Another window shattered as Eren's fist smashed through it, launching a blow to another Aberration's chest and knocking it off as the hovercraft took a sharp right turn.
The lack of traction made for strange maneuvering, but it was fast and it worked, and that was what was needed right now.
Eren continued to weave in and out of areas littered with wreckage and charging Aberrations; steering past any obstructions in the road and avoiding as many attacks as possible.
Phil moved anxiously in his seat, feeling a mix of confusion, fear, and excitement.
This sort of thing just didn't happen. He should have been terrified; taken onto an alien world, dumped out into the midst of a city overrun by undead, and his only companion was a big fluffy death machine.
And yet, there was that feeling of exhilaration and endless curiosity. This sort of thing really did not just happen out of nowhere, and yet here he was.
There were so many questions he wanted to ask, but they could wait. Staying focused on escaping the city in one piece was the most important thing right now.
"Hang onto something," Eren instructed as they neared a wall of wrecked vehicles that completely obstructed the road.
Phil did as he was told, holding onto the handle to his upper left, and placing gripping onto the bottom of his seat with the other as the vehicle swerved to the right, off of the road, narrowly clearing the upcoming guardrail.
The hovercraft went into an offroad jump, and made an almost-perfect landing on the road below and to the side, coming within a few millimeters of touching the road, but stayed afloat in the air. Eren quickly regained control of the hovercraft, and it zipped down the road and under the next bridge.
A reptilian Aberration leaped down, but it was light enough that when the hovercraft struck it, it simply plowed the attacker out of the way.
Everything went smoothly, up to a point. There was a tunnel, not too far up ahead, and it seemed like it would have been easy to reach.
Except for the fact that sixteen metallic rods stuck themselves into various points of the hovercraft in rapid succession upon nearing the tunnel.
Eren quickly put on the brakes; causing the propulsion domes to face forward and outwards, bringing the hovercraft to a stop.
"Out!" she shouted, kicking her door open, retracting her chains, and getting out.
Phil followed suit without hesitation, unbuckling and opening the door but he was too slow for Eren's liking, as she came around and picked Phil up, and dove away from the vehicle as the lights began to blink on the rods and let out a high-pitched beeping sound.
In seconds, the hovercraft exploded, and Eren landed down on her side, relatively unharmed, and shielding Phil.
Eren turned her head to see the figure standing on the road that ran across the top of the tunnel.
Standing at eight feet tall, it appeared to be a black-furred bipedal canine, but it was hard to tell exactly what it was, as its head was entirely wrapped in linen. Its natural arms had their hands severed, and instead ended in rusted steel pipes, to use as bludgeoning objects. A set of metal appendages had been grafted to its shoulders. Its right hand was a large rod gun which it had already proved it could use very well. Its left hand was a larger-than-average claw; each finger tipped with barbs.
Rods were carried from a containment unit on the Aberration's back by a rail system on its arm, and reloaded the gun in a period of four seconds, give or take.
Eren quickly got up, cradling Phil in her arms and leaping behind a crashed automobile. The distinctive sound of rods being rapidly fired into the car's casing was heard, and Eren moved from her crouching position, and giving the car a wide berth, sprinted for the tunnel.
Much like the hovercraft, the car exploded, raining debris everywhere. Rods embedded themselves into the ground as the Aberration fired, meant to be embedded in Eren's head, but she was surprisingly fast for her size and structure.
Sections of the highway were obliterated as the rods detonated, leaving craters and shooting pavement up into the air. The Aberration worked on reloading, and then took aim again, but its next barrage was interrupted as it took a few throwing knives to the side of its ribcage.
A wolf and a human approached it; evidently there were still some survivors here.
But not for long.
The Aberration leaped up higher than should have been possible, intending to come down with a pipe-strike, but the human raised a wall of pavement with a simple stomp.
Not that it did much good; two rods were all that were needed to break through. A third one continued, striking the human straight between the eyes, resulting in her death even before it exploded.
The detonation sent the wolf sprawling, and he would never walk away from that spot. The Aberration landed down, walked over to him, and brought his demise in the form of a downwards strike to the neck.
The mummified monstrosity left its newest kills, satisfied with its work, and looked over the rail.
