<Too many.> Ava grunted as she spun, and sliced clean through a hell creature leaping through the air. It had a contorted human body with limbs three times too long. Its entire head came to a point like a giant beak, with three beady, black eyes on either side of the protrusion. Its hands were long, delicate claws, and the thing had been looking to wrap them around Ava’s throat. It wouldn’t have worked even if the thing succeeded, and now its bisected remains fell into the burning fire encircling her.
Ava had started the defense of the city as part of the quick reaction force. Her job was to fly from besieged guardian to besieged guardian and help thin the enemies ranks, but as more enemies started to pour through, she found herself more firmly rooted to the defense of their main artery: the bridge. Her time distortion field had failed ten minutes ago when a powerful creature blasted through it. She’d summarily killed the heavily-armored avian man, but it was too late to get another one into place. Everything had descended into madness.
The guardians were islands in this sea of madness as their defensive circles helped protect them as they cut down scores of the enemy. <Where are they all coming from?> Ava wanted to hit them at the source, but she didn’t have a second to think.
Twin helixes of Divine fire spun around her to form a barrier of flame that the enemy had to penetrate to fight her. She watched as one creature stuck its clawed hand forward and lost it as the fire swept through. It reared back, clutching its charred stump, while the flesh from the elbow down plopped onto the bridge. At this point, she couldn’t see where the bodies ended and the bridge began. There was way more than a legion of enemy troops on the field of battle.
A snake-man-bird slithered its way through the fiery barrier and flung itself at Ava’s turned back. She felt the heavy impact of the creature and immediately pivoted. The force of her turn, coupled with the creature’s inability to get a claw into the groove of her armor, sent it flying. It hit another hell creature as it dodged the swirling fire, and both went careening backwards into the passing flames. The shrieks were drowned out by the roar of the enemy forces pushing forward.
“Back to back!” she ordered.
The order was relayed from guardian to guardian until their whole perimeter began to change. Fighting back to back was an old tradition. Two guardians would team up, link their defensive circles, and cover each other. It was designed for just these times when they were numerically overwhelmed, but the tactic had its downsides. First and foremost, it opened up the perimeter more. Holes started to appear as guardians moved into their new positions. Most of Beelzebub’s creatures continued to focus on the twenty-to-thirty foot guardians, but a few began to sneak through and into the panicking city.
“Bart!” Ava only had to yell his name.
Brilliant lances of light slashed through the air at Infernals trying to sneak through the perimeter. The display of power was a little too close to what Lucifer could do for Ava’s taste, but The Father of Lies wasn’t the only angel that her Father had created that could gather the power of light, intensify it, and use it to defeat their enemies.
The humans were even getting involved. Ava sensed them on rooftops nearby. Police officers dressed in black tactical gear were taking up positions well away from the battling guardians and Infernals. Just about every sniper in lower Manhattan was starting to take pot shots at the Infernals. They learned quickly to aim for the unarmored portions of the smaller creatures. After a few minutes, the crack of bullets was soon accompanied by the screams of the injured beasts. It was music to Ava’s ears.
Still, it wasn’t going to be enough. Quantity was a quality all its own, and the Infernals had the numbers. She was about to redeploy some of the other Divine units under her command when the ground shook dangerously beneath her feat. She kept her balance by throwing her wings out to either side, but the Infernals weren’t as lucky, and she took full advantage of that. A pulse of power went out from her, and her swirling, defensive fire exploded outward. The weaker beasts were incinerated outright, while the stronger were seriously burned. Its true purpose was to push back the tide of Infernals enough for her to bring her Hand of God to bear.
She used the power to do two things. First she blasted a path through the Infernals still storming the bridge. Hundreds were turned to ash as the focus æther burned through them. Second, she threw up a second time distortion barrier between her and the regrouping creatures. It was weaker than the first, and wouldn’t last as long, but it would allow her to reposition and help her besieged soldiers.
A second rumble went through the ground, and this time she had to grab the metal support of the bridge to steady herself. <What in the name of…?>
“Incoming from the river!” Bart warned from his higher vantage point.
