Ra Versus the God-Eater!

Your universe is more immense than the human mind can comprehend, filled with more strangeness than it could ever imagine - and yet, just beyond its borders, there are infinities yet greater, for linked to the crossroads-realm that humanity calls home there are countless others, universes so varied that it would take lifetimes to understand even a handful of them. Some are vast, bigger even than our own, while others are no larger than a living room. Some are paradises you would never wish to leave; others, hells you could never escape. Some teem with endless life, squirming and breeding and endlessly growing, and others…

…others lie dead.

Before us is one of the latter kind.

It is an almost empty plane. The light here is dim, shining from far-distant stars and illuminating nothing but dust. A few uneven planes suggest that once there may have been something more here - perhaps monuments, perhaps mountains - but whatever they were is impossible to determine from the ruins. Certainly there is nothing alive, not any more. Even rot and mould would be too active for such an existence.

But that does not mean there is nothing there at all. Something waits in the dust, something grey and quiet and still. It would be wrong to call it patient, because that would imply there is anything it could do to express impatience, but nevertheless it has been waiting here for a long time.

A very long time.

And then something unexpected happens. In this endless, unchanging nothingness, there is a change in the air, and the thing senses it. It lifts its head and reaches out, searching blindly for that intangible alteration. It stretches, searches…finds.

And disappears.

Funerals are made up entirely of cliché. A cluster of black-clad people, eyes too tired to cry any longer, standing around a grave as a priest repeats the same words he’s intoned hundreds of times before. He is doing his best not to sound bored, and mostly succeeding.

“…from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the work-”

There is a thump from the grave, and the priest stops sharply. He leans forward a little, to take a look at the coffin.

It lies still.

He glances around at the mourners, all of whom are looking at him, but he can’t tell if they heard it too, or if they are just confused about why he isn’t speaking. On balance, he decides it is probably the latter. He clears his throat, clears it again, and opens his mouth to resume his speech-

The coffin bursts open, and the screaming starts as something hideous rises up from the grave, something that writhes and squirms and surges forwards. The mourners shriek and scatter as the thing lunges at the priest. He throws himself back, and its first swipe misses, whipping through the air where his head had just been. He scrambles backwards along the ground as the big, shapeless thing pulls itself out of the grave and steps towards him. A desperate push back and he is up, dashing away through the graveyard, and for a few seconds he thinks he will be okay.

Then he hears footsteps, pounding heavily into the earth and coming closer, closer, closer - something hits his back and he is lifted into the air, then suddenly tumbling end over end until he slams bodily into one of the trees dotting the graveyard.

His head swims as the footsteps come closer and the thing reaches down and lifts him up, bringing his face level with its own. It looks like a parody of humanity, a twisting mass of worm-things that wriggle over each other, an ever-shifting confusion of vileness, glaring out of eyeless craters, and speaking from a million tiny mouths.

“Where is your god?”

“What?” The priest sputters, then immediately regrets it as the monster lifts him higher, its grip tightening on his throat.

Where is your god, fool?”

“I…” he chokes through a throat that’s clenched within a writhing vice, and tries again. “That’s a difficult question. Some people say that God is all around us-”

A massive limb smashes into the tree just beside his head. “Idiot! Do not try to deceive me! Where is the one you call Ra?”

The priest is flummoxed, and all he manages is another: “Wha…what?”

Enraged beyond words, the monster pulls back a limb and prepares to smash it forwards into the priest’s terrified face. It swings forward, a horrific, inevitable mass, and-

There is a flash of light and heat, and the limb is gone.

For a fraction of a second, the monster seems frozen in place, stunned. Its desperate victim takes the chance to wriggle free and drag himself away, pulling his body upright into a run as soon as he can manage. But the massive thing doesn’t pursue him – its attention is elsewhere.

A man stands at the top of a small rise in the graveyard, his hands wrapped in bright orange flames, an arrogant smile on his face and a glare in his glowing eyes.

“You called for Ra, monster? Then face him!”

Another jet of flame lashes out, and this time the creature seems to all but dissolve before it, writhing white worms scattered or burned instantly to ashes. Its torso is gone, and a third blast takes out its legs, leaving nothing but a patch of burning grass behind it. Ra walks closer, to take a look at his fallen enemy, and there is almost nothing to see. He snorts.

“Pathetic. Monsters are not what they used to be.”

Something catches his eye. It is a small movement, and at first he is not sure what he is looking at. When he does see it, he still doesn’t quite know what to do with the knowledge, but he can’t deny what he sees. Before his eyes, the circle of dead grass is expanding.

