• Published 10th Oct 2020
  • 6,756 Views, 111 Comments

Doom Slayer - Thule117

Lands charred black, and rivers boiled, crops and wells alike despoiled, moutains leveled, forests felled, footprints of. . . the Beast of Hell.

  • ...

Let Them Burn. . .

Author's Note:

Greetings everyone, Thule117 here just wanting to make a few quick announcements before we begin. First, let me thank all of my fabulous readers for their overwhelmingly positive response to Doom Slayer, your enjoyment of my work genuinely means the world to me. Second, I released this chapter a little earlier to coincide with the masterpiece DLC for Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods. If you haven't yet, I encourage every fan of Doom to pick it up, as it is both a literal, and figurative, blast to play. Finally, I wish to give a massive shout out to my editor Bronyshot2020 for accommodating my crazy whims and managing to edit this chapter in a single day! His hard work is quite literally the reason I was able to get this chapter out so quickly. As before, if you enjoy my story please leave a like, a comment, or both, it is always appreciated. Now, on with the chapter!

Twilight Sparkle surveyed the destruction surrounding her, her stomach tying itself in knots. The Friendship Festival was ruined, but honestly, she could care less about that right now. Much of the main Canterlot plaza was in shambles, several houses had been damaged, and burning airship wreckage had partly collapsed a few more. Storm beast blood and corpses were everywhere, their sight and stench an ever present reminder of the carnage that had been wrought there. Twilight had tried to take some small comfort in the idea that at least nopony had gotten seriously hurt. Then, a sudden pain in her heart, and the sight of the crystal statue in the center of the plaza, reminded her that that wasn't quite true.

"Can we. . . reverse it?" Twilight asked tentatively, staring at the crystal statue of Derpy Hooves, with the ache in her heart intensifying. Celestia and Luna, completing their examination, each managed a kindly, if strained, smile.

"We believe so, fortunately, it appears this magic is not so dissimilar to other spells of petrification Luna and I have seen. As long as the statue remains intact, it's likely Derpy can be brought back with a little effort and research." Twilight let out a sigh of relief.

"Thank goodness." She declared, her head turning to glance sadly at the sobbing form of Dinky Hooves. Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie at her side, trying their best to console her. Luna nodded soberly, her expression suddenly becoming grave.

"Indeed, but I believe we now have a more immediate problem." Celestia nodded, her face grim.

"Derran. . . ." She stated, her voice tinged with sorrow. Twilight looked at her former mentor with a fearful expression.

"What. . . what happened to him? He looked like. . . like. . . ."

"Like he did on the Day of Wrath." Luna finished. Twilight, her expression strained, nodded.

"But I thought that was impossible? Wasn't that power temporary?" Celestia shook her head.

"It may have been for the rest of the Legion, in truth we still know very little about it, but recall, Derran returned to Hell. He spent over one thousand years there. More than enough time to renew whatever energy that dark power relies upon. And this time it felt different. . . stronger. . . less controlled. Regardless however, even without that power, Derran's sanity has always walked a narrow and dangerous path. There have been instances before where Derran has. . . lost control." Twilight looked at Celestia, her expression becoming one of deep worry.

"You're talking about the Doom Slayer, aren't you?" She asked, her voice muted by concern. Celestia nodded, averting her gaze, as Luna explained.

"Derran and the Doom Slayer are both dedicated to the protection of Equestria and its citizens, to a degree that borders on, if not crosses into, the fanatical. Most of the time, Derran is in charge, and he keeps the Slayer in check, curbing his worst excesses, even as he borrows his strength. They aren't friends or comrades, but they cooperate out of a mutual love of Equestria and its citizens." Suddenly, Luna's expression fell. "However. . . should things grow dire enough. . . the relationship changes. Derran's will falters from despair, while the Slayer's restraint is destroyed by his rage, as he seizes near complete control. The Legion gave a name to this state, they called it: 'going berserk'." Celestia nodded sadly.

"We still are not certain what role the black flames play, or why they only appeared on the day of wrath. However, when in this 'berserk' state, the Doom Slayer embraces his very worst attributes. He becomes single minded, indifferent to moral gray, and utterly unforgiving of any creature he sees as an enemy. To him, all that matters is securing the safety of Equestria, its ponies, and its rulers, at any and all costs, as well as. . . avenging, any who were harmed. . . ." Celestia explained, with a sad look at Derpy's petrified form. "To this end, he will seek out and kill anycreature or anything, he believes is, or could be, a threat. Including those innocent of any wrongdoing, but with a connection to the guilty. He will not stop, until he believes our safety is assured." Twilight's eyes went wide.

"But. . . but he already stopped them?! The invasion is over!" Celestia shook her head.

