As the Galaxians bickered over several matters of dismemberment, the Freedom 1 hovered silently above Mercury and began lowering its drop ships. In the hanger, Plutoon and Fang landed and left their ships. They travelled across the large steel-walled room and met up with Master Tiange at the door, they bowed and Tiange tilted his head back to them.
“Master” Fang said, Tiange looked down at him
“General Zyphell?” he inquired, the others were silent but he read their faces “…has escaped once more?” the others nodded “This is most disturbing, the Galaxians need him to secure a conviction. Master Fang, might I have a short word?”
“Of course Master, Plutoon you are wanted in the boarding room” Fang and Plutoon bowed to each other, then Plutoon bowed to Tiange, who tilted his head back at him. As Plutoon moved towards the door, Tiange’s eyes thinned as he watched facial expressions and other defining aspects. “Master?” Tiange looked down at Fang and smiled.
“So, what to report?” Tiange looked down at Fang. Fang was silent; he looked down then back up at his old friend.
“Anton Zyphell has been trained in the Dark Arts, he has kept this from us for almost two years since his return” Tiange’s eyes widened “He can summon large scale Kong powers on the scale of the first Dark Lord and beyond”
“He must be stopped!” Tiange said louder than usual, he frowned as if shocked by his own aggression. He moved his arm and clasped his chest. “Something is not at rest here. I sense great evil growing near. Darkness is stirring on a planet close to home. A planet we need, and we trust. Their leader is…changing.” He looked round at Fang with an eerie look on his face “Anton Zyphell is closer than you think”
“Master, you know where he is?” Fang looked extremely concerned. Tiange smiled.
“I sense him, always I can see him” Tiange rubbed his forehead with frustration “His power grows, more and more people fall under his control. Those who do not follow him…” he looked back at Fang with fear in his eyes “…are destroyed. I know where he is!”
“Where?” Fang asked excitedly
“I have a mission for your pupil” Tiange said, Fang shook his head
“We cannot afford to play games this time, Master” Fang replied, “If we know where he is, we must send all available troops and fleets to converge on the planet to capture him”
“No, this is not our path” Tiange spoke calmly “It is not us who need to liberate the planet that Zyphell has consumed, it is Plutoon that must do this” They stood and looked at each other. The sun began to sink in the crimson sky as the two finally left the hanger and retired to their homes for what was sure to be an uneasy sleep.
Lightning clouds gathered around a distant planet, the cities on the surface were pounded by rain and storm all through the night. On a high platform, a desolate figure stalked around, in the pouring rain, on his long spindly legs. Anton Zyphell looked high into the night sky, as rain fell like attacking birds of prey. He looked behind him and grinned his terrible grin as a large cloaked object was wheeled out onto the rain-drenched platform. From the same door came the group of men from the conference chamber, minus of course the plump man. They approached Zyphell and bowed to him, trembling in the cold and rain. Lightning illuminated Zyphell’s sinister face as he glared at the object with his large, mad eyes. Then he put his official face back on and looked down on the group.
“Have you tested it?” he asked coolly. The group looked at one another and the spade-headed alien stepped forward.
“We have not yet had a chance to test it on a large scale, but all small-scale tests have been successful, my lord” he reported. Zyphell looked up at the large thing that was presented before him, and then back down at the cowering crowd.
“You have done well, my servants,” he said, the group sighed heavily with this good news. “However, you are still behind schedule, and this carries a hefty punishment” he raised his finger and the lightning leapt from it again, it wrapped itself around the spade-headed alien and he disappeared over the edge of the platform. “Reveal it to me!” Two men pulled the cloth from the object and Zyphell’s eyes widened with a devilish joy. “Yes…good, very good” A large steel skull was before him, from which a cone protruded with an energy focus point at its end. As Anton admired his gift, an official-looking man stepped forward. He wore long purple robes and carried a long, black cane. At the top of the cane was a metal sphere with a dragon’s head wrapped around it. He cleared his throat.
“It has been designed and programmed to your exact specifications, my lord,” he said calmly
“You’ve performed well, Emperor” Zyphell spoke to the Emperor as if he were any other man, in his normal tone “Your people will be pleased to see you are still alive after another meeting with me” The Emperor gulped, Zyphell looked down at him and smiled his cruel smile. “You haven’t told them, have you? Naughty boy, the public should be kept in the full view of their lord’s actions. Nevertheless, I want no one to be expecting what is about to happen to this miserable planet. It gives more thrill to the test!” He turned on his heels and walked back towards the entrance to the platform, his black cape dripping with rain. “Have it tested by this hour tomorrow night, and do not fail me” The group looked at each other, the Emperor cursed under his breath.
