Warship Ragnarok, 65.000 light-years from Earth

Todd Slate wakes up when he feels Noriko moving. She’s sitting on the bed trying to put her bra back on, but it’s hard to do missing half of her left arm. He gets closer to help her, kissing her neck; she lets him, but covers the stump with her right hand.

-I don’t want you to watch – she tells him. Judging by her voice, it took a lot of courage to say.

-I don’t care about your arm.

-I’m talking about this side of my life. Earth is my sanctuary, the place where I can be human. Out here, I have to be something greater. I don’t want you to watch the things I do for the galaxy.

-I knew you were risking your life, but I had no idea things could get so intense. I can’t say that I fully accept it. I’m willing to take the chance, but I need you to be honest with me.

-Always, Todd. Always.

-You know how I feel about you. Do you love me, Noriko?

She doesn’t answer right away. She stands up, buttons up her jeans, and takes a deep breath.

-I care about you, Todd. More than I do about anyone else. As a girl, I could love you. But it’s only part of what I am, we both know that. I am Null. I am the Slayer of Gods.

-Is that more important than being Noriko? More important than us?

She turns towards him, revealing she’s crying. Even with the brainpower of seven billion minds, she doesn’t know how to answer. And someone is now knocking on the door.

-I have to go now. Be safe – she tells him, getting away even when he tries to hold her hand. She puts on her black T-shirt with white Ø symbol on it before opening the door: she’s greeted by the goddess Athena, in full battle armor, holding a human arm in her hands.

-We are ready to begin. Are you alright? – she asks, noticing the tears on Noriko’s face.

-I will be – she answers, connecting the artificial arm to her left elbow: the circuitry interfaces with the flesh, and she’s instantly able to move her new arm to clench her fist.

-Let’s show this dragon who’s the boss.

 

The Bridge

When Noriko reaches the bridge, she feels the sudden cold even before realizing who has joined the Vanguard. The young goddess Tyche is there, with her flaming halo over her head as always, but next to her is a man in a dark blue armor that completely covers his face.

Lady Null. The Winter King is honored to be of assistance during this battle – he says.

-Your Majesty. I suppose you don’t hold a grudge against me for destroying the Guild?

They betrayed your trust and suffered the consequences. As the mortal chosen by destiny to lead the galaxy, honor dictates that I shall help your cause.

-For the record, he’s talking metaphorically – the young goddess of destiny clarifies.

-I don’t like it – Torn comments.

-I’m not the Winter King’s biggest fan either, but we need all the help we can get – Vesta answers.

-He didn’t stab you in the chest once – Torn reminds her.

-Alright, let’s get the show on the road. Kari, open a channel – Null orders.

Soon, two holograms appear on the bridge: Athena and Enyo, both wearing battle armor and ready for a fight… the latter especially.

-Everything needs to be done carefully. We can’t just rush into action and…

Out of my way, as##oles!!! – a familiar voice shouts through space, accompanied by a wave of energy so powerful that it pushes the Ragnarok away.

-What the… Who the hell called Persephone!? – Noriko shouts.

I told her this was a bad idea – a man whispers behind her back, with a voice that would make the night shiver in fear. She feels her heart rate spike: she turns around to see Hades looming behind her, his face hidden beneath the shadow of his cowl.

She never listens to me. I think she takes it from my brother.

-The plan won’t work if she attacks Tiamat first!!! – Noriko complains.

She won’t – Enyo says, disconnecting her hologram. Several alarms start beeping as Kari says:

-She’s going after Tiamat as well! With the Time Mover active, we’re too slow to catch up!

Will you help us in the fight, Lord Hades? Surely your power would defeat the dragon.

Attacking the physical form of a Primordial is meaningless, Winter King; you might as well be trying to engage the night itself in combat.

-Primordials have been beaten before, brother. Even killed – Vesta reminds him.

True. But a direct confrontation between me and Tiamat would devastate this galaxy, and even I hesitate to fight her in her prime. But fear not: if you fail, I will surely be able to overpower her once she’s tired from destroying the Olympian Galaxy.

-I thought you said Hades was your nice sibling – Quantum tells Vesta.

-A direct confrontation with Tiamat is suicide – Athena’s hologram clearly spells out.

The only answer for almost a minute is just silence, as everyone looks at Null waiting for her to make a decision. She knows the Vanguard would follow her through Hell… they’ve literally done it before… and once again, it’s the weight of the entire galaxy on her shoulders. If this had happened before her confrontation with Selene, she would’ve dismissed their fears and attacked Tiamat. But now she knows she can’t just kill any god on her own.

-Tyche. Do you know where Hera is, right now?

-What? Uhm, sure, but why? – the goddess asks.

She will not fight for you – Hades reminds her.

-I don’t need her to – Null answers with a spark in her silver eyes.

 

The former Dragon Tomb

Eris is worried. Her attempts to reason with Tiamat have been unsuccessful: her mind is just too alien to be easily manipulated. She thought she would be just like her mother, but there’s a key difference: Nyx has lived among gods for billions of years, while Tiamat has slept through the entire Olympian dynasty. Why would she care about what Eris wants?

Die, motherfu##er, die!!! – is the scream that brings Eris back to reality. It’s been a really long time since she last met Persephone, but she hasn’t changed: still loud and obnoxious as always, and far too powerful for her own good. She’s generating enough raw energy to devastate a continent, which would be worrisome for Eris if Tiamat weren’t there.

