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Book 4, Chapter 57 - Between the Hammer and Anvil

 General Skye's body blazed with golden light as he rose into the air, and shot off into the clouds by himself. Each step in midair caused a small explosion, propelling him forward. After a few steps he was moving faster than a bullet. Abandoning the ships, he took the lead as they charged into the fight.

"What the fuck is that?!"

"Quick! Stop him!"

Wastelanders stared in open shock at the figure coming their way, cloaked in golden light. Several heavy machine guns swiveled around. Skye was only several hundred meters away when they spun up and started to spray a cloud of bullets toward him.

He neither dodged nor blocked the thumb-sized bullets coming his way. Dozens of bullets struck him every second, fired with such velocity that they would punch right through an iron plate. Sparks flew off the general from head to toe, but not so much as a scratch appeared on him.

Three missiles locked on him and rammed into his super human body. The air shuddered from the explosions and three angry balls of fire appeared. Choking smoke joined the black clouds all around. Another heavy cannon fired into the aftermath for good measure.

Still General Skye was unharmed. The pervasive golden aura hadn't even dimmed, and in fact burned brighter than before. Nor was his forward momentum effected at all. Screaming through the air, he sped up to catch the wasteland airships harassing him.

Two times the speed of sound.

Three times.

Four times!

He raced passed one of the suspended rocks, a fragment easily hundreds of tons in weight. His passage was like an enormous hammer that first cracked the rock and then caused it to detonate into a hundred thousand fragments. Finger-sized pieces shot off in all directions as deadly shrapnel.

Skye had reached top speed. The wastelanders and their heavy weapons were no threat to him. His body was stronger than tungsten alloy that neither bullet nor missile could pierce!

His blazing golden figure loomed large in the wide eyes of the wastelanders, as General Skye collided with their ship. He punched through the fore and half a breath later emerged from the aft. It didn't matter what materials they used in its haphazard construction, he tore through it all as easily as breaking the surface of a lake. A series of explosions and raging fires followed, belching from the holes he'd created. In the end the entire ship detonated, reducing it to burning scrap.

Concussive force from the ship's explosion caused the air to visibly ripple. Skye used its momentum to fire him even faster toward his second target.

He shot right through it, same as the first.

On the other side, his calloused hands latched onto another piece of debris that in the outside world would have weighed several tons. He handled it like a baseball, and flung the chunk of rock toward a third ship. The two collided and destroyed one another.

"Hahahaha! Line them up, knock them down! Defeated in one shot!" Skye hovered in the ominous space between dimensions, filling it with his booming laughter. "Is this the best you got? And still you hide, Crimson Fool! Are you waiting for me to kill all of your little playmates before you have the courage to show your face?"

The old man's hearty laugh was dark and demeaning. Something in it made his taunts loud enough to drown out the sounds of war surrounding him.

One among the Giants of Hell's Army - Dumont Cenhelm - possessed armor with much the same effect as Skye. While it gathered energy and could break through barrier like the old general, it wasn't anywhere near as potent. Anyway, Skye Polaris could use no relics. The calamitous damage he was doing to the Conclave's forces was done with his physical strength alone.

So far he'd eliminated three warships on his own, and hadn't even been scratched. Wasteland forces began to retreat in a panic.

By then, the main body of the expeditionary forces had begun to catch up. Since the Crimson One had not entered the fight, Skye returned to the bridge of his ship. The armor worn ostensibly to protect him was in tatters, but in fact it was mostly just for show. The skin beneath had an unnatural sheen to it, and in an astonishing display he hadn't even been bruised.

However, his chest did rise and fall as he fought for breath. The dramatic and frightening display had been exhausting. He did a good job hiding it, but age was still taking its toll.

The Conclave had raced back here as quickly as they could, but Skye had been merciless in giving chase. Fighters from the wasteland alliance hadn't the time they needed to properly prepare, however there were still countless mines hovering in the darkness disguised as rocks. Dark terrain and trickery made them hard to spot, and if enough latched to a single target they could destroy even the hardy Elysian ships.

But a ploy like this wasn't enough to dissuade the expeditionary force.

Skye shouted his orders. "Attack, press the attack! Don't give them any room to breathe!"

The General's mad fury struck fear into the hearts of the wastelanders, and kept them perpetually on a back foot. Their vanguard continued to press ahead while the main force kept a conservative distance behind. It was proof that while Skye fought with the ferocity of a lion, he was also measured. He knew how to hold a line.

Several hours passed as the Elysian armada punished the Crimson One's followers. They pressed into the deepest parts of the dimensional rift. The air was thickest in this area with dust and debris. Skycloud's ship captains could hardly see the other vessels in their formation and progress was hard, but a short time later an enormous outline began to appear.

It looked like an enormous oblong shaped... ship? Judging by the outline alone it looked bigger than a mountain.

The unusual structure was suspended in midair like everything else. Its surface was black as ink with a metallic sheen. Its interior was completely hollow. One could faintly see lights and various fortifications.

No wonder they called it Fallowmoor. It hung here in the middle of a perpetual storm.

Incredible to think that deep in this dismal place, suspended high above the ground, was a titanic city. It was large enough that tens of thousands of people could live inside it easily. By what they could see, it had to be the greatest settlement in the whole of the wastelands.

