Friday, August 30, 2013

Scout's Oath - Chapter 77

< Chapter 76                                                                                                   Chapter 78 >

Our hero is afraid Martin may lose his badly mangled hand!


With the bleeding stopped -- or at least slowed down to a trickle -- there was little more I could do for Martin other than bind his hand against his chest.  Keeping it raised would help with the bleeding and immobilizing it would help with the pain.

Martin watched me work without really seeing what I was doing.  "Lose the hand, huh?

"Probably.  Maybe.  I'm not a doctor, Martin.  I mean, who knows what Tristan could do if he was here?  He might be able to save it."

"If I do lose the hand, I'll be unconscious by the time it's been cut off.  So I need you to promise something, David."

"You want me to give the hand a proper burial?"

"Hm?  Good idea, but no.  Promise me you'll have them give me a nice, shiny hook."


"I thought you watched lots of old adventure vids when you were a kid.  Raider?  Pirate?  Hook?  It's traditional!"

"Tell you what, let's worry about that after we get out of this alive."

"Excellent point, lad!  Got any ideas for doing that?"

"I think so.  Last time I was down here, there was a big opening in the ceiling.  It was used to drop victims to the tammar."  I tied off the last of the bindings holding Martin's arm.  "I'm going to try to knock a hole in King Rat's new ceiling!"

I went through the tools left here for the workmen and selected a hefty hammer.  I climbed one of the bars to the cage, leaned out as far as I could, and started whacking the new plaster.  The angle was awkward and my shoulder and arm were aching within minutes, but I was making fast progress.  Then we heard shouted orders outside the door.

King Rat's reinforcements had arrived!

Can our heroes escape through the ceiling before King Rat's guards come through the door?  Find out in Chapter 78, coming Monday!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Scout's Oath - Chapter 76

< Chapter 75                                                                                                   Chapter 77 >

His hand mangled by a tammar's claw, Martin lies atop the cage-tunnel as the tammar prepares to strike again!


Martin rolled, bringing his sword arm down against the bars.  I thought he must be crazy trapping his sword at his side!  Then Martin pushed off from the bars with his good arm.  He had just enough leverage to push himself a few inches up from the bars.  The tammar's claw slashed beneath him, tearing his shirt but missing the arm!

Martin swung his sword arm between the bars of the cage-tunnel and across the tammar's eyes.  With a yowl, the tammar rolled away, its paws batting futilely at the sword which was already pulling back.

Cradling his wounded hand, Martin gathered his legs under himself and jumped down next to the  tammar pulling itself past the two dead tammars and into the full sized cage.  Martin stumbled on the landing, a cry of pain escaping his lips as he steadied himself with his wounded hand.  Rising, he drove his sword again and again into the body of the squirming tammar.  By the time I reached his side, the cage-tunnel was completely blocked by three dead tammars.

"Sit down before you fall down," I said, catching his left arm at the elbow and helping him down.

"Does my hand look as bad as it feels?"

"I'll let you know when I can stop the bleeding and get a good look."

I tore my shirt off and pressed it hard against the shredded palm.  Martin hissed but held his hand steady.  I worked fast, following my training and the information fed to me from my implant.  In the wider galaxy, medical nanites would repair the worst of the damage in minutes.  Here...

"I hate to say it, Martin, but I think you're going to lose the hand!"

As if the odds against our heroes aren't bad enough, now Martin is badly wounded!  How can they hope to prevail against King Rat and his subjects?  Find out what happens next in Chapter 77, coming Friday!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Scout's Oath - Chapter 75

< Chapter 74                                                                                                   Chapter 76 >

After slamming the cage door shut, our hero sees the door rebound open again!


"There's no latch!" I yelled.

"Maybe it was on backorder," Martin replied as we both looked about for something to use to block the gate.  There was nothing -- no wire, no steel bars, no handy padlock large enough to do the job.  There wasn't even anything we could push in front of the cage door to buy a few more seconds.

A boom echoed as the workmen and guards slammed shut the only door out of the pit.  Our only hope for escape was blocked.  Either we dealt with the tammars or they would deal with us!

