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A/N – Hey the non-canon chapter for Summus Proelium (actually more of a crossover with Heretical Edge) is out for everyone to read right here
Fights always happened quickly, of course. I had grown accustomed to that over the past year and a half or so. But the next few seconds, playing out as we stopped short to take in the full extent of what we were facing, were even more of a blur than usual.
With blinding speed, a Revenant-possessed corpse put his fist through one of the glowing stalagmite formations, shattering it into a thousand pieces. His intended target, my mother’s head, had just barely managed to snap out of the way with the obvious help of Mercury’s boost. Before he could pull his arm back, she brought Mordred’s sword up to cut through it. Yet even that blade, as powerful as it was, couldn’t get all the way through his arm in one swipe. It cut a deep gouge in it, and the monster reared back with one of those horrifying screams before starting to lunge again. But Mom brought her free hand up in a sharp gesture, summoning some sort of wind blast that appeared under the monster and sent it flying up into the ceiling with enough force to leave a hole several feet deep (or high, depending on how you looked at it).
In that instant, another of the monsters was coming at her from the side. But Brawl-Robin was there, catching the Revenant by the shoulders before ripping it away from her so they could throw the thing to the ground and stomp down toward its face. The monster acted quickly enough to put its hands in the way, catching the descending foot. It couldn’t hold on for long, however, the sheer force behind Brawl’s leg forcing the Revenant’s arms down until the sound of bones cracking filled the air. Still, even as the Mevari’s foot gradually reached the monster’s head and began to push down, two more of the monsters grabbed onto them from either side. They were strong enough together to start dragging Robin off their companion.
At that exact same time, Nevada, Twister, Asenath, and Stasia were all fighting one more of the things. They were all strong, of course. But this monster was almost a match for them together. No matter how hard they hit it, the damn thing just would not stay down. It tanked everything they could throw, even when Nevada started pulling out more exotic weapons. She shouted for them to keep it busy while charging some sort of bracelet, and the other three did the best they could. Both vampires turned into twin blurs of motion as they rushed to grab the monster’s arms. But even as they caught hold, the Revenant easily hoisted them off the ground and slammed the two of them into one another hard enough to break several bones at the very least.
Twister was an elephant, charging over to slam into the Revenant in an attempt to knock it off its feet as it released the other two. Even that much force, however, barely made the thing stagger. Its own hand lashed out, slapping Twister hard enough to send her tumbling across the ground. In mid-roll, she transformed into some sort of small ferret, getting her feet back under her before launching herself back toward the monster. Just as her tiny furry feet left the ground, she turned into a hummingbird and flew that way. At the last moment, her form shifted once more, growing into a huge rhino. She slammed into the Revenant like that, finally hitting the thing with enough force to knock it down as the rhino body continued on past the thing and went tumbling to the side.
The thing didn’t stay on the ground long. Or at least, it didn’t intend to. It was already clambering back up as the rhino was rolling. But before it could fully get its feet under it, Nevada pointed her hand with the now-charged bracelet. With a single word, she sent a blast of energy that way, which wrapped around the monster and held it in a tight cocoon. The Revenant was fighting against it, but couldn’t manage to escape. For now, at least, it was contained.
Judas, meanwhile, had been nowhere in sight at first. Then I saw him emerge from Twister, whom he had apparently been possessing. Three quick steps carried him right in front of another Revenant, who had been reaching down toward the still-fallen Asenath and Stasia. Distracted by Judas, the monster lunged after him. But Judas managed to pivot out of the way, barely fast enough to avoid those grasping hands. An instant later, his fist slammed into the side of the Revenant’s head hard enough to knock it down.
That was Charmeine’s Olympian power. The more she hated the thing she was fighting against, or the more she loved the person she was protecting, the stronger and faster she was. In this case, Judas was protecting Stasia, and that power made him both fast enough to avoid the Revenant’s grasp when it had taken my mother being boosted by Mercury to do that before, and strong enough to level the monster with one punch when it had taken a flying rhino a moment earlier. Not that the single punch was enough to make the Revenant stay down forever, but still.
