Gods Among: Prey

Despite my danger sense shouting at me, death didn’t come hurtling down the streets in the form of a pitched sedan.  

Instead the ground erupted and a mass of tree roots engulfed Eldritch’s hand, preventing him from flattening me.  

“You’re lucky I’m as stubborn as you are,” Forest sighed as she grew into existence beside me and offered me a hand up.  “Now come on, get up!” Down the road, Eldritch struggled against the ever growing mound of tree matter that was slowly burying him and weaving itself into his own lattice of Neklim tissue.  

“If you hold him like this, I’m going to cook you too.  He’s getting heat resistant, so there is no pulling a punch for me,” I cautioned.  

“I’ve only lost 23% today.  I can take another fifteen percent hit and still regrow it all.  Don’t worry Titan,” she said with a smile, the rest of her face betraying intense focus, “burn away.”  

The air turned to molten metal in my palm as I turned it outward, launching a jet of blazing material; I targeted his shoulders, trying to rob him of his oversized arms.  If those were cut, Forest could easily smother them and we could effectively shave off a third of his remaining mass. Even though he was heat resistant, Eldritch still burned under the extreme temperatures I could create.  

Beside me, Forest suddenly tensed as the whole ground groaned.  “Titan, hurry up.”

“Wh-“

The ground beside Eldritch was torn up as he heaved his arm up, bringing a massive swath of wooden growth to the surface.  “He didn’t have super-strength before,” she hissed.

I paled, “He’s had the adrenaline-”

“I’ve been fighting him for over an hour, I know what the adrenaline feels like and this isn’t just that!  Titan, think about it; he mutates to compensate to a threat. You’ve burned him down enough I can hold him again.  His body needs another out! And now he has one,” she grunted as the surface of road fractured. “So Titan, BURN THE FUCKING ARM!”

“Can’t you just smother him?” I demanded, horrified as buildings began to shake and the concrete started cracking.

“Not if you want to keep the kid alive.  If I crush him, I’ll crush everything,” she guaranteed.

More of the road tore as the monster struggled and raged against Forest.  I’d never seen anything strong enough to uproot my friend; the fact Eldritch could was an alarming testament to how strong the mutation had made him.  

  The only way that we could stop him was to destroy him outright.  While either us might be able to kill Eldritch, neither of us could free the kid.  But watching him, this wasn’t the same calculating monster from a second ago. Until recently, it had been unstoppable and now it had to mutate twice in the last few minutes to preserve itself.  We’d reduced Eldritch to less than one-fifth his original size.

It was no longer the same cunning predator that I had been fighting; we’d reduced him back to a wild animal that only knew how to lash out violently.  

“Forest, what I said earlier, I was wrong.  We need help with this. Ask Big Picture who to send and get them to the next Relay station.”  

“What are you-“

“The second I cut his arm, let him go and get us some help.”

Forest’s eyes widened, “What are you-”

“He’s going to chase me, because I think we finally pissed him off enough that he isn’t thinking straight.  We’ve ripped away over two-thirds of his mass; if that isn’t enough to make an animal feel threatened, I don’t know what is.”

“He’s strong enough to start lifting me out of the ground!  You want to let this thing chase you?”

“If just the two of us try and get him out, we’ll kill the kid in there!  Trust me!”

Forest looked at me sideways and submerged into the ground, joining the rest of her immense form.  Concentrating, I bored into his shoulder, carving in as a building beside me was brought down thanks to Eldritch unearthing more of my friend.  

Finally, the arm snapped.  

Roots immediately subsumed the mass of Neklim muscle and twisted, squeezing a huge chunk of Eldritch into dust.  

Enraged, the monster ripped his remaining arm free with a surge of adrenaline and heaved, legs rending through masses of roots and restrictive flora.  

“You have a fucked up leg and you want to run?” she demanded as another manifestation appeared a few paces away; a wall of roots erupted between myself and Eldritch, buying me a moment without his pursuit.

“Yep,” I muttered, “Just make sure they get there.”

Giving one last blast of molten liquid, I turned and ran, the adrenaline pumping through my veins helping mask the pain.  With a ferocious cry, Eldritch tore through the solidified remains of my latest salvo. Losing an arm had forced him to reconstitute, now reduced to be about two and a hand stories tall.  

