JiMing needs more time, so my chapter comes early! (Or late, considering how long it took me to post this.)
Chapter 2 - Darkness Rising
A loud, deep slamming sound resounded in the room, and the sight of two corpses flying a few feet reflected in the glowing blue eyes of a titan.
Kaio grunted, but stayed focused. The Toa of Plasma's eye twitched as he frantically moved, attempting to reach his goal. So far away...but so close. He nearly jumped in surprise as he heard the sound of whooshing fire. Finally...
Invictum, on the other hand, could hardly contain his joy. Now was his chance to get his revenge. He reached the goal once desired by Kaio. "Come over here! I dare you!"
"Gladly." Booming noises echoed in the small metal room. "ARGH!"
"WHAT?!" Invictum facepalmed.
Kaio laughed and put down his controller. "Ridiculous. You killed us both with a Mantis stomp, and it was a free-for-all. How did we even get into that position?
"We?" Invictum jeered. "You just suck." His voice was mocking, yet casual, the type of insult endlessly exchanged between good friends. "Who gets right next to his enemy while a third enemy is in a giant killer robot?!"
Axilus had a smile on his face, but beneath his faceplate it could not be seen. "Who gets right next to a giant killer robot, with a second enemy or not, in the first place?"
Kaio shook his head. "Heh. Well, I actually ran for the second Mantis robot, but then Invictum decided he would just camp and snipe me!"
"Like I said, you just suck!" Invictum laughed.
"But that was nowhere near as crazy as when we both shot each other and died with our
Mantises." Axilus said to Invictum.
"Bah, I'd beat you in a fair fight."
"That has to be a joke. I already had damage from before that and we tied!"
Kaio picked up his controller again. "Ready for round 2?"
"Absolutely. But perhaps we should try a different gametype." Axilus prepared to set up the match.
While Superiornatural, Inc. had deadly missions, a great service to perform, and the most skilled operatives on the planet, the members of Crimson Squad did use their spare time for recreation. Their base was simple. A call receiver, a main room, and a game room with an Xbox were all present. Halo was their almost constant choice for which game to play--on account of the fact it was the only one they had enough spare cash to buy. They had, after all, used most of their funding for a garage and hangar, loaded with vehicles nearly copied from Halo. They took great pride in that, though it did leave them with a more humble supply of money.
"Flood." The voice of the announcer sounded from their 10 year old Sony TV. Again, due to the small box screen, Axilus was bewildered as to just how much spare ammo he had for his shotgun. He hunted around the map for Invictum, who had been chosen by chance to become the first victim of the Flood, a parasite that kills and then takes over its victims, using its body to kill and infect others.
"Urgh. I'm Flood again. Glad nothing like this could happen to me for real. Disgusting..." The Toa of Earth began to run around the map at shocking speed, brandishing his blade arm.
No sooner had Axilus first pulled his trigger than the sound of a phone rang next to the couch.
"GAAAH!" The distraction had caused his infection, but they all had to stop there. "Cryptids."
"Another one already?! Well, the last few went down pretty easy. A few clips emptied out, and one swing of a heated sword, and that rabid Waheela fell so hard I heard the thud." Kaio went to get his weapons. "Come on, Invictum."
Axilus picked up the phone. "This is Axilus Prime. What is it?"
The voice of a secretary answered him, "We got a garbled message. All the operator could make out was 'evil, bleeding, help.'" She sighed. "Then the phone line made a weird sound, static and a high-pitched scream, but not feedback. The phone the operator used blew up, he's been shipped off to the emergency room."
That type of story was odd to the red and blue titan. "Were you able to track the call?"
"As always." She sounded slightly proud, yet offended. "I'll upload the coordinates to your central computer, you provide the flash drive and stick it into your...what did you call it?"
"Pelican," he replied, getting his flash drive. "Send them. Axilus out." He got the coordinates from his computer, which he feared would be damaged. It seemed fine, and he walked toward the armory.
"No need, bro." Kaio walked out before he could reach the armory, handing Axilus his sword, axe, Assault Rifle, and Magnum. "There you go." He loaded his DMR and rocket launcher, while he sheathed a small combat knife.
