HFO Post 64 is a major cross-over event Post that connects with a series of posts across three other Books; CatH Post 45 of Clear and the Hopeless, NeS2 Post 1917 of The Neverending Story 2 and Pan Post 11 of Pantheons of the NeSiverse. Dr R. Deep and Magick Snowflakes are training on Orbital One, where Magick needs to learn control by fighting holograms. Their magic has been limited since the nexus chain of Earth was damaged by the Trans-Terra-Terrorists and Latter-Day Greys of Memnoch in HFO Post 63. An ancient ship suddenly appears, which CynthAI identifies as a former derelict that had once orbited Mars. A woman named Cassra Terrin-Pullista appears on the communications, telling them the ship is called The Hopeful. A smaller ship also arrived and she tells Deep that on the ship is a Sith who is very dangerous and in league with the Latter-Day Greys. He has kidnapped a princess - Princess Aurora Briarose - and intends to use her to unleash magic of Albion against the Earth. Deep contacts Judge, who was ordered to take leave on Earth, and orders her to Stonehenge, along with her go Agent Mulligan and Citizen Rex. However, CynthAI alerts Deep that more ships have arrived, these from the Galactic Empire of the Milky Way, and intend to invade the Earth. Fortunately, the Rebel Alliance then shows up. Captain Ace Lander assures Cassra that the rebels will deal with the Star Destroyers, meaning Hero Force One must deal The Majectic, though most of its Stormtroopers had already descended to the Earth. Deep knows that with thier limited magic, they won't be able to get near to the ship until Magick admits that they could if they got help from High Imp as she had taught him her strongest shield spell - in HFO Post 52. The shuttle takes them towards the ship and High Imp's shield holds, much to the relief of everyone onboard. When Flax Hyperon hears the voice of Cassra over the communications, he is smitten and wants to sleep with her. She is surprised that Flax didn't even offer a date first, but doesn't seem unhappy with Flax' advances. Benjamin Mahir thinks she shouldn't encourage him. Flax starts to try to tell one of his stories that involved him and his brother, Duke Hyperon, in the Zero Zone, but Benjamin cuts him off. Cassra comments on the lack of unity on this team and Deep apologises to her. She then admits that she had to be knocked out by her own captain's, using her thighs, when she was being mind controlled, which happened in CatH Post 42. When both Ben and Flax are excited by this, Seraphim threatens to throw them both out of the airlock, but Magick states that she enjoys Flax' stories and that everyone could learn from them. Ben admits he just hates the boasting and bragging and thinks the stories aren't even real, so Flax remarks that this is because Ben feels less of a man and assures Ben he could work at it to become more likee Flax. This is followed by another voice on the communications as someone from The Hopeful comes with this, this time Lord Kassuin, who is an Æon Lord. Once aboard The Majestic, the fighting begins instantly. They tackle stormtroopers, with Seraphim taking point. Dr R. Deep uses his swords with magic aura to slice his way through them, despite not having full access to his magic. High Imp continues to shield everyone until the Æon ship of Kassuin flies in and uses its blasters to mow down the rest of the enemy. When Kassuin admits he would have preferred a subtle approach, Deep suggsts that Hero Force One act as a decoy while slips through the ship, much to Ben's horror. They plan to reach the hyperspace field generator and Kassuin offers to go with Ben . Ben uses his wererat ability to turn into a rat and lead Kassuin along the ship, avoiding any trouble and activating door switches. Eventually they reach the power core, which activates the hyperspace of the ship. Meanwhile, the rest of the team reach the bridge of the ship where they encounter Captain Rynard, thanks to data from Cassra, and Flax shoots him. The other imperials then surrender and Ben communicates with Deep that they have the hyperspace field generator. They redirect power into the ion cannon, the only weapon of a galleon-class ship, and use it to render other imperial ships inert, so the rebels could destroy them with ease. As Ben and Kassuin are making their escape, however, the run into an AT-MTT, commonly called a Rabbit Walker, which is able to leap many storeys. When it lands on the bridge they're stood on, the bridge buckles and breaks. Kassuin uses the Force to save himself and leaves Ben to his fate. Ben, however, as a rat, manages to jump from atop of the AT-MTT before they hit the ground and save his own life. When Kassuin meets with Hero Force One in the hangar, he bluntly tells them that Ben is dead and leaves. The heroes are miserable, but they get onto the shuttle to leave. Then Deep gets a communication. He had expected Cassra, but it turns out to be Ben, who remembered where the escape pods were and managed to get off the ship in time. Deep remarks that he is the luckiest Company Kid ever.
