Chapter 27: Back to Solana
After Ace's successful mission, the team were done with their duties in Polaris. But the news of Ace's release from Zordoom prison was starting to spread across the Polaris Galaxy rapidly...
Various HV News reporters were determined to interview him, or get a comment out of him. Ace declined and ignored all of them of course - no longer feeling the need to ever be on an HV show again - and he knew that the reporters would be asking him personal and trivial questions, things he didn’t like being asked about.
Even space radio shows were desperate for a chat with him, but he ignored those too. Especially after one caused speculation that he might rob the Polaris galactic bank with a pair of stockings over his face.
He couldn’t stand the ignorance of the media no more.
The Seekers decided to head off back into the Solana galaxy, to finish off their community service sentence. They only had 3 more months until their 10 year sentence was over.
Ace wasn’t too keen on the idea of going back to the Solana galaxy, but he was told that the team themselves usually didn’t get much public recognition, and that the current Solana Galactic President had nothing against him. However, he was still a bit unsure of it yet respected the team’s wishes and went ahead with their mission to head back into Solana.
As long as there is no annoying paparazzi around, then it shouldn’t be so bad...
The trip back to the Solana Galaxy took several days. None of the team went under cryosleep, including Ace. He spent that time working on his new HL clone device, as the urge to build it again got the better of him.
Despite not being a superhero any more, he still made gadgets and weapons for the pleasure of it; it was something he liked to do, just as much as he liked to workout.
Even though he was unsure if he would even get to use it against foes, he still made it nonetheless. His last hard-light clone device only allowed him to create up to seven copies of himself, so he aimed to be able to create at least nine this time.
The visor part of the device was different in design to the old one. The transparent viewing screen of the visor weren’t red in tone this time. Instead, it was tinted a jet blue-black colour and his eyes were barely visible from the outside; they gave off a chrome-like shimmer in the light. The metal clips and receivers at the sides were more streamlined this time, to give a more smooth and comfortable feeling around his head as he moved and walked while wearing them, but the lights were still blue in colour.
He felt quite good with his efforts, as it only took him about four days to build, during the trip back to the Solana Galaxy. It was quite at peace working on these devices in his own time.
Arriving into the Solana Galaxy seemed calm at first, with Kurt and Bettilena already trying to track down any community service jobs on the scanner but quite unusually, none were currently listed. Kurt knew right away that something wasn't right. It had been months since they were in Solana and it wasn't long until the teams suspicions became clearer...
“Kurt! I can see something on our radar coming close at high speed”
“What is it Aster?”
“Oh crud... I don’t like the looks of this. Check this out...”
Kurt and Aster looked closely at the screen from the piloting position. Ace and Bettilena were in the same room and they couldn’t help but wonder what caught Kurt and Aster’s attention all of a sudden.
Their main holoscreen started to light up and switch on, indicating an incoming call from a nearby spaceship.
“Should we answer it? I don’t recognize the caller’s signature though... but it seems awfully familiar”
“Well, may as well answer it...”
Kurt told Aster.
“Ahoy there m'lads. We won’t allow a horde of superhero scallywags come crash the party!”
Kurt’s eyebrow rose.
“…what? Sorry but I think you are mistaken. We are not superheroes, we're just here to-”
“Don’t bother shoving chitchat down me throat! I know what you Markazian menaces are capable of and we do know of yer history with us Pirates!”
Ace's attention was caught by the commotion on the holoscreen. He walked up to notice that it was a Space Pirate talking with them. He had seen and dealt with them in Zordoom Prison before, and he knew what kind of trouble they were known for. Kurt and Bettilena had also had experiences with them in the past.
“So surrender yerselves quietly, or be punished in a way that will scar yer memories forever!”
Kurt was frowning, but decided to not respond. He switched off the transmitter instantly, and turned around to face Aster, standing near him...
“Looks like we'll have to turn back to Polaris for a bit longer...”
“What! But why? Can’t we just take them on ourselves?” Aster asked, appearing to be rather frustrated.
