“Commander Sendak, the sentries are in position around the Arusian village.”
Sendak grinned. “It appears luck is on our side,” he said. “Look at them, Haxus. One minor victory and they lower the Castle’s defenses and throw the doors wide open. Fools,” he scoffed. “With so many of those sniveling creatures going in and out, it will be nothing to infiltrate.”
“We may not have to,” Subcommander Haxus muttered in mild surprise. “The small one in armor has a Galra drone they’ve repurposed.” He grimaced, reluctantly impressed. “If I can get close enough, I should be able to clone its signature code and send in a bomb in one of the identical units recovered from the crash. With all the commotion, it should pass undetected”
“I knew you would not disappoint me,” Sendak said, pleased. “Take the Druid with you. It will get you close enough to complete your duty. Save your strength for any resistance attempts.”
“Yes sir,” Haxus said reluctantly, eyeing the cloaked and masked figure standing silently behind his commander in distrust.
They waited until the entrance to the Castle was dark and silent before marching in. It appeared the diversion at the Arusian village was more efficient than Haxus expected. The paladins of the three active Lions left the Castle completely undefended. The commander was right. They were fools.
Haxus glanced over his shoulder to be sure the power crystal recovered from their destroyed battlecruiser was still active. If the crystal lost enough power before he and Commander Sendak managed to incorporate it into the Castle’s system, then this whole venture would be worthless. The drones marched around the glowing purple crystal in formation and there was no sign of anyone approaching from the rear of their procession. Although, Haxus was certain if any attack did come from the rear, that Druid would end it before it ever became an issue.
Frell those creepy monsters.
“Well, well,” Sendak said, amusement lacing his words. “If it isn’t the Champion himself.”
Haxus turned back to his commander curiously, scowling when he saw a lone figure in black and white armor.
“Returning to the fold so soon?” Sendak asked.
“Go to hell,” the paladin hissed angrily.
Only Sendak’s raised arm prevented Haxus from disemboweling the fool for insulting his commander.
“Stand aside, Champion,” Sendak ordered, “and you will be spared.”
“Not happening,” the Champion snapped, shifting to a battle stance.
“Then I’ll make you.”
Haxus didn’t bother to intervene. A battle between Commander Sendak and the Champion might be well matched, but quite frankly the commander was stronger and more resilient. He also had the latest Druidic upgrades to his mechanical left arm. The Champion’s weaponized hand might be formidable in the gladiator arena, but it was pathetic compared to the sheer size and power of Sendak’s.
Still, it was close.
The Champion stopped Sendak’s weapon with his own glowing purple fist and held the Galra commander in place. Haxus had to admit, it was an impressive display. If this was the arena, he probably would have enjoyed watching the outcome, however inevitable it may be. Unfortunately, he never had the satisfaction.
A bolt of purple-tinged white blasted past Haxus, missing his shoulder by a hand, and struck the Champion square in the back, stunning but not killing.
“That was unnecessary,” Sendak hissed, banking his fury.
The Druid merely shrugged.
Frell, Haxus hated Druids.
He hated Haxus. Alright so maybe ‘hate’ was a strong word. But, quiznak, it was the right word. He tried to warn the subcommander of the saboteur’s presence high on the wall of the main engine room, but did he listen? No. Now Haxus was dead, Sendak was very likely dead, and he was still incapable of moving without twitching.
He could feel the lingering effects of the power surge and resulting overload from the turbine in his fingers and toes. He had to admit, that stupid green paladin was clever. Hardly the fool Sendak thought. Well, not a complete fool anyway. Getting rid of Haxus was a good move, but leaving him alive on the catwalk in the engine room? Foolish. He would wager ‘stupid beyond comprehension’ fit best.
Unless the green paladin simply missed him. That was a possibility. When the turbine overloaded and electrocuted him -he still held a grudge for that, by the way- he’d been blown back nearly to the edge of the catwalk surrounding the glowing, Altean-built turbine. Maybe the paladin really had missed him. Dealing with Haxus could easily have taken a lot of concentration. Not to mention the paladins didn’t seem to work well in low lighting. In the dim engine room, the brilliant turbine would have been blinding. It had certainly blinded him.
Whatever the reason, he was still alive and nobody had noticed. Yet.
Not that he was complaining. He liked being alive and the green paladin’s moment of stupidity or blindness or distraction or whatever had made sure he stayed alive. He just fervently wished he’d been awake when the paladins staged their counterattack and defeated Sendak. Maybe he could have turned the tables on those idiots.
But he hadn’t been awake and now he was suffering for it. Frell it all, he was hungry, thirsty, he felt like his bladder was going to explode and frak this ventilation shaft stank! Honestly, did no one bother with the upkeep of their ships these days? This was downright ridiculous. Who wanted ventilated air circulating the entire ship when it smelled like feet and wet Galra? Disgusting.
It was hot too. He must be in one of the heated vents now. Oh well, at least the heat wasn’t on full like the cooling vents. He’d nearly frozen his ears off in there. He swore his mask had even started to frost over.
Now he was hot, sweating, stuck in a warm, stinky ventilation shaft in his Druidic robes and mask staring longingly out the hatched opening at the Castleship’s mess hall. That green goop those paladins were eating was looking more and more appealing with each passing turn. Why didn’t they just leave already!? He was hungry, frak it, and he still needed to relieve himself.
He sulked, curling up in a miserable ball of brown robes.
If he could just slip past their guards long enough to pee, and maybe snag some of that goo to eat, then he could go back to slinking through the ventilation shafts. The stinky ventilation shafts. The stinky ventilation shafts that were dead set on either melting him or freezing him solid.
He may or may not have whined.
It was so hot.
He couldn’t take it anymore. His face was melting behind the bone mask. He loosened the straps and slipped the mask up so his face was bare to the warm breeze. It wasn’t much relief but at least he didn’t feel like his nose was going to drip off in a puddle of sweaty Druid goo.
Maybe he would go back to the colder air vents. He may not enjoy freezing, but at least he could think clearer in the cold. Heat tended to get to him quicker than cold. Haggar always said he tended to favor the cold when utilizing the elemental nature of quintessence.
Decided, he pulled his mask down over his face and began crawling back to the nearest cool air shaft. Who knows? Maybe he could even find a bathroom or something along the way. That would be nice. Maybe the bathroom would even have a mirror.
On second thought, maybe a mirror wouldn’t be the best idea right now. He would bet every bit of GAC he had that he looked awful. He could feel his dark brown hair already getting oily from not washing it in three days, his lips were chapped, and he no doubt had purple circles under his blue eyes. He needed a shower. A good, long shower.
And a bathroom.
“Keep moving, Lance,” he muttered under his breath, too tired to care that he was talking to himself. “Just keep moving.”