Blinded by frustration and rage, Eldritch barreled down upon me, adrenaline making him alarmingly fast.  

I rounded a corner and a few seconds later the building behind me exploded; in a cloud of debris, Eldritch charged straight through, not bothering to run around.  Willing the air to fuse, I left a pool of molten metal across the road. That would buy me an extra few seconds to make more distance between us.

That is, until he bent down and vaulted forward.  

His mutation for excessive strength wasn’t just letting him overpower Forest, it was granting him agility that shouldn’t belong to something of his stature.  As he landed, an arm shot out to snag a car, whipping it at me like it had been fired from a canon.

It missed by centimeters, my danger sense giving me just enough forewarning to evade.  

Reaching out with my power, I felt all the connections in the air around him, felt the strings that I could pull.  

As I tugged and turned the air into molten metal, my vision blurred.  While I had created a deluge of material that entirely coated Eldritch, it wasn’t without cost.  Minor Overexposure and with it an immediate migraine.

Eldritch roaring in pain wasn’t helping either.

Anything else would have been reduced to dust enduring hundreds of gallons of the superheated liquid being dumped over them, but it only stripped away another few feet of the monsters stature as he rearranged himself to be symmetrical.  Considering he had started as a twenty meter tall monster, seeing him down somewhere closer to five meters was good. As he burned, I turned and ran, trying to give myself any lead I could.

I dared a glance over my shoulder just in time to see him literally shake off the remainder of the scalding liquid and start charging forward.  

Eight massive bounds closed what little lead I had managed to make for myself; each of his strides launching him probably a dozen meters forward.  It was a form of mobility you only saw from people with heightened strength. People with super-speed took shorter steps but more rapidly but those with heightened strength took strides that made professional sprinters looks outright pedestrian.  

I was close to the Relay station, but I wasn’t going to beat Eldritch there.  

Turning, I set my jaw and blasted another small geyser of molten liquid, chewing into a raised arm but not doing nearly enough damage.  While I could still inflict some harm, it was so well mitigated that he kept walking forward despite the superheated onslaught.

Acid splash incoming.  

Sure enough, he whipped an arm and launched a blanket of caustic material that I blasted myself away from.  Another pair of strides and Eldritch was dangerously close to me; it was only because of the voice in my head that I avoided the end of his elastic tentacles as they cut a gouge through the road.  

He roared as his arm swung down again, this time colliding with a barrier I hastily made.  The second blow smashed it apart and demanded I force my leg to keep running. Despite the hole in my thigh and twisted ankle, I pushed myself forward.

“Forest!” I shouted, “Help!”

I was two blocks away from the Relay station that was tucked down an alley, but I knew exactly how much space my friend could occupy at any given time.  

Above you.

My eyes widened as Eldritch roared and literally launched himself at me; he still probably weighed ten tonnes and he had gotten nearly five meters of elevation; momentum alone would carry him through any kind of shield that I could erect in time.  

I blasted myself to the side and landed on my bad leg; it immediately buckled and I landed on my air filter, jamming it into the base of my spine and evoking a groan of pain as the machine broke and my supply of fresh air was cut off.  I was given no time to recover though as Eldritch landed and turned to me, throwing himself forward like a wild animal.

Roots erupted from the pavement and engulfed his chest, lifting him off the ground and continuing to build a wooden cocoon around the flailing monster.  “This isn’t going to him for long,” Forest said as she grew next to me and helped me up. “Come on, let’s go.”

“We’ve almost got him,” I gasped as I could barely put any weight on my maimed leg.  “We’re so close.”

“ I know,” she said softly, “You’re almost done.”

Behind us, Eldritch fought against Forest’s prison, ripping apart walls of roots that she kept erecting, buying us time to meet with the others that had been sent to help out.  

Dragoon, Razorwire, Playlist, and Psycho had all been sent to assist.  

“Psycho, what illness today?” I demanded as I slumped against a wall.  

“Bipolar.  It’s why Big Picture sent me.”

“Good,” I groaned.  “Dragoon, you know why he sent you?”

She nodded, her determination palpable despite the face mask hiding any expression.  “I know what I’m here for.”

“Can I let him go?” Forest asked.  

“Razor, you set?”

The kid nodded, flexing his fingers as if to check.  