The Pantheon: TBA
Dr R. Deep: "Concentrate on just one of them, Magick."
Magick focuses and lets loose with a blast of powerful magic. The energy propels across the room and slams into a single being - which then explodes and kills the other holograms too. Dr R. Deep sighs.
Magick: "Sorry. Accident..."
Dr R. Deep: "It's always an accident, Magick. They happen too often. You need to learn how to control yourself."
Magick: "I know, I know. It's just hard to focus right now wi--"
An alarm blares and the lights shift to red alert.
CynthAI: "We have trouble."
The holographic display in the training room changes into a large virtual map of the solar system. It zooms to the Earth and the two Hero Force One members can see that trouble. A gigantic monolith of a ship has appeared in the system and orbits the Earth, very close to the moon. When the databanks are done searching for information they report that the ship was considered an ancient derelict that orbited Mars. Dr Deep frowns.
Dr R. Deep: "Open a communication with them. Let's see what they want."
CynthAI: "You should know that another unknown vessel has broken the Earth's atmosphere. The trajectory of the ship is England."
A holographic image appears in the room. It's a woman with navy blue hair gelled close to her scalp, white skin but also strangely blue lips. She wears white armour similar to the stormtroopers that once invaded the Earth several years ago - a major event that most heroes of Earth know all about.
Dr R. Deep: "I'm Dr R. Deep. What brings you to the Earth?"
Dr R. Deep: "Indeed? Not the words I usually hear from trespassers..."
Cassra: "You'll just have to trust me on this. Another, smaller, ship came before me. It contains a renegade sith. He's only an apprentice but he's dangerous. To make it worse he has a woman, a princess, that he's kidnapped and intends to use her to take control of some magical beings on your planet. He'd use them to take control of the Earth and, if my sources are right, his group wants to wipe out all human life."
Dr R. Deep: "Judge. How soon can you get to the UK?"
Judge: "Already there, boss. I'm with Citizen Rex."
Agent Mulligan: "And me! Sir."
Judge: "And the idiot's handler."
Citizen Rex: "Agent 12 isn't an idiot!"
Agent Mulligan: "Sir, she didn't mean me."
Dr R. Deep: "There's a ship bound for England. I'll keep you updated on the exact location when we know it. Get ready."
He turns back to the hologram of Cassra Terrin-Pullista.
Dr R. Deep: "What's the group you speak of?"
Cassra: "The Latter-Day Greys of Memnoch. Have you heard of them before?"
He closes his eyes and lowers his head. The group is now infamous amongst hero circles after they helped the Trans-Terror-Terrorists to destroy the nexus of magic on Earth. Both Deep and Magick spent weeks ill and today is the first time they've tried to manipulate any magic at all. Just an hour of magic usage leaves them weary. And now they're back.
CynthAI: "They appear to be targeting Stonehenge. Also network activity has escalated and terrorist cells have lit up all over the UK. It seems the enemy has resurfaced."
Dr R. Deep: "Judge. Stonehenge. Be prepared."
CynthAI: "Other ships have entered the system, by the way."
Dr R. Deep: "What do you mean 'by the way'? How long have they been there?"
CynthAI: "You were busy talking to your new friend. I didn't wish to interrupt."
Cassra: "Sounds like you have A.I. problems."
Dr R. Deep: "That is an understatement."
Her image disappears but the line is still active. The image of the Earth swivels around so that Deep and Magick can see the enemy fleet. The same Imperials are back after all. After so long. There had been an essence of the imperials on Earth ever after the former failed invasion, but nothing like this. Starfighters burst from the Star Destroyers and lambda shuttles, filled with stormtroopers, issue forth.
Dr R. Deep: "We have to stop the imperials. I have someone on Earth that can deal with your renegade but I have to stop this invasion."
Cassra: "Got it. I have to report to my captain. Give me a minute."
