Unknown Dusk Moon, Shrine
They all gazed at the demon and its spawn, seeing the glowing eyes and stilled movement as they waited. Gideon’s stomach fluttered and lurched at the fight he had ahead of him. All of his combat training came to this. Adrenaline spiked as his heart rate machinegunned at the prospect of what laid ahead. He could spot the demon slightly towering above the crowd, scoffing at them. Deborah grounded him as she looked down at him.
“Are you ready?”
Gideon nodded, letting out a brief grunt as he readied his laser culverin.
Gideon stepped back in surprise as several Deborah’s stepped out of the original, all wielding laser culverins. There were six in total. The demon lazily strode in, completely sure of the situation. It seemed slow and ponderous, it didn’t need to waste energy moving at hypersonic speeds.
Deborah didn’t give it time to move as she dropped the portal. The six Deborah’s became thirty-two and flowed past in streaks of light, her wings flaring in the display as she populated the tall ceiling with angels. They all aimed and shot together, thirty-two laser culverins roaring in a deafening din supernova. The demon curled its wings around itself, taking the all of the lasers at once. The rest of the group hugged the wall, firing their own lasers into the demonkin that charged. Steak’s plasma blazer cuts an enormous swath of green flame into the crowd, turning them to instant fried dust. Pat’s cane flared up as they began to repair Steak.
Nanites! Gideon realized.
He let a laser round tear through five demonkin at once, smoldering them. He swept the barrel along the crowd and floor, charring the demonkin and blood to powdered ash.
17 demon kill 2 demon kill 1 demon kill 3 demon kill 4 demon kill
“Steak! Backup!” Pat ordered.
Its canes lit up, projecting a large energy shield. The demonkin smashed into it, forcing themselves to go around. Steak took advantage by gushing two long gouts of green flame on either side of the shield crisping the demonkin to ash. The shield buckled and shattered by the force of demonkin blows as they began to try to dogpile on Steak. Several demonkin slashed at the Excertius as he backed up, moving at a pace that Gideon didn’t expect the anform could move. His energy shields took the brunt as he blocked at the last second. Both shields crumpled under the impact of the strikes. More nanites flowed from Pat’s canes, blue light twinkling around Steak’s damaged chassis.
Gideon fired his culverin, cutting many of the demonkin into smoldering ash before they could cripple Steak. He twitched the oscillating laser culverin barrel left to right dismembering the demonkin at the necks. He felt his emotions had shut down, his instincts kicking in. He fired without mercy, thinking back to the holographic targets he shot down before in training.
His eyes went wide at the updates from his QSD.
121 demon kill
He ended over a hundred of them, yet more fell from the ceiling and walls to fill in the gaps. He swept the floor, clearing up the miasma blood before more could spawn. His energy shoulder cannon was working overtime, using one of his processes to control the shoulder cannon, pinging the demonkin with six round bursts. He was glad the suit was sealed, the miasma smoked and coiled, trying to get in.
Why isn’t the marble getting damaged?
He ushered the thought to the back of his mind as more demonkin advanced. He needed to cover for Steak.
“Many thanks, captain Gideon,” Steak complimented over comms.
Pat closed its shields as a huge swath of demonkin made its way to the shield wall. The pushing force of several hundred demonkin forced it over, with the tower shields covering it from the devastating cannon blows of the demonkin. Their strength was a complete mystery as their small forms should not have had any power behind it.
“Baxter, please assist,” Pat requested, calm under the fact that its tower shields were being ruined.
Baxter rushed in with a snarl, firing his own laser culverins with a roar, twitching the cannons left to right as they fired, cutting most of the demonkin horde in half at the waist. Baxter slammed into the group, slashing kicking and tearing with its energy powered teeth. Pat got back to its feet, ditching the shields and storing them, it then traded them for twin plasma blazers of his own, torching the area where Baxter’s fighting drew blood.
“Baxter, retreat,” Pat ordered.
Baxter lept back, firing into the running crowd.
“I am the best doggy!” Baxter barked with a snarl.
“Baxter, You are the only dog here,” Steak corrected as he slammed a demonkin.
