Wednesday, June 3, 2015

28: Kerrie Cats and Jumble Rats (Part II)

Entry 028.5: In which Felix runs. A lot.

                Cor had underestimated just how much man power Kla had at her disposal. There were security teams of two or three on every level a third of the way down the canyon. The fact that they were finally found was...inevitable.
                Felix half ducked, hand involuntarily covering his head as another high powered stun blast burned through the air near his head, making his ear hot. The bolt hit one of the clinging cliff trees and it exploded in a shower of fiery foliage.
                He ran through the fading embers searching for a way to get to Cor. They'd found another rock ladder to the next level, but before Felix could follow Cor down the security team had appeared, stun guns charged and firing.
                There was a wooden groan as the fire ate through the branch and sent it crashing to the ground. Felix felt tiny embers land on the back of his legs, searing holes through the material of his pants. But they were worth it; the burning tree limb had cut him off the D&S men.
                They fired a few more bright orange bolts, but they soared harmlessly past Felix's body, blackening bushes or soaking into the stone walls.
                Felix slowed to a jog, listening hard for where Cor might be beneath him, but the sounds of fighting echoed through the canyon air, making it impossible for him to tell its source.
                Felix leaned over the edge as far as he could without falling. The shelf below was larger than the one he was on. Its tan, sandy surface was the only thing he could see besides empty air.
                "Cor!" Felix shouted. "You still down there?"
                A growl and the sound of metal-clad knuckles meeting flesh met his ears. "Yeah!" Cor called back in the small reprieve that bought him.
                Felix looked from side to side but didn't see an easier way down than jumping.
                "Break my dang neck," he muttered before shouting down again. "You see a way down there?"
                Cor's voice was strained when he answered. The sounds of good, old fashioned brawling were getting louder. "Kid, Ahm busy!"
                "Aren't you done with him yet?" Felix harassed him as he shucked his pack and dropped it over the edge. With any luck he'd land on it. It had to be softer than the ground.
                "Shaddup!" Cor croaked and then with a punch that Felix heard ten feet above, sent his opponent reeling back towards the edge into Felix's line of sight.
                Taking his chance, Felix slid his legs over the edge and jumped over the edge, landing on the man in a messy blow that had them both flat on the ground in a heap.
                Felix groaned, holding his head as he rolled sideways and ran into his pack. He needn't have worried. The security man was out cold.
                "Then who's still shooting?"
                He unburied his nose from the dust to see the world had gone crooked. Cor was standing at an angle in the lower right of his vision. He was facing the men that had been chasing Felix. They were still on the level above, standing near the edge to rain down orange bolts on Cor's raised arms.
                The bolts hit his palms like they were drawn by magnets. Felix was already scrambling forward to drag Cor's unconscious body out of harm's way. Non-lethal or not, enough volts would stop even a Hybridian's heart.
                But Cor didn't fall. Instead he held his arms out straight towards his attackers and sent a near-blinding blast of electricity back at them. It hit the foremost man dead center in the chest and quickly spread to the other two. They fell in force, one going limply over the side of the edge to land on his side nearby.
                Smoke was coming off of Cor's vambraces and Felix saw his breathing was heavier than usual.
                "Haven't done that in a while," the older man muttered as he waved the smoke off one arm.
                Felix nodded dumbly, not sure what else to do.
                A noise made him turn his head. The red and blacks were still swarming nearby. "How many more shocks do you have in you?"
                Cor rubbed at one soot blackened wrist. "Not enough to take 'em all on at once an' that sounds like who's comin' this way. C'mon," he jerked his head at the edge where Felix could just barely see the lip of the cliff below them, "we're ledge hoppin' from here on out. Fastest way down. 'Sides," he grinned at the bug-eyed look on Felix's face, "you already proved it could be done."
                Felix muttered under his breath, cursing his own desperate ingenuity.