The energy seems to bounce against an invisible shield. Whatever Tiamat has done to protect herself, Eris can’t feel anything from her: it’s like the energy was too scared to touch her.

Persephone lands, loudly as everything she does. She still looks like a teenager, and she approaches Tiamat emitting more radiation than a hundred nuclear plants.

Who the f##k do you think you are? There’s no place for Sumerian c##ts in my dad’s galaxy!

-I think this creature is trying to get my attention – Tiamat tells Eris, suppressing a yawn.

ENJOY DEATH, MOTHERFU##ER!!! – Persephone shouts, gathering all her power.

Eris decides this isn’t the best place to be, flying away at the right time: a moment later and she would’ve been hit by the devastating blast unleashed by Persephone.

She can’t help being impressed. All the children of Zeus are stronger than the average god, and those born from his sisters particularly so. As the radioactive green cloud of radiation wreaks havoc on the planet recreated by Tiamat, Eris believes for a moment that Persephone might be able to injure the Celestial Dragon herself.

But when she focuses her divine senses, she can see Tiamat walking through the energy like it was a light breeze. And Persephone starts losing her resolve.

I’m the motherfu##in’ Queen of the Underworld, b##ch! I can beat you!!!

-Are you attacking me or just talking? I honestly can’t tell the difference – Tiamat tells her, and the fact that she’s sincere makes Persephone even angrier. Especially when she feels someone else entering the fight, someone approaching Tiamat at the speed of light throwing a punch that could knock a planet out of orbit. Had she done this before Persephone showed up, she might have taken Tiamat by surprise… which would’ve been part of Null’s plan.

Instead Tiamat has moved her arm almost instantaneously and is holding Enyo’s punch.

-Oh, I see now, you want to fight. I’m not in the mood – she says; not that anyone could hear her, with Enyo screaming at her face. Even Eris has trouble understanding what happens next, because it’s obscured by the mushroom cloud around a crater that spans a quarter of the planet’s surface.

But it doesn’t last long: the dust moves backwards, reconstructing everything on a molecular level.

Eris can now see Persephone and Enyo, both breathing heavily, standing before a relaxed Tiamat.

-Stop breaking my stuff. It’s annoying – she chastises them.

Then a spear suddenly pierces through her heart, emerging from her chest. Even the other goddesses are taken by surprise: they didn’t see Athena hide herself in the dust until now.

-Hit her with everything you’ve got!!! – she orders, unleashing yellow energy from her eyes; Persephone and Enyo do the same, and the air around Tiamat becomes brighter than the Sun.

Tiamat sighs. She takes the spear with both hands and pulls it out of her chest: the wound closes itself in less than a second. She just stands there, absorbing all the damage while holding the spear horizontally. Then she snaps it in half like a twig.

Persephone stops. Then Athena does the same. And finally even Enyo agrees to the ceasefire.

-That was a solid block of neutral matter. It should withstand the core of a star – Athena explains.

-I am a Primordial goddess, created by the Drylon to bend the rules of the universe to my will-

The veins beneath her perfectly smooth grey skin glow red. Her shadow comes to life, a menacing aura that dwarfs the planet. A shadow in the form of a dragon spreading its wings.

And you just made me angry.

The three goddesses step back. Now they know how mortals feel when they see their wrath up close: they may represent war, struggle and death, but Tiamat is pure terror now.

Hundreds of thousands of years of experience have not prepared them for this: they know there’s no escape and make no attempt to evade the black fire that Tiamat emits towards them.

But it doesn’t hit them. Because a pentagram has appeared at the last second, unceremoniously delivering something between them and Tiamat to take the hit for them.

Even the new target is surprised. She looks down at her gorgeous blue dress, now covered in ashes, and watches her golden necklace now melting down her generous cleavage.

-You… you broke my… my jewels – Hera complains, almost to the point of crying. Until she clenches her fists and starts emitting blue flames.

-THEY WERE A GIFT, YOU MONSTER!!! – she screams, shooting blue fire at Tiamat. For the first time since she woke up, the Celestial Dragon takes damage… and once again, the planet where she’s standing can’t survive for long.

 

Bridge of the Ragnarok

All mortals have to shield their eyes: even far away from orbit, the blue light is blinding. The viewscreen does its best to adjust the brightness; when the spectators can finally see again, they can’t believe their eyes.

They don’t see a planet anymore: they see a gigantic dragon fighting an equally massive bird entirely made of blue fire. It’s supposed to be a peacock, Hera’s sacred animal, but most of the people seeing it mistake it for a phoenix.

-Is that Hera? I haven’t seen her this angry in ages – Vesta recalls.

Even at the peak of her power, our sister can’t match Tiamat. Hera can be as powerful as physically possible, but a Primordial transcends physical limitations – Hades explains.

-I can beat her. But I need to be within range – Null intervenes.

-These guys are practically throwing planets at each other; we can get within a million miles, if we’re lucky – Kari says, looking at the instrumentation trying to make sense of the data.

-I meant I must be close enough to touch Tiamat. That was the whole plan – Null adds.

The two colossal beasts are occupying the entire screen; when Tiamat’s tail cuts through the blue phoenix, the entire Ragnarok shakes… despite being hundreds of millions of miles away.

-Yeah, that could be a little bit of a problem – Kari understates.



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