11: THE WARRIORS
The boys watched Nick leave and then they turned their attention back up to the ceiling where the warriors were rapidly clambering down the ropes, their blood red cloaks billowing out above them.
“This’ll be a piece of cake!” AJ said, raising his guns and firing at the oncoming horde above them.
The blue beams sliced easily through the ropes and the warriors glanced up above them to watch as their ropes were broken. They bellowed angrily as they began to drop towards the floor.
“Ha!” AJ laughed. He grinned and spun his guns around with his fingers before blowing at the edges.
“Wait a minute…” Kevin said warily.
The warriors had begun to twist and turn nimbly in the air like skilled acrobats and as they hit the floor all ten of them landed agilely upon their feet in front of the shocked faces of the Backstreet Boys.
“Uh oh, this isn’t good,” Howie said. “I’ll try and confuse them!”
He placed his hands to his head and his eyes glowed blue for a moment before four images shimmered into existence in front of him. As they grew more solid, they were revealed to be four exact replicas of Brian, Kevin, AJ and Howie.
“That’ll stop them!” Brian cheered, watching as Howie’s illusions began to approach the warriors to distract them.
Zator’s warriors stared about them for a second and then shook their heads and laughed, their voices echoing menacingly about the room. They ignored the illusions completely and then began charging towards the real boys.
“Howie dude, it’s not working!” AJ cried, quickly fiddling to arm his guns. “They know that they’re only illusions!”
The warriors ceased their crazy dash just a few metres in front of them ant took on the positions of sumo wrestlers. In unison they ripped their cloaks from their backs and flung them aside to reveal more of their tight fighting blue clothes. Upon their faces they wore black masks which had tiny slits for eyes and silver lines had been etched about the mouths to make them look even more fearsome. They slowly began to chant a repetitive stream of strange words together and stamp their feet in time to a beat.
“This doesn’t look good,” Howie muttered.
“We’ll have to fight them!” Brian cried, powering up an energy ball in his hands. “We have to give Nick all of the time we can to rescue Zanell!”
He flung the glowing ball at the warriors, but all of them stretched out their hands to it and ceased their terrible chant. At once, the energy orb froze in mid air, suspended by the powers of Zator’s warriors. It began to spin and burn even brighter with power until it almost throbbed before their eyes and then it began to hurtle back towards Brian and the others.
“Uh oh, this really doesn’t look good!” AJ cried.
“Get out of the way!” Brian screamed.
The four of them dived to the right, just as Brian’s energy ball smashed into the wall, leaving a charred burnt patch of metal where it had struck.
The warriors laughed and then began to chant again, only this time the words were different and more quieter, but that only served to make them more eerie. They raised their arms and there was a groaning noise from about them.
The boys turned in horror and saw that some of the huge metal plates that made up the walls were beginning to rip away. The warriors began to chant louder and the metal plates floated through the air towards their outstretched hands. When each warrior had received a weapon, they turned towards the boys.
“Oh no,” AJ said, guessing what would be coming next.
The warriors turned towards them and they growled from behind their masks, before charging towards them their metal plates held out in front of them like weapons.
“I’ll handle this!” Kevin cried.
He limped towards the wall on his bad ankle and gripped a huge metal plate with his hands. He gave the upcoming warriors a nervous glance before using his super strength to wrench the red plate from the wall.
He gritted his teeth and then rushed forward to meet the warriors. He brought the metal plate sweeping down in front of him to throw back as many of them as he could. Four warriors screamed in pain as they were flung aside with Kevin’s strength and sent hurtling into the wall.
“Nice going, Kev!” Brian called, as Kevin prepared to swing the metal forward again, only this time the warriors leapt up into the air to escape the blows.
But some of the warriors had managed to slip past Kevin and were creeping towards Howie, AJ and Brian, ready to bring their own metal chunks crushing down upon their bodies.
AJ gulped slightly and quickly seized his guns aiming them at the nearest warrior who immediately held it’s metal plate up protectively like a shield.
“Let’s see you get through this!” Brian said.
Before the warriors could see what he was doing, he leapt up into the air and flung an energy ball at them. It exploded among three of the warriors scattering them about the room. One of them remained unmoving upon the floor, but the other two immediately leapt to their feet and turned on Brian.
“Uh oh!” Brian cried, jumping into the air as a sheet of metal was hurled at him.
