"Enough talking," said Ace. "Your rambling hurts my ears."
He closed his fist even more, almost fully. The bunker rapidly crumpled in on itself. Several of the scientists, the ones standing at the edges of the bunker, were folded in as the walls and ceiling collapsed on top of them, reducing them to nothing but bloody pulp.
The remaining scientists, including Machine Mind, were now compacted tight. Several started to scream as their bones snapped under the pressure, but before long, but they only managed one scream before their breaths were crushed out of their chests.
"Shit. Guess talkin's over," Clint muttered. He clasped his palms together. A spiral pattern of red energy formed between them before firing as a high-speed projectile that distorted space as it flew.
Ace used his free hand as a shield to block the projectile. The energy began to warp his hand in its spiral pattern.
"A simple pattern. Easily reversed." Ace twisted his hand against the spiral. Blue threads sprung out from his hand, traveling up the spiral to hijack it, untwisting it before dissolving the projectile entirely.
Clint paused for a moment, unsure of what to do. He had been briefed that Ace had the ability to manipulate atomic structures. That meant that no matter how tough Clint was, no matter how sturdy of a shell he grew, he would still get unraveled like cheap cloth.
'I need to evolve a couple more times to resist somethin' like that, but I don't got that kinda time,' thought Clint. He leered at Ace, his jaw setting. 'But if Machine Mind's right and Ace's gone done lost his mind, it's gonna be up to me to put him down.
I gotta get in there now. I gotta start evolving now."
Clint prepared to dive in, draconic wings behind his back stretching. Ace took note of this and kept his hand in place as if to taunt Clint to come.
"Heh..." whispered Machine Mind, spending the last dregs of his energy to gaze up at his frankenstein's monster with twisted pride. "I will get to witness the end of the Unbreakable as well. I could not ask more from my death."
"This ends now." A voice echoed through the air, carried by chill winds that did not belong in a barren desert.
In the tense space between Clint and Ace, white light bloomed. From it emerged mist. Glowing green mist. And from that mist, a black armored man stepped out.
The atmosphere immediately stilled, the temperature dropping remarkably.
"What the hell!? What's kept ya from showin' up for so damn long, ya big bastard!?" said Clint, nodding at Thanatos with a barely concealed smile.
"Complications," was all Thanatos said. He hovered in the air, his cloak of stitched-together souls waving in the wind. He looked down at Ace, then at the annihilated labs. "I see that my absence has caused complications too."
Ace stared up at Thanatos with the same expressionless gaze he had chosen to don since awakening his latent powers. This time, however, he reacted offensively without being prompted for the first time, as if by sheer instinct.
Ace, or rather, the entity that he was becoming, recognized Thanatos as a threat to its existence. He shoved his free fist forward, sending out a gust of blue-tinted force.
Thanatos put his arm out as if he was holding a shield. Three massive ribs materialized before him, acting like a barricade that blocked the incoming torrent of power. The wave of energy streaked past Thanatos, hitting Clint and knocking him backward, out of sight.
The energy wave dimmed down, leaving Thanatos still there, albeit with cracks across his rib shield.
"Ah...there you are, Thanatos," said Machine Mind. He was now atop a pile of crushed metal and corpses. His body, too, was thoroughly mangled, but his head still jutted out intact from the pile, and so long as his head was intact, it seemed, he could maintain his consciousness. "I do not know what you did to Blackwater's students to maintain their loyalty, but it will not work here.
You are in the presence of power that is truly Outer. The power that I created with all my genius!"
"You could not control your creation, so now you are content with letting it rampage about?" said Thanatos. "How utterly pathetic."
Ace cocked back his fist again, ready to fire another blast of telekinetic force.
Thanatos raised his fist in the air and declared, "Take note. THIS is how you control."
A green outline shimmered around Ace's body. He closed his eyes, hard. When he opened them, they were no longer blue. They were white like they originally were, filled with the lonely sadness that they usually carried.
"What...happened here?" said Ace, looking down at his hands. The glowing blue energy visible from his heart and veins faded away bit by bit.
"I reset your mind is all I did," said Thanatos. "Leave. Join the others."
Ace weakly nodded, tired from exerting so much energy. He looked confused, but he knew better than to question Thanatos. He flew away, leaving Thanatos alone with Machine Mind in the ruins of the bunker.
"No! No! NO!" roared Machine Mind. "You would dare to ruin a perfect creation!? How!? What...what did you do!?"
"All I did was exert my right to lead my Legion," said Thanatos. The red eye dot of his helm looked unfeelingly down at Machine Mind. "A right you do not have."
Machine Mind, now reduced to a talking head, and Thanatos, in all his armored might, could not have been any different from each other if they tried.
Thanatos floated down, landing atop the containment chamber in the bunker. It alone had survived Ace's telekinetic crush, though barely. The glass was thoroughly cracked. The Blue Ring within had dimmed down, its halo structure fraying like worn cloth.
A warning screen flashed distorted across the cracked glass.
RING STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY: 1%
When Thanatos touched the chamber, an odd reaction occurred. The ring began to glow brightly again, rejuvenated somehow. It started to rotate rapidly, its structure vibrating before it sundered apart into countless little fragments that looked like floating blue fireflies.
The fragments funneled upwards, through the containment chamber, and into Thanatos.
Thanatos stared down at his hand. The ten-branched symbol lit up in reaction. One of the branches, previously a colorless white, was now filled in with solid blue, joining a green branch and a white one that had a cracked pattern across its length.
"It's over..." Machine Mind looked at the ring with wide eyes. "My research - it really was for nothing."
Thanatos did not answer, analyzing his hand.
"Shit, that blew me back a long ways." Clint reappeared, flying into view. He blinked when he saw there was no Ace. "Uh, guess ya fixed the whole situation then, huh?"
"I did," said Thanatos.
"Damn." Clint looked down at the annihilated bunker, then up at the equally annihilated rest of the labs. "I know ya wanted us to make some noise, break some stuff here and there, but I figure total destruction wasn't what you were gunnin' for, yeah?"
"No, but what's done is done," said Thanatos. "As for you, Machine Mind, you and your team are not done yet. You mentioned the Outer. I want answers.
Answers that you and your team will provide."please visit