Fiction: Afterlife (Chapter 33)

by Mike Monroe on January 12, 2015

in FICTION

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Afterlife is a sci fi/western action serial published every other week. Join us in a post-apocalyptic journey through a future where life has become little more than a struggle for survival. However, where there’s life, there’s always hope.


Read the previous chapter here:

Afterlife, Volume 1, Chapter 32

Where:

Warrick Baines kills Pete Ahmad.
Bobby and Michelle see Rennock’s troops advancing on Primrose.
Herman Rennock’s forces begin their attack.

Find the Table of Contents page here.

View the Map here.

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Afterlife, Volume 1, Chapter 33

Mavery watched Abigail Song nervously as the hover truck drove through the city.  Abby was looking out through the back with her piercing eyes.  If she was worried, her face didn’t show it.  She seemed to be used to tough situations.  At least that’s the impression Mavery had.  Mavery could tell Abby didn’t like her, though she wasn’t really sure why.  Mavery had wanted to talk to Abby about her story so she could publish it eventually, but when she approached her about it, Abby sort of brushed it off.  There was important stuff going on.  Mavery understood that.  But there seemed to be more to it than that.  Mavery didn’t like the tone of voice Abby used when she talked to her, and she avoided eye contact.  Maybe it was all in Mavery’s head.  They’d known this battle was coming for days, after all, even if they weren’t sure exactly when it would come, and Abby obviously had a lot on her mind.  It wasn’t the meeting Mavery had expected, though, when she’d decided to come to Primrose.

As the hover truck approached the battle, the distant sounds of explosions and the hisses of laser blasts grew louder.  Through the open back of the truck, Mavery could see shouting troops running through the streets.  There were also other trucks and hover tanks following them.  She noticed two medics rushing down the road carrying a stretcher between them.  On the stretcher was a screaming man whose legs were gone and all that was left were bloody stumps.  Mavery swallowed and looked away.  She was nervous as hell.  She’d never been close to a real battle.  There was the grizzly scene outside the walls of New Atlantis, and the bandits Big Ed killed, and there were a few times she’d covered bomb explosions in New Atlantis, but this was going to be something else altogether.  She looked next to her at Big Ed.  He was looking at the floor of the van, breathing deeply.  The tan helmet he was wearing looked too small for his head, but other than that, he looked like a real soldier, wearing the same tan uniform as Sergeant Gonzalez’ men.  Mavery planned on sticking as close to him as possible.

There was a loud crack and Mavery almost fell out of her seat as the hover truck rocked back and forth.  “We got hit by a laser blast,” Sergeant Mark Gonzalez said.  “Don’t worry.  This truck’s sturdy.”

“Watch where you’re steering this thing!” Paul Jacobs shouted at John Bernard, who was in the driver’s seat.  “You’re gonna give me whiplash and I’ll have to call my lawyer.”

“Yeah, right!” John shouted back.  “You don’t like my driving, you can get out and walk!”  Paul chuckled as there were several fizzes and two cracks so loud they made Mavery jump.  The truck shook back and forth, and she heard several things thud and clatter on the roof.  Her eyes met Abby’s for a second.  Abby quickly looked away, staring at the floor.

Mavery glanced at Mark, whose wife Jane was sitting next to him.  Jane smiled at her and she smiled back.  Jane had probably been the most welcoming of the Bloody Six.  She’d offered to make Mavery coffee several times in the mornings, and she’d talked with her a few times over breakfast.  Jane was originally from a town called Karmica in the Northeast Territory.  She was from a military family, and when she was in her late teens, she began to read about the Southwest Resistance and decided to move to Lookout City, just west of the Rockies, where there was fierce fighting at the time.  That’s where she met Mark and they got married and moved to Primrose.  Then, there were Abby’s companions, Earl Steadman and Della Luscious.  Earl was a nice enough man.  He was always friendly with Mavery, and she’d had one or two religious discussions with him.  Her mom was a devout Christian, and though Mavery wasn’t as religious as her mom, she still believed in Jesus and considered herself a Christian.  That was part of the reason she wasn’t so sure about Della.  He was a nice enough person, but with his flamboyant personality and his painted nails and all, Mavery couldn’t help but think he was a little bit of an attention whore.  And Alex Harris.  He was sitting to her left.  He was a professor and a famous intellectual and writer who was one of the brains behind the resistance movement.  With his long hair and thick beard he looked the part.  He definitely didn’t look like a soldier, even if he was wearing one of the tan uniforms.  His was rumpled and unkempt, though, while the others were ironed and tidy looking.  Mavery had read a lot about Alex, and when she met him in person, she found him surprisingly humble and welcoming.  So these were the people she was riding into battle with.  There was another explosion just outside of the truck, rocking it back and forth and Mavery closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

