The Adventures of Mavus Pt. V
The Adventures of Mavus Pt. V jumps forward in time, and follows the events of The Diary of Aaron Sterling. Mavus and the Inquisition have lost their fight against the New Militia and the Street Angels, having lost a crucial magical item to the enemy.
- 1 Chapter 24 - Conlan Catches Me Sleeping In Class
- 2 Chapter 25 - Junon's Ex
- 3 Chapter 26 - I Take On Some Stealthy Bois
- 4 Chapter 27 - I Get Dismantled.
- 5 Chapter 28 - Bruh
- 6 Chapter 29 - The Not So Great Reveal
- 7 Chapter 30 - My Cheat Code Gets Robbed
- 8 Chapter 31 - Space Granny Steals My Powers
- 9 Chapter 32 - I Get My Own Cheat Code
- 10 Chapter 33 - Slaying Targon
- 11 Chapter 34 - The Hardest Conversation Ever.
Chapter 24 - Conlan Catches Me Sleeping In Class
RING RING RING
"Morning sleepyhead!" Junon gorgeous face peered over me.
"Five more minutes." I covered my head with my pillow, attempting to turn the phone alarm off. Junon grabbed the phone off the nightstand away from my reach as it continued its alarm of torture.
"What the hell! I was in the middle of dreaming about you---niversity..."
"We have class. Varen, Truman, and Khione are all waiting for you in the breakfast hall."
Yeah, so I guess I should probably update you guys on what's been happening. I fought Plyth and got a vision, then I got my ass handed to me twice by Giantkiller. Rev 3 and Rev 4's corpses were sitting in our room in pieces. At this rate, my side of the room was starting to become a graveyard of dead inventions.
"Consider it a learning experience!" Junon had once told me. Yeah, well I'm definitely not forgetting these experiences.
I trudged to the chow hall and ate my breakfast. Varen put his arm around me. "Good morning metal warrior! How was your rest?"
I started at him. "Dude we literally got wrecked by the New Militia, why are you still so happy?" I noticed Truman stuffing his face. "And how do you still have an appetite after what's been happening?"
Varen looked confused. "One loss isn't enough to quell the fires of a warrior's spirit! We must look forward to the next battle!" Truman was stuffing his face. His mouth was full of bacon. "Yeah Mave, gotta look forward. You did better against Giantkiller your second time! Least you landed more than just a tiny headbutt."
Khione's arm was still in a cast from when she attempted to fight one of the Street Angels. "How's the arm?" I asked.
She looked at her cast. "It's healing... I guess. How's your mech's?"
I smirked. "Like all my hopes and dreams. Ripped and in tatters."
We all went to the other building to attend lectures. Since preparing for the new threat was a huge deal, all supervisors were asked to join their squads to ensure "maximum learning benefit". Junon was Darkstar, but since she was an unpowered, she didn't need to worry about teaching stuff like spells or front line combat. She passed on the hand-to-hand instructor position to Yuko.
Basically, now I had to impress her in class too.
"And this, is known as a pincer move." Conlan continued, showing us a slide on the two groups of stick people charging in. Oh my God!!! This was torture! Why did I need to learn about this. At least it wasn't as bad as Corinese Class. That class was actually a sleep inducer. I was considering putting Mr. Reiss on loop every night to help me go to bed easier.
I turned around. Junon was busy taking notes alongside the rest of our squad. Now's my chance! I put my head down and closed my eyes. Nothing too obvious. What's one military commander to one stealthy boi?
"Shaw. Would you care telling me what that is?"
I jumped up. Everybody in the lecture hall was staring at me. Oh crap! I wasn't paying attention and he called me out. I stared at Conlan, who was looking at me. Then I turned to the side. Junon was raising her fingers, four and a two.
"The answer to life." I replied.
Conlan raised his eyebrow. "The optimal number of units to disperse the enemy is the answer to life?"
Everybody laughed. Junon facepalmed. Oh. I guess she meant to tell me the answer was forty two. I looked at my squad sheepishly, Truman and Khione were laughing so hard that they were struggling to breathe while Veran gave me a thumbs up for some reason.
"A true warrior always brings humour to the battlefield!"
Class ended and I left with a little too much enthusiasm, I was the first to leave, instinctively constructing a pair of boot propulsors that jettisoned me out of the building.
Junon caught up with me, laughing. "Wait for the rest of the squad, Mavus!"
Khione and Veran caught up with us, while Truman was breathing hard. Good old cardio in the morning never hurt anyone, unless you were Truman. We stood together outside of the building. We had an hour until lunch. Khione scratched her head. "So... what now?"
Junon put her notebook into her bag. "I'm going to plan with Kyrael and Amana. I'll catch you guys at lunch!" She walked off. Veran stretched his arms. "I shall go hone in my combat skills!" He put his arms around Khione and Truman. "You two shall assist on my training!" Khione turned bright red in embarrassment.
I put my notebook back in my bag too. Of course, I didn't really take notes. It was just doodles of the troll face in like fifty different styles. "I'm heading back to my room to work on Rev 5. I'll catch you guys later."
I headed back to my room in the castle. I walked to my half of the room, the messy half, and brushed all of the scrap pieces off the table and onto the ground.
"Juno, bring up logging files on my last fight with Aaron."
Chapter 25 - Junon's Ex
I continued working on my Rev 5 repulser when Junon walked in on me.
"Still tinkering, huh."
I willed the final two plates to assemble. "Yeah, the quest to beat Giantkiller never ends!" Junon smiled but her face was troubled.
"Did I do something wrong? I reaaallly tried to concentrate on Corinese, you have no idea how hard it is to keep your eyes from closing. I think there's a medical term for it."
Junon laughed and sat on the bed. "No... I'm fine. I was just thinking about Aaron... and Adam."
Yeah, in case you guys were wondering, I found out that Adam was Junon's ex. It didn't take long, since every time she mentioned his name she tried to hide her undertone. Junon never could hide it that well. He was also a cyborg. I guess Junon was into metal boys. Spooky.
Junon stared at the repulser. "Adam was, always scared of machines. It didn't matter if it was a robot, or a mechanism. He hated himself for being a cyborg, always thinking he was a monster."
I opened up the hatch and peered inside. The HUD from my vision module that was attached to my ear showed potential sources of energy leakage. I hovered my hand over the tech, the components glowing green as they moved around and rearranged themselves.
"Being a machine isn't all bad. When I'm fighting alongside you, I'm a machine. There's perks to it, like never having to worry about going to the bathroom..."
Junon managed a slight laugh. "You're like Adam in many ways, but at the same time, you guys are completely different. I just... I didn't think he would join the New Militia... I definitely said the wrong thing, but I didn't know what to tell him. It was just a shock to see him even alive.
"I just wish he and Aaron came back to me. There is no reason for them to work for Ariandal, yet they are doing it anyway. When is this nightmare going to end? How many more of us are still alive?"
I put the vision module down and turned to her. "You did what you could, Junon. Those two chose it, so I guess we just gotta fight them. I'm sure they'll realize how much of a nutcase Ariandal is eventually. Then we'll welcome them with open arms! Well first I gotta beat Aaron, but then we can welcome them with open arms."
Suddenly, the repulser sparked. Oh crap! I rerouted the reflectors the wrong way!
I quickly rushed to the nearest extinguisher and sprayed the repulser, making my side of the room even more of a mess than it already was.
Every time Junon mentioned Adam, he was always brooding about something. Or he would be in trouble, or he would have done something and regret it later. The more Junon talked about him, the more of a beta male he seemed. Of course, I wasn't one to talk, I was as beta as it was. Despite that, it really made me question. Why would she be into someone who was always like this? Would you date a guy who was always upset with everything around him, even himself? Probably not. If you got to choose between some edgy cyborg emo, or Corinth's most handsomest asian guy, pretty sure you'd choose your boy.
I wrapped the fried repulser concept in a cloth. I guess ill just work on it tomorrow. I sat next to Junon.
"So uh... how did you and Adam... you know..." Junon raised an eyebrow. "How did we get together?"
I nodded. It was a pretty selfish and insecure question, but I was genuinely interested what she saw in the guy.
"I saved Adam thinking he was John Crypt, he had his memories grafted into his mind. We were on the run, and he protected me and my best friend, Ally. We were all unpowered, but John, I mean Adam, was a cyborg. He protected us."
"Wait, John Crypt? Wasn't he that lanky kid with dark powers? Why would anybody want his memories?"
Junon laughed. "I wouldn't call him lanky, in fact he's in Darkstar too. He's one of the leaders."
My eyes went wide. "What? Jason? Nah stop playing around". I laughed. There was no way they were the same person, but Junon's expression was serious.
"Oh my God..." I muttered.
Junon tied her hair back. "Why are you suddenly so interested in my exes?"
I stopped fiddling with a piece of tech that I had accidentally began developing, a moving hexagonal diamond tesseract, as I tried to phrase my questions. "I just wanted to know what about Adam made you like him, that's all. He seemed to always be plagued with something, you know? Like he was either insecure about his powers, or got himself beat up. I just don't see how this-" I waved my hands. "I just don't see how it happened. I don't mean to be rude or anything."
