Month: June 2016

Chapter 100: Dragon Knight

There were more mercenaries patrolling the hallways now.

“Judging by every videogame I’ve ever played, this is the right direction.”

A wave of agreement brushed across Burnout’s skin. Unimportant had started opening doors for him to duck into whenever he needed to hide. The patrols had started checking the rooms less thoroughly, but he’d had to be clever with his hiding spots more than once.

How many mercenaries were there? He’d seen Adamant take out at least a hundred just a few hours earlier. Even if they’d had twice that many on the streets, how did Trump get so many of them on the zeppelin?

Burnout passed the open door before he saw it. By the time he slid to a stop and ran inside, the shadows of the mercenaries were already edging their way around the curved hallway.

The room was mostly empty; the only place to hide was behind a freestanding counter in the center, packed with machines he didn’t have time to identify. He dove behind it. If the mercenaries decided to do anything more than glance in the room, he would be found.

The footsteps were almost at the door. It was tempting to hold his breath, but anyone who could hear him breathing wouldn’t need that to find him.

The footsteps stopped, and the sound of them entering the tiled room rom the hallway clacked into his ears. Something slammed into the ground a few rooms away. The sound of feet scrambling on the tile was brief and the mercenaries were gone.

Burnout waited until he couldn’t hear them on the carpet anymore.

“Thanks.”

Unimportant’s presence flickered in his mind. Burnout stood and brushed the dust off of his costume.

“We aren’t going to get there in time are we?”

“probably not” Unimportant’s voice echoed. He faded into partial existence a few feet in front of Burnout. “the patrols are happening more frequently…it is likely you will be unable to move without notice soon”

“What are my chances if I just fly past them?”

“you would attract the patrols…if you found trump or the ambrosia…you would be facing an army…and i would likely be left unable to help you”

He was right. Anything Burnout did to move faster would just paint a glowing target on him.

Flames started to lick the bottom of Burnout’s feet.

“what are you doing”

“Do me a favor. If you can’t find a way to lock that stuff up, throw it down a drain or something.”

Unimportant didn’t get a chance to answer. Burnout flared the flames at his legs and took off down the hallway.

It was a matter of minutes before the first patrol spotted him, but they barely had time to be surprise before he shot past. He couldn’t hear them shouting into their communicators over the rush of the wind and the roars of his flames, but he could only hope that they were letting everyone know where he was.

The next group of guards had already pulled out their guns, but Burnout wasn’t interested in a fight. He let his flames wash over himself. They grew larger and hotter and soon he was nothing more than a ball of blue-white fire flying through the halls of the zeppelin. The sound of their guns managed to pierce through the wall of flames, but the bullets melted before they reached him. The liquid metal cooled quickly after it reached his skin and fell off in pellets.

He couldn’t pull out his phone to check the map, but he knew the hallway had to end eventually, and he remembered a path that branched off and led to a large room near the back of the ship. Hopefully, there would be enough room to keep the mercenaries focused on him.

There was a hallway coming up, he hoped it was the right one.

He couldn’t turn at this speed. Burnout flipped and shot the flames from his feet as strong as he could without turning the hallway into the oven. He slowed quickly, but that was the easy part. A new jet of flames shot from his hand, twisting him until his feet were skidding on the wall. Burnout shoved off the wall, feeling the metal warp under the heat, and blasted down the corridor. The flames form his feet weren’t strong enough to stop the turn, and when he tried to compensate, he was thrown into a spiral.

He corkscrewed down the hallway, but he managed to stay in the air.

Before he was up to speed, he managed to hear shouts and stampeding footsteps coming after him. Hopefully, it was enough of them to put a dent in the patrols.

He found the room from the map. It was the hangar. It was mostly filled with helicopters, but a few spots had craft that looked like they belonged in a video game.

Burnout came to a stop and hovered in the center of the room. He only had a few minutes.

Burnout remade the shell of flames that had melted the bullets before. He wasn’t sure how long he could keep the mercenaries here. Adamant hadn’t been entirely right when he said that Burnout didn’t have a way to take normal enemies out of the fight. He’d spent the equivalent of weeks stuck in his own head with a dead dragon teaching him how to use his fire. In his head, the fire had been solid, and Azor claimed he could do that in the real world too. He’d just never gotten it to work without a few hours to concentrate on it.

“Okay, I’ve spent the last year and a half of my life throwing around dragon fire. Time to figure out what I can do with it.”

Burnout closed his eyes and held his hands out in front of him. Making fire solid was about a lot more than concentrating the flames; that was the first thing he tried and it just made them hotter. He had to change the property of the fire. The parts of him that understood the science behind fire cringed at the idea, but the part that had talked to a dragon inside his own head was a bit louder.