When she opened them again, the truck had stopped.  She looked out through the back to see soldiers rushing past on both sides.  “All right!” Mark shouted as he stood and made his way out of the back of the truck.  “We’ve reached our position.  Everyone out.”  Mavery followed Big Ed out through the back of the truck and joined him as he stood awaiting his orders with the others who’d been riding with them.  Mark pointed to a pile of sand bags at the end of the street in front of the hover truck.  The sand bags had been piled up next to what appeared to be a church on the very edge of town.  The desert spread out past it, and Mavery could see soldiers fighting in the distance.  There were also some large cannon-looking things which were firing into the city.  Mavery figured those were the blasts she’d heard in the truck.  “Jane, Earl, Della, Alex, Abby, and I are going to head to that barricade,” Mark said.  “We’ll stay there and wait for the enemy forces to get within range, and we’ll try our best to hold them off.  John, Paul, and Ed, you take Mavery and head towards the barricade just down that road.”  He pointed to a street to his right.  “Do the same.  Hold the enemy off to the best of your ability.  We’ll keep in contact.  If you have to leave your position for any reason, let me know on your communicator.  This is our little section of town.  We may see heavy fighting if Rennock’s forces breach our outside defenses.  They’ve already found their way through the outer wall and the force field.  Good luck, everyone.”

With that, Mavery followed Big Ed, John Bernard, and Paul Jacobs down the sandy street Mark had pointed them to.  Mavery noticed that John was carrying a huge laser rifle with four barrels.  It was much bigger than the laser rifles Paul and Ed were carrying.  She also noticed that Paul had a bag slung over his shoulder.  They walked to the end of the street where another wall of sand bags had been built between two sandstone buildings.  Past the sandbags, the desert sands spread out in all directions.  Mavery and her companions ducked behind the sandbags as John peeked over the barricade with a pair of digital binoculars.  “Most of the fighting’s still out in the desert,” he said.  “It’ll probably be a while before anything reaches us.  I do see some androids that breeched the resistance line, but they’re heading towards the southern part of the city, away from us.  I see lots of resistance troops retreating back to the city, also.  Some siege weapons.  We’d better be prepared.”

Paul nodded.  “Any levelers coming this way yet?”

John shook his head, still peering through the binoculars.  “They’re mostly outside the outer wall from what I can see.  We need to be ready for those, too, though.”

Big Ed smiled at Mavery.  “I know you’re not a soldier, but you should really have a gun.”

“I’ll be fine,” Mavery said.  “I’ll stick close to you guys.  I’m just here to record what happens.”  She’d bought a new pair of glasses which had a built-in digital video recorder a few days earlier.  She planned on turning it on once the fighting started, and she’d save the footage to upload onto the Satellite Net later on.  It would be good supplemental material to accompany whatever articles she wrote.

“Suit yourself,” Big Ed said, “but it may come in handy.”

“I mean, it’s not like you guys have extra guns to hand out anyway, right?” Mavery asked.  “Besides, I’ve never shot a gun before.  I’d be as likely to blow off my own foot.”

John Bernard chuckled, grinning at Mavery through his glasses.  “At least you aren’t afraid to acknowledge that.”  He ducked back down behind the sand bags with the others.

“So what do we do now?” Mavery asked.

“We wait,” Paul replied.  He put his bag on the ground next to him and stretched out his legs in the sandy street.  “Try to get comfortable.  It might be while.”  He took off his helmet and placed it on his lap, revealing his curly black hair.

“Hopefully,” Big Ed said.

“What do you mean?” John asked him.  “You don’t want to fight?  Believe me, the waiting’s worse.  You just sit here in your thoughts.  When you’re fighting, it happens, and then it’s over.  And you either live or you die.”