Invictum inspected his sniper rifle. "Kaio, stop borrowing it while..." He noticed the look in Axilus' eyes, and seemed to catch the feeling. "No french fries..on the scope." He nervously wiped it.
On the way to the Pelican, the trio felt the same strange, nervous fear. The pre-flight diagnostics all seemed fine, but the dashboard flickered for a second. The roar of the engines was loud as it flew off, but nothing was louder to them than the odd silence.
They arrived at dawn, though the sun was hardly up. Clouds would block it anyway. An eerie glow reflected on a thin fog, distracting Axilus from the old wooden house coming into view.
Kaio kept on fiddling with his DMR. "Always wanted to see Britain. Not necessarily this part of it."
Invictum wanted to make another crack about Kaio being afraid, like he had on every mission before, regardless of whether or not he was, but now he knew he would be mocking himself equally if he did.
The Pelican landed with a loud thud, startling the trio in the eerie silence. "Move out." Axilus cocked his gun, opened the cockpit, and stepped out.
Kaio looked around. "I know I usually handle evac...but is there anyone to evac?"
"Of...course there is." Invictum glared, irritated. Partially at whatever was here for making him afraid, partially at himself for being so. But why, he wondered, did any of them feel any fear? They had easily handled countless situations. Something here was not right.
Axilus heard a noise, swinging around to look behind him. In the process he smashed part of the old, damaged fence. "Argh!"
Invictum stepped forward. "The fence wasn't rotting. Something damaged it...recently. Let's just find it and kill it, another day's work!"
Kaio slowly stepped toward the house, kicking the door upon discovering it was locked. "I can't get in."
Axilus walked up to him, followed by the shorter Invictum, and grabbed the knob. "Hang on..." He pulled hard and fast, shattering the knob, doorstop, and lock. Empty black eyes peered at him for a split second and fell on him. "Hnngh!" He punched the face aside reflexively, then quickly turned around and pointed his gun. Turning back to the house, he motioned for Kaio to examine the fallen Vortixx. "It was a corpse...and whatever did this is here. Be ready."
Kaio picked up the body, holding it up as something of a shield, with his combat knife drawn, as it was the only weapon he could use one-handed. He advanced first, trying to see what had done this. The inside of the house was dark in the cloudy, foggy moor, and it did not help.
Axilus followed, Assault Rifle at the ready, while Invictum kept his Battle Rifle out. The dark-colored sniper quickly took a spot in the corner to stay hidden and defend his friends with gunfire. He looked to the side, where the door was. He noted how small the opening really was, compared to most doors.
Axilus silently looked around. He knew Kaio had his back, so he turned around to look the other way. No sooner had he done that than a kick slammed into his back and a soft but audible thud came from behind. He whirled around and fired his gun, but no one was where he pointed. Bullets slammed into the Vortixx corpse, and he looked to find Kaio being dragged into another room by his feet. He couldn't make out what was dragging him, and a knife scratch trailed from where he was standing to where he was now. "Invictum! Quickscope and fire!"
Invictum attempted to do so, but now Kaio was out of the room. His bullets struck nothing. "Hang on. There seem to be two passages to the room!"
"There is only one." Axilus proceeded to go inside, switching his gun for his sword and axe. Their blazing light helped him see, but it was a small pocket of light, not a spreading blanket of it. It helped very little.
Invictum smashed through a wall by repeatedly whacking it with the back of his gun. "No, there are two."
No words were exchanged between them, but the knife trail, before it stopped, was pointing to a cabinet beneath the sink. They both decided to flank the position.
Axilus whirled around to the sound of smashing all around the house. Wooden supports broke, corners shattered, and holes were punched in the ceiling, which was also the floor of the second story in the house. He quickly turned around again and smashed open the cabinet with his sword. "Kaio!" The wood had caught on fire, and Invictum rushed to pull Kaio out. He was tied up, arms to his body, feet together, and knees to his shoulder area, with a rope around his neck. "Axilus, he's choking! See the other corpse in there?"
The burning corpse of a tied-up Toa of Water was in the cabinet, and Axilus reacted by cutting the rope around Kaio's neck.
