THE X EFFECT
A GALAXY AND ITS REPUBLIC ARE PLAGUED BY WAR.
HOPING TO SPREAD ITS GREED AND POVERTY TO EACH END OF THE GALAXY, THE SEPARATISTS, LED BY THE MYSTERIOUS COUNT DOOKU, HAVE AIMED THEIR EFFORTS TO THE NEUTRAL OUTER RIM.
WITH THE CLONES AND THE JEDI LEADING THEM SPREAD THIN THROUGH THE STARS, A SHROUD OF DARKNESS FALLS UPON THE KNIGHTS OF ORDER AND PEACE.
HOWEVER, A BEACON OF LIGHT DISCOVERED BY THE VISIONS OF THE WISE AND POWERFUL MASTER YODA DIRECTS THE FATE OF THE WAR, AND ALL EYES WATCHING, TO A TINY PLANET ON THE OUTER RIM CALLED EARTH…
"No guards, no force field, not even a laser grid- can you believe this, Cad?" a deep, raspy, reptilian voice growled up to his leader as they scaled the side of a short skyscraper. At least it was short to them.
"Quiet, Bossk," Cad said, feeling the night winds of this strange, quaint little planet ruffle the coattail of his slim, brown duster. He reached up with one hand, taking it from the glass of the building to straighten out his wide-brimmed, brown hat that shielded his glowing red eyes and blue skin on his smooth face when he didn't need them to be seen. "13 Kwillops from the objective."
"Do not disappoint me," a deep, brooding and regal voice hissed into his earpiece. "It is imperative that you return to me with it before the Jedi return from Utapau."
"Sir, if I may," the tiny, floating, black bot with a round body and long head said, connected to Cad's radio frequency, "Earth to your location- he would need to return in 13 parsecs to make it back before the Jedi."
The voice on the other end of the line was quiet for a moment. "If you want your pay, I would suggest making it here in 12."
Cad spoke before his droid could. "I'll see it done, Count Dooku." The line cut to static. His employer was not pleased, although he never seemed pleased anyway.
Cad shot a dirty glare at his small robot companion. "Todo 360, what have I told you about speaking without my permission?"
The white lights in Todo's eye sockets rolled. "It was a valid point, with all due respect, we would essentially commit ourselves to a Kessel Run; the fastest ship ever to do that managed it in 12.5 parsecs, and with these stolen Republic fighter ships, there is no way we'll be able to-"
"Shut up," Cad said bluntly, raising his fist. All of the bounty hunters stopped in their tracks, waiting for their leader's next command. Cad looked at a small, blue panel on his arm. "Scan the perimeter."
Within a moment, the panel displayed a series of blue flashes that spread an intimidating grin on Cad's face. "IG-86, shut it down."
He looked down at the second droid accompanying them on their climb up, seeing the black, skeletal construction with a red, glowing eye and a long, vertical head attach a black pulsating object to the side of the building. Cad's smile vanished with the building's tall, red banner's light dying. "Move it, we do not have much time," Cad said, looking inside the room he was hanging outside. It was a simple living room, he determined, with a large, primitive flat-screen projector on one wall, couches and chairs arranged to face it, with exotic plants in the corners and a long bookshelf stocked with books about chemistry and astronomy. At least this planet had a grasp on science judging by the constellations and microscope captures on the book covers, although nowhere near as extensive as some other planets he'd been to. "IG-86!" he snapped.
IG-86 spat back with a few rapid beeps and climbed next to Cad. With a few clicks, its fingers became tiny laser beams that melted a man-sized circle into the window.
"Go, go, go," Cad whispered, ushering Bossk, Todo, and IG-86 inside. He carefully stepped into the room, drawing a sighted pistol with a strange adapter in the place of a magazine. "Bossk, come with me, upstairs. Todo, IG-86, wait for my signal before you wish to attack, anything."
