The legend of a warrior; Chapter 64: Pick Up The Pieces

Story by Killer Tiger on SoFurry

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#64 of The legend of a warrior

New chapter is out. A very long one, but the series of events it includes required unity. I did not feel like separating the events over multiple chapters.

Heaven has crumbled. The universe itself is changing. Things will never be the same again. In the middle of the smoldering ruins, it is time to...

Chapter 64 - Pick up the pieces

Shi walked slowly around the inner core of Killer. His breath was ragged and fatigued, one of his arms was reduced to little more than a warped twig, rigid and fragile, not useful for much at all. One of his eyes was gone, reduced to a pulp in his socket, as one whole half of his head was effectively crushed on itself, out of shape. It was like half of his skull was gone, and there were just some skin, a small cheek and a deformed eye socket left. He dragged one leg behind himself, the limb reduced to a similar, miserable state. He snarled in pain and rage as he stumbled in the darkness, almost falling over. He went down to his knee and turned back with a growl, his healthy arm morphed into a sword... but he only saw bones and a cracked skull on the floor. He had tripped into them, but they weren't a danger.

He straightened slowly, once more trying to use magic to form a floating sphere of light to illuminate the path, but once more his attempt was frustrated, as the thick darkness swallowed the light in an instant. It seemed like he would only experience pitch black darkness, in that cold emptiness. There was no clear cue about where Killer's core might be... no sign of where his control lay. Shi needed to find the "levers" of Killer's mind to take over his body. "Now you look like shit, Killer... but I've seen you in action. You will regenerate and heal. This body can take as much abuse as it can dish out... and that's saying a hell of a lot." The parasite muttered, before grinning slyly, gazing at his shriveled arm as it slowly rebuilt itself. It was still an arm good only for a scarecrow dummy, but it was slowly growing anew, absorbing energies from the environment. "I must thank you, Killer... you are filled with such astonishing energy, that it will take just a little to rebuild my body. Using the Sun's energies would have required so much more precious time." The silvery monster cackled, sneering as he closed his eyes for a moment and savored the thick, immense power saturating the air. He had just seen Killer absorb a black hole. He had seen him fight back the gods and force Gaia into submission. And he had been crushed almost out of existence by Killer's immense cock. Shi repressed a shiver that was caused by fear as much as by lust: the power of this massive, muscular, virile body was unlike anything he had ever possessed in the past, or even just craved or dreamt of. Taking over Killer's body and power was going to make him invincible, Shi was sure of that. He knew about how Killer's energies had been Sealed away by the gods when the liger had been born, and even more importantly, he knew that not all the Seals had been broken yet.

He laughed, licking his lips as he mused: "As impressive as it is now... there is still so much more to unleash... the possibilities are endless. This power... it... it might be literally limitless." Shi cackled, kicking another skull abandoned on the rocky floor, sending bones bursting into clouds of dust, and others flying into the air. Killer had been able to absorb a freaking black hole into himself, and add it to his power, after all: if he could do that, what limit could he ever have? He could probably absorb any enemy and obstacle and just grow even stronger.

"Once I'm in charge of this body, I will know how to use it to best effect... I will get rid of the final Seals, and nothing and no one will ever be able to stand up to me again." Shi purred, grinning in anticipation as he tasted the mighty, incandescent energies in the air. Now that he was inside him, Shi was more convinced than ever that Killer was stupid and fearful: how would he not have snapped all the Seals already? The energies inside him were immense, and those godly chains must have felt as weak as strings in comparison. The parasite sure wasn't going to have the hesitations and fears of the liger: he was going to put all that power to use, to gain even more.

The silvery monster finally emerged on top of a small dune, uncertain about why the ground was littered with skeletons and remains of torn-apart people. He had been inside uncountable mortals, supernatural beings and even gods, but each was its own story: no person was identical to another, he could vouch on that without hesitation. The most likely explanation for the mountains of bones and corpses was that they were the physical visualization of Killer's past victims. Probably those that he most regretted killing.

Shi snorted, making a grimace at that realization, kicking another bunch of bones flying, thinking of what an unacceptable weakness remorse was. He had no remorse. He did not regret killing all those he slaughtered, and even less he cared for those he had possessed in the past, and used until they had no more to give. He regretted nothing... and for sure he was not going to let any fear or remorse get in the way when taking over Killer's body.

Shi shivered instinctively as he advanced through the darkness, walking towards a distant glow which seemed to be located on top of a tall, steep hill. He walked towards this, both scared and excited by the fact that the more he advanced, the stronger the energies in the air got. There was such power all around him that it was hard to breathe, and energy crackled painfully around him as he moved, the temperature steadily rising and becoming almost unbearable as he began to climb the side of the hill.

There was also a deep, powerful sound now, a rumble that rattled the earth under his feet, a growl that filled his ears and made his brain hurt as it invaded his head. Shi wasn't sure what it was, but he swallowed nervously and smiled weakly at the same time: he gulped because such a potent voice could mean huge trouble, and he smiled because he was sure it meant he was going in the right direction.

Shi also frowned in surprise and confusion as he realized that, under the thick coat of bones and skulls and accumulated dirt and dust, was actually a stepped pyramid, not a hill. He was climbing up its enormous steps, faced by a sloped wall on each level, making his ascension painful and complicated, with how badly damaged his body was.

It took him a long time, but finally he emerged on top of the pyramid, grunting in pain as he lifted himself up with his only working arm, narrowing his eyes with a snarl as the light he had chased now almost blinded him. He blinked a few times, letting his eyes adapt to all that luminosity after having walked through the darkest of nights for so long... and finally his vision adjusted, and he gaped a bit as he realized that the light was coming from the flames of godly energy burning around thick, car-sized metallic links of a gigantic chain which stretched from the pyramid to far ahead and above, up in the darkness.

"One of the remaining Seals, no doubt..." Shy mumbled, using one hand to shield his eyes from all that light as he turned to look in the distance, out to the side. When his eyes adjusted, he saw the ruins of several more pyramids which had been shattered, the chains torn apart, their broken links no longer shining with energy, but reduced to mere metallic junk.

The pyramids were arranged in a wide circle, it seemed... and far in the distance, there was a second chain which glowed brightly with energy. Only two Seals remained, but Shi was barely able to take notice of the detail as he stumbled backwards with a squeal of awe and terror, nearly falling on his ass as he craned his head back to look upwards, so far high above, following the length of the enormous chain.

Something immense, colossal, titanic loomed above the pyramids. He couldn't quite see the details in the darkness, but he could clearly see the two glowing chains, wrapped several times around what clearly was a muscular, godlike torso, a chest which dwarfed the mountains, a bulky, broad body which gloriously bulged with power and strength, radiating omnipotence, crushing him with waves of virility and might. Shi gaped, unable to guess how immense that chest was, how impossibly massive the powerful torso was. It would have dwarfed planets, that was definite. He could make out some more details thanks to the fiery, incandescent light coming from immense, proud horns and deadly spikes, the latter jutting out of the tremendous beast's joints. Curved, enormous horns framed the head and pointed to the tip of a strong, masculine muzzle, while some three further pairs of gigantic bull horns formed an intricate demoniac crown which commanded submission and awe. Two enormous, forward-bent spikes jutted out of the back of the monstrosity, framing his head regally and making him look even more gigantic and unstoppable... and the parasite felt his mouth go dry as the glowing knee spikes allowed him to spy a pair of flaccid but already impossibly titanic cocks, resting one on top of the other, in front of heavy, low-hanging, impossible testicles bulging with pure power, their mass literally dwarfing entire planets. Two spiked tails stretched out to impossible distance, far beyond what Shi could see... and he swallowed thickly as he realized that the complete darkness was actually the beast's immeasurable shadow, extending seemingly over the whole universe, especially with the immensity of the black wings spreading from the monster's back.

It left Shi gaping in awe, the parasite panting in a mix of terror and arousal, realizing what was about to be his... and he laughed maniacally as he suddenly realized that the world-shattering, deep rumble which was almost breaking his skull into pieces was actually simply the beast's breath, the monster sleeping and yet rattling reality. There was no telling what indescribable destruction those immense muscles could have caused, with the slightest of flexes... and Shi licked his lips, his head filling with glorious visions of himself, in Killer's body, ruling over all dimensions, walking over entire worlds like they were nothing but specks of dust, crushing divinities under his cock, trapping them under his foreskin, in a supreme demonstration of superiority and omnipotence.

"Impressive, huh...?" A voice calmly mused, and Shi's eyes bulged in surprise, the parasite turning back with a snarl, his sword-arm held up in a ready position.

Killer didn't seem impressed at all, however, the liger sitting on one of the immense links of the Seal's chain, looking down at Shi with a smirk. "Please, Shi... I already squashed you inside Gaia's core and out in the physical world. You are damaged, and I can assure you that inside my own mind, you have no prayer at all." The huge male liger teased, looking amused as he softly added: "My mind, my home turf, my rules. Here I'm not just stronger than you... I'm the perfect ten, and you are the zero."

"You are damaged too." Shi coldly replied, grinning viciously as he remembered: "It was a pleasure to see your skull and smell the stench of your burned flesh. Thanathos did work you over pretty well."

"I'm recovering." Killer replied calmly, shrugging a bit and smiling softly. "Even as damaged as I am right now, I can still squash you without effort. Put me to the test, if you don't trust my word."

The parasite looked at him in disbelief, offended by his relax and calm, the monster gritting his teeth and snarling as he charged forwards, stabbing his sword-arm towards Killer's face. The liger however only pushed one hand up, and squeezed the blade between two fingers, blocking it inches away from his eyes and shaking his head slowly, clicking his lips in disapproval. "So you don't trust my word... I'm a man of my word, and I find it highly offensive that you doubt of it."

Shi snarled, forcing some of his body mass to shift into the blade to lengthen it, the sword shooting forwards... but Killer swung his arm out to the side, and sent the sword wide off target, Shi crashing down to the floor. The parasite immediately tried to dissolve his body down into liquid, anticipating a follow-on strike... but he grunted in shock as nothing happened, his eyes darting from side to side as he looked at his arms, his body staying solid, before he glared up at Killer as the liger calmly said: "I'm afraid you won't be able to pull your liquid tricks in here. As I said, my rules. And I absolutely hate it when I don't have something solid to punch."

"How...?" Shi snarled, pushing back up to his feet and trying to slash the sword against Killer, but the liger was still easily holding the blade trapped between two fingers, and he now snapped the sword in half, his enormous bicep barely flexing. Shi stumbled backwards with a cry of pain as the severed tip of the sword fell to the floor with a metallic clang... and there remained, dead and useless. Normally, it would have broken down into goo and sought to rejoin his body, but now he panted breathlessly in pain and terror, realizing that every piece he lost now wasn't going to come back. "It is impossible... you don't have this strong a mind, you are a simple, arrogant idiot... no one ever managed to negate my abilities..."

"My arrogance helps, in this case." Killer softly replied, smirking slightly as he almost playfully settled one foot on Shi's face, easily knocking him down into the floor and pinning him there, the slightest flex of his muscular leg crushing the parasite into the thick pile of ancient bones beneath, Shi grunting in pain as ribs and other skeleton parts pushed into his back. "I might have a simple mind... but it is a rather solid, and an exceptionally stubborn one. And there are a few unbreakable rules, in here. No one gets to be stronger than me in any way, here."

Shi snarled in rage and humiliation, pushing against the liger's thick toes as Killer mockingly ground his foot down on the parasite's face, crushing him down into the ground like he was the butt of a spent cigarette. The silvery monster struggled as hard as he could, gripping into Killer's talons and toes and pushing with all his strength... but it was all for nothing. He couldn't even get the little toe to twitch or budge it at all.

"Everyone has weaknesses. Everyone has inner struggles. I just need to find yours, and use them against you. I was taking over the mind of gods Eons before you were born, Killer..." Shi spat, gritting his teeth as he seized one toe in both hands and pushed against it with all his might, kicking his feet up into the massive muscles of the liger's leg.

Killer ignored the pathetic struggling, instead making a grimace as he muttered: "I have inner struggles far worse than those within most people, Shi. But I don't think they will be of any use to you." The huge male looked up at the immense sleeping beast, making a bit of a grimace as he thought about the risks. He had had relatively little time to plan things out, and he wasn't completely sure about how Black Killer would react to the presence of Shi... if his inner nemesis decided to empower Shi in any way, or even worse treat him as an ally, he was in horrible, horrible trouble. It was a tremendous risk that he had accepted to run, because he was convinced that Black Killer wouldn't want anything to do with the parasite. And now Killer watched towards the edge of the pyramid, convinced that they were about to find out if his assumption had been correct.

Shi frowned, then grinned widely, somehow understanding that his chance was coming, the parasite beginning to laugh as he felt the vibrations of heavy, powerful steps coming closer, throwing his head back so he could look invertedly towards the end of the pyramid.

The parasite all but cackled victoriously as Black Killer walked out of the shadow, climbing onto the top square with a wide grin on his muzzle: the sight of this dark behemoth filled Shi with joy, because his body was even taller and bigger than Killer's, and the newcomer looked both more powerful and more reckless, cruel in his arrogant superiority, in his awareness of his astonishing power level.

"So, that one is the feared Shi...?" Black Killer asked, tilting his head towards the silvery monster pinned to the floor. Killer nodded, and the black-furred giant snorted in contempt, crossing his arms on his chest and shaking his head slowly. "Only a bunch of duffers could let a vermin like that survive for Eons to feed on someone else's power and cause trouble. Lord God must be a real pansy, for failing to eradicate this pathetic pest."

Shi gaped a bit at this, looking offended and shocked, but not daring to react yet, uncertain of what to expect from Black Killer. Like it or not, he depended entirely on the choices of the dark-furred behemoth, and he could not risk turning him into an enemy.

Killer snorted in amusement instead, looking down at Shi for a moment before explaining: "He doesn't look like much right now, but he is dangerous... and almost unkillable. Destroying him isn't a problem... but he always pieces himself back together."

Black Killer rolled his eyes in his head and huffed dismissively, snorting: "Because he was on your side of Reality, and in there you are all pansies. It wouldn't have lasted a minute, against me." The giant paused, then lightly kicked Shi in the face, making the parasite groan loudly in pain, his muzzle crushed inwards and broken into crumbles of bones. "This is your last stop, bitch. You are not leaving this body... and, most definitely, you are not going to control it."

Shi scrambled in terror at this, forcing his mouth open even as silvery blood burst out of his devastated face as he gargled: "No, no... don't hurry your judgment... I... I can help you, I can put you in control. We can... work together..." He kept painfully babbling out more promises, his tone becoming one of begging as he looked up pleadingly at the dark giant.

"I didn't think you'd be able to make yourself look even more pathetic. But amazingly, you managed." Black Killer coldly hissed, grimacing in distaste down at the parasite. "You are completely insane if you expect me to share the power. Mad, if you think I'd ever want anything to do with a microbe like you."

"Thought so." Killer said, grinning widely as he gave a bit of a nod of approval. "I was sure I could count on your pride."

"We are no different when it comes to that, huh...? I will grant you that much." Black Killer mused, smirking in amusement before pointing a finger against Killer. "I don't need any help to take over. Especially not that of a frigging parasite. I only have to wait for the right moment, and then I'll get rid of you."

"Yeah, yeah, I know..." Killer huffed, rolling his eyes with a grimace as he stood up, crushing Shi under his foot before stepping off him, looking down at the parasite with an expression of cold hate. "Now I plan to get a few answers out of this guy."

"Enjoy yourself." Black Killer muttered, turning his back on them and walking away, only pausing for an instant before descending the first step of the pyramid, adding: "Just make sure that you put the damn thing out of my sight, afterwards."

"No, no...!" Shi howled, rolling over onto his belly and crawling towards Black Killer, his eyes wide with panic as he stretched a hand out towards the giant: "Don't turn your back on this chance... I can make you stronger, and give you control..."

Black Killer only snorted in irritation, walking down the pyramid and soon vanishing in the darkness, leaving Shi broken and trembling in shock on the floor, before the parasite squeaked in surprise and fear as thick, powerful tentacles stretched up out of the stone floor to wrap around his limbs and waist, lifting him into the air and forcefully immobilizing him.

Killer walked in front of the silvery monster, crossing his powerful arms on his chest, his eyes glowing a deep sapphire as he coldly watched the tentacles' coils squeeze down on the deformed body of the parasite, before he calmly said: "I suggest you answer my questions, without tricks and without hesitations. Waste my time, and you will pay for it in tears and blood."

"Fuck you!" Shi snarled, struggling against the tentacles holding him, jerkins his arms back and forth to try and tear them free of the thick coils of the black-fleshed appendages, but these only clamped down with greater force, sprouting with cruel blades and spikes which tore into Shi's body. The parasite howled in agony at this, his eyes going wide as he started to bleed... and he shook his head in disbelief, tears rolling down his cheeks as he vomited a thick gout of blood and inner fluids, his chest heaving rapidly as he looked down in horror at his maimed limbs. "What... how..." Shi muttered, panting hard, and Killer grinned in dark amusement, clawing into the parasite's chest and pushing his fingers deep down through the flesh, before tearing his ribcage open like he was unwrapping a piece of candy.

"My rules, remember...?" Killer teased, looking down into the chest of the parasite, forcing the ribs outwards until they snapped, the monster howling in agony and trashing violently, his organs exposed, his eyes staring in shock down at his own beating heart. "I thought that it was time for you to discover what it is like to have a solid body, of bones, flesh and organs. Am I not generous...? You've been forced to use those of others for all your life, now you have your own."

"You insolent bastard!" Shi snarled, arching his back and throwing all his strength against the tentacles, but it was all for nothing, and he suddenly froze as he felt a new thick, enormous tentacle push against his ass, realizing with horror that he now had an asshole too, and already feeling it hurt as the gigantic appendage pushed teasingly in. "No... no..."

"Oh, yes, instead..." Killer coldly replied, grinning widely, and the immense tentacle-cock rammed its way deep into the parasite's ass, sending out a thick splatter of blood as his muscles were torn and his flesh stretched out savagely, his guts pushed almost out of his chest as a gigantic bulge became visible inside him, Shi crying out in agony.

"This is all new for you, isn't it...? You used to have no organs and no sex. You were a shapeshifting agglomerate of genetic material, or some other sci-fi crap like that?" Killer asked, resting his chin on one hand and looking down thoughtfully at the crying, now-male creature.

"Y...yes." Shi replied, drool flying from his mouth as he was bounced violently by the ferocious thrusting of the gigantic tentacle-cock, the appendage surging out of the ground and now joined by a second gigantic member, which whip-lashed brutally down upon the parasite's little dick and balls, causing the silvery creature to howl in new and even worse anguish. The tentacles, however, relented to let Shi speak, as Killer listened with interest.

"I... I'm ancient. A product of the Creation process... genetic material which wasn't used to form other life-forms, but which coagulated into a shapeshifting, organ-less parasite. I do not need to invade a body to survive... but I've always lusted for greater power, and for greater completion. I wasn't male or female, I hadn't a clear purpose, and I... I craved for all what other life forms had. The mortals never caught my eye... I was far, far stronger and better than them in every way. But the gods... the gods I could envy. I wanted their power, their bodies, their everything." Shi hurriedly explained, his eyes full of tears as the tentacle in his ass continued to piston in and out, albeit slowly. Its enormous girth and tremendous flexibility made it a forceful, devastating invader even without particular speed being used.

"You were around at the time of Creation...?" Killer asked, amazed and full of curiosity... but Shi hurriedly answered: "Technically, yes. But for a long time I existed only as rather primitive organic matter... I have no real memories of what happened then, my consciousness took some time to develop. I remember only that the very first particles of life, which evolved into the gods which then shaped the universes, were pieces of Light and Darkness, the two Absolutes, which cut themselves apart in their never-ending struggle."

Killer nodded, trying to hide his awe in front of that revelation. The gods, with all their power, with all their might and wisdom and possibilities, were only pieces of gore, the blood and cells and flesh of the two absolute beings, Light and Darkness. Their clash, their indescribable duel, had been the beginning of everything.

"What happened to Light and Darkness, then...?" Killer asked, swallowing a bit as he remembered that Azura's prophecy about him specifically mentioned the two Absolutes.

"Haven't Vesta and Ira instructed you about the basics...?" Shi spat, looking amazed by the ignorance of such a question... but as Killer gripped into his exposed guts, crushing several roles into bloody mush, the parasite groaned and hurriedly explained: "Light and Darkness destroyed each other in their duel. The massive explosion that caused their final, mutual annihilation is what started the growth and evolution of the Dimensions. The immense energies released also filled the pieces of gore floating in the emptiness of space... and those evolved into the gods. In the Eons that followed, the gods took hold of evolution, bending it to their will, creating their own worlds and universes, founding their clans and families, and giving life to the mortals."

Killer nodded, even if he made a bit of a grimace, having hoped to learn something more. But even Shi, it seemed, did not have the answers. Killer, however, now couldn't shake Azura's prophecy out of his head, the words taking on a whole new weight in his eyes.

His power is such, he does not fear the gods

Separated in Light and Darkness,

Reunited in one body,

The world will end

And thanks to him start again

In just one day

He paused, then let out his breath and decided to put forwards his question, looking into Shi's eyes to judge whether he would reply honestly or not, speaking calmly and slowly, feeling somewhat stupid but at the same time entirely convinced that he had to ask."Do you think that the dark guy you saw a moment ago... might be darkness? A projection of Darkness, maybe...? A different being entirely, instead of just a part of my personality?"

Shi hesitated for a moment, swallowing a bit and looking away from Killer's eyes, before he snorted as he turned back to stare up at him angrily, icily wording his judgment: "You overestimate yourself way too much. Maybe you even think to be Light...! You are just disturbed, and your personality is split down the middle, that's all."

Killer let out a sound of agreement, but slightly tinged with irony. His doubts were far from dispelled, and he was tempted to say Shi was right... but at the same time, he trusted Azura. The goddess was convinced that he was the Amon-Ra, and he now was convinced he had a better understanding of what her words meant. Besides, Shi had hesitated for way too long, and his gaze, while firm, had been empty, devoid of emotion, a poker face built with so much effort to become evident. The liger considered for a moment whether he should insist, but he discounted the idea immediately: the most he could get, even torturing him, would be an opinion only, and that was not worth his time. He still squeezed into the ropes of the parasite's guts, however, blood splattering up his arm as he crushed and tore several long stretches of intestine, causing Shi to trash violently, groaning in agony.

"You are not being sincere, Shi..." Killer calmly said, smiling coldly as he ripped one long rope of intestine out of him, putting it in his mouth and beginning to chew slowly on the raw meat, looking down at the parasite with cruel amusement as Shi trashed and kicked uselessly at the air, groaning in pain. Killer took another couple of long coils of guts, and pulled them out slowly, easily wrapping them around Shi's neck and using them to choke him lightly, almost playfully. "I won't give you another warning. Don't try and mess with me."

The parasite howled in pain and helpless rage, before biting what remained of his bloody, shattered lips as he pleaded: "Okay, okay... just... stop. I'll answer your questions."

"Good." Killer said, nodding slightly, his gargantuan, flaccid but beyond-enormous black shaft flexing and jumping a bit, growing perhaps five inches in just that powerful throb. The liger wasn't aroused, and hadn't any interest for Shi... but he was nonetheless enjoying the power, the absolute control he held over his plaything, and his body thrummed with vigor and strength. Shi, on the other hand, was rock-hard, and he panted harshly, his eyes wide open as he saw Killer's gigantic shaft flex and bounce gloriously. Shi's dick was a 22 inches cannon of silvery flesh, yet it looked absolutely puny and insignificant in front of Killer's flaccid behemoth, four times the length and enormously thicker. It made the parasite groan in a mix of awe, envy and hate and fear, a couple of tears rolling down his cheeks: he had been so close to having all that...!

"Was it Sikanjal that got you out of your prison?" Killer asked, and Shi scrambled to immediately reply, nodding quickly and explaining: "Yes, it was her. She was badly damaged, from an earlier fight against you, I think... but she was nonetheless more than strong enough to shatter the crystals holding me. I had been hibernated inside the crystal for Eons... but I still did not feel any gratitude towards her, before you even ask. I considered taking over her body and her immense, delicious powers... but even damaged as she was, it was easy to see that I did not have any chance. Her mind is sealed and shielded in an amazing way. She, Alexis and Thanathos are probably the only beings I could never hope to invade. Their minds are just unassailable."

Killer nodded, crossing his arms on his chest as he slowly chewed on the parasite's rope of intestine, blood streaking down his thick muzzle and dripping onto his arms. It left Shi staring up at him in terrified awe, the parasite trembling and spasming in pain but even more so in fear of what the behemoth would do to him next: the sight of the giant, muscular god looming over him was terrifying, and the fact that Killer was naked only made it worse, because the parasite felt even more hopelessly outclassed and outgunned at the sight of the liger's huge balls and god-shaming cock.

"What did she order you to do? Take over Gaia, destroy the Divine Tree...?" Killer enquired, his voice calm and almost soft. It was no weakness, it was strength and domination: he was completely in control... and the softness in his voice made Shi tremble, compelling him more than any threat. Killer did not need harshness and dirty talking, his presence and undeniable power were more than convincing enough. The calm in his voice merely reinforced Shi's awareness that if he tried to react in any way, he would be tortured and devastated in the most horrible of ways.

"She said nothing about Gaia... she wanted me to hurt you, in your affections as well as in the physique. She wanted me to capture you, dead or alive. She said she preferred you alive, but said that your dead body would still be enough." Shi explained, and Killer frowned, interrupting him: "Enough for what?"

"I have no idea." Shi replied, but once more he wasn't being fully honest. Killer's eyes narrowed as he realized that the parasite did not know the actual answer, but definitely had an idea of his own, on the other hand... and the liger slapped his enormous flaccid cock atop the far smaller genitals of the parasite, Shi trashing violently and screaming out in terrible anguish as both of his testicles burst apart under the heavy slap, the two orbs shattering in a splatter of blood and gore and ichors, leaving the silvery creature sobbing in a kind of pain he had never even imagined before.

"You do have an idea." Killer softly said, as Shi panted raggedly and his eyes rolled up in his skull, the parasite crying weakly as he hang from the tentacles holding him, held aloft by the thick appendage that was continuing to brutally rape his ass.

"I have two." Shi muttered, closing his eyes with a hiss of pain as he spat: "Had I known it would hurt this bad, I would have focused all my attacks earlier today on your fuckin' balls."

"Mine are far stronger than yours, bitch." Killer easily replied, looking darkly amused. "The other idea...?"

"I think I understood what she wants out of you... I got it when I saw you absorb that damn black hole. She wants to find out how you do crap like that. She wants to learn how; she wants to rip the means out of your body, in whatever way necessary, and gain that ability herself. You seem to be able to overcome and assimilate everything, and just get stronger and stronger. It is an ability that makes you potentially limitless, a perfect machine of destruction which could grow ever more powerful with every passing moment." Shi finally grumbled, spitting a thick mouthful of blood and drool onto the floor, trying to avoid Killer's glowing eyes. "How I know it...? I know because it is what I wanted to discover as well, right after I saw you doing that."

"Guess it makes sense." Killer grumbled. It was what Killer himself suspected. Already after their clash at the wall, after seeing him absorbing the deadly Unworld residue to turn it into empowering energy, Sikanjal had wanted to acquire such unique, fearsome ability. "You've been incredibly stupid, Shi, thinking that you could just get into me and take control." Killer added, smirking slightly as he looked down at the parasite. "You think that Sikanjal would free you and send you my way if she had even a single doubt that you might be able to take control of me?"

Shi gaped a bit at that, his eyes staring at him for a long moment... before the parasite slumped in the hold of the tentacles, and growled angrily against himself, mumbling darkly: "Yes, I should have known. She... she was certain that whatever I might accomplish, she would still have the power to take away the conquests for herself. She knew all along what would happen..."

"What about Gaia and the Divine Tree?" Killer urged, tapping his fingers on his huge bicep, and the parasite sighed before dejectedly explaining: "Gaia was my choice. I knew I needed a power far greater than mine, in order to capture you, and destroy the Divine Tree like Sikanjal ordered. Gaia was the best, and possibly the only choice I had: immensely powerful, yet vulnerable due to her split personality. She's always been torn between her two natures... so I knew I would have an ally to exploit. As a bonus, I knew it would hurt you like hell if I took her away, and you would have pulled back your punches in any fight against her."

"A good plan." Killer coldly recognized, but what he really wanted to understand was what the Divine Tree had been hiding, and why Sikanjal wanted it destroyed. "So, do you know what that obelisk was, into the Holy Tree...? Was it the real target?"

