Marina has the turret lined up on the crowd of Mogs.
‘Ready?’ she whispers to me.
‘Light ’em up.’
Marina’s invisible hands squeeze down the turret’s triggers. The gun roars to life with such force that I’m nearly knocked off the back. I manage to cling to Marina so that she doesn’t turn visible. The closest group of Mogs don’t even have a chance to turn around as glowing columns of sizzling blaster fire pummel their backs, turning them immediately to ash.
As soon as Marina opens fire, Dust comes screeching down from the sky. Now in the shape of a gray-winged falcon, the Chimæra rakes its talons across the face of one of the warriors holding Adam.
The Mogs shout and scatter. They’re totally confused – it must look like their turret has been possessed by a ghost. Phiri Dun-Ra has the presence of mind to squeeze off some blaster fire that deflects off the turret’s windshield, but then she ducks for cover. Marina continues to strafe them, although she’s careful to avoid the area around Adam.
With Dust taking down one of the warriors, Adam elbows his second captor in the stomach. When he doubles over, Adam shoves him backwards, right into the invisible border around the Sanctuary. With a flare of cold, blue energy, the shield surrounding the temple reveals itself – it’s like a giant electrical web stretched into the shape of a dome. The Mog flares up like the tip of a matchstick when he hits the force field. His body leaves a coating of ash that seems to float in the air once the shield disappears again, until a gentle gust of wind blows it away.
Freed from his captors, Adam throws himself on to his stomach. Right away, Marina swings the turret around to take out the Mogs cluttered around him. A few of them, including Phiri Dun-Ra, have made it to the cover of one of the parked ships. Even though they can’t see us, they return fire on the turret. Our gun soon begins to belch smoke and rattle dangerously.
‘It’s overheating!’ I yell. ‘Jump!’
Marina and I dive in opposite directions as the turret explodes in a cloud of acrid black smoke. We’re visible and without any cover to speak of.
Before the surviving Mogs can take aim, Adam pounds his fist against the ground. A tremor ripples in their direction and knocks the Mogs off their feet. I use the distraction to roll beneath one of the other ships, already channeling my Legacy to call down a storm.
The sky darkens and it begins to rain. Out here in the jungle, it’s a cinch to call up this kind of weather, but I’m still a few seconds away from channeling lightning and I’m not sure I’ll be quick enough. Phiri and her troops are already drawing a bead on me, their blaster fire scoring the wet dirt in front of my position.
That’s when a fist-sized hailstone strikes Phiri right in her bald head. She falls back, shielding herself.
I notice Marina hiding behind a stack of crates. She’s focusing intently on the raindrops, turning them to ice around the Mogs and knocking them senseless with hail. I feel the storm above reach a boiling point and let loose with a jagged stripe of lightning. Phiri manages to dive aside at the last second, but her last two warriors are electrocuted into dust.
And then, to my surprise, Phiri Dun-Ra runs. Without even a look over her shoulder, the Mog trueborn bolts into the nearby jungle.
Adam leaps to his feet. Both his lips are split open where Phiri clubbed him, blood trickling down his chin. Otherwise, he looks unharmed and alert. He starts to run after Phiri, his feet sliding through the reddish-brown mud my storm has created. Phiri is out of sight before Adam can get very far. He pulls up short a few yards away from me.
‘Let her go,’ I tell him, willing the storm I whipped up to taper off.
‘Shouldn’t we go after her?’ Adam asks, spitting blood into the dirt. His eyes scan the nearby ruins and tree line, and I can tell he’d like a fair fight against the other trueborn. Dust, back in wolf form, lopes over and sits down next to Adam, lapping gently at his hand. He glances back to me. ‘Thanks for the save, by the way.’
‘Yeah, I figured since the whole distraction thing was my call, I kinda owed it to you to not let you get slaughtered.’
‘Glad you saw it that way,’ Adam replies, then looks back towards the ruins around the Sanctuary. ‘We should catch her. She’s dangerous.’
‘Forget about Phiri what’s-her-face,’ I say, turning away from the jungle and gazing up at the waiting temple.
‘We’ve got more important things to do than chase down one Mog,’ Marina puts in as she walks over to join us. ‘No matter how nasty she might be.’
I nod in agreement. ‘She’s alone out there. Maybe something will eat her. We’ll leave Dust back here to keep watch over the ships, in case she tries to double back.’
Adam continues to stare into the jungle. After a moment, he finally nods his head. ‘Fine. I’ll keep an eye on things while you guys go inside.’
I exchange an inquiring look with Marina to make sure she doesn’t have any misgivings with what I’m about to say. She shrugs her shoulders in response, then starts towards our ship to begin the unloading. I cock my head at Adam.
‘You don’t even want to try coming in with us?’ I ask.
Adam stares at me. ‘Are you joking? Did you see what contact with that field did to Phiri Dun-Ra?’
‘I’ll heal you if that happens,’ Marina offers over her shoulder.
‘I don’t understand,’ Adam says. He turns to look up at the temple, his hands on his hips. He looks nervous. ‘Why would you even want me to go in there? It’s a Loric place.’