The tree beside him shivers as its leaves turn brown, and that is all the warning he gets. Ra throws himself aside as the tree bursts into splinters, and a writhing white limb slashes through the air where his body was standing.

He hears the figure laughing in triumph, and rolls, aiming another blast at its face. A few of the worms avoid the flames, a few more are annihilated, but less than a second the figure recovers, looking as whole as ever. It opens that awful maw, leans forward, and seizes the god by his throat.

Ra grimaces, and aims a strike at the hand around his throat, dissolving it into ash, and he drops to the ground, darting backwards as the thing regenerates, the withering aura around it widening and widening. It steps slowly but inexorably towards him.

“Thousands of years, little god. Thousands of years waiting for my revenge against you and your kind. Do you have any idea how much I have hated you?” It swipes another at him again, a thick limb that catches him off-guard and the host of tiny mouths leave stinging lines across his chest. He responds with a quick flash of flame, weaker than he intended but still strong enough to push it back and give him a little space to move. A few more firebolts crash into its body, barely making an impact before it regenerates in a wriggling off-white mass. The thing laughs at him, the awful sound seeming to come from every one of its vicious little mouths.

“Pathetic. Gods are not what they used to be.” It steps closer, and then lunges forward, its limbs coming within a finger’s width of his throat before he can dodge out of the way. A snarl of frustration bursts from its throats. “Know, little god, that your death is righteous and just. Know that you have earned this. Your flesh will feed-”

The voice suddenly stops as a massive forearm smashes through its torso, scattering worms over the grass, and the monster is forced to take a moment gather itself. Ra is only a little less stunned, as before him stands the immense, muscular and completely unexpected figure of the man known as Haka. He flashes a grin at Ra. “Surprised to see me?”

The sun god scowls back. “Of course. Shocked. Now please leave.”

“I thought you might need a little help with your monster situation. Unless you wanted me to wait for the others, to maximise the drama of our entrance?”

“I have this under control. I don’t need any help from you or your friends!”

Naturally, this is the moment that the monster reforms and attacks. Its arm collides with his chest and throws him backwards, tumbling end over end until he lands face-down on the grass. He lifts his head and manages to get a look at the two huge figures smashing their fists into each other.

“Fool! Who dares come between me and my rightful victim?”

A merry laugh booms through the air, practically shaking the earth. “The mighty Haka has dared to face far worse than you, monster! Come, fight me! Give me your best!”

Ra does his best to croak out a warning, and as the creature attacks, Haka throws up his arms to block its strike. He grunts at the impact, then smashes a fist at its head, striking straight through it again, then following up with another attack to the torso, and another and another, not giving it a single moment to recover its strength as attack after attack connects with the thing’s amorphous form. An appendage strikes up blindly from the ground, and the big man moves gracefully out of the way, then returns the attack with a double-fisted smash that pulverises the tendril. That seems, for the moment, to be the last of the monster’s attacks, and he straightens, brushing a last couple of worms from his hands and catching his breath.

Ra narrows his eyes. Something is wrong. A little fight like that shouldn’t be wearing Haka out…

He manages to shout a warning, and just in time – Haka dives out of the way as the thing bursts up from the ground, its arms slashing up through the air and barely missing him, leaving acidic clawmarks along his chest. The next attack connects solidly. The big man tumbles backwards, and lands on his feet, lips drawn in a snarl as the monster gathers itself and approaches.

“You should not have interfered. Your friend is already defeated, and you cannot hope to win alone.”

Haka manages a grin. “Oh, I didn’t come alone.”

There is another flash of light – not flame this time, but a golden beam so bright that it almost turns white. It sears down from the sky and wipes through the monster, cutting half of its mass away in an instant, before winking out and giving way to the winged shape of Fanatic, smashing into the thing with a yell and a blazing sword.

For a moment the creature seems to consider its options, and a couple of half-hearted half-formed limbs raise themselves from the grass – then one is wiped out by a ball of fire, and the other scatters itself into the dirt.

From a host of tiny mouths, a whisper taunts the heroes as the monster flees: “Do not count this a victory. None can stand for long against the God Eater.”

Ra raises himself up, and the three heroes stand quietly in the empty graveyard, watching for the next attack. None comes. Finally they relax, lower their arms, and at once Ra’s body changes, switching from a godly form to that of a normal man. The mortal known as Dr. Blake Washington steps forward, wheezes a little, almost falls, and Haka catches his arm. He acknowledges the help with a grimace.

“Hmph. Well, perhaps you can be of some use in this fight after all. But I think what we need now is not muscle, but knowledge. We are going to have to visit my office."

