Ch. 18.1 – Sara

Chanting in ancient languages, Sara Taylor channeled the full might of Weaving into her body and through her soul. I remember, she thought, almost weeping at the glory flowing through her. This is why we call it Majestic. Through his puppet, Travis drove his brutal Vision at the Weaver. Spikes of cruel privilege and chains of ruthless dominance sought to bind her will. From his assault, Sara’s threads fed her an image of West himself, sitting on his pseudo-throne in the blimp. Travis’ entire body was rigid, fingers twisted around the armrests, suit spattered with blood, the merest hint of enraged spittle on his lips. Ew.

Sara’s smile was serene in spite of what West had done to her. With a casual twitch of her fingers, she unraveled his attacks with the Weave. “It’s over, West,” Night Weaver taunted, circling the armored Regnant. “Please, don’t give up.”

“By all means, implicate a wealthy bystander,” the figure spat. “At least I’ll get one victory out of this.” Sara raised an eyebrow at her assailant. Does West really think he can cover his ass with a trick that weak? she wondered briefly. One Weave-boosted glance at the news teams across the field refuted her belief. Then again, rich white boy. He’s probably right. Regnant charged at her, grasping with black gauntlets, body surging with his own Anima talent.

I’ve got to admit, puppet boy’s good, Sara noted. Calling on Victor’s aid, she slowed time just enough with their combined Rift Adaptation to make grabbing Regnant’s wrists simple. She dropped, twisted, rolled onto her back, put her boot on his rib cage, and kicked him ten yards away. “I was trained by one of the greatest Ghost Dragons alive, Travesty,” she said, smirking, while her foe landed in a heap. Sara didn’t bother getting up yet, winking at him, a cheek resting on one hand. “Now that I’ve got my Anima back, you’re in over your head.”

“Stop calling me that!” he roared, rolling to his feet. “I am the Prime Regnant – a sovereign among Majestic!” The puppet rolled to his feet, whipping out his morning star and holding it at the ready. “We are two made one,” Regnant snarled, Vision and Anima flowing together. “You still can’t win.”

Better make sure it stays two. A quick Weave trace found Travis’ Rift master on his blimp, unable to target Sara’s friends thanks to Victor’s protection. An equally rapid scan found the rest of the Complex’s forces occupied with her teammates. Night Weaver levitated herself to her feet, holding up her wrist. Rose’s newly-repaired bracelet gleamed in the sunlight. “We’re nine made one,” she retorted, smirking at him. “Your move, Travesty King.”

With a scream of primal frustration, Travesty charged, mace howling with life-reaving malice. That mace is going to be trickier than a simple judo toss, the Weaver thought, stepping back. Inspiration struck with an almost-literal spark. Drawing on her knight’s talent, Sara Wove a force shield in front of her. Regnant slammed his mace into it, but the shield merely rippled like a lake in a breeze. After double-checking to make sure she was only drawing on Alex’s skill rather than his wavering reserves, Night Weaver grinned and shook a finger at the puppet. “Nope! My turn.” With a simple evocation of power, Sara created a small explosion of force that threw her armored foe back.

Ignoring his latest screams, Sara briefly turned her attention to the battle. At last, Alex was using his talent to guide the team, somehow directing all their efforts at once. The Captain’s directions had Ekaida throwing a wailing Quadrum warrior into a pair of Sanction agents Powerstar had been fighting. In turn, Powerstar was able to throw a Gray Company agent into another Quadrum sniper targeting Wonder Rose. That freed Rose up to blast another pair of Quadrum soldiers fighting Molly. So it went, in a chain of teamwork and camaraderie, turning the tide. He’s leaving West to me, she realized, so I can un-Weave his tyrannical, sexist narrative. I love you. Her mind briefly flickering to his, Sara realized that Alex was picturing each moment in the combat chain as a comic book panel.

Permitting herself a laugh, the Weaver brought the very earth to life, pinning her foe before he could stand. Travesty burst from the sod, Anima giving him strength greater than mere animation. “If you will not serve,” he said, raising his mace again, “then you will die.” He leaped at her, mace raised high.

“I choose Option C: kicking your sorry ass!” Sara’s next explosive Weave was literal, conjuring gunpowder and flame for a single overwhelming detonation. That tossed Travesty into the air, armor singed and cracked. Somehow, the puppet rolled with the blast, landing roughly on his feet. Wait, how did West do that? Sara risked delving into her opponent with a Weaving probe. What she found made the Weaver recoil in horror. He’s not a slave, she realized, he’s a mercenary! Travis wasn’t lying, Anima-guy really is cooperating with him. Sara braced herself, drawing on power both cosmic and subtle, the universe itself swirling at her touch. “You’re going down, Travesty King!”

Anima-guy shuddered, then turned toward the reporters. Sara followed his look, only to laugh again as she caught them using “Travesty King” to describe him. His Vision narrative’s beaten. Time for West to join it. She brought her attention back to the battle first, and struck through Anima-guy, reaching into West’s very majestas with her Weaving. I won’t erase someone even if I can, not even him, she decided, but there’s no reason I can’t lock him down for a while.

In her mind, Captain Bastion bit back a scream, tearing through the ground like a bullet. He came to a stop a few yards from the far wall. Tracing the attack, Sara followed it back to the most heavily-armored Quadrum she’d ever seen. His suit had an extra, false finger on each gauntlet, allowing him to seem a bulky human. He carried an enormous beam rifle, and Sara felt its power ripple through the Weave itself. Particle beam and suppressor in one, she realized. Subtle knives of worry tore at her when Alex rose shakily, one hand clutching his ribs, his mind screening pain from their bond.

The Weaver’s distraction allowed West to drive her out, though it hardly mattered. I have to help him. She glanced at Anima-guy, breath churning like a train engine as he hefted his morning star. This is going to get tricky. Smacking down West will have to wait. With another surge of life force, Travesty shot toward her, the shared body stronger than ever. Oh crap!

Robin Flanagan (they/them), aka Peter Flanagan, lives in California with their wonderful wife and muse, a stepson, and a crazed feline. An occasionally too-avid player of and writer for tabletop roleplaying games, their other passion is metaphysics, which informs most of their fiction.