“I’m only 18. I wonder if I’ll live to see 19?”

Dillon muttered this softly to himself as he opened the door carefully, stuck his head out and peeked down the service corridor.

Behind him, members of the ELO Tribunal wordlessly filed out a back door on the other side of the room. Dillon suspected there were multiple secret passageways throughout this large underground complex. They would likely get away without any difficulties. Monitors were practically nonexistent down here, and bioscanners on combat suits did not work well through all the ground, metal, and concrete.

The old man called Elephant stopped on his way out and looked across the room at him. Dillon glanced back at him and decided he looked like an actor from those ancient movies he liked to watch. An old and wise black man, with years of experience and a calm voice. Such actors were very popular at one time, and despite Hollywood’s obsession with youth and beauty, the wise old man was a common motif in many movies.

Elephant nodded at him and imparted his wisdom. He said, “Make it to the spaceport.”

“Well, I guess that passes for wisdom.”

The old man blinked, unsure what Dillon meant. He shrugged and took out a blaster from inside his coat. He gently tossed it toward Dillon.

Dillon caught it and nodded back. “First, I’ll give y’all a distraction,” he said.

Elephant nodded with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Okay. But don’t be late for Angel.”

Then he was gone, following the others.

Dillon peeked out the door again.


He heard a scream, and one of the guards disguised as a bum fell backward at the intersection, smoke rising from his chest.

A group of five armed men wearing blaster armor rounded the corner and headed down the corridor. They spotted Dillon’s head sticking out the doorway.


Dillon pulled the blaster up and squeezed off several shots.

Thoop! Thoop! Thoopah! Thoop!

They spread out and fired back, peppering the corridor with green streaks of energy.


Dillon ducked back inside the room.

“Forget 19,” he said to himself. “Twenty would be nice. I mean, that’s two decades, right? Please, God. Let me live at least two decades. That’s all I ask. It’s not much, is it? I mean, the war will be over by then, right? I hope so, God. Make that happen, will ya? In two years, not decades. Well, you know what I mean. I mean, you’re God, right?”

When Dillon looked out the doorway again, he ducked low so his head would not be in the same place. The armored men had advanced several meters. They were now halfway down the corridor.

“Thank you Naval supply depot,” Dillon said, reaching into a pocket and taking out one of the last few mini-claymore mines the Resistance had captured some time back.

Dillon had not been in on that raid, but he was a proud recipient of the loot. Somebody else in Yorkton had fashioned plungers with five-second timers for them so they could serve as makeshift grenades.

He squeezed the plunger, reached his arm out the door and tossed it toward the men.

Thoop! Thoop!

They shot at his arm, and missed fortunately.

“Look out!”


As soon as the mini claymore went off, Dillon jumped out the door shooting. Three bodies were down, one man was on his knees holding his head and another stood dazed in the back.

Thoop! Thoop! Thoop!

He shot the two on their feet first. The blasts knocked them back, but the armor protected them somewhat.

Thoop! Thoop! Thoop! Thoop! Thoopah! Thoop!

He advanced quickly, shooting again and again, aiming for their heads. He found his marks as he came closer to the bodies.

Thoop! Thoop! Thoop! Thoop! Thoop!


Dillon looked down at the blaster, then back at the bodies.

“Well, I hope you guys are dead, because I am out.”

Nobody responded. Smoke rose from the bodies, especially the helmets and cracked visors. Blood pooled in the dim light on the floor, slickening the concrete around the bodies.

Dillon tucked the empty blaster into the back of his belt and bent down at the closest body.

“Can I borrow this? SSI standard issue, am I right?”

He carefully tucked the agent’s gun into the front of his belt.

“You don’t have any . . . I don’t know . . . egg grenades or anything useful like that? Don’t lie to me, I’ll kill ya. Oh, right. Never mind.”

A quick scan of the front of the body showed nothing.

“Shucks. Well, five more guns are good. They call me ‘Gun Bane.’ No, that doesn’t sound right. ‘Troll Bane’ sounds cool, but you guys aren’t really trolls. ‘SSI Bane? No.”

Quickly, he picked up the rest of the guns, and made his way toward the subway entrance. He would have to hurry to make it to the spaceport.

“How am I going to get into the spaceport with weapons?”

He stopped and looked back at the armor-clad bodies.

Minutes later, dressed in stolen armor and a cracked visor, Dillon kept muttering to himself as he ran down the corridors.

“They call me SSI Bane. Agent Bane? Bad Guy Bane? Terror of SSI? . . . Guess I’ll stick with ‘Shark.’”


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