Drake's Sword Part Seven

The Conclusion

 

“Doctor Bourne’s going to let me and Simon watch movies all day tomorrow,” Raymond told Drake later that day. “He’s got all the Bond movies and some of the new Doctor Who remakes.”

“Sounds like you two got along great,” Drake said grinning. They were sitting on the benches at the top of the Town Center, looking out at the ocean. “Think you two will be good friends?”

“I hope so. Simon’s pretty cool. Did you meet anyone in town?”

“Yeah, this kid who showed me around. I think we’ll get along okay.”

Drake and Raymond watched as the suns began their ascent, one following the other like a faithful companion. In western sky the red moon was slowly emerging, casting an eerie violet haze as its light merged with the smaller blue moon.

“Simon told me you can see Earth when both moons are completely full.” Raymond shrugged. “But I guess that’s not for another month or so.”

“After all this I don’t think I’m too eager to see Earth again,” Drake said, wryly. As the sky grew darker he let out a yawn. “Think I’m going to turn in.”

“Pleasant dreams.”

***

Sirens blared within the city. Startled, Drake threw off the covers and sat up. Raymond was all ready up looking out the window as lights from the City 5 police vehicles raced the streets below them.

“What’s going on?” Drake asked, groggily.

“I don’t know.” Raymond answered.

“This is City 5 Security to all citizens,” a voice came over the PA system. “The city limits have been breached. Do not panic but remain where you are and be on special alert.”

Drake and Raymond exchanged glances, then, getting dressed in their clothes from last night, left the Temp Wing.

“Lets see if Doctor Bourne is still here,” Drake said, hitting the button on the elevator.

The medical floors were a riot with nurses trying to keep patients calm and doctors and security officers going over protocol. They ran into Erika in the children’s wing. Her hair was a mess and her nurse’s scrubs were disheveled.

“You guys shouldn’t be running around after hours,” She snapped, angrily. “There are rules here you know.”

“Chill out,” Drake snapped back. “We’re looking for Doctor Bourne, or someone who can tell us what’s going on here.”

“Well he’s busy making sure the building is safe from intruders. Look, if you’re going to be here make yourselves useful. Raymond, go up to the quarantine wing and make sure Simon’s all right. Drake, go downstairs and if anyone comes in tell them to come up to the first floor if they’re hurt, it’s a triage facility and we have people ready to treat injuries, if not just tell them-“

“What injuries?” Drake interrupted. “What’s going on here?”

“Did you hear the announcement or what?” Another nurse called for Erika. Erika sighed. “Look, go downstairs and help out or go back to the Temp Wing. I don’t have time for this.”

Erika rushed off leaving Drake frustrated. Someone downstairs had to know what was going on, so he followed Raymond back to the elevator. Doctor Noel and one of her colleagues were all ready on it. Unlike Erika, Doctor Noel looked like she had been ready for something like this all night. She regarded them somewhat brusquely.

“What are you two doing?”

“I-uh, Erika asked me to help out. I’m going downstairs to let people know where to get help.” Drake explained, somewhat shaken by her demeanor.

“And she asked me to keep Simon company,” Raymond explained, unfaltering.

“Very well.” Doctor Noel turned to her colleague. “They couldn’t have gotten past the banderlats, the guards sprayed it down thoroughly.”

“What about the repellant? Our experimental batch went missing yesterday.”

“No one couldn’t have gotten away with that many vials in so short a time. My guess is Ely and his men managed to kill a banderlat.”

Raymond’s floor came up first. He hopped off and said good-bye to Drake. As the elevator rose to the laboratory floors Drake continued to pretend he wasn’t eavesdropping.

“But if they did get a hold of the repellant there’s no telling what kind of damage they would do. Ely’s a smart one, if he could get a hold of the attractant than you know what he’d use it for.”

“I know. And I wish I could get the police to keep an eye on my sister’s house but they’re spread pretty thin.”

Doctor Noel went silent, as if sensing that she had said too much in Drake’s earshot. Drake kept his mouth shut, but clearly remembered the conversation he’d had with Trinity the morning before.

