Between States, Nowhere, USA

 

“Hey! Open up, please!” 

Alain Mormont blinked then looked at the side of her RV with the door with confusion. Out the window and by the door was a woman running alongside her RV. Which wouldn’t be a surprise if she was going maybe 10 mph, but she’d been on the interstate heading at upwards of 75 mph (80 when she could get away with it). 

 

Obligingly and because of the politely worded request, the RV door opened up, and the lithe woman in a silver, white  and red running suit hopped in, closing the RV door behind her in a blink. “Hi, thanks, good to meet you, Fair Knight? Right? I’m Tachyon, got a situation think you might be good for, you fought some cultists before, well, more of them popped up at the worst place, working for Gloomweaver, they’re running a prison break *Right Now*, can you come help?”

 

Alain didn’t know what a Gloomweaver was, but it didn’t sound like anyone with pure intentions. “Cultists,” she muttered in disgust, already throwing the RV back into gear. The engine growled, flush with power from the attentions of Writhe and Dr. McCall. “Where to?” She asked, tapping the GPS and putting on her turn signal. “I’ve got my stuff in the back and I can dress fast.” 

 

Thank heavens for modern buckles.

 

“We’ll be teleporting to The Block. Just go ahead and pull over, we’ve got a window of maybe… 10 minutes before Legacy has to shut down the teleport pad.” Tachyon tapped her foot in rapid succession, anxiously checking her wrist and tapping the left side of her goggles. “Void Guard are all off planet, and you were the closest suitable person within 200 miles. Close quarters, lots of bad people.”

 

“Close quarters is my specialty,” Alain said frankly, and put the RV in park off the side of the road, yanked her keys from the ignition, and half-hopped half stepped over the seat to get her stuff. 

 

She kept it in an old wooden trunk stored under the little table on the side of the RV. It looked much older than she was, the woodwork faded and worn from use, handles and hinges shiny new brass. Inside lay three sets of armor, almost identical, the same size and style- only the scratches differentiated them. They all looked as old as the wooden box. She grabbed one set, then her swords and sheild from the wall where they lay secured. A folded padded gambeson got snatched from a drawer. 

 

“What’s a Gloomweaver?” She asked as she stepped into the little bathroom to throw on her things.

 

“That cultist cell you and Writhe stopped? It’s their god. Small g. Deities like it are powerful but not unstoppable. Domain of Rot and Undeath. Currently possessing the corpse of a super powered serial killer, so it’ll be fun. Hah. 7 minutes.”

 

“Oh good,” Alain said from the bathroom, over the clank of metal and the rustle of cloth. “At least we have a chance to cut off the head and all. Anyone else coming?” 

 

She was rumpled and still fastening a gauntlet, but fully dressed beyond that with four minutes to go. In armor she looks… taller, stronger, broad of shoulder, the silver of her sword gleaming as she finished with her glove and sheathed them on her back.

 

Tachyon nodded as Alain came out of the bathroom, and held out a hand. “One other precision person, Mr. Fixer. Lucky break it was him and not Setback.” Tachyon grimaced. “Teleporting is really nasty on the stomach, so you know. Ready?”

 

Alain nodded, taking the hand, and was grateful for a light lunch as she braced herself.

 

And then the two women disappeared in a shimmer of light…

 

The Block

Teleporting sucks. Teleporting into a possible Warzone is worse. Legacy was sweating, not the perfect specimens of heroes, but a man under stress and fire. Char marks were on his suit, and there were unconscious guards, zombies, and hooded men and women all around the Teleport pad. Luckily, reinforcements were arriving, appearing in a shimmer of rainbow light. It had been one hell of a fifteen minutes holding the teleport pad while Tachyon found reinforcements.

 

Tachyon quickly and professionally vomited to the side right after she appeared, before whirring next to Legacy and accessing the computers. Klaxon’s blared and red emergency lighting was active, as well as a very useless automated command saying “All inmates, remain in your cells until the emergency is over.”

