The final chapter in the Clash tournament. . .
|"Jayce," said Nym, "do you think that I am an ugly specimen?"
Jayce, who had been preparing his submarine for the last leg of the race, looked at Nym with astonishment. "Where did you get an idea like that?"
"Well, whenever a human male is in the presence of an attractive female, a part of his body enlarges by 56.3%."
"What?" said Jayce. "How would you know. . ."
"It is a part of the body traditionally hidden by clothing, but I can observe the protuberance. You never have this enlargement in my presence, therefor, I conclude that I am ugly." Nym did not sound self-conscious when she said this--she never sounded self-conscious--merely curious.
Jayce smiled. "Nym, I think you´re very pretty but. . .men do that when they wish to procreate with women. You´re too young to procreate, but I´m sure you´ll have that effect on males when you´re older."
That seemed to satisy Nym as she looked across to where some other contestants were preaparing their submersibles. ¨That human is in the presence of an attractive female," she announced.
Jayce looked and saw that she was pointing to the contestant named Cento Darribas. And another contestant. the dark-haired Saoirse Dwyer, had her arm around him.
"He certainly is," said Jayce.
"Do you think they will procreate?"
"Maybe," said Jayce, "but I don´t think that´s their main goal. They seem to be making some kind of adjustments to their subs." He frowned. " I wish I knew what it was."
"Will you and I be in the same submersible?" asked Nym.
"Unless you object."
"No," said Nym, "being with you brings me pleasure."
Jayce smiled at his new-found ally. Lately, she seemed almost more important to him than either the Exorgian order or the Space Marines.
Twenty minutes later, the sub was ready. Nym and Jayce climbed in and departed from the shore. Just as the sub was gathering speed, another sub zipped past and overtook them.
"I think that was Cento´s sub," said Jayce.
"How could it go so fast?" asked Nym.
Jayce stewed. "They must have somehow connected Saiorshe´s engine and given it double the speed."
"Cooperative," said Nym. "Could we have done that with our submersibles?"
"Maybe," said Jayce, "but I don´t have the mechanical skills for that sort of thing. Anyway, I guess it´s water under the bridge now. We´ll never catch up with them."
"So we lost," said Nym.
"I suppose. There´s nothing we to do now, but proceed to the finish line."
The sub proceeded onwards. After about fifteen minutes, Nym cried out, "Look!"
Jayce looked through the porthole and gasped. A few meters in front of them, was Cento and Saiorshe´s submersible. A large squid-like creature had wrapped its tentacles around it and was tossing it back and forth.
"What should we do?" asked Nym.
Jayce shrugged. "One possibility would be to pass right by hem nd proceed to the finish line."
"Or?" asked Nym.
"Or we could stop and help," said Jayce with a sigh.
"Based on bodily reactions as well as your past behavior in similar circumstances, I detect an 86.5% probability that you prefer the second option."
"Prefer" wasn´t exactly the right word, but she had the right idea. Out loud, he said, "Let´s see if we can radio them. Calling sub 364. Can you read me?"
"We read you," squawked the radio. It sounded like Cento's voice. "This thing has damaged our sub. I don't think it can be reapaired."
"Can you get away from the sub?" asked Jayce.
"I suppose we can both swim, but then where would we go?"
"Hold tight! We're going to get close enough for you to swim to us, but we can't stay in that position for very long."
Jayce maneuvered his sub as close as he dared get to the other. Fortunately, the creature still seemed too interested in the other sub to care. "Now!" he called out.
A hatch opened on the other sub and two figures swam out. Jayce quickly opened his own sub and pulled the two inside.
Nym looked at them curiously. "The woman appears healthy, but the man has suffered a great injury."
Jayce saw that there was indeed a large concussion on the bald man's head. As he drew closer to examine the wound, the man's eyes opened and he cried out, "You!"
"Right. Me!" said Jayce.
"You are that bastard from the Exorgian order!"
"Uh. . .right," said Jayce. "Do we really have to discuss that now?"
"I am Cento Derridas of the Earth military. Serial number 8742315."
"That's very nice," said Jayce resisting the urge to salute, "but right now, I think you should rest."
"Don't patronize me. The Exorgian order stands for everything that I'm against. If they ever got the drill, it would be," but then he broke off and began coughing blood.
"Really," said Jayce, "this is not something to worry about now. You're hurt."
Cento stopped coughing and smiled grimly. "It doesn't matter. I'm going to be dead soon."
"I concur," said Nym. "His body is responding in such a way that his chances of survival are less than"
"Not now, Nym," said Jayce.
