The mastodons broke and charged into the wall of the orbs of Profusionist energy that were blossoming before us. I closed my eyes so that my mastodon could see later. If any of the orbs missed I did not know it. One hit my mastodon squarely in the chest as she charged forward, fury and momentum carrying her through even as her organs failed. I felt their collapse, though my energy shell protected me as the world vanished in a flash of gold. But by her bellow the matriarch was also hit and also kept going and I opened my eyes to see Marcus’s beast outpacing us both on the left, her right side scorched bare to the muscle by the strike. Other mastodons reared, and the right flank of the line lagged behind.
We tore across the long broad courtyard that we had known awaited us inside the gate. There also waited the silhouettes of the artillery, the ten Auger disks remaining. And before them and around them and behind them stood ranks and ranks of infantry with long weapons like pikes that we had never seen. They were as long as our mastodons were tall, and I knew that they were Profusionist, and they had not come from this world. And from further behind them, still, came the first golden streaks of lightspear fire, from the buildings and the street.
I swiped tusks once, twice, cradling the crushing agony that was my chest, sweeping Augers aside. Spearfire hit my mastodon, hit me. My armor weakened. But the pikemen fell away before the momentum of our charge and I felt her tusks hook just under the lip of a disk as the first pikes dug into her sides and neck and throat. I arched in agony and she flipped the artillery. As she did, I thought that these Augers had never actually fought mastodons before.
Then a pike found her jaw and my beast reared away and from that greater height I saw through the grey of the nightwind the unending sea of pikes and men and spearmen that awaited us. We did not outnumber them at all. They lined the street to the limits of my vision and beyond, filling the alleys and the rooftops. And beside me the matriarch also reared, and Marcus’s beast also bellowed, as all along the line mastodons reached the artillery and flipped the other disks.
And there appeared among them, flickering here and there, the demons of my vision.