Hope may require the ultimate sacrifice...
Gregory P. Wong
Chapter 8: Embers Rekindled
The energy building up in his body... what the hell was it?
It was hard to describe, really. It felt like... lightening was bouncing through his veins. As more and more Sraida charged and died by his cross-spear, the aliens seemed to be getting slower and slower.
What in the world!?
And then suddenly, it happened.
"Musou!" Nagamasa Azai breathed. "My God!"
The glow that had slowly been creeping up Yukimura's body exploded outward in a sheet of coherent energy, smacking into the Sraida and-as it should-only the Sraida. The insectoids in the immediate vicinity of the red-clad warrior washed away like cardboard before an honest-to-God blowtorch. Jesus, he had never seen a Musou attack this powerful!
And, better yet, it wasn't showing signs of slowing down.
Yukimura was, quite literally, a blur. Damn, he couldn't even make out Yukimura's weapon amid all the motion.
He ducked under a Sraida claw and, with a twist, opened the overgrown ant from hip to shoulder. Black muck and innards plopped out.
"Duck!" he heard his wife yell, and he did so, feeling something rush over his head.
He chanced a look, and saw the kendama crystal batter away a duo of Sraida.
"Thanks, honey!" he called.
"No problem!" Oichi replied.
He lashed out with the butt of his spear, stunning a group of Sraida barreling towards him. With a grunt, he reversed his grip and swept out their legs from under them. A whirl finished the whole bunch of them off.
And then something slammed into his back... hard. His spear flew from his grasp.
Luckily, he managed to twist around and grab the two reaching arms before they poked out his face. He hit the ground on his back, the Sraida on top.
Really, lucky break, that. By some fluke, this Sraida was missing its lower arms. It was going to be a bit easier.
Sure, a bit easier in the same way one hundred-thousand less than 400,000 was a little easier.
He had the claws arrested, but the thing kept trying to dig its mouth, tentacles and all, into his face.
"You ugly sonuva-" he spat, and kicked. The alien rolled to the right, and he was up in a flash. Before the monster could get back to its own feet, he crushed its throat with a boot. He dove at his spear and retrieved it.
God, even with Yukimura doing his Dragonball Z routine out there, it was simply hopeless. There were just /too damn many/!
Another tangle of four-armed creatures confronted him. He clenched his fists. Surrounded.
It was actually stupid in this situation, but he took a quick glance around. Nope, no help coming. He was the only non-Sraida thing in the immediate area. The glowing form of Yukimura was off about a hundred yards to his left. No help there.
The Sraida charged, and he moved his spear to intercept them.
"Well, at least I won't ever have to worry about those friggin' college tuitions again," he growled.
/It was impossible/! Yukimura thought. The mob of aliens were simply too many.
Not in his case, of course. As he whirled and attacked in his Musou form, the Sraida seemed to be moving through molasses. He was, literally, in no danger from them.
The same couldn't be said for everyone else. He was doing his best to keep them at bay, but there was too many of them. The Mindlancers, Legions, and Arbalests were far from the other warriors, but they seemed powerful enough to not need his help. He just concentrated on the fourteen other warriors.
He saw Nobunaga swarmed under by a gang of aliens, before they were tossed off by a shadowy shockwave from the Demon Lord's body. Nobunaga looked a bit bloody.
Understatement, of course.
It gave him an idea.
There was really nothing left for him to lose. Makie was gone, so what reason did he have to go on living? He had the power--it was most emphatically there, all right--and its strength raged through his body.
With a cry, he slammed his spear into the ground, burying it halfway into the sandy soil.
And then he concentrated his energy. He manipulated his power, moved different aspects of it from here to there, added more strength to different areas. He focused it between his two palms, and it formed as a foot-wide sun of crackling fire. He caressed it with his hands, forming it, shaping it. He poured /everything/, including his rapidly dwindling lifeforce, into the energy sphere.
It was actually taking his strength to keep it from expanding, now. It was almost ready.
He directed his mind to Makie once more. The beautiful young woman was never going to be a part of his life again. He wanted to feel her touch one last time, but it was a bygone wish.
Makie, I love you.
And then he released the energy in a ravening tsunami of force that would engulf the entire swarm.
The form of Yukimura was the nexus of a massive sphere of energy that washed over the land and into the heavens. It was howling with mind-numbing speed over the Sraida, and it rose into the sky, past even the few clouds. And it didn't show any signs of stopping, either. Faster than even light, it wouldn't stop until touched every living Sraida in the galaxy.
A light-year or so away, on a different world, a Gryth officer watched at the Sraida charged at his dwindling supply of troops. He growled a sad growl. It would be over soon. His wife would be safe though, with the time he and his forces had bought for the colonists.
And then, suddenly, a young soldier called into his comm set.
"Assault Commander!" cried the voice of a young female.
"You're not going to believe this...!"
"That's impossible!" Claw Feliki-Tarvo-Zin exclaimed. The images being fed to her holoscreen had to be impossible.
"Ma'am, I think it's completely possible. We have affirming reports from scattered units all over the battlefront," replied a minor-officer.
She swallowed her disbelief.
"Yes," she replied after a pause. "Yol, connect me to High Clawmaster--" she trailed off for a second. "Cancel that. Open up a Priority One communiquÃ© to the Emperor!"
Sergeant First Class Robert Flanning just couldn't believe his bad luck. It wasn't bad enough that the Sraida thought his galaxy was a nice place to throw a party at, but /nooooo/, the mother-buggering Sraida just had to be sooo frigging smart.
He and about seventy-five troop transports were moving in to support the charge spearheaded by the ancient-warrior people. But, guess what, about a thousand Sraida had tunneled under the armor column's path.
Now, it was just a goddamned melee. The Ranger he had been riding on had been directly on top of a trio of Bugs when they popped out, and it had turned over, depositing his butt on the floor along with the four other passengers.
And, yeah, they were all going to friggin' die.
And then... Boom! Something like an honest-to-God nuclear explosion washed over the area, covering everyone in fire. He was knocked to the ground, and he blacked out for a moment.
When he was all nice and conscious again, he noticed that the Sraida had picked that perfect moment to come back from la-la land, too. And, geez, he was unarmed. His sword had been ripped away by the blast of whatever-the-hell-it-was. And, of course, with the luck everyone person was feeling right now, the blast hadn't done a single damned thing to the Sraida except piss them off more.
Wait! The Ranger mounted a heavy M-20a 12.7mm autoblaster on the back on a coaxial mount. He could rip it off and use it as a really weird-shaped club. Not the thing he'd like, but it was all the chance he'd get since this whole world got flushed down the toilet.
He bounded over to the Ranger--damn, it was almost bent in frigging /two/!--and grasped his diasteel-shod fingers around the mount of the blaster.
He shifted his fingers for a better grip, and he felt his finger accidentally squeeze the spade-grip's trigger. The reliable autoblaster spat out a bolt of red energy.
Really, he shouldn't look, since it was drilled into everyone's head that modern weapons didn't mean spit to the Sraida, but he took a peek anyway.
So did every living organism in the immediate area.
Everyone-and every/thing/-was staring at a particularly large Sraida as it stared at the burnt edges to a fist-sized blaster wound.
It fell over, twitched once, and stopped moving.
What the fu--
"/WE HAVE FIRE RELEASE! WE HAVE FIRE RELEASE/!" he heard a captain scream through the comm. "/THEY WORK! MODERN WEAPONS WORK!/"
Maybe luck could change.
"Uh-oh," he whispered to the shocked aliens. They probably didn't hear him, but screw them. "It looks like you just got served."
He aimed the M-20a at the nearest group of Sraida and squeezed the firing stud.
"Infantry Suits, armor, and aerial elements have been mobilized!" boomed the voice of CAW-19999 Nineball over the contingent-wide comm. "All units, hunker down and prepare for artillery! All units, hold what you have! Heavy fire is /incoming/!"
"Time to get some of our own back, boys," General Adrian said as a grim smile crept up his face. "Give 'em hell, marines!"
The moment the shockwave from the glowing Yukimura had touched him, Bei had /felt it/. He felt Musou psionic energy course through his body. And he felt everyone else's energy reach peak levels.
And then, on some unconscious cue, he released the dam and felt the psionic power engulf him.
He saw the motionless body of Yukimura become the next target of the Sraida.
Not if he and everyone else had something to say about it.
His twin swords flashed in the noontime sun, lightening crackling back and forth between the blades.
He was vaguely aware of electricity arcing, fire raging, ice immobilizing, blast propelling, death pulverizing, emanating from the weapons of the other warriors as they thrashed the Sraida. He, and everyone else too, were literally untouchable by the aliens.
He charged at a group of insectoids who were moving far too slowly, and killed them with some skillful slashes.
And, just then, he heard explosions thunder some distance away. The UNT soldiers, back in their role as "modern" marines, were now sweeping the aliens away with the broom of modern technology.
But, damn, there were still plenty to go around. Yukimura had made a sacrifice to pull this off, and there was no way he was letting his body be desecrated.
She had been too late. Makie sank to her knees beside Yuki's still form, staring at the man she loved.
The man she had given up loving because she had been so goddamned /stupid/!
Now, it was too late. Yukimura was gone forever... and she had only herself to blame.
What happened? Her vision had just gone all cloudy. What-
Then she felt the water splash unto Yukimura's armor, past her hand.
Of course she was crying.
She wasn't used to this. She wasn't used to the rage warring with grief. It was, well, something new. She never really had something sufficiently traumatic in her life--save Lord Shingen getting assassinated--and, despite all the crap that occurred, she never really let herself become immersed in anger.
But, guess what? There was a first time for everything.
She drew out her daggers from her belt, and ignited her own Musou energies.
Her rage had a target.