Armageddon – 4.05

The Deus Ex was thrown down towards the Martian world by a blue pillar of light.

Sebastian hovered further from the world, looking on the armada below. He’d just barely arrived as the warships turned on Caritas. Just in time to knock Aku hurtling planetward. His helmet folded down, hiding away a look of resolution. He dove after them.

Aku recovered in low orbit, generating enough power to pull up and away from the scarred surface beneath them. They wouldn’t allow themselves to touch the ground.

They thought at the speed of light, but their power, pulled from across the universe, had a limited flow. They had managed to rise enough to finish off Caritas when again a blast of light came down.

Aku dodged this time. They scanned the sky, dipping to fly low now over the nighttime valleys. They searched for Sebastian, they knew he was somewhere. Again, the pillar of blue light came down, this attack glancing off the surface of the sphere and boring into rock.

The dark surface of the sphere emanated a signal which could reorder reality. They vibrated the air like they’d vibrated magma into Taggart’s skull. Across the entire planet, they called, “come out. Sebastian, come out. I can take away the pain.”

They sensed hundreds of square miles beginning to shine brightly. They couldn’t dodge this one. The light seared away part of the world with Aku on it, the energy forcing them down into the suddenly liquefied planet-side.

Sebastian couldn’t give his attention to the warships blasting each other apart in his peripheral vision. His eyes closed, he listened for the motion of the Deus Ex disturbing reality. As they moved, he sent down blasts from his hands. He needed to keep it pinned down, down on this uninhabited side of the world. In the distance, Eidolons fought for their life against waves of drones.

No, can’t think about that. I must focus, he remembered.

Sebastian had lost the position of the Deus Ex Machina.

The was a black spot moving across the stars beyond him, he saw. Too fast to track with his head, he couldn’t pin it down.

“What’s your suit made of?” Sebastian heard, coming through his radio.

“Mistrust and paranoia,” he answered. “Your manipulation won’t work on me. In space, there’s nothing to manipulate against me, either.”

“I’m not so sure, Sebastian.”

Phobos, he realized.

The largest Martian moon was hurtling towards him. It flew into view, his suit giving him no heads up. He was flying by sight alone, and he’d not seen it coming.

Sebastian jetted in the opposite direction, not trying to outrun it, but trying to lessen his impact. The moment the dark rock of Phobos met him, the moon exploded, violently fracturing in a storm of fire.

O

Porter had seen Aku knocked from their view. He looked back to Wanda, asking, “how much time do you need?!”

“For the whole fleet or just this ship?” she replied.

Wong answered her. “Just this ship. Now.”

That was murder. The Caritas had the greatest weaponry, but with Taggart gone, they were losing control of almost every ship. It’d be carnage.

Wanda wasn’t moving, she looked to Porter. He could only nod.

“Then it won’t be long,” she said, grimacing and ducking her head back down to work.

Suddenly, the ship began to groan and shutter. An Eidolon shouted, “We’re taking a volley!”

“Are the shields fully operational?” Wong asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“Then we can hold.”

Porter briefly looked back at the body of Taggart. He caught Wong’s eyes. “The shields won’t stop Aku,” he said. “If the Sentinel can’t win out there, and he can’t, then Aku can turn us to rubble with a thought. We’re not a closed system.”

“Go if you must,” Wong told him. “I can think of no use for you here, Porter.”

He nodded. “Okay.” Porter turned and sprinted for the airlock.

This was it, there was no second part to this fight. Daniel was dead, Caritas was taking a beating, and so would Sebastian be.

It’s time to face Aku.

O

Aku searched the fragments of Phobos for the body of Sebastian.

The force should have killed him, they thought. His suit is a perfectly closed system. This is why we can’t unmake him. No, the energy won’t have reached him, only the inertia. Not enough!

Had to find him. No. Not necessary. Can’t become distracted.

He will come to me.

Aku’s focus turned merrily to the sitting duck that was the Caritas. They had only a moment to think and decide what would be most appropriate. What was most poetic!

Implosion?

Aku began to scan the atomic structure, formulating the signal which would turn them inside out. Only then, out of nowhere Sebastian impacted the side of the sphere.

He hit and pushed, forcing Aku back and ruining their calculations.

The orb twisted, throwing Sebastian off its face. The silver figure blasted his jets to recover and come back around.

