize to me,” Troy said. “Thanks for offering.”
            “I have a question.”
            “Yes?’
            “What planet are you from?”
            “Earth,” he replied.
            Her next action almost knocked him off his feet. Robin threw her arms around his neck, pulled him down to her height, and kissed him on the lips. Troy put his arms around her and kissed her back. They were both surprised by the other’s actions.
            Robin released Troy.
            “I knew you’d come to free us,” she said excitedly. She ran off to tell Ratanda.
            Troy touched his lips.
            “I wonder what’s so important about Earth,” he said to himself.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            When Robin told Ratanda and Ratanda told Robin the results, they were overjoyed.
            “We may finally get home,” said Ratanda.
            “Yes. Back to Earth.”
            Troy heard this. “So that’s it,” he said silently to himself. “They’re from Earth!”
            Troy was in for a surprise.

CHAPTER SIX
THE RESISTANCE
           
The whistle to signal the beginning of the rest period blew and the tired slaves lumbered into their cells. Troy sat down on a bunk beside Robin. As soon as the slaves were in and seated, Troy asked where the resistance was.
Robin answered loudly, “R.F., C.B. Nine.”
Then six people got up slowly and sat around the bunk.
“We’re here, Robin,” said Ratanda. “What’s with the R.F., C.B. Nine?”
“Come to think of it,” said Troy, “what is R.F., C.B. Nine?”
“R.F., C.B., Nine,” explained Robin,  “stands for: Resistance Force, Code Blue: Nine. It means a meeting is being called at once. Troy, this is the resistance.” Then from left to right she named them. “This is Ratanta, Aaron, Sheila, Marcia, Clairence, and Theresa.” Then she asked Troy where Joanna was. He told her Joanna was in another cell.
“Do you think she’ll join us?” Robin asked.
“Definitely,” said Troy confidently. “Joanna’s a fighter. She’ll join.”
“That makes nine of us – that I know of.”
“What do you mean?” asked the one called Sheila.
“There’s always the silent members,” Robin explained. “People who don’t tell us, but will fight.”
“I see.”
“Do you have a plan?” Troy asked.
“Not yet. But I’m thinking.”
“Why did the Amris invade Arbegla?”
“They didn’t,” Robin began. “This is the Amris’ home planet. They were returning from an invasion to recharge themselves. They found us, our forefathers, here on their planet, Arbegla, and thought we were invading. So, in order to protect themselves, they destroyed Minerva and Rentoro, the two cities built here. The two cities turned against each other and war broke out. The Amris came home destroyed Rentoro, the Rentoroians, Minerva, and most of the Minervaians. There were only about ninety left. Over the years they died. They were mated like animals and the offspring were taught by their parents. I haven’t been mated but my time is coming. They’ll mate me with Ratanda, Sheila with Aaron, Theresa with Clairence, and Marcia has been mated.”
Troy looked at them as Robin called out their names and who they were to be mated. He looked at Sheila.
Sheila was about sixteen with golden hair and sparkling blue eyes. She had a small waist, sloping hips, and breasts of an average sixteen year old. Her hair came down below her buttock when she stood. Sheila’s slightly arched eyebrows came over here sparkling blue eyes. She had thin lips but they were a luscious color or red and her little pug nose made her more beautiful.
Troy couldn’t imagine this five foot two sixteen year old being mated like an animal.
Then Troy realized he was staring.
“When I came here,” said Troy, “I saw a spaceship called ‘Earth Starship Traveller’. Is it yours?”
“It is,” Sheila answered. She blushed a little when she saw Troy was staring at her. “But it will never fly again. The Amris made sure of it.”
“I made sure it would,” said Troy. “I repaired the Traveler. It’ll fly again. Not as well as before but it will definitely fly.”
“You repaired the Traveler?” she cried. Then she wrapped her arms around him. “You’re the savior of our people!” She kissed him. “How can we ever repay you? Certainly we must. When we escape, I’ll stay with you. That could be repayment enough. I’ll help you destroy the Amris!”
Troy was shocked. Greatly! But that wasn’t the only shock he was in for.
Then the whistle blew to signal supper, or feeding time as the Amris called it. They assembled in a long, narrow room with a door in every wall and an Amris guard at every door. There were long rectangular tables in the room with long benches on either side of them.
Troy whispered to Robin that he had an idea of how to escape.
“How?” asked Robin.
“Through the front door!”

