Monday, October 20, 2014

Page 861

Hector could only watch the Lord Najir in awe. The one glass handle could only sustain Asad’s movement for a few seconds, but Asad created more on the fly, alternating between handles and platforms as he pleased, striding and soaring through the open air with such apparent ease and swiftness that Hector could hardly believe he and Asad shared the same ability type.

The Blackburns kept him busy, bombarding him with fleets of copper and cesium that he had to deflect while also keeping Sabas pinned down. They seemed to have regrouped very quickly, somehow.

Careful, they’re all using pan-forma,’ said Garovel, and Hector understood why their three reapers had vanished from sight all of a sudden. ‘Even headshots won’t kill them now. You’d have to obliterate their entire bodies or tear their reapers away from them--neither of which you’re capable of doing.

Had the circumstances been less dangerous, Hector might have taken issue with how ridiculous that all sounded, but here and now, doubt was a luxury that he could not afford. He took Garovel at his word, and instead simply asked, ‘What should I do, then?

Same as before. Asad needs space to breathe. Provide it for him.

Jada was doing precisely that, Hector saw. She’d lobbed a cooked grenades at Silvia, which exploded before even hitting the ground and blew a chunk out of the woman’s face. Silvia dropped but didn’t stop moving, and Hector could see her head regenerating just as Garovel had said--and with speed he’d never seen before, even. Combined unrelenting gunfire, Jada had certainly earned the woman’s attention and would doubtless be receiving an overabundance of cesium momentarily.

Hector was already sprinting by this point. And because he had the distinct impression that trying to coat Silvia Blackburn in iron would be about as effective as attacking with a feather pillow, he instead decided to materialize an iron chain in his free hand, broad and strong as he could make it. When he drew close enough, he chucked it at her with all his strength, and it caught her around the torso, huge links wrapping around her but still not stopping her.

A hail of exploding cesium came for Jada, and the young woman only managed to dive partially out of its path, losing her left arm, shoulder, and ear in the process. It did, however, buy precious time for Hector.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Page 860

Hector looked up to see that he was being ignored. And for good reason, too.

Asad was no longer on the ground. Rather, he seemed to be running on thin air, and it took Hector a second to notice the barely visible platforms beneath him. They didn’t even touch the ground. The platforms were already moving in midair when Asad stepped on them, pushing him upward or outward or any which way he desired while the Lord Najir showered his opponents with an endless storm of glassy spears. So many at once, Hector saw, crashing down through the heavy rain and sticking into the pavement or shattering against each other.

It was all the Blackburns could do to weather the attack. Fidel’s copper cage could hardly keep up with all the holes Asad was carving into it; Silvia had to focus on exploding the spears before they reached and skewered her; and Sabas appeared to have turned his whole body into a metal statue, sealing his own movement in exchange for making the quartz blades break ineffectually against his body.

Titanium transfiguration, Hector recalled from Sabas’ file. Not the deadliest power but one that made him particularly difficult to kill, and if he was allowed to provide cover or a distraction for the other two, then it could be very problematic.

At the moment, however, Asad seemed to have the situation rather well in hand.

Jada had moved away from the battle and was now standing by behind a madega, busying herself with her firearms. Plural, Hector realized. He’d only seen the one handgun before, but she’d apparently been keeping a whole armory beneath her robe. The grenades especially caught his attention.

Hector still wasn’t sure what her power was. Garovel had asked, but for whatever reason, the Najirs had kept that information to themselves. The reliance on firearms perhaps suggested destruction type, but now was not the time to be giving the matter more thought.

Soon, the Blackburns were buried in gigantic mound of shattered quartz. But they were certainly not dead yet, and now Asad’s own glass was in his way, so let up on his attack and began dematerializing his work.

The Blackburns, of course, saw this as their opportunity to counterattack, and likewise, Asad seemed to predict as much. He leapt off his platform and grabbed a glassy handle that was already in motion, and for a brief moment, the man was flying--pulled quickly forward via the handle’s momentum.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Page 859

Rather than responding, Fidel merely let the heavy atmosphere linger. Only the occasional booms of distant thunder and battle above broke the oppressive stillness.

Guess he’s not going to bring anyone,’ observed Garovel.

Hector could see a wall of rain approaching from the other end of the street, could hear its noisy patter growing quickly louder.

Asad decided to strike first. With a mere flick of the wrist, the six rear Blackburns had glassy spikes bursting out the top of their skulls. They dropped immediately, all dead.

Fidel, Sabas, and Silvia attacked in unison, all gunning for Asad.

Don’t let them gang up on him,’ said Garovel, touching Hector’s bare hand.

That familiar vigor burned through him, awakening every muscle in his body and rendering his armor no heavier than a blanket. Garovel retreated halfway underground in order to observe the fight a bit more safely, while Hector bolted forward, armor clinking with each rapid step he took toward the closest opponent.

Silvia Blackburn, it turned out to be--a lanky woman with big green eyes and short black hair. Her file had mentioned her explosive ability. Cesium materialization. Dangerous even in a novice’s hands due to its violent reaction with water and tendency to spontaneously ignite in air. And Silvia had already been a servant for twenty-five years.

She noticed Hector’s approach right away and doused him completely in her silvery-gold liquid metal, which instantly set itself ablaze and engulfed Hector in blue flames. This, of course, was not enough to stop him from charging, so Hector just powered through.

And then she clobbered him with a block of frozen cesium the size of a bus.

Hector went flying, toppling, bouncing, and scraping across the open road. And that was also the unfortunate moment when the curtain of rain caught up with him. Each raindrop popped with the force of a firecracker when it touched him, reacting to the still-flaming cesium. On the one hand, it put out the fire; on the other, it caused a chain of explosions from every direction at once, pummeling his plate armor and rattling him so furiously that he could only flail like a fish on dry ground.

When the explosions finally subsided, his fist slammed against the pavement, and he struggled angrily back to his feet. The armor had done its job, even if it now bore so many dents as to look like he’d crafted it out of crumpled paper. Haqq’s shield still looked pristine and untouched.