Book 2, Chapter 88 - Fierce Confrontation

By the time Cloudhawk and the rest of Hell’s Army arrived at the valley, it was a scene of devastation. The docks above had lost their support and were strewn about in piles of burning wreckage. Pieces tumbled from overhead like a meteor shower, even entire ships. It was like Armageddon all over again.

A thunderous explosion caused the ground to shake.

The punishing assault from Dark Atom’s five airships didn’t stop. They continued to pummel the compound with cannon and gunfire of all sorts. Fires belched all around, vomiting smoke into bullet-filled air while the defenders tried desperately to hold their positions. From time to time the stark blue light of a pulse cannon appeared to erase the soldiers holed up in their bunkers.

How did this happen?

In mere minutes, Hell’s Valley became a corpse-strewn warzone. Cloudhawk was shocked by what he saw. This new foe was incomparably strong, with highly skilled warriors, excellent equipment, and deadly weapons in spades. Even the formidable enemies gathered by the Caliph of the Sands could not compare.

There was only one organization in the wasteland with the capability and gall to assault the elysian lands – the Dark Atom.

Cloudhawk was somewhat familiar with the infamous group. To the people of the elysian lands they were terrorists and heathens. However, despite those labels the Dark Atom did have its own system of belief. They followed their own rules. Since Skycloud domain had thus far failed to wipe them out, it proved that the Dark Atom was a tenacious and well-informed opposition group.

Yet, up to now the most they’d managed were a few terrorist attacks. How were they so brazen, to think they could openly assault an established elysian base?

Cloudhawk stared at the scene, lost in thought, while the others burst into action. The woman instructor raced ahead at a full gallop but made no sound. Then, she leapt off the tips of her toes. Dust dervishes whirled in her wake as she soared into the air, yet strangely she did not fly so much as continue to walk. Her feet stepped on nothing as though it were solid ground, with cyan colored power rippling from where she tread. In a blink of an eye she crossed a thousand meters.

He watched her flout the rules of physics like they were nothing!

As he looked closer, though, he saw that the instructor’s high-top boots were the secret. They resonated with the song of a relic, meaning they must be what was allowing her to run through empty air.

When she reached the battle lines, a delicate bracelet on her wrist began to glow. The unassuming jewelry changed suddenly, stretching into a ten meter long cyan-hued whip. High above the din, the instructor reeled back her arm and sent the whip toward her foes, fast as an arrow.

Her target was the madman with the minigun.

The man was a terror, subduing a large section of the battlefield with sweeping gunfire that was frighteningly accurate. He could lock down a while area by himself, so the man had to be dealt with quickly. If not, a frontal attack would end in disaster.

The large man was a prodigious Dark Atom fighter, no mere grunt. He heaved his gun around and directed the rain of bullets toward the woman. While normally one wouldn’t be able to dodge while in mid-air, it was different for the demonhunter. Walking through air was as reliable as solid ground, thanks to her boots, so she juked and dodged the bullets that came her way. Of course she couldn’t avoid them all, but those that struck her lodged in the sturdy armor beneath her robes. None managed to do anything beyond cause a bruise.

The whip screamed through the air.

At the last second, Wolfblade leapt between them. He hacked at her ethereal whip to keep it from striking his soldier. It worked, but as the instructor saw her blow deflected she flicked her wrist, and caused her relic weapon to wrap around Wolfblade’s sword.

This terrorist leader’s particle blade was a frightening piece of technology. It would have sliced clean through a normal whip.

The woman displayed her worth as one of the valley’s instructors, battling for supremacy against the Dark Atom’s leader. Where her whip and Wolfblade’s sword touched, they crackled and screeched in protest. But the high-frequency sword could not cut through the mystical whip. Both of them pulled, muscles bulging, trying to force the weapon from the other’s hand or draw them close. But they were equally matched, neither could make the other budge.

Instructor Cutter jumped into the mix. His savage blade whistled through the air.

Wolfblade slide to the side, putting his entangled blade between himself and Cutter. The swords met amidst a shower of sparks. In that instant the female instructor saw her opportunity, and pulled just enough to throw Wolfblade off balance.

Cutter disengaged then moved in for a second strike in one fluid movement. With his enemy’s guard broken, he lashed out with the ferocity of a tiger. His second attack was even stronger than the first.

The first strike was a feint. This blow was his coup de grace!

Yet just as it appeared Wolfblade’s reign of terror might end, the mysterious black-robed stranger swept in and knocked the huge sword aside with his raised arm. How could Cutter’s enormous weapon be so easily deflected? He’d only managed to tear the man’s robes, which revealed a glint of silver underneath. Not a scratch was left behind.

Cutter pulled his sword back, cutting off his attack and dashing to the side.

His tactical retreat was well-planned, for right behind him was a steel-encased figure charging forward like a moving castle. Energy coursing through the relic armor encasing him in a searing orb and made the armor glow red-hot.

 His hefty armor didn’t impeded the instructor’s speed in the least. He moved so quickly his steel-encased frame became a burning ball of light. Everything he passed was instantly burnt to cinders. His target was also obviously Wolfblade and his mysterious protector.

