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Flash Fiction – Breaking Point June 11, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This story is part of a weekly series, updated every friday. Click Here to read from the beginning.

The ruined city of the wind elementals was crawling with dark shapes, their high-pitched wails cutting through the chill morning air. Nox stood between the crenellations that lined the top of the city walls, and leaned out to look down at the Shadowkin-bred creatures gathering below.  She tried to count how many of them had come hunting for her, but lost count after four hundred.

Grimm padded over to stand beside her, his claws clicking on the stone parapet.  “Don’t tease the monsters, short-stuff.  It’s rude.”

“We need to break this spell mother put on me, furball.  The fastest way to do that is to push its boundaries until it cracks.”

The hound gave her a sympathetic look. “I know you want to fly, little one, it’s the first thing every air elemental tries to do.  But we need to get out of here. Every time you try to summon the wind, it will only draw in more creatures. We are horribly out-numbered already, and this is not a defensible position.”

“If we don’t break this spell now, we might as well go straight back home.  I can’t help your break your own curse if I’m not playing with a full deck myself,” she said. “Think about it, if something compromises a person’s psyche, it leaves them open to other kinds of mental attacks.  Look at how close the Shadowkin came to making me kill Loki. Do you think they could have gotten a hold on me so easily, unaided?”

“Damn. Your mother left the door wide open for them,” Grimm growled.

“The Shadowkin won’t stop coming after me, now that they’ve found a weakness. You know it.”

“Even so, I know what you are thinking of doing, and I don’t like it.  Not one bit. What if you’re wrong?”

“I’m not wrong,” Nox said, with more confidence than she was feeling.  She stepped back a few paces, her heart hammering in her chest.  “Wish me luck,” she said, and took a running leap out into space.

Five stories is a long way to fall.

There was enough time to think about what she had done. Time for her mind to batter desperately against the spell that held her powers in check. Time enough for fear, and for the agonizing backlash from the compulsion to hit.  There was even time, as the ground rushed up to meet her, for regret.

She was close enough to see that the eyes of the monsters glowed, even in daylight, when the compulsion spell loosened.  It wasn’t much, but it was enough to keep her from becoming one with the ground.  She summoned a wind shear that tossed her sideways like a leaf in a gale. Another effort of will got her high enough to keep the beasts from jumping up to grab her.

Nox could hear Grimm’s triumphant howl as she soared upwards. “It’s too soon to celebrate, furball,” she said. “That was just the emergency release mother always builds into her spells.  The minute I’m safe, the compulsion will kick back in.”  She turned slowly around, getting a feel for moving in the air streams.  “So, what can I do to stay in trouble?”

“I don’t think that is going to be a problem,” Grimm said. “Look to your left. Those small dots on the horizon are airborne predators.  You had better come back, you don’t have the skill for aerial combat.”

“I don’t, but you do. You’re a telepath, just dump the skills into my head.”

Grimm snapped at her.  “You know I can’t remember much.”

“Then ask Tyrus, or one of the other ghosts here.  Try, Grimm!  When that spell resets, I’ll be lucky if I can look out a window without getting the shakes. The longer it’s down, the easier it’ll be to break it later.”

“You are not used to channeling the amount of energy it takes to fight in the air! You will burn yourself out, you need to land!”

“Too late, here they come!”

Grimm spat out a few curses before snapping out orders at her.  “Get above them. You are small, fight like a peregrine.  Harden your aura around you, dive and slam them with it like a fist.  Then get your altitude back again. The minute they gain the upper air, you are dead.”

“That tactic will only get one at a time, Grimm. I need something that will take out large numbers.”

“Quit arguing and get above them, dammit!”

Nox flew higher, until the air grew thin and she had to peer down through wisps of clouds.  The dots had grown into mottled grey shapes, with wings and long, thin tails.  They looked like a cross between a bird and some sort of large rodent.  “And they call pigeons sky rats,”  Nox said, and solidified her aura around her in a glimmering sphere.

Grimm snorted. “Save the jokes for later, short-stuff.” He sent a private thought to Tyrus before speaking to her again. “Use the clouds as cover; we’ll spot targets for you.  Keep the sun at your back, and whatever you do, don’t stop. If you lose air speed, they will sink those claws into you and drag you down.”

Nox streaked downwards, leaving vapor trails in her wake.  The impact as she hit the first flying rat caused her to rebound with a jerk that snapped her head back.  She fought off the stars that filled her vision and worked to get above them again.

Grimm called out to her. “To your right, angle down and curve back up.”

Nox hurried to comply, and took down another rat.  “Two down, fifty or so to go.  No sweat,” she said.   already feeling fatigued.  Controlling the winds while both fighting the creatures, and the spell was taking its toll.

Grimm rumbled at Tyrus, “Tell him I said to hurry.” Then, to Nox, “Hang in there, little one. Help is on the way.”

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1. Gracie - June 11, 2010

Awesome! Get ’em, Nox! Ahem. Exciting stuff, Angie. I was up there flying with her. Loved it. 🙂

techtigger - June 11, 2010

I had “Aces High” by Iron Maiden stuck in my head the whole time I was writing it *grinz* 🙂

2. Valerie - June 11, 2010

So exciting! Hope the help reaches her in time. Minor typo: “And they call pigeons sky rats.” Nox said (should be comma after rats). Can’t wait for the next part!

techtigger - June 11, 2010

Got the typo, thank you! 🙂

3. Marisa Birns - June 11, 2010

Quite a thrilling installment! Two down and fifty more to go?

“So what can I do to stay in trouble?” Nox asked.

As Grimm said, don’t think that’s a problem for her! 🙂

techtigger - June 11, 2010

*lol* No, Nox never has a hard time finding trouble 🙂

I can’t help but feel some sympathy for her mother, even though she handles things the wrong way. Imagine raising a child that thinks nothing of jumping off 5 story buildings!

4. ganymeder - June 12, 2010

Poor Nox dealing with the consequences of her mother’s bad choices. Hopefully help will come soon!

techtigger - June 14, 2010

it’s amazing how one bad decision can snowball all out of proportion – poor nox, indeed!

5. Sam - June 13, 2010

Fabulous episode, and what a song to use for inspiration! 😀

There’s nothing like on-the-job combat flight training, eh? 😉

techtigger - June 14, 2010

We have that song, and a bunch of others by Iron Maiden on RockBand – I can’t sing, but I belt it out anyway!

Nox is learning dogfighting… from a dog *grinz* Poor Grimm, if his fur wasn’t already grey she’d be giving him grey hair! 🙂

6. Mari Juniper - June 19, 2010

This hits home in so many ways! I love my flying dreams, with battle scenes and all. Had much fun reading it Angie, as usual. 🙂

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