2.3: Partner

Nuria flies in circles, using a light spray of her golden flames to evaporate the puddles around her party, the professors, Tyra, Evic, and Roark. After securing a moderately safer area for them, Nuria hovers just above Reddic’s right shoulder.

     “Not one drop left,” she says.

     “Okay.” Reddic looks at Tameri over his shoulder. “I have to make this quick, Tameri. You and Aurum stay put here with Tyra.” He turns again. “Shuri, Evic, go help Professor Cwen and your classmates.”

     “On it!” Shuri hefts his WEBs and races toward the battle royale right away.

     Evic lingers a moment longer then shakes his head. “Sorry. Going now.”

     Reddic whistles. “Fanger, you too.”

     All of Fanger but his legs materialize from warped air. He roars as he races past Shuri and Evic, paving the way for them viciously.

     “Professors Zathony and Marmagar, if you wouldn’t mind, give them a hand.”

     “I think we’re better off assisting you,” Zathony argues, nodding to Victa. “That man has the dreadful ability to clone himself.”

     Reddic grins, not a trace of worry anywhere. “No need, professor. I’ve trained the only backup I’ll require all semester long.”

     “That’s right!” Nuria boasts.

     “Still, Nuria, keep your distance from the sky.” Reddic stares at Victa with his feline eyes, marking him as prey. “I’ll fight him from the ground.”

     Nuria blinks when Reddic dashes away, still unable to comprehend his speed. Even in flight, she’s still nowhere near as fast, engaging with Victa’s clone army a full ten seconds after her mentor. She supplies cover for Reddic by incinerating the clones outside of his immediate vicinity. However, she knows with his speed and the way he defeats the clones with swift attacks that her help isn’t entirely necessary.

     Half a dozen clones break away from Reddic and march toward where her egg, brother, and sister are. As Nuria flies after them, the air crystalizes as many vibrations extend superimposed images around everyone in her field of vision. The clones’ superimposed shadows move forward.  Rum’s shadow moves to the left in front of Tyra whose shadow wraps her body around the basking hiding Nuria’s egg. With a burst of mezzo flames from the soles of her feet, Nuria intercepts the clones. She cuts all six down with fiery punches.

     Nuria unfurls her majestic vermillion wings and soars right into a network of clones leaping at her from all sides. Nuria opens up both her palms and shoots thin streams of fire from her fingertips. She whips the flames in crisscrossing patterns, eliminating the clones as they get close, a feat only capable with the aid of her phoenix vision predicting their every maneuver.

     And it doesn’t feel like it’s wavering today. Perfect!

     Nuria beats her wings mightily to watch Reddic’s back from close up. She clicks her tongue when she sees him no closer to the one-man army factory. Nuria leers at the man and his vibrations look strange in her phoenix vision. In a bizarre slow-motion act, Victa’s clones don’t simply come out of him but she sees silky tendons snap apart from the main body upon separation.

     That looks like it hurts.

     “Nuria! Back away!” Reddic roars.

     Nuria’s focus on Victa is detracted but not in time to get away from the clone racing up a tower of similar specters. After the clone leaps and grabs Nuria’s throat, the tower specters fall over them.

     “Lia’s gonna hate that I killed you. Oh, well,” the clone taunts.

     Think again!

     Realizing she can’t break his monstrous grip on her throat, she instead places a hand on his face. She concentrates the heat in her palm to a fine point, then expels it as mezzo flames. The clone’s face burns half off before it evaporates like the puddles before.

     The phoenix completes her descent and stares at the falling specters eagerly. She combines her mezzo flames with her whip idea and expels the heat above every one of her knuckles.

     Mezzo Knuckles!

     Nuria treats the specters like punching bags, her Mezzo Knuckles cutting through their delicate bodies easily. She beams when Reddic calls after her again. She ignores him and looks ahead, aware of the true Victa running toward her.

     I’m not gonna kill him but he won’t like this any better!

     Nuria absorbs her wings into her back and reciprocates his charge, Mezzo Knuckles at the ready. Her phoenix vision alerts her that a clone is on the verge of splitting from him. She throws an auburn fireball ahead to dispatch the clone as it fully emerges. She sees Victa’s shadow hop over the fireball, so she leaps up and grabs the real Victa’s shoulders. She avoids his punch by launching over and behind him with a volley of mezzo flames, the final burst propelling her knees into his back.

     Laughter pops from her puffed-up cheeks when his head bounces against the ground. Victa rises and glares at Nuria, strained breaths of frustration passing through his flared nostrils.

     “What’s wrong, old man? You tired,” Nuria throws the barb while inviting him forward with a wave, Mezzo Knuckles humming strongly.

     “Quiet, child. You rely on spontaneity and distraction, a tactic for charlatans. When I endeavor to kill you for your ill-conceived confidence this time and you learn you are no match for me, you will perish.”

     Nuria smirks. “Of course, I’m not but this isn’t my tactic.”

     “It’s mine,” Reddic says softly into Victa’s ear. Before he can retreat, Reddic stomps down on the inside of his knee then backhands him across the face, his claws leaving gashes across his face. “Oof, that’s gonna leave a nasty scar.”

     Nuria gleams the fear on Victa’s face, even though the waterfall of blood streaming down it.

     “Ah, I see you thought your death was my answer to all of this,” Reddic says, sweeping his arm to the desolate campus. “We heard your speech. If you’ve gained this much support to change The Pure, then I need to know who else is backing you. Your death comes only once I have that information.”


     The fisticuffs between Stark and Liamria are so intense that after each time their fists clash, the liquefied limbs burst apart, only for them to reconstitute their fists and do it over. Stark purposefully lowers her fists and moves her head to the side, narrowly avoiding a blow to her face. She stretches her right arm and grabs her mother’s exposed face. She solidifies her right arm, transferring the power to her left. The liquid limb shines like a sparkling lake as Stark punches through her mother’s arm (the one Tameri cut) and into her chest.

     Her training at the Drijadi Hills reminded her of the number one rule for hydromancers- the less space used for their powers, the greater they become. Knowing her mother used a significant amount to fight Tameri to a standstill, she anticipated she could only liquefy offensively. When the punch to her mother’s chest knocks the wind out of her, the officer sees victory is at hand. Stark lands on top of her mother and pounds her relentlessly.

     For each blow Stark lands, she internally apologizes and avenges her friends.

     Lynald. Zathony. Cwen. Marmagar. Roark. Tameri. Neth.

     She ceases the beatdown, frozen with abject fear. The headmaster is the only one in her thoughts not present. She grabs her mother’s collar and lifts her so they’re face to face.

     “Neth! What did you do to him? Where is he?!”

     Liamria smiles wickedly, her fresh contusions no great obstacle. “He’ll be dead soon if he isn’t already. While I held the professors here, I sent assassins after him. And nobody else can stop them!”


     Liamria rolls over and flips Stark onto her back, commanding the water from her severed arm into three blades. The blades loop around Liamria and race toward Stark. The blades’ reflection in her eyes is erased in the flash of red-hot sparks.

     Rum’s charged buster sword dispels the blades of water.

     “I know you can beat her on your own, Stark, but time is of the essence.”

Stark nods and joins him. Her luminescent arms and Rum’s chirping azure lightning combine with their heavy footfalls to create a thunderstorm as they charge forward.

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