“Let him go,” I insisted, “Let him come to us.  And everyone, get behind me.”

We all knew the second Eldritch was free, his roar was probably audible for a mile and he thundered forward, unable to be subtle.  It took him almost no time at all to reach the mouth of the alley where we waited.

His hulking form practically filled the entryway.  

Reaching out, I seized all the connections in the air around my opponent and fused it together. A meter deep pool of molten metal around Eldritch’s legs flashed into existence and then immediately solidified, imprisoning him.  “Take the arms!” I shouted as Eldritch immediately swung down, trying to break his metallic shackles.

Forest burst through the ground and engulfed one arm, Razorwire flicked his hands forward and threw a mesh of sharpened chord over the other limb.  Disconnecting it from his hands, he gave the mess of wire to Psycho who turned himself blue before taking the handful of metal string. Eldritch roared and struggled, testing his strength against Forest but was unable to overwhelm her with just one arm.  He tested the other side and found himself even more firmly stuck there.

Psycho’s Bipolar power set involved a duality of Enhancer gifts.  His depression made him slower but literally immovable while his manic swing could render himself incorporeal and incredibly fast.  In his depressive state, Shockwave could’ve blasted Psycho and wouldn’t have made him move a hair. Even with his unholy strength, Eldritch was powerless against those two anchoring his limbs.  

Eldritch was forced to change tactics and reconstitute his body, relocating his arms to lower on his side; as they grew, Playlist hit the play button on his phone and stepped forward, a purple aura forming around him.  As the tendrils moved, he simply blasted them away; even though he had made himself incredibly resilient to heat, he was plenty vulnerable to Playlist’s incredibly destructive telekinesis granted by a ‘power’ song.

Razorwire threw a new round of snares over Eldritch’s lower body and passed them to Psycho while Forest grew over his back, leaving his torso exposed for Dragoon.  She jumped up onto the platform I had made and pulled the sword from her back. She set to work, cleaving into the onyx colored mass of muscle that imprisoned her friend.  Eldritch struggled the whole time and eventually changed tactics, letting chunks of mass drop and animate; Playlist was close enough to simply blast them away. We had probably another three minutes until his power song ran out and he would have to switch, but Dragoon was determined to fulfill her role as she carved her way to the center.  

All the while, I waited, getting myself ready for one last reaction.  

“I’ve got his hand!” Dragoons screamed as she reached into the mess, dropping the sword to manually rip chunks of Neklim muscle away.  “Titan!”

Hobbling forward, I reached into the mess of writing muscle and grabbed his hand.  “Back up,” I yelled to Dragoon.

Sensing their demise, the Neklim muscle turned on my hand, abandoning any kind of real structure.  The feral mass frantically tried to bite through flesh and bone as I let my immunity to heat extend to the kid still buried in the mess of all of this.  One last time, I ignited the air and felt the lion’s share of the remaining growth burn away.

Then finally, it stopped fighting.  What little Neklim muscle was left simply turned to dust and left the naked form of Nicholas Weld in our midst.  I chilled the molten liquid around us and we all fell silent. Eldritch fell forward to me, grabbing my coat to steady himself as he sought his footing.  He looked up at me and what had just been the biggest threat to the city had been replaced with a terrified teenager.

“You’re okay,” I said gently, “It’s over.”

Dragoon ripped off her helmet and ran over, taking Nick from me and hugging him as he collapsed against her armor, screaming in anguish and relief.  

“Relay,” I whispered, “Take us home.”  

———————

“I can’t give you any more than this,” Organelle said with a frustrated sigh, “We’ve had a lot of people who’ve needed a quick fix tonight.”

“I know.”  I hauled myself up, still a bit shaky.  My head was throbbing thanks to my Overexposure but at least my leg was almost back to normal.  Some of the swelling had yet to go down, but the bite out of my thigh was mostly repaired; my medic had assured me that the body could manage the swelling on its own much better than it could regenerating missing muscle tissue.  

“What a night,” she said, collapsing into a chair, “Never had to fix up a dozen different Adapted before like this.  You really ought to offer people benefits around here for pulling overtime.”

“I know,” I said as I rubbed my temples.  “And I get the sense this won’t be the last time we have a hectic night,” I muttered.

“Well, we are Adapted, it’s what we do, isn’t it?  Either way, that’s it for me. I’m not built for these all-nighters like the rest of you lot.”

“It’s only nine,” I pointed out.

“And I’ve been actively using my power for the last three hours.  Far as I’m concerned, that’s a fucking weeks work for me.” She stood and walked to the door of the little study, glancing over her shoulder at me, “Titan, you know other people aren’t going to be too fond of the one responsible for ‘Feast Day’, right?”

“I’ll make it work.  That’s my problem, not yours.”

“Suit yourself.  Oh yeah, that migraine of yours, don’t push it.  You’re human like the rest of us and should probably get some sleep.”

As if on cue, my head throbbed, “Believe me, I am painfully aware.”  

As she left, I took a moment to collect myself and slip on a new coat and pants that didn’t have bites taken out of them.  While the outfit was identical, not having my little air pack made me feel a bit naked; I’d need to get Dragoon or Toolkit to make me a replacement since mine had gotten smashed tonight.  If I was going to be melting down half a city again, I’d need some assurance I’d be able to breathe safely.

Down the hall was the room where we had stashed Eldritch.  I knocked and didn’t bother waiting for an answer as I swung the door open.  Inside, Parasite and Dragoon were sitting beside him, both out of costume, both consoling their rattled friend.  

All three heads turned to me.  “I’m sorry,” I said, “But can I have a minute with him?”

The leader of the Rogue Sentries grabbed her teammate and dragged him away, both clearly not wanting to leave.  Eldritch, Nick, had trouble looking at me as I sat across a small table from him.

“How are you doing?”

“Do I really need to answer that?”

“I’d like you to.  I’d like to know if you’re likely to demolish half the downtown area again.”    

He opened his mouth and managed to croak but not much else.  A few more attempts were made at speech before he finally got coherent words.  “Do you think I wanted to do that?”

I shook my head, “No.”

“I… I just lost it.  And by the time I realized that I was gone, I couldn’t stop it!  I felt myself eat all those people,” he said, shaking, “I tasted them.  Each and every one, Titan. Do you know what raw Zari tastes like? I do.”  

I reached a hand across the table and clasped his forearm, “Hey, you weren’t in control.  Just like you said, things slipped.”

He drew away, “Yeah, but the first couple, those I ate willingly.  Those were my parents, Titan. I ATE MY PARENTS!” His head immediately fell into his hands, tears slicking his cheeks. “I tasted them.  I devoured them because I was angry and wanted to see Beleth in the ground. I could have just let him leave…but I was just so angry and hurt and-“

“Eldritch,” I interrupted, “I get it.  Believe it or not.”

“No, Titan, you don’t!” he snapped, “You can’t possibly understand!”

He looked up and I stared back, my red eyes boring into his blues; eventually he looked away, losing our little staring match.  “Yes, I do.” I replied softly. “I lost control once and turned my brother into ash.”

“What?“

“The reactions I create…I could let them spillover and let the energy be completely uncontrolled.  If I let the energy go, I essentially set off a bomb but I’d risk killing myself in the process. Once, a small bit slipped through… all because my brother was pushing me.  He refused to stop yelling, even when I told him to leave me alone. He was angry I had a cool power, and he felt it was unfair. He wanted to be able to stand up to the Zari at school…”  I took a second to compose myself, my hands nervously tapping on the table. “I wanted to scare him, and a tiny bit of energy slipped through my fingertips. All that was left of my brother was a shadow, burned against the sidewalk.  Even with my incredible resistance to heat,” I pulled open my coat and showed off my chest, riddled with blotchy scar tissue, “I burned to a crisp.”

Eldritch was speechless and looked up from the table, caught off guard.  No one thought of me as someone who had vulnerabilities, rather by design.  “You…I’m so sorry.”

“I understand how hard it can be, and you’d be surprised how many have felt the sting of losing control and hurting people they are close to.  Even if they didn’t lose control as badly as you did, people aren’t strangers to the idea.”

Eldritch nodded and then his expression changed to a sneer, “But, I heard you also let Beleth go.  You saved him from Psycho and let the bastard go! This is all your fault, isn’t it?”

