Hell, 100 years ago

Two Demon children approach the gate. The girl looks like she’s twelve years old and the boy ten, but they’re both four times older than that. She’s created an energy lockpick and is trying to open the gate, while he’s constantly looking over his shoulder to make sure nobody’s coming.

-This is a bad idea. Mother will be upset – he complains.

-What do you prefer, Torn? A lecture by her, or Father beating us again for being too weak?

-Mom – he answers, practicing his brevity from an early age.

-I have to know how he’s so strong – Pain declares, managing to finally open the gate. She opens it slowly, until she’s finally able to see what’s on the other side.

It’s her father with a woman that looks like a Demon, yet her skin is white instead of red and her hair is darker than the blackest night. They’re both naked, but that’s not what shocks the two children. It’s the red energy scythe they’re holding, each with one hand.

-Torn! Pain! I told you to never come here! – their father scolds them, taking his hand off the scythe to create an energy chain. The white woman stops him, while playing with her necklace of bones.

-Don’t be so harsh on them, Reaper. Don’t you feel the fire burning inside their souls?

-Leave their education to me, Inanna: they have to learn obedience – he says, prepared to flay his own children. Instead he screams, because the white woman’s hand has punched through his chest and is now holding one of his three hearts.

-I am Inanna of Sumer, Supreme Goddess of Sex and Violence. Talk to me like that again, little devil, and I will obliterate Hell and its pitiful galaxy without even breaking a nail. Understood?

-Yes my lady – Reaper says, leaking blood from his mouth. Torn has never seen his father afraid of anyone… people say he’s only second to the Lord Of All Demons. And yet, when he looks at his face, Torn understands what true terror is… then he turns to Pain, and his sister is smiling.

-It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen – she says, watching her father being tortured.

-Oh thank you my dear! I hear that quite often. You’re both a little too young for sex, I’m afraid… I’m not that kind of goddess! – Inanna giggles, approaching the two Demon children and giving them a warm smile as she holds the deadly energy scythe.

-So instead, how about I teach you about violence?

 

Today, planet Myridia

Whereas other people can see Torn facing an enraged Dionysus, thanks to the illusion created by Phobos the Demon sees something else entirely.

He sees his sister Pain walking on the dead bodies of his wife and daughters, butchered by the red energy scythe that their father created with Inanna.

-What’s wrong, little brother? At a loss for words? What a shocker!

-You’re clever, I’ll give you that. But you forgot something: the Blood flows through all living things in this universe. It can bind us together, and it can tear us apart.

-What does that even…

-SOUL REAPER!!! – Torn shouts. A red energy scythe appears in his hands, surrounded by quick bolts of black lightning. That’s not all that happens: the illusion is rapidly washed away, revealing the presence of an extremely confused Dionysus.

-What just happened? I’m too sober for this s##t!!!

-Someone wanted us to fight. Someone who almost made me kill my own daughters – Torn realizes, looking at his family in the distance.

-Do I look like someone who cares!? I am a GOD, you red-skinned pig! This stupid planet ruined MY party and spilled MY drink! And I will NOT listen to your NONSENSE!!! – Dionysus shouts, flying towards Torn at the speed of sound. Thanks to the sonic boom, he can’t hear him shout:

-HELL RESONANCE!!!

There’s an explosion of red energy when Dionysus throws his punch, once Torn has blocked it with his scythe. It’s even louder than the sonic boom, and it fills the air with a red mist.

Everyone not out of his mind has long left the remains of the City Hall… all except Torn’s family and a Kari duplicate: even she wouldn’t risk having her real body this close to the action.

-What the Hades was that!? – she asks rhetorically, but Agony answers seriously:

-My husband is channeling the power of Hell itself through the scythe. He must have learned how to do that from Null, during her fight with Abyss.

-Go Daddy, go!!! Take off his entrails!!! – the young Lesion cheers.

The mist is still covering most of the place; Dionysus shakes his head, disoriented more by the unusual sensation of being sober than from the impact. But when he sees a solitary figure emerging from the mist, wielding the scythe in his hands, he asks:

-What kind of creature are you!?

-I am Torn of the Seventh Circle of Hell, Son of Reaper, Servant of the Slayer of Gods. Stand down now, Lord Dionysus, or I will fight you, and you will lose.

