Chapter 237 - Clint, the Unbreakable
Ace hated being weak.
He was meant to be strong. Trained to be strong. made to be strong.
If he was weak, there was no point in him even existing. He grunted as he drove his heels into the ground and then pushed his hands into the ceiling of flesh above him.
Using his tactile telekinesis, Ace extended the surface area his strength could interact with wide. A thin white sheet extended across the megaloptera's innards, and when Ace pushed, he pushed against this sheet, spreading out the force of his strength efficiently throughout.
Ace acted like a jack, prying open the megaloptera's guts to try and see where Tox was. He saw her then. She had shrunk into a tiny green puddle. Steam sizzled from her body, the intense heat of the megaloptera's innards evaporating her slowly but surely.
Tox had not been able to store enough slime within her to reach the megaloptera's vitals while weathering the heat. Or rather, she had, but she had not taken into account the fact that heat hurt her even more than before now.
"Come here," said Ace.
"Must eliminate target-," began Tox.
"Cut that crap and just get over here!" said Ace.
Ace held up the megaloptera's innards as Tox slithered towards him, snaking around his foot. "Requesting evacuation from these premises. Will formulate another method of attack once reaching safety."
"Yeah, yeah, you do that when you're bigger than a tennis ball." Ace quickly flew out, making sure to hold Tox close to him so that his telekinetic barrier could extend to her. "You're safe now. Mission's over."
"Mission…over? Huh? Already?" Tox said, her usual peppy tone of voice returning.
Outside, Ace looked down with surprise to see Clint waving up at him while knee deep in molten rock.
"You two kids get outta here!" shouted Clint. "You've shown me more than enough guts. I like it! Now let me handle the rest!"
"Wait, how are you alive?" wondered Ace, but he soon saw the answer.
Clint's whole body was covered in what looked like a layer of bubbly brown flesh. The intense heat of the air and the molten rock melted away at the flesh layers, but they regenerated as quickly as they were melted off.
In addition, the bubble structure created air pockets that diffused heat away from the brunt of Clint's flesh underneath, insulating him from the scorching environment.
Ace, of course, had no idea how any of this worked. He just saw bubble skin and figured it kept Clint alive. The mechanics of it did not concern him. He nodded to Clint and flew away, breaking past the tornado.
"Now I'm gettin' ramped up!" said Clint excitedly as he jumped into the hole that slime girl had made. The entrance was big enough even for him to stand in, speaking volumes to how deadly corrosive Tox's body was. "Hah, it really is true.
The newer generations jus' get stronger and stronger, don't they? I'm scared of what them two kids will be like when they reach their heights."
Clint grinned as he stepped deeper and deeper into the megaloptera. The innards were starting to recover more from Tox's poison, the healing factor kicking in at a pace that threatened to crush Clint with regrown flesh.
Clint just kept smiling as he let the flesh grow back all around him. Bright red light started to shine through his open smile and his eyes.
"Is she okay?" Aldrich asked Ace as he flew down in front of him. Stella followed close behind.
Ace held out his hand, and Tox pooled around his palm. A miniature version of her formed from the puddle, tiny enough to stand on Ace's hand.
"I'm perfectly fine, thank you very much," said Tox as she put her hands on her hips proudly. "I almost killed the thing, too, until it used that unfair heat attack."
"It really does take complete destruction to take you out, hm? How useful," said Aldrich analytically.
"I almost died and all you can think about is how useful I can be? How cold. But damn, you're good looking enough where I'm even starting to get into it," said Tox.
"Make no mistake, I wouldn't have let you die either way. If I had to, I would've made my way through that tornado myself to heal and retrieve you." Aldrich hovered a palm in front of Tox. His mist floated out from him, gathering around her.
The mist rapidly healed Tox, quickly building up her mass to her original size. She pooled down from Ace's hand and reformed back into her usual figure.
"Heheh, don't make me like you too much," said Tox. She turned back to the flaming tornado. "But anyways, think that crazy nomad can deal with that by himself?"
"I'm not sure. I want to know too," said Aldrich.
"Dude looked pretty confident when I was coming out," said Ace.
"He will," said Stella firmly.
"Hm?" asked Aldrich.
Stella crossed her arms and nodded. "I didn't know who Clint was cause when I was little, I was a nomad in the Forestlands, so I don't know much about the nomads here.
But even where I was from, he's famous.
Among nomads, he's a living legend.
People talked about a horned nomad so strong nothing could kill him.
Said he took down Lobo, one of the states' S-class heroes, in a fair fight. Tanked a villain's meteor attack that leveled a mountain to his face. Survived a variant explosion that blew up an entire city.
The Unbreakable, he was called. Champion of nomadic freedom that nobody, not the AA, not the Panopticon, not any villain, could take down.
Don't know how many of those tales are tall and which ones are real, but I'm pretty damn sure that's him."
At that moment, as if to prove Stella's point, a red light blinded everyone briefly. They all turned to the direction of the megaloptera. A pillar of red energy roared into the sky, completely breaking the tornado apart and utterly engulfing the megaloptera's giant size within.
There was no loud ensuing explosion or colossal shockwave. Instead, the pillar of energy rose up, reaching towards the skies, then faded back down without making much of a sound.
There was no more megaloptera left. Or not anything whole. Just several chunks of flesh and carapace that splattered down around a huge circular crater in a rain of biomass.
Aldrich wondered if there was anything left for him to raise.
Clint became visible from the sky, and he landed in front of Aldrich with an earth breaking crash and a wide grin. His skin was now completely normal and his muscles had shrunk back down to ordinary size. Well, as ordinary as possible considering how thickly built he was normally.
Clint raised most of the megaloptera's head high. "Hahah, I took the thing down! Managed to snag a trophy AND I got to see y'all got guts, too! Day don't get better than this."
Aldrich stared at the megaloptera's head. There was enough there to raise, most likely.
"Here, y'all deserve this!" Clint tossed the head towards Aldrich. He raised his arm and grabbed it by its exposed mandible.
"You're giving this to us?" Aldrich nodded. He was not about to complain. "I'll be sure to make good use of it."