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Chapter Thirteen

It was slow going for Wren, Hahn, Niya, and Kyra. Kyra was having trouble operating the cramped battle suit. Though it functioned properly, she could not get comfortable inside it. Every step she took changed her position and strained he muscles.

Hahn felt it first. A sudden rumble he felt through his feet. He stopped for a moment.

"Did anyone else feel that," he asked.

Wren turned and answered, "Yes. It was a heavy explosion."

Kyra, grateful for the rest, stopped and tried to climb out of the suit. She found she could not figure out how to open the contraption from the inside.

"Why would there be any explosions around here," asked Niya.

Hahn gave a wry smile as he looked at Niya Stellat. His voice carried an odd sarcasm, "apparently, you have not been around Chaz long enough. He can't stay out of trouble."

Another explosion could be felt through the ground. Wren's face was grim at best. That in itself was not a good thing. Wren showed very little emotion. When he did, it usually was not good.

Kyra took a few steps forward. She looked at her companions through the view slits in the suit. Her voice came out loud and clear, "Well, let's get moving. Chaz needs some one to save his hide."

Kyra took lead as they continued their on their way out of the facility. Wren followed close behind. Hahn looked up at nothing and began to mutter as he walked. Niya followed in silence.

* * * * *

"This just gets better and better," Chaz yelled to Rune.

Rune ducked as a volley of lasers flew over his head. He had counted at least twenty enemy targets. He, Chaz, Alys, Rika, Sharon, and Orus were pinned with no way to retaliate.

"It could always be worse, Chaz."

Another volley of laser fire flew over their heads. Orus peered over the rock that was providing them cover. He saw some of the robots prepping a few spheres about a meter across each. He ducked back down just as a laser struck a few inches from his face.

"Hey, Dad. They're getting ready to lob some kinda pod at us."

Chaz raised his blade above the rock and looked into the reflection. Despite the scratches on his sword he could see that Orus had called it correctly.

"Rune, I think it's about to get worse."

The laser fire suddenly stopped. The eerie silence that followed gave everyone in the group the chills. Rune stretched to see if he could discern the type of weapon that was about to be used against them.

Just as Rune's eyes cleared the rock, a brilliant flash of light struck his face. Rune quickly covered his eyes. He could feel the orbs through which he normally saw feel as if they would swell and explode. He could see nothing. Rune was blind.

Chaz saw the panic grip Rune. He tried to hold Rune down as the now blind Protector of Algo thrashed in fear. Chaz heard Rune's cries as he yelled repeatedly that he was blind and could not see.

Finally, Chaz came to the conclusion that Rune was too panicked to be controlled. Chaz brought the pommel of his sword down on the base of Rune's skull. The blow silenced Rune. Chaz checked Rune's pulse and breathing to make sure that he was still alive.

A new sound could be heard from their enemies. It sounded as if a large object had been placed on a hard surface. Chaz was about to look over the rock using his sword as a mirror again when one of the meter wide spheres flew overhead and landed two meters from the group.

The sphere broke open easily and hundreds of small insects came swarming from the remains. The insect took only a moment to find the group. The tiny bugs seemed like a rolling tide as they rushed to the group of warriors.

Orus looked at the little creatures. "I don't like this," he stated with fear in his voice.

"You think I like this," Chaz asked with an equal amount of fear.

The bugs swarmed over the flesh of their victims. Each one dug its legs as deep into the skin as it could. The feel of the pointed legs piercing the skin was enough to cause members of the group to scream in pain. Then the pain was easily tripled as the bugs began to bite. Nothing the comrades did could remove the bugs.

Every member of the party was incapacitated by the pain they felt. The bugs caused to much pain to think. No one could raise a finger to fight the robots that were drawing closer. No one could stop the death that was coming.

* * * * *

Kyra stood at the mouth of the air vent that had provided them access to the Birth Valley complex. The view slit through which she gazed also magnified what she saw in the distance. She could see her friends writhing around on the ground. She could barely make out the twisted expressions of pain on their faces.

Now, gazing at this horrific scene, she wished that wren had not shown her how to move the battle suit as fast as it could go. She was standing her alone to see her friends face death.

She raised the right arm of that battle suite and aimed the missile launcher mounted there. Kyra squeezed the trigger and fired the heavy projectile at the robots that were creeping toward Chaz and the others. She followed the missile with her eyes until it struck its target. Every robot in the area was blown to bits.

Kyra let out a small cheer of victory. The moment was short lived. Though the enemy and the odd pods that they had possessed were destroyed, her friends still writhed in agony. Kyra used the battle suite's booster packs to jump from the air duct to the ground. She made the battle suit run as fast as it could to her fallen comrades.

Kyra stopped fifty meters from the area that Chaz, Rika, the children, Rune, and a woman Kyra did not know now whimpered and screamed.

"Kyra to Wren."

"Wren here."

"Chaz and the others are in pain and I don't know why."

"What do you see?"

"Nothing. As near as I can tell, they are just screaming in pain."

Silence was her only reply for a long moment. Kyra could now hear her own heartbeat throbbing in her ears.

"There is a device that uses your left ring finger trigger. Use the weapon on them."

Kyra stood shocked for a few moments. Use a weapon on her friends? How could wren ask her to do such a thing?

"Not on your life, you twisted piece of metal."

"Kyra, do not worry. The device will only render them unconscious till we can better examine them."

Kyra triggered the device. She watched as her friends fell into an odd and painful form of sleep. After they became still, Kyra noticed the small bugs attached to the flesh of her friends.

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