Then there was Persephone. My rapidly-scanning gaze finally spotted her, past everyone else. The Revenant–our Revenant– stood completely still as one of the other creatures put his fist through her stomach with a terrifyingly-powerful blow, sending a spray of blood and other bits flying. At the same time, he lunged toward her throat with an open mouth, intent on ripping that apart as well. But Persephone caught hold of his arm, the one sticking halfway into her torso, and gripped tight before literally headbutting him right in that lunging mouth. Most of his teeth were knocked out just like that, before the woman shoved his arm out of herself, caught the other one he was swinging around toward her face, and then hoisted him off the ground so she could spin in a circle to fling him as hard as she could into the distant wall. He collided with enough force to make the room shake a bit. Which left Persephone standing there with an awful hole in her stomach. At least for a brief moment, before she used Kore’s Olympian power (the one that allowed her to restore anything to any condition she herself had created, good or bad) and made herself perfectly healthy once more.
All of that played out in front of our eyes in those couple of seconds as our feet were still skidding to a stop so we could take all this in and reevaluate exactly how this was going to go.
Distract the monsters and survive long enough for someone to reach the crystal and go through all the time it would take to turn it on so we could call the rest of the damn things back. It sounded simple in concept, yet now that we were face to face with not just a few Revenants but eighteen of them, it suddenly became a hell of a lot more complicated.
Blast?! Tabbris quickly asked while we were still taking in the whole scene. Several of the Revenants were already peeling off from the main group to come after us. Any hope we’d had that Mom and the others would be able to hold their attention by themselves had basically faded when we realized how many there were. We’d already known this wasn’t going to be simple, but this was even worse than expected.
No, I sent back immediately. Save it for an emergency. Sure, this seemed pretty emergency-adjacent, but I was hoping we’d be able to get a large group of them together and hit the things all at once in order to really turn the tables. Once Tabs used her wings, we wouldn’t be able to do it again for a few minutes. And I was pretty sure ‘a few minutes’ would be the entirety of this fight, for better or for worse. We were going to have one shot with that, and we needed to make it a good one.
To that end, I raised both hands and focused intently. Of the four Revenants walking our way, three stopped short. They were struggling to move, just like the ones back in the other chamber had. I could feel them thrashing and fighting against my control. I was strong enough to stop them like this, and could probably even force them to move. I definitely didn’t have fine enough control to make all of them fight. But on the other hand… I released my control on one of them and redirected that effort toward controlling the other two into attacking him. Soon, all three were doing their level best to tear one another apart.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t relax my grip on those two as they fought the third, and the fourth was still coming our way. In the background, I could see Mom and the rest of that group fighting the majority of these things. We just had to deal with these ones. And find a way to get to that crystal. Boy would it have been nice if one of my ghosts could activate it while we kept these monsters busy, but of course it apparently required a living person to use the thing. Because they had to make this as complicated and difficult as possible.
Beside me, Shiori took a step forward before unleashing a blast of lightning from her mouth straight into the nearest of the approaching Revenants as it strode our way. That was immediately joined by a second blast of lightning coming from Kaleigh’s (the red-haired girl’s) outstretched fingers, a beam of what seemed to be cold/freezing energy from Royce’s (the blonde guy’s) eyes, and a sustained line of gunfire from some sort of pistol the black girl, Emily, was holding up. Two blasts of lightning, a beam of cold, and like a dozen or so bullets struck that monster in that moment. And none of it seemed to accomplish anything. The Revenant didn’t even slow down. It acted as though the attacks crashing into it was a summer breeze, if that much. It just kept casually walking our way. Even when Miles began making some sort of solid crystal shapes appear in front of the monster to block it, the thing just forced its way through them. It was slowed, marginally, but was still coming.
