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Battle of Endor
“Luke, honey, did you remember to pack your sister’s pillow? Oh, and don’t forget the extra towel, it’s on the top shelf in the closet. Can you get that for me?”
“Mom…” Luke sighed. Did his mom always have to be this paranoid? It was only for a night, for goodness’ sake. And to make matters even worse, he had to bring along his kid sister, Alice. Sometimes Luke felt like the only reason she existed was to make his life miserable.
“Never mind, it’s over here! Alice, can you get in the car please?”
Silence filled the black sedan the entire ride to his stepdad’s house, other than the occasional half-hearted remark from his mom. Luke was glad when his dad’s familiar house came into view.
“I’ll be back tomorrow morning. Behave yourselves, kids.” His mom blew them a kiss and left just as quickly as she had come.
“Pappy!!!” Alice screamed in delight as she ran up the driveway into the arms of her dad.
“How’s my big girl doing?” he asked, hoisting her up onto his shoulders. This is what Luke always loved about his stepdad—he was always in such a good mood, regardless of the obstacles life threw at him.
“Let me help you with that.” His dad took one of the bags and patted Luke on the back. “I made some pasta for dinner, but don’t get your hopes up. You know just how well I can cook.” He laughed.
After a night of playing Clue, watching Kung Fu Panda for the hundredth time (it was Alice’s favorite), and eating his dad’s overcooked, bland pasta, Luke was ready to go to sleep.
“Dad, do you have an extra toothbrush I can use?” His eyes wandered around the bathroom for a moment and reached a cabinet five feet above the sink. Hmm. He slowly pulled himself onto the sink in a kneeling position so he could reach the knob on the cabinet door. Odd place to put a cabinet. Pulling open the small door, he reached inside and pulled out a plastic cup filled with floss, mouthwash, and a toothbrush.
“Yeah, there’s one in the other bathroom underneath the sink,” Luke’s dad yelled from downstairs.
But Luke wasn’t listening. He stared at the toothbrush he had discovered, captivated by its presence. Well, if it even was a toothbrush. It was some sort of strange contraption about the length of his hand, a thin white rod attached to a wider dowel. At the end of the rod was a metal sphere, with a diameter the size of his fingernail. On the wider part were five green buttons, each one with some kind of symbol on it. Luke tentatively pushed the first one. There was a quiet whirr and the metal sphere stream exposed a thin beam of light, no wider than a millimeter. It made a zapping noise and transformed into a small holograph.
What is that? He took a closer look and realized that it was a holograph of a planet. The yellowish-white color and unfriendly exterior revealed it to be Venus. Luke pressed the button directly below the first. The hologram of another figure took the place of the last. It appeared to be a rocky, slate-gray planet, almost like an asteroid, but with numerous buildings and heavy smog looming over the land. He tried to touch the hologram, but it just wavered for a moment and appeared again. But this time, it began to expand. Luke dropped the contrivance and backed away. A tornado emerged at the tip of the metal sphere and an enormous gust of wind threw him against the wall. A flurry of shampoo, floss, and toilet paper engulfed the bathroom in a gigantic whirlwind as the bathroom began to fade from view. Luke buried his head between his knees and shut his eyes…
And all was silent.
Luke drowsily opened his eyes. He felt like he hadn’t slept in years.
“Ah, you’re finally awake. You were pretty knocked out back there!”
He looked around for the source of the voice. The friendly words were coming from a teenage girl, around his age. Luke sat up and took in his surroundings. He appeared to be moving in some sort of car—no, helicopter—soaring swiftly 50 feet in the air. No larger than a minivan, the interior comprised two couches facing each other and a couple of seats in the front; every square inch of the interior was covered in what Luke could only describe as electrical memory foam. Anything he touched would immediately flash different colors and gradually fade away after a few seconds. He looked through one of the windows, which encompassed a criss-cross pattern of several blue lasers. Blood-red sunlight streamed through the thick smog in vain as countless explosions in the distance shook the ground and set buildings aflame. The rubble-covered roads were vacant of any form of life; every plot of land was either ablaze or covered with shards of broken glass and filth. It was a place Luke thought only existed in nightmares.
The girl turned around from where she was sitting in the driver’s seat and looked at him. “Okay, I know you have a lot of questions right now, but they’re going to have to wait for a little bit. First I need to get you somewhere safe.”
Before Luke had a chance to respond, a flash of neon red light shot past the helicopter.
