Friday, December 13, 2013

Scout's Duty - Chapter 30

< Chapter 29                                                                                                   Chapter 31 >
Our hero attempts to knock Orrons out with a rock!

Driven by my Boosted strength, the rock smashed into the side of Orrons' head!  I expected to hear the thunk of stone on bone, followed by Orrons toppling over.  Instead, I heard the clunk of rock on metal.

Orrons yelled in pain and flailed to knock me away from him.  An arm caught a glancing blow against my chest.  The wind was knocked out of me and I was sent flying.  I smashed to the ground thirty feet from the armored figure then tumbled heels over head for another ten feet.

When I stopped rolling, everything hurt and I was gasping to regain my breath.  I was dazed and unable to override my implant's safety protocols when they shut off Boost.  I couldn't move, capable of only staring into the bright sky.  Absently, I noticed that several of the airships were descending under full power.  To my dismay, I saw the Pauline was leading the way, no doubt under orders from Callan.  Didn't she understand how much I wanted to keep her safe?

"That sure was something, Rice!  The look on your face was priceless!"  Caudill laughed as the heavy tread of armored feet started toward me.  "Do you know why Orrons is so skilled with the armor?  I had his brain wired with a direct neural interface when he was five.  It gave him astounding control -- and a metal skull.  Add in a dozen years of practice and you get an artist with powered armor."

A neural interface installed in a still-developing brain?  That would kill most children!

"How many died before Orrons?" I wheezed, my breath returning.

"Only six."

Only?  Caudill was a worse monster than I had ever imagined!

Then Orrons loomed over me, blocking the sun, his foot raised to stomp the life out of me!

Without Boost and winded, has our hero’s time run out at last?  Find out in Chapter 31, coming Monday!

Here's an extra treat for those of you who haven't already seen my Facebook post.  Below is the artwork which will grace the cover of Scout's Honor when it's published in 2014.  Mark Propst, who I worked with on dozens of comic books, is the artist.  I hope you like it as much as I do!