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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 123, Hastings 42
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Even as she flew through the air, she thought it was a crazy idea. Just because they hadn't been able to hit the thing with bullets or blasters was no reason to do something stupid. But it was too late to consider it. She had to grab the creature.
As it tried to snatch her, she got hold of its neck, and it began convulsing wildly. She clung to it, wrapping her arm around it. Now that she was here, she wasn't certain how she could kill it--or how she could survive if she did. But she kicked and swung, and soon had a leg over its wing. It was now panicking, as it couldn't fly so well with this thing on it, especially with its wing movements impeded. She could feel them dropping.
With a bit of effort, she got her weight over its shoulders. They were very unsteady, constantly moving to support the now violently flapping wings. But she wasn't here to ride the beast, only to stop it. She pulled herself more firmly on its back, still hanging on.
With a sudden jolt, she lost the disintegrator rod. Grasping for it, she almost lost her seat. She had a last glimpse of it falling into the valley below; but she probably couldn't have used it against the beast, as she couldn't have held it steady and pointed it. Besides, if she had any hope of surviving this foolishness, it was to ride the creature to the ground somewhere.
Her revolvers were empty; a well-placed bullet might have persuaded the thing to land, but she didn't dare reload. Even holding on with both hands was proving difficult; she hoped to use one hand to wound it, forcing it to land, but she couldn't dare let go completely.
If anything the ride grew rougher. She was not taming this thing, and it was not happy. She needed something to stop it.
She remembered her visit to Gavin's church. Maybe if she could break its train of thought--she gave a push. No change. Apparently it wasn't really thinking, at least not in a way that mattered. She would have to try something else.
What about heat? she wondered. But could she focus her mind on some part of it long enough to hurt it, and if it were hurt would it land? At that moment, it turned itself upside down, and she found herself hanging by her hands from its neck, dangling above she knew not what. The two kau sin kes she had draped around her neck jangled as they fell; the steel one was still wrapped around her waist.
By now perhaps her companions had made it, were out of reach. But she couldn't know. The creature righted itself, and again she fought her way back to its shoulders.
She did know that concentrating wasn't going to be easy, and heat was not the answer. But she did have the psionic weapons. Digging the fingers of her right hand into a flap of skin near the creature's neck, she drew the drill with her left. She wanted to wound it, to make it afraid to fly, force it to land. Perhaps a hole in the wing, she thought, nothing structural, but enough to weaken it. She aimed, and focused her thought.
Just as the weapon fired, the lizard lurched, and her hand moved. The invisible beam pierced the shoulder, and the wing on that side abruptly went limp, then wild. She had cut the support, and they were now falling. She held on for all she was worth.
The creature was flailing wildly, trying vainly to stay aloft on one wing with a weight on its back. They tumbled downward, both of them trying to stabilize. The mountainside rushed up toward them, and Lauren had to think of something fast.
She had one thought, and didn't know if it would work. But if she could get herself atop the beast and leap from it an instant before it struck the earth she might be able to slow her own descent sufficiently that she could absorb the remaining shock with a tumble and slide on the slope. It sounded crazy, but if she pushed off the much larger beast, she should go up more than it went down, then if she landed on its body and rolled from there, she just might make it. But she didn't have time to think it through, and no time to think of an alternative. She managed to move above the monster, squatting and holding on to the broken wing. There was no room for error. She leapt into a forward flip, and prepared to hit the ground and collapse into a tumble.
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 #69: Novel Conclusion. 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: