Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 101

Scout's Honorthe first book in the Scout series, is now available as an ebook from Amazon for the low price of $1.99!  Click the title to buy it.

< Chapter 100                                                                                                   Chapter 102 >
David and Martin plan to go for a swim — on the airless surface of an asteroid!

Megan asked the question which was on the mind of every Aashlander.  "Swimming where there's no water?  Is this some kind of Scout thing?"

"Asteroid miners named it and the name stuck.  They do teach it in the Scout Academy," I answered.  "It's a fast way of moving across uneven surfaces in very low gravity.  You lay down and pull yourself along with your hands and feet, pushing off the surface just enough to stay a few inches above it.  The miners called it swimming because it looks more like someone swimming underwater."

"So we're all going for a swim?" Callan asked.

"More or less.  Martin and I are going to use it to get close enough to attack the pirates," I said.  "The rest of you will use it as best you can to get closer to the docking bay."

"David, what makes you think your fellow fighting men would not follow you into battle?" Rupor asked, bristling just a bit.  "Leave a man or two to guard the women, of course, but do not presume that we are unworthy to join you!"

"Rupor, would you take an untrained soldier into battle?  One who had listened to a very brief description of the principles of swordsmanship but had never held a sword?"

"Of course not, but swordsmanship is a complex science while this swimming you describe sounds quite simple!"

I pointed to a high outcropping about twenty yards away.  "Tell you what, Rupor, if any of you reach that rock before Martin and I reach the pirates, I'll withdraw my objections and you're welcome to join us fighting the pirates."

Rupor nodded, both satisfied and more thoughtful.

Callan kissed my lips.  "Don't get yourself killed."

Megan scooted up next to me and kissed my cheek.  "Don't let Martin get himself killed."

Rupor pulled himself past me.  "I'm not going to kiss you, but would appreciate it if the two of you came back alive.  Your deaths would put quite the damper on my courtship of Heidi."

"I wouldn't want my death to inconvenience you, so will endeavor to stay alive," I replied.  Turning to Harris, I said, "You've got good instincts, Harris.  Pay attention to them and I know you'll get the women safely back to the ship."

"If you're quite finished kissing your wife and being kissed by my wife-to-be," Martin said, "perhaps we could get on with this?"

"Yes, O jealous one.  You go northwest and I'll go northeast."

"Got it.  Last one to the fight buys the drinks when we get back to civilization!"

With that, I swam quickly away from my group.  Swimming across the surface of an asteroid looks easy and sounds easier, but it takes a lot of practice to achieve a balance of upward push and forward pull.  It had been over two years since I'd last had a chance to swim across an asteroid, but I had practiced a lot before crashing on Aashlan.  The rhythm came back to me within seconds and I flowed across the asteroid's surface as fast as I could have run in full gravity.

A couple of laser shots flashed around me, but neither one was close.  I was too low to present a good target and too fast for accurate aiming with a hand weapon.  Meanwhile, the shots told me where to find the pirates.  I slithered and swam around rocks and craters and ridges until I was behind the pirates' position.  Then I headed straight in, hoping to catch them by surprise.

I came upon a band of four pirates moving and shooting toward the ridge we had hidden behind.  With a grin, I pulled myself forward at top speed.  Then luck turned against me.  One of the pirates looked down at his belt to get a fresh energy pack for his pistol and must have seen me out of the corner of his eye.  We were on different comm channels, so I didn't hear his shout but his friends did.

I was twenty feet from the pirates when they spun about, pistols raised to burn me to a crisp!

How can our hero avoid the aim of the pirates?  Find out in Chapter 102, coming Friday!