The Title

by David Caldwell

When Shiva Starts to Dance: Part 13.


The lab was stripped and most of the loading completed. Opal and Rolf had just left the now empty lab and were making their way to the ship. Michael was entering a last message into the ESPER system letting any Replicants who might still be out in the city know to make for New Oslo. Rick was putting a final load of canisters on a sled when an explosion caused him to drop the canister he was holding, draw his pistol from its holster and drop to one knee as he span around. Michael had turned around, a resigned expression on his face. Rick could see a large smoking, bloody hole in his chest and as he staggered forward Rick could see that it went all the way through and out Michael's back.

Michael turned his head to face Rick, his lips moving but no sound emerging from his mouth, he then fell forward to the floor and lay still.

Rick spun around to face the door of the lab. Standing there was a slouching figure in a long coat, leaning on a silver headed cane. In his other hand he held a Blade Runner Special, which was aimed at Rick.

"Gaff!" Rick exclaimed, "What?"
"Deja vu eh Deckard? You and I standing over this dead Replicant? Only this time it will end differently because you'll be retired as well, you and all your new friends. I've wired the reactor core to blow, any time now, it'll take half the city with it, but they're all as good as dead anyway. A nice neat finish wouldn't you say?"

"Gaff please, you don't have to do this, we can take you with us," Rick said inching forward.
"No deal Skinjob. Time to die," Gaff said priming his pistol.

At that instant Deckard dived sidewards firing his gun. The shot went wide hitting the doorframe beside Gaff who swivelled to aim at Deckard on the floor. The roar of Rick's shot was subsumed by another sound as the huge striped shape of Kali landed on Gaff's back knocking him to the floor, tearing the back of his neck away in bloody tatters before Gaff even had time to scream.

Rick sat looking in amazement at the bloodied face of the tiger still crouching on the motionless body of Gaff. Kali raised her head and let out another loud roar.

The sound shook Rick from his trance. He sprang to his feet and crossed the floor to kneel besides Michael. Michael's eyes were open but there was no life in his body. Rick leant forward and kissed the still warm lips.

He got to his feet and headed for the door summoning Kali to follow him. He had no idea how much time he had to get to the ship before the charge that Gaff had set detonated in the building's reactor core. He knew it would cause a chain reaction that would engulf everything within miles.

The elevator to the landing pad rose steadily up the two hundred or so levels to the top of the building, Rick at any moment expecting to hear the muffled explosion, which would be the last thing that he would ever know.

Rick was unable to determine how long the trip had taken but felt surprised when the elevator stopped and the door opened onto the huge expanse of the roof. A group stood by the cargo bay door of the battered transport ship. Rick ran towards them yelling for them to get on board. He saw Opal and screamed the words "launch now." She ran up the ramp into the ship followed by the others.

Rick, followed by Kali, reached the ramp seconds after them and threw himself forward, half crawling up the ramp as it began to rise. He and the tiger rolled down the by then nearly vertical ramp to the vibrating, metal deck of the cargo bay. The engines of the ship roared into life. The others in the bay all slid to the deck with the thrust of the vertical take off, there not being any inertia dampening systems in the cargo area.

All Rick was aware of was the whine of the engines and the pressure pushing him into the deck; he wasn't aware of the sudden luminescence fracturing free of the Tyrell building gradually filling the whole sky only then to be followed by a massive roaring that moved outward pursuing the light, leaving a black blankness behind it, It wasn't till the rising ship was suddenly pushed upwards at an accelerated pace by the shock wave that Rick knew that the reactor had detonated.

Just when Rick thought he was about to merge with the metal of the deck he felt a reduction in the pressure. He became aware of movement around him. He looked up and found himself looking into the still bloody face of the Replicant tiger who, with its long pink tongue, was attempting to clean the gore from it's muzzle.

Opal made her way over extending him her hand.
"Opal, Michael's dead," he said getting to his feet.
"I know," she said evenly, "come on we've got a lot to do."

The Second Coming
by William Butler Yeats - 1921

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


The End

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