|Mini-shout out to my friend from school, who I recently found out actually reads my blog. He's taking a holiday in America right now... you're too lucky, dammit ;)|
WOOOOOOT! Aren't you all so happy? I know I am.
This is my fiftieth post! Imagine that... Fifty posts ago, I was wondering what the hell all the ruckus was about; sure, I knew that there are small communities online, but I had never even hoped to be able to join one this cool.
So thankyou, everyone, for being so damn awesome. I hope for, at least, another two hundred posts here :D
You've all been so Epica. And now, because I love you all, I would like to present to you, the absolute FINAL PIECE OF MY FANFICTION! :OOOOOO
(It's not my fault the text is hi-lighted...)
In case you're still wondering what's been happening in my fanfiction so far...
(This has been copied from a previous response to Mar's question a while ago...)
SO! We start off with Israel, chilling at a bus stop interchange. He hears a scream and follows it to a bus that's parked close by, where a bus driver with sunglasses on is trying to subdue a scruffy-haired man. The bus driver ends up being Sanguine, who's out to get the scruffy haired man. Aquila Felis is aboard the bus and gives Israel a hand transporting the unconscious scruffy haired man to Israel's silver van. After driving for a while the man reveals himself to be a sorcerer by the name of Lewis Ryker, who's power allows him to boost the powers of others amazingly. The only problem is that he's a time bomb, ready to go off and cause every Mage around the world to release their power and cause a lot of general destruction. In other words, the world's in trouble.
At this point, Skulduggery's famous Bentley drives up and follows Israel's van. After a heated phone discussion in which Skulduggery tells Israel the intentions of the Sanctuary (they want to kill Ryker to stop the explosion), Israel decides to protect Ryker at all costs.
They escape the Sanctuary agents using a little trick, and meet in an unidentified forest with a large number of OC's. Israel asks for their help and they happily say yes, putting their differences aside to help Lewis not be killed.
Israel combines a bit of Lewis' power and his own to see the paths of the future that they can take, and is downhearted to find that every one of them ends in Lewis' time running out, and the 'bomb' going off. He doesn't tell the others, however, instead shares the future path that kept them all alive the longest.
This concludes the prologue, so the actual story can begin. In my story, because there was roughly 14 people all together, I modified the storyline to send half of them to Japan to look for a woman who could cancel out Ryker's powers, and the other half to protect Ryker at all costs.
So, the storyline of the group who go to Japan is basically:
1. Arrive in Japan
2. Jodi Harte betrays them, resulting in Bridget Whiplash's capture by Skulduggery, Valkyrie, and Fletcher
3. The rest of the group steal Ghastly's van and find an abandoned warehouse to sleep for the night, to contemplate their next move.
4. The warehouse gets attacked by Elite Cleavers, specially trained soldiers that are equal to the White Cleaver in skill.
5. After defeating the Cleavers, they pile into the stolen van and escape.
6. They mount an assault on the fortified castle that Ki-yoko (the Healer/woman/crone that can save Lewis) is being held at by the Sanctuary.
7. Jodi Harte returns, her mind made up on helping Kallista, Mary, Dragona, Skyril and Necros to save Lewis Ryker. But in a fight with a few heavily armed Cleavers, she is wounded.
8. They grab Ki-Yoko and run, using Dragona's Porsche to make an explosive exit.
9. They reach Ki-Yoko's very own cottage and rest their weary bones, letting Ki-yoko do her best to heal Jodi. But the Sanctuary are tired of them always escaping, and decide to launch a full scale attack on the cottage and it's residents with helicopters full of gun-wielding Cleavers (I've always wondered why Cleaver's never had guns...well, these one's sure do).
10. The story stops in mid fight, leaving the fate of those heroes unknown (for now).
So then, the storyline for the other group (Israel, Aquila, Skylara, Lewis, Sarthacus, Darkane, Nicolette) runs simultaneously, just they never left Ireland and are trying to protect Lewis (Remember?).
It goes as follows:
1. Israel is driving everyone (in his van) to his manor, Elysium Asylum, where he knows is an armory that will greatly help them survive until their friends arrive back from Japan with Ki-Yoko. They have a quick run in with some vampires sent by Dusk (It's not only the Sanctuary that wants Lewis; the 'Bad guys' want to use him to cause all sorts of havoc and mayhem) and after killing the undead beings horribly, they drive onwards to E.A. Thus begins the siege on Elysium Asylum.
2. It turns out that when Israel and his group announced themselves as outlaws to protect Ryker, the Sanctuary raided all of their homes in an effort to not help them. So they find E.A under the control of the Sanctuary, it's residents being rounded up and the manor being searched.
3. They run through the side forest on left of the manor, Sarthacus providing them with some cover with a heavy calibre sniper rifle. They fight some Cleavers, the lights get cut by Aquila and Skylara, and end up killing Echo, one of the first Cleavers ever trained (I like to think that they were trained rather than created).
4. They meet up with Skylara and Aquila around the back of the mansion, and a plan is formed. Skylara draws the Cleavers out of the mansion and fights them, while Nicolette, Aquila, Israel and Darkane sneak into the mansion's bar and light it up.
5. Meanwhile, in the makeshift pen area set up outside of the manor, guarded by Cleavers, Nyx is introduced. She had been sent to assassinate none other than Octaboona Ambrosius, but was interrupted when the Sanctuary broke in and arrested everyone. She spots her chance, however, as Octa is inside the fenced area as well. He stops her with his magically enhanced voice, and convinces her to work with them.
6. After Nyx unlocks everyone's handcuffs and helps formulate a plan to reach the armory and take back EA, they all set their plan into motion. Nyx is propelled by an elemental sorcerer into the air, intending to land on the roof of the mansion and sneak in. But the sorcerer is killed and she hurtles towards the ground, only to be saved by Octa at the last moment. They take out the guards, and Florence Black arrives at the scene with some armed mages by her side. The residents can tell that the armory has been cleared, but she tells them of another one.
7. Back with Israel and co., they meet Lucky Jack, E.A's gardener, and she leads them on to where the armory is. On the way, however, they are intercepted by Skylduggery Pleasant.
And...that's it. SO FAR ;D
But before I post the story, I would like to show you some guns. These are the weapons mentioned in the story, so if you're reading and you come across an AUG Steyr, and say, "The hell is that?" then you can just easily refer to here.
|Double Barrel Shotgun, sawn-off.|
|Dragon's Breath Shotgun rounds- Very, very powerful flamethrower like shells.|
|(Dragon's Breath rounds in action)|
|Steyr AUG A1 ( :OOO This is the standard issue Australian Defence Force assault rifle xD)|
|Micro Sub-Machine Gun (SMG) Uzi|
|Barret 50. Calibre Sniper Rifle|
|M60 Light Machine Gun (LMG)|
|Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher.|
|Berreta M9 Handgun. Commonly used inside the US Marine Corps.|
|Colt .45 Pistol, used commonly in the past World Wars. Was the US's standard pistol in the past (replaced by the M9)|
Also, when the line He took a long drag on the cigar, relishing in it. Then he spoke. is said, and the numbers start counting down, playing this song would be epic:
Of course, Israel then doesn't continue on with a huge song...
So now, we will continue. I advise, as this part is extremely long (17,000 words, 28 ordinary Word pages) to go and heat up several buckets of popcorn. This is going to be epic.
Skulduggery Pleasant looked down at the tangle of bodies on the stairs beneath him in mild interest.
"How the hell'd you get past all the Cleavers?" he asked chattily, as if he was asking about the weather or for two extra sugars in his tea. As he spoke, his head slowly followed the lopsided angle of the hat perched on top of him.
"I mean," he continued, his gun never wavering, "they have to be good for something, right? You'd think that the most skilled soldiers out there would at least be able to-"
A fist shot up, connecting with Skulduggery's gun and sending it high into the air. The moment it was hit, everything exploded into movement. Those on the stairs pushed and shoved each other to get to their feet. Skulduggery, however, calmly waited for them to reassert themselves and held out his hand. The revolved landed perfectly in it.
"Now, now," he said in what seemed to be a chiding tone. "Surely you didn't think that I would of shot you while you were all down, did you? Is that how you really think of me now?"
Nicolette, at the front of the group and facing down the barrel of Skulduggery's gun with all the courage she could muster, answered for all.
"Opinions change," came her reply through gritted teeth. "We just don't think so highly of you now after what we heard you and the Sanctuary are going to do to Ryker."
"And what if we weren't anymore?" Skulduggery said innocently, just to see.
Smiles all around. "Then we'd love you and always be your friend."
He sighed. "Damn. And you guys would've been such a laugh. Too bad Ryker still needs to die."
He fired the first shot at Nicolette's face. She saw it coming towards her, and it slowed down as if she had the power to slow time itself. But time hadn't stopped. It was running just fine.
The bullet came to a final rest two and a half centimetres away from her forehead. She barely suppressed a smile. "Seriously? That's the best you've got?"
"How?" Skulduggery said, more interested than alarmed or angry. "You're not an elemental..."
There was a faint blue glow around the bullet's golden edge as it slowly rotated in midair to face Skulduggery. Needless to say, if he had had eyebrows, they would've been raised.
"Biotics," Nicolette simply said, the smile breaking out all over her face. The bullet rammed itself into Skulduggery's shoulder, and as he stumbled, Nicollete surged forward. Her arms whipped faster than her friend's eyes could follow, and with each swing a small blade was driven into Skulduggery's bones.
He cried out in pain, aiming the iron sights on his revolver dead centre on her chest. But Nicolette's friends were on the second floor with her too now, and the revolver flew out of Skulduggery's hands before he could pull the trigger. It landed in Darkane's outstretched hand, where she expertly flipped out the chamber-holder and tipped the whole gun up-side down, emptying the bullets onto the floor. There was a tap on her shoulder, and she frowned turning around to be face to face with a spiky-haired teleporter.
"Hey, um," he began, scratching the back of his head, "can I have that?"
The absurdity of the moment almost compelled Darkane to hand it over. Almost.
Her arm snapped out, catching Fletcher Renn in the nose, milliseconds before he teleported to a safe distance. When he reappeared over by the railing behind Israel, Aquila, and Lucky, his hands were clutching his nose in pain. "Oh my God!" he exclaimed to a dark-haired girl walking up beside him. "She...she..." The dark-haired girl stepped past Fletcher, sparing less than a second to pat him on the shoulder. Fire sprung into Darkane's hand and the girl's face was illuminated; Valkyrie Cain.
There was a bellow and Israel charged towards Valkyrie and Fletcher, yelling "All of you, get the hell out of my house!"
Valkyrie side-stepped him easily and he rushed onwards to the stairs. Both of his hands shot out to grab the railing and stop himself from catapulting over the edge, but what he didn't remember was that his wrist still hurt, a lot, from when the Cleaver had broke it earlier. So he instantly recoiled and yelped in pain, hopping around in a small circle, clutching it.
