Chapter 17 - The Gambler
950 days ago
Chapter 17, The Gambler
Perhaps it was Jack Russo’s bad fortune that he had chosen to
wear his lucky red winner shirt for the tournament that day. It was the tiny
man in the red shirt that caught Burgers attention, standing out from the crowd
at the lower level of the damaged gambling hall. Burger was in a bad mood, the
city denied him his chance at massive slaughter by emptying its population
before they got there. The few scattered thousands would have to do. He hoped the Imams, following their
destruction from afar, would not be too disappointed. He needed to play a game of sorts, to make this more fun.
It was the tiny figure in the red shirt, just one in the
mass of tiny people seeking to escape the destruction going on around
them. Burger reached down and scooped
up a handful of people. He discerningly squashed everyone on his hand, saving
the one in the red shirt. For Jack, the
scene was surreal and bloody. He had served a tour of Iran, and had witnessed
the carpet bombing of the city, dead bodies mangled by explosives were images
he held. They pervaded his nightmares and
robbed him of sleep. Now every instinct was tuned into survival, but the
situation was impossible. He was scooped up in the giant boys hand, and held
hundreds of feet above the ground, An older man who was also scooped up, was
grabbing at Jacks sleeve, begging Jack to help him. As the man was doing so, a
huge pair of fingers descended upon him and lifted him up from Jacks grasp, a
rain of blood showered down upon him.
All around him those on the hand were being killed and crushed, but the
giant avoided killing him. There was no escape, he was being singled out. After
everyone else was mashed to a pulp, the giant addressed Jack.
“Are you feeling lucky, little man?” Burger asked.
the freak would he know about Clint Eastwood, Jack thought to himself. Burger continued,
“You came here to gamble and to win, and in
truth, you have survived up till now. I
now offer you a different game, one where the stakes are raised a bit. You see, little man, it’s a game of life or
death for you. If you win, you live, if
I win, you die, what do you
Burger was aware that the huge monster was addressing
him, He could not believe it, but it seemed so. He understood the giants words,
it was talking to him. He was being offered a chance to escape? With a bluff of bravado, Jack the gambler answered.
“Can you hear me Giant boy?”
“My name is Haman the destroyer, and yes I can hear you,
“What is your game?” Jack asked. Slade who was crushing the giant 520 foot
tall New York Casino, across the street, looked on as Burger had his
conversation with one of his victims, he smiled shook his head and continued
ripping the casino apart. .
Burger studying the tiny man, with his remote viewing
sphere, seemed content, this little bug had the nerve to address him, and not
poop in its pants out of fear.
The game is simple, I will set you on the street and give
you a fifteen minute head start, and, Burger paused, as if heeding an inner voice. Excuse me a minute, seems I got some pressing work to attend to right away.” Burger kicked down the remaining walls of
the fractured ruins below, and brought his foot down upon fifty screaming
people, crushing them as one would a cigarette butt. He turned his attention back to Jack.
“Oooh, did you see how they spattered? Like that?
Um, I didn’t get your name,”
Jack who glanced down at the unfortunates below, crossed
himself, and said boldly,
“My name is Jack, like in “Jack the Giant killer”
Russo, Jack Russo he repeated. Fifteen minutes is not enough
time, seeing as how you are so huge,
you would find me easily, give
me an hour head start.” Burger smiled,
he enjoyed the challenge.
“Yes we are huge
to you, little Jack, and you got a
pair, as your people might say, in challenging me like that, but I like it.
Ok, I will give you a half hour to
escape. Rule number one. You have to keep that red top you wear on. I have to be able to recognize you on
sight. If you are in a building I am
already crushing, you have to alert me. You can not die with the rest, your
death will be really special. I promise you that.” Burger
produced a tiny medallion that he had synthesized for just such a game. It was
microscopically tiny for Burger, who kept it in a storage unit on his strap; He
took it out, spilling the container with the medallion and chain onto his palm
this on” He commanded, “If you take it off, I will consider the game over, and
just crush the crap out of you on the spot,
No, you wear this till the end” Jack reached down and picked up the
medallion, it was funny, it looked just
like his lucky poker chip that he carried in his wallet. This was a bit bigger, and it obviously had
some electronics concealed inside it.
