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Stories from the Verse
Versers Versus Versers
Chapter 70: Hastings 183
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 69: Beam 54
It was a surreal moment. The two sides were lined up facing each other, and suddenly the commanders were having a seemingly friendly conversation. Lauren was still using the precognitive combat predictor, but everything seemed to be on edge. Then two people spoke at once. She thought that the one who had been introduced as Jim Beam said something like ‘Dawn’, and at the same time Bob said something that seemed to be the repeat of the word ‘mission’, as if questioning it. However, she mostly lost both of those, because in that same instant she became aware that the girl was about to open fire on Bob and the rest of them. She raised her shield in front of them even before she managed to shout, “Incoming,” but she lost the precognitive sense and the pseudo-invisibility she had been maintaining.
A hail of bullets ricocheted off the invisible screen, and then stopped.
“I’m on the shooter,” Slade shouted, and charged forward with sword in one hand and blaster in the other. Firing, he hit the girl’s gun, knocking it off aim, and then again knocking it loose from her grip. His long legs carried him swiftly to close combat. She produced a pistol from somewhere, but he knocked it from her hand with his sword before she could aim it; he had already holstered the blaster and now pulled the dagger to his left hand. With this he deprived her of another pistol, but then she armed herself with a knife.
Meanwhile, Lauren saw Jim Beam draw his own pistol, and figured Bob would be his target, so she charged forward, pulling her two kau sin kes from her shoulders into her hands and pushing herself into a flip to make her a more difficult target and give some momentum to the weapons as they sailed in front of her.
She didn’t land. She felt herself grabbed, gravity pulling her in the wrong direction, and recognized it as very like her own levitation--she had been telekinetically grabbed in mid jump, and was being lifted uncontrollably into the sky. She was going to have to do something about this. She called on her telekinetic flight, and fought with the other mind for control of her position. She managed to position herself with a better view of the battle below, dropped the now useless whipping chains, and drew her own revolvers. A shot at the white-haired man missed, thanks to the fact that she was still fighting for flight control, but it set him moving instead of shooting.
The redhead was fumbling with something that looked like a bottle, Slade had fully engaged the girl fighter, the white haired man was looking for cover, and the other man seemed to be seeking a target for his gun, so she deduced that the alien was the one who was tossing her around in the air. She took a shot at it, and hit; but the second shot was deflected, as it apparently was also able to produce a shield. She heard the guns of their snipers fire, and it distracted the alien enough that she was able to break its hold on her and fly to a safe landing.
The bottle opened, and fire shot from the neck. It immediately formed into a roughly humanoid shape, something very demonic in appearance but composed of flame, about three or so feet tall.
Lauren had fought vampires, which she always took to be demons in undead flesh. This might be a demon, but somehow she suspected it was instead some kind of fire elemental. That might be a problem--so many of the attacks she used on vampires were fire-based, and she doubted whether a fire-based attack would have much impact on a creature made of fire. It might even strengthen the creature. She also very much doubted that light would have an impact, particularly since it was summoned in broad daylight. Still, it was a spirit, and rumor had it that fire elementals were generally evil, so she had magic to use against evil spirits, and she should unleash it before the thing caused any real harm.
She saw the ground around it go soft; the redhead and the fire elemental were starting to sink. This, she remembered, was one of Shella’s favorite tricks--but it didn’t work this time, as both the redhead and the fire creature left the ground into the air. Obviously they knew how to fly, or at least levitate.
The redhead flinched. Apparently becoming airborne made her a better target for the snipers. However, she was now scanning the area looking for them. Lauren hoped their camouflage was working. She was more concerned about the creature. Pointing at it, she shouted, “And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things,” and the creature stopped moving and cringed.
However, she was suddenly wrenched off her feet; the alien had found her and grabbed her telekinetically again. She fired in its direction, but it was maintaining the shield--it was better at that than she was, she realized, but she was fortunate since several of the enemy had guns and could have shot her while she was otherwise occupied. Again she fought for control of her flight.
Managing to get herself facing the right direction, she saw that the spirit was recovering, and tried to think of another attack. She remembered one, calling “He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet.” She saw no immediate effect, but then remembered that this particular prayer hindered the abilities of spirits to act, so hopefully she had partially incapacitated it for the moment.
She needed to do better, but it was difficult fighting two opponents who were entirely different from each other--one an alien attacking with telekinesis and defending itself with psionic screens, the other a fire elemental. Her efforts to control her movement in the air and avoid a painful collision with the ground were impeding her ability to think of good attacks for the spirit.
That changed quite abruptly. She remembered another attack just as the fire spirit apparently decided to fly toward her. She thought she should be figuring out a way to defend herself against fire, but nothing came to mind, so she shouted “I will camp against you encircling you, and I will set siegeworks against you, and I will raise up battle towers against you. Then you will be brought low; from the earth you will speak, and from the dust where you are prostrate your words will come. Your voice will also be like that of a spirit from the ground, and your speech will whisper from the dust.”
The creature was upon her, and grabbed her with both claws. She shouted in its face, “Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land a desolation; and He will exterminate its sinners from it.” It shuddered but did not release its grip.
She could think of only one option, and hoped that elemental fire and hellfire were two different energies. She began the spell that had finished Horta and almost finished Tubrok, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire--”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with ten other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #343: Worlds Explode. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: