112: Jack

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For a moment the unreality held him frozen in place.

There is a burning ball of flame in my hand.

It was getting very hot… alarmed, he doused the flame, before he even realized that the knowledge of how to turn it off was somehow part of the knowledge of how to create it. He merely had to stop the flow that he had started.

How had he started it?

The image came again, and again the flame was born. With great effort, he forced flame and training form away from his hand, until the heat was tolerable. Then he looked around. He wanted to know, was the flame illusory, another form of the vision that the something was showing him, or was there actual flame happening here?

Nearby tree trunks were lit with flame light. He walked forward, and the shadows the trunks were casting moved.

Sure, it could still be an illusion, but it was getting awfully complex, at the point that light and shadow were playing and moving about the forest.

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That constant passive scan he had continued to maintain pulled at his attention. There was movement. That reconnaissance drone was working its way closer. Trying to get a better look at the light that had shown up, probably.

Jack then became aware of a new presence. A small warbeast, far bigger than the drones but much smaller than the monsters confronting Simkit, had just begun heading his direction rapidly.

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He doused the flame and began moving through the forest at a higher speed. He had already put a good distance between himself and Simkit, so he was less concerned about noise. Getting to the camp and alerting them to Simkit’s condition was far more important than playing games with magical fireballs. He feared that having let his curiosity distract him from that task might end up endangering both himself and Simkit.

But that damned vision was repeating. He doused the flame that sprang up again, unbidden, angry that this vision seemed able to make him do these things. Yet it had an urgency to it, a sense that he needed the fireball, immediately.

For what? he tried to demand of it.

He got a response, in the form of a picture of himself, turning and throwing the flaming ball like a grenade or a baseball, striking the reconnaissance drone.

The stupid fireball had lit once again, in response to the directions. It seemed the vision wasn’t actually making him do it, since he wasn’t automatically turning and throwing the ball as shown. His mind was just following the first bit of the instruction subconsciously.

He doused it again, but thought furiously. Would it be better to get rid of the drone? He had seriously thought about drawing his Beretta and trying to pick it off, earlier. He might actually be able to do it, now that the drone was abandoning caution and moving up. It was, at most, twenty meters behind him now.

And that new presence that was approaching, that seemed to be a warbeast not much larger than Simkit, was becoming a real threat. It had even adjusted its course as he moved through the woods. It was definitely shifting its path in order to intercept him.

He still couldn’t sense himself in flux-sense. Simkit’s stealth was definitely working. And that meant that the warbeast only knew where he was because of the drone which had visual contact on him. It was either in communication with it, or broadcasting his position to the “Ilidi” side in general.

The vision came to him again. Make the fireball, turn, throw. Now he could even grasp how to guide the ball in flight, like a wire-guided anti-tank weapon.

He had doused the flame, but he nodded, and said to the something, “Fine. I’ll do it.”

The flame burst into being once again. He turned and threw.

To his surprise, he could feel genuine weight to the thing, as if it were an actual ball. He was very sure that ordinary flame wouldn’t have weight like that. It flew into the treetops like a comet, and the surprised drone tried to dodge, but he adjusted the trajectory and the ‘comet’ curved, intersecting with the alien thing and swallowing it in flame.

He took off running while it was occupied. He didn’t know if the fireball would kill the thing, but perhaps it would lose sight of him while dealing with its own problems.

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