Her image fades as she turns her attention to another conversation.
Magick: "What will we do, doctor? How can we stop a fleet of ships like this?"
Dr R. Deep: "You forget, Magick. We did this once already. And then there were more ships."
Magick: "But... we weren't alone..."
He concedes that she's right. But, as though answering Magick's concerns, a second fleet of ships bursts from hyperspace. The signatures mark the ships as the Rebel Alliance and, from Deep's limited knowledge of alien politics, they're in direct opposition to the empire.
Dr R. Deep: "I'm still here."
Cassra: "Seems we have assistance. Captain Ace Lander of the rebellion assures us that he's going to take care of those Star Destroyers. That means all we have to worry about is The Majestic. It's a Galleon class capital ship so there's usually an abnormally high number of stormtroopers onboard. But they're all off planetside. So we only have to worry about the installed defences. Turrets and the like."
Dr R. Deep: "Not a problem. The real question is... how do we get aboard it?"
He regrets that Judge isn't with them. She could project a shield around a ship to keep them safe. Deep could do something similar but he's afraid it would take too much of his magical reserve to pull off. After the cataclysm all magic users have been unable to generate much in the way of power.
Magick: "We just shield a ship and fly in."
Dr R. Deep: "Already considered that, Magick. We'd use too much of our magical energy before we even reached the ship. We'd be useless there after."
Magick: "Erm... there... is someone..."
Dr R. Deep: "Who?"
Magick: "I sort of taught my most powerful shield spell to High Imp..."
Dr R. Deep glares at her.
Dr R. Deep: "We'll discuss this later. Summon the team to the hangar."
Soon they have all gathered in the ship and strap in. They have gone through the plan and have all agreed. Somewhere at the back they also have Judge's Yoshi who gobbles up a random space helmet. Hopefully they don't need to evacuate or someone will find themselves in trouble.
Dr R. Deep: "High Imp. The shield spell."
The ship flies free of Orbital One, guided by CynthAI. High Imp concentrates and extends his arms. He is a very tall demon and takes up a lot of space in the small shuttle craft already. Now the others have to move out of his way.
Benjamin Mahir edges closest to Deep and Magick, fearful of High Imp's presence. Even Seraphim is uncomfortable with him around, but that's because her essence is corroded by his presence as his is by hers. Deep can only imagine how their skin must constantly crawl when around each other. Yet Seraphim's lover is the ruler of Hell itself, so perhaps she enjoys the sensation. Further at the back is Flax Hyperon, who fortunately chose to stay with Hero Force One for a while after coincidentally helping them a while ago. Deep is sure he only stays because he wants to woo Seraphim and Judge.
As the ship crosses the void between the spacestation and the imperial ship, laser fire erupts all around them and strikes the magical barrier that High Imp has protecting them. It holds up without concern.
Flax: "Good job, big guy."
High Imp: "You're welcome."
He glances towards Deep, knowing that he wouldn't be happy with taking the spell from his little apprentice. Deep doesn't react and simply stares coldly at High Imp with unmoving features. This is, of course, Deep's default face and means nobody ever knows what he's thinking or feeling.
Cassra: "I've sent CynthAI the maps of The Majestic."
Her voice rings out of the speakers.
Dr. R. Deep: "Thank you, Cassra."
Flax: "Now there's a voice to make love to. Who are you, Ms Foxy Voice?"
Cassra: "Uh... I'm Cassra Terrin-Pullista."
Ben: "Better not talk to him, Cassra. You'll only encourage him."
Flax: "Old Flax is already encouraged! When are you off work, sugar pie? We have love to make."
Cassra: "Wow. Not even a dinner date first?"
Flax: "I'm happy to go through the motions, babe. But it's the main event I'm looking forward to."
Cassra: "First you have to survive that death trap."
Ben: "Flax! Stop! Please stop! We don't want to hear anymore of your adventure stories!"#
Flax: "Alright, little buddy. Sorry. I didn't mean to undermine your manhood."
Ben: "...my what?"
Flax: "I get it. I know you feel inadequate in the presence of such a man as myself. I would too. I am a fine specimen of masculinity."
Ben: "I hate my life..."
