Friday, May 30, 2008

"THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN" (2008) Review




”THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN” (2008) Review

I must admit that it took me quite a while to write a review of the latest cinematic installment of ”THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA” saga. This second installment, ”Prince Caspian”, tells the story of four Pevensie children’s return to Narnia to aid Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) in his struggle for the throne against his corrupt uncle King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). I tried to think of something different about this chapter in compare to the first - ”The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. But it occurred to me that my reaction to this movie seemed more or less the same as the 2005 release.

And what does that say about my feelings about ”Prince Caspian”? Honestly, I thought it was a solid and entertaining film that both children and adult fans of C.S. Lewis’ saga might enjoy. That is all I can really say. There was nothing really unique about it. Like many other adaptations of literary works, ”Prince Caspian” did not faithfully follow its literary counterpart. Considering that I have never read any of Lewis’ works, I was not particularly disturbed by this. The only reason I am aware of any differences between the literary and cinematic versions, is the Internet.

Like the previous movie, the cast is pretty solid. The actors who portrayed the Pevensie children returned for this sequel. Due to the rapid aging of children in general, work on the script began before ”The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was released, so filming could begin before the actors grew too old for their parts. William Moseley (Peter), Anna Popplewell (Susan), Skandar Keynes (Edmund) and Georgie Henley (Lucy) all gave solid, yet slightly uninspiring performances as the four siblings. Whereas Keynes got the chance to show Edmund at his peevish worst in the previous film, Moseley portrayed a slightly darker side of oldest brother Peter, whose dissatisfaction with being back in England had produced boorish personality. Perhaps I should rephrase that. Peter’s boorish, which had been hinted through his handling of Edmund in the first film, was allowed to flourish in this film. It took a military failure against the main villain to give him a boot in the ass to improve his personality. On the other hand, Edmund seemed remarkably changed for the better in this film. One critic had described him as being the film’s ”Han Solo”. I would agree, except Edmund came off as more mature and intelligent than Han Solo. Anna Popplewell had convinced producer Douglas Gresham to allow Susan to appear in the movie’s major battles, because she feared the character came off as too passive in Lewis’ novel. Many fans of the novel were appalled by this. Not being a literary fan of the saga, it did not bother me at all. At least it gave her something to do. Of all the Pevensie siblings, Georgie Henley’s Lucy seemed to have changed the least. Although she seemed less tolerant of Peter’s boorishness than she was of Edmund’s darker side in the first film.

British actor Ben Barnes portrayed the title role of Prince Caspian of Telmarine with as much solid competence as the four actors who portrayed the Pevensies. Perhaps he seemed a little more competent than his younger co-stars in acting skills, but I could not sense anything remarkable about his performance. Portraying Caspian’s evil uncle and the Telmarine’s false ruler, King Miraz, was actor Sergio Castellitto. He made a very effective villain, but lacked Tilda Swanton’s memorable portrayal as the White Witch. Who, by the way, briefly returned to bring a much-needed spark in the middle of the story. If I must be honest, her brief appearance was probably the best scene in the film. But not even Swinton’s spectacular appearance could not overshadow what I feel was the best performance in the movie – namely that of Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin, a cynical red dwarf. I really enjoyed his sharp and caustic take on the dwarf, who is skeptic of the idea of Aslan and magic.

As much as I enjoyed ”Prince Caspian”, I must admit that I found it no more remarkable than the first. Also, I found it difficult to maintain interest in the film’s first half, as it switched back and forth between Caspian’s flight from his murderous uncle and the Pevensies’ arrival in Narnia. Director Andrew Adamson seemed to lack George Lucas and Peter Jackson’s talent for seemless transition between multiple storylines within one film. But once the Pevensies and Caspian finally met, the movie seemed to discover its pace as it flowed toward the heroes’ ill-fated attempt to attack upon Miraz and the final showdown. There were two scenes that gave me a sense of déjà vu – namely the attacks of the trees and the river god upon the Telmarine army. It seemed as if either Adamson or Lewis had a Tolkien moment. The attack of the trees especially reminded me of the Ents’ attack upon Isengard in ”LORD OF THE RINGS: The Two Towers”.

”Prince Caspian” is not the greatest movie I have seen this summer. Nor is there anything unique about it. But if one can overcome the fact that it is not an exact adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ novel, anyone might find the movie quite entertaining to watch. I heartily recommend it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

"The Rain Chronicles" [PG] - Book V




"The Rain Chronicles" [PG] - Book V

Rain Robinson of ”Future’s End” ends up on Voyager, following her adventures with Tom Paris and Tuvok in late 20th century Earth. Here is Book V.

-------------

RAIN ROBINSON - JUNE 9, 2373:

Voyager is at some space station near the edge of an area called the Nekrit Expanse. There, Neelix had a reunion with an old friend named Wixiban. I'm glad. Ever since he and Kes broke up, he has been in the dumps. He also confessed a fear that Captain Janeway might toss him off the ship, now that Voyager will be traveling through an area unfamiliar to him. I think the poor man is suffering from a major identity crisis. But then, aren't we all?

I also encountered one of B'Elanna Torres' engineers. He's a Vulcan named Vorik. Unlike Tuvok, his skin is pale and he's also a lot younger. Don't get me wrong. I like Tuvok, but he does remind me of some elder statesman, sometimes. Vorik seems friendlier. Warmer. He even volunteered to fix the replicator in my quarters. Maybe I'll get a chance to know him, better.


LIEUTENANT B'ELANNA TORRES - STARDATE 50442.37:

Poor Neelix! He has certainly endured a lot over the past month or so. First, Kes breaks up their relationship for good. And now, he has to spend the next two months, scrubbing dilithium chambers. Punishment from Janeway for getting involved in an illegal drug deal. Neelix, a drug dealer. I just can't imagine!

Neelix and his friend's little drug trade also resulted in a murder on the station. Which led to Chakotay and Tom being arrested for the crime. I was nearly beside myself when I heard the news. Rain Robinson didn't seem concerned. Which struck me as very odd. But then, her attitude toward Tom has been odd ever since she boarded this ship. Perhaps she doesn't love him, after all.


RAIN ROBINSON - JUNE 10, 2373:

When I heard that Tom had been arrested for murder, I nearly had a fit! It was all I could do from storming Captain Janeway's office and demand that she do something about Tom. Until I remembered that Tom has no feelings toward me, other than as a friend. Since he's so interested in B'Elanna Torres, I decided that she should be the one to storm the Captain's office.

Ensign Vorik finally came by to fix my replicator. Like I said before, he's a nice guy. We even have something in common - we both enjoy mountain climbing and are very good at it. He told me a lot about Vulcan - the people, the language, and its history. According to him, Vulcans and Humans first met some 210 years ago, when a Vulcan scout ship had detected a warp signature in Earth space. I recall reading about the Federation's "First Contact" from the ship's database. And about Ephram Cochrane.

