Chapter 34: Machines and Monsters

Good evening! The deadly battle continues and we see that Lucio has bought in some new weapons to fight Rent’s rebellion with. Their power is like nothing seen before in this world.

Enjoy!

 

Morning that day was not a fanfare of luminescent brilliance, but a slow pale brightening, akin to the paleness of fear. And it was fear that whitened Raychel’s face when she surveyed the sky.

Three monstrous silhouettes surrounded the tower, settled in the sky.

Raychel quickly took off and flew toward one. One of the silhouettes turned around, and a single white hot blue eye glared balefully at her. The air in front of her crackled and she swerved off to the side. The machine was jet black, with a thick squat body. Claws of metal stretched forward over the eye, like gargantuan pincers, and thick arms reached downward to the ground, covered in a sickening blue purple haze. Further behind, four fins of metal branched out from a white light. The whole machine was so large it eclipsed the tower, and Raychel estimated that it would take her three seconds to fly past the whole machine.

A shrill whistle pierced the air, just at the edge of her hearing, and the machine quickly turned around to follow her, its baleful blue eye glowing. Raychel saw pinpricks of light and veered off. A flash of red blinded her, and she flew off into the sky. The machine pursued her silently.

Jack peered at the shadows hovering in the sky, and gasped as one of the shadows took off in pursuit of a flying speck. He took a step back as a boiling blood red bolt stained the sky, and immediately began calling out orders. Around him the monkeys jumped to life with their incessant chattering. As the cloud of noise from the battlefield wafted up, Jack shivered from genuine terror. Whatever those shadows were, he could not beat them.

Kant Dragar kept his thoughts to the men in front of him, barreling through the sickeningly soft and weak defenses. His eyes were alert for any flash of silver. He could do nothing to defeat the war machines in the sky, so he ignored them.

Rent growled in frustration, his mind quickly calculating. The cannons would not hit the machines, since they were too far away. He glanced up and saw the purple haze in the sky and knew another storm was in the works. He called Scrimm- “Fry them!” He barely had time to wonder what they were, but he only know that if the machines weren’t stopped, he would lose.

Raychel danced in the air, avoiding the crimson energy blast and the hail of silver that the machine was firing at her. It chased her through the clouds, and above the clouds, she hung suspended in mist for a moment, the sun shining brilliantly on her. The machine shattered the cloud and she flew off again. The energy blasts were strikingly familiar, and Raychel remembered, at the edge of her consciousness, the two beings that had captured her at Cyranus after Charistra had defeated her. The Tamrunes. Weaving through the hail of death, she circled the Tamrune weapon, looking for a weak spot.

 

Scrimm uttered a few words, and ominous rumblings echoed through the sky again. The wind picked up, and Scrimm heard the fluttering of his cloak before anything else. He peered and picked the flying monstrosity closest to them and called out a signal. Quickly lightning arced through the machine, and a white flash temporarily blinded Scrimm. He cleared his eyes and saw the machine hovering improbably only ten yards from the fortress. He called out an order, and was blinded as the machine fired.

 

Lucio surveyed the scene with distaste, and shook with shock or anger as he watched the right wing of the fortress collapse. “That”, he said, “is not the way to fight the enemy”

Eclipsius beside him replied, “This is total warfare. This is the war you should be waging. Efficient. Effortless.”

Elith said, “Lucio, if you went out there to fight, the result would be the same. You would single-handedly dominate their army. Your scruples are misguided.”

 

Jack glanced in horror as the right side of the fortress vanished, collapsing with an otherworldly groan. His thoughts went to Rebecca first, but realizing that she was kept in the hospital ward under his feet, he fervently thanked chance. His face turned pale as he saw the machine turn toward him, and as flickers of red lightning danced across that baleful blue eye. The machine fired again and Jack closed his eyes.

He felt nothing.

He opened his eyes just in time to be blinded by a flash of white light followed by a thunderous roar. The white light subsided and he saw tiny pieces of metal drift to the ground.

A wave of anger rolled forth from Elith as he cried out, “What just happened?”

“Someone put up a barrier just in time”, Lucio whispered, half admiring the quick reactions, but irritated that it had be used against him. “Eclipsius, are your machines using Flux in those energy bolts?”

