Three months later…
She dropped to the floor and charged down the hallway.
Ping! Ping! Ping!
Bullets ricocheted off of the walls behind her as she just managed to stay ahead.
Lasers guns popped out of the walls and began firing. She slapped a tiny button on her left wrist and it activated the strips of mirror that were woven into her uniform. The lasers bounced off the mirrors and slammed into the walls. Diving through the doorway, she rolled onto her feet.
Giant slabs were shooting out of the walls, ceiling, and floor at neck-breaking speed in random patterns.
It never went in the same pattern or direction. Each slab to the opposite end where she wanted to go shot out from four different directions at random. If she wasn’t careful, she would end up as a pulp.
Raising her hand, she pressed a button on her glove and a small electron-disruptor shot out of her wrist-bound weapon. It latched onto the door at the opposite end and the slabs all froze in place.
With a smirk, she dove, ducked, and ran around the slabs. Reaching the door, she rammed her elbow into it. It burst open, and the electron-disruptor was knocked off. The slabs started moving again.
Scooping up the electron-disruptor, she slipped it back into her wrist-bound weapon, where she felt a small electric shock as it began recharging. Running through the dark room, she reached the other end and reached for the door handle.
A hole opened up right underneath her.
Landed on her back.
Rolled onto her side. Propped herself shakily onto her feet.
Catching her breathe, she realized that she had reached the outer balcony. She would have enjoyed the view, except that someone else was leaning against the railing.
“Who are you?” she asked, adopting a threatening tone and fighting stance.
“How was training just now?”
“So-so,” she replied, dropping the stance and crossed her arms across her chest.
“Well, Winter, you’re going to have to brush up on your skills more,” Ver’thad said suddenly. His voice always fascinated her. It had no discernible accent, but was deep and silky, but had a growl buried deep inside it. She cocked an eyebrow, and put her hands on her hips.
“Why? I’m pretty good.”
“How ’bout excellent? Magnificent? Unparalleled?” Sheesh, he’s fond of big words, isn’t he? Ver’thad turned around, his Kabuki mask hiding his face, giving a terrifying appearance. “Sorry. Brush up time.”
“Because I have a mission for you.”
ON A FARM, PLANET AZREN
“Yeah, yeah. Hang on,” Rue muttered as she headed over to the pig pen. She upended the bucket and the slop fell into the pig’s trough. As the pigs began eagerly eating their food, Rue went into the barn and put the bucket down by the door. Going over to a wooden box, she pushed open the lid and pulled out some carrots. Shutting the lid, she went over to the horses.
Her horse – Sparkle – neighed softly and nudged her shoulder with its nose. Rue rested her forehead against her horse’s forehead and exhaled. Sparkle neighed softly as if to say It’s okay. I’m here.
“Yes, you have been, haven’t you?” Rue whispered as she pulled away and pecked her horse fondly on the muzzle and held out two carrots.
Sparkle quickly ate it and then shook its mane. I want more carrots.
“Sorry, mate.” Rue motioned towards the oats in Sparkle’s trough. “Eat those instead.”
An unhappy snort was the response.
Rue let out a small chuckle and continued doing her chores in the barn.
A few hours later…
Lying on her bed, Rue stared out her bedroom window. A crack of thunder and lightning lit up the sky.
Looking back behind her, she saw Jones was still in the erratic flight pattern. He’s taking control over Jones’ Skylon.
Suddenly, it became a ball of fire that exploded.
Her breathing came fast.
She pressed her knuckles into her eyes, trying desperately not to cry.
Bile rose up in her throat.
She felt dizzy.
A knock on her bedroom door startled her.
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