Chapter 173:

Experimental Armor Mk.6

Mad God

"Please, punish me, my King!" Baagh said as he knelt before Harimau. He firmly believed that the reason why he was called back to him was because of the defeat he suffered and the constant attempts and subsequent failures at breaking the wolves' lines.

"Punish? No. I called you to reward you." Harimau said calmly.

"My… King?" He blinked his eyes, raising his head, completely surprised. Previously, he was ready to lose his own head. He expected shouting, but not this calm and almost kind voice coming from Harimau.

"Why would I punish my most loyal general? When even Sengge betrayed me!"

"He… he did what?" Baagh gawked, yet deep inside, glee quickly rushed through his veins.

"It does not matter. Not anymore. I'll go to the south with you, and we will kill every last one of them!"

"What about the wolves, my King?" He asked hurriedly.

"Let them revel in their illusion of victory. After presenting them with the heads that we are going to collect, it will be enough to turn their dreams into a nightmare!"

"Yes, my King!" He bowed his head with excitement.

"Come, follow me!" The Tiger King said as he stood up and led Baagh outside. In the back garden, he finally laid his eyes upon the 14-meter tall metal giant, which was Harimau's new 'toy.' It stood on two thick legs and had four arms, as wide as a human would be. The chest of it was wide open, looking like a barrel. Inside it, one could see a sarcophagus standing tall. The well-polished, metal body of the sarcophagus was covered with vein-like carvings, giving Baagh a weird, unnatural, and foreboding feeling.

"What… What is this monster?" He gawked at the sight. He could see his own reflection on the silver surface of the golem.

"It is a weapon." The Tiger King explained with a flat voice. "No… it is an instrument of death. Think of it as a suit of armor! You are going to wear it into battle, and then you are going to wield the same strength as me. Together, we are going to smash everything in our path!"

"The same power as yours, my King…" Baagh gulped, already salivating at the thought.

"Yes. Step into it, and after the battle, you are going to be my right-hand man, Baagh." He patted the back of him, and the saber-tooth tiger felt like butterflies were racing inside his stomach. He was giggling like a child as he climbed up, right into the giant machine's stomach, standing into the sarcophagus. "Good." Harimau smiled and spoke out a word, which nobody had heard on the surface of this land for two thousand years, in the old language of the House of Ein. "Activate."

The giant golem's chest quickly shut close, scaring them until now, happily giggling Baagh. His laughs immediately turned into screams. In the complete darkness, from the sarcophagus, small needles stabbed into his body, going deep, penetrating his sturdy bones, reaching the marrows with one stab. No matter how hard he tried to fight back, electric currents raced through his nervous system, taking control of every muscle inside of him, ending the agonizing screams not by choice but by force. Not that it mattered, as from the outside, nobody could hear anything at all. He was completely taken control of and could do nothing, just move his eyes in the complete darkness, under immense pain. He was unable to faint and could sense as life was constantly drawn out from his body by the machine.

Harimau just calmly watched as the iron giant slowly trembled, and bluish energy raced through its metallic body. They looked like veins in a human's body under strong light as on its featureless head, two bright blue 'eyes' appeared, and a synthetic voice spoke out in that same foreign language that Harimau could not understand.

"XA-6 fully operational. The energy source was detected, and the estimated battery life was 1 hour. Battle parameters: Insufficient Data. Warning: Energy source is unstable, battle potential is only at 60%."

"What the hell is it saying…" Harimau groaned, already throwing away the calm facade he tried to keep up. In reality, he was raging like a volcano, ready to blow his top. "Damned toothpick handed fuckers! They sent me an abomination that does not even speak the correct words, just gibberish! What was the order…?" He ground his teeth together. "Follow!" He spoke out the words he managed to memorize as the giant turned its head towards him.

"Subject: Demon. Designation: Vermin. Exterminating." It said, raising his hand, and then it stopped. "Secondary input command registered. Voice: Recognized as a designated, secondary input periphery. Initiating following procedures."

Harimau did not know what it was saying, but when he flew up, the thing that the dwarfs called a 'Combat Golem' quickly followed after it. It was glowing in a blue light, easily keeping up with Harimau's speed.

"Good! At least it works! They said I only have an hour before it expires… doesn't matter! It is enough. I'll kill everyone! I should've done this first. Fuck them! One tries to give a chance to others, and they are only good at screwing things up or betraying you! Best to do it by yourself. Next time, when I redo everything, there won't be diplomacy, only domination." He grinned with a crazed expression as he flew straight toward the south with all of his strength. "Hope you did not inherit that idiot's traits." He murmured as he looked back at his shoulder, watching the golem which was following him closely.

