Avalanche – Snippet 52

He felt things coming to a head; he and Sera weren’t working separately, but together. They started to herd the two groups together; it wasn’t hard. Any time some of the troopers tried to cut and run or break away, they were cut down–literally, in some cases. When there were openings, a rocket or grenade from the soldiers would impact the bunched-together Thulians; more often than not it would hit a shield, but occasionally it connected, weakening several suits of armor and setting them alight.  ECHO ordinance, crafted from Zmey’s recipe, and refined so that there were rarely misfires anymore.  And where there were, well, it was nothing more than an idle move from John to set the spilled gels on fire.

John and Sera had become surrounded by the massed Thulians. The troopers had seemingly abandoned their assault on the docks for the moment; John could feel their rage at being opposed, their arrogance, and mostly their fear. Fear of John and Sera. They were all jockeying for position to try to shoot the couple or bludgeon them. John and Sera kept the troopers just out of reach with swords, spear, and fire. They could have simply flown straight up, escaping the huddle, but why would they?

They had the Thulian troopers right where they wanted them.

Sera allowed her sword to dissipate, then slipped her right hand into John’s left. He felt the surge of their shared power, felt it coursing through his arm, up his shoulder, and into his chest. He allowed the power to build there, to gather and pool inside of him. Before, whenever he had felt that pressure building, it had only been through supreme willpower that he hadn’t lost control and let his fires consume everything. Some metahumans needed great amounts of effort and training in order to “ramp up” their powers, to use them at their fullest extent; it had never been like that for John. For him, he needed to expend terrible effort to keep the full extent of his powers in check. Now, with Sera…it was ease. Easy as breathing.

I will help you hold it, love.  Decide where you want it to go.  So far…and no farther.

All he had to do was…let it go.  Set the boundaries…so.

And he did.

The explosion formed a perfect dome of white hot fire that expanded in an instant. It completely inundated the Thulians around John and Sera, with a diameter of roughly one hundred feet; it stopped well short of any cranes or shipping containers. To observers from the outside, it looked as if someone had dropped half of a star on the docks; the light was too blinding to look at for more than a moment. Sera moderated the power, keeping it from spilling beyond the boundaries. The only thing she couldn’t prevent was the sonic boom that the suddenly expanding air from the heat created; they knew that windows shattered and people felt the reverberations for miles around. Inside of the dome, it was a dance of fire. John and Sera stood in the center of it all, untouched, while the Thulians that had surrounded them turned dark, and then…faded into the fire. When they felt that it was done, John shut the fires off; again, just as easy as taking a breath. Then again, they couldn’t for a few moments; the fires had eaten a lot of the available oxygen in the area. As the fires disappeared, there was a great rush of wind as atmosphere filled the now empty space.

There was a perfectly black circle on the concrete where the sphere had been, the top of it scorched and covered with carbon.

Both of them went to one knee, simultaneously, for a moment, their eyes turning “normal” as they regained their strength.  “Better?” Sera asked, panting a little, but not nearly as spent as she had been at the battle of Ultima Thule when they had expended themselves.  “Yes,” she said, answering her own question as she got to her feet again.  “Much better.  More control, less waste.”  Her eyes faded back into gold, as did John’s, or so he suspected.

“Let’s make sure we eat a good dinner ‘fore we start tangoin’ with any dragons, though. Agreed?”

“Or we have one of those beer hats with Vickie’s can-meals in it,” she countered, with the faintest of chuckles.  He shook his head, making a face, and yet…he was relieved.

These creatures are…I cannot describe it.  It is more than “other.”  It is far more than “alien”–I have no words.  Just that, there is no pity, and no remorse in them.  Only arrogance, and great pride.  I hope they will learn better on the other side, but they must be cleansed from here.  I do not like killing them, but it is better that they are gone, for they will not learn here.

They’re going to have more company, soon. Heads up, darlin’.

They both felt it at the same time; John had the barest lead on her, if only because of his enhanced senses. He had heard what was coming before she could have.

A flight of Robo-Eagles, along with the one Death Sphere that had retreated earlier.

The birds, I will enjoy “killing.”  I am glad they are nothing like 8-Ball.

John and Sera both left the ground at the same time; John kicking off and igniting his fires, Sera with several powerful wingbeats that scattered the ashes at her feet before she was in the air. The Eagles and the Death Sphere didn’t alter course; they were coming straight for the couple.  It was clear they recognized what the real threat here was.

I am faster and more maneuverable than you.  Your fires burn hotter, faster.  I will engage the birds to keep them from you while you deal with the Sphere.  When the Sphere is down, we can both destroy the birds.  Sera seemed very sure of her strategy, but then, she was the aerial combat expert, after all.

Followin’ your lead, darlin’. Let’s blast these bastards outta the sky.

It is my sky, and I do not like them in it! Sera sped straight for the eagles, and then, suddenly, folded her wings and dropped about three yards, just as their focused energy-beams from their mouth-cannons cut through the air where she had been.  Then they were past her position and she somehow executed a lightning-fast course-change and came up behind and above them.

Then she was among them.  She danced, and her dance was death incarnate.

As much as he wanted to watch Sera work, he didn’t have the time. The Eagles were keeping her occupied, but there was still the Sphere; between the tentacles, the energy cannons, the thermite ports, and whatever other horror the Thulians had cooked up and stuck on it, it was dangerous as all hell. Time to fix that.

John put on burst of speed, closing the distance to the Death Sphere. Several tentacles lashed out at him; he twisted in the air, most of them narrowly missing him. He didn’t want to bob and weave in and out too much. For one, there was no need; he knew where the attacks would be. Second, by making minor course corrections and positioning his body correctly, he didn’t wear himself out as fast; conservation of energy was important in any fight, even with how juiced up he and Sera were. Despite his efforts, there were a few tentacles that he wouldn’t have been able to avoid; those, he simply lopped off with his manifested fire claymore. He switched the sword from side to side in a sort of windshield-wiper motion in front of him; the sword’s double edge easily bit through the Thulian alloy, sending bits of mechanical tentacles plunging towards the ground below.

With a final blast of his fires, he spun in the air, and landed hard on top of the Death Sphere relative to the ground. Not giving the pilots inside a chance to shake him loose, he turned the sword over in his hands so that the point was aimed at his feet, and then thrust with all of his might. The fire claymore passed through the alloy plates with little resistance; sparks and combustible exhaust issued from the cut, streaming through John’s legs and behind the Death Sphere like a stunt plane’s smoke run. Working quickly but carefully, he pried the sword back and forth, then turned the blade, making first a second, then a third and fourth cut. When he was done, he stepped to the side, leaned on the sword, and the squarish section of panel popped out with a metallic PING. Still using his sword as an anchor, he thrust out with his right hand, aiming at the opening he had created. The fires came easily, ramped up into a thick and steady beam of plasma that lanced through the wound in the Sphere’s hull. John poured the fire in until he was sure the Sphere was dead, through and through. Then, he simply removed his sword from the hull, and he was flung away, in free fall.