The Mighty Galactic Federation Has Finally Fallen To The Rotten Zandokan Hordes – Who Will Save Our Cake Now?!
A Standalone Bradventure. Which Means That Brad Ain’t In This One…
“What the-?! If not, why not, eh?! Uff, typical… NEVER invited ta anyfink. Especially at this time a’ year… Can’t even wrangle me way into me own blog?! Jeez, the ‘ole galaxy’s gone NUTS…”
“Well I could call out when the going gets tough.
The things that we’ve learnt are no longer enough” – Ian Curtis.
“The cosmos is in chaos…” Ajaan Rajendra uttered in grim realization. “That much is certain. We could see, helplessly, how wracked with turmoil the Federation had become, but to learn that it has indeed crumbled under Zandokan might is… unbelievable…”
The warrior-monk-turned-Rebel Leader sat cross-legged, having meditated in twilight on a rocky promontory overlooking the Amethyst Sea.
His most trusted officer: Commander Alda Vareldt kept an impatient watch, a few yards opposite. With him, a few other bedraggled Rebels waited anxiously.
Behind them, the towers of Dhoby Ghaut Spaceport – its bars and canteens once brimming with noise and good cheer – stood eerily silent that evening.
“We came to collect you, Ajaan,” Alda spat agitatedly. “It’s only a matter of time before the Zandokan fighters arrive. Sorry, sir, but we’ve got ta pull out, pronto.”
They piled into their Stalwart Land Ranger and it passed swiftly through the wastelands of Gundagan…
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders” – Lao Tzu.
“BEHOLT! ZE POWAIR COZMEEC!” Zan Doka cried manicly as he cradled the stupendous intensity of galactic brilliance between his bionic hands.
Recollections of that regrettable last encounter flooded back to Ajaan as the monotony of the drive set in.
“Duzn’t eet thrill you, Ajaan? Zuch powair eez now rightfully mine! At ze vanguard of our all-out azzault, may army veell be eenveencible! Finally! Ze rotten Federation veell fall unto ME! …Durn’t tell me you’re not imprezzed, Ajaan…”
“Very well. I shall spare you that little victory. But there is something from you I need to know: all that talk of enriching the well-being of the galaxy, why suddenly blight such worth with despicable endeavours and this deplorable empire-building? What makes you think you can succeed?!”
“Mark may wudz, Ajaan of Hygge! Nurbuddy praizez ze goot soul-“
“I would – I would be there to encourage you to do so much more good-“
“Nur! Crush ze Federation and squeeze all eetz corrupt gnats within may totalitarian rule! Then, all those lezzer beingz who zought to mock me would cowair end grovel! THEES eez whut Ay aim to create! Wunce may Empah eez complete, Ay veel veezeet you urn Hygge, end show you how ze grandezt zchemes KEN be accurmpleeshed!
“Mark them… end mark them well. Ay shell be zeeing you egen zooner then you theenk, heh heh…”
“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe” – Marcus Aurelius.
On the verge of the ancient Bodhi Temple, their transport came to an abrupt halt. Their cruiser stood in the compound at the rear. While Raj’s group squatted on its age-old steps, Kelly tried to open a comlink with the Calista Blockhead.
“We need Brad Company right here! Right now!”
A hologram materialized, but in place of the fabled cake-scoffer, his right-hand man: ‘Arris Wrench appeared in his stead.
“Blazes, ‘Arris! Where’s Brad?!”
“…Er, not ‘ere. ‘E’s ‘ad ta skedaddle back to his homeworld for a ritual that most of his planet’s population must observe this month every year for the foreseeable future.”
Wha-? I thought that idiot Brad was too cool for hokey religions…”
“Look, we’re all stretched at the mo. The Zandokans launched offensives on FIVE fronts, all at once. Me an’ th Co. barely scraped through that skirmish at Dork’s Drift!”
“Okay, we need immediate evac! Can you-“
The Calista Engineer’s deflated sigh said it all:
“Soz, Kells, but there is NO WAY we can get there in time! Ya’ll just have ta-”
At that moment, the signal crackled out.
“They’ve cut us off!” Deke Dolmec cried in dismay.
“Blazes…” Kelly frowned. “Observe? What could he be watching?!”
“Gah! He’s the original loose cannon. NEVER there when ya need ‘im,” Alda growled disconsolately.
“Yeah…” Kelly smiled wryly. “Bit of a rogue one, isn’e…?!”
