In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Eighty Three
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
The Metastasis had hurt but compared to losing Angie it was the touch of a feather. Sig had left his human form behind and had assumed the shape of his soul, the shape of a Vlodek, one of the blessed children of Phelan.
Sig looked both fearsome and frail. His body was blunt and four legged, the white -gray fur of his pelt was broken by deep scars that crossed back and forth over each other. His head was hound-like with a snout full of yellowed teeth. His pointed ears were twitching and alert. His pale silver eyes brimmed with tears.
The roof of Laurel House was almost completely torn away, the walls bent ominously. Donrrup flew clumsily this way and that, one of them spied Sig and dove.
As soon as it was an arm’s length away Sig brought it down. He snapped his teeth down on the creature’s twitching half-human half-insect face and tore flesh and cartilage away.
They tasted just as foul as he remembered- blood like stagnant water, flesh like something long corrupted and burnt.
Sig left the mortally wounded creature behind and barreled down the leaning stairway. A pair of the drones were there, their weapons at ready. Sig wondered if there were ordinary bullets loaded into those guns or if they had brought the expensive kind.
He was behind caring, beyond fear. Bullets tore through his flesh, leaving neat holes in the front of his shoulders and torso and blasting wide holes of gore and sinew out the back.
A voice from his memory mocked him, “...too much a man to be a monster, too much a monster to be a man...”
He broke the dull faced men like oversized toys. To Sig’s trained ears the sound of their ceramic endoskeletons snapping sounded like hollow musical notes. He charged outside.
There were trails of blood in the snow, one marking where Jack had died, the other where Jason Magwier was being dragged away. At this point Sig didn’t care a damn about either of them.
Three bullets caught him in the back, the pain drove him forward nine steps but his wounds were already healing, his body cannibalizing itself to repair the damage.
This was the secret of why the common born Vlodek were so savage in battle- if they did not feed on their adversaries they would literally starve to death as they fought.
And this was the reason why the Monarchs were so deadly to his kind- they weren’t even remotely edible.
Turning on his attackers Sig saw four of the drones taking aim to fire again. He leapt crashing into the middle of them. One shot fired at point-blank range left him numb from his right shoulder down, a second grazed his skull.
Sig wondered how much longer he would last. How much longer it would be before he joined Angie in oblivion.
A donnrup pounced on him but before it could plunge its stinger into Sig’s flesh there was a cry of “Stop!”
The empty-faced men and the insectile creature did stop. They released the old, wounded Vlodek and backed away. Sig’s wounds were singing, his head ached and he was half blinded. He had fallen face first into the snow and the cold felt good against his ruined skin.
“We know you,” a woman’s voice said, “you belong to Victor.”
Sig raised himself up, his voice was ragged, “I have no master.”
“You’ve been marked by our human regent,” the woman was small with porcelain features and curious eyes. She was one of the Monarchs, or as close to one of them as any creature of flesh and machinery could ever be, “you are to be spared.”
Roaring he stumbled at her, his claws swiping through the air, one swish cut through her clothes, a second cut a single weal into her cheek.
Then she struck him and to Sig it was as though he had been hit by an iron beam. The blow robbed him of his strength and his breath, he started to fall but she caught him easily. “Finish me... you know what I did... finish me...”
“As I said before,” she handed him off to a pair of the drones, they each held him up by one of his arms, “you are to be spared, until the end, until the very end. He was quite specific.”
Sig tried to attack again but he was too weak to break free and his curses came out like sobs. There was an almighty creak and rumble as Laurel House collapsed, caving in upon itself.
The woman looked pityingly at Sig, “Take him to the woods and leave him there. This is none of his business.”