 

“Tachyon, Knight, good to see you. We’re going into Lockdown now, you’re the last ones in or out until we get this under control.” He pushed a few buttons on the control pad, and the entire humming machinery went down, the teleport pad’s lights going dark. Alain vomited as well, after trying to fight the effects but losing. She heaved hard, then spat with a grimace at the taste. Tachyon looked sympathetic for a moment over the monitor, “Teleport does it to everyone, sorry.” Her fingers were a blur over the keyboard, as the program on the monitor attempted to keep up. “At least my helmet wasn’t on,” said Alain wryly, as she gave a thumbs up to Tachyon.

 

Legacy took a deep breath as he helped Alain gather herself, “Fixer went ahead; the lockdown wasn’t complete. Scouting and-“ 

“Is here.” A tall, fit black man in his early sixties appeared by the door, silent as the grave. His blue hat was pulled low over his eyes, almost completely covering them. In one hand is a stun baton and the other had blood seeping from the wrapped knuckles. “Warden’s keeping some of the minimum security wings out of trouble, but Gloomy managed to get maybe 90% of his people out. Sent a… wrench in the works to keep him occupied.” The older man grinned at Legacy, who looked confused, but shrugged. Soot covered the front half of his mechanics uniform, and a few gashes were along his arms. His wrapped knuckles, however, were covered in blood, both his and others, it looked like.

 

Tachyon’s eyes widened a bit, and she scowled at Fixer, looking up from her monitor. “You better hope you know what you’re doing, Fixer.”

 

“I do. Trust me.” Tachyon snorted at the quiet confidence of the other man. Legacy looked at Alain and shrugged, who shrugged back. Tachyon checked her goggles, and shook her head. “Not like we have time to argue anyway. The dead are rising while Gloomweaver is trying to escape. More people are going to die if we don’t get moving. We’ll make our way to the artifact, your wrench should be able to keep Gloomweaver from escaping for now, but we need to make sure we don’t get overwhelmed by cultists and Zombies. Legacy, standard sweep and clear.” Fixer nodded, serious business, as Alain tried to keep up. But Tachyon was already gone, whizzing through the door with a rush. 

 

“Young lady. Ready for a fight?“ Fixer approached, offering her an easy going smile. Alain nodded, gripping her sword and shield, taking up position behind Legacy as the super human battering Ram chatted quietly over the radio with Tachyon. They started running down the halls of the Block, dispatching a cultist here and zombie there. Legacy was the Ram, smashing down and setting up Fixer or Knight to finish them off with a quick strike if it was a zombie, or a bash to the head if it was human. 

 

“Hey, um, sir. Do-  don’t you need something more than that? I’ve got a swo-“ Fixer reacted in the space of a moment, as two cultists wielding knives jumped out of a hallway. He didn’t even look at the two, one woman and one man, as he punched one in the solar plexus, the other in the throat. They both went down wheezing, and he finished the motion with a swift round house kick. “Ord…? Fixer looked down at the baton, it had started breaking after the last zombie, then shrugged. “Oh, this. Zombie didn’t need it. I’ll find something that works as we go.” He tossed the baton aside, nonchalantly. He wasn’t even breathing very hard even though it felt like they’ve been running near full speed for twenty minutes, and the two cultists that had attacked him had been put down in the matter of half a word.

 

“Wow… never mind, then,” Alain half muttered to herself in respectful awe.

 

Every so often Tachyon blurred by in a gust of wind, checking on them, and updating them at the speed of thought on where to go next, and it wasn’t happenstance that Alain noticed more than one cultist with a large bruise forming on their faces every so often. Eventually the call came over the radio, “Gloomweaver decided to consolidate. Whole shebang is in the mess hall. Fixer’s wrench is holding. Move quick.”

 

Alain saw it coming, but couldn’t react in time- she was half a step too far and two seconds too slow. Then she watched Mr. Fixer move like lightning as a zombie tried to sneakily lunge out at the man.  The older hero slid out of the zombie’s grasp as easily as an eel through water. He used the zombie’s own momentum against it, throwing it into a wall with a loud, wet thud. The man looked like he’d simply been turning a page in a book, rather than tossing a heavy armored guard turned undead killing machine. Instinct took over and Alain’s sword flashed as she took two steps forward and stabbed out, spearing the zombie in the head. She looked back to see Fixer nodding in what appeared to be approval? He was hard to read with that hat so low over his head.

 

“Smooth. A little delayed, but instincts are there. Keep practicing, you’ve got the talent for it,” he muttered as they kept moving. 

 

“Oh. I- thanks. I will,” she said, feeling strangely bashful. His sheer skill would be intimidating in someone else, but he was so self-assured and almost gentle in his calm demeanor that she didn’t feel put off. It was… inspiring, in a different way than Legacy. 

 

In short, he was cool.

 

It wasn’t long after that that the hair on Alain’s neck started rising, and she heard voices over the sound of combat. She froze for a moment and then gripped her sword tighter. 

 

“Last time I felt like this, the Oblivion Nail was around,” she said darkly. “Let’s be careful.”

 

 Legacy stopped in the doorway to the next area, and swore, actually swore, and looked back to Fixer. “We’re going to talk about *this* later, Fixer.”

 

In the main mess hall was chaos. Cultists were firing blasts of energy as Tachyon blurred around them, knocking one or two down. Zombies clumsily tried to catch her, but what they couldn’t do in speed, they did in numbers. 

All this was happening while, hovering two feet in the air with sheer magic power, was the physical presence of a god, Gloomweaver, muttering and casting spells almost as fast as Tachyon could move. But what was occupying his attention was not the speedster, or Legacy, or Fixer. It was someone that Alain had not expected at all. 

A reptilian alien was in the middle of the room, moving a glowing orange axe in slow, lazy sweeps as he spoke in an alien tongue, countering and casting spells to effectively lock down the manifested monster. Encased in armor, and with numerous alien relics at his belt, the alien mage knight held back the onslaught of dark magic, albeit barely. 

 

Alain didn’t stare for long, however, as a cultist had managed to sneak away from Tachyon, and raised a hand to blast armored magic user in the back. In nigh tandem hits, Fixer went high, while Alain went low just a hair behind him, slamming the Cultist into unconsciousness as the shield broke legs and Fixer’s fist probably broke the man’s jaw. The eight foot tall alien glanced back at the two of them, and nodded once in acknowledgement before turning back to the possessed corpse, just as a burning wave of energy pierced the shield, causing the alien to crumple and slide across the concrete floor. The silver and black armor seemed to take most of the blow, as it sat up, fury burning in the red reptilian eyes.

 

“Who is… that?” Alain asked, bewildered as she held her shield up for any further blasts, but looking to Legacy, Tachyon, and Fixer. She took a position to guard even as she did. Fixer started, “He’s-“ Tachyon interrupted. “He’s the Deadline. Or Lifeline, now. Legacy, what’s done is done, and honestly we need some magic backup.” Fixer grunted agreement as he spun a zombie’s head around with a single punch, and Legacy gritted his teeth, then inhaled, exhaled, and sighed. Alain went pale. This… this was the alien mass murderer she’d seen about in the news when she was younger, an orchestrator of calamities all by himself, responsible for the deaths of thousands. He was the kind of prisoner the Block was designed for- yet here he was, armed and dangerous and… fighting with them?

 

No wonder Legacy looked pained. If he turned on them and sided with the would-be ascendant god, they’d have REAL problems.


“ENOUGH! ENOUGH OF THESE PETTY DISTRACTIONS.” Gloomweaver boomed. Dark magic pulsed around him, eerie noises and almost whispers heard not with the ears. “YOU ARE BUT GNATS BEFORE ME. I AM A GOD, AND-” 

 

“Legacy, go high!” Tachyon interrupted, tossing a large satchel of clattering… something into the air, as a cultist reached out with an ineffective “No!”

