Just a moment after the key was turned there was a witness set apart from those within Archimedes, and while they experienced undue wonder she mostly felt nothing except for her desire to serve. Lindsey should have been terrified, horrified, not only in what she had already done but what she was doing. Yet she felt strangely at peace as the massive force field gave way and revealed the sprawling city of Archimedes.
It would have been entirely intimidating if it had been to her scale.
Under another set of circumstances it would have almost been whimsical, an entire functioning city scaled to dollhouse levels. The part of the city she entered was decidedly older and only the largest buildings managed to reach her hips. What wasn’t remotely whimsical was this was still a heavily populated point in the city which was reacting as you might expect to a colossal woman strolling through the streets.
Lindsey didn’t want to be here and she certainly didn’t want to be on a quasi-rampage. Her orders were clear enough, even if she didn’t understand any of the why behind it, but the haste put behind the order didn’t give her the luxury of being careful. Each of her steps tore into the pavement with her stride leaving craters and panic in her wake.
She could see the streets being evacuated but they had been packed when she arrived and the pace she was required to move at forced her into something just short of a run. Lindsey was trapped in her own body and the most terrifying thing was that no matter how logically horrified she was it felt good, and there was nothing she could do to stop herself or the despicable feeling. She could feel the impact of each footfall, she could hear screams cut off, but thankfully she could not see what she left in her wake. As her eyes were trained on largest building in the city, one of the few that actually towered over her the order very clear, she had some climbing to do.
Gold and Devson reached the chamber to find Mutatio waiting. He had made no attempt to flee, but at the same time showed no signs of triumph or signs of regret; the man only had unyielding sense of calm. The minister like most others in the city was in a mixture of bafflement as what to do next. She sat some distance in the corner. She was no longer a hostage and merely a witness.
It was Mutatio’s insufferable calmness that nearly drew Devson into a rage. Only the gold plated hand of Nicholas stopped the councilman from lunging at the usurper.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done?! Do you know how many lives you’ve put in peril?!”
Mutatio seemed to ignore him eyes instead trained on the Gold Standard.
“I hope you weren’t too harsh on Douglass, his heart was in the right place,” he calmly said to the hero.
“Are you even listening to me?!” The councilman thundered but was once again ignored.
“He just wanted to put this all into motion, just like myself, it had to be done and it’s too late to turn back now,” Mutatio continued unabated.
Devson was about to go into another tirade when Nicholas stood forward.
“Turn back from what?”
Mutatio smiled acknowledging the question causing the councilman to impotently bristle.
“There are enemies at the gates, there always have been, those who wanted this city wiped off the map and erased in its entirety.” He took a sip despondently from his champagne glass that through the chaos he had once again found. “They left us to die in here, to starve, to fight it out like savages until there wasn’t one of us left alive,” he raised a glass to the hero in a genuine salute.
“If it wasn’t for you and yours this city would have died and those outside would have their peace.”
“That’s not the whole story.” Devson hissed no longer attempting to talk to his young charge.
“It may not be the whole story but it is the outcome. What was a partnership died years ago and on your young watch I believe,” Mutatio said acknowledging Devson only to twist the knife before turning back to Gold. “As you did in the ‘bad old days’ we must take our salvation into our own hands.”
“You still haven’t said just what is coming through.”
“Can’t you hear it? No I doubt you even need too, I would assume you know what’s out in the city at this very moment.”
Elliot had patched the news feed to his father moments earlier. Nicholas knew not only what was in the city at this very moment, but where it was headed.
“But that’s not an anomaly, that’s not some monster, some accident, that’s the world outside of Archimedes now.”
The doctor nodded as he noticed the hero tense. “We face long odds my friend but we can very well strike back against them!” The passion once again returned to the Doctor’s face as he tried to implore Gold to action. “Indeed the plan is already in motion. In a week’s time Archimedes will be free of threats and you can go back to your retirement in peace.”
“And how many will die in that time Mutatio?” Devson said finding a hint of chilling calm. “Neutralizing threats? The entire damn world is a threat! Billions of individuals that can each wreck undue havoc on us all and you say this is something that will be resolved in a week?!”
