Tradewinds 08: Centralict by shadesmaclean
IX by shadesmaclean
Justin dashed down the aisles, Kato hot on his heels. The librarian huffing and puffing behind them. Finishing the pack was NK-525, matching their every turn. In such a confined environment, the Enforcer would catch up with them immediately if they stopped for even a moment.
“Pick it up, professor!” Kato shouted back at the librarian, who was lagging. Of course, tired, battered and hungry as she was, she feared she wouldn’t be able to keep up much longer herself, and wondered where the hell this Justin learned to run like that.
“We gotta lose that thing!” Justin screamed.
“Stairs!” the librarian panted. “We need—”
Was all the farther he got before Justin tripped over a black-and-white panther that just dashed around the corner. Then Max tripped over them, Kato couldn’t stop in time, and the poor librarian ran right into the whole dogpile. Even as they stumbled to their feet, they continued their flight, ducking around another massive squarish pillar just in time to avoid a barrage of energy beams.
“Max!” Justin greeted his friend, who started running alongside him. At least one thing was going right. Even in the midst of the chase, he wondered if Max would notice how much faster he had gotten. “What the hell are you doing here? I thought you went back!”
“I kinda got sidetracked!” Max told him as they ran. “And what are we running from anyway?”
“That!” Kato informed him, thumbing back at NK, which had come dangerously close to catching up with them a moment ago, and would surely have blasted them if not for all the pillars and banks of shelves that made for at least momentary cover.
“Oh. What now?”
“Stairs!” the librarian gasped again, trying to regain his bearings after so many random twists and turns. “If we—”
Unfortunately, even as he was trying to remember which way to the nearest stairway, and Kato was about to suggest that they split up since there was only one enemy, they were all just reacting from one second to the next, so even he didn’t know the next turn was a dead end until it was too late. They had already gone too far to turn around by the time any of them realized their predicament, then went several more shelf-lengths to the end before turning around to face their pursuer. NK-525’s armored bulk blocked the only way out.
“Oh no…” the librarian mumbled sheepishly.
“Shit!” Justin muttered, shoving him aside and whipping out his power pistol.
“Where are those bastards…” Kato muttered as she ducked behind the only piece of cover she could find, a book return cart in the corner. For the third time in one day, she found herself facing death without either of her friends with her.
Max fired up his laser sword, seeing no way out, and Bandit backed up into the corner, snarling and hissing at this unnatural predator, this thing, the like of which he had never seen before.
“THERE IS NO DESTROYING THE ENFORCER!” NK-525 slowed down, having cornered its prey. It advanced slowly, all weapons powered up. “PREPARE FOR EXTERMINATION!”
It now had them all right where it wanted them.
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