#BlogBattle 24 “Troop”
This is Part THREE: Final Troop
“You’re making a mistake, and you’re going to get us all killed,” Serena said.
Zane blinked once and notched his head one degree to the left. “That all depends on you.”
Serena rolled her eyes, her dark eyelashes so long they almost touched her eyebrows. “Follow me.”
Zane smiled and kept in step with Serena as she marched back toward the palace which was entirely enveloped in the haze. Her every step was confident.
They neared the entrance to the expansive home, and Zane could make out lights on the building. Windows began to appear, but before reaching the door, they turned to the right and a short distance beyond was a staircase leading down into the ground. Most hyperloops existed above ground so this was new for Zane.
The air was almost clear down in the subway, but there were several flashing red lights and a woman’s calm voice repeated the words, “Warning. Evacuation protocol twelve now in effect. Do not use underground transportation. Warning. . .”
“The pod that will take us to Oasis’s renewal system is there,” Serena said and pointed down the way to one of several pod stations.
Zane pressed his temple and said, “Time.” A digital time display appeared against his retina and then quickly disappeared. “Let’s move.”
He grabbed her upper arm and jogged toward the pod. Dragon overtook them, but he looked to be walking, his legs were such long, massive trunks.
“Unhand me,” Serena said and yanked her arm from his grasp. “I’m perfectly capable of running on my own, and there’ s no way I want to die here.”
She turned her jog into a full-on sprint, even overtaking Dragon who looked back at Zane and grinned.
“Hurry it up, gents,” Serena said.
Dragon got there before Zane and ducked through the door. Zane watched it wobble a little and wondered if Dragon might not be too heavy for the transport. Too late now. No point in worrying over the what ifs. He hopped in, too, and took the seat next to Serena.
Serena had been telling the truth. The pod arrived at their destination in just under two minutes. All in all, they’d wasted eight minutes. Zane had less than fifteen minutes to get the seed water he needed for Earth Vengrandis.
“This way,” Serena said, leading them off the hyperloop and out into a large, open room full of the same flashing lights and woman’s calm voice heralding a warning. Columns were everywhere, much in the ancient Roman style. Zane followed Serena as she veered off to the right. “Your man and ship will be there, won’t they?”
Zane jogged next to her and couldn’t miss the hint of fear in her voice. He had the impulse to take her hand and give it a squeeze, but didn’t give in. This was too important for distractions. “Yes. He’ll be there. Sean’s the second best pilot in the galaxies.”
She made a scoffing sound. “Oh, and let me guess? You’re the best?”
“No. My wife was.”
Serena stumbled. This time, Zane did take her hand and kept her from falling to the ground. Neither of them said anything but resumed their run. Dragon stayed just behind them. Zane checked the time again. Two more minutes gone.
“I’m sorry,” Serena said.
“What are you talking about?” Zane’s mind went directly to the water, sure she was going to tell him it was inaccessible or already destroyed.
“About your wife.”
Understanding dawned on him. It hit his chest like a lead weight, but he pushed the feeling away. “It was a long time ago. Are we almost there?”
“Yes. Just around the corner.”
They slipped around the bend and came up to a double sealed door. “This’ll take me just a second.”
She pressed her hand to the scanner and leaned in so that it could also read her eye signature. The doors opened in rapid succession.
“Damn,” Zane said as soon as the door was fully open. His ship was there on the landing pad, but there were soldiers everywhere, with guns pointed at his precious Caelum I.
“I’ll take care of this, Captain.”
Zane raised an eyebrow at Serena. She was no-nonsense, he was sure, but being able to direct a troop of soldiers, well that was an entirely different sort of feat. But he had to give her props for effort once again.
She walked out into the open and several guns swiveled to point at her. “Stand down. I repeat, stand down.”
“Colonel Sola!” a man called from halfway around the ship and started running her direction. “Everyone, lower your weapons,” he said.
“Lieutenant, why aren’t these men evacuated?”
“We were ordered to track down the Denian. Destroy him and his ship.”
“The Oasis won’t last must longer. You’ve got to get these men out of here now.”
“We’ve still not located the Denian, ma’am.”
Zane ignored their conversation. He looked around, a frantic, last-ditch effort to find the hookup station for water transfer. He located it fifty yards away and motioned for Dragon to see. The big man nodded, and then he ran over, ignoring the stares of the soldiers.
Zane heard Serena saying, “I don’t care. As soon as Fruitful goes, he’ll go. He’s got no way of escape.”
“Yes, ma’am, but what about this ship? It has no authorization to land.”
“It’s with me. Now go!”
The lieutenant saluted and called for his men to follow. They formed two lines and hustled out of the complex.
“Colonel, huh? Will wonders never cease? Come help me rig this up, Colonel. We’ve got all of five minutes left.”
“You’ve got no manners, you know that?” Serena said, but Zane didn’t miss the amusement behind her words. At least she didn’t sound frightened any more.
They booked it over to the ship, and Zane hooked up the water transfer hose Dragon had hauled over to the ship. As soon as it was in place, the hose stiffened as thousands of gallons of seed water pumped into the ship.
A blast happened from behind them. It was the water transfer station, exploding. Zane reacted in time to jump between Serena and the blast, but it knocked them both to the ground. The hose went lax next to them and water spurted back out of the ship.
“No!” Zane screamed as he scrambled to his feet, but Dragon, who hadn’t been knocked down by the blast, grabbed the hose and bent it to ebb the flow.
Zane rushed to the ship’s hull and shut down the process before removing the damaged equipment.
More explosions erupted. Zane grabbed Serena’s hand and hauled her toward the ship’s entrance. The stairs were lowered and he dragged the minister’s tipsy daughter up the steps with Dragon close behind.