Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 15 - "Against the Odds"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

no escape?

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2010-08-04 - Updated: 2010-08-04 - 1975 words - Complete

Once outside the arena complex, it wasn’t hard to blend in with the panicked crowd still fleeing the on-going riot within; all they had to do was conceal their weapons and continue their own frantic retreat.

As they put more distance between themselves and Nikopolas, their pace slowed down to a more reasonable, but no less urgent, one. Justin hiding his hard-won treasure under his coat, draped over his arm as inconspicuously as he could manage, while Max very understandably worried about whether or not Bandit was drawing too much attention in public, and Shades took as many peeks over his shoulder as he dared, while Ma’Quiver led them down narrow alleys and side streets. Though each of them, in their own way, began to suspect that there was less need for a guide than they originally thought; now that they were out of the arena, any downhill path seemed to work its way toward the harbor, tributaries all leading to the same ocean.

Then again, it wasn’t too hard to forget that the twisted streets of Bodeen were also a labyrinth of haphazard forks and dead ends, which they were grateful Ma’Quiver had more time to explore than they had had. A fact for which Justin, especially, with his memories of being chased through the unfamiliar twists and turns of the shantytown of Bates, was relieved to be escaping with someone who knew the lay of the land. So far they had been lucky in that any of the stray Nikopols or Militia that passed them along the way were focused on the uproar at Nikopolas Arena, rushing in the opposite direction with hardly a passing glance.

Once they actually entered the seaport, they took a more cautious stride, and Justin was both relieved yet hardly reassured to sense that he wasn’t the only one who thought their escape had been a little too easy.

Sure enough, farther down the way, about a dozen figures stood aboard and around the Maximum. Shades whipped out his binoculars from earlier for a closer look. As if he really needed to; his eyes only served to confirm what all of their gut instincts already told them.

“Red-Bands,” Shades said it anyway as he ducked back behind the tool shed they were hiding behind.

“Shit!” Justin hissed.

“Well, they did attack us while we were on the ship,” Max told them, “so I guess it’s no big surprise they already know where it is.”

“Could be worse,” Shades pointed out. “Without that riot, there could be even more guards. With more time, they could also simply impound the ship, and we’d be stranded in Sarna.”

“With more time, there will be more guards,” Ma’Quiver warned them. “And the four, er, five of us are going to start drawing attention if we keep skulking around over here.”

“In other words, we’re running out of time.” Justin was beginning to regret their decision to walk away from their confrontation with Bertona. Yet, he had to admit that running would have attracted more attention, turning their flight into a marathon series of fights, possibly detouring it entirely, as happened to him back in the Triangle State back then. “If I only had my crossbow, I picked up some smoke bolts in the market…”

Only he and Shades had power pistols, meaning that they were outnumbered at least six-to-one. Combined with a setting where the enemy had cover, this would quickly degenerate into an entrenched standoff in which a shootout would only draw more enemies to this place. That, and he just didn’t like the idea of shooting at their own ship.

“Say, Ma’Quiver,” Max turned to him, recalling one detail from earlier at the thought of leaving the island, “what about your friend from earlier, who helped us out? What’s gonna happen to him?”

“Oh, Timofar?” Ma’Quiver thought for a moment. “I’ll bet he’s long gone by now. I think he said he had family up in Andora. They’ll probably help him hide out until things here settle down.”

“But we, on the other hand, don’t have time to stick around,” Shades reminded them, bringing everyone back to the problem at hand, much to Justin’s relief. They’ll probably recognize The Champ right off the bat, and it’s probably safer to assume that they have a ‘suspect description’ of Max and Bandit, but Justin and I… “Say, Justin, you up for a little role-playing? After all, you do look like a convincing streetrat, and you’ve already got some hot merchandise on you…”

“What are you guys planning?” Ma’Quiver raised an eyebrow.

“Just disturbing the peace,” Shades replied. Riding waves of chaos seems to be our lucky move today, so let’s see if we can’t make it work one more time. “Our best bet for taking back our ship is to throw them off their game. Max, Ma’Quiver, you guys be ready to make your move once we have their undivided attention.”

A moment later, Justin came dashing around the corner, racing wildly down the dock, clutching the coffer in both arms and glancing warily over his shoulder.

“Stop!” Shades demanded, charging around the corner in hot pursuit, shaking his fist at Justin. “Damn thief!”

At first, the Nikopols simply gawked at this scene, but as Justin drew near the Maximum, they regained their initiative, several of them moving to tackle him. Before they reached him, though, Justin hurled the box at the ship deck, the heavy case hitting one of them in the shin. The ones closer to Justin got an unexpected dose of stun blade as he busted out his laser staff, taking out five on them in a matter of seconds as they were still trying to catch up with what just happened there.

