Canto Twenty-Three – On the Terrible Surface Amidst the Ruined Palaces
The tadpoles had been totally on edge for half an Earther hour by the time they reached the bio-dome that Sizzahl had guided them towards. Only Tanith and Davalon had been trusted enough to carry skortch rays, and Tanith had nearly disintegrated the grav-cart by which they were moving the precious plants merely because she heard a loud, un-explained sound from the near distance.
But the door to the bio-dome was in sight. It appeared that they were going to make it without seeing, hearing, smelling, or even suspecting the presence of those nasty, horrible scabbies that Sizzahl had warned them about.
“What is that sound that sounds like claws clicking on concrete?” said Brekka through her helmet. “It sounds real close!”
Tanith whirled around and skortched a stone gargoyle drain-spout.
“Not there!” cried George Jetson, “It is behind us and coming fast!”
The dinosaur-like creature the scabby was riding disappeared in a fog of disintegrating atoms as Tanith whirled and fired. The scabby landed on Tanith and drove her down into the rubble at their feet. Davalon immediately launched himself onto the crazed lizard-man’s back, grabbed him around the throat and rolled him headfirst to the ground. As it was momentarily stunned, Davalon lifted Tanith and carried her towards the rest of the group.
“Look out!” cried Brekka. “There’s another one!”
The second was not a lizard-man, scabby or otherwise. It was some kind of mechanical man made of corroded and discolored metal. It had blades instead of hands, and it leaped on the prostrate lizard man, cutting, filleting, and murdering the scabby.
“It’s rescuing us!” cried Menolly in surprise.
“It’s going to kill you as soon as it is done with that scabby!” said Sizzahl from the shadowy doorway. “Come inside as quickly as you can and strip off every stitch of your clothes!”
Davalon was surprised, but never-the-less took action. He pushed Tanith to lead the way to the voice in the shadows. Then he forced Brekka, Menolly, and George into the shadows after her.
“Please, Dav, come with us,” said Gracie Morrell pulling on Davalon’s sleeve. Alden took hold of the other sleeve.
“Mother, I need to make sure that thing doesn’t catch up to you.”
“You may not sacrifice yourself to save us,” said Grace. “You may not!”
“You do not have permission,” said Alden.
“If you don’t come with us now,” said Gracie, “then we all stay and die together.”
“Um, Gracie…” said Alden nervously.
Davalon looked at the monster as its metal claws finished ripping the heart out of the lizard man’s lifeless corpse. Its metal visual sensors focused on the three of them. “Okay… let’s go fast!”