"Yessir," Todo said, leading IG-86 down one hallway while the two flesh-and-bone hunters crept up a winding case of metal stairs. The pulsing on his blue detector device grew stronger as Cad and his widemouth, sharp toothed companion with red eyes and a scaly head stepped into a circular hall, four rooms in all directions as well as two long hallways leading deeper in the silent home.
Bossk loaded the thick barreled, black blaster slung over his shoulder and nodded to his partner, slithering down the hallway to the left. Cad followed his device's signaling down the hallway to the right, it's flashes now a solid blue bar as he pushed open a white, wooden door to a toddler's bedroom. It was like any other child's bedroom, a firetruck-themed comforter in a bed sitting in the corner of the room with white clouds painted against a sky blue background, a bouncy ball on a rug in the middle of the hardwood floor, a toy bin and a small bookshelf with picture books leaning on it. What rested in the bed was what gave him work tonight, and it was quite extraordinary. "Visual," Cad whispered, "turning on transmission mode so you can take a look around."
"Hurry up," his boss demanded.
"You can now see everything I am seeing now," Cad said, walking over to the foot of the bed and staring at the calm, blonde toddler sleeping in perfect tranquility, a thin trail of saliva from his mouth and onto the pillow with a small, rotating toy plane above him with the front of the plane focused on the child. "A broken toy… building blocks…" Cad scoffed. "Is-is this the one? This snotty son of savages will end the Clone Wars?"
"Ah, yes," Dooku said, as if he had just sat in a hot bath with whatever he was sensing washing over him. "I can feel his power all the way from here. Do not underestimate him, Bane, remember what you said about Skywalker."
"At least Skywalker would put up a decent fight," Cad said, changing his tone as he remembered who he was talking to. "You will have him, Count." He crouched and crept up to the side of the bed, slithering his hand over the covers. A short flash sputtered from the broken toy plane and his hand spasmed in pain so great he recoiled all the way across the room. He swallowed a yelp and looked at his hand, grimacing at the bright purple blister swelling on his hand. A red laser passed over it and his eyes followed it, growing to realize that the broken airplane was not a toy, and focused right on his forehead. He rolled out of the way and watched the small ballistic round dig into the wood of the boy's closet.
"Reed, someone's in Franklin's room!" a woman shouted from down the long hallway. "Go downstairs, make sure they don't go very far, I'll check on the baby!"
"Now?" Bossk asked through their communicator. "IG-86 and I are hiding in a closet; it's getting uncomfortable and I'm itching for a fight!"
Cad cursed under his breath. "Wait," he whispered, taking off his hat and replacing it with a hood that made his duster look more like a cloak. He kept one hand under his cloak and pulled out a long, studded and intricately detailed metal rod with a black opening on one end and a silver plate on the other. Toward the open end there was a small conical protrusion, almost like a handguard. He stood up and watched a blonde, human woman of average height run into the room in a white shirt and blue pajama pants, her blue eyes glowering with rage. She stared at him quizzically, confused and perplexed nearly just as much as she was angry.
"Who in the hell are you?" she spat. "What are you doing in my son's room?"
"Greetings," he said through a translator tucked in the collar of his shirt. He hated how his voice sounded in the language the mother shouted at him in, very dark, deep, brooding. "I am Qui-Gon Jinn, Jedi Master, and representative of Coruscant and the Galactic Republic. I am here to speak to you about your child." He stepped forward and she outstretched her hand. Cad's toe hit a wall that wasn't there, and before he could draw his gun, he was flattened to the opposite wall by this intangible but effective force.
"I got that much by the alarm," she said, "drop your weapons and start talking, or the next bed you'll be approaching will be laid out for you in a hospital."
"M-mommy?" the child stammered. "Who's the scary man in my room?"
"Don't worry baby," she said, crushing Cad even more. "Mommy's here."
"Your son is in grave danger," Cad said, slowly sliding his pistol just out of their vision under his duster cloak, "I just want to talk about what we can do to keep him out of harm's way."
