Magara, The Gathering Steam, Car Twenty-Five
The scraping of metal slides rang out in the car.
The door to car twenty-six was opened by Rich, with Tettra and the rest off to the side peering inside with weapons ready. The storage car was empty, which was odd as it was full when Tettra passed by it. All of the goods were taken.
“Oh boy this looks like an ambush,” Newman said.
“No kidding,” Rich added.
“What do we do? Tettra asked with furrowed brow.
“Idea! First, I get drones to weld the far door shut. We enter the room and weld the door behind us shut. I unweld the far door and we can stop the ambush.”
“And if car twenty-six is rigged to blow up?” Rich countered.
“Or if they come from the ceiling or walls. They have had plenty of time to prepare.” Stug added.
“Gas attack?” Lod asked.
“Well, gas is easy with wind magic. You bundle it and compress it. I just… Need to know where it comes from….” Tettra argued before trailing off. She grimaced at her faux pa.
There was a sudden rumbling from the train. It shook everyone to the core.
“Is the train stopping?” Lod asked.
“Window!” Rich shouted.
He and Tettra entered the blackened out room which smelled of burned ash, plastic, wood, and hair. They looked out of the window and saw a vessel staring back at them. It was a massive silver red circuited sphere, floating parallel to the train. It had a black angular visor bridge, giving it a sinister look. From what they saw, the train could fit nicely inside the vessel in a straight line. What confused Tettra is it largely left the surrounding area unimpacted, as if it was a ghost. A vessel of that size should have created massive disturbances.
“Pyron…” Rich Murmured.
“What??” Tettra asked in an outburst, her heart fluttering at the idea of a cardinal arriving.
“That’s his vessel?”
“Yes. The Underfall Yard. I’d know that ship anywhere. There aren’t many like it.”
Tettra simply stared out the window, studying the vessel. The ship was closer to the size of a space wharf than a ship. Closer to a moon than a vessel.
“Yes, it would appear we’re saved. We need to head back, let the Knights Hospitaller and Pyron Dethos deal with it.” Rich said with a sigh.
“But we’re so close!” Tettra said, her face twisting in sadness and frustration.
“Close to a very obvious ambush. One they won’t be able to save us in time.” Rich explained. He was tired. Tettra was too.
She had no argument and Rich was in charge. She saw smaller shuttles on the horizon near the Underfell Yard.
Help was coming.
“Alright, let’s go back and meet up with Lazarus.” Tettra sighed, agreeing with Rich’s proposition.
They exited the room meeting up with the group.
“Well?” Newman asked.
“A Cardinal is coming. Pryon.” Rich answered.
‘Oh… OH!” The weight of the news hit Newman.
“We need to head to the front of the train, now,” Rich ordered.
“I agree with this sentiment. Pyron is far more capable of dealing with these simple attacks than we are.” Lod added.
“To the Conductor!” Tettra said as they began their way back to the front of the train.
The group hastily retreated to car Twenty-four, passing by the ruined car. Rich marched lead, keeping an eye out for the crawlers that may have escaped. Tettra spotted a silhouette in the hall of car twenty-four. She was wearing a maid uniform. She had a dagger in one hand and a pistol in the other. The dagger was dripping with blood. She was surrounded by demons that were different than imps.
“Oh my God… The passengers,” Tettra said aloud. Her eyes widened in shock.
These were humans possessed by the summoned imps. Humans could be possessed by the demon’s against their will if they’re weakened enough. This was incredibly rare, as demons largely died out after Megiddo.
The maid stepped forward, speaking in the familiar sing-song voice.
“My, my, it’s Tettra and company. I see the Church has arrived for its rescue, too.” Marlene nodded to her left to the massive vessel in the sky.
“Marlene… Why? Why this madness?” Tettra begged. She thought herself a good judge of character, but she was wrong.
“Where was the Church when my husband was lost? Where was Adonai, when my husband disappeared? Where was ‘He’ when I waited an eternity for help?! Nowhere.”
“And so you would make others miserable for what sake? Revenge?” Rich shouted out.
The demons around her shuffled forward slightly. They resembled people, except covered in the black rubbery flesh. Their faces were blank apart from the red glowing eyes.
