Star Trek is owned by Viacom, probably to their extreme money making pleasure. Star Traks is owned by Alan Decker, probably to a wanting bank account. Flash Gordon is owned by MCA/Universal Studios, probably much to their dismay. The rest is owned by Don Rae, this story being a work of artistic parody. That's what I'll be claiming in court, anyway.

Author: Don Rae
Copyright: 2002

Star Traks - Secondprize: The New Adventures

“He’ll Save Every One Of Us?”

By Don Rae



“You will never escape me this time, Flash Gordon,” chuckled Emperor Ming The Merciless, rubbing his hands with glee. “Even now, my mighty armada is closing in on you. They will blow up your atoma-rocket once and for all, and then no one will be able to stop me from taking over planet Earth! Muah ha ha ha ha!”

“We’ll see about that, Ming!” said Commander Travis Dillon as he fought with the switches and dials, steering the atoma- rocket through the explosions of fire surrounding them.

The explosions looked a little odd, considering that everything in sight was colored in shades of black, white, and grey - completely in the style of an early twentieth century television program.

“Dale, it’s time to activate ultra power to the rocket engine!”

“Yes Flash. Right away Flash,” said Lieutenant Patricia Hawkins, very unenthusiastically.

“Come on Patricia,” urged Dillon.

“All right, all right already. Ultra power on,” said Hawkins in a bored voice as she pushed a lever forward to the position marked ‘ULTRA POWER’.

The atoma-rocket fired a long flame as it roared to life, gaining a tremendous burst of speed. Ming’s pursuing fleet soon became dwindling specks in the distance.

“Curses! Foiled again!” roared Ming over the viewscreen.

“Better luck next time, Ming. In the meantime, I will make good use of your plans for the atomic cannon. It’s really too bad your scientists didn’t have time to make another copy of them before they all died in that unfortunate explosion at your palace. Oh yes, please send my regards to the innocent people of planet Mongo. One day, I swear, they shall be set free from your tyranny.”

“Bah! One day, Flash Gordon, I will have you at my mercy,” growled Ming.

“Take care of yourself, Ming. Nyah nyah!” Dillon stuck out his tongue as he switched the viewscreen off.

“Dillon, I highly doubt that Flash Gordon ever said ‘nyah nyah’ to anyone,” said Hawkins.

“Maybe he should have. It seemed appropriate for the circumstances.”

“Are we done here?” asked Hawkins.

“We escaped the evil Ming’s clutches, it’s a happy ending, so I guess so,” answered Dillon.

“Good. Computer, end program and exit!”

The interior of the rocket disappeared. Dillon and Hawkins were surrounded by the yellow gridlines of an empty holodeck chamber. The holodeck doors opened.

“Patricia, you don’t seem all that enthusiastic about the whole experience. I thought it was a great story this time around.”

“I’m sorry Travis. I just can’t help it. Dale Arden is a complete bimbo, and you know how much I hate playing that kind of personality. She doesn’t ever get to do anything much, except scream for help when the going gets tough. Why does she always have to be the one who needs rescuing all the time?”

“I didn’t know it bothered you that much, honestly,” protested Dillon.

“Oh, let’s just forget it,” said Hawkins.

“No, I’m not going to do that. Patricia, the next time Flash Gordon comes to the rescue, I promise you, Dale Arden is going to be the heroine who goes out and saves the galaxy, while Flash Gordon stands right behind the woman of his dreams. Is this okay with you?” asked Dillon, gazing hopefully into Hawkins eyes.

Hawkins smiled at him.

“You’re hopeless. All right, you’re on,” said Hawkins, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

Flash Gordon just saved the day again, thought Dillon.

They walked through the open exit of holodeck one, arm in arm.


Ensign Terry Walker hummed to himself at the engineering main console, finishing up a third level diagnostic on the warp containment field. Something tapped his shoulder.

“AAAAAH!” he leaped out of his seat, dropping his padd directly on Commander Scott Baird’s foot.

“OUCH! F*** me!” yelled Baird, jumping around in circles.

“Oh, I am so sorry sir! Here, I’ll just get that padd off the floor,” he began to reach downward. There was a CLUNK noise as the two men butted foreheads.

“OW,” they both yelled in unison.

“F***!” added Baird, rubbing his head.

“Sorry again sir, uh…maybe I’ll just let you pick that up,” Walker said. He stepped backwards, catching his foot inside his pant leg, losing his balance.

“WHOA!” he yelled as he tripped forward. CLUNK went their foreheads again.

“F***! Son of a b****!” yelled Baird in pain.

“Oh my head,” moaned Walker.

“Stop. Don’t f***ing move. Just stay - right - there,” said Baird as he bent forward slowly to pick up the padd, watching Walker very carefully, just in case. He picked up the padd from the floor, and handed it back to Walker.

“Thank you sir,” said Walker, sheepishly.

“Terry,” said Baird.

“Yes sir?”

“When the f*** were you going to get around to fixing holodeck two? That f***ing thing has been broken for over a month now!” exclaimed Baird.

“I’m sorry, sir. I know was supposed to do it a few weeks ago, but that was when that Q character showed up. Since then, I haven’t been able to fit it into my duty schedule. But, I’ll get on it right away, if you like.”

“I like. It was you who screwed it up to begin with. I really don’t want to touch it, since I don’t know what the f*** you did to it, so I’m expecting you to fix that damned thing before the end of the week. The Captain says we’re going to need all of our holodecks available for some kind of f***ing diplomatic mission or whatever sometime during the next week. Whatever it takes, get it working, and I want you to make sure you get it right this time…got it?” said Baird.

“Yes sir. I’ll go deal with it right now, sir.”

“You do that.”

Walker grabbed a diagnostic kit, and headed for the turbolift.


Captain Alex Rydell ransacked his quarters, pulling over cushions, looking under the bed, searching pockets of unlaundered uniforms on the floor. He couldn’t find his commbadge anywhere.

Rydell lost it a few weeks ago, sometime during that encounter with Q. He hadn’t noticed it was missing until shortly afterward, but it wasn’t like he REALLY missed it or anything, so he hadn’t searched too hard for it afterward. Because it “conveniently stayed lost”, it was a great excuse to stay out of touch with certain things, and certain people.

The last few weeks were incredibly peaceful without it, especially since Dillon couldn’t call him every hour, on the hour, just to report that yes, they were still on course.

All good things must come to an end, unfortunately. The Klingon diplomatic mission was coming up next week, and regulations stated he had to be in full dress uniform for it. That meant he needed the commbadge, but that was according to Dillon, of course. Personally, Rydell figured Dillon was getting wise to him.

And now that he actually needed to find the damned thing, it really was nowhere to be found.

‘Beeoop,’ went the door chime.

“Come in,” said Rydell, opening up the souvenir weapons display case to have a look inside.

The door opened, and Lieutenant Commander Jaroch was standing there, holding a padd in his hand.

“I’m very sorry Captain, were you busy?” asked Jaroch.

“Sort of. I can’t find my commbadge,” said Rydell, closing the display case.

“That’s been your excuse all along, although I think I can sympathize with your reasons for that.”

“Thanks. But honestly, I really can’t find it. It really is lost.”

“Would you like some help?” asked Jaroch.

“I don’t see how,” answered Rydell.

Jaroch touched his commbadge.

“Computer, locate Captain Rydell.”

“Captain Rydell is in holodeck two,” answered the computer.

“Right. The computer tracks us by our commbadges. Hmmm…now I think I understand how Dillon feels all the time.”

“I doubt it, sir. Commander Dillon never knows when he’s had a mental lapse, since it’s a permanent state of affair with him.”

“Now now, be nice,” Rydell grinned.

“Is that an order?” asked Jaroch in all innocence.

“Feel free to interpret it any way that’s acceptable to you. So, you wanted to see me?” asked Rydell.

“I just wanted to go over some of the holodeck preparations for the upcoming diplomatic conference, if you don’t mind. Some of these Klingon customs are rather eccentric, and I just wanted to make sure we got things right in advance, if such a thing is possible around here.”

“Well, since it looks like I’m going down to the holodeck anyway, you might as well join me. I know a trick or two about programming an appropriate setting for a tough room like that. I’ve been to a few Klingon parties and managed to survive the experience, so I think I can give you some advice that won’t help you get killed.”

“I appreciate that, sir,” said Jaroch.

“After you,” said Rydell, gesturing with an open hand at the door.


Walker walked up to the command panel of holodeck two. He saw a hand written sign tacked above the control panel, which read:

‘Danger - do not use this holodeck until further notice. This holodeck does not shut down until programs are finished, and a certain someone has completely wrecked the safety interlocks on it AGAIN. We won’t mention any names, will we…right, Mr. Walker?’

Someone else had written underneath:

‘Attention Janitorial Services - please do not store any more empty boxes in the holodeck.’

Still another note was written underneath that one:

‘Walker, you moron, when are you going to get this holodeck fixed? It sure would be nice to actually use this thing for something other than a racquetball court!’

Completely embarrassed, Walker took the sign down. He touched the control panel.

“Please specify holodeck program,” said the computer.

“Computer, override holodeck interface control, and give me access to the holodeck command system, authorization Walker, access code gamma gamma oxen free,” said Walker.

“Holodeck command system active.”

“Show me the command pathways and run a level five diagnostic on them.”

“Working. Safety interlock system is currently disengaged due to unidentified errors. Program override system is currently disengaged due to unidentified errors. Control systems register commands not recognized by this holodeck.”

Walker opened an access panel, brought out the diagnostic padd, and began attaching its leads to the command path junctions. He tapped on the padd, examining the status of the relays.

“Hmmm. I wonder why there’s so much feedback in the control systems? It looks like it’s receiving commands from some of the other holodecks on the ship. That shouldn’t be happening at all - those systems are supposed to be completely isolated. Computer, show me the last program run by this holodeck.”

“The last program activated in holodeck one was Dillon-63, Flash Gordon science fiction series.”

“Computer, you are in error. This is holodeck two’s control panel. Run my last instruction again.”

“The last program activated in holodeck one was Dillon-63, Flash Gordon science fiction series.”

“Something’s definitely wrong here. I guess I must’ve screwed up the command pathways on that last upgrade. F***ing cheap software. I guess I’d better check to see how far the damage goes. Select that program, computer.”

“Working. Program selection incomplete, please select subprogram.”

“Wonderful. It looks like all of these subprograms are in black and white…now how the hell am I supposed to determine if the color systems are working properly at all? Oh wait, here’s one entry in color. Computer, select subprogram 63-1980 and load it in active memory,” said Walker.

“Program loaded.”

“Good, now let’s just take a look at these readings,” said Walker to himself as he examined the diagnostic padd. He tapped the keys thoughtfully as he scrolled through the system and program subroutines.

“By the way Captain, just between you and me, how long has your commbadge really been missing?” asked Jaroch as he and Rydell approached Walker in the hallway.

“I think I must’ve lost it when I took out the big bad wolf a few weeks ago,” admitted Rydell.

“If I were to ask about this, would it be something I might regret knowing?”

“Probably,” grinned Rydell, mischievously.

“Then I won’t.”

“Ah, Mr. Walker. I’m glad to see you’re finally working on the holodeck. How’s it coming along?” asked Rydell.

“Actually sir, I just started on it,” answered Walker.

“Think it’ll be ready in time for the Klingon conference?”

“I hope so, sir.”

“Fine and dandy then. Keep up the good…well, keep up the work, ensign. Do you mind if we go inside for a second? I just have to find my commbadge, it’s somewhere in there,” said Rydell.

“Go ahead, sir. Computer, open the doors,” said Walker.

The holodeck doors opened, revealing the dark grid-lined room inside.

“Thanks. So anyway, Jaroch, as I was saying…the Klingons have a very interesting way of bonding with other respected warriors at diplomatic functions. It involves getting a really big keg of blood wine, some willing women, and…” Rydell said as they went inside.

“Baird to Walker,” said Walker’s commbadge.

“Walker here.”

“Have you got that f***ing holodeck running yet?”

“I am just running a diagnostic on it right now sir,” answered Walker.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“I’m still running a few tests, but it looks like I won’t know for sure until I activate the loaded program,” answered Walker.

“Program activated,” said the computer. The holodeck doors closed.

“Huh? What? Wait! I didn’t mean to order that! Computer, shut down the holodeck!”

“Program override system is currently disengaged due to unidentified errors,” answered the computer.

“Walker, what the f*** is going on up there?” demanded Baird.

“Uh, well sir…I think I just might need a hand up here,” gulped Walker.


“If that’s what it’s really like at their formal functions, I would think the conference is likely to be…intriguing to say the least,” said Jaroch with a raised eyebrow.

“Trust me, the Klingons sure know how to have a good time. Ah! Here it is,” said Rydell, reaching down to pick up his commbadge. He attached it to his uniform. “When we get near Kronos, remind me to…”

“Program activated,” said the computer as the holodeck doors closed.

Rydell and Jaroch found themselves dressed in brightly colored green and purple robes, at the entrance of what looked like an enormous palace. The sky had six moons that shone brightly against the reddish tinge of the atmosphere, even though it was dawn on the horizon.

