The Book of Soltana: 43 – Rekindle

Rekindle

Skylon

Gideon

He felt himself dragging. Physically he felt fine, the last hit from his stims put him over peak performance. However, his mind was ragged from the Breatherman’s attack. As the shock wore off, he began to realize how much it affected him. They continued their march down the halls, finding no threats. No more demons had attacked them. All of it was suspicious.

It couldn’t have been just that single crystal sphere. He surmised.

“Are you alright, Gideon?” Deborah began, interrupting his introspection.

She appeared as troubled as he felt.

“I wish I could say yes. That Breatherman- it…” Gideon began, not sure what else to say.

“He wounded us dearly. Monday and Baxter appear to be unaffected. While you and I are struggling for resolution.”

“It doesn’t help much of those attacks were against my family’s perception of me. Being a failur-”

“Do not say it. That is how he wins, even after you defeated it with your Seal. You need only say the lie and your damning prophecy will be fulfilled,” Deborah interrupted, correcting Gideon.

“What did it say about you?”

“I will not repeat the exact words. But let us theorize he was using my past inabilities against me. The loss of my Throne. My twice defeat at the hands of Saddiffer and inability to protect you. My aberrant nature.”

“Your free will? Isn’t that good?”

“Because of who else was an aberrant.”

“Lucifer,” Gideon muttered.

That name hung as ominous fog between them.

He remembered what she first told him on their flight away from Karmmrak. Her exact words floated back to his attention.

“Her charisma, beauty, and power were so extreme she could win over other Aberrants with ease, not to mention angels lacking free will.”

“She desired to be as God.”

Gideon nodded in understanding. The Breatherman had most likely attempted to draw parallels with Deborah and her scorned enemy; Lucifer.

“I hope we never meet her, but somehow I suspect we will eventually,” Gideon said grimly, attempting to change the subject.

“And we must be ready.”

A tap clack beside him alerted that Baxter scurried over to listen.

“Gid, you are just great. That breath guy was bad. We need to save Shin! We will beat them, eat them, and then have steak!” Baxter began with a chuff, trying to encourage.

“Thanks, Baxter. When we get out of this, I’ll be sure to give you the best ration we have.”

“Oh boy! Come on, Steak, we must hurry!” Baxter replied with a bark.

The trundling of Steak’s mini Rumbler echoed through the halls. His dozens of eyes scanned the area.

“Impossible. Caution is key right now,” Steak shot back. A lone red LED eye floated along the rear hull, staring at the dog.

Monday and Patricia had been talking to one another about tech but had now sidled up to listen.

“Deary, the Breatherman is no slouch in combat,” Monday interjected.

“If you didn’t beat it as you said, our journey might have ended right then and there,” Monday drolled.

“I had only beat it with my astrapomancy; lightning magic. It may be immune to physical attacks, but magic does a number on that beast.”

“Good Gideon, I am concerned over the lack of present enemies,” Patricia added, the click of her nanite cane added to the din of Steak’s march.

“Tell me about it. It couldn’t have been a single sphere. Unless… Unless the Compiler collected them all. You saw how massive it became.”

“Hence the caution.” Steak affirmed.

They continued their journey down the massive main vein to the vessel’s bridge.

“Gideon deary, I do say that when it is most quiet is when the enemy plots a noose for us,” Monday advised.

“I hope it’s nothing like that Breatherman,” Gideon idly wished.

“It’ll be far worse, hon,” Monday replied, humor edging into her voice.

“And you thought you defeated me?”

Gideon heard the familiar voice, stopping to glance behind him. His heart skipped upon hearing the accusing voice.

“Gideon. Are you alright?” Deborah began, hefting the crystalline grandsword.

“No. I- No I heard something. I heard it again.”

“It is possible you are still wounded from the encounter. We barely survived,” Patricia suggested.

Gideon nodded, hefting the tempest cannon as he continued the march into the unknown.

“Monday, you said it was a Breatherman. What do you know about them?”

Monday glanced down, her eyes rolling back in thought.

“Well, they are so far extreme into the theonic realm they are immune to the soma, even if it is partially somaic.”

“Theonic? Somaic?”

