I perched myself in the passenger seat, arm wrapped around the seat belt strap as I watched the flatbed speed closer. I shifted my Second Sight and saw he whirling colors of Red and Black that attacked our van. Glancing at Bell, I could see the steady stream of Green following from her as she casted. She still had that maniacal smile affixed, but I could see the strain on her delicate face. I looked back at the truck, using my enhanced sight to pick out the targets.
There was no way that Bell could keep up this level of shielding and her focus on the road. We were getting near the city proper and despite the late hour, there would still be a helluva lot of traffic. I needed to take the fight to them and I needed to do it now. Bell eased off the accelerator and let the truck pull in close. I kept my grip around the seat belt and changed guns, switching from the one loaded with UV rounds to the grenade shells. Slowly I drew a bead on the truck, waiting until I had a clear shot at the User casting. I fired two times, the sound of the shot echoing in the small space. It was a good thing most of the roof was gone off this heap.
Both shots hit him, but exploded off the warded shielding the User had rigged up. I decided to test whether or not that shielding applied to the whole van. I dumped the last two rounds into the flatbed, one towards the engine casing and another towards the passenger wheel well. While the engine was warded, as well as the wheel, the asphalt around the wheel wasn't. The truck thundered hard into the pothole with a tearing sound and I knew that I had done some damage. Time to get up and ugly.
"Be right back Bell."
Forcing my leg into motion I let go off the seat belt, my fingers protesting. Fucking poison. I slammed the empty gun in my holster and planted my good foot on a section of roofing that looked mostly intact over Bell's head. I waited until the van slowed enough to give me a position and in one final heave, I vaulted off the roof and onto the truck.
My aim was a bit off and I landed hard on the hood, my momentum carrying me off the far side. I reached out with my bad left hand and forced it to clamp around one of the wipers. It protested, sending a stream of burning agony up my arm, but it did the job. I let my momentum carry me off the side and swung around to the drivers door, gripping a new handhold on the open window. I looked up to see the driver's shocked expression on his face as I flashed him a smile. I threw a punch square into his jaw and reached for the wheel. Before I could grab it though I jerked my hand back as a spurt of fire engulfed the front cab. FUCKING USERS!
I could feel my flesh sear as my good hand held onto the door but I bent the rest of my body backwards to allow the jet of flame to shoot over head. I grit my teeth and swung my body around to find a footfall on one of the center fenders, my back now to the truck. I planted my bad hand, not trusting it grip and vaulted up onto the flatbed. I dropped on my back as two red bolts of energy flew where I had just been and rolled forward. I had foamy green pus leaking out of my left hand and I couldn't keep a fist formed with it and now my right was a mess of burnt muscle and cracked flesh. Great.
I tried reaching down again, to summon my own brand of Ethereal Energy, but I had pushed myself to far already tonight. Between the demon and the ogre and that fucking troll, I was tapped out. I might have to take a shortcut, one I didn't want to do. Glancing about, I kept on the move and took stock. There were two others on the truck beside the User, one of which was shoving our flash fried driver out of his seat. That left one immediate concern outside of Merlin over there. I saw him pull the lever to load a fresh set of rounds into his sub machine gun, but I had no intention of letting him get a shot off.
I jumped up and rolled over a set of boxes that had been strapped down to the bed as he brought the gun up to bear. As I came across the top of the box I used my foot to kick free one of the clamps holding the box down and threw my body across the other strap. I heard the second strap snap at the measure of the weight and the boxes shifted. I hit hard on the bed of the truck and kicked my right foot behind me to keep moving, my left leg having gone almost totally numbed.
Glancing over my should I watched the boxes roll out hitting the second man, his gun shots chattering wide. The momentum of the boxes pinned him to the short wall of the truck with a crackling thud. I expected to feel fire or some other bolt of energy from the mage but was surprised when I didn't. I rolled on my back and saw why.
Great bolts of magic flew from the User, Red and Black sprays of color that clashed with a hail of Green and Red from Bella. I couldn't see her clearly, but I could tell she was losing. She still had the van in gear but the Green shield surrounding her, and it, was faltering as trails of Black leached into her web. I knew that she was out of her league here, this guy obviously was better than her in Evocation, and his understanding of the Black arts at least paralleled her Elemental skills. She may have had a better chance if she wasn't driving, she couldn't let the truck get out of her line of sight for fear of losing me, or the fight. Time to even the odds, for both of us.
I let go again for the second time of the night, feeling the oily blackness begin to coat my arms and legs. A cleansing burn erupted along my hand and leg as my bodies natural defenses kicked in fighting the poison. I kept my eyes on the driver who was tiring to keep the damaged truck moving and on the road. I felt the hunger deep within, a hunger from a body so empty. Before I could even control it I plunged my left hand, now so nimble, deep into the drivers back. My liquid self drank deep, flooding his body with my corruption and feeding me his life force.
I could feel his life force filling me, replacing the emptiness I felt with his glorious essence, his soul. Despite having fed earlier tonight, I hadn’t really had the chance to savor the moment. I also wasn’t as drained or hurt as I was earlier from when I had feasted. Now the temptation was there in full force, to suckle every morsel from his body. I pulled and pulled, feeling my body grow flush at the returning power, tiny sparks of Orange flickering around me. I have to admit, I almost gave in to the hunger, that is until I heard the scream.