The girl saw it too. A small radar screen on the windshield appeared and began to beep rapidly.
“Aww crap…” she muttered to herself. The girl took hold of the steering mechanism and flew the helicopter straight up, forcing Luke to barrel straight into the back wall. But instead of the painful collision he expected, the electrical memory foam absorbed his weight and softened the blow. So that’s what it’s for. He turned around onto his stomach and looked out the back window, which was now facing straight down. That’s when he saw two colossal air crafts pursuing the helicopter as they mercilessly fired bright red lasers at it. The girl was doing her best to elude the mechanical giants, rapidly changing directions, diving under broken bridges, swerving around buildings. Four more of these crafts appeared and began to close in on the helicopter.
Whack! A metal rod struck Luke in the side of the head.
“Kid, listen to me.” The girl had a grim expression on her face, the calm composure dissipated. All Luke could hear now was the lasers as they shot past the helicopter, barely missing it. “We’re not going to make it out of here in this helicopter. You need to grab hold of that ground-resistor I just threw you and do not let go, whatever you do. You’ll be fine-”
Luke clutched the rod and held it to his chest as he curled up into a ball. The girl flipped a switch above her seat and the back wall of the helicopter he had once been leaning against disappeared. He plummeted from the aircraft just in time to see a laser make contact with the helicopter. A second passed. Suddenly, a deafening BOOM blew the helicopter to shreds, annihilating everything in its path. Luke was thrown against a building and continued to plummet toward the ground. The ground seemed to be approaching him a mile a minute as he gripped the rod with everything he had. 60 feet, 50 feet, 40 feet…the countdown began to what Luke felt was his death. He closed his eyes and clutched the rod even tighter.
Suddenly, the rod began to pull away from his body. With each passing second, it seemed to be pulling harder and harder away from the ground and toward the sky. He felt his sweaty palms start to slip from the rod.
Please hold on; please hold on… he thought to himself. Luke wasn’t far from the ground any longer; he knew he was going to crash. But as the rod pulled upward even stronger, he realized something: it was slowing him down. Luke was nearly five feet off the ground when the rod jerked upward one last time and came to a final stop. He let go of the rod and collapsed to the ground in exhaustion.
Luke regained consciousness and opened his eyes. He was lying down on his back in some sort of warehouse; it was fairly large and about twice the size of his house. As he scrambled to sit up, every inch of his body cried out in pain. Luke realized he was sitting on what seemed like a cushioned hover-bed and stepped off. He could feel the rough gravel through his tattered shoes as it seared his wounded, exposed feet. On the other side of the warehouse, he noticed a group of four or five people gathered around a hologram. One of them turned around and spotted Luke. He jabbed another sitting next to him, who turned around as well.
Luke let out an angry sigh. He was tired of trying to understand why things were happening. He was probably dreaming anyway. Maybe another explosion would knock him out and bring him to another place. But to his surprise, one of the girls sitting around the screen motioned him to come over. He figured he might as well just go with it; there was nothing he could lose, right? His feet reluctantly trudged over to the hologram and sat next to her. Luke gazed blankly at the figures in the hologram. The action reminded him of the videogames he played at home, an air chase. A very familiar air chase. His thoughts snapped back into focus. A helicopter, surrounded by four or five enormous aircrafts. A flash of light, and a deafening explosion completely annihilated the helicopter. At the edge of the hologram, he spotted an object fall from the demolished helicopter. That was when Luke realized that the object was he. A pair of arms and legs in free fall, clutching onto the ground resistor.
“Looks familiar, doesn’t it?” A boy sitting next to him remarked, as if he wasn’t expecting an answer. He looked at him solemnly.
Luke nodded slowly. “Erm… why is there a hologram of what just happened? And why are we watching it?”
The boy shot him a half-hearted smile. “How much did Ceres tell you?”
So that was her name. “I think she told me something about getting me somewhere safe…” Luke’s mind drifted to her last words before the explosion killed her.
“Looks like you have a lot of explaining to do, Dephysus,” someone in the group remarked.
