ROUND THREE: SEMI FINAL ONE
Representing Great Britain, The Ministry of Space and the Tobacco industry...
With the aid of the finest British engineering and the utilisation of gravitationally sensitive cavorite from the remains of Project K, the Manatee is now an armoured titan with limited influence over the force of gravity itself.
1) Cavorite crystals in backpack and boots allow flight more controlled and steady than rocketry, as well as providing the manatee with a small but significant mental control of local gravitational forces.
2) Pneumatic armour forged in the finest foundries of Sheffield augments strength and provides immense protection.
3) An enlarged and reinforced saw spins with diamond teeth at unimaginable speeds, and a shoulder pad decorated with regimental insignia and kill markings.
4)A primitive gravity railgun shoots rods of Iridium at vast speed from frictionless barrels.
5) The manatee's helmet now has an external port for cigars.
Representing the Japanese Empire and the Martian Hegemony...
The Japanese have been talking to the Martians. We don't know what they bargained away in return, but it seems they have been given material and knowledge to rebuild steamcrab to truly unearthly standards. What little squelchy crab innards reside inside his shell are now cushioned and armed with a terrifyingly efficient Martian-design battle suit.
1) Full spectrum sensor capability, and a wicked sweet brass top hat.
2) Twin heat rays on ball turrets.
3) Embossed insignia of the Martian-Japanese alliance.
4) A compact and unknowably powerful reactor.
5) An advanced force translation engine allows hovering, brief flight and adherence to vertical surfaces, as well as partial force field protection against projectiles.
6) Trilaterally symettrical claws made from the same ultrahard, ultralight chitin as the crab's armour.
7) Fucking brass top hat.
The combatants are raised by pneumatic lift to the prow of the ship, and with a sincere bow between gentlemen, battle is joined. Heat rays dance across steel, and iridium rods are embedded deep in martian ceramic. As the sun begins to set, the two warriors close in a firestorm of nightmare ordnance, and steel meets steel. On the very precipice of one of mankind's greatest warships, the technologies of Mars and earth clash. Diamond teeth smash effortlessly through unearthly porcelain, and limbs fall like April snow. Manatee. Crab. Chainsaws. THE FUTURE.
Wounded and flooded with alien war chemicals, the crustacean that started life as an unknowing larva in four thousand feet of icy kamchatkan brine launches from the decking and takes to the air. The two warriors soar above the decks of the Red Brute and begin plowing each other with ranged weaponry: steel glows white with Martian heat induction tech, and Krustus' armour is battered by unrelenting railgun barrages. Commoners and aristocrats alike stare up in awe as their horrendous champions batter one another with unimaginable powers. The air hisses and crackles with displaced energies. The exchange of ranged weaponry can only continue for so long...
The warriors descend into one of the Brute's towering smokestacks, spewing gouts of violent energy all the way. The combatants soar down into the warship's infernal foundry decks, where molten metal boils in vats and the air is thick with sparks and smoke. Heat rays begin to boil manatee flesh inside thick armour, but still the Brit Veteran plows on towards his Eastern opponent...
Urchins cheer on from rusted gantries as the mechanised monsters trade blows and projectile fire in the hellish molten mists of the ship's bowels. In a landscape of boilers and vast crucibles, the two legendary figures smash each other with unknowable forces: it is barely possible to discern who is on the winning edge of the engagement...
With a burst of monstrous strength gifted by Martian engineering, Krustus grips a massive claw round his opponent's neck and thrusts him backwards into a torrent of molten lead. In the searing heat of liquid metal, the manatee's life support systems begin to cook off and his armour begins to fall apart. Taking a last drag on his cigar, the sea mammal seems resigned to a grim burning fate in the foundry vats...
As the last air in his helmet cooks under the intense heat of the boiling lead outside, Gravatee summons every inch of his mental resolve to activate the gravitational influence of his cavorite exoskeleton. With will born in fire and dying hopes, he twists the forces that hold our fragile world together and kicks the shit out of up until it is sideways.
The stalwart zoofighters slam sideways out of the ship through ten feet of British Navy Armour. Their bodies are smashed and their weapons systems fail as they emerge into the nauseous smog-choked glare of sunset over London. Streamers of lead fly behind them, and a thousand gentlemen stare on in sheer bafflement...
Dying sunlight glints off the ancient armour plating of the airborne battleship as the heroes twist in a plume of smoke and cooling lead. With the last of his strength, Gravatee powers the body of the crustacean sensation towards the stark edge of the hull once more to finish the fight...
On the wind-blasted hull of the Red Brute, a ruthless close combat commences. Martian alloy claws slice short the manatee's railgun barrel, but not before a diamond-toothed chainblade finds its way deep into the Japanese monstrosity's carapace, smashing away the much-lauded brass top hat. Crustacean synapses flicker and die as happens so often in French cook-pots, and the invertebrate's life ebbs irreversibly...
As Krustus' reactor overheats to within a few seconds of a catastophic explosion, his gentleman opponent shows mercy. Smashing an engine coolant pipe with his blade, the manatee unleashes a torrent of frozen gas onto his undersea opponent. Frozen under a sheet of air-condensed ice, Krustus feels once more the deep peace of his abyssal childhood and sinks gently into the cold, bottomless sleep. His engines are broken and his weapons are ruined, yet a spark of life reamins to die slowly in his thrice-augmented eyes. It is time to rest. He has fought well, yet his nipponese masters will surely carve his flesh up in remonstration of his failure and serve him at some state banquet in distant Tokyo. Such is the fate of the Empire's enemies. One more victory over space's terrible denizens for the lunar veteran.
I can feel a peaceful cold in my head. Tobacco sky sea-cow. No need to fight anymore; I remember the water. I can leave my hat on the ground. Give it to my friendly murderer. Clippers. Dapper. Gentleman.
That one stopped moving. He's dead inside and out, ready to be gutted and fed to Eastern men in Western garb. Funny talkers.
(Laughing shows me pictures. Got them from the orphans.)
The winner is different. Alive but hollow. He left his life on the big night light in the sky so long ago and he's afraid it's going to find him again and he'll have to answer for what he's done, so he tries to run away, but he can't go far enough. He runs out of earth to run on; water to swim in. Nothing has killed him yet. He's beginning to think that nothing can kill him and part of him likes that and part of him doesn't.
They call it resolve. He doesn't call it anything. He doesn't want to say that he's afraid.
Afraid of failure, afraid of death, afraid of living, afraid of going through it all again. Far back fear, too: men in uniform fishing him out of a net and taking him away from a kinder, simpler home. No more kelp. Can't be a sea-cow anymore. Kill for this country. Your waters are inky black and they float over the sky.
Smoke again. Time for more smoke from your cigars. Takes the edge off, doesn't it? Too bad dull blades tend to hurt worse once they're stuck inside you. I know.
Dance, Manatee. I want to dance. From Hell wants to dance. That priest is the end of the world on that ship over there but we can show you so many new worlds here, in the dark, under the molten lead. New worlds to see and feel and play in.
Then we can end them.
I'm tired. Laughing shows me these pictures and tells me these stories while he's working and that's nice of him but sometimes I just want to nap. It's getting harder to go to sleep, though, so now I just dream while I'm still awake. I'm restless and sick and woozy and sometimes when From Hell moves I throw up bile or blood but at least I have a family and a home, here.
Laughing says that the animals outside are fighting each other over who gets to come and play with me and From Hell. He called us the prettiest girl at the ball! Then he cackled for a whole dozen minutes! Laughing is so silly.