[Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Epilogue]
The girl yelled something like "The Muqata! Kavvana in Tefilla: Mission (mostly) Impossible!" but I didn't have the leisure of considering a reply.
My head hit the plasma while my fingers grasped the creature, trying to pry it off Steve's head. It's stinger switched from futilely trying to impale Steve to trying to skewer me. I was also kelvar'd, so safe as long as it didn't go for my face.
Steve was rapidly losing air, but after a few more rolls on the floor, I finally managed to pry the thing off Steve's head. It squealed and squirmed in my hands and I threw it into the far wall, where it hit the colored wires and landed on the plasma with a thud. Steve lay gasping for breath.
"My piece!" I turned to the girl. "Where's my gun? What happened to it?"
"Boker Tov Boulder!" The girl looked terrified, but she shook her head, negatively. "Times Blind to 'Tens of Thousands'. Ignoring Israeli day parade!"
No time. I dived for Steve's pump, turned and fired at the creature. My head felt like it was going to explode, but I got the thing just before it managed to sneak away around a corner. Green fire and sparks danced along the walls.
A modicum of silence returned. Either that, or my hearing was finally gone.
The girl began to weep. "Aliyah Blog! Advice for Guys who are Shidduch-Dating in Israel. Common sense!"
Steve was finally sitting up and taking stock of himself. I crawled over to her and she put her head on my shoulder. "Uh, there, there," I awkwardly said.
"Rabbi Without a Cause. Teshuvos haRWAC 1:1 - Bringing back the Renegade Rebbetzin." Her sobbing settled into sniffing.
"You'll have to stop doing that," I said, although whether I was referring to the crying or the speaking in tongues, I didn't know myself. "Steve," I called over, "what's our status?"
"Our status?" Steve snorted again. He was re-strapping the pump to his arm, stopping evr once in a while to sweep his hair away from his face. "Our status is that we're still four clicks in Kylie's locker, he's sending everything he's got at us to kill us, we may or may not have rescued the legendary Haveil Havalim who, by the way, doesn't exist and who is supposed to know the antidote to your fatal ... condition, which, by the way, is going to kill you in ... " he checked his timestamp, "eighteen minutes, but who is apparently wrecked up on a babble job and so can't tell us a damn thing. I'll be sure to write you a nice long book about it when we're out of here."
"No worries, Steve. It will all work out ... or it won't."
"Now you sound like Woochie. Come on, let's keep moving."
Off we went. The next two clicks were relatively peaceful, which made me nervous. I was beginning to think that this was entirely too easy.
"What's he up to?" I wondered aloud.
"Shiloh Musings," the girl answered. "Different Mentalities/Cultures. Arabs, Jews, and Japanese."
"Huh. Don't I know it. So how did a nice girl like you end up in a hellhole like this, anyway?"
"A Simple Jew. Not supposed to be a burden ... shabbat, that is."
"Oh, you're no burden, sweetheart. I hear you have a few secrets locked in that neural gray mesh in your head. Like how to derez a simstick toxin. If you don't, I'm afraid our relationship is going to be a short one. Watch your step here. Sigh. I'm too old for this."
"West Bank Mama. Age is in the eye of the beholder. Don't look back."
"Ain't that the truth. You're supposed to be a damn legend, but you don't look more than twenty-two, twenty-three years old. How did you manage to survive down here, anyway?"
The girl put her hand to her hair. "Treppenwitz. No apology needed for surviving. Rocks are lethal."
We continued like this for some time. I was just talking to myself, while she provided a stream of babble in return. Can't say it was much different than my usual conversations with women, actually. Except for Woochie, of course. She was cool.
Steve held up his hand, and we came to another stop.
"We have two clicks til the exit, but we should be able to get comm before we get out," said Steve. "Kylie'll probably throw something else at us before we get out, and if I know the bastard, it will be whatever we least expect. We've only got 15 minutes left, and I say we run for it. What say you?"
"Yourish. Stupidest idea of the year. Moral equivalence rears it's usual head."
"I'm with her," I added, "but go for the gusto, as my mom said before falling off the cliff."
Steve grinned at us. "OK, on three. One ..."
I balanced my strap and took the girl's hand.
"Media Backspin. The caption said what?"
"Let's go, honey."
And that's when all hell broke loose.