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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 69: Slade 231
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 237
With the insignificancy spell cast, Slade and Shella hoped to walk into the Bridge. From there, things would get sticky. Not feeling any movement, but knowing by faith in Derek’s word that they had ascended two stories, the two waited for the door to open. Slade grinned suddenly, and stole a kiss from his wife who punched him lightly in the arm in response.
The elevator opened, and a dozen little green men were waiting to get on. Half of them were armed and looked, he thought, impatient. They were probably heading to the Landing Bay after receiving orders from the Ship’s Captain on the Bridge. Despite their prey being right in front of them, they merely grunted impatiently for him to move. He passed through them, the spell working.
Across a fifty-foot open space, he saw four guards in helmets and armored vests in gold and purple armed with long metal poles. Standing two on each side of a closed metal door with a crease vertically cutting it in half, they provided a sudden problem. On the door was a twining symbol of black and purple encircling a sign that read to Slade as ‘Bridge: Authorized Admittance Only’. He took one step forward, hoping his spell worked, but one guard glanced his way, suddenly started, and dropped his pike into a ready stance with a three-foot-long wire popping out of the tip, to be followed by a shimmering field. It was a larger version of the knives with which Derek had experimented.
Slade was already running forward, his kinetic blaster coming out. His shot took one guard in the head, and the alien slumped back, not dead. A sudden yell from several alien throats behind him was cut off by the closing of the elevator door. Slade was not sure why or how he had been caught out, but that mattered none now. As one guard reached for an obvious alarm button while another went to guard position with his repulsor pike, the last maintained a dumb look on his face. Racing to keep things under control, Slade flicked his dagger in an underhand toss. It flipped twice as he threw it through the wrist of the guard reaching for the alarm. Piercing through between the arm bones of its wrist made the guard’s eyes bulge in pain. It twisted to the side and began to fall, but managed to hit the alarm with his other hand as he tottered to the slick purple cerametal floor.
Whooping alarms shrieked through the air, and Slade pushed his muscles and nerve harder. He slid on his knees under the first pike, and came up with a slicing draw cut across the belly of the alien. Happily, the armor was not suited to stopping cold steel. Grabbing the pike from the alien’s nerveless hands, he tossed it at the other two guards to his left, even as he stood and stabbed the guard on the ground. Reaching over, he grabbed the dagger out of the now dead alien's wrist, and rolled into a forward roll. This kept the other pikemen from stabbing him in the back.
Turning about he saw Shella finish off the one he had stabbed with the thrown pike, the clueless guy. This left a single pikeman who looked, panicking, to the right and left, and then Slade shot him in the face as a test. He found the alien’s face was covered by an invisible shield of some transparent material in its helmet. This cut the damage by about a half, Slade estimated. Done with his experiment, he finished off the staggering alien with a simple run forward stabbing lunge. Then he flashed a grin at Shella, and she smiled back. Ah, this was the good life. He had a beautiful girl, a sword, a gun, a dagger, and lots of enemies to kill. The enemy had thought to have it easy striking the primitives from on high, but now the primitives were among them.
He turned to the door. Pushing a hand forward, he was not surprised when it did not open. Using the hand of one of the dead guards which bore a large ring produced a loud beep, but no door opening. That would be the regular door opener, overridden by the alarm. Behind him, he could hear the stamping running of many feet coming his way down multiple corridors. Hmmm. People made doors to stop themselves. A trap told you a lot of the fears of the being who made the trap.
Slade took his dagger, and shoved the point into the crease of the sliding doors. It went in, and he gave the pommel a hard pounding hammerstrike with his hand. It hurt, but oh well. The dagger split the doors, and he put one of the five rosebud grenades he had gotten from the commando team into his mouth. He pushed his fingers into the crevice, and yanked the door sides apart, forcing them back into the wall. He spat the rosebud grenade over the shoulder of the startled looking pikeman with his five close friends, and ducked back out of the way of the stabbing pike. A second later, he heard a thumph, and some moans. Rushing in, he saw all five lying on the black cerametal floor with multiple broken bones. Two were dead. He made the rest of them good enemies as well.
Quickly, he pushed on to a T intersection. This was not what Derek had described, but then The Wanderer had been run by an alien AI/robot without help from the locals. Both sides said ‘Authorized only’. He began to speak to the Norns, but an alien came charging down the right hand side, firing a repulsor pistol. This one did not have a pike, and had a lot of obsidian jewelry on its chest–probably an officer, Slade thought, as he dove to the left to bounce high off the corridor wall. He came back down, and back, and sliced through the alien’s neck with his sword.
“Slade, golem!” Shella shrieked from fifteen feet behind him, still in the approach corridor with the anti grav mess. He spun, and saw a robot coming around a corner toward him down the other branch of the T. The metal monster’s form remained much like the one that Derek had, except this one had a repulsor rifle affixed to its right arm, and a short active pike fixed to its left arm, along with a lot more armor. He feinted left, and went right, and the robot’s bolt missed him. He disdained the kinetic blaster, and tossed a rosebud grenade. It boomed, and the robot flew up to hit the ceiling, then came back down hard, clattering, but seemingly not damaged.
