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Planet of the Rovers

by Scott Oliverson


     Space Ace emerged from the ruins to find Robyn and the others
waiting anxiously. He wished that he had better news for them, a better
plan. He barely had a plan at all. All he had was a desperate hope.
But it was something anyway.

               SPACE ACE
There's one possibility. <Explains to the colonists> One shot, but it's
worth taking.

     He pointed to the ruins, where the tall spires jutted out almost
sideways from the side of the hill. Those towers, he now knew, were the
ship's thrusters.

               SPACE ACE
We've got to draw them close. Put all the people behind the ship. But
don't hide them. I want them seen.
What about us?
               SPACE ACE
You'll be on horseback, in front of the ship, waiting for my signal.
You're the bait to lure the nWo into the trap I plan to spring for them.
I won't move until you say so master.
               SPACE ACE
You won't be out there young man. I can't risk having you caught in the
line of fire when the BIG BANG goes off.
               RICHARD <Protests>
               SPACE ACE
That's enough little brother.

     A short time later he was back on the bridge of the STAR
COMMAND, syncing the command console up to the Messanger Box from his
pod. His only companion was Blitz. As a former slaver, Blitz did not
feel safe amoung the humans, and had chosen to stay inside the ruins.
Ace allowed him to remain so long as he did not interfere. But finally,
the talkative doberman could not hold it in any longer.

Whatever you're planning, don't tell me. The anticipation will kill me
before Hunter does.

     Ace hesitated only a moment longer...

I can't stand it. You gotta tell me!

     Without looking up from his work, Ace said.

               SPACE ACE
We can't stop them, but we can scare them. Scramble their doggie minds
so to speak.
               BLITZ <Unconvinced>
We canosapiens don't scare so easy jah.
               SPACE ACE <Shrugs>
True, but when you do, it's out of control. You start running and never
turn back.

     The light of morning crept across row upon row of armored
canosapiens of the New World Order, the battlesuits polished, their
spears, swords, sais, bo staffs, nunchakus, tonfa clubs like thickets on
the plain, ready for wargames. For a moment they stood as silent as
legions of statues, staring at the ruins in the distance. At the head
of his army, Hunter knew the colonists were watching from the hills. He
wanted it that way. He wanted them to see the sheer power of Roverdom.

Go ahead sarge, give the command.
               ALL CANOSAPIENS

     As one, the army surged forward. Outrunners sprinted ahead,
prepared to draw any suprise attacks from the humans, but the main army
caught up to them, moving with terrifying speed. Around the ruins of
STAR COMMAND, Ace made some last-minute adjustments to his Messanger
Box. Around him, humans muttered and shifted their feet. Some of them
looked to the hills. Never before had they stood against a squad of
Rovers, let alone an army. They were on the verge of panic.

     But they were emboldened by the sight of a few figures riding
out on horses. Robyn, her big brother Zak, Thunderbolt and Colleen
trotted out to the plains at the feet of STAR COMMAND's ruins and stood
there calmly. The collie kicked her horse into position beside Robyn.
The girl glanced at her coldly. In response, Colleen held up her hand.
 The wound was still bleeding and red. Robyn stared in alarm and
reached out to touch it.

Yegads! You have the mark too?
No, don't touch it. I have no time for pity, I want respect. Hunter
did this to me, called me a traitor to the nWo.
Good grief, how dare he do that.
I know, but it's too late now, the damage is done. My love is to Ace
now, my new boyfriend.
Wowsers, the stranger from the stars.
Aye, the CHOSEN ONE.

     The canosapiens were 200 yards away, surging forward in a fast
wall of steel gray & blue. The horses pranced nervously.

               SPACE ACE
Hold them as long as you can! <Shouted from the ruins>

     Suddenly another rider appeared out of the rocks. He trotted
forward and took his place on the other side of his sister.

What are you doing here!
I'm part of this too, I'm not going to let you get killed.
Wait with the others like he told you.
No! If they die, I go with them in honor. To avenge the death of my
father, David Sevile!
Yes, my father will be avenged.
Mr. Sevile? <Looks towards the heavens> We will not forget you dad, help
us through this to the end.
They're still coming senior!

