De Lancre was on his knees, curled up in a near fetal position, as Kepa and Maite approached him. They watched as his arms twisted in unnatural ways, the nanobots fixing the broken limbs and torn flesh. He was much more serene as the nanobots must also have been administering some local anesthetic, which made Kepa shiver even more, realizing that Latxe had disabled that effect when her nanobots had attacked him.
As they got close, de Lancre looked up, a cold steely look in his eyes.
“I admit,” he said as his body continued to contort and snap in ways that made Maite grimace. “I didn’t think you had it in you.”
“Had what, exactly?” asked Maite.
“The cold ruthlessness to take what you want.”
Maite shook her head. “We don’t. We stopped her from killing you.”
De Lancre laughed. “You would have been better off letting me die.” He began to raise one hand, the broken fingers twisted in strange directions but snapping, as they watched, back into their normal position.
“No,” said Kepa as a gun materialized in his hand and he held it to de Lancre’s temple. De Lancre lowered his hand.
“Guns are forbidden here,” said de Lancre matter of factly.
“Latxe’s control of the nanobots is pretty amazing,” replied Kepa. “Now where is the zatia?”
“Or what? Are you going to shoot me?” asked de Lancre. He looked across the room where Latxe stood in the doorway, her form silhouetted by the lights behind her. He nodded at her. “She might be able to do it.” He then looked up at Kepa, shaking his head. “But, I don’t believe you can.”
Kepa tossed the tablet back toward Latxe, who caught it in mid air. “You are right,” said Kepa, as he lowered the gun. “But this time, I won’t stop her.”
De Lancre stood up, his body more or less back to its normal shape, though there were some hideous cracks as he stretched his legs. “Seems we are at an impasse.”
He looked up. A massive skylight above them revealed the night sky. It was bright, with as many stars as Kepa could ever remember seeing.
“This time,” sighed de Lancre, “is simply incredible. I’ve been so many places, so many times. This one just resonated with me. They’ve managed to solve all of the problems that your time has caused. The world is no longer dying. People everywhere have at least a modicum of dignity. It’s really impressive.”
“And still, you couldn’t resist to use us as your toys,” snarled Latxe from the doorway.
De Lancre turned to face her. “It was nothing personal. And, it will all be gone, as if it never existed, the moment I claim the zatia.” He turned to Kepa and Maite. “So, what now? If I can’t kill you, you’ll just keep coming back, over and over.” He sighed again. “You’ve ruined everything.”
“Just give us the zatia and this will be over,” said Maite.
De Lancre shook his head. “I’ll end it, but it will be me claiming the zatia.”
The black sphere that Maite had seen earlier floated into the room and hovered in front of de Lancre. She made a lunge for it, but it jumped up and out of her reach. De Lancre shook his head. “No, it’s mine.”
“Just get it over with,” barked Kepa. He looked over at Latxe. “They’ve suffered enough.”
De Lancre smiled. “Of course.” The black sphere settled back down, stopping about chest height. De Lancre waved his hand over the surface of the sphere and it opened up. His face fell immediately. “Where…?” he began.
Maite could see that the sphere was empty.
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