CHAPTER SEVEN
ESCAPE TO DANGER

            “Are you crazy!” asked Robin in an angry manner.
            “No,” said Troy defensively. “I’m serious. The Amris aren’t expecting trouble from a bunch of tired slaves. If you head for the door that leads outside you’ll be on your way to freedom.”
            “I don’t know. It’s so risky.”
            “Sometimes you’ve got to take risks,” Troy encouraged. “If you don’t ever take a risk you’ll never escape. It’s worth the risk, idn’t it? Take the risk! Escape!”
            “I’ll tell the others.”
            They sat down at a table close to the door Troy had in mind. Troy began to explain his plan of escape.
            “We’ll need a diversion,” he began, “to draw the Amris away from the door. I’m not going to appoint anybody. I’ll wait for volunteers.”
            “I’ll do it,” said Clairence after a short silence.
            “Okay. I want you to walk over to the Amris and hit it on the head. When it goes to kill you – drop to the floor. When you hear an explosion – get up and run like wildfire!” Then he asked Robin if she had told everybody.
            Robin said she had told a few people and told them to spread the word.
            Joanna, who was forgotten at the moment, told Troy she would lead the slaves to the Traveler. Troy agreed. And then Joanna gave him the shock he was in for.
            “Troy,” said Joanna, “I’m not coming back when I lead the slaves to the Traveler.”
            “What?” said Troy in total shock.
            “I’m going home. Back to Earth.”
            “But this is 2971. You belong in 1985.”
            “3111,” corrected Robin.
            “Whatever the year, she belongs in 1985.” Troy turned to Robin and glared at her. “You mean to tell me the Amris have been here for a hundred and forty years and this is the only resistance!”
            “There was another some untold years ago but it was destroyed. That’s why so many people didn’t want to join us. They didn’t want to die.”
            “Many of the Americans in the American Revolution died fighting for their freedom!” Troy was red as a beet. He was furious. “The Americans of 1776 didn’t have hovercrafts, laser guns, starfighters, or proton canons! They didn’t even have electricity, but they beat the English and won their independence.”
            “I know!” stormed Robin. “I read about the American Revolution! That’s what we’ve got here – a revolution.”
            “I’m sorry,” said Troy softly. “I didn’t mean to lose my temper or patience.”
            “Don’t be,” said Sheila. “You just quoted Robin when she heard we were the only resistance except some people who were killed trying.”
            Everybody laughed.
            Troy told them the rest of the plan of escape.
            First, the diversion. Then, the escape in to the work field. Third, climb up the work field wall. It was a wall of loose gravel. It was going to be tough. Fourth, they would run to the Traveler and fly home. 
            When the whistle blew to signal the beginning of the next work period, Clairence got up and walked of to the Amris guard.
He stepped on its back.
The Amris spun around, gun-stick aimed at his midsection.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” said Clairence. “I thought you were the disposal unit.”
“Do not move!” it grated. “You are to be eliminated!”
It fired.
Clairence ducked.
Troy held up his metal food platter. The ray struck it and reflected, hitting the Armis guard. The guard exploded in a mass of flames. Troy ran through the door with Sheila at his side. The other slaves ran behind them.
It didn’t take long for the Amris to figure out what had happened.
“Do not move! You will be eliminated! Eliminate! Obey! Obey!” came the cries of the Amris.
The Amris guns roared and many of the slaves were killed trying to get out. Troy, Robin, and Sheila reached the wall and began climbing. An Amrid gun roared and Robin fell. Troy didn’t look back. Neither did Sheila. They knew they might be killed.
They reached the top and began running towards the ship.
Joanna made it up the wall with a few slaves. The Amrids fired and fired. More and more slaves were killed. An Amris gun roared and Joanna fell over backwards. She fell over the side of the wall and began to slide down. The fall knocked her out so she couldn’t stop herself. She slid down even farther on the loose gravel. Eventually, Joanna would slide to the bottom of the wall.

PART FOUR:  A Chance to Talk
CHAPTER EIGHT
THE PLAN

 

A huge hand clasped hers and pulled her up to safety.
It was Ratanda.
Ratanda woke Joanna and they ran on to the ship.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
When they reached the Traveler, they found about sixty slaves waiting for them. Troy told them idea he and Robin had composed.
Troy and Robin would get recaptured and would start an inward revolution. The revolution would start when Troy destroyed the Amris Leader. The Amris would come to see about the explosion and destroy the master computer or the recharging banks. When the Amris got tired they wouldn’t be able to recharge and would run down like an unwound watch. Then he and Joanna would slip away quietly.
“But I’m going home,” she protested. “I’m going with the colonists.”
“I understand,” Troy said sadly. He turned away not to let her see a tear rolling down his cheek. He wiped it off, turned around, took Joanna in his arms and gave her a kiss on the lips.
“It was true,” she thought.
Joanna pushed away, or tried to at first. Then she kissed him back.
Troy moved his eyebrows like Magnum, P.I. This lasted about five minutes and then Troy released Joanna.
“I’ll miss you,” said Joanna. “It was fun while it lasted,” she lied.
“Yeah, I’ll miss you, too. I guess you could say it was fun while it lasted.”
Then Troy thought about how he had met Joanna. He, Prince Starrius Tromas of Lefluer in the year 2984, had been exiled to 1984 California. He re-named himself, was taken to Gallifrey. There he battled and defeated the evil Drymiss. He was released from exile and took up Space/Time traveling.
He and Joanna landed on the man-made planet of Nokrad. They met and defeated its creator, Darkon. Troy defeated him.
And now this. During all this time, Joanna had been afraid for her life.
“You don’t have to lie to me, Joanna,” Troy said. “I know how afraid you were. I was afraid, too. I understand why you want to go home. But what I tell your father?”
Joanna remembered that she had told her father that she was going to travel with Troy.
“If you see him,” she said sadly, “tell him I’ve taken up traveling too.”
Troy shook his head.
“You won’t be alone,” Joanna told him.
“You mean you’re coming back with me?” he asked excitedly. Then he was happy but less excited to know that the sixteen-year-old, Sheila, was coming with him.
“You two’ll be perfect for each other,” Robin said.
Troy sighed and mumbled in agreement and walked out into the huge cave. He looked up at the starship.
“Would it make it out okay?” he asked himself.
Troy walked over to the side of the Traveler. He saw the name painted in letters as big as himself, almost in bright red.  
Traveler,” he thought viciously. “In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge,” he said to the ship, “Bah! Humbug!”
“Bah humbug yourself,” came a familiar voice from behind him.
Troy turned to see Sheila standing at his elbow.
“Hi,” he said, smiling at her.
“Do you know why I’m coming with you?”
“Because Robin appointed you,” Troy answered. Wrong. Another surprise.
“Nope. Because I’ve fallen in love,” Sheila explained.
“With me?”
“Yep.”
“Oh, you’re so sincere,” scorned Troy.
“But I am. I am.” She began to go into a long speech about how she fell in love with him when she first saw him. But Troy interrupted her.
“Do you know what sincerity is?” he asked. “I don’t know you. You don't know me.” He sighed. “How old are you? Fifteen? Sixteen? Seventeen at the most?”
“I’m sixteen,” Sheila answered in a shaky voice. Her eyes were prickling.
“I’m twenty-five. You don’t belong with someone nine years older and eleven hundred twenty-six years younger than you. You need someone between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. That’s two years either way. I’m nine years older than you.”
“Others have told me what I need,” Sheila cried. “But nobody listened to what I wanted. I know I probably don’t need you. I want you.”
Troy sat down on a slight incline of rocks. He picked up one and threw it at the ground a few feet in front of him. Sheila sat beside him and put her arm around his shoulders. She stopped crying and dried her tears on his smoking jacket. Then she kissed him on the cheek.
“Maybe she does like me,” he thought.

