Episode 51

Spines of metal mesh inlay upon crystal speckled stone rattle along the back of dire wolf golem when it stomps heavily upon the hole perimeter. The thunderous noise echoes within the cavernous chamber and a stale repeat reflects up, distantly from the dark pit. A green glow radiates out from the lupine construct and bright white highlights pulse a surface maze of channels. Its two meter tall and wide, nearly five meter long quadraped frame of stone, metal, and crystal impacts the outer walkway surface solidly. From the central platform over the dark abyss, Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, Sebastian, and Sotalia watch the approach and peer from impromptu hiding spots with dread upon their faces. Aristespha ducks down behind a storage crate, calms her breathing to focus, and carefully gestures out an incantation. A faint layer of magical flow just above her skin ripples briefly to opacity and fades. Sotalia glances over, drops down, and performs similar motions with worry looming. "Good idea. Whew... Check the mage barrier."

Cideeda's ears flick down with each loud footstep and she watches Aristespha and Sotalia enviously. "Whenever I'm able, one of you NEEDS to teach me THAT."

Bach kneels down behind another container, rests the forehead of his helmet head on the metal side, and sighs anxiously. While readjusting the strap underneath his chin, he smirks weakly at Cideeda. "Will definitely do so. But..."

He clenches a shaking hand into a fist, grimaces, and peers just above the top of the storage box with a wary stare at the golem. "Even that might not help much with this thing. It's got an Elder Energy core in it somewhere."

Aristespha nods solemnly and grits her teeth. "The damned sword is always accurate in that regard."

Sebastian raises his head high enough to view the creature and frowns sternly. "Okay. Let's see if we can get clear of this thing. This is not something we want to fight here."

Scanning the bridge connecting the platform to the perimeter walkway, Dretphi grumbles in frustration, shakes her head, and directs her voice towards the rest of the team. "I do NOT advise crossing the bridge. Presently. Golem approaching opposing side. Exposed on the bridge. In direct danger on perimeter."

Sotalia stares right at the entry doors to the chamber and cracks a grin. "Maybe we could fly over? We'd have to ferry over Cideeda and Dretphi, and assist Bach, but it's not that far."

Bach hesitates briefly, but musters his resolve. "That's actually not a bad idea, if we are careful."

Puzzling under her face visor, Dretphi mulls over the concept to a reserved acceptance. "Possible solution. Time our transit. Allow the golem upon the bridge. Lengthen its route."

A devious smiles graces Cideeda's mouth and she perks her ears and brow. "Especially, if we leave behind a wad of breaching charges to shake it up when we all get on the outer perimeter."

Aristespha reluctantly sighs and twist her lips in thought. "The problem is that this golem is a machine of war. I would not be surprised if it had counter measures or ranged capabilities."

Sebastian smiles reassuringly to Aristespha and nods in agreement. "That is something we need to make sure of, dear."

He searches the area and analyzes the architecture. "Especially, since I can't find a route that wouldn't put us in line of sight of that thing. Okay. Let me test it to see if and how it reacts to me."

Hovering to the edge of the platform, Sebastian zooms out above the hole and flies straight towards the exit. The dire wolf golem halts its progress and waits. Its head stiffly sweeps at the platform. The moment Sebastian appears in view, the creature's head locks onto the target. Back spines flip forward and crackle as arcs of magical energy flow into them. Inscriptions glow green and white energy condenses upon the very sharp tips. Seconds later, a barrage of energy bolts project from the spines. The projectiles fly in straight out before sharply turning to rocket into Sebastian's predicted flight path. A swarm of white-tipped, green bolts saturates Sebastian's aerial position. A few direct hits later, Sebastian's visage dissipates, and the assault promptly halts. Sebastian reforms next to Aristespha in wide-eyed surprise and sighs ethereally to the rest of the group. "Well... That proved a point I didn't want to."

His ghostly form shudders and he furrows his brow with an uneasy grimace. "Also, those bolts... felt... weird when they hit me."

The dire wolf continues it's slow, mechanical march towards the connecting bridge's entry point. Cideeda slinks over to thicker cover near the outer ring of the platform and draws out both her laser pistols. She carefully studies the construct's simplistic movement forward as it steps onto the bridge deck. Dretphi slides over large crates and containers, fashions a protective barrier, and kneels behind it. Readying her sub machine gun, she focuses her attention upon the golem. After seconds of the creation rigidly walking upon the bridge, she glances over to Cideeda with a quizzical tone. "It operates simplistically. Does not have high cognitive function?"

Cideeda blinks in thought and narrows a scrutinizing stare at the golem. "Now that you mention it... It really acts like it doesn't have much going on in the thinking department. It knows something is here, but hasn't done anything apart from shooting at Sebastian when it got line of sight on him."