Junon leaned back. "Nope. I totally get what you mean. But the thing is, they were things he never told me. Everything I have told you now was what I figured out myself. Adam's insecurity over being half machine, he never told me directly. But whenever he used his freakish strength to hold back the Automatons while we escaped, or whenever he tried to take a hit, shielding us and exposing his endoskeleton. He always had a face of horror and disgust. He would always try to mask it whenever I asked him about it.
"At the time, I found it annoying. Why would he pretend everything was okay. But then I realized that he was doing it for me. He didn't want me to worry because he knew I was already going through enough trauma. I had watched my entire family being slaughtered by those machines."
The device I made began powering up, emanating a green glow. That usually happened when I was flooded by a wave of emotion. "I- I didn't know. I'm sorry."
Junon glanced at the tech in my hands. "No. You don't have to be. The past is in the past. But to answer your question, I fell in love with Adam because he cared about me in a genuine way. Not in a way that he wanted something in return, but rather in a way where my happiness was his top priority."
I put the tech down. It broke apart into its components and dissolved. "I'll bring Adam home. And Aaron. Even if it means beating those guys up."
Junon looked surprised. "Maybe leave out the beating them up part."
I gave her a thumbs up. "No promises. Don't worry, leave the rest to me."
Chapter 26 - I Take On Some Stealthy Bois
"Hey, brat! Stop running away from us! We're here to help!" I shouted at the kid who was running away from Varen and I.
"A true warrior never runs from danger! You want to be a hero, do you not? Face us so we may talk!" Varen exclaimed. I turned to him.
"Dude what? How is that gonna make things better? You literally just told him we're dangerous!" Varen frowned.
We were on a mission to rescue a kid who was being targeted by the New Militia. Junon had received intel that they wanted his powers for something and stopped at nothing to kill him. Yeah. The New Militia wanted to kill a kid. As a result, he was on the run, and it was our job to keep him safe.
Unfortunately, the kid thought we were the bad guys too.
"Screw this!" I shouted. I extended my hand, and the shards of metal particulate embedded in my jacket fibres extended, transforming into my Rev 4 repulser. I aimed my palm at the kid running, the repulser charging up, the indicator lines on the sides of the bracer glowing green.
"Mavus! What are you doing?! Don't kill him!" Junon's voice appeared in my coms unit.
Varen bounded after the kid while I stood still. The kid kept bobbing and weaving into different buildings. Varen, being the gentlemen he was, barged right through. "Excuse me! Coming through! Don't mind the hole in your walls kind citizens!"
This was so stupid. Why would Junon task us with an extraction mission? I was literally the complete opposite of stealth. The last time I did something stealthy was trying to sneak naps in one of Conlan's lectures. That ended with him putting me on blast in front of Junon.
I guess I'll just do it my own way. I extended my arms, and more of the metal particulate exited my jacket, accumulating into numerous parts of varying sizes, cladding together as I uploaded into Rev 4 of Main. The lights around the perimeter of the helmet lit up, as the mech surged with power from my essence.
"Welcome back, Mavus the Awesome. Conducting background armour check diagnostics." Juno's voice resonated in my mind.
I flew into the air and pinpointed the kid. Varen reached the kid and outstretched his arm, but suddenly, he began to stumble, and an invisible force knocked him into the side of a building. What? What just happened?
Varen got back up and tried to reach the kid again, but he was bombarded with a bunch of projectiles, causing him to fall to his knees. Not good. If Varen was knocked out, they could turn to the kid. Junon apparently figured that out too.
"You need to shield the kid before they get to him too!"
I shot forward and landed in front of the kid. Just as Junon had predicted, a ton of projectiles were launched his way, sparking off my back plates.
"Juno, stream live feed to Junon."
"Acknowledged. Beginning streaming now."
I stepped forward, my foot cracking the pavement.
"Get behind me, if you want to live brat."
My sensors picked up movements in the air, meaning they weren't entirely invisible. I could triangulate their position.
"Juno, use the air currents to extrapolate enemy locations."
Unfortunately, my idea didn't work, as the wind was too random and erratic. Random projectiles from a bunch of places began to bombard my body, dealing more damage than before. I lifted my Rev 4 hand repulser, which expanded into a reflector matrix along the forearm, powering up with green energy. But there was nowhere for Juno to target. I was aiming the repulser blindly.
More projectiles bombarded my armour, and one caught me in the side, sending me into a flower booth. The shop owner and residents began to flee. I guess I didn't need to worry about collateral now.
"The kid! Watch the kid!" Junon's voice appeared on my coms.
Oh yeah, that brat!
I turned around, and realized that he was running from the fray too. "Hey bra-" My sentence was interrupted by a huge shot that caught me in the side of my face, launching me upwards into the top of a building.
Veran managed to regain consciousness. I shouted at him. "Get the kid!" Veran nodded and ran after him while I continued taking blows from the invisible attackers.
The attacker kicked me into the side of a building, my armour breaking through the wall.
"Tier 0, Maven of the Machines." The attacker unveiled his cloak. He was wearing a mask, like a bandana, similar to the one Aaron wore. He looked at me with dead expressionless eyes. "How disappointing."
I moved my fingers, controlling several pods I had planted on the ground during our scuffle. Juno indicated that the pods had locked onto the target, transforming into tiny turrets. Suddenly, the other attackers, probably two in number, destroyed the turrets before I could do anything. The guy went back into stealth, grabbing my armour with freakish strength, and hurled me through another building.
This wasn't going to work. I needed to pinpoint their locations... That's it!
"Juno, equip smoke screen missiles."
My shoulder compartments expanded, revealing several pods, which shot to the ground.
The attackers continued attacking me, when suddenly, the area was covered in smoke. Now I was able to pinpoint these guys.
I readied myself, my HUD locking on to the three silhouettes. My shoulder compartments transformed into repulser mode, aiming down all three attackers. Green flashes of light sent each attacker flying into the building.
I was hoping for Junon to compliment me, but the urgency in her voice cut me off.
"Mavus, Veran's down. I don't know what got him. I'll upload his coordinates."
Chapter 27 - I Get Dismantled.
I activated my thrusters, and flew to his location as fast as I could.
Veran was completely buried in rubble. Before him, several yards away, was the biggest, most bulkiest man I had ever seen. He was glowing black with Corruption, with muscles even bigger than Jason or even Ferris. He was bald, but his face looked horribly scarred. Either that, or he was born that way. I don't have a problem with that! It's the inside that counts!
Even if I didn't have any magic, everything about this guy made me want to run away. I didn't know why. He didn't just look dangerous. He looked like he could end me without even trying.
"Juno... scan for life signals..."
"Vital scan on Varen J'hall complete. Subject alive but unconscious."
The man turned to me, his face the most sinister thing I had ever seen. "Take him."
His eyes lit up red, and Varen's body crackled with black electricity, sending him flying my way. I caught him.
Apparently, I wasn't the only one who found this guy creepy. Junon's frightened voice lit up in my coms.
"Mavus... you need to get out of there. GET OUT NOW. DO NOT ENGAGE. I'M SERIOUS."
She didn't have to tell me twice. Even as a machine, I felt like I couldn't move. Just this guy's presence was overwhelming.
Suddenly, the man walked up to me. I realized I wasn't able to move. In fact, I wasn't able to exit my mech. I was trapped in Main.
"Junon... I can't move. I can't exit out of my mech. This guy's keeping me from exiting my mech!"
Junon took several deep breaths. "Okay... what would Amana do..." she whispered. Great. So even Junon was fresh out of ideas. I wasn't able to move, and I was unable to leave my mech. But I could still build.
I opened up my shoulder compartment, which fired a sentry pod. I commanded it to carry Varen back to the Fortress. I fired two more sentry pods to provide them cover.
"Junon, I'm going to distract this guy. Send Darkstar, Conlan, everybody. I... I can't beat this guy." I was telling the truth. This was coming from someone who fought two Tier 0's and lived to tell the tale. This guy... he was on another level. Way beyond Tier 0... almost like... a god.
"Trill is creating a portal for you. Once it opens, enter it as fast as you can. Please... come back to me Mavus."
The man laughed. "So the Machine T0 challenges me to a bout. Interesting... Come."
I felt my body able to move again. If I was going to keep this guy off of Varen, I needed to give it my A-game.
"Juno, opponent analysis."
"Error. Unknown power parameters. No data analyzed."
Great. I opened up my shoulder compartments, firing several chunks of tech at the man's way. Restrainers with embedded draining modules utilizing the strongest electromagnetism possible. The restrainers hit the man's body, and began to expand, transforming into multiple heavy duty mechanical restraints.
I shot into the air with my thrusters, arcing wide, then approached him.
"Juno, activate concentrated Armada missile array."
My shoulders and back compartments all expanded, firing dozens of missiles at the man. I swooped up out of the view as the missiles hit the man head on, causing massive green explosions and a huge shockwave, shaking the entire city.
My HUD zoomed in on the man, who was still restrained, but he looked completely unharmed, and his face... was grinning? He turned his creepy face in my direction.