The two stared at each other, what was once distant rumbles grew steadily louder as the giantess made her way ever onward to this building.
“I have my weapon,” Mutatio said. He did, and he didn’t mean the way he had been mentally manipulating others.
“She’s your slave right now.” Nicholas said with undisguised ire.
“Coming right out with it? A bit different from your strategy of pretending to know nothing.”
The rumbles had turned into detonations rocking the building more with each passing second.
“You know who I am and you know how I work,” Nicholas spoke in a way that left no room for dismissal. There wasn’t snarky side commentary from Elliot and there was no quick comeback from Mutatio. The doctor seemed to at least process the words and take them seriously.
“Believe me when I say that I want no one to come to harm…”
“People are already dead.”
Mutatio didn’t dismiss or deny the claim and he couldn’t just shake it off. It was more that the doctor absorbed it, took it into himself, just another sin for the docket. He was a man that acknowledged with all his soul that he was going to be damned before this was all over and couldn’t let the minor details of his sins stop him. “It’s for the greater good, but somehow I believe you’ve heard that before in your escapades.”
“Don’t talk about the greater good while there are corpses at your feet,” Nicholas spat.
The two stared even as the building began to shake. Mutatio’s expression could only be described as disappointment. “I don’t want to fight you.”
With the following tremor of the building Devson lost his balance. “We’re putting that shield back up until this is sorted out,” Nicholas said to the councilman.
Mutatio posture stiffened but he showed no other interest in the command. “You might find that difficult.” He gestured to the remains of an item on the floor and Devson paled further as he recognized it for what it was. “Devson may not have been able to do the deed all those years ago but I had no such hesitation. It’s now sink or swim gentlemen.”
The building shook further as the towering beauty no doubt arrived. Mutatio’s grim expression gave way to something of a grin, emboldened that Gold had not yet moved against him.
“I’m not going to lie this isn’t something I look forward to. The task I’m going to embark own will be perilous but it is one that must be taken. With your help Gold the chances of our survival, this city’s survival, would be in a far better place.”
“If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be in this place.” Devson practically whimpered. The foundations of the building groaned under a sudden new weight. Gold could see they were going to have a visitor very soon.
“Perhaps not now but it would have been soon and we would be on the defensive! This is our one chance! This-”Mutatio’s words died in his throat as Gold raised a glowing palm toward the doctor.
“Councilman, grab the minister and the device and head toward the center of the building. Our top priority is repairing that device.”
“So you will fight,” Mutatio’s voice was weak as if suffering some betrayal. Surrender though was not in the cards. “Just because I don’t want to fight you does not mean I won’t.”
Devson found some bravado now that he had backing once again. “Do you know who you’re talking to boy? Have you seen what he’s done to your lackeys?”
“Councilman, leave,” Gold said more sternly.
“Do you think that giant is coming here out of coincidence?! The only reason I haven’t acted is I have no idea how that thing is going to react if it slips out of his control!”
“You really don’t do you? And at this point I’d doubt you’d believe anything I have to say,” Mutatio said earnestly.
The building rocked and shook, cries of panic could be heard throughout the floor.
“You should help them you know. I meant what I said that I would vastly prefer not to fight you, and though it’s not my intention people could still very well get hurt.”
“Better to deal with the source right now rather than give you time to do anymore damage.”
“I don’t like your odds my friend,” Mutatio smiled sadly.
From there it all seemed to happen in slow motion. Devson was scrambling going to shake the minister from her stupor while at the same time scrambling for the device. Mutatio braced himself, not for what Gold would do but for what was coming. Gold watched the outward news feed and prepared himself.
Even logically knowing what he would face did little to prepare him for the real thing. With a sudden heave and lurch of the building he found himself staring into two titanic icy blue eyes, framed by a pretty young face larger than a billboard. Devson and the minister hadn’t made nearly enough progress, and suddenly stood frozen. The only one who could form a decisive thought was Mutatio; quite unfortunately for Devson.
“I want to show you something that I hope will cause you to reconsider.”
The glass windows exploded inward as her tanned fingers pushed through the glass and reached for the Councilman. Perhaps realizing what was to come he shoved the device into the Minister’s hands and pushed her forward just before those immense fingers gripped him.
