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A Good Defence...

"A Good Defence..." (Part One)
Jason — 3 Sep 1999, 8:00 PM


The sound of a bullet fragment pierced through the air, unfurled with deadly speed and accuracy from the rifle of Rudy Ransom. The Equinox raced through an open plain at high speed, making a quick run through the area, as if being pursued. A bystander would have seen the caravan Equinox, and might have thought it to be possessed: there was nothing pulling or pushing it, and yet with an unbelievable speed and sense of direction it headed forward, leaving clouds of dirt and sand floating in the air in it's wake.

But even the disturbance on the ground that the Equinox left in its wake couldn't explain what was happening in the sky, which despite being clear as a summer's day, crackled with the sound of thunder and screamed with the sound of a carnal cry of agony. It was as if ghosts or some other spirits watched from above, crying out in anger-- an anger that demanded vengeance.

Above the Equinox, little disturbances formed in the air... they were almost as if the sky was being ripped open, but it was unlike anything any of them had ever seen before. At least, before they met the Ankhari.

After unleashing a ferocious volley in to one of these disturbances, Ransom, who was standing at the front of the caravan, wheeled around, careful to maintain his balance to take aim on his other side.

The Spirits that emerged-the Ankhari's holy spirits, came howling out of these corridors, making what seemed like suicide runs at the caravan. The Equinox's crew manned all parts of the caravan, armed with revolvers or rifles, defending their caravan and each other from the attack.

Max Burke had just managed to close a corridor before an Ankhari spirit had emerged, when behind him, he could hear the fizzle in the air that indicated another spirit's approach. He wheeled around quickly, anticipating the worst. As he did, the fissure was already being left in the distance by the caravan, as the Equinox raced ahead at break-neck speed, maneuvering around the stationary corridors that lay ahead.

Still, Max raised his rifle, steadied his arm and took his shot. The emerging creature was struck, but no sooner than he had taken his shot he was struck by another one of the spirits. The creature that had aimed for Max had almost missed: but by shifting his center of gravity at an inopportune time, Max had inadvertently let the creature make contact with his shoulder, leaving behind an agonizing flesh wound that burned within from the creature's venom. The force of which the creature had struck him sent him flying through the caravan, landing inside it.

On the other side of the caravan, Noah's revolver was firing as quickly as he could load it. Marla had a rifle and was both firing into nearby vortexes and striking nearby creatures with the butt of her weapon.

Then, there was a loud, nearby shriek.

"A Good Defence..." Part Two
Jason — 3 Sep 1999, 8:02 PM

Ransom ducked from the creature that was heading toward him just in time. He didn't think it would have been so close-hoping, up until a moment ago, that Max would have covered his back. But then the Equinox, under the Doctor's control, swerved to avoid a forming fissure. The sharp turn left Ransom feeling weightless. Indeed, before he had a chance to determine his bearings he had already struck the ground with full intensity before realizing he'd been thrown off the racing vehicle. He steadied himself, and stood up shakily, holding firm to his rifle and watched the Equinox continue off without him, attempting to evade the attacking creatures. Max was down, the Equinox was out of control and he had been thrown off and there was no defense from the Ankhari spirit's attack. For a moment, he felt almost... relieved. The fissures were continuing to form along the path of the Equinox, and for the first time in a few hours, the air around him was crisp, clear... and didn't hold any violent threat. As hard as it was for Ransom to reconcile- - he was under attack by something from beyond nature as he knew it- - something that most certainly didn't belong on Earth. And yet now he was paying the penance for attacking the spiritual world. Was this the end? He watched the Equinox flee, under heavy attack. Maybe this was the kind of arrogance that he, as a spiritual man, had always believed could only be punished by a relentless show of supernatural force. Truth be told, this was the first moment he'd allowed himself to think about what he was doing and this situation in all the time he and his hands had been conducting this procedure on the Ankhari spirits.

Even still, all of this took only a few seconds. His reprieve from attack lasted only a moment-hardly enough time for any personal sense of assuredness of his safety to set in. Nearby, he could hear the rattling noise that was indicative of the fissures. It was like the sound of a rattlesnake.

