Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Episode 33

There was a crackle of leaves and colour, and Jason broke out from the undergrowth, hit the ground and ran.

They were after him. Roots curled up on the ground, impending his progress; Jason had to dodge and jump and twist to avoid the growing wood. Darkness was absolute, moonlight streaming through holes overhead.

And then swift movement. a crack.

Jason fell dead to the ground, melting into gold dust as he did so.

A few hundred metres away, the real Jason woke up in a cold sweat. He briefly went over the dream. One of his Images was dead - he was sure of it, and it happened nearby. He snapped his fingers, conjuring up a few more.

"Scout it out." he said.

As they ran towards the forest, Jason turned back to the sleeping team. His mind was churning furiously - they had quite a low chance of escaping, and he had no idea how many Oragi he was up against.

Possibly standard Nobu team. Five.

Jason made up his mind. He walked over to Kyioshi and kicked him.

"Wake up."


The boy who killed the image was indeed part of a team of five. He inhaled the sweet night air quietly as they contemplated this new revelation: an Oragi who created believable Images.

"We're being watched." Evan said. He was a hulking beast of a man, all muscle and teeth.

The boy nodded. "Another image."

"Five." Qari corrected. "One in the undergrowth, four in the trees."

The team reacted quickly. Soon four of the five were burning to death, the other melting away with a bloodied palm-mark on his chest.

The boy's name was Bishop. His name was, of course, irrelevant - if a magister cursed it the spell would have had no effect on him. Physically Bishop was tall and thin and sinewy - his fingers roughened by training but originally like a piano player's. They were his killing tools - and he was proud of them.

There were four others in the Nobu unit - Evans, watchful Qari, Luke and Baldur. Baldur blew at his brown hands, and then wistfully at the trees.

"Which way, Q?"

"Northwest. They're moving towards the city. Escaping."

The team got to their feet as one and ran; Bishop leading the way. He paced himself, knowing fully well Luke should be in the front as unit leader. But every cell in his body screamed for revenge - he had a personal score to settle with one of the hunted Oragi; payment for an unforgiveable act back in their youth.

Hate thrummed in his veins. They sped past what appeared to be an occupied clearing but didn't stop - Luke and Qari not making any signs to scout.

"Hot on their trail." Evan said, not out-of-breath at all. "They can't be that far ahead -"

The trees over and around them burst into activity - Images leapt down from branches and started kicking and punching. Bishop blasted a few to death; Baldur burned anyone that got too near and they were off again.

"They want to study us before we fight." Qari said, panting slightly.

Nobody answered as they broke out of the undergrowth.

There he is! Bishop's mind screamed - he lifted up his hands as faces long forgotten flashed before his eyes ...

Luke pulled his hands down.

"Another time. You'll never hit them at this range."

They stared as the specks vanished behind a slight slope. Ahead was Freeport, collumns of smoke visible in the faint glow of dawn. Booms still echoed, and the trees around them rattled at the force. The Black Moon war machine was busy at the other end of the city.

Luke put his arm comfortingly around Bishop's shoulders. "I don't see why you're taking this so seriously." he said, rumpling Bishop's hair. "They can't escape. We'll get them soon."

Bishop shrugged his way out from Luke's grasp and gritted his teeth. So near to death. He doesn't know it, does he?

Luke's diary extract
I called the planes down. Their academy isn't going to last very long. And Bishop? That boy is acting too personal for my liking. Something's up.

Jason's blog extract

They have a firestarter. But how does the other one kill?


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