The doctors exited the elevator and Drake rode the elevator back to the first floor, wondering if he’d be able to pull off a disappearing act.

On the first floor people who were out for a late walk or working the nightshift crowded the lobby confused, frightened and agitated. The secretary and security guards tried to calm everyone down, and Drake jumped in letting people know where to go if they needed help.

Drake was about to give up hope of getting out of there at all, when a familiar face showed up in the crowd. It was the councilman who had asked him about the sword. He was also trying to assist in calming the crowd when he noticed Drake.

“Well hello there.” He said when the crowd died down a bit. “I really appreciate the help. I’m sure the police will reign in the chaos before it gets out of hand.”

“Sir, what’s going on?” Drake asked as politely as he could manage. “I overheard Doctor Noel say something about repellant, and that Ely might have killed a banderlat to get over the bridge, and-“

“Calm down son. I’m Mr. Patterson, I run the farms outside the city.” Mr. Patterson lowered his voice. “A dead banderlat gives off a nasty smell that frightens the others away. The scientists have been working on a kind of banderlat mace, just incase one of the males ever gets loose and tries to hurt someone.”

“But if anyone wanted to use it to get into the city all they’d have to do is either kill a banderlat or spray the bridge down,” Drake summed up, rolling his eyes at the simplicity of it. “Listen, Mr. Patterson, someone should be watching Sherry Noel and her family. I helped her to escape from Ely and made him look like an ass in front of his gang. If this is his game I’m sure he’d go after her.”

Mr. Patterson sighed.

“I know your heart is in the right place. Believe me, I wish I could help you-“

“All I need is my sword. Please, help me get my sword and if I get in trouble for anything I won’t mention you helped me.”

“If I get caught helping you I could be voted off the council.”

“And if Sherry dies I doubt Doctor Noel will be much use to the council.” Drake looked into the old man’s eyes. “Just give me the chance. I can’t just sit here knowing I can do something.”

Mr. Patterson was deep in thought for a long time. A hoversled pulled to a stop outside. Drake noticed the guard who entered the building, and recognized him as the one who drove them into town the first day.

“Councilman Patterson,” He said, exasperated. “We were able to get your wife and children to the safety of the shelters. A few of the intruders have been captured and we have confirmed that Ely is in fact the ringmaster.”

“Excellent work,” Mr. Patterson responded. “Jude, how thin is our force spread out there?”

“Not so thin that we can’t control the menace,” Jude answered, lowering his voice. “But I’m afraid we haven’t gotten all of the people off the streets. Ely and his men are pretty ruthless and the damage is bound to be…”

Jude trailed off. Drake focused on Mr. Patterson as the man thought in silence. As he seemed to be ready to make a decision, Drake’s heart pounded with anticipation.

“Take young Drake here. Get his sword from the armory and equip him with a shield vest.”

“But sir, he’s a minor and-“

“You need help. Drake here clearly knows a thing or two about the intruders and he’s had combat experience. Get him suited up and take him out to the Noels property so he can keep an eye on them.”

Jude couldn’t refuse to follow orders. Reluctantly he motioned Drake to follow.

The hover vehicle’s armor shielding was pulled over the top. Drake got in the passenger side this time as the adrenaline flooded his system.

“Listen,” Jude said as he picked up speed towards the Armory. “You’ve got to be careful out here. That sword isn’t going to make you immortal so I hope you know what you’re doing.”

“I know I’m trying to earn my keep around here,” Drake said honestly. “After all, what better way to do it than by living up to the local legend.”

Jude glanced sideways at Drake. For a moment his expression was thoughtful, then his eyes returned to the road.

***

The Armory was located in a block of buildings nearest to the beach. An electric fence was erected around the campus, and at the front gate Jude had to enter a special number into a keypad before they were let in.

“This is Headquarters,” Jude explained. Once they were inside he lowered the shield armor and Drake could feel the calm breeze against his face. “That larger two story building is where the police, guards, and security personnel are trained. The smaller building next to it is Law Enforcement Tech. Shield vests, security systems, power cells, weapons, everything we have right now was developed and built there.”

