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  1. Miss Mae's Avatar
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    #1

    Default Escape from Tekron II -- Round Robin!

    Welcome to the round robin of our SF adventure, “Escape from Tekron II”. Each week a different ‘Sweetie’ author will contribute to the plot. We hope you, our readers, enjoy these little additions to our developing, and quite probably surprising, storyline.

    And we want to invite the public to join us! You don’t need to be a member of The Sweetest Romance Authors to contribute. If you have an urge to add another segment, by all means, do! However, we request that you adhere to our guidelines.

    Remember, the tale must remain G-rated in all elements of romance, (M/F only), and in language, and violence. The theme is SF. No deviation into sorcery, vampires, paranormal, etc. Your attention to these details will be greatly appreciated!

    ***************************



    Escape from Tekron II


    Blistering, suffocating smoke mushroomed inside the cell. Squinting through the thick cloud, Kira pressed against the back wall only a second before the heavy door exploded apart. Metal splinters danced in the air, raining to the floor in one pool of liquefied shards.
    A large shape materialized at the threshold. “S-3 Kira! Follow me!”
    Kira blinked, instantly identifying the humanoid’s armored garb as that belonging to the class of elite Rangers. Still, not about to take any chances, she called out, “Show me your left wrist.”
    The black helmeted head swiveled in her direction. Disembodied voice speaking through an electronic microphone, the impatient command snapped out, “We have to leave. Now!”
    “After what I’ve gone through, I’m not about to trust what might be a disguised android.” She glared at him. “Show me your wrist.”
    Switching the L-5 Proton Rifle to his right hand, the figure then jerked down the cuff of his black glove. A hairy, muscular wrist was exposed along with the bright red H birthmark burned into his flesh.
    Kira nodded with relief. “You’re human.”
    “Stay behind,” he instructed, shouldering the weapon at the ready. “My hover craft is cloaked at the D exit, but this compound is crawling with Drones.”
    “I know that,” she remarked, unable to curb the edge to her tone. “You surely didn’t blast your way in here with only one rifle. Don’t you have a plasma pistol?”
    “You scientists are all alike.” Reaching into the top of a knee length boot, he withdrew a concealed pistol and slapped it into her waiting palm. “You don’t give common people any credit.”
    “You’re a Ranger. You’re hardly common people.” Though her arm throbbed from the result of the renegade Drones’ experiments, Kira steadied the pistol and pressed it to the ‘vaporize’ setting. She gestured at the corridor leading away from her prison. “Let’s go.”
    The Ranger’s upraised arm blocked her. “We’ve got trouble.”

    ********************************




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  2. HywelaLyn's Avatar
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    #2

    Default

    Kira glanced over his shoulder at the group of black, featureless drones heading toward them. Her eyes smarted in the thick, choking smoke that still enveloped the area.

    "Let's go - we fight or die!" Pushing past him, her finger instinctively activated the trigger of the pistol, firing several shots in quick succession. Three of the drones went down, the air around them shimmering as the atoms dispersed, disolving into nothingness. She flattened herself against the wall as a volley of lasers lit up the dark corridor.

    "Duck!" Something shoved her from behind and as she fell she heard the dull roar and hid her face from the blue glare of the radion grenade.

    The ranger hauled her swiftly back to her feet. "Sorry about that - come on, it won't be long before there are more of them - we have to get out of here."

    "You think I don't know that?" she gasped as they sped towards the turbo-tube leading to the exit. "Oh no - I don't believe it - what's that doing here?"
    Lyn -
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  3. DanielleThorne's Avatar
    Reading: PI Barrington
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    Default Escape from Tekron II; Excerpt 3

    The entrance to the different hangers mushroomed open to reveal a large expansive main cavern. Additional halls led off to alternate pads where ships could be refueled or repaired. Down one of them, Kira knew, waited the D ramp where the ranger’s hovercraft waited, but all appeared to be for naught. The newcomer meant more than trouble, it meant death.

    She gulped as she raked over the enormous spacecraft with the military ID stamped into its side. Drones continued to pour out of every available exit like cold black ants. Her protector fired another lethal round, and the enemy scattered.


    Kira swallowed again, her throat raw. The lieutenant’s ship had yet to drop its ramp. It would, probably within seconds, and there would worse to deal with than robotic soldiers.


    Lieutenant Monarch traveled with androids for security. The man was insane. He must have known her rescue was imminent. Torture hadn’t gotten what he wanted from her; at least his minions hadn’t been able to make her talk. That’s why he was here. He’d found the courage to come and see her face to face. Did he really think he could make reveal where the energy source was hidden?

    The humanoid beside her fired again and grabbed Kira by the wrist. She shook her head. “We’ll never get around the landing gear on that thing, much less onto the D platform.”

    He grunted as if she were whining about the air temperature...
    Danielle Thorne
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  4. HywelaLyn's Avatar
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    "Have faith," he hissed in her ear. Before she could reply, he tugged her arm. "This way"

    Kira turned to follow as he threw something in the direction of the gigantic vehicle. She gasped as a huge black cloud enveloped the ship. obscuring her vision and descending like a net over everything. A series of explosions erupted around them.

    "That should keep them busy for a few minutes. Stay close, we have to move fast if we're to get to the D platform before they realise it's only a cracker-mine.

    She bent double and followed him under the smoke. He still had hold of her wrist. He was either very clever, or completely insane. If the latter it didn't really matter, they'd be dead before she could do anything about it. He stopped suddenly and she collided with his back.

    She gasped, the breath knocked out of her body.

    "He half turned. "Shhssssh. Don't speak. Look - there!"
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  5. LarryH's Avatar
    Reading: Space Art, How to draw and paint planets, moons, and landscapes of alien worlds by Michael Carroll
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    #5

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    Kira followed the humanoid’s gloved wrist.The ramp lowered from the military ship and Lieutenant Monarch slowly walked down the sloping platform, waving his hands as if he could disperse the smoke. Kira expected to see his usual group of androids that protected him. Instead, a woman whom she supposed was the new Z-4 mech appeared. Kira almost laughed as the female mech was dressed in a blouse and skirt, her artificial black hair hanging to her shoulders. The humor was her exposed legs and arms. They appeared to be steel, probably titanium with tiny rivets, quite a contrast to her womanly garments and perfect figure.

    The Z-4 held out her arms and jets of steam emerged, immediately dispersing the cracker mine smoke. The multitude of drones spotted Kira and her protector and brought their plasma weapons to ready mode.

    “Time for me to earn my keep,” Kira said, and in one swift movement, jerked the automatic rifle from her humanoid protector and slapped the pistol in his hand with a second movement.

    “Are you crazy?” He yelled.

    “No more than you. Witness my augmentation mode, what they’ve been trying to discover through their experiments on me.” Her last several words were lost as she used her extra jointed legs and arms, speeding toward Monarch and the Z-4 in zigzagging lightening fast motion.

    She let lose a volley of plasma beams, cutting down or vaporizing drones that came from every direction. The heat from their plasma beams sunburned her exposed skin but none found their mark. One drone threw down its weapon, intent on doing hand to hand combat with her. She smashed the drone’s polycarbonate lenses, with the stock of her rifle, splintering the plastic to pieces.

    With the multitude of drones destroyed or disabled, Kira stood before Monarch. He smirked.
    “Very impressive. We know your secret power now. This is as far as you and your pathetic protector go.”

    “Well, you’re no longer hiding behind your androids. Now you cower behind a woman’s skirts.” Kira laughed while keeping watch on the Z-4.

    “Not any woman. Her name is Delilah. I’ve given her feelings by impressing my own ingrams on her bionic brain, but don’t take comfort in that. You’re about to witness her power.” Monarch let out his own laugh, an evil, “Ha, Ha, Ha.”
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  6. Laurean's Avatar
    Reading: Eugenia Price's "Bright Captivity"
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    #6

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    "Transmit, Delilah!" the wicked Lieutenant Monarch ordered.

    The hideous Z-4 android twirled wildly, flailing her titanium arms as she spun. Her tangled black hair fanned like a dirty mop caught in a Kansas twister. Laser beams shot from her jointed fingers to ricochet off the metal walls in all directions.