"I have to assume it was, after seeing what happened when it was broken. But I had no idea there was anything within the Holy Tree. I always thought it was just a giant tree, planted and nourished by that big pansy of Lord God." Shi replied, and this time Killer had no doubt he was sincere. However, it made him curse under his breath as it left him no answer to his doubts and fears. He was already thinking of the after: there might be more of those obelisks all over Heaven, perhaps even elsewhere, and he had no idea where to find them. If Sikanjal knew where to find them, and wanted to destroy them all, things could have gotten very horrible very quickly.

"Who does Sikanjal work for...?" Was the question that followed a moment later, when Killer returned his glare towards the parasite. Shi, however, only made a grimace and shook his head slowly.

"I have no idea. The Holy Tree didn't seem to interest her directly... I got the feeling that her masters sent her after the tree, but she clearly had other things in mind. Like, healing, regenerating, and getting enhanced with both mechanical and magic systems, for what I could gather. I'll tell you what... she is clearly following the orders of someone. But at the same time, she only serves her own interests, and will break out of her masters' leash as soon as she sees a chance."

Killer nodded in easy agreement, but without any enthusiasm, as once again Shi failed at providing the details he craved. His words added nothing to his own assessment of the situation... and so he yawned and stretched lazily, before he calmly said: "End of the questions. You haven't been particularly useful... but not completely useless either."

"End... of the questions...?" Shi babbled, his eyes widening as he looked up in fear. "What will you do to me, now...?"

"That's a good question." Killer easily replied, grinning slightly as he took a step back. The tentacles tightened their grip on Shi's body, sending splatters of blood exploding out of him as he cried out in pain... before he was bounced savagely as the tentacle-cock pistoning its way into his ass picked up speed and power, beginning to slam brutally in and out, invading his body deeper and tearing through his guts. Shi looked down in horror to see the tentacle-cock invading his torn-open chest, the gigantic cockhead slamming painfully into his beating heart, making him howl in agony and fear.

"You have answered my questions, so you probably don't deserve to be torn apart, right now. But with all the pain you've caused, and with what you did to Gaia, you are beyond forgiveness. You will stay here, inside me... and you will be consumed and absorbed until you are completely gone. I think it is the right end for a parasite like you." Killer coldly worded his sentence, and Shi listened with wide open eyes, his mouth gaping as he shook his head in terrified denial, struggling uselessly against the tentacles and screaming as yet more appendages tore their way out of the ground and began to wrap all over him, encasing him in a prison of hot, strong, virile flesh, beginning to drag him down into the floor. "No, no, no! No, you can't do this...! You can't! Stop it, stop it...!" Shi howled, snarling and roaring and struggling, but all he did was amuse the liger further, the tentacles way too strong for him to break free of their deadly embrace.

Killer looked down at the parasite with coldness, standing like a statue of stone, arms crossed on his chest as Shi slowly vanished from sight, a tangle of tentacles hiding him and eventually silencing his screams, before the thick appendages retreated into the ground, leaving no sign at all.

Consuming him and absorbing him was the only assured way to kill Shi: as a shapeshifting, amorphous mass of organic matter with a brain spanning across each and every molecule, the parasite truly was almost impossible to kill. As long as a few, or perhaps even a single molecule survived, Shi could slowly rebuild himself. It would take a long time, but he would regenerate himself by absorbing energy and organic material from the environment.

Killer had badly damaged Shi when inside Gaia, and much of his original organic material had been annihilated, and that was why the parasite had failed to regenerate properly. But losing his original organic material was not a deadly blow in itself: Shi would have been able to rebuild himself entirely, over time, exploiting the very world around himself. He would have been able to use even the energy of sunrays and simple dust to fuel the reconstruction of his body.

That was why Gaia and God had not been able to destroy him once and for all, and had eventually decided to seal him away into crystals which cut him off any source of useful "food".

But Killer had been able to absorb a black hole, and to absorb even Unworld Residue, and he was sure that he could not just destroy Shi completely, but absorb its genetic material entirely, preventing him from every coming back.

One long nightmare, almost as ancient as creation itself, was finally over.

Killer's eyes slowly opened, the huge male blinking a few times and making a grimace at the light filling his vision, the contour of his surroundings still a blur. It took a moment for his vision to adapt and stabilize, and he found himself staring at a large, scary crack in the ceiling, through the top of a canopy bed which had fallen apart, the curtains torn into shreds by heavy rubble falling down from above.

He looked at this for a long few moments before yawning, his jaws opening so wide to always creak, the huge male shutting his eyes as he tried to shake off the sleepiness and lingering pains he still felt burdening his body. His hands gripped into soft sheets as he realized that he was back in Vesta's bedroom, and he couldn't help but pull up the sheet a little, sneaking a gaze below it to survey his own body. He was wearing only his boxers, the black fabric stretched tight over the massive shape of his cock, and he could see his abdomen had mostly healed, his chest sealed once more and protected by thick muscle, even if bandages were still wrapped tightly all over his torso.

He touched his face next, his hand hesitating a bit before poking his own muzzle... and he let out a sigh of relief as his fingers moved over flesh, his face regenerated, his eyes no longer looking out of a charred, blackened skull covered in little more than shreds of carbonized flesh. He seemed to have recovered incredibly well, considering the gravity of the wounds he had suffered. He felt new scars sticking out of his skin as he ran a hand down the front of his body, but his short fur hid those, and his face had reformed into his familiar features.

"Welcome back, Lord Killer." A voice softly said, and he turned to the side to see Gaia hurriedly throwing a large chuck of concrete and stone out of a large breach in the wall, the cracks in the structure connecting the various windows, the wooden shelves of Vesta's library largely shattered, books laying on the floor in disorderly heaps where they had fallen. The goddess had been working to clean up the room, but now she walked quickly back towards the bed, smiling down at him with joy, relief and love. She went down to her knees near the bed, leaning forwards to take one of his hands in hers, kissing it gently. "You've been hard at sleep for a whole day. It felt like an eternity... although it is actually amazing that little more than a single day of sleep was enough for you to recover so well." She explained, tilting her head up to look into his eyes.

"I've slept for too long already." Killer sighed, sitting up some into the bed before smiling softly as he looked down at her. "There are lots of things I should be doing... and if another day has passed, it means the duel with Taranis is imminent. I'm not giving that asshole the satisfaction of saying that I didn't show up when he challenged me, no matter what."

Gaia tilted her head to the side and looked at him imploringly, her expression telling him that she was about to reprimand him for thinking about yet another new fight despite having barely survived the last one... but before the goddess of Nature could say a thing, Killer grunted as a powerful, glorious body filled his sight as Alexis leapt onto the bed and tackled him down into the cushions, straddling his waist and seizing into his shoulders as she leaned down to kiss him, hungrily, lovingly, her tongue pushing into his mouth and openly challenging his as he grunted in delight, his eyes gazing into hers, sapphire reflecting into sapphire.

Her hands slid up his shoulders and she murred in pleasure as she pushed her arms behind his head, hugging him tightly, her long tongue dancing and wrestling with his as she hungrily explored his mouth. He allowed her a free reign for several long, delicious moments, before wrestling her tongue back, his hands seizing into her firm, perfect buttocks as he invaded her mouth, tasting her lips, their hot breath washing over each other's face as she arched her back to push her huge, proud breasts down into his chest, making him growl in delight.

Alexis ground her groin over the huge bulge in his boxers, deliberately moving her hips back and forth over the thick, gigantic shape of his cock, the female bouncing slightly over it, pressing her firm buttocks down against the solid, virile flesh, grinning in the kiss as she felt his giant cock throb powerfully, pushing up against her, his boxers stretched even worse and the waistband pushed out so that the base of his black shaft became exposed. He grunted hotly in her mouth, squeezing roughly on her firm butt, pushing her firm buttocks closer together, and she growled in approval, before squeezing him between her thighs as she straddled his waist, her muscles bulging explosively and her world-shattering legs making his bones creak as she pulled back from the kiss, running her hands into his mane and licking his cheek hungrily. "You had me scared there, lover... never let anyone else have such a good shot at you." Alexis whispered, nibbling on his ear as she gave his waist another powerful squeeze, her potent thighs bulging with strength. "I love you, lover." She said in his ear, leaning her head against his, and she smiled when he kissed her cheek with adoring affection, saying softly: "I love you too. And even more."

"Loving me more than I love you is the one feat you will never accomplish." Alexis easily replied, grinning as she pushed nose to nose with him, closing her eyes with a sight of bliss as his hands slid down from her buttocks and stroked over her almighty thighs instead, squeezing into the thick hills of power and massaging into the valleys of strength as she teasingly flexed and relaxed, letting him feel the full glory of her musculature. The goddess grinned with a murr of pleasure as he adoringly massaged her thighs, the huge male always having a soft spot for those, and for her amazing legs in general... and she leaned down with a playful growl, pushing her hips back in the same fluid motion, grinding down into his thick cock and using her groin to push his boxers down, his huge semi-hard shaft springing clean and firmly slapping over one of her buttocks.

He grunted and licked his lips slowly, arching his back slightly and opening his mouth to remind her that they had responsibilities, and things to do, and Heaven to fix... but before he could say a word, her lips wrapped over his in a new kiss. "Don't you dare playing the responsible, diligent king." She urged when she pulled back, grinning amusedly down into his eyes. "You've gone over 24 hours without blasting out a load, and for your standards, you must practically have blue balls. And your queen needs her sugar. So, everything else can wait until you've let out a few gallons of thick load." She grinned lustfully, seizing her biking bottom with a hand and easily ripping it off to let his hardening cock press directly against her delicious, incandescent, wet labia, the goddess deliciously sliding up and down the gigantic length, her sex sloppily kissing the veins on his shaft and on his swelling medial ring. She seized the growing cock in one hand, growling hungrily at the spectacular girth and weight of the godly member, which she knew well but that was an assured thrill every time. She began to stroke the mighty cock, squeezing greedily into the solid flesh as it bulged even bigger, forcing her fingers further apart, and she grinned widely as she promised: "Don't worry, I'll make it quick, for now."

"Oh-oh. Aren't you overestimating your chances...?" Killer teasingly replied, grinning as he tilted his head slightly to the side. But Alexis only smirked in amusement, sighing in underlining of what she thought obvious as she softly said: "Dear, you win in the end because you are a fucking massive factory of testosterone which can steam on forever, but if I want to make you cum quickly, you cum quickly. That's for sure."

She grinned, winking as she straightened up with one fluid movement, standing up on the bed, her legs spread wide, her toes curling up a bit as her hand guided the massive cockhead against her labia, rubbing it in for a few moments, spreading her wetness over the huge, fat head, the goddess letting out a hot breath of pleasure as a stream of her hot nectar dribbled down his gigantic shaft. Killer grunted at the amazing heat of her labia, the black-fleshed lips of her sex sloppily kissing his huge member, her hand stroking the top few feet of the prodigious length before she panted softly as she pushed the thick, enormous head in, her hand pushing against the thick crown. Her passage stretched out wide as his massive head pushed inside, her walls clenching onto his semi-hard flesh with amazing force, sucking him in as he let out a sight at how amazingly hot she felt around his cock.

Then Alexis squatted down with a sigh of bliss, the thick member forcing its way inside her, still only semi-hard but already gigantic, and she gritted her fangs with a hiss full of hunger and lust as she bucked her hips, pushing down in an incandescent, amazing slide.. She grunted blissfully as the thick pillar of flesh pushed deep inside her, sliding down the enormous cock and feeling it stretching her sex insanely wide, the enormous member throbbing and still growing within her, stiffening and swelling against her inner walls. Alexis hissed in delight, grinning widely as she leaned forwards, hands pushing on his chest as she slowly impaled herself, her tight passage eagerly sucking him in until she hit his medial ring... and here she slowed down, beginning to move teasingly up and down along the huge length, thrusting her hips back and forth to grind his hard cock against her walls, feeling him hardening up completely, reaching full, glorious mast.

"Feeling you growing inside me is always sweet..." the goddess softly said, before she stroked a hand down her bulging abdomen, the mass of his gigantic cock pushing against her abs from the inside, and bulging her belly obscenely. Killer looked at this with a murr of appreciation, which then became a grunt of delight, his head thrown back and his spine arching as she forced herself further down the immense length, a bit of blood leaking out along his gigantic shaft as she buried more and more of his immensity into her, one of her feet lifting clear off the bed for a moment as the sheer girth of his medial ring kept her aloft for a moment, the goddess grinning widely as she felt the steel-hard cock holding her up, supporting her body weight without Killer doing more than grunt softly in delight.

She rocked her hips hard, cackling in delight at his sheer force and size, the goddess shoving down hard with her hips before deliberately lifting her other foot up as well, letting gravity add to her movements as her body slid deeper down along the monstrous cock. Killer's back arched as he grunted in bliss, Gaia gaping in awe as Alexis eagerly impaled herself, bucking her hips hard until she let out a growl of pain and ecstasy as her passage stretched out further and finally accommodated his thick, massive medial ring, forcing a dozen more inches of immense black cock up inside her.

Killer gazed up at her in delight, grunting in bliss at how incredibly tight she was, the goddess clenching on him with spectacular force whenever her powerful musculature flexed. He held on tight to her strong thighs, but he let her do all the work, only resting back in the bed and savoring the amazing sensations, letting her movements send electric bursts of pleasure down his spine as she threw her head back with a moan and pushed down harder, bucking her hips down against him, a cry of pleasure coming loudly out of her lips as she slid down further, her juices leaking down in thick, almost incandescent waterfalls all around the monstrous girth of flesh forcing its way into her.

"Who do you place your bet on, Gaia...?" Killer asked, his voice coming out in a hiss of delight as Alexis leaned forwards, gripping into his mane as she began to rock her hips hard as her sex squeezed hard into his solid shaft. Gaia looked at them with a smirk as Alexis hugged him around his neck and used it to forcefully yank herself hard down, her hips rocking furiously as she spasmed but impaled herself inch by inch, Killer gritting his fangs with a growl of bliss as his massive chest flexed, his back arching as he could no longer resist the temptation, the huge male slamming his hips up against her while griping into her thighs to drag her down with vicious hunger.

Alexis growled in pain and delight at the same time, her musculature flexing and her passage clenching almost painfully hard onto his massive girth, making him groan in pleasure, before Gaia herself leaned forwards over his abdomen, breathing loudly as she pushed her muzzle between Killer's and Alexis's groins, her lips kissing the base of his gargantuan shaft and her tongue swirling hungrily up along the giant cock, before sloppily lapping at Alexis's stretched-out labia. The goddess of Nature loudly slurped on the pearly nectar leaking out of Alexis, licking it up greedily before kissing her way down what remained exposed of Killer's enormous shaft, kissing every inch of his length until she buried her muzzle into the luscious, thick fur of his crotch, rubbing her features into it and taking bangs of it into her mouth, suckling on them to taste his masculine sweat, his virility, and Alexis's juices which richly coated his locks of hair.

Killer grunted in pleasure at this, grinning widely as she suckled on the thick hair, greedily tongue-cleaning it, even as he yanked Alexis down once more and she bucked eagerly against him, his balls finally slapping loudly against her buttocks, both lovers roaring hungrily as he hilted inside her passage with a loud, wet squelch, impaling her, her muscles flexing eagerly and her insides clamping down on his girth, making him grunt in absolute delight, shivers of lust running down his spine as she immediately began to bounce herself up and down, gyrating her hips in a slow, sensual dance of lust to mercilessly grind his cock against her inner walls.

His biceps bulging explosively as he roared in pleasure, the goddess throwing her head back with a loud cry of ecstasy and triumph, her passage clenching almost painfully down on his hard shaft, her muscles flexing and massaging his amazing length with rhythmical, powerful squeezes which had Killer sinking his head back down into the pillow with a groan of amazed delight, his mind struggling to understand how she could be so hot, so tight, so skilled, clamping down on him so hard even with how insanely stretched-out she was.

Gaia moved her head slightly back, resting her cheek on his almighty abs as she gazed hungrily at Alexis's labia, the black lips kissing the male's crotch before pulling slowly back as Alexis began to squat up, bouncing eagerly on the colossal cock. "My vote has to go to Alexis this time, Lord Killer." Gaia finally said, smiling lovingly as she kissed the happy highway of thick hair reaching up to the male's navel, her eyes darting from his own to the base of his enormous shaft, the black flesh made lucid and shiny by the coat of juices as Alexis pushed down onto his chest, sliding herself up and down his enormous length. The blonde goddess laughed as Gaia placed her bet, and the muscular ligeress seized into the watery hair of Nature, ruffling them playfully as she grinned widely. "Good girl, I always knew you were bright..."

Killer only snorted, looking amused as he seizing into Alexis's hips and spread his legs wide, beginning to piston powerfully up into her, meeting her eager, strong bucks with his own thrusts, his breath washing out in hot waves as she gyrated her hips sensually, leaning forwards with a grin of absolute confidence even as she panted, muscles flexing, abdomen spasming as it bulged out with the stretch imposed by his enormous member. Her breasts bounded with each movement, the proud swells moving as her chest heaved with her hurried, delighted breathing, her movements becoming faster and harder as she went down on her knees, squeezing him between her legs as she played with his long mane, gripping into the thick bangs of his hair and hugging his neck tightly as she rocked her hips savagely, meeting his thrusts with greedy hunger, slapping her firm buttocks down against his groin, against his heavy, gigantic balls.

Killer slammed into her again and again, his enormous cock ripping back out of her only to piston back in to the hilt, each ram sending a thick splatter of juices bursting out of her in thick, strong jets that squirted out from around his massive girth, her nectar and his thick precum mixing and forming a large puddle on the sheets and splattering all over his testicles and abs, where Gaia eagerly licked it up, slurping the thick fluids up from the deep valleys between the bulging muscles.

The pleasure was almost unbearable, Alexis's passage clenching down on him with painful force, her muscles flexing and massaging him in unbelievable ways, her sex a burning, wet inferno which sent heat spreading through his whole body, his back arching as he grunted in delight and begun to thrust even faster up inside her, almost unsaddling her as she grinned and moved to match his ferocity, bucking against him with even greater hunger. He felt his pleasure growing, lust washing over him in waves as his enormous shaft stiffened up, a distinct feeling growing in his balls as he pistoned powerfully in and out of her incredibly tight, boiling hot sex... and Alexis did not miss the signs, pushing down eagerly and gyrating her hips as her labia wetly kissed his crotch at the end of each burning buck, at the apex of every rough, strong thrust of his. He burned with lust, and his cock throbbed with the need to release, his pleasure walking on the hedge, and he did not bother trying to resist, not wanting to deny Alexis her victory, instead moving with even greater hunger, working to push her over the edge as well, pistoning savagely up inside her passage as she slammed herself downwards with a loud cry of bliss, her head thrown back and her eyes closed as she roared her pleasure to the cracked, damaged ceiling, clawing into his thick chest as she bounced up and down with vicious force and speed, leaning down over him as she squeezed him between her thighs, her own pleasure close to the edge as he wrapped his arms around her waist and pushed into her, holding her in his embrace as he thrust powerfully in and out.

"Yeah, fill her up, master..." Gaia purred, kissing his powerful, bulging abs as she watched on in awe at the enormous shaft ramming to the hilt again and again and again, each potent thrust sending juices squelching out of Alexis's sex, splattering her face. Killer roared a moment later, yanking Alexis down as he slammed up to the hilt, his immense shaft throbbing powerfully as the first thick, huge eruption of semen blasted into her, the goddess throwing her head back with a cry of delight and victory. Her scream rose in volume and turned into her own roar as the enormous volley of seed filled her up and he continued to savagely slam into her, her own juices bursting down in a waterfall, mixing with his thick cum as she leaned down and ground herself almost viciously into his muscular chest, the steel-hard shaft inside her grinding all the harder against her stretched-out, ravaged passage, her abdomen bulging out in the shape of his enormous member as her belly bloated and bulged with the load of cum filling her up.

Gaia panted quietly as she bathed in the sight, in the mixed scents, in the sensations, and in the literal flood of cum of juices that cascaded out of Alexis whenever the gigantic black cock tore back for another thrust, Killer pistoning rapidly and savagely up into the clenching, impossibly tight, incandescent sex of Alexis, her labia wetly sealed around his colossal girth, stretching outwards whenever he pulled back, yet unable to contain the endless flood of cum as he blasted load after enormous load, riding her orgasm and cramming her full of his potent semen.

Killer wore a snarling grin on his face as he erupted gallons upon gallons of thick cum, the extra immensity of his loads due to the day of abstinence, his body all too eager to vent his impossible vigor... and he buried his face into Alexis's glorious breasts as she shouted his name to the roof, rocking her hips hard down against him, flexing and clenching down on his member, squeezing him so hard to both suck him in and push him out at once. The sheer power and effort it took to piston in and out of her, to hilt into her most extreme depths, making her bleed and gush out with large squirts of pearly nectar of ecstasy giving him indescribable pleasure, her tremendous strength and her passion increasing his delight in leaps and bounds.

Gaia washed her face in the flood of seed that burst out from Alexis's lips as he pounded hard up into her again and again and again, his body bulging with power, the bandages tearing apart as his muscles bulged explosively, several wounds still bleeding but ignored as the two lovers ground together hungrily, greedily, savagely, the female stroking her hands over the front of his powerful form, smearing him in his own blood, in his own virility, in her adoring, hot juices, her eyes glowing with love and lust as she shivered a bit in his hug, feeling his vigor, watching in adoration at the sheer power he radiated as her orgasm became all the better, all the stronger, her hips bucking and convulsing and rocking fiercely against him, her nectar bursting out in streams to mix with the raging ocean of his loads as they exploded into her again, and again, and again.. The two lovers kissed, Alexis putting her hands on his cheeks as they almost bit at each other's faces in the predatory hunger of their love, their breaths washing over each other's face in pants broken by their thrusting and bouncing as he squeezed her against his chest, her huge breasts deliciously pushing into him, her straddling legs clutching against him as she gasped lustfully, slamming her hips down and swinging them back and forth, his enormous cock pressing powerfully against her insides.

It seemed to last for an eternity of bliss... until Alexis slid her hands down on his chest and pushed away from him, reluctantly breaking the kiss, their tongues chasing each other in the air for a moment, before she slowly leaned backwards, a dreamy smirk on her face as her eyes glowed with playful tease, her sex still clenching down onto his steel-harder flesh as she forced herself to stand, Gaia letting out a groan of lustful amazement as foot after foot of gigantic black cock tore out of the goddess, the shaft streaked with red rivulets of blood and completely saturated in cum and juices. As it ripped back from the devastated hole, more and more thick cum gushed out in an endless flow, Alexis purring in tease and delight as she pulled herself free from being impaled on his colossal shaft.

It tore out of her with a loud, wet pop, followed by a thick, loud gush of semen even as Alexis pushed her thighs together, flexing, her stretched-out labia almost winking to him as they mostly closed, the goddess grunting softly as she cupped her groin with a hand, trying to put an obstacle to the flood of seed gushing out of her.

"Holy fuck..." Gaia said, unable to help herself as she flushed deep red at the sight of all that cum, her eyes glued to the immense cock as it swung free and majestically continued to blast enormous loads. Alexis opened her mouth wide and pushed her tongue out, dropping back down to her knees and using one hand to angle the monstrous cannon of a cock down towards her. Thick ropes of cum fired over her breasts, over her face, into her hair, and streaking far past to splat loudly onto the ceiling... before Killer moved in the bed, going into a kneel and arching his back as he growled in delight, stroking his enormous shaft and angling it down to fire his loads over Gaia as well, as the goddess of Nature climbed onto the bed and took position on Alexis's side, throwing an arm around her shoulders as both females eagerly bathed in the flood, mouths open, tongues outstretched in welcome.

Finally, it slowed down and came to an end, with Killer resting back against the head of the bed, grinning a bit at the sight of the thick ropes of cum dangling from his massive, towering shaft, the black cock enormous and throbbing slowly, a predator ready for more... while Gaia groaned contently as she sat back on the drenched sheets, breathing hard and flushing deep red under the thick coat of cum all over her body. Alexis only moaned softly as she slid her hands sensually over her own body, rubbing the thick cum all over her breasts and down her abs, then smearing thick semen all over her face as she grinned hungrily, before she rolled to the side to rest on her back in the bed, at Killer's side.

He looked at her lovingly... then he grunted in delight, gaping a bit as she arched her back and pushed her long, muscular legs up in the air, spreading them wide and opening her jaws wide as she pushed her hips back over her face, drinking of the thick cascade of semen that spilled from her stretched passage.

"Woah..." Gaia exclaimed, gaping a bit and half-grinning, half looking embarrassed as she stared at the queen, admiring her and unable to deny that she was looking forwards to doing the same... until Alexis dropped her legs down in a sensual scissor, folding her arms behind her head as she licked her lips and swallowed thickly. Alexis turned slightly to the side, seizing Killer's enormous shaft and stroking it leisurely as she gave Gaia a wink, saying softly: "Say thank you, girl... we both know you are the next on his list. You are a sweet, virgin, untested little thing... so it is better if you don't get a blue-balled Killer for now. That would be too much."

Gaia flushed deeply at that, blinking a bit and turning to the side for a moment... but she finally smiled gamely, and said a clear, cheerful thank you. "Not that I could ever be actually ready anyway... still going to leave me flat on the floor." The goddess added, grinning slightly as she looked up at Killer with a wink... and Alexis grunted in agreement, nodding as she said: "True. And it doesn't mean much that you are a virgin, either. Even if you weren't, you'd still be Killer-virgin. And that's what matters."

Killer coughed lightly into a fist at that, looking half-pleased, half-embarrassed, the two females smirking in amusement at that. The huge male then relaxed, whipping his hand on the sheet to clean it from the thick load saturating it, but he made a bit of a face as he actually felt his fingers sinking into a thick puddle of his semen, the bed flooded completely, the ceiling richly coated, the floor beyond the bed abundantly streaked in potent load as thick, heavy ropes stretched slowly down from the ceiling, dragged by their own weight. He smiled a bit at that, but quickly shook it away from his face as he looked softly at Gaia, studying her features and trying to ascertain if the cheerful serenity in her eyes was true or well faked, before he scratched at his temple and coughed a bit, uncertain on how, and even on if he should ask the question. He finally voiced his doubts, settling his large hand on her much smaller, cum-soaked one. "Gaia... how do you feel? What happened in your mind was... well..."

"Fucking glorious." Alexis said, grinning widely, but Killer only looked embarrassed as he gazed into Gaia's eyes with concern. The goddess of nature, however, tilted her head to the side with a soft smile, taking his hand in both of hers and massaging the back of it lightly as she replied: "It was special, and huge, and... ferocious, yeah. But above everything else, it was good." She paused, gathering her thoughts for a moment, and then explained: "I feel better now, I really do... there no longer is an "evil" me in a prison deep within my soul... nor there is a "good". The two pieces of me have finally joined back into one, for the first time in... forever. In more than I can remember." She paused again, moving up the bed to lean over his chest, her hand stroking his thick muscle with affection, her fingers glowing faintly with white light as she aided his healing to speed up his regeneration where he was still bleeding, her other hand cupping his cheek with love. "I owe you my everything, Lord Killer. You put yourself in the line of fire to protect me, to stop me from committing even worse crimes, and to give me back my body and my freedom and my identity. You fought back the gods, you fought back Shi, you wrestled me down... no one else would have done so much for me. And I will never forget all you did for me."

"It only matters if you have found inner peace. If I haven't damaged you... if... you are still you." Killer quietly said, looking at her with affection and concern, flushing a bit as he voiced his fear of having messed her up, of having warped her, corrupted her in any way. But Gaia only smiled, shaking her head slowly before leaning forwards to kiss his lips lightly. "I'm Gaia of the ever-blossoming nature, goddess of nature. I'm the quiet, shy girl you've known for a long time... and I'm also more. I feel my dark hungers. Mine, not evil's. I feel my desires, I feel my carnal needs, I feel my strength and my dreams, my rage and my love. I haven't changed, Lord Killer... you have not corrupted me. I'm just more me than I've ever been: no longer broken down the middle. I'm my own, proud person. With my faults and my perks. And I only pray that you can still love me, as I love you." She looked into his eyes, sustaining his gaze with firm, pure determination, not hiding, not masquerading, letting him read her like an open book. Yes, there now was a bold, proud and savage force in her, something which before was subdued, chained up, imprisoned away, hidden out of shame. But at the same time, there was still the soft, quiet, sweet Gaia he knew. She was now stronger and bolder, more open in her behavior and speaking. She blushed less, and acted more... and she craved to display her immense power through destruction, yes... but she kept her dark urges on a tight leash. And Killer, if anything, found that he loved her all the more now that she more honestly and openly held herself and her power. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, and hugged her softly, pulling her up until their muzzles almost touched, the female laying down on his chest as he nuzzled her."I love you, Gaia... and I won't lie... I love you even more now that I see your hungers, your pride, your strength. I now see the true you... and I love it. They are details of your image that were earlier hidden, but now that I can admire them, they only add to your beauty."

