He did it. He burst through all resistance, shoved the King hard to the side, and came to Faxon A.
Joseph didn’t think anyone could concentrate like he was now. It involved dividing himself, cutting away extraneous material like a focused surgeon, and believing with all his heart that this was possible.
Finally he dragged the King into the cavern.
Though Joseph had already experienced the phase version of Faxon A, now it was different.
He wasn’t alone, see. Sally was there.
He might’ve been deep inside phase space, but he could still see her form. She was like a permanent pillar of blisteringly bright light. One that would shine right through the heart of the universe, no matter where you went and no matter how lost you became.
She was down on her knees, one hand on the back of her young self’s head.
Forest was there too. And inexplicably, she was infected with the Light of the Gods.
But they were observations that became irrelevant to Joseph as, in a blast, the King tried to rise up into him once more.
There would come a time when he couldn’t fight. When the King’s grasp would become far too greedy. That time came now. He tried to shove the King off, but he didn’t have the power.
Someone else did.
Sally roared, and she immediately and smoothly opened a gate.
He watched her enter that pillar of light and rise up into the same phase realm he was currently inhabiting.
He shoved a hand out to her just as the King charged over his chest. “Sally—”
“This fight is mine, Joseph. But you need to keep me safe from the phase monsters that are coming.”
Barely were the words out of her mouth when Joseph heard them. He saw them porting into existence, too. These chaotic, darting shapes at first that soon took on bodies and leaped toward them.
Sally batted several away with great blistering white psychic charges. It was clear she had no intention of wasting her energy on that aspect of the fight, though.
So she soon thrust forward.
With glowing psychic force, she grabbed Joseph, and she pulled him right out of the King’s deadly embrace. The psychic hive mind screamed. It was a horrifying, almost murderous sound. You could put the greatest, most powerful spark of light in front of it, and it would extinguish it with ease.
Joseph tumbled into Sally.
They had a moment to stare into each other’s eyes, a moment for tenderness to build within him – but no time for it to go anywhere.
Sally pulled him around. “There are future boxes in my ship. Port to them and gather them. Use the rest the Coalition has. Keep using them. You can deploy them in phase space, and they will assist you to fight the phase monsters. You have to get rid of the monsters, no matter what it takes.”
“Sally, you can’t take the King on on your own.”
She turned to him. Her eyes were luminescent. Her whole body was. And that pillar of light above her now shone so brightly, he was certain you’d be able to see it from other universes. Right now perhaps it was glowing through the entire multi-verse.
“Just go, Joseph. The time is now.”
It was hard as hell leaving Sally behind to fight the King, but he did it anyway.
He ported back into real space. There was Forest. Now he was here, it was damn clear she was infected by the Light of the Gods. But it was also just as obvious she didn’t have the time to explain.
“No time,” he stammered.
It was the only thing he could manage. He ported into the Xentai vessel. There were the future boxes. Sally had been busy. There were 15 of them. How she’d collected them in such a short time, he didn’t know.
He gathered them all together outside, and he waited.
Unlike everyone else here, he wasn’t flying blind. He could pierce through the levels of phase space to witness what was going on.
And he saw the moment Sally finally ported toward the King.
It was clear she wanted to push inside him but just as clear she couldn’t. So she got as close as she could. And she started to pit her mind against his.
It didn’t take long at all for these terrifying shakes to rip through the cavern. It felt as if they were concentrated earthquakes. Like this cavern had turned out to be an asteroid, and every single space rock in existence was throwing itself at this small, unsupported room.
The shakes couldn’t undermine everything, though. Only some of them were real. They traveled through some stones, only to move on by like an effortless breath. But they ripped right through others. Dust erupted everywhere.
The box of Hendari crystals was in the middle of the room, and Forest had somehow used it to create a shield. The force field pulsed, protecting the ceiling, ensuring it didn’t cave in on top of their heads.
There would come a time when that stopped, though.
Joseph heard the keening cries of phase monsters.
He clutched at one of the future boxes, opened it, and ported up a level of phase space. It was just as three monsters threw themselves at him.
Joseph might’ve been injured. He might’ve endured nonstop battles. Hell, he couldn’t even remember the last time he’d eaten, slept, or simply stood around and managed to catch his breath.
None of that mattered. Only fighting did.
With the help of the boxes, he took down the phase monsters. It wasn’t easy, and he churned through the boxes quickly. The monsters just kept coming. Who knew how many of them infected phase space? But it felt as if every single one attacked him now. As Joseph fought, he realigned to his Omega side far more strongly than he ever had before. For protecting phase space from monsters just like these had been one of his holy tasks – before the Hendari had come along.
Before everything had gone to hell.
As he fought, he kept yanking his head around, kept paying attention to Sally. She was now surrounded by the eddying waves of the King’s power. But she remained. And as long as she did, so too would he.