We took off running towards the stone.
"Do you think," I shouted between breaths, "Breccan is already there?"
"Yep," answered Kiko confidently.
My heart sank a little. If we lose then it's my fault again for slowing us down.
"He won't touch it until we arrive however," she assured. "He's waiting for us to cause a distraction."
"Cause a distraction?"
Rei chimed in, "We're not the only ones here remember?"
That's right. There were others on this planet looking for the stone as well.
"Do we have a plan?"
"Mmm…" Kiko thought for a moment, "Rei and I will take care of anyone getting in our way, you go for the stone."
For someone who's supposed to be a fierce warrior, that was a pretty vague plan. I just had to believe they knew what they were doing and focus on what I was supposed to do, touch the stone first.
Wait a minute; if we could see the large stone from the distance we were at, this thing had to be huge!
I had to ask, "How are we supposed to bring this back to our ship? Let alone fly it off the planet?"
Kiko thought again, "Just focus on claiming it first."
I wanted to slap my forehead. She had no clue.
We ran fast through the trees and brush, jumping over fallen logs and rocks.
"There's a group we're catching up to just ahead of us" Rei announced.
"No problem, we'll just run through them" said Kiko taking out her blaster. "Sarth, just keep running to the stone, don't stop."
Rei took out her blaster as well and the three of us ran quickly through the jungle. We were able to take the other group by surprise, running past most of them until they began shouting.
Came voices from the group we were passing.
Pew! Pew! The sound of blasters whizzing by us only made me run faster. Rei took care of everyone in front while Kiko would occasionally turn around to fire. We quickly found ourselves being chased not only by the humanoids, but by their pets as well. Ravaging, four-legged beasts with long sharp fangs, they caught up with us much faster than their owners.
"Go on!" Kiko ordered us as she stopped to face the beasts.
I wasn't sure leaving her was a good idea, but I knew I had my own job to fulfill.
Rei and I went on ahead, losing all our pursuers. We made it to the edge of the jungle where we looked down at the humongous crater made by the falling stone.
"Well this isn't good," said Rei as we looked down upon hundreds of humanoids and other different species. "For some reason I couldn't see them here."
A horn blew from the direction we just came and all the hundreds of humanoids and species turned their heads to us.
"Uhh… so what do we do now??" I asked catching my breath.
"Keep charging!" Came Kiko's voice from behind. She didn't stop running and she jumped to slide down the side of the crater, leaving Rei and I to chase after her.
A rallying cry came from the group that was ahead of us. It was terrifying. We were facing hundreds, just the three of us. Where were Breccan and his crew?
"Don't stop Sarth!" was the last thing Kiko shouted to me before running ahead and making a path for us.
I weaved and dodged past anyone who came close to me. I was definitely much better after training with Rei and Kiko for a few months.
Every few feet I would see a small group of people sent flying into the air by Kiko. She was having no trouble at all going through the crowd.
More and more people were getting closer to us. I was trying my best to avoid getting hit or captured but one of the men seemed to come out of nowhere and blocked my path. He surprised me and I had no time to react.
I heard Rei inside my head. "Sarth duck!" My instincts took over and I immediately ducked as Rei shot the man in front of me with her twineulator and then someone else, dragging the man to the other target.
"Thanks!" I said to her in my head. I took off again, getting closer and closer to the stone.
I was almost to it when a very large man appeared in front of me. His size threw me off but I figured since he was so big I could easily outrun him. I was definitely very wrong. The second I tried to get passed him, he caught my arm with a single grasp. I struggled to get loose but he was a large, odd looking man.
He bellowed out to Kiko and Rei, "You think you petty humanoids can just fight right past us and take the stone?" he easily picked me up by my head and held me up in the air. I fought to break away but it was like hitting a giant rock.
"I'll only say this once…"he started to say as his grip tightened around my face and I grunted from the pain.
Kiko and Rei tried to move closer but the giant man stopped them by squeezing my head even harder.