“Well,” Dephysus began, “this is Planet Endor. If you can tell, it’s not the prettiest place in the universe. The ‘ruler’ is Dr. Vaderstein, the lunatic who created this nightmare. He has an interesting history. Vaderstein used to live on Earth as a scientist; he was actually quite ingenious, inventing new contraptions and creations like the ones you’ve already seen here. Unfortunately for him, however, another scientist stole his ideas and patented them before Vaderstein could take the credit, and he was made a fool. He was degraded in the scientific world, all his hard work deemed insignificant and thrown away. That was when his heart turned dark and evil—and vengeful. A couple centuries ago, Vaderstein found several planets and asteroids in various parts of the galaxy and made a plan. He would have his revenge. Using a new contraption—the quantigma you found in your bathroom—he teleported people from all parts of the earth to these planets, such as Endor. He then manufactured millions of electronic chips and implanted them in each and every person. These allowed Vaderstein to control the thoughts and actions of everyone in his ‘kingdoms’. We,” he said, motioning to the entire group, “were teleported here a few years ago. At the time, there was a group of people—the Rebels—who had somehow broken the system and fought back against Vaderstein. They went to many of his planets and asteroids, modifying the chips to malfunction so he would not be able to control the people whom his chips were implanted in. We were that lucky group of people and remained ‘normal’. Unfortunately, Vaderstein discovered this glitch quickly and ordered everyone whom he had under his control to kill the Rebels. This resulted in a massive war which demolished the cities of many planets and quickly wiped out the Rebels. He realizes now that there are people on his planet whom he does not have under his control—not many, but they are still there. We try to help his victims escape the powerful control of his electronic chips by hiding them; Ceres was one of us, trying to help you. Vaderstein has been trying to track us down and stop us from helping victims, using the victims he has control of to attack our operations. Unfortunately for us, he has been somewhat successful, considering the fact that we are running out of people and he is gaining victims. The day he decides to attack Earth is approaching quickly, I can tell—he has been gathering his unwilling followers in troops and an unusually large amount of aircrafts and weaponry are being manufactured in his factories. For now, you can stay with us and we can teach you how to rescue Vaderstein’s victims and bring them to safety. But one thing’s for sure: you are never going home to your normal life until Vaderstein is defeated.”
Luke lay awake in his hover-bed that night as countless, drifting thoughts swirled through his mind. The one thing he wanted he could not get: his life. He would not see his parents, Alice… He thought about Earth, a peaceful, perfect planet, dangerously vulnerable. About Vaderstein and his army of robot victims. About plummeting from the helicopter as Ceres’s helicopter blew to pieces. Would there really be a war? He tried to imagine the enormous fleet of Vaderstein’s forces attacking the shocked, panicked people on Earth. They wouldn’t stand a chance against Vaderstein’s advanced weapon technology and the colossal amount of robot victims he would have gathered by now. There would be thousands of them, thousands of people unintentionally and ruthlessly murdering people on Earth by the millions. Luke’s thoughts were now a clutter of pandemonium in a blender. Just go to sleep. You’re overreacting.
Luke woke up to chaos. The entire warehouse swarmed with commotion, about eighty or ninety people busily preparing enormous weapons, aircraft, and machinery. Confusion swept over his mind until he heard a quiet explosion in the distance. It was far away and barely moved the ground, but as each consecutive boom shook the land, it was clear that the blasts were moving closer. The attack on earth Dephysus had predicted had arrived.
“Luke! Come with me!” Dephysus shouted to him. Luke could see him in the cockpit of one of the helicopters. As he struggled to push past the other people, he could see them carrying massive weaponry and explosives into the aircraft. He hoisted himself onto the helicopter as it began to take off. They flew out of the warehouse, soaring over the ruin of Endor. As the helicopter passed the horizon, Luke saw Earth in all its glory, the swirled atmosphere and pure blue water complementing the great lands that stretched for miles. And to think they have no idea what’s happening.
Then he saw something he would never forget. Thousands of Vaderstein’s aircraft hovered steadily above the atmosphere, spanning the entire face of the planet. Dephysus’s forces drew into formations and began to attack Vaderstein’s with gigantic lasers, at least ten times more powerful than the one that killed Ceres.
“We have an advantage;” Dephysus stated, “Vaderstein may have more soldiers, but we have the better weapons.”
Just then, almost as if in retaliation, the lasers hit an invisible force field and advanced on Dephysus’s aircrafts. The bright streams of light scattered off in all different directions, many of them obliterating the helicopters around Luke.
Dephysus’s expression went cold. He touched two fingers to his ears and pressed a button. “Ackbar, we’re useless against the force field unless we move in. We need to physically move inside the field and attack from inside.” He paused as he listened to Ackbar’s response. “Yes, I know it’s suicide, but it’s impossible for us to do anything outside of it. Command your team to move in. Okay.” Dephysus pressed a switch and the helicopter shot through the field; the others followed. Immediately, the spherical field became a massive pandemonium, lasers firing and bouncing off in different directions, causing hundreds of aircraft to explode.
