Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Four: Help

The squirrels found Titan Blue first. Though she never knew it. She thought it was the sky dwarves.

Driscol’s fast track had not spirited Blue as far away from the Non army as she might have liked, and when she reappeared she recognized both the terrain and the heavy tread of her former compatriots, indenting the grasslands. She’d been tossed maybe an hour’s trip away from the Non rear guard, and that, she feared, was not nearly far enough.

She couldn’t return to the Non. She was wounded, and couldn’t move at their pace. Emmett’s creatures would almost certainly find her before she found any of her friends. She had to flee - and a Non of her size would not find flight at all easy.

Trudging across the Imperium as part of an army was bad enough. Long hours over rough terrain tore into the body, especially a body as large as Blue’s. Now, on her own, she had no access to even the meagre supplies provided by Kierkegaard. Blue tired easily - or easily for a Non, which, compared to any other species, was not easily at all - and her pace as she meandered east got slower and slower with each passing hour. She reduced her size to cut down on the strain, but that only accomplished so much.

And it was hot. So hot. Even frequent rests beneath trees, or as frequently as Blue could spare, were not enough to drive away fatigue. Blue knew she couldn’t stay in one place for too long. By now she was no doubt branded a traitor, and hunters would be coming for her. She had to keep moving, to create a gap between herself and the Non that was so large that the chances of her being found were slim to nil. And then…

And then…

And then.

Well. There was only one option for Blue, wasn’t there? Only one. And she knew she had to pursue it, at long last, the course she should have taken ages ago. At least now she had some proof that her decision was correct, even if it meant actually becoming a traitor. She could deal with that, if it meant getting that house she’d always wanted, the house so big that it made everyone else’s house look teeny-tiny by comparison. She wanted that house so badly right now.

The first attack came three days after Blue’s escape.

Blue was resting in a small canyon, feet submerged in a cool brook, when she spotted the sky dwarf zipping overhead. It was alone, a rarity among their kind, and it appeared to be scanning the area with its buggy red eyes, moving slowly. It spotted Blue before she spotted it, and the moment their eyes locked all of the fatigue and pain that’d been slowly washing out of Blue’s body flared back into action.

The sky dwarf tried to flee. Blue immediately grabbed a large rock, aimed carefully, and pegged the bastard before it could get too far. Unfortunately, its crashing descent into the trees below, as well as its piercing screech, caused a lot of noise… and brought the rest of the sky dwarves to bear on Blue. She managed to kill six of the seven, taking only flesh wounds in the process, but one got away. So much for rest.

Attacks came each day from then on, often two or three times a day. Usually they consisted of squads of sky dwarves carrying Emmett’s hybrid monstrosities, the latter dropped onto Blue’s shoulders. None of them were bigger than a, say, a fox - the sky dwarves weren’t terribly strong - but each little nibble took its toll, and each battle ate away at Blue’s energy reserves. After the first week of constant flight and fighting she was on her last legs, unable to rest for more than a few hours a day, always wondering when the bigger troops would catch up with her.

Blue’s ‘last legs’ endured for another half a week. By the time she spotted the airship she was on death’s door, practically begging to be let in. At least then she wouldn’t have to walk anymore.

Despite the haze lingering over her vision from a lack of sleep, food, and water, as well as an over-abundance of paranoia, Blue recognized the airship at once. She’d only ever seen one airship in her life, after all, and this one more or less exactly matched the craft from the gathering of the zombies, some heavier armour aside. Normally she might have given her greetings some thought, perhaps even second guessed herself, perhaps even wondered why there was a giant vine wavering alongside the ship, but her mind was far too exhausted to do any such thing. She simply raised a hand to the airship, hoping to grab someone’s attention before -

The first werewolf leaped up from beneath and bit Blue’s exposed armpit, dangling from her flesh. She bellowed and brought her arm back down, crushing the werewolf’s head. Its body pulped and fell away, but its head remained, embedded, and Blue ignored it.

More werewolves came in short order, snarling, snapping, and chittering inane laughter. One leaped onto Blue’s back, clambering up her spine to get at her neck. She tried to trigger her body-tremoring power, but she was too tired and too sickly, and it didn’t work. She tried, feebly, to swat the beast away, and succeeded - only to have two more werewolves take its place. They bit into her back, tearing at her skin with their claws. 

Blue fell to one leg. She swayed her body from one side to the other, trying to toss the werewolves off, but they were relentless - and more came for her, an entire pack, surrounding her and ripping into her. They were joined in short order by more sky dwarves, at least a contingent, an army, the entire species, their buzzing wings eclipsing any other noise Blue could possibly have heard - though given that the only other choice was the gnashing of werewolf teeth, she accepted the buzzing willingly enough.

Blood dripping from hundreds of wounds, both fresh and reopened, Blue raised her hand to the ship again. She closed her eyes.

The cannons went off.

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