Tohu and Bohu had always confused me.
Tohu was more in line with a normal Endbringer. Clocking in at a mere eight feet tall, the Siamese-twin-esque creature had two torsos, joined at the waist, and three heads, its body seemingly made entirely out of compressed hair that grew from said heads. It had standard Endbringer durability and strength, but its real power was that it could copy any three power sets, like Eidolon only moreso, and it had to stick to its choices. That said, when it built its synergies they were devastatingly effective. . . up to a point.
Bohu, meanwhile, was a slow-moving living tower, which could be from anywhere to a quarter of a mile tall to five, just under Mt. Everest in height. Its power let it rearrange the terrain within a couple miles of itself into one giant deathtrap, ruining whatever city it popped up in, able to slowly travel underground to pop up at its next target.
They attacked in pairs, but, realistically speaking, they were weak as all hell.
Seriously, while power synergies were impressive, and as the walking embodiment of that concept I would know, even if you added in the unofficial powerset of having Endbringer Physiology, Tohu should be manageable, while anyone that could fly could no-sell Bohu with ease. Hell, give the Triumvirate free reign for five minutes and we could have ourselves one less Endbringer, and the other one, while strong, only had the power of three Parahumans while the PRT could bring hundreds to bear.
So. . . why didn't they?
To be honest, the entire thing reeked of a Cauldron plot, possibly sandbagging themselves for fear of what the next Endbringer might be, which was exactly the kind of short-sighted knee-jerk fear reaction that pretends to be a long-term plan that those witches specialize in.
Well, too bad that isn't going to work, I thought, shaking my head.
I asked, looking around at those gathered. This time we were bringing a much smaller team, everyone present either able to fly, or able to handle the world around them turning into a deathtrap. We'd made the announcement that the next Endbringer was going to be a 'Shaker/Master' with a single minion instead of teeming masses, purposefully getting a few details wrong, as 'We're fighting two Endbringers at once' would've been a step too far, even for some of my people.
Looking to my left, as I floated above the crowd, Taylor, in her updated armor, nodded, the creation something that Amelia had put together, utilizing some of the stocks of Endbringer flesh we'd accrued, the crystalline material further pushed into ridiculousness by the biokinetic's power. Beside her stood The Morrigan, clad in the same kind of armor 'Dryad' wore, the metal parts static but the wood subtly flexing under the demi-bringer's powers.
To my right were Break and Gauge, the former full up on copied abilities, the latter in his newest power armor, access to Shard-created neo-materials pushing the chrome and neon suit to a new level. Looking at it, at the style, it reminded me a bit of Sheryl's, the aesthetic one she'd grown into before she'd been killed, because I was an overly optimistic moron, which. . . was probably on purpose. To honor her, though, not to spite me. Either way, with integrity generators, and overlapping shields, unless things got really fucky he'd be fine.
And if they did, he had the means to pull out, as did half the others here, with the other half either partnering with them or on the shortlist to be recalled by Nick and, surprisingly, Curtis, who'd been an ass about it, but had slinked in at the last minute and offered to 'give some kiddies a. . . ride, if they can't handle the heat.'
Hearing the roar of approval from the Penumbral Defenders, and checking with the spy-drone overlooking the area, which dropped a Marked sphere down onto our landing zone, I concentrated, Essence redirecting, designating the various Hosts around me.
Then let's go kill us an Endbringer,
I announced confidently, almost casually, as, with a single twisting howl, I took a one Step as I Strode us to the target, Pamela Park, the green area playing to our strengths while theoretically resisting Bohu's structural warping effects, at least a little. More than that, though, was The Morrigan, whose power exploded outwards, designating all of the plant life within several miles as hers, we should be fine. The woman's Flames crashed outwards in a spreading wave, even as Taylor tossed out several circles of Emerald Oak wood, and started growing them, not out, but down.
I could See my teammate handing over control over that aspect of her power to our friend, who accepted it, and the demi-bringer further empowered Tree Growth & Control, just like I handed control over my own copy of the same power, as well as its twin of Dicot Growth & Command, over to Taylor via Arthropod Control, who then passed it along as well. Meanwhile, she used our shared power to unlock the metal crates I'd brought with us, hardened, warp-protected Spy Flies pouring out and activating their defenses, seeming to evaporate into the air, but giving us coverage all over the city, the girl no longer needing relay bugs to reach out over the combat zone.