"Instructions unclear. Please repeat with the correct terminology."

"Damned machine…" Harimau snorted, trying not to think about anything and only let his blood rampage inside of his chest. He was not even trying to suppress it anymore. "I hope that bitch is there! I'll not even rape her! I am going to just tear her from limb to limb… Skin her and use her as decoration…"


In the south, Ren was just finishing speaking with Rumira. They were talking about how they were going to attack the Tiger King's villa and draw him away to the formation that Ren had finished setting up. She was already on her way from the foxes' village when Ren put away the voice transmission token. It was that moment when her body trembled on its own, and she snapped her head towards the north.

"Kang, evacuate everyone and protect the injured!" Ren ordered, flying up in the air with a stern voice. It was enough to show that something was coming towards them. Sengge and Tylvana also realized something was up, and Ariana hurriedly came out from her tent just to see two figures arriving from the north.

"Go. Kill everyone on the ground." Harimau said, watching Ren before him, but the golem did not move at all, making the Tiger King twitch his eyelids. He was feeling a stroke was getting way too close by now. "Attack." He said in the golem's language, and the machine plummeted to the ground like a meteor. "I'll let the machine kill your people, you… YOU are going to be dealt with by me!" He roared as his hands transformed into giant tiger claws.

"I'm not so sure about that," Ren replied as purple electricity flashed around her body, facing him without fear.

Below them, the golem crash landed, throwing rocks and pieces of the ground everywhere, towering above everybody, with its immense height. Its mechanic voice echoed chillingly as it looked at them.

"Targets identified. Commencing battle protocol." While this was happening, deep inside it, where Baagh was used as the battery for the machine, a different voice spoke up. "Initiate the 'Nihil' protocol. Authorization code: 419B-43P." When the voice finished, if he could, Baagh would have screamed out in pain as the needles started to drain his life away even faster. "Affirmative." replied the golem. "Deploying prototype weaponry, 10 minutes remaining until self-destruct."

It happened all in a few seconds as the giant raised its hand. It opened up where a human's palm should be, and red, hot fire blazed out, setting everything aflame.

"No, you won't!" Ariana shouted as from behind her, a huge, black wall appeared from the shadow that the golem was casting on them. It was rising to the skies, blocking the flames before it could torch the camp and the injured, who were being evacuated by Kang, Shaman, and the rest of their combat-ready forces.

Sengge's loud lion roar echoed out far and wide as he arrived next to the golem in the air, aiming a punch at its face, sending a deep, ringing sound in all directions when it landed. The metallic weapon only leaned to the side, standing on one leg, keeping its balance easily, and swatted Sengge with its other hand. It was like a human slapping at an annoying mosquito buzzing around its head.

"Are you alive?" Tylana asked as she arrived, watching Sengge climb out from the hole in the ground that he had left behind.

"Yes… it is as hard as a mountain… we need to stop it somehow!" He spat as he watched it rebalance itself, stopping the fiery attack.

"Deploying mechanism is ready. Initiating the Holy Fire protocol." The golem said, but only Ren and Shaman could understand its words. From its back, two slits opened up, and two familiar-looking tubes emerged, flipping over its shoulders. One was aiming at the crowd of demons while the other turned towards Sengge and Tylvana.

"Damn it!" Ariana cursed, clapping her hands together, and from under the golem's feet, giant, ink-like tentacles grew out, snaking up on its body. They were grabbing onto the tubes, twisting them away before they could shoot.

When finally firing, with a loud bang, the tubes end themselves cracked apart. The bullets flew out and exploded far away in the distance, raining greenish, burning slime onto the forest. Thankfully, nobody was under the two death clouds, releasing a sick-looking sea of fire below them.

"Keep it immobile!" Sengge roared, going for the leg of the golem, hitting it multiple times, but none of his fists left any dent on the shining, metallic surface.

Tylvana wasn't idle either. Ignoring her own pain, she was already climbing up the back of the golem, right where Ariana's tentacles were coiling around the weapons on its back. She cried out as her arms changed into that of a jaguar's claws, now mixed with patches of metal inside of them. She was bleeding everywhere, and every move was sending pain over her body. Yet she just endured it with gritted teeth. With one swipe, the first damage finally appeared on the body of the huge machine, a crack where the weapons were mounted onto it.

"Again!" Tylvana shouted to encourage herself, slashing continuously, finally weakening it enough that Ariana's tentacles could tear it off its shoulders.

"Flip it!" The roar of Kang arrived, who was rushing in, completely shrouded in his bone armor, joining in the fray after leaving the fleeing demons to Shaman.

He slammed into the golem's leg with an earth-shaking bang, grabbing into it with all of his strength. His fingers dented the surface of the golem's legs, even producing hair-thin cracks all around it. Sengge did the same to its other leg, and the two, roaring simultaneously, finally managed to lift it and flip the frightening weapon to its back like a turtle. Tylvana delivered a few more slashes before jumping off, rolling on the ground when landing, and watching as the machine fell backward. It was crushing the weakened second tube, breaking it off from its back after landing.

"I'll try to imprison it!" Ariana said as she floated a little higher up in the sky, focusing with a cold and serious look. Under the golem, a black void appeared, turning the ground into a sticky swamp.

From the blackness, painful, frightening roars echoed out, and deadly screams and agonizing whimpers traveled up to the surface, sending shivers down everybody's soul who heard it. True, demonic, dark claws and hands stretched out, grabbing onto the body of the golem, trying to hold it down as it was trying to stand back up.

As it was happening, far, far away, in a chamber, dozens of dwarfs in robes were watching the battle unfold on a projection, seeing it from the point of view of the golem's eyes. The head researcher, who was in their leaders' meeting before, smacked his lips, tapping on the table before him with his bony fingers.

"It is too cumbersome and slow. This type of golem can't be used on the front lines. Relegate it to artillery works and scale down the manufacturing output. Fast-moving enemies easily outmaneuver it when it switches to combat mode. Note that they should be accompanied and defended by infantry units at all times."

"Yes, Sir." A reply came from another short and scrawny-looking man, scribbling it down. He had four arms, each writing on separate papers, recording every data that their projection was showing them.

"Also…" Another female-sounding dwarf added. "There is a weak point where we attached the Boom Tubes. We need to switch to a different, more resistant material. It was too easily interfered with."

"That is only secondary. This unit should be providing bombardment from afar and not participating directly in battles. Still… note it down too. How's the energy consumption?"

"It drains the subject in the sarcophagus much more quickly than anticipated. Almost gone. Also… there is a strange interference with the souls that were bound to the operating matrix. I can't trace it to the origin, but it probably comes from the technique that the human female is using." The owner of the female voice sighed. "The self-destruct sequence is already underway. So it does not matter in the end."

"Good. Cut the feed; we need to get back to work!" The scientists' leader moaned, stretching like someone after a good day of work. As he was standing up, fixing his wrinkled robe, already not interested in the battle's outcome, he hummed happily, leaving the room.

Back on the battlefield, Ariana trembled as she felt something stirring inside the golem. It was as if trapped souls inside the metal body started to scream, rage, and whine, asking her for help. They were searching for somebody to free them from their sufferings. She heard not just Baagh's voice, asking for mercy and crying out just to please kill him, but a dozen other, unfamiliar voices begging her for release and salvation.

"Get away! Something is happening to it!" Ariana shouted to the rest, who hurriedly backed up from the golem. The silvery body started to change color as the veins all over it brightened up, turning red from blue.

Inside Ariana's mind, she could feel as trapped and chained up souls housed inside of the golem started to disintegrate and release violent energy that was pushing the machine towards an explosion. It was a dreadful and painful feeling, even though it was not happening to her. She felt every moment of desperation and fear from their powerlessness to stop it from happening, and those who were trapped inside could do nothing, just watch as their souls continued cracking and shattering.

"No… I won't let you!" She bit her lips, letting out every ounce of her strength.

“Let me… help…” An ancient voice brushed by her ear suddenly. Remembering what Ren told her, she knew who had woken up under the earth.

More and more tentacles stretched out from the void, finding cracks along the back of the golem, where the canons appeared, sneaking inside of its body. They did not search for weaknesses or try to disassemble them, but they went for the souls trapped inside the golem. When Ariana's black tendrils touched the multiple demonic cores embedded inside the metal frame, they started to absorb every one of them. Those tentacles were no longer under Ariana's control. Baagh's body by then was nothing more than a shriveled, dried corpse; his soul gladly embraced the tentacle, happy to be torn out from his wreck of a body and swallowed by it, welcoming the sweet release of the emptiness.

"Thank you…" Multiple voices echo inside Ariana's mind at that moment. She clearly felt that they preferred to be consumed rather than spend a moment more in their current, wretched existence. The golem started to change color once again. The redness started to fade away from its body. It was turning into nothing more but a lump of metal, lying on the ground, held down by black claws and hands, still refusing to release it.

She could not help but notice as tears were flowing from her eyes, her lips and hands trembling, while her own soul and body went through the emotions of those she freed from the golem. Finally, it lost every function, turning into nothing but a giant paperweight. The only thing that brought Ariana back to reality was a loud thundering boom right above her. In the sky, Ren's and Harimau's battle was still going on and rampaging like a thunderstorm.