Okay, sorry for taking so long! Star Wars took over my life. xD Thank you for all the lovely reviews, by the way! That's the most I've ever gotten on a first installment of a fic, and it's BLoSC! You'd think I'd get that kind of response in Star Wars! =D
In this chapter, you find out why I've decided to switch the rating to M. I'm not taking any chances, folks, sorry. It's going up.
To my reviewers, in-general:
I enjoyed inserting Woody, and you'll definitely see more of him here and there in the future. The description of Buzz's universe… ohhh, I worded that very carefully to make sure that I was getting it all exactly right. It was great writing that.
To my reviewers, specifically:
Historian1912: *laughs* It's okay—I know I'm crazy. Hey, what can I say? My muse is extremely insistent. If I don't obey her every whim, she drives me up the wall. =D And, aww, hope you can still post something someday. You've got some great ideas!
Well, since you asked for a Mira Introspection, I actually have one in the works, now! In my head, not on my laptop yet, but hey, at least it exists now, you know? Thank you for the praise for the other two! (The Warp story has to be retconned, now, but that's beside the point. xD)
Thank you for everything, and I hope your electronics do okay!
jlasnoopy2: Thank you, and thanks for the fave! Zurg calling Buzz was fun—weird and fun. Don't you worry—you'll be getting more of Zurg for sure! Buzz and Mira… mmm, probably are a little closer by now, since I figure this story to be taking place three or four years since the formation of Team Lightyear. It seems like it would be a natural progression from their chemistry in the show. However, I would hazard that Buzz would still be reacting this way, even in-series itself—it just strikes me as being that IC. *shrugs* And Parik Trelme… well, that creep's the reason this fic is going into the M zone. You'll definitely find out about him in this chapter
"She's already gone?" Zurg explodes. "Oh, that just burns my toast! The one time I decide to help out the good guys, no strings attached, somebody else beats me to it and—"
Buzz feels like somebody just took a plasma cannon to him and punched a hole through his abdomen. He can't breathe, and he can't seem to order his respiratory system to do its job. It doesn't help that the world's spinning around him at a terrifying rate, either. He slumps against the console, distantly hearing Woody's and the Rhizomian's concern and unable to respond to it. He hears Zurg ranting from his communicator and forces himself to focus on it…
And then, suddenly, the world isn't spinning anymore, he can breathe again, and he can snap, "Shut up!"
Zurg stops, blinks at Buzz, and some part of his mind registers that this is the first time he's ever said that to Zurg… and the rest of his mind doesn't really care. The only thing that matters right now is Mira.
"Unless you have any more pertinent information," Buzz tells Zurg coolly, "I suggest you be quiet." That tone – that frosty, measured, slightly disdainful tone—Zurg actually has heard before from Buzz Lightyear. Because, while Captain Lightyear has never used it with Zurg before, he knows—just knows—from the look on Zurg's face that Supreme Commander Lightyear has.
…And the thought of acting like his evil alternate self isn't as appalling as it normally would be.
Buzz turns away from his glove to scan the huge circular room for any sign of his commanding officer. "Commander?" he calls. In his peripheral vision, he sees XR reactivating and Booster looking up from the console he's been studying. Booster and XR. This will break their hearts.
A clinical, detached part of him whispers that they'll still be living. After all, his own heart has just broken…
…Commander Nebula isn't responding. Buzz quickly pulls up a split-screen on his communicator and comms his CO. "Commander, Lightyear here. We've got an emergency."
0815 hours CCT, .75 hours since Mira's kidnapping
"****," the Commander mutters, staring at the floor. "It… oh, just ****."
Buzz is standing rigidly at attention, silent now after his debriefing. But his mind echoes his CO's sentiment.
Commander Nebula turns to a vidscreen on the wall, displaying a thoroughly unhappy Captain Woody Hanks. "Captain Hanks, have your people told King Nova yet?"
Woody grimaces. "Yes, sir—right as I was talking with Captain Lightyear. The King is… very angry, sir."
Of course, he is. Under normal circumstances, Mira being kidnapped would be enough to make the King of Tangea furious. Add to that who has kidnapped her, and there's no telling just what limits King Nova's fury will reach—or if there will even be any limits at all.