    "Down!" Ranger shoved Kira to the floor before he pressed the fumigator button on his Plasma pistol. An odious gas mushroomed out. "Stay down!" he ordered flopping down beside her. "The only hope we have is to crawl out. My observation tells me Delilah cannot fire below knee level, and the fumes will linger above us for several minutes. That should give us time to crawl to the exit. Thank God for the black smoke. That should conceal us. Let's go!"

    The evil Monarch gagged and sputtered as the nauseous gas filled his lungs. Through the smoke his barely audible voice rasped, "You will...never...get away...from Tekron! Fools!...You will..pay for this!" His barely visible form disappeared through the control room door.

    "Ranger, let's get out of here!" Kira screamed. Ranger crawled faster and faster, Kira on his heels, breathing a sigh of relief. Relieved she'd remembered to install knee pads in her space suit. What a time to think about that! She almost laughed. The opening loomed far ahead. Why did it seem they were making so little progress?

    Ranger assessed the situation. The stinging gas should keep Lieutenant Monarch indisposed for a couple more minutes, but would it be ample time for them to escape? And what other dirty tricks might he unleash from the control room? A surge of energy filled Ranger when he drank in the fresh air and spied their space craft just ahead through the narrow opening. He craned his neck to check on Kira. Where was she? She'd literally breathed down his neck a minute ago.

    "I can't shake him!" she screeched. "This blasted drone has a grip on me!"

    A semi-conscious drone tightened his ugly, black appendage on Kira's ankle. Ranger back-tracked and tried to peel the claw-like fingers from their vise-like grip. No use.

    Think, Ranger, think!

    Only one thing would save Kira. But he was taking a big chance. He had to act fast. Soon the evil Monarch would call out his special forces.

    Would Ranger's decision atomize Kira's ankle?
    He swallowed hard and mumbled, "Don't have a choice." Pulling the Plasma pistol from his holster, Ranger adjusted it to vaporize. After he breathed a silent prayer, he carefully aimed at the black fingers encircling Kira's ankle.
  7. #7

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    Praying for God to guide his aim and protect Kira, Ranger fired. The ugly black fingers dissolved. But Kira fainted, and her ankle turned red. Ranger put his hand in his pocket to get Soothing Salve.

    “You’ll never get out of here alive.”

    Ranger turned. It was Delilah. She spun around and around winding up her titanium arms getting ready to fire. He grabbed Kira and started to the exit door. Delilah running and spinning behind them. He pushed on the metal door. Nothing happened. He tried one more time. Taking out the Plasma Pistol, he blasted a hole in the door. Holding Kira tightly, he gazed into her face with its perfect features. Her tiny mouth so round; the long dark lashes curled on her closed eyelids.

    “You’ll never get through the Forest of Android Gargoyles. Even I don’t go there.” Delilah raised one of her arms and pointed.

    Ranger quickly carried Kira through the hole and stepped into darkness. His eyes adjusted to moonlight. His gun hanging loosely in his hand, he sped down a trail lined with foliage and trees with thick leaves. “Oh please, Kira, wake up.” He let his eyes drift from her dainty ankle, up her shapely legs, across her waist. The light and shadows played around the silver trim on her scoop-necked shirt where her heavy jacket lay open. “Kira, Kira, Kira,” he whispered. Laying her down on a clump of thick grass, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the Soothing Salve. He spread it, caressing her ankle. She opened her crystal, clear blue eyes and screamed.

    Ranger jumped. Did he frighten her? He followed her gaze upward. A monster with scaly skin, bulging blood red eyes and horns hung from the tree above them. The grotesque android with a small body and long arms wiggled bony fingers with razor-sharp claws. Ranger sprang up. “Can you run?”

    “Yes. How do we get to Platform D?”

    “I don’t know. Keep running.”

    They raced past the trees, the gargoyles screeching as they grabbed at them from the limbs.

    “Run, Kira, run.”

    Tears rolled down her cheeks. “We’ll never get out of here.”

