Chapter 2338: Cataclysmic
As part of the corps charged with collecting information and espionage in the West, it hadn't taken long for Madara to gain a reputation as a famous Supervillain. She had never gone out of her way to attack civilians, but her detractors had labeled her Madara, the Crimson-Eyed Killer, after she had a.s.sa.s.sinated several corrupt politicians.
Though she didn't really care about the label that had been forced upon her, Madara decided to use the Pandemonium Gift Game to demonstrate just how powerful she truly was. She doubted the general populace would come to their senses, but she wanted them to understand that if she were half as evil as the media made her out to be, she wouldn't stop at killing a handful of people...
Wearing her iconic red and black armor, Madara hovered at the center of a 3000km tall Susanoo, her voice echoing through the surrounding s.p.a.ce as she muttered, "Pathetic...and you dare refer to yourself the Symbol of Peace, the Paragon of Justice?"
Having sustained numerous internal injuries, Madara's opponent, Paragon, coughed up a mouthful of blood before returning a smile and saying, "You may think you've won, but so long as a single flame of hope remains, I will never stop fighting."
Standing 190cm tall and possessing a muscular physique comparable to Heracles himself, Paragon exuded the aura of a Hero from every pore of his being. He was getting on in years, exemplified by his quaffed, silvery-white hair and neatly trimmed dark beard, but his race was one that grew more powerful with age. As the last member of said race, he intended to ensure his people's final legacy was one of truth, justice, and, above all else, hope.
No matter the odds.
Accelerating to faster than light speeds in an instant, Paragon smashed into the center of Madara's Susanoo, raising it from the ground despite the drastic difference in size. Ma.s.sive cracks and a large crater appeared in the Susanoo's armored plating, but they were instantaneously repaired as Madara aimed her left hand at Paragon and coldly muttered, "s.h.i.+nra Tensei..."
Just as he had been numerous times before, Paragon was sent cras.h.i.+ng into the foundation of the Little Garden by the force of Madara's 'Almighty Push.' He had tried to resist it during previous exchanges, but it didn't take him long to realize that the more he opposed the invisible force, the more damage he would sustain.
As Paragon crashed into the ground, his body drilling into the foundation of the Little Garden as if it were soft tofu, Madara stabbed her six, seven-branched swords into the ground after him. Each blade was more than a thousand kilometers in length, but the most frightening thing about them was their speed. When ma.s.sive objects moved at incredible speeds, even a casual blow could affect cataclysmic results.
Despite the Little Garden's outstanding durability, the entirety of the former West Side seemed to shake from Madara's meteoric blows. Those who had been observing the battle a little too closely, waiting for their chance to strike, barely had time to register what had happened before they found themselves awakening outside, eliminated from the Gift Game in an instant.
Rising from a deep crater more than 20,000km in diameter, Madara took a moment to observe the destruction she had caused, muttering, "It's a lot smaller than expected..."
As the average impact crater was roughly twenty times the size of the impacting object, Madara had expected her attack to produce a cavity at least 60,000~100,000km across. More surprisingly, there were still a few buildings in her immediate surroundings that had endured, devastated but still recognizable.
Interrupting Madara's reflection, a ma.s.sive column of dust erupted from beneath her, followed by Paragon drilling into her Susanoo's chin. He was a little worse for wear, bearing numerous injuries, but he was healing at a visible rate and packed a punch that could shatter a decently sized moon.
Though the armor around Susanoo's head was a lot stronger than the rest of its body, especially the 'gem' containing Madara, Paragon managed to behead the ma.s.sive energy construct, shouting, "Justice may falter, but it never stays down! This is the end for you, Madaraaaaaaaaaa-!"
Stabbing his hands into the gem surrounding Madara's body, Paragon accelerated with the intent of ramming her into the barrier surrounding the Little Garden. Not everyone could return to the boundaries of a Game Board after being ejected from it, so Paragon intended to smash through it, eliminating both himself and Madara.
What Paragon never expected was Madara phasing out of the gem the moment he accelerated, their forms briefly pa.s.sing through one another as if she was an illusion. Then, before Paragon could even think to arrest his momentum, Madara's outfit changed from her iconic red armor to an eerie, ashen-grey cloak. At the same time, six sets of vantablack wings manifested behind her, complete with a strange black halo appearing over her head.
As Paragon turned in slow motion to meet Madara's gaze, the latter closed her eyes, suppressing a sigh as she muttered, "Sayona, Symbol of Peace..."
In the instant following Madara's utterance, she angled the tips of her black wings in Paragon's direction. Each of the thousands of feathers unleashed thin beams of matching black light, their velocity far beyond their more luminous counterpart as they pierced Paragon's body, forcing him along his intended course.
After seeing Paragon endure the attack of her seven-branched swords, weapons that were capable of piercing just about anything, Madara had no choice but to accept his claims about never giving up. She was certain her attack had reduced him to little more than meat pulp, but as if he was powered by some form of Light-based Magia Erebea, Paragon revived, his strength and speed nearly double what they were previously.
