Monday, October 12, 2015

Day Nine-Twenty-Two: Charge

They found Kierkegaard and his Nothings within sight of the ruins of Rodentia four hours later. There were, as described, ten of the enormous orbs - and Kierkegaard stood at the heart of the cluster, at his full height, grinning maliciously with his bird’s skull of a head.

“I don’t understand why he’s doing this,” Dragomir commented, throat dry. “He’s lost. Why keep going?”

“He hasn’t lost,” The Baron replied. “He just wants to kill. He’s accomplished that goal in spades. I think he’d be content dying in a fight. And this promises to be a hell of a fight.”

Dragomir’s eyes wandered from one Nothing to another. They were an intimidating force, no doubt - yet they all had many battle scars, testaments to battles waged alongside the Non and on their own. One was limping slightly, because its left leg appeared to be damaged. Another had a wide spiderweb of cracks crisscrossing along its top. Yet another bore an enormous hole in its flank, exposing a network of complex gears large enough to be seen even from this distance. None of them appeared to be pristine.

“We could really use Barrel for this,” Dragomir muttered. “I wish he hadn’t taken off after the shit with Grayson. Eva, too, wherever she is. Assuming she’s… still… alive. This won’t be easy.”

The Baron shook his head. “No. No it won’t. And I can’t help but wonder if we should perhaps hold back - ”

Dragomir’s glare silenced The Baron. He didn’t need to say anything else.

The Imperium’s remaining forces, a ramshackle line of damaged cannons and weary troops, stood between Kierkegaard and the imperial capital of Rodentia. The moment the first of his Nothings came within range the Imperium opened fire, their innumerable blue banners fluttering in the backdraft of their cannons. Through some miracle, the first of the Nothings went down almost at once, and Dragomir’s heart lightened.

The sensation didn’t last for long. The Nothings didn’t have quite the same range as the cannons, and weaving around their fallen, burbling comrade took some time, but once they’d reached striking distance the great machines unleashed an ungodly, screaming torrent of harpoons that made Dragomir quiver. They punctured the lines of the Imperium with relentless ferocity, destroying weapon emplacement after weapon emplacement and killing soldiers with every stroke. Kierkegaard raised his arms triumphantly, somewhat dwarfed by the Nothings all around him, and Dragomir imagined the penguin’s ungodly cackle.

We don’t have superiority by numbers anymore, Dragomir thought, considering just how many troops he’d left behind to watch over the Non. We’ll have to settle for individual strength. Let’s see how this plays out.

Nodding to Libby, Dragomir went belowdecks. Behind him his wife immediately began to bark orders, and the guns of the Sky Bitch opened fire, sending reverberations throughout the ship. Dragomir had no trouble remaining upright; The Baron, following close behind, was not quite so sturdy, and he bounced off of the bulkheads as he tried to follow the younger man at a brisk clip. They made their way into the ship’s small cargo hold, where several figures waited for them.

Despite the tension of the situation, Dragomir took a moment to look around at the faces staring back at him. They were all familiar, and most of them, despite sordid pasts, were friendly. He smiled, and most of them smiled back, though grimly. They knew what was coming. They knew what they’d volunteered for.

“You ready?” Dragomir asked.

“Yep,” Cedric said. He was clothed in a wide cape, but Dragomir knew his arms were withered and almost useless in the aftermath of Doc’s death. His legs had somehow retained their original power, though, and he stomped them gently against the deck, leaving a tiny indent in the metal. “Whoops.”

“Yez,” Antonio said. He was covered in scars from the previous battle, but looked ready to fight nonetheless. His characteristic smile was gone, and it had been since the death of his sister. Dragomir had never known if Antonio understood who the alpha female of the werewolves was; apparently he had.

“I… I guess so,” Plato stammered. He passed the rat on his shoulder to Dragomir, who set the wise little creature on the ground. “But… I don’t know how much… how much I can do…”

Eve nodded mutely.

Not enough, Dragomir thought. Not nearly enough. But it’ll have to do on such short notice.

The Sky Bitch, still firing, descended. Someone - Dragomir suspected it was The Baron, but in the sudden haze of sound and fury he wasn’t sure - opened the cargo bay door, and the ground loomed a short five foot drop below them. Air blasting him in the face, Dragomir dropped out of the door first, knowing that by all rights he needed to be first, even before his battle-hungry daughter. She landed with a puff of dirt beside him, coughing lightly as she did, and the rest followed.

The Sky Bitch lifted off. Dragomir changed into his Non form, pushing his helmet down onto his bushy black hair as securely as he could. Small lights crackled around his fingers, and he eyed the Non with the enormous puncture wound in its side. It was one of the closest to Kierkegaard. He would go for that.

The penguin, perhaps hearing the roar of the cannons, turned and peered at them through the cluster of Nothings. His ebony grin grew by fantastic degrees, and as it did, the Nothings parted to let his heaving bulk through.

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