    A bony finger swooped just above Kira’s shoulder, barely missing it. She screamed, stumbled and almost fell into a huge round light twirling around and around. She steadied herself, shielded her eyes with her hand and took a step forward.

    Ranger got in front of her. “Stop, Kira. We don’t know what vapor it is?”

    “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to help.”

    Ranger stepped back. “Help? Who are you?”

    “I am Light in the Darkness. I’ll lead you to a cave where you can rest. You’ll find directions to Platform D hidden under a stone behind the waterfall. Everything you need will be there. Stay close to me. The gargoyles can’t stand to look at my light.”
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  8. Joyce DiPastena's Avatar
    Reading: Wrong Number, by Rachelle Christensen
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    Kira looked back over her shoulder to see if it was true. Sure enough, the gargoyles cowered in the trees or close to the ground, the pupils of their mechanical eyes drawn into tight, black slits as though blinded by the light.

    “Come,” the voice spoke, an urgency underlying the pure, crystal tones. “I am not permitted to remain long. The vapor will dissipate and the portal will be gone forever if you do not step through it quickly.

    “What choice do we have?” Kira asked Ranger. “Stay here in the dark with these gargoyles? Fight our way back to face Delilah again?

    “Quickly!” pled the voice. Already it and the light seemed to grow fainter.

    Kira locked eyes with Ranger. They decided together in an instant, joined hands, and ran into the light.

    A moment of white blindness, and then Kira stumbled to her knees. She looked around her, blinking.

    “Ranger?” Where was he?

    “Here!” he called back.

    Somehow the force of the portal had thrown them apart. He lay sprawled on his back a few feet away from her, but sat up looking unharmed.

    Relieved, Kira turned her attention to their surroundings and raised a hand of shock to her mouth. Above them arched a blue, cloudless sky of pristine beauty. Two suns hung like dollops of honey in the sky, one at the midday position, the other directly over their heads at noon. After the crackling of plasma pistols, the whirring of Delilah’s lethal limbs, the silence of this place was almost deafening. No birds chirruped in the blackened, leafless trees. No animals skittered from the crumbling, desolated buildings. Not even an insect hummed in the lonely stillness.

    “Where are we?” Kira whispered.

    A voice as pure as the crystal sky—the same voice that urged them through the portal of light—answered her question.

    “This was once my home. This is Tekron I.”

    Kira scrambled around. At first she thought she stared into the portal again. But this light was brighter, so nearly blinding that she had to raise a hand to shield her eyes. As though mindful of her vulnerability, the light dimmed by ever so small degrees until she could see what stood at its center. No, not what, who. A beautiful young man with hair like burnished gold, dressed in a white robe that glistered brighter than the two suns overhead.

    “I will explain on the way to the cave,” the young man said. “If you wish to prevent Tekron II from becoming…” he waved a hand at the blasted, crumbling buildings… “this, you will have to obey my every word.”
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  9. #9

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    Without hesitation, Kira moved to him. Gliding, she outstretched her hands, moving towards him with increasing speed.

    “Ranger! Are you with me?” She called over her shoulder, refracted light beams blocking her vision. “Ranger?”

    Roaring winds tossed her words and whipped her hair. The light of two glowing suns grew stronger, warmer. The winds raged in a swirling vortex and propelled her high above the ground into the clear, cerulean sky. Kira extended her arms, adjusted her frame. Perfectly balanced, she was flying.

    The golden-haired man soared before her, his robe billowing.

    “O, savior of all!” she cried, despair overcoming her. Beneath her the rubble of a lifeless land sat, its presence dark, its future, nil. Tekron 1, ruined, sprawled beneath her, a testimony to the dark side. Slowing, she hovering over the blasted, crumbled landscape.

    “I am here, Kira.” Ranger joined her, taking her hand.

    Relief flooded through her. Gripping Ranger’s wrist, she forced herself to look upwards, towards the golden-haired one, and not look beneath her. “We must go to him, Ranger.”

    “His name is Adlai. He has finally returned!” Eyes glowing, joy seemed to radiate from Ranger’s entire organism.

    They landed at the mouth of the cave. Ranger prostrated himself before Adlai, and Kira followed suit.