While Aku was watching them, in the opposite direction, an airlock burst, jettisoning a small blue man into space.

The future is given to us. They can’t stand against us!

The black surface of the dark moon spit out red beams. Their power, dredged out from underneath space, generated fire in every direction. Glorious, meaningful destruction, as stray beams took down both warship and the moon Deimos from the sky.

But not Sebastian. He was unhurt, maneuvering too quickly. He was coming back around. Just as he was a golden haze enwrapped Porter, who began to fly forward with his sword outstretched.

The Man,” Aku heard. The smooth sound of Christopher’s voice in their head. “You’ve got to beat him for this to work, child.”

“Easily,” they assured.

Aku turned their full attention of Porter, a red light visible from the Martian surface forming in front of them. An impenetrable wall rushing to meet him.

Porter saw it coming. He opened his mouth. “Blood and iron!” he bellowed. He cut through the wall of fire, parting and scattering it.

Aku launched another as he got closer.

His control of metaphysics is alike the Primordial, they realized.

Aku tried to back up, dodging Porter’s oncoming strike, but they found Sebastian at their back. He hit and his jets spit white fire, digging deep into his reserves.

They were pinned.

Aku emitted a field of hydrogen across their surface. The last effort. They split every atom. Porter disappeared, punching through into the fire. The explosion spread out. It was like a second sun in the sky, to the world below.

When it had finally cleared, Aku couldn’t find Porter. But, they found Sebastian drifting, his silver suit scorched, in the vacuum.

Where was Porter?

O

“Turn the ship about,” Wong ordered. “Let us return fire!”

Wanda had finished the rune. She fell back on her ass, putting a hand on her head. Staring at the symbol, unable to decide if she’d done everything right.

Wong stood above her. He swept up his hand, summoning with a gesture his holographic controls. They began to turn as their cannons tore through the other warships.

The black moon came into view and it was idling.

“Sir!?” someone shouted.

Before he could respond, the Caritas rocked and bucked. Wong had to shift his feet as others were thrown to the ground. He knew, “We’ve been rammed!” He assessed the damage on his monitors. Pressure lost on several decks. “I want my squadrons deployed!” he roared. “All free hands to the hangar bay, go!”

O

In the bay, ten Eidolons were mounting their ships in unison. Brice, at the front, brought up his helmet and activated the seal as he lowered himself down. His gunner, Friedrich, sat in just after him. The hatch came down.

“No AI assistance, gentlemen,” Brice said over the radio.

His four men sounded in. “Check.” “Check.” “Check.” “Check. No problem.”

“Well, alright. Let’s go, then.”

The shuttle bay doors flew back, folding wide open. Each fighter’s landing gear retracted as their jets blasted off, seamlessly taking them from the ground forward into space. In formation, they raced out. The deafening silence filled Brice’s ears as all his focus poured into his eyes, racing across the technicolor hell fire. Cannon shots between Caritas and the rest of the fleet made a field of chaos. They sped into that storm.

“Break off, Donald, Rachel, target where the shields part by the cannon mouths.”

“Got it!”

“Copy.”

The remaining three of them circled around the Caritas. They saw where one of the warships had lodged into the side and continued to thrust, throwing off their guns. Their shields were down, however.

They moved in, using a rain of bullets to tear apart the head of that ship. It was quick work. Brice didn’t abort as he dove in towards the ship. With the structure weakened, he diverted all power to their shields. They hit and tore through like it was nothing.

He saw flashes of dead Eidolons in the dark ship, some torn apart by their shots.

“Fuck,” he swore. “Seth, Gregory?”

“Yeah?”

“I hear you.”

“Defend the Caritas. I’m going in to help Master Porter.”

“Not advised,” Seth responded.

“Friedrich?” Brice asked.

“I’m with you, brother.”

Brice radioed, “We’re doing it.”

They broke off from the massive fight, dodging shots thrown at them. He could barely make out the black spot in space, the Deus Ex, menacing over the carnage.

Their ship passed a silver body floating limply.

Brice kept his focus as they drew close. Porter wasn’t anywhere.

As they strafed the orb, it began to move. Brice circled back around, telling Friedrich to ready his fire. All at once, the Deus Ex began to dive down towards the Caritas.

They were going to ram it.

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