Movie News

Here you can find our Movie News section which includes all the latest and related articles, trailers and reviews for films and more.

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Movie Review: Black Swan

Once upon a time, yours truly had an insatiable crush on one Natalie Portman.  I found the tempered violence crafted by Luc Besson in The Professional (1994) to be utterly ridiculous without the extremely sincere performances of Jean Reno, Gary Oldman and this 13 year old little girl who had an on-camera presence well beyond

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Movie Review: Unstoppable

Oh yes my friends, Denzel Washington maintains his status as “reliably immoveable” from my top ten contemporary male thespians that can produce the kinds of performances that turn good films into timeless classics and somewhat questionable flicks into solid, cinematic adventures.  Unstoppable happens to side on the latter as the concept of “chasing down a

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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a very proper first half of a singular, six hour film.  By “proper” I mean that this film is inescapably incomplete.  The last film production that pulled this two-part-film-gag was Quinton Tarantino’s Kill Bill Parts 1 and 2.  The main difference between Bill and Harry is

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Movie Review: Skyline

Please, Don’t Look Up

A Film Review of Skyline

By: Lawrence Napoli


[[wysiwyg_imageupload:98:]]When I first saw the trailer for Skyline I assumed it represented the remnants of an impromptu ID4 (1996) sequel which Will Smith subsequently jettisoned for lacking vision, thus terminating all hope for that franchise to develop into at least a trilogy.  Alien attack films are fun!  They tend to be a much more positive spin on the disaster film genre because more often than not, it features the banding together of all humanity against a common foe.  This formula has become so refined by professionals and accepted by audiences of so many different backgrounds that I truly wonder if this is the only circumstance for which humanity would ever achieve some real level of world peace.  Skyline is certainly no exception in terms of its overall story, but what makes this film unique is how it digresses from certain rules that have been assigned to the construction of contemporary films in this blockbuster category. 

The most curious “rule violation” happens to set the restriction meter for all the aspects of filmmaking that are typical of alien attack, action films.  There was practically no money put into this film!  Actually the budget was estimated at $10 million dollars and for this type of project such a pathetic investment redefines the concept of “shoestring.”  The masterminds and co-directors of this film, Colin and Greg Strause, had no production experience outside the realm of visual effects, for which the duo has accumulated an impressive résumé.  Just to give you an idea, these men were involved with The Day After Tomorrow (2004), Constantine (2005), Fantastic Four (2005), 300 (2006), Jumper (2008), Avatar (2009) and Iron Man 2 (2010).  Suffice it to say, if you need something to appear on film/video that simply does not exist (except in fantasyland), these men are on the short list of top level talent that you contact.  Bearing this in mind, I can only imagine how they pitched the idea for Skyline and I assume it went something like this: We have an idea for a sci-fi thriller that will cost an investing studio 1/10thof the presumed budget for all films of this magnitude and it will look every bit as impressive because we have profitably proven records in visual effects and we can make anything look better than Hollywood!  I believe they had the executives of Universal at, “1/10thof the presumed budget,” for sci-fi blockbusters which traditionally start out at a $100 million dollar investment.  I would be shocked if the green light wasn’t instantly given at this point because as we all know; studio executives (like all business executives) ONLY care about being firmly rooted in the black.

And the Strause boys did not disappoint because the visual effects in Skyline are quite epic.  There are plenty of intricately detailed alien “mother” ships to see in addition to several other manifestations of alien invaders: from smaller fighters in the air to massive behemoths on the ground.  Honestly, the destruction of LA never looked better.  Therein lies another significant “rule violation,” because the visual effects of this film were truly relied upon as a crutch for the entire production and the story was laughable, if not completely forgettable.  The screenwriters for Skyline, Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell, are a couple of dudes who worked with the brothers Strause in some of their past visual effect jobs.  Therefore, it is no surprise that the plot for this particular alien invasion is exceptionally watered down due to its heavy handed borrowing from films like ID4 and videogames like Resistance: Fall of Man.  Nothing in this film is something you haven’t seen before.  The dialogue follows suit in that it is as equally uninspiring as the plot.  Fortunately though, the audience is treated to an expedient body count so as to minimize the eye rolling factor and refocus on the alien eye candy.  Say what you will about the debatably “cheesy” story and lines of ID4, but that film truly kicked ass because it was an epic story told through very personal struggles of characters we cared about and their lines of dialogue sold enough audiences to gross over $300 million dollars at the box office.  Good writing is the reason why people like Stephen King get paid lots of money.

And speaking of the actors that helped produce the characters that the audience is supposedly required to care about, yet another “rule violation” occurs with the absence of any alpha level actor being attached to this production.  There isn’t even a Samuel L. Jackson being eaten by sharks within the first 5 minutes of the movie moment from Deep Blue Sea (1999).  Again, I refer to the allowed budget for this film and it is quite obvious why Eric Balfour from Dexter and Donald Faison from Scrubs are the top billed talent for Skyline.  Granted, the script’s pedestrian nature disallows even a cast comprising of Kevin Spacey, Sean Connery, and Tom Hanks (all agreeing to work for “scale,” i.e. nothing!) to turn this good looking movie into an actual good movie.  As a result, I’m not sure how much blame I can place on a cast of character actors.  But I can say that alpha personalities do add credibility to a production where the artistic foundation (story, script, actors, directors, effects, and scenery) is somewhat in question. 

Skyline is an experimental film from Hollywood.  If anyone has attended or heard stories about film school, “experimental” films usually involve things like short videos of staring at sill life, extreme close ups of genitalia, animation that is neither purposeful nor entertaining, people staring at each other and shameless nudity for the sake of nudity (not even pornography).  Experimental films tend to have one or two things that are interesting about them, while the rest leaves the viewer confused as to the purpose of the entire production.  Skyline is Hollywood’s answer to The Blair Witch Project (1999) and it doesn’t appear this film will be a success as it has only grossed $11.7 million at the box office at the time of this article’s composition.  Every now and then, the American audience does me proud and treats films that are trying to hoodwink your wallets they way they ought to be treated: by ignoring them.  Well done, all of you!  You deserve a treat.

That being said, if one is able to completely nullify the importance of plot, character and dialogue, Skyline is a truly remarkable feat if it is true that it was created for a mere $10 million dollars.  I would recommend this film to any amateur filmmaker or visual effects artist in that it is an impressive example of doing more with less.  This is what you get when the production staff is made of visual artists.  Do you think you’d get the best acting performance on film if the staff were comprised of only actors?  Whatever the result, it certainly would be more Jersey Shore than Shakespeare.

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Movie Review: Due Date

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:96:]]I am a sucker for sexy young women.  Not that Due Date is a film that is riddled with them, but it was highly recommended to me by a very attractive female for whom I have a significant crush on.  I often hear recommendations for films from several different outlets such as the TV, newspapers,

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Movie Review: Hereafter

Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood icon.  Americans know this mostly due to his acting contributions to the western and cop film genres.  Age catches up with every actor and limits what one can do in front of the camera mostly because of aesthetic reasons.  I always felt that Clint’s move to the director’s chair was

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Movie Review: Saw 3D

The Halloween weekend continued to present us with a healthy, caffeine free, dose of horror films.  The supposed final installment of the Saw franchise continues the trendy move to 3D and after having seen the very cheesy trailers featuring arms reaching out of the screen to grab someone in the audience, I could tell the

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Movie Review: Paranormal Activity 2

The true test of all horror sequels is how well it connects to the previous films.  Loose and contrived connections result in a rapid de-saturation of the original story (see the Saw series).  Strong connections build and expand the story’s mythos (see The Ring films).  Traditionally, the horror genre has not been particularly successful at

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Movie Review: Red

So you’ve been going to the movies recently in a crude attempt to keep your girlfriend or boyfriend interested in you and you’ve been noticing that the movies selected by the man have been getting a little cheesier than you’ve been accustomed to.  You say to yourself, “an action film is an action film,” right? 

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Movie Review: The Social Network

. . . to those who screw other people over.  Wait a minute!  That’s not how that expression goes.  However, in these times of highly dubious corporate dealings, stock swapping and market meltdowns, one could easily make the case that this is how the expression ought to read from now on.  The Social Network is

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Movie Review: The Town

Our boy Ben places himself back in the director’s chair for The Town, yet another film in the long list of bank heist crime dramas with the added twist of the Irish mob perspective that only Bean Town can deliver.  Did you know that Ben has three other directing credits to his name?  Gone Baby

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Movie Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife

When the fetus is born, its placenta begins a physiological separation for spontaneous expulsion afterwards and for this reason is also called afterbirth.  The Resident Evil movie franchise (in relation to the video game mythos) can be described as such.  The one person responsible for all this is Paul W.S. Anderson and he has committed

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Movie Review: The American

Ever wonder what the life of a professional assassin would be like in real life?  My guess is it would be a little less romantic, prolific and lucrative than it has been made out to be in popular culture.  If less is what you are looking for, then Anton Corbijn’s The American certainly delivers in

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Everybody loves crime drama, cops and robbers and bank heists featured in Hollywood films.  Takers is yet another film in the same genre as the Ocean’s films and Heat (1995) that takes the audience on a bullet riddled joy ride from the criminals’ perspective.  These films are notorious for recruiting big names to fill out

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Expendables (2010)

. . . to make a good action film?  The answer is one, but Sly Stallone saw fit to answer with 11 in his Texas Hold ‘Em all-in experimental blockbuster, The Expendables. The theory behind this production is perhaps the most interesting aspect of it all, namely, you get as many alpha personalities of a

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MOVIE REVIEW: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Beyond raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, some of my other favorite things include comic books, video games and rock and roll music.  Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a comic book adaptation that encompasses all of the above in a fairly entertaining yet experimental way and I must admit that I am ashamed

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Inception is the best movie of this summer, perhaps even the past few summers and Chris Nolan is making what Dane Cook would refer to as “cinematic adventures” fun, surprising and satisfying once again.  Despite Nolan’s ever increasing reputation as a sure thing, I had numerous reservations about this production as soon as the advertising

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Last Airbender

This film is all about M. Night Shyamalan.  Assuming the writing, directing and producing responsibilities for a film he is involved with is his M. O.  However, Night has always done this with a completely original idea and The Last Airbender is his first real shot at helming someone else’s franchise.  Night’s appeal has always

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A title for a review that curses a film is never a good thing. Many a western has been seen by these eyes and even the worst spaghetti, 5 second dub delay, rag-tag acted, thrown together at the last second, cowboy versus Indian flick would be better than that sack of dung also known as

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When 100 years pass, will people regard the 1980s as an incredible treasure trove of intellectual property that got ransacked during the 2000s because Hollywood couldn’t come up with an original idea to save its life? I would like to think that those of us who were conscious during the ‘80s already recognize this to

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REVIEW: Robin Hood (2010)

The stand-alone epic: Is it a lost art form in Hollywood Land?  I ask this question because I was extremely stunned to discover that this film is the first of an installment. Of how many sequels are planned, I am not certain, but I would never have pegged the likes of Ridley Scott or Russell

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Nova: The Lost Years Saga: Annihilation: The Guerilla War Part Three


« Part Two |

Warning:  Mature Content

Nova: The Next Generation

Part Two


The Shi’Ar Conflict

Written By: Timelord Ӣ 9.13.09


Chapter Four:  The Warlord of the Sky and Sea (Part I)

     Vas’Nur was quartered next door to Rich.  Her duty station was a desk in an alcove outside her quarters.  Rich left her at her desk giving her strict orders that he was not to be disturbed and praising her for her devotion to duty.  He was happy to see her swell with pride in response to his compliments; and he hoped that this new strategy would result in her relaxing a bit.