“To win him back. I made a deal. They at least know where he is and know how to return him to me!” She yelled. Her eyes were open and crazed. Tettra began to charge her magic. If Marlene decided to fire, she needed to react in time.
“Foolish maid, did you not stop and think that they were lying?” Stug retorted. Marlene stared venom at him.
“I spoke to him. It was him. Now back up. Get into that car. I almost had you all. It was set to detonate the connectors, sending you lot free. You’re still trapped, though. The possessed imps are too strong for the likes of you. That Techy of yours was smart and almost found me out, traveled from the caboose to the car behind you atop my new friends.” Marlene explained. She raised her pistol, the rest of the group raised their weapons in response.
“And the jammer?” Newman asked.
“A gift from a friend. Was.” Marlene said bitterly. Purple energy surrounded the demon’s hands.
“Back! They’re casters-” Rich shouted, trying to get the first shot. The black violet barrier was set and the demons began to channel energy into it. Rich’s fire ricocheted off.
Tettra let loose her wind wedge barrier. Incoming fire would be directed to the group’s left or right, leaving them largely protected. It helped as Marlene began to shoot through her own barrier just fine, the screech crack of her pistol going off, the rounds swerving into the walls beside them, causing Tettra to flinch.
“Back up! Move! To car twenty-five!” Rich ordered, he was shuffling back, snap firing in a retreat.
The Anforms were quick to move back, adding their own rounds to the retreat volley. There was the sound of breaking glass and death rattle gasps from the rooms in car twenty-four, the car Marlene occupied. Newman and Tettra dashed back to the car, untrained on retreating cover fire.
“Tettra, you gave me a brilliant idea!” Newman announced. His robotic arms changed in blue pixelated light, two for depositing oil and two plasma torches.
“These guys should be pressurized enough to be mini flamethrowers.” He said, excited.
“And with my magic, I can send it downwind!” Tettra exclaimed.
“That’s a terrible pun!”
“Focus, you two!” Rich shouted he snap fired into an imp that was shambling through the car connector entrance.
“This is the kill zone, right here!” Rich yelled.
Newman ran at the doorway, oil, and torches ready.
“Newman you idiot get back here!” Rich bellowed, missing Newman’s arm by inches as he ran past.
“Burn you demons, BURN!” Newman shrieked as he let loose the oil and flame, creating a jet of fire, burning the imps that were trying to get through the connector doorway. He created a wall of fire to prevent access, forcing them to use the windows. There were crashing sounds in the other car rooms nearby as imps made their way inside car twenty-five.
“Newman!” Tettra shouted. He turned to fall back. Two pulse rounds struck his back and he stumbled, arching his back in shock. He dropped and crumpled to his face near Rich.
“Tettra! Help him!” Rich yelled. He opened a nearby door, opening fire on the vulnerable imps entering through the window. Many of them spilled out into the sea with death rattled shrieks.
Tettra ran to Newman, he was bleeding badly from the wounds in his back. His QSD was done for, as well as his power armor.
Stug and Lod were continuing to fire into the hallway, the fire had spread due to the demons and became a bonfire in between the cars.
Lod plodded towards Newman to help.
“Newman! Are you alright?” Tettra asked, terrified.
“Yeah, I don’t feel a thing… I just feel kind of tired. Now.”
“Good newman now is not the time for naps. You shared access to your inventory. I took the liberty of absconding a blood coagulant foam in case of such happenings.”
“You stole from me…?” Newman asked stupidly.
Green light emitted from Lod’s inventory and a canister of spray dropped into Tettra’s lap. She picked it up and turned Newman over, ignoring his protests and sprayed the bullet wounds shut.
Lod kept on firing into the hallway in the hopes of breaking the demonic barrier. Tettra grunted and strained as she pulled Newman back to Stug. The anform was firing into a nearby room, the thunder of his Pulse Flechette rifle echoing through the locomotive car. The room behind Stug exploded as several imps broke through. Tettra had wind magic at the ready, dropping Newman in surprise. The imps rushed in, with one of them weapon locking Stug before he could react. Stug was not a small or weak Anform by any means. The pit of Tettra’s stomach dropped as the marksman rifle folded up and crumpled under the struggle. She blasted one of the imps with a burst of gust, sending it tumbling past Stug like a rolled up rug. Stug dropped his rifle and right hooked the demon, spilling some of its teeth out. It pushed back against Stug into the next room knocking the Anform over, getting atop of him to begin beating the Anform down. The third imp gazed at Tettra, letting out a dry death rattle cry, it rushed her.
