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June 20, 2022

Anachronocity v4p1

By Josh Brown

History for Dummies - Part One

A week after the incident, Alex's stomach still throbbed with an incessant pain that wouldn't let him forget just how foolish he'd been. As if that wasn't enough to keep him awake at night, Katlyn continued to fume at him because he told Bethany the dreaded truth. Something wasn't right with that. Wasn't the truth supposed to set you free? Freedom from a headache brought on by Katlyn didn't seem any closer.

Alex spent most of the week in bed, his waking thoughts and sleeping dreams accompanied by the unstoppable moaning and groaning from his yet unmet neighbors. Never in his entire life had Alex ever heard anything like it. How could anyone possibly have enough energy to keep it up for such a long time?

When he wasn't sleeping, his mind wasn't utterly vexed with pain, and Katlyn wasn't bitching at him for telling Bethany the truth, Alex spent a few hours in the computer lab trying to get acquainted with the technology. Rarely did he have the opportunity to interact with Bethany; she was usually sleeping whenever he managed to drag himself out of bed. For the most part, he remained clueless. The girl was going to have to teach him a lot, he figured.

With the pain lowered to manageable levels, Alex wandered out of his quarters and found himself in the dinning hall. Today was a big day for him. The ever-allusive solid foods would once again be within his grasp. Mama told him he had to start eating normally again but to take it slowly.

After fishing around in the refrigerator, Alex found a jar of peanut butter. Even in the future, he wasn't too surprised to find such a classic as a peanut butter and stale bread.

The instead of the jar was a disaster site. Alex absolutely despised people that dug into the peanut butter without any consideration. Was it so hard to slide a knife across the top of the peanut butter? Why people found it necessary to dig straight through the entire jar and scoop out the peanut butter, Alex never understood.

Peeved, Alex stirred the peanut butter with a knife until it was smooth and semi-orderly once more. After preparing his sandwich, he put the peanut butter back and took a seat at one of the tables.

While he savored the thought of eating solid foods again, this peanut butter sandwich had to have been the worse sandwich he'd ever eaten. Not only was the bread stale, the peanut butter tasted salty. Horrid. This whole experience from the people to the food. Absolutely horrid.

As Alex forced down the last of his sandwich with a healthy swig of water, Bethany stuck her head through the door and smiled. "Look who's up!" She slipped in and took a seat across the table from Alex. "How's the stomach?"

"Could be better."

"Could be worse. You're lucky you still have a stomach."

"Right."

"Been messing around in the lab? Noticed some things moved about. Wasn't sure if it was you or Franky."

"Who's Franky?" Alex asked.

"Haven't met Franky yet? Kind of hard to miss that beast."

"You're going to have to be more specific when referring to people on this ship as beasts. I've come across several."

Bethany snorted. "You're a real ass, know it? Here's a little advice. If you want to survive on this ship, you better get over this little superior tude you have going on."

"What are you talking about? Superior attitude?"

"Please. You reek of it. We may not be the future you envisioned, but we're still a hundred times better than you were back then."

"I don't--"

"Save it. Sela wants you to get productive. You've been here a week. I told her you'd be working with me. I'm working on a project that needs to be perfected by the end of the week."

Alex glared at Bethany. "I'd love to help," he said through gritted teeth. "But all of this technology is too far--"

"Advanced for the likes of you. Despite the arrogant flavor of everything you do, I'm well aware that you don't have the slightest idea how to work in this time. I'll teach you."

"If anyone is arrogant, it's you."

Bethany hopped up and grinned. "You bet I'm arrogant. Moreover, I can back it up. You can't. So adjust the tude, or you may just end up on the janitorial staff."

***

Fluid, rapid controlled kicks. Katlyn's body twisted, her right leg thrusting upward and outward. With a clear mind and steady breathing, she rolled effortlessly through her daily routine in order to keep her skills honed and her body in shape. A faint line of sweat accumulated on her brow as she ducked low, leg sweeping out around her. This was her favorite time of the day. Alone, at peace, nothing to disturb her while she carried herself away from the bed and sleep and journeyed forth into a new day.

Only today, the routine was broken.

"Impressive form."

In the middle of the recreation room, Katlyn turned toward the sound of the voice. Normally, such a disturbance would perturb her. Then again, nothing had been normal since Alex zapped her into the future.

She smiled politely at Sela, who was dressed in simple gray sweats. "Thanks. Am I in your way?"

