For the first time, Teyata stared, not speaking.
“You’ve got to understand,” said Brad, “These tools are made so only the man on the table can wear them.”
Teyata vaguely nodded. She seemed to understand; just not accept the situation.
“Come on; let’s go,” said Brad.
“Aren’t you going to take them off?”
Brad paused in thought as he examined the bands.
“No, I think I might keep them… as a…” he trailed off, shaking his head. “souvenir.”
Teyata leaned into him in sympathy as they entered the lift.
The recording continued to play on.
“Once the stealth claw is fitted it cannot be removed for the lifetime of the wearer,” the voice said as the doors closed.
Teyata pressed the ascent button.
What did it say? Brad queried himself.
He couldn’t say. The recording said something about the wearer. Not giving it another thought, he waited out the long ride to the surface. Sunlight coming in through the glass doors at the entrance made a sharp contrast against the shadows at the rear of the reception area. Brad sighed, expelling his disappointment as he trudged forward meeting with the light of the day.
“Brad!” Teyata hissed urgently.
“What’s wrong with your claws?”
He turned his hand and saw flashing red words on the slitted screen across the knuckles. Assimilation complete. Only then, did he realise half of his arm still remained in the shadows of the reception area.
“They’re solar powered,” he blurted, turning back for the shade.
He made one step when a stinging sensation attacked his hands and feet simultaneously.
Brad began to claw at the bands.
“Help me get them off!” he shouted.
Teyata attempted to grab at one of his hands and pull the band off. She recoiled with a sharp hiss from the metal claws as they sprang free.
Brad tugged hard at the bands to no avail before relenting. He clenched his hand and thought about the claws. They sprang from the band so swiftly, it made him jolt.
“I ‘spose I’ll just have to work out a way to take them off later,” Brad said, as the claws retracted.
Teyata stared in fascination.
“Are you making them come out with your mind?”
He held up both hands in front of himself and willed the claws to extract and retract several times in rapid succession.
“Yeah,” he said, then winced.
The claws on his feet had skewered his boots and protruded beyond the toes. Willing them to retract, he led the way out of the door.
They rounded the next building cautiously, only to discover the bullwom had moved on. A brief walk took them to the main gate and a little beyond. Brad surveyed the open countryside in all directions.
“Do we go to the mountains now, or do you have more to teach me?” he asked.
“There’s one more task.”
“Ah, the final challenge,” Brad said hopefully.
Teyata looked concerned.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Not here,” Teyata said, looking away and nodding south- west. “A day and a half that way.”
“Let’s make it a day,” Brad said, tearing off at a fast run, compelling Teyata to follow.