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Planet of the Rovers

by Scott Oliverson

CHAPTER XXVI

     Exile himself placed the last stone atop Thunderbolt's grave.
Of all the violent deeds he had committed in Hunter's name, this was the
one he would regret most. T-Bolt had earned a warrior's death, but not
at the hand of his best student. It was a murder that Exile would carry
with him to his grave. Colleen knelt by the german shepherd's grave. A
tear ran down his eyes as she whispered.

               COLLEEN
All the years you put up with me...this time I wish I could have
protected you but I failed.

     Space Ace put a hand on her shoulder. She gave one last sob,
then rose to face him. He was holding Daisy. The collie had been
scared since Hunter struck her, but she would heal. The HERO OF EARTH
handed her to Colleen.

               SPACE ACE
Now you have someone to take care of. Do a good job. She means alot to
me in my future.
               COLLEEN
I can promise you I will not put her in a cage.

     Exile looked at Daisy, his eyes haunted by the thought that this
might be his savior. And, of course, in some ways it was - but as the
ancient teachings themselves foretold, true wisdom came within, and the
arrival of his divine hero had only taught Exile that he needed to save
himself. He looked across the battlefield. Under the shadow of the
ruins, hundreds of graves had been dug, marked by simple headstones.

               EXILE <Speaks for all to listen>
We will leave these graves unmarked, their tombstones. No one who comes
here will be able to tell canosapien from human. They will be mourned
together...as it should be from now on.

     Ace held up his Messanger box, which was now tuned to the
frequency in ALPHA POD. It had started to beep a half hour ago.

               SPACE ACE
It's found the coordinates of the storm that brought me here to Alpha
Prime. I have to go home.
               COLLEEN
It would mean a great deal to everyone, it would mean a great deal to
me...if you would stay.
               SPACE ACE
Colleen, I have to go now. I have to take a chance that it can
transport me back to Hill Valley 2015. My family is waiting for me to
return home, I cannot keep them waiting any longer.

     They walked together to ALPHA POD, where some of the colonists
had gathered. As they arrived, Colleen said softly.

               COLLEEN
One day they will tell a story about a visitor who came from the stars,
from his own homeworld called Earth and changed our world. Some will
say it was just fantasy-make believe, that he was never real. <Chokes
back sobs> But I'll know the truth.

     Then they embraced each other and kissed again for a long time,
probably the last time. Meanwhile the proximity alert had become more
urgent, and Ace was about to enter the pod when he spotted Robyn. She
stood with Big Brother Zak and little brother Richard Tyler. The two
men waved farewell to him, but Robyn remained motionless. Ace ignored
the alarms and ran over to her. As he did, she broke into an expression
that held both smiles and tears, and the girl threw herself into his
arms. He held her tightly as he never been able to do.

               SPACE ACE
You understand that I can't take you home with me.
               ROBYN <Nods>
Then you'll have to return one day to see us again.
               SPACE ACE
I promise...someday I will come back to Alpha Prime.

     Then she suprised him with a kiss. It was long and tender,
softer than he would have expected from a strange girl. When she broke
away, she did not wait, but turned and ran into the rocks where she
would not see him leave and no one would see her cry. Ace then turned
to see Blitz standing forlonely beside the pod, looking sad.

               BLITZ
I, I'll miss you too stranger.
               SPACE ACE
Fear not slaver, one day I will return to continue helping both
canosapien and colonist on this world to live in peace and harmony and
not war.
               BLITZ
Jah?! You will come back? <When he nodded yes> In that case, I will be
waiting! <Grins>

     Ace waved farewell for the last time to all the Rovers and
humans assembled around him. Then he ducked into the pod and seated
himself in the pilot's chair, slipped on the control helmet. Suddenly,
Colleen appeared before him, frantic look on her face.

               COLLEEN
Ace! You promised to take me back with you. You said I could go home
to your world.
               SPACE ACE
Oops, great scott I forgot, whoohooa! <Cursed himself> Hop in lassie!
               COLLEEN
Thank you! <Grins> Oh, and don't forget Daisy.
               SPACE ACE
Right, don't forget my pet collie.
               COLLEEN
Yes sir! <Salutes him>

     Colleen seated herself into Ace's lap with Daisy curled up in
her arms. Ace slipped the helmet over his head and commanded.

               SPACE ACE
Close pod. <The hatch sealed shut>

     And suddenly he was all pilot again, aka Lieutenant Ace of STAR
COMMAND. Surrounded only by the instruments and controls of a ship he
had been trained to fly. He ran through flights safety checks quickly,
easily, almost as though what happened had never been, and in a moment
the pod was rising into the air and rocketing past the reach of the
planet's gravity well. But of course it had happened, in all its sheer
terror and wonder. He would miss Zak, McLeach, Richard and Robyn. But
that was not his real home. His own home was lightyears away on another
planet in another solar system...Hill Valley and the Institute Of Future
Technology where his father Dr. Emmett Brown, mother Heather Brown,
brother Ash Ketchum, aunt Mrs. Ketchum, uncle Professor Oaks, Annabelle
and the B9 Robot waited for him to come home safely.

     He called up a star chart and tried to map his coordinates, the
star navigator bleeped and returned a simple message:

               POD COMPUTER
COORDINATES CONFIRMED. COURSE TO PLANET EARTH CHARTED.
               SPACE ACE
Now you tell me.
               COLLEEN
Huh? <Curious> What?
               SPACE ACE
Never mind my dear, just talking to my computer.
               COLLEEN
Is it going to take us back to Earth?
               SPACE ACE
Yes, the coordinates are locked in and I'm on target so to speak. Now
all I have to do is find the storm I passed through on my way to this
alien planet and timewarp back through it to return to Hill Valley.

     He banked the ship along the gravity wall of the PLANET OF THE
ROAD ROVERS and curled up into outer space. Before him, the endless
bright cloud of the electromagnetic storm appeared, just as he had seen
it before. Ace set a course full-speed for the eye of the storm. He
did not know what would happen to him this time, nor did Colleen or
Daisy riding with him. But nothing could be worse than what he had been
through, and nothing could be better than home. Home was worth the
risk!

               THE END