For some reason, Tom and Lieutenant Torres popped into my mind. I began wondering about the Vulcans' first contact with the Klingons. Or Earth's. When I brought up the subject of Klingons with Ensign Vorik, two odd things happened. One, a strange light appeared in his eyes. And two, he began praising B'Elanna's name to the skies. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear that Vorik had a crush on her.

"Excuse me, Ensign," I began, curious over Vorik's behavior, "do you have feelings for . . . uh, Lieutenant Torres?"

He looked startled for a moment. Like a kid whose hand had been caught inside the cookie jar. "I, uh . . ." He blinked. Then, "Why yes. As a Vulcan, I have the greatest respect for Lieutenant Torres. She is a competent chief engineer and commanding officer." His voice seemed calm and full of respect. But his eyes told another story. They practically brimmed with deep emotion. Strange, considering what I've heard about Vulcans. Looks like B'Elanna has two men mooning over her. Figures.


RAIN ROBINSON - JUNE 18, 2373:

Busy day for me, today. I got to experience my first inversion nebula. I must admit that I found it just as thrilling, viewing it from the Bridge. Especially since I never saw those super novas, from last month. I may not be that crazy about Janeway, but I am grateful that she allowed me on the Bridge to view the nebula. I must thank Jenny, Megan and Tuvok for asking her permission.

Later this evening, Neelix hosted a luau in Holodeck Two. It was great! Well, at first. Polynesian music, exotic drinks (I asked for a Mai Tai, of course), and great food. I managed to replicate this deep blue dress with white orchid prints and a halter top. Ensign Pat Mulcahey seemed particularly enamored of the dress. He even asked if I would like to share a private table. But I said no. He's a nice looking guy, but a little too shallow for my tastes.

Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay arrived at the holodeck, arm-in-arm. They looked like the happy couple - she, smiling at the partygoers and he, shooting love-sick glances her way, when she wasn't looking. Poor sap. He must really be infatuated with her.

The Doctor was also there, with a girl on each arm, looking like the star of "Bond Goes Hawaiian". And then there was Tuvok, the last person I had expected to appear at this bash. Strange, he's a bigger loner than I am. I wonder what drew him to the luau? Seconds after his arrival, Tuvok's eyes focused upon some blond holocharacter, playing a game. Ah hah! So, that's why he decided to break his "fortress of solitude" and join the party.

Not long after Tuvok appeared, new arrivals joined the luau. It was Tom and B'Elanna. She wore a nice, white dress with thin straps and maroon flower prints. It went well with her skin tone. Tom wore this cool Hawaiian shirt that reminded me of the ones my dad used to wear. Of course, that pleasant memory faded, once I realized how perfect they looked together.

Then I saw the most amazing thing. Vorik appeared at B'Elanna's side and said something to her, causing her eyes to grow wide. And Tom's. Like a zombie in a horror film. Still in a state of shock, B'Elanna allowed Vorik to lead her to a private table. And there stood Tom, looking like a big chump. Interesting.


LIEUTENANT B'ELANNA TORRES - STARDATE 50462.21:

What in the hell was I thinking? Why did I allow Vorik to lead me away from Tom, like that? It was not what I had expected. Or wanted.

I had expected an evening with Tom, Harry and Vorik. I wanted an evening with Tom. Alone. Harry didn't bother to show up. Vorik suddenly remembered a conversation about my favorite view and took advantage of the situation. I felt so surprised that I didn't bother to put up any resistance.

Then something worse happened. Tom's gaze shifted from Vorik and myself to Rain Robinson. And although she was surrounded by the Delaneys, Pat Mulcahey, Ken Dalby and Chell, her eyes managed to return Tom's gaze. And for a brief moment, I had the feeling of watching electricity sizzle between two entities. Thank Kahless, Rain finally looked away and remained with her friends. Despite her eventual rejection, that exchange of looks told me one thing - Tom has not lost interest in the woman from the past. And I suspect that she feels the same.


RAIN ROBINSON - JULY 16, 2373:

Voyager has come upon a planet rich with gallicite. According to Jenny, gallicite is a mineral substance used for the construction of warp field coils. I'm not going to get into what the hell all of this means, other than it has something to do with the ship's ability to travel at a fast speed. The name of the planet is called Sakaris IV and the ship is now orbiting around it. Jenny also told me that B'Elanna Torres will be leading a team to collect the gallicite.

Where do I fit in all this? Well, the original team was supposed to consist of B'Elanna, Neelix, Vorik and Tom, who is also a climbing expert. Apparently, Vorik went berserk in Engineering and tried to attack B'Elanna. I knew he was crazy about her, but this is ridiculous. I wonder what made him, of all people, go off the deep end like that? Anyway, to make a long story short, guess who has been chosen to replace Vorik on the mission? That's right! Me. Someone - either Vorik, Tom, Neelix, or one of the Delaneys - must have informed the Captain about my particular skill. I don't know who, but I am grateful. After spending over two months in space, I'll finally have the opportunity to get off this damn ship. Hell, I've been going stir crazy!


LIEUTENANT B'ELANNA TORRES - STARDATE 50541.36:

Everything has gone to hell, thanks to that p'taq, Vorik! Him and his damn pon far! I should have known something was amiss when he proposed marriage to me! Naturally, I said no. What made that idiot think I would ever be interested in him? After I rejected him, that . . . that bastard attacked me, by trying to establish a mind meld. I paid him back by breaking his jaw. Too bad the Doctor healed it immediately. I would have liked to see him suffer.

After Vorik's attack, everything seemed like a haze. Neelix mentioned to the Captain, a possible candidate to replace Vorik. I didn't think we need one. Neelix and Tom would have suited me just fine. To my surprise, it turned out to be Rain Robinson. Great! Now, I'll have deal with the Blast From the Past, cozying up to Tom during the entire mission. Huh! Not if I can help it! I became determined to make sure that she would not occupy much of Tom's attention. Damn pon far playing upon my aggressiveness, I guess.

As we climbed down into one of the underground caves on Sakaris IV, Neelix's climbing piston malfunctioned. He dropped to the bottom, taking me along for the ride. Neelix broke his leg. I bruised my shoulder, sprained my ankle and lost my temper. Even worse, I bit Tom's chin in a fit of anger and desire, declaring him as my mate in the worst Klingon manner. Kahless! I never thought Human blood could taste so . . . intoxicating! But I didn't hang around to deal with my actions. Especially with Miss "Know-It-All" Robinson witnessing the entire scene.