"Not to the Doom Slayer. To him, wiping out those close to the enemy, as well as the enemy themselves, is a safety precaution. He believes that only by destroying evercreature that might seek vengeance for the deaths of the soldiers he's slain, can he assure Equestria's wellbeing. It also, to his mind, serves as a warning to others, that if they attack Equestria, they will be signing the death warrants of those they love." Luna nodded gravely.

"Which is why it is imperative we locate him, before he reaches an area with innocent civilians under this 'Storm King's' banner. Only a direct order from one of us, will be enough to persuade him to stop." Twilight stroked her chin with one hoof, her expression tense, and her eyes closed. Suddenly, her eyes snapped open, as a thought came to her.

"Wait, what about using the Guardian Summons?! Couldn't we bring him back that way?" Celestia shook her head.

"Right now, the Slayer's rage blinds him to everything but his self-imposed mission. He can't hear the summons, and would likely ignore it even if he could. He believes a pony of Equestria, and a dear friend at that, is dead. He will not stop killing until everycreature he considers complicit, has paid with their lives." Celestia looked at Twilight, her expression more serious than her student could recall seeing it in a very long time. "We must stop him, before he does something he cannot take back. For his sake as much as anypony else's." Twilight nodded.

"The battle here is over, what's left of the Storm King's soldiers, all but begged us to let them surrender after what Derran did. Shining, Cadance, and the girls, can handle things from here, while we stop Derran." She declared, determination flaring in her breast. Celestia and Luna nodded, their expressions set with grim resolve.

"We shall take an hour to make sure everything has settled down completely, then we will head into the wastes as swiftly as possible. I feel certain that is where Tempest was heading, and I may know a place there where we can find information on the Storm King." Celestia stated. "It may take a bit of searching to locate it, but if we can learn the Storm King's whereabouts, we can find Derran." Luna and Twilight nodded.

"Let us hope we can do so, before it is too late. . . ." Luna declared, her gaze lingering on the sundered corpses still littering the area. Their faces frozen, in expressions of unimaginable terror.

Tempest stumbled into the communication room, still trembling from horn to hoof. Collapsing to the floor, she struggled not to throw up, as images of what had happened a scant twenty minutes ago filled her mind. Currently, Tempest's lone remaining troop ship was hurtling as fast as it could to the northwest, into the wastes. Making for the capital of the Storm King's empire, on the other side of the Bone Dry Desert. The journey would take approximately a day or two by air. However, Tempest genuinely feared that would not be fast enough. She was no fool, she didn't believe for even a moment, that their pursuer was dead. A monster like that, would never be stopped so easily. . . .

Tempest dearly wanted to curl into a ball and cry. Never in her life having experienced such horror. The vividly recalled image of the monstrous biped, that had all but erased her invasion force, terrorizing her even now. In her exhausted and delirious state, Tempest couldn't recall when she had begun the ritual for activating the communication device in the center of the room. Pouring the activating potion into the scrying bowl with violently trembling hooves, Tempest nearly dropped the bottle twice. Instantly, swirling blue mist erupted from the liquid's surface, forming an ethereal sheet of energy, about three feet tall and two feet wide. For a time the sheet simply stood there, wafting delicately in an unfelt breeze, then suddenly, an image appeared in it. The face of the Storm King was roughly simian, its gray leathery skin framed by the white fur that covered nearly his entire body. His eyes were an electric sky blue, with black pupils and no irises, set above a blunt muzzle filled with sharp fangs. Finally, atop his head, were two sets of horns, one set of a dark gray that pointed up, and another larger set, that stuck out to the sides, their color black, but etched with faintly glowing lines the same hue as the Storm King's eyes.

"Tempest!" The King greeted jovially, his tone with far too much emphasis to sound genuinely pleased. "So good to see you, really it is, just one little detail, really nothing just. . . it looks like you're contacting me from inside one of my ships? But that can't possibly be, since you swore to me, that by this time today you would have both the princesses and the capital city of Equestria under my control. So. . . what happened?" It was at that point, as he paused for an explanation, that the Storm King finally noticed Tempest's expression. She didn't look merely frightened, she looked. . . broken. Her eyes were wide and staring, her pupils dilated, as her eyelids twitched involuntarily. Her lips trembled, as her jaw clenched and unclenched, her chest heaving, as she seemed on the verge of hyperventilation. Her mane stuck out at odd angles, while her coat was soaked in sweat. For an instant, the Storm King forgot his annoyance, as it struck him that Tempest, who he had always pegged as a quintessential: 'cold hearted bitch', had been genuinely traumatized.

"He's coming!" Tempest Breathed out, her voice on the edge of hysterics. The Storm King arched an eyebrow, uncertain how to handle this.

"Ooookaaayyy. . . who's 'He', exactly?" He asked, arching an eyebrow.