Valkyrie ignored him, flame curling around her fists. She raised both arms at Darkane now, and was about to fire when there was the sound like a small animal in pain. She turned to Fletcher, who had both hands pressed onto his face. Every now and then he would pull it back and look at it, then press it to his face again, muttering to himself. He looked up and saw Valkyrie glaring, and with a quivering lip, held out both palms to her eyes for inspection. "Val, am I..." He checked his hands again. "Am I bleeding?"
She sighed. It was obviously not the first thing he had done today that had made her re-think being his girlfriend. She turned right back around, the words "Now where was I?" already coming out of her mouth, when she confronted by a growling fox. It lunged, and Valkyrie drew back her fist to punch it in mid-air, but the fox moved with surprisingly fast speed and sank its teeth into her arm before she could land the punch. She gritted her teeth and flung the fox to the side. It landed on all fours and instantly lunged once more. But Valkyrie was ready for it this time and raised her hand with the cold ring on it. Darkness shot out in daggers and spikes towards the Aquila-fox, embedding themselves in the floorboards and walls as she dodged them expertly. The fox's fur seemed to ripple as Aquila almost lost control of her form, and it was then that Valkyrie took proper aim and attacked.
The darkness pierced her side, and held the Aquila-fox suspended in the air for a moment. Valkyrie did no more, however, and threw the fox out of the battle. She landed heavily, transforming back into a human as she did so. The blood ran freely from the open wound just above Aquila's hip, coating the ground around her in red. Her eyes did not open.
Darkane looked up to face Valkyrie, and spotted the tiniest twinge of regret in the other girl's eyes. Then Valkyrie shook her head and it was gone, replaced with the usual cold that filled them.
It was just them now. Nicolette was busy battling it against Skulduggery behind her. Israel and Fletcher stood next to each other, wincing at their own pain. And Aquila's unmoving form lay on the floor. Darkane imagined her own fate if she did not win this fight; her own body lying on the floor, blood pouring from from twelve different gashes in her chest and back.
No. Her eyes refocused. She would win this fight.
She tucked the revolver into her belt, looking up just in time to see Valkyrie's hands tossing a fireball to each other. Darkane smiled at the other girl's foolishness. She thought tossing a fireball was good? That was nothing.
Darkane's hand moved and the fireball flung out of Valkyrie’s hand and landed somewhere downstairs. Valkyrie frowned, but didn't ask how. She just conjured up another one and threw it.
Darkane sidestepped, bringing up a fist full of flame and swinging it, creating a wave that Valkyrie dived under. When she came up out of her roll, she brought darkness with her, and it collided with Darkane's legs. But Darkane steadied herself and rose, higher and higher until she was near the supports of the next level. She gathered fire in both hands and then snapped them out straight, using them like twin flamethrowers at Valkyrie.
"Oh God!" Israel said, shaking his wrist to get the feeling back into it. "Could you possibly not light fire to everything in this mansion? I'd still like it after this, y'know!"
A flaming piece of debris landed near his boots. "Or whatever," he said, hopping away. "Whatever's cool with you guys is fine with me."
Valkyrie felt the moisture in the air and on the walls, despite the inferno that Darkane was cooking up. She raised both of her own hands at the figure floating above her, and drew in the water from all over the house, pulling it from as far away as possible, even from the clouds. She released it at the twin streams of flame.
Instantly the fire streams spluttered and went out, and the water pushed Darkane against the roof, stopping her from moving. She gasped for a breath but the constant stream of water was like a fire hose and she only received water instead of oxygen. She saw the edges of her vision start to darken. It was then that Lucky Jack stepped in.
A gardening trowel suddenly appeared in Valkyrie's thigh and she cried out, the water stream cutting off instantly. Darkane felt herself fall through the air, but was caught by Lucky. She lowered Darkane to the ground pulled out the small pickaxe strapped to her back, twirling it around her body with her right hand. Valkyrie, with one hand, controlled the air around her leg to cut off the circulation, rendering her leg numb. With her other hand, she called upon her necromancer powers and the darkness answered, swirling around her hand and finally solidifying into a thin blade that was almost as tall as herself. She knew how to wield it; her friend Tanith Low had seen to that.
Lucky sprinted forward, pulling back to swing for Valkyrie's head. She blocked the blow as best as you could block a pickaxe, and twisted her grip on the sword to stab it at Lucky's chest. But Jack simply pulled her arm to the left, intercepting the sword and snapping half of it off. The broken part disintegrated delicately into the air, the tiny pieces swirling around until they found their way back to Valkyrie's ring.
She stood there aghast, looking at the broken shadow sword in her hand. It couldn't be done. Nothing could break shadow. "How did you-" Valkyrie began, her mouth making a perfect 'O'.
"Luck," Jack said, and brought the hilt of her pickaxe down on Valkyrie's head, rendering her unconscious.
"Val!" Fletcher called out from beside Israel, no longer worrying if his own nose was bleeding or not. He appeared at Valkyrie's side in an instant, two fingers placed lightly over the spot on her neck where her pulse easily showed, just how he had been told to when he was back in school- that is, before he left it.
He sighed quietly to himself, and looked up at the battle-ready stance of Lucky Jack and Darkane Claw. "Don't even bother, ladies," he said, waving them off. "I'm done with this fight, don't worry."
He clasped Valkyrie's hand and they both disappeared. A moment later, he reappeared alone, arm outstretched to Skulduggery.
The skeleton paused for a moment, restlessly rolling his shoulders. The young girl who had once been known as Nicolette, a peaceful and loving person, had been disposed of as quickly as possible when the fight had begun. In her place stood a much more fierce and frightful girl, covered with cuts and bruises, a throwing knife in each hand. She grinned maniacally at her skinless opponent, no-where near ready to give up. The opponent in question shook his head at Fletcher's offer to retreat. "I'm not done here," Skulduggery explained.
By now, Israel had stopped shaking his hand in pain. He walked with Darkane and Jack to stand in a circle around Skulduggery. Israel cracked his knuckles as well as he could under the circumstances to try and scare the skeleton off. It worked.
"On second thoughts..." Skulduggery said, weighing the odds inside his head if he was to face not just Nicolette, but Israel, Darkane and Jack too. "Yeah...I'm going to go with retreat. This time."
Fletcher grabbed his bony arm, and they were whisked away. Everyone seemed to relax just a bit more, happy to have passed one more obstacle unscathed.
Then they remembered Aquila.
Their feet thudded on the wooden floor as they rushed to her form on the ground. Israel slowly reached out to her, fear slowly creeping upon his face. He rolled her body over and he didn't think she was breathing because-
Aquila coughed again, and there was a cheer from someone, and Israel smiled and pulled her arm up over his shoulders. "Come on," he said, supporting her weight as they walked towards the next door. "Don't die on us now."
All of the rooms they had walked through so far had been dark save for a couple of emergency lights for them to see by. The room they entered next was nothing like this. It was completely devoid of light. Only the tiniest slivers showed from the moon outside, creeping through the centimetre-wide gaps the curtains made. The group paused at the door, everyone straining their eyes to see in the darkness. Everyone except Israel, whose eyes were fixed shut.
He took a step forward, bringing Aquila with him. "Follow me," he said to the others.
"There are other's in here," Darkane whispered with her palm raised. She lowered it and pulled out one of her blades. "Cleavers."
"Trust me," Israel said, walking confidently forward. The others exchanged quick glances, and then fell into step behind him. Five metres into the room, and a Cleaver detached himself from the darkness on the right and swung his scythe.
Israel didn't flinch. The scythe didn't even complete its full cycle, instead only reaching halfway before window shattered and the Cleave clutched its chest in pain. He fell to his knees, and then collapsed on the floor.
Everyone stood stunned. Israel and Aquila kept walking.
"What the hell was th-" Darkane began, and then another Cleaver lowered himself from the roof and attacked. The next window exploded inwards and they heard it this time, a short whistle and then a sharp ping of metal as the Cleaver's head whipped around and his body followed suit to the floor.
"Is that..." Nicolette frowned. "Sniper fire?"
Sarthacus grinned, pulled back the bolt of his Barret .50 Cal, and took aim through the thermal scope once more.
"Duck!" Israel suddenly called out, and everyone hit the floor. He pulled Aquila down with them into a crouch, and she cried out in pain. "Sorry!" He shouted over the sound of Cleaver's dying by Sarthacus' terrific aiming. The moment there was a lull; he got to his feet and motioned for the others to follow. He reached the safety of the next door, and pulled his shotgun out.
He pulled the trigger and the door broke apart into splinters glowing with blue energy. He pulled the trigger once more at the armed agent standing just outside there, and within the half second interval between the buckshot flying towards him and the blue wave exiting the barrel, he re-aimed the gun at the three Cleavers approaching from the next room. The energy knocked them off their feet and sent them spiraling into unconsciousness.
"Toldya to trust me," Israel said under his breath, leading them to the hallway where his room was. They reached his room and his hand froze on the doorknob.
"Hello," said a voice from behind them all. "Didn't expect to see you here."
No-one turned around. Nicolette read the air currents with her hand, and swore quietly. There were a lot of others in the hallway.
"Well," Israel said, "It is my room. And my house. And my estate." He hesitated. "Florence?"
"How many people know?"
They turned, and were brought face to face with people they all knew, people who were their friends and their roommates, people who they had shared meals and known for years on end.
Florence Black stood at the head of them, Octaboona Ambrosius on her right, Nyx Dawn on her left. Behind them, the rest of the residents of EA stood with smiles and arms outstretched.
Florence gestured to them all, her shoulders sagging. "Everyone here."
Israel sighed. "Fine." He cleared his throat. "Hey! How are you all?" He waited for the reply of hearty affirmatives, and received none. "Oh...um...good? Ok. Well...as you now all know, thanks to Flo...there's an armory in my room. But because of this, after all of this mess is sorted, I will be moving it to another hidden place, so please, don't try to break into my room looking for weapons."
Heads nodded. He continued. "Alright! If you haven't already heard, a lot of my friends and I am on the run for supporting a man named Lewis Ryker." He closed his eyes for a split second, and then opened them up again. "My God, Ryker, for the love of all that is- Why the hell did you leave the van!?"
Lewis stepped forward sheepishly from behind Octaboona. "Sorry... Don't worry though, no-one saw me! I met up with this lot ten minutes ago. It's an interesting story, actua-"
"Yeah, I know all about it," Israel said, tapping his head. "Stay in the van next time though. We can't protect you if you're running off all the time." He sighed. "Let's just go in, shall we?"
He opened the door and the master bedroom that had once been his mortal parents' was suddenly filled with people casually chatting and shoving each other and knocking over all his things.
"People!" Israel called out, "Hey! Shut it! Cleavers could be hear any moment, 'k?"
The ruckus died down and Israel nodded as he made his way to the huge desk that had been his father's own. "That's better."