Flying high, on wings of plasma shot through with projected mithral, I slowly turned, Seeing the battlefield, picking out the Hosts already present, the orange of the setting sun staining the city of Detroit, now evacuated, in rusty oranges. The place had actually gotten a second chance, economically, with the fact that overseas shipping was no longer, safe revitalizing the American automobile industry. The Triumvirate were here, because they kind of had to be, but, either because of the warning of 'hostile terrain', or the shitshow that was Legion's attack, there were less fighters present, which was perfectly fine with me.
Speaking of the Not-Roman, his people had set up in Kansas city for a full week, establishing a large base-camp, and absolutely destroying the team that'd tried to strike them down, all while Scion had just. . . waited. Even nuking them hadn't done anything, the flagbearers having raised a shield while the detonation had raged, and then, when it cleared, they'd gone back to. . . whatever it was they'd been doing.
Then, after their time was up, they conducted a large ritual, and Kansas City was just gone, an enormous crater left behind, like someone had taken an ice-cream scoop to the landscape. The now irradiated landscape, but the PRT had realized that was on them, sending Eidolon, as well as a few others, in, after checking that Legion was truly gone, to clean up the area. All of this made it clear that, the longer Legion was in an city, the harder it would be to reclaim it, and, unlike when Leviathan or Behemoth strolled through town, there'd be nothing to recover.
Now though, instead of letting Bohu 'poison' the land by turning the architecture into one giant deathtrap, we were going to take it out, though, to be honest, it would probably have time to still create some serious hazards, but that was someone else's problem.
~Found her!~ Taylor communicated, directing my attention to a six-foot-tall head that was slowly emerging in an alley, like an urban weed a la Easter Island. Tohu, all three heads featuring blank masks, its hair body a uniform, matte black that blended into the shadows, was watching over Bohu's growing form.
~Good job. Pass on the location to set up a firing solution. The big one's not gonna move,~ I replied, already forming a sound bubble high above it, prepping my other powers. With a flick of will, silver fluid spread out over my armored chest, my new Aquatic Armoring playing well with Fluid Strength, giving me a flat improvement across the board.
Furthermore, I'd started stacking like abilities to enhance my Major powers, and as such Air Canon and Air Bullets both came online, the former creating an enormous silver construct which could fire compressed air from 'amusingly knock someone back with minimal harm' to 'punch holes in steel', depending on the setup time and diameter of the rounds used. The latter, meanwhile, let me fire compressed balls of possibly lethal air via 'fingerguns', though that did make me want to slot the actual Finger Guns power I'd picked up. . . somewhere, but for all I knew that'd turn my fingers into literal guns, which, while useful, wouldn't combine the same way the others powers I'd been slotting instead had.
It'd taken a bit to convince that Psuedo-Shard that it didn't have to fire from my fingers, and that all parts of me, even my powers, were still 'me', but, once I had, it let me bootstrap Air Canon upwards to starting at artillery-shells and go from there. And then Aerokinesis had then increased the charging rate by a factor of about fifty, to the point I could machine gun the base bullets, causing them to get stronger the longer they flew, which, on its own, would allow me to completely level a city in about an hour.
For fighting Endbringers, though, it was merely adequate, and, once battle had been joined, would be another combo I'd be handing off to Taylor, the two of us having practiced so that she could create-point-shoot the cannons by prodding me with her power in a way that I'd instantly greenlight, turning her hidden spybugs into targeting systems for an omnipresent weapon system, though one that got weaker the more simultaneous instances that were created, the process requiring too much of my attention to use effectively while fighting normally, but that kind of overwatch was right up her alley.
With another mental arm I picked up the Orichalcum shell, twice as big as I was, spiraled through with the momentum enhancement pattern, and oriented it, starting to pour Unidirectional Telekinesis into it, causing it glow with an inner silver light, slowly at first, but gaining in intensity.
Running mental fingers over my other powers, the ones that'd been ripped from me were almost usable, while Hard Light Weaponry had just finished reforming this week, but It'd another couple before it was whole enough to implant in someone else. ABSOlute TERRitory, meanwhile, was a little tender, but, focusing on it, my hand glimmered with intent, unformed for now, but I knew I could instill it with a Concept if need be.
Others had risen up, charging their own attacks, Break himself working on something surprisingly complex, at least for him. We had a good five minutes of charging up, before Eidolon, the fucking moron, noticed where we were pointing our weapons, and investigated instead of just asking.
Using Acoustokinesis, I tried to warn him, "You're heading towards the Endbringer. Back off, we're preparing an alpha strike," but the retard just flew faster, glowing with a kinetic blast power that I could tell wouldn't be enough, and not bothering to use one of his three 'slots' to que up a Stranger power to at least sneak up on them.
I glanced over at the charging orichalcum shell, now glowing like a small sun, as Taylor told me, ~No, Lee. You can't shoot Eidolon.~
~You can't say he doesn't deserve it,~ I pointed out, even as I called out to my people,
Eidolon's about to upset the Endbringer!
Prepare to fire!
~He does, but do you want to start fighting Cauldron today?~ she asked. ~If you say to, I will.~
And, communicating like this, I Knew she would too, which helped stay my hand. With every passing week our position strengthened while Cauldron, just like they had for years, remained stagnant. Give us another six months, and we'd be able to clear them from the board, another year and we could likely do so without losses.
Riding Taylor's connection to the spybugs, knowing Quinn was capturing this with one of his observer drones high-above us, I watched as Eidolon flew high, saw the Twins, and started to hurl his attack downwards. However, at the same moment, they saw him, the enormous head whipping about surprisingly fast, before Bohu Grew.
From one moment to the next, the Endbringer shot up from a six-foot-tall head into a thousand-foot-tall tower, then kept going higher and higher, piercing the clouds, until it was several miles tall, bits of the city she'd uprooted forming a kind of gown as the inhumanly thin, willowy 'woman' spread her power of Infrastructure out in a wave miles across, soaking into the ground in every direction.
The attack David had sent at it blasted into the creature's rapidly expanding base, doing some damage, but barely any before the Endbringer slammed into him and sent the green-clad idiot flying away, bodychecked by what was essentially several city blocks.
I commanded, the second Bohu finished forming, opening two vacuum corridors in front of my own shots to make them hit harder. On one side, the air canon roared, firing the hyper-compressed gasses, the bullet now near solid, out in instant, slamming into the Endbringer's head, detonating outwards and carving off a third of Bohu's enormous, elongated skull. On the other, the Orichalcum shell blasted forward, crossing the distance in a flash, slamming into the chest of the mountain-sized Endbringer, striking and detonating with a muted, thump that Acoustokinesis worked to keep from blasting back at us, as a battleship-sized section of the towering creature ceased to be, the shockwave clearing the skies behind it.
Going three for three, I set off the prepped Hypersonic Detonator, taking the vibrations from the first two attacks and ramping them up, hard, as a sphere of the Endbringer's flesh, part of its 'skirt' turned to dust, though it wasn't perfect, Bohu's central 'stem' holding firm despite the force I was exerting.
Head, chest, and kind of one leg, a good portion of each gone in an instant, the other attacks going off a moment later.
Everyone unleashed hell, Herbert forming an enormous roaring vortex of fire, that formed a long sinuous dragon that slammed into Bohu, seeming small compared to that monster but still of an appreciable size, as it clawed at the Endbringer, shoving itself into the gaping hole in the creature's chest, ripping into its flesh as hundreds of spikes shot from Bohu's body, tearing into the construct in turn.
The 'Dragon' was slowly ripped to shreds, but that wasn't the end, as more and more attacks poured in at it, Tohu nowhere to be seen, Bohu's power once more rippling outwards, Stone & Metal Flames sweeping out like a tsunami, and the city, and all of its outlying suburbs, started to compact, drawing in and down, the buildings all around the park coming inwards to crush those inside, only for shining gem-like roots to burst out in every direction around the park's edge, holding back the city as the dirt started to lift up, revealing thousands of enormous branches had formed beneath my people's feet, practically glowing with The Morrigan's power.
Herb took off like a shot, heading for Bohu, and I started to charge myself with telekinesis, even as my canon began compressing another shot, waiting for. . . there!
Tohu, a blazing comet of Mimicry made of Fibers & Void, rocketed up from below on flaming steps, its left head no longer blank, features white, but bearing the visage of someone I recognized. Opening another vacuum corridor, I fired myself at the smaller Endbringer, fist cocked back, charged with my other combo.
Sound Striking did exactly what it sounded like, giving me a sonic punch that was many times stronger than the force I put in, essentially a 'detonation fist' ability, but one that could do funny things with harmonics and resonances, as evidenced by what its original user got up to. Pairing it with Sonic Flight at first did nothing, but when I slotted in Triumph's Personal Sound Manipulation, shifting the Psuedo-Shards around in my Sea of Flame until I could bridge them, not as I'd done to ANGEL Creation, but to allow better communication, things got fun, allowing me to take the propulsion's power and channel it into my strikes.
Which, when combined with the Major power of Acoustokinesis, got downright stupid.
I slammed into Tohu a moment before he reached Herbert, driving my fist directly into one of its two chests, unloading with all of my sound-based powers in a ringing burst that caused the world to seem to flex for a moment, Assault's Kinetic Redirection taking the backblast from my own blow and feeding that into the Endbringer as well, in the moment of impact, its fibrous body trying to absorb the blow, and succeeding in all the worst ways.
Then it was gone, turned into yet another projectile fired against its twin, slamming into Bohu so hard it carved off half of a Wendy's from the city-warper's 'dress', the creature also hit by the fire that was still pouring in, Taylor and The Morrigan creating a weapons platform and actively fending off the hostile architecture that was trying to close in on my people.
An explosion of flame heralded it launching back out at us, the fibers where I'd struck it ragged, but reweaving themselves as it came back, faster than sound, right for me, each step it took a streak of bright blue flame.
Skywalker, take notes!
An Endbringer liked your power enough to copy it,
I ordered, having made this power myself, or at least pathed the Vial, and seeing it scaled up into a Major version of itself was actually quite interesting, but I knew what it could do.
As such, when the Endbringer sped up even more, leading with a flying, flaming kick it was easy to lightning-dodge, then dodge again when Tohu pushed off its first attack, leaving one streak shooting in my general direction, to form another at me after I finished my first dodge. I combined Pyrokinetic Weaponry with Stellar Creation to create a blade made of starstuff to slam into my attacker's stomach, it's claws going wide, popping one malleable shield to power the hit, my body straining under the force, but that was enough to send it flying out over the city like a home run, away from its twin, now that others had taken the initiative and were starting to close on the immobile Endbringer. Bohu could take swipes at them with its enormous hands, but, while it was fast, it was so big that it massively telegraphed every movement, the others chipping away at it.
Leaving six long streaks of azure flame, one from the end of each of its limbs, the Endbringer brought itself to a stop a mile away, its enhanced physiology letting it pull off moves that the member of my Penumbral Defenders it'd copied couldn't, before it cocked its arms back, just like he did, and I pulled on my own powers, facing it down as the Air Cannon behind me fired again, taking off another chunk of Bohu's skull.
Inhumanly fast, it started throwing forward crescents of blue fire, streaking like missiles, hot enough to melt stone, and strong enough to kill any non-brute that was even near the impact zone. Dozens upon dozens of projectiles were spat out, until they numbered in the hundreds, that were directed not just for me, but for those still on the ground, and those around Bohu as well.
In return, I set my mental feet and opened up my own powers, Essence flowing freely, firing off blades from Aerokinesis, spikes from Ice Projectile Projection, lightning from Stunning Bolts, plasma daggers from my previously combined power, streams of Diamond Dust Wind, and beams from Kinetic Force Fields, the Endbringer's attacks damaging, but easy to ignite, the air between us filling with blue eruptions of incandescence as I met the Endbringer, power for power, and started to press it back.
Realizing it couldn't win this way, it took off, charging at me, concentrating its projectile attacks in a blast wave that cut through my own projectiles, creating a shockwave that would've pulped me in an instant.
If such things worked on me.
I let it get close, before reaching in with Acoustokinesis and opening a hole in its solid wall of kinetic force, then blasted forward myself, hands at the ready, all four of the Endbringer's clawed arms reaching for me, before I used Lightning Blink to hit it, shocking it a little, but really making sure I put myself right between its two torsos when I reformed, armor pulled back on my palms as I slammed a hand into its left and right faces, and pulled.
