Tatter: Chapter 33

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Eric Grazen felt the intruder’s presence before he saw him.

“Raise your arms. Slowly.”

“Are you KSRU?” Grazen inquired trepidatiously, straightening before the diagnostic pod in which the specimen lay, watching with wide, dichromatic eyes.

“Doesn’t matter who I am,” the intruder responded flatly.

Grazen felt the cold, forceful sting of metal upon his neck, followed by a faint galvanic sibilation. The old man stiffened. Hairs standing on end.

“The guards… did you… kill them?”

“Put your arms up and move away from the calyx.”

“I take it you want the specimen. You can have her. I’m not with them. I just needed a sample.”

Grazen raised his arms, slowly, palms angled toward the ceiling, and moved away from the medical pod as commanded.

“Not with who?”

“Aestival.”

“I thought as much.” The man mumbled, seemingly to himself.

Grazen looked cautiously over his shoulder.

The man opened the medical pod with his left hand, his right holding a waverender, it aimed stolidly at Grazen’s head. The creature in the pod smiled faintly. It was the first time Grazen had seen it express strong emotion besides stress. Then its eyes widened, its mouth parting with haste.

“Ryard – look out!” It shouted.

The next instant, Moreno, bruised and battered, fell upon the intruder, driving a length of ancient bone into his side. The man screamed in pain and spun with such speed that the woman was thrown to the floor.

Grazen grabbed the small container which held eight phials of the specimen’s blood from off the table to his left and moved swiftly around the diagnostic pod as the now profusely bleeding intruder pulled the bone fragment from his side with a wretched howl and faced off against Moreno. As the combatants bodies clashed, Grazen tucked the cryogenic case under his arm and slipped out the door. He fled fast as his legs would carry him down the rightward hall as the sound of crashing equipment erupted from the lab, perspiration smattering his crinkled brow beneath the hot, harsh lights which flickered spastically. When the lights resumed, a pale woman stood the hall. Her left eye was black and blue and blood dripped from her mouth.

She held a charged waverender in her battered hands and raised it toward the old man, then wordlessly, coldly, fired.

Her imperious, disgusted face was the last thing Grazen saw, as his blood boiled and his eyes steamed out of his sockets.

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