Grim glanced around at the commandos slapping ammo into their guns and readying their hatchets. That was something that was weirding him out. They were dressed in their black body armor, visors down, and whispering on their communication channels. Grim was logging it and managing the comms for them. But it wasn’t that interesting. Just those hatchets. Thirteen grim, military men with their guns and armor preparing to attack a tree?
Couldn’t they just fire a missile at it. That had been his first suggestion. Nuke it and move on, but Marx really wanted to keep things on the down low. Grim preferred to light it up.
Watcher had lost sight of Boyo. Marx had no idea where the man was. It was one reason why they were sitting here with their thumbs up their asses. Just to stick it to Marx, which brought him no end of joy and amusement, Grim cut into their comms.
“Alpha team is in pos-” Cutter was starting to say.
“So,” Grim said, “Helligan is getting close on figuring things out, I think. The infowar is dying down.”
“Someone cut him off,” Cutter said. Grim didn’t like the man, but then again Grim didn’t like any of these people. They were all people of hard angles and rough lines. Code was binary, but that didn’t mean it was simple. Complexity emerged from the intersection of simplicity compounded upon itself. Life was complex. Even simulations, which all games were, needed complexity. Yet here they were, standing in the world of meat, and these people wanted to be simple, to digress back to ones and zeros.
“As my asset, you will abide until I have need of you.” Marx said over the open channel.
“Sure thang bossman.” Grim forked over traffic monitoring to one of his sprites, which was really just some keyword monitoring with a little intelligent creativity thrown in for good measure. Instead, he logged back into Athos and killed another thirty minutes drinking at a tavern. #2 was heads down with keeping Helligan busy. Watcher was nominally watching the immediate surroundings, but also tracking numerous feeds around town and throughout the park. Four was busy compiling modifications to the new template they were working on.
Grim was as surprised as anyone else when Boyajian just appeared from the edge of the clearing around the subject. To Grim, who was a creature of electrons, something about Boyajian’s frame gnawed at him. Boyajian was all soft lines and curves in a way it hadn’t been before.
Grim saw Marx lift his hand to his mouth and say over the comms, “Boyajian are you ready?”
“Waye…” The line crackled with static. ”Dy.”
“Drax…” The line crackled with static. “Way.”
“Clean up the line, Grimsby.”
“Yeah, sure…fuck, looks like Helligan.” Grim waded through a lake of data with the help of Watcher and he pulled in #2 for additional support. “There’s a drone in-bound with rotating encryption ciphers. Might be a ploy to draw my attention.”
“All teams go.” Marx said, without a hint of tension in his voice. If anything his voice had gone deader than usual. “Repeat, mission is a go.”
“Let’s go people!” Cutter shouted over the tacops channel. The most grim-reaper looking lumberjacks rushed from their positions in three tactical locations around the tree. Four groups of three moving like shadows running over the emerald green grass. One remained behind to give support.
Grim had to pause in his work to admire the grass. It was so green
. Like a field of polished emeralds that glowed like LEDs in the moon’s light. How could he have missed this before? Grim pulled himself away from the onslaught on the drone’s encryption scheme to watch not the men but the grass. It was intoxicating. He’d only seen colors this vivid in his dreams, when he touched upon the Dreaming.
“Wait!” Grim called out over all frequencies.
“Too late,” a voice whispered from three feet away. “Nice try though.”
Boyajian continued to walk through the landscape of the Dreaming. The grass was wet like a canvas that hadn’t yet dried. The green
clung to him. It clung to all the special forces rushing at the tree. The bodies of the special forces men didn’t handle the transition into another dimension nearly as well as Boyajian was. Their bodies began to loose consistency in those places where they weren’t paying attention or where perhaps they’d imagined improvements. Even the thoughts of others could impact a dream when shared so intimately.
Grim whirled and called all his selves into himself. In a shadow of one of the park’s many light posts a man in black stood.
He glanced at his watch and smirked. He was dressed in a perfect black suit with a long black coat jack that went to his knees. His arms were folded behind his back. Black five buttoned vest, slacks, and snake skinned boots.
“Time doesn’t hold sway over dreams.” The man glanced towards the scene. The lumberjack special force operatives were at the trunk.
