Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Scout's Law - Chapter 14

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Trapped on a mountain, David and Callan hear the unmistakable sound of an approaching airship!

I caught Callan’s hand and pulled her toward the scree. “We’ve got to get out of this deathtrap before the airship attracts the trogs!”

Sticking to the side of the scree, I used one hand to pull myself up using the smaller rocks lining the edge of the slope. I used the other hand to pull Callan up behind me. We made surprisingly good time, all things considered, and this method allowed me to concentrate on climbing and Callan to serve as lookout.

“Can you see the airship yet?” I asked between pants and gasps as I strained to get up the slope as fast as possible.

“Not yet. I think it’s on the other side of this mountain.” Callan was breathing nearly as hard as I was even though I was climbing for both of us. She’d exerted too much with very little rest. “Let’s hope it stays there, too. If it swings around to our side of the mountain, it’s bound to draw the trogs along with it.”

Surely the crew would spot our wrecked airships and swoop down for a look. That, alone, ought to keep them busy for far longer than it would take Callan and me to climb this slope. Unless, my mind handily reminded me, they’d already investigated the wrecks and were searching for survivors.

We passed the halfway point in our climb and I found myself wondering how the trogs would react to the airship. With blaster rifles, they could very well blast the ship out of the sky if it came within reasonable shooting range. Would the trogs fire on the ship or just hide and wait for it to sail away. Then I remembered the wind storm from the night before. Whoever was in charge of this place was pretty keen on keeping it a secret for as long as possible.

“The airship is slowing, David, and I think it will come around the mountain very soon.”

“Almost to the top, dear.”

“You’d better hurry, darling. The airship just flew into view.” Callan was silent for a couple of seconds then spoke again. “And now the trogs are on the move. I can hear them walking on the loose stones.”

“Can you get the attention of someone on the airship? A rain of crossbow bolts on the trogs will come in very handy if the trogs spot us.”

I felt Callan stand up and her left arm began shaking a bit. I didn’t have to look to know she was waving her right arm frantically, hoping someone on the airship spotted her.

“I just saw light reflect off of glass! Someone must be checking us out with binoculars.” Callan waved even more frantically. “Yes! Someone waved back at me!”

“Good. Try pointing in the direction of the trogs. Even if they don’t spot them, the captain should understand that there’s danger nearby.”

I hauled myself up to the top of the scree, pulling Callan up beside me. The sound of trogs walking through stone was much too loud for my tastes. I headed away from the approaching trogs, pulling Callan along with me. With a steep, bare slope rising above our little path and a rocky wasteland falling away below it, I didn’t hold much hope of finding a hiding place.

“David, someone on the airship is pointing at the top of the mountain and motioning up. I think they want us to climb to the top so they can pick us up!”

Praying the trogs never chose to look our way, I left the path and led Callan up the wide open slope. I could feel her flagging as hunger and thirst and exhaustion took their toll. There was no way she could make the two hundred yard climb to the mountain top.

I took a look over my shoulder and saw the first trogs march into view. In the distance, the airship swung around for a pass over the mountain top. I thought I saw crossbowmen lining the rails before the airship turned bow forward to me. The ship’s engines roared as the captain put on more speed. At the same time, a trog fired a very poorly aimed blaster shot. It missed the airship by a wide margin, but it served notice that the trogs weren’t planning to let the airship get away.

Worst of all, I realized Callan and I had no chance of reaching the summit before the airship got there. There was only one thing to do. I turned and swept Callan into my arms. “Hang on, dear!”

Boost!

Adrenaline surged through my veins and time slowed. Callan wrapped her arms around my neck in slow motion as her expression gradually shifted from exhaustion to concern for me. I charged up the mountainside, my legs churning faster than any normal man’s could. But we Scouts aren’t normal men—science and technology have seen to that.

I took another glance over my shoulder at the approaching airship. More blaster bolts blazed into the sky, but it looked like the trogs hadn’t worked out the idea of aiming ahead of a moving target. Most of the bolts passed through the airship’s wake and the rest missed to port or starboard. A volley of crossbow bolts launched from the airship, arching down toward the trogs. I couldn’t see if any hit, but the trog shooting stopped and trog voices rose in alarm.

Then the bow of the airship passed over us. Men peered down at us waving arms and urging us to climb just a bit higher. Ropes dangled from the ship’s railing, still too high for me to grab. Knowing Callan would kill me if she realized what I was doing, I toggled off my implant’s safety overrides. I swung Callan up over one shoulder as more adrenaline hit my system. I gave one final burst of speed and, just as the last rope passed overhead, I reached the mountaintop and leapt for the dangling line.

My fingers wrapped around the rope and strong arms pulled us to the safety of the deck. I carefully put Callan down then toggled on the implant safety overrides. The flow of adrenaline cut off and, for the first time since I’d originally arrived on Aashla, I fell unconscious before I even hit the deck.


Are David and Callan safe from the trogs and whoever is leading them? Find out in Chapter 15, coming Friday!