Someone must have informed Voyager on what happened. Probably Tom. Not long after I had found a supply of gallicite, Tom and Rain arrived, with Chakotay and Tuvok in tow. I really didn't notice the others. Only Tom. Everyone tried to explain that I had been afflicted with the pon far and need to return to the ship. I didn't know what the hell they were talking about. I was too dizzy and simply longed to be with Tom. Alone.

It never happened. Several Sakarians decided to make their presence know. There was this avalanche and the next thing I knew, I was alone with Tom. And Rain Robinson. As if matters couldn't get any worse. I tried to ignore her, pretend that she didn't exist. Unfortunately, it didn't help. Especially after I . . . oh God! What the hell was I thinking? I guess I simply couldn't keep my hands off Tom any longer. There seemed to be this fever within me, urging me to mate with him. So, I tried to seduce him. Right in front of Rain. When he rejected me, it simply became too much. I attacked him. Tackled him to the ground, determined to . . . I guess I wanted to have sex with him. The idea of his body pressing against mine, and the touch of those hands just overwhelmed me.

Two things happened. Rain tried to intervene and I tossed her aside like a rag doll. Then Tom scrambled away from my grip and out of harm's way. Even worse, he began paying attention to Rain, who seemed to be hurt. I thought she was faking, until Tom declared that I had sprained her shoulder. Oddly enough, I felt frustrated, instead of embarrassed.

Things got hazy again, when we finally reconciled with Tuvok and Chakotay. Tuvok, bless him, insisted that Tom mate with me in order to quench my plak-tow - my blood fever. And this time, Rain would not be able to stop us. She didn't, but that p'taq, Vorik, did. He had escaped Voyager and interrupted what could have been some great sex. Goddamn Vulcan! Vorik challenged Tom for my hand! I didn't need Tom or anyone else to kick that bastard's ass! I did it myself. Thoroughly.

But it's over now. My fever is gone, and so is my opportunity with Tom. He has seen my . . . well, my Klingon side at its worse. Kahless! I must have really scared him off. Looks like Rain will have him all to herself. Damn!


END OF BOOK V

Another "QUANTUM OF SOLACE" Gallery



Below is another group of photos from the set of the new James Bond movie, "QUANTUM OF SOLACE":


ANOTHER "QUANTUM OF SOLACE" GALLERY






































Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Crossroads of the Force" [PG-13] - Chapter Nine




"CROSSROADS OF THE FORCE"


CHAPTER NINE

WORLPORT, ORD MANTELL

Anakin glanced out of the window of his hotel room and watched the rain beat upon the windowpane. Apparently the rain had failed to cease, despite a new day. He wondered if it would ever stop before his departure from Ord Mantell. Twenty-five years ago, he would have rejoiced at such weather after dealing with Tatooine's hot and dry climate. But he had not set foot upon Tatooine in eleven years. And advancing age and experience has taught him to appreciate . . . variety.

A quick glance at the chronometer informed Anakin that it was now eight minutes past seven in the morning. The hotel's restaurants should have opened by now. Familiar with Ord Mantell, Anakin knew of a quaint café located eighty centimeters east of the Hotel Grand. Like The Burning Musk in Corellia's capital, the Blue Jewel Café provided abundant meals at a low cost. The small restaurant happened to be a favorite of both Anakin and Han's.

After an early morning shower and a change of clothes, Anakin left his bedroom and made his way into the suite's living room. Normally, he and Han would not have checked into such an expensive room. But Senator Dahlma had wanted them nearby and was generous enough to pay for half of the suite's rates.

The living room remained semi-dark, despite the glimmer of light from the rain-stained windows. Loud snores drifted from inside the suite's other bedroom. Anakin allowed himself a brief smile. His young Corellian partner remained asleep. As he inched toward the door, Anakin nearly stumbled across a pair of long legs stretched across the floor. The former Jedi Knight closed his eyes to sense the presence of the legs' owner. Chewbacca.

Anakin finally made it to the door and stepped out of the suite and into the corridor. He glanced to his right and spotted a petite, dark-haired female with her back facing him. For a moment, Anakin believed her to be Igraine Colbert. Until he recalled that the Maldarian woman and her employer resided in the suite to his left. Anakin frowned at the woman's back. A tingling sensation raised the hair on the back of his neck. Why did she look . . .?

A loud thump from inside the suite interrupted his thoughts. Anakin turned away from the woman and opened the suite's door. ". . . careful with those legs, you big furball!" Han's voice boomed. "I nearly broke my neck!" A loud roar followed.

Anakin heaved a long-suffering sigh. Apparently, Han and Chewbacca had finally awaken. And it also looked as if the addition of the Wookie to their crew promised to make their lives a lot more interesting. Anakin re-entered the suite, as he prepared to act as mediator between the Corellian and Chewbacca.

--------

The loud thump from behind startled Padme as she prepared to lock her hotel room. A man's voice cried out, ". . . careful with those legs, you big furball!" A roar or a fearsome growl followed.

Padme frowned. That last voice sounded like it belonged to a Wookie. She had not laid eyes upon one since her years as a Galactic senator. Senator Yarua of Kashyyyk had been one of the Galactic Senate's more distinguished members. She whirled around and spotted a tall man clad in dark clothes enter one of the rooms along the corridor. A tingling sensation pricked the back of her neck. The man had a familiar air about him - his height, his stance and the color of his ha . . .

"Ready for breakfast, I see!" a familiar voice boomed. Padme glanced over her shoulder and found Bail and Master Olin striding toward her. The Alderaanian prince frowned. "Is there something wrong, Milady? You seem . . . perturbed."

Padme allowed herself a brief smile. "Good morning, gentlemen."

Bail returned her greeting. "Good morning. Is there something wrong? Just a minute ago, you had this odd expression on your face."

Padme glanced at the former Jedi padawan and noticed the dazed expression on his face. "You mean, like Master Olin?"

"Ye . . ." Bail paused, as he stared at Olin. "Ferus, is there a problem?"

With the slight frown still stamped on his face, the former Jedi answered, "I don't know. I had sensed something. A presence I have not felt in . . . years."

"You too?" The two men directed their gaze at Padme. She added. "I felt a similar sensation."

Bail released a gust of breath. "Well, this is very odd. Why don't we all discuss this during breakfast, downstairs?"

Padme wanted to investigate the man she had briefly spotted a few minutes ago. But she decided that Bail's idea seemed the best course of action. Knocking on some stranger's door to learn whether she knew him seemed out of place for someone of her character. She gave Bail a warm smile. "Breakfast, it is."

Nearly twelve minutes later, the trio found themselves sitting at a table in one of the hotel's restaurants on the ground floor. Master Olin glanced uneasily around the dining room. "Are you sure that it is wise to have breakfast in such a . . . public place, Your Highness?"