"Kill them," Dooku instructed.
Cad wanted to, but it was clear she was capable of something extraordinary as well. "Please, let this field down, so that we may discuss this."
She laughed at him a little, her scowl twisting into an unbelieving smile every few seconds. "You break into our home, attempt to take our child, and expect us to be diplomatic?"
"I've instructed Bossk and IG-86 to follow my orders," Dooku hissed, followed by a loud reptilian roar from downstairs. She gasped and looked toward the doorway, whipping Bane into the bookcase with her strange powers as she lost concentration on him. "If you would like to come back to me assured that I will not kill you myself, then I would suggest finishing the job."
Bane quickly drew his pistol and fired a red laser beam at the woman. She scowled at him and held her hand out, bouncing the beam away with another projection. "You have no idea who you're dealing with!" she shouted.
Bane fired a few times but she was no longer there, although he could hear her stomping across the room even over the toddler's terrified cries. He fired another time, hearing her cry out in pain before a kick from the invisible woman planted itself into his chin. He scrambled to his feet and swept whatever was in front of him, hearing a satisfying thud of the mother on the floor as he tracked the blood dripping from her leg wound that tipped him off. He darted toward the bed and swept Franklin from his bed, racing down the steps where IG-86, Bossk, and Todo were fighting the father. "End him already!" Cad snarled, holding the baby in his arm like a football while he aimed his pistol at the husband.
The dad's enraged brown eyes met Cad's red ones, and the sudden push of Cad down the stairwell by the mother indicated this wasn't going to be an easy fight. He curled into a ball to protect his object and stood up, facing the father face to face. He was a tall, fair-skinned human who was well built with short, neat brown hair with two distinct silver streaks over his sideburns on the sides of his head. Bossk aimed his slow sniper rifle at his head and quickly found the man's fist in his face ten feet away. Cad's jaw slowly widened as the man's arm retracted from its incredible length, as if it was made of rubber. IG-86 and Todo's arms morphed into taser-like appendages and rushed him, but his wife was in the way with another force field that bounced them into the kitchen. IG rose to his feet and rummaged through the kitchen, whipping knives at the elastic man who stretched and extended every part of his body to dodge. Even Cad needed to duck a few. "IG-86, you buffoon! The child! Do not harm the child!" He ducked a punch from the fantastic man and placed a round, buzzing device on his stomach. The dad cried out in pain and doubled over, gritting his teeth to grab and crush the shock device. Cad ran for the window but hit an invisible panel headfirst, loosening his grip on the child. "Boba!" he shouted in his communicator. "Get the ship ready, we may leave with a lighter load than intended!"
He heard a chuckle from the other side. "Those savages are giving you a hard time-"
"Do not test me, boy!" he growled, taking an invisible kick and an unseen punch to the pack of the head. He whipped around and spun the silver rod around, aiming it at the child's neck. "Stop it, stop it now! I'll do it!"
"Let go of my son!" Reed barked, throwing a stretchy right cross across the room that nailed Cad straight where his nose should be. The invisible mother ripped Franklin from his arms and the family backed away from the four bounty hunters until they hit the doors to their upscale apartment.
Cad smirked and drew his twin pistols, Bossk aimed his sniper rifle at them again, and the two robots inched closer with their hands sparking with live electricity. "I tried to be nice," Cad said, aiming a pistol at each head, "but now you've incurred the wrath of the Jedi."
"What is a Jedi?" the father asked.
Bossk let out a shrill, piercing noise that sounded like a million nails were being dragged down a chalkboard at the same time, he was laughing. "What is a Jedi?" he coughed. "You won't live long enough to find out."
Dooku gave the order before Cad could. "Fire."
Cad repeated his employer. "Fire."
The mother held out her hand and the blasts were absorbed, but her arm recoiled as if she still felt the impact from the shot. "It appears she is hurt," Todo said.
