- Issue #73 – Give Thanks
- Issue #74 – Bit Part Bad Guys
- Issue #75 – Kaiju for Christmas
- Issue #76 – Silicon Soul, Adamantine Will
- Issue #77 – Date Night
- Issue #78 – Delved Too Deep (Une Mascarade Brisée Part 1)
- Issue #79 – Tome of Secrets (Une Mascarade Brisée Part 2)
- Descendants Special #7 – The Curtain Rises
- Issue #80 – Bitter Work
- Issue #81 – Kin, Speed and Ducks
- Issue #82 – What To Do With Your Downtime
- Issue #83 – Avalon Rises
- Issue #84 – Darkness Falling
- Descendants Annual #7 – First Frost
Issue #75 – Kaiju for Christmas
Kaiju For Christmas (Part 4)
Majestrix was confident in her covering fire as the Queen’s Gambit finally set down on terra firma. The Live Metal robot and its unknown biological hitchhiker had predictably hunkered down in the crater in the face of withering fire.
Meanwhile, Zero Point had gone high, keeping out of the line of fire while surveying the situation from the sky. “Something weird’s going on down there.” He announced shortly. “Looks like it’s… melting.”
“Maybe its power source is running dry.” said Majestrix hopefully.
That hope died as Wrex rose from the crater, taking ponderous steps to pull itself out of the earthen trench. Black-red blisters had sprouted atop its head, shoulders and legs, clustering around every forward-facing bit of exposed flesh while still keeping the gun ports free. Where bullets struck blisters, they bounced off like they’d struck tank armor.
Zero Point said a few words he didn’t normally use around the house.
“It’s adapting to our attacks.” Majestrix said, then scowled at herself as she stopped firing. She sounded like an exposition character on television, saying what was clearly happening. More to sate her own intellect than anything else, she added, “I wish we had a biologist here, because engineering smarts aren’t going to tell us how to beat this.”
After a second’s thought, she remembered that she was still patched in to the ROCIC. “You wouldn’t happen to have a biologist around, would you, General?”
“The moment you said your scans picked up biological life, Majestrix.” General Pratt replied. “The Parks Service has rerouted three ecological survey drones to your location and as soon as their sensors are in range, we’re routing the data to three DARPA-participant universities. Just a warning though: we’re standing by to scramble fighters from Luke Air Force Base. Even if you’re unwilling to destroy it, we are if it moves to threaten populated areas.”
As if to punctuate the point, smoke trails belched out of the stuck missile pod on Wrex’s side as it fired the two missiles that still cleared the opening. Missile lock warnings began to sound inside the Queen’s Gambit‘s cockpit.
“I understand, General.” said Majestrix evenly. She didn’t flinch as a plane of blue force appeared ahead of the missiles just yards from Wrex, well within their arming distance. The weapons didn’t even explode, just smashed themselves into unhappy heaps against Zero Point’s wall.
Wrex let out a coughing grunt and opened fire with its own machine guns, peppering Zero Point, who had to move his wall to protect himself. Once the way was clear, it opened up on the Queen’s Gambit with its own machine guns.
Well protected by her mecha’s armor, Majestrix reached over and pulled over the cover to the missile fire controls, overlaying her center HUD with laser targeting reticules. Her fingers danced across the screen, laser-painting points all around Wrex. While she didn’t want to kill whatever it was, she wasn’t averse to injuring it until it was weakened enough to be captured. With one more tap of the screen, she confirmed her targets and fired.
The Queen’s Gambit rocked slightly backward while struts extended from the back of its legs to brace against the ground. While the walking tank’s gyroscopic balancing system could keep it standing while firing two or three missiles, a full salvo could still easily throw it to the ground without proper bracing.
As one, the missile hatches swung open, seconds before tails of smoke blew out the other end, sending eight missiles toward Wrex.
