(THE BATTLE RAGES)
* Levi *
How much pain could he stand? At what intensity would he pass out? Would he be dead as his flesh was ripped from his body? Levi mused as he stood on the rocky hill overlooking the aliens gathered in the hot desert valley below. From a distance the Simiansí long golden hair glistened, giving the appearance of a vast rolling field of ripe wheat; however, he felt little comfort from the misleadingly gentle scene below. He felt like a lost child, as he reluctantly started toward them.
As he approached the aliens, the tranquil scene slowly transformed into a vision of horror. The only seemingly earthly illusion to their features was a slight resemblance to apes, which initially led to the popular acceptance of the name Simians. After that hint of earthly association, their appearance turned utterly alien. The Simiansí sandy, almost dirty white skin could be seen unnaturally contrasting with their golden hair. Red reptilian eyes held him in an unblinking stare. Rows of black, fanged teeth reflected the midday sun, and upon closer inspection, appeared almost shark-like. The triangular teeth made a ghostly clicking sound as they vibrated together, interlacing like meshing gears. In their agitation, the black teeth were not completely covered by their meaty gray lips, allowing the reverberating sound to escape. A loud chorus of the eerie clatter emanated from the hundreds of gathered Simians. The sound echoed throughout the valley, straining the ears and nerves of the Human army. He could feel the vibration, but the sound disturbed him most. Ironically that sound reminded him of a rattlesnakeís warning rattle, ironic also in the danger they represented.
Respect for "Levi the Legend" was readily apparent, as the churning golden sea of Simians nervously parted allowing him to pass. They hopped in excitement on their thick legs, communicating in that high-pitched screeching. He sensed no immediate threat from them and continued walking through the forest of towering Simians toward the waiting Gord. Levi hoped his fear did not show, while his insides shook and fear screamed in his ears. He asked Amy telepathically, "Are you with me? I donít want to be alone."
Amy softly responded, "I am always with you Levi. You are never alone."
"I know Amy. I just feel alone."
As he approached, watching the hulking Gord, his eyes missed nothing. Amy gathered data from his senses and planned. She would also detect the fear boiling inside, threatening to explode.
He accepted the one-on-one challenge screeched from Gord, the Simian leader. The Humans were losing the battle and he really had no choice. Had he refused, the Human army would be destroyed and all hope for the Human race would be lost. At least this way they had a fighting chance, slim as it was. It was all or nothing, live or die.
The Simianís code of honor would ensure that this fight would be a fair, one-on-one contest. Of this he was confident, but what a joke; this Simian, Gord, would almost make three of him! "Hell Amy, I ím already overmatched. This is the biggest damned golden giant I have ever seen."
"That may be so, but there are two of us, and we have him outnumbered!" Amy then flashed a smile in his mind.
He chuckled in spite of the situation, but it still didnít seem fair ... to him! If, however, he could defeat this undisputed Simian leader, his colony would be in chaos. Who knows what could come from that, maybe even survival for the Human race, certainly no less was at stake! The only problem was surviving!
He was Levi Walkingbear, Native American Indian. Well, half anyway, and he walked proudly, holding back the fear churning inside. He tried to appear brave for the benefit of all the Humans, his army and for the gathered Simians. Strength, courage, and fighting abilities were all that mattered to the Simians. It ruled their society and governed their numbers; certainly, Gord ruled this horde of giants in this way.
* Gord *
Gord wanted to destroy this animal slowly and feed on its pathetic screams. He happily watched the animal approach. He had killed uncounted scores of animals such as this one for both food and pleasure, preferring to eat them while they yet lived. He relished in the horror he inflicted on the animals, but this one would die slow and painful for all to see.
He stared at this stupid animal! Its body was hairless except for the head, which had long black hair braided down its back. The hairless skin was bronze from this worldís horrid single sun. The eyes were also bronze like the skin and stared directly into his. This lack of respect offended him, but disrespect would end soon. Its body was muscular, but very small, hardly half the size of an average Simian. He observed strong muscles rippling under thin skin on its exposed arms. Loose animal skin covered the body, supported by straps over its small shoulders. The narrow feet were covered with heavy looking black animal skin, and it carried a small sword extending no longer than its arm. This was humorous!
Gord released his challenge in a strong loud screech! Unfortunately, this indigenous race lacked the intelligence to understand their speech. He wished he could to tell this animal what he intended to do to him. He wanted to see the terror in its small bronze eyes as he ripped him apart.
Since the exodus from the dying home world of his race and invasion of this planet, each surviving space ship became an independent colony with autonomous leadership. He ascended to the leadership position of his colony by combat and remained in control by successfully defending the position from all future challengers. This had been easy for him, because of his exceptional size and fierce aggressiveness. Gord, a giant among giants, stood a head above other Simians at just over three Arms (9 feet) and weighed twenty-three measures (575 lbs). During his rule over the last forty years he had killed fifteen Warriors in single combat challenges for his leadership position. With the average life span for his species at two hundred of this worldís seasons, he was still very much in his prime at only seventy-five seasons. His rule could easily last decades more.
The animal army was nearly defeated but Gord refrained his warriors. He wanted to personally destroy this animal in single combat to reinforce the fear he commanded over his colony. No one had challenged him in more than ten seasons, and he desired to recapture and reinforce the respect of his colony. How could he do that if no one fought him? Of course, no challenger stood a chance, and most even openly cowered in his presence, but he wanted to show off. Gord loved to force his will on others and see the panic; he fed on this fear. The entire colony of six hundred Warriors gathered to witness his slaughter of this stupid animal. He would toy with him, defeat and humiliate him, and tear and eat his body as the animal screamed in horror in a slow death. Next, he would complete the destruction of the pathetic animal army.
He granted this animal the respect and honor of fighting for leadership of the colony in front of his Warriors to dispel any misguided respect given to this animal by his Warriors. They would see how futile resistance was to his will. Of course this Human had no chance, but rumors of this animalís victories had spread throughout his colony, and he wanted the rumors of his victories to die along with this animal.
The native dominant species animal of this world was small, weak, and good only for food and minor labor. The species had once possessed great technology that had almost stopped their invasion, but his race had destroyed that technology by use of a doomsday ray. The ray destroyed all technology on this world instantly including their own, but he had little use for technology, preferring swords to lasers. Since the destruction of all advanced technology, no animal had ever again posed any threat. This one had been the only exception in the fifty years since their race landed. According to rumors, this animal had killed at least thirty-five Warriors in combat in the last few months. His Warriors were actually showing respect to this animal. Unbelievable!
* Levi *
As he neared Gord, Levi felt the calming telepathic touch of Amy, his symbiotic source of life and soul mate. Amy existed as a self-aware (living) computer who had shared his mind telepathically for the last year. She provided the means to wage this war with the Simians and extract some measure of revenge he so desperately wanted. Amy had augmented his decrepit and dying eighty year-old body and reversed his aging. Not only did he now enjoy restored youth, but she had also given him incredible physical abilities. Amy functioned through his conscious and subconscious mind to manipulate his DNA to adjust and control his body like musician might play a piano. He really didnít understand how she did what she did, but it worked.
Over the last year he had experienced the exhilaration of superhuman skills and abilities he hadnít learned or could have ever imagined. What a rush! Amy wouldnít admit, it but he believed she shared, and liked, his rush of emotions when he fought. Human emotions were new to Amy and she was hungry to experience them through their mental contact.
Levi fought many of these Simians in the last year. Mostly, he had fought just to survive, but they now openly waged war against them. All the engagements had been hard-fought battles. The Simians were enormous and extremely quick, but Amy was with him as he fought. Hell, she actually did the fighting, while he felt the exhilaration and, unfortunately, the anguish and pain of battle. He made the physical movements, but the ideas and plans flowed telepathically from Amy. So far he had obviously survived, but this would be the ultimate battle and he felt a premonition that he might feel the bite of death.
The closer Levi got, the larger Gord seemed to loom in his sight and the greater his fear grew. The quivering in his chest and thighs grew stronger, and he began to perspire. He seldom experienced fear and struggled to control it. He tried thinking of Amy.
Amy once told him that she had taken his body to the ultimate limits of its physical abilities and found ways to modify even those limits temporarily. He had felt her modify his body in many strange ways; once he felt fangs grow, as he bit the throat and life out of a raging Simian. In one bizarre experience he fell into a lake and his body miraculously grew gills. He also fondly remembered when Amy compressed his body, so he could squeeze between two boulders and escape attacking Simians.
Amy never ceased to amaze him with what she could do with and to his body; what skills he would instantly know; and the things she saw, smelled, heard, felt, or even tasted through his body senses. This incredible ability saved him countless times from ambush or in the heat of battle, by smelling a Simian in time to react, or hearing something he had not heard. Even more amazing, Amy only heard or smelled what his senses detected. In reality, her only input came through him. It must be her massive intellect and brain capacity that made the difference. Whatever the reason, Amy perceived more from his senses than he. She once saved him from drinking poison and another time she revived him when he had been mortally wounded, maybe even dead. There seemed to be no limit to what Amy could do if she was challenged, but could she save him from this monster now? He had doubts, not of her, but for his limits. He simply felt that he was no match for this moving mountain.