CHAPTER NINE
PUTTING THE PLAN TO WORK

 

“Okay,” Troy said. “I’ll admit it. I like you, too. You can come with me.”
Sheila was overjoyed. She ran inside to tell the others.
“What now?” he thought. Troy picked up a rock about the size of a baseball. He threw it across the massive cave with such force it hit the wall on the far side.
“Well,” said Troy to himself, “you had better be prepared to lose a companion. But look at the bright side. Joanna’s goin’ home and you’re getting a new companion. A very beautiful one at that. But she’s too young to be a traveler.” Troy continued talking to himself.
Joanna watched and listened to him from the door of the ship. She had seen him talk out problems this way. He would eventually come up with some impossible idea that would save their lives. This was different. He had the problem the Amris had “eliminated” long ago. He had emotions. He had fallen in love and to lose to one he was love with would be worse than, to Troy, death.
“I’ve done something I knew I’d regret,” he was saying. “I turned down the Crown and Kingship of Lefluer and took up traveling. Oh, what I would do to sleep in my old bed in my quarters! I would kiss Alexandria’s feet to see the Palace. I’m desperate to solve this problem. But there is no solution for emotional distress.”
Joanna had heard enough. She knew that neither logic nor deductive reasoning would solve Troy’s broken heart.
“Troy Star!” she said. “Why don’t you tell me your problem? I can help.”
“Because this concerns you. I mean you are the problem.” Then quickly, “That didn't come out right. I meant to say…”
Joanna cut him off, saying, “I know what you meant. You are in love with me and now I’m leaving and you’ll be heart broken.”
Troy tilted his head a bit to one side. A sure sign that he liked Joanna’s summary of the problem.
“It’s called ‘emotional distress.’ Or did I not hear you correctly? You said, ‘I’m desperate to solve this problem. But there is no solution for emotional distress’,” Joanna quoted. “That’s where you’re wrong and right.”
Troy raised an eyebrow. He was confused. 
“You’re right when you said ‘there is no solution to emotional distress.’ No logical or reasonable solution.”
Troy raised his other eyebrow and lowered the raised one. He was interested.
“Being heart broken every now and then is only human. It’s good for the heart, believe it or not. The only solution is to take the good with the bad and don’t expect surprises. If any come along, take them as they come. ‘You have to be open-minded’ is what you’ve always told me. They say travel broadens the mind. It’s been a fantastic adventure for me. The danger had taught me to prepare. The whole trip has been marvelous. It’s taught me a lesson. Don't except a ride from strangers,” she laughed.
“You’ve really taught me something, Troy,” Joanna continued. “You’ve taught me to be open-minded. And you’ve taught me to take the good with the bad and take unexpected surprises as they come – if they do.
“Don’t forget me, Troy,” said Joanna.
“Don’t you forget me,” said Troy. “You’ve taught me that not all problems can be solved by logic and deductive reasoning. And that not all problems can be solved.
“I suppose we’ve all learned something,” Troy sighed and walked back into the ship.
Then he shouted to the former slaves. “Let’s get this show on the road. Move out and take your places. We’re going on Red Alert. Battlestations.”
Ratanda and Robin had passed out laser guns to the former slaves taught them how to use them. Troy reached into his capacious pocket and pulled out a small, blunt triangle shaped piece of metal with a button on the back. His most prized possession - his Scetza weapon.
“Power packs fully charged,” he mumbled to himself. Troy stepped out into the cave. Then he called into the ship for the slaves to come on.
The extraordinary plan was like this: the slaves were now all with the resistance. The resistance would cause a diversion and get the Amris in the work fields. Then Troy, Joanna, Robin, Ratanda, and Sheila would sneak into the central control room and destroy the recharging banks and then the Amris’s Leader. The Amris would come running. A trap would be laid and waiting.
The resistance would escape, except for Troy and Sheila, and leave Arbelga in the Traveler. Troy and Sheila would leave in the TARDIS. Troy thought of this. He thought it was better than starting an outward rebellion.
The slaves, with Troy and Robin leading, moved to their designated points.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
They walked through the hot desert for hours after finding a small opening in one vein of the cave. Every thirty minutes, Troy let the resistance rest. Troy told them it was 8:00 p.m. They looked blankly at him. Then he said it was 20:00 hours (twenty hundred) and they understood.
They found canteens and a water hole. They filled the canteens and continued their long walk through the desert.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
Very soon after the resistance stopped to get water for the canteens, they reached the cliff going down into the work fields.
This is where it gets good and exciting.
Troy called Robin, Ratanda, Joanna, and Sheila over to where he was standing.
“Robin, Ratanda,” Troy began. “Go directly to the recharging section. Joanna, stay out here and help the resistance. Sheila, you come with me. You’ll have to tell me where to go. I don’t know my way around in there. Let’s go.”
Joanna led the resistance down the steep incline. Robin and Ratanda went through a front door.
Sheila led Troy around back. They found a door that led inside and went through it. They found themselves in a long corridor.
“Farther down this corridor divides,” said Sheila. “Down the other way is the Amris Leader’s quarters. We’ll take to the left.”
“I take it that way leads to the recharging banks?” said Troy.
“Uh-huh. Let’s go.”
Troy and Sheila walked down the long corridor. Troy heard a whining sound and pressed himself and Sheila against the wall. He put his fingers to his lips. Sheila understood.
A second later, an Amris came rolling down the corridor. It stopped short of where Troy and Sheila were then rolled along.
Troy said, “Whew! That was too close for comfort.”
“Agreed!” said Sheila.
“Let’s go.”
Troy peered around the wall to see if they were in for another close call. None. He motioned for Sheila to lead. She stepped out into the corridor. Troy and Sheila began walking to the recharging banks.
When Sheila wasn’t looking, Troy ran back the other way towards the Amris Leader’s quarters. The door was closed. Troy took a slim, torch-like device with one bulbous end and a button on the back.
He turned the bulb a little, aimed it at the door lock, and pressed the button. The device, a sonic screwdriver, emitted a high-pitched whine. The lock turned and the door opened. Troy looked in.
“Now where’s the Amris Leader?” he asked himself.  Troy heard a whining sound and ducked into the room. 
A tall, silver Amris with two guns on its chest rolled in. The Amris Leader! It didn't see Troy. Or did it? The Amris turned around, pointing both guns at Troy.
“Halt!” it screeched as Troy shot through the door.
He sprinted down the corridor. The Amris Leader sped after him. Troy ducked back and pressed himself against a wall. The Amris Leader sped past him.
Troy ran back to the Leader’s quarters.
“For their immobility and size,” Troy panted, “those things are fast!”
Troy got his breath and set about destroying the recharging banks.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
Sheila discovered that she had been left when she asked a question – a question that wasn’t answered. She turned to ask Troy the question again, but Troy wasn’t there. Sheila guessed where he had gone in try – and was right. Sheila decided to follow Troy.
She turned to go down the corridor and found herself facing an Amris. She turned back to run. She was surrounded.
The two Amris led her to the Amris Leader’s quarters for questioning. The two Amris and Sheila were nearly knocked over by a tremendous explosion that came from inside the Amris Leader’s quarters. The two Amris pushed Sheila inside and were shocked to see that the explosion was their recharging banks.
The Amris took aim at Troy.
“Eliminate!” they chorused.

