Through  the ensuing chaos, the worm didn’t let up. And since the Rainlords had  unfortunately gathered a bit closer together while the worm had been  downed, the beast now had the opportunity to come bulldozing through the  loose crowd that they had formed.  

And Selena Cortes was still not moving, Hector noticed, even as the worm turned in his and her general direction.  

No time to deliberate.  

Hector materialized a sloped platform on the other side of Selena and  used it to launch her into his waiting arms. “Grab on!” he shouted to  her unnamed reaper, who made no argument.  

With the worm bearing down on them and everyone around scattering like  startled birds, Hector decided to go upward. Iron materialized below his  feet and flung the four them into the air, high enough so that the worm  would be able to pass harmlessly below. 

Or at least, that had been the plan.  

Instead, the worm decided to chase after them specifically and arched up  to meet Hector in the air, and suddenly, its slobbering, sludging jaws  were closer than ever.  

Well, shit.  

Even less time to deliberate.  

Had to be simple. No thought required. Something he could make in an instant.  

A giant iron bowl, of all things, materialized right in front of him in  midair. He’d pointed the concave side at the worm’s face.  

Its huge mouth fit almost too perfectly into it, and--for a few vital  seconds--the bowl became a kind of muzzle. So instead of Hector,  Garovel, Selena, and her reaper all being swallowed, they slammed  against an iron wall with Hector’s shield.  

Not that much of an improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. 

The impact was enough to punt the four of them all the way across the  cavern and into a far wall, cracking it and loosening a few stalactites  from the ceiling.  

Hector wondered how many bones in his body had just broken, but his  armor and regenerative vigor were doing their jobs, and he managed to  create another iron platform to catch everyone before they peeled off  the wall and fell.  

Rather than lowering them all back down to the ground, however, he  looked for the train and tracks, which he discovered were not quite as  far away now as he might’ve expected. He started growing his platform in  its direction, adding tall support pillars as needed.  

Selena sounded like she was trying to say something, but Hector couldn’t  make it out. A part of him wanted to ask what was wrong, but something  told him that was a question for later. Or possibly never.  

Right now, with everything still as confusing as it was, he should  probably just try to say something comforting, right? Something like...?


Well, maybe saying nothing at all was okay, too.  

God, you’re so useless!’ the girl’s reaper said aloud. ‘I can’t believe I ended up with such a--!’ But the reaper cut herself off, leaving the thought unfinished.  

The following silence became suddenly uncomfortable.  

Hector found himself blinking as he worked on his mobile staircase. He had to consult Garovel. ‘What the hell was she saying just now?’