Legacy flew, and with a roundhouse punch that could level a small building, hit the bag. Instead of shattering like a normal bag would, green cracks of magic formed around the satchel, whatever wards around it shattered by the sheer might. Not without cost, however, as Legacy shouted in pain and held his fist, green flame crackling and fading around a charred hand.

 

The bag fell towards Mr. Fixer, who threw a swift straight kick that… shone like the sun? And knocked the bag back into the air, towards Alain. The bag was smoking, but still whole, as she flicked her wrist and swung upward at an angle slicing apart the thick leather. Bleached white bones fell in a clatter, as a vortex of wind from Tachyon scattered the bones across the field, some almost seemingly spitefully smacking a few cultists in the face. There was a sharp pop in the air, and a shimmering field of sickly green around the furious god appeared, then broke apart like a bubble. 

 

“NO!” screamed Gloomweaver in frustration, and his cultists cowered in fright at their god’s wrath. The Deadline smiled a vicious smile, showing numerous sharp teeth, and held a clawed hand out towards the enraged deity, wreathed in scarlet light. 

 

“Your protections are gone, beast. Harrow.” He swung the giant axe with two hands, carving the air, as lightning bursts of blood red energy snakes their way to the god. Scarlet bursts of energy shredded the physical form of the Gloomweaver, unraveling the physical containment. The god shrieked again, not in anger this time, but pain, and let loose a burst of green flame, blasting the heroes back into the walls, scorching them with unholy fire. Alain did a duck and cover with her shield, dropping to her knees and curling tightly behind it. Heat threatened to bake her inside the metal shell of her armor but guarding against fire was nothing new for Mormont metal. When the blast ceased, she was sweating profusely but unharmed.  The unraveling god tore open a blast door with a roar of rage (and fear?) and fled. The few cultists still standing fled after their god, while the remaining zombies fell like puppets with their strings cut.

 

“What was *that*?” Tachyon sternly asked the towering alien. She was already up and had zipped to Lifeline, who was just clambering to his feet. The reptilian alien finished getting up before responding, hand loosely on the axe that was larger than Alain. The Knight eyed it with professional curiosity. 

 

 “I severed the bindings that kept the corpse able to contain Gloomweaver’s essence. Essentially, he’ll start burning himself out without a suitable host.” Lifeline replied, the crocodile deep growl of his voice reverberating through the walls. “He won’t find one with the Lockdown in place. Eventually all of his power will be spent, and he can be banished or bound.”

 

Tachyon grimaced but nodded. “He’s desperate, though. He might try and do something stupid.” 

 

“Like… destroy everything around him along with himself?” Alain asked half-jokingly.

 

 Lifeline nodded, and Legacy did as well, cradling his burnt hand, though the flesh already seemed to be healing. “Gloomweaver is that sort of prideful.” Legacy commented, flexing his burnt hand.

 

“Oh. …Dang. I was kind of joking about the worst-case scenario.” Alain swallowed a nervous laugh, though she couldn’t help but pale a bit. Tachyon smiled and Fixer chuckled. “Welcome to the weirder leagues, kid.” He clapped a hand on her shoulder, smiling, then looked at the big alien. “But you have something that will hurry his dissolution along, don’t you, Lifeline.”

 

Lifeline blinked, his head fin twitching slightly in surprise. “I do.” He held up a small, softball shaped black metal ball inscribed with runes that glowed softly with scarlet light, fading and brightening gently every few seconds. Legacy and Tachyon blanched at the sight of it. 

 

“Where did yo- you can’t have that!” Legacy almost shouted. Lifeline looked at him almost balefully.

 

 “I had to avail myself of the armory and reclaim what was entrusted to me before assisting Mr. Fixer with his…” the alien looked at Fixer. 

 

“Monkey-Wrench,” the martial artist supplied helpfully.

 

“That. The Monkey Wrench plan.” Lifeline continued. 