“Here take this!” AJ tossed one of his two guns to Howie and then both of them held the weapons up to the two warriors that were chasing Brian.
“Hey you!” Howie called.
One of the warriors ceased its pursuit and turned towards them, but as it did they both opened fire and the beams struck the warrior in the chest burning a hole into its chest and to the circuitry and mechanics beyond…
“They’re robots!” AJ gasped.
“No wonder they’re so strong!” Howie added.
Suddenly from above came a loud whooping noise. The boys raised their heads and saw that another ten ropes had dropped from the ceiling and even more warriors were beginning to scramble towards them.
“Do these guys ever stop?” Howie cried. “We can’t take much more!”
Kevin grunted as he cast aside his metal weapon by hurling it another warrior who desperately tried to use his own metal sheet to protect himself but failed miserably.
Brian was panting as he dashed about the room, trying to evade the warrior that was relentlessly chasing him and trying to hit him with a sheet of rusty red metal.
“Hang on, B-Rok!” AJ called, seeing an opportunity in the form of the warrior’s exposed back. He raised his guns and fired hitting Brian’s pursuer squarely in the back.
The remaining two waited on the other side of the room, gauging the boys’ strengths almost. They glanced up to see their friends rushing to join them and began to whoop with delight.
“We can’t fight all of these!” Brian cried.
They were still exhausted from their long stay in Zator’s prison cells and weary from lack of food and water. None of them had the strength to keep this fight going.
“What do we do? Any ideas anybody?” AJ suggested as the warriors from above lightly landed on their feet in front of them, only these were armed with long, powerful swords.
“Just one,” Brian said backing towards the door and gesturing for the others to follow.
“What’s that?” Kevin asked eyeing the warriors as they followed the boys towards the door.
Nick’s feet thundered down the corridor in furious pursuit of Zator and Zanell. His legs felt heavy with weariness, but he forced himself onwards. He had to. It was either that or lose Zanell, possibly forever.
He just hoped that Brian and the others could fight off Zator’s warriors. They had looked extremely powerful and Nick couldn’t help but worry about them, especially after the ordeal they had just endured in Zator’s clutches for over a week.
He hurried down the corridor, praying that he did not run into any of Zator’s droids of anymore Ersnai that might be lurking about the base. He did not have the time to deal with insignificant battles. All that was important was that he find Zanell.
And maybe kill Zator in the process…
He had done everything he could to ruin Nick’s life.
Nervously Nick glanced about the corridor. He still had not managed to catch up with Zator and he could hear no footsteps ahead of him. What if Zator had turned off somewhere without Nick realising it?
Suddenly he saw that the corridor drew to a halt up ahead of him. He slowed down for a moment as his eyes registered the solid metal wall before him and then he anxiously put on an extra burst of speed to reach his destination, praying that there would be a door somewhere to show him where Zator had gone.
As he reached it, he saw that there was no door, only a wall. He stared about him, but there were no doorways. There had been several in the corridor, but surely Nick would have heard something if Zator had have turned off?
“Zanell!” he screamed, begging for a response. “Zanell, where are you?”
He pressed a hand to his head in anguish. What would Zator do to her when he got her back to his ship? How would he punish his daughter for her betrayal?
He touched Zanell’s amulet wishing that it could somehow help him to save her and then turned around miserably. He would have to search the doorways that led off from the corridor and just hope that he could find her before it was too late.
He glanced back at the wall, as if somehow it had ceased its existence as a solid object and had turned into a door, but its grubby green surface grinned back at him tauntingly. He froze and then turned back to the wall. Carefully he approached it and stared about the rest of the corridor walls. Tentatively he prodded his sword forward and his eyes widened as the blade slid through the wall effortlessly. Licking his lips in anticipation, he sheathed hiss word and pressed his hands up against the wall. To his delight he found that his hands slipped through it. The wall wasn’t real. It was an illusion.
He jumped forwards and found himself in a corridor again. There were no doors o his left or his right but at the very end of the corridor a few metres in front he could see a silver door with a huge turning wheel upon it. It had to lead somewhere important. Nick had seen no other doors like it in the entire base.
His heart was almost leaping into his mouth. Zator had to have come this way!
He dashed forwards and glanced about for the panle to open it, but there was nothing. He pressed his hands up against the smooth metal, but this door was firm and real. He bit his lip and then thumped the door in agitation, wincing slightly as his knuckles caught the edge of the wheel. He thought for a moment and then gripped the wheel in both hands before turning it to the left.
