A Chase Only Ends One Way
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

In the last days of the war, independent sympathiser Blake Taylor encounters trouble one night, delivering the newsletter 24 Letters.


A Chase Only Ends One Way

Beaumonde, New Peking, 2511

Blake Taylor sprinted down the back alley, his rucksack pounding against his back. He cursed himself again for being so careless. Blake chanced a look over his shoulder; his pursuers were still there. He should have heard the Purplebellies coming a long way off. Careless slips like this could land him right back in the Slam. This time it wouldn’t be a month stint like last time. For ‘Solicitation of Dissentious Activities’ they would give him years in the Slam. Understandably that wasn’t in his life plan. He was proud to be able to spread the word about the atrocities the Alliance had been committing in the name of Unity; it was what happened if you got caught doing it that bothered him. Part of him was glad he hadn’t tried to find a weapon for tonight. If he was caught and he had the leaflets and a gun on him that would add years to his sentence. But the word had to be spread. That’s why he was out here in the dark and the cold, slipping newspapers under peoples doors. He and the others who wrote for the underground paper 24 Letters understood the risks. They lived with them every waking moment. Especially Kyal Dirnt the man had started the paper, the man barely left his house anymore. Kyal had told Blake just why they were doing what they were and the young engineering student had been drawn in by the other mans strong sense of right and wrong and commitment to the truth. The name of the paper itself was an irony; Kyal said it meant that the Alliance hid so much that they would have everyone believe there was 24 letters in the alphabet rather than 26. Whatever the case, anyone working for 24 Letters was a high priority on the Alliance hit list. If Blake was caught here, he knew that he could tear down the whole group. So that wasn’t an option. A terrible possibility began to rise in his mind. He thrust it away at first, as he sprinted around a group of rubbish dumpsters. But then he realised that it was the only way he was going to get out of this alive and free. Blake rounded the corner and flattened himself against the wall, panting hard. He tried to think, his lungs beginning to burn. The rucksack wasn’t exactly the easiest thing to be running around with. Behind him he heard the two soldiers slow, walking down the alleyway in a cautious manner, unsure of the direction he had taken. An idea formed in his mind. It was risky but it might be the only chance he had. There was little worth in trusting to luck and hoping something better turned up. You trusted to luck and you ended up dead or in the Slam. That was one of Adler’s. He thought momentarily about the crimeboss and dismissed the idea almost as quickly. He doubted the man would appreciate him bringing two purplebellies to his door. No that would earn him a visit to the dogs or worse. He had to do this himself. Blake slung the heavy rucksack of his shoulder, slowly, dangling it in one hand, trying to slow his breathing and the pounding of his heart. He weighed his makeshift weapon in one hand, hoping it would be enough. He took a deep breath. And stepped back into the alley. There was a moment of shock on the faces of the two soldiers. “Halt!” Blake turned and ducked back the way he had come, flattening himself against the wall once more. Repeater fire chattered into the wall behind the space he had just vacated. Booted feet thundered towards his hiding place. Blake tensed, the knuckles on the strap of the rucksack going white. The head of the first soldier appeared around the corner and Blake yelled a war cry and smashed the bag into his face. The man screamed and fell backwards, his gun firing in a wild arc. The bullets missed Blake’s head by mere inches but the second soldier was not so lucky, catching a half-dozen rounds in his chest and dropping without a sound. Blake lunged after the first man, landing on his back with a wild scream. The soldier was stocky and strong and he threw his weight sideways, throwing Blake off him. But as he did, Blake’s hand fell upon a hard, metallic object at the man’s waist. He grabbed at it and pulled, rolling over once and springing to his feet, the soldier’s sidearm in his hand. “Don’t move or I’ll shoot you.” The soldier froze, his hand halfway to his repeater. Blake was standing about five feet away, pistol primed and pointing at the other man’s head. Suddenly and abruptly, as so often happened in New Peking, the heavens opened and rain thundered from the sky. In moments Blake was soaked to the bone, but he did not move, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the soldier at his feet. The soldier turned his head towards him, rain pouring off his purple and black helmet. He was an older man, his face weathered and scarred. He was probably a veteran, rewarded by his service on the front by being given a nice cushy guard duty well away from the fighting. “Are going to shoot me son?” “If you don’t take your hand away from that repeater I will.” Blake tried to keep the quaver out of his voice. He had never killed anyone before. He tried not to show it but he was terrified. But the soldier appeared not to notice. Slowly, without taking his eyes off his young captor, he withdrew his arm. Blake breathed out. He hadn’t realised he had been holding his breath. He glanced down the alley, checking to see if anyone had noticed. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the soldier move quick as a snake, his hand darting forward and grabbing his repeater. He brought it up and round, aiming at Blake.

The shot echoed of the brick walls of the alleyway, muffled by the rain. Blake stared in shock. His bullet had hit the soldier in the eye, killing him instantly. He sunk to his knees for a moment, still shocked and horrified. Then he shook his head, letting the rain wash all his feeling away. He stood up, tucking the pistol into the back of his pants. He took both of the soldiers by the legs and hauled them down into the alley with the dumpster. Taking care not to get blood on his clothes, the tall, strong youth hauled both of the bodies into the dumpster. For a moment he considered dumping the newspapers as well; they were ruined by the rain after all. Then he shook his head. No, it would not do to have them show up where two dead Alliance soldiers had been dumped. It would be hours before they were missed, maybe days before they were found. Plenty of time to avoid the heat. Blake walked back to the alleyway where the shootings had taken place, the blood already washing away. In the pouring rain he reached down and picked up the two repeater rifles. Adler would have a place to sell these and they would fetch a decent profit. Without looking back he turned and jogged out of the alley, a gun in both hands.

(The Story of Blake Taylor is continued in the fanfic’s “The Temptress and The Hunter” which involves Blake’s tangle with Saffron and “A New ‘Verse” which involves how Blake Taylor met Malcolm Reynolds)



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