 

Legacy bristled again, but Tachyon put a hand on his shoulder. They shared a look that spoke wordless volumes. Then she looked at the rest of the group. “Do we have a minute before we need to go after Gloomweaver?” Lifeline thought about it, then nodded. “Any sort of buildup I would sense. I believe he may be trying to restore his body before it completely comes apart, which is theoretically impossible. He doesn’t have enough loyal lives for the sacrifice to stave it off.” Tachyon nodded then pulled Legacy away, talking in hushed tones.

 

Lifeline looked at Mr. Fixer, who shrugged. They had a minute, apparently. The reptilian alien secured the strange round device on his belt carefully, and looked to get himself ready, gripping his axe and waiting.

 

Alain took off her helmet to mop sweat from her face. Black hair was askew and plastered with extortion to her flushed face, but she didn’t seem wiped- her breathing was deep but even and steadying even as she dumped half her water bottle over herself, then drank the other half in short order. 

 

She looked at Legacy and Tachyon, then to Mr. Fixer and his “monkey wrench”. 

 

After a moment of hesitation, she reached for her second water bottle, and went over to the alien. Maybe it was stupid, given his history, but… 

 

“…Lifeline now, right?” She asked, holding it out to him. “I’ve got a spare. Wearing my armor always makes me thirsty.” 

 

Legacy’s reaction was not unwarranted, or even irrational. What she knew of Deadline was terrifying- S class villain, world destroyer level of powers. But he was here now, and a nominal ally at least until Gloomweaver was defeated. 

 

(She thought of Tango.) 

 

Lifeline looked down at her, red eyes staring, then accepted the water bottle with a guttural growl and hiss that was reminiscent of alligators and crocodiles again, then switched to English. “Thank you. The Terminarch did their best when crafting this but… it does get warm.” He admitted quietly, then took a drink of the water. “You are… the Knight, yes?”

 

She was proud of herself for not twitching at the growl before he switched to a language she knew. “Fair Knight. Knight is fine, though,” she said. Alain hesitated, then added, “I, ah, nice ax. Did you make it?”

 

Lifeline shook his head. “I am… I do not create. A friend made this. The last and best artificer of his people. He entrusted it to me, shamed though I was in abusing his creations before.”

 

The ax thrummed as if alive, responding. Heat wafted off the axe head, consistent, but not at all damaging the metal, it appeared, or causing any kind of structural change.

 

“He must’ve been very talented,” Alain said, with a bit of a smile as she relaxed a little, catching her second wind. “My family does smithing, and while I’m sure some techniques are alien and don’t translate, the quality of the workmanship is clear.” 

 

She checked her shield briefly for damage and nodded when she found none. As she did, she spoke again. “…Whatever happened before, kicking Gloomweaver’s ass is probably something he’d be happy his work was used for. Damn cultists. You use… magic too?”

 

Lifeline peers at Knight for a moment, then nods slightly, as if deciding something. “Magic is the best term for it. The… manipulation of energies unseen, yes. Mine is of destruction and rending.”

 

“Well, those’ll come in handy when we catch up to Gloomweaver.” While Alain wasn’t precisely comfortable, she seems to be making an effort to be friendly. She deliberately doesn’t think about those magicks used against her, or Legacy, or other heroes…. Or worse, civilians. Only the worst of the worst went to the Block. “Just lemme know if you need- well.” She stopped, looking up. She wasn’t a small woman, but he was eight feet of muscular lizard-alien in space alloy armor. “…You probably don’t need cover to do magic stuff, actually, haha.” Alain rubbed the back of her head a little, sheepish. “With your kinda gear and all. Nevermind, sorry.”

 

Lifeline nodded hesitantly, lapsing into silence rather than responding. 

 

…Awkward silence. But then, it wasn’t a bad one, necessarily. Nevertheless, when Legacy and Tachyon returned after the minute was up, both looking at Lifeline, Alain perked up. “Will that kill Gloomweaver?” Lifeline considered. “It will hurt him, at the very least.” Tachyon nodded and shared a look with Legacy. Legacy grimaced again and nodded. “All right, let’s go.” 