"HIM!!!" Tempest roared, her eyes reflecting genuine insanity and rage for an instant, before she suddenly started laughing. The Storm King stared at Tempest through the spell, feeling slightly unnerved, but mostly irritated, by his clearly several sandwiches short of a picnic, second in command.

"Well that explains. . . nothing." The Storm King deadpanned, as Tempest continued to giggle unsettlingly, her eyes unfocused as she stared at him.

"He. . . killed them. . . all of them." Tempest declared in a singsong voice, still sunk deep into her delirium. "He just. . . blew them apart. . . like wind. . . a wind of death! Invisible but deadly. . . not silent though." Tempest stated, before giggling again, as if enjoying some private joke. The Storm King however, just stared.

"Ok yeah, enough of this. SNAP OUT OF IT!!" He roared, injecting as much rage and authority into his voice as possible. Instantly, Tempest stopped chuckling, shocked out of her temporary bout of madness. She blinked, her expression returning to something closer to normal, as her breathing began to stabilize. "Now. . . what happened?" The Storm King asked, his voice, if not exactly gentle, then at least neutral. Tempest shook her head, marshaling her disjointed thoughts, as she struggled to form words.

"We. . . encountered resistance." Tempest explained, her words slow and deliberate. The Storm King frowned as he arched an eyebrow.

"You don't say?" He remarked, his tone sarcastic. Tempest simply continued as if she hadn't heard, like she was in a trance.

"The princesses. . . they. . . they had something with them. Something I've never seen before. It was. . . it was so fast. . . it tore through our soldiers like they were nothing! It. . . it couldn't be hurt! Nothing we did made so much as a scratch! And those eyes. . . those horrible horrible eyes!!" Tempest's voice trailed off into a whimper as she started to withdraw again, but was brought back to reality by the Storm King violently clapping his hands.

"Hello?! Hello?! FOCUS CRAZYHOOVES!! What. . . did the princesses have?" Suddenly Tempest looked frantic, as she stared into the Storm King's eyes, her voice shrill with terror as she spoke.

"You need to call back all our soldiers to the capital!! EVERYTHING WE HAVE!!" Tempest shouted, her expression becoming partly crazed with fear. "I don't know where that monster is, but I know he's coming for us! ALL OF US!!" The Storm King was now all but certain his second in command had completely lost it, as she continued to rant. "If we call back everything within a days march, we'll have at least four thousand soldiers! There's no way it could beat four thousand soldiers is there?! No. . . no of course there isn't! We'll have catapults!! And archers!! We'll stop him before he ever gets to the gate!!" The Storm King listened to his lieutenant's raving with a genuinely uncomfortable expression, he had never done well around lunatics.

"Uh, yeah, sure, let's uh. . . go do that-ok look Tempest. . . its obvious you've had a rough day. So I'm gonna grant you the benefit of the doubt this one time, and assume you aren't, a completely incompetent loser. We'll put a pin in this discussion, while you sort through. . . whatever this is all about." Here the Storm King made a vague gesture with one claw. "When you get back we'll have a nice talk round the ol' conference table, kick some new ideas around, and get this staff of mine purring like a kitten, sound good?" The Storm King didn't wait for an answer before he lowered his voice to a threatening growl. "Just a quick FYI though. . . if it turns out you are an incompetent loser, I'm going to take my time making sure that that broken horn of yours, is the most intact part of your body. . . toodles!" He declared, the last word becoming instantly upbeat, before he ended the spell. However, as the sheet of arcane mist dissipated, Tempest continued her rant under her breath. Unconsciously muttering to herself about troop numbers and siege weapon dispositions, as she fought to pull her shattered sanity back together. Her mind struggling to escape the image of a pair of murderous red eyes, and a voice, like unholy thunder. . . .

Capper moved through the streets of Kludgetown with his head down and his eyes up. As with everycreature that ended up calling this refuse pit of a city home, he wanted to appear to be minding his own business, while making sure to keep an eye on his surroundings. He was a bit down on his luck at the moment, and while Boss Verko hadn't unleashed the hounds quite yet, he was rapidly running short on time to repay his debt. Hopefully this trip to his favorite bar/stakeout would yield some sucker of a mark he could easily part from the stormbucks he needed, though Capper wasn't holding his breath. The trouble with a place like Kludgetown, was that you either got wise fast, or ended up sold to the highest bidder. It was rare to find anyone who could be readily taken advantage of. Not to mention, that since the Storm King had taken over, you had the added problem of his soldiers occasionally trying to enforce some kind of order on this lawless burg.

