❯ The Daughter – Escape or is it? ( Chapter 11 )
There was a roar from the Pool, as the Hork-Bajir realized they were free. And then screams as they attacked the Controllers. I quickly unlocked the door and stepped out into the hallway. People were running everywhere, with no sense of organization whatsoever. I shook my head. Without someone giving orders, there was nothing but chaos.
Two Hork-Bajir came running up to me. One, with a purple hair tie around his wrist, was obviously Daren. The other, slightly taller, Hork-Bajir was obviously Alloran.
<We need to get out of here,> Daren said, scanning the madness of the corridor. I nodded.
<There�s a small office just off the Bug fighters hangar,> Alloran said, pointing with one arm. <I�ll lead,>
We followed Alloran down the corridor. Adrenaline mixed with elation that our plan was working.
Maybe, if I�d been clear headed and paying attention, I might have noticed the single human following us.
We ran down the hall, and to the left. In mere minutes, we had reached the office. We scanned the landing field, and Alloran swore. All the Bug fighters were surrounded by fighting. There was no way we were ever going to be able to get to one of them.
<I think we outsmarted ourselves,> I said with grim humour.
<Maybe not…> Daren said, his voice thoughtful. He was staring over to the left. I followed his line-of-sight….and saw it. The answer to our prayers. Totally deserted, out in the middle of it�s own field.The Blade Ship of Visser Three.
I turned to Alloran. <Can you fly that thing?>
He smiled tightly. If you ever want to see a strange expression, look at a Hork-Bajir smiling tightly. <Can Taxxons eat?> he asked, rhetorically.
We ran up the boarding ramp and into the ship.
None of us noticed who followed behind.
We ran to the bridge. Alloran demorphed and went to the controls. We quickly lifted off, and headed out of the spaceport.
With everything else that was going on, I don�t think they even noticed that we left.
As we lifted out of the stratosphere, I turned to Daren.
<I�m going to go back there and demorph,> I said, jerking my head back towards the door to the bridge.
<Okay. I�ll call you if there�s a problem.>
I walked out into the hallway. I demorphed and got dressed quickly. I turned to go back to the bridge…. and found myself staring at the muzzle of a dracon beam, held by a human man.
I opened my mouth to call for help.
�Make a sound,� the man said, in a flat, calm voice, �and you�re charcoal.�
I shut my mouth. Four Hork-Bajir came up from behind the man. He pointed at the door to the bridge.
�In,� he ordered. I walked over to the door. It slid open and the man pushed me inside.
�Alloran,� I said, trying to keep my voice calm, and not succeeding very well. It throbbed with tension. Alloran turned, and saw me. And the people behind me. His eyes immediately went to the human holding the dracon beam.
�Make one move towards her,� he said to both Alloran and Daren, �and the girl dies.�
Alloran�s whole body tensed, like he wanted to attack, but he stayed where he was.
The human laughed. �Did you really think you could get away that easily, Alloran? I not an idiot.�
<That is a matter of opinion, Esplin,> Alloran said spat back. I drew in a quick breath. Esplin 9466. Visser Three. <I still have the upper hand. If I choose to crash this ship…>
�If you do that, you�ll die,� Esplin pointed out.
<And you think that matters?> Alloran said, contempt in his voice.
�But not only that,� Esplin continued, �the human children will die as well. That is what matters, Alloran. You don�t want the blood of more innocents on your hands.�
For a moment, I didn�t understand. Then it hit me. Alloran had, on the Hork-Bajir planet, unleashed the quantum virus. Because of him, millions of innocents had died. Over forty years of slavery would have given him time to realize what he�d done. And he had made a decision. No more innocents would die because of him.
�Visser!� one of the Hork-Bajir called, �the situation on-planet is getting out of hand! They�re calling for reinforcements!�
Esplin thought for a moment. �Land the ship on the sixth planet,� he ordered Alloran. �I�ll stun the three of you and lock you in the cargo hold, and take this ship back. Land the ship.�
Alloran glared hatred at the Yeerk for a moment, then moved to the controls. Anyone watching would have thought that he was completely defeated. Appearances can be deceiving.
<Loren,> he said quietly, in private thoughtspeak. It took all my self control not to jump. <Loren,> he repeated, <when I land the ship, I will land it hard enough to knock everyone off balance. When I do, attack Esplin. Daren and I will take care of the Hork-Bajir, but you are the only one close enough to attack the Visser. The planet we are about to land on has breathable atmosphere, and close to Earth-normal gravity. We only have one chance to do this.>
I nodded, ever so slightly, and readied myself, crouching slightly and tensing. I felt the ship go down, through the atmosphere. Down, down. Down.
And then, with no warning at all, we hit. The Hork-Bajir lost their balance and fell. Esplin wavered, and I jumped at him. Grabbing the arm that held the dracon beam, I slammed it against the wall. Esplin howled and dropped the beam. Out of pure chance, one of the Hork-Bajir stepped on it as he was getting up, crushing it.
Esplin whirled at me, his eyes full of unreasoning hate. I turned and ran, down the hall, and to the main hatch.
�Open!� I yelled at the door. It slid open, and I threw myself through. The first thing that hit me was the cold. It was incredibly cold on this planet, at least where we were. There was snow on the ground, water-snow, not some strange element. I turned back to the ship, just in time to see Esplin dive out after me. I backed away, surveying my fighting ground while keeping an eye on Esplin.
Alloran had landed the ship on a small plateau. It was roughly circular, and all around, there was a hundred and fifty-foot drop. We circled each other. I ran over the exercises our defence teacher taught us, for calm and focus.
Esplin broke first, and rushed me. I managed to evade the attack, but only just. I was worried. You know how everyone says that it�s better to be faster, rather than bigger? Well, the host that Esplin controlled at the
moment was both faster, and bigger. I was in trouble.
I couldn�t morph. When you morph, there are at least ten seconds when you are totally vulnerable. Ten seconds would be all Esplin needed.
From inside the ship, we could both hear the sounds of fighting. I prayed that Daren and Alloran were winning that fight.
I made the mistake of flicking my eyes towards the ship, taking my attention off Esplin for a split second. He attacked, knocking me over and to the edge of the plateau. He had me on my back, with my head over the
edge. Over a one hundred and fifty-foot drop.
�Surrender,� he said through clenched teeth. �Surrender or die.�
I tried to kick up, but I couldn�t. There was no way for me to get out of this.
Or was there? I looked backwards over the edge. The fall would kill me. But so what? I was dead anyway. And maybe, this way, my death would do some good.
�Surrender!� Esplin repeated.
�You wish!� I yelled back, and threw all my strength into one last movement.
I threw my knees forwards, over my head, flipping my self and Esplin over the cliff.
I screamed, and so did he. He grabbed at my arm, and I pushed him away.
And we fell. The ground got larger and larger, nearer and nearer. I closed my eyes…. and I hit the ground, and blackness claimed me.