Faster and fast he moved, coming down on them like a screaming freight train!

While the female instructor kept Wolfblade’s weapon tied up with her own, she raised the first finger of her left hand. A turquois ring glimmered against her skin, which summoned four identical blades made of wind. They were attached at the center like a bladed boomerang.

She flicked her wrist, sending the ethereal weapon flying.

In an instant it break the sound barrier, eliciting a sonic boom!

When it started its trajectory, the boomerang was only about the size of her palm. However, the further it traveled the bigger it grew, until soon it was a full meter across. Soldiers in its path were slices in half at the waist, leaving a wake of spurting blood and jumbled innards. A swath of the battlefield was cut down. A streak of crimson red marked its passage. Meanwhile the armored instructor was bearing down on Wolfblade with indomitable momentum.

Attack from both angles. A two-pronged assault!

Cloudhawk was dazzled by the skill, it made his blood boil. Were it him on the receiving it he would be immediately overtaken. This was the capability of true demonhunters – these were real warriors!

The black-robed man threw open his arms and lunged forth to meet the armored instructor. It seemed insane, considering how frightening an impact with this armored bull would be. There had to be no more than a handful of people who would dare attempt it.

What was the difference in standing between the armored instructor and embracing death? The demonhunter’s powers were gathered up, focused to perfection as he rammed directly into the robed man’s body. Let this bold defender first be smashed to pieces, he thought, then he would bury the Dark Atom’s leader in the dirt!

Like a meteor striking the earth, the two collided. The force of their impact blew a fan-shaped crater into the ground behind them and knocked anyone too close off their feet.

The man in black did not, as expected, break into mangled pieces. Right at the moment of impact, he wrapped his arms around the armored instructor. A smoking trench was left behind as both men were thrown a dozen meters forward.

The woman’s bladed boomerang kept coming, arriving at almost the same moment. While it was more than capable of cutting Wolfblade clean in two, the bandaged leader made no attempt to move. From the sheath on his back, his third and final blade shot out of its own accord. It glimmered with a strange light, as though it possessed its own intelligence, and met the boomerang head on.

The two weapons clashed. Both were knocked aside.

Guided by the will of the demonhunter, her boomerang recalibrated its arc and swung back around for another pass. However, Wolfblade’s living sword recognized the danger was still present and came to his defense once again.

So far, no one had a clear advantage.

After the collision with the armored instructor, the black-robed man’s clothing had been reduced to cinders. He was revealed to the world, and in his natural state shocked not just the elysians, but Cloudhawk as well.

There were creatures like this wandering the world? Unthinkable!

The man’s body was formed metal from head to toe. No natural process had created this thing, there wasn’t a single stitch of flesh on him. His ‘eyes’ – though no real eyes could be seen – were merely dual points of red light.

This was no living man. It was a metal golem! Was this freak created from ancient technology?

What happened that turned this world into a smoldering wreck? Why did the demons come to tear apart the world of man? Was it not because the ancient were too greedy in their thirst for power? In their desire to shed the yoke of greater beings they pursued strength. Strength enough to determine their own destinies. In the end, the destructive they brought upon themselves was worse than servitude.

The metal man placed his hand against the armored instructor’s chest. 

Bang!

A pulse of electric power burst from his palm. The impact cast his enemy away like a popped balloon. Metal screeched and clattered when he hit the ground several meters away. Thankfully his relic armor was very strong. It had to be for him to ram into people, shoulder first. The concussive pulse didn’t hurt him any.

Cutter leapt over him and came charging at the man. His huge sword glinted in the firelight as he hacked it; head, beck, shoulder, chest, leg. The instructor’s attack screeched and left behind a number of scrapes. But not one real sign of damage.

The metal man lazily lifted his hand, where blue light gathered in his palm. Cutter hastily pulled his sword before him to deflect what was coming. When the pulse struck it flung him away like a ragdoll.

The woman’s windblade boomerang returned to her, mission left undone. She and her target stepped back from one another. 

Wolfblade’s bandaged arm was raised. In his right hand hummed the deadly particle blade, while the sword of electric light slithered protectively around him like a viper poised to strike at any moment. The metal man returned to his side like a loyal guardian. He was well protect by an exquisite entourage. 

Across from him, the woman stood in midair with the cyan whip in her left hand and the windblade boomerang hovering above the other. Instructor Cutter and the armored man flanked her on either side, clearly ready for another round.

Both sides were too fast. There was no time for spectators, much less participants, to take a pause.

Cloudhawk noticed that the bandages covering Wolfblade were a strange sort of old technology. Facing off against the demonhunter, it became a conflict that represented old-world technology against new-age faith. He knew well the power of relics, but he’d also witnessed firsthand what high-tech was capable of.

Other members of Dark Atom gathered round. Pretty soon several hundred soldiers were awaiting orders.

Meanwhile, Cloudhawk cowered away. He was badly wounded, mentally drained, and physically weak. A fight like this was gonna be messy. It wasn’t some outpost scuffle, both sides were powerful and well matched. If Cloudhawk had his way, both sides would wipe each other out. If either one or the other won, he’d be stuck in the same shitty situation.

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