The Commander frowns, says simply, "I'm sure." A heartbeat, and then he starts barking out a long series of orders via comm and vidscreen, both to the city police and to his own Rangers.
Buzz just stands there, listening, forcing himself not to run off to 42 and tear the heavens apart until he finds Mira…
A small, tinny cough comes from the open doorway, and Buzz turns to find Booster and XR there.
"Buzz?" Booster ventures tentatively.
The Commander is still giving orders, right now to Woody, but he gives Buzz a nod of permission. Buzz nods back and steps over to his teammates, his heart dropping to his stomach. They don't know yet, and he's about to tell them something that's bound to change their lives forever.
"Mira's been kidnapped," he says quietly and without preamble.
Shock freezes the younger Rangers for all of two seconds, and their never-say-die attitude instantly flares to life. "Well, what are we waiting for?" XR demands, scowling.
"Yeah!" Booster chimes.
"Let's find her," XR continues, not missing a beat, "and give whatever creep decided to—"
"Wait." The pair freezes again, this time at the solemn authority in Buzz's voice—they need only one hand to count how many times they've heard that tone. "Mira…" He finds he can't look at them, so his gaze shifts to his boots. "It's not Zurg or any of the usual, if that's what you're thinking."
Booster frowns. "Well, then… who is it?"
"Do you…" Buzz hesitates. Booster pretty much knows Buzz's entire life-story, but would the Jo-Adian actually know about the perpetrator of such a… mature… crime?
Time to find out. "Have you ever heard of Parik Trelme?"
Booster's frown deepens thoughtfully. "Parik Trelme… uhhh… one of the guys you arrested… you pushed for the death pena…" Looking up, Buzz can see full memory and realization hit Booster at once, and the younger man's eyes widens. "Buzz, you don't mean –"
"Don't mean what?" XR demands, tapping a tread impatiently. "Who's Parik Trelme? What's going on here?"
Buzz darts a quick glance up at Booster, grimaces, turns his attention to XR. "Trelme isn't a smuggler or a thief or anything like that," he explains. "His brand of evil is in a league different from what we typically have to deal with." There is just no way of breaking this softly, is there? "Trelme is… Trelme is a rapist, XR.
XR stares at Buzz for a few long moments, then barks a nervous laugh. "Hah, you really had me going there for a second, Buzz. Heh-heh-heh… I mean, the very idea that Mira would be kidnapped by a… by a…"
"A rapist, XR," Buzz emphasizes, frowning. He should have known. "XR, I know—it's hard—"
"HARD?" XR screeches. "HARD, NOTHING! BUZZ, SHE, WHAT THE… WHAT'S GOING ON, *******?"
Buzz squeezes his eyes shut, grimacing again. He's going to have a headache for the next forty-eight hours, thanks to that shriek—he just knows it. "XR, I put Trelme away. He's trying to get back at me through Mira." The bottom of his stomach drops out again, and he's not sure whether to faint or be sick or launch into a helpless tirade.
But he won't. He won't do any of those things, because he'll get Mira back and they'll all be fine.
1342 hours CCT, 6.25 hours since Mira's kidnapping
The crime scene—Buzz's stomach churns at the thought of Mira's apartment being called that—is still under inspection when an unwelcome but not unexpected figure arrives.
Buzz turns at the authoritative voice and forces himself to salute. "King Nova, sir."
The King is dressed in astonishingly practical clothes—a navy-blue jacket over a black jumpsuit. The two black-clad Tangeans flanking him are obviously Secret Service men, or whatever passes for it on Tangea. Buzz makes a mental note to check into that as soon as he can.
As unsurprising as the King's appearance is the raw but controlled fury blazing in his blue eyes. "Captain Lightyear, have you discovered anything of my daughter's whereabouts?"
"We're tracking down a lead on a stolen car sighted when the kidnapping took place, sir," Buzz tells him. "That should turn up some clues."
The tiniest flicker of relief flits over the King's face. "Good. My men and I offer you whatever help you may need for the duration of the investigation."
