The two heavenly beings shot through the air like rounds from a Machina grav cannon. Most of the champions for each side had already left the Blood Arena, leaving the ordinary foot soldiers to reapply a vigorous coating of the location's namesake. It was an awe inspiring spectacle if one could ignore the screams of the dying...and the smell.
Luckily Saef wasn't just the egotistical scientific superstar he had once been. Battlefields no longer fazed him like they once had. Instead of yanking off his helmet and emptying his stomach the thaumaturge was setting another spell in motion. His sweeping hand sent an invisible current of energy at Lucifus, the channel momentarily humming like a high voltage wire as it enveloped the archangel. To any gifted with magical sight like Saef was, his companion and he were now cocooned in protective magic and connected be a cable of energy. Nothing would be touching them as long as his mana lasted.
His job done for the moment Saef scanned the battlefield around them. There was a Demon with an unusually strong aura in the ravine with them, a collection of foot soldiers from each side cutting their way through the local scorpion population...and another Machina drone who's movement's caught his eye. They were smooth and precise even a hyper-efficient member of the robot hordes. To say nothing of the fact that it went and vanished right before his eyes.
A helpful bit of text popped up on his HUD, his computer had also been tracking the drone and posited that this model also had stealth capabilities. Teleportation and high speed maneuvers normally resulted in large energy spikes. It's theory was reinforced moments later when a signal burst sang out from a course consistent with that of the vanished drone.
With a sigh, Saef began summoning orbs that floated around him. The small stars slowly forming a constellation around him as he streaked through the air.
"Careful." He called out to Lucifus. "We have a stealthed Machina drone around here somewhere."
The drone was fast, somehow managing to rip its sword free from the magic that had been anchored to it through the sheer velocity of its swing. It then ran back off into the battle instead of attempting another strike. Unfortunate, the drone would likely have to be dealt with at a later time.
For now Saef was free to help Lucifus. The Archangel had been busy dealing with something that gave off absolutely fascinating energy readings. The scientist in him had been dying to get a better look but well, he didn't want to actually die. Now that he had the time he could get a closer view of the temporal warping lasers that now hovered around Lucifus.
"Absolutely fascinating." He said as he closed in on the other champion, his jetpack engaged once again. He stopped outside what he generously assumed was the blast zone and cocked his head as he stared at the orbs for several moments. The energy flow was most impressive, and the way they just sat there without becoming undone and detonating just begged further study. He would have loved to meet the inventor.
He shook his head and clenched one fist before him. The orbs of temporally desynchronizing energy were abruptly encased in globes of golden light. Saef turned his hidden gaze to the Angel and spoke.
A grunt escaped the ascended human as a sword impacted the back of his shielded form. His sensors had not detected anything in that direction, which meant that whoever was attaching him had both extra sensory abilities and some sort of active stealth. The combination made a Machina drone or soldier the most likely culprit.
A glance over his shoulder as he continued to run confirmed his suspicions. A sleek and mechanical humanoid was striking at him with a laser edged blade. Thankfully none of the blows held as much power as they could have. Attacking from the rear may have gained the assassin the element of surprise but it was costing them in the long run. Saef was constantly in motion away from his new opponent, which meant that the sleek figure had to run to keep up. While he did stay in range it robbed him of the solid footing or relative momentum needed for a proper strike.
The Thaumaturge ignored the gradual drop in his shield's strength, using the time to adjust his barrier spell instead. A couple extra components was all that was needed before he released the spell. As Muramasa's next strike was about to take off another chunk of his shield a golden wall of energy appeared in its way. The laser edged weapon impacted the new barrier it bit into it, cutting partway through before stopping. Before the combat android could withdraw the weapon the barrier collapsed in on it. Shooting up the length of the blade towards the hand that wielded it.
The half shouted words came from a couple yards to Yue's left. Beryl stood with arms outstretched above her, her legs planted solidly against the raising wind. The other girl's face showed intense concentration as the otter faunus all but glared up at the dark sky above.