His fingers ran along the underside of the edging of the work table, and a neatly crafted section of the table pressed inwards, moved aside, and produced a red button, all to the awe of those watching. The button beeped once and an LED inside it glowed, covering his palm with red light. He pressed down on it and held his thumb there for a single second. Then the wall behind him shifted and slid away to reveal Israel's private armory.
Silence. Stunned silence at the collection, no, hoard, of weapons, armour and crate upon crate of liquor, strapped to the ground.
"Afraid someone's going to somehow get into this room and walk past all of the weapons just to get to some liquor?" A girl asked, falling into step beside Israel.
He smiled at her. "Mar Chu, how nice of you to join us. But no, the straps aren't for that." He pulled a remote out of his pocket. "The straps are for this..."
Suddenly, the ground underneath the crates creaked, and then started rotating, turning the crates of drink upside-down. On the flipside of the floor that was now showing rested even more weapons, each fasted to the shelf they sat on. Another press of a button and the fastenings disappeared.
"Oh," Mar said, examining the weapons there. She picked up a small Ak-74u and loaded it. "Nice."
"Nice indeed," Israel called over his shoulder, supporting Aquila to an area near the back of the secret room. There, he lowered her into a bath, clothes and all, and turned the tap. Out of it gushed not water, but a bright green liquid, that kept filling the bath tub until it submerged her head completely. "Kenspeckle," he said without looking back at the questioning assassin behind him. "He gave this ingenious healing station to me a while back and no-" He chuckled "-it ain't just Mountain Dew I drowned her with."
He filled the hand basin with the same magically enhanced liquid, and dipped his wrist in it gingerly. As he let loose an almighty sigh, he half turned his head to face her. "Hiya, Nyx Dawn. Strange day?"
"Even stranger," she said, eying the wicked blades hanging on the walls beside her. "I read your file. Having a power like yours doesn't mean you should use it for idle conversation, you know."
"I know. It's a nuisance, I swear." He removed his arm from the liquid and gave it a quick shake to get the feeling back into it. Satisfied, he turned his full attention to Nyx.
"You heard what the residents are planning to do?" Nyx asked.
"Take back the manor, right? Well, I was actually hoping that you'd be able to help them out with that. They could use a helping hand."
She shrugged. "Depends. Although I guess I really don't have a choice, do I? You already know whether I will help. So, what does it say?"
Israel made a show of closing his eyes and reading the future. "Future says you won't."
Nyx scoffed. "Well I ain't a pawn to no-one, including fate!" Her hands found the comfortable grip of an RPG-7, and she hoisted the large rocket launcher onto her shoulder. "Let's do this!"
"That's the spirit," Israel said, and pointed behind her. "Rockets are up the front, straight past the M4's."
He leant against the wall, observing the crowd of friends practically ransacking his entire armory. He sighed. They all would owe him so much for this...
Darkane walked up, pulling out Skulduggery's revolver from her belt. She was happy with the gun; the skeleton had an excellent view when it came to sidearms.
"Really?" She asked Israel, transferring the bullets from a small ammo box she had found into the gun's separate chambers. "Reverse psychology? That's...that's kinda low, Israel..."
He quickly changed the subject. "After we're stocked up and ready to fight, I think we'll leave the capture of EA to the residents. They can handle it just fine."
She raised an eyebrow but replied nonetheless. "What about Lewis? Wouldn't it be easier to have more people to protect him?"
"The Sanctuary'll always have more reinforcements. If we stay as a small group then we'll have a better chance of staying hidden. I think we'll even ask Lucky to stay back."
"Sounds good. I'll spread the news."
"Cheers," Israel said as she walked away. He turned around to see Aquila standing in the bathtub, her clothes soaked to a greenish color. Her face was determined and angrily glaring at Israel. "Oh, hey, don't look at me. If you want to get dry, talk to an elemental."
He hurriedly jogged off to the other side of the room, weaving through the group of armed people around him. He slowed down as he approached the wall of assault rifles above him, and reached as high as he could to pull down a green Steyr AUG A1.
His hands found several ammo clips in the box at his feet, and he slipped them into his jacket pockets. He took one of them out and loaded it into the rifle, flicking the safety off and fiddling with the telescopic scope. The shoulder strap was already fitted out for him, and he slung it over his right shoulder, only to look up and find the entire room had gone silent.
Israel frowned. "What? Hello? Guys-"
"Shut up!" Someone hissed at him, and he clamped his lips together. Now that everything was silent though, he could hear something...
"Cleavers!" a resident whispered beside him, pointing to the door of Israel's room. It shook slightly.
He didn't say anything. He just walked through the secret entrance and pressed a second button under his desk.
There was a psshh sound, and three small cylinders detached themselves from the bottom of the desk and started emitting huge, billowing clouds of artificial smoke.
Then the table slowly split apart, and a sleek looking piece of machinery raised itself from the depths under Israel's desk.
There was a small whirring sound, now, as six drawn-together gun barrels started to spin very, very fast.
Peter Osbourne did not like his recently appointed job. It required hard work. It needed leadership. Physical effort. He was a babysitter.
But the Cleavers he was looking after were almost an endangered species following the events of the last few years. Ever since the skeleton detective had gotten a new partner, he grumbled quietly to himself.
So he couldn't just ditch them, in case they happened to get themselves killed and it was blamed on Peter. And even worse, they might get killed and he might go down with them. He shuddered. Getting killed next to insects was not his idea of a good death.
His sub-mission, as it were, was to sweep-and-clear the rooms of Elysium Asylum, looking for the elusive residents. They had escaped the compound the Sanctuary had set up out front, and now he and his squad of thirty-two Cleavers had been sent in to eliminate the enemy. Too bad for them, he thought, as he approached the door of Israel Elysium's room, pistol raised. He twisted the doorknob, and wasn't surprised to find that it was locked. He motioned to two of the Cleavers to open it, and stood to the side of the doorway, trying to avoid the stares of the other thirty Cleavers who filled the hallway. He motioned for the ones with guns to flick the safeties off, and did so for his own weapon.
It was three seconds before the two Cleavers knocked down the door that Peter noticed some sort of smoke seeping from underneath it. He thought nothing of it then, but it all made perfect sense when the door was finally knocked down and all they could see was smoke.
"What the hell?" Peter said, peering around the door frame to get a better look at the room.
One of the Cleavers started to put away his weapon, but Peter raised his hand to stop him. He could hear a strange whirring sound...
The minigun fired, there was a pain in Peter's left arm, and six Cleavers fell dead straight away. Peter was dragged to the ground by a Cleaver, and told to stay there. Then he watched as the Cleaver was violently ripped apart by the machine gun fire.
The remaining Cleavers hit the floor and the minigun tore holes right through the wall above them. Peter could hear nothing but the constant cha-cha-cha-cha of the gun as it killed more of his workforce. He rolled onto his stomach and painfully started crawling back down the hallway, leaving the Cleavers behind.
As said earlier, Peter did not like his job.
Florence Black laughed maniacally from the controls of the Gatling Minigun protruding from Israel's desk. No-one could hear her mad cackling over the noise that the minigun made, but it was probably best that way. She swung it side to side, tearing down the walls of Israel's room and revealing the Cleavers; much like an exterminator getting rid of pesky termites.
Then the sound of the minigun cut out, replaced with an ominous clacking sound. The four barrels slowly came to a stop, and Florence's laugh did too as there was now nothing to support her madness.
"Uh...Hey, um, Israel?" she called out over her shoulder.
"Yeah?" came the reply from inside the armory.
"How much ammo did you have for this?"
There was a pause. "I guess I never really thought about how fast it would fire..." Israel said weakly.
Florence turned back to the front of the room, and saw multiple Cleavers regrouping and raising their weapons. Before someone gave the order to attack, she unlimbered the M60 LMG she had found in Israel's armory and fired from her hip, spraying bullets all over the place. None of them found their mark, but the firing gave the rest of the residents the time to move forward.
She stopped firing and lowered the M60 to the ground, unholstering a compact sub-machine gun and walking forward as she pulled the trigger, aiming down the sights this time. The residents charged forward as well, the worst of the gun wielders among them firing at random places, the best taking their time and picking their targets.
Others came, unsheathing their swords and brandishing axes, meeting the Cleaver's scythes head on. Nyx Dawn stood back to back with Lucky Jack, a pistol in one of her hands and a samurai sword in the other, both items from the armory. Lucky had with her a simple garden rake, and she brandished it with such ferocity that only the best Cleavers decided to attack her.
After what seemed like forever, the last Cleaver fell to the feet of Lewis Ryker, and he stared at it, disgusted and yet intrigued.
"Nice shot," Israel said to Skylara Wolfbane, who had just walked in. He reloaded his AUG and she regarded him with raised eyebrows.
"What, no 'Hello, how're you doing, did you survive being a human distraction for me?'"
Israel shrugged. "Well, you did just ask all the questions just now...so I really don't have to repeat them..."
"Whatever." Skylara turned to Florence, the now appointed leader. "There are a lot more Cleavers coming. If you want to take back EA, I suggest you find somewhere to set up."
"Agreed," Florence said, and lead the residents out. Israel nodded at them as they passed. He hoped he would see them all again after this thing was over.
So the momentary silence filled the room. Israel turned and looked over his group once more. Darkane, sharpening her dual blades on a bright blue stone in the corner of the armoury. Skylara, expertly arranging a quiver full of explosive crossbow bolts, much like a flower arranger would a boutique of roses. Aquila, rubbing a towel on her garments and struggling to rid them of the vile green healing liquid that had saved her life. Nicolette, emerging from a labyrinth of shelves carrying a Micro Uzi in each hand and a belt full of throwing knives wrapped around her waist.
And Lewis. Lewis sat in the corner on a short bench, an M9 Berretta handgun sitting awkwardly in his hands. His eyes were closed and he was whispering quietly to himself when Israel approached.
"You praying to the gun or to God?" Israel said, smiling as he sat next to him on the seat.
Lewis gave a weak smile back. "Might as well pray to both."
"Good tactic." Silence filled the room, save for the sounds of weapons being readied by the other four.
"I guess this is the part of the story where I tell you," Lewis began, "all about the family I used to have, or the life that was turned upside-down when my power got out of control." He scratched his head and shrugged. "It's weird...it's as if someone is controlling me to not sound to clichéd or something..."
Israel shook his head, rising. "Yeah, weird..."
He motioned for Lewis to follow him. "Come on," he said, and emptied the contents of a strange mug sitting on his desk straight into his coat pocket. He picked up a small leather belt of special shotgun rounds, ten in total, and slung it over his left shoulder. "Let's get out of here."
Act 2- Better go re-heat that popcorn I told you to bring…
Israel knew where to go. He knew exactly what to do. He knew how it all ended, ever since way back in the forest when Lewis had boosted his power. He knew that every time, despite whatever he tried to do to escape it, he would die. Lewis would die. The world would end.