Drake paid little attention. Somewhere Ely was waiting and the winds seemed to carry his rage and hatred. One way or the other, someone was going to die tonight.

“Here we are.” Jude parked outside a round squat building.

Inside the Armory was a system of storage spaces behind orange metallic doors. Digital marquees above the doors displayed the contents of each room, and the levels of security required to access them.

“We get a lot of knives, swords, and other stabbing weapons,” Jude explained. “Contraband mostly. Here we are.”

Jude entered another code into the pad and the doors slid open. Drake walked in and found glass cases full of crude knives and daggers, steel blades, and other sharp weapons. The swords were mounted on walls, all from various nations and time periods, all very impressive. But his sword stood out as it hung, blade facing downward.

“Go ahead.” Jude said. “We haven’t much time.”

Drake gripped the handle and slowly removed the sword from its place. Strangely, it didn’t seem as heavy this time.

***

Clouds were forming already, blocking out the light of the moons so that artificial light was the only thing illuminating the streets.

Jude took Drake out to the section of City 5 where many of the citizens kept their homes. Police and security set up a parameter around the area with frequent patrols in and out of the section.

Bedecked in a multi-polymer shield vest, and wearing a temporary deputy’s badge hot off the machine, Drake had instant access to the site.

“I still can’t believe you didn’t need authorization for this.” Drake commented, fidgeting with the badge idly.

“I’m a primary field trainer,” Jude explained. “With orders from the council I can deputize anyone I choose during an emergency situation. But if the council decides to fry me along with Patterson for this I’ll be busted down to crossing guard.”

“Calm down. Judge Gellar all ready said she’d want me for something like this. She’s a council member too, therefore Patterson’s decision is like another vote right?”

“Way to simplify things. But if you haven’t grasped the primary function of a council, all five members get a vote in the matter. And in the courtroom at that. Seriously you newcomers-“

“Legendary newcomers.” Drake cut Jude off with a sardonic grin.

Jude shook his head. “You’re gonna be a bad influence on my brother. There’s the house.”

Drake looked out at the house on the beach. It was a typical beachfront home, with the front half on the ground and the back supported by wooden beams.

“Go up to the house and knock,” Jude instructed. “State you’re security in a clear voice-“

But Drake was all ready out the door before Jude could finish. He knocked on steel door.

“Security!”

After a moment’s pause the door flew open and a grief stricken Trinity stepped out.

“Drake, oh my god!” She cried. “They came and grabbed Sherry.”

“What? Who?”

“Ely, Grover, and two other big men. Sherry was out on the beach a few hours earlier, still fuming over an argument she had with her mother. They came, kidnapped her and left a note on our doorstep. That’s when we called the police.”

The world seemed to spin beneath his feet as Drake’s blood boiled. Taking a few deep breaths he asked to see the note.

“We handed it to the police.” Trinity explained. “But you could probably guess what it said. Ely wants you or she dies, they’re waiting at the Styx River. Oh God, Drake he can’t be trusted, he’ll kill you both.”

“Are you and your family okay?” Drake asked. Trinity nodded reluctantly. “Then stay here. The police and the guards are getting things back under control. Don’t worry about Sherry.”

Without letting her reply Drake returned to the hovercraft. His expression was serious as he turned to Jude.

“You have to take me out to the Cheron Bridge.” He said, firmly. “I know that’s where Ely would have taken her and that’s where he wants me.”

“He may kill her if he sees me with you.” Jude pointed out.

“No, I don’t think so,” Drake said thoughtfully. “Ely’s very manipulative but he’s also an opportunist. A fully powered vehicle to get him wherever he wants to go in edition to your weapons will sweeten the deal. The trick is using his manipulative skills to our advantage.”

“Do you have a plan?”

“I’ll think one up as I go along.”

“Fair enough.”

On the way Jude instructed all units to avoid following him and not to arrive near the bridge until he gave a specific request for backup. This order was met with all kinds of resistance from every unit within distance, and Jude put up with it until he’d had enough and shut the radio off.

