Burning in the Void – Chapter 44

raid _Dominic

Natalia leapt away from the wall, across the hallway, and through the open door. Her skin shuddered and twisted with muddled colors as her chameleoskin struggled to keep up with the rapidly shifting background, then stuttered and shifted into a shatter of continually morphing colors intended to disorient anyone looking at her. The courtiers closest to the door stopped talking and gawked in confused amazement at the sight of the Natalia’s continually transforming skin. A short noblewoman dressed in a sweeping silvery robe screamed and dropped her glass as she stood rooted to the deck in terror, until Natalia’s open palm slammed into her shoulder and sent her spinning into the crowd.

Dominic hurtled through the doorway with Max close behind him. The shocked people, already paralyzed by Natalia’s sudden appearance, formed an immovable barrier in front of him, so Dominic bent low and leapt into the air with all the force that his mechanical legs could offer. He flew upwards, arced over the astonished crowd, and slammed down onto a table, scattering dishes laden with food and sending gouts of wine spraying from shattered glasses. From his elevated position, Dominic saw the guards converging on the throne as the king raised his sword and brandished the point menacingly towards Natalia.

“Seize the demon!” The king screamed, his rich baritone echoing throughout the wide room.

The crowd seemed to waver for a moment, their eyes bright with fear as they weighed the horror of the monster that had appeared before them against the bold command of their king, then those nearest to the invaders screamed in outrage and hurled themselves towards Natalia. She plowed onward through the crowd as Dominic turned his attention to beating back waves of well-dressed attackers from his tabletop with swift kicks. He heard a triumphant roar and, glancing up, saw that Max had disappeared beneath a converging swarm of human bodies. He was about to leap to her aid when the roar of the crowd was replaced by the sound of cracking bones and agonized screams as Max burst up from beneath the pile of enraged courtiers, then came crashing down atop the pile of stunned humans who had attempted to pin her to the floor.

Dominic ran down the length of the table and jumped from the end of it, the force of his jump upsetting the table and causing it to tip crazily up on one end, then come crashing down again, only nearly missing the dozen courtiers who lay stunned on the floor around the table. The jump carried Dominic three meters towards the throne before a foolishly brave courtesan reached up and snagged his ankle. Dominic felt his leap transform into a tumble as his leg jerked backwards and he came crashing to the floor, bearing three gaudily attired revelers down under him.

In the three seconds it took for him to disentangle himself from the grasping hands, Dominic saw a guard approaching through a gap in the crowd, sword drawn and face set in a mask of rage.