Biokinesis strained as I tried to rip it apart from the inside, the multidimensional nature of Endbringers making this a lot harder, while I Marked both heads, Sound Striking again, popping four more shields as I stamped on the Endbringer's joined hips while I pulled upwards on its outside skulls, the third head growing out of both shoulders behind me, and, while I could feel parts of it snap, strands breaking from the tension, it wasn't enough, and I dropped into Shadowform as all four taloned endbringer hands came arrowing in for me, letting them pass through my insubstantial flesh as I moved, the multidimensional nature of the Endbringers something I'd gotten practice to shifting around with the willing example of Ziz, becoming real and blasting my opponent point-blank with more diamond dust, which sawed at the strands, but, while deadly against most Hosts, it only somewhat scoured the Endbringer.
Because while Bohu went big, Tohu went dense.
It slammed down once more with all four arms, and I caught the nearest two with my hands, my wings blocking the other pair, the Endbringer releasing Skywalker's power at me point blank, but the blast waves meant nothing, and the flames died the second the reached Stellar Negation's range.
You're not going to win.
Now will you play nice?
I questioned the endbringer, not really expecting it to work, but always willing to accept new allies for the cause of not having everyone die to an insane Entity.
I was a bit surprised when Skywalker's mask twisted into a hateful glare, the response coming from all three faces at once.
You Die, Corruptor!
It redoubled its attempts to kill me, but, chaining powers like I was, with the mithral in my body working as an internal power armor, Hard Light Weaponry over my form as a matching exterior set, so much Cryo-Telekinesis pulling at its limbs that it was only the raging fire that stopped blocks of ice from forming, Injury Empowerment meaning every strained muscle and fracturing bone made me stronger as Healing Blood repaired the damage as fast as it was being made, and the entire Sky pressing against my back, the kinetic force redistributed to my limbs, I was pound for pound, matching this Endbringer.
More than that, I opened up with my own blaster powers at point blank range, Water Pressure Streams that could slice steel starting to cut into its strands, rivers of Diamond Dust Wind continuing to wear them away, finger-sized Kinetic Force Fields blasting into it, searching for its core, as I sank more plasma blades into it, sawing away at its stringy body, doing far more damage to it then it was to me.
Then its right mask started to darken, the second of its three powers coming online, and until I knew what I was dealing with I wanted no part of that, so poured on the Stunning Bolts and Antigrav Sparks, neither of which did that much to it.
But they created one hell of a light show.
Which, a moment later, was completely subsumed by my Photon Conversion Beam, the pillar of energy blasting into the endbringer with the force of a small nuke, a column of energy that ripped it free of my grip, leaving handfuls of fibers behind, which I Strode back to Eclipse for study, twisting air blades, blasts of fire, and more following it away, as I let myself glance backwards.
Bohu was in tatters, a frankly behemoth Dryad, two-thirds the height of the Endbringer, beating the shit out of it, while a dragon with a wingspan measured in miles, coruscating with the Inferno of Herbert's powers, rained hell down on it from above.
. . . Yeah, we got this, I thought, turning back as my opponent came blasting forward, through my attacks like they didn't even exist, declaring,
You Die, Corruptor!
For a second, I was worried, until I realized I recognized this mask too.
And then I Laughed.
Knowing I'd need the increased strength and defense, I grabbed two Shards I'd been iffy on, Tactile Telekinesis and Kinetic Buffer, and slotted them right in, burning through Minor Slots, but I had nine left. The first was superman-style strength and durability, though not to those levels, while the latter let me absorb kinetic energy and pour it out, though not at the same time, the power likely forked from the same True Crystal that the Kinetic Redirection Shard was an aspect of.
Blasting forward myself, building up a head of steam, I met the charging Endbringer with so much force that, even trying to stop the ensuing shockwave, it created a line of destruction below us where we met, my Temporal Protection flaring to negate Bohu's newly acquired Personal Temporal Stasis, leaving us exactly as we were a moment ago.
Bohu could now strike harder, able to get more speed in on its blows, but, in turn, the second it touched me I could start to push back, absorb more of the damaging force, and then use that to fuel my own counterattacks, slamming a fist into its third, middle head to Mark that one too, once more resulting in a stalemate, as the rest of my team continued to tear apart the mountain of an Endbringer behind me.
Seeing its twin in distress, Bohu tried to break off from our fight, but I'd stabbed tendrils of mithral into its body, and I was dragged along, able to get free hits in on it, Hard Light claws allowing me to rip into its body, but only on the surface, the deeper strands so tough that I could only start to work on them, and, when Bohu closed on my teammates, I reached deep, took hold of it, and Strode.
The power caught, and it was like trying to move the entire Penumbral Defender corps at once, but, with a howling, twisting, warp, I dragged it back to the outskirts of Detroit, that being as far as I could go, Herbert's Dragon, Bohu, and The Morrigan's Dryad all still easily visible, as, with a scream of frustration, it turned on me in earnest, but, once again, I was holding my own, no longer damaging the Endbringer as much as I was before, any attack that wasn't part of 'me' rendered completely ineffective, but I still had Slots to burn.
Grabbing Clockblocker's Temporal Stasis, I slammed it into a waiting slot, my focus narrowing to match the four-armed menace in front of me, the power coming online as I added it to my strikes. It didn't affect the full Endbringer, like it had Leviathan, as that apparently would just be too easy, instead tearing off small patches of strands wherever I hit, the obstructions hanging in the air as both Tohu and I drifted across the sky, Acoustokinesis and Aerokinesis the only things keeping us from tearing up the landscape with the shockwaves of our attacks.
Slamming a fist into a mask, a thin layer of material was ripped away, but it didn't disrupt its power, the Endbringer healing that too, though not quite as fast as the rest of its fibrous body, and I kept up the pressure, feeling my body break and be rebuilt as I did the exact same to Tohu. However, with each blow, I was burning through its reserves of flesh, its healing nothing of the sort, only the replacement from finite stores that'd take months to rebuild.
I could do this all day.
The world blurred, my limbs moving as fast as thought, wings flaring as I formed a second pair of limbs to match my opponent, identical except for the lack of flesh, but still undeniably me. More lines of mithral were attached to my foe, anchoring me further, and every moment it broke one, was a moment I could strike more deeply into it, the bright blue flame of the Endbringer's first copied power splattering against the silver flames of my own, the world narrowing to only include us as just I kept on giving it my all, and finding that, for once, that was enough.
And, despite the downright irate snarl on Tohu's faces, I was having an amazing time.
I called, bones breaking, blood pumping, as I kept grinding this stupid motherfucker down!
"Get Away!" I heard Herb called, "It's warping!"
I spared a glance away, and Saw Bohu, Saw Infrastructure, for what it truly was, taking a copy of the Major power for myself, its core, 3/4ths up the giant's body, now exposed, and cracked, large portions missing, as the cityscape of its body twisted, shifted, compacted, and grew erratically. The Mega-Dryad was missing an arm that was visibly dragged into the expanding effect, but was getting away, Herbert missing a wing but fleeing as well, as the effect grew.
Tohu, taking the opportunity, severed the links between us before lashing, out two hands grasping each of my fleshy arms, and, with a mighty yank, broke them, before flying for the others.
I just had to chuckle, Healing Flames raging under my armor, Injury Empowerment just kicking my powers into overdrive, my mithral skeleton righted in an instant, and, focusing on its numerous Marks, flew forward, building momentum, before suddenly appearing over the fleeing Endbringer, as it headed for the others, slamming four fists empowered with Sound Striking down into its heads, blasting it down into the city below, its own flight unable to stop it before it struck the ground, rebounding up as I tackled it, continuing to pound it into the dust with a long stream of punches.
Before me, the effect of Bohu's death spread out, pulling, shifting, twisting, until with a flash of power it was gone, leaving behind a twisted, nonsensical Tower of Babble that'd give MC Esher a headache.
~Lee, we did it!~ Taylor communicated, ecstatic. ~Do you need help?~
The central mask of the Endbringer below me started to form, metallic surfaces expanding as glowing orange eyes opened, yet another familiar face joining the others, and, I shook my head, as Lung's power of Predator sparked to life.
Nah, I got this.
But clear everyone out.
This fight is gonna get messy.
I replied, as the Endbringer started to shift and bulk up, orange flames sprouting from its body and mixing with the blue, as it started to push against me and my overwhelming strength, the new powers of mine only increasing as they settled in, and I fed them Essence, but that gap was starting to close once more.
Taylor's hesitance was clear through our shared power, as Tohu bucked me off, flying into the air, metallic-threaded wings spreading as it ramped up far faster than the original user did, but that was the difference between a Minor and Major slot's worth of power.
The Endbringer roared, and took off for the Mega-Dryad, only for me, growing as well, my metallic body forming outwards into the same form I'd used to kick the Vatican's shit in, used the Marks it still bore to appear above it and feed it a flaming sword. With Alexandria's power, the blade did nothing to stop it, but its copied instincts, or maybe its own arrogance, directed it into the blade, as if to show how useless it was, meaning my clenched fist around the 'handle' smacked it right in its middle rapidly-forming jaw, knocking it backwards with Sonic Striking, as I slid in front of it, and continued beating the shit out of it.
~We're pulling out!~ Taylor announced, and I could feel the Marks I'd left on my own people shifting away rapidly, as I traded blows with the every-strengthening Endbringer, wishing I could slot the same power it was using, but, like all of the 'transform into something inhuman' abilities I had, it was locked away, so I had to make due instead.
Grabbing Personal Hardening, It, yes, did exactly what I expected it to, layering myself with an almost Endbringer-like toughness, though, as a Minor Shard, it wasn't quite that strong. Combined with the others, however, it once more tipped things in my favor, as Tohu kept growing, and so did I, the city coming apart around us, structures melting beneath our feet as we both took to the air, like twin pugilistic suns, and it was only when the field was clear of friendlies that I really upped my game.
I used ABSOlute TERRitory.
It was like stretching one's legs after sitting too long, a little unsteady at first, but, as I focused on it, the energy spreading out and filling the cracks of my form, it strengthened, weak, anemic, but workable.
And, hey, what do you know?
I had a source of energy right in front of me.
Monstrous Meddler! Corruptor!
The now draconic Endbringer cried, enraged seemingly beyond reason, tearing into me with all it could.
Perish! Expire! Die!
And it did tear pieces away, but now that all of this was me, Injury Empowerment, having been talked to in the intervening months, dutifully paid out it's stored stockpile of Essence, empowering me further, as I instilled my territory with the twin concepts of golden Resilience, and azure Consume.
The first strengthened me, and, while it made me no stronger, it let me take the blows that had constantly broken my body, while the other? I extended all four arms, clamping onto Tohu, and it began to scream.
Energy filled me, surging down channels I barely understood, the Stolen Essence helping the weakened ABSOlute TERRitory as my prey struggled with all its might, able to overpower me, but not overcome me, as I grasped it tighter, impossibly strong metal threads weaking and coming apart under my enervating touch.
I was no longer growing, but I no longer needed to.
Tohu tore at me, metallic claws gouging furrows into my AT field, but barely finding any true purchase, any damage quickly repaired. It slammed me into the ground, pulling, trying to dislodge me, but I just held on tighter, legs shifting into a long, sinuous tail that wrapped around its waist as I tore through both of its torsos, looking for its core.
It was nowhere to be found, the deep gashes it tore out of my back, my arms, even my head only strengthening every part of me, including my drain on it, and my own defenses, a dozen Shards singing in harmony in my Sea of Flame forming a chorus of power that this Minion could not overcome.
But I could not find its Core.
And then I paused, realizing I'd missed something important.
A dozen arms formed and reached out, four hands for each head, two to hold them steady and two to peel, removing layers of masks through Stasis and Consume, Skywalkers and Alexandria's empty, but, as Tohu writhed useless under my grip, I split apart Lung's skull, and I came upon a pearl of condensed power.
And I Saw Mimicry.
Freeze! Regret! Surrender!
It cried, and I paused, lowering but not eliminating the drain, as I could feel the terror emanating from the Endbringer. I stared at the Core, feeling a deep hunger, but I repressed it, mastering it, as I considered what to do.
Finally, I asked it,
What did you mean,
when you called me 'Corruptor'?
I watched its power flux, waiting, interested, until, with a pulse, Tohu's core fractured itself, the masks all starting to glow, as it declared,
Die Antediluvian Entity!
Well, that settles things, I thought darkly, following my instincts, as the core started to destabilize, cascading into a detonation that would destroy everything for miles, and I opened my jaws wide, Prismatic Flame dripping from my lips, and lunged, biting deep into Tohu's metallic flesh, twisting with my entire body as, pulling, I ripped the Core free from its mooring, feeling myself stretch to accommodate it, as, with a titanic effort, I swallowed it whole.
Essence poured through me, and I sighed, scales flickering for a moment in contentment before I. . . wait, what?
My body shifted, and I was once again in angelic form, stretching out, looking around. And. . . yeah, I was standing in a volcano. Whups? Either way, Not-Babel was still standing just fine, and looking over, I could see the gathered Hosts of the PRT, so I offered them a jaunty wave, and Strode home, fully satisfied with today's battle.