"Thank you, my master..." Gaia purred, nuzzling him back and kissing the side of his neck, before tilting her head to the side to look up into his eyes as she quietly added: "I hope you remember that I will need your help. I will need your guidance. I will need your strong hand holding me in line, at times... I will need your control."

"I could never forget that." Killer replied calmly and firmly. "And I will always keep faith to my promise, Gaia."

"We are kind of high maintenance bitches, aren't we...?" Alexis mused, turning to look at him with a soft smile, full of affection, a bit of an apology in her tone and gaze. "We wear collars, we give you our everything... but the truth is that we keep piling our problems on you. We all take advantage of your strength and willforce and love: you already have your own darkness to keep at bay, yet we ask you to take hold of our leashes, and keep us all in line. For all we give, we receive even more."

"I don't mind that..." Killer softly said, nuzzling her with adoration, before his lips crested in a little, uncertain smile as he added: "I can only hope your confidence in me is well placed, and I do a good job of keeping you all happy, safe, and that I can keep you from sliding too far down into darkness..."

"You do all of that, and more." Alexis whispered, reaching up to kiss his cheek, snuggling against his side, one hand caressing his thick chest and the other leisurely stroking his immense, towering shaft as Gaia curled up on the other side of him, smiling as she planted little kisses up his powerful arm, one hand playing with his mane, the other rubbing lovingly over his rock-hard abs.

"I can still feel Shi, faintly..." Gaia murmured after a while, her finger tracing a small circle on his stomach, her hand moving over thick, solid muscle. "He is steadily getting weaker, but he is still there. Is he...?"

"He is never going to be a problem again." Killer replied simply, looking down at her and gazing curiously at the spot she felt was the last prison of Shi. Near my stomach...? Well, suitable enough, since I'm basically eating him alive... "Soon enough, he'll be entirely gone. I'm absorbing him, down to the last cell, so that he can never again rebuild himself."

Gaia nodded, grinning with predatory delight before kissing his thick muscle, growling softly to his stomach, hoping that Shi would hear every word: "Good riddance... it is only right that your end gives even greater power to your conqueror."

"Not that he'll add much... just another drop into a raging ocean." Alexis commented, smirking as she gave Killer's enormous cock a teasing squeeze, her hand moving slowly up to the thick, widely protruding crown of his cockhead, the female licking her lips as a thick blast of precum erupted from him, hitting the roof with a loud splat, Killer letting out a grunt of pleasure.

He gave a look around the room, smiling in relief as he spotted Wyvern and both Azura blades leaning against Vesta's desk, but the sight of his blades reminded him of the battle, of the black hole, of the Holy Tree he had destroyed... and he sighed, closing his eyes for a moment before opening them to gaze down at Gaia. "I need to ask again, Gaia... was it you that wanted the Holy Tree destroyed, or did I fall for Shi's tricks...?"

Gaia closed her eyes dejectedly, repressing a shiver of regret and sorrow which still sent a tremble down her spine, before she sighed and explained: "It was me. Shi, of course, wanted the Holy Tree destroyed, as well... but it was me who asked you for help. I... I'm not proud of it at all, but... I never liked the Divine Tree. I did not create it. It is the one bit of "Nature" which never was mine. Which I could never feel or understand. It was Lord God who planted it, and he had me promising that I would always respect and protect it. I've kept my vow for Eons, but so many, many times I've thought about tearing down that tree." She paused, and then made a grimace of disgust as she shivered and bitterly admitted: "I so hate myself for such an irrational, cruel craving. It was just one tree, the only one I wasn't allowed to create, shape, and evolve. Elelyon has always been kind to me, and he allowed me to do all I pleased with the rest of Heaven, Hell, and the mortal plane... and yet I was never able to accept that he had wanted one, only one tree for himself. It is... horrible, that I couldn't even accept such a simple thing. I've betrayed my friend and my God, and what's worse is that I dragged you into such a traitorous act. I'm sorry, I really am..." She fell silent, looking down at his chest as tears rolled down her cheeks, not daring to meet his gaze as she sobbed silently. "What is wrong with me...? Lord God let me create billions of trees, uncountable species and breeds, he let me cover entire worlds in my creations, respecting everything I did... and I destroyed the one thing he reserved for himself... I'm a monster..."

Killer looked down at her with sadness, unable to find words that would comfort her. There was no denying their crime, no playing it down, and they all knew it. They could only move on, and do their very best to remedy, putting themselves on the line and sparing no effort to put things right, end the war and strike their enemies down, so that they could repair the damage, piece by piece by piece.

"Gaia... it was the only way to save you, in that moment. And I don't care how big a sin it was: you are here with me, and this is worth the price I had to pay. We are in this together." Killer finally said, gently pushing a hand under her chin and pushing her muzzle up, his thumb gently whipping away the tears from her cheek. "I hold no grudge against you, and I will not shy away from what I did. I was the one who destroyed it... and I will face the consequences, whatever they might be. We can't change what happened, Gaia... but we can change what will be. And we will."

The snow leopardess slowly smiled, pushing her cheek into the palm of his hand as he wiped away the tears from her other eye, her breath normalizing as she took his wrist in her hand, holding on to him for a few long moments, before the huge male wrapped his arm around her shoulders and gently pulled her against his chest, hugging her tightly as he whispered in her ear: "It will be okay, Gaia."

She nodded, trembling a bit in his hold but wiping her eyes dry as he rocked her gently in his arms, the huge male giving her time to calm and to push the bad thoughts to the back of her mind.

It was only after a few long moments that Killer dared putting forwards another question, only when Gaia's breath had fully normalized, the female resting her head on his shoulder. "Gaia... I need to ask it, much as I wouldn't want to touch the subject again so soon." He started, and the goddess straightened a bit, sitting in up in his lap and sliding her hands down to lean lightly on his powerful, broad chest. Her eyes did not betray any hostility or resentment, only a quiet resignation as she nodded and softly said: "Go ahead, master."

"Do you have an idea of what that black obelisk was...? Did you know it was inside the tree...?" The huge male enquired, and the goddess only shook her head slowly, making a bit of a grimace.

"No, Lord Killer. As I said, I knew nothing of the Holy Tree. It was one of very few things about which Lord God never provided any answer, not even any hint, to no one. We were very close friends, yet he never explained me anything about that. Vesta asked Him millions of times, but she was also politely turned down every single time. So, no, I didn't know the obelisk was there... And I'm not sure what the obelisk was, either. But on this, Vesta and I have a theory, at least. But it is better that Vesta does the explaining: she's the bookworm one, she'll do a much better job than me."

Killer couldn't help but laugh at that, before looking at Gaia with a wide smile as he observed: "You would have never used the word "bookworm" before. Not even for a playful remark."

"Yeah, it's true." Gaia agreeably said, shrugging a bit and smiling amusedly. "I would have thought of it, hidden away the thought because it is kind of rude, and found a very nice way to say the same thing. But a good half of me was wrapped in thick chains in the middle of a thick forest barring every possible exit, as you know."

"I like you, girl." Alexis amusedly said, before returning serious as Killer continued: "Then I will talk to Vesta later... by the way, where is she? Where is everyone, and what is the situation? I've been sleeping way too long, and I'm sure the past day has been a very dense one."

"It was." Alexis agreeably replied, nodding a bit. "We all needed to recover from the fight, but as soon as we managed to stand up, we got out to find out what the situation was, and help with some cleaning from all the ruins. We've been taking turns to guard your sleep, especially knowing that you had Shi inside your body..."

"I've mostly stayed here with you, or anyway inside the castle..." Gaia added in a soft murmur, looking down in shame. "I wanted to go out with the others, and help... but Vesta said it was better for me to stay back, for the moment. And unfortunately, she is entirely right. The people of Heaven know that I'm responsible of the disaster that tore paradise apart and they're understandably furious. There is the serious risk that a fight might start if they see me... and... we don't want any further destruction."

She fell silent with that, looking dejected, torn between rage and sadness. Rage against herself, mostly, for what she had caused... and sadness because it was hard for her to accept that she was now feared and hated. Not that she had anything to fear from angels and benevolents: had a fight been started, she would have easily beaten them back... but she had always been a motherly divinity, appreciated and worshiped with affection, despite the destruction that Nature sometimes causes. Now, she was seen as a monster, someone who couldn't be trusted and who should be eliminated.

Much more worrisome, the events at the Holy Tree had definitively shattered the Council of the Seven Gods, breaking it into two broad factions: those who sided with Killer's way to conduct the strange, confused war that was raging through Heaven, Hell and the Mortal Plane, and those who opposed it. Thanathos and Taranis were now enemies, and she could expect to be assaulted by them at any moment. And even Lemuel, who had always been a friend and who tended to side with Killer, was unable to look her in the face like in the past: Gaia had crossed path with him a few times after the great battle, and although he had done his very best to be friendly and supportive, his eyes had always betrayed the presence of some bitter resentment. Maybe it would pass, since the lion was not one to hold a grudge to a friend, but for the moment Lemuel struggled to accept the price that had been paid to save Gaia... and the goddess of nature honestly couldn't say he was wrong, or that she didn't understand his doubts and hesitations.

Killer gazed at Gaia with concern and affection, the goddess giving him a little smile before she coughed a bit as she stood up from the bed, flushing as she scooped up a thick, abundant handful of potent cum from the top of one of her breasts. "Should I... huh. Clean us up...?" She hesitatingly asked, taking a look around at the bed and the room, thick cum splattered everywhere and Killer's gigantic sperms swimming quickly back and forth in the puddles, the dense cum still incandescent and full of vigor.

Killer nodded in agreement, grinning stupidly, almost apologetically for the sheer immensity of his loads, as Alexis wrapped a arm over his chest and squeezed him against her side, leaning over him to slowly, lovingly lick his own cum from his body, tongue-cleaning him.

Gaia watched him in the eyes at this, her breath becoming heavier as her chest heaved... and she slowly, sensually spread her saturated hand in front of her muzzle, stretching out her tongue and slowly licking up her palm, from her wrist to the tip of her fingers, taking those in her mouth, one by one, savoring the thick, almighty cum which richly coated them, suckling them clean.

Killer grunted in delight at this, shivering lustfully as Alexis licked the thick cum out of his navel and out of the thick valleys of his chiseled abs, her long tongue rolling worshipfully over his massive musculature, while Gaia went down on her knees and lapped at his large foot, licking up cum from between his toes, rubbing her face into his sole as she took his heel in her hands, massaging his foot slowly.

He flexed with a grunt of bliss, licking his lips slightly as he looked down at them, the two goddesses tongue-bathing him with adoration, worshipping his body with small kisses and long, loving licks, greedily swallowing large, abundant mouthfuls of thick semen. He let them do for a few long moments, enjoying every second of it... but then he had to reluctantly pull the reins, clearing his throat a bit and saying: "Much as I'd love you two to continue... for now we should use magic to clean the rest, and move on. Duty first... fun later."

"Fine..." Alexis sighed, before grinning widely as she took one last lick, her demonic, forked tongue wrapping tightly around his shaft and then pushing up from the base to the enormous head, scooping up an ungodly amount of male load while leaving the enormous black shaft polished, literally shiny with her drool. Killer hissed in delight at this, his back arching slightly as he instinctively thrust into the tight coil made by her tongue, the huge male gaping with a grunt of bliss as the tip of her tongue pushed inside his cumslit, the wide hole still yawning wide from his earlier orgasm, allowing her tongue to easily flick around in a lick of his inner walls, making his hard shaft flex powerfully.

Gaia finally used a cleansing spell to clean up the rest, her cheeks burning red as she walked towards Vesta's desk and had a small fire appear in midair, a teapot forming from thin air as she took a few leaves of tea from the flowers and luscious plants which formed her bra. "I'll make some tea." She simply announced, turning their back to them to hide her blush... and Killer and Alexis traded a smirk of amusement at her remaining shyness.

Killer then noticed a large map spread on the wall past the desk, and he stared at this, realizing that it was a first attempt to map out the shape of the new Heaven, divided into two different areas which acted like continents of a planet that was not there. It seemed that, even with the black hole gone, the cataclysm had formed a sort of non-material core. The immense energies released had generated magnetic fields and streams of force which kept the two "islands" floating at a roughly stable distance. According to the notes he could read, which were all written in Vesta's flowing, elegant and somewhat gothic style, the two regions also had a synchronous rotational motion, exactly like they were part of a planet.

The map painted the image of a dramatically changed Heaven, in which things no longer occupied the locations they used to, and where huge new areas, mostly still covered in question marks or "hic sunt leones" annotations, denoting that there was still no idea of what could be find in the new lands.

"Vesta has been trying to map out the changes, visiting areas of Heaven directly and sending out teams of Seraphims to conduct reconnaissance missions. She's drawn that map herself, piece by piece, putting together her findings and all the reports which have arrived. " Alexis explained, noticing his interest, before guessing the question taking shape in his mind before he even worded it. "The changes are massive and have a wide range of consequences. Not all of them bad, at least: the fixed portals which connected towns are all screwed up and don't work anymore. This means that most Benevolents, who can't use magic and portal by themselves, can no longer move around. The good side of this is that the armies of Hell are temporarily cut off: the portals they had built to connect Heaven and Hell are all screwed up. Even some of the ancient, natural passages between the bottom of the Middle Sea and the top of Hell's central spire are gone, having collapsed during the cataclysm... but some passages still remain. Hell forces have been sighted coming up from the Middle Sea... but that at least slows them down, and imposes them a serious attrition: the monsters of the Middle Sea are much harder to control right now. They are upset, furious and very aggressive because of how the Middle Sea has been rattled and thrown around in the breaking up of Heaven."

Killer grunted, making a bit of a grimace as he muttered: "At least there is a good side to the disaster. What about Orion...?"

"The town is a pile of ruins, but the fortress hasn't collapsed entirely. It is battered pretty badly, but it still stands, and the garrison is imposing a serious toll on the new demonic armies as they come up from the bottom of the sea. There has not been much of a chance to dig in the rubble to see if there are survivors, though: it is a constant battle out there." Alexis explained, sitting up in the now clean and dry bed, looking at the map with attention, as Gaia walked back to the bed carrying a wooden tray with three large cups and the smoking teapot. She sat on the bed and handed Killer and Alexis a cup, filling it with dark tea which had an incredibly good perfume, one which relaxed the body and seemed to touch down all the way to the soul. "Another problem is that Heaven is almost completely cut off from sourcing souls, due to the chaos in the Middle Sea... Hell is capturing the almost totality of the souls coming from the mortal world. They get all turned into demons, regardless of what they did in life, to be used as soldiers in the war against Paradise. Vesta has tried to get the Council to set up an alternative entry point, foregoing traditions and procedures in the hope that it would be possible to at least restore a small lifeline, to get at least a small number of souls... but the Council doesn't listen. She tried setting up an entry point autonomously, but at this point it is unlikely to deliver any effect: the Reapers are convinced that Hell's victory is assured, and are pretty much all siding with the Underworld, hoping to enjoy the benefits of the future triumph."

"Gods, what a clusterfuck..." Killer grumbled, running a hand over his eyes and sighing tiredly before bringing the cup up, blowing the smoke away and using the spoon to absently stir his tea, waiting for it to cool a little.

"There are whole new complications. We've had to more or less literally re-discover where towns and fortresses are, because everything has changed. Even who is able to use magic to open a portal will often end up in the wrong place, simply because things no longer are where they used to be. Communications are down across the board, with only psychic links still working. Thankfully, the seraphims have their mental connection, which means they are the less affected." Alexis explained, before sipping her own tea, her eyes glowing slightly as she savored the highly energetic drink, which had only general appearances and flavor to share with normal tea known by mortals. "The Metatrons have almost completely lost control of Heaven: they used to see everything and know everything, but their scrolls no longer update them: they are angrily scouting their way through Heaven to rebuild their connections. The Council, in the meanwhile, is still hiding in the main bunker in the Valley of the Kings, in the 7th Heaven, and the senators are unlikely to want to come out of the deep chambers anytime soon."

Gaia nodded in confirmation, quietly putting down her emptied cup, the goddess absently smoothing out some creases in the sheets of the bed as she looked towards Killer with concern, adding: "There is also another new issue which directly touches you two: with the shape of Heaven having been so immensely modified, the flow of time has also been completely changed. A day in Heaven, like in Hell, used to equate to thousands of mortal years... but while this is still valid for Hell, now a day here in paradise equates to a mere mortal month."

Killer gaped a bit at this revelation, dropping his head a bit as he made a quick calculation in his mind, cursing under his breath as he understood what it meant. "One hour in here equates 30 mortal hours..."

"Yes." Gaia gravely confirmed. "The time available for your training and preparations has been just been dramatically reduced: to recover precious time, you will have to move into Hell earlier than originally planned."

Killer nodded, making a grimace. He and Alexis, back on the Mortal Plane, were sleeping in that very moment. All the time they had spent in Heaven, training and fighting, had equated to more hours back on earth. Their mortal bodies were in the bed, asleep, and only a short time had passed since they had closed their eyes. It felt absurd and impossible, every time he thought about it, but it was true. It was also a great luck: the mortal plane was invaded by hordes of demons and ravaged by wars and conflict in various hours, and Killer and Alexis couldn't afford more than a short night of sleep. The morning would see them called out to face the crisis, and there was even the risk that a sudden worsening of the situation would lead to Serene, or Alexander, or Siegfried rushing to their bedroom to wake them up and ask for their help. The massive time difference was key: it was the only thing that had made it possible for Killer and Alexis to enter Heaven, train, break most of their Seals, and fight in the very center of that supernatural war raging across Dimensions.

With the time difference so immensely reduced, Killer's day of sleep had wasted much of the remaining time before their return to action in the Mortal Plane.

Moreover, with Hell retaining the original, huge time difference, Heaven was now at an even worse disadvantage. "If in Hell the time still flows at the old rhythm... it means that now for every month Heaven has to rebuild its forces, Hell has dozens of centuries to prepare its own." Killer muttered, and Gaia nodded silently, her lips narrowing.

"Yes, now there is a massive gap in the time flow between Heaven and Hell. If the situation of the war looked bad before, it now looks hopelessly atrocious. It doesn't matter how many clone Paladins the Council can produce, and it doesn't matter if Heaven gathers new souls or not. Whatever Heaven does, it will never, never, never come even remotely close to what Hell will be able to do.

The forces of Heaven won't have a minute of rest, from now on: each battle they will fight will be followed by another in seconds; each demonic army they might manage to destroy, will come back literally a moment later. Because the time we will have here in Heaven to literally sigh, equates to many, many years in Hell that the demons can use to rebuild their forces with every care. We won't have time to train new soldiers, no time to treat the casualties, no time to even breathe." Gaia explained, her hands balled into fists as she repressed a tremble of rage. "Heaven will be lost soon after Hell manages to restore its portals for direct access into paradise. And it could happen any second now, literally: even as we speak, Hell is enjoying years of time to train soldiers, clone demons, create monsters, and prepare for the next assault. The only thing that is gaining us time is the campaign of assaults that Vesta has ordered against the remaining armies of demons here in Heaven: we must prevent them from conducting reconnaissance and informing their lords back in Hell about the new geography of paradise. As soon as Hell learns where to portal... it'll get very ugly."

"The Mortal Plane will be lost just as quickly, if Hell applies any more pressure." Alexis muttered, knowing all too well that the past demonic assaults on Earth, with a few high-rank exceptions like Regina and Fenrir, had been mostly a matter of low-tier demonic regiments thrown almost playfully against the feeble defences that mortals could put up. Killer and Alexis suspected that Hell was delegating the task of subjugating the Mortal Plane to the RA, the mysterious alliance they had been fighting back and trying to expose... but they were both painfully aware that much of that delegation was due to Hell having to focus its main forces against Heaven. Even those token efforts from Hell had almost been enough to allow the RA to achieve the ultimate victory: without Killer and Alexis beating the demons back, the mortal world would have fallen in a matter of days. Now that Hell had acquired such an immense advantage over Heaven, it was easy to imagine that it would seek to speed up the process by applying full force on both fronts at once. Hell could now afford to do so comfortably and with minimum risk: any setback it might suffer in the fight would have been only temporary, as it had the time to rebuild, while its adversaries did not.

"Vesta, Ira and Manticora have already contacted Kimera, in Hell. She is ready to receive you... but she reports that there is no way to organize a stealth entry into the Underworld. Satan has ordered unprecedented surveillance and security measures, expecting an attack from you. So, the only way in will be the traditional one, through the Stygian Marshes and past the Styx river itself. You will not be aided by the Ferryman, who will instead be hunting you down... and you can expect Cerberus to guard the gates." Gaia said, looking at him with concern as she took one of his hands in hers, pouring new tea in his cup. He gave her a little nod of gratitude at this, smiling softly: her tea was literally miraculous, filling him with new energy and greatly aiding his healing and regeneration, the wounds on his chest and abdomen glowing a bright white as they sealed themselves, some vanishing away without even leaving a scar. She out down the teapot with a sigh, and leaned forwards to cup his cheek in one hand, looking him in the eye as she asked: "You remember what a 'traditional' entry in Hell is like, don't you...?"

The huge male nodded, remembering all too well what he had read in the books that Ira and Vesta had inserted in his training program. "Yes. Every enemy we had in life and that resides in Hell will be warned that we are coming, so that they all get a chance to take revenge." Killer answered calmly, looking unperturbed.

"Yes, and you have sent loads of enemies to Hell. You are going to be faced by armies of enemies upon entry in Hell's territory. And Satan will make sure to add his soldiers and beasts to the welcome party... Hell will be doing all it can to prevent you from crossing the Styx." Gaia warned, but Killer only kissed her forehead before smiling softly at her, arching an eyebrow as he playfully asked: "Are you doubting of your master's chances...?"

Gaia blushed, looking genuinely flabbergasted and then ashamed of having given him that impression, the goddess murmuring an apology before kissing the underside of his thick, massive pec, her hands stroking over his masculine chest. "Of course not, master... I... I'm just worried. I would much prefer if a stealthier entry could be organized."

"If it ever was possible, we probably wouldn't have enough time anyway." Killer wisely replied, shaking his head slowly. "That is the last of my worries, anyway. If it takes a fight to get in, I'll fight and I'll win. But I'm not moving yet. I'll need a few days to get some important things right here in Heaven."

Alexis nodded in agreement, and Gaia didn't look surprised at all, even as she looked worried by the tightness of the time available.

"First of all, I'll have to make sure that the demons, Sikanjal or whoever else can't set free other monsters like Shi. Have you checked on Retribution's status...?" The huge male asked, and Alexis nodded wisely, readily replying: "It was the first thing we localized and checked." Retribution was a massive fortress located in the 5thHeaven, built on a rocky, desolate island sticking out of oceans of boiling magma. It was Heaven's maximum security prison, a hellish hole thought to safely contain the most dangerous, cruel and monstrous enemies of God and Heaven. The fortress had become necessary when the hostilities between Heaven and Hell got so serious that God could no longer trust Hell for containment of his enemies. Some of the worst subjects had to be kept in Heaven and punished inside the borders of paradise, because sending them to the Underworld risked being the same as not only setting them free, but arming them even better for their fight against Elelyon and his laws of order and tolerance. The 5thHeaven whole, as a consequence of its new role, had become a dangerous, deserted wasteland of fire and death and despair, ruled by Samael, the Angel of Death. For Eons it had been the most secure of prisons, but now, even though the Council denied the risks, it had become dangerously exposed: Killer suspected that Sikanjal would have had little difficulties in tearing through the defences of the fortress to free the monsters imprisoned in it, to use them as her little but extremely powerful personal army. "We located the fortress relatively easily, thanks to the immense energy signature of the barrier and of all the enchantments protecting it... the cataclysm has stretched the 5thSky out like your cock stretches pussy, but that doesn't amount to much change: it was a desert of sharp stones and magma before, and it still is, just larger and hotter and even more horrible." Alexis continued, pointing her finger towards the position of the fortress on the map. "The castle itself is damaged, but only superficially. It is extremely resistant, so it has coped pretty well with even the worst of the disaster."

"Good. I'm glad we are still in time... but tell me the truth, can we expect that place to stand up to Sikanjal if she decides to break in...?" Killer calmly asked, and Alexis had no hesitation in slowly shaking her head.

"Thought so." The huge male grunted, making a bit of a grimace. "We to keep a close eye on Retribution. Sending more angels or putting up more enchantments would only be a waste of time and lives... we are the only ones who can fight Sikanjal back, and even then, only barely if at all."

"Yeah, that's what we thought. We've been taking turns... I think Adrasthea is currently there on guard, and she will call via psychic link if she sees anything strange." Alexis said, and Killer nodded in agreement, smiling slightly to her, unsurprised to see that she had kept the show moving in the right direction, even with him knocked unconscious and stuck in bed.

"The only long term solution with a prayer is taking the prisoners away, and lock them in a deeper, better protected pit, in the middle of a Sanctuary. The one I involuntarily created in the 4th Heaven has survived even the cataclysm... and I think I can build a fortress which can resist even Sikanjal, if I focus on it." Killer mused, tilting his head to the side slightly and nervously running a hand in his thick mane.

"I think the best bet is making of Eaglenest your Sanctuary, Lord Killer. You can turn it into a fortress which will be able to resist even while you are busy elsewhere, and that can act as the last stronghold for the Seraphims. It seems that it will be badly needed, at this point: the rest of Heaven will probably soon result indefensible."

Killer nodded in agreement, but then he sighed in frustration, adding: "I can't do that right away, though. I must first talk to the Council, seek for one last time an agreement with them. The trials ahead are fearsome, and we badly need to keep Heaven united. A civil war is the very last thing we need. And the Council already hates my guts enough, without giving them yet another reason to hate me even more."

"Noble of you to still want to try and find an agreement with them... clearly, they are not as well intentioned: we've had to order the execution of the emergency evacuation plan we put together with Vesta a while ago: the Council has sent troops of Paladins out to raid the homes of all Seraphims and of each and every angel who is loyal to you, or suspected to be. Those who haven't been reached by the emergency evacuation teams, or at least by our warning message, have been captured... and executed for treason." Alexis muttered, her eyes narrowing as they glowed with cold rage, Killer gritting his fangs in fury and shock, feeling his heart racing as his mind filled with images of screaming families dragged out of their homes, of fire consuming the buildings, of crying angels and benevolents killed in front of their destroyed houses, on the accusation of having "sided" with him in any way.

"They will pay for this as well." Killer coldly stated, his hands balled into fists so tightly that fine streaks of blood leaked out of his palms as his own claws tore into his flesh. "But still, I need to make a last ditch attempt. It could mean saving a lot of lives, and keeping Heaven united in the fight. The potential reward, however unlikely, is worth every effort." He paused, looking down at his fists with a tremble of rage, his enormous musculature flexing powerfully as he muttered: "I'm under no illusion that it will work. It felt like a desperate call before... now, after what happened at the Holy Tree, there is no chance it can ever work. But I have to try all the same. And perhaps I can convince at least some of the senators and Monarchs. If any of them listens, we can at least limit the damage somewhat."

"That really is nice of you. At this point, I only want to smash the Senators into mush. Arseholes..." Vesta grumbled as she walked into the room, pushing the door open and dropping her massive sickleswords on the desk, before stopping in her tracks and looking up with a frown, sniffing. "I smell sex. Delicious, hardcore sex. You bastard, I need my share of sugar too." She added, before turning to look at the bed, grinning widely as she saw his towering, massive cock still semi-hard and reluctant to go down.

Killer coughed slightly into a fist, somewhat embarrassed at being caught like that and glad that they had at least cleaned up, or Vesta would have walked in and crashed into thick ropes of dense cum hanging from the roof. That would have been hilarious, but also kind of rude, with that being her room and everything. Not that she would mind, but...

"Later, Vesta. I must ask you to be patient for a little while more." The huge male calmly said, sitting up in the bed and wishing that his domineering cock would finally go down. Vesta was dressed up in her Seraphim armor, and her sickleswords and thick armor plates were caked in blood and gore, some of it even coating her bangs of golden hair sticking out of her crown-helmet. "If you still want it, I'll pay your patience with a collar."

