It took me a moment to remember where I was and realize it was Jake’s hand over my mouth. He felt me jerk awake and only held his hand there for a few more seconds before releasing it and pointing over my shoulder to the ground below Arr.
There were three men and a dar-dolf twice the size of Kayo below us moving through the ferns. The dar-dolf was out front with its nose to the ground leading the way. It was a fighting breed usually regulated to the pits fighting each other or other vicious creatures from the verse.
Arr looked over his shoulder to Jake for the lead on what to do. Jake held his finger up to my lips indicating silence. As carefully and silently as he could he eased himself out from under me. He pulled his blaster and slid quietly over to the other side of the tree.
My first thought was for Kayo. He was still down there on the ground. I was sure Jake had not anticipated the guys tracking us would have a dar-dolf of their own. That animal was bound to pick up Kayo’s scent.
Jake silently signaled to Arr to stay put. Arr signed back in a language I didn’t know. Jake shook his head no. Jake looked over his shoulder and signaled me to cover. Considering my physical state I thought I made a good effort of slumping down out of view from the men below. I wished I had brought my blaster, but I had thought I was going shopping. Silly me.
The huge dar-dolf bellowed. It had picked up Kayo’s trail. It would have only been a matter of time before he picked up ours as well. Jake did the only thing he could. He shot the dar-dolf before it could flush out Kayo. The beast screamed and went down. The three men immediately dove for cover behind the nearest trees as they returned fire. Blaster fire burned through the leaves above our heads and stuck the trunk below us.
Jake continued to return fire. Arr signaled to Jake and Jake shook his head again. Whatever it was that Arr wanted to do, Jake was definitely against it. Arr climbed higher. With an agility that was mind boggling for me the kid passed from our tree to the next undetected by the men below. He started a slow descent to the ground behind the men.
“Damn,” Jake hissed. He crawled out further on his limb I believe to draw their fire and attention away from his young partner. It didn’t work. One of the men spotted a flash of Arr’s red suit and he turned on him. Now that Arr was down on the ground with them I could see how much bigger the men were than he was. They were all over seven feet tall; head and shoulders above the smaller henu.
Arr fought like a crazed being, but once they disarmed him, he was lost. His speed only carried him so far. They were just too big and too strong for his smaller frame. Jake did his best to defend Arr from above, but it was a hopeless cause there were just too many trees in the way.
The three dropped out of sight with Arr in tow.
“It’s over Harcourt,” one of the men shouted up from behind a tree. “Unless you want your partner craved up in piece, I suggest you come down. NOW!” he ordered.
Jake grabbed my pack and pulled it over to me. He kept low in the crotch of the huge tree.
“I know these guys. They are not bluffing,” He put the pack within reach of my right hand. “Stay here until we are out of sight then make your way down. Get Kayo. The command is ‘haul.’ He’ll want to follow us, but keep him headed west. He’ll help you get there. Get hold of the Galactic Forces. Tell them it’s Klaid and his gang from the OmniCron Project.”
A scream ripped though the air. Jake’s jar clinched tight and he cursed under his breath.
“What’s keeping you Harcourt? I’m not going to wait much longer. You get your ass down here.”
“I’ve got to go. They won’t kill us for days. They want me. They want me to suffer. It will be Arr they will hurt most to get at me. Their psycho bastards.”
“I’m comin’ down,” Jake yelled.
“Don’t get out of this tree until you know for sure we're gone,” Jake ordered. He kissed my forehead. “Keep safe.”
“I’ll send someone back as soon as I can,” I said.
Jake threw his legs over the edge of the forked branch I was in and lowered himself out of sight.