Liz pushed Max and Zan to the ground as the Skins got closer, and she started yelling at them in their heads. They’d really only been out of it for a few moments, but it had given the enemy the upper hand.
“Snap them out of this,” Michael yelled at Liz over his shoulder as they crouched behind the car. “We aren’t going to last much longer.”
Max and Zan came to at that moment, looking around as more Skins came at them out of the dusk from all directions. They both jumped to their feet.
Michael threw one Skin into two others, knocking them all to the ground in a poof of dust. He turned to see Max and Zan and they were getting up. “What the hell happened to you two? We need some help here. We don’t know how many of them are out there.” He looked around quickly. “And I think it’s too late to make a run for it.”
Zan nodded, “I’ll try, but I don’t have much left,” he said. “Bringing down that roof took most of my strength.”
Ava intercepted another Skin who was getting too close to them, throwing him backward into the side of the car, breaking his seal.
Isabel spoke up, “Tess can you do that fire again? Like when we were in the school.”
She nodded. “I think so, but we have to wait until they get close enough.”
Max looked at her. “You think so?” he asked. “You told me you didn’t know how you did it.”
Tess smiled at him. “Don’t worry Max. I’ll do anything for you. Anything to help us win.”
Max nodded. “Okay,” he said softly.
Tess’ smile turned to a look of incredulous joy. Finally Max was starting to realize how valuable she was to him.
Michael sent a blast of power at the next Skin and he seemed to shatter in mid-air.
Ava and Isabel took out two more, and Zan attempted to send out his power, but the ripples that left his hand only traveled half the distance and then dissipated.
The Skin smiled, rushing toward them, but Michael’s power tore through him, erasing his smile as he burst in a shower of dust.
“How many is that?” Michael called out.
“I don’t know,” Max said. “A dozen maybe.”
“So if we’re lucky we’ve got half of them,” Isabel said sarcastically. “Great.”
More Skins came forward, but they seemed to know the range of the group’s powers and stopped just outside it. Waiting.
One by one the peeling Skins came out of the near darkness, joining the circle that surrounding the group.
Michael shook his head. There were so many Skins, a lot more than the thirty they’d originally thought. Where did they all come from? He’d thought Tess had taken out all of the Skins at the school, but Nicholas had escaped, so maybe others had too.
The Skin army was quickly filling-in the circle around them. There was certainly no way out.
“Shit,” Zan growled, watching the Skins gather around them. “This can’t be good.”
The sun had had finally set and the last dim rays were the only light.
“Be careful,” Max warned, “they might try to use the darkness to sneak up on us.”
Liz practically held her breath, feeling like something horrible was going to happen any minute, but the Skins were just standing there, like they were waiting for something, or someone.
A few moments passed and the silence was practically unnerving.
Suddenly Nicholas came forward through the line of his soldiers followed by Lonnie and Rath, “You’re completely surrounded,” Nicholas said happily, motioning above him, “and there’s no roof to help you here.”
Zan smiled a little when he saw that Rath was covered with fresh cuts and dust. Obviously he hadn’t entirely escaped the destruction in the building.
Rath jutted his chin at Zan, “What’re you smiling at duke?” he grunted.
“Just appreciating my handiwork,” Zan said.
Rath’s eyes hardened as he jerked his head to the side. “You won’t be smiling when I get a piece of you, scrub.” His eyes went to Liz. “And then I’ll have a piece of that,” he said with a wink, waggling his tongue at her. “Alien sex,” he said, pointing at her, “there’s nothing like it, but I’ll bet at least one of these guys has given it to you already, haven’t they sweetness.”
Liz looked away, repulsed.
Rath laughed. “Oh, so you’ve gotten it from more than one, or maybe they just pass you around, sweet thing?”
Both Max and Zan were ready to tear Rath apart for what he was saying to Liz, and opened their mouths to defend her, but she spoke to them silently. “Don’t,” she said. “It will just make him keep going.”
They were all surprised to hear Ava speaking up. “Rath, is that the best you can come up with?” she scoffed. “You’re such a scrub.”
Rath laughed again.
“Enough of these games,” Nicholas said. “Khivar is magnanimously offering you a deal.” He paused for effect. “You hand over the Granolith along with yourselves, and you can return to Antar to say your goodbyes before you are executed.”
Michael scowled. “Riiiight,” he said sarcastically.
Nicholas’ brow furrowed for a moment and then he nodded. “Is this scene familiar to you two Zans?” he asked. “It just struck me that it looks very much like the place you died in your last life. How appropriate it is where you are making your last stand, again.”
A shiver went up Max’s spine. He hadn’t seen his fate in the vision, but he’d guessed he never left that garden alive.