“You wear this, and you will be able to talk to me, no
matter where you are. If you are still
alive by the time we totally wreck this city, you win. I will let you live. But
if I should find you and tag you. You will stain my fingers, or worse. We got a deal?” Jack would say anything to stay alive, so he agreed to this deadly
game of hide and seek. Burger, content that he now had a game to play, lowered
the tiny human to the street level, his voice boomed,
“One half hour, little dead man, Haaa haa haa” His voice thundered. Jack jumped off the hand when
he was close enough to the ground to land without doing himself any harm. He glanced at his Breitling gold watch, He
had till six thirty before the giant would come searching for him. People
pushed by him running in terror, He
could not be concerned about the
others, he had to find a way out of town.
“Watch out Jack,” Came the voice booming from the sky, Burgers foot fell directly by nearly
brushing Jacks side, and crushing dozens
of cars trucks and people right next to him. The force of the footfall was like
an explosion, shaking the ground he stood on. The boys foot sunk ten feet below
the ground level, leaving a crater in the ruined street. It was as if a Aircraft Carrier had fallen
just a few feet from where he stood, and then lifted itself.
“Thirty minutes Jack, get a move on.”
Slade was ripping the edifice apart in his hands, there
were two thousand rooms in this hotel, most were deserted, but for the hundred
or so who remained, the New York Casino
was hell. Slade watched as the roller coaster on the buildings side, sent its
cars around the winding track, mostly empty.
Slade put his remote viewer in the front car, and switched to view mode,
as the tiny car made it’s round. Slade
liked the part of the ride, where the car, made it’s two hundred foot climb,
the highest hill on the track. Looking
straight ahead, and two hundred feet up from the top, was Slades enormous
member. Slade had to laugh as he focused on himself, from the front cars view. The tiny car took the top of the hill and
then plummeted down towards the Giants feet.
“Wheeee” Slade said, as he flattened it at ground level, with his foot.
The General had not slept for more than an hour at a
shift. The combination of Cigars and
Caffeine and adrenalin kept him going. He supervised the actions of Yelid and
Cory. After the rescue of Buddy’s wife,
he addressed the boys.
“You boys have done an amazing job for the people of
Earth, and we thank you. Now the hard work begins. We have to isolate the two
to a remote area. There are some badlands just north of Las Vegas where the
boys are currently tearing up the town. There you have to lure them and
confront them, fight them if you have to, and stop them from their murderous
rampage. We cannot offer you any weapons, their straps make them invincible to
us, but you can stop them. If you get their straps off they will be vulnerable,
and our weapons will be able to neutralize them.” Yelid was uneasy with this.
“You say neutralize them, you mean kill them?”
“We have no choice” General Holland responded, “There is
no other way to get them to stop their rampage. They have killed thousands of
Earth people, in our book they are guilty of murder. Our answer is the Death
penalty. They earned it. You are welcome to try to talk them out of their
murderous plan, but I don’t see that they will stop because of you. Our jet
fighters will be circling high altitude, waiting for your success. Get the
belts off and keep yours on, we will do the rest,
was against the Bedem code of ethics. In spite of the damage Burger and Slade
were doing, the basic rule must be followed: a Bedem must not kill another
Bedem Even on other planets; the law was still in effect. Yelid was uneasy even if it was the Earth
people doing the killing. “General Holland, we know what the boys are doing is
wrong, but Cory and I do not want to be responsible for killing them” Noble sentiments, the General thought, as he
if you can think of another way, let me know. It looks at the moment like we
have no other choice.”
