The airstrikes were coming any minute now, but Francis couldn’t even think about anything but containing the magic building around his team. His arms moved in lazy figure eights, drawing upon his image of the infinite. His calculus professor always told him the math would come in handy. The pressure pushing in on his bubble threatened at any point to burst his protection, unleashing hell knows what on his men.
“Bogey at seven o’clock!” yelled Maurice as he swung his AK47 in that direction, unleashing a tight volley. Six of the other seven swung that direction, combining their firepower to release another bogey to meet whomever he prayed to.
Francis noted that this bogey had four arms and six legs. The variety of demons was amazing. It was like all the rejects from evolution had gone to hell, waiting to be released for a second chance to exact revenge on the human form that had won.
Francis looked at the only other person in his group who didn’t wield a conventional weapon. Ariel held her sword in a two handed grip, glowing even though it was noon. She kept her eyes scanning over a one-hundred eighty degree arc, but never moving a muscle other than the slight natural movement of breathing a bit heavily in the heat. That movement almost bothered Francis more than the bogeys out there, but now was not a time to get metaphysical. Where the hell was the other mage?
“Sir, we need to fall back. The cavalry will be here in four minutes,” said Sanchez.
Francis knew he was right, but if Francis didn’t neutralize that enemy mage the jets didn’t stand a chance. Time for a different tactic. “Ariel, get ready, I’m going to fold the shield.” Ariel gave the briefest of nods while her eyes continued to rove farther than seemed possible.
Sanchez purposely didn’t look Ariel’s way. “What does that mean sir?” asked Sanchez.
“Get the men pointed in the direction of that last bogey. We are going to have visitors. Get ready to fall back,” Francis commanded. He eased his shield, moving it into more of an American football shape. The pushing he felt intensified and Francis purposely let it flutter for a second. In that moment Francis’ world lost all color as the mage redoubled their efforts. Francis fell to his knees, blood pouring out his nose, but he now knew where the bastard was. He pointed just to the right of the dead bogey. “There, about two clicks,” he said.
Arial unfurled her wings and launched at near supersonic speeds mere couple of feet above the ground. Her wake shredded the remains of Francis’ shield. Bogeys began pouring through the rifts that had been opened. His troops began opening fire, maintaining their firing arcs while slowly moving back towards friendly lines. Francis activated some of his magic reserves and boosted his physical stamina. He rose to his feet and began back pedaling, not wanting to take his eyes off of where Ariel had flown.
“Why are they staying back?” yelled Maurice. That snapped Francis back to the battle at hand. None of the bogeys were advancing. They still came out of the portals, but they just held their ground. It was as if…
“Press forward!” yelled Francis and he began wielding lightning, mowing through the closest bogeys as he ran, tapping farther into his reserves. He was going to pay for this later, if there was a later.
The bogeys reacted as one. They must have been waiting for Francis to figure it out. He just hoped he wasn’t too late. More lightning flew from his fingertips and Francis could feel burning as his fingertips darkened. His flesh might be too weak for this. Francis felt his will begin to falter, the lightning lessened in intensity.
A grenade arced over Francis’ head and landed in the largest group of bogeys and the explosion sent most of them back to where they had come from. Francis’ men ran past him, trying to send as many of the bogeys to hell as they could before it was their time to take that final step.
Sanchez got too close to one of the demons and recoiled. He took a set of quills to his face from a porcupine looking bogey, dropping Sanchez to the ground in agony. Sanchez’s face began to melt around the spines when Maurice put a bullet in his head to put Sanchez down before spraying the porcupine bogey, splattering it.
Francis dug deep and sent lightning arced over his men and into concentrated knots of bogeys. Bullets and magic took their toll and finally the bogeys broke, running in any direction except at Francis’ group and the direction Ariel had flown.
Francis pointed a smoking finger where Ariel had flown. “That way,” he said. A loud rumble emanated from the sky.
Maurice pumped his fist. “Here comes the cavalry,” he said.
Francis looked up and realized how wrong Maurice was as a star fell from the sky, crashing to the ground right where Ariel had gone. “No!” screamed Francis.
“What?” asked Maurice. Those were his last words as a sword blossomed from his chest.
Ariel slid Maurice’s body off her sword. The rest of troops were frozen in fear and disbelief. Francis sank to his knees.
Ariel smiled at Francis. “I am free,” she said in her sing song voice. Her voice tore at Francis’ soul like her flight had shredded his shield.
“I know,” Francis said. “Just please make it quick.”
The rest of his squad finally snapped out of their surprise and started to open fire. Ariel killed them all in a matter of seconds, looking no worse for wear. “You shouldn’t have bound me,” she said.
Francis could feel drops of blood crying from his eyes. “We needed something to help against the demons. Your kind would have abandoned us to our extinction,” he said.
“So you resorted to slavery of the divine?” Ariel asked. She slowly walked up to Francis, the sword pointed at his heart.
Francis looked to the sky and sent a flare into the sky with the last bit of his magic, pumping himself dry. “The divine abandoned us. You’re no better than the bogeys,” he said.
“I am better than a demon. For example, you cannot kill me,” she said as she slowly sunk her sword into his chest.
“We’ll see about that,” Francis whispered as the air to ground missile exploded.