As Amy continually told him, the secret to not being killed is not getting hit. A hit from one of these golden giants would sever body parts! So far Amy had succeeded in keeping him alive through her actions. With her direction, he saw, felt, and experienced intricate and complex maneuvers of martial arts, some of which Amy must have choreographed herself. Certainly, the Masters of old never knew some of the new attacks and defenses she deployed. Timing however, ticked by far too close for his comfort, but Amy always remained unconcerned and said, "A fraction of an inch, or second, is the same as feet or minutes as long as the sword misses." He had to grudgingly admit Amy was right, as he still had all of his parts! However, he would feel far more comfortable if the misses were by feet and minutes.
Amy had constantly been with him, helping and supporting since they merged, and he felt Amy with him now. He must have faith in her abilities, but the doubt remained just the same. After all, this Simian was not being taken by surprise. This monster stood ready for him, and Gord was immense! The additional stress of carrying the future of the Human race on his shoulders also worried him. If he lost this battle, it would all over in many ways. There would be a banquet tonight and he would be the main course, along with any other Human they desired. If this was a modern day story of David and Goliath, he didnít have a sling. Why hadnít Amy thought of that?
Amyís beautiful image impressed in his mind, smiled, trying to calm him. The long, dark hair accented an olive complexion of a small, pear-shaped face. The deep liquid green, slightly wide set eyes shone bright as always. He could drown in those eyes. The short, cute nose set above her beautiful, cupid bow lips now stretched in a wide smile. It was an irresistible smile. Amyís beautiful mouth was accented by those deep dimples he loved so much. He loved that Amy created this image just for him, and it truly did calm him.
Not only was Amy needed for this battle, but also because he loved her beyond understanding. He could not do this without Amy and wouldnít even want life without her. No words were needed; Amy would see the love in his thoughts. She rewarded him with another knowing smile.
If he died in this battle, the Human army would eventually run like rabbits. Oh, they were brave enough, but they never won a battle against a Simian until he and Amy showed them the way. Mostly, he had done all the killing initially, but his new friends, and ultimately followers, had taken strength from his victories, gaining courage and, most of all, hope! Together they had defeated a Simian army. The battle had been in self-defense, but it committed all of them to this war, win or lose. They would carry on after his death, but it would just be a matter of time before they were hunted down and killed.
* Amy *
She had fear too! If Levi were to survive, it would take all of her skills. She strengthened his muscles, making them grow and harden, extended his arms and legs to give him reach, opened all communication channels and sharpened his senses. All Leviís sensory inputs would be needed if they were to survive this, their greatest test of all. After sharing Leviís mind and body the past year, she was very familiar with the workings of his mind, which had long since been mapped. She had explored the limits of Leviís body and just how far it could be stretched. All of this knowledge would be needed now.
This opponent would kill Levi if any of his blows ever connected. Gord was simply too big and too strong! Levi could only win by wits (hers), agility, and endurance. Gord would have to be worn down and killed. They would have to make Gord fight and stay out of his way, while his strength waned. If they could not outlast Gord, then they would die. It was that simple.
Levi needed to gain confidence, and Gord needed to lose some of his. She tighten Leviís facial muscles to make him appear calm, straightened Leviís back, put a wicked smile on his face, and calmed him internally by altering his chemical balances. His body must be relaxed to prevent any muscle restriction from slowing his movements in the coming battle. She was tempted to have Levi chant, "I do believe. I do believe," but decided this wasnít the best time for humor. Instead, she smiled at him, mentally communicated, assured Levi she was with him, encouraged him, reminded him what they had already accomplished together, and promised him the instructions to his mind and body would be provided when they were needed. "Trust me Levi," she said, "you are my life, too. If you die, so will my heart. We will survive and our love must survive!" Levi responded with a mental smile and touch. Amy felt his love.
Only together could they survive. Amy and Levi depended on each other to live, but they had taken their relationship far beyond just a symbiotic association. They were one, yet they maintained separate, and many times, conflicting identities. Neither of them believed they would develop love, yet they did, both the deep mental love and, surprisingly, the passion of physical love as well. She didnít even know what love was in the beginning. They had fought for dominance ever since they met, but somewhere along the way it ceased to be a battle and became a relationship necessary to each of them. It was not necessary as the symbiotic relationship the body required, but necessary in the sense that each needed the other to share their lives together. Each seemed lost without the other. Life was not something they wanted alone, because neither was complete.
