Chapter 91: All Accounted, All is well
Though they were struggling to believe what they were seeing, neither Gabriel nor Raphael were interested in wagering their life to find the truth.
“Have you forgotten the Code of Chivalry?” Ke’er asked Gabriel with a sneer.
The Messenger of Death’s face reddened. “It was you three who were planning to interrupt the duel. We heard everything you were saying.”
“And what of it,” Lin Guoguo responded. “We aren’t knights. We’re ladies.”
The sentence caused both the Angels to almost gag.
Mika watched them both with devilish red eyes. “If you have a death wish, then try to get past us.”
Bang! The strange sound drew all five pair of eyes towards the source.
The two mechas, pressed tightly together, finally separated with a snap. One melted in to a beam of blue light and raced towards them. The second, tumbled inelegantly towards the ground.
“Go!” Gabriel and Raphael retreated, heading to ground. They knew it was Thor who sped towards them.
Thor hung mangled but triumphant in the sky. It’s former dazzling glory had paled as the damage to it’s surface was clear. The entire top half was largely unrecognizable. It’s internal components whirred and ground, revealed through deep gashes in Thor’s armor. Irregular jolts of electricity added a dramatic undercurrent to how poorly it looked.
However, the battle damage only increased it’s imposing presence. Now more than ever it looked the grizzled veteran. A gash of white lightning shimmered against it’s chest, with another on it’s back. It’s two mechanical eyes were as bright as when it appeared.
In the distance, the sound of the Angel of War impacting the ground wafted towards them. The angelic mecha looked much worse for wear, having suffered at least twice the damage than it’s opponent; half of it’s wings were missing, and it’s two arms were irreparably broken. It was lacking even stumps. The only thing that had saved the mecha from absolute obliteration was the faint golden light that still issued faintly from around it. It had managed to stabilize just enough before making landfall so as to avoid disintegration.
“Zeus… thank you.” Michael’s growling voice rang through the air. Judging just by tone alone, it was impossible to tell if the Archangel had severed any further injury.
“None are needed,” Lan Jue responded indifferently. “But be warned, this matter will be settled sooner or later with my visit to the Pontiff’s Castle.”
Michael was silent for a moment, but eventually called to his comrades. “Gabriel, convey my orders; all ships involved in the blockade are to stand down. This time, I’ve lost – and I keep my word.”
“As you command.” Gabriel nodded his head respectfully.
A twinkling caught their attention as a blue light arrived from the horizon. A dazzling azure ship arrived at battlefield, making directly for Lan Jue and his three charges. Raphael and Gabriel watched it approach with both shame and anger. Uriel, too, had been bested.
The four distant figures melted in to one. A moment later, the single dot of light also faded in to darkness.
Tsss! The hissing sound of depressurization arose as the Angel of War’s chest plate gradually spread open. The damaged cockpit was revealed.
Michael sat strapped to the chair, a shade of his former glory. His grim, resolute façade was gone, replaced with a blackened mask. A charred husk of an angel.
“Michael!” Gabriel hastened to his side, struggling to extricate him from the mecha. Raphael moved to his side. A pale white light emanated from his hands, their healing glow extending to cover Michael’s broken body.
Under the Angel of Healing’s power Michael found the strength to pull himself from the wreckage. The movement caused the slag that was his mecha to shift, grinding painfully as it crumbled to the floor.
Michael’s face had been burned away, now a black mask of charred skin and gristle. If he was even capable of expression, it was impossible to see what it would be. But one could guess that it wouldn’t be a smile.
“Michael, are you alright?” 1 Gabriel supported his commander by the arm. He keenly felt the sizzling heat that radiated from him. His own hands felt numb just by touching him.
Michael shook his head. “We were wrong. Our assumptions were false. Zeus is far more powerful than he’s let on. Or he’s become much stronger in the three years since his disappearance. Still, he didn’t leave our battle without a scratch. He’s likely just as hurt as I am. The fact he got away… the future for us looks dark indeed.”
Gabriel’s eyes shone with anger and violent intent. “Then we-”
Michael’s smile was dour, bitter. He shook his head again, cutting Gabriel off. “Nothing we can do. Do you think he’ll give us another chance like this? His codename wasn’t just given for his power. He’s got the scheming heart of the ancient god as well. I know for a fact he didn’t know our plans when he came before the Moonfiend Empress. And yet the moment he knew it was us, he’d made his plans – to employ his Ascension, confuse and divide us to produce his opening. The Ascension was the strongest he let slip, during his time in the public eye three years ago, so using it at the onset would make us drop our guard – lull us in to a false sense of superiority. And make me match him with the Adventus.”
“It was unexpected he’d possess a second Discipline. A speed that outstripped even Adventus. By the time I knew what was happening I’d already expended too much power. He knew I would fall back on the Angel of War. Counted on it. I don’t have the reaction time and control of a younger man. The gravity nova would prevent him from out-maneuvering me… but Thor’s strength was superior. My guess, Thor’s core gem is S-ranked. That’s the only way he could have commanded power like that. Hell, he could obliterate a battleship and not blink an eye.”
Raphael interjected. “Let’s get to the Castle first, and deliver our report to His Majesty. Zeus is tied to the Avenue. This will likely put us under pressure from Skyfire. Our hunt for the Succubus will have to be secondary.”
“Boss!” Lin Guoguo exclaimed, supporting Lan Jue. His face was as pale and thin as tinsel.
Lan Jue lifted his head. He looked at Guoguo, then the three others. A strained smile spread across his face. “All accounted… all is well.”
- Seriously? No wonder you guys lost, with those powers of perception. ↩