"Ah, my fair city of rogues and cutthroats, how you spurn me, yet I can never quit you." Capper chuckled to himself. At the end of the day, it was surprisingly tough being a concat in a city full of con artists and thieves. With a sigh, he passed the winding rocky outcrop that attached the mountainous desert stack, that was the city proper, to the wastes. Looking out over the parched landscape, Capper took a moment to admire the way the heat shimmering from the sand and rocks created odd illusions against the horizon. There was the usual appearance of water hovering just above the ground, all too common in a desert, but then there were the more interesting figments. A jutting rock, became an eerie specter cloaked in shadow. A desiccated cactus, became a cheerfully waving trader, and a dark blot against the horizon became. . . . "What in the wastes?" Capper asked aloud, as he brought a paw to his forehead, shielding his gaze from the sun, and straining his eyes in an attempt to make out what he was seeing.

There, walking up the road, was a shimmering black. . . something. Through the haze of heat, it was all but impossible to make out detail, yet, it appeared to be walking on two legs. As Capper struggled to see more of the entity, not yet entirely convinced it was real, a strange sensation fell over him. Suddenly, it felt as if the temperature had plummeted, goosebumps prickling the skin beneath Capper's fur. The sky seemed to inexplicably darken, as though the sun itself suddenly feared to shine. A wind, like none Capper had ever felt, whipped across the town, carrying sand, and a smell of ozone and sulfur, causing the nearby banners bearing the Storm King's emblem to flutter ominously. A feeling of dread came over him, his blood running cold, as his tail bristled.

Around Capper, others began to notice the change, the usual dull roar of the city, fading into a tense silence. As if on cue, distant thunder rippled through the air, as creatures pointed at the strange figure coming toward the town. For once in his life, Capper had no desire to try and be the first to meet the newcomer in hopes of fleecing them. As some inner instinct told him that, whatever was coming, it was unfathomably dangerous. For an instant, a veil of windswept sand obscured the figure, as Capper noted the dark clouds in the sky to the far southeast, that rumbled ominously. As if heralding the creature's presence.

Then, as the sands parted, Capper's eyes widened, his breath catching in his throat. The figure now seemed easier to see, as if the shimmering heat of the desert had parted in fear before him. In that moment, Capper swore he saw a bipedal monstrosity of living black flame, with two massive bat wings spreading out from his shoulders, eyes blazing like pits of unhallowed flame, focusing on Kludgetown, as it raised its arms. Two twinkles of brilliant red light briefly flashed out, as a pair of large objects appeared in the creature's claws. Capper didn't even have time to cry out in horror. . . as a vengeful god, cast its first stone.

Soundtrack: Run by Disturbed

Two flares of green light, their intensity blinding even in the middle of the day, momentarily overwhelmed Capper's eyes. As a pair of massive spheres of green lightning and black fire, hurtled towards Kludgetown. Bypassing the main city, the spheres, tendrils of annihilating energy whipping around them, turning stone and sand to slag and vapor, smashed into two of the satellite stacks surrounding Kludgetown. Capper screamed in agony, as a sound like a volcano in its death throes, burst his eardrums. A heat, like half his body had been thrust in a furnace, seared his left side, as a shock wave like the kiss of a battering ram sent him flying. Landing heavily, Capper lost consciousness for an instant, as around him, the world caught fire. Shacks and kiosks of dry wood and fabric, burst into flame like struck matchsticks, as citizens struggled to douse burning clothing and fur. Despite his damaged ears, Capper could still hear the panicked shrieks of the populace, as he struggled to regain his senses.

He was surrounded by prostrate bodies, some clearly no longer among the living, others, letting out groans of pain or screams of agony as they tried to rise, most sporting horrific looking burns or broken limbs. Capper's fur, and his proximity to a now disintegrated shack, had partially shielded him from the blast, though he was now missing the fur on half his face, while a broken arm hung limp at his side, and a knock to the head made his vision spin. Swaying drunkenly as he forced himself to his feet, he glanced at the location of the satellite stacks, as he staggered into an alley, half choked with fallen debris, to hide himself. The satellite stacks were gone. . . vanished, and with them, a good third of the population of Kludgetown. A gentle rain of smoking gravel, two partially molten nubs of sandstone, and the burning remains of the web of rope bridges that had connected the satellites to the city proper, were now all that remained of them.

The main city was rendered a partial wreck from the blasts. Lines of houses, precariously perched along the side of the primary stack of sandstone Kludgetown was built on, were either burning, or had fallen down the side of the stack and over its edge. Plummeting hundreds of feet to the shifting desert sands below. The lower and topmost structures had fared slightly better, but more than a few buildings had been collapsed by the shock waves, or ignited by the burst of heat. Most residents ran to and fro, screaming as they sought shelter, while others simply stared in horror at the destruction. However, the worst was yet to come, as a bestial roar, shook the very earth beneath their feet.

