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November 21, 2022
"Mes de los Muertos"

Anachronocity v8p8

By Josh Brown

Truth and the Goddess Arl - Part Eight

Katlyn swooped under the metal barricade separating the stage from the crowd as soon as the two explosions rocked the square. She caught a glimpse of the carnage created--devastation Horus assured her wouldn't be so. The walls of the spiraling temple blew completely from its frame. Those nearest the temple, hundreds or possibly even thousands, vaporized instantly. Dark thoughts ran through her mind. More lies. She swore under her breath. It was supposed to be like demolishing a building, imploding it in on itself with minimal loss of life.

She turned back to the stage, jumped up and grabbed the ledge, hauled her body up and over. Down below chaos ripped through those gathered, men and women and children all trying to flee the billowing flames and smoke caused by the destruction of the temple.

And there was Horus, happily firing his gun at everyone around him. Panic-stricken pirates met their end for no other reason than because they happened to be near Horus at this moment.

Disgusted, Katlyn rushed across the stage toward Alex and the others.

The priestess running the show stared dumbfounded at the wreckage of her life's work. She seemed not to notice Katlyn nor the overwhelming odds her guards were preoccupied trying to deal with.

One sweeping glance around the stage showed no sign of the executioners and their whips. Dozens of people plowed over the stage, across it, and then back down on the other side, running in the opposite direction of the fire.

Two problems presented themselves right away. Had this plan been thought out a little better it probably never would have come to fruition. There was no way Katlyn and Horus alone could carry six wounded, unconscious people back to the ship--especially not when two of the six were Mama and Franky.

Katlyn reached behind her ear and tapped at the tiny communication device Sela injected under her skin just before she left with the bomb.

"Horus," she said.

"What?" came the harsh reply in her ear. He sounded annoyed at being distracted from his fun and games.

"Get up here! I need help!"

"In a minute."

"Now!" She tapped behind her ear again, severing the connection.

Working quickly, Katlyn moved down the line, firing at the chains pulling shackled legs taut. Screams, shouts and gunfire filled the air as she finished releasing Franky's legs last.

She glanced over her shoulder at the smoke-filled vision of anarchy unfolding all around her. Fire roar through the steel structure of the temple, its frame twisting and sagging farther to left every second. Soon it'd collapse on the groups pulling together in an attempt to contain the fire before it spread to other buildings. Even that was futile; several of the surrounding buildings had already caught fire.

Still no sign of Horus.

Katlyn rushed back down the line until she came to Bethany. She carefully lifted the young girl off the hooks holding her in the air and set Bethany down on the stage face-first. Katlyn swallowed hard, averting her eyes from the savage lashes that decorated the girl's back.

More people bolted across the stage paying no heed to the woman trying to save the prisoners. Katlyn once more scanned for trouble. The priestess had vanished now too.

With a little effort and a lot of sweat, Katlyn managed to get Anthony, Jared, and Alex down from the hooks. All of them lay there on their stomachs, random bursts of screams escaped their lips at odd times but none of them seemed to be in any kind of truly conscious state.

Katlyn stood, wiped sweat from forehead, and reached back to tap at the comlink again. Just before she did, Horus's bald held popped up over the edge of the stage. He climbed up the stairs, pushing a large hovering cart with one hand and firing his gun at random people with the other.

Her mouth opened to shout some rather obscene words at Horus. Those words were lost in the wake of a loud CRACK, which accompanied an even more obscene amount of pain as her thigh nearly ripped in half. Katlyn tumbled forward, hands out to brace her fall. She rolled over with the momentum of the fall, turning and glaring back at the attacker.

The priestess stood several feet away with a whip in her hand and a death-glare that could kill Medusa. She jumped to the side as several blasts from Horus's gun tried to plow her over. Then she brought the whip up and snapped it at Horus. Katlyn looked back just in time to see Horus's gun fly from his hand. Then she did a double take when she realized Horus's hand didn't leave the gun, it left his wrist with the gun.

"How dare you!" the priestess screamed. "How dare you! My temple!"

Horus dropped to the stage. He cradled his stumped right wrist against his chest, rocking back and forth on his knees.

