As soon as she hit the solid rock, she knew she was damaged. She had briefly awoken to see Ruth in her strange white chitinous form destroying the Daer-seehn handily. Her power was awesome and terrifying. Basil made no exaggeration of her danger. If Soltana and L’yophin confronted her, the possibility of being destroyed to cover up her shapeshifting was not remote.
And yet, once Ruth rescued them did Soltana confronted her on her identity. Possibly on her funeral bed. Her body felt numb and disconnected from her head. She knew in no small terms her chassis was ruined.
And possibly her new memories. But her dreamed started, pulling her away from her own concerns.
Soltana stood atop a massive spire, peering down at the world beneath. She could make out brief flashes of sunlight intensity, followed by delayed thunders of fire. The smoke filled the air, her vision was impeded. A massive beam of red light cut through the horizon, detonating something in the distance to a supernova blast. The blinding smoke blew away in a torrent, revealing the battlefield. She could see on the horizon a massive golden vessel. It was a winged ship that resembled a massive bird of prey, a golden organ instrument, and a dreadnought. The hull was gridded and layered with lines and carvings, the front vaguely resembled a monster of deep nightmare. Atop the vessel sat a massive being on a throne that held a claymore in one hand, resting idly as the ship’s wrath immolated the planet. Soltana guessed the being was well over one hundred feet in height, yet was still dwarfed by the vessel. Soltana could see return fire from the surface, multitudes of rounds headed towards the ship.
The being of adamantite simply gestured with a closed fist, the return fire splayed across a blue energy shield, creating a dazzling of blue and kaleidoscopic edges. Cannons all across the bow, port, and starboard of the ship gave a rebuttal, firing hundreds of thousands of blue energy rounds into the surface, silencing dissent with terrifying accuracy. Nothing gave a response to that final counter-argument. Soltana saw the helmed being slowly turned her countenance towards her.
It was staring right at her.
The being ponderously rose from its throne to stand atop the vessel’s deck. It walked to the bow of the ship, balance a non-issue. Soltana saw it was wearing phthalo green adamantite armor with platinum trim all over; a strange oddity. To dye an armor such as that would take immense experience. It had a thinner build, despite the full plate armor. The being’s golden cape dragged behind itself. The being stretched out its shoulders, and four wings of sharded adamantite sprouted from its back. They floated in place, but Soltana knew what the wings meant.
This was an Angel.
The Angel broke the stare with Soltana not for a second as it lept off the bow, floating gracefully towards the massive spire. It displayed itself in its full glory, blinding the sky with sunlight intensity. Soltana only now noticed others on the spire with her. Many of the humans fell over in terror. Soltana felt a terror in her very core. A terror which she simply stored away in her memory module dubbed Soltana’s Contentions.
Many were defeated in spirit at that moment.
Soltana saw it was getting closer, but it looked like it got no larger. It showed no fear of Soltana, only a slight tilt of its head in curiosity as it landed next to her, reaching a height of nine feet, beneath Soltana’s hips. The claymore no longer fit the description. It was a massive twelve-foot blade made of a strange red brass metal; a grandsword. The blade itself was two double-edged sword blades, appearing as a forked blade with a hollow center. The guard was two large red brass metal bladed razor eagle claws. The sword blade itself looked as if it could guide a blow into the wicked curves. Soltana saw a tiny knife at the being’s belt, made of the same red brass metal. It had planted the massive blade down into the spire, cracking the stone. It still had not broken the stare with Soltana.
Upon closer inspection, the armor, weapons; all of it, was of awe-inspiring quality. Only a being of heaven could have made such an artistic masterpiece. The helmet was that of a massive lion’s head with a wide open roaring mouth, wrapping around to the back of wearer’s head. Inside the mouth was another matching roaring lion’s face, four faces into total giving it a nesting doll of roaring lion faces. Out of the back of the helmet, the massive golden mane spilled to the floor. It was the being’s hair.
It peered up at Soltana with curiosity. And a pressure that threatened to engulf her.
“You are not an enemy. On top of that, you hold the Seal.”
She spoke with a gentle voice, yet edged with coldness.
The being gestured to Soltana’s head. Soltana absently felt at it.
The massive dreadnought floated above the tower, like a colliding star posing as a serene cloud.
There it drifted down, changing shapes and shrinking in size. The being raised a palm, collecting the micro tiny artifact.