CHAPTER TEN
CAPTURED

They fired. Troy ducked. The rays struck the wall behind him. Troy grabbed Sheila and ran out. They ran down corridor after corridor, with the Amris hot on their heels. The two Amris fired and fired, hitting the walls and doors.
Troy and Sheila almost ran into Ratanda and Robin.
“What was that explosion?” asked Robin.
“The recharging unit,” explained Troy. “You went the wrong way. We’ve got two Amris on our tail.”
Just then the Armis emerged and began firing. The other Armis activated the alarm. It blared through speakers in the walls. It sounded like an electronic whistle. The Amris that activated the alarm joined the other in the pursuit of the intruders. Then from the speakers came the voice of the Armis Leader.
“Intruders in Section two of Complex,” it said. “They are to be eliminated.”
The speaker cut off, the alarm still blaring.
Troy took out his Scetza weapon and primed it. He turned and fired. He missed the Amris by a foot. He continued running forward. Troy turned and fired again. This time he hit one of the Amris. It exploded into a million pieces.
The other Amris ducked back as Troy fired at it. The ray struck a wall.
There was the sound of screaming from behind a wall. Troy raced around the wall to see an open field – the work field.
The Amris Leader’s voice came on the loud speaker again. It grated out the words: “Intruders have gone to work field. The order to eliminate is repealed. The are to be stunned; repeat, stunned.”
The loud speaker cut out.
“That’s a relief,” said Robin.
“I hate stun guns,” growled Troy. “Come on. We need to go back to the Traveler.”
“What about the others?” asked Sheila. “And Joanna.”
“We’ll get them on our way out.”
Troy ducked behind a rock to avoid being shot by an Amris. Troy shot back. The Amris exploded in a mass of flames.
Sheila was the next to score. She hit one and it exploded. The Amris she hit was close to another. The other exploded, too.
Robin hit an Amris’ eyestalks.
“Vision impaired,” it shrieked. “Vision impaired. Vision impaired.” It shrieked the words one more time then the head exploded.
Troy looked down into the cavity to see a maze of electronics and computers and circuits – all centered a large, round object about the size of an ostrich egg.
Ratanda pulled him back just before the rest of the Amris exploded.
“Thanks,” was all Troy could say. Then he said, “I owe ya one.”
“You don’t owe me anything,” said Ratanda. “It is we that owe you.”
“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” said Troy. “This isn’t over yet. We still have to get out of here, remember?”
“Yes, I remember. I remember very well. Many more of us will be killed trying.”
“I know. I want you to get Robin and Joanna out safely. Joanna will lead the rest of the resistance. I’ll get Sheila out. Go on. Good bye.”
Troy hugged Robin. Then shook Ratanda’s hand and left with Sheila at his heels.
“I wonder if we’ll leave this horrible planet,” said Robin.
“I wonder if they’ll leave this horrible planet,” said Ratanda.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
Troy and Sheila walked back into the complex unnoticed. The alarms were still blaring, though. They sneaked from corridor to corridor until they ran into an Amris.
“Eliminate!” it shrieked as Troy and Sheila ran off down the corridor.
The Amris reported to the Leader that it had sighted two escaped prisoners.
“One had a weapon of strange design,” it said to the Leader.
“Do not eliminate!” ordered the Leader through the radio. “Stun! I repeat: do not eliminate! Stun!” The radio cut out.
“I obey.”
The Amris unit moved to follow the intruders and found itself eyestalk-to-face with Troy.
“Do not move!” it said.
Troy raised his Scetza weapon.
“You are to be stunned, not eliminated as before. Do not move.”
Troy fired the weapon. A red ray of light struck the Amris. It exploded in a mass of flames.
“The sound of the explosion will bring some of the Amris here to investigate,” said Troy to Sheila. “We’ll sneak into the Leader’s quarters and kill him.”
Sheila nodded in approval even though she didn’t like the idea. They started toward the Amris Leader’s quarters.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
The resistance was being badly defeated. The number had been decreased dramatically. From about sixty to about twenty.
Joanna was still alive – and kicking like wild. Her weapon had failed and now she was using rock, clubs, shurikens, and practically every tool and trade in the Ninja sect. Joanna was only a junior Ninja so she was ill experienced in fighting a person, much less a machine.
She threw her last shuriken at an Amris. The star-shaped piece of aluminum ricocheted and hit a wall.
The Amris took aim and fired at Joanna. Joanna jumped over the Amris, catching its eyestalks and pulling it on its back. She rolled over to protect her face from the explosion. Joanna was definitely a fighter. Even if she was only a junior Ninja. She was magnificent.
“One down,” she said to herself, “no tellin’ how many more to go.”
And at that, Joanna prepared to battle another Amris.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
Robin and Ratanda were having equally as much luck as Joanna. But all were worried about Troy and Sheila.
Robin jumped up behind an Amris and Ratanda jumped in front of it. Together they knocked it over.
“Another one bites the dust,” said Ratanda.
“The question is,” said Robin, “how many more do we have to defeat?”
Ratanda shrugged and prepared to fight another Amris. Robin shook her head. They prepared to fight another Amris.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy and Sheila reached the Amris Leader’s quarters and entered. They didn’t see the Amris Leader or any other Amris units. Troy found an Amris hull with the arms attached. He found the circuits nearby.
            “Look,” said Troy. “The Armis assembly line!”
            “So what,” said Sheila.
            “This empty Amris hull gives me an idea. Just in case things get desperate. I want you to get inside this hull.”
            “Uh-uh,” shrieked Sheila. “I’m not getting in there.”
            “You will if things get desperate,” said Troy sternly.
            “Okay,” said Sheila deflated. “But only of things get desperate. And I mean desperately desperate. No sooner.”
            “That’s fine with me,” came a muffled reply. Troy was looking in the empty hull. He raised up and said to Sheila, “The arms, gun, and caterpillar track circuits are intact so when you have to get in this thing you can use it properly. But the battery and personality circuits aren’t there.”
            “Then just how are we going to use it?”
            “I don’t know.”
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Joanna had given up. She was bushed. The walk through the corridors to the prison cell wasn’t any better. The Amris had taken her to the cell and, once inside, she saw the worn out figures of Robin and Ratanda.
            They had been caught. They all knew who was next – Troy and Sheila.
            All anybody could do was wait.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy didn’t know of the capture of Robin, Ratanda, and Joanna, but was sure he and Sheila would be captured next. The next that happened proved him right.
            An Amris, maintenance, came in to the room. It pointed to Troy and Sheila.
            “You are intruders,” it screeched. “You are to be eliminated!”
            This time there was nowhere to run. The maintenance Amris had Troy and Sheila in a corner. This was obviously the end.