Scores of airships hovered around Fallowmoor.

In addition, there were scores of rocks hundreds of meters across surrounding it, all of which had undergone some modifications. They had the ability to move, albeit clumsily, so that they could be arranged as needed in this weightless place. Each one was like a fortress.

Their interiors had been scooped out and then manned with scores of soldiers and heavy weapons.

In addition there were perhaps a hundred ships ready for battle, and ten floating batteries with guns pointed into the clouds. Dozens of rocky forts floated among them with their rocket launchers jutting from craggy hollows. The space between the clouds and Fallowmoor was a no-man's-land of assured destruction.

The Conclave's more than ten thousand soldiers were ready to die here, if need be. They maintained an airtight line of defense before the magnificent city.

In the distance, Skycloud's vanguard slowed. Their main force caught up and the two rejoined, facing off against the formidable wasteland defense.

"Have you run out of ideas, Crimson One? All of this struggle is pointless, you can't keep the expeditionary force out!" Skye looked down his nose at the enemy's battle array, sparing a look of ridicule for their soldiers who were ready to die for a foolish cause. "Victory is in sight," he growled. "Take down the city with the Spear of the Gods!"

Elysian soldiers were taken aback by the ease of this whole expedition. Wasn't this their target? The wastelanders had done nothing to protect their precious city. For all its mighty appearance, nothing could stop the Spear of the God's. The city's sleek black exterior could be twice as thick and it would mean nothing. By the time the wastelanders began their attack attack, Aegis and God's Spear would already be prepared.

A dazzling spear of golden light pierced the dark, cloudy air. With a thunderous blast it shot toward one of the floating fortresses. Fervent light gleamed in the eyes of the Elysians as they expected to witness righteous destruction. But what they saw took them by surprise.

Just as the beam was about to disintegrate its target, it vanished. Gone, as though something had just swallowed it completely. Even General Skye was stunned by the display, for he'd seen things deflect the Spear of the Gods but never consume it.

Before he could puzzle out what was going on, those ships closest to Fallowmoor were smashed to pieces, as though they'd been flung into a meat grinder. Hulls harder than tempered steel were shredded without foundation, and a pulse of energy was flung out through the weightless expanse.

Soldiers were caught unawares and were flung from the deck, tumbling head over heels off into the cloudy distance.

No one had anticipated a counterattack like this. "What's going on?!"

Everyone knew how hardy the hull of Elysian ships were, so it was inconceivable that something would rip them apart so easily. Even other Elysian weapons couldn't produce such terrible results.

Clearly there was more Fallowmoor was capable of than its appearance would suggest.

This city in the clouds was definitely unique. While it wasn't sealed away like Woodland Vale had been, the dimensional fold it had been constructed in was rife with unstable fractures. These tears were impossible to see with the naked eye, nor were there any methods they knew of to detect where they hid.

Because of the strange circumstance that forced these two dimensions, those places where the barrier was weak produced horrific tearing force. It didn't matter how tenacious the Elysians ships were once they collided with one. Reality tore them asunder in its effort to recompile some semblance of order.

The Conclave's forces began their counter offensive. Everything the Crimson One sacrificed was to lure the expeditionary force to this battlefield! Here, on home turf and among the mysteries of the rifts, they had a chance to defeat their Elysian pursuers!

Countless rock-mines assailed the Skycloud armada. Upon detonation, they sprayed plumes of wicked green fire onto the decks of the their ships. Castigation fire was flung fire and wide by virtue of the weightless environment, making every single explosion a deadly threat to the whole fleet.

Outrage gripped General Skye when he realized what was happening. Their insolent counter attack came as he was trying to find a way around Fallowmoor's supernatural defenses.

Roc's scrambled over to him, breathlessly. "General, the situation is deteriorating. We have enemies approaching from the rear!"

"What?!" He said, eyes wide.

Skycloud's expeditionary force was fully engaged with the main Conclavian force in front of them. Suddenly, from behind came the sound of something fast coming their way. It was followed with the ominous crunch of artillery smashing into Elysian hulls. The sneak attack had caught them off guard, and so many of their rear vessels were left unguarded with minimal protection.

Before Skye could react, ten of his ships were shot to pieces. He stared, stupefied, at the destruction. Where had such a vicious rear assault come from?

Whatever weapons were being used against them were more advanced than those being used by the Conclave. In addition to heat rays there were also pulse weapons, gauss cannons and more. Range, destructive capability and precision were all far superior to the Crimson One's men.

All at once the expeditionary force was flung into confusion.

The surprises continued, for as they tried to focus on the attacks from behind a host of mutant raptors descended from above. Gnashing beaks and tearing claws fell upon them from all sides. The screams of soldiers as they were ripped to ribbons mingled with the sound of high energy bursts and fiery explosions. Deadly threats enveloped the Elysians from all sides.

The Conclave of Judgment and the Dark Atom had colluded to trap them. It was the only answer.

After General Skye had ordered his ships to attack the Conclave in full force, that was when the Dark Atom made their move. Now they were caught in a pincer move with nowhere to go.

1. Tipsy was hungry. He describes it as 'a really, really big Big Mac.

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