Carefully keeping a low profile, Aristespha steps up behind a line of crates, peers out with glowing violet eyes, and cautiously gestures out incantations. With a swift flick of her gloved hand, a small wave of energy radiates out down the length of bridge, through the golem, and dissipates into the distant cavern wall. Aristespha blinks her eyes to normal, glances over to the rest of the team, and dons a hopeful smirk. "There is no spirit bound to it. So, a control system is operating it. I can't tell if it's a spell or some other device from here, but I don't think it's very advanced."

A sly smirk cracks upon Cideeda's face and her ears perk with her scheming expression. "If it's a simple program, then maybe we can work within the logic to give us the advantage. Maybe... Get it locked it up in a routine and keep it there."

Dretphi nods in agreement but sighs reservedly. "We need to know the program. Worth the risk to determine."

The heavy steps of the dire wolf golem resonate out upon midsection of the bridge, and the entire central platform structure vibrates. Debris and junk rattles off the edge of the platform into the dark abyss below. The team instinctively secures themselves upon solid structures. A collective tension looms over and refreshes with each platform shaking stomp. Bach cranes his gaze briefly over the edge into the blackness of the pit and nervously smiles with a tinge of resolve. "Gods, if we could knock that thing off the bridge..."

Sebastian snaps his attention over to Bach with a growing grin. "Hey... That's... Actually an idea worth trying."

Pondering a few moments, Bach slowly nods and lifts an intrigued brow. "You know... As heavy as that thing is to shake this place, I bet it can't fly at all. Even if it survives the landing, we'll be out of here before it has a chance to get to us."

A bold smile appears on Sebastian's face and he addresses the rest of the group. "I think it's worth giving it a shot. Any suggestions?"

Cideeda searches through her vest pockets, retrieves a collection of small explosive packs, and a remote detonator kit. She presents them with an eager, toothy grin. "I don't think this will get it off the bridge, but it'll throw it off balance for sure. And yes, these shouldn't harm the bridge too much out in the open."

Sotalia intertwines her fingers, stretches her arms out, and smiles slyly. "I think I can lighten the load with a strong telekinesis spell. Just need it to stay still for a moment."

Aristespha chuckles confidently and lifts an amused eyebrow. "I can provide that. It might not last long with something this powerful, but you've worked within those constraints before."

Sebastian glances over to Dretphi and points towards the lumbering magical construction. "You up for helping me distract the thing, Dretphi? Hopefully, it'll stay focused on me, but it might be good to have someone else split its attention."

Dretphi nods with a determined smirk and inspects her sub machine gun. "I am curious how resilient it is."

Panning his gaze between everyone else, Bach thinks and nods with an offer. "I've got something that might help keep it immobilized and maybe help get it over the edge."

Sebastian looks over the group proudly and stirs up his ethereal form. "Okay, wait until it is shooting at me. Dretphi, shoot at it. Aristespha and Bach, lock it down. Sotalia, lighten it into the air as much as possible. Cideeda, toss the explosives under it. After that, everyone shield themselves and we blow the charges."

After receiving confirmations all around, Sebastian jets off into the air, his form flaming a bit brighter. Immediately upon sighting Sebastian, the golem halts its march and snaps its spines into firing positions. As Sebastian flies erratically through the air, the construct unleashes barrage after barrage of green, white-tipped bolts at his flight path. Stray projectiles impact the cavern ceiling above and powerfully erupt into magical miasma. The energies expand outwards and the crystalline specks in the stone flash brighter briefly. Dretphi pops up from cover, steadies her sub machine gun upon a sturdy metal container top, and pulses out bursts of fire from the weapon. Sparks spray out from the surface of the metal and stone creature's body as bullets bounce off. Solid impacts fracture tiny stone bits off and lightly dent the metal exterior. A gout of white magical flow jets out from direct hit on an inscribed channel. The golem shudders momentarily and ceases firing magical bolts. Aristespha stands up from behind a crates, throws her arms forward, and releases a transparent wall of energy forward. It glides down the bridge and envelopes the war machine in an immobilizing wrap of magical flow. She stands firmly and grimaces in pose.

Bach lifts up his hands, and flings out a magical cable from each palm. The woven lines of blue and green strands arc through the air, and coast upon the lupine golem. A visible pulse of energy travels down the lines to the ends and triggers webs of threads to rapidly wrap around the limbs and body of the mechanical beast. Bach contorts his face as the golem flexes individual joints against the tension of the magical mesh.

Sotalia stands confidently, quickly chants out an incantation, and finishes her gestures with a dramatic throw of her hand forward. A nearly invisible column extends out, contacts the golem, and surrounds it in energy. Gritting her teeth, Sotalia plants her feet and her body strains as the magical flows spiral around her. The torso of the dire wolf lifts up and the weigh upon its legs dramatically lessens.

