No, this has nothing to do with John Carter. The picture is meant as inspiration and tone-setting. If it’s your pic and you want it removed, let me know.
CHASE, PLEX, and their newfound “frenemy,” Princess ARDELIA began their escape from the central fortress of the Trindando. Chase managed to disarm the reptilian guards through a dazzling display of swordsmanship…but there would be more soldiers on their way to reckon with. If they were going to make their move, it had to be now…
Out the window they went. Using the “rope line” Ardelia and Plex formed from tablecloths, curtains, bedsheets, and any other linen not nailed down in the stateroom, they began to repel down the rounded side of the stone fortress. As he pushed away from the wall with legs, again and again and again, Chase began to sense something strange on his skin and in his head. The air seemed to crackle with an energy.
“Funny,” Chase said as his nose sniffed. “Do you feel that electrical sensation? I smell something like ozone, too.”
“Yes,” Ardelia said. “And it’s not a good thing.”
The beautiful green woman released her grip on the cloth line and dropped to a hard roof. From there she sprang to the street below and landed with a bound. Chase and Plex followed in her movements and hit street level as well. That’s when the first laser blast hit, sending dirt, rock, and yes Chase and Plex, up into the air.
“They’re shooting at us!” Chase said, picking himself up from the ground.
“Indeed,” Plex said. “And for what reason? I daresay they don’t even know us.”
“No, I mean how?” Chase asked. “All I’ve seen them carry are swords and spears. They’re not supposed to have weapons that…”
And that’s when he saw it: a laser cannon turret atop the fortified wall swiveling toward their direction.
“Run!” Ardelia barked.
The cannon fired once again and both Chase and Plex did as Ardelia said. They managed to clear the minimum safe radius from the blast. Many Trindando ran as well in the streets and marketplaces, their governors seeming to give no care for their safety as they continued to blast away with the laser cannon.
“That sensation you had?” Ardelia asked Chase as they ran. “It was the cannons charging. Come on!”
Ardelia turned a corner and down a narrow pathway between two buildings. She found an iron grate in the ground and lifted it free from its place. Heaving it aside, she jumped into the ensuing dark hole.
“Sir, should we trust where she’s taking us?” Plex asked.
A third laser blast boomed into the street and many Trindando shrieked.
“Do we have a choice?” Chase asked.
He followed Ardelia into the dark.
Soon all three were making their way through a dim subterranean tunnel of hewn rock.
“This city is ancient,” Ardelia said without looking at either of them. “The Trindando have tunnels down here that they’ve long since forgotten about. A few were built by their rulers as a means of escape should calamity strike. Others for conveyance that would offer shelter from the heat of Zaslone. And others still with purposes and locations long since forgotten. Except to my father, King Corloss. Our people have mapped many of these catacombs right under the scaly noses of the Trindando. That’s how I came to be a…guest of theirs.”
“I don’t follow,” Chase said.
They kept walking and the light grew dimmer. Chase found himself struggling to still see Ardelia’s facial expressions due to her deep green skin tone in the growing darkness.
“For all their faults, the Trindando have a rich and fascinating culture,” she said. “I study archaeology and history at university. I wanted to see the ancient structures of their city for myself, maybe even get to examine their fabled artwork. For my intellectual curiosity, I was rewarded with an ambush from a Trindando patrol.”
“But it’s so refreshing to find someone risking themselves for mental expansion,” Plex said. “For all we know, it’s outlawed by now in the galaxy.”
The rocky, crumbly ground soon became structured in a cobblestone pattern. Chase looked about and saw that the tunnel displayed all the hallmarks of masonry and design, like a passageway in a castle.
“Yes, I suppose we’re all fugitives now,” Ardelia said. “But I am going home and that has value in and of itself. Tell me, Chase Danner. This ‘Allegiant’ you spoke of. Would you not consider working out a peace with it so that you might go home again as well?”
Chase gritted his teeth.
“And live under the boot heel of that scumbag Monarch? Never,” he said.
An archway came into sight ahead and beyond it a staircase that turned downward.
“Never,” Ardelia mocked. “Such an absolute word.”
“Quiet!” Chase hushed.
He drew the sword that he purloined from the soldier back at the fortress.
“Something moved ahead of us…”
TO BE CONTINUED…
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