I reminded myself that he had been through one hell of a night and was entitled to his emotional volatility.  Even though Adapted seemed strangely immune to the psychological horrors of violence, this was something else entirely.  “I did, and in a way it is. But,” I added, raising a finger to pause Eldritch, “You must also consider the game you were playing.  You went to war with the strongest syndicate in the city. Were you expecting things to stay clean and for no one to get hurt?”

Eldritch growled, “He shouldn’t have gone after them.  He should have gone after me!”

“He wasn’t going to.”

“But why would you let him go at all?” Eldritch demanded, “Why would you let a fucking murderer back outside?”

“You have to understand that I don’t want to be like Suppression or the Snatchers and fuck with people’s autonomy.  It isn’t my goal to prevent people from making their own decisions.”

“But you could have stopped him!  For all you know, he could have left and come to kill me or anyone on my team!” he shouted, slamming his hands on the table.

“Beleth wasn’t going to hurt you,” I reiterated calmly, “Because I told him not to.”

His eyes widened, “What?  W-why would you do that?”

“Because you, Eldritch, are the second most powerful Adapted in the universe as far as I know.  If tonight wasn’t a good showing of that, I don’t know what is.”

He blinked a few times and shook his head, “I’m not…I don’t understand.  What are you talking about? What do you-“

“Eldritch, do you know that Tso’got is under surveillance?”

“Who can watch a whole planet?” As soon as he finished asking, he clearly discerned the answer on his own.  “Oh my God, are you fucking serious?”

“Yes,” I replied.  “The Trillodan are sure to come to Tso’got after your display.”  

His anger and frustration turned to terror as he realized the implications that statement carried.  “I…I’ll be the guy who brought them here?”

“No, you were simply the straw that broke the camel’s back,” I replied, assuaging some of his concern.  “The Trillodan have been watching us for a while now, and it’s why Beleth even considered taking a deal with Xandal.  Suppression are scared of the Trillodan cleaning the planet to get rid of us. He was hoping Beleth would do his dirty work in exchange for enough money.”

“But…you saved him.  Why would you save someone who would work for Suppression?”

“Because we’re going to need to stand together soon,” I said plainly, “Because soon it won’t matter if you’re a Reckoner or a Scoundrel, it won’t matter if you’re a solo act or with a team.”  I pulled my chair closer, “There’s a lot of Adapted here that I’ve been recruiting for months now, keeping it quiet; my hope is to actually take the fight to the Trillodan.”

It was such an outlandish statement it actually got a surprised laugh out of Eldritch.  “You’re out of your mind!”

“Would you rather roll over for them in the next week or two when a military vessel comes to claim us?”

“…no.”  

“I thought not.  Now, come on. Others are waiting and they need to hear a lot of what I’m going to tell you.”  

I rose from the table, but Eldritch remained firmly seated.  “I-I can’t go out there. I can’t go out and face all those people I just tried to kill.  I’m sorry, but no.”

“Eldritch, everyone here works for me.  If I say to leave you be, they will. Besides, you aren’t lying to me, are you?  You did, in fact, lose control of your power?”

“Yes!” he said, desperate, “I didn’t want to do that!”

“Then believe me when I say that I have a way to alleviate everyone’s suspicions.  Just trust me,” I invited as I opened the door and beckoned.

As I expected, a number of people looked at Eldritch, cautious as I led the way to the back yard where there were a handful of chairs set up in a half circle, all facing a growth of wood that functioned like a small stage.  Forest had rolled her eyes at me when I’d asked for it, but she’d eventually obliged.

Outside there were a few Adapted loitering, all knowing that I was finally going to discuss the details of what I had been planning and recruiting for all this time.  Most of them had done away with their costumes now, opting instead to wear plain clothes and try to feel more like a normal person for a while given the chaos of earlier.  Having a cigarette with Shockwave was the Adapted I wanted the attention of. “Belfry, if you wouldn’t mind,” I called out.

He nodded before opening his mouth and projecting his voice all through the house, “Titan is going to talk about Feast Day and all the other shit he’s planning.  Get the fuck down here.”

While maybe a little crasser than I would have hoped, it conveyed the message.  

To my knowledge, this was the largest gathering of Adapted in history: there were seventy four people in the audience, and there was myself and Eldritch onstage…and Forest as the stage.  As all of them took a seat, I almost couldn’t help but smile. There was no infighting beyond a few nasty glares. Imperium didn’t pick a fight with Surface Dwellers, the Lunatics left the Rogue Sentries be, etc.  

