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It took Dieous fifteen minutes to make it to the UDC camp. She was surprised when she arrived because the camp was empty. All that remained were tents pinched from prehistoric animal fur, smoldering fires, and silence. D13 immediately pointed out how obvious a trap they were in was. Kyane agreed. “But they haven’t sprung the trap yet. Maybe we can grab Jamie and scram before they trigger it,” she said.
“That is very unlikely to happen,” D13 said. “The possibility is extraordinarily high that Jamie is the proverbial cheese on the mousetrap for us.”
“But he’s the reason we came here. We can’t leave him now.” She turned to face the direction of Jamie’s signal. It was three tents ahead of their current location. She walked toward the tent and kept D13 scanning the surrounding area for any signs of UDC presence. She reached the blanket covering the entrance to Jamie’s tent and brushed it out of the way to enter.
Jamie was a cold lump along the wall. His arms dangled from the wall and were completely white. His heart rate and body temperature were in the gutter. Kyane could tell that his breathing was labored without D13’s readings telling her. She ran over to him and cracked the chains off with ease. She slapped his face. “C’mon, wake up,” she said.
“Jamie, Jamie, wake up, er, uh, son,” Dieous said. “I’m here to rescue you.”
“Why isn’t he waking up?” Kyane asked.
D13 quickly scanned his body. “The atmosphere of this environment is far harsher to the human body than our earth’s. You are protected while in your suit. He is not so lucky,”
“Great,” Kyane said. She hoisted him over her shoulder, performing a fireman’s carry and made her way to the door.
Dieous exited the tent when a blue and orange blur smacked her body and pushed her further into the tent. She turned her head from side to side to look for where the attack came from but was too late when the blur came back and collided with her chest. She fell onto her back. She maneuvered Jamie out of the way of the fall. She stood up to face whoever it was that attacked him.
“Do you have them?” Kyane asked.
Dieous got into his fighting stance.
“There is only one way in,” D13 said.
“Just tell me when you get a reading on them then.”
Dieous waited a moment. The calm took over again. A feeling of forgetting that there was some speed demon out there. Until D13 released a warning beep. Dieous saw the blur running toward her. She stepped out of the way and held out her arm. The blur clotheslined on the metal arm. He spun around and fell onto his back to reveal Alkeria. Dieous bent over and pulled him by his level by the throat. “Are you the trap they laid for me?” Dieous asked.
“Hello, superhero,” Alkeria croaked out.
“Answer!” Dieous demanded. He squeezed tighter on his throat.
“I have a reading on him now. If he decides to attempt another running attack, I will be able to pick up his signal and stop him,” D13 said.
Dieous tossed the UDC from the tent and into the common area of the camp. Alkeria rolled and tumbled like a lifeless husk. Dieous exited the tent to meet him on the ground only to be met by another warning signal, this time from behind. The warning was followed by a thwack on the back. She whipped around to see the UDC who stole Jamie, Nyansa, perched on top of the roof with his tail unfurled like a whip. “Only two of you,” Dieous said. “I figured you would set a better trap than this.” She held up his arms. The two jewels embedded in the wrists rose up and extended up the forearm.
“Energy tasers on standby,” D13 said. Two sets of three bullet images appeared on the HUD. “Remember, you only have three shots per taser.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll use them wisely.”
“Stand down now, and you won’t be harmed,” Dieous said.
“Behind you,” D13 said.
Dieous turned to the side and pointed a taser at the rising Alkeria. “Just let me return to being a student back home. He has nothing to do with this.”
Nyansa landed on the ground. “Is that so?” Nyansa asked. He crossed his arms behind his back and casually stepped toward Dieous.
“Freeze!” Dieous said. Nyansa kept walking. Dieous saw him eye Alkeria. He fired the tasers. A beam of blue energy fired from the wrist jewels. Alkeria tried to dart out of the way but got pegged in the chest. Blue electricity covered his body and he fell to the ground. Nyansa bent backward, shot his tail up and twisted it around Dieous’s arm and tossed her to the side. Dieous caught herself mid flip, steadied herself, then got a face full of foot, forcing her back. She rolled to face forward, raised the tasers and fired two bolts. Nyansa dodged into the air and slapped his tail at Dieous’s face. She blocked her arm.
“Careful. You only have two shots left.”
“I know, I know,” Kyane said. “But while in the air he can’t move around.”
Dieous pointed her right arm in the air and steadied herself with her left. An aiming reticule overlaid itself on the HUD. She highlighted Nyansa and fired the last blue bolt. The energy beam streaked across the sky and banged the UDC in the chest. The same blue electricity wrapped around his body. He fell to the ground like a stone. The blue wrist jewel lowered itself back to normal. Spare pieces of the black metal lifted and expelled a heap of steam into the air.