I stopped and activated my thrusters, landing on the ground, cracking the pavement. My compartments all expanded again, transforming them into my reflectors and hand repulser cannons.
"Juno, concentrated Armada hyperthreaded incineration beam"
My weapons fired, a massive green incineration beam aimed right at the man. My restraints all melted, as the beam burned a massive hole through the city and the ground, leaving behind a burning apocalyptic cylindrical wasteland. Despite this, the man was still unharmed, his black aura crackling. I couldn't believe my eyes. That blast was designed to eliminate Giantkiller and his sword Rigor. It should have at least given a little char on this guy. He shook it off like it was nothing.
"You done?" He asked.
"Not a chance." I muttered.
I activated my propulsors on my shoulders, forearms, legs, and back.
"Juno, full acceleration mode."
I shot forward with immense speed, my body crackling with green electricity as I broke the sound barrier. My arm elongated into a massive fist, as my armour relayed all the kinetic energy into one massive left hook onto the guy's face.
The punch caused a massive shockwave that levelled multiple buildings, possibly the whole city. The man's head cocked to the side. Yes! I finally got him.
My victory was short lived, as he turned back to me. The punch did nothing aside from giving a tiny little scratch on his cheek.
"My turn." He said.
Probably the last words his victims heard. Because the moment he said that, he punched me in my midsection. Everything felt like slow motion as the shockwave rippled through my entire mechanical body. I was sent airborne, crashing through dozens of buildings.
Everything went black for a few seconds. My vision suddenly returned. My HUD indicated that I was re-initializing my systems, and that almost all of my systems were offline.
I looked down, and realized that my entire body was busted up. The armouring was pretty much in pieces, my body was just wires and components exposed, with barely any plating to cover it up. My body was sparking and sizzling, occasional electrical discharge, if I so much as moved my head. My vision was completely cracked, and only like 10% of my HUD was visible. Juno was also offline.
I stared up at the man, who had suddenly materialized in front of me. I looked around. I had crashed into a building, on top of its rubble. I was sent flying through dozens of buildings, leaving behind a trail of destruction. This guy managed to close this distance in the blink of an eye. His speed was unfathomable.
"What... who are you?" I asked, my voice completely distorted and malfunctioning from a busted up speech box.
"A shame, that you did not join my young subordinate in her ranks. She was most displeased, and was insistent on taking you into her ranks. But I just don't see it." The man bent down, and grabbed my mechanical head, crushing it, as my vision began to flicker on and off.
"You humans sure get overconfident when gaining abilities and magic. Metahumans was it? A shame that the upper limits of humanity's potential, the famed Tier Zero, was upheld by such paranoid inferiors. It's almost... disappointing. I have already terminated the vision link between you and Ariandal. A mere waste of time in my opinion. What do you think?"
A piece of my mechanical arm fell off my body. It broke into pieces and dissolved.
A portal suddenly appeared behind me, and all the members of Darkstar emerged, including Junon. Junon pulled out her crossbow and began firing at the man. The bolts dissolved in the man's Corruption aura.
Jason and Blackflame stepped forward, but suddenly, Sam froze.
"No way... he's... he's..."
The man dropped me. Jason summoned his dark energy tendrils to collect my body back to the portal. Sam was still staring at the man in shock.
The man laughed. It sounded like the most horrifying thing ever, like a knife grinding against rock.
"A Paladin Reincarnation! What a surprise! Young Decen never ceases to surprise me."
I concentrated, and exited the mech, rematerializing my body. Junon crushed me in a hug. We looked at the man. For some reason, all of Darkstar was frozen in fear.
The man regarded us all.
"Young Calliope has been drawing this battle for too long during my absence. But hear this now, little resistance. No one shall stand in the way of my goals. The New Militia serve me. The Corruption serves me, for I am the Corruption.
"I am Mogul, the Aspect of Sin."
Chapter 28 - Bruh
"Mogul has returned... I didn't think he would return so quickly." A green haired woman who introduced herself has Merrow Rivenlight had suddenly strolled up to the Fortress, accompanied by Sam and Jason. She was apparently Decen's Guardian, who was a Paladin. Sam was his reincarnation. Yeah, just thinking about it made me confused.
I put up my hand. "So who is Mogul, and how in the world has he been under the radar for so long, and how is he so friggin strong?!"
Junon put my hand down. Lazarus performed a couple hand gestures, creating a rune in the air which generated a holographic image of the guy in all his horrific glory. Merrow narrated in the background while the hologram rotated, as if seeing one view of this dude wasn't bad enough.
"In the ancient times, there lived a race of beings known as the Acadians. The Acadians were known for their ability of creation and destruction. The Acadians made a deal with a race of deities known as the Aspects, to honour them in exchange for their powers.
"These powers allowed the Acadians to flourish, and soon they ruled over a land much larger than its neighbouring countries, known as Acadia. They passed power down to certain people to be their protectors and soldiers. These warriors served the Acadians with their lives, and were known as the Paladins. The Paladins were extremely powerful, being derived from the power of the Acadians, and by extension, the Aspects. For years, the Paladins ruled the world, the sentries of Acadia, striking fear and respect to those who heard their names."
I started to doze off, but Junon elbowed me back away. "Pay attention!" She whispered at me. Merrow continued.
"Over time, the Acadians broke their promise, and instead of worshipping the Aspects, they claimed their powers of creation and destruction to be their own. The Aspects did not take lightly to this betrayal.
"It took Decen's death and years of study to realize that on that day, the Acadians had built a monument, an idol of themselves, for their followers to worship. Paladins who stayed in Acadia honoured the celebration. Enraged, the Aspects sent Mogul, the Aspect of Sin, to destroy Acadia. The Paladins joined forces with the Acadians to defeat Mogul, but all were slain."
I shuddered. No wonder Mogul was so powerful. He killed an entire legion of Paladins. I barely held my own against Blackflame, who was just a reincarnation of only one.
"Mogul tracked Decen down, and despite fighting our hardest, we were defeated. Decen was killed, and I have been on the run since. I isolated myself in a time dilated region to keep myself safe. Every so often, Mogul's followers would approach me."
Merrow looked at Jason, nodding at him to continue. Jason straightened his back. And continued the story.
"A few years ago, Lazarus and I realized that Mogul had been continuing his schemes in the darkness. Leading a new band of warriors under the name of the Shadow Legion. It was the Shadow Legion that corrupted the Mage Militia and worked with Calliope Ariandal, forming the New Militia. Mogul had been hiding ever since, giving the lead to Calliope. But now that he has returned, I don't know... I think he's decided to take the reigns of control again."
Lazarus stood up. "This means that the enemy has begun to advance once more, this time, Mogul is in control. Meaning our plans of defeating Calliope in hopes of shattering the New Militia have now gone out the window. We have a much bigger threat."
Jason continued. "What we currently have is not enough. I plan on going with Sam and Merrow to retake Sentry from Calliope. As for Lazarus..."
Lazarus turned to me. "I'm going to work on getting you stronger, Mavus."
I stared at him. "Ummm do you even know anything about machines? No offense. But I've been trying to get stronger from day one of meeting Giantkiller. The rate of improvement hasn't been increasing enough to beat this dude. I went in as Rev 4, using Rev 5 technology for some of my weapons, and Mogul turned me into a metal paste."
Lazarus laughed. "No, I don't. But my plan is a bit different from developing new revisions to combat the enemy."
He created another hologram. It looked like some kind of space planet thing.
"This is the Achilles Formation. It was an old artifact that has been studied by a ton of mages."
I looked at the big space donut. "So what does it do? Give me high blood pressure?"
Lazarus expanded the hologram. "It's designed to bring out the absolute highest potential checkpoint of someone. The power surging through the Achilles is known to evolve a warrior far past his or her limits, essentially drawing out their maximum potential, and unlocking a new level of power."
I stared at him again. "Wow, that sounds sweet! Why didn't you just give this to everybody here? This war would be over in seconds!"
Lazarus looked at me. "That would be nice! But the caveat is that the power surging through the Achilles is so great, that it is equal to twenty stars. No person can withstand that level of damage... which is why you are the best fit for such a powerup.
"Your body is a machine, well when you're uploaded anyway. The energy will definitely damage you, but won't kill you as long as you constantly rebuild yourself. That's what I think."
I looked at the hologram. "So what are you proposing?"
Lazarus closed the hologram. "I'm saying it's time for you to unlock your next level of power, and evolve."
Chapter 29 - The Not So Great Reveal
"We're going to die!!!" I screamed. I was burying my face in Junon's backside as Lazarus transported us around Millennium City in his "rune flyer".
"Calm down, Mavus. You're not going to die! You're literally the most powerful member of the resistance!" Junon scolded me.
Lazarus chuckled as we landed on the ground. Millennium City looked like a completely different scene than Corinth. While Corinth looked magical and fantasy-like, Millennium City looked the complete reverse. Industrialized, and flying cars. Wait what? Flying cars?
We passed by a couple of buildings, heading to the Millennium City jet. "Umm, so why are we here? I thought the place we needed to be was in some spaceship."
