Chapter 138: Army of Two
“It looks like you’ve been hiding a lot from us, Professor Wang! We had an emperor-class mecha pilot teaching dance at our school, right under our noses. Who’d have imagined.” Lan Jue’s easy, flippant face appeared in Idoloclast’s cockpit.
Wang Hongyuan’s response was less friendly. “And you’ve been totally forthcoming? At any rate I’m teaching something that actually has some use, something I can’t say for your ‘etiquette’ class. And this mecha, what, god-class?”
Lan Jue chortled. “You make it tough to like you, but no matter what if we can bring things in line here I’ll count you as a friend. Let’s move out!” As he said so, a sweeping blue light shot out from Thor’s head in to the distance.
“Acquiring radar detection information.” A metallic voice once more called to Wang Hongyuan. He immediately began the data download.
The main screen flashed to life with the wide-area probe results. The situation as it was, Wang Hongyuan couldn’t spare the time to keep marveling at Thor’s capabilities, though they weren’t lost on him. He focused on the numerous magenta spots that dotted the screen. How many were there? At least a thousand, according to Thor’s long-range scanners.
“Don’t separate farther than one kilometer. If we want to help others, we have to make sure to protect ourselves first.” Lan Jue’s easy voice had turned serious by this point. Suddenly, Thor was off like a lightning bolt towards the nearest target.
“Got it.” Idoloclast was then hot on Thor’s heels. His mecha had been built to mirror his own abilities, so speed was it’s forte. With a flash it was racing through the sky towards another nearby enemy.
A small team of tourists were racing through the forests, and between them were rifle-toting soldiers firing wildly in to the trees. A seven-meter long monstrosity oozing that caustic mist bounded after them.
This particular beast could be likened to a toad. A giant, murderous toad. Numerous purple spines ridged it’s back, and the path behind them was littered with soldiers who’d been impaled by the barbs – which could be fired off like projectiles. There their corpses would remain, pinned to the forest floor.
“Go, go!” A sublieutenant hollered at the others, urging them to make their retreat. Of his eight remaining soldiers, three were burdened with civilians slung over their back, slowing them down. One child and two women.
“Laosan, Qianzi, come with me and bring up the rear. Everyone else keep it moving.” The commander glared at the beast as it drew nearer. His jaw tightened.
“Sir, let me stay behind.” A young man, looking a week out of puberty called out to volunteer.
“Stop talking nonsense. Get out of here. That’s an order.” The lieutenant shoved at him with the butt of his rifle, causing the young man to stagger backwards. Then, he smiled at him, flashing a set of white teeth.
With that he turned, and scrambled up a tree. He clambered to the lower branches and pulled the laser rifle from his shoulder. Slowly, calmly, he aimed towards he approaching beast.
Just then, a dazzling bolt of blue light came crashing to earth, followed by a peal of thunder. The toad-monster felt it, and turned to look. It hopped around, opened it’s massive mouth and belched. A violet photosphere shot from it’s maw towards the light.
A dispassionate grunt sounded from the light, and then it vanished. For a moment, it was as though time stood still. Then, not far away, there came a violent howl like an oncoming train.
A column of sapphire light barreled through the forest and completely devoured the toad. The ensuing blast of air nearly knocked the lieutenant from his tree.
He winced against the blast then looked again. A tall, dazzling mecha stood where there hadn’t been one before. The verdant green trees rustled around it’s imposing, azure figure. It was an image that would forever be imprinted on the soldier’s heart.
“Mecha? What’s a mecha doing here?” The other two soldiers standing rear guard couldn’t help but shout out in surprise.
It took a moment for the lieutenant to regain some semblance of stability. His own eyes watched with joy and excitement at the new circumstance. He didn’t care where the thing had come from, because it had come just in time to save all their lives. Whoever they were he knew they’d help, because only a human could command a mecha. He knew this majestic machine was going to help them get out alive.
The surrounding vegetation had been pulverized, like it’d be hit with a road roller. The devastation stopped just before the three soldiers.
“Lieutenant, what is the current status of Taihua, I need information.” The commanding voice wafted towards them from the mecha.
“It’s damn good you came, pilot!” The team leader scrambled to his feet on the tree limb and snapped a salute.
“According to our most recent satellite images, a large host of unidentified creatures have landed all over Taihua. They’re hostile, and ooze some sort of corrosive mist that kills everything it touches. Plant or animal, nothing lives once one of these things gets to you. The area we’re in now has a higher concentration. If you can, help defend the closest encampment. We need their airship to get the survivors out of here.”