Technically Grim had satisfied the terms of his arrangement. He really wanted Marx to fail without that failure being tied back to him. He hesitated.
“Yeah,” the man said, “I didn’t think you had a bone in this fight.” He didn’t smile, but his eyes softened. “Ah, see, you needn’t have worried.” He nodded at the scene unfolding.
Grim’s eyes didn’t leave the man. Already the light was calling out to him. He wanted to release it in a giant, radiant explosion of electrons. He hated the darkness. Watcher relayed the scene.
A girl had appeared out of nowhere with the largest, blackest sword he’d ever seen. It was something straight out of Berserk. Was she his enemy? So many people of the night moving amongst each other, trying to kill each other. Alerts triggered within his headspace. The drone had been a decoy. Fuck. Really police were coming. A lot of them.
“They always have each other’s backs,” the man in black said, nodding towards the girl with the giant sword. Bullets fired at her seemed to pause in mid-air or get sucked up by the sword somehow. The sword itself was an abomination, Grim felt it in his being.
“Wait, what?” He was struggling to track this man’s obtuse way of speaking, while trying to figure out an exit strategy himself. Grim tried to give the man his full attention, despite his other selves busy doing other shit. Even Four was now present working through some formulae for a ritual they might need.
“Mary’s sister,” the man said, “Didn’t quite make it out of Kiz’s wake as well as Mary herself.” Now he did give a small little smile. “Ah well, this should be enough to get him evicted.” He turned back to look at Grim. “You know, I wasn’t sure if I’d like you or not. I’ve never really gotten along with the light touched mortals.”
“Fuck it,” Grim said, raising one of his hands towards the sky. It was always easy channelling positive electrons this way. It didn’t take much effort to channel them backwards to the sky if he could get a lock on his target. There was some work streamlining the circuit, maybe some efficiency gains here or there.
“Lightning? Really.” The man sighed just before one billion joules of energy arced from the ground to the sky, the streamers connected and the charge they carried came across at the speed of light. The bolt that struck the man was 20,000 degrees celsius. Thunder cracked the sky in its wake.
Grim didn’t let up for 300 milliseconds. He poured most of what he had stored in his hoodie to keep the onslaught going. The force obliterated the man. At least he assumed it was his attack that had. Fuck. Grim reeled around looking at the scene. Now Marx knew. Fuck, everyone probably knew.
The sword lady had dispatched the lumberjacks, but she was not having as easy of a time against both Boyajian and Marx. It was like watching Agent Smith attack Neo. The two men worked like synchronized copies of each other. Her blade was sickening but whatever had changed in Boyajian seemed to have changed in Marx. They were two shadows cast from the same body.
“Grimsby detain her!” Marx shouted for what Watcher reported was the fifth time.
The sword lady was doing a great job, but she was on the defensive for some reason. Maybe she was protecting the tree? That was #2’s analysis. “Fuck, all in then.” He sighed. “Are we ready Four?”
“Let’s join up then.”
“AOE?” Four asked.
“No,” Watcher cut in. “Facial recognition from what’s available. She’s one of the cultists. Marx was right.”
“Great, I’ll never be rid of this fucker.” Grim raised his hands and let Four’s harmonization with the Deep Resonance synchronize all of them. Light bled from his pores like he was in a Gatorade commercial leaking neon. So much of it. He took it from the moon and the lights of the park, from the stars and the windows overlooking the park. He pooled the electronics between his eight hands. Ghostly afterimages of his other selves worked around the orb of light as it grew. Grim didn’t work with sonic energy, so his magic wasn’t verbal so much as visual.
His imprint upon Creation bled over from the Deep Resonance in perfectly spaced Courier Font.
Daylight Orb of Light’s True Radiance
appeared around the orb as the spell continued to build and mount, temporarily suspending the proper rules of Creation to allow this magical effect to bleed over from Athos.
Applying meta context…
Narrow beam mode engaged…
All eight palms pushed outwards and a narrow beam laser shot out. Light was fast but the lady somehow anticipated its arrival enough to catch it with her blade. The laser was eaten by the darkness within her sword, but it took all of her attention. Grim kept the onslaught going. It gave Boyajian enough time to dart past her and slap something onto the trunk.