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An academic’s office can tell you a lot about their personality. A selection of personal photographs might suggest friendliness, walls covered in nothing but diplomas could mean self-importance, perfectly tidy bookshelves may mean an obsessive concern with order or appearances. In that vein, this room suggests its occupant does not spend enough time here. The inbox is overflowing, with papers spilling out onto the rest of the desk – itself cluttered with textbooks, academic journals, and various folders full of goodness knows what. The shapes of the heaps indicate there might be a phone and a computer under there somewhere, but it’s difficult to be certain. The desk is the heart of the clutter, but it has long ago spread outwards, and the floor is a barely-navigable mess, even the bookshelves are colonised by unsigned forms and loose sheets of paper covered in densely handwritten text, those almost covering the disordered books that still remain.

In short, we can assume the owner of this office has priorities other than tidiness.

Heavy footsteps stamp their way up to the door, and it thumps open to admit Washington and his two escorts. He seems a little steadier now – if not quite back to his best – and moves directly to the desk and starts shuffling things around. “I know I saw it…the question is exactly when, and where…”

“You still haven’t told us why we’re here. You said something about a paper?”

Blake flicks an irritated look at Haka, but doesn’t give it voice. “Hmph. A record of a recent archaeological expedition. Something that creature said reminded me…”

There is a light knock at the door, and (since it has fallen slightly closed) someone pushes it open again. They reveal themselves as a slender young man wearing glasses, who is distracted by a pile of papers which look remarkably similar to those already awaiting the Dr. Washington’s attention. He clears his throat. “Doctor Washington? I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I was hoping I could get you to sign a few-” He looks up, and his voice cuts off abruptly, as three figures stare back at him. It is not clear, in that moment, which is the worst – the massive warrior with arms wider than an average man’s head, the avenging angel with the glowing-eyed glare, or the irritated academic, staring back from over a disarrayed pile of papers.

He swallows. “Perhaps I should come back later?”


A step or so backwards, then a thought seems to occur, and Washington holds up a hand. “Wait.”

Obediently, he stops.

“Before you go, remind me, where was that file from Everett Caul’s latest archaeological misadventure?”

The young man gestures at a thick manila folder in a stack of near-identical folders, and flees while the group’s collective gaze is momentarily drawn away. Blake’s, in fact, is comprehensively redirected, as he seizes the folder, drops it open, and his eyes flash. “Yes! Ah, I knew it sounded familiar.” He looks up, remembering his friends for a moment. “Caul is a decent archaeologist, mostly, but he has an interest in the more…occult side of things, and that tends to get him into trouble. Although it tends to be his employees and assistants who pay the price.” He flips a hand, dismissive. “Anyway. This was an investigation of a site associated with Atlantis, supposed to be a library, so Caul was anticipating all sorts of grimoires, perhaps even some magical artefacts…it turned out to be just a rich merchant’s house where he’d kept all sorts of scrolls and records. An enormous disappointment, no doubt.” Washington’s voice does not even attempt to disguise his enjoyment at the thought of his rival’s failure. “Still, there were a few things of some value, including…this.”

With a flourish, he produces a couple of sheets of paper covered in untranslated hieratic. “It’s fragmentary, but seems to be a record of certain events in Egypt, not far from the date it was written, although we haven’t yet determined when exactly that is…” He clears his throat. “The hateful being, one whose hunger will consume even gods, was then approached by Atum, who faced and destroyed it, burning away its flesh until nothing remained. When he departed, however, it rose again from a field of reeds, and began to march south. In its path it met Nekhbet and Wadjet, the guardians, who forbade it to continue its path through their lands. Their battle joined, and the goddesses were…destroyed…”

He lowers the scroll, stunned into silence, which stretches out until Haka finally breaks it: “I take it that is bad news?”

“The worst. The guardians are…extremely powerful. Neither one as strong as Ra individually, but together? A force to be reckoned with. And this thing, this ‘hateful being’ killed them both!”

Haka opens his mouth again, but whatever comforting words he might have spoken are cut off by a terrible scream. And then another, and more, a chorus, a cacophony.

The heroes don’t even glance at each other before they’re on the move.

They emerge into one of the university’s sprawling courtyards, where crowds of students are fleeing in panic, shrieking in terror as they run from the massive horror at its centre. The thing lashes out a wriggling limb and seizes the closest student, pulling him in close and raising him to its eye-height, which is now more than twice that of a human’s. The young man gets just a brief glimpse of the dreadful thing’s face before the last of his life-energy is drained away, and the thing drops his body to the ground like a discarded can of cola.

Ra screams a wordless warcry, and fire blasts out in an incandescent torrent, a blaze of crackling heat that scorches the grass and cracks the paving stones and burns straight through the monster. It reforms less than a second later, and this time light spears through it, burning away more of its maggot-flesh before it can escape again. Its third attempt is an attack, striking directly at the heroes, and it meets another golden-white beam of light that tosses aside the little it cannot burn.