Its prey had already made it into the tunnel. It made no noise of frustration; it was hard to tell if it was even capable of doing so. It turned and began running, intending to come around and cut them off before they could reach the exit.
"Eren," Phil emanated.
"Hm?" Eren responded, still running.
"You can put me down now..."
She stopped for a moment, and set him down. "Ah. Right. Sorry about that."
"It's fine," Phil said. "You were trying to protect, me and for that I'm thankful. But you don't need to carry me all this way."
"Right," Eren affirmed. She removed another canteen from around her shoulder, and handed it to Phil. It appeared to be more than slightly smashed. "I landed on this one back there. It's leaking now, so you would be best off drinking it so it doesn't go to waste."
"Thanks," Phil said, taking the canteen and removing the cap to drink.
The two of them continued on at a brisk pace; past even more crashed vehicles and dormant Aberrations.
They really did send chills down Phil's spine, an why wouldn't they? Those things could unsettle anyone, even while dormant.
"Are there a lot of people like you?" Phil asked, after traveling in silence for a while.
"How do you mean?" Eren asked.
"Well, I'm not sure how to word it..."
"It is fine. I take no offense. And yes; there are plenty of others. We are actually the most plentiful race here."
"You all identify as a single race?"
"Yes. Many different subtypes, but all in all, we are a single race; Xeeok."
"I see. And how common are humans here?"
"Fairly common; not quite as widespread as Xeeok, but they inhabit most places."
"How well do humans and Xeeok usually get along with each other?"
"As well as they would among their own species. There is a bit of racial prejudice or bias in some people, but most of us are open-minded and have a mutual respect of one another."
"I'm glad to hear things are mostly-smooth between the two."
"However, it becomes complicated when you add Jolgon and dragons to the equation."
"You've got dragons here?" Phil asked. This world really was full of surprises.
"Don't sound so excited. They preach constantly that we are their equals, but few actually believe that. They think they're all so much better than us just because they're huge and shoot lightning out of their bones..."
"Well, shooting lightning sounds pretty awesome to me, honestly. But they can't all be bad, right?"
"Most humans can do that anyway, even with a broken bone. Maybe if you're here long enough, you will be doing it too. And there are a few dragons I have met that I liked. Only a few."
Eren moved so as to get around an overturned semi-truck, but then froze momentarily and backed up to find cover. "Dammit, he's back."
"The guy with the gun?"
"Yes. Just stay back; maybe he hasn't seen us y--" Eren was cut short as the sound of metal striking metal rang out several times in quick succession. "Well, forget that."
She and Phil both backed up and ducked behind an overturned totaled vehicle, and the truck's empty cargo unit blew into shrapnel only a few moments later.
Phil turned slowly as he heard noise from behind. There was an entire mob of Aberrations approaching now, but they were damaged and slow. Their motions were not unlike that of a horde of zombies depicted in all those cheesy horror films.
Eren turned as well, letting out a sigh. "Well, that's just fantastic."
She and Phil both instinctively got out of their crouch positions as a steel pipe smacked down between them from behind. Right now, this was the biggest threat.
The mummified Aberration vaulted over the overturned car, rubbing the two poles together and letting out a screeching noise that seemed to provoke the other Aberrations in the area, waking them up. Thankfully, they were all barely-mobile and all were a fair distance away.
Eren and Phil backed away as their attacker raised its weapons. As it brought the spinning cylindrical gun up, Eren lunged forward, striking it down and causing it to fire into the ground. As the rod began to blink, Eren shoved Phil out of the way, knocking him down, but giving him the distance he needed to stay out of the blast radius.
Eren had certain abilities that would have gotten her to safety as well, but she had been pushing herself all day, and no amount of consumed demons would grant her access to that ability today; she needed rest, and there was no way she was getting any of that here.
The rod exploded, knocking Eren and the Aberration in opposite directions with great force. Eren sprawled awkwardly, skidding a fair distance; her metal midsection scraping against the road.
The Aberration was the first to recover, and it leapt to its feet quickly and strode towards Eren, the loose ends of its linen wraps trailing behind it and smoldering.
It knelt on top of her while she was still in a daze, placing its claw just below her collarbone for balance as it lifted its gun.
