“I have got to do something!” Jake told his best friend.
Bolt stood there with his arms crossed shaking his head. “So you're getting into politics?”
Jake laughed and shook his head. “Not exactly. I am just going to set up an alternative to the two choices now available. Both of the existing choices are obviously bad. The Governing Council is corrupt and ineffective, and the pirates definitely do not have our best interests in mind. So, we have to set up something better.”
Bolt put the palm of his hand over his eyes. “Are you sure you haven't lost your mind?”
“Give me a chance, Bolt.” Jake said “The Star League will probably go along with the results of the snap referendum. We can't let the pirates win that and the existing council can't win that.”
Bolt held his hands out and shook his head “We're kids! Nobody is going to take us seriously!”
Jake nodded. “I know that. I have a plan.”
That did not make Bolt feel any better. After Lily and Tulip returned with some food and they had a meal together. “I want to name your fathers as candidates for my faction. I know your dad is still not well, Bolt, but I think this might give him a little protection. Lily, I think they would have to release your dad under the rules.”
Lily and Tulip looked and each other and the older girl answered “Then do it.”
Bolt just shrugged.
After they ate, Jake left the manufactory again and found the family dirigible anchored in it's usual location and rode up the vator. As soon as he reached the top he gave his waiting little brother and sister hug. His father was in the kitchen cleaning up.
“Dad, I really need to talk with you.” Jake said. They both sat at the table across from one another and his father clasped his hands together.
“Okay, Jake, what is this about?”
Jake thought about how to put it into words but then decided to do it his way, just go with it.
“I want to you to stand as a candidate in the election.” He said.
His father tapped his hands together and closed his eyes. “Jake, the Airship Vagabonds already have representatives who can...”
Jake shook his head. “No. You won't be representing the tribe. You'll be representing the people. The old ways have to go. They've failed us, that should be obvious.”
Jake slept in his room that night. The view of space vessels hanging over the city was distracting and disturbing. The invaders had made an offer that many people drooled for, while discrediting the existing government. This could be very bad. Jake didn't sleep well.
The next morning it was being talked about all over the colony, this mysterious 3rd option being offered by “unknown” forces. Jake wanted to laugh but he had to take the long way to see a couple of people. South east of the city on a small hillside was where the Solon was located.
Jake felt a little out of place among all the robed students and teachers but he reached the field and found that the Air Knights Administrator had already arrived, with some backup. There were three flying devices sitting in the field. Jake recognized one of the pilots.
“Hi Ria!” Jake said as he approached. She gave him a strange look in response. The Administration was speaking to Teacher Pak and Jake walked toward them.
“Hello.” Jake said “Administrator Brahma, Teacher Pak. Thanks for coming. I really want your help on this idea.”
Teacher Pak gave a little bow and began to speak but loud noises got their attention. Five loud motor vehicles, mostly two-wheeled approached. People were staring all around. These were riders. These were large men with animated tattoos on their exposed arms.
They parked their vehicles and approached.
“I'm Dungaree.” the first one said holding out his leather-gloved hand for a shake.
Jake gave them a bow and a wave. “I'm the one who called you here. My name is Jake.”
The large man didn't look impressed. “You seem a bit young.”
Jake nodded. “It was my idea but I can't actually be a candidate.”
The man nodded. “I see. You want to stay behind the curtain.”
Jake laughed. “I don't expect people to take this as seriously if they knew I was involved. That's why you guys are here. This effort has to include everyone, we aren't going to represent groups, we need to represent everyone.”
The man chuckled. “Everyone respects the Solon but I'm a Rider and they are Air Knights, I doubt most people will be wanting to vote for us. Especially those guys, holding out with their own water sources and treating their plateau like it's a separate nation.”
“We have deserved that. We will aim to rectify that image.” Administrator Brahma said in agreement.
“That image, as you say, happens to have a lot of truth.” Teacher Pak said “But the Riders are seen as criminals and we are seen a elitists here in the Solon.”
“This is the problem. Every tribe, I mean group, has enmity and detractors. I'm an Airship Vagabond, we're supposed to be aloof and snobby or something.” Jake told them “We need to show a united front. We cannot let a discredited governing council be the only alternative to an invasion and control by Matt Dillinger's pirates!”