Drake laid out a straightforward, unsatisfactory first draft of a plan. Get the vehicle as close as possible to the bridge. Ely would likely be on the other side waiting for Drake to get to the middle.

Jude would cover his back, and then, only when it was clear that no one would ambush them from behind or front, would Jude show his surrender by lowering all of his weapons to the bridge.

From there, Drake would propose the trade for Sherry’s return. Only, knowing Ely’s pension for not keeping his promises, it was a bit difficult to tell what would happen from there.

“You realize you could get all three of us killed right?” Jude asked, slowing the vehicle down as they entered the forest near the bridge.

“You don’t trust me?”

“I don’t trust myself right now. I’m entering dangerous territory, at night, with dangerous people. No backup, one blaster rifle, and my partner’s a temporarily deputized trainee who’s only been on this planet a full day and a half Epsilon time. The daughter of City 5’s most respected scientist, and a councilwoman no less, hangs in the balance. And why am I taking this risk? Why am I risking my career and placing my faith in a feeble legend that rests in the minds of old farmers and desperate people?”

“Because you’re just as desperate as the rest of them,” Drake stated bluntly. “I know there’s a risk, but I also know its just as risky not to take the risk. It’s a lose/ lose situation but you’re following me along because you’re willing to believe, even if it costs you everything, that something other than blind faith is working here.”

Jude slowed to a stop a few feet from the bridge, and focused the headlights on the bridge. At the other end Ely and Grover stood, with Sherry held in place by Grover.

“Lets do it.” Drake stepped out of the hoversled first and removed the sword from beneath the backseat before approaching the bridge. Jude was behind him a second later with his blaster ready.

Ely approached, a sword similar to Drake’s only made of a darker metal poised and ready. The two stopped only a few feet from each other.

“This would be the time for a cliché remark wouldn’t it?” Ely commented, mechanically. “Like, we meet again.”

“How about something original,” Drake retorted, unflinchingly. “Like hurt Sherry and I’ll take out your heart.”

“Ah, Drake. Ever the rebel never satisfied with to placating the enemy. You could have made an excellent ally.” Ely glanced over Drake’s shoulder. “Is that Jude Morland? I noticed he placed his blaster down. Nice to see you planned this all out, only I had no interest in obtaining the sled or weapons.”

Drake refused to take his eyes off of Ely, but he was relieved to know that Jude was still with him.

“Like my sword?” Ely swiped the air a few times to show off. “They seem to forget the part of the legend where the hero had an enemy to fight. All heroes do, but in desperate times no one wants to remember it.”

“Times became desperate on this world when they started sending scum like you to Epsilon. Before that it was a thriving colony just like any other.”

“Perhaps. But then tell me Earth wasn’t better off itself, before governments, and lawyers, and corporations came into existence. Nothing lasts forever where human imperfection is concerned.”

Ely readied his sword and assumed a fighting stance.

“To the death. You win, Sherry goes free and you return home unharmed. I win; Sherry carries my child or dies. Am I forgetting anything…oh yes, the lovely opportunity you presented me with. Men!”

Drake didn’t need to turn around to know that some of Ely’s men, who had been waiting in the trees, were now surrounding Jude and the hoversled. It wasn’t like he hadn’t been expecting it. And he knew Ely’s comment about Sherry was an attempt to get him to slip up…wasn’t happening. He assumed his stance.

Ely struck first. Drake parried with both hands on the handle. Using the extra momentum he forced Ely back a few steps. Drake swung and caught Ely’s blade inches from his stomach. As the duel continued Jude pulled out his blaster and shot down two of his assailants before the others closed in on him.

Sherry tried to struggle against Grover but he kept his arm firmly around her chest while holding her arms with the other, keeping her from using her elbows.

Drake forced Ely to circle. This made Ely nervous, knowing that Jude was on the other side armed, even if he was busy with his own problems. Ely made a desperate lunge. Drake calmly stepped to the side and tripped him up. Ely hit the bridge hard and his sword skidded across the wooden planks. Drake waited as he flipped over, and then held the sword an inch from his throat.

