Monday, November 26, 2018

A Job for Supermen

Episode V: A Job for Supermen

It is a dark time for the Rebellion. Although their base on Yavin IV remains hidden from the Empire, the Death Star has intimidated all but a few brave star systems into capitulating to the Emperor's tyrannical rule.

While in hiding from the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, Ben Kenobi has drawn upon all his knowledge to teach his two wards, Luke Skywalker and Clark Kenobi, the ways of the Force. Luke, strong in the force and eager to learn, rises to the rank of Jedi Knight. But Clark, skeptical of the old Jedi Order and blessed with great power of his own, has abandoned the Rebel cause to pursue truth and justice on his own. Working on the fringes of Imperial space, he has used his great abilities to free slaves and 'droids on many worlds.

The evil lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding young Kenobi, has dispatched thousands of remote probes into the far reaches of space...

***

The Star Destroyer Abbadon dropped out of hyperspace at the edge of the Yavin system, launched a probe droid, and jumped back to lightspeed to continue its search pattern. Several hours later, the probe droid detected life on Yavin IV and touched down in the teeming jungle that covered most of that verdant world. A single eye glowing with malevolent purpose, the multi-armed robot probe hovered precisely one metre above the swampy earth and silently recalibrated its sensors. Then, it slid smoothly through the air, making its way toward an ancient structure in the distance. Its cameras captured a rebel U-Wing returning from some covert mission.

That was enough. Its antennae quivered. Light years distant, the captain of the Abbadon pumped his fist in satisfaction.

"Put me through to Lord Vader. It's taken us five years, but we've found the Rebel scum."

***

The winged warriors of planet Starhaven cheered as Clark Kenobi brought the former Imperial Governor to them, neatly bound in a girder twisted around his body that pinned his arms to his torso. The bald, grey-mustiached despot fumed and sputtered empty threats--threats that died on his lips as a force of Starhavenites marched out of the Dawn Palace with the Governor's elite guard of Stormtroopers their cowed prisoners.

Windspear, leader of Starhaven's resistance, saluted Kenobi.

"On behalf of my people...thank you, great liberator."

"You liberated yourselves, sir," Kenobi said. "I just gave you a little hand to get started."

With that, Kenobi launched himself into the sky, his red cloak fluttering in his wake. Windspear called after him, knowing from experience the young man could hear even though he was already out of sight.

"Starhaven never forgets, young superman. Where you go - we will follow!"

Clark heard. Windspear's voice was just a whisper carried by the last feeble traces of Starhaven's thermosphere, but the message couldn't have been clearer. Clark's eyes were sad even as they glowed red-hot, vaporizing the Empire's orbital intimidator satellites and communications arrays. One more planet freed, one more chance that a freed but wounded people wouldn't be content to be rid of the Empire, would instead take to the stars in search of revenge.

"Hey kid, are you coming in or are you gonna hang out in orbit and mope for a while?"

Clark turned to see Han Solo waving at him through the cockpit window of the Millennium Falcon. Clark waved back and flew to the dorsal airlock. Moments later, he joined Solo at the old freighter's controls.

"Well, if it isn't the Superman himself."

"Come on, Han. You know I don't like it when they call me that."

Han shrugged, eyes wide with innocence. "Hey, I'm just saying what they're all saying out here on the fringes of space. You have to admit you've made quite an impression on the locals. Heck, some of them are putting up statues, calling you a god."

Clark glared. "That isn't true."

"Kid, you may not want it to be true, but great power attracts followers. A lot of people just want to be led, whether it's a guy like you or someone like the Emperor."

Clark was stunned. Solo immediately realized his mistake.

"Hey, kid, listen, I don't mean that you're anything like him..."

But Clark was already heading aft to his quarters. He knew Han hadn't meant anything by the remark. But it still hurt. Clark knew instinctively that using his abilities, so far beyond those of mortal men, introduced a terrible imbalance in the universe. He tried to do the right thing, tried to live by the pacifist principles of his long-lost people, the doomed Kryptonians who died defenceless in a flash of the Death Star's superlaser. But the Rebellion inspired him; against incredible odds, people like Ben and Luke and Biggs and Leia and General Dodonna and Wedge and all the rest risked their lives every day to restore freedom to the galaxy.

But that just seemed to lead to more and more bloodshed. There had to be a better way - a way without killing.

I wish I was normal, he thought. I'm not smart enough or wise enough for this. I'm not even 20 yet. 

There is a right and a wrong in the universe, and the distinction is not very difficult to make. It seemed so simple when the crystals he found in his escape rocket transmitted those words into his head. But the more time passed, the more he felt the distinction was sometimes very difficult to make after all, at least when it came down to the complicated details of star wars.

