Breaking Down

by spitfirepanda


Chapter 14: Trials of Conquest

Joan was still recharging from her Hyper Beam attack. She couldn’t fight back as the Parademons approached, but she didn’t have to. The first wave was engulfed in a Solar Beam, launched by Welshi from a hole in the street. Lightning tore through the sky, burning the second wave to a crisp before they could even utter their war cries. There was no third wave, only an armored, humanoid form that stepped out of the portal and into the battle damaged street.
“We were promised specimens,” the man said, his voice low and filled with arrogance. He was large and imposing. There was a feeling of violence draped around him as surely, and comfortably as his hunting cloak. “Darkseid was promised living things to experiment on. An oath was sworn. Where are our test subjects?”
“I believe most of them are dead, or unconscious,” Joan said, calmly. Her head was feeling much better with the destruction of Amanda Waller’s helicopter and the damage done to Lex Luthor’s suit. His soldiers were in hiding in the surrounding buildings, their weapons trained on the new arrival. Joan could feel them, as well as the reinforcements arriving from the south under orders from General Lane. She smiled as her bodyguards floated out of the sewers to land next to her, their presence calming and encouraging.
“Are you responsible for this?” the armored man asked as he gripped his brutal energy spear tighter.
“Partially. My forces and I defended ourselves when the Wraiths escaped their prison.”
“That prison was a containment cell meant to house these beasts until I could arrive to take them.”
“The humans are responsible for their release,” Joan said as she motioned toward Lex.
“Now, now, Steppenwolf,” Lex said as he shifted uncomfortably. “We had no idea Apokolips was involved.”
“Darkseid has been busy invading other realities,” Steppenwolf said as a third wave of Parademons marched through the portal behind him. They stopped short and saluted their leader. “To his surprise, several of his conquests were halted by armies of massive, robotic life forms. Behind them is the will of a god, not unlike Darkseid himself.”
“My contacts in the Justice League say that the alien fleets currently pouring through our solar system are fleeing from such foes,” Lex said. He crossed his hands behind his back, his voice taking on the candor of a businessman proposing a deal. Kingshark crawled out of a nearby crater, his body battered and bruised by Joan’s attack, the half eaten Wraith still in his hands. Lex motioned for Kingshark to hand over his meal. “Perhaps we can be of help to one another? We have no desire to oppose Darkseid’s conquests where Earth is not involved. Let us aid you in your mission.”
“I have read about Apokolips and its citizens in some of Lois’ old articles,” Joan said, in disgust. “Would you truly side with them, Lex?”
“Fighting off the armies of Apokolips is impossible in our current state,” Lex said, simply. “Better to aid Darkseid for now if it means a reprieve, than fight him and die horribly.”
Lex looked at Kingshark with an impatient glare. Muttering curses under his breath, the demi-god reluctantly handed over his meal. Lex flew to the creature he had defeated and brought it back to lay at Steppenwolf’s feat. The New God now had two specimens before him, both dead.
“That is still despicable,” Joan replied as she considered her options. She was planning her attack, but Lex’s appeal to Steppenwolf was a shocking new low.
“We can talk about this later,” Lex said, his voice low and urgent. His eyes moved back and forth between Steppenwolf and Joan, betraying his nervousness at the New God’s sudden appearance.
“I require more,” Steppenwolf said as he turned to the battle in the sewers. It had died down a bit, as the Wraiths were defeated one by one. However, several of the alien creatures continued to fight. “Perhaps I can take a few of those beasts down below?”
“I’ve got some for ya,” Welshi yelled from a hole in the street. One of Joan’s Granbull dragged three still breathing Wraiths into the opening and handed it to Ada, Laurel and Hwan. The two Clefable and their recently adopted Mimikyu recruit took their charges, and with great strain, they lifted them into the air and carried them to sit next to the others. “Can I have your cloak, please? I want to copy the patterns!”
“Bite marks, broken bones, and malnourishment,” the New God said as he ignored Welshi’s request. He motioned for his Parademons to carry the aliens back through their portal. “This will do, though I will instill the fear of Darkseid into the remnants of those foolish mortals and their lackeys. They failed in their promise, and failed to welcome me into this world. Fear is not an excuse. I would also be remiss not to answer your call for an alliance, human.”
Steppenwolf snapped his fingers and dozens of portals opened behind him, expelling hundreds of Parademons in seconds. He turned and walked back through the portal he had come through, which closed behind him as his attack force descended on the battered defenders.