Rain hissed as it impacted the shining column of flame. First only the occasional drop, then more and more as they were supernaturally redirected. Beryl gritted her teeth as she reached out with her semblance. This was hard. she wasn't used to dealing with so many distinct pieces of water , nor could she effect it along the entire length of the beam.
So she chose a spot as high as she could reach and started concentrating water around it. Collecting globs of the liquid and then letting the beam boil it away in massive clouds of steam. Not too much at once or it could douse the fire. She couldn't be overly cautious either, as the wind of the monsoon was tearing away the steam as soon as it was made.
The end result was a bright glowing beam with a twisted and chaotic white cloud starting midway up that glowed with an internal light. Perhaps not Beryl's best work, but it was certainly noticeable. Even if the effort was likely to drain her aura almost completely.
Bullet-like seeds began to ping off his shields as Saef thundered on. Most of his attention was focused on the rather painful looking collection of lasers pointed his way. Still, the skeleton's attack was annoying and placed an unneeded drain on his suit.
A couple symbols arranged themselves in his head. It was a simple spell that barely took any time or effort to cast. To those watching a dense fog appeared to erupt into existence around the Thaumaturge, extending for about ten yards in every direction and traveling at the same speed and on the same course. It wasn't actual fog. Just light shaped to look as such. A simple application of power that would prevent anyone from seeing in through viaual or thermal means.
Of course the young woman before him probably had other means of seeing, the same as Saef did. So as her cannons glowed with rising power the Heavenly soldier changed direction slightly. Moving from his previous position in the cloud he hit the ground running, forming a proper barrier before him that was angled to deflect rather than stop incoming fire.
Soldiers from all sides were firing now, having used the brief pause to size up their opponents. Metal shrieked as Machina drones were torn apart by thorny vines and melted by abyssal darkness. Screams and cries echoed through the arena as Chen's attack also reached the Demonic lines. The Angelic side had fared well so far, protected by Deva's bodyguard. But now that battle was joined in full that lead wouldn't last long.
The now chaotic battlefield before him was a sight that was becoming disturbingly familiar to Saef. First on his home planet and now here. People fought, died and were revived just so they could fight and die some more. The conversation with the Stargazer hovered at the edges of his thoughts no matter how much he tried to push them away.
The youngest of the Heaven's present champions shook his head as he followed the rest of the group. This was going to require some serious contemplation in the near future if he wanted it to stop haunting him. Thankfully, the battlefield chose that moment to send a distraction his way. The Machina Demon was making a speedy beeline for the passage out of the arena.
The skeleton couldn't hope to stop four of the Nexus Heaven's champions. But he might be able to slow them down enough for the other power players on the field to catch up. Then it would dissolve into a bloody free-for-all. Bloody and unpleasant.
With a grunt Saef shot forward, calling over his shoulder as he dashed past the rest of the group.
"I'll make sure nobody can hold the pass against us."
His intentions communicated to his companions he activated his jetpack and roared ahead. Going low and fast to avoid Machina anti-air defences he shot towards the exit to the Blood Arena. Symbols flashed through his head for a split second as the Thaumaturge swept his scepter at the Demon he was racing.
A wide blade of white light shot forth from the glowing object of power. It swept on an intercept course, not with Bonesword, but rather with the vines upon which he rode.
The armored Thaumaturge came through the portal alone. Well, not totally alone. Warriors of the Nexus's Heavens came through around him. But he was lacking the troops that usually followed his personal command. His team was being reorganized once again. Set up more like a tactical strike force than a battlefield formation. The process was still ongoing, which meant he had to rely on local support this time.
He scanned the large arena as he summoned his tome. It appeared that all three factions had arrived in roughly the same place this time. The term bloodbath seemed like it could be a very literal reality in the near future. The skeleton demon he had fought along last time was here as well. New and high tech weapons adorning him. Combined with the fact that the Machina drones around him weren't trying to vaporize him pointed to some interesting conclusions.
A goddess stood a few yards away from Saef. Amaterasu if he remembered correctly. A champion of Heaven-no, he stopped himself. The Nexus's Heavens. His recent visit to Ciel had changed how he thought about this demiplane.
