The blood-covered woman approached Brennus slowly. Clumsily. She did not seem to have much in the way of fine control, the way she moved her body.
Never moving (outwardly at least), Brennus tracked his eyes over the room, accessing the situation.
Panthera Avis was holding him down from behind, his claws clamped around his armor’s upper arms – he was strong, the claws had already deformed his suit. I just finished this version. Now I will need to repair it. I need more money.
Worst case, he would have to either join the Juniors or take money from Amy.
Neither of which really appealed to him.
Netsense was just crouching nearby, her limbs folded up around herself, making her look far smaller than she was. It did not look like she was really aware of the situation around herself.
Hastur was watching him, and though he could not tell by the heat readings, he could feel her glee at what was to come.
She did not seem to react to the plans forming in his mind, at all.
Might be she is not really a mind reader as such.
No answer from the others. Might be they had come to the same conclusion as he had.
It made no difference. He could either try to escape or fight them to the death. Either way, they were not getting him. She was not going to get him.
Mary was just a meter away, almost close enough. But she stopped and looked back at Hastur, her body posture betraying insecurity.
“Get over it, dummy! C’mon, rip the mask it off!” Hastur urged her on.
Get over it, huh? He looked down at her feet – the blood she was pouring off had not yet spread over to him. She can only walk on her own blood? No, then Hastur would not tell her to get over it… her power only works while she is standing on blood?
Not enough evidence, really, but certainly something to keep in mind.
She took a step over the pooling blood, staggering a little before enough blood flowed out of her… every part to cover the carpet on the floor.
One step. Short, insecure. Half a meter away. The blood was touching his knees now.
Just a little more.
Everyone else in the room, save for Panthera Avis, was standing in nearly half an inch of blood. Avis was still behind Brennus, and thus not yet surrounded by blood.
The bloody woman reached out and touched his helmet, the motion almost gentle.
His reaction was most definitely not gentle.
One of his latest additions to the armor had been a defense system against being physically grappled. It was plain and simple, and he had slapped himself on the head for not thinking earlier of it.
He ran a massive current through his entire armor, and thus through Avis and Mary… and everyone else in the room, using the blood he and Mary were standing (or, in his case, kneeling) on as a conductor.
Avis’ claws let go of him as he was bodily thrown back against the wall behind. The other three shook and dropped without a sound other than that of bodies hitting a floor covered in blood.
He gave them no chance to react. Jumping forward, he slid out the blade hidden in his armor’s wrist, pushing it into Mary’s left eye, and then her brain, flinching as the deformed upper arms of his suit bruised his arms badly.
Sorry, Mary. I wish I knew how to save you, but I cannot risk being taken out now.
With his other wristblade, he cut through her neck, beheading her and throwing the head away from the body.
Best to be sure.
Hastur screamed in outrage, her power easily returning control of her body to her. “Gethimgethimgethimgethim!!!”
With a single, violent leap, he flew across the room like a bullet, tackling Netsense with such force into the wall that they broke through into the next room.
Before he had time to analyze the thermal images he was getting, he stabbed a blade into her shattered ribcage, cutting through heart and lungs. Or at least where they should be – he had no idea whether or not her mutations had shifted her organs around.
Which was why he took off her head with his next attack, then forced a grenade down her neck, making a sickening noise along the way.
Whether or not she can actually read minds, Hastur obviously has a very powerful perception power. Probably what allowed Panthera Avis to teleport beyond his line of sight.
And even if not, Netsense was far too dangerous to leave to Hastur – she could use her powers offensively, too.
The grenade detonated less than a second after he pulled his arm out of her limp body. And it amply demonstrated the difference between setting explosives off in the open and setting them off within a fleshy, juicy body.
The charge he had built into the grenade was normally sufficient to blow out a reinforced door’s lock, or punch a hole in most armor. Localized damage.
He was splattered with blood and worse all over his front, as Netsense was spread across the entire room.
* * *
No matter what one does, unless they’re complete monsters or inhumans, having a human – even a twisted human – explode right in front of them, splattering them from head to toe and covering the room will stagger one.
If the room is already glowing orange from all the blood and there are countless… well, not corpses, but pieces of them, and all of them twisted… then it does not help. Even if one is fortunately unable to make out all the details due to thermal vision.
Brennus staggered, almost throwing up in his mask (he had built in a feature to take care of that if it happened, but still) and not moving for a few seconds.
Panthera Avis slammed into him as Hastur screamed in frustration.
The former villain, now an enslaved monster, must have weighed more than a ton by now – they both flew forward and Brennus slammed into the floor, creating cracks where their combined weight almost broke the floor.
“Hold him still! Rip his mask off, stupid!” screamed Hastur as she followed them into the room, her hood thrown back. Had Brennus not blocked his normal vision, he would have even more trouble now.
“It is a helmet, not a mask, stupid!” Brennus shouted back, annoyed.
As Avis reached for his helmet, Brennus once again electrocuted him, throwing him off for a moment. Ignoring the building pain in his arms, he whirled around and stabbed two of the faces within his open ribcage.
The others screamed so loudly they would have blown out his eardrums had he not included protection against such in his helmet.
It did not help much, though. Avis put his arms around Brennus and squeezed.
At first, little happened, but then the armor started to groan under the stress.
He never had this kind of superstrength. Just how much more powerful has he become!?
The armor groaned more, even as he started ramming his knee into Avis groin. The monstrous villain grunted in pain, but showed no further reaction, apart from continuing to crush Brennus.
“That’s it, wreck his armor and bring him to me! Good boy!” said Hastur, back to her sweetly cheerful mood. She was actually hopping up and down in place.
He could not see any colours, but he imagined her to look quite demented, her clothing mismatched, splattered with copious amounts of blood.
No time. Sixty percent energy left, got to make it count.
Expending as much as he could at a time, nine-point-fifty-three percent, he channeled the electricity through the blades still stuck inside Avis’ body.
Not his best idea. Avis convulsed, his arms closing even harder around Brennus’ chest. With a final groan, his chest armor cracked, and he could hear his arms break.
Another shock finally made Avis let go of him. Brennus slid down onto his knees as his enemy fell back.
He accessed his system diagnose – the chest part was mostly gone, the arms, even if his own arms were not broken, were largely destroyed and there was damage to the battery – it was steadily losing an additional amount of its charge.
I am going to lose this.
Using the controls in his boots and helmet, he forcefully – and under a lot of pain – cut into the legs of Avis. Not through them, because his bones were way too dense and blocked his swords.
I have to include the humming blade in my wristmounts in the next version. And more heavy firepower. A lot more.
Aye, mate. There ain’t such a thing as too much firepower. But there certainly is too little, and you have too little.
I propose finishing those remote matter detonation ray guns.
“Oh, shut up and surrender, you numbheads! Just look at my face and you can be happy and make yourself as much firepower as you want!” shouted the demented girl.
She can not read my thoughts, but hear our… communication? What the hell? You are just in my head, part of my mind, both of you… right?
No answer, and Hastur did not react, either.
Now I am getting really freaked out.
Avis screamed again through all of his faces – even the pierced ones, which were visibly, if slowly regenerating. He bent down to grab Brennus again, his claws opening once more, but he saw it coming and jumped backwards, again using his secondary controls.
Avis flickered forward, closing the distance and kicked him hard, right against the shattered breastplate.
He heard something break in his chest, along with the armor. One rib… two?
“Nathaniel, sweetie, don’t kill him, will-ya?”
Brennus slammed onto the floor, breathing hard – as much as his armor still allowed him to. It only got worse when Avis stepped on his chest, pinning him to the floor.
He choked, his vision blurring with tears of pain.
No time to mope. He had still some control over his arms, the armor had been built to function for as long as possible. It hurt, worse than he thought possible… but for some reason, the pain did not disable him.
He moved the arms, digging both blades into the deformed, oversized ankles of Panthera Avis, one from each side, one towards the heel and one towards the front, cutting tendons and muscles.
If he could not cut his bones, then he would cut in between them. Sever the connections.
Panthera did not even scream as his foot was severed from his leg at the ankle, but his many faces snarled in a way that matched Hastur’s own snarl.
Brennus punched his leg aside, parting it completely from the foot, then activated the grappling hooks he had built into the two boxes at his hips.
The thin, ultra-strong wires shot against the ceiling, attaching themsleves their by their ‘hooks’ (the same devices he used for his boots to stick to walls). With a flick of his pinky, he made them reel in – but not equally. The left one was reeled in faster than the right one, tipping him onto his side as he rose, throwing Panthera Avis off.
Hastur’s monster fell down, unstable now without his foot and Brennus took the chance to push his left wristblade into his groin, letting the beast’s own weight and his own upward momentum pull the blade up and from groin to neck, splitting him nearly in half.
With a twitch of his ringfinger and some (very, very painful) shoulder movements, Brennus turned around in the air and landed on his feet, seemingly secure. He was not, of course, but the upside of fullbody powerarmor was that he could easily hide that.
Then again, his armor was so obviously broken, if it was not for his cloak he would probably look like a cautionary tale against frontline gadgeteers.
Great. I am running off on tangents again.
His arms hurt abominably, he had trouble breathing, his head was swimming and his legs had no strength left. On top of that, he felt like throwing up, first the contents of his stomach, then the bowels as well, just to be sure he was empty.
I need to end this. Get away.
He looked at his fallen foe – who was rising again, his wounds slowly mending, his foot regrowing while the other one began to rot in high-speed.
You have got to be kidding me! What does it take to put you down!?
“You have got to be kidding me! What does it take to put you down!?” shrieked Hastur in outrage, her sugar-like behaviour once more discarded in the face of her anger.