Monday, November 12, 2007

Battle Of Bent River

The butt of the handgun smashed a small hole in the corner of the church window. Quaid pushed the barrel through the opening and fired twice into the thick cloud of dust and hooves. One of the riders fell.

Immediately two rifle-shots rang out. The one hit below the window, sending splinters of wood into the air, the other caused thick, warm fluid to run down Quaid's face. Recoiling in shock, Quaid rubbed the blood away from his eyes and felt for the wound. Instead, he saw the villager beside him slump to the floor, the right side of his face missing several vital components, first and foremost of which was his cheekbone.

Explosions went off overhead. A grenade exploded somewhere above, shattering the remains of the window on top of the few that could still shoot. Within seconds Quaid and the others in the church could see the old, dry wood of the roof begin to smolder. Firing twice more at the attackers, he spotted Anna being dragged across the graveyard by the bounty hunter.

"Ta Ma Duh. That ain't gonna end well."

Vaulting out the window, Quaid ducked a nearby handgun blast and returned the favour with pin-point results. The bounty hunter was gone, but there was only one place he could possibly be heading for. The Nirvana.

The streets were filled with dust kicked up from a dozen horses, and racing behind a nearby building was easy, even with his peg-leg. Quaid decided to bee-line for the General Store and from there, grab some guns and head for the ship. Rounding the first corner brought him face-to-face with one of the raiders. Arms full of looted goods from some locals home, even Quaid's less than stellar reflexes were fast enough to but a bullet cleanly between the opponents eyes, dropping the body before the goods could even hit the earth.

Across the main street was the store. From here, the high-tech holo-field windows and glistening polished steel of the store front stood in stark contrast to everything around it. Quaid looked up and down, considering his options. He had seen the weapons that the store sold earlier that day, and right now he knew he needed something more than his six-shooter. Pausing to reload, he darted across the empty street and ducked down below a window. Inside, the android sales assistant was repeating "Defense mode" over and over again in her soft, Chinese accent. He smiled for a moment, before kicking in the main doors.

"Chui se, ya wong ba duhn!" A lone raider standing firing at the android received a round to the temple. Quaid jumped sideways behind a counter as a shotgun blast juiced the hydrated apple stand. "Aw. Not the apples," Quaid exclaimed, as he took aim in the direction of the shotgun blast, squeezing tightly on the trigger. He never even saw the third raider.

For just a moment, everything stopped. The pellets seemed to freeze on his ribcage, and thoughts of Emily flooded his mind. Sweet Emily. His only love, his only reason. The sun rising through the upper layers of the gas giant. Even a billion miles away, it was still where he wished to be. On a colony station, orbiting a gas giant, wrapped in her arms.

Then everything started up again, and a blackness darker than anything the Verse could throw contain swallowed him whole.

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