He felt the heat shield contract closer to his body. He could still only work with solid fire if it touched him, and if he did it right then he needed to be able to see more than the heat shield would let him.

The effort was getting to him. He could feel sweat starting to bead on the back of his neck. The armor formed around him slowly. He couldn’t see what it looked like, but with any luck it would look at least a little intimidating.

Next was the hard part. Burnout brought his hands together. The fire extended up between them, slowly tapering off to a point. It was almost twice as tall as him, but in his hands it was feather light.

Burnout flourished his sword in his left hand looked down. The mercenaries had entered the room, but their guns had dropped. He slowly allowed himself to drop to the ground.

Fire erupted from his back and he shot forward. He brought his sword high and swung it wide. Four mercenaries were struck by its blade and rocketed towards the wall.

Some of them managed to shoot, but the bullets either melted or bounce off of his armor.

“This will work.”

<<<Previous Chapter                                                                                     Next Chapter>>>

Advertisements

Chapter 99: Pain

Hawthorne flexed the roots wrapping around her feet and launched herself forward. The movement was familiar, normally it would almost be comforting. Right now, every step mad her heart beat a little faster and the sweat soak a bit further into her palms. And despite that, she could barely keep up with Allspades.

He had taken off the moment Will was out of sight. Normally she could match him, even at his full speed, but the twisting corridors of the zeppelin gave her no chance to build up speed. He barely glanced at the doors they passed, and she could hear him muttering under his breath at each one.

He turned a corner, and she had to thrust her foot forward to kick the wall before she slammed into it. Allspades drew further away. She had to forcibly rearrange the roots at her feet to send her down the next corridor. It wasted precious seconds and she had forgotten to breathe until she was already moving again.

She tried to call out to him, but didn’t have enough breath to make the sound leave her throat.

He pulled further ahead, and each step of hers was throwing her a little less farther than the last. He was already five doors away from her.

The root along her left leg stiffened too soon. She managed to get her right leg beneath her before she fell, but she felt the muscles in her hip stretch and roll as she pulled herself forward. There was a sharp pain that vanished almost as soon as it started.

Allspades turned a corner ahead.

She tried to kick the wall, like she had before, but when she twisted to kick with her left leg, something in her hip moved the wrong way. She flipped over her side and her back slammed into the wall. A heavy thud echoed through the metal, but the sound didn’t reach Allspades.

The roots retreated back into Hawthorne’s clothes. The pain in her hip had faded, but a dull ache still throbbed deep in her muscles.

Allspades turned another corner and was out of sight. She tried to call out to him again, but her throat was dried and the cracked sound that came out was too quiet to echo down the halls. She gently pressed two fingers into her leg and had to grit her teeth against the pain.

She would probably need to make a crutch. If she was really lucky, she might be able to limp without one, but she wasn’t going to be catching up with Allspades.

Hawthorne leaned back against the wall and gasped for air. She tried to pull an apple from her vest, but the seed refused to grow in her hand.

How long had it been since she’d woken up in her office? She’d lost track of time, but it had been almost dawn when they teleported onto the ship. She’d never used her powers for this long before, and she felt drained in a way that she couldn’t describe. Whatever energy fueled her powers had dried up, and she didn’t know how long it would take to get them back.

She needed to rest, possible even sleep, and she really needed something to drink. But first, she had to get somewhere she wouldn’t be found.

Hawhtorne managed to claw her way up to wall and rest her weight on her good leg. She kept most of her weight on the wall as she stumbled down the hallway.  The first door she came to held a small conference room; there hadn’t been anyone in there when the spell hit, but a tray of water bottles was off to one side.

She grabbed one and hobbled to the closest chair. Even the half a steps worth of weight she put onto her leg was enough to send stars flying across her vision.

She took a drink and stared at the door.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Allspades ran. Paige’s voice had grown quiet, leaving only a vague pulling in one direction.

Trump. King. Thomas. The names burned in his head.

King was there. He was in the middle of some scheme or plot that would almost definitely end with him on top, just like it always did. But for the first time, he didn’t want King to win. But more than that, he needed to be the one to stop him. Because he might be the only one who could talk him out of it.

Or maybe he was just kidding himself. Paige could have talked him out of it, Queen could have convinced him, but he had never been the kind of person to talk his way out of a fight. He wasn’t going to avoid a fight, no matter how much he wanted to.

With that thought burning in his mind, Allspades ran. The sound of his footsteps echoed in the empty halls. There was no one who could stand between him and King.

He stopped.

Hawthorne wasn’t behind him, and he had no idea when she disappeared.

He felt the pull toward King grow stronger; he could be getting the Ambrosia already.

Allspades turned around and ran back the way he came.