He had chosen the path, that day, that would ensure that they lived the longest in any of the futures, but it wasn't enough. It was today. He still knew. He also-
"-WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, NO TIME FOR LOS-"
Israel yanked the wheel sharply to the left, narrowly missing an SUV. He had forgotten about his gung-ho and obviously slightly drunk, friends.
"'COS WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS..." There was a pause, and inside everyone's head the two drum strokes played out; dun dun, "...OF THE WORLD!"
"Hey!" Israel called over his shoulder. "Keep it down, alright? We haven't exactly won this thing, you know..."
The singing drifted off, and there was a toast of some sort from his friends. Better let Lewis just have a good time while he can, Israel thought. You should be having a good time too... His thoughts protested, but he shook them away.
He thought briefly about telling his friends. Telling them that they had been the best damn colleagues he had ever worked with. Telling them that he was glad that he had been able to spend time with them. Telling them that both he and Lewis would not make it through the next few hours.
He dismissed it. That would only make it worse. He had seen that path, and it only made them all get brutally killed in an insane car accident a few seconds after they protested. He had to die. That was the only path that ensured no-one else would die. So he had to give his life at the hands of the Sanctuary.
But he would give them hell first.
Israel drove to the middle of the city, thankful for the empty streets. The message had been repeated all over the radio, something about a bomb threat and the city needing to evacuate. Israel chuckled; the Sanctuary obviously had a seer and had seen the outcome of this fight. A bomb threat indeed...
Nicolette leant forward to talk to Israel. "So where are we going, anyway? A safe house? Some top-secret machine that will find any Cleavers near us?"
The van parked near a normal, middle-class office skyscraper. Nicolette frowned up at it, disappointed.
"Nope," Israel replied, running a hand across the dashboard one last time. He un-hooked the simple wooden cross necklace that hung around the review mirror and put it around his neck, tightening the thin piece of leather. "This place is as good as any other." He undid his seatbelt, and looked back at the waiting faces. "And also- there's no need to go looking for Cleavers. They've already found us."
And with that, he opened the door and stepped out, making his way around to the back of the van. He opened it, waited for everyone to file out before opening the black box. He reached inside and pulled out a simple metal suitcase, patting it and holding it in his left hand. He fixed the strap for his AUG and motioned for the others to quickly walk away. Just as they reached the front door of the office building, a missile streaked from somewhere down the street and collided with the Ford Transit 260 SWB, blowing it up to a thousand burning pieces. His friends looked back at his prize and beauty's flaming wreckage with looks of utter shock on their faces. Israel didn't turn around; he had known it would happen and it didn't matter, anyway.
He opened the glass doors and held them for his stunned companions. "Come on," he said, his voice lacking the emotion it should have had.
The Cleaver that sat behind the front desk in front of them lifted his head and sat up. He made no attempt to get out of his seat and apprehend them, and they kept on walking until they reached the elevator. When they got inside, Israel hit the button for the top floor.
"Why didn't we stop him? That Cleaver's going to call for backup straight away!" Darkane said furiously to Israel.
"I told you," he replied, loading two explosive rounds into his shotgun and clicking the latch into place. "The Cleavers already know we're here." He sighed and said in a voice so quiet that Darkane barely managed to hear; "It's all set in stone, anyway."
Then he lowered the chrome briefcase to the ground, muttering to himself and gripping his AUG. He leant forward and hit the emergency stop, causing the lift to come screeching to a halt. His shotgun came up and he blasted the grate above him, and then climbed out on top of the lift and into the dark area above. He holstered the shotgun and brought around his AUG, pulled the trigger and sprayed bullets all over the elevator shaft. Bombs, placed at strategic points above him and triggered by sensors, exploded and rained metal fragments down onto him. An important looking metal cable beside him snapped and the elevator dropped a foot. Israel leant down into the elevator, offering his hand and a stone cold expression to his friends inside. One by one he helped them out to stand next to him in the darkness.
"You know," Israel said conversationally. "I've always wanted to do that thing from the Matrix. Y'know, where they shoot one of the elevator cables and rocket up to the top floor?"
"It was fake, Israel. And we don't have any special cables, anyway. We're going to have to use magic."
Darkane raised her hands by her sides, preparing to lift them all. As the air whirled around them and they started to hover slightly off the top of the elevator, Israel raised his hand to stop Darkane from lifting them any further, a huge grin on his face. He mouthed the words 'Please?' and Darkane rolled her eyes. "Fine," she replied. But make it quick."
Israel's grin stretched larger and he pulled out an M1911 Colt .45 handgun, aiming at a random cable attached to the elevator. He put on an American accent, mimicking as best he could the exact line and action from the movie. "There is no spoon," he said, and fired the shot.
The elevator plummeted to the bottom of the shaft beneath them, and Darkane rolled her eyes once more and used her magic to start raising them upwards.
They reached the top floor and Darkane stopped them ascending there, making them all hover just in front of the doors to the top floor.
"Alright," Israel said, "This is it. They put all the Cleavers up on this floor because they know we're coming up here." He put the M1911 in one of his many pockets, swung the AUG onto his back, and held on tightly to the briefcase with his left hand. His right hand pulled out his shotgun and he ran a finger over the trigger, remembering the time that he had first used it. "They're ready. We'll be too."
He took aim with his shotgun and fired, the explosive round blowing the doors apart and sending them crashing into the first three Cleavers in the group in front of them. He stepped into the office level, fired his gun again, and dodged to the right, straight into an office cubicle.
Nicolette ran straight out of the elevator shaft and into the office, bellowing her lungs out at the mass of grey uniforms in front of her. Her Micro Uzi's came up and she leapt from office cubicle wall to office cubicle wall, dodging gunfire. She dived towards the Cleavers and pulled the triggers on her Uzi's, cutting swathes in the small army. She rolled onto the ground, sweeping her arms side to side and firing all the while. When the guns clicked empty she hurled them at a Cleaver's head and flicked two knives after it. She didn't keep her attention on that Cleaver for more than a milisecond- her blades never missed their targets.
Aquila drew the bowstring of the gem-encrusted bow she had found hanging in the armory, her target sighted and doomed to a painful death. She released the string and tracked the arrow to the chest of the Cleaver it was headed for. She pulled the string again, an arrow already in her hand. She shifted her aim and let it fly, then lowered the bow and broke into a sprint. The bullets ripped into the carpeted floor beneath her and the cubicle walls beside her. She weaved between the cubicles, then leaped over them and landed behind a group of Cleavers.
Darkane sprinted left out of the elevator, running alongside the wall and successfully drawing most of the gunfire away from her friends. She kicked off of the corner and pulled out her blades, decapitating a Cleaver and disarming another. She threw her blades and heard the sickening sound as they embedded themselves into a Cleaver's chest across the room. But more were coming and she kicked up the disarmed Cleaver's scythe, flipping it around to the blunt end and ramming it forward with a little elemental magic. It impaled the Cleaver in front of her but she still kept pushing until two more men were on the Cleaver shishkebab. She picked up her blades and moved on, ending more and more of the soldier's lives with simple flicks of the wrist.
Skylara raised her crossbow and fired, the quarrel sailing through the air and striking a Cleaver in the shoulder. He was encased in a blossom of flame, consuming him and the five nearest people to him.
Skylara reloaded on the run, pulling back the crossbow string and aiming with one hand at a clutter of desks and the soldiers camping out behind it. The explosive-tipped bolt hit a desk chair, obliterating the Cleavers into something less than human. She holstered the crossbow onto her back, and launched herself at her attackers. Her hands morphed into claws and her body followed suit. Where there had been a woman now crouched a silver wolf, its razor-sharp claws digging into the chest of a stray Cleaver. She growled, the pure animal sound reverberating inside the Cleaver's helmets.
Sarthacus moved with unerring agility, deflecting any scythe swung his way and pushing it into the path of other Cleavers. His hands lit up, fire energy coursing along his arms, and he punched a Cleaver in the helmet as hard as he could. The soldier almost comically spun back, flipping through the air and landing on his back. The branch shot out of his arm and found the gap between the Cleaver's helmet and his collar, and stilled the man.
Lewis charged out of the elevator shaft, glad to have his feet on solid ground again. He raised the pistol in his hand and fired it, yelling. The bullet struck a cement pylon more than a metre away from the Cleaver he had been aiming for, only succeeding in getting the soldier's attention. He turned to Lewis, scythe twirling, and walked slowly between the cubicles towards him. Lewis stopped advancing, frightened, and started retreating, shooting as he went. One out of the six bullets he fired hit the Cleaver, and even then, it simply glanced off his helmet.
Israel pulled the trigger as far as it would go on his AUG and stopped three more Cleavers that rushed to attack him. He was being shot at by two of them a few cubicles over, and it was hindering him terribly. He swung the AUG over the top of the cubicle wall, firing in the general direction of the Cleavers. When he was sure they were busy taking cover, he got to his feet and sprinted to the next cubicle over. He glimpsed them standing up again and firing at the cubicle he had just been in; his plan had worked.
He crept quietly past an old monitor and computer, accidentally stepping on the keyboard sitting on the ground. The keys crunched loudly, and he hoped the Cleaver's wouldn't hear it over all the gunfire, but then again, they were Cleavers...
The gunfire cut abruptly and there was a quick scuffle of footsteps, then the two Cleavers vaulted themselves over the wall and landed facing Israel, weapons raised.
Nicolette swept the legs out from under a Cleaver, then jabbed both hands forward and stabbed him with the blades she held. She threw them to each side, where they hit more Cleavers. Her hands and feet worked double-time, kicking and punching, blocking and deflecting. She grabbed the fist of a Cleaver and spun, swinging him into others. There was no space to injure them now- there were so many that she could only force them away so she could deal with another. There were more than she had thought and they never tired, never gave up. They had scythes. They had countless years of government-funded training. She did not.
Her leg buckled under an elbow to the thigh and the Cleavers swarmed, punching and kicking and knocking her senseless.
But she had something they did not.
Aquila used the arrow still in her hand and thrust it forward, stabbing the first Cleaver in the waist. She pulled it out and drew her bowstring, firing it point-blank at the second Cleaver.
The third one turned, handgun raised, and fired without taking proper aim. Aquila felt the bullet carve a tiny trench alongside her head, and the pain sent stars into her vision. It had broken the skin but not breached her skull, and she reminded herself to fix it as soon as she could.
The blood from the wound drenched her hair in a sticky mess but she ignored it, shifting into an eagle and ramming into the Cleaver. His body hit the floor and the pistol tumbled away, leaving Aquila sitting on his chest, eagle's head tilted curiously to the side.
"Don't," Aquila thought, intelligent eyes boring straight through the helmeted head before her.
The Cleaver's arm snapped out for the gun and Aquila's beak lunged forward.
Darkane's arms became like flamethrowers once more, smothering Cleavers left and right in a raging torrent of flame. She changed tactic, lifting up desk after desk and slamming them into her enemies. It was slaughter. But it was necessary.
She grabbed the rifle of a Cleaver and flipped it around, unleashing hell into his chest with it. Her body turned and the gun roared, spitting bullets at the oncoming soldiers.
Skylara launched herself at a Sanctuary agent with an automatic pistol in his hands, dodging the bullets that he fired at her. Her wolf paw swiped the gun away in mid-leap, and she saw fear in the man's eyes as her body descended through the air towards him. But there could be no time for hesitation. There was only the fight, and keeping herself alive.
She bounded away, easily leaping over the cubicle walls in her wolf form. She reached the safety of one such area and transformed into her normal self once more. The crossbow came up in her hands and she loaded it once more, aiming for an agent and four Cleavers he was commanding. The fire incinerated them and then moved on, sending others scrambling away. But she advanced nonetheless, eyes glinting.
Sarthacus withdrew the branch and whipped it around, catching two Cleavers in the stomach. His flaming hands grabbed the butt of the gun swung his way, melting right through the soft metal.
He kneed the Sanctuary agent in the groin, flipping the half-melted gun around and bashing him in the face. The agent retaliated by drawing a knife and slashing randomly at Sarthacus' body. Sarthachus simply placed a hand on the other man's chest and fire exploded outwards, sending the man flying. He turned and faced the remaining Cleavers, a smile on his face.
Israel, still kneeling and facing the two Cleavers with a lower chance of surviving, pulled his shotgun from its holster in a smooth draw and fired straight from the hip. The Cleaver on the right took both blasts straight in the chest and was sent sailing back over the cubicle wall.
The Cleaver on the left dodged the buckshot and leapt forward, knife in hand. It cut across Israel's jacket and be gritted his teeth, almost as if he was in pain. This was understandable, as many had said that his trench-coat was basically an extension of himself.
Israel retaliated with rage and a swinging fist which crunched uselessly against the side of the Cleaver's helmet. He swore and brought his stinging hand back, tilting the elbow upwards to block the strike of a high kick from the Cleaver. He stumbled back, and then barely dodged to the left to avoid the Cleaver's never ending attacks.
Israel blocked and diverted as many punches as possible, moving backward until he was up against a long conference table. He jumped backwards onto it, a triumphant smile on his face. Now obsessed with the Matrix ever since the elevator, he expected the Cleaver to follow him up onto the table in an epic hand-to-hand fight, just like Neo and Serif did in Matrix 2. He even kicked his foot out, toppling a mug of pens, just like Neo did with the cup of chopsti...
Of course, an epic battle was not meant to be, as all Cleavers are, by nature and strict teaching, people who don't play nice.
The Cleaver leant down and grabbed the bottom of the table, then flipped it over, Israel and all. He fell in a heap on the floor with pens, paper and clipboards all over him.
"Hey-" Israel let out, before he noticed the handgun in the Cleaver's hands. The Cleaver aimed down the sights at Israel's prone figure, and then flicked the safety off.
Nicolette felt the magic coursing through her limbs and with her only free hand and digit drew in the carpet beside her a small triangle with two circles overlapping it. She couldn't see it because of the mass of Cleaver's holding her down, but she knew that it would be glowing bright blue, and was seconds away from activating.
Nicolette closed her eyes and pushed her forehead into the carpet, shielding them from the blue light that had now fiercely burned the symbol into the ground. The Cleaver's helmets protected them from the glare, but that wasn't the thing they were in danger because of.
The blue light surrounded the pile of Cleavers and one by one, they were lifted in to the air. When Darkane was finally free, she looked up at the Cleavers and was reminded of astronauts floating around in Apollo 11. She flicked her wrist to the right and they shot away in every direction, collapsing against pillars and crumbling into walls. Her eyes swivelled and she was surprised; there were no more Cleavers.
Aquila ended the Cleaver's life, then launched herself into the air, swooping around the cramped office with her eagle wings. When she saw a target, she dived towards it, claws outstretched and beak stabbing forward. Her form rippled and shifted until her own body crouched on a desk. Her hands grabbed two arrows from her quiver, one in each, and she whisked her arms horizontally, cutting the throat of a Sanctuary agent. He gurgled and fell, the grenade that he had been clutching bouncing a few feet away from his body, pin out.
Aquila's eyes locked onto the grenade and her mind calculated what to do; the five second fuse was ticking away, and there was no obvious exit...
The elevator. The doors had been blown apart earlier by Israel's shotgun blast, leaving a long drop and a sudden stop in their place.
Aquila's mind accepted all of this within three seconds. As she found a Cleaver's scythe in her hand and brought it back to swing, she opened her mouth to shout 'Grenade!'
Under the circumstances, she decided on something a little more appropriate.
"Fore!" She shouted, and hit the grenade with the scythe's curved blade, sending it sailing right into the elevator shaft, just as it exploded.
Even though she was three office cubicles away, the small grenade still had enough power to push her off her feet. When the dust cleared, the gaping hole that had been the elevator shaft entrance had collapsed in a pile of rubble and cables. They weren't getting out that way, Aquila thought, discarding the Cleaver's scythe.
Darkane raised the gun and fired the last two shots, hitting the wooden desk near a crouching Cleaver. The gun clicked empty and she threw it down by her feet, breaking into a sprint towards the table. She alighted it and when she reached the hiding Cleaver she flipped into a handstand, but put her hands on the Cleaver's shoulders instead of the ground. Her momentum carried her onwards through into a cartwheel, and when her feet finally touched the ground, her hands still holding on, she crouched, sending the Cleaver over her head and slamming him into the floor. He didn't get up.
She stood slowly, flame curling around her fingertips, and surveyed the area around her. Nothing moved. She was done.
Skylara was out of explosive crossbow bolts. She loaded a spare quarrel with just a normal tip into her crossbow, pulled the string back, and fired at a Sanctuary official. The bolt struck him in the shoulder and ripped right through, causing him to call out in pain. Skylara didn't relent, instead running forward and kicking him as hard as she could with her army boots in his injured arm. She followed it up with an uppercut, sending the man into unconsciousness.
She shifted and roared as a majestic lion, defying the shower of bullets from her next target. Her claws unsheathed themselves in the way that all cats' do, and the Cleaver hit the ground seconds later. She looked around and smiled, baring her teeth. The office had fallen silent.
Sarthacus closed his eyes and concentrated, flames building around him in a bright circle. It illuminated his foes and his smile grew larger as he sent the wave outwards, scorching both carpet and flesh within a seven metre radius.
The branch, as thin as he was, shot out and dealt with another Cleave easily. That's what the whole thing seemed to be for them. Too easy.
But Sarthacus didn't worry about that now. He used his foot to kick up a pistol from the ground, catching it and firing it point blank at another helmet. He felt the gun buck in his hand, saw the Teflon-coated bullet carve a tunnel through the Cleaver's poorly protected head...
Sarthacus turned away. He had killed before. He still did now. That didn't mean he had to like it.
It was then, with the Cleaver's sights trained on him, that Israel noticed everything had gone quiet. The Cleaver must of noticed it too, because his head twitched slightly in the direction of the footsteps behind him. He turned, but too slowly, and the crossbow stock hit him hard in the head. It came down repeatedly until the Cleaver was more or less not moving.
Skylara leaned down and helped Israel up. He brushed himself off and nodded at her, then motioned for them to follow him to the huge floor-to-ceiling window that covered an entire side of the building.
There they stared at the crowd of soldiers armed to the teeth with guns standing on the street, thirty floors below them. A team of five approached the glass doors and breached in classic military style. Which meant blowing the doors to a thousand shards with Semtex explosives.
Israel backed away from the window, going back to the first cubicle he had gone to. There he picked up his silver briefcase, patted it with one hand, and hummed softly to himself as he pulled four small, black semi-spheres from it. He shoved the briefcase away and walked to the window, placing the bombs on it and setting the timer: One minute.
He turned to his friends to try and explain. "In twenty minutes time, every one of those soldiers will be here and ready to kick ass. I plan for us to not be here when they are. The building across from us is the easiest to get to from here. The charges I've set are more than enough to break through the bullet proof glass you see before you, allowing us an easy escape."
He turned to Skylara and motioned at her quiver. Dumbfounded, she pulled out the last bolt; one capable of easily holding a thousand kilos aloft on the super-strong Resolute Thread attached to the end. She remembered packing it in the armoury, but not knowing why. She just had thought it might come in handy.
"When the shaped charges detonate," Israel said to her, "Shoot as accurately as you can for the lip of that building's roof. We'll use it to get across." He saw her questioning face and shook his head. "There's no other way out of here. The elevator shafts caved in and the stairs are how the soldiers are getting up here. We have to cross to the other building if you want to live."
He was speaking so fast that she almost didn't have time to register that he said 'you' instead of 'we'. Almost.
"Wait, what did you mean by 'you'-"She began, but he cut her off by talking again.
"Here," he said, handing out six strips of strong material. "Use this to go across the line and get to the other side. Beware, people will be shooting at you."
He took one out for himself, and then did a quick check of his things. He emptied the shells from his shotgun and loaded the last of the ones he had had on the belt strapped to his waist. He only had two left from the mug that had been on his desk; a pair of Frag 12 High Explosive Fragmentation rounds. He released the clip in his AUG and loaded the last one from his pocket, then delved his hand into one of his many jacket pockets. It was the one that he had tipped the mug into, and from it he withdrew a simple silver lighter and a thirteen-year old Cuban cigar. With a flourish he lit it, snapped the lighter shut, and checked the bomb timers; 45 seconds.
He turned his back on the glass window and surveyed his friends' eager faces. They were waiting for him to say something, he knew. But what?
He struggled to remember way back in his van, in the first on the first day, when Lewis had siphoned some of his own power and let Israel see all the paths, even up until today. And in every one of them, his own death...
But Israel couldn't remember this part. He remembered seeing himself planting the charges, loading the guns...And then the charges going off and the final road to his demise beginning.
He sighed. He would have to say something, some sort of epic speech to keep their morale up. It was the last thing he felt like doing.
He took a long drag on the cigar, relishing in it. Then he spoke.
"Before we go out there," he began, indicating the window, "I just wanted to say..." He almost stopped. Was this how he was going to go down, saying a cheesy cliché?
"Stuff it. You've all been the best damn friends I've known..." He looked at Lewis. "Regardless of how long I've known you."
Israel puffed on the cigar again. "A wise man once said-"
"-'The best way to predict the future-"
"Is to invent it.'"
"So now, ladies and gentlemen..."
"Welcome," he turned to the glass, "to the future."
Israel pulled the strip of material from his pocket.
"Hello, hell," he whispered, and the charges exploded.
