Nick moaned slightly at the throbbing ache in his face and he could feel the blood trickling from his nose in an untidy stream down his cheeks. He wiped away the blood and stared at Brian in disbelief. He could have sworn that the fear in his eyes had been real and the desperation and plea for help had been genuine… or he had thought so.
“B – Brian?” he stammered, his sight blurred from the blow and his head still spinning slightly. “You’re an Ersnai?”
The Ersnai Brian sneered at him in disgust. “Who were you expecting? The white bunny rabbit?” His hands had clasped together and a ball of energy formed within his fingers before he hurled the deadly energy ball at Nick. Quickly Nick dived out of the way, ignoring the metallic taste in his mouth as the blood reached his plush lips.
“Where is my cousin?” Kevin demanded, his fists balled in full fury.
Nick staggered to his feet and did his best to appear menacing. The Ersnai Brian was completely outnumbered. It would have to tell them where to find their lost brother and friend Zanell. Nick needed them back.
Brian did not answer verbally and instead flung another energy basketball at Kevin and the others who only just managed to dodge the deadly attack.
“Ouch!” Howie cried, as his AJ fell on top of him. “Guys we have to do something!”
Nick withdrew his sword, but his fighting arm was now feeling immensely weary and sore. The amulet could only give him so much strength and now it seemed as if it were fast running out.
“Aw, is poor too frightened to fight?” Brian teased.
“You wish!” Nick replied, gripping his sword with a new, fierce determination.
Brian’s eyes narrowed at the threatening tone of Nick’s voice and then he leapt into the air and threw an energy ball at him. Nick stood his ground and ignored the urgent cries of his friends for him to move. He held his sword firmly and watched as the ball whizzed closer to him. He could almost feel the heat from the pure energy before he swung his sword hard and whacked the ball back at Brian.
Brain’s eyes widened slightly and he attempted to quickly dodge the shot, but Nick had hit it too hard and too fast. The Ersnai screamed in pain as the energy connected with its body and there was a huge explosion of orange light before a terrible squelching noise filled the room.
Nick felt something sticky and wet smack into his face, but he was too blinded by the light to see what it was. He heard the others cry out in disgust and then another slimy blob hit Nick’s face.
Eventually the light cleared and Nick blinked several times as coloured dots swirled about his vision from the bright light before. He reached up to rub his eyes and found that a thick, glutinous and wet substance had covered him. He wiped his hand across his face and then stared down at his hand to see that it was coated with green slime. Green slime that was the remains of the Ersnai Brian.
“UGH! Yuck!” Nick exclaimed, quickly wiping the rest of the remains away from his face and then wiping his hand upon his cloak.
“Crap! Look at my coat!” AJ moaned staring down at his brown coat which was now covered with green, snot coloured slime. “Looks like the yeti sneezed on me!”
“Your coat? Look at me hair!!” Howie said, vainly trying to clear the sickening gunk from his black hair. “This is going to take year to come clean!”
Nick stared about the room and saw that every wall was splattered with the Ersnai’s remains. He grimaced as a few, thick drops slid down to the floor. The energy ball had completely obliterated it, despite the protective powers the amulet gave to a person. The Ersnai must be sensitive to pure energy.
‘Wait… speaking of the amulet…’
They couldn’t afford to lose even one! They needed them, to hold off Zator from invading Earth!
“Guys, where’s the last amulet gone?” Nick asked urgently, praying that it had not been destroyed by the blast. Surely they were capable of taking more than an explosion?
“I don’t know,” Kevin said, catching onto the importance of the situation. He wiped his face free from green sludge and then quickly began to stare about him and scrutinising piles of green slime.
The others took to the same search, each of them trying to hold back their nausea as they plunged their hands into small piles of the Ersnai remains to locate the precious amulets.
“Wait, the remains are disappearing like the others did,” Kevin said. “We can wait until it’s all gone and then find it!”