PART FIVE: A New Life
CHAPTER ELEVEN
THE SECOND ESCAPE

            “Negative,” said the voice of the Amris Leader. “Do not eliminate. Stun the female.”
            The Amris stunned Sheila and dragged her to the prison cells.
            “What’s for me?” asked Troy.
            “You will tell me of the technology that devised that weapon.”
            “May I sit first?”
            “You may. Then you will tell me of the technology that devised that weapon.”
            Troy sat on the Armis hull.
            “A race of twin-hearted, quad-lunged, furry homo reptilians called Karabs, or Scetzas,” said Troy, defeated. He sounded defeated but he was thinking of a plan to get he and Sheila out. Troy didn’t know of Robin, Ratanda, and Joanna being captured.
          “This is a multipurpose stun gun,” he continued, holding up the Scetza weapon. “It has a stun ray, a paralysis ray, a death ray, and a destroyer ray.”
            “Can it be adjusted to fit and work on the Amris chest?” asked the Leader.
            “I doubt it,” said Troy vaguely. He knew it could be. Troy didn’t want to give the Scetza’s technology to the Amris.
            “You mean, it could be?”
            Troy noticed a slight lift at the end of the sentence, but knew it was a statement.
            “I mean if you try, it’ll probably blow up in your eyestalks,” Troy lied. “Hey, if you want to try it, be my guest.”
            He threw the weapon to the Leader. The Leader caught it with its pincher hands. Troy stared in amazement.
            “You have very good reflexes,” he said.
            “Your praises are illogical and unnecessary,” squawked the Leader.
            “What do I call you, by the way,” Troy asked.
            “You may call me Silver Amris or Leader,” it answered. “You may call me Master, if you wish.”
            “I’ll just call you Silver Amris,” said Troy. “So, Silvy, what are you going to do since the weapon can’t be fitted or adapted?”
            The Amris Leader, or Silver Amris, didn’t pay any attention to the name “Silvy.” It had been called that before, by the slaves.
            “I will order the Amris Science Elite to study this weapon.” It held up the Scetza weapon. “They will duplicate the technology and interface it with Amris technology. Then a weapon will be made and tested. If it passes the test, the Amris will be more powerful than ever.” The Silver Amris was getting excited by its predictions.
            Troy noticed that the Silver Amris was the only Amris with some emotions. Troy clapped his hand in sarcastic applause. The Amris Leader paid no attention.
            “That’s very good,” mocked Troy. “But I’m afraid I can’t allow that. You see, the Scetzas don’t take kindly to people stealing their technology. In fact, when the Drymiss stole their technology and used it to invade Earth in 2976, the Scetzas all but destroyed them.”
            Troy was grinning at the memory. Seeing the eight foot tall black robots with red piping and computer keys on their chests run for dear life in the small black jet-like spaceships was fun. Troy was sixteen at the time, but he still fought the Drymiss. The daft kid even tried fighting a Drymiss with his fists. He was taken captive.
            Troy was brought out of his reverie by the Amris Leader telling him he was being escorted to a cell by two Armis. And so he was.
            Troy didn’t object. He knew better.
            The Amris literally threw him in the tiny windowless cell with two bunks in it. He got up to see four familiar faces: Robin, Ratanda, Joanna, and Sheila.
            “I’ve never been so happy to see your faces,” Troy said, rejoicing. “I thought you were all dead.”
            “We thought the same about you,” said Joanna.
            They all exchanged hugs and handshakes. Then Robin surprised Troy.
            “Troy,” she began, “this is Nikki.” She pointed to the girl Troy thought was Sheila. “Nikki, this is Troy Star.”
            Then Troy saw the differences as the girl stepped into the light.
            Sheila had golden hair and blue eyes. Nikki had auburn hair and brown eyes. Sheila was sixteen. Troy estimated Nikki to be at least twenty. Sheila was five foot two. Nikki was about five foot six. Sheila looked about one hundred pounds or less. Nikki was about one hundred ten pounds or less.
            Nikki Smith, as it turned out, was Sheila’s older cousin. Nine years older. Nikki was twenty-five years old, one hundred five pounds, and wore white summery pants, a matching shirt, a yellow vest with black spots, and knee-high black leather boots. She had lightly tanned skin, a small waist, sloping hips, long smooth legs and arms, a tender face, and her fingernails were painted red. Her curly auburn hair was highlighted with brown and red. Her chestnut brown eyes were filled with tears.