 

Mr. Fixer picked up a bent piece of twisted steel, and nodded to Legacy, as Alain nodded, putting on her helmet. Lifeline followed the group to the hallway. Magic, free and wild, coruscated up and down the hall, mild illusions that vanished just as they appeared. The air smelt of ozone and sulfur and rusted iron, the group of five came across a mob of cultists, the last remaining awake or alive of the vast following Gloomweaver had procured. And with all the sense of a mob, one of them shouted “Get them!” 

 

The scrum was violent and chaotic. Tachyon moved faster than the rest, avoiding and taking out many, while Legacy flew into the thickest parts, scattering cultists like bowling pins. Mr. Fixer was the scalpel, precise throws, strikes, and disabling hits to cultists leaving them reeling in pain, but alive. Alain’s own style was a mix of brutality and precision with the sword, working in between the others, but Lifeline was… Pure brutality. Broken bodies were in his wake, each sweep of his ax broke people. Limbs were seared nearly off, and some of the cultists simply came apart as scarlet energy burrowed inside their flesh. 

 

Soon fear of the heroes and their fate pushed the cultists back, more than the fear of their god. A familiar looking cultist, at least to Alain, opened a book bound in fine, pale leather. Curses began whispering out as the cultist shouted, and Gloomweaver appeared in his full manifestation. Unholy fire burned the last vestiges of the corpse he’d possessed and launched a blast of flame down the hallway.

“The book is the power and knowledge of curses! Destroy it!” roared Lifeline. The unlikely quintet surged forward as Lifeline countered a number of the curses that flew out from the cultist. Gloomweaver screamed in rage as more infernal fire flew out, “I AM DIVINE AND BEYOND YOU ALL! YOU WILL ALL ROT AND DIE SCREAMING MY NAME, BEGGING FOR MERCY THAT WILL BE DENIED!” Flames scorched not only the heroes, but his cultists as the god was beginning to melt down, physically as well as mentally. She could feel the leather fittings of her armor curling in the heat, despite the protective oil she religiously applied, but they were holding despite the assault. 

 

Mr. Fixer wove through the cultists, but the heat and flames were scorching the ‘merely’ mortal martial artist and tossed one cultist at the Curse Tossing leader. A hastily flung burst of curse magic diverted the hapless cultist, and into a storage closet of various tools and weapons. Mr. Fixer raised an eyebrow underneath his large hat, then yelled, “Tachyon! We’ve got a surprise!”

 

Tachyon zipped over, moving so quickly now that bright yellow sparks of energy were crawling over her suit. “What’sthisohexcellentgivemetwoshakes!” Her hands were blurs over the devices, assembling a tank and gun at rapid speed. Suddenly, Mr. Fixer and Tachyon were equipped with large tank fed… spray guns? 

 

“LegacyKnightLifelinewithdraw!SprayNPray!!” The other three listened, thankfully, Lifeline the slowest to lumber out of the way as Mr. Fixer and Tachyon opened up. Mr. Fixer let loose a wide torrent of foam, while tachyon sped through the lines, releasing controlled bursts of foam to seal up cultists. Alain sheathed her sword in a fluid movement and one-handed followed suit, shield up to guard them both, careful not to hit Lifeline. In moments the entire throng was covered in sticky, fast hardening foam. Fixer and Tachyon hit the Rotting god with the foam as well, but the flames consuming his form ate hungrily at the foam. 

 

“I WILL NOT BE HELD BY YOUR SCIENCE! I AM THE DESTINY OF THIS PATHETIC UNI-“ Legacy rocketed past the now trapped cultists, screaming jet engine speed, to deliver a vicious flying punch straight to Gloomweaver’s jaw, interrupting his rant. The god snarled in rage as he pressed his claw against Legacy’s chest, howling “BURN YOU PATHETIC WRETCH!”

 

The blast sent Legacy rocketing back the way he’d come almost as fast, but as Legacy was sent flying, Lifeline and Knight approached the trapped Curse Throwing cultist. In trying to shield himself from the foam, he had gotten his hands trapped together and dropped the book of curses. He whimpered in terror as Lifeline raised the ax high, but Alain moved more quickly, slamming her shield out into the cultist’s head, knocking him silly. He dropped like a sack of potatoes. Lifeline grunted and pivoted his swing, the ax slashing the book into two pieces, the paper curling and burning from the sheer heat of the blade. He wrenched the blade out of the book, and dismissively kicked it away.

