He fired twice is quick succession; the Eraser went down, and he knew it wouldn't get up. He turned and continued his fevered escape, sprinting full tilt in between the trees; his excellent night vision guiding him in the pitch black; the sounds of the Erasers all around him made the deadly creatures more than obvious.
He smiled grimly, dodging another tree at the last conceivable moment; the Erasers were deadly; he was deadlier. Why hadn't they figured that out? He wondered briefly how many more of the things he would have to kill before they stopped hunting him. Or until there were none left to kill.
An Eraser swung from nowhere, giving a howl of attack, and he snapped the pistol up and fired three times; bang, bang, bang. His signature formation; double-tap to the chest, one in the head. He noted with mild pleasure that 'head' in this case was through the brute's left eye.
Right up the optic nerve to the brain; dead instantly.
He mentally subtracted the three bullets he fired from what was left in the pistol; he had fired five, and had five to go. He was on his first magazine; he had three more. He smiled again, leaping over a fallen tree, and landing with catlike grace, pistol in his right hand; he had plenty left for more.
And more indeed came. Four more by his quick estimate. The sounds they created all ran together, but there appeared to be four of them.
He continued sprinting, not at all tired; his heart rate about the same as it ever was; not any higher, certainly.
He wasn't yet sweating.
Though this engagement had just begun, and he didn't know how much longer it would last; until he found a clearing, however long that took.
A growl from behind him forced him to acknowledge the fact that his pursuers were getting uncomfortably close; one very eager devil in particular.
He lept off the ground, spinning it midair. And there the Eraser was, not fifteen feet away.
He brought his free left hand to the pistol for stability; he only needed one shot; he had the Eraser clean in his sights.
He finished his spin and landed in a crouch.
He straightened up; he kept running.
Four left in the magazine.
And at least three more pursuers.
A ratio he rather liked.
He smiled again, as sounds from either side came to his attention; they were trying to flank him, leaving one on his tail, and having the other two try to get in front of him to cut him off from escaping.
They were getting clever, he thought, but obviously clever, and that defeated any cleverness they thought they had.
They were also fast, he noted. Faster than most he had dealt with. But no matter. They died just as well as any others.
He leapt over a bush, and continued sprinting. The three Erasers keeping pace. But they were still behind. Behind enough to give him time to think.
How had they found him this time?
Perhaps he hadn't had as much time to think as he would've liked; the Eraser on his right had caught up, and it dove greediliy, with a howl of triumph.
He spun to his side and hit the ground hard; the Eraser brushed over him, and he fired twice into it's torso. It continued it's dive and hit a tree, knocking it cold.
He stood up, pointed the pistol, fired once; knocking it dead. He briefly contimplated running again, but knew he had lost too much time; they would be on him as soon as he turned.
He had to stand his ground.
He had one bullet left.
Another Eraser sprang forward, and he snapped the pistol up fired, hitting it in the upper right shoulder. Terrible shot, he thought, pissed with himself. Blood sprayed from the wound.
The Eraser kept coming.
But he was ready. He spun the pistol in his hand to make it a blunt weapon and he swiftly brought it down on the creature's skull, simultaneously dodging out of it's line of flight.
Why did this group all dive at him like they were playing football? They probably thought that if they got him to the ground, the could swarm him with shear numbers. He gave them credit; with that strategy, they just might be able to. But he doubted it.
The Eraser hit the ground, and tried getting up; he didn't let it.
He brought the pistol down on it's skull as hard as he could. He then did that five more times in less than three seconds.
He stood up straight, ejected the spent magazine, pocketed it, pulled another out, slapped it home, and he was good to go. It was a well-oiled, well executed move that he had had loads of opportunities to practice.
Back to ten.
One problem; the last Eraser had stopped. But he could still hear it breathing.
"Oh, do come out. If I get a good shot, you'll never feel it," he said, waiting.
Then, a second set of breathes from behind him. Only... he recognized these breaths.
He smiled, "Hello, Ari," he said pleasantly turning to face what he knew to be this group's (what was left of it) leader.
And low and behold, there was Ari, looking as grotesque as ever.
"Hello, Brium," Ari said, eyes flashing malevolently, "Nice night for a stroll."
"Run, actually," Brium countered, "Then jump, spin, shoot, flip, land, run. Not always in that order, but you get the idea, I'm sure."
The second Eraser emerged from behind the trees; he heard it quite clearly.
He gave Ari credit, he actually looked somewhat scary in the dark.
"Why don't you give up, Brium," Ari said threateningly, "And come with us? I know Jeb would love to see you."
Brium smiled, "Not anywhere near as much as I'd like to see him. You go tell him to meet me for coffee sometime. I'll pay."
"Now, boss?" The Eraser from behind him hissed. Brium could hear his claws flexing in anticipation.
"Shut the fuck up, please. It's rude to interrupt." Brium said, not for one single moment taking his eyes off of Ari, "So, enjoying the new wings?" Brium asked, making small talk, his pistol dangling at his side, looking harmless but being anything but, "you might be better off with a backpack of lead the way you use them."
"Shut up!" Ari snapped.
