Madness in the Air

 

“Quackadoodle do!”

Ted watched the smoke rising up from blasted open roof of the cyborg gang leader’s long black car. From his vantage point above the lightning scarred battlefield he could see the big three armed cyborg thrashing in his crash seat as he burned to death.

“It smells like someone burnt supper”, he yelled into his com. Apparently no one in his gang thought that as funny as he did. They didn’t respond to it. There was some screaming on the line though but what did that matter? It wasn’t him. He was safe, flying high and dominating the sky.

He saw the long haired cyborg woman slid her bike around the front of the stalled black car.

“You’re next, chickadee!”

He swung the twin lasers under his helicopter at Trillian. The reticle on his heads up display landed on her back.

“Gotcha.”

He reached for the fire button, but then she gave her bike some throttle and the reticle slid away. The rear wheel of her bike threw dirt and she sped across the field. He started to track her with the weapon, but an explosion beneath him drew his attention to the battlefield directly under him. He saw the Quack Truck rolling along headed for Havok’s stalled car. The trailer it pulled looked wrong. He puzzled about why as Trillian fled away.

“Didn’t that thing used to have sides? I’m pretty sure it did.”

There was nothing left of the trailer’s sides. On one side the edges of the blasted away opening were curled inward but on the other side they were blasted outward.

“Wow! What happened there?”

He looked left to the vehicles of the Hellskull’s gang parked in a row next to their disabled car. Smoke rolled up from the rocket launchers and machine guns of all five of the vehicles.

“I took out one of your cars”, he yelled at them, forgetting that he was actually screaming into his gang’s com. “You were supposed to stop shooting! Cheaters!”

But then another thought occurred to him.

“Hey, weren’t Quacky John and Duck Tape in the trailer?”

He looked down and saw a blasted body hanging out of the trailer. The body was headless, it’s neck a ragged stump of blackened flesh. As he watched the trailer bounced and the corpse’s left arm fell off. It landed in the dirt.

“Hey”, Ted yelled into his com. “Slacker! Someone tell Quacky John to pick up his arm and get back in the fight. And his head. He’s going to need that.”

He heard his gang leader talking to him on the com. He hadn’t been concentrating on the man’s voice so all that he had heard was the tinny clanging of fourteen pair of tiny cymbals. He shook his head to focus his thoughts and called into the com, “What was that, ducks?”

“I said, climb”, replied his gang leader. “Get Mallard One higher. I need it out of the reach of Hellskull’s weapons.”

“But I can take them out right here”, Ted countered. “Their top armor is butter and this twin laser is a hot knife!”

“Listen to me, Ted. Your bottom armor is damn near gone. I can practically see your legs.”

Ted looked down and to his surprise he could see the hard packed ground through a hole next to his right foot. He picked up a wrench from the top of his console and dropped it through the hole. That made him laugh but Ducky was speaking again.

“We’ve taken too much damage down here and with the pit slaves out of the fight we don’t need Hellskull’s guns focusing on us. He’s too busy trying to get his disabled car running and I want it that way.”

Ted did indeed see the mechanic of the cultist gang under the hood of the disabled car. The rest of the gang was lined up next to it, their weapons trained on the Duck Truck.

“You’re my best threat, Ted. Climb so they can’t touch you and keep those hot knives trained on them. Hold them at bay.”

“Threaten them?” Ted grabbed the stick of his lasers and swung the guns down the rank of cultist vehicles. “I can take them out now!”

“Ted, don’t”, yelled Ducky. “You fire one shot and they fire on us down here. We’re right in front of them. I’ll lose every ground vehicle I’ve got.”

“But I can take them all”, said Ted. “I know I can. I can do it. I can. I can. I can.”

His gang leader cut him off by yelling into the com.

“Kill switch, Ted! Don’t make me use it!”

Ted quietened and took a slow breath.

“You don’t really have one”, he said. “I don’t believe it.”

“I do”, countered Ducky. “I installed it myself. I press one button and you lose your engines. You drop like a rock.”

Ted looked through the hole in the floor of his bird.

“You just don’t trust me”, he said in a sulky voice. He swung his lasers away from Hellskull’s gang. He tracked them toward the Duck Truck but stayed them when they reached the half way mark.

“Of course I don’t”, said Ducky. “That’s why I have this kill switch. Now climb and hold position while I parley with Hellskull.”

Ted looked to the right side of the battlefield where the cyborg pit slaves were speeding away in their van with two motorcycles flanking it.

“Can I at least shoot the cyborgs?”

“No! Climb!”

Ted grumbled into his com but gave his helicopter some rotor and gained altitude. In seconds he was too high for any of the ground based weapons. Below him Ducky climbed out of his truck. Hellskull and the tall woman who spoke for him climbed out of the cultist leader’s car and walked toward Ducky.

Ted ignored them. Talking wasn’t shooting and it bored him. He saw an empty can of Bile Beans. He picked it up and dropped it through the hole in his helicopter’s floor.

That was fun. It made him laugh.

He looked for more stuff to drop. He found an old motherboard and some empty shotgun husks and then a few empty cans of chewing tobacco. He dropped all of it and a lot more. He laughed and kept up a steady rain of falling garbage as his leader talked with Hellskull and the rest of the gang looted the wreckage of the downed government helicopter.

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