Wrex took a step back and the old flowbeast calculated how strong its hastily grown carapace was. The answer it came up with was ‘not that strong. “Terror!” It bellowed in threat, but it’s solution was, it might have admitted, cowardly. The jump jets emerged from its calves and thighs even as it turned. Four rocket engines powered up and lit, angled toward the ground so that the result was a long jump rather than a vertical takeoff.
The gigantic machine was hurled into the air amid a cloud of smoke and flame just as the missiles hammered down into the turf all around, exploding into balls of fire and concussive force.
Said force caught Wrex on the tail end, sending it wobbling off its planned path. Where it intended to leap away toward the city, it found its trajectory flattening out until it wound up being propelled almost sideways into a wall of cold it didn’t know was there.
For the first time in a long time, it found itself gripped by fear. It wasn’t from the confusion of the crash, or how it found itself tumbling end-over-end in first dirt and then across asphalt. No, it feared things from its memories. There were things back where it came from that even a five hundred year old flowbeast would never want to meet, that even Wrex, with his powerful host, could not hope to match in battle.
Cold was their element. They came from the Air and Darkness. Their Queen descended from the sky, every seven-and-seven years out of three hundred and settled in a castle of ice and snow and utter dark.
Both confusion and fear retreated, evaporating along with the rapidly-subliming dry ice that fell from Wrex’s body as it stirred. They were replaced with a cacophony of screeching, metallic crunching and a high, nasally blare like the call of some huge bird.
Wrex looked around to find itself in the middle of a field of smashed and gouged black rock, surrounded by creatures that were much like its host, only smaller that seemed to creep along the ground on four rubbery feet. They were strewn around it, some having collided with it and each other, probably when Wrex crashed into their path. The cry was coming from some of the more stricken beasts. Farther back in the herd, a large creature, this one with more feet than the others, had come to a stop sidelong, its front segment turned away and smoke rising from its paws.
On closer inspection, Wrex spotted Mankinds climbing out of the bodies of the downed creatures and running way. Not creatures then: conveyances. And the Mankinds within, while poor meals alone, were plentiful and would give it much needed nourishment to continue its battle.
Looking around, it found a Mankind trapped inside his conveyance, frantically trying to open the door while staring up at the terrible majesty that was Wrex. One of its smaller fore-claws reached down to take hold of the conveyance roof.
A waterfall of blue rushed down from above to slam into Wrex, driving it back from its intended meal.
Zero Point dropped down from the sky, pouring on the power. “Are you going to fight, big guy, or are you going to eat?” He shouted, “Here’s a hint: I’m only going to let you pick one of those.”
Miniature comets of blue powers began to slam Wrex from the side as Zero also joined the scene. “Sorry,” she told her father over the comm, “I was getting some information.”
“Anything we can use?” Zero Point asked. His energy reserves were starting to bottom out and not only was his blast of power ebbing, but he was starting to sink lower to the ground. “Please say yes.”
Topped off from all of the energy she’d stripped out of the air to create the wall of cold earlier, Zero easily stepped in to take over keeping the pressure on Wrex from Zero Point with her own raw burst of power. “I think so. The creature controlling Rex is called a flowbeast. Both good and bad news: they’re pretty much unkillable while bound to a host. But the good news is, they go into shock and go dormant for a while if you kill their host—which in this case, is a robot, so that’s okay. Also, Rex itself has power outage problems.”
“I was thinking about that earlier.” Zero Point admitted. “So we run down its batteries, then let your moth…” He remembered just in time that more than just his family and the General might be patched into the comm. “…Majestrix blow the ‘bot apart.”
“Oh, I think I can handle that, ZP.” Majestrix said as she plodded toward the highway. “Why don’t you handle getting the people in the cars clear while Zero and I deal with Rex?”
Zero Point looked down at the chaos on the road and heard the sounds of approaching ambulances that wouldn’t be able to get close without help. “Good idea. How’s your heat? I would definitely use a boost if you’re able.”
“I could go a while longer without venting coolant, but it’s running hot enough to give you that boost, ZP.” Majestrix said fondly. Then another thought struck her. “Zero? These flowbeast things, are they sentient?”
