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datatime: 2022-12-04 05:44:46 Author:pTEnVwQR

And Nicholas struck her a swift blow behind her knees so that she went down in an instant. She was aware of him, of his body spread over hers, and of a great heat like a concentrated beam running along the backs of her legs where they were exposed.

"Nicholas!" She shook him and he groaned, his forehead coming up off the steering wheel, his fingers resuming their work on the wiring.

But the blow never landed. The heel of his hand stopped perhaps a centimeter from its objective, hanging in the air. Then the muscles of his wrist and forearm began to spasm as if he had plunged them into a bed of live coals.

The Messulethe moved with astonishing speed, twisting his torso into the attack so as to negate the unnatural position of his arm. At the same time, he delivered a vicious kite meant for Nicholas's kidneys.

His own head snapped back, but he was already caught ill the vise-like grip of the Messulethe's powerful legs. Kneed in the stomach, he tried to twist away, and caught another kite on the jaw.

Celeste looked up, shivering. At the edge of her mind was that awful sensation, as if some beast were snuffling obscenely through her innermost thoughts. She felt the onset of the heat, rushing up the ramp at them, and she screamed wordlessly, her terror an anodyne for her nausea.

This time Nicholas had lowered himself far enough so that one knee was on the ground. Very fast now, he intercepted the blow with the callused edge of his left hand and, rising up, swept the Messulethe's extended arm out and away in an unnatural arc intended to break bones.

But, with a.heavy grunt, she hauled him to his feet, propelled him on, and kept him at it, with that thing so near her mind she could feel it singe her like a bright leap of flame. The terror running through her, but she kept him at it, out across the ferro-concrete beehive of the robotics factory with its spinning blue lightning arcs, its scents of hot metal and fused plastics, the presence in her mind growing stronger, seeking to fill her limbs with lead, as they stumbled past lines of stainless-steel heads being fitted onto blocky inhuman shoulders. Infra-red-lensed eyes stared unblinking as the running shadows struck them and were gone. Kept him going in this cold crucible where machines created more machines, where the miracle of creation in a manner inconceivable even decades ago was occurring every minute of the day and night.

Celeste looked up, shivering. At the edge of her mind was that awful sensation, as if some beast were snuffling obscenely through her innermost thoughts. She felt the onset of the heat, rushing up the ramp at them, and she screamed wordlessly, her terror an anodyne for her nausea.

Down! The voice in her head confused her. Get down!

The Messulethe fell and, as his concentration shifted, the numbing force of his psyche lifted. Nicholas slammed the edge of his hand into the spot between and just above the Messulethe's eyes, a crucial point in the line of the major conception meridian. The Messulethe's eyes crossed, and Nicholas could feel the almost total withdrawal of his psyche as he hovered at the point of unconsciousness. Still, Nicholas felt the squirming of his enemy's powerful mind, trying to break through the temporary paralysis, and he knew he had only moments in which to act.

"Get behind the wheel!" He slid over, displacing her, and she settled herself, her feet feeling for the pedals.

Nicholas, in the right-angle horse position, directed a snap-kick to the Messulethe's groin. Both blows struck almost simultaneously, and both men went down. But Nicholas rolled and, angling his knuckles down, struck the Messulethe, delivered a short twan ch'uan to the Messu-lethe's forehead.

The engine barked to life and Nicholas slumped back in the seat, near exhaustion.

Nicholas, deep in mind-no-mind, continued to resist the Messulethe with his upper body, even while his left leg kicked out, mindless, as if in galvanic response. The toe of Nicholas's shoe caught his enemy on the point of his hip, where the flexor muscles covered an important nerve nexus for the lower body.

Down! The voice in her head confused her. Get down!

He slumped back, and the Messulethe, on one knee, stamped at his armpit, extending his arm out, twisting it. Nicholas felt the tendons being strained beyond tolerance, and his left hand scrabbled under his body. His fingers dosed around a broken chair leg and he smashed it into the side of the Messulethe's head just above his ear.

Down! The voice in her head confused her. Get down!

Nicholas was certain he had that resolve in him, the conviction that this soul must be dispatched, that there was no other option available, that without this singular attack his risk was intolerable.

Nicholas, deep in mind-no-mind, continued to resist the Messulethe with his upper body, even while his left leg kicked out, mindless, as if in galvanic response. The toe of Nicholas's shoe caught his enemy on the point of his hip, where the flexor muscles covered an important nerve nexus for the lower body.

The Messulethe moved with astonishing speed, twisting his torso into the attack so as to negate the unnatural position of his arm. At the same time, he delivered a vicious kite meant for Nicholas's kidneys.

Nicholas was certain he had that resolve in him, the conviction that this soul must be dispatched, that there was no other option available, that without this singular attack his risk was intolerable.

Watching him hot-wire the truck. Celeste felt her stomach rebelling. It was eerie seeing the face of the Mes-sulethe, knowing because she was linked with it that Nicholas's mind lay beneath it. Still, she had thought she would pass out the first time she saw his eyes staring at her from out of that face she had learned to fear above all others.

This time Nicholas had lowered himself far enough so that one knee was on the ground. Very fast now, he intercepted the blow with the callused edge of his left hand and, rising up, swept the Messulethe's extended arm out and away in an unnatural arc intended to break bones.

But the blow never landed. The heel of his hand stopped perhaps a centimeter from its objective, hanging in the air. Then the muscles of his wrist and forearm began to spasm as if he had plunged them into a bed of live coals.

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