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Chapter 58 - Mission Complete

 Chapter 58 - Mission Complete

As Cloudhawk floundered beneath the tunnel tendrils of steam surrounded him. The cold made him shiver terribly.

Frost de Winter's attacks were too overwhelming. He didn't even need to strike his target, for the burst of frigid energy snowsong spewed was enough to give a normal person frostbite. Thankfully Cloudhawk's body was more resilient, but it still felt like every cell in his body was numb. He could hardly move.

The wave of cold was incredible. Well, it wasn't quite accurate to call it a wave of cold.

Snowsong didn't expel physical cold, but an energy field that reduced the temperature in an area. Anything caught in the field naturally froze from the sudden drop, not from anything Frost's relic produced.

Whatever was unfortunate enough to be in the field felt the effect both externally and internally. Clothes made no difference no matter how thick, and in only seconds the victim's muscles lost all strength and their organs stopped working. Snowsong was deadly long before it struck its target.

Even with the mystical stone Cloudhawk was still in dire straits. There were limits to its area of effect. The phase stone made everything permeable, but only to a certain extend. In his experience the denser and thicker the environment, the more difficult it was for Cloudhawk to pass through it. Outside energy followed the same principles.

When Frost's attack landed its energy field spread scattered, at least relieving him of that threat. Still, even using the stone to avoid a direct hit from the spear, he wasn't out of danger yet. Cloudhawk was strong enough to deal with a typical demonhunter maybe, but it was still too early to have any hope of surviving a fight against Frost.

He felt his blood burn through his veins and a cold sweat sprouted from his pores. The cold that had invaded him was starting to get pushed out. Slowly he felt his normal dexterity return after about twenty seconds.

We're not finished. This bastard has repeatedly tried to put me in the dirt. I can't take him on yet, but that won't stop me from fuckin' with him!

Cloudhawk picked a spot then used his stone to climb back up the levels. He used his invisibility cloak to make sure he stayed hidden.

Frost de Winter and the demonhunters were talking.

They were discussing their options. Cloudhawk's phasing abilities made him particularly hard to kill, so it was a waste of time to try and pin him down. It was better to continue the hunt for fugitives in order to complete their mission, and perhaps lure Cloudhawk out of hiding at the same time.

Hiding near the back of Frost's group he quietly seethed at their plan. There was nothing this black hearted bastard wouldn't do.

He stepped forward. Suddenly another figure appeared among the soldiers.

The two soldiers furthest back weren't paying much attention when suddenly their heads were smashed ruthlessly together. They crumbled, unconscious. Other nearby soldiers gasped in surprise but before they could react Cloudhawk whipped his legs around in a series of powerful kicks. Two more soldiers went flying through the air and into their compatriots.

He charged forward like a bull, making quick work of another three or four soldiers. The narrow confines of the tunnels erased their numbers advantage, and with Cloudhawk's sudden and ferocious attack chaos quickly followed.

One the demonhunters cried out. "Grab him! Don't let him escape!"

But Frost de Winter and the demonhunters were at the head of the column. When they realized an attack was coming from the rear there was nothing they could do. Meanwhile Cloudhawk grabbed one of the soldiers and flung him over the crowd like a sack of potatoes. He crashed into the center of the column and knocked another group of fighters to the ground.

But soldiers were also starting to react, pouncing at him from all sides. Soon he was surrounded.

Cloudhawk's appearance was so sudden the soldiers didn't have time to draw their weapons. They piled on him with punches and kicks, calling for the others to come. More and more people piled together until a dozen bodies were crushed together with more added every second. It was like they were trying to crush him to death.

The turmoil caused Frost to lose his temper. "Morons! You're all worthless, get out of the way!"

The soldiers, a mass of flailing arms and legs, eventually managed to untangle themselves. In the center of the dogpile they discovered that Cloudhawk was gone, leaving only several of their own mostly suffocated. As they gasped for breath Cloudhawk stepped through the right wall of the tunnel, beat the lights out of a few more soldiers, then slipped through the left wall.

Only a few of Frost's men had been seriously injured, but Cloudhawk's rapid sneak attacks had turned his crew into a mess of confusion. He had no option but to spread his demonhunters out; three in the middle, and one on each end of the column. Anywhere Cloudhawk chose to strike he'd have to deal with at least one of them.

By now the convicts were long gone. Frost de Winter had no way of knowing where they'd gone. With his attention on Cloudhawk there was no way forward.

In fact Frost's defensive posture came too late. As useful as the phasing stone was it demanded a lot of energy. Cloudhawk stood in a tunnel a short distance away, one hand on the wall and the other on his hip, taking deep gulps of air. Sweat was dropping off of him.