Lazarus turned around. "We need to be able to locate the Achilles. We're going to seek the Magnum Mage himself, Archmage Caliburn."
After a short jet plane flight, we ended up in Vibora Bay. The place looked like it was completely dark 24/7. You know those really sketchy neighbourhoods where you would try to avoid knowing someone would try offer you drugs? That's basically Vibora Bay. The fact that this Caliburn guy lived here was beyond me. I guess he specialized in the good old V magic. V for Voodoo.
"So why's he called Magnum Mage? How many flings has he had?" I asked.
Junon sighed and tucked her hair behind her ear. I loved it when she did that. "You shouldn't underestimate Caliburn. He's called the Magnum Mage because of his ability to enchant his firearms in combat."
"Doesn't Lupine do the same thing?"
"Yeah, Caliburn trained Lupine."
My mouth hung open like an idiot. Lazarus laughed. "Yep. After gaining the soul gems, he became the archmage. All powerful. He helped Tob defeat Therakiel."
"Damn, he must be friggin strong! Can't wait to meet him!"
We found Caliburn unconscious in his apartment. Lazarus and Junon ran to his side, but were blocked by a wall of diamonds.
"Best stay away now." Freaking Street Angels! You're kidding me!
"No, you should be the one staying away." I growled. I raised my hand, my jacket releasing metal dust that accumulated into my Rev 5 Repulser. The weapon elongated, four channellers converging into a single source stemming from the palm of my hand. The source glowed green, as a flash of green light shattered and disintegrated the wall of diamonds.
I aimed the repulser at the guy again and fired, but a flash of orange light sliced the blast. Only one person was able to move that fast.
"Giantkiller." I muttered. Aaron stood before the Street Angel, also wearing his Street Angel mask, wielding Rigor the Annoying, which was still steaming with orange flame.
"Mavus. Don't interfere with our mission. Or you'll be eliminated too."
"Funny, I was going to say the same to you."
I released all the metal particles in my jacket, and uploaded into a fully assembled Rev 5 Main. I unveiled my incineration cannons, my HUD aimed completely at Aaron.
"The gems..." Caliburn croaked. "You don't know what you are doing, biker kid..."
The Street Angel cut him off. "Zip it, mage man. Your words don't matter. We're only here for the gems. Don't think just because you're some high and mighty Archmage" the Angel began making flamboyant gestures, "that you get to tell us what to do. We're here to give the gems to our boss."
"That won't be necessary." A voice suddenly boomed, dark as malice, and unfortunately, I recognized who it was.
A dark portal appeared. Lazarus' eyes went wide. Mogul emerged from the portal.
"Calliope Ariandal is no longer in charge, for I have returned. As for her delusional faith in recruiting meta humans..." Mogul closed in on the diamond Street Angel, the mere shockwave of his movement sending him through the walls of the apartment.
"Marcus!" Aaron shouted, drawing Rigor. "You'll pay for that, scumbag." Aaron shot forward with unbelievable speed behind Mogul, and swung Rigor.
Mogul caught it with two fingers. Aaron was in shock, his eyes going wide.
"What... this isn't possible..." Mogul smiled, his already creepy face becoming creepier. "Strength meta, Tier Zero, you have no idea what is possible when you aren't limited by the restraints of humanity."
Mogul rotated Rigor upwards, sending Aaron flying into the ceiling with just his fingers. This dude's strength was ridiculous. Aaron hit the ground, coughing up dust.
"No one can... wield Rigor's weight... much less the fingers..." Aaron was in shock. Mogul walked up to Aaron, and flicked his finger, sending him through multiple buildings.
Junon and Lazarus managed to drag a barely conscious Caliburn out of the building. Junon looked me in the eye. There was no mistaking it. She wanted me to run. I tried to bolt, but I realized that I wasn't able to move again.
Mogul turned to me, walking to my mechanical body. His strength, no. His speed, his power, his intimidation. Everything... was overwhelmingly strong.
"Does it scare you, Mavus Shaw?" The way Mogul said my name made me want to crawl up into a ball and die. It felt like dying was the only way of escaping this guy's wrath. Despite this, I couldn't move, or even exit my mech. It was the same the last encounter too.
Junon pulled out her crossbow, and began firing bolts at Mogul, but the bolts were once again disintegrated on impact. Mogul turned to her. "A human... without powers... interesting. Don't mistake stupidity for courage."
He began to close in on Junon. "As much as it pains me to come here myself, Calliope's subordinates are quite useless. I deserve a little reward for doing the chore of calling off her pointless mission myself. I will claim the lives of only one of you today." I struggled to move. Anything. Build anything! I screamed Junon's name but my voice box was offline.
Suddenly, Aaron zoomed in so fast, as if he had materialized in front of Junon. He wound up a punch and threw it right at Mogul's face, creating a massive shockwave that levelled the entire apartment. My mechanical body went flying, and I was able to stabilize myself. Aaron had broken the paralysis thing that Mogul put on me!
I shot to Junon's position, and my back compartments released several sentry bots, one for Junon, one for Caliburn, and one for Lazarus. I turned around.
The smoke dissipated, and Mogul looked down on Giantkiller. His face completely unharmed. Aaron stared at the monster. "Why... why are you attacking us? We serve the New Militia."
Mogul grabbed Aaron's wrist, crushing it. Aaron roared in pain. "Little meta human, you are in no position to question my authority. Tell me, what did Calliope promise you in return for serving us?"
Aaron muttered through the pain. "New Croft... a home... for the families we serve to protect... She promised us a home for the survivors! I'll stop at nothing to give them a home..."
Mogul laughed his horrific laugh. "My child..." Mogul let go of Aaron's wrist. "New Croft is not real."
Aaron's face was nothing but shock. "What...?"
Mogul turned and his eye glowed, showing a hologram. It was horrific to look at. Hundreds of people were thrown into a pit, that resembled a city, only the bottom was pure black fire. The screams of the people were horrific, even if it was just a hologram, it felt... real.
"New Croft is a fabrication of the Pit of Corruption that feeds my essence." He turned to Aaron, his face was just pure devastation. "It's okay, child. Even Calliope believes it to be a safe haven. One of the core attributes of Sin. The lie, a power just as strong as Corruption, once wielded by the Acadians, and passed onto Humanity."
Aaron stared at Mogul, he looked so defeated, I felt bad. I turned and realized Junon and Lazarus were also in shock. Then it hit me. This whole war, this whole battle between Ariandal and the Resistance. It was all built from a lie. Mogul had orchestrated the whole thing.
Everybody was being played from the very start. The Inquisition, Team Darkstar, The Street Angels, even Calliope Ariandal.
"Everything I have done... it was off of a false promise..." Aaron's eyes were welling up in tears. Mogul looked at him, then at me. "What will you do, meta humans? Shall we continue? Or will you continue to serve me, Street Angel."
Aaron's tears streamed down his face. He turned to me, Junon, and Lazarus.
"Go to the world, outside Corinth. Find a church, there you will find a girl by the name of Hannah. Keep her safe for me. And tell her I'm sorry that I couldn't keep my promise."
I stared at Aaron. "What, what are you saying?"
Marcus emerged from the rubbles of the walls. "GK! What are you doing? Forget him! We need to get out of here." Junon snapped out of her shock. "He's right! Aaron, come with us! The people can still have a home with the Inquisition! We can get them past the barrier with our mages! Don't give up hope! Come back to me!"
Aaron cut them both off, yelling furiously. "We CAN'T! Can't you see?" He turned to Mogul, who was smiling evilly. "We can't escape him. Not unless someone stays behind."
Mogul laughed. "A sacrifice! How noble little Angel. I will play along with this charade, it has been too long since I drew blood. For that, I thank you for being a volunteer."
Aaron swiped Rigor, sending Marcus, Lazarus, Caliburn, and Junon away from the apartment. He turned to me.
"A Street Angel's duty is to throw away his humanity to protect the people he loves. My hands have been stained with the blood of my victims. This is what I have sworn my life to do. Leave us."
Aaron threw something at me. It was one of his gloves. Stitched on the side was the name "Hannah".
I glared at Mogul. "I will kill you. Not today, not tomorrow, but someday. I will become strong enough to stop you for good."
Mogul laughed. "I welcome the challenge, meta human."
I activated my thrusters, and flew away from the skirmish, as I could hear the booms and shockwaves of Rigor's swings, and Aaron's final battlecry.
The battlecry of a warrior's last stand.
Chapter 30 - My Cheat Code Gets Robbed
I was silent the whole ride to the Achilles Formation. Aaron's glove was still in my hand. I stared at it, remembering what he had told me.
"Find a church, there you will find a girl by the name of Hannah. Keep her safe for me. And tell her I'm sorry that I couldn't keep my promise."
Aaron... he gave his life up not just for us, but for everybody. He went down fighting, knowing that he wouldn't be able to see Hannah ever again. I needed to give this glove to her, after I received this power up.
Junon didn't say anything to me during the entire trip. This wasn't the time for cracking jokes. If only I had focused on getting stronger from the start, instead of fooling around with my friends, being an arrogant snob, and being overconfident, none of this could have happened. I could have defeated Mogul right there and then... I could have... I should have...