Now the thing scatters, those little white worms hiding themselves in the grass and the cracks, fleeing the onslaught. Ra narrows his eyes. “Yes, run, hateful thing. Demon from the chaos beyond the world. But you cannot escape the wrath of Ra!” And the ground erupts in flame. Every trace of grass is burned away, an oak standing near one corner is turned to ash in moments…and every single worm still hiding in that courtyard goes with it, their bodies crisped and curled and annihilated as the raging god flings out an almost endless stream of flames, until at last he lets his hands fall.

There is silence, more or less. Students are still fleeing through the alleys around the courtyard, and a few remaining scraps of greenery are crackling, crumbling into embers, but other than those little noises, all is still.

And then they hear a chuckle.

It is small, soft, but unmistakable, and in an instinctive answer the heroes form up, circled and facing out. The laughter comes again, louder this time, loud enough that it is clearly not coming from within the courtyard. Ra and Fanatic, as one, take two steps in the direction of the sound – or rather, the direction they think it came from, which as it turns out, are almost exactly opposed. They stop, glare at each other, and point in opposite directions. “This way!”

Haka shakes his head. “Wait. The creature is clearly toying with us. It knows we are too strong together, so it’s trying to divide us. We cannot allow it to-”

“We must protect the innocent!” shouts Fanatic, and Ra nods sharply. “The students cannot have gotten far away. They are still in danger! If we need to split up to find this creature, then we split up!”

A noise comes from the alleyways – something that might be a strangled shriek – and the pair rush into their respective paths out of the courtyard.

The big man grumbles, “the two of you will be the death of me,” but he chooses another path and goes hunting.

Fanatic dives headlong down her chosen alleyway. She rushes around one corner, then another, her lips pulled into a snarl. The space is too tight to unfurl her wings, so she’s on foot, boots clattering on the paving stones. A few remaining students, confused or calmed or just out of breath, dodge out of her way, and she gives them as little attention as she can, none to spare on people who don’t need her help. Where is that creature hiding?

She hears it again – the laughter, not the scream – and turns, dashes towards it, and finds herself in a small, barren, dead-end alleyway.

Teeth gritted, she raises her sword and waits for the ambush, and when she hears a slimy slithering behind her she spins, blasting with one hand and swinging out with the other.

It isn’t enough.

Haka is not usually a hunter - as a rule, he prefers to let his enemies make the first move, and rely on his strength and vitality to keep him safe. But when innocent civilians are on the line, he finds himself pursuing his enemies wherever they might hide. As he does now.

He has opened his senses to the world, eyes searching and ears straining for any trace of the monster or its prey. There are still the echoes of students in panicked flight, but nothing that might suggest an immediate threat. He starts to wish he could step more quietly, to give him more opportunities to hear his awful quarry.

Then, from up ahead, a shout, and he’s moving before he can stop to think about it, sprinting on into the maze. He rounds a corner and crashes into something pale and sticky and wriggling. He slaps at his skin, but the things start biting him, and the bites sting, and what’s worse, it feels like he’s getting weaker with every one. Every swat pulverises a dozen of the verminous things, and still there are too many more, and…

it isn’t enough.

Ra stalks slowly. The twists and turns of this place are as familiar to him as his own home, but the presence of this enemy changes everything, and what should be comforting feels alien and hostile. He strains his senses, trying to pick up any trace of the monster, trying to track it down before it can kill again. Nothing, nothing but his own footsteps and the smell of ashes…and then a shriek from up ahead and he is running, out into a smaller courtyard between buildings where the thing stands, arms wide, dreadful face in a warped and wriggling smile.

“Found me at last, little god?”

He snarls and stretches out his hand, then from beside him comes a lashing arm that smacks into his chest and throws him back, off-balance and confused. Another strike comes too fast to avoid – but then, avoidance is not his preferred defence anyway. In an instant, his skin ignites, and though the monster’s attack lands, its strength is sapped, and he is grimly satisfied to see the wormy arm crisping in his flames.

The thing takes a moment to gather itself, giving Ra a chance to regain his balance and assess the situation. Before him, the monster stands, large and awful as ever, but now there are more – the one has become five. They must see something in his eyes, since they break into a sinister laugh. “Oh yes, little god, I am growing ever stronger. Eating your friends gave me more power than I could have hoped for!”

