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Chapter 5 - Breaking the Barrier

 The Southern Wastes were warned in advance, but even with a head start they were too slow in reacting.

Selene raced to the barrier with an army of Eternals. Hellflower was close behind with mechanized units form Ark Base. Dozens of Greenland's strongest were gathered for the conflict. What they saw when they arrived shook them to their cores.

The towering boundary shield was covered as far as the eye could see with liquid bodies. Tens of thousands of them, writhing sickeningly against the shield. The scale of it was dizzying. Even as they watched the slurping figures split into copies, making the boundary look like an enormous, amorphous stained glass mural.

Sumeru's eight-armed monstrosities were bio-engineered tools. They stole energy and used it to strengthen themselves, expressly designed for the purpose of overcoming barriers like this. At the rate they were reproducing there would be millions of them in just a few minutes. Simultaneously, the barrier was under intense fire from the gods themselves. How were they going to defend against this unending siege? It was only a matter of time before Greenland was exposed.

The realm's protections were driven by Source. Humans were blessed with a mountain of the stuff, but there was an upper limit to what could be provided at any given time. When the rate of loss exceeded the rate of gain, the barrier would fail. Simple logic.

"This is a problem." Phain looked over the scene at Selene's side. "Divine forces are likely waiting at the rear."

"Not likely, certain." The Shepherd God was scowling at the wall of creatures. "I can feel them. This is a full invasion, so if our defenses fail even for a few seconds, it's all the time they need to push through."

Hellflower quickly added, "We can't hold. If we don't do something we're done for."

"We must hold, especially if we can't afford not to. We fight for every minute until Cloudhawk returns." Selene sat tall upon her divine beast.. She drew forth Sublime Transcendence and, thrusting it toward her foes, shouted, "Attack! Destroy the monsters on the barriers first!"

The soldiers all looked at one another.

Hellflower made a motion as though she understood before pulling on a metal gauntlet. Her slender figures quickly tapped at buttons on its surface. "I've activated the Cerebroid. Time to see what these robots can do. They'll show us what it's like out there."

Hellflower's 'Cerebroid' was the robot with a fragment of Father's AI installed. It didn't have all the capabilities of the original, but it was an extraordinary computational machine. Cerebroids were unparalleled in their ability to collect and analyze data.

"Targets recognized."

"Targets locked."

"Soldiers activated. Beginning attack protocol."

All the robots lurched into motion as one unit. Rocket boosters flung them into the air where, like a massive swarm of metallic bees, they arrayed themselves in attack formation. Wordlessly they pressed forward.

Compared with the octopus creatures, the combat droids from Ark Base were about as sturdy. However, where they had an advantage was with the high-powered laser weapons that were installed. As a unit their laser salvos blotted out the sky, quick and dense as a sudden tempest.

Selene watched, her face painted in hues of red as the robots attacked. Their streaks of high-energy light weren't much to look at, but they were remarkably accurate. Ark Base's war machines were incredible to watch.

Each laser burned at high temperatures, enough to burn holes in alloy armor. When they struck the creatures they racked across their liquid bodies, leaving gaping wounds. One could only suffer a couple shots before collapsing, dead.

A group of robots passed through the boundary to engage their foes. However, the moment they passed through they lost connection.

"Boss, look." Hellflower raised her hand. A small screen on the device projected an image - the robots that had flown beyond the boundary. A recording of figures behind the monsters was visible before the feed was cut. Gods, and leading them a figure wrapped in blinding light.

"That's the Abyssal God. It leads them personally." Selene identified their enemies. "We still don't know what it's capable of. Send the Eternals, we can't spare anyone dying."

At her order the Eternals division set out. These were beings created from Belial's blood and sweat over hundreds of years. Before their demise many used to be capable demonhunters. With considerable numbers, these undying warriors were not a force to be discounted.

Until the Black Heart of Belial was destroyed, these soldiers would fight.

Their first assault destroyed many of the silvery creatures. Selene's efforts would not eliminate them, but at least she was buying them time. If they kept this up they should be able to hold until Cloudhawk came back with reinforcements. That is, unless the gods unveiled some new way to torture them.

From the other side of the barrier, the gods saw that their prey were putting up a respectable defense. Rapid communication crackled through the divine matrix. The Abyssal God moved away from the others, extending its arms upward and pressing down.

Suddenly there was an intense pressure as the god's energy influenced gravity. A fist-side orb of darkness appeared. Space around it collapsed toward a hidden center. With the ministrations of the divine marshal it began to expand.

Moments later a pocket of moving darkness, several dozens of meters in diameter, floated up to the mass of creatures. It was a perfect sphere, unusual in the absolute black of its surface. However it wasn't black, but the total absence of light. It was a black hole.

Contrary to what one would think, though, while space rippled eerily around the orb it did not have an intense gravitational pull. Little by little, at the Abyssal God's direction, it moved forward like a ball of iron; slow but inevitable.

Once it reached the barrier, that's when the black hole's event horizon became active. Octopus monsters too near to it were sucked in. Even Greenland's rigid boundary bowed toward the orb. Selene and the humans watched their shield bulge outward. Cracks started to form at the edges and there was no more energy left to repair them, with the monsters still feeding hungrily.

"Fuck, they're going to break through!"

Hellflower frantically summoned the robots toward the inevitable breach. However a crushing field of gravity hung over the area, causing the robots to be ripped from the air. When they hit the ground they broke apart into piles of scrap.

Selene's face darkened as she wrapped her fingers around the hilt of Sublime Transcendence. "Fight!"