“What can we possibly do now?” he sighed. A tall man put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“Do not fear my lord, I am sure this dog is all bark and no bite” the Emperor looked up at him
“I hope, for our people’s sake, you are correct”
Plutoon and Fang walked slowly through one of Mercan’s many gardens, the large pink flowers blossomed in the early spring and Fang admired their beauty. He stood bewildered by the bravery of the plants, to push through the earth bringing light into a galaxy that has been consumed by darkness. Plutoon watched his master closely.
“Remarkable things, flowers” Fang said slowly “They feed tiny creatures with food that would not satisfy the throat let alone the stomach” Plutoon looked down at him.
“What is it master, what’s troubling you?” he asked
“How could I have let this happen under my very nose?” Fang sighed to himself. He looked up at his pupil “Plutoon, Zyphell has seized control of Neptune, he is forcing them to slave away day in and day out, corrupting it’s leaders against the Galaxian Way. We have ample men to storm him, but Master Tiange has requested that only you should go” Plutoon looked bewildered.
“Me? Me against Zyphell’s army? What good can one man do?” Fang walked towards his pupil
“There will come a time, my student, when you will discover that numbers are insignificant if those numbers are witless fools” he looked Plutoon straight in the eye. “We will have the Royal Army on stand-by, you are required to leave immediately” He held out his hand “Good luck” Plutoon took his masters hand and they shook. Plutoon then bowed and left, leaving Fang to return to admiring the flowers once more.
Plutoon’s small ship materialised over Neptune and he looked down at the stormy planet. His attention then moved to the large warship in orbit of the planet, Dominator pointed all capital and support turrets to face Plutoon, following his every move. The screen in Plutoon’s ship flashed as a holo-call message fuzzed into view.
“Zanton Plutoon, you are now entering a restricted flight area” came the voice of Zyphell’s space commander “State your business here and power down all weaponry” Plutoon powered down his forward and rear cannons and pressed the holo switch.
“Zanton Plutoon to Dominator, I am here on request of Lord Tiange to inspect the planet’s government and deliver a message to your Emperor Do Xhine. I have powered down all weaponry as requested” There was silence for a short while before the reply came.
“Please continue your present course and enjoy your time on Neptune” Plutoon soared into Neptune’s storm-torn atmosphere and landed on a rain drenched platform. As he left his ship, a group of Royal Guards approached and bowed. They escorted him from the platform and into a large golden hall. The guards broke off as they entered and divided equally on either side of the door. Plutoon smiled as a familiar face met him, his good friend Don Zhargn. They hugged and then walked across the room.
“I hope your journey here was a good one my friend” Don said happily.
“Well, it would have been better without the warship in the atmosphere Don” they laughed and pushed open a large pair of doors. Before them was a large hall, ringed with decoration of a gothic era. Gargoyles and dragons stretched from pillars that marked the path to the head of the chamber. The two friends rounded a large table and bowed before the stout figure that sat in the throne.
“Emperor Xhine, this is King Plutoon of the sovereign planet, Pluto” Don announced, “He is here on behalf of Master Tiange” The Emperor nodded to his guest, who slowly went down on one knee.
“It is a great honour to finally meet you in person” Xhine said proudly “Rise, please” Plutoon stood once more, the Emperor rose from his chair and clapped his hands. A dancer girl approached bearing the Imperial Cane, the black shafted dragon cane. She bowed politely and gave the cane to Xhine. Xhine dismissed her, as she left she fluttered her long black eyelashes at Plutoon and smiled. “Now, what is it that Master Tiange has requested, exactly?”
“He has sent me here to track down the war criminal Anton Zyphell” Xhine’s eyes widened
“Walk with me” he turned to the others “Leave us” they bowed and left, Don gave his friend a handshake before leaving “Anton Zyphell is planning to betray me, I can see it in those mad eyes of his”
“So you are having contact with him?” Plutoon inquired excitedly
“Why are you so happy?” the Emperor raised his voice “You want to know what he’s doing? You want to know why he has chosen our peaceful planet to conduct his sinister plot? Because we are so easily fooled!”
“I’m sure that is not so, my lord” Xhine let out one blare of sarcastic laughter
“Now, you see, I have been forced to call Zyphell ‘my lord’ for years!” he tossed his hand and spat on the ground “To Hell with ‘my lord’! An Emperor looks up to no-one!”
“I can help you, Master Tiange has sensed my talents and has sent me here to finish Zyphell once and for all. His plot has failed!” Xhine looked round at Plutoon
“Listen to me boy, and listen closely” he said slowly “Zyphell has had our best technicians and engineers working on some sort of weapon of phenomenal strength. All those who do not do his bidding are murdered before the others, their death is served as an example to us. Over the past three months I have seen him murder twelve of my colleagues. I can still remember the faded eyes of them all” he collapsed in flows of tears, Plutoon dropped at his side and comforted him “You have to help me, boy, can you help me save my planet?”