-Lose? Against you!? I am a god!!!

-And I am the Vanguard. Stand. Down.

-Ha ha ha!!! Before I kill you, can you tell me where Demons go when they die? I could ask my uncle, sure, but since you’re here…

-HOPE… – Torn says, disappearing in a red flash; he appears right behind Dionysus, and he plunges the scythe inside his back shouting:

-…SLASHER!!!

With a single motion, Torn moves the scythe in a circular motion, slamming Dionysus on the floor so hard he creates cracks beneath them… vaguely in the shape of a pentagram.

Kari expects the god to stand up immediately and resume the fight, but Dionysus doesn’t move a single muscle as Torn takes a step back. She creates a duplicate before him just to shout:

-Did you just one-shot a fu##ing god!? HOW!?!?

-I didn’t. We have about five minutes before he wakes up and blows up the planet.

The ground begins to shake. The sky turns darker. And the body of Dionysus begins to shine purple as he slowly levitates into a standing position.

-Oh. Right. I forgot he was sober – Torn admits.

-As if we needed more enemies! How bad is this? – Kari asks. The universe answers by shaking the ground so much she has trouble standing up, but Torn sums it up:

-I suggest we run.

 

In orbit above Myridia

It will take decades for the planet to completely revert to the technological level it enjoyed before the 300 years of Demeter’s dictatorship, but space travel is already back to its glory days. Myridia is surrounded by hundreds of satellites, some repurposed from Demeter’s military and some built by Null herself. At least one of them is destroyed when Phobos is pushed right through it. He’s not hurt, of course, but it gives him an idea.

Vesta flies towards him, still surrounded by flames despite the vacuum of space. That’s because, technically, she’s not using fire: her body is surrounded by a thick layer of plasma, twice as hot as the surface of the Sun. Phobos grabs another satellite and throws it at Vesta, like a baseball as big as a bus. It’s vaporized before it can even touch her.

You don’t know how to fight, do you, Phobos? You just win your battles with your illusions.

-I am the son of the God of War!!! I will not lose to the goddess of housewives!!! – he protests, punching her in the face. Vesta doesn’t flinch.

You showed me my greatest fear, thinking it would break me. Instead you just got me angry; I’ve been so furious only three times before today. You know what happens when I’m angry?

Phobos tries to fly away, but Vesta grabs his shoulder. His armor melts under her fingers; he resists, but she overpowers him by holding both his arms.

EVERYTHING BURNS.

Unfortunately for the future of Myridia’s space travel, the fireball that extends from her position vaporizes a great number of satellites.

 

Back on the surface

People are so used to the fun-loving Dionysus that they forget he’s also the god of madness. When his mind is not clouded by alcohol, he’s an uncontrollable force of nature… which is why the other gods tend to forgive his debauchery.

Torn is painfully aware of how one-sided this battle truly is: he’s in the defensive, blocking all of the god’s blows, but doing so requires channeling all the power of Hell.

-Need a hand? – Quantum asks him, appearing next to the Demon and unleashing a volley of energy bolts towards Dionysus. Not nearly enough to damage the god, but it’s a welcome distraction.

-No. But I need assistance – Torn answers.

-That’s what I was… nevermind. Where’s Noriko?

-Out of commission. Where’s Vesta? – Kari’s duplicate asks him, appearing between her teammates. The answer to her questions comes as a gigantic fireball in the sky.

-She’s busy. What do we do now!? – Quantum worries, since Dionysus is shaking off his attack.

-Torn, can you bring the fight to an uninhabited planet? – Kari asks.

-Yes. Now that I have absorbed the Soul Reaper’s power, my ability to create portals is increased.

-Perfect. I have an idea – she says; she then continues explaining the plan through the Neural Transmitter, because Dionysus is now ignoring everything that’s being thrown at him.

-I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS!!! – he shouts, jumping towards the Vanguard.

-Stairwell to Hell! – Torn shouts back, creating a pentagram of red energy right on the god’s path.

