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Planet of the Rovers

by Scott Oliverson

CHAPTER V

     The smell of burning plastic and metal filled his nostrils. The
pod was dropping through the atmosphere at high speed and begun to flame
like a meteor. His fingers found the retro rockets, but the shockwave
must have blown the wiring, because they were dead. The pod felt like
it was shaking apart either in a tornado or 8.0 earthquake! Ace gritted
his teeth to keep them from rattling out of his head and grabbed the
manual control lever, fighting for control of his ship.

               SPACE ACE
C'mon you BLEEP-BLEEP-BLANKITY-BLANK-BLANK! Don't stall on me now.

     On the viewscreen, the blue-purple haze tore away revealing a
dense blanket of green. But that wasn't going to offer a soft landing
if he didn't do something to slow his descent. Ace pulled back on the
flight stick, lifting the pod's nose slightly and allowing the rushing
air strike more of the surface area like wind passing over the wings of
an airplane during its takeoff roll which lifts the plane off the ground
and into the air. It wouldn't stop the pod, but slow it down.

               SPACE ACE
Come on, come on...<Coaches the pod> catch, you high-tech piece of junk!
 I'm not going to reenact or relive the nightmare of that crashlanding
during the airshow back home long ago that nearly killed me but instead
I survived and became the Terminator.

     Finally, he felt the pod bank - not a lot, but somehow the
downward force shifted forward as the pod caught some air, moving
forward ever so slightly. But every inch he moved forward meant he was
falling a bit slower, thanks to wind resistance. He didn't have time to
see how much he slowed down. In the next instant, the green forest rose
up to meet him. The pod tore through a canopy of trees almost as a hot
knife cutting through butter. Branches striking the craft like giants
pounding on the hull! Then the pod hit something so hard that it nearly
knocked him out cold. But the impact wasn't hard enough to be solid
ground. It had to be...

               SPACE ACE
Whoohooa, yegads! I'm underwater. Gotta escape before I drown in my
own watery tomb.

     Water started pouring in through cracks in the hull. In
seconds, he was sinking beneath the surface of the lagoon. Ace reached
for the hatch release, but it had been melted shut by the heat of entry
through the atmosphere. He pulled at it frantically, furious at himself
because he survived a 25-mile freefall only to drown in a mud puddle.

               SPACE ACE
Great Scott! Where's the genie when I need her help?! If only
Annabelle were here with me right now I would not be in this mess.

     At the last minute he remembered the ejection seat. Ace reached
for the lever and jerked it hard. A muted roar filled his ears and he
was blinded by violent churning bubbles. Still strapped into the seat,
Ace was lifted up and out of the pod like a torpedo or cruise missile.
He tore himself free of the safety restraints and followed the bubbles
upwards. His head broke the surface and he nearly screamed as he sucked
in air.

               SPACE ACE
Aaaaaaaaaaugh! <Charlie Brown's famous cry> Ooooooh, thank god for air.
 At least I'm not dead, yet. <Confused> But where am I? What planet is
this I landed on, where in the universe or galaxy did I wind up in?

     His arms & legs felt like they were made of lead, but he treaded
water long enough to catch sight of the shore - then he forced himself
to swim for it. It could not have been more than 10 feet, but it felt
like 10 miles. Finally, he dragged himself onto the sandy beach and
collapsed into unconsciousness. After awhile he snapped back to
consciousness, eyes popping open and looked around. He did not know how
long he'd been out. It might have been minutes or hours. The hero of
Earth 2015 stood up, wincing.

               SPACE ACE
Ouch, ow! Oh s***...look at myself, <Examines his body> I'm one mass of
cuts & bruises from head to toe, owwww, ohhhh. My head feels like some
insane drummer is pounding away inside my brain. <Holds head in both
hands, shuts eyes against pain-wave> I could use an Advil or Aleve right
now for a migrane! <Then the pain-wave dissapates, gone> Aaaaaaaah...I
did not need that headache to cure me. <Again he looks around> How many
tree-covered planets are there in this solar system?

