Genovefa eclipses the entire sky, her planetary shadow stretching from alien horizon to alien horizon. And as the shadow expands, as she draws closer, the more astronomic damage her presence inflicts: the world under his feet, tumbling out of its orbit; its liquid core, kicked off rotational balance; its magnetic field, popping like a soap bubble. What little atmosphere it had sloughs off into black space.
Genovefa pushes tidal forces along the world’s surface, sliding miles of ancient ice toward him. Glaciers older than stars move for the first time in unknown millennia, a continent sized avalanche aimed right at him.
The wizard cups his hands to his mouth and breathes into them. He converts precious energy into base heat, compressing and squeezing it all in his grasp, thousands of degrees into a single tight ball. And just before the racing ice crashes onto him, he opens his hands and releases the heat out at it.
The burst of temperature burrows between frozen molecules. The rushing wave of ice shatters in a crushing concussion of steam and gas. Crashing pressures explodes outward, sending opaque vapours into space faster than the speed of sound.
“Szlippery, szlippery,” curved radio waves carry Genovefa’s voice, determined and a little desperate. “Iz thiZs what you’re reduced to? A cockroach, sZcurrying and hiding underneath the firmament? If make Uz chasZze after you, We will bring the heavenZz down upon you.”
The wizard uses the cover of the steam cloud to rocket up into space, arcing low and wide and up between both planets’ horizons… and burning light bombards him as soon as he’s clear of their silhouettes. Poison sunlight lances through unprotected skin, hot and sharp and ragged, like shifting splinters. He needs to get clear of the system’s sabotaged star!
He doesn’t get far before he feels a wave of distortion nips at his heels. Genovefa moves away from the drifting ice planet and starts after him. Her immense mass lets her twist spacetime, distorting electromagnetics and bending spectrums throughout the star system. Physical distances stretch away from him and contract around her as she kneads relativity to her advantage. He can’t tell how fast either of them are moving, if they’re moving at all, how close she’s getting… he can’t even tell where she is half the time.
He’s forced to keep near other celestial bodies in the system; anything enough mass to counteract the effect, to stabilize his perspective. He lets the next gravity well pull him in. A gargantuan gas giant, with reds and oranges and browns spinning around it in fat murky bands. A dozen or more small moons in tight familiar orbits; perhaps enough to cause his pursuer trouble, to get in her way. He approaches from the dark side of the giant and plunges in.
The cloudy atmosphere acts as a salve against his skin, immediately blunting the slashing edges of the sunlight. No time to enjoy the relief, though. Sinking deeper and downward, aimless, he turns his concentration inward and begins expelling the toxic sunlight. As much as possible, letting it bleed out as raw, violate energy. The hydrogen-rich atmosphere opens up in a firestorm, miles of lightning and fulmination trailing in his wake. Let it all burn; subtlety isn’t the concern. He needs this poison out.
He wishes for time for his wounds, but already, he senses Genovefa clawing at the gas giant, her gravity shredding the bigger planet’s skies out into empty space. Pulling apart atmosphere like threads in a sweater. Only moments before he loses any cover he still has.
He draws a breath and finds the Stringer’s power, stored and saved within him. There’s a hesitation… no matter the final circumstances, it remains the last echo of ancient kin. It deserves more respect than this. But its tightly-woven energy is the only untainted source he has available. He whispers a repentant formula, and absorbs the power.
Genovefa flings lightning from her own atmosphere into the gas giant’s rich skies, fanning existing fires into a final apocalypse. Multiple conflagrations scream around him. Red-orange flames turn blue-white, following windswept currents, racing down toward the core. The heat smothers the giant’s magnetic field; its last gasp of gravity won’t be long after it.
Fire is simplistic and malleable. Its one of the first forms of energy the Super Wizard race learns to manipulate. She knows this can’t hurt him, at least not physically. This giant dies only as a demonstration.
And outside it’s protection, Genovefa’s distortion effect overwhelms him again. Space-time dips as she weaponizes gravity, weaving new incongruous dimensions around both of them. “Are you the death We feared, the monsZzter that sZzplit a planet in two? Haz your bravery left you, now that you face a world that fightz back?” He struggles against the sudden fleeting definition of direction. He feels nauseous. He feels repulsed.
She’s doing this on purpose, forcing him back against the sword-point. Reluctantly, he orients himself with the only gravity well stronger than Genovefa’s: the system’s sun. He heads further in system, trying to keep to the shadows of inner-system worlds and their satellites.
He feels the fluctuation long before seeing it. One of the gas giant’s moons, tumbling right at him! And as he turns, he spots a second! Rolling through empty space, two massive fists on a collision course, with him between them!
He rockets directly at the closest of the two spheres, skimming alongs its lifeless surface, and uses its weak gravity to fling him around the other side. Just as he clears it, the two moons smash into each other! A flash of fury between them, a soundless shockwave of asteroid shrapnel, the two spheres obliterate each other.
Genovefa looms over him, dragging more of the giant’s stray moons in her orbit. With a small change of her orientation, she flings three more in at him.
He pushes out his limited energy reserves, covering as much distance as possible. He races toward the next closet planet, a solid rock covered in swathes of green and wispy silver clouds. The three projectiles speed toward him, their surfaces breaking away against the unnatural velocities. He waits until the last possible moment, then dives down into the new planet’s orbit. The moons’ have too much momentum for Genovefa to change their course. All three arc off the planet’s gravity well, and are flung past the planet, out into the endless void.
Down within the night-time side of the planet’s atmosphere, the wizard uses his energy to mask himself: bending light around his body, bursts of radiation as chaff, wide frequency wavelengths muddying his trail. He can guess what happens next, and he needs to obscure himself amongst the planet’s expansive face.
Genovefa brings another of her stolen moons to bear, slamming it down like a club! The world careens out of orbit. Its crust bursts, its mantle erupts, one of its continents instantly vaporizes. The moon splits with a single stunted shriek of chaotic fission.
…but the smaller debris bounces off, and floats back out into space. Though wounded, though crippled, the world’s substantially denser mass shakes off the cosmic impact.
The wizard lands as far from the devastation as he can get without crossing into the world’s twilight. From the ground, he can conserve his limited energy, letting the collision’s debris and fiery radiation mask him. The sky fills with dust and rock and magma and a mushroom cloud a million miles high.
And just on the other side, he can make out Genovefa’s immensity, her surface alight with anxiety. “How long will you prolong thiz? The cosmic tournament iz over, all pretenZsez have been disZcarded. You have outlived any usZefulnesZzz you might have ever wielded. You’ll szoon find you have few choicesZzs.”
The ground under the wizard’s feet shudders, the air thins and flattens. The titanic mushroom cloud roars with thunder and breaks apart.
In the dark sky behind it, Genovefa’s spherical shape expands… and unfolds.
Half her mass rolls away, tectonic plates rolling around the fat oblong shape in striped plates. The other, smaller half balloons out as rigid mantle bristles and spikes with molten force. Hexagonal continents roll out as segmented legs, reaching and grasping outward. Liquid oceans unfurl into cold space, freezing out as immense wings. Streams of honey-way roads and cables tattooed down her neck and along her colossal thorax, like architectural nerves the size of highways, leading to the golden cities bunched atop her head, forming a metropolitan crown.
“You need not zsee the dark dayz ahead. You need not sZzuffer to The End,” the empyrean beast buzzes. “Allow yoursZzelf thiz final mercy.”