I was blown away. The burst from the explosion shattered the tree and I was flung through the air before slamming to the ground.
My ears were ringing as I stumbled to stand up to see if Rei was alright. I wobbled everywhere and when I tried to jump over a tree, I brushed my leg and I felt something wet. I looked down at my hand and saw blood on my hand coming from my leg. There was a large gash there but I didn’t feel anything. What pain I did feel came from my arm, but when I inspected it, it looked fine. That could only mean it was coming from Rei.
“Rei!” I yelled out. I halved my vision with her and I watched her look at her arm and pull out a piece of tree shrapnel. I winced in pain.
“Sorry. Dammit you’re hit too?” She observed.
“My leg, but I can’t feel anything.” I said. “S.E.E.S. must be blocking the pain.”
I found her staggering to get on her feet and readying her blasters again. We were both all cut up just from the blast.
“They’re coming but they’re not gonna catch us off guard again.” She vowed. “We’re gonna break through.” She held up her blasters in the direction of the closest Eyes of Red. “Let’s go.”
We ran, ignoring the pain. That’s when Ozias’ crew made their move. Rei shot down a few of them, but they were fast. I fired my blasters a few times but my aim was still horrible. The only thing I had left was to fight hand-to-hand.
I saw a man aiming at Rei and I lunged at him forcing his attention on me. I didn’t know too many offensive moves but what I did know I was very good at, and I was actually surprised at being able to take one down.
My ring gave off an electric discharge around my fist. I had forgotten about it. I blocked another Eyes of Red and I could feel the ring electrocute him whenever we touched. I sensed another one behind me and I ducked from being hit with a club. Soon I was surrounded by a small crowd but I saw Rei take the weapon off her back and it changed shape into what looked like a little cannon that rested on her shoulder. I knew she was planning on taking them all out with whatever she had. I didn’t have to communicate with her to know what she was thinking, and I ran and jumped out of the way of an explosion I’d never seen before. An energy sphere surrounded the group and dragged them all together in one spot before exploding them apart.
I saw another man behind a tree taking aim at her. I was about to warn her but I didn’t have to. She felt my fear for her and she swiftly pulled out another blaster and shot the man. Soul linking with Rei definitely had its advantages working as a team, because we were handling the multitude of enemies extremely well together.
It wasn’t until we took down a majority of them that we ran into trouble. I felt something or someone with incredible power quickly approach us. I could sense Rei’s fear of the intruder which made me fear even more.
“Run Sarth!” She said as started to take off.
I took off after her and we ran as fast as we could through the trees in Kiko’s direction. We could feel the powerful Eyes of Red encroaching on us. There was no way we were going to be able to outrun him.
“Go on! I’ll hold him off, you go get Kiko!” she said to me as she took out her big blaster again.
“No. I’m not leaving you here.” I said matter-of-factly.
She chortled nervously. Her reaction to this enemy was different from the others, she usually doesn’t fear, but I could feel that she’s had bad encounters with this person before.
“Careful,” she warned. “He knows how to quick-step.”
Quick-step? I didn’t have to wait long for an answer to my question, a big man wearing thick-layered armor appeared suddenly before us. His power aura was a brilliant red color.
Rei didn’t waste any time firing another energy sphere but it caught only air. She shot at every location he appeared but failed to hit him each time. I’d never seen her fail to hit her target before. Who was this man? I couldn’t even visually follow where he was, once second he was here and the next he was gone. Was this what quick stepping was? Rei ran out of ammo and took out her smaller blasters but the man disappeared again. The amount of power the man wielded clouded our senses of him so we couldn’t tell exactly where he was.
Rei and I were back to back surveying our surroundings. Our breathing was in sync with each other as our heart raced to try and anticipate his next location.
I felt him before I saw him. A powerful force hammered me on my side and I was thrust against a dense tree trunk before falling to the ground onto its protruding roots. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Rei grab her ribs and stagger away from the man who was now hovering over her. My impact clearly affected her as well.
“Completely soul linking with a human?” The man said in disgust. “How much lower can you get?” Rei just glared at the man. “You dare gaze at me with those eyes.” He slowly approached her with intense animosity.
I was back on my feet, ready to help her out, but I noticed that my S.E.E.S. was on the brink after that hit, and the pain was slowly creeping in.
The man turned and growled at me, “Stay out of this human. I’ve been searching for this little fugitive for a long time now.”
I ignored his comment and ran after him anyway. He disappeared as soon as I got close, and then reappeared directly behind me. I felt his hand slam on my shoulder and I fell to my knees, with a blade to my neck. Just the presence of his hand on my shoulder held me down with such a force that I could no longer move at all.
“No wait!” Rei screamed.
“Don’t worry,” the man said simply. “I’m supposed to bring you both back… alive.” He retracted his blade and more Eyes of Red appeared next to us with similar strong power, but nothing compared to this man.
“Shall we carry them Roju-Draven?” one of them asked.
“No,” the powerful Eyes of Red answered. “Bind them and make them walk. Drag them if they stop.”
He lifted his hand from my shoulder and the tension released. There was no point in resisting this man, we already lost.