The large Rider seemed to be grinding his teeth as he thought. “The boy makes sense. No way the governing council even wins a third of the vote.”
Teacher Pak was shaking his head. “The pirates have allowed only a few days before the plebiscite. Is there really a chance that we could win this?”
Jake wanted to pull his hair out. “We need to do this. We must do this.” then he pointed toward the city and the several space vessels hovering over it. “We cannot just surrender to this!”
Soon enough Jake had all Brahma, Pak and the Rider sign and hand scan themselves, this made them official candidates. Soon the mysterious 3rd faction would have names and faces associated with it and he hoped that the people of Oasis would pull back from the brink.
He went back to talk to Ria before Brahma left to return to the plateau.
“How is Bolt's father?” she asked
Jake had a feeling she was messing with him by asking something like that first, shake it off. “Getting better. I've asked him to be a candidate too.”
She tilted her head a bit. “I thought this wasn't about tribes any more, blimp boy.”
“It's not, I just wanted a good representative sample.” Jake told her. “How is everything on the old plateau?”
Ria grinned and shook her head. “Hectic. Preparations for war, trying to cajole the Star League to do the right thing. Trying to decide how much damage has been caused to our pseudo-independence by all of this.”
Jake had other things he would like to tell Ria but this wasn't a good time. The trio of pilots and Brahma would be heading back soon. Glancing over, Jake saw the Administrator returning.
“I'll talk to you next time.” He told her and she looked confused again as they parted.
Jake returned down the hill toward the city but as soon as he stepped onto the valley floor he was surrounded by three Authority soldiers and three pirates.
“Lookee here, we have us a rebel conspirator.” A balding pirate with an eye patch said.
“To the brig, no trial.” said the smallest pirate and then he laughed.
Jake put his hands in the air. “What is this about?”
The soldiers closed in on him and threw him to the ground, he tried to resist but they soon had bound his hands behind his back.
Jake tried to protest as they picked him up and dragged him to a waiting vehicle. They dropped him a couple times before managing to put him inside the back of the vehicle. A very bumpy ride followed, Jake imagined he would soon be covered in bruises. Then he was blindfolded and thrown into something else.
Jake felt the sunlight vanish. He was in shade, possibly indoors. It was silent even though there was a moving sensation once his heartbeat slowed down. Then Jake got the idea he was on a pirate shuttle being transported to one of the ships above Oasis City.
The next thing he remembered was being marched through corridors and pushed into a small room with a transparent wall. Soon enough he had a visitor.
Matt Dillinger stood on the opposite side of the transparent wall and activated the intercom.
“Little Jake Wagoner. First time on a starship?” The space pirate asked, walking back and forth across the transparent area as if he was the one in captivity.
Jake scowled. “Let me go! You have no reason to bring me here.”
The pirate laughed. “We know you are organizing a faction for the vote. Did you think we would stand idly by while you did this?”
Jake kicked the transparent wall. “It's within the rules you agreed to!”
“Ha!” Dillinger said “Star League rules. We're pretending to do this by the book. You did not really expect us to ignore you as you ruin everything, right?”
Jake sat on the cot and covered his eyes with his palms. Dillinger was right. I actually expected the pirates would play by their own rules. Was I that stupid? These guys never play by the rules, any rules. How do trust a pirate? You can't. They won't keep their promises but they will make sure you keep yours.
“I don't think you understand what you are interfering with, boy.” Matt Dillinger said. “There are great powers in the galaxy who see great potential for Oasis...”
Jake nodded. “How long have you been playing this classic generic villain role?”
The man looked confused for a moment. “This is no game, I assure you.”
Jake stood up from the cot. “Great powers in the galaxy see great potential for Oasis, you say. Where have they been? Why haven't they ever just visited and proposed their development projects? Why is their first idea to take the government hostage and force a vote to legitimize a coup? I would think great powers of the galaxy might have tried - I dunno – diplomacy or offering money first.”
Matt was right up to the transparent wall dividing them. “What is your point?”
