The Beetle's Prey

            As he fell, through the gale, his senses went into an abnormal overdrive.

            Tais could see the water below, calm and reflective, as he fell. Tais could smell the water below, scentless and saltless, as he fell. Tais could hear the air rushing past him, screaming, as he fell.

            I warned you, Tais. her thoughts echoed with speed, You are to be hunted by many.

            It was an alley, between buildings. A canal. They veined the city in either direction. He saw the cruiser, which he would miss. He saw the water behind it, and could already foresee the splash.

            I warned you.

            Shards of glass had left cuts upon him.

            Then, something shimmered in the air between him and his reflection. Invisibility faltered, and a net appeared.

            Tais fell against rubber cables that caught him, and bounced him back up. As he rose, a shadow began to close in around him. Tais involuntarily spun onto his back, and then landed once more upon the rubber netting. This time, he grabbed it firmly and it quivered to stillness.

            He was feet above the water. Boats passed below, in two lanes, and some remained parked on either side of the canal. Each was like the other. White. Plain. Bland.

            Looking up, he saw the ship that had dropped, hovering like a giant insect. It, too, was white. It fluttered like a beetle, with doors on its abdomen open to take him in. The beetle was the only aircraft in the sky, and seemed to impose authority over the water-striders below.

            The glass cut the net, and he fell once more.

            It was a hard landing on the back-seat of a strident cruiser. It had parked itself in the empty space. Now, it turned back into its respective laneway.

            His bleedings left red marks upon the stark white cushions. He rolled to the floor in a tangle of rubber netting.

            Huna's crying silhouette turned from the navigation panel of the white boat. Her flesh gave a warm orange glow upon the silver and white panel. She eyed her new cargo, I broke ranks for you.

            And because no insincerity betrayed her thought, he trusted her. Thank you.

            That was when a piercing beam of laser struck the motor. It erupted into a minor explosion, and Tais fell once more to the floor.

            Huna abandoned the navpanel, and moved her hands about, shooting fire back at the beetle. Their ship splashed to a halt, and nearby cruisers pulled to the sides of the canal.

            Heat seared the air in both directions. Sweating, Tais blinked against the brilliance, between the gray buildings.

            I warned you, Tais.

            Light danced upon fire, as the fluttering beetle chased the water-strider. Lasers ravaged the cruiser, and flame melted away the beetle's hull.

            I warned you.

The End

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