No good... I'm still not strong enough!

These guerilla tactics couldn't continue, but as Cloudhawk tried to decide on his next move a sensation tickled his mind. It was Oddball, trying to communicate from nearby. His face immediately lit up. On time after all.

He found the right spot and wrapped his hand around the phase stone. Using the last of his strength he pushed his psychic energy through the stone, and slipped through the wall. No sooner did he pass to the other side than his legs gave way, and he collapsed onto someone. They both tumbled to the ground.

A sweet smell filled Cloudhawk's nostrils. His left hand rested on something both soft and supple. His heart nearly stopped when he looked down and saw the beautiful pale face of the woman he was lying on.

"Having fun groping my ass?"

Cloudhawk was mortified to discover that his arm was wrapped around Dawn's waist, and his hand just so happened to grab the most convenient spot to try and steady himself. That would explain the soft and supple feeling. He awkwardly retracted his hand and opened his mouth to speak, when suddenly his world began to spin. He hit the wall with bone-jarring force.

"Alright, you perv!" Dawn stood over him, glaring daggers. "You think you can take advantage of a lady like me? I may be a heavenly beauty but I'm no floozy! You're getting off easy if I don't castrate you!"

Bullshit! Where did all your strength disappear to? You fell on purpose, you're looking for an excuse to beat me up!

Dawn and her team had captured more than a hundred prisoners, most of them Rasputin's men. The members of Bloomnettle Company had also joined them. Oddball fluttered over from down the tunnel, coming to rest on his master's shoulder. It was all thanks to this little guy.

Oddball's pricelessness was more obvious every minute.

While leading Lily and the others to safety Cloudhawk had Oddball keep an eye on their path. The news that Frost was coming gave him enough time to find a narrow hallway, robbing Frost's advantage. If it weren't for those precious minutes they would have been sitting ducks. While he was preparing to fend Frost's men off, he then sent Oddball out to look for Dawn.

Dawn Polaris' punctual arrival was also thanks to the bird, since he led her this way. Oddball was more than helpful, it was smart enough to do all sorts of complicated tasks. Cloudhawk's companion was definitely going to be a huge help in the days and fights to come.

The sound of marching footsteps rang through the tunnel.

The sound brought a broad grin to Dawn's face. She drew Terrangelica and thrust it into the ground. Planting her feet, with both hands on the relic's pommel, she filled the area with a vigorous regality.

Frost de Winter and his men appeared down the corridor, coming their way. When he saw who was waiting for them he had to rethink his approach.

"I didn't think we'd meet again so soon." She stood still as a statue, but did not use her powers. "Our last contest wasn't very satisfying. You wanna go again?"

Frost was no fool. If they were above ground he'd be happy to injure her pride, but down here Terrangelica was more dangerous than ever. So much as a vibration could bring the whole tunnel down on his head. Frost and his men were outplayed.

"You can't protect him forever."

"Maybe I can."

The look Frost leveled at Cloudhawk was so full of malice it was almost cutting. He then turned his eyes back to Dawn, who stared back without a care. The slightest bit of power crackled through his hand into snowsong.

Terrangelica began to shiver.

Frost felt a wave of stifling power sweep through him, ready to explode at any moment. The ground shook slightly below his feet and a crack loudly started to grow through the ceiling overhead.

"Withdraw!" Frost swallowed his rage and wounded pride. They retreated back the way they'd come.

Dawn muttered something about cowards before pulling Terrangelica from the ground, slipping it back into its sheath. She strode over to Cloudhawk, grabbed a fist full of clothing, and yanked him to his feet. She brushed the dust off his shoulder then wrapped her arm around him in an affectionate headlock. "Not bad!" She said through her chuckles. "Not bad, I knew I picked the right guy. With this many convicts I'm definitely in the lead. I'll make sure you're rewarded."

Thirty seconds ago this she-devil smashed him into a wall and threatened to cut his balls off. Now she was all friendship and sunshine. Cloudhawk wasn't the only one who looked at her like she was insane.

Dawn definitely earned her 'moody' reputation.

""Alright, let's call it a day. Time to go home!"

Overall the mission was completed without a hitch. Lily and the others were safe, and Frost de Winter was sufficiently embarrassed. Any way you look at it they did good. Dawn also grabbed a bunch of convicts, enough to win this little contest and satiate her bloodlust.

Whether or not Majjhima and his people would survive down here would be up to luck. Cloudhawk hoped they could keep out of Atlas' or Frost's crosshairs.