Cideeda balls the explosive material up, hops up to her feet, gauges the distance with her emerald eyes, and swings her arm back. With powerful underarm toss, she sends the pliable mass sailing over the bridge deck. It lands with a solid thud upon the metal walkway plating, underneath the chest of the golem. A red blinking glow radiates through the deformed explosive clay next to a prominent, protruding antenna. Cideeda drops into hiding and flips off the cover on the remote control. Dretphi ducks down and keeps her weapon trained. Aristespha releases her spell, quickly gestures, and wraps her hands around the flow streaming from Sotalia to the golem, injecting a boost of energy into the mix. Bach releases his ends of the magical cables, slides down in front of Aristespha and Sotalia, and throws up a golden barrier, anchoring it into the ground. Sebastian gazes down and shouts. "NOW!"

Cideeda quickly clicks the detonator three times. A powerful, concussive blast erupts under the golem and kicks the construct up into the air. Sotalia grins wildly with a manic, golden glow in her eyes as her arms shift the magical flow and the dire wolf drifts towards the side edge of the bridge.


A brilliant white energy powerfully surges and arcs across the surface of the golem. The blue and green magical mesh binding the body violently snaps to shreds. The aura of transparent energy around it sparks and crackles to opacity. The magic explodes into a chaotic miasma that vents away from the golem. Sotalia's arms lose hold of the fizzling spell, and Aristespha catches Sotalia when she stumbles for balance. The dire wolf falls downwards, partially over the side, but rights itself. It crashes on the bridge frame supports and crushes thick metal guard railing. The green glowing front claws of the metal and stone beast sink firmly into the deck. It swiftly tears up onto the bridge surface, ripping metal plating effortlessly as it stands back up. Pausing a moment, it stares ahead with a white haze emanating from the eyes, and digs claws into the deck.

Flows of magic across the golem flare brightly and the construct launches itself forward. The platform shakes violently under the thunderous charge. Aristespha and Sotalia pull each other out of the way and dive off towards one side of the platform. Bach scrambles out from behind his golden, transparent barrier and rushes over towards Cideeda and Dretphi as they fall back from the rampage path. The golem drops its shoulder low and slams into the makeshift barricade. The golden shield shatters into fragments, wooden crates splinter apart, and dented, metal storage containers roll through the air. Sebastian hovers above, fights back his terror, and searches the falling debris. He releases a relieved, ethereal sigh when he spots Aristespha and Sotalia hiding on one side of the platform, and Bach, Cideeda, and Dretphi keeping low profiles behind cover on the opposite. The magical monstrosity plants its feet securely onto the reinforced metal floor and slowly sweeps a hunting glare side to side. Seconds later, it lowers its head and opens its razor toothed maw fully open. A hum accompanies the condensing energy flowing into its mouth and the green glow pulsating brighter by the second. Sebastian blinks in surprise, points at the golem, and alerts everyone below. "Look out! It's charging up an attack of some kind!"

Five pairs of eyes peer out from behind cover at the situation before them. Aristespha's glowing violet eyes widen in fright. "That's some kind of directed thermal projection spell! Take cover!"

Bach narrows his blue illuminated eyes and contends with a conflicting mixture of fear, annoyance, and disgust. "Oh, gods fucking dammit! Of course! It breathes fire! Why would it do anything else?!"

Aristespha ducks down, quickly gestures out a spell, and holds her hands out in front of her while a transparent bubble of energy spreads around her and Sotalia. After a few fast incantations, Sotalia places her hands upon the barrier near Aristespha's and shouts out towards Back with a dry grin. "Like what?! Frost breath?"

Bach kneels down, holds his arms out, and rolls his eyes with smirk. "Gods forbid people who took time to build a walking weapon to look like a giant wolf stick to some kind of theme."

He concentrates, closes his eyes, and steadies himself. A fast growing hexagonal grid expands out into an intricate dome that envelopes Bach, Cideeda, and Dretphi. As the brief time passes, new layers laminate upon the current shell, individual cells fill in with finer meshes, and the fibers of flow anchor into the flooring beneath. Bach glances back to Cideeda and Dretphi. "Keep towards the front, I'll focus protection there."

Silence interrupts the moment. A roar of bright orange and green streaked flames blasts out from the jaws of the dire wolf and floods the vicinity. The torrent of fire torches out in a continuous, all encompassing jet. Seconds pass slowly within the magical barriers splitting the raging river of unyielding, supreme heat. Wooden crates disintegrate into fiery specks that drift off the central platform and disappear into the void below. The distant darkness snuffs out the light of the embers. Metal containers deform under bright orange white glows, and molten globs spatter protective bubbles, falling to rattle across the platform floor. Aristespha cringes and Sotalia strains against the onslaught as they both flow more energy to maintain their protective, multi-layered field. Bach keeps his hands in place as the flames wash over the protective dome. He releases slow, calculated breaths as sweat drips down his visor covered face. Cideeda stays behind Bach, slides her feet closer to the center of the enclosed circle of floor within, and winces silently as the heat from the floor penetrates her thinly soled shoes. Dretphi eases down onto her polymer and barrier protected knee plating, and sweeps Cideeda securely up into her lap. Cideeda lifts her feet clear of the floor, and sighs with a greatly appreciative smile to Dretphi. "Thank you!"