Then, almost as if in slow motion, Luke spotted Vaderstein in his aircraft, a gigantic battleship surrounded with a force field of its own. It was firing enormous rockets at Dephysus’s fleet, instantly killing countless helicopters. Vaderstein seemed to be pleased with the outcome, sitting intently in the cockpit as he saw people die around him.
Crash! The glass in front of the cockpit of Dephysus’s helicopter broke into pieces. “Oh no,” Dephysus murmured, as he lifted his hand from his abdomen, revealing a gaping hole from an enemy laser. Blood began to spread from the wound, soaking his shirt and dripping onto the floor. He took one last hopeful look at Luke and collapsed in his seat.
“Dephysus!” Luke yelled as he tried to put pressure on the wound. But he knew that Dephysus was gone, never to come back again. Luke took control of the steering mechanism and soared to the top of the force field. Lasers bouncing off in all directions. Agonizing screams as people died. This isn’t going to work. There’s just too many of them.
Luke floored the pedal and barreled through the havoc, focusing on Vaderstein’s aircraft. He shut his eyes as he prepared for the collision, when a laser nicked the helicopter, sending Luke flying out through the broken glass. He soared in the air for a mere few seconds when he hit the inside of another helicopter with a crash! He quickly got back on his feet and took out his gun. He was inside an enemy ship. He skulked to the cockpit of the aircraft when he saw a shadow loom from behind a corner. A man stepped out. Vaderstein.
“Ah. Nice to see you, Luke,” the lunatic remarked, uninterested. “I see you escaped my soldier’s attempt to kill you before you could do any trouble, but I see he must have failed.”
Without thinking, Luke began firing his gun at Vaderstein. Lasers began to fly everywhere, but Vaderstein remained unhurt. Each laser made contact with him, but it calmly dissipated. Luke realized Vaderstein’s suit was made of a material resistant to lasers; there was no way Luke could stop him.
“We’re going to have to work with your first impressions,” Vaderstein said, shooting him an eerie smile.
“Why do you have to kill these innocent people?” Luke asked desperately. “They don’t have to die! They have nothing to do with your reputation in the scientific world, or your thirst for revenge! And you’re killing them with people who don’t even want to!”
“That’s the fun part, my dear boy. I’m going to make the world regret every single thing it did to me. I’m going to shame them, hurt them, and have fun doing it. How do you think it will make a father feel when his own daughter murders him in cold blood? Without she even knowing it? Maybe they’ll know what it feels like to be shamed! To have a part of them murdered!” He drew his gun on Luke. “Too bad you won’t be here to witness the fun we’ll be having.”
“Oh, he’ll be here. And you won’t be having any fun when I’m done with you,” a voice behind Luke spoke angrily. He turned around. Ceres stepped out from the shadows and faced Vaderstein. “Thought I was dead, huh? Maybe that’ll teach you to clean up after your messes. You’re not the only one with a force-field suit, Vaderstein.”
Vaderstein began to shoot Ceres with any weapon he could find, but the suit held up. She approached him slowly with a syringe about the size of her finger. Vaderstein spotted it and kicked it out of her hand, sending the needle flying. Ceres kicked him in the abdomen, sending him against the wall with a crash. As they fought, Luke saw the syringe plummet from the helicopter.
“Luke! You need to get the syringe and inject Vaderstein with the adamantium! It’s the only thing that can get through the suit!”
Thinking quickly, Luke grabbed the ground resistor and dove out of the aircraft. He spotted the syringe and caught it. That was when he realized he needed to get back up. Oh no. There’s no ground here. I’m just going to keep falling until I reach a planet, and who knows when that’s going to happen? He spotted a Rebel fighter plane and swiftly positioned his body. As it came up towards him, he absorbed the impact and flew with it straight up. The fighter in the plane figured out his plan and barreled through the air with impressive speed until he reached Vaderstein again. Luke leaped off the plane and saw Ceres lying unconscious at the corner of Vaderstein’s ship, Vaderstein poised to throw her off. Luke landed on the aircraft and charged at Vaderstein, syringe in hand. The last thing he saw was the needle sinking into Vaderstein’s arm as he yelled in pain. His body shot out streams of light and he fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Luke, still holding the ground-resistor, collapsed beside him, falling into unconsciousness as well. And everything went black.