"Don't worry Ferus," Bail replied with a reassuring smile. "This restaurant has just opened and there is barely a soul, here. Besides, it has been eleven years since Senator Amidala has been seen in public. She is not dressed to attract attention. I doubt that anyone, aside from a Jedi, would recognize her. Especially in a haven for smugglers like Ord Mantell."

The former Jedi nodded. "And what about you, Your Highness? You're still a highly visible public figure."

Amusement glittered in Bail's dark eyes. "I must say that you are vigilant, Ferus. I have picked the right man for the job. Don't worry. I have a cover story . . . in case someone does recognize me."

Olin responded with a wan smile. But it seemed clear to Padme that he was not appeased by Bail's assurances. A waitress appeared at their table and asked for their order. Once the waitress left, Padme spotted Zoebeida Dahlma and another woman entering the restaurant. The Maldarian senator acknowledged Padme and Bail with a polite smile and continued on to another table.

Bail's gaze remained fixed on the Maldarian women. "Padme, do you have any Maldarian ancestry, by any chance?"

"Not that I know of," Padme replied. "Why?"

"You and Zoebeida Dahlma's aide strongly resemble you. Perhaps she has Nabooan ancestry."

Padme glanced at Dahlma's aide. The young woman seemed to possess her height, coloring and full mouth. But Padme saw a difference. "You really think so? Her eyes are different. Green. And they're smaller. In fact, she reminds me of Queen Apailana."

Bail shook his head. "Poor Apailana. When I had learned of her death, I thought it was a shame that she had died so young. How old was she?"

A small ball of guilt wormed its way into Padme's chest. "She had been twelve when she had succeeded Jamilla as Naboo's queen." She sighed. "I've always regretted convincing Apailana to call for an election in order to force Jamilla from the throne."

"Why did you do it?" Bail asked.

"I began to suspect Jamilla of developing sympathies toward the Separatists." Padme allowed herself a slight, bitter smile. "I thought she would lead Naboo against the Republic. Little did I know that I would harbor similar sympathies within a year. And poor Apailana would end up being assassinated by the Empire at such a young age."

A frowning Bail shook his head. "Exactly how did you learn that the Empire had killed her? I thought only a few of us knew, considering the official word was that she had been assassinated by terrorists."

"Someone . . . a close acquaintance had informed me." Inwardly, Padme recalled learning the news from her family during a secret trip to Naboo. "My grandmother had died around the same time."

To Padme's surprise, Master Olin added, "I was there. When Queen Apailana had been killed. His Highness is aware of this."

Bail nodded. "Ferus was with a group of Jedi fugitives, at the time. Their presence attracted the attention of Lord Rasche."

"The Emperor's apprentice had killed her?" Padme demanded.

Olin shook his head. "No, it was a sharpshooter. A member of the 501st Legion under Rom . . . Lord Rasche's command." The former Jedi revealed how the Imperials had captured him on Coruscant, during an attempt to seek another Jedi fugitive. "I had met someone named Inquisitor Malorum, who was interested in you, Senator Amidala. He believed that you had given birth to a child before your death. A friend helped me escaped and we learned that Malorum was on his way to Naboo to question your family. I suspect . . ." He paused, wearing a grave expression. "I suspect that Malorum was responsible for your grandmother's death."

Padme felt her heart twist. Once again, her actions ended up having a negative impact upon someone close to her. This time . . . her grandmother. Her family had revealed that an inquisitor had been responsible for Ryoo Thule's death. But she had no idea that her marriage to Anakin and her children's existence was responsible.

According to Olin, the Empire became aware of the Jedi presence on Naboo. "We befriended a Gungan pilot, who introduced us to his leader, a Boss . . ."

"Boss Nass." Padme nodded. "Yes, he was an old friend of mine."

Olin continued, "Boss Nass and I decided to acquire Queen Apailana's help in getting rid of Malorum and the Imperial presence on the planet." His face grew tight, as he looked away. "Although I did managed to kill Malorum, the Empire managed to defeat us. They killed the Queen and the Jedi with her. We left Naboo, after that."

Bail heaved a mournful sigh. "Poor Apailana. I'm surprised that the Emperor did not place a strong military presence on Naboo."

Padme quietly said, "According to my contact, the new queen Kylantha had decided to openly accept the Imperial explanation that a terrorist group had killed Apailana. I can only assume that she did not want to deal with a heavy Imperial occupation." She turned to Olin. "What happened to you, once you left Naboo?"

The former Jedi stiffly replied, "Nothing much. I simply continued my activities against the Empire. Until I . . . parted ways from my friends." A gust of breath left his mouth. "Will you please excuse me? I am not feeling hungry at the moment." Olin bowed at the two friends. "Your Highness, Milady." And he walked away.

Padme's eyes remained fixed upon the former padawan's retreating figure. "Something is bothering him. And it has nothing to do with Naboo."

"Perhaps it is that familiar presence he had earlier spoke of," Bail suggested.

"Perhaps." Padme took a sip of water. "But there is also the matter of Mon. Remember? She claimed to have seen Master Olin on Coruscant." Padme paused. "Recently, I might add."

Bail's dark eyes bored into Padme's. "Are you suggesting that Ferus Olin might be an Imperial spy?"

The incredulous expression on Bail's face led Padme to wonder if she had been mistaken. Until she recalled Master Olin's uncomfortable expression when Mon Mothma had questioned him about Coruscant . . . and his reluctance to discuss his life following his experiences on Naboo. "I realize the man is a former Jedi, Bail," she continued, "but my gut feeling tells me that he has something to hide."

A sigh left Bail's mouth. "Padme, Master Olin has lived on Alderaan for almost four years. And ever since Lord Rasche's unexpected appearance, ten years ago, we have kept a close surveillance on any outbound communication between Alderaan and other systems. It was Cousin Raymus who had suggested that Ferus accompany me on this trip."

In other words, Ferus Olin could not have recent contact with Coruscant . . . or be an Imperial agent. Padme felt slightly embarrassed. "Oh dear," she murmured. "My mistake."

"I understand. You're simply being careful."

Padme added, "Or perhaps eleven years as a fugitive has made me . . . paranoid." She glanced to her left and spotted their waitress. "Oh look. Our breakfast has arrived." On that note, the two friends ceased their discussion of their Jedi protector and began to discuss another topic.

---------

MALAG, MALDORE


Mako Spince descended the Alastian Star's ramp, as his new client entered the hangar. "Here she is!" he declared. "The Alastian Star. One of the fastest ships in the galaxy." Then he stared pointedly at the other man. "And you're fifteen minutes late."

Looking slightly pinched, Chattal Rahm responded in a tight voice, "I had no choice. The Imperials are still in the city and I believe they are searching for me. The sooner we leave the bet . . ." A slight thump interrupted his last words. The Maldarian frowned. "What as that sound?" He stared at Mako. "Didn't you hear it?"

