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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 71: Slade 232
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Brown 262
There was a hateful undertone to the robot’s voice, and Slade wondered at it. So he asked as he precisely stepped over the dead guard and into the Captain Emeritus’ off bridge office. The floor was a very pale green cerametal, which considering that the maintenance hallway had been a darker green probably meant some sort of alien insult. A desk for a standing alien or robot was along the far curved wall. A panel of glass, he wondered, showed a glaring flaming star in the distance. A round table with laser emitters on its edges sketched a holograph of a slowly spinning planet with dotted green lines extending from space going to orange dots on the surface, presumably showing current attacks. It was the Parakeet’s World. A half dozen chairs suited for the short aliens were lined up against the right wall he had just passed.
In the very middle of all that green floor was an enameled diagram of The Seeker.
“I guarded ship for close to seventy thousand years. I find my target planet is inhabited. I have to drive myself half crazy to bend my mandates to let us land. And when I do, and I turn ship over to the people I have trained and guarded, do they even thank? No. I hate them. I hate the indigenous. I hate you.”
“Retirement is a bummer,” Slade said, and ran toward the robot. The first overhand strike with the sword was followed by a stab to the chest with the dagger in a smooth one two. Both were instantly blocked, and Slade had to leap back out of the way of the countering riposte. He lunged for a leg, and got close, but two spinning blade arms blocked it, sending shivers up the blade as sparks rained right and left. But the robot did not follow him. Perhaps it meant to stay at the door, and wait until Shella was overwhelmed and more guards came running in.
That would not do. Slade began to lay on hammer and tongs, trying to beat down the robot by main strength. In the midst of the robot blocking every move it whistled in an easy mechanical voice.
“I have mapped how strong you are.”
“Have you?” Slade growled as he let his fury out for the second time. Shoving his dagger into the face of the robot, breathing heavily, he came back with a huge overhand swing with his sword. The robot began to duck aside, but Slade, incautious of the blades, dropped his dagger, and lifted the robot by the neck with his off hand. “By the power of Thor I smite thee!!!!!” he roared, and brought his blade down. Both arms of the robot rose from slicing into Slade’s left arm and chest. And he brought his blade down through them to bury it in the robot’s skull.
“It is physically impossible for you to generate that much force,” the robot said as smoke drifted out of its split cranium. “Maybe you are a god.” Then Slade threw it one handed over his left shoulder. Spinning about, he ran back to see Shella bolting her way down the corridor pursued by running aliens. He howled, and the aliens all skidded to a stop. He drew his hand across his neck and, leaning forward, looked at them. They took one step back, and ran. Shella crashed into him, tripping on the dead guard, and then noticed his arm. It had at least four long cuts in it that ran down the forearm. And it was rapidly being sheathed in blood.
“Slade, we’ve got to get you help.”
“No, love. This is the final act. Get me to the door.” His fury was gone, and Shella helped him stagger to the last door. Reaching out, he shoved his dagger into the crevasse. If the anti grenade field was not still working, wait, he thought. What do I do? He yanked open the door, and dropped to his face. Bolts of repulsor fire came out. He spoke the words, and magical darkness filled the bridge ahead of him. Realizing the bridge was out of the field, he threw in his last rosebud grenade to hear a thump, and a pained yell. Then unable to stand, he entered the bridge on his hands and knees, and found a leg by means of bumping it. Grabbing up with his right arm, and taking the alien down, he hooked up to its language center even as it squirmed in his arms.
In the background, he noticed his left arm felt like pain, fire, water, and the strength of a wet noodle.
“We wanted peace, but you chose war. Now surrender or die,” he coughed out his demand.
“Never will the Imperium surrender,” a voice shouted out strong and ruthless from the far side of the room. No one gainsaid it, and he heard aliens moving toward him in the dark, and alien troops stomping his way from behind.
“Time to take out the trash. Light it and toss it, love. I love you.”
“I love you too.” Then there was a slight spark from right behind him on the bridge, and a hiss, and something went over his head. Other things, bags of explosives, joined them.
“What is this trick? We will not,” the Captain shouted, and there was wind and fire, and the outgassing of atmosphere as the hull broke open, and the bodies of the Bridge crew flew into space. But Slade and Shella had already left for another world.
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: