Just like my mother and the others inside, they have no cheekbones, no noses, no mouths or eyes—nothing to focus on but the glistening voids atop their shoulders. Trae’s description is nothing compared to the horror of seeing them. I scramble backward in the snow, pulling Trae as far as I can get. The Labot in the lead reaches the doorway with the other two following on his heels. Locating us, they use the command sequence on their NanoTech suits to reinitiate their weaponry. The strange sound rings out again.
The second they exit the building, Tethys is ready, pitching forward with her enormous claws.
Even if the Labots had eyes, they couldn’t see what’s coming.
But I do.
A gash opens wide across the first Labot’s chest and his blood sprays the snow in a low arc. The smell is repulsively sweet. I fight back bile when he’s flung into the other two. Their bodies slam into the Helix with a sickening crack that reverberates through the open air and echoes off the trees behind me. A tangle of arms and legs crumple onto the snow in front of me. None of the Labots make a move.
Without time to waste, Tethys leans down, nuzzling the top of Trae’s forehead. She sweeps her long tongue across the top of his head, leaving a trail of saliva in his hair. All around his body, the snow vibrates, suspending him in a cocoon of animated frozen water. I take a step back, watching everything unfold. All at once, the vibration halts as the snow melts into water droplets and barrel into his body. Trae writhes as the water turns to steam. I can only hope this is a part of the same healing touch she was using on me. Trae’s eyes flicker, and for a moment open, but he sinks back into unconsciousness.
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