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its heat, deck shrapnel slapping at her lower back from the explosion. Lara swung her burner, found the
warrior, and watched its masked head fly apart, the huge body hesitating headless in the air before
crumpling
 and another Hunter was scooping up the burner, firing it in their direction as a drone flew at him,
claw-ing him to the ground, its grinning skull jaws tearing into his hidden flesh.
The queen continued her bursts of screams, all but hidden by a mass of her minions, bugs jumping into
battle as more came out of the dark, running at the Hunters, the Hunters dancing and cutting like
samu-rai and both alien groups slowly, steadily, gaining ground on the three humans.
Lara didn't think about it, couldn't, aiming and fir-ing and aiming again, the bugs blasted into acid-splash
as the Hunters dodged and fought and somehow man-aged not to die
 CLICK CLICK CLICK
 and Lara heard Noguchi's weapon go dry, even over the screams and explosions, the sound as
chilling and terrible as the queen's fury. Lara stepped forward, jabbing her burner at Noguchi as the
woman dropped the dead one, taking hers
 and in the half second that Noguchi wasn't fir-ing, the tide of the slaughter drew closer. Lara fumbled
for her handgun,not enough, they'll all go dry, we're dead.
They continued to back away but there was no de-nying that it was a matter of minutes, seconds before
they were overrun. To turn and flee was certain death, by burner or by bug, and Lara found a Hunter's
masked face and fired, thebam bam bam of the semi adding a tempo to the bloody battle, firing because
it was that or give up
 and suddenly, so suddenly that Lara didn't un-derstand for a moment what was happening, Hunters
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and drones alike began to collapse, the sound of rapid fire dull thunder to her ringing ears. There was a
stut-tering light washing across the falling bodies, across all of them. It was the muzzle flash of a pulse
rifle, M41 or '56, and Lara's uncomprehending gaze followed the flashing bursts to their source, to their
right and be-hind
 and saw Max. Standing in the midst of the ocean of debris, small fires licking at the suit's giant legs,
bright tongues against the matte orange of its armored body.
Max took a step toward them, still firing," one mighty, quad-tread foot crunching down through a layer
of broken station, its left arm sending a constant stream of armor-piercing death into the fray.
"Ellis," she whispered, the sound lost in the rain of bullets and the queen's screaming retreat, her brood
swarming around her like a living veil. The Hunters, too, melted back into the jungle, leaving their fallen
be-hind, the crush of bodies smoking from the wash of drone blood.
Max continued to fire and Lara felt Jess's hand on
her arm, pulling at her, dragging her back behind their shield of docking where Noguchi stood, her calm
fi-nally broken; she'd removed her mask and stared wide-eyed at the monster robot that had stepped
into the alien war, not understanding.
They'd found their friend. They'd found Ellis, and Noguchi didn't know yet what the interface meant for
the man inside, but Lara felt a wrenching sadness sweep over her. Ellis was with Max again.
25
There were fourteen drones and a single queen, nine unidentified life-forms and three humans. Max
calculated the distance between all of them and chose pulse over fire, Ellis struggling to trans-late the
difference in the glowing green forms. Max had been designed to find an implant signal in the
desig-nated
 Teape he was the designated
 life-form and cut out firing before extermination could occur, destroying everything in its single-minded
path to the beacon. These humans had no implants, and Max's mind had no signal urging it on. It was up
to Ellis to manipulate the program, and his influence wasn't constant, his consciousness unstable; there
was distant pain, distant understanding of body, radical fluctuations in awareness. Max did not know
what these things meant, and it was all Ellis could do to hold on.
Max fired, sweeping in a contained pattern across the twenty-four alien objects that clustered in front of
its sensors, closest at 17.3 meters, secondary liquid ex-pulsion maximum two meters
 add spray at its worst, can't let it reach the three forms because
Because Ellis realized that this was what had been designated, what he had wanted at some prior
in-stance,these are Lara and Jess and. He pushed into the realm of sensory feed, his mind reaching for
the stats and commands, finding them easily. Getting them to Max was harder, Ellis's elastic, human
thoughts com-plicating the process.
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Separate objects at 7. 73 8.4 active/cease.
Max continued to fire, the direction correlated, and Ellis was pleased until a wave of dark slid through
him, temporarily removing him from the whole. After some indeterminate time, he was with Max again. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]