“I don't know yet. I will, though.” Jake told him “Kidnapping me tells me there is more to this than you would ever admit.”
“Take a nap, Jake.” the man said before he walked away.
“You can't just leave me here!” he yelled and then heard the hatch close. Apparently, they could and did leave him there. Good. Jake sat on the cot and removed his right sandal and slid open a small compartment and tapped a button there. This would activate an emergency distress beacon. Jake never actually had to use it before and he hoped it worked.
Meanwhile the news of the third faction spread across Oasis. It's candidate list was available for perusal and its platform was simple. Oasis can be developed without space pirates and threats of violence and the old government can be replaced by something more representative.
Jake's father Travis Wagoner left the family dirigible with his two younger children. He brought them to the manufactory where he found Bolt, Lily and Tulip. He learned that Bolt's father was doing much better. He asked Lily and Tulip to watch over Jato and Tawni. Travis asked Bolt to go with him.
After they left the building Bolt asked “What's going on, sir?”
“Jake has been kidnapped.” the man said, then he looked up. “He's in one of those ships up there.”
Bolt shook his head. “I knew they'd be after him. I tried to warn him. He keeps running off by himself.”
Travis nodded vaguely and then said “I am heading to a faction meeting. Jake was supposed to be there, too. Come with me.”
They arrived at the back of a restaurant and was let in. Inside the dining area were most of the candidates their faction had signed up. Travis banged his flat palm on a table until he had their attention.
“I know this was supposed to be a strategy session. Unfortunately, the pirates have taken Jake and we need to get him back.” Travis told them. “Anyone have any ideas on how to get aboard one of those pirate ships?”
Administrator Brahma stood up. “I can get you up there, but I'm not sure they would answer a knock on the door.”
“We can open the door.” the leather clad Dungaree said with a short deep laugh.
“We'll need some armor and some weapons, I think there needs to be at least a six of us going in, but we'll need some distractions too.” Brahma told everyone. “I will make the arrangements. I assume you want this done ASAP?”
“Yes!” Travis answered. “Anyone know the layout of those types of vessels?”
On the plateau Ria and others were called to their Dragon flying vehicles. They didn't know what they were supposed to be doing yet though. Once she arrived she was stunned to see that every single flying machine was being prepped for a mission. Something big was about to happen.
A loud noise scared Tawni, Lily opened the door and looked outside. Two-doen motorcycles and other vehicles were passing by. She shut the door.
“Those are Riders!” she said
“What are they doing?” Tulip asked, looking up from her game of treyckers with Jato and Tawni.
“Looks like they're headed to the council building.”
On one of the ships hovering over the city, an alarm was going off.
“Boss!” someone said running up to Matt Dillinger in the corridor. “Something is going on! You have to see this.”
They entered the bridge of the ship. There were maps and images.
“The Riders have entered the city. The Air Knights are flying all over the place in random patterns, whatever they're doing, they are coordinated.” one of his top minions told him.
Matt shook his head and laughed once. “Looks like someone is hoping to unite the opposition against us.”
Dillinger ignored the fact that everyone around him was waiting for his command.
“Deploy the Silver Forces to the shuttles” he told them “Prepare the ship weapons for taking down the aerial vehicles.” He ordered “Reinforce the forces at the council building.”
There were so many Air Knights in the sky that the pirates did not notice the six two-man versions amongst them. Then one of them flew right to the hovering ship and the passenger jumped over the pirate vessel. His magnetic arms and legs caught hold and then he moved the seven paces to the right and started preparing to hack the lock code.
Soon enough there were five others sticking to the outer hull of the ship, waiting for the hatch to open.
It swung open and one by one they climbed aboard the ship on their rescue mission. Then they pulled out their white-colored submachine guns
“Scanner says we take a left in the corridor and then the next right.” Dungaree said while checking three shock-wave grenades he carried on his belt. Travis Wagoner and other volunteers followed him as they quickly moved toward the brig.
They never saw the enemy platoon getting into the shuttle on the other side of the ship. It was being mirrored on all of the ships.