"Invisible," he gasped, "it's invisible!"
Axilus looked around, worried. The smashing sounds, an invisible foe...rubble falling around them as the house burned. "Run! It's bringing the house down!" He sliced the ropes binding Kaio, but he was still tangled. He sheathed his weapons and picked up the Toa, running out.
Pillars of earth rose up to block falling wood, also catching on fire. The whole house was ablaze and collapsing inward, and Invictum had to defend everyone as he ran next to Axilus. "There's the door!"
They sprinted towards it, but in the smoke, they could make out a disruption in the vague shape of a Skakdi. "No!" Axilus yelled. "I can see him, the smoke makes him visible because it isn't colorless like the air!" He ran to a weakened wall, as the fires raced after them. "Smash together, I'm not strong enough to break it myself in one go!" He kicked as Invictum shoulder slammed the wall, escaping as the house fell apart.
Kaio got out of the ropes and stood. "I think...it's a revenant. A ghost of extreme power, existing only to torment the living. Usually certain people, but...anyone who comes close enough is a target."
"I heard those have negative effects on digital technology." Invictum took out his Sniper Rifle.
"That explains everything..." Axilus stepped into the smoke created by the burning house. "Stay in the smoke! It's hard to breathe, but it's our only way to see it!"
A dizzy feeling came over all of them. Perhaps it was the revenant, perhaps the smoke. The unspoken idea that it was both plagued them all, as that would mean they had a serious disadvantage. They stood in a triangle, with their backs on the inside so they could see the revenant. No sign of attack came from any direction.
Invictum wanted to speak, but he could not in all of the smoke, where breathing was nearly impossible. Where did it go?!
Axilus looked up. "HAI!" He stabbed upward, leaping, just before the revenant could attack, but he felt his sword strike nothing. His face was slammed so hard he fell on both his companions, throwing their gaze off course and allowing the revenant to disappear yet again. "Aaargh..."
Kaio stood up. "It...can't be hit....that's....crazy!" He stood up, only to find a lump of air displacement flying at his face. He ducked. "AAAH!" He fired his DMR at the distorted figure, hitting nothing.
Invictum dove beneath the revenant, took out his knife, and attempted to get it from behind. "It's intangible...period!"
The revenant whirled around and kicked him down. Axilus charged at it, dodged a kick, then ran to help Invictum up. "It's no use! Out of the smoke...we can't...stay here! Back to the Pelican...gasmasks!"
They ran away, each one being hit sporadically. "Should we fight it with the Pelican?" Kaio asked frantically.
"No! Its systems will be damaged beyond repair if we turn it on while the revenant is here!" Axilus grabbed gas masks for all of them, putting them on each member himself for the sake of speed. "Into the smoke!"
They all ran, but Kaio was grabbed from behind. Axilus ran back to help him, but was punched 50 feet away into a tree...by Kaio himself.
Invictum formed earthen binds around Kaio's limbs to anchor him to the ground. "Kaio...isn't that strong...HE'S POSSESSED!" He took aim at Kaio's face, but couldn't fire. What if it killed him?
Axilus fired several rounds at Kaio's legs, and a horrible, echoing scream came from the Toa of Plasma's mouth. Kaio melted through the binds and charged at Axilus, knocking Invictum out of the way.
Axilus put his Assault Rifle on his back and drew his melee weapons, slashing at Kaio's punch. He was kicked in the gut, and saw Kaio jump. He couldn't look up to see that his old friend had leaped into the sky, and was coming down on him.
Invictum could see Kaio had increased resistance, and repeatedly pulled the trigger of his sniper rifle. Kaio was knocked out of the way, but the shockwave from his landing knocked Axilus over.
Axilus stood, hitting Kaio in the face as hard as he could with his axe. "Get out of his body!"
Kaio twitched and crumpled into a fetal position, coughing until he laid flat on his back again. This time, it was Axilus who whirled around and hurled his axe at Invictum.
"Impossible!" Invictum ducked as the axe tore through several trees. With Axilus possessed and his strength multiplied like Kaio's was...