     Rich entered his quarters closely followed by the Worldmind avatar.  “PRIME, seal the door.”  Rich turned to the Worldmind avatar.  “So, how do we do this?”

     The Worldmind gestured for Rich to be seated on his bed. “Richard, you are about to undergo what the ancients called ”˜Deep Communion with the Worldmind’ or what is now commonly called ”˜Direct Interface with the Worldmind.’  You will directly interface with my gestalt consciousness.  From the gestalt, I will select the individual consciousness of each of three of the greatest warriors in modern Xandarian history.  You will meld with each consciousness and experience their memories of combat in such a manner so that you will be aware of their thoughts, have access to their knowledge base, and experience their sensations; but they will, of course, not be aware of your presence.  In a sense, you will live their lives and retain some of their wisdom, knowledge base, and military genius as a result.  This experience is required training for all career military officers in the Xandarian Star Corps.  I must warn you that it can be a disconcerting experience to suddenly find yourself present in the ”˜mind’ and ”˜body’ of another; but know that you will not lose your individuality at any time; and you can end this training at any time simply by asking.  Do you require further clarification?”

     Rich shook his head negatively.  “No.  Let’s get started.”

     “Very well.  Your first training experience will be with Captain Antonius Mer, nicknamed by generations of Xandarian military cadets ”˜The Warlord of the Sky and Sea.’  This first experience takes place on the planet Xandar approximately 2000 years ago.  Please lie down and we will begin.”  The Worldmind paused, waiting for Rich to comply with its request.

     Rich reclined on his bed.  As soon as his head hit the pillow, he found himself standing in the infinite white void of pure thought, accompanied only by the Worldmind avatar.  The next instant, he found himself alone in an aircraft cockpit flying at high altitude over a vast azure-colored ocean.  For a moment, Rich felt disoriented.  He heard the voice of the Worldmind in his head saying, “Open your mind Richard.  Relax and become one with Captain Mer’s thoughts.”  Rich relaxed and became aware of the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the man whose body and mind he was now sharing as they flew through banks of clouds above the azure-colored water of old Xandar’s great Northern Ocean.

     Mer looked at his reflection in the aircraft’s windshield.  It was disconcerting to Rich to look into a ”˜mirror’ and see someone else staring back.  The reflection was of a handsome, 30-ish young man with short-cropped blonde hair, blue eyes, and a days growth of stubble.  Rich could ”˜hear’ Mer’s consciousness – Mer’s internal dialogue – just by concentrating.  Taking the Worldmind’s advice, Rich relaxed and allowed himself to become one with Mer’s thoughts.

    I need a shave.  Sure hope this mission is a short one.  I need some more time off to do more of what I did last night.  A sly smile flashed across his face and carnal images flashed through his mind.  Let’s see.  Where are the controls for communications?  D’ast!  Can’t get used to flying like this!  With the nanite neural web just implanted in my brain a few weeks ago, I don’t need to fly manually anymore; I just have to mentally tell the ship what to do.  Uh – ship? Give me a heads-up display of the positions of the rest of my squadron.

     A HUD appeared in his field of vision.  D’ast!  Did it again!  I don’t need this!  All I have to do is open my mind and I can know everything the ship knows about its functioning and surroundings.  Disappear HUD.  Locate the rest of my ships.  There.  In my mind I can see my five ships flying in stealth mode in perfect formation.  Beautiful Mark VI Trans-fighters.  They can fight in the air or reconfigure to fight on the ocean surface or as submarines.  Perfect for we Navy Special-Ops types.  This new tech is amazing!  Once the Defense Department’s ”˜Project Worldmind’ Quantum Super-Computer is finished, we’ll see even more amazing tech.  Maybe this super-computer can even figure out why so many of our people are contracting this strange neurological disease.  Maybe it can even find a way to cure it.  Time to check in with my squadron.  Ship-to-ship encoded quantum radio –  audio only.

     “All right you slackers – let’s break radio silence a moment and sound off to show me you’re still awake and ready for this mission.”  Mer smiled – proud of his squadron.

     “Azi here Captain – awake and ready.”  Feanus Azi.  Newest member of my squadron.  Right out of the academy.  Self-confident to the point of arrogance.  Hasn’t had enough humbling experiences to get rid of the cockiness.  Best in his class though.  That’s what got him here.  He’s a good entry level operative who just needs some seasoning; and it’s my job to keep him alive long enough to get that seasoning.

     “Van here.”  A little terse.  Wonder what’s up with Van?  Sunilius Van – House Van’s contribution to the Royal Navy.  He tries to downplay his royal background.  Comes across as falsely modest.  An accomplished pilot and a communications specialist second to none.  Been with me a year now and I’m always happy to have him alongside me cause he knows how to fight a way out of any mission gone bad.

     “Caal reporting.”  Lios Caal.  She’s been with me three years now.  My demolition expert.  So far, haven’t found a thing she can’t destroy.

    “Sol here Captain Mer.”  Mmmmmm – can’t keep the smile off my face just hearing her voice.  The lovely Felana Sol.  My warrior woman.  Never met a better or tougher fighter.  Been my Executive Officer for four years and more recently my lover.  We’re bending the rules but not actually breaking them.  Yeah – I’d like to believe the Admiralty would see it that way.  Let me indulge myself a minute here and think of our time together last night.  I can feel the Frammi Charm she gave me hanging from its chain against the skin of my chest.  I can still imagine her touch, her scent, her taste – even hours later.  A mental picture flashed through Mer’s mind – beautiful nude body, ebony skin, black hair, lovely face, green eyes——

     Rich Rider sprang bolt upright in bed covered in cold sweat, gasping for breath, and looking about wildly.  He saw a horribly disfigured ebony-skinned, black-haired, green-eyed young woman lying on the floor wearing a tattered Millennian uniform.  She was pleading with him, “Kill me Richard!  Please, please kill me!”