Skylara raised her crossbow and fired the specially made bolt just as the glass shattered, shooting it expertly through the flying shards and watching it catch on the adjacent building's edge. She had gauged the distance and amount of Resolute Thread needed already, and had tied it to a small fire-sprinkler system and strengthened it with magic. The moment the quarrel hit the other building's roof and stayed there, Israel looped his piece of material over the string and launched himself outwards. She grabbed her piece and followed suit.
Lewis's arms were almost yanked out of their sockets as Aquila shoved him forward. He had been on a flying fox before. This was just like it. Except much more dangerous, and surprisingly enough, not fun.
Darkane watched Aquila jump after Lewis and she gathered her wits, and then launched herself at the string.
Sarthacus knew manners reasonably well. But apparently, the 'ladies first' didn't apply here, because Nicolette simply grinned and pushed Sarthacus out the window. Oh well, he thought, managing to flip the material up and over just in time. He shot forward, Nicolette right behind him, and struggled to keep his eyes open against the wind pushing against his face. It didn't take him long to give up.
Israel, leading the group, drew his AUG, took the best aim he could while he was flying along on a makeshift flying fox, and ended the lives of three Cleavers on the ground below. The rest looked up sharply and raised their weapons, returning fire. A figure swathed in black robes, standing to the side of the ground force saw them too, and he disappeared in a sudden flash of darkness.
Israel looked up to the building they were headed to, just in time to see the mysterious figure reappear on the roof top. Israel didn't even try to shoot him; he knew already he wouldn't be able to.
And so Solomon Wreath smiled wickedly, using his shadows to rip out the crossbow bolt that was holding them all aloft.
Behind Israel, Skylara screamed as the Resolute Thread dropped, leading them to follow. Their momentum carried them forward and brought them the last few meters to their destination; the building. Yet with nothing to support the Resolute Thread and carry them onto the roof, they fell.
Israel raised his AUG with his right hand and fired the last of it's ammo into the window of the 17th floor. His body smashed through the weakened glass and he came up in a roll, and then leapt back to the window's edge to grab Skylara's hand and pull her up. He dropped the AUG and was almost sad to see it spiral to cement 17 floors below. Then he remembered that it could be the same fate as his friends if he didn't catch the-
His hands found the Resolute Thread's end and he wrapped his arms around it, as did Skylara. One pull at a time, they rescued their friends and finally stood, panting.
"Everyone...alright?" Skylara managed through gasping breaths.
There was a shaky chorus of replies of 'Yes' and she sighed. "Alright then," she said, standing up straighter. "Let's get out of here."
They raced to the stairs. Skylara grabbed the railing and was about to vault her over the edge when she was stopped by Israel. She rounded on him angrily but he shook his head, his eyes closed. He opened them and ran up the other set of stairs, ascending them two at a time. "You won't live if you go down there," he called over his shoulder and once again, Skylara noticed the slight change in the sentence that shouldn't be there. Darkane picked it up as well, she saw from the cocked head. Neither of them asked questions, and instead followed him and the others up the three flights of stairs. They reached the roof and Israel kept right on going, smashing his shoulder into the door and knocking it open.
The glare of the sun blinded them for a second, and they stumbled forward onto the large concrete roof.
When their vision cleared, they saw their enemies standing there, weapons drawn.
Skulduggery Pleasant stood at the head of the group, his classic revolver missing and replaced with a heavy pistol. He looked, as much as a skeleton could with no expression, sad.
Valkyrie Cain was on his right, a fireball spinning restlessly in her right hand. Fletcher was no-where to be seen. He had probably been told to stay out of this fight.
Solomon Wreath stood at Skulduggery's left, his cane tapping out a quick tune. When they approached he smiled, and withdrew shadows from the concrete around him.
Israel sighed. He wasn't ready. For the first time since he had read the future with Lewis' help, Israel hesitated in the path he had chosen. He didn't want life to end.
Skulduggery started talking and Israel pushed the thoughts away. Get through the fight, die with pride.
Skulduggery held a hand to his bottom jaw and the noise of a throat being cleared entered the cold Irish air. "Hey there...again..." He began, ignoring the rolling of eyes from his work partner. "You all doing well?" He waited for a reply that never came, save the unsheathing of weapons. "You know, when times were good, um..." He looked away. "...You know, I think I've got something in my eyeball cavity...j-just a sec..."
Solomon shoved him aside and called out to Israel and his friends. "There is no surrender. You have made your choice. There will be no mercy."
He gestured with his left hand and beings of pure darkness rose from the air ducts and the corners, the tiny cracks in the cement and the hidden spots on the TV ariels. They looked the constancy of runny jelly, and each of the seven beings had a small imprint of a number on their chest. They walked with all the time in the world and stood in a circle surrounding them Darkane, Nicolette, Aquila, Sarthacus, Lewis, Skylara and Israel. The latter drew his shotgun and grinned at the shadow figures. "Fun," he said, as his friends drew close together, back to back and ready to fight.
Skulduggery, Valkyrie and Solomon stood back, waiting. Then the men of shadow converged.
Aquila ducked a lighting fast punch and went for the arm that swung it, almost testing it for half a second and then slamming the edge of her hand into the inside of it's elbow joint. The thing's arm seemed to ripple and wobble slightly like jelly, then it settled. The being brought it's other arm round and slammed it into Aquila's stomach, sending her flying and landing at Sarthacus' feet. He propelled her up again with magic and turned back to his own adversary: Five.
Five's legs moved faster than Sarthacus could track them, and he barely managed to block each kick that was thrown his way. Sarthacus tried to shoot out his branch, but it went right through Five and didn't do anything. Five clenched the area the branch was in, then twisted to the left, snapping the tip off, sending pain racing up Sarthacus' arm. He cried out and withdrew the branch, clumsily deflecting the the next blow, and the next. He turned to Darkane behind him. "A little help wouldn't hurt me, you know that?"
She responded by pushing his back downwards until he was crouching, then flipping up and over and landing between him and Five. Her dual blades unsheathed and she sliced Five horizontally. His top half toppled backwards and hit the ground with a soft, putty-like sound, while his legs simply gave way with no body to balance them out.
Sarthacus rose slowly and they both stared at the flailing limbs on the ground while their friends battled madly around them.
Then the darkness melted, drew itself together, and reformed a human shape. It stood and regarded Darkane and Sarthacus with mild interest.
"Oh hell," Darkane said, and flipped backwards, launching herself into a fight with Three. "You're on your own," she called, slicing off Three's arm, only to have it rejoin the whole and regrow another.
One brought his fist down on Skylara and she blocked it as well as she could. His leg shot out and tripped her over, and she rolled to the side to dodge the being's hands. She got to her feet and leaned back into a defensive fighting stance she had once learned from Tanith Low.
One kept pushing forward relentlessly, easily catching Skylara's punches and swinging them around into throws. She landed flat on her back more times than she could count in those next few minutes.
Then the being fighting Lewis, Seven, easily kicked him to the ground and joined One against Skylara.
She gave herself some space and shifted into her wolf form and growled at the two enemies. They dashed forward and she snapped at their arms, but they got around her and managed to pull off a double headlock, one shadow on each side and gripping the fur around her neck. She transformed back and wriggled out of it, kicking One into Seven and struggling to stay upright from the kicks and punches thrown her way.
"These guy's are like freakin' ninjas!" she shouted hysterically to the rest of the group. "Someone hurry up and find a way to kill them!"
"I'm trying, I'm trying!" Nicolette said, using her biotics to pull the limbs off of Two and Six. She then threw them into the air and at Israel, who fired his shotgun once at the Necromancy 'things'. The buckshot ripped right through them, shredding them onto the ground. But they just melted and moved towards each other, reforming Six and Two in an instant.
"It's not working..." Israel said, avoiding a battle with Six in melee combat. He kept dodging backwards, until he was at the edge of the roof, his back to no more cement and instead a whole lot of nothing. Six moved closer and Israel swung his shotgun around to shoot him, but Six's deathly hands closed around the gun's twin barrels and threw it onto the ground.
Six punched forward, intending to send Israel flying over the edge, but he ducked at the last moment and grabbed Six's arm like he'd seen people do in Judo competitions, and completed a move that would normally slam the attacker down into the ground. The move itself was not as smooth for Israel as it was for all of the Judo specialists out there, but the effect was even more impressive, seeing as there was no ground behind Israel for him to throw Six into- he had thrown him off the building.
"Oh," Israel said, still crouching and watching Six's rapid descent to the deserted street below. "That actually worked. Huh."
He picked up his shotgun and walked back to Lewis, helping him on his feet. Lewis had the pistol in his hands and Israel shook his head. "Bullets aren't working."
Lewis had an idea. "Fire!" he called out to Darkane, who was using all the counter-attacks and throws she could to keep herself from dropping. "Use fire!"
She barely glanced at him, instead lighting her hands with a spark in each. She brought them together and sent a continuous stream from them, right at Three. There was a half second when he was engulfed in fire, then she stopped the flame and his body wobbled, steaming. But he was still whole.
"Just die, Goddammit!" Darkane yelled, holding her hands apart and focusing on scorching all of Three at once. When she lowered her palms, only a bubbling puddle of blackness remained. She burned that to for good measure, and then there was nothing.
"Good guess," she called to Lewis, and looked around for another one to burn.
Israel rummaged through his pockets, and produced two clips of handgun ammo, throwing them to Lewis.
"What are these?" Lewis asked, because it needed to be. He examined the polished bronze bullets inside them, and loaded them into his Berreta.
"Well...they're kinda like Incendiary Rounds...except a hell of a lot more powerful."
Lewis nodded abstractly, and experimentally shot at Four as it was battling Aquila. The bullet left a golden bright trail and burned right through Four's shoulder and out the other end. It struck concrete and left large spark as it buried itself into the roof.
Four's head turned slowly to stare at the massive hole in his arm, and seemed to concentrate, willing the shadow flesh to rejoin his body and repair it. But the bullet had burned the darkness easily, leaving no flesh to repair the hole.
"Cool," Lewis said, grinning as he fired the remaining eleven bullets into Four until he was no more. He loaded the second clip into his gun and was about to fire it again when it was grabbed out of his hands by Nicolette as she raced past, Two hot on her tail. She dodged left and dropped to her knees, sliding and bringing up the gun as she did so. She fired twice, her aim perfect and hitting Two's legs, burning right through. He dropped and she came out of her slide in one smooth movement, standing to her feet and raising the pistol. It bucked in he hand and the shadow was gone.
Skylara grabbed a kick from One and turned one hundred and eighty degrees, swinging him into Seven's path. They both went down and she looked around for something to finish them off; anything that she hadn't already tried yet. Nicolette, Israel, Aquila and Lewis were running toward her, waving their hands and shouting 'Fire! Fiiiire!'
She nodded once and prepared to shift. She had only transformed into the next thing once, on Guy Fawkes Night. It would be worth the extra effort, though.
Her whole body started to radiate a golden glow, and her arms changed first into to huge, fiery wings. Her body and legs went next, transforming into a feathered chest and torso, and two red, clawed feet.