“We could try, but our Star-Seeker isn't fully armed like it used to be, remember? It isn’t worth taking the risk. We have a few fighter spacecraft’s but that most likely won’t be enough against them”
“We can’t let them push us around like that though! And what if the people of Solana are in danger?”
“But we can’t put ourselves into this sort of danger, pride alone isn't enough and this isn’t our job. The Galactic Rangers are the ones who are sworn to protect the galaxy, they can handle it!”
Aster and Kurt argued on, while Ace and Betty stood by, watching them. Ace's mind started to flow with ideas - ideas that could possibly help them and maybe even help earn back the respect of the rest of the team. But at the same time, he was unsure if he should even try it, especially on his own.
“Ace, are you thinking what I'm thinking?”
Bettilena asked him. He turned to look at her, as she stood there with an eager grin.
“I think so...”
“I say we take them on. I know the many weaknesses of the Space Pirates. Me and my sisters used to deal with them quite frequently back when I was still on Vapedia”
“Tell me more”
While Kurt and Aster stood there arguing with each other, Betty moved over towards the entry, beckoning Ace to follow her. He was curious of what she had planned, but very interested. So he followed – their quick exit was unnoticed by the rest of the team members inside the ship.
“So, what have you got planned?”
Ace asked, following Betty down the hallways and stairs, down into the bottom level of the Star Seeker. She picked up her pace and Ace did the same, getting closer to the destination of the spacecrafts.
“As you know, I don’t like to back down to a challenge like that. Especially when those filthy alcoholic Space Pirates are involved! I also know that you're not the type to turn and flee from a challenge neither...”
“Heh, yeah I'm not. But are you sure about this? What if the others don’t approve of our actions?”
“Oh I'm sure. But of course, I wouldn’t dare try if you weren’t here to help me. I'll tell you the plan when we get out into the field; I know it's something you'd tackle fairly easy! But we could try reasoning with them first...”
Betty made her way over to one of the ships that were parked on the lower level. Ace mirrored her and immediately hopped into the second ship nearby. The spacecrafts were different to the ones they used to use years ago, but similar. They had a standard pair of blasters at each side and a cannon in the centre; it was a safety standard for most spacecrafts.
Ace was quite avid at the thought of getting himself into a space battle again; it was a long time since he was involved in one, and he knew that Betty was the most skilled with piloting out of all the crew on-board, still intrigued in what her plan was against the pirates.
They took off instantly once the lower door opened up to reveal the outer reaches of space. Bettilena led the way out into the open and up towards the Pirates spaceship, ahead in the distance. It was rather large upon first glance; typical in design to most other forms of the Pirate spaceships they had seen in the past. It looked like a normal ship you'd see in the sea, but futuristic in design, with several jet engines and thrusters at the back. It even had a flag pole but since there was no air and wind in space it looked pointless.
The pirates could already see both Ace and Bettilena's ships out in the field but they didn’t attack just yet.
“Oh look who we have here? A pair of do-good chums trying to take on the likes of thee ol' Space Pirates!? Laughable!” a Space Pirate cackled.
“I think you guys are the ones who need to back off. Superheroes or not, we can do some serious damage to you guys if we have to...”
Ace replied, looking down at the space pirate mug on his own holoscreen. Betty had the same screen and could hear Ace's remark, smirking after he did so.
“Listen to the man. We have no quarrels with you lot. We're only asking you kindly to steer clear of any conflict, okay? So let’s just back out our own ways”
“Put a peg in it, Valkyrie! We don’t take orders from the likes of yer kind and that... other guy, whatever creature ‘e is!”
“Nobody talks to Bettilena like that, especially while I'm around. Right, enough of this crap. Come on, let’s get them...!”
Ace was in no mood to reason with the pirates now. He was already firing at the ship as the sides of it were opening, to reveal their cannons. Pirates were seen controlling the 4 cannons on each side of the ship and both Ace and Betty quickly swerved, to avoid the cannon lasers blasting out of the left side of the ship; in their directions.
Avoiding the first and second wave of the cannons wasn’t too much effort, and both spacecraft’s fired back with their own sets of blasters.