Not wanting to endure the experience of being defeated by a Hero after acting arrogantly, Madara borrowed Paragon's plan and sent him cras.h.i.+ng through the Little Garden's boundary layer. His body was immediately torn apart by the chaotic energies that swirled outside, but that wasn't enough to take him out of the game. He was nearly able to force his way out with sheer grit, but Madara was able to undermine his efforts with a full-power s.h.i.+nra Tensei, repelling him at the last moment.
As the boundary closed up, effectively separating the Little Garden from the rest of reality, Madara stared at the location Paragon had 'departed' for several tense moments. Even when backed into a corner or up against impossible odds, genuine Heroes had the trait of being able to turn things around at the last moment. Madara was fairly certain that Paragon wasn't capable of creating a path back to the game board, but she didn't want to exhale a sigh of relief only for the veteran Hero to come cras.h.i.+ng through, stronger than ever...
Seeing one of their trump cards eliminated, the Patriarch Praelatus of the Ormus Society, occupying the lowest-digit Gate in the West Side, adopted a grim expression. It wasn't the defeat of Paragon that bothered him, but the fact that Madara appeared with six sets of raven wings, almost as if to insult their beliefs.
Voicing the Praelatus's thoughts, an inordinately tall man wearing clothing befitting a futuristic Bishop remarked, "Blasphemous cur from the depths of Hades. To think she would have the audacity to display twelve wings in the West..."
Nodding his head in agreement, the Praelatus looked like he was about to say something when a profound, deep, and simultaneously feminine voice echoed within his mind, sending s.h.i.+vers through his body as it stated but a single word, "
Surprising his much younger counterpart, the Praelatus fell to his knees, hands raised and tears streaming down his wrinkled face as he shouted to the sky, "This undeserving servant has heard your words and shall obey! Glory to the Almighty...!"
Though he hadn't received a message of his own, the Bishop attending the Praelatus immediately emulated his elderly mentor's actions. It had been centuries since they last received guidance from their Creator, but he knew better than to ask questions. In the Ormus faith, there was only one Truth. Anyone that dared to question it was a heretic of the highest order...
Immediately following Madara's 'blasphemous' display, an underground factory, located deep within a cross-shaped opening, whirred to life. All of the above-ground facilities related to the factory had been destroyed long ago, but the interior was immaculate, pristine, and sterile.
As the ancient yet undamaged facility activated, faint blue light began to fill the interior, illuminating various capsules, pods, and machinery. Among these objects, located at the heart of the facility, was an eerie mechanical bust. Its facial features appeared feminine at a glance, but its distinct lack of limbs and any prominent s.e.xual characteristics made it difficult to know for sure.
Protruding from where the bust's arms should have been was a series of twelve tubes. They were splayed in such a way to resemble the wings of an angel, but anyone gazing upon the statue's visage would feel a sense of dread, not awe.
Located behind the eerie statue, almost as if it was being protected, was a cylindrical tank filled with glowing, greenish-blue liquid. Within said tank was what appeared to be a naked woman, her skin as fair as a doll's and her inordinately long hair rivaling clear skies with how breathtakingly blue it was. Were it not for the fact she had a barcode printed on her abdomen and several thin lines denoting the seams where her limbs were attached, her appearance could have been described as flawless.
As the liquid within her container began to bubble, the blue-haired woman slowly opened her eyes to reveal ruby-red, gem-like eyes. There were no visible emotions contained within them, but they gave off a peculiar sense of surety and purpose that couldn't be matched by 'lesser' ent.i.ties, G.o.d or otherwise.
Without waiting for the liquid to drain away, the blue-haired woman slowly unfurled her arms and legs, uncoiling from the fetal position she had been in for what felt like an eternity. She was careful to control her movements, but the vessel containing her immediately cracked, followed by a series of alarms going off as the entire facility began to tremble.
Though there wasn't any air in her lungs, the blue-haired woman exhaled a faint sigh that sent s.h.i.+vers through the bodies of anyone within 6,000km of the underground facility. From their perspective, it was like the woman had exhaled mere millimeters away from their ears, startling them to their core.
Understanding that she couldn't spare the facility that had housed her for all these years, the blue-haired woman leaned forward slightly, seemingly unbound by gravity, as she freed herself from the fractured container. She gave a cursory glance at the statue that had been s.h.i.+elding her from view but promptly disregarded it as the roof above her abruptly collapsed, tens of millions of tons of metal and concrete raining down on her.
Before so much as a single particle of dust could sully her body, the blue-haired woman extended her hand toward the torrent of debris, 'freezing' it in place. Were it not for the lights flickering and alarms blaring around her, any casual observer might have a.s.sumed she had halted the flow of time. Instead, she was using an incomprehensibly powerful and refined form of Telekinesis to 'anchor' every fragment of debris in place.
Adopting a faint smile, the blue-haired woman gave a light push toward the debris. In response, it moved away from her as if freed from the pull of gravity, continuing to rise even after she no longer applied any force to it...
(A/N: Alternate t.i.tles: 'Paragon was preparing to go plus ultra xD...','This seems familiar...','A new challenger has entered the battlefield...')