I didn't understand how this was a plant. It looked like they were asleep and being swallowed by the same clear sticky substance I was caught in, but worse. The plant veins were large and wrapped around the clear casing that entrapped them. The veins grew thicker as they went up and through the ceiling, disappearing into the dark upper level.
Luckily Kiko and Rei were in the same small room together, side-by-side. I went up to Kiko and started tearing the clear substance and leeching slugs off of her. The droid did the same for Rei.
I wiped everything off of her but she still remained unconscious. I wanted to wake her somehow but I didn't know how to. I was going to pat her face when the droid stopped me.
The droid spoke in a robotic tone, "She's completely unstable right now, it's best to keep her unconscious until Tammy can revive her."
I didn't even know it could speak, but I nodded and looked to Rei. The droid took off all the slugs and gave her an electric shock. Her eyes slowly opened, glowing bright red in the dark room. That couldn't be good.
"Are you alright?" I asked her quickly. She looked around in a dazed manner. "Rei, are you alright?" I tried asking again, trying to grab her attention.
She focused on me, "Sarth?"
"Yeah, it's me. You alright?"
She hugged me tightly. "I'm glad you're here…" she was on the verge of tears, "Where's Aki?!"
I wondered what happened in her mind during the whole month.
"She's right here…" I lifted Kiko up in my arms.
Rei examined her, "She's in a dangerous condition…"
A familiar low voice sent chills up my spine. "Yes she is. I wonder what would happen if you were to awaken her right now in this state…"
Rei and I looked up to see Ozias standing by the doorway. The droid immediate transformed its arm into a blaster and began shooting at him. The blasts just went straight through. It appeared that it was just a hologram of him, but just his mere presence was enough to freeze Rei and I.
He continued to speak, "I've been waiting for you to get here."
"Why didn't you just kill us?" Rei asked. Her eyes were still glowing bright red.
"You don't slaughter your cattle until they're ready." He spoke with the same deep voice. A sly smile skewed the scar on his face.
"You won't win." Rei retaliated.
Rather than responding he held up two glowing stones. My heart fell when I saw the blue stone I was supposed to be protecting in his hands. The other stone was a large, black cube that I took to be the third stone. He now had two of the four stones and we now only had one.
"I've been watching you." He took a step forward and I instinctively moved back even to just his hologram, that's how threatening he was. He pounced at my fear, "Did you like the racers I sent to you on Fargon? Or did you prefer seeing your little Sola friend again on Tizarr?"
He saw as I twitched at his comment toward Lone and continued to provoke me, "That girl of yours…" He glared at me, "failed me." The anger began to stir inside me. "Do you know what I do to those who fail me?" He pulled out something from outside the hologram and threw it on the ground before us. The hologram extended to show a severed arm that once belonged to my longtime friend. My stomach dropped as I stared at the detached limb on the ground. "And that's not the only piece I claimed..."
The anger was now writhing inside of me. I hated him. How could he do that to her? I wanted to kill him right here, right now.
I started to get up but Rei held me back.
"Let's get out of here…" she whispered, trying to calm me down.
That was the best course of action. He was only a hologram after all. I reluctantly loosened my tight fists and turned away from severed arm.
She helped prop Kiko on my back to carry her away from here.
"I'll see you in the near future," he smiled as his hologram faded.
We were about to walk out the door when a large wave-blast traveled through the wall and hit one of the black hooded racers that suddenly appeared, blasting him out of the other side of the wall. Soon everyone in the building knew we were here and shouting ensued.
"The shuttle's over here!" Rei yelled at me to follow her, leading the way.
I carried Kiko on my back and the droid gave me cover-fire from behind. I opened up the wall with a large square and Rei jumped through it. She shared one eye of her vision with me to show where the shuttle was. I used her vision to gauge my jump. We made it and set Kiko down carefully next to Rei.
"Where's Tammy?!" I asked noticing she wasn't driving the shuttle.
Rei searched for her again. "She's just below us, running away from two other Mechanites."
"Watch the ship!" I said before taking off to find Tammy.
They had to be after her because she still had the elemental stone. I went through the wall and was instantly greeted by the four-legged creatures that I saw earlier. I made another shape on the ground and fell through it just before their sharp teeth could snap shut on me.
This time I was caught by a few large Eyes of Red men who were already waiting for me. I kicked one of them away, but the one that held me from behind, held on tight. He wrestled me to the ground and pinned me down. Another wave blast appeared through the wall and struck him, sending him flying to the other Eyes of Red and through the wall. This gave me enough time to fall down another level.
I tried to contact Rei after searching around for Tammy. "Rei where is she??"
"Umm… go down two more levels… then head to the room on the right." The entire building shuddered. "Wow, hurry up! Something big and nasty just burst from the top floor… it looks like a plant… whoa! It has tentacles or somethin'! Hurry up Sarth!"
The floor shuddered even more this time, shaking me to my knees as I tried to make another shape on it. A crashing noise was growing louder from above.
I fell to the next floor and immediately down another. There were droids in this room that looked like the one that helped me, but these ones were firing at me.