The flames stop. The green magical light dims to a dark flicker inside the mouth of the dire wolf golem and it snaps its maw shut. Straightening its posture, it secures its footing, and cautiously pans its watchful stare across the area. Waves of heat radiate off the scorched reinforced platform floor. Scraps of wood and other flammable materials smolder with gouts of fire igniting from the gases. Dull, red orange glows fade to tempered shades on many of the metallic surfaces. A chorus of pops and snaps fill the background din. Sebastian's visage reforms next to Aristespha and Sotalia. He fails to hide his worry and concern when examining them. Aristespha summons a calming smile to Sebastian. Sotalia wipes the sweat off her brow and gives a smirking thumbs up. Sebastian snaps his attention over towards Bach, Cideeda, and Dretphi. Bach nods back to Sebastian and Cideeda and Dretphi wave from inside a fading dome.

Bach's voice echoes softly over Aristespha's aetherphone from inside her pocket. "So... What's the plan now?"

Aristespha pulls her aetherphone out, lifts it close to the middle of herself, Sebastian, and Sotalia. "Good question."

Sotalia sneaks a brief peek around edge of a partially melted container and retracts back to Aristespha and Sebastian. "It doesn't look like it's going anywhere. It's like it's waiting for something."

Cideeda ponders out loud over the radio. "If it is running on a rough program... I'd guess it's waiting for any signs of activity. If I was to program something like this, I'd have it wait first, and THEN go in to confirm that the targets have been eliminated."

Twisting his mouth in indecision, Sebastian grumbles in thought. "So more than likely, even if we try to wait this thing out, it'll come forward and search for us."

Opposite across the platform, Dretphi nods her helmeted head solemnly. "I concur..."

She furrows her brow, blinks as a recent memory arrives at the front of her mind, and an intrigued tone brightens her voice. "During the attack. I hit an inscription directly. Energy erupted out. The golem faltered."

Bach glances over his shoulder, ponders the event, and confirms. "Yeah. I saw that energy burst. It must have damaged a flow channel on it."

Across the radio channel, Aristespha's interest piques and she thoughtfully replies. "That is an ancient golem without a spirit bound to it. It has not received proper maintenance in many, many years. So, it may be far more degraded than it looks."

An amused smirk graces Bach's face. "So... Just throwing this out here... We should shoot it a lot... At the same time?"

He glances over towards Sebastian and shrugs with his hands out to the sides. Sebastian darts his eyes around his mind and returns a similar gesture. Aristespha hums in thought and squints around the corner of cover briefly. "If we target flow channels, we could disable many of the more dangerous aspects. If we are lucky, we may be able to temporarily disable it enough to get around it and make a run for it."

Sebastian nods in agreement. "Sounds like the best plan we've got at the moment, dear."

Across the way, Dretphi sighs and shakes her head. "Unfortunately. My weapon did not do significant damage."

An irritated frown overtakes her expression and she quietly growls. "Again... The appropriate weapon is not with me."

Bach pivots in place and gazes at Dretphi and Cideeda with a hopeful smirk. "I might be able to fix that."

Both Cideeda and Dretphi focus upon Bach. Holding his hands out, Bach starts an explanation. "I've thought about the whole weapon enchantment idea and I might have something simple and quick for your weapons. Fair warning... They won't last long and may not work that well-"

His explanation ends abruptly when he hears the safety engage and feels the full weigh of Dretphi's sub machine in his hands. Blinking in surprise, he glance up to the eager smile of Dretphi and concentrates upon the weapon in his hands. With a slow exhale, he closes his eyes. Faint multi-colored magical flows creep along the casing of the gun. Coils of magical energy condense upon the length of the barrel and channel intricate patterns upon the forward and rear grips. Almost a minute later, Bach reopens his blue glowing eyes and presents the device back to Dretphi. "Okay. Simple projectile accelerator in the barrel. You'll have to direct your flow into it to keep it going."

Dretphi graciously lifts her sub machine gun up from Bach's hand with a thankful, warm smile and readies it. As Bach faces Cideeda, a pair of clawed hands deposit a laser pistol in each of Bach's open palms. He nods and focuses. Meshing patterns encapsulate the hand grips of the pistols and threads of magic sink inside the device. Only faint glows from the vents hint to the processes happening within the weapons. Bach gives the laser pistols back to Cideeda and sighs uncertainty. "For you, photon amplifiers help energize the beams with what you flow into them. Again... I don't know how well it will work in this short of time and-"

Bach feels a familiar, soft five claw tip squeeze on his upper arm and looks up. Cideeda grins toothily and winks to Bach. "Perfect time to test."

