Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 104

< Chapter 103                                                                                                   Chapter 105 >
Pirate Captain Quint has sent an armed pinnace to blast our heroes off the face of the asteroid!

We were surrounded by all sorts of good cover against an attack from the ground, none of which would do any good against an attack from above.  I scanned all around us hoping to spot something close by but came up empty.

"To your right and back a bit," Rupor called.

I immediately swung to my right, trusting Rupor to know what he was talking about.  A jumble of boulders was scattered across the surface thirty yards from us.  The rocks lay far enough apart for us to wriggle between them but close enough to give cover from every direction except directly overhead.  In truth, it was better cover than I'd hoped to find.

"Martin, do you see the cover Rupor found?"

"It looks great," Martin said.  "Get the ladies and His Highness wedged in there as fast as you can."

"What about you?  Aren't you coming?" Megan asked.

"No ma'am," the sergeant answered.  "We're going to keep heading straight."

"What?" Megan cried.  "You'll be an easy target out there!"

"Yes, they will, miss," Harris said.  "It's a marine's duty to protect civilians from the enemy, even at the cost of his life."

Megan stifled a cry but, to my relief, she didn't break our train.

"Don't worry, Megan," Martin added, "we won't be quite the sitting ducks you imagine.  The pinnace will come upon us suddenly and probably be past us before they even realize we're here.  I think we can reach that overhang ahead of us before they can get back to us."

"Aashla's Hope," I called, "how long before you can come after us?"

"We began the startup procedure as soon as the marines retreated back to the docking bay," Heidi said, "but the reactor won't be online for another seven minutes."

"Do not cut any corners to get to us sooner," Martin ordered.  "A reactor containment breach would be far worse than the eleven of us being forced to hide for a few minutes!"

"Heidi is piping your conversation through out the ship," Laura said.  "As chief engineer of this ship, I acknowledge and accept your order, sir!"

I reached the edge of the boulder field and pulled up.  Catching Callan's hand, I guided her in between two of the larger ones.

"Keep moving, Callan.  Megan is coming in right behind you."

As Callan slipped from my sight, I sent Megan in after her.

"You're next, Harris," I said.  "Whatever happens, stay with the women and guard them with your life!  The prince and I will be just inside the edge of the field, keeping an eye out for pirates."

It was a tighter fit for Harris, but he pulled himself in after Megan.  Before Rupor and I could get under cover, the pirate pinnace swept up from the direction of the docking bay.

As Martin had predicted, the little ship overflew our positions, but the pilot knew his business.  Braking thrusters fired and the pilot threw the ship into a flat spin.  The ship was still moving away from Martin and the marines but the gunner got off one shot before the pinnace went beyond the horizon.  The beam was so bright the bleak landscape was cast into sharp relief for a fraction of a second.

In terrible silence the laser struck the ground and bodies went flying!

Are Martin and the marines all dead?  Find out in Chapter 105, coming Friday!