I rolled out of the way into another room and kept running through rooms on the right until I came across two hair-glowing humanoids that were holding Tammy in their hands, trying to whisk her away.
There was no way I was gonna let them take her. I charged the male one that was closest to me and punched him in the chest before he could react. Something happened that we both weren't expecting.
He flew back, a surge of electricity fluttered all over his body and he became motionless on the ground. His hair also stopped glowing.
"That's impossible…" the female Mechanite said with a straight face, staring at her fallen comrade.
She started to take out her blaster but I grabbed her arm to stop her. Once again she became electrified and fell to the ground.
"What the heck?" I asked looking at my hands. I saw I was wearing the ring Tammy gave me.
"That ring disrupts the electrical current that Mechanites process on, causing them to temporarily shut down, or lose consciousness as humans would. It can allow you to do other things as well once you get used to it."
She came towards me.
She read my mind, "Don't worry, it won't harm those you don't see as a threat." Then she grabbed my hand and took off the bracelet she gave me earlier and put it on her arm. "See. Now let's get out of here."
The roof caved in above us and a giant plant tentacle squirmed around, looking for things to destroy. It seemed to have eyes on it somewhere because it 'saw' us and chased after us.
We ran, ducked, and phased through walls to get away. It was a good thing she took the bracelet from me because she was much faster with it than I was. Wave blasts came through the walls from different places and struck the tentacle whenever it came close to us. There was a hole in the building that led to the outside and I could see Rei inside the shuttle waiting for us, shooting many blasters at once in different directions.
We jumped in and the tentacle smashed through the building right behind us. I turned around to see the giant plant annihilate the building we were just in and it crumbled to the ground far below.
Now we were being shot at from all directions, but our shuttle had an energy shield that equipped once we were all inside and many automatic blasters firing back at the shuttles now pursuing us.
Our once dilapidated shuttle was now like a mini battleship tank. Tammy really souped up our originally dinky shuttle over the past month.
"Love what you did to the shuttle Tammy!" Rei shouted from the front.
Tammy joined her and took over. "Thanks. It took me a while to modify."
Rei joined me in the back, "You have anything I can shoot?"
I didn't have anything to give her but Tammy answered, "There's a button on the back of your seat."
Rei searched around for it and suddenly the back opened up to reveal a multitude of different weapons.
She gasped with excitement, "Where did you get these?!"
Tammy evaded a large blast from behind and answered, "Around."
She picked one out just in time because many large armored ships and shuttles were now flying after us.
She fired one and nothing appeared to happen, but then the ship she was aiming at was sliced into many lateral pieces and fell apart, down to the hot ground way below us.
"Wow! These are great!" Rei said excitedly.
I think she was having way too much fun considering our predicament.
"Hold on," said Tammy as we jerked sideways from another a large blast. The gun flew from Rei's hand and fell outside the shuttle.
"Oops…" she cringed, watching it fall down with a guilty smile.
"That weapon cost more than we usually make with one bounty." Tammy stated in a displeased tone, taking notice of our loss.
"Sorry Tammy!" was the only thing she said in reply. Then she shifted her attention to me, "Well, pick one Sarth, they aren't gonna shoot themselves."
I was a little hesitant but the ships were now firing larger rounds at us. I chose one that looked easy to handle.
Rei was still picking out a new weapon when I grabbed one that looked easy to hold and aim. As soon as I touched it, it transformed itself to engulf my entire arm, up to my neck.
That was cool. I held it up to fire and it slowly whirled to life.
Rei saw what I held up and pounced on me, "No!" she screamed as she quickly aimed my weapon in the sky to stop me from shooting it at the enemy ships. "Geez! Tammy why do you have a razalator here?!"
"What's wrong with this weapon?" I asked confused.
"It's ridiculously powerful," she chuckled nervously.
"Oh… well it's a good thing I don't know how to fire it…"
The weapon whirled louder and began charging.
"Firing main cannon" It said to me.
"Uh…" I said dumbfounded, still holding my arm up above the ships.
Rei's eyes widened and a large ball of light shot out of the end, into the sky directly over our pursuers. She pulled me backwards and screamed to Tammy, "Tammy get down!"
We took cover over Kiko's body as the ball of light massively exploded.
I couldn't believe that that much power came out of my weapon. The shockwaves alone lurched our shuttle forward and luckily we flew between buildings and not through them, thanks to Tammy's quick maneuvering.
Our shuttle spun and spun and spun until we ricocheted off some buildings and started falling. The shuttle slide against another building and stopped suddenly when it got wedged sideways between metal building-bracers.
The force threw Tammy out but she caught a piece of the shuttle just in time. I saw her hanging on and lunged at her just as that piece of the shuttle broke off. I caught her hand but it made me slide off the sideways shuttle and so Rei had to catch me as well.
Now she was left holding me by my legs as I held on to Tammy to keep us from falling to our burning deaths, all while supporting Kiko who was still limp across her back.