"Excellent retort," Brium smiled. "I am honored, Ari, that you would take time off doing whatever it is you do to come after me again. Trying to earn back Jeb's love? Face it, with all that's happened to you, it's doubtful he cares much for you at all. You're taking orders from a father you constantly dissapoint."
"Shut up!" Ari repeated, raising his gravely wolfen voice, "This is your last chance."
"To give up?" Brium scoffed, "Uh huh. That one's bouncing around in the system right now. We'll take a vote on it. Have to get the whole Senate together. Should be decided by next Thursday."
"You think you're so funny, don't you? You think you're so great," Ari hissed.
The Eraser behind Brium hissed a little, too. It was losing patience.
But so was Brium. And that was much, much more frightening.
And then Brium noticed something interesting from behind Ari; it looked a clearing. Possibly where Ari had landed, because there was no way he could've run out this far to cut Brium off, or land anywhere else in this forest with his ungainly wings and all.
It made sense. And it also restated how stupid Ari was. He had shown Brium the escape route. A glowing green EXIT sign couldn't have been more helpful.
If that Eraser hadn't stopped Brium here, he wouldn't run right by the clearing; missed his escape completely.
And instantly Brium had a plan formulated, approved, and ready for implementation.
He already knew that there were other Erasers en route; they would be here soon; he couldn't yet hear them, but he could feel them. Ari had no intention of letting him come quietly, even if Brium had wanted to (hahaha) and Brium knew full well that Ari would just relish the chance to beat the shit out of him. He was stalling, and Brium wouldn't play that game.
Besides, it was far too easy to verbally dance around Ari, and Brium was afraid it would soon get old. Too much of a good thing, and all.
Brium smiled, "I don't think, Ari my dear wolf boy... I know."
And he snapped the pistol up so it pointed behind him; he fired five times in about two seconds. It was more ammo than he normally used on a single target, but he made an exception because he never actually had visual confirmation of the thing.
But he knew it wouldn't be getting up.
And he was completely ready for Ari, who lunged at him, as Brium knew he would as soon as he popped his comrade.
Brium quickly grabbed Ari's right outstretched wrist, and spun around, hitting Ari in the back of the head with his right elbow. He then spun around completely once again, hitting Ari right in the nose with the handle of the pistol. Brium was big and Ari was much bigger, so the size battle was already over. But Brium was much, much faster, and big enough to do some serious damage.
Ari's nose shattered with a crunch, as Brium knew it would. It was his goal to have done so.
And that bought Brium all the time he needed; he jerked the pistol back into firing position, and put a bullet in each of Ari's kneecaps.
Brium let go of Ari's wrist, and let him fall face first to the ground. Brium aimed, and fired a bullet into each cheek of Ari's hairy ass.
Insult to injury. Brium grinned slightly in mild satisfaction.
He knelt down next to Ari, placing the barrel of the weapon to the wolf boy's temple, effectively letting him know who was in charge here. Not that Ari was really in much condition to do anything.
Brium roughly grabbed Ari's head, and lifted him up slightly to look him in the eyes when he spoke, "Tell Jeb I say 'hi'."
And he brought the pistol down on Ari's head. Only once. Just enough to knock him cold. Not dead.
Brium still had sympathy for the kid. Not much, but enough to not kill him.
And all was suddenly very quiet.
Except for a mild breathing.
From two foreign sources.
That one Eraser was still kicking.
Brium stood up, and walked over to the Eraser's bloody body. He was impressed; shot five times and still breathing.
Well, that's what you get for not looking at the target, Brium mused to himself. Hit five times in spots that weren't instantly lethal. Brium just watched the unconscious Eraser for a moment, studying it, considering it.
He had one bullet left. Five on this joker, four on Ari. How convenient.
He snapped the pistol up, and put the last bullet in the downed Eraser's forehead.
The breathing stopped.
The slide of the pistol locked back, and Brium calmly, ejected the magazine, placed it in his pocket, and pulled out another one. He locked the slide back into firing position with a flip of his thumb and then slammed the magazine into the small gun. No need to have one in the chamber. Not at this particular moment.
He pocketed the pistol, placing it carefully in the pocket that it was always in. He breathed deep, and closed his eyes, relishing the silence for a few blessed moments.
Then he heard the reinforcements.
Dozens of them, perhaps more. Probably more.
Brium sighed. Time to go.
He turned, and gingerly walked to the clearing. Covering the twenty-five feet with a pace that would imply he was out on an evening stroll. Brium smiled; a stroll. Just like Ari had said.
He arrived at the threshold of the clearing and cocked his head back to Ari's prone, unconscious body. It night vision was great, but it was so dark, he could barely see the winged Eraser.
"I'm strolling now, Ari," Brium almost laughed. It was pointless to talk; no one could hear him. But it did offer some satisfaction.
Brium looked up, wishing for stars, but knowing they weren't there to be found. Oh well. Darkness was better for cover, anyway.
And cover for flight was inexcusably important.
Brium unfurled his wings. It had been too long, he mused. Far too long since he had experienced the joy of flight. Almost twenty-four hours. An eternity.
Sixteen feet of wingspan, and boy did it feel good to stretch them out.
Brium leapt, and took flight. As soon as he was over tree level, he closed his eyes, and felt the wind race all around him, the sounds of the infuriated Erasers being left quickly behind.