"You can fuckin' bet your big balls that I still want it." Vesta replied, smirking as she threw on top of the desk a leather holster full of hand-drawn maps and sheets covered in notes, the results of her latest reconnaissance patrols. She walked up to the bed and patted the monstrous black shaft lovingly, before looking into his eyes with seriousness, saying calmly: "If you really want to try, I can bring you to the Valley of the Kings. We can try and talk to the Council... but be warned: my requests for a meeting have been turned down without them even trying to fake courtesy. I might get them to open the doors and let us in... but almost certainly, we'll have to fight our way out afterwards. There are ancient protections put in place by God himself: even for you, teleporting will not be an option."

"I'll take whatever risk it takes." Killer replied simply, shrugging a bit, before he leaned forwards slightly, smirking as she teased: "And you...? Have you gone soft on me, all of a sudden? Scared of having to fight out way out?"

"You wish." Vesta snorted, smiling gamely before kissing his lips lovingly. She squeezed firmly into the thick flesh of his gargantuan member as she licked over his cheek teasingly, growling softly: "Put this beast into your pants, if you can, and we are good to go. I'll show you who the soft one is."

Killer shoved her back with a playful snort, and she snickered as she crossed her arms and watched in amusement as he stood up off the bed and struggled to get his massive semi-hard cock into his boxers, pushing his enormous length down one thigh before he grunted and grumbled under his breath as he pulled up his jeans, hiding the huge bulge down one leg as best as possible, while the three females watched on with matching grins.

He tried to ignore her staring, which gave him a mix of pride and embarrassment, the latter due to how ridiculous he felt in having to struggle so much to fit into his pants, carefully pushing his tremendous length down one leg and then slowly pulling up his jeans not to tear through them like through paper. Finally, though, he was ready, and he walked towards the desk, his hands working to tie his thick belt before picking up his swords, all resting inside strong leather and steel sheaths attached to a thick bandolier crossing over his chest. He paused for a moment as he saw the Imprisonment Crystal laying on top of the desk, the precious, supernatural gem glowing a bright sapphire and giving off the usual whispers and muffled screams as he took it between the tip of two fingers, surveying it silently. He thought about bringing it out with him, not wanting to leave behind such a precious and unique gift. He created a leather pouch out of thin air, attached to the front of the bandolier, and he slipped the gem inside the pocket, feeling clearly the presence of the strong energies imprisoned in the crystal, almost pushing against his chest. He was most likely not going to use the gem, but he wanted to keep a close eye on it, because it was a magic artifact of immense power and potential. Vesta's room was probably the safest place in all of Heaven, in that moment, but he did not feel it was quite safe enough.

Killer had been thinking of how best to employ the gem and the Azura blades: they were powerful and flexible weapons, but he did not want to hang Wyvern on the wall. The gem was also especially hard to employ, now that it was a standalone bit. Killer had been thinking about Azura's suggestion of re-forging Wyvern in every moment of tranquility he had since their meeting. Such moments had been very few and very short, admittedly, but even so they had been enough for the huge male to decide that he was going to draw a new Wyvern, and he was going to re-forge it into the new shape. He had already been sketching possible designs - he had a dozen sheets of paper covered in drawings and sketches and calculations buried deep in a pocket of his jeans, even though sweat, water, blood and all other fluids had most likely destroyed them all by now - and he had come up with one which he thought would work excellently. He was planning to give Wyvern a whole new handle, an even larger main blade, a slot in which to mount the Imprisonment Crystal and two slots into which the Azura blades would fit. It would turn Wyvern's already massive blade into a heavy, fearsome triple blade, with one Azura sword reinforcing each edge... and he had come up with a simple yet strong mechanism which would enable him to release one or both of the Azura blades, so that he could exploit them with his free hand whenever he saw a chance for it.

Re-forging Wyvern was on his list of things to do before moving out of Heaven, since he wanted to ask Lemuel for help and added experience: Killer was a more than decent blacksmith thanks to the comprehensive training he had been given as a young prince of Kesteven, but Lemuel was the blacksmith God... there was no one in the trade who could come close to the lion's experience and skills, and Killer wanted his assistance to be sure to do the best of jobs with Wyvern.

He pushed the thoughts to the back of his head, however, as Vesta picked up her sickleswords and made ready, the huge male turning back to face Alexis and Gaia. He kissed both, and encouraged Gaia, telling her to be patient for a little longer: Alexis would head out to help fight back the demons in the First Heaven, but he asked Gaia to stay in Eaglenest for the moment, to avoid having to deal with the angry glares of angels and benevolents. Gaia had accepted his suggestion and kissed him with affection, only begging him to be careful and to return soon.

Exiting Eaglenest proved a tough task in itself: the corridors were often almost blocked by piles of ruins, the floors cracked and disjointed, in several cases rising in tall, absurd steps. The ancient, thick walls were cracked in several places, in many areas with fissures so wide that Killer could use them as windows. The rubble was not the only cause of the difficulty in moving down the corridors, though: a much worse problem was represented by thick groups of injured benevolents and angels, bandaged and bloodied, resting whenever they could. Every room was filled with suffering people, every corridor was crowded with fugitives who had left their homes in a hurry to escape from the advancing armies of demons or from the regiments of Paladins sent out by the Council to squelch what the senators perceived as a rebellion of angels and Seraphims who followed Killer's lead instead of that of the official government of Heaven. There was people encamped everywhere, small kids held close by mothers with wide-open, fearful eyes and sobbing dads who no longer knew how to protect and make happy their families.

Killer walked past them with his mouth slightly gaping as he stared over all that misery and suffering, his mind aching with the confused, loud, echoing shouting and crying and sobbing of prayers he felt coming from their minds. And they were mixed with curses and hate, as many of the Benevolents glared at him with rage deforming their features, not daring to give voice to their fury as the giant male walked past... but unable to hide the fact that they held him responsible for the disaster, and hated his guts for it. They didn't know it, but Killer could hear their thoughts, and each insult and curse echoed in his mind as he walked by, causing his breathing to become somewhat quicker and rougher, and his eyes stinging as he felt angry and guilty, furious and saddened at the same time. He wanted to say sorry, and at the same time felt the need to slap their faces into the wall for not accepting that saving Gaia was a good and necessary thing... So he did nothing, only continuing to walk on as Vesta silently took his hand in hers as they squeezed side to side to pass through the crowd.

He stopped only for a moment as they crossed the main courtyard of the castle, where he noticed a wide square area in the middle which had been kept clear from the refugees who occupied every inch of the remaining space all around. Some enormous wooden beams had been parked in that space, and a few of them had already been orderly piled up to serve as the base for a large funerary pyre. He looked at this with sadness, as a couple of Seraphims walked out of the east wing of the castle, carrying another large wooden beam which had been part of the roof but had fallen to the ground during the earthquakes. Now, those ancient beams were about to be used one last time, in the final salute to the many courageous warriors fallen during the war, starting with Gabriel himself. They had no bodies to revere and burn into purifying fire, but they were still going to brighten the night with the light of the flames as a sign of gratitude for what their lost comrades had given.

Vesta stood at his side, looking at the beams with eyes full of sadness as she thought of her friend, colleague and rival, and Killer closed his eyes, bowing his head a little as he stated calmly: "When we come back tonight, we will give complete the pyre, and we will give our lost friends the salute they deserve. I promise."

Vesta nodded in silent, resolute agreement, taking a deep breath as they walked past, the queen gesturing to the Seraphims not to build up the pyre, but only to bring out the suitable wooden pieces: she and Killer would have built the pyre personally, as a sign of their respect.

Killer sighed in relief when they finally stepped out of the perimeter of the fortress, but the imploring voices and the angry voices continued to painfully mix and echo in his mind as he turned to look over his shoulder. He winced, seeing the extent of the damage to the ancient, powerful fortress: the reshaping of Heaven had badly rattled and beaten the towers and the walls, and the roofs had collapsed inwards in several areas. He could see angels and benevolents working as best they could to fix at least the worst breaches... and then he took a look over the Second Heaven, the land surrounding the mountain of Eaglenest. Everything had changed: much of the forest had been burned and uprooted by the immense forces and shockwaves which had steamrolled over paradise, and entire cliffs and mountains had changed shape forever, some all but crumbling into piles of boulders and rubble. Looking out towards the horizon, Killer found himself almost completely lost: there were new valleys and new mountains where the crust of the world had been crumpled and stretched and torn like fabric. He could no longer see the First Heaven in the distance, which had evidently been pushed a greater distance away, and he couldn't guess the presence of the Third Heaven either, as the second sky had swelled immensely larger, a cold, snowy tundra spreading for miles and miles, interrupted by enormous cracks through which magma and boiling hot gas erupted in a constant succession of explosions. It made him swallow thickly in disbelief, amazed by the extent of the changes. When he looked down from the suspended bridge, he struggled to identify the quarry in which he had worked so hard in his first times in Heaven. He finally spotted it, in an entirely new position, turned into a vast lake of magma which had surged upwards into the pits and which now covered with liquid fire some of the large steps cut into the cliff of black stone.

He shook his head slowly, struggling to believe to the extension of the cataclysm, but then he found a bit of a distraction in updating Vesta about what had happened with Shi, and what he had discussed with Gaia and Alexis. Finally, they reached the end of the long suspension bridge and they walked into the small, separate fortress which was the entrance of Eaglenest, and here Killer turned to Vesta and whispered: "Before going to the Council, I would like to take a look at Retribution. I fear that if the Council does not agree to cooperate with us, we will have to secure the prison with force. Quickly. I need to see the place, judge by myself if it is safe, and what I can do to make it safe if it isn't."

She nodded silently, her eyes darting from side to side as she made sure they were not within reach of untrustworthy ears. "I will bring you there, Killer. But getting Samael to open the door and let us in might prove a problem." She held her arm up, wordlessly inviting him to take it, smiling as she said: "Or better, you will bring us there. You should be able to teleport to any place just by wishing to get there, even if you don't exactly know where it is... but hold on to me, for now. Read my mind to find the location, if necessary."

Killer nodded and took her strong arm, focusing on Retribution... and he felt his mind entering hers, prying into her memory to find the location of the prison, before they both vanished from the spot with a loud crack, angels and benevolents turning to stare in surprise.

They reappeared a moment later on top of a black, massive rock sticking out of a sea of magma which rippled with huge, angry waves of liquid fire. A hot, cruel wind howled as it washed over their bodies as if intending to shove them off the rock and into the sea of magma, Killer grunting in surprise and pain as the ferocious gushes of dry, incandescent air seemed to tear into his healing wounds like daggers, forcing some of the gashes to gape open once more, blood streaking slowly down the front of his body.

He scanned the horizon with ajar eyes, making a grimace at how everything here in the Fifth Heaven made him think of Hell rather than of paradise: the sky was dark and gloomy, with gigantic black clouds looming over them, looking so low on the horizon to seem within arm reach. The fifth sky now was at the very edge of one of the two separate "islands in space" that made up the new Heaven, and the horizon was literally an abrupt end of the land, like the edge of a terrace looking out on deep space. Planets and stars could be seen in the distance, but they were so far that their light barely stood out over the thick darkness. Streams of energy, looking almost like aurora borealis but of a sinister crimson color, danced slowly in deep space: it was just the visible part of the immense forces still at play in the large void area where the black hole had been. The forces that kept the islands of Heaven moving in unison, giving paradise the ghastly appearance of a planet which had somehow been eaten like an apple, leaving two small continents floating around an empty, missing core.

A third island, far smaller, could be seen hovering in the dark space, not far from the edge of the Fifth Heaven: it was Ira's Garden, still protected by a faintly-glowing sapphire barrier. It was all what remained of the Fourth Heaven, and it was still so luscious, flourishing with life that Killer could see the green of the trees even from that incredible distance.

"Is the people of Kemuel still there...?" Killer asked after a moment, remembering that Ira's Garden had been used as a safe rally point for the benevolents and angels evacuated from the town on the Holy Tree.

"Yes, they are still there.... We thought about moving them to Eaglenest, but they are better off in the forest. Eaglenest is already crammed with the people coming in from all the other towns, and with the families of the Seraphims that we've had to hide from the rage of the Council. " The queen of the seraphims paused for a brief moment, looking over the distant, green island. "Indeed, they are probably those of us who are in better shape. Ira has visited them, and helped them build a first bunch of shelters in the forest... they are perfectly fine. The island has its own atmosphere and climate, and they don't need to eat or drink, being still in Heaven... but if they want to, there's no shortage of water and possible food."

Killer nodded, relieved, and then finally spotted what he thought had to be the prison. He pointed his finger towards it, and Vesta confirmed. The castle was built with titanic blocks of black stone reinforced by Godblood plating. It had walls which were relatively low, but incredibly thick and solid, reinforced at the base by ample scarps. Pentagonal shaped ramparts protruded from the walls at regular intervals, the geometry of the star fort carefully thought to ensure that an assaulting enemy would never find a blind zone where he could not be reached by the fire of the defenders' weapons. The scarps at the base of the walls and bastions fused almost perfectly with the fearsome cliffs of stone over which the prison was built: like Eaglenest, it had been constructed on top of spike of stone, only this one stuck out of a sea of boiling magma.

The walls Killer could see where merely the first defence. They acted as counterguards, standing in front of an inner circle of walls and bastions, only slightly taller. A deep moat no doubt filled the ample space between the outer wall and the inner perimeter, but Killer could not yet see it, of course. Behind further walls and bastions that Killer couldn't map out from that distance stood a short but large circular bastion, which dominated the fortress, standing at the very centre. It had dark, thickly armored walls, and the huge male could guess the silhouette of a succession of gigantic guns in position on the top, ready to defend the fortress from any enemy.

The only way to reach the island was walking down a long street made of zigzagging segments which deliberately lengthened the time an enemy would have to spend in clear view of the bastions: any assaulter would have to walk for miles on a narrow bridge without parapets, fully exposed and literally a small push away from falling into the sea of liquid fire, one or two miles below. Powerful, ancient magic and energies filled the air, and Killer immediately realized that flying was not an option. Similarly, any attempt to teleport any closer to the walls would miserably fail: powerful enchantments had been imposed by Lord God himself to make sure that the only way to the fortress was a long, dangerous walk.

And now it was all the more dangerous, since several of the bridges had crumbled during the cataclysm, falling down into the sea of magma and several of the towers that connected the various ramps had suffered the same fate. In some points, repair teams had erected wooden suspension bridges as temporary solution, but in several more places the reconstruction work was still ongoing.

"This place has gotten even worse. And I didn't think it was possible." Vesta spat, making a grimace as she looked over the incandescent wasteland of fire and stone. She walked a couple of step forwards, and reached ahead with one hand, touching an invisible wall, crimson light glowing around her fingers as she made contact. Killer gritted his fangs as, immediately, several laser-like spots converged on her and on him, as if a whole army of snipers and laser-guided weapons had turned on them... but Vesta only crossed her strong arms on her chest, and waited, and the huge male partly relaxed.

Suddenly, a large screen appeared on the surface of the transparent barrier, static fizzling on the display for a moment before the image cleared, and Killer stared at the massive creature which appeared, instinctively knowing that he was looking up at Samael, Angel of Death, Wrath of God. It was quite hard to tell that the creature was an Arkangel: he could have been very easily mistaken for a demon. And actually, according to the studies that Killer had made, Samael was thought to be the father of several demonic dynasties: one of his wives was Lilith, Mother of Demons, and he had the reputation of being a merciless, often cruel war machine who had little to no sympathy for mortals. He was the perfect guardian for the prison destined to hold the worst enemies of God, as despite his ties with some of the most ancient families of Hell, his loyalty to God was unwavering, and he had the strength and the merciless efficiency that the job of supernatural jailer required. The screen showed only the torso of the massive Arkangel, who had a bulky, muscular body. His arms were heavily armored, wrapped up in thick Godblood plates jutting with cruel, curved spikes, while his chest and abs were semi-bare: there was no plating covering them, but his thick, bulging muscles were wrapped tightly into enormous chains which left little of his body actually exposed. His musculature was powerful and full of vigor, but the color of his flesh was pale and sick, looking like the flesh of a corpse. Blue eternal flames danced slowly over his form, enveloping him with supernatural fire. As normal with the Arkangels, his features were hidden by a fully enclosed helmet, but his was shaped in two parts, hinged to form a monstrous mouth with massive metallic jaws jutting with cruel fangs. What really caught Killer's attention, however, were the eyes: Samael had many, and all of them glowed with a ghastly white light which somehow radiated contempt and rage. He had seven eyes just in his head: one, larger than the others, glared at him from the middle of the Arkangel's forehead, while the other six were arranged in two diagonal rows of three going from the normal position of eyes upwards and outwards to the temples. Killer could see another eye, larger than a fist, staring at him from the center of the angel's chest, and he had at least another large eye in each shoulder, looking over the sides.

The angel's four wings were apparently made of dark steel, not of flesh and feathers, but they looked no less flexible. Each wing had an eye of its own, too, and no doubt the Arkangel had more eyes looking out of his back, giving him a constant, overlapping view of his entire surroundings. Talk about a born jailer...

"What do you want now, Vesta...? I've already allowed one of yours inside the walls. Now what...?" The Arkangel rudely enquired, his deep, metallic voice seeming to come from a great distance away as it boomed out of his helmet.

"Lord Killer wants to visit the prison, and see how Retribution is structured." Vesta calmly replied, gesturing towards Killer with an arm. "Please, let us in. We'll make it quick, if you don't waste hours trying to get me to renounce and walk away, like you did last time."

"Lord Killer...?" The Arkangel hissed, turning his attention to the male and glaring down at him with pure hate, barking: "The vandal, the criminal who tore the Holy Tree apart...? The mass murderer who nearly had Heaven swallowed whole by a black hole? He should enter this fortress only to be thrown into a pit and sealed in it, to join the other monsters, forever!"

Killer recoiled slightly at the accusations, but he didn't reply to them: as much as it pained him and made him furious... he really couldn't. Unfortunately, he had really caused the disaster. There was no way he could shy away from that truth, or play it down.

"Depends on how you look at it, Samael." Vesta coldly replied, looking at the Arkangel with her eyes glowing an icy, merciless white light. "He is the same Lord Killer who tore apart and absorbed the core of the Black Hole to save Heaven; the same who fought back Sikanjal, the same who slain Fenrir, the same who saved Gaia, the same who kept Hell from conquering the mortal plane, the same who nearly destroyed the demonic armies at the Wall, the same who fought back Sikanjal and the same who destroyed Shi."

"Bullshit." Samael angrily muttered, slapping his heavy, gauntlet-covered hand down on whatever desk or console stood in front of him, before he paused awkwardly for a moment, turning a thoughtful gaze to Killer as he asked in amazement: "Shi... is... dead...?"

"Lord Killer has destroyed the parasite, finally." Vesta confirmed, although she was aware that it wasn't completely true yet: Killer had brought her up to speed with the latest news while they walked down the bridge out of Eaglenest, and she knew all too well that it would take some time before Shi was completely absorbed and consumed by Killer's organism. But that detail didn't need telling.

"Go away, I'm not letting you enter anyway." Samael irritably grumbled after a moment, before leaning forwards as he growled coldly: "You are not entering here, not even if you get the Council to authorize you and escort you to the gate. Killer Huxley, you will enter this fortress only as a prisoner."

Vesta closed her eyes with a sigh of frustration, tapping her fingers over her massive bicep as her body flexed nervously, her eyes closing as she huffed loudly... before Killer winced as she slammed a fist into the barrier, making the screen sizzle in and out of view as it filled with static, a booming thunder echoing across the empty lands as she hit with monstrous force, her eyes glowing murderously as she hissed dangerously: "Listen, asshole. With attention. I'm Vesta of the Everlasting Dawn, Queen of the Seraphims, Guardian and Right Hand of God, Discoverer of Truth, Bringer of Knowledge, and the other two or three hundred titles on the list. I said we want to visit, and we shall visit. And you shall fuckin' guide us around the place, and answer Lord Killer's questions, too. Otherwise I'll kick your ass from here to the Seventh Heaven... and there is a lot more distance from here to there, now. I'm sure you know."

Samael leaned back a bit, as if to retreat from her assault, but he still looked hesitant, even as a ripple went through the barrier as Vesta leaned her palm against it, adding coldly: "My God made this barrier. It recognizes me, and it will eventually let me in, whether you like it or not."

Killer stepped forwards next, and he touched Vesta's shoulder lightly, the powerful female turning to gaze at him curiously... before she nodded and stepped back from the barrier, crossing her arms with a wide grin, licking her lips slowly as Killer rolled his massive shoulders and leisurely cracked his neck, before slamming his own fist into the barrier. The roar of thunder that followed was deafening, and the immense shockwave of pure force cracked the rock under their feet, sending ripples through the ocean of magma, causing waves to wash violently up the distant shores as his fist smashed its way through the barrier, sending shards of it flying like fragments of glass.

"My old God made it... my new God can shatter it." Vesta said, grinning widely as she polished her claws against the chest-plates of her armor, looking at them absently while Killer gripped into the edges of the breach and began to tear it wider.

"No... N-No, that is not possible..." Samael mumbled, shaking his head in disbelief, while behind him other angels could be seen rushing to increase the energy output, using some kind of enormous machinery of which the screen showed only a small part.

"Don't be stupid, Sammy... he shattered the Holy Tree's barrier, remember...?" Vesta teased, grinning sharkishly as she looked up at the screen briefly, before mockingly returning her attention to her claws, wiggling her fingers idly. "Single-handedly."

Killer grinned himself, but he could feel the energy flowing from the mysterious machinery and flooding the barrier, reinforcing it and regenerating it, the broken edges of the small breach pushing ferociously back against his hands, attempting to seal the hole. His enormous biceps bulged explosively as he pushed back against those new ripples of force, and some cracks spread all around the hole. He felt that the breach would seal itself if it kept going, but he needed to resist, because the display was making Samael weak at the knees.

"I... I can't let someone with that kind of power into the prison..." The Arkangel babbled, and Vesta smirked as she put her hands on her hips, leaning forwards slightly as she teased: "The real question, Sammy, is whether you can keep him out."

Samael made a grimace at that, Vesta could tell it even though the Arkangel's face was completely covered by the thick helmet.

Finally, Samael snorted in frustration and rage before barking: "Okay, okay. Step back from the barrier, I'll open a passage for you." He cursed under his breath, hammering his fist on one button in the console in front of himself, and the screen vanished from sight. Killer all too gladly let go of the barrier, which eagerly sealed itself up with a crimson glow, while the huge male looked at his sore palms, shaking his hands a bit as he surveyed deep, bleeding gashes that the wall of energy had cut deep into his flesh.

In the same instant, a window opened in the barrier, contoured in bright crimson light as it expanded and turned into a wide door which let Killer and Vesta through before closing back quickly, sealing the area. Killer and Vesta quickly moved down the first bridge, walking rapidly as the huge male's hands quickly healed, the wounds sealing and vanishing from sight. The queen looked at this with interest, and then asked quietly: "What do you think...?"

"Bad start." Killer replied, keeping his voice low, unsure of whether Samael would be able to listen to their conversation through some kind of magic. It could not be excluded... the air was heavy and thick with the energy of several spells and traps added in the centuries and millennia to make the fortress even safer from outside attacks. "The barrier was repealing me, and I probably wouldn't have been able to tear open a passage large enough... but if I sized up, I would smash through that wall like it was made of tissue paper." He paused, then made a grimace as he felt the energies of another barrier which receded only slightly to let them pass. "This other wall must have been put up by the Metatrons. At this point, the Metatron's magic can't even tickle me. Bad stuff, Vesta... I fear that Sikanjal could walk through these defences without even noticing they exist."

As they walked onwards, a multitude of rune circles glowed faintly under their feet: they were all powerful trap enchantments and spells which would send monsters leaping out of the ground to assault an intruder, but Samael had temporarily put a lock on them, to let Vesta and Killer pass. In the distance, though, Killer could see the gigantic rail guns and other artillery trailing their barrels in time with their progresses, keeping them constantly in the crosshairs.

Killer and Vesta tried to ignore that, instead picking up the pace and running down the long bridges, jumping from one to the other to cut the zigzagging and save time: some of the ramps, besides, had crumbled, leaving ample gaps along the way, which they had to overcome leaping over enormous distances.

As they ran down another ramp, side to side, Killer turned towards Vesta, gazing over her strong body as she moved easily and rapidly, her glorious breasts bouncing slightly, constrained by the form-fitting plates of her armor... and he smiled when he met her gaze, the female winking at him as she looked over his own strong form. He finally decided to ignore the risk of being listened by Samael, won over by his curiosity and his wish to make good use of every precious minute, especially now that Time itself worked against them.

"Gaia said that you and her have a theory about that frigging obelisk thing that I shattered. She said I would be better of asking you, since you are the bookworm of the group and know how to explain complex stuff."

"That's what she said, huh...?" Vesta replied, looking amused as she snickered a bit. "She has opened up a lot more, lately. She would have never said anything even remotely rude, before. You are a terribly bad influence."

"Yeah, I know." Killer agreeably replied, before Vesta returned serious as she explained: "Yes, we do have a theory. Actually, what happened in the Fourth Heaven confirms theories on which I've been working for centuries. So many times I tried to get Lord God to explain me the details, to tell me how it all worked... I even promised I wouldn't write of it, that I would keep the secret for myself alone. But he turned me down every time. Very kindly, but inexorably."

"Would you have been able to resist the temptation of writing books about it...?" Killer mused, looking at her interrogatively, one eyebrow arched... and Vesta blushed slightly, looking the other side for a moment as she admitted: "It... would have been admittedly very hard to resist. But if I promise something, I'll die rather than break my word." Killer nodded seriously at that, knowing that she was worth of every confidence, and she calmly said: "Anyway, getting to the point. I'm sure you are aware that both the studies of mortal scientists and of me and my researchers in Heaven agree on the fact that the universe is constantly growing and expanding. Slowly, relative to the immense scale of star and galactic stuff, but constantly. We also agree on the fact that the universe, or more correctly the universes, spread across various dimensions within what we call Creation, were born through an immense explosion. Mortal scientists call it the Big Bang."

"Yes." Killer replied, nodding slightly and letting her continue. "It is my belief that the Big Bang is, in fact, an ongoing process. The constant expansion of Creation is due to the shockwave of that incredible blast: a shockwave that is still rippling across the Nothingness, filling it up with new worlds, new gods, and new histories." She paused briefly, gathering her thoughts as they reached the end of a damaged bridge and leapt over the sea of magma to land with a grunt on the following ramp, overcoming the huge gap by means of pure strength, several angels looking at them with shock from where they were working, hanging from thick ropes, to build a wooden suspension bridge and close the gap.

"An explosion is a powerful way to "create" fragments and spread them over a vast area, obviously... but it is by no means a stable and safe creation method. Eons ago, I mapped the streams of energy that travel and ripple across the universes, trying to find the center. To this day, the sheer immensity of Creation has prevented me from finding the spot... but mapping the flow of the forces shaping the universe has allowed me to determine that something is dramatically slowing and smoothing out the movement of the shockwave of creation."

"Why...?" Killer asked, trying to process the information in his mind.

"For a very good reason: an explosion is only good at creating Chaos. And that is what we would have if the shockwave was moving at its original speed, I suspect. My observations suggest that the shockwave would be followed by smaller but still immeasurable ripples of energy, which would destroy what has just been created, rattling once more the matter and the energies." Vesta easily replied, leading the way as they leapt across another gap, shortening their path by "cheating" away from the zigzagging of the road. They landed on the edge of the following bridge, grunting at it trembled under their weight, chunks of stone falling off the damaged ramp and sinking into the magma a good mile below. They traded a wince and stepped carefully away from the cracked edge before they dared resuming their jogging, and then their running when they got on more solid and reliable ground. "Basically, without the slow-and-smooth effect, the worlds created by the main shockwave would have been destroyed Eons ago. They would have lasted a mere few million years, which is but a blink in evolutionary timeframes. There would have been no time for the evolution of life, no time for civilizations: the following ripple of energy would have destroyed everything, and restarted the process from zero. Only, with less energy and material available than the first time."

"Let me guess... the process would have been interrupted again, even sooner than before, by the following ripple." Killer mused, turning to look at her with curiosity. The queen of Seraphims nodded, smiling widely as she exclaimed: "Most excellent, my student! You aren't quite as perceptive as Alexis, but you DO learn quickly. It's exactly what would have happened. And it would have happened again, and again, and again, all the time faster, all the time wasting energy and matter in the process. It would have been chaos... and, eventually, a return to the Nothingness."

