Retribution: Part Three
By how fast her tail was twitching and the shivers in her
shoulders it was easy to judge Nina's agitation. The red Kyrii rubbed his forehead,
his helmet dangling from his other hand in careless abandon. Nina's was on the
floor by her feet, her hands balled into fists and a blaster slung across her
back. Nearby was a green Buzz, arms folded and head bowed, eyes closed. He was
probably thinking on the battle that had gone so wrong and the loss of two of
"Nina, I can't approve this," he said wearily,
"We were outnumbered and there's no way to tell if Sloth's fighters are still
there. Wait for reconnaissance and then we'll let our commander launch a rescue
"No! He's out there and we can't afford to wait!"
The captain sighed and looked away from her,
finding himself completely unable to meet her fierce and desperate gaze.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, "I truly am. I know
how close you and Danner were and I actually resisted having the two of you
on the same team. But in the end I relented and now I'm thinking that was a
mistake. You can't go after him Nina. You saw what happened back there - there
were too many of them. And… I hate to say it, but he may not even be alive.
They had a missile on him and if that thing hit he wouldn't have stood a chance.
That's just how it is."
"He's a good pilot," she replied, her voice
carrying a note of desperation. "He wouldn't have let it hit. They shot him
down, that's all, and he's alive, I just know it. I've got to go after him."
"Nina, please, don't make this any more difficult
than it already is."
He glanced up at her and saw fierce pride shining
beneath her tears.
"I'm going. I shouldn't have asked you in the
first place, that was my mistake. So now I'm just going to tell you."
She brushed past him and he watched in disbelief
as she made her way back to the hanger where her ship was being refueled and
The Kyrii huffed in exasperation and turned
to the Buzz.
"Terry, help me out here," he said.
"We lost Rya," Terry replied, lifting his chin
off his chest. "We're not loosing Danner."
"Sorry captain, I ain't helping you here. I'm
And the Buzz followed the Wocky into the hanger
as the Kyrii watched in utter amazement.
"Ah heck," he finally muttered as the alarms
sounded for evacuation of the bay as the ships readied for launch, "It'd be
pointless to write them up for insubordination."
And he shrugged and turned his back as the two
ships were spat out into open space on an impromptu rescue mission.
Danner woke slowly, his head swimming with disorientation
and pain. His mouth was horribly dry, parched to the point where it burned.
His whiskers felt strange and he realized that a good portion of them had been
seared off by the heat, leaving only small stubs close to his muzzle. Ash clogged
his nostrils and he stifled the urge to sneeze. Slowly, he cracked his eyes
open, feeling each nerve in his body register some kind of complaint with his
brain. He'd taken a battering, there was no doubt about that. With slow and
careful movements he moved his head, flexing his arms and shoulders to ascertain
that there was no serious damage. So far just the usual bumps and bruises from
being thrown about so much. Then his gaze slid down to where something had landed
on him. A groan escaped his lips and his head fell back to the dirt, breathing
slowly as it sunk in that he was quite firmly trapped. Part of the ship itself,
a hunk of metal sheeting, had crashed into him and was now resting on his legs.
He tried to move them a bit and found himself lacking the strength to buy himself
even that much leeway. The piece was simply too heavy. It was probably a miracle
that it hadn't crushed him.
He twisted his body to get a look behind him.
Just out of reach was his rifle blaster, up against the wall of the canyon,
half-buried in debris. With a sigh the Kougra fiddled with the strap of his
helmet, finally unlatching it and letting it drop to the ground. There was nothing
he could do. Quite simply, he was helpless and alone in hostile territory.
"Oh Nina," he whispered, "I haven't left you
There were voices, a dull conversation that
drifted in his direction. He tensed, his heart quickening in anxiety. Two pets,
neither voice recognizable. A look at the gun again asserted that it was still
out of reach.
"Over there!" one cried and Danner let his head
drop back to the ground, ceasing his struggles to get free.
"Well, whadya know."
Someone leaned on the piece of metal that pinned
him and Danner's eyes flew open with a cry of pain, his hands pushing at the
ground to get him away from the source of it. A spotted Gelert's eyes gazed
down at him, his ears hanging out from under his helmet. Sloth's emblem was
emblazoned on his suit.
"Hey, I think he's trapped," a red Lupe commented,
looking from the piece of metal back to the Kougra who had his fist clenched
in helpless rage.
"Yeah. Isn't that a shame."
And the Gelert put more weight on the debris
of his ship and Danner bit off another cry of pain.
"Cut it out," the Lupe snapped, "Geez. Obey
orders for once in your life."
"Fine, whatever. What's wrong with a bit of
The Gelert let off and Danner let out a pent
up breath, his eyes watering from relief.
"Can you budge it?"
"No, too heavy. Help me."
The two pets put their shoulders to the piece
and Danner dug his paws into the ground, pulling away as his captors pried it
up from the ground. He could move his legs. With a last gasp of effort he pulled
himself free and the two let it fall back to the ground. Danner didn't waste
time, scrambling to his knees and lunging for the gun. A foot slammed into his
back and pinned him to the ground, his fingers inches from the barrel of his
rifle, and the cold metal of a blaster was planted on the back of his skull.