“Now we can get Jamie,” Dieous said.
“So that is the human’s name,” a deep, booming voice said. Dieous looked up the mountain cliff to see the red, orange, and yellow mass of body that was Colonel Herreas, along with two more distinct generals behind him, followed by a swarm of raptor soldiers. “Jamie,” he said, rolling the name around in his mouth. “What strange names you humans have.”
Dieous readied himself.
“Got anything on this guy?” Kyane said.
“No, nothing. But by his placement in the mass, he must be the leader.”
“Who are you?” Dieous asked.
Colonel Herreas stepped off the side of the mountain, fell to the ground. The ground split and shook on impact. He stood over Dieous like a monster truck to a smart car. “I am humanities doom, and my people’s savior.”
“Good to know you’re realistic,” Dieous said. “But I more meant your name.” She raised her taser and fired the last bolt into the colonel’s chest. The blue electricity enveloped him. The colonel did not seem to mind.
“I am Colonel Herreas. Savior of my people.” He pulled his massive arm back and punched Dieous in the chest. She flew backward and landed with a cloud of dust.
“Owww,” Kyane said.
“That drained our systems,” D13 added.
“So, plan B?” Kyane asked.
“Plan Book It?”
Dieous punched the ground around him. Dust and debris rose into the air. The left gauntlet moved some of the black metal along the forearm and expelled its cloud of smoke. The smoke drifted over the ground and hid her body. She opened her right palm, clicked metal together and caused a small explosion. The explosion was not used to create damage, but instead intense light. Herreas covered his eyes as planned. Dieous made her move.
She ignited her engines along his calves and jetted toward the tent Jamie was taking his nap in. She scooped him up and tore through the rear of the tent. She could hear Colonel Herreas behind him yell for his men to move out and catch them both. Dieous ignored the warnings and kept running. Each step she took propelled him yards at a time.
Part of the training Kyane did was maneuvering training Dieous to better regulate and utilize the engines for increased mobility. Instead she decided to save up all the engine power to make this exact getaway. They were quickly approaching a dense forest. Dieous knelt over and skyrocketed into the air, over the trees and into the clearing where the portal lay. It was on the way down that Jamie woke up to fill what ears Dieous had with screams of terror.
Dieous landed and Jamie crawled off his back. “It’s okay, Jamie. It’s okay.” Jamie hyperventilated. Dieous covered his mouth. “Stop, son. Don’t breathe in too much of this air. It is incredibly toxic.” Dieous opened a hatch on his side and pulled out a small tube and fed it to Jamie. “Breathe through this. This is my own personal air supply.” Jamie took multiple deep breaths of the fresh air. It cooled him from the inside out and reinvigorated him. “How are you feeling?”
“Like… shit,” he said. “Don’t… tell my… parents I… swore,” he said taking constant breaths between each set of words.
“Your secret’s safe with me, friend,” Dieous said.
“Kyane, the colonel and his troops are approaching fast,” D13 said.
“I know. Let me just keep this hero thing going,” Kyane said.
“Can you move, buddy?” Dieous asked. He helped Jamie to his feet.
“A little,” he replied.
“Good,” Dieous said. “Those UDC’s are coming and we have to go?”
“I’ll explain later.” He walked Jamie over to the portal and pushed him into the portal. “Use all your strength to get through. There will be people on the other side.”
“Thank you, Dieous,” Jamie said. “You’re a true superhero.” He crawled through the portal on his hands and knees.
“Don’t thank me yet,” Dieous said. The portal bounced and wiggled the further Jamie got in until his body was gone. “Mission complete,” she said.
“If only that were true,” Colonel Herreas boomed.
Dieous faced the giant. “Do you just wait for me to say something, so you can make it ironic?”
“You may have saved the human, but he was never the point of this.”
“It was to kill me.”
“It was to kill you, yes. Let me guess. I stand in your way of destroying the earth because I was able to beat a few of your men.”
“You’re stalling,” Colonel Herreas said.
“Nothing gets past a big guy like you,” Dieous said. “I really admire that. Or I mean I would if I liked you.” She pivoted toward the portal and leaped in. Her engines pushed themselves to the limit and tore through the goo.
“I will pursue him, and kill him,” said Saturn.
Herreas extended his arm to stop his subordinate. “Many of you have failed me already. I will handle this human myself.”
“But you might not be able to return, Colonel,” Saturn said.
