“More organics?” the Crimson Figure asked, watching Jamal and Doc emerge from the drill made of ALAN’s extra parts. “Another like this one and one of the crude one’s from the above world. Why are they here?”
“They’ve come to save me,” I told him. “And they’ve come to kick your ass!”
It turned toward me. “‘Kick’…’ass’? What words are these?”
By this point the drill had completely transformed into a four-legged death machine, a dozen cannons mounted on swiveling arms. And as one, they all began firing on the rock creatures, vaporizing them with every blast. Jamal raced past the rock creatures, avoiding their fists, and dodging their exploding shards. His new body was much too quick for them, much faster than either of his previous two, though it did have its own drawbacks. “Co’ ohn, Rrrrank! Rret’s go!”
The Crimson Figure floated between us. It studied him as if it were a judge at a science fair and Jamal was one of the presentations. “What is this? Does this thing communicate as well? I see signs of alteration. You were created.” It turned to me. “Did you do this? How? I must know!”
I knew Jamal could not hear the Figure, he hadn’t had the implants installed, but when it turned away he took the opportunity to strike, biting down hard on the Figure’s arm. The Crimson Figure casually just shook Jamal off, unfazed, unharmed. Jamal’s new teeth were no match for the Figure’s metallic skin.
I took advantage of the distraction and began to run. Unfortunately, I was so slow and the Figure was so fast. It grabbed my arm before I had taken a second step. But I wasn’t defeated yet. I still had my gun, so I used to shoot the Figure in the face. Again. And again. The Figure stumbled, letting for of me to cover its own face.
Jamal and I made a break for it, but we were quickly cut off by rock monsters. Neither his teeth nor my gun would be any help for us now. Fortunately, we were not alone. ALAN flew in out of nowhere, grabbed us and, then flew us out of there. Doc was waiting for us when we landed and she quickly ushered us into what had once been the drill. ALAN touched it and the two halves of his merged into one.
ALAN then took off for the ceiling where none of the rock creatures could follow. ALAN provided us a monitor that we could watch what was going on. I could see the Crimson Figure watching us escape, but he made no effort to pursue. As soon as ALAN reached the top of the cavern, he converted back to a drill and began making his way through the rock.
“They’re not following us,” Doc said, surprised as I was by this fact.
“That doesn’t mean we’re safe,” I told her. “They’re inorganic lifeforms. We don’t know how they think. They just not be in as much hurry as we are. ALAN, when we reach the surface, I need you to get up into the atmosphere and perform a geological survey. We need to know where those creatures are, how far their tunnels extend, and we need to be far away from them.”
I then turned to Jamal who was standing apart looking upset. Or maybe it was just how raptor’s looked. “Jamal, are you ok?”
“I ok,” he growled, liplessly. “‘Ut the new ‘ody ith a thurrrithe.”
“I know, but we didn’t have a choice. We had to. You understand that right?”
“You’re not angry?”
He shook his head. “Not angrrry.”
“And you’re ok? You’re not in pain or anything?”
“No. No ‘ain.”
That was a relief. But I turned to the Doc for a second opinion. “He’s ok?”
“Yes,” she said. “I think he is.”
ALAN found a shallow cave that we decided should be safe from strange Crimson figure and his stony minions. At the very least, we were far enough away that we should have been able to tell if they were coming by observing seismic activity. If they were coming, they would need to dig a tunnel to get us. That was the theory anyway. Still, we had ALAN set-up a perimeter. We didn’t know what other surprises this prehistoric world had for us.
“You know,” I said, settling down with some food left over from our earlier scavaging, “that crimson creature, it kind of looked familiar. It kind of looked like that statue the Dinozens had in the middle of their village.”
“It did,” Jamal agreed. “Too ‘uch like it. D’ya think…?”
“That maybe the Figure is that statue? That the dinozens were more of its experiments? That maybe the Dinozens were inspired by you?” I shrugged. “Who knows? We must admit everything is possible until we know it’s not. At least, for the moment, we’re safe.”
“Not yet,” Doc said. “We still have one more problem. What are we going to do about your instability?”