The Deviant

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There was a storm. The sky was full of clouds and with every second you could hear the scream of lightning echoing to the farthest part of the island. The sea lashed against the coast like an enraged beast; perhaps that was the clearest warning of what was coming from afar, that creature determined to devastate anything in its path. Soon it could be seen with the naked eye: its scales shone like the ghosts of the ships it had dragged to the sea, and its tentacles preceded it, only increasing the ominousness of the being, of that aquatic aberration, even more profane than all the others.

In another time, in another life, the Doom would have inevitably fallen upon the mythical land of Hy-Brasil. It would have been the unstoppable force, passing through forests and buildings as if they were mere toys. It would have been one of the greatest catastrophes in history. The home of the fairies would never have recovered, and millions would have lost their lives.

However, today was not that day.

Today was the day of legend, the moment when humanity would defy the tempest. It was the time when dozens of years of work would finally culminate. The efforts of those who had fallen in battle would receive their reward, and it would prove conclusively that nothing was in vain.

The island anxiously awaited the monster in the distance. It waited, ready to protect its vast wonders.

Because today was the day the goddamn Crocodilian Kraken was going to get punched in its fucking face.

The titan stared at the horizon. It was over one hundred meters tall and was the most glorious machine ever created by the Center. Hundreds of anomalies had been used for its invention, in addition to the thousands of people who supported the project, giving up sleep for weeks at a time in order to be ready when the moment arrived. To describe in detail the Last Pugilist was an impossible task: it was enough to mention its two colossal steel red boxing gloves, placed on each side of its body, as well as the gigantic white robe it wore on its body, which it would take off when its opponent appeared.

Dr. Mikasa Kaori was watching the dramatic scene from the palace of High King Nuada Airgetlám VII, where she had set up her operation post. It wasn't practical, actually. She had had to make many adjustments to the equipment and machinery to be able to monitor the fight from there; it was instead symbolic, for she knew that if the Deviant reached the castle, no matter what they did, all would be lost.

The Deviant. That's how Kaori referred to the demon. After spending her whole life studying the sea in search of ways to combat the Selachian threat, one thing had become clear to her: there were big things down below. Large animals, all allied with sharks and strong enough to send the human race back into the abyss. Initiating Project HOOK had not been easy, but it had been the right thing to do. When the Lookout Submarines had sighted the Deviant-Type Selachian Entity Number 0851, she had simply said:

"Let's punch the Deviant."

On the balcony, the rain drenched her completely, but she remained still, expectant. The magical protection had long since fallen, but fuck luck. They had fists, and that was all that mattered.

"Imminent contact, assuming position," Captain Perseus' voice sounded cold over the radio. Kaori knew he was afraid, even if he would never admit it. Up there, aboard the head of the Last Pugilist, Captain Perseus was gripped by a myriad of emotions, all logical and illogical at the same time. He felt fear and anger, excitement and panic, dread and bravery. He would never live another day like that.

A thunderclap above all others was heard as the sentry moved and dropped its pristine white coat over a forest, crushing countless trees like it was nothing. In perspective, this event had no relevance if one saw the enemy approaching, already a few miles from the coast. The Last Pugilist strode forward, first with short steps and then with great leaps that shook the whole island. Captain Perseus was heading towards the sea, to meet the Deviant as soon as it arrived and thus put an end to it as soon as possible. It seemed as if his heart was about to burst out of his chest at every moment.

Finally, the beast arrived. Four of its hideous arms clutched the earth relentlessly. It used its tentacles to straighten itself and stand upright in all its splendor. The Deviant let out the roar of a god, a sound such that many years later all the inhabitants of Hy-Brasil would still hear it in their nightmares.

A great stream of blue flames illuminated the sky, coming out of the mouth of hell itself.

"May our ancestors protect us," said High King Nuada, as he walked beside Dr. Kaori. "Tonight, Hy-Brasil will witness a mighty fight."

The first hit was an uppercut; Captain Perseus slammed the Deviant's mouth shut in mid-roar. Then the giant robot's left arm went for the creature's eyes, and then the creature received one more blow to the abdomen. The beast's limbs were too short to defend itself, but soon its tentacles began to do all the work. In mid-motion, the Deviant grabbed its adversary by the thorax, and then by its left forearm, only to pull it towards the sea.

"Kill that bastard!" Kaori shouted over the radio, feeling powerless before the scene in front of her.

"Negative," was the reply he received. "It's too strong, and it doesn't seem to want to let go despite the punches I'm—"

"I didn't ask you, you son of a bitch, it's a goddamn order!"

