The flock of homunculi that spread across the desert sands resembled the Elder, if he had been crossbred with something avian. The outlines of dozens of shadows that crossed over Koen and I revealed that much. The talons in place of feet and hands were the most obvious. Add to that the reptilian tails and extended fangs. The two that landed by us seemed to be unsure whether to hop like birds or crawl across the sands like a lizard, and seemed to settle for something in between.
One member of the flock landed on my shoulder. If sniffed at me, and I winced as its talons sank through my jacket and pierced the skin...
"Sorry," it croaked, and loosened its grip and leaned from one talon to the other.
"Did you find...?"
A fourth creature fluttered to my feet and released Ash's soul-shard. It stared up at me as it nudged the bone towards my boots.
"Build?" It cocked its head and looked up at me with beady red eyes.
I stared at the glowing sigils flickering across the bone. The oscillations seemed to be correct. The Elder...this projection of him at least seemed to carry him with no trouble...
I removed a glove and grasped the shard.
Marcus fled as the rocket approached.
"Typical. Off to seize the next body."
"Going", chirped the crowd of small Bloodwings around me, as if coming to a spontaneous and unanimous decision. "Fauve."
They rose as one, and drifted off towards the horizon.
He is off to be rebuilt.
"He doesn't want me healing him again. He's afraid I'll...go too far again." An awkward moment, as I was speaking to the result of said effort telepathically.
The Cala refugees must be our first priority. If the local Consulate still stands, leave me there. They will deliver me to Steeltopia. My spare frame is stored there. The Baron will be asking for a report.
"Do you still want to be a Jager, Ash?"
A long pause. Observe my current state.
"You'd be dead now. There would probably be not enough left of you to reanimate."
The smell of smoke flared in my nostrils as flakes of grey floated past me.