Authors: Rodney Hartman
Tags: #Children's Books, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy & Magic, #Science Fiction, #Military, #Space Marine, #Children's eBooks, #Science Fiction; Fantasy & Scary Stories
Intergalactic Wizard Scout Chronicles
Rodney W. Hartman
This book is dedicated to my wife and best friend, Karen.
She is my safe harbor in the stormy sea of life.
Table Of Contents
Richard hid behind what little remained of a broken wall. His passive scan confirmed the presence of two life forms nearby. Richard pressed his back so hard against the stone he could feel the metal rivets of his leather armor digging into his flesh. At least two members of his team of four scouts had been taken out already. His team of four, or quad as it was called in wizard scout jargon, was opposed by a quad of enemy soldiers. He had no idea if his remaining quad mate was even still in action. Richard doubted it. The recent sound of enemy fire off to his right had been replaced by silence. That did not bode well for his quad, and it did not bode well for him either. The two soldiers stalking him would undoubtedly soon be getting reinforcements.
A drop of sweat dripped perilously close to Richard’s right eye, but he dared not move to wipe it away. The lead soldier was too close. Richard could sense the soldier approaching cautiously just a few meters away on the far side of the wall.
Take your time
, Richard told himself.
The second guy is bound to be behind cover providing support for this one.
Richard’s plan was simple. He would use his phase rod to take out the first soldier. Then he would grab the soldier’s weapon and use it on his companion. If he was lucky, he could remove these two soldiers from the fight before their help arrived.
Risking a glance at his phase rod, Richard made sure it was hidden behind his left leg. Even in stun mode, small, red arcs of plasma energy crept up and down the entire, meter-long length of the phase rod’s brerellium shaft. If he wasn’t careful, even the dim glow of the phase rod would give away his position in the early-morning twilight.
Richard wished he had a pistol or rifle, but the phase rod was all he’d been provided, so it would have to do. The phase rod was a modified riot baton. It was a battering weapon, so even if the soldier’s armor resisted the rod’s stun effects, Richard was hopeful he could disable his opponent with a few well-placed blows.
A shuffling noise came from the far side of the wall. The source of the sound was even closer than he’d thought. Richard forced himself to relax his grip a little on the phase rod’s handle. He’d been told repeatedly that too stiff a grip would break his wrist if an enemy’s armor was supplemented with a force field.
Unless things are totally unfair
, Richard thought,
they should have leather armor as well. The phase rod should do the job easy enough.
The noise came again. This time it was accompanied by a small pebble skittering along the ground. It was time. Another step and the soldier would clear the wall. Richard gathered a small amount of Power with his mind and wrapped it around a loose, fist-sized stone sitting on the top of the wall across the stone path. He pulled with his mind, and the stone slid off the wall and clattered loudly on the rocky ground below.
A series of green plasma rounds erupted from around the corner of the wall and sprayed in the direction of the falling stone. Richard spun around the wall swinging his phase rod at head height as he went. Instead of encountering a light-leather helmet as expected, Richard’s blow struck a heavy-metallic face plate. The phase rod rebounded off with little or no effect. The only thing his blow had accomplished was to draw the soldier’s attention.
Crap! He’s wearing full armor!
Richard wasted no time in reflecting on the unfairness of the situation. For whatever reason, he was apparently expected to match his flimsy set of leather armor against an enemy equipped with full-body armor reinforced with a low-level force field. It was a nearly impossible scenario, but that was the situation. Richard knew he would just have to deal with it.
The soldier tried to backpedal in an attempt to bring his plasma rifle to bear. Richard stayed in close and matched him step for step. He stuck his useless phase rod between his opponent’s legs and tripped the already off-balanced soldier. The soldier fell heavily to the ground. Richard used his knee to roll the soldier over until his enemy’s face was in the dirt. Then he placed all his weight on the soldier’s back. The maneuver would only buy him a couple of seconds, but he needed time to think. He had no hope of overpowering the soldier with brute force. His muscles were no match for the hydraulic-assisters of the soldier’s body armor. As if to prove the point, the soldier got his arms beneath himself in a pushup position and began to rise in spite of Richard’s full weight on his back.