"Like I said, I'll only say this once to you disgusting-"
A large, dark figure appeared out of nowhere and punched the other large man so hard that he went flying to the other side of the crater. In that same moment I found myself in the large hand of the attacker. Somehow the other man's hand was severed but still attached to my head. I pulled it off and threw it on the ground with disgust. The sight of my savior took me by surprise though, it was a huge demon. At least what I thought a demon would look like. Hell's fire even seemed to be burning off of his dark, hide-like skin.
Lux was next to us. Her whip was out in one hand and a blaster in the other, ready to attack anyone who threatened us.
The other fighters seemed confused about something as murmurs suddenly filled the air.
The demon holding me set me down and spoke in a very deep, ominous voice, "Set down your weapons and leave this place!" he demanded.
I saw the rest of the members of the Breccan crew slide down the sides of the crater from different directions and converge around the flaming demon. Lux turned her attention to me and asked if I was alright.
"Yeah I am, but who's that?" I asked.
"It's Breccan. These men were raised to obey to the type of species Breccan currently is right now." she said simply. "We were hoping to end this without having to fight but I doubt it now."
That's Breccan? I didn't have long to think about it because the large man burst out from under the rocks in the side of the crater, his skin was falling off like old torn paper peeling away from an old wall revealing another demon like the one who saved me (or Breccan I should say). The man was growing to the same size as demon Breccan.
"These slaves are mine!" The new demon roared back, and then he turned to his men and ordered, "Get to the stone! Take it back to the ship or I'll kill you myself!"
That seemed to jumpstart all his men's brains because they suddenly came back to life and continued to fight their way to the stone.
The new demon charged at demon Breccan and both demons were now engaged in battle with each other. I saw Lux fighting her way towards the stone and I remembered the deal we made with Breccan and his crew. My only job was to get to the stone, I could at least do that much. I took off again after her.
Dodge dodge dodge. We were both getting really close to the stone but I was still lagging behind her. She was apparently the runner for Breccan because the other members of his crew were helping to clear the path for her.
Faster! I need to run faster!
Somehow Lux kept getting further and further away from me. There's no way I could catch up with her in time now.
I'm not going to make it… "Duck!" I didn't even think, suddenly I was ducking on the ground before I realized it. Rei caught Lux on the leg with her twineulator and pulled her back, stopping her from running but she caught on quickly.
"You think I don't know its weakness?" she said as she swiftly cut off the twine attached to her leg with her whip. That brief moment was enough for Kiko to draw her attention elsewhere and Lux quickly dodged a kick from her.
"We don't need to stop you, just slow you down."
Kiko engaged Lux and she could no longer run forward. "Go Sarth!" Came Rei's voice again.
I bolted up and took off for the stone again. I had to use this opportunity to win, it was a clear straight shot right to the stone now with no one in the way.
Wrong! Out of the corner of my eye I saw Pippa take over the run for Lux as soon as she was stopped. She sprinted up the small hill where the stone was sitting and took out a funny looking blaster, aiming it at me.
There was no way I could dodge without losing speed, I would have to take the hit. I focused on the stone and mentally braced myself for whatever Pippa had coming for me but it never came. As soon as she took out her blaster and took aim it was shot out of her hand. I didn't have to look back to know who it was.
Pippa and I ran up the hill, both of us at about the same distance from the stone. It would come down to who could get their hand on it first. I could feel all eyes watch us as we sprinted like our lives depended on it.
We ran and extended our hands towards the glistening ruby red stone. Both of us were even and showed no sign of slowing down. As soon as the stone was a few feet away we both lunged at it with everything we had left.
I expected the stone to stop my momentum as my hand came in contact with it but that didn't happen. Pippa and I both touched the stone at the same time, but I was the only one to fall right through it.
I stumbled up to see Pippa holding her hand on the stone trying to catch her breath with a surprised look on her face as she stared right at me, inside the stone. I could see everyone else with the same look on their faces behind her.
The stone suddenly shuddered and began shrinking. I searched around frantically for an exit but the stone was shrinking too fast for me to react in any way. I closed my eyes, waiting to be squashed but instead something fell on my head.
"Ow!" I looked up to see what hit me.
A ruby red stone bounced on the ground in front of my feet and I picked it up. It was like a miniature version of the large stone that was now nowhere to be seen. This must be one of the four stones. It was still a beautiful ruby red as I clutched it in my palm.
