Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 01 - "The Islands"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

old enemies

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2008-09-10 - Updated: 2008-09-10 - 2241 words - Complete

Just when it looked as if the crew of The Edge might stand a fighting chance at repulsing Slash’s boarding party, there came a new ship, this one also bearing Slash’s clan symbol. Named Damn the Torpedoes, in true Cyexian fashion, she was accompanied by five smaller craft.

“Not now!” cried Robert. His only guess was that this one must have been hovering just beyond the shore, obviously Slash’s backup.

By now, most of Slash’s crew had either been thrown overboard or were too badly wounded to continue the fight, but now they would be receiving some reinforcements, and the weary defenders would be faced with fresh adversaries.

“You lose, Robert!” Slash told him. “Now I will have my revenge!”

As she resumed her attack on Robert with renewed vigor, the crew of Damn the Torpedoes threw out a line to the stranded Cyexian crew, angling toward Kinsasha. The smaller craft began taking on some of the drifters as they circled The Edge and U-553, the ship Slash hadn’t gotten around to renaming yet. Fortunately for Robert and his crew, the increasingly choppy waves made it too dangerous to move in between the two storm-tossed vessels.

“What’s she up to now?” muttered Ron. At least weather conditions were keeping any further boarding parties at bay. On the downside, though, it was becoming increasingly dangerous for The Edge’s helm to remain unmanned. He shouted to upper deck, where Robert and Slash were locked in mortal combat, “Hey! Can’t we call a truce? This storm is getting worse!”

“Go to hell!” Slash told him, not even bothering to turn her attention away from Robert. All the plans of hers this one man had interfered with, all the years, all the humiliation, all that Robert had cost her burned in her brain, and she was going to kill him this time, no matter what it took.

Determined to keep Max safe, Ron aimed his power pistol at her, saying, “I said—”

As Max watched in stunned horror, not even noticing the two Cyexians sneaking up behind himself, a high-powered laser beam from one of the smaller craft pierced right through Ron, knocking him over the deck railing with a strangled cry, into the waiting arms of Davy Jones.

“Ron!!” cried Max, forgetting his foes in a singular moment of terror. “No… Ron…”

Max’s disrupter clanked to the deck as the first of the Cyexians charged him. She knocked him to the deck and made a grab for the disrupter, but Max sprang to his feet in a rage and kicked it out of her reach. He then turned to fend off the other pirate.

As his son fought for his life on the lower deck, Robert attacked Slash with all of his might. The sound of his old friend’s final scream echoed in his ears, and his mind, and he was going to make her pay.

They had no right…

It was difficult to keep their footing on the constantly shifting deck, but the two warriors fought on. As they clashed energy blades, Slash lost her balance on the slippery deck, and Robert took full advantage of it. He slid his blade down the full length of hers, cutting right through the hilt of her laser sword. The pale blue fire of the blade vanished in a shimmering flicker of light.

Slash swore under her breath as she dodged the rest of Robert’s swing. In the absence of resistance, Robert lost his own balance, his blade gouging deep into the deck. As she tossed her now useless weapon aside, Slash rolled toward Robert, kicking his laser sword under the hilt, knocking the energy blade out of his rain-soaked hand even as he raised it for another attack.

Robert’s laser sword fizzled out as he lost his grip on it, arcing through the air and clanking to the lower deck. As another wave hit the ship, it went rolling and spinning across the deck, right toward the railing section that had been smashed by the fallen mast. Seeing it out of the corner of his eye, Max dodged his attackers and made a dive for it, sliding across the wet deck, just barely grabbing it before the Ocean could claim it, adding it to its untold store of lost treasures.

Max scrambled to his feet, activating the laser blade and brandishing it at the Cyexians, its radiant green blade holding them at bay.

One thing that so far worked in The Edge crew’s favor was that the storm made it impossible for the boat raiders to get in a decent shot for fear of just as easily hitting their own crew members, so their volleys had subsided. Yet as the Cyexian numbers onboard dwindled, it would only make their remaining enemies stand out more.

As the boats continued to circle The Edge and U-553 menacingly, for it was all they could really do at this point, the battle on the upper deck raged on.

Robert had kicked Slash off of him, and as she struggled to her feet, she drew her disrupter pistol. But as quick as she was on the draw, Robert didn’t give her a chance to finish, kicking it out of her hand before she could firm her grip. Slash struck back with a brutal barrage of punches and kicks.

Robert still had his power rifle strapped to his back, but he could see she wasn’t going to give him a chance to unsling it. He continued to dodge her attacks, looking for a chance to use his last weapon.

Meanwhile, the two Cyexians on the lower deck had decided they didn’t like the odds of challenging Max and his laser sword unarmed, both of them retreating in different directions to elude him. And hopefully rearm themselves. As one of them saw fit to abandon ship, seeing no more stray weapons lying around on the ever-shifting deck, Max instead turned his attention back to his father.

And again, that sense of dread premonition returned to him as he saw Robert’s predicament.

For while Max was busy warding off pirates, Slash had managed to get Robert from behind. Grabbed his power rifle, twisting it around so that the strap was looped around his neck. She planted her knee against his back and started hauling on the rifle, strangling him.

“Dad!” cried Max.