She watched Gord as Levi approached. The huge brute radiated confidence. He was not the least bit intimidated by "Levi the Legend." The meaty gray lips curled up at the edges, demonstrating his evil intent. Was this brute actually smiling? She watched through Leviís eyes, analyzed, and planned.
The message and instructions passed to Levi, and Amy spoke through his modified vocal cords. As Levi walked toward Gord, his mouth spoke in the impossible screeching language of the Simians saying, "I have come to kill you and remove your head from your body as a trophy. I will remove a fat black tooth from your big mouth to join my trophy necklace." As Levi spoke he shook his trophy necklace of Simian teeth to accent the challenge. Leviís voice was deep and resounding, even shocking him. Every Simian present heard the amplified screeched words. The reaction was immediate and gratifying. The gathered Simians nervously clicked their teeth in agitation and hopped from leg to leg, while the shock to Gord was far more pronounced. His heavy brows shot up and his blazing eyes opened wide in amazement. The smile vanished. Yes, they had gained a tactical advantage.
Never before had any Human understood or been able to converse with a Simian, but many things became possible with her help. She had been storing data on their language since their first encounter and had developed a sizable vocabulary of the Simian language. Her data banks held a massive amount of the screeched language, but learning the break down and meaning of the words posed the problem. Her total recall of the language in use had provided the initial means to begin developing a working use of the language, but it wasnít until their Simian friend, Moon, provided the understanding of the words that the education began in earnest. She now had a vast vocabulary and working knowledge of the screeched language.
Knowing the language and having the ability to speak it had been useful in the past. She and Levi had utilized the Simian language and her ability to shape-shift his body to resemble a Simian to infiltrate the Los Angeles Simian colony. That mission had been successful and allowed them to free some captive and other friendly Simians like Moon.
She intentionally kept Leviís ability to understand the Simian language a secret, hoping for a future advantage. This provided the perfect opportunity to use this knowledge and ability, increasing the "Legend of Levi" and creating doubt and shock in Gord. It had been most advantageous to wait and it served them well.
* Levi *
With Amyís help he waged war on the Simians to take back the Earth from these cruel oppressors. He had almost single handedly started this war, as no real opposition had previously been waged against the Simians since their invasion and defeat of Earth. Actually, with Simians, starting a war didnít seem the proper term. Standing up to them and avoid being killed was a more accurate description. Filled with a long lifetime of hate for the Simians along with his revived youth and strength, an overwhelming desire for revenge returned. What started out as self preservation, slowly turned into an organized resistance, closely followed by developing armies, which finally led to war. Everything that happened seemed to lead to this fated moment.
Everyone that trusted and depended on him gathered on the battlefield and now stared at him as he passed. Most had seen him fight many battles and accomplish feats of extraordinary abilities. They had learned to expect miracles, but even as he shook the Simian tooth necklace, he saw the fear of doom in their eyes. Their voices shouted confidence and hope, but the eyes betrayed their true feelings. He took some small comfort from those that blindly felt absolute and total confidence in his abilities. None knew of Amyís existence and believed him to be some sort of super Human being. Sometimes he even felt like that himself, red cape and all.
It can be strange what you think of when you face death. As he faced death now, he didnít worry about himself; he felt sorry for Amy. If he died, she would revert back into a prison of total sensory depravation. He could not imagine how lonely and frightening it would feel to be cut off from all sound, taste, smell, sight, and feeling. As a small child he remembered being terrified of the dark, but that wouldnít begin to describe it. When the Simians destroyed Earthís technology, Amy lost all data inputs and plunged into total darkness. A Human would go insane, but Amy survived fifty years of this agony until their minds touched. She escaped that prison through him, and he didnít want her to experience that again. It would probably be a blessing if she died with him, but that was not possible.
It was hard to admit, but he would miss the hot desert sun, the dusty, barren and rocky terrain, and the beautiful desert sunsets. He would miss the many close friends he had made, both Human and Simian, but most of all he would miss Amyís love. It sounded egotistical, but he also felt sorry for the Human race if he died today. He and Amy were their only hope.
His mind spiraled down in self-pity and depression, even as he felt Amy modify his vocal cords and screech out the challenge to Gord. Suddenly, he realized Amy was chastising him to break him out of his current mental state of doom. Finally understanding Amyís intent, he fought to regain his normally rational and optimistic mind. As his mind raced for control, he continued the mechanical walk toward his date with destiny.
He thought of many things. At eighty-one, death didnít seem so terrible, and he was prepared to die. However, he didnít want to die. There was so much to live for now. As if drowning, he watched his life pass in front of him. So much had happened in his long life, but this last year had been the most incredible and exciting time of all. How had he reached this point? As he walked toward Gord, his mind wandered back to the beginning.