35.8 Proof

Achala waited.

He waited while the rest of Prime deployed to Phoenix through the portal opened by Lauren Ring.

He waited as Analysis updated him on the situation, a fight with the potential to escalate exponentially.

The Juggernaut waited while his teammates fought, while Bruce died and was reborn in a flash of red light and Retcon fell to the ground, exhausted.

He waited while his friend reviewed his own death, watching it on high speed video and listening to the sped up audio.

Operative Glory returned, drained and depressed as she always was after a fight and still he waited.

Achala Juggernaut waited but he never stopped moving.  He swayed on his feet while his hands and arms made small, circular gestures.  His head rose and fell, nodding as if in time to some slow, steady beat that only he could hear.  A careful observer might have noticed that his motion was growing faster, tighter and more contained.

Most of all, while he waited he planned.  Bruce had given him his target.  Achala picked his path, calculated angles and made his best guess regarding material strength.  Where possible, he had Analysis confirm or provide additional information.  When the time finally came, when Bruce gave the signal, Achala ceased to wait.

A golden ring opened in the air.  Achala was already in motion, little more than a white blur as he raced through it.  He was in another room for an instant but passed through before noting anything more than the barest details.  Achala recognized three of his former students.  His chosen path carried him too close to one of the Hectors present then through a wall.

He regretted that but Hector wouldn’t be truly harmed.  One was now missing an arm but the young man had other bodies and Achala had inflicted worse during their sparring match.  For now, he concentrated on running.  He focused his power on the forward movement of his skintight uniform.  Every footstep dug deeply into the ground and gravity only touched him enough to keep him moving level.

It was flight, of a sort.  Achala loved this, this feeling of joyous movement and stillness, free from pain for the first time in longer than he cared to consider.  If he was a different sort of man he might have called it holy.  Instead, he simply concentrated on his stride and his form, trusting Analysis to notify him if he strayed from his planned route.

He did not.

The battle-site came into view.  The building, once a hospital, was ruined.  Large rents had been torn into its sides, some energy power he didn’t recognize.  Half of it was covered in blue ice that boiled away in the day’s heat.  William Power, he was not sure which one, fought half a dozen of the Skinthief’s copies on the ground before the building.  Occasionally, one manifested strange green and black wings, tried to fly, only to be brought down by the experienced operative.

He ran, faster and faster.

Within, he knew there was a single ally, a Brother of the Crowley Lodge.  There was also a veritable horde of near mindless corpses, animated and directed by Operative Grave.  He’d need to be cautious about the latter but he regretted what would likely happen to the first.

An angry sun hovered in the air above, Flux, lashing out with coils of flame whenever one of the copies tried to break away on foot.  Above that, there was darkness.  Gatekeeper, present within the earie cube of shadow, formed from his own Gates.  The strange man never left it, refused to travel by any other means or allow anyone else inside.  It was the perfect defense, impossible to breach because there was nothing there to breach.  Anything that approached too closely would simply be sent elsewhere.

Achala noted the strange dark squares with reflective edges that were appearing around Gatekeeper’s home.  He had seen this technique before, recognized it.  Bruce called it the Tower of Heaven.  Once readied, the upward facing Gates, each one hundreds of feet across, would be linked to a single Gate opening down.  Like a magnifying glass, the sun’s fury would be focused into one area, unleashing heat and radiation far beyond even Flux’s capacity.  It would probably spare most of the city, but only most.  Gatekeeper had first used it in a failed attempt to kill Monster.  Oakland had never fully recovered.

He was almost there.  Achala raised his arms and snapped them out.  In each hand he held a device, vaguely resembling a sword’s hilt, that extended a thin thread with a weight on the end.  The cords extended out and out.  Rendered immune to gravity and inertia, they were held straight by his will.  At the center of a line hundreds of feet across, he stepped down harder than usual just before reaching the building and adjusted how his movement was affected.

Achala continued forward but he also rose into the air.  The angle was mild but it should be sufficient.  He passed through the building without resistance, tore through it without slowing.  So did the cords he held.  Seconds later he changed his grip on his power, let the last few walls he encountered slow him, then lodged one of the cords into something solid.

He spun around, reversing his momentum and pulling himself upwards again.  In this manner he passed through the hospital again and again, tearing out great swathes of it as he went.  Once he reached the top, he staggered and fell to the roof.  It was already collapsing.  He threw himself forward, a simple leap that arced but did not stop.  William caught him, else he would have simply continued on forever.

Achala Juggernaut, despite his name, was not unstoppable.  He had just destroyed a building but suffered several broken bones in the act, also rendered himself severely dizzy, likely a concussion.  He had dominion over the movement of objects he touched but not his own body.  A sudden change of momentum would send his brain crashing against his skull, the same as anyone else.

William set him down gently.  Without conscious thought, Achala resumed waiting.  Kneeling in the dust and the dirt, within sight of the wreckage he had made, he rocked gently back and forth, waited and planned in case he was needed once more.


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9 comments on “35.8 Proof

  1. So, as you may have noticed, I updated. That’s right, yesterday and today. We’re back on a daily schedule. There will probably be a short break when I get to the editing phase of the current arc / book 2 but I’ll try to at least post something during that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The strange man never left it, refused to travel by any other means or allow anyone else inside. It was the perfect defense, impossible to breach because there was nothing there to breach. Anything that approached too closely would simply be sent elsewhere.

    He’s got to get air and food from somewhere, representing a potential vulnerability.

    Also, it only renders him invulnerable to attacks that pass through the space between the origin and the target or require line of sight, which isn’t quite the same thing as being invulnerable. Particularly not against other teleportation powers.

    Like

  3. Gatekeeper, present within the earie cube of shadow, formed from his own Gates
    eerie

    Also, the tower of heaven move sounds like a really cool clever way to use a portal to attack. Reminds me of worm, where a man had a portal that sent things 5 seconds back in time, so he let light loop through it constantly for YEARS, until it had enough energy to stop anything.

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    • It’s also the primary mode of attack for Soul, from the unfinished Saga of Soul. Except she uses the pressure differential of the deep ocean in combination with the rotation of the planet, so she gets an unstoppable water saw.

      Like

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