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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 109: Slade 36
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The blunt force of a blaster impacted on Slade's leather armor; it was going to leave a bruise. A few shots from Ishara, and the hall was clear as the guards ducked back around the corner. But they had cover; Slade and his companions did not.
"Get that door open, George," he said. "I'll deal with this." Drawing his blaster, he ran down the hall toward the corner.
One guard peeked his head out, and paid for it as the blaster's invisible shot slammed into his face. Then a gun appeared around the corner, apparently intending to fire randomly down the corridor, but it was too late. Slade was there. Blaster against blaster, he thought, was fine for ranged combat; but now that he was on top of them, the advantage was his. Tossing his own gun into the air, in one smooth movement he drew the sword and sliced the wrist holding the enemy weapon. His left hand grabbed the grip of his own blaster before it hit the ground and he turned as the guards came into view, glaring at them menacingly, and pausing just long enough to drop the blaster back into its holster. Then with a roar he charged into their midst, swinging the sword forcefully yet accurately, demolishing any semblance of order or discipline the enemy might have had.
There was blaster fire all around him, but the shots were wild, most pounding against the walls or dissipating down the hall. These soldiers were the equivalent of archers, trained to fight by trading arrows over a barricade, and faced with the primitive violence of a sword-wielding knight they panicked. They were neither trained nor equipped for such an encounter.
Some shots hit him, but none of them solidly; and the leather continued to do its job, reducing the impact. He was going to hurt in the morning; no, he was hurting already. But he was a warrior, one of Odin's chosen, and it would take more than a few bruises to stop him, much more.
The force brought against them was formidable. There were between twenty and thirty men in the hall when he arrived. There were now ten on the floor, dead or disabled, and about as many fleeing down the hall. Of those who remained, it was difficult to tell which ones were trying to fight and which were trying to figure out which way to run. One made a dash back toward the captain's office, but fell as soon as he cleared the corner, victim of Ishara's skill. One got slammed into the wall, and was trying to get his feet back under him. Slade, on the other hand, gave no quarter, skillfully using the bodies of those within his reach to shield him from blasters aimed from behind them, and starting to count down the number remaining.
And then there were none. Slade stood amidst the slain, admiring his own handiwork, and wiping his sword. "All clear," he shouted, and started back toward the others.
George was just opening the door; Tom rushed out, already talking about how he knew it was a trap, and couldn't believe he walked right into it. Ishara was just keying his communicator. Abruptly he dropped it and drew his blaster. Why, Slade wondered, is he shooting in my direction? And before he had the chance to consider it, he felt the answer impact solidly on the back of his neck. He was thrown forward and felt his legs somewhere behind him, but never felt the floor.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #64: Versers Gather. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: