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Flash Fiction – What Goes Up October 30, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated every week as a part of #fridayflash on twitter.  If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.

Grimm was quite literally in his element, and loving every minute of it.  The hound stood with his claws sunk into the basket of the hot air balloon, his nose to the wind and his shaggy grey fur blowing madly around him.  “Let some air out of the far side, short-stuff. We need to run ahead of this storm.”


“Got it.” Nox concentrated on controlling the air inside the balloon.  She was sitting between Grimm’s front paws – the balloon was bucking like a startled horse in the fierce winds, and she had to use his legs to brace herself.

Loki stood with one of the vine ropes wrapped around his forearm, balancing easily against the violent motion. He peered out into the darkness and flung bursts of flame out to fry the Chimaera that were circling them.  “You know, on a sailing ship people generally try to steer clear of cliffs.”

“We need to land, and the cliff tops are closer than the river valley.  Have some faith, fireborn. I have done this before.”

Flashes of lightning illuminated the dark clouds behind them, swiftly followed by the rolling boom of thunder.  The Chimaera cried out as one and wheeled away, darting down to the ground far below.

“You see? Even they think flying toward a cliff is a bad idea,” Loki said.

Grimm gave him a sour look. “That was not a panic move, it was a reply to an order. Someone is controlling them.”

The sky turned an eerie white as a cluster of lightning strikes walked towards them.  Nox blinked to clear the spots out of her eyes.  “Oh, that’s not good. I’d say the Chimaera aren’t the only thing the Morning Lord controls.”

“Hmph. He may have learned how to access the Storm key, but he is still a rank amateur at steering the weather.” Grimm nudged Nox’s shoulder with his nose. “All right, little one. It is time you learned to read the air currents like I do. Can you see that updraft forming on the edge of the storm?”

She shifted to look over the edge of the basket. “No…oh wait, yes. I got it.”

“Good. Let some air out of the balloon to steer us over to it.”

“Hah, we’re going to take the express route to the cliff top!” Nox concentrated on aiming a tight jet of air out of the balloon to maneuver them.  It was not easy, with her mother’s spell restricting what she could do with Air, but she fought past it with a furious determination.  The basket lurched as they crossed into the airstream.

“Very good! Now, get ready to move us out of the current, we do not want to get flung too high.”

The cliffs loomed in front of them.  Loki hunkered down inside the basket and braced himself for a rough landing. “Are you going to need more heat?”

No, but if you can pull the heat out of the air, it will make the landing go a bit faster.”

“Just say the word.”

They were getting close enough to the cliffs to see the striations in the rocks.  More turbulence shook the basket as they moved upwards.  “It will get rough as we hit the crosswinds at the top. Be ready to compensate, and move us out of the stream.”

Nox was shaking from the effort of fighting Serenna’s spell and keeping them steady at the same time, but smiled as Grimm sent a wave of confidence through his thoughts.

“You can do this, little one. It is in your blood.”

The basket rocked as they crested the top, jerking left and right and back again. Nox cried out as she fought past the spell, and a gust of air shoved the balloon sideways across the cliff.

Grimm shouted, “Now, fireborn!”

Loki glowed as bright as the sun, and the silk of the balloon deflated overhead. They hit the ground with a tremendous thump, bounced up and swung sideways, tugged by the half-full balloon. Grimm barked and the balloon collapsed with a whoosh as the sound wave pushed the last of the air out.  They hit the ground with another jarring thump and finally came to a stop.

Grimm let out whurfs of doggy laughter. “Not bad for your first landing. You even avoided the trees!”

“My pride would never let me live that down,” Nox said, rubbing her backside.  “Argh, between the horses and the rough landings, my butt will never be the same.”

Loki gave her a roguish grin. “I can always give you a massage.”

The hound snickered as Nox turned a bright red. “Why don’t we focus on getting back down to the valley, hmm?” He tilted his head, ears cocked forward. “It sounds like the battle there is just getting started.”

Nox walked stiffly over to the cliff’s edge.  “We have a good vantage point from up here. We may do more good as spotters than down in the middle of things.”

Grimm shook his head. “No, once this storm rolls in we will not be able to see anything.”  He stopped and stood perfectly still, listening intently.  His ears swiveled forward, then back.   “Yes, Lucien, I can hear you. They are fine, your daughter is a natural with Air… Oh.  That is a very good question, I will ask.” Grimm cocked an ear toward his friends.  “Lucien can keep the storm from flooding the valley, but that takes him out of the battle.  He wants to know what we can do.”

“Why can’t Kel step in, he knows how to use the weatherscope,” Nox asked.

“He does not have your finesse, little one. He would only get in Lucien’s way.”

Nox tapped a finger against her lips and studied Loki and Grimm speculatively.

“Uh oh, I know that look,” Loki said.

“She’s thought of something.”

“And we are probably not going to like it.”

Nox smiled impishly. “Actually, I think you boys are going to love it…”

(to be continued)

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1. Sam Adamson - October 30, 2010

I’m shattered just reading this! Excellent descriptions of the balloon flight and, as always, some brilliant character interactions. I can just picture Grimm with his ears flapping in the breeze.

Oh, Nox, what have you thought up this time?

techtigger - November 4, 2010

I shattered you? Oops! (hands back little peices of Sam) Do you want some crazy glue? 😉

but seriously, thank you! I’m glad you’re having fun reading it 🙂

2. Laura Eno - October 31, 2010

Angie! What a place to leave off…arghh! I still want to pin her mother to a specimen board and pull her fingernails out. Loved the doggy description of Grimm hanging out the window, so to speak. 🙂

techtigger - November 4, 2010

heheheheh – still the cliffhanger queen! *lol* I love writing doggy Grimm, he’s just too much fun 🙂

3. Gracie - November 1, 2010

Brilliant! I love the descriptions of the way they work the air and the heat. And talk about a cliffhanger. And I’m with Laura, too– pull out all Serenna’s teeth as well as her fingernails.

Excellent episode!

techtigger - November 4, 2010

wow, you guys really hate her mother! Cool! heheheh

4. Cecilia Dominic - November 5, 2010

Another fun one! Loved the description of them almost being close enough to see the striations in the cliff. I like how Loki, Nox, and Grimm make a great team — it would’ve been so easy for you to have Grimm and Loki jealous of each other, but I like this way much better.


techtigger - November 17, 2010

I had thought about the jealousy thing, but Grimm is so much older that it really would have been a bit silly. To him, they’re practically children. And Loki is a smart guy, he knows that if he gets on Grimm’s bad side, dating Nox is going to be difficult. They may disagree on things, but they generally play well together 😉

5. Mari Juniper - December 1, 2010

The good thing about catching up is that I don’t have to wait another week for the next episode. Wheee! 😀

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