"The Price of a Horse"
Written by: Erin Weinstock
Novelization verison by: Reba Grayladyfalcon
I don't hold any of the copyrights in this story, and this story was made without profit .
Teaser ...


There's a battle going on in space. A fleet of fighter ships is attacking a troop of Z-87s, who are trying to guard a Sea-class cargo ship. The Sea-class cargo ships are much smaller than the Ocean-class ships, but are more wide than tall. There's debris floating about in space. Most of the debris is from the destroyed unknown fighters. But, combined with that debris is debris from what once was a Z-87. This battle is moving along at a fast and furious pace. The Z-87s have the upper hand in style.

"Janet, one at three o'clock," Wilma warns Janet.

"Not a problem," Janet replies.

"They have me boxed in! I need assistance!" Matt yells out.

"I'll pick off the ones on your tail, Matt," another pilot replies.

"Who are these guys?!" Joe asked while taking aim at another unkown fighter.

"Houten, I think. These ships look Raim in design. The Houten are the only ones out there who still use those ships," Wilma replies.

"Buck, look out!" Matt yells out.

"Thanks for the heads up, Matt," Buck replies firing on the approaching fighter.

Sometime during the battle one of the Z-87s got hit on its underbelly. What looks like small crystals are floating out of the hit spot, along with jagged shards of metal.

"One unknown eagle left, and it's running. Colonel Deering?" a female pilot asked.

"Let it run off, when it returns to wherever it came from its pilot will likely tell its buddies that we're no force to mess with," Wilma replied.

"Janet, Janet? Ms. Ward are you okay?" Buck asked with concern.

"The closest planet to here is Otie Nine. Colonel Deering, I'd like to assist Janet in repairing her ship. May I?" Joe requested.

"I'm sorry, but you can't, Joe. Remember your magnetic grips?" Wilma replied.

"They're damaged, I forgot," Joe replied shaking his head.

"If you want to help with something, go find out how the Niagara is faring," Wilma said.

Buck guides his fighter next to Janet's fighter "Buck?" Janet asked.

Wilma was also throttling towards Janet's ship. On the other side of Janet's fighter another fighter was on it's way to her. This one approaches from the opposite side.

"No need to ask," Buck replied coming up along side Janet's fighter.

On one side of Janet's ship, was a Z-87 closing in on it. When it's just an inch away, the Z-87 was quickly pulled on to the other. Locking on a groove on one ship into the groove on the other ship. Wilma and Buck have fixed themselves into nicks on Janet's ship.

"This planet, Otie Nine. It's a good place to land to do repairs? Give Janet medical attention if needed. We can breathe on this planet, right?" Buck asked.

"I've never been there before. In fact I don't know of anyone who has. But considering the situation we're in, I don't think we should go out of our way to find another planet to do this," Wilma replied.

Buck and Wilma gently leaned on the throttles and slowly guided Janet's fighter towards the surface of the planet below. The three Z-87s steadily enter the planets upper atmosphere, when an slight shaking started to occur. One of the magnetic grips was starting to slip. Down below they could see some of the terrain of this desolate planet. The sky was blue and the ground is rocky, littered with Appalachian size mountains that are colored in shades of orange and brown. The only sign of life are small trees scattered sparsely about this climate, along with a few bushes doing the same. These mountains have a jagged, misshapen look to them. The planets atmosphere has a strange view. A thin layer of violet giving way to a sunset red that wisps about, with the darker color of space beyond that.


Chapter 1

"The magnetic grips are slipping!" Buck says loudly.

"Not sure what could be causing that! Move you ship tighter into hers! I'm going to do the same!" Wilma replied.

The two Z-87s moved in tighter to Janet's fighter as they raced from the atmosphere into the clear blue sky.

"There's too much gravity on this planet! I'm having trouble keeping the nose up!" Buck said gripping the control stick tightly.

"We're going to crash!" Wilma replied back fighting her control stick also.

"If that's the case we're faced with, let's make it a good one! Wilma, on the count of ten I want your ship to move in time with mine, so we don't lose Janet's! After the count I want you to turn the ship east, then to pull up as tight as you can, nothing more!" Buck said.

"Why do you want to do that?!" Wilma asked.

"There's a small grouping of trees over that way! It will be an easier landing, I mean crash, if the ships aren't hitting the ground face on!" Buck said.

"Ready for your count!" Wilma replied.

Buck started counting down. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, One.. NOW!" Buck said loudly as he started to leaned on the throttle.

