The hecatoncheires let out another long, mournful wail, and Ryan subconsciously edged closer to Crystal. Not behind her, definitely not wanting to get behind her again… he glanced around at the crowd.
Logic would dictate the sight of an abomination against biology, physics, and several known religions (and at least two unknown cults) would have more people running in the kind of screaming terror that later on necessitates a change of undergarments. Apparently, however, the fight or flight instinct had a third partner in the modern age of camera phones – fight, flight or photograph. Most of the crowd was, distressingly, choosing the latter.
“Can’t be that bad, right?” Ryan half whispered to Crystal, watching Athena and Tyr get ready to square off against the monster. “You smote the one we faced earlier pretty quick.”
Crystal let out a choking sound that Ryan could only call a rage laugh. For the first time, he saw her face. If looks could kill, Moloch would have been completely removed from reality from the sheer force of Crystal’s glare. “Love, that was a half starved hecatoncheires, and we were in a realm where I was queen for a few thousand years. This is Earth, and that one is nice and healthy.”
Tyr and Athena didn’t wait for Moloch’s brute to make the first move. They charged in, each of them taking a different side in half arcs. The hecatoncheires’ hands moved, but it was different from what Ryan had seen before. The hands were all moving independently – not two giant masses, but swatting and grasping like a swarm of bees with fingers.
“We should…we should go.” Crystal’s voice still tight with anger. “This was the plan if we were losing, yeah? Get Moloch here, let him distract, we get out.”
“Right.” Neither of them moved as Tyr got swatted aside on the left, ramming headfirst into a stoplight post so hard that it was bent in half, and a dozen hands latched on to Athena on the right. They began to tug on her arms, and she started to scream in agony as it tried to tear her apart. But that wasn’t what they were focused on. Both of them watched as Moloch headed back into his ship, the hotel doors closing behind them.
If no one stopped it, that Hecatoncheires was going to go on a rampage after it killed Athena and Tyr. They would get better, but the random innocent people? Not so much. Crystal and Ryan didn’t need to share a look. She drew her sword, him his obsidian sphere, and they ran in.
They both began twisting equations as they ran. Ryan dropped the coefficient of friction of Athena’s skin to nearly 0, and the hands trying to tug her apart slipped off and went flying wide. Crystal did something far more complex than just changing an equation, and twisted the atomic number of the nitrogen in the air around the horrible lamprey head of the giant. Seven was changed to 19, and the nitrogen was changed to potassium. Before it could move far from the head, the temperature jumped up several hundred degrees and the potassium reacted with the oxygen, as potassium is prone to doing. All that science meant that Ryan learned how to create a fireball.
The sudden explosion was deafening, and the shockwave startled Tyr into consciousness, in defiance of what explosions typically do to states of awareness. Athena was looking at Ryan, her eyes narrowed. “Why did you help me?”
“Because giant monster! Rampage! Question later, we have to stop it!”
She gave a single curt node, then rolled away as the hecatoncheires slapped at the ground where she had been. She threw her sword at it, but instead of tumbling end over end, she changed the acceleration of the tip as it flew, and the sword punched through the giant at Mach 7. Glass shattered nearby from the sonic boom.
The hecatoncheires seemed to dislike being stabbed by a supersonic sword, but not terribly inconvenienced. Two of its free hands slapped over the entry and exit wound, stemming the tide of ichor flowing from the holes.
“Bast! We need your help!” Tyr shouted, and he did his own twisting, his hand pointed upwards as opposed to at their opponent. When no response came from above, he snarled and turned towards Crystal and Ryan. “If you be not villains, keep it busy, and jump away when I say!”
“Crystal?” Ryan asked.
“Roll with it!” She dashed in, and Ryan followed. Three on one, they were still getting beat. This monster was clearly annoyed by them, but they were wasps stinging it, and they could only keep stinging until they got swatted.
Fortunately, they could do more than swat. Ryan got slapped away like a naughty puppy with a horrible owner that shouldn’t be allowed near dogs, bouncing across the concrete and slamming into some poor bastard’s car. That would have been worse, but Tyr chose that exact second to shout “Jump!”
Crystal and Athena broke free as Tyr’s equations took effect. Fifty kilometers up, the atmosphere warped. A circle of darkness five kilometers wide formed as every single photon coming from the sun was shocked to find it had been squeezed into a point one meter across. Dusting themselves off in confusion, the photons then continued their journey to the Earth, but now packed together. The result? A beam of golden light shot from the center of the dark spot in the sky like it had been fired from an alien spaceship and for a few seconds, almost half a billion watts of solar energy found itself meeting the top of the hecatoncheires’ head.
It may have been an unholy monster, anathema to the normal laws of physics, but normal physics didn’t allow for that much sunlight to come into a single point under typical circumstances. Two cases of abnormal physics met, got confused, and decided that they should let plain old ordinary physics decide this.
Those physical laws looked at the situation and decided the hecatoncheires didn’t get to be anything anymore. As the hecatoncheires was vaporized, the beam cut a hole into the ground for a great deal further before the energy was expended.
Fortunately, Tyr had accounted for energy radiating outwards, and the four gods and dozens of stupidly watching onlookers were not fried alongside the giant. The final touch was a deafening clap of thunder as air rushed back into the column the photons had cleared.
As awed as he was by the spectacle, Ryan couldn’t help but wonder why Enki hadn’t rejoined the fight.
After a few more moments, someone in the crowd (Bob Robertson, a man who had come to this hotel in the hopes of finally catching his wife in the affair he was certain was going on, an affair that had been interrupted by Ryan flying through a wall) shouted “Woooooooohoooooo!” simultaneously starting a round of applause and shaking the four gods out of their stunned stupor.
Bast jumped out of the hotel finally, landing next to the hole Tyr had cut in the Earth. Shit, Ryan thought. Crystal and him were both drained. Tyr and Athena weren’t in great shape either, but Bast was in great shape, and she was grinning like the proverbial cat that had gotten that damn canary.
“Bast, wait,” Athena somehow managed to gasp in a monotone, even, “they tried to protect people – why would they do that if they were going to end the-”
Athena’s protestation was interrupted as Bast shot Tyr in the head. Her gun – which Ryan noted was made of some strange metal and design – tracked over and, before anyone could react, her next bullet punched through Crystal’s skull.
Ryan was still trying to stand, and screamed as Crystal died in front of him. Her body went limp, like invisible strings holding her up had been cut. The gun began to track over to Ryan, but he didn’t care. He was weak, he was helpless, he could barely rise to his feet, and the first friend he’d had in years was dead on the street in front of him.
While Ryan grieved and Bast got ready to shoot him in the head, Athena’s complete lack of emotion wasn’t phased by this betrayal. As soon as Bast had shot Tyr, she had motioned, and the sword she had thrown through the hecatoncheires earlier finally got back to her hand – passing through Bast’s elbow in the process, disarming her of both armament and arm.
“Eschaton!” She shouted with that weird calmness. “We must go! She’ll recover quickly!”
Athena was moving. She grabbed Crystal’s corpse as she ran, throwing it over her shoulder. “Now, Eschaton. Live to fight another day.”
Hating himself but knowing she was right – Bast’s arm was already reforming bone and muscle – Ryan pulled himself to his feet and, giving his nanoverse a squeeze for the energy, ran after Athena.