A perturbed Mako sharply replied, "Yeah I did. And I think you better board the ship. Now!”

Rahm had not taken two steps toward the Alastian Star before a squad of Imperial stormtroopers materialized from behind columns of crates, stacked near the wall. The Maldarian whipped out a blaster pistol and began to fire. Mako followed suit. At least two troopers caught the blasts of their weapons before a third trooper shot Rahm squarely in the chest. The Maldarian fell to the ground with a cry on his lips.

Mako shot a horrified look at his fallen client and rushed toward the Alastian Star’s ramp. He overheard a voice from behind cry out, “Stun him!” Before the Corellian could reach the boarding ramp, he felt a blast of hot energy strike him in the back. A grunt escaped his lips before everything went black.


END OF CHAPTER NINE

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL" Photo Gallery




"INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL" (2008) Photo Gallery

Below is a gallery of photos and wallpaper from the latest installment in the Indiana Jones franchise:

















































Monday, May 26, 2008

"Obssessions" [PG-13] - Chapter 16





"OBSSESSIONS"

Part 16

Darryl parked the sedan across the street from Nick Marcano's apartment building. "Okay," he said to his companions, "we're here. I sure wish we had a squad car or two for backup."

"Somehow, I don't think that police backup will help." The words came from Paul Margolin, who sat in the car's back seat. He had accompanied Darryl and Olivia to Marcano's apartment in North Beach. "Especially if there's a chance he's involved with a demon or warlock," the ADA added.

Olivia said, "To be honest, I'm not sure about us being here. Other than Nick, I have no idea who or what we'll be facing. I hope that Nick won't give us any trouble, when we arrest him. I can't believe that he's behind all this."

"At least the Captain will be very happy," Darryl added. "He's been pressuring me to find a suspect for nearly a week. And now that we have one, we might as well deal with him. I just . . . I don't know. I still wish we had backup." He opened the door and climbed out of the car. Olivia and Margolin followed. The trio crossed the street and entered the apartment building.

Once inside, they paid a visit to the building's manager and demanded the key to Nick's apartment. The manager happily obliged - especially after Darryl showed him the search warrant. Once the trio reached outside Marcano's apartment, Darryl hesitated. "Think he's here? Marcano?" he asked.

"Well, we called his office," Olivia reminded her partner. "And he wasn't there."

Darryl knocked on the door. Seconds passed and no one answered. Then Olivia knocked. "Nick? It's Olivia McNeill. Are you home?"

More silence greeted the trio. Olivia suggested to Darryl that he use the key he had received from the manager. The two partners whipped out their revolvers. After Darryl unlocked the door, the two police officers and the ADA entered the apartment. "What exactly are we looking for?" Margolin asked.

Olivia replied, "Anything that can lead us to Nick's whereabouts. Or at least link him to DeWolfe Mann's death." She began to rummage through Marcano's desk.

Darryl went inside the bedroom and began his search with a highboy dresser. He did not find anything important, but he did notice that some of Marcano's clothing seemed to be missing. But he did find an interesting piece of female clothing behind the dresser. Everything else seemed to be normal. However, Darryl noticed that a few personal items seemed to be missing. Like a toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant.

Then his eyes fell upon the sink. Darryl noticed a faint red streak on the edge. One touch indicated that it was dry. After removing a napkin and a pair of tweezers from his pocket, he delicately scraped at the red streak, using the tweezers. Then he brushed some of the residue onto the napkin. Darryl only hoped that his efforts would amount to something. Or that his "evidence" would not linger in Forensics for a week.

Just as he left the bathroom, Darryl overheard Olivia cry out, "Found something!" He rushed into the living room and spotted his red-haired partner waving a thick book in the air. "I found this in a tote bag, underneath the desk." Olivia glanced at it. "Looks like a library book. Huh. It's a book on . . . demonology?"

"On what?" Darryl took the book from Olivia's hand. He read the title. "FORMMAN'S ENCYCLOPEDIA ON WORLD DEMONOLOGY?" What the hell?" Then he peered inside the book. "Damn, this thing is old! Published in 1932."

Olivia nodded. "I know. I have a copy of it, at home." She retrieved the book. "And it looks as if I was right about Nick summoning a daemon to kill Bruce. The problem is we don't know what kind of daemon he had summoned." She sighed. "God, I wish that Cole was here."

Darryl noticed the dark look that flitted across Margolin's face. "Why?" the latter demanded. "We seem to be doing fine on our own."

"Because he was trying to get information on Miss Della Scalla, last night," Olivia explained. "From another daemon."

Margolin's mouth formed a tight line. "So, Belthazor is still in contact with other demons? I thought he had put that life behind him."

Olivia heaved a deep sigh. "You're not going to have a problem with Cole, are you Paul? Yes, he's still in contact with other daemons. They're a source of information. Besides, Cole's friend had promised he would find all he can about . . . or whatever her name."

"Can he be trusted?" Darryl wondered if Margolin meant Cole or the other demon. Fortunately, the ADA clarified matters. "This friend of Belthazor's. Can he be trusted?"

Shrugging her shoulders, Olivia replied, "I wouldn't know. I've never met this Riggerio, but I've heard of him. Very . . . ambiguous. He's a daemon known among Stregheria practioners."

"Stregheria. Like Nick," Darryl added.

Olivia nodded. "Precisely. It was Aunt Car . . . Mom's friend, Carla, who once told me about Riggerio. I just wish she were here in town. She could have told us about Portia."

One glance at the ADA told Darryl that the former still disapproved of Cole's decision to seek help from another demon. Probably disapproved of Cole, period. Darryl would have understood over two years ago. But now, he only wished that Margolin would learn to be a little more open-minded.

"I've been going through Marcano's dresser," Darryl added. "Looks like he's packed a few things. And his suitcase is missing. But I found this." He held up the piece of clothing found behind the highboy. A half-slip. "And this." He displayed the residue of dried blood inside the folded napkin.

Olivia grabbed the half-slip. "This must belong to Miss Della Scalla."

"That's what I figured," Darryl said.

Margolin asked, "If this Nick and his suitcase are missing, where is he?"

Darryl's cell phone rang. He answered it. "Hello? Oh, Phoebe. Wha . . .?" He fell silent, while the witch explained a premonition that she had experienced. Once she finished, he said, "Look Phoebe, if you're having trouble in reaching Leo, call Paige. I'm sure that she can get you to the McNeills' home in time." From the corner of his eye, he saw Olivia turn pale. "We'll see you there. Bye." He disconnected his phone.

Concern flared in Olivia's green eyes. "The McNeills' home? What's going on, Darryl?"