All three Z-87s at the same moment turn their noses up in the air. The three packed together ships start and continue downwards, sliding on the tree tops.

The canopy on Buck's Z-87 flies up, Wilmas a half second later. While exiting their fighters Buck and Wilma take a quick look around. Still partly attached to Wilmas fighter was Janet's ship. They made their way to Janets fighter and try their best to open up Janet's canopy.

"Janet, are you OK?!" Buck shouted.

They didn't get a response. After a moment Buck and Wilma successfully ripped open the canopy. Janet starts coughing.

"Janet!" Wilma said reaching into Janets ship to assist her.

Janet coughs a couple more times. "The life support, navigational controls!" Janet said.

"You've lost more than that. When your ship was hit your water tank was one of the casualties," Buck replied.

While Buck was talking, Janet was taking in deep breaths. Now looking like she's feeling better, she looks around herself. Then standing up in the cockpit. "Where are we? My Z's communications must have gone out too," Janet asked looking around.

"Otie Nine," Wilma replied.

"Think I've heard of this place once before," Janet said as she climbed out of the fighter.

"What did you hear of it?" Wilma asked.

"Just where it was located. Nothing more," Janet replied.

"Well it's time we all started finding things out about this planet. When your ship is repaired, it'll need fuel. I didn't notice any large masses of water when we were coming down, but I say it's a likely chance there are some around here. Those trees that we used to help break up the fall, they looked too happy to have had only the occasional rain fall to feed them," Buck said.

"Janet, I'm going to help you with the repairs. I played a small hand in the designing of the Z-87 Wolves," Wilma said.

"I didn't..." Janet starts to cough. "I didn't know you were an engineer," Janet said after a few coughs.

"I'm not. When the Z-87s were being designed, the engineers on the project would come to me, asking how I thought a design would hold up in battle, and I'd tell them where I saw there could be a flaw, and where I thought something could be made better." Wilma turns to Buck who's walking away. "Buck, where are you going?" Wilma asked.

Without turning back to look at Wilma. "To find water; I'll return to you ladies when I've found some," Buck replied.

Buck walks around the rocky terrain, once in a while moving a rock with one or both of his hands as needed. Not seeing any moisture on the underside of the rock, he places the rock back and continues.

After a while of roaming around, right up in front of Buck pops up a robot face. It has a round head, cut into a crescent shape on its underside, with one round silver disk in the center of its forehead, and two small camera lens eyes spread far apart from each other, nearly running off to the sides of the robot's head.

One Million is standing before Buck. On One Million's full body, there's a pair of spindly arms coming out the sides of its head. A ropy neck, coming from a large ball of a body, with six insect-like legs from that.

"One Million Mark Zero, what do you need?" One Million asked.

"Who are you?" Buck asked as he backed up.

"Unknown, "who"? What do you need?" One Million repeats again.

"I need to find a place where there's water. Do you know of such a place?" Buck asked.

"Water? One Million Mark Zero, request type?" One Million said.

"Type? Do you mean fresh, salt, distilled?" Buck asked.

Out of thin air a badly aged hardback book appears in one of One Millions hands. The robot then, book in one hand, has the other hand grabs it open. The open book is taking up his full field of vision. The inside of the book looks like a children's book. Spread on to both of its open pages, is the picture of an open sea or ocean. The picture looks like a rough cartoon of sorts. Done only in black ink, in the sky, moving from one page to the next, it has written in it.

"This is where fish live. You want water like this... Does this water please you?" One Million asked.

"As long as it can fuel..." Buck pulls down the book from his face. There's a crisp late noon sky, and blacktop with lines painted on it, leading to be cut off by what looks like an endless ocean. "A Z-87," Buck says softly.

"Captain Rogers, move now!" a crew member yells out.

Buck is standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier wearing the Naval uniform of a captain, with hat to match. "Huh, where?" Buck asked in a unsure voice.

"Captain, move! The Blue Jacket is coming down!" Crewman one yells.

Buck is in shock now staring at Crewman one and Toby, who are standing near to the entranceway to the deck.

"What's going?" Buck asked.

"Buck, move! Or Jen is going to hit you!" Toby said.

Buck now turns to the other side of where he was facing before, at the sound of roaring jet engines. More shock now mixed in with fear shows on Buck's face.

"Get off the runway, she's coming in!" Toby yells.