 

Marpesia, 14 billion miles from Myridia

This dwarf planet has seen little life after its discovery. With a distance from Myridia roughly three times that between Earth and Pluto, it’s too small to be a viable colony: only a few scientific probes witness Dionysus arrive here, delivered by Torn’s portal. There is a thin layer of atmosphere, though, just enough to let the god hear the Demon’s voice:

-Cut of a billion deaths!!! – Torn shouts, swinging his scythe. This releases a flood of tiny energy daggers that bombard Dionysus at high speed, chipping away several feed of hard rock like Styrofoam against a jackhammer.

-Quantum! NOW!!! – Torn orders, retreating inside the portal while a ray of light makes the opposite journey. Dionysus shakes off the disorientation, watching the light circle the planet.

 

Weeks ago, Null Tower’s gym

Max Black puts down his weights, wiping away the sweat on his forehead. It’s a rare sight to find Noriko Null here, but she’s working on the high-tech barbell that’s sitting on the floor.

-You’ve finally decided to get some exercise? – he teases her.

-I’m adjusting Torn’s weights. He complained that they’re not heavy enough.

-Still trying to figure out how strong he is? I thought you’d given up, like you did with Vesta.

-He’s strong but measurable. Vesta is… qualitatively different.

-I don’t get it. Aren’t they both super-strong?

-Torn is superhuman, but he has limits. She can be as strong as physically possible.

-What does that even mean? There isn’t a physical limit to how much you can punch, right?

-Well… kind of. As an object approaches the speed of light its mass increases; at the speed of light, it’s infinite. You can’t punch harder than an object with infinite mass going at light speed.

-Wait wait wait, I can go at light speed! Why can’t I punch that hard!?

-You can go that fast when you’re made of light because light doesn’t have mass.

-What if I turn into something that has mass at just below light speed? – he asks. Noriko is ready to answer, but hesitates. Her silver eyes shine as she thinks this through.

-That’s actually a good question. With your mass at 0,9999 times the speed of light, I’d say you should be able to hit with the equivalent of 120 billion tons of TNT.

-Are you kidding me!?

-I’m making a lot of assumptions for that number. Including you surviving a move like that. And promise me you won’t try to do this on Earth!

-Yeah, sure! I really don’t want to blow up the planet!

-That’s not even close. You’d need four hundred billion times more energy for that.

-Can’t I just go faster? Say, just a trillion percent slower than light?

-You’d still be millions of times too weak, even for a dwarf planet, but I suppose you could be able to destroy a small moon that way. I’ll have to run some numbers.

-Whoa, cool down Noriko, I was just curious. I don’t want to blow up any moon!

-You may want to try. In our line of work, you never know when something could come in handy.

 

Today, 14 billion miles from Myridia

Dionysus watches the beam of light circle Marpesia. Given its small size it takes a fraction of a second, so to Dionysus it looks like a permanent planetary ring.

His head isn’t clear yet: he’s not used to sobriety. But when he focuses his sight on it, he sees that the light has the vague shape of a human. And it changes its course slightly.

Only because he’s a god, Dionysus is fast enough to brace for the impact. In the rarified Marpesian atmosphere, he hears three words carried by radio waves:

-INFINITE MASS PUNCH!!!

Pounds of photons turn into protons and neutrons for a fraction of a second, and the worst nightmare of a particle physicist happens. The amount of kinetic energy released is literally astronomical. Even Quantum can’t really understand what happens: his body is scattered in every direction, changing into many kinds of energy. It takes everything he has not to be lost in the catastrophe he just unleashed: there isn’t a human equivalent for the strain he’s under.

But he does manage to return to his human form. Luckily for him he hasn’t quite managed to blow up the dwarf planet, but he’s inside a crater that extends to the horizon.

Dionysus is beneath him. Still alive but naked, covered in bruises and third degree burns.

And defeated.

-I need a drink – the god whimpers.

 

Myridia

Torn comes out of a pentagram portal, with Quantum leaning on him. He unceremoniously drags the body of Dionysus on the floor, in front of Kari Zel.

-Sorry for ruining your wedding – the god apologizes, coughing up blood.

-Guys, that was a… that was a god… ηολυ φθcκινγ σηιτ… we beat up a god – she comments, only now beginning to understand the magnitude of their accomplishment. Which is only diminished by the fall of another charred up body on the battlefield: Phobos lands head first next to Dionysus.

Make that TWO gods – Vesta comments, descending slowly until her bare feet touch the ground.