            Troy asked her what was the matter and found out the most distressing news. Sheila had been killed when she woke from the effects of the stun ray. The daft kid had tried to escape. Troy and the others would miss her.
            Now that Joanna was going home and Sheila was dead, Troy would be alone. That’s the way he wanted it in the first place. But Miss Sandy Joanna Berckley joined him. Now she was going home. Then Sheila Green said she was going to join him. Now she was dead.
Troy was sad at the thought of being alone in time and space. He could’ve asked Alexandria Smith to come with him. She was his girlfriend in Le-Fluer. Traveling wasn’t her style. Troy considered going back to being Prince Starrius Tromas of Le-Fluer, 2984, by now ’85.
In order to do that, he needed to escape.
“We need to get out of here,” he said determinedly.
“Duh,” said Joanna, putting her forefinger to her teeth and crossing her eyes. “I didn't know dat.” She shut up when she saw Troy’s glance.
“We have no time for acting silly,” he said seriously. “I don’t have my Scetza weapon or my sonic screwdriver. Wait a minute!” Troy patted has pockets. He pulled out the sonic screwdriver, grinning ear to ear.
Joanna grinned, too. She knew what the sonic screwdriver was and what it could do.
“What’s that?” asked Robin.
“Our ticket to freedom,” said Troy.
He adjusted the screwdriver, aimed it at the electronic lock, and pressed the button on the back. The lock exploded and the door swung open. They walked into the corridor. All except Nikki. She was afraid. Troy grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her out into the corridor.
“First things first,” said Troy. He turned to Robin and Ratanda. “You two get the other prisoners free and to the ship. Joanna, you go with them and take this one with you,” he said, pointing to Nikki.
“What are you going to do?” asked Ratanda.
“I’m going to get my Scetza weapon and use it on the Silver Amris.”
“You’ll need a guide,” said the girl called Nikki. She sounded hopeful.
They all looked at her. She wasn’t crying anymore.
“Okay,” said Troy. He didn't argue because he knew he couldn’t win. “Let’s go.”
They moved off in separate directions; Nikki with Troy, and Joanna with Robin and Ratanda.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
Troy and Nikki went to the Silver Amris’ quarters and began searching for the Scetza weapon. They were thankful for the absence of the Silver Amris. They moved into the area of the destroyed recharging banks. They were no longer destroyed. The Amris had repaired them.
“Damn!” exclaimed Troy. “I went through all that trouble for nothing!”
“What trouble?” asked Nikki. “What did you do?”
“I destroyed the recharging banks,” answered Troy. “But it seems that they fixed them. Boy, that burns me up!” Troy was obviously very angry.
“I’m sorry.”
“Why? You haven’t done anything. What reason would you have to apologize to me? It’s not… Logical!” He yelled “logical.”
“You don’t have to yell,” said Nikki. “I’m not deaf, you know.”
“I know,” said Troy excitedly. He was scratching the right side of his jaw with two fingers on his left hand. His scientific curiosity was aroused again. Nikki was the innocent bystander. Poor girl.
“I’ve got an idea how to get rid of the Silver Amris,” Troy continued. “The Amris have no emotions except for the Silver Amris. That means they all think alike with the same exception. the Silver Amris was give some emotions so it could think in terms of deductive reason and common sense as well as logic.”
“That’s all very good, for guess work,” commented Nikki, “but what good will it do us?”
“Don’t you see?”
Nikki shook her head.
“The Amris are expecting us to do something illogical. If we do something in logical manner, it will confuse them.”
“But it wouldn’t confuse the Silver Amris,” said Nikki. “It would’ve figured out that we had figured all this out and would’ve made plans to counter it.”
“Exactly,” said Troy, like a teacher whose prize pupil had done something right. “So we’ll do something illogically logical.”
“Huh?” Nikki was lost.
Troy explained that they would do something to confuse the Silver Amris. They would use the Scetza weapon when they found it.
Nikki held up a small, triangular piece of metal with a button on the back. It was the Scetza weapon.
“Put that down,” said the voice of the Silver Amris.
Troy and Nikki turned to see the Silver Amris and two others at the door.