"Yes, I agree," Cad said, "wear her down- she can't take this for much longer."
"Get out of here with Franklin, Reed!" she shouted, wincing with every shot.
"I won't leave you, Susan!" Reed exclaimed.
Cad pulled out a metal orb from his jacket. "How cute- IG, kill them both."
IG-86 beeped affirmatively and rushed the field, ready to pierce the mother and gut her like a fish. The doors behind them broke with an astounding smash and a brown, stony hand squeezed around IG's arm.
"What the hell is that thing?" Bossk shouted, seeing mountainous, nine foot tall humanoid monster made of rock and wearing blue stretchy pants with a silver "4" on each thigh. Next to him was a well built, blond human of average height, fair skin, and the same scowl and blue eyes as Susan.
"It doesn't matter, turn him into cement!" Todo cried in horror, zapping the rock man will all his little might. The lasers from the other three bounty hunters scorched his skin, but it seemed to make him more upset than hurt. The thing charged at them with a battle cry that unsettled them more than anything they had faced before.
"It's Clobberin' Time!" the beast man exclaimed, tearing the assassin bot's arm clean off and kicking it across the room. He swatted Cad aside and punched clean through IG's chest, just tapping the wall with a flint knuckle. Bossk hissed like a snake and lunged forward, getting tossed aside like a gecko facing a tyrannosaurus rex.
Susan stepped forward and winced in pain, dropping to one knee. "Honey, don't touch mommy there, it hurts a lot."
"They hurt mommy!" Franklin bawled, hugging the other man's leg and burying his head into his knee.
"Don't worry, kid," the blond man said, helping Susan stay on her feet while the rock man and the elastic man tore up the living room with the two bounty hunters and Todo. "Uncle Johnny's got you."
Cad realized, with the husband's arm coiling around his throat like a snake and his pistol hand bound by the same arm, that he would have to leave with or without the child if he wanted any chance of returning alive. His wife had cast some sort of field around him rendering any pistols against him useless, but Cad had been in stickier situations. He quickly reached into his pocket, dropping the metal rod as he did and pulled out a green, sloshing orb of liquid suspension. He whipped it at Susan and kicked Reed in the chest as hard as he could. Reed gasped and whipped Cad into the wall, diving back to catch the orb. He held it in his hand and stared into it just before it burst, filling his nose with a noxious gas. Reed's eyes rolled to the back of his head and he fell forward, unconscious.
"Well it's about time!" Todo said, just before one clap from the rock monster crushed his abdomen and dropped him like a broken game console.
"Damn it!" Cad whipped several black pellets onto the ground, filling the room with thick black smoke that dropped every human in the room writhing as they fought to breathe. The stone beast waved around wildly in the smoke while Bossk and Cad unhooked the gas masks from their belts and put them on victoriously. "I was going to leave you here to rot, but in hindsight," he said, easily swiping the kid again, "this could have been done a lot easier."
Bossk debated biting Cad's head off. "Dooku never warned us of this," he said, running after Cad and leaping out the window with the screaming child, "with the way that- that monstrosity tore through that assassin droid, I thought we were done for." Their boots spat out a steady jet stream and off they went, higher into the sky from a building that looked like it had just been bombed.
Cad looked back at the building one more time, seeing the blond man free falling from the building. "We're not out of the woods yet," he said.
"Flame On!" the uncle exclaimed, his blue, spandex suit marked by the silver "4" catching a bright orange flame that consumed him from head to toe. He straightened out like a rocket and burst into the air. "I won't let you get away!" he shouted, chasing them through the busy, bustling city where many paused for a moment to watch the spectacle above them.
"Gas transportation, still?" Bossk said, firing back at the flame. "How bizarre!"
Cad was also surprised by the lack of air traffic, but there were things stranger than that in the city alone. "An Invisible Woman, a Human Torch, a Thing, all banded together by some Mister Fantastic, and you're mystified over fossil fuels?"