An appreciative smile appears Bach's face and morphs into a bold grin as he draws his transforming plasma pistol out. Sebastian nods across the way to magically armed Bach, Cideeda, and Dretphi. He smirks proudly to Aristespha and Sotalia. "Okay. I think that side is covered."

Fluttering her darkened sclera eyes, Sotalia chuckles, flexes her long nailed fingers, and rolls her shoulders in a stretch. "If it's made of metal and stone, I think I'll see how it likes the cold. So, if anyone sees frost, shoot it. Let's see how brittle it can get."

Aristespha nods with a smile to Sebastian and readies her stance. "I'll see if I can disrupt enough around the jaw. We don't need another fire attack like that."

Sebastian directs his ghostly voice to Aristespha's aetherphone. "Everyone get ready. I'll get its initial attention, then light it up."

The dire wolf scans its head side to side. During the sweep, it slows at two points, one on either side of the platform. Sebastian rises up through the platform floor immediately in front of the construct and jets upwards into the air. The golem backs up, lifts up its head, and flips spines at him. Dretphi pops up from cover, crimson flows filling the channels leading to the barrel of her sub machine gun. She unleashes volleys of accelerated, high velocity rounds. The recoil surprises her, and leaves a delighted, enthusiastic grin upon her face. Cideeda takes her aim and fires blue laser beams at the golem. The beams color shift towards violet when she focuses her energies. Bach leans out from cover and unleases charged bolts of plasma. Sotalia quickly gestures, points a finger at the golem, and streams concentrated, cold rays upon choice sections. Potent, precise beams of energy from Aristespha powerfully impact the maw of the war machine. The furious flurry beams, bolts, projectiles, frost, and energy rattle the golem. Molten flecks of metal splatter upon the platform floor. Fragments of stone clatter on the metallic surface. Arcs of disrupted magical energy spark out with plumes of miasma spewing from breaks in flow channels. Frosted parts shatter violently with well placed shots, and the metal and stone beast stumbles around.

Weathering the unyielding onslaught, the mechanical dire wolf slams down its front claws, braces itself, and flings its jaws wide open to a bright green cloud venting out. A precise beam of magical energy lands right inside and stuns the construct. Volleys of frost, plasma, photons, and high-velocity mass race into the mouth of the golem before loud crashing from within slams its maw catastrophically shut. It wanders backwards and trails smokey magical energy sizzle out from the dented gaps in its jaws. As the dire wolf exposes its side, Sotalia steadies her stance, raises both hands forward, and concentrates a potent frost ray right upon the belly of the beast. The column of cold squarely impacts and freezes over the midsection armor, billowing out clouds of vapor. Dretphi braces her sub machine gun against herself tightly, powerfully flows a brilliant wave of magical energy to the barrel, and flips the mode switch to full auto. A torrent of automatic fire tears into the frozen middle plate, and shatters the armor into fragments. Rounds fly through the new opening and ricochet loudly inside, until an explosion blows out the belly of the mechanical beast. The golem flings its fractured glare towards Bach, Cideeda, and Dretphi's position and charges haphazardly forward.

Bach scrambles clear of the oncoming golem. Cideeda scrapes her claws upon the floor and launches herself away. Dretphi spins into a dodge as the construct crashes through mostly melted containers. In the chaos, the beast claws wildly and thrashes about. A tail swipe catches the sub machine gun and strips it out of Dretphi's hands as she dives away. She repeatedly rolls from the golem, rights herself upon her feet, and stands up. Quickly drawing her machete from her back, she readies herself. The dire wolf searches around and aims its glare upon Aristespha and Sotalia. Miasma steams through the cracks and sparks drop out through the holes in its body. Claws dig into the platform floor and its aims itself at Aristespha and Sotalia. A series of loud heavy boots clang out and a machete solidly scrapes the side of the construct's head. Dretphi runs off to the opposite edge of the platform, stomps loudly, and yells a challenge to it in venomous Grath. When the golem's attention shifts fully to Dretphi, Aristespha and Sotalia scramble off. They spot Bach and Cideeda waving them over, and slide behind cover. Sebastian jets over next to Dretphi. The dire wolf stands firm, cautiously lining up a charge at Dretphi, but it often diverts attention to Sebastian. Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, and Sotalia watch the showdown. Shuddering briefly, Sotalia directs her confusion at the golem and points a finger to a white glow within the creation's blown out frame. "Good fucking gods! The armor around the belly came completely off- Is that a power cell?!"

A determined grin parts her lips and she holds up a palm as magical flow condenses into a tight ball of fire. "OH... If I'm feeling this right, that's got to be holding that Elder energy. Take this!"

