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THE CORPSES IN THE TOOLROOM
Kilgour said, “I cannae bloody see.”
Stifling a groan, Sten turned his head in the direction of Alex’s voice. He felt dizzy. Confused. With great difficulty, he pondered Kilgour’s dilemma.
Finally, all he could think to say was: “Have you tried opening your eyes?”
He sensed movement. A large body shifting. Joints cracking. Then: “Ouch!”
“Stuck a bloody finger in me peeper.” A pause, then, “Who shut off the clottin’ lights?”
Sten laughed and was immediately sorry. His body felt like it had been hit with a planet buster. He considered Alex’s question a moment, then remembered.
“That would be me,” he said. “When they jumped us I just had time enough to cut a handy power cable.”
Even though he couldn’t see his friend’s face, Sten sensed confusion easily equal to his own.
“When who jumped us?” Kilgour said. “Last thin’ Ah remember is arguin’ aboot who should drive the gravsled.
“Then you don’t remember Mahoney?” Sten asked.
Another long pause. Finally: “Oh, aye. Th’ wee colonel. We were supposed tae meet up fur orders. Somethin’ abit some mutineers.”
“We had the meeting,” Sten said, recalling same. “And we got our orders.”
Alex sighed. “Ah don’t quite recollect. Are we supposed tae kill th’ puir buggers? If so, we’ve got tae catch them first.”
Sten said, “We weren’t supposed to kill anybody. Not yet, at any rate. This was just supposed to be a recon job. Meet a barkeep. Get some intel. Maybe set a trap.”
Another groan as Alex shifted his bulk. He said, “Mah puir bones say we must’ve started on th’ meetin’ part ay the business.”
“Your bones would be correct,” Sten said. “When we get some light on the subject, you’ll find a few bodies crammed in here with us. Two of them have crushed larynxes. That was you. The other sports a second mouth. In her neck. That was me."
“When I cut the power cable I also managed to cut someone's throat before I blacked out. My back is sticky, so I’m assuming I’m lying in the scrote’s blood.”
Silence. Sten hoped his heavy-worlder friend was coming out of his drug-induced state and was starting to get a handle on things.
“What do we do next, wee Sten?” he finally asked.
Before Sten could answer a red pinlight blinked into life just above his head. His com unit buzzed then he heard Ida’s voice in his ear. She was cursing a blue steak. “Drakh and fall back in it. I’ve been trying to roust you two scrotes out for two small forevers.”
“Well, now you’ve got us,” Sten said. “The only problem is we don’t know where the clot we are. Our minds seem to be stuffed with mud."
Ida grunted. “Something much worse and smellier is more likely,” she said. “Actually, they hit you with a couple of hypoguns. Nothing life threatening. But you might be missing some of your short term memory for awhile.”
She fell silent for a moment and Sten could imagine her aboard the The Storm punching in numbers. Mental correction. The Storm was still in the yard. Ida would be aboard their new ship, the Jo’l Cash.
“So where the clot are we?” Sten asked.
Ida said, “You’re in a tool shed about three levels below the bar where you started out.”
“But what about the mutineers?” Sten asked. “The guys Snilch told us about.”
“Snilch?” Alex broke in. “Who the clot is Snilch?”
Ida ignored him. She said: “Hello! Anybody home. Oh, for drakh’s sake, don’t you get it, Sten? We’ve been conned. Snookered. Flimflammed. Snilch was lying through that little twisted beak of his.”
Silence as Sten took this in and Alex tried to come up to speed. A little more memory filtered in and Sten suddenly had an awful feeling.
“Ah, drakh,” he groaned. “Those beings we killed? By any chance were they….”
“Himmenops,” Ida finished for him. “A squad of Venatora’s superwomen.”
“How in hell-“
Once again Ida broke through. “Never mind the how,” Ida said. “It’ll come to you by and by. Meanwhile, I’m sure you’ll recall that those Himmenops have many largish sisters with pissy moods at the best of times. And right now they are on the way looking for paybacks.”
For a crazy, heat-filled moment Sten thought of asking if Venatora was with them. Instead he said, “Then you’d better hurry and get us the clot out of here.”