Han's voice chirped over the intercom.

"Hey, kid. Message from your old man. It sounds urgent."

***

Ben Kenobi leaned across the communications holo-pool, suffused in blue light. "Clark, Han - they've found us. We're evacuating Yavin. We expect an Imperial Fleet and probably the Death Star itself within the hour."

All around Kenobi, Rebel troops were packing up gear and coordinating launch priorities. Leia herself rested a hand on Kenobi's shoulder, silently urging him to sign off.

"Clark, I don't know where we're bound, and we couldn't say over an open channel anyway. Don't come; you'd never get here in time, and there will be far too many Imperials for even you, my boy. Keep the light of hope alive. May the Force be with you."

Leia embraced Kenobi for a moment - but only a moment. "Come on, Obi-Wan. The last transport is ready to launch, and we're going to be on it." She turned to address the Rebels who remained at their stations. "Everyone out! Follow me!"

***

Han turned to Clark as Ben Kenobi's holographic image vanished into static. "I'm sorry, kid. Even the Falcon isn't fast enough to get all the way back to Yavin in time to help."

"I know, Han. I hope I'll see you again."

Solo's eyebrows rose in puzzlement. "What do you--"

But faster than the human eye could follow, Clark Kenobi was gone. Solo caught a flash of dopplered light out the cockpit window, the primary colours of Clark's red, blue and yellow uniform transforming into a violet streak that glowed brilliantly for a moment, then vanished as the youth propelled himself into hyperspace.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," Solo muttered.

***

Inside the stormy tunnel of light that was hyperspace, Clark Kenobi tore through reality faster than anything had gone before. His Kryptonian cells supercharged by years of exposure to the many young suns populating the galactic fringes, his entire being screamed otherworldly energy, harnessed by will alone.

Minutes later, Clark soared past the great star at the centre of the Yavin; seconds after that, he didn't even need to use his telescopic vision to see the space around Yavin IV's moon filled with fleeing Rebel starfighters and capital ships. Clark arrived just in time to see a quartet of Star Destroyers pop into existence, swarms of TIE fighters erupting from their bellies.

He spotted Red Squadron escorting a trio of transports. Clark joined the formation, nodding to Biggs Darklighter on his left, Wedge Antilles on his right. Straight ahead, Luke waggled his wings to let Clark know he'd seen him.

Focusing his bottomless will, channeling his power to speed, Clark broke formation to launch himself at the Imperial TIEs. He hoped he could dispatch the fighters before his old friends could meet them in combat, costing lives on both sides.

But then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Death Star appear in the green moon's orbit.

He couldn't move quickly enough to disable all those fighters, the Star Destroyers, and the Death Star without causing more deaths than he was trying to prevent. As fast as he was, human lives were too fragile to withstand more than the tiniest fraction of his power.

He felt Luke reaching out with the Force.

I wish there was another way, Clark. But this is war. Good luck. 

Clark wept as he changed trajectories, swooping toward the Death Star. Behind him, Rebel A-Wings, X-Wings, and Y-Wings clashed with scores of TIE fighters of all kinds. Space erupted in blaster fire, and death followed by the score in mere seconds.

His course fixed, Clark closed his eyes and flew at the Death Star.

***

Governor Tarkin paced the glossy obsidian floor of the Death Star's bridge, chewing on his thumb.

"He's coming," Tarkin hissed. "He's here. Here! How? It's impossible. He was on the other side of the galaxy!"

Darth Vader gazed at the schematic that showed the arrogant young Superman closing in on their position.

"Your lack of faith in the Emperor's wisdom saddens me, Tarkin. We didn't expect him to be here, true, but so much the better. Prepare yourself, Governor. At long last, tonight we extinguish the Rebellion...forever." He turned to address the tactical director. "Target that individual with the superlaser and fire."

The officer was stunned. "F-fire on one man, sir? The superlaser? Isn't that...overkill? It will take us 30 minutes to rech--ggkkk!!!"

"I said fire," Vader repeated, his fist clenched, an invisible cord strangling the tactician.

"Vader, he can't fire unless you release him," Tarken pointed out, though he, too, was mystified.

Vader paused for a long moment, then relaxed. Coughing, the red-faced director repeated the order to his subordinate, who relayed it to the gunnery officer in the superlaser chamber.

Deep in the heart of the Death Star, a massive crystal pulsed with emerald energy. Harvested from the blasted remains of Krypton, the raw jewel provided all the power necessary to vaporize planets.

The Emperor, when he bestowed this gift to Vader, called it  Kryptonite.

1 comment:

Jeff Shyluk said...

Superlaser... Superman... you know I did not see that coming. I doubt poor Clark will either! Stay tuned!!