She lobs a bright orb of blue flame at the golem. The fireball zips right at the cylindrical, white light radiating cell... and dissipates to a fading cloud. Sotalia blinks in utter bewilderment and Cideeda lines up her laser pistol and gently squeezes the trigger. The weapon projects a blue-violet laser that refracts into a harmless scatter within centimeters of the energy cell. Bach squints with glowing blue eyes at the golem and grimaces with a grit of his teeth. "It's definitely charged with elder energy. It's radiating a tiny amount around it."

Aristespha twists her mouth and growls in frustration. "Just enough to keep a disruptive barrier around it against magics and energy weaponry."

Bach nods, stares at the cell inside golem's chest cavity, and cocks his head to the side. "It may not be protected from physical attacks, especially at that main connection. The field doesn't seem that strong there."

Listening to the radio across the way, Dretphi focuses her glare at the white glowing module within the golem's broken midsection. Stern determination washes over her face and she calmly calls out. "I think I can hit it. Should I try?"

Bach blanks to the echo of Dretphi's voice over the air and radio, and blinks to Aristespha, Cideeda, and Sotalia. He musters his resolve and nods. "Yes. Aim for the junction between the cell and cables. Get clear and over to us regardless."

Dretphi cracks a small grin, tightens the grip on her machete, and eyes Sebastian's visage. "Keep its attention. I am attacking."

Sebastian nods, flares up his form to a flaming brilliance, and charges at the golem. "HEY! WATCH ME! YOU STONE COLD BITCH!"

The head of the construct snaps to process Sebastian, and loses track of Dretphi as she charges forth. Swiftly sprinting to the construct, Dretphi swings her large blade and guides the powerful thrust of the weapon's tip right at the join between power cell and cable. A shower of sparks erupts as the machete's edge grinds firmly into the junction. Magical miasma sprays out as the blade scrapes against connection when Dretphi pulls out of the golem on her escape. The creature shudders momentarily but continues to lumber around shakily. Dretphi dashes across the platform and slides behind cover near the rest of the group. She presses her back against a pile of debris and shakes her head in anger and disappointment. "Sorry. Could not impart the required force."

The golem stomps heavily, slowly towards the far edge of the platform. Each thunderous step shakes the entire structure. Clouds of smoke billow out, parts rattle loudly, internals spark brightly, and the war machine closes in on Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, Dretphi, and Sotalia. Sebastian's form reappears next to Aristespha and he poorly masks his worry with a smirk. "Okay! It's no longer really paying attention to me and I think it's had enough of our shit at this point."

Sotalia peeks out and barely contains her fear. "Uh... Um... So... Maybe we can fly to the perimeter. I can carry Dretphi. Aristespha you get Cideeda. Bach, try your best and keep near Aristespha?"

Aristespha swallows hard and attempts to calm her thoughts. "Magic attacks dissipate. And energy gets deflected... What to do... What to do..."

Bach observes the fright and panic seeping out of everyone. He searches the area and catches the glint of a familiar gun barrel. The weapon rests meters away, past the mechanical beast and near the platform edge. He lifts his hand up, aims his palm at the precariously positioned weapon, and focuses his blue glowing eyes. A woven magical energy cable launches from the condensed energy in Bach's hand, glides to its target, and latches on. With a hard yank, Dretphi's sub machine gun hops clear of rubble, bounces swiftly along the floor, and slides right next to Dretphi. Silence halts the team. Sebastian cranes his head around to puzzle at Bach. "What are you thinking, bro?"

Bach blinks in thought, draws a long breath in, and explains. "Really, really high speed projectiles. I overcharge the holy hell out of what I put on there and Dretphi takes the shot. We just need an opening."

A proud grin graces Sebastian's face and he nods in complete agreement. "Okay. Quick plan. Cideeda and I draw its attention. Aristespha and Sotalia, hold it for the shot. Bach and Dretphi... Make the shot."

The golem halts meters away from the last blockade of rubble and debris. It lowers its head, digs in its claws, and-

Sebastian flies up from the floor at it, waving his arms menacingly. The construct ignores the nuisance and-

Twin beams of blue-purple light carves across it's side. The dire wolf swings its head over to watch Cideeda sprinting between cover and pulsing laser blasts. The metal and stone dire wolf attempts to return focus ahead, and struggles against a wave of energy enveloping it. An unseen force wrestles, slides, and grinds it gradually against the platform floor. The massive body pivots and reveals a clear view to the power cell within the midsection. The power cell brightens.


Dretphi lays her weight against the sub machine gun upon a metal container and lines up the shot. Bach closes his eyes as he carefully places his hands under the weapon, and floods a bright flow of magical energy into the gun's barrel. The golem rotates a few more degrees. A wave of white energy erupts from the power cell and coats the surface of the war machine. Spells upon it fizzle to its freedom. Dretphi pulls the trigger.

