"Have you seen how massive this carrier is? Shake it off? You think I can start doing flips in the air? This thing isn't built to move like that, you idiot!" said Computation, his synth infused voice radiating outwards with high pitched notes of desperation as he saw the outline of the strange humanoid being raise a fist in the air, as if to punch down and smash through the plane.
"You, any of you, can you fly!?" asked Rockshaper to the fourteen C rank heroes he had taken aboard the carrier.
None of them said anything.
Flight was a relatively rare power as far as Alter abilities went, and it was a general but not absolute rule that flying Alters that did not have flight as the main function of their power tended to be stronger.
Among the most average of C rankers, flight was a precious ability unless it was their main power, but here, nobody had any such capability, not even as their main ability.
"It's-it's gone!" said Computation.
"What!?" Rockshaper whipped around, bewildered. If the thing was a variant, then it would have smashed through the plane without any hesitation.
"It pulled back its punch, and then it just…faded away," said Computation, relief leeching into his voice.
"Don't ease up yet, that thing is still out there. Keep a close eye on the threat scans," said Rockshaper. He turned to the rest of the heroes. "And all of you, get ready to fight.
Put your costumes back on, get your weapons ready. We did NOT make it this far just to die up here!"
"Unfortunately, this is as far as you go." A faint voice echoed throughout the confines of the plane.
All the heroes looked around, tensed up, trying to track where that voice came from, but because of its echoing nature, it was hard to pinpoint an exact location. It felt like it came from everywhere, ringing through every inch of the metal, echoing into their very beings themselves, under their flesh, rattling into their very bones.
They all shivered in unison, feeling a distinct chill crawling up their spines. Their guts dropped in mounting dread they could not help but feel, and a few of them began to feel numb at their extremities.
"Wh-what is that?" One of the heroes, a man called Cyber-Knight, gripped his chainsaw broadsword tight with fear in his grey gauntleted hands.
"Variants can't talk!" shouted Rockshaper. "Stop sh*tting your pants! It's just an Alter!"
In the depths of the carrier, green mist started to pool outwards. The mist shone with a strange, unearthly glow, and though green was usually a color associated with life and nature, the shade of this green was best described as…diseased.
Sickly. Toxic. The kind of green irrevocably associated with decay. With dying.
The mist wafted outwards, its cloudy tendrils stretching through the plane, moving hungrily towards the heroes.
"That might be toxic gas!" said Rockshaper. "All of you have masks! If you have filtration built into them, use them now!"
"Hm. Toxic gas, is it? I suppose that's a natural response to seeing my Mist. I'll have to see if I can abuse that response later, with opponents that are more worth my time," came the voice again.
It was a deeply calm voice, and yet, it was not calming.
There was something about the calmness that felt so very…empty.
So very cold.
There was something fundamentally inhuman about it that intensified the shivers running through the bodies of all the heroes.
Even though that voice addressed the heroes, it was obvious from its calm emptiness that it did not address them as people, as humans, but as things.
"Who are you!?" said Rockshaper. He squinted his eyes through his stone plate shaped mask. "Show yourself!"
The only response was the strange green mist accelerating forwards, engulfing the heroes in one fell wave.
"I-I feel weak," said Cyber Knight as he shivered, the strength draining from his arms. He was near the head of the group, most exposed the mist, likely confident in his helmet's filtration system. He dropped his sword, and it clattered on the floor heavily. The muscled hero then dropped down to his knees and wrapped his arms around himself like a lost child. He shivered uncontrollably. "I-I feel…scared?"
"Fear, yes," came the voice, but this time, the heroes could attach a location to it. Footsteps echoed toward them. Heavy, metallic footsteps. "The closer you are to my Mist, the greater your life force drains, and the worse the constant debuffs for fear become."
"W-what's going on!? You, there! I see you!" Cowboy unholstered his twin pistols. His eyes were wide, almost bulging, and his expression was horribly panicked. "Eat lead, fucker!"
