Serialized Science Fiction.

Blast from the Past
Tom Haynes

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Drek, drek, drek, that white light was going to draw all of the Paladin forces for miles. He followed my glance and smiled. He looked at me once more and transferred some of the white light to me; I could feel my mana levels rise back to normal. The Kid spoke, "Garbo, whatever he wants, give it to him. He is the only chance we have against them." I knew I hadn't been ensorcelled by the warrior, which gave me confidence that it was my chummer doing the talking.

Bit Brain had finally locked on the Paladin tactical frequencies and the pattern used to hop channels. He started rebroadcasting the Elven command frequencies: little brother had spotted me. The bounty for my capture was very enticing and the threat against any that harmed me was enough to curdle my soul. "Very well, I will so swear." I told the warrior. I could see the dragon starting a dive. I said the oath; based on the version my aunt taught me and not the one my father tried to extract from me when he announced my betrothal.

The dragon was close; I could feel a strong draft from its wings. The heat from its breath also enveloped me; it was about to blast us. "My battle name is C'gull." again he grinned. I swore the dragon blanched at the name. The warrior spun about and his blade carved through the dragon's skull like it was butter. I have seen 50 caliber bullets bounce of dragon scale. The best weapon against one is either a rocket or depleted uranium round. That sword just clove through the scale like it was melon rind.

As he sheathed both sword and wand, he started that chanting again. He gathered some of the white light in his empty hands and molded it into a ball. All the while, bullets were dancing around him. None of them seemed to come close to him. The rest of us were hugging the ground for what it was worth. I actually saw a bullet deflect away from him and hamstring the Sarge.

I rose up when I saw that grin return; someone or something was in for big trouble. He lobbed that white ball of energy straight at the APC. The rigger controlling it went hog wild trying to juke away from it. It didn't matter, the ball curved after it and caught it head on. The explosion threw me back onto the ground.

In the lull after the blast washed over me, I could hear the baying of the hellhounds. I don't know if it was the death of the dragon or the death of the APC that caused the modern day dogs of war to be loosed. In a way, it brought a grin to my face. Once the hounds tasted blood, little brother would not be able to keep them from my throat. One way or another, I would not be going back to my father tonight.

A fresh wave of Paladins attacked us from the flank. I laid down suppressive fire and called out to Bit Brain, "We've got a chance of escaping with our lives, so either get Tenney here on the double or bring that Mark VII back." He started to comply and then bent over almost double, retching up his last meal. "Gas masks!" I yelled and then felt like a dolt. We hadn't been able to restock on all our supplies. We had cut the corner on the masks.

C'gull turned to face the flanking Paladins and began to chant. I could not make out much of what he said, once again he spoke in that strange dialect, but I did hear him call out to Garlen and I heard a reference to the ancient Wyrm Wood. The roses, which up to now had been unassuming, started to quiver and all of a sudden the bushes started thriving into a mad pattern. The individual branches started to flail and wrap themselves about the nearest Elf extremity. Their blood started to weep from the sting of the thorns. I don't know why, but the sight sickened me deep into my core. I saw it also repulsed my fellow elves.

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