“Alright, got it. You three make for evac.” The mecha was off again, like a bolt towards the sky and off in search of it’s next objective.
Were one to look on from overhead, they would see two figures dancing through the sky; a shimmering blue gem, and a crimson red shadow. They raced through the forests, and where they landed another magenta monster was exterminated.
“These things are strong, but nothing we can’t handle, Professor Lan. But there seems to be more and more of them cropping up. At this rate the encampment will be surrounded before long.”
“You’re right, they just keep coming. How’s your mecha’s energy capacitors?”
“Sixty-one percent. No problem for the moment.”
“Alright, then we keep fighting. Make sure not to get that mist on your machine.”
“Rooooaaggh!” Their exchange was interrupted when an earth-rumbling howl filled the air around them. Thor turned towards the origin of the sound. What Lan Jue saw made his pupils contract.
Another monster stood among the trees. Or, more accurately, far above them, for this one rose a hundred meters in to the air. It looked almost prehistoric, a Tyrannosaurus. But there were differences, like the dozen or so hideous eyes that dotted it’s head. It’s body looked like it was slapped together with chunks of rotten meat. Like the others, this one released an intensely thick violet mist. With it’s heaven-shaking roar, more of the caustic fumes had been spat forth. In the blink of an eye everything within five hundred meters of the beast turned dark and rotted away.
Wang Hongyuan slammed a fist against the control panel. “I just finished saying there wasn’t anything to worry about, and then this thing shows up!”
“Leave this one to me,” Lan Jue replied. “Keep the encampment safe.” With that Thor launched itself high in to the air.
Coiling bolts of electricity surrounded Thor, filling the sky with flashes of azure light. Lan Jue’s own eyes flickered with electrical power. The previous engagements had relied entirely on Thor’s own A.I. combat parameters, but the energy fluctuations he sensed from this monstrosity far outstripped any of the beasts they’d faced so far. Lan Jue knew it was time to employ his own Discipline, and released it in to the mecha. Like this, Thor would be at peak effectiveness.
A dull pain throbbed within Lan Jue, but it wasn’t more than he could stand. Thor’s right arm rose.
White light mixed with blue, coagulating in to a familiar shape. A crackling bolt-shaped spear appeared in the mecha’s hand. Thor pointed towards it’s target, and the twenty-two meter tall mecha began to descend. As it tore through the air, gaining speed, twisting trails of light followed.
The behemoth certainly noticed Thor’s approach. It roared at the blue spec, and the dozen eyes on it’s head flashed with power. Twelve magenta bolts of energy fired from them, colliding with the flashing sapphire beam.
A violent blast shook the treetops as the powers clashed. A corona of light and wind roiled in the air overhead. Thor’s figure flashed, appearing outside the blast radius. The behemoth’s body began to shake
Lan Jue had seen the beast in it’s entirety, saw the massive tail it was dragging behind it. It supported it’s massive girth with six thick legs, and four clawed arms sprouted from it’s torso. From it’s back, hundred meter long wings began to spread outward. They beat furiously against the air, yanking the monstrous thing upward.
Thor remained still, hovering in the air. As the behemoth started to rise, a blue light shone from deep within the mecha. Threads of sapphire light emanated outward and wormed themselves around it.
Lan Jue’s own body radiated a powerful electric light. Since his battle against Archangel Michael, this was the first step in his battle plan. Thankfully, with Hua Li’s help, he’d already recovered to perhaps fifty percent. If not, he doubted he’d able to command his mecha, much less this level of power.
It wasn’t long before the entire mecha was covered in flashing electric light. From a distance, it must have looked like it was carved entirely of sapphire. On it’s back a golden thunderbolt shone. Overhead the sky grew black and heavy with clouds, pregnant with roaring bolts of lightning.
“Ugh!” Lan Jue coughed suddenly, splattering the cockpit with blood. Commanding this level of Thor’s power, manipulating weather phenomena… under normal conditions these weren’t easy tasks, but they were much more dangerous considering his injured state.
Bolt after bolt of electricity crashed down from the clouds, striking Thor. The mecha was like a lightning rod, devouring the electric powers as they covered it.
“Damn! Is this guy totally insane?” Wang Hongyuan stared in disbelief at the scene unfolding in the sky above him. The pride he’d felt earlier for Idoloclast seemed a whole lot less in this moment.