Battle for Vuuldar: Spectre 2

I wanted to be the optimist, to believe that things could have gone well, that Titan’s plan to use Eldritch as a war machine was a great idea.  

All we’d done was create our own doom. 

The longer Eldritch was in his Neklim form, the harder he became to kill.  We’d made a point to keep him safe, keep him fed, all in an effort to ensure that the Ellayan’s and Trillodan on the ground had no way to put him down. 

Of course, Zellig had been a step ahead of us.  The Trillodan Commander was expecting this. Feast Day had been the final thing that got attention from the Trillodan; why wouldn’t we try to harness the city crushing behemoth?  

I fought down my nerves as I took flight away from Eldritch, racing as fast as my body would allow to reunite with Clemency and the forward guard.  We needed to get people out of the way. If this was going to be anything like Feast Day, he was going to attack the largest source of food available.

But between Eldritch and the Ellayans, there were nearly thirty Adapted fighting for their lives; they would be swept up and devoured as collateral damage.  We only had until Eldritch had reconstituted and recovered from the minefield.

Ahead of me, Ellayans scrambled backwards to the impromptu battlements that had Trillodan turrets mounted on them.  Shockwave and Beleth were helping lead the charge, the duo almost single handedly destroying the defenses in an oppressive march forward.  Trillodan soldiers had started to bolster the Ellayan ranks, collecting them into lines to engage, but additional pyrokinetics like Pyre and Calamity were forcing them to break rank and continue to fall back.  

Clemency saw me flying down and dropped to a rooftop.  “What the fuck is happening back there?” 

“Eldritch has lost control.  The animal is running the show now.  The Trillodan had that whole area rigged to blow; it drove him over the edge.”

“Fuck,” Clemency whispered under his breath.  “Okay. We need to get everyone out of the way.  The last thing we need to do is feed him. The only perk is that Zellig ripped off a lot of his mass.  We need to keep him small.”  

Clemency reached up and turned on his earpiece, “Beleth, Shockwave, Challenger, Drought, fall back.  Tell everyone to head East and cut behind Psycho. We need to get clear of Eldritch’s path forward. Be sure to avoid Psycho though: he’s not stable.”  

In the single moment of stillness, I dismissed my existing powers.  Determination and Devotion both vanished, opening my eyes to the sea of emotion that Clemency’s gift permitted.  I reached back for Fear, reclaiming my ability to create explosive icicles. The next option I seized was Desperation.  For Clemency that would make hard-light projections he could form into almost anything; for me, it was limited to creating hard-light weapons.    

“Oh hell,” Clemency gasped.  I followed his gaze and saw Eldritch begin to stomp forward, his frame just visible over the tops of buildings.  “We haven’t had enough time. Spectre, we need to stop him!” 

Both of us took to the air, splitting apart to flank the lumbering Eldritch.  

I minded my distance, wary of those elastic limbs as I conjured a volley of volatile icicles.  I fired down at his shoulder as he barreled forward. Each shard exploded, freezing the joint, but it wasn’t enough to stop him.  On the opposite side, Clemency created dozens of hard-light chains that wrapped around his front leg and a column to anchor them too.  Feeling outclassed, I created a quintet of sawblades and had those all whir to life, carving into his other front leg.  

Eldritch roared in annoyance, the chains and saws slowing him down to a crawl.  He steadied himself, shifting balance and heaving his leg, ripping free of Clemency’s chains, barreling forward, not bothering to try and reach us.  

Instead, he swung one limb and demolished a house, his tendrils literally eating the building materials.  The wood and metal shifted along his outer layer, all finding places like he was building a layer of armor while he moved forward.  Clemency dismissed the other emotion he was holding, his hand taking on a dark green hue; a cloud of that same color rested upon Eldritch and the monster visibly started to slow.  

Another one of those emotions Clemency had kept up his sleeve: Defeat.  He was literally draining the energy from Eldritch to slow him down.  

I worked as hard as I could to bombard his legs with icicles and Desperation blades, trying to limit his mobility as the others evacuated.  As Eldritch lumbered and growled, his speed reduced to a snail’s pace, I dared to feel optimistic about getting everyone clear.  

Eldritch snarled and suddenly surged forward, like he’d had an infusion of adrenaline.  

“Run!” Clemency shouted, his voice being drowned out by the cacophony of Eldritch bearing down on the nearby Adapted, ripping through a few buildings to approach the active warfront.  More wood and metal wove itself in with the mass of onyx growths, making it harder and harder for my icicles to find purchase.    

The ground rippled as Beleth pulled people underground, yanking them away from the massive, elastic arm that came sweeping through.  Still, several were seized by the Neklim. Shockwave did his best to quickly blast people free, but four Adapted were pulled into the living mass to be crushed and consumed.  

For a moment, Eldritch shuddered, like he’d eaten something that didn’t agree with him.  Part of me hoped that the Adapted he’d grabbed was going to rip themselves free; instead gargantuan sets of teeth manifested across Eldritch, somehow making the monster even more horrifying.  I knew that power, it was impossible to forget the disgusting nature of Maw’s Adaptation. Small tongues of flame escaped from a dozen mouths he’d placed on his body, and acid began to drip from the others.  

Not only was he mutated into a terrifying predator, Eldritch was able to devour and absorb Adaptations.  

I turned on my earpiece, immediately beset by the frantic voice of Beleth mid lecture.  “He grabbed Maw, Pyre, Acid Splash, and Instability. If he starts throwing chunks of himself around, he’s going to literally be making fucking bombs, Clemency.”

“We can’t let him get into the Ellayans,” Shockwave insisted.  “He gets too big, we all fucking die.”

“Soliloquy, Playlist,” Clemency snapped, taking charge, “Reposition, start making the Ellayan’s afraid, get them to run away as fast as possible.  Shockwave, Beleth, Challenger, draw his attention and keep him moving towards the bay. We can’t have him turning around.  Drought, Spectre, you’re both going to help me slow him down.  We need to debilitate this big bastard. Challenger, pressure’s on you.  Go big.” 

“Can do,” a gravelly voice rumbled in reply.  

Eldritch had started moving forward, invigorated by his meal.  A wall of rock erupted around his front legs as Beleth glided by, being very mindful of his distance.  A few buffets of flame rolled from a mouth on Eldritch’s leg but not enough to drive Beleth away. As the monster tore free, a massive hit of kinetic energy slammed into its center, leaving a small crater.  Shockwave stood defiantly down the road from the super-powered Eldritch, goading him forward.  

A roar shook the air as the beast lumbered forward, staggering as Beleth shifted the ground under its massive legs mid-step.  From the side, a figure ran straight at Eldritch, growing larger with every step. Initially six feet tall, Challenger grew to eight, then twelve, then nearly twenty feet tall; his immense form turned to grey stone as he collided with Eldritch and sent the beast stumbling into another building that immediately folded.  

Clemency rested his cloud of Defeat on the stunned Eldritch as the air seemed to come alive around the monster, a localized slipstream wicking away moisture and desiccating the top layer of tendrils.  I spotted Drought nearly a block away, likely testing the out limits of his range. I couldn’t blame him for wanting to avoid getting anywhere close to Eldritch.  

Still, despite all that we had just hit him with, Eldritch rose from the rubble, his body integrating more and more metal and wood into his skin.  Challenger charged forward, but he was reminded that he was out of his weight class by a huge, adrenaline fueled swipe. The stone giant was launched nearly ten meters backwards, falling down amidst the torched rubble the other Adapted had left in their wake.  

Eldritch’s attention turned to Clemency, swinging a limb and releasing a deluge of rubble that he had picked up.  Clemency made a shield for himself with Desperation, but the impact still launched him skywards. Shockwave answered with a salvo of Kinetic blasts to the leg, but they didn’t do more than annoy Eldritch and prompt him to spit a geyser of acid at the Projector.  Before he was dissolved, the ground shifted and Beleth yanked Shockwave underground, bringing him back up to the surface a few meters away.  

“Need to hit him harder,” Beleth said, his earpiece still live.  “We know he’s already got some kind of kinetic dampening on his list of mutations.”

“Beleth,” I thought out loud, “Can you pull him underground?” 

“Can’t risk getting too close until he’s used some flame,” he replied.  “He grabbed Pyre; the longer he goes without using that pyrokinesis, the more it builds.  If we don’t prompt him to use it soon, he’ll just torch the whole damn block.”  

I bit my cheek as I quelled my nerves, “If we can hit him hard enough, he’ll use the flames to drive us back.  Challenger should be able to endure the heat.”

“Get ready to hit him then,” Clemency growled over the earpiece.  

“Challenger, get his attention again,” I insisted. 

The stone giant rose from the rubble, drawing the ire of the immense quadruped.  Eldritch turned, several of the mouths on his body opening to let out an eerie scream.  Challenger clapped his hands together and bellowed to answer. I felt concern as I really appreciated the size discrepancy: Eldritch was probably eight meters tall on all fours and Challenger was a full meter shorter on two legs.  

As they drew close, several sets of teeth opened to let out a flood of acid; right before it hit, a slanted wall of purple energy appeared between them, diverting the acrid substance.  Clemency dive bombed, bringing with him a massive spire of purple energy that he drove through one of the immense mouths on his back. Eldritch reared, howling, right as Challenger slammed into him.  

Beleth glided closer, pulled the ground out from under Eldritch’s back legs while Shockwave let out a thunderous clap and sent a kinetic blade of energy cleaving into the monster’s midsection.  

Buildings shook as Eldritch fell on his side, and a second later, flames rolled out.  Just like Beleth had predicted, all the pent up flame from Pyre’s devoured Adaptation came pouring out in an uncontrolled inferno.  Beleth was quick to react, pulling himself underground and slipping away. Clemency shielded himself with more Desperation projections.  Drought, Shockwave, and I were all too far away but we could still feel the wave of heat crash forward, sending tongues of flame jumping to any standing buildings nearby.   

Challenger was the only one caught in the inferno but it seemed his stone skin gave him enough protection. 

The writhing air from Drought’s gift faded as he scrambled off his rooftop, the fire quickly making its way to him.  Clemency was quick to put back on his gift of Defeat, slowly sapping energy away from the juggernaut as it shifted limbs to get back up.  It seemed a little more wary of us, but Eldritch still continued forward, drawn to the massive source of meat.  

“We need to do more than knock it over,” Drought said, “Even with me draining it, it’d take hours for me to kill the whole thing.  There’s too much there.”

“Once it steps free of its inferno we can tangle with it,” Beleth said, taking charge.  “Clemency, keep it slowed down. Spectre, if you can try to freeze and hack at his legs, I need time to set a trap.  Drought, focus on dehydrating his legs; even if you can’t kill him, you can make him slow down. Challenger, if Eldritch gets too close to Shockwave, you need to stop him.  I’m going to rip the ground out from under him and paralyze him for a moment. Shockwave, be ready to axe the legs.”

Beleth dove underground, setting up his trap while the rest of us sprung to action.  Clemency doubled the output from his Defeat and started making chains to constrict around his legs.  I unleashed volleys of hard-light saw blades to create divots for me to launch volleys of the explosive icicles into.  The ripple in the air shifted to focus on the front legs, Droughts power having a more pronounced effect as he sapped the water from the tendrils, reducing the outer layer to dust.  

Eldritch roared and tried to bombard Clemency and myself with acid, spat from several of the mouths on his back and shoulders; Clemency was quick to make more projections and deflect the caustic barrage.  A few breaths of flame were let loose, but it wasn’t anywhere near the inferno we had witnessed a moment ago. When we didn’t falter, the beast instead went for the brute strength approach and charged forward with a burst of adrenaline, closing the gap between him and Challenger in a few bounds.  

A massive limb wound back, ready to swipe the stone colossus out of his way, but I manifested a massive guillotine blade, cutting through the desiccated tip of his limb.  Clemency projected walls to slow Eldritch’s swipe, and I doused his entire arm in icicles to delay the impact even longer. While the blow still displaced Challenger, he was able to plant a foot.  He even dared to reach forward and grab some of the manifested teeth. With a grunt, he tore a few of the fangs free.

Behind him, Shockwave continued to build energy in his hands.  They were already a dazzling white and still getting brighter. Challenger held firm, using the teeth as handholds, enduring an acid bath for the sake of the cause.  Clemency and I continued to whittle away on his limbs in unison with Drought, waiting for Beleth to spring his trap.  

The ground split open, fissures spawning around each of Eldritch’s legs, each hole nearly three meters deep.  As the beast fell, Beleth emerged from the ground, bringing with him a pair of massive spikes that drilled into Eldritch’s flanks, anchoring him in place.  The beast roared, spitting acid on the spikes to try and pull itself free as Shockwave took a few steps forward, his hands now literally blinding to look at.    

“Challenger, move!”      

Our stone brawler needed no additional prompt, throwing himself out of the way as Shockwave turned his hands sideways and clapped.  

A blade of energy crashed forward, cleaving straight through Eldritch’s front legs.  Gore and rubble was thrown everywhere as the wave of energy continued to the hind legs, erupting into a cone of desolation that completely severed the limbs.  Beleth waved his hands and the pits that held the beasts legs closed off, ensuring nothing could be re-attached. The torso of Eldritch collapsed to the ground with a thunderous slam and a scream of agony.  

Despite the damage, the body was already reconstituting, shrinking the torso to extend the limbs.  I felt a glimmer of hope as Eldritch rose on to two legs, but more mouths manifested as it let out a feral roar.  Looking closer, I felt a wave of nausea seeing that most of those mouths were using rusted metal as teeth.   

While the monster had been eight meters tall on all fours, we had reduced its size to seven meters tall on two legs.  But now, the ever-evolving biology of Eldritch was going to fight back. And given how much energy they had used, Shockwave and Beelth were going to need a moment to catch their breath.  Challenger wasn’t going to be able to simply stand and endure having acid dumped on him time and time again either. Maintaining this sort of size was bound to Overexpose him sooner rather than later.    

“Spectre, keep attacking his joints,” Clemency called.  “Drought, keep on his legs. You and I need to keep him slowed down while Beleth and Shockwave catch their breath.  Challenger, defend the two of them. If he tries to make a break for it, catch up and tackle him. For now, we need to avoid-“

Clemency was cut off as Eldritch swung an arm, throwing a clump of tendrils towards the cobalt-clad Adapted.  Midair, the mass glowed red and exploded, the concussive force sending Clemency spinning through the air and crash landing into a nearby heap of rubble.  

The last Adapted that Eldritch had consumed, Instability, could charge herself up and become a living bomb.  We had hit Eldritch hard enough to force another mutation out of him; able to split his anatomy, Beleth’s fear had come to fruition.  

I conjured a barrage of saw blades with my power of Desperation, giving them all a spin as I threw them at Eldritch’s legs; he answered with a trio of explosive mounds of flesh being thrown my way.  A few of my projections found their mark, but many were shattered by the ensuing detonation. I flew around, dodging another few more throws, answering back with my icicles. Eldritch decided I was too much effort to pursue and instead turned his attention to Shockwave, letting out a bone-chilling scream as he charged down the avenue.  

Challenger rushed to meet him headon, gritting his teeth as the monster bathed him in acid before they collided.  Even with the reduced size, Challenger couldn’t stop Eldritch from moving forward, advancing towards Shockwave. The stone giant dug his feet in, but raw, feral determination drove Eldritch onward.  

I dug deep into my well of power, creating a whole wall of icicles, my vision blurring as I kept creating more and more.  I embraced the weight and strain I was putting on myself, knowing full well that this was going to tax me for days afterward.  But, all I had to do was let my mind drift to Bargain for a moment; the emotional burn was enough for me to create one-hundred icicles. All the length of my forearm, all primed to explode like a small, endothermic hand grenade.  With an exhausted scream, I sent them all hurtling forward.

Eldritch tried to get himself out of the way, but he was too tangled up with Challenger to evade.  

Almost all of them found their mark along the beasts back, sinking halfway in and erupting in a blast of super-chilled air, flash freezing the tentacles in the immediate vicinity.  Eldritch screamed again, all those mouths of his letting out a cacophony that forced me to press my hands to my ears. Challenger rallied, pushing the massive Neklim back and even finding the strength to strike our opponent’s torso a few times.  

“Just, go, down!” Challenger bellowed, pressing the attack, like a boxer backing his opponent into the corner.  Clumps of tendrils came free, invigorating the stone giant to continue fighting Eldritch almost on his own. “Fucking fall!”   

“NO!” Eldritch shrieked in reply.  It wasn’t an incoherent cry or animal utterance, but a clear, enunciated proclamation.  

Challenger stopped, suddenly unsure of what to do; in that moment, Eldritch replied and shot an arm forward, shifting most of his remaining mass to bolster that single limb.  It engulfed Challenger, the stone giant was overrun and unable to properly utilize his immense strength. I wanted to cut him free, but I had exhausted myself with that volley of icicles.  Even though I had probably destroyed thirty percent of his mass, Eldritch was still strong enough to match Challenger with his burst of adrenaline.  