     Rich pressed against the headboard of his bed, trying to turn away or get away; taken aback by horror and revulsion of what the once beautiful woman had become.  She was transforming into something horrible right before his eyes.  “No!  No I can’t!  I won’t!”

     It was effortful for her to respond.  “You must!  The pain’s unbearable!  Please!  I — I can’t control myself much longer!  If you don’t kill me, I’ll soon kill you and everyone else!

     Tears streamed down Rich’s face.  His voice rising an octave, he pled with her.  “Please don’t make me!  I care for you!  I could never hurt you!”

     “The pain!  Richard!  I’m barely me anymore!  I’m not the Derana Sol you knew!  Kill me now!  I’m going to die anyway!  The pain!  Richard please – I beg of you – end my suffering now!”  Derana screamed as her body violently spasmed and transformed into something no longer recognizable as humanoid.  The look in her eyes turned from pleading to malevolent.  She moved to advance on him.

     Rich screamed in grief, rage, and anguish; building his most powerful gravimetric pulse to destroy the malevolent creature his beloved Derana had become.  He pointed his hand at the creature to fire the pulse, tears streaming down his face and bile choking his throat.


Rich blinked and shook his head to clear it as the image of the Worldmind avatar replaced the vision of the creature Rich was about to destroy. 

     Rich stopped the pulse just a nano-second before firing and then leapt in front of the Worldmind avatar angrily demanding an answer.  “What the fark was that?  I thought you said this was safe!  What the fark is going on?”

     The Worldmind replied in a matter of fact manner.  “Richard – you nearly fired a gravimetric pulse that would have breached the hull and disabled if not destroyed the ship.”

     Rich was dumbfounded with shock – he had only a vague memory of being terrified of an ebony-skinned girl who resembled Captain Mer’s XO. “What?  Why?!”

     The Worldmind hesitated before answering.  “I am still analyzing.”

     Rich had the distinct impression that the Worldmind was holding back something; but before he could further question the Worldmind, he noticed the sounding of the red alert klaxon and the sound of someone pounding on the door of his quarters.

     Rich could hear Yeoman Vas’Nur’s voice.  “Sir!  Sir!  Please open the door or we will be forced to break it down.”

     Rich shot the Worldmind avatar a dirty look and turned to the door.  He realized his face was wet with tears.  What the fark?  I’ve been crying?  He wiped the tears from his face.  “PRIME!  Open the door!”

     The door slid open and Yeoman Vas’Nur rushed into the room, side arm drawn, concern and worry clouding her face.  She was closely followed by six bulls from the Tauron Marine squad assigned to the ship.  The bulls were covered head-to-hoof in Tauron Battle Armor; and their plasma rifles were glowing hot with deadly charges primed to fire.  Commodore Che’Noth entered after the marines, her hands clasped behind her back, facial expression a mix of concern and puzzlement.

     Rich fixed Che’Noth in a stern stare.  “Commodore.  Sit-rep.  Why is the fleet at Red Alert?”

     Che’Noth snapped to attention as did the rest of the Tauron.  “Sir!  Screaming was reported emanating from your quarters and ship’s sensors detected a massive build-up of gravimetric energy in your quarters.  We assumed you were under attack and Vice-Admiral Ga’Noth ordered the fleet to Red Alert.”

     Rich shot the Worldmind avatar another dirty look, his anger building from both embarrassment and the feeling that the Worldmind was not being completely forthcoming.  Rich nodded his head sharply.  “PRIME – cancel Red Alert.  Send word to the Vice-Admiral that Commodore Che’Noth will explain this mishap to him shortly.  Marines – stand down and dismissed.”

     Rich waited until the marines left and the door slid shut behind them.  “Che’Noth, Vas’Nur – at ease.”  Rich watched as the Commodore and the Yeoman visibly relaxed.  “The Worldmind and I were conducting an ancient Xandarian –.. ritual when a mishap occurred.  You both did good work.  There should be no further such mishaps.  My orders prior to this incident still stand.  Dismissed.”

     Che’Noth and Vas’Nur snapped to attention and saluted.  “Yes sir!” they said in unison before turning and marching out the door.

     Rich angrily turned to the Worldmind avatar.  “All right god-dast-it, what the fark is going on with me?  These bad dreams I’ve been having and this last little incident are connected somehow aren’t they?  I’ve never been so scared before.  I nearly schlagged myself!  Who was that girl who looked so much like Captain Mer’s XO?  Why did I react like that?  Why did I have such an emotional connection to that girl when I don’t remember ever meeting her before?  I think you know the answers to all these questions and I want the god-d’ast truth from you right now!”

     The Worldmind avatar paused a few nano-seconds to consider the options.  The modifications of Rider’s brain at the quantum level had created some new unanticipated pathways to some long suppressed memories.  There were no good options.  Rider would have to overcome this problem as best he could; and for that to happen, he would have to know the truth.  Unfortunately, he would almost immediately forget the truth.  The Worldmind settled on a course of action.  “Richard – you had what your species calls a ”˜flashback’ to a traumatic event from your participation in the Second Xandar-Skrull War.”

     Rich’s brow furrowed in puzzlement. “What the fark?  I don’t remember any incident like that from that war!”

     The Worldmind avatar nodded. “I know.  Tell me, what do you remember from your participation in the Second Xandar-Skrull War?”

     Rich looked away as he struggled to remember.  “I fought in the war for about a year and then I came home to Earth.”

     The Worldmind held Rich in its steady gaze. “Yes, but tell me some specific events you remember from the war.”