“What the hell?” said Rydell. “Computer, end program and exit.”

There was no response. A light breeze flapped through his robe.

“Jaroch to Ensign Walker,” said Jaroch, tapping his commbadge, which was now attached to the very elaborate looking garment that hung from his body.

There was no response.

“It appears we don’t have holodeck control or communications at the moment,” said Jaroch.

“It appears you’ve grown a set of very large feathered wings, Jaroch,” answered Rydell.

Jaroch looked around his shoulders. Sure enough, he had wings that closely resembled those that would normally belong to a terran hawk, these of which were attached just below his shoulder blades.

“Most disconcerting,” he said, reaching to touch the feathers with his outstretched fingers.

“They sure look natural,” said Rydell.

The doors to the palace opened. A toady-looking little man dressed in green and pink robes stood at the entrance, smiling in a very unfriendly looking way.

“Prince Barin. Prince Vultan. How good of you to come to Emperor Ming’s Tribute and Beg-For-Mercy charity reception. Of course, the charity being the same as always - a generous donation and selfless offering to the most exalted Emperor Ming’s royal coffers. This year promises to be a most entertaining blood fest to those who have honored their pledge to meet Ming’s demands over the last year, such as yourselves of course. The Emperor will be most pleased by your ‘loyal’ presences,” said the toady man with a certain amount of disdain, eyeing them both warily.

“This doesn’t sound too good,” whispered Rydell.

“I believe the holodeck safeties are still off, since Mr. Walker was just starting to conduct his repairs,” whispered Jaroch right back.

“Oh that’s just great,” said Rydell.

“Your Highnesses, if you will follow me please. The reception will begin in a few hours, and I’m sure you’ll want to choose seats that will keep your finery from being splashed by the gore.”

“Uh, yes of course,” answered Rydell.

Cautiously, Rydell and Jaroch stepped inside the palace doors, which closed behind them.


“Klytus, I’m bored. What plaything can you offer me today?” asked Emperor Ming the Merciless, Absolute Ruler of the Universe.

“An obscure body in the S-K system, your Majesty. The inhabitants refer to it as the planet Earth.”

“How peaceful it looks,” commented Ming.

Ming’s finger reached out to touch a button on the console.

They watched the viewscreen as earthquakes and floods wreaked havoc on the small blue planet. Ming and Klytus laughed with delight.

“Most effective, your Majesty. Will you destroy this, uh, ‘Earth?’” asked Klytus.

“Later! I like to play with things a while. Before annihilation…” said Ming, grinning evilly.


“What the f*** happened?” asked Baird as he walked up to the doors of holodeck two.

“The Captain and Lieutenant Commander Jaroch went inside, the holodeck program activated, and now I think they’re stuck in there. The holodeck won’t let me cancel the program, and the holodeck safeties are still off, so they could be in real danger in there.”

“S***!” Baird tapped his commbadge. “Baird to transporter room one.”

“Vaughn here.”

“Can you get a f***ing lock on anyone inside of holodeck two?” asked Baird.

“Are you kidding? With all of that transporter activity in there? You know as well as I do that the holodecks run off of transporter signals and raw energy!” answered Vaughn.

“Well excuse the f*** out of me. I just thought you were the f***ing expert on getting people out of tight situations with that damned thing.”

“Tight pants, maybe. But even I can’t accomplish the impossible.”

“Thanks a f***ing lot for the help,” said Baird.

“Up yours too, Commander,” answered Vaughn, miffed. The signal cut out.

Baird turned to Walker.

“We can’t cut the f***ing power to it either. If we try to cut off holodeck transporter sequences without a controlled shutdown, it could cause raw matter to materialize inside of them, killing them instantly. F***!”

“I don’t know what to suggest, sir.”

“Whose f***ing program is this thing running?”

“One of Commander Dillon’s, sir.”

“Get him down here, while I take a look at the program controls.”


Dillon and Hawkins strolled down the corridor, arm in arm.

“Ensign Walker to Commander Dillon,” said his commbadge.

“Dillon here,” answered Dillon.

“We need you at holodeck two right away. It’s an emergency, I think. The Captain and Lieutenant Commander Jaroch are trapped inside the holodeck. It’s running one of your Flash Gordon programs at the moment, and there’s no way to shut it down,” said Walker.

“What?”

“The safety interlocks aren’t functioning, sir. We’re going to need your advice on the program, if we’re going to get them out of there.”

“Tell him to get his f***ing a** in gear,” said Baird’s voice in the background.

“On my way,” said Dillon.

“Can’t we ever have a normal date for once?” complained Hawkins as they ran to the turbolift.


“Look at this thing. It’s receiving phantom system commands from other holodecks. How the hell did it get so f***ed up?” said Baird.

“I think it happened on the last upgrade, sir.”

“Someone should tell those f***ing Binars to actually test their software patches before sending them across the f***ing galaxy. There’s just no way we’re going to be able to fix the holes in the operating system, unless we can shut the whole f***ing thing down.”

Dillon and Hawkins ran up to them.

“Status report,” said Dillon.

“Nothing’s f***ing changed. They’re stuck in there until that program finishes, and that’s that. There’s nothing we can f***ing do about it,” said Baird.

“Which subprogram did you run?” asked Dillon.

“Dillon 63-1980, Flash Gordon science fiction series,” answered Walker.

“Oh no,” said Dillon.

“What is it, Travis?” said Hawkins.

“That’s the one in color, isn’t it?” said Dillon, going pale.

“Yes,” said Walker.

“WHAT IS IT, TRAVIS?” demanded Hawkins.

“That program is a holodeck re-creation of a movie that was made in the early 1980’s, which was loosely based upon the Flash Gordon science fiction serials that we’ve been spending our time with lately. It was a horrible movie that achieved a certain amount of cult status in the late twentieth century. I was trying to salvage the best elements from it and turn it into a workable holodeck program. Some of the scenes weren’t too bad by themselves, and its soundtrack wasn’t all that bad either. I spent some time rewriting a good portion of the plot to allow for more contingencies and variants…but I never really finished the program. The only endings the computer will allow are the saving of planet Earth, or the death of Emperor Ming the Merciless himself.”

“What’s the big deal? How hard could that possibly be?” said Hawkins.

“In this program, Emperor Ming’s palace is a fortress on the planet Mongo, completely surrounded by a planetary defense system with limitless firepower. He is always protected by his servants, vassals, and slaves under penalty of painful death if they disobey, his hundreds of soldiers who are also under penalty of painful death if they don’t protect him with their very lives, and an airborne orb-shaped robot that kills people who so much as look at him the wrong way, just in case all of that fails to impress a potential assassin,” said Dillon.

“Oh that’s just f***ing fantastic,” said Baird.

“I thought so at the time, since Flash Gordon needed a real challenge,” said Dillon, sheepishly.

“This is your problem, Dillon. You created that f***ing program, so you’re going to have to go in there and get them the f*** out again,” growled Baird.

“Uh, I’m not so sure it should be me. With the Captain incapacitated from duty, the regulations state that I should be on the bridge and commanding the Secondprize, since I’m the first officer in charge right now,” said Dillon.

“Oh no you don’t! You’re not getting out of this one, because Baird’s absolutely right! You know that program better than anybody! And if we don’t hurry up and get in there, the Captain and Jaroch could end up in big trouble!” snapped Hawkins.

“But…but regulations state…” Dillon whined, and Hawkins lost it on him.

“SHUT UP, Travis! To HELL with regulations! I’m the chief security officer here, and if the Captain and its Second Officer are killed or worse while they’re onboard this ship, it’s MY a** that’s on the line! If something happens to them, then I promise you I’ll make damned sure I tell EVERYONE in Starfleet about who should be BLAMED for this MESS! Then, you can kiss your ambitions of becoming a captain GOODBYE, along with our relationship to BOOT! HAVE YOU GOT THAT, SIR!?” yelled Hawkins, completely p***** off.

“Loud and clear dear,” said Dillon meekly, holding his ringing ears.

“That’s better! Now let’s see if we can determine their status in there,” said Hawkins, turning away from him and looking at the control panel display. “Hmmm. It looks like they’ve automatically been assigned program character roles. Rydell is now Prince Barin, Lord of the Tree Men, and Jaroch is Prince Vultan, Lord of the Hawkmen. That would put them on Mongo, right?”

“Yes,” said Dillon, cautiously.

“At least they’re vassals of Ming’s, so as long as they don’t screw up right away, they might be fine for awhile, at least until we can find them. Computer, what character roles are left open at the moment?”

“The roles of Flash Gordon, Dale Arden, and Doctor Zarkov are open for character occupation,” answered the computer.

“Walker, you are going to be Doctor Zarkov,” said Hawkins.

“M-me? But I don’t know anything about this program at all!” exclaimed Walker.

“If you hadn’t bollixed this holodeck to begin with, they wouldn’t be in this mess. This is not an option, because that was an order, Ensign…unless Baird dares to disapprove of it for any reason,” said Hawkins, glaring defiantly at Baird.

“F***, not a chance of that,” said Baird, taking a step backward.

“Good! Because Dillon and I are going to need all the help we can get!” snapped Hawkins.

“I’ll be watching you on the monitor from here. I can’t promise that I’ll be able to help, since the code is so f***ed up. But if there’s anything that can be done, I’ll sure as f*** will try,” said Baird.

“You ready, Doctor Zarkov?” asked Hawkins.

“No,” said Walker.

Baird kicked him.

“Yes,” said Walker, rubbing his shin.

“You ready Flash?” asked Hawkins.

“I guess I’ll have to be,” said Dillon, feeling nervous.

“And it looks like I’m Dale again. Computer, you heard the character assignments, so let us in there.”

The holodeck doors opened, and they stepped inside the interior of a rocket ship.


Rydell and Jaroch were led to the main reception hall. Inside the enormous chamber, a large assortment and variety of oddly shaped humanoids were gathering around, talking to each other in low whispers. The vast majority of the gathered crowd was dressed in finery that signified status and royalty in all kinds of gaudy colors, but Rydell noticed that some of them were locked in chains and “protected” by guards. All around the room, a series of very mean looking soldiers watched everyone at full alert. Servants and slaves wandered around the room, bringing food and drink to the nobility.

“Thanks,” said Rydell as he picked up a foaming drink from a serving tray.

“It will be a few hours before the main reception begins, your Highnesses. You may help yourself to Ming’s generosity, so long as you remember that you will pay extra in tribute for it over the next year,” reminded the toady little man. He walked away.

“Captain, I think we should be extremely careful what we say and do while we’re here. This program appears to be quite…volatile looking,” said Jaroch, his wings furling slightly.

“I think we’re in agreement there. But until we’re able to figure out what’s really going on around here, we might as well have lunch. That looks like a mighty fine looking buffet over there. And, look! There’s no lineup at all! Come on, let’s go!” exclaimed Rydell.

Not knowing what else to do, Jaroch shrugged, his feathers shaking with the motion.

They wandered over to the buffet.


The rocket’s interior was a colorful display of flashing lights, wheels, levers, and buttons. Dillon, Hawkins, and Walker could see rain splashing on the cockpit window. Lightning crashed through the sky, lighting the cabin interior brightly from time to time.

“This sort of looks familiar, based upon the other programs we’ve participated in. What’s supposed to be happening right now, Travis?” asked Hawkins as she climbed up into the cockpit, strapping herself into a seat.

“We’re on Earth right now. Ming has started to hurl meteors at our planet, which is causing tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes, all of which is gradually destroying the Earth’s atmosphere. We’ve just been hijacked by Doctor Zarkov, who just wants someone else to accompany him while attempting to deal with the menace that threatens our world.”

“I take it that’s my chair up front then. So what are we supposed to do now?” asked Walker, as he strapped himself in the pilot’s seat.

“We have to launch the rocket, which is aimed at a planet that Doctor Zarkov has determined to be the source of the meteor gun beam, this being the planet Mongo,” said Dillon.

“You mean I should press this button marked ‘launch’ right there?” asked Walker, pressing it. The rocket engines fired to life, sending Dillon flying across the cabin.

“Whuff!” Dillon said as he landed, completely flattened face down on the floor.

“Arrrgh!” said Hawkins as the G forces pressed her hard into her seat.

“Woooah!” yelled Walker.

“Oooof!” Dillon said as his nose ground deeper into the deck plate.

“Arrrrrgh!”

“Wooooah!”

The rocket hurtled towards the heavens, and roared out of the Earth’s atmosphere. Suddenly they were completely weightless.

“You could’ve waited before doing that,” snapped Dillon as he rubbed his nose, floating around the cabin.

“Everyone needs to remember that the holodeck safeties are off. We are subject to being knocked around, hurt, or even killed! We have to be more careful from now on!” exclaimed Hawkins.

“We’re going to hit the space warp any moment now. Everybody get ready. This is going to be an uncomfortable trip, since it involves a lot of spinning and hurtling around in a rotating fashion,” said Dillon.

The rocket plunged into the space warp, and the lights outside the cabin window swirled in circles as the rocket spun around and around and around and around and around and around…

“Oh boy,” said Walker, looking a bit green in the face.

“What’s wrong?” asked Dillon.

“I think I’m going to be space sick,” said Walker.

