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Alkeria jetted to the top floor of the mall parking garage. It was an exposed roof with a single curved path leading down to the exit. There were only a few cars peppered around. All of them overlooked the streets below. He sniffed the air. He got the faintest scent of him and his two men he brought with him.
The cool air accentuated Nyansa’s trail. Alkeria followed it to the dark green door for the stairwell. He opened the door. It squeaked. Alkeria put one foot inside. “Halt!” commanded the pitch-shifted male voice of Dieous. Dieous jumped from an adjacent building. His taser blasters were raised.
Alkeria froze. His mind raced faster than he could move. His options shrank to two possibilities. He could go into the mall, get the old man’s smell and go after him with Deious on his tail, or kill Deious now and go after the old man later. The scent would still be in the air. Alkeria smiled. Option two if was then.
“Raise your hands and keep them where I can see them,” Dieous said.
Alkeria turned slowly around, his hands high in the air. “Hello, Deious. Just the bucket I wanted to see.”
“You were one of the dinosaurs that kidnapped Jamie,” Dieous said. She sparked the ends of the tasers. “So, you know what these do to you then?”
“I do,” Alkeria said. “You don’t need to use them on me. But I ask what I did that is illegal. I have just run around here, may have caused some small damage, but not killed anyone yet.”
“You… you helped abduct a human and attempt to kill him!”
“You can’t prove that!”
“Fine, what are you doing here?”
“I’m looking for one of the high commanders, Nyansa. He hasn’t come back in a while. I wondered if you killed him, old man!”
“I’m not old…” Dieous said trailing off in confusion.
Alkeria saw him look away for a second. He ran toward Dieous, claws ready to kill. Dieous went to block but felt a sharp slice through the armor. Small pieces of metal scattered onto the ground.
“Behind us!” D13 said.
Dieous spun around, arms at the ready to block. Alkeria was gone. She felt another series of slashes on his back, followed by metal dropping to the ground. She spin-kicked around, hitting the left behind air.
“He’ll come on our left,” D13 said.
Dieous rose her taser and fired at her left. There was a zap, then a slam on metal, followed by static. Dieous turned to see a light post shocking and blowing a fuse. She felt a slam on his right side. She then toppled to the ground. Alkeria stepped on her chest and scraped her chin with claws.
“Oh great, you’re going to sadistically talk to me like that Eorapst guy did. I’m not too worried.” She sparked the taser.
“I’m not like him. I have a job to do,” Alkeria said. He pulled his claw up for a strike. Dieous fired his taser, but he was on the clear other side of the parking lot.
Dieous stood and pointed the taser. “He is kind of like that baseball pitching machine,” D13 said.
“Yeah, thanks, I noticed. He’s fast,” Kyane said. “And kind of predictable.”
“I’ll keep running diagnostics on where he’ll move.”
“Maybe we should try the Millenium Fury!”
Dieous widened his stance and stretched his arms out. Alkeria stopped and rested his arms along the trunk of a nearby car. Dieous rushed his hands together. She heard the whistling of wind against the metal. The palms collided with a loud: bbbrrrraaaaaannnngggg! Nothing happened. Kyane screamed internally so hard it might have come out a little. She looked up to see Alkeria vanish in another blur.
“On your left!”
Dieous blocked with his left arm. She felt a slash on his chest, followed by a whip to the back of the head. Dieous went to grab Alkeria’s neck but was at the edge of the lot again before his fingers touched.
“Your diagnostics are just great, Die. Just really helpful,” Kyane said.
“He has changed up his moves since the last time we encountered him.” He raised a small video window along the HUD. In slowed-down footage Alkeria darts to the left only to make an abrupt change of face to strike the chest.
“Are you saying he’s too fast, or you’re too slow?”
Dieous rose her arms into a protective shell. She felt a myriad of scratch against her back. She kicked backward at the foe. He was gone. “You’ve gone all quiet, hero,” Alkeria said. He curled his claws. “Maybe the colonel was right about you after all. You are nothing. Just a failure. It was a fluke you’ve killed the weaklings you have.”
Kyane stopped. She watched him take small steps around. But just the name of the colonel sent something deep into her core. He kept talking but she wasn’t listening because it hit her. “He’s stalling,” She said.
“I see,” D13 said. “His speed takes a large amount of energy to build up and use. He can’t go that fast all the time he…”
“Yeah, I know. I figured it out. He has to recharge himself like ball machines. They can’t go endlessly; they need to rest or they will break. So, does he!”
Dieous rose again and dusted off the dirt and metal scraps on his body. “Your boss just got me on a bad day.”
Kyane looked at the readouts on the HUD. She had enough taser energy left for three shots. Two from her left and one from her right. “Die, reroute the energy to form one major taser shot. That should stun him far longer than we need.”
“On it.” The readouts collapsed then formed a large bar on her left side. The taser sparked and exploded out. “The suit was not made to do this. He’s also probably up full speed again. If you try to fire, you’ll miss.”
Dieous rose the gauntlet at Alkeria. “That’s not the plan,” Kyane said. She fired the taser blast. A blue wave of crackling energy burst out of the gem. The ground along its path burnt, leaving a trail of curved black streaks. Alkeria was far from the blast when it struck the wall, burning it and blasting small pieces away.
