Ngulu the Broken raised his head and saw the small human aflame, hands stretched out towards his attackers. Anger built inside; he had at last found a worthy master and others were intent on taking him away. With a roar he leapt to his feet, bounding over Cornelius and placing himself as a shield, mighty taloned arms flexing in anticipation of battle.
Plasma bolts rained down, their efficiency interrupted by Cornelius’ anger. His own fire smashed into the first of the fighters, knocking it off its attack run and away from the unprotected Ngulu. Cornelius strode forward, the monster bowing forward in submission. On Cornelius walked, up the awaiting half-prostrated creature until he sat astride its bull neck. His power rolled off him in waves, caressing the monster’s flesh, healing Ngulu the Broken; wings stretched free of scar tissue, swelling as blood pumped into membranes once more. Split bone thickened and the demon took life again.
Cornelius felt content, the response of the beast was comforting; it was not Clari, but she was with him still. He pushed down with his heels, flesh parting and allowing him to push on. The space between Ngulu’s shoulders deepened and Cornelius made himself comfortable. Fire from above reminded him of the Fighter’s presence and he willed the demon aloft, wings cracking open and powering them into the air.
Shan was frightened; the apparition beneath him was unexpected and had unbalanced him. His arrogance had brought him here and his men were nowhere close. Help was not going to be forthcoming. He ordered the second fighter on a direct run against Cornelius and turned his own machine away. This smacked of ascension and his own experience with the results of this process, were not pleasant.
Wind buffeted his fighter and glancing into his display, Shan saw the expanding ball of fire behind. That he was next, was obvious.
Ngulu screamed his rage to the skies. It had been so long. Once he ruled this very earth; minions bowed before him, gave their lives for his sustenance and fed his excesses. Such power was welcome, and in this master he had found another like himself. The pain and anger which bubbled through his veins was mirrored in those of Ngulu. No longer would he run to chase after food. Now they would feed him, would care for him, and if they were lucky, he would fulfil their every nightmare.
Cornelius gave in to the hedonistic pleasure of the energy coursing through him The voices still crooned their soothing tune, but he did not listen. The first machine had been a start, the second a welcome appetiser. He though, wanted the being in the third fighter. There was power there, and Cornelius needed a target; someone to blame. He clenched his thighs and urged Ngulu on, his laughter floating down to the men below.
Arms raised welcomingly, the shaman watched them spiral down, their deadliness exactly what he had looked for. His self-congratulation ended abruptly, as the ground shook with arrival of a creature twice as large as the others.
“Human,” it hissed, “why have you called us?”
It sniffed warily around the still incandescent cone of light, its taloned limbs reaching tentatively out to touch the shaman.
“Enough!” he commanded, “You will do as I bid!”
“For now,” replied the demon, “but all it takes is one little mistake, and then you will be mine.”
Staff gripped firmly in his hand the shaman approached, by force of will and magic, he made the demon bend one knee to him.
“Master!” cried the beast, agony rippling through its muscular frame.
“True!” spat the shaman, “and don’t ever forget it!”