Chapter One Hundred Forty Two
Pilot, by rhetoric
Word Count: 1,016
He was on the battle field. Swinging a double-sided sword, slicing hunks and limbs from bodies. Blood rained down around him with each completed orbit but it stank of wet mutt and punctured intestines.
He was tired. The heavy kind of exhaustion; what his father used to refer to as bone tired. Pilot could remember a plethora of different variations of fatigue; he’d lived long enough that being unshakably tired was almost part of his day-to-day life. Some mornings he woke up tired, other days he survived weeks – tired all the while – on no sleep, out of necessity. It wasn’t easy to live in a near-perpetual state of exhaustion, as he had been for recent weeks, but it was getting worse. He could feel his inheritance milking the last reserves of his energy, could feel the ice cold tendrils of feebleness flood his veins. All he wanted was to go home. It was not a house on the beach, not a small town, not a city block. It was the flesh of one woman, the scent of her hair, the feel of her laugh vibrating through his ribs. What he wanted, nay, what he needed was time apart from the rest of the world.
He told himself, sternly, that when this was over he could rest. He could lie in bed for weeks with her, never even leaving if they so desired, but the comfort was weak, diluted like tea put in too much hot water.
He needed to eat, and there was certainly a buffet to be had for one that enjoyed the taste of lycan blood. He did not. He needed to eat and he had one option. Weighing the cons was out of the question: his body was beginning to shut down. He could feel the quiver in his knees an instant before they gave way. He caught himself on his weapon, barely moving his head to avoid slicing his own throat. He could genuinely not remember a single moment in his entire life in which his exhaustion matched the straight-up deathly feeling of fatigue that itched beneath his skin in that moment.
As always, like some omnipresent phantom, her hand was on his shoulder, her voice in his head.
Often, he would speak to her out loud even though their connection did not require it, but not then. In that moment, his tongue was swollen and dry, his lips cracking and peeling. The act of speech, he was convinced, ran the risk of killing him. He could feel his muscles shrinking in with the sudden-onset hunger. It was the nature of the beast, really; a price he paid for his inheritance, a price he had accepted long ago.
He could feel her smile tug at the corners of his own mouth, though he could not even see her. He could not keep his eyes open, let alone turn to capture her in his sight.
Yes, you can.
What happened then was like nothing he had ever experienced. They’d both known that once her royal inheritance began to awaken that she would be capable of much more than she was already capable of, but expectations and reality were often incompatible. A lightning storm erupted in his skeleton, sending wave after scalding wave of power, of energy and sustenance and the very essence of life, to crash outward from his bones. His muscles burned with the new heat, swelled and tensed and healed where necessary. His lungs brought in entire atmospheres of oxygen, rushing the cool night air into his body and squeezing it out like a sponge. When he exhaled a cloud of pristine white erupted from between his lips.
Get up, she thought again.
That time, he did.
He had never before in his life been more alive. His body moved like a creature unbound by gravity or physics – he lunged and his legs propelled him half a dozen feet in the air to land squarely on his victim’s skull. He turned and the act itself dodged a blow he hadn’t been aware was coming. He had never been so in tune with a battle, and he’d been in tune with many a battle. He rose from a crouch, throwing the palm of his hand against the jaw of a shifted wolf, and the blow sent the beast’s head back hard enough that he heard the crack of a broken neck.
He could feel her presence at all times, as if it haunted is very flesh, but he knew she was not nearby. She’d zipped off into the fray with the glint of a goddess of war flashing like the sun behind her eyes. And yet, he knew when she landed a killing blow – felt it tremble through his spine, no less enjoyable than a shiver of pleasure. It felt as if every lycan he took down was feeding him somehow – without blood, without contact, without conscious awareness; but every time one fell, he became more alert, more agile, more invincible.
All the while, he hunted one scent; one vile musk that hung over the others like an invisible shadow. Fenrir had vanished once the fight began – and every one of them sought him out. At least, Pilot assumed they all did. He knew he certainly was after Fenrir. Arisa had reason to hunt the bastard down. Elseron would never rest until he found him. Phaedos was not really the type to let such egregious damage to his life go without punishment. Certainly Dante, above them all, had every motivating factor to rip Fenrir limb from limb.
It was then, with the strange sensation of a dual-existence skewing his perceptions, that he detected a similarity in both perspectives. That scent, it was stronger to Eden’s west and his North. Immediately, he corrected his position and faced the overlapping sensory input, taking in a great whiff of the area.
He smirked into the darkness, as if to strike fear into an enemy’s heart – but no enemy could be seen.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Pilot was gone.