“Oh. That’s unfortunate then.”
Majestrix was setting up her coolant systems for the venting procedure, but her mind as on the start of the fight. “I can’t help but think this could have been avoided. If we hadn’t thought it was just a criminal taking a robot for a remote joyride, we might have tried communication instead of coming in guns blazing.”
Just then, Wrex extended and fired both plasma lances, matching their fire against Zero’s torrent of psychokinetic force. To that assault, it added a PSM blast from its mouth, finally overcoming the pressure of Zero’s attack and forcing her to dodge by flying up.
“I kind of think that ship has sailed,” she admitted to her mother, “If it was ever there. Flowbeasts are apparently pretty vicious and only learn to work with other sentient if they bond to their first host while really young and barely sentient themselves.”
Of all the skills she’d learned from growing up with adventurous superheros as parents, Zero was most thankful for ‘speed reading’ at the moment. Advanced first aid, wilderness survival and knife throwing (just in case her powers stopped working) were all useful, but right then, none of them would have helped her reassure her mother’s conscience with some authority.
Below, Wrex targeted Zero with its machine guns, retreating backward across the highway and toward the city behind. The buildings, it reasoned, would give it cover and possibly afford a place to hide and regroup against its foes.
Zero defended herself easily with a shield. “It might not matter thought if it keeps heading for the city: the Air Force will just blow it to bits.”
“Then we have to stop him from retreating.” Majestrix reasoned.
“But how do we do that?” asked Zero.
Inside the cabin of the Queen’s Gambit, Majestrix was busy rerouting power and changing her ammunition loading protocols. “By making him think he’s doing better in this fight than he is. Follow my lead, okay?”
With that, the Queen’s Gambit trundled back into the battle, firing a burst of machine gun fire. That burst only lasted a few seconds, however, before the ammo clips ran out, leaving the guns chattering away without anything happening.
The mecha raised the arm on which the guns were mounted in front of it, pantomiming someone checking a watch that seemed to stop ticking.
Wrex deduced what had happened instantly based on its own ammunition usage: the enemy had run out of firepower, or at least one type. Being an ambush predator, it couldn’t resist capitalizing on that moment of weakness.
“Terror!” It shouted what was swiftly becoming its war cry and barged toward the Queen’s Gambit, arming both plasma lances as it came.
Its focus, however, caused it to miss the field of ice that had formed on the road in front of it. At first, its heavy footsteps crushed the ice underfoot, but even then, the footing was trick at best. Wrex slipped and stumbled, now unable to check its forward momentum.
Majestrix stood her ground inside her mecha, raising the machine gun bearing arm ahead of her. With a few commands, she decoupled the magnetic bolts that kept the gun in place, allowing the weapons to drop from the arm with a pair of dull clanks. And with another, she started the conversion of the arm itself.
The barely articulated fist folded down, revealing a barrel while panels slip open to reveal vents or folded out into cooling fins that serviced the Queen’s Gambit’s anti-tank pulse cannon. Every watt of available power in the mecha’s circuits dumped into the cannon, as the same struts that dropped down to steady it for missile fire did so again.
Wrex tried to stop. It tried to bring its plasma lances to bear, but the bursts of red energy went wide, burning swathes out of the field instead. When it was clear nothing was going to keep it from being hit by the newly revealed weapon, it changed tactics and plunged forward, opening its maw wide.
It was less than ten feet away when the pulse cannon reached full charge and Majestrix fired.
The cannon unleashed a bolt of force that ripped off Wrex’s right plasma lance and tore out the missile rack on the same side. Wrex bellowed in mixed pain and rage, clamping its jaws down around the cannon’s housing and twisting. Its size advantage easily ripped the robotic appendage free of the chassis in a shower of sparks and hydraulic fluid.
Inside the Queen’s Gambit, Majestrix ignored the warning lights and klaxons going on all around her and focused on the task at hand: as far as she was concerned, she had Wrex right where she wanted it.
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