From his hiding spot, Capper heard a staccato chattering, and saw hundreds of barely visible projectiles, trailing black fire, wicker into the panicking crowd. A thin, anthropomorphic lizard, was blown in half, along with the three bipedal pig-like creatures behind him. A large fish beast was torn into gobbets of bloody meat, as close by, a trio of bipedal badgers had their remains splattered across a nearby cliff face. Even the shots that missed were lethal, as, in bursts of black flame, they shattered the sandstone streets of the city, sending out clouds of shrapnel that ripped through fur, and shredded flesh, leaving behind foot wide craters and sprays of blood. A pair of foxes, one sporting an eye patch, screamed in pain. The first losing a leg to the blast of a near miss, while the one with the eye patch, was deprived of an arm, in a puff of scarlet mist. In short order the shattered street was covered in pooling gore and cooling entrails, yet the stream of fire never stopped. As if seeking to completely erase the remains of the fallen, the fusillade only ceased once anything recognizable as a living thing, was reduced to little more than chunks of meat and an unpleasant smear.

Shaking from ear to paw, Capper limped away down the alley, desperate to flee from whatever was attacking the city. His broken arm causing him to wince with every step, Capper's damaged ears picked up the sound of multiple explosions and roars of unspeakable rage, as the ground trembled beneath his paws. Nearing the alley's exit, he paused to catch his breath, his burned face finally beginning to register pain, as the adrenaline subsided slightly, before he took in the scene in the street. Creatures fled in a screaming stampede, up the mountain and toward the airdocks. Trampling one another in their desperation, some broke down the doors of surrounding structures, desperate to find shelter. Capper opened his mouth to cry out a warning that that would only box them in, but the words froze in his throat, as another series of explosions caused the ground to quake. Several buildings collapsing inward, as a twisted and unholy voice roared out.

"KILL!!!" The voice, for all that it was muffled by Capper's injured ears, made his very soul shudder in terror, as a pair of new projectiles flew over the heads of the fleeing crowd. Shrouded in ebon fire, the two objects resembled metal fireworks, as they streaked by Capper's hiding spot and over the crowd. With reflexes he did not know he had, Capper hurled himself to the ground, just before the twin projectiles detonated. A good five hundred residents of Kludgetown were instantly vaporized in twin novas of black fire. The street, and the buildings to either side, shattering like eggs beneath a sledgehammer from the force of the blasts. Now, what had once been a living river of fleeing residents, had been divided. One side continued to rush up the mountain, while the other hesitated, uncertain as to whether to proceed or turn back. It was then, that the monster that had started all this, finally appeared.

With a bellow of rage so titanic it seemed to shake the entire city, a blur of black flame, hurtled into the midst of the crowd. Pure carnage reigned, as the obsidian shrouded horror attacked. With fists like wrecking balls it smashed down onto the street with force enough to send fissures through the already abused ground, up the sides of buildings, and even into the wall of the stack most of Kludgetown was built on, sending a spume of rock and sand dozens of feet into the air. The shock wave of the impact was enhanced by a blast of black fire, that reduced a good forty to fifty bystanders' blood, flesh, and even bones, to little more than a red haze.

Charging out of the crater it had made, the monstrous horror tore through the crowd, paving a path of blood and viscera along the ground, before interposing itself between them and the path up the mountain. Not wasting even a second, the monstrosity tore a pair of worn flagstones from the devastated street. With one in each hand, the rampaging beast spun in place before hurling the flat stones like a pair of discuses. Blood fountained, and screams of terror were cut short, as the spinning pieces of stone split bodies in twain, and sprayed those around them with a mixture of frothed blood and shredded organs. As the crowd screamed and made to flee back the way they came, the monster hurtled back into their midst. Grabbing a large reptilian biped by the arm, and a smaller wolf-like citizen by a leg, the creature proceeded to use them as living bludgeons against their fellow citizens. With unholy snarls and bellowing roars, the creature sent great swaths of the crowd flying, their corpses twisted and warped by their pulverized skeletons.

There were still hundreds trying to flee, the law of averages should have allowed at least a few to escape, but none did. The creature ran through the crowd like a thresher through wheat, chaos preventing most from knowing which direction to run, and the monster's speed ensuring that any who did get away, didn't get far. Dozens died every second, the carnage unceasing even as the flaming figure's improvised clubs burst like grotesque water balloons, raining liquefied guts down on its remaining prey. Unsatisfied, the monster grabbed a fleeing ferret biped, and tore him in half like a piece of paper, before charging into a small crowd of piratically dressed vultures.

