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Planet of the Rovers

by Scott Oliverson

CHAPTER XIV

     Ace checked the readouts and even ran a diagnostic on the
Messanger. No doubt about it. A signal was bouncing back to him, and
from the frequency, it was not far away.

               ROBYN
Your...others like you, are here? Other humans like you?

     Ace nodded, a grin on his face. Colleen scratched her head.

               COLLEEN
It's time you told us the truth. Who are you?

     Ace nodded again, finally feeling that he was getting a handle
on the situation that, a day ago had spiraled into sheer madness.

               SPACE ACE
I am Lieutenant Ace, of the United Nations-NATO forces and Star Command,
the name of my command ship I came from. I come from a galaxy far-far
away called the Milky Way. A planet in our solar system called Earth in
the year 2029AD.

     Richard, who hadn't spoken at all since Ace met him, said.

               RICHARD TYLER
Is that far?
               SPACE ACE
Past any star you can see at night my friend.

     They all looked up. No stars were visible in daylight, of
course, but each one tried to comprehend a distance that was past the
blue sky and the sun.

               PERCIVAL MCLEACH
Your apes, they let you fly?

     Ace burst into uncontrollable giggling hysteria at the sheer
lunacy of his situation - a human asking him if dogs gave him permission
to do anything. He said.

               SPACE ACE
Our dogs live in homes or pet stores waiting to be adopted. They do
what we tell them.

     He ignored Colleen's startled and offended reaction. He snapped
the Messanger closed and said.

               SPACE ACE
I'd say this is enemy territory. So that means I've got 36 hours to
rendezvous with my people. Then I get out of here and this nightmare is
over at last.
               ZAK
What happens to us? Where do we go?

     In that instant, a piece of the forest seemed to drop from the
trees and land heavily on Big Brother. He went down hard. The thing
that landed on him rose up, and the escapees found themselves staring at
the grinning Blitz the slave trader. He had followed them through the
tunnel to the springhouse outside RoverCity.

               BLITZ
You're not going anywhere jah. Several of you are still my property.
               ZAK
Get off me you stupid mutt!
               BLITZ
Yeah?! What are you going to do, hit me? <Sneers>

     Zak struggled, but Blitz held him down with his boots. He
slapped Zak across the face and he protested angrily so he slapped him
again harder!

               RICHARD
Hey! I teach you to hurt my big brother!
               BLITZ
C'mon kid, come and get me. I'm ready for you.
               ZAK
No Tyler, stop!

     But before he could do anything a pair of shackles snapped into
place around his legs. Richard bolted for the forest but in the next he
was hauled up by Desoto & Roscoe the twin brothers of Blitz who
snickered in delight. Blitz laughed too and strode over to the boy,
holding another pair of shackles. Ace watched it all calmly. He felt a
little more like himself again. Finding the pod, and finding the
emergency kit had reminded him of who he was, despite the warped reality
into which he fell. He reached into his holster on his belt and drew
the pulse phaser and released the safety. Ace would never point it at
anyone unless his life was in danger but he took aim at a tree branch
near the slaver's head and pulled the trigger.

     A bolt of laser energy shot from the barrel of the gun and the
branch exploded into a burst of splinters. Everyone, Colleen, McLeach,
Robyn, Thunderbolt hit the ground. Roscoe & Desoto jumped in shock,
backpedaled and broke into a dead run screaming in terror. Blitz stood
still as stone, face white as a sheet. Ace sneered calmly.

               SPACE ACE
You saw what it did to that tree.
               BLITZ
Aaaaaaaah...<Horror on his face> no harm done.
               SPACE ACE
Then release the hostages now!
               BLITZ
OK, alright, don't hurt me pleeeeaaassse. <Drops to knees in praying
posture>

     But not before he removed the shackles from Zak's legs and
helped him back up. Richard was alright, looking around for signs of
his handlers but they were gone. Robyn had recovered from her own
shock. Like Blitz, she didn't know what the weapon was, but she
understood its power.