“Oh no,” said Hawkins as she tried to cover her face in time.

(The writer apologizes for deleting the next part of the scene from the story. It was a bit too graphic for inclusion, since it may have caused the reader severe nausea and nightmares for weeks to come. For all those who might disagree, I’m very sure you can easily use your imagination as to what happens right now).

“Oh my god! Someone open a window!” yelled Hawkins.

“We can’t! We’re in space right now!” exclaimed Dillon.

“Oh no…I think I’m going to be sick myself,” said Hawkins.

(The writer apologizes once again for deleting this scene from the story. Needless to say, the interior condition of the cabin suddenly becomes a lot worse).

“Yikes!” Dillon said as he tried to dodge everything that came at him. He didn’t succeed at all. Not in the slightest.

“I can’t believe I just did that,” moaned Walker.

“Neither can I,” echoed Hawkins.

“Ugh…thank the Great Bird we’ve finally emerged from the space warp,” dripped Dillon, grimacing in severe disgust. “Ick,” he winced, stripping off his wet, sticky shirt.

(The writer decides to go to another scene while the characters attempt to gather and clean up some of the floating “debris” around them, while trying to clean themselves off in the zero-g washbasin).


“Unknown rocket approaching,” said the space traffic monitor in a neutral tone.

“Trace its point of origin,” ordered General Kala, in a very shrill sounding voice.

“It came from the planet Earth sir,” said the monitor.

“Ah…it appears we have guests. Perhaps they are here to plead their miserable, hopeless case to our beloved mighty Emperor, who is so mercifully destroying their pitiful little planet right now. Dispatch War Rocket Ajax to intercept them, and please inform Klytus that we will have additional prisoners…I mean…‘guests’ for the reception. Tell them not to fire unless they really need to, since I’m very sure the Emperor will enjoy their company this evening,” commanded General Kala.

“With pleasure sir,” answered the monitor.


“Have you tried some of this blue stuff? Whatever it is, it tastes like peppered chicken,” munched Rydell.

“Captain, I truly admire your ability to stay calm, given that we’re completely trapped in here in a possibly hazardous situation with the holodeck safeties off,” answered Jaroch.

“No sense worrying until you’ve really got something to worry about. I’m very sure that Walker or someone else is working on a way to get us out of here, so we might as well enjoy the party in the meantime. Why don’t you try some of this? This one tastes a lot like steamed wild duck. You really don’t know what you’re missing here.”

“No thanks sir. I think I might try and figure out how I’m supposed to use these wings. It might prove to be beneficial, just in case something important happens,” said Jaroch, giving a wing an experimental flap.

“Sure, go ahead and do whatever you feel best,” said Rydell, biting hungrily into a green colored piece of meat.


“Wonderful. We come all the way to Mongo, just so we can get captured as soon as we get there,” said Hawkins, glowering at the guards who marched them along at gunpoint. The faint trace odor of their little cabin episode still lingered among them, and many of the guards were holding their noses in repulsion.

“Well, this was actually supposed to happen in this story plotline, Patricia. We’re to plead our case for Earth in front of Ming in his reception hall,” answered Dillon.

“And seeing the mighty Flash Gordon, he’ll just shoot you on sight.”

“No, I don’t think so. Ming doesn’t even know who my character is in this particular program, not yet. The only trouble is, this is where my knowledge of the plot ends, since this is where it begins to divert from the old movie plotline. Some elements of the simulation might turn out to be the same, but not necessarily. I programmed it that way, along with a few other minor modifications to some of the events and characters - so from here, there’s no way to know for sure what’s going to happen next once we get to the reception chamber.”

“Great. I guess we’ll have to play it by ear, then.”

“The good news is, we are likely to see the Captain and Jaroch at the reception, since their characters are supposed to be there.”

“I just hope those guards aren’t trigger happy,” said Walker, staring at the guns nervously.

“Don’t provoke them, and nothing will happen,” said Dillon.

“SILENCE prisoners! That is enough! You seem to talk as much you smell like rotting garbage! Don’t you worry, you will get your chance to plead your case before Ming once all the other petitions have been settled. In the meantime, you will shut up so long as we have to endure your stink! You are to be hosed off, and then you will be presented to the Emperor! Now MOVE!” shouted the Captain of the Guard, kicking Dillon squarely in the rear end.

“OW!” yelled Dillon.

“SILENCE!” shouted the Captain, kicking him much harder in the a** this time around.

Dillon whimpered.

“Much better,” said the Captain, holding his nose and leading them onward.


“I have to hand it to Dillon this time. This is great f***ing entertainment,” said Baird as he watched the scene on the holodeck monitor, eating from a bag of replicated buttered popcorn.


“Attention! I demand attention!”

Rydell and Jaroch looked up from the buffet to see someone standing on the stairs to the throne at the far end of the hall, addressing the gathered crowd.

“Servants and slaves of his most unforgiving majesty, Emperor Ming - I bid you all welcome to the festivities. I hope you’ve taken the time to sample the remains of our most tasteful prisoners and criminals, those of which were featured at the buffet this evening. I demand that all of you give the chef a big round of applause.”

Clap clap clap, everyone politely applauded without too much enthusiasm.

Rydell spat out a mouthful of green colored meat. Looking around the room cautiously, Jaroch clapped his hands with the others.

“I suppose that would explain why no one else was eating,” Rydell muttered.

“And why you received so many disdainful looks from the others,” Jaroch whispered.

“And now, kneel before our benefactor and leader, the man who keeps hostages and political prisoners from all of your kingdoms to help ensure your loyalty, the man who is capable of destroying all of you and your peoples without a moment’s regret! Bow most humbly to our mighty Emperor, Ming the Merciless!”

An eerie music filled the chamber, and everyone in the room got down to their knees, and bowed to the throne while on the floor. Rydell and Jaroch looked around them, then did the same.

Ming the Merciless stepped out into the chamber, surrounded by his most trusted servants and guards, and a large metal orb that floated in the air directly above and behind him. He marched to the throne in silence, save for the music. He climbed the stairs and sat down on the throne, the orb floating over his left shoulder. The music stopped.

“You may stand, everyone,” Ming said quietly.

Everyone including Rydell and Jaroch stood up again, maintaining perfect silence.

“Welcome, one and all of you, to my annual Tribute and Beg-For-Mercy reception. I would like to say that most of you have properly contributed to the maintenance of my well-being over the past year, but of course, there are always exceptions. For all of you in this audience who have been so loyal to me over the past year, I shall fully expect you to be entertained by the results of my judgments for the evening. What say all of you to this?”

“HAIL MING!” shouted the crowd, even though there was the look of obvious fear on all their faces. Rydell and Jaroch exchanged glances, both wondering if now would be a good time to slip out of here. Looking around at the guards stationed around the room, this was a very unlikely prospect at the moment.

“Good, very good,” chuckled Ming in amusement. “Shall we bring forth our first guest for the evening, Klytus?”

“Our first guest is Petrex, Prince of Pretoria. Petrex is charged with high treason, his crime: failing completely to contribute to the Emperor’s coffers for the past year.”

The guards pushed Petrex to the floor in front of Ming.

“What say you to the charges, Petrex?” asked Ming.

“Your most high and exalted majesty! Our lands have been swept by plagues, pestilences, and drought! We have suffered our very worst year in thousands of years! It is not our fault! I beg you, have mercy upon me, and upon a kingdom that has served you so loyally for all of these millennia!”

“That is not an excuse. Kill him,” said Ming, simply.

A green ray shot out from the orb, and the man began to dissolve very slowly.

“AAAAAAARRRRGHHH!” screamed the man as he vaporized eventually into nothingness.

“Make a note, Klytus. Pretoria is to be cleansed of its people, and replaced with more loyal citizens of the Empire,” said Ming as Klytus scribbled it into his notebook.

“HAIL MING!” shouted the crowd, applauding madly in their obvious fear. It sure didn’t look like they had much of a choice.

“Oh and Klytus, as long as you’re at it, make a note to send this garment to the dry cleaners. I’m afraid it looks like I have some blood on this one again,” remarked Ming.

“I think we need to watch our step here,” whispered Rydell.

“I wonder which idiot designed this program?” asked Jaroch, who was beginning to suspect the answer already.


Dripping wet and p***** off from the hosing they just received, Hawkins watched the gruesome scene through the cracks between the guards. She turned to Dillon.

“Travis, this is a completely barbaric and brutal program. How could you be so stupid as to design something like this?” whispered Hawkins.

“Like I said, I was still working on it. I never got a chance to iron out the rough spots,” answered Dillon, regretting it already. He fanned his arms, trying to evaporate the dampness from his shirt.

“That’s small comfort right now,” whispered Walker, as he squeezed a pant leg to wring some more water out.

“Don’t worry, I’ll think of something,” said Dillon.

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” whispered Hawkins.

“Patricia…”

“SILENCE!” whispered the Captain loudly, booting Dillon in the a** again.

Dillon whimpered some more.


“This is getting better all the f***ing time,” munched Baird, reaching for another handful of popcorn.


“Enjoying the show, my dearest?” asked the devastatingly beautiful woman who walked up to Rydell. She was dressed in the best of imperial finery, wearing all kinds of jewelry. Emblazoned on her chest, Ming’s imperial emblem was conspicuously cut from the area between her breasts - which was something Rydell couldn’t help but notice. Honestly.

“Uh, yes…dear?” inquired Rydell, wondering if he got it right.

“Oh, you don’t have to lie to me. I know you hate such displays of power, but I hope you will endure them for my sake. If you promise to be a good boy for now and behave, I promise I will reward you most…intimately. Until later, Prince Barin,” she purred playfully, tracing a finger down Rydell’s chest, then grabbed him on the butt in a very rough and forceful manner. She slapped his rear end very hard, and winked at him as she walked away, heading for the general direction of the throne.

“Indeed. No matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing, you always get the women,” complained Jaroch jealously as he ruffled his feathers.

“I just wish I knew who she was,” wondered Rydell.

“Are you joking?” said the orange skinned man beside him. “That’s Princess Aura, daughter of Ming himself! Did you take a forget pill this morning? If you did, you’d better get it over it quick, if you value you life! If Ming ever gets the idea you’ve displeased her in any possible way, your death will be most exotic, excruciating, and painful too!” exclaimed the orange man in obvious concern.

“This is just what I needed right now,” muttered Rydell.

“I take it back Captain. You are most welcome to her and her attentions,” said Jaroch.

“Thanks a lot.”


“Next we have Prince Jortun of Jelassia, your highness. He is suspected of stirring unrest and disloyalty among your most devoted and loyal subjects,” said Klytus.

“Are you indeed?” asked Ming, smiling with amusement.

“My lord, the accusation is completely without base or reason. I am most loyal to your magnificence, my Emperor,” answered Jortun.

“Is that so? Tell me, Jortun. Just how loyal are you to your Emperor?” asked Ming.

“Without measure!” Jortun stood proudly at attention.

“I see. Well, I have a way to test such admirable devotion. You may kill yourself, now,” said Ming.

“My lord?” asked Jortun, looking totally bewildered.

“You heard me. If you are truly loyal to your Emperor, then obey his command. Kill yourself,” grinned Ming.

Jortun looked shocked and forlorn as he drew the ceremonial dagger from the sheath on his belt. He looked down at the dagger, then back to Ming again.

Ming nodded.

Jortun turned toward the audience. He held the dagger close to his heart. His hands trembled as he breathed rapidly.

“DEATH TO MING!” he shouted as he spun around, bringing the dagger up into a stabbing motion and plunging it toward Ming’s chest.

A green ray shot from the orb, and Jortun dissolved into nothingness.

“Oh I say, that is always my favorite part of the show! I was truly hoping for that sort of exciting moment! I could just watch that sort of thing again and again. Don’t you agree?” Ming asked the audience.

“HAIL MING!”

“Let’s see an instant replay of that in slow motion,” said Ming, eagerly.

The orb projected the scene again in a 3D hologram in the air over everyone’s heads.

“Notice the shock of dismay as he realizes he has no other choices left. Watch as he makes his decision, you can see the moment…ah yes, there it is! See how his motions betray his intentions? Oh what a fool. Now watch carefully as his knife comes down towards me. Clumsy! My grandmother could stab me better than that…of course, she’s safely in the grave and I’m still here.”

The audience politely applauded at that remark, since they had to.

“Thank you. Now watch in super slow motion as every molecule in his body breaks apart in the most painful way possible…see the agony in his face! Oh that was truly wonderful!” exclaimed Ming in delight.

“That was a magnificent recount of the entire play, your Majesty. Don’t you agree everyone?” asked Klytus.

“HAIL MING!”

“Next, we have a very special treat for your majesty. It seems we have some visitors from the planet called Earth,” said Klytus.

“Dirt?” asked Ming.

“Earth, your Majesty,” said Klytus.

“Splendid. That would be the little blue world I’m destroying at the moment? Or was that yesterday? It’s always so hard to remember with all of these planets blowing up and blasting away into space all the time.”

The guards shoved Dillon, Hawkins, and Walker up to the center of the hall.


Rydell and Jaroch spoke in whispers.