Flax: "No need for that, little man. Just takes the will and determination to sculpt a form of this calibre. I did most of my training when I was trapped in the Zero Zone with my brother and wow was he competitive. We spent--"
Ben: "No. More. Stories! Please!"
Cassra: "Wow. What a cohesive team you have there."
Dr R. Deep: "I apologise, Cassra. We must sound unprofessional to you."
Cassra: "It's okay. My captain had to knock me out with her thighs of steel yesterday because I was being pheromone controlled by this evil guy trying to blow up a planet."
Hero Force One spend a moment in silence.
Ben: "She knocked you out with her thighs?"
Flax: "I want to see that."
Seraphim: "I think I'm going to launch you both out of an airlock. That would bring a quiet sense of zen to our team, I think."
Magick: "I like your stories, Flax. They're very exciting. I think we could learn a lot about the galaxy from his adventures!"
Ben: "Magick... It's not the information that isn't interesting. It's the boasting and, honestly, I don't believe half of them."
Flax: "I know little Magick likes the juicy parts, doncha pig-tails?"
Ben: "She doesn't even have pig-tails..."
CynthAI: "A new communication is coming through."
Dr R. Deep: "Let's hear it."
A silken, deep voice slips through the speakers.
Dr R. Deep: "There isn't. We're using magic to project our shield."
Kassuin: "Quite. Whatever you're doing it is working. Once we're aboard I'll meet with your group and we'll begin our progression through the ship. I hope you have more than just a shield to show me."
Dr R. Deep: "I'm sure we do."
The subtle approach was considered. They could hide in the cargo hold of the shuttle and wait for danger to pass so they could sneak about the ship. But that just isn't the style of Hero Force One. A mission that doesn't include at least one big explosion is a mission going badly.
Before CythAI has even landed the craft, Seraphim kicks the door off its tether. The door spins straight into a group of stormtroopers standing in a very convenient line. At the sudden, and unexpected, aggression, the stormtroopers start firing into the magical shield. Seraphim jumps through that shield and bowls over several soldiers with her light-formed wings. She lands on the soldier that appears to be a captain, given away by the bright insignia on his cloak, and slams his head into the ground with such force that the helmet and his skull become mush. As the troopers open fire in desperate horror she leaps up into the air, rendering the captain's corpse riddled with laser holes.
From the doorway of the shuttle, Flax opens fire on the crowd. His ray gun zaps rings of plasma energy at the troopers, whose armour never expected to face such exotic weapons and they're rendered immobile.
Flax: "Faceless enemy hordes. Run-of-the-mill in my line of work. These fellas though, pretty sure my brother has been sorting them out for a while now. Good old Duke. Not as sexy as me, of course. But I'm the older brother, so what do you expect? Always wants to be like me, he does."
Dr R. Deep: "Family commentaries come after the mission, Flax."
Deep drops from the ship and lands with a cool sweep of his trenchcoat. He may not be able to exert the full extent of his magical powers but he can still severe limbs. He whips his swords from the sheaths at his back and swings them to block incoming laser fire. Purple aura surrounding the blades sparks every time a bolt hits the sword, resulting in a light show followed by sudden carnage. Deep aims from the black weak points in the armour, clearly allowing for joint movement but exposing vulnerable points to any skilled in swordsmanship. He slices the backs of knees, waists, necks, armpits - all spraying blood from major arteries.
The stormtroopers fall back and begin to regroup in rank and file near the exits of the hangar. In their midst Deep sees that they're settling up gatling lasers.
Dr R. Deep: "High Imp!"
High Imp ducks his head as he exits the, now landed, shuttle. His tall, muscular figure is the colour of rust and from his bald scalp protrude two massive, twisted horns. From his back are six black-feathered wings with dozens of eyes glaring out from them. Looking like something straight from a nightmare, some of the stormtroopers are visibly shaken. The demon takes two bounds and spreads his arms out. The magical barrier rises just in time as lasers spray hot and aggressive from the gatling guns. Magick and Ben quietly vacate the shuttle and remain at the back of the group for safety. Without Judge only magic seems the viable solution to the gatling guns - until the grotesque green ship of Kassuin glides above them and opens fire. Ship-based weapons are powerful at the best of times but used against land-targets they can be devastating. The lasers tear through the gatling lasers and soldiers standing near them. They open fire on the Æon ship but barely have the chance to put a dent in it before Seraphim is upon them again. A spear of light crashes through one soldier's head, then bounces from head-to-head and chases them down as they run for their lives.
