Friday, April 24, 2015

Scout's Law - Chapter 12

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The trog patrol is climbing the rocky slope toward our heroes hiding place!

I motioned for Callan and Chris to back away from the crest of our part of the mountain. We slithered down as quickly and quietly as possible. Once the trogs couldn’t see us if we stood, I rose to my feet and unbuckled my sword belt.

“What are you doing, David?” Callan whispered, her voice barely audible above the sound of the trogs slogging through the scree on the opposite slope.

“Trade swords with me, Chris.” I held my sword belt out to the ensign. “There is no way I’m letting Rob’s sword fall into trog hands.”

Callan scowled at me and her voice took on a brittle edge. “Darling, I asked you a question.”

Chris froze, his head swinging back and forth between the two of us, his sword belt only partially unbuckled. I shook my sword belt under his nose.

Now, Ensign!” Turning back to Callan, I said, “I’m going to distract the trogs and give you and Chris a chance to either hide or find another way out of here.”

“Let’s find that hiding place or another way out—together. All three of us,” Callan pleaded.

“This is who I am, Callan, and this is what I do. And you knew that when you married me,” I said, smiling. “Remember, a kingdom needs a monarch and it needs an heir. Your father is safe, thank God, and I’m about to ensure his heir is safe, too.”

Callan nodded reluctantly, wrapping her arms around me for a quick, perhaps final, hug. That’s when Chris dropped his sword belt and bolted back up the slope!

“I’ll distract the trogs! You must protect Princess Callan!”

I grabbed for Chris’s arm but the boy timed his break perfectly. With Callan’s arms entwined around me, I couldn’t lunge after Chris. My fingertips brushed against his sleeve and then the boy was out of reach.

The flash of sunlight momentarily blinded me and memories of another sixteen-year-old boy flooded my mind. I saw a pinnace flash past, meters above me and heard Milo’s last words.

“You’re not dying if I can help it! Take care of Kim for me.”

My vision cleared and I saw Chris raising his arms as he reached the top of the slope. Much as I wanted to charge after the boy and protect him, my duty lay with Callan. Honoring Chris’s last plea, I turned away from the ensign and dragged Callan around the rocks and out of sight of the top of the slope.

A blaster rifle fired, followed closely by a second. Even as I carefully led Callan down the steep scree we’d used to hide the trog body, I waited for Chris’s last cry as the bolts blasted the life out of him. Instead, the trog leader shouted something. No third shot came and I realized one of the two shots must have killed the boy instantly.

Tears welled up in my eyes and I harshly crushed the emotions which drew them forth. With no idea how long Callan and I had before the trogs investigated further, I simply couldn’t afford the luxury of emotions, much less tears. I gave Callan a quick glance and saw her wipe at her eyes, but also saw a look of grim determination settle over her face. Between the two of us, we would make the trogs pay dearly for Chris’s life!

We slipped and slid past the point where the trog’s corpse was buried under the stones. A dozen feet later we reached the boulders piled at the bottom of the scree. Callan and I quickly scanned the area, hoping for a narrow passage between boulders, and came up empty. Far away, the trog leader issued more orders and I had to assume he was ordering his warriors onward.

I dragged Callan off to the side of the scree. “Lay down, Callan, and I’ll cover you with stones. If I handle it right, maybe the trogs won’t spot you.”

With a nod, Callan laid down at my feet. As I scooped loose stone up around her, she asked, “What are you going to do, David?”

“Once you’re covered, I’ll Boost and jump up on top of the boulders.”

“Won’t that put you in plain sight from the top of the hill?”

“If I planned on staying there, it would. I’m going to find a crevice or gap between boulders and slide down out of sight.” I smoothed the rocks around Callan to appear more natural. Stroking her cheek once, I carefully piled stones around and over her head. “Stay as still as possible dear, don’t say or do anything until I come for you, and remember that I’m nearby. I love you.”

A muffled voice responded, “I love you, too, darling.”

Upslope, I heard trogs moving closer so wasted no time issuing a command to my implant.

Boost!

Adrenaline flooded my veins and time slowed as strength surged through my body, driving away all my fatigue. I crouched and leapt up between two boulders. There were no handholds, so I simply pressed both arms against the sides of the two boulders. Boost-enhanced muscles locked against the rock, giving me the chance to swing the rest of my body up and over the top of the smaller boulder. Without Boost, my attempt would have been impossible. With Boost, I was over the top of the boulder and crouched in the crevice where two boulders met in less than ten seconds. Once I was safely out of sight, I dropped Boost.

I made it just in time. A few seconds after I dropped from sight I heard several trogs stop at the top of the scree. A discussion of some kind followed, resulting in what I assumed was a call for the leader. The crunch of feet in loose stone announced the leader’s arrival and I heard yet another discussion. The leader gave an order which resulted in what I could only interpret as a complaint. The leader spoke more harshly and the complainer shut up.

At long last, I heard many trog feet trudge away from the top of the scree and slowly fade away. Relieved, I started a slow count to thirty, planning to go pull Callan out at the end of the count. It’s a good thing I waited. When my count reached nine I heard the unmistakable sound of two trogs climbing down the scree toward us!


Will the trogs discover the corpse or find Callan? Find out in Chapter 13, coming Monday!