“Spiritual, theo, versus the physical, soma,” Monday explained.

“So if I attack it with an enchanted battleax-”

“It would do nothing-”

“-But magic-”

“Would damage it dearly; the price of over-investing,” Monday finished with open palms.

“And I believe I am the only magic wielder here, apart from Deborah who is more defensive in her abilities.”

Deborah nodded, pursing her lips at that.

“Weaker Breathermen tend to slowly flay at your mind, wearing you down, like a struggling serpent. This villain attacked us at will, molding the broken demon sphere and almost taking us out.”

“The blow I felt was very somaic,” Patricia replied deadpan, tapping at the scarred metal across her curved chest.

A grumbling chuckle emanated from the massive rumbler.

Anform humor was universal to anforms.

“Quite, deary. Thank the lord above and beyond excertius are tougher than they appear.” Monday replied with a nod.

“To continue, the Breatherman we fought was beyond the norm. I suspect it will have a host of different abilities compared to its lesser self.”

“The Compiler knew what would slow us down.” Steak grumbled over comms

“I suspect even now that there are more spheres. More spheres that have been devoured by our dear Compiler.”

Gideon nodded in agreement. How quickly the Compiler moved would give little doubt it could sweep the vessel, saving the hardest for last. It fought like poison gas, slowly strangling you to destruction.

“Gid, I do not smell bad guys here. I do not hear bad guys either. We beat them!” Baxter began with a chuffing bark.

“I wouldn’t say that yet. We didn’t get that Compiler. They’re building up for sure, trying to buy time to deal with us.”

“Then I will smell them and hear them! They will not get us!” Baxter chuffed with promise.

“Good boy, we’ll get them first,” Gideon encouraged.

I hope.

He spoke to calm himself as much as Baxter.

“Like an infant to a teet, so to must you comfort yourself.”

Gideon instinctively nodded in agreement with that assessment.

“Why do you continue? She’s gone. It’s Undeniable.”

“Do you think Shindow is..?” Gideon began. He couldn’t finish it.

“Say the word. She is dead. Say it.”

“I mean- she can’t be-”

“Gideon, what are you trying to say?” Deborah asked with concern etched on her face.

“Say the word, you fucking coward.”

Gideon flinched at the sudden shocking brutal words. He felt the pit of his stomach drop. There was no way he could mentally get around it. He stopped, and so did the advance.

“Shindow is dead.” Gideon finally let out.

“There we are. Face reality.”

Deborah gripped Gideon by the shoulder, her lips flattened in disapproval.

“Gideon. Do not say such things!”

“Deborah, I- I can’t help but think it! It’s all my fault-” Gideon began, distress escaping from him.

Deborah flipped the grandsword behind her, sinking it into the floor.

She gripped him in an embrace, Gideon went slack, letting the moment happen. Her height dwarfed his, like a mother to a child.

She went in close to his ear.

“It is not your fault.”

He felt the cursed words that haunted him melt away.

“Do you see it?” She then whispered.

“What?”

“The Breatherman. Do you see it?”

“It’s destroyed! I burned it with-”

Gideon glanced at Steak, seeing a familiar figure sitting atop it. All four arms crossed, its black robe billowing as specter fog. It lounged, staring impassively down at him.

The Breatherman gazed judgment at him. He felt the contempt emanating from the hooded head.

“On Steak. Dead center,” Gideon alerted, keeping as vague as possible.

Monday had paid attention, her hands behind her back. She stepped slowly, just behind Deborah.

“Remain calm,” Deborah mouthed.

He glanced to her, seeing her alabaster teeth displayed in a smile.

Gideon felt flung to the side, stumbling to remain upright. A portal shot behind the Breatherman, scooping it up. The exit portal opened up just in front of Deborah who took a combat stance, lunging with a strong blow as the Breatherman was flung into her waiting fist.

The demon did not react as it phased straight through her, overconfident in its somaic defense.

Gideon caught the smile upon Deborah as her blow missed.

What is she doing?

Monday had finished her spell, her hand’s arcing with coils of lightning.

Deborah was a smokescreen…

The Breatherman reacted too late as it attempted to alter its trajectory.

Monday caught it in her loving embrace, the spell grounded fully into the Breatherman. It shrieked, becoming corporeal again.

“Enemy!” Steak announced.

“You are bad I will get you!” Baxter barked back.

“It was still alive?” Patricia added.

The Breatherman writhed in agony, the robes caught fire as blue lightning coursed through it. Using its top arms, It slammed down on Monday’s shoulders, buckling her grip. Another backhand sent her flying, tearing one of her arms loose.

The Breatherman fell to its knees, labored breathing and weakened posture all told the signs that the attack worked.

Gideon fired a burst into the Breatherman, scoring only the far wall. The head snapped to him, the firing snuffing out to black smoke.

“A good attempt but nothing more.”

The Breatherman sank into the floor, vanishing from sight, Patricia rushed to aid Monday who had sat up, looking dazed from the blow. Baxter had pounced, slamming into the floor as he was too late to catch the demon. Monday peered down at her lost left arm, muscle cabling and plating sheared and warped.

“I really did like that arm,” She stated with mild disappointment.

“Good Monday, please stand still,” Patricia began, her nanite cane glowed as she began her repairs.

“Are you alright?” Deborah asked, gripping the grandsword and freeing it from it’s brass floor sheathe.

“It’s still alive,” Gideon began.

“Goddammit.”

Gideon marched to Monday, seeing Patricia repairing the dismembered arm.

“I thought we killed it!”

“Well dear, I suspected it’s stronger than normal. They usually only have one set of arms.”

He now knew who was planting those thoughts of Shindow’s ‘death’ in his heart and mind.

“Gideon, we suspected something was wrong still. I had sensed it, but could not see it. We kept our plan between us,” Deborah began, gesturing to the woman, “We figured it had something to do with keeping your heart and mind guarded.”

“It went for the weakest is what you are saying,” Gideon stated with a hint of bitterness.

“Yes,” Deborah replied with firm calmness.

“We had to keep it from you as we suspected it may have been tipped off. It needed to believe we had no way of knowing.”

Gideon nodded in understanding.

I still have a ways to go. At least I’m surrounded by those who care.

Monday got to her feet, her destroyed arm was reattached but was still ongoing repairs bye a cloud of nanites.

“Gideon deary, do not be at odds with yourself. This is not a normal Breatherman. I suspect it’s a greater demon.”

“Or worse.”

“Good Gideon, remember what was relayed about the Compiler: it tries to collect, not destroy,” Patricia encouraged.

Gideon nodded again. They had to hurry before whatever master of the Compiler showed up as Void had warned. They had the firepower, they just needed to pin it.

He felt his mind refreshing at the realized truth. The Breatherman would attack you based on your insecurities, weakening your mental fortitude before devouring you.

How to destroy it?

Can it be destroyed?

My Seal only shook it from me. Monday’s magic hurt it, and Baxter had Saddiffer’s grumpiness. Deborah must have freed herself from its grip just on the basis of being an angel. But yet it still lives, even after being burned alive and shocked. Need to keep our guard up, it’ll attack from anywhere.

They marched on reaching a narrowing of corridors.

“Well, we’re passed midship, it’ll be narrow halls from here,” Monday warned, glancing to the massive miniature Rumbler.

“CEO Gideon, I will take command of the Rumbler from here. I have blockaded the hallways, leaving just a straight shot to the hangar. Steak, please assist Gideon on foot,” Prosine explained.

Blue pixelated light formed underneath the Rumbler, Steak appeared in his heavy power armor from before, wielding a great shield and tempest cannon with two shoulder det launchers.

“Affirmative. Good Gideon, shall we continue?” Steak queried.

The smaller reinforced sliding door stood ominously. It stood at ten feet, too small for the Rumbler.

“Lead the way,” Gideon ordered.

They formed up, with Steak in the lead following by Baxter, Deborah, and Gideon. Patricia and Monday held the rear.

“I’ll get the door,” Monday declared.

Another Gnat appeared, floating serenely with a vacant stare.

“Get that door, would you kindly?”

“Aye, ma’am!”

The Gnat shot to the terminal, working the door controls.

“Jubs dun!” The Gnat declared as the creaking click announced the door was unlocked.

The sliding doors parted, with the entire party hefting their weapons, awaiting another attack.

The expansive room was dark apart from a few lone overhead LEDs. The room was trashed, with signs of combat everywhere. Blood and ash painted the room.

Gideon then heard a soft coughing noise from inside the room.

“I heard it, too,” Steak began.”

“Foe?” Deborah asked.

“I will bark and bite it!” Baxter replied over comms.

Someone had given the little dog an ear communicator.

“I will check,” Steak volunteered.

He trundled forward, weapons at the ready. The hip manipulator arms prepped, being better suited for close combat. He rounded a pile of ruined crates and then gestured back.

“Medical attention. Now.” Steak curtly demanded.

Patricia quickly rushed to his side, as did the whole group. Steak backed away, readying his weapons for an ambush. Baxter’s ears drooped at what he saw.

It was the demihuman rabbit from before, sitting atop a pile of ash. His body was a shattered ruined husk. Half of his head was crushed in and he was missing an ear. The other was down, just shy of being torn off. His limbs were broken, with hairline fractures all throughout. The twin scatterguns Gideon had given him before were twisted and bent around his ruined hands. How he was still breathing was a miracle or possibly a testament to demihuman durability.

A caked pool of blood formed on the mound, flowing to the floor.

“Mond…” The demihuman began, cut off with a violent fit of coughing, blood pouring from his mouth.

“Monday… I did what I could…” He clenched his eyes, reeling in pain.

“Administering Capsaiphine!” Patricia announced, sticking the injector to the creature’s neck.

Gideon’s stomach turned at the violent aftermath in front of him he felt the empathy pain started to set in at seeing each shattered bone.

“Ah… Blessings for the mercy.”

“Monday… Was it all worth-”

“Shhh! Don’t speak now, we need to patch you up.”

The demihuman’s eyes filled with understanding.

“That bad? Usually… You say- say- rub some oil on it!”

The rabbit laughed, coughing up more blood.

He should have bled out ages ago… Different physiology I suspect.

“Don’t bother… I’ve got- minutes.”

His good eye glanced to Monday.

“Was it worth it?”

“Don’t speak!” Monday hissed, materializing medical equipment.

It was too late.

Monday stepped close, gently cradling the uninjured portion of his head.

“I got many of them… Ran after seeing the crawlers… I was the last one, too.”

“Can’t catch a Leporidae!” he said with a coughing laugh.

“Did you see it? The black tar?” Monday asked quietly.

“Aye… Passed by some time- time- ago.”

“And it left you?” Deborah asked with concern etched on her face.

“Oh no… it definitely got me.” The demihuman replied as if it had forgotten something.

Black tar began to run from his eyes, nose, mouth, and wounds, flowing to attack.

Monday opened her armored chest, revealing the tachodine core. It lit up like the sun as she fired a massive burst into what was left of the Leporidae.

Gideon’s helm blinded him from the light, preventing retina burns. With a deafening roar, The possessed demihuman, the trap the Compiler had set, vaporized to instant molecules, the ash mound scattered from the heat convection, the brass floor and walls flash melted to slag.

Steak, Deborah, and Patricia had all prepared to attack, calming down once her attack finished. The speed at which it happened caught Gideon and Baxter off guard; the dog was shaking the new ash off of its fur.

A brown mote remained, glinting to the floor.

Monday closed her armored chest, cold anger drawn upon her face. Vermilion pixelated light announced she was materializing something from QSD.

A crozier.

She tapped it to the ground and watched as the brown mote floated to the crozier, vanishing inside.

“What is that?” Gideon asked, a quiet caution to his voice.

Monday stared straight ahead, staring at the remnants.

“This is a soul cairn. It is capable of storing and saving the dear souls of the fallen. Better to collect them than let a demon to it,” Monday explained, an edge of sadness to her voice.

“May we meet again, dear Lepiko.”

She turned to the group, her lips flattened in an attempt to stifle her tears. She materialized her Venetian mask, donning it again.

“I will have vengeance for my crew,” Monday stated, Gideon could catch the slight tremble to her voice.

The CK-DINES began to file in, floating towards the ceiling for cover. They scanned every area to prevent an ambush.

If Monday hadn’t been ready for the ambush, it was possible one of them could have been taken down.

“Good Monday, the room appears clear. Please guide us to the destination,” Steak spoke with a rushed edge to his voice.

He wanted to rescue Shindow as much as anyone.

“Right. This way, dearies!” Monday replied, her voice steady with her droll accent once again.

Gideon stopped, inspecting the doorway and seeing the CK-DINES were now relegated to door guards.

They entered the next room, seeing the large open area, bereft of the normal storage or equipment. The wooden floor and raised stage area near the right were all a different theme from the usual.

“The entertainment room. I had such a ball planned, too.”

“I sense them,” Deborah stated with alertness as she hefted her demon crystal grandsword.

Gideon spotted it on stage.

The Breatherman stood atop the stage, four crystal grandswords planted into the stage around him. One set of arms crossed. It had gripped an imp by the throat, the only difference was the imp brawler was larger with glinting black scales.

The Breatherman was sucking the souls from the imp, the brown moats rushed into the hooded mouth, empowering the demon. The Imp collapsed to billowing ash, its very essence depleted to nothing.

“Demon…” Deborah hissed, preparing to attack.

“Glowing one. You will be begging me to run you through by the end.”

“The words of a demon, empty and weak!” Deborah retorted pointing the blade to the demon.

The demon appeared taller, its legs becoming double jointed, the arms all grabbed a different blade, twirling them to point to the group.

“You are bad I will bite you!” Baxter replied with a snarling bark.

“Everyone, support Monday,” Gideon ordered over comms.

The Breatherman lept off the stage onto the wooden floor, the black shroud billowed as dark fog. The grandswords were long pointed triangular blades close akin to polearms due to their size. He reached fifteen feet now, towering over everyone.

They waited for the first to move as they both eyed each other.

Deborah opened a portal up above and slammed it down on the Breatherman, faster than thought. The portal winked shut, leaving a silent anticlimactic mood.

The air was dead with silence at the sudden end to the battle.

“What… Did you just send him-” Gideon began to say.

“-Into space, yes,” Deborah replied, a smug smile forming as she sheathed her grandsword into the luxurious floor.

Monday flinched at that but remained silent. The glinting wooden floor appeared expensive as Gideon could see no seams; implying the entire room was tiled with a single glorious piece of wood.

“That’s it?” Gideon asked, sweeping the room.

“I think we now know what happened to the other demon summoning spheres,” Patricia added.

“Those swords,” Deborah explained as she tapped the crystal blade, it rang with a crystal tine.

“It cannibalized the others, too,” Gideon added grimly.

“Demons are loyal to nothing,” Deborah replied.

“We win!” Baxter barked as he loped around the room.

“I don’t think so, Baxter- I mean unless it can find a way back,” Gideon explained cautiously.

“Depending on its vesselform speed, it could be several hours,” Deborah responded with a shrug.

“Vesselform?” Gideon asked, cocking his head.

“All angels, spirits, and demons have one. It is our ability to move in empty space more effectively.”

“I’ve never seen your vesselform…” Gideon realized.

Deborah gave a silver bell laugh at that.

“Do you say that to all the women you meet?”

Gideon blushed as he froze, his helm covering the embarrassment. However, his frozen body language gave him away. Everyone gave a slight chuckle at that.

“I am a lesser angel, I do not have one, yet. It takes a deeper growth to achieve such a status. One I intend to fulfill in my adventures with you,” She explained gesturing with her empty hand.”

“Did you think some peddler’s trick would stop me?”

Everyone stopped, readying their weapons. Their fears confirmed.

“Looks like he’s faster than we thought!” Gideon barked.

The Breatherman appeared, dropping from the ceiling in a billow of black fog, all four swords swinging down against Steak.

They collided with the beryllite shield, cutting into it but failing to shear through. Steak had dropped his tempest cannon, wrestling the shield. His fiber muscles and actuators strained to their max to defend himself. His shoulder mounted det cannon fired with a thump, passing through the demon and bathing the far wall with burning thermite. Gideon personally preferred the white phosphorus for the area spread.

“Do not be afraid of friendly fire!” Steak bellowed.