His energy rifles were turning red due to the heat discharge. They fired six round bursts of concentrated energy bolts, ripping through the demonkin like a laser on ice.
Eight of the Deborah clones were cleansing the ceiling, as demonkin still dropped onto the party from above. The twenty-eight Deborahs continued firing their laser culverins into the demon, pinning it in place. The Elder demon began to resemble a sun at white-hot temperatures, its baritone bellowing was added to the din of chaos.
Gideon assisted Steak, protecting his flanks from the demonkin horde. He had to swap out his culverin twice now, as well as the shoulder mounted energy rifles. Steak looked worse, with much of his armor shredded on one side. Pat’s nanites were slowly rebuilding them, but each new swipe left more to repair.
Gideon leaned back from a swipe intended to disembowel him, he responded with a burst of energy rounds into the demonkin’s head, which traveled through its partner’s chest, and another’s legs. The demonkin dropped and began to turn to ash. He flung the laser culverin into another demonkin, knocking it over and tripping up those behind. He materialized another laser culverin, dematerializing the thrown culverin.
Gideon could sense Pat closing on them as well as Baxter. The demonkin were down to a few hundred as Deborah finished cleansing the walls and ceiling of Miasma. Gideon could see red beams cutting circles into the demonkin from above as the Deborah duplicates began assisting from above. Gideon was ankle deep in ash as it now billowed around like a sandstorm due to the heat convection. The demon was still curled up on the floor, letting out an unending bellow of agony as its body heated up to corona level temperatures. As Deborah’s culverin began to melt, another culverin was handed to her from a portal, replacing the melting culverin with a fresh one.
Holy shit, I’m amateur level here.
He was broken out of his thoughts as a Deborah appeared in front of him.
“The room is almost clear. The Elder is pinned down, but even this won’t keep him down for long. We’ll need everything you have. Explosives, ordnance, everything.”
Pat smashed a demonkin with its cane and burned the remains. Steak finished off the final thirty with the last of his plasma blazer, the fuel running close to dry. Gideon was thankful the shrine entrance was the only place to gather the miasma. The demon may have been underestimating them.
“Captain Gideon, we have solar bombs, we can place them around the demon and detonate them. That should do it. We will need to travel far and quickly. Deborah, can you manage that?” Steak advises and asks.
“I can. I kind of stalked you guys to your location…” Deborah began with a broken smile, “But that’s beside the point. I can do it.” Deborah explained sheepishly.
The Demon ceased his bellowing and stood, spreading it’s wings wide. The lasers continued to cut into it, but there appeared to be no damage inflicted. Gideon’s stomach dropped at seeing it stand casually. It was a glowing white hot gargoyle now, far past the melting point of most metals. It casually cracked its neck, staring at Gideon with two black pits. Blue pinpricks
“That was a good warm up. Now to dig in,” It spoke with a warm baritone and strode to Gideon, palm outward.
“Glowing one, I learned a few new tricks against you,” It said with a sad toothy grin.
Deborah stopped firing all at once and flew down to attack. As soon as the lasers stopped, the heat extinguished, the demon looking carbon black. Deborah flew atop the demon, dropping a forward axe kick to its skull and spinning away past it as if gravity had no sway. The demon turned to track her, only to receive several strikes to the gut from another copy, which the demon tried to ward off with swipes from its limbs and wings. The thirty-two Deborahs surround the demon and begin pummeling it, their long reach causing issues for the demon who attempted to counter-attack, but swiped at air as the target vanished with a snap. Every one of her strikes looked like it hit several times as she summoned more of her dimensional self at the last second. All of this took place within seconds, Gideon now began materializing solar bombs. He noticed they still glowed with a golden aura.
“Now enough play fighting. Where is your Throne, glowing one? Is it still lost?” The demon shot out, even in the midst of taking abuse it could still speak without effort.
“Foreshadowed Foresight,” It said, a third glowing eye opened on its forehead.
“I notice your arm isn’t doing so well. Let me fix that for you.” The demon taunted again.
