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Planet of the Rovers

by Scott Oliverson

CHAPTER VI

     Exile pushed the helmet back on his head and wiped the damp,
matted fur on his forehead. It was a hot day. 16 years in the army and
he never could get used to the heat. But he was all husky, and a
military canosapien born and bred. No amount of discomfort would make
him break with protocol, so he pulled the helmet back down over his
thick brow and strapped it into place.

               EXILE
Report!

     A younger Rover lifted a small piece of parchment and read down
the final count.

               DYLAN
The final count's not done sir, but we've trapped enough humans to fill
a dozen carts.

     Exile nodded approvingly as he watched his Rovers work. They
were busy trussing up the last of the colonists and tossing them into
cages on the backs of the carts. Exile's sharp eyes caught sight of the
young girl who nearly escaped with her father, the man who'd stolen the
fruit. Exile noted he sported a number of bruises. Even though Exile
was just following orders, he never felt a lack of job satisfaction. He
knew that humans were wild and dangerous animals, and they had to be
kept in their place no matter what it took. Then he spotted the
stranger who had dropkicked one of his soldiers off his horse and dared
shake a branch at Exile himself. The human was half-conscious, his arms
strapped behind his back as he waited to be loaded into a cart. He
trotted over to the cage where the stranger lay. Like all humans, this
one was dressed in strange clothing the husky had never seen
before...white jacket with orange braid & cuffs, blue-green striped
t-shirt beneath, white pants, orange boots. The man's eyes fluttered.
Exile wished he was awake so he could torment it. Well, perhaps he
could shake it awake, he thought. He started to raise his gloved fist,
but at that moment a trumpet sounded.

     Space Ace hovered between wakefulness and sleep. He kept seeing
flashes of light from the electromagnetic storm cloud. But there were
figures scurrying about in the light - gigantic canine figures encased
in body-armor suits. Suddenly, one of the creatures towered before him
like a giant. It opened its mouth, revealing sharp teeth. When it
roared, the sound that burst from its throat was like a loud, angry
trumpet. Ace woke with a start, but the world he woke into was worse
than a nightmare. He was lying facedown in the dirt, his arms tied
painfully behind his back. Other bodies were pressed against him on
either side, and he heard moaning, whimpering. Slowly, he rolled onto
his back and sat up blinking in the sunlight.

               SPACE ACE
Wh-where am I? Is this a dream or is it a nightmare? <Asked himself>

     Around him he could see carts bearing huge cages, and inside the
cages, human beings had been packed like sardines. Canosapiens moved
amoung the cages, checking locks, harnessing horses, and sometimes
rattling the bars to scare the colonists inside. Unsteadily, Ace
climbed back to his feet, swaying because another migrane was coming on
again and he could feel the pain in his head and dizziness threatening
to overwhelm him.

               SPACE ACE
Oh no, here we go again. Another migrane torture.

     As he climbed back up, all the humans around him seem to cower
and look down. At the same time, the canosapiens snapped to attention
like cadets at Boot Camp awaiting the loud shouting-threats by their
drill sergants. Riding through the midst of the scene, his entrance
announced by the sound of trumpets & trombones, was a huge canosapien
wearing a body-armor suit like all the others. He was a golden
retriever half-breed meaning he was part retriever and part street
mutt...He rode on the back of a enormous black stallion, and he glared
down at both colonists and Rovers like a king. Ace was fascinated, this
big canine carried himself like a warlord.

               SPACE ACE
Wow, I wonder who he is? Reminds me of Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein.

     Ace was so intrigued by the canosapien that he didn't realize he
was the only stranger staring right at the creature. The Rover turned
and met his gaze, face to face.

               HUNTER
Who are you looking at, fool, idiot?!
               SPACE ACE
Huh? <Shocked> You talking to me?

     With lightning speed the Rover leaped from the saddle and sprang
at Ace before he could react, grabbing him by the hair which caused the
hero of Earth to cry in pain. Turning he yelled at his 2nd in Command.

               HUNTER
Exile, this one dared look at me!

     Ace was shocked. Words had come from the dog's mouth. It spoke
to him, he couldn't believe it. Exile stood beside his leader, frowning
suspiciously at the stranger, shaking his head as if to scold,
discipline a naughty child.

               EXILE
He won't do it again.
               SPACE ACE
You...you talk too? Great Scott! <Eyes rolled back in his head>
Whoooohoooa...<Then passes out>
               HUNTER
Humph, stupid fool. <Sneers> Serves him right.
               EXILE
I wonder who he is, he's not one of us.
               HUNTER
Yeah, you're right. But no time now to find out, we have work to do.
Let's get these hostages to Rover City pronto, move out!

     He then mounted his horse and urged it forward as it carried him
away like a king. Exile gave a command and the canosapiens began to
march back to RoverCity with their precious cargo. It might have been the
smell of human sweat, or the sound of creaking wheels, or the bump of
the carts on the road that woke Ace up. Or it might have been all 3.
Whatever it was, he woke up miserable, lying under the legs of a man with
hair covering most of his body. He shoved the man's legs away and sat
up with a groan. His stomach felt queasy and he fought the urge to
puke or hurl. He pushed aside the legs of the man lying on top of him.
The man grunted at Ace but said nothing in response to his glare.
Ace sat up and looked around.

