AN: The muse is already eyeing other projects. Gotta finish this off fast or it could be 2018 before I can complete this story!
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
The battle at the Mass Relay, near Pluto
A creeping tide of monsters spun out of the astral Citadel, jutting claws and electronic chitin reaching out towards human ships.
Space twisted and suddenly they were amid the human fleet.
Bulbous green spindled sacks spray bilious plasma in uneven gouts. Boring teeth-spikes shoot out like missiles. Drilling into targets, seeking flesh through armored shells. Four armed monstrosities flaked off, bursting through corridors, screaming as they killed; killed, killed.
Flying sacks of pus and acid, suicide against shields. Flapping annelids wheeled across space in prodigious numbers, soaking anti-fighter fire with their regenerating carapaces. Glaive-like wurms convulsed out, splashing multiple times as they explosively degraded.
Cool light pours from Luna, filling humanity with furious determination, and Reapers with unthinking rage.
Werewolves in gleaming power armor appear everywhere, wielding shining silver anti-matter hammers and lightning wreathed gravity shields.
Vampired Reapers turn against their brethren in a fury, hungry for the flesh and electric blood of their living kine.
Virtual Reapers fizzle into existence, blurring images blanketing human targeting systems with worthless targets.
Humanity deploys lumbering tank-walkers thousands of miles high, Personal Ascension suits, portable continent busters. Red golems formed of Martian stone and hate grapple with scythe armed bio-Reapers throughout the human fleets.
As monstrous Reapers pour out of the spiritual Citadel and engage the Alliance fleet, the Mass Relay drifting around Pluto twitched. Harbinger gestured, and the Relay drifted to him. It twisted and rotated, changing and transforming, pointing towards the chantry of Mus. It spun up, and kept churning. A line of Reapers formed, flying towards the supercharged Mass Relay.
Firing the now-galactic rail gun, a Reaper impacted into Mus at ten thousand times the speed of light.
Eldritch fire pinwheeling for a moment before snuffing out.
Echoes of existence quivering into desolation.
Humanity returned fire, Infinite Railgun trillion degree fire splashing uselessly against the molecularly quantum-locked Relay.
In response, Harbinger turned the Relay-gun towards earth.
As it fired, Doissetep flashed in front of it, and the beam of destruction bent a fraction of a degree on Doissetep's ancient shields before Doissetep crumpled and vaporized; instead of coring the planet it dashes off earth's atmosphere, setting it afire.
The shock-wave of the near miss crashes across the planet. Stone liquefies. Air shatters. The sheer force of the shot rips off thousands of miles of topsoil. Cities are ejected into space.
Harbinger charges the Relay-cannon again but the human's Infinite Railgun fires at the same time, absorbing the incandescent beam into its 0-dimensional point.
Again Harbinger aims at earth, but the human superweapon blocks each shot.
He gestures, the Relay quivers. He turns to the human defenders. Millions of occuli spray out at the human ships, swathes of unstoppable destruction.
Tzimisce unfolds into space, coiling tentacles eclipsing the stars. Psychic weeping and screams echo through the Reapers as their entire left flank tumble into his infinite maw.
Still the Reapers come.
Thousands of chained and enslaved pantheons coat Reapers in shimmering shields of omni-aegis. Their magnetohydrodynamic blasts coruscate with Prime, piercing human wards and shields.
Doissetep reforms above Neptune, it's glacis shaped into a snarling dragon's head. A deep thrum echoes through the gas giant. Across a thousand thousand kilometers, orange flames spray through space, setting Reapers alight with soul fire from the interplanetary flame thrower. The flames harmlessly pass the human ranks and stick to the Reapers, burning away protections and charms in dancing flare of Prime-fires of helium and hydrogen.
Still the Reapers come.
A vast Symbol of alchemy covers the heavens, separating hydrogen and oxygen. Everything organic not behind a Paradigm shield or in a horizon realm messily deceases.
A voice echoed in every human's mind. This is Autochthonia Primus. Brace for reality frission. Full power to the noodle cannons!
Fingers of black hole gravity pulse through space, spaghetting anything with mass.
Harbinger possesses every asteroid in the Kuiper belt and sends them careening sunwards in a system wide implosion.
Circuits of compressed time thousands of miles across ignite across Saturn. B2 arrays; Time magic taken to the ultimate extreme. Portals reaching back to the first moment; bringing the infinite energy of the Big Bang forward in a rippling wave of creation and destruction.
Reapers are ripped away, leaving orphaned shadows.
Still the Reapers come.
Millions of Reapers self-immolate, the burning pattern of their shredding quintessence forms a vast seal, locking Life for millions of miles. Nothing living can survive in its presence.
Grave fingers rip through empty space, and the blacked husk of Mus claws its way back from death. On its desiccated bulk are two twisting ghostly cities; Stygia and Enoch. An onyx spike of a tower lifts high over Mus, and within, a shadowy figure lifts his dread scythe.
The dead and the undead's pulsing death aura darken nearby Reapers, stilling their artificial life and setting their corpses adrift.
Harbinger gestures, and grublike Reapers curl, becoming pustule cocoons. They burst, and half-ghost Reaper centipedes crawl out endlessly. They unfurl their skeletal wings, and swoop towards the wraiths ravaging their brethren.
Pluto smashes the Relay. Even its quantum locked structure melts against the essence of Entropy.
Nephandi worms twist through drifting wreckage, a vast spiral chewing through Reaper souls. Vast floating yellow spheres covered in reptilian scales and pulsing veins bubble through reality; the Zigg'raugglurr allies of the Nephandi from beyond dimensions.
Still the Reapers come.
A multitude of Reapers fuse together, forming a vast superstructure. Harbinger floats into the center, and seizes control of the super-Reaper.
The eldest grandson of God steps through space. The defenses around the Reaper anti-Life seal immediately attack, but a symbol on his brow lights up and the defenses are reflected back against themselves seven-fold. Another step, and he is upon the vast sigil.
From his belt he lifts a simple flaked obsidian hand axe. The first human foci; the tool used by man to impose will on the natural order.
The eldest of vampires kills the Reaper working as easily as he once killed his brother.
Still the Reapers come.
A ghastly fist made of black holes punches Autochthonia. The Shenti of stasis reels, cracked and dented. Once, twice, Harbinger's Hand of Manos crashes into the chrome facets. The third punch is pushed offside, plowing through thousands of Reapers and human ships. A hand extends out of the shifting Autochthonia; blocking Harbinger's assault as Autochthonia transforms into a giant humanoid robot, complete with skeletal wings, horns and a metal goatee.
It parries the next strike and jump kicks Harbinger's super-Reaper in the face. As Harbinger staggers, Autochthonia steps into a martial arts stance; left hand forward to block, right hand chambered to strike.
Autochthonia's fist opens and beckons, inviting Harbinger to attack.
Harbinger sprouts blade covered plaques and clawed spikes. Autochthonia grows four additional arms, wielding sword, staff, nunchaku, and sai.
Harbinger's voice echoes through the system. "Resistance is futile. Your paltry attempts are defense are ineffective. We have already assimilated the most valuable thing humanity has to offer. Once we win here, we will Reap reality itself! Time. Matter. PRIME. When we fashion the essence of reality into a Reaper, the cycle of organic superfluousness will be complete."
Autochthonia shifts its stance and points at Harbinger. "This hand of mine glows with an awesome power! Its burning grip tells me to defeat you!"
In the stars above, the Wyrm grapples with the astral Citadel.
Still the Reapers come.
More Reapers have died in the last thirty minutes than all previous Reapers deaths during the invasion, including reaching back to the start of the first Reaping cycle.
And still they come.
The battle escalates into the war for all reality. And the earth burns.
Omake: B2 vs B3
A disheveled man wearing a stained labcoat and a t-shirt proudly stating "Theoretical Prototyping FTW" barrel rolls into a lab. "Have you heard? Those fuckers in R&D are trying something crazy!"
"Oh? Did they beat our record? What superpowered Forces weapon have they come up with?"
"Well, it's actually not a Forces weapon this time."
"Really. I thought Matter stopped being effective at the current top order of magnitude."
"Yeah, currently no Matter builds are competitive. Only Forces. The pure Correspondence approach that Bob's working on looks promising; purposefully misusing gravatic subspace tunneling to instantly stretch, or 'noodle' the target. But they didn't steal this idea from us. Get this; it's a Time effect."
"A Time effect? That's stupid. You can't directly weaponize Time. At any level of magnitude."
"That's exactly what they're saying they can do. And the results are mind-bogglingly more powerful than anything else once a certain power tier is reached."
"Well? Don't leave me hanging, tell me! What are they layering it with to make it so powerful?"
"That's just it; this is a pure Time effect."
"Impossible. Even if the actual payload is Time, every attack needs to hit the target. Of course they're using at least a targeting process."
"Apparently not. Not even a Correspondence targeting process is needed. See, apparently every location in reality was once effected, so there's no need for aiming, just enough Time."
"So, what's the process actually do?"
"It's simply an overpowered Time portal."
"Seriously? Wait; they didn't crack the past-travel hard limit, did they?"
"Nope. This is a forward portal from the past to the present."
"How can that be a direct weapon?"
"They're calling it a B2 portal. With enough power you can open a Time portal back to the first moment of time – the Big Bang itself."
"Yeah. Kind of elegant, actually. It's a portal from the past, so it gets past the Bradbury paradox. Since all the power is purely focused on opening the portal, it's amazingly efficient. And the Big Bang is basically free DPS at any point in creation if you have the Time to access it."
"So… since they're calling this B2, you think they're trying to make a B3 version? Before the Big Bang?"
"That would be a really neat gun. Let's make it first. Testbed Delta owes me fabricator time, come on!"
AN: Hand of Manos
Manos: The Hands of Fate is a movie so bad that seeing it will instantly kill you.
AN2: Author's commentary
Originally this was going to be two chapters, but on second thought I excised needless words, and glommed them into a single chapter. This can be the worst sort of escalation – the DragonBall Z style of "I will power up to my ultimate form!" if not done right. I have no illusions of my ability to do it right. Hence, one chapter to get it all over with. If you feel that this chapter makes the story 'jump the shark', let me know how and why. The chapter needs to include all the BS weapons and overkill that both sides are trying to bring to the table, as well as escalate the conflict in a sort of 'tit-for-tat' manner. Did I succeed? What glaringly obvious space fighting tactics did I miss?
AN3: Final note
I've got at least 2 more escalations to go. Hang on to your hats. Heh heh. Heh.