123: Rogan

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Rogan pulled out his hand weapon and began drawing flux to add to his bullet impacts. Now that he was about to have targets he could see, he may as well be ready.

“Message from the local Gireidil command,” Nam called. “They say there’s too much interference for the reinforcements to stay in contact, but they are arriving soon.”

She had contacted the local garrison earlier via Paeth message about the Ilidi incursion when she noticed their current position had reception.

“Jack!” he ordered, “Stay back so we can keep our barriers in front of you!”

As a Seryahdin, Rogan possessed centuries of accumulated knowledge and skills in the person of his Ijin, Althem, especially in the arts of flux control. The spirit, already awesomely powerful before ending up as an Ijin in the first place, leveraged that knowledge to take that power to new heights.

But this advantage, as great as it was, did not constitute a Seryahdin’s only strength. The simple fact that two minds rather than one were manipulating flux, and could manage more tasks than an individual operator could ever accomplish, and do so in close coordination with one another, multiplied the overall effectiveness by many times.

‘The Seryahdin bids and the Ijin acts’ was not actually the normal way of things. Most of the time, the Seryahdin borrowed the Ijin’s abilities and skills and did things for himself. The disinterested Ijin, who had already lived her own life long ago, and long since turned her attentions inward, allowed him to control them. When necessary, though, they could both act, in separate or coordinated efforts.

When he first heard these beasties were coming, he had considered heading to Cantaree with Koursh rather than trying for the direct jump to Parha. It would have required a much longer trip home, but it was becoming clear now that he should have done it. It was too late to regret the fact that he had allowed the desire to go straight home and quickly return to the hunt for Benjamin to overpower his better judgment.

The wall succumbed to the next blast from the warbeasts, falling like Jericho in front of them. As three beasts emerged out of the cloud of dust formerly the west wall– <looks like we took one of them out, Old Girl>— Rogan and Althem laid down a hail of fire, while vertical sheets of Nam’s purple flame appeared, forming new screens against the beasts’ return fire.

With shock, he realized the Earther girl was riding one of the beasts, a heavy battle unit somewhat reminiscent of a triceratops. She was actually using an Ilidi war machine like a cavalry mount. 

As it waved its head back and forth, trying to find a weak point in their barriers for a shot, he could see the hated Ilidi trefoil circle tattoo on its crest. It staggered from another of Althem’s blows and the girl projected her own barriers to enhance its defense. She fashioned crude forms, he noted, but she could provide them impressive power levels.

Nam’s barrier shattered as the three beasts with their kinetic waves and the girl with a wildly energetic flux-flame fired a coordinated volley. Nam hadn’t lived this long by luck, though. Her back-up barrier snapped into place before her primary had gone, shocking the girl on the beast.

You’re not the only monster present, lass, he thought at the Earther girl with grim humor. She staggered backward slightly as Althem hurled a new volley of hypersonic stones into the group, battering her screens.

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“How far away is the Gireidil unit?” Rogan yelled. 

She paused to sense for them, and yelled back, “They have reached the city limits, but they are still on the far side of town. They are moving at high speed. Minutes only.”

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More warbeast volleys beat upon the other walls. He wondered how long before the girl, assuming she was in command, realized the others couldn’t get through his barriers without her powerful flux-flame added to their kinetic weapons. When that happened, she would have them come around to the one wall already breached.

“If we last that long,” Rogan muttered as he pressed a new clip into his weapon.

- my thoughts:

I am currently posting three chapters per week on a M-W-F basis.

It occurs to me, through almost a dozen rewrites of this novel through the years, this particular scene has survived essentially unchanged. That statement applies to the installment which will follow this one as well.

Check out my other novel: Substitute Hero

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