Cyril's life force suddenly vanished. For Roth, it was like being deafened and blinded all at once. The only power source for her mass psychic hold over the warriors was the Gate of Eden, and her only link to it was now gone.
But that, she quickly realized, was the least of her problems.
The strengthening storm farther darkened the skies. Lightning flashed through the billowing clouds and lit the distant horizon to a fierce glow. The clouds overhead burned to a dull orange gleam. Three evolved Locri bioships broke into the airspace above the savannah, shrouded beneath electric cloaks, streams of red-hot fire blazing.
Once again left to human strength and faith, the warriors could only stare at the horizon in stark silence. At the fore front of all of this, Roth did her best to remain calm and find a way to survive.
She looked in the Sword of Mercy's mind, but found no solutions short of desperate suicide. Even a single evolved bioship woefully outmatched several starships. As she was, she had no means to win. Her power was the ability to impose her will over human-like minds. Roth was dangerous so long there were likely vessels for her psychic hold.
The three evolved bioships descended through the storm clouds, black shadows stealing over the light. In a wild flight of despair, she tried to take control of them as she did the warriors.
Deep down, though, she knew this time telepathy couldn't save her. None the less, she continued to try. She had to, though she knew well that the strains of the plague weren't people, and the evolved bioships had a mind impenetrable even to the wretched hive mind.
Her attempts, however, appeared to only infuriate the evolved Locri. Electric shrouds sparking, the eel-like bioships splashed through the churning storm clouds as a trinity of white beacons. Strokes of lightning—jagged white threads against black night—lanced forth and struck the savannah before the warriors. Tree and stone and dust ignited into columns of fire and smoke, turning foothills into dust. This wasn't lightning as humans knew it.
The evolved bioships cruised low as they sped for the warriors, their streams of pure supernatural energy carving through the planet before them like scalpels.
The Sword of Mercy leapt ahead of the stunned warriors, both hands locked firm in an arcane gesture. She landed seven steps ahead of the front line and drove both hands into the soil. A sudden Richter shook the ground. Fertile soil shriveled like wrinkled skin as the Sword of Mercy's ice-elemental witchcraft coursed through it. No more than fifty meters ahead of the front line, pillars of crystalline ice began to erupt through the planet.
The evolved bioships were closer now. Each moved at well over the speed of sound, and like gods forever aloft in their private heights, they cast their divine judgment upon the land with their lightning.
The pillars of ice now rose as a castle of crystalline monoliths, angled to a wicked stand against the evolved bioships.
The warriors huddled behind the shielding structure and dropped to the ground.
The lightning, and the evolved bioships, flashed past their barricade as a single trinity of brilliant radiance.
The lightning burned a twisting gorge across the ice shield. First, thermal expansion shot cracks across the structure, then the tail winds behind the evolved bioships smashed through it with near hurricane force.
The crumbling ice shield sent great boulders and pillars collapsing across the savannah. Some warriors awoke even as every fiber of their being screamed in protest. Many warriors did not rise with them—either dead or unconscious.
Kilometers out, near the horizon, the evolved bioships arced up at the storm clouds and dove down for the kill.
The Sword of Mercy tried to stand to raise another ice shield, but fell to her knees with both hands cupped over the mouth.
Blood snaked between her fingers, the cold-blue of her eyes stark and white, as she regenerated her damaged body.
The evolved bioships' lightning once more impacted the savannah. The sky took an eerily white glow—then blackened as millions of tons of ash and debris rained back down to the planet.
As the lightning neared the warriors, however, the evolved bioships suddenly hesitated. A burst of the most glorious light emerged between the lightning and the warriors.
The first object to appear was a crystal prism tapered to a point, with liquid gold energy churning within. Six more prisms formed a circle with the first.
The evolved bioships' lightning flew into the Gate of Eden. The dark electricity struck the unintended mark, where it disappeared as the artifact absorbed them.
From the glorious light came a new warrior in mid-charge, sword raised fast in the left hand, braced for combat. The hexagonal centerpiece, aglow with energy, was held firm in the right hand.
The new warrior swung Tyrfing in a blur.
There was a deafening crack—sound that shook the planet itself—then eerie silence as a wall of heat rushed into the evolved bioships.
The sky before them appeared to bleed, at first slowly then rapidly.
The searing wind caught the evolved bioships in their lofty heights; their shrouds flew apart in an instant, followed by blasted flesh vaporizing in the oxygen-rich environment. Upon the ground, the back draft splintered open-palmed acacia and wore stone into dust.
Night turned into day.
It didn't stop; a searing hurricane scorched the earth and smashed through distant valleys and mountains, baring them naked. Where there had been savannah, only sand remained. The corpselike yellow smog that choked the skies disappeared, and the storm itself found courage to flee only in the aftermath.
A new dawn broke over the newly formed desert.