Home > Last Defense (Lorien Legacies: The Lost Files #14)(9)

Last Defense (Lorien Legacies: The Lost Files #14)(9)
Pittacus Lore

“I won’t talk,” Briggs says.

“You think that matters?” I ask, raising two fingers to the side of my head where the Mogs used to attach electrodes. “They’ll rip everything you know out of your mind. They have technology you’ve never dreamed of. You’ll tell them every secret you know and only then will they start to really hurt you.”

Lujan grits his teeth. For a second I worry that I’ve actually doomed Briggs to an early death, and I mentally start readying arguments against putting the man down. Eventually, Lujan points a thick finger in my face.

“Don’t move. I’m going to scout ahead.” He glances at Briggs. “When I get back, be prepared to run.”

Then he’s gone. Briggs stares at the ground, seething. He looks angry, but I’m not sure if it’s at the Mogs, me or himself. Likely a combination of all three.

“You should just leave me behind,” he finally mutters.

“You pulled me out of the wreckage, right?” I ask.

“I was doing my job.”

“Well, now we’re even.”

He gets quiet and keeps his eyes on the grass. I take my satellite phone out and make sure I haven’t missed a call from Sam and that it’s still intact after the crash. Then I pat my pockets to see if I have anything else useful that I’ve forgotten about.

“Lose something?” Briggs asks.

“The Mogadorian blaster, in the crash. I’d stashed one in my bag.”

He shrugs and pulls a pistol from a holster on his back.

“Know how to use one of these?” he asks.

“I’m better with a sniper rifle, but I think I can manage.”

He lets out a single laugh and hands over the weapon. It’s got “Beretta” engraved across the side.

“It’s not an alien gun,” he says, “but it’ll get the job done.”

Briggs has some extra gauze in his pocket, and I talk him into letting me re-bandage his leg. He needs some kind of real medical attention, but right now I’m all he’s got.

I’m just finishing up when Lujan returns.

“We’re pretty clear up ahead,” he says. “I saw one Mog patrol booking it towards the crash site. They must have been called in to search for survivors. Hopefully the bastards aren’t very good at tracking.”

He notes the pistol in my hand.

“Don’t fire that thing unless you have to. Stealth is our greatest advantage right now.”

There’s a noise above. Gamera’s bouncing on one of the branches, chittering in strange rodent squeaks and looking back and forth between me and the rows of trees we’ve already walked through.

“Let’s get—,” Lujan starts.

But whatever he says after that is drowned out by the bellowing roar coming from the trees behind us.

CHAPTER SIX

SOME KIND OF ANIMAL MOVES OUT OF THE SHADOWS. No, more like a demon. Even in the relative darkness I can make out its grotesque face. There’s something bat-like about its features. Black eyes sit above what looks like a row of four or five quivering nostrils—perhaps the creature found us by scent? Its jaws open so wide that they look unhinged, showing off rows of jagged teeth that drip thick saliva onto the grass below. Its arms and legs are too long and muscular to be mistaken for an animal of Earth, each elbow or joint capped with a jagged horn. In the dim light I can’t tell if its slick-looking body is gray or a dark blue.

“What the fuck is that?” Lujan asks.

A Mogadorian monster, I think, remembering Sam and Adam and the others talking about such creatures. But I don’t have time to explain. The beast roars again and then charges on all fours, propelled by its oversize limbs. I raise my gun and pull the trigger. There’s only a click, no bullet.

“Take the goddamn safety off!” Briggs shouts as he opens fire. Lujan joins him, shooting a giant revolver that looks like it could take down an elephant.

The creature seems unfazed, or possibly just isn’t hit by any of the shots. Whatever the case, it bats me out of the way with one massive arm as it flies by, sending me rolling into the trunk of a nearby tree. Briggs manages to outmaneuver it, dodging its next swipe and hustling backwards. A barrage of bullets from his assault rifle shreds one of the creature’s legs. It hits the ground hard.

I hear someone barking a command behind me in a language that causes every muscle in my body to tense. There are a dozen Mogs—maybe more—darting towards us through the trees, trying to catch up to the beast. Several in front are already aiming our way.

“Mogs! Take cover!” I shout, scrambling to my feet.

Briggs ducks behind another tree near me as blaster fire sends smoking bits of bark falling all around us. I get the safety off my pistol, and we fire into the approaching squad. A few of the Mogs disintegrate. Behind me and several yards to my left, Lujan fires in a steady rhythm, Mogs turning to dust after every shot. His gun thunders like a cannon each time he pulls the trigger.

At some point the monster must have disappeared. I don’t see it anywhere. Or maybe it’s turned to dust, destroyed by Lujan.

“I’m out,” I say as my weapon starts clicking with an empty chamber. Briggs tosses me a clip, and I fumble to reload.

That’s when a roar sounds over my shoulder and I turn just in time to see the creature leap out of the trees, using its remaining muscular leg to send itself flying straight for me. I’m too slow and can’t get my handgun loaded and turned in time. The monster holds one of its elbows in the air, ready to plunge the spiked joint into me.

I whistle.

It’s a reflex—in my panic I’d forgotten all about my bodyguard, but some primal part of my consciousness must realize that whistling is the only thing that will save me now. Gamera descends in a split second, obviously having been waiting in the trees for his moment to strike, moving so fast that I wonder if he was already in the air when I whistled. He takes the form of a panther, intercepting the Mog beast in midair, gnashing sharp teeth around its one good leg.

“What the hell is going on?” Lujan shouts, aiming his gun at the animals fighting tooth and nail in front of him.

“Don’t! The cat’s with me!”

He looks at me in confusion. That’s when a blaster shot hits him in the stomach. He groans, clutching his gut as his knees hit the ground.

“Shit!” Briggs shouts. He starts forward, but there’s a tangle of beasts between us and Lujan, not to mention half a dozen Mogs still firing at anything that moves.

“Gamera!”

I don’t know how much the Chimærae understand anyone who’s not a Garde, but the panther looks my way, ripping off the monster’s good leg as he does so. I point towards where the blaster fire is coming from in the trees.

“Attack.”

He must understand some of that, because suddenly he’s a bird shooting overhead. Moments later I hear a roar, followed by the sound of a Mogadorian scream. It only lasts for a few seconds before going silent.

I take a few steps forward, sticking to the trees for cover. When I’m close to the Mog beast, it roars at me, struggling to get up using only its arms.

I raise my pistol and fire over and over again. Each bullet finds a home in the bastard’s head. Dark, viscous mucus spurts onto the trees and grass behind it. After a few seconds my pistol starts to click again.

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