Chapter 85: Asura
The arrival of Asura sent Urial reeling. Sometime during his staggering retreat, he’d produced a golden cross with a yellow gem which he clutched in his hands.
A golden light shimmered to life around him, crackling with power. It served to ward against the sudden and vicious slice from Asura’s dual blades.
The highest level Talents certainly possessed the ability to contend with mechas on their own – but that was against your average pilot. If the enemy was of a power comparable to one’s own, that was another matter entirely.
And of course, an adept was at their strongest when they were in their mecha. The white mecha he faced now, Asura, was piloted by the one he knew as the Blade-Maiden. Xiuxiu, one of Zeus’ amazons. A strong adept, in her own mecha.
The suit was large, and constructed to look like your perfect human physique. It bore no superfluous parts, no needless weaponry – only that pair of monstrous swords. As he looked on appreciably, said weapons were already gripped in the mecha’s hands. With a burst of speed it rushed forward, directly towards that golden shield – the only thing protecting Uriel from it’s deadly blades. They lashed out in savage chops. Where they slashed the air, great arcs of white energy in the shape of a crucifix charged forth.
The shell cracked, great gashes appearing where the attack had landed. Beams of golden light spilled out, and as the shell shattered away a second giant figure was revealed.
Yellow, streamlined, with six great extended wings. The latter clearly indicated what it was – an Angelic mecha of the Pontiff’s Castle – a Seraph, with Uriel at it’s helm. [1. The translation states that the Cherubim Uriel’s title is synonymous with the title of it’s mecha – Seraphim. I believe this is an author mistake as the two are separate classes of angels. Cherubim are the second class of angels, whilst Seraphim attend directly to God in catholic canonical works. If that’s the case than Uriel, an archangel (the highest order of the seraphim), is misnamed. Still, as that’s the way it’s written that’s the way I’ll translate it – just be aware that Cherubim is Uriel’s title, not status.]
The Cherubim mecha [2. Again, he’s used the names Seraphim and Cherubim interchangeably.] stretched eighteen meters high, with shimmering spar minerals affixed to the center of it’s chest. The heart of the crystal pulsated as though a tempest roiled in it’s depths. A great shield was poised before it, blocking Asura’s blades from finding their mark.
Crack! Sparks of energy paired with a shock wave as the two indomitable powers collided, swirling around them like a storm.
Asura pivoted effortlessly around the raised defense, as lithe and mobile as any human. It moved like a white shadow, spinning about and tearing the air with it’s blades. The weapons rained blow after blow upon the Cherubim, interweaving until it seemed like it was a dozen swords he faced now.
Within the Cherubim’s cockpit, Uriel’s face had curdled. His fingers danced over the control panels like raindrops. Golden light still burned in his eyes. The mecha’s shield seemed to move slowly, but was always just where it needed to be to block the ceaseless assault from Asura.
Each impact set the world ablaze in hard light, and deafened the ear with harsh cracks.
Zeus-1’s sudden take-off had set the battleships in to disarray. They were ten times heavier than the sapphire gunboat. Though they bore superior weaponry, they simply didn’t have the maneuvering capabilities of their prey.
Theoretically eight battleships would be more than enough for an effective dragnet against a single gunboat. But there are always exceptions.
Zeus-1 had risen, twisted and launched quicker than they were able to react. In the end it launched directly skyward like a rocket.
The battleships already in flight hadn’t wasted any time in utilizing their tracking systems to get a lock on the fleeing ship. However, as they scrambled to take action, their quarry did something a ship of it’s class simply shouldn’t have been able to do; it tumbled through three complete horizontal rolls, shut off it’s engines, and began to plummet towards the earth in free-fall.
The result was the same across all ships – the lock was lost.
As the ship floundered, screaming towards the earth for impact, the engine on it’s left wing sputtered to life. Zeus-1 was wrenched forward, twisting back around.
The undulating maneuvers gave the gunboat enough stability to spool up it’s primary engine and fire in to the distance. By then the great blasts fired from the battleship’s cannons were already way off their intended mark and crashed to ground ineffectually.
“What the hell kind of ship is that!” One of the battleship’s captains, a man in his forties, looked on slack-jawed and wide-eyed as Zeus-1 slowly vanished in to the distance.
“WOO! Now that was satisfying!” The Accountant was practically devoured by his seat, strapped tight by the safety harness. That didn’t stop his fingers from pounding away at the keyboard in front of him, though. Odd flashes of data slithered across his eyes, eyes that had a strangely manic expression. The tail engine continued to accelerate, and Zeus-1 shot ahead like a bolt of lightning.
Xiuxiu watched Zeus-1’s retreat, her red lips pressed tightly together. In the next instant she was back on the offensive, lashing out at Uriel through Asura, at one with the mecha’s electronic brain to have it dance around the field of battle like quicksilver.
Rage was etched clearly on Uriel’s face. Against Xiuxiu alone his power was enough to overwhelm her. But now, with Asura, the danger to him had grown considerably. He clearly recognized several avenues to gain the upper hand in their battle, but he had to know Asura would use any means necessary to fight back. She had the will, and he wasn’t keen on destroying his own mecha to achieve this victory.
He’d let Zeus-1 escape! Though they’d blocked nearly all of Moonfiend’s electronic signals, Zeus-1 appeared to be on track to breaking atmosphere. With the speed and control he’d just seen, he wasn’t sure the safeguards they had in place would be enough. It wouldn’t be long before word got back to Skyfire, and then the Castle would certainly be at risk of retaliation from the Avenue. They’d learned already Zeus was on their inner council – ignorance would not be an effective excuse.
It can’t happen like this. I need to get to that ship and disable it. Uriel was resolute – he’d get to his airship, and chase that gunboat down.
Cherubim descended until one foot made contact with the ground. It crouched, and with it’s six great wings splayed out like knife-blades, it launched itself at Asura.
Xiuxiu’s mecha slid to the side and parried, the steel in it’s left hand rebounded off of the enemy’s wings. The lithe figure darted backwards. As the weight of the deflection spun it around, Asura pointed it’s blade forward and launched ahead. Mecha and weapon blurred in to one, a whirling cone aimed at the Cherubim’s heart.
Behind the controls of a mecha, Xiuxiu was no less capable than the angel she faced.
But before the final blow could land, Uriel’s Cherubim straightened. It’s six great wings expanded farther still – until they exploded out from it’s back. What was six solid wings now became a hail of golden arrows, heading straight for Asura.
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