If Enki had hoped his little speech and pointing out the odds would frighten Ryan, he had another thing coming. Oh, sure, it terrified Ryan to his core, which wasn’t the same as frightened. It’s okay, Ryan, he reminded himself, doing his best to not let the panic show. Instead, he made a show of shrugging, and looking at Gail as Tyr emerged.
“Seems a bit less heroic when he’s shouting out obscenities, doesn’t he?”
“Heh.” That, at least, got a chuckle of Enki. Not quite the reaction Ryan was hoping for. “What’s it you all say? The devil has power to take a pleasing fucking shape? He’s fucking playing you all.”
Athena sighed and rolled her eyes “Enki, this a waste of time. We have the Eschaton here, can we just end him already?” Her voice had all the emotion of her eyes. “Before he ends the world?”
Bast nodded in agreement, and Tyr…struck a pose. Hands on hips, chest jutting out. Like some kind of nineteen-forties superhero. It was so ridiculous that Crystal started to giggle, which drew Enki’s attention to her. “You think something’s funny, you fucking evil bitch? You think the end of the world is a fucking joke?”
Crystal chortled for another couple moments. “No…no I swear, I’m not laughing at the end of the,” and the laughter overtook her again for a moment, “end of the world. I swear. I’m laughing at you all…oh damn it all,” and she doubled over with laughter fully.
Enki’s face was twisting in a scowl, and in his case, that was more literal. His carefully constructed heroic visage was fading back into his more familiar paleolithic features, eyes shrinking into tiny little beads of spite. “I’m going to fucking rip your head off.”
“To save the world,” Tyr interjected.
“Fucking right, to save the world.” Enki glanced at Bast, then at Gail, who had stayed silent, and the cameramen, who were still broadcasting to the world. Ryan could see Enki’s brain churning, rusty gears clunking into place with metallic clanks. “Bast, you know why you’re here. Keep the fu-,” he caught himself, “f…fragile humans safe.”
Ryan let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. If Enki had been willing to throw aside his pretense, Ryan and Crystal would have had terrible odds, and would have had to protect the innocent people they had dragged into this too. Entire plan had hinged on that point, on Enki’s ego – which Crystal had said “was like betting on the sun coming up, love. Not a sure-fire thing, but you’re pretty unlikely to be wrong, yeah?”
Now if only we can pull off the rest of this, we might have – fist. Granted, the word Ryan had been about to think hadn’t been ‘fist,’ but when a fist as large as Enki’s filled your field of vision it also tended to dominate your thoughts.
And then said fist fully occupied Ryan’s mind and face by sending lances of pain through his nose and face. The blow picked him up out of the chair, and sent him crashing through the wall and into the adjacent room. A woman screamed, throwing a sheet around herself as she hopped off some man.
For some reason Ryan’s divine senses decided to note atoms of gold encircling one of her fingers, but none on any of the man’s. Before he could fully contemplate why his divine senses decided to inform him of some random woman’s infidelity, he impacted the opposite wall and passed through that one too.
Enki followed, blocking Ryan’s view of Crystals fight with Tyr and Athena. A small part of Ryan’s brain tried to remind him of the plan, but the majority of it was focused on the fact that Enki was bringing a foot down on Ryan’s gut.
The blow punched Ryan through the floor, and then the one below that, and then a third. “I’m going to fucking feed you your own fucking entrails, you little fuck! Enki was coming down the hole after him.
Ryan threw out his hand, and grabbed the equation for gravity, slapping a minus sign in front of the part representing Enki’s mass. Enki’s downward progress slowed, finally coming to stop for a moment inches from impacting Ryan. They were almost face to face, and Ryan got to enjoy the look of realization grow in Enki’s beady eyes.
“Oh, fuck you,” Enki nearly whispered as gravity began to reverse, and then he went rocketing away as Ryan quickly slapped a 3 onto Enki’s mass.
“Antigravity cubed, bitch,” he said to the retreating form. He could still hear the sounds of fighting above and shook his head to clear it. Crystal needed his help.
It took a few quick leaps to carry him up between floors. At the top was a gaping hole where Enki had punched through the ceiling, and Ryan knew it was too much to hope for that he’d keep sailing all the way to space. He raced past the naked woman and man – who were midway through rushing out of the room in their completely undressed state – and to where the battle raged.
Crystal was showing the same graceful dance she had against the Hecatoncheires, flitting between their blades. Athena’s came at her low as Ryan approached, and Tyr’s was moving in a high arc, but she jumped off the ground and laid flat, passing between them. Her blade snuck like a snake to nick Tyr’s arm.