“They must have been trying to come to our rescue. The holodeck must really be in bad shape if they had to resort to that,” said Rydell.

“Indeed. They should have left Dillon behind, if they wanted to have a hope of succeeding,” said Jaroch.

“Swell. We were the ones who needed the rescuing, and now we’re the ones who are going to have to do all the rescue work ourselves,” said Rydell.

“Did you expect any less?”

“Not really,” sighed Rydell.

“What do you want to do, Captain?”

“Follow me. It appears I have some influence with the royal family around here, so I think it’s high time I made some use of it.”


“Pathetic Earthlings,” said Ming, addressing the three of them. “Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out there! If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would have hidden from it in terror!”

“This Ming’s a psycho,” whispered Dillon to Hawkins.

“This Ming is a psycho,” said the orb.

“Who said that?” demanded Klytus.

“The fair-haired prisoner,” answered the orb.

“Such rare defiance! How interesting! This bares further examination. Bring them closer,” said Ming, smiling.

“Way to go Travis,” said Hawkins.

The guards pushed them to the foot of the stairs.

“What are your names?” asked Ming, with obvious amusement.

Dillon stepped forward.

“Flash Gordon, Quarterback, New York Jets,” answered Dillon.

“What an exceedingly long and dull name. Do all earthlings have such dreary designations?” asked Ming.

“Uh, no your highness.”

“I should hope not, since we don’t have all evening here,” remarked Ming.

“Uh…I guess I’m Doctor Zarkov,” said Walker, stepping forward.

“Charmed. Perhaps we may have some need of a doctor in the next few minutes. And who is this very lovely and enchanting creature behind you?”

“Dale Arden,” answered Hawkins.

“Yowza,” remarked Ming in all honesty. Hawkins noticed something bulging from around the Emperor’s chest area.

“Dillon?” asked Hawkins.

“Uh…you really don’t want to know,” said Dillon.

“Would you care to sit on my lap?” asked Ming.

“I wouldn’t sit on your lap if it were the last one in the universe,” answered Hawkins, taking a step backward.

“That can be arranged, if you like. Come closer,” Ming said as he waved his arm casually towards her.

A twanging noise filled the air as the ring on his finger glowed a bright red color. Hawkins found herself being forced to walk up the stairs in Ming’s direction. She struggled against it, but her legs refused to obey her.

“NO! HELP!! ARGH, I said it AGAIN! Damn you, Travis! If we ever get out of this, I’m going to kill you for programming this kind of plotline! You know how I hate this kind of thing!” yelled Hawkins.

Dillon looked around him, anxiously. It was now or never.


“Anyone seen Princess Aura?” asked Rydell.

“I think she’s right over there,” pointed a lizard man.

“Captain, we’d better hurry. I think Commander Dillon is about to do something incredibly stupid again,” Jaroch said, shaking his head and wings at the same time.


Dillon figured it was the right time for Flash Gordon to come to the rescue.

“Forget it Ming! Dale’s with me!” he shouted.

At those words, very loud music began to fill the chamber, playing a high energy rock beat at full volume. Completely surprised, the guards looked up and around to see where all the noise was coming from.

Dillon tackled the nearest guard, sprawling him out on the floor. Walker chopped at the guard behind him, sending him sprawling. Hawkins leaped down from the stairs, kicking another guard in the head.

Ming looked around him in complete surprise.

“Where is that music coming from, Klytus?” asked Ming.

“I have no idea, your Majesty,” answered Klytus.

“It is kind of catchy, isn’t it?”

“If you say so, your Majesty.”

“Let’s watch the action for awhile. It looks well choreographed to the music,” smiled Ming as he leaned back on his throne.

The rock music picked up the tempo, completely energizing Dillon into further action.

“This way!” shouted Dillon.

Dillon, Walker, and Hawkins ran through the crowd, which parted for them in confusion and complete amazement. They ended up next to the buffet, where more guards surrounded them.

Looking around in panic, Dillon picked up a cream pie from the dessert stand, and threw it at one of the guards. The guard vanished from sight.

“That’s a very potent looking pie,” remarked Hawkins, picking up one. She threw it at a guard, who also vanished. Walker did the same thing, and all of them started to pick up pies, and throw them at the guards. One by one, the guards vanished.

“The chef is baking atomic pies at royal functions again,” said Klytus.

“Have him killed immediately,” said Ming, ducking as a pie flew over his head.

“Yes, your Majesty” said Klytus.


“F***ing great story! Good soundtrack too!” exclaimed Baird, who just ran out of popcorn. He was completely engrossed in the action on the screen, so much so that he didn’t bother to get any more at the moment.


“Aura dear, would you be willing to do me a little favor?” asked Rydell.

“What incentives might you offer me, my darling Prince Barin?” smiled Princess Aura in a sultry kind of fashion.

Rydell leaned over and whispered into her ear for a minute. She grinned in lewd amusement.

“Oh you devil! How delightful! Of course I will help! How I can’t wait to try on those ‘leather’ boots you mentioned. See you later, my little slavekins!” exclaimed Aura, clapping her hands as she bounded lightly over to where Ming was sitting.

“Is this something else I shouldn’t ask about?” remarked Jaroch.

“Definitely,” answered Rydell, grimly.


The rock music continued to play loudly.

“We’re running out of pies!” shouted Hawkins.

“I think we have a way out of here!” exclaimed Walker. “This way!”

Walker ran, closely followed by Hawkins and Dillon as they charged towards an open exit, with the guards in full pursuit. They threw the last of their pies at their pursuers.

“We’re almost there! WHOOPS!” yelled Walker as he slipped on some pie frosting, tumbling to the floor.

“Hey!” exclaimed Dillon and Hawkins as they tripped over him.

The guards quickly surrounded them, pointing their guns directly at their faces. The rock music suddenly stopped.

“Nice going, Walker,” said Hawkins as she savagely threw a punch at his ribs.

“Ouch!” said Walker, not feeling all too energetic anymore.

“Bring them here,” ordered Ming.

The guards picked them up, and pushed them back through the crowd to stand in front of Ming once again.

“Such admirable defiance,” said Ming. “Among my legions, you would show some promise. But since you are not, you must die. You Earthlings are somewhat dangerous, and need to be exterminated. That is, all except Miss Arden here,” said Ming, leering and looking up and down at Hawkins in obvious pleasure.

“What the hell do you want with me?” snapped Hawkins.

“Come now, don’t pretend you don’t have any idea! How I enjoy taming the wildest of animals. Such delight! I shall make you my own, but as for the two of you, Flash Gordon and Doctor Zarkov…the gas chambers,” grinned Ming, evilly.

“Father! Wait a second, I have a better idea!” said Princess Aura as she ran up to her father.

“What is it, my dear daughter?” asked Ming.

Princess Aura whispered in his ear for a minute. Ming looked thoughtful as he listened to what she had to say. The entire chamber was silent. Dillon looked around in sheer hopelessness, honestly not knowing what to expect next.

“Slight change of plans,” said Ming, smiling once again.


“That’s our cue. Let’s get out of here before anyone notices we’re leaving,” said Rydell.

“You think this is going to work?” asked Jaroch.

“It had better, or they’re dead,” said Rydell.


Ming signaled the guards with a waving hand motion.

They roughly pushed Dillon and Walker over to the open-air balcony of the main hall chambers. Hawkins looked fearful for the first time. The crowd murmured to itself in confusion.

“We shall see how you Earthlings handle the effects of gravity. I assure you, it can sometimes be a most unpleasant experience,” smiled Ming.

“A most excellent idea, your Majesty,” grinned Klytus.

“HAIL MING!” shouted the crowd.

“You can thank my daughter for that. She is most original and treacherous. A chip off the old block, indeed,” said Ming, smiling proudly at his daughter.

“HAIL AURA!”

Aura smiled back at Ming fondly as the guards shoved Walker over to the edge of the balcony.

“Any last words?” asked Ming.

“I would like to recite the complete works of William Shakespeare for all of you now,” said Walker.

“Thank you…goodbye!” said Ming.

The guards pushed him over the balcony.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!” yelled Walker as he plummeted straight down.

Two guards dragged Dillon up to the edge of the balcony. He shook the both of them off his arms, glaring at them.

“If I am going to die, then I’ll do it for myself - IF you don’t mind,” Dillon snapped, resigning himself to his fate. The guards stepped back from him.

“Such audacity in the face of peril! Considering this, I suppose I could offer you a lifetime of slavery and torment in the atomic mines, if you truly desire to save your miserable little existence,” said Ming. “Anyone who is as stubborn as yourself might even survive those kinds of extreme tortures for a little while perhaps. What do you say to that, Flash Gordon?”

Dillon looked down over the precipice, and then looked back up at Hawkins. He put on a brave Flash Gordon smile. Hawkins knew that look, and knew what he was going to do next. And she didn’t like it one bit.

“Please, don’t be stupid right now Travis!” Hawkins pleaded, while she tried to keep her voice from choking up.

Dillon stared at Ming in defiance.

“Flash Gordon will never surrender to the likes of you, Ming. I would rather die than submit,” he said.

“Brave words indeed hero,” said Ming. “Then jump!”

“Goodbye Patricia, I’m sorry,” he said to Hawkins, and jumped over the balcony.

The winds blew through the chambers.

“Truly amazing entertainment indeed!” exclaimed Ming. “I just can’t wait to see the replay a bit later on! Well, I suppose that’s it then. Back to the festivities everyone!”

“Oh you f***ing idiot,” Hawkins said, a tear falling down her face.


“Whumpf!” Dillon said as he landed in Jaroch’s arms.

“Hold on tight, or I just might drop you,” said Jaroch in complete honesty, as he flapped his wings toward the open window at the ground floor of the palace.

“I’m sure glad to see you,” said Dillon.

“The feeling is not mutual,” muttered Jaroch as they flew through the open window and into a small antechamber.

“You okay?” smiled Rydell.

“Yes sir. It looks like we’ve finally found you!” said Dillon, shaking a little unsteadily as he settled back onto his feet.

“Well it’s more like we found you first, Travis,” said Rydell.

“It was the Captain’s idea to have them chuck us over the balcony,” said Walker, still looking a little pale from the fall.

“Sir?” asked Dillon, warily.

“You’re still alive, aren’t you?” smiled Rydell.

“Until I saw Jaroch, I thought I was going to be dead,” said Dillon, the relief of which was finally beginning to settle in for him.

“Yeah, well - if Princess Aura manages to get her way, there’ll be a heavy price to pay for that,” muttered Rydell.

“What?”

“Don’t worry about it for now, Dillon.”

“Commander Dillon, if we are going to help Lieutenant Hawkins and get us all out of here, we need you to tell us everything you know about this holodeck program, since it’s obviously one of yours,” said Jaroch.

“How did you know?” asked Dillon.

“Let’s just say I had a feeling,” sighed Jaroch.


Ming whispered something to Klytus. Klytus turned and addressed the crowd.

“All of you are to remain in the palace until tomorrow evening as Ming’s honored guests. Emperor Ming is to be wed again upon the morrow!”

Someone in the crowd began to groan.

“What was that?” said Ming, glaring at the audience.

“HAIL MING!”

“That’s what I thought you said,” said Ming. “Prepare Miss Arden for the wedding tomorrow,” he said to Aura.

“Sure thing, Dad,” answered Aura.

Aura clapped her hands, and the guards grabbed Hawkins. She kicked and struggled while she was being carried away. Aura followed them out of the chamber.

“Murderer! Don’t count on any kind of honeymoon conquest, because I’ll kick your b**** in first!” Hawkins raged at Ming as they dragged her out the door.

“Oh this one will be a fun one indeed,” smiled Ming as he watched them leave.

“She has much spirit, your majesty,” admitted Klytus.

“She might even last the full duration afterward,” said Ming, dreamily. “Oh I sure hope that happens. It has been a long time since I’ve met anyone close to my match, in terms of strength of will. She’ll break down eventually, but I’m sure it will take a long, long time,” he said, rubbing his hands in anticipation.

Suddenly without warning, he jerked his head up at the crowd, hoping to catch them off guard.

“HAIL MING!” they shouted.

“It seems you’re still awake. This will not do. I bid you goodnight everyone, because tomorrow promises to be a cruel day!” said Ming, brightly. He clapped his hands, and the guards showed the people in the crowd to their rooms. At gunpoint, of course.


“That’s the summary of everything I know about the entire program. Or at least, what’s likely to happen in the next day or so according to its parameters, which is still mostly based on the original movie. I can’t say everything will happen exactly like that, since the computer will be making up random events as it goes along. But in theory, given the program’s original operating parameters, that sort of ending should probably work in here,” said Dillon.

“I especially enjoyed the part about Flash Gordon crashing a rocket ship into the wedding chamber, impaling Ming on its front end spike to end the story. I’ve never heard of anything so unlikely and absurd. Congratulations, Commander. You have completely outdone yourself this time with your own stupidity,” said Jaroch.

“I didn’t actually write it! It’s just supposed to be a fun bit of fiction, and I just adapted the story to the program!” protested Dillon.

“There’s no possible way that kind of plan would work in real life, even if we were completely insane enough to try it,” retorted Jaroch.