Colonel Herreas grabbed two raptors by the neck, snapped them, and dragged them over to the portal. He held their corpses up and pushed them into the portal. They began to break down and release dark green energy, expanding the size of the portal until nothing of the bodies remained. “This will hold until my return.” Colonel Herreas stepped into the portal. It contracted and blasted bolts of electricity with each deeper step the colonel took.
Dieous was spat out of the portal and into the warehouse. Soldiers rushed over to her aid and helped her up. She turned around to see the portal splintering and deforming, with the hulking mass of the colonel on the other side. Jerry ran up to him. “Your friend is with the medical crew and on his way to the hospital. How did the mission go?” Dieous remained silent, with eyes trained on the portal. “Kyane, how did the mission go?”
Dieous spun around. “You have to get out of here. Clear the whole area out! Now!”
“Now!” Dieous said. He waved his arms to shew the soldiers away. Jerry ran out of the warehouse with a group of soldiers behind him. Some stayed behind and kept their guns trained on the portal. She looked down and saw her jacket and picked it up. “You too,” Dieous said to them.
“No can-do ma’am. Our job is to remain here and guard the portal from any danger. We will stay until everyone is clear.”
“Well a big eff-off danger is coming! You will die! Go!”
“Ohh, a welcoming committee all for me. How pleasant,” Herreas said.
“Oh no,” Dieous said.
“Oh, yes,” Herreas said smugly. He was just leaning into the remarks now.
The soldiers opened fire on the colonel. He took each bullet and let it bounce off his skin like nothing. He marched up to a soldier, grabbed him and cracked his body almost by accident. The soldiers began stepping backward but kept firing.
“Stop shooting and run you, morons!” Dieous yelled.
Colonel Herreas stepped passed Dieous and crushed the soldiers behind her. Dieous turned and saw his hands covered in their blood. “How dare you!?”
Dieous leaped into the air and threw a right hook. Her hand made an impact with his face. The colonel didn’t flinch, wince, or act like anything more than a gnat bit him. Dieous threw a punch with her left hand and left the same result. She landed, grabbed Herreas by the arm and attempted to flip him over his back. Herreas didn’t budge. Herreas held his palm to the side and slapped it across Dieous’s helmet. The metal shattered. Her head bobbed and let go of the colonel’s arm. Herreas pulled his arm back and punched her in the shoulder, through a stack of wooden crates and into the wall. Metal shards were all that remained of Dieous’s presence in that spot.
Kyane crawled out of the planks of wood. The black metal armor lay spread out all around her. It was a forcibly removed layer of skin. Wires and sparks shot from every inch of the torn metal. She saw her body trembling but couldn’t feel it. She panted for every breath she could get. Her body ached more than any training she could have gotten over the past few weeks. She realigned the jewels and belt and sucked up the pieces of metal that were left. She peeked up and saw Herreas stomping over toward her. Her heart rate shot to the atmosphere. She ducked and ran away and behind a stack of remaining crates. Herreas crunched the broken crates under his feet and saw the indent in the wall he made. “Is this what a champion humanity does? Hide?”
Kyane moved by another grouping of crates and sat down to catch her breath. She attempted to call Die, but the app kept force closing with an error screen accompanying it. “No. No, no, no,” she whispered to herself.”
“Once the great Dieous is faced with any modicum of challenge he runs away and hides behind some stupid boxes.” He slaps a stack of crates to the ground. They splintered and shattered with ease. “I knew that stupid soldier was nothing but a scared hatchling. You are no hero.”
Kyane could feel him step closer and closer toward her. His hot air sent chills along her spine. She could feel her pulse in her toes. The colonel stopped inches away from the stack she hid behind.
“You are no savior.” He raised his palm to crush the stack in front of him.
Kyane aligned her bracelets and belt. Nothing happened. She moved her arms and tried again. She wanted to chant not again but knew it would mean she would join those soldiers, or worse.
“You are weak. Your people are weak. You will fall to us without the use of the Twelve.” The portal popped and sent a wave of green electricity through the air. Kyane’s hair shot straight up. Herreas turned to see the portal fizzing out like the carbonation leaving a can of soda. He clicked his tongue. “You are lucky this time, ‘hero,’” he said with a mocking tone. He trudged over to the pile of dead soldiers, heaved them onto his back and walked into the portal. “We will be back in larger numbers than ever before. You have seen to that.” The portal let out another series of pops and static into the air before collapsing and scorching the wall around it like the one Nyansa created.
Kyane stood up and looked at the scorched and blackened wall. Her pulse wouldn’t stop. Her body continued to shake. The bracelets along her wrists were wind chimes in a rainstorm. She slapped the boxes in front of her. Her hands turned red, but she didn’t feel the pain. She wanted to run as far and as fast as she could but couldn’t.