"Hey." Junon took out a Kleenex and wiped the tears on my face. I was definitely crying, but for the first time, I didn't care what Junon thought. I needed to cry. Because I was being such a stupid punk who only cared about my own reputation, I got someone killed. Aaron had a girlfriend probably still waiting for him in that church, not knowing he will never come back.
"You're being too hard on yourself." She put her hand on my shoulder.
"How can I not be? Aaron is dead because I was too busy fooling around! I should have rescued him too. I should have done something. I should have created a bunch of mechs to distract Mogul or-"
"Or what? Shoot him with a bunch of missiles? Lasers? Mogul was too fast, there was nothing you could have done. This was not your fault. No matter how long you spent cooping up in our room like that, it would not have been enough to beat him. What matters is we don't put Aaron's sacrifice in vain."
We continued flying in some weird magic jet that belonged to Caliburn. He was also silent, but he set the jet to auto and turned to us.
"The Giantkiller is still alive."
I stared at him. "What? Did the Street Angels beat the common sense out of you? How could Aaron still be alive? He fought freaking Mogul dude. The same guy who took my incineration beam and missile barrage that was capable of wiping down an entire city head on with no damage."
Caliburn shook his head. "I can tell if someone has died or not. As a former Archmage, I've retained the remnants of its power. Aaron Sterling lives... but if Mogul spared him, that means the likely outcome is he's become prisoner. Which ain't so great."
"I'll bet." I grumbled.
Junon looked at Caliburn. "If it's true that he's held prisoner, there should still be a chance to rescue him! Jason, Blackflame, and Merrow went to the Capita on a stealth mission to retake the soul creature Sentry, maybe they might be able to free Aaron!"
Caliburn went back to the jet. "Maybe."
Lazarus nodded. "Well, right now, we need to focus on giving Mavus the Achilles boost. One thing at a time."
We continued flying to the Achilles Formation.
The Achilles Formation was just like the hologram described it to be. A giant space donut. It was hard to believe this place didn't have any visitors more often. But then again, it was floating in the middle of outer space. We docked the jet and landed on the station.
The place was... alien. But at the same time it was elegant, like it had some kind of sophistication and class. Elegant lines decorated the walls, but grey and white tiles and structural elements retained the high tech vibe. It was as if the technological era met the Classical era and produced this place. It was...
"Beautiful..." Junon gasped. Lazarus donned his trench coat. "Yup. The Achilles Formation was built by some alien race, but no one knows to this day who or what built it. All we knew was that it was almost impossible to locate as its cloaking technology was that advanced. This was why we went to go see Archmage... well Former Archmage Caliburn."
Caliburn stayed on the jet. "I'll be waiting here, you guys go on ahead. When you're ready to leave, just hop on and we can fly home." We entered a set of tall doors, and entered the Formation.
Our plan went completely sideways as we were bombarded by a bunch of guards. They looked weird, their heads were triangular in shape, but had humanoid bodies. They fired orbs of light that nearly decapitated Lazarus until he stopped it with a spatial rune.
I uploaded into Rev 5 Main and activated my Rev 5 Hyperthreaded Repulsers. Three green beams of light converged per hand as I blasted the guards away.
"Nice" Lazarus said. Then he pointed at the doors, which were opening to hundreds of more guards. "Hope you got more where that came from... way more."
We continued fighting through the hordes of guards, with Lazarus shoots fireballs from a bunch of runes, Junon shooting her crossbow, and me firing my repulser beams. I didn't know what these guys were, so I decided to keep it safe and stay with repulsers to avoid killing them.
"The main room!" Lazarus shouted. Junon and I ran through, while Lazarus sealed the door shut with a concealing rune.
The place looked freaky, it was open to space, no. It was open to something else, like a huge arena the size of a football stadium. Tons of metal-like tubes ran around the place, and circled a central source of cyan energy, which glowed so bright I had to look away before my eyeballs melted.
The main room was of a different style than the rest of the place, while the rest of the station looked elegant and classy, this place... it looked like a forge. Black and cyan, like the center source.
"Creepy..." I muttered.
"Excuse me?" Said a raspy voice.
I screamed and hid behind Junon. The voice belonged to some old hag. I peered from behind Junon's shoulder and realized that this hag wasn't human. Not in the slightest. Her third eye peered at me, glowing cyan.
I hid behind Junon again, causing her to sigh. I guess it did look pretty stupid, considering I was still in Main, a towering six foot robot stacked with armour.
Junon stepped forward. "We're looking for the Achilles Boost, how do we activate it?"
The hag regarded us, then looked at Lazarus. "A mage without mana, a warrior maiden without powers, and a bumbling fool."
"The power you seek in this sanctioned formation can only be granted to those worthy for it. It is not up to me to decide who is worthy... but rather what fate decides". The hag pointed at her third eye. I felt like vomiting all over the sanctioned formation. But I was next to Junon. I needed to keep the vomit in.
The old lady spread her hands, causing the tech around her to move around, rearranging into a chamber, with several restraints for the arms to latch onto. I knew that contraption all too well from watching superhero movies.
"Should you be worthy... place your hands there, and the beam from the source will automatically channel to you. But be aware, that it is equal to that of twenty suns. Those who are unworthy, or waver in their concentration will disintegrate instantly."
Lazarus nodded. "I see. Thank you. We need this power to advance our battle against Mogul."
The woman regarded Lazarus. "During the process of transfer, you will be confronted by the beast, Targon of the Formation.
"Targon is unlike any monster you have ever faced. The fated battle between the warrior and Targon shall dictate whether the warrior truly deserves the power they have been granted. The final test."
I laughed. "We've taken on some pretty tough monsters lady." But her glare shut me up instantly.
"No. I have seen your past and your life. The opponents you have fought are nothing compared to Targon. In terms of power alone, Targon is the closest to Lord Mogul you will ever fight."
I scratched my head. "Well, I'm sure once I get the power up, it'll be a piece of cake."
"Huh? What did you say?"
"I'm saying you're not worthy."
My mouth hung open. "What? You literally just said it wasn't up to you to decide who was worthy!"
"Yes, but it is fate that dictates it. You clearly are not worthy. My third eye forsees it."
"So what about your third eye?"
Lazarus interrupted me. "She is a seer, I see."
The lady turned to Lazarus. "Perceptive mage. It is true. I am a seer, and I am telling you all this now."
She turned to me.
"Mavus Shaw will not be the one to inherit the Achilles Boost. He is not the hero in this story."
Chapter 31 - Space Granny Steals My Powers
"Like hell do I care about the opinion of some rotting granny! I'll get the boost whether you think I'm worthy or not!"
I stepped to the platform, but suddenly the hag stopped me. Her hand was held up, and all of a sudden, I felt my body extract from Main. My body rematerialized, as Main broke apart into components and pieces.
Junon grabbed her crossbow and Lazarus prepared another offence rune, but they were both pinned down by the hag, who's third eye was glowing.
I rebuilt Main and uploaded into it. Wait. Nothing was happening.
"I've taken one of your abilities, since you are still too stubborn to accept your role in this battle." The hag regarded me.
"What? What did you do? I can't upload!"
"So that's what it is. Upload."
"This isn't some kind of game! We got lives at stake! Give me the damn boost!"
The lady looked at me. "You're not worthy of the boost, but as my eye tells me you still have a role to play in this battle. A crucial one, in the final showdown. But it won't involve you using the Achilles Boost. That power... goes to her."
She pointed at Junon.
"Umm what?" I replied.
The hag went up to Junon, taking her hands. "Junon Gareth, the only warrior of Darkstar who never had powers, risked her life to the battlefield from the very first day of the team's inception. She had chosen to fight the New Militia, against overwhelming odds. It has been foretold, that she would be the one to end the showdown."
Lazarus looked at Junon. "So she will be the one to take the power of the Achilles? But what if she can't?"
"If she can't... she will die." I stared at Junon. "No. I have to be the one to do it. I can't let you be the one to-"
Junon cut me off. "I'll do it." She turned to me. "If I die, I die. This is bigger than the both of us. We need this power-up."
Junon entered the chamber, as the arena began to power up, glowing cyan. She grabbed the two restraints with her arms as her body began to glow. Her eyes closed but clearly under a lot of strain.
"No! Junon!" I ran up to the chamber but was blasted away, my body crackling with cyan energy as it felt like my insides were unravelling.
"Mavus! Stop! You need to let her do this." Lazarus held me back.
The hag looked at the two of us. "The mage is right. Under normal circumstances, Targon would emerge once the process has completed to challenge the evolved warrior, however since the two of you are here... he will not take this lightly. Be prepared to hold off the monster while the process completes."
Junon grunted from the pain of the energy, when suddenly the beam shot right at her body. Junon cried in pain.
"Junon!" I yelled. The beam encased her body, and soon was completely wreathed in a cyan ball, electricity and wind spiralling outwards.
A roar broke the scene, as a huge monster emerged from the arena. It had seven heads like a hydra, but its body... was alien in appearance, with plating like I had never seen before.