Nicholas shrugged. “Khivar has been very patient and very reasonable, but we aren’t leaving here without the Granolith. So you can give it to me now,” he demanded, “or things start getting unpleasant.”
Michael kept his hand held out before him, but partially turned his head as he whispered. “Max, Zan, what’s the plan?”
“We have to take out more of them to even have a chance to get away,” Zan said.
Max nodded. “Michael and I can concentrate on Nicholas, Lonnie and Rath, try to keep them distracted. The rest of you work on taking out a section of Skins so we can get through the line and back to the cars.”
Everyone agreed quietly, and Max said to Michael, “Why don’t you let Nicholas know what our decision is?”
Michael looked at Nicholas. “Here’s our answer about the Granolith,” he said, as he used his powers to pluck a large rock out of the garden surrounding them and sent it hurling toward the Skin standing next to Nicholas. The soldier had a moment to observe the hole in his chest and then dissolved in a shower of dust.
Nicholas smiled. “Finally a real fight,” he said. He gave a nod and all around him the Skins fired.
Max immediately heard small pings on the metal of the car they were hiding behind. It sounded like raindrops, but Max knew it was from the Skins powers. The Skins were out of range too. But as he realized that, they started moving slowly forward.
The pings on the metal of the car came more frequently, and increased in volume, and Max knew the enemy would be in range soon. Then he heard the sound of a window crack, and reached down to use his powers to turn the windows to steel to protect them better.
Michael used his powers to pick up a dozen rocks from their feet, flinging them out in a dense pattern, but the Skins were ready for them and tossed them aside.
Isabel, Tess, Zan, Liz and Ava were crouched behind the benches, using them and the trees for cover.
Zan spoke as he motioned with his hands. “Ava and Tess, you take that side, Isabel you take this side, and Liz and I will take the middle. He motioned to a section of the Skins, “The cars are over there, so we’ll take out as many as we can from that section. They all nodded.
As the others hurried to get in position, Zan got behind Liz, spooning her as he nuzzled her neck. She could feel his erection against her butt, and felt her own desire rise. She spoke to him through their connection. “Not that I’m complaining, but isn’t it kind of a bad time?”
He chucked. “I can’t help it,” he said. “Having the connection open so long and feeling you, it’s driving me crazy. I’m practically drained from taking the roof down, and being near you like this makes me feel stronger. The power is building in me.”
“Someday,” Liz said, pressing back into him, “when this is all over, we’ll have to figure out what is going on with the three of us and this power.”
Zan nodded. “It’s just too bad we couldn’t figure it out before now. It would have come in handy.”
Using his powers, Zan picked up some rocks and sent them hurling toward the Skins. They whistled through the air and took out two more soldiers. He smiled, but they only had a moment to celebrate as a blast of energy came spiraling toward them.
Instinctively, Liz raised her shield and blocked it, surprised when it happened.
“That’s my girl,” Zan said proudly, kissing her cheek.
Behind them, Michael sent blast after blast over the car, aimed directly at Lonnie, Nicholas and Rath, trying to keep them off-balance, while Max used his shield to capture and redirect anything that came near them.
The Skins continued to move slowly closer, and even though Max could see through Zan and Liz’s eyes that they were gradually decreasing in number, it wasn’t happening fast enough. Isabel, Ava and Michael had been using their powers a lot and they wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever.
Lonnie dropped back, using Nicholas and Rath for cover and concentrated her powers on her brother’s human.
Liz felt herself stiffen in Zan’s arms as a tingling sensation shot up her spine, and immediately she knew what it was. “Lonnie,” she whispered.
To Liz, Lonnie’s power was like an evil, black vine, twisting its way into her brain to force Lonnie’s will on her. Liz had been terrified of it happening again, terrified that this time Lonnie would make her kill Max or Zan. So when she felt it this time, her whole mind fought against it
Zan could feel his sister’s power and feel Liz struggle against it. He reached out with his mind to help Liz, but was surprised that she was already pushing it away.
Sending a burst of his power through her, he helped Liz shove Lonnie all the way out, and he felt his sister’s surprise across the field. They’d pushed her out, but it has also wasted precious time.
Ava, Isabel and Tess were making a little progress clearing out the Skins, but it was going slowly. The Skins were getting closer, so it was easier to kill them but it seemed that every time they took one enemy down, the others just closed the gap.
The pings on the metal car were getting louder and louder as the Skins got nearer and Max noticed that the car was starting to rock from the force of the impacts. On the next hit, there was an even deeper thump and Max felt the car move back slightly.
Max saw Rath grinning as he hurled black, crackling balls at the car, one after another, and realized he must be trying to destroy it.
Using so much power, Michael was beginning to weaken. His blasts were covering less ground and packing a lot less punch. He kept going to give the others as much time as he could, but yelled over his shoulder, “How’s it going, I don’t have a lot left.”