“Alright,” Shockwave called from the crowd, “What’s this all about, Titan?  Why do we have that kid onstage when he tried, and nearly succeeded, to kill half of us tonight?”  

A ripple of murmurs rolled through the crowd.  

“Clemency,” I called, “Do you mind?”

He flew over to the stage and landed next to myself and the nervous Eldritch.  It was odd seeing him in jeans and a turtleneck as opposed to his usual cobalt armor and cape.  

“Clemency, you can tell when people lie, right?”

“I can feel dishonesty, yes.”

“Eldritch, tell him exactly why you demolished a chunk of Ciel tonight.”  

And he did, recounting what had happened in the few hour ordeal that has caused absurd civil unrest in the heart of our city.  He told everyone about how Beleth had killed his parents as recourse for defying him, how he’d lost control and been taken prisoner in his own body, an afterthought in the hive mind.  He talked about trying to rebel against the Neklim and regain control, to avoid eating anyone but about how futile it had been until he was reduced to a sliver of his bulk.

When he was done I turned to Clemency who was now wearing a grim expression.  “He’s telling the truth.”

Eyes turned to Beleth among the crowd, the man still pale from blood loss.  Truth be told, it was a bit miraculous he had survived the bite out of his thigh.   

Before a riot could break out, I called back everyone’s attention.  “Why this happened isn’t important now. This sort of gangland violence isn’t new, and while what you did was reprehensible, Beleth, you will get a chance to atone.  You all will get a chance to redeem yourself from whatever atrocities you might have committed since we have something that concerns all of us. Thanks to Feast Day, the Trillodan are coming for us.”  

“So give them Eldritch!” someone shouted.  

I raised a hand to quiet the discontent among the crowd, “You think a solitary offering will appease the Trillodan?  Honestly?” It was enough to quell the mutterings, at least long enough for me to continue. “The Trillodan were going to come for us eventually, that was inevitable.  Even if we didn’t have Feast Day there would have been something that made them finally pull the trigger and pay us a visit.” I gestured to the whole crowd, “We fight amongst ourselves constantly.  We fight over petty shit and we wield power that makes the government shake in fear. Of course the Trillodan were going to be interested in us.”

“So,” Ragdoll called up to the stage, “What happens when they show up?  Are you gonna fight them?”

“No me.  Us.”

From beside me, Clemency spoke up, “You realize what happens if we fight them here?”

“Do you want to subject this whole planet to Protocol 37?” Psycho asked, rising from his chair.  “If you want to fight them, you have to know what they are capable of.”

“How do we even fight them?  We don’t know where they hide,” Dragoon added.  

“And if they come to torch the planet, what then?  Your power isn’t going to save anyone,” Contagion said from the back of the audience.  Around him, his team of Scoundrels all grunted in agreement which seemed to be an invitation for everyone to speak out.  

“Almanac, please come forward!” I shouted over everyone.  From the front row, a man seated beside Big Picture stepped forward and hopped up onto the stage.  With a button up white shirt, glasses, and an anemic build to him, Almanac hardly looked like what most people would consider an Adapted.  

“Who is he?” Shockwave called out, cutting over the clamor.  

“Almanac, care to tell the people what you do?” I said, trying to hide a sly grin.  Forest was likely rolling her eyes at my slow reveal and penchant for the dramatic.

“I-I-“ he stammered as he looked down at the crowd and paled, “I’m a Cognate-“

“So are like eight of us!” Toolkit spat back.  

“Tell them what you do,” I insisted.  

“I find things.  Anywhere.”

It didn’t take long for a profound hush to fall over the crowd.  “Almanac has the ability to remove the Trillodan’s greatest asset: their mystique.  Never before has anyone ever been able to fight them because, in large part, no one can ever find the planet ending bastards.  The only thing that is known among the ‘awakened planets’ is that the Trillodan don’t stay in one place for long.”

Almanac shrugged and giggled nervously, “I can tell you where they are right now.  Well, where their home world is.”

My pipe dream of fighting the Trillodan suddenly was much more real to everyone seated in front of me.  While many people had suggested that they should rebel, everyone knew it was impossible. Even before you considered the gross technological disparity between everyone else in the cosmos and the tyrants, no one could rebel because no one could find them.  