Appearing among them in a black blur, the beast slashed out with blunt claws, covered in armor and coated in onyx fire. Despite their dull appearance, the digits sliced open one of the vultures from groin to throat in a jet of gore. The kinetic energy of the hit sent the corpse flying into a damaged stone structure, with enough force to collapse it entirely, as the creature turned to the remaining vultures. One was simply grabbed by the head, to have his skull smashed into the bloody stone beneath his feet, the blow shattering the rock like glass, amid a puff of blood and pulverized brains. Another was seized by an ankle and spun over its killer's head like a flail, sending its half dozen horrified compatriots to meet their makers, in a whirlwind of shattered skulls and pulped organs. All this, in less than three seconds.

Before Capper's eyes, a pair of long boxy weapons appeared in the creature's hands in flashes of red light, a crack of displaced air echoing even above the screaming crowd. With a roar of purified malice, the flaming monstrosity fired the pair of weapons into the fleeing masses. Scores were cut down instantly, their bodies blown into sanguinary fragments by the ebon shrouded projectiles. As the crowd thinned, and the creature dismissed its weapons, some of those still alive fell to their knees to beg for their lives. Offering anything to the creature, if only it would spare them. In response, the creature's flaming hand shot out in a blur of motion, hooking its blunt claws under the skin of the closest petitioner's cheek, before ripping his face off in a savage display of cruelty. Capper was surprised to see he recognized the unfortunate. As Boss Verko fell to the ground, his screams of agony garbled as he choked to death on his own blood, the monster made clear the only kind of payment it would accept. . . .

"TAKE. . . YOUR. . . LIVES!!!" As the air was shattered by this unholy declaration, Capper felt his head swim from a combination of pain and horror. The last thing he saw before he lost consciousness, was the remains of the isolated crowd, running to the edge of the Kludgetown stack, and hurling themselves, screaming, into oblivion. . . .

Captain Celaeno didn't have the slightest clue what was going on, save that whatever it was, it had thrown the city into utter chaos. The anthropomorphic parrot and her crew stared down at the frantic masses just ten feet beneath her ship's keel, begging and pleading to be allowed aboard. Clawing violently at one another in desperation, they shouted absurdly generous offers of payment for passage, in voices tinged with the madness only abject terror could produce. Had it not been for the scant distance between her hovering ship and the crowd, Captain Celaeno was positive the mob would have tried to seize the craft by force.

"What in the wastes is going on captain?!" Asked Mullet, Celaeno's first mate. Celaeno didn't answer as she tried to decide what to do. Tossing a ladder to the crowd was out of the question, there were simply too many to evacuate safely on her ship alone. By the same token, Celaeno wasn't cold hearted enough to just abandon the screaming populace below. The citizens of Kludgetown may not be the nicest creatures, or even remotely moral come to that, but abandoning them to their fate in the doomed city, still felt wrong. That said, every instinct Celaeno had, as both a former pirate captain, and an adventurer, were screaming at her to run. Something monstrous had come to this city, and if it found her or her crew, they likely wouldn't survive to regret not fleeing when they could.

"How much space would we have if we dropped the cargo?" She asked. Another of her crew, Boyle, shook his head.

"Not nearly enough captain, even if we got rid of the spare rigging and our personal effects. There must be at least a thousand creatures down there wanting passage. We don't have room for even half of that." Celaeno cursed under her breath.

"Are there any other boats about?"

"Not a one cap'n." Declared Lix Spittle, yet another of Celaeno's crew members. "They were either destroyed by that big blast earlier, or fled right after. Seem's we're the only ones who stayed to help." Celaeno muttered something unpleasant about 'cowardly Storm King lackeys' before turning to face her crew. Drawing herself up, she prepared to rally her men with a speech, then ask for ideas, only to stop dead. A chill, like somecreature had walked over her grave, sent an uncontrollable shiver through Celaeno's body, as an eerie silence descended.

"C-c-c-captain?!" Mullet forced out, his eyes filled with terror, as he pointed a shaking claw. Turning slowly, Celaeno felt the chill from before, become an icy panic, as she saw what Mullet was pointing at.

The creature, advanced up the red flagstone streets with slow, purposeful steps. Standing on two feet at over six feet tall, it was encased in a suit of armor, that was like nothing Celaeno had ever seen in all her years of adventuring. Seeming to consist of plates of metal painted green, and stamped leather-like material. The armor covered every inch of the creature's body. However, even if it hadn't, it would have been impossible to make out details, thanks to the entity's most terrifying aspect. From head to toe, the creature was covered in an aura of blazing black fire. As Celaeno watched, the flames flared, as if possessing an unnatural life all their own. Crawling across the beast's body, the flames seemed almost to create a suggestion of a monstrous winged shape, but it vanished before Celaeno could be sure. Only one part of the creature's actual body was visible. Behind a tinted visor, made even darker by the onyx flames, two pools of bloody red light, fixed their gaze to Celaeno's. in that moment, her very soul seemed to recoil within her, as primal fear tore at her sanity.

