Traveler: Storyteller Tales: Fireball

            Martok was only out for a minute or so, and he was never completely unconscious.  He roused himself when he spied two men with shopping bags scurry out a back door.  He moved, but very stiffly, and by the time he got to the door and looked out, the men were gone.  It was a back stairs that lead down to the loading dock as he surmised.  He imagined they had a van or something down there and were already gone. 

            There were sirens in the distance and Martok decided not to try the stairs.  He hoped those men would be caught, but meanwhile there was a battle still going on in the warehouse.  He shut the door and turned to see the suitcase bomb had become so much scrap metal.  He thought, thank God they had not yet attached the conventional bomb.  If that had been there and set off by the grenade, it might not have been an atomic explosion, but the warehouse and probably the whole block would have become so much debris.

            Martok took a good whiff of air.  A natural gas pipe was leaking somewhere.  There was a hole in the floor of the room where the grenade had gone off, luckily on the door side of the trunk bomb.  He crawled over and looked through the hole.  God!  There was no crack in a gas line.  The main pipe was busted wide open.  When the enclosed space of the warehouse filled with enough of that gas, any spark would set it off.

            Martok got to his feet and went out the door and to the walkway railing as fast as he could.  He opened his lungs and roared and roared as loud as his bruised ribs would let him.  The gunfire below did not stop completely, but it stopped enough for Martok to shout at top volume.  His deep, alien voice garnered some close attention.  “Gas leak!  Get out!”  With that, he jumped off the side of the walkway.  He landed on the floor, two stories down like a cat.  Normally, that distance would not have hurt him, especially on lower gravity Earth, but in this case he said, “Ouch.”  He was pretty banged up.

            “My turn.”  Diogenes came back and Martok left that time and place.  Diogenes called to his helmet which was reminiscent of the ancient Greek style.  In his armor, with his sword in one hand and long knife in the other, he looked like someone off a Greek vase or out of Ancient Rome.  Two men ran up with guns drawn.  They pointed their guns but never got to fire them as Diogenes did quick work.

              Diogenes turned the corner and felt a rapid fire thumping in his chest.  The man had an automatic.  But while Diogenes staggered back one step, his miraculous armor repelled the bullets.  He could not roar like Martok, but he could growl, Macedonian style, and the look in his eyes, the only thing visible, must have said death.  The man dropped his rifle and ran.  Diogenes left the man to his fate and picked up his own feet.  He ran to the side of the warehouse, down the aisle against the wall, past the open window they first came in where he had to pause and kill one man, and back into the room where Fyodor and Lockhart were bleeding again.  Fyodor took another bullet, this time in his shoulder.  Lockhart just looked like all his energy was gone.

            Diogenes picked up the floor lamp and smashed it base first against the window to the sidewalk.  The glass broke on the second try, and the wood from the window snapped, but there was an iron mesh over the outside and it merely bent out.  Martok grumbled in Diogene’s mind.  “Once more into the breach, as your Shakespeare said.”  Diogenes left and Martok came back once more with a word.  “I liked that Shakespeare fellow, and the woman, too.”

            Martok threw away the floor lamp and picked up the bookcase.  He shoved it through the spot with enough force not only to open the window and tear away the iron mesh, but to take some of the building with it.  He turned and threw Fyodor over his shoulder, picked up Lockhart by the belt and leapt through the hole in the wall.

            The men went to the sidewalk as Martok fell.  But then he went away again and the Princess returned, dressed in her black suit as she had been at the beginning.  Doctor Mishka protested.  The men needed her attention.  But she was overruled.  Martok saw the police, everywhere.

            “Hold it right there.”  Two officers ran up with guns drawn.  They looked scared.

            “FBI,” the Princess shouted.  “These men are injured.  Help me get them away from the building.”

            The policemen looked at each other, holstered their guns and helped.  They had to carry Lockhart while the Princess let Fyodor lean on her.  Once behind a police car, the Princess gave Fyodor into the hands of another policeman and climbed up on the hood of the car.

            “FBI,” she shouted and started pointing at policemen.  “You, get the gas turned off in this building.  You, get the fire department here, now!  You, get these men to the hospital, stat!”  She was sure it was the right word, but no one moved until a man in plain clothes said, “Do it!”

            Policemen scurried everywhere, and that man came up to offer a hand for the Princess to get off the car.  “Your name?”  The man asked.

            “Princess,” the Princess responded.

            “Your real name.”

            “Princess.  I don’t like my real name.”

            “You have identification.”

            The Princess patted herself down which likely gave the plain clothes man some thoughts.  “Just the Princess,” she said. Her eyes were on her friends.  Lockhart was on a stretcher and being loaded into an ambulance.  Fyodor was crawling into the same vehicle.

            “You will have to come with me,” the man said.

            “Princess.”

            “Your highness.”

            Billings and Radcliff ran up.  They had survived.

            “Did everyone get out?”

            They all turned their heads toward the warehouse in time to see the fireball.  It was not really an explosion, but it was strong enough to kick out the front windows of the building.

            “Agent Billings!”  A woman came up dragging a man in spectacles who obviously did not want to be there.  “Your expert finally arrived.”

            “Yes, well.  May I see the piece in question?”

            Radcliff took it out of his jacket pocket and handed it to the man.  After a few hums and haws, the man came to a conclusion.

            “It’s a timed trigger of some kind.  I don’t suppose you know what it goes to.”

            “Time!”  the Princess checked the sun which she could tell as well as anyone with a watch.  “I have to go.”  She waved before she disappeared right in front of everyone and Glen returned in his suit, tie and disheveled shirt.  “That was interesting, but I have to go.”  He turned around and no one dared touch him.  He turned again to walk backwards for a minute.  “Oh, and you leave me alone and let me forget about all of this and sleep nights.  Oh, and if any of you says anything about what you just saw, the Princess said she will have to send Martok or someone to haunt you.”  Glen stumbled on the curb.  He was glad he did not fall before he turned and walked off, briskly.

            By the time he got back to his car it was two-thirty, going on three.  The regular commuter traffic around Atlanta was going to start soon and Glen knew he wanted to miss that.  By the time he pulled into his own driveway and his wife asked how the conference went, he said fine but he really could not remember anything about it—or about anything else.  Two days later when they heard someone set off a bomb in Olympic Park, Glen thought that was just terrible.  I mean, who would do such a thing?

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NOTE: To read this story from the beginning or to read any of the stories of the Traveler please click the tab “Traveler Tales.”  You can read the stories on the right independently, or just the Vordan story on the left, or the whole work in order as written.  Your choice.  –Michael.

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