"Targon... good luck, warriors." The hag turned to me. "It is only when you have lost something, will you be given room to grow. You may not be worthy of the Achilles Boost, but you have the potential to bend the rules a bit. I have foreseen it." Suddenly she dissipated into cyan sparks.
"No..." I muttered. Junon was going to die, and we were expected to take on a monster that was said to be the strongest being yet. I lost my Upload powers, and now... now...
"Mavus." Lazarus put his hand on my shoulder. "We will hold the monster off, whatever it takes. Remember what Aaron told you."
I thought back to what Aaron had told me. I needed to find Hannah. I needed to protect her and rescue him from Mogul's clutches. I couldn't give up now. There's still a chance Junon could be worthy, I wasn't giving her enough faith.
I looked at Main. "There's nothing I can do. I'm just a walking target, I can't upload either my body or my consciousness into that thing."
Lazarus cut me off. "I thought you were a fan of Titanium Man. Why don't you just do what he does? And turn Main into a suit of armour?"
He was right. I was always scared of wearing my mechs as a suit, mostly because I didn't want to be part of the fray. It was always better to upload myself into them. There was no reason to put myself in danger. But this time was different. I had to do it. There was no backing off now.
I put my hands up, and Main began to rumble, transforming into its suit form, open for me to slip in. I entered the suit as the components wrapped around my body, man and machine, becoming one. It was super badass, just like those suit up scenes in Titanium Man, but it was also super uncomfortable.
The helmet closed around my face. The systems initialized, and I saw the HUD with my own eyes for the first time.
"Welcome operator. Initializing armour optimizing processes."
I felt the components whirl and move around my body, as the fit became more intuitive and comfortable. I examined my hand, which was armoured with Rev 5.
I turned to Lazarus. My movements felt... smoother. No. Almost buttery smooth. It didn't feel mechanical and forced, like when I was uploaded before. My movements were liberal, and much more intuitive. I put my hand into a fist.
I turned to Targon, my HUD lighting up with markers and information on the monster. My mind was subconsciously interacting with the systems, it always did that when uploaded, but in my human form, this intensity was greater.
"Let's kick that thing's ass."
Chapter 32 - I Get My Own Cheat Code
I flew into the air, bombarding Targon with explosive missiles, flying away and igniting the detonator, causing massive explosions on the hide. Targon was unaffected. Lazarus flew alongside me, firing fireballs and bolts of lightning at the guy. We weren't doing jack to this dude's armour.
I dodged and weaved, following Juno's dodging algorithm to avoid being hit by the monster's quills. I got in position and aimed my palms. My forearms expanded, wrapping around the my palms to charge up my Rev 5 incinerators.
Two massive beams fired from the palms of my hand, burning Targon's hide. It began to glow green, but there was no evidence that it was taking damage. Lazarus wasn't having much luck either.
We continued the fight for fifteen minutes. Every time Junon yelled in pain, my heart felt like it was being twisted. Lazarus and I were not doing anything to this thing, and Lazarus was starting to tire out from repeatedly using rune magic.
Our luck ran out when Targon managed a hit on Lazarus, who managed to absorb most of the damage with a defence rune, though the effort sent him flying unconscious into the side of the arena.
Targon roared at me. I landed, extending my arms, which unveiled more components, merging into a giant automatic triple barrelled chain gun. I bombarded the inside of its mouth with hundreds of energy bullets; concentrated energy blasts that was aimed more on penetration than collateral. It didn't matter if it was just one chain gun attacking this guy. I was only one mech now, and I wasn't even uploaded, meaning all of my power was being concentrated on this suit. There was no way he could get out of this unscathed. This was my Planet Buster Beam broken apart into hundreds of rounds.
He got out unscathed. I separated the chain gun and the two halves transformed back into my arm compartments. This guy...
Junon screamed in pain. I turned, and Juno managed to get a clear image of Junon. She was starting to burn away from the energy!
"Junon!" I yelled. Suddenly, Targon's tail appeared with frightening speed. I couldn't react in time, and I was sent hurtling through the side of the arena.
My armour was cracked and damaged. I emerged from the ruins, but it was pretty much over. Even with the ultra threaded new alloy that I used for Rev 5's armouring, it wasn't enough to absorb all the damage. At least two of my ribs were cracked, and my side was on fire.
I fell to my knee. I looked up and realized that Targon was still being engaged by Lazarus, who was on his last legs. Lazarus looked at me, and shouted. "It's not over yet! We need to keep fighting! Get up Mavus!"
No. I couldn't do it. There was nothing we could do. Junon's cries of pain, with my inadequate technology and firepower. The situation was too hopeless. It wasn't a matter of how advanced my weapons were... it was the fact that me. My energy, my power. It wasn't strong enough. I wasn't strong enough.
"What are you doing?!" Lazarus yelled. "Don't give up! Look!"
I turned and saw Junon. Her burns were starting to get more severe the glow no longer from the beam of Achilles energy, but from her own body.
Lazarus got smacked by the tail once more and slid to me. "You... need to keep fighting... I've done all I can..." Lazarus croaked. He lost consciousness.
I stood before Targon. My armour cracked, damaged. My HUD was flickering on and off. I grabbed my mask and ripped it off, exposing my face to the atmosphere. It felt weird. Seeing myself like this. I never thought I would end up here. In space, not uploaded in my mech. Wearing it like a suit. No, that wasn't it.
I looked at my hand again. The repulser was pretty much busted, pieces of my armour had already broken off, revealing internal components, servos. I clenched my fist. I looked at Junon, who was giving it her all to withstand the beam of the Achilles Energy. I needed to go beyond my limits, but I didn't know how. Think Mavus. Think.
You've lost your ability to upload. You're now more vulnerable than ever, wearing your technology as a suit. Everything about you has changed. But despite this, the hag told me that it was at times like this, would I find ways to grow. She was right, in a way. I grew mentally. I stepped out of my comfort zone and fought this guy in my human body for once in my life. I threw away my pride, and decided to fight with everything I had. I was taking on an impossible challenge no longer for my own sake or my reputation. I was doing it for other people.
"You have the potential to bend the rules" the seer had told me.
Bend the rules. The rules. I wasn't worthy, not in the slightest. I didn't deserve the boost. I looked at the beam of Achilles Energy. Junon couldn't handle it, despite giving it her all. At the end of the day, she was just a human. But... so was I. I didn't deserve the boost, but...
I activated my thrusters, and flew to the source of the beam, the centre of the arena. Targon roared at me like I was crazy. Which I was. But I had to do this. If the beam was too much for Junon to handle, maybe half of it would be. If I lived, then great. But if I died, then screw you fate. At least Junon got her power to beat Mogul. That's all that matters.
I approached the well of cyan energy. It was being emanated from a metallic sphere, which was pulsating with power. I looked at my armoured hands again. I willed my armour to repair, but it didn't work. I guess when that old hag had taken my Upload ability, she also severely reduced my technopathy as well. I wasn't able to build anything as often anymore, like I had a cool down. Great.
"Ok guys. I guess this is it. Hope you guys still have one last ride in ya."
I took a deep breath. I looked behind me. Targon had backed off, probably curious as to what was going to happen.
"If this doesn't work, tell Junon that I love her. I loved her from the first day I saw her in school, till now. I kept it a secret from her out of embarrassment, to the point where I wasn't able to tell her directly. And you probably have no idea what I'm saying do you."
Targon continued to look at me. Screw it. Let's do this.
I grabbed the sphere with both of my hands, and it felt like a gajillion volts of electricity was flowing through my body. I screamed in pain, as my armour began to overload in power, the green lights on my armour glowing brighter and brighter. My armour began to crack even more, the cracks glowing cyan from the Achilles energy. It wasn't just overloading my armour, or even my body. I could feel my essence getting stronger and stronger, at the cost of destroying everything.
My vision was swimming with yellow spots, but I managed to catch a glimpse of Junon. The beam going to her had halved, and she was beginning to channel it better. Her burns were started to regenerate.
It was working, but I felt like I wasn't able to keep this up any longer. Every muscle in my body told me to let go, but I held on with everything I had. Suddenly my mind was flooded with memories. Voices from the many people who had helped me get to this moment.
"If I die, I die. This is bigger than the both of us."
"Bend the rules"
"Find a church, there you will find a girl by the name of Hannah."
"A Street Angel's duty is to throw away his humanity to protect the people he loves."
My memories went farther back in time. From when Junon had kissed me for the first time.
"I began to realize that I didn't have everything. I didn't have a reason to stay on this world, until I met you. You're the reason I want to keep living."
Then my entire vision changed. We were at the Imperium. Junon had given me my jacket as a gift.
"When I first witnessed your powers, I was amazed. Happy even. I thought that we finally found the guy who was able to turn the tide against Ariandal. But as more and more of Darkstar doubted me, exposing your weakness I lost that happiness. But now that you're wearing this jacket, I'm reminded of why I was so happy in the first place."