"W-w-what is that thing?!" Whispered Boyle, his voice a frightened squeak. Unable to so much as speak, Celaeno shook her head, her terror too great to utter a single word.

As Celaeno, her crew, and the crowd below their ship, watched in silent horror, the creature drew alongside some of the few houses still standing along the street. There was a flash of red light, as something appeared in its blunt claws. With what seemed more a violent twitch, than an actual movement, the creature tossed the pair of small metal canisters it had summoned, into the open window of the first house. The flames from its body clinging to them, as they flew through the air. An instant later, the front and sides of the large yellowed adobe structure were violently blown outward in a gout of black fire and dust. The crowd, suddenly shocked back into mobility, turned back to Celaeno's ship. With screaming voices filled with pure desperation, the crowd again begged for help, tears in their eyes as they pleaded. Celaeno and her crew heard none of it, as the monster continued forward, tossing the strange canisters through windows on its left and right, without ever breaking eye contact. Systematically destroying everything, as it stalked toward the roiling mass of Kludgetown citizens.

Celaeno couldn't think, couldn't feel, couldn't breath, all she could do, was stare into the terrible crimson abyss, that was this monster's eyes. Captain Celaeno, at that moment, could honestly say she had never been more afraid of anything in her life. Yet despite her mind screaming at her to, she was unable to move, as the monster advanced. It's path of annihilation never slowing or speeding up an inch. Paralyzed, Celaeno could only watch, as the monster at last, reached the edge of the massive sandstone plaza atop Kludgetown. Known as the Eagle's Nest, the plaza served as the primary docking point for incoming cargo ships. Surrounded on three sides by sheer drops, the Eagle's Nest was a complete dead end. It was then, with a feeling of mounting horror, that Celaeno saw another flash of red light, as the monster conjured a massive weapon from thin air. Celaeno had a brief glimpse of nine rotating barrels, unfolding into a triangle formation, before the Eagle's nest was consumed by death.

With a roar like a massive sheet of cloth being torn in two, three phosphor white and jet black streams of projectiles scythed into the crowd. Slowly, the monster drew the stream across the plaza, as Celaeno and her crew watched in appalled horror. The first few rows of Kludgetown refugee's deaths were at least painless. As in flashes of black fire, their bodies detonated in great fountains of vaporized gore, filling the air with a vile crimson fog. Those unfortunates in the middle and back rows, were not as lucky. Like a grinding saw blade, the three streams slice through the legs and bellies of the crowd, cutting them in half at the waist in a holocaust of pulverized flesh and flying limbs. Screams of agony and terror filled the air, as the monster cut down the crowd with a cruel precision. Legs snapped like twigs and exploded like wet fireworks, and chewed up organs spilled out onto the ground. As a literal carpet of blood, began to ooze over the stones of the plaza.

However, the true horror of what was being done, only dawned on Celaeno when she saw the fate of those left behind by the unspeakable weapon. Most of the victims, though missing half of their bodies, were still alive! Some, still clinging to the futile idea of survival, tried to drag themselves away. Ruined organs, and torn strips of flesh, trailing behind them, as they scratched at the blood slicked ground with claws and paws. Others simply lay there, staring at the sky, or splayed on the ground, expressions of fear and shock on faces stained with tears, by the realization that they were going to die. The remainder, were those that simply screamed, until the shock, or expiration, silenced them.

As the stream of fire and death reached the halfway point in the crowd, the realization that the only path to salvation lay through their attacker, dawned on them. Rushing forward with wide feral eyes, those remaining roared and screamed as they hurled themselves at the flaming monster. It was a futile effort, as the creature simply swung the weapon from side to side, hosing down the crowd as they charged, still aiming for their legs and stomachs. It only took a few seconds to pave a path of blood and entrails from the monster to the edge of the Eagle's Nest. In the end, not one member of the desperate charge managed to so much as get close. Then. . . finally. . . a moment later, the weapon spun to a halt. The silence would have been deafening. . . if it had lasted.

"Oh. . . wastes. . . my legs. . . I can't feel my legs!"

"Please. . . somecreature. . . anycreature. . . please I'm begging. . . help. . . me. . . ."

"It hurts! Oh shades it hurts!!"

"Momma'. . . momma'. . . mom. . . ma'. . . ."

Celaeno and her crew, unable to take any more, vomited over the sides. The acid burn and foul taste, bringing tears to the former pirate captain's eyes. As she wiped away a strand of saliva and puke, Celaeno realized she was shaking uncontrollably. As she once more directed her gaze at the flaming abomination, just in time to see it dismiss its weapon. As she watched, it made its way toward Celaeno's ship, but was suddenly halted, by a claw reaching out toward it. A pitiful half of an anthropomorphic boar, looked up at the monster with tear-stained eyes. Behind it, its ravaged intestines and a partially obliterated scrap of a leg, connected by a ragged tatter of fur and skin, dragged in the bloody slurry that had covered the plaza. His gaze was glassy, and his time measured in moments, but with the last of his strength, the boar asked. . . .