Ava was already using the side of the bridge for support, so she took her eyes off the regrouping Infernals and peered into the murky waters of the East River. Normally, the water flowed out from the river, into the Upper Bay, down to the Lower Bay, and finally out into the Atlantic. That had all changed. The water had reversed direction and was moving up the East River toward Roosevelt Island and the Central Park area.
It was tough to make out with all the smoke and ash from the charred Infernals she’d just barbequed, but she caught sight of a dark shape beneath the surface.
“What is…? She never got to finish.
A scaled tail, twice as thick, and twice as long as Ava lashed out of the water and made contact with the Brooklyn Bridge. The bridge that had stood for over a century didn’t even resist. The tale cut through it like it was made of tissue paper. Brick, mortar, and Infernals plunged into the water as the tail slid back beneath the surface like it had never even been there.
“Pass the word to all units to the north east of us. They’ve got something heading their way.” Ava knew the message was redundant. The commanders of the other units were going to see the new arrival for themselves in a second. The question was…what was it, and was it hostile?
Whatever it was, it had just changed the paradigm of Ava’s fight. With the bridge severed, and something big moving through the river, the Infernal forces avenue of approach had been severed. They wouldn’t be able to use the Brooklyn Bridge to cross into Manhattan unless they could fly, and despite being the minions of the Lord of All that Flies, not all of their wings worked.
“Bart, mop up the rest of the Infernals here,” she ordered. “I’m repositioning to the Manhattan Bridge. The enemy is going to try and get around us now.” She had forces in place there, but they were thinner than the center of her line. “Once the enemy is dealt with, shift your troops to the north east.” She was worried about the enemy taking the bridge and then rolling up the Lower East Side as they moved to link up with Infernal Legions pushing toward the city from New Jersey. If they got in the rear of the Divine units holding those lines, the defense of the entire island could collapse.
Ava jumped into the air, gave a few beats of her powerful wings, and was airborne. She scanned the sky and saw airborne units of the Divine Host and Beelzebub’s legion duking it out down in Brooklyn and even over in Jersey City. But that wasn’t what caught her eye. What immediately drew her attention was rising out of the water beside the United Nations Headquarters.
The sight stabbed cold fear into her gut. It was like a monster rising from the depths of an old, dark story. One by one, giant, clawed, reptilian feet emerged from the river and planted themselves at the rear of the eighteen acre complex where 193 nations conducted international diplomacy. The giant creature didn’t know or care what the building represented to humanity as all three hundred feet of it rose from the river and pushed ashore.
Its four, thick legs connected to a bulky torso that looked out of time in the urban landscape. It was reptilian and covered in black-gray scales that seemed to drink in the sunlight that was being blotted out by the growing fires and destruction of the city. Sticking out from the scales were boney-white spikes across its back and down its legs. The last thing to emerge from the river was its hundred foot tail, which was also spiked, and ended in a spike-covered ball thirty feet across.
Ava hadn’t been around to see the dinosaurs created by the Primordial who crafted Eden, but this giant looked like it was cut from the same cloth. Ava hovered in the air to the south of it as it shook off the river water. Droplets were thrown from its giant hide with enough force that they broke glass on the UN HQ. The creature gave its giant head an extra shake. The scales were thicker and more numerous around the neck, which caused it to flare out slightly.
She made sure to maintain a safe distance as she circled the newcomer, but it ignored her. It seemed pulled in the direction of Central Park, and after shaking away the water, continued on a least-time path to its destination; which took it directly through Midtown. The UN building survived the creatures lumbering advance, but the Visitor’s Center didn’t. One of its giant, clawed feet crashed down right through the roof. It continued forward as it pulled the foot back up, so it exited the building at an angle and caused even more destruction. That didn’t slow it down. As it moved steadily forward, Ava wasn’t sure anything would slow it down. At three hundred feet tall, down on four legs, and four-to-five hundred feet long, including its tail, it was the biggest creature Ava had ever seen. Even Michael would be dwarfed if the thing went up on its hind legs.
Ava was rarely at a loss for how to proceed, but this was a new one for her. All she could do was let Michael know what was coming, and hope he could take the thing. If he couldn’t, New York was going to become a boneyard of humanity, and there was nothing she could do to stop it.