Hey everyone leaving comments – for some reason my computer is glitching out and won’t let me answer… It’s an old Surface 1 that I fear is at the end of it’s days after 3 novels 🙂  I’ll try to get to you soon!  And now………….Your chapter!

Chapter 70

“Tom, with me!” I shouted as the Lear and Agrarians prepared to accelerate towards each other. “Quick!”

We rushed towards the back of the corridor as I wracked through my thoughts, working for possibilities. There were plenty of tools back near the fields, but those were too far. The battering ram was gone, moved somewhere in the tunnels by the Lear. There was the power room, but without power, there was nothing I could actually control with it. But there must be something else, something we could use as a weapon.

And just before we left the bridge, my eyes fell upon the open door that had once sealed away the hallway.

Maybe we didn’t need a weapon. Instead, we needed a plug.

“Tom, hold the door open!” I shouted, my voice frantic as I examined the hinges and frame. Without the frame, the door itself was just smaller than the size of the hallway, perhaps giving three inches grace on each side. Around us, Lear citizens shouted into the darkness, their voices shaking my concentration.

“The bridge! To the bridge! Attack on the bridge!”

Just feet away, a boy was zigzagging up and down the hallway, holding a box with a stun gun plugged into it that wailed louder than any human could, interspersing his own shouts in the lulls. And deep in the hallways, blue lights flickered as Lear soldiers rushed back to protect their people.

“Tom,” I said, turning back to the door, my hands shaking, “I’m cutting through the hinges. I need you to keep this steady.”

“Let Tom cut,” he said, holding out his hand.

“No, Tom,” I said. “One slip-up with this, if I cut to the exterior, then we are as good as dead.”

“Tom didn’t die when Airomem cut through,” he responded. “Tom saw it.”

“That’s because the doors automatically seal when the pressure difference is high enough,” I said. “We don’t have that advantage, especially since we are removing this door.”

Biting my lip, I clicked the cutter on, flinching as its white light battled blue for my field of vision. In a single swipe, I cut the top set of hinges, my eyebrows shooting upwards at the complete lack of resistance from the metal.

One down, two more to go.

The middle set was just as easy, and I prepared for the bottom, the only part that still held the door in place, when I heard a shout reverberate down the hallway.

Charge!

Five or six more Lear had made it to Airomem before her party drove themselves toward Sitient. Though vastly outnumbered, they filled the gap, their blue lights blazing like a shooting star towards the scattered stun guns, knives, and outstretched hands of the enemy. Screams erupted from the Agrarians, screams of hunger and anger that vibrated in tune with my bones, but failed to falter the Lear as Airomem led the pack, diving with her stun guns to split the assault.

And instants before the sides crashed together, the two soldiers that had nodded at each other before the charge reached forward, each taking hold of one of Airomem’s ankles. Together, they ripped her backwards as she screamed with surprise, the group of soldiers forming a small hole for her to pass through as she flew backwards away from the collision to safety.

“For the Lea –” was the last sound the soldiers made, their voices raised in unison, their bodies stretched wide to prevent passage, their weapons bared, their courage forced upon their faces.

Then the Agrarians slammed into them, and the noise of screams and crumpling bodies rifled down the hallway.

I’d seen blood in my life, and injuries. But I’ve never seen blood spray like a water from a dropped cup, or bodies shredded like cooks pulling apart squash in the kitchen. And despite their bravery and their skill, there was no hope for the Lear as they were torn to shreds.

But that didn’t stop them.

Long after their arms should have stopped working, they sliced forward with the stun guns, incapacitating as many of the Agrarians as they could. They formed their bodies into human shields when they could do no more, grasping each other to make passage as difficult as possible. Especially the couple, whose knuckles were white as they clenched each other’s hands, both from force and lack of blood.

Tearing my eyes away, I finished the final cut to the door’s hinges, and Tom pushed it through into the hallway. Behind us, the blue lights of soldiers had grown so close to hear them buzzing, and ahead, the Agrarians had lost momentum trying to fight through the bodies.

“Incoming, make way!” I shouted, turning the door sideways and pushing it to the left, such that bodies could fit through on the right. And with Tom’s steady hand, we raced down the hallway as the blue lights gained on us, and Sitient’s bloody head broke through the sacrificed soldiers.

And Airomem alone stood before him.

Chapter 71

Tom pushed off the walls twice, picking up speed as others flew by.

“Help!” I shouted to them, jarring two or three into movement. “Anyone; not just soldiers!”

We whipped past the departure vessel, moving faster than I could run, wind whistling as it passed over the door we held before us. Airomem still faced the Agrarians, her back arched with pride, a stun gun in each hand, hurling threats toward Sitient as he advanced. His eyes widened as he looked past her to Tom and me, and I saw his lips form a curse, a knife appearing in his hand. With all his strength, he threw it towards Airomem, shouting with rage as she deflected it with her two stun guns, the flashing knife spinning past her without injury.

And directly towards me.

I yelped as the blade approached, taking my hands from the door to block my face, my fingers deflecting the edge. I saw blood but felt nothing in those final seconds as we flew past Airomem, her hair billowing forward with the breeze we created. Then Tom and I turned the door horizontal, sealing the hallway, and lowered our shoulders into the metal.

I felt my each of my vertebrae smash into each other as we connected with the Agrarians in a series of racketing thumps, one for each of the bodies that detracted from our momentum. My teeth chattered each time we hit and rapidly decelerated, the back of one of the bottom ones chipping, the shard digging into the back of my throat as we ground to a halt.

“Hold!” I shouted to Tom, and we braced against the walls, keeping the barrier in place. The top began to pivot, dipping downwards as an arm appeared over the top, reaching to push off the ceiling to widen the gap. Just as a snarling face rose over the ledge, the two Lear citizens that I had called out to earlier reached the door at full speed, crashing above Tom’s and my grips and forcing the door back to its original angle.

The metal of the door and the ceiling snapped together, severing the arm that stretched through as its owner on the other end screamed, cutting off even the brief flow of blood that showered over us. Then the first of the soldiers arrived, his weight budging the door another three feet forward, followed by another, her sheer speed and fierce momentum driving the door another three feet despite her small stature.

More and more followed, forming a brace, their arms and legs making struts against the ceiling, walls, and floor to keep the door in place. With a new arrival, the door moved forward, but each time the distance was less, decreasing from feet, to inches, then hairs’ breadths as the number of Agrarians on the other side grew.

And within minutes, each new soldier no longer moved the door forward. Rather, their momentum only slowed it down as it began to grind backwards in spurts and jolts, as the Agrarians pushed back, and the Lear began to lose ground.

****** 

Chapter 72

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