Less Than Human, 12

Reid heard the shouts of men, and they burst through the high grass, not far from where Magnus had ambushed him. He saw their weapons, dull and murderous in the dusty air, and he heard the first cracks of gunfire. Tiberius’s head jerked backward violently as two shots struck him, sending up a dark spray of blue. His amber eyes went from sad to glassy in the instant he struck the ground.

Helena screamed, and Reid threw her down, feeling the echoes of the gunshots course through him like a second heartbeat. He held his hands up, bellowing for mercy. One of the soldiers was upon him, yanking him back with savage force, but Reid fought him, kicking hard and catching him in the knee. The soldier cursed, staggering back, raising his rifle.

Something snatched him, tossing him onto his back and sending an errant spray of gunfire into the air. Reid looked down into Helena’s intense eyes, and she pulled him close to her and stayed low.

We must get to the car. Her mental voice was a growl, scraping at the sides of his mind. We must. I might hold them, but you will need to help me.

And he did as told, and pulled her up, moving forward with stumbling desperation. He felt the power surge through her as she shoved soldiers aside. They pressed in on them, but they were shoved back with screams of rage, frustration, and dismay. “Keep going,” Reid grunted, mainly to himself. “Keep going.”

Helena screamed in agony, and Reid felt a splash of something on his neck. They’d shot her, bullet passing through her shoulder. Where I got shot, he thought furiously, and he whirled, trying to block her from further gunfire. Shots popped in all directions.

Sharp pain crippled him, striking him in the knee, and he tumbled, but didn’t fall. The car. Helena shrieked, spasming against him as another shot took her. Get to the car.A bullet struck him in his exposed shoulder, and he lost his grasp of her. He cried her name and fell over top of her, shielding her and desperate.

Silence. There was a low, tinny ring to the air, and Reid realized that this was the place where the echoes of madness lived, and hot tears tumbled down upon Helena. She was shaking with each breath, her body ravaged and bleeding. Her amber eyes lost and regained focus, and her mental voice to him was in her native tongue, with words he would never learn.

“I love you,” he said thickly.

“Get off of her. We’ll kill you if we have to, retard. But the glowhead’s gonna die.” There was laughter following this declaration, and it echoed dully.

“Her name is Helena,” Reid mumbled, looking down upon her. “She…she kissed me. I love her.”

“I don’t care if you think she’s the Queen of England. Get off of her. Now!”

“I won’t.” He looked down at Helena, and her eyes found him, and a weak smile crossed her features. He smiled down at her, stroking her hair. “I love you.”

She opened her mouth. No sound came from it, but in his mind, he heard her words.

And I love you.

The soldiers screamed, and more gunfire erupted, destroying the silence and returning the madness.

The End

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