The door groaned slightly and Nick turned the wheel a few more degrees and pushed hard. It suddenly swung open and Nick stepped through into a new room.
He gazed about him curiously, his eyes taking in the white shiny floor and the silver walls that reflected the bright lights from over head. Squatting in front of him was a small aircraft. It’s wings were sharp and the bulk of the ship was sleek. This was not just an aircraft, it was a space ship. Nick had never seen anything like in the air force before.
“Nick!” a voice cried in relief.
Zator gripped her wrists fiercely and spun her to face him. “He’s not having you!2 he snarled viciously.
Nick stared above him and saw that there was a huge walkway which led to the hatchway of the ship. Upon it, Zator was struggling to drag his rebellious daughter towards the ship. She stared at Nick desperately, her red hair had escaped from her pony tail and was now tangled all over her face.
“Hold on Zanell!” Nick replied.
He ran to the far wall and leapt up to seize hold of the rungs of a silver ladder. Quickly he clambered up the rungs, his heart beating faster with each rung that brought him closer to Zanell. His sweaty palms held onto the rungs tightly and his brow furrowed with concentration. He could not afford to grow nervous and slip, despite his fear of heights that was beginning to nibble upon his stomach. Fear did not matter when he had a girl to save.
Finally he had pulled himself up onto the platform, but he saw that Zator had almost reached his destination. All he had to was climb down another ladder and then pull Zanell into the ship with him and they would be gone.
Zanell struggled valiantly in her father’s grip and used her elbow to smack him in the stomach.
“Insolent brat!” Zator screeched, giving her a fierce blow about the face with a cutting slap.
“Don’t you dare hurt her!” Nick yelled. He ran across the platform, ignoring the way it wobbled ominously beneath his feet.
“Stay back, boy!” Zator warned. He spun Zanell around so that she was facing Nick and then clamped his hands firmly upon her shoulders. He pushed her further towards the final ladder, but then he tilted her over the banister instead.
“NO!” Nick screamed. “Don’t!”
“Come any closer and I’ll throw her over the edge!” Zator hissed, a smile curving his lips.
“Father you wouldn’t!” Zanell cried horrified.
“You wouldn’t dare to kill your own daughter!” Nick said. ‘Please, don’t!’
“Wouldn’t I?” Zator snapped. “I would rather she died then fall into the filthy hands of a Backstreet Brat Boy! You are not having her!”
“Let me go!” Zanell cried. She struggled again and then cried out in pain as Zator cruelly yanked her hair.
“Be quiet my dear or I will hurl you to your death before I do the same to your blond toyboy!” Zator said, his fingers tangled about her hair. He pushed her closer to the banister.
Nick meekly stepped back.
“That’s the way,” Zator said, smiling in victory. He slowly pulled Zanell back away from the edge, but then he began to drag her towards the ladder. “We’re leaving!”
“No!” Zanell wailed. She wriggled her arms, but Zator gripped them tightly to prevent her from hitting him again, so she brought her knee crashing into his stomach instead.
Zator gave a bellow f rage and then seized her hair again and pressed towards the edge of the railings. “Do you want me to kill you, Zanell?”
Nick slowly began to edge closer, his hand on his sword ready to fight, but then Zator cast him a dark look and his fingers tightened about Zanell threateningly. Nick froze and his eyes met Zanell’s for a second. He gulped and stepped back, never once dropping his eyes from her face.
“I would rather die then serve you,” Zanell whispered.
“Would you really? If you want, I will grant that wish!” Zator said, stroking her face and pushing a lock of hair out of her eyes. She jerked her face away from him and Zator snarled at her reaction. “Why would I want a harlot like you for a daughter?”
“You’re only threatening me because it’s the only way you can escape from Nick!” Zanell whispered harshly.
Zator hesitated for a moment, but still did not release her. Nick however, saw the malicious glint that appeared in Zator’s dark eyes. “Why do you say that?”
“You are frightened of him, father!” Zanell shouted.
Zator froze, his pale face beginning to turn crimson with rage. “What did you say?”
“You’re scared of him!”
“And why would I be scared of that pitiful worm over there!”
“Then prove you’re not!” Nick replied. “Let me fight you Zator.”