“Switch me places,” Zan called out, “I’ll take them on for a while.”
Michael nodded, turning to look at Zan, but the moment’s distraction was enough and one of Rath’s crackling energy balls struck him in the shoulder, sending him spinning to the ground. He landed with a thump on his back.
Immediately Max and Zan went to him. Max got behind Michael where he could examine him and still keep them safe. He held up a hand to project his shield in front of them.
“It’s not bad,” Michael said. “Just a glancing blow that spun me around. I’m fine.” He tried to sit up but winced, grabbing the shoulder.
“Stay still,” Max ordered. “Let me check you out.” He looked at Zan. “I have to drop my shield to do this.”
Zan nodded. “I’ll take the front.”
But before they could move, they heard Nicholas’ voice.
“Stop!” Nicholas bellowed over the fray. “Cease fire!” He’d seen Michael go down and knew it was a good time for another offer.
The Skins slowly stopped firing as the word spread, but an overeager soldier near Nicholas kept sending blast after blast into the side of the car.
Nicholas focused on him, drawing an ‘X’ in the air with his finger, and the soldier’s husk split open, filling the air with dust.
“I can’t use soldiers who don’t follow orders,” he growled.
He turned toward group crouched behind the car. “This is your last chance,” he said. “Khivar has been merciful so far, but no more.”
Max and Zan looked at each other and spoke quickly in their heads.
“Looks like we don’t have much choice,” Zan said. “Even if we did manage to get away now, they’ll just keep coming after us. Next time they might get even more of an advantage, and take or kill one of us.”
Max agreed with a single nod of his head. “This is it then. We stay and fight and end this. And no way is it going to end like it did the first time.”
Max and Zan stood up simultaneously and straightened to their full height so they could see Nicholas. They stood with shoulders back and heads held high, and spoke in unison. “We’ll never give you the Granolith.”
Liz turned to see them, and even though she was behind them and could only see the side of their faces, she gasped. They were so beautiful, and she’d never seen them look so much like leaders, like the kings they were. But the circumstances mirrored almost exactly what she seen from the memory of their last life, and a shiver of fear shot through her.
She couldn’t stand the thought of losing them, it almost overwhelmed her. And as crazy as it sounded, she wanted them. Desire for them filled every inch of her and there was nothing she needed more than to wrap herself up in the two of them.
Automatically Max and Zan both reached for her, each grasping one of her hands and pulled her up so she was standing with them. The connection between the three of them burst to life and filled them along with the power.
Max and Zan’s essence rushed through Liz, sending her desire into overdrive, and she nearly climaxed before she was able to get herself under control.
All three of them immediately felt the increase in power, and it was stronger than it had ever been before. Questions flitted through their connected minds, wondering why this time was different, but they realized this time it was more than just the three of them. They could feel Isabel, Michael and Ava too.
Instantly Michael was healed and none of them felt tired at all any more.
They all got to their feet, Michael in the front, Isabel on one side and Ava on the other, and Max, Liz and Zan standing together a bit behind.
They questioned how they all could feel each other, and realized they were communicating through the connection.
“What’s happening?” Isabel asked.
Max, Liz and Zan answered at the same time. “You’re all part of our connection. We’ve completed the four square and we are stronger than we could ever be apart.”
“But there are more than four of us,” Ava pointed out.
Liz answered. “Max and Zan are bonded through me, so the three of us represent one corner of the square and you, Michael, Isabel and Ava are the others.”
“What about her?” Michael asked, looking at Tess.
Max shook his head, “She isn’t one of us. She never was.”
The power started to whirl around them like they were standing in the center of a tornado and Tess was pushed outside.
With wide eyes, she fell backward to the ground, not believing what was happening.
The power burst out around them freezing all of their enemies in place.
Michael nodded. “With all of this power, we can wipe out the Skins, Nicholas, and they’ll never bother us again.”
Liz watched as he started to raise his hand, glad it would finally be over, but she felt something through the connection, a presence, something entirely alien. It took her a moment to realize what it was, but as she felt Michael gathering power to fire, she simply said, “Wait.”
She pointed at a Skin standing three down from Nicholas, “That one,” she said. “He’s broadcasting this to Antar, to Khivar. I can feel it, feel them all watching us.”
A crazy, impossible plan started to form in her mind, and instantly what she was thinking filled them all.
Michael spoke up. “It could work,” he said triumphantly.
Isabel agreed. “I can help her,” she said.
Liz turned to look at Max and then Zan. They were worried about her, but they knew this was an opportunity that might never come again.
She smiled as she felt their reluctant agreement. “You’ll both be with me every step of the way so I’ll be perfectly safe.”
Together, Liz and Isabel reached out with their minds...
Never Underestimate Destiny|
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