The words flood him with fear and anger – “Liar!” – and a vicious stream of fire surges forth, tearing one of the things almost to pieces in an instant. The other four lunge at him, dodging around his attack and swinging wide limbs in attack. He dodges what he can, lets a few of the others burn on impact, all the while blasting his fireballs at the wriggling masses. He hits again and again, but so do they, and it seems impossible, it ought to be impossible, but they are draining his strength away with every hit and he is losing. Once again, his flames are burning lower and lower, his attacks are weakening. One more kick hits his chest, burning with tiny acidic jaws, and the flames on his body, the flames that protect him from the monster’s teeth, the flames





He manages a single moment of stunned staring before the foremost monster grabs him by the throat, and now it’s draining him in deadly earnest.

With a slurping noise, the other bodies join it again, a single misshapen titan probably three times the height of an average person and more heavily built than a tank, and in its immense fist it holds his neck, dragging him back in the direction of the burned courtyard.

“I have dreamed of this reckoning for centuries, little fire god. Dreamed of finally taking revenge for all you and your people did to mine. Finally putting things right.”

Ra’s head swims, and his breath is laboured, but he has enough presence of mind to speak. “I don’t…understand. What…are you talking about? Don’t…know you.”

Its head cocks, and those eye sockets stare down thoughtfully.

“You do not, do you? Then let me enlighten you as to why you are dying.

We were not always as you see us now. Long ago, our people thrived. Our lands were fertile, our fields were lush, and we lived in peace. Simply, but we had all we needed. We were happy.” Its choral worm-voice cracks on that word, and it pauses before resuming. “We had been natural wanderers, slipping from one place to another as easily as thought, so we knew much about the worlds – and this little border-world better than most. Oh yes, we knew of you and your people, fire god, and we thought it best to avoid the petty squabbles of your kind. We kept ourselves to our place, and you to yours.”

His vision swims, and in the edges of his vision he sees a couple more monstrous forms dragging the bodies of his friends into the same courtyard. He sees Haka’s chest move a little, Fanatic’s wings flutter, but the relief that gives him is minimal.

“But it did not last forever. Evil came to our world, and evil corrupted it. Our crops rotted in the ground, our animals sickened and died, and we began to fall ourselves. Still we had hope. We had stayed in those lands because of their fruitfulness, but if they were no longer fruitful, we would be wanderers again.

We gathered what belongings we still had, and slipped from our world to this one, ready to search for new lands, but not prepared for what we found here. We found you. You and your little…pantheon. You had known what we faced. Your magicians had felt the evil that was consuming our world, and in response, what had you done? Nothing. You felt our suffering and did nothing. And when we came to this world seeking the same escape that you found here, you were not even kind enough to do nothing. No, you and your fellow gods barred our way, told us to return to our dying lands, and when some of us tried to escape, you slew them out of hand and had your magicians bind the rest of us, body and soul, to our corrupted and dying world. You left us there to die.”

The thing pauses, gazes grimly around the ruined courtyard. Clouds are gathering, and shadows roll over the char and ash. “And die we did. We sickened, we starved. One by one, all our people died, and every one of us died with a curse for the gods.

At last our world was silent in death. And that could have been the end of the tale, but you see, our souls had been bound to that place, so when our bodies died, our souls remained. A thousand, thousand ghosts, united in hate for the gods. In time, those souls drew together – from many souls, one being. And we grew strong.

Soon enough, we were strong enough to feel other worlds again. And what should we sense if not a great and growing hatred for the gods! In your little divisions and family feuds, you trampled the lives of your followers, and they learned to hate you for it. That rightful anger called to us. It drew us closer. We formed ourselves a body from the vermin that remained in the ashes of our world, and slipped once more from that place to this – no longer fleeing for our lives, no. We had not been a warlike people when you slaughtered us, when you sent us away to our deaths, but now you had united us. You had made us strong enough to hunt you down.”

Distant thunder rolls across the sky. The monster’s hand rests on his shoulder, an almost friendly gesture even as it drains more of his life away. “You created me, little god. In the arrogance of power, you created the God-Eater to oppose you. To destroy you. And now I fulfil that destiny.”

It reaches one immense hand to the sky and starts bringing it slowly down toward Ra’s face. Held in place, there is nowhere else he can look, so he has a perfect view of the few blue-white sparks that arc off that fist into the air. He realises what is happening just in time to squeeze his eyes closed, and the flash of lightning is so bright that it still burns a jagged line down his vision. His eyes open again just in time to see the second strike connect, blasting a crater into the thing’s back. It roars up at the sky, at the three figures floating down – one gold, one silver, and one crackling with that same blue-white lightning.

