Unimportant’s voice was still hoarse. Eclipse had stopped using the white pillars, but he had kept every slider in the city shouting warnings for hours. But, even with everything they could do, he had managed to create dozens of the flesh monsters.
He stared at the creatures slowly rampaging their way through the city. These monsters didn’t make sense. He had seen part of Eclipse’s last attack. He had opened thousands of rifts around the battlefield that had swapped heroes with the most negative versions of themselves. He’d killed more heroes in an hour than these things had all day. Eclipse wasn’t predictable, but he’d never held back from dealing out as much death as he could in his attacks.
Unimportant reached into his bag and grabbed a bottle of water. His feet dangled off the edge of the roof directly over the fight below. He wanted to figure this out, but he couldn’t let himself get distracted for too long. He kept any eye on the fight, but he shifted his focus to the rift.
Even if he’d only gained his powers yesterday, he would know exactly where Eclipse was. Unimportant’s half existence trailed rift radiation around him like a giant can of spray paint held a few stories over his head. Even when other sliders were looking for him, they could never narrow it down to more than a few blocks. But Eclipse shone with it, like the sun breaking through a hole in the clouds. It wasn’t just easy to find him; it was impossible not to know exactly where he was.
Every time he did something, another ray of radiation would break free and strike his target moments before his attack would begin. It gave the sliders almost no time to work with, but it had still saved hundreds of lives today.
Since he was stuck in between, Unimportant had spent more time looking at the radiation other sliders left behind. But he had never seen any of them control it the way Eclipse did. Most sliders, even Janus, used the rift better than Unimportant did. They could create portals that let them teleport or time travel or go to other universes. But Eclipse’s rays were nothing like that. The rift wasn’t just letting things pass through, he was bringing the rift into the world, and somehow that was letting him fuse people together to make these monsters.
Unimportant tore himself away from his thoughts. He was more exhausted than he thought if he couldn’t focus on his task for more than a minute. It didn’t matter how Eclipse was doing this. It would only take a few seconds of distraction for Eclipse to attack before he could warn anyone.
More shouts from below. One of the flesh monsters had stopped moving and sprouted an endless wall of tentacles. It was batting away any attack that got near it. It looked less like a blob now and more like a sea anemone that was moving a few thousand times faster than nature intended.
It was also leaking more rift radiation than it had before. The radiation had been waxing and waning since the flesh monster was created, but it had grown stronger than it had ever been at the exact same time as its strategy changed.
Unimportant let himself fade further from existence to get a better look at the rift, but a mecher flew into the air above the flesh monster and unleashed a laser far larger than his gun should have been able to produce. The flesh monster vanished from sight and broke into dust.
Unimportant pulled his feet back onto the rooftop and ran to the next closest flesh monster. It was still slowly trying to advance through the city, but he needed to see if this could happen again.
Before he could make it, the rift around Eclipse shined, and a dozen heads sprung up to follow it. It was behaving differently this time. The ray was moving slower than before, and it was aimed straight for one of the flesh monsters.
Sliders in the area shouted a warning, and the heroes all backed away from the flesh monster. But when the rift encased the monster, it vanished into the void.
Unimportant stared at the empty space. The rift didn’t return to Eclipse; after it swallowed the flesh monster, it wrapped around itself until it was only a pinprick floating in space.
Unimportant ran back the way he came; fading into existence as much as he dared and waving his arms over his head.
She had backed off from the front lines after killing the first flesh monster; she was building walls to keep the other monsters contained. When she heard his shout, her head jerked away from her task. A vine shot from her arm and grabbed the edge of his roof.
He let himself fade further back in between as she pulled herself up to the roof.
“eclipse is hiding one of the monsters…i think there’s more to them than we’re seeing”
Hawthorne glanced at the fights below. There were still half a dozen monsters left, and the heroes were getting tired. She looked up at the sky; a few heroes up there were better off, but even staying up there was going to drop a few of them soon.
“What do we need?”
“get as many fliers as you can…anyone who can fight from a distance”
Hawthorne, thankfully, didn’t ask any more questions before the giant wing-like flower stretched from her back and propelled her into the air. Unimportant wished he had a better idea of what was coming. The flesh monsters were dangerous, but until the one had sprouted the mass of tentacles, they had been consistent. There was nothing to build on, nothing to tell him what to expect next.
Unimportant tightened his bag on his shoulder and went off the other way. He needed as many sliders as he could find. He didn’t see the red and white blur heading his way.