and Astar choose not to lock in, but rather, to enter the atmosphere
independently, they would rendezvous once down. The location would be a place
called Death Valley. The Monopods slid
through the thin air as the heat shields took on a glow. Both had reviewed the transmissions coming
from the planet. They were aware of the destruction going on, and they were
also tracking Yelid and Cory. Bendict
suggested that they should back up Yelid And Cory, who would most likely need
their help in restraining Slade and Burger. The rescue ships were following
just a few time periods behind. It would be great if they arrived early. The
entire known planetary system was aware of what was going on in this remote
unexplored sector. There were rumors that even the Supreme Watcher was alerted
to the situation, after all, a rift in a wormhole corridor was a cause for
Element of surprise is our top card” Astar nodded in agreement and joined
Bendict as he switched on the stealth app.
The pods gracefully hovered over the desert floor, both Astar and Bendict stepped out and
locked their craft. They would travel on foot. Their navigation tools showed
their location on a map, They were also
able to track the others.
look at this” Astar said, kneeling down,
a tiny gas station stood on the side of the two lane road below the
girls feet. It had a shingle roof, a
vent for a fireplace, a rickety wooden front porch, with a door and signs in
the windows. Two pumping stations stood beside the store. All could fit under
the girls thumb.
darling!” She said. This was their first contact with Earthly things. They were
aware there was a size difference, but seeing the tiny shack was a thrill.
people” Bendict grinned. It would be
great to meet some he thought. The blinking indicator on his strap caught his
got to get back into my pod for a minute Astar, I am getting a transmission,
and I think it’s from Punims pod”
Bendict opened the door panel, jumped in, and tuned in on the signal
beautiful Bellagio was being ripped asunder under Slades crushing hands He
liked punching through the walls and windows, ripping the rooms apart and
turning the inside of the building, out. Slade took a deep breath and blew out
his exhale, These were dense structures, and although they crumpled, they
needed a bit of work to demolish them. Burger was handling the other side of
the street, He had just walked through the Venice Casino, literally. The sensation brought a smile to Burgers
little Jack, time to find you,” He eyed
the strip before him, There were still people scurrying. Burger grinned as he
sent out his remote viewers in search mode. It shouldn’t take too long. The casino before him stood some thirty
stories high, the size of a good
bench, Burger turned his back to the
square like structure, and sat himself down. The structure was not built to
withstand the millions of tons of weight on the roof. The concrete pillers
snapped and shattered. The steel beams bent before snapping. The roof buckled
from the weight, and set a chain reaction on the floors below. From the roof
down, the floors fell upon themselves, Those in the building had no means of escape.
The ceiling simply fell with the weight of the boys bottom resting on it, the
walls of the casino burst outward, shattering the windows and walls. Burgers
immense frame sunk deeper and deeper into the structure, to his amusement. He stood up and looked at the remains of the
building, while brushing debris and mashed bodies off his rear. What was that that caught his eye, in the
street two blocks down? His viewer
confirmed that it was Jack, running toward one of the downtown Casinos.
glanced up the strip and saw the dark haired colossus sitting on Ceasers
Palace, He watched as the building disintegrated beneath the giants rear. The
structure blured and shattered under the boy.
Amazing, he thought as puffs of dense grey smoke rose from the demolished
building. While the boy was occupied,
Jack ran into the lobby of the Mirage,
He was surprised there were still people there, some even at the Slots! He knew he could not stay, The giant would
seek him out and destroy everything in his path.
The stupid flying silvery beach ball with the
big lens, was following him everywhere.