Again, he had a split second of introspection. He was under attack by the holy spirits of the Ankhari, an Indian tribe. And yet, their presence was signalled by the sound of a rattle shaking. He wondered, for an instant, if there was something on a mythological level that connected the two. Both the snake and the spirit, he had learned over his long journey, could be relentless, merciless and vicious. If there was a species on Earth that represented these supernatural creatures, the rattlesnake would most definitely be it, he decided.

He turned, and saw the creature's corridor forming right behind him. He held up his rifle, and fired in to the fissure which was forming about a half-meter above him. It closed before anything emerged but by the time he had sealed it he had barely enough time to wheel around and start firing on the corridor that was forming where he had just been looking. After a few shots, it closed, and for another instant he was secure. No fissure was forming again but he was certain it would not be long before one did. A few moments later, a corridor formed, about ten meters away from him, farther away than the ones that had formed roughly right over head before. He held up his rifle, prepared his aim and put his finger over the trigger.

"A Good Defence" (Part Three)
Jason — 3 Sep 1999, 8:03 PM

Realizing again, that he was completely alone and couldn't fight in the middle of an open clearing for long, he nonetheless made his decision to continue to fight to the last instead of yielding to the Spirits, despite their obvious anger. If he were to face his own end, what would this mean for him? Would he be condemned for all time? Despite the uncertainty of the fate of his soul, he was determined to stay alive, if not for his sake, then for the sake of the hands that he had hired. He was going to get them out of this. With that sense of determination, he steadied his aim then squeezed the trigger.

And nothing happened. He was jarred-- panic-stricken-- for an instant. 'What happened?' he thought. He pulled the trigger again rapidly, and again. Was it jammed? There was no sound from within. He was out of bullets.

He grabbed his rifle with both hands, prepared to use it as a hand-weapon. Then, he heard a growling... out came the creature, racing toward him.

As it came toward him, finally within range, he struck out at it with his weapon, firmly striking it down. His thrust had expended so much force from his own self that he had thrown himself from under his feet. Just as the creature struck the ground in front of him, he fell on his back. But it did not take long for the rasping, grasping creature to turn around and once again leap at Ransom.

His rifle thrown a good three meters away and with him still on his back, just barely propped up by his arms, Ransom saw the creature leap toward him quickly. Before he could do anything, before he could even react or lunge, the creature was struck by something. It fell, still alive, before barely managing to return to its fissure. It was strange, he thought, that the spirits should decide to come in to this world, only to find an atmosphere in which they could barely survive. The creatures had always acted as if the air was poison to them. Ironic, Ransom thought, that this should be the case given his own actions in this world-actions which were progressively poisoning himself.

As for the creature's sudden retreat-- he was almost certain it had been shot, but from where?

Ransom turned around. What had scared it off was a large looming presence on the horizon: it was the Equinox.

With no more fissures forming, the caravan returned, weapons blazing to fire at the vortexes forming around Rudy.

"Looks like they've taken enough damage," Doc Savage told him, once the caravan pulled up alongside him. "They've called off their attack... for now."

"A Good Defence" (Part Four)
Jason — 3 Sep 1999, 8:03 PM

Ransom looked around. The caravan had been damaged, and indeed part of it was still burning, from the Ankhari creature's attack.

Max was inside, being tended to. He was injured, but would likely recover.

"The good news is that we managed to obtain five more specimens. We should be able to re-fuel for the next few weeks." The Doctor said. "We may not need the summoning device."

"Marla," Rudy said. "Begin converting the oil into usable fuel."

Marla, bruised, nodded.

"This is almost becoming too easy," Doc Savage said.

Rudy was almost repulsed. He looked at the damage they had incurred... the injuries they had all sustained-the scars they had taken- both physically and within. The truth was that they had barely escaped with their lives after that attack.

"It's easy to justify the killing when you're the one under attack," Ransom said bitterly.

All the while fully aware that their luck might soon run out.