Quickly, I started to shift my control away from one of the other two Revenants who were still fighting the third, but in that exact moment, the thing stopped walking. Suddenly, it became a blur of motion, crossing the distance between us instantly. Before I could shift focus, the thing’s hands were on my neck and Shiori’s. I could feel it starting to tighten down, clearly intending to snap our necks immediately, without any fanfare or hesitation. But at the last possible instant, I managed to make it stop. The thing was lifting both of us off the ground, its grip still tight enough to cut off our air as we flailed. But I caught its body in my own invisible grip, freezing it before the Revenant could finish closing its hands.
At that moment, the others were there. Jason and Chas, two more of Miles’ teammates, grabbed the Revenant by its arms and yanked it away from us. I was still keeping it frozen, so their strength was enough to pull it free, leaving Shiori and I to drop to the ground and start breathing again.
The good news was that the two Revenants I had sicced on their companion had actually managed to do enough damage as they ripped it apart to kill the thing. The bad news was that I was no longer controlling them, and they were fast enough to launch themselves into the middle of our group before I could catch my breath and adjust. Chas and Jason both went down as one of the things crashed into them, while Emily shouted their names. She and Kaleigh both lunged after them to help.
Meanwhile, Miles was on the ground with the other Revenant already on top of him, snapping his head to the side to avoid the fist that it tried to put through his face. Unfortunately, that just put his head in the perfect position for the Revenant’s other descending fist. But Miles suddenly wasn’t there. Instead, some sort of stone statue version of him lay in his place, while the boy was clambering out of a ‘him-shaped’ hole in the ground a few feet away. Apparently he had some sort of power to exchange himself for an equivalent-sized and shaped piece of inanimate material.
At the same time, Kaleigh and Emily had both been hurled sidelong into one of the nearby stalagmites by a casual shove, while their own Revenant caught Jason by the head, yanked him back, and started to slam it forward into Chas’s. With its strength, both of their heads would basically disintegrate under that force.
But I couldn’t let that happen. Extending both hands, I threw all my power behind making it stop. The Revenant halted abruptly, still holding Jason by the head. God, I could feel it straining against my invisible grip. This thing was unbelievably strong, and old. It was ancient, one of the first of the old Seosten creations–wait no, older than that. This wasn’t a Seosten Revenant. It was one of the first, one of those created by the Reapers back when they wanted to destroy everything. It was one of their weapons, one of the original Revenants who were used as templates for the ones the Seosten created. For millennia, it had been locked up in here, this ancient being of untold power. And it was not happy about me stopping it from carrying out the murderous desires that had built up throughout that time. It railed violently against my control, even as Chas and Jason managed to extricate themselves and roll away to either side. But no matter how old the thing was, or how angry it might have been, it couldn’t escape. I was able to keep it frozen there, aside from the awful wailing sound it filled the air with.
On the other hand, if this thing really wanted to fight and rip something apart, I’d give it a target. With a grunt of effort, I sent it after the other Revenant, the one Miles had just escaped from. Even as that thing was gathering itself to lunge after the boy, this one crashed into it. They screamed at one another, flailing and tearing violently as they rolled across the ground. But I had to keep my focus on the one, forcing it to keep fighting the other.
At the same time, Tabbris took control of my hand to reach into one of my pockets so she could pull out a stone we had prepared earlier. My mouth blurted the activation word as I chucked the thing back over my shoulder in the direction of another Revenant that had been rushing toward us. The spell on the rock activated as soon as it hit the ground, creating a ten-feet wide, twenty-feet deep pit right under the Revenant’s feet for it to crash down into. A second later, Tabbris made my mouth spit out the deactivation word, turning it back into solid ground. It wouldn’t stop the Revenant for more than a couple seconds, if that. But right now, literally every second counted.
The others were all fighting around us, as it took everything we had to stay ahead of these things. For the moment, we had it under control. But that wouldn’t last forever, and we still had to get to the crystal. Or someone did.
