Carpathia III: Episode 129: Guiding Pestilence


Jaze: Then let's do this.

Toma sidled up behind Jaze and wrapped his arms around him. Right away, he began producing a flow of air which enveloped them both. Jaze held out his hands, palms up, and thrust them down, activating his fire and both he and Toma moved their bodies in perfect harmony, skillfully showing off their weeks of practice together. Jaze thrust his hands forward rapidly, alternating between them, and launched several fireballs at the gate in front of Nekramentia.

Everyone watched in nervous anticipation as they watched the fireballs arc through the sky and finally land on the gate, erputing into several small explosions sending bits of brick and wood scattering all around. Too far away to clearly see what was going on, the others turned to their little, living telescope, Ryuu.

Jaze: What do you see?

Ryuu: Mostly confusion. People pointing and talking.

A few moments passed while the others strained to see the compound better.

Jaze: Well, Thirteen isn't going to stand for this, but it will take time for him to organize everyone.

Kaoru: And now we wait. This is going to feel like forever.

Some watched. Others wandered around, kicking the dirt. Ryuu kept his eyes on Nekramentia, ready to alert them to any changes in activity.

Adell: So, um... Jaze. What sort of song can we expect?

Jaze: Classical seems to work best. I'm not going to be singing anything in particular. Just hitting the notes. You make sure to snap out of your trance quickly when I stop.

More time passed as the others milled around, making stilted small talk, while Ryuu kept everyone up to date on what was going on. He reported that Thirteen emerged from the tower and he appeared to give several orders, however, he curiously disappeared after that, leaving the group leaders in charge. Aside from that, Ryuu announced that it seemed the Compound was assembling fairly quickly.

Jaze: Maybe that's for the better. If Thirteen doesn't come out with the rest of them, it might be easier to deal with everyone else.

Not that action was rapidly forthcoming. It eventually became evident that they should have brought a deck of cards or something else to pass the time as Nekramentia was organized entirely around the idea of attacking and raiding without any consideration of being attacked. Not willing to provoke Wishmaster himself any more than they already were, the others had to content themselves with pacing around, wringing their hands in apprehension.

Finally, Ryuu noted a change.

Ryuu: They're coming.

There was a strange relief amongst the group that the waiting was over, but that quickly turned to dread. What emerged from the compound gates was not an orderly march, but a chaotic mass of young people seemingly lacking in any sort of leadership. There wasn't much time to wonder where Thirteen had gone or why he decided to leave them leaderless. They were rapidly approaching and it was time to act.

Jaze: They're almost in range. Kagurain and Ryuu, it's time for you to do your thing.

Ryuu flapped his wings once, launching himself gently into the air and then onto Kagurain's shoulders. Ryuu placed his paws on the sides of Kagurain's head.

Ryuu: Remember to relax. I will help you focus and protect you from Jaze's song.

Kagurain took a deep breath and flexed his fingers. Moving his hands as though he were kneading bread dough, an electric charge began to pass between Kagurain's fingers. Then, suddenly, he spread his arms wide, erecting a barrier between himself and the charging Nekramentians.

It was still a few minutes before any of the Nekramentians were close enough to begin shooting, but they did not hesitate to fire once they were close enough. For the first few shots, the others ducked and winced, but none of the bullets penetrated Kagurain's defense. Still, onward they charged.

Jaze: They're almost close enough for the full effect. Make sure you're ready when I stop singing, Adell.

Adell: I'll be ready. It will be more tricky than we planned. They're scattered all over the place.

Jaze focused on a single, large rock in the field between them and the Nekramentians, about fifty yards away. For many days, he had practiced his song, gauging its effects over varying distances and that rock was his border marker for maximum impact.

Jaze: Everyone behind me. Just a few more seconds.

The others, except Kagurain and Ryuu, scooted up behind Jaze as instructed while Jaze focused on the rock. The first group passed the rock and Jaze held out his hand, waiting for the Nekramentians in the rear to do the same.

Aside from a few stragglers bringing up the rear, most of the Compound had passed the rock and Jaze determined that his song should be enough to affect all of them. With that, he began to sing wordlessly with all the power he could muster from his chest.

The effect was almost instant. The previously hard-charging Nekramentians slowed considerably and allowed their guns to simply fall from their hands as they ambled, zombie-like, toward Jaze and the others. The stragglers in the back were affected a bit more slowly, but they caught the full effect of Jaze's song in short order.

With all the guns on the ground, Kagurain, still of sound mind with Ryuu's assistance, lowered his shield and picked up his spear. He aimed it at the guns, drawing them toward him. His control had improved considerably over the last several weeks and, instead of the guns flying at them, they slid harmlessly across the ground to their feet. This process, however, was slower than anticipated and the Nekramentians were nearing more rapidly than Kagurain could collect all of the guns.

With the Nekramentians approaching, Jaze finished with a long, sustained note, meant to signal Kagurain that he was about to stop singing and let Adell's phase of the plan begin. Jaze held the note as long as he could and stopped, immediately slapping Adell on his chest when he did.

Jaze: Now!