"Not at all. I've been meaning to talk to you."

Katlyn closed the gap between them, wiping her brow with a towel. "What about?"

"You found anything to do around here that holds your interest?"

"No," Katlyn said. She draped the towel over her shoulders. "Not really. I'm not qualified for much of anything on this ship."

"During the rescue you didn't have much trouble with that guard even though you were locked down." Sela paused, her brow wrinkling. "You spar?"

"Depends."

"Your style against mine. How about it?"

Shrugging, Katlyn accepted. "What is your style?"

They walked over to the mats in the center of the room, setting their towels aside. "My style?" Sela said. "I guess you could say, anything that works."

Face to face in the middle of the mat, Katlyn bowed her head respectfully toward Sela, and then shifted herself into a defensive stance.

Sela feigned a few jabs aimed at Katlyn's stomach and head. Katlyn just stood there, not allowing Sela any kind of reaction. If she wanted to test Katlyn's defenses, she had to attack outright. A moment later, Sela went for a kick that Katlyn blocked with her thigh.

The two women circled each other slowly, eyes locked, neither determined to give the first opening. As they moved clockwise around the mat, Katlyn saw an opening just on the edge of her peripheral vision. Without removing her gaze from Sela's, she feinted a punch left, and kicked her right leg out toward the side of Sela's knee. To Katlyn's chagrin, Sela twisted the moment she kicked out, knees bending, and grabbed her ankle. Sela gave Katlyn's foot a twist and sent her flying back, spinning in the air. Quickly, Katlyn rolled forward and jumped to her feet, barely dodging Sela's fist as it slammed toward her ribs. Sela's weight was thrown with that punch; the dodge momentarily knocked her off balance. Katlyn brought her foot around, arc hammering into the back of Sela's head.

Shaking her head, Sela scrambled back to her feet. She jumped at Katlyn, completely abandoning any kind of defense. Startled at the reckless move, Katlyn brought her palm down on the back of Sela's shoulder. She brought her knee up at the same time, connecting with the front of the same shoulder. The next thing Katlyn knew, Sela had her arms wrapped around her leg. Katlyn flew back in an arc, slammed into the mat, and a sudden piercing pain ripped through her ankle. Sela had managed to wrap one arm around her knee and gripped her ankle with both hands, twisting it in some ungodly vice-grip.

Katlyn's entire leg roared with agony, but the move left Sela's head expose. First Katlyn tried to kick her with her free leg. She realized right away that Sela had blocked her free leg. Maybe she wasn't as open as Katlyn thought. Struggling against the pain, Katlyn jerked her arm around Sela's neck and attempted to turn Sela's head to the side. It only took Sela a second to slip away from Katlyn's arm. If there was a lesson to be had here, Katlyn thought...

Katlyn thrust her index and middle finger between the rib bones on Sela's side. The woman immediately let out a gasp, her grip loosing enough for Katlyn to slip out of the hold. Following up before Sela could move away, Katlyn wrapped her legs around Sela's neck and flung her to the ground, pinning her there.

Sela patted Katlyn on the knee, submitting to her. Katlyn released the hold and rolled away. Her ankle burned deeply, but she didn't think she'd been injured.

Sitting up, Sela chuckled. "Not too bad. I was wondering how you'd get out of the dreaded ankle lock of death."

"All else fails, do whatever it takes." Katlyn rubbed her ankle in an attempt to get the blood flowing more.

"I'd like you to accompany me."

Katlyn looked up at Sela. "Excuse me?"

"Horus is good at what he does, but you've seen him. We're getting close to something big here, however there are a few more things I need to work out still and I'm going to need someone with me that can hold their own, yet not intimidate the people I have to communicate with."

"You want me to be your bodyguard?"

"I don't need a bodyguard so much as I need an extra set of eyes and ears. But the situations will be potentially dangerous, and that extra set needs to be able to fight if necessary."

The idea intrigued Katlyn. She's never been one for out and out fighting for her life, especially purposely putting herself in situations where that would be required. How could she refuse such an offer? Did she even want to refuse? From what little she knew these people seemed to be fighting an important fight. That is something worth helping out with.

The more she thought about it, though, the more she realized just how much she didn't know about their fight. She nodded. "All right, I'll help," Katlyn said. "But I need to know more about your organization and what exactly you're trying to accomplish."

"Fair enough. You need to talk to Anthony. He can answer all your questions."

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-04-24
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