In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Ninety Eight
By AL BRUNO III
Saturday, December 4th 1996
Isobel screamed at the sight of the donnrup. The sound of its wings was like the roar of a chainsaw. She dropped her weapon and turned to run but Hao caught her and spun her around.
The Dread Lord Chayot reached out, the silvery tendrils of smoke boiling from its hands suddenly soild. It pulled the giant insect from the sky and began tearing it to shreds. Limbs and wings fell to the ground. The cries of the donnrup were buzzing and child-like.
“No turning back,” Hao pressed the gun back into Isobel’s hand, “not if you want to survive this.”
More donnrup sped towards them, crashing through the forest; some trees bent at their passing, others gave way and collapsed. Chayot dropped the lifeless donnrup and grasped another one with hands as swollen and distended as shadows in firelight. The sound of the donnrup’s carapace cracking was louder than the sound of the trees collapsing, louder than the thick buzz of donnrup wings.
One of the creatures zipped around the Dread Lord with surprising grace and barreled towards Isobel. She fired her weapon but the shot went wild. The automatic bit at her skin as it ejected the spent cartridge. She winced.
Stupid! She thought, Zeth warned you about that.
Zeth and Cheryl.
The donnrup was barreling towards Isobel, there was no time to fire again.
Hao fired, her bullets tearing holes in one of the creature’s wings. It dropped from the sky and skidded to a halt at Isobel’s feet. She fired three times at the back of the donnrup’s head, not caring if the creature might already be dead or that she might be wasting bullets.
How many bullets do I have?
Isobel’s hand was bleeding, it made her palm feel clammy and slick against the grip of the automatic pistol, “Are these Monarchs?”
“No,” Hao’s voice all business, “just slaves. They’re called donnrup. They’re specially bred.”
Two more donnrup circled the strange trio. Chayot plucked them from the sky and began expertly dismembering them.
“How many more are there?” Isobel asked.
Without asking Hao took Isobel’s wounded hand in hers and examined it, “Don’t know. I’m hoping Zeth thinned out their numbers.”
“It doesn’t hurt... not really.”
The Dread Lord had finished with the last two donnrup, it watched the women expectantly.
“I’m trying,” Isobel watched Hao dote over her injury, “but I don’t know if I’m going to much-”
She stopped talking when she realized Chayot had started running towards them. The wounded donnrup was on Hao before the Dread Lord could get hold of it.
There was a tearing sound, something tore through Hao’s midsection. The blood sprayed onto Isobel’s clothes. Hao’s face was a grimace of surprise.
Isobel fired point blank at the donnrup, reducing one of its segmented eyes to a wet ruin. Even with powder burns raking the side of her face Hao’s expression didn’t change. She fell forward into Isobel’s arms.
The Dread Lord’s silvery tendrils caught hold of the insectile creature and pulled it into the air. The donnrup’s stinger came loose from Hao’s back with a terrible plop sound.
The buzzing screams of Chayot’s latest victim barely registered with Isobel. She was trying to hold Hao up but the other woman had become dead weight. “Faking,” she hissed, “didn’t think they could...”
“The sting is poison,” the Dread Lord tossed the remains of the donnrup aside.
“Does my mission remain the same?”
Hao’s voice sharpened, “Yes.”
“Wait,” Isobel said. They were on the ground now, she was cradling the other woman’s head as blood began to filter out into the snow around her in a red halo, “There has to be something I can do. You have magic.”
“Chayot is right,” Hao said, “and the poison is always fatal. I told you they were specially bred.”
The Dread Lord looked away, “We need to continue if I am to complete my duties.”
“Oh God,” Isobel said, “this is all my fault. All my fault.”
“Stop now,” Hao touched the other woman’s cheek, “you brought life to a place of death.”
“Finish this,” Hao said, “find Galen, find your future. It won’t be what you expect. Please, for me.”
Isobel gently lowered her friend’s head to the ground, there was so much blood on them both.
“Come,” Chayot said, “walk beside me.”
After retrieving her gun Isobel did so.
Suddenly Hao called out, “Warren!”
The Dread Lord turned, “I am not Warren.”
“Hurry back my love,” Hao said an in her last moment she grinned.