The first thing I noted when the light diminished were the explosions. They were happening all around us with such force that we were all knocked off our feet. Even Tilly hadn’t had enough time to phase herself. “What is going on!?” Jamal yelled. “Where are we?”
“I have no idea,” Lu Wu admitted, picking himself back up.
I could see in the sky that there were spaceships of various makes blowing each other apart. “Well, we seem to be in the future.”
Tilly looked at her wrist. “4329. The planet Hurg. That’s strange there’s not supposed to be a war here. Certainly not one on this scale.”
“Then this is because of Freyja,” Jamal said, as he got to his feet.
“And Kink,” I added. “And that damn horn.”
A large building behind us exploded. “Maybe we should find some kind of cover?” Jamal suggested.
“No,” his daughter replied. “We don’t have the time for that. Who knows how far behind them we already are? We need to find them and stop them as soon as we can!”
“All right,” Jamal said. “How are we going to find out where they are?”
“Lu Wu can do that right? You can find where they are, can’t you?”
“I should be able to locate them with my spell.”
“I think it’ll be easier than that,” I said. “Just look for the center of destruction.”
“Yes,” Lu agreed, “but I think my way is safer. We won’t have to go through the destruction to find its center.”
“All right. You’re the expert. Take us there.”
Lu began to chant and in a flash we were somewhere else. We were suddenly in a desert. Everywhere we looked was just sand. Nothing else. There were no buildings. No ships. No explosions.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked. “Where did everyone go? Where are we?”
“We’re following the trail,” Lu said, as he took everything in.
“But where are they?”
But before anyone could answer, the ground began to shake. “Do you think there’s any chance that that is just a normal, run-of-the-mill earthquake?” Jamal asked.
“Maybe we should move,” Tilly suggested.
We all agreed that sounded like a good idea, so we started to run. Unfortunately, we didn’t move fast enough because we immediately began to rise or more accurately something beneath us began to rise and took us upwards with it.
Tilly grabbed her father and went downward, phasing through the sand. Lu grabbed me and we went upwards floating into the sky. Just as we flew clear, metal jaws slammed shut. I could see now that it had been a giant robotic snake that had come up beneath us. My favorite kind.
But just because the snake missed its first attack didn’t mean that it was done with us. It reared up and prepared for its next strike. Tilly shot at it from below with her arm laser. That got its attention. The snake turned turned toward her and with a quick strike, it swallowed her whole.
“Oh, no!” Lu exclaimed. I, however, took it in stride. Lu didn’t know Tilly as well as I did. While he was gasping, I was busy trying to decide if she was going to blow it up from the inside or go for the slightly more difficult task of taking control of it. She decided for the former, jumping out of the back of its skull as its head exploded. How very Tilly of her.
“Why do you keep doing that?” Jamal snapped at her. “You know you get me worried every time you do it!”
“Oh, come on, Dad! You know I’m fine.”
“You got eaten by a robot snake. How can I know that for sure?”
“Because no Sampson is going to get taken out by a stupid robot snake.”
“No,” I said, as more robotic heads popped out of the sand. “You’re going to get taken out by a dozen stupid robotic snakes.”
“A dozen?” Tilly asked as she noticed we were now surrounded. “Piece of cake.”
“Speak for yourself,” Jamal said.
But the snakes surprisingly didn’t attack us. Instead, the belly of one of the robots opened up and Kink stepped out. She had changed her look again. Her design looked sleeker with many circuit-like glowing veins. “Frank? What took you so long?”
“Kink?” I replied. I wasn’t particularly put off by the new look. She was always changing her appearance. Even glowing body parts wasn’t new. But I’d never seen her with a horn on her head before. I began to worry about how long it had been since the last time we had seen her. Clearly long enough for her to bond with the horn. “What are you doing?”
She gestured at her army of robotic snakes. “What does it look like?”
“I don’t know, but it needs to end. You need to give me that horn.”
“No!” Tilly added immediately. “You need to destroy it!”
“Yeah…” Kink said. “I don’t think I’m going to do either of those things.”
“NO,” said a booming voice from above. “YOU’RE GOING TO GIVE IT TO ME!”
We looked up as a big shadow fell upon us. A giant ship descended into the atmosphere over us.
to be continued…