Monday, June 9, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 106

< Chapter 105                                                                                                   Chapter 107 >
David has found Martin, but our hero may not survive long enough to find out if Martin is alive or dead!

I couldn't tell if Martin was dead or alive and wouldn't be able to find out until I could put some cover between the pinnace and me.  As if to drive that home, the landscape was lit by the flash of another laser shot.  The ground was seared  not a couple of yards from where I would have been if grabbing Martin hadn't checked my speed.

"I found Martin."

The pirates already knew where I was, so there was no reason not to give Megan some hopeful news.  I slung Martin over my back in a miner's carry, something included in the low-gravity vacuum training at the academy.  I wouldn't be as fast or maneuverable as before -- something which might kill me -- but at least I knew what to do.

"Is he alive?" Megan asked.

I wish she hadn't made even a small broadcast over the comm, but I understood why she did it.  Meanwhile, I was moving again, trying my best to move fast and change directions even faster.

"You know Martin," I said.  "He's hard to kill!"

Another laser flash.  That one hit so close my hand was burned on the heat conducted by the rocky surface.  Bits of blasted rock pelted Martin and me, giving both of us new cuts and bruises.

"Heidi, please tell me you're about to pull out of the docking bay and blow this pinnace out of the sky!" I called.

"No, the startup sequence still has-"

"Hang on, David!  I'm coming to help!"

"Milo?  What do you mean?"

Instead of zigging or zagging, I came to a complete halt.  The next laser blast was even closer than the one before it.  This time, I lifted my hand off the ground before it could burn, but my toes got uncomfortably warm through my boots.

"He took the pinnace," Heidi replied.  "We assume he's coming to pick you up."

"You were all just sitting around in the ship hoping David and Callan weren't going to get killed," Milo said.  "Hoping never got me anything when I was living on the street and it's not going to save our friends now!"

The pirate gunner was getting closer and closer to burning Martin and me.  No matter how random I tried to make my movements, maybe there was some pattern emerging.  Maybe I was too slow.  Maybe it was time for a complete change in evasion tactics.  I pushed off with my hand and pulled my legs up tight against my chest.  When I was pointing a bit above the distant ridge I'd been trying to reach, I kicked hard off the surface of the asteroid.  Martin and I arrowed toward the ridge, moving faster than I could have on the ground but in a straight line -- one I could not change for several seconds.

The move took the gunner by surprise.  His next shot was to the left of where I had stopped, as if he had guessed I would head off in that direction.  I would have, too.

"Milo," Heidi was saying, "what are you planning to do?"

"Save the only people besides my sister who have ever cared about me."

"We're going to be fine, Milo," I said.

"No, you're not," Milo said.  "Not without help.  I can see you and the pirate pinnace.  The laser is already tracking your path."

It looked like my gamble had only bought me a few more seconds of life.

"Callan, Megan," I called.  "I did my best but it just wasn't good enough."

"No!  You're not dying if I can help it!" Milo shouted, drowning out the cries from Callan and Megan.

Milo's pinnace sped past me, mere yards above my head.  The pirate laser flashed but the pinnace blocked the shot.

"Take care of Kim for me," Milo said.

The pirate pilot didn't realize what Milo was doing until it was too late.  Milo smashed into the pirate ship and both pinnaces disintegrated in a ball of flame!

Will our heroes survive or will Milo’s sacrifice be for naught?  Find out in Chapter 107, coming Wednesday!