1.10 Laser Boy: Forty Men Dressed In Hell
Vince was climbing down and to the left trying to reach the cave. The siren had caused him to bypass his normal routes in favor of a more dangerous and steep way. He grabbed a rusty chunk of wall and gripped it tightly. He pushed off with his left foot and let his body fall… fall… fall… then he pushed with his other hand and landed in a summersault on the floor of his kras’s cave. He shook off the vertigo and looked around. Skum Bunny was looping lengths of cord and tying them in a meticulous fashion on his person. Syrge was hustling Scroot into a hidden room with a hidden passage at its end. Black Elvis and Lisa were not around.
Vince took a stuttering lead and jumped up onto the concave rim that surrounded the mouth of the cave. He looked down at the gravity ring. A solid and noisy line of mercenaries walked slowly across the livable area of the Slum Sphere snatching up anyone too slow to run from them and putting them in cages that floated on magnetic fields, pulled by large high G slaves. Mostly it was children and the elderly that were caught. Some sick and incapacitated were in the mix too. The hunters all held torches both electric and wood-burning.
Laser Boy heard an almost silent whimper of frustration and he turned and bolted for the far corner of the ledge. She had a hard time getting to the hideout. He lay on the lip of the curved surface and reached out his hand until he felt the hand he was looking for. He waited for her to get a firm grip, then smoothly pulled Zombie Lisa up onto the ledge. She landed on her feet but fell into his arms, then quickly pulled herself away and started brushing herself off.
Vince grabbed her shoulders and looked into her face.
“All right?!” he asked.
“Fuck yeah… Get offa me…” she spat.
In spite of all the commotion, Vince paused and looked askance at Zombie Lisa.
She pulled away from him and cut her eyes at him sideways.
“What? You want a fuckin’ medal? Where’s Scroot?”
Vince shook his head, “Syrge got him out. Come on!”
Laser Boy grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her with him as he sprinted for the back of the cave. They stopped at the edge of the shanties and turned. The looked up at the blackwall ceiling of the Slum Sphere. Vince was so caught up that he didn’t realize he was holding Lisa’s hand. Lisa realized it, but all it did was make her sad. The blackwall was void of current events. There were many advertisements for the military, and some menial labor want ads. There was no mention of a slaver raid in the Slum Sphere. But then, there seldom was.
There were only about forty people rampaging through the Slum Sphere grabbing anyone slow enough to get caught, but they were tricked out in expensive gear that enabled their raid to be profitable. Shoulder mounted speakers threw echoing pulses at the curved walls so you could not tell from which direction the sound was originating, nor could you hear anything else. Each slaver had dozens of attention grenades, which were small spheres that propelled themselves through the air through the carefully calculated release of highly compressed air and emitted dozens of programmable distractions, from simple flashing lights through to the sound of small children being murdered. Nearly all of the slavers were equipped with arm mounted sticky shrink nets with homing signals, body armor, Ladar HUD, and all of the latest and excitingly moist weapons. It was really just forty men, but if you lived in the Slum Sphere, it was a storm of demons dressed in hell.
They had been on the hunt for only eight minutes, and already more than twenty pathetic souls were floating in magnetic cages, the inhabitants whimpering or screaming each per their disposition.
While Vince was trying to get Zombie Lisa into the tunnel for safety, Skum Bunny finished his prep and took a running leap off the edge of the cave shelf. Vince watched him leap and had a moment of jealous admiration. In zero g Vince could fly better than anyone, but once the plint goddess, gravity, became active, he lost 90 per cent of his mojo. Skum Bunny did not like free flight in zero g, he was always with the tethers and cords and cables and anchors. But he was a master of variable g maneuvers.
As Skum disappeared into the smoke, Vince pulled Zombie Lisa with him, groping with his eyes squinted against the distracting lights. He found the bolt hole and got it open. He pushed Zombie Lisa through the hatch and slammed it behind her. He could hear her yelling at him to be careful. He turned and started feeling his way back toward the battle. He kept his eyes closed but pulled his hand away from his face. The bright red glare was gone, so he cracked his eyelids and tentatively looked out. There was a tremendous volume of smoke filling the world, as well as tight beams of multicolored lights splitting through the rolling shadow. It looked like one of the parties they held in the levels where people held parties.
Suddenly, the black walls all over the station lit up with footage from the battle. There were always cameras everywhere. Footage from the slaver raid was being sent to the Media Wheel, but it was not really newsworthy. Now though, with Black Elvis and Skum Bunny mowing them down, it became news.