It was so loud, I could hear it over the roar of the truck’s engine and the sounds of energy being fried back and forth. It was a girl’s scream. That’s when everything came flooding back. Belladonna. I snapped into my senses, shaking the cobwebs from my mind and hammering my thoughts into place. How could I have been so fucking weak! I felt even more guilty when I realized I had drained this poor sap into just a dusty whithered husk. That’s why I hated this form, and why I hated transforming. It played with my mind and if I wasn’t paying attention, or I was weak, it could take control. I didn't even take a small measure of comfort in that fact that I hadn't fully transformed, my wings still folded into the inky liquid of my back.
I jerked my head around to see what had happened to Belladonna. Her Green shielding had finally cracked and the feedback had slammed her onto her seat. The User had fired another blast that hit the front of the van and it reared off the road into the waning forest that surrounded Santa Diego. That’s when Merlin here looked back at me.
I had just run out of options really fast and I needed to check on Bell so I went back to Plan A. I reached in at the newly glowing ember of Ethereal energy that had formed since my feeding and I felt it flare into my muscles and skin, re-enforcing the oily black frame that surrounded me. Then I flashed the User my best “Fuck You” smile and jerked the wheel hard to the right and slammed on the breaks. Let’s see your fucking shielding help you now asshole.
The truck jackknifed hard flipping on its side in a spray of metal sparks and smoke. I watched the User go flying off the bed as I tucked myself under the wheel as tight as I could. The truck had been going at a pretty good clip and I felt the entire vehicle shake as it skidded off the road. It wasn’t until we hit the embankment an started rolling that it really hurt. The truck crashed through the fencing that surrounded the dry canal that ran along the outskirts of Santa Diego. The canal had been built to get water to the outlying farms in the early days, but now was mostly used to vent off flood waters. It was dry this time of year but as we hit the embanked walls the trucked tipped side over side I got thrown from the truck, sliding down the side of the canal.
I felt the gravel and pavement cut into my body, but my transformation offered me better protection. When I came to a stop at the bottom of the canal I rolled over and looked at the truck. It lay in a smoldering heap, small fires having started already. With a concentrated effort I pulled myself up. Concentrating, I closed my eyes and willed my body to transform back, the black liquid recessing into my pores. After several calming breaths, I opened them again and took stock. I had lost one of my guns somewhere and my shirt was ripped. My jacket, my precious jacket, had scuffs and gravel stains from sliding down the embankment. At least I hadn’t fully transformed, or the wings would have ripped out the back. I flushed my system with my magic, feeling its healing effects flow to damaged body parts before walking to the smoldering truck. It felt good to have use of my leg and hand again. I also knew that I would have to check on this fucking User before heading back to Bell, if he was alive, I needed to know first, as much as it hurt to know that Bell may be in worse shape.
I saw the User almost right away. His shielding had held initially, pretty impressive. He was trapped under the truck. It looked like he had gotten thrown forward and maybe caught up in the wheel as the truck hit him, carrying him over the side with me. Somewhere between that point and the impact on the canal floor, his shields cracked. His legs where broken and bloody under the truck, and his right arm hung at an unnatural angle. More impressive yet, he was still alive. I reached into my rig and freed one of my silver knives. Admiring my reflection in the gleaming blade, I bent down.
“My, my. Now, what have I found here? I think we need to discuss some business, and if I don’t like your answers, I can make your last few minutes here a LOT more fucking unpleasant. Now let’s start with something like who the fuck sent you after me?”
I accentuated the last point by placing the blade along his stomach, pressing the tip hard enough to see traces of red form on the fabric of his tunic. He looked me in the eyes for a moment before closing his. Blood began to trickle from his mouth, maybe internal bleeding.
“Half…breed, who sent me tonight…..should be the LEAST of your worries.”
He ended that with a short barking laugh, before smiling at me, all the while his eyes still close. I caught the whiff of ozone before I could detect the source. His arm caught fire, erupting in a flame that quickly consumed his whole body in a bright blue geyser. I flashed my Sight on, catching the waning glow of a sigil. Sigil magic was some dangerous shit to put on your arm, anyone who knew the sigil and could cast could trigger the effects, or even turn off whatever they did. The fact that this guy was rigged with a sigil to fucking kill him meant that whoever down here was trying to kill me didn’t want me finding out.
Shaking my head, I slipped the knife hack into its sheath and made my way back up the slope at a quick pace. I could see the damaged headlights of the van down the road and broke into a sprint. As I got close to the van, I could see Bell still slumped over the wheel, her body still slightly smoking. I gingerly leaned her head back and tried to assess her. She had a huge bump on her forehead and a pretty deep cut on her scalp. I sent a small probe of my essence into her, assessing any internal damage, gladly finding none.
"Bell? Belladonna? Can you hear me?”
She stirred slightly, her eyelids fluttering before she woke with a soft moan. She raised her left hand, trying to cup her head and winced, finding she couldn't move it. Finally she looked over to me, a small smile crossing her split lip.
“Fuck me Develin, your getting a fucking license. I don’t wanna drive anymore.”
End of Line.