Faerieland: Part 40

The cabin and indirectly the Rocket suit felt like an oven. Then the fans came on, the air conditioning running stronger than it would in any normal van.

I felt the mech begin to sink even as error messages began scrolling down the screen on the dashboard.  Tapping on the screen, I learned more details. The dragon’s breath hadn’t destroyed all of the gravitic panels. It had burned through a spot in the mech’s body which happened to carry electricity to the one of the panels. This was good news. The van’s self-repair systems could handle broken conducting material fairly quickly. Repairing even a small section of panel would be slow. Replacing one would be impossible.

So that was the good news. The bad news? We were falling.

The mech automatically gave all the gravitics more power to compensate, so we stabilized after a second. Unfortunately, we weren’t moving much–at least in a controlled way. The force of the dragon’s breath combined with the gravitics, and our momentum left us moving parallel to the cliff, but with the head of the Catmecha facing the cliff, and the right side of the cabin highest in the air.

I activated the maneuverability jets, pushing up the left side of the mech, but also pushing further left, and away from the dragon.

Damage to the gravitics threatened the start of a vicious cycle in which we got hit, losing our ability to move, making it easier to hit us, finally ending in a smashed Catmecha and our overcooked bodies.

I didn’t want that, and Haley didn’t either. She’d switched from the laser to firing off bullets and bots because the laser had been damaged by the blast.

Using better than human speed to fire off more than I would have been able to, Haley kept up a constant stream of glowing projectiles as I monitored the repairs.

In the meantime, Artaxus had fallen off the wall as he flamed at us, twisting enough that he’d managed to land on his feet instead of his back and shredded wings.

He loosed flame in our direction, but we must have been too far away. The blast dispersed before it reached us.

Almost at the same time hundreds of glowing streaks converged on the dragon. Goobots exploded all over his head, covering eyes, nose and mouth. Artaxus tried to clear them away with his claws, but the goo didn’t come off easily, sticking to his claws, and sticking his claws to his snout.

The rest of the bots turned out to be paintbots—with glow-in-the-dark paint. Haley had hit the dragon all over, turning him from a dragon with black scales that let him blend into the dark to a dragon covered with a glowing rainbow of multi-colored paint splotches.

“Don’t you have any killbots? Or even exploding bots?” Haley stopped firing.

Staring as the dragon struggled to free its claws from the gooey strands that held it to its face, I shook my head. “No. I didn’t think I’d be taking it into battle against anything real. The worst I thought I’d end up using it for is a really hard training session.”

Haley sighed. “So we’re stuck. We don’t have anything that will really hurt him.”

“I wouldn’t say that. I’ve got a few killbots in my armor. If I opened a window, I could use them on the dragon. Oh… Plus, the mech’s claws and teeth are made to work like Cassie’s sword.”

“Are you serious?” With my helmet’s 360 degree vision, I could see her eyes widen.

“The only problem with that is that we’d have to take him on directly to make it matter.”

At that moment, the mech made a pinging noise. On the screen, both the laser and the gravity panel went from being red to green, and then disappeared from the list of damaged sections.

Travis’ voice came over the comm. “Rocket? Night Cat? Are you okay up there?”

“We’re fine,” Haley said at the same time I said, “We’re all fixed as of now.”

“Great,” Travis said, pausing a little longer than I found comfortable. “We’ve been leaving you alone because we’ve got our own problems, but right now we’ve got almost everyone inside, and it looks like you’re our best shot at running interference. Izzy’s willing but tired, and I think they’re going to try—“

Below us, Artaxus must have had some way to coordinate with the faerie troops under his command because at that moment, he leapt, making it halfway up the cliff in one jump, and pulling himself halfway on to the ledge where the park stood, crushing the railing at the edge. Still glowing with the paint, he appeared to have gotten his mouth cleared of the goo even though it still coated his head.

At the same time, the dragon’s army rushed into the fog. Goblins had spears or bows in hand. A couple of trolls carried enormous axes, held ready to slice anyone in their path. I had no name for the rest of the creatures. Afterward I’d have to ask Samita—assuming we all had an afterward.

The army wasn’t our problem. I opened up the rockets on the mech’s back, and dove for the dragon.

15 thoughts on “Faerieland: Part 40”

  1. We’re getting closer to the end of this arc with every post–though there are several surprises (I hope) to come.

    In other news, I’ve been in contact with the people doing the cover and interior illustrations for the upcoming book, and things are going well there. That makes me happy. Plus I’ve nearly got the print version of the first book back in print. I’ve just got to make one small change…

    In the meantime, I’m going to start the process of formatting the second book for ebook and print.

    With any luck, I’ll be able to show everyone some illustrations shortly.

