Both Xanitaur ran through the woods, not minding the thorns whipping at their bodies. They recognized horns and drum from the Katarii army louder now; Even some of their cries could be heard. Suddenly, they both heard a crash up ahead; A Katarii lunged out of the brush in front of them. His antennae faced darted in this way and that as it searched for its prey. Its head swiveled around with its great, compound eyes looked in all directions. Its lean, muscular torso surged with the effort of trudging through the woods, all the way down past its four, pointed spikes of feet and spiked tail.
“Hurry! Get down! Be quiet!” Michello hissed as the beast came past. Karissa ducked behind a large fallen tree. “Hey! Over hear!” Michello yelled, picking up a limb. He stood at his full height, even though the Katarii was taller than he was. Motionless with his arm spikes bristling, he waited for the Katarii. What Michello didn’t notice was the scimitar at the Katarii’s side. With one of its spindly arms, it drew the dangerous weapon.
The Katarii stood there, cocking its head and making a clicking sound with its throat. With that, it took a step; Its long bulk resting on its sword-like, pincer feet.
In a flash, it charged, scimitar raised high. The weapon came down then twisted to make a quick horizontal slash at the Xanitaur, like lightning. However, Michello was able to dodge and jump aside as the weapon whistled past.
Karissa shrieked, drawing the Katarii’s attention. It now headed closer to Karissa, its antennae flicking to and fro.
Their was a sickening thunk, the Katarii's antennae shook violently, and its eyes got wide. Then it fell, dead. “Don't thank me yet.” Michello said, hauling Karissa to her feet. The dead Katarii’s legs convulsed. She just nodded and they both continued through the wood.
They finally reached Ellispire, it’s beam weapons were already firing at the approaching mass of Katarii. The blasts cut holes and ruts into the earth and trees. They saw as ships tried lifting of the pad, but were destroyed in great explosions. The Katarii’s had what was know as a PBW, or Portable Beam Weapon. Already, many of the ships were falling back to the earth as flaming balls of wreckage.
Hurriedly, they had reached the West Gate as they heard a familiar voice.
“Mother? What are you doing? You must flee now!” Michello cried.
“You two! You must run to the Aldrath Woods. You’ll meet Teias there. The Elder Perfin demands it!” She answered shrilly, running across the ramparts. A bolt flew past and a tower toppled over. “They’re evacuating now! I must help. Go to the city of Aldrinith! Get help! Hurry my son. You must run now!” She cried again, and was gone down the stairs on the other side.
“C’mon!” Karissa yelled, tugging Michello with her. They both ran along the wall, toward the North Gate, the woods, and soon their friend. They heard the noise even louder now even though the enemy was coming from the South. Cries intermingled with horns, drums, and laser fire. They looked up at the keep, the tower where the Elder lived. Up at the very top, they thought they saw a shimmer of light, but it was gone when the reached the North Gate, and the Aldrath Woods.
Perfin looked out the top window. The chaos below, the children running, it all seemed to slow down for a moment. He began to notice things he hadn’t before.
How did things come to this? He thought, still looking below. What might have we accomplished with the Katarii’s help? Why is war always the answer? He sighed, still looking out the window, even when the door opened behind him.
“Elder Perfin sir. We must go now!” Queltzii came in quivering. “They are all leaving now upon your orders.” He continued.
“No. I think I'll stay,” He replied, giving a sideways glance.
“But sire, the evac-”
“I said I’ll stay!” Perfin roared, throwing a nearby chair at Queltzii. It splintered into many pieces The Elder coughed, murmured something, then sat back down, shaking. Queltzii looked around the room, but ran out leaving the door open. In a few minutes, Perfin could see him running below to a ship, the Salvation.
Ah, the Salvation, I remember helping to build that ship, back when I was young. He thought some more. Yes, everything was slowing, the people, the ships; He almost didn’t notice the PBW bolt coming straight toward the window.
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