“Ace! I'll distract them as you sneak on-board their ship!”
Ace sped past a green acidic beam, firing from one of the turrets near the bow of the pirate ship. Flying around the entire ship, he searched for a spot to land safely, since the Pirates were more occupied on destroying Bettilena. It was obvious she was trying to distract them for him and after taking a closer look, he could see an area leading inside – an opening pirates used for entering in and out of their main ship, possibly for when they're on land.
He sped inside quickly, while trying to remain unnoticed. As he made it inside, there were pirates running amok already and trying to fire at his shuttle; although he had no problem clearing them out with his spacecraft’s cannon, before finally finding a quiet spot to land.
He was relieved to see that there were gravity and oxygen simulators inside, so he didn't have to worry about using an O2-mask. He immediately hopped out as more of the Space Pirates were pouring in; enraged by his entry and carnage he had inflicted on their crew.
“There ‘e is! Massacre ‘im and impale ‘is head on a pike!!!”
“No, we should make ‘im walk the plank on Merdegraw!!!”
“Come on, don't be so clichéd! Just kill ‘im the ol' fashion way... with a sword!!!”
Several pirates stood there at the entry, all with a sword or two in their hands. A few of them held blasters or shields, while some others had large sharp hooks and inbuilt cannons on their wrists.
Ace stood in front of his ship, bringing out his HL Launcher and wearing his brand new visor.
“Now would be a good time to try this thing out...”
The new visor gave him vastly improved vision in here, as it was a much darkened area. Like the old visor, they helped with aiming at targets, as well as seeing in the dark and keeping control of the hard-light clones. It could also be used for keeping in contact with the other Seeker members.
And seeing as there was no cover and objects to hide and shoot out from behind, and that he was clearly outnumbered - the hard-light clones came to mind.
Pressing the trigger located underneath his vest, he vanished instantly into thin air to reappear again - but with seven copies of himself within the crowd. All clones had their launchers, bracing themselves for combat as the pirates came rushing in, ready to swipe at Ace with their swords.
They came into contact with Ace and yelled angrily, trying their best to harm him as they attacked his hard-light clones and himself. Ace had no problem avoiding their blades, while his clones did take a few hits but not enough to deactivate just yet.
“Sweet father of Zoni! What's goin' on in ‘ere? I'm seein' double!!!”
The pirates were very confused as they tried to slice up his fake copies, watching their blades slash into his body but with no blood being spilled or any other signs of visible damage being inflicted on his clothing...
“I may be hallucinating! But I ain’t had a pint of grog all day!”
“I think ye need to lay off the space-cakes for a while; I ain’t seein' anything!”
“Probs ‘cause yer eyes be gone!”
The pirate said, staring at his partner next to him, due to the fact that Ace had shot out his eyes with HL launcher ammo. Rage fuelled the pirates more but they were clearly quite puzzled with Ace's hard-light clone tactics. However, 2 of his clones had vanished from taking too many hits from their swords but despite that Ace was doing well; managing to pass through the first wave of pirates and downing many in the process.
He made his way, closer to the centre of the ship. He could notice a wide open area with and he decided to contact Betty for the next step in her plan.
“Bettilena. I think I'm about halfway into their ship. What next?”
“Good job Ace! Now lemme think... can you see the large mast leading down the centre of the ship?”
“Well, just find the stairway that leads down another level. That is where you'll find their hyperspace booster and thruster controls! Now if you'll excuse me, I've got more pirates to tackle...”
Betty ended her sentence with loud blasts echoing in the background. Ace then felt an unexpected tap on his shoulder, making him react hastily and glare at a pirate angrily, whom stood there holding out his sword.
“Why not lemme cut off that blond lock of yers off, hmm?”
A high kick to the face rendered the pirate unconscious immediately, and so he rushed off quickly to head down the stairway to the far left. But laser shots were firing from several different directions. He was forced to strafe and sidestep quickly in here, aiming his launcher back up at any of the long-range pirates he could see down here, before coming across several crates in the dark.
