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"All In a Day's Work," Part Three of Three

All In a Day's Work
by Jamie Lawson and Leslie McBride
Part Three: "The Anla'shok Way"

Ayeshalan was halfway back to the Furuum'tla mines when her flight computer announced, "Contact on intercept trajectory, distance forty kilometers and closing."

"Show me," Ayeshalan said, her eye flickering up to the corner of the cockpit screen where the scope display resided. She was rewarded with a view of another Hurr patrol cruiser, almost identical to the one Storm Three had destroyed on the ground.

She checked her other scopes.  The Eshnat was at the peak of its suborbital trajectory, just skirting the edge of Abbai 4's upper atmosphere.  The cruiser was slightly further out but descending.  These Hurr ships should be atmosphere capable, but just barely, she recalled from training.  "About as manuverable as a rock once you've thrown it," her instructor had said.

She could simply dive lower, outflank and outrun it, she thought. But that wasn't the way.  Not her way, not the warrior's way -- and not the Anla'shok way.

Her comm abruptly came to life.  "Ranger shuttle, back off or we will destroy you."  It was the raiders' cruiser. "This will be your only warning."

"Negative," she replied, her eye flashing.  "It is you who must back off or be destroyed.  We live for the One.  We die for the One."

"Contact on collision course and accelerating," the computer said.

"Power up weapons systems," Ayeshalan answered.

The passage skirting the upper edge of the gallery had a heavy rail running along its outer edge.  Morgan moved over to it, as Lazaret crept past, keeping low to stay out of the view of the raiders and their prisoners below.

Crouching down, Morgan took a look across the room.  The gallery, mainly used as a switching station for ore carts, had been converted to a makeshift hospital for the miners wounded in the siege.  Twenty Abbai lay on the floor, as four raiders paced in between them. No one was looking up.  

Lazaret reached the end of the passage, and looked back toward Morgan, waiting for a signal.

Morgan waved Eddie up, then secured the rope. She watched the guards a moment longer, then motioned to Lazaret.

The Markab ran about halfway down the stairs, letting his extended pike clatter against the rail, then dropped back to a crouch.  "Drop your weapons and we'll all come out of this alive," he called.

Morgan held the rope with one hand, drawing her PPG and holding it ready with the other, watching the guards.  They reacted almost at once, turning toward Lazaret and sending a barrage of PPG fire toward the stairway.  It all passed over the Markab's head as he slid, prone, toward the gallery floor.

Morgan tapped Eddie on the shoulder, then jumped up and over the rail, rappeling down the gallery wall, face first.  She touched down lightly, then made another leap to land in front of a startled Drazi.  "Hello," she grinned at him, then smashed her PPG butt into the side of his head.

With a banshee cry, Eddie followed, dropping off the rope and landing in a fighting crouch, pike in both outstreched hands.  The nearest raider, frozen in place by the sudden appearance of three Rangers, had his feet swiftly knocked out from under him.

Lazaret reached the bottom of the stairs, rolled, and came to his feet just in time to engage in a hand-to-hand with another Drazi raider carrying a long, ugly knife.  Several thrusts and parries were exchanged before a solid blow to the raider's head sent him senseless to the ground.

Morgan turned, looking for the last.  She held her PPG ready and extended her pike in the other hand, just to be prepared.

The raider, a human in flying gear that had seen many better days, met her gaze for only a moment before dropping both his stare and his PPG rifle.  "That's it for me," he said, raising his hands.

She bared her teeth at him. "Smart." 

Eddie and Lazaret quickly moved in to tie him up, along with the three unconscious raiders.  Before they were finished, the cries of gratitude from the Abbai had become almost deafening as they echoed and re-echoed across the gallery.

Morgan seemed embarassed by the thanks. She covered it quickly by organizing the able-bodied miners.  Before long, the wounded were carried out, and the raiders bundled into a processing building to await the Abbai police. 

The Eshnat was waiting for them, its hull marred with several scorch marks, but otherwise intact.  Ayeshalan came up to Morgan and Eddie as the Abbai began loading wounded miners onto the shuttle.  "I found their reinforcements and dealt with them," she said.  "They will not be coming back here."

Eddie grinned at Morgan.  "Damn good day's work, if I do say so," he said.

"You did," Morgan joked, stretching. "But *ie*. I need to get out more."

"You're welcome on Storm Squadron anytime," he said.

The End

"Just beam my coordinates into my favorite chair
and 1000 years from now I'll still be sitting there."
--The Austin Lounge Lizards, "Grandpa's Hologram"
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