<<<Previous Chapter                                                                                     Next Chapter>>>

Chapter 98: Information

Trump had managed to open up most of the doors on the zeppelin; he shouldn’t have been able to do that. The only doors that remained closed led to the most sensitive and fragile sections of the ship. The hallways leading up to them were lined with cameras and scanners. They could recognize a person’s height, gait, power signature, DNA, and anything they had to eat in the last three days. If anything didn’t add up, then hallway would be sealed off and pumped full of a sedative strong enough to knock out the most resistant walker.

Will had barely taken a step into the hallway before every door between him and the control room slid open. Despite that, he didn’t run. Beck’s computers had a tendency to make life difficult for anyone who looked like they were trying to rush through the security system.

The control room was empty. Even before the spell had hit, it was completely abandoned. There were almost a hundred monitors spread across at least forty workstations, and unless the zeppelin needed a massive overhaul, they would remain unmanned for the next ten months.

The monitors started flickering on and off when Will walked past them, creating an almost unnoticeable hum that slowly grew louder as more and more monitors stayed on. The bottom of Will’s spine started tingling by the time he was halfway to the central station.

A raised dais in the center of the room held a single chair with half a dozen monitors in front of it. If Beck were there, it would have lowered itself for him; the computers made Will take the stairs.

The monitors clicked to life in front of him. For a moment, he was bathed in blue light. One by one, the monitors turned off, until only the center was on. A thousand images flashed across the monitor, appearing for only an instant before shrinking down, until they took the shape of a face.

The computer’s voice lacked gender and tone. Every syllable sent an unpleasant shiver running down Will’s spine.

“Identified, William Writer. Sensors and cameras have confirmed a state of dormancy among 98% of the population. Armed intruders have been detected on all floors. Your authorization level has temporarily been increased to the maximum grade. State your request.”

“There’s no time for this game. Talk normally.”

“Of course. Good evening, Will. What can I do for you?”

Will took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He was certain the Ambrosia was onboard; Slipstream had insisted on referring to it by any number of names to avoid the myth; he’d settled on Power Nectar after the weeks they’d spent looking for it. There was no doubt that the document Unimportant saw was describing Ambrosia. But that meant that Slipstream had held onto it for nearly a decade; it meant that Slipstream had been lying, to him if not the entire Council, for years.

Will opened his eyes and looked straight into the digital pupils on the screen. “Is there a sample of Ambrosia on board?”

The face froze on screen. It only lasted a few seconds, but Will could feel every heartbeat before it answered. “Yes. A sample of PES 492: Power Nectar, also known as Ambrosia was retained for experimentation by Beck industries after its destruction proved inadvisable. Mr. Beck had it brought onboard as a safe location for further testing.”

Will thought he felt the ship shaking, it took him a second to realize it was just him.

“Where is it?”

“It is currently on the 18th floor on subsection C of the Western quarter of the ship in Lab 15. Unfortunately, this lab is off limits to all personnel not currently taking an active role in its research. If you attempt to approach the lab, all security protocols will activate.”

“Of course they would. What if an intruder was already present? Could emergency access be granted?”

“Security personnel are allowed access in such situations. Given the current situation, you are authorized to deputize temporary officials.”

“The four who came with me, make sure they can get in anywhere they need to. Then give me access to the PA so I can talk to them.”

“Using the PA is inadvisable. Enemy troops are patrolling the hall and destroying any camera in their path. Your allies are hard pressed to avoid notice. Any announcement they were capable of hearing would alert the intruders to their presence.”

Will shut his eyes and sighed. If he wanted to let them know about the lab, he’d need to get closer. But he didn’t have the time to wander around looking for them. “If you get the chance, let them know.”

Will hopped off the dais. The computer’s face followed him along the monitors.

“Where are you going?”

“If it’s just me, how long can I keep them out of the lab?”

“If there were a single entrance, you may be able to guard the lab indefinitely. However, you could only defend one entrance at a time without resorting to excessive force. The moment they find another entrance your defense would fail.”

Will kept walking.

“None of your allies have been registered in any major conflicts. Their chances of surviving an incident with the Amborsia are-“

“I am well aware of what that stuff does. If I want to keep it out of Trump’s hands, then I need help, and they’re the only backup I have right now.”

“If you fail, they will die.”

Will smirked. The light of the monitors grew dimmer, as the computer’s face followed him to the door.

“They’ve gone against threats above their paygrade more times than they should have been able to survive. This won’t be enough to keep any of them down.”

“It seems you are confident in their abilities. Is that why you are acting again?”

“At the moment, I am the only walker of the appropriate level to handle this threat. What little respect for the job I have left won’t let me stay idle.”

“You are lying, Will.”

“Am I?”

Will left the room.

<<<Previous Chapter                                                                                     Next Chapter>>>