by Walt Trizna
Table of Contents
appear in this issue.
|Chapter 8: Combat|
Upon his return, Valmid called a meeting with a few chemists he knew. He presented to them Elmo’s theory of what was keeping the monsters of Gylex from invading Earth and the chemical formulae necessary to manufacture the gas that repelled them.
The Rothians did not communicate verbally, much to Elmo’s relief, because they wanted Elmo’s input. Elmo found the meeting humorous, for there sat four Rothians and Elmo with no sounds being uttered. They just sat there, looking at one another, with their minds working furiously.
A plan was formulated. They would test Elmo’s theory about freon and its effect on the Gylexians. Pipes would be fitted around the roofs of houses in areas frequently invaded. Connected to the pipes would be a tank of freon and the whole system would be under pressure. Valves in the pipes would be activated by sound. When the dingo plants detected the presence of one of the demons, the screams of the plants would open the valves and release a cloud of freon. If this worked, all the planet’s houses would be equipped with the similar systems.
There would be an initial release of freon into the atmosphere of Roth, but if the gas destroyed the monsters, future invasions would be unlikely. Later, the presence of the freon systems would act solely as a deterrent, protecting the Rothian atmosphere from any ill effects.
The chemists prepared the freon. Selected houses were equipped with the new plumbing needed for the protective system and sound-sensitive valves installed on the borders and apex of the roofs. The newly manufactured freon was added and the system charged.
Now the waiting began. The wait did not last long. One night, dingo plants surrounding one of the test houses screamed their alarm. The iron shields over doors and windows slammed into place. Anyone unfortunate enough to be outside at this time would have also heard a hissing sound coming from the roof, then seen the creatures gliding over the house with expressions of surprise, then shock and finally terror as they began to wobble and plunge to the ground withering in agony. After all movement ceased the monsters rapidly decomposed into pools of putrid matter, bits of leathery wing and black hair floating amongst the polluted mess.
The scenario was repeated time and again around the planet. Within weeks the invasions became less frequent, then ceased. The monsters of Gylex had learned their lesson. At night, Rothians carried cans of freon under pressure just in case a wayward Gylexian came their way.
Valmid and Elmo monitored the results with great joy. Valmid’s planet was now free of the plague of attacks and Elmo saw his theory validated: freon was the component of Earth’s atmosphere that repelled these creatures. He soon realized, though, that with Roth no longer a hunting ground these monsters might return to Earth and find the levels of freon in the atmosphere there were again tolerable.
Weeks had gone by since Elmo had visited Mildred. He longed to be with her again. Valmid sensed this, but needed Elmo’s help for one more project.
One night, as Elmo, Cal and Valmid were finishing dinner, Valmid pushed away from the table and said to Elmo, “I know you long to return to Earth, but there is one more favor I must ask of you before you depart. You have helped rid Roth of its Gylexian invasion. I feel the planet is safe again, but there is still one more mission I must perform. I must go to Gylex and free the women kidnapped from Roth.”
This revelation brought both fear and joy to Cal. She feared that Valmid would be putting himself in great danger since no one from Roth had ever willingly traveled to Gylex. But she felt elation too, for if Valmid succeeded it might mean the return of their daughter.
Valmid continued, “I need your help in designing a device I could use when I travel to Gylex to combat its individuals.”
Elmo did not have to sleep on the problem, for the solution immediately popped into his mind. “On Earth, we have a device called a flame thrower. A tank is carried on one’s back filled with a flammable liquid under pressure. We can use this design and fill the tanks with freon, then have the nozzle of the device regulated to disperse a fine mist or stream.”
Valmid nodded with approval, “Tomorrow we will start construction.”
A shop near Valmid’s home had no trouble manufacturing a prototype of the freon thrower. Meanwhile, Valmid recruited five other Rothians whose wives and daughters had been kidnapped. The freon thrower was tested and worked wonderfully. Valmid was happy with the results. They returned to the shop to order five more of the devices. Just as Valmid was about to place the order, Elmo said, “Make that six.”
Valmid turned to Elmo shaking his head, for he knew what Elmo’s intentions were. “No, my friend. You have done enough for Roth without risking your life on this adventure.”
Without hesitation, Elmo replied, “Your family had done so much for me and I may ask for more in the future. You’ve become a friend, Valmid, I want to help.”
The argument went back and forth between Elmo and Valmid, but Valmid finally succumbed to Elmo’s persistence. “I accept your help my friend. We shall leave when the devices are ready.”
