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Book 5, Chapter 109 – The Invincible Cloudhawk

 Veteran demonhunters were not pushovers.

Men and women with such a designation were often people of note in Skycloud. People that normal Elysians looked up to. A group of twenty such warriors together was a rare and impressive sight. Oren Cloude had brought with him most of the Demonhunter Corps' backbone.

Oren himself was a noble personage of Skycloud, an elder of high esteem. His foe would need to be a Master Demonhunter or greater to warrant such a man to lead twenty of his finest in person.

"Hmph, persistent idiot. Let me see what you've got!"

Dawn was off like a bullet. In an instant she stood between these demonhunters and Cloudhawk. With her right hand she shoved Terrangelica into the sturdy wood of the bridge, and immediately it began to rumble. She raised her gloved left hand at the encroaching force and ejected an invisible burst of power.

This was... control over gravity!

Oren's face, already dripping with anger, now bore notes of fear and humiliation. The glove on Dawn's hand was none other than his own precious lost relic.

It was a well-known and prestigious artifact in Skycloud. It was able to manipulate gravity to attack and support. During the battle for Sanctuary Oren faced the old drunk and learned he was no match for the former War Saint. Vulkan severed his arm and his glove was lost to the enemy.

When the wastelanders recovered the relic they found that no one was able to use it. However gravity and earth had a connection, so they figured Dawn should give it a try. Beyond all expectations, she revealed a potent talent for its use and for the last six months she had been steadily improving her mastery over the relic.

A crushing gravitational force blanketed the area. It was so overwhelming that the floorboards groaned and cracked!

With Terrangelica and the gravity glove Dawn was an even match for Oren. Although the power she wielded did not compare to what Oren could muster, she was nonetheless frighteningly lethal. Even Cloudhawk was impressed by what he witnessed. He was surprised to see how much she'd improved in so short a period.

If the enemies she faced were ordinary demonhunters, they all would have been crushed beneath her might. However they were not. Oren had brought some of his best, veterans who in addition to their powerful and varied relics were also experienced warriors. One or two of them, Dawn had nothing to fear. Three or four might give her a little trouble. Five or so and she would have quite the fight on her hands. Eight and above, Dawn was out of her depth.

She was looking at twenty! Defeating them on her own? Not in her wildest dreams.

Oren didn't even need to shout a warning. As the gravitational force descended the demonhunters burst into action. They dashed out in different directions to avoid the scope of her attack and used this chance to surround their foes.

Dawn scowled. They were better than she thought.

Bastards! So many capable fighters waiting in the wings, Arcturus wasn't holding much back!

"Your sorry group can't win!" Dumont and his wastelander lieutenants were also on the move. His allies were mighty wasteland mutants Toad and Canker. Their powers were strange and formidable, comparable to veteran demonhunters themselves. "Surrender. The wastelands' fate is to be unified, you can't stop it. To try is to just to bring on further needless death."

Dawn drew herself up with resolve and indignation. Things were not going well. Had she known what was waiting for them, she wouldn't have been so hasty.

Cloudhawk revealed nothing, as calm as a lake surface. When Dumont made his claim Cloudhawk nodded. "I agree with part of what you say. The wastelands have lived in chaos for a thousand years. Unity is the only way to change that. But the fate of the wastelands are for wastelanders to determine, not Arcturus or his lackeys."

"You've always been an amusing boy, but your stubbornness has grown tiresome. I'll have to deal with you personally."

"Instructor Cenhelm, you have always loved to talk. Let's see if over the years your skill with Dawnbreaker has improved."

Nothing else was said. Dumont's helmet reappeared to surround the old man's face and he charged at full speed.

His armor quickly began to glow with power, as though it'd been thrown in a furnace. The sound of his feet pounding the floor was thunderous and in an instant he was like a supersonic bullet. As he dashed forward, right fist raised, the pulsing power in his armor raced through it in waves and gathered in his arm.

The power spilled out, turning his fist into a blazing sun! Anything that dared stand in the way of his punch would surely be blown to pieces!

Dumont's Dawnguard Armor was a mighty relic and the man himself was possessed of above-average mental ability. The last few years he had managed to overcome his learning plateau and had made improvements. The power he wielded now was perhaps twice what he could muster back when Cloudhawk was training in Hell's Valley. This punch had enough power behind it to outright slay a Master Demonhunter.

Now was the time! Attack!