               ROBYN
Kill him!
               ZAK
Slave trader! <Kicks him in the balls>

     The doberman fell over groaning in pain, clutching his middle.
Colleen had been watching in silence, but her empathy got the best of
her.

               COLLEEN
No, please do not kill him. If you do, you'll only lower yourself to
his level.

     Her eyes were pleading, and Ace was struck by just how human she
could look. Blitz grunted and stood up slowly, still holding his groin
where he'd been kicked.

               BLITZ
Exactly, she's smart. You know I heard her talking about Dogs and
Humans, maybe there's something there.

     He took a few steps towards Ace, his toes curling inside his
boots as he talked.

               BLITZ <Continues>
Seperate but equal...to each his own. It's a theory. It could work...

     He took a step closer and raised his hands. Ace smirked at him
and fired into the ground at Blitz's feet. The doberman leaped back in
sheer terror.

               BLITZ
Aaaaaaaaaahahahaaaaaah! <Screams in terror>
               SPACE ACE
Oops, scared you did I? NOT!

     He then ordered Blitz to remove the shackles to which he did.

               BLITZ
Well, ah, um...I'm just in your way so I'll be going now, jah.
               ROBYN
He'll lead them to us.
               SPACE ACE
We'll make him our hostage-ticket to freedom.

     Zak & Richard grinned at each other and hooked the shackles onto
the doberman. Suddenly the phaser was snatched out of Ace's hands. He
looked up to see Thunderbolt in the tree about him, now holding the gun.
 The K9 dropped to the ground.

               SPACE ACE
What the h*** are you doing?
               THUNDERBOLT
Sorry senior but you can't turn this toy on me. I can't allow it.

     Then he smashed the gun against a rock and it broke.

               SPACE ACE
NO! My toy, my good luck weapon. <Rushes to comfort it like a parent to
a child> How dare you! <Screams at T-Bolt> This weapon brings me luck in
protecting me from my enemies and you dare break it?! I ought to kick
you in the a** or balls! <Glares>

     But Colleen stopped the human from attacking the german shepherd
who is about to strike back first.

               COLLEEN
Who would invent such a dangerous device?
               SPACE ACE
I did madame, I created it long ago back home. It was used to fight
against alien invaders, and such. I only set the weapon for stun, to
disable or take down an enemy without hurting him or killing him. But
if I had to shoot to kill, to defend myself then I'd set the weapon to
another setting.

     He picked the phaser off the ground which by some miracle did
not break or get broken. With a stunned T-Bolt looking on, Ace smirked
at him, pointed an imaginary gun in the shape of his hand, said "BANG,
YOU'RE DEAD!" then reholstered his weapon back into its holster.
Colleen was shocked.

               COLLEEN
We're better off without it.
               ROBYN
There is no WE here. <Hatred>
               COLLEEN <Feels offended>
Why are you being so difficult?
               ROBYN <Scoffs>
You mean, why aren't I acting like your slave?
               COLLEEN
That's not what I meant.
               SPACE ACE
SHUT UP! <He had enough> I CAN'T STAND ARGUING BETWEEN STUPID DOGS AND
STUPID PEOPLE! THAT GOES FOR ALL SPECIES.

     Colleen & Robyn backed away from each other, staring with alarm
and shock at Ace. Why did he shout those words at them. Robyn sidled
next to Ace and said.

               ROBYN
You can't trust them.
               SPACE ACE
You know who I trust? MYSELF.
               BLITZ
An admirable quality, I find that works when all other...
               SPACE ACE
Butt out doberman, who asked you?
               BLITZ
Well, <Glares back> I've never...
               THUNDERBOLT
Aye carrumba.
               COLLEEN
You can say that again.
               RICHARD & ZAK
GOOD GRIEF.
               PERCIVAL MCLEACH
Wowsers, now I've seen everything.

     Ace picked up the Messanger, slung the med=kit over his shoulder
by the straps and started off, the others followed behind him.

               END OF PART XIV

               Proceed to Chapter 15