“Or get mauled or wounded,” Paul added.  He smiled at Mavery.  “Sorry, ma’am.  Just being honest.”

“Can we talk about somethin’ else?” Big Ed asked.  “I’ve seen plenty of death in my time.  I don’t need to talk about it.”

“We should definitely talk about something, though,” John said.  “The waiting will drive you nuts, otherwise.”

“I don’t know,” Big Ed said.  “I kind of like the quiet.”

Mavery glanced over at John.  He had the look of an intellectual black man, with his glasses and his goatee.  Even with his muscular frame and the uniform and helmet he was wearing.  “Have you guys read any books lately?” Mavery asked.

John chuckled.  “Books?  You want to talk about books right now?”

“Sure,” Mavery said.  “Why not?”

“I finished something called The Dragons of Summer a little while ago,” Paul said.  “It was pretty good.  A fantasy story.  Part two in a series.  Spring was the first one.  I read that too.  I liked Summer better.”

Mavery nodded.  “I’m not real big on fantasy, but that’s pretty cool.”  She glanced over at John.  “How about you?”

John shook his head and chuckled.  “I don’t read much other than technical readouts about weapons and stuff like that.  I’m not really much on fiction.  I live in reality, you know?”

Mavery noticed that Big Ed seemed to be an outsider to the conversation, so she started trying to think of ways to change the subject.  Then, there was a hiss and a laser blast flew over their heads.  Everyone ducked and Paul put his helmet back on.  “Do you want to check again?” he asked John.  “They seem to be getting closer.  Don’t get your head blown off, though.”

John nodded and peeked over the sand bags real quick, ducking back down afterwards.  There was another hiss and another blast flew overhead.  “They’re about three hundred yards away or so.  I see robots and soldiers.  We’ll need to start fighting now.  I also saw some resistance fighters falling back this way.  Everyone get ready.”  He clutched his big rifle and Big Ed and Paul readied their own laser rifles as Mavery ducked as low as she could behind the wall of sand bags.

Nothing happened for a few minutes, or maybe it was just seconds.  Mavery couldn’t tell.  Time seemed to be moving so slowly.  Everyone was quiet as she stared down at the sandy street.  John had been right.  The waiting was maddening, especially with the silence.  Then, everything seemed to happen at once.  Something pounded into the sand bags, shaking Mavery a little.  There were hisses and lasers flew by overhead.  A huge green laser slammed into the side of a nearby building and there was an explosion as rubble flew everywhere.  A rock the size of a head flew towards Mavery and in a fearful reflex action, she moved just in time as it careened off the sand bag wall just where her face had been.  There was shouting and several resistance soldiers leapt over the sand bags.  Mavery watched as laser blasts ripped one of them to shreds right in front of her.  His arm was gone and there was a big, bloody hole through the center of his head as he smashed into the sandy ground.  Several other resistance soldiers took cover behind the wall of sand bags with Mavery and her companions.  One next to her was screaming in pain.  His stomach was bleeding profusely.  “Hold on!” said the medic, who was leaning over him.  You’ll be all right.  A laser blast blew away some sand bags at the top of the wall and sand flew everywhere, getting in Mavery’s hair and eyes.  She took off her glasses and tried her best to rub the sand out.

John stood with his huge laser rifle and started firing shots so fast Mavery couldn’t keep up.  His must have been a repeating laser rifle of some sort.  He quickly ducked back down as lasers blasted through the top of the sand bag wall.  Mavery put her hands on her head and ducked, cowering with fear.  “You don’t have a helmet!  You need a helmet!” someone shouted.  Mavery listened as laser blasts pummeled the top of the sand bag wall.  One blasted through the medic’s head and he tumbled forward into the sand.  He apparently hadn’t been ducking low enough.  Mavery took it as a warning to duck even lower.  She felt a hand pat her back.

“Stay down,” Big Ed said.  “You’ll be all right.”  He stood and fired several shots with his laser rifle, ducking back down afterwards.

“What’s she doing here anyway?” someone asked.