“Well, I don’t see why not. It’s my program, and I know the computer would accept the ending,” sulked Dillon.

“I don’t think so, Travis. It sounds too dangerous, and too many random things can happen in here with the holodeck safeties off. This is real life, right now, because of that. You said it yourself, there’s far too much randomness in the way the computer might interpret what’s happening within this program, causing any number of possibilities to happen. We could even end up hurting Lieutenant Hawkins in the process, and I don’t think you would want that, would you?” said Rydell, trying to be extra careful in gently breaking that bit of news to Dillon.

“I’m afraid I have to agree, Commander Dillon,” said Walker.

“You don’t have to ask my opinion again,” said Jaroch, ruffling his wings.

Dillon had no real good answer for any of this. He thought of Patricia’s current predicament, and started to worry about her. Ming wasn’t called ‘The Merciless’ for nothing.

“I guess you’re right,” admitted Dillon. “But what are we supposed to do? The Earth is going to be destroyed 24 hours from now, and Ming is going to force Patricia to marry him - and shortly after that, she is likely to become executed! If we try to rally a people’s revolt against Ming, it’s still going to take the combined efforts of two entire kingdoms to overcome Ming’s palace defenses!”

“We will never be able to overcome all the guards and soldiers on our own, there’s far too many of them. We need to get aboard a rocket and leave the palace. We should still go out and rally the Tree Men and the Hawkmen to fight for the cause against Ming, but with a slightly different intent and plan of action than that stupid ending Dillon described,” said Jaroch.

“We’ll need to find a rocket, then. War Rocket Ajax should be docked at the palace’s hangar. We’re on the ground floor, and we’re close by already - but it’s probably going to be very heavily guarded,” warned Dillon.

“You said that Baird is monitoring us right now?” asked Rydell.

“Yes sir. The display monitor will always follow Flash Gordon’s whereabouts at all times, with respect to this particular program. Since the monitor is always focused on Commander Dillon, Commander Baird should have complete access to our present status at the moment,” said Walker.

“We’ll need his help. I’m sure he can make some minor modifications to the program on the fly if he really needs to do it, no matter what kinds of problems are occurring within the holodeck right now. He’s the chief engineer, and he has the knowledge and qualifications to do it. I’d say he’d better scare up some laser guns appropriate to this program, post haste. That is, unless he’s goofing off right now. ARE - YOU - LISTENING - UP - THERE - BAIRD?” Rydell’s voice raised in a sing-song kind of way.

Four laser guns materialized on the floor in front of them, along with a note. Dillon picked it up, and read it out to the others.

“You had better be f***ing satisfied with that, because I won’t be able to do this again. The system and program code is so f***ed up, it will destabilize completely and kill you all if I attempt to f*** with it again. I’ll be gone for the next few minutes, so pardon the f*** out of me while I get myself another bag of popcorn,” Dillon read aloud.

“It’s good to know the Great Bird responds to demand,” muttered Rydell, handing out the weapons to everyone.


Hawkins was trying not to cry, but she wasn’t entirely succeeding. Tears escaped her eyes from time to time as she was carried forcibly through the palace corridors. She just couldn’t stop thinking of Dillon jumping off the balcony, and of his last words to her.

“You f***ing a**hole! Why did you have to do that?” she whispered.

The guards brought her into a very poshly decorated bedroom, and threw her on the bed. They exited the room, while Princess Aura stood at the doorway.

“I think I can answer your question, if you let me,” said Aura.

“What do you want?” asked Hawkins, wiping her tears away with her newly freed hands.

“Flash Gordon is still alive,” said Aura.

“WHAT?” said Hawkins, daring not to hope at all.

“Prince Barin and Prince Vultan have saved him. Flash would have known about this, since Vultan was flying directly underneath the balcony, waiting to catch him as he fell. He jumped to complete safety, I assure you,” said Aura.

“And he left me behind like this? I’ll kill him myself!” growled Hawkins.

“He didn’t really have much of a choice at the time, so you shouldn’t be so hard on him. Especially so, since he’s kind of good looking,” grinned Aura.

“With nothing between the ears, what good are his looks?” retorted Hawkins, still very angry.

“Come now, I’m sure Flash will be back to rescue you sometime soon,” smiled Aura. “In the meantime, I’m supposed to be helping you prepare for my father’s wedding, just in case he doesn’t make it back for you in time,” smiled Aura.

“He’d better. I’m still going to kill him for making me play this f***ing damsel in distress role again,” said Hawkins.

Then it dawned on her.

“Why are you letting me know about this? You’re Ming’s daughter, aren’t you? Why did you help them at all?” Hawkins asked.

“In return, Prince Barin has promised to fulfill my most wildest and exotic dreams. He is to indulge all of my dominant erotic fantasies, including some exquisite tortures that I’ve never heard of before! Oh, I cannot wait to wet my favorite whip for that one,” said Aura, sighing in anticipated pleasure.

“I’m definitely sorry I asked,” said Hawkins.


“Hey there pal.”

“What?”

ZAP!

“You over there! Yeah you! Help me out over here would you?”

“Halt! Who goes there? Hey, who the Xarf are you?”

ZAP!

“Well, we’ve made it this far,” said Rydell.

“It appears as though War Rocket Ajax is covered by a full troop complement of armed guards, Captain,” said Jaroch, peering around the corner.

“Everyone ready?”

“Affirmative.”

“Yes sir.”

“No. OW! I mean yes!” said Walker, rubbing his shin.

ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP ZAP!

“Looks like the coast is clear,” said Dillon, holding onto a smoking laser gun.

“Let’s go.”

ZAP ZAP ZAP!

“I thought you said the coast is clear!” growled Rydell, ducking to the floor.

“Sorry sir, I thought it was!”

“Please take care of that last one, will you Jaroch?”

“Yes sir.”

ZAP!

“Enemy vaporized,” said Jaroch.

“I’m just glad they’re holodeck characters. My conscience has enough problems to deal with as it is,” said Rydell.

“Let’s get on board,” said Walker.

“Agreed.”

CLUMP CLUMP CLUMP CLUMP.

“Whoops!”

“Halt! Who goes there? Hey, who the Xarf are you?”

ZAP!

ETC…

ETC…

ETC…

“We made it. Looks like we got them all. Welcome to the bridge of the good ship Ajax, everyone. I must say, I’ve never seen a cleaner, shinier and more sparkling ship in my life. I wonder which brand of cleanser they use in here? Okay Flash, it’s your program, so it’s up to you from here.”

“Yes sir.”


“War Rocket Ajax requesting immediate departure,” said the speaker.

The duty monitor pressed the communications button.

“What is your reason for departure, War Rocket Ajax?”

“Emperor Ming has requested us to pick up some flowers for the wedding tomorrow.”

“Dillon! Is that the best you can…”

“Shhh!”

The duty monitor pressed the button again.

“That seems highly unwarranted at this hour, War Rocket Ajax. Can’t you wait until tomorrow morning, and pick them up from the royal gardens instead?”

“He insisted on them being freshly picked from the forest lands on the other side of the planet. If you want, you can certainly argue the issue with the Emperor yourself, although I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes if you did. His Majesty mentioned something about torture, death, then even more torture to those who interfered with anyone performing their duties in preparation for the wedding celebration tomorrow.”

The duty monitor opted for the safer course of action.

“Clearance granted!”

He opened the hangar bay doors, and War Rocket Ajax blasted into the evening sky, heading directly for the Tree Man forest.


“Piece of cake. What did I tell you?” said Dillon, twiddling the dials and levers.

“I guess I should have known that a dumb program’s problem would require a very dumb idea for a solution,” recited Jaroch, flapping his wings.

Dillon turned his head and glared at Jaroch.

“What can we expect when we get there?” asked Rydell.

“The Tree Men are a lot like Robin Hood’s men, sir - mostly composed of exiles from the inner kingdom of Mongo. These people have lived in the dense forests of Mongo for thousands of years, and they are very distrustful of outsiders as a rule. The Tree Men are engaged in an ongoing war with the Hawkmen, which has been happening for thousands of years, so they don’t like them much at all as a consequence. The Tree Men will usually pay respect to those who display enormous bravery and strength of character. Flash Gordon is supposed to convince them to join up with the Hawkmen to lead a revolt against Ming. Your character, Prince Barin, is the ruling leader of these people, so you should have considerable influence among them,” said Dillon.

“Ensign Walker, how long before we get there?” asked Rydell.

“At present speed, about a half hour,” answered Walker.

“We’ve got until then to figure out what we’re going to do when we get there,” said Rydell.

“I have an idea,” said Dillon.

“I hope it’s a lot better than that last one,” said Jaroch, furling his wings together.


“They’ve got a huge f***ing task ahead of them. I wonder if they’ll manage to do it in time to save the Earth?” said Baird, enjoying every moment of the cliffhanger epic on the monitor.

“It looks like I’ve got some time before they get there. I sure could use a f***ing hot dog and a beer,” he said, as he got up to get it.


Hawkins stared out the window at the moonlit sky. It was very bright at night on Mongo, since there were a lot of moons up there.

She had already tried to find a route to escape, but there was none. The guards weren’t falling for the old ‘I’m sick and need help’ routine, preferring to stay outside the locked doors. They weren’t having any part of her at all. She had already thrown every piece of luggable furniture at the window, which steadfastly refused to break. The furniture itself was another matter entirely - several bits and remains of it were piled in a small heap underneath the window.

Princess Aura had assured her that this would be the case, but she had to try it anyway. Not that it helped her situation much.

“I might as well get some sleep. If I’m ever going to get out of this mess, I’d better be awake and sharp for tomorrow,” she yawned.

The door opened, and Ming entered the bedroom.

“Good evening, my dear,” he said, closing the door behind him.

“What do you want, Ming?” glowered Hawkins.

“Oh I think you know that already, Miss Arden. I was just a little curious to see how much you would be willing to give,” smirked Ming.

“You should already know the answer to that one as well,” said Hawkins.

“Very good, good indeed. I wouldn’t want it any other way, my dear. If you gave in too soon, there wouldn’t be any sort of challenge, would there?” said Ming, grinning evilly as he walked straight up to Hawkins.

“No, there wouldn’t,” Hawkins agreed, and kneed him ‘where it counts’.

“Thank you my dear,” Ming moaned in pain and obvious pleasure at the same time. “How I love that kind of foreplay. Get some rest, and keep yourself in that kind of shape, and we’ll have so much fun together tomorrow after the wedding,” gasped Ming as he staggered out the door.

The door closed and locked behind him.

“Just what is it with this family, anyway?” wondered Hawkins.


War Rocket Ajax was parked just outside the forest, Walker electing to stay behind, since his character’s presence wasn’t required in the forest anyway. Besides, it would give him an opportunity to learn how to use the controls for himself.

Rydell, Jaroch, and Dillon ventured deep into the forest.

“I still think this is a bad idea,” said Jaroch.

“Where are they?” asked Rydell.

“I’m not sure, sir. But I’m sure they’ll find us,” said Dillon.

“How correct you are, outsider,” said a voice from above.

Hundreds of men stepped from behind bushes, tree trunks, and came swinging down to the ground on vines, surrounding them completely. They were dressed in green tights, looking very much like a gang from ancient Sherwood Forest on Earth.

Rydell put on his best poker face, which he hoped was good enough for the purpose, since he always seemed to lose at the game.

“Hey everyone! How’s it going?”

“We fare well in your absence, Prince Barin,” answered Baromir, walking up to them. “We are wondering about you, however. Why have you brought these outsiders among us? Especially this piece of filth here!” he said, pointing a finger accusingly at Jaroch.

“Well, that’s what we came here to talk about. This is Prince Vultan, the leader of their people.”

“You’ve captured him! Oh how wonderful! Are we to torture him just before we kill him?” asked Baromir.

“Actually, we were kind of discussing the idea about forming some kind of peace and an alliance of sorts.”

“Peace! Bah! There can be no peace with the Hawkmen. He has bewitched you, my prince. Have you not forgotten all the years they’ve flown above our forests, taunting us mercilessly and pelting us with their s*** as they flew overhead?”

“There is a way to prove the honesty of their intentions,” said Dillon, stepping forward.

“And who might you be?” asked Baromir.

“I am Flash Gordon, of the planet Earth. I am leading a people’s revolt against Ming’s palace, and I want you and the Hawkmen to join forces in order to help me in the fight against them. I have encouraged Prince Barin and Prince Vultan to form an alliance for this purpose.”

“Ah I see. You have escaped from an insane asylum, and have sought Prince Barin’s help in finding a cure for your condition. I am sorry, mad one. There are no miracle cures growing in this forest,” said Baromir, shaking his head in pity.

“I am willing to take the test of bravery, as is Prince Vultan here, to prove our intentions. We both accept the challenge.”

“Indeed?” asked Baromir.

“Yes,” said Rydell. “Please lead us to the Tree Trunk of Honor.”

“With pleasure,” smiled Baromir.

The crowd of Tree Men escorted them to a clearing in the forest. In the very center of the clearing, stood the rotted remains of a very huge tree trunk. It had several holes throughout the base. They could clearly hear some kind of loud rustling noise coming from somewhere within it. The Tree Men surrounded the clearing, and Baromir turned to Dillon and Jaroch.

