6: THE CALL
Nick wiped the sweat from his face as he slammed the hotel room door behind him. They wouldn’t find him, at least not for a while. He slipped his wet jacket off and flung it onto he floor while he sat down upon the edge of the squeaky bed. He needed time to think without having to fear attack from droids or the Ersnai.
It was obvious that the Ersnai would never tell him where his friends were being held, but Nick already had a good idea. Zator must have been the one who kidnapped them. The droids had belonged to him and he must have been the one who sent the Ersnai. But how long had his friends been missing for? Had Zator taken them before Backstreet split or after?
Nick wasn’t sure if he wanted the answer to that question…
And then he had to ask himself who was an Ersnai and who wasn’t. Was Howie right and that only himself, Kevin and Zanell were Ersnai? No, that couldn’t be right. Brian was definitely not himself.
He wrapped himself in the covers of his bed and his hand touched the two amulets about his neck. While he possessed these, Zator would never win and at least the Earth would be safe… but what about his friends?
He stared about the glum hotel room and remembered that he had stayed in worse places than this during tours, but Brian had always been around to cheer him up or AJ would be making gags or they would be Howie and Kevin to tease…
He turned over onto his side and pulled the duvet tighter to him as if it could somehow muffle the pain that was beginning to rip away at the walls of his stomach.
He wanted those days back. He wanted his friends back so badly…
He slipped his own amulet from about his neck and clasped it in his fingers, praying that the powers it possessed would be able to help him win this battle.
Suddenly a loud bleeping emitted from his pocket. Nick jumped in shock for a moment and then he remembered the tune of his cell phone. He sat up and reached into his pocket to pull out the phone. He stared at the screen for a moment as the number of the caller flicked up. Brian.
But was he a friend or an enemy?
“Hello?” he asked nervously.
“Hi, where are you?” Brian’s voice asked.
Nick frowned slightly at the brusqueness of the question. “Brian?” he asked.
“Yeah, it’s me. Look, I’m sorry about the other night. We need to talk… where are you?” he persisted.
Nick hesitated for a moment, unwilling to reveal his location in case the Ersnai or the droids came after him. At this moment, Nick was too fatigued to be able to cope with them. “Where are you?” Nick asked instead.
“At yours, but you’re not in.”
“Are you certain?” Nick asked.
“Maybe I’m just not answering the door,” Nick pointed out. ‘Or maybe you know I’m not in because you’re actually inside my house already looking for me.’
Brian paused and Nick could almost sense his unease in the way he breathed. “Maybe… Nick where are you? Don’t play games. We need to talk.”
Nick ran his fingers over his amulet. Was Howie right? Or was he lying? Should he trust Brian? But why would Zator only kidnap Zanell, Kevin and Howie? Brian had to be an Ersnai as well, there was no other explanation to the cold way he had treated Nick recently. It couldn’t be his best friend.
“Nick, where are you?” Brian repeated, his voice was oozing with friendliness but there was a touch of irritation to it as well.
“No, I don’t think I’ll tell you,” Nick replied.
“Huh? Why not?” Brian asked.
“Because you are not Brian!” Nick yelled.
He hung up and slammed his cell phone down on the table beside the bed. Immediately it began to ring again so Nick retrieved it and hurled it hard at the wall. The phone gave a lopsided bleep and then ceased to make any sounds.
That had not been Brian. He was too stubborn to make the first move…
Nick pulled his jersey over his head as he crossed to the hotel room door to check that it was securely locked. He needed to clean himself up and then sleep, even though it was now light outside. Later he would begin his search for his friends and he would start by watching the Ersnai. But there was still the question of how he would complete his mission. Zator’s ship was in orbit and he could only reach it by spaceship. Normally Zanell would turn up to help them whenever they needed to make a trip to Zator, but this time there was no Zanell to help him.
Nick would have to use his head and it was hurting a lot already unfortunately. How was he going to get to Zator?
He shook his head and pulled his shirt off. He needed rest and the first thing he was going to do was to have a hot shower to relax. Then he would sleep before devising a plan to save his friends. Maybe he could steal the Ersnai’s ship…
He yawned as he dropped his jeans and rubbed his weary eyes. He had hardly slept since his encounter with the droids and after that he had done nothing but fight and run. As much as he wanted to, he could not just dash off to rescue the others; not without much needed sleep.