Cento gasped and tried to shout. "Saiorshe. Promise me you will not let the Exorgian get the drill!" He gave one last gasp and then lay still.
Poor guy, thought Jayce. He went to his grave not knowing that he had nothing to worrry about because the Exorgians aren't going to get the drill. He turned to Saiorshe. " How are you holding up?"
"I'll be fine," said the woman looking at him with dark eyes.
"Great. Nym, keep an eye on her. I'm taking us to the finish line. And he went back to the controls of the sub.
"So," said Saiorshe to Jayce, "How did you two end up in the same sub?"
"It's complicated," said Jayce, "but right now, this girl is the only person that I trust in the entire universe."
"Well, don't underestimate her," Jayce warned.
Saiorshe looked at Nym and then gently pat her on the head.
Nym's face did not respond, but she said, "That gives me pleasure."
"Good," said Saiorshe, "how about this?" She put her arms around Nym and gave her a hug.
"I believe that gives me pleasure too," said Nym still emotionless.
Jayce ignored the scene and concentrated on getting the sub to the shore.
"We're there," he announced a half-hour later. The three stepped out of the sub onto a beach.
"That must be the finish line," said Saiorshe. She looked excited, but Nym, as usual, did not.
"Jayce," said Nym quietly, "you wish to procreate with Saiorshe."
"What?" asked Jayce.
"I can tell because there is currently an enlargement of 56.3 % in your. . ."
"Don't say it, Nym."
Saiorshe was stifling a giggle, but she stopped when Nym said "I also estimate a 58.2% probability that Saiorshe would enjoy procreating with you."
"How on Earth does she. . ."
"If," Nym went on, "You both wish to procreate now, I would be happy to observe and learn about the process."
Saiorshe blinked uncomfortably, but then she said to Jayce, "Do you want to?"
"I think it would be the wrong time."
"Agreed. We're not going to procreate here," she said to Nym.
"I see," said Nym. Then, without warning, Nym drew out her pair of daggers and leapt at Saiorshe, sinking one dagger intoe Saiorshe's stomach and the other into her leg while biting into Saiorshe's left arm.
"Nym, stop that," said Jayce.
Nym let Saiorshe go causing her to tumble into a heap. "I have injured her so that she will not be able to cross the finish line ahead of us," said Nym.
"Nym, that's terrible. You may have killed her."
"How is that terrible? It would only make it more difficult for her to cross the finish line ahead of us."
Jayce knelt by Saiorshe's crumpled form. "Let me see if I can help her."
"I estimated an 87.9% probability that you would do that."
Jayce examined Saiorshe's wounds and discovered that they were not as serious as they had looked. The wounds on the leg and arm just needed to be bandaged. The stomach wound was a bit deeper, but Jayce managed to stop the bleeding.
"Thank you," said Saiorshe.
"You'll have to forgive Nym. She's got some strange morals."
"Indeed," said Saiorshe. "I have two questions about Nym. One, if she was so certain that you would stop and help, why did she attack me. It only slowed you down."
Jayce frowned because he hadn't thought of that.
"And two, where is she going now?"
That made Jayce freeze for a minute. Then, he looked up just in time to see Nym cross the finish line.
* * *
"In other news," said the Gorlovian news anchor, "Nym, the experimental life form who became famous six months ago by winning the Dormumen challenge, has been named chair of the Astrophysics department at Luna University--the youngest person in history to hold this distinction."
Jayce was watching the broadcast from the only bar on Zeta station.
"She's quite the person," said a voice.
Jayce turned and saw the dark form of Saiorshe Sawyer approaching him. The sight made him smile in spite of himself. "Well, on the bright side, I don't think she or the scientists who created her had any use for the drill. They just wanted the prestige of her victory. As far as I know, they destroyed the drill for scrap."
"So, how have things been for you?" asked Saiorshe.
"Well, the Exorgian order was not so happy about my performance. I left them by mutual agreement. The marines were slightly more forgiving. They posted me to this backward place."
Saiorshe frowned. "So, you're back in the Marines."
"No, I'm still in the marines." Jayce smiled again. "It's all very complicated. Do you want to hear the whole story?"
"Sure," said Saiorshe sitting down with her drink. "Then, maybe you'd like to hear my story."
"Good," said Jayce. He paused thoughtfully. "And maybe after that we can procreate."
For a minute, he was afraid she would be offended, but then she smiled sweetly, took his hand, and said, "Let's stick with stories for now."