"The air is so bad here!" Bossk said, continuing to fire at the flying flame.
"Sometimes if you weren't such a good shot…"
"What is that?!" Bossk exclaimed, turning his attention to a humanoid in a blue and red jumpsuit with large, insectoid eyes and a black emblem of a spider on its chest swinging from building to building on what looked like thick, webby expulsions from its wrists.
"It does not matter, kill it, kill it now!" Cad shouted, the duo unleashing a rain of laser fire on it. Bossk shouted in surprise as a web hit his gun and he was yanked thirty feet into a fist that knocked him out cold.
"Wow, and we were always told in school that you guys were green! Major upgrade!" the spider man taunted, attaching a web to Cad's boot and whipping himself toward the bounty hunter.
Cad's anger boiled and bubbled at the dinosaur in a yellow suit's body laying out cold on the top of a building. "Useless!" he shouted, firing everything he had at the swinging spandex man.
The spider man flipped over him. "He goes for the steal, Mister Potter's got a bright future in Quidditch if he can make this play," he said, snatching Franklin from Cad's arms and swinging away before Cad could catch him. "And it's good! Ten points to Gryffindor!"
"Hey!" Cad shouted, whipping around and gasping to duck a fireball that just barely singed his cloak.
"I've got you now!" the Human Torch shouted, firing a stream of flame at the bounty hunter.
Cad scoffed and reached into his cloak, pulling out a bag of gray salt that he whipped right into the fiery man's chest then fired at it. He screamed in pain as the bag burst, gray salt coating his body and turning the flame purple. Johnny dived toward the large river to the north of them, leaving Cad homefree. Cad chuckled and sailed away, higher than the webs grabbing for his ankle could reach. "Boba, is the ship ready for takeoff?"
"Yes, and you might want to hurry, I think more of those weirdos might try chasing us out if we're not quick enough," Boba said.
"You're not getting away from me!" the spider man shouted. Cad turned around, grimacing again as the childless webslinger jetted down the street after him. "Don't you have a performance with the rest of the Blue Man Group tonight?"
"Trust me, I know," Cad said, flying and firing at the agile man who dodged as if he could sense every shot he fired. The spider man ran off the side of the building and dodged multiple floating grenades that didn't even faze him.
"If I wasn't trying to pound you into the dirt, I'd find that really cool!" he taunted, just barely missing a webline that would have attached itself to his boot.
"I'm not taking any passengers!" Cad said, throwing a orange metal pod and firing it right as his pursuer prepared to dodge. The spider man went silent, coming out in a coat of orange ice as he slid onto the top of a building. "Have fun thawing."
He continued sailing through the sky until he landed on a building tucked in the outskirts of the city. A cloaked spacecraft waited for him, materializing as a large, white ship with wide, flat wings with propulsion technology more advanced than anything found on the planet. The body was shaped like a trapezoidal pyramid with a wide, dropping door on one side like a cargo hatch. "It's about time," Boba taunted in Cad's buzzing earpiece.
"Just open the damn cockpit and let's get out of here," Cad spat, hopping into the empty, cold, metal back of the ship as the hatch closed. He rushed to the front of the ship, whipping open the cockpit and sliding into the copilot's chair next to his teenage pilot. He was short but muscular, with bouncy brown hair and brown eyes.
"Didn't you bring a kid with you?" he said with a smirk. "Dooku isn't going to be happy with this."
Cad wanted to blow the pilot's brains out, but then he'd have to bring the ship and a body back. "Boba, did I tell you to whine?"
"Yeah, yeah," Boba said dismissively, punching the main thruster. "I'm just thinking about the last time you screwed up a mission for the Count- he's not generally a forgiving person."
Cad's eyes narrowed, staring at the magnificent, open galaxy in the shining, starry void as the seeds of misdirection he planted among their objective's parents started to grow in his mind. "We've stumbled upon something far greater than kidnapping, Boba."