The Æon ship lands and the hatch opens to reveal an unusual alien with dark purple skin that shines under the artificial lights of the hangar. His face is thin and elongated with a squashed nose beneath a bone ridge that runs up the centre of his face and protrudes from the top of his skull, where it ends with a bulb shape. Where he ought to have hair he has black bone that looks akin to a headdress. The thin, wispy white hair that he does have hangs from the bone apertures of this bone structure. Deep wonders if the stormtroopers could truly be terrified of High Imp when aliens like Kassuin wander around.
Dr R. Deep: "Lord Kassuin."
Kassuin: "You must be Dr Deep. Once again, I'm impressed with your work. Quite a mess you've left here. I was hoping for a more subtle approach, but I guess this works."
Dr R. Deep: "I think the subtle approach is still an option. We've created enough of a mess to cause distraction. I have one individual that's particularly skilled at infiltration. We'll hand him a map of the ship and he can disable systems with ease."
Deep holds out a tablet for Ben to take. Ben stares in horror.
Ben: "You want me to go alone!?"
Deep doesn't take his eyes off Kassuin.
Dr R. Deep: "Not all team members exemplify bravery..."
Ben, trembling, takes the tablet. It displays a map of the ship with a specific target marked.
Kassuin: "I'll go with him."
Flax: "You'll miss out on the real action."
Dr R. Deep: "We'll head for the bridge. If we can't push through the enemy defences, you're to destroy that target."
Ben lets Kassuin see the tablet.
Flax: "The solar ionization reactor."
Deep looks at Flax with surprise.
Flax: "Sometimes I don't understand what I'm saying."
Kassuin: "The reactor. Sometimes they call it a miniature sun. It's actually a hyperspace field generator. I think I could wipe out the whole ship if sabotaged properly... you said you're headed to the bridge?"
Dr R. Deep: "Yes."
Kassuin takes the tablet from Ben and starts typing into the system. He hands it back and Ben sends the data to Deep's own tablet.
Kassuin: "Do that and this battle will be over..."
Dr R. Deep: "Now I'm impressed."
Ben scuttles along the shiny floor of the long corridor. A small black robot scuttles alongside him. He shoos the robot, fearing it might draw attention to him. However the ship's forces seem to be well-drawn into conflict with the other members of Hero Force One. He squeaks loudly, the cue for Kassuin to follow his lead. As a rat he is barely noticeable by anyone still lurking around these quiet corridors. He hops down a gentle ramp and skids around a corner, finding it difficult to keep his footing on such a smooth surface. Before him is a sudden immeasurable drop into what he presumes is oblivion. He looks over the edge but quickly scurries back. Who the Hell designs these places? He notices a a central bridge between him and the opposite side of the eternal drop. However it is currently facing the wrong way, connecting the two horizontal corridors to his position. He looks up at the wall and sees a control panel. Quickly he shifts from his rat form back into a human and pushes the panel. The bridge slowly grinds round and he transforms back into his rat shape. He shakes himself. It's always an unpleasant sensation when he does that.
He runs across the bridge, refusing to take his eyes off of the far door - endless pits have never agreed with his stomach. When he gets to the far end the doors sense him, even in his minuscule form, and slide open. He squeaks again, gauging the coast to be clear. Not far now according to that map. Ben has never been good at many things except his one talent for turning into a rat and the other, lesser used, ability to remember stuff really well. After studying the map he knows his way towards the reactor core easily enough. The weird alien should be coming up several metres behind.
The rat finally reaches the last leg. Suddenly laser bolts strike terror into his little rat-heart and he leaps back into cover. Two turrets stand either side of the door blocking his access to the reactor room. More of a lover than a fighter, Ben sits and waits. Eventually Kassuin appears and spies the waiting rat. Ben doesn't bother to transform and explain. He just sits and waits. Let the big guy do his part of the deal. Kassuin jumps out and from his extended hand hurtles red streaks of lightning that make short work of both turrets in one blast. Ben would have been impressed if he didn't see such things from a teenage girl on a daily basis.