Heading for Crewman one and Toby, Buck runs off the runway, his captain's hat falling off. As he's running the jet is touching down behind him and coming down the runway, then running over his hat. Buck stands beside Toby and Crewman one, staring out at the jet.

"What were you doing out there, day dreaming?" Toby asked.

Buck turns to look at Toby. "Toby?!" Buck asked with a confuse look on his face. Before turning back to look at the now non-moving jet.

"What? You wanted Jennifer to hit you?" Toby asked.

"Jenny! Is this, is this real?" Buck asked as he does some mild coughing.

"What do you mean is this real, Buckster?" Toby asked.

"Where am I? What's today's date?" Buck asked looking around.

"You're on board the Rockyshark, and today's date is April second," Crewman one replies.

"April second? What year is it?" Buck asked.

"Captain, are you OK?" Crewman one asked.

"It's 2006. Are you coming down with something? That cough you gave a moment ago," Toby replied looking at Buck with concern.

"What? How? Are you sure?" Buck asked.

"You must be coming down with something," Toby replied.

Buck looks around himself, and then at what he's wearing. "I'm on board the Rockyshark, I'm back in the NAVY."

"Captain, if I may?" Crewman one asked.

"What is it crewman?" Buck replied as he turns to look at Crewman one and Toby.

"I think you should go to sickbay," Crewman one replied.

"I don't need to go to sickbay. But if one of you could tell me how I got here? How it's April second 2006 and the whole world, at least what I can.." Buck has another coughing fit. "Of it, isn't in shambles," Buck replies.

"Buck, go to sickbay. Get checked out by doc Ridker," Toby suggested.

"I don't need to see a doctor, Toby. I may not know how this is all happening, but I don't think I could have a happier moment than this now!" Buck replied.

"Couldn't be more happier than you are right now?" a voice said behind him.

Buck turns around to face Jennifer. "I can fix that," she replies.

"Price of a Horse"

Chapter 2

On the top deck of the Rockyshark, Buck stares at Jennifer, mouth open smiling.

"Been looking forward to our time together?" Jenny asked with a smile.

"I thought we'd never have it again," Buck replied looking into Jenny's eyes.

"Why's that, is there something wrong I should know about?" Jenny asked with some concern.

"I thought you were dead. That all of this was long gone," Buck replied.

"I may have a dangerous job in the Air Force, but I can handle myself. None of what we have, Buck has gone anywhere," Jenny replied stepping closer to Buck and kisses him softly. Buck removes his Navy jacket and places it around Jenny's shoulders after they part.

"Jenny, something "IS" missing in this picture," Toby replies glancing over at Buck.

"And what's that, Toby?" Jenny asked.

"Buck's mind," Toby replied.

Jenny looks to Buck, who just has a broad look on his face and a dreamy look in his eyes. Toby explains how Buck has been acting. In the sick bay, it looks like a crammed doctor's office where a surgery could be performed if need be. In this room are Ridker, Buck, Jenny, and Toby.

"Mr. Ziskin, I'm not a psychiatrist," Ridker says.

"Doctor, Buck is my friend." Toby turns to Buck. "You are my friend." Then he turns back to Ridker. "But he needs help. Are you sure there isn't anything you can do for him?" Toby asked.

"And once more I'd like to state that lunes are not MY DEPARTMENT." The doctor turned to face Buck. "You're my captain, Rogers. Now I know I'd never do anything to step out of line with you. But Ziskin? I don't have the power to do this, but what do you say we put him in the brig for a few hours, make him think twice about questioning your command?" Ridker said jokingly.

"No, I'm not going to take it that far. If I was him, I wouldn't believe me either," Buck replied.

"And just what is it you've been saying to him that makes him want to make me hold up a Rorschach picture to you?" Ridker asked.

"That for almost months from my perspective, I've been in the future, the year 2518 to be exact. Doing work for Earth's Defense Directorate, traveling to far off worlds, and meeting all sorts of aliens," Buck said.

"Uh-uh, Captain. I think it might be a good idea if you turned in early for the day," Ridker advised.

"You don't believe me, do you?" Buck asked as he started to cough some more.

"I, I.." Ridker replied as she walks about the sick bay floor, trying to find the exact words to use.

"Buck, come with me, I believe you," Jenny says holding her hand out to Buck.

"You do? That's great," Buck said with relief in his voice.

"The doc says you need some rest. You can rest with me in your cabin," Jenny said.

"Maybe I should rest. I have a headache," Buck replied.