The ship vanished in golden light.
“Please rest for the moment, Falling Star.”
Soltana could only wonder in awe at the power of such a vessel.
The Angel turned back, addressing Soltana.
“My mission here is to rescue a Seal holder, imprisoned against her will. Those that keep her are attempting to use her power for their own selfish gain.”
“The power of Adonai belongs to only one!”
“Now assist me, Holder of the Seal of the Tetragrammaton.”
The Angel appeared sincere in her conviction. Soltana nodded, accepting her charge.
“Very well, I thank you for your assistance,” The Angel began, her voice beginning to warm.
“I have not seen a Seal holder, much less one in the morpheus state. My apologies for my harshness.”
“You say she was captured? Who did this?”
“There are many factions; not to mention the splintered factions of humanity. Only some have heard of the Seal holders. Many wish to use them and exploit their power. Others wish to assist them in their calling.”
The Angel lowered her lion helmed head.
“And others wish to destroy them.”
“And what is your intent?” Soltana probed bravely.
The Angel emitted a laugh, the sound of a golden heavenly bell.
“Even in the presence of an Angel your bravery and obstinance do not waver. We shall make good allies.”
“But to answer your immediate question.”
“I wish from the very fiber of my being to assist the Seal holders in their mission.”
“And what is your name?” Soltana asked.
The Angel strode past her, grabbing the grandsword from its rocky sheathe, leaving a plume of dust.
“We shall speak on that matter later. Others are listening. You are dreaming of me; who is to say others with wicked intent are not?”
She stopped to the first human, broken by her presence.
She knelt down. The man was paralyzed with fear.
“I am sorry. Once on the warpath, we cannot stop. Cannot cease. And cannot show mercy.”
“Cede to Ash.”
The man and the hundreds of other humans that had been defeated in spirit simply broke down into ash. Their golden soul motes gently floated to the ground.
Soltana’s core skipped a process at seeing the terrifying power.
“But they had no fight left in them!”
“Yes. However, there is one thing you do not know of me.”
“I am not an Angel.”
Another pair of adamantite shards sprouted from her back, giving her a splay of six floating wings.
“I am Seraphim.”
Soltana felt a pressure against her, putting her to her knees. She was now eye level with the Seraphim.
“As a Seraphim, once I am on the warpath. I cannot show mercy. I cannot show restraint. All the enemies I face will be destroyed. Combatant. Noncombatant. So as Adonai created me.”
Soltana felt a tremble in her being.
“I’m sorry, Soltana. I am a weapon of annihilation. When I am ordered, it is under the idea the order came with shaky heart and trembling lips. That there was no alternative. And most of all, that they understand no surviving enemies will be present.”
The Seraphim raised her hand, gathering the golden motes of soul to her, storing them in golden light.
“The greatest mercy I can now give is a quick release.”
The voice that spoke was of pain, was of a being that did not want this path, but could not defer.
She was used because the one who ordered her felt no alternative path existed apart from complete annihilation of their enemies. And the rescuing of the Seal holder.
Soltana nodded, not completely understanding.
“You are a gorgeous creation, Soltana. Do you know that? I can see you are somehow incomplete, the rest of your body a pale shadow.”
“I only wish I could meet you under better circumstances.”
“As would I,” Soltana agreed.
“I need to know how you were created. I can sense Angel, Anform, and Human inside of you. You are a triplicate hybrid.”
“Yes, I discovered that when I was repaired.”
“Who made you?” The Seraphim asked.
She began to walk to the entrance to the internal tower. Soltana felt the pressure leave her and she rose to her feet, free of the asteroid-sized burden.
“I was made by Barman, Angel of Knowledge. Mikial McDonough of Primetech. And a third unknown creator.”
“Barman!” The Seraphim murmured.
“You know of him?”
“I know of all Angels.”
“Good! Where is he? I need to meet him!” Soltana began, excitement building in her voice.
The Seraphim paused, looking down, her posture was of grief.
“I’m sorry, Soltana.”
Soltana was silent with understanding.
“He was destroyed near the beginning of the first century of the known galactic date.”
Soltana’s core was crushed to atoms at the news. One of her creators was gone.
“This is why I act. The Kingdom of Heaven must stand. The perpetrators were a massive conspiracy. They eliminated many of the holy beings.”
She hefted the grandsword across her shoulder and marched to the door with Soltana in tow.
“Eliminated? Where is Adonai?” Soltana demanded.
The Seraphim now sounded choked with tears. Soltana felt decompressed into space at the news.
“What do you mean gone? I dreamed of him recently?”
“And yet you only see Him in a dream. He is gone. Left.”
“Left on His grand crusade.”
“Where he went and why his presence is near absent, I cannot say. All I do know is my immediate calling. Rescue the Seal holder, destroy any enemy I see.”
The Seraphim stated with finality as she stood in front of the stone doors sealed shut in front of her.
The Seraphim expertly slashed her grandsword, cutting a massive X into the stone from corner to corner. She kicked the door inward, and the stones tumbled down the flight of stairs into the waiting guards.
Soltana heard the bellowing of cries and shrieks of those who stood guard behind as they were crushed under twelve inch stone slabs tumbling down the stairs.
“Cede to Ash.”
The Seraphim chanted again, giving the defeated and suffering men quick and painless destruction.
She flew down the stairs, as a graceful blade.
Those that survived attempted to resist, their pulse rifles screech cracking with fire. The hypersonic sabots plinked off her armor, stopping dead. She shot her wings forward, impaling the dozens of survivors in a wind of adamantite shards.
Ever few hundred feet down the flight of stairs, the Seraphim brutalized the enemies and cast Cede to Ash, collecting the soul motes of the defeated.
Stopping a comet with brute force would have had greater luck.
Soltana surveyed that Cede to Ash must have instantly destroyed any enemy that was defeated bodily or in spirit; any foe that submitted was destroyed by it.
“How can you face such a thing?” Soltana asked.
“I was created by Adonai to destroy His enemies. Never in my existence did I want to be used on humanity. Yet the order was so.”
“The question you ask is how can you face me? The answer is you do not.”
The Seraphim had not used her grandsword or dagger yet, keeping it hefted and sheathed respectively.
There they reached the top floor, another door barred their way. Another two slashes and a kick sent the stone slabs flying into an enemy that expected it and prepared accordingly.
Pulse cannons let out their infamous roar crack as they fired, thousands of hypersonic rounds were sent into the Angel and stairwell. Those that struck Soltana passed through harmlessly.
The massive long stairway exploded and crumbled to rubble, but the Seraphim stood standing, her body shook and trembled from each blow, but no damage was received.
It broke Soltana’s processes trying to figure out how that was so. Armor plating was good, but the absorption underneath was as important. The blunt force trauma the Seraphim was feeling should have reduced her to a liquid. Yet it did little more than tremble her. The golden mane of hair she had was gone, shredded to blackened short edges behind her helm.
The Seraphim slowly strode into the room, blade positioned as a shield. The fire was continuous, the soldiers inside firing in trained sequence.
Soltana stepped into the room, seeing the massive bunkered down room. Columns of ramped pillboxes were nestled on the sides of the stairway that led to the lead bunker at the top.
Off to the side were stairs that descended lower.
The fire ceased with the Seraphim on display.
Another divine being strode down the stairs, armored in glory. Soltana was instantly drawn to its head. The top and bottom of its head were floating and hollow, with a silver sphere in the center. The knitted halo behind was twine of gold. The wings were of gold, covered in staring eyes. It was clad in golden armor plate, wielding a longsword made of pure glowing teal energy. The shield the Angel wielded was a wall of glowing teal energy.
“Who dares attack this planet? Who dares to strike down my charges?”
The Angel demanded with a booming voice that shook the room just as the pulse cannons did.
“I am under orders to rescue the Seal holder from your clutches. To set her free.”
“Free her? Who told you such lies? Who corrupted your being? The Seal holder can leave of her own free will and has agreed to our protection. Why do the angels of heaven pointlessly fight one another?”
“I will not be lied to. Release the Seal holder into my care, then the calling will be complete; leaving you all intact.”
“Who ordered you, Seraphim?
“Enoch the Immortal.”
“Impossible, he agreed for us to hold her until his arrival! Tell the truth-”
“I tell no lie.”
The Seraphim boomed back with finality.
“Verywell. We have reached an impasse,” the Angel began.
“Only combat will prove who is righteous. My charges, leave us.”
The soldiers began to leave quickly, only the Seraphim had an issue with that.
“Cede to Ash.”
The soldiers dropped to ash, leaving their armor behind.
“I gave them no permission to leave. Or survive. You had your chance.”