Applejack had done some research of her own upon her arrival to this strange, new world. Thanks to Joan’s access to the Daily Planet, she knew that the hero known as Superman, though impossibly resilient to most forms of attack had no defense against magic. Applejack had hoped that these ‘Wraiths’, being similar to Superman, had no defense against magic either. She still wasn’t sure if that was the case, or if their emaciated forms were so weakened that her kicks could break their bones. Either way, she was thankful for the strong Equestrian magic that coursed through her veins as she led Joan’s fairy-types against the dozens of Wraiths that had erupted into the sewers.
“What’s goin’ on back there, Welshi?” Applejack asked as she wiped the sweat from her brow. She stood atop an unconscious Wraith. It was a beast easily twice the size of a human, but it was terribly skinny. She had brought it down by ripping out the wiring and tubing in its chest, while dodging its large fists. Once weakened, several sharp kicks to its head were enough to end the fight. Two other Wraiths lay nearby, defeated by the Pokémon that stood behind her. Others had been carried into the streets above moments before.
“I’m not really sure,” Welshi said from her perch atop a large pile of asphalt. “I gave two of our enemies over to a big, evil guy that came out of a portal. He wouldn’t give me his cloak, though. Oh well, at least I got a good look at it. Anyway, there were a bunch of ugly things that gave me the heebie-jeebies so I blasted them, but they’ve got friends.”
“Are they comin’ our way?”
“Yup.”
“Dagnabbit,” Applejack said as she jumped down from the monster’s back. It groaned, but stayed on the ground. “If it ain’t one thing it’s another. First we get sent off ta’ that awful world full a’ terrible monsters…”
“Do you remember any of that?” Welshi asked as she turned to look at Applejack.
“Well, no,” Applejack admitted. “Though I know it cost me several months of farm work, and I got a few new scars from it.”
“Doesn’t it stink that we can’t remember anything?” Welshi said as she began to glow with a faint, green light that grew slowly with every second. “By the way, we’ve got another couple of groups heading our way. I can get the second one, but my Solarbeam won’t be charged in time for the first.”
“That’s ok,” Applejack said with a sigh. She turned to her fairy-type warriors and sized them up. “You four Granbull, get ready! I don’t want nothin’ gettin’ through this tunnel. If they make it into the city, it won’t be good. I want our two Florges to ambush ‘em with Petal Blizzards the moment they come through the ceiling! Send ‘em blind into our line of bruisers.”
She looked to the back of the sewer tunnel. Five sturdy Slurpuff were tossing two particularly large Wraiths back and forth in a brutal game that looked like a mix between Hackey Sack and Wall Ball. The Slurpuff were even keeping score, as they shouted about points and fouls to one another in between hits. The poor aliens weren’t given any chances to breath or fight back. Whatever drugs were pumping through that strange piping system on their backs wasn’t doing them any favors. Several Wraiths had already fallen from this game, and these two didn’t look long for this world, either.
Welshi’s troops were beating down four more Wraiths in the opposite direction. Two of her Lilligant were on the ground, cradling injuries and using Synthesis while a third stood guard over them. It was still night, though, and gathering light for healing and attacking was more difficult. The grass-types had managed to slay five Wraiths, but they had taken serious injuries as a result. The last four Wraiths were being worn down slowly, but they seemed to be absorbing the energy around them. Their bodies were glowing, and spikes were forming on their skin.
“We need to end this fast,” Applejack said. “There’s a number of these beasts that escaped into the streets above, but I don’t think all of ‘em are accounted for.”
“We’ll have time to hunt down the ones that escaped later,” Welshi said as she continued storing energy. “The first wave will be on us in seconds.”
The sky darkened as lighting struck the strange creatures out of the air in droves, but the enemy portals continued to disgorge monsters by the hundreds. Even with their incredible skill, the Wonderbolts couldn’t continue this barrage of lightning all night. Applejack turned toward the opening in the sewer ceiling that led to the sky. The Granbull ran to her side, howling a challenge to these new foes. The Parademons closed in, Applejack charged and battle was met.