Oren and his demonhunters were all tempered warriors. They knew when to seize on an advantage. While the enemy was distracted by Dumont's indomitable rush, it was the perfect time for them to move in as well. The members of the Demonhunter Corps and their commander launched their attacks.

One was a plume of fire in the shape of a roaring dragon.

One was a column of lightning.

Another came in the form of writhing tornadoes.

All at once the ship's bridge was a devastated war zone. As Dawn and the other members of the Southern Confederation saw the attacks come their faces blanched.

No one could walk away from such an all-encompassing attack! Cloudhawk was a powerful dimensional talent who could perhaps save himself with a teleport, but Dawn and the others were defenseless. She also knew that Cloudhawk was not the sort to abandon his allies.

What could they do?

Anxiety froze her limbs yet she could see no reflection of it in Cloudhawk's expression. He merely took a casual step forward and a pale light glimmered along the gauntlet along his left arm. He curled his fingers into a fist, and reached out with his arm to meet Dumont's.

The two fists collided. Completely out of proportion.

One was encased in a blinding light, the other merely shining white. The degree of magnitude seemed laughably skewed. However in the moment these attacks met every piece of glass and equipment on the bridge - from the control panel to the porthole windows - exploded into a million pieces.

Dumont could feel it as though it were happening in slow motion. The power behind Cloudhawk's punch could level whole mountains.

The rebound energy was unyielding. Even the air was so compressed it turned to a liquid state. No matter whether it was physical matter or energy, everything was rapidly ejected from the path of this power. All of Dumont's mighty power was reflected back at him.

And not just Dumont's attack! Cloudhawk's action had produced a field that surrounded all of them, an energy vacuum! None of the attacks from the other demonhunters could force its way through.

The vacuum field continued to expand, pushing the attack send its way back toward their source. Fire, lightning and air swept away everyone, be they demonhunters or wasteland fighters.

From the outside it looked like a bomb had gone off within the bridge. It detonated in spectacular fashion, spreading debris a thousand meters in all directions. Even the guard ships nearby were nearly capsized from the force of the shock wave.

The violent explosion began a chain reaction. The command ship bucked as one blast after another ravaged it from bow to stern. Huge cracks split open along the deck, the hull and through every portion of it. It stopped suddenly and began to plummet.

Then the power was gone. Calm overtook the temporary tumult. What remained was a ship obliterated.

Huge swaths of the vessel were burned black from explosions. Gaping holes revealed lower decks from the outside and molten metal dripped from the edges. Hardly anything remained unscathed and the air all around was thick with pitch-black smoke.

Dumont Cenhelm had been knocked a hundred meters away by Cloudhawk. He'd smashed through one of the metal walls and lay with half his body punched through the floor of a next door engine room. His indestructible armor was now cracked in several places, especially the arm. The man within was still and it was impossible to know if he was alive or dead.

All the rest who were on the bridge were disfigured or maimed beyond recognition. Those that lived stared in fear and shock.

The epicenter of this destruction, Cloudhawk, was still rooted in place. Not a scratch marred his flesh, and even his clothes had not been put out of place. The area six feet around him had not been touched by the tragedy that ruined the rest of the vessel, making it stand out insultingly against the havoc.

Dawn and the others were protected in this circle. None of them were wounded or otherwise harmed. They were all dumbfounded. Even Dawn had no words for what she'd witnessed.

Cloudhawk had barely put any effort into that punch, and yet the power behind it was comparable to a Master Demonhunter! In addition it struck with the same martial power they might expect from someone like the old drunk. Together, the destruction it caused went beyond all reason.

Oren Cloude was speechless. How was this possible? How had he grown so strong in just one year?!

Cloudhawk loosed his fist and stood up straight. His face was the same unreadable calm as he looked unto Oren. "Do you still want to fight? I strongly suggest you surrender, for there are few in Skycloud who trouble me and you are certainly not one of them."

Oren felt a bone-deep sense of disgrace swallow him. He knew it to be the truth.

Oren might have been a little stronger than Dumont, but what he just witnessed proved without a doubt that Cloudhawk's capabilities were unassailable. Even if he fought Oren without his mental power, he could defeat the man with nothing but his physical strength.

There was no beating him. But why? How?

Dawn was also confused and conflicted with what she'd seen. The Cloudhawk standing by her side now fought with strength comparable to her fallen grandfather. He was so far beyond her level now that she couldn't imagine ever catching up.

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