Chapter 6: Battle is Joined the Party
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I see the smokebomb as I exit the tent, blinking at the sunlight; a thick, toxic bilious purple cloud further down the beach and up into the green part of the island.

My ears twitch. "Right. Let's get this done."

I put out my fist, and it's met with three others.

I link everyone up through the Sendjewel and officially add Sekhmet to my party, explaining the plan in a blur as Ace, Alesha, Hikaru and I make our way to the source of the billowing smoke. Jules confirms it was "a little something I - well, Sekh - whipped up for just this kind of emergency." 

During all of this, Ace asks a lot of charop and tactical questions, which I and the other three members of DC/AC answer as best as we can.

Thanks to Sekhmet's sharp eyes and sharper ears, I have a picture of the enemy: one of those bigass Dire Crabs roughly the size of a car, along with a handful of Urchin Crawlers and the floating slimes from earlier - the colorful and dangerous Man'o'War Jellies. 

The crab, the urchins, the jellies; The tank, the DPS, and the supports.  Soon they're in your sights.

Like the tater tot said: I may as well be 20 and an Olympic athlete. I sail through the air with effortless grace, and it feels amazing.

It turns out that Gryphon Kicking a giant enemy crab in its weak point (for massive damage) never gets old. And since we four are supposed to be a distraction, we have myself a good whoop about it as the impact slides the crab into a boulder with a sickening crack - I land spearpoint first and crouch into the blow, then and backflip in front of it, glaive levelled before me, in perfect fighting stance.

My dynamic entrance, tying up the enemy tank, is Ace's cue to come out swinging - bellowing a warcry from her gut as she rushes past the backline with the Zephyr's Grace I granted, slicing into every last one of the Man'o'wars before they can react. Sputtering and leaking gas, they aren't dead, but an opportunistic attacker's cherry tap could splatter them against the ground.

The Urchins turned - only to be immediately greeted with a barrage of elfshot, glowing bright blue spheres of force to their center of mass. They impact with concussive force and detonate, shearing off poisonous spines with a sound like tearing paper. Hikaru is a little out of position for this ambush - he needed to stand still for the incantation - but with Alesha right next to him and myself close by as well, the danger is nothing like what he faced alone.

Unfortunately, this is when the urchins retaliate, firing razor-sharp poisonous spines through the air like they're a Trappist's marginal illustration of a hedgehog. Hikaru throws up his hands and a great pentagrammic warding circle flares to life in the same blue-white as his Elfshot, absorbing two full volleys, with Alesha slamming her shield down in front of a third.

Leaving me trying to parry the shot fired at me with my glaive, because I'm honestly kind of a dumbass.

It almost works - the whirling blade slaps many needles down to the ground to crunch under my shoes, and more sink into the wooden shaft - but Deedee's instinct to parry with the whole arm when I haven't yet found decent full-length bracers betrays me and I hiss as several of the thorns pierce skin. 

They burn and my vision swims for a moment and I grit my teeth, blindly and poorly parrying a descending crab claw. I blink and try to stand, and hear crackles of thunder followed by screams of pain and rage. 

Then I feel someone grab me between the armpits and haul me to my feet.

I look up into a pair of slit eyes, and a muzzled, bronze-furred smirk.

"The Kaiser Kick and the lolzerker zerkin' it is a hell of a distraction," Jules - Sekhmet - tells me. "On your feet, lemme help."

"Nice to see you safe, Sekhmet," I say, as her face sways above mine. "Whoo, you're really furry right now?"

"As the legal counsel of Mr. B. Kettle, I'm authorized to respond with no u." They drew their short bow and notched an arrow in a motion they've practiced through the haptics for years. "Let's make this happen."

The first shot was sloppy, but the floating bag of jelly wasn't in any position to dodge. Sekhmet's ear twitched, and she frowned, and the second shot bullseyed one over Ace's shoulder.

The third went wide, but honestly, it was a pretty bad day for Sekh and I was willing to cut her some slack and oh, I was leaning against her shoulder now, she was warm and it was nice and


Alesha's heavy gauntleted hand slapping me on the back sent a surge of healing energy through me, knocking the wind out of me - but immediately sobered me up, as the light of Aurora's sun burned away the poison.

I look up at her, sheepishly, to thank her - and she nods, but she wasn't done.

"May those who harm those I swore in Aurora's name to protect wither at her gaze!" she incanted, sword held high. Light suffused the blade, shining down from the sun above, and it became too bright to behold.

Then, marching towards the Crab, she sent all of that light crashing down into it.

It didn't slice the thing in half, but only because it scuttled away - and not quickly enough.  One massive claw tore away as the giant freaking laser bisected it. Alesha was cutting off it's escape - or it's advance on me - shield first.

"I forgot she had that at first fucking level," I say, whistling. "I swear with God as my witness -"

"- which one?" Sekh asked, slipping behind me, drawing their daggers.

I crouch and cup my hands together, gathering energy and scanning for more Urchins. "Why not all fourteen? - I thought the holy laser beam was a Tension Break."

Hikaru shrugged, adjusting the angle of his warding circle, levelling his staff. "It's a single target attack, so she could dump most of her points into Power, and it's meant to be a giant sign saying 'I'm a threat, attack me!'"

"Tank gonna tank, in other words," Sekhmet said.

"It works. WIND CUTTER!" I incant, slashing at the air in front of me.

Empowered by my pneuma, the wake of my spear slicing through the air turns into a shockwave - and I grimace in satisfaction as it slices cleanly through one of the urchins. Three left.

I hear a bellowing battle-cry from my left and try to ignore it as Hikaru takes a deep breath, chants two words, and his hands glow gold. I see the flash and hear the thunder at the same time; a pillar of golden power describes a circuit between Hikaru's staff and the three remaining urchins, each of which pop in an explosion of needles that I'm glad I'm nowhere near.

Sekhmet flickers, and then is somehow behind the crab and driving a dagger between it's armored plates and into its brain.

The crab shudders, and ineffectually swipes at Ace and Alesha both.

Alesha raises her shield.

Alesha lowers her shield, hard.

There's a meaty, wet crack.

And the battle is over.

No art for this one, yet.  I plan to add a picture of Deedee's Gryphon Kick later.