     Rich rubbed his chin as he struggled to remember. “Sure.  Well —-.. I —- uh –.. can’t seem to think of any right at this moment.”

     The Worldmind pressed for an answer. “Take your time and make an effort.  Can you think of any incidents from that war at all?”

     Rich shrugged his shoulders. “I remember fighting along side the Spaceknight, Rom, and The Champions of Xandar to defeat the Skrulls; then I came home.”

     The Worldmind avatar shook its head affirmatively.  “Astonishing that you remember even that – the last military event of the war before you departed for Earth.  Do you not think it curious that you remember nothing else that happened over the course of that year?”

     Rich’s eyebrows arched in surprise. “I’d really never thought about it before; but now that you mention it, I guess it’s strange that I don’t remember much and strange that I’m not upset over not remembering.”

     The Worldmind was satisfied.  “Precisely.  There is a reason for your amnesia and your lack of concern about your amnesia.  Your genetic structure contains a small flaw that renders you vulnerable to a certain type of Anxiety Disorder that your species refers to as ”˜Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.’  Your experiences during the war caused you to begin experiencing PTSD symptoms.  You were the only non-Xandarian member of the Nova Corps at that stage of Nova Corps history and we had no experience treating alien physical and psychological disorders; so with your informed consent we addressed the problem as best we could.  It seems, however, that we made mistakes.  We sought to erase the memories causing you distress.  We succeeded only in erasing the ”˜filing system’ localized within your frontal cortex allowing you to directly access these troubling memories in an orderly fashion.  The memories themselves still exist; but are not directly accessible.  Now, when you have an experience similar to a prior wartime experience, it can cause formation of a temporary indirect pathway to these otherwise inaccessible memories and can trigger a recurrence of PTSD symptoms.  When this happens, a second, subsequently added intervention process is triggered and an anti-insight and amnesia circuit is activated.  Essentially, your brain is tricked into believing that your Xandar-Skrull Wartime memories are unworthy of further analysis or assignment to accessible memory.”

     Rich stood in stunned silence for several minutes considering the implications.  “Can’t you genetically re-sequence me to remove the flaw causing PTSD; and then create new pathways to the suppressed memories?”

     The Worldmind shook its head negatively. “If we had access to the resources of our Adanacian allies or had available the resources of pre-Annihilation Xandar, genetic re-sequencing of that magnitude might be possible; but we lack the proper resources in our present situation.  Without genetic re-sequencing, if I remove the memory and insight blocks; and help you establish new pathways to the suppressed memories; it is likely that incapacitating symptoms of PTSD will return.”

     “So I’m farked?”  Rich was angry.  “I can’t lead the resistance forces like this!  Hell, I nearly destroyed the ship!  If I had a flashback during battle, I could endanger everyone and everything!”

     The Worldmind knew it needed to calm Rich. “Granted – it is a risk.  However, for Xandar’s future and the future of the local group of galaxies, you must remain in command.  There is an alternative.  I have accessed your planet’s database in the past and your species has developed one promising treatment for PTSD.  It is called ”˜Exposure Therapy.’  Basically, it involves training to remain calm and controlled in the face of anxiety provoking stimuli.  War College training gives us the perfect opportunity to conduct ”˜Exposure Therapy.’  While you are participating in the memories of past battles with the Skrulls; you will be at risk for additional flashbacks.  I will monitor your cortical activity and at the first sign of flashback triggering anxiety, I will administer endorphins to calm you and give you a sense of well-being.  In this manner, we will train your brain to control symptoms of PTSD.”

     Rich paused to consider his options.  “All right – let’s do it.  When I’m participating in Captain Mer’s memories, I understand how and why he makes his military decisions.  I need that knowledge of air and sea tactics.”

     “Very well; let us resume training.  I will, however, buffer the intensity of the meld with Captain Mer.  You will still be privy to his innermost thoughts and history of experiences leading to the reasoning behind his decisions; but you will experience these things more from the perspective of an observer than from the perspective of the Captain himself.”  The Worldmind avatar motioned for Rich to lie down.

     Rich hesitated. “Fine.  One last question before we start.  The girl – Derana – who was she?”

     A holographic image of a beautiful ebony-skinned, green-eyed young woman wearing a Nova Corps Millennian uniform appeared next to the Worldmind avatar.  “Millennian Derana Sol was killed in action during the Second Xandar-Skrull War.  She bears a strong resemblance to her ancestor, Commander Felana Sol.”  A hologram of Felana Sol appeared standing next to Derana.  “Their resemblance was the trigger for your flashback.”

     Rich stood close to the hologram of Derana.  She seemed very familiar; but he could not remember ever knowing her.  He feared the answer to his next question but was unable to stop himself from asking.  “How did I know her?”

     The Worldmind hesitated – only continuing after Rich flashed it an irritated look. “The two of you participated in several missions together and became lovers.”

     Rich clenched his jaw.  “How did she die?”

     The Worldmind avatar looked away from Rich and quietly said, “Her personality was killed by a Techno-Organic Virus the Skrulls were developing for use in biological warfare.  She was therefore ineligible for download to Mindworld upon her death.  You then terminated her body before it could become the vector for infection of the remainder of the Novas under your command.”

     Rich sat heavily down upon his bed.  “My God – I killed her just like in the flashback.”  He put his hands over his face and drew a deep ragged breath, tears stinging his eyes.  He felt like he was on the verge of remembering the incident.

     A hint of earnestness entered the Worldmind’s consensus voice. “No Richard – the Techno-Organic Virus killed her.  You avenged her by killing the virus infecting her body.  It is an important distinction.”