“The Empires of the future are the Empires of the mind” – Winston Churchill.
“That’s it,” huffed Alda dejectedly. “We’re gonna havta get past the Imperial Lightning Field… on our own-“
“Ah no!” Kelly cried. “We’re gonna ‘ave company anyway! Sensors detect THREE Zerpent Kruizers are closin’ in on this sector!”
“LANDO’S TEETH! That’s not all!” Deke blurted as his quadcorder flashed ominously. “It’s the ‘Ead ‘Ombre ‘imself! The Imperial Zentinel is comin’!”
“As I anticipated – ’tis Zan Doka – none of you are a match for him; I must face him… alone. You must go now, my friends; proceed to Kazjgar. Do as I command and rally our disparate rebel factions. Co-ord the counteroffensive-“
“But what about you, Master?!” Yala, one of his brightest students, was not ready to let go. “We will not leave you at the hands of this… this merciless-!”
As he gave her a reassuring hug, the great Ajaan Rajendra addressed his Followers:
“Fret not, Zan Doka comes to gloat… only,” Rajendra blinked his bulbous eyes. “I sense that he will not kill me… at least, not on this visit…”
They all looked dejected.
“My friends – remember: do not let your hearts… and minds… be troubled. Be aware; be mindful through space. And time. Do not dwell for too long on the sufferings of the Federated Planets. You are… all blessed with great resilience! Now, you must leave. There can be no delay!”
They filed out, some smiling nervously at the Rebel Leader, afraid to accept that this could be the last time they saw this beloved ol’ Yanduri alive.
Ajaan started to move into the temple; Alda lunged forward, whispering:
“Why don’t you come with us, Ajaan… now?! I am lost without y-“
The Leader smiled sweetly, and clasped his hands on Alda’s shoulders.
“I know you, Alda… it is most unlike you to despair. For all your talk of great leaders…”
Ajaan’s grip tightened.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles” – Sun Tzu.
The infamous buzz of the Zentinel’s ion engines shattered the dusty air above the Bhoja Temple.
Rajendra knelt beside the fountain in the courtyard… waiting.
Draped in his priestly hooded cloak, he observed the vessel’s descent and a battalion of Shokk troopers disperse. Down the ramp, borne on a wave of suffocating arrogance, the new Ruler of the Universe marched forth. A malevolent grin emerged from beneath elaborate Imperial headgear as the Zandokan Emperor recognised the Ajaan of Hygge.
Rajendra rose to his feet and shifted back his hood; Zan Doka strode in, rubbing his bionic hands together in glee.
“Hail thee, AjRaj – Defendair of Ze Lozt Cauze! Ha ha, how ya doin’?”
“I was having a good day…” the Yanduri moaned and beckoned the Emperor to follow him back into the temple.
“Ya, uv courz! Yo really hef to sharpen yer inzults eef yo weesh ta eemprezz yer Nemezzeez!”
Ajaan abruptly halted; Zan Doka stopped to gleer at his archenemy.
“By the Silver Shards of Callifrax, Zan, what have you done? You and your accursed empire – the galaxy is tearing itself apart,”
“Urn ze contrairy, fool, unlike uther would-be zupairveellainz who could only brag about what they would do with great power, Ay hef achieved whut Ay zet out to do!”
“Nay, the Power Cosmic has driven you mad… Why come back? You detest this planet – you said so, many times. What, getting cramp lounging on your misbegotten throne for too long?”
Zan Doka halted, staring up at the bewitching ceiling of the Inner Sanctum.
“Cunning old toad! Ay come beck to tell you WUN theeng: Ay tuld yo zo! Yo ken muztair a thouzand zquadronz, conzolidet dozairns uv mavereek worldz AGENZT ME – warp ze Powair Cozmeec – heh! Eef you ken…! But from the perilous heightz of the Moggadorr Mountainz to the zcintillating shores of the Crystal Zea of Izmeer, mah Empah shall ENDURE EETERNAL! Heh… I tuld yo zo….”
“Uff, spare me your insufferable monologuing, dotard,” Rajendra bowed his head in shame.
“Ah…! Ay zenze… yer beetternezz – end… mebbe a pen that gnaws et ze vairy core uv yer being… What eez eet, Ay vonder? What ailz thee…?”
Rajendra slowly looked up, his eyes ablaze with mystic fury:
“I cannot believe we had the same mother…”
May the Sovereign Of Our Universe save us all…