Tear The World Apart, Part 16: Mundi's Counterstrike

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(July 2, 2008)

Fathom looked out over the bridge of the Relentless, her mind reviewing the information being sent to her. As it stood, the SEA was outnumbered and outgunned, and that was before Judgment completed his tasks and entered the fray. However, she was concerned. She had calculated that Rex Mundi would make his move within the current window, with the SEA wounded but unbeaten, and he had not yet…

“We have a new contact!” Munroe, the Antihero agent sitting across from her looked up from his screens. “I'm reading two superhuman readings in Section T-12. One corresponds to Psiborg. It looks like a dropped mind shield!”

“Excellent.” Fathom quickly walked to stand behind the man, looking over his shoulder as his screen dissected the energies coming from the two newcomers. “Oh, dear, the other is emitting a narrative field. Unfortunate. But they've appeared at Judgment's position, and he's more powerful than that.” She nodded firmly, then turned and raised her voice, directing her attention to the six men and women sitting at scanning stations across the bridge. “Rex Mundi should be making his move momentarily. Keep alert for…”

“I have a psi beacon trigger at Section R-3!” Agent Hooper called out from her monitor, quickly bringing up information as she did. Fathom was already reviewing it through her connections to the computers, but she listened for any insight the woman might add. “Two superhumans in Atlantean technology, along with forty-three machina signatures!”

“Malefico.” Fathom nodded again, speaking to no one in particular. “Predictable, Mundi. I expected better of you. City Hall will be the next logical choice, as soon as you respool your psi beacon. Which should be just about…”

“Psi beacon trigger at Section J-11!” Munroe next to turned towards Fathom with a grin, and she permitted herself to return a slim smile. “Three superhuman signatures and thirty machina, ma'am. Looks like you called it.”

“Apparantly.” Fathom shook her head, almost disappointed. “This Mundi may be clever enough, but he lacks the unpredictability of his predecessors. Still, the third and final jump will be the largest.”

“You're sure there will be a third?” Munroe sounded interested, and she nodded firmly.

“Yes. Three is a powerful number narratively, and it will give him a slight edge to bundle his remaining forces into a third jump rather than spreading them out. He's committed Psiborg, so I expect we'll see everything he's got – four to six superhumans, plus another fifty or so of those machines.” She paused thoughtfully. “Unless… if he has a second psi beacon, he could trigger simultaneous jumps and divide his forces against two more targets. In that case, he could potentially have more servants…”

“Sir! I have psi beacon triggers! Sections A-6 and B-11!” Agent Jansen was turning as he spoke, but Fathom's eyes were already going wide, as data flowed into the other stations. Beside her, Munroe was turning back to his station.

“Contact in Section J-18!”

“Contact in Sections T-6, R-9, and S-12!” Hooper's voice was strained.

“Contact in Sections E-19 and G-25!”

“Contact in Sections Q-2, S-7, and X-2!”

“Contact in Section Y-17!”

“Contact in Section W-1!”

Fathom looked in alarm from one monitoring station to the next. Even as each of her agents relayed information and tried to make sense of it, she was sorting through the information. “This is impossible…” Thirty-four superhuman signatures. Over a thousand machina. “He can't possibly have this kind of an army…”

“Ma'am! We have movement! Agents are reporting attacks from the Entity trees!” Munroe spun in his chair again, correlating data. “Ma'am, there's thousands of them! There must be ten times as many as we thought!”

“Damn it!” Fathom gestured abruptly. “Bring us in. Commence full strafing procedures against those machina before they engage our soldiers. Then we'll deal with that Entity.”

“But, ma'am… the chances of civilian casualties…”

“Sacrifices to the cause, soldier. Do it!”

“Yes, ma'am… hostile signatures inbound!” Hooper's concern turned to panic, and a moment later the ship bucked as a blast sent it shuddering through the sky. Keeping her balance, Fathom spun in place to see the clouds parting, a floating fortress moving through the air towards them. Dozens of cannon emplacements bristled as it let off blasts of superheated plasma and electrical bolts. Around her, her soldiers pulled themselves back into their seats, gaping as the ship shuddered under heavy fire.

“Return fire! Shoot that thing down!” Fathom's composure snapped, and she yelled the orders as she stared in horror. The damned thing looked familiar somehow…

Below, on the ground, Nightshade paused as she stepped out from the shadow of the parking garage. “Doc… is that the Aerial Gold Reserve unloading fire at the Antiheroes?”

Doctor Ecchs paused as well, following her gaze. “Yep, looks like.”

“It has… a lot of weapons.”

“Well, yeah. It's Aerial.”

“Okay, yes. But I don't remember plasma casters being listed anywhere on its plans.” Nightshade frowned. “In fact, I don't think they're even legal.”

“Look, we can discuss who may or may not have secretly installed a nation's worth of firepower onto a flying bank in order to make it into an unstoppable death fortress until the cows come home, but we have fourteen more Antiheroes to fight. Come on.” Ecchs waved his arms, as Phil, Ada and the two suited villains followed him out of the door. He paused, looking up at the sky with a goofy smile. “It's doing beautifully, though, isn't it?”

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