2008.01.20 "GuuaAH! That hurts."

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"GuuaAH! That hurts."

I cover the human's mouth to stifle his sounds, and apply another patch of robotic fibres onto his bare flesh. The filaments wave inquisitively then dig purposefully. The human clutches at my arm, accidentally stabbing himself on my spines in the process, and falls unconscious with a groan. While the first two patches are still wriggling into the human, I pull out yet another one and apply it. It's much easier with the human unconscious.

I listen. They're still coming, methodically. We don't have much time. I slap two more patches onto the human, and get ready to heave him over my shoulder for another fleeing sprint. The problem is that we're too easy to track like that, and we're running out of cover.

The human's eyes re-focus and lock on mine. He snaps me a terse tightbeam, "What's our situation."

I respond, "The same. We're running."

The human takes a deep breath, testing out his robotic fibre-reinforced lung. "OK, I think I can move on my own now."

Either he's trying to be funny, or he's forgotten that his legs got blown off. It's hard to tell with humans. They sometimes snarl when they're in pain, when they're angry, and when they think something is funny.

I listen again. They're just about here, and my spines feel all tingly with fear. I cast a hard look at my human comrade, and he just nods at me. Zark; he's trying to let me escape without him as a burden.

Damn him.

Not wanting to waste his selflessness, I dig my talons into the ground and launch myself from cover as quickly and as quietly as I can. And when I'm on all fours, that's pretty quick and pretty quiet. I head towards the ditch beyond the field of wrecks we're amongst, which should give me suitable cover to outpace the hunters.

Zark, they're running. How did they know to do that? Yeah, they're here way too soon - I'm going to have to do a lot of dancing. The shock troopers are blazing away at me, making me focus on ducking, preventing me from going very fast. Which means their sniper is going to have a chance to line up a shot on me. This is not good.

How far away are they? Over a hundred meters - too far for my blaster to be of much use. So much for escaping.

The sniper is reeling! The shock troopers are suddenly shifting their aim, just as I make out the fact that the sniper has a filament through his throat. I snap my head to the side, and see my human comrade has wriggled out of cover with his filament rifle. That brave little bastard has me in the deepest karma debt I can remember - I might be able to make it out of this after all.

Aw zark. Zark zark zark. The shock troopers didn't just shoot him - he was obviously barely alive anyway - they kept on shooting him...

I don't know why I bother continuing to think about any of this, it doesn't matter any more. I'm screaming so loudly I hurt my own ears. Rage owns me. I should be making good my escape, but I'm not. I'm an idiotic massetin, and when I get too angry I just can't be bothered with logic.

Don't charge the hunters, race to the human. Resist, resist, resist. If I get to the human, I can pile some more patches on him, and lure the hunters in closer. Closer is better. Good, good. I only get shot a couple times getting to cover. I'm lucky it wasn't worse, considering how I wasn't ducking. Maybe they thought I was charging them, and weren't sure if I could get to them.

Whatever. I snatch up the human and tuck tight into cover. Then I trigger my med kit to cough out a patch to each hand and I apply both. Then two more. Then two more.

I'm not listening very carefully, but I can hear them readying themselves for a simultaneous lunge around our shred of wrecked fuselage. And I can't hold back any longer - and hurl myself at them.

They're waiting for it, and the one I'm nearest is ready to duck hard. I catch him anyway, and I slice off one of his arms as I draw out my force blade. I follow the motion through with a kick to his gut. "Zark you." It'll be six or seven meters before he touches the ground again. And I'm letting loose a screaming howl. Of course I'm howling. There's no way I could not be howling.

The two other ones that are closest are shooting at me with a reserve of caution - in case I don't die and pick them to attack next. Their two shots each all fail to keep up with me. The one that's furthest away feels safe enough to shoot at me aggressively, and he blasts me in the leg and the abdomen. It's not enough to stop me, and he's unable to react sufficiently when I pull out my NST blaster, concentrate on his left eye, and place a smoking blast into his brain. "Zark you."

I can smell their sudden fear. That's right, assholes, it's a different game at short range. More shots are exchanged, and I quickly close with one of them, only getting lightly singed in the process. This means that I can leisurely line up my NST on the other one while using my force blade to parry this asshole's attempts to shoot me. "Zark you."

I concentrate on the goon I'm with. His desperation helps him land a good rifle blast to my chest, but I then drive the force blade upward under his chin. "Zark you." I heave his twitching form into the air, impaled, and flick him aside.

My head tilts back and I scream with defiant rage. It's in that rage-honed moment of clarity that I detect the presence of yet another. I lock my squinty little eyes with their sensor-enhanced clarity on it, hundreds of meters away. I see it seeing me spot it, and it disappears. "Zark you too."

I return to my human comrade to find him conscious.

"You're an idiot."

I bleed on him in reply. "Don't die yet. I'll be right back." The words are panted out. I search the dead assholes for patches, and let the living one-armed asshole use his own patches on himself behind his own cover. Then I return again, and dump half the patches beside my human comrade.

"Did I mention that you're an idiot?"

"I seem to recall that it came up, yes." I wince hard as I press a patch into my big chest wound.

"What possible reason could you have for being that suicidal?"

I don't admit that it wasn't exactly voluntary.

"Aren't you supposed to be some sort of master of tactical assessment? That was a clear cut-your-losses situation."

I pant in pain as I apply another patch, and then stop his self-righteous monologue by putting another patch on one of his head wounds. This goes on for a few more patch applications.

"I think I'm about as stable as I'm going to be for now. Let's get out of here."

I grunt. "I think I know how they managed to ambush us like that - they had some sort of extraordinary scout spotting for them. I want to go get his scent."

"Can we go try to get some legs for me before we settle that particular vendetta? You make a shitty steed."

I find myself oddly taken aback, even though I was about to complain about how I hate having to carry him. "What? Why? I can heft you no problem, plus I can move fairly quickly and duck pretty well."

"Hello, massetin. Duh - you're covered in spines. They zarking hurt. And every time anything exciting happens they tend to stand up."

"Oh, right. Sorry."

"Also, you're bony."

"Now you're just being petty."