Since he was alone, he was definitely going to need his strength.
“Did you get it?” Howie asked as Brian stood dismally upon the doorstep.
“No,” Brian snapped. “Now let me in!” He pushed Howie out of the way and sulkily sat down upon the couch with his arms folded moodily. “I’m gonna kill that Carter fucker, I swear.”
“What happened?” Kevin snapped. “You said it would be easy!”
“He knew who I was!” Brian protested. “Someone tipped him off that I wasn’t human!” He glared at the others around him.
Howie snorted in annoyance. “I thought he might. He already killed Kren and he attacked me when I tried to take the amulet.”
“Well, that’s our surprise element gone!” Brian said. “I slipped inside of his house ready to attack but he wasn’t there! I called him, but then he hung up on me!”
“I’m getting sick of this!” AJ snapped. “If I have to stay in this form for another day….”
“At least you don’t have to put up with that irritating female bitch from hell!” Brian snapped. “I was tempted to rip her head off last night with her nagging me. ‘Babe, why don’t you call Nick’ or ‘Honey what’s wrong? You’re acting different’ or ‘Babe, where are the dogs?’”
“What did you do to the dogs?” AJ asked curiously.
“If you don’t shut up then I’ll show you what I did to the dogs by demonstrating it on you!” Brian threatened.
“What’s wrong with you?” Howie asked, scrutinising the framed records the real Howie had placed upon the wall.
“I’m sick of living with a human female and to top it all off I just had to make two plane rides crammed with filthy humans!” Brian replied. “I’ve spent hours travelling and for nothing! Carter’s probably already plotting against us himself by now!”
“We’re all getting agitated in these forms,” Kevin said. “But it won’t be for much longer. Besides, Zator has the perfect plan to capture the last Backstreet brat. Unless he moves quickly, he won’t have time to attack us.”
“About time!” Howie grumbled. “We’ve done everything so far!”
“I don’t get why he’s so worried about little Nicky anyway,” Brian said. “The others were easy enough to catch.”
“Apart from the one you had to get! Zator had to send you droids to get hold of him!” AJ snapped.
Brian glared at him, his eyes narrowing in malevolence. He raised his hand to form an energy ball to throw at AJ, but his companion quickly withdrew his guns.
“Don’t even think about it,” he warned.
Brian locked eyes with AJ for a moment and then clasped his fingers to dispel the energy ball. He ignored AJ’s stare and turned to Kevin. “Why’s Zator so concerned about Nick?”
“He’s strong,” Kevin replied. “He’s very strong and very determined. Not just anybody could kill an Ersnai and yet he managed to destroy Kren. Yes, I see why Nick is an interesting one. All of these Backstreet Boys are interesting.” Kevin looked down at the amulet about his neck. “But without these they are powerless… and Nick will be as well.”
“Good, because I want to kill him,” Brian muttered.
“Zator wants him alive!” Kevin warned. “He will wish he was dead when Zator is finished with him!”
Brian grinned. “Good.”
“Does that mean we get to finish off the rest of the Backstreet Brigade Boys?” AJ asked eagerly.
Brian’s eyes lit up. “Yeah and that speedy one is mine! I’ll rip every limb from his body! That will stop him from running so fast!”
“As for my alter ego, I think I’ll impale him and use his body as a trophy. I haven’t got a human trophy…” AJ said dreamily.
“You won’t be doing anything unless Zator says so!” Kevin replied. “We have to get Nick first! For now, we’ve been ordered to report back to Zator’s base. He’ll tell us the new plan when we get there. Apparently it’s perfect for Nick.”
“Why are we even listening to him?” Howie muttered.
“Because he’s the one paying us!” Kevin pointed out. “And remember that we don’t get paid until the job is complete!”
“And it had better be fucking soon!” Brian whined. “If the price wasn’t so high, I would have quit by now.”
“Ersnai do not go back on a mission,” Howie said coldly. “It is dishonourable.”
“It will be over soon,” Kevin assured them. “Come, we need to get to Zator’s base. The sooner we get there, the sooner we hear the plan.”
The four Ersnai stumbled out of Howie’s house and into the street, now dark and empty at the late hour. AJ moaned at the long drive ahead of them while Brian and Howie piled into Kevin’s truck.
“This plan had better be good,” AJ muttered.