Cloudhawk’s trip to the divine matrix had taken a lot out of him. He returned to Greenland’s fort to try and get some rest.
The journey had been a success. He’d managed to infiltrate the god’s matrix and gather what he was sure was priceless information. It was an important confirmation that such a thing was possible. If they could find a way in, what was stopping them from introducing a real virus into the system? They could battle the gods from the inside.
It was at least worth a try.
“Our findings are fruitful, but more importantly we may have a way to fight the gods in the future.” Cloudhawk was understandably excited about the results and shared them with Selene. “It looks like we have a great way to learn more about the gods.”
Selene was quiet, though, a fact which Cloudhawk noted right away. “What’s wrong?”
She shook her head. Extending a hand she gently placed it on his face and gazed into his silvery eye. It was stil ldull and covered by a film. “Your eye...”
“I can’t see anything out of it yet, but Wolfblade says in time the Eye of Time will recover. When that happens I’ll be able to use it in our fight.” Cloudhawk knew Selene had concerns. He tried to assuage them as gently as he knew how. “I think I can confidently say there aren’t many who can threaten me. That’s especially true now with the eye. Even those that seem invincible will show me their weaknesses, thanks to you.”
Selene dropped her eyes. “You don’t need to comfort me.”
But Cloudhawk shook his head. “I’m not trying to comfort you. I’m being honest.”
“I’ve thought a lot about things and have come to understand.” She wasn’t going to dwell on the issue. “I want to be a part of the Green Alliance and fight with you in the coming war.”
Cloudhawk was delighted by what he heard. “I appreciate your fighting spirit. I have complete faith in you, but right now your condition still isn’t stable. We don’t know what kind of after-effects the Avatar’s power might have on you. I think you still need to rest for a little while.”
“No. I know what I want, and I am confident I can do any job you put before me.” Selene fixed Cloudhawk with a steady gaze. It was firm, but gentle. “I was selfish before. I only thought about what I wanted and never really worked by your side. I want to do that now with you, shoulder to shoulder. From now on your battles are mine, whatever the future brings. No regrets. Cloudhawk, I know you understand.”
She understood the truth. After the events of the past few years, Cloudhawk was all she had left. As the Avatar she had nearly destroyed the Alliance. She’d almost forced this man down a dark road there was no coming back from. She’d lost nearly everything there was to lose. Pity and pain meant nothing, for none of it would come back. Instead of living with the guilt of the past she was determined to do what she could about the future.
She’d come to see that the brightest point of her life was standing right in front of her. He had been that light ever since they clawed their way through death and darkness together in the wastelands. Gods, demons, humans, all the animosity between… she didn’t care. But Cloudhawk did, and she wasn’t going to stand on the sidelines. From now on she was going to stand by his side through it all, his shield and sword.
Cloudhawk didn’t have an insight to her mind, so instead of argue he simply nodded his head. “We haven’t had anyone to fill the old drunk’s position since his death. It’s yours if you want it.”
Vulkan had served as the Green Alliance’s lieutenant-governor, responsible for coordinating with Wolfblade and dealing with the various matters of state. The demon elder was quite busy, so Selene’s assistance would be a great help. There was no doubt about her capabilities, either physically or in other areas.
“I hope you aren’t carrying anything you don’t need to. You aren’t alone, you have me and the entire Alliance with you.” Cloudhawk took her somewhat cold hand. “We’ll face the future side by side to the very end, whatever fate has in store. Together forever, alright?”
Selene pressed herself into his arms. She trembled ever so slightly, as though suppressing a volcano of emotion within. Cloudhawk gently kissed her cheek and whispered into her ear: “Will you stay with me today?”
“As you wish.”
He was so, so tired. It wasn’t just from his trip to the divine matrix, but a bone-deep exhaustion that came from days of endless work. It was time to take a break, at least for a little while. Today would belong to the two of them.
The next morning, Cloudhawk stirred from his dreams refreshed. It’d been a long time since he felt so relaxed.
Selene lay quietly in his arms. Light was playing off her snow-white skin. She was awake already and let the time slip by, quietly staring at him. She hadn’t wanted to disturb the rest he so desperately needed, so she just lay there and enjoyed the warmth.
Unfortunately the precious moment had to come to an end.
Selene slipped from the bed and put back on her Holy Vestments. Sublime Transcendence hung from the sheath on her back. Once again she was that indomitable warrior. “As lieutenant-governor I’m sure there’s a lot of business waiting for me. We don’t have much time.”
Cloudhawk nodded. She was right, time was not a luxury they could count on. He got up and showed her to the door before returning to his own business.
Four Supremes threatened his Alliance. They hadn’t attacked yet for two reasons: First, because they weren’t sure they’d win and second, because they didn’t the situation could get any worse. And on the surface their estimation seemed correct. The Cloud God had already facilitated the union of wastelanders and Elysians.
Once the Supremes launch their attack millions of humans would rise up in their defense. Since things were already the worst-case scenario, there was no fear of a further deteriorating situation. Better to be well prepared from the start than rush into a solution.
Of course, like most things it wasn’t as simple as it appeared. The Supremes underestimated their opponent. Cloudhawk was more dangerous the more time he was given. He could use this breathing room to strengthen his own position.
With the power of the phase stone he could travel to other worlds, negotiate with the Ark Base and ask for backup. The longer he was left unchecked, the more opportunity he had to find better equipment for his people.
Cloudhawk continued to develop other practical and unique devices. He’d learned very interesting secrets during his foray into the matrix, which taught him how to build and control different sorts of energy towers.
He decided to divide his forces, leading them down two separate roads. One was led by Hellflower, and was tasked with beseeching the Ark Base for help. She had to use any methods necessary, at whatever cost, to convince them to get involved. Really the only ‘person’ she had to persuade was the one they called Father.
Father had controlled Ark Base for over a thousand years. This incredible artificial intelligence had protected the ancient human race. With only limited resources, it utilized its deep neural learning and mature logic capabilities to keep the species going.
Over the centuries Father had designed and executed numerous experiments, gathering priceless data. On its own, the AI developed those animal-like robots that gathered resources from the surface. The Ark Base more than likely hid all manner of secrets Father was reticent to share.
There had to be a reason why the former Demon King had planted this seed of ancient humanity.
Meanwhile Cloudhawk would continue to go over what he’d pilfered from the divine matrix. In his haste he’d just copied the data and hadn’t had time yet delve deeply. The first thing he discovered once he started was that the technology of the gods was obscure.
However, it really came down to one thing:
Godly enchantment towers, attack towers, energy towers, and even their airships were all the lowest level of their technology. It made sense. The gods wouldn’t waste their best stuff on ignorant humans. Those would be reserved for Sumeru. The weapons and equipment the gods themselves used were likely hundreds of times stronger than anything he’d encountered.
It was a glimpse at how strong his enemy really was.
Right at this moment, the godly army was traveling thousands of light years across galaxies toward earth, bringing the true strength of their species with them. They not only threatened the human species, but the entire planet.
With the paltry preparations they’d made so far, how was Cloudhawk supposed to fight back?
To the moment of his death, Arcturus railed against openly warring with the gods. He argued the differences were too vast. Cloudhawk’s actions had strapped them to this tiger, though, and there was no other recourse but to ride it. At any rate, first they had to deal with the threat at hand – the army of world-destroying gods was a problem for another day.Previous Chapter Next Chapter