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datatime: 2022-11-30 20:01:37 Author:BDEuRhJL

Celeste gunned the engine just as the metal doors blew open with such force that one of them was ripped free of its hinges. She pressed herself back into the seat as she banged the gears into reverse and, with a squeal of tires, launched the truck out of the loading bay, swinging it round, a whoosh behind them which Celeste, rigid in her seat, refused to look at.

He slumped back, and the Messulethe, on one knee, stamped at his armpit, extending his arm out, twisting it. Nicholas felt the tendons being strained beyond tolerance, and his left hand scrabbled under his body. His fingers dosed around a broken chair leg and he smashed it into the side of the Messulethe's head just above his ear.

The Messulethe fell and, as his concentration shifted, the numbing force of his psyche lifted. Nicholas slammed the edge of his hand into the spot between and just above the Messulethe's eyes, a crucial point in the line of the major conception meridian. The Messulethe's eyes crossed, and Nicholas could feel the almost total withdrawal of his psyche as he hovered at the point of unconsciousness. Still, Nicholas felt the squirming of his enemy's powerful mind, trying to break through the temporary paralysis, and he knew he had only moments in which to act.

He slumped back, and the Messulethe, on one knee, stamped at his armpit, extending his arm out, twisting it. Nicholas felt the tendons being strained beyond tolerance, and his left hand scrabbled under his body. His fingers dosed around a broken chair leg and he smashed it into the side of the Messulethe's head just above his ear.

Watching him hot-wire the truck. Celeste felt her stomach rebelling. It was eerie seeing the face of the Mes-sulethe, knowing because she was linked with it that Nicholas's mind lay beneath it. Still, she had thought she would pass out the first time she saw his eyes staring at her from out of that face she had learned to fear above all others.

This time Nicholas had lowered himself far enough so that one knee was on the ground. Very fast now, he intercepted the blow with the callused edge of his left hand and, rising up, swept the Messulethe's extended arm out and away in an unnatural arc intended to break bones.

The Messulethe fell and, as his concentration shifted, the numbing force of his psyche lifted. Nicholas slammed the edge of his hand into the spot between and just above the Messulethe's eyes, a crucial point in the line of the major conception meridian. The Messulethe's eyes crossed, and Nicholas could feel the almost total withdrawal of his psyche as he hovered at the point of unconsciousness. Still, Nicholas felt the squirming of his enemy's powerful mind, trying to break through the temporary paralysis, and he knew he had only moments in which to act.

But the blow never landed. The heel of his hand stopped perhaps a centimeter from its objective, hanging in the air. Then the muscles of his wrist and forearm began to spasm as if he had plunged them into a bed of live coals.

The engine barked to life and Nicholas slumped back in the seat, near exhaustion.

A fusillade of needles scourged his mind as the Messulethe, recovering with appalling rapidity, lashed out with his psyche, trying to keep Nicholas from leaving the cage. Nicholas stumbled, fell to one knee, almost in Celeste's Up. She wrapped her arm around his waist, and together they loped awkwardly away from the cage. Celeste looked back, terrified, but the Messulethe was still lying on the ground. Had Nicholas killed him? She hurried them on.

Crack like a bolt of thunder and she whimpered, the percussion shaking the floor, and then Nicholas was dragging her to her feet and, as she was pulled past a section of wall, she stared wide-eyed at the ovoid indentation in it, as if it had been struck by a gigantic fist.

Once, Nicholas fell heavily, bringing them both down, and Celeste cried out, blood on her palms as she skidded, feeling the creeping along her nerves of not only what had been done to him, but what was coming after them, the heat through the vivid electric discharges, billowing along the reinforced concrete floor, a low mist with form and substance, the lethal rhythms of the Messulethe reaching out for them.

This time Nicholas had lowered himself far enough so that one knee was on the ground. Very fast now, he intercepted the blow with the callused edge of his left hand and, rising up, swept the Messulethe's extended arm out and away in an unnatural arc intended to break bones.

The Messulethe fell and, as his concentration shifted, the numbing force of his psyche lifted. Nicholas slammed the edge of his hand into the spot between and just above the Messulethe's eyes, a crucial point in the line of the major conception meridian. The Messulethe's eyes crossed, and Nicholas could feel the almost total withdrawal of his psyche as he hovered at the point of unconsciousness. Still, Nicholas felt the squirming of his enemy's powerful mind, trying to break through the temporary paralysis, and he knew he had only moments in which to act.

But, with a.heavy grunt, she hauled him to his feet, propelled him on, and kept him at it, with that thing so near her mind she could feel it singe her like a bright leap of flame. The terror running through her, but she kept him at it, out across the ferro-concrete beehive of the robotics factory with its spinning blue lightning arcs, its scents of hot metal and fused plastics, the presence in her mind growing stronger, seeking to fill her limbs with lead, as they stumbled past lines of stainless-steel heads being fitted onto blocky inhuman shoulders. Infra-red-lensed eyes stared unblinking as the running shadows struck them and were gone. Kept him going in this cold crucible where machines created more machines, where the miracle of creation in a manner inconceivable even decades ago was occurring every minute of the day and night.

"Get behind the wheel!" He slid over, displacing her, and she settled herself, her feet feeling for the pedals.

Once, Nicholas fell heavily, bringing them both down, and Celeste cried out, blood on her palms as she skidded, feeling the creeping along her nerves of not only what had been done to him, but what was coming after them, the heat through the vivid electric discharges, billowing along the reinforced concrete floor, a low mist with form and substance, the lethal rhythms of the Messulethe reaching out for them.

Down! The voice in her head confused her. Get down!

The Messulethe staggered, his grip on Nicholas broken, and Nicholas was up, kicking him a glancing blow. He fell on him, knowing he had only moments in which to kill him before his superior psyche reasserted itself. He used the heel of his hand, in an atemi meant to splinter the nose cartilage, send it directly into the brain. It was invariably a lethal blow, and the mind had to be absolutely centered, the organism in mortal danger, the resolve wholly unimpaired, because once committed there was no turning back; death was the only possible result.

But, with a.heavy grunt, she hauled him to his feet, propelled him on, and kept him at it, with that thing so near her mind she could feel it singe her like a bright leap of flame. The terror running through her, but she kept him at it, out across the ferro-concrete beehive of the robotics factory with its spinning blue lightning arcs, its scents of hot metal and fused plastics, the presence in her mind growing stronger, seeking to fill her limbs with lead, as they stumbled past lines of stainless-steel heads being fitted onto blocky inhuman shoulders. Infra-red-lensed eyes stared unblinking as the running shadows struck them and were gone. Kept him going in this cold crucible where machines created more machines, where the miracle of creation in a manner inconceivable even decades ago was occurring every minute of the day and night.

Nicholas, in the right-angle horse position, directed a snap-kick to the Messulethe's groin. Both blows struck almost simultaneously, and both men went down. But Nicholas rolled and, angling his knuckles down, struck the Messulethe, delivered a short twan ch'uan to the Messu-lethe's forehead.

"Get behind the wheel!" He slid over, displacing her, and she settled herself, her feet feeling for the pedals.

Nicholas, in the right-angle horse position, directed a snap-kick to the Messulethe's groin. Both blows struck almost simultaneously, and both men went down. But Nicholas rolled and, angling his knuckles down, struck the Messulethe, delivered a short twan ch'uan to the Messu-lethe's forehead.

They found themselves in a wide service entrance, and they ran as best they could up the long ramp, through another set of metal doors, onto a loading platform, deserted save for a heavy-duty truck.

The engine barked to life and Nicholas slumped back in the seat, near exhaustion.

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