Richard caught a glimpse of movement to his front. The soldier’s buddy was running towards them. His plasma rifle was aimed at Richard’s head in preparation for firing. Using the momentum of the already rising soldier below him, Richard jerked him into a standing position just as the running solider fired his plasma rifle. The struggling soldier in Richard’s grasp absorbed a half dozen plasma rounds in his chest. The second soldier’s plasma rifle was only firing quarter-strength stun rounds. While dangerous to Richard in his light leather, Richard doubted they would have any effect on the well-armored soldier he was holding. The second soldier must have thought the same, because he started firing a steady stream of green plasma rounds in Richard’s direction. But luck and a little skill was on Richard’s side. He pulled back on his human shield and used his hip to leverage the soldier’s waist into the stream of green energy. One of the plasma rounds hit a stun grenade attached to the soldier’s ammo pouch.
When the grenade exploded, both Richard and the soldier were thrown back several meters. As they fell, Richard managed to yank the soldier’s plasma rifle out of his hands. He rolled out from underneath the soldier just before they hit the ground.
The soldier’s armor absorbed most of the force of the exploding stun grenade. However, at least some energy must have penetrated the armor, because the soldier appeared momentarily stunned. Always one to build on success, Richard brought the acquired plasma rifle to bear on the second soldier. Richard held the trigger down for full automatic. A seemingly solid stream of green energy struck the soldier’s armor ricocheting off in all directions. Tweaking his aim slightly, Richard directed the stream of green to the second soldier’s ammo pouch.
A stun grenade exploded on the second soldier and sent him flying backwards.
Richard jumped to his feet and aimed the plasma rifle at the first soldier who was just starting to rise to a sitting position. Richard fired a single shot at the remaining stun grenade on the soldier’s waist.
The soldier was thrown on his back once again as his legs jerked convulsively. Apparently, the first grenade had weakened the armor’s force field a little, because the soldier appeared to be suffering more from the effects of the second explosion. Knowing he had only seconds, Richard released the plasma rifle and let it hang by its strap in order to free both his hands. Grasping the base of his phase rod, Richard twisted the end cap off and slid out the isotopic battery. He broke a third of the battery off and dropped the larger piece on the ground. Grabbing hold of his plasma rifle, Richard spun to face the second soldier. Although he was still lying on the ground, the second soldier was moving again. The soldier’s right hand was clawing for his own plasma rifle where he had dropped it on the ground nearby. Richard didn’t give him time to complete the maneuver. He pulled the trigger of his plasma rifle and sent a dozen rounds of green energy towards the soldier’s waist.
The soldier’s second grenade exploded. The force sent him head-over-heels into a pile of broken ruble to his rear.
That should buy me eight to ten seconds
, Richard thought.
Kneeling beside the stunned soldier at his feet, Richard jammed the small piece of isotopic battery into a convenient crevasse in the armor near the soldier’s neck. The soldier’s armor was not the close fitting armor of a wizard scout. Instead, it was the bulky armor of a line soldier. It had an abundance of places in which to wedge the battery so it wouldn’t fall off.
Richard took two steps back. Aiming his plasma rifle at the isotopic battery attached to the soldier’s neck, he said, “This is going to hurt, buddy.”
Before Richard could pull the trigger, alarms sounded and the entire area was bathed in bright lights. A loudspeaker blared, “Abort! Abort! Simulation terminated! Abort!”
Richard immediately dropped both the plasma rifle and phase rod to the ground. He threw himself against a nearby wall and faced forward at a stiff attention. Within seconds, a dozen white-coated technicians came running into view. A couple went to each of the downed soldiers and began removing their armor. Another pointed an instrument at the broken piece of isotopic battery lying on the ground where Richard had dropped it.
“Careful with that piece of battery near her neck, Jacob,” said one of the technicians to the two who were removing the fallen soldier’s armor. “It’s near critical mass. I don’t think it would take much to set it off.”
