The World That Ends in Fire – Chapter 27


Twenty giant alien monsters against one Earthly titan were not fair odds, and the alien monsters knew it. That’s why they fled. Or at least that’s why they fled after the mile high Dragon that faced them opened its maw and incinerated two of them in a single breath.

Flight was not, however, an option the dragon intended to allow them. Blue flames shot out to scour the nearest of the alien monsters. Hanna watched as the alien’s rocky hide turned the flames away. It was shaped something like an armadillo crafted from basalt, if armadillo’s also had a dozen razor sharp hooks on the ends of long tentacles.

The alien monster lumbered forward, pushing against the pressure of the flames from Seiryu, the Earthy dragon monster, until it looked to Hanna like it was going to come into range to use its claws on Tokyo’s sole defender.

Two things were wrong with Hanna’s view of what was happening though. First, she missed how much heat was being transferred to the Megadillo, a fact that became apparent when its defenses took on a white hot glow and the giant creature exploded.

The other misperception on Hanna’s part was that Seiryu was alone.

From the west an equally giant beast with a feline aspect confronted the fleeing alien monsters. The first of the invaders to fall under its claws was a something that looked like an enormous beetle with an upside down octopus cojoined to its back. The invader had mandibles and spiked limbs and threw bolts of lightning from its eyes and legs. Those might have saved it, if the Earthly tiger monster hadn’t dodge each attack with a speed even a mundane tiger couldn’t have matched.

To the south, the fleeing invaders fared no better against the Firebird that swooped down from the sun to bar their path, and to the north, the indestructible shell of a giant tortoise turned aside every blow the invaders threw at it.

“They’ve got them contained!” Hanna said. “We did it!”

“Yeah, there’s just one problem with that,” Kalia said. “We’ve arranged for the biggest battle ever fought on Earth and we apparently forgot to specify that we wanted our front row seating to be on the outside of the boxing arena.”

“We have a bigger problem,” Simon said. “The air’s still sparkling when I look at it in Exotic-o-vision.”

“What does that mean?” Laura asked.

“There!” Kimberly said, pointing to a spark of light that emerged from ground of the Tokyo Effect Zone. “There’s more coming through!”

The spark of light was tiny by comparison to the titans who were battling around them, and it swiftly resolved into a creature that was tiny as well. Only human scale, though clearly not human with it’s shell and claws and and lack of visible eyes.

“We’re getting mini-monsters now,” Kimberly said. “That’s a…thing I guess.”

“That could be very bad actually,” Kalia said. “If they’re as difficult to damage as the big ones are, they could do a lot of damage that the Armed Forces can’t stop and that the giant monsters don’t notice.”

“That’s not the real problem,” Simon said.

“Oh, look, he didn’t come alone,” Hanna said as hundreds more sparks of light rose from the Tokyo Effect Zone and coalesced into similar warrior shapes.

“Any chance we can just talk to them?” Kimberly asked.

The alien warriors took flight, grouping together in bands and shooting in different directions, one of which included a group which sped towards Hanna’s team and began hurling what looked liked balls of shaped lightning at them.

“Looks like talking’s not what they have in mind,” Simon said as he opened up on the incoming creatures with his assault rifle. It was a valid tactic to experiment with, but the purely terrestrial attacks had only a marginal effect on aliens.

“They’re bulletproof!” Kimberly said, dodging out of the path of a lightning ball.

“No!” Kalia said. “They’re bullet resistant! They’re noticing the hits and moving away from them! These guys can be affected by our regular forces!”

“That’s really good,” Laura said, “Because I’m getting reports that we have eight Effect Zones this time and these little guys, or things like them, are showing up in all of them.”

“What do we do?” Hanna asked. In theory she was supposed to be leading the team, but she hadn’t been in a fight since second grade and that had ended after two slaps and a push.

“You get somewhere safe,” Kalia said. “Garcia and I have this.”

“Heh, yeah, you take the fifty on the left and I’ll take the fifty on the right?” Simon asked, not sounding perfectly confident in his ability to deliver on that particular mission objective.

“Pff, you’re only good for fifty?” Kalia said as the alien warriors neared melee range. “Might as well get a desk job now then.”

She rolled backwards as three of the aliens dove down to where she had been standing. Hanna had watched Kalia working through a series of martial arts katas while they were on the USS Nimitz. She’d wondered about the odd slowness with which Kalia had performed the intricate moves, especially since her form didn’t look to be anything like Tai’Chi.

Watching Kalia then, Hanna had been intrigued to see the fluidity and focus her new friend brought to what looked like simple movements. Watching Kalia lay into the alien warriors that swarmed at them, Hanna picked up glimpses of a few of the moves she’d seen in slow motion before. In actual battle though the blows came blindingly fast and hit with enough force to produce thunder cracks each time they connected. On the Nimitz, she’d been practicing her balance and the effect of committing to an attack when she used her super strength. On the field in Tokyo, she was putting the adjustments she’d worked out into actionn.

Simon’s fighting style was simpler than Kalia’s but no less effective. He’d trained as a boxer so when he ran out of bullets he adopted the classic, fists up, boxing stance. It didn’t look at dynamic as the aerial kicks Kalia was decimating the opposition with but his experience allowed him to strike with speed and precision while ducking and weaving away from the attacks thrown by the crowd of aliens that was accumulating in front of them.

“They’re good,” Kimberly said, a note of amazement in her voice as she watched Simon score an uppercut on one of the aliens then sent it rocketing a hundred yards backwards.

“They need us though,” Laura said. “There’s just too many of the bugmen!”

“Do either of you know how to fight?” Hanna asked.

“I took kickboxing for a semester in college,” Kimberly said. “But I sucked at it.”

“I have four brothers, but I’ve never had any real training,” Laura said.

