Chapter Two: Urruatta
There was a split-second breach into lightless, extradimensional space. The brief shift to weightless non-direction was like a rollercoaster dip before the pair materialized a foot above the Lee Building’s roof. Gravity reasserted its caress, and they dropped down from the cloud of purple gas that enveloped them.
Katie maintained her balance, nauseous and hanging tightly onto Phantom. “I think— I think I’m gonna barf.”
“Please not on the harness, I did that once and it’s a pain in the butt to clean.”
She contained a laugh, then nodded as her stomach ceased to churn. “So the other two stones do the teleportation?”
He spotted a trail of destruction below, all upon the streets that lead to the Memorial Bridge. “Just one, the third’s a dud. Grandpa and dad could never make it do anything.”
Phantom started to walk to the roof’s edge, and Katie followed with her grip still around his arm. She looked to him, then let a smile escape and tugged herself a little closer.
He saw her momentary contentment halfway to the edge. After chewing his lip, Phantom finally spoke. “Now that we know our secret identities and stuff… w-would you like to go out on a—”
“Something normal? Like a movie or—”
“O-okay. Cool,” he said.
Phantom turned his focus from her to the city streets below as they reached the edge. But Katie savored the hint of a smile that remained on his lips.
“I see an alley near the bridge,” he said a moment later. “You ready to do this?”
She wrapped her arms around his side. “Yes.”
A flash of black void succumbed to a curtain of purple that they waved away. Phantom’s aim was perfect this time, and as the odor of citrus dispersed with the gas, they stood by a dumpster near the alley’s exit to the street.
Alarms, sirens and the thunderous footfalls of a juggernaut echoed off narrow, high walls. Beyond the alley’s exit a flipped and mangled car blocked a full view of the street, except for scattered screaming pedestrians that ran by in ones and pairs.
The red flash on Phantom’s wrist drew his attention to the counter. It read six percent.
“Something wrong?” Katie asked.
He flicked off the silent alarm. “It’s nothing.”
She let go of him and held up the induction core standing in for her Oricana. “I sure hope this works, but if it does, I don’t want it to work in here!”
He surveyed the confined space, and Phantom nodded in agreement before they dashed for the street. “Do you know something that’ll help to take this thing down?”
“I think it’s a worker drone,” Katie shouted back over the noise. “It’s got no weapons.”
He reached the end of the alley right behind her. “Being forty feet tall and able to demolish buildings isn’t a weapon?”
She took shelter behind the car lying on its side. “Okay, no ranged weapons. But if they’d dug-up one of the huge wardrones I’ve seen in my dreams, half the city would be vaporized by now!”
The crumpled remains of a pickup truck were thrown from the bridge. They watched it sail through the air above their refuge before it crashed into the seventh story of a building across the street.
Phantom shouted over the noise. “How long does it take?”
“It’ll hurt, but I can make it almost instant,” Katie replied. “But I’ll still only have seven minutes after!”
He tapped the controls on his wristband and set a countdown. “Got it. I’ll be right behind you and running interference with the Banshee Gun once I put the induction core back in it.”
Phantom looked up and Katie had moved nose-to-nose with him. Before he could react, her lips touched his. She pulled away, and he blinked in mute surprise.
“In case I don’t come back,” she said.
The teen in purple watched her place a second hand on the backup Oricana he’d given her. “Come back.”
“Give me some room, Max. It’s going to be like an explosion.”
He backed away, their eyes still locked. Then her focus shifted to the amber floating ellipse between the tines of the induction core.
The sigil within the gemstone glowed, then flared to an intensity greater than the sun before Phantom shielded his eyes from the painful light. He glanced back as it faded seconds later, and Katie stood at the center of a red sphere gradually shifting to orange. Her pained face turned skywards, then screamed.
There was a sound of thunder, and the world went black as a concussive shockwave knocked him to the sidewalk.
He scrambled to rise, and deep cavernous breaths huffed above him. Finding the source of his blindness, Phantom removed the shredded cloth wrapped-round his cowl. He did a double take as he discovered it to be the tattered remains of Katie’s shirt, then gazed up in time to see her eyes open.
Even crouched, the massive head of the Tyrannosaurus was far above him. She blinked amid her pained panting, and he stepped closer to Katie with his face both awed and concerned.
“Are you… okay?”
“That hurt,” Katie said, her huge voice resonant yet feminine. “A lot.”
He placed his hand on the pebbly scales of her honey colored hide, then studied the mottled patches of terracotta that adorned her higher flanks and back. “Amazing.”
Shifting with a saurian grunt, Katie started to rise and Phantom stepped back. He gave her even more space as she knocked over the car they had used for cover with an accidental brush of her tail.
“Stupid dino butt,” she said. “I’m clumsy, big, and… naked. I get embarrassed every time I do this.”
He moved aside as a step from her theropodian leg cracked the sidewalk. “You turn into a supersaur. It’s awesome.”
Katie nodded, then waved one of her tiny arms clutching the improvised Oricana in its claws. “Uh, can you catch this? I can’t see my arms very well.”
He walked beneath her, and raised his hands as if to catch a fly ball. “You’ve gotta tell me what it’s like later.”
She let go of the Oricana and Phantom caught it. “What it’s like to be huge and ugly?”
“Grandpa was a paleontologist, and I’ve been into dinosaurs since I was five. I think you’re great, human or T-Rex.”
Phantom stepped back, and his expression lost confidence as Katie turned from him and lumbered into the street. Then, arching her tail and hips high for a sprint, she glanced back with the coyest blink a tyrannosaurus could give.
“I’d kiss you again, but—”
“You might bite my head off,” he said. “Go get ‘em, Queen.”
She faced the bridge before she drew in a huge breath that sounded like a gale. Her massive weight lurched forward, and with a lunge claws smashed down upon debris and blacktop as she broke into a thundering sprint.
As her stride pounded and shook the street beneath Phantom’s boots, he stepped forward and watched the Tyrannosaur run towards the bridge’s entrance ramp. Several bystanders emerged to do the same, among them a woman who cheered “It’s her!”
He turned wide eyes from the spectacle and to the countdown timer on his wrist. His expression narrowed into determination as he read the display. “Five minutes and thirty four seconds to save the world.”
Phantom grabbed the Banshee Gun slung across his back, then gave the induction core in his hand its first good look since Katie had used it as an improvised Oricana. He flinched at the sight of its narrow forks at the top warped and melted, and the amber stone that had hovered between them was gone. His analytical eyes examined it further, and moving a gloved thumb aside he found the second sigil stone absent from its shaft as well.
He stared at the empty depression with wires connected to nothing. “What the?”
He lifted his head, eyes pondering and concerned as the tip of a tyrannosaurus tail disappeared up the entrance ramp.
“Oh no. Oh fuc—”
Copyright © 2017 by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.
Chapter three of Cretaceous Queen, Last Best Hope, will be released next Saturday! Stay tuned, true believers!