“You realize that now you’ve accepted the challenge, there can be no return? If you refuse it now, we will kill you,” said Baromir.

“I understand,” said Dillon.

“You had better be right about this Dillon, or I just might do the job myself,” mumbled Jaroch.

“Inside one of the holes in the trunk lies a creature that will most certainly devour your arm completely, if you were to stick it completely inside. You must keep your arm inside for five seconds, once you have made your choice. It is a test of bravery, to see if you are willing to back up your stated intentions with honor. If you do this, then we shall believe you are telling the truth, otherwise, you will die in dishonor,” said Baromir, simply.

“Understood,” said Jaroch.

“Fine,” said Dillon.

“Flash Gordon, you will be the first to be tested, since you appear to be the leader of this mad proposal of yours.”

Dillon walked around the edges of the tree trunk, listening to the hideous sounding noises inside. With a silent prayer to the Great Bird, he took a deep breath, and thrust his arm completely inside one of the holes. He held it inside for a few seconds.

Nothing happened.

Dillon pulled his arm out of trunk, clearly looking relieved.

“You appear to be telling the truth, outsider. I still think you to be completely and utterly mad, but that does not preclude your intentions. As for Prince Vultan’s intentions, we shall soon see. It is your turn. Choose!” said Baromir.

Jaroch walked around the edges of the trunk, being completely uncertain about all of this, his wings shaking a little from time to time. He chose a hole, and stuck his arm inside.

Something chomped down, sinking its teeth into his forearm!

“ARRRGH!” Jaroch yelled as his eyes began to glaze over.

“My my, I guess he was telling the truth after all. It’s a good thing he still has his wings, since he will be missing an arm from now on,” smiled Baromir, clearly enjoying the show of Prince Vultan in extreme pain.

“PUNY ANIMAL! I SHALL TEAR YOU APART FROM LIMB TO LIMB!” raged J’Ter, ancient warrior prince of Yyns.

With a bellow of anger, Jaroch/J’Ter began ripping apart the tree trunk with his free hand. Bits and pieces of rotted wood flew everywhere.

“AH, I HAVE YOU NOW FILTHY CREATURE!” bellowed Jaroch/J’Ter as he withdrew his arm.

Some kind of small furry creature was attached to his forearm by its very sharp teeth. Turning towards Dillon, Jaroch/J’Ter proceeded to bash its brains out again and again over Dillon’s head.

“DIE! DIE! DIE!” raged Jaroch/J’Ter.

“OW! OW! OW!” yelled Dillon as he tried in vain to escape the flailing barrage, being totally unsuccessful at it.

The furry thing died and released its toothy grasp on Jaroch/J’Ter’s arm, falling to the ground. Jaroch/J’Ter stomped on it with both feet until it was just a mashed pile of furry and bloody mush.

“DIE! DIE! DIE!” screamed Jaroch/J’Ter.

“Ohhhhhh,” moaned Dillon in pain, holding his head.

“Maybe it’s not such a good idea to p*** off these Hawkmen after all,” said Baromir, nervously. “Prince Barin, I believe it is in our best interest to form an alliance with the Hawkmen. You are most wise for believing so. With these people at our side, we might stand a chance against Ming after all.”

“I think I have to agree with you there,” said Rydell, watching Jaroch/J’Ter pound the creature’s guts into pemmican shaped pieces.


Walker thought he had the hang of War Rocket Ajax’s controls by now. He had taken it up into the air, hovered it above ground for awhile, then landed it again, just in time to see Rydell, Dillon, and Jaroch emerge from the forest. They were soon surrounded by thousands of Tree people, all of them dressed in green tights.

“Some people really have no sense of style at all,” remarked Walker as the entire group began loading themselves on board the gigantic war rocket.

“How did it go?” asked Walker as Rydell, Jaroch, and Dillon entered the cabin.

“Don’t ask,” muttered Jaroch, holding onto a bandaged forearm and glaring at Dillon.

“All right,” said Walker, thinking that was a wise idea.

“Dillon, what can we expect from the Hawkmen once we get to their mountains?” asked Rydell.

“Well sir, the Hawkmen are a fiercely independent lot, all of them being very strong willed and individualistic by nature. They all seem to have a rather sick sense of humor, and enjoy any kind of practical joke in which someone gets humiliated or very hurt in the process. Prince Vultan is the leader of these people, mainly because he can beat up everyone else.”

“Great. That’s just what I wanted to hear right now,” said Jaroch.

“I don’t think you’ll have any real problems with them, Jaroch. They should fear Prince Vultan enough to follow him in whatever he chooses to do on their behalf. Considering that, this particular group of people should be much easier to handle this time around.”

“I certainly hope so,” said Rydell. “Mr. Walker, have you figured out how to fly this thing yet?”

“Yes sir,” answered Walker.

“Set a course for the Hawkmen Mountain Range and engage,” said Rydell.

War Rocket Ajax blasted into the sky.


“BELCH!” said Baird, finishing his beer. “Can’t f***ing wait to see what happens next!”

Baird had fashioned himself a makeshift couch out of several chairs and cushions in the hallway, upon which he was stretched out, completely comfortable and relaxed. An assortment of empty popcorn bags and beer cans surrounded him on the floor.

An ensign walked past him in the hallway, looking at Baird kind of strangely.

“F*** you, haven’t you seen anyone watch a f***ing movie before?” said Baird to the ensign, throwing the empty beer can at him. The ensign hurried past Baird as quickly as possible.


War Rocket Ajax hovered near the top of the tallest mountain in the Hawkmen Mountain Range. All around the mighty war rocket, several small rocket cycles flew all around its exterior. Each cycle was rode by a very large and boisterous looking Hawkman, wings fluttering behind them as they raced by.

“Commander Dillon, I have a question for you, regarding this particular holodeck program,” said Walker.

“Yes?”

“I was wondering why the Hawkmen are flying around on rocket cycles, when they already have wings that do the job for them? Doesn’t that seem kind of stupid?”

Dillon pondered that one.

“That’s something I never really thought about before.”

“And this is supposed to be surprising to us?” said Jaroch.

“Like I said, I didn’t write the story,” sulked Dillon.

“You ready Jaroch?” asked Rydell.

“I suppose I am, as much as I’ll ever be in this realm of madness,” said Jaroch.

Rydell opened the exterior cargo bay door, and Jaroch flew outside.

“Well well well! If it isn’t the almighty Prince Vultan, gracing us with his presence today!” said Varnok the Hawkman, flying up next to Jaroch. “Did you grow weary of Ming’s little party, or did you come back just to give us a lesson in coward-like humility?”

The Hawkmen surrounding Varnok roared with laughter, flying around in circles around the pair.

“I’ve been spending some time among the Tree Men, and a man from Earth named Flash Gordon. They want us to join them in a revolt against Ming the Merciless, and end his reign of terror forever,” flapped Jaroch as he recited his lines, feeling very stupid about it.

“Sounds like you’ve grown weary of s***ing on them! What’s the matter? Lose your aim?”

Varnok and the others roared with more laughter.

“It is not your place to question me. We have a chance of taking Ming out for good, and I’ve decided to take that chance. I am the leader here, and you will obey me. Got that?” challenged Jaroch.

“Really? The idea sounds incredibly suicidal if you ask me. Perhaps you’re not much of a worthy leader anymore,” said Varnok menacingly.

“Oh great,” muttered Rydell, watching the scene.

“You dare to challenge me?” said Jaroch with more than a little surprise in his voice. He hadn’t expected this kind of reaction at all. But then again, he had been stupid enough to take Dillon at his word. Again.

“Yes!” answered Varnok, and plunged straight toward Jaroch’s chest.

“OOOOOF!” said Jaroch, his wings barely keeping him aloft as his eyes began to glaze over again.

“Here we go again,” said Dillon.

“BIRD MAN HURT J’TER! BIRD MAN SHALL DIE!” yelled Jaroch/J’Ter, as he proceeded fly into the air. He swooped down on Varnok, and began to systematically beat the crap out of him.

“Yike!” yipped Varnok, attempting to fly away from the barrage of fists and wings.

SMACK POW WHAP BAM WHACK BLAM.

Hawk feathers flew everywhere, slowly drifting to the ground far below.

“BIRD MAN NOT SO TOUGH NOW, RIGHT? J’TER WILL HAVE HIS VENGEANCE!” screamed Jaroch/J’Ter as he grabbed Varnok and threw him against the mountain.

“Whuf!” said Varnok as the air left him, passing out on a ledge on the mountainside.

“Jaroch! Get back in control of yourself!” shouted Rydell from the cargo doorway.

“FRESH BIRD STEW FOR DINNER!” yelled Jaroch/J’Ter, waving his arms in victory.

“JAROCH!” yelled everyone from the rocket.

Jaroch’s eyes began to return to normal as he regained control of his consciousness.

“Anyone else care to question my authority?” asked Jaroch calmly to the rest of the stunned Hawkmen, flapping his wings slowly and menacingly at them.

“NO,” said the Hawkmen all at once.

“Gather up the rest of our people, we’re heading over to attack Ming’s Palace with the Tree Men.”

“RIGHT,” they all said, frantically flying around to spread the word among the others.

“It looks like Ming has some big trouble heading his way,” grinned Rydell to Dillon, clapping him heartily on the back.

“Whoa!” said Dillon, barely keeping himself from falling out of the open hatchway.


“Good morning, your Majesty.”

“Good morning yourself, Klytus. What is on the agenda for today?”

“You have a morning appointment with the dungeon keeper today - he wants to know how many prisoners should be tortured, how many killed, how many should be sent as meat for the royal kitchens, that sort of thing. Your afternoon appointment with General Kala is regarding all the planets conquered since yesterday, and regarding those that were obliterated and sterilized completely of life, the usual routine. Your wedding to the earthling Dale Arden shall commence this evening at the usual time and place, the arrangements have all been made. The meteor gun should finish destroying the planet Earth shortly after your wedding, as planned.”

“Is there enough time to fit in the strangling of an occasional slave or two this afternoon?”

“I believe we can fit that in the schedule, yes your Majesty.”

“Very good then! Let’s get the day started, shall we?” said Ming, smiling in anticipation.


Hawkins woke up to the sound of several female slaves walking in through the door to the bedroom, followed by Princess Aura.

“Good morning,” Aura said, “Time for your wedding gown fitting.”

The slaves dragged Hawkins out of bed, and stood her up. They began to measure her from top to bottom, wrapping tape around every inch of her body.

“Wedding gown number 634-B,” announced one of them.

They hurried out the door to fetch the gown. “We tend to keep quite a few gowns handy, since father tends to get married a lot,” explained Aura.

“I really need to get out of here,” said Hawkins.

“Oh don’t worry, you’ll soon get your opportunity. My personal spies tell me that your Flash Gordon and my Prince Barin are dropping by the castle for a little visit sometime during the wedding later this evening, with the intent of disrupting father’s plans. Once you’re rescued, perhaps we can double date! I can lend you one of my whips, if you want,” offered Aura.

Hawkins thought about that idea with a certain amount of thoughtfulness. In her mind, Dillon sure deserved something in return for leaving her behind like this.

“We’ll see,” said Hawkins.


All of the key leaders of the Tree Men and the Hawkmen assembled around the large bridge of War Rocket Ajax to review Prince Barin’s plan of attack.

“Here’s the plan,” said Rydell. “The Tree Men will attempt to take War Rocket Ajax inside the palace hangar, and attack the palace from within. The Hawkmen will fly ahead of us as a distraction, either by themselves or on rocket cycles, attempting to attack gun emplacements and generally drawing their fire as we’re coming in. With any bit of luck, we should be able to land Ajax without too much challenge from Ming’s forces, especially if they’re still unaware it was stolen by us. Once the attack on the interior begins, everyone including Tree Men and Hawkmen will storm the remainder of the palace from all angles. In the confusion that ensues, we should be able to overcome the guards, stop the wedding, rescue Dale Arden, silence the meteor gun that’s currently attacking Earth, and try to take out Ming himself. Any questions?”

“Should we attempt to release some of the hostages and prisoners from Ming’s dungeons during all of this, or should we do this afterward?” asked Baromir.

“Anything we can do to increase the confusion greatly increases our likelihood of success, so go ahead if you think it will help your current situation on the ground,” answered Jaroch.

“Any other questions?” asked Rydell.

“Do we get to s*** on any palace guards and soldiers that happen to get underneath us?” asked Varnok.

“Do whatever you feel is necessary to satisfy the plan of attack,” smiled Rydell.

“Oh I really like this guy! It’s truly a shame we Hawkmen didn’t hook up with you before, Prince Barin! You have a great sense of humor!” laughed Varnok merrily.

“All right then. Flash Gordon and Prince Vultan will lead the air attack, while Doctor Zarkov and myself will fly Ajax in to take care of the ground invasion,” said Rydell.

“Can I borrow a rocket cycle?” asked Dillon.

“Sure!” said Varnok.

“Okay people, we all have our assignments. Thanks to Flash Gordon and his Earth-born wisdom of encouraging us to team up and work together, our liberation is at hand! Let’s get out there, and free the universe from this tyrant we all hate so dearly!” shouted Rydell.

