April is right around the corner, and that means National Poetry Writing Month! That also means that this story needs to wrap up ASAP, because I’ll be damned if I let it sit on the backburner for a month when it’s so close to the end. Expect another post sometime within the next 24 or so hours, and then thirty days of poetry after that.
Genni’s vision blurred, the world seeming to shudder and melt before her eyes. Concussed. Got to get up. Got to help. She felt a grip like an iron claw close around her arm and pull her to her feet. When she looked up, Trass’khar’s scaly face and unblinking eyes were looking down at her. She tried to raise her plasma carbine, but the serpentii wrapped its claw around the barrel and pushed it down. She didn’t speak the alien’s language, but she understood his meaning well enough: That will hurt more than it will help.
Her gaze drifted towards the two men dueling with their minds, swinging their psi-blades at each other, neither gaining a clear advantage. The air crackled with the energy they were unleashing. Under her blurry vision, they looked like spirits fighting, an angel and a devil, light and dark.
And that kid Max had chosen to be his sidekick was just lying on the ground, utterly exposed and helpless. He trembled and shook, every attack by the two psykers punctuated by some new shiver. Was he having a seizure? Genni knew that psionic energy could cause a mental backlash in people who weren’t used to being exposed to it. To be as close to a raging duel as Filip was must have been wreaking Hell on his mind.
* * *
“You’ve gotten better,” Grigor hissed through clenched teeth. Max could feel the sweat dripping down his face, could feel the nagging fear in the pit of his stomach that any moment now his concentration would break and his one-time friend would skewer him. But a sense of pride in his own skill was carrying him through. Grigor was right. He had gotten better, and he knew it. When they’d sparred in the academy, Grigor had destroyed him. Even during training exercises back when Grigor had still been in the People’s Army, he’d easily been the more powerful of the two. But now Max was holding his own. Even after Grigor’d gotten himself cybernetically enhanced, even after whatever training he’d had as an Annexer, Max was fighting back hard enough to make him sweat.
It was the little things in life, really.
The odds were pretty good that Grigor would still kill him, after all. But may the Quintessence damn him, he was going to make the son of a bitch work for it. Genni and Trass’khar and the kid could escape. Hell, maybe they’d even accomplish their mission and damage the base beyond repair somehow. If his friends could survive and his enemies made to suffer, then Max guessed he was okay with whatever happened next.
“Nothing? No quip? No insult?”
Max just grinned. “Too busy concentrating, buddy. Sorry.”
“It won’t save you. And it won’t save them.”
Grigor pushed Max backwards, and for a second he held his ground in anticipation of Grigor’s charge. Instead, he reached out with his mind and pulled Filip through the air towards him. The kid thrashed and shook, but his eyes were glazed over like he was somewhere a million miles away.
“No!” Max cried out. His concentration broke. He moved forward to try and protect Filip, shield his body with the energy from his psi-focuser.
Faster than Max’s eyes could follow, Grigor pulled a plasma pistol out of a holdout holster in the small of his back and shot him in the stomach.