Thursday, April 17, 2008


Apologies for the shameful delay on this installment. No excuses, just life and a deplorable lack of discipline on my part. I'll try to do better in the coming weeks.


Chaos erupted among the moironteau. The predatory discipline organizing the creatures broke down in the face of thirty quarry. Moironteau lunged and slashed, footheads choming wildly at the darting green Parrics flying to and fro. Those hanging above dropped into the fray, the lure of the chase too tempting to resist. The carefully-constructed trap collapsed into itself.

"Stupiding otherwhereians," muttered Parric from his coiled position in the middle of it all. "All muscle, no finessing."

A simulacrum found itself amid a cluster of three moironteau. It hesitated a moment, seeking a way out, and that was all opening the moironteau needed to crush it under foothead. When the baffled creature lifted its leg, however, all that remained was a single muddy featherscale.

Another simulacrums flashed past overhead, a loping moironteau in feverish pursuit. Two massive footheads slamed into the mud on either side of Parric in passing, the creature taking no notice of the real quarry.

The simulacrum flew head-long toward one of its twins, also pursued by a moironteau. An instant before colliding, the fake Parrics veered off at right angles to each other. The moironteau had no chance to stop, blundering into each other with a bone-jarring impact. And some bones were indeed jarred--the creatures lay where they fell, hooning piteously as they tried to lift themselves with shattered footheads.

Parric watched with satisfaction. The simulacrums may be insubstantial, but they flew better than he could ever dream.

He reached into one of his buldging pouches, pulling out a fat metallic cylinder. He launched himself into the air, holding the cylinder with the fingers on his second wings.

The way above now open, Parric made for the heavy cloudbank. He flew vertical, his wings a whining blur. Icy rain stung his face, rolling away off his featherscales as he climbed. Parric labored against gravity, the dead weight of Flavius MacDuff and loss of his second wing pair growing more and more difficult to ignore. If he could just reach the clouds before any moironteau noticed his escape--

An outraged bellow thundered from below. He'd been spotted.

A moironteau'd abandoned its prusuit of a simulacrum and thrown itself into the air, biting into the dimensional fabric of reality to pull itself higher.

The moironteau gained quickly. Parric no longer had the strength to fly vertically. Instead he'd slipped into a shallow spiral, gaining altitude incrimentally.

A second moironteau joined the chase.

The cloud cover loomed close. But not close enough. He'd never make it.

Parric glanced down. The pursuing moironteau were directly below him. Beyond them, the drama continued to play out on the ground. Significantly fewer simulacrums flashed through the air, but they'd done a good job of keeping the majority moironteau occupied. Of keeping them together. Of keeping them herded.

With a free finger, Parric pulled the pin from the cylinder and dropped it. The cylinder fell a few yards, glancing off the back of the closest moironteau before tumbling on. The second moironteau struck quickly, a foothead lashing out to gulp it down whole.

The moironteau took another step then stopped abruptly. The foothead that'd swallowed the cylinder writhed in agony. Whisps of yellow-green smoke escaped between its gnashing teeth. With a coarse moan, it vomited up the cylinder amid a cloud of the sickly smoke. Its footheads convulsed, and the moironteau lost its hold. It plummeted from the sky. The cylinder tumbled after, spewing great gouts of yellow-green smoke in its wake.

The smoke bomb landed in the middle of the massed moironteau. The cloud expanded at a startling rate, rolling over the moironteau even as more smoke drifted down from above. The simulacrums reverted to featherscales wherever the smoke touched them. The moironteau staggered from the smoke, flailing in agony, coughing up streams of purple blood through their dorsal vents.

"A little souveniring from your home cosm," Parric called down. "I'm thinking you might be homesicking, maybe."

The remaining moironteau in pursuit lunged up. Parric barely dodged in time. He could no longer climb. He was struggling to even maintain altitude. The moironteau would have him in moments.

In desperation, Parric cast about for the nearest Nexial gap. He found it instantly--the first one he'd attempted to Craft a Wedging for. The Wedging itself was still hanging over the gap, invisible and intangible, waiting for Parric to will it into action. Parric also found the second gap he'd tried for, and close by was the dimensional pocket he'd tried to hide in, still holding the unfortunate moironteau thrashing witin.

Parric's antennae sprang erect at the opportunity. Flavius, of course, would hate the plan that'd appeared, fully-formed, into Parric's mind. But hating Parric's plans was Flavius in a nutshell.

"Seeing you shortly," Parric said, then flung Flavius out into open air.

Parric's second wings flew into action. He cut back on the pursuing moironteau and shot past it before the creature could react. The moironteau froze with confusion, unable to decide which to pursue.

Down Parric dove, straight at the convulsing dimensional pocket, Crafting as he went. A sudden, horrific thought struck him--what if the trapped moironteau freed itself before Parric reached it?

Parric plunged through the insubstantial space of the dimensional pocket. Air seemed to turn to syrup around him, the thick folds of reality collapsing around him as he gathered it to him. For an instant it seemed he would freeze in place, then he was out the other side, banking up and about, speed undiminished.

Ahead, the tiny figure of Flavius tumbled helplessly as he fell earthward.

Parric wasn't sure if the curses he heard were actually coming from the distant figure or merely memories of past tirades. Not that it mattered all that much. Either gravity in this cosm was stronger than Parric'd estimated, or he'd been way off in his altitude assumption. Either way, Flavius was much closer to the ground than was entirely healthy.

Parric threw back his antennae and forced more speed from his overtaxed wings.

Flavius grew larger. Corpses of English soldiers flashed below as streaks of crimson. Raindrops hung in midair as Parric hurled past them. Flavius turned his face toward Parric, his wide eyes filled with equal measures of terror and hatred.

Mere feet from a messy impact, Parric plucked Flavius out of the air. Triggering the waiting Wedging, Parric and Flavius shot through the open gap, leaving not a trace of their passing behind.


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