King looked at the surrounding foliage with caution and tightened his grip on the pistol. The generator inside heated up and he slid it slowly out of the holster. Looking quickly from the woods to the SSSBs, he moved closer and crouched down before them. He stowed the locator onto his left hip and reached for the crickets but stopped short. When he noticed their antenna were entangled He pulled his hand back to his hip and re-acquired the locator.
“108106?” King began. “Show me your passengers.” One look down at the locator sent the hair on his neck prickling into the suites collar. The image was zoomed out. 399 SSSBs were in an odd place. They were just out of visual range for King. The locator showed him the halo they had formed. They were all airborne, in a gently fluttering holding pattern.
“Zoom back in.” There was 111s’ little blip all alone on the screen. With all 400 SSSBs of 108106 accounted for, King began to take a wild guess as to where cricket 401 had come from. The locator went to his hip as the pistol came forward. His eyes danced back and forth from the crickets to the foliage as he leaned in closer.
On one knee in the gold, hand halfway there, pistol pre-charged for a shot, one of the crickets screamed at him.
Blue light became his universe. It engulfed him rapidly and then slowed down as if time itself were dragging towards a halt. He felt his grip on the weapon slacken, and his grip on reality seemed to follow. His helmet went black with spider-webs of blue criss-crossing in front of his eyes. The world came back to light but it was rolling leftwards. He splashed down in the sand on his right side. Small grains of gold were sifting thru minute cracks in the poly-carbonite bubble. The last thing he saw was the light of the charge indicator on the rear sight of the pistol slowly fading away. It all smelled funny.
“Is he in pain?” 111 was asking.
“No. He is currently not functioning.” She thought for a moment. “The threat is neutralized.”
The two of them resumed their trek for the water, talking along the way.
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