"So, you are guessing that the ancient gods, like Elelyon, used the time that followed the passage of the main shockwave to put together a plan for the slowing down and smoothing of the flows of energy." Killer calmly said, ignoring her teasing comment and all too aware that Alexis was indeed far quicker at learning than he could ever hope to be. Especially with her super mind-reading...

"That will be an A+ again." Vesta cheerfully replied, giving him an appreciative nod. "I think that the original gods united their strengths and their wisdom to stabilize the universes and ensure a future for their own creations. I've been asking Lord God about it for Eons, but he always kept the secret, as I said... but what happened in the Fourth Heaven makes me think that my theory is spot on, and -"

"- And that the obelisk is part of the solution they came up with." Killer concluded, biting his lower lip as he tried to grasp the full implications of such a discovery.

"Yes... in my hypothesis, the obelisk is an Anchor, a system capable to keep the flows of energies in balance across the expanse of Heaven. Don't ask me how it works, though. The energies at play are so immense that we can't even begin to imagine them. And, in fact, as soon as the obelisk was damaged, the forces unleashed nearly made confetti of the whole of Heaven." She paused, balling one hand into a fist and punching at the air in frustration as she grumbled: "If only a sliver of the obelisk had survived, it would have allowed me to study its composition and perhaps understand a bit more... but nothing at all is left of it. I even checked your claws for micro-residues, while you were sleeping. But nothing. Nothing at all:" Vesta made a grimace of frustration and disappointment at the end, and then grunted as they stepped down the last bridge and charged up-hill along the steep, almost vertical narrow path which lead up the spike of stone, towards the gates of Retribution. The bastions loomed over them on both sides, and Killer looked on with admiration at the perfect design of the fortress: not even once would they find a bit of cover from the fire of the defenders. They were always in the middle of multiple, overlapping fields of fire as they climbed the incredibly rough path, angels armed with enormous bows, rifles and manning large Gatling turrets keeping them in the crosshair from high above.

"There must be many obelisks like that. The fact that Hell and the Mortal Plane were not affected make me suspect that each has its own obelisk... or maybe another object entirely, engineered and enchanted to serve the same purpose, though. Somewhere, there must be hidden Anchors." Vesta explained, before she looked down at the ground for a few moments before quietly adding: "At this point, I even think I know why Elelyon left Heaven, so long ago now... He said he had to go fight a battle for the survival of us all, but he wouldn't share any detail. I think that someone might be trying to destroy the Anchors, all across Creation."

Killer nodded silently, thinking about it for a few moments. It was a plausible explanation: Elelyon wouldn't have wanted to share anything of what he knew about such important artifacts, especially if he suspected of Typhon, or of someone else close to him. He wouldn't run the risk of giving them any more hints than strictly necessary. But on the other hand, Killer struggled to see the point of such a self-destructive action: the damage caused by the destruction of the Obelisk would have been such, hadn't he been able to put a halt to it, to leave behind nothing at all to conquer. "There is only one thing that I can't understand, though: who would want to destroy the Anchors and die as the whole of Creation is wiped out of existence...? I don't believe in pointless, self-destructive evil, Vesta. I believe in conquest. I can understand wanting to conquer Heaven, the Mortal World, the whole universe, the whole of Creation... but if you destroy it all on the process, you are left with nothing to rule and enjoy." The huge male calmly observed, before gaping a bit as he thought of what Shi had said. Of what Sikanjal had said. Of what he had done in several occasions up to that point. "Unless..."

"Unless someone has a mean to absorb all the immense energy released by the destruction of the anchors." Vesta completed his thought, looking at him seriously and giving a little nod. "That's about the only explanation I can find, Lord Killer. We are talking of such impossible amounts of power that they would make any sacrifice acceptable... and temporary." She repressed a shiver of both fear and lust as she said: "Imagine: all the power that one was of Light and Darkness. The original sources of all powers. And yet more, because of everything that has been created, evolved and expanded since the dawn of time: uncountable universes, worlds, civilizations, divinities. Imagine if it was possible to collect it all."

"But it can't be possible. It is a feat that goes far, far beyond the possibilities of any god." Killer replied, shaking his head in disbelief. "It just has to be impossible." He repeated, yet he couldn't shake the hints out of his mind: his absolutely exceptional ability of absorbing even Unworld energy, even a black hole, and how Sikanjal was hell-bent on discovering the secret of that particular trait. It all whispered to him that no, as much as he hoped for it, it wasn't an impossible scenario.

"Maybe it is still impossible now, Lord Killer... but I'm afraid that it is the final goal of our enemies. Before meeting you, I would have had no hesitation in saying that absorbing Unworld residue and use it as a power boost was completely impossible. But we now both know you can absorb it, and turn it, the most deadly of substances, into energy for your body. I cannot exclude anything, at this point."

"I wish you could, though." Killer sighed, shaking his head slowly and looking down at his hand with a mix of horror and lust. Vesta looked at him with sympathy, taking his hand in hers and squeezing gently as she added: "I'm not scared, Lord Killer. You are the Amon-Ra, you are the center of this complex phase of the story of Creation... and regardless of how terrible the events on the horizon are, I know I can trust you completely. I know you'll give your all to protect us and to make things right... and that means that I have no fear. I know you well, after all this time... and I have no doubts in saying that you are the only one I would ever want as Amon-Ra. I could trust no one else."

Killer smiled gratefully at that, squeezing her hand in his for a moment... before she playfully added: "Plus. You are big and handsome. You have broad shoulders, and you can take it. If it was someone else, I would be terrified to see the burden crushing him like a bug. But with you...? Piece of cake."

"Thank you, Vesta." Killer amusedly replied, the two laughing softly as they walked the final stretch of the horrendous path, beginning to see the gates of the fortress: they had built the door in a stretch of wall that faced the abyss, and the only way to reach the gate itself was via a long, narrow drawbridge made of Godblood. Once lifted, it would add as a near-indestructible shield protecting the massive gate itself.

Two low triangular bastions emerged from the solid stone on both sides of the gates: they were only a few feet higher than the ground, so that they did not shield in any way an attacker from the fire coming from the larger, far higher bastions further out to the sides. The low bastions, clearly, were bunkers dug in the solid stone, which protruded above the surface the bare minimum indispensable to allow the opening of a dozen horizontal loopholes from which the defenders could mow down any enemy attempting to bridge the gap.

The drawbridge was lowered as Vesta and Killer came close to the edge of the abyss, and as it slowly settled down, the two saw Samael himself, surrounded by a large number of warrior angels clad in thick, heavy armor and carrying shields and massive assault rifles. The Arkangel had his arms crossed on his chest and a gigantic halberd strapped to his back, while two enormous revolver guns were holstered at his hips... yet he looked worried, almost scared as Killer walked onto the bridge, Vesta following as the narrow passage was simply not enough for two persons going side by side, let along if big and bulky like the male and the Queen Seraphim.

The large group of guards looked no less nervous, the angels standing shoulder to shoulder and instinctively forming almost a solid square of steel as they let their shields almost overlap on the sides. They did not aim their rifles directly at him, although the dozens of other guards in the pillboxes, on top of the walls and on the bastions definitely did so.

Killer tried to ignore that, and he also attempted to look reassuring and not menacing... but he immediately realized that whatever he could do, he would never manage to have the guards relaxing at all. He had just punched through the divine barrier that those guards considered invulnerable, and that, added to all the rest the angels had heard about Killer's previous accomplishment in Heaven, made them scared and anxious. Probably they were aware that their rifles wouldn't be much use against him, and that could hardly reassure them.

"We come in peace, Samael. We want to save Heaven and end this war. We are allies, not enemies." Killer calmly said, slightly pulling up his hands, his palms outstretched and empty. "I just want to see the fortress, and evaluate the defences, because I feel that the prison risks being assaulted."

"Who do you think would be so insane to try and attack this fortress? Our defences are insuperable." Samael barked, tilting his head to the side to mock Killer's concern.

"Sikanjal. She tore apart the Wall, so no defence is insuperable for her... and she set Shi free. We cannot exclude that she will next come for the prisoners of Retribution." Vesta coldly replied, her eyes glowing a bright, ferocious white as she stood in front of him, arms crossed and icy hostility evident in her body language. "We want to make sure she can't succeed. I told you already last time, and she has only gotten stronger in the meanwhile. Now, please stop wasting our time, and guide us in a tour of the place."

Samael hesitated, his powerful arms twitching a bit as he stared coldly at Vesta, evaluating his options. In that moment, Ira walked up from behind him, the cobra smiling towards Killer and giving him a little wink before she cleared her throat and said clearly: "Let them in, Samael. We've had no trouble since I've been in the fortress, no...? There will be no problems."

"You are alone, Lady Ira. And you are already enough of a potential threat on your own. If I allow them in as well... you become way too dangerous. How do I know you won't try and take over the fortress yourselves...?" Samael hissed, the eyes in his back focusing on Ira with icy mistrust. "Not yours, not Vesta's loyalties lie lay in Heaven anymore. Your loyalty goes to Killer... and he can't be trusted."

"I will walk out of the perimeter for the time they will be in, if you are too scared to have us all in at once." Ira easily replied, grinning a bit and her tone taking on a bit of a mocking note despite her best attempts not to tease, while Vesta quickly added: "I can stay outside as well, if that's really necessary. I already know the place... but it is Lord Killer who can truly gauge whether the defences could stand up to Sikanjal or not."

Samael still resisted, standing silently in the middle of the gates and refusing to step aside, and Ira walked forwards, brushing her fingers down another translucent wall of energy which Killer hadn't even seen. The cobra slid a finger down this, then suggested: "If Killer is your problem, have him just touch the Heart Reader. That will tell you what Killer really wants to do within the perimeter of Retribution. That should leave no doubts, no...? Or you don't trust your defences anymore?"

Samael snarled angrily at that, balling his hands into fists as he turned towards the cobra as if to shout at her... but instead he hissed in frustration, before barking: "Fine. Touch the barrier, Killer: if you are being honest, you have nothing to fear. If the Reader discovers that deep within you have different aims... we'll open fire with all we've got without other warnings."

Killer swallowed a bit at this, as he guessed the likely function of the transparent wall of energy standing in front of the gate: in the supernatural realms, where shapeshifting was not at all uncommon, special measures had to be taken to ensure that the claimed identity coincided with the real one, and that the visitor's intentions were not harmful. That barrier would read his heart, mind and soul as soon as he touched it: it would verify his identity, it would look out for demons possessing him or hiding into his body and it would gauge his true wishes and plans. One touch, and they would be able to tell for sure if he was a threat or not.

And that made Killer considerably nervous, since several things could go spectacularly wrong: how would Black Killer be considered, if detected? Was he just a side of his personality, or a whole different being who could be read as a possession of sorts? Killer also had Shi buried somewhere inside his organism: if they could still detect him, Killer was sure that his explanations wouldn't have been listened to, and less than ever would they have been believed. Moreover, while he was sincere in his wanting to secure Retribution from Sikanjal's reach, his plan in case the defences didn't convince him was one that surely would not meet Samael's approbation. Finally, he also had another reason for planning to take Retribution away if necessary: he craved the prisoners it contained. He wanted to add them to his own collection of monsters and past redemption evil. He wanted to toss them in his dungeon, to use them as fresh meat, as new toys for his darkest lusts, as new victims that he could maim and destroy without remorse. He wanted them because they were monsters and criminals so terrible and beyond pardon that his abuse on them could almost be justified, considered almost as a just and deserved punishment.

The huge male hesitated for a second, considering all these factors and fearing that they would all surface at the scrutiny of the magic barrier. He slowly pulled up his hand, tensing slightly as he prepared for the possible onslaught of fire coming from the defenders as the armored angels surrounding Samael all aimed their rifles and rocket launchers at him... but then he finally pushed his palm out towards Ira's, as the cobra held her own hand up, pressed lightly against the opposite side of the barrier. He looked into her emerald eyes, and saw her nodding imperceptibly, a light in her gaze telling him that all was going to work out well.

Samael pulled up his left arm, and a holographic screen was projected up from a small computer embedded in the thick armor plate protecting his forearm. His other hand tightly gripped into the thick pole of his halberd, the Arkangel ready for the fight. Killer leaned his hand against the barrier, continuing to look into Ira's eyes as she smiled reassuringly even as the energy between them rippled and glowed brilliantly, the huge male grunting as he felt like a gush of wind blowing through pages in his mind, reading him easily.

Data immediately flooded the holographic screen, and Samael grunted impatiently and nervously as he surveyed the readings, muttering: "You have a hell of a lot of darkness within you, Killer... and tons of Sins in your past. It really looks more and more like you should be sealed in a pit in this fortress, and pulled out only to be regularly tortured. But there is also some good in you..." The Arkangel snorted, as if disappointed by what he next had to say, as he added: "And you are sincere about wanting to keep the prisoners well caged. So, I guess I have to let you in. It'll be a quick tour, though."

"Of course, we have no time to waste. We would have already left, hadn't you wasted all this time in the first place." Vesta grumbled, walking through the barrier and leading the way as Killer followed, stopping for a moment to trade a quick kiss with Ira, whispering a thank you in her ear for her reassuring support. She waved it off, downplaying her role, before telling him that she would wait at the gates: Samael was more than nervous enough without her presence. Killer agreed, albeit with a snort of irritation at having to tiptoe around the Arkangel's psychosis.

Samael ignored Vesta's remark, instead shouldering his massive axe and walking ahead, leading the way. The armored angels split into groups, some walking ahead of Killer and Vesta and keeping them in the sights of their rifles and others following at a distance, keeping them in the crosshairs from behind. Killer did not mind... it was a bit irritating, on one side, but on the other, it confirmed that Samael took absolutely no chance when it came to the security of the prison. The fact was that the angels were outmatched and outgunned: had it come down to a fight, Killer had absolutely no doubt about his ability to take them all down. Their advanced heavy caliber rifles would have been scary, once... but by now his body had strengthened to such levels that he could now literally laugh in the face of such weaponry. Their bullets wouldn't even tickle him, at this point, despite being able to literally rip a battle tank to shreds.

Killer suspected that Samael was all too well aware of it, but the Arkangel tried to hide it, as if he hoped that the male liger himself would not be able to gauge the relative power levels. The Arkangel was genuinely determined to keep the prison safe and he had clearly done everything he could to strengthen up the garrison, the fortress and his own body, to build up firepower to oppose to any and all invaders... but his efforts could only go so far.

The fortress was incredibly impressive, that was to be said. It had survived the Great Cataclysm without a single noticeable crack spreading in its walls. The design of the castle had also been clearly improved constantly over the Eons, making it even more secure, making an assault on its walls unthinkable.

As they passed the first gate, they walked along a long tunnel, narrow and oppressive, which was guarded by huge caliber Gatling guns sticking out of armored joint points in the walls on either side. Holes in the roof allowed the defenders to literally pour misery on top of any enemy, and there were a multitude of shutters and gates that they had to walk past. Once all closed, those barriers would have created a succession of kill zones, deliberately narrow and small so that only small groups of enemies could fit inside at once, easing the work of the defenders. It was unthinkable for an army to cut down the succession of gates: each attempt would have ended in a slaughter.

"The gates and shutters are all made of Godblood, the most resistant metallic alloy ever created. The shutters are never less than four feet thick." Samael explained, patting a massive, dark shutter as it slid up into the roof to let them pass. Ahead and behind it, two fences, also of Godblood, protected and reinforced it, these sliding out of the way by vanishing into the walls on the two sides. Each barrier was built with the same combination, but with the shutter becoming thicker at each station.

Killer observed all this in silent amazement and with deep interest. He loved military engineering and had always been fascinated by the art of building unassailable forts, so this was like a dream come true. On the serious side, however, he tried to gauge whether the gates would stop Sikanjal... and after seeing her in action at the Wall, the answer was a clear, resounding no.

At the end of the tunnel, they were faced by a wall, with a slit opening that allowed the movement of a twin-railgun turret. The square, massive barrels stared down the tunnel, standing as silent, deadly sentinels, and Samael grinned as he pointed at those, exclaiming: "Five and a half foot of caliber, and two of them. They fire darts as big as cars at eleven times the speed of sound, and can cut even through Godblood. The sole shockwave and the sonic bangs of the darts rushing down the tunnel would vaporize anyone in the corridor. Let's not even imagine what a direct hit is like."

Killer traded a look with Vesta as they walked past, and she made a grimace after a moment, nodding a bit in agreement: she had took just a second to understand from his expression that, yes, the railguns were impressive like hell, but still not enough. There had been similar batteries in position on the bastions at the Wall... but Sikanjal's obscene power had made a very short work of those.

They turned the corner, moving past the twin railguns and proceeding down another long stretch of corridor, past several more gates and all the time under the aim of the Gatlings on either side, before they began to walk up a steep slope in the road. It lead outside, and constituted yet another trap: any enemy charging out of the dark tunnel would have had his vision at least temporarily ruined by powerful lights aimed down at them, and it would have been mowed down by fire coming from literally all directions, including from behind, and from the top of the second circle of walls of the fortress.

They emerged into a road which was only marginally larger than the tunnel itself, and still closed on both sides: they will still below the level of the parapet walk of the outer circle of fortification, so that the defenders of the outer perimeter could still fire on them from above, on the right side. On the left side, they were walled-in by a scarped counterguard, not very tall but armored with Godblood and jutting with deadly blades and spikes that made it almost insurmountable.

Beyond the counterguard there was a new, wide moat filled with magma, and only beyond that stood the walls and bastions of the inner circle of defences. The function of the counterguard wall was to protect the higher walls and bastions behind it from direct fire and to delay an attack on them as long as possible. Any enemy trying to overcome the counterguard would have been easy target for the defenders on top of the inner circle of walls, and would have at the same time turned his back to the remaining defenders and artillery on top of the outer circle of walls.

Whatever they did, they were trapped in a narrow open space, exposed to the fire of defenders from all sides at once. The road stretched ahead of them for a few hundred meters, and then there was a sharp corner to turn, dominated by a bastion in the inner circle, beyond the moat. Killer couldn't help but grin at the perfection of the design: he could easily imagine a regiment of defenders taking position just beyond the corner, out of sight of an assaulting enemy until the very last moment: as soon as the invaders turned the corner, they would find in front of themselves a wall of shields, spears and rifles, and would fall down like corn before the scythe. The defenders could use the corner to reducing to the minimum their exposure to the enemy fire, and reduced width of the walled road meant that a small formation of resolute defenders could easily block the path of a far larger armada.

"As you can see by yourself, over the Eons, the Metatrons and the gods have contributed to making the fortress the best defended castle in the whole universe. There are rune circles everywhere, and countless spells empower the walls and the artillery on the bastions." Samael proudly explained as they walked down the narrow road, overcoming several more corners. The fortress had a polygonal plan, with sharp, perfectly designed triangular corners which, being sloped, assured that the enemy never, never had a single spot where he couldn't be seen and targeted from multiple directions. The amount of rune circles was also astonishing, as each step they moved made several new circles glow faintly, becoming visible for an instant. They were locked down not to cut them apart, but had they been enemies, they would have been hammered by dozens of traps already. "The magma in the moat was enchanted by Gaia herself. If an enemy immune to fire and heat tried to cross, the magma around him would become ice, or wind, or water or smoke, whatever was appropriate to kill the intruder, or at least incapacitate him very, very badly. Several rune circles hide an icy mist spell so powerful that an invading army stepping over the circle would be frozen into statues of ice in mere instants... and the artillery on the bastions would do the rest, blowing the states to smithereens." The Arkangel pointed a hand lazily towards the walls and towers on either side of the road, and Killer saw railgun turrets in position every few hundred feet along the walls, with entire batteries of artillery positioned on the pentagonal bastions. The firepower on display was truly astonishing.

It took them a while to reach the only gate to the second tier of the fortress: the road took them in a long circle all around the centre of the fortress, before they walked onto a vanishing bridge which crossed the wide river of magma. The road under their feet was made merely of energy, and in any moment it could have been simply shut down, letting them fall into the sea of fire far below. Two enormous bastions, one on either side, loomed over the narrow, long bridge, while the gate resembled the one they had moved through earlier: the last stretch of the bridge was not made of energy, but of Godblood, and was a drawbridge which when lifted up would further protect the doors themselves. They walked further forwards, along another tunnel like the one they had already seen... and they finally emerged into another enclosed area, again trapped between two sloped walls. Ahead of them, though, now stood the main block of the prison. This was a monolithic, immense structure built around a circular tower which was, without exaggerating, three miles in diameter. Its base was protected by huge "steps": four enormous sloped walls, each built over the other and a bit smaller in diameter, so that a narrow road climbed up in a wide spiral which maximized the time that any enemy would have to spend under fire.

The "walls" were actually buildings, in the top row: enormous barracks blocks accommodated the huge garrison, made up of four divisions of angels and one full division of Arkangels, with room to spare for reinforcements: currently, the spare rooms were actually filled to capacity with Paladins sent by the Council. A whole wing of the octagonal top level, though, was a prison. There were no doors or windows facing either outside or inside the walls. The whole wing was a block of black stone, with a single, heavily guarded door leading inside.

"This is where we keep the less dangerous prisoners." Samael explained as a scanner in the wall near the enormous shutter took a detailed image of each of the seven eyes in his head, before huge, powerful engines loudly whirred to life somewhere within the building, their noise only barely audible through the incredibly thick walls. Killer stared curiously at the shutter as it slowly slid upwards, opening a narrow passage which lead into a dark place where no light at all was gifted to the prisoners.

There were snarls and roars and screams as the door opened and the ghastly reddish light of the Fifth Heaven flooded the vast room, and Killer made a grimace as the growls became insults and mocking calls against the angels. Samael snorted in anger and distaste as he stepped inside, bowing a bit to fit under the shutter not yet fully opened, Killer and Vesta following immediately.

The vast space was mostly empty, with only several bloody torture tables orderly lined along the hangar-like room. The cells, dark, small and uncomfortable, were lined along the walls, on three different levels. Killer observed these with interest for a few moments before realizing that the cells were actually literally cages with a structure made of Godblood and with bars made of Unworld residue kept confined by incredibly powerful magnetic fields: the use of the Unworld residue meant that no one could break out of his cage. Some of the monsters imprisoned in this wing potentially had enough brutal strength to bend even bars of Godblood, but all their strength was no use against the all-consuming, energy-destroying dark matter. The resulting cages were only slotted into holes in the enormous walls, and a gantry crane with a robotic arm was resting idly just beneath the ceiling: moving on rails, it could move from one end of the prison block to the other, and pick any of the cages, to drop them down at ground level.

"Each torture bed is surrounded by several circles of runes which protect the Inquisitor from any reaction of the prisoner. The beds have been enchanted with soul-sucking tentacles that drag the prisoner out of the cage, pin him or her to the bed and constantly drains away energy, so that the "patient" does not have, in any case, the strength to resist or, worse, to assault the inquisitor." Samael explained as they approached the nearest torture bed. As the Arkangel walked into the circles of runes, these glowed faintly, becoming visible for a moment... and Killer recognized many of the runes. There were several layers of protection, most put there by the Metatrons, and all would work together to shield the inquisitor from any reaction of the prisoner. The energy-draining tentacles were there to ensure that not even the most dangerous of prisoners would be able to break the barriers. Again, the design was sound and it had been refined over the centuries... but what worried Killer, in fact, was not an escape from within.

He looked at the long rows of cells, trying to spot the monsters within as they continued to howl and catcall, his eyes narrowing dangerously as he heard insults and teases coming from the cages, which were too dark to let him see much of the prisoners inside. "The Inquisitors are well protected... but they don't seem to have done much of a good job anyway. The prisoners don't sound broken."

Samael grumbled irritably under his breath at Killer's observation, glaring at the liger as he stepped closer to the first row of cells, while Vesta snorted in agreement with the huge male.

Killer finally managed to see one of the prisoners, a bulky, massive angel who was visibly and dramatically corrupted, his wings turned crimson and mangy, most of the once long and glorious feathers consumed and gone. He was muscular and powerful, even if years and years of prison had led him to lose much of his weight, his ribs showing quite noticeably. He had six arms, all of them locked by steel manacles which restricted his movements. His head was deformed by jaws which had grown enormous and cruel, lined with jagged, large teeth good for crushing and maiming, and ugly demonic horns had pushed messily out of his skull. He had to be one of the Fallen Angels of the ancient times, one of many who rebelled against God to take control of Heaven, eventually allying with Hell in order to succeed. Vesta and Gabriel had lead the armies of Heaven to victory in that tremendous war, and many of the traitorous angels had been sentenced to an eternity of prison and regular punishments.

The fallen angel looked at Killer with an insane grin, the bulky prisoner chuckling a bit before he tilted his head to the side to look past Killer, towards Vesta. He licked his lips at the sight of her, and then loudly called: "Hey, Vesta, you whore, is this big pansy your new toy-boy...?"

Vesta's eyes flashed with rage at that, and she moved forwards with a grin, cracking her knuckles while the prisoner laughed loudly and stared right into Killer's eyes, spitting towards him and barking: "What does she do to you, bitch-boy...? Does she whip your ass and take you out for walkies...?"

Killer only smirked coldly at this, walking closer to the bars of the cage, leaning forwards amicably as he softly said: "You talk big game, asshole, but the one who got properly ass-whipped by Vesta, here, is you."

The prisoner snarled at this, his eyes widening as fury filled his expression, the fallen angel barking: "You saying I'm all talk, blue-eyes? Easy game for you, while I'm caged like this. You lionheart, what are you...? A new Inquisitor-pussy who plays god while hiding behind two hundred protection spells...?"

"I'm no Inquisitor..." Killer replied easily, before leaning closer still to the cage, almost sticking his muzzle in through the black bars as he whispered: "But I might take you pieces of meat for myself, to add to my collection of toys... and believe me, you won't like what I'll do to you. You'll beg to be put back into the Inquisitors' hands."

The fallen angel grinned sharkishly at that, mocking Killer as he walked closer to the bars and then opened his mouth, lashing out with a tongue which had become a horribly mutated, sharply-pointed tentacle. It shot towards Killer's apparently exposed muzzle, the prisoner cackling: "You useless idiot, you'll pay for your arrogance!"

Samael's soldiers stepped forwards immediately, aiming their rifles at the prisoner, but before they could do anything, Killer had seized the tongue-spike into a hand and ripped it forcefully out of the angel's mouth, the prisoner stumbling backwards with a howl of pain as the liger tossed the squirming appendage away. Killer then lashed out with an arm, pushing it past the bars of Unworld residue, only gritting his teeth as the dark material burned through his skin like acid. Amazingly, it did not cause any further damage, though, as his body immediately began to hungrily absorb and process the residue, his arm regenerating almost instantaneously as the angel howled in shock and terror, stepping away from the hand of the liger.

Killer seized the fallen angel by the throat, chocking him brutally, fingers squeezing with the merciless force of a vice, and the liger dragged the prisoner forwards, forcing his face right into a bar of Unworld residue.

The angel howled in horrible agony as his face was melted away like butter, his flesh consumed greedily by the black substance, his hands clawing at Killer's wrist but finding the liger's arm simply unmovable. The prisoner trashed and cried in despair as the Unworld residue nearly tore its way all the way into his brain, before Killer shoved him hard backwards, sending him crashing on his ass in the center of the cage.

"See...? I don't need any protection... and there is nothing that can protect you from me. Pray that you don't end up as a full-time plaything in my dungeon, bitch." Killer coldly hissed, the angel staring up at him with eyes open wide, full of terror and amazement.

The whole prison had fallen silent at that point, as Samael and the soldiers stared in disbelief at the ease with which Killer moved through concentrated, focused beams of Unworld Residue, the prisoners in the cages staring at the newcomer with new, fearful respect.

Vesta looked around herself with a grin, her gaze touching each row of cages as she smirked, crossing her mighty arms and challenging them all to try them again... but no one dared to voice a word.

Only Samael, after an awkwardly long moment of silence, cleared his throat a bit as he walked near to Killer, saying nervously: "You... you just... moved through focused Unworld Residue, and it didn't consume you."

"Yes, that's what happened." Killer idly replied, stepping back from the cage and shrugging a bit. "It seems to be a feat I can pull off. I don't know how, my body has been building up a great resistance to the Residue, after I was badly poisoned with it. Several times." The huge male accurately avoided mentioning that he could actually absorb the residue and turn it into useful energy for his own benefit, since his extraordinary resistance to the destructive substance was already more than shocking enough. Samael was left speechless for a few long moments, before he mumbled: "If that can happen... we must make sure no prisoner is developing the same kind of resistance, or we will all be in grave danger..."

