Sanko’s eyes filled the holes in her mask. “Where did you get that?”
“My grandson, Diego,” said Octavia. “Said he nearly killed himself trying to use it, so he thought I would like it as a birthday present. He is now my favorite grandson.”
“You fool,” said Sanko. “Do you know whose bones those are?”
“You’ll kill half your allies. Or all of them.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. I’ve been practicing. It is pretty terrifying, though, isn’t it? Are you sure you still want to fight us? I promise we won’t think any less of you if you decide to back down now.”
“Quaint. But your trinket won’t stop me. I faced the monster it belonged to, you may recall.”
Octavia frowned. “Did you really? Y’know, I was kind of hoping that was just a rumor.”
“You are an amusing person,” said Sanko. “I only wish I were better at holding back.”
“Oh, I know the feeling. It’s quite frustrating, isn’t it?”
But Sanko was through talking, it seemed.
The Gargoyle took a single step, and a series of ripples ran across the pavement as if it were a pond, unsettling the Rainlords’ footing for a moment before the ground came shooting up all around them in a dozen geysers of living stone.
Octavia responded with a flash of her blade, and shadow gushed forth, pure blackness, enveloping the six of them in a brief cage that exploded outward, knocking the rocks down and letting the Rainlords free.
By this point, they were already merging with their reapers.
Zeff could feel his mind shifting. Ax’s mind was there now, too. He could feel every emotion that Ax felt, share every thought as if it were his own. And the memories. They were an ocean. A thousand lifetimes, and hardly a thing forgotten. Names and faces, histories and places, firsthand knowledge and endless information.
The pan-forma merge completed itself. The normal enhancements paled in comparison to this feeling. This was beyond adrenaline. This was fire with all of the heat and none of the agony. Burning in glory, flirting with death, certain in the strength of their two minds.
When the moment passed, and Zeff and Axiolis returned to the present, they were already mid-stride, running adjacent Rayen and Evangelina. Santos and Socorro were running with Octavia in the opposite direction.