Nick nodded, but his eyes still darted about the room, praying for a glimpse of the strange alien alloy and the blood red jewel with the incredible powers.
Anxiously he watched as the green slime seemed to shrink and dissolve into nothingness, but still there was no sign of the magical amulet.
“It must have been destroyed!” Nick cried in anguish. They had done a fine job at protecting the amulets for Zanell…
Zanell, he still had to find her… and Brian as well. He wanted his best friend back who he could chat and laugh with about anything in world. And he wanted Zanell back in his arms so that they could finally be together…
“Wait! I see it!” AJ cried.
He dashed across the room and Nick caught a flash of gold for a second as the amulet seemed to wink at them to draw them to its presence. AJ happily scooped the last gem into his hands and smiled in victory.
“Bingo!” he said, twiddling it about his fingers. “Not even a scratch upon it. These babies were made to last!”
“Good, now we just have to find Zanell and Brian,” Nick said taking the amulet from AJ and placing it with Zanell’s about his neck.
“But we have no idea where they are. This place is huge!” Kevin replied.
“Yeah, for all we know Zator could have bundled them onto a spaceship and taken them to his own ship in orbit!” Howie said. “They might never even have been here in the first place!”
“Don’t talk like that!” Nick hissed. He did not want to think that Zanell and Brian were both gone and beyond his reach. “They must be here!”
“Nick, don’t worry we’ll find them!” AJ reassured him. “We just need to keep calm.”
“Hey, what about through that door?” Howie suggested, pointing to a door behind them almost camouflaged in the silver walls.
“I didn’t see that before!” Kevin said, creeping closer and inspecting the door with a suspicious eye. “Are we sure it’s safe? It could be a trap.”
“Only one way to find out,” Nick muttered. “We don’t have time to be nervous, we have to rescue them both as soon as possible!” He boldly strode forw
ard, his sword already ready to fight again.
AJ and the others nodded and Kevin flexed his muscles for a moment before limping forward on his bad ankle towards the door. AJ tightened his fingers upon his gun triggers in preparation for an ambush.
“Let’s be careful guys,” Howie whispered.
Nick froze for a second and took a deep breath to settle his trembling body. He was tired. His limbs ached terribly after all of the attacks he had suffered from the Ersnai. He knew that the others were feeling the same and a huge bruise covered AJ’s face while several cuts dotted Howie’s cheeks.
All of them were feeling the strain and none of them would be happy until they were reunited with their friend and brother Brian. And then of course there was Zanell, the one girl that Nick truly wanted and loved.
Nick pressed his palm against the panel to the right of the door and it glowed green before the door rose to allow them to pass. Nick gulped slightly as he stepped forward into the new room, tensing slightly as he saw that only half of it was lit with a dull yellow glow.
He nervously crept forward, hearing the others close behind him. This new room was massive and the ceiling towered high above them. As Nick continued to stare about him, he gasped as he saw a bundle lying in the centre, directly beneath the source of the yellow light.
Brian was lying in the centre of the room, his arms and legs securely tied just like The Ersnai’s had been, only his eyes were closed.
Nick anxiously crossed over to him and quickly tore the ropes away from his body to free him. Gently he pressed a hand against Brian’s neck, his fingers searching for a pulse.
“Brian?” he asked.
“Brian!” Kevin cried, rapidly joining Nick’s side as the others crowded around them.
Brian murmured something faint and stirred slightly before his eyes flickered open. He turned his face towards Nick and smiled.
“Hey Nick,” he whispered.
“Are you all right?” Nick and Kevin asked simultaneously.
Brian nodded. “Yeah, I think so.” His eyes travelled about the darkened room and he sat up to take a better look. “Where’s Zanell?” he asked.
“She was here with you?” Nick said, excitement leaking into his voice.
“Yes, but so was Zator…”
“Zator?” AJ asked. “That bastard is here?”
“Yes, he is,” a deep voice suddenly hissed.
