This is what it’s come to, and you knew it was coming. If they’re moving and contact, and the last thing you remember is someone getting dragged off by Octo-boy, then there’s gonna be a fight. And here it is–
It’s not a good place for Kerry right now, and things are about to dive right down the toilet for the poor kid. How bad is it going to get?
“My money’s on the non-human.”
Your money’s no good here, Hastur.
Let’s look in and see for ourselves.
(All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)
Kerry was frozen, held in place by surprise and terror. This was on of the creatures that made it through the screen breach: some octopus-like monstrosity that seemed to scurry along or spider or crab legs. He sat there on his PAV, Emma’s broom in his right hand, and listened to her scream as the creature kept her pinned against the wall of The Diamond—
It’s going to kill her.
Another voice in Kerry head responded. What are you going to do about that?
Do? I can’t do anything.
Yes, you can. You have the call sign of a hero, a woman who wasn’t afraid of anything, who would do anything to help her friends. You are a witch and a sorceress; you can do anything. Are you going to let your wingmate get eaten?
Are you going to let her die?
Keep your wits about you—
Kerry mumbled between clenched teeth. “—When everything is going to hell around you.” He raised the broom in his right hand and charged his broom forward, screaming as loud as possible.
When all else fails and you don’t know what to do, attack. Scream. Go at . . . things. Even if you’re not sure you’re doing the right thing. Because sometimes you score–
The sixth or seventh blow failed to attract the creature’s attention, and Kerry knew he had to do something fast or Emma was gone. He he couldn’t use an Air Hammer foci to chop at this thing—but there was nothing that said he couldn’t use the spell for stabbing. Kerry pulled back a couple of meters and fashioned the spell around the forward tip of Emma’s broom. He didn’t know how many shots he’d get with this, or even if it was going to be effective, but he had no choice: Emma’s screams were fading, and for all he knew she was already dying . . .
Kerry sailed into the creature again, this time using the Air Hammer foci for Emma’s broom to harpoon the monster. A blueish-green liquid jetted out of the puncture wound, splashing all over his jacket and gloves. He pulled it out with difficulty; this creature may look like an ambulatory octopus, but it wasn’t an invertebrate, making it far harder to damage—
He finally managed to get its attention, though—and piss it off at the same time.
And sometimes you piss off the wrong thing. Not like that wasn’t going to happen, though, right?
The creature spun around and knocked the broom from Kerry’s hands. Three tentacles reach for him, but he was quick enough to back away some six or seven meters before they could latch on and drag him away. His breathing quickened; he fought to keep from shaking and loosing control of his senses and mind.
He had his first real look at the monster he faced.
He saw the thick spider-like legs, eight of them holding the creature off the ground. He couldn’t tell how many tentacles the thing had: there were at least six around the body, maybe eight, but there are more around the face, perhaps six, maybe more. The mouth was lip-less and wide, stretching nearly all the way across the three meter wide body. It was impossible to tell the color of the creature’s hide; everything in the low-light goggles was tinged green.
But the eyes . . . They weren’t human, or even like those of an octopus, but rather eight large saucers maybe twenty or twenty-five centimeters across, ringed around the mouth and up onto what passed for a forehead. It opened its mouth and showed a double row of pointed teeth, perfect for piercing and tearing.
It reared back and turned loose a low rumbling growl that made Kerry’s teeth vibrate. He knew what it was: ultra low frequency sound. It must be adapted to do this . . . It hurt his head and nearly made him throw up, but as Professor Lovecraft taught, he kept his wits about him. For the first time since the breach he was glad he had to ride a broom due to his damaged knee, because Kerry knew he couldn’t out maneuver this thing on foot.
He would have died the moment it turned on him.
In case you’re wondering, twenty to twenty-five centimeters is eight to ten inches, but those Foundation people: they drill the metrics into you. And those are big eyes–all eight of them staring back at you, sizing you up for dinner.
It moved slowly towards him, snarling, not with low frequency sounds, but as an animal would do before killing its prey. The tentacles around the mouth began writhing, and Kerry figured it was going for a quick kill: probably grab him with the larger tentacle’s, then pull him close to the mouth, have those tentacles latch on, and . . .
And he wasn’t about to make himself a late afternoon snack for some mutated Spawn of Cthulhu.
The creature leapt at him, screaming, it’s mouth wide open, the tentacles reaching—
He pulled hard to his left and dodge it, then turned to face it in time to dodge another leap. He wanted to check on Emma, but he couldn’t take his eyes off this thing, not for a moment. If he did—
Kerry couldn’t help himself, however; he had to know. He glanced to his left—
The monster charged forward.
Important lesson learned: never take your eye off the Cthulhu creature. Even if it’s driving you mad. Fortunately, the kid has his wits about him . . .
Kerry threw up his hands and tossed out the biggest Air Hammer spell he could pulled together. The creature slammed into it and stopped dead in the air about two meters from the front of his broom. He didn’t damage it, but he did shield himself from the attack.
I can’t keep this up for long, though. Kerry figured someone would come soon, but he was worried that if he continued to fight this thing it would grow bored and go after Emma again—or, worse, attract the attention of identical creatures.
He couldn’t continue to wait.
He had to act.
He was frightened, breathing hard, fighting to hold himself together—
He held out his right arm and extended his middle finger at the monster intent on killing him. “Come on, bitch.” He spit at the thing. “Come ON.”
The creature hurled itself at Kerry.
There was only one thing to do . . .
He jerked upward on this control shaft as hard as possible and shot forty meters into the air. He was vaguely aware that the creature was off the ground and coming for him. He turned hard to his left and sailed over the roof of The Diamond, accelerating as he turned towards the north and The Pentagram. He cast a quick glance behind: the creature was there, maybe eight meters behind. It kept pace with him as he picked up speed and rocketed over the Flight School and Selena’s Meadow.
He was running; the only thing left to do was get on the comm and tell someone. “Nightwitch, this is Starbuck.” He looked out over the school before him, trying to put the things intent on devouring him out of his mind. “I’ve got something chasing me, and I need help. I need it now. Someone, HELP.”
There you go. Emma left in an unknown state, and Kerry zooming through the darkening sky with Octo-squid monster after him. And that’s where I’m going to leave her, because the next scene takes us back into the Great Hall–
Because I don’t like leaving people helping people out of the action.
–Which is going to move the action forward just a little more. Chapter Twenty-two is almost finished.
And it’s going out with something of a bang.