    Oh… And here’s the link to Top Web Fiction:
    http://topwebfiction.com/vote.php?for=the-legion-of-nothing

  2. Nick is a teen-age super scientist/engineer, who has rebuilt his van, in his spare time, into something that can fight a monster that for centuries has terrified, and is capable of slaughtering, entire magical armies.

    Not just fight, but quite possibly defeat, and if he was that way inclined, kill.

    That is pretty scary…

    There are good reasons to believe that gadgeteers are the most dangerous supers…

    Typo(s):

    “but also pushing further left, and the away from the dragon”, first ‘the’ should be ‘then’.

    “Using better than human speed to fire off more that I would”, ‘that’ should be ‘than’.

    “but the goo didn’t come easily”, missing word ‘off’, or ‘away’?

    “with glow in the dark paint”, not certain, but should that be ‘glow-in-the-dark paint’, or term should be quoted, or something?

    “I didn’t think I’d be taking into battle”, should there be ‘it’, or, ‘the van’, or, ‘the cat mecha’ added?

  3. So… lets see, I’m sure I’m going to miss some but here’s a small list of Nick’s accomplishments:

    Helped to kill an Immortal (I mean Lee killed him but, y’know)

    (possibly) saved the earth from some sort of machine race invasion

    Saved the world from an alternate/future version of himself

    Saved the world from extinction via deathdisks

    Played a major role in fending off an alien invasion

    …and now he’s probably going to kill a dragon… I think he has to retire after this unless he figures out how to save galaxies or kill gods.

  4. Error: The rest of the bots turned out be paintbots
    Fix: The rest of the bots turned out to be paintbots

    Error: A couple trolls
    Fix: A couple of trolls

  5. Classical interpretations of faeries show that Fae are vulnerable to a couple of things besides cold iron. One of them, is humiliation. Nick and Haley have just:
    1. covered a black dragon in a rainbow of paint pellets
    2. glued his face shut with ‘goo’ that sticks to his clawed hands
    3. knocked him down a mountain-twice.
    4. shot holes in him.

    Presuming Classical/mythical Faerie mythos:

    if Artaxus DOESN’T kill them at this point, he’ll lose a LOT of his power-because he’ll be effectively humiliated in front of his servants, and worse, in front of a couple of Mortals.

    I’d say things are NOT necessarily as rosy as you might expect at this point.

  6. I’m enjoying how the Dragon is being portrayed as something both beatable and dangerous. All too often, dragons end up being just big lizards, or get taken down by their own hubris, or else veer to the other end of the spectrum where they’re basically demigods and you need to introduce a Macguffin weakness (*coughSmaugcough*) to compensate.

    But Artaxus is showing that his confidence in his armour and healing is warranted, while still being given pause by the weapons the team has at their disposal.

    In related commentary, I also loke how, though Mecha-vs-Dragon, Mano-y-mano is the Rule of Cool thing, which we the readers are all looking forwards to, you’re keeping Nick aware of how actually dangerous and stupid getting within Mauling range of a dragon is.

  7. If they have to snipe from afar, you can be sure that Artaxus is dragon the fight out. They can wing it, but they’d be better off finding a good claws in his deal to help him turn tail.

    But enough about puns. I am reminded some of the Salvation War, where the unchanging demon hordes that built up such fear in Stone Age man come face to face with the full might of the 21st century human military machine. And then, to really scare one of the lords of hell, they let him see a documentary about the Manhattan Project. Heck, the closest things the demons have as point of reference for tanks are chariots of iron, which are a superweapon in the Bible (see: Judges 1:19).

    Fun books, though the third in the trilogy apparently won’t show up because somebody distributed their own ripped ebook copy of the first two, making the series practically untouchable to publishers.

    1. Um… You know the Salvation War series was created by the SpaceBattles forums gestalt. It was free on the internet long before it ever got published.

      1. The author of the Salvation War series was still going to publish it, and even had a major publisher lined up, up until someone grabbed a copy of the E-book and torrented it. The person even emailed the author and told him they did it because of their religious beliefs. Due to some sort of first publishing rights mess, the publisher backed out of the deal.

        That’s the kind of stuff that made Wildbow tell people that they can’t assemble an e-book version.

  8. “The cabin and indirectly the Rocket suit felt like an oven, and the fans came on, the air conditioning running much more strongly than it would in any normal van.”

    You’d probably be better to split this into more than one sentence, or completely rewrite it, Jim. It’s pretty strangely put together and feels kludgy.

  9. Edit suggestion:

    “…the air conditioning running much more strongly than it would in any normal van.”

    –> “…the air conditioning running much stronger than it would in any normal van.”

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