The Skylara-Phoenix let out an mighty cry and fire rained down upon One and Seven with every beat of her wings. She reduced them to scorched earth and shifted back, just in time to see Sarthacus burning down Five with both hands.
The group almost fell to their knees, exhausted. That was when they heard the clapping.
The source of the sound was from Solomon Wreath, as he slowly and sarcastically congratulated them on their success. "Oh, good work," he said, as he stopped clapping, just as Skulduggery started to and then suddenly petered out. The group had almost forgotten that their real enemies were standing there.
"Really, bravo. Superb job. Amazing, in fact."
Aquila regarded him with a raised eyebrow. "You done yet?"
Solomon paused. "Yeah, just about."
Darkane suddenly jumped a bit, remembering something. She drew from the back of her belt a gleaming revolver, flicking the chamber out and spinning it around to check all the bullets were in place. She clicked it back into place and started flipping it around in her hand, reversing her grip on it and then spinning it on her middle finger with the trigger guard. Skulduggery's eyes were fixated on it, his gloved hands fidgeting with the ugly, plastic grip of the pistol on his own belt. He made a small whimpering sound like a dog who'd just been refused dinner. He made a couple of helpless gestures at Darkane, then whipped his arm to his chest, and the revolver flew out of her hands and and towards him. She flicked her finger and the gun stopped in midair, then slowly found its way back to her.
She threw it Aquila, who caught it deftly. "Keep it," Darkane said at Aquila's questioning look. "I don't need it, I got these." She drew her dual blades and spun them around expertly. From ten meters away, Skulduggery folded his arms sullenly.
Valkyrie's attention was currently fixed on her phone as she tried to beat her the computer's own Sudoku score. It wasn't going down well for the computer.
When silence arrived, she glanced up and then flipped her phone shut and pocketed it, sighing. They were all standing there, ready to fight, and all she wanted to do was finish putting all of the sevens in her game...
For another thirty seconds, nothing happened. There was the awkward shuffling of feet by some and the age-old glare contest by others. Then Aquila, fumbling with the safety catch on the revolver, accidentally pulled the trigger, shooting a bullet into the ground.
The two sides went into a frenzy, pulling out weapons and running crazily at their enemies. Aquila raised the gun as she ran, pulling the trigger again and again at Valkyrie as she went. The gun clicked and she dropped it, shifting into an eagle and swooping low.
Sarthacus stopped an raised both his hands together, sending all the water around him crashing towards Valkyrie, who's own hands raised and caused a wall of air to stop it and the bullets in their path.
Lewis ran yelling at the top of his lungs as his feet carried him towards certain death, while Skylara kicked up the fallen revolver while running beside him and flipped it around to use it as a club. She brought it down hard on Solomon three times, each strike causing the shield of darkness he had cast to protect himself to shudder. She hit it the fourth time and it shattered, the shards spilling across the concrete ground and then turning into dark wisps of air. Triumphant, Skylara's right arm completely transformed into that of a black bear's, and she slashed it wildly across his chest. He cried out and beat her away with his cane, smashing it into her arm and then walking backwards. The others clashed into each other around him and he dropped suddenly to dodge the flying form of Aquila, then aimed his cane and shot a burst of darkness at her. His feet carried him towards Skulduggery to aid him against Darkane and Nicolette. His cane was stopped in it's path to hit Darkane's head with her own hand, and then flung aside. Solomon didn't hesitate as Darkane thought he would without his Necromancer item, instead snapping out his hand and connecting it with her neck. She staggered back and clutched at her throat, gasping, when Skulduggery kicked her away. They rounded on Nicolette.
She smiled and dropped low, sweeping both their feet out from under them. She jumped up and threw two glowing blue energy bursts at their prone figures, which Solomon dodged by rolling aside. Skulduggery wasn't so lucky and the energy ate away at his Bespoke jacket. He let the remains of it drop as he stood, then blocked the kick thrown his way by Nicolette. She fell into a defensive stance as both Skulduggery and Wreath renewed their attack. Her arms became sore as she blocked strike after strike with them, from the lightning fast jabs of the skeleton to the low kicks and elbows of the Necromancer. Her defence faltered and Skulduggery saw it, his fist shooting forward to connect with her sternum. She shouted in surprise as the sudden pain brought her to her knees. Solomon drew a knife to finish her but she thrust her palms outwards and he was thrown through the air by her biotics. Skulduggery had turned to Skylara and was to busy fighting her to notice Nicolette slowly getting up, a hand on her chest. She drew back her fist and hit him, hard, in the back of his skull. He stumbled forward into Skylara who grabbed his jacket and threw him away. Then Nicolette collapsed, exhausted. Skylara bent down and wordlessly dragged her up again- the fight wasn't over yet.
Valkyrie swept her hand up to hit Aquila as she swooped over her head in an eagle form. They both missed each other, and Aquila wasted no time in flying to swoop her next target; Solomon.
The moment that Valkyrie had turned to hit Aquila, Lewis held up his gun and fired a shot at her. Rather stupidly, he was running at the time, and the bullet went extremely wide. Valkyrie looked around, saw him, and stuck out a leg to trip him up. He went down and a pair of shackles came out, and they were almost on his hands when Sarthacus reached Val.
He punched and her world spun around her as she dropped. She pushed both hands up into his chest and he flew backwards. Then she angled the air stream at Lewis, sending him skidding across the concrete and towards the edge. Right before he toppled off, Israel literally put his foot down, catching Lewis' jacket and stopping him from falling off.
"You ok?" Israel said, helping Lewis up.
"Yeah, just..." his voice trailed off as he looked over the edge of the building at the long drop below. "Geez...close one."
But Israel was already walking towards Valkyrie, cracking his knuckles loudly. She summoned flame and threw it, making a blazing wall between them.
"Something about my jacket that you should know-" Israel said, still confidently walking towards the flame. He said "It's fireproof," and strolled through the firewall, throwing the first punch. Valkyrie caught it and went to twist it away, but Israel brought his other fist round and smashed it into her ribcage again and again until she let go of his arm. When she dropped, gaping, he moved on, stony-faced. Had it been any other fight and any other day, he might have been more merciful. But this was the day and fight that he died in, so he figured he could show a little more anger during it.
He came to Skulduggery and Solomon, back to hack against his friends, and joined the fight.
Twenty floors below, in a classic alleyway with even a dumpster and a few cats, a large black puddle rippled.
It shifted and wobbled and struggled to solidify, and once it had, it formed a figure of shadow with a number 'Six' imprinted on its chest.
The figure looked up to the roof, where he knew he should be. He had a lot of walking to do.
In a cage inside a large truck, half a block away, a vampire awoke.
Her last memory had been her transferred into this cage after she had been transported from China to Ireland. Her name was Bridget Whiplash.
She had awoken due to gunfire, she was sure of it. And so she decided that it was time to get out of there. Her eyes penetrated the darkness, seeing nothing else in the truck's interior. And her captors had been sloppy- the bars of her cage were old and rusted, and the cage itself was only designed to contain mages, not vampires.
Bridget reached forward and easily wrenched the bars apart, crawling through and punching the truck's back door open. She stepped out slowly, the sun blinding her for a moment. When her vision cleared she saw the armed group of Cleavers standing thirty meters away, eyes raised and watching something high up.
Bridget reached the first of three and slid her arm around and under his neck, grabbing his gun and pulling the trigger on his friends. The last Cleaver ducked just in time
Bridget reached the first of three and slid her arm around and under his neck, grabbing his gun and pulling the trigger on his friends. The last Cleaver ducked just in time and the gun Bridget was using ran out of ammo. She pushed aside the Cleaver she was strangling and he collapsed at her feet, leaving her to step over him and break the third Cleaver's neck.
Bridget looked up at the thing they had been staring at and sighed. In front of her towered a medium sized building of maybe twenty floors, which she accepted as her next destination. For at the top, she could see sparks of magic and hear gunshots being fired, with her inhuman senses.
She started towards it in a slow jog that speed up into a flat out sprint. She covered the hundred metre distance between her and the building in just over six seconds, and when she reached the Cleavers stationed as guards at the entrance she dropped to her knees, her momentum making her slide right past them and into the foyer. Her slide stopped when she reached the desk but she didn't stop moving, flinging it up into the air and slamming it into the Cleaver that had been sitting behind it. The guards rushed inside but she ran for the stairs, locking the door behind her. She knew it wouldn't hold against them, but it would give her just a few seconds to get ahead.
Something high up on the fourth stairwell caught her eye. It was a shadow of some sort, a human figure steadily climbing the stairs in an obvious attempt to reach the top.
Bridget didn't know exactly what it was. But she remembered back to that text message Israel had sent her on the plane, saying how Solomon Wreath had been involved in the end result of all this...
It was shadow magic. And it was running to the roof, where she was sure her friends were.
It'll never make it, she thought, sprinting up the stairs.
Here we go, thought Israel, backing up and allowing his friends more elbow room to attack Solomon and Skulduggery.
The cigar he had lit earlier was still in his mouth and he inhaled it restlessly. He flicked the release on his gun and let the double-barrels fall open. There was one shell left and he shifted on his feet, unsure what to do with it. He ended up taking it out and throwing it off the roof and flicking the break-barrel action back into place.
Bridget was hot on the tail of the shadow figure as it raced up the stairs. She saw as she gained closer the number six weirdly imprinted on it's back and glared at it. She didn't know how it had managed to stay in front of her, no matter how she pushed herself, but it was really starting to piss her off...
Bridget grabbed the railing she was running next to and used it to flip up and over onto the next set of stairs, trying to cut the distance. It barely changed anything.
She rebounded off a door that was marked "19" and her eyes widened she looked up just in time to see the shadow man disappearing through the door above her and into sunlight. Her feet carried her up the last set of stairs and out onto the roof to follow it, straight into a battle.
Israel delved his hand into his pocket slowly, taking his time in pulling out one of the two shells that had been on his desk, the ones that he had always planned to use for a last resort. His thumb flicked over the release catch of his gun once more and he gently lowered the Dragon's Breath round into the barrel on the right. He clicked the barrels back into place and looked at Lewis, seconds before hell would break loose. "I'm sorry," Israel said, quietly.
The door to the roof burst open and Six ran straight through it, intent on only one thing. Bridget ran out a second later, not stopping to let her eyes adjust to the sudden change of light. The fight momentarily stopped and all looked around at Bridget and Six. Lewis turned to late, and Six reached his target. Six's entire arm sharpened to point and he stabbed it right through Lewis's shoulder blade before anyone could stop him.
Israel walked forward and kicked Six chest, sending the shadow figure stumbling backwards until he was almost five meters away, was the force of the kick. Israel raised the shotgun before Six could move and pulled the trigger.
The Dragon's Breath round exited the right barrel and hit Six in the stomach, sinking into the gelatinous flesh for half a second before exploding, completely destroying Six in a large ball of flame.