The last thing the camera recorded, before Jack whacked it with a sledge
hammer, was of Jack running to a downed
motorcycle, in the parking lot. The
owner lay sprawled on the curb, hit by flying shrapnel. The motorcycle still had the key in it. Jack lifted the heavy machine, climbed
aboard, and with a satisfying roar of the motor, headed south. He would seek
the side streets, and try to avoid being found. If he could get Out of town,
the bike would take him miles away to safety.
little idiot damaged his remote viewer, and for that Burger was angered, he
regretted letting the little worm go. Burger would forgo random destruction,
and would make a concentrated effort at seeking the tiny man. He saw a man in a red shirt duck into the
lobby of a Casino, stooping down on
hands and knees, Burger forced his hands through the tiny glass doors, and
groped the main lobby, pulling out a handful of people. One was wearing a red
shirt, but it was not Jack. Burger dashed them to the ground and mashed them,
with a curse. Are you in this Casino? He spoke into his straps mike, The
medallion Jack carried would transmit the message. Jack hearing it, responded,
you can rip it apart, I’m not there,
How much longer is this going to last?” Jack challenged.
pleased with the response replied,
it will end soon enough for you, as soon as I get my hands on you”
giant observation tower on the strip was three hundred feet taller than Slade,
but not for long. Slade crumpled the towering needle like cardboard, the top
support bent like soft wax, and fell to the boys feet. Twelve hundred feet
below. The observation deck crunched under Slades foot. He noticed Burger
kicking through some ruins, and asked if everything was OK, Burger intent on his hunt now, nodded his
you are” The voice boomed, Jack looked up from his hiding spot in the
alley. The Giants massive form towered
above the buildings,
yourself dead, it was a good fight you put up, but now it’s over for you”
Burger reached down into the alley to grasp the tiny human. Jack looked up, cursed and quickly planed
his evasion. The boys hand was lowering toward him as Jack made his move.
Cranking the Harley he reared up on his hind tires, and with a noisy blast,
tore down the alley.
“What?” The motorcycle caught Burger by surprise.
The alleyway was narrow, filled with obstacles, but this was working in Jacks
favor, Burger had a difficult time reaching
between the narrow passageway, It made
Jack hard to reach. Jack raced down the
alleyway, aware that behind him the buildings were being torn apart. His bike
bounced as he tore out once more onto the strip, heading like a bat out of
hell, south, Burger looked down from
behind the building that Jack escaped.
He tore the building down viciously, and started to pursue Jack, The Engine roared as Jack gunned it, leaning
into the sleek machine, swerving to avoid the many obstacles blocking his path.
He was aware of the pounding footsteps that were gaining on him, He realized he
could not outrace this giant. Burger
was gaining on the tiny man, when he swerved off the strip, and into the
parking lot of the Treasure Island Casino,
not stopping in the lot, he headed for the underground parking structure
and disappeared within.
looked down at the elaborate structure with it’s grotto and pirate ships.
Burger knelt by the building and lowered his view to look into the parking
structure. It was dark in there. His ears perked up as he heard the sound of
the motorcycle gunning.
so ready for you” Said Burger, grinning. “Come on out to daddy” Burger watched as the tiny motorcycle sped
out of the structure, making a sharp right turn, and raced to the street. What Burger did not observe, was the red car
that exited to the left. This was the car Jack traded for his motorcycle. He
gave the driver fair warning and did not want to look back when the Giant found
himself chasing the wrong guy. By that time Jack would reach the south side of
town, and head out into the open road. He was sure the giant had other things
to do, then to track him down.
looked at the tiny motorcycle in his hand, and the rider laid out next to it.
not Jack” He roared. His fist pounded
the machine and it’s rider.
Jack, Where are you now” Jack was reluctant to speak and give away his
position, but he was already ten miles out of town, so he said with impunity,
how de do Mr Haman, It looks like I beat the odds, eh. You had me worried there
for a while” It was late, Burger still
had it in his plans to confront Yelid and Cory, and besides that, the Las Vegas
strip was smoldering ruins. It irked him that this tiny speck could outsmart
him, but no problem, After Cory and Yelid were taken care of, it would be His
and Slades world, and the stupid little worm was still holding the tracking
get out of here,” He called to Slade.
“We got some more work to do.”