It’s the kind of sound most people never realize they’re afraid of, the sound of a building realizing that something important is broken and, one by one, every piece of concrete and steel that is only held up by the piece next to it realizes that there’s nothing to support it any more. It isn’t the sound of some artificial thing being broken. It’s the sound of a living creature, a mythical behemoth, giving one last cry before it stops moving entirely.
The entire zeppelin was falling apart. It was being bulged outwards, pushed from a single unrelenting source. If this was a death wail, it was a more painful death than anything natural had ever experienced.
Allspades’ hands slammed into his ears, but his entire skull was vibrating. He was vaguely aware of Hawthorne sliding off of his back as she tried to cover her own ears. He stared into the undulating blob of reddish black light that hovered in the center of the room. He tried to focus on the blob, focus on getting closer to it, closer to King. He managed a step before the zeppelins wailing grew even louder and forced him to a knee. The mercenaries were all pinned to the wall by their weapons and ammo; they were screaming, but it was lost.
Allspades collapsed, his eyes finally dragged away from the blob. There was someone running down the hallway towards him. His mind slipped away, and finally, he couldn’t hear the sound anymore.
Allspades opened his eyes. He was being dragged, and he could see Hawthorne being dragged beside him, though he couldn’t see who was dragging her. He tried to call out; he knew he spoke, he felt the words echoing out of his throat, but the sound never reached his ears. A dull ringing echoed in his head.
The dragging stopped, and he saw Will looking down at him.
The half formed sounds echoed past the ringing. Slowly, the ringing was replaced by whistling wind.
“Allspades, focus. Can you walk?”
“I think so.” Allspades slowly worked his way to his feet. After a moment, he nodded.
“Good. We need to move. I don’t know how long this thing will hold itself together.”
The whistling grew louder, Allspades slowly turned. The hallway behind him led straight to the lab. The far wall was gone, torn away completely.
“Went outside,” Will said. “If we’re lucky, he won’t survive the fall.”
His gut twisted in his stomach. He either felt guilty for letting King die, or for not killing him. He didn’t know which one he’d prefer.
“can you carry hawthorne? i’d rather not have to keep dragging her.”
Unimportant’s presence slammed into Allspades; he flinched, and the ringing gained a little of its old strength. Will and Unimportant stared at him strangely, but he shook it off.
“Yeah…right, we’ll move faster that way.” Allspades easily lifted Hawthorne and cradled her in his arms. He glanced around. “Where’s Burnout?”
“I heard him fighting earlier. We’re going now.”
Allspades almost asked another question, but Will and Unimportant started moving, and he realized how stupid it was to stay still and talk. The thought started the ringing again and spots swam before his eyes and faded almost instantly. That wasn’t good, but it would have to wait.
Will led the way, which was good because Allspades had to focus too much on not falling to think about where he was going.
A blue light filtered through a door ahead. Will headed straight for it, and led them into a massive room.
Burnout hung in the air, armored in flames that moved unnaturally slow. Dozens of mercenaries littered the ground. A few were still fighting, aiming their guns at Burnout with a defeated look in their eyes. Will swept his hand and they dropped their guns as if they were scalding hot or as if they had come alive and tried to bite them.
With their guns gone, Burnout was able to sweep them to the side with his sword.
Will pointed at a helicopter, and Burnout flew straight for it.
“can you fly that?” Unimportanted asked.
“I’ve done it before. We didn’t die.”
“that’s not as comforting as you would hope.”
Will hopped in the cockpit and started flipping switches. Unimportnat seemed to stare at him for a moment before clambering in back and turning to help Allspades get Hawthorne into a seat.
Burnout’s hand appeared before him with a pair of headphones. Allspades slipped them on and felt better almost immediately. The ringing still echoed in his ears, but there were no other sounds for it to bounce off of. He managed enough coordination to buckle his seat belt, and then he felt the helicopter lift up and out of the hangar. He watched the zeppelin out the window, slowly sinking beneath the clouds. The ringing faded a little more, and he slowly remembered the last few hours.
His eyes widened.
“There were people-“
“They’re fine,” Will said. “Beck employees will be teleported off immediately.”
“The mercenaries?” Burnout asked.
“The computer will do what it can. And there were enough of them conscious to get to some of the other copters.”
Some of them wouldn’t make it. Allspades knew it, and he could tell the others had figured it out too. They sat in silence.
“Uh-“ Hawthorne had shifted in her seat, she had woken up with her head against the window looking down at the city below them. “Is that building sliding away from the street?”
Allspades looked down. It wasn’t just the one. Four buildings were moving, bulging outwards or actually ripping from their foundations. Houses built to withstand earthquakes were starting to fall apart. At the center of the destruction, Allspades could barely make out a single figure walking down the street.
“King’s alive.” Someone said something. Allspades didn’t listen. But he got the message. He unbuckled his seat belt and moved to the door. “I can get to him the fastest. Get there as soon as you can.”
Allspades opened the door and jumped.