Bast leapt across the distance she’d kicked Ryan, landing at the base of the car. With a quick twist, she flipped the car, sending Ryan tumbling through the pouring rain and landing hard on the wet grass outside of a home. He rolled aside just as the car impacted the spot, he’d been occupying with a wet squelch that was accompanied by the sound of tearing metal.
Bast made a ‘tisk’ sound between her lips. “All this struggling, and for what? To get you a chance at a cheap shot?” Her lips curled into a malicious grin. “All that, and in the end…it failed. You have failed, Eschaton. Just give up?”
Ryan pushed himself up just to his hands and knees. “You honestly think I’m going to…give up?”
“Of course,” Bast said, raising an eyebrow. “Why don’t you just acknowledge you are beaten and surrender.”
“I will never, ever surrender to you, Bast.” Ryan managed to spit out. Blood was running from the corner of his mouth. He thought he had at least one broken rib, possibly more. That last blow had nearly been enough to turn his chest concave, it was amazing he was still standing. She wants me alive. That’s the only reason I can do this.
Bast sighed. “Not particularly, but I’m certain you’re going to want to tell me at great length anyway. You know, this really gets much easier once you stop fighting back.”
Ryan took a deep, painful breath, and lightning cracked down from the sky. Not summoned by either deity, just a natural side effect of the storm Ryan had summoned. It illuminated the entire street as it hit the roof of a diner, and in the illumination, Ryan saw exactly what he was looking for.
Bast licked her lips. Not in a taunting way, but a reflexive gesture. The kind of thing humans did when they were thirsty enough their lips were going dry.
Ryan gritted his teeth against the pain, shoving his hands onto the wet mud beneath him. Thunder rumbled in the clouds above, the storm Ryan had set in motion finally getting ready to unleash its torrent. Slowly, pain lancing through every motion, Ryan forced himself to his feet. “You think I’m going to stop fighting you?” Ryan asked, rising to stare directly at Bast.
Bast rolled her eyes. “I just said that I do. Did I rupture your eardrums? Or did I just knock the sense out of you?”
Every breath Ryan drew felt like his chest was under tons of pressure. The need for Breath was an intense, sharp thing, gnawing at his lungs. He was gasping between his broken ribs, but Bast…Bast was thirsty. She’d burned through a great deal of her divine power.
Ryan had yet to throw a twist of reality in the fight. He threw out his hands and grabbed onto the equations in the storm. “You betrayed Tyr and Athena!” Ryan screamed. He threw his hands together, pulling the equations along with him.
Bast’s eyes narrowed, and she pointed the gun at his leg. “What are you doing?” she demanded.
Before she could pull the trigger, a sound began to fill the empty air. A sound like two trains rushing towards them from the air. Bast turned her eyes upwards just in time to see the twin funnel clouds Ryan had pulled from the sky. “You killed Crystal in front of my eyes!” Ryan shouted.
“What?” Bast said, her voice dripping with disbelief, as the tornadoes closed in around her. Ryan was already working the equations, gritting his teeth against the pain, ready for the next assault. Bast held out against the storm. While Ryan couldn’t read the twists to reality she was making, it was clear she was starting to buckle against the forced Ryan was unleashing.
Then Bast came flying out of the funnel clouds, her hair whipped around her face, a khopesh gleaming in her hand. She was slicing towards Ryan’s arm, a blow that could have severed the limb clean from his body.
“You unleashed monsters on this town!” Ryan shouted, clenching his fist as the next twist to reality he’d woven crashed into place. Spines of solid stone began to erupt out of the ground around Bast, one impaling her leg, another slamming through her hand.
“What!?” Bast screamed, this time pain and rage mingling with the confusion. She struggled against the stones, and they shattered under her hands, but they’d slowed her enough.
“You killed these people to get my attention!” Ryan bellowed, and he raised his hand up and brought it down in a sweeping gesture. An arc of lightning leapt from the clouds above, piercing Bast before she could fully break free of the stone spines.
It struck her with a blinding force, an electrical bolt from a storm Ryan had created. Bast’s muscles seized up from the onslaught, and she stumbled forward.
“What…is…happening?” Bast asked, and now it was her turn to grit her teeth against the pain, her turn to look up at Ryan with a mixture of confusion and fear and hatred. The emotions warred on her face, dancing about, and Ryan felt immense satisfaction knowing she had no idea what was about to happen.
“And most importantly!” Ryan said, raising his hands towards the sky. The equations he’d woven at the beginning of the battle, the ones that had needed the cloud cover to hide their true purpose, fell into place.
The thunder rumbled one last time, and then the clouds were blown apart as a beam of sunlight, all the sun that was coming through the sky for over ten kilometers, streaked from the heavens. It had just been dawn when the battle had started, but it had been building for the entire fight, several seconds worth of solar energy gathered into a single beam.
Ryan didn’t focus the beam on Bast directly. Instead, in came down on top of him, and when it reached his fingers the sunlight began to pool between his hands. A sphere of light, a miniature star of his very own, began to form in Ryan’s hands. “I’m going to fight you because it’s the only good thing I can still do!”
Bast’s eyes were wide and twitching with disbelief. “What. Is. Happening?” she asked again, struggling with each and every word.
“You wanted my surrender, Bast?” Ryan said, his own rage, and his pain, and his fear whipping together to make his voice raw. “Then it’s time to see if you can earn it!”
And with that, Ryan threw the star of condensed sunlight at Bast.
It streaked across the battlefield, warping from a sphere of energy into a beam that had the raw power of a solar flare condensed into a point only a foot wide. Nearby cars exploded from its passing as it tore across the street, heating the gasoline in their tanks in an instant. The rain turned to steam, a sudden plume rising and then falling back to earth. Ryan couldn’t see what happened to Bast as the light engulfed her. He could see what happened to the light on the other side, though.
Dianmu had, throughout the course of her fight with the cadiophages, been keeping a careful eye on Ryan, and maneuvering the battle as needed. Ryan’s screaming had alerted her that it was about to happen.
When he threw his attack, Dianmu had dove to the ground. The beam hit the gravitational lenses she had woven into the air and fractured, lancing outward in dozens of individual beams.
Each one was aimed at a Cadiophages. They had only moments to look surprised before the fractured beams of raw light struck them and turned them into clouds of ash.
A clap of thunder rocked the air as air rushed back in to fill the channel Ryan had cut with sunlight.