Chapter 7: Matthias
Antithesis sneered. A presumptuous smile grew across her face as she gripped Joshua's skull. Her nails scraped across his scalp; and her other arm found its place wrapped around his torso. She pulled him close, embraced him from behind, menacingly, like a scorned lover. Joshua winced slightly as she pulled his hair and bent his head back, exposing his neck, which she playfully nibbled. She was feral, animalistic. Lightning danced around her body, sparks jumped between her and Joshua, who was absolutely silent the entire time.
None of us moved. We stood absolutely still as Antithesis cackled, celebrating her perceived victory. Joshua shot me a sidelong glance and flashed the slightest of smiles, then vanished. Disappeared from sight, without a flash, without a crack, merely dissolved into the air. Antithesis stumbled forward as the weight that had been supporting her ceased to exist. She glanced around wildly, unable to comprehend what had just happened, then let out a scream of rage as it slowly dawned on her that she had lost her hostage. Natasha wasted no time. She rushed the distracted Antithesis and tackled her to the ground. Natasha's doppelganger was quick to recover though, and with a flash of electricity she sent Natasha flying a good couple of feet.
I ran to her side while Antithesis turned her attention to Nick and Jones. Lightning arced across the desert in vibrant streaks. Nick fell to the ground trying to dodge a bolt, and Smith was smartly singed by another. I reached my hand out and pulled Natasha back; she fired off a few rounds as she was brought to her feet. This brought Antithesis' attention back to us, and she loosed another lethal bolt. I ducked away while Natasha dove to the side. She rolled and recovered in one fluid movement and unleashed on Antithesis, who laughed as the bullets dropped in front of her meaninglessly.
Smith and Nick were running towards the plane, and I decided to cover them. I gave Natasha the order to run, and though I saw her fight the urge to refuse, she obeyed. I fired my volley at the cackling energy being, who disappeared in a showy explosion of sparks. Lightning shot down from the heavens, obliterating the dune behind me. I was knocked on my face and a fine layer of sand settled on top of me as I caught my breath. A good chunk of the land around our battleground had turned to glass, and much of it was still white-hot. Antithesis seemed to have noticed this, and as I brought myself to my feet, she shot an orb of electricity from her hand. It circled us, smelting the sand as it did. Antithesis smiled, seemingly pleased by her makeshift deathmatch ring.
"Matthias!" Natasha called to me. I didn't hear her. I reached for another clip as Antithesis and I circled each other, and found nothing. I was out of ammo. Of course, I knew it didn't make a difference. Every bullet I had fired was on target, but none of them connected. Antithesis was invincible, she couldn't be hit. She was just playing with us. Leaving us alive for her own amusement. Or perhaps there was some other reason, perhaps she was commanded to let us live, perhaps we were still of some sort of value to her superior.
Natasha called my name again, this time more frantically. I produced a combat knife from a sheath I hid behind my vest. Antithesis lost it. She fell to her knees, roaring with hysterical laughter. She was openly mocking me. I grimaced, she knew she had won this. I glimpsed the primitive fire in her eyes. She lusted for blood. As her laughing subsided, she brought herself to her feet. Her humor vanished, and as she stood before me, the grin on her face turned to a scowl. A single, freezing bead of sweat ran down my neck.
"Matthias!" Natasha screamed, "We're out of time!"
The earth spasmed. Sand was sent flying into the air; I was knocked to the ground for once more. Antithesis panicked, the shock on her face was as blinding as every other emotion, she was transparent. Apparently, she hadn't been keeping track of time. I brought myself to my feet again, only to be thrown back down. The desert was sifting violently. Dunes collapsed like whitecaps of sand and dirt. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Natasha running towards me. Once again I brought myself to my feet. This time I managed to maintain my balance, and I ran towards the plane.
Antithesis disappeared in a flash of electricity. Vaguely, a shape began to rise out of the sand, a massive, elongated monstrosity. A great beast. Behemoth, the terror of land. The beast was so large, its body stretched from horizon to horizon. The runway the plane was on cracked, shattered by the constant shifting of the earth beneath it. Natasha struggled towards me, holding two indistinct packs in her hand. Behind her, Jones and Nick pushed Natasha out of the plane. The both had similar packs strapped to their backs.
"What the hell are those?" I asked Natasha as I finally stumbled into earshot.
"Parachutes. We're on the back of a beast the size of the Sahara. We'll be in the stratosphere when this thing wakes up. We'll have to jump."
"And then what?!"
"We hope Katie lands softly, and we hope the Behemoth doesn't decide to go back to sleep."
The sand was rapidly starting to slide towards the south. It was spilling over the distant edge of the beast. There was no way to tell how far up we were now, but based on the downwards gale, we were accelerating upwards relatively quickly. Smith and Nick finished pushing Katie out into the desert, and ran towards us.
"That's as far as we can get her!" Nick said, stumbling our direction. The sand was moving even quicker now, I could see a wall of the sepia dust growing in the distance.
"She doesn't have any parachute, how is she supposed to make the fall?!" I asked.
"Matthias! We've been shot at in Katie, but she doesn't have a scratch on her. She's indestructible, or very close to it." Jones responded.
"Do you have way to validate that?"
"I tried to bash in the windshield about a minute ago. You'll notice she still has a windshield."
The wave of sand was drawing closer, we no longer had time to argue. It was becoming difficult to stand, with the earth shifting so rapidly underfoot.
"Alright listen," I said, taking a step in the direction the sand was flowing, "when that wall of sand hits, keep your parachute covered. Fetal postion, wrap your arms and legs around it. Do you best to keep any sand from getting in. Take a deep breath and just get swept away. Pray we reach the edge before we get suffocated."
I took another step back, then fell. Nick was knocked to the ground also. I couldn't stand, the earth was too frantic now. The wave was bearing down on us. Smith fell, and Natasha kept her balance for a little bit longer, but then she too toppled.
"Here it comes!" I yelled.
And then it hit.