With a roar, Eldritch turned and threw Challenger aside, the stone giant slamming into a small mountain of rubble.  Eldritch pushed onward, his body shifting back to normal. Shockwave blasted him a few times, but didn’t have enough charge to do any serious damage.  On the rooftop, Drought tried to expedite his power; Eldritch roared in annoyance and threw a quintet of explosive blobs his way. There was a scream over the earpiece before the clusters exploded, flattening the building he had been perched on.

“Drought!” I cried, hoping for a reply on the earpiece.

Silence.  

We were losing, badly.  Eldritch wasn’t down and we were falling like flies.  I wanted to lay down and cover my head, hoping that would somehow make it stop.  But, I had a job to do and there were still people I could help save. “Shockwave, get out of the way!”  I shouted, pulling myself out of the spiral.  

Eldritch hurried his advance, not giving the Projector time to retreat.  Eldritch knew that the man in the crimson suit was his biggest threat; he would not give him time to retreat and regroup.  

A wall erected itself between Eldritch and Shockwave as Beleth ran forward, creating obstruction after obstruction to slow down the monster.  “Spectre, grab him!” Beleth shouted over the earpiece. “Now!” 

Eldritch rounded on me this time, reallocating his mass to have one grotesquely long arm, swinging it and allowing it to stretch, his reach catching me off guard.  The last few tendrils on the end of his arm began to glow red as his reach came within spitting distance. At the last second, I turned ethereal and avoided being ripped apart by the explosion.  Turning corporeal, I dove for Shockwave, barely slowing as I grabbed him. A few explosive growths were thrown after us, but Shockwave blasted them away.  

I saw Eldritch turn for Beleth, furious; the head of Surface Dwellers dove underground, getting himself out of harm’s way.  

Looking over to the wake of destruction that was left by Challenger being thrown, I spotted a small man in tattered clothing lying amongst the rubble; his power had been taxed to its limit.  We had lost our only front line for dealing with Eldritch.  

“Clemency,” I called, praying that he was still alive.  “Clemency, we need you!” 

A breath of relief left my lips as I saw the glint of his armor lift up from the rubble, making his way back to us.  

My hopes were dashed as I spotted Eldritch.  Without us running interference, he charged forward, unimpeded.  There were Trillodan and Ellayan stragglers, keeping a line established; they were victims and fodder for the unrestrained monstrosity.  We had managed to reduce him to five meters in height, and he was quickly working on doubling that after finding a dozen victims to consume.  

All our hard work, undone in seconds.  

“How do we stop that thing,” Shockwave asked as I landed on a rooftop.  Clemency landed nearby and Beleth boosted himself up with a spire of rock.  

“We don’t,” Clemency said, clearly nursing a few broken ribs.  His armor was cracked in several places, his usually clear and composed appearance completely gone as blood dripped down his face.  “We need to get him close to the ocean, let Mizu deal with him.” 

“We still can’t let him get too big.  If he gets back to the original size, I don’t think a tsunami will actually wash him away,” Beleth pointed out.  “And, I’m just gonna say it, we can’t keep fighting him. Drought’s dead, Challenger’s down, and we’re all spent.  We could maybe do one more big push, but he’s already regrown what we took off him.”

“And who knows what he mutates next,” I said.

Shockwave turned and had a little start, “How about we use that?”

We had been driving the Ellayan’s straight backwards, back to their beachhead; since they hadn’t fanned out, they hadn’t encountered the army that Psycho had constructed all this while.  His frenzied rate of production had never slowed, and a host of neon-tinted nightmares followed him. My leader was marching with his own private parade that coated a two block radius in phantasms.  

“I know he’s fucking crazy right now, but maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world,” Shockwave said.  “We might as well do something good with all that shit he’s made.” 

“Spectre,” Clemency started.

“On it,” I replied, knowing none of them wanted to go anywhere close to him.

Forcing my tired body to hurry, I flew over and steeled myself for the horde that Psycho had amassed.  His Schizophrenic state was prone to lashing out, but the constructs he made were extensions of his own perturbed psyche; as long as he didn’t deem me a threat, they wouldn’t attack.  Still, I slowed down as I got close, making no sudden movements as I flew around the harpies and demonic griffons, approaching the delusional mess in the middle of this throng. While time was of the essence, hurrying a volatile Psycho would just end with me in a body bag.  