    “At last, Adlai.” Ranger spoke with reverence.

    Adlai gestured for the to rise. “We have much work, and not much time. To the cave.”

    They followed Adlai into the cave. Kira’s eyes adjusted quickly, for the area glistened with light from afar. A patina of sleet iced the walls and swirling mists danced around them on the narrow ledge where they stood. On either side, Kira could not see what lay beneath them.

    “I hear water,” she said, "where is it?"

    “Here, Kira. This is the River Remembrance.” Adlai stepped off the ledge, onto the water. “We must traverse this course, now, and enter the Next Dimension.”

    Kira jumped off the ledge onto the water, next to him. Ranger was right behind her.

    “I’m on top of the water!”

    “Kira.” Adlai gave a broad smile. “These waters will carry you forever. Now we forge into the Next Dimension, our new tomorrrow."


    With those words, he disappeared.





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  10. Miss Mae's Avatar
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    “Oh.” Kira brushed a weak hand across her forehead in an attempt to erase the throbbing pain.

    “Here.” Ranger’s voice sounded unusually loud, and Kira felt a strong hand cradle her head, easing her to a sitting position. Something hard and moist pressed against her lips and she drank greedily from the canteen.

    “Oh,” she moaned again, wincing from the effort. Eyelids fluttering open, she squinted against the light, slowly absorbing the strange surroundings of Tekron I.

    The quietness of the place set her nerves on edge, as well as the fact of how the double suns hadn’t moved from their original position in the sky. She studied the area with a slow, careful gaze.

    As if aware of her thoughts, Ranger commented, “Glad to see that you’re wary.”

    She looked at him as he squatted near an almost dry water hole. He refilled the canteen, strapped it to his belt, and rose to his feet. His boot nudged the edge of the now removed black helmet from where it lay discarded on the ground. A distinct crack lined the faceplate.

    Kira made as if to rise, and Ranger turned his head. He extended a hand and helped her upright. Standing before him, she stated the obvious. “You’re a past victim of Monarch’s.”

    “Yeah.” He gave a careless shrug, but the patchwork of vivid red scars that lined his face couldn’t mask the emotions of unbridled contempt and rage.

    Kira glanced at his profile. A shaggy cap of dark, unkempt strands curled past his collar and his firm jaw line was shadowed with an uneven stubble. The fact that he still resembled a human at all spoke volumes about the man’s resolve. “So that’s why the Council appointed you? Because of your knowledge of Monarch’s--” she hesitated, “formulas?”

    “I volunteered for this assignment.” For the first time, he gave her a point blank look. “I wasn’t about to leave the scientist who designed this positronic eye of mine in the clutches of that egomaniac.” He gave a sharp nod of satisfaction. “Does me good to know I got you out of that cell before he carved up your beautiful features.”

    Kira dropped her gaze, frowning as a surge of heat thrummed in her pulse. Despite his scarred and unshaven appearance, she couldn’t deny a strong magnetism towards Ranger’s damnably masculine presence. Abruptly, she turned aside, gesturing at their surroundings.

    ”So here we are at Tekron I. What could’ve happened to Adlai?”

    “He wasn’t real.”

    “What?” Kira turned back to Ranger.

    His eyes--both the human and mechanized technologically advanced one--narrowed as he stared at the shape of the distant mountains. “That smoke we ran through, Monarch laced it with hallucinogenics. My helmet mostly protected me from inhaling a lungful, until one of Delilah’s lasers zapped through. But you got the full effect.”

    “Whoa, wait,” she protested. “I’m not dreaming this. Those suns are real, they’re giving real warmth. And we actually did run through a gargoyle forest.”

    “We ran together, yes. And we’re here, yes. But where is here?” Ranger gave a cautious shake of his head. “While you were knocked out, you muttered something about a New Dimension.”

    Why should the way he spoke those last two words send trepidation snaking down Kira’s spine? Slowly, she released her breath, not realizing she’d held it.

    “New Dimension,” she repeated. “I remember hearing Monarch’s drones talk about that.”

    Before Ranger could answer, a blood-curdling scream erupted into the air.


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