Northern Metropolis was overrun in minutes. The Parademons were relentless and brutal, declaring their loyalty to Darkseid as they charged into battle and died by the hundreds. The Transformers formed a defensive line to keep the monsters in the suburb, their size and ferocity a challenge to the Parademons. Rainbow Dash couldn’t help but feel that there were far more Transformers than there had been previously. Some even flew, while others gathered fallen Wraiths and Parademons into their back compartments to carry off through bright portals that contrasted against the hateful red that the Parademons emerged from. The ponies didn’t have the luxury of questioning this new battlefield development, though. The Transformers were their friends, and that was enough.
The Parademons came in wave after wave. The portals they emerged out of never closed, though more seemed to spawn every second. Rainbow Dash was busy bucking lightning out of the clouds when the first wave turned its attention to the sky. Soarin’ called out for their squad to form up on him through the radio, his voice distorted and hard to hear. Rainbow Dash rushed to comply, but the rain was coming down heavy now. It was a side effect of gathering so many storm clouds together. Her goggles were wet and her vision was blurring. An army of demons was chasing her into the high atmosphere.
She heard a cry behind her. She turned to see Misty Fly being dragged down by the monsters. Without a second thought, she darted down to her friend’s side. Soarin’ and High Winds weren’t far behind. Together, they used their momentum to strike at the soft spots in-between the Parademon’s armor. The monsters fell, and Misty Fly was freed. Though her outfit was torn and she was bleeding from multiple wounds, fire still shown in her eyes as she thanked her friends. Together, they outpaced the Parademons and joined the others above the clouds.
“Alright, ponies,” Spitfire yelled as the squads gathered around her. “We’re going for a Winter Rap Up snow clearing formation, Wonderbolts style! Destroy them in the air, but keep above the buildings to prevent collateral damage. Leave the ones on the ground for the Cybertronians and Applejack’s crew. I want a full-fledged twister. Rip these things apart!”
She turned mid-air and darted back down toward the clouds. A horde of Parademons was already flying into the upper atmosphere to meet them. The Wonderbolts fell into formation behind their captain, spinning around in circles at increasingly insane speeds. With Spitfire at their center, leading them forward, they created a tornado the likes of which Metropolis had never seen. The Parademons charged into the wind tunnel, only to be ripped to shreds by the furious gale as the ponies descended on the suburb below.

Victorion stepped through the spacebridge just in time to be swarmed by a horde of Parademons. They were annoying, but not much else. She covered her body in a grav-wave and slammed them to the ground with bone breaking force. She saw Drift and Bumblebee commanding the defense several miles away. The Transformers wouldn’t leave this place to the whims of such a hateful foe. She turned as her sensors rang out with warning alarms. Another Mother Box portal opened in front of her and a humanoid beast stepped out. It was almost as large as she was, with dark, rocky skin and shackles on its arms and legs. There was something infantile about it. Victorion filed those thoughts away as she turned to face the monster. It screamed and charged, the ground shaking with every step.
Victorion met it head on, withdrawing her mighty sword to slash the beast’s arm off. It screamed once more as it slammed its remaining fist in her face. The combiner’s right foot slid back several meters as she braced herself against the impact. Ignoring the pain, she brought her sword around for a second swing and the giant’s legs were cut out from under it. Her backward swing cut the head off the beast and it fell silent.
“Are the subjects gathered?” Victorion asked as several vehicons drove by, the largest one bogged down by a human helicopter chained to his trailer. They voiced their confirmations as they went through the spacebridge, their retreat covered by Victorion and the Cybertronian defense.

“How do we stop this?” Joan asked as she fired Moonblast after Moonblast. Her bodyguards stood at her sides, casting Moonlight in-between repeated uses of Cosmic Power, Stored Power, and Moonblast. Hwan floated above them, keeping Lightscreen and Reflect active on his allies while his Shadow Claws tore apart everything that came near.
“My Mother Box control was in that gauntlet you blasted off my arm,” Lex said, angrily as he beat down Parademons one after another. “I could have stopped this…”
“If I’d thought you weren’t about to kill me, I’d have spared your precious super suit,” Joan shot back as she crushed several more Parademons with her mind.
“I can see your little friends are aiding you,” Lex said, ignoring Joan’s snide remark. “I could use some assistance, as well.”
“You’re not our friend!” Hwuan said, as he puffed himself up beneath his cloth. “You’re just a big jerk!”
“Indeed, he is,” Joan agreed. She motioned for her Clefable to run to her front. They immediately obeyed, standing sentry before their mistress, slaying demons left and right as Joan focused her mind. Her visions came to her easily now, and she embraced them.
She saw a dark world drenched in despair and hatred. Mighty machines constructed weapons of war in an endless production line. Everyone and everything on this world was a slave to an unbreakable, iron will. Yet this invasion was only a small greeting, a glimpse of things yet to come. It would end soon. As Joan felt the eyes of the ruler of Apokolips turn his attention toward her, she withdrew her sight. The invasion was already ending. The Mother Box portals were closing without being replaced. Yet, there were thousands upon thousands of Parademons still flying above the once sleepy Metropolis suburb.
A massive tornado came from the sky, dragging the cloud cover behind it as it swallowed legions of Parademons whole. Some fell to the ground and escaped into the sewers to be slain by Applejack and the fairy-types under her command. The strongest escaped into side streets, their brutal claws keeping them anchored to the ground as they struggled to find safety. The Transformers killed many of these, but Joan’s intuition told her that they couldn’t stop them all. She began searching for the minds of the demons, teleporting herself and her guardians to another location every time she found one. She killed several dozen, but even then she knew that some had managed to escape.
This world was still in jeopardy. She could feel it in her bones. They had earned a short reprieve for this place, but war loomed on the horizon. Joan mulled over this fact as she led her forces through underground passageways and out of Metropolis, away from the eyes of the government forces still struggling to hunt down the remaining Parademons.