The Hero From Meridell: Part Seven
Also by bestpet21
Unfortunately for Zamrin, the pod was no longer programmed to fly directly to the moon base. He would have to figure it out on his own, which added to the particular stupidity of his plan. It would be quite a long shot to get his friend out of there successfully, but he had to at least try.
Zamrin skimmed over the various buttons' labels. He didn't understand half of them, so he blindly pushed several, hoping that at least one of them would turn the pod on. After a flurry of windshield wipers and several lights blinking incessantly, the pod finally started up. Zamrin high-fived himself and proceeded to back out of the dock, guessing correctly that the stick in the middle of the control panel was the throttle. He banged against one of the arms keeping the pod docked in the station and winced when he heard a loud squeak signaling the arm's scratching against the pod's side. After several nail-biting minutes, he was out of the dock and facing the moon. Luckily, as far as distance in space goes, Kreludor was not far away.
He proceeded slowly and carefully. Once his elbow accidentally brushed against the gravity button, toggling it off and causing him to drift up towards the roof of the pod. It was quite a struggle to get back in his seat and reactivate the gravity, but he managed, and was once more cruising through space and chuckling to himself.
At last he came into Kreludor's orbit, and landed sloppily in one of its craters. He came out of the pod, coughing at the smoke, and tumbling down its side. It was half-destroyed and would probably never fly again, but at least he himself was still in one piece, and he could still at least get Kade out of harm's way by simply running away from the base once he had rescued her. And he would rescue her.
He approached the base slowly and cautiously, wondering to himself just how he was going to sneak in this time. He doubted another hovercraft with a large covered trailer would conveniently swing by just when he needed it. There had to be some other way to get inside, and the only thing that came to his mind was force.
Zamrin was squeamish about the idea. He barely knew how to hold a sword, let alone swing it, and he was completely defenseless against the Grundos' blasters. The element of surprise was clearly his only option, but unfortunately he had never considered himself to be very graceful. He rubbed his chin, thinking to himself whether there was another way to get into the base, when, suddenly, a craft shot by about 100 feet in front of him, interrupting his thoughts. When he looked up to see what it was, he saw several prisoners seated in the craft, chained at the wrists and knees. One of them was Kade. She fixed her bright, yet determined eyes on him, and he snapped out of his reverie. He ran as fast as he could after the craft, but it was going too fast for him to keep up on foot. After a few moments of pursuit, it disappeared over the horizon.
He stopped and bent over to catch his breath, clasping his knees and panting heavily. A noise behind him startled him and he saw a thin pink Poogle sitting in a hovercraft next to him. “Need a ride?” she offered.
Zamrin nodded, not hiding the smile of relief that quickly warmed his face. He got in, and told her to follow the hovercraft that had just past them. She knew what he was talking about and floored her craft to maximum speed, explaining herself as she drove. “I'm with the Space Station,” she said, “one of the scouts that's supposed to keep an eye on the base... I couldn't help noticing a stray Kacheek wandering out in the middle of the moon.”
“I'm with the Space Station, too,” Zamrin said significantly, trying to sound as cool and collected as possible.
“I know,” said the Poogle, “I heard that your partner was captured during the last mission... that you fled.”
Zamrin hung his head. “Can I tell you a secret?” he muttered.
“Sure,” she said, “I'm good with secrets. Anything you tell me is completely off the record.”
“I'm not really a warrior. Rylar's spy was misinformed. I've hardly ever held a sword in my life.” Zamrin suddenly felt a huge weight lift from his chest, but it was only a partial relief.
“Is that true?” The Poogle raised her eyebrows.
“Yes... apparently, the spy wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed, if you know what I mean.”
“Cute little idiom you used there. Let me guess... you're a farmer?”
Zamrin nodded. “Born and raised on Meri Acres.”
“The way I heard it was that the folks in Meri Acres had excellent skill with the blade,” she said distantly.
“Where did you hear that?”
“I'm Rylar's spy, genius. When I was poking around in Meridell, I overheard some locals talking about it.”
Zamrin suddenly realized that he had insulted the Poogle to her face inadvertently. “I'm so sorry...” he said sincerely.
“Don't worry about it.” She waved her forefoot to indicate its insignificance. “Everyone makes mistakes... and it looks like I did too.”
“Not really...” Zamrin said, “You see, lots of us farmers use a scythe to cut their crops. It's an instrument with a sharp blade, and that's what those people probably meant when they were referring to us.”
The Poogle's face contorted into the basic “Oh! Now I get it” face. “Just a simple misinterpretation then,” she said.
Zamrin allowed for a short period of silence and then spoke once more. “What's your name?” he asked.
The Poogle smiled and held her head up above his, which was difficult considering her stature. “That's classified,” she said with an air of importance. “But you can call me Zee if you like.”
“Maybe... maybe not,” she said with mystery in her voice. She was clearly enjoying her classified status.
It was then that the hovercraft they were following paused at the Orange Moon Base, the main headquarters of the Grundos. The passengers got off with much difficulty, due to their chained feet, and proceeded to shuffle inside, following a short, stout Grundo who appeared to be in charge of them.
“Which one's your friend?” said Zee, being somewhat aware of the situation only by hearsay.
“The Eyrie,” Zamrin pointed, and just as he did, she threw a glance back in their direction. She smiled, but neither Zamrin nor the Poogle could see it from the distance.
Zee continued to pilot the craft forward without hesitation, approaching dangerously close to the Moon Base. “Whoa! Whoa!” Zamrin half-whispered, half-shouted at the top of his lungs. “Don't get too close! They'll see us!”
Zee just chuckled and muttered something about his naivety as she drew up closer. The guard at the front stopped her. Almost immediately he recognized her and said, “Oh! Miss Narmax! You may enter.”
“Thank you,” she said reservedly and continued moving forward. She whispered to the bewildered Kacheek at her side. “The ship is cloaked right now. To everyone else, we appear to be fellow orange Grundos. But, so you know, as soon as we leave the ship, the cloak will have no effect over us.”
Zamrin nodded, amazed at the strange technology. A few meters down the way, Zee pulled to a stop next to some other parked crafts. “The prison is down that far corridor,” she said, rolling her head in that direction. “If we can make it down there without any trouble, I might be able to free your friend.”
“Might?” Zamrin asked nervously.
“Yeah. Might. But don't get your hopes up. This is a really stupid mission as it is. You really should have waited until we won the battle.”
“I had no idea they were going to transfer her! I thought she would be in the base when the war started.”
“Well, we're here now,” said the Poogle. “And it could be years, even if we win the war, before they release your friend, so it's best to get it over with now, right?”
It was a rhetorical question that didn't require an answer, so both got out of the hovercraft in silence. They proceeded as stealthily as they could towards the holding cells, making it safely and undiscovered. Kade rose when she saw them, “I knew you'd come for me, Zamrin.”
“Of course,” he replied, and suddenly rescuing his friend didn't seem like such a silly idea after all.
The Poogle fiddled with the different gizmos next to the cell and proclaimed that she would have Kade out in a matter of minutes.
Zamrin sighed in relief, but it didn't last long. He heard footsteps and saw a shadow emerging over the corner of the corridor. The stout Grundo appeared, seeing them immediately. “Sound the alarm!” he shouted into his communications device and then ran towards them. Neither of them had any time to dodge the blaster fire. Both Zamrin and Zee were unconscious in a matter of seconds, and they were dragged into Kade's cell.
There was no hope now. They had all been captured.
To be continued...