This is the conclusion to the story, in typical horror movie fashion.
Starting tomorrow, I'm hoping to put up one Blood and Bone chapter every day, for the duration of November. We'll see how that works.
â€œYou stole it! I can't hear it anymore. It's all gone. All your fault. Nothing is right. How could you do this how did you do this I don't understand you have to die for this!â€ The thing that had once been Kaltos was babbling incessently, as it slung itself back into the ship. It hooked Gallen in a long, prehensile claw, throwing him hard against the shuttle's inner wall. The impact knocked Gallen's breath out of him, and he slumped to the deck, trying to gather his wits and focus.
â€œThe whispers are gone, they won't call to me, there's nothing left, what did you do what did you do?â€ The creature glared down at Gallen out of its seven crimson eyes, blinking furiously. Gallen took a deep breath. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the ship slowly approaching. Too slowly, much too slowly â€“ the thing must have damaged the engines. But there was a chance. The shuttle's shields were too weak to stop Kaltos's entry, but the Grace of Ledaal had far more powerful shielding, designed specifically to resist such incursions. In another minute, if he could last that long, it would be over.
The creature saw his almost-imperceptable glance. â€œThey won't help, can't help, living things need to die everything needs to die you stole my soul!â€ The last phrase was roared, as the monster crossed the space between them. Lifting Gallen effortlessly, it threw him overhand towards the opposite side of the shuttle. As he crashed to the ground, Gallen saw the cockpit door hissing open and tried to shake his head. Irina couldn't come out. She wouldn't stand a chance.
He struggled to his feet, almost blacking out at the burning pain in his left leg, where the creature had grabbed him outside. â€œIt's over, Kaltos. You aren't a deathknight. You're just another twisted mutant of the Wyld.â€ He forced a smile onto his face. â€œYour soul left to reach its final punishment. All that's left is a shell filled with chaos.â€
â€œA shell is enough for you!â€ The thing rose to Gallen's baiting. It stepped forwards again, roaring in his face, sending tiny flecks of acid spattering around him. Gallen felt it stinging his skin, but he couldn't afford to react. â€œEveryone dies, Aldarus! I remember that!â€
â€œOf course you do. You can't think for yourself anymore.â€ Gallen took a deep breath. Any second now. The shields were creeping upwards. He could see the tiny figures of Croft and Ryland waving franctically, backlit by red lights flashing. They were almost close enough.
Red lights flashing. Non-stop. Less than thirty seconds until self-destruct.
Gallen's eyes widened abruptly as he realized what was happening. The shuttle's power was almost offline from Kaltos's attack. It should have been back in the hangar over a minute ago. It wasn't. His breath caught in his throat.
Ryland clearly saw that something was wrong. He said something to Croft, tensed. Started to run towards the edge of the hangar. Croft hesistated, followed a moment behind.
A moment too late. The explosions started to rip through Ledaal's Grace, flares of pure Essence shattering jade and steel like paper. Croft wasn't fast enough. A lance of light slashed through his chest, and his last expression was one of shock.
Ryland was faster. Even as the shockwave from the explosion buffeted the shuttle, he rode the space between ships, his limbs twisting and shifting from Wyld exposure as he dove through the shuttle's open hatch. He landed on the deck, his hands elogated and his skin covered in tiny scales, but safe. He looked up with a grin of relief at his salvation.
Kaltos's fist caught him in the chest. The thing roared again. â€œEveryone dies!â€ One hand crushed Ryland's head like a melon as the other dug into his chest. The thing turned back to Gallen, reaching forwards. â€œAnd you. You!â€ Tendrils struck out, swung Gallen around to crack into the wall and fall on top of Ryland's corpse. He felt something give in his head, and his eyes unfocused. Vaguely, he felt the creature pick him up and slam him down again. â€œDeath! And then this ship! You took my purpose!â€
â€œNo!â€ Another shape charged forwards, from the cockpit. Gallen tried to cry out a warning, as Indira took her small knife and drove it as hard as she could into a gap between chitinous plate and reptilian scale. The thing roared again, three limbs lashing out to catch Indira and throw her into a far wall. She collapsed to the ground, and it returned its attention to Gallen.
It is an abomination. Gallen hated that thing with all of his being. He felt his face impact with the floor, saw the growing pool of blood beneath him. Ryland's blood. Indira's blood. All of them gone. Everyone dead. It has to die for this. The thing would kill him next. And then it would survive, after everything, alone. It had to die. No one else could kill it. All that matters is that it dies. Everything else is secondary.
Blind fingers reached down, felt the hilt of Ryland's sword. He always carried it with him. Fingers clenched around it with punishing force, ignoring broken bones and shattered veins. Pain faded into purpose as the thing lifted him again, and he struck. The blade buried itself deep in the tattered remains of what must once have been human.
As the thing that had been Kaltos roared in pain, Gallen pulled out the sword and struck again. It was howling now, trying to retreat, but he stabbed at it again and again, all of his focus into a single task. It deserves death. Its fate is to die, as we died. It has to die now. He stabbed again and again, as its howls turned to whimpers, and then to silence, as its thrashings became twitches, and then fell still. He stabbed it until the deck was awash with tainted blood, staining his arms and mixing with his own until he couldn't tell which belonged to whom anymore. And then he stopped, panting heavily, collapsing across the thing he had destroyed.
For a few moments, the shuttle was still. Then, with a heavy groan, Galas Indira opened her eyes. She coughed, looked down at the flecks of blood, and winced heavily at the feel of cracked ribs. As she carefully stood, a spike of pain in her head warned her that she might have a concussion as well.
She looked across the room. For a moment, she thought she was the only one left, and her heart caught in her throat. Ryland could not be alive, and there wasn't enough left of Kaltos to see that he had ever been. Gallen was slumped across him like one dead, covered head to toe in blood. And then he coughed, and he pushed himself up to his knees.
Indira's voice was soft, worried. â€œAldarus?â€
His face turned towards her, blood-stained and hopeless. A black brand burned on his forehead, and his eyes were crimson. When he spoke, it was with the echo of the Void.