Chapter 16: Phaon
Leon edged nervously past the door. Watching him,
Raymont decided that Leon was one cool customer. Leon ducked into the room,
squatting under the torn door, now laying askew and useless as a barrier
to their entry. There were no screams or sounds of firing so Raymont decided
it was safe to follow. Walking into the room, Raymont looked around, surprised
how little damage there seemed to be in the room.
As if reading his mind, Leon commented, "Blast doors." Leon nodded
to the heavy reinforced crysteel shutters that dominated one side. Parallel
lines of a force grid generator ran alongside the shutters on both floor
and roof. Even more impressive were the Mark XXX pulse cannons, three of
them, pointed toward the doors as if ready for use. Dead corpses mouldered
inside their stations within and around the heavy guns.
"Looks like they were ready for a fight," Raymont said, rubbing
his stomach, trying to shake the queasy feeling he had. Radiation sickness
was starting to set in. Raymont looked at his chronometer, noting that only
about ninety hours remained before the ship's scheduled destruction.
"Any chance we could blast our way to the surface with one of these
things?" Leon asked.
Raymont shook his head. He had thought of that also but his scanners had
revealed mostly solid rock. Scanning the air, he noted trace elements of
airborne chemicals. He wasn't sure what they were, but the scanner was suggesting
they were coolant residuals, indicating the possibility of a leak somewhere.
That could have been what killed the gun crews, since the room looked fairly
"Any ideas?" Raymont asked Leon. Leon merely shook his head.
Solo wandered aimlessly about the wreckage of the ship, using a glowlamp
he had found in Antheus room to give him light to guide himself by. Though
he had expected to meet his death in the appearance of a combot hours before,
those same hours slipped by with nothing more than sweat, exhaustion and
the dead mouldering faces of the ship's crewmen to greet him on his trek.
Periodically he climbed, deciding for no other reason than to at least approach
the direction of the surface, which eluded him somehow. It was some few
hours before he finally admitted to himself that he was hopelessly lost.
A dull ache continued to haunt him, almost convincing him that his right
arm was still there. All it took was a reach for that once comforting flesh,
the grip of empty air, and the returning realization that he was maimed.
Even if they were to escape, he would need a fortune to buy a prosthetic
arm that would be any good to a pilot, to a good pilot. Noting a light ahead,
Solo ventured forward, Antheus rifle gripped awkwardly in his left hand.
Perhaps he had found the combots after all.
Just as they were about to leave the room, Leon stopped Raymont and motioned
for quiet. Back in the corridor where they had come from, they could see
the flickering gleam of a probing light. But the combots wouldn't need visual
light, operating mostly in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges. This beam
was erratic and small, and accompanying it where the muffled shuffles and
steps of a pair of hesitant feet. Quickly, they extinguished their own lights.
Solo crept forward, but to his consternation,.the other light source was
extinguished. Still, bravely or stupidly, he wasn't sure, he continued to
advance until, ducking under the torn bulk of a collapsed crysteel doorway,
he found himself in what appeared to be a gun bay. Large Mark XXX pulse
cannons were revealed in his small beam, their dead crews mouldering, forever
at their posts. Beyond the guns, closed crysteel shutters barred him from
the outside of the ship while parallel lines of a forcegrid ran alongside
the shutters. No evidence of life existed otherwise, but then, thinking
about something, Solo shined his light onto the floor. There was revealed
several footprints winding their way around the gun bay as revealed in the
disturbed dust. Solo couldn't see them in the meagre light of his lamp,
but suddenly he realized that he was probably not alone.
A staggering figure crawled into the gun bay, ducking as they had done,
under the collapsed crysteel door. As they hid themselves, this figure,
revealed by its own light as to be wearing priestly robes, shined its small
lamp about, examining first the guns, then the floor. They couldn't make
much out of the priestly figure, save that he seemed to be missing his right
arm and awkwardly carried a gauss rifle tucked under his left arm, while
his left hand scanned about with the light. Watching him, both Leon and
Raymont saw that the floor captured much of the man's attention. Then they
both realized what he must be seeing - their footprints in the dust.
Joe and Tessa watched helplessly as Bug finished wiring several of the cryoberths
in series, taping their power supplies to activate the console. They knew
he was successful when weird lights began to play across its surface. Though
they appeared alien to both Tessa and Joe, the marine seemed to make something
of the psychedelic display and by placing her gauntleted hand upon the console,
seemed to be able to manipulate the light into pulsing patterns that were
accompanied by tonal sounds.
A flickering holographic image of a gaunt face appeared above the console
while the built in amplifier boomed in a foreign voice.
"XXXXX. XXXX XXXX!"
The marine, casting a wary glance back at the trio of Bug, Joe and Tessa,
replied in what sounded like the same language, if one could call it that.
It seemed to consist mostly of weird grunts and clicks that seemed hardly
likely to be intelligible language, but which nevertheless seemed to carry
After this brief conversation, the holograph flickered out and died. There
was an appreciable hum through the conduit that Bug had installed, as if
a large amount of current were passing through. Joe even thought he could
feel heat radiating from them as well. Just as two of the cryoberth power
supplies shorted and burned out, dooming their occupants, the console connected
to the cable went dim as well, and their followed an incredible silence
and stillness as all present watched to see what would happen next.
Several layers of crysteel blast panels pulled back and a immense figure,
obviously a person encapsulated in battledress, the powered armour suit
of the knight, rose to greet them. Lights on the suit told them it was powered
and even as they speculated about what would happen next, a voice, loud
and terrible, accosted them, hurting their ears with its volume.
"WELCOME TO THE DIVINITY! I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU ARE OR WHAT YOU ARE,
BUT GIVEN THE SERGEANT'S REPORT, I CAN CERTAINLY SPECULATE THAT YOU ARE
HERE AT THE BEHEST OF THE JADIST MILITARY! DON'T BOTHER LYING! MY INTERNAL
CHRONOMETER TELLS ME HOW LONG I'VE BEEN DORMANT AND I CAN SEE FOR MYSELF
THE STATE OF THE SHIP! IF YOU WANT TO LIVE PAST THE NEXT FEW MINUTES, YOU
WILL ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS PUT TO YOU QUICKLY AND WITHOUT HESITATION OR SUBTERFUGE!
I AM MARGRAVE RABASTUS BUT YOU WILL ADDRESS ME AS MY LORD!"
However, before the armoured noble could begin his interrogation, there
was a bright flash. Sergeant Garsya didn't even have time to scream as the
bolt of gaseous plasma ripped through her plasteel exoskeleton. The rapid
expansion of the superheated plasma had its usual effect as her body exploded
into a thousand shreds of glowing flesh, armor and sundries. As the combot
veered into view, its guns centered on the Margrave while the lesser figures
of Bug, Tessa and Joe ducked for cover.
Though Thorn's nerves were getting the best of her, she was able to keep
from calling the others, at least at first. And then, as hour stacked upon
hour, with no contact with anyone, Thorn finally went to her comset. Turning
it on to Tessa's channel, she was surprised to find that it was open and
transmitting. But rather than a voice, all she could hear were explosions
and what sounded like Tessa screaming. She immediately started to ask what
was happening but then stopped, unsure of what to do next.
As Raymont and Leon observed the figure, it seemed to take interest in the
cannon nearest to him. As they watched, he retreated and awkwardly raising
his rifle, tried to steady it on of the cannon's chairs, near to where Leon
In a voice that sounded remarkably like Solo, Leon and Raymont heard him
growl, "Come out or I'll blow ya in half!"
Solo, getting up the last bit of his energy growls, "Come out or I'll
blow ya in half!"
Back to Space Master Page
Back to Main Page