"You're kidding me, right?" Jenny asked.

The Defense Directorate is in Alaska, surrounded by dark green pines with a fresh coating of snow, and in the distance jagged, snow-capped mountains, with a sky that looks to be at twilight. Wilma's office has a look to it of home warmth mixed in with the essence of one who has a passion for their job. In the center of the room sits Wilma's desk. On top of the desk, many papers lie unorganized under a paperweight that has a hologram enclosed in a glass box. This hologram is showing a repeating pattern of Defense Directorate fighter ships throughout the ages. Among the many ships it shows, the Z-87 Wolfs. Off in the corner is an old-fashion cannon. On a wall next to a Phasoft-door, is Dr. Theopolis's unit and behind the desk with a panoramic view, a set of windows that show the outside. Wilma is standing next to her desk staring at a medal she's holding.

"I got this. Dr. Theopolis, how did I get this?" Wilma asked.

"For commanding the fleet in a battle against the Draconian empire. That battle was quite amazing in how we achieved victory. It ended the war," Theopolis replied.

"I ... I've been in battle with them before. But it's never been anything tide turning. Except that time Buck pointed out a mistake I made in not." Wilma turns her head slightly and coughs. "Believing him that they were about to attack, that in that battle we discovered they were the ones controlling the pirate ships," Wilma replied as she coughed again.

"That cough sounds bad. Are you feeling okay?" Theopolis asked.

"Never better. It's just a little cough, I'm sure it will go away," Wilma replies as she heads over to her desk.

"You have a visitor. Should I let him in?" Theopolis asked.

"That depends, who is it?" Wilma asked as she was about ready to sit down.

"He says his name is Scott Tingey," Theopolis said.

"Rats, Dr. Theopolis, don't let him in," Wilma replied as she takes the paperweight off the stack of papers.

"He insists you let him come in. He seems quite distraught, Colonel Deering. Are you sure it is such a bad thing for him to be in here?" Theopolis asked.

Wilma sighs. "Okay, let the boar in," she replies.

"He is not a boar. He is human," Theopolis said as the Phasoft-door changes color and Scott Tingey enters.

"Why are you here?" Wilma asked looking at Scott.

"To say I'm sorry," Scott replied.

"You? Say you're sorry? God, this must be a fantasy," Wilma said.

"I shouldn't have cheated on you. You're a wonderful and very loving person. I'm so sorry I slept with her," Scott said looking at Wilma.

"You damn well should be! Scott, this is an amazing turn around for you. You the ..." Wilma started coughing. Then after a few moments she stops. "You the man who at one point told me I don't ..." She starts coughing again. And again stops. "Know what's good for me! That you know, you know what's best for me! That I know nothing! Tell me, what's with the turn around?" Wilma asked raising her voice slightly.

"I know it's over between us. But your marriage, I didn't know you'd gotten that serious with him. I just thought you should know even though it's coming late, I still care for you, still love you," Scott said.

"I'm not married," Wilma replied.

"You're not? But what about Rogers?" Scott asked.

"We're just friends, Scott." Wilma hesitates. "Please leave," Wilma said without even glancing at Scott.

"Did I do something wrong?" Scott asked.

"What you did wrong to me happened a long time ago. I know you said you're sorry, Scott. It's just been a long day. I need some time alone," Wilma replied as she clears her throat.

Scott looks like he doesn't want to leave, but leaves the office anyway. Wilma sits down at her desk and starts to go through the papers on it, looking at each for a moment to see what the writings on it entails. Shortly after she starts, she freezes looking at one of them.

"Dr. Theopolis, this request for time off. I don't recall making any request for time off," Wilma said still looking at the paper.

"You requested it shortly before your wedding. You mean to tell me you don't remember asking me?" Theopolis asked.

"Wedding?!" Wilma asked with a confused look on her face.

"Your wedding to Captain Buck Rogers. I'm sorry I haven't had your last name changed in Earth's population database. I'll have it changed now, so your request paper shows the right name," Theopolis replied.

"Bu-Buck and I married! How, how is this so? We're just friends and at that only on the business level!" Wilma said confused.

"You wanted to be more to him. That is what you wanted. One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Theopolis replied.

In the doorway of Janet's home, Janet is helping a small child in taking off his winter gear.

"One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," the child says.

Janet looks at the child in shock.

Buck is looking at a calendar on the wall, smiling at it. Jenny is standing in back of him, staring.

"One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Jenny says.