Charging in, he ducked another shot, and used its rifle arm to tangle up its pike arm, and used the tangle as a stepstool. Reaching the top of its flat head, he looked for the off button. The very handy safety feature was covered in a locked metal cover. Well, that was unfortunate; dangerous, too, he thought, if your robot goes berserk. Raising his sword up to pierce down, he drove the blade into the crevice between cover and robot with the aim being of ripping the heavy cover off, but the robot took a step and spun, sending him over. Not willing to break his sword, he let it go, and fell among four aliens who had been hiding behind the warbot. Reaching out, he grabbed a leg and yanked, while slicing through a tendon of another leg with his off hand dagger. Rolling to one knee, he put the other knee on the sliced alien’s throat even as a short pike stabbed him sideways through the back muscles. Uncertain what it might do if he moved, because it might just cut him open on the way out, he flipped his dagger in his offhand and flung it into the throat of the alien who skewered him. The skewering alien fell; the one he had been holding by its leg was bashing his leg with a broken repulsor rifle even as it tried to get loose. The last alien smiled, and said something as he lowered his pistol to Slade’s head. Slade leapt forward powered by his right leg, and smashed his face into the officer’s face. Then in a sudden fury he raised the alien he had been holding by the leg, and beat the last officer and that alien to death with each other.
As soon as the last alien was dead, the warbot behind him fired a repulsor rifle shot into his back. Screaming, Slade forced himself to not fall, but weaved as he turned, causing the pike to miss. His sword was on the far side of the bot, and if he could rip it free, he could power down this machine. More sounds of approaching troops were coming, and he heard shouting.
Shella grabbed the hilt of the sword, and dangled in the air. She began to pull the cover loose with her own body weight, and to Slade’s delight, he saw the robot turn. Without more ado, he leapt up, stabbed his dagger in the crack, and turned it. This shoved the button down, and the warbot stilled. Shella fell loose, and landed on her bottom. Groaning, she rose, rubbing her posterior ruefully, and absorbing her husband’s happiness with her while she rearranged the bags of Parakeet-made explosives that hung in sacks about her neck.
She held out a hand to get him to hold still. She then carefully pulled the energy pike out of his back before tossing it down in revulsion. He turned and retrieved his sword. Blood was dripping fast down his back, but he had no time to fix it. The sound of troops was imminently approaching around the corner, and Slade tossed out a rosebud grenade. Sounds of stomping feet were replaced with moans, but more feet came on, and another rosebud grenade answered that. Yet still more came, and there was less stomping, and more sounds of feet atop bodies, and he tossed his fourth grenade leaving him with one. But as it flew a static filled the air, and the grenade did not do anything.
“They’ve got a grenade suppressor field,” Slade yelled, and grabbing his wife’s smooth hand ran around the next corner, closer to what he hoped was the bridge. It was not. A single door at the end of a short corridor was guarded by one alien. The guard stood with a confidence that Slade recognized, as he had seen it many times in his own mirror. Already a repulsor rifle and pistol were on the ground along with a yellow vest. In its hands it lightly held a steel pike with no shimmering energy blade. The pike was headed with cold steel.
Hoping for an Indiana Jones moment, Slade quick-drew his kinetic blaster, and pulled the trigger. Nothing. The grenade suppression field was also an energy weapon suppression field, he decided.
“Hold them back, darling,” he called to Shella as he began to run, cold steel in both hands. Behind him, he could hear her chanting her magical phrases as she conjured a blunt force that would come as quite an unpleasant surprise to the advancing alien troops who assumed that only unpowered weapons would be working. He spoke to the Norns and Ullr about speed, and his pace accelerated. He feinted as if he were to come from the side, and then as if he were about to throw his dagger high, but in the end, he was seven feet from the alien when the guard appeared to realize the onrushing giant’s true plan. Slade crashed into the guard, using his sword to keep the sharp end of the pike away, and slamming him into the door behind him. Then he shoved his dagger into the guard’s head, and stepped back withdrawing the dagger. The guard fell, shock on its now dead face.
The door in front of him slid open, and he saw a four foot tall creature that looked like the aliens, if they had been made of shiny metal. The being, the robot, was standing, waiting for him in what looked to be a Captain’s office.
“You are not indigenous species of planet,” it whistled in broken Parakeet.
“No, we are not,” Slade whistled back. “Who are you?”
“I am former captain, now retired. We listen to radio. We hear voices. We learn speech.”
“You did pretty well.”
“Thank you is norm, correct?”
“Yes.” Behind him, he heard Shella yell out another spell down the corridor forty feet away. “I think we need to speed this up. Here’s the deal, surrender, and we let you and your people live.”
“I shall enjoy killing a god,” the robot said, and its hands retracted in an instant into its wrists to be replaced by spinning cutting blades. “Neither can I surrender. But I can block you from door to bridge.” And he took a position in front of a door to the left.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #487: A World in Space. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: