The Gauntlet

              

     

                             The Gauntlet

Chapter Three

 
        Walking down the stairs. Pairs of feet pounding on the floor. Their echoes heard as they marched down the hall. Heavy doors slid open. Two uniformed personnel entered the room.

    "How long ago was this?" The Nova Prime, Irani Rael asked approaching the holoform table.

    "Not too long ago. Some of our Nova Corps soldiers had been assaulted by a few of their ships. They blew their engines out and immediately arrested them. They are headed to the Kyln as we speak." Denarian Rhomann Dey said.

    "And who exactly were these individuals?" The Nova Prime asked.

    "Hard to say." Dey said. "But they were after one ship in particular."

    "And where is that ship now?" The Nova Prime.
    "It vanished into a worm hole not too long ago. Some of the bastards even followed it in. Our soldiers out there did identify the space craft. And I think you'll recognize the who it belongs to."
    The Nova Prime stared at the Denarian curiously.
    "The craft is a modified M-ship, owned by non other than ex-con Peter Quill." Dey said.
    The Nova Prime's eyes widened.
    "What is Quill doing getting chased by pirates?" She asked.
    "I don't know, but I'm willing to bet he stole something from them that got them all pissed off." Dey said.
    "Well, in that case he certainly hasn't changed a bit." The Nova Prime said.
    She sighed. Turning to the holoform table beside her. An image projected of a space craft in the smoldering wreckage.
    "While you've been tracking pirate movements outside of Xandar, a ship has crashed just five clicks north of Nova Corps." She said. 
    "Do you know who's inside?" He asked.
    "No." She said. "But, I need units sent out to investigate."
    "Sure thing." Dey said. 
    He turned to the door.
    In the Nova Corps hangar, Dey and five Corpsman scrambled into their respective star blasters. Hangar doors opened as the little ships lifted off the ground in single file. Once in the air, they all locked onto the target.
    The ships flying out of the building and at the crash site were seen as little holographic images on the Nova Corps holoform table in the command center. The Nova Prime eyes locked on the projections.
    "How long til you get there?" She asked.
    "Not long." The Corpsman said.
    "I want the occupants of that craft arrested and taken straight to the Kyln. And the craft to be removed and discarded for future disassemble." The Nova Prime said. "Parts like those can be useful."
    "And I assume these havocing bastards will be placed in high security cells?" Dey asked.
    "Not yet. I want them interrogated. Just to know why at such high speeds they were flying so low to the ground, causing widespread panic and heading towards our building before crashing." She said.
    "And exactly what they were after." Dey said.
    "That would be tough to say. Who they are. Where they came from." The Nova Prime said.
    "Could be from anywhere. Planets are all over this system. Moons. Asteroids. And there is that new wormhole not far from Xandar." Dey said.
     "And any weapons they have must be immediately confiscated before they can mount an offensive." The Nova Prime said. "I just want them dealt with."
    "Yes, of course. As soon we gain custody of them." Dey said. "And that's if we do."
    The star blasters sped across the distance; the smoking crater within their sights.
    "Don't attack unless they do. Let's keep this from being a war zone." Dey said to the five Corpsman via com-link.
    "I got it." Said a Corpsman. 
    "We're steadily approaching." Dey said.
    "You need to make sure to keep them alive. We don't know who these people are. Or what they want. But we need to find out. Don't attack unless its absolutely necessary!" The Nova Prime said.
    "Copy that." Dey said. "Alright guys, keep the target within our sights. Our goal is to capture but not kill. Hold your fire, unless they attack first!"
    "Got it, sir!"
    "Copy that!"
    "Sure thing, sir!"
    The star blasters break out of formation and spread out into three groups, whilst the ship came into range.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "WARNING: APPROACHING SPACECRAFT. WARNING: SPACECRAFTS ARMED AND DANGEROUS."
    A blue hand pressed the screen. A full projection of the crashed ship appeared. One finger touched the engine on the rear of the craft.
    "ENGINE FAILURE. LEFT ENGINE UNRESPONSIVE."
    Eyes narrowed at the projection. Dark pupils locked on the approaching space crafts.
    Punching the ship projection, the image became larger. Pressing a finger on the underbelly of the ship.
    "DOOR OPENING. RELEASING CARGO."
    The large door slid open. Sparks flew from the interior of the ship as a small craft fell from the compartment. 
    Engines flared up. Their exhausts pointed towards the ground. The rounded craft lifted away from the rocky crater and took flight.
    "CARGO RELEASED. CLOSING DOOR."
    The object climbed higher into the sky. The larger ship on the ground grew smaller and smaller.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    "Uh, sir? I see something!!" An officer said.
    "What?" Dey asked.
    "There! Up there!" Another pilot said.
    "What the-?" Dey muttered.
    "Should we shoot it down?" Another asked.
    "Hold up, we don't know what that is, or who is in there!" Dey said.
    "What's going on?" A Corpsman asked.
    The Nova Prime leaned in closer. The projection showing a faint speck in the sky above the Nova Corps blasters.
    "What is that?" She asked.
    "I don't know!" Dey said. "Some sort of ship by the looks of it. Must have ejected from the larger one."
    "Follow it! It's escaping!" She said.
    "Copy that!" Dey said. "Squad one after the smaller one!"
    "Very good sir."
    "We're on it."
    "Make sure nothing else escapes that ship!" The Nova Prime said.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The small Nova Corps blasters surrounded the crashed ship. Smoke wafted from its left engine. 
    Three star blasters lowered to the ground. Dey and the two Corpsmen stepped out, armed with guns. They walked slowly down into the smoldering pit. Pebbles crumbled down beneath their feet.
    "We're going in." Dey said. His explosive weapon aimed at the belly of the ship. "This is Nova Corps. Open up or we will blast our way in!!"
    The men stood around the ship, their weapons locked onto the exterior metal belly. 
    The ship's mechanicals buzzed when a door slid open on it's underbelly. A ramp lowered down to the three. Then all was silent.
    "Alright. Proceed with caution." Dey said.
    The men walked up the ramp. Fingers on the triggers. Inside the ship they walked around. Quiet footsteps. Shuffling around the halls.
    "Sir, over there." 
    Dey ran toward the Corpsman at the end of a hall. A large dark door a few feet away.
    "Good job." He said.
    They proceeded forward. The two Corpsmen surrounded the door. Guns directed at it. Dey placed his finger to his mouth. The men both nodded.
    He pressed a round button to the right of the door. It then slid open and the men all ran inside.
    "FREEZE!!"
    "DON'T MOVE!"
    They looked around the room. Two Nova Corps star blasters flew toward the front cracked windows. 
    Bullet holes had previously penetrated through the thick glass. Their deep scars dragged along the metal interior walls. Control boxes steaming at the base of the windows. 
   Control stations at the corners of the room had blue-skinned individuals sprawled across the glowing monitors. Eyes open and blood seeping into the cracked screens. All still sitting in their seats.
    A soft female voice repeating the words "WARNING: ENGINE FAILURE. WARNING: ENGINE FAILURE." 
    Dey turned his gun on a chair in the left corner of the room under the windows. The back of the seat facing him. Blood staining through the bullet holes.
    He walked towards it. Finger on the trigger.
    The chair then swiveled around. A blue skinned being seated in it, one hand clutching it's bleeding upper arm.
    Dey narrowed his eyes.
    "You can't stop it now. What's done is done." It said.
    "What are you talking about, Kree?" Dey asked.
    The blue being slammed its fist on a large red button.
    "WARNING: SPACECRAFT WILL SELF-DESTRUCT IN ZERO THREE-THREE SECONDS!"
    Dey's eyes bulged wide.
    "Evacuate!" One of the Corpsmen yelled. "Everyone evacuate immediately. This place is about to explode!!"
    Dey nodded to the door.
    "Go!!" He said.
    The two ran out of the control room. Dey turned and ran after them. 
    "It's too bad you won't get what you wanted to find." 
    He turned around sharply. One of the Corpsmen stopped and looked back to the Denarian.
    "What?" Dey asked. "Find what?"
    The blue being reached into the back of his seat with his bleeding arm. Dey narrowed his eyes. 
    Groaning, the being pulled out a golden gauntlet. The glove slipped out of his bloody fingers and hit the floor with a thud.
    Dey's eyes widened. A largebloody bullet head was lodged deep into the being's abdomen. It covered the wound with it's bloody hand.
    "Who attacked you?" Dey asked
    "Leave. Now." It said.
    "What about you?" Dey said. "You're just going to sit here and wait for this ship to blow up?"
    "It's too late for me. I will soon meet my fate." It said.
    Dey glanced at the glowing screen.
    "TWO-ONE SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE."
    "Take it." It said.
    The Corpsman looked to the golden glove on the floor.
    "What is it?" Dey asked.
    "Take it." The being said. "You must not let them have it!"
    Dey's eyes widened.
    "Who? The other Kree?" The Corpsman asked.
    "WARNING. SPACECRAFT APPROACHING. REPEAT. SPACECRAFT APPROACHING. ONE-FOUR SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT SEQUENCE."
    Dey looked to the holographic images hovering above the glowing screen. Space ships. Large, fast ones. Descending down through the 
Xandarian atmosphere. 
    "Go. Now. Before they take it." It said.
    "What about that ship you sent out?" Dey asked.
    "My son." It said. "I won't let him die for this."
    Dey looked back to the gauntlet. He bent down and picked it up.
    "What am I supposed to do with this?" He asked.
    "Take it. As far away from here as you can. Do Not Let Them Take It!"
    "NINE SECONDS TO SELF- DESTRUCT SEQUENCE."
    Dey straightened up. The gauntlet in his tight grip. One last look at the bloody being, he turned to the Corpeman. The two ran out of the control room.
    "Dey? What's going on?" The Nova Prime asked
    "I'm running!!" Dey yelled. "Need to get out of the ship!!"
    "Why are you running? What's happening?!"
    "It's about to explode!" Dey yelled.
    "What!?" The Nova Prime asked
     They ran through the halls. The soft female voice echoing in his ears. Red lights flashing along the walls
    "FIVE SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT. FOUR SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT!"
    "Oh shit!" He said, the exit within running distance.
    "THREE SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT. TWO SECONDS TO SELF- DESTRUCT!"
    "FIVE SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT. FOUR SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT!"
    "Oh shit!" He said again, the exit within running distance.
    "THREE SECONDS TO SELF-DESTRUCT. TWO SECONDS TO SELF- DESTRUCT!"
    "It's not enough time!" The Corpsman said.
    "A little more. We can make it!" Dey said. "Keep going!"
    "ONE SECOND TO SELF-DESTRUCT!"
    "SHIT!" The Corpsman yelled.
    He tripped over his own feet.
    Dey looked back as he jumped through the door way.
    He tumbled down the ramp. Hitting the ground as the he rolled into a ditch in the ground. He covered his head and shut his eyes tight
    The Corpsman jumped out of the exit.
.   Then came the explosion.

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