Buck turns to Jenny.

"The Price of a Horse"

Chapter 3

Back in Buck's cabin on the Rockyshark.

"Otie Nine?" Buck asked.

"You are on Otie Nine. One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Jenny replied still staring at Buck.

"I'm not back in the 21st century. This is all fake?" Buck asked.

"The current century is the 26th. One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Jenny replied.

"You're not Jenny," Buck said with sadness in his voice. "You want payment for "good continue," good continue of a lie. This lie, I don't want to live a lie. I'm not going to pay you for it. All I want is water."Buck said as he coughs a little.

"No payment yet?" Jenny asked.

"All I ask of you is to tell me where I can find some water. I don't want this lie you have me in right now," Buck replied.

"No payment yet?" Jenny repeated.

"I'm not going to pay you for something I never asked for!" Buck shouted.

Jenny starts to change her appearance turning into Ardala. "This is what you wanted. From deep within, this is what you wanted. I gave you what you wanted. One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Ardala said.

Buck soon gets the look of sadness mixed with shock on his face at seeing Ardala replace Jenny. "Leave me alone! Take me out of this fantasy you've for made me!" Buck shouts.

"Captain William Buck Rogers, you are a traitor to your country. You must be put to death," Ardala says pointing towards Buck.

"What!?" Buck yells out.

"You are a traitor to your country on the accounts of sabotaging the U.S.S. Redstone, selling military art craft design plans to enemy nations, and fixing the 2000 presidential election. You must be put to death for your crimes against your country," Ardala replies still pointing at Buck.

"I've done no such things! Where are you getting those ideas!?" Buck asked.

"Unwanted good continue," Ardala replies.

"All I asked for was some.." Buck starts to cough again. "I only asked water of you! This cannot be real. You can't kill me," Buck said clearing his throat a little.

Ardala suddenly is in front of Buck. She knocks him across the jaw.

"This isn't happening. All of this, must somehow be in my mind," Buck says rubbing his jaw.

"Unwanted good continue. You must be put to death for your crimes," Ardala says again walking towards Buck. Buck starts backing away from Ardala.

"S-stay away from me; oww," he says as he rubs his forehead. "And stop this putting me to death bit. I've haven't done anything and you know that," Buck says.

"One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Ardala replies.

"That's it, I'm out of here," Buck said as he quickly leaves the cabin.

In the Rockyshark hallway Crewman two is walking down it towards Buck.

"One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Crewman two said as he approached Buck.

"No, not you too?" Buck asked as he turned to go the opposite direction.

"One Million Mark Zero, all seen here, you. Payment for good continue?" Crewman two asked again.

Buck starts running from Crewman two. "No no, there's got to be some way you don't control all of this. Some way out of this," Buck shouted as he ran.

"No good continue, death imminent," Crewman two says as he walks quickly behind Buck.

Buck starts running through the Rockyshark with other various crew members chasing him. With all of them saying "Death imminent."

Buck runs into a room slamming the door behind him. Various crew come up on the door once he's shut it. It turns out to be a closet which has a another door to it on the other end. Buck is in a panic mixed with sadness, holding his forehead with a look of pain. He moves for the other door, only to find people are trying to get in. He is trying to hold back the door but isn't doing too well. All of a sudden, the door he came through busts open and in walks Toby and other crewmen. "Death imminent, One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Toby said. The other crew members enter from the other door. Buck stands there with a look of panic and fear, raises a gun towards Toby.

"Unwanted good continue?" Crewmen three asked.

"Leave me alone!" Buck yells as he holds his head and coughs some more.

"All seen here, you. Weapon cannot harm, all seen here, you," Toby replied.

Buck is in frozen fear. Toby walks towards him, not fearing the gun.

"You cannot harm me, all seen here, you. Weapon," Toby says again.

The crewmen who entered from the back door take hold of the frightened Buck.

In the Defense Directorate hallway Wilma is walking through it like she's looking for something. A moment later she's come to the door that leads to the flight hangar. She stands close to the door and listens to the noise that can be heard coming from the other side. It sounds like a strong wind coming out in a strange odd puffing, accompanied with a loud machine hum. She enters the door.

In the flight hangar, from the left top corner of the ceiling, from the right top corner of the ceiling, and from the floor and ceiling, in the middle on the room the beams with which a Star-port generates the opening to a micro-par stream are there. The light from this flickers around the room strangely. In front of the opening to the stream, a mass of people and aliens. The Directorate plus Buck and Janet are all moving towards the opening then disappearing.