Soltana could hear the Angel grip his weapon, sounding of the straining of rope. The righteous anger blossomed in the angel.
The Angel rushed, quick as lightning. The Seraphim was prepared, her wings and sword acting as a wall. The Angel slash with both shield and sword, the energy travel from shard to shard, grounding into the Seraphim who grunted in pain.
“Even your armor agrees with my cause!” The Angel rebuked.
The Seraphim swung back with wide strikes, the sword thundering with each blow, pushing the angel back. The Angel showed restraint, ignoring the bait that the Seraphim left open, several of her wings were waiting to strike.
They stared down each other, waiting for the first strike.
The Seraphim struck first, raising her hand.
Claws of lightning struck out, lashing at the Angel.
The Angel chanted, a stone sanctuary sprouted from the ground, catching the blow and grounding the lightning.
The Angel countered with another spell, a blast of hypersonic micro asteroids shot to the Seraphim who was no longer there. The thunder-crack of the wind caught up boomed through the room as the Seraphim appeared to his side, striking an overhead blow with her grandsword with a strained shriek. The Angel blocked, and was knocked back, the earthen temple of marble sheared in two.
The Seraphim changed stances, twirling her blade like a dancer. The blade should have weighed a ton but it was swung it without effort.
The Angel grunted as he was pressed back. The shield’s energy was lashing out with each strike, grounding into the Seraphim’s body. She bellowed in pain with each blow, but never gave up the attack. The Angel saw the opening and thrust his sword arm in between the forked blade of the grandsword, striking near the Seraphim’s head. The Seraphim went to her knees, wailing in agony at the blow, the energy from the sword grounded into her helm, and into her face. The Angel deactivated his shield, gripping the Seraphim’s sword arm with the grip of God. She couldn’t break free from the lancing energy being directed to the inside of her helm. It was a peculiar pose, seeing the angel thrusting his arm through the grandsword forked blades.
“The righteous are victorious, my claim is just. I hold no ill will against you. Please seek peace and solace in your rest.”
The Angel’s wings flexed wide, with the eyes glowing with energy.
The Seraphim was going to be destroyed inside her armor.
“Please understand you were a good warrior. But you lack guile.” The Seraphim said with a strained cough.
The Angel cocked his head, not understanding.
The grandsword’s forked blade clapped shut like a vice, severing his hand just above the elbow.
The Angel stumbled back with a grunt of shock at the trick.
The Seraphim stood and rushed, swiftly cutting into the Angel. The first blow cut into the shoulder of his left arm, bisecting his shoulder and wing. The next blow took the right arm at the shoulder and his right wing. The angel stumbled back, then fell to his knees. The golden halo was cut in pieces.
The Seraphim opened the grandsword blade, the keen of metal echoed in the room. She knelt down, catching the Angel’s falling body at the neck in between the grandsword’s jaws.
The snapping clap of the blade’s jaws shutting ended the fight. The Angel’s head tumbled away, the pieces of the head falling apart.
The body went loose and dropped. The Angel and body parts began to crumble to a sandstone statue.
Soltana stood in dead silence at what she witnessed.
The Seraphim inspected the loose items and grabbed the Angel’s soul mote, the size of her fist and glowing with white energy.
“Please rest for a time. Do not be burdened by this defeat.”
The Seraphim touched the gear, the shield, and sword, storing it in golden light. All that was left was a large pile of fine sand.
“That was the Angel in charge of guarding this planet. I wished I had not fought him. The combat showed me he was sincere.“
“Then who is right?” Soltana asked, her core trying to process what had happened.
The fight itself lasted just shy of seven seconds. Her eyes could barely process what had happened.
The Seraphim peered back at Soltana.
“A house divided.”
And no more was said of the matter.
“Come, we have much more to do. I wish to end this. If you could assist in finding her, then there will be less bloodshed. There is no one else here on this planet that can harm me.”
Soltana thought on that, seeing supposedly good people being destroyed for no reason did not sit with her.
She focused on her Seal, on her calling as a Guardian. She could suddenly feel the other Seals throughout the galaxy. She discovered a way to track them. It was built into all Seals, subtly pushing them to each other. There she felt it, a Seal holder nearby. Down in the depths of the tower.
She stored this new ability as a module, named Seal Compass.
The Seraphim continued her journey, and Soltana followed, grief rising in her heart.
The horrors had just begun.