A visible streak instantly traces from the barrel of Dretphi's gun right through the obliterated junction between power cell and cable. In the fractions of second, faint shock rings form around the vapor trail, Dretphi rides the gun's recoil backwards onto the floor, and Bach reflexively hits the deck. The construct steadies from the impact, but freeze. It stands motionless. The white energy dissipates into the air and the green flows throughout its body stop. Dire wolf golem collapses into a heap of stone and metal pieces upon the middle of the central platform.

Dretphi stares upwards in pure astonishment and slowly sits up. She rolls her shoulder, glances down at the red heat radiating off her gun's barrel, and secures the holding strap onto her armor. Sebastian's ethereal forms drifts cautiously up to the quiet remains of the golem. He hovers around the still pile, and releases a long, relieved sigh. "I think it's fucking down for the count!"

Aristespha seats herself down, rests her back against a container fused to the platform floor, and tries to breath easy. Cideeda plops herself on a pile of debris and recollects her thoughts. Bach tilts his helmeted head against a metal panel and slowly calms himself. Sotalia stands triumphantly, grins proudly, and tosses her fiery orange, wavy hair back over her shoulders. "Now THAT was a fight. But..."

She gestures towards the cavern exit, awkwardly smiles with tilt of the head, and sheepishly raises a hand up. "I think I'm done for the day. Anyone else?"

Hands rise up from the rest of the team in complete agreement. Sotalia exhales, steps out from behind a partially melted container, and nonchalantly walks over to Bach and Dretphi. She freezes mid step, snaps her head in wide-eyed terror at the golem pile, and screams out. "I-I FEEL S-SOMETHING! LOOK OUT-"

A sharp shrill screech pierces the cavern air and a massive shock wave of green energy explodes out from underneath the former construct. The powerful tide bubbles out swiftly and launches parts in all directions. Aristespha, Bach, Cideeda, and Dretphi reflexively dive down behind nearby cover. In the mere moments available, Sotalia braces herself and her close magical barrier flashes visibly around her. The expanding field of force kicks her up into the air. As she attempts to balance herself mid flight, a stone armor plate crashes into the thick barrier around her head and deflects off. The protective shell holds. Sotalia's dizzy expression fades to unconsciousness and she limply tumbles high in the air... pass the edge of the platform.

Bach tilts his head up and watches Sotalia start to fall from the apex of her arc. Widening his panicked eyes, a brilliant blue glow flashes out. He throws his hands forward and a maelstrom of magical flow swirls along his arms. Woven strands of blue and green launch out from each palm, jet through the air, and latch onto Sotalia's shoulders. A weave of supportive fibers wrap a mesh harness around Sotalia's body. As Sotalia falls out of view and the magical cables drape over the platform edge, Bach clenches onto each cable and plants his feet.

The slack snaps tight and the full force yanks Bach forward off his feet. Bach's helmeted head slams violently, visor first, against the reinforced metal plating of the floor. The lines drag him harshly across the rough rubble. His armor scrapes against the platform surface, and he bounces off piles of debris. Bach grinds to a halt, his upper body between the melted remains of two guardrail support posts and his arms hanging over the platform edge. He painfully grimaces, focuses through the daze, and gazes down through the crackled, golden barrier on his visor into the dark void below him. In his locked grip, two taut, several meter long cables support an unconscious, gently swinging Sotalia in a magically woven blue and green harness above the black abyss. Tension spikes with the silence and Aristespha, Cideeda, Dretphi, and Sebastian snap to full awareness of the situation. Sebastian yells out in a panic. "BACH!? SOTALIA?! ARE YOU TWO OKAY?!"

He jets over to his brothers side and fearfully looks below. Joy erupts on Sebastian's face and he hovers to peer into Bach's helmet. "Bro, you okay?!"

Bach stifles a cough and groans. "Yeah. I got her. The lines are stable. Just need a moment and to clear my head... And I'll get her up."

Sebastian energetically waves everyone else over and nods to Bach. "Hang in there, bro. EVERYONE, GET OVER HERE-"

A cacophony of metal stress resonates throughout the entire platform and the structure beneath. A second of abrupt silence shatters into rumbling cracks of rocks around an anchor point and twisting whines of support structure collapsing. The entire central platform sharply pitches. Cideeda briefly slides but reflexively sinks her claws into floor plating gaps. Aristespha scrambles for a grip, dodging flaming remnants of wood crates. Dretphi bounds over, snatches up Aristespha, and clamps onto a section of intact guardrail. Bach drops over the edge to Sebastian's absolute horror.

