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Unknown Dusk Moon
“We must return to the Ferrum and explain to Shindow.” Steak announced after hearing the story.
“We should leave at once.” Pat agreed.
“She’ll probably make the most sense of this,” Gideon stated in a daze.
The news still shocked him. He couldn’t mentally process what he was hearing and seeing
His Gnats were storing all of the gear they deployed, getting prepared to leave. He left behind the refuse; no one would care either way.
Gideon equipped his riot power armor using Abigail’s module application. He was forever thankful to her for giving it to him. It was a testament to her programming abilities he had zero accidents with it. Equip times became seconds as opposed to minutes. Baxter was awake and staring at Deborah, ears perked and his head cocking left and right.
“Who are you, nice lady?” Baxter asked with a half bark.
Deborah bent down but Baxter scurried out of arms reach and sat. Giving out a subdued bark with his ears back.
“My name is Deborah, the Lesser Angel of Multitudes,” Deborah introduced herself.
“That is too long, I will call you Deb,” Baxter said with a sneeze.
Deborah let out a platinum-bell laugh at that.
“Very well, Baxter. You may call me Deb,” Deborah said, she gestured with her good hand and Baxter trotted up to her and sniffed.
“You smell like stone and lavender,” Baxter chuffed.
Deborah smiled as she scratched at his jowls. Baxter began tapping on the stone floor in response.
“Now if you’re two done playing speed dating, we need to go,” Gideon said in sarcasm.
Baxter shrugged and walked to his Hind, stepping into the suit as it powered up. He tested the suit by shaking and stretching to sync it fully with his stubby body.
Deborah stood to her feet, towering above the group.
Gideon’s armored hand glowed with orange pixelated light, materializing a pulse rifle. He handed it to Deborah.
“Oh, for me? Is it a wedding gift?” She said snidely, her platinum-bell laugh echoing off the walls.
“Do you know how to use it?” Gideon asked.
He saw her quickly check ammo, check the Tachodine nacelle powering it, checked sites, adjusted sites, then re-aim down the sites. The pulse rifle looked tiny in her long limbs.
“Oh, this is like how I dreamed it would feel,” She stated with a soft grin.
“Wait, you never used it before?” Gideon asked dumbfounded.
She was a natural operator.
“It is a simple tool. Now if I only had my Throne…” Deborah responded, trailing off again.
“A throne, why would you need a chair? We’re moving,” Gideon said snidely, half jabbing.
“Ah, not a throne, but a Throne. A Throne is an artifact, a type of angelic spirit. These artifacts are a power unto themselves and your Seal allows for you to use them,” Deborah began explaining, brushing at her stone alabaster hair.
“In my case, it was a spear and lantern of great value. I fought a demon here and he landed a lucky blow, hence my arm. Usually, I could call to it, but this much demon ash interferes with the summoning.” Deborah further explained raising her bad arm to show it.
“Wait. Demon ash. Like the grey ash-dust of this planet?” Gideon asked.
“The very same. When a demon is defeated, they leave behind the wretched stuff. I don’t like demon ash, It gets everywhere,” Deborah stated with a huff, brushing at the bottom of her robes that were stained grey.
“So we’re standing on the bodies of millions- billions of demon corpses?” Gideon shuddered, wide-eyed at the thought.
He tried tasting it, too…
“Actually, one,” Deborah corrected.
“Technically many, but it was all from one being,” Deborah further explained.
“And I’ll have to fight these things? What happened to judgment day? Why are they running around?” Gideon asks with obvious frustration.
“Oh they were sealed, but many were destroyed, their essence scattered to the infinite corners of the universe. My theory is enough coalesced to form a sort of nest, spawning new demons, gods or deities.” Deborah theorized, palming her chin on her thumb.
“OK, not just demons, but other beings.” Gideon murmured.
“Remember the gods of old? They weren’t exactly demons, but they were powerful enough to affect mankind. Many submitted after Megiddo. Many did not and ceased,” Deborah added.
They began to march out, Steak and Pat running front, Gideon middle, Deborah and Baxter rear.
Deborah hissed, sounding suddenly cross.
“Demon,“ She began grimly, “That very same savage beast that nearly cracked this planet in half. The demon whose corpses we tread upon,” She explained quickly.
She raised her rifle, aiming towards the entrance.
“Angelic Aura,” She commanded.
Her rifle and the weapons of the team glowed softly with sparklingly gold.
“You can now harm demons more efficiently. These weapons would normally be ineffective,” Deborah stated.
“Demon? Wait- That wasn’t you fighting the Rumbler?” Gideon asked.
“Oh, you’re calling the XZ-99 Planet Defenders Rumblers… Good name.” Deborah complimented.
“It was my fault!” Baxter barked into the comms.
“The good kind!” He added.
“Captain Gideon, agent spotted ahead. It appears as a blackened skeleton.” Steak announced, describing the horror that casually walked to them. A skeletal demon trotted down the stairs, gazing at the group with disquieting glowing golden eyes.
“Do not hesitate. Do not think of taking any alive. These are an extension of the larger demon. It hopes to drown us out of this Shrine.” Deborah stated.
Steak spun the twin tempest cannons and released a quick burst of fire, the brrrt of the tempest cannon roared through the shrine. The skeletal demon’s upper torso disappeared in black blood and viscera. The lower torso dropped like rags and began to calcify into a grey ash statue.
“By the way, do any of you know the back way out?” Deborah asked, with an insincere grin on her face.
“You have to be shitting me!” Gideon shouted over comms as another quick brrrt of fire drowned out the noise.
“Multiple agents detected, Gideon, swapping to explosives would be effective.” Steak advised as three more demonkin were ripped to gibblets under the casual fire. Pat had not acted yet and was still standing next to Steak, awaiting to defend against return fire.
Gideon swapped weapons in orange light, wielding a four-barrelled missile pod and two single-pods on his shoulder mounts. Gideon fired a missile using the ‘lob’ setting, making them glorified grenade launchers. It felt just like the training modules back on Karmmrak.
The hallway was getting packed with more demonkin, they stumbled and tripped over the corpses. They appeared to be stupid, running at the group without any sort of tactic. The first cluster set missile detonated, sending many of them flying to pieces. The missile detonated again into smaller bomblets, further devastating the group. The pressure of the blast popped his ears, but the armor held. Gideon was getting a readout feedback from Steak and Pat who tagged the targets. He did like the fact the readout updated to his idea of the enemy.
1 Demon kill 1 Demon kill 1 Demon kill 1 Demon kill 28 Demon kill 58 Demon kill
Yet even with the numbers of the front demonkin devastated, more of them silently ran at the group, immune to the shock of seeing downed comrades or being blasted to atoms by powerful weaponry.
Pat began unleashing a roaring torrent of automatic scattergun fire from it’s shoulder mounts, each round containing thirty, three-millimeter steel spheres traveling at the hypersonic speeds of a railgun. The hallway was painted with black blood, ash, and debris.
Deborah began firing in short bursts above the group, the screech crack of her rifle adding to the orchestra of death.
Baxter was wagging his tail aggressively, waiting for the chance to fire. Deborah noticed this and acted.
“Baxter, fire into this portal,” Deborah ordered.
She first pointed at a wall nearby and then to a wall in the hallway. A portal opened up, showing demonkin passing by. It looked like a shimmering video. Baxter barked with fury, as much fury as corgi could muster, as he fired his full fusillade into the portal, becoming a steel shredding wall. The demonkin showed the tactics of an ant, charging right into the steel wall, many of them being torn to shreds. Those that made it through were then torn up by Pat or Steak.
“Shindow, come in!’ Gideon called on comms. He got silence.
“Shindow!” Gideon shouted.
12 Demon kill
Comms showed as dead.
“The demon’s miasma can affect communications,” Deborah shouted over her own burst fire she added to the portal.
“Gideon, ammo!” Deborah shouted. Gideon summoned a Gnat to reload her, materializing the round straight to the rifle.
They then noticed something. The more they killed, the more they splattered black blood along the walls, ceiling, and floor. The black blood began to fog and travel down the stairs. More demonkin were spawning from it. They came from the floor, walls, and ceiling. Hundreds of them.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Gideon swore as he kept lobbing missiles into the demons. He was trying to stop a flood with a bucket.
68 Demon kill
Deborah casually walked up to the hallway, angled to prevent friendly fire. She gestured with her hand, and drew a portal around the hallway, creating a square wall like an enormous viewport. The group ceased fire as the demonkin simply disappeared into the portal.
“Well, that was fun. Let’s get out of here.” Deborah advised with a smile.
“Where does that portal go?” Gideon asked as he stored the missile pods into his QSD, orange light emanating from him. He swapped it for a riot shield and pulse compact with a single shoulder mounted pulse compact; he left one missile pod shoulder mount as an emergency FU button.
“Into space,” Deborah responded plainly.
“Tough break…” Gideon murmured.
“Better than in here. They keep reproducing from the blood they leave behind. One of this demonkin could produce one thousand more. And that miasma can sap your strength, so don’t breathe it in. More blood means there is more demonkin which means there is more miasma.” Deborah said tersely.
“What the hell kind of demon are we fighting?” Gideon asked.
“Oh, an Elder Demon.”
“Pretend I don’t know what that is. Because- well I don’t.” Gideon shot back.
He glanced at the mad rush of demonkin into the portal. They would have been overwhelmed by now.
“A demon of immeasurable power, they are just beneath the demonic royalties. These demonic royalties are beneath gods. We’ll talk later on the principalities; there is an exit we need to find. We are blessed it has no name.” Deborah answered.
“I shall name it-” Baxter attempted to speak, but faster than light, Deborah was standing above Baxter shouting.
Deborah shouted. Baxter shrank back with a whine, which looked silly in his Hind.
“Do not name it. You will doom us all if you do.” Deborah ordered with a quiet finality.
“Targets not abating.” Steak announced. The demonkin kept up the mad runner’s pace to their doom.
“Captain Gideon, we follow your lead,” Pat added.
“Hurry, there must be a backroom, somewhere, anywhere!” Gideon shouted as he ran, which was more like a jogging trundle in his power armor.
“How long will the portal last?” Gideon asked.
“An eternity. Or if I am defeated.” Deborah answered.
“Gideon, there appears to be no alternative way out, initial scans suggest.” Pat updated.
“That’s unfortunate. I was getting to like you all. Including you, Baxter.” Deborah stated with a sigh.
“You said the blood creates more of them. What if we prevent blood flow. What if we could cauterize them?” Gideon asked.
“Fire would work,” Deborah replied with a growing smile.
“Lasers.” Steak interjected.
“Lasers… That would be as good.” Deborah pondered.
“Switch to any type of energy weapon you can. We need to break out and run for the Ferrum.” Gideon ordered.
“That does us no good. It can smell you. From across the system.” Deborah stated with pursed lips.
“Great, I have an intergalactic stalker and an angel wife apparently,” Gideon said jabbing at Pat.
“I was correct, then? When is the ceremony?” Pat added.
“No!” Gideon yelled, flailing his hands at Pat in frustration.
There was a stuttering rumble in response to that from Pat. A laugh? Gideon was decided, he would look at Pat when the returned.
If they returned.
Another idea occurred to him.
“Deborah, can you move that portal forward while we moved, like-”
“A giant pusher!” Deborah finished with a smile.
“Like a bulldozer…” Gideon finished idly scratching at his temple at her strange response.
“Easily, it will even clear out the blood and miasma. But once we leave the corridor, I’ll need to drop it.” Deborah states.
“Alright, everyone swap to laser, energy, or fire weaponry,” Gideon ordered.
Baxter re-equipped with quad laser culverins, two built into the shoulders and a twin back mount. The barrels peeked out from his shoulders, looking like lances. Gideon did the same, trading his shoulder mounts, mounting twin mars energy rifles and using a sole laser culverin, two-handed.
Steak re-equipped with twin Plasma Blazers. It could torrent a massive amount of plasma fire, crisping anything in a wide arc. The green fire could reach out to fifty feet. It’s shoulder cannons changed to Mars energy rifles. Steak kept the energy shields.
Pat kept the shields and canes but replaced it’s pulse shoulder mounts for mars energy rifle shoulder mounts.
The new weapons glinted with a soft golden light, Deborah’s Angelic Aura still active. Gideon felt like he was more in entertainment than in real life. Gideon handed Deborah a laser culverin and dematerialized her pulse rifle in orange pixelated light.
“Did she cast a spell? Like magic? Like the magic of the Empire of Dusk?” Gideon pondered.
They walked forward with the same formation except Deborah was up front with a laser culverin of her own. They could see the demonkin silently fall into the portal. Deborah began to concentrate and push on the portal, moving it forward. Deborah kept the portal flush, it was just hugging the floor, walls, and ceiling to clean up the destruction. Gideon also noticed the stone was unharmed. They began their slow procession of sweeping away the demonic corruption. The demonkin refuse to give up, chasing at them with a single-mindedness more akin to a force than intelligence.
“These types of demonkin are not smart, but they are many,” Deborah explained as more fell into her portal.
Their march took them up to the point where the corridor widened. They stopped to survey the room. They see the only the light from the shrine entrance, which was blocked by a winged being. Its throat was inflated as it was constantly spewing the miasma. Every inch of the shrine was black. Demonkin continued their failing charge at the group. Demonkin appeared from the floor, walls, and even fell from the ceiling. Suddenly the demonkin stopped and pulled back to the entrance, the room began to fill with bodies of demonkin, ready to attack. The demon noticed their tactic and changed his in response. It said nothing as eyed the group with beady blue glowing eyes. Gideon felt revulsion at seeing the sad gargoyle face, bloated throat, its long body, and feeling the inhuman aura.
Shit, that’s it… How the hell did this thing fight a Rumbler…
“Can you drop it into a portal?”
“No, it has protection from such dimensional abilities, including time. I’m more of an attacker, while this one is more of an adamantite wall. All Elder demons have immunity to many different statuses or control abilities.” Deborah explained quickly.
“He might still be affected by gravity magic, though…” Deborah mused.
The demon ceased it’s miasma retching and strode towards the group, the demonkin parted like water around it. It had the aura of royalty about it. It gazed at them smugly as its tiny blue pits flickered. It stood and waited.
“And here is the battle. I will fight off the demon, you cleanse the area. Once the demonkin are gone, we all focus the Elder down.” Deborah stated the plan quickly.
The demon snorted out air in sneering derision, giving Gideon the idea that it understood them.
The idea that it didn’t matter what was planned.
The idea that they were trapped.
That they were going to die.