     Rich felt as though he had just been punched in the stomach.  His heart ached and he was drawing short, ragged breaths – nearly overcome by feelings of guilt and regret.  “Yeah.  Whatever you say.”  He stood and approached Derana’s hologram – standing only inches in front of her and looking into her lovely face.  For a moment, he almost remembered how it felt to hold her in his arms.  He wanted to talk to her, comfort her, learn from her about what they had once had together – but he knew she was just an inanimate matrix of photons; and if he tried to touch her, his hand would merely pass through all that remained of her – her ghostly image.  He blinked tears from his eyes and pushed back the sad realization that he would never know what he had once shared with the beautiful woman whose image stood before him. 

     Rich took a deep breath and clenched his jaw.  “Discontinue the holograms.”  He watched as Derana faded into nothingness.  Stalking back to his bed, he reclined and stared at the ceiling, almost grateful that he would forget about Derana in a few seconds.  Through clenched teeth he tightly said, “Let’s get on with this.  Give me a shot of endorphins and put me back into Captain Mer’s memories.”  Rich felt a sense of well-being flowing through his body and alleviating his grief.  He found himself in the infinite white void once again.  Momentarily distracted, his mind blanked and he was merely left with a vague, lingering feeling of sadness. What was I upset about just a minute ago?  Can’t remember.  Ah well, must not have been important.  He re-entered the world of Captain Antonius Mer.

End of Part 3

Of the serial

Pinnacle of Light – Abyss of Darkness


Tale from ”Nova:  The Lost Years Saga’

And Part of

Annihilation:  The Guerilla War (Part 2)

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Nova: The Lost Years Saga: Annihilation: The Guerilla War Part Two

Nova: The Lost Years Saga

Annihilation: The Guerilla War (Part 2)

Pinnacle of Light – Abyss of Darkness

Warning: Contains Mature Subject Matter

Chapter 2: Drax the Destroyer’s Guide to Guerilla Warfare

Rich entered the holodeck closely followed by the Worldmind avatar and Yeoman Vas’Nur. Drax and Cammi were waiting for Rich; and Drax had already created a simulation of a park on the outskirts of a city. Drax smirked as he saw Vas’Nur adoringly admiring Rider. She appeared to be disappointed when Rider dismissed her from his side and sent her on an errand. Vas’Nur scowled at Drax as she walked by him. He merely responded with a toothy grin.

Once Vas’Nur was through the door and it had shut behind her, Drax turned his toothy grin on Rich. “Rider – if you ever decide to do anything about that, just remember that where you’re from it’s illegal in every state except maybe Texas.”

Rich rolled his eyes and shook his head. Drax never seemed to tire of making sexual innuendo jokes at Rich’s expense and cattle jokes at the expense of the Tauron. Drax deserved a sarcastic response. “With your attitude, is it any surprise the Tauron hold you in such high esteem? Tell me, exactly why did they have a price on your head?”

Drax’s only response was another toothy grin; so Rich turned to Cammi. “Good Morning Cammi. What brings you out so early?”

Cammi, dressed in her stocking cap and school uniform, looked at Rich. She couldn’t tell him the truth – that she missed seeing him and had a crush on him – so she smirked and with her typical pre-teenage disdain contemptuously said, “I just wanted to see you get your ass kicked again.

“Charming as always I see” laughed Rich, momentarily distracted.

The attack was sudden and unexpected. Drax’s blow to the chest knocked Rich off his feet and he felt Drax’s stainless steel knife at his throat. “First rule of guerilla warfare: Never let down your guard! Second rule: Trust no one! We know some Skrulls have joined Annihilus and are working as assassins! How did you know we weren’t two of those shape-changing farkers sent here to kill the leader of the guerilla resistance forces?”

Rich was angered by the surprise attack. It would be useless to explain to Drax that the Worldmind automatically identity-scanned everyone with whom Rich came into contact as Xandar had been fighting Skrulls for centuries and was wise to their shape-changing ways. Drax was trying to make a point and he wanted Rich to respond with decisive action rather than talk. If Drax wants some action, by God he’ll get some! Rich twisted away from the knife, broke Drax’s knife blade with a quick flick of his hand, and threw Drax toward a tree some thirty feet away. “You’ll have to do better than that to kill me dumb-fark!”

Drax twisted in mid air, flipped to slow his speed and change trajectory, and landed on his feet just in time for Rich to slam into him. Drax had anticipated Rich’s move though, and as they grappled, Drax freed himself, placed Rich in a chokehold, and began landing blows to Rich’s flank as he shouted another rule into Rich’s ear. “Third rule of guerilla warfare: Always keep your cool. An angry, impulsive, emotionally motivated enemy is less dangerous than a cold, calculating, ruthless, relentless enemy!”

Rich caught sight of Cammi’s self-satisfied grin; and he could feel even more anger rising from deep inside of him. Breaking free of Drax’s grasp, Rich landed a blow to Drax’s abdomen that sent Drax reeling. As Rich closed in, he noticed too late that Drax had merely been feigning injury to draw him in. Drax easily dodged Rich’s attack and countered with a vicious thrust of his adamantium knife. Rich dodged the worst of the knife attack which would surely have pierced his chest if he had been a moment slower; but the tip of the knife caught his left flank and he felt searing pain.

Rich could hear Cammi laughing in the background, “First blood goes to Drax again! Wooo-hoooo!”

Now completely embarrassed and enraged, Rich took flight and banked hard right, heedless of the pain and bleeding from his left flank. His only thought was to take Drax down. Both he and Drax knew there was no way Drax could outrun Rich. Rich was just too fast. Drax sheathed his knife and calmly waited for Rich to close the distance between them. Rich was no longer thinking, he was just enraged and out for blood due to the humiliating treatment Drax was dishing out. His only desire was to take Drax down. Drax easily dodged Rich’s frontal assault, flipped onto Rich’s back, and drove Rich face first into the ground for a blinding, muddy halt to the morning’s combat exercise. Cammi could be heard whooping with laughter in the background and the sound stung Rich’s ears.

