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Planet of the Rovers

by Scott Oliverson

CHAPTER XXIV

     Ace was scared, as scared as he had been in his first hour on
this planet. But he was also tired of trying to escape. If he was
going to die, he was not going to die running from canines. Instead of
retreating, he leaped off the rocks and into the swirling dust,
sprinting forward in search of enemies.

               SPACE ACE
The time has come for me to avenge the deaths of my friends of STAR
COMMAND!

     A canosapien loomed up before him, stabbing at Ace with a spear.
 He kicked the weapon away and rolled underneath the Rover's outstreched
arms. He snatched up the spear and kept running. Another canosapien
sprang up, ready to cast a heavy net. Ace scooped up a handful of sand
and threw it into the Rover's face making him/her cry in pain, drop the
net and clutch at his/her face trying to clear away his/her eyes. While
that Rover was disabled at the moment Ace plunged the spear into his/her
neck and snatched the net away. Though he couldn't see her through the
dust, Robyn was fighting not far from him. She had long since overcome
her fear of horses and now rode one like she was born to it. She
wheeled around the nWo infantry, using a bo staff to batter any of the
soldiers that tried to stop her. Hunter spotted her from a distance.

               HUNTER
Oh-ho, there she is, perfect target for me to shoot at.

     He hard, cold eyes measured her pace as he drew out a bola and
began to spin it overhead. When he was sure of her movements, he let
the weapon fly. She seemed to sense it at the last minute and swerved.

               HUNTER <Begins to curse>
Bummer! Missed that girl...

     The thongs did not wrap around her neck, but one of the weights
clipped the side of her head, and she went down.

               HUNTER <Shouts>
Yes! Ha-ha, I got the b****. Perfect shot!

     Robyn was on her feet immediately, but her horse was gone. She
looked around for means of escape, only to find herself surrounded by
Rovers closing in on all sides. Glaring the blond-haired girl drew a
knife from her belt and promised herself to take one of the brutes with
her if she died.

               ROBYN <Says a silent prayer>
Daddy, this one's for you.

     Suddenly, a figure reared up beside her - another horse with a
rider. The horse dropped down, and Robyn found hereslf looking at
Colleen's outstreched gloved hand.

               COLLEEN
Come on! Take my hand and I'll pull you up, hurry!

     Robyn grabbed her hand and the collie yanked her up and easily
into the saddle behind her. But it was too late. The nWo had closed
their circle tight. One of them raised spinning nunchakus...but
suddenly vanished behind a curtain of dust with a strangled scream. In
the next instant that curtain parted and Thunderbolt appeared,
battle-lust fully upon him. He roared an ancient war-cry and charged
the other canosapiens, scattering them like leaves in a wind. One of
the Rovers slashed at the two females and cut Robyn's arm with a deep
gash causing the girl to cry in pain and Colleen gasp, then glower
angrily at the attacker, about to retaliate but they managed to gallop
away. T-Bolt dropkicked the attacker into the ground, then a headbutt
knocked that Rover into unconsciousness.

               EXILE
BLOOD BROTHER!
               THUNDERBOLT
WHAT?! <Spun around> EXILE!
               EXILE
Yeah, me! Now it's the two of us T-Bolt, mano a mano.
               THUNDERBOLT
I'm afraid it comes down to this senior. May the best Rover win.
               EXILE
You got that right comrade...AARRROOOOOOOO!
               THUNDERBOLT
AARROOOOOOOOOOO!

     The surviving soldiers backed off as the two great Rovers
circled one another. Each bore a sword in their hands. With lightning
speed, Exile lunged. T-Bolt parried the thrust and slashed down,
feeling his own sword clang against Exile's. Sparks flew from their
weapons. Exile lunged again, his sword stabbing at T-Bolt's eyes! The
german shepherd sidestepped, exchanging his brute strengh for skill. As
the russian husky stumbled, trying to regain his footing, Thunderbolt
spiraled his own sword around the other's blade and flicked it out of
Exile's hands where it clattered to the ground.

               THUNDERBOLT
Toushe! My point penetrates.
               EXILE
Why you double-crosser!

     Exile grabbed T-Bolt sword arm in both hands, struggling to
break the shepherd's grip on his own weapon. But even Exile could not
loosen T-Bolt's grip. So he sank his teeth into the arm instead.
Thunder howled in pain and shook his arm free, dropping his sword in the
process. With his free hand he backfisted Exile and sent him crashing
to the ground on his butt.

               EXILE
Now I am really upsetski!
               THUNDERBOLT
Suit yourself brother.
               EXILE
You're gonna pay T-Bolt, mark my words!
               THUNDERBOLT
Oh? Would you like that in cash, check or I.O.U.? <Sneers>
               EXILE
YAAAAAAAAAAAAGH! <Jumps back up>

     The two circled each other again, stripped to the weapons they
were born with - cunning, claws, and teeth. Mad with blood lust, Exile
sprang at Thunderbolt, who tried to beat him back. But the wound in
T-Bolt's arm was already slowing the old K9 police dog, and though he
landed a solid kick to the groin, which did trip up the husky's momentum
carrying him forwards, it didn't stop him from cannonballing into
Thunderbolt who went down hard like a felled redwood. While the battle
raged outside, inside STAR COMMAND, on the bridge, a different activity
was taking place. Amoung the many systems Space Ace powered up, one was
the Messanger beacon that lured him to the ruins. He never turned it
off, and it had quietly hummed through a day and night without breaking
the rhythm of its search. No one paid any attention. Now, in the empty
room, the scanner suddenly changed its tone. Its ceaseless call into
the void was answered by the appearance of a tiny blip.

     Hunter waded through the battle, cutting down any humans who
dare stand in his path. The wargames had become a rout. Colonists were
no match for canosapiens, who were better trained, better armed, and
stronger. But Hunter would not rest until he had one human's skull on a
spike, and he roamed this way and that way, searching for the newcomer.
 Amid the confusion, he heard a voice call out.

               SPACE ACE
Retreat, fall back! Head for the hills!
               HUNTER
Ha! The CHOSEN ONE, he is not far. <Grins>

     He was even more satisfied when another voice replied.

               COLLEEN
They cut us off! We're trapped!
               HUNTER
Colleen, you traitor. I can't believe you love that stranger. <Glares
to himself> That just burns me up!

     The humans formed a tight circle, weapons facing outward, as the
canosapiens closed in around them. It was a hopeless cause. The Rovers
outnumbered them 3-1 and fought with iron weapons, while the colonists
had imitation weapons. But they looked defiant against the nWo. Hunter
was ready to make the death blow. He spotted Ace in the fray and
charged at the defenseless human.

               HUNTER
Now I shall finish you off once and for all!

     Ace's face was grim. He knew Hunter would tear him to pieces.
But he didn't care. Something inside answered the challenge Hunter
uttered, an instinct so base it could hardly be called human. Here was
one primate challenging the right of another, and Ace would not, could
not ignore it.

               SPACE ACE
Here I am you SOB, come and get me! <Assumes martial arts stance>
               HUNTER
DIIIIIIIIIIIIE! <Snarls with rage>

     As Hunter threw himself forward Ace jumped straight up using the
power of his cybernetic bionic legs that propeled him into the air over
the retriever's head. As Hunter passed beneath him, a suprised look on
his face and before he could turn around Ace struck first with a
powerful bionic punch to the solar plexus feeling the satisfying impact
against the body-armor suit. Hunter staggered, mouth falling open and
Ace followed up with a bionic kick to the head, snapping it to one side.

               SPACE ACE
This one's for Kimberly, my wife! <Punch> The one you and Pyro murdered!
<Then the kick> And this one's for Team Rocket, my friends!

     If not for the general's incredibly thick neck, the blow might
have broken his jaw. Hunter's counter-attack was faster than lightning!

               HUNTER
You can't hurt me fool, now it's my turn!

     He delivered a backhand that drew blood from Ace's mouth. Ace
stumbled backward, fell, rolled back to his feet.

               SPACE ACE
Hah! I'm not who you think I am...I am a machine, a living cyborg in
disquise. THE TERMINATOR!
               HUNTER
A what?! <Frowns angrily> You're a what!

     Ace retaliated with a jumping crescent kick, followed by a
roundhouse from the other direction. Both blows landed solidly knocking
down Hunter in the process.

               SPACE ACE
This one's for RoboCop and Buzz Lightyear, whom you and your friends
also killed onboard my ship!

     Snarling, Hunter sprang back at Ace, didn't care if he was human
or machine or both...He slammed a knee-strike hard to the groin of Ace
making him double over in agony and fall facefirst into the ground,
rolling into a fetal position. Hunter then slammed one blow then
another to his head & face, drawing more blood in the process. Then
drew back his fist for the final blow. The raising of his hand seemed
like a magical gesture, calling down thunder, for as his fist went up,
sneering triumph in his eyes, a deafening explosion shook the sky.
Startled, Rover and human both looked up.

               HUNTER & SPACE ACE
WHAT ON EARTH?! <Simultanously> WHAT IS THAT?!

     A white streak flashed across the sky, then arced around and
slowed, heading for them.

               EXILE
Nyeh, what is it?

     Ace looked up and struggled to understand. A spark of
recognition crossed his face and he smiled down at the ground. He knew
what it was. The white pod circled the battlefield in a lazy arc, then
settled down to the ground, kicking up small clouds of dust as it came
to a stop in front of the ruins. Nobody moved. Neither Rover or Human
dared speak or breathe. Even Hunter paused in midstrike, hand still
poised in the air. The pod's hatch opened with a small hiss. From
inside the pod came a steady beeping sound that matched the pattern on
STAR COMMAND's screens. Everyone stepped back, terrified. Then a
spacesuited, helmeted figure came into view, sitting at the control
console. It raised one canine hand to lift up the visor covering the
faceplate of the helmet and a female collie's face appeared, blinking in
the sunlight. Around her, dust and light swirled, mimicking exactly the
religious icon Ace had seen several times.

               SPACE ACE
Pyro? <Then corrects himself> DAISY!

               END OF PART XXIV

               Proceed to Chapter 25