"Why. . . ?"

The answer, came in the form of a roar that seemed to split the heavens. In an instant, the flames covering the creature, blazed like he had been doused in oil. The pools of red light in its head, bulged in world ending wrath, as he raised his foot. Bringing it down on the remains of the boar, with the force of a cannon shot. The pitiful creature's head exploded like an overripe melon, the booted foot going through and embedding itself in the solid sandstone beneath. A spiderweb of cracks and fissures spread out from the corpse, as the flaming creature continued to stomp on it. With roars of incomprehensible fury, the monster proceeded to obliterate the body, its leg a blur, as blood fountained with every impact. Roaring like a wounded god, the creature vented its wrath on the now thoroughly mulched corpse, and the ground beneath it.

"HATE!!" The creature bellowed, madness seeming to overtake it, as it continued to stomp the bloodied stone into gravel. "HATE. . . HATE. . . HAAATE!!!" A moment later, the creature stopped, glaring at the dead and dying littering the plaza, as it shrieked out in a voice that, to Celaeno, sounded in as much pain as it did anger. "DERPY. . . HOOVES!!" It shouted, the already abused stone of the plaza cracking further at the monster's volume. "REMEMBER. . . HER. . . NAME!! MAKE. . . YOU. . . PAY!! STORM KING!!" At that moment, the creature seemed to lose all sense, as it called two new weapons to each hand. The large metal tubes blazing, as it fired rocket after rocket into the surrounding buildings and docks. Not caring that the buildings were already a ruin, or that there was nothing left to kill, save Celaeno and her crew, the monster went wild. Blasts of shrapnel enhanced with black fire, turned stone and rubble to dust, and blood and flesh to ash, as the top of Kludgetown crumbled beneath the beast's psychotic wrath. As the stone cracked and fell away, the monster kept firing seemingly at random, as it ran towards Celaeno's ship. Then, with a thirty foot leap, it landed on the deck with a howl of fury.

Celaeno and her crew scattered as the monster landed, the deck splintering beneath its feet. Dismissing its weapons, it rounded on Boyle, grabbing him by the throat, and pulling him to eye level. A wet spot appeared on the front of Boyle's trousers, as he stared into an ocean of hate, concentrated into a single almighty glare. Barely able to breath, and feeling as if his neck was seconds away from snapping, Boyle was surprised the black flames didn't burn him, as the creature deafened him with its bellow.

"STORM KING!! TAKE ME!! STORM KING!!" Boyle started crying from sheer terror. It was then, almost independent of her own thoughts, that Celaeno called out.

"I'm the captain of this ship! You want passage?! You deal with me!!" Celaeno had no idea where she got the courage to yell at the monster before her, but it swiftly faltered when the creature dropped Boyle, and then wrapped its fingers around her throat, in a blur of movement. Celaeno just had time to marvel that she had never in her life seen anything that fast, as the beast roared again.

"STORM KING!! CAPITAL!! TAKE ME!!" Celaeno felt her guts turn to water, as she struggled to speak. Despite not trying to kill her, the monster was hardly gentle, and she struggled to breath through a throat that was one squeeze away from strangulation. Struggling to gather her wits, Celaeno froze, as she again saw the creature's eyes up close. Never in all her life, had she seen a gaze so filled with pure hate. The feeling was so intense it felt as if her mind, body, and soul were drowning in it. This thing, whatever it was, didn't just hate the Storm King or Kludgetown, it hated the universe! It hated the clouds for floating, and the grass for growing, it hated the galaxy for spinning, and the stars for sparkling. It hated Kludgetown for daring to exist, and despised its citizens for having the audacity to breath! This thing hated the very concept of life, and if it could have, Celaeno had no doubt it would have reached through time itself to wipe out her, and every other creature in Kludgetown's, entire ancestral line. This thing. . . it was rage incarnate! Celaeno struggled to rally her all but nonexistent courage, as she spoke in a wheezing whisper.

"Spare me and my crew, and I'll take you to the Storm King!" She gasped out. The creature gave a snarl, its eyes twitching as it processed her words.

"HOW. . . LONG?!!" It roared.

"A day and a half!" She croaked, black spots dancing on the edge of her vision. Suddenly, she felt the creature's grip loosen, and Celaeno fell to the deck coughing and sputtering. She could feel the monster's rage, like a bonfire as it spoke.

"ONE. . . DAY!! OR. . . ALL. . . DIE!!"