Tropos had caught up with his leaders' flight-path and, upon seeing the movement below and hearing no response from Stratos, cut out his flight-pack to dive down in a controlled fall towards the trees. As he crashed through he switched back on, lance leveled before him as he
swooped parallel to the earth.
Webstor leapt up with sudden alarm, an arc of blood spurting from between his thin lips and Strato's neck, but it was too late. Tropos's blow was miscalculated and glanced off the top of Webstor's shoulder, but it was enough to send the vampire tumbling from the web to smack down on the hard earth - dark, thick blood erupting from the deep wound. Webstor resisted the instinctive urge to curl up and lay still, instead springing up and plunging deeper into the undergrowth, into darkness, hissing and disoriented by the sudden nausea and pain caused by the blow, scattering his precious, undead blood everywhere.
Tropos spun around and hovered, his feet almost touching the lowly soil, his hand smarting and the lance torn from his grasp when it hit. He drew the dirk at his belt, searching the thick darkness beneath the branches. Stratos groaned, dangling from the web, blood flowing from his throat. Then, a sudden whinny put fear into Tropos who turned again, raising his blade to fend off the blow. But no blow came he could hear a horse smashing through the foliage and then whinny again before thundering away.
Tropos too care to avoid the thin strands of web that hung from the branches like deadly hairs, cutting at those that stuck to him. Then he hacked his leader free and scrambled to pick up Stratos' helmet while hauling his leaders' heavy and still tangled body across his shoulder. Flight-packs could not normally carry more than one person for very long, but Stratos still had his, though the controls dangled uselessly from his side. Tropos, by now covered in Stratos' blood and Webstor's web, his senses straining to detect further danger, hurried to turn on the pack that would help him to lift Stratos into the air.
"Stratos felled." He cried into his helmet-radio as they lifted off. "Serious wound on the neck. On way to Eternos. Need a healer immediately. Out." The young Avionian warrior, his beard barely thickened, nerves not yet fully tested, stared down with disbelief at his defeated and dying leader who now lay in his arms as he sped towards the City.
Far behind them, stuck upon Webstor's web, was the long and brilliant feather of the slain Golden Hawk.