“What were those conditions again?”

“You have to kill me first,” Ely answered, mockingly. He brought up his right leg, missing Drake’s groin but getting him in the stomach instead.

“Drake!” Sherry cried.

Drake recovered quickly as Ely got to his feet and retrieved his sword. Ely tried to catch Drake’s stomach by swiping upwards, but Drake jumped back, ignoring the pain and parrying Ely’s blow again.

“Enough!” Jude shouted, firing a warning shot above their heads.

Drake and Ely both turned in Jude’s direction, and noticed that Jude, while exhausted from his ordeal, managed to subdue his attackers. He approached them with his rifle armed and ready.

“Drake, step aside. Ely, give the order to hand Sherry over and we’ll let you leave.”

“Fuck that!” Ely shouted. “I’ll give the order to snap her neck of you don’t drop that rifle now.”

Ely’s guard was down. Drake swiped once, slicing Ely’s arm open causing blood to spray. Ely dropped the sword and grabbed the wound, screaming. In the excitement, Grover loosened his grip on Sherry giving her enough time to wrench one arm free and bring her elbow into his stomach.

Jude lowered his rifle so he could secure Ely. Grover recovered and knocked Sherry to the ground as he drew his own sword. In blind rage he charged. Jude looked up as the sound of leather boots banging against the wood rang loudly.

“Watch out!”

Drake spun around and raised his sword. He sliced through Grover’s stomach, spilling his blood and intestines. Then he made a horizontal swipe, cutting across his chest.

More in shocked than pain Grover dropped his sword and wrapped his arms around his stomach. With a glare at Drake that was quickly fading, Grover staggered over to the rail and used the last of his strength to jump into the river.

Drake looked down at the bridge, seeing all of the blood he had shed. He looked from the blade of his pale white sword, to Ely who sobbed quietly as Jude wrapped a torn shirtsleeve around his wound. Then at last, his eyes fell on Sherry, who was approaching Drake slowly.

A light drizzle began to fall. The rain, along with the cooling breeze was soothing and Drake ran his hands through his hair.

“That’s twice I owe you,” Sherry said when she was close enough.

“Heh. You seem to be suited to the damsel in distress role.”

“Yeah, well, don’t get used to it. How’s it going Jude?”

“Not bad Sherry,” Jude replied, sarcastically. “Lets get the hell out of here.”

Drake and Sherry laughed nervously, but no one objected.

***

Two days passed. Doctor Noel wasn’t as harsh on Sherry as everyone expected. She was, however, pissed with both Mr. Patterson and Drake’s actions. And that was mild compared to Judge Gellar’s fury.

Mr. Patterson was temporarily suspended from his duties, for making a high impact decision without consulting the rest of the council. Since Judge Gellar was the head of the council she now had two votes by proxy. Ely was being kept at the Headquarters’ medical facility for observation.

Drake and Sherry spent the two days reliving those events, unable to escape the people who were forced to wait in fear and wanted to know what was going on. The council suspected most of Drake’s temporary fame was due to Mr. Patterson and other believers of the old legend.

At last the excitement died down. Drake stood before the council once again, only this time Sherry, Trinity, Spade, Jude and Raymond were sitting in the seats behind him watching and waiting.

Judge Gellar maintained her professional demeanor, as did Doctor Noel, but Drake could see right through them. Doctor Bourne seemed entirely neutral in the matter, though it could have been more from impartiality than anything else. The remaining councilwoman, an older lady with curly red hair and a dark gray blouse named Mrs. Adler was also neutral. Like before the pages stood by, ready with the transcription machines.

“I’d like to state for the record, that I am not angry,” Judge Gellar began. “When I first heard of the events from two nights ago, I was angry with Ely for causing a disruption in our lives. I was angry with Mister Patterson for making such a rash decision, based on personal bias towards a century old colonial legend. And I was angry with you, Mister Caston, for taking such a bold and asinine risk with not only your life-but also the lives of Mister Morland and Miss Noel.