“He’s coming from the right,” D13 said.
The gauntlets opened. Smoke and steam blew out from them, costing the area in a haze. Alkeria blindly ran into the haze. He collided with something heavy. His head bounced back from the whiplash. He felt a heavy clasp wrap around his neck. He couldn’t breathe. Blue eyes emerged from the haze, followed by Dieous’s face.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Dieous said.
“H…ho…how,” Alkeria croaked out.
“You have an obvious pattern,” Dieous squeezed harder.
“Why?” Dieous asked. Wind whipped by. Alkeria was a foot or two off the ground. His feet dangled. “You wouldn’t have stopped if I begged.” Dieous loosened his grip a little.
“No-t true,” Alkeria said. “If you proved your worth, I would suggest we worked together.”
“You’re stalling again!” Dieous shook him.
“Then what do you have for me to make me not kill you like you would be, and the old man?”
“Something is coming. Something big! One of the 12 is about to awaken.”
On the other side, the eggs cracked more. Scaled skin presses on the thin shell, sending bits of shell into the acid and dissolving instantly.
Kyane’s eyes bulged. “No.”
“So? They’ll just be babies. Children. Why should I care?”
“See, you need me! They were engineered to age faster in order to help lead the invasion that is coming. I know it!”
“How strong will he be, this first one?”
“At birth, maybe as strong as the colonel. After he matures, far beyond him or me!”
Dieous’s mask hid Kyane’s sweat, beady eyes, and terror. Her body lost all energy and her face sunk for a second. Alkeria extended a sharpened claw and slashed at the mask. Dieous’s face jerked to the side but was unfazed. She clocked him in the face. Alkeria didn’t wake. She tossed him onto the concrete. He destabilized and fizzled out before he made contact.
“Kyane,” D13 said.
She didn’t respond. Her eyes examined the damage around her.
“We need to call him in for cleanup. We should be good. There was no one up here.”
A box appeared over the damaged parking lot on HUD. A striped blue highlight layered itself over the damaged spots. A location marker popped up in a box next to the burns. An incoming call box with Jerry’s name came up on the other side of the HUD.
“We have a call from Mr. Saucher,” D13 said.
“I know. I can see it,” the call box vibrates from side to side. She looked over the lot’s wall. The people below walked liked she didn’t just fight for their lives. “We can’t tell them that one of the 12 has been born or will be yet. I need to perfect the millennium fury, and sensei won’t let me if I’m doing it out of the drive to beat him.”
“That will backfire, Kyane.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Not telling people about an incoming danger will not end well,” D13 said. “Also, you should answer the call before it goes to voicemail.”
“I need to do this alone. If I get anyone else involved, they’ll just be hurt. They’re already going after Sensei, somehow. He cannot get too close. I need him. We do not tell them.” She answered the call. “Hey, what’s up?”
“We just got your location,” Jerry said.
“I would hope so,” Kyane said.
“You did a great job,” Shaotoro said. His voice was soft and muffled.
“Thank you, sensei.”
“You took him down in record time I’d say,” Jerry said. “We are sending a crew to your location right away.”
“Good, good,” Kyane said. “Hey, sensei. I think I know more of that focus that you’re talking about. Tuning stuff out and stuff. Focusing, finding rhythm. All that.”
“Thank you, magomusume.”
“I am ready to start actually learning the technique.”
“We will continue with your training tomorrow.”
“Great, great, great,” Jerry said. “We got another one of their bosses it looks like. Taking out the top is always good. Means we should be done soon.”
“Yeah…” Kyane trailed off. “We’ll be done soon.” She paused. “I need to go and get out of this suit. I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Bye.” She hung up before they could say anything.
“It wasn’t Shaotoro who mentioned getting into the whole rhythm thing earlier. That was Desmond.”
“You’re right,” Kyane said. She aligned the stones, de-armoring in a flash of light. She was soaked with sweat, and felt bruises forming where she had taken the most hits. She took out her phone and messaged Desmond. “Hey, I’m sorry about running out like that earlier. Something came up I had to take care of. But I did use the rhythm thing you mentioned. I hope you can forgive me.” She sent the text.
Kyane stared at her phone. Nothing happened. She kept staring for what seemed like minutes. Her message was read, and the gray texting dots came up. All of time around her stopped. Her heartbeat drummed through her fingers. The dots vanished. She exited out of the messaging app before the message appeared. She took a breath and unlocked her phone. The message put a smile on her face.
“It’s all good, see you at school tomorrow. I hope it’s all good with your parents.”
“It is! How is Jamie doing?”
“Better. I’m about to head out, talk to ya later, Ky.”
Kyane pressed the phone to her chest. It warmed her. She pocketed it and closed her eyes. She saw Shaotoro perform the millennium fury, only the image changed. Instead of a blurry wave of punches she could see each fist make contact, every muscle flex in motion, every blow Nyansa took was a rotation of songs played in her head. It became a rhythm she could understand. She kept her eyes closed and studied until the cleanup crew arrived.