No, there are no Sleestaks in this. There are, however, transparent stand-ins.
CHASE DANNER, renegade starfighter pilot on the run from Monarch, along with his android major domo, PLEX, crashed on the prehistoric planet, Brata 326. After tussling with one of the local dinosaur-like beasts, the duo found themselves at sword and spear-point, prisoners of lizard men...
His guts boiling with rage, Chase Danner yielded to logic. He and Plex were outnumbered by the reptilians. There was little choice but to submit to captivity...for the time being. Shackled, Chase and Plex sat on the backs of saurian steeds, being taken to who knows where.
"Got me riding bitch..." Chase grumbled, squirming behind what appeared to be the leader of the reptile men.
"You fly spaceships?" the leader growled and hissed.
"Ten years now," Chase said.
"Trindando have no need of spaceships," he said.
"Trindando?" Chase asked,
"Us," the leader said with a wave to his companions. "My people."
"Trindando," Plex said from the back of his bipedal lizard. "And we now know the planet is actually called Zaslone. A most educational day."
They continued through the marshy jungle. The oppressive heat caused sweat to roll down Chase's forehead and a general sense of fatigue came over him. Plex and the Trindando were fine of course. In time the green veil of plant life parted and the mountain range became visible again.
And a city.
The buildings, a cluster of tall spires behind a massive wall, looked to have sprouted directly from the rocky soil. Part fortress, part metropolis, and all dotted with the same green, paradisical foliage of Zaslone, Chase knew not what awaited them there, but he dreaded it. The Trindando riding point raised his wrist to his mouth and spoke into a device.
"Excursion unit approaching," the Trindando said. "Open the gate."
As soon as they neared the wall the gate slid open. Chase and Plex's captors rode through the opening and into the fortified city. As they did, Chase caught sight of Trindando monitoring the group's arrival with computer-like devices and viewscreens.
"You have technology," Chase said to his captor. "Yet you use swords and spears?"
The leader shrugged.
"It's our way," he said.
Chase and Plex were brought into a building and then through hallways that more resembled catacombs. They at last came to a stateroom with a couch, a chest, and a long table with chairs. They were unshackled and given water and fresh fruit. Chase sampled a gourd-like orb, jumping back in shock at the gush of red fluid when he bit into it.
"What is this?" Chase asked.
"Bloodfruit," a Trindando said.
No matter, Chase relished the cool refreshment after the hot and humid slog through the tropics. Then the Trindando stood to sudden attention as another of their own entered the room. This one stood regal with purple robes fastened to his right shoulder by a gawdy gold sigil. The others made soft, supplicating hisses at his arrival.
"I am R'kaxath," the Trindando said. "Lord of the Trindando."
"I am Chase Danner. This is my friend, Plex."
The ruler prowled a bit, studying the two visitors to his realm.
"How did you come to Zaslone, Chase Danner?" he asked.
"A man named Monarch," Chase sneered. "I could no longer stomach the rule of a tyrant thug who victimizes the poor and the disabled."
"I like him already," R'kaxath said.
All the others laughed the growly, hissy laugh Chase heard back in the jungle.
"I'm not terribly fond of him," Plex. "And neither is he of my kind."
"Yes," R'kaxath said as he keenly studied Plex. "Yes. You are not flesh, are you?"
R'kaxath attempted to shove his bulk into Plex's space but Plex neither budged nor shook with any intimidation.
"I am an Art," Plex said. "An artificial being."
"And my friend," Chase said, getting face to face with the Trindando lord.
"Oh yes and I am Chase's. I do rather owe him much," Plex said.
The bulky lizard man hissed and flicked his forked tongue at Chase before walking away.
"We detest the outer galaxy," he said. "But you are both unique and handing you over to this 'monarch' may be profitable. Store them for now with our other guest."
Once more, Chase and Plex found themselves herded down honeycombs of corridors until they were brought to a metal door. At the push of a button the door slid open and the Trindando shoved their prisoners inside.
It was a circular cell made of stone and steel.
It also housed the most beautiful green-skinned woman Chase had ever seen.
TO BE CONTINUED..
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