He stepped forward, trying to figure out what to do, then stopped in his tracks as an energy beam streaked past him. With only Slash left above, the crew of the small boats had finally decided to risk firing on The Edge once more.

Max hit the deck before he even knew what he was doing. All that flashed through his mind at that moment was an instant replay of the death of Ron. It dawned on him in that one last second of his childhood invincibility that Ron’s fate could just as easily be his own.

“Max!” gargled Robert, still struggling for some kind of leverage against Slash. Though the fact that Slash caught him while trying to unsling the rifle resulted in one hand between his neck and the strap, and his other caught between the strap and the rifle itself, he knew this move was only delaying the inevitable. His next words were barely more than a choked whisper of desperation. “Help… me…”

“If you can still talk,” Slash hissed, “then I’m not choking you enough!” She leaned back farther, telling him, “Your little brat can’t save you from me…”

She paused, savoring every syllable, every moment of her revenge, totally unheeding of the dangers of the storm, then told him, “After all, he’s next.”

As laser beams raged overhead, slowly picking apart the cabin, Max watched his father struggle. He knew he had to help, but his hands and feet refused to obey him. As the body count of the past couple hours began to catch up with him, he was paralyzed by the thought of challenging Slash on his own now that he had seen death for the first time.

“Looks like your son is nothing but a little coward!” Slash remarked. “Now die!” she cried as she further tightened her grip.

Slash’s words brought Max out of his terrified daze. “Dad… no…” Again, Ron’s untimely end. Only now he pictured his father taking the fall, and this brought out an outrage even deeper than what he had felt for Ron, rage that outweighed his fear and despair. “Slash!”

But as Max regained his nerve, his father teetered on the brink of losing consciousness. Somehow, he had yanked his other hand out from against the strap that bit into his neck with increasing ferocity. Slash had too much leverage, and there was no way to reach behind him. Yet, just when he thought he had no way out, he found one.

Wondering why he hadn’t thought of it before, he fumbled with the quick-release pin on the shoulder strap, feeling his fingers turn to lead just when he needed them most. Just when he thought he was too late, he managed to pull it loose, and the strap immediately went slack.

Straining to see through the grey dots that threatened to overwhelm his sight, he threw the strap over his neck. As Slash lost her balance, he jabbed an elbow back as hard as he could, knocking the wind out of her. With the last of his immediate strength, he threw her over his shoulder. Robert fell to his knees to catch his breath as Slash rolled across the deck, and the rifle slid off onto the lower deck.

As Max was still trying to make his way to the upper deck, the remaining Cyexian raider grabbed Robert’s lost power rifle before it could be washed overboard. She moved quickly to get a better shot before Robert could get back up. And before her companions on the boats could come around for another pass.

Robert coughed and gasped as he struggled to regain his strength, but was grateful for the reprieve. He must have put the hurt on old Slash if she wasn’t getting up yet. Of course, he also knew she might well be playing dead to get him to drop his guard.

As Robert and Slash tried to get their second wind, the remaining pirate had made her way to the edge of the deck, where she now had Robert in her sights. She put her finger on the trigger—

To realize belatedly that she had forgotten about Max, who jumped in with a fierce yell and sliced the barrel off her rifle with Robert’s laser sword. Even as she cursed herself for forgetting the boy, trying to get out of that deadly energy blade’s reach, Max kicked her right over the deck railing. Then he hit the deck before the pirates on the boats could start up another barrage.

As Robert watched his son’s move against this unexpected threat, deciding that if they lived through this he would have to tell Max how proud he was, as well as how disappointed in his disobedience, Slash scrambled to her feet in a rage, determined to keep Robert from regaining the offensive, and there was no more time to think of congratulating his son.

Max looked up at where Robert and Slash had resumed their weary battle. Never had he witnessed such brilliant moves and radical skill, not in any of the sparring sessions he had ever seen. Nor had he ever seen his father look both so fiercely determined and yet so totally fatigued at the same time. As inexperienced as he was, even he could tell this was the final bout. End-game.

“Come on, Dad…”

Max stood there clenching his fists, lost in indecision. He wanted to help, but was afraid to interfere, that he might accidentally give Slash the upper hand. With his father’s laser sword, and the power to influence the outcome of this terrible battle, in his hand, Max crouched there, wishing he knew what to do.

As Max watched on, rendered helpless by his lapse of initiative, his father fought on, both weary foes trying hard not to show how much this fierce combat had taken out of them. Robert wanted to ask for his laser sword, but he knew it was too risky. That, and he didn’t dare leave his son unarmed in such company.

It was Slash’s next kick that took the fight completely out of Max’s hands.

Exhausted, Robert staggered back, grabbing a line from The Edge’s remaining mast for support. He swung out, then back, kicking off the mast in a stroke of inspiration. Slash stopped in mid charge, making a vain effort to dodge him as Robert swung back on the line, plowing right through her feet-first and launching her flying off the deck.

Robert swung out over the water, hanging on for dear life. As Max lit up at this spectacular, swashbuckling move, his awe and joy turned to shock and horror in a moment that would be forever etched in his memory. For just as Robert reached the end of his swing, a stray laser beam cut through the line, sending him flailing into the storm-tossed sea.
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