Cloudhawk had hoped he could leave the outpost before his enemies caught up with him. He didn’t want to get them caught up in his troubles. Unfortunately, danger came with the night. He could feel it gathering to strike. Although he couldn’t be sure, his premonition told him foes were lying in wait for him to show himself.
It was all so strange. These were not typical wastelanders.
He was at a loss, and before he could puzzle out what all of this meant Cloudhawk heard the sound of a door opening from behind. A group of people surged in from the outpost, but what really caught his attention was the tell-tale sound that came with them.
A relic? Demonhunters! But why would demonhunters appear here? Were they the ones here to kill him? He didn’t dare underestimate them. The only demonhunter he’d met was the Bloodsoaked Queen, so he didn’t know how capable others of her order might be. If they were as strong as the Queen – no, if they were half as strong as the Queen, Cloudhawk was in serious trouble!
With the situation unclear he couldn’t just break past them. Nimble as a monkey he pulled himself up onto the roof and found a hidden spot to watch from. No sooner had he hid himself than he witnessed the demonhunter and a dozen soldiers begin rounding people up. The Lighthouse Point’s citizens were herded toward the center of the town, too far for him to see what was happening. But he could hear the screams. It’d started.
Cloudhawk covered himself in his cloak and vanished, reappearing several dozen feet away. He was silent as a ghost, slipping through the night with the dexterity of a cat. He slipped an armor-piercing round into the chamber of his gun and peered through the sights until he found the two demonhunters.
These soldiers were outfitted in superior equipment, far better than anything a wastelander could manage. Along with the demonhunters, it wasn’t hard to guess where they’d come from. Cloudhawk couldn’t remember offending any elysians, though.
Perhaps something had happened to the Bloodsoaked Queen? Unlikely. She had a background of strength and experience, nothing would happen to her.
Whatever motivated these elysians Cloudhawk didn’t know, but he could see over a hundred dead civilians through the scope of his gun. It didn’t matter what their aim was, the wanton murder of innocents wasn’t something Cloudhawk was willing to accept. He was still trying to decide what to do when they singled Coppertooth out from the crowd.
“We’ve done nothing to sully the name of the gods here!” Panic had set in when Coppertooth saw who’d come for them. Their lives were forfeit the moment the demonhunters arrived, but he tried one last gambit. “We’ve lived our lives in reverence of the holy lands and its people. We have never dared disrespect your righteous doctrines. Never! I was once a soldier in the Skycloud army, I made a mistake and was exiled but I have always remained loyal. Always!”
“A soldier of Skycloud?” Raith approached Coppertooth and trampled on his left leg. The sound of snapping bone and Coppertooth’s screams mingled in the heavy air. Raith’s face was a hideous mask of ruthless loathing. “You filthy worm. You dare call yourself a Skycloud soldier?”
He pulled Coppertooth up from the ground, then slammed his fist into the crippled veteran’s face.
Coppertooth hit the ground hard. Half of his face had caved in from the blow and several teeth tumbled from his mouth. He sputtered through a mouthful of blood and his limbs twitched erratically. Raith’s punch had broken his neck. He would never stand again.
Asha scrambled out from the huddled crowd. Tears cut streaks through the dirt on her face as she ran toward Coppertooth. He saw her and gurgled through his ruined mouth. “Go back. Stop!”
Two soldiers grabbed Asha before she could get far. One slapped her hard across the face. What frail child could withstand a strike from a trained soldier? She crumbled to the ground unconscious.
The sound that came from Coppertooth was something between a roar and a wail.
Raith pinned Coppertooth’s head to the ground with a foot, while fifty wastelanders were chosen from the crowd. They were shoved into a line – old men, women, children – trembling as grim soldiers towered behind. Calloused hands gripped their glaives tight and brought them high, waiting for the order.
“Coward! I know you’re hiding somewhere!” Raith dragged his eyes around the camp. “If you have any shred of honor, then show your face!”
He didn’t hesitate. Raith waved his hand, and in an instant fifty innocent lives were snuffed out.
Claudia didn’t even bat an eye at Raith’s murderous rampage. Her eyes were closed as she searched for any sign of the traitor they’d come to kill. Her companion’s actions were bait to lure out their prey, to anger him so that he would act rashly. The moment he did she would know where he was hiding.
“Are you watching? These innocents die because of you! Coward! How long will you let this go on?”
Raith raised his hand again and snapped his fingers.
Cloudhawk struggled to quell the rage burning inside of him.
The Bloodsoaked Queen was one of the harshest people Cloudhawk had ever known, but compared with what he witnessed she was a saint. To her the lives of wastelanders were a trifle, but she at least loathed killing indiscriminately. These monsters killed for the sake of killing.
They do this to get to me, eh? He knew their ploy, but Cloudhawk couldn’t sit by and watch. He wasn’t from the elysian lands. He didn’t believe in their bullshit code of honor or pretend respect. He only felt the wrath and indignation that came from a wastelanders’ heart, from hearing people like him scream and die.
Fifty more people were lined up and forced to their knees. They swayed and cried and begged forgiveness.
Raith turned a blind eye to their tears and blood. He would kill them one batch after another, their lives held no value. If their pitiful deaths drew out his prey then he was killing two birds with one stone.
“Kill them.” Fifty soldiers raised their weapons.
Cloudhawk could hesitate no longer. He glared through the cross-shaped aiming reticle at the female demonhunter. Disgusting as her male companion was, she was more dangerous. All this time the relic she’d been channeling resonated threateningly.
It was probably some sort of probing relic, or something that empowered her perception, Cloudhawk guessed. In other words, she was the eyes and ears. If she got a lock on him, escape would be almost impossible. He was in an inferior position, both in numbers and in strength. In a position like this, he had to make the first shot count.
His gun was special. Blackwater Base had had only one and it was picked out for him by Hellflower. In addition to firing conventional ammo it was also capable of accommodating special rounds. The armor-piercing bullet nestled in the chamber could punch through a sheet of iron several inches thick. No fleshy human body stood a chance. Even Roste’s freakish skin wouldn’t have been able to withstand a shot!
Raith raised his hand to give the order, then Cloudhawk pulled the trigger.
The moment his finger moved, the female demonhunter’s eyes popped open. She slid to the right. Bang! The bullet exploded from Cloudhawk’s gun and half a breath later struck one of the Skycloud soldiers. His jade-like armor shattered into a thousand pieces and he hit the ground screaming. The bullet kept going, piercing through a second man before ultimately lodging itself in a third.
Even the Bloodsoaked Queen would have found it hard to dodge this attack if she wasn’t looking out for it. The woman’s demonhunter skills alone didn’t account for her ability to dodge the shot. She had to have a high level of perception to do that.
Her abilities were similar to Cloudhawk’s. The sense of danger leveled her way had tipped her off with enough time to get out of the way. Killing her at a distance was a challenge.
Claudia’s azure blue eyes fixed on the shadow in the distance. “Raith, to the north!”
Raith lifted his bow and stretched back the string. An arrow appeared out of thin air when he released, which soared toward the shadow almost a thousand feet away. Running along the hotel roof Cloudhawk could feel the power closing in. He threw himself to the side, suddenly changing directions. The place where his foot had just left exploded into splinters.
“Where are you running!”
Raith’s face bore a vicious scowl. Without another word he leapt onto the roof of a nearby six foot building.
His talent was agility. He jumped across the rooftops so quickly that half the distance between himself and his prey was covered almost instantly. As he soared through the air Raith drew his bow again and released an arrow no less deadly than Cloudhawk’s gun. If it hit the consequences were unbearable to contemplate.
The arrow was stopped by a shield of sand, but the impact also blew the shield apart.
The air became choked with yellow dust that impeded the demonhunter’s vision. Raith waved his hands in front of his face to try and dispel the cloud. When it was gone, so too was his target.
Escape was going to be difficult. Cloudhawk knew the soldiers were waiting to ambush him nearby. Although they couldn’t compare to demonhunters, Skycloud soldiers were nonetheless capable fighters. Their weapons were as deadly as sniper rifles.
When the soldiers saw him they burst into action, but before they got far Cloudhawk threw a round object in their midst. The explosion that followed shook the whole area. The blast wasn’t lethal, but the sound and light incapacitated his attackers – another toy Cloudhawk had brought from Blackwater Base.
Claudia and Raith gave chase, followed by a contingent of soldiers. However, by the time they got to where the blast had been, Cloudhawk was gone without a trace. Neither demonhunter had anticipated he’d be this cunning. He’d slipped passed both Raith and the soldiers left in ambush.
Raith’s expression was both savage and infuriated. The turncoat had escape from right under their noses, killing two Skycloud soldiers and wounding several others. It stung worse than a slap to the face.
“He’s injured.” Claudia dug her fingers into a patch of blood soaked soil, then brought them up to her nose to take a sniff. “The traitor won’t get far.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Whoops, this somehow didn't post correctly!
Changed Luna to Lunae