In a few days the six new freon throwers were ready and tested. Valmid called the five other Rothians to his home. The seven warriors were ready to depart. Elmo noticed that each member of the team carried a pouch in addition to his freon throwers on their backs. Elmo was also given a pouch.
“We are taking as many time-space machines as we can carry. We have no idea how many women we will be freeing and returning to Roth. I’m afraid there is little hope of rescuing any of the women abducted from Earth, for the abductions ceased there almost sixty years ago, when the freon level reached intolerable levels for the Gylex monsters.
“Our plan is to journey to Gylex, hopefully arriving at a deserted area. Then we will try to follow the thoughts of the captive women.”
All five of the Rothians and Elmo nodded and prepared to leave. Elmo joined Valmid in the center of his machine; the other five occupied two machines facing back to back in preparation for a hostile greeting.
In a flash the most dismal landscape imaginable surrounded them, along with four Gylexian monsters. Three were quickly dispatched, surprise being on the side of the Rothians. The fourth began flying away, thanks to the weaker gravity of the planet; Elmo was able to leap high enough to douse the creature and it abruptly fell to the ground.
After the initial excitement, the travelers had a chance to inspect their surroundings. Elmo thought, “If there is a hell, it must look something like this.”
The Rothians were unfamiliar with the concept of Elmo’s hell, but they all shuddered at the scene before them. Everything was colored shades of gray and black. The landscape was dotted with miniature volcanoes no more than a few hundred feet high, most in a constant state of eruption that spewed heavy columns of smoke and ash into the air and shed an eerie glow from the magma seeping down their sides. The atmosphere was thick and oppressing.
The party had timed their arrival for daytime, but a faint twilight was all that greeted them. The only vegetation visible were huge trees, not unlike those found on Roth. Their trunks disappeared into the unbroken mantle of black clouds that filled the sky; their leaves seeking the life-giving light denied the planet’s surface.
The rescue party could see larger mountains in the distance; their sides honeycombed with openings. Occasionally a winged Gylexian would fly in or out of apertures; these must be their cities.
The six Rothians stood still and quietly concentrated, seeking the thoughts of the women they had come to rescue. It did not take long for them to sense Rothian thoughts and then locate their origin on a distant part of the planet. They set up their time-space machines, again standing back-to-back and ready for an attack. They were sure there must be guards at their destination, and to eliminate them by taking advantage of the element of surprise.
In a flash the seven were standing before a Gylexian hill, somewhat smaller than the hill they first had seen. Perhaps this was the prison where the women were being held. At the same time they also found themselves standing before five guards armed with weapons resembling crossbows. Before the Rothians could react, one of their party was shot in the neck and collapsed.
Freon spray quickly took care of the guards, but not before they sounded an alarm that brought more guards flying out of the prison, also to fall to the ground as the air filled with freon. Three of the party, along with Elmo, remained outside to guard against further attacks. Valmid and the remaining member of his group entered the prison to free the women. The sight inside sickened them. Corpses of ten to 15 Rothian women littered the floor of the forbidding structure.
As they proceeded farther into the dark, dank hallways they came upon the cells they were seeking. Each cell held two or three women in various states of pregnancy. As Valmid had anticipated, there were no women from Earth, only women from Roth. Valmid searched wildly from cell to cell looking for his daughter, calling her name, “Rolack, Rolack.” He stopped at the entrance of a cell holding two women, then choked back tears and cried, “Rolack!”
A woman inside stood and cried, “Father!”
Valmid had found his daughter. In short order, the keys to the cells were located and the women released. They made their way out of the prison, the women breathing free air for the first time since their capture. One of the women collapsed by the body of the fallen Rothian, crying for the husband she had not seen for years and who had died trying to rescue her.
Valmid ordered everyone to unfurl the time-space machines and, in twos and threes, quickly occupy them. Two Rothians carried the body of their fallen companion to the last machine and gently laid him down. Then Valmid distributed the preset control boxes and the group disappeared in a series of flashes, bound for Roth.
Once on Roth, the women cried, laughed and even collapsed when united with their families. Those who returned pregnant wanted most to immediately cleanse their bodies of the demon cargo they carried. Valmid, Elmo and Rolack entered their home to find Cal crying out at the sight of her daughter. The three family members hugged and cried while Elmo stood to the side and felt an emptiness he could no longer deny.
Copyright © 2006 by Walt Trizna