The wind rushes around Bach. The pit walls blend into the darkness below and contrast only with the blue and green cables leading to Sotalia. Terror rattles Bach's thoughts and panicked chaos freezes him in the moment. The edges of the pit rise higher and Bach stares distantly stunned. Cutting through the fearful deadlock, a familiar spark ignites a torrent in the back of mind and impulses. A wave of determination overwhelms Bach. Gritting his teeth, his eyes flash bright blue and he clamps onto the magical cables in his hands. The lines snap taut and a flurry of retracting magical flow reels Sotalia swiftly into Bach's arms. Securing Sotalia with his arms under her shoulders in a tight hug, Bach focuses within. Moments later, Bach and Sotalia's descent slows to a standstill. Bach lifts his head up, opens his bright blue eyes, and flashes a brave grin. The two ascend upwards and swiftly gain altitude. Sebastian spots his brother's eyes distantly below and cheers down. "YES! HOLY SHIT! THAT'S IT, BRO! KEEP IT UP! Aristespha will be there as soon as we get Dretphi and Cideeda on the bridge off this thing!"

Bach blasts his way up with Sotalia in his arms. He continues to gain altitude, but the rate... slows. Bach pants as the ascent speed sharply decreases. Progress stops and Bach strains painfully to maintain flight. The glow in his eyes dims gradually and he sinks slightly down every second. Bach glances at the unconscious Sotalia, and shakes her around. "WAKE UP! Gods dammit, Sotalia! WAKE THE FUCK UP! I can't maintain enough lift for both of us! Come on... Wake up, cast a spell... Please wake up..."

Sebastian stares with grave concern as he realizes the grim the situation forming below him. "BACH! HOLD ON!"

The air rises up around Bach as the illumination in his eyes dims further and the descent into the black pit speeds up. Desperation overtakes Bach. He looks into Sotalia's face... And winces with tears in his eyes. "Gods... Dammit..."

Bach frowns, cringes, and cries out. "No..."

He draws a deep breath in, renews his embrace of Sotalia, and closes his eyes firmly. Gritting his teeth, pain radiates the entirely Bach's body and he reopens his blue eyes resolutely. Within the dimming blue glows in his eyes, pinpoints of white flash out. A wave of white magical energy spirals into jets of downwards flow over him. The embedded crystals in the cavernous ceiling flicker brightly along with flashes of light deep down in the unending pit. Distant repetitious, mechanical clicks echo out into the chamber. Electrical lighting dims out along the perimeter. Sebastian's visage warps and distorts.


Bach stops mid air and firmly holds his position. Faint swirling white flows shape beneath him and he ascends up with Sotalia in his arms. Seconds later, Sotalia stirs. She blinks and groggily looks around. Her golden eyes spring wide open as her awareness returns. The dark abyss below spooks her and she reflexively wraps her arms tightly around Bach. She shivers uncomfortably, glances at the energy flows near her, and realizes Bach's hold of her. Craning her head around, she peers into Bach's helmet, and notices the distant, strained determination on his face. Bach breathes cautiously and shakily, and trickles of fear crack his resolve. Sotalia presents calm tone in contrast to her overwhelming concern. "How are you doing, Bach?"

Bach barely manages an audible response through strained breaths and visble twinges. Sotalia stretches her arms out, gestures out a spell, and carefully speaks an incantation. As flows of magic support her body in flight, she gently eases out from Bach's grasp. "I'm okay. Don't worry."

Bach manages an unsteady nod and sways as the flows of energy thin. Sotalia swiftly slips her arms under Bach's shoulders and tightly holds him close. She gently speaks into the ear vent of his helmet. "It's okay. I got you."

Managing a loose wrap around Sotalia, Bach's eyes dim back to normal and he nearly collapses in her arms, but keeps conscious against obvious exhaustion. Sotalia lifts Bach up towards safety of the connecting bridge. As they fly up, Sotalia nestles her head upon Bach's shoulder against his helmeted head, tightens her embrace, and sniffs. "Thank you."

Bach weakly chuckles with a tired, happy tone. "You're welcome... Thank you, too..."

Sebastian zips next to Sotalia and directs her towards the bridge exit onto the perimeter. Aristespha flies over, supports Bach opposite of Sotalia, and the two ferry him to an awaiting Dretphi and Cideeda. The team reunites upon the perimeter walkway. Sotalia and Aristespha land with Bach. Aristespha guides Bach down and steps over to remove her small backpack of medical supplies. Sotalia follows down to seat next to Bach. She wraps an arm firmly around Bach's waist and keeps her other hand tightly holding his upper arm. Sebastian keeps watch and stares suspiciously at the cavern exit before inspecting other areas. Cideeda kneels down, gently claws Bach's arm to get his attention, and undoes the straps to his helmet. "Hey, you okay under there?"

As the Cideeda pulls the helmet off, Bach cracks a smile and lifts his head up. "Yeah... Just a bit... tired... right now..."

Dretphi drops to her knees, removes her helmet, and directs her nervous worry at both Sotalia and Bach. "O-Okay?"

Sotalia gazes with her golden pupil and almost black sclera eyes at Dretphi, nods uncertainly, and contorts her face to hide forming tears. Dretphi's expression softens and she wraps her arms around both Sotalia and Bach. Tearful sniffs sound out from Sotalia and Dretphi gently rubs her on the back comfortingly. Bach softly snores.