Part 44: Cataclysm
Blue lightning crackled and fizzed throughout the room, the surreal giant face of Prometheus staring at us from a neat circular hole in the thick walls of Fortress City.
We ran, barely making it out of the room before it imploded into nothing, sucking plaster down from the ceiling and buckling the floor beneath our feet. Una floated on ahead of me, barrelling into a group of spindly black automata and sending them flying with barely a pause. And then she stopped dead in her tracks.
“I don't suppose this would be a good time to use the elevator, would it?” she asked.
Before us lay a long, shallow staircase with an ornate bannister. “Oh,” I said.
“Push you down the stairs?”
Behind us came the sound of brick and wood collapsing, the pistoning of giant, arthropodal legs. “I'll be all right. But I don't quite have the guts to do it myself.”
“I find that last part hard to believe,” I said, still placing my hands on the back of her shoulders.
“Lower down. I don't want to flip over.”
I dropped my hands to her hoop skirt and shoved. She rolled quickly down the stairs with a quick shriek. I followed close behind, stumbling as the stairs began to move and crack. At the bottom, Una put out an arm to stop herself, punching straight through a framed painting and the plaster wall behind it.
I grabbed her hand. “Are you okay?”
We were in the main hallway of Kirkham's home. Servants bolted for the door as Prometheus' slick black limbs sliced through the walls.
I cursed. “What the hell is it doing?”
“Let's find out from a safe distance,” Una snapped, pulling me towards the door.
The formidable artillery of Fortress City fired relentlessly, and without effect. Prometheus was right against the outside wall, clawing through ancient stone that had seen off whole armies of invaders. Most of the guns couldn't even aim at it, their barrels carefully blocked from swinging too far towards the city itself. But those that could only proved how impotent we were against such advanced technology.
Again and again the great impassive mask of Prometheus rippled and distorted as high-explosive shells pummelled it at point-blank range. And yet whenever the guns paused in their firing, it reformed perfectly.
Already the streets were full of people - the drab masses of Fortress City forced to seek refuge once more, heading inland en masse.
Una pointed a gloved hand at a couple spilling out of their roofless home, ragged bundles in their arms. “Children,” she remarked. “I haven't seen any children in years.”
With an explosive rumble, dust began to rise from the direction of the wall. Prometheus was within the city. As it pressed forwards, it pushed against a grand old clock tower, spilling age-blackened bricks across the rooftops below.
“Is it coming after us?” I asked.
“No. I think Kirkham's playing his last card.”
“Then he's the only one who can stop it.”
There was another thunderous crash as Prometheus hauled its bulk through town houses and factories. The guns of Fortress City were silent.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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