The sky suddenly darkened and a loud CRACK echoed throughout the crater as the sage layers that were protecting the area began to break apart. Many of the fighters stopped to see what was happening.
"Time to go!" said Pippa as she took my arm and lead me to where the others were grouping up. "Looks like the stone was helping to protect this area until it was found."
The ground shuddered violently and most everyone fell to their hands and knees. CRRRAACK! Chunks of the sage ceiling began to fall apart.
"Run!" Kiko yelled out to everyone.
We all took off back in the direction we came from. Pieces of the sage ceiling were falling everywhere and an icy wind began to pick up. I watched as men from the other crew fled with us, a lot of them getting smashed by sage pieces.
We weaved and dodged through the falling sage debris, making our way back to the small mountain pass, where the green pillar was now gone from the top.
"Forget it! We're better off going around!" Breccan yelled from behind. He was back to looking like his normal self again.
"This is fastest path!" Kiko argued back.
"The path is probably blocked by now! We're going around!" Breccan said sternly insinuating his authority.
I can tell she didn't like it, but Kiko gave in to Breccan and we took another route around the mountain pass. It was a good thing too because halfway around the mountain we could see and hear it being crushed by a large falling sage piece.
We were almost back to the entrance where we entered. It was saddening to see the once beautiful, untouched paradise being destroyed within minutes.
"That way!" Pippa pointed in the direction were should head. The entrance we came through was covered up with fallen stones and sage.
"Stand back, I'll re-open it" said Kiko.
She pounded through the rock and sage making a new opening.
We all followed her as she blew away any large pieces that were blocking our path. It was dark inside the passageway and I staggered over a few larger rocks while trying to keep up. I completely lost my balance over one rock and fell over. The next thing I knew someone helped me back on my feet as a large rock chunk fell from the ceiling where I had just fallen over.
"Thanks-" I looked up to see it was Tobiah who grabbed me, but he ignored my comment and took out his spear that was attached to his back.
I looked to see what made him grab his weapon. The demon from earlier was back and slashing his way through to us. Tobiah took off his pack and took out a square box from inside. Then he pressed something on his belt and an energy shield blocked off the demon from reaching us. Tobiah was on the other side of the shield as well though, and he took off his cloak revealing his rough, scared, tan skin.
Breccan noticed what he was doing.
"Tobiah!" he yelled at him through the shield.
Tobiah was facing the demon, ready to do battle with his spear in hand. He turned his head slightly and nodded to Breccan before engaging the menacing demon.
The Breccan crew took one last look at him fighting the demon before taking off again.
"Let's go" Breccan said as he pushed me forward through the cave.
We barely made it out in time to avoid being crushed as the pathway closed behind us, but now we were now back on the blizzard side of the mountain and no one was following us.
Everyone took out their snow gear again as we headed back down the snowy mountain with one less man. We walked in silence as we trekked across the thick snow and the weather was getting worse by the minute. This was definitely going to be a rough journey back to the ships.
A few hours passed when I noticed I was getting colder and colder. I checked the battery around my waist and saw it was dying a lot quicker than I anticipated. I didn't have long to worry about it though because a powerful cracking noise and shudder made everyone stop in their tracks.
We all glanced around our feet where the noise was coming from on the slick ice walkway. We made sure we weren't walking too close together through this area where the path was only thin ice, to help distribute the weight, but the mountain was falling apart too quickly. Lux was behind me and I noticed the ice below her was giving away the most.
I was the first and closest to react as the ice block below her crumbled away, taking her along with it. I lunged for her hand and grabbed her just in time as I lingered on the edge of the hole. The ice below me didn't last long though and soon we were both falling. A splitsecond later I felt something hit me hard on my pack and I snapped to a stop still holding on to Lux's hand. I looked up to see I was attached to the twineulator.
"That was too close," Rei said through her mask so everyone could hear.
"I'll pull them up," said Kiko.
"Wait!" Pippa interjected. "Oh no, the ice is cutting-"
Suddenly the twine lost tension and once again Lux and I found ourselves falling off the cliff of the snowy mountain.