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Book 7, Chapter 29 - Victory

 The Green Alliance and the combined Elysian forces were at a standoff.

That didn't mean they were on the same level. Wastelanders had a tenth of the forces of their Elysian counterparts. Nor was it just quantity that was an issue. The warriors and equipment sent to Sky Fortress were the very best the Elysian lands could muster. By comparison, the Green Alliance looked like a rag-tag mob.

Wolfblade sat in the command deck of the armada's flagship, sipping a cup of tea. He was looking out over the hovering vessels when suddenly his eyes narrowed. Behind the sprawling enemy forces, Sky Fortress erupted into a ball of light and fire like a star had been born.

A few moments later the roaring blast and the shock waves hit. A storm of debris was sent streaking through space.

Unable to hold together any longer, Sky Fortresses oxygen detonated and caught fire. It was like a giant balloon filled with helium and a firecracker inside. Everything was jettisoned into the dark expanse when the bomb went off.

All the painstakingly erected facilities - the defenses, the structures, the barracks, the airports - everything was completely destroyed. Thousands of Elysian ships had also been caught in the blast. IT was like being caught off guard by a deadly avalanche. After months of effort and construction, everything fell apart.

Gravity and air pressure vanished like someone had hit a switch. Sky Fortress was no more.

Wolfblade's eyes gradually adjusted to the harsh light. He rubbed his chin and muttered, "Quite the fireball."

"That's what it can do?" It was the first time Frost had seen a nuclear bomb detonate. "This is the weapon created by the ancient humans? With a bomb like that how had they been defeated?"

There were several on board the ship with Wolfblade. Frost, Selene, Abaddon and others. They had all come prepared to do battle and were waiting for an enemy to show themselves.

"This was the pinnacle of human weaponry at the time. The product of a dying age. Generations of improvements over earlier ordinance of the same class, so it cannot be compared to what it was. As you can see, though, it has the capability of destroying an entire city.

In the face of such destruction, a single Temple meant nothing. Hardly anything bigger than a fist remained of the structure, and once it was gone Sky Fortress could not sustain itself. The four Elysian lands no longer had a base from which to stage their invasion.

Wolfblade went on.

"Of course, what humans knew to be the most devastating weapon ever made was but a toy to the other races out among the stars. Out in the Milky Way there exists beings of unfathomable power. In relations, humans have hardly learned how to use bows and arrows. Naked apes howling, banging sticks and stones."

Frost looked up at the starry blanket overhead. He couldn't help but scowl. He'd grown up in an Elysian lands and benefited from what he thought was a high-grade education. But he didn't know much of anything about space and the stars so the demon's words were hard to understand. As he was mulling it over ripples moved through the air before them. A figure stepped into view.

"Cloudhawk!"

Selene took a step forward.

"Don't worry, I'm fine. Everything went really well if I do say so myself." Once Cloudhawk got his footing, he turned his attention to Wolfblade. "The Temple is destroyed and the Elysian army is routed. Remember that our aim is to persuade them to our cause, not destroy them. Keeping these people and their equipment in working order is important to me."

"Yes, yes. I understand." Wolfblade inclined his head toward Frost. "What are you standing around for? Didn't you hear our king? Off you go."

It was time. The Elysian army was a powerful tool in the coming war.

The four Supremes were lost. The Temple was destroyed. Their fortress was in ruins. All of their strongest warriors and leaders had vanished, and as far as the people knew were dead. Cut off the head of a snake and its body did not continue to fight. Cloudhawk saw this opportunity as imperative - not just to eliminate the influence of the gods on his planet, but to take control of the Elysian realms they left behind.

His hope was to have them join Skycloud in pledging to his Alliance. Combined with Cloudhawk's influence throughout the wastelands humanity would be united. From this moment on Cloudhawk wasn't some wasteland warlord. He was leader of his species.

Five Elysian lands. The total population had to number over a hundred million. Adding in the territory he already controlled. Cloudhawk was master of two hundred million or more. Enough to form a global human empire. Each of these areas had their own technology and resources which, when pooled together, could be used to defeat the gods once and for all.

It was precisely what Wolfblade had been planning for.

Cloudhawk's journey had taken him across vast differences, facing countless challenges. All of it was structured to forge the greatest leader in humanity's history. It was the only way to convince the demons to help. Only once there was a clear chance of defeating the gods would those elusive creatures lend their aid. Everything up to this moment had only been preparation.

The real conflict was yet to come.

Cloudhawk brought Selene, Frost, Wolfblade, Abaddon and the other high ranking members of his Alliance through the chaos to its ravaged center. No trace of the Temple remained, but Cloudhawk was surprised to discover that the two god generals had not been killed.

He sensed them, or rather the resonance they produced. It helped him track their location to a spot several kilometers away from the blast radius. They'd only been a thousand or so meters from the epicenter when the bomb went off, yet had still managed to survive.

Harder to kill than cockroaches, Cloudhawk thought.

While they still drew breath, it was only barely. All their armor was in ruins from head to toe. The light that had clung to them was all gone. If not for his ability to sense relics, they probably would have discovered them days later and two withered husks.

"Let's end them."

Cloudhawk drew Godslayer. He'd killed one of their lot already, he had no qualms continuing the practice. Keeping them alive seemed far more dangerous.

"Wait a moment." Wolfblade leered at the gods, unconscious from their injuries. "They are Supremes, remember. Capturing such creatures alive is no easy feat. They may yet have some use."

Cloudhawk was unconvinced. "What use? Are you talking about removing the seal and trying to recruit them?"

"No. The seal is not so easily overcome. The Cloud God's condition was the result of planning and being at the right place at the right time. We don't have the time to reproduce those results. But that does not mean these gods are useless. There are ways to extract the power they bear."

"You can do that?"

"I cannot. But Belial can."

The old artisan's face swam up in Cloudhawk's memory. He'd helped Cloudhawk craft the disguise that got him into Sky Fortress, so his abilities were not in question. There were likely far more secrets he kept that would be of aid to them.

Belial had fled after Cloudhawk tracked him down, but that hardly mattered. Between Cloudhawk and Wolfblade, there was nowhere to run. It was Belial's misfortune to be born a demon. He couldn't avoid what was to come.

"Let's clean up the battlefield."

Sky Fortress' forces were a relatively small but elite force. However, after two devastating explosions and an attack from the Green Alliance, they were defeated. It wouldn't take much to capture them.

1. Showing off for the lady friend. Typical.

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