He runs out and ahead of Kassuin again. The doors open and inside they find a monstrous structure. As large as any power plant, the 'miniature sun' is a deserved title. It's a massive metal structure but through a single shielded window he can see blue-white flowing energy that must be the hyperspace spoken of by Kassuin. He thinks it's beautiful but Ben, in all his usual cynicism, knows many beautiful things can be deadly. Two of them were on his team and they were two of the most deadly women on Earth.
Ben: "How will you destroy it?"
Kassuin: "It won't take much."
Ben scrambles up a nearby console, situated within an empty guardpost. He finds the communications and locates the frequency of Deep's tablet.
Magick raises her arms and pillars of purple energy spring up from the floor and slam individual stormtroopers up against the ceiling. The pillars vanish and the soldiers drop like lead weights to the floor again.
Dr R. Deep: "Excellent control, Magick."
Magick: "Yeah! I aced it!"
Dr R. Deep: "Indeed you did."
High Imp: "Are you teaching the girl how to hold back?"
Dr R. Deep: "If I wanted your imput, I would ask for it..."
Magick senses the sudden tension and backs away.
High Imp: "Merely a query."
Dr R. Deep: "One shot one kill is the method of an expert. Spray and pray won't do."
Flax: "There's soldiers on the level above us."
Flax is observing his tricorder device that seems to tell only Flax tonnes of information, while everyone else it tells bleeps and bloops in flashing light formations. Seraphim looks up and, with her fists set forth, slams into the metal ceiling. It crumples before her and she crunches through the metre thick durasteel to reach the next level. One dead body drops from above. Flax aims and takes a pot shot as a trooper lucky enough to have survived Seraphim's wrath but unlucky enough to find himself in Flax' sights. This body falls down too.
Magick: "It's raining stormtroopers."
She descends gracefully through the hole.
High Imp: "Do you have to say that? It makes my nose bleed."
He throws his head back and holds the bridge of his nose to stop the sudden bleeding. Seraphim looks up at him.
Seraphim: "Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hall--"
High Imp: "Quit it!"
Dr R. Deep: "Enough clowning around. If we head up through this hole we should be next to the bridge."
Seraphim: "I took care of the defences already."
Dr R. Deep: "Seraphim, carry Magick up with you."
Magick steps into Seraphim's embrace and the angel ascends without a single beat of her wings. High Imp stands under the hole and gives a boost to Flax and then offers his hands to Deep. The magic-user hesitates. He trusts the demon enough for this but he wonders if he should refuse the gesture as a method of putting the demon in his place... but no. That seems too childish for Deep. He accepts the boost and is helped up to the next floor. The demon's hands reach up through the hole and he clambers up, tucking his many wings in tightly to his body.
Dr R. Deep: "Flax. Open the door."
Flax scans the panel with his tricorder and, somehow, it breaks open the lock. The blast doors slide open. The first set. The second set. Deep generates magic into his palms and he senses that now too-familiar drain on his being. He wonders if magic will forever feel this limited now that the nexus is broken. He releases the blast and a shower of light and sparks explodes in the room beyond like a flashbang, blinding all those within. Seraphim shoots in like a whirling angel of death. High Imp bounds in after her while Flax slips in behind them and takes shots at key targets.
Captain Rynard: "Earth scum!"
Deep only recognises the captain thanks to Cassra's data-packets of information she sent earlier. Deep expected the man to surrender. Apparently not. Flax aims his ray gun and fires. The solid ring hits the imperial captain and he yowls as his life is drained without so much as a blood-splatter. Deep doesn't know which is more grim - Seraphim's bloody cull or Flax' invisible, unknowable assassinations. The remaining stormtroopers instantly surrender and throw down their weapons. They're marched the back of the room and made to kneel with hands on their hands under the twitchy eye, and bleeding nose, of High Imp.
Deep's communicator buzzes.
Dr R. Deep: "Excellent timing, Company Kid. We've taken the bridge."
Deep looks down at the silent and still face of Captain Rynard. He was no Grand Admiral Thrawn but he still came close to getting everything he wanted. Sheer luck and determination were the only allies of Earth this day.
Ben: "We're in position too."