“You got a problem with her, you got a problem with me,” Big Ed replied as he ducked down next to Mavery.  Paul and John both stood and fired several shots over the barricade, then ducked back down.  That’s when Mavery realized she hadn’t turned on her recorder yet.  She pushed a small button on the side of her glasses.  She realized as she ducked as low as she could that all it was recording was the sandy street and the shouts and painful screams all around her.  She’d have to find a way to be brave and get some decent footage.  Of course if she died in the process, it wouldn’t do anyone any good.

<>

Abby ducked behind the barricade with Pastor Earl to her right and Della Luscious to her left.  Mark and Jane Gonzalez and Alex Harris were also there with them.  Abby looked at the church steeple that rose up over the street beside them as Mark stood and fired a few more shots.  He pulled his communicator off his belt and pushed the talk button.  “John, what’s the situation there?”

Abby could here chaotic hisses and explosions from the communicator.  “Heavy fighting.”

Mark nodded.  “If it gets too heavy, fall back to the truck.  Let me know.”

“Sure will,” John said.  “Over and out.”

“You stay down no matter what,” Pastor Earl said to Abby.  “And stick with me and Della.”

Della nodded.  “We don’t need anything happening to you.  This is gonna get ugly real fast.”

“I can do ugly,” Abby said.  “I’m used to ugly.”

“Just stay down,” Pastor Earl said more forcefully.  He and Della stood and fired over the barricade and ducked back down.  “There are a whole bunch of resistance fighters coming this way,” Pastor Earl said.  “They’re being chased by androids and soldiers.  Get ready.”  He and Della stood and fired, as did Mark and Jane.  Alex continued ducking behind the wall of sand bags.  Abby noticed he had a laser pistol, but it was still in its holster.  He was wearing a tan uniform like Mark and Jane.

Abby bit her lip.  She couldn’t sit and do nothing while the others did all the work.  That’s just not who she was.  She stood and started firing at a group of robots in the distance.  They were humanoid in shape, but they were shiny silver metal and each was holding a laser rifle.  They aimed and fired at her as she fired shot after shot with the repeating laser pistol Paul Jacobs had given her.  Several lasers flew over the top of the barricade as Abby dove to the ground.  “Stay down!” Mark shouted as he ducked with the others behind the barricade.

“I’m here,” Abby shouted back.  “I’m fighting!  If you didn’t want me to fight, you shouldn’t have brought me along.”

“I wanted to keep you and Alex where I could see you,” Mark shouted.  He was visibly annoyed as he fired some shots over the barricade and ducked back down.

“Well you can see me,” Abby said.  “I’m not a soldier, though.  So don’t try to tell me what to do.”  She stood and fired some more and just before she could duck, a laser blast hit her and she fell to the ground.

“Abby!” Pastor Earl shouted as he leaned over her.

Abby felt her right arm.  The laser had barely grazed it but it had given her quite a stir.  “Now you stay down,” Della shouted.  “Don’t be trying to act like you’re something you’re not, honey.  Leave the fighting to the soldiers.”

“I strongly suggest not standing again,” Einstein said from her wrist.  “Standing lowers the probability you survive this battle, which is already low, exponentially.”

Abby nodded as Della stood and fired several shots.  A group of resistance soldiers came leaping over the barricade as Mark and Jane gave them covering fire.  Abby was surprised to see that General Crenshaw was one of them.  Abby immediately recognized his square jaw and piercing brown eyes.  He was wearing the same tan uniform and helmet as the other soldiers, but his helmet had a gold star above his forehead.  “Sir, are you hurt?” someone nearby asked.

“I’m all right,” the general said in his soft, calm voice.  He seemed cool and collected, even with all the chaos around him.  He glanced over at Alex and Mark.  “We’re taking a beating out there.  It may be time to fall back soon.”

Mark nodded.  “Give the order and we’ll do it.”

General Crenshaw stood for a second, surveying the battle with digital binoculars as lasers flew by.  Abby was surprised none of them hit him.  He ducked back down and frowned.  “It may be time to make a stand.  If we can break through the line, there’s a chance to outflank the enemy and come around the rear.  It may be our only hope.”  Several more resistance fighters jumped over the barricade as lasers continued hissing through the sky, pummeling the nearby buildings.  “Everyone come with me,” General Crenshaw shouted.  “Into the church!”

