Bill Rabinovitch
Meets a Dark Master

The crew reassembles and heads toward the arena.

Bill asks, "What's in your combat vest, Germain?"

Germain replies, "Extra rounds for the blaster, various types of gernades, and other primitive weapons I've found can come in handy."

Bill wonders, "And you think all that is needed for this lesson?"

Germain responds, "You've never been to the arena. I have."

Bill remarks, "I notice you changed your outfit, Fantasy."

Fantasy explains, "Combat armor designed for the arena."

Bill worries, "Looks like it leaves a lot unprotected."

Fantasy explains, "It's designed for a psychological effect. I already have a layer of protection under my skin. This just adds extra protection, without weighing me down unnessarily, like full body armor would."

Bill glances down at her footwear and asks, "You wear high heels into combat?"

Fantasy responds, "Part of the psychology of the design, and they're combat stilletos; solid steel with shapened heel tips that will slice through the rubber heel sole when they make contact with a target."

Bill admits, "I wouldn't have guessed."

Fantasy explains, "That's the point."

The crew arrives at the arena.

They enter through a side door that takes them to the arena floor.

After only a moment of hesitation, they walk out into the arena.

Darth speaks from the viewing area, "I bid welcome to Bill and his crew."

Darth continues, "Bill, if you stay and make it through your training, I'm sure you will become not just the greatest artist on Earth, but you will also become its ruler, and once you're in charge, you can surely save the Earth from the problems you see, which I understand is why you want to study the Force."

Bill demurs, "Thanks, I don't want to rule the Earth, but I'm eager to start the training."

Darth responds, "Once you've learned to use the dark side of the Force, you'll see that a wise dictator ruling the Earth is the only way your planet can be saved from being destroyed by its inhabitants."

Darth changes the subject, "I see another student has arrived."

Kali enthuses, "You are a legendary teacher of the dark side of the Force. I have astral-projected myself here to see what I could learn from you."

Darth responds, "Your reputation proceeds you Kali. Your dark use of the Force for destruction is legendary. I expect you will make it to my advanced class. However, since Bill was here first, I've put Bill in charge of the first class assignment."

Kali is gracious, "One is never too old to learn. I look forward to learning under Bill's class leadership."

Darth goes on. "Now that Kali and Bill's crew have arrived, I will shut the gate so we are not disturbed."

Bill inquires, "Shouldn't we wait for more students to arrive?"

Darth explains, "No point, Ker is my entire advanced class. Evel is my entire intermediate class."

Darth continues, "There are no other surviving students from my beginner's class, and we already have enough students to start a new beginners class. I'm closing the gate."

A massive weatherbeaten timber gate rises from the ground, blocking their exit.

Bill worries, "Sounds like your beginner's class is pretty tough to pass."

Darth explains, "I teach combat the way swimming is taught here: throw them in the water, and if they don't learn to swim, they drown. So I begin by throwing you into combat. To give you a fair chance, I begin with a small opponent, you should easily beat."

Bill inquires, "And that small innocent lizard in your cage is my opponent?"

Bill adds, "And you expect me to kill it?"

"You'll soon see," says Darth and springs the cage door open with a gesture of his hand.

Darth explains, "You are all honored to be the first targets of our new genetically engineereed weapon, which we created using a genetic code we fround on Andromeda, spliced with an ancient one we recovered on your own planet."

Germain reacts, "Even if that's poisonous, it doesn't look like your weapon is any match for a blaster."

Vishnuh implores, "Germain, the path of peace is the best way forward, not your blaster."

Germain dismisses her objection, "Maybe, but I'll bet a blaster is faster. Let's test my theory on this lizard."

Germain fires at the reptile with his blaster, hitting it.

But it only grows larger.

He turns up his blaster power, and fires at the reptile again.

But again it only grows larger.

He turns his power to maximum, and fires again.

It grows even larger.

Vishnuh reacts, "Stop firing, can't you see that's counter-productive? It just absorbs the energy and grows larger."

Germain answers, "OK, a ray weapon isn't working. Let's see it absorb a primitive explosive.
Hit it with a stinger, Java!"

Vishnuh is appalled, "Don't! That's not the path of peace; it's the worst thing you could do!!!"

Java follows Germain's order, and takes aim.

He fires the stinger...

and scores a direct hit on the beast, blowing it up....

to an even larger size.

Whereupon the beast turns and heads for Java. Java thinks to pull another stinger from his quiver...

but the beast is faster...

and devours Java...

stingers and all.

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