He turned to Lewis, who was shaking in shock and staring at the hole in his arm. Israel gripped his shotgun with his right hand and calmly stepped closer to Lewis until he was only a few feet away. That was when Lewis screamed.
It wasn't your average scream. It was the kind of scream that is built up over a multitude of small annoyances, and let loose from a large one. But multiplied by twenty.
Along with the inhuman scream came a wave of energy that roughly pushed everyone away to the far edges of the roof. Israel hadn't been affected; it was like the eye of a tornado. If you're close enough, nothing will hurt you. Sort of.
Then Lewis, unable to cope with the sudden burst of pain from his arm, began to explode.
It was a slow process, and undoubtedly more painful every second for Lewis. The first proper energy wave released itself. But it wasn't just one to push people away. Lewis had never been that type of bomb. He had been a unique one, which boosted a sorcerer's powers until they were out of the magician's control.
Darkane stood up on the edge of the roof, just in time for the wave to hit her. She tensed but wasn't thrown backwards like she thought she would. Instead she only felt a tingling sensation in her fingertips, which quickly turned into white hot pain.
She looked down to see her hands were alight, but not magically. They were, but instead of her being able to harness the fire and it not hurting, it was instead blackening her skin to an ugly color and hurting like hell. Her hands shook as the fire leapt up to the next part of her arm, and she screamed.
Skylara got to her feet straight away after being knocked to the edge of the roof, and the energy wave passed over her. She became aware of her right leg moving weirdly and she looked down to see it had shifted to that of the silver wolf and was kicking away at nothing. She stared at it; she hadn't been the one to shift it, so who or what had?
The wolf leg kicked her other and Skylara hit the ground. Before she could get back up again, there was a wrenching pain inside her and her arm smacked out suddenly, painfully growing into a huge crab claw.
She didn't understand. Changing never hurt her. The only time that it had was when she had first tried it...
A feeling like hot fire grew in her back, and she rolled over to allow two large wings to protrude from between her shoulder-blades. She had no control over the shifting. She tried to scream, but her head started changing and cut her off.
Solomon felt the wave pass over him and saw how everyone was affected. So he had a split second, nothing more, to react.
He turned and ran the last metre to the roof's edge and leapt without hesitation off it. As he fell, he threw his cane as hard as he could at a window of the building looming towards him, breaking it. He caught the sill and crawled inside, kicking his cane straight out the window behind him. He stood and ran to the stairs, shutting a door. As he glanced back, he saw his own shadows from his cane creeping from underneath the door, sliding along the ground towards him...
Israel felt the wave first as he was closest to Lewis; the source.
There was a single moment when his head was clear, and then it filled with millions of nails-on-a-blackboard screams.
He held his head in his hands as his power revolted, boosted, and screeched at him from inside his skull. He could hear everyone's future, all at once. And all he heard were screams.
The end of the world, he repeated dimly to himself. The end, the end, the end...
But he forced his eyelids open. He had to do this right. Or else those futures would be the truth, starting today. He could see now, see the chaos that his friends were apart of. They tried to fight their own powers, but it wouldn't work. There was no way they could beat it; they had no more control.
Screams again, and then his own joining them as something cut a line across his chest.
Bridget had been caught by the wave moments before reaching Lewis. She knew what was going to happen before it did, and she howled, not from pain, but from pain, but from utter devastation. Israel had been right. Nothing could change this future.
Her arm moved of it's own accord and grabbed her skin, ripping it right off. She saw no more as the vampire took over.
Israel cried out again as the vampire that had been Bridget wildly swung her arms and struck him in the left shoulder, easily cutting down to the bone. He hated being right.
He snapped his uninjured arm upwards, catching Bridget in the head. She stumbled backwards, snarling, and her clawed hand almost took his fingers. He grabbed his shotgun and lifted it, pulling the trigger. It wasn't loaded, but the blue wave of energy still exited the barrels and slammed into Bridget, throwing her to the edge of the building. She lay there and didn't move.
Now that the small fight was over and his adrenaline spent, he collapsed back onto the ground, letting the screams inside his head overcome him. The pain washed over him, bouncing back and forward between his chest, his shoulder and his head.
Screams that weren't inside his head sounded and he struggled to sit up slightly, looking at his friends. They were in even worse pain than him, their powers being more violent ones.
He needed to end it. He knew the cost, but even that didn't matter now. If he didn't end it now, they would all die.
He stiffly moved his injured arm into his pocket, withdrawing the second Dragon's Breath shell. His right arm gripped his shotgun and released the barrels, emptying the shell that was already in there. He put the new one in, and painfully snapped it shut. The screams were intensifying, and roughly every five seconds his vision would be taken over and replaced with flashes of destroyed cities and a figure swathed in black shadows. Then his vision would return and he would squint at Lewis standing above him, arms thrown in the air and mouth open in a silent scream of his own.
Israel raised his shotgun.
And his power overtook him.
But instead of seeing more of the figure and the cities, he saw his own future as he would normally. He saw all the tiny little paths, every little way he could die. Because there was no way out. No way for him to cheat death this time.
As he surveyed those paths, he became aware of another one, one that he hadn't seen before, off to the side. His mind instantly associated it with green, but apart from that, he didn't know what it was. Whereas all the other paths had him pull the trigger and then die, this one had him pull the trigger; the flames cover him, then...nothing. It went further, but he couldn't see it.
As he came back to the real world, he realized what it had been. "'The best way to predict the future,'" He whispered, his shotgun steadily rising. "'is to invent it.'"
He pulled the trigger.
Darkane looked up from her burning arms for a split second as she heard the gun fire. She saw Lewis' whole body whip to the side as the flaming buckshot completely engulfed him. The fire leapt to Israel, lying on the ground, and she went to call out his name. But then there was one last pulse wave from Lewis and everyone including her were roughly thrown off the edge of the building. Her eyes widened in fear as she glimpsed Israel still there on the building next to Lewis' corpse, burning. Then she was falling too fast and she could no longer see him.
There had been elemental sorcerers on the ground, working with the Sanctuary. They lifted their arms as Skulduggery, Valkyrie, Darkane, Nicolette, Sarthacus, Aquila, Bridget and Skylara fell to the sidewalk. Rey were gently lowered down, and the majority of them instantly hand-cuffed and searched for weapons.
The moment that Israel had shot Lewis, their powers went back to normal. Darkane's hands were no longer alight, nor covered in scars of any kind. Bridget was unconscious and slowly began the process of changing back into a human. Every wound created by the power surge disappeared instantly.
After having a quick check over by Sanctuary paramedics, Skulduggery followed by Valkyrie stood up and walked towards the captive group. He sighed and motioned for them to be un-cuffed. They stood up, bewildered.
"It's over. Lewis is dead, the world is saved." He sighed. "We have no reason to be against you anymore. You're free."
Somewhere in China, on a blood-soaked battlefield, Necros Nightbane cut his gauntlet across the throat of the last Cleaver. He turned around to survey the remains of them around him and saw Skyril a little way away, a Barrett 50. Cal slung over her shoulder and dragging an unconscious Sanguine behind her. She walked towards him and Kallista followed with Dragona and Ki-Yoko closely behind. Jodi and Mary stumbled out of the demolished cottage a few seconds later.
Necros turned back to hear the sounds of one last helicopter arriving. It made a beeline straight for them and he felt his friends around him tense up, ready for another fight. But he had a feeling that the helicopter wasn't there to fight them.
It eventually landed less than twenty metres away from them and the pilot cut the rotors. A Sanctuary official stepped out of the helicopter, followed by two Cleavers, and stood a respectable five metres away. He coughed as they regarded him coldly. He spoke first, drawing a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket.
"On behalf of the Irish Sanctuary and its associates, I would like to announce you and your colleagues no longer enemies of the magical community. You are now free."
He hurriedly turned to hop back into the helicopter, signalling for the pilot to start up the blades.
"Wait!" Necros called. "Under what circumstances? Why are we free?"
The official stopped halfway into the heli, and cringed. "I have news," he said slowly. "That the wanted man 'Lewis Ryker' has been killed."
There was silence as Necros and his friends stood stunned.
"Wh...what of the others? The people protecting him?" Necros managed.
"They have been freed as well. There was, uh, one casualty..."
The group looked at him, their minds racing a hundred miles an hour.
"Israel Elysium." The official said, and strapped his seatbelt on as the helicopter started to take off. "They could not find the body, when we reached the battlefield there was only scorched ground."
The helicopter rose fast and flew away even faster, becoming just a small dot on the horizon.
Three days later, in a crowded pub in Ireland, they sat and stared at the joyful mass of people.
Fitted on two tables roughly pushed together was Jodi Harte, Darkane Claw, Necros Nightbane, Bridget Whiplash, Dragona Pine, Nicolette Croga, Skyril Oblivion, Sarthacus Bolt, Kallista Pendragon, Aquila Felis, Mary Hiashi, Skylara Wolfbane, March Pathway, Nyx Dawn, Octaboona Ambrosius and Florence Black. And each and every one of them looked glumly at the other people in the bar.
Their drinks all arrived by two skilled waiters who set them down carefully on the table. Then they all went to take a sip, stopped, and sighed.
"To Israel," Jodi said, surprising them. But they readily rose their glasses to touch hers.
"To Israel," they repeated, and drank.
Watching them from the dark corner of the pub was a man in a knee-length brown jacket. He smiled under the cover of the dim lighting, and stood from his seat to walk briskly to the bar, his back facing them. He would tell them, later. Until then, he needed a drink.
The bartender gave a quick 'Hello' and asked what drink the man would like. He ordered a small bottle of vodka and asked for a lighter, pulling a cigar out of his pocket. The bartender pulled the last bottle of vodka out from underneath the bar and looked back up to see the man grimacing in slight pain. It was then that the bartender noticed the bandages wrapped around the man's hand and poking out from around his neck. The man just waved his questions away dismissively and the bartender shrugged, handed him the bottle and obliged with his own personal lighter. The brown-jacketed man thanked him and breathed the smoke in for as long as he could, then pulled the cigar out of his mouth and sighed, resting it on his jacket sleeve as he breathed out again.
"Sir," the bartender said, pointing to the cigar. "Watch out that you don't set yourself on fire there."
"Oh, don't worry," Israel Elysium said, his grin growing. "It's fireproof."Did you enjoy it? Are you now blown away by it's awesomeness? What questions have arisen that I might have to answer? (Come on, ask some questions :P)
Now I can write whatever the hell I want, and not be hindered by this cursed story... Because towards the end, that is what it has become to me. Just another thing to get off my damned to-do list :P
Now I can write whatever the hell I want, and not be hindered by this cursed story... Because towards the end, that is what it has become to me. Just another thing to get off my damned to-do list :P
...Hell yeah, my fiftieth post.
|(No, it ain't by me...)|