“You stinky turd!” Bex yanked a gun from her holster and shot the cackling head. “You absolute, fraggin’ lowlife!”
The bullet-riddled head cackled, taunting, “you should do something about that itchy trigger finger there!”
Bex emptied both of her guns into what was left of Mizer’s bloody head. Just in case that didn’t kill it, she reloaded and fired again and again until gooey bits and pieces were scattered everywhere.
She stopped for a second. Head cocked to one side as she listened. She could have sworn she heard something…
When she aimed at Mizer’s splattered remains again. Winny squawked. “Stop that already! Take Sumida and run!”
Sumida was plastered against the wall, valiantly battling the urge to hurl the contents of her stomach. “Run?” Her head reared up. “Now?”
A thunderous rumble came from afar. It grew louder and louder, getting closer. Winny grabbed a couple of loaded holsters. Her frantic hands froze at the sound of a heavy mechanical roar.
“Is that a juggernaut?”
“Who cares?” Bex huffed. “Let’s go already!”
Something crashed through the wall directly behind Winny. A blink of an eye later, a jagged spike erupted through her gut, staking her body to some cruel machinery. Sumida started screaming. Showered with blood and guts, Bex could only stand there, rooted to the spot. There were wet chunks of Winny’s flesh and hot blood plastered to her face and arms. Going cold so quickly.
Bex’s eyes stung. Her throat throbbed. Her limbs couldn’t seem to remember how to move. The curious thing about Llorans was how they looked like humans and bled like humans. Bex whimpered low in her throat. They also died like humans.
“Don’t!” Winny coughed up more crimson. “Don’t just stand there,” she managed, mouth full and frothy with her own blood.
The walls shook, clogging the air with dust and debris. Bex leaped forward, grabbed Winny’s shoulders and pulled her from the spike. Her agonized howl was deafening. They toppled over, Bex’s back slamming into the ground. She rolled upright, knelt beside her wounded sibling.
“Fraggin’ stars!” Winny railed. “Hurts!”
The flesh-covered battering ram clattered to the ground as the outer barrier to the dwelling activated, hopefully destroying the Mecha outside. That bought them time but not much of it. It wouldn’t be long until the gunners forced their way in.
“Sumida!” That harsh yell from Bex silenced the loudly sobbing girl. “I can’t think with you shrieking like that!”
There was so much, too much blood streaming out, everywhere. Winny’s eyes slowly swung shut. There was a gurgling moan.
“Winny!” Bex shook her. Hard. Her vision blurred. Wet and salt streamed from her eyes and nose and she begged and begged “Open your eyes, Winny! Winny, please!”
Her eyes stung and for the first time in her whole life, Bex Atria didn’t know what to do. She was already lost. Already lost without her compass. Without Winny. Without her sister.
“Stupid child!” Winny admonished hoarsely, her eyes fluttering open. “Why come undone when you know you must not?” Her voice was thin and barely a whisper. She was dying. She knew it.
Bex wiped uselessly at her runny nose with her bloody hand. “You’re right,” she swallowed jerkily. “Right. We need. We need to–“
She fumbled in her pouch for an anesthetic. She pressed the tip of the injection device against Winny’s carotid and administered two full doses.
“Wake Tirr. I need him.” Winny coughed up more blood. “Sumida,” her voice was barely audible. “Behind you. Turn the knob.”
A nervous nod and the girl scrambled to obey. A column shot up out of the ground. Coming up to waist height, there was a liquid containment field. There was a creature inside that had an elongated body, two triangular protrusions at its sides. Wings or maybe fins? Its eyes were black and shiny. It quivered madly, like something scared. On its back was the same metal-accented pattern that was tattooed all over Winny’s skin.
“Teruun,” Sumida’s sniveling stopped. “Why is there a Teruun here?”
Winny motioned Sumida over and the pale little chick hurried to obey. When she knelt beside Winny, the Lloran grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, dragging her down close to her mouth.
“Do not waste this,” she ordered, almost inaudibly. “Do you hear me?”
Sumida’s eyes widened as the import of Winny’s words drove home. Stricken, she made a weird noise in her throat, eyes already wet and red. A flood of tears soaked her cheeks. Bex lifted Winny and carried her over to the console before putting her down. She stepped aside at a nod from Winny, who clung to the cylinder as she spoke to the one inside. “Tirr. Sorry for making you wait all this time.”
The Teruun emitted a wordless tone. The cylinder brightened. The creature’s supple body became suffused with light. Bex and Sumida stared, slack-jawed.
“What are you waiting for?” Winny snapped, eyes unfocused. “Leave or you’ll die long before those guns get here.”
Particles of light spilled out from the cylinder, filling the whole room. It bit into their skin. If they stayed it would surely shear their cells apart. The sound that came from the Teruun was like music, beautiful, but terrible at the same time.
Spurred into action, Bex opened the trap door in the floor behind the choktoi tanks, ushering Sumida downward.
“Run blind,” she ordered. “Do everything exactly as I say.”
A shaky nod, Sumida jumped down and bolted ahead. The walls of the domicile were already bursting apart. Bex jumped down after Sumida. The trap door slammed shut above her. She plunged into the darkness of the dank corridor. There was a boom behind them, tremors endlessly reverberating
Image Credits: chagpg