The other Eyes of Red took out a metallic cable and tied our hands together with it. When he was finished he lurched us forward with it. As the adrenaline subsided, I began to feel the full effects of our injuries, mine being the worst but the S.E.E.S. was taking most of the pain for me. I felt bad for Rei who only sustained minor injuries, but had to put up with the full effects of mine.
“Are you alright?” I asked concerned as I saw we were headed up a small hill. “Maybe you should break the link.”
“No.” She said. “You could pass out and be dragged the rest of the way if I can’t concentrate completely on breaking the link correctly.” She stumbled on some rocks and I caught her from falling before the cable tugged us both forward again. She only made it a few steps before tripping again.
“Let me carry you.” I said as I held her up again.
“I wasn’t asking. I’m not going watch them drag you there either.”
She sighed but didn’t contest as I knelt down to hoist her on my back. I was in pain, but it would’ve hurt much more to watch her stumble all the way there. I felt her rest her head on mine and it made me feel more at ease.
“How do you know that man, Roju-Draven?” I asked her.
“He used to be Head of the Protection Squad back on my planet.” She answered wearily.
“Why is he after you?”
“He and the rest of my species see my eyes as a threat, he’s been after me ever since.”
“Because you can sense them and not the Eyes of Blue?!”
“Yep, pretty much the story of my life. I was cast aside like a piece of trash.” Trash huh? Sounds familiar. “At least I have Kiko…”
We came to the edge of the forest, to a vast empty field with a large pile of boulders in the middle. There was a sheer rock cliff on the other side, giving the feeling of being back in an enclosed arena. I set Rei down and the cables were taken off of us. We were shoved forward towards Ozias and Kiko, but now pinned to the ground by a leg on our backs, my twinulator blaster falling from the S.E.E.S. and onto the ground in front of me.
Kiko already looked the worse I had ever seen her before, her clothes were shredded in many areas and she already looked exhausted. It obviously took all her strength to hold Ozias at bay, because she didn’t even sense us until Roju-Draven tossed us in her direction. I could see a surprised and saddened expression fill her face, even through the darkening sky.
“It looks like we have company…” said Ozias in a cool, calm manner. “I’ve been expecting you...” He was expecting us? Were we betrayed by Balt?! “I knew you would find your way here. I was the one who told Balt your location when Akiko selfishly abandoned you.”
Rei tried to jerk free but it was futile.
“Ozias! They have nothing to do with this!” Kiko roared at him.
He turned and gave her an evil smile. His brightly lit blue eyes and the shadow of the night made him look especially eerie. “On the contrary, they have everything to do with this. You and your crew were all vital to events that led to this very moment.”
He grabbed her attention with an insinuating comment, “This moment… ever since our last encounter, I’ve been planning how this moment would play out. When I finally found you, I knew the race was the greatest opportunity for us to meet again and finish what we started many years ago.”
She listened intently and he continued, “Ever since I found you, I’ve been watching. I knew your captain would join the race after a little push through the door and I sent those racers to you on Fargon to test your strength. I found and used your human’s little friend on Tizarr. And oh…” he grumbled, “That Mechanite of yours… was the biggest pain in my plans. Thwarting each of my attempts to release your power by destroying the incitor I placed on your human and taming your inner power on Glutvagant…” he spat on the ground and smiled again, “Her exultant death ensured my victory.”
This time I wanted to get up and bash his face in. I struggled to get at him but the Eyes of Red on top of me simply slammed his foot down and the force made me lose my breath. Kiko took a step toward us and the Eyes of Red both took out a blaster and aimed it at our heads.
She stopped in her tracks, “Leave them out of this and you can have me!”
Ozias chuckled, “Simply killing you is not enough. We need to finish what we started… yet you seem to possess tremendous restraint holding back your latent powers.”
He turned his attention back to us and slowly made his way over.
“Wait!” Kiko shouted as she attempted to stop him but Draven was able to easily hold her off himself.
He continued to walk over to us from the middle of the field, talking as his evil aura encroached on us. “You’ve become a weak Kai… the weakest, and I only fight the strongest. If you’re not even able to defeat Draven then you have no chance saving your friends.”
Kiko fought harder to get around him, but she was no match, for even him. The temperature dropped and I all I could feel was fear as I imagined what he was going to do to us. Draven managed to easily pin a panicking Kiko down, but she continued to fight his suppression. I felt the link between Rei and I begin to dwindle as Ozias stopped right in front of us. He was a huge, strong man and my instincts kept telling me to run away from him.
“No! Wait! I’ll do it! I’ll release it!” Kiko pleaded to him still fighting to get up.
Ozias smiled at us and the man on top of Rei let her go. She scurried backwards but froze when he extended his arm to grab her by the neck.
“NO! PLEASE!” Kiko agonized.
“Rei!” I shouted, coming back to my senses. I looked around for anything I could use to help her. My twineulator blaster was the closest thing and I stretched out as far as I could to grab it but it was just out of my reach. Ozias swung around to show Rei struggling against his grip around her neck.
The smile never left his face, “This is what’s holding you back…”
I continued to reach the blaster but it was useless.
“Sarth…” I heard Rei whimper as now both of her red eyes met mine, “take care of her-”
“REEII!” Kiko shouted.
Crack… Ozias easily snapped her neck with a twist of his wrist. Her now lifeless arms dangled to her sides as her glowing red eyes diminished into the darkness.