"Heh. Nice try fuzzy. Now why don't you stand
up, nice and slow, okay?"
Seething, the Kougra obeyed, keeping his hands
by his side and carefully away from the weapon.
"Good, now hands behind your head. Com'n now."
The pet moved away, staying just behind him
and Danner slowly put his hands up, locking them together just behind his ears.
A flash of movement caught the corner of his peripheral vision and he resisted
the urge to turn towards it. The two were concentrating on him, surely they
hadn't seen it. The flash came again and this time he was able to make out a
distinct shape. Two ships, silver. Sloth's ships were mostly red.
"Right, back away now."
Danner took two steps back and the Gelert quickly
stepped forwards to retrieve the blaster, dusting it off and inspecting the
"Alright, let's move fuzzy. There's a ship waiting
to transport you to Dr. Sloth or whoever's gonna handle interrogation."
The Lupe poked him in the back with his blaster
and Danner restrained the urge to lash out in immediate response. There was
a strange twisting at his stomach, a amalgam of hatred, fear, and helplessness
seething in his soul.
"Actually," he whispered, "the likes of you
can't bring me down. Not yet."
The two paused in confusion, wondering what
kind of a threat this captive was making. Then the two ships screamed over their
heads and both pets instinctively ducked at the roar. Danner dropped his hands
and spun, sweeping his leg in an arc to catch the Lupe's ankles and send him
to the ground. He snatched up the pet's blaster and charged the Gelert just
as an explosion resounded through the canyon, further staggering the pet off
balance. With a crack, metal met bone and the Gelert toppled, unconscious. Danner
turned and gave a sharp kick to the Lupe as well, knocking him out and leaving
him in a heap near his partner.
"Call me fuzzy, willya," he muttered in disgust
and dropped the blaster in favor of reclaiming his own weapon.
Surely that was Nina and another of his wing-mates
that had flown over. If there was a transport, it probably was unguarded, and
surely that explosion was them blowing it up. Surely. Only one way to find out.
Danner stooped and reclaimed his helmet from
the ground, slapping it back on his head and flicking on the comm. piece near
"Nina? Can you read me?"
"Copy that," she replied and Danner laughed
outloud from sheer relief, "I can't get down to where you're at, the canyon
is much too narrow. You alright?"
"A bit bruised but I'll live. My ship is in
"As long as you're alive I'm happy. Head north
along the canyon, we'll be waiting for you. Hurry, I don't know if they managed
to get out a distress signal before we blew the ship up."
He switched off the comm. and glanced up at
the stars. The Acara Archer was to his left which meant that north was before
him, in the direction of his shattered ship. On the moon, the constellations
changed wildly, but he knew them well enough to be able to judge time and location
by their light. It was all those years of stargazing.
The Kougra broke into a jog, jumping over the
occasional broken rock and hunk of metal from his ship. He slowed as he reached
the actual crash site. There was a blackened crater, a couple twisted pieces
of metal, and nothing more. Cold ice wormed its way into his stomach and he
shuddered, feeling the fur on the ridge of his spine rise. He was very lucky
to be alive indeed. Then, without another backwards glance, started off through
the ravine for where Nina was waiting for him.
They had landed their ships, a Buzz he quickly
recognized as Terry standing on the wing of one, a blue Wocky pacing before
the other. He hailed her and she froze, then burst into a sprint and didn't
slow her pace until they tumbled together, knocking them both the ground in
a ferocious hug that was more like a choke-hold.
"I was so worried," she whispered.
"I know," he murmured in response, gently shoving
her off and getting to his feet. "I know you were."
He lifted her to her feet and hand in hand,
they walked back towards the ships.
"I asked you not to leave me," she said suddenly,
as Terry slipped into the cockpit of his own. "Will you promise me that you
The Kougra sighed and bowed his head, trying
to hide his face from her earnest and searching eyes.
"I told you that the choice may not be mine.
But I promise you that I will try to the very best of my ability."
She nodded and leapt up into the cockpit of
her own ship, only to slip over the edge of the seat into the miniscule storage
space behind it. Only the tip of her furry tail was visible for a moment and
Danner cautiously climbed up onto the hull, gazing in to see her bright eyes
"Surprised?" the Wocky asked. "I can indeed
fit back here. Better me than you, since you simply look bad - I can't imagine
how you feel."
"I hurt," he admitted, climbing into the pilot's
seat and strapping himself in, flipping the switch to close and seal the canopy,
"but I'll live."
"Hey Danner," Nina whispered and the Kougra
resisted the urge to shudder as her ear flicked the back of his neck, "do you
realize that this is the first time I've ever let you pilot something of mine?"
"Yeah. You're right - this is."
It was a strange thought for both of them. They
didn't say anything more as the two ships blasted off into the sky and on their
To be continued...