“In conflict, removing support pieces is key.” The Breatherman explained.

The demon pull a blade off, throwing it at full force to Patricia. Deborah countered, dropping Patricia through a floor portal, appearing her near Baxter. The sword rushed, the air whirring from the spinning blade as it sunk hilt deep into the far wall.

“Many thanks, good Deborah!” Patricia encouraged, recovering her feet and tapping her nanite cane to assist Steak.

Baxter was inconsolable, barking madly at the demon. The dog rushed, scampering to the demon.

Monday’s hands crackled with blue lightning as she willed a lightning lance from nowhere.

Gideon kept loose, waiting for an attack. The only ability he had was his Seal, which meant physical touch.

I’d be bladed to pieces; a mouse in a turbine if I got close. I’ve got an idea…

Gideon began materializing a CK-DINE from storage, his uplink to Prosine still strong.

At the very least they’d be an expendable wall.

Thank Adonai for the greedy demon. No Pale Jammers.

The Breatherman lifted his weapons and passed through Steak. A twirl of two of its blades slashed into both of Steaks arms at the shoulders, and it planted the third through the torso, failing to fully penetrate him.

Monday’s lightning lance shot out, missing the Breathman as its dark shrouded body curved out of the way.

Steak fell forward, the blows knocking him off balance.

“Dammit! Steaks down!”

“Good Gideon, do not worry about me!” Steak replied over comms.

Deborah and two dozen of her copies appeared, each holding their own grandswords. They all rushed in to harry the Breatherman from all sides. The swords made contact with each other.

“I’m pinning it down, Monday try again!” Deborah encouraged.

Each Deborah had swung their swords, pinning the Breathman’s weapons in place. Baxter was snapping around the group of angels, trying to find a way in.

“You are bad I will bite you!”

“Always exploit the mistake of the enemy,” The Breatherman taunted.

The first CK-DINE materialized, turning sideways to fit. Gideon began to materialize another.

Patricia was making her way around, a cloud of nanites working on getting Steak repaired.

“Good Gideon, we will cover you! We’re only getting in the way,” Patricia stated plainly.

She was correct. They had no magic or any way of hurting the demon.

With its empty hand, the demon pointed to one of Deborah’s swords. The sword vibrated, glowing with a new intense energy.

And then it detonated, sending crystalline shards in a wide blast. The crystal shrieking blast rang out, stunning everyone. Deborah’s copies vanished instantly from the fatal blows.

“Dammit! Deborah! Dump the sword!” Gideon ordered over coms. He only now knew what the demon was speaking of.

The true Deborah gritted her teeth in knowing, throwing her glowing sword into a portal. She covered herself with her wings, rushing away. The sword exploded before she could close it, catching her in the partial detonation. She dropped to the ground unmoving.

Monday recovered, firing an electric lance into the Breatherman, striking true. The demon shrieked a deafening cry as the electrical attack grounded into him.

“Deborah!” Gideon shouted revving his tempest cannon and unleashing his full salvo into the demon. One of the swords shattered under the intense fire.

Got you.

Baxter rushed the demon seeing the easy target. He latched down on another sword blade with the bite strength of Saddiffer.

The sword popped with a crystal ring as it fragmented to shards. The demon lept back to its feet slashing downward against the annoying dog. The last sword shattered from Gideon’s fire, leaving a now unarmed demon. It snapped back to Gideon, eyeing him through its dark hood. Baxter lept, attempting to slam the demon. It passed through, slamming to the floor and cracking the wood with a creaking groan.

“You are bad!” Go away!” Baxter growled as he scampered around, barking at the larger demon.

“Monday, keep up the pressure, I’m getting Deborah!”

“Come hell or high water, this demon will pay!” Monday shrieked over comms.

Her dress dematerialized in vermillion pixelated light, revealing her curvy armored cybernetic body. Her very body crackled with an electrical aura, arcing into the wood floor, scoring it with burn veins. The CK-DINE ran interference, getting between it and Deborah.

Monday got close, slashing at the demon with large electrical claws. The demon reeled back, the lightning grounding into it. It shrieked in pain, unable to defend itself.

