Friday, July 3, 2015

Scout's Law - Chapter 42

< Chapter 41                                                                                                 Chapter 43 >
David has challenged Thor to a duel for leadership of Thor’s army.

Amplified laughter rang out in response to my challenge. When Thor managed to control his mirth enough to talk, he did so in galactic basic. Derision dripping from every syllable, he said, “Can you truly be that stupid, Rice? Have you spent so much time reading the public accounts of your so-called adventures that you’ve begun to believe them?”

“I have little interest in reading some writer’s interpretation of my life.” After my initial gal base response, I switched to Mordanian. “Should I assume you are refusing my challenge?”

Thor stuck to gal base, giving me the impression none of his followers spoke the language. “I am under no illusions concerning my prowess as a fighter, Rice. I’m far too intelligent to think I would stand a chance against you in a fight. You, on the other hand, have bought into this planet’s ridiculous concepts of manhood. You were raised in the Terran Federation—surely you understand all of this talk of honor and duty is nothing more than the prattle of an ignorant populace.”

“Perhaps it is you who led a sheltered life in the Federation, Thor.” I stuck to Mordanian, trying to make sure the gist of Thor’s words got through to the trogs around him. After my brief run-in with the trogs at the top of the mountain, I felt safe assuming some of them understood me. “I learned of honor and duty from a young age and felt right at home in the Scout Academy.”

Thor snorted at that. “I rest my case. I must admit this has been amusing, Rice, but now it’s time for you to surrender or die in a pointless display of that honor you hold so dear.”

“I had to try, Thor,” I called back. “For the record, would you please respond to my challenge in Mordanian?”

Thor heaved an amplified sigh and switched languages. “Very well, Rice. Let it be known that I decline your challenge to a duel.”

I watched the trogs on the edges of Thor’s mass of followers, waiting for them to respond to Thor’s refusal. I was still looking for movement from the trogs when Wright caught my arm.

Pointing to the left side of the mass before us, the captain said, “There, sir!”

I looked where he pointed and relief flooded through me. A small band of trogs broke away from the men around them and jogged back toward the mountain. Then another group of trogs broke from the crowd’s fringe. Then it became evident the trogs deeper inside the crowd were pushing their way through the men. 

Someone near Thor spoke, his words amplified just as Thor’s had been. “Sir, the trogs are leaving!”

“I can see that!” Thor snapped. “Find out why.”

“They won’t follow you anymore, Thor,” I called.

“How do you know that, Rice?”

I admit taking extreme pleasure from my answer. “Surely a man of your vast intellect can figure it out.”

“Damn you, Rice, did you work some stupid code phrases into your words?” Anger warred with confusion in Thor’s voice.

“Not at all, Thor. In fact, the trogs aren’t leaving because of anything I said.” A triumphant note crept into my voice. “They’re leaving because you refused my challenge.”

“That’s absurd,” Thor scoffed. “Only an idiot would have accepted your challenge! I cannot believe any being wishes to follow an idiot.”

“Didn’t you bother to study up on the trogs before you decided to come here and lead them in a great revolt against humanity?”

“I skimmed it, along with the obviously fictional story of David Rice, the great hero of Aashla,” Thor said. “My intellectual peers and I dismissed the propaganda spewed by the hand-picked so-called scientists you and the other oppressors allowed on this planet. Any child could recognize your attempts at myth-making.”

“At the risk of sounding trite, Thor, I think you’re just too damned smart for your own good!” The men gathered around me laughed as I continued, “I suspect you’re right, trogs probably don’t want to follow idiots. But I know they refuse to follow cowards. When you refused my challenge, you showed your cowardice. That was pretty stupid, don’t you think?”

“We still outnumber you by more than two-to-one, Rice, and you’re only protection is a hulk of wood!” Thor raged. “Men, forget my orders to take prisoners. Burn the wreck and slaughter them all!”

With a bloodthirsty yell, the men still under Thor’s command charged!

Will the Tercel reach our heroes before Thor’s men slaughter them all? Find out in Chapter 43, coming Monday!