Psycho’s head snapped up to me, a whisper on his lips as he continued to talk to the voices.  I raised my hands slowly, showing that I wasn’t here to threaten him. “Hey, Psycho,” I said softly.  “It’s me, Spectre.” 

“I know who you are, you stupid bitch,” he snapped.  “You’re in the way.”

I had been sworn at enough when he was like this to ignore it.  I politely stepped to the side and fell in step, “Psycho, I know you’re hurting.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” he snapped, his head turning to answer a voice that wasn’t there.  “She thinks to gets it. She doesn’t. You fucking don’t get it!” 

More projections coalesced from the fog that hovered around his feet.  Even though there wasn’t any conflict for him to respond to, even though there wasn’t anyone prompting him to action, he was so hurt that he needed to defend himself.  Two golems joined his ever-expanding rank of abominations that were all clearly itching for a fight.  

“Psycho, I watched it happen.  I miss him too.”

Psycho’s eyes widened as he had a moment of lucidity, a single instant where I knew he understood.  But, as soon as it had come, it vanished. “Fuck you. You’re a stupid bitch. You don’t know a fucking thing.”  His head snapped to the side, scrutinizing something that only he could see.   

I ignored his outburst and did my best not to feel threatened by the manticore that manifested beside me.  “If you come quick, I can show you who is responsible for him dying.”

Psycho stiffened.  “Bullshit. You don’t know a fucking thing.  You’re an idiot, Jessica. You’ve always been a fucking idiot.  You and everyone else just want to see me fail. You’re always in it for yourself, selfish bitch.”

Him using my real name actually got me to wince; all the projections around me turned, several of them baring razor sharp teeth at my show of weakness.  I reminded myself that Psycho had just lost his best friend and partner in crime and that his anger wasn’t really for me, I just happened to be close enough for him to take it out on.  

“You remember Eldritch?” I asked softly.  “He’s why Bargain’s dead. And, if you hurry, you can help kill him.”

Psycho was too far gone to see through my obvious duplicity.  It didn’t matter that Psycho knew exactly why Bargain died; the paranoia and whispers he heard made him suggestible.  He latched onto the idea that our massive Neklim was responsible. He needed a direction for his aimless rage, something to hate.  Dozens of projections materialized as Psycho began to take short breaths, his bloodlust almost tangible.  

“Where is he?” 

“He’s-”

“Fuck you!  You’re not helping!” he shouted at a voice I couldn’t hear.  He straightened himself, as if he was getting ready for a formal meeting.  “Jessica, take me to him. NOW!”

I obliged immediately, wrapping an arm around Psycho’s waist and carrying him above the buildings, his whole horde following rapidly behind.  I hid my dismay as I saw Eldritch was back up to eight meters in height, and back on all fours. Clemency was flying around Eldritch, trying to slow him, and Siege had joined their fight in the short time I was gone and was using some kind of gas to try and hinder the Neklim.  

“There he is-” 

I didn’t even finish my sentence before Psycho pointed and his horde charged. As quick as I could, I turned on my earpiece again, “Get the fuck out of the way,” I hissed.  

They all scattered like roaches as Psycho’s army crashed into Eldritch. 

It was like watching a bear war against an endless army of ants.  Eldritch spat acid and threw globs of explosive meat into the thick of the horde, but as soon as they fell, Psycho made more, his Alteration kicked into overdrive with a reason to fight.  The neon-colored monsters washed over Eldritch, only to be repelled by many of the mouths breathing flame. After the fire was exhausted, Psycho simply made more and more and more to continue the assault.  Even though Eldritch crushed dozens, others swarmed and began ripping small chunks off the beast. Eldritch crushed them and tried to consume them, but they were insubstantial. There was no meat to devour, no power to consume, and seemingly no end to the horde.  

I knew that this was necessary, but I felt a pang in my chest for pitting Psycho against Eldritch.  I was playing with the emotions of a deluded man and turning his misplaced bloodlust toward a boy who had lost control.  Even if Psycho could cut Eldritch down, this wasn’t a win for us. All we were doing was stemming the bleeding. 

Beyond the war between hunger and insanity, I saw vessels coming down from the sky.  The militia had fulfilled its purpose of weathering the initial storm of Adapted; the next step was to bring in the real army.  We were going to have to fight against a more regimented, better armed force and we were already spent.  

I spotted Clemency on a mound of rubble, watching the battle rage between Psycho and Eldritch.  As I landed next to him, I saw pity in his eyes. “Do you think he can do it?”  

