A concussive silence engulfed them. Tracer could hear his own thoughts again. Emma paused in her dance of defense down the row of metal racks and machines, hands still sculpting the air. There was nothing but his heartbeat.
Then he heard it. A faint whizzing noise. Wings.
The hornets. The hyper-bugs.
They came in a rolling cloud of thunder of glass wings and yellow bodies. Their growls and screams echoed in the chamber like bats in a cave. Tracer saw their beady black eyes narrow on their targets.
“RUN!” Emma sprinted past him, grabbing his hand and yanking him along. They barreled into the others and ran as the hornets zeroed in on their position. Every corner got in their way, and the hornets came. They looked back and the hybrid insects were already on them. Emmaline flew sideways, a hand out behind her, repelling the bullet-shaped bugs. They bounced off her shield again and again, snarling. In the midst of shooting at them, Tracer caught a glimpse of one frothing at the mouth. Its saliva hit a shelf, the green stuff fizzing eerily and eating a hole in the metal.
Without further ado, Tracer blasted it to smithereens.
Stalactites forever pointed accusing fingers at them from the ceiling. Still they ran, on and on they ran, towards nowhere and everywhere. The hissing of the terrible hornets rose and dove like a demented orchestra of vibrating wings.
“Watch out!” yelled Wayk. Out of a hidden side passage, the bugs bombarded them, snapping and waggling their stingers. They fired back at the swarm, trying not to shoot each other in the process. A swift blast from Emma blew the bugs away into corners and metal and stone. They circled above them, like a conspiracy of ravens waiting for the weaklings to die. “Go!” she screamed. “I’m right behind you!”
“Here! Here! This way!” Falcon waved his hand frantically. The tunnel swallowed him up as he led their troop down into it. Tracer finally caught up with them, panting like a dog, and realized he was alone. The way behind him was vacant.
“Emma, come on!”
His heart pounded. Why were the hornets backing off? Where was Emmaline?
Tracer stumbled his way back around the corner. The buzzing of wings was a chorus of off-key violins.
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