Abby watched as a soldier opened the huge metal doors of the nearby church and General Crenshaw and dozens of soldiers rushed through.  Several other soldiers came rushing down the street and went into the church also.  Abby looked at Mark and shrugged.  Mark shook his head.  “We stay here.”

“Isn’t the general the one who gives you orders?” Abby asked.

“Look,” Mark said.  “If we don’t hold this spot, Rennock’s men could come rushing into the city.  Besides, somebody needs to stay out here to defend this position while they meet in the church.”

Abby looked around, seeing that a dozen or so resistance soldiers had stayed outside.  Many were ducking behind the sand bags.  “It looks like they’ve got things under control here,” she said.  “I’m gonna go see what he has to say.”

Mark shrugged.  “Suit yourself.  We’re staying here.”

Abby stood and ran towards the church, followed by Pastor Earl and Della Luscious.  Once inside, they found themselves rubbing shoulders with hundreds of soldiers.  Abby had no idea there were so many in there.  General Crenshaw was standing at the podium in the front, flanked by several members of his staff as the sounds of laser fire filled the church from outside.  Abby heard some thuds as blasts hit the roof and some debris fell.  “We didn’t come here to turn tail and run,” General Crenshaw said from the podium as several soldiers cheered.  “So here’s what’s happening.  We fell back, but that doesn’t mean we can’t attack again.  I noticed a weak spot in the northern end of the enemy line, so we’re gonna break through, outflank them, and come around and attack from behind.  We need to be fast.  And we need to hit ‘em hard.  So who’s with me?  I’ll go by myself if I have to, but who’s with me?  This could be our last shot at them!”  A loud cheer went up through the church as soldiers raised their hands.

Abby also cheered and raised her hand.  “No way,” Pastor Earl shouted at her.  “We’re staying with Mark.”

Abby frowned at him.  “To do what?  What does it matter if we fight there or go with General Crenshaw?  I want to be with our troops.”

“But you’re too important,” Pastor Earl said.  “Don’t you understand that, Abby?”

Abby shook her head.  “This has never really been about me.  And it isn’t even about the diamonds.  It’s about people.  I’m no different than any of the rest of them, and if the people all join together and rise up to fight, they’ll beat Rennock.  It’s the only way they’ll beat him.  And I’ve come here to join the fight with them.”

Della looked at Pastor Earl and shrugged.  “It might be better to be on the move.  Once those levelers get here, they’ll pound the city to bits anyway.  Those sand bags won’t help much.”

“Your chances of survival actually don’t change either way,” Einstein said from Abby’s wrist.

“All right,” Pastor Earl said with a frown.  “Lesser of two evils, I guess.”  He glanced at Abby.  “But if things get hairy, we’re getting you out of here as fast as we can.  I don’t care what you say.  I’ve failed in the past, but I’m not gonna fail you.  Not this time.”  He raised his hand, as did Della as the troops continued cheering.

<>

Bobby and Michelle watched from the top of the hill they’d spent the night on as Rennock’s troops marched towards the town.  They were pressing hard, and the resistance fighters were continually giving up ground.  There were still soldiers passing Bobby and Michelle on both sides of the hill.  They stayed low, hoping not to be noticed.  Bobby was a little worried about EMPC’s and attack copters passing overhead, though.  After some time, the area around the hill seemed to be clear.  Rennock’s troops were marching on the city.  “I think we may be just out of range of the city for their siege weapons,” Bobby said.  “It’s a good thing because this ground’s high, and it would be the perfect spot for a cannon.”  He noticed some other hills closer to the city.  Those were probably better spots.

Michelle nodded.  “Well, we’d better get on the move soon, anyway.  I don’t like being up here like this.  We’re sitting ducks.”

Bobby pulled his communicator off his belt and tried pushing the button.  “Still no signal.  They must be jamming it or something.”

Michelle frowned.  “Yeah, it’d be nice if I could call Horseman to at least tell him where we are.”

Bobby surveyed the area around the hill.  He noticed something red materialize in the desert in the distance and pointed.  “Look.  Over there.”  It looked like a red hover car.  “Could that be your brother?”

Michelle squinted.  “I don’t know, maybe.  Who else would be driving out there?  It’s not a good day for a joyride.”