The next sting to his ears came from Drax. “Fourth Rule of Guerilla Warfare: Find and capitalize upon your enemy’s weaknesses – in your case, becoming easily provoked and having overconfidence in your invulnerability – then surprise attack with lethal force.”

Drax hauled Rich to his feet and got right in his face shouting, “In my previous incarnations I’ve had bodies as powerful as yours and I’ve been killed despite that! You can’t count on your invulnerability to protect you out here like it did on Earth! Unlike on Earth, there are a lot of bad-asses out here as tough as or tougher than you! I would have thought you’d have figured that out by now! That scar on your face should remind you of that every time you look in the mirror! Truth is, no way should I have been able to beat you! You are faster, stronger, more agile, and more powerful than this incarnation of my body! You were defeated from the start though because you were cocky, you lost control of your emotions, and you didn’t strategize! You refuse to listen to what that infernal pretentious computer living inside of you tells you even when it’s right; and worse, you refuse to absorb what I try to teach you about fighting strategy and just rush in trying to slug it out! You can’t win a fight with a worthy opponent that way; and you especially can’t win a war that way! I expect better than this from you in our next combat exercise! Now get away from me because I’m so disgusted by and embarrassed for you by your amateurish fighting this morning that I can’t stand the site of you right now!”

Drax stalked off toward the door with Cammi tagging along behind him, occasionally looking over her shoulder and grinning at Rich contemptuously. Drax glanced at Cammi and smiled to himself. Bringing her along had worked just as he had planned. She had easily goaded Rider into making mistakes and losing control of his emotions. This was a good training exercise for Rider. He needed to have his weaknesses underlined if he was going to survive much longer out here. Rider had nearly gotten himself killed by taking on Annihilus before he was properly prepared to fight so powerful a being as Annihilus. Rider’s inconsistencies were an enigma to Drax. At times, Rider seemed to have fighting and command skills beyond his years; and at other times he fought like a rookie. This inconsistency had to be corrected. Drax’s plan to rid the universe of Thanos once and for all depended on Rider getting him close enough to Thanos to actually deliver a killing blow. That meant Rider had to survive for awhile. Drax had to ascertain Rider’s weaknesses and help Rider overcome them or this guerilla campaign would be short-lived indeed – and Thanos would remain beyond his access. He now knew that emotionality and overconfidence in invulnerability were two of Rider’s fatal weaknesses.

Rich could feel the pain in his left flank. He silently asked the Worldmind to supervise the nanites in the cleaning and repair his uniform; and in the healing procedures for his flank wound. Rich glanced at the Worldmind avatar silently standing beside him. “Go ahead.” When the Worldmind said nothing, Rich rolled his eyes. “For once you don’t have something to say to add to my humiliation?”

The Worldmind professed its innocence. “No, not at all – I was merely reflecting on how unfortunate it is to find myself in agreement with someone I find as objectionable as Drax the Destroyer.”

Chapter Three: A Meeting of the Minds

Rich decided to minimize the pain of multiple meetings and collapsed his three morning and afternoon meetings into one long meeting. Seated in attendance around the conference room table were Admiral Richard Rider, Vice-Admiral Ga’Noth, Commodore Che’Noth, Drax the Destroyer, and Chief Engineer Rur’Kuul. Rich stood. “Let’s begin this meeting. We have an extensive agenda today. Vice-Admiral Ga’Noth will be first to speak.”

Large, thickly-muscled, black-furred, with piercing black eyes, deep bass voice, and curved gleaming-white horns whose tips sported golden caps bearing the symbol of his herd; Ga’Noth was an imposing figure by any standard. When the powerful Minotaur spoke, everyone listened. “Good morning Admiral Rider and good morning to my other distinguished colleagues in attendance here today. I am pleased to report that the fleet has been re-supplied from resources obtained from a hidden Tauron military cache. We have enough ammunition and fuel for one extensive combat mission and we have enough food for approximately four weeks of operations. All ships have been repaired and are battle ready. I have sent ships to retrieve supplies from other hidden caches; but I am concerned about the lack of a steady supply line.”

Rich shook his head affirmatively. “Thank you for your tireless efforts Vice-Admiral. We are in agreement about the lack of a steady supply line. Right now, we have dual efforts in preparation to secure additional supplies for our campaign. I am to meet with the Adanacian Ambassador to Xandar this evening; and I plan to press him for military and material support. We will also be pressing other former allies of Xandar for military and material support in upcoming weeks. Unfortunately, these will likely be uncertain and inconsistent sources during this time of galactic upheaval. Drax has acquaintances within the Beliim Cartel; and will be departing soon to attempt to make arrangements for a steady supply line through them.”

Drax shifted in his seat. “The Beliim Cartel can provide us with supplies and reliable intelligence, but it won’t come cheap. No matter how much money is in the Xandarian Treasury, we’ll eventually exhaust it supporting a fleet this size. We’re gonna need those former allies to cough up money and supplies; but also ships and troops to replace those we lose in our military operations. You’re gonna find it hard to get them to commit until you show them that you have a chance of being more than just a minor annoyance to Annihilus.”

Ga’Noth grimaced. “I am forced to agree with Drax the Destroyer. From having fought the Annihilation wave and seeing 90% of the Tauron fleet lost, I can say with absolute certainty that even a hit-and-run guerilla campaign is going to take heavy casualties. I might add that we are also taking a terrible risk concentrating all our resources at one hidden base. We need to establish multiple hidden bases and that is going to require vast resources. That means we are going to require more than can be reasonably purchased from The Cartel. We need allies that have so far been unaffected by the invasion; and to get them, we need a decisive, high-profile victory over the thus far undefeated Annihilation forces.”

