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Chapter Twenty-Two

Rune worked frantically to heal Kyra's injuries. He heard Chaz and ProFIRE exchange words, but paid them no mind. He was more concerned about the smoldering hole in Kyra's shoulder. At the moment, he was also vaguely aware that another member of his team had fallen to the same weapon.

Rune heard heavy footsteps approaching from his team's rear flank. He spun in a near crouching position to find Demi approaching. He noticed Demi was carrying a bag at her side. Despite he small size in relation to the others, she still kept low to the ground. When she reached Rune, she began helping him treat Kyra's injuries.

Demi never uttered a word. Rune was stunned at this action. Normally, Demi portrayed a lighthearted persona. But she was very somber at the moment. In many ways, she suddenly reminded Rune of Wren.

"Normal medicines and healing techniques won't work right now," Demi stated. She reached into her bag and pulled out an odd looking metal rod. She passed the rod over Kyra's injuries several times. "The burns are pretty deep and have partially cauterized the lung."

Demi produced a small glass dome with some kind of pumping device attached. She placed the dome over Kyra's injury and the machine pumped a clear fluid into the dome.

"This will speed her recovery and stop any burning."

Rune watched as the machine circulated the fluid through Kyra's wound. Had he not been dripping with sweat, Rune would have noticed he was crying. This small event did not go unnoticed by Demi.

* * * * *
Chaz charged his opponent. The swords of the two combatants collided. ProFIRE easily pushed Chaz back. The blonde haired warrior took a defensive posture and reassessed his adversary for a few seconds.

ProFIRE stood motionless. He was patient and unafraid of anything Chaz might do. As far as he was concerned, the battle was already won and he was the victor. He never took his eyes from Chaz. Although he knew the odds were in his favor, humans like Chaz were not to be underestimated.

Chaz tried to circle to ProFIRE's right only to find the robot kept up his guard. Chaz's mind searched for any weakness in ProFIRE's defense. Had ProFIRE been a human, the stance he took would have left him open to several attacks. But, with his superior reflexes, strength, and dexterity, he was virtually unstoppable.

Chaz lunged at ProFIRE with his sword. The tall robot merely used his own sward to deflect the attack and send Chaz sprawling to the ground. Chaz quickly got back to his feet and did his best to regain his composure.

"Come now," ProFIRE began. "I thought you were a much better fighter than this. Or, did I give your abilities too much credit?"

Chaz took several deep breaths. He tried his best to calm himself. The warrior knew he could not beat this threat with strength alone. He needed to call upon all his skills in order to win. He relaxed his grip on his sword and brought it to the ready.

ProFIRE noticed the subtle change in Chaz's demeanor. For the first time since walking onto the battlefield, ProFIRE was concerned.

Chaz rushed ProFIRE again. This time he did not use blind strikes. His sword had suddenly become an extension of his will. Slashing would yield very little in the way of harm to his opponent. But, a good thrust in the right place might be enough to end the fight.

ProFIRE used his own skill as well. He parried and dodged every attack Chaz made. His computer mind raced for every defense against Chaz's attacks.

The other warriors stood and watched. Without being told, they all knew this was not only a matter of survival, but a matter of honor between to fighters. They would not interfere.

* * * * *
Niya tried to stand. Demi had left only a few minutes ago. Niya's head was throbbing and the bulkheads were still spinning. Her arm was no better off than the rest of her. She stumbled as she made her way to one of the nearby port holes. She looked out and saw Chaz fighting with a large robot. She also saw that none of Chaz's teammates were doing anything to help him.

Niya made sure her sword was still at her side and made her way to the boarding ramp. When she got to the open hatch, she used the service hand rungs and climbed to the top of the Landale. Pulling herself up caused screaming pain in her injured arm. Though Demi had told her the injury had been repaired, she was still extremely sore.

Once on top of the Landale, Niya crouched low and drew her sword from its scabbard. She watched the two combatants virtually dance as they tried to kill one another. Had the situation not been a matter of life and death, the motions of the two fighters would have been comparable to a ballet. They both moved with careful, deliberate actions.

The robot was slowly pushing Chaz back towards the ship. It looked as if the mechanical beast was trying to pin Chaz against the ship and leave him nowhere to go. Niya waited patiently and hoped that Chaz did not miss a step. Her mind constantly gauged the distance between herself and the robot.

Something off to her right caught her eye. She took only a moment to see what it was. It was Rune. She saw he was cradling Kyra in his arms as he watched the fight. It was his stillness that caught her attention. Normally, Rune was a very animated person. She had said on several occasion that is he sat still for five minutes he would explode. Then, she saw a subtle gesture made by Rune. He took Kyra's hand and held it tightly.

Niya tore her eyes from Rune and returned her attention to Chaz and the robot. They had moved several meters closer. Niya decided to take her chance. Without any sound, Niya pushed off from the ship's hull and aimed her decent straight for the robot. She thrust her sword down towards the top of the robot's head.

The huge black robot did not see her till the last moment. In that split second, the robot thrust his own sword into the air. Niya drove her sword through the top of ProFIRE's head just as she felt his sword pierce her skull. Chaz thrust his own sword into ProFIRE's chest before he realized Niya had bought him the opening he needed.

Both ProFIRE and Niya fell to the ground. It was then that Chaz realized Niya had been mortally wounded. He saw ProFIRE's laser saber still burning Niya's hair and flesh. He could smell the odor of burnt skin. Chaz reached for the saber and turned it off.

Rune ran over to Chaz. The smell sickened Rune. Once her saw Niya's injuries, Rune screamed. He begged whatever powers that controlled the universe to let this be a dream.

"Can't we bring her back like you did with Alys," Chaz asked.

Rune held Niya's lifeless body. He rocked back and forth holding her as if she were a frightened child.

"No," Rune sobbed. "The brain has to be in one piece. Her brain is burnt."

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