“Could be someone trying to escape the city.  Whoever it is apparently has a camouflage projection system, though.  Should we try to figure out a way to signal him or something?”

“I don’t know,” Michelle said.  “I don’t want Rennock’s men to see us, either.”

The car disappeared again.  “I think he wanted to be seen, at least for a few seconds,” Bobby said.  “I think its Horseman.  He must be looking for you.  Maybe we should at least stand up and start waving or something.”

“But won’t that make us a target?” Michelle asked.

The red sports hover car materialized closer to the hill.  It was heading in their direction.  “Maybe he saw us,” Bobby said.  “Let’s see if he comes this way, I guess.  If he doesn’t we can stand up and wave or something.”

The car rode towards the hill and started riding up it.  Bobby saw Horseman in the driver’s seat as it slowed down.  Juanita Ricardo was next to him and there was someone in the back, too.  Bobby could see it was a black woman with short hair.  It was Sera Knight, another soldier in Mark Gonzalez’ group.  The hover car zoomed up the side of the hill and stopped near Bobby’s sand bike.  Horseman’s window went down and he smiled at Michelle.  “You okay, sis?”

Michelle nodded.  “We’re fine.”

“Juanita’s been scanning the desert with her digital binoculars while I drove,” Horseman said.  “It’s a good thing she saw your sand bike.”  Bobby nodded.  “Let’s get you back to town,” Horseman continued.  “I bought a camouflage projector off Pete, so we should be okay.  Abby and the rest of them are positioned at a church on the edge of town.  Let’s head back there.”

Michelle nodded.  “All right.”

“Good to see you okay,” Juanita said to Michelle with a smile.

“Thanks,” Michelle said, smiling back.

Bobby got on his sand bike and Michelle got behind him.  Horseman and Bobby started their engines and they sped down the side of the hill, the camouflage projector hiding them from anyone outside its shell of nanobots.  They raced towards the town, past soldiers and androids marching on the town as laser blasts flew past and above them.  There were so many lasers, Bobby had no idea how they weren’t getting hit, whether Rennock’s men could see them or not.  Just then, a blast hit Horseman’s car and it sputtered and stopped near some sandstone buildings just outside of town.  It appeared to be a farmstead of some sort.  Bobby pulled up beside the damaged sports hover car and stopped as Horseman lowered his window.  “What happened?” Bobby asked.

“They hit the steering system,” Horseman replied.  “We’re gonna have to walk the rest of the way.”

“Do you want to take my bike?” Bobby asked.  “You’ll get there faster.  I’ll meet up with you later.”

Horseman shook his head.  “We need to stick together.  And we need to get out of here.”

Bobby turned to see several of Rennock’s black-clad soldiers coming their way.  “Can we bring the camouflage projection system with us?” he asked.

Horseman shook his head. “It’s too big. We installed it in my car. Besides, it doesn’t work as well short range. If they get within the shell of nanobots, they’ll see us.” Bobby nodded and he and Michelle got off the sand bike and followed Horseman, Sera, and Juanita as they ran past the buildings towards town.

Lasers seemed to be flying all around them.  The sounds of hisses, fizzes, and explosions filled the area.  Bobby noticed that Juanita had a laser rifle with a sniper scope along with a laser pistol in a hip holster.  Sera had two swords and several throwing knives in a bandolier.  Horseman led the way as they ran past the buildings and through the sand towards town.  He drew a laser pistol and started firing.  Bobby noticed four soldiers in black uniforms with black helmets running towards them, firing laser rifles.  The blasts hissed past as Horseman fired four shots, taking out all of the soldiers.  Horseman ran past some sandstone houses at the edge of town and stopped, leaning against a wall where the others joined him.  Juanita fired several shots behind them, using the wall of the house as cover, and she took out several of Rennock’s soldiers who’d been following them.  “So where’s this church?” Michelle asked Horseman as they leaned against the wall.

“Several blocks away,” Horseman said.  “I think we can make it, but it depends on how heavy the fighting is.”

“Lead the way,” Bobby said.

Horseman peeked around the corner of the house they were leaning against.  “I see lots of Rennock’s men out there taking cover near a sandstone wall.  Looks a little dangerous, but I don’t think they’re expecting soldiers coming from this direction, though.”

“Let me handle this,” Sera said with a grin.

