Sunday, February 11, 2018

Page 1528

That meant only one of two things, really. Either there was a third power at play here, aggressive toward the Vanguard and therefore a potential new ally; or one of his lovely subordinates had recently acquired a substantial power boost.

He hoped it was the latter. Abolish always had a use for new rising stars, and it had been a while since he’d gotten to promote someone. It was always a nice feeling, getting to see dramatic growth in the youngsters.

Except when it went to their heads, of course.

Jercash sensed Horace’s rapid approach with fifteen or so seconds to spare.

Horace was one of his stronger subordinates. He’d mastered pan-rozum almost completely, which was quite the threatening boost for his manganese transfiguration ability.

Jercash sensed the man’s pan-rozum merge from more than fifty meters away, which was more than enough warning, really, even if the man had been one of those ever-annoying light wielders. So Jercash had plenty of time to react. He even had time to realize that it wasn’t himself who was being attacked but Vanderberk’s reaper, the unconscious Elinox.

Trying to create yet another opening in upper management, most likely.

Sadly, as much as Jercash might have liked to let Vanderberk eat shit here and die permanently, that would ultimately be counterproductive. So he raised Elinox out of the way of a sudden bed of manganese spikes and batted away the incoming javelins as well.

To his credit, Horace seemed to realize his failure immediately, but even by then, it was too late. Jercash was already on him, having found the man’s neck with his free hand.

Both of Jercash’s hands were full now--Horace’s neck in his right, and Elinox in his left. But that wasn’t a problem, because he just grew a third hand out of his chest. This one was made mostly out of beryllium, as per his transfiguration ability, but it functioned just as well.

He used it to rip the reaper right out of Horace’s body, along with a few ribs, muscles, and organs. Horace collapsed immediately, and Jercash set to work freezing his head, though he deliberately took his time with it.

“Horace, Horace, Horace,” said Jercash, shaking his head. “What am I going to do with you?”

Horace couldn’t answer, partly because his lungs needed time to regrow and partly because of the lingering disorientation that came with leaving a hyper-state.

The man’s reaper was still conscious enough to talk, however. ‘F-forgive us, Hahth Jercash! I don’t know what came over us! It was madness! We would never dream of standing against--!

“Shh-shh-shhh,” hushed Jercash, squeezing the reaper enough to cause concern but not to kill. “As the saying goes, I’m not angry with you. I’m just disappointed.”

The reaper was apparently too afraid to respond now.

“A blind frontal assault from fifty meters away?” said Jercash. “Really? Did you learn nothing from me? It would’ve been so much smarter to act casual, get up close, and then try to kill Elinox.” He indulged in a pause for timing. “It still wouldn’t have worked on me, but it definitely would’ve been smarter, is all I’m saying.”

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