The instant of darkness passed, and the avatar spoke before Helen could react, the computer’s voice suddenly urgent. “Warning! Emergency realized, initiating thought transmission!”
Pain radiated through Helen’s mind briefly as the system forced open a telepathic channel, and she gasped at the abrupt change. Any surprise and annoyance vanished as the information flooded into her hand, and as the screens showed her the devastated landscape beyond where the stasis field had reached. The sight was terrible, but she didn’t have time to worry about it.
It was the presence of mortals just outside the stasis field that had caused the temple avatar to abandon many of its odd proscriptions and just give her raw data. The motley assortment of mortals were in armor that was higher technology than what Helen had believed they’d attain after being abandoned, but an instant later she realized it’d been five centuries since the stasis field activated, and her blood ran cold. There was also an unknown ship in orbit, which must be the source of the mortals. The problem was that they had no chance against the Ravagers, and the aliens had already started turning toward the mortals. That pretty well made her decision for her, since there was no sign of Imperial vessels in the system.
“Refocus fire on targets nearest the mortals, prioritizing the greatest threats.” Helen snapped out, abandoning the system’s preferred command syntax as she lunged toward the gates. “Emergency donning of heavy combat armor, anti-armor armament, prepare gates for rapid deployment.”
“Bestowing heavenly armor and Heaven’s full armament. Heavenly wrath eliminating infidels closes to mortals, beginning with those with greatest darkness,” the avatar replied quickly. “All light channeling for their absolution.”
Helen grunted as the armor teleported in around her in mid-jump, hooking onto her suit abruptly, its contours somewhat painfully repositioning her limbs and wings, but the next moment her boots hit the ground with incredibly loud thuds. Unslinging Heavenly Fury, Helen channeled most of her mana into the shield system, which sprang to life with glittering blue light, then beat her wings, activating the thrusters in the armor around them as she shot toward the doors out of the command center like a meteor.
The only thing Helen said before the doors snapped open, spraying sparks from where they’d taken fire, was soft and simple. “Emperor, what happened?”
“Lightseeker, we’re under fire and need immediate fire support!” Esress snarled, and Evelyn winced when she looked at the commander as she hid behind a rock outcropping. The lizzan’s armor hadn’t managed to stop more than a single energy bolt before one had taken off Esress’s left arm entirely. Fortunately, the emergency seals had managed to stop the bleeding, but it was still horrifying, and the stone was eroding at a frightening speed under the onslaught.
Evelyn didn’t think that anyone had died yet, but that was mostly because everyone had taken cover the second they’d seen the figures starting to turn toward them. She hadn’t seen a single bit of return fire do any damage, though, and Evelyn was afraid they might not have time for the fire support to arrive.
Then everything changed, as the brilliant beams of light from the temple shone even brighter, and she could hear the detonation of exploding air as the beams shifted focus from the attackers nearest the structure to those firing on her team. She blanched as one of the huge monstrosities exploded, along with three other attackers, but Evelyn took the moment to start a chant under her breath, her staff lighting up as she did so. It was Evelyn’s most powerful, draining spell, but it was the only thing she could think of that might hurt them.
Several others attacked as well, but as Fiona fell backward with a hole through her shoulder, Evelyn feared that it was far too late. Her staff lit up as she completed the spell, and a beam of twisting green light lanced out at one of the smaller, four-armed creatures. The spell hit… and Evelyn’s eyes went wide with shock as the spell ripped the suit of the creature apart where it hit, reducing it and the body beneath it to component molecules. She didn’t even have time to see what it looked like before the creature’s entire upper torso vanished.
“Can anyone else use disintegration magic?” Evelyn asked, her hope rising. She could only use it a couple of times, but—
Her hope turned to fear as one of the huge monsters spun toward her, the barrels of its weapons glowing. She rolled to the side, hoping it would miss… and in that moment the doors of the temple opened.
The attackers clustered around the opening exploded backward in sprays of burning purple ichor, and relentless orbs of brilliant gold energy erupted from the opening as a figure darted out, moving so fast it was barely visible, and it hit the gigantic creature hard.