“The reason Psycho managed to spring any of us from the Snatchers is because he does things like this.  We can’t explain it, but he won’t Overexpose, no matter how long he fights. The crazier he gets, the more powerful he becomes.  If he’s ever actually in control of his faculties, he’s pretty weak.” 

“Insatiable hunger against endless madness,” Clemency said with a sad chuckle.  “Is that what we’ve been reduced to?” 

I opened my mouth, but I couldn’t answer.

Clemency took a deep breath and winced as he straightened his posture.  “Siege tried using some biological agents against Eldritch that he borrowed from  the Trillodan; it didn’t do much. But, he did hit the nearby Ellayan’s with a fear gas to send them scrambling.  As long as we can push Eldritch back to the coast, Mizu can do the rest.” 

“Let’s just get this over with,” I said, my stomach turning as I watched the continued battle between Psycho and Eldritch.

Clemency and I took to the air both reluctantly closing in on the showdown between these two monsters.  I was starting to see some slow to Psycho’s creation, but the legion still swarmed Eldritch, biting and hacking the tendrils away; Eldritch had already lost nearly two meters in height thanks to the constant deluge.  Clemency used his power of Defeat and sapped more speed and energy from Eldritch while I bombarded his arms with more blades created from Desperation. Eldritch tried to throw rubble and explosive growths our way, but Clemency was not about to be caught off guard again.  Hard-light walls kept those at bay, allowing us to distract and allow Psycho to push Eldritch back.  

“Mizu, get ready,” Clemency said.  

Shockwave and Beleth joined the fray, giving what little energy they had left to drive the beast backwards, getting closer and closer to the bay.  

Finally, Eldritch decided that he was in over his head trying to fight Psycho’s army and the four of us at the same time.  He turned and ran, shambling towards the Ellayan beachhead where there were scores to consume.  

“Do it!” Clemency snapped.  

I looked to the ocean, my jaw dropping.  The whole bay was alive, slowly spinning as Mizu worked a huge body of water into a whirlpool.  It picked up pace, rising into a massive waterspout, looming over the city.  

“Idiot’s shouldn’t have fought us near an ocean,” Shockwave said with a bit of pride in his voice as he watched his underling work.  “Mizu never got a chance to show his stuff on Tso’got. Place was too damn dry.”

As I watched the column of water rise and build, I had to agree.  This was truly awe-inspiring to witness.  

A few blocks down, Eldritch stopped running forward, as mesmerized by the immense wall of water as we were.  He stood there, like he knew that it was all for him, and that there was no getting out of this one. Even Psycho stopped charging forward, his schizophrenic projections slowed to a crawl as Mizu’s display evoked some lucidity.  

Finally, the wave crested and the man-made tsunami advanced.  

From the sky, a teal beam hit the wave before it could make landfall.  Just like earlier, the whole city was bathed in light and the air was alive with electricity as the vessel in orbit took part in our conflict.  In an instant, the whole bay was transformed to a massive sheet of ice, the tsunami abruptly locked in position, looming above the coast.  

Shockwave was the first to react, taking an almost drunken step forward.  “Mizu,” he gasped, “No, no, no, no, no, NO!” he screamed. Beside himself with grief, Shockwave sank to his knees, unable to catch his breath.  “He was in all that,” he said, his voice shaky, “He was in the middle of all of that!”

“Come on,” Beleth said, grabbing Shockwave and hauling him to his feet.  “Come on, Curtis. You can’t get even if we stay here. We have to keep moving.”

As bad as that was, Mizu’s display had slowed Psycho’s production of phantasms.  Eldritch however was quick to snap out of his stupor and continue seeking food. It wasn’t hard to see the ships flying around the city, ferrying Trillodan troops to the periphery, away from Eldritch.  Once he devoured the remainder of the Ellayan’s, he’d turn around and seek the next food source.  

Psycho looked over at me, alarmingly lucid, his eyes wide with panic.  He and I both knew that his return to awareness meant that we had lost our only viable contender for holding back Eldritch.  

“We can’t stop him,” I said with a sense of dread.  “Psycho’s too lucid. Eldritch is going to eat and be even bigger than he was before.”  I turned to Clemency, “We don’t have a choice.”

Clemency swore under his breath as he turned on his earpiece.  “Titan, we’re out of options. We need to send out Infinite.” 

“God have mercy on us all,” Beleth said.  

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