Ch. 18.2 – Alex

Ow. Captain Bastion braced himself against the stadium wall, trying not to think about the dent in his armor, the cracks along his ribs, or the ravaging of his majestas. The armored alien bearing down on him made it easier than Alex imagined. *Molly, take over. My hands are full.*

*Don’t be acting the gom,* Molly chided, banging the heads of her Quadrum foes together. *You’ve fought the Skeptic, Ekaida, and Travesty all in the same fecking hour. You need backup.*

*Your Irish is showing,* Alex replied fondly. With a brief dip into Adaptation, he Blaze-conjured a large gauze pad under his armor. *Look, we’re winning. If I can keep Evil Alien Guy busy long enough, you can all pile on him when you’re done.*

Frightened outrage flared through the Vision bond. *Damn it, Alex, leader is not synonymous with martyr!* Molly sent, grabbing one of the aliens and throwing him at the other. Her target caught his partner instead.

*That’s Dologur,* Ekiada added, *leader of the North American Quadrum, maybe the world’s.* She turned to help, but her own body betrayed her again. With a frustrated snarl, she flew to aid Molly instead. *He’s West’s contact with them, and he’s smart, skilled, and ruthless. If you insist on doing this, don’t let your guard down for a moment.*

Bastion deflected another blast from Dologur’s beam rifle, though it struck the wall just beside him. *Wasn’t planning on it,* he replied, then gave the Quadrum commander his full attention. I wonder why Ekaida doesn’t know his exact rank. He made the ground erupt in front of the approaching soldier, but Dologur simply walked through the explosion, unfazed. Later. Worry about that later.

“You are a persistent annoyance, simian, I’ll grant you that.” Dologur resumed firing on Alex, who managed to deflect the blasts with his sword. Each parry left his rainbow blade duller and weaker. “If you retreat now, I will not give chase.”

“What about my people?” Bastion demanded, firing sapphire beams of force from his eyes. Dologur grunted, slowing his progress. That voice sounds familiar.

“We require the Weaver,” the Regime leader replied, his voice as leaden as his movements. “If you are smart enough to concede her, the rest may go.” His wave of attacks never slowed, bursts of fire occasionally punctuated by a dodge or a change of beam frequency. The alterations to blast type had self-evident purpose, suppressor beams to weaken shields followed by raw force to punch through them. In spite of the chaos, a portion of the knight’s mind realized what he was dealing with. The Quadrum voice from when they took Sara, Alex realized. Is he more than a contact? Has this Dologur been working with West from the beginning?

Once more, Alex drew on his Blaze to flash-bang a foe, surrounding Dologur with sun-bright bursts and sonic explosions. The alien’s faceplate darkened and lightened in perfect time with the flashes, screening them out. If there was any impediment to the man’s aim, Bastion didn’t notice it. Oh boy. I need creativity. Reaching deep into his reserves, Alex took control of a large cylinder of earth just in front of the approaching Quadrum. Once Dologur was entirely within the circle, Alex threw him into the air.

For a few seconds, Captain Bastion thought it worked. He let himself sag against the wall, panting from pain and exhaustion. With a ground-shaking blast, Dologur returned to land, having blasted through the earthen platform. Doesn’t matter how long he’s been at this. I need to deal with him, fast. Grabbing a chunk of concrete about the size of his foe, he slammed Dologur from behind with it, then pounded the fallen alien like a bug. Over and over, Alex hammered the Quadrum commander with the broken wall. The armor started to show signs of scraping, a few dents blossoming along its back.

With a rapid-fire burst, Dologur blew the concrete to dust, then threw a metal sphere at Captain Bastion. He dived away with a pulse of Blaze, but when the sphere erupted, it was with a deadening field somewhat like the Skeptic’s. Alex was able to hold it off by conjuring the Hunter to stand against it, then rolled out of range. Ow. Again. My bag of tricks is almost empty, and he’s just starting to reach into his.

Before Alex could scrape together a plan, though, a surge of new strength roared through him. His wounds vanished. With a simple press of Blaze, he fixed the dents in his armor. The day’s battles felt like the distant past. Whoa. How? A quick glance let him follow threads of Weaving back to Sara, who restored him with one hand and held off Travesty with the other. Hah. My hero. Amusement vanished at the sight of West’s puppet closing in on Night Weaver. Oh no you don’t. Alex sent Blaze back down the conduit, feeding her the power and patterns to hold West off.

In that moment, the battle came to a practical end. The more power Alex sent her, the easier it was for Sara to grant him strength. Mind clear and Majestic arts restored, Captain Bastion recreated his sword and turned a furious glare on his alien foe. “You’re done, Quadrum. Stand down.” Dologur snorted and aimed his rifle again. Bastion threw his sword at it. Propelled by his Blaze, the blade tore through the rifle as though it were cardboard.

The Quadrum stared at his weapon briefly, then threw it aside and grabbed two more spheres from belt compartments. After an instant’s communion with Sara, reassuring him that she was handily overwhelming West, he reached out and crushed the spheres. Every gadget and toy Dologur drew forth, Captain Bastion summoned a tendril of Blaze for, smashing it. “This is the part where you run,” Bastion quipped.

Dologur ran. Heading straight for the puppet, Alex realized. He probably thinks they can take one of us with a double-team. He might even be right. The Blaze Prime smiled. *Victor. Slide me.*

Victor smiled back, and the world shifted. In that moment, Alex was at Sara’s side. The Weaver wasn’t even surprised. She just reached out, and as always, he knew what to do. Taking her hand, Weaver and Knight were one. Hope you wore your brown pants, Travesty, they thought in unison. You’re going to pay for what you’ve done.

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.