"You know…" she grunted, trying to keep hold of us, "I may be a sub-species to Kiko… but we don't have the same strength as them…"
I looked down at Tammy. She didn't seem frightened at all dangling hundreds of feet in the air above the molten hot ground. Her eyes met mine and then she moved her head sideways to look behind Rei at Kiko.
"Your sync rings," she said to me.
I forgot I was still wearing them, and I was catching her drift.
"Rei!" I called out, "Give me Tammy's vision!"
There was no response but suddenly I blinked and I was now staring at Kiko on Rei's back. I wiggled my free left hand and tried to remember how to turn them on.
"Touch the middle part of your left pinky with your thumb. Only focus on which limb you want to move," said Tammy.
Oh yeah, that's right. I did that and I saw Kiko's left arm abruptly mimic mine as her arm raised above her head. It was definitely a weird feeling looking through someone else's eyes and trying to command someone else's body.
"Hurry Sarth…" Rei strained. I felt myself slipping.
"Remember, Kiko's a lot stronger than you are. Be careful how you handle her."
I wish she could've said, 'no pressure or anything' instead.
I could feel everything that Kiko could feel through her left arm. It was a good thing she ended up in the position she was in right now against Rei. It was almost perfect for me to grab myself from Rei. I gently directed her arm forward and felt for my leg that Rei was grasping, making sure she didn't slide over her. Kiko really was super strong. I clutched the ankle part of my boot a little too hard before easing up.
Slowly, I lifted myself up using Kiko's arm. Rei was able to let go with relief and position herself so that Kiko wouldn't slide off her back.
With Kiko's arm, I pulled myself up higher and closer to the shuttle so that Rei could help Tammy get back on the shuttle. Rei gave me my vision back and I was able to use my now-free right hand to reach for Rei while trying not to wobble Kiko's arm too much. She pulled me in and I used Kiko to let go of me and I thunked back on the shuttle.
I turned off the sync rings while we sat there panting with relief.
"I can't believe we got out of that," I confessed. Rei and Tammy both nodded. "So… will this thing still start?"
Tammy went back up to the front to examine the shuttle. I helped Rei re-situate Kiko and we set her down gently so she leaned against the shuttle floor since we were still sideways.
Rei put her hand to her forehead, her eyes were no longer red but filled with concern instead.
"We need to hurry, she's losing herself quickly." She said.
"Why can't we just wake her up? I thought she would've awakened since we released her from that thing."
"No, she's too far into herself now. If we tried to wake her up without properly bringing her back… it wouldn't be the Akiko we know."
It wouldn't be the Akiko we know? Who would it be then?
The shuttle sputtered back to life and Tammy wiggled us out from being wedged. The only good thing that came from the blast was that we were no longer being followed. Nevertheless, we made haste back to the Jago for Kiko's sake.
It would take a few more hours for us to reach the ship. I told Rei what had happened while she was induced. She couldn't believe that a month had passed since we arrived and I knew how she felt. It's hard to comprehend because it felt like just the other day we had landed and now we were leaving back to space again. The only one that felt the full effects of being here the entire month was Tammy.
She told me about how I suddenly left the shuttle that day, and that they all went after me and then she thought she saw someone from her past and went to follow them.
"What did you see?" she asked me.
I didn't want to think about it anymore but I still answered, "I think… I saw the future…" I had been thinking about it since Tammy saved me. "Ozias wanted me to see what he was going to do after he won the race… how he was going to destroy the galaxy and our homeplanets first…" At least that was the conclusion I came to. "What did you see?"
She bit her thumb, "I watch you die… I watched everyone I love, die in front of me." The color faded from her face. "It felt so… real… I knew I couldn't live like that… all alone…"
"Yeah, I know what you mean."
"I don't want to imagine what horrors she's going through right now," she stroked Kiko's hair, "I can feel the agony she's in."
It was torture not being able to do anything for her. We sat there, worrying every second. Tammy was going as fast as she could as we raced back to the Jago in our now-crumbling shuttle.
The ship was still in the same spot where we left it a month ago, Tammy hid it well. She drove the shuttle into the cargo bay and I carried Kiko up to the medical bay on my back.
I laid her down on the examination table and Tammy got to work assessing the situation.
"She's broken through the second barrier," she muttered toward Rei.
"You can bring her back though right?" She asked anxiously.
A familiar alarm went off in the room. It was the same one that I heard when I interrupted Kiko's meditation. The ship shuttered slightly and a cold gust swept past, leaving my hairs on end.
Tammy continued to manipulate the panels before hovering over Kiko's head.
Rei saw what she was up to, "You're going to make a direct connection?!"
"There isn't time to take precaution."
She didn't argue there and Tammy undid one of her braids and brushed the ends of her hair across Kiko's forehead slowly. She was in deep concentration before closing her eyes to concentrate even harder.
I wondered what Rei was talking about, making a direct connection. Was this bad or something?
Rei and I watched intently. A minute passed… then two long minutes… then finally the alarm subsided, but Tammy and Kiko remained motionless on the table. We didn't have to wait too long after that though, because soon Kiko's gray eyes fluttered open.