Sunday, March 26, 2017

Page 1387

I sense two more worms approaching,’ said Garovel.

As do I,’ said Iziol, who was attached to Dimas’ back. ‘Straight ahead. They’ll be here in under a minute.

Hector might have complained if there was time for it. Instead, he and Dimas rushed back to regroup with everyone else.

Zeff had joined Asad in shouting out orders for everyone. When he noticed Dimas and Hector, he had a few words for them as well. “Dimas, focus on restoring the train. We will provide cover.”

“I should be defending,” said Dimas.

“No, our priority is getting out of here. Even after we kill these next two, more could show up. Understand?”

Dimas gave a nod of affirmation and flew off again.

“And you,” Zeff went on to Hector, “help with the train, too.”

Nonsense,’ came Qorvass’ voice. ‘The boy is one of the best distractions I have ever seen. Stay close to us, Hector.

Hector supposed that was a compliment, but he honestly wasn’t sure how to feel about it.

Zeff looked as if he wanted to argue, but the increasingly violent earthquakes deterred him.

They’re here,’ said Garovel.

Hector saw someone launching attacks before he even saw the worms. It was Darktide, he realized, already using pan-rozum to propel mercurial javelins off into the darkness. They exploded on impact, illuminating both beasts momentarily.

They were bigger than the first one, Hector noticed, and different in skin texture as well. Where the first had been a bundle of wrinkles, these looked smoother, and he even thought he saw teeth this time as well.

The explosions kept coming as Darktide maintained his attack, apparently keeping the monsters stunned, and everyone else took the opportunity hurl some of other own projectiles as they all moved up together, wanting to put more distance between themselves and the train but also not wanting to get too close.

Page 1386

The sheer force of it was enough to knock Dimas back, a shock wave that sent the man toppling through the air, and a hundred smaller worms spiraled after him heat-seeking rockets.

Hector and the others intervened, and a storm of projectiles came to the man’s rescue. A cluster of explosions was the result, and smoke clouded the aftermath.

Worms began dropping like rain, splattering on the ground in blackened piles.

More and more fighters were coming out of the wreckage of the train now, and Hector could hear Asad shouting again.

“Hurry!” the Sandlord was saying, as entire cabins were being lifted up and realigned via platforms of quartz or other material that Hector didn’t immediately recognize. “To the tracks! Keep everyone in the train!”

And Hector saw what the man was doing, what he had pointing at before. The train tracks that they’d strayed so very far away from. Asad meant to get them back there, to get the train moving again.

Hector didn’t know how feasible that plan really was. The train was in pretty bad shape. But for the moment, he was more concerned with making sure that the worm really was dead. He rushed closer, only to see Dimas smashing the many worm husks into dust with gravitic pulses.

Yeah, they looked pretty dead, Hector decided. They? It? He still wasn’t sure what to think of everything he’d just witnessed, but he figured he should worry about it later and go help everyone with the train.

“Dimas!” Hector shouted over the noise of the man’s work.

And Dimas apparently heard him, because he stopped.

Hector was about to tell him that he should help with the train, too, since his power would potentially be more helpful than anyone else’s in that regard, but he didn’t get to. Because even though Dimas wasn’t stomping the worms into paste anymore, the accompanying tremors had not.

Page 1385

He concentrated. The largest flying object that he’d made was a modestly-sized boulder, no bigger than himself, and throughout his testing over the last few days, he hadn’t been able to supersede that limit. But here and now? When it really mattered? Could he demand more of himself?

The answer was no, he discovered. As he much as he focused, he couldn’t make the boulder larger. And he couldn’t make two boulders, either--not without decreasing the size.

He didn’t know what he’d been expecting, really. That would have certainly been too easy.

As soon as the worm became more than a silhouette, Hector pitched his boulder forward at cannon speed, along with a host of other projectiles from the other Rainlords.

The beast leapt up and over the assault, spinning through the air again and flinging sludge in all directions.

The Lord Dimas Sebolt was there to meet it, and the air in front of the man distorted it visibly as a gravity well caught the worm in midair, halting even its centripetal motion and suspending its acidic sludge as well.

Wide-eyed and mouth open, Hector just stared at the scene before him.

Electricity stirred in the beast’s mouth, crackling and bristling with power before it spewed out at Dimas, but the man avoided it easily enough.

Or seemed to.

The lightning arced around in a flash and caught Dimas in the shoulder, causing him to falter but not release his hold. Smote and smoking, Dimas circled around to the worm’s side, farther away from its mouth. It spewed more lightning, but it was entirely ineffectual this time.

Hector breathed again. For a moment, he even allowed himself to wonder if the threat had been neutralized.

Then the worm split apart.

Page 1384

The cabin was on its side, Hector realized, and the wall of podded Rainlords was above them, threatening to fall and crush all of the militiamen in the room if not for his complex array of iron keeping everyone and everything in place. He reinforced his work along the top with thick iron pillars and freed the militiamen as well. They were slow, but Hector was glad to see that they were moving. He helped Selena onto her feet and hurried out of the cabin with the Hun’Kui militiamen following.

With the vigor from Garovel pumping through his veins and muscles, Hector jumped up onto the side of the fallen in order to get a better view of things.

A literal train wreck. Many of the floodlights were still working, at least, and they offered limited illumination of the surrounding environment. More people were appearing from the wreckage, but he didn’t the worm. Not yet, anyway. He doubted that it left them alone.

Someone was already trying to turn one of the cabins over, he noticed, and someone else was yelling. Oh, at him, apparently. And it was Asad, too.

“Hector!” the Sandlord was saying, while pointing with both arms. He was saying more than that, but Hector could barely make him out of the defeated train’s metallic groans. And the growing rumbling.

Rumbling?

Yeah.

There it was. That gargantuan silhouette, slightly lighter than the rest of the darkness in the distance.

Hector jumped down and tried to prepare himself. To concentrate. Against an enemy like this, it was difficult to imagine what he should do, what he could do. If there was anything at all, it had to be related to the recent breakthrough he’d made. That was the only thing going through his head.