Only Muties and Starships
Mackenzies Defining Moment
Fourteen year old M’k’n’zy began to make his way back to his home, back to his band of guerrilla fighters. He wondered what sort of reception would be there for him. He further wondered, hoped, prayed, that Falkar and his men had finally had enough. That this latest and greatest defeat had finally convinced them that the inhabitants of Yavins Pride would never give up, never surrender. Sooner or later, the invaders would have to get the message. If it took repeated pounding in of that message, then so be it.
He sniffed a change in the air around him, and he definitely didn’t like it. He had the hideous feeling that a shitstorm was beginning to brew, and he knew from firsthand experience just how quickly such things could come up. There were banks and rows of technology around him, plenty of places where he could hide himself and not risk being spotted by the invaders who approached, if indeed they were the invaders. As a matter of fact, he had passed what seemed to be a particularly likely sheltered area only minutes before. Smarter to retrace his steps and secure himself there until the invaders had passed.
He turned around and, sensing danger, came within a millimeter of losing his life.
The blade was right at his face. It had been sweeping around, aiming toward his neck. If he hadn’t unexpectedly turned at that very moment, the blade would have severed the jugular vein. As it was, he reacted just barely quickly enough to survive as the gleaming blade sliced across his face, from right temple down across his cheek, down to the bone. Blood fountained out across the right half of his face as M’k’n’zy backpedaled frantically. But with him blinded by his blood, with pain exploding in his mind, the ground went out from under the normally surefooted M’k’n’zy. He fell, landing badly and aggravating further the already existing injuries to his arms.
And during all that, not a sound escaped from his lips.
“No cry of pain,” Falkar said, pausing to survey his handiwork. As an afterthought, he wiped the blade of his short sword on his garment. “I am impressed, young man. As impressed, I should hope, as you are by my ability to have crept up on you without you hearing. What with your being a savage and all, I’d think you’d pride yourself on your instincts and ability not to be surprised. So. were you surprised by being surprised?” he added, unable to keep the smugness from his voice.
M’k’n’zy didn’t say anything. He was too busy denying his deep urge to scream. He fought for control, breathing steadily, pushing away the agony that was eating away at him, dulling his senses, making it impossible for him to concentrate on the simple business of staying alive. His right hand was slick with blood; he was literally holding his face together.
“Did I take the eye out? asked Falkar, in no hurry to finish the job. He had suffered far too many losses at the hands of this young twerps allies on this damned station. In a way, he was glad that he had missed the initial killing stroke. That had been generated as a result of rage. This way was better, though. Worthier. It was the best of both worlds, really: he could face his victim, and at the same time, not worry about him. “Perhaps I’ll take the other as well. I could give you that intriguing choice. Kill you. or leave you, but alive and blind.”
Truthfully, there was so much blood, so much pain, that M’k’n’zy couldn’t even tell if he’d lost the eye altogether. His red-coated hand was clasped over the right side of his face. He felt himself dangerously close to succumbing to the ungodly torment that threatened to paralyze him. And he also knew that there was no way, despite what Falkar had just said, that Falkar was going to leave him alive. Oh, he might blind him first. Watch his progress with sadistic amusement and then kill him. Desperate for time, M’k’n’zy said, “I have no love for my eyes.”
“Indeed?” said Falkar. The steadiness of M’k’n’zy’s voice was slightly disconcerting to him. “And why is that?”
M’k’n’zy started to talk. Every word out of his mouth felt thick and forced, but he spoke and kept speaking to focus himself, to stave off the pain, to buy time. maybe even to remind himself that he was still alive.
“These eyes,” he said, “have seen family and friends punished by having their unborn children ripped from the wombs of their mothers. They’ve seen friends homes burned to the ground. They’ve seen so called ‘criminals’ convicted of minor crimes, punished by having limbs lasered off, one at a time, screaming for mercy, and receiving none. They’ve seen my mother tortured in the public square, punished for ‘crimes’ against your damned invaders, a punishment ordered by you, you bastard. My mother, beaten and whipped until a once proud woman was reduced to screaming even in anticipation of your blows. I saw the look of pure shock on her face, just before her incredible heart gave out in the midst of the beating you administered. The last thing my mother ever heard was my begging her not to leave me. Begging for a promise she couldn’t keep.” His voice choked as he said, “These eyes. have seen the hand of tyranny, and before I grow to manhood, I will lop that hand off at the wrist.”
M’k’n’zy’s words made Falkar exceedingly nervous. He had always harboured the image of M’k’n’zy as a grunting teenager, operating mostly out of luck and sheer happenstance.
But what he had just heard was hardly the speech of a barely articulate teenager. What the hell kind of person was capable of sounding erudite while losing blood out of his face by the pint? Suddenly all thoughts of toying with his victim, all intentions of dragging things out, evaporated. He just wanted this, this freak of nature dead, that was all. Dead and gone, and his head as a trophy.
What Falkar had not realized, however, was that M’k’n’zy’s little speech served one additional purpose: a stall for time that allowed the approaching reinforcements to arrive. The remnants of the Station Security force that M’k’n’zy had sensed, which Falkar was oblivious of. But he was not oblivious any longer when the full blast of the storm of laser weapons fire abruptly swept down upon them.
The screams of barely contained energy roared across the walkway and hammered down around Falkar just as he was advancing on M’k’n’zy to carve him to pieces. The laser bolts were howling in technological rage and Falkar had no idea which way to look. Without having any time to prepare for it at all, Falkar was suddenly at the heart of a battle for his life. He staggered, knocked off balance by the powerful forces around him, and insanely he actually tried hacking at the bolts with his sword. The energy bolts, in turn, knocked the sword away from him.
He heard it clatter away, turned in the direction that he thought it had fallen, but wasn’t able to track it. Instead he found himself helplessly staggering around, unable to seek it out. He snarled “I hate this place!” under his breath, and at that moment came to the conclusion that the Yavins Priders were welcome to the damned place. If he never saw it again after this day, he would count himself fortunate.
He couldn’t see anything. He went to one knee, squinted fiercely, and bowed his head against the blasting of the energy weapons. He felt around, hoping against hope that he would be able to locate his weapon. He wasn’t. If he survived this, he would probably have to track down M’k’n’zy all over again, because certainly the little brat would use this convenient cover to escape. That was the problem with Yavins Pride: Nothing on the station was ever simple.
Choosing the better part of valour, Falkar retreated to the safety of his ship, regrouped his warriors and left. As he sped away from Yavins Pride, the primary thought running through his mind was one from a few minutes earlier: I hate this place.
That was the last Mac saw of Falkar, until now, nearly 13 years later, he finds himself tracking down the man he swore to kill.