     Did anyone witness his fall through the planet's surface? Would
there be a rescue team? Ace had alot of questions, but no answers. For
now, he could only assume he was on his own. Suddenly a strangled cry
interrupted his thoughts.

               SPACE ACE
Whoohooa, what the h*** was that?! <Caught by suprise> Who screamed?

     He crouched, hearing something thrash its way through the jungle
nearby. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to be a part of
whatever or whoever caused that scream, Ace bolted. Staying low, he
scrambled away from the sounds of approach. But whoever or whatever was
chasing him was much faster. Abandoning escape, Ace snatched his phaser
pistol from its holster on his utility belt, whirled and took careful
aim at the unseen intruder coming his way.

               SPACE ACE
OK, mister whoever you are, show yourself! I don't want to hurt you or
shoot you but I will to defend myself.

     At the same moment a figure burst through the trees. It was
definitely human, but it was like no human Ace had ever seen. The man
wore a blue shirt or sweater, beige or brown pants, sneakers, black
hair, blue eyes and carried a mesh sack made of vines. It was filled
with fruit. Ace guessed he was in his late forties. The human looked
suprised to see him standing there with phaser pistol pointed at him and
stopped, staring at him as if Ace were the strange-looking creature he
ever saw. This was David Sevile (The single parent from the animated
ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS show)

               SPACE ACE
Wh-who are you? Where did you come from, why are you running. Is
someone or something chasing you?

     Just then another human appeared through the bushes. It was a
young woman or girl with yellow hair, blue eyes and dressed in red
t-shirt with white "0" on the front, blue pants & sneakers. This was
Robyn (From the animated TOM & JERRY movie) she stared at Ace in shock
for a second or two before turning to the older man.

               ROBYN
Father, they're coming. Hurry!
               DAVID SEVILE
Run honey, let's go before they catch us!

     She bolted off into the woods with her father behind her. Ace,
still stunned, watched five or six other humans dash past him. They
were all running from something that was chasing them and Ace decided
not to hang around to know what it was. He took off after the humans,
limping on his still-shaking legs.

               SPACE ACE <To himself>
I still have no clue whatsoever what's happening here. Why are these
people running, are they afraid of something evil about to catch them?

     He continued to hear the sounds of cracking branches and
snapping twigs all around him, and at first he assumed it was more
humans following him. But now these sounds were intermingled with the
odd hint of metal, like a tinkling of bells. He glanced to either side
and behind, and caught a glimpse of dark figures moving through the
forest with terrifying speed. Ignoring the pains screaming inside his
body, Ace picked up his speed. He ran fast enough to catch up with the
slowest of the humans moving ahead of him. Just as he caught sight of
the person's backside, an enormous shadow swooped down from the trees
above and smothered that person who gave a strangled scream!

               SPACE ACE
Great Scott! Did I just see something attack that person?

     More cries filled the jungle. Ace saw something hurtle past him
and realized it was a human that had been thrown into the air crying in
terror. Not far off, he saw a frightened young man suddenly pulled into
the underbrush as though the jungle swallowed him. With no more thought
than a frightened animal, Ace kept running.

               SPACE ACE
Keep going, don't stop for nothing. <Warns himself> Who knows what's
behind you or in front of you that's about to ambush without warning.

     A few paces ahead the trees thinned, and Ace caught sight of an
open field. The young man with the fruit bag was there as was the girl.
 Ace sprinted ahead, desperate to escape from whatever evil presence
lived in that jungle. A shadow dropped into his path. Ace froze - and
got his first glimpse of the nightmare creatures that had been chasing
him. It was a dog! Only it couldn't be a dog, because it was wearing
what looked like a body-armor suit of steel gray color with blue padding
from chest to feet clad in armor boots, a utility belt red in color with
yellow "R" symbol on the buckle. And it was standing upright like a
human being! It resembled a husky blue-gray in color with piercing blue
eyes. It glared at him, snarled and bared its teeth in a wickid grin.

               SPACE ACE
Jesus. <Whispers in horror> I'm seeing things, a mutant canine!

