Grasp All, Lose All

You are reading: The Final Bounty

Written by Antagony on 04 Jul 2017 17:10.

When Kalimantan came to, he felt as if his ribs had been rearranged. He lay on the floor of the hangar not far from Jādhōē, who groaned and seemed to be in a fugue. For the time being. He was saved by his now shredded robes, exposing his segmented body, while his two bodyguards became corpses. Evidently they succumbed to their injuries.
All the while, the hangar had erupted in cannonade. The suzerain’s men who hid behind shields or barricades were shooting at and being shot by a lethal Varuni, which didn’t exactly have the thrust to escape the city quite yet, let alone lift itself off the ground with just the two engines in the wings. And rubble began to slide down the hangar walls, and diamonds ultimately started to shower down on everything. The scene was akin to being caught in an earthquake during a hail storm.
Getting up onto his feet, Kalimantan rose and started running toward the ajar doors of the ship as it gracelessly vibrated inches off the floor. But he stopped as he recalled the device that Jādhōē was flaunting just before the armed standoff went sideways. Perhaps not a detonator thought Kalimantan, but a jammer.
So Kalimantan turned the other way and charged at his foe while he was still down, and Jādhōē’s men were still focusing their non-stop salvos on the hull of Varuni.
Kalimantan ran up to the gang leader with a ready fist to knock him wholly prostrate. The first punch made contact, and so did a second, but Kalimantan’s punching bag was tougher than he looked. By the third swing, the bleary Jādhōē eventually saw him coming, and in the nick of time, grabbed the Samarind’s closed fist with his jaws, and held on tight. Already he was in rough shape, what with busted ribs, but Kalimantan roared in pain.
As soon as Kalimantan found himself in that position, he knew he should have expected as much, since Jadhoe’s kind were incredibly strong despite their stature. So mighty was his species, the Formicind, that they could lift ships fifty times their size and weight. If necessary, drag them along, throw them around or even eat them if it came to it. And the chemicals in their saliva, were known to break down certain metal alloys.
Not giving an inch, Jādhōē stood up on his hind legs as Kalimantan’s hand remained locked in the mouth of the suzerain. And soon the insect demonstrated his power as he began to rapidly lift Kalimantan above his head, jerking him by the arm like a ragdoll. That it didn’t break was a miracle. Seeming not to react as Kalimantan kicked him in the head or the chest, he then bit down even harder with jagged jaws. No longer was he simply breaking scaled skin, but he now pinched the bones in Kalimantan’s wrist.
Unprepared for such an outcome, Kalimantan was more or less helpless. Flailing there, as Jādhōē now started to tongue his foe with his maxillae; getting ready to macerate his prey. And they appeared to be ignored amid the chaos of the battlezone around them. Bolts or rays of plasma shot through the air; bodies were flung from behind their hiding places and makeshift palisades; and the Varuni actually managed to get up a foot above the ground. Reinforcements were now rushing into the hangar, some with heavy artillery.
However Kalimantan refused to give in. As he had no weapons and no tools, and one free hand, he looked around for his salvation, and after a few seconds… actually found it. Though his plan wasn’t much thought out.
Instead of kicking Jādhōē, who didn’t budge, he pushed off the creature’s thorax with his legs so that he flipped completely over the gangster, snapping his own arm in the process.
Rotating some 180 degrees, the full force of Kalimantan hitting Jādhōē’s backside knocked him over, and freed Kalimantan’s hand. Jādhōē snarled in frustration.
Distracting sounds of carnage notwithstanding, Kalimantan thought he heard a clatter nearby. And after a cursory glance, he spotted what looked like the remote the suzerain had taunted him with. Kalimantan picked it up and realised it was indeed the jammer. Immediately, Kalimantan pressed the lone button on the fob, and seconds later he saw the ship level out. The Varuni’s main engine started to spin, and rumble like it used to.
Kalimantan didn’t wait for an angry Jādhōē to come racing back at him, he started sprinting toward his ship instead. As he closed in, he noticed waiting for him on the ramp were Sarawak and Tarakan, blasting away with their weapons, alongside Muara and Pontianak who had joined them.
“LET’S GO!” Muara shouted.
“GET IN!” yelled Tarakan.
Kalimantan didn’t argue, and he leapt onto the ramp without issue, otherwise, he gripped Pontianak’s shoulder with his good arm for balance, lest he roll back out. Pontianak chuckled, and said loudly by Kalimantan’s ear, “Lucky son of a bitch! Welcome aboard!” To which Kalimantan shared a laugh. He coughed harshly too, still winded. Still wounded.
The outer doors began to close, muffling the sounds of gunfire, and the five Samarind huddled back into the cargo hold proper.
“Maida!” Sarawak called on his comm, “all crew are accounted for, get us out of here!”
The helm replied, “On our way!”
Before the Makassar could go anywhere, a stormy racket filled the ship. A screech and then a groan of metal breaking and bending. It was the sound of the hull being crushed. They all heard it quake and rattle unsteadily. This was followed by a boom, as a missile hit the starboard side of Varuni.
“Why are we not moving!?” hollered a bellicose Pontianak.
“What’s going on, Maida!?” Sarawak demanded.
“See for yourself, Captain!” Maida thundered. “We’re clamped! Someone’s got up by the beak!”
They all looked behind them and saw what was the matter right away. The airlock wasn’t sealed, the outer doors weren’t closed, and when Kalimantan turned on the hold’s monitor array to view the external camera feeds, they knew why. Holding the ship back wasn’t a machine or a magnet, but a man.
As he stood over the edge of the ship hangar with rainforest miles below him, Jādhōē had bitten into Varuni’s shell with his impressive jaws. Being that his mandibles were serrated meant he could saw into the metal. And as he frothed at the mouth, eventually his sputum would start to dissolve the ship’s armour.
“Well, shake him off!” Sarawak offered. “Shoot him!”
“You think I haven’t tried!? There’s no guns pointed that close the hull!”
While the captain and the navigator argued, another missile rocked the ship, this time smashing into the port side. And then they heard the largest clatter of all, as rubble hit the top of Varuni. Something as massive as a boulder collided with Varuni’s hull and then scraped down, off her body.
Kalimantan thought only of escape plans, and his mind was racing uncontrollably as he looked around the cargo hold for something to wrench the ship free of the grip of a vice. For a second time he saw no tools, no weapons, nothing periscopic that could he could use to reach out of the ship to push Jādhōē away or will him off the Varuni. In his search however, he realised the that ship could.
“Open up. This is his house.” Kalimantan muttered cryptically.
“The devil are you talking about?” queried Muara, “are you crazy?”
So in layman terms he repeated himself, “Open the outer doors!”
Once again, a rocket struck the starboard side. Varuni merely groaned. Wistfully.
Sarawak went for the airlock controls, and didn’t hesitate to follow his brother’s instructions. Then everyone, including Kalimantan stepped out of the way of the gaping egress so as to avoid blaster fire. As instantly as the ramp lowered, Jādhōē released the ship, having no other choice but do so.
Varuni nearly hit the floor and the roof as it sidled out of the inlet and away from the city.
Though Kalimantan and his crew watched from the cameras, Jādhōē didn’t fall off the ledge as they predicted. He just stood there, staring back with his compound eyes, the ommatidia reflecting off the setting sun a glint of red and blue.
Ere the doors finally closed, Kalimantan looked out until he could see neither the speck of the suzerain, nor the spire in which he lived as it seemingly was devoured by the jungle all around it. Which was not so much a dark green but an endless sea of harsh viridian. The wind blew about the trees, and its eyes looked up hungrily.

Next Chapter: Calm Before the Storm by Antagony

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