Kaio jumped on Axilus' back and pulled on his head, attempting to knock him out with a small crack in the neck. He couldn't find the balance between simple pain and death, however, and so was grabbed, then slammed down. Axilus stomped on him, but Invictum weakened the earth beneath Kaio so it would cause as little injury as possible.
Pain coursed through Kaio's body, and he couldn't muster the strength for a plasma blast, or even a word. Invictum gave up, but not in the coward's manner of doing so. "Enough!"
He charged at the possessed titan, firing burst after burst of Battle Rifle fire at him. The bullets caused pain to the solid form of the revenant using a living body, but it leaped over the final few bursts and grabbed Invictum's face, lifting him up. Feral growls erupted from Axilus' mouth, but his grip twitched. "No...no...KILL ME! IT...KILL HIM...BOTH...NOW!"
Invictum was shocked by the revenant's power, but shocked more so by Axilus' resistance to it. "If I kill you...he dies..." He took out his combat knife and stabbed Axilus' arm about a centimeter in, to make him release his grip, then got behind him and stuck the barrel of his sniper rifle to the back of Axilus' head. "Kaio...start a fire. Now listen closely, revenant. I will do it. He's willing to die for us, and if you force him to...I will allow it. At the slightest movement...I will pull this trigger...and you will both die!"
Kaio managed to shoot a plasma bolt at a tree, setting it on fire. The smoke gave Invictum the insurance he needed, just when Axilus began to cough. Perfect.
"DUCK!" Kaio yelled desperately. Axilus fell to the ground as Invictum ducked under a distortion.
Axilus stood. "Thank you...both of you..." He was slightly humiliated, but now the revenant could strike or possess any of them. "We need a corpse for it to possess! Any corpse!"
Invictum sniped a passing Mahi goat. "There! It's all we can use, the revenant's victims were incinerated!"
At this, the revenant roared, an echoing, savage, haunting sound. Axilus put away his weapons, knowing he would not need them. "Run to it! Kaio, keep a fire going! Burn the grass! Invictum, guard the rear! I need to keep a grip on the body for this to work!"
Smoke filled the air, with Invictum giving the signal to duck, strafe, jump, and weave around the revenant. Trees were hefted out of the ground to swing at them.
Kaio took out his rocket launcher, blowing up two trees swinging at them. "I need to reload, cover me!"
Axilus picked up a rock, blocking a punch from the revenant. The rock shattered, but saved Kaio.
Invictum seized the corpse. "Axilus, catch!" He threw it, sending it soaring through the air. The revenant, being intelligent and devious, rushed to bat it aside.
Axilus fired on the corpse, just barely sending it out of the way. "Catapult me, Invictum!" A pillar of earth rose up at an angle, hurling Axilus at the dead Mahi and letting him grab it out of the air. The revenant flew back at him, knocking him to the ground. The Mahi rolled out of his grip and onto the burning grass.
Kaio stood as the revenant lunged at Axilus. "No! Take me!" He looked into Axilus' eyes, the expression begging him to just kill him and end the battle. Sensing a willing victim and an easier victory, the revenant rushed at Kaio. Axilus grabbed the Mahi and stood, trying to defend Kaio, but he was too slow...
"NO!" Invictum kicked Kaio aside, but the revenant began to chase after him. He ducked, but was bashed through a tree, then landed unable to stand again. Axilus could still see the revenant in the abundant smoke...
He ran at it from behind, through debris, smoke, and fire. Ignoring his melting combat armor, he pulled out his sword. It had become too much to run with the fiery armor, and so he bashed off parts of it with his arm. No..no...come on...die!
He swung the Mahi by its leg, slamming it down on the revenant as it got into position to possess Invictum, forcing it inside the dead goat by physical contact. "This is FINISHED!" He slammed his sword through the Mahi's head, giving a loud shout of desperation and fury. The blade sunk into the animal, into the dirt, setting both on fire and immolating the body. Howls of pain erupted from the revenant. It had been too slow to escape. Weakly, a demonic, echoing voice sounded from the open mouth of the Mahi.
"And so the orb moves and spins, around the inferno still. The King is yet unmoved."
And it was silenced.