Intruders chapter 9 scene 2
In the abandoned opencast workings, Darrow’s assailant pushed him away and desperately scrambled for the entrance to the cave. Darrow recovered his balance and pursued. At the entrance, where the attacker had scrambled out, he emerged cautiously, on the lookout for another attack, but there was no sign of the man. Darrow stood up, and a large rock landed on the top of his helmet. The force drove him to his knees and sent a shock through his spine and shoulders. His heart leaped in fear. If his helmet was damaged, he could run out of air before he reached the airlock, but to his relief, his helmet was undamaged. The man was above him now, scrambling up the face of the cliff.
Darrow took his grapple off his belt and swung it round, looking for a place to land the hook. Looking upwards in a suit wasn’t easy at the best of times, now a shaft of pain coursed down his neck. He found a likely spot and launched the hook, which landed too far to the right. He stepped carefully to the left, pulled on the rope, and the hook slid sideways and caught. He pulled himself quickly up the rock face, but his attacker reached the top first, looked down and saw him.
The man walked over to the hook and kicked it repeatedly with his heavy boot until the cliff edge gave way and the grapple fell. The shaking of the rope when he kicked the hook had alerted Darrow, who threw himself on a ledge at the last minute as the grapple fell past him.
Darrow scrambled up the rest of the way and looked cautiously over the edge. The man was heading for a buggy with balloon wheels parked behind a spoil heap. Darrow boosted himself to his feet and followed. He reached the buggy and leaped on the back just as the man started it. Various tools on arms projected from the back, and as Darrow and the man struggled, they knocked a switch, starting some of them.
It’s not easy to fight wearing a space suit, Darrow wasn’t getting very far. As they grappled, another switch was knocked and the buggy started forward with a jerk. The man grabbed the steering wheel but Darrow wasn’t so lucky. He fell sideways off the back of the buggy, towards a spinning circular saw. There was no way he could avoid it. Darrow gasped in surprise as he was pulled backward by the suit and swung clear, then dumped on the ground as the other man sped away.
Darrow sat for a second in astonishment. Why would he save me?
[Next week: The rescue of the trapped miners, and Captain Darrow makes a discovery.]
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