Wilma stands at the doorway with her mouth open in shock. Huer walks from out of the crowd towards Wilma.

"Unwanted good continue?" Huer asked. The crowd stops moving and turns to look at the two.

"What's going on here?" Wilma asked confused.

"We're all leaving you. One Million Mark Zero, requesting payment for good continue," Huer replied as the crowd begins to move again towards the opening of the stream.

"I don't care if all of you leave me. I'd rather live in a flawed reality, than a fruitless fantasy," Wilma replied watching as the personnel disappeared into the stream.

"Unwanted good continue," Huer repeated as he starts to return to the mass of people moving into the opening of the micro-par stream.

Wilma watches the opening to the stream. Just as someone gets right up to it, they then flatten out into a 2D image and get sucked in. After a short time Wilma stands alone with only the opening to the stream still present, dancing its wild light across the large room. She turns and heads back to the door. Just as she approaches it, the beams that are used to create the opening to the stream detach from their walls and move towards the stream opening. As this happens the opening becomes smaller and smaller, right down to the size of a fist. Soon after that the stream looks like a ball of light with prism colors electrically moving about it. Suddenly it changes shape moving towards Wilma, from the ball into a javelin. Wilma watches as the javelin spears right through her, less than a moment later she disappears.

In Janet's home the young child now looks about 16 or 17 years of age. He's just walked up a flight of steps and is looking around, he's also carrying a firearm very openly.

"Unwanted good continue?" the teenager said.

In a dimly lit closet Janet sits hidden. Curled up as small as she could get she sits and cries.

Chapter 4

On the top deck of the Rockyshark Buck is standing on a plank sticking off the ship. He no longer has his gun, Toby is holding it now. And it's pointed at Buck's back. The whole of the Rockyshark crew stands behind Toby, watching.

"You are a traitor to your country. Unwanted good continue, death imminent," Toby said with a blank expression on his face.

Buck looks down at the surface which wavers like water. Just below that it's open space, doted with countless stars. In the center of this nighttime ocean are four Z-87s near its surface, circling around like sharks, once in a while firing outwards from themselves but never hitting each other.

"Wolves instead of sharks, cute." He coughs. "These images must all be in my head. There's no way all of this can be real," Buck says to himself.

"Unwanted good continue? Your death is imminent," Toby repeats.

"It's a robot, a machine, somehow putting all of these images in my brain," Buck replies as he gets a look of realization on his face. "Information transmitters! That must be what's doing this! But I don't see any .." He coughs some more then rubs his forehead. "They must be in the air some how! That's where my headache has been coming from! What's been causing me to cough!" Buck said a little louder. Buck looks back at Toby, who is giving an inquisitive stare of impatience.

"Sayonara," Buck said as he salutes Toby, then turns back to the awaiting ocean of stars and performs what looks like a well-practiced dive off the plank.

Back in the desert it's nighttime, but it's a full moon. Wilma is standing in this near barren place. The only objects are things that look like thick-vined plants. Off in the horizon are some mountains. The sky is nearly cloudless. Wilma starts walking towards the mountains. The vines under Wilma's feet have started to move in a snake-like manner. They wrap themselves around one of her ankles and leg. Then all of a sudden she falls down in total shock. She sits up and looks at a grouping of vines, which have entangled themselves around one of her ankles. She starts to fight with the vine, trying to pull the it off of her ankle.

"Wilma, it's not real!" Buck shouts.

"I know that, Buck! I just wish I knew how to get out of it! Where are you?" Wilma asked looking around trying to see Buck.

"I'm right beside you," Buck replied.

"I can't see you. All I can see is a fantasy." She coughs. "Something, has a hold on my leg! I can't get it off!" Wilma shouts back.

Back at the crash site, Buck kneels beside Wilma.

"Take this, shoot it loose from you," Buck said as he puts his firearm in one of Wilma's hands.

Back in the desert.. Wilma with a look of wonder on her face feels the other hand, which is holding the pistol, she feels and then finds the trigger. Pointing the invisible gun outwards, she fires at her ankle. The vines are hit, and she shouts in pain, closing her eyes.

"Buck, I-I shot my ankle," Wilma said loudly as she grabbed her ankle.

Back at the crash site. "It's not on your ankle, Wilma," Buck replies. Wilma turns to Buck giving him a dirty look. "How else was I to put it through to you how to break the fantasy," Buck replied.

