Friday, May 29, 2015

Scout's Law - Chapter 27

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David is surprised to spot Ensign Chris Marlow—someone he thought was dead—among the Mordanian airmen!

“Chris is alive!” I hadn’t even meant to say that aloud, but I couldn’t help myself.

Jade looked away from the scene of her boyfriend’s bullying. “Who’s Chris?”

“The only one of those three men your sort-of-boyfriend didn’t knock down.”

“My ex-sort-of-boyfriend, you mean.” Disgust mingled with pain in Jade’s voice. “Why did you think this Chris guy was dead?”

“He charged two dozen trogs to distract them long enough for Callan and me to get away.” The scene replayed in my mind, including the two blaster shots I’d thought killed the brave lad. Even with Chris standing not fifty yards from me, the memory still sent chills down my spine.

“Wow,” Jade said, wonder replacing the pain her voice held just seconds ago. “That was really brave.”

Below, Chris helped the two Mordanian airmen to their feet, studiously ignoring the insults Forbose hurled at his back. The two older men staggered to their feet, exhaustion and thirst weighing heavily on them. Chris’s face burned with anger, but he just pointed his two chain-gang companions toward the anti-grav airship.

All work on the airship came to a standstill as Forbose verbally lashed Chris. In the night air, without the sounds of work to mask it, Forbose’s next barb carried clearly to us.

“Yeah, slink away boy. That’s what I’d expect from the bastard get of some dockside doxy!”

All expression drained from Chris’s face, along with most of the blood. His back slowly straightened, his shoulders flexed, and his hands balled into tight fists.

I unslung one of the two blaster rifles from my back and shoved it into Jade’s hands. “Have you ever shot a crossbow?”

Taking the blaster, the startled girl nodded.

“Good. Aim the rifle like a crossbow except you can ignore wind and gravity. Then just pull the trigger.”

Below, Chris spun around, putting all of his strength and momentum behind his punch. Blood burst from Forbose’s nose as Chris’s fist smashed it flat. The bigger boy staggered back, shocked at this sudden attack. Forbose’s blaster rifle flew from his hands, landing well away from the four men.

“You’re rescuing Chris?” Jade asked. At my nod, she added, “Good. Who do I shoot?”

“Anyone who looks like they need shooting, especially if I point at them with my sword,” I said, swinging onto the ladder down to the desert floor.

Chris shuffled forward to hit his tormentor again. With anger clouding his judgement, the ensign forgot the chains tethering him to the other two airmen. The links stopped his feet and Chris fell to the ground. He caught himself with his hands, but he now lay at Forbose’s feet.

“Got it,” Jade said as if my instructions made all the sense in the world. “If I knew your plan, it would be easier to pick helpful targets.”

“And if I had a plan, I’d tell it to you.”

Shouts erupted from below as the fight attracted more attention. I longed to turn and see what was happening to Chris, but I had to concentrate on the ladder if I had any hope of reaching the ground in time to help. Even hopping down three rungs at a time, it felt as if minutes passed before I reached the ground even though my implant told me it was no more than half a minute.

I feared the eruption of blaster fire from the cave with every passing second. When my feet touched ground without hearing it, I wondered if Thor might still be cleaning and wrapping most of the blaster rifles. It wasn’t the only explanation—perhaps the man simply didn’t care if the guards and prisoners mixed it up a bit—but I fervently hoped my explanation was right.

By the time my feet hit the ground, the shouting drowned out most other sounds. Sprinting to the airship, I got my first look at the fight between Forbose and Chris since I got on the ladder. Blood covered Chris’s face, streaming from a gash above one eye and a cut lip. Pain forced the ensign into a crouch, probably from bruised or broken ribs. Blood still dripped from Forbose’s nose and he had the makings of an excellent black eye. Despite having his mobility seriously compromised by the chains, Chris was putting up quite a fight.

I charged up a ramp on the side of the airship and grabbed the first airman I came to. I yelled over the shouts, “Where’s an officer?”

The airman glanced at me and his eyes fairly popped out of his head. “Captain Rice, you’re safe! Is Her Highness—”

“Safe and unharmed. But where’s an officer?”

“Of course, sir!” The man turned and led me to the railing. “Captain Wright? Sir, it’s Captain Rice!” Raising his voice even more, the airman called, “And Her Highness is safe and well!”

A ragged cheer rose from the men. Captain Wright spun around so fast I half expected the man to get dizzy. He wasted no time with small talk. “What’s the plan, sir?”

I shoved the blaster rifle into his hands. “Shoot any chains attaching you to the ground. I’m going to fetch Ensign Marlow and his two companions then we’re getting out of here in this airship.”

Wright passed the rifle to his first officer, pointing at three chains running over the ship’s railing. “That’s not possible, sir. The galactic says the power is drained.”

“No doubt the power is low, but no one runs their power out so completely that they use up the last little bit of it landing. I’ll bet we have enough to get off this mountain before it runs out.”

“Excellent. If you’ll wait one moment, sir, I’ll have some men to accompany you.”

“The men stay on the airship, Captain.” Wright opened his mouth to protest, but I talked over him. “That is an order.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

I vaulted the railing, drew my sword and charged toward the crowd around Chris and Forbose!

Can David pull the three airmen out of the crowd and make good his escape? Find out more in Chapter 28, coming Monday!