“But I have taken two days to think on this anger. And now that the anger has subsided, I can look at this from a more rational angle. Which is why I offer you the chance to explain yourself Mr. Caston. Explain what would make you do such a thing.”

“Sherry was in danger,” Drake said simply.

“Is that all?”

“No. No, that isn’t all.” Drake took a deep breath. “Everyone was in danger that night not just Sherry. When Ely was able to figure out how to get into the city, past the banderlats, that’s when I realized something. And it had nothing to do with your legend.

“These people, all of you, have comforted yourselves in the idea that you’re safe on this little peninsula called City 5. Ely is far from the worse threat this city has to face. When those gangs in the east are done killing each other they’ll eventually find their way out here. And every banderlat on the planet won’t be able to stop them.

“Going out there to fight Ely and try to rescue Sherry was a risk, a major risk. But as I see it, I was the only one willing to take that risk. What are we going to do when those wars spill over into our city Councilwoman, let them push us into the water? Or are we going to risk spreading out into Acheron to eventually take back this world.”

It was short, simple, and to the point. Drake did his best to make it sound mature and professional. Doctor Bourne and Councilwoman Adler both seemed impressed. With Doctor Noel and Judge Gellar it was hard to tell.

“Damned if it isn’t true,” Judge Gellar said finally. “We have been lulled into a false sense of security. Perhaps you’re right and the only thing left for us to do is fight back or sit here and wait for the fog of war to claim us.

“But however sensible you may think the former, there are rules we must follow. To deputize a minor and place him in a situation where he might be harmed was a serious offense on Councilman Patterson’s part, but his suspension will be short since we have no other current candidates to represent the Agricultural Department. As for you, be thankful that I can’t punish you to the fullest extent I see fit. Because, in order for this Council to work, my three other colleagues have a say in matters such as these as well.”

The judge motioned to Councilwoman Adler who stood to speak.

“We feel your actions, however foolish, were in the best interests of one Sherry Noel. We are also indebt to you for aiding the capture and imprisonment of Elijah Boeing, and the rest of his gang. With their influence out of the way we are in a better position to aid others who have not yet found their way here. It is with this debt in mind that no penalties will be brought against you.”

“I do have one concern.” Doctor Bourne spoke up. “And that is for your psychological health. Twice you’ve had to kill in your defense and both times can be legally justified. Can you assure me and the council that this will not effect you in the long run?”

Drake shrugged.

“If you’re asking me if I’m going to start wielding my sword, running around in a loincloth and making like Conan the Barbarian, than no. I have no plans of going down that route. But I did what I had to do. If I hadn’t acted Grover would have easily killed Jude or myself, and if I could have done it without killing him I’d have been more than happy to.”

The reply, however curt it sounded, seemed to satisfy Doctor Bourne.

“Doctor Noel, do you have anything to add?” Judge Gellar inquired.

“Nothing that hasn’t all ready been said.” Doctor Noel said this with an “I told you so” look at Sherry. Drake decided to stay out of it.

“In that case,” Judge Gellar turned to a piece of paper on her desk. “Drake Caston, on behalf of the council you are relieved of all penalties pertaining to the aforementioned incidents. Furthermore you are to finish your education for the remaining year, and when you are finished you will assume the rights, privileges and responsibilities of adulthood. You and Mister Carving will be taken in by the Noel family, they feel they owe you a great debt for saving Miss Noel’s life as well. Dismissed.”

Drake heaved a sigh of relief and said thank you before leaving the courtroom. Trinity threw her arms around Drake, causing him to send an uncomfortable glance towards Spade and Sherry. They seemed nonchalant as they patted Raymond on the back and congratulated him as well.

“Of all the times for a legend to be fulfilled,” Trinity mused, thoughtfully.

“We should celebrate,” Spade suggested.

“Yeah I know your idea of celebration,” Jude ran his knuckles through his younger brother’s hair.

“Sounds good to me,” Drake said, prying himself away from Trinity. “I never thought I’d say this, but I could use a little slice of Earth about now.”

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