Chapter 32 The Allure of that Shot
“Grandpa, we came here with urgent news.” Luc said proudly, looking up.
“What?” Lance asked.
Avi hurriedly assumed control of the conversation, “Master Murdoch says it’s been years since he fired a cannon, and he’s out of practice. If he doesn’t hit his target on the first try, you’re not allowed to blame him. If not, he won’t fire at all. He says if you agree then wave at him from the horseless chariot, he’ll be able to see.”
“What a riot, he’s making demands of me?” Lance raged, “It hasn’t even been that long, no more than a few decades! That’s enough for him to get rusty? No, I don’t agree!”
McQueen was exasperated. “Come up, Chief Technician Lance, give it up. Everyone slips up sometimes. Our situation is dangerous and the battle is a close call. Any delay could cause a huge loss. Both the underground pioneers and the structures won’t be able to handle this sustained usage.”
“You’re right. We can’t lose sight of the big picture. Thank you for the reminder, Castellan McQueen. I’ll say yes to the bastard.” Lance came to the realization when he heard the word “loss”: every few minutes tens of houses and underground pioneers were being destroyed. He couldn’t afford that.
In that moment, he stood up and waved his little arms as hard as possible. His long, skinny arms and body were completely at odds in terms of scale. It was something McQueen didn’t get about gnomes. How come such long arms could grow on such a short little body? It looked so off-balance. Maybe that’s why gnomes were so crafty.
Boom. While Lance was waving his arms, the three-eyed lizard destroyed another underground pioneer. In shock, Lance kept waving his hands faster and faster, as if he were afraid Murdoch’s eyes were giving out and he couldn’t see him.
“Franco, this is Murdoch. Firing in a minute.” Murdoch’s voice rang out and Lance finally sighed in relief. He was sweating from just waving his hands around.
“Attention, all units. Spider web formation.” Franco shouted.
The remaining twenty some odd underground pioneers hit the thruster and pushed backwards, producing enough space between them and the lizard.
The cannons on the back of the underground pioneers shuddered, and thick harpoons attached to long metal chains pierced into the bodies of the three-eyed lizard. Each of them had a hook at their heads, so when they pierced into the lizard’s body they were buried in its flesh. At the same time the underground pioneers’ four mechanical legs drilled into the ground below, attaching themselves solidly to the earth.
Seeming to sense something, the three-eyed lizard struggled immensely. Each stomp from its strong back legs caused the earth to sink below it. The harpoons were secured so tightly in its body, the streaming blood dyed the lizard into a red monster. Each metal chain was drawn taut like they were about to break off, and the four legs of the underground pioneers wobbled with the ugly sound of metal distorting.
“Keep firing the harpoons, until you have nothing left.” Franco issued another order.
Zoom, zoom, zoom. Dozens more harpoons shot through the air, burrowing into the three-eyed lizard’s body so it almost looked like a porcupine. The dozens of chains left it stuck. Even its tail was attached to an underground pioneer.
Howling, the three-eyed lizard went mad again. Dirt sprayed into the air as it attacked its surroundings, smashing an underground pioneer into a metallic waste.
“Sink, sink lower!” Franco shouted. The three-eyed lizard’s magic was too intense. Its earth magic kept corroding the foundations of the underground pioneers, so that Franco had to order them to lower to the bottom. At that low point they wouldn’t be able to stand up easily anymore. This was a move of desperation.
Snap. An entire underground pioneer was consumed by the earth caving underneath it and could no longer keep the chain intact. Screeching again, the lizard struggled harder. It seemed impossible, but the ultimate magic beast was only growing stronger as it fought.
Seeing it had been almost a minute and the totem cannon hadn’t been fired yet, Franco couldn’t help but shout in rage, “Murdoch, if you don’t fire soon you’ll be the one cleaning up after our bodies!”
He’d barely finished his sentence when the whole wrench city trembled. Accompanied by a huge explosion, a shining ball of light with a diameter of a meter or so shot from the totem pole. In that moment, it seemed as if everything underground were filled up by the blinding white light streaking through the sky, galloping toward the three-eyed lizard.
The chariot shuddered, and everyone’s eyes were stung by the light. But McQueen still fought through the harsh sensation. Hand over his eyes, he gazed at the totem bomb soaring before his eyes. No one could really describe the allure of that cannon shot, like no one could avoid a fart in a closed off compartment. Pulling a long tail, it moved through miles in a single breath, descending upon the three-eyed lizard’s head.
The lizard let out a screech. It was the final despairing cry at the end of life, piercing through the stone and rock, covering every cry of shock in the underground.
But another voice still rang out. Franco shouted the loudest he had ever shouted, “Break the chains, sit up, protect your heads!”
BOOM! A bright light flashed by, and a huge mushroom cloud rose in the distance.
A wild wind began to blow, throwing rocks and sand about. McQueen and the others hid behind the chariot, listening to the clanging of countless stones against the other side.
It was a sight McQueen would never forget, even though he only glimpsed it for a moment before hiding. Yet it was so impressive he couldn’t wipe it from his mind.
The heat of the explosion finally streamed over them. McQueen felt like he was on the verge of melting, especially since the beauty Sky was protected in his arms. She was so small yet so explosively round and soft, McQueen didn’t even quite know where the heat was coming from.
To enjoy such a delicious sight in a delicious explosion, McQueen felt utter contentment.
“Damn right!” he shouted.
“Damn right indeed!” Bruce exclaimed.
“Of course!” Lance laughed out loud, greatly satisfied with the results of the cannon.
“Looks like the three-eyed lizard has completely melted into dust, with nothing left,” Will shouted in surprise.
Lance’s smile froze on his face. “Nothing left? What about its crystal nucleus?”
“Even though an ultimate beast’s crystal nucleus is durable, it can’t stay intact under such a strong explosion. Just a totem cannon’s strength won’t produce such a large explosion, so the three-eyed lizard’s nucleus must have been ignited too.” Will said in an analytical voice. After studying under Bruce for so long, anyone would learn to speak like that.
“Are you telling me I’ve lost big?” Lance said in disbelief, his hands trembling.
“Chief Technician, how could you say that? You and your tribe have defeated an ultimate magical beast. Once the word gets out you’ll be famous. Toss doesn’t have that kind of skill. Relax, as your friend, our city is willing to shoulder part of your financial loss.” McQueen said generously, patting Lance on the shoulder.
To tell the truth, McQueen didn’t have much recourse either. His own army were the ones who drew these magical beasts in. Since the gnomes had been so proactive in helping them defeat the magical beasts (of course, they had no choice), he had to show his appreciation. Of course, this was more than just a gesture of kindness. In their future negotiations, the gnomes would be more motivated to break out the big guns now that they owed him one.
“Let’s comb through the battlefield and see if the lizard left anything behind,” McQueen said with a cheerful wave of the hand, like he was the one who had killed the thing.