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In which things get, as I put so eloquently, 'blown to hell'.
We were talking in the theory chat about how you should never call things before they happen. Example: "There's no way this could possibly go wrong!"

AS WE FALL. Part I, Chapter III.

Of failures and many mistakes.

[ The eastern side of Serrit's portion of the Ladrin'Nai. September 8th, 142. ]


Pakratt, startled, whips himself around and decks the person behind him in the face with all his strength. His fist makes a solid ‘crack’ sound and he realizes that he still has his glove on, on the hand that he hadn’t broken to pieces in the fight with the rekk’ji, and since it’s an armored glove, he realizes that he may have hurt someone’s face. Then he realizes, in a moment of delayed reaction, that he is still very injured and collapses to the floor next to the person he just punched, his hand now in strange sharp pain as well.


BTC gives a loud shout of laughter after a moment of stunned silence from Nebris and him, while Nebris snickers and moves to help Pak, who is bleeding now from his hand- apparently he punched something sharp, at least along the side. When the latter can sit up again, he glances over the person suffering on the floor across from him.


A dark gray, half iron and half leather, armor uniform covers a red shirt and dark gray pants, all with black and silver accents, and all of that covers long limbs. There’s a pair of iron boots, looking very well taken care of, which shimmer with enchantment. Then at the head, which Pak is now very well acquainted with, black hair spills out messily from under a dark red helmet, parted around goggles with mirrored green glass and metal frames, which Pak presumes he cut his hand on. The man’s nose is bleeding, maybe broken, but he doesn’t seem too upset, as he is grinning broadly while BTC laughs at him in a near-derisive manner.


“Hi,” Says the guy again, his voice sounding kind of nasally as he holds his hand to his nose. “As I was saying, I’m Vechs.” His voice is accented, perhaps Arenic in origin, but he doesn’t have any notable Arenic features (in fact, the only green on his entire outfit is the goggles, and his hair is plenty darker than most Arens).


“The resident TNT expert, I presume?” Pakratt raises an eyebrow, accepting bandages as Nebris hands them over and idly wrapping his hand. (The pain was already disappearing, which was due in part to the healing potions he still had in his system.)


“Yep!” He chirps, in the same moment that BTC says “Expert is going a little far.” Vechs makes a pouty face and then stands, holding a small device.


“I’ve got it all rigged up- well, I think- and it’s all tied to this thing here, so-,” And then, shrugging, he tosses it at BTC.


Nebris all but shrieks and darts in front of BTC, reaching out and scrabbling with the remote in midair, as it bounces off of his fingers several times. Pak moves forward, as BTC growls and moves back. Nebris manages to catch it, but then all three glare at Vechs, who smiles, full of innocence.


“Throw the detonator at the guy with no eyes, why, Vechs?!” Nebris’s voice is higher than Pak had heard it before, and it is almost funny, except that it could have ended with all of their corpses for a joke. BTC doesn’t seem to be bothered, though, even though it’s pretty obvious he can see (if he is a Farlander, as Pak suspects, then it would be his depth perception that would be off, not his actual vision).


Vechs just shrugs, fixing his helmet on his head and wiping away the last of the blood from his face, looking curiously at it, then to Pak’s hand. “We do need to hurry, though, if we’re ever going to catch up with- him.” There’s a cut to his voice before he says ‘him’, as if the man was about to say a name, but then decided against it.


BTC’s mouth twists. “As much as I hate to say it, Vechs is right. He’s probably travelling alone, and has several months ahead of us, even if he is stopping for long times.” Turning to Pakratt, the masked man smiles tightly. “You’re lucky you got here when you did, or nobody would be able to help you when that rekk’ji attacked. What was that all about, anyway?”


Ah, right. He hadn’t said anything. “Joked about the dead.” Pak admits reluctantly, and he’s met with only Nebris’s horrified stare: Vechs looks amused, and BTC unreadable.


“Do you have a death wish?” Nebris demands, and Pak looks pointedly at his bandages. “Okay, bad question.” The purple-eyed man amends, and vanishes into shadow for a moment. Pak startles, but it isn’t totally unexpected, and Nebris reappears behind Vechs a heartbeat later. He starts to shove against the taller man. “Now, out. Let’s blow this place up.”


And as they head up to the pre-dawn surface, Pakratt reflects that he has little choice but to trust these people. The shifting sands of the Ladrin’Nai are still hostile towards him, but between BTC and Nebris- the latter is (as had become obvious by his trick not a minute earlier) a shadow spirit: untouchable to the king of the dead, and the former has some sort of aura about him- Pak is nigh invincible.


That reminds him. Glancing over at Vechs, he realizes that the other had no fear of the sands, nor of joking. His comments drifted into silent air, as the four trek to a safe point from which to watch the explosion (north, towards the mainland of Serrit), and there is no howling of rekk’ji, or chattering of husks inclined to destroy him. He would ask what species Vechs is- near-human being a distinct possibility, or perhaps a shapeshifter or spirit with human form- but, like with himself, it was a touchy subject to some people.


Vechs declares them far enough after reaching some sort of marker. BTC asks him if he’s sure, and Vechs nods decisively, and that’s the end of that. Pak is less sure, however, than the teammates who seem to trust Vechs implicitly, because all around them is sand, save for where he knows is that underground fortress, and TNT has a property to fling itself all over the place, blowing up anything in the vicinity. Nebris, who is holding the detonator, seems to not have any such doubts, and slams his hand on the button, a little more forcefully than strictly necessary.


The ensuing light show is fairly pretty.


The explosions come from far below their feet, starting as an anti-climactic deep rumble of many grains of sand and chunks of sandstone being suddenly shaken loose. Just as Pakratt is about to say, drily, how anti-climactic that was, the first spray of sand shoots from the ground. There’s a final rumble before it the ground explodes in front of them, far enough away that they don’t even get grazed with the sand. Fire, smoke, and short-lived fountains of sand are spit from the fortress. It lasts for all of three minutes, and Pak, Nebris, and BTC are quite satisfied with it, but Vechs stares as if he is waiting.


“What?” Snaps BTC as that goes on for a minute.


“There was supposed to be another part to that,” Vechs says, concentrating on the area of the explosion. “Uhh, I think the west wing is still there, at least in part.”

BTC swears impressively as Vechs continues to stare. “So,” He demands, dragging Vechs’s attention to him. “You’re saying that there’s volatile TNT in a not-fully-destroyed base, and it’s your wing which isn’t destroyed?”


Vechs has the decency to look sheepish. “Yeah, yeah a little bit.”

Nebris, for once, does not look too concerned. As BTC continues his rage, Nebris puts a hand on the man’s shoulder. “The sands will fill it back in later,” He points out, and then adds: “And it’ll look like a sinkhole; no one will approach it.”


BTC sighs and lets himself be reassured. “Fine. But next time, I’m laying the TNT.”


And with that they continue on towards Serrit, the sun rising to their right and casting long shadows over the scattered sands of the fortress.

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