Lilliana watched the explosive pellet arc through the air and then disappear from view in a rippling distortion of the atmosphere that quickly expanded to a blob several feet in diameter, from which a shockwave seemed to spread out. She understood what was happening…the full sensory illusion couldn’t cope with a bomb striking something that wasn’t present in the scene, exploding, and then damaging and/or scattering a bunch of people and/or things that were likewise being deliberately excluded from the superimposed reality. The result was that it flickered and faltered… though, unfortunately, it did not fade. The spell was much bigger than Regan’s tiny bomb. It hung on.
Lilliana hung on, too… to the hem of Regan’s cape. She didn’t know if the mechanic had any idea that her bomb had gone off, with her good eye covered beneath the plasticine patch, but in any event Regan wasn’t for waiting around. She took off running not a full second after tossing the pellet, running in its wake.
Following Regan’s blind charge put Lilliana through some sensory distortions. Her mind was being fed the alien landscape. Had she taken a stroll along the mesa, the spell would have worked together with her brain’s own innate preference for things to make sense in order to make sure that all her senses were in agreement. It was possible to put a high-end illusion of an endless plain inside a tiny room, and the people trapped in it would unknowingly walk in circles while from their own subjective point of view they were moving in a straight line. Regan was running in a straight line, such as it would exist in objective reality back on the station.
What this did to Lilliana, still experiencing the vast purple desert, was enough to trigger her motion sickness. The world kaleidoscoped around her. She could feel her legs moving in what felt like normal running strides, but there were odd pains like she was bending them in strange ways. Her feet would be falling towards a point on the ground, and the ground would flex and that point would move, and her foot would be drawn towards it like it hadn’t moved at all. It was as though somebody had an image of her in motion against the landscape and they were deforming it with a computer, stretching and skewing and rotating.
She tried closing her eyes, but it didn’t work. It was a full-sensory illusion, which meant kinesthetic sense, too.
Even blind, how did Regan manage to ignore the evidence of her senses? she wondered. Then she remembered who she was thinking about.
She opened her eyes, since it didn’t matter, and chanced a glance over her shoulder. There were more ripple-distortions of the sort the bomb had made, and then she noticed lines drawn past them.
“They’re shooting at us,” she said. She concentrated, reaching out and grabbing hold of the illusion. She couldn’t push through it, the opposing pressure was too strong… but what she lacked in mystical power, she tried to make up for with finesse. Instead of fighting the enemy mages, she added to their efforts, throwing her own weight behind the spell and aiming it behind them. Five soldiers came into view, wearing gray-black null armor with badges depicting the Fickle Finger and the title “Hospitality Ambassador” emblazoned across their chest plates in large letters.
They were taken aback by their abrupt change in surroundings enough that they stopped firing for a moment. When they began again, their shots seemed erratic and wildly off the mark… but of course, from their point of view, their targets were moving in anything but a straight and predictable line.
Then one of them got a lucky shot and tagged Lilliana in the elbow. She felt her arm go numb immediately.
“If you have another surprise tucked away somewhere, Bard, now would be the time,” Lilliana said.
“If I do, it’s a surprise to me, too,” Regan replied.
“Damn it,” Lilliana said.
“Don’t worry, Gypsy Rose,” Regan said. “Ya’d be surprised at how often I surprise meself.”
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