“Shuttles prepared to launch.” said one of the crew and Dillinger nodded. “Once you arrive, feel free to crush the opposition. Let them learn a little bit about respect.”
The insertion turned onto the last corridor and found three armed guards. The team stepped out and began firing. The cone rounds caused no damage to the walls. To a human it feels like a kick in the stomach. The three guards fell. Nobody on the team was wounded but the armor plating on one of them had taken a beating.
They moved on and located the brig. The outer hatch demanded a pass code, which they did not have, so Dungaree smashed it. Then Administrator Brahma pulled out a small hacking tool.
“This is shuttle 3, door open, we are go!” the pilot said before pushing out of the shuttle bay and turning towards the city below. He was to ferry ten armored troops to the surface. Easy job.
“Hey!” he said when something flashed by right in front of him. Collision alarms were going off on the control panel. Then he noticed there were a lot of aerial vehicles flying around fast and randomly.
“What is going on? These guys are everywhere!”
Then Dillingers voice came over the radio. “Ram them, shoot them, I don't care. Just get to the council building!”
When one of the shuttles rammed into Jasper, the Air Knights knew that things had escalated. Hondo called out “All units, take out those shuttle thrusters!”
Ria flew up behind one of the shuttles and threw one of her boomerazor's. It broke one of the transparent maneuvering covers. Hondo activated the gun on his Dragon and shot the main thrusters on of the shuttles, it went out of control and then crashed into one of the dirigibles over the city and exploded into a fireball.
Ria nearly fell off of her Dragon when she saw the explosion. Once she was back to level flying she watched the flaming dirigible fall onto the city below.
The armored team reached the transparent wall. One of them connected a hacking tool to the lock on the cell.
“Who are you?” Jake asked
“Jake! We're getting you out of here!” one of them responded.
“Dad?” Jake asked, recognizing that voice.
“Hold still! We'll get you out of there.” another familiar voice said.
“Sir! The council building is being overrun.”
“Have the other shuttles landed?” Dillinger demanded to know. The loss of one was expensive but could be replaced.
“They are taking heavy ground fire.” he was told “Our troops there are requesting evacuation.”
Matt Dillinger turned around and kicked a bulkhead. All this work was turning into nothing. Oasis had looked like an easy mark. He didn't look forward to telling his financial backers that the mission had failed.
“Get them on board. Let's get out of here!”
“Some of the Authority soldiers that backed us want to come along too”
“There is no time for another shuttle trip! Leave them behind!” Dillinger ordered.
Shuttle 3 never even got to land before returning to the shuttle bay. Then the ship was prepared for returning to space.
The insertion team and Jake reached the hatch they had entered through. Jake looked out and down and then back to the others.
“How did you plan for us to get down?” He asked.
The ship thudded and they all reached for a hand-hold. Looking back outside, Jake's eyes widened and he yelled to the others. “We're moving up! We gotta go!”
He father pulled Jake close while Brahma and Dungaree strapped him to his father. A second breathing mask was placed on Jakes face, connected to his fathers suit. Then one by one they leaped from the hatch and Jake yelled. “This is crazy!”
His father leaped out of the hatch too. They spun a few times and the space vessel quickly became smaller and smaller in the sky above. Jake was awed at how high they were now. He could see the city below, there were fires, but the space vessels were gone.
A large circular winglet deployed around the pack his fathers suit carried. This slowed down their descent a little and gave him some control of the direction they drifted without needing to deploy any parachutes. All five of the others had deployed the same thing.
Jake wondered if these suits had come from the Authority or from the Air Knights.
That little valley and its lakes. This oasis. It was home for most of the people here. This is what it looked like from far above. The rest of the world was a dry desert. The pirates had made a good point, even though they were the wrong people to carry it out.
Jake would make sure it was carried out. He hadn't known what he would do with his life before, but making Oasis green would do fine. The whole world would become his home. No more tribes, no more corrupt council and forget about the Star League. The League hadn't even sent a form letter.
I hope you enjoyed the six-part story. You can buy it as an ebook HERE for 99 cents.
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NEW ARRIVALS is now only $1.99
Or you can help me out by hitting the tip jar on the sidebar.