But again, it missed its mark. Phil had gotten up and approached it, gripping a pipe in both hands, and then swung with all the strength he could muster, striking it in the head and provoking a satisfying cracking noise. The Aberration was knocked off by the force, and a rod fired as its gun hand pointed into the air, embedding in the ceiling above the front of one of the approaching crowds of Aberrations.
The detonation caused a good portion of the tunnel to come down, crushing the leading undead and forming a large pile that the others would have to climb over.
Eren was quick to get up, but the Aberration was once again, quicker, and performed a lunge at Phil, sweeping one of the pipes low and striking him in both legs right below his kneecaps, knocking him over. A blow like that ensured he wouldn't be walking anytime soon.
Before the Aberration could turn and fire the terminating shot, Eren placed a finger to the side of its head, releasing a flash of light, reducing everything above its neck to ashes.
It fell to the side, and wouldn't be getting up again.
Eren quickly went to Phil's aid, kneeling by him and cradling him in her arms again.
"Are you alright?" she asked.
"Yeah..." Phil responded, though it was obvious that he wasn't alright. Pain surged through his lower legs rythmically, but he breathed deeply and tried not to let it take him over.
"Can you stand?"
"I don't think so..."
"Great," Eren breathed, looking around. Aberrations were now making their way down the pile of debris, and some rather nasty-looking ones were coming from the direction Eren and Phil needed to go. She turned her attention back to Phil. "Alright, we are surrounded, and I'm going to need to fight our way out of this, but I cannot leave you alone. If I carry you like this, you will still be vulnerable."
"Well then how are we going to do this?"
Eren paused for a moment, but then continued. "Do you trust me?"
Phil said nothing, but looked into her lens-eyes directly; Eren's stare didn't weaken him like it did previously. They actually brought a sense of comfort.
"Do you trust me?" Eren asked again.
"I do," Phil replied. And he was being totally honest; she had come out of nowhere and brought him this far, risking herself for his sake.
"Alright. Well, if I'm going to get you out of here alive I'll sort of have to..." she trailed off there, her ears folding back.
"You're going to have to what?" Phil asked.
"I'm going to have to swallow you."
Phil's reaction wasn't as negative as Eren had expected, but he didn't seem comfortable with it. "I thought the plan was to get me out of here alive."
"I am undead; I run on demonic energy and machinery now. I've altered myself so as to be able to shut off my digestive system, and displace the acid and the demons to alternate contaiment units. You'll be fine; as long as I remain operational, my stomach is the safest place in the Satellites, and I really am not afraid to make that claim. However, due to the elements of such a notion, most people would be uncomfortable with it..." she glances around, keeping tabs on the approaching horde. "Phil. Are you willing to do this?"
"I am," he replied. There was hardly any hesitation. He completely trusted Eren, and honestly, this idea was fascinating to him, despite everything.
"I'll be gentle," Eren promised as her mask opened up, revealing her silvery maw.
Phil didn't resist as Eren positioned him so as to take him in headfirst. She had a large mouth, and at its widest, she was able to take in his head rather easily.
She did her best to keep her tongue under control, trying not to waste too much time savoring Phil's taste. She had to stay focused; she'd have plenty of chances to do this later, but she had to hurry now.
Her capacity for this was astonishing, Phil had been taken in past his shoulders with little effort on Eren's part as her throat expanded to accept him; her jugular muscles steadily pulling him deeper.
Phil felt Eren lift him up as she tilted her head back so she was looking straight up. It only took her a few more swallows like this before Phil's waist, hips, and finally his feet disappeared down her gullet.
Her mask sealed tightly again as Phil curled up in her belly, trying to get into a good position. She loved the sensation of having someone shifting around inside of her, but now wasn't the time to become preoccupied with it.
It was surprisingly comfortable inside Eren; her stomach was the perfect size to hold Phil, and artificial heating kept him warm. At a time like this, it was a bit more difficult to enjoy than it normally would have been, considering Aberrations were coming in from all sides.
Eren stood; Phil's weight was noticeable in her belly, but it did not hinder her. She was surrounded and heavily outnumbered, but she felt as though she had just enough energy left in her to fight her way through this.
Six animate bladed chains extended from her back again as the Aberrations closed in. She waited for one of them to make the first move.
A snake-tailed, plate-armored weasel lunged in at her, bringing its tail around to bite at her calf, but she sidestepped it easily, and retaliated with a shattering punch, ripping into its plating and terminating it swiftly.
