Brian W. Antoine
May 23, 1993
I'd been working inside the ship when the first attack had struck. I had been wiring a console when an energy beam had vaporized the cockpit of the Sunbeam, centered where I had been standing a few seconds earlier. The only thing that had saved me was the training I had undergone to develop my magical defense reflexes. Without even thinking I had brought up both my environment and defensive fields, and that was all that kept me alive as I was sucked out into the lunar vacuum. Before I'd even had time to look around, a second beam had struck the rear of the ship and I'd teleported at random as I sensed the containment fields of the main power plant fail.
Since then I'd been on the run constantly. I'd had no food other then what I could grab on the run and I'd had no sleep at all. The whole time I'd been jumping at random, never staying put for more than an hour before my pursuer would track me down and attack. I had also been on my own from almost the start. My first jump had been to the main lab under Antoine Peak, since it was the best defended of all the places I could call my own. That first jump had almost finished the job my unknown assailant had started. The best defenses I'd ever constructed had not even slowed him or her down.
The lab was gone, all that remained was a crater. Of Penny and the vault that should have protected her against anything short of a nuclear warhead, nothing remained. The lab, the gate to Velar that would have been my last hope of escape, and the intelligence that could have been my sister, were now particles scattered into the wind. I'd almost stopped right there and dropped my defenses to await my fate, but something deep inside had refused to give up.
That had been three long days ago. Since then I'd laid countless traps. Only to have them sprung or ignored with a kind of disdain that defied explanation. Someone was tracking me with an ease that I could neither explain nor confound. Nothing I had tried had stopped my pursuer or even slowed them down for more than a few hours at a time.
Now, even that kind of effort was beyond me. The last few hours I had been reduced to just random jumps as I sensed an attack being launched. I had been so long without sleep that I could no longer think clearly enough to plan a counter attack. I was caught in a game of Cat and Mouse, and my part had been chosen for me.
At the moment I was sitting under a tree, high on a cliff in what I thought was the Amazon basin, though I wasn't sure. My last jump had been real shaky and I had almost finished the job someone else had started. With a weary sigh, I extended my senses to scan the immediate area. Several times I had been able to sense my pursuer though I had yet to see just who it was that was chasing me even after all this time. I also had the terrible suspicion that who ever it was, no longer cared if I sensed their approach. I had long since exhausted myself trying to generate enough energy to destroy my opponent. I could not have lit a candle. Much less generated any kind of attack.
So I sat there. Trying to clear my head enough to sense the attack that would come and pull together enough energy to make the next jump. I leaned out over the cliff and looked around. Maybe I could locate a cave that would give me a few extra minutes of rest, but a quick look around showed nothing but rocks and a few trees. I had just started to nestle back under the tree when the next attack came.
I didn't have time to teleport. The blast had been aimed to strike the area behind me instead of directly at me. The force of the explosion launched me, and a good portion of the cliff top, up and over the edge of the cliff. Dead tired I might have been, but my training held. As I started to fall, I felt the familiar tingle of my flight field spring in existence. It didn't help.
Before I had a chance to do much more then slow my fall, a second energy beam snapped out and caught me dead center. The flight field and the meager defenses I'd brought up, vanished like a moth in a blowtorch and I found myself in freefall. Seconds later I struck the side of the cliff and began a long tumble to the bottom. I don't remember much of the fall except for the part where I started to tumble and stuck out my arm to try to stop my fall. Arms are fragile things, my right arm snapped and I blacked out from the pain.
When I came to, I remember thinking that I should have been dead. One look at the bone sticking out of my arm, and the blood pouring out on the ground around me, made me wish I was. Even then though, I tried to get to me feet and find cover. I didn't even manage to sit up before the pain almost made me black out again. As I collapsed backwards, I finally resigned myself to my death. I was far beyond being able to teleport and wasn't sure whether I could generate the effort to even sit up. As I lay there, I heard something descending from the top of the cliff. I could hear whoever it was chuckle to themselves as they approached and as they got close I tried to turn to get my first look at the person who was going to kill me.
* * *
"Hey! You fall asleep under there?"
"Huh?" Before I was even awake, I sat straight up and tried to force my head through the underside of the console I'd been working on. It took a few moments of pain and several minutes of cussing before I realized where I was. Floating in front of me was one of Pennys remotes.
"What happened? Is the lab still intact? Are you ok?"
"What do you mean, am I ok? I hadn't heard anything from you for a couple of hours and then you started screaming. When I got here, you looked like you had fallen asleep and were having a nightmare."
I looked around me. The ship, the lab and Penny were all intact. Getting to my feet, I walked over to the command chair and collapsed. "Yeah, you might call it that."
"Look, you have been working twenty hour days trying to get this ship operational and it's getting to you. I can work twenty-four hours a day, but you can't! If you don't get some sleep, your going to drive your self crazy."
I thought about the dream I'd just had, though even as I tried to remember it, it slipped away. "You know, you might be right." I got up, and exiting the ship I headed for the main lab and home. "I'm going to hit the sack and I don't want to be disturbed for the next two days. If anything comes up just vaporize it and leave me a note."
"You sure your ok?"
I looked over at the vault that held Penny as I stepped up to the gate that would take me home. "Your still here right?"
"Then I'll be fine after I get some sleep. Just be thankful that you don't ever have to dream ..."