Dr R. Deep: "Flax. Can you figure out the systems?"
Flax: "A few buttons here. A few levers there. I honestly have no idea what I'm doing but it seems to be working. I'm diverting all power to the weapons system... ready to fire the ion cannon."
Dr R. Deep: "Fire it."
The Majestic doesn't have a lot of firepower but it does have a single, powerful ion cannon. With all power pumped into that cannon the ion energy from that single blast smashes into the closest Star Destroyer and ricochets into the next two closest imperial capital ships. The ion cannon does no actual damage to the Star Destroyers but it does render them completely inert. Deep imagines their crews scrambling to regain control.
Dr R. Deep: "We go. We have minutes to get off of this thing."
They run from the room just as evacuation sirens begin blaring. The soldiers they had captured now run for their lives, heading towards escape capsules. Deep drops down the hole, bringing up the rear of the team. They run back towards the hangar.
Wind blows in Ben's big, rat ears as he runs. Although he runs with all his might, much faster than any human, Kassuin is constantly behind him and never loses pace. He reaches the middle of the rotatable bridge when laser fire strikes the bridge and Ben pins himself flat against the metal surface. Blasts strike the walls, then the bridge again. It shakes violently and starts to creak ominously.
Ben: "What's happening!?"
Kassuin is crouched beside Ben, attempting to avoid laser fire too.
Kassuin: "It's an AT-MTT."
Ben: "A what?"
Kassuin points down below them. Ben peeks over the edge of the bridge to see a robotic, two-legged walker made of metal and shaped with two elongated 'ears' atop of the chassis.
Ben: "It looks like a rabbit!"
Kassuin: "I think it's supposed to!"
Ben: "Why would they make a ra--"
The walker crouches its legs and then leaps into the air, rising several storeys into the air. It soars up above them and then lands on the bridge with a loud clang. That seems to pre-emptively answer Ben's question. The bridge, however, suddenly buckles from the extra weight and starts to topple over. Kassuin and Ben run for the escape route but the walker fires at them. Kassuin uses his Force power to hurl himself up and away from the bridge so that he lands on the far end deftly. Ben, however, is not so fortunate. Kassuin doesn't even stand to watch Ben's demise as he continues to make his own escape. Ben falls through the air, down, down, down. The walker falls with him.
Moments before they hit the floor Ben lands on the walker and hurls himself off of it again - horizontally. This takes enough of the downwards momentum from his fall to save his life as she skids along the bottom of the absurdly tall room. The rabbit walker, however, is in pieces and looking quiet pitiful. Ben struggles to his little animal paws and starts a slow run from the room. He has no map to follow, no communicator to ask for help. But he does have his memory.
Kassuin: "Your friend met his end with an AT-MTT."
Kassuin jumps up onto the hood of his ship and pops open the hatch. He doesn't stop to explain further. There's no time. Hero Force One get onboard their own shuttle, though they do so unhappily. CynthAI takes control and they sail out of the hangar of The Majestic. They travel in silence and watch the imperial galleon. The rear of the ship suddenly buckles as the reactor explodes. Hyperspace energy is unleashed in a whirlwind of power. The shuttle shudders and CynthAI exerts further thrust to the engines. Far enough away they escape the blast, but the immobilised Star Destroyers are not. In a chain reaction they are engulfed in the explosion of the command ship and break apart. Only the Star Destroyers furthest away, closest to the Alliance vessels, escape the sudden destruction. In an instant they stop firing and Deep imagines the messages of surrender flying to the rebels. The Alliance will take credit for the surrenders but Deep knows it was Earth that won the battle this day. Just like before. Hopefully the Empire will learn its lesson and won't seek a further repeat.
The communicator sounds and Deep pushes the button expecting Pully to commend them on a job well done.
Ben: "Glad you're all alive!"
Magick: "Ben!! Where are you!!!"
Ben: "I ran into trouble with a robot rabbit. I won though. I knew I couldn't make it to the hangar but I remembered where the escape pods were located. So I hopped in one of those! I'm just to your right."
Deep climbs to the front of the ship and looks out of the cockpit window. A cylindrical pod floats listlessly nearby, losing some of its original momentum.
Dr R. Deep: "You are the luckiest Company Kid..."#