I glanced at the tammar pulling itself past the two Martin and I had slain.  We had mere seconds before the tammar would be bounding across the pit floor.  Even Boosted, there was no way I could reach the creature before it go free and Martin was on the wrong side of the cage-tunnel to attack it.

Martin crouched and then sprang up to the top of the tunnel.  It was too high for him to clear in a single bound, so he turned it into a vault.  Grabbing a bar over the top, he swung his feet around toward the far side of the tunnel.  It was a great move, just the kind of thing you'd see from the hero in an adventure vid, but he was just too near the tammar in the back.

A claw lashed out and blood spurted over the bars as Martin's hand was ripped open!  He cried out in pain and lost his grip on the bars.  Martin dropped onto the bars at the top of the tunnel and in easy reach of the tammar below!

Another claw slashed toward Martin and there was nothing I could do to help him!

Is this the end for Martin Bane?  Find out in Chapter 76, coming Wednesday!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Scout's Oath - Chapter 74

< Chapter 73                                                                                                   Chapter 75 >

Our hero faces the tammars by himself as Martin runs to attack from the flank!


One of the tammars in the back got tired of waiting to get out into the open cage and slashed at the right flank of the tammar I had been fighting.  A roar turned into a yowl as the wounded tammar's rear leg collapsed under the force of the blow.  The impatient tammar began climbing over the lead tammar.

Seeing my opportunity, I struck at the wounded and distracted predator.  My blade struck true, piercing the tammar's left eye and plunging into its brain!  In a move my hoped-for children would find morbidly fascinating, I wiggled my sword around, slicing the tammar's brain into many parts.

The tammar pulled away from me in reflex, freeing my sword.  The tammar spasmed and convulsed in violent death throes as the last impulses from the pieces of brain went awry.  The impatient tammar found itself flung left and right, unable to get past the dying predator.

Then Martin dashed up to the side of the cage.  He thrust his sword into the throat of the impatient tammar and sawed through muscle and arteries.  Blood fountained from the tammar, soaking it and its dying companion.

"The tunnel is blocked, David!" Martin shouted over the screams of the dying and trapped tammars.  "Get out of there before the other two start clawing their way out!"

I sprinted for the cage door.  Behind me, the two healthy tammars were already starting to claw at the dying ones, trying to get to me.  I cleared the door before either of them cleared the cage-tunnel and slammed the cage door shut.  With a clang, the cage door rebounded and swung open again.

The first tammar was poking its head out of the tunnel when I saw that the cage door had no latch!

Is there any way our heroes can escape the tammars?  Find out in Chapter 75, coming Monday!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Scout's Oath - Chapter 73

< Chapter 72                                                                                                   Chapter 74 >

Our heroes stand against four angry tammars!


The first tammar tried to leap while it was still in the cage-tunnel.  The bars rang from the impact and the tammar's charge slowed.  I took advantage of the distraction to slash it across the cheek.  The tammar roared and swatted at my blade, smacking the tip of it.  The tammar roared again as the blade tip plunged into its paw but the power of the blow almost knocked my sword from my hand!

As I stepped back from my thrust, Martin lunged at the angry tammar.  The tammar tried to rear up on its hind legs and whacked its head on the bars again.  Martin manage to score a cut on the tammar's leg before leaping back just ahead of slashing claws!

"Martin, we can't keep this up long enough to kill any of the tammars!"  I lunged for one of the tammar's eyes but ended up slicing through an ear.

"Got any ideas?"  Martin tried for the other eye but his blade just scraped along the jawbone.

"Yeah.  You run out of the cage and attack them through the bars of the tunnel."  I stabbed a slashing paw that came too close.

"Why me?" Martin asked.

"Because I've adjusted to Boost and can do it longer than you," I replied, slashing a leg.  "Now go!"

Someone else -- my wife, for instance -- might have argued with me.  Martin and I both had Scout training and, more, both knew I was the logical man to guard the tunnel.  Martin made a wild swing to force the tammar back then bolted for the cage door.

I moved to block the center of the tunnel exit and stood alone against the tammars!

Can David hold off the tammars long enough for Martin kill them or drive them off?  Find out in Chapter 74, coming Friday!