“I shall do what I can, and I can do a lot!” Plutoon smiled and the two rose. “I’ll need the entire Imperial Army, send a message to Code Frequency 0674868. Tell them we’re going to need reinforcements” They bowed to one another, as they turned to leave Xhine called back to Plutoon.
“The fate of this planet rests with you, I am counting on you, Plutoon” Plutoon nodded and left.
Thousands of Neptunian infantry flooded the streets of the capital. The great Neptune Cavalry rode down the streets and the Imperial Army swarmed into the armoury. Commander Plutoon rode in upon his white steed and, with silent steps, surveyed his men. From the corner of his eye, he saw a warrior wearing a regal turban taking their spear from the weapons depot. Seeking an audience with this soldier, Plutoon raised his hand.
“Troops” he said sternly “You have two days rest, do not take them lightly. For on the third day, the fate of your kingdom will rest upon you all” the troops raised their weapons and let out a cheer that shook the stars. They deserted, ‘returning, no doubt, to their families’ Plutoon thought to himself. He placed a stern hand on the cloaked soldier as they turned to leave “I would have a word with you?” They went around the back of the armoury and the soldier removed their turban. To Plutoon’s amazement, long black hair flowed from its binding strings “What’s this?” The maiden smiled slightly with her crimson lips and fluttered her dark eyelashes. Plutoon recognised her from the Emperor’s chambers as the dancer girl who brought forth the Imperial Cane.
Plutoon’s heart rushed, the long sleek hair dangled elegantly over the maiden’s slim body and her long fingers ran through its locks. Her deep, blue eyes cast a spell of wonder over the young commander. ‘Such beauty’ Plutoon thought to himself, the maiden blushed slightly at his staring eyes. She looked down then bowed slightly.
“Forgive me, my lord” she spoke slowly, like the voice of a Plutonian Angel “I wish only to fight for my planet, I may be fair to the eye but my hand is a world of wrath against foes. I will leave” she turned; Plutoon reached out and grasped her slim arm.
“Wait!” he called out. She looked around at him “Come with me, be mine, and I shall give you a world of treasures. This meeting was the will of heaven, I am a servant to this will” she looked up at him and her shoulders dropped slightly.
“My lord, forgive me but…” she paused, considering the options presented to her “I cannot accept you, just yet” and, like a gentle breeze, she was gone into the shadow of the night. Plutoon’s hand dropped, the stench of rejection hung around him like a bad smell. That night, he didn’t sleep. He lay there awake, staring at the roof of his bedchamber and the stars veiled themselves.
Not far from the city, Anton Zyphell stood glaring at the sky. He grasped his trident with his long, bony fingers then followed his sight down towards the capital city. He sealed his eyes and saw inside of the walls. He saw the war tents and the horses, the weapons and the armour. Rage filled the icy caverns of his heart as he snapped his eyes open and summoned his generals to him..
“We must accelerate our plans gentlemen” he began “Begin moving the weaponry and units to the western side of the city. The convoy must reach the pick-up zone before the enemy breaks our lines. Move the catapults and ballistae to the south, they will pummel the defences into the soil before too long” he smiled and his mad eyes darted between his men. A hook-nosed soldier approached him. “Ah, general, what can I do for you?
“Commander Zyphell” he said slowly, as though addressing an old friend “The units are ready, we are in position”
“Excellent” Zyphell grinned “My time as a General has finally ended, I bow to no man! Although, I have come accustomed to the name General Zyphell, it has a sinister ring to it, don’t you agree. Perhaps, Grand General is better, with the same authority as Commander”
“If you don’t mind my asking, Grand General” the man continued “How are things with your daughter?” Zyphell lowered his head
“She is in intensive training in the Third galaxy” he said coolly “When she comes of age, she will join me on the battlefield as my equal in skill” his mad eyes observed the city closely “This city will fall by dawn”
“Are you suggesting we attack now? Right now?” the General asked, Zyphell smiled again, his eyes thinned and his yellow teeth veiled“I have already given the order” he sneered “The men marched an hour ago, they will reach their posts in about…two minutes” He rose and lifted his trident “Now, if you’ll excuse me. Good fortune in battle men, I doubt you will need it” he swept away from them, mounting a tall black horse. The horse was as evil as the man who rode it, the Devil’s Horse, Lucifer. Tall, black and muscular with red eyes and hooves of steel. The generals looked at one another, bewildered but ready to crush their enemies once and for all.