“Cadet 832!” yelled a squat, toad-faced man walking briskly towards Richard. He was dressed in the silver and black of an academy TAC officer. “You’d better stiffen that brace up, cadet. And don’t let me hear you utter a single word. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court martial. I swear, I’ll have you up on attempted murder charges before the day is out if I have to go straight to the admiral myself.”
Richard had no trouble complying with his TAC officer’s command to keep quiet. From two long years of association with TAC Officer Gaston Myers, Richard knew it would do no good to say anything. Like all cadets, Richard was a worm. No, he was less than a worm, and TAC Officer Gaston Myers was the Intergalactic Wizard Scout Academy’s local god.
TAC Officer Myers thrust his face in front of Richard until the brim of his instructor hat was jammed into Richard’s forehead. “You crossed the line this time, 832! If you’ve permanently hurt cadet 215, I will personally make sure you don’t even make it to your court martial. You’re a disgrace to the Academy, and a dozen of you wouldn’t be worth one cadet 215. How you ever wormed your way into wizard scout training is a mystery to me. You’ve obviously got friends in high places, but they won’t be able to help you this time. Your scrawny little butt is mine, 832, and you’re going to rue the day you ever met me.”
I already rue the day
, Richard thought.
And if I’ve got friends in high places, I wish you’d tell me who they are so we’d both know.
TAC Officer Gaston Myers had hated Richard from the moment he’d stepped out of the space shuttle with the other cadets two years ago. Richard had never figured out why he’d targeted him, but Myers had made his life a living hell ever since. He could never do anything well enough to prevent a caustic remark from the TAC officer. If he was the fastest disassembling a weapon, Myers would give him a tongue lashing for being too fast and not taking the time to do it properly. If he won a sparring match against four opponents, he was chewed out for sloppy techniques. If he took the time to give a detailed reconnaissance report, he was chastised for being too slow. After a few weeks, Richard had learned to train and do things to the best of his ability for his own edification. He let the TAC officer’s comments slide off like water from a duck’s back.
By this time, the technicians had removed the helmet off the nearest soldier. The soldier was a female. The technicians helped her to her feet. It was cadet 215. She seemed a little shaken, but otherwise she was unhurt. Richard was glad. He liked her. She was a hard worker and probably the best cadet in the class. If given the chance, she would make a good wizard scout. Richard wasn’t sure she’d get the chance now. The simulation was the final test to determine advancement to the next four years of training at the Academy. Richard’s class had started out with eight hundred and thirty-two students. After two years of pre-Academy training, the class had been winnowed down to four hundred and thirty-two cadets. In this final simulation, two quads of four cadets each had entered the training zone. The rules had been simple. Whichever quad defeated their opponents would continue on to four years of training at the Academy. The cadets who were unfortunate enough to be defeated were immediately transferred out of the training brigade. They were shipped off to standard line units as buck privates unless they had prior military service. Richard didn’t think it was a very fair system.
“Cadet 832,” said TAC Officer Myers, “you will turn in your equipment and confine yourself to your room until further notice. Do you understand, cadet?”
“Sir! Cadet 832 understands, sir!”
Richard picked up his phase rod and double timed to the equipment turn-in point. He hastily removed his leather armor and laid it on the vehicle’s tailgate along with his phase rod.
“You broke my phase rod,” said Sergeant Hendricks good-naturedly. “Now what’d you go and do a thing like that for?”
“Sir! Just the battery, sir!” Richard answered standing at a stiff attention. He liked Sergeant Hendricks. Rumor was the old noncom just liked being an armorer. Every time headquarters tried to promote him, he would do something to get busted back to sergeant so he could stay in his beloved armory. In any other unit, he would probably have been thrown in the brig or kicked out of the military. But, Sergeant Hendricks was renowned for creating unique weaponry for wizard scouts. As a result, the upper-echelon officers pretty much left him alone. Even the TAC officers tried to stay on his good side. After all, a wizard scout with a defective weapon was a dead wizard scout.