Book 6, Chapter 81 - Unite and Advance

Subspace. An expanse of white emptiness.

Dawn deftly evaded the attack. Feet planted, sword raised, she released a burst of gravitational power toward Cloudhawk and then charged at him. With both hands wrapped around Terrangelica’s hilt, she launched into a fierce flurry of blows.

The mighty gravitational field only forced Cloudhawk to pause for a moment. With nothing but a crude exorcist rod in hand he fended off Dawn’s attacks as though her powers had no effect.

Woosh!

There was a flash of dark iron and the rod’s pointy end stopped an inch from Dawn’s throat.

Dawn gripped her sword tight like she wanted to hack at something but held back. Her face was a mask of frustration.

“Not bad, you all have improved quickly. Your unification of mental power and martial skill is being continually perfected. While strength is a key to success, it is not the only key. Be flexible, play to your advantages and recognize the enemy’s weakness. If you can do that then you’ll beat foes two, three, even ten times stronger than you.”

There were ten people besides Cloudhawk in the pocket dimension. They included Dawn, Barb, and Gabriel as well as Azura and several other young students.

Cloudhawk divided his people into two groups. The first were strong, invaluable members of his organization that served as its backbone. This included the likes of Wolfblade and the Cloud God – people he didn’t trust but who were integral to the success of the Green Alliance.

The second group was the one in front of him. They weren’t as mighty as others, but were friends that had followed Cloudhawk along his journeys. He trusted them implicitly. Although they couldn’t match up to the likes of Wolfblade, his trusted crew was still young. In the future they were certain to be the best of the Green Alliance. Cloudhawk had always regarded them as the group’s future.

Azura unfurled her legs and stood. Her little cheeks were still bruised but she clasped her hands and bowed respectfully. “Thank you teacher, for taking so much time to train us!”

“From now on we’ve got nothing but time.”

The subspace cube really was a treasure!

Rolling a sore shoulder Barb interjected. “These days you fight like the old drunk, even without relics. Guess the scoundrel left us in good hands.”

Cloudhawk had indeed gotten stronger, but the others couldn’t even comprehend how much. Where he was now and where he had been was about as close as the sea and the stars.

That was all for training today. Cloudhawk moved through to another section of the pocket dimension, where Hellflower and a group of mutants were working in a laboratory.

To them it felt like they’d been in here for a couple months, but in reality only three real days had passed. It was a huge boon for Dawn and the others who were usually too busy to focus on themselves. It was also a huge help to Hellflower and her research.

“Our development of new weapons is coming along well.” She picked up an ordinary-looking dart and walked over to him. “Take a look.”

With that she flung the dart toward a nearby dummy.

It struck but didn’t dig in deep. However in an instant green fires slithered out from the point of impact until the dummy was wreathed in flame. In a blink all that was left was ash.

“You managed to insert Castigation Fire into the darts?”

“We came up with the theory a while ago but never had the time to test it.” The corner of her lips curled into a coquettish grin. “Castigation Fire is actually a special microorganism. Or maybe I should say a nano-weapon. We found a way to contain these particles in an item’s surface and increase its efficacy tremendously.”

No doubt, adding Castigation Fire to a weapon made it a hundred times more deadly.

The Crimson One had done something similar. He infected arrows with Castigation Fire and when it struck a target, the nano-particle spread. While the arrows themselves were hardly something to fear, the fire they brought was deadly. Cloudhawk was able to do much the same, but he didn’t have the time to produce fire-infected weapons regularly.

It seemed Hellflower had found a way to do it on her own.

She’d had Cloudhawk produce some fire using his vast stores of mental energy. The fire was then placed in a special containment vessel. According to what they knew, Castigation Fire only continued so long as it was fed by the user’s mental energy. However, somehow Hellflower had discovered a source to keep it going. After stabilizing the material she carefully extracted it, and affixed it to various weapons.

“We’re seeing more and more eboncrys weapons being distributed to our forces. Castigation weapons are also coming along well. We’ve also seen progress with genetically modified soldiers, medicines and even the mushrooms. All improved through my efforts.” She emphasized this by slapping her hand down on Cloudhawk’s shoulder. She leaned in close. “I deserve a reward for all my hard work, don’t you think?”

