Friday, March 27

The Return to Fusang: Crescendo

(Continued from Hotspur O'Toole's files)

I brought for myself and Hotspur with a set of earplugs to protect us from the din of the pom-pom guns and from the Song. They were the same devices I used in Hong Kong when Fuzzball and the Cappers were trying to defeat the Deadly Ringer. I added a few more fail safe systems...we can't have another Ramsey on our hands...and I don't have a demon inside me anymore to pull me back into the fray.

The Black Ocean soldiers were fighting like automatons...lining up like musketeers and firing in unison. Failing to take basic defensive maneuvers. Not registering pain when wounded, falling only when the spine was severed or blood loss brought all life functions to a stop. Sparks were few and far between in this region. This had to be powerful magic at work.

"That's it," I thought, "keep up your soliloquy. You have no idea I speak Mandarin, do you?"

Hotspur had wanted me to use a horn to signal the troops. I had to conserve my breath...I fired a flare gun into the air instead. They charged.

I watched Hsieh Lieng from behind the artillery emplacement. As I stared at him, my eyes focused on his aura. His breastplate was obviously enchanted. The black pearl radiated with dark tendrils with each syllable he uttered. Their flag is a black pearl. Black Ocean...yes, that was their relic of power!

I tapped Hotspur on the shoulder and pointed to Lieng's gorget. "There." I whisper.

Hotspur shouts a command to his troops, and they dive for cover, holding their palms to their ears.

The air around me rippled as my words and gestures pulled at the fabric of reality itself. I took one long, deep breath, siphoning the raw magic into my lungs. I focused my ch'i from a balanced, life-sustaining aura into a ray of palpable force. My lips parted, and a screech like a bird of prey the size of a mountain ripped through the din of war.

The shock waves radiated from my starting point towards the enemy. I narrowed the cone to Hsieh Ling himself. The artifact had remarkable resistance. But its source of power was also it's Achilles' Heel.

Mr. Tesla told me once why he never allowed women wearing pearls to be present in the room when he gave a demonstration of his Oscillator. Pearls shatter.

With a plume of ebon force, the metal cracked with the rapport of a lightning bolt. The drones trembled before dropping their weapons and collapsing in shivering heaps to the ground. I ended the spell and took a ragged breath. My stomach promptly released its contents. Several times over.

Dizzier than I should have been. The wards were weakening. I was too weak to fight.

I know your bloodline, Doctor. The Dragon Who Waits drove the Demon of Blood Wings out of the Middle Kingdom long ago. I would do the world a favor by disposing of you...

Hotspur shook me out of my delirium. My ears were ringing from the enchantment. , but I read his lips...Hit Me? I pull back my shoulder and throw a weak punch. HIT ME! he yells. I cast a look to Angus behind him. He nods. I spin him around to get a wallop across the jaw.

I stand back as his skin flushes crimson and he begins to grow in size. Lycanthropy? No...berserker rage. How mighty your ancestors must have been, O'Toole. You may have Cu Chulain himself in your family tree.

Hotspur charged Lieng, who was rapidly shifting into a reptilian form. As near to death as I was, I took a step forward...

...and red clawed hands reached around me to pull me back.

"Koen! No!"

His whiskers brushed against my face as he growled in my ear.

"Even at your best wouldn't be strong enough to kill the Dragon, Doc! Vortex might, but he's fighting the Hydra! We're getting you someplace safe!"

Darkness enveloped me...

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