* * *

                The cliffs grew closer and closer together like spreading fans the closer they got to the bottom. Felix had just enough brain space to wonder if perhaps the gorge had been carved from the top down by the vertical streams dripping down before stun bolts started striking at their heels.
                "So much fer findin' someplace to hide afore they got here!" Cor shouted over the noise as he flung jagged bolts of energy at the security men.
                Felix leapt down another two levels and skidded under the raised edge of one of the fans. He didn't have time to catch his breath before Cor leapt down next to him.
                "What do we do now?" Felix shouted and then ducked his head as chips of sandy rock exploded three inches from his head. He felt something wet running down his cheek and realized one of the chips had left a cut just under his right eye.
                Cor raised himself high enough to shoot two blasts in the general direction of the stun bolts. He grinned, showing teeth, as a man screamed. But Felix could tell his static field was shrinking with each shot he took.
                He looked around, searching for anything they could use to save themselves, but there was nothing. Less than nothing. All he could see were sticks and sand.
                He glared at Cor. "I told you down was a bad idea!" he shouted over the sounds of battle.
                Cor's grin was still wolfish and Felix remembered why he was glad Cor was on his side. "We cut through the bucketheads a'course! What else we got ta do?"
                "Are you crazy?" Felix screamed. "There are two of us and at least a dozen of them!"
                "That just makes it a challenge!"
                Felix couldn't tell if Cor just wanted to go out with a bang or if he was being serious. "You're zap happy. Gimme those things before you kill yourself!"
                He reached toward the nearest brace to yank it off and hopefully save Cor from himself, but all he got were smoking fingers and a serious jolt to his nervous system.
                "Whatcha think yer doin'?" Cor demanded as Felix clamped his teeth shut and tried not to howl. "You seen the output I'm givin' off. You gone sun-stupid or what?"
                Clutching his still spasming fingers under his armpits, Felix glared at Cor. "This is getting us nowhere!" he hissed, pain obvious.
                "Buddy, that's the first smart thing I've heard you say."
                Cor and Felix froze and then, slowly, looked up.
                Right into a trio of matching stun gun muzzles.
                The D&S men were scratched, bruised, and one of them still had static crawling through his dark hair. All had matching murderous glares that had Felix going very, very still. Cor on the other hand...
                "Bout time ya caught up with us, ya bootlickers," Cor goaded them. He looked unstable, even to Felix. "What? We gotta stand still to match yer pace? Will that make it fair fer ya?"
                The murder-y look was getting stronger... "Cor," Felix hissed, "shut up."
                The man on the end leveled his gun at Cor and charged it until the crackle of electricity was obvious to everyone. "Want I should handle it Chief?"
                "Nah," the one in the middle muttered and for the first time, Felix saw he had two gold and black pins on his shirt unlike the others, one under each shoulder. Before Cor could so much as blink, the chief security officer stepped forward and brought down the butt of his gun on Cor's temple with a definite crack.
                Cor slumped over without a sound, oily blood trickling from a cut near his hairline.
                "Cor!" Felix couldn't stop the startled cry, even knowing the Hybridian couldn't hear him now. Half crazed by everything that had happened to him, Felix flung himself at the chief's legs, hoping to at least knock the behemoth over. "You killed him!"
                Like every  bully Felix had ever met (and it was a fairly lengthy list) the chief held out his arm, caught Felix's forehead in the palm of his large hand, and shoved him back on his posterior without any visible effort.
                "He's not dead, you idiot," the man told him. "Look, you can see him breathe."
                He was right, Felix saw. Cor's chest still moved. Barely, but movement all the same.
                His heart slowed. Well at least Cor wasn't dead yet, although with the way he'd been acting a minute ago, Felix wondered how long that would last. "What-” he was having a hard time breathing himself in this blasted heat, "-are you going to do with us?"
                The officer snorted, idly swinging his muzzle from Cor to Felix and back again. "Well," he drawled, fixing his gun on Felix and sighting down the barrel, "as much as I'd like to blast you both and dump you here for the sand darts-"
                Felix's throat bobbed nervously.
                "-the Director wants you in one piece." He chuckled darkly. "Though given her tastes and the way I saw her eyeing your bony backside, I'll be scraping you off the floor one way or the other."
                Felix refused to cringe in front of the men that had chased them mercilessly for days and beaten his friend. He tried to stare them down, but that only made them laugh. Felix didn't join in. He could see more beings in red shirts coming out of the brush higher up.
                The chief turned, holstering his gun and slapping the man next to him on the shoulder. "Bring them. The Director's waiting down below. The sooner we get there, the sooner I get out of this sand trap."

* * *

                They were only fifty yards from the bottom of the canyon and there, pacing in front of a boxy drop vehicle just large enough for all of them to stand in, Kla waited for them in a sandy yellow sleeveless jumpsuit. She looked...agitated. More so than Felix had ever seen before.
                He wasn't sure if that was a good thing.
                When they got closer, she jerked her chin at Cor strapped to the mobile hover gurney someone had brought. "What happened to him?"
                "He resisted," the chief told her with a shrug. "Levi can testify to the fact." He pointed at a man being supported by two of his comrades. He had flash burns on the side of his face that disappeared down into his collar.
                Kla didn't seem to care. "Put him in the transport," she ordered with a dismissive wave of her hand. No one could tell if she meant Levi or Cor.
                The D&S men helped Levi up the ramp, leaving Cor outside to roast in the blinding sun.
                Felix they shoved to his knees in the dirt not far away. He was so inundated by adrenaline that when he looked up and saw Kla standing over him, he didn't feel anything except perhaps a doomed sense of resignation.
                "Hello Kla," Felix greeted her with weary sarcasm.
                She only smiled. "Hi Felix," she returned. "I'm sorry it took so long to find you, but you were unfortunate to be lost in a very large canyon. I hope you're not too angry with me."
                "For losing me? Not in the least."
                Kla's mock pout shifted to a wicked grin. "Glad to see the sun hasn't dulled your wit." She reached out and ran a finger down his cheek. The security chief standing right behind him didn't leave him enough room to lean away from her touch.
                She frowned at her fingertip and then wiped it disdainfully on the breezy leg of her suit. "You are filthy," she observed. "I'll have to give you a good scrub when we return."
                Felix rolled his eyes and then jerked his chin at the nearest guard. "Hey you, do me a favor. Crank that thing up to the setting marked 'brain scrambler' and give me a jolt, would you?"
                The man made no move to do so.
                "Oh come on," Felix prodded, "are you seriously saying you don't want to shoot me? I'm the reason you're out here, remember?"
                The only reaction he got was Kla's laughter. "Oh my funny little Felix-” she started to say.
                Something behind him made her stop. "What is it Chirr-ka?"
                Surreptitiously, Felix twisted himself around to see who she was talking to. It was the avian man from earlier, his blue feathers shining silver in the bright light. His head was unnaturally still as he watched something the rest of them couldn't see.
                "Something moves, my lady," he told Kla in a whistling voice.
                Felix went very still. He had to force himself to look at Kla's expensive wedges, afraid he would give something away. "No sense getting overexcited," he tried to tell himself. "It could just be a cliff hopper."
                "What kind of something?" Kla wanted to know. She approached Chirr-Ka with measured steps.
                Before he could answer, a blue-gray shadow came and barreled into Felix with extreme force, knocking him sideways just as what looked like a miniature sun slammed through the transport like tissue paper.

< Entry 28                                                                                                                                                Entry 29 >

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