"That was Phoebe. She had a premonition of Bruce being kidnapped by Portia Della Scalla. And Piper can't get a hold of Leo."

Margolin added, "Then we better get over there, as soon as possible. And stop her." He turned to Olivia, who looked very upset. "Perhaps you better give your brother a call. That is, if he's at home."

"Yeah. Right." Olivia retrieved her cell phone from her purse. "God, I knew I should have called Bruce, again!"

Meanwhile, Darryl dialed the number to the precinct. And placed an All Points Bulletin for one Nicholas Marcano.

* * * *

The telephone rang. Paige rushed toward the counter to answer. "Ostera's," she greeted politely. "How may I help you?"

"Paige? It's Piper." The oldest Charmed One's voice sounded urgent. "Listen, can you orb to Phoebe's office at the BAY-MIRROR and pick us up? We have an emergency."

The youngest Charmed One glanced at her boss, who was busy with a customer. "Uh, what kind of emergency?"

Piper sighed. "Of the demonic kind. Look, I don't have time to explain. We need you. Now. I'm sure that Barbara would understand. It involves Bruce."

"Bruce? What about him?" Paige spoke loud enough to capture Barbara's attention. The latter shot a quick glance at her.

"Phoebe saw him being kidnapped by that Portia woman. Now get your butt over here, so we can save him!"

A sigh left Paige's mouth. She hated it when Piper assumed a bossy attitude. It made her elder sister seem bitchy - a trait that did not suit Piper at all. As much as she loved Piper, the latter never struck Paige as a natural leader. "All right, Piper! Gee! I'll be there as soon as I tell Barbara."

After she hung up, Paige looked at Barbraa. The latter turned over the customer to the shop's other assistant, Madeline. Then she approached Paige. "What's going on?" she demanded. "Is it Bruce? Is he in trouble?"

"Yeah. Um, that was Piper." Paige went on to describe her sister's news about Phoebe's premonition and Leo's missing status. "They need me to orb them over to the McNeills' house and . . ."

Barbara immediately interjected, "I'm going with you." She turned to Madeline, who had just bid a customer good-bye a few minutes ago. "Maddy, Paige and I have an emergency. We'll be gone for a few hours."

"But my lunch . . ." the younger woman protested.

"Don't worry. I'll give you an extra hour or two of overtime. We'll be back." Barbara led Paige to the storeroom. "Okay, let's go," she quietly ordered. The pair immediately orbed from the store.

* * * *

About fifteen minutes before Phoebe had experienced her premonition, Harry sat inside his father's study, working on a merger proposition between McNeill Corporation and a real estate company. Unfortunately, his mind seemed to linger on something other than his work. Matters like his older brother's odd behavior and the voice he thought he had overheard, last night.

Harry realized that there was no way a daemon or any other magical being could have entered the house. Not without the protection spell that Gran had cast over the house. Unless . . . Harry immediately dismissed the disturbing thought. No. If someone had managed to enter Bruce's apartment, he or possibly she had to be strong enough to bypass the spell. Or . . . Harry realized that he could not deny it any longer. The possibility that someone inside the house had removed the spell.

Heaving a sigh, Harry left the study and began a tour of the house, to check on the protection herbs. Ten minutes later, he discovered, to his dismay, that every sprig of Mallow planted around the house, had disappeared. Who had removed . . .?

The disturbing thought returned. That and memories of Bruce's behavior, this morning. Harry began to wonder if his older brother had been responsible for the removal of the Mallow. Determined to find out, he made his way upstairs, to Bruce's bedroom. As he raised his hand to knock on the door, Harry could hear a voice. A woman's voice that sounded very familiar. A mental alert rang inside his head. This time, he planned to discover the identity of Bruce's visitor. As he grasped the doorknob, Harry gently opened the door.

Inside, he saw a beautiful, dark-haired woman on the edge of Bruce's bed, leaning over the older man's inert figure. "What the hell?" Harry cried out. The woman's head whipped around. Sherry-brown eyes flew open. "Who the hell are you?"

The woman slowly rose from the bed. Her eyes widened further, as she stared at Harry. A sudden attack of lethargy overcame him, and he found himself struggling to remain conscious. "Sleep," he heard the woman command. "do not fight it." Harry's knees gave way and he slowly slid to the floor. "Yes, yes," the woman murmured in her soft accent, "allow the sleep to wash over you."

"No!" Using every ounce of his will and his telepathy, Harry deflected the woman's psychic attack. She gasped out loud and fell to her knees. Harry crawled toward her, as he used his mind to apply pressure to hers. She clasped both hands to each side of her head and screamed. Then she disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Harry sighed with relief and slowly rose to his feet. He took one step toward the bed, when the woman reappeared. "Hey!" he cried. She smiled at him, grabbed Bruce's arm and disappeared. This time, with the oldest McNeill sibling in tow.

Oh no! Panic struck Harry. He had failed to save Bruce, despite his best efforts. Shit! What the hell was he supposed to do, now? At first, Harry considered calling his parents or grandmother. Then he thought of one person truly capable of tracking down Bruce. He reached for the cordless telephone on the nightstand and dialed the number for the offices of Jackman, Kline and Carter.

* * * *

Cole glanced at the clock on his desk and sighed with relief. Two minutes past noon. Which meant it was time for lunch. Only he did not feel like eating. A liquid lunch seemed more preferable. Something alcoholic.

This morning, he barely had time to recover from his latest one-night stand, when he realized that he had to go to work. Encountering Olivia in the building's parking lot had done nothing for his mood. Cole still felt embarrassed over her discovery of the lipstick on his chin. And a little pissed. After all, who in the hell was she to strike an attitude over his late night activities? Especially since she had dinner with her saintly new ADA, last night. God only knew what else happened between them once that dinner ended.

And yet, Cole could not rid himself of the guilt or the embarrassment. Or the longing for a return to their old relationship. Before Paul Margolin had entered their lives. It would be even better if they could take their relationship toward a new . . . The intercom box on his desk buzzed. "Mr. Turner," his assistant announced, "you have a call on Line 3. It's Harry McNeill."

Harry? Why would he be calling around this time of the day? Cole calmed down and replied, "Thanks Eleanor. Buzz him through." She connected the call to Cole's desk and he answered. "Hello? Harry?"

The youngest McNeill literally shouted into the phone. "Cole! Thank God I reached you! I need your help! Badly!"

"Harry, calm down. What's wrong?"

"It's Bruce," Harry continued. "He's gone!" The young witch went on to explain about the demonic visitor that had snatched Bruce. Judging from the kidnapper's description, Cole realized that Portia Della Scalla had paid a visit. His mind on the present emergency, Cole sat up in his chair. "Listen Harry, get a hold of Olivia, Leo, your parents, or anyone who might help. Don't . . . don't worry, Harry! I'll help as well. Listen, make sure that you tell Olivia first. I have something to do, first."