"You came to save them?" the priestess said. "You thought you could save them by blowing up my temple?" She dropped the whip as she neared Katlyn's prone body. From inside her jacket she pulled out a gun and pointed it at Katlyn's head.

Behind the priestess lay whip-torn bodies of the others. She ignored her handiwork in favor of the new victim lying at her feet. "I should kill you for what you've done. But that would be too good for you! Unfortunately, I don't have time to make you suffer! So you'll just have to get the easy road."

Katlyn looked at Alex in an attempt to distract the mad woman about to blow her face off. The priestess just rolled her eyes. Until Alex's hand wrapped around her ankle.

Startled, the priestess spun toward. As soon as she did, Katlyn thrust her foot into the back of Kai's knee. Kai's leg buckled, throwing her back-first onto the stage. Katlyn slammed the sole and heel of her foot repeatedly into Kai's ribs, arm, and head. Scrambling to escape the attack, Kai rolled away from Katlyn and right off the side of the stage, crashing into the metal dividing barrier below.

Katlyn scooted along the stage, dragging her ruined left leg with her. "Alex," she said as she neared him. "Alex, don't you die. Do you understand me? I can't get home if you die. No dying!"

He was already out of it again. Her words lost in the chaos.

Shouting at Horus didn't do a thing. He remained in the same spot with his arm against his chest, rocking back and forth as if he were holding a baby and not a stump. Katlyn dragged herself over to him.

"Snap out of it!" Katlyn shouted.

When that failed, she mustered her strength and slapped him across the face with a resounding crack that could rival that of the priestess's whip.

That too failed. Katlyn tapped the comlink behind her ear and said, "Sela."

***

"Dammit!" Sela slammed her fist on the ship's pilot console.

Next to her, Yerik continued to work at the co-pilots computer, shaking his head. "Da. Luck not so good? Is good to know we have full fuel."

When the ship landed in the docking port, the port authorities automatically locked the clamps to keep it from leaving. This is to prevent any unscrupulous characters from trying to flee without first receiving clearance. If any trouble recently arose on the planet, no ships were allowed to leave until it was cleared up.

Sela leaned back and sighed. Her SoftPAD was hacked in to the port authorities computer system, as useless as that was. She needed deeper access into the core of the computer in order to bypass the security codes. That kind of access requires someone with far more knowledge at this than her. That eetee killed her expert and now she was trapped.

"Unless you can tell me their password for today."

Yerik chuckled. "Ah... not so good with that. I use same password for all things."

"What is it? Might as well try."

"2dSuzieLee."

"Suzie Lee?" Sela squinted at Yerik.

"First girl I ever kiss. Was memorable experience. Her father shot me."

Sela started to enter the password, then paused and squinted at Yerik again. "You told me all your scars are from the war."

"I lie. Some not from war. Don't shoot!"

Shaking her head, Sela tried the password and received the incorrect password message she expected. Even if she could find the password for unclamping all the ships currently docked, she'd need to find the second password for unclamped ships marked as potential threats. This ship probably rose to the top of the list as soon as they found out it was from the League.

"Any way we can cut through the clamps?"

Yerik thought about it and then said, "Da. Takes too long, though. Hours. Engine still at seventy-five percent. Not all maintenance completed before mess started."

"All right. Do what you can while I keep at this--hold on"

Sela frowned at Katlyn's strained voice in her ear.

***

"Go ahead."

"Trouble," Katlyn said. "We need help here. I'm down. Horus is down. Everyone is down. There's no way any of us can--"

Katlyn stopped when a group of men and women stormed the stage. At first she ignored them--more people rushing across. This particular group of eight stopped moving across; they turned and headed toward Katlyn--bulky, well-fed creatures with tattoos and piercings adorning their bodies.

"What is it, Katlyn? What's going on?"

"Too late. Get the clamps off that ship and go. We're toast."

Katlyn tapped behind her ear and then fumbled for her gun only to remember she'd lost it when Kai sliced through her leg with a whip.

Katlyn glanced up at the smoky sky and said, "Aw, shit."


To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-11-27
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