Regardless this was not the time for philosophy. Amaterasu was on his side in this battle and they would need teamwork to get through in one piece. He walked over to the stoic goddess, his boots scuffing faintly in the sand of the arena.
Just popping in to say that yes, I'm still interested. Minimum three days to a post is doable especially on Discord. Still need to read up on the relevant mechanics but I'll do that over the next few days.
Saef had to admit, this place was beautiful. Fields of lilies spread out to either side of the path he traversed. The light of the silver moon overhead caught on the white petals of the flowers and turned the entire field into a scene of natural wonder that took his breath away. It was a reassuring feeling, knowing that there were still things that could do that to him.
At the end of the path sat his destination. An unassuming looking observatory at the edge of a cliff. As the thaumaturge got closer he could make out mystical symbols carved or inlaid into the outer walls. The building possessed a definite Heavenly theme to it but for the most part it was just an observatory, much the same as those he might have found back home before the war.
It added to his ever increasing curiosity about the owner. Lots of people knew about her. She was even pretty popular with many of the younger angels and celestial beings. Not many of her fans seemed to actually know her though. The few older beings he could get to talk to him hinted that there was more to the Stargazer than met the eye but wouldn't say anything more on the subject. Turns out being an upstart human who used copious amounts of technology wasn't the best way to make friends with the brass in the exalted, gilded, and highly stagnant halls of Celestia.
All the hints and teasing bits of information had engaged his curiosity like a high powered electromagnet. He couldn't bear not knowing anything like this. Not even in the almost completely unknown universe of the Nexus. So here he was, without his armor and walking along a starlit path in search of answers.
His boots thumped softly on stone as he made his way up the stairs at the front of the building. At the top he paused a moment. This place shone with as much magic as any major location he'd seen thus far. Whoever Ciel was she was definitely more than a simple stargazer.
But you already knew that didn't you.
With a shake of his head he steeled his nerves and crossed the final few steps to the door of the observatory. Saef raised a hand and gave the fish shaped door knocker three solid thuds.
Saef did not grow up in the Nexus. Rather he was born on Dinas Affaraon, a technologically advanced world that was absorbed into the Nexus roughly a year ago. In that time it was subjected to a Demonic invasion that made the planet all but uninhabitable. The first ten months essentially one long list of military defeats and horrendous massacres the globe over.
When the war started Saef was one of the foremost scientists on the planet. He spent the first few months being shifted between a dozen different research projects, each one a hopeful new wonder weapon or defensive technology. That didn't mean he was safe of course. The front lines frequently collapsed without warning and he repeatedly had to help fight off Demonic infiltrators.
As the conflict went on he became less scientist and more soldier. The death of his family and many of his friends lighting a burning desire for revenge deep within him. Attrition makes for speedy promotions, and the death toll in this war was particularly steep. His knack for small unit tactics and the fact that he hadn't died yet quickly raised Saef to his current rank of Captain.
When Heaven sent an army ten months in the former scientist dove into the study of their magic like a man possessed. It was exceedingly effective against Demons, which made it the perfect tool for Saef. Even two months later when the invasions had been beat back and the portal to Hell closed it wasn't enough. When word spread that Heaven was recruiting Saef was one of the first to sign up.
Upon accepting Heaven's offer the new recruits from Dinas Affaraon underwent a transformation. Their bodies changed, becoming more idealized versions of themselves. Features became sharper and more defined. Muscles were denser and organs more robust.
They became superhuman. Many times stronger and faster than a normal person. The group could now take blows that would have most certainly killed them before. It would still hurt but they wouldn't be removed from the battle just because they caught a punch from the wrong demon.
A Glimpse of the Truth
When Saef ascended something unexpected happened. While cosmic energies swirled around him the former scientist, now soldier and thaumaturge caught a glimpse of something. For the barest of moments the very bones of the universe were layer bare to him. That glimpse changed him.
On the surface the only clue of his extra transformation is a head of permanently white hair. The real changes run much deeper though. When Saef looks at something or thinks of it he can't help but see how it works. Magical or scientific the mechanics are always laid bare.
It's not an instantaneous thing though. The more complicated a thing is the longer it takes him to figure it out. Nor does it allow him an automatic immunity to illusions. Any mental effects will still take place, he will simply be able to know that there is some sort of spellcraft taking place and eventually be able to puzzle through the mechanics of it.
While still young at the craft Saef has learned enough of the how's and why's to manipulate the mana and underlying principles of the holy spells taught to all the new warriors from his world.
Using those as a basis he has expanded his offensive repertoire immensely. He can now freely manipulate holy light in offensive and defensive manners as well as a variety of other spells generally associated with the angelic.
As a subset of this power Saef has learned how tonsee magical energy. It takes the form of different types of light, each type of magical energy looking like a different color and the strength of it measured by brightness.
Resistances & Immunities:
Demonic Energy: As a holy being Saef has an innate resistance to demonic energies. Unholy blows are softened and the effects of evil magic lessened.
Airborne Gasses and Agents: The filtration systems and purifying enchantments on his armor protect Saef from most tiny, floating, deadly things that might want to do him harm.
Light and Sound Dampening: His armor protect Saef from overwhelming levels of light and sound. It's not a full immunity, but his team's flashbangs aren't going to stun him.
Machina Weaponry: Since he came to the Nexus to fight Demons most of Saef's defenses are aimed at protecting him from that kind of attack. This means that attacks from Machina weaponry are particularly difficult for him to defend against.
Magical Energy: Since Saef has only recently gained magic he has not had the time to build up any real metaphysical muscle. As such the amount of energy he can summon is limited without his tome.
Doctorate level education in several fields, primarily in energy and particle physics.
A Glimpse of the Truth has only enhanced his already prodigious intellect. While not strictly speaking smarter, there aren't many fields of study he can't easily gain a work in knowledge of.
Weapons & Equipment:
Despite being a member of the armies of Heaven Saef and his comrades came from a highly technological world. Their weapons and equipment show that.
Hywelbane has two modes. The first takes the shape of a three foot long golden scepter with a white crystal at the end. Arcane runes run the length of the rod and the entire thing pulses with a soft white light.
In this form Hywelbane focuses and enhances Saef's power. Allowing him to perform greater feats of magic with more finesse.
When the second form is activated the scepter shortens to two feet. The extra material comes up to form a crosshilt and a blade the same color as the crystal extends.
The blade can be as long or as short as the wielder wishes it to be and is is made up of holy light. The sharpness of the blade depends on the abilities of the user. With Saef's skill at light magic the edge of Hywelbane can be measured in single digit photons.
Every good soldier needs a backup weapon and this is what most people used on Saef's home world.
A sleek looking silver pistol, the LSW-27 Saef carries has been extensively modified. Using some techniques that he only recently figured out the weapon has been converted into something truly magical. The power cell now feeds into a heavily rune inscribed crystal. Said crystal converts that energy into blasts of holy light capable of melting half a foot through solid stone.
The Duban is a suit of highly advanced power armor and a big part of why the people of Dinas Affaraon could fight demons at all. Now that Saef has ascended the strength and speed enhancements are less obvious but even so it is a highly useful set of equipment.
Metal/ceramic armor plating is augmented by holy barrier. While the shielding can take several hits it wasn't designed to withstand a sustained barrage. Instead the designers built it to survive short bursts of fire, after which they would start to recharge.
It's not an instantaneous charge. If all the capacitors are empty it can take up to a full minute to refill from the onboard reactor. A long time in a pitched battle.
An onboard sensor suite uses a wide variety of means to keep track of the user's surroundings. Not designed as a scout or full scanning platform the Duban's passive scanners can keep an accurate reading of the battlefield out to about two hundred and fifty meters.
That's not factoring in things like the binocular function on the helmet. It's an average of what the onboard computer can tell the user at any one moment.
Technological filtration systems and holy purification enchantments have been combined to create an extremely effective built in gas mask. The user can survive in just about any location with a theoretically breathable atmosphere. With a few modifications this includes underwater operations, even if said modifications require a properly equipped workshop to perform them.
Duban has two different types of comms. The first is your traditional radio. It's usually kept locked down when fighting Machina. The second is quantum entanglement. Each suit has a series of entangled particles linked to both fellow squad members and command.
Communication between those so linked is crystal clear and unhackable no matter how far apart they are. The downside is that it only extends to people with linked particle pairs.
The last major piece of the suits is the jetpack built into each one. Technically called Quantum Particle Propulsion Systems, most everyone just calls them jetpacks.
Since it uses newly created quantum particles for thrust the user never has to worry about running out of fuel. However the system is quite the power hog. Power has to be diverted to it when in full use leading to reduced sensor range or increased shield recharge time.
Knowledge Is Power
After many long hours spent with Librarian Si, the combination of magic and science that is "Knowledge Is Power" was crafted. Aside from the fact that it is double the size of a standard book the primary thing to catch an observer's eye is how white the thing is. The covers are made out of a nonmagnetic white metal alloy and the pages all look crisp and new. It's not completely white though. The name of the book is emblazoned on the front in letters that glow an electric blue and is surrounded in an intricate magical circle of similar luminescence.
Of course carrying such a large and heavy book at all times would be a major pain. To circumvent that a few extra features have been added. When not in use the tome is stored in a personal pocket dimension. Nothing else can enter the dimension either with the book or by itself.
When called upon "Knowledge Is Power" activates a combination of antigravity technology and levitation magic to hover in the air near its master. The tome moves according to Saef's thought but cannot go more than a couple yards away at any one time
In order to prevent a predicted increase in size and weight the two who made it pulled a little trick with the pages. When a reader is about halfway through pages that have already been read will start to vanish. As this happens new pages will appear under the yet to be read pile. It is essentially a never ending book.
Of course those are all ease of use side benefits. The real power of the book lies in the name. Everything that Saef considers useful information is automatically captured by the book. The book then turns that information into power. The more important or useful the information is the more more power the tome can draw from it. These facts are not consumed to create magical energy but rather they add to the book's capacity to generate mana.
TLDR: It's a magic floating book that acts as a secondary mana generator for Saef. The more interesting stuff he finds out the more power it can give him.
A sigh echoed through the metallic chamber. It wasn't a sigh of annoyance or exasperation. No, it was one of relief. The kind of sound a person makes when they just finished a difficult task and can let their mind and body relax.
In this case it was one Saef Harken relaxing as he leaned back against a nearby wall. An engraving tool lay near the newly completed magical circle in the floor. It was based off of the control circle he had used to restore Lumeria to its former glory. Once adjusted the powerful circle made an excellent addition to his new wizard tower.
Saef couldn't help smiling at the thought. He had a wizard tower now. Just the idea of it sent his boyhood fantasies of heroism and magic spinning through his head once more.
"You got that smile on your face again." Said a voice from the doorway."The one that means you're thinking about how awesome you are."
A tilt of his head brought the speaker into view. Tall, with pale skin and red hair. Emerald eyes sparkled with amusement from a face that bore the inhuman beauty of all who joined Heaven's armies. Aine Caldeon, his oldest still living friend and second in command of his personal squad.
"My new wizard tower is awesome, Aine." the thaumaturge shot back from his spot on the floor. He most certainly did not giggle at thought of all the stuff he could fill such a thing with. Certainly nothing more damaging to his manliness than a chuckle.
Aine rolled her eyes as she walked across the room towards him. She sat down next to him with an exasperated sigh. "Please tell me that you are at least going to put up some kind of self cleaning spell?" She stared at Saef as he opened his mouth and raised a finger, only to lower it and tilt his head with a thoughtful look on his face. "Seriously? That's it. I'm banning you from holding mission briefings in your 'wizard tower' until you at least get a roomba in here."
"Oh come on Aine!" Her Captain exclaimed. "I've got a holodeck all set up on the second floor. Think about how cool our briefings would be if you could actually touch the terrain holograms!"
"No" Came the answer, accompanied by a pale finger being shoved in his face. "I've seen what your lab looks like. We won't even be able to find the second floor without a guide."