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The Arcanus glided over the ground with a fluid grace, the effort of floating several feet above creating the marvelous sensation of being held aloft by razor sharp wire. She could feel the biting pain slicing into her arms and abdomen and delighted in even this simple show of power. She slowed as she approached the Snub Tank and set down gently next to the fallen corpse of the last external Gunnar-Grim defender. She made a sharp gesture, claw outstretched, and the explosive charge he had been wielding leapt from the ground and audibly smacked into her open palm. Another shock screamed up her arm. As she contemplated the unimpressive little package, two frontline Acolytes appeared at the edge of a nearby dust cloud and approached her in haste.
"Arcanus Basma," the shorter one addressed her, "the Heru Cruisers cannot pierce the Dwarven fortification. Combining fire gets us through the outer force field but there isn't enough focused power left to breach the wall."
"I see," the sorceress replied calmly, "and what of the main cannon on the mobile base?"
"The focusing matrix has been disabled, Arcanus. Some sort of feedback from the opening salvo. The engineers report no less than sixteen hours until it's up and running again. Even then..." The Acolyte gave a shrug and glanced over at the slow moving behemoth that served as current Ketir HQ on Eir. Basma nodded as she turned to eye the death wall herself. Funny, it didn't look like much, she thought.
"Arcanus!" the tall one exclaimed in surprise and dismay as he half reached for her. "Your hand!"
Basma stared at him for a second and then glanced down at her ruined fingers, still clutching painfully at the Dwarven charge. She looked back up and deep into his eyes, stepping forward into him. The younger jackal stood his ground only barely. Calmly, she reached up with her good hand and laid it alongside his jaw, stroking the fur there gently. Then, in one swift, violent motion, she wrapped her claw around his lower muzzle and yanked sharply downward. The jaw snapped with an ugly sound nearly drowned out by the newest volley of Heru shots. She didn't even notice the young Ketir's teeth tearing into her few good remaining fingers. He yelped and crumpled into a heap at her feet. "That will teach you to wag your fool tongue in front of your betters." Turning to the shorter one, who was presently doing his damnedest to pretend like nothing untoward had just occurred, the sorceress pushed the explosive charge into his hands. His eyes widened ever so slightly. "Now, take this and gather ten Acolytes with previous channeling experience. We're going to crack this nut the old fashioned way." He nodded quickly and sprinted away without a backward glance.
Arcanus Basma grinned down at the subordinate lying prostrate beneath her. "I need my full strength for this. If you survive, I hope you will have learned your lesson well." The whimpering Acolyte's eyes grew round with terror as the Arcanus laid her ruined hand on his. "Hold this for me," she whispered as the magikal connection took hold. With a sickening staccato of snapping bones, her pain and wounds transferred to his body. In a moment, her ruined hand was as good as new and the lacerations around her arms and stomach vanished. In that same moment, identical wounds violently ravaged the young Ketir and he choked out a garbled scream before lapsing into unconsciousness. She knew she'd have to take the wounds back within the hour or the spell's backlash would visit many times the damage back to her. But for now, she felt energized and refreshed.
The sorceress grinned freely, stood and began picking her way across the battlefield toward her awaiting ritualists.
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