Spacer Turn 37
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Turn 37

Emmett follows Nyala's eyes to the upper level and spots the others, emitting a loud whoop of exultation. He then hears the bone-jarring thump of Nyala's landing and gets a more serious look on his face. "Val! Sword!" he yells, waving his good hand for the catch.
    Val reacts immediately and throws Emmett his longsword, hilt first. It only occurs to him after the fact that he might need it himself... A pair of daggers spring into his hands quickly, and he keeps alert for whatever else might be a threat.
    The blade's clatter against stone as Emmett fails to catch it is lost in the noise as the reunited friends take the offensive.
    Ibn Fadil arrives at the edge of his level just in time to see Nyala drop over the edge of hers. He pauses barely long enough to sheathe his weapons -- it almost seems he is already falling before he finishes those movements -- and does the same.
    "Kick his ass Ibn Fadil, but watch out for the tail!" Emmett shouts as the half elf goes barreling past him.
    Said half-elf pauses for only an instant to assess the situation before leaping from the second level to land with remarkable precision directly *on* the creature, driving a faint grunt out of it from the impact before he dives to one side. From Nyala's slightly raised eyebrow it's clear that she thinks he's being a terrible show-off.
    He gives her a tight grin before maneuvering to make any further contribution to the fight that may be necessary.
    Pham calls out to his impetuous companions "Wait just a moment!" He speaks a quick prayer, then places his back to the wall, looking for the xixchil, but there is no sign of it.
    Nyala looks at her makeshift knife, looks at the far-better-armed new arrivals, and backs off from the bear in favor of checking on Yestin. "I think the fall knocked him out." She starts trying to bring him around.
    Delmar has drawn his short sword and stands for a moment irresolute, looking at the mound and its shrieking avians.
    The birds appear to have noticed Delmar's regard. Two of them leave their nests and take to the constricted sky, perhaps hoping that something will die and save them some trouble.
    Alais blithely ignores both the battle taking place on the level below and the threat from above, and takes the left-side ramp around the edge of the cavern, toward where the flitter sits, an awkward shape when grounded.
    The Half man snags Val's sword from the ground and follows Ibn Fadil down after the lizard bear--point first, the sort of recklessly daring move characteristic of griffin-jockeys and other short-lived professions. The momentum of the fall provides enough extra force to finally pierce the thing's armor, although his arm isn't thanking him for the favor. The creature's roar sounds just like any other bear's as it twists under his blade.
    Hiro begins walking. He shows no concern over the cliff's edge as his path takes him over the edge. The Saint of Steel lands with knees bent slightly, just enough to cushion the impact of the fall. The moment he reaches for the hilt of his sword passes so quickly that one could easily assume it was already in his hand when he landed.
    He smiles at Emmett's bravado even as he nimbly slides past the thrashings of the xixchil-engineered beast. Making his way to the creatures hindquarters he raises his katana high over his head and holds it momentarily. _Best to put this foul thing out of its own misery._ The tail seems to move slower in his vision as he finds the perfect instant to strike.
    Then he does, and it is. The creature is dead.
    Meanwhile Gorn has one delicate hand clenched to his mouth to keep from making any sound, staying close to the wall and looking around as he tries to make up his mind which way to jump. Another shriek from the birds and he dives back toward the relative safety of the hall.
    Val hazards a glance towards where the terrified dwarf went. They still might need his help getting back to the _Distraction_, and it wouldn't do if he ran off now...
    "Don't go far," Val warns the cowering dwarf grimly. "Wouldn't want anything to happen to you if you found yourself *alone* all of the sudden..."
    Nyala keeps shaking Yestin, finally slapping him sharply across the muzzle, but he remains stubbornly unconscious for the moment.
    Emmett looks up at Delmar and Val with a jaunty wave of his blood soaked sword, "Howdy, Captain! Good to see you!" Delmar waves back, clearly relieved to have found them alive.
    Moving over to Yestin, Emmett mentally curses the fact that his whiskey is so inaccessible -- it would probably work on the Giff the same way it had woken Nyala. "Anyone know how to wake up an unconscious Giff?" he asks, keeping an eye on the birds to see if they're on their way over to feast on the lizard-bear carrion.
    Ibn Fadil joins them, keeping an eye on the canopied area, and offers Nyala his knife. She accepts it and extends the borrowed spike to Emmett.
    "Thank you for the loan."
    "Next step," ibn Fadil proposes blandly, "attack the bloodthirsty xixchil mage before he captures or kills us."
    "Nice to see you guys," Val calls out to the others. "Any chance we can get out of here soon?" He'll ask what happened to them later, though it's quite apparent they had a rough time of it. He remains ready for anything, keeping one eye on the skullbirds. He also scans the junk pile to see if there is anything in that might suffice for a weapon; under the accumulated encrustations from the skullbirds, he can see that the heap is full of all kinds of things--broken furniture, tools, anvils. If this citadel ever moves under its own power again, it's going to require a lot of work.
    Emmett looks up at val, "What, this is a vacation spot - tropical birds, exotic fauna, what more do you want." Then he turns to the half elf, "I can accept that plan. Captain, why don't you bring Val and Pham down here so we can consolidate forces?"
    He starts muttering to himself "Lessee, Captain, Val, Ibn Fadil, Hiro, Pham. Check. Me, Yestin, Nyala, Alais...Alais...
    "Where the hell is Alais?"
    "It's a mage," ibn Fadil reminds the marine. Whatever relief he felt at finding Nyala has already evaporated, leaving only angry tension. "Two groups, two directions. Our informant says he may be able to become invisible, confuse the mind, who knows what else."
    The marine nods, then amends. "Two groups, 15 feet apart, one direction. We don't get separated and we don't cluster together to make ourselves an easy target either."
    The half-elf nods in his turn. As the others join them on the second terrace and the group sorts itself out, Yestin gives a faint, rumbling groan as he starts to come around.
    One of the skullbirds gives a load, croaking cry and settles on the body of the bear-thing, glaring balefully at the intruders nearby. Its huge wingspan covers its meal as it begins ripping at the tough, scaled skin with its beak. The one still above shrieks angrily; the one still on its nest joins in, and for a moment the place rings deafeningly with their cacophonous screeches.
    The former stoops on Alais--the straggler of the herd--as he passes near the cages, their occupants hidden in shadow; in a rare-self preserving moment he throws himself flat and the fierce talons grip only air as the charnel-house smell of the creature overwhelms him. Heavy wingbeats buffet him as the skullbird climbs for another pass.
    Somewhere nearby he's quite certain he just heard the rapid clicks of xixchil speech, but there's nothing anywhere in sight.

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© 2001 Rebecca J. Stevenson