CHAPTER TWELVE
THE BATTLE BEGINS

 

“Hello,” said Troy conversationally, “how are you this evening?”
“We have no such things as illnesses,” answered one Amris. It was Unit Seven.
“You again?” said Troy.
“I ordered the female to drop the Scetza Weapon,” said the Silver Amris.
Nikki aimed at the Silver Amris and fired. A ray of red light shot out and struck the Silver Amris. The Silver Amris exploded in a mass of flames.
Nikki tossed it to Troy. Troy caught the Scetza Weapon and shot Unit Seven.
When it exploded, the Amris nearest to it was too close and was caught in the explosion and exploded as well. Then the electronic whistle-like alarm went off.
“Let’s get the hell out of here!” shouted Troy.
They, Troy and Nikki, stepped out into the corridor and were immediately caught up in a rush of an on-coming crowd. Robin, Ratanda, and Joanna had succeeded in freeing the prisoners. They were fleeing for the Earth Starship Traveler.
“Where do we go?” asked Nikki.
“You’re going to the Traveler,” answered Troy. “I’m going to my TARDIS and then home to Le Fluer in 2985.”
“I want to go with you to your TARDIS, whatever that is, to see you off safely.”
“Thank you, but…” Troy began.
“Don't argue with me,” said Nikki. “It’s the least I could do.”
Troy shut up and ran on with the crowd. He felt a small tender hand wrap around his. Troy looked down to see Nikki’s hand in his.
“Not you, too?” Troy thought.
They ran on with the crowd toward the Earth Starship Traveler.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            The crows raced out into the work field and over the barrier. They ran across the desert sand and towards the Traveler. Troy and Nikki were the last two to get to the Traveler. Everyone was waiting for he and Robin to come up with another plan to save them by the skin of their teeth.
            It was Troy who said they had no idea of how to get out of this. But it was Joanna who suggested flying the Traveler and using it as a weapon.
            “It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?” she asked.
            “I suppose it’ll fly,” said Troy.
            “Are you saying you don’t trust a repair job you did yourself?” asked Robin.
            “Exactly! I mean to say that the Traveler will fly and the phaser banks are fully charged but this thing wasn’t meant to be a weapon. If you want to go back to Earth, I know the Time/Space co-ordinates. And the generators are fully charged so you’ll make it home.”
            “How are you going to destroy the Amris?” asked Ratanda. “With your one Scetza Weapon?”
            “I have three more,” said Troy, “but four Scetza Weapons aren’t enough.” Troy tried to think of some other way but finally gave in. “Okay,” he said, “we’ll use the Traveler as a weapon. Now to find a pilot.”
            Everyone looked expectantly at him. It took Troy three seconds to get the main idea.
            “Oh no!” he said, backing out through the hatch. “I am not flying this thing! Robin, you fly it! I’m not getting near it.”
            “I don’t know how to fly a Starship,” said Robin. “And neither does anyone else on board.”
            “The ship has a computer manual on how to fly this particular Starship,” explained Troy. “The ship’ll tell you how to fly it. I’m staying on the ground. Besides I need to get back to Earth in my TARDIS.”
            “I’m coming to see you off,” said Nikki.
            “Okay,” said Troy. He turned to Joanna. “Goodbye,” he said. He gave a hug and a kiss. Troy said goodbye Robin and Ratanda and then to the former slaves. He and Nikki left, closing the hatch behind them.
            Robin started the starting sequence. The former slaves could hear the rumble of the engines. The ship shook for a moment as it left the ground. Then it leveled out.
            Troy and Nikki watched it glide through an opening in the cave roof.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN
ESCAPE TO EARTH