               SPACE ACE
Now where am I this time? Is this something like a Prisoner Of War
scenario where one army over-runs the other's positions, captures the
enemy soldiers, forcing their surrender and take them hostage or POW to
their camps to be hidden away during the remainder of the war...if so I
must be living a nightmare I cannot escape.

     He was in one of the cages atop a cart. There must have been 20
people stuffed into the cage with him like cattle, reminding him of the
HOLOCAUST in WWII Europe of the 30s-40s when Hitler's Third Reich began
its conquest of ruling Europe, arresting the Jews and shuttling them
away to live the rest of their lives in concentration camps and put to
death or worse! There were 2 Rovers sitting at the driver's bench. He
nearly gagged as he realized what was pulling the cart. There was a
team of human men chained to the cart's pull bar, and wearing blinders!

               SPACE ACE
Whoohooa, great scott...what on earth?! <Can't believe his eyes>

     Wordlessly, Ace looked up the road, where it wound its way along
the slope of a hill to a city in the distance. It was a primitive city
made of stone and clay, but it looked well organized. It reminded Ace
of ancient cities he'd seen on Earth built thousands of years ago.

               SPACE ACE
Wow, <To himself> this looks exactly like the Aztec, Myan cultures of
Mexico & South America ages ago, or the Egyptians or Romans, or...<Stops
when he sees what comes next> now what???

     He grabbed the bars of the cage and dragged himself onto his
feet, staring at the city as they passed beneath a great stone gate.
Canine mutants were everywhere...German shepherds, dalmatians,
greyhounds, collies, dobermans, huskies, sheepdogs, dachshunds,
chihuahuas, poodles, and so forth wearing a variety of clothing in
styles and colors. And everywhere were humans too. But not walking
free amoung the great canines. There were people on the street in the
same way you might have seen dogs or cats in the alleys of big cities.
The humans in this city of the canosapiens were treated like work slaves
or servants, beasts of burden. Some were loaded down with packages,
walking behind their masters or mistresses. Some pulled carts.

               SPACE ACE
Now I know this is a nightmare and not a dream...I'm losing my mind!

     He thought he was going to faint. It was real! He could smell,
touch, hear it - the world around him was MAD! The reality of his
situation struck him in the head in the form of a small, sharp rock.

               SPACE ACE
Ouch! Hey, who dare throw at my head? Who did that?! <Looks around>

     A group of young male canines appeared, running alongside the
carts and pelting the hostages with rocks and dirt clods, jeering and
teasing the people inside. Most of the humans cowered, throwing their
hands over their heads. Ace stubbornly stood his ground, tall and
strong while skillfully dodging the projectiles that came his way.

               SPACE ACE <Laughs to himself>
Ha-ha-ha-ha, missed me, missed me suckers! <Sticks out his tounge,
thumbs up his nose> Nyah-nyah-nyyyyaaaaah, blaaaaagh!

     This causes the other humans to stare at him in suprise and
shock but no one said anything. Not even the 2 Rovers driving the cart
paid any attention whatsoever. In this way, he was able to see when a
female canosapien, much older than the children but still young rush
toward the hooligans.

               COLLEEN
Stop it! Stop it now! You're being cruel, that's not nice. <Grabs one
of the troublemakers> You. Open your hand, open it!

     The canine child scowled and reluctantly uncurled his fingers
and a stone dropped to the ground.

               COLLEEN <Glares, eyes narrowed>
Who told you you could throw stones at those people?
               ROVER CHILD
My father!
               COLLEEN
Then you are both wrong young man. And you can tell him I said so...now
get out of here before I give you a good ole-fashion spanking!

     She made a threatening gesture with her open hand like she was
going to slap the canine child in the face which caused him to turn and
run. The others followed his example and sulked away. One of them
paused to look over his shoulder and shout.

               ROVER CHILD
HUMAN LOVER!

     The others whooped & jeered and ran away. The cart passed by,
but Ace pushed himself toward the back to catch snatches of the collie's
conversation with another female canosapien who came trotting up to her.

               ALETHIA
Do you always have to be so intense? I thought we were going shopping.

     The collie who stopped the boys did not answer. She was still
staring at the caged humans, and Ace staring back caught her eyes. He
felt her stare right into him, and the sensation was disturbing.

               SPACE ACE
Hooooo boy, I don't like the way she's looking at me.

     Hers were the first kind eyes he'd seen all day. They looked
human and full of clear thoughts...but they stared out of the face of a
mutant canine dog.

               SPACE ACE
I wonder who she is? I don't even know her name. Great Scott!

     The convoy continued on its journey through the streets &
avenues of RoverCity its destination unknown.

               END OF PART VI

               Proceed to Chapter 7