by Gary Inbinder
Table of Contents|
Chapter 5, Chapter 6
appear in this issue.
part 1 of 2
At seven p.m., Aurelia entered the fortress, parked her hover car and went straight to Dax’s office. She entered without knocking, and found Dax sipping an Andromedan vodka cocktail, with a giggling, female android guard on his lap. Aurelia glowered at the guard, and hissed, “Get back on duty before I put you on report.”
The flustered android stammered, “Uh...yes, Colonel,” got up, buttoned her uniform, and ran out the door.
Dax smiled, took a swig of his cocktail, and said, “You’re such a spoil-sport; the three of us could have had a party.” Admiring her sun dress, he added, “I see you’re dressed for the occasion.”
“You drunken fool,” Aurelia snapped, “we need to get moving. Where’s Ludwig?”
Dax put down his drink, and got up from behind his desk, a mini-blaster concealed in his left hand. “Sorry, Colonel; the party’s over. Zack will be here in less than thirty minutes. When he arrives, I advise you to salute smartly, say Hail Finn, and forget your fiancé.”
Motioning toward the desk with his blaster, he added, “Now, open your purse, empty the contents on my desk, and then — the fun part — put your hands on top of your head, and turn around so I can make sure you aren’t hiding any little weapons on your lovely person.”
Aurelia walked slowly toward Dax, holding her leather handbag in front of her. When she was within a few feet of him, she made a movement so rapid he had no time to react. The mini-blaster flew out of his hand, its ruby-colored ray burning a dime-sized hole in a portrait of the First Consul.
Before Dax realized he’d been disarmed, Aurelia flipped him over the desk, and held his throat in a vise-like death grip. “Dax, you have one chance of survival: take me to Ludwig and leave with us in my hover-car. If you want to live, blink your eyes twice.”
Dax responded affirmatively. Aurelia released her grip on his throat and let him get to his feet. She walked Dax toward a corner of the office, retrieved the blaster and then pointed the weapon at his back. Aurelia followed Dax back to the desk, grabbed her purse and ordered, “Alright, let’s move.”
Dax smiled. “You win, Aurelia; but I’ll be damned; I never suspected you were a combat ’droid.” Half-turning his head to look at her, he added, “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me.”
“It had better be if you want to live to spend the money I paid you to get Luddy out of here. Now, let’s go.”
* * *
Ludwig lay on his cot, an almost empty whiskey bottle in hand. Staring at the ceiling, he mumbled the words to a popular song.
Upon entering the room, Aurelia exclaimed, “Oh great; he’s smashed.”
Ludwig propped himself up on his elbows, smiled goofily, and mumbled, “Hey, Aurelia and Dax, let’s party.”
Aurelia grabbed a pitcher of ice water from the table, and flung the contents into Ludwig’s face. Startled sober, he shook his head like a wet dog, muttering, “What the hell?”
Aurelia snarled, “Get your ass squared away, Ludwig. We’re moving out on the double.”
Dax, Aurelia’s blaster still trained on his back, sniggered, as Ludwig jumped out of bed, spluttering, “Yes sir... ma’am.” Still a bit shaky, he followed them out of the room. They walked down a long, brightly lit gray concrete corridor in the direction of the garage. Guards challenged them at two checkpoints; each time, Aurelia, with her mini-blaster concealed in the palm of her right hand, flashed her identification with her left; the guards saluted, and passed them on without question.
Before entering the hover car, Aurelia noticed a final checkpoint guard speaking excitedly into his transmitter. When Aurelia started the engine, the guard shouted, “Wait, ma’am,” and ran toward the hover car.
Aurelia exclaimed, “Fasten your seatbelts, gentlemen,” opened the throttle, and headed full speed toward the exit.
The guard cried, “Halt!” leveling his blaster at them.
Aurelia yelled, “Get down, Dax,” raised her right hand, and drilled a hole through the guard’s forehead with her mini-blaster, just as the hover car flew by the final security checkpoint.
Aurelia punched in the exit code with her left hand, while skillfully steering the speeding hover car through the narrow opening with her right. Entering the dark forest surrounding the hidden fortress, Aurelia, piloting with the aid of a night-vision screen, raced around rocks and trees like a downhill slalom skier skirting obstacles. Soon, Ludwig noticed lights behind them; there were four guards, chasing them on hover cycles.
“We’ve got company, Aurelia.”
Aurelia handed him the mini-blaster, saying, “Alright, Luddy, make yourself useful.”
Sitting in the back, Ludwig opened the left side window, turned on the blaster’s infrared sight, and aimed at the lead guard. His first shot, at about seventy-five feet, just missed, splintering a tree-branch to the guard’s right. The second shot hit the windscreen; the hover cycle veered off course, colliding with the one behind it. The crashing cycles’ fuel tanks exploded, blowing a large orange fireball back into the third, scorching the rider; the third cycle careened into a tree, bursting into flame. The fourth rider swerved around the flying debris, continuing the pursuit, and rapidly closing the distance.
“Damn fine shooting while crocked,” Dax observed.
“Thanks, Dax,” Ludwig replied, “but Aurelia’s driving makes me feel like I’m going to puke.”
At that moment, the hover-cyclist aimed a shot; the ray deflected off a nearby rock, ricocheting into the right side hover-car door.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2007 by Gary Inbinder