The Adventures of Luke Skyweaver, Chapter 4

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We return to the interior of the Series Winner.  A large viewscreen shows a beautiful planet, populated with reds, blues, blacks, and yellows.  Maddon stands before it, pondering, as Jed Hoyer reports.

HOYER

We’ve entered the Central system.

As Hoyer leaves, he passes Rizzo and John Mozeliak, flanked by Imperial stormtroopers, who enter and stand before Maddon.

MOZELIAK

Manager Maddon, I should have expected to see you writing Rizzo into the starting lineup.  I saw your foul t-shirts when I was brought on board.

MADDON

Charming to the last.  General Manager Mozeliak, I would like you to be my guest at a ceremony that will make this battle station operational.

MOZELIAK

The more you tighten your grip, Maddon, the more postseason success will slip through your fingers.

MADDON

Not after we demonstrate the power of this station.  In a way, you have determined the choice of planet that will be destroyed first.  Since you are reluctant to provide us the location of the scouting reports, I have chosen to test this station’s destructive power on your home planet of Central.

MOZELIAK

No! Central is peaceful and perfect the way it is.  You can’t possibly…..

MADDON

You would prefer another target? A baseball target?  Then name the system! I get tired of asking this.  For the last time, where are those scouting reports?

Mozeliak looks over Maddon’s shoulder at Central.  His shoulders slump.

MOZELIAK

Jupiter.  They’re in Jupiter.

MADDON

You see, Lord Rizzo, he can be reasonable.  You may fire when ready.

MOZELIAK

WHAT?

MADDON

You are far too trusting.  But we will deal with your Republic reports soon enough.

As Mozeliak cringes, we see numerous workers flipping switches, pulling levers, hitting home runs, turning double plays.  Finally, a blue-white beam lances out from the Series Winner, striking Central and blowing it into rubble.

Inside the Reyes Arsenal, Carpenter has Weaver going through various exercises, working on getting in touch with Command.  Currently, Weaver is throwing orbs at the corners of a constructed frame from the length of the cargo hold.

Suddenly, Carpenter falters, grasping for something to sit down on.  His face goes pale.

LUKE

Are you all right?

CARPENTER

I felt a great disturbance, like millions of playoff lives and plans cried out in terror, then were suddenly silenced.  I fear something terrible has happened.

Rubbing his forehead, Carpenter looks weary, but turns to Luke.

CARPENTER

You’d better get on with your exercises.

As Luke again focuses on the frame, Reyes strolls into the cargo hold.

REYES

Well, you can forget your troubles with those Imperial cubs. Told you I’d outrun them.

His words get no response, as Carpenter focuses on Luke, who is focusing on his throws.

REYES

Don’t everyone thank me at once.  Anyway, we should be at Central about 7:15.

Luke continues to focus on the frame, continually soft-tossing training orbs toward it.

CARPENTER

Remember, an Ace can feel Command flowing through him.

LUKE

You mean it controls your actions?

CARPENTER

Partly.  But it also obeys your commands.

Suddenly, one of Luke’s tosses goes awry, bouncing back and clipping him on his backside.  As Weaver winces in pain, Reyes guffaws.

REYES

Hokey philosophies and offspeed weapons are no match for a good fastball by your side, kid.

LUKE

You don’t believe in Command, do you?

REYES

Kid, I’ve been from one league to the next, seen a lot of strange stuff.  But I’ve never seen anything that makes me believe in some all-powerful Command.  There’s no mystical energy field controlling my pitches.  It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.

Carpenter smiles, then decides to up the difficulty.  He reaches under a table and pulls out a visored catcher’s mask, placing it on Luke’s head.

CARPENTER

I suggest you try again, but this time, let go of our conscious self and act on instinct.

LUKE

With the visor in this lighting, I can’t even see.  How am I supposed to pitch?

CARPENTER

Your eyes can deceive you.  Don’t trust them.

Reyes grins as Luke again grabs the training orbs and faces the frame.  Luke throws wildly at the frame, which causes the same bounce back issue as before.

CARPENTER

Stretch out with your feelings.

Luke takes a deep breath and pauses.  Then, without hesitation, he drills three practice orbs low and away.

CARPENTER

You see, you can do it.

REYES

(unimpressed) I call it luck.

CARPENTER

Luck is the residue of design, my friend.

REYES

Look, good against zone frames is one thing.  Good against the living?  That’s something else.

Reyes notices a light flashing.

REYES

We’re coming up on Central.

Reyes and Kelly, who has been over observing with the droids, head up to the cockpit.  Luke and Carpenter begin to follow as Luke turns to the ace.

LUKE

You know, I did feel something.  It was like I could almost put the orb exactly where I wanted it.

CARPENTER

That’s good.  You’ve taken your first step into a larger league.

Back inside the Series Winner, Manager Maddon sits at his desk, deciding on the next day’s wardrobe for his troopers.  Lord Rizzo lounges on the other side of the room as an Imperial officer comes to make a report.

OFFICER

Our scout ships have reached Jupiter.  They found a Republic compound, but they estimate it has been deserted for some weeks.  They are now conducting an extensive search of the surrounding facilities.

MADDON

He lied! He lied to us!

RIZZO

I told you he would never consciously betray The Cardinal Way.

MADDON

Terminate him immediately!  Start the paperwork.

We shift to the Arsenal, still streaking through hyperspace.

REYES

Stand by, Carsie, here we go.  Cut in the sublight engines.

The stars regain their normal appearance, but the Arsenal is buffeted by chunks of playoff hopes and dreams.  A smokestack narrowly misses the ship and a yellow slide bumps the undercarriage.

REYES

What the?  This isn’t on any of the charts.

LUKE

What’s going on?

REYES

Our position is correct except…no Central.

LUKE

What do you mean? Where is it?

REYES

That’s what I’m telling you kid.  It’s been totally blown away.

LUKE

What?  How?

Carpenter joins them in the cockpit.

CARPENTER

Destroyed.  By the Empire.

REYES

The best couldn’t destroy a planet like that.  It’d take a superteam or….

cockpit-final

Alarms blare as an Imperial fighter streaks overhead.

LUKE

It sure is leaving in a big hurry.  If they identify us, we’re in big trouble.

REYES

Not if I can help it.  Carsie, hack its transmissions and change up the signs.

CARPENTER

It’d be as well to let it go.  It’s too far out of range.

REYES

Not for long.

As the Arsenal continues to track after the fighter, slowly gaining, a circular object hangs out in space, beginning to fill the viewport.

LUKE

He’s heading for that small moon.

CARPENTER

(with a sense of realization) That’s no moon.  That’s a space station.

REYES

It’s too big to be a space station.

LUKE

I have a very bad feeling about this.

CARPENTER

Turn the ship around.

REYES

Yeah, I think you’re right.  Carsie, lock in the auxiliary thrusters.

They continue to move forward.

REYES

Lock in the auxiliary thrusters!

LUKE

Why are we still moving towards it?

REYES

We’re caught in a tractor beam!  It’s pulling us in.  There’s nothing we can do.  Can’t you see all those little media ships being sucked in as well?  But they aren’t going to take me without a fight!

Carpenter puts his hand on Reyes’s shoulder.

CARPENTER

You can’t win.  Haven’t you heard the experts?  But there are alternatives to fighting.

(Again, the incredible artwork is from Daniel Winnett.  Links to Chapters 1, 2, and 3.)

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