“I’ll cover you,” Juanita said.  Sera nodded and ran out into the street.  Bobby peeked around the corner past Horseman and saw about a dozen soldiers in black with their backs to them.  Sera ran straight for them.  Several blue lights on her belt started flashing as she drew her two swords.  One of the soldiers turned to see her and tried to fire his gun but nothing happened.  As the soldier looked at his gun to figure out what was wrong with it, Sera sliced a gash through his chest with one of her swords and he fell into the sandy street.  The other soldiers tried to shoot at her with their laser rifles, but they also couldn’t fire.  Juanita, who was still taking cover against the wall of the house with Bobby and the others, pulled her laser pistol out of its holster and blasted one soldier through the heart as Sera sliced through the men one after the other, cutting through chests and necks and leaving a trail of bloody bodies.  Three of the soldiers drew knives and came at her, but Sera dodged their attacks with swift, agile movements.  She kicked one in the chest and he thudded into the wall.  She parried attacks from the other two and managed to slice one in the chest and the other through the neck.  Bobby was impressed with her martial arts skills.  Horseman fired his laser pistol several times also, taking out a few soldiers.  Bobby drew his laser pistol with his left hand and fired several shots.  He didn’t hit anything, though.  He really wished his right arm weren’t in a sling.  Soon, the coast was clear and Horseman and the others followed Sera out into the street.  Bobby noticed Sera push a button on her belt and the blue lights stopped flashing.

Horseman led the group around another corner and they ran past closed-up shops and houses until Horseman motioned for everyone to take cover at the side of a building.  They all leaned up against the wall just as they had before with the previous house they’d taken cover against.  “There are more of Rennock’s soldiers around that corner,” Horseman whispered, pointing up ahead.  “Lots more.”

“I’ll go again,” Sera said.  “Cover me.”

“No, I mean like, a whole lot more,” Horseman said.  “There are several dozen marching this way.  But we have to get past them somehow to get to the church.  We need to try to avoid them somehow.  I don’t know if your electromagnetic disruption field will be enough for that many.”

“It has a range of about thirty feet,” Sera said.

Juanita shook her head.  “No, Horseman’s right.  If they get too close and you’re fighting them, we won’t be able to use our weapons, either.  The EMD field could end up hurting us as much as it hurts them.  We need to figure out something else.”

Horseman nodded.  “We’ll need to find a way to sneak…”  A laser shot blasted through the wall near Sera, leaving a smoldering hole.

“Sniper!” Juanita shouted and she and Sera rushed towards the other end of the building.  Bobby and Michelle turned and followed them, followed by Horseman.  He fired several shots through the windows of a building across the street as they ran.  Bobby wondered if the other soldiers heard the hisses of the lasers as they ran past another building, trying to find a place to take cover.  Bobby and Michelle stuck close to Horseman as he followed Sera and Juanita.  More laser blasts slammed into the wall, spraying sandstone fragments into the street.  Bobby looked over his shoulder to see black-clad troops running around the corner.

Sera turned the corner into an alley and stopped.  “Dead end,” she said.  Juanita frowned and fired several shots at the soldiers who had turned the corner, blasting their heads and chests open.

Horseman stopped just behind Sera and turned towards Bobby and Michelle with a frown on his face.  “We might have to turn back,” he said.  “I don’t know if we’ll be able to…”  A laser blast hissed through his face, splattering blood and brains all over Bobby and Michelle.  Michelle screamed.  Bobby turned to see her scarred face covered with Horseman’s blood as she screamed hysterically.  More laser blasts hissed past all around them as Horseman’s head bled out into the sandy street and fragments of sandstone sprayed all around them.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 1, Chapter 34
Where:
General Crenshaw leads his counterattack.
Bobby, Abby, Mavery, and their companions desperately try to stay alive.
Warrick Baines and his men wait for Nat Bigum.

Find the Table of Contents page here.

View the Map here.

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Mike Monroe

Michael Monroe was born in Baltimore, MD and has lived there most of his life. He’s a poet and fiction writer whose preferred genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy, and he’s always had a thing for Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. His poetry has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, nthposition, the Lyric, Scribble, the Loch Raven Review, Foliate Oak, Primalzine, and various other publications.

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