She held her hands out to the sides, releasing a spray of acid from holes on the tips of her metal fingers, forcing Aberrations with a sense of self preservation back.
Those who dared approach her found their organic components dissolving rather quickly, and were ended unceremoniously by a slash from the razor claws on the ends of Eren's chains.
A monstly-machine construct blocked her from exiting the crowd, and slashed at her. She ducked, but it gave another Aberration the opportunity to climb onto her. Wrapping multiple chains around its torso, she tore it off of her, and used it along with a flurry of punches to bludgeon the large, armored fiend into submission, before dropping the pest and running past.
Vaulting over some wreckage, she lost no speed as she touched down again. Phil was held snugly by the walls of her stomach, preventing him from being jostled too much by Eren's movement, so she didn't have to worry about that.
"The end of the tunnel is coming up," Eren said. "Just a little longer to go, and then it's a straight shot to the port."
"Right," Phil said. "How are you holding up?"
"Just fine. I can hold up the rest of the way."
An Aberration leaped out from behind a wrecked hovercraft, in an attempt to catch Eren off guard, but it was quickly struck down by her chains.
Two others had worked on getting up, but Eren arrived before they were ready. The humanoid one had tried to latch onto Eren's ankle, but she forcefully removed it by using it as an extension with her kick the the side of the overturned, wingless giant wasp's thorax.
With them taken care of for now, she continued running.
The street she sprinted on joined up with two others, forming a single road which lead to a large, open gate, granting access to the port.
Aberrations littered the road, already up by the time she approached, surrounding her once more.
A downwards slash from one was countered by a strike from the rusted nail driven through the end of Eren's tail, and as she retracted, she threw her attacker at the nearest other Aberration, taking it out.
Knocking the heads of two in front of her together, she took them out as well, proceeding on as she launched a backhanded strike at two others comming in from the side, knocking them back.
The current inhabitant of Eren's stomach shifted nervously as he heard the sound of claws scraping against her abdominal plating. "Everything alright out there?" Phil asked.
"Everything is fine," Eren replied, ripping something out of her newest opponent's chest. Some kind of apparatus, she didn't know what it was but it looked important, and the Aberration must have thought it was important as well, because it collapsed on the spot.
Eren extended her hands out to the side, releasing several spheres of light. They began to orbit around her, and quickly changed to spiraling outwards, colliding with approaching Aberrations, setting them ablaze and sending them flying.
Magical combat was taxing on Eren's aura, but she didn't have the much farther to go. She could stand to put out a little more energy.
A wide, empty circle had been cut into the battlefield around Eren where shambling undead had once stood. Pointing both hands forward, she released a wide flash of light, setting all in front of her on fire and knocking them down.
She leaped over the last patch of enemies, and began running, dodging a clumsily-shot arrow and continuing for the gate.
One last fragile Aberration moved into view and tried to stop her, but her momentum was great enough that she simply tackled it out of the way, before going on her way, dashing to the end of the docks and leaping off into the water.
They had survived.
The setting sun bathed the area in warm light, but it would be below the horizon soon.
But by then, Eren and Phil would far away, out of the reach of the Aberrations.
Eren walked along the floor of the shallow sea; Phil sustained by an internal air supply.
It was tranquil here; the only sound coming from the mechanism which kept Eren's heart pumping, and the quiet hum of a heater.
And that was fine with Phil. For the first time since he arrived here, he felt completely safe, in the confines of Eren's belly.
And she was happy to have him there.
The soft-but-firm walls of of her stomach allowed Phil to sink in comfortably, wrapped in warmth.
The mental appeal of being inside was there too; being held as close as possible by someone he trusted, finding a sanctuary inside her.
He was damp with saliva, but he didn't care. He was too tired to care; he found that he couldn't keep himself from drifting off into sleep.
Eventually, Eren surfaced, walking onto a rocky, natural structure that broke the surface of the water. She sat down on a ledge, her back against a boulder, and she stared off into the night, preparing to enter a trance and recharge.
"Phil," she said, placing her hands on her distended belly. She knew he was asleep, but she spoke anyway, to herself and to him. "I promise you, I will get this all sorted out."
In a few minutes, she joined him in sleep. They had another big day tomorrow.
And many more to come.