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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Cypher's Tale 38


The field marshal exited the stairwell onto an observation platform lost in the night sky. Smog was thinner here, so thin that the gleam of satellites and planets could be seen overhead. He looked up at the sky for a moment. His grip almost loosened.

Not quite. He followed the curve of the platform around the tower until it opened up into a wide span, bridging two great towers. Not that great, he thought. The Elevator in Ecuador is bigger.

In the light of streetlamps that luminated the grand catwalk, twenty men with carbines stood side by side. They formed a wall of flesh and shiny new military gear that believed itself unbreachable. More were stationed in the service tunnels and ventricles below.

Tyson stood alone in the center of the causeway, 10 meters from the enemy line, gripping his nagamaki overhand. The blade dripped to his right, at thigh level.
"Put down your weapon."
Tyson put his right foot forward and raised the point.
The speaker carried a bullhorn and stood behind the rank of riflemen. He was rattled, first by the situation, and second by the complete uselessness of the weapon he was demanding surrendered. Why, in the name of all that was holy, did he have to try to capture this nut?
"Surrender now and live," Tyson said.
"Surrender now and live."
"No, you surrender. The exits are blocked. We want to discuss this peacefully." In our interrogation cell you filthy bastard.
Tyson sniffed. "You may also retreat."
If the enemy demands your surrender, you have no need to surrender, he thought contemptuously. He pondered the situation and twisted the butt of the nagamaki another notch.
"Why should I?"
"Why- because it's better than dying! What the hell kind of question is that? The longer this goes on, the more likely one of my men gets twitchy and shoots your dumb ass!"
On cue, one of the riflemen collapsed in a heap of bloody foam from the nose. His nearest neighbors turned to look, and then they too fell to the nerve agent.
Tyson dove back into the shadows.
"Shoot him!"
Several men tried to follow orders. One managed a spritz in Tyson's general direction. A few turned and ran- one made it, by some chance, to the far tower and safety.

The rest, including the lieutenant with the bullhorn, collapsed into bleeding, writhing balls of agony. They had all been exposed by the time the first symptoms appeared. It was a fast acting agent, dispersed by a highly pressurized aerosol delivery system.

Chemical weapons are one of the few area weapons that, like blades, are silent. Tyson had cut down twenty men without a sound.


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