Don’t go around tonight,
Well, it’s bound to take your life,
There’s a bad moon on the rise.
Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
There was brief flash of green light and then –
…Why don’t you listen? LISTEN! I can’t keep doing this, she is killing me, killing you, stop, fight…
– I was up again with a flash of Light and on my feet, charging back at the Knight without a thought. I felt that sense of //weariness again, but I attacked anyway, grabbing up the fallen Knight’s sword.
The surviving Knight attacked Rill, swinging wildly at the nimble young woman. She slipped aside from his attacks but he was clearly herding her to a corner. Emma stood rooted to the spot, eyes round with terror. The cavern seemed so large. They were so far away…
I was too slow. There was a crunch, a short scream, and Rill fell as the Knight’s sword clove her in 2. It raised its bloody weapon and roared in triumph.
I sank to my knees and bowed my head. I couldn’t save her. Why, why could I not save her?
“We have to run!” I felt Emma tug at my cloak. “Morc, we have to run!”
“No.” I was so //tired. “No.”
The Knight’s feet appeared in my vision. I was going to die…and I could not even bring myself to care.
I heard Emma sigh. She knelt next to me and grasped my chin in her clawed hands and jerked my head up to look her in the eyes, lit with deep green fire. “I had hoped you had more in you. This has been fun, but I suppose you’re out of juice.” She laughed as if she had just made a particularly funny joke, her pointy teeth dripping with dark fluids.
I raised the sword in my fist, clumsy and slow. She knocked it away casually. I was vaguely aware the other Knight was gone. Demonic Emma wrapped her claws around my head and lifted me from the ground to my feet.
“You were a bit difficult to wear down, but I admit, the taste of fear on you, and your exhaustion…well, Exos don’t often get exhausted. It adds flavor to your Light.” She licked her teeth.
“My Ghost can just transmat me out,” I said, trying for //defiance.
“Oh?” She laughed and lifted Ebony in her claw. His eye was faded, almost completely dark. “I doubt this little ball even knows where it’s at now, it revived you so many times it has probably lost count. I’ll strip it for information after I finish stripping the last of your Light, of course. But you’re not leaving. Not now.” Claws wrapped around my arms and dragged me to the floor. The Acolytes snarled and chattered in their own tongue, shoving aside a crowd of Thrall that had gathered, as the Wizard floated overhead, her skirts swishing in some unseen breeze.
“Well, this is goodbye. So goodnight, sweet Guardian,” said the Wizard. “And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.” She laughed at her own joke again, a shrieking sound that grated against the ears.
Her laugh was suddenly drowned out by a thunderclap that rattled the cavern and forced my ears to compensate for the overwhelming noise. She dropped Ebony and whirled toward the cavern’s main exit that now glowed with crackling Light.
A Warlock floated into the open space, Arc Light spitting and grounding off his body as if he were being held aloft in a super-conductor. Without a pause he rushed into the open space and extended his hands, bolts of lightning flying from his hands in sheets.
The Thrall attacked. The Acolytes had enough sense to flee. Both responses were fatal. The Warlock mowed down the Hive with Light, reducing them to ash and powder while the storm followed in his wake, cracks of lightning and thunderbolts heating the air to an unbearable degree in the confined space. Only the Wizard withstood the onslaught. She shrieked and flung Arc energy of her own back at the Warlock.
I rolled away, grasped Ebony in one fist and the sword in the other, and crawled away from between the two combatants before I was fried. I heard the Wizard shriek in fury once more. Then the sound of the storm quieted and faded away. I stood and put my back to the wall, sword out, clutching Ebony to my chest.
The Warlock was alone in the space. He spoke without removing his helmet. “The main cavern is clear, but the Wizard escaped. I have Morc-35: he’s alive but in need of med evac.” He waited for a moment. “Understood.” He looked at me. “Have your Ghost lock for transmat.”
“Back off!” I raised the sword to make my point. “I’ve had enough of Hive messing with my memory processes.”
The Warlock raised his hands. “Morc: you’re out. The cavalry is here.”
“Back. Off.” I sidestepped toward the exit, clutching Ebony even closer.
“Guardian, any second this whole place is going to be a war zone. Lock for transmat…”
I turned and fled up the tunnel. I felt better, and this detail managed to make its way into my consciousness: I wasn’t as tired as I had been. I had been bathed in Light when the Warlock attacked, and already I felt stronger for it. I slowed my retreat and looked at Ebony. He blinked at me, the glow of his eye a little brighter already. “Ouch,” he said at me. “I did not think you were listening to me.”
If I were human, I might have wept with //relief. “I don’t understand.”
“When she forced me to revive you between bouts, I tried to talk to you. I didn’t think you heard me.” He floated up of his own accord and whirled. “Friendly contacts. Lots of them…and lots of Hive. We need to get out of here. Quickly.”
“Hence, locking for transmat,” said the Warlock, coming up behind me. “Ready to listen?”
“Good. Ghost, lock for transmat. We’re about to kick some Hive ass.”