The lights of the room brightened as the boys turned around at the sudden intrusion. Standing at the other side of the room was Zator. Nick’s eyes narrowed and then he spotted Zanell by his side. Her hands were handcuffed together with green ropes and another cord of rope was held by Zator and connected to the centre of Zanell’s bonds. She couldn’t get away from her malevolent father.
“Hello boys,” Zator said, smiling sardonically. His eyes slid across to Nick. “Hello Nick.” His voice was dripping with malevolent venom.
“Your plan didn’t work Zator,” Nick replied. “I realised that those monsters weren’t my friends. I’m not alone.”
“He’ll never be alone!” Brian said defiantly.
If the situation had not been so perilous, Nick would have hugged Brian as tight as he could for those words. After the awful feeling of rejection he had suffered before when he had believed Brian had despised him there was nothing more than those words that Nick’s heart wanted to hear.
Zator eyes slid towards Brian and he sneered slightly before turning back to Nick. “So you defeated the Ersnai,” he commented. “I didn’t think you had it in you. I thought that you were too preoccupied with crying.”
“You were wrong,” Nick snapped. “My friends would never leave me.”
“You’re way outnumbered, Zator,” Brian said, preparing to power up an energy ball. “So let Zanell go. Or do we have to fight?”
Zator glared at them all and his pale white hands gripped the green rope more viciously, determined to prevent Zanell from escaping. Zanell yelped slightly as she was jerked closer towards Zator.
“You may have your friends back, but you’re not taking my daughter! She has been poisoned by you brats for too long. She will return to serving me!”
“I will not!” Zanell replied. She turned her beautiful eyes to face Nick. “Nick!”
“Let her go Zator!” Nick said.
“Or I’ll kill you!”
“Really?” Zator smirked but for the briefest of moments Nick saw his eyes dart along Nick’s sword and then he took in his four friends in an almost nervous way. He backed away slightly and dragged Zanell with him.
“Give it up Zator!” AJ said, stepping to Nick’s side and raising his guns.
“You can’t fight all of us!” Kevin added.
Zator gritted his teeth. “I almost had you fooled ninjaman. For one moment, you truly believed that you were alone. I know you’re weakness now and I guarantee that one day you will be alone and on that day I will destroy you!”
“But that day is not today,” Nick replied.
“And it won’t be any day while we’re around!” Brian challenged stepping closer to Nick in support.
“We’ll see,” Zator snarled.
“You can’t beat them father,” Zanell said.
“Let her go!” Nick suddenly leapt forward with his sword, intending to slice through Zanell’s bonds, but Zator quickly stepped out of the way and pulled his daughter closer to him.
“Let’s see you fight your way through this!” he spat.
He snapped his fingers and suddenly ten ropes dropped from the ceiling. Nick stared up and saw that holes had appeared in the high roof and that a rope was dangling from each. He gasped slightly as he saw someone scrambling nimbly down each rope. As they drew closer he saw that they wore dark blue, tight fitting outfits and red cloaks billowed about their shoulders. Each of them wore a black mask which concealed their faces.
“Good bye boys,” Zator snickered. “My warriors will take care of you!” He bellowed with laughter and then smacked the panel upon the wall behind him. A door slid open to the right and Zator seized hold of Zanell before dragging through the opening.
“Zanell!” Nick screamed.
“Nick!” came the terrified reply.
“I don’t like the look of those creeps!” Howie said, nervously watching the warriors continue their descend. A loud whooping noise had begun to fill the room as they scrambled eagerly towards their prey.
“Nick get after them!” Brian said. “If he takes her to his ship, you’ll never catch them! Hurry! We can take care of these freaks!”
Nick warily glanced upwards at the fast approaching warriors and prayed that the others could handle them. He nodded and gripped Brian’s arm for a moment before hurrying after Zator and Zanell. The evil emperor had not succeeded in stealing his friends away and he would not take Zanell either. Nick would make sure of that.