Lod would have helped, but another door burst open and several crawlers were rushing Newman and Rich’s rear. It fired into the throng, painting the walls black with blood and viscera.
It was just Tettra and this imp. It sized her up in seconds and began shambling to her. She fired several rounds, aiming for the hip, but only clipping its leg, just shy of shearing it off at the thigh. It towered above her, threatening to smother her, but Tettra countered it by blasting it with a gust of wind, which only spun it in place, tearing the last bit of leg off. The rubbery flesh was stressed by the blow, bleeding from countless cracks in the skin as it spun to fall forward towards Tettra. Tettra tried to move back, but was flat-footed, stumbling. The imp fell forward, grabbing at her heel as she fell, breaking her ankle with a sickening wet branch crunch.
Tettra shrieked in pain as she felt the bone break in half piercing the skin. The pistol clattered away, just out of reach near the imp. The agony was indescribable, the edges of her vision turned black. She stared at the imp’s dead eyes and soulless grin. It let go, beginning to crawl to her, snapping its teeth at her, it was slower from the damage it received, but no less deadly. She tried to crawl away, but her strength was almost tapped out, the agony too much. She looked down the hall for Lod, he had been picked up by an imp and tossed through another doorway with a crash. Newman wasn’t moving, his carbine several feet from him. She heard Rich firing and shouting in the next room, unaware of the team’s status. She could hear Stug wrestling the imp in the room ahead of her. The imp she knocked away earlier was standing up.
They were going to be defeated and possessed by demons.
“No!” Tettra shouted, her voice cracking. Tears were streaming down her face, almost blinding her. She dipped into the last of her power. She needed something. Anything to get the imp off of her. She could feel the drool on her broken leg, instant revolt settled in. She could hear the snapping of teeth as it was too close for comfort.
She felt a strand of power in this time of desperation. Something new. Something powerful.
Tettra grabbed a hold of it with all her might and felt the words she needed to say. Something like this needed to be said.
“The Reaper Toils”
“The Wheat and Chaff”
“All Fall to the Breeze”
The power spent and exploded outward like a cannon. A faint trace of a horizontal paper thin blade of wind shot from her hand in a wide arc. It traveled through the prone demon trying to get atop her, bisecting it completely through its skull, spine, and hip. The blade of wind continued forward curving upward, she could see the walls and doors being cut into like soft wax. If she were outside the train, she would see the blade slicing the outer walls in twane, like traveling wings. The demon shambling towards her was cut at the midsection, its arms and torso falling over like cards. The wind blade kept traveling, getting wider and wider. The blade curved upward, cutting off the roof of the backend of car twenty-five. The car buckled and shook, causing everyone to lose footing and the loose roof crumpled atop the squirming demon parts. The demon that had wounded her ceased moving, its soulless blankly staring as the two halves slid off each other, pouring black blood along the cart floor.
Tettra deflated from the fatigue of the news spell and the pain of her shattered ankle. Shock settled in hard as she trembled, each tremor lancing her with pain. She could feel it. Her memory was being burned. She spent way too much for that spell. She knew which memories she lost. The time she met Allen. How they spent time with one another. How she felt about him.
Tettra wasn’t just human. No one here was. She and all others like her were Faithful Ones. Death was no more, but the damage went to one’s memory instead. Fatal damage to the body and soul would heal through the burning of memory. One could be completely depleted of memory, forced to wander as a desiccated soul who knew not who they were. Too much critical damage and one could be depleted completely to a golden mote of soul. This was not permanent as the soul slowly regenerated to what Adonai created. Tettra’s broken ankle and her tapping into her unknown power and the terror of the fight would not have drained her memory separately, but together they all pushed her over.
This was Tettra’s first time experiencing this and it terrified her. She lost someone she had fallen for. Allen.
He was so good to her. Good for her. They were going to get married, have children, explore the galaxy. Enjoy life with one another. Know and be known. She loved him.
Allen? Who was he again? Tettra tried to think. She was too weak but to internalize.
Oh, that’s right, he was just a friend.
She blacked out.