"Oh. Okay," Harry replied. "Anything else?"

An idea came to Cole. "Remember how you managed to tap into Phoebe's premonition, last fall? Just before she and her sisters got caught by those warlocks?"

Hesitation crept into Harry's voice. "Uh, yeah. Are you . . . are you suggesting that I . . .?"

"Harry, just try it. Try to make a connection with Bruce and find out where he is."

Harry replied doubtfully, "I don't know. I had only managed to connect with Phoebe by accident. I was meditating at the time."

"Well, a little meditation wouldn't help right now," Cole said. "Meanwhile, I have a little errand to run. It's regarding Bruce. I should be at your house, soon." He hung up before Harry could respond. Then Cole grabbed his jacket and left the office. "Eleanor," he said to his assistant, "I'll be out of the office for the rest of the day. If anyone calls or comes looking for me, tell them I'm at an important meeting."

Eleanor nodded. "Yes, Mr. Turner." But Cole barely heard her, as he marched toward the elevator.

* * * *

Seconds later, Cole materialized in the middle of a long corridor, deep within the Source's Realm. He immediately recognized the corridor as the very one that led to the Source's throne room. Dismissing memories that threatened to overwhelm him, Cole made his way toward the aforementioned room and entered.

"Who the hell are you?" a voice from behind, demanded.

Cole whirled around and faced a young man who looked to be in his twenties. The latter was of medium height and possessed dark hair, dark eyes and a swarthy complexion. There seemed to be something oddly familiar about him.

The young daemon repeated his question. "Who are you? What are . . .?" His dark eyes widened in recognition. "Belthazor! I mean you're the Source! The last Source!"

"And you are?" Cole demanded.

"Sirius." The demon stood proudly. "My father was Bacchus. He was part of the old Source's Council."

An image of an older version of Sirius popped into Cole's head. "Of course! Bacchus was also part of my council. You . . . uh, you look a lot like your father. Was he among those who perished when the Seer tried to become the new Source?"

Sirius shook his head. "No, he wasn't at the ceremony. He was killed six months later. By Barbas. Thankfully that bastard is dead."

"Yeah, thankfully," Cole murmured, recalling his part in Barbas' death.

Dark eyes swept over the older daemon. "It's good to see you again, Your Eminence. Are you here to reclaim leadership of the Realm?"

"No," Cole curtly replied.

Sirius frowned. "Then why are you here?"

Cole walked past the younger daemon and headed toward the altar. "I'm here for another matter. To retrieve something." He stepped behind the altar and used his telekinesis to remove a heavy stone embedded in the wall.

Sirius leaned over Cole, irritating the latter. "What are you doing? What is that?"

Cole held up a small black box. He replaced the stone. "A little personal item that I had left behind," he replied. "Now that I have it, I'll be on my way." He started to walk away from the altar. Sirius blocked his path. Cole glared at the younger daemon. "Look, do you mind getting out of my way?"

"No. I cannot allow you to leave with whatever you have. It belongs here."

A long sigh left Cole's mouth. "Actually, it doesn't. Not really. Now please, get out of my way." When the younger daemon refused to move, Cole's expression hardened. "Let me remind you of a few facts of life, Sirius. One, this realm is in chaos, which means there is no reason for you to act as guardian of the Source's throne room. Two, this little item in my hand does belong to someone else - another daemon - and I intend to return it to him. For a price. And three, if you don't get out of my way, I will kill you." Cole took a threatening step forward. "Slowly and painfully. And you're not strong enough to stop me."

A few seconds passed before Sirius finally stepped aside. He seemed to humiliated and embarrassed to face Cole. Which produced a spark of pity within the latter. Cole gave the younger daemon a quick punch to the shoulder. "Look, there's no reason to feel humiliated. Neither your father or the Old Source would have been able to stop me. Besides, you strike me as an intelligent person. Like your father. Keep it up and you might have an important place if the Source's Realm ever becomes reorganized." Sirius gave Cole a grateful nod, before the latter disappeared from the Source's chamber.


END OF PART 16

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"The Rain Chronicles" [PG] - Book IV




"The Rain Chronicles" [PG] - Book IV

Rain Robinson of ”Future’s End” ends up on Voyager, following her adventures with Tom Paris and Tuvok in late 20th century Earth. Here is Book IV.

-------------

LIEUTENANT TOM PARIS - STARDATE 50394.46:


Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would find myself torn by three people. Two women and a man. Sounds almost kinky, but it's a hell of a lot more serious than that.

Ever since Rain Robinson managed to sneak aboard Voyager, my emotional state has been in turmoil. When I told her that I had never met anyone like her, I had been serious. Serious, but not completely truthful. I have met another like Rain - B'Elanna Torres. Both are vibrant, intelligent and independent women. Both are also very fascinating. At first, the pair seemed to have one major difference. B'Elanna built walls to keep herself emotionally distant from others. Rain didn't. At least she didn't, until she boarded Voyager.

Once she found herself stuck aboard ship, Rain became distant. Cool. Especially toward me. Back in Los Angeles, she seemed determined to get to know me. Now, Rain barely acknowledges my presence. I don't think she wants anything to do with me and I don't know why! B'Elanna seemed the same as usual. A little distant, yet still friendly. Neither woman seemed interested in romance. And yet, I would gladly accept either of them into my arms.

Where does the man fit into the picture? Well, it's Harry. Quite simply, he does not like Rain. He did at first. But ever since she had caught him unawares with her less than pristine view of the Federation, he has become increasingly hostile toward her. Poor Harry. His view on life, especially life in the Federation always tended to border on the idyllic. Like so many, he considers Earth . . . (sigh) as Paradise. He has never really been aware of the Federation's . . . or should I say, humanity's darker side. And we still have one. I know from experience.

As Harry's friend, I have always tried to make him aware of life's dangers and disappointments as gently as possible. Unfortunately, Rain beat me to the punch (in a not so gentle manner). And in one conversation, came close to shattering Harry's illusions. No wonder he resents her.

Rain's remarks managed to circulate throughout the ship. Some (including the majority of former Maquis) applauded her realistic viewpoint. Others, mainly a lot of 'Fleeters, reacted with as much hostility as Harry did. And there were those like the Delaney sisters who merely accepted Rain's opinions as her own and continued on with their lives. Sensible people.

Did the Captain ever learn about Rain's comments in the Mess Hall? I don't know. Before any of us could find out, the Captain and Neelix had left Voyager to set up trade negotiations with a race called the Tik Tak.