Perseus looked around. The monitors inside the cockpit harassed him with incessant warnings of danger, but he knew that amid all the noise and flashing lights there was a way to solve his problem. After what seemed like an eternity, he found it: a lever located to his right. He held it in his hand, but hesitated. Was he really forced to do this? Would he finally have to reduce himself to such a crass strategy? Was death better than betraying his most ancient principles?

"Forgive me, Dad." He muttered. "I know I'll disappoint you, but the world of sports always has to move on."

He pulled the lever.

Without any warning, the gleaming body of the Last Pugilist bent its knees and jumped. Its right leg traced a trajectory through the air and went crashing into the side of the Deviant's head, then contracted and landed back on the ground. Such a movement caused a devastating earthquake that trashed some nearby houses, but the Deviant stopped its advance, stunned. Perseus shouted with joy.

"Kickboxing, motherfucker!"

"That's it, goddammit!" High King Nuada punched the air, unable to contain his fervor.

The Last Pugilist landed another blow on the monster's jaws, breaking multiple fangs and finally getting it to let go. The Last Pugilist took a couple of steps back to keep its distance.

The beast released a flare of blue fire toward the robot's cockpit, who was barely able to shield itself from the attack. However, it served as a distraction for the subsequent onslaught made by the Deviant. Both titans fell to the ground in a nonsense of punches and tentacles. And suddenly, something happened that no one ever expected to happen. Dr. Kaori couldn't hold back a panicked scream as the Deviant flung out one of its limbs and stridently punched Perseus' cockpit.

"It-it's punching back!" The latter shouted over the radio while receiving more and more hits from the Deviant. "I-Impossible! It shouldn't…"

"Keep it together!" Kaori shouted back. "If that beast thinks it can land better punches than you, then show it otherwise."

"I can't! It's got me pinned to the ground! The arms can't raise high enough."

"Then… We'll have to use the projectile. Hold on a bit longer." Kaori turned to the High King. "Bring the projectile."

"Bring the projectile!" The High King ordered his guards, and they rushed off to somewhere on the lower floors. They soon returned with an extraordinary device.

It resembled some kind of giant crossbow, although without any mechanism to launch the projectile held in its upper part. In the lower part, a lever allowed to raise and lower the projectile itself, and another one to move it from right to left, so that it could be aimed at any desired target.

The projectile itself was a gigantic white shark, struggling to free itself. It was facing backwards, with its tail towards the balcony.

"Is this what you call Project 446, Dr. Kaori?" The High King asked.

"That's right. In the past, Operation Turnaround wasn't so extravagant, but we needed something to miss fewer shots."

"I understand. Aim for the monstrous behemoth!" The guards obeyed. "Now, if I may, Dr. Kaori, I would like to assist in saving my nation."

"Oh, I would be honored. My technique is a little rusty, anyway."

"Here I go, stand aside."

High King Nuada Airgetlám VII approached the device and, using all the strength he had within him, increased a thousandfold by the devotion he had for his endangered people, struck the shark in such a way that it turned around and went flying towards the Deviant at an immeasurable speed. The monster never saw it coming. It only felt it crash into its forehead and stun it again.

The Last Pugilist took advantage of the situation and got rid of that being with an accurate blow.

It was back on his feet and this time it was not willing to fall.

It moved quickly, so as not to allow the creature any attack. Captain Perseus unleashed his fury against the Deviant, landing punch after punch on its maw. With each impact, more and more blood spurted from its jaws, and more crunching sounds could be heard amidst the storm. The last hit was an uppercut, and the Crocodilian Kraken fell to the ground, dead.

The first beams of dawn fell on the island like a divine grace. The waters were beginning to calm down; now they only caressed the shore faintly with the movement of the tide. In the distance, seagulls could be heard, along with other fantastic creatures endemic to the forests of Hy-Brasil.

The metallic titan towered triumphantly into the sky. The corpse of the Deviant laid out before it, as proof of the fight that had just taken place. Perseus watched it from the cockpit, thoughtful. They would probably take it away to study it and improve the next model of the mecha. Some groups would probably steal what they could and try to make their own profit. Hy-Brasil would probably commemorate the day, have a party with him and Kaori, and then go back to normal life.

More Deviants would probably appear, ready to avenge their fallen brother.

Perseus knew that the war had only just begun. He would be ready. He would spend day and night in the simulators, trying to rectify the mistakes that almost cost him his life. He would improve. He would not allow anything to take over the surface.

At this time, however, he had won. The Last Pugilist had searched, punched and conquered. It had proven its undisputed superiority over the Selachians. He had faced the ocean itself and had prevailed.

The colossus raised both arms, like the letter v in the word victory.

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