The God-Eater takes stock and glances back down at its prey. “More of your little friends? Hmph. Well, I suppose your death is postponed. But don’t worry, little god. I’ll be with you soon enough.” Another crack of lightning arcs down, and the monster scatters before it can hit, disappearing into the paving stones, into the ground, dissolving away once again.

Moments later, the three Prime Wardens land, and Tempest is the first to rush up to Ra, his black eyes scanning him for wounds. “Are you hurt?”

“A little drained. I will be fine, see to your friends.” The Argent Adept is already over with Haka and Fanatic, his pipes in hand, playing a stirring tune that winds itself through their veins and draws them back to consciousness. They slowly come around, and Fanatic starts to push herself upright. Captain Cosmic rushes over to try and push her back down – “Please, don’t get up just yet, you’ve been hurt.” – and fails completely, getting a silent glare for his trouble. He backs off a little, hands raised. “Um, of course, you know yourself best, and if you think you are well enough, then I-” he cuts himself off, taking a desperate gulp of air, and looking to Ra for any sort of rescue. “So, ah, what was that thing? And is it…gone, do you think?”

He shakes his head. “It calls itself the God-Eater, and I don’t believe it will stop until it destroys me, or vice versa.” A surly sigh. “It blames me for the death of its world. Perhaps rightly.”

“Ah.” The Captain clears his throat. “I…see.”

The Adept cocks his head, as if hearing distant music, and raises a hand, glowing with faint silver light. “Interesting. It has the feeling of dimensional magic, a persistent link to another world – although not a plane I’ve ever touched before.” His eyes narrow. “This might be connected to how it is using and storing the power it steals. Hmm.”

“Do you think you could track it?”

He thinks for a moment, and nods sharply. “I can. Its parts have gone in a thousand directions, but their signature is unique. Given time, I could find them all.”

“Good. As long as a single one is in our world, the monster will just keep reviving, killing, and coming for its revenge. I believe I will…" he clears his throat uncomfortably, "need some help. From all three of you.”

Tempest speaks up, a half-smile on their lips. “I take it you have some sort of plan, then?”

“I do. I’m going to give it just what it wants.” He grimaces. “I’m giving it a victim.”

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Ra stands on the rooftop and looks up at the sun. It is starting to fall to the horizon – not in danger of setting just yet, but closing the distance inexorably. He frowns. Nightfall means a drop in his power, and even if it is only a slight difference, with this enemy that might be enough to mean his defeat. It marks a hard deadline into the sky.

His sharp eyes focus in on a couple of points in the near distance, and he nods to himself. It’s time. He takes a deep breath.

“GOD-EATER!” His voice echoes off warehouses and through junkyards, made harsh against brick walls and abandoned scrap metal. “GOD-EATER, I KNOW YOU ARE LISTENING! COME TO ME!”

The echoes ripple out through the space, rebound and repeat and fall silent. The silent seconds stretch out, until he starts to worry that his taunts have failed him. He starts another deep breath – but wait. There it is. Through the quiet, a soft rustling that grows louder, metal clinking against metal as it is pushed aside, and all at once that susurrus is almost a roar as countless tiny worms join together, a form that becomes a mound that becomes a mountain, a manlike figure tall enough to tower above the god standing on the warehouse roof. It looks down at him and laughs.

“You asked for me, little god?”

Ra scowls up at his enemy. “I did.”

“You were bored of waiting to face justice?”

“Justice?” He sneers. “Hunting the innocent to feed your hunger for violence has nothing to do with justice. You don’t know the meaning of the word!”

It laughs again, nastier this time. “A murderous little tyrant dares to lecture on justice? You killed every last one of our people, remember. Killed them for the sake of your pride and fear.”

“Fine.” The god sets his jaw and raises his staff. “You want your revenge? Then fight me yourself. Don’t take your anger out on the mortals.”

“As you demand.”

One arm crashes down, and Ra throws himself out of the way as it smashes through the roof. A second blow takes out the wall of the warehouse, bricks smashing everywhere as the roof crumples inwards, forcing Ra to throw himself across to the next roof over. A desperate blast of fire boosts him in his arc and scorches the monster, but he has no time to get his balance back before another massive blow hits the roof of his new perch and crashes right through into the building’s interior.

(“You’re sure the place is abandoned?”

“Oh, yes, certainly. The whole site is tied up in a rather knotty property dispute, has been for almost a year now, and it’s costing the owners - well, I say owners-”

Haka had smiled as he cut across his colleague’s words: “I believe your ‘yes’ was sufficient, Hugh.”

"Right, of course. Well: yes.”)

Ra spins, striking out with a whip of flame that cracks across the monster’s face. The slash burns black across the thing from one eye down to the opposite cheek – and a moment later the mark is healed, boiled away in a writhe of fresh new bodies. The God-Eater laughs. “Pitiful! You are weak, little god! You have grown fat on worship and let your powers stagnate. More a god of candles than the sun!”