Rich rubbed his chin, wishing he had already completed the ‘War College’ training so he would know what to do next. Go with gut instinct, he thought as he leaned forward in his chair. “Agreed. Vice-Admiral, prepare scouting missions to gather intelligence and identify possible targets. I know you are concerned about liberating Tauron and that remains at the top of my list of concerns as well. Send a mission to Tauron to determine enemy strengths and weaknesses so we may also begin planning for Tauron’s liberation. Also send missions to scout for other possible locations for bases for the fleet. Drax, please make the purchase of military intelligence data about Annihilation Wave strengths and weaknesses a priority in negotiations with The Beliim Cartel. Since our fleet is at peak readiness, I want us to mount a high-profile strike against Annihilus in less than one week.”

Looking around the table, Rich could see that he had said the right things as everyone appeared to be pleased with his decisions. “Next on the agenda would be the Aurora and Orion Projects. Chief Engineer Rur’Kuul, please report.” Rich was anxious to hear Rur’Kuul’s report. The XBS Vengeance was an incredible ship and Rich was fascinated by this new Xandarian technology. The Xandarians had realized that they had under-invested in ships and were in the process of remedying that mistake when the Annihilation Wave attacked. The Vengeance, Aurora, and Orion were to be the first in a new class of small, fast, and ultra-powerful battleships. Powered by Zero Point Energy – or as the Xandarians called it – Nova Force – and utilizing the latest advances in nano-technology; these new ships were literally grown by seeding an asteroid of sufficient mass and composition of nickel, iron, and carbon with hundreds of quintillions of self-replicating nanobots, similar to ones making up Rich’s uniform and inhabiting each cell in his body.

Rur’Kuul was a grizzled old bull whose fur had grayed and whose horns and teeth had yellowed; yet he spoke with a strength and moved with an energy that belied his advanced age. “Approximately one week ago, two suitable asteroids were found within the planetary nebula which we are orbiting. As of this morning, drilling to the center of each asteroid was completed and the Orion and Aurora nanobot capsules were placed. All that is now required to proceed with shipbuilding is an order to the Worldmind from a duly authorized agent of the Xandarian government. Once the Worldmind activates the nanobots, they will begin building the Orion and the Aurora battleships.”

Rich was anxious to add the XBS Vengeance’s two sister ships to the fleet. “Worldmind, the order is given. Please activate the nanobots and build the ships.”

The Worldmind shifted slightly. “Yes Admiral Rider. The nanobots have been activated and work has begun.”

Rich turned to Rur’Kuul. “Construction time?”

The old bull stopped to consider some variables before responding. “Based on the time for completion of the Vengeance and considering our current unique and less than optimal circumstances; approximately three weeks until completion.”

Rich nodded in affirmation. “Thank you. If there is no further business or discussion, this meeting is adjourned.”

Ga’Noth nodded to Rich as he rushed out to enact Rich’s orders, conversing with his daughter, Che’Noth, as she escorted him to the hangar bay. Drax also headed to the hangar bay, paging Cammi to join him there for immediate departure for his mission to contact The Beliim Cartel.

Rich and the Worldmind Avatar caught up with Rur’Kuul before he departed for the hangar bay. “Chief Engineer, when might I drop by to inspect progress on the shipbuilding projects?”

Rur’Kuul stroked his chin whiskers as he considered Rich’s request. “Please contact me in one week Sir. At that point, some of the external features should be taking shape.”

Rich nodded and dismissed Rur’Kuul. “Worldmind, let’s inspect the bridge and then return to my quarters to begin ‘War College’ training.”

As Rich and the Worldmind Avatar left the conference room, Yeoman Vas’Nur silently fell into step beside and to the rear of them. Rich suppressed a smile. At the age of 18, Vas’Nur was full of youthful exuberance and enthusiasm, anxious to do a good job for him and anxious to earn the praise of her Uncle Ga’Noth. Rich made a mental note to be more patient with her.

The travel tube deposited Rich, Vas’Nur, and the Worldmind Avatar on the bridge. Commodore Che’Noth jumped to her feet, surrendering the Captain’s chair to Rich. “Admiral on the bridge!” she shouted as she snapped to attention and saluted Rich. The remainder of the bridge crew also jumped to their feet, stood at attention, and saluted Rich.

Rich was uncomfortable with all the military formality, but respected it as necessary and as an essential component for recognizing legitimate authority for a species with a herd mentality such as the Tauron. Rich returned the salute. “As you were.” He watched as the bridge crew returned to their stations before turning to Che’Noth. She was still standing at attention beside the Captain’s chair. “At ease Commodore. Status report please.”

Che’Noth was considered quite beautiful among her Minotaur species. Her fur was roan-colored; but she had inherited the piercing black eyes of her father. Her gleaming white horns were covered at the tips with gold caps bearing the Noth herd symbol. “The fleet is fully prepared for battle. Rur’Kuul has departed for his mission within the nebula. Drax and Cammi are departing for their mission as we speak.” She gestured to the main holo-screen where Rich saw an image of Drax’s shuttle departing the hangar bay. “Vice-Admiral Ga’Noth has returned to the TBS Pride of Tauron and is coordinating the scouting missions you ordered.”

Rich nodded in satisfaction. The ship and fleet were in good hands. It was time for his appointment with the Worldmind. “Thank you Commodore. I must meet with the Worldmind in private for an extended period of time. I would like you and Yeoman Vas’Nur to see to it that I am not disturbed unless there is an emergency.”

“Yes Sir!” Che’Noth and Vas’Nur said in unison, snapping to attention.

Rich suppressed another smile. “Thank you. Commodore, you have the con. Worldmind, Vas’Nur, with me.”

End of Part 2 of the story, “Pinnacle of Light – Abyss of Darkness”

Come back next time for Chapter 3 of the Story


“The Warlord of the Sky and Sea”