“Acknowledged, Blue one. Preparing for immediate orbital bombardment.” The reply from Lightseeker came at that moment, and Evelyn barely heard it, her jaw working as she stared at the figure on top of the monster as it swayed, then began toppling, unable to believe what she was seeing.
A humanoid, winged figure, they were obviously wearing power armor and were over two and a half meters tall. The armor was thick, with white and gold with crimson trim, and it flew on incredibly broad wings that had glowing blue thrusters on them, though the armor showed that it was a distinctly female figure. In her right hand she held a hilt that emitted a huge beam of crackling gold plasma, and in the other were the spinning barrels of a rotary plasma cannon that was spitting fire at other creatures as alien fire bounced off a glittering blue shield around the angel.
“Cancel that, command! We have a friendly on the battlefield, repeat, we have a friendly on the field!” Esress spoke quickly, and as she muted the transmission to the ship, Evelyn heard her mutter. “At least I hope that’s a friendly.”
“Better her than giant insects.” Someone else said, and Evelyn recovered as the angel spun and charged into the middle of the attackers on their right, her sword cutting through them easily. All the aliens were focusing on the angel, she noticed.
“I… what about that magic?” Evelyn managed to ask, swallowing hard as beams of plasma ripped into the aliens. “It’s the only thing I’ve seen work. Aside from plasma, anyway.”
“Hell no, we couldn’t get any magi that powerful onto the team. Is it safe for her to be using fire like that?” Esress demanded. “She’s starting to glow!”
“I have no clue! Angels appear in historical records, but not a single confirmed body has been found, and there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting in better than a thousand years!” Evelyn said, adding incredulously. “Even then, we never heard anything about them wearing power armor!”
She began to cast another disintegration spell, noticing the glow and shimmer of heat around the figure, and Evelyn’s shock and fear grew stronger. There had been at least fifty aliens inside the field to begin with, and just one angel had ripped apart half of them in a handful of seconds, while more had been shredded by the building’s defenses. Her spell lanced out into the last huge creature as it fired on the angel, and Evelyn felt bile rise in her throat as barely a quarter of it vanished, allowing more horrific guts to spill out, even as it continued trying to attack.
The next moment the figure rose into the air, and she heard a woman’s voice speaking angelic in an unknown accent, barely audible through her exterior microphone. “Have a taste of Hell, monsters!”
She rose into the air, then slammed down into the ground, her armor and shield flashing, and the shield turned red as it erupted outward in a wave of fiery heat, and her armor flickered back to normal, as if she hadn’t been building up heat at all. All around her, the aliens fell over, twitching and half-molten from the blast of heat. And then the last of the figures was vaporized by the temple beams.
“Blue One, report! What do you mean, there’s a friendly?” Captain Kalper demanded.
“Um, that’s going to have to wait a minute, Captain. We’re trying to figure that out ourselves.” Esress replied, her gulp audible as the angel killed her sword, turning it back to a hilt and resting her cannon against her shoulder as smoke rose into the air from it.
The figure approached, and then the woman asked in a beautiful voice, still speaking angelic. “What in all the Heavens are you mortals doing here?”
For a long moment Evelyn froze, then slowly began to stand. Esress asked a moment later. “Does anyone know what she just said?”
“It’s angelic, Lieutenant. I’ll let her know I’ll be translating.” Evelyn said, swallowing hard, then switched languages to speak to the angel. “My apologies, but I’m the only one who understands you, Lady Angel.”
“Of course you are, if the others did, that’d make it too easy. I’ll have analyzed your language shortly, but for now that can wait.” The woman replied, looking around, then her gaze paused on Esress. “In fact, I believe we should take this inside. It appears you need medical attention.”
“I… well, that would be appreciated.” Evelyn replied with a nod. “I’ll let them know.”
“Good.” The angel said shortly.
Turning to Esress, Evelyn tried to figure out how to explain things. No matter what, though, she couldn’t get over her shock of having run into a living myth.
Cortin was going to be pissed.