     The outrunners were too close. Seeing the waiting humans, they
howled and surged ahead even faster.

               SPACE ACE

     The colonists urged their horses into a run. They wheeled
around and raced for safety, splitting into two groups. Richard, not
knowing the plan, was unsure which way to go. His horse swerved one
way, then another, and fell. The beast landed on its side, legs kicking
wildly and pinning Tyler beneath it. The canosapiens snarled with glee
and charged him.

               SPACE ACE
Oh s***! Tyler!

     He jumped from his hiding place and sprinted towards Richard.
He reached the young boy before the Rovers did and pulled him out from
beneath his struggling horse. The Rovers were almost upon them! He
pratically threw Richard atop the horse, smacked it's butt and the beast
galloped away towards STAR COMMAND. Then he sprinted back to his place.
 He had to reach the Messanger before he was caught. He jumped over a
boulder and punched a command button on the small keypad. Nothing
happened at first.

               SPACE ACE
What-the? C'mon, come on! <Punches button again>

     This time, his command was answered by a low rumble like an 8.3
earthquake. The approaching army of canosapiens halted, just in the
shadow of the ruins they called CALIMA. There was a brief, loud
groan...And then the engines EXPLODED to life. Flames poured out of the
thrusters, instantly turning the rocky hillside to slag. The first
three rows of Rover soldiers vanished behind a wall of fire and the rows
behind them were thrown into the air by a shockwave blast of hot air &
gas like a tornado or hurricane. As quickly as it began, the rumble
died down and the flames vanished. A cloud of dust rose up, wafting
across the plain.

     The nWo Rovers lay sprawled on the ground, not moving for
seconds or two...then some began to stir, coughing-groaning-choking as
they struggled to rise to their feet. That's when Ace gave the next
order to...

               SPACE ACE

     And with that the colonists screaming & yelling like indians
attacking white settlers rushed from behind the ruins and fell upon the
helpless soldiers before they could counter-attack, escape or whatever.
 From their command position near the army's flank, Hunter and Exile sat
on horseback. Exile was sputtering and coughing in shock. Fire had
poured over the legions like flames unleashed from the darkest pits of
the underworld.

               EXILE can there be such a weapon? <Stammers> We cannot defeat them!

     Beside him, Hunter was still as a statue. He watched more
wounded canosapiens stagger back from the battle line. Some screamed
from the pain of their wounds, others from fear and confusion but those
survivors were also cut down by the colonists like tenpins. He sensed a
panic spread through the ranks of the nWo. But still he sat, listening
and waiting. On the far side of the battlefield, amoung the rocks near
the STAR COMMAND crash site, the humans cheered. Even Blitz was dancing
up and down, hooting.

It worked! I'll gather their weapons and sell them for a fortune!
               SPACE ACE
Wait, wait for it my friend. The fun has just begun.

     Hunter waited for another moment, ignoring Exile's requests for
orders, ignoring the pleadings of his own wounded men & women soldiers.
 He forced himself to exercise patience...patience...then, when more
seconds passed and nothing happened, he knew. He knew and he admired
the bravado of the attempt. But it hadn't been enough.

We will attack.
               EXILE <Wide-eyed>
But...comrade, he can destroy us all!
We will see. <Draws his sword>

     He then charged straight towards the colonists. Ace jumped up
onto the rocks, staring out into a sea of dust. For awhile there was
nothing to see - just roiling clouds of dust kicked up by the blast and
from the struggling figures of humans & canosapiens engaged in fierce
close-hand-to-hand-combat! But then, out of the dust cloud a figure
emerged. General Hunter rode up to the shadow of the ruins, staring
full-face into the caverns out of which the fire had come. He unloosed
a roar of challenge. But no answer came back. Rover and human alike
had heard Hunter's challenge. More important, everyone had heard the
silence that followed. Ace felt his shoulders slump. Hunter had called
his bluff.

               BLITZ <Terror>
By Pyro, we're doomed.

     Hunter stared defiantly up at the rocks searching for the
newcomer who caused him so much trouble. After a moment, Exile trotted
to his side.

I'm tired of this human. ATTACK!

     Horns sounded and the rest of the New World Order charged
forward into the dust.

               END OF PART XXIII

               Proceed to Chapter 24