“Roger, that,” Ida said. Sten imagined her fingers flying across keys as she made the patch. Then she intoned: “Let there be light.”
Suddenly the darkness vanished to be replaced by glaring yellow lights beaming from the ceiling.
“Ouch,” Alex said, rubbing his eyes. “Th’ lass has nae gentleness in her. She jist hits ye an’ goes about her merry way.”
Sten found himself in a hidey-hole that he only vaguely recalled. There was no doubt that it was a tool room – it was crowded with benches and machines and various mechanical devices. The room was small – there was barely space for Sten and his heavy-worlder companion - whose bulk filled one whole side - much less the ghastly remains of their companions.
Crammed next to Alex were two very dead Himmenops. Even in death their musculature was such that Sten couldn’t imagine that anyone – even Alex – could have bested them in a hand-to-hand fight. But the odd tilt of their necks told the tale.
Next to Sten was another Himmenops, her nearly naked body twisted in her last desperate efforts to breathe. A bloody second mouth gaped below her chiseled chin. Sten remembered carving that second mouth just before he went under.
With difficulty, he climbed to his knees and reached for the airlock’s wheel. It refused to turn. Sten shrugged, flexed his wrist just so and his knife leaped from its fleshy sheath in his arm and his fingers curled around its slender haft.
Anticipating his actions, Ida said, “Unless you’re suited up, better drop the idea of cutting yourself out of your little home away from home. When the others fled, they dumped the atmosphere.”
Alex spoke up. “Cheers for the warnin’, darlin’.”
“Don’t call me darling,” Ida snapped.
“Oh, aye,” Alex said. “Ah was thinkin’ on anither word, but thought it micht be impolite.”
He was sitting up now, pushing one body onto the other to give himself more room. He rolled his shoulders and cracked his knuckles.
“Ah’m Red Rory of th’ toolroom,” he intoned.
“Who the clot is Red Rory?” Ida asked.
Sten jumped in. “Shut up, Ida,” he pleaded. “Or he’ll tell you. In infinite detail. Now, about your plans to get us the clot out of here.”
Ida said, “I’ve tracked the atmospheric supply network and will have that fixed in a minute or two. And I’ve got three of our Marines on the way.”
Kilgour frowned. “Marines? We have Marines?” Then light dawned. “Oh, aye. We hae a full crew ay squadies noo, don’t we?” he said. “They’ll be makin’ ye a full admiral affair ye ken it, wee Sten.”
Sten couldn’t help but grin. He’d felt a little otherwordly when command of the sleek Radoslaw class fighter had been turned over to him. The Jo’l Cash had a crew of 75, missile batteries, chainguns – all the things a young being would pine for when headed into combat.
Of course, he didn’t have the faintest idea how to run the ship, so it also came with a captain, complete with graying hair, steely eyes, and an attitude that plainly showed that she did not appreciate having to take orders from a mere lieutenant who was about the age of her twenty-something son. She was also incompetent as clot. It was the captain, after all, who had gotten them into this mess.
In Sten’s experience incompetent people, stupid people, knew their flaws and resented the clot out of anyone with even a gram of ability, and took it out on them every chance they could.
Ida’s voice broke through. “You there, Sten?”
“For better or worse,” Sten said.
“Well, you’d better come up with something fast,” Ida said, “or this whole exercise will be a complete waste.”
“Cheers fur remindin’ us, mah wee tub of Rom,” Alex said. He patted the cheek of one of the corpses. “An’ here we waur thinkin’ evr’thin’ was hunky dory.”
NEXT: THE GOD BOX
THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions.
NEWLY REVISED KINDLE EDITIONS OF THE TIMURA TRILOGY NOW AVAILABLE. (1) When The Gods Slept;(2) Wolves Of The Gods; (3) The Gods Awaken.
Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.
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A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.
LUCKY IN CYPRUS:
A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA
LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher.
He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.
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Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
- "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
- "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus.
- "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com
NEW: THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF
THE HATE PARALLAX
THE HATE PARALLAX: What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)
THE SPYMASTER'S DAUGHTER:
A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan
After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm ravaged night.
BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization.
TALES OF THE BLUE MEANIE
NOW AN AUDIOBOOK!
Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is "The Blue Meanie," a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.