Friday, August 9, 2013

Gauntlet - Episode 18.



Episode 18 – Freeze You Fire Bombing Freak

Deputy Rook rose from his desk and discovered his thoughts rushing like a river. The words Marshall had spoke to him still crashed against his conscience reminding him as they did of how right he had been. His hands had never truly been tied, not literally in any case. Instead he had only ever allowed himself to blindly follow in the Sheriff’s footsteps, only meekly obey orders.

Well, he decided, it was high time that those days were over. Arbiter could fall down a mine shaft for all he cared; he was done turning a blind eye to his duty as the town’s deputy. Rook reached over to the wall a lifted an old black plastic handle that hung from a u-shaped piece of metal and pressed it to his ear. It might not have been as fancy as any of the more modern commlinks in use, but it still worked well enough to place a call.

The auto-dialer never had worked on the thing, so Rook manually punched in the number for the General Good and waited. “He isn’t here, Rook,” Grandma Grael answered immediately. Stunned by her statement, and the implication that she expected his call, Rook stumbled for a response. “Some is holed up at Sundown Sanctuary and making threats, he headed that way to try and see if he might defuse the situation but I think sparks will fly either way. You best get over there and quit hiding under Pierce’s coat-tail.”

Unable to argue, Rook merely replied with a rushed ‘ye ma’am,’ and closed the call. “How did she,” he began to ask himself before deciding it was best to focus on more important things. With a conscious effort he reached inside and quieted his mind, calling up a slumbering reserve of power he rarely used. It was the birthright of his race, a harmonious bond between the mind and the soul that fed them, nourished them. And while he had never refined the gifts he had been taught as a child, he still found them waiting for him.

As he touched on the small measure of psionic power he concentrated on his immediate need for haste and shaped it with his desire. It was a simple enough task for him, but he was long out of practice. He had only ever been taught how to shape the power for little things; to replenish him like a night’s rest might, to sustain him for a period without food or water or to even lessen pain to a degree. Quickening his step wasn’t all too difficult but as he marked his feet feeling lighter he reminded himself that it might be prudent to practice more often.

Rook raced out the door as swiftly as his sprinting feet could carry him and rushed his way towards Sundown Sanctuary. Luckily it wasn’t an overly long run as he covered the handful of streets between quickly. Even with calling on his wellspring of willpower, Rook found his stamina almost spent as he slowed and reminded himself to slow his breathing. He was definitely going to have to spend a little more time on staying in shape.

Slowly he drew his sidearm and approached the doorway to investigate the situation. The Mayor’s assistant stood at one end of the lobby holding a small device of some kind, while Marshall was a few steps away wielding a pair of blades. Packages placed about the room and connected by series of wires instantly alarmed the dutiful deputy.

“Nobody move!” Rook commanded as he trained his gun between the two. “Aren’t you supposed to tell us to freeze or something,” Marshall quipped back. But then the joke gave him an idea. “That’s it,” he thought to himself suddenly and grabbed a grenade from his pack.

“Freeze you fire bombing freak,” Marshall roared as he seized on the distraction provided by Deputy Rook’s appearance. He triggered the device with a quick press of his thumb and hurled it at the lethal lady. With her attention turned towards Rook, Boom-Boom didn’t have time to react as the grenade landed at her feet. It exploded in a cascade of compressed liquid nitrogen turning the very air about her into a mist of blue-white. In a matter of seconds a prison of ice had formed to cover her, coating her in a cold that refused to allow her to move.

“Would you look at that? She listened actually listened to me,” Marshall remarked as he regarded his handiwork. “I do suppose it is for the best that I removed that secondary charge from the grenade though. Otherwise we’d be looking at a shattered secretary.” Rook kept his gun aimed at the immobile assistant as he approached for answers.

“What do you mean,” he asked curiously. “Well,” Marshall explained as he gestured towards the ice-slick ground. “Those grenades were originally intended to clear a room – they quick freeze like that but a secondary charge that makes them nasty. The secondary is what sends a swarm of metallic balls in every direction to shatter everything before it can thaw. Trust me; you don’t ever want to see what that kind of thing can do to somebody.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Rook admitted, a slight shudder visible. “I would rather not have seen that, thanks. So what do we do now, we still have all these bombs in place and she isn’t going to stay frozen forever I’d wager. You have a plan to handle this?”

“Nope,” Marshall exclaimed before falling silent for a minute. When finally he spoke once more it was in the measured and level tones of someone trying to restrain others from panicking. “Just kind of making this up as I go, but don’t worry; we have the valiant Deputy of Redemption here to help handle this hazardous situation. I am sure as the only official representative acting on behalf of this fair town he has everything well in control. And since I am just a simple stranger in these parts I will just defer to his professional opinion on the matter.

Well – Deputy Rook; what is your assessment of this emergency?” Rook had been expecting some kind of brilliant solution or insight from this gun slinging hero. Instead, what he got was some witty banter and the passed reins of responsibility. “Cute, real cute Mr. Lawson,” Rook pointed out sarcastically.

“Please tell me you at least have some idea as to how to defuse a bomb or how much time we have before little miss demolition here is going to find her fingers unfrozen enough to blast us all to oblivion.” As Rook glanced around him started to take note of explosives placed carefully around doors and windows – clearly she had set traps that they might set off if they tried to gain access to the upper levels where the residents lived.

“We are going to have to do something, Mister, and since you elected to play at hero then you are going to have to fill those shoes.” Marshall couldn’t resist a little grin despite himself as he listened to the Deputy who only a short time before seemed so defeated and unsure of himself. Now he seemed downright aflame with conviction and dedicated to his duty.

“Just trying to ease the tension,” Marshall said. “Not enough time to sort out how she’s wired this whole mess to blow, but we should have enough time before she starts to melt too much to clear a main door at least. The way I figure it, we’ll be lucky to disarm any more than that and still manage to get anyone out safely.”

“And you have done this before, right,” Rook hesitantly asked as Marshall moved towards the biggest set of doors. “Yeah, sure,” he answered back over his shoulder confidently. “I know the basics; it isn’t the sort of thing you easily forget.” Rook prayed this was just another one of his attempts at being funny. Otherwise, they were in real trouble.