1.15 Gigantic

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Alex quested outward with his Yeresunsa sense. This eroded tower had plenty of nooks and crannies where his friends might hide, but the empty pockets were precipitously vertical.

Anyway, if they split up, he would lose track of who hid where, and that would be a problem because he sensed that they were not alone in this broken ruin of a skyscraper. Life sparks moved on lower floors. Thousands of Torth cruised the sky above, but it seemed they also lurked below, ready to snatch his friends.

"There may be Torth below us," Alex warned in a low voice which probably everyone heard.

He couldn't let himself feel outmatched and cornered, but some Torth had bionically enhanced bodies. They could probably see in the dark, even without the aid of their armor, vehicles, and drones. Torth never got confused in battle. And their armor made Alex's crude plates look medieval by comparison.

He resolved to stay confident. It was pointless to wish for better armor, or a helmet that covered his whole face without leaving any skin exposed. He wasn't going to waste time wondering if he should have fought in space, or if he should have crash-landed in the living city, amidst civilization. He was a fighter in a battle arena, and this was likely his final battle. He must win or die.

At least the Torth couldn't easily chain him up. They could not fully control this battle.

Alex withdrew his focus to the treacherous floor, with its puddles and loose beams. He wanted to keep exploring the shadows beyond sight—to track every potential danger—but he simply had a limited amount of focus. He could not keep himself expanded throughout the tower without developing dangerous gaps in his awareness.

Gaps were all right for storms. He didn't need to be aware of every cubic centimeter of rapidly shifting cloud vapor, or the velocity and temperature of every falling raindrop, in order to set up a deadly wave of destruction. But he thought metals and solid materials were another matter. He could not afford to get careless while holding the floor together. And certain feats seemed to demand and consume all of his undivided attention. He could only heal a severe injury if he poured all of himself into it.

Someone cried out.

Alex diverted some of his awareness away from the unstable floor, looking for an attacker. He radiated electricity from his extended hand and focused it into a sphere of light, cupping it into a makeshift flashlight.

One of the ummins had apparently slipped in muck. Others helped that one away from a sheer drop.

"Turn off the light, you idiot!" Thomas whispered.

Alex let his electricity wink out. The Torth might never see his glow amidst all their crisscrossing searchlights, but maybe it wasn't worth a risk.

"We need to be able to see," Margo said, her voice as quiet as the rain. "This floor has holes."

"I'll help with the lighting situation if we get desperate," Thomas said. A candle flame flickered above his hand, illuminating his face with an orange glow. "Let's just hide first." His flame vanished.

Despite the meager display of power, Alex knew he had gained a warrior to back him up. Thomas had powers, no matter how he helpless he looked, no matter how scared he sounded. The inhibitor must have worn off.

The refugees fanned out with more confidence after seeing Thomas's flame. Alex took extra care with every step, going statue-still whenever a blinding light swept past. His armor was dully reflective. Even without electricity, he might be visible to enemies.

He was the rusty floor beneath his feet. He was the humid air between raindrop, and the broken ceiling beams overhead. He was the wind generated by silent engines, and also the missiles rocketing towards his core self—

Alex solidified the air overhead just in time, throwing his arm up to create an extensive shield.

Fiery explosions slammed him from many directions. None hit his friends, because Alex encased them in a dome of protection, safe from molten runnels of fire and bone-shattering impacts.

The refugees stared at the barrage of explosions with wonderment and fear. The floorspace was lit up. Pillars and beams glistened against stark shadows.

Alex had no time to inspect their surroundings. All the missiles and gunfire and lasers came from above, so he focused on the flimsy transports. Susceptible to strong winds.

He knocked them aside. Silent pilots were probably cursing the Giant in their mental language, but every time he succeeded in wrecking a transport, another descended from the clouds. They were as numerous as raindrops. Unavoidable.

Or maybe not. Alex knew how to end a rainstorm.

He condensed his energy, using his powers to even out floor beams as he stepped away from his friends and left them behind. Lightning thrummed across his armor, snapping into whips aimed to kill. As transports fell, the pummeling lessened, and Alex took the opportunity to unfurl his awareness. He grasped rotted skyscrapers with a multitude of enormous arms. He was ruination. He bristled with power.

He could hardly remember who he was or how much he controlled, but he held onto his objective as the only thing that mattered. His sole purpose was so simple, so straightforward, he managed to remember it even while he existed as many ossified skyscrapers.

And he spoke his purpose with a mouth that controlled tons of ruins and muck. "DIE, TORTH."

He shrugged many shoulders. Corroded walls and struts and beams came apart, shrieking. Lightning grew in jagged sheets, blasting apart the remains of the tower tops, slamming transports into each other, causing them to crash in a scream of steely wreckage and thunder. An avalanche of devastation rained upon the Torth fleet.

Alex snapped back to himself as buildings came apart. Unlike previous times, this time, he anticipated the change in his stature; the shock of being puny. It was no longer so disorienting. He boomeranged his awareness outward again, firming his shield, protecting his space and his people. He became a giant of lightning and vortex winds.

He was going to win. He might look berserk, with his teeth bared, but this was a special battle, where he was unchained and unfettered. And he craved victory in a savage way. 

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