7: Bloodshow: Null Boundary
A few surviving planners and breedrones scuttled silently in and out of the broken Reality pressor. TheVerminax looked for hideouts from the Nefarious Biter's random stampede through the Ambit.
The planners cast many backward glances at the Injecta egg. The Null, right beside it, would engulf the egg at any moment. Of course, hadn't the Null had always hung motionless there beside the egg? No no no, even a planner knew the Null's treacherous hopscotch through memory. It was just harmless fog -- had never moved -- so you scuttled up beside it. The next moment it moved, eradicated you, and the survivors said, "Yep" (or possibly "yeketerrinappayep"), "that's where the Null has always been."
Within the egg, a sharp rrrrip. The Verminax scurried for cover as the Biter thudded into the arena. Its antenna swerved, seeking the sound.
Another rip. The egg split. The Nefarious Biter lunged for it, mandibles wide.
From the egg popped a triangular head. It swiveled to face the attacking bug. Beneath its twin-lobed forehead, its reflector eye beamed bright. A ray of red energy flashed past the Biter's misshapen head.
The Biter halted. Its many eyes peered down as the fleshy eggshell peeled away -- as the head rose on a long body -- as all the legs unfolded. And now the Biter's many eyes were peering up.
The Biter looked over its opponent, top to bottom, leg to leg to leg, and so on. The Biter turned and ran, thud-thud-thud as fast as it could, straight out of the Ambit and the surrounding region.
One planner scuttled out. It squealed a datapulse screech of glad recognition and leaped onto Doctor Injecta's sharp shoulder. Doctor Injecta looked much different, but more absolutely like himself than he ever had. Any deviation from this form would somehow make him less Injectal.
"I must say, that hurt," Injecta said. "Not that there’s anything wrong with that." He saw the shattered pressor; then, swiveling his head on its stalk, he gauged the Null's position. "Not much time, I think."
A flash of rainbow light at the Lookout Stalk summit caught one of his eyes. It widened in surprise. "That's the boy. Somehow he's gone up to the next krome. And he has the realizer."
Moving surely, as though he'd always had that many legs, he stalked away from the Null. He seemed lost in thought. He paused, then murmured under his breath, "Second Order."
The planner said, "Whaaaat?"
But Injecta did not explain. Raising his third wrist, he extruded a strange gadget, then bent back a finger to touch its button.
Around him sprang up a spray of rainbow light. With another hand he gestured to the planners and breedrones. "We're going after him."
To be continued. Go back to the Table of Contents
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