This time Gideon saw it do the impossible. It swept its wings in and back, pushing the angel’s copies away from itself. It grabbed into the crowd, faster than the eye and caught the real Deborah by her bad arm, breaking it in half with a twist. Deborah shrieked a cry of agony, akin to a screeching of rubber and metal echoed through the shrine as she fell to her back, her other dimensional selves vanished.
The pain was too much for her as she continued to cry out, crawling away. The demon casually kicked her aside, the blow sent her to the far wall with a crack. Steak and Pat blocked the demon’s way in between it and Gideon.
“This is a good ability. After taking countless beatings from you, the rage and frustration granted me a prize,” The demon explained as Deborah rolled away from the wall she crashed into.
Baxter rushed at the demon, weapons blazing. The demon held up an arm casually as Baxter clamped down, the energized teeth burning into the flesh. Laser beams dazzled into the demon, charing the skin black. The demon’s eyes went wide as a grin grew. It flexed its forearm warping the jaw, and cracking the teeth. He slammed a hammered fisted down into the skull, smashing it. He flung Baxter inside with contempt, the Hind clattered against the floor.
“Baxter, NO!” Gideon cried out.
Gideon armed the solar bomb. He readied himself to blow the whole shrine. He wasn’t going to be taken alive.
“I gave you no permission to leave,” The demon retorted as it flew past Steak and Pat, slamming them with his wings and flinging them back.
It wrenched the bomb from Gideon’s armored hand, shattering his left hand and twisting it to a bad angle. The snapping of bone, the wrenching of tendon and flesh and the screech of stressed metal filled his ears. Gideon shrieked in agony and fear at how easily the party had fallen apart. The blast of pain crumpled Gideon as his vision turned white. He came to, with His QSD updating him to the damage as the pain relief was instantly felt. He crumpled to his knees, his suit locking.
Warning Wrist shattered Forearm shattered Shoulder dislocated Muscle tear detected Tendon tear detect Capsaiphine Administered Seek immediate medical attention
“Now now, just a little longer. You are lucky, at first, I was just going to devour you. But that changed. You will now be my vessel for greatness.” The demon gingerly grasped the armed solar bomb and proceeded to dismantle it in seconds in front of Gideon, dropping the parts to the ground.
The demon’s glowing third eye flared, it then pivoted on its haunch in a wild backhand of fist and wing behind himself, catching a suddenly appearing Deborah, slamming her to the wall where she finally went still. A pulse cannon round struck the demon’s head, the damage healing instantly. It gave an annoyed look at Steak, who was barely standing on one knee. The demon grabbed a small solar bomb part and flicked it at Steak, a thunder crack echoed through the ash covered shrine, a wind tunnel of ash spun around where flicked the part. The part punched through Steak’s head and into the wall behind him. Steak’s glowing lights shut down as he slowly dropped down like a chopped tree. Pat bull rushed the demon, slamming into him, causing him to slide slightly to the side. The demon casually grabbed at the arms locking his torso, tearing Pat’s arm off at the shoulders. He began beating the Anform to a crumpled wreck, Pat’s head collapsed from a blow. Pat shriek of protest as the demon used Pat’s own arm as a flail. Pat went silent still wit ha fizzle. The demon casually dropped the arm and strode towards Gideon with a bored yet satisfied sigh.
“Just for your knowledge, it wouldn’t have worked anyways.” The demon said with a grin.
Gideon looked away, wishing he took a swing at the demon.
“Now. Shall we begin the contract?” The demon materialized a paper scroll from black light, which he unraveled, showing Gideon the ancient paper.
“Your friends are perfectly alright, even the Glowing scum. I only need to get off this dead rock and show the galaxy my greatness.”
“You did want to be stronger, did you?”
“You mean a greatness where its just you at the top? Kiss my ass, asshole,” Gideon spat, the insult blunted from his tears and trembling.
Tears were flowing from his eyes, with the shock was beginning to set in. His body trembled, his locked up suit prevented him from total collapse. His hand and shoulder were in no small terms messed up.
“I sense something else about you, different than from before,” The demon ignored Gideon desperate chiding.
It gripped Gideon’s right hand, causing him to go stock still. Like being in the jaws of a predator.
“Good, you learn quickly who is the master,” The demon responded.