"Did you ever find water?" Wilma asked.

"No. Where's Janet?" Buck asked.

Wilma tries to get up, but finds she can't.

"You stay here, I'll look for her. Your pistol, can I borrow it from you?" Buck asked.

"What for?" Wilma asked.

"One Million Mark Zero," Buck replied.

Wilma smiles and hands the gun to him. "Be my guest. Unwanted good continue," Wilma replied smiling.

Buck starts to walk away. "That wasn't funny, Wilma," Buck replies over his shoulder as he walks off.

Buck comes up on One Million, leaning over Janet who is sobbing.

"Stop tormenting her!" Buck yells out.

One Million turns to Buck. "One Million Mark Zero, what do you need?" One Million asked.

Buck is so enraged that he can't talk.

"Unwanted good continue. Her death is imminent," One Million Mark Zero replied as it turns back to Janet.

Buck raises his weapon and fires at it, shooting at it multiple times. One Million shutters wildly before collapsing to the ground.

Janet starts to cry even harder. Buck reaches for her hand. "I think we should get out of here quick. That robot, One Million Mark Zero was controlling some kind .." Buck starts to coughs. "Some kind or some form of metallic substance that's in the air that acted as information transmitters. That's what's been making us cough, and giving us headaches," Buck said pulling Janet to her feet.

"I..I've been doing some coughing. But I haven't had any headaches," Janet replies still weeping a little.

"Lucky me then," Buck replied with a chuckle.

Janet walks over to Buck. "Did you find any water?" Janet asked.

"No, and due to the situation we're in, I don't think we should stick around more to locate some," Buck replied looking down at the pieces of One Million

"Then what do you suggest is done?" Janet asked.

"You know you could say thank you for saving you from One Million Mark Zero's idea of a good time," Buck said as he watched some fluid leaking out on to the ground. Buck starts smiling. "Came a bubbling crude," Buck said jokingly.

Buck walked over to the wrecked robot. "That substance coming out of that ambuscade, what is it? And why are you smiling over it?" Janet asked as she starts to cough.

Buck starts fishing up some of the gas in a broken off large piece of One Million's shell. "Oil that is, Janet. This might just fix our little water problem," Buck replied glancing up at Janet.

Back at the crash site, Wilma is on the ground one leg fully resting on the ground. The injured ankle she has up in the air. She's finishing working on Janet's ship, and without turning back to see who's coming.

"Buck? Janet? Buck, did you find her?" Wilma asked.

"He found me, and destroyed that blasted machine that was turning our ideas of reality inside out," Janet replied as she approached.

"I swear even if there's not much choice in the matter I'm never coming back here again. Janet, did you find any water?" Wilma asked.

"No, but Buck." Janet was interrupted by Buck.

"Wilma, can Z-87s take Texas-T?" Buck asked.

Wilma turns away from the Z-87 she's been working on. "What? What are you talking about?" Wilma asked with a puzzled look on her face.

"Gasoline, Wilma. It was used to power a lot of things back in my day. Do you think you could set up her ship to take it instead of water?" Buck asked holding out the container of gas.

"Well, the Z-87s if need be can run on other fuels, but it isn't recommended," Wilma replies as she does some coughing.

"It's a very combustible fuel, I think I should warn you about that," Buck informs Wilma.

"I'll try my best," Wilma replies as she looks at the pool of gasoline Buck's holding.

"Wilma, in repairing the ship, did you come across what caused the magnetic grips to fail?" Janet asked kneeling down next to Wilma.

"I don't know, but my only guess is some kind of pollutant in the atmosphere," Wilma replied.

Buck and Janet look at each other. "What is it?" Wilma asked glancing up towards Buck and Janet.

Buck clears his throat. "Information transmitters. There might be others like One Million Mark Zero on this planet. If there are .." Buck stopped short with a look of concern in his eyes.

Wilma takes the shell filled with gasoline from Buck and looks at it. Wilma started to work quickly on finishing the repairs to Janet's ship, then climbed inside and switched the controls over so the ships system would work on the gas. Within an hour, the trio of ships had left the atmosphere of Otie Nine, and they headed off for the Niagara and the rest of the troop some distance away.

Back on Otie Nine, two robots that look like One Million stand before each other, one looking in its own way inquisitive of the other.

"One Million Mark One, One Million Mark Zero is no more," Inquisitive Bot said.

"An unwanted continue," Mark One replied.

Return to Earth