“What we need is an orbital death laser,” Kimberly said. “I could work out the firing arc for one of those.”

Something about the word ‘laser’ tickled Hanna’s memory.

“Wait, Laura, didn’t you say that when we were draining power out of the Manila dome we were funneling it down like a laser?” Hanna asked.

“Yeah, sort of,” Laura said. “It was a coherent beam but it spiraled out. Like a laser drill or something.”

“So most of what we were doing was manipulating energy then. It felt like when we were taking this dome apart that I could direct the energy that was pouring through me, was it like that for you two?” Hanna asked.

“Yeah, it was like my breathing was a muscle that pulled the energy into me and pushed it out,” Kimberly said.,

“Same here,” Laura said. “What are you thinking?”

“If we can send energy down into the Earth, do you think we could pull any up?” Hanna asked.

“Probably not,” Kimberly said. “Lightning flows to ground, not away from it, but this isn’t actually lightning so we won’t know till we try.”

“I’m game to give it a shot,” Laura said. “What do we do?”

“Give me one of your hands, each of you,” Hanna said. “I can kind of feel the energy beneath us. Can you?”

“Yeah, I think with all the fighting, the energy the monsters are throwing around here has raised the ‘exotic power water table’ so to speak,” Kimberly said.

“I can feel it too. It’s like we’re submerged in it,” Laura said.

“We might be,” Hanna said. “See if you can draw it in and feed it to me.”

Hanna felt an immediately buzzing start to form in her chest. With each breath it grew more intense until she could only barely hold it in.

“Kalia! Down!” she called out and let the uncontrollable energy pour out of her.

Beams of light burst from her eyes, widening as they traveled. The beams just missed Kalia as she rolled away from her attackers. The attackers weren’t as fortunate. The “lasers” didn’t burn the alien warriors, they unraveled the bugmen on a structural level.

One moment twelve bugmen were attacking Kalia, the next they were crumbling into pieces and the next they were dust blowing in the wind.

Hanna could barely believe her haphazard plan had worked but the truly unbelievable part was that she didn’t feel drained by it at all. The energy buzz in chest was continuing to spread the more Kimberly and Laura filled her up.

“Simon! On your left!” Hanna said and fired again.

Simon dodged right and evaded the annihilation beams by a wide margin. Some of the enemies he was fighting managed to do the same but many didn’t even see the attack coming.

“I’m pulling in more energy than I can give to you,” Kimberly said.

“Try attacking too then,” Hanna said.

Together the three of them began cutting a swath of destruction through the battlefield. Kalia and Simon walked at their flanks and kept any of the alien warriors to approaching close enough to melee the Annihilation Trio, while Hanna, Kimberly and Laura seared enemy after enemy into expanding clouds of hot particles.

The energy beams they tossed out got stronger and more accurate as they strode through the battle field but even at their best, they discovered that they couldn’t do more than mildly annoy the giant monsters. Despite that though, the battle swiftly turned in the favor of the Earth forces. The only setback was that with over a dozen enemy giant monsters to fight, several aliens managed to slip away while their compatriots kept Japan’s defenders busy.

Seiryu and the other guardian beasts gave chase to their prey but it left Hanna with a dilemma as the last of the bugmen fell.

“The Tokyo anchor is collapsing,” she said.

“But none of the monsters are here to ride it back to the Lightning Planet,” Kimberly said.

“I can see the anchor ropes,” Kalia said. “I can feel them. They’re drawing from the same energy we’ve been throwing around.”

“Can we sever the other part of the Anchor from the ground here?” Laura asked.

“I don’t think so,” Hanna said. “If that was possible, I think the Phoenix and the Kraken would have done that.”

“Then we have a problem,” Laura said. “I’m hearing that the other Effect Zones were wins for the Earth Forces but it was costly. We lost a lot of friendly monsters and our forces took some serious damage.”

“This one was eight Effect Zones, right?” Kimberly asked.

“Yeah. It was supposed to be five to eight, and it looks like we came up on the high end of things,” Laura said.

‘The next one’s going to be worse then, if the pattern holds,” Kimberly said.

“I think there’s only one choice here then,” Kalia said. “It’s been nice working with you folks. Hanna, I wish we had that chance to skydiving again.”

“What are you saying?” Hanna asked.

“If the big guys can’t make it to the Lightning Planet, then someone has to go in their place and that someone is going to be me,” Kalia said.

“No,” Hanna said.

“You can’t be sentimental here,” Kalia said. “Someone has to go.”

“Not someone,” Hanna said. “Someones. I’m going with you. We have no idea what it will take to break the anchor over there, and I want to take you up on that skydiving offer still.”

“This is almost certainly a one way trip,” Kalia said. “None of the giant monsters that left have come back from it.”

“That’s a problem for Future-Hanna to work out,” Hanna said. “Future-Hanna who may not exist if this problem isn’t fixed now.”

“It’s stupid for you to throw your life away though,” Kalia said. “Let me do this. It’s what I trained for, it’s what I signed up for.”

“I’m not throwing my life away,” Hanna said. “But this is our one big chance. If the other Effect Zones were prevented then this must be the last anchor line left to connect the Lightning Planet and Earth. And the Lightning Planet is on an outbound trajectory now. If we can snap the anchor, before it reaches the end of its tether, we can send it shooting harmlessly off into space.”

“I thought it was orbiting the Earth?” Kalia asked.

“So did we but the numbers just didn’t work out for it’s speed and vectors,” Hanna said. “The anchor ropes change all of the equations though. Without them in place, the Lightning Planet is moving much too fast stay in Earth orbit.”

“We need to do this,” Simon said.

“Yeah, all of us I think,” Kimberly said.

“I’m not found of one way trips but I can’t think of a better reason to make one,” Laura said.

“Let’s go save the world then!” Hanna said.