61: Jack


She burst into full-body flames, arms slashing outward at him. He dive-rolled as a blast struck the ground behind where he had just stood. The grass vaporized and the soil glowed white hot where it hit. He rolled onto his knee, firing. Bursts of flame met his bullets, which failed to find their target. But at least, having to deal with them kept her from attacking him again.

He backpedaled, a move hampered by the downward slope behind him, then threw himself out of the way of another strike. the flames barely missing him. There didn’t seem to be a point in firing again, and he began considering holstering it and pulling out his knife.

Nam was shouting something, but another flame strike came from the girl, and he had to concentrate on that. This time it grazed his hand as he dodged, but deflected away as his hand flared into a supernova in his flux ‘sight’. Physically, he saw nothing change, but he dropped his now searing-hot Beretta, that her strike had caught in its fire.

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Then his hand erupted into crimson flame. Within it, energies stirred and amplified into a volcanic blast, and then turned into a focused jet, which narrowly missed his foot as it gushed forth.

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He struggled to aim it at the girl, as it strengthened into something resembling the exhaust of a rocket. He could sense the intense energies appearing out of nowhere, flowing from his hand as an invisible presence before appearing beyond it as the rushing gout of flame.

She blocked it with a barrier constructed of her own flame, but the blast picked her up off the ground and shoved her violently backward and uphill.

The magic she had done to get her words to him before was still operating. He could see her and hear her despite all the flame and noise, stammering orders in a foreign language. The ground between him and her sprayed upward like the furrow of some enormous plow. The effect toppled trees outward to either side of the path.

Nam’s hand clamped around his wrist, lowering the flame further into the ground. A crater grew before him as the energies continued flooding out.

“Rogan!” she yelled above the racket, “Come help!”

“Althem, barriers all around!” the big man yelled, backing in toward them. Somewhere along the way he had sheathed his blades and pulled out the handgun. As he approached, he continued to take carefully aimed shots, each packed with flux-matter he somehow added to the bullets as he fired, alternating on the attackers. He went to one knee when he arrived, firing one-handed as his other hand grasped the wrist that Nam had just released, and a vortex of new energies surrounded the fountain of flame. Nam sprang up to her feet once more, holding her dagger over her head. A barrier of her making replaced Rogan’s. Her partner ceased firing but continued aiming his gun outward, as the torrent first shrank, then the flame went out at last.

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