“If you call it that. It is definitely the same energy that those Librarians manipulate.” Eclipsius replied.

“This is unfortunate.” Lucio continued, somewhat scathingly. “Even your war machines are at the mercy of magic.”

“Mercy? No one said anything about mercy.” Eclipsius droned on. He held up a flashing silver orb. “I will have them annihilate the ground forces while the men in the fortress watch helplessly on.”

Lucio shivered and said, “No need of that, Eclipsius.”

“It is already done.”

Scrimm lay on the rubble, fully conscious. He had ordered his men to set up a barrier, and he was very pleased with their work. And with the personal barriers too. All but one of the Librarians had thrown them up in that instant, and all but one of them had survived the blast and the collapse. His face was covered in dust, and he coughed, a dry polite sound. Quickly he thought: “Do not worry. We are fine.” and sent the message to Rent. His violet eyes taking in the sight of the exploded machine, he laughed.

 

Rent sighed with relief from Scrimm’s message, and immediately began barking out orders. “Medics to the right wing!” he called out. His bronze hair dancing in the wind, he tasted victory, like the first scent of succulent dinner hours before a feast. The scent of victory vanished as he saw the third machine angle itself and fire at the ground.

Kant Dragar felt the electricity in the air grasping at his body before the white light hit the ground far away from him, and felt the pain of his essence being ripped apart. He flew through the air into a crowd of bears, unconscious the whole way.

Raychel barreled through the clouds, chasing the machine. They were entangled in a curious chase where the pursued chased after the pursuer. “If I could just cut it apart!” she said.

Catch it first!, Arin exclaimed.

Raychel sped up, the wind whistling past her ears, until she could no longer think. Finally her outstretched hand felt the coolness of metal. She climbed onto the machine, holding on to whatever ridges she could find in the metal. Staying flat to the machine, she crawled to its rear, where the fins stood. The heat that the machine threw off burned her fingers, and it was only by suppressing her screams of pain that she could move on.

Those fins keep it stabilized. If you can cut one of them off, it won’t be able to control itself! Arin said.

Raychel grinned and swung her sword into the fin ahead of her. She missed, and crawled closer, the sweat flying off her face. The second swing cut into the metal with a shower of sparks, and with a screech that cut through the whistling of the wind one fin flew away, spinning in the air, leaving behind a mere tangle of wires and coils. Immediately Raychel was flattened against the burning metal as the machine started spiraling out of control, leaving a trail of smoke staining the sky.

Suddenly Raychel screamed in agony as a bolt of pain shot through her head, as if it had split apart into fragments of her mind.

Raychel! Arin’s voice cried out. I’m being suffocated here-

Raychel Everstar. Born in the year 10083 in Month Five– a toneless voice reported, flat and distilled.

Even this crown, Raychel realized, was a Tamrune artifact. And it was trying to take over her mind…. Another bolt of pain slashed through her skull, and Arin’s voice grew weaker.

Class X90 Exterminator: 79-68-57-46-35-24-13——-[FAILURE]

At that moment, the white light burned out, and the machine, with a final whine, began to drop. Raychel thought her stomach had flown into her mouth, such was the speed of the drop, and with a quick thought she let go of the machine and hung suspended in air.

Unknown Artifact: [][]][]] —- [Hover]

Raychel grunted in exasperation and reached behind her neck, running her fingers down and searching for that distant coldness. Her fingers felt a shard of metal and she yanked it out, her teeth clenched. In her hand she held a flashing piece of metal, a triangle less than half the size of her finger, and very thin. It was covered in her blood, and she felt the throbbing and sharp pains of the blood running loosely down the nape of her neck.

Silently she watched as the machine plummeted beneath her, enveloped in a cloak of fire and torn apart by its own speed, and laughed savagely as the machine crashed against the ground, far away from the site of battle. She slowly descended amidst the crackles of voracious flames and watched it burn. She paused for a moment, looking up at the sun and at the rapidly approaching clouds, and then flew off.

 

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About Neil Viswanathan

A college student that loves knowledge, music, and writing.
This entry was posted in Bridge over the Abyss and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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