But she was also bleeding from a dozen small cuts herself, and Athena and Tyr only had five total between them. Hundreds of millennia of experience, it seemed, only counted for so much.
Ryan rushed in, trying the trick Crystal had taught him while they were waiting, and drew a sword out of thin air.
Only it wasn’t a sword. It looked like a flat wooden club, almost a thin paddle, with blades of obsidian stuck into its side. Apparently, when gods pulled something out of nothing, they were actually pulling the best version of that thing out of their own nanoverse. Unfortunately, none of the civilizations in Ryan’s had progressed to the point where they had created fancy things like “metal,” yet, and he was instead using a macuahuitl. At least, that’s what Crystal called it.
Ryan really wanted to know more about his nanoverse and how it worked, was getting tired of being told to “roll with it.” Unfortunately, time just didn’t permit that. It did, however, permit bringing down the primitive weapon towards Tyr’s back.
A small part of Ryan noted that Bast was watching, and had kept her mouth shut, giving him a chance to completely get the drop on her ally. Say what you will about obsidian as an alternative to metal, but it was razor sharp. Tyr howled and whirled around, but instead of striking at that sword, he curled his fingers.
Shit. He could see, though not with enough time to react, Tyr selectively change the coefficient of friction of Ryan’s skin and, simultaneously, the density of air.
Those two factors new values caused Ryan to burst into flame. With no other option, Ryan dove out the window, but as Ryan had hoped, Tyr leapt out after him.
Hardened steel met solid wood a couple times in the air, and then they impacted the ground. Tyr was on top, and Ryan for the third time in under a minute found himself making an impression on an extremely solid object – the ground, in this case. Concrete cracked in a spiderweb around their impact.
He was able to manipulate the friction back to normal as they fell, though, and the flames on his body went out.
Tyr stepped back, giving Ryan a chance to stand up as opposed to the relentless assault Enki had dished out. Thankfully, this gave people on the ground time to scatter some. Unfortunately, the people on the ground were…people, and only backed up far enough where they felt safe.
Ryan realized how the two of them looked. Tyr was still spotless, his hair blond and his smile gleaming, his sword shimmering in the sun, while Ryan had aching, blackened flesh that still smoldered in places and a primitive weapon with black glass and skulls.
It looked, to the people surrounding them and to the camera phones that were rapidly coming out of pockets, like an angel fighting a demon. Exactly what Tyr wanted.
Above them, a window shattered, and Crystal and Athena repeated Ryan and Tyr’s descent – with Team ‘End the World’ getting similar results this time around. Crystal got buried in the concrete as well, but Athena backed off not because of some sense of honor like Tyr, but because Crystal had managed to keep her sword up during the fall.
“It’s over, you foul abominations!” Tyr shouted as Athena stepped next to him. “Your plan to destroy the world ends here, once our leader returns from whatever you did to him!”
“Seriously?” Crystal spoke up here, giving Ryan time to catch his breath and push away the pains of his burns. “What kind of wanker talks like that?”
The ghost of a specter of a smile crossed even Athena’s eyes with that. Tyr scowled. “Fine. You’re both badly hurt. Surrender now and we’ll show you mercy.”
“Any time now!” Ryan said, his voice as loud as he could make it through the pain. “Can we hurry it up?”
“Hurry it up? So you wish to surrender?” Tyr and Athena shared a confused glance.
“I wasn’t…ah, damn, that hurts…I wasn’t talking to you.”
Athena whirled around while Tyr kept his blade pointed at Crystal and Ryan. The door to the front of the hotel opened, and out walked an older, balding man, with a cane and a suit. “Terribly sorry about the delay,” he said, “Horrible traffic around the Void Nebula, you know how it is.”
“Moloch,” Athena hissed. That one word carried more actual emotion than every earlier statement combined. “So you’re the backup.”
Moloch smiled. His mouth was a rotten graveyard overgrown with black moss and yellow, crooked headstones. “No, my dear. You know I detest physical confrontation, or utilizing my divine powers in so crass a matter.” His voice was thin and airy, like the breeze through a mausoleum. From the doorway behind Moloch came a high, plaintive wail, the inhuman agony that Crystal and Ryan had heard on Cipher Nullity. Moloch’s rotting grin widened with Ryan’s eyes. What is he doing? What the hell is he doing? This isn’t what we talked about.
Hands began to emerge from the doorway, pitch black hands that did not attach to any arms. The Hecatoncheires, almost twice the size of the one they had encountered before, pulled itself slowly through the narrow doorway. “That, my dear, is the backup.”