Weird Space 2: Satan's Reach

Weird Space 2: Satan's Reach by Eric Brown Read Free Book Online

Book: Weird Space 2: Satan's Reach by Eric Brown Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Brown
Tags: Science-Fiction, Space Opera
was too shocked to respond. Blood trickled from the wound in her shoulder. He made a snap decision and took the tunnel to the left. He ran, pulling Zeela after him. To his dismay he realised, seconds later, that the ground was sloping downwards. To make matters worse he heard fluting sounds from up ahead. Before he could turn and retrace his steps a dozen Ajantans rounded a corner, stopped in surprise, and then came at him.
    He fired a dozen darts, wondering how many the rifle held. The aliens screamed, three fell and the others came after him. He fired again, spraying darts right and left. Beyond the first group of aliens, another dozen Ajantans appeared – some of them armed. They pushed past their compatriots and fired at Harper and Zeela.
    He pulled her to the ground and returned fire, hitting the armed aliens as darts whistled over his head. He heard the fluting calls of even more Ajantans further ahead, leapt to his feet and dragged Zeela back the way they had come. At the end of the tunnel he made a sharp u-turn where the initial tunnel forked. He rounded the bend and sprinted along the second corridor, expecting this one to rise...
    He should have known, given his recent run of luck, that it would do no such thing. The tunnel was descending further into the hellish bowels of the planet.
    He heard scuffling sounds behind him. A posse of aliens was giving chase, but the fact that they hadn’t fired yet suggested they weren’t armed. He turned and fired as he ran, slowing them down. Glowbugs were positioned at more regular intervals now, which suggested they were approaching a more populous area of the lair.
    Seconds later, hard on this thought, yet more aliens appeared up ahead. This delegation, he saw with sapping dread, was armed – and armed not with dart guns, but with the wide-muzzled incendiary rifles.
    He slid to a halt, Zeela panting beside him. Behind them, he was aware of the following aliens edging closer.
    He raised his rifle and fired – or rather tried to. The rifle clicked, spent. Crying out, he turned it quickly and gripped its barrel, intending to use it, in the last resort, as a club.
    The three leading aliens halted and raised their weapons – something almost human in their arrogant postures of triumph.
    Then another alien moved around the trio, this one bearing a dart gun. It halted and raised its weapon...
    So he and Zeela would be tranquilised again, and no doubt monitored so that they could not attempt another escape... and then they would be carried to the pleasure cavern and...
    He pulled Zeela to him. “I’m sorry,” he said.
    He would launch himself at the alien armed with the tranquiliser in one last, desperate effort. Even if it failed to effect their escape, he would go down fighting.
    Harper raised his makeshift club and was about to attack when a great roaring sound, the rushing, pounding cacophony of a tsunami, filled the tunnel. A second later the noise was accompanied by a staggering typhoon – like the back-blast of a starship’s maindrive – which skittled the aliens and pushed Harper and Zeela backwards. The howl raged, hot and inexorable and laced with excoriating particles of grit and dust. Harper covered his eyes and battled forward against the raging storm, laughing out loud in manic delight.
    He could smell expended solid fuel and charged particles and the unmistakable reek of displaced, ionised air... and it was the finest perfume in the universe.
    They stepped on the bodies of prostate Ajantans, crunching bones, stumbling once or twice but keeping their feet. He dragged an insensate Zeela after him. The headwind was abating, and with it the howling roar, and it could only be a matter of seconds before the tumbled aliens regained their feet and gave chase.
    “What...?” Zeela cried, in response to his laughter.
    “Salvation is what!” he yelled in return. “We’re saved, girl! Saved!”
    The tunnel widened and a minute later they staggered into what had

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