Her wiles hit him like a ton of bricks. Suddenly he remembered something. “Reward? Of course! I’ve got something ready for you, actually. Come with me and I’ll give it to you.”

Without waiting for her answer he took her hand, and pulled her along to another section of subspace. 

Hellflower’s face turned from flirtatious to indignant. “You insipid lout! Now I understand what happened to Selene. You’ve only got one thing on your mind and it’s disgusting!”

Despite her biting words, the irritation all melted away when she saw where Cloudhawk had brought her. She stared in open shock and excitement.

Stretching before them was the vast collection of memory discs. Wolfblade had spent years gathering them, building a trove of ancient knowledge. Cloudhawk knew it would capture Hellflower’s fancy. To her this place was priceless.

“Take some of this with you before I close the cube.”

She couldn’t hold herself back from giving him a thankful peck on the cheek. Clearing her throat, she adopted a more formal tone. “Seeing as you seem so sincere, this time I’ll let it slide. But don’t think you’ll get away with it again.”

Cloudhawk groaned. Hellflower was not an easy one to deal with. 

Indeed this was all hugely enticing to the scientist. But, she already considered it all her own.

Who else could it belong to? Hell, it was hardly fair for Cloudhawk to pay for her hard work by giving her something that already belonged to her. Anyway, wasn’t it also to his benefit the more she learned?

Hellflower was confident that all men were the same. Even Cloudhawk – who on the surface seemed so in control and abstinent – was really just hiding his desires. He had so much to deal with that it was natural for certain things to fall to the wayside. Men like him needed to be… guided slowly.

Cloudhawk had no idea what was going on in her head, nor did he much care. He waited for her to pick out the discs she wanted, then make sure everyone left the pocket dimension before closing it. It shrank back into the fist-shaped cube and fell into his hand.

Having reappeared, a messenger who was waiting for him delivered a report. The Green Alliance vanguard had taken the wall. Furthermore, the Cloud God and others had managed to convert tens of thousands of soldiers to their cause. They’d managed to pull it off much faster than Cloudhawk had anticipated.

He turned to Dawn. “Where are we with our Regulars?”

“Recalled just a few days ago,” she answered. “We’re ready to go at any time.”

Hellflower interjected. “Wolfblade also has troops established in the north. We can take them on two fronts.”

Cloudhawk made up his mind. He would go as well. “Dawn, I need you to stay here and look after the construction efforts. I won’t need you on this mission.”

Dawn understood why. They were going to war against Elysians, plus Wolfblade would be there. After learning it was Wolfblade’s people that killed Skye there was plenty of bad blood still to work through. For the time being it was best to keep them separate.

Cloudhawk gave the order for Greenland’s Regulars to move out. Without waiting for them, he left first for the wall and planned to meet them there.

As reports had claimed, the focal devices were gone. Moved by Selene. What this meant was the protective enchantments were greatly reduced – probably to just over Skycloud city, or maybe just the Temple. To the Avatar it didn’t matter what the people thought. They would all be cleansed soon anyway.

Her only aim was to reopen the Boundary Portal to allow the four Supremes and their armies through.

Everything outside of the capitol, in fact everything outside of the Temple was already forfeit as far as she was concerned. In war it was best to shrink the battle lines as much as possible. Without question her best soldiers would be waiting behind the Temple walls.

The Temple was defensible, and sturdy enough to ward off powerful attacks. Committed to an all-or-nothing defense, it would cost wastelanders dearly to try and tear it down. After all, neither Selene nor the allies by her side were to be looked down upon. Cloudhawk hadn’t had enough time to prepare, but circumstances were forcing him to act. Fight a quick battle, force a quick decision.

Cloudhawk stood before the great wall. A host of Elysian soldiers stretched along its length. An armada of ships hung in the air, standing by.

It took half a day for airships, airplanes and smaller rider units to gather. They appeared in large numbers, representing the Green Alliance. Now this included Elysians soldiers. The two kept their distance but did not quarrel.

Any other time it would be something to celebrate. Never in human history had these two staunch foes worked so closely together. Cloudhawk’s eyes moved to the Cloud God and reached out with his mind. “Preparations are complete. Start the attack.”

The god did not respond, but there was no going back now. The human and the god were not close allies, however they shared the same aim.

Survival.

The army began to move.

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