“HAIL FLASH GORDON! HAIL PRINCE BARIN! HAIL PRINCE VULTAN!” shouted the Tree Men and the Hawkmen over and over again, thrusting their arms in the air.

Dillon shuffled his feet in pleased embarrassment, while Jaroch looked all around him with a raised eyebrow. Walker’s mouth hung open, completely amazed at the energy in the room - he had never seen this kind of thing in a holodeck setting before.

Rydell smiled back at the shouting crowd, giving them the occasional salute and getting into the spirit of the moment. Despite himself, and the desperate situation they were all facing right now, he was starting to like this little program of Dillon’s after all.


“It is time to marry you off again, your Majesty,” said Klytus.

“These ceremonies always take up so much time,” complained Ming.

“It will be over soon, and then you can relax and enjoy your new wife in your private torture chamber, while the both of you witness the complete and utter destruction of all life on her home planet.”

“It shall be a most pleasant evening indeed. Did you remember to arrange the champagne, the scented candles, and concubine slaves for later and afterward?” smiled Ming.

“How could I forget that, your Majesty?” bowed Klytus.

“I am so glad that you are always my best man for these occasions. What would I ever do without you, Klytus?” said Ming.

“I do not know, your Majesty. Shall we enter the chambers?” asked Klytus.

“Lead the way.”

The doors opened to reveal the captive audience, and the music began to play an eerie wedding march on an analog synthesizer.


Dillon flew his rocket cycle through the skies of Mongo, closely followed by a flapping Jaroch and the rest of the Hawkmen. Their bird like forms filled the skies, looking much like a menacing maelstrom of pigeons hovering over a community park. The occasional dropping fell to the ground as they flew to Ming’s palace.

“We’re almost in range of Ming’s outer perimeter!” shouted Dillon.

“Commander, we need to be cautious here, and not do anything that might bring any unwarranted attention to ourselves before we are ready for it!” yelled Jaroch over the winds.

“Agreed!” shouted Dillon.

Suddenly, a rhythmic noise began to play over the sound of the rushing winds around them.

DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM DUM

FLASH! AH AAAAAAAAAH!

SAVIOR OF THE UNIVERSE!

Jaroch flew over next to Dillon.

“What was that!?” asked Jaroch.

“I think it’s the soundtrack again,” said Dillon, sheepishly.

“Oh this is just great timing,” said Jaroch.


“General Kala. Flash Gordon approaching,” announced the perimeter monitor.

“What do you mean…Flash Gordon approaching?” asked General Kala.

“Just listen, sir.”

DUM DUM DUM DUM

FLASH! AH AAAAAAAAAAH!

HE’LL SAVE EVERY ONE OF US!

“He’s still alive! How can this be?” demanded Kala.

“I believe that may be him on that Hawkman rocket cycle over there,” said the monitor, pointing at the sky in the distance.

“S***!” yelled Kala.

“Should I inform his Majesty?” asked the monitor.

“Imbecile! The Emperor would shoot YOU for interrupting his wedding with this news! Open fire! All weapons!”


Laser beams lashed out from the palace towards Dillon and Jaroch, and the rocket cycle bucked and rocked as hundreds of explosions filled the sky around them.

“So much for the stealth approach,” muttered Dillon, desperately steering the cycle up and down, trying to keep himself away from the flying debris.

DUM DUM DUM DUM

FLASH! AH AHHHHHHH!

HE’S A MIRACLE!

“It’s a miracle we haven’t been killed yet,” snapped Jaroch as he swooped and dived, trying to avoid the lasers that threatened to singe his feathers, permanently.


“Flash Gordon is evading our fire! They’re going to attack the palace! Dispatch War Rocket Ajax, to bring back his body!” ordered General Kala.

“Uh sir? War Rocket Ajax is busy on an errand right now. They had to go get some flowers for the Emperor’s wedding.”

“WHAT!? What the f*** is going on around here!?” raged Kala in a complete fury.

DUM DUM DUM DUM

FLASH! AH AHHHHHHH!

KING OF IMPOSSIBLE!

“Continue firing! Can anyone shut that blasted music off?” asked Kala.

“I’m afraid not, sir,” answered the monitor.

“I sure hope the Emperor can’t hear this right now,” moaned Kala, holding his head in dismay.


Very fortunately for General Kala, no one heard the Flash Gordon Theme Music inside the wedding chamber, since it had it’s own wedding music soundtrack playing loudly throughout the entire room.

Accompanied by Ming’s faithful floating orb, Ming and Klytus marched slowly, walking past the very attentive members of the wedding audience, up towards the podium where the palace priest was waiting for them to arrive.

Ming stopped suddenly, turning his head to glare at the audience.

“HAIL MING!”

Smiling in a satisfied way, Ming continued his march.


“Not a bad soundtrack at all. I just might pick up the album and have a listen to it sometime,” said Rydell.

“All systems go,” said Walker.

“Let’s go then. Full ahead, Mr. Walker.”

“Aye, sir.”

War Rocket Ajax fired its retro rockets to catch up to the Hawkman filled sky, gaining on them rapidly.


“Did you hear that music? See? What did I tell you? Flash Gordon should arrive just in time for the wedding!” said Princess Aura as they walked up to the main doors of the wedding chamber.

The guards marched Hawkins along as she grumpily fluffed her wedding gown.

“He’d better show up in a hurry, that’s all I’ve got to say,” complained Hawkins.


“Wahoooo!” shouted an adrenaline-pumped Dillon as his rocket cycle streaked toward a rotating gun turret on the palace.

He opened fire on the turret, blowing it to several metal pieces. The cycle streaked back up into the sky as the laser fire attempted to track him down.

“Take that Ming!” he yelled, laughing merrily like a child at play.

HE’S FOR EVERY ONE OF US

STAND FOR EVERY ONE OF US

HE’LL SAVE WITH A MIGHTY HAND

EVERY MAN EVERY WOMAN EVERY CHILD

WITH A MIGHTY FLASH!

“What an ego trip. Dillon’s fantasy world has no tangible boundaries at all,” commented Jaroch, firing his laser gun at a guard down below.


“Wow! Kablooie! F***ing pure action!” yelled Baird, who was starting to get a little drunk after his eleventy-fifth beer or so.


“War Rocket Ajax approaching,” said the perimeter monitor.

“Good! Finally! Bring them up on communications!” exclaimed Kala.

“Communications open, General.”

“War Rocket Ajax, commence fire on Flash Gordon and the Hawkmen immediately!” ordered Kala.

“I’m sorry sir, but we have priority orders to bring these flowers straight to the wedding without delay!” answered the voice.

“Override those orders, on my authority!”

“Our orders come straight from the Emperor himself. If you wish to contact him directly about this matter, we will be more than happy to comply.”

Wracked with indecision, General Kala wrung his hands together. He dared not disturb the Emperor right now, not in the middle of one of his weddings!

“Oh all right! Land quickly, drop off your bloody flowers, and then get back up there to engage the enemy!” shouted Kala.

“Will do, sir.”

Kala threw his hat on the floor, and stomped it flat.


“It worked,” grinned Rydell.

“Coming into the hangar now sir.”

Rydell turned on the internal speakers.

“Prince Barin to all Tree Men. As soon as we finish moving, exit the rocket quickly and spread yourselves out. Engage all enemies, and wipe them out as quickly as possible. Once we have the ground floor secured, we will head up to the wedding chamber and deal with Ming himself!”

A loud cheer erupted from the back.

“You should be able to lend some real firepower to the Hawkmen effort above. Are you sure you’re going to be ok up there on your own?” asked Rydell.

“No.”

Rydell smiled at him warmly in complete understanding.

“But I’m willing to try sir,” added Walker, who was not expecting that reaction from Rydell at all.

“That’s all I ever ask for, Ensign. This is even though I don’t always get the results I want at times. With any luck, this program will be finished by the time you’re able to land, and then we can all get out of here. I will be proud to buy you a drink in Seven Backward afterward, if and when we get out of the holodeck in one piece,” said Rydell, clapping Walker on the back.

“Thank you sir,” said Walker, not really understanding how he deserved the praise.

“All right then,” smiled Rydell.

“Landing now, sir.”

“Good luck to you,” said Rydell as he scrambled to get off the rocket.

“And to you sir,” said Walker.

Walker watched as Rydell and The Tree Men spread themselves out through the hangar, firing their lasers at the guards and soldiers. Once all of them were clear, Walker punched in a new course.

“Time to do some real damage,” he said with newfound confidence.

The mighty War Rocket Ajax flared its engines, and roared out of the hangar.


Ming stood on the podium, and Klytus addressed the audience.

“Servants and slaves of his Majesty, I give to you, the bride!” shouted Klytus.

The music in the chamber changed to a more upbeat theme, and the doors opened. Hawkins stood at the entrance to the hall in a long flowing wedding gown, not moving at all. She stood there, defiantly glaring at everyone in the room.

The orb flew over to where she was standing. Several laser guns emerged from hidden compartments, and pointed directly at her.

“Walk or die,” it said, simply.

Deciding the better of it, Hawkins slowly walked down the aisle.

ZOT!

“Faster,” the orb said as it blasted another hole beside her feet.

Panicked, Hawkins picked up her dress and ran as the orb chased her down the aisle.

“Isn’t it remarkable how they always cannot wait to marry me?” smiled Ming, warmly.

“Yes indeed your Majesty,” said Klytus.

Gasping for breath, Hawkins arrived at the podium.

“I see you’re more than ready, my dear. Shall we begin the ceremony?” asked Ming.

“It’s not like I have a choice,” Hawkins muttered.

“No, of course you don’t,” said Ming.


Hawkmen were being hit by the palace lasers all around Dillon and Jaroch, several of them falling in an uncontrolled tailspin from the sky. Their feathers burned bright flame as they fell to the ground below.

Even the Flash Theme music had shut itself off. Dillon didn’t think that was a very good sign at all.

“We can’t take much more of this!” yelled Jaroch as he narrowly dodged another laser streak.

“We’ve got to do something!” shouted Dillon, ducking a blast as the cycle began to smoke horribly.

“I’m afraid I’m a little too busy to do your thinking for you at the moment!” yelled Jaroch, narrowly dodging another explosion.

ROAR!

“What was that?” yelled Dillon.

War Rocket Ajax streaked into the sky in front of them, absorbing the laser fire that was meant for Jaroch and Dillon. Dillon saw Walker saluting and smiling at him through the bridge window.

“All right!” Dillon shouted in relief, waving his fist in the air.

That turned out to be a bad idea, since he let go of the stabilizing thruster that kept his cycle upright.

“WHOOOAAAAA!” Dillon yelled, barely hanging onto the cycle as it spun uncontrolled through the sky.

“He’s flipped out again. Why do I always have to be the one who has to charge to his rescue? I’ve got enough problems of my own!” muttered Jaroch in disgust, still doing the explosion dodge dance in mid-air.


“Lookit him f***ing go! Is so…amazing…” mumbled Baird, as his eyes began to droop a little.


Walker swung the rocket around. He could hear a voice beginning to sing a melody through the internal speakers of the war rocket, singing quietly and calmly to him.

JUST A MAN

WITH A MAN’S COURAGE

OH OOOH

HE KNOWS NOTHING BUT A MAN

BUT HE CAN NEVER FAIL

NO ONE BUT THE PURE OF HEART

MAY FIND THE GOLDEN GRAIL

OH OOOOH…OOOOOOOH OHHHHH

Walker felt in his heart the music was somehow meant for him. He just knew he wasn’t going to screw things up, not this time around.

He grit his teeth, summoned up all of his courage at once, and flew Ajax directly toward the main turrets that defended the palace’s defense center control.


“War Rocket Ajax to Palace Defense Control,” said the voice on the speaker.

“What is your status, Ajax?” asked General Kala.

“Oh I’d say that it’s getting better by the moment.”

“Have you killed Flash Gordon yet?” demanded Kala.

“Not yet! I have a much bigger target in mind right now.”

“Oh no! Where is it?” demanded Kala as he searched the status displays in a panic.

“Right ahead of me,” said the voice.

“Sir?” asked the duty monitor.

“What?” snapped Kala.

“Look what’s in front of us,” said the monitor, pointing his finger straight ahead of him.

“Yoohoo!” waved Walker through the bridge window of the rocket.

“S***!” was all that Kala managed to get out in time.


Walker fired all the rocket’s weapons at once. The palace’s defense command center blew apart in an expressive and impressive display of pyrotechnic fire.

“Gotcha,” he grinned, as he fought to stabilize Ajax from the explosive force of the shockwave.

He didn’t quite succeed, and Ajax slowly began to drift slowly sideways towards the ground.

“Help!” he said to no one in particular, while he fought the controls frantically.

The ship finally lost thruster power about thirty feet above ground. War Rocket Ajax crashed to the surface of Mongo, never to rise again.


The laser fire outside the palace stopped completely with the destruction of the defense center.

“Everyone charge! DIVE!” shouted Jaroch to the other Hawkmen, who began to swoop towards the windows at all levels of the palace.