Cowboy aimed his twin revolvers and emptied their chambers. Cyber Knight fell forwards, dead from smoking bullet holes gouged out into the back of his armor already broken from fighting variants.
"What the fuck are you doing!?" shouted Rockshaper. "Look where you're shooting!"
"H-huh…?" Cowboy looked at his guns, then down at Cyber Knight's gurgling corpse. "What…?"
"And the more the fear stacks, the easier it is to turn into insanity," said the voice, ever calm, as it neared and neared.
"G-get back! Away from the gas! Masks don't work on it!" Rockshaper trembled as he stepped backwards, away from the heroes he was supposed to lead, inching back as far as possible from the approach of that horrible Mist.
The heroes followed suite, shuddering as they crammed themselves further back and back.
"No, stay away! Fight! Drive it back! If the gas hits me, I won't be able to pilot this plane, and then we're all done for!" shouted Computation.
Sooner or later, the heroes would crowd in the cockpit, the furthest point away from the approaching mist, and once that happened, once the Mist reached there and infected Computation, the plane would just crash.
"S-someone, any one of you useless idiots, go out there and fight!" yelled Rockshaper as he gestured wildly towards the approaching mist.
"You do it, you selfish fuck!" came a quick response response.
"We can't just sit here!" said Slammer, a former entertainment gear-wrestler - wrestling enhanced with cybernetics - turned hero. "This guy, this gas he's making is insanely strong! That means he's some kind of Creator. It's not likely he's as tough as he makes himself out to be in a close-up fight!
If an Augmenter like me catches him, I reckon I could break his back real easy!
I'll clear the mist, any other Augmenters out there, follow my lead!" Slammer ran forwards, bravely into the mist, and slammed his giant gauntleted hands together.
Gears and hydraulics clicked as his gauntlets crashed together in a clap, and a shockwave boomed forwards in a cone, scrunching up the surface of the metal floor and breaking apart chairs like twigs.
Unfortunately, the shockwave did nothing against the mist itself.
"Ah, that is interesting to note," said the voice in the mist. "Shockwave forces can blow apart the outer edges of my mist, but what I generate close to my body is immune to physical force. Thank you for your contribution to testing my abilities-,"
A red dot flashed in the mist, right to the side of Slammer, at his blind spot.
"Slammer, watch out!" said Rockshaper.
"H-huh?" Slammer looked around, but far too late.
Suddenly, an enormous, black metaled, bone spiked figure, one that had enough sheer mass that it was obvious that it was no mere weakling in close combat, lunged out of the thick of the mist. Its arm thrust forwards, a clawed hand wrapped tightly around Slammer's head. The edges of the black metal claws dug into Slammer's skin, piercing and drawing blood.
The metal monstrosity lifted Slammer's massively muscled wrestler's body up like he was a little toddler.
Now that it had attacked, the figure the voice belonged to became fully visible. It was a sight that made all the heroes pause in complete bewilderment. It was about two meters tall, far taller than any normal human, and looked like an eerie mix between a suit of armor and a living being.
The figure's body was largely comprised of black metal, but its metal body fused seamlessly with protrusions of bone, pockets of red, glowing red and raw flesh, and streaks of pulsating crimson red that looked like veins.
"In appreciation, I will give you a very quick death," said the monstrosity.
Slammer wrapped his huge, gauntleted hands around the figure's arm and yelled as he put in as much crushing force as possible, trying to tear free. His grip strength was quite notable, easily capable of pulverizing concrete, but it did nothing against the being of metal and flesh.
Instead, it looked like Slammer was trying to crush a flickering green forcefield wrapped skintight around the strange, terrible being's arm. All the damage he was doing was transferring to the forcefield, not at all reaching the actual metal and flesh itself.
"H-huh?" Slammer's arms fell loose to his sides as green light enveloped his head. Glowing green cracks began to form from his head down to his torso, and then, his body exploded in a nova of flashing light and bloody chunks of meat and entrails and white flecks of bone.
All the heroes stared at Slammer's remaining lower half of a body as it plopped down on the floor, staining the dull grey metal red.