"It is not technically possible." Vesta said, before she turned to gaze at Killer with a soft smile. "Lord Killer is an unbelievable oddity, the exception that confirms the rule. But he is the Amon-Ra, and the Prophecies make it very clear that he has abilities and power beyond what we can imagine. I really don't think any of the prisoners have a single chance in the whole vast universe to develop any sort of resistance to the Unworld. It is the one thing you have no reason to worry about."

"How can you be so sure...? We all thought it was impossible to survive contact with these bars of focused Unworld Residue, but I've just seen that theory shattered!" Samael barked, pointing a hand at Killer as the huge male cursed under his breath, grumbling about letting his testosterone guide his actions. He should just have ignored the prisoner's screams and insults, and avoided that exchange altogether.

But Vesta did not seem to hold him responsible, nor seemed particularly worried, only sighing tiredly and rolling her eyes a bit before asking flatly: "Who would you call if you were to order those exams, Samael...?"

The Arkangel looked taken aback by the simple question, opening and closing his mouth a couple of times without voicing any word before he slumped a bit as he admitted: "It would have to be you. No one else, save for Lord God himself, knows as much as you about the Unworld."

"Exactly." Vesta agreeably replied, closing her eyes and nodding wisely, like a teacher approving the answer of a young pupil. "Doing exams to these arseholes would be a waste of time, believe me: there is no escaping the destructive effect of the Unworld. The Residue is the ultimate form of Post-Mortem Darkness. It is the mean through which each and every material, organic or not, is annihilated and reconverted into basic energy, destined to re-enter the cycle of Life from the very bottom. Resistance to such a universal law is impossible, and can't be "developed". Exposure to Unworld Residue will only kill these dumbasses, not give them any kind of resistance. Killer himself is not in contravention of the Unworld's laws: the residue hurts him... but somehow, he managed to break down even the residue itself into energy."

Samael stared at her for a few long moments, and then sighed dejectedly, holding his arms up in frustration. "Fine. Fine. You are the genius, and I have to believe you. Can we please move along...?"

"Absolutely." Vesta cheerfully replied, walking towards the door. She only paused in front of another cage, where another mutated, corrupt Fallen Angel was trying to hide in the far back corner, trying to become invisible in the darkness. Vesta, however, could see him very well, her eyes glowing a bright, expressionless white as she grinned predatorily. "You. I heard you, before... and while I agree that I have a fine ass, I don't think you should scream it around. And you most definitely aren't man enough to call me a bitch." The powerful female coldly whispered, before she made a squeezing gesture with her hand, and the fallen angel howled in agony, seizing his crotch and falling to his knees as a tremendous psychic force crushed his genitals. "Who is the bitch, wimp...?" Vesta calmly asked, and the fallen angel immediately shrieked: "I am, I am, I am! I'm the bitch. I'm the whore. Make it stop, make it stop...! Please, make it stop!"

Vesta smirked in amusement at this, pushing the tip of two fingers almost in contact... and the prisoner shrieked in a high-pitched voice as something wetly, sickly popped under his loincloth, which was stained with blood and other fluids. "Please, please... I beg you..."

Vesta finally relaxed her hand, and the prisoner collapsed on the floor of the cage, curling up in a sobbing heap as the muscular female turned to face the cages once more, waving idly at the prisoners as she grinned widely and shouted cheerfully: "Behave, boys and girls. Behave. I'm not known for my patience, but for how heavy my hand is. Keep that in mind."

Killer followed her out with an amused smile, while Samael looked at the ground, worried and thoughtful, only making a sharp gesture to his soldiers to send them out before closing the heavy shutter, sealing the prison again.

The Arkangel, Monarch of the Fifth Heaven, next guided Vesta and Killer up the narrow road which climbed up to the entrance of the immense circular tower that dominated the entire fortress. The mass of that dark bulwark was impressive, casting a shadow over the whole vast courtyard and blotting the sky out of their field of view as they followed the path which spiraled around the tower.

Even this narrow path was walled in from both sides, as it was surrounded by the small houses of the officers of the garrison. Each of these had a clear secondary role as stronghold, though, with the wall facing the street especially reinforced and with small windows thought for allowing archers and riflemen to put up a ferocious resistance.

Finally, though, they emerged on the edge of a dark, seemingly infinite abyss: Killer carefully leaned over the edge, looking down and gaping a bit as the bottom of the tip was well beyond the reach of his eyes, lost in the darkness miles below. A large trench, incredibly deep, had been dug in a circle around the main tower, and the only way in was through yet another drawbridge, followed by a long tunnel. This led to a large elevator recessed into the thick wall of the tower. Samael led Killer and Vesta over the small steel platform, and he looked up at a camera in the wall, which scanned his face to positively ID him. The Arkangel cleared his throat and then said "bring us up", clearly pronouncing each word, certainly to the benefit of a computer controlling his tone and voiceprint. Finally, the elevator buzzed into life and began to slowly move up, and Killer crossed his arms as he stared at the wall right in front of them: at each floor, there was a slit window with a Gatling machine gun aimed right at them. If an enemy assaulting the fortress somehow reached the elevator's shaft, he would find himself faced by a vertical, multi-storey climbing to be accomplished while being shot in the back.

Finally, the elevator stopped, the platform sealing the shaft shut as they emerged into a closed room with thick walls of reinforced concrete. "If we were hostiles, we would be suffocating in a cloud of toxic gas, right now." Samael exclaimed, not without satisfaction at the perfection of the multi-layered defences of the prison. They had to walk past another heavy shutter of thick metal, which just lead them into another death trap, another closed room with slit windows on both sides, through which the defenders could literally flood the small space with butters and fire.

Killer pulled a sigh of something like relief when, after passing another thick shutter, they walked onto a wide, miles-long circular gallery which ran all along the inner walls of the tower, looking down over a circular open space. It seemed that the top half of the tower was mostly hollow: far below, the floor was made of a clear, white crystal which glowed faintly. Killer had already seen that pale, sick, white glow... and he let out a little sound realization as he thought of Vampira, the soul-sucking katana that Ira used.

The bottom half of the circular tower was filled with an immense, solid cylinder of energy-absorbing crystal, and Killer, looking with attention, began to spot the circumference of smaller cylinders cut into the crystal. What Samael next explained did not surprise him, his brain having already come up with the likely answer... but nonetheless, it was amazing.

"Here we keep the most dangerous of all prisoners. The ones we really don't like to move, even for getting them tortured. There are some very powerful monsters trapped here, and so the torture is applied remotely, using psychic forces and discharges of energy and injections of Unworld Residue, all thanks to machinery built into the solid crystal." Samael said, before pointing down at one of the small circles visible in the floor. "You see those? That is the top of a single Containment Cylinder. We literally cut cylinders in the solid block of crystal using a powerful laser, since no blade could ever bite into that material, which is 10 times harder than diamonds. The crane on the roof - and here the Arkangel pointed at a gigantic robotic claw folded in the centre of the roof - is used to lift the cylinder up. Gaia herself has created this unique vampiric crystal... we only need to shove the prisoner into the cylinder, and the crystal seems to turn into water for an instant, just enough to swallow its victim. Then it becomes solid again, trapping the prisoner forever and immediately beginning to drain him of his energies.

The prisoners buried here in the Core are actually one of the main sources of power in the whole fortress: through the crystal, we suck away so much energy out of these monsters that we use it to locally strengthen the barriers around the castle. They unwillingly contribute to making their prison unassailable... and being constantly drained, they are way too weak to even think about an evasion."

Killer nodded silently, looking down at the glowing crystal, feeling the unnatural cold in the air as the immense block of energy-absorbing material attempted to prey even on their vital force, even from that considerable distance. Angels standing guard in the gallery, in fact, wore thick, sealed armor which combined high-resistance plating with a rubber-like layer covering the body entirely, all the way up to the neck, joining the bottom of the fully enclosed helmets. The armor was designed to protect them from debilitating loss of energy when standing guard for extended periods of time. Even with those protections, though, the guards had to take turns every four hours at most and, Samael explained, after serving four hours in the tower, the soldier was given a minimum of two days of service out in other areas of the tower, to recover before entering again.

Enormous guns, a curious hybrid of water cannon and rail gun, were installed on swiveling bases all along the gallery, and aimed down at the crystal, ready to fire against any prisoner attempting to break out of containment. The guns buzzed and crackled with electricity that ran down the large, fat barrels, but the weapons weren't Rail Guns: the electromagnetic charges were not intended to accelerate a projectile, instead being used to contain in suspension a huge amount of Unworld Residue. Thick metallic tubes, also charged with powerful electricity, could be seen running over the wall and reaching into the gun turrets.

Samael caught Killer's gaze before the liger could formulate a question, and the Arkangel pre-empted him, explaining: "We keep a vast reserve of Unworld Residue in a special tank located under the block of crystal. We use the Unworld Residue as an infinite sink where we can dump excessive energy and avoid overloads if any of the prisoners goes berserk. That ensures that even the most powerful monstrosity imprisoned here has no chance to break free.

The residue is contained by powerful electromagnetic fields: we can't let it touch anything, obviously, or in ten minutes it will devour the whole fortress. We have multiple back-up power sources for the electromagnetic field... if all power sources internal to the fortress fail, we have an underground connection with Heaven's power network. We have one of the highest priority levels: in case of emergency we can suck Heaven dry, if that's what it takes to keep the Unworld Residue contained."

"You also use it as a weapon." Killer observed, pointing to the tubes and the nearest cannon, and Vesta grinned widely as she cheerfully said: "That's my 'fault'. I was the one who designed the Unworld Residue containment and exploitation system for the fortress. The Unworld cannons are installed here and on top of the tower, outside, so they can be used to terminate an escape attempt or an external assault. They are kind of a last resort solution, as they are dangerous and terribly destructive."

"We think of them as super-weapons, to use in the desperate cases. That's why they are employed only at the very center of the fortress, in the most crucial point." Samael emphasized, looking down over the nearer cannon and pointing at its barrel. "Somewhat like in a rail gun, electromagnetic forces are used to fire "darts" of concentrated residue over distances as high as twenty miles. We can alternatively pump out, over a lesser distance, a constant "beam" of residue, and literally melt down any enemy we hit." Samael said, before looking at Killer for a few long moments. Killer looked back at the Arkangel somewhat awkwardly, until Samael looked at the soldiers standing nearby and ordered: "All of you, out. Wait downstairs... we need to talk privately."

The heavily armored soldiers hesitated for a few moments, but did not argue. Probably they decided that Samael, Vesta and Killer together were more than able to secure the gallery if anything was to go wrong while they were there. They saluted their commander, and orderly made their way to the elevator, soon vanishing as it descended back down its shaft.

"We can stop any enemy... but we couldn't stop you, could we...?"Samael bitterly asked when they were finally left alone, the angels well out of ear reach. The Arkangel crossed his arms with a sigh as he sat down on the parapet, shaking his head slowly. "You punched a breach in the divine barrier with barely a flex. You shrugged off concentrated Unworld Residue. How powerful are you...? How much can you do...?"

"I'm... strong. Very strong." Killer hesitatingly admitted, but Samael gave him a flat look, waiting impatiently for a better answer.

"Lord Killer is pretty damn modest, unless he is in the mood for rubbing his huge cock into faces." Vesta said, matter of factly, grinning teasingly at Killer as she crossed her arms and sat down on the parapet as well, while Killer coughed slightly, looking embarrassed at her typical choice of wording. "He is tremendously powerful. There is literally not enough weight in all of Heaven and Hell to give him a workout at this point, and he has physically ripped apart the core of a supermassive black hole just the other day. That's how he stopped Heaven from being siphoned away like dirty water."

Samael grunted irritably, refusing to comment, but his eyes betrayed his amazement as he looked over Killer again, studying him from head to toe.

"I don't think we could keep you out, or in, if you didn't want to collaborate." Samael finally grumbled, and Killer nodded in confirmation.

"It is quite extraordinary, and scary, to have to acknowledge that millennia of efforts to build up the most formidable defences ever seen are still not enough to stop you from potentially doing whatever you wish with this whole fortress." Samael snorted, his wings flapping nervously behind him, before he finally muttered: "I'm glad you are on our side, Killer. With you on our side, we can hopefully keep Sikanjal out. If she worries you so much... well. We wouldn't stand a chance, I guess." He fell silent for a moment, tilting his head to the side and probably grimacing under the thick helmet before explaining: "I really don't like it... but I have to take your word. I hope you really do want to do the right thing, despite the darkness you carry inside."

"You should know that we all have darkness inside. Some have more, some have less. But what really matters, is whether we can control it and keep it at bay, or not. And Killer is fighting to keep his well chained up." Vesta quietly observed, arching an eyebrow as she looked at him as if to urge him to reveal something... and the Arkangel snorted, then turned to Killer with eyes suddenly a bit less hostile. "Lady Vesta is right, of course... And since I saw your darkness and your crimes, I guess it is fair you get to know mine: I have my own lots of darkness within, so... I should know better than most what it is like to fight your battle. You see, Killer... I'm the general here, and even the Monarch of this whole Sky. But at the same time I'm also the prisoner number zero, so to speak. I've been put here to keep the fortress safe and to ensure the prisoners can't leave... and I can't leave either. The walls of this castle have been the borders of my world for the past few Eons." The Arkangel sighed, dropping his head on his chest and looking down at the floor with eyes that were evidently seeing distant memories, not the pavement. "Lord God has been generous to me, and he did not give me official prisoner status, or a cell. But I'm being punished, all the same. And rightly so. You see, I'm ambitious. And I love being what I am: a supernatural, powerful creature, the Arkangel with the greater raw power. I'm more monster than angel, and I think it shows, does it not...?"

"A little bit." Vesta teasingly replied, the muscular female smiling amusedly as the Arkangel gave her a flat look, while Killer only listened silently, picking mental note of the details.

"Very early in the life of the world, I brought Temptation and Greed to the mortal beings that God had created. I showed myself to them, I sought their veneration, their fear and envy of my power. I had them starting a cult of me. And I told them that they could have more, and become something greater, if they followed me... things soon got out of control, though. Envy and temptation were out of the box, and there was no putting them back into it afterwards. Mortal civilizations became infected with greed, and they still are... because of me." He paused, then snorted in something which sounded like bitter, sarcastic amusement as he added: "I know it was my fault. I admit it freely, too. But you know what the truth is...? To this day, in the deep I still tell myself that it was the mortals' fault. I hate them, Killer. I hate the mortals for their weaknesses. For becoming power-hungry and greedy like me instead of adoring me and making me stronger. That after all this time I still try to offload the fault on them... well. It makes my punishment twice as deserved. I know, but I can't change it anyway. I try, but I can't."

Samael paused, then stood up and turned to look down at the crystal below, gripping into the parapet and leaning forwards on his arms, lost in thought. Vesta put a hand lightly on his shoulder - careful not to poke the eye in it, which stared at her in a way that Killer couldn't help but find unnerving. The Arkangel did have eyes in his back, too, down his spine and in the root of his wings, and those large white balls, each with a dark slit in the middle, unblinkingly surveyed each little movement he made.

Samael snorted in amusement as his rear eyes detected a hint of a grimace on Killer's face, the Arkangel turning around and shaking his head slowly, making Killer think that, under the unchanging expression of the cruel jaws of his helmet, the huge male was finally smiling a little. "I know, my eyes make people feel awkward... it would be worse if they knew that the eyes in my body never close, not even when I sleep. I guess I'm the being best suited to work as jailer... it is very, very hard to do anything without me catching sight of it. But, it does look sinister .So, I understand you."

"Sorry, I did not want to be rude or anything." Killer replied, bowing his head a bit and holding a hand up in apology. "It just... makes me a bit nervous."

"Yeah, I know." Samael easily replied, his tone agreeable and almost amused as he added: "Yet I sense no horror and no hate from you about my past crime."

"That's probably because I can relate to it." Killer replied calmly, looking Samael in the eye. "I am powerful... yet, I always want more power. I'm afraid of what I could do, I'm scared by my inner wishes, by how little consideration of the life of others I have when I let my dark lusts take the reins... yet I can't stop. I can't get myself to avoid it. I can't stop desiring more power, more worship, more slaves, more praise." Killer muttered, leaning onto the parapet as well and making a grimace. "I can understand playing with the mortals, like you did. It is wrong, I know... yet, it is delicious. It is a temptation I can very well understand."

"Huh." Samael grumbled, nodding slightly and looking thoughtful for a few long moments. "But you might know that I didn't stop there, either... when I realized my mistake, instead of asking for God's pardon, I joined the ranks of the Fallen Angels, and fought the war against my God and Creator. I feared his punishment and hated my failure... and my answer to that was attacking my Creator. I wanted to depose him, kill him, even. The rules would have changed, and mine wouldn't have been called a crime anymore. It would still have been, in my mind: there is no way I could have ever cancelled the awareness of my errors. But I would have escaped the punishment."

"You did return to Elelyon, eventually, though." Vesta helpfully reminded, and Samael grunted in agreement, but with bitterness at how little relief it gave him.

"I did... eventually, I found the little bit of honor and courage to do the right thing, and beg for my God's pardon. In a way, I so managed to betray both sides.

But Lord God, Elelyon, was incredibly generous, welcoming me back with open arms, as a prodigal son. Even my marriage with Lilith was not really condemned, even though we basically gave birth to some of the demon lords that to this day rule Hell and give Heaven grief... we were separated, with her confined in Heaven... but Elelyon did not part us, and actually allows her to visit me once a year. It is far more than I deserved..."

Samael paused, and then looked at Killer with cold, stony firmness as he added: "I won't betray my God again. I owe him everything, and I'm ready for any and every sacrifice. Guarding this prison is my punishment, but is also my pride. This is what God expects of me, and I will not fail, Lord Killer. I will not let this fortress fall, and I will not allow its prisoners to poison the world once more."

"Samael... we have both screwed up big time in our past. But I can promise you this: I want to put things right, and I will do all I can to succeed. I will not let Sikanjal, or anyone else, set these monsters free again. This much I can promise." Killer calmly and firmly replied, sustaining the gaze of the Arkangel without fear or hesitation. The liger, however, was forced to add: "To do that, however, I might have to... act in a way you would not approve." He could have omitted that, but he felt that being sincere was the only good course of action to take.

Samael stared at him in silence at that, and finally nodded. "I hope that will not be necessary, Lord Killer... I don't know if I could let it happen without stepping in your way. My oath is to guard this place on behalf of God. I don't want to break my promises to God a second time."

"I hope we will find a workable solution, Samael. I've already had to kill a noble soul who did not deserve such an end, nor should have been my enemy. I don't want it to happen again. But I really can't risk to hand the content of this fortress to Sikanjal. She's more than enough of a nightmare as it is." Killer calmly said, before the two shook hands, the Arkangel bowing his head a bit as he observed: "If it takes my sacrifice, so be it. At least I know that these scumbags will be well guarded even after I'm gone."

It took a long while to walk all the way back to the gates of Retribution. It was hours before Killer and Vesta could move out of the fortress, leaving Ira in the castle to guard it from any assault. Killer hoped that Sikanjal would be busy for a while still, getting her body properly repaired and, worse, enhanced and empowered even further. But if she decided to strike early, Ira would be able to launch the alarm and also slow her assault down to give time to Killer and Alexis and the others to rush in to the scene, with her new, godly powers. The cobra was still mastering and exploring her new and nearly limitless abilities and strength, but Killer knew how skilled, wise and determined Ira was: if there was someone who could master being an uber-goddess in little more than days, that was Ira.

While they walked back towards the gates of the fortress, he had thought for a long while about acting immediately, taking the prisoners away from the castle, but he abandoned the idea. It would have been the final nail in the coffin of any hope for an agreement with the Council, and he felt it would have been a betrayal of Samael's trust. The Arkangel had softened up considerably after their little talk, and had treated him far more amiably on the way out: Killer hated the idea of having to soon act in a way that, he was sure of it, Samael would never be able to approve.

Now the huge male was trying hard to focus on the incoming audience with the Council, however, trying to find the right words and attempting to piece together phrases capable to convince the senators of Heaven that his intentions were good, that Typhon couldn't be trusted, that they were being maneuvered to serve Typhon's wishes, and that they had to support his plans.

The more he tried to find good arguments, the more he grew convinced that it was not going to work: his arguments were good and he was convinced that he was right, but he was well aware that he was basically going to say to the Council: "don't listen to Typhon, listen to me. You've been blind and stupid, he's been fooling you for all these centuries, and you really ought to turn your backs to him and do as I say."

As good as his arguments were, he was going to try and turn the senators' world upside down, and that was extremely unlikely to work out. Besides, he was going to have a single, brief attempt at his disposal, while Typhon had had centuries to coax the senators of the rightfulness of his actions. Up to when Killer showed up into the senate's bunker and again once he left, Typhon would be able to work to ensure the council continued to support his plans.

"We don't have a single hope in hell, do we...?" Killer idly asked, gazing to the side to see Vesta shrugging a bit as she simply replied: "We don't have a chance. But you are right... we must try. We must give them a last chance of redemption."

Killer nodded silently as they walked down the valley, which actually was a deep, wide wadi, the ancient and now dry bed of what had in the past been a great river, capable to dig that mile-deep canyon in the reddish stone of the desert. The Sun Desert covered much of the 7th Heaven, the last and holiest of the Skies that composed Paradise. It was certainly fascinating, with its vast sea of dunes of dark red sand and the enormous cliffs and canyons of stone made incandescent by the sun, which here looked so low on the horizon and so close to be within arm's reach. In the distance, Killer had earlier been able to spot the Monastery of the Sun, one castle which was one of two main Seraphim garrisons in the area. The other was the Monastery of the Moon, a castle built in the middle of the rainforest which covered the other half of the 7thHeaven: it was a land of contrasts, with one half scorched by the Sun and the other enjoying bright nights with almost constant presence of the full moon, low on the horizon and exceptionally bright. On the cliffs around the Monastery of the Moon were the nests of the dragons which the most courageous of Seraphims traditionally tamed to use as flying mounts.

Now, though, there wasn't much that Killer could see, other than the near vertical cliffs of stone rising towards the sky on either side of the narrow valley. At least, though, they provided a graceful shade, which made the ancient riverbed cool and welcoming, carpeted with green grass and flowers, even though only a tiny stream was left of the once mighty river. Up above, on the surface, the desert was boiling hot and unforgiving: beautiful, but cruel in its indifference. From the air, the Valley of the Kings wasn't much different from many other wadis disseminated across the vast desert. Everyone in Heaven knew that the Valley of the Kings existed, but very few knew were exactly to find it. Most people only knew it was somewhere in the Sun Desert... and that made it a very secure place: without an idea about where to search, finding the right wadi among so many was going to be a long and debilitating odyssey in the scorching heat of the desert.

The wadis had all been protected with barriers and anti-portal and anti-teleport magic, so that there was no tell-tale energy signature coming from a lone canyon. All other defences were well hidden and invisible from the air, as was the entrance to the bunker itself. The designers of the Council's emergency refuge had rightfully determined that the first and perhaps best line of defence was simply being invisible.

Nonetheless, as Vesta guided him down a zigzagging, narrow staircase with steps only barely rough-hewed in the natural stone, Killer noticed several slit windows aimed at the stairs: they had all been accurately hidden into existing cracks and crevices in the cliffs of stone, making them hard to spot, but he saw many. Enough, in fact, to understand that much of the stony cliffs on either side were hollow, as for millennia the armies of Heaven had dug barracks, tunnels and pillboxes and enclosed weapon platforms right into the red stone.

Killer was thankful that most of the garrison was made up by actual angels and Arkangels, and not by the clone Paladins, the mindless ghouls controlled directly "by the Council", which actually meant by Typhon alone. Had the Paladins been in charge of the security in the valley, the only way in would have been to fight their way through.

Vesta's numerous official requests for an audience in front of the Senate had all been turned down, and the Paladins had long been intent on assaulting Killer on sight, so there was no doubt that a major battle would have started.

Real angels were far more reasonable, and Vesta had convinced them to let them pass, with relative ease. They had grumbled about the Council not wanting to see her, but Vesta was still the Queen of Seraphims, the right hand of God and a literal legend across the whole of Heaven: she was Paradise's best warrior and general, and also was the most respected and productive scientist and historian. Her word still carried more than enough power to get any angel to bow and make way.

Killer and Alexis saw large patrols of Paladins walking along the cliffs more than once, but they had never attacked. At the beginning it had been surprising, but it took little imagination to guess that Typhon himself must had instructed the Paladins to behave and keep the distances, for now at least. He surely did not want a fight right outside the Senate, started by Paladins, with the risk of seeing the angels siding with Vesta and Killer. There was also the thorny issue of the Paladins being laboratory-engineered clones, something which went completely against God's teachings and laws. Killer and Vesta suspected that the senate was not aware of how Typhon had suddenly managed to increase more than tenfold the number of Paladin regiments, and to absorb without difficulty increasingly dramatic combat losses. They hoped they were not aware, in fact. Vesta was carrying several computer chips they had ripped out of killed clone Paladins, and they were going to show them to the senators: it was their only chance to get them to turn against Typhon.

It had taken a while to reach the only entry point to the massive underground facility. The whole entrance was completely invisible from the sky, since it had been built into a massive recess in the base of the cliff. There were millions of tons of stone above, providing the bunker with the best possible protection from attacks coming from the air. Artillery located in two bunkers, one on each side of the gates, protected the entrance from threats coming from the ground, while an armoured barracks block built into the stone, right beside the door, was occupied by the large company tasked with guarding the entrance. Vesta got the angels to welcome her and Killer into the barracks, and from there, using the interphone, she asked to talk directly to some high-up in the Council. Eventually, she managed to get Metatron himself, the Chancellor of Heaven, on the phone.

It had been a struggle, albeit only verbal, to get the Chancellor to allow them into the bunker: he had grudgingly accepted to let Vesta have the hearing she required only after she had very precisely reminded him of her powers and prerogatives. Metatron's concession was nonetheless made only with extreme reluctance, and only because of the very real risk that openly humiliating Vesta with a new refusal could have lead to a rebellion of the garrison. The closer they got to talking to the senators, the more evident it became that their attempt was doomed. By now they could tell that the whole government of Heaven was clearly hostile, and that what the senators wanted was merely a pretext of any kind which allowed them to officially remove Vesta from power, putting her definitively on the list of the traitors.

The atmosphere was tense when the enormous Godblood shutters slid out of the way, opening a passage into the cliff: the whole garrison seemed well aware of the tense standoff in act, and the angels were aware that the turning point had been reached.

Many of them, as Killer and Vesta walked down the stairs, descending several floors deeper underground, whispered their support and well wishes.

Much like in Retribution, they had to get past a succession of checkpoints and gates before finally reaching the massive wooden doors leading into the senate chamber. The chamber, Vesta had explained, was an accurate reproduction of the original room in Caernarvon, the capital of Heaven, located in the Sixth Sky. The rest of the bunker was spartan and functional, devoid of any decoration compared to the monumental building which normally accommodated the Council, but that single room was the exception to the rule, and the doors, finely chiseled with the images of past history of Heaven, made it plenty clear.

Vesta stared at the doors for a moment, easily recognizing herself, depicted in most of the frames which remembered the past victories of Heaven, and even in some panels which depicted her in her guise of scholar. It made her snort in bitter amusement, the muscular female making a grimace as she muttered: "How times change. They used to wrap themselves in my victories and used them as their shiny clothes... and now. Now they brand me a traitor."

"We will put the record straight." Killer replied, his voice firm and no hesitation at all in his tone. "Not today, probably, as they won't listen. But we will, in time."

Vesta nodded, giving him a soft little smile which was full of gratitude for his support, and then she reached for the large golden ring on the door to knock. She took the heavy ring in her hand, but stopped as they were quickly approached by an angel wearing a silver mask and a chiseled, splendid armor over a long, flowing vest of white, his wings glowing a bright, pure white. The mask hid his expression, giving him a perennial, gentle smile, but his eyes, glowing in the holes of the mask, betrayed a far more serious and worried expression, in that moment. The armor wrapped tightly over a body which was easily 25 feet tall, following the profile of thick muscle. Killer saw no weapons on him, other than a long golden staff in his hand, topped by a sphere of what looked like crystal, or glass. A strange fog floated within the sphere, swirling and dancing constantly, its color changing and evolving with each second as flashes of light and energy showed through the curls of smoke.

"Lady Vesta..." He said, taking a bow in front of the queen, before he turned his attention to Killer, bowing his head slightly to him. "Lord Killer... I know why you two are here."

"I don't doubt of it, Uriel." Vesta calmly replied, her eyes narrowing a bit as she looked over his features, trying to see past the mask to judge what he was thinking and planning. It was sad that it had come to this: ever since God had left, things had been worsening and now, on the brink of civil war, the angels couldn't look at each other without suspects and worries and second thoughts. It hurt Vesta to the core, but she was way too wise to try and ignore the risks, and act like nothing was wrong.

"Lord Killer, Uriel here is the commander of the garrison and the "Light of God". He is the Arkangel of Knowledge, and also the interpreter and guardian of Prophecies. The Council asked him to gauge the accuracy of Azura's prophecy, and to identify the Amon-Ra. He pointed his finger at you." Vesta explained, holding a hand up and pointing towards the Arkangel. Killer nodded, bowing his head slightly and unsure if he should thank him, or curse him. He had probably good reasons for doing either thing... as Amon-Ra he had been summoned to Heaven and got to know extraordinary people like Vesta and Ira and the others, but being the Chosen One also meant being at the center of the most catastrophic clash in the history of the universe. And that was both exhilarating, for the power it brought him, and scary, because of the exact same power and the responsibilities it implied.

"I trust you two know that your attempt is a desperate one." Uriel urgently said, skipping the presentations and looking firmly into their eyes, his voice low and intimate as he stepped back from the doors and gestured from them to follow him. They walked a few steps away, standing near the thick wall of reinforced concrete and stone, and the Arkangel added:"I'm talking to you because now more than ever I am convinced that Lord Killer is the Amon-Ra of the Prophecy. And it is becoming increasingly evident why, and what kind of power that implies."

Killer made a bit of a grimace at that, but sustained Uriel's gaze with firm determination, and with the curiosity of hearing more from the Arkangel, or getting to know what that "increasing evidence" entailed. That was not the right moment for the questions, though, and it was Vesta who urged Uriel on. "And...?"

"And we must plan for the incoming failure. Diplomacy is not going to work, I'm afraid, and the barracks are already filled to the brim with Paladins that Typhon sent along. It is a trap, Lord Killer. Typhon is betting everything on the Council officially branding you as traitors, and he will take power as soon as it happens." Uriel said, turning to Vesta to look her into the eyes. "Before you even ask, I'm with you. I might not approve everything about Lord Killer... but Typhon is only leading us all to disaster. If I'm alive, is just because of you teleporting us away from the Wall." The angel turned to Killer at this point, and bowed deeply to show his gratitude.

"But Typhon clearly plans to take your life, and that of your angels, today. He will complete the job that was not finished that day, and put his Paladins and his servants in all the important positions." Killer said, connecting the dots and seeing the whole picture. "For Vesta and me, the Paladins aren't too much of a problem. But I bet Typhon knows, and he will be trying to secure more firepower. I wouldn't be surprised if Taranis and Thanathos showed up as well."

"That would be a problem." Vesta muttered, before turning to Uriel to ask: "What can you do to help your angels getting out of here, super quick?"

"Not much." Uriel replied, closing his hands into fists and repressing a shiver of both fury and fear. "But I don't want to see any more of my angels dying uselessly. I've been giving them discreet orders, to have them gathering up in the guardhouse near the entrance of the bunker. I've ordered them to take shelter inside and resist against the Paladins when... the moment comes. But I will not be able to bring them to safety. As soon as the Council understands that we are on your side, the spells that protect the valley will turn against us and make us all prisoners inside the wadi. There will be no way to portal away, and I can't get them to do it now, or Metatron will immediately know and understand that something is wrong."

Vesta nodded in agreement, then grinned gamely as she gazed sideways at Killer, musing: "Think you could shatter those spells, and bring everyone out, big boy...?"

Killer nodded, grinning a bit himself and slamming a fist into the palm of his hand, rolling his shoulders slowly and eager to crumble the Council's world of illusions and lies. In a way, it was going to be liberating. "Make sure to gather up your angels at the gates. Let the rest to me: I'll find a way to break out."

"Thanks, Lord Killer. I will." Uriel replied, and now he smiled, bowing his head forwards before he rushed back up the stairs, telling the angels standing guard to follow him.

"Well, now we can really say that we didn't come for nothing." Vesta observed, smiling slightly, genuine relief in her voice. "I did not dare hoping for so much. Let's see if there's some other good result that we can obtain." She slammed the golden ring twice, and the doors slowly swung open, revealing a mostly dark room and a cage made of thick bars of Godblood. The long rectangular cage connected the door to the centre of the circular room, with the senators sitting on the circular terraces running all around the room. Vesta and Killer stared at the bars with horror, and rising rage: they were going to stay behind bars, like criminals, watched from the senators sitting higher up. The room was incredibly dark, with only one zone powerfully illuminated, the centre, like the field of an arena, where Killer and Vesta would stand. Powerful floodlights were aimed straight down at the cage, while the seats of the senators were in the shadow, so that Killer and Alexis would have been in plain sight of everyone, while being pretty much unable to see any of their audience. It was a humiliating and infuriating set up, which made Vesta grit her fangs in barely contained fury, as she witnessed her Eons of sterling service to Heaven being entirely disregarded and betrayed. It made Killer sick to see how low the Council had fallen, and he could only imagine the extent of Vesta's rage, sadness and sheer shock. He wrapped one arm around her shoulders, squeezing her gently against his side, and they traded a silent gaze full of meanings. It was enough to reassure her about her merits, and she kissed his cheek gently before walking ahead, leading him in.

Loud grumblings and whispering and murmurs rose from the benches as the senators watched them walk to the center of the room, the heavy double doors swinging closed behind them. Killer coldly glared around the room, but the floodlights aimed down at them made it almost impossible to distinguish any of the many shapes in the darkness all around.

Right in front of them, he was able to see the benches of Heaven's government, though: the bottom desk was occupied by Metatrons, sitting shoulder to shoulder, on either side of Metatron himself, the Chancellor. Even with the light shining right in his eyes, Killer had no difficulties in seeing him: Metatron was sitting on a throne on an elevated pedestal, with a large lectern in front. Moreover, Metatron was enormous, a giant ball of fat clad in golden and purple robes. His wings looked ridiculously undersized for his astonishing mass, and there was no royalty in his look, despite the silvery crowns on his three heads, each with a mask of silver, one etched with a wide, open smile; one with a furious snarl and the last with an expression of sadness. Killer immediately got the feeling that Metatron hadn't always had that miserable look. Or at least, he hoped he hadn't. His silvery masks, at that point, made him look more like a clown than anything else, and the floating scrolls which circled and orbited around his immense waist were tattered and torn, and only partially covered by words fading in and out of existence. The smaller angels who carried his name as sign of their role also looked far less impressive and purposeful than in the past: their scrolls were just as empty and useless. Once, those floating parchments would constantly glow with energy as words appeared on them in a constant, neverending flow, updating the ministers about everything that was said or done within Heaven's borders. Metatron used to have an unblinking, all-seeing eye over the whole of Heaven, thanks to the aid of his assistants. But his power had been fading over the years, and after the cataclysm that had literally reshaped Heaven, the magic of the Metatrons was basically in tatters. The scrolls no longer knew what was said and done in Heaven. They had almost no word left to give.

Behind Metatron, a higher terrace hosted the seven thrones of Heaven, destined to the Monarchs. Most of the seats, though, were currently empty, some tragically so: the first throne, that of the 1st Heaven, was empty because Gabriel had fallen in battle at the Wall. Identical was the reason for the emptiness of the sixth and seventh seat: both Sachiel and Cassiel had died at the Wall, standing with Gabriel to the very end, until the hordes of demons had overwhelmed them. The fifth seat, of course, was empty because Samael could never leave Retribution: his throne had actually been empty for almost the entire story of Heaven.

The Fourth Throne, Michael's one, was also empty, but that didn't surprise Killer all that much. The huge male grinned a bit to himself, thinking that Michael would not be eager to be in the same room with him anytime soon, after getting his arms torn off like pieces of cloth, and his legs beaten into pulp.

The two thrones of the 2ndHeaven were filled, although both Zachariel and Raphael looked horribly embarrassed and ashamed as they met Killer's and Vesta's gaze, and both Monarchs clearly wished they could have just vanished entirely. The seat representing the Third Sky was the only other one filled: Anahel stood there, his face hidden by a silvery mask, and it was impossible to tell what expression the metal was hiding. The horse was Manticora's unloved, unwanted husband, forced upon the Seraphim by her father Typhon, and although Anahel was for the most part a decent and warm hearted angel, Killer could not pardon him for having been forced down Manticora's throat like poisoned food. Moreover, the worst defect of Anahel was that he was a bit of a coward: not on the battlefield, but in the rooms of the Senate. The horse tended to just go with the flow, following the leading faction of the moment and trying, out of sheer kindness, to never clearly and definitively pick a side, not to compromise his relationship with the other. For what Killer knew, and from what Manticora told him, Anahel sincerely didn't do that for reasons of convenience: he really tried to be friends with everyone at once out of kindness. The problem was that such behavior, in the political world, was unpractical and counterproductive at best. The real issue, anyway, was that Anahel was literally a puppet in the hands of Typhon: the horse needed to stay on the good side of the god, if he wanted to continue living with Manticora. And the horse definitely wanted it: he craved Manticora for real, loving her egoistically enough to want her at his side even if the only reason for her staying was her abusive father's order, enforced with brutal strength when necessary.

A third terrace, higher still, had the seats for the Council of the 7 Gods, but all the seats were empty, included the eight throne, placed in the middle on an elevated platform. The golden chair, placed behind an elaborate lectern of finely chiseled hardwood, used to be the seat of God, and in recent times it had been used by the ruling prince, the designated deputy of Lord God: Typhon. But, just like Michael, it looked like he had decided not to show up.

Killer and Vesta took position in the cage, standing side by side and fearlessly looking straight at Metatron, ignoring the whispering and mumbling coming from the dark benches as they held their arms behind their back, in martial rest but without giving the Council the honor of standing at attention. The chancellor shifted in his seat a bit, the throne groaning under his weight as the fat, enormous angel nervously reordered some papers on his lectern before clearing his throat. "Lady Vesta of the Everlasting Dawn, Queen of the Seraphims, Glory of Heaven, Bringer of Wisdom, has requested this hearing in front of the plenary Heavenly Council to contest the current direction of our holy war against Hell. Lord Killer, thought to be the Amon-Ra of the Azura's prophecy, accompanies her." The chancellor paused, letting his words echo across the circular, vast room, resounding between the tall columns of lucid marble that stretched all the way up to the dome ceiling, far above in the complete darkness. "The Heavenly Council has decided to grant you the hearing you requested."

"Took you long enough. And quite some convincing." Vesta icily remarked, her words met with hisses and grumbles of disapprobation from the benches, as Zachariel and Raphael bowed their heads in shame, pointedly staring at the papers on their desks and seeming to shrink away from the queen's gaze.

"Lady Vesta, please. Let's not get confrontational; it will not help your arguments: the feeling of most senators of this Council is that your conduct at the Wall was negligent and some would call your retreat a betrayal. The orders were clear: the army had to stay put and fight Hell's armies back." Metatron rebuked, his voice taking on a condescending note which caused Killer to grit his teeth slowly, Vesta's eyes glowing a brighter and deadlier white, her expressive sapphire irises no longer visible as she coldly glared at the chancellor and at the benches as many senators erupted into shouts of approval for Metatron's statement.

"It wasn't an easy decision to leave the field. I'm not one for retreats, and it will stay in my memory forever, haunting me. But at the same time, I'm absolutely convinced that it was the only thing we could and should do." Vesta firmly stated, before raising a hand to point at the empty thrones. "Almost all Monarchs fell uselessly that day, mowing down demons that Hell can easily replace, while our numbers only shrink more and more. We lost Gabriel, and Cassiel, and Sachiel, and so many of our soldiers... for what? What good would have come from standing put until we were all killed? The battle was lost, and the war, almost. Following the order of this Council would have led the armies of Heaven to the complete annihilation. We would have been spared the dishonor of retreating, but Heaven now would be just another province of Hell."

"Liar!" Someone shouted from the benches, and several other shapes stood up from their seats, moving in the darkness and shouting against Vesta, Killer feeling his rage mounting as he gazed at the muscular female, who stood with cold, stony determination, ignoring the ruckus.

"There is no way Heaven's army would have been defeated, if it hadn't run away from the fight!" Someone else howled, and Vesta made a grimace at that, tilting her head to the side and muttering: "You are too accustomed to victory. You never had a part in any of the fights, yet you gorged on the glory that Heaven's warriors gained on the battlefield. We have gotten you too used to the good things. But in war, senators, there are two sides fighting. Hell has exceptionally powerful and skilled warriors of its own, and despite what you like to think, no law of this universe says that Heaven must always win. We can lose, and we repeatedly have, in this war. And we will lose even worse if we continue being divided and if we continue to follow the current, absurd, self-destructive directions this Council constantly sends out."

"Traitor!" Someone shouted, and this made Vesta step forwards with a snarl, before both Zachariel and Raphael stood up from their seats, turning towards the senators on the seats behind and holding their hands up as they boomed: "No one should dare call Vesta a traitor. Woe to who dares thinking of such heresy! Let her talk, what she says is right."

"You are accomplices of her plans!" An old senator shrieked, pointing her long finger against the two Monarchs, and the two Arkangels gaped in astonishment, Raphael growling: "Which plans...? Have you really all gone insane? You can't seriously think that the champion of God has turned against Heaven!"

Metatron stepped in as more shouts followed, the fat angel slamming a golden hammer on his desk and shouting: "Order! Order! Let Lady Vesta expose her assessment of the situation!"

Metatron had to smash the hammer down several other times before the many angry senators reluctantly sat down, the grumblings continuing even as Vesta coldly and rationally explained: "As you should be aware, but might not be due to hiding all the time at the bottom of this deep pit, the current situation is the classic calm before the storm. The cataclysm that reshaped Heaven has destroyed and dispersed most of the demonic armies marching on the lands of paradise. The demonic portals leading to Hell, thankfully, have also been shattered. This gives us a brief respite from the fight. However, the relative Time-Flow is now dramatically disadvantageous for us: Hell has many hundreds of years at its disposal for each day we have. However you do your math, it means they enjoy an immense, disproportionate advantage over us, and as soon as they manage to open again the door, they will literally flood Heaven with new, well equipped and excellently trained armies."

"They wouldn't have such advantage had the supposed Amon-Ra followed the Council's orders! He has caused the Cataclysm, with your support!" A senator howled, and many banged their hands on the desks in approval, shouting against Killer and Vesta, before the first voice, which came from the ancient, slender lady who had pointed her finger earlier, added: "Your judgment is clouded and corrupted by Lust, Vesta! We know that you completely ignore your vow of Chastity and Purity. You've never kept faith to that vow, but ever since the Amon-Ra arrived, you've been behaving like a frenzied Succubus!"

Killer gaped, shaking his head slowly as he felt the rage mounting in his body. He couldn't see the face of the old bitch, but he could tell she must have had a grin going from ear to ear as she squeaked: "You have been deceived, Vesta, tricked into following him. Can't you see that he is the worst enemy of Heaven...? He nearly tore paradise apart! Have you truly become a Succubus, incapable to see past his cock...? You can't have fallen in love and completely lost your reason like a horny teenager."

Killer couldn't believe his ears, and he was livid with rage, stepping forwards and reaching for the bars... before he reluctantly relaxed as Vesta touched his arm lightly, the female looking actually genuinely entertained by the allegations, even as the senators laughed of her. "The problem is not mine, old tart, but yours. You probably wouldn't have become the wrinkled mummy you are, had you had some cock when it was time for it." Vesta paused as the senators fell silent in shock, staring at her with gapes of surprise and embarrassment, before the queen added: "Not his cock, by the way. You really don't have the physique for taking it without popping like a condom ten measures too small."

"Order!" Metatron squeaked, the angel shifting uncomfortably in his seat and looking flushed. "Order, this is unacceptable. This is the Council, keep an appropriate behavior!"

"Vesta has no responsibility for the cataclysm. That, it is true, was caused by me. It wasn't planned: my intention was to save both the Divine Tree and Gaia... but in order to save Gaia, I was eventually forced to destroy the Holy Tree. There was no alternative. And, by the way, I had no idea that such a disaster would follow." Killer explained, his deep, booming voice bringing silence in the room and almost shaking the tall columns, even as he tried to control his rage and keep his tone low and calm.

"Kemuel had been carefully evacuated in the course of the battle, limiting the casualties to the minimum, too. No one knew what would happen had the Holy Tree been damaged: to destroy it felt like a good trade, in order to save Gaia." Vesta added, but the senators, predictably, did not sound convinced or impressed, until she added: "We can also announce that Lord Killer has ripped Shi apart. The parasite, who has been a problem ever since the Creation, is now well and truly gone, and will never return."

There was a collective gasp of surprise and amazement, and the mumbling that followed, for the first time, had a positive note about it.

"Shi... is gone...?" Metatron asked, gaping slightly and looking astonished by the news, swallowing as Vesta nodded with a wide grin on her features. Killer felt the attention shift to him, as countless eyes sized him up, before one voice from the benches grumbled: "But it is impossible! Lord God himself had to desist and imprison the parasite. It always regenerated. It will do so again."

"It won't." Killer and Vesta said in unison, trading an amused smile before Killer tapped against his thick, muscular chest and said: "He won't return, because I've used his own approach against him: I've absorbed him, consumed him, and assimilated him."

"As if there wasn't enough evil inside him...!" The senator from earlier exclaimed, her voice making Killer grimace with cold rage, especially as several other senators voiced their approval.

"Let's assume that Shi is gone." Zachariel helpfully said, trying to get the debate to progress. "It is something we should all rejoice for, and we thank Lord Killer for his efforts. But what we really want, is to hear the proposals of Vesta for the future."

"Our proposal, of the Amon-Ra and mine." Vesta corrected, even as she nodded courteously to the monarch, thanking him from his intervention. "First of all, Heaven must stop being divided. I've had to evacuate my Seraphims and their families from towns and garrisons because Paladins have hounded them down as traitors. This is unacceptable. We are loyal defenders of Heaven, and it is absurd that Heaven itself tries to kill us. This has to end immediately." Vesta paused, gazing over the benches and letting her words sink in before she continued. "Next, we must abandon the pretense that we can defend the whole of Heaven at once. We can't. Ordering the troops to not give up a meter of 'Holy Ground' only leads to useless deaths. We must concentrate, not disperse, our meager forces. We have to focus our forces on a small number of highly defensible strongholds, where the superior number of the demons will be compensated by the fortifications. From the fortresses, we can launch raids against Hell's armies as they form up, and hit them hard. Trying to defend every village at once will merely make us easier to destroy."

"That is unacceptable!" Someone howled from the benches, and many shouted in agreement, banging their fists on the desks as someone else barked: "I've never heard such heresy: abandoning whole regions of Heaven to the demons...? It is folly! The filthy beasts must be crushed and swept away from the holy lands!"

"Third..." Vesta continued, undeterred, only raising her tone so that her voice boomed over that of the senators. "We need to depose the Ruling Prince. Typhon is responsible for the disaster, and he is indeed trying to take over Heaven, no less than Hell is."

A storm of shouts, catcalls and derision followed her statement, but Vesta only glared coldly at the benches before slamming her fist into the bars of the cage, bending two of them outwards like they were made of putty as she roared: "Silence, assholes!"

The senators booed her insult, but quickly fell silent nonetheless as they stared at the thought-invincible Godblood bars, bent and nearly shattered by her tremendous strength, her musculature flexing and bulging with power as her eyes glowed a stormy, furious white.

"You shall listen. With attention. You might be blinded by his lies and flattery, but you must have realized, at least partially, how many laws Typhon has changed since taking post. All changes have been for the worse, and most have had the obvious objective of concentrating more power in his hands. Lately, he has sent his Paladins chasing down angels, more than demons, with all sorts of excuses. He has been hounding those who support the Amon-Ra, he has imprisoned some of the most ancient and glorious families of Heaven for alleged transgression of his new and bigot laws, and taken away their belongings. He has ordered the armies of Heaven to stand and die in a lost battle at the Wall: in short, he has been driving us apart, incarcerating many of us, killing many more, and making paradise weaker and weaker. How can you not see that HE is the traitor...?"

"Lord Typhon has promulgated laws meant to protect the holiness of Heaven. Those who have been punished were bringing shame to Heaven." Metatron coldly replied, and Vesta couldn't help but lean against the bent bars of the cage, grinning teasingly as she mused: "And you? How much shame do you bring to Heaven...? Look at you, Metatron, gorging on the riches sequestered from the "punished", and giving in to gluttony. You have turned into a lardball of epic proportions, despite the fact that in Heaven we do not need to eat, and even if we do it is almost impossible to put on weight."

Metatron glared at her, crushing the large quill he was using to scribble on the parchments on his desk, but even through Killer heard him grit his teeth even from the distance, the fat angel did not found the words to reply.

"Lord God himself chose Typhon as his deputy. He ordered him as ruling prince in his absence. How can Typhon be a traitor? If he was, God would have known." A senator shouted, and Vesta snorted in contempt, rolling her eyes as she replied: "Lord God never, never, never claimed to know everything and to be infallible. You should remember better than me that he always said he could and did make mistakes all the time. The law that says that God is infallible is just asshattery that Typhon came up with a few years ago." She paused as several senators screamed that she was disrespectful of God, and then she firmly countered: "Am I...? I'm quoting his exact words. While you have changed dozens of his laws. If you think He is infallible, why you changed the laws he gave us? Surely the old ones are correct, and the current aren't."

Killer smiled, nodding imperceptibly in approval of her words, pleased to see the senate fall silent in something which sure seemed like shame, for the first time since the hearing began.

Vesta, wisely, decided that that was the moment for the all in, and she opened one of the leather pouches on her belt, pulling out the chips removed from the killed Paladins. "Senators, here I have evidence that proves that Typhon is not "having exceptional success in recruiting and training benevolents into Paladins. That always sounded like bullshit to anyone who knows a thing or two about what it takes, and how long it takes, to become an actual Paladin." She threw one of the chips onto the desk of Metatron, and then explained: "Computer chips. The most sophisticate of mortal technology, used to artificially "fill up" a blank, child-like mind with combat knowledge and even experience coming from millions of past and present warriors. These chips are installed into the spine of clones, mass produced in secret laboratories somewhere here in Heaven. That's how Typhon has formed entire new divisions of Paladins. It is something that goes against every law of God, and against the most basic morality."

Haunting silence fell over the senate room, the whispers dying down and several of the shapes in the darkness shifting awkwardly, as if embarrassed. Killer bit his lower lip, sensing that something was very, very wrong: the expected reaction was surprise, shock, even disbelief... but the nervous silence was a bad sign. Vesta's own expression betrayed a hint of disappointment and resignation: their worst fear had just turned into reality. They already know...

"It goes indeed against the Law of God. But never before had Heaven been in such danger... Lord Typhon recently explained to this Council that he had to take the difficult decision of using clones in the light of the fall of the Wall. It makes no one happy, but it is necessary, and we have to thank Typhon for thinking quickly and giving Heaven a new way to make up for the combat losses." Metatron finally stated, and several senators nodded and voiced their agreement with loud yeah-yeah exclamations.

Vesta and Killer traded a quick gaze: their attempt had officially failed. If the senate already knew and somehow even approved of that monstrous initiative, there wasn't much that could be done. Vesta, however, still tried to push one last time.

"We should not create living beings, rob them of a real life, implant a computer in them and send them to die in our wars. It is a crime against Life, giving birth to beings literally meant to be expendable in the thousands. Heaven can win this war without losing its honor and staining its reputation forever with such a horrendous crime." The queen confidently promised. "Some of our most capable warriors are gathering to continue the fight, and the Amon-Ra's strength is growing steadily, surpassing that of the gods. We can save Heaven and put an end to the slaughter, if we stop the civil war that is tearing us apart. Typhon must step down and face a trial for treason. The mass production of Paladin clones must end, and we must adapt our strategy to nullify Hell's immense current advantage over us."

"Listen to her. She is Vesta of the Everlasting Dawn, champion of God. Do not forget what she has done over the course of Heaven's history: she has fought and worked harder than anyone else for the glory and safety of Heaven. She once more will lead us all through the dark!" Zachariel passionately incited, standing up from his seat and turning to face the senators, before Raphael stood up as well and remarked: "The clones are a shame. A crime brought forth by the very core of Heaven. I repeat what I already said more than once: we shouldn't allow this crime to continue."

Some of the senators began murmuring and reflecting with greater openness about Vesta's proposal, even as Metatron hammered the desk and squeaked for the Monarchs to sit down and restore order. Raphael seized Anahel by the shoulder, rattling the horse and urging him to add his voice... but the Arkangel only stared at Killer with something like fearful confusion. He appeared sympathetic with what Vesta had said, but still he refused to move and to say anything that could compromise him in the eyes of Typhon, his gaze half-apologetic, half-furious as he looked at the massive male liger who, he knew all too well, owned the heart of his wife Manticora.

"Come on, you coward..." Vesta mumbled, looking at the horse as if she could pierce into his mind and operate him like a robot... but Anahel only crossed his arms on the desk and faked great interest for the papers on it, ignoring Raphael and Zachariel's nudges and the growing confusion in the room as an increasing number of senators voiced their concern and second thoughts, while the majority poured shouts and noise over their words.

Killer touched Vesta's shoulder lightly, and when she turned to look up into his eyes he shook his head slowly: they were not going to get anything out of Anahel, the horse looking almost shell-shocked as he darted gazes back and forth, trying to gauge the shifting moods inside the dark room. In that moment, a translucent screen appeared in midair ahead of the ruling prince's throne, and a grinning Typhon appeared on in, flanked by an evilly happy Michael, the two sporting new, massive robotic arms composed of a dark metallic alloy which resembled Sikanjal's own incredibly resistant armor. Their hands were out of sight, but Killer could guess powerful, oversized prehensile talons, the power in those limbs coming from several Soulstones encased in the thick armor plates and from several mighty actuator engines in the joints, fed by thick cables and tubes which bulged rhythmically with an unknown liquid: a mixture of blood and other substances.

Typhon grinned down at Killer with a mocking expression full of dark glee, the god's eyes flashing with satisfaction as the ruling prince prepared to vibrate the decisive blow. "Senators!" His voice boomed, and silence quickly fell over the room as the members of the council sat down, with the exception of Zachariel and Raphael. "Don't be fooled by Vesta's promises, nor blinded by her glorious path. Remember what I told you the other day: isn't it all happening exactly as I predicted? I warned you that they would come, and that with the excuse of the clones they would seek to have me removed from power."

The senator from earlier clapped her hands loudly at that, looking around herself and down at the other benches calling: "See...? See...?"

Michael added his voice a moment later, leaning forwards to better show his newly installed robotic arms: "The supposed Amon-Ra is a danger to us all. He has been ever since he arrived. He has systematically ignored the Council's orders, broken the magic of the Metatrons, and before destroying the Holy Tree he tried to kill both me and Lord Typhon. He ripped our arms off: it is because of him that we now have these machines instead of our limbs. It couldn't be clearer: Killer wants to take Heaven and rule over it whole. And Vesta has been corrupted, dragged into Killer's plan."

"Had I wanted to take control of Heaven, I wouldn't be standing here doing nothing. I would have already broken out of this cage, and crushed the senate under my foot." Killer coldly replied, looking wrathful as his short patience pretty much ran out. The senator from earlier cackled and pointed a finger at the cage, the female mocking: "That is Godblood. No one can tear through that!"

"Really...?" Killer teased, before seizing one thick bar in one hand, squeezing it hard: his enormous bicep barely flexed, but the thought-indestructible metal groaned loudly as it was crushed and crumpled down to the thickness of spaghetti before the huge male pulled backwards and effortlessly ripped the bar in half. "Once more, you are wrong." Killer remarked, even as shrieks rose from the benches, alarms beginning to blare across the facility as a second cage of even thicker bars descended from the roof to protect the senators, putting the benches behind a solid protection as Vesta laughed loudly, her eyes glowing as she looked at the many senators who had jumped up from their seats and rushed for the exits.

"Your fences will not contain him, bitches... you continue not to understand his unstoppable force." Vesta amiably stated, as Typhon glared at them from the screen, looking livid.

"They are traitors, and a danger that must be eradicated!" Typhon boomed, before his attention turned to Metatron, the fat angel hurrying up the stairs towards the exit, his little legs looking comically undersized for his huge, wide, flaccid body. "Stand and vote, Heavenly Council! Heaven does not fleet before his enemies. Give me the authority to persecute them, and the traitors will pay!"

Metatron winced, only stopping when he was near the top of the benches, near a swirling white portal heading to some unknown hiding place. The fat, enormous angel turned around and slammed his hammer on a random bench, hurriedly calling: "Council, what is your vote?".

"Traitors, traitors, traitors!" The senator from earlier shrieked, and most others rose their hands in silent agreement even as they nervously walked towards the portals leading out.

"No, no...! You can't be serious!" Zachariel and Raphael shouted, but Metatron hurriedly slammed the hammer one last time and boomed: "Lord Typhon, you are given emergency powers and command of Heaven's forces. Killer Huxley and Vesta of the Everlasting Dawn, you are hereby declared enemies of Heaven, traitors of God, and you are sentenced to death or eternity in Retribution, whichever proves the most practicable..."

Typhon cackled in victory before the screen vanished from sight as Vesta's roar of fury rattled the senate room and caused the floodlights to explode and fall down to the floor, Metatron winching and rushing into the portal with his huge belly jiggling ridiculously, his hammer forgotten and dropped on the floor. Killer meanwhile charged forwards with a roar of fury that shock the very foundations of the bunker, the gigantic male smashing through the damaged Godblood fence like it wasn't even there, several bars exploding in pieces as he stormed through the center of the circular room and seized into the second, even heavier fence, gripping into the bars and tearing them out of the way with a snarl, throwing the immense poles into the benches as he leapt up onto the first terrace, crushing the desk of Typhon and slapping the throne out of his way as he snarled: "You can't be so stupid to think you can declare me your enemy without me crushing you into pulp!"

The remaining senators rushed through the portals with shrieks of fear, but Killer snarled and enormous tentacles jutting with cruel bone spikes stretched out of his shoulders, whip-lashing with brutal force towards the queues of cloaked senators pushing each other to get out of sight. At the last moment, through, Killer reluctantly had the tentacles missing, deliberately slamming them down near the senators, but not on them. The tentacles smashed through desks and tables and the very stone terraces and through the columns like they were all made of sands, crumbling hardwood into slivers and sending statues of marble exploding into fragments.

He was eager to destroy the senators themselves... but he realized that it wouldn't be helpful. They were old morons, tricked into following the false morality and honor of Typhon... killing them wasn't going to do any good for Heaven, nor was it going to leave a nice impression on Zachariel and Raphael, which had rushed out in the other direction, meeting Vesta instead of going for the portals. They had secured the support of the two Arkangels and of their troops, and Killer did not want to have them regretting their choice.

He grinned viciously, however, as he caught sight of the noisy, annoying senator that had been the most vocal supporter of Typhon's line, and the most irritating of voices in the room. She wasn't going to get away without a punishment hitting her and leaving lost-lasting scars for her insults to Vesta, for her arrogance, for her hostility, for her stupidity. One of his tentacles shot towards her, the spikes retreating inside the thick black flesh just before the enormous appendage wrapped tightly around her and lifted her high into the air, bringing her back towards Killer regardless of her hopeless struggling, of her weak punching against the potent coils as she let out breathless shrieks of horror. The other senators left her behind, the portals all closing without any of them trying to go to her aid, and Killer licked his lips slowly as his tentacle brought her face to face with him, the panic in her eyes only seeming to feed his strength even further as his massive, thick chest flexed, masculine muscles bulging explosively as the senator shivered and screamed, her legs weakly kicking at the air as Killer teased: "You think you are so high and mighty, sitting in the senate, huh...? You think you know a lot. I'll have you know what real power is like..."

Zachariel and Raphael looked concerned by Killer's behavior, but their attention was seized by more pressing problems as an enormous shutter of several-foot-thick Godblood descended quickly over the only door leading out. Vesta saw this too, and seized the two Arkangels by the shoulders, hurrying towards the door and shoving them forwards... before another of Killer's tentacles stretched forwards and under the shutter, pushing back against it until the powerful engines moving the heavy block of metal began to groan and sizzle. They exploded a moment later as the tentacle slammed the shutter back upwards all the way, before it bent the thick Godblood like it was nothing but cheap tin, the gigantic shutter exploding out of its movement rails, crumpled into a deformed wreck which fell to the floor with a roar of thunder which echoed across the bunker.

A whole platoon of Paladins had already flooded the corridor beyond the doors, though, and as soon as Zachariel and Raphael pushed open the heavy doors of chiseled wood, large caliber bullets began to tear through the doors as the Paladins on the other side opened fire without reserve.

The two Arkangels fell back with grunts of shock and pain as several bullets rammed into their armor, knocking them stumbling as others tore bleeding holes in their wings, but they drew out their weapons, preparing to fight as Vesta slammed a hook kick into the doors and sent the two enormous, heavy pieces of hardwood exploding out of their hinges to smash like meteors into the Paladins, knocking them over like pins as several burst apart into splatters of gore, crushed like bugs by the heavy doors.

Zachariel and Raphael charged forwards, but Killer's tentacle once more reached ahead of them, again jutting with tremendous bone spikes as it shot through the ranks of the Paladins and whip-lashed powerfully to the left, crushing the Paladins against the floor and the wall, squishing them into splatters of blood and gore, before the tentacle twisted and shot in the opposite direction, ramming the remaining enemies into the wall on the right and crushing them into pulp as it pierced deep into the reinforced concrete, grinding the Paladins into shreds and liquid.

Vesta grinned widely at this, barely restraining the dark laughter that she felt coming to her lips. The queen pushed Zachariel and Raphael out, instead, and urgently ordered: "Run ahead, get the guardhouse. Uriel and his soldiers are already there. Join them, we will be there in a moment!"

Zachariel and Raphael hesitated only for a brief instant before following her order, the two Arkangels storming out and charging up the first of many ramps of stairs as alarms blared across the bunker and Paladins rushed down from the higher floors, setting up checkpoints along the narrow corridors. Vesta watched them turn the corner before walking back into the senate room, a smirk on her face as she walked back to Killer and easily hopped onto the desks on the first terrace of the senate, laying down on her side and easily pulling one muscular, long, beautiful leg up in the air as she reached down with one hand, pushing her fingers under her loincloth and under the elongated plate of armor covering her groin. The queen hissed hungrily as she rubbed two fingers down her black-fleshed labia, drops of pleasure already wetting her lips as her body burned in anticipation of the show. "Fuck... I hate having to hurry you up, but you'll better make it quick."

"I know..." Killer easily replied as he reached up to rip the silvery mask off the senator's face. At first glance, her features were youthful and full of grace, but it took just an instant to see that much of her beauty was due to surgery and plastic. Even through the fake beauty applied in layers over her flesh, wrinkles were already starting to show again around her amber eyes. She was a tall and slender mare, her large breasts also generously enhanced with plastic, and Killer snorted as he squeezed viciously on her swells, until one of her implants burst between his fingers. He spat on her face, growling: "And you, you fake little slut, dare to say a thing in front of Vesta...?"

The senator only trembled harder, her eyes open wide and her lips trembling as she tried to scream but only managed to let out a breathless gargle of pure terror before Killer brutally slammed her down into the benches, and then the little air she had in her lungs came all out in a shriek of agony as her back bent to a painful extreme. Killer seized her long dark hair, roughly using it like reins to control her as he easily mounted her, before he almost playfully smashed her face down into the desk, forcing her face down into Vesta's boot, ordering calmly: "Worship that boot, bitch. That's the only thing you are worthy of doing to Vesta."

The queen herself gripped widely, looking darkly amused as the senator tremblingly began to nuzzle and lick at the tip of her boot, polishing the cold metal and lapping up along the cruel spikes. Vesta hissed slightly in pleasure at that, only regretting that she was wearing enclosed armored boots instead of open lace boots like Alexis's usually wore. She made a mental note to make corrections in her style now that she no longer had any reason to play by Heaven's rules and indications. She pushed the cruel steel spikes of her sole into the senator's face, licking her lips and idly pushing two fingers inside herself, teasing her hungry labia and feeling her own hot wetness as she savored that weird awareness for a moment. It felt weird, after so many Eons, to consider Heaven, or at least the government-controlled Heaven, an enemy. It felt painful, too... but it also tasted like freedom. The freedom of doing what she wanted and pleased, the chance to be herself, not "the queen of the Seraphims" and the "great scholar". She didn't regret anything: she had done so much for Heaven, yet they had kicked her out, branding her a traitor, without hesitation. That removed any hesitation she might have had. They had called for it. And they are gonna get it.

"Get that tongue moving, whore." Vesta ordered, grinning as she crushed the senator's muzzle under her boot, the spikes tearing bleeding gashes in the plastic-enhanced features. "Xenia, you arrogant, uptight, snob bitch... you have no idea how many times I've thought about cleaning my boots over your face."

Xenia groaned loudly, tears rolling down her cheeks together with streaks of blood as she hurried to lap up the sole of Vesta's boot, before the senator shrieked again as Killer flipped her over, belly up, her legs on either side of him as he roughly seized the front of her dress and ripped it into shreds, leaving her naked as he leaned over her to bite down into her neck, the huge male snickering in dark pleasure as one hand went down to undue his thick belt before he snorted and actually made his pants and underwear vanish altogether, releasing his immense black shaft, the gigantic cock semi-hard and growing quickly as it throbbed hungrily.

Xenia's eyes bulged even wider at the sight of the titanic black shaft, the senator trashing on the desk and shrieking, bucking hard against him and trying with all her strength to push him back, her hands gripping into his powerful abs and shoving... but the only effect of her struggling was to amuse Killer and Vesta even more, the queen grinning widely as she stared at Xenia's hands pathetically beating against his muscular chest. "What, are you scared...?" Vesta mercilessly teased, crushing Xenia's head against the desk but carefully leaving her eyes uncovered to that they stared at Killer's immense black shaft as the male seized his spectacular cock in one hand, stroking himself leisurely to full, massive erection. "You were such a proud, strong bitch when you said his cock had turned me into a Succubus... Let's see what it does to you, huh...?" The queen exclaimed, grinning predatorily as she played lustfully with herself, twisting three of her fingers inside her dripping passage while Killer sealed his jaws over the side of Xenia's neck, blood spurting up from the horrible wound as his fangs pierced deep into her flesh, the huge male growling hungrily as he tasted her blood and savored her shrieks and her hopeless punches and shoves against his massive, muscular front.

He seized her by the hips, his claws tearing deep into her flesh and blood streaking down his fingers and arms as he gripped literally into her, almost scratching her bone as his vicious grip tore trenches in her meat, her legs kicking uselessly at the air as she begged now, shrieking for them to let her go... but Killer only snarled and tore back, ripping a thick piece of her neck off and chewing on her raw flesh as blood sprayed out of the wound, which left her vital artery exposed, deliberately left intact by the huge male, who only grinned predatorily down at her.

Thick bursts of blood splattered across the desk and painted the papers and Vesta's boot crimson as Killer growled hungrily and stroked his gigantic cock in front of Xenia's face, her eyes going wide as she shook her head in denial, staring at his vast cumslit, at the thick, enormous, fat cockhead looming in front of her face.

"Looks like his cock has already conquered you, bitch..." Vesta hungrily teased, before she cackled as Killer swung his enormous black shaft down and slapped the senator hard across the face, slamming her head to the side and crushing her face down into the tabletop, a loud, sick crunch coming from her mouth as her lower jaw was dislocated, a couple of teeth flying out of her maw together with a thick splatter of blood and drool. Vesta licked her lips and seized into the monstrously heavy shaft, hungrily stroking the gigantic cock and punching Xenia in the face again and again as she did so, the senator moaning and sobbing miserably as her blood painted Vesta's forearm crimson.

Killer and Vesta traded a hungry, predatory look a moment later, however, as he licked the blood from his lips and grabbed his enormous cock by the base as he stepped back, drawing his hips back with an eager snarl, eyes glowing with violent fire as he guided his immense cock towards Xenia's tight, virginal sex. He grunted as he pushed almost playfully against the unused, tight labia, her pussy quivering at his touch, wetness dripping out of her as her traitorous body, even wrecked by pain at his brutal treatment, made ready for him, like a kingdom surrendering to an unstoppable conqueror.

Killer and Vesta shared a hungry kiss as their eyes flashed violently, full of dark glee at the sight of Xenia's face, literally ruined by his cockslap: she looked like she had been beaten down by a gang of criminals. Her nose, once beautiful thanks to surgery, was now broken and squashed on her face, bleeding profusely. One eye was almost closed, swollen up and blackening quickly, her lips had burst and she was missing teeth, and she had her cheek torn by a deep bleeding gash. Her blood and sweat and drool mixed with his thick, dense precum, covering her features in a mask of slobber.

"You owe me a better fuck, later." Killer growled as his kiss with Vesta broke, and the muscular female licked her lips eagerly, nodding. "Looking forwards to it, big boy."

Vesta gripped into Xenia's soaked pussy, spreading it as wide as it would go, but the senator was a virgin, and Killer's cock just too massive for it to be in any way helpful. It only added to Xenia's terror and humiliation as the queen cackled at the feel of hot wetness leaking from her passage.

The senator had no time to think of the humiliation when Killer suddenly rammed forwards, though, the immense head of his cock brutally smashing its way inside her, bulldozing her labia and obliterating her hymen, sending blood spraying out in a thick gout that arched high into the air, causing Vesta to buck her hips with a groan of amazed delight, her eyes burning with lust as she stared down at the violent invasion. The enormous, thick pillar of black flesh forced forwards into the annihilated hole, blood and juices leaking down the immense member as it ripped into her vagina in a single, powerful thrust, stretching her insanely wide, breaking her apart, until Vesta snarled in delight at the sick sound of Xenia's pelvis breaking in half like a biscuit. "Fuck yeah...!" Vesta exclaimed, gaping hungrily as Xenia howled in agony, screaming out the little air she had been able to breathe in as her hands clawed desperately at his chest, unable to do anything as his massive body filled her world, covering her entirely, while her legs only fell down, twitching uncontrollably and kicking weakly beside him as she ceased to feel her limbs, her panic burning her mind as she felt more and more of his immense length invading her insides, her eyes fixed on the gigantic shaft still mostly outside of her as Vesta seized her by the mane and forced her to watch every massive inch sinking in.

The titan rammed forwards again, snarling in vicious delight, muscles bulging explosively, flexing with vigor and hunger as her little body tore and broke under his assault, as he slammed his hips forwards and buried more of his immensity into her, her blood spraying up all the way to his face as he annihilated her once virginal hole, his tongue scooping up drops of her life fluids as he smashed through her cervix and crammed her unused womb full of virile fuckmeat, before he growled as they all heard something else loudly tearing within her, his cock forcing even deeper, bulging her body out of shape, her belly swelling outwards in the shape of his monstrous shaft.

Killer could have easily impaled the small mare, killing and breaking her into pieces... but he wanted her to survive, so he gave only one last mighty thrust, burying his immensity into the ropes of her intestine, sending out another thick gout of blood and fluids which exploded out of her vagina and down over his enormous shaft and on his abs.

He stopped, growling in bliss at the feel of his cock squeezed on all sides by her tight, constricting, violated insides, the huge male taking a moment to just enjoy the amazing tightness and wet heat, grinned viciously down at her as she stared at him with eyes filled with agony, tears, hate, shock, awe, her lips trembling as her mouth gaped and her throat unsuccessfully tried to voice out screams which were snuffed into breathless gasps. She let out a groan of shock as Killer shifted position a bit and she was lifted clear off the table by his immense shaft alone, before the senator stared down between her legs as Vesta seized the thick black cock and stroked the massive length still resting outside of her, the queen leaning down to tease: "Look, little bitch... if he decides to hilt himself in, you are history."

Xenia bucked against the table, trashing on the spot in panic and clawing into the wooden furniture to try and push away from the immense cock, but Killer only grinning in dark delight as he jerked his hips hard back and then pistoned forwards again, beginning to ferociously thrust in and out of her, pounding her devastated vagina with savage force, making her feel like she was being torn into pieces as another scream left her lips, ripping her throat raw.

Killer seized her by the neck, crushing her throat in his fingers as his other hand seized into a fake breast, piercing through both plastic and flesh and sending rivulets of blood rolling down her front as he hungrily, ferociously manhandled her swell, rolling it under his palm and squeezing it hard while he used her like a toy, holding her aloft as he pistoned his enormous cock in and out of her devastated passage, while Vesta eagerly stroked her hands up and down the long half of black shaft still uninserted, the queen mercilessly punching the bloody hole of the senator at the end of each jerk, sending droplets of blood exploding in every direction.

Each time his goliath cock tore backwards, Xenia's ruined labia were dragged out with violent force, her insides prolapsed as they stuck to his cock like the remains of a burst, way too tight condom, pieces of her guts also following as blood sprayed out of her hole. He licked his lips as he felt himself stretching and tearing her as he pistoned back and forth powerfully, burying his immensity deep within her before ripping back to slam himself in again, his enormous testicles slapping her buttocks with savage force, bruising and wounding her flesh with their heavy, huge mass as he leaned over her and covered her entirely with his huge form, growling in dark delight.

She shrieked whenever she managed to get some air to her lungs between a shove and another, and she still tried to push against his thick, broad chest, clawing and punching uselessly against his massive, harder-than-steel musculature. It only added to Killer's and Vesta's pleasure, their eyes glowing as they looked down at the senator, who stared back with shock and terror, trembling like a scared rabbit. It only fed all the better the dark urges of the huge male, who murred in delight at the loud, sick, wet sounds of his cock ripping her apart as it penetrated her depths again and again with his monstrous force and proportions, her head shook from side to side as she howled in agony and stared with horror at the titan that was so viciously destroying her.

He did not have the luxury of time, as the battle could be heard already raging up around the guardhouse, so he had to compress the times and urge himself to come quickly, his thick cock tearing in and out of her ruined passage with growing speed and power, the black shaft streaked and stained crimson with her blood that now rushed out in steady gushes and thick splatters from her badly damaged body. He soon felt his member stiffening further, a familiar heat rising as he grinned and began to slam himself in with even greater force, nailing her to the senate bench as she powerlessly spasmed and cowered under each thrust, her fingers clawing into the hardwood as she tried to steady herself, unable to do anything else.

Blood and gore squelched loudly out of her, splattering his cock, his enormous balls, his abs and groin and leaking onto the scattered papers on the bench, crimson streaking over the ancient, dark wood as droplets of her life fluids splattered everywhere around them with each brutal thrust of his gigantic cock, the titan pummeling her brutally and growling hungrily as his shaft sunk a bit deeper into her, the senator's eyes almost popping out of their sockets as they bulged and rolled up in her head, her legs trembling uncontrollably and hanging lifelessly out on either side of him, her lower body completely devastated as he snarled in feral, dark bliss, feeling his orgasm rising rapidly.

He began to pound her even harder and faster, feeling his cock burning with pleasure and eager to release the boiling hot content of his gigantic balls as his muscles bulged explosively and he crushed the bench under his pounding, Xenia getting smashed down into the broken furniture, groaning in breathless agony as her vision faded in and out, the world turned mostly crimson for her, until he roared as he blasted the first immense load of his hot semen into her.

She had no strength left to do anything, her hands pathetically pushing against his thick chest, her weakness made even scarier by the sheer vigor coming from his massive form as his seed flooded her, his mighty thrusts slamming her back and forth, lifting her off the ground like she was a doll, a powerless toy. Vesta cackled as she pumped on the dozens of inches of immense shaft that were exposed, licking her lips as the titanic cock throbbed powerfully, erupting gallons and gallons of thick, potent cum inside the spoilt senator, huge volleys of mixed seed and blood spurting out of the devastated vagina, even as her belly bulged and swelled, filling up with the enormous load until thick cum started to come out of her mouth. Xenia could only moan and cry weakly now as she was slammed up and down the enormous shaft, but Killer wanted to drink of her shriek again and so thrust in deep and then gyrated his hips, grinding his steel-hard cock against her ravaged passage, making her howl out all her breath, her back arching and insides clenching hard on his cock. And then, when he finally tore out of her, his cock came free with a loud, wet pop, a thick cascade of potent semen rushing out of her gaping, devastated hole as she groaned weakly, shivering under the flood as Killer and Vesta pumped the rest of his enormous load all over her, coating her from head to toe in thick, hot cum. When it finally ended, the senator was crying and broken, almost insane, her body devastated and bulging out of shape with how much of his potent load filled her up as she laid flat on her back in a lake of his seed, surrounded by the remains of the senate's bench and bleeding profusely from the many wounds on her body, from her ruined face and chest but especially from her forever-gaping, annihilated vagina.

Killer only rolled his shoulders, flexing his muscles with a sigh of satisfaction, and walked away from her, with Vesta at his side and with his gigantic cock towering arrogantly, fully ready and eager for more even as it dripped with cum and blood. There definitely was no more time to waste, however, and he and Vesta decided that they had already taken enough of a risk, spending those long minutes down in the bunker while more and more Paladins flooded the Valley of the Kings and put the guardhouse under siege to make sure they would never leave, or at least not alive. The problem, of course, was not so much the Paladins, but the possible direct intervention of Typhon, Taranis and Thanathos.

Killer and Vesta rapidly found the way to make up for the lost time, though, as Killer stepped to the center of the room and threw his head backwards with a snarling grin, allowing energy to flow through his veins, arching his back as he let his body grow in strength and size, trebling his height in seconds as his form glowed a bright golden, thunderbolts of sheer energy crackling around him...

Moments later, both the Paladins crowding the valley and the angels barricaded into the guardhouse ceased to fight to instead look upwards in shock and awe as the solid, immense cliff of red stone cracked and shifted... before it exploded upwards, pushed up by an immense and still growing Killer, the eyes of the titan glowing a deep, icy sapphire as he straightened and pushed the enormous piece of stone, as vast as a large town and over a mile thick, high up above his head, holding it in one palm as he smashed his way through the cliff, his erect, immense cock casting a deadly shadow over the valley.

The guardhouse and the bunker were suddenly roofless, as the titan took a step forwards and let his enormous foot settle upon the armada of Paladins assembled outside: they fired their weapons at his toes, and pushed up their spears and halberds, but they were as insignificant as dust to the now gigantic god. They were stepped upon like bugs, and soon burst apart into tiny, wet stains on his sole, before his foot fully settled and its weight cracked the earth, the ground caving in and revolting under such immense power. A chorus of screams rose from far below as Killer slowly, deliberately twisted his foot on the spot, grinding an entire army out of existence like he was crushing the butt of a cigarette.

Uriel, Zachariel and Raphael looked up in awe, still shocked that the solid roof of the bunker was gone, as well as the immense stone cliff above, the sky instead filled by Killer's immense mass, his testicles looming above like planets, casting their shadow upon angels and Paladins, making them all feel equally minuscule and doomed. The immense titan turned back to face the enormous crater left where the underground bunker used to be, and he laughed darkly as he slowly, majestically stroked his colossal cock, flaunting his obscene power over them all as he sent a thick, immense drop of precum falling into what was left of the senate room. Uriel couldn't help but gape in shock as the concrete floor cracked and exploded into fragments, the ground shifting and caving as the moon-sized drop slammed down into the earth with meteor-like force, filled with sperms the size of whales. It was a powerful statement, and it left friends and enemies alike staring in a mix of terror and awe, before the titan slowly turned back.

Killer grinned and looked down at the rest of the armada of Paladins, throwing the immense cliff of stone down upon them, and ignoring the pathetic assaults of the survivors which tried to hit his bare toes with all they had at their disposal.

Quickly, he turned his attention to the magic barriers which made it impossible to teleport out of the valley, and that trapped them in. Being at such immense sizes, Killer had triggered pretty much all of the rune circles, and they now seemed to glow maliciously from everywhere, the runes burning crimson all along the top of the cliffs on the two ends of the valley as fields of energy glowed faintly in the air above. Killer slammed his hands into the barrier like he would against a solid glass wall, pushing against the might of Heaven's magic, his biceps bulging explosively as the shield first resisted, then began to cave and crack loudly... until he smashed his way through, roaring in victory as the barrier dissolved.

He needed no further cue, and immediately focused his thoughts on Eaglenest, teleporting there along with Vesta, Uriel, Zachariel and Raphael and all their angels.

Just in time, because as he was vanishing from the spot, immense portals began to open on the horizon, Taranis and Thanathos charging through these.

They had gotten away without a major clash with the two gods, but Killer and Vesta fully expected to be pursued. As soon as Killer reappeared, just outside of Eaglenest, he began to smash the magic seals and barriers put up by the Metatrons around the fortress. Now that they were officially enemies of Heaven, those runes were no longer defences, but threats: thanks to them, Typhon could turn Eaglenest into their prison, preventing them from going out, killing and torturing them in horrible ways and keeping them under complete, all-seeing surveillance. Obviously, that couldn't be allowed to continue, and Killer quickly smashed all the layers of that hostile magic, replacing the circle of runes with his own energy, setting up the best defences his godly power could give without first turning the place into a true Sanctuary imbued with his essence.

Vesta, Ira, Alexis, Gaia and the others helped to re-fortify Eaglenest with their superior knowledge of magic and with their very own immense energies and powers. Gaia, for obvious reasons, was particularly effective at building up well hidden and extremely deadly defensive systems. They acted quickly, according to the emergency plans that had long been drawn up with the civil war in mind, and with the added urgency of the possible assault of Thanathos and Taranis. Surprisingly, though, the two gods did not show up. Killer was not sure why they allowed themselves to miss such a perfect occasion for striking an Eaglenest full of "rebels" and at its most vulnerable state ever, but he was all too glad for it. Never interrupt your enemies while they are committing mistakes. Once they had exhausted the ideas for protections to set up around the castle, Killer and the girls felt a lot better. Any assault on Eaglenest, at that point, was going to crash against incredibly solid defences. _ _

So that night, finally, Killer, Vesta and the others finally had the chance to put Gabriel and the other lost friends to rest. Killer, Vesta, Alexis and the others all contributed in building the massive funerary pyre. No magic was used: in sign of respect, each of the massive wooden beams and trunks were carried and disposed with bare hands. For the most part, there were no bodies to actually burn. Those had already been lost, completely destroyed on the battlefield. But that wasn't what mattered. What mattered were the respect and the memory, and the attempt not to cry for the loss, but to rejoice for having had the chance to walk together for a while. What mattered was the chance to say a proper thank you for all what Gabriel and the others had done.

At midnight, the flames reached high into the sky, projecting their light and their warmth over the angels and warriors assembled to pay their respects to their lost friends. William had the remains of the XXX Legion lined up around the fire, their heads low, the spears held tip-up. The Seraphims and the angels crowded around the pyre, with Killer, Vesta, Alexis and the others in fist line, with Uriel, Zachariel and Raphael taking turns in telling of their long time with Gabriel, the best of the Arkangels, loyal to the end.

For the whole night, Vesta had carried Gabriel's helmet upon a small red cushion, her eyes full of sadness for the friend and rival she had lost.

One of the tigers of the Legio XXX, from a balcony overlooking the yard, had used a bagpipe to launch to the sky the sad, touching notes of amazing grace, saluting so many lost comrades. The tigers had been warriors in life and they continued to be in the afterlife. Many times they had heard those same notes in other occasions.

Each time, the emotion was the same.

The worst part was the awareness that this time wouldn't be the last, either. In one frenetic, fateful day, some pieces had been picked up, but much more continued to lie in ruins. Heaven was officially broken, torn apart by a developing civil war.

Even tougher days loomed on the dark horizon, clouded and devoid of stars.

The legend of a warrior; Chapter 65: Disciples and Sanctuary

Extreme content warning: blood, violence, multiple penetrations, extreme stretching, gore, hearts being chewed... if you can't stomach it, much of this chapter isn't for you. **_The civil war has started. Heaven burns and God is still not in sight. A...

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The legend of a warrior; Chapter 63: The Fury of Nature

**_There's nothing more devastating than the darkness hidden deep into a kind, loving soul._** **Chapter 63 - The fury of Nature ** ** ** Killer panted as he was slammed backwards an enormous eruption of magma, as a new volcano grew up right...

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The legend of a warrior; Chapter 62: The battle of Kemuel

**_While Heaven burns, ancient lusts for power reawaken: the empire is falling apart, but everyone still wants to be emperor. _** **Chapter 62 - The battle of Kemuel ** Killer and Alexis appeared first, their powerful black wings flapping once as...

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