“YAAAAAAAA!” shouted Dillon as his rocket cycle spun around and around uncontrollably, which was now heading for the general direction of the palace.

Jaroch shook his head and sighed, and flew as fast as he could after him.


BOOM! KABLAM!

“What the hell was that?” asked Baromir, ducking laser fire while shooting back at the guards down the corridor.

“I’d guess that Doctor Zarkov accomplished his task out there,” grinned Rydell.

The defending guards broke into a running retreat.

“After them! They’re the last ones on this floor!” yelled Baromir. He and the rest of Tree Men charged down the corridor in a rush to catch up with them.

Smiling, Rydell was about to charge after them himself, when he heard a familiar voice.

“Where do you think you’re going, darling?” asked Princess Aura, who was standing at an open doorway entrance to a dark- looking bedroom, pointing a blaster at him in one hand, and holding a very large whip in the other.

“I was just coming to see you, my d-darling,” Rydell stammered.

“I’m so glad you were, dearest. But just in case you were planning on changing your mind about your little promise to me, I’ll just continue to hold onto my little incentive device for the moment, while you come inside and make yourself comfortable.”

“Of c-course dear,” said Rydell, walking into the bedroom with his hands in the air.

Aura grinned at Rydell with a gleam in her eye, cracked the whip once, and shut the bedroom door.


The priest continued the ceremony, everyone in the wedding chamber being completely oblivious to the carnage around and within the palace.

“Do you, Ming the Merciless, take this Earthling Dale Arden, to be your Empress of the hour?”

“Of the hour, yes!” answered Ming.

“Do you promise to use her as you will?” asked the priest.

“Certainly!” grinned Ming.

“Not to blast her into space?” asked the priest.

Ming looked at the priest strangely.

“Uh, until such time that his Majesty grows weary of her?” the priest added hastily.

“I do!” answered Ming.

“Come on Dillon, where the hell are you?” mumbled Hawkins.

“Whoa. How the hell do you stop this thing,” said the orb.

“Who said that?” demanded Klytus.

CRASH!

A rocket cycle and its flailing rider crashed through the skylight in the ceiling above them, and blazed around the wedding hall in a jagged, uncontrolled manner. The glass shards narrowly missed the screaming guests as they dodged the flying debris.

“WHOOOOOOOOAAAH!” yelled Dillon, still barely hanging on to the smoking, twisting, and turning cycle as it sped back and forth around the top of the room. The guards, stunned into action, began to fire at Dillon’s flailing body as he tried to hang on, completely out of control.

“Flash Gordon is still alive?” said Ming, looking up at the scene in apparent confusion.

“Travis!” shouted Hawkins.

“Orb, kill Flash Gordon immediately!” demanded Klytus.

The orb rose up into the air, and swung its laser turret towards Dillon’s hurtling and spinning frame, carefully attempting to track him down. It started to lock in on his position.

“Travis! Watch out for the orb!” yelled Hawkins.

Dillon’s hand fought to reach the stabilizing control. With a grunt, he reached up and grasped it firmly, not realizing that he was squeezing the booster thrusters instead.

“YAAAAAAAAAAAA!” Dillon screamed as the cycle shot forward, barreling headlong and smashing into the orb. The orb flew through the air and crashed to the floor. Severely dented up, it rolled around clumsily on the floor.

“Orb, I demand you get up and finish the job!” shouted Klytus.

A whining noise shrieked from the orb, while everyone else in the chamber scrambled to get out of the way.

“I don’t think it’s listening to you, Klytus,” said Ming.

BOOOM!!!

All that remained of the orb was a smoking crater in the cement floor.

Dillon finally managed to get a hold of the stabilizing thruster, and he spun the bike back upright.

“Travis! I’m over here!” shouted Hawkins.

“Coming!” he shouted. Dillon sped the bike towards the podium as the guards continued to fire in his direction, just narrowly missing him by inches.

“I think we may have to conduct a strategic retreat, your Majesty,” said Klytus.

“I can’t believe it, but I think you’re right,” said Ming, as they both ran toward the meteor tower stairwell.

Dillon scooped Hawkins’ arm as the priest ducked just in time. Her wedding gown flapping in the air behind her, Hawkins slipped into the seat behind Dillon.

“Did you miss me?” asked Dillon.

“Not as much as you think, but I’m still glad to see you,” hugged Hawkins.

There were sounds of laser fire and confusion as Tree Men and escaped prisoners poured in through the chamber doorways, while the Hawkmen crashed into the room through the windows. The guards turned their attentions to the new threats, firing indiscriminately through the shrieking crowd of wedding guests. The wedding guests dodged, screamed, and ducked as laser fire streaked through the room.

Jaroch plunged through the open skylight, still thinking that he was going to have to rescue Dillon yet again. Flapping his wings frantically, he turned his head to see Dillon and Hawkins fly by on the smoking remains of the rocket cycle. He figured he should skip to the point quickly, instead of asking stupid questions.

“Where’s Ming?” Jaroch yelled at them.

“He went up the stairwell with Klytus!” shouted Hawkins as Dillon swung the bike downward for a landing.

“You two take care of them, while we deal with the guards and cover your rear! Here, you’ll need these!” shouted Jaroch, tossing them a couple of laser pistols.

Hawkins caught them both, one after the other.

“Thank you sir!”

“Just end this program and get us out of here! I’ve had quite enough of this stupidity and madness!” said Jaroch, as he turned back toward the battle, firing his own pistol at the mass of guards.

“AAAAAH!” yelled the Captain of Ming’s Guard as he ran past Dillon and Hawkins, covering his head.

A hawkman flew directly above him, pelting him with droppings.

“Ha Ha Ha Ha!” laughed Varnok merrily as he flapped around the room, chasing the screaming guard Captain around and around the chamber.

“That’s justice at work,” said Hawkins, giving the other pistol to Dillon.

Flash Gordon and Dale Arden charged up the stairs to confront Ming the Merciless and his treacherous servant Klytus once and for all.


“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz,” Baird snored on his makeshift couch, a half empty beer sitting on chest. It rose and fell to the rhythm of his breathing as he sawed logs in dreamland.


Dillon and Hawkins climbed the stairs, racing up to the meteor gun tower.

“Destruction of planet Earth in five minutes,” announced a metallic sounding voice.

“We don’t have much time left,” said Dillon, pointing out the obvious again.

“Shut up and climb, Travis,” said Hawkins, picking up the pace.

They eventually reached a closed door at the top of the stairs. Hawkins motioned Dillon to stand beside the door. She kicked the door in, then dived quickly to the side.

Laser fire streaked out the open doorway, frying the far wall of the tower.

Dillon looked at Hawkins questioningly, and she nodded to him. They dove through the open door, rolling on the floor, shooting blindly across the room. They rolled behind a console to safety.

“It has been a pleasure serving you, your Majesty,” moaned Klytus, dropping his laser pistol and clutching his chest as he slumped to the floor.

“How droll indeed. It looks like I’ll have to take care of them myself,” smiled Ming in anticipation, hiding behind the meteor gun control panel.

“Destruction of planet Earth in one minute,” droned the metallic sounding voice.

From behind the console, Dillon decided to take the initiative.

“Give it up Ming! The palace is completely surrounded! It’s only a matter of time before they come charging up the stairs!”

“That is time you don’t have, Flash Gordon. You need me to turn off the meteor gun, if you wish to save your pathetic little planet from destruction. The console will only accept my commands, so you are not in a bargaining position here.”

“I’m calling you out, Ming,” said Dillon, undaunted by the threat.

“By all means,” said Ming, standing up.

“Travis!” hissed Hawkins, too late.

Dillon rolled from behind the console and stood up in a fluid motion, leveling his blaster at Ming.

“Cancel the destruction of Earth,” Dillon ordered.

“I don’t think so,” said Ming, raising his arm.

A twanging noise filled the air as Ming’s ring glowed a bright red color. Dillon felt his arm go numb. He tried to press the trigger, but couldn’t do it.

“I think it would be entertaining to watch you shoot yourself,” Ming grinned, casually waving his arm.

Dillon’s arm moved to point the gun barrel at his own head. He swallowed audibly.

“No wait, perhaps it is best if you shoot your girlfriend first,” Mind said, waving his arm again.

Dillon’s arm flipped out and pointed the gun at Hawkins.

Ming grinned evilly, enjoying the moment completely.

“Destruction of planet Earth in ten seconds. Nine. Eight…” said the metallic voice.

“Say goodbye to your miserable little planet, Flash Gordon. And say goodbye to yourself as well right afterward,” said Ming, waving his arm again.

Dillon’s arm moved back to point the blaster at his own head again.

“Gulp,” he swallowed again.

“Five…Four…” said the metallic voice.

“Farewell, Flash Gordon,” said Ming, grinning evilly.

Hawkins rolled from behind the console, got up on one knee, aimed her blaster, and shot a gaping hole directly through Ming’s upper torso.

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Two…One…planet Earth completely destroyed. HAIL MING!” said the metallic voice.

Ming looked down at the hole in his chest, then back at Hawkins.

“Ah my dear. We would have been so good for each other,” smiled Ming, as he slumped to the floor.

“Program complete,” said the computer.

The room vanished to reveal the familiar grid-lines of the holodeck.

“Are you all right, Travis?” asked Hawkins.

“I think so,” said Dillon, a little shakily.

“Ohhhh,” moaned Walker on the floor, who was still shook up from the crash.

“Finally,” Jaroch said as he looked around him, eventually catching sight of Rydell.

Rydell was kneeling on all four limbs, wearing a spiked dog collar and nothing else but a tiny black leather thong. His commbadge was held between his teeth.

“Is this something else I shouldn’t ask about?” asked Jaroch.

“Correct,” said Rydell, picking himself up off the floor.


“Baird, wake up. Come on. Party’s over.”

“What?” Baird said as he jerked himself awake. The beer can on his chest tipped over and spilled all over him.

“F***!” he yelled, as he scrambled to push it off him. He stood up, brushing his chest off.

“Baird, please shut down this holodeck and get it fixed once and for all. I don’t want anyone else to go in there until this is done,” said Rydell.

“What, I missed the f***ing ending of the story? S***! I fell asleep! What the f*** happened in there?” demanded Baird.

Baird watched in a half-awake daze as the others milled their way out of the holodeck. Dillon, Hawkins, and Jaroch were carrying and supporting Walker as they made their way over to the turbolift.

“Just fix the holodeck please,” answered Rydell.

“All right. Fine. Computer, shut down holodeck two and apply software patch Baird-alpha-one to the f***ed up holodeck systems,” said Baird.

“Patch complete. All holodeck systems now read normal operations.”

“Good. Power up the holodeck again, computer.”

“That’s it?” asked Rydell, somewhat surprised at the simplicity of it, especially after all they just went through in there.

“That’s it,” answered Baird as he turned his head back to Rydell, just noticing his outfit for the first time.

“Maybe it’s for the f***ing best that I don’t find out what happened at the end,” commented Baird.

“Yes,” agreed Rydell.


The Seven Backward lounge was unusually empty, and the few people inside kept quiet conversation at their own tables.

Rydell brought Walker a drink from the bar.

“Thank you, Captain.”

“Don’t sweat it. I promised you that drink, and you sure earned it. That was one hell of a stunt you managed to pull off at Ming’s palace, Mr. Walker.”

“Thank you sir. But it was you who managed to keep us going in the right direction the whole time we were in there. We’re lucky to be alive, because of you.”

“That’s my job description, Terry. Someone has to look out for everyone around here. It might as well be me, since I’m supposed to be the Captain. Even though it was a dangerous situation in there, I might even venture to say that I had a lot of fun doing it,” Rydell grinned.

Jaroch had a long face. He twisted his straw thoughtfully around his glass, stirring the contents slowly.

“What’s wrong, Jaroch?” asked Rydell.

Jaroch hesitated, then looked up at Rydell.

“I never thought I’d admit to something like this sir, but…I think I miss my wings,” said Jaroch.

“I think I understand. Don’t worry, I won’t mention it to Dillon. And neither will you, Mr. Walker,” said Rydell.

“Understood sir,” said Walker.

“Thank you sir,” said Jaroch, looking clearly relieved.

“I wonder how they’re doing over there, after all they’ve been through?” wondered Rydell. He looked over his shoulder at Dillon and Hawkins, who were sitting at the table across the room.


“You sure saved the day, Flash Gordon.”

“No, I’m afraid I got lucky. Dale Arden deserves the real credit for saving the universe this time.”

“True, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

“That’s okay. I did manage to save you from Ming’s clutches first, so that was good enough for me.”

“Really?”

“I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather save.”

“Just for that, I think I might just let you do it again the next time we tackle Ming’s minions after all,” grinned Hawkins.

“As long as you keep saving me from myself, I’ll do just that,” smiled Dillon.

They got up from the table, and left Seven Backward arm in arm.


Deep inside the memory banks of Dillon subprogram 63-1980, a curious new subroutine was written at the very end of the program code. If anyone had bothered to look at the content of it at all, they might have read the following:


HA HA HA HA HA HA!

HAAAA HAAAA HAAAAAAAAA!


THE END?


Tags: alternate