Courtesy: Part 51

I can’t read them very well, Daniel thought at us, but for lack of a better analogy, I think it’s the heart, the center of the organism’s circulation. I wish we had a biologist because then I could ask better questions, but I know that as long as we get Alex there, it’ll die.

Noticing, no doubt, that we hadn’t started tearing Amy limb from limb, the humonsters shouted as one, “Kill her now!”

As the noise overwhelmed the sound of the buzzer again, I had to fight the urge to charge Amy, hearing Julie’s command in my head again. 

Everyone else had to be feeling the same and that might have been why Daniel spoke in everyone’s head, repeating his memory of Julie’s command and following it up with, Remember, pretend until you have to fight back. It’s time.

Turning toward the humonsters felt like it took forever, especially since I wanted to make sure we were all turning. Reminding myself that we had two backup plans, I decided to concentrate on myself since the alternative was becoming a puppet.

Feeling like I was pushing through sludge, I did it, deciding to start with fire and explosions and fire off a series of boombots. At least six of the humonsters were standing in clusters. They were asking for it. With the rest, I could get at least two per shot. It was something.

The boombots exploded, burning the humonsters, knocking them backwards or sideways, but not taking any of them out. If they’d been vulnerable to fire, they’d evolved out of it.

As I did it, I found myself wondering what everyone else was doing. I couldn’t be the only one who made it through, could I?

A beam of burning, white light from Cassie’s gun answered that question and made an ashey hole in a humonster’s chest at the same time. The humonster didn’t go down, but it did stop to examine the damage, touching the edge of the hole with a taloned finger.

Though it wasn’t easy to read expressions on faces where the mouth extended  more than halfway around the skull, the way they tilted their heads and stared made me think they were surprised by us.

I opened up on them with my laser, noting that Alex and Jenny were already running away from us in the direction of the pool that the boy came out of. They weren’t yet up to his body, but at least they were going in the direction Daniel pointed out.

Kals and Katuk followed them, Kals making a complex series of tones to counter the humonsters that were now shouting, “Surrender!”

At the same time, both Izzy and Haley burst into red flame the color of Amy’s gems. This was bad, not because of what happened, but because of what it meant. Amy set up the spell on all of us to be triggered if we were controlled—upon which it would wipe out whatever controlled us, but only once.

She’d have to do the spell again for it to work again. In a situation like this, she wouldn’t have time. We did have one other failsafe—a telepathic trigger.

I burned a hole into one of the humonsters, aiming for the chest, hoping that I might at least be able to lower its lung capacity.

At the same time, I reminded everyone, “If the spell triggers, get out. It probably won’t get better down here.”

Daniel’s telepathic trigger would put them into a temporary coma since that would be better than being used against the team. 

Haley jumped over the humonsters, ripping a leg off the nearest one as she landed. Izzy flew over them too quickly for any of them to respond, picking up Haley and flying toward the entrance where the team that had been outside the circle was already fighting the Prime clones. They’d be able to do some good there.

I’d have to work out better soundproofing in case we ever fought enough Dominators to make this much noise again.

For now though we needed to give Alex enough time to get away from the humonsters and maybe even take them down.

No one needed to give the order. Amy, Cassie, and I knew it was our job. Daniel helped too, but he flew toward Alex, pausing only to telekinetically throw a group of three humonsters into another group of four.

As the rest of the humonsters charged us, Cassie and I burned them, aiming at their legs. Unlike a normal human, they didn’t go down when we hit, but if you cut off a leg, they couldn’t follow anyone.

Amy did what she’d been doing since this fight started—throwing her spear. Whatever guidelines the Fungus Collective used to guide its evolution, they hadn’t worked out a way around throwing living things at us.

They did work something else out. As Cassie used her Abominator gun to burn straight through her third humonster, the remaining ones all targeted her with their voices, “Stop!”

She hesitated and then a burst of red light glowed all around her and she shook her head. I was about to remind her to go, but when she jumped upward, her suit’s anti-gravity kicking in and moving her toward the ceiling.

Even as I burned the humonsters with my laser, they didn’t let up, barraging her with sound, “Land!”

As she slowed, floating next to the ceiling, I knew that her second trigger had kicked in. I didn’t want to leave her there, but as I considered if I could grab her, Daniel thought, Don’t at me.

Amy and I turned around, flying after the rest as the humonsters chased us.

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