            Then Troy remembered something he should’ve thought of earlier. How was Nikki going to get home? He asked her and she said that he’d have to take her home. Troy agreed and the set off to be the ground force. The Traveler would be used as an air force. With Robin at the wheel, it would be something else.
            They ran out into the desert towards the Amris H.Q. (Head Quarters). The Traveler’s shadow was with them all the way.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            High up the Traveler, Robin has mastered the ship with no problem or trouble. She had taken the pilot’s chair and Ratanda had taken the copilot’s chair. A former slave called Arkeas had taken the navigator’s chair and another former slave had become the tail gunner. Her name was Angela. She was Robin's sister. They were almost twins. Arkeas was Ratanda’s brother. They were very different. Arkeas had blonde hair and blue eyes along with light skin.
            They could see the running figures of Troy and Nikki on the screen.
            “They’ll attack the Amris on the ground and draw them out of the complex,” said Robin to the rest of the crew. “Then we’ll destroy the complex and the Amris from here in the air.”
            “And we’ll pick up Nikki,” said Ratanda.
            “No we won’t,” began Robin. “Troy’s taking her home in his TARDIS.”
            Joanna thought that Nikki was in for the ride of her innocent life. Poor girl would probably never dimensionally relative space-time travel machines. Joanna knew she didn’t and didn’t really want to. She knew she forced herself on Troy when they battled the Drymiss. That was then and this is now so she wouldn’t worry about it.
            Robin took the Traveler downwards at a dangerous angle.
            Joanna knew she was going in for the attack.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            On the ground, Troy and Nikki had reached the complex. They were moving down corridor after corridor, blasting every Amris in sight. Troy had given an extra Scetza weapon to Nikki. He had it in one of his capacious pockets. She used it as well as Troy. Troy was proud of her. Troy was happy that Nikki didn’t ask a lot of questions that he couldn’t answer.
            At the moment they were running out into the open work field. Troy’s Scetza weapon had finally run down and needed to recharge so they were dependent on Nikki’s. Troy picked up a large rock. It weighed about two hundred pounds and he had a terrible time lifting it.
            Troy threw the rock at the oncoming Amris. It hit the first three, sending them flying like skittles. They exploded in a mass of flames and smoke.
            “That's three more,” said Troy.
            “Three plus seven is ten,” said Nikki. “And ten plus thirty is forty. That’s only forty out of…” she thought for moment. “One hundred? That leaves sixty.”
            Just then a roaring sound came from above causing them to look up. The Traveler was coming in for the attack.
            “Time to be off, Nikki,” shouted Troy as he grabbed her hand.
            They ran to take cover under a small cliff. The Traveler swooped down out of the sky like a giant eagle.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            On board the Traveler, there was a silent expectancy when Robin primed the phaser banks. Arkeas took hold of the laser cannon controls. He fired.
            The lasers struck the complex. There was a tremendous explosion. The complex exploded in a million pieces in a mass of flames and smoke.
            The force of the explosion caused the small cliff where Troy and Nikki were hiding to collapse, burying them beneath the rubble.

PART SIX: A New Companion
CHAPTER FOURTEEN
END OF THE AMRIS

            Troy was the first to recover. It was an awful shock to find himself encircled by the Amris. There were only six Amris left. All six were closing in on Troy and the still unconscious Nikki. Troy grabbed Nikki’s Scetza weapon, knowing he had no way of winning.
            A red ray of light from the sky hit one of the Amris. It exploded. The Traveler had returned. Two more Amris were struck.
            Three Amris left out of one hundred.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            “There’s only three Amris left!” rejoiced Robin on board the Traveler.
            “Let’s get those three!” said Ratanda.
            “You got it, big brother,” said Arkeas. He aimed the cannon at two of the Amris. He pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. He pulled it again. Nothing happened.
            “There must be a break in the system,” said Arkeas. “The cannon won’t fire.”
            “Troy and Nikki are on their own,” Robin said sadly.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            With the Traveler’s cannons malfunctioning and Nikki unconscious, Troy was on his own. He had the Scetza weapon but against three Amris… “I don't have a chance,” Troy thought.
            Then he remembered how Nikki shot the Silver Amris, then Unit Seven, causing another Amris to explode.
            Troy aimed the weapon at the Amris on the far end. He noticed that is was a little further from the other two and that the other two Amris were close.   He pressed the trigger. A ray of red light shot out and struck the Amris on the far end. It exploded in a mass of flames.
            The other two fired back, striking the cliff behind Troy, due to him ducking.
            He fired the weapon again. It struck one Amris. It blew up in a million pieces. The explosion wasn’t enough to destroy the last. Troy took aim and fired. Nothing happened. Nikki’s Scetza weapon had run out of power.
            The Amris advanced on Troy.
            “Eliminate!” it shouted.
            Troy noticed that its voice was slurred and its movements were slow. The Amris raised its gun arm.
            “Ee – limm – ii – nate,” it said in a quiet, slurred voice. The gun made a clicking noise. A spark shot out and hit the ground in front of the Amris. It burned out in the sand. The Amris gun arm dropped. The Amris hadn’t recharged.
            The Amris Unit was dead.
            The Amris Race was destroyed.
            All one hundred of them.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
DEPARTURE

            Troy unburied himself and Nikki. There was an ugly cut on her forehead. Troy lifted her up in his arms and, like a groom carrying the bride over the threshold, carried her out of the work fields and towards the TARDIS.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy carried Nikki across the dry, hot sandy desert of Arbegla. It was dark now and Troy was not surprised to see that his watch had eleven o’clock P.M.
•           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •           •
            Troy was glad to see the comforting brown shape of the TARDIS. He set Nikki down, got the key out of his pocket, unlocked the door, picked up Nikki and walked inside. Troy carried Nikki to Joanna’s old bedroom. Joanna had left a lot of things behind.
            Troy set Nikki down on the bed and pulled off her boots, socks, pants, vest, and shirt. Then he put an evening gown on her, pulled the cover over her, and dressed the cut.
            Troy went to the control room and pulled a lever on the far side. The center column glided up and down. There was a wheezing, groaning noise and the TARDIS dematerialized. Troy set in on autopilot and went back to Nikki. She was sleeping peacefully.
            “Sleep well, Joanna,” he said quietly.
            Troy and Nikki were on their way to their next adventure: “The Challengers and The Ring of Death,” by Van Turner.


THE
CHALLENGERS
AND
THE ROBOTS OF DESTRUCTION
BY
VAN TURNER
No. 3 in The Challengers Series

Troy and Joanna meet a resistance group on the planet Arbega. Robin and Ratanda, the resistance leaders are fighting against their enslavers – the Dalek-like Amris.
Troy and Joanna discover and on space ship – that can still fly! Troy has an idea. If he can cause a small disturbance then the people of Arbegla can get to the ship and back to their home planet – Earth in 3111 (Nearly 200 years ahead of Troy).
There is one flaw: Troy can get the slaves free, but can he get himself free without getting killed?
           

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

           

           

 

HOME

NOVELLAS HOME

BACK TO TOP