My vision began to shift back to reality. I saw my own reflection in the metallic sphere. My original green energy that powered my suit was gone. My eyes. My eyes that normally lit up green whenever I used my technopathy was... cyan. The colour of the Achilles Energy. It wasn't just my eyes, but my energy. My meta human life force energy, was no longer green. My meta human energy had merged with the Achilles Energy.
"You gave me hope, Mavus."
I roared, as I crushed the sphere in my hands, the metal around it bunching together, merging with my armour. I was Junon's hope. My body began to restore itself, the nanites in my necklace that Leo Valdez had given me that I never figured out how to use burst open, merging with my body, saving the blueprint of my new suit.
Revision 6. The merge completed, and my armour had evolved. Elegant yet minimal gold lines, arcing the new streamlined black armour plating on my suit. The material, no longer a titanium alloy, but an alloy similar to the metals on this ship, reinforced my suit with even greater durability than before.
I turned to Targon, my foot stomping the ground, crushing it, and if it was possible for a monster to be impressed, he had that expression. The armour began to develop to my collar, then the back of my head.
My mask returned, assembled, it automatically clicked in place, covering my face. The eye slots glowed cyan with my new meta human power.
"Round 2, pal."
Chapter 33 - Slaying Targon
Targon roared and charged.
For some reason, I didn't need to think. It became instinct. I opened my hands, and fired two massive cyan repulser beams at the monster, causing a cyan shockwave at the point of contact, shaking the entire place. The beams were significantly upgraded, arcing with lightning. Targon was sent flying to the other side of the arena.
I activated my thrusters, and easily broke through the sound barrier. My hand elongated into a giant fist with its own thrusters, and I launched a devastating punch. The thrusters expanded, spinning and providing greater force, as my sledgehammer hand cracked Targon's hide, pushing him through the ground.
Targon roared, and emerged. But I anticipated it. I shot back with the same crazy speed from my upgraded thrusters, and transformed my right arm into a very compact version of my Armada cannon. I inspected the new design. It had the same design as the Achilles Formation. Black, with gold highlights, elegant, yet technologically advanced.
I aimed it at Targon.
"Juno, fire the Planet Buster Beam."
My cannon blasted the monster with a devastating cyan beam of light, creating a massive windstorm, which shook the whole station even more. I was surprised that a single Armada cannon could take the PBB without any recoil, much less an upgraded one. The fact that the station was able to withstand an upgraded PBB was a testament to its technological advancements.
I spoke too soon. Pieces of the Formation began to break apart despite my PBB being focused mainly on Targon. The beam dissipated, with Targon missing a huge chunk of its body. The monster growled, attempting to lunge at me, but I flew upwards, evading its strikes.
I fired several missiles at its end, the upgraded munitions causing even more devastating explosions than before, sending Targon flying. His hide was being damaged like crazy.
I flew past another strike and gained distance. My back compartments expanded into my upgraded reflector matrix, and I fired my upgraded hyper threaded incineration beam at Targon, incinerating and melting his hide.
The beam subsided, and Targon's exposed body lay on the ground. I landed before him, aiming my hand repulsers at the monster. It was over. Or so I thought. Targon suddenly got went upright.
"Caution, opponent's combat parameters have increased exponentially."
Great. So he was one of those monsters who got super strong when their hide was gone. Before I could react, Targon moved with devastating speed, and tore through my armour at my mid section. I felt my side becoming damp. He had penetrated my armour and gotten me!
I aimed my repulsers and fired, but Targon evaded them, and swiped at my mask, ripping it and exposing part of my face. Targon continued his assault, tearing away at pieces of my armour, exposing my human body. Well this didn't go so well. So much for Rev 6.
I commanded my armour to redistribute to my arm, transforming it into an upgraded mini gun array. I peppered Targon with hundreds of energy bullets, but Targon zipped to my side, to my blind spot, and smacked me in the chest, sending me flying.
I landed on the ground. It felt like I had been hit by a battering ram. My ribs were definitely broken, and I was struggling to breathe. Retching, gasping for air. I think he punctured a lung or something! I was in deep deep trouble.
Targon approached me. I couldn't end like this. Junon still needed my help! I needed to keep fighting!
"I'm not... done yet!" I yelled. I commanded my miniguns to transform into a arm-mounted incineration cannon array, and fired a cyan beam at Targon's direction, but Targon evaded, bringing down his finishing striking at my face. Well. I guess this is it.
Targon was squished by a cyan... truck? What? Suddenly, Targon was trapped in a vice. I looked up in confusion. This was, not me. It wasn't metal, it was cyan holograms. Hard light. I looked higher up, and saw a beautiful figure, glowing cyan, her eyes were like mine, but brighter. Junon!
She looked at me, freaking gorgeous face. Arced with cyan lines across her face like some kind of battle paint. She had Lazarus in a hard light hammock. I guess that was her power now. Junon looked at Targon, who was struggling to get out of the giant vice. "It's over, monster!" She created a huge hammer, which knocked the monster into the ground. The force of the hammer was so great that it sent Targon straight through the Formation, flying into space.
I realized I was still lying down like an idiot. My suit was torn and battered, exposing my body in like a hundred different places. Junon landed in front of me, her aura disappearing and the lines on her face now gone. I lay there on the ground, staring at the sky. No, not the sky. Space.
Her face popped in my view. "Morning sleepyhead. Now's not the time to sleep in." She smiled.
I took her hand and got to my feet. She looked me up and down. "So you're wearing it like a suit now? I thought you didn't like being called a Titanium Man ripoff."
I laughed. "Nope. But I think I like it this way." I looked at a scrap piece of metal from the ravaged arena, and saw our reflections. Junon and I both had the same cyan eyes, even when we weren't using our powers, though they weren't glowing.
"Power of the Achilles... you crazy guy." Lazarus grinned at me. "You managed to take some for yourself. I guess our mission was technically a success."
We walked back to the jet, with Caliburn waiting for us. "What the hell were you three punks up to? I thought the whole station was going to freaking explode!"
I watched as Junon and Lazarus got on the jet, while Lazarus and Caliburn continued their debates on rune magic as usual. I turned and saw the hag. I looked back at the squad and realized that they couldn't see what I was seeing.
The hag regarded me. "So you bent the rules, and took a portion of the Achilles Boost for yourself. I couldn't see how a mere human could stand a chance against a god. But seeing you battle the keeper of the Achilles, there may be hope for you after all. Cherish this new level of power. You must work with it, it may seem like a handicap... but that's how true warriors grow. Until your last stand against the Aspect of Sin."
I stared at her. "Wait what? Last stand? What are you talking about?"
She simply smiled. "You will understand, when the time comes. You may not be the hero of this story, but your role is still great. The role of sacrifice." The hag dissipated.
Chapter 34 - The Hardest Conversation Ever.
I told Junon and the others that I was going to head out of Corinth to the slums along with the evacuation group. Junon wanted to come with me, but I told her I needed to do this alone. She needed to help Jason and Amana plan anyway.
"Good luck, Mavus."
I nodded to my squad. I went up to my suit, which had gone through yet another revision. I tapped a module on my eyeglasses, causing the suit to disintegrate into the nanites Leo had given me, accumulating into the necklace.
I sat in the chariot as it took me to the outskirts. We passed by my old house. Looking back at my old house made it feel like I had been gone for centuries. I still remembered sitting in there, trying to catch up on school, bored out of my mind. I thought I was number one, no one stood against me. But at the same time, I had no reason to live, everything seemed boring and pointless when I was at the top of the world. I wasn't going to lie, I even looked forward to my meetings with Sharon.
"Well, this is it. Give me a call again once you need a ride back."
"Thanks man, I appreciate it."
I walked out of the border, and into the outside world. I had never been in the outside world for ages, ever since the suits had taken me away. I was in isolation in the same hut for almost seventeen years. The place looked like it was trying to improve, but the resources were just not enough. Ruins of a civilization as my shoes crunched on the ground.
My HUD lit up in my glasses as I located the church. A couple of people were staring at my outfit.
"Rich boy." One said.
"He must be a New Militia, run while you can."
I continued walking, ignoring them. Then I found it. A broken and charred cross, and a completely busted up building. Cement and rubble lined the walls. How people were able to live here was beyond me.
I walked in.
"Juno, scan for lifeforms."
"One lifeform found. Healing Metahuman, approximate ranking, Tier 9."
I approached the marker on my HUD and found a girl sewing, her back turned. She didn't notice that the person behind her wasn't the man she was looking for.
"Hey Aaron! Welcome back! Sorry, I'm a bit busy. I've been preparing these new clothes for you since you took off. I know it must have been hard for you, going on those missions all the time. So I made you these shirts! I know you prefer wearing that jacket of yours... but I know they'll look nice on you..."
She turned around and her smile melted. "Oh, can I help you?"
My heart sunk. I looked at the girl through my glasses. I tapped my vision module on the side of the glasses and my HUD turned off. Hannah. She had long flowing black hair that was braided down the side of her shoulder. She wore a grey dress, which was in tatters, probably from the poor living conditions, and on her wrists were weird arcane lines. Kind of looked like Amana's when she was in her scary celestial form. But these lines were pitch black, like tattoos. It looked completely out of place from her innocent appearance.
