Specs? Randidly asked quickly as he leaped sideways to escape the shockwave of the hand smashing down and crushing the two squad members. The sheer force of the thing stumbled all of the members of their expedition but Randidly, who moved quickly to avoid as soon as it moved.
Well, everyone else but Azriel.
Immense physical strength, practical immortality… but all of this was disproved by Aemont. Azriel said, landing behind the Propagator. She had rushed forward beneath its spindly limbs rather than avoiding and had hit it directly with her spear. The point skittered off of the strange blue-grey material that made up its body.
...but perhaps it is based upon truth. Still, attacks of a certain caliber should work-
Randidly wanted to explain to her that he knew how Aemont defeated the Propagator, and it wasn’t with power. It was with the extremely specific Skill Breath of the Spear Phantom. But once more, the Propagator blurred into motion.
Twisting around, it faced Azriel before she could move. After opening its mouth, it blasted out another roar that physically smashed her into the ground. Gritting his teeth, Randidly threw himself into motion.
Azriel was already standing again, but her clothes were ripped. Looming above, the Propagator raised its hand.
How the fuck was it so fast when its body was so large…?
Before Randidly could arrive, Sergeant Platton arrived. He smashed into the Propagator’s spindly torso, which was about as thin as its arms. Immediately, it seemed like a smoke bomb went off. A smoke thicker even than the mist earlier spread outwards to cover the group. Randidly sensed Azriel streaking off around to unite with their group.
“I said RETREAT,” Sergeant Platton hissed as they rushed through the cover of the mist. “We are nowhere near capable of defeating it, especially behind enemy lines. Plus, we need to report-”
The entire group was knocked off of their feet and fell into a tangle of limbs. The roar was the beat of a drum against the very planet they were standing on. In addition, the nearby smoke and mist were blasted away by the force.
The Propagator was straight up like a meerkat peeking out of its burrow. It rapidly twisted, until it spotted their group, regaining their feet. Its limbs seemed double jointed because its spine bent and it began to skitter towards the group on four limbs, its large head twisting around so its three orbs fixed on them.
In addition, the Propagators are in charge of the reproduction of the Wights. Azriel said while facing the oncoming force of nature. They gather the dead bodies of Wights and our people… to create new Wights. There is a theory that Wights-
“By the Spearman’s balls, that thing is creepy,” Skarch said, and Randidly chuckled in spite of himself.
Then he looked to the Sergeant. “If you cover us with smoke again, I think I have a way of keeping it from knocking away our cover.”
Platton gave Randidly a hard look. “You aren’t staying here-”
“I won’t have to,” Randidly countered. Truly, he wanted the chance to test himself against this opponent, but he had been knocked sideways by simply it yelling. The squad Sergeant Platton was moving with were people whose Level was in the upper 40s. And yet they were ripped to pieces with a single hand.
He just needed to stop its breath.
Then the Propagator was there, and they didn’t have the luxury of talking. It swiped an arm sideways, and Sergeant Platton moved to stop it. To even the Propagator’s surprise, its strike hit the Sergeant as everyone else scattered… and it stopped dead. The Sergeant spat a fat wad of phlegm on the thing’s body and then the smoke exploded outwards.
Randidly took a breath. Then his eyes began to glow. A silhouette appeared in his mind, proud and lonely. Aemont. A man who would die silently to take down an opponent. His spine was as tall as proud as a spear in Randidly’s mind, and just as deadly. The Skill took hold, and Randidly felt the target’s body stiffen in confusion.
Running quickly, Randidly caught up with the rest of the group. One of the subordinates of Sergeant Platton was supporting the Sergeant, which earned Randidly’s confused glance.
The Sergeant grimaced. “That puppet is not as strong as it looks. Mostly it relies on how hard its body is.”
“Puppet? Also, where did Silo go?” Skarch asked distractedly, casting her eyes around. The group was back in the smoke and had about three seconds head start. Randidly could feel the Propagator taking in a breath.
Randidly could sense Silo, so he pointed. Luckily, the guy still seemed mobile, although he was clearly limping away. Although Silo was about to stumble into a group of Wights. Luckily, the group took his point seriously and veered to the side, rushing through the mist.
The Propagator tried to roar. Randidly resisted.
He felt his left lung pop from the feedback.
“Crawwwww!” It was a forlorn and weak cry, nowhere near enough to dispel the smoke. But Randidly tripped and smashed into the ground as his body shredded at the edges. There was a buzzing in his ears as he tried to hop back up. But just as soon as he did, he fell sideways.
Inwardly, Randidly swore. Looked like his eardrums and god knows what else popped with that. Goddamnit, how strong was that thing?
Instantly, energy started channeling up through the ground into him. The thick golden waves of power felt revitalizing, and instantly he felt his body shift. But they needed to move now, so he accepted Azriel’s hand and ignored her worried look to join the rush once more.
They were moving through the heart of the camp now. The strange crystal buildings that the Wights built blurred into a strange, angular background. Randidly kept his eyes ahead as his hearing slowly came back. He hit the group of Wights ahead of Silo with two Incendiary Eruptions, breaking up their ambush.
Plus, Silo seemed to notice and began to move rapidly to the side. Good, it seemed he was recovering as well.
This time, there was nothing Randidly could do to stop the Propagator. The force of its scream smashed the air away in a huge circle. Wind currents whipped by the group, but it was far enough away that the mist around them only thinned, it didn’t disperse completely. Which was a good thing, because it allowed Silo to turn around and spot them. Quickly, he fell in with the fleeing group without complaint.
His mouth moved. Sergeant Platton answered, and then began muttering to himself. Randidly tapped the side of his head, urging his hearing to come back.
Bursting through a thick portion of the clouds, the group found themselves in front of almost 50 Wights. Luckily, Azriel and Skarch were waiting for this. They ripped into the Wights in front of the group with abandon, cutting them down like wheat. By the time the opponents had recovered and prepared their Psychic Venom and Claws, the others hit the line and tore the rest of the formation to shreds.
Unfortunately, another one of Sergeant Platton’s squad members was hit by Psychic Poison and then mobbed. Randidly instantly spent 10% of his Mana to use Spearing Roots to rip apart the nearby Wights, but the fellow’s throat was already ripped out.
After a second’s pause, the group continued.
Randidly’s hearing came back with a crash as something huge landed in front of them.
“Fuck, this is what I was worried about,” Sergeant Platton swore. “The Propagator brought two puppets.”
The group was forced backward as the Propagator in front of them reared up and screamed. A second later, there was a dull staccato of thunder as another huge body ran up behind them, surrounding them.
Randidly’s eyes widened. This wasn’t… their real form?
Instantly, Aether Detection spread out over the entire island. It was difficult to sense anything but density when so many people were gathered together, but there was a powerful concentration about 50 meters Southeast of their current position.
Inspiration. Incendiary Eruption.
The ground cracked and shattered beneath them as a huge plume of fiery lava burst into the sky fifty meters away from the group. A veritable volcano opened its greedy maw and screamed at the sky. The heat, even from this distance away, was enormous. So much so that one of the squad members screamed. The two strange, humanoid forms that didn’t constitute the Propagator’s true body swayed and then fell with a crash to the ground.
Ash and molten rock filled the sky and slowly fell to hit the ground. But Randidly didn’t feel any more relieved. Because the Aether bundle was still there, and it was moving slowly towards the group.
As if on cue, the mist slowly parted. Randidly frowned because there was a strange… numbness in his skin. But he didn’t have much time to notice it because a form walked out of the mist. It had been made to look like the residents of this planet at one point, with neon pink hair pulled up into a ponytail. But its flesh on the lower half of its body and right arm had been burnt away, leaving only that grey-blue material that made up the bigger puppets.
Behind it, the two puppets that collapsed slowly leveraged themselves off of the ground.
But Randidly’s eyes were drawn to the midsection of the smaller figure. In the tattered remnants of the thing’s clothes, there were movements. A clicking emerged, and then a beetle the size of a small dog climbed up and turned to point its antenna towards the group. They twitched.
All around them, there was a surge of wind. The group of fifty Wights they had killed behind them rose off the ground and began to twist and press together. The dead became raw materials and within 20 seconds, a third giant puppet was looming above the group.
Silo coughed. “Heh, I didn’t want to do this, but I guess it’s time to use that card…”
Sergeant Platton appeared to ignore him. “To be honest… you all are faster than me. We need to get word out about the Propagator. We will split up.”
“I don’t want to leave my new friends,” Skarch said placidly.
Azriel didn’t say anything, but her fingers gripping her spear were white.
Sergeant Platton sighed. “You all remind me of myself when I was younger… and that’s not a compliment.”
One of the puppets raised its head and roared, and everyone exploded into motion.