The Light That Failed Pt 4

From the Story Arc: A Fine And Private Place

Previous Story in the Arc: The Light That Failed Pt 3 by Belladonna Aura (Saturday, October 08, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: The Light That Failed Pt 5 by Belladonna Aura (Sunday, October 09, 2005)

(posted Sunday, October 09, 2005)

Shen Fai-Long was a brave young man—but he was also very young. And Bella had been his mentor and almost a surrogate mother. His blasts were missing as often as they were hitting and he was just about to fall apart.

He was also apologizing every time he missed, until even Oksana noticed. When she paused to get her bearings, she finally grabbed him by the collar and shook him.

"Listen, tovarisch," she said. "It don't matter how much you miss, it matters you're tryin'! And it don't matter if you miss that much, 'cause even a miss makes 'em duck, an hellfire, that keeps 'em from comin' at us! You're part of this posse, an' don't never think we don't need you!"

Shen stopped looking quite so apologetic.

"Now, there's a powerful lot of Mexicans between us and the Border, hombre," she continued. "An' if we don't make it, ain't nobody gonna know what happened at the Alamo!"

Now he looked puzzled.

"So get back on your cayuse, an' let's ride!" Kurt Taylor's speech from Remember The Alamo! was one of her favorites, and if Shen was having trouble figuring out how Vahzilock equated to Mexicans, well…that wasn't her problem.

Her problem was equating the mental map of the sewers with the map of the streets of Skyway above…

She closed her eyes a moment as Bella threw another EMP. She wasn't convulsing anymore. Oksana had the feeling that this wasn't good.

"Right---thisaway! Them hombres ain't gonna stop us now!"

#

Kurt Taylor sat easily in the saddle of Thunderheels, the stunt-horse he would be using for his ride across the M.C.Escher-like landscape of Skyway City. Thunderheels could go anywhere and negotiate practically anything unscathed. Kurt had once ridden this particular old fellow down a 75 foot slope so steep it might just as well have been a cliff, and never been worried for a moment.

What was more, he'd also ridden Thunderheels through rush-hour traffic and the gelding hadn't even turned a hair, even when he'd been asked to go over the hoods and roofs of cars.

So although when the doors to the sewer-access next to him blew open with the thunder of a shotgun going off, he might have jumped, but the horse never stirred.

The only problem was, the next thing that happened was that a second explosion and a wash of green light hit him, and his hearing aids---died. Along with every klieg light and camera within a hundred feet.

#

Oksana felt like cheering. She'd come out exactly where she needed the team to be—and like a gift from Marx, there was the thing she needed to have, not 10 feet away.

She grabbed Last Avatar, who was a speedster. "You! You are to be running ahead of us, clear the streets! Heroes, civilians, everybody, off street or get electronics—"

An EMP and all the nearby lights exploded.

"And tell hospital we are comink!"

"I get it!" Avatar said, and her feet blurred. Oksana grabbed Wing. "You, comrade, call Commissar, tell her what is happening, that we are taking Bella to hospital. Find comm., comm. whatever!"

Wing saluted and flew off—thank Lenin her powers were rad-hardened.

"You!" she said to Shen, shoving him towards the shouting crowd descending on them "You are to be explaining!"

And with Bella still slung over her shoulder she grabbed the reins of Thunderheels.

"Kurt Taylor! Am needink your horse!"

"OKSANA WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?" he bellowed

"Am needing horse!" she said, shaking the reins.

"WHAT'S GOING ON? WHY ARE YOU CARRYING THAT WOMAN?"

"AM NEEDING YOUR HORSE!" she screamed, suddenly realizing that he couldn't hear her—

"OF COURSE? OF COURSE WHAT--?" Oksana in frustration had turned away from him a bit, and he must have caught sight of Bella's pale, sick face, because she suddenly found her arm seized by Taylor who was on the ground. "HOLY TOLEDO, OKSANA, GET THAT GIRL TO A DOC! TAKE MY HORSE!"

And before she could move she found Bella taken from her, found herself tossed into the saddle, and Bella loaded across the saddle bow. She no sooner had the reins in her hands and her feet in the stirrups when Kurt whacked the horse on the haunches and shouted. "THUNDER! FEETS-DO!"

And the horse took off like a shot.

Ahead of her, the traffic, the pedestrians, everything was scattering. And even from where she and Thunderheels were riding hell-bent-for-leather, she could hear why, because Avatar had gotten hold of a megaphone that hadn't been fried from somewhere and was alternating electronic siren-wails with "BOMB COMING THROUGH! RUN! A-BOMB COMING THROUGH!"

Close enough, Oksana thought, and bent over Thunderheel's neck, urging him on to super-equine speed.

#

Behind them, Kurt Taylor watched the Commie Cowgirl ride like the best stunt-girl he'd ever known. The one he'd married. The one he'd lost ten years ago, who would, in Oksana's place, have done exactly the same thing. He smiled a little, and wiped a tear away. "You go, little Red," he whispered. "You go."