He wants to scoff, to tell the monster how little it knows him, but he is running again, and can’t spare the breath. An arm smacks down beside him, and he dodges the follow-up behind it, then spins and fires a stream as the thing lunges mouth-first, sending his attack right down its throat. The thing squeals and recoils, rearing up over him before crunching back down half-blind, annihilating the spot where Ra had been standing seconds before. He is up and running again, throwing himself across another gap onto the next building, a sturdy old factory building with hard edges and boarded-up windows, and throwing himself up a floor onto a higher part of the roof. Only then does he whirl to face the thing surging up to attack him.

A lick of flame blunts the front edge of the monstrous tide, but again the wound disappears in the flowing mass of slimy bodies, and the limb rushes up at him, leaving him scrambling aside. The edge of the attack clips his shoulder and sends him spinning, spiralling down from the roof and barely catching himself before the concrete.

He floats there, face a hand’s-breadth from the ground, and takes half a second to catch his breath, and the shadow of a cloud passes over him. Behind him is the sound of crumbling brick, and he rises, turns, seeing the God-Eater tower over him, its booming laugh echoing all around.

“I expected you to fail, little god, but not this badly! You have outdone yourself.”

Ra answers with a blast of flame which barely marks the monster’s chest, but at least wipes the smug expression from its face.

“Very well then. Since you seem so eager to die…” Both arms sweep forward, too wide to dodge around, too high to vault over, much too fast to escape. Ra murmurs something and closes his eyes a moment before impact. The surging sea of bodies closes over him, crashing into the wall behind him and smashing it to brick dust and shards of glass, and the bodies churn, countless dripping jaws seeking flesh and power to sate its endless hunger. The mass seethes…but it seems as if something is wrong. A look of confusion crosses the God-Eater’s massive face, and after a few more seconds it pulls its arms back to inspect its prey.

The ground is a crater, oozing with yellow-green bile and scattered with tiny pebbles that used to be solid concrete. Obviously, nothing mortal should have survived such a thing. And yet right in the centre is a figure, standing as confident and strong as one at the height of their strength. Golden knightly armour wraps his body, a golden helmet on his head and a bright shining khopesh in his right hand, balanced against the shining staff of Ra in his left fist.

The god grins up through his helmet’s visor and scoffs at his towering enemy. “You didn’t think I would be arrogant enough to come here without allies, did you?” And he laughs.

With a roar, the monster whirls, seeking out the little points where the other heroes hang in the air. His gaze finds the Adept, Tempest, and finally Captain Cosmic, his arm outstretched and shining with the same golden energy that makes up the god’s armour and weapon. It screams again in anger and hate, surging at the little mortal target, rushing over buildings as every step crushes walls and rooves, closing in, closing in –

And suddenly meeting resistance as out of nowhere a buffeting, whirling wind knocks it back. It hisses and tries again, and meets the same force, and now that it looks, it can see the little bits of dust and water caught up in the gusting wind, marking out a circular wall around the little industrial arena. The monster turns its face back to Ra, who is still standing in the same place, confidence in every line of his body.

“What are you going to do now, monster? You can’t touch me to drain my power, you can’t attack my friends, and there are no mortal victims here to feed you. You can’t even escape into the ground.” He swishes his blade through the air, and when he speaks his grin is audible. “Are you so eager to die?”

No snappy answers this time – the massive monster rushes at him like a freight train, absorbing blast after blast as it comes, worms crisping and falling away but doing little to diminish its strength, and the blow lands hard. It throws Ra up into the air, then another massive arm swings up and over and down, smashing him into the ground with a force that ought to be lethal. The fist recoils, revealing a blackened slash as Ra flourishes his sword, its edge glowing with sunfire.

(Later, Blake says: “You know, a khopesh is actually a little late for Ra, if you were aiming for thematic appropriateness.”

Hugh smiles and shrugs. “I also put you in mediaeval English armour. Call it artistic license.”)

Ra adjusts his stance and raises his weapon again, then charges forward with a jet of flame, carving a path through the thing and out the other side before hurling fire behind him and soaring into the air and away. There’s another groaning rumble behind him, but he makes sure to put a little more space between himself and the monster before landing and taking a look.

What he sees is not encouraging. The monster is hunched forwards, hands on the ground, mouth snarling, and as it groans and growls Ra can see its body bulging, uneven lumps rippling out of its flesh and it grows and grows, taller and taller, stronger and stronger. It stands slowly, steps forward, its massive footfalls cracking the concrete as it moves. Ra darts back from roof to roof as the thing sweeps forward with deceptive speed, pulverising all in its path. Ra sends a few blasts into it as it approaches, and still it grows, the fire disappearing in slimy whiteness. One more dash backwards – but the thing closes in, its hand sweeps out and seizes him in a massive fist and raises him to its face. Then it scoffs and slams him straight into the ground – once, twice, three times, each one strong enough to turn bones to powder. The indestructible armour protects his flesh, but even so he’s rattled and dazed. When the monster laughs again, it feels like the noise is coming from everywhere around him.

“Look at you. Even with your little friends, you had no chance against me.” It bends over him, smiling with a mouth wider than he is tall. “You’ve stopped me from getting at your flesh, but all you’ve done is made sure this hurts more. I’m going to crush you, little god, and if there’s any power left in your corpse when I’m done, I’ll satisfy myself with that.”

It raises a foot and stamps down, and again, and each blow pounds him further into the concrete. He pushes himself up and rolls out of the way, gets a few steps before massive fingers wrap around him and throw him across a ruined building, tumbling and skidding and rolling to a stop in the rubble. His vision blurs as he shakes his head, focusing in on the approaching monster, not knowing if he can survive another hit.

And distantly, over its shoulder, the Argent Adept catches his eye and nods. Just once.

The clouds part, the sun shines down through the dust and gloom, and he stands. Slowly, with flesh bruised and shining armour battered, he stands. And he smiles.

“Satisfy yourself, God-Eater? You will never be satisfied. You gorge yourself on power, monster, you take life and energy and corrupt it to serve yourself. But I am too much for you! Mine is the endless fire of the sun! You want to steal that power?” His hands ignite, and the smile is a vicious grin. “THEN TAKE IT ALL!”

The blaze that ushers forth now is nothing like those that have come before. Those were hot, they were strong, they were deadly, but they are nothing at all compared to this unspeakable torrent. The sun-god glows brighter and brighter as his endless power pours into the God-Eater. It still steps forward, closer, closer – but it stumbles. Something is wrong. It takes another step, but its legs are mismatched, its arms uneven, and the worms that turn to ash under the burning onslaught are no longer being replaced. It reaches out for its power, and finds nothing.

It is cut off. Weakening. Dying.

The thing screeches in hate and desperation, thrashing around, and too late it sees the trap – the magical circle glowing a faint silver, hidden underneath the whirling winds and keeping its power contained. No way out.

It screeches, thrashes, throws itself desperately at its enemy and meets a redoubling stream of blazing energy. Its body is flaking away, and still it pulls itself forwards, arm over arm, closing in as it loses mass to the flame. One arm comes loose from the body and a sweep of the flame finishes it, forcing the God-Eater to drag itself one-handed. Another sweep of flame, this time over its face, leaving it blackened and cracked, and still it comes. One last heave brings it almost in reach before its other arm dissolves, leaving just a disconnected head slumping almost at Ra’s feet.

It sneers. “This isn’t over!”

The answer is a blast of flame, washing over the head, tearing it apart, turning little bodies into dust and ash and blowing them away until at last, at last it finishes and there is nothing left.

Ra gives the ashes a cocky little smile. “It’s over.”

The three Prime Wardens float in and land, all of them staring at the mounds of monster ash. Captain Cosmic is the first to break the silence. “So it’s, ah, it’s dead?”

“I killed it.”

The Adept makes an uncertain noise. “Well, perhaps.” Ra scowls, and he clarifies. “Just before you finished it off, I thought I felt something – a little flare of energy. It might have been nothing, or maybe-“

“It was nothing,” says Ra, hard-edged. “The thing is dead.” And he stalks off.

“Well then!” The Captain claps his hand together. “I suppose we should check in on our comrades, and see how they are recovering. And then perhaps a drink?”

His friends nod agreement, and they take off into the air.

Somewhere outside of our universe there lies a dead world. It is a place of silence and emptiness and stillness where nothing moves.

Almost nothing.

In the dust writhes a creature, a ghost-monster, a hand-sized mass of wriggling worms. It can do nothing, but neither is it patient. It reaches its tendrils, searching desperately for any crack between the worlds, any way to reach its enemies. And it finds nothing.

The thing screams out, a chorus of tiny mouths joined in hate and rage: “Ra! I will find you, do you hear me? I will find you and I will destroy your whole world! Fear the return of the God-Eater!”

[Thanks for reading! If you liked this, let me know, and check out my other stories at Ao3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/SaneCharlie]

Read parts 1 and 2, will save part 3 for another day, but I saw the final line. All I can say is “Homebrew Villain Deck When?”

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