Jax' heart was pounding. He was on what he thought was an abandoned tower on the outer wall of the city, nursing the open wound on his foot that the crazed refugee had caused. He glanced into the horizon, and saw the same impending wave of grey that had destroyed so many other settlements. After wrapping his injury with bandages from his pack (which he was thankful had not been taken from him when he was captured, unlike his flint dagger, which he had been forced to replace with a dagger in a market stall he stole in all the chaos), he stood up and gazed at the city. Soldiers were arming themselves, and citizens were being armed too. It was apparent that no one had any thoughts of retreat. So be it; if they would not retreat, he would not either. This city was the largest he had ever seen, and if there had ever been any chance to stop the Shigu dead in its tracks, it was now (or so he thought). He stood up when a blinding flash came from the horizon, and the pain in his hypersensitive eyes forced him to take a knee (as opposed to fall off the wall completely). He pried his eyes open just for long enough to see what had caused such a loud flash in the horizon. It was beautiful. Jax' eyes started to water, both from the beauty, but also from the damage such light was doing to his retina. The sky was filled with fireflies (Jax had never seen a fire arrow before), all streaking towards the city. As they touched down, great tongues of flame roared up on the wood-roofed houses of the city (correct me if I'm wrong readers, but buildings in the south are clay/mud walls with wood roofs, correct?). The fire was a true spectacle to behold, but the second he heard the cries of those burning alive, trapped inside their own homes, Jax shook his head to clear his vision of the captivating view. He reopened his squinted eyes, but nothing had changed. The fire was a blurry water color painting, dancing over the buildings. Why couldn't he see clearly!? He looked at his outstretched forepaws, but they were muddled and squishy in his vision. 'Oh, no
', He thought to himself as realization dawned on him. This was not the first time it had happened. Back in the Facuility in one of his messier run-ins with the Keeper. In his desperate attempts to evade the predator that followed him, he had been forced into some of the lowest levels of the Facuility, a place that was darker than anything he had ever been in, and ever would be. By the time the Keeper (inevitably) found him, he had lived in pitch black for four weeks without the use of his eyes. After a five day game of hide-and-seek, the Keeper found him and alerted the level's defense system. Thousands of floodlights spread around miles of corridors turned on instantly, and while Jax had been able to escape with the help of mOther, his vision was temporarily muddled, and permanently hypersensitive.
The cries of the doomed were louder now, and while some of the soldiers in the city were forming fire lines to stoke the flame, it was apparent there would be no way to combat the flames. He needed to help, but how?
One cry stood out from the rest. Jax looked down from his vantage point on the wall. Near him, a guard near the back gate crumpled around the arrow that was now piercing his stomach. 'What? But the Shigu are attacking the other side of the town!' he thought to himself. Three hooded figures moved in from the shadows and quickly dispatched the other guard at the gate. As they removed their hoods, anger boiled and bubbled up inside Jax; they were Shigu saboteurs.
Zal stabbed the other guard with his dagger. "Nim, open the gate!" The hooded figure to his left was off with his whispered command, off to find the location of the gate's mechanism. Zal had always liked Nim, her graceful form, her elegant mane, everything about her made his tail raise (you know the tail I mean). He hoped she would perform the mating dance for him (female Sergals propose to the males), but he couldn't be sure if she would, as girls were too complex for his simple soldier mind. He gave her the job of finding the mechanism because it would likely be undefended, and it was the safer job in comparison to his; standing completely exposed in the clearing in front of the gate, making sure that no other Reono headed to this area of the town and lived to tell the tale.
"Why do we have to follow the orders of that pup!?", he could hear Rin growl to his right.
"Commander Thrax seems place much faith in him, and besides, that 'pup' did come up with the plan to lower the back gate, and kill the Reono Commander at the same time" Zal pointed out... Rin just snorted at this.
"I'm just saying that Loki char-"
A jet black shadow leaped from the wall above them and landed on Rin. This was a terrible mistake for the shadow however, as Rin was the best unarmed combatant in his squad. Rin flung his body forward, stopping abruptly, causing the shadow to fly forward off his back. The shadow drew a dagger and stood in a precarious fighting stance, looking like he could either charge, or fall to the ground at any second. 'Strange', Zal thought to himself, 'I wonder why he is so disoriented'.
Their assailant eyed Zal and Rin as they formed a semi-circle (or as much of a semi-circle as two people can make), waiting for him to strike. Zal saw a grin creep along Rin's face. 'By Rain, not now
' he rolled his eyes at what Rin was about to do.
Rin dropped his spear, and unclipped his ceramic armor. The chest plate fell of immediately. "Well?" he taunted.
The shadow burst forward with incredible velocity, an angry hornet flying at the speed of sound ready to sting its exposed target with a sharp iron dagger.
Whoosh! >Crunch< -Fwoosh! Huh!
It had all happened so fast. The shadow's face collided with Rin's fist, its muzzle pushed on by the full force of its body's angry hornet speed, and the fist backed by Rin's weight in strong Shigu warrior muscle. The shadow's dagger flew from its hand at amazing speeds off somewhere behind Zal as the shadow flew backwards, its body crumpling as it was fouled on the muddy ground. The full shock of the blow, getting the wind knocked out of him, and then hitting the ground so hard had put the shadow into complete and utter shock
from the instant its soft, fleshy nose had collided with Rin's impending, boulder-like fist.
Rin took a moment to grin at Zal, who in turn simply rolled his eyes at his subordinate. He could never understand why Rin occasionally fought with his fists. Sure it showed just how superior he was to his opponent; winning without the advantage of claws was much trickier, but the risks involved in such a life and death scenario were simply too high for Zal to comprehend. The shadow started to regain its footing and Rin turned back to his play-thing. Rin swiped with his claws along the shadow's arm, leaving a long red gash.
It was quite apparent that the shadow had had enough by that point in time, and (after tripping on itself multiple times to the amusement of both Rin and Zal) scrambled off towards the burning city's interior. The two Shigu simply grinned to themselves and decided to let their wounded assailant meet his fate in the burning city as they waited for their third party member to return from opening the back gate so that the second division of the Shigu army that was lying in wait could enter and over-run the city completely unopposed.
"Nim, have you found the ga-", Zal stopped midsentence the second he turned around. A single tear fell from his eyes. It was all that he would ever waste thinking about all that once was, and all that could have been with his potential mate. Nim lie dead on the ground, eyes glazed over, spurts of blood already drying around her mouth, and the iron stinger of a hornet square in her neck.
Ouch. No. Really Ouch. Seriously. Owowowowowowowowowow. Alerts were going off everywhere in his brain. Ow. Jax had never felt something so painful. No. This surpassed pain. He was feeling pain in places that he had never felt pain before, and in some places that he hadn't even been injured. This transcended any pain that existed. How was he even still alive? He continued in his hurried hobble (he still couldn't completely walk straight after such a painful run-in) towards the center of the city. There might be some way of helping that he was better at than being beaten up and accidentally killing one of his enemies with a dagger that he dropped. He wasn't even sure why he was helping. Or who. His mind was as muddled as his vision after such a blunt force to the brain. 'Keep it together!' he scolded himself 'First things first. Where are you?... The Reono city that is under attack by the Shigu clan. Why are you here?...
' He drew a blank. 'Revenge?'. It was an answer to any "why" question that he could ask himself when he thought about it.