“We face an overwhelming enemy, and we are quite fragile…”
“Don’t you dare!” Nicholas yelled though he knew his plea was in vain.
It all seemed to happen at once. Devson’s terror then acceptance, the fingers drawing the councilman into a gentle fist, Gold gathering the energy and then firing a blast at Mutatio willing to risk the will of a freed giant. In an instant his thoughts proved moot. Before the blast hit the doctor it met resistance as if slamming against an invisible wall two feet from the mad doctor’s frame.
“Did you really believe I would only steal one device for myself,” he said dryly. “Now onto the matter fragility.”
Devson shut his eyes, and Gold did the only thing that he could think of, aiming a blast at the giantess herself. Only to notice the obvious purple tint to her eyes the same that all those controlled shared. She was just another victim in all of this and for that reason Gold hesitated.
Her fist clinched tightly.
It was over in a heartbeat. The councilman died and the gore dripped through the giants’ fingers.
“For all the sins he committed against Archimedes, a just punishment.” He may have smiled it was impossible to tell as he was engulfed by the raw violent energy that Gold directed toward him. Mutatio’s shield once again served its purpose saving him from being torn asunder by the blast but the sheer force blew him back out of the entrance his giantess had made.
Seeing her master in danger the titanic beauty reached out to grab him buying Gold a moment’s reprieve. He went to where Devson’s body had been dropped however it only took a cursory glance to reveal there was nothing left to save.
“That wasn’t befitting a man your age,” Mutatio called from outside held aloft by his prisoner and weapon.
Any sympathy he had for her was put on hold as her massive fist punched through the wall a second time and tried to grab him. Nicholas managed to avoid her flailing grasp and threw himself through the opening. While she was clinging to the building he had the distinct mobility advantage and put some distance between them before another swipe could send him plummeting toward the pavement.
“How are evacuations coming?” The last thing he wanted to do was engage the titan only to send her sprawling into a crowd of civilians.
“The streets are clear but there’s no way of knowing for the surrounding buildings.” Elliot’s humor had departed entirely it had been awhile since he had an excuse to be that serious about anything. “You’re going to have to find a way to take her down. Those shields he’s using aren’t anything minor you’ll have to focus all your energy on him to bring him down.
“Or I can go focus on him from the start out and take out his mind control device.”
“And leave a giant, almost certainly pissed, woman in the middle of downtown.”
“According to you I’m going to have to take them both out anyway, so why not start with the one that deserves it?”
Elliot bit his lip. He had heard every word of the exchanges between Devson and Mutatio. Neither gave him the impression that the giantess in question was particularly friendly and he wasn’t eager to see what she would do with a degree of free will. Still it might just be easier to take than that shield than take down the giant. More so he could already sense a growing hesitation within his father. He had joked previously when he said his father was going soft, but it ‘had’ been years since he wore the suit. There might be truth to the statement, and if there was it could get him killed.
“We might not need to break the shield. If you can keep him occupied it might break his concentration and break his hold on her.”
“That I can work with.”
Mutatio looked as if he might have a few more placating words to say, but Nicholas quickly proved he wasn’t in a listening mood. Once again he rained down energy on the doctor’s shield, though now held in the palm of his slave there wasn’t as satisfying outcome this time around. Mutatio held his ground and he had the giant’s full protection. She let go of the tower and landed on the pavement below with enough force to cause a minor quake. Impressive though it may have been it didn’t make her any faster.
Like a bolt of lightning Gold struck from the sky impacting heavily against the Doctor’s shield and once again knocking him from her grasp. A brief moment of panic gripped Mutatio as even though they no longer reached the tower heights the fall was still a good six stories. His impact with the ground was only slightly less impressive than his giantess captive, and though the shield took most of the punishment both he and it were showing signs of strain.
Gold didn’t hesitate dodging another vicious swipe from the titan and then making a strafing run and the prone Mutatio. Though his mental grip on his behemoth slave never faltered, frustration began to gripping the Doctor as the shield began to thin and wane. For all his intellect combat was a new experience for him.
Like Douglass before him while Mutatio had the tools to be dangerous experience was another matter. Compared to Nicholas he was a hopeless novice. If the battle had solely been between the two of them it was doubtful it would have even been considered a fight. Indeed Douglass may have proven a more capable challenge.
But this was hardly a one on one fight.
Because of the great divide in speed and mobility the giantess had played little more than a distraction to Nicholas’ efforts but, no doubt on Mutatio’s orders, she suddenly draped her body as productive human shield over the doctor. The concussive energy that had been raining down on her master she now took the brunt of, and though her ponderous size took it far better than a normal person would there was no doubt the resulting defense caused her a great deal of pain.
If he ignored it, with her sacrificing herself for Mutatio, he could incapacitate her and focus on the doctor. With a normal person he had more than enough experience to differentiate between what was enough to take down and what was enough to kill, but with her…
He was not so perfect where he could claim he had never taken a life, there had been times when he truly felt there had been no other way, and those moments haunted him. If he kept this up he wouldn’t just be taking a life but a hostage’s life. It was only a moment’s hesitation on Nicholas’ part, a moment where he his mind was on the victim and not the perpetrator. It however was enough.
The backhand from her wasn’t precise but with her size it didn’t need to be. She only grazed him but it felt like being clipped by a bus. The gold armor tumbled through the air struggling to stay aloft while idly aware that Elliot was screaming in his ear. When Nicholas finally righted himself it was just in time to see a fist nearly as tall as him, and twice as wide, barreling down on him. He braced himself but he might as well have braced for a building falling on top of him.
There was blackness, pain, and a sense of acceptance. Incessantly that voice in his ear persisted, growing louder and more impatient before stopping all together. It was the silence that finally drove him awake and despite his body’s wishes he opened his eyes. His body wasn’t broken, the armor took care of that, but it was bruised and quite heavily in fact. He looked up into the incredulous face of the giantess.
She was pretty, he thought in the midst of his delirium, the face of someone who worked long hours but one that could still have fun later. He held no ill will toward her, no hatred in his heart; he reserved that for the man on her shoulder.
“It should never have ended this way. Not in my darkest dreams.” Mutatio sounded sincere but he made no effort to help.
“I have to ask you a question and I need a sincere response. Would you still attempt to stop me if you could?” There was concern in his words, pain in those words. It wasn’t an act, not an illusion. Mutatio genuinely cared about his about the answer. So the half beaten hero answered with a smile.
Mutatio bowed his head as if to hide his expressions to the world. “Indeed, I am sorry then.”
The next fist came like some ill-founded divine judgment. There was no bruising this time more like a mass break that left Nicholas mind reeling as the pain took hold of his sanity. He lived only due to the armor and even then, with all his engineering prowess, he could not have foreseen having to take so much abuse. Another blow would likely kill him.
Nicholas wasn’t going to be able to escape. I figured Elliot would be right. He had been tempting fate just by putting the suit on again. It looked like this would be the last time.
Over the pounding of his skull he could he the repeating beat of gunfire. A distraction no doubt from a now mobilized police unit, they no doubt were not going to be as soft hearted and foolish as he was, but from experience he could tell just from the sound that they weren’t firing with anything with enough oomph to bring her down.
A distracted, almost numb voice commanded she scatter them and with a profound crash and a rising cry the gunfire quickly stopped.
Nicholas tried to force himself to his feat but struggled to even keep his eyes open. He was embedded in concrete, a crater of the giant’s making. His suit angrily sparked, only hitting at the internal damage it suffered. While his ribs screamed bloody murder at even the thought of rising.
High above the giantess face appeared in the hole she had made. Out of time Nicholas realized. He looked into the possessed gaze of the giant, and thought even though it led him here that he still felt an undeniable pity toward her. He tried to work his mouth, maybe give her a degree of reassurance, maybe a final quip. All too late he realized.
“I hope you’re not giving up already after the trouble I’m going through!”
“No, no, no…one second.”
Mutatio suddenly came alert, the giantess head turned to her left to see the new threat only for a brilliant blue blur to knock her violently out of view.
Floating above a sudden swell of pride practically blocked all the pain away. Seeing the blue and gold armor years in the making finally out in the world, and far more important was the man inside who dared to wear it.
“When we’re on the clock call me Dynamo.”