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Styx: 054

"So, not that I want to interfere with you making big decisions on the spur of the moment without consulting me or anything, but narratively speaking are we likely to just walk straight out of here without trouble?" Princess was stuffed back in Xavier's satchel, and was evidently feeling snarky.

Of course, she also had a point. "You believe me that we're in a narrative?" Xavier muttered under his breath. Sumiko shot him a quelling glare.

"Let's just say we're going to have a good long talk on the subject when we next get the chance," temporized Princess. "Right now, I'm more interested in hearing if you have any predictions."

Xavier gave it some thought as he followed after Rachel and Sumiko with what he hoped was a purposeful walk. It had been smooth sailing so far, but now Princess brought it up, of course they weren't going to be allowed to just walk out of camp. Unless running into Rachel had for some reason completely upset the genre, conflict was basically guaranteed. "Shit, we're definitely going to run into trouble." He picked up his pace slightly, intended to warn Rachel.

He was too slow.

«Animal! Animal infiltrator in the camp!» screamed a nearby soldier, pointing straight at Sumiko.

"You just had to say it!" yelled Xavier at Princess as she hoisted herself out of the satchel and into the crook of his arm at double speed and everything went to hell.

Sumiko ducked and rolled under the slash of a nearby soldier's sword. Rachel moved inhumanly fast toward the soldier who had yelled, there was a small spike of nima, and he crumpled into a heap. Xavier felt nima suddenly building behind them and spun just in time to yank a spike of nima away from Sumiko where she was coming out of her roll. Unfortunately, he over-reached himself and staggered off balance, so the nima traced a parabola around him to shoot straight at Rachel, who grabbed it out of the air and did—something with it. He wasn't able to track quite what. Xavier felt nima quickly building off at another angle, and rather than wait to see what sort of trouble that particular artifact was about to unleash he opted to sprint after Sumiko as she high-tailed it toward a stack of luggage near a pair of tents.

The two dove behind the luggage just as the artifact that had been prepping behind them sent out a screaming flash of nima. Fortunately, the shot went wide, although it blew the tent nearby completely apart. For a camp that had seemed quite disciplined, they certainly weren't shy about firing off ordinance toward their fellow soldiers.

A moment later, Rachel slid smoothly around the edge of the luggage and dropped into place next to Xavier.

«Sedgewick thinks it would be safe for the two of us to go all out,» she said conversationally. «But I'm hoping you have a better plan, because I honestly don't have that strong a grudge against these people.»

Xavier looked at her askance. «Just what is—nevermind. Princess and I can handle the artifacts, if they're stupid enough to keep firing at us, but neither of us can do anything about swords.»

«I'll take point, you support, and Xavier is in the rear where the mononoke can help him neutralize incoming nima,» snapped Sumiko. «And nothing flashy, kami! You'll draw the whole camp down on us. Sunda hate kami.»

Rachel looked thoughtful. «That explains some things. Let's go.»

The three took off running and ran straight into a group of soldiers who had been trying to flank them. Sumiko ducked under the swing of the foremost, shoved him off balance, and then cannoned through the rest of their ranks like a fuzzy pinball. Rachel simply slapped soldiers aside whenever they got closer to her or Xavier, and Xavier scurried in her wake, tried not to gibber, and strained his senses for incoming nima.

This was the first time Xavier had faced off against human antagonists, and he didn't like it one bit. It was, quite frankly, a nightmare.

A sword whistled through the air and bounced off Rachel's exposed neck before he could shout. Her arm whipped out, grabbed the suddenly off-balance forearm of the soldier who had attacked her, broke it with a sharp twist and a crack, and then tossed the now-screaming soldier one-handed into a pair who had been pelting towards Xavier. Sumiko disappeared into a small clump of soldiers for a moment, and Xavier almost fell over in panic before she emerged with blood on her teeth and a feral look in her eye that Xavier had never seen before. A pair of soldiers executed a perfect pincer attack on Rachel, but before Sumiko or he could even try to assist the two fell back in a spray of blood.

No one seemed able to get close to Xavier. He followed in the wake of Sumiko and Rachel, and together they parted the oncoming soldiers like wheat. When at last their opponents started to get a little more organized and began leaving openings so that their fellows could fire on the three invaders from behind, Xavier finally started feeling like he was contributing. He pulled nima out of the air with reckless abandon.

At last they reached the supplies, and they dropped behind one of the piles, having momentarily outpaced the information that there were invaders in camp. Rachel immediately started digging through the stack behind them, homing in on something. «Sumiko, Xavier, grab a couple of bags and as much food and drink as you can stuff into them. This isn't going to hold them back long.»

The two jumped to work, although Xavier honestly wasn't sure what all he'd stuffed in his sack by the time he was done. While they'd been busy, Rachel had been spending her time lobbing small artifacts over toward the oncoming soldiers, where they explosively vented their nima. Xavier was fairly certain they weren't supposed to do that.

«Alright, that'll have to be enough. Time to run again.»

And they were off.

Fortunately, despite their pause at the supplies, they were able to keep mostly ahead of the information that there were intruders trying to flee the camp by the eastern border, so most of their close altercations were small clumps of soldiers who took umbrage at a trio of people obviously up to no good. After the last of these, they finally broke through the camp border, scrambled through the ditch lined it, and took off into the desert with a last few shots of nima trailing them.

Princess climbed up and perched on the top of Xavier's head, watching backwards as he followed Rachel and Sumiko as fast as he could with his flagging endurance. "We're going to have pursuit soon for sure."

"Wonderful," gasped Xavier. «Rachel, Sumiko-san, what are we going to do when they follow us?»

«We'll worry about that soon enough,» replied Rachel. «Just keep going for now, Xavier.»

She wasn't even out of breath. Just what the hell had happened to her since she'd arrived in this world?

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About the author

EO Tenkey

Bio: Read all the things. Write all the things. Sleep? What's that? Does it taste good with chips?

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