 

The massive following finally dealt with, Gloomweaver started backing up, screaming curses and flinging unholy flames and magical energy blasts. Tachyon moved in a cyclone around him, hitting him with machine gun punches. Legacy came again, relentless, flying a few feet off the ground to be of height with the god, throwing punches and guarding against claws and flames. Mr. Fixer tossed aside his foam gun and darted forward to Knight’s side. “Help me with the knees, kid. I’ll take left, you, right,” and sped away, lancing toward his target. Alain nodded and built up speed as well. Two waves of flame crashed towards them, Legacy not able to block it, but Mr. Fixer simply leapt over it, his overalls mildly singed. Alain’s eyes narrowed. She brought her shield up and charged forward into the fire. She held her breath so not to seat her lungs and, shield leading, broke through the oppressive heat with a gasp for cool air. 

 

There he was. And now-!

 

Fixer paused at Gloomweaver’s side, studying the anatomy of a god for a moment, as Alain came charging in, silver armor shedding licks of flame as she broke through the wall of fire. She whipped her sword towards the back of the god’s knee. Fixer lashed out with a kick, timing it with Alain’s sword slash, and there was a sharp crack of breaking bone as light exploded from Fixer’s kick. Razor edged steel cut through hideously tough flesh, bit through tendons and ligaments, and came out the other side, cutting half through the entire knee. 

 

Gloomweaver screamed, a god made to feel agony. He fell to his ruined knees, flailing, screaming insults and trying to catch each of the heroes with his claws. Legacy slid around him, arms wrapping around the god’s neck, holding him in a headlock, pushing his feet against the deity’s lower back. Mr. Fixer and Alain reacted similarly, grabbing onto Gloomweaver’s arms, trying to pin them. She left her sword where it was for the moment. 

 

“Now, Lifeline!” Shouted Tachyon as she skidded to a stop, attempting to lend her own strength to holding the god. Alain looked up from her effort to see that Lifeline had not been idle. The big alien was burning just like Gloomweaver, from the inside out, but the round device that had been blinking slowly was absorbing all the energy he was putting out, blinking more and more rapidly. The concentration of magical energy was greater than any of the artifacts that Alain had felt before. There was a high-pitched whine issuing from the small device, felt in her teeth like nails in a chalkboard. 

 

Lifeline strode forward, making a fist around the weapon, and punched the device into Gloomweaver’s mouth and down towards the god’s throat.

 

“Eat it.” Using his other hand, he swung the small spiked side of the ax up, clocking Gloomweaver in the jaw. The device disappeared down Gloomweaver’s throat. As soon as it was gone, Lifeline threw himself away from the god. “Get clear!”

 

Everyone dove away- even before Lifeline’s call, it was pretty obvious that something very bad was going to happen. Gloomweaver clawed at his chest, trying to find the device, and then shrieked as liquid fire, bright blue tinged with scarlet, began pouring out of his eyes and mouth. Ashes began wafting off of him, dissipating rapidly in the air as the god’s body began breaking down, the deific energy immolating. Pieces of him began charring, and breaking off, as his claws fell off his body. The tail of the god withered and fell away into chunks, the rest of the form turning black and sooty.

 

Gloomweaver struggled to his feet, “THIS CANNOT BE! IT WILL NOT BE! I AM INVI-“ and took a step forward. His leg crumbled to ash, then the rest of him crashed into pieces, no chunk larger than a finger remaining. Among the dust, the small device lay there, untouched by the energies it had been surrounded by. Blinking a slow, almost lazy, cool blue.

 

Alain’s sword, clattering to the ground, was loud in the sudden stunned silence. 

 

“Gods talk too much,” grumbled Lifeline.

Author Razas
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