“Go!” I shouted toward Shiori. “You’ve gotta get to that thing and activate it!” She could do it. Her half-vampire enhancements coupled with the powers she’d picked up as a Heretic, she could make it. Especially with an escort. Which I arranged immediately, summoning Rahanvael, Seth, Grover, and over a dozen other ghosts. “They’ll cover you, just get to that crystal! We’ll be right behind you!” Even as those words were coming out, I had to force down the wave of revulsion that washed over me at the thought of sending Shiori off like that. If more of these monsters caught up with her, if–no. The ghosts would cover her. And the rest of us would keep them busy.
For Shiori’s part, the girl hesitated for a brief second. Then her eyes darted around to take in the whole situation. Realizing we didn’t have time to discuss it, and that she was the best choice, considering all my focus had to go toward controlling and stopping these monsters, she gave me a very quick nod. Then she leaned in to touch her lips to mine before pivoting to start running. The ghosts spread out to play blockers for her. They wouldn’t be able to do much to any Revenants, but they might be able to slow them down a little bit.
As she started running, one of the other Revenants immediately chased after her. But I quickly grabbed it with my power, halting the thing in mid-step just before it could launch itself after the girl. Which freed the one I was forcing to fight its companion, but as it was trying to scramble up, Miles and the rest of his entire team unleashed everything they could on both of them. Despite all that, however, one of the monsters managed to stand. Even under sustained attacks from six different (admittedly young) Heretics, the Revenant pushed itself up. It continued inexorably standing, its hands reaching out toward Royce. At least until a seventh Heretic came in out of nowhere, caught the thing by the arm and back of its neck, and sent it flying into the other monster with so much force they both went down.
“Guess I can’t really turn down a fight after all,” Trice muttered, before unleashing a sustained blast of some sort of purple flames from both hands on the two Revenants.
For the next minute, the rest of us struggled to keep these monsters busy. We couldn’t kill them. They were just too strong, too impervious to everything we could throw at the damn things. Even with my ability to control them, there were just too many. They kept coming, kept breaking through our defenses. It was all we could do to slow these things down.
“Fuck’s sake!” Trice shouted while recoiling from a backhanded blow, “Is someone gonna activate that crystal or not?!”
Even as he asked that, I felt a tug from Seth. Focusing on seeing through his eyes, I found that there was good news and bad news. The good news was that Shiori had reached the crystal. Or she was close to it, anyway. The bad news was that she was on the ground, with several more Revenants closing in. My ghosts were doing the best they could to hold them back, but Shiori had apparently crashed pretty hard. It was taking her a moment to get back up, and one of the monsters went right through Seth, reaching for her.
Oh fuck no. Instantly, I threw all the power I could into the ghost-vampire, even as he spun back around after the Revenant. I managed to give him enough strength to catch the thing by the arm, yank it back, and throw the screeching monster to the ground.
But that wouldn’t last long. Summoning one of my other ghosts, I produced another stone, shoving it into him while blurting, “Mar’ah!” It transformed him from being partially-translucent to being reflective, like a mirror. “Shiori’s there, I’ve gotta help her!” With those snapped words toward the others, I used my walk through reflections power, passing into that ghost, and out through Rahanvael, who had already shifted herself into a mirror-like surface at my silent request.
I came out right next to the fallen Revenant, who was already starting to pick himself up. Before he could, I drove my staff down into his back. Or tried to. The blade literally bounced off him. But the force of the blow still managed to knock him back down for a second.
More Revenants were coming. I reached out, grabbing Shiori’s hand to haul her up. “Go, I’ve got you!” Giving her a little push toward the crystal, I pivoted back to face the incoming monsters. There were five of them. Three halted as I threw my power at them. The other two were slowed by what was left of my ghosts, the ones who hadn’t been torn through and temporarily dissipated already.
Shiori was already at the crystal. The thing was about three feet tall and a foot or so wide, hovering in the air just off the ground. It was reddish-orange, and seemed to hum with power. The hum got louder as the other girl put both hands on it and began to activate the thing exactly the way the elderly primitive Seosten had instructed.
She was on it. She had the crystal and it was responding. But now she had to stay completely focused on that for a solid minute or so. A minute during which these Revenants would be doing everything they could to rip her apart.
And I had to make sure that didn’t happen.