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CHARACTERS

 
CHAPTER 2 EXCERPT:
 
 

N’CKSHELL Slayton only had seconds to live.  With pain raking her body, the young Dracterian stumbled out into the frozen courtyard, dizziness enveloping her.  Shards of snow and ice stabbed at her face, her eyes; the cold ripping through her thin layered arctic suit.  Blood was smeared on one side of her face—not her blood; the mephitic smear had belonged to one of the Pugs she’d killed just minutes ago.
Thrashing through knee-deep snow, stumbling and slipping on ice—she needed a weapon, or a place to hide—more than she needed balance.  After killing two computer technicians with her Phiser PBX, the laser pistol had jammed.  Only her assault knife allowed her to kill the third Pulsarian.  She lost it while fleeing the building when two Straaka suddenly burst into the bunker and starting shooting at her.  Even if the knife hadn’t been wrenched from her grip it was useless against the Vgamh CR laser rifles they carried.
The only thing she could do was run—get out of the computer bunker, explosions from near misses ringing her body—get out before they killed her.  If only her Phiser PBX hadn’t jammed she might have had a chance.  What caused the malfunction?  Was it the firing safety lock, the intercooling gas pump?  She didn’t know.  The two Straaka were nearly on top of her.
Slayton tensed as she heard the scream of a rifle.  An angry bolt of green light exploded the ground to her right.  The searing heat of the beam washed over her, ozone burned through her nostrils, traveled down her windpipe, cooking her lungs. Fighting dizziness and fatigue Slayton pulled herself around the concrete corner of a building before the Straaka could fire off another shot.  She needed a weapon.  The futility of her situation angered her; they were going to kill her and she couldn’t fight back—how could things turn to shit so quickly?
Her eyes glazing with hate; weapon or not, she decided she was going to kill them.  Like the technicians before, neither of them saw fit to raise the alarm; a mistake that both pleased and angered her.  Pleasing because the mountain-top fortress hadn’t yet been alerted to her presence—yet—drawing her ire because these two thought that she was some weak female that they could easily take.  They were going to pay for their incompetence.
One of the Straaka sprinted around the corner.  Cold hands reached out, fingers like hooks digging into the Pulsarian’s throat.  Slayton swung the Pulsarian around, using his momentum against him, viciously slamming his head into the stone wall. The Pulsarian tried to bring his weapon up as his head struck stone again and again.  The Pulsarian dropped his weapon at the moment his partner rounded the corner.  Instinctively Slayton spun on her heel and kicked the second guard in the face, knocking him off his feet.  In a blur Slayton grabbed the rifle that had fallen out of the grip of her first victim and fired it at the second just as he was bringing his own weapon around.  The second guard hit the ground dead, his skull shattered by a beam of energy.
Slayton turned toward the first Pulsarian and pumped two lasers into his body.  Only then did she relax, her chest heaving from the exertions.  She quickly looked around, there might be more.  The fortress was still asleep.  Good.  She gently set the weapon aside, ripped the gloves off one of the Straaka and put them on.  The warmth felt good, reassuring.  She rolled the armored corpse over and grabbed extra ammunition clips from the dead enemy’s belt, slipping them into the hip pockets on her arctic suit.
With a functioning weapon to defend herself, she could now address the problem of escaping the fortress followed by blasting off the planet.  She felt in her breast pocket; the data crystal was still there with the restricted data she had stolen—without it there’d be no ‘blast-off’.
Slayton gathered herself for action; hearing her knees creak from the cold turned determination into anger.  Perhaps if she would have pushed the mission planners harder she could’ve been given the assignment to Darmen instead of Dannen Leers getting it—Dannen loved snow.  But there had been no altering the personnel placements of their respective assignments, even if they were nearly identical.  The only difference was that she had Captain Chyro’s freighter and a ‘cover’ and had set out four days earlier from the Frontier, while Leers traveled with the navy and had set out directly from base.  If she had Dannen’s mission she’d be on her way back home by now, instead of being stuck here.
The wind whistled around her.  Damn this place.

 

 

 
Copyright (c) 2010 - 2011The Blood of the Empire--Xavier Leggett. All rights reserved.