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***Warning. The following story contains erotic elements, explicit language and violence. Read at your own risk.***
Tesza shifted the weight of the pack and stopped, turning to look over her shoulder. Every step she took, was another section in the burial cubes of the Kori. She thought about the children, sweet, innocent, no hostility in their eyes.
Jarod came up alongside, grabbing her arm and steadying her as she picked her way up a clay slope.
“Soon,” he said.
“Soon what?” Tesza slipped and Jarod caught her.
“Soon all we’ve suffered will be over.”
Tesza yanked free and grabbed a vine, using it to pull herself up the bank. “What of the children that suffer now?”
“You care too much for these killers, Tesza.”
“Who grow up to be killers.”
“Where’s your compassion Jarod?”
“It died with my people.”
Tesza glanced over her shoulder. “I don’t believe that. Let me go back to save them. I will return to you.”
“What do you think to return to, Tesza. Running? Dying? Living like animals and scavenging everything on a world that should and always has been ours?”
“I will return to you.”
“You thought you gave him the cure. You can’t be trusted.” Jarod snorted and came up behind her. “I’m not letting you go again. I’d rather die first. You’ve claimed me. I’m your husband now. You can’t leave.”
“Then come with me.”
“To save those beasts?”
“They’re not all beasts, some are children, women.”
Jarod pulled her back against him and whispered in her ear. “Forget him, Tesza. You belong to me. You’ve always belonged to me.”
“Something, I’m beginning to regret.” She pulled free and followed the group who worked their way in a zigzag fashion to the top.
“They’re closer than we thought.” A warrior handed a scope to Jared who peered into it and adjusted the range.
“How did they catch us so fast?” The army sat at the bottom of the slope, slowly picking their way to the top. Jarod wasn’t worried. They had to abandon vehicles to get up this slope. He’d reduced them to their most primitive, balancing the battlefield and he held the high ground.
He’d let them get half way up and spring the trap. “Prepare the mudslide. We’ll bury them.”
He swept the slope and stopped when the scope rested on the dark-haired Kori leader, Ursus. “Stubborn, bastard.”
The Kori captain worked his way up the slope, digging the spikes on his boots into the slippery surface in a chopping fashion with each step. He stopped and glanced straight at Jarod as if he could see him.
“She’s mine,” Jarod growled.
Ursus gave him a salute and smiled.
Jarod pulled back from the scope. How could he know? He glanced back into the lens and found the Kori leader redoubling his effort to get to the top.
“Move. Get to the top.”
Jarod spun around. As soon as they were at the top, he’d trigger the trap and all his problems would be over.
Tesza stopped and glanced over her shoulder at him. She studied his face then shifted her gaze further down the slope to the approaching troops. She returned to look Jarod in the eyes.
“You can’t stop him, Jarod.”
“I don’t intend to stop him, I intend to let him come, and then I’m going to kill him.”
Tesza’s eyes darted back down the slope, sadness flashed through them. “I love my people. Please understand I don’t do this to hurt any of you. I never wanted to hurt you.”
What was she talking about? Jarod fixed her with a hard stare. “Get up the slope, woman. You’re holding up progress.”
Tesza jumped. She twisted, landing on her ass. As she hit the slope, the surface gave way under her and the clay shoot formed from runoff, rocketed her towards the bottom like a missile.
Jarod tried to snag her as she raced by and stumbled, almost losing his footing.
She lay back, crossed her ankles and folded her arms across her chest and went with it, picking up velocity.
Jarod screamed up to the troops above. “Stop her. Bring her back alive.” He knew if he triggered the mudslide she’d die, but if he didn’t the enemy would have the cure and his people would continue to be slaughtered. Gods, Tesza. What have you done? He couldn’t bury her under the mud anymore than he could let that man have her.
Three warriors leapt and followed her slide, spears held before them like lances. “Get the rest to the top and continue,” Jarod yelled to his people above and took a deep breath, closing his eyes, he jumped, following. So be it, right into the enemies open jaws. If he died it wouldn’t be without honor.
Both thrilling and terrifying Tesza watched the world slip by so fast she could barely tell where she was going. She knew if she could only get to Ursus, they’d live. That was if the descent didn’t kill her first.
Yelling below, yelling above, bolts of blue light as the soldiers below fired on her pursuers. All, blurred together until she wasn’t sure where one started and the other began.
Her feet hit it first, the bush caught her, bringing her downhill flight to a sudden stop. Tesza wiped the mud covering her face away and stared up at multiple faces and weapons, all pointed at her.
“Don’t fire!” A man made his way over to her. “She’s the only thing that will keep us alive.” The soldiers pulled their weapons back and a man made his way to the front of the group.
Ursus! Tesza’s heart pounded in pain and happiness. Happy to see him again, knowing that he would now live, but sad that she left a piece of her heart behind on the slope. Tesza sat up and reached for Ursus’s extended hand, but as she glanced in his eyes, she fractured to pieces.
Hate glared down at her.
“I’m sorry, Ursus. I thought it was the cure.”
It hit with the force of a charging garver. First the tip of the spear as it pierced her side, scraping her rib, the long shaft continued through, shooting out the other side, spraying her blood over the clay slope and Ursus’s face. Jarod’s boots hit next, sending her through the branches, snapping a limb that tore the flesh on her thigh. More blood spewed across the slope. She rolled fifty feet and hit a rock in an impact that shattered the ribs across the injured side of her body, bringing her to a dead stop.
“No.” Jarod roared. “Not her.” He raised his hands.
Tesza could barely draw a breath, and each small gasp brought blood bubbling to her lips. She lay facing Ursus, blinking, forcing a muddy haze from her eyes, watching, gasping for all the precious air she couldn’t draw in. Her heart began to slow its beat. Thud, thud, thud… Thud…
Two more warriors slid past, but nobody paid them any attention. All eyes were locked on her. Jared’s were filled with sadness. “I didn’t mean to do it, Tesza. Forgive me.”
Ursus glanced at Tesza, who mouthed the word ‘no’. Would he stop? Please, don’t kill him.
Ursus pointed his lazr’ and it began the high-pitched whine. The world around her faded to black.