He began to unpeel Gideon’s armored glove like fruit, leaving the fresh flesh underneath unscathed. The scroll and pen float behind him.
“What is this?” The demon asked, genuinely confused.
He cocked his head at Gideon. His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed.
“Why do you have the name of The Unmentionable One burned into your hand. Who did this?” The demon asked. It cocked its head, the two blue burning pinpoints staring holes into Gideon.
Gideon saw no other chance to piss the demon off than this. Hopefully, it’ll kill him and be trapped here, going off of what it was describing. Right now Gideon saw no worse fate than being a demon’s slave. He fought back the trembling and tears, the terror and fear.
“Adonai gave me that symbol. He spoke to me and called me to be his champion. You can’t touch me, so go to hell. But go fuck yourself before you do!” Gideon shouted.
It was pretty bad, but hopefully it was enough. The demon looked deadpan at Gideon. It chuffed at him in derision. It then did something unexpected.
The demon guffawed.
Which wasn’t the reaction Gideon desired.
“How adorable! This is a truly fantastic day. Of all the people to land on this moon, it had to be you.”
The demon became serious as it raised a large index digit.
“I do sense that power. It is young and faint, but it is there,” The demon as it leaned in and glowered at Gideon, “Join in contract, and we’ll discover this together. Your friends will be safe and dropped off on any planet you wish…”
His grip tightened on his right hand, “and that planet will be left alone. Maybe you’ll surpass even me. You can still be The Unmentionable One’s champion, even,” The demon added.
It was a tempting offer, Gideon lives, his friends live on a planet of his choosing and Gideon gets a new hitchhiker. Gideon stared down in thought, partially to avoid the ancient gaze of the evil being in front of him. Gideon heard a familiar noise.
A tap clacking of doggy paws sounded against the hard marble floor.
Gideon’s eyes went wide as he saw the impossible. Baxter lept into the air and snatched the contract. The demon turned to see the noise, sensing no threat. The demon looked, mouth dropping in shock at seeing Baxter eat the contract in a single gulp.
“What have you done?” The demon said plainly and without emotion.
“You are very bad and I do not like you do not hurt Gideon I will fight you go away you are bad you are bad you are bad…” Baxter opened a torrent of barking at the demon, his words spilling out all at once.
“Baxter, run,” Gideon said hoarsely.
He was only still on his knees because he locked the power armor legs.
Baxter was inconsolable. His barking was a constant.
“Return it!” The demon ordered with a yell.
Something in his demeanor changed. He was no longer in control. The pen clattered to the ground. Baxter kept barking, hackles raised at the horror in front of them. The demon felt to his chest and groaned in pain as he fell to a knee, freeing Gideon from his stone grasp. It then clicked to Gideon. The demon’s contract wasn’t just paper, but part or all of its being.
“Please, return the contract. I will leave you all alone.” The demon began to plead.
Gideon noticed the grey hide was turning white, he suddenly looked thinner. He looked smaller. The demon broke out of its feint, turning to reach out to Gideon with a snarling face. Baxter rushed at the demon and lept atop him, biting at the nape of his neck.
The demon and Baxter collapsed into a black hole.
“Baxter!” Gideon shouted as tried to get up, only succeeding in falling over.
“Gideon…” A voice weakly called out.
It was Deborah. She was leaning up against the wall to her back, breath ragged.
“Gideon, he is OK. As long as he can win this fight, we’ll be OK.” Deborah said with a wheezing clarion, indicating rib damage from the blows she received.
“Shindow. Come in…” Gideon said with a cough.
“Gideon? Gideon! Where have you been, I couldn’t raise any of you!” Shindow spoke quickly over the comms.
“Shindow… We’re all down- we need the Ferrum here.”
Gideon was breathing heavily as he tried to get everything explained before he blacked out.
“But the Rumblers…” Shindow stated.
“I have a theory, just… trust me,” Gideon got out with a wheeze.
“Fly low, low enough… almost touching the ground. That can avoid their gaze,” Gideon advised.
He was breathing heavily. His head felt light.
“On my way,” Shindow said with worry in her voice.
Gideon gazed into the black hole the size of a person as he blacked out, hitting the ground with steel thrum.
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