Action! Adventure! Cliffhangers!
The Cliffhanger 250 is a return to the early days of science fiction, when Sword & Planet stories filled the pages of pulp magazines and names such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett were emblazoned on the covers. Step back in time and join the adventure!
Author's note: There was a lot to cover in this chapter, so you're getting a special, double-sized chapter today. Enjoy!
Having escaped from the raiders, our heroes wander into the desert in search of a trading post.
We spoke little throughout the afternoon, moving too quickly
to waste breath talking. At dusk, Rob
slowed the pace.
"While we're hardly safe, Highness," he said,
"following our trail will not be easy.
Especially from an airship."
"Thank you, Rob," the princess replied. Turning to me, she said, "You promised
us some unbelievable explanations, Scout First Class David Rice."
"First, please just call me David, Highness."
"Very well, David.
This is Captain Robbill Vonsteader, commander of my personal guard. I am Her Royal Highness, Princess Callan
Debah Lois Antrulta Ziliah Villas, daughter of His Royal Majesty, King Edwar of
Morandor. You may continue to call me
Highness, though Princess Callan is also correct."
“Thank you, Highness," my lips twitched up in a
smile. “I told you I was a member of the
Terran Exploratory Corps. Terra is the
original home of the human race.
Thousands of years ago, humans began leaving Terra, settling on other
worlds. We have no records of many of
the early colony ships. Part of my job
is to look for lost colonies." I
paused briefly, "Colonies such as your planet.
“Do you have such myths of a great journey,
Highness? Ships crossing the Sea of
Night or something similar?”
“We do,” replied the princess. “Scholars hotly debate whether the stories
are true or merely attempts to explain our presence here. You say those tales are true?"
“What proof do you offer, David? How do we know you are not simply insane?”
I held out the survival pack, "Highness, you've used
my weapon, heard me learn your language in less than a day, hidden beneath the
chameleon cloth, and watched me fight while Boosted. I can offer no more proof than that."
“Highness, all of this is fascinating,” said Rob in a
tone that belied his words, “but we must find a defensible place to spend the
night. The tammar you killed was drawn
by the scent of blood from our fight, but they usually hunt at night."
"Of course, Rob," Princess Callan said. "But if danger strikes, at least we have
David and his astounding Boost."
"Highness," I said, "do not depend on
that. Boosting again so soon could kill
The princess was shocked at my words. Rob, on the other hand, looked surprisingly
satisfied. Perhaps he was happy to learn
just how mortal I was.
A site was soon selected and camp established. We ate a meal of tasteless survival bars from
the pack then settled in for the night, Rob taking first watch. It seemed as if I had only just closed my
eyes when Rob's hand clamped over my mouth.
"Wake up but make no sound or sudden moves,"
I opened my eyes and instantly knew what was wrong. A long, black snake was coiled on the
princess's chest, its head raised and ready to strike. The princess lay still, fear filling her
eyes. All I could think was, what idiot
thought it would be a good idea to include cobras on a colony ship?
Rob and David save the princess from the lightning fast cobra? Find out in Chapter 11, coming