BATTLE OF TWO WORLDS
“I know what’ll happen! I’ll be turned into scrap metal!” thought CYB-ORG, an artificial human who had been assigned to a temp position with a high-ranking member of the Alien Force. CYB was around six feet tall and silver all over, except for his eyes tinted light red. He had a diamond shape on his chest. He rarely had a good experience with the arrogant by-the-book Alien Force, and he was dreading this assignment.
CYB-ORG knocked on the door of the spaceship, and it instantly slid open. Cautiously, he stepped inside and peeked around the corner, finding a man in his late twenties standing at the controls of the ship. He had brown hair, an athletic build, and very handsome features. Next to him was a beautiful blonde woman, about the same age, who was providing assistance.
“Oh, hi there!” the man said. “My name is Bart Battly and this is my crewmate, Serena Gomitz.”
“Crewmate?!” the woman said.
“Okay, she’s a...friend.”
“Uh, yeah. I’m CYB-ORG, meaning cybernetic organism. I also answer to CYB, if you aren’t too formal.”
“Got it, CYB.”
CYB-ORG was very surprised, but he didn’t show it. He expected his new owners to be condescending and obnoxious, like most AF-ers.
“Hello, Bart. Is this the new metal-head?” A bipedal alien whose head looked like a grasshopper walked in. His whole body was green and he also had red eyes. He was slightly taller than Bart and wore a uniform similar to Bart’s.
“No, Lissk, this is our new work droid,” Bart said.
“Metal-head, work droid—same thing!” the bug-man replied. “Can I use him? The sensors on the starboard side hull indicate an air leak.”
“I guess, Lissk. But please don’t lash out and destroy him like the other two,” Bart requested.
“Okay. Let’s move it, uh...uh...I don’t know your name.”
“CYB-ORG. You can call me CYB.”
“Is that spelled C-Y-B or C-I-B?”
“Why don’t you take a guess?”
“Oh, how I despise robots!”
Meanwhile, back in the cockpit, Bart and Serena were fixing the control panel. Bart kept sneaking looks at the beautiful woman. And when she looked, he turned away. This act went on until Serena tried to make small talk with Bart.
“So Bart, how do you like Mocen so far?”
“I guess it’s a nice enough planet to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here.”
“You do live here! At least temporarily.”
“Yeah, temporarily! I like to wander. I’d rather spend a month living here in the Black Hole than another day on this planet!”
“Well, excuuuse me!”
They went back to work and Bart again stared at her long blonde hair. Just then a thick six-inch disc flew into the room. It halted in mid-flight and then fluttered over to the control panel Bart and Serena were working on.
“Hello, Captain!” a child-like voice greeted.
“Hi, Chip. Are your memory banks all backed up?”
“Yes they are!”
“Hey, Chip, could you get a matter displacer for me? There’s a bunch of gunk here behind the computer terminal,” Serena asked.
“I should remind you that I am a computer access memory robot, not a work droid! Where is that work droid you requested?” Chip inquired.
“Oh, Lissk is using him down on starboard.”
“Thank you, Miss Gomitz. Wheeee!”
And then Chip sped down the corridor.
“You’re doing a fine job on that hull, CYB,” Lissk said while sipping a glass of lemonade.
“Thanks, mister. It’s pretty easy.”
At that second, Chip came flinging down the corridor. “Wheeee...whoops!” He smashed through the hull that CYB-ORG was repairing, and then a section of the roof was dislodged from its fixture. After the dust had settled, a tiny “Uh-oh” could be heard from the small, floating disc.
CYB-ORG pushed away his metal trappings and said, “What in the blankety-blank plowed through here, a runaway laser beam?”
“No, just a Chip,” Lissk said after he recovered. “Chip!!”
“Yes, almighty bug-man?”
“It’ll take hours to fix and clean up this mess!”
“I calculate 3.467 hours.”
“’Scuse me, guys, but...what are you?” CYB asked Chip.
Lissk answered, “Oh, this is Chip, the clumsiest robot in the galaxy. He’s our information droid.”
“Hey, are you the new work droid?” Chip inquired.
“Yeah. What’s it to ya?” CYB-ORG returned.
“Nothing. Just nice to have another metal body around the ship.”
“Want some electronic vitalizers? We have a whole variety in the kitchen!”
“Okay. Can I take five, Lissk ol’ buddy?”
“Go ahead,” Lissk said as he surveyed the damage and sighed.
Minutes later, CYB and Chip were in the Black Hole’s mess hall, drinking what appeared to be oil. CYB-ORG’s light red eyes scanned the room and examined some interesting and obscure appliances. Then he noticed a datapad and walked over to see it.
“Hey, Chip, are these the upcoming flight plans?”
“Let me see.” A quiet whir sounded inside Chip’s electronic brain. “According to these plans, we are going on a cargo run to Tsunce tomorrow.”
“Tsunce! Out near the Spark Nebula, right? Isn’t that place under the control of...ulp...the Dictatorship?!”
“Yup! Oh boy, adventure!”
“Yeah. Adventure,” CYB said sarcastically.
Just then Bart and Serena walked into the room. CYB-ORG quickly set down the plans as he and Chip went back to their drinks.
“Hi guys. Fatso here got hungry, so we took a break,” Bart said as he polished his belt buckle.
“Fatso! I’ll have you know that I’ve stayed at a steady 120 for a long time!” Serena shot back.
“Yeah. 120 tons,” Bart whispered.
“What was that?”
“Yeah. You gained none.”
“I’ll accept that.”
Bart and Serena continued their passive-aggressive conflict for a few minutes while they each had a snack. Meanwhile, CYB-ORG recalled all of the terrible things he had heard of the Dictatorship. Ruled by the evil Dictator, the mysterious man with a computer-grid face, the Dictatorship was an empire of evil conquering planets and enslaving workers. The Dictator’s Guard, sometimes just called the Guard, were powerful and fearless, and many in number. Their only weakness was their gullibility. It would be impossible for two humans, two robots and a bug-man to withstand the Dictator.
“Do we have enough fuel to get to Tsunce tomorrow?”
“We should have plenty. I filled it five cycles ago.”
“Oh, Chip. I forgot to tell you. We’re going to Tsunce tomorrow on a fake cargo run, so you should get everything prepared.”
“I mean, I thought so.” Then very quietly, Chip emitted, “Ohboyohboyohboy!”
A member of the Dictator’s Guard in blue and yellow armor entered the huge room, hesitating for a moment to gather courage, and then walked up near a throne-like chair. The man genuflected and the chair slowly rotated, revealing a six-foot man wearing a grey robe. His face was a computer grid made up of multiple flickering colors, and his hands were as black as midnight. This man was the Dictator.
“Sir....” the guard choked out.
“Yes, my servant,” the grey-cloaked man replied.
“Routine status report. All guards are present and no prisoners have escaped.”
“Thank you, Admiral.”
The armored man slowly walked out of the massive room. Then the Dictator, leader of the empire of evil, thought about his archenemy, Bart Battly, and his colleagues in the Alien Force. That infernal multi-system organization squashed out chaos and kept the population of the galaxy in order, and had come close to beating the Dictatorship on multiple occasions. However, the Dictator did not concern himself with wins and losses. He despised Bart Battly not only for his skills in combat but also for his ideals.
“Why?!” the Dictator yelled, smashing a viewscreen to his right. “Why does Bart Battly persecute me so? Why can’t he leave the forces of evil alone?”
At that moment, Bart and CYB-ORG were loading the Black Hole with cargo. In the cargo hold, Lissk was checking the crates for damage. The CYB-ORG loaded a crate that pressed Lissk tightly between two of the metallic cubes. Lissk eventually escaped after many minutes of non-stop cussing and wriggling.
“CYB-ORG, you metal maniac! Were you aware that you had trapped my form between two of the crates you had loaded?”
“Let’s assume that I wasn’t aware,” snickered CYB.
“Look at all of this damage to my uniform! Now I have to go to all the trouble to repair these tears in the threadular restorer.”
“You mean the clothes fixer?”
“Oh, how I despise robots!”
Right then Chip was scanning the spaceship to confirm whether it was spaceworthy. He noticed a control rod on the portside of the spaceship in the engine room. A tracer? Based on its configuration and capabilities, Chip deduced that Bart installed it in the event that he was separated from the Black Hole and needed to locate its exact position. Chip whirred off away to the cockpit, taking care to reduce his speed so he wouldn’t crash again.
As the little droid whizzed into the small cockpit, Bart and Serena were arguing over who should hit the button to start the takeoff procedures on the spacecraft.
“You told me that the first mate could start the ship every fifth voyage!”
“But in the Handbook of Space Safety, it clearly states that the captain of a ship must always start the ship.”
CYB-ORG interrupted, “Hey guys, it’s a big button. Why don’t you both push it at the same time?”
“Fine. We’ll do that,” said the exasperated Serena.
The digital timer counted down to zero, and Bart and Serena pushed down on the button. They were flung into space at super speed and CYB, who hadn’t taken a trip through space in quite some time, flew backwards due to inertia.
“Ahhhhhhhhhh!” CYB screamed as he shot back through the corridor.
“Lissk, go check on CYB! Make sure he doesn’t break through the outer hull!” Bart yelled loudly.
“Okay, boss-man.” Lissk ran down the corridor.
Lissk, after running a short time after CYB-ORG, was puffing like a steam engine. As he neared the end of the metal hallway, he noticed five marks in a row on the wall, as if someone had dug their hands into the metal. Then he came to a room where CYB was getting up off the ground and rubbing his hands together. Chunks of metal clanked to the ground.
“Have a fun ride, metal-man?”
“Fer shure, bug-guy.”
“Come on, let’s go back to the cockpit,” Lissk said, starting off.
“Hey, why don’t we go through this teleporter?” CYB asked, pointing a shiny finger to a telephone booth-like object.
“Oh. I...uh...forgot about that.”
The two heroes walked together into the silvery teleporter. As they disappeared from the room, the control rod Chip had seen earlier was activated. A tiny red light blinked, and the tracer started to hum.
As Lissk and CYB appeared in another teleporter in the cockpit, Bart looked over his shoulder and said, “Welcome back, guys. Lissk, if you wouldn’t have taken off so fast I would have reminded you about the teleporter.”
“Oh, that’s okay. I...uh...needed the exercise.”
After that no one said a word. CYB-ORG, now tightly strapped in, polished his fingers. Bart stole glances at Serena’s beautiful legs, while Serena kept looking at Bart. Lissk was the only one making noise, humming Cherneko’s 8th Symphony. Chip was gliding around Lissk’s head, and Lissk was swatting at him as if he were a fly.
Two cycles later the ominous planet Tsunce came into view. One half of the planet was shimmering like ice and the other side was an eerie red-orange color, like fire. CYB-ORG let out a mechanical gulp as they neared a large docking bay at a settlement between the two halves.
They donned black jumpsuits and then the Black Hole landed in the docking bay.
“This is it,” Bart said.
Some of the Dictator’s Guard met the heroes on the way down the ramp of the spaceship. Bart clicked through the screens of the datapad with their false identities. The Guard invited the crew to the mess hall for dinner service. When Bart refused, Lissk intuited that Bart had a plan—he never refused food. From there, Bart, Serena, Lissk, CYB and Chip retired to refreshment compartments to prepare for their next steps.
“Whew! It feels good to have that black suit off of me. It does nothing for my silhouette,” Serena said, stripping off the outer layer.
“Okay, people. I have a plan,” Bart announced.
“Details please,” said Lissk.
“While the Guard is at the mess hall for dinner, we’ll destroy the computer banks in this outpost.”
“Whoa! How’re we gonna do that without getting killed?” CYB asked, cautiously.
“Simple! These places don’t have any female staff, so the Guard is desperate to see women. Serena can distract them by wearing that dress that shows off her legs. That will buy us just enough time.”
“Hey! Who volunteered for that?” Serena yelled. “I don’t want to go in front of love-starved guards showing off my legs.”
“You’ll be perfectly safe, Serena. I brought along a personal force field that you can wear on your belt.”
“I guess it sounds safe enough. And wearing that slinky dress is a good way to prove to you that I haven’t gained any weight.”
Two blue and yellow armored guards standing outside the computer banks whispered to each other. Then Bart, hidden from view, gave Serena the thumbs-up symbol. Serena gulped, then strutted in front of the guards. They didn’t notice her, so she cleared her throat. Then they looked her way. She scurried away and they followed, hooting and hollering, as they hadn’t seen a woman for dozens of cycles. Serena turned a corner and slipped into a closet, while the guards kept running down a hall.
At this time, Bart, Lissk, CYB and Chip slipped into the control rooms to destroy the computer banks.
“Blast this terminal, Captain,” Chip said.
“Okey dokey,” Bart replied as he blew apart the computer.
“This is taking so long,” Lissk yawned.
“Well, why don’t we set off this thermal detonator I’ve been waiting to use? It would be a lot faster,” CYB said.
“Why didn’t you say something before?!” Lissk yelled.
“You didn’t ask.”
“Oh, how I despise robots!”
They placed the thermal detonator in a strategic spot, then dashed out of the room. As the awesome explosion sounded, Serena came out of hiding and met the others.
“Great legs, babe!” CYB-ORG said, synthetic eyes bugging out.
“Stuff it, tin man, we gotta go!” Serena shot at him.
“Okay,” Bart said, flinging Serena over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
“Hey, what’re you...” Serena said, and then she realized that she was in Bart’s tan, muscular arms. She didn’t mind.
Bart, with Serena, was running in front of the other three. All of a sudden, a foot-thick metal barrier slammed down in front of Lissk, CYB-ORG, and Chip. They turned around and found themselves facing about fifty members of the Dictator’s Guard.
“I think we’re in trouble,” Lissk said.
“Nertz to you, bug-man. Let’s blow these turkeys away!” said CYB, jumping into the sea of blue and yellow helmets.
Lissk activated his personal force field and pulled out his laser gun. He downed four or five guards very quickly. CYB was doing very well too. He had slammed a few heads together, knocking them out cold. Meanwhile, Chip applied his computer brain to a logical solution. The tiny microcomputer found an electromagnet which he swiftly turned on. As CYB was about to smash two more heads together the guards were jerked upward, toward the ceiling.
“What the....” CYB started to say, and then he noticed all the guards flying upward. The electromagnet had attracted every member of the Guard toward the magnet.
“Yaaayy! Good thing me and CYB are made of non-magnetic metal!” Chip cheered.
“Not to mention my Smith and Wesson Model 3000 12 Gauge laser rifle,” Lissk intervened.
Lissk used his belt buckle camera to capture a picture of the trapped guards, snickering, and then CYB led the way down another corridor to find an escape route.
Serena jogged down the hallway, anxious about their missing friends and the unclear plans for an escape. Bart, running next to her, wore a big smile as if nothing had happened. As they turned a corner to check their position, she blew her stack.
“You heartless fiend! Lissk and the droids could have been destroyed by now, and you’re sitting there smiling like we’re on a pleasure cruise to New Miami!”
“Relax, ’rena, I’m sure Lissk is just fine. He might be a pain in the neck, but he’s also a longtime member of the Alien Force. And the droids are both very resourceful.”
Serena looked away and shook her head. He may have been right, but she certainly didn’t want to admit it. When she looked back to Bart, he was no longer beside her. “Bart! Bart! Where are you, you big pile of muscle?”
The “big pile of muscle” was sliding down a chute, as he had fallen through a hidden trapdoor. He hit the ground, knocking the wind from his lungs, and then stopped for a moment to gather his bearings. As he stood up, he saw a shadowy figure looming over him. That grey-cloaked man was the Dictator.
“You scummy slimebag,” Bart whispered.
“I heard that, Battly. You’re looking well these days. Too bad they will be your last days.” And with that, the Dictator pulled a laser gun out of nowhere and started blasting.
Meanwhile, Lissk, CYB-ORG and Chip had taken a few wrong turns and were no closer to the Black Hole than they were at the beginning of the assault on Tsunce.
“What do you suggest, Chip?” asked Lissk.
“Based on my scans and my knowledge of Dictatorship outposts, the most direct route back to our ship is through the wall at the end of this corridor.”
“But how can we go through a wall?”
“Easy, bug-head. We hit it until it gives way!” shouted CYB- ORG, and then he used his mighty metal arm to pound the wall. Three awesome clanging blows later, a huge portion of the wall crumbled into fist-sized bits.
“That was easy enough,” CYB bragged.
“Maybe for you, metal-muscle,” Lissk grumbled.
After they walked for a bit they saw Serena, sitting on the ground, sobbing.
“Serena, what’s the matter? Where’s Bart? Are you hurt?” Lissk inquired.
“I’m alone, he disappeared, and no,” she answered.
Chip emitted, “Assuming that Bart did not step into a transporter, logic suggests that his sudden disappearance may have been caused by a trapdoor in the floor. So I will search the floor for trapdoors!”
“Do it, little guy!” CYB said.
After three minutes of searching and scanning, Chip discovered the trapdoor. “Yippee!” celebrated the childlike Chip.
“Can you open it, Chip?”
“I think so, Miss Gomitz. But only long enough to let myself through.”
“Okay, Chip. Slip in there and hurry back.”
Bart was struggling to resist the Dictator’s attack. He was only able to dodge the Dictator’s early blasts due to his reflexes and plain luck, and his powerful metal whip had barely deflected the others. Just as one of the shots nicked Bart’s shoulder and he fell down in pain, Chip the mini-robot made his entrance.
Chip quickly analyzed the situation and arrived at a solution. He swiftly flew to the evil Dictator’s head and attached himself to a data port. A small spinning hum could be heard and the Dictator’s computer-grid face went black.
“I—I can’t see!” the Dictator screamed. He swatted Chip away from his head and sent the small robot spinning.
Bart cracked his mighty whip. “This ends now!” he bellowed, gearing up to strike his enemy. He set the whip to ensnare mode, and just as the whip was about to reach its intended target, the Dictator faded away like a hologram.
“Do not be alarmed, Captain. Based on the energies that I am reading, The Dictator was teleported to safety and is now out of our reach,” Chip reassured.
“Doggone it! He slipped through our fingers again!”
“As they say, Captain, we’ll get ’em next time.”
“Let’s find a way out of here, Chip ol’ buddy.”
Meanwhile, Serena was ruining her manicure, CYB-ORG played a video game on a removable section of his wrist, and Lissk straightened his Alien Force uniform.
“What could be taking Chip so long?” Serena whined.
“He’s probably just messing around,” Lissk said.
“I bet the little guy is locked up in a fight. If he is, he better crush ’em into bits and pieces!”
“Oh, CYB, your behavior is so warlike!” Serena criticized.
“It’s easy to be warlike when you like war.”
Just then the trapdoor opened and Chip flew out. Then a laser bolt blew the door off. Slowly, Bart Battly stumbled out.
“Good, you’re back. We need to get out of here. Come on!” Serena ordered.
“Happy to see me, I guess,” Bart said.
“Yeah, I am. Let’s go!”
Bart, hardly able to walk, ambled along behind the others. When CYB noticed Bart, he ran back to assist him.
“C’mon, big guy, we’re going to be blasted to microbes if we don’t hurry up!”
“No we’re not,” Bart managed to say. “I brought along a transporter that can instantly take us all back to the Black Hole.”
“Then why didn’t you use it earlier?”
“I wanted to see how scared Serena could get,” Bart chuckled.
“Well, turn it on!” CYB said impatiently.
“Okay,” Bart said, and pulled out a device that looked exactly like the “tracer” Chip had seen when the team was departing from Mocen. Then he pressed a button and in a flash of light, Bart, Serena, Lissk, CYB and Chip vanished.
The grey-cloaked Dictator had been transported into orbit, where his awesome command ship the Supernova awaited Bart and his friends in the upper atmosphere of Tsunce. Technicians had attached cables to his head and were working on his grid-face. Half of the lights in his head were on, and the rest were still darkened. The Dictator held his hands folded on his lap as he awaited further information. Just then a navigator yelled, “Sir! The Black Hole approaching from 125 degrees!”
“Ready the guns,” the Dictator said, hiding his nervousness.
Inside the Black Hole, things were not going smoothly.
“You had the transporter in your pocket the whole time and you didn’t use it?”
“Well...Serena, I forgot about it.”
“Sure! Bart, the forgetful ox!”
“Just a minute, Lissk.”
“Just a minute, Lissk.”
“Guys, the Supernova is about to blast us into micro-bits!”
“Not on my watch!” Bart’s reflexes took over. He slammed the switch to hyperspace and did a nosedive with the ship. Then he turned the ship the opposite way and was flung into space. As the ship went into hyperspace, a blinding laser bolt hit the starboard side, throwing Serena against the computer terminal.
“Ow!” Serena wailed. “Your sloppy last-second escape almost dislocated my shoulder, you idiotic brute!”
“Stop being such a crybaby,” Bart returned. “My shoulder is a mess, too.”
“Could the two of you please stop bickering for a minute? Just one minute?” CYB howled in exasperation.
The two of them remained quiet for the voyage home.