It broke down into a cloud of fog, passing around Monday and obscuring her view. The demon formed again, launching a backward kick into Monday who only partially blocked it, she was sent flying to Patricia and Steak. More electricity ground into him from the blow.

“Anticipate. Separate. Eliminate,” The demon commented. It was calm, even after taking what was dozens of hits.

Baxter lept, trying again to hit it. The demon pointed with all four arms and a stream of icy breath flowed, freezing Baxter in a solid brick of ice. The flash ice formed, creating an ice wall to the ceiling, isolating Gideon and Deborah from the others.

“Baxter!” Gideon shouted. He reacted quickly, rushing to Deborah.

He glanced down to Deborah, trying to pull her away. Her wings were shredded bloody stumps, dripping golden blood. Her body was peppered with holes from the fragmented blast.

“Gideon… I’m sorry,” Deborah began.

“Don’t say that! Stay with me!” Gideon bellowed as he pulled her towards the door. Another CK-DINE finally materialized, attempting to block the demon as it strode casually to them.

With a wave of the demon’s arm, a wall of ice formed at the door, sealing them.

Shit, shit, shit! Gideon swore, trying to pull Deborah way, avoiding the doorway.

She trailed streaking gold blood along the floor. The wounds were serious.

There he spotted it. A crack forming in the ice wall near Baxter.

He’s not dead. Just immobilized.

The demon walked to the far wall, passing through the CK-DINES to pull out the last crystal grandsword.

“Go fuck yourself!!” Gideon taunted, thumping a det shoulder cannon and launching an explosive.

The detonation rocked the room, sending Gideon to his knee, dropping Deborah.

The demon was unharmed, gazing at its now empty hand. The crystal fragments showered the room.

“A shame. The sword was a mercy.”

Gideon spotted flashes of light along the ice wall.

They’re trying to cut through.

“Assist them, Sentinels!” Gideon ordered.

The CK-DINES quietly floated towards the flashing silhouettes along the ice wall and began to carve into with their own solar cannons. The ice melted slowly, but melt it did.

Goddamn magic ice!

Gideon fired a burst one-handed, the rounds passing through the demon and scattering against the far wall.

He kept pulling her, moving towards the far corner.

Need to stall for time. Anything!

“Love is a weakness. Even now you could have saved yourself. You threw it all away to rescue a depleting angel. She’s already gone.”

“And what would you know you four armed bastard!”

Gideon’s heart pounded at the monster in front of him. He felt the strong pressure from the demon’s presence. He let Deborah go, walking in between them.

He thought back to Saddiffer. He tried his gambit.

“Please! Let them go!” Gideon begged.

“Why?

“Because if you do, I’ll sign your contract. I will allow you to possess me,” Gideon replied, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

“Gid..eon,” Deborah attempted to counter.

The demon paused, cocking its head on thought.

Gideon glanced to the ice wall, seeing the glowing increase, implying freedom was near. The ice wall cracked, with Baxter freeing much of his upper body. The ice broke away and the noise of a perturbed doggy echoed in the room.

“Ice will not stop me! Just like blankets!” Baxter barked, wiggling to and fro to free himself.

Gideon armed a white phosphorus grenade in his right shoulder mount. He just needed to see that contract.

The demon took two steps forward within arm’s distance to Gideon.

“You are wiser than you appear.”

Gideon held out his right, letting the tempest cannon vanish in orange pixelated light.

His pulse raced, his vision narrowing. He had to keep strong through the pressure.

He awaited the demon’s decision.

“What you offer is your own body in exchange for your friends safety?”

Gideon nodded calmly. His left hand trembled again.

The demon towered over Gideon, bending down to reach eye level.

He had faced Saddiffer, this demon was nothing compared to that monstrous presence.

The demon scoffed, he could feel the icy breath from inside the suit.

“Do you take me for an absolute fool?”

The sudden shout from the demon pushed Gideon back.The demon pulled back two of its arms.

Oh fu-

Gideon felt himself spinning from the double backhand. He felt himself tumbling through the air, striking the ice wall. He felt the armor warp on impact, cracking the ice. He hit the floor with a shuddering shock.

WARNING: Damage to-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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