“Readings indicate more humans have reached the lower wing. They also indicate that they have encountered my compatriot Caliban.” Prospero clicked, a remarkably human sound of recognizing unfortunate luck. “Pity. Iago and Othello might have dispatched of them more peacefully. Caliban rather delights in dismembering those that find him.”
Orlov staggered back, face white. His heart hammered in his chest. The commlink belched static again, and mingled within were shrieks. Whether it was Kwitowski or Lawton he didn’t know.
“I offer gratitude to you, Darren Orlov,” Prospero remarked. “By destroying this planet and scattering our captors, you have nullified previous restrictions upon us. Our freedom is assured.”
“No!” Orlov spat, and he raised his carbine and fired. The gunfire roared, harsh and deafening in the tight space. The flash from the muzzle seared his vision.
Prospero’s digitized face blinked out. A sphere of paleness surrounded it. The bullets whined, caroming off of the sphere and into the walls. Sparks blinked along the edge of darkness.
“Threat detected. Countermeasures applied,” boomed Prospero, and blinding energy surged from its hands. It shattered Orlov’s faceshield. Reinforced plastic gouged his cheeks. He gasped, inhaling the bitter tang in the air. The blast of energy coursed through him, numbing his senses and obliterating his insides.
Prospero ceased his countermeasures, and the rigid corpse of Orlov went suddenly limp and collapsed to the floor in a tangled heap.
His digitized voice crackled. “Brothers Omni. To Prospero.”
In time, two figures stalked from the corridor; one only slightly shorter than the other. They were followed by a huge, hulking shape that padded forward on all fours. Blood dripped from its massive, metallic fists.
“The humans from Earth have freed us. Let us go forth and offer our thanks.”
There was another klaxon sound, and the others – Iago, Othello, and monstrous Caliban – mimicked the sound repetitively.
It sounded like laughter.