He gasped and straightened his posture, before leaping out of the way, avoiding a large, electrified robot emerging from the wooden crate. Another three came out from the other crates, intent on killing Ace with their large pointed hooks and electrified bodies. These were known as Swabs, some of the strongest and most fierce type of Space Pirates.
Ace sidestepped each time they came in for him. He returned fire continuously as the beasts dashed up towards him again, and again... trying in vain to slash or simply touch him – to deliver a painful and possibly fatal shock.
Ace knew he must avoid touching them at all costs, so he wouldn't use any melee attacks; returning gunfire at the Swabs instead. They were rather hardly though; damage was being inflicted on them at a slow rate. Ace remembered that he could use his hard-light clones now though, as his device was fully charged again since its last use.
He pressed it quickly and reappeared again with his seven copies. The Swabs were stumped, stopping in their tracks, before screaming and holding their hooks in the air...
“Destroy 'em all!”
Ace was feeling quite overwhelmed controlling his clones in here. It was a dark and condensed room, not much open space for his clones to move about in. This was putting a strain on his mind, but he tried his best to avoid the fierce Swab pirates. They violently tried in vain to attack his copies and some even lashed at each over by mistake, destroying each other in the process. Ace noticed this and he couldn't help but smirk at their clumsiness. He and his remaining four hard-light clones all attacked the remaining three Swabs, finally finishing them off and allowing Ace to deactivate the remaining copies and ease his mind.
“Bettilena, I'm in. So, I'm guessing you want me to blow up their thruster controls down here?”
“Oh no! Don’t do that! Doing so will only put your own life at risk! I have a better idea, head over to the centre of the control panels. You'll see a series of levers, wires and power cells”
Ace rushed up to the panel and noticed all the series of levers and switches. He knew he didn't have much time before more pirates rushed in, so he tore off the metal plates to reveal the wires underneath. He could see the wires now, and he thought to himself.
“I can see it all now. Man... their technology is rather primitive”
“Hah. Seems those stubborn pirates haven’t learned a thing since the old days! Now all you have to do is tear out the blue wires, pull down leaver 2, 6, 7 and 9; cross the red wires over and attach it to the purple ones and then finally, remove their core power cell”
Ace was already into it, ripping out and reattaching wires to one another and he could already hear some 'strange' sounds coming out from back of the control panel – the sound of engines overriding and churning roughly, even sparks of electricity was starting to shower around him.
He took a few steps back after removing the power cell and the whole entire spaceship took a sudden and violent shift and he knew this wasn't good.
“Ace... get out of there!”
He didn't need to be told twice. He was already sprinting out of the control room, up towards the level he came from. Pirates were screaming and running around, while others were still drunk on grog; not even noticing the apparent danger they were in. Some of the pirates tried to attack Ace but he took no notice of them this time, sprinting past and avoiding them, while the whole ship started to move and churn sideways, causing many to lose their balance.
Ace finally made it back to where his ship was located, and he was relieved to see that it was almost untouched – the pirates were more fixed on destroying him and Bettilena instead.
Hopping in, he started the ship up and blasted off out of the docking area. Bettilena was already waiting for him outside and they both took off. The pirates, meanwhile, were panicking – no longer focused on attacking Ace and Betty.
“So... what’s going to happen now?” he asked Bettilena, after he mug appeared on his holoscreen display.
“Just sit back and watch”
Bettilena said, putting on a pair of sunglasses while on-screen. Ace looked a bit bewildered at her actions, but then he took a look outside - to see what was happening.
He was expecting to see the whole ship explode but instead, it was rocking uncontrollably and he noticed that the back boosters and thrusters were lighting up very brightly, before emitting a large blast and exploding. The rest of the ship was still intact but as the light cleared up, he could see that their ship was badly damaged. No longer did it have any hyperspace boosters at the back, nor anything else that could help it with space travel. Even their communication services were down, being that he could no longer see their signature on his scanner.
It looked like an ordinary pirate ship now, floating in the middle of space. The surviving pirates may have still been inside, but there was no way they could travel to another galaxy, or even another planet. At least not for a long time, unless somebody found them.
It was an amusing thought to Ace and Betty.