The hologram communicator in the center of the dashboard of their ship turned on by itself, displaying an old, offputting man with glowing eyes wearing extravagant, black robes and a hood sitting in a grand chair at a desk. His glare combined with his deep scowl chilled Boba to the bone. "And you let it fall right out of your hands, bounty hunter. I warned Dooku of trusting you."
Boba turned to Cad, for once seeing him lose his cool as he perspired waterfalls through his duster. "We now know what we are up against, my lord, and with Bossk and the others on the inside, upon our return we can-"
"There will not be a next time, Bane," Cad's superior scolded, "it is now between us and the Jedi- you are no longer associated with our organization."
"When will you have another opportunity to send someone of my talent to do your bidding?" Cad asked, trying to retain his job, or his pride.
His ultimate employer was quiet for a moment, looking at something past Bane. "Is it time?"
"Yes, my lord," Dooku's voice said from the distance.
He settled his gaze back on Cad, staring into his soul. "The Sith control more than you believe," he said, "stay out of our way, or suffer the consequences." The transmission ended and Cad stumbled back into his chair, visibly shaking with spite. The cockpit dropped in temperature considerably ever since the conversation began, but they felt smothered, as if they were going to be crushed.
Boba broke the tense silence carefully, watching for Cad's hand tracing his pistol in his duster holster. "I'm all for putting down as many Jedi as we can, but believe me, we don't want to get in the way of a Sith Lord if he's working with the Separatists, at least not for a few weeks."
Cad looked up at the map charting their course in the bottom right corner of the windshield. "Oh, we're coming back for the child," he said, a grin spreading across his face, "once the Jedi get involved, the entire galaxy will know about it," He turned to Boba, who was following on the same page, "and I know some people who would kill for a foot in this race."
WILL DOOKU RECTIFY BANE FOR HIS FAILINGS? WHAT OF BOSSK AND THE BOUNTY HUNTERS LEFT BEHIND? WHO WERE THESE STRANGE HUMANS? WHO ARE THE JEDI? WHAT FORCE WILL THIS FAILURE ATTRACT TO EARTH? WHAT WEAPON IS FRANKLIN CONCEALING? WHO ARE BANE'S CONTACTS? OTHER THOUGHTS/COMMENTS? REVIEW!
HEY GUYS, AS YOU CAN SEE, A FEW THINGS WILL BE CHANGED FOR THE STORY SUCH AS:
-EARTH BEING ON THE BORDER OF THE OUTER RIM
-THE JEDI WILL USE THE FORCE A BIT MORE THAN SEEN IN THE SERIES, GENERALLY THE MASTERS WILL HAVE A BETTER COMMAND OVER THE FORCE WITH FEATS NOT SEEN IN THE SERIES
-VIBRANIUM AND ADAMANTIUM WILL BE ABLE TO BLOCK LIGHTSABER BLADES BUT LIKE ANY SET OF METAL DOORS IN THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE, THE METAL WILL GIVE EVENTUALLY
-THROUGH THE FORCE, JEDI/SITH WILL BE ABLE TO BLOCK BULLETS BUT NOT DEFLECT THEM (LIKE, HANDGUN/SEMIAUTOMATIC ROUNDS, NOT SPRAY-N-PRAY OR GATLING WEAPONS) WITH THEIR LIGHTSABERS; IT WILL BE HARDER FOR THEM TO BLOCK THAN THE LASER BEAMS SEEN IN THE SERIES
-FINALLY, I KNOW WE ONLY SAW ONE AVENGER; THIS FIC WILL FEATURE MAINLY THE MOVIE/TV CAST OF MARVEL HEROES (FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, GOTG, DEFENDERS, X-MEN, ETC), WITH APPEARANCES FROM OTHER HEROES WHO HAVEN'T APPEARED YET FROM TIME TO TIME.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON CHAPTER ONE?