Wake of Kerberos - Chapter 7

Prints came in all shapes and sizes, and unfortunately, also came in every environment, including land, sea, and air. How some of the flying Prints managed to stay aloft was a matter of great debate among scholars, because they did not appear to have any of the normal gravity-negating magics, nor did their wings look very functional (if they even had any wings, many didn't). Some theorized that because Kerberos itself was somehow exempt from gravity, the property carried over to some Prints, resulting in their ability to fly. Similarly, because Kerberos could apparently move through earth and water as if it wasn't even there, many Prints lurked in the waters of the ocean and most land-based Prints had a tendency to hide themselves in the ground until they were close to a victim.

Regardless of the enigmatic rules dictating what Prints inherited from their maker, flying Prints were widely considered especially dangerous, because men could not choose to ignore gravity. When fighting in the sky, even a small mistake could result in a fatal drop. One of the most unfortunate results of Kerberos' neverending rampage was that the ground had been burnt barren, so most of the time only rocks and ashes awaited at the end of a fall.

There was one upside to this though: Angels and other aircraft could fly very close to the ground most of the time, and if you were lucky and skilled there was a chance of eluding flying Prints by zigzagging through ravines and jagged mountaintops. Of course, luck would have it that The Pale was flying over relatively flat, sandy terrain: there wasn't the slimmest chance of out-maneuvering their assailent. With this in mind Ani turn and began issuing orders to Alex.

[Grab some echo amulets from Ixion and take Chase to the hangar door. Sternum will fill you in, go!] Without even pausing to take breath Ani switched her full attention to Yaga, detailing a precise set of moves.

Alex paused for just a second while Ixion activated two amulets and tossed them into Alex's waiting hands. The moment he had them Alex took off at a sprint down the length of The Pale, yelling for Chase at the top of his lungs. "Chase, suit up now, we have company!"


"You know it, just one from what Yaga said though." Alex flipped one of the amulets to Chase, who wrapped it tightly around his wrist. "Ani wants us down at the door."

<I can guess what she wants us to do, and I do not approve.> Chase flipped up to a standing position from his seated position, his leg and arm augments aleady in place. <Do you have one of these amulets for Mallory?>

"No, why?" Alex leaped over to his bag and began rumaging through it, looking for his favorite weapon. "She doesn't seem like a fighter."

<She's not, but she is a survivor. She's followed me in and out of some tight places- she'll insist on helping somehow.>

"Whatever floats her boat, I'm just concerned with getting this thing killed. Ah hah, there it is!" Alex pulled a small metal object from his bag and gripped it triumphantly.

<What is that?> Asked Chase as they vaulted over to the hangar door. <Some kind of Librarian's weapon?>

"Yeah, you never seen one in use?" Alex flicked his fist and the metal object suddenly expanded to be a six foot long, razor-edged weapon with an intricate blade and a very long handle. "It's a clock hand, wrought especially for combat use. It helps reinforce our turn spells and gives us something to hit with."

<Handy.> Chase stopped leapt over the door of the hangar and planted himself in the doorway of the ribcage. <Sternum, what's our plan?>

Though Sternum did not speak Frostbite, the question was self evident. "The door opens in-flight and the three of you climb out onto one of the cargo arms. Do what damage you can, but play it safe: any big magics right underneath the intake like that could kill the engines."

"Wait, I can't use magic down there?" Demanded Alex, who was also worried substantially by the thought of climbing out on a crane during a flight.

"You could cast something small, a distortion spell or something, but anything with a lot of power would start a fire or freeze us up." Sternum jammed a couple of runes on the side of the doorframe, getting it to open partially. "We'll have to add filters for your spells later, now is not the time."

Cursing under his breath, Alex grabbed one of the cords being held out to him and clipped it to his belt. "You're coming too, Mallory?"

Mal nodded determinedly. "I can do a little damage with my needles, and watch you two's backs. Besides, Sternum said that if I use an open-ended Evoke spell I can do some damage without mucking up the engines. It should resolve itself to what's expected by the intakes, no worries for any of us."

"Just try not to get killed, this stuff is risky enough already." Alex swung out of the hangar, watching Chase clamber down the length of the cargo arm without even looking at his footing. At least one of us can land a good hit on this thing.

(Alex, can you hear me?) crackled the echo amulet around Alex's neck. (It's Yaga. I'm going to position The Pale right above this bugger and Ani is going to keep the arm as close as we can. Good luck!)

Exhausted, Alex climbed back into the hangar. Behind him, Chase vaulted in with Mallory in tow, somehow keeping a firm grib on her despite the copious amount of blood on his mechanical hands. Sternum walked over quickly from the ribcage, closing the hangar door with a two-fingered jab.

"Well, that went pretty well." Commented Alex, trying to catch his breath. "We're all in one piece, no serious damage to The Pale."

<What's taking the afterimage so long?> asked Chase. <Is the pilot trying to outrun it or something?>

"I dunno, maybe she-" Alex suddenly doubled up as the 'afterimage' of the Print hit him. Moments later the other three were doubled up as well, groaning with pain as harsh, unintelligible images forced themselves into their brains.

There was a long pause as the afterimage wrecked havoc in their minds, and then a drained moment of silence. The Pale, which had veered off to the south when the afterimage hit, staightened up and began to descend slowly. Yagas tired voice echoed out of their amulets.

"Nothing more on the horizon. We should be at the shrine in half an hour."

Groaning a bit, Alex stood up and offered his hand to Mallory. Good thing we're going to a shrine and not a ruin. he thought to himself. Maybe the water can help us shake out the afterimage effects.

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