* * * *

RAIN ROBINSON - May 26, 2373:

It did not take Captain Janeway long to learn about my little debate with Harry Kim in the Mess Hall. Who told her? I have no idea. Two days after it happened, she summoned me to her office. What she called her Ready Room.

After I had entered from the corridor, she indicated the empty chair opposite and smiled. "Sit down, Miss Robinson." As I did as she asked, her smile remained fixed upon her face. Most would describe it as warm. Not me. I found it almost wolfish. Hey, what can I say? My instincts were practically screaming at me that this lady was pissed. The Captain continued, "Miss Robinson, I understand that you brought up a certain topic in the Mess Hall, some two days ago. Regarding the Maquis." Her smile lost a touch of warmth.

As calmly as possible, I told her about the discussion between Ensign Kim and me. And how I brought up the Maquis.

She leaned forward - all earnest. "I can understand how the subject might have came up. But you must understand, the subject about the Maquis is very . . . well, very touchy on this ship. At least one-third of the crew are former members of the Maquis, including the First Officer and the Chief Engineer. We've spent at least two years trying to forge two factions into one working crew. And I would hate for our efforts to be disrupted by . . . let's just say careless talk." Another smile touched her lips.

I stared at her. "Careless?"

Blue-gray eyes hardened. "Let's be honest, shall we, Miss Robinson? Aside from what you may have read from the computer database, you really have no knowledge on the Maquis. Do you?"

"I guess not." I paused. "So what are the Maquis about?"

Janeway's eyes flickered. Perhaps she didn't expect me to ask that question. A moment later, she quickly recovered her composure. "If you insist, Miss Robinson. About six or seven years ago, the Federation had just ended a costly war with a species called Cardassians. Realizing that peace was the only way to stabilize the quadrant, the Federation and the Cardassians decided upon a cease fire and agreed to begin talks for a treaty."

She went on to describe the events I had already learned from the ship's computer. The peace negotiations, Cardassia's insistence upon settling the matter of sovereignty in the Demilitarized Zone, the Federation's decision to hand over their DMZ colonies to placate the Cardassians, the colonists' reaction and the formation of the Maquis. Her explanation nearly matched the entries from the computer - word by word. Must be the Federation mantra.

"May I ask you something?" I said, after the Captain finished.

Janeway gave me a wary look. "Yes?"

"When the . . . uh, Federation decided to hand over those colonies to the Cardassians, did they consider how the colonists would react?" She opened her mouth to speak. Not a word came out. Hell, not even a sound. Right then, I knew. "That's okay, Captain," I continued. "You've answered my question."

"No, you don't understand, Miss Robinson." What do you know? She has spoken at last! "The Federation had offered to relocate the colonists on other worlds. And they rejected our offer."

I nodded. "Yeah. I see. Only the colonists didn't want to move. Okay. I get it."

"Miss Robinson . . ."

But I didn't let her finish. "Hey, look Captain. If you're worried that I'll go spreading my opinion on the Maquis, don't be. I'll just find some other topic to discuss. You know . . . like crime statistics on Earth."

A glacial sheen covered Janeway's eyes. She gave me one of those 'you've overstayed your welcome' smiles. "This has been quite an . . . interesting conversation, Miss Robinson. That will be all."

"Yes Captain." I rose from my chair, gave her a nod and quickly left the room, via the corridor.

So, the Federation had offered to relocate the colonists in the DMZ, huh? Now they seemed like greedy landlords, trying to get rid of inconvenient tenants. As I had promised Janeway, I never brought up the subject again. I really didn't have a chance. Janeway and Neelix left Voyage for some diplomatic mission.

* * * *

RAIN ROBINSON - June 6, 2373:

Macroviruses. At least that's what the holographic doctor called the beings that attacked the ship. I personally named the entire incident as 'the Attack of the Killer Fleas'. Or mosquitoes. Judging from a brief glimpse of them, they looked more like mosquitoes.

It had all started when the Doctor went on a mission to respond to a distress call from some mining colony. At least, that's what he told me. He transported to the colony and found several being suffering from some disease. Both he and the First Officer, Commander Cha-ko-tay had thought sending a hologram would be safer. Well, they were wrong.

Like most insects, these macroviruses became attracted to the light - namely the light from the Doctor's holoimage. And he brought them back, upon his return to the ship. I had no idea what was going on, until I heard a loud, buzzing noise outside my quarters. I risked a peek outside and spotted something that resembled a giant mosquito, along the corridor. It only took one look and I immediately went back inside and locked the door.

I am happy to report that I managed to remain hidden from these macroviruses. It seemed pretty easy, hiding myself underneath the bed during the entire incident. I don't know how many hours or days had passed before Captain Janeway and the Doctor managed to destroy the macroviruses. But when the Captain announced "all clear" over the Communications system, it was a hungry and frightened woman who crawled from under her bed. Dammit! Why in the hell did I stowaway on this damn ship? Anyway, the Captain also ordered any crewman still conscious, to report to Sick Bay.

Upon my arrival, the Doctor expressed relief at seeing another being, conscious and walking. He gave me a little medication, by pressing some gray tube he called a hypospray, against my neck. Then the Doctor told me everything about what happened. I don't think he meant to, but like I said - he was relieved to see someone else, aside from Janeway and some ensign named Wildman, conscious and not infected. And the other two women were no where to be seen.

"They are applying the antivirus to the rest of the crew," the Doctor explained. He handed me three of these hyprosprays. I stared at him, questioningly. "These are hyposprays. A twenty-fourth century version of a hypodermic needle. Less painful and more hygienic. All of them are filled with the antivirus and I need you to help apply it to some of the crew. Both the Captain and Ensign Wildman are doing the same. Just press the hypospray against the neck, like I did yours. You can start in the Mess Hall."

With nothing else to do, I agreed to help. The sight that greeted me inside the Mess Hall nearly sickened me. Bodies were strewn everywhere. Bodies plastered with sores, insect bites and some green ooze. However, I came upon another sight that disturbed me even further. I found two of the figures, seated at a table together. Tom and Lieutenant Torres.

What the hell were they doing together? I had heard from Jenny that Tom agreed to serve as the ship's cook, until Neelix's return. And Lieutenant Torres was supposed to be in Engineering. How did they end up sharing one of the tables inside the Mess Hall?

It took a lot of effort on my part to squelch the jealousy within me. Unfortunately, I couldn't fight against the despair. It seemed to me that the sight of them together was an obvious sign that I was never meant to be with Tom. Oh well. Might as well accept it.


END OF BOOK IV

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN" (2008) Photo Gallery




Below is a gallery of images from "THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN", the new adaptation of C.S. Lewis' 1951 novel, the second in the author's "NARNIA" saga.  The movie was directed by Andrew Adamson:


"THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN" (2008) Photo Gallery