Far in our future: the Unified Galaxy! Kymn Valence, the galaxy’s second most dangerous woman, has been found guilty (in absentia) of over one hundred and sixty crimes and remanded to the Draper Extrasolar Penitentiary, aka Draper’s Rock. Once there, she was attacked and immobilized by the poisonous Tallen the Red, enforcer for the gang boss known as The Stalker.
Stairway to Heaven created by Douglass Barre
Part Four (of Five)
“This is it. This is the big secret.”
It was just what Kymn Valence had been looking for. From the day she had first been contacted to get into Draper’s Rock and find out what was happening within, she had been looking for this. Looking at it, though, was a little bit underwhelming.
In the back of a cell in Orange Block, there was a hole roughly four feet high and three feet wide. It looked like it had been smashed out of the rock wall itself. Curtains made of urine-stained bedsheets blocked the view of the room on the other side, but whatever was over there was at least well lit.
“It’s a hole,” she said to Tallen the Red, the man at the other end of the leash or lash or whatever rope-like thing he was leading her around on and she was eventually going to kill him for. “This is the big escape plan for the population of Draper’s Rock?”
“Escape? My dear, you misunderstand. No one here has any need to escape. Please, step through and see for yourself.”
Her hands had been bound behind her back but she had gotten them loose about a minute into her forced march through Draper’s Rock to this unlikely destination. Still, she wasn’t about to let Tallen know that, so she just bowed her head and stepped through the curtain without pulling it aside.
The sight that greeted her on the other side of the hole was the complete opposite of underwhelming.
A white sky–and not cloudy white, but brilliant and clear and infinite–stretched out in every direction around the golden glass bridge beneath Kymn’s feet. Perhaps a mile long, the bridge ended at a floating city, something unbound by gravity or architecture or imagination. Like some kind of seedling plant, with wisps ready at every direction from the center to be picked up by a wind and spread throughout the universe, it was unlike anything Kymn Valence had ever seen, and she had seen a lot.
“Welcome to the Sky,” Tallen said, stepping through behind her. Kymn looked down and saw that there was nothing as far as the eye could see below the bridge. Spinning around, she kicked Tallen in the side of his head, knocking him off balance. That was followed up by a tomrom blow to his xyphoid process, pushing him off the bridge. The gravity that kept her standing on the gold-glass walkway was apparently native to the area, not artificial, because the red-handed assassin just kept falling and falling and falling.
Kymn smiled. No one leads the second most dangerous woman in the galaxy around on a rope.
She dropped the bonds from her hands and set out down the yellow brick road.
About halfway across the bridge, she saw her first inhabitants of the “city,” and all of them were obviously not natives. Between the tatters of Draper’s Rock prisoner uniforms and the sharpened metal spears made of obviously repurposed cell bars, this welcoming party came from the same place Kymn had just arrived from. She stopped walking and stood her ground, arms open to show that she was unarmed. She wasn’t, but she wanted to pretend that she was.
When the mob of a dozen or so armed criminals reached a few yards distance, their leader, a microcephalic hyperthyroid case with a black circuitat running down the left side of his face called for a halt. Obviously he wasn’t stupid enough to give up the tactical advantage of spears versus fists. Kymn reminded herself: smart and dangerous are two different scales.
“Hey, anyone know the way to the exit?” she asked.
“Nah, but if you hum a few bars I c’n fake it,” the mook in charge said. “What Pate sent for ya and where’s your guide?”
“I threw him off the bridge,” Kymn admitted, ignoring the first part of the question. The mook’s boys seemed to like her answer.
“Look, ya seem like an awful person, an’ I’d love to just let ya in,” the mook said, “but ya gotta pay allegiance if you wanna get into the Sky City.”
“I was being taken to The Stalker by Tallen the Red,” Kymn said, figuring the best way to get viable intel was to lead with the truth. “But I don’t owe allegience to anyone except myself.”
That got a lot of laughs too.
“Well, Mikey here’s a Stalker guy. He can take you to his aitch-cue.” The mook reached back and dragged forward a ferrety gentleman with an absurdly waxed mustache and a shimmery toga under his prison oranges. “Mikey won’t mind if we escort you two, will ya Mikey?”
“It… it’s a breach of protocol if you, ah, trespass beyond the militia lanes,” Mikey said, trying to sound tough. Even Kymn could tell he wasn’t going to mess with the mook.
Just then, in the distance, she saw a speck against the sky rise up from the city, flying in a graceful arc. Without thinking about it, she sympathied her eye to the black point against the sky, linking them across the quantum field so she could see it better. She was about to curse the q-boot again for suppressing her talent, but then she realized it wasn’t.
Amazingly, the failure of the quantum boot was the lesser of the two simultaneous surprises. As her vision crossed timespace, the flying figure turned to look back, as if aware of her observation.
It was another Nepthli. A living one. A living one surrounded by an halo of light.
“What the pit is that?” she muttered to herself.
The mook and a few of his men looked over their shoulders to see what she was looking at. The smart ones didn’t, but tightened their grips on their spears. Fortunately for them, it wasn’t a ruse on Kymn’s part.
The mook chuckled. “Ah, there are still a few angels left. Slippery guys, them.”
“Angels?” Kymn asked, eyes narrowing.
“Yeah,” the mook said. “Didn’t no one tell you before bringing you over here? This here’s Heaven, sweetcheeks. Bona fried alien Heaven.”
To be continued…
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.