I didn't know what to say. I looked at the shirt in her hands, that she probably made for Aaron. She was a craftswoman, and the way she handled the materials showed proficiency and care. I could see why Aaron loved her. She provided him with emotional support, while he provided her with the protection of a Tier Zero meta. A ship that had set sail... only to be sunk.
"Where is Aaron?" She asked. Her head tilted to one side.
I looked down, and pulled out his glove with her name on it, and put it on the table. I couldn't meet her in the eyes. I heard Hannah gasp.
"Aaron is alive." I said quickly. "He's just... in trouble. I promise I'll get him out. He... he's alive. He's definitely..."
Hannah took the glove, and hugged it. "It's okay. You don't have to tell me these things to make me feel better." She was definitely holding back tears. Who wouldn't. I knew this when I chose to find her. But I chose to take this responsibility on myself. Just as Aaron had taken the responsibility of throwing away his humanity.
"Aaron saved us because he needed to fight a really bad enemy. He allowed us to escape while he fought this bad guy alone. I owe him my life."
Hannah looked at me, her eyes red. "That's what Aaron used to always say. My life doesn't matter. I owe these people my life, my humanity. Everybody has value. When somebody dies, they are still remembered and honoured by their loved ones. Why can't people who have life have the same?"
I was at a loss for words. "I um... Look, I need to take you guys somewhere safe. Out there is a place called Corinth, it'll serve as a place of refuge. I got a bunch of guys with me who are helping with evacuation."
Hannah put the glove in a basket. "I want to take these clothes with me." She pointed at a bunch of baskets. Great.
"I uh, I think we should worry about getting you out of here firs-"
"The clothes come with us."
Hannah's face looked determined. I guess the clothes were coming too.
"Oh my god fine. Stand back."
I tapped my vision module, and the nanites in my necklace emerged, spreading across my body, taking shape into plating as my body was cladded with Rev 7's armour. Revision 7 was an extension of Revision 6, with stronger and more durable plating which was optimized for speed and the new alien material. As a result, Revision 7 was slightly more compact than R6, though the armouring was still pretty obvious. I also kept the cool alien lines in there just for the laughs. Shoot me.
"Wow... that's cool!" Hannah's face lit up. I smiled.
"Yeah. I know I am. Now let's get going." I lifted my hand, and my forearm compartments expanded, releasing several mini drones which latched onto the baskets with cyan tractor beams.
"The evacuation unit is that way! Let's go!" I led Hannah to the squad when suddenly, something caught my eye. A woman, with angel wings, her radiance paralyzing everybody, in the opposite direction. Calliope freaking Ariandal. You've got to be kidding me.
"Bruh..." I muttered. I looked at the evacuation squad who was leading everybody to the evacuation chariots. "Come on guys, keep moving!" But everybody was freaking frozen. I turned to Hannah. "Okay miss. I'm going to need you to get on that evacuation unit and listen to everything those guys tell you. I'm gonna go beat up that crazy old lady who's trying to kill everybody here, Gucci?"
Hannah stared at me. "I can't just leave you here-"
I cut her off. "Lady, do you want Aaron to know the love of his life became a Corruption puppet to that white haired freak? Hurry up and get on!" I turned around and flew to Calliope's location, facing her.
Ariandal smiled. "Mavus... you had so much potential. It's a shame to see you have degraded this much."
My helmet assembled, cladding my face. "Yeah, okay there you crazy old bat. At least I wasn't called an idiot by my boss!"
Ariandal's face turned stern. "Do not call Lord Mogul such things. You don't know what he has done for us. The Corruption, New Croft. It will give everybody a new home, it will give everybody a new age-"
"Blah blah blah, screw this, let's fight." I aimed my hand repulsers at Calliope, my back compartments expanded into their reflectors, as I fired my Rev 7 Hyperthreaded Repulser blast at the mage. Two bright beams of cyan light sent Calliope hurtling into the air, the shockwave from the impact levelling several unoccupied buildings.
Calliope flew into the air, her creepy angel wings becoming bigger. "You have some nerve, meta human."
"Juno, Achilles Acceleration Mode"
My shoulders, legs, and forearms expanded and transformed into their respective thrusters, whirling and spinning with cyan light, sparking with electricity, as I shot forward, leaving behind a cyan shockwave.
I appeared next to Calliope, clasping my hands together, the sounds of weapons powering up, the cyan glow around my repulsers getting brighter. I merged my hyper threaded repulsers together with my chest laser, and fired a massive super threaded repulser beam at Calliope, sending her through dozens of buildings.
The smoke cleared, and I realized that Calliope had shielded the blast with her wings. The look on her face was downright murderous. "You fool... you asked for it."
Yeah nope. I repositioned myself, my reflector modules repurposing and transforming into a missile launcher array. I bombarded the old bat with dozens of missiles. Calliope was engulfed in explosions, shaking the entire place. The shock had caused the evacuation team to wake up, and they began to evacuate everybody.
Cool. Suddenly, Calliope emerged from the smoke with immense speed. I turned around and realized she had closed in instantly. Calliope swiped at me, sending me flying into several buildings, leaving behind a trail of very expensive property damage.
I got up to my feet. My armour was scratched, but I was otherwise okay. Not bad alien tech. Not bad at all.
"You have some impressive durability. But I wonder how long that armour will hold up." Calliope powered up, and a huge angel construct with crazy battle armour materialized. The angel swung its fist at me. There was no time to react. I grabbed the fist with both hands, and tried to keep it from squishing me like a bug.
"Operator, the armour cannot withstand this force for much longer."
"Activate propulsor matrix."
My forearm propulsors emerged, and boosted my strength. Despite this, I could feel my armour giving way. My HUD was showing a rapidly decreasing safety factor.
"Juno, activate taser."
Several prongs at my palms ejected, clamping onto the angel's fist, shocking Calliope.
The angel released his fist of doom as I flew upwards, bombarding the construct with another missile barrage, knocking it down. Calliope flapped her wings, sending a ton of demons my way. I activated my hyper threaded incineration cannons, and fired beams from my hands, shoulders, and back reflectors, which converged into one massive beam, disintegrating the demon barrage.
My thrusters increased in intensity, and I shot forward, with my improved sledgehammer fists, complete with Achilles Energy knuckles. Calliope met my strike with her angel wing, leading to a huge clash of cyan and gold sparks.
We continued exchanging blows. Calliope attacking me with those stupid angel feathers, while I retaliated with my chain gun bullets. Whenever Calliope launched a swipe projectile of gold magic at me, I would retaliate with a repulser beam. Whenever Calliope summoned a barrage, I would incinerate them. We were pretty much evenly matched. I had heard that Calliope was capable of multiplying her own strength, but it looked like she was going at pretty much her max without destroying her potential Corruption slaves. I was too.
This continued for a few minutes until Juno's voice lit up in my coms again.
"Evacuation complete. Suggest escape."
Calliope launched me through several buildings. She landed on the ground, and blocked my hyper threaded incineration beam with her wings. Damn, she was strong. I could see why Lupine and Blackflame had so much trouble with her.
I needed to escape. As we were right now, it was a stalemate. In fact, I had heard that Calliope was capable of recovery magic as well. Fan freaking tastic. So even if we were stalemated, she could just keep healing herself while my armour would keep getting more and more damaged. This was not good. Not good at all. Suddenly, a dark presence enveloped the two of us.
DISAPPOINTING. Mogul. Of course.
Mogul appeared through a portal, landing on the ground. He regarded me, then at Calliope. "You decided to take these people yourself? Without my knowledge?"
Calliope stared at Mogul. "My lord... it's not like that. I- These people deserve a new life. The Corruption, it yearns for them."
Mogul glared at his subordinate. In a swift motion, he backhanded her through several buildings. Mogul materialized, and smacked her back to her original spot. This all happened in the span of two seconds. I wasn't even able to react to his speed. Calliope was seriously injured.
"Do not talk to me in that manner, puny mage. Perhaps I have been gone for far too long." He grabbed Calliope's head, which was bleeding severely. Her eyes momentarily dimmed. Her glowing silver irises becoming less bright. For once, she looked genuinely concerned, as if she had momentarily regained her humanity.
"Lawrence..." She muttered, looking at me. "Protect Lawr-" Mogul squeezed her skull, causing Calliope to scream in agony, engulfed with Corruption lightning. Oh god. I was definitely tripping out. Suddenly, Calliope's expression became devoid once more, her silver irises glowing back to their usual intensity.
Mogul stood up, holding Calliope by the head. He looked me dead in the eye. "Interesting. You evolved your armour. But at your current state, you will never meet your promise. It is not time yet... for you all to perish. Consider this an example, Mavus. Of what happens when you defy an Aspect."
Mogul squeezed Calliope's skull again, causing her to yell in agony. "Master... forgive me. I know my place..."
Mogul smiled. "Good." Freaking jerk. Mogul disappeared, along with Calliope through a dark portal. I turned around, and realized that the chariots were already gone, headed for Corinth. I activated my thrusters and flew off to meet them.