Shades used that opening to fire up his stun-sticks while those on the dock had their hands full with Justin, hopping on deck and starting to work on them. They backed off from his energy blades in understandable wariness as the whole scenario went sideways. Shades nailed two of them anyway, as there was only so much room for such a tightly-packed crowd to retreat in any given direction on the Maximum’s rear deck, much like how the last Red-Band on the dock stumbled right off the side trying to avoid Justin’s laser staff.

“As I said: damn thieves!” Shades shouted at the remaining Nikopols. “This is our ship!”

At first, the others had backed into the corners at Shades’ unexpected offensive, but now they remembered that they had guns, to say nothing of their lone assailant ever so slightly outnumbered. So focused were they on him, they never saw Max— let alone Ma’Quiver— coming. Only the lone sentry on the upper deck, who tried to aim at them as they neared the ship.

To no avail, as Justin’s draw was quicker.

While Max and Ma’Quiver mopped up their remaining adversaries, Justin skirted around the edge of the fight, untying mooring lines for a swift departure, and Shades entered the cabin, wanting to be ready to step on it the moment his friends gave the word.

Yet, as he entered the cabin, he was met by still another Red-Band, frantically zipping up his pants as he scrambled up the steps from below, apparently caught flat-footed by the commotion out on deck. They both stared at each other for a moment, Shades silently cursing himself for putting away his weapon too soon as the guard fumbled for his sidearm. Quickly realizing that it was too risky trying to out-draw someone who was already half way there, Shades closed the gap between them, as he had practiced disarming in Master Al’s dojo, struggling to keep it from being aimed at him as he fought for control of it.

As the two of them grappled with each other over the power pistol, they both staggered back out the cabin door, where, upon seeing Shades’ predicament, Max nailed the Red-Band from behind with his stun blade as Bandit slipped past them, wanting to get away from all these energy weapons.

Meanwhile, a fresh group of enemies came charging down the dock as Max and Ma’Quiver were in the midst of tossing their unwelcome occupants onto the dock. Even as the guards opened fire, and the two of them hit the deck, Shades laid down a wild cover fire while Justin picked them off with surgical precision. Only two of them actually made it to the ship, both desperate to silence Justin’s guns.

They never got that far, for even as Justin was backing away, Ma’Quiver sprang back to his feet in a blur of motion, hammering both of them with a sweeping kick that knocked them both back onto the dock.

“Hurry!” Justin shouted, ducking below the deck railing for cover against a couple Militia guards who started firing on them from a more defensible position behind the same shed they themselves previously hid behind. “We’re all set to go!”

While Max and Ma’Quiver ducked again, Shades retreated back inside, taking the helm. There was a moment of apprehension, an almost paranoid fear that they may have done something to the ship, but when the engines started without a hitch, he went for it. Not wanting to give them any further opportunity to get boarded, Shades poured on as much speed as he dared, maneuvering amid the confined space between docked vessels.

Once they were a little farther out, the Maximum picked up several patrol boats, issuing orders to stop and prepare to be boarded. Though now that they were out in the open, Shades applied more speed, seeking to keep their head start. All the while relieved that their first order of business after arriving (and paying docking fees, up-front, and in advance) was to refuel.

Even so, it looked as if these smaller vessels could at least match the Maximum’s speed, bringing it all down to a race to see if they could make it far enough away from the island of Sarna for them to turn back.

At least until they looked up ahead.

Hovering near the outskirts of Bodeen’s harbor was another ship. What appeared to be a military vessel, a cruiser easily larger than the Maximum, bearing Bodeen Militia markings. Far enough out, and already in position to intercept them, no matter what angle they attempted to slip by from.

“Dammit!” Justin hissed. Even in the midst of all this, Justin found a moment to snatch up his hard-won coffer and take it inside, still holding it under one arm and trying not to think about confiscation.

“Bad timing…” Ma’Quiver muttered.

“We could retreat back to shallower waters along the shoreline,” Shades mused, thinking quickly.

“But then those other bastards will catch up with us,” Justin pointed out, seeing that the smaller patrol boats gaining now that they were in open waters.

“And if we get too close,” Max cautioned them, examining the cruiser with the helm binoculars, “they’ve got more than enough firepower to blow us out of the water.”

“Even if we made it to Andora or Kasko, it would be no help,” Ma’Quiver told them. “Bodeen has too much influence around the rest of Sarna these days.”

“So what the hell do we do?” Justin demanded.

It was fast narrowing down to a choice between stopping and hoping they accepted a surrender, or fighting until the Maximum went down, and any survivors simply being netted and hauled aboard like the catch of the day.

With only a minute or so left to figure out what they could do about it.
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