Adell blinked twice and quickly recovered his senses. Spreading his legs wide and bending his knees, Adell turned his palms up and thrust his hands into the sky. Immediately, large rocks erupted from the soil between them and the Nekramentians. By this time, the Nekramentians had recovered and were starting to scatter.

Adell: It's not going to be easy to surround them at this rate! Kagurain, you'd better put the shield back up!

Kagurain did as he was told, though no bullets from the stray guns laying around seemed to find themselves in the hands of any of the Nekramentians. Ryuu flew out from behind the shield and soared the fifty or so yards to the confused Nekramentians and did his best to coral them with his fireballs while Adell continued to raise large stones from the ground, attempting to surround them.

Finally, Adell managed a large circle of stones soaring several feet into the air, trapping most of the Nekramentians. Several stragglers remained, however and a decision had to be made as to what to do with them.

Kaoru: Should we round them up one by one?

There wasn't time for any debate, for as soon as Kaoru finished his sentence, the ground began to shake and a low, guttural growl permeated the air around them. Behind the Nekramentia Compound, the Arid Sea seemed to leap hundreds of feet into the air before it began rapidly rolling toward them like a tsunami. In an instant, they could no longer see the tower as the wave bore down upon them with astonishing speed.

There was nothing they could do but crouch and hope for the best. Toma attempted to block the sand with a blast of wind, but the effect was not much stronger than a than a common table fan against a typhoon. The sand blasted all of them, knocking them back several yards and scattering them all around.

Once Jaze regained his senses, he found that he could only open his eyes for a moment at the time as the sand still hung thick in the air, swirling around everywhere. It was not much help anyway, because there was nothing to see. Unable to think of anything else, Jaze attacked the sand with fire, but this only cleared the area a few feet around him.

Jaze: Toma!

Jaze could hear others calling out, but could not discern from what direction they were coming. Blindly, Jaze stumbled through the sandstorm, hoping he would bump into someone friendly. Finally, he stumbled into an area where the swirling sand was much thinner and he could take in his surroundings. Jaze assumed that this must be the work of Toma and grew heartened that he must be nearby.

Jaze: Toma?

Jaze was answered by a loud bang and a sharp pain just above his knee. Jaze fell to the ground in agony, barely able to sit up to see how badly he was bleeding. From the cloud of sand emerged Pestilence, rifle in hand and strangely unaffected by the sandstorm.

Jaze tried to muster up the strength to use his fire or transform into his deathneko self, but he could not manage the concentration to do either.

Pestilence: Why?!

Pestilence raised his rifle and, with his trembling hands, took aim and fired, this time hitting Jaze in the shoulder. Any hope Jaze had of summoning any of this strengths was now gone and, through the pain, desperately tried to scoot backward.

Pestilence: Why did you come back?! Why didn't you just leave us alone?!

Pestilence raised his rifle again and fired, this time hitting Jaze just below his ribs. There was nowhere for him to go. He could no longer move. Pestilence loomed over him menacingly, nearly at Jaze's feet. Jaze could see the tears running down his face.

Pestilence: I won't let you take everything away from me! Not again!

Pestilence raised his rifle one last time and pointed it directly at Jaze's head. Jaze braced himself, feeling that nothing could save him now.

Before Pestilence could pull the trigger, however, the air around them dramatically changed, upending Pestilence's hair and filling one of his ears with sand. Jaze achingly turned his head toward the source of the disturbance. From the cloud, Toma emerged, furiously firing blasts of wind all around him, blowing the sand away.

Pestilence only had a moment to register his surprise when Toma leaped into the air and unleashed a savage kick. Toma's foot connected solidly to Pestilence's face and his head whipped around farther than was natural, resulting in a sickening crack. All life left Pestilence's eyes and he fell to the ground like a stuffed doll, dead.

Toma did not land well, stumbling when his foot touched the ground before he fell, rolling several feet away. Recovering quickly, he scrambled to where Jaze lay virtually motionless.

Toma: Jaze!

Toma gently slid his hand under Jaze's neck and lifted him up, propping Jaze's back on his leg. Jaze did his best to smile as he reached up slowly with his trembling hand and placed it on Toma's cheek.

Jaze: Toma...

As the sand continued to clear, Ryuu managed to find his way to Jaze and Toma.

Ryuu: I heard noises!

Upon hearing Ryuu, Toma whipped his head around and shouted to him.

Toma: Ryuu! Go get Artemis! Hurry!

Without a word, Ryuu turned quickly and flew away, leaving Toma alone with Jaze. With his hand still on Toma's cheek, Jaze labored to speak.

Jaze: Toma, I'm glad I found you. This time, you came to my rescue.

Toma leaned in close, his nose nearly touching Jaze's, as his tears dripped down onto Jaze's face.

Toma: Just a little longer, Jaze. Artemis is coming.

Jaze: I'm glad we could be together again, even for just a little while.

Blood trickled from the corner of Jaze's mouth as his breathing became raspy.

Toma: I never gave up waiting for you.

Jaze struggled to take one last deep breath.

Jaze: I love you, Toma.

And with that, all breath left Jaze's body as his hand flopped lifelessly from Toma's cheek to the ground.

Commissioned art in this episode from:
Atomic Clover

All city pictures from SimCity 4

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