     The canosapien stalked him. Ace backed up and tripped over a
stout branch. Scrambling to his feet, he snatched it up and held it
like a jedi lightsaber in defense posture.

               SPACE ACE
Back, stay back! Don't you touch me you...you alien creature!

     The mutant canine stared at him quizzically for a moment, then
its face twisted into an angry smarl. It crouched low in attack posture
and focused its eyes on the intruder before him. As Ace watched, not
knowing what was coming next the canosapien shot twin beams of glowing
energy from its eyes! The branch turned to frozen ice in Ace's hands.

               SPACE ACE
What the? How did you do that! <Looks shocked>

     But instead of answering the canosapien rushed forward, snapping
the ice-branch in two and lifting him clean off his feet over his head
with both arms and then throwing him like a football.

               SPACE ACE <Cries out>
NOOOOOOOOOOOO! <Hits the ground> OOOOOOFFFMPH!

     He thought he would be dead the next moment, but the mutant
canine seemed to have moved onto other targets. The pilot sat up, so
stunned by everything that had happened that he no longer felt suprised
to see more canosapiens - a whole squad or platoon of armored dogs melt
out of the jungle in various breeds, male & female...german shepherds,
dalmatians, dobermans, collies, huskies, afghan hounds, etc. Every one
of the creatures wore the identical uniforms like the one who attacked
Ace earlier...Several of them carried weapons called BOLAS - 3 weighted
balls attached by 3 ropes. They began to spin them around their heads.
 Then they threw them through the trees toward the humans that had
reached the clearing. Each bola found its target with frightening
accuracy, and the humans went down like felled trees. As if on cue,
more canosapiens appeared, hefting a large cargo net hemmed with bells.
 They shook it as they marched forward, frightening the humans.

               SPACE ACE
Whoohooa! Great Scott! <Yells as the net swept over his head> Oh no you
don't, not me!

     Quickly he dived into a nearby ditch, then jumped back to his
feet and took off in the other direction. He passed a man holding a
little girl and watched the man get tripped up and slammed to the
ground. The girl was snatched away and the man himself dissapeared
under a pile of whooping-yelling canines like indians attacking white
settlers.

               SPACE ACE
This can't be happening. I've gone apeshit and I'm seeing things. Or
I'm still trapped inside the pod, I'm drowning and this is a nightmare
hallucination of some kind.

     He saw a young man lifted up into the trees by canosapiens
hiding above him. Then saw the black-haired man with the fruit sack
punched in the solar plexus and then knocked off his feet by a sucker
punch to the face & chin. He crashed hard onto his backside with the
beautiful girl beside him who also fell.

               SPACE ACE
OK, alright, that's it! No more Mr. Nice Guy...I'll teach you stupid
dogs to abuse innocent people like that!

     Another canosapien on horseback crashed through the forest,
dragging 2 helpless humans behind it. Gathering his strengh, Ace rushed
the horse from its blindspot, jumped high into the air and lashed out in
a perfect TORNADO KICK!

               SPACE ACE
Kiiiiiiyaaaaaaaaah! <Screams martial arts cry>

     The sudden blow caught the mutant totally by suprise. It had
not expected to be attacked by another enemy unseen and went flying from
the saddle to land hard upon the ground, stunned. Ace landed squarely
in the saddle and dug his heels into the creature's side.

               SPACE ACE
Hi ho silver, away! <The Lone Ranger's cry>

     But suddenly he was rising higher, right up into the tree
branches. A huge growling face appeared a few inches from his own. Ace
realized that another canosapien, holding onto the branch with its feet,
plucked him out of the saddle using its hands. It growled again at him
then let him go.

               SPACE ACE
Oh Nooooooooo! Not again! <Hits the ground> Aaaaaaargh! <Cries on
impact>

     All the air was punched out of his lungs. He looked up to see
the face of the canine he dropkicked out of its saddle. It glared down
at him, then raised a boot and stomped down on Ace's head! There was a
painful blow, followed by flashing stars then blackness crashed down
upon the Hero Of Earth.

               END OF PART V

              Proceed to Chapter VI