Buzz blinks, taken aback. "Sir, I—"
But King Nova is obviously not going to take no for an answer. He stomps up to Buzz and sticks his nose in the Ranger's face. "Listen, Lightyear," he snarls, "that is my daughter out there. My daughter, who's been kidnapped by a serial rapist who's ruined countless lives! And if you think that you're going to make me go home, I—"
But Buzz is no longer nose-to-nose with the King, backpedaling and throwing up his hands. "Sir, I'm sure the Commander will appreciate your help."
The King looks only slightly mollified. "Good. Now. What should we do first?"
Buzz's only response was to open his blue eyes very, very wide.
1730 hours ZTT, 8 hours since Mira's kidnapping
The roar nearly shakes the throne room and sends the Grubs and brainpods scattering. The irony is that, for once, it's not the Evil Emperor who's bellowing.
Red eyes narrowed, Zurg looks up from a clipboard just in time to see his right-hand man storm into the room. "Good evening, Darkmatter," he says coolly. "Whatever is—"
"Send them out," Darkmatter bites out, his face an absolute thundercloud. "Now."
Terrified, the minions turn to their master for orders. Zurg looks between them and the heaving Darkmatter for a few moments, then decides. "Go."
The little vermin need no further encouragement. Five seconds tops, and they're all gone. If only they could come to work as quickly as they leave it.
As the door shuts, Zurg returns his attention to his number-one agent. "Now. What was so crater-blasted galaxy-shattering that you had to come roaring in here?"
The cold, biting tone would normally make Darkmatter falter. Today, it doesn't faze him a bit, and that is not a good sign. Whatever's gotten Darkmatter riled up, it's big.
"Why didn't you tell me that Parik Trelme was loose?" Darkmatter growls.
Oh. "I beg your—"
"And why didn't you tell me he kidnapped the Princess? Why did I have to find out about it on the news?"
Zurg is taken aback at that. "The media got a hold of it already? Eesh, that's really gonna can Nova's peaches."
"Zurg!" Darkmatter shouts incredulously.
All right, enough of this. "WHAT?" Zurg thunders.
"Why didn't you kriffing tell me?"
"Why should you care?"
"Because I helped Lightyear put Trelme away!" Darkmatter blinks, as if surprised by his own vehemence. Zurg certainly is. Darkmatter tends to be a pretty mild, dispassionate man.
Darkmatter shakes his head and says, much more calmly, "I helped Lightyear put Trelme away. I can help him again." The instinctive disapproval must be visible on Zurg's face, because Darkmatter continues, "No, wait." He takes a deep breath. "Look… we both know that Trelme's a really evil man. At least we have standards—this guy, he doesn't. He's already ruined more than a hundred female lives, and to be honest, I really don't want to see him ruin the Princess's. She kinda grows on you, y'know? and she really doesn't deserve to… to be raped."
He falters now. "And… and you've said, sometimes, how you really would hate to see anything really bad happen to Lightyear. How do you think it's going to affect him if Mira's raped or—" he took a shaky breath—"even killed?"
Zurg feels his heart drop somewhere to the vicinity of his rocket boots. Blast Darkmatter for being so right. Blast the Princess for getting herself into this in the first place. Blast Lightyear for being so important to Zurg. And blast that ***-****** rapist for starting this whole mess!
He folds his arms and glowers at Darkmatter. "So you want to help Lightyear, mm?"
Darkmatter makes eye contact and doesn't break it. "Yes."
Wow, the man's growing some serious backbone—that is not good. "Fine. Go." Eyes glowing brightly, Zurg approaches Darkmatter slowly, making the younger man backpedal instinctively. Good. "But let me tell you something, Darkmatter," he murmurs darkly. "You speak to me like that ever again, and I will come up with something very imaginative and highly inventive to make you scream up and down the scale. Is that clear?"
The half-blood's eyes fairly shine with fear, but his voice remains hard. "Yes."
Too much backbone. Not a good thing, at all.
"Get out," Zurg hisses.
Darkmatter bows and leaves hastily, leaving an Evil Emperor to brood and wonder just how, exactly, his universe could have turned upside down so rapidly.
Those are some serious repercussions. It was actually kind of refreshing, writing so much dark emotion without sacrificing the characters' personalities. (Although I do tend to write the characters as being more mature and realistic than they are in the show...)
Btw, in case anybody here is still reading the under-rewrites For Good I: Breakaway, the seventh chapter (site chapter 8) is now re-uploaded!