Aeroquest… Canto 41

Canto 41 – The Pyramid of Evil

     Dr. Hooey proved to be as wild and eccentric a character as Trav Dalgoda.  He wore outlandish clothing and said remarkably stupid things without a moment’s hesitation.  He was not pretty to look at with a big nose and uncombed hair.  He was consistently frazzled and at his wit’s end.  Still, he was probably the highest-level problem-solver that Tron had ever met.

     Outside the pyramid that no one had been able to detect two miles outside the borders of Oasis City, Hooey was hunkered down next to Tron and Hassan as the wind blew fierce, stinging sand all around the base of the pyramid.

Dr. Hooey

     “I don’t know how you found this thing, Hooey!” said Tron, having to yell over the roar of the storm.  “It seems like this sandstorm never ends.  It’s been here since my people arrived within scanner range of the planet.”

     “I think it’s more or less permanent.  All I had to do to find it is scan for a focus of artificial radiant energy large enough to create a concealed feature of the planet, like this one.”

     The King of Killers came back to his leader, running with his head bent down into the wind.  He had a breath mask on to keep the sand out of his lungs, and brought three more for Tron, Hooey, and Hassan.

     “The doorway seems to be over there,” he yelled, pointing with the breath mask on his chin while he handed out the remaining masks to the others.

     “Okay, King.  Lead the way!” ordered Tron.

     Tron had his laser pistols attached to the powerpack on his back.  The King had an ACR hanging from the leather strap over his back, while Hassan had a net-pistol that had a one-shot net trap loaded.  Hooey carried a thing that looked like a small plastic water gun that he called his really big gun.

     The four men ran to the pyramid door, hands up to protect their faces from the cruel white sand.  King brought them to a dark alcove in the base of the pyramid. 

     “This is where we go in!” hollered King.  “I don’t know what’s in there.  My sensors read nothing at all, not even the stone that it should be reading!”

     Worried, the group inched forward into the darkness.  Tron took over the lead and allowed King to drop back and cover the rear.  Hooey hovered over Tron’s right shoulder, while Hassan limped along on his new leg to Tron’s left, trying to get used to the unfamiliar device.

     “I do hope there are no mummies in here.  I hate battling the living dead!” said Hooey firmly.

     “How could a man of science be stupid enough to think that mummies could ever come to life?” asked Tron, rolling his eyes, the artificial one looking more disgusted than the natural one.

     “Pretty easily!” remarked Hooey.  “Look there!”

     In the long Gallery ahead, hard to see in the dim light, four shapes lurched toward them.  They were skull-faced and bandaged.  Mummies come to life!

     “No.  I’m not sitting still for this crud!” growled King.  “I have a wife to get back to.”  The infamous King of Killers rushed to the front and tried to prove that he deserved his ruthless nickname.  He went fully automatic with his ACR and sprayed bullets all over the approaching undead creatures.  Bone splintered and wiring sparked.  Two of the creatures fell completely to pieces.  A third one lost its head, but still kept stumbling forward.

     “There’s something fishy about these mummies,” grumbled Tron.  “They walk too much like movie monsters to be real.  And what’s with all the electrical sparking?”

     The two wounded mummies kept coming towards King even though men who were punctured that much by armor-piercing shells should have died and fallen still.  King tried feverishly to load another clip of ammo, but before he could, a mummy grabbed his shoulder.  Electricity shot out of the bandaged hand and King went unconscious, his hair smoking profusely.

     “Hooey!” shouted Tron, about to demand that the Time Knight do something. 

     Dr. Hooey stood and pointed his little plastic water pistol.  He sprayed the two remaining mummies and completely shorted out their control circuits.  They fell in smoking piles of bones.

     Tron rushed forward to help his fallen man.  King Killer would live, but he’d had a nasty shock.

     “What were those things, Hooey?  Tell me straight, or I might have to shoot you.”

     Hassan picked up a severed hand wrapped in rotted bandages and took a close look.  “Rot warriors,” said the Space Elf.  “They are Mechanoids made from completely dead men.”  He handed the boney hand to Tron.

     The bones were inlaid with glittering microcircuitry that you could only really see up close.  A nearby skull yielded up a wrecked computer processor.  The main control pod was found in the chest cavity.

     “The perfect soldiers,” said Tron.  “They’re too dumb to question orders.”

     “Yes,” said Hooey, “and designed to put a real scare into any locals who might come in here.”

     “What do you suppose they are protecting?” asked Hassan. 

     “Oh, I already know,” said Hooey.  “They are protecting a Galtorrian agent of Count Nefaria called the Lizard Lady.  She’s here in this complex somewhere.”

     “You already know what’s supposed to happen here, don’t you?” said Tron.  “That’s how you knew to bring the water pistol.”

     “Well… In a sense, that’s true.”

     “All right, King is already hurt.  Spill it, Doctor.  What will happen next?”

     “Patience, Tron, my boy, only time can really tell.”

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