Saturday, October 25, 2014

Page 865 -- XCIX.

At length, Asad simply gave up, instead choosing to add several more layers of glass to the pyramid around Sabas. Then he raised a platform beneath the prison and pushed it along behind him while he ventured over to collect Fidel’s severed head.

Hector annihilated his own work, revealing Silvia’s flattened corpse, splattered against the pavement in gruesome enough fashion that it actually made Hector grimace a little beneath his helm. He’d seen plenty of carnage before, of course, but it usually involved people who were still moving and regenerating. This brought back some of the more horrible things he’d witnessed. He had to remind himself that Silvia wasn’t actually dead.

Garovel floated up behind Hector. ‘Her reaper fled underground. We will be seeing Silvia Blackburn again, it seems.

Oh well,’ said Qorvass. ‘Two out of three isn’t bad.

I see you’ve decided to spare their reapers after all,’ said Garovel.

You disapprove?’ said Qorvass.

Quite the contrary, in fact. It’s nice to see a bit of mercy on the battlefield for a change, and I’m sure they’ll make valuable hostages.

Indeed.

They started back for the tunnel together with their captives in tow. Hector queried Garovel about Asad’s tattoos, but the reaper didn’t seem certain and so posed the question to Qorvass.

By the way, why were Asad’s tattoos flashing yellow?

Trade secret, I’m afraid.’

Ah.


Chapter Ninety-Nine: ‘The Siege of Rheinhal...’
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Dunstan Rofal was not enjoying his new position very much, even if it was technically a promotion. All in all, the Rainlords hadn’t pressed their assault very hard, but every time they did, he ended up directly in their line of fire thanks to his station in the southwestern tower. A week ago, Rhein’s Keep boasted four towers, but the two easterly ones had since been knocked down.

A host of Vanguardian servants protected his tower from the outside, but only Dunstan had the privilege of occupying the tiny Watcher’s Nest at its peak. There simply wasn’t space for another person, not with this beastly, swivel-mounted .50 caliber HMG in the middle of the chamber. It had an ammo feed up through the floor, which one of Dunstan’s comrades attended to.

For the most part, though, he didn’t get to use the gun. His primary job was simply to keep watch, as per usual, and whenever an enemy did happen to come within firing range, they were typically repelled by someone else--often Cpt. General Miles. And so, whenever Dunstan DID get to use the gun, it naturally meant that he was in imminent danger of being obliterated along with the entire watchtower.

And that was not a very pleasant working environment.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Page 864

Sabas was certainly getting his share of hits in, but Asad was hardly budging at all. Even when a titanium fist--no doubt with enhanced strength behind it--connected with his bare skull, the Lord Najir barely even flinched. But it also made something else happen.

With each blow that Asad received, his tattoos flashed golden yellow, lighting up for an instant and then returning to black just as quickly. Hector wasn’t sure what he was seeing, but he didn’t get the chance for further observation.

She’s breaking out,’ warned Garovel, accompanied by the sound of cracking glass.

Hector went to work on a gigantic slab of iron high above Silvia’s head. He could see that Silvia had coated herself in cesium, which seemed to be reacting with and corroding the glass; and after a few more moments, the cracks grew, and she was finally able to break herself out of Asad’s glass, at the cost of having melted much of her skin via her own cesium.

At the very second she was free, the iron slab was right there to greet her. Having started its fall at only about eighty meters above the ground, Hector knew from his own practical studies that it didn’t have nearly enough altitude to achieve its terminal velocity.

But that didn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt.

The slab crushed her into the pavement. The impact force kicked up chunks of road all around the slab and sent them reeling into vehicles and buildings, even right past Hector.

Nicely done,’ said Garovel.

And Hector waited, wondering if that was really enough to keep the woman down. He seriously doubted it, though it did seem to have bought them some more time.

Jada walked up from behind. She didn’t say anything and instead offered him a nod of approval.

Asad seemed to be finishing up. He carried a helpless reaper in one hand while in the midst of extracting the other from Sabas’ glass-encased body. Fidel had been skewered in a dozen different places and no longer seemed to be regenerating, perhaps because his pan-forma had been forcibly ended. Hector was immensely curious how Asad had accomplished that and so paid close attention to him trying to extract Sabas’ reaper, but Sabas appeared to be making it impossible. Even Asad couldn’t pierce the man’s titanium flesh, which Hector intuited to be a necessary step in the procedure.

Page 863

Hector flew into the side of a car, which did not survive the impact nearly as well as he did. His weight collapsed the cabin like tin foil, but Hector certainly appreciated the softened landing. He could feel a few bones snapping back into place as he stepped back onto pavement, parts of the vehicle’s shattered frame clinging briefly to his armor.

Already, Silvia had completely regenerated. It couldn’t have been more than thirty seconds since he took his eyes off her, but all that melted flesh, even the missing arm, had returned. Only her shredded raincoat and still-smoldering vest remained as evidence of the attack she’d endured.

Jada was on the move now, bounding over fences and behind vehicles in search of fresh cover while cesium erupted in her wake. Hector helped her out, materializing a half-dozen iron logs above Silvia’s head, granting them spikes for good measure. That bought Jada some space, while Hector thundered headlong into the breach for the third time.

A spear of frozen cesium shot toward him and broke upon his shield, causing him to miss a step and stagger to his right before finding his feet again. Silvia doused him in liquid cesium another time, but Hector was prepared. He stopped moving as soon he heard the splash against his metal and added a much thicker layer of iron to the armor. The iron popped out all at once, shaking off most of the cesium before the rain could cause it to explode. A few splotches remained, but it was only enough for Hector to hear a handful of light pops from within his now brick-like iron shell. The cesium all around his feet was busy going off like a ring of fireworks as he annihilated his extra layer of iron so that he could move again.

Silvia seemed ready to receive him when a pyramid of solid quartz materialized all around her, sealing her movement.

And Hector stopped, abruptly unsure what he should do. Silvia Blackburn merely stood there, eyes moving while the rest of her was stuck fast, as if she were being preserved for posterity.

Hector looked toward Asad, who did not seem to be having very much trouble on his end. Fidel was suspended in the air, impaled on a huge glass spike while his melted arms and legs all struggled to regenerate; and Sabas was locked in hand-to-hand combat with Asad.