Bellin stooped down, stretching his long, lean arm forward underneath the stump, carefully using his talons to pull the covering of rotting leaves away from the earth. The smell of decay almost stung his canine nose as he carefully cleared the debris away. There they were. Not many. They would fetch a healthy dose of credits during his trip to Dweomer next week though. Mages paid well for mutated foxglove. It was even deadlier than its Earth-native cousin, which could cause death, for some species, within moments. It was particularly useful in the preparation of small sacrificial ceremonies a caster often used to increase his energy reserves. Not that Bellin really cared what they did with it. As long as the purple flowers got him a full cred-stick, their use mattered about as much to him as the leaves covering the plants in the first place. At least this one was under a stump. Mutated foxglove only grew under dead things, with only their dull purple flowers peaking out from around the corpse. He had found mutated foxglove in some much more – interesting – locations.
Suddenly a howl like a pack of wolves sounded in Bellin’s head while simultaneously the sound of gunfire reached Bellin’s ears. His warding spell at his camp had been triggered. And damn it, that gunfire had been getting closer for a while. He’d just been too involved in his work harvesting the plants to pay attention. Luckily, the camp was only about two-hundred meters distant.
Bellin secured the bundle of flowers in his satchel and, crouching his bony frame into a ball, leapt over the stump, easily sprinting the thirty meters to his hover-bike. Flipping the standby switch to the ready position, his radar kicked on with an alarming beep. One large Class 1 ping and a Medium Class 2 coming in from the north and east. The Class 2 was sending out waves of Coalition States transponder frequencies while the Class 1 could be anything from a Rahu man to a great horned dragon. Cursing, Bellin swung himself onto the bike, lowered his flight goggles, and goosed the throttle. The vehicle swept up through the trees and shot straight ahead, back to camp.
Arriving at camp, Bellin was startled to find a Coalition SAMAS tumbling through his tent as a large green bolt of energy followed. To his left, the crashing of a gargantuan creature moving through the woods was very distinct and getting closer. The radar indicator blinked as data changed, and suddenly the one Medium Class 2 became two Class 2 pings. Looking where the indicator directed him, Bellin spotted two more SAMAS coming in fast in close formation. Green bursts of light came from one of them as the plasma-tracer cartridges dug into the shoulder of the first SAMAS, which still read as a Class 1 entity.
Realizing the pilot must be a Deebee too, Bellin decided to help. Any excuse to crush a few CS humans was a good excuse to him. He snapped his fingers, and a blue half-globe appeared around the friendly target, shielding him from further fire. Oddly, a very loud squeaking noise erupted from the machine as it crumpled to the ground, covering its head with its arms and hands. The squeaking sounded distinctly like a child yelling out “No bad!”
There was simply no time to consider the squealing of the pursued pilot. The aggressors had taken a rather significant notice of Bellin’s presence and were reacting exactly as CS troops were expected to. They were going to dispatch the deebee with extreme prejudice; and Bellin needed to get his bike moving before some of those plasma rounds hit him.
Squeezing the bike tightly with his knees, he flew in a loop-the-loop, hoping to come down at an off-angle somewhere behind his two opponents. No such luck. These weren’t green recruits, but practiced tacticians. They worked well together too; both of their machines splitting off in a reversing Y, wind screaming as their turbine engines kicked into a burst of thrust. Bellin’s maneuver only served to put him directly in between them. Great!
A split second’s concentration and Bellin had enveloped his bike in a blue globe of energy just like he’d used to protect his supposed ally. He grinned in an appropriately wolfish manner. Ordinarily, his shield spell wouldn’t be able to handle even a single full volley from the two SAMAS. However, this was Bellin’s camp, and Bellin, being a Walker of intelligence, had set his camp near a ley line. The shield was now powerful enough to handle the task at hand, and Bellin reached out to the ribbon of mystical energy, filling himself to bursting with what he’d need to shut down these pathetic humans.
The first CS trooper didn’t take much really. A spherical wave of frost and cold erupted from Bellin’s chest, confusing the heat-sensing optics when the pilots needed them most. Poorly aimed shots bounced off of the energy shield surrounding him. He cast again, and bolts of electricity and chunks of ice erupted from the tips of Bellin’s clawed fingers in an onslaught that would have leveled a small building. His first target fell to the dirt, one engine spinning it about in circles while its stubby wing dug a spiral into the place it had fallen.
The second one proved more difficult. Initially, Bellin had assumed that both pilots were out of missiles, so he needn’t worry about the use of mini-nukes. Assumptions being what they are, Bellin soon regretted this one. Two missiles exploded against his shield, causing it to fall rather unexpectedly. Slugs from the armor’s rail gun knocked Bellin…..
TO BE CONTINUED…