But if they were put on a map, the Trillodan became vulnerable, at least in theory.  

“So how do we get there?”  On the right of the stage, an Enhancer named Unstoppable asked.  “Even if we know where they are, the Zari aren’t exactly the most technologically saavy thanks to them being scared shitless of the Trillodan.”  

“You think I can get 75 different Adapted in a room and that I can’t get a means of travel?” I demanded.  “Multitask!”

On the left side, a tomboy stood up and beamed to the crowd, confusing everyone present.  

“Between her, Powerhouse, and Repository a ship capable of taking us off this god-forsaken rock is nearly completed.  Multitask, how much longer until you think we’re fully operational?”

She pursed her lips, “Probably a week and we’ll be set.  It’s likely gonna be too heavy to get off the ground without some help.”  

“I can deal with that problem,” I assured her.  “But it will be good enough to get us to Vuuldar?”

The crowd gave a start at the mention of one of the other refugee planets that humans had gone to in the wake of the Trillodan enacting Protocol 37 on our own homeworld.  “What are you playing at, Titan?” Organelle asked from the crowd.

“We aren’t the only place that has Adapted,” I said with a smile, “Tso’got isn’t the only place where we have been spotted.  On Vuuldar there is less general strife and conflict, so less people have been molded like we have, but there are still pockets of people like us.”  I took a look around at those present; seventy-five Adapted, only about a third of the Adapted on the planet that I knew of.

Even though I had been searching around for a full year, I still hadn’t been able to get all of us together.  While I would have liked to have more time, that was no longer an option.

“So you want to what,” Beleth said, finally speaking up, “Get all of us together and march us against the Trillodan?”

“That’s exactly what I want to do.”  I took a step towards the edge of the stage and stared down at him, “Are you afraid to pick a fight with someone bigger than you?”

“You’re going to lead us all to our death,” he shot back, “That’s the more damning part of this.  No has bothered to think about the fact it is THE FUCKING TRILLODAN! They level planets on the regular, and they have done it hundreds of times.  They purge entire civilizations and literally make entire solar systems uninhabitable. Do you fucking think we stand a chance against them, honestly?”

“And if we show up on their doorstep, how are they going to enact Protocol 37?”  I was a bit surprised that my own retort had come from the crowd. All eyes turned to Ragdoll who had stood up, “You have our support.  We’ll come with, Titan.”

When more people didn’t follow suit, I kept talking.  “If we stay on Tso’got, the Trillodan will come for us.  They will find us. They will do worse things to us than Snatchers ever could and they will find out what makes us tick.  Whether we want to do it or not, if we get captured by the Trillodan, we unintentionally will be giving them their scariest weapon to date.  Even if going against them is suicide, staying here isn’t a better option.” I tapped my heel against the stage twice, a prompt to forest to manifest herself beside me.  “Forest and I are going, along with a handful of others who have already opted to give me their support. What about the rest of you?”

To my surprise, the first reply after a pregnant pause came from beside me.  “I have nothing left here, not really. I’ll come.”

Most heads turned to Eldritch as he swallowed a nervous lump.  

“I can’t be outshone by my friend,” Parasite shouted, “We’re in!”  Beside him, all the Rogue Sentries nodded in accordance.

“I’m not going stand by and be upstaged by some fucking kids,” Shockwave shouted, “We’re in.”

One by one, groups and solo acts sounded off and agreed to join my suicidal plan.  Of the seventy-five present, all agreed to be part of my crusade against the galactic tyrants.  

For the first time in history, there was actually going to be action taken against the Trillodan.  

As I congratulated myself, I felt my stomach drop as a blonde haired individual sprinted out from the mansion.  Clad in sweats and a plain white t-shirt, no one would have thought that she was one of the most valuable people I had managed to recruit.  

“Titan!” she hissed, “Titan we have a huge problem!”

“What?”

Others quieted down, curious what would make her interrupt the little rally I had been leading.  “It’s…it’s them, Titan. I saw them. They aren’t waiting weeks anymore, not with Feast Day happening.”  

“Clair,” I said, feeling my stomach drop, “What are you telling me.”

“The Trillodan aren’t coming in weeks anymore,” she said with a nervous gulp.  “They were in all seven visions. They are coming tomorrow.”

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