THE GUARDIANS / Chapter 19: The Black Scythe Part 1 / (THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES!)
Posted August 4th, 2017 by Codename-X12
in a secret bunker finishing the Guardians
BACK TO THE STORY...
As we stepped into the elevator, almost on cue, red flaring lights began flashing inside the elevator and in the lab we had just passed. A high-pitched alarm began to blare and seemed to erupt from all around us. Shane sprang up through the hole I had cut in the top of the elevator and I followed.
"The elevator's on lock-down," he explained. "We'll have to climb out." He seized a handful of electrical wires covering the edge of the elevator shaft and pulled himself up. Digging a boot into a crevice in the stone wall, he began inching up the shaft. I followed on the opposite side of the shaft.
Progress was slow, and I felt my heart shuddering inside my chest, seemingly penetrated by the red flarings and the maddening blare of the alarms. Sweat dampening my face not from the exhausting climb, we climbed upward, and upward. What seemed like hours later I craned my neck back to see the top of the shaft. The grate that led back into the ventilation shaft was only ten feet away.
Shane reached the top first and leaned out precariously to grip the edge of the grate with one hand. He tore it off and let the grate tumble through the air, illuminated by the red glaring lights. It bounced off the sides of the elevator shaft and crashed down onto the elevator with a sickeningly clatter of metal that was almost deafening in the tight shaft.
I pulled myself slowly into the vent and took a moment to catch my breath. Everything was dark except for when Shane's eyes flashed ominously in the light of the alarms right outside the vent. The blaring warnings seemed to make the situation more serious, more dangerous, than it actually was. Our maybe it was, but I was trying to ignore the fact that we were in the bottom of a military base that knew we were here.
"Let's get moving," he commanded, and began to slink down the ventilation pile like some sort of serpent. I crawled after him, hands running along the smooth, slightly damp surface of the cold metal.
Every few yards there was a grate that led out of the pipe, and alarms seemed to be glowing beyond every grate, glaring light into the vent that was separated into little slits of light by the serrated grates. Sometimes I could hear movement, voices and hurried footsteps, in the rooms behind the grates, but it was hard to make anything out over the blare of the alarms.
Then suddenly, the blare was penetrated by another noise, louder. A gigantic metal clang that appeared to be coming from in front of us. Shane froze and I paused too behind him. Another deafening clang echoed through the vent. It was louder. Then another rattled my eardrums. It was getting closer.
Suddenly a thick slab of metal slid down from the ceiling in front of us, halting our progress. Shane swore as silently as he dared. "I know about these defenses, the next thing they'll do is gas the vents, either with lethal gas or sleeping gas." His hypothesis was supported by the fact that suddenly the grates slid shut, throwing the vent into absolute darkness. The roaring alarms seemed masked and muffled now.
"I'll take care of this," I muttered, already feeling a shadow knife being molded from the stale air. It grew to the shape of a glittering machete that appeared to be made of liquid obsidian with electric pulses of purple running through it. Without touching the machete, I began to guide it into the slab of metal.
Carving a crude opening that we slithered through, we found our progress halted by another slab. The knife hadn't faded into the air, I thrust it into this next obstacle.
"Hurry," Shane muttered, eyes darting around frantically. The whole tunnel was thrown into a strange purple light in the glow of the energy knife as it cut through the metal covering. A slab of metal fell away and we crouched through the opening, careful not to scald ourselves on the red-hot edges the knife had burned through.
I immediately began sawing through the next one. And the next. Then Shane froze behind me, and when I stopped as well I noticed a strange hissing behind us in the tunnel, like a dozen snakes had been sent to attack us.
"The gas has entered the vents," Holly exclaimed. "You should go faster!"
"Do you happen to have gas masks on you or something?" I asked hopefully as the knife began cutting slowly. It was going too slow. I urged it forward, straining my muscles, willing it to go forward. It began to speed up.
"Here, take this," Shane muttered, tossing a small mask into my hands. I raised the dim object to my face; it was so dark I couldn't see it clearly. I felt the straps with my fingers and slid the thin metal mask over my eyes.
I pressed a mouthpiece between my teeth and inhaled deeply. At that moment, the hissing noise reached us and the transparent lenses of the gas mask fogged up. I choked a few times through the stuffy mouthpiece, before becoming used to it.
"How much air do we have?" I wondered nervously, wiping the green mist of the gas from the lenses of the gas masks.
"About an hour," he replied. "We need to hurry."
We reached the end of the shaft that returned to where we had previously entered it. Shane slid out of the vent first, followed by me. Shane froze the instant he emerged and took a precious second to glance around and assess the situation.
The dimly lit hall was empty, but the glaring lights and the alarm were still being annoying. In the light of those alarms I could make out that there were dozens of doorways on each side of the hallway, leading to unseen room where who knew what weird military experiments and research could be going on. Shane was about to turn and head out for the courtyard again when a computerized voice echoed above us,
"Intruders located." Such a cold, dead voice.
Suddenly the huge lights of the hallway crashed on, flooding the corridor with blinding white light. Shane swore viciously and had an Uzi out in a second. I quickly conjured a bow of dark energy and we scrambled for the doorway that led out onto the sentries' balcony and the courtyard.
Then we were stopped in our tracks as a heavier metal blast door slid down from the ceiling between us and the way out, nearly chopping off my outstretched hand. Shane skidded to a halt and whirled around as the sounds of boots scuffing on the floor reached our ears.
"Get to cover!" he barely yelled before a squad of guards rounded the corner at the end of the hall. They were wearing black military armor, visored helmets that were made out of the same dark metal, and held riot shields and black assault rifles with machetes and scopes attached to them. There were five of them.
The guards turned and slammed their bulletproof riot shields in front of them to protect from any return fire. Then, without hesitation, without any questions asked, their assault rifles began spraying out sheets of murderous rounds.
"Shield!" Shane barked, but a force field of rippling energy was already spewing from my outstretched fingers. Not a second to late, a large shield expanded like a bubble and bullets became to spark and ricochet off it. Bubbles rose on the force field wherever the bullets struck.
"Can't...hold," I snarled, forcing all my willpower into my hands to keep the shield up against the furious onslaught. Shane was frantically typing on a keypad in the wall next to one of the locked blast doors in the wall of the corridor. Not giving any mind to what he was doing, I grunted and extended my hands toward the shield with all my strength. Sweat rolled down my face and a droplet hissed against the shield.
"There!" Shane yelled as the keypad blinked a green color and the blast door in the side of the hall hissed open. I stumbled and fell toward the open doorway and the shield disappeared with a pop. Shane caught me before I could face-plant on the shiny floor.
The room we were in looked like some sort of medical research department. A bed like the kind you'd find in a hospital was in the center of the room, surrounded by an array of freaky medical equipment. A robotic arm extended from a control panel and at the end of it I saw a gigantic needle. Other arms and contraptions around the bed extended a small saw, more needles, a strange-looking suction-cup, and a hose toward the bed. Cupboards lined the walls of the room.
"They'll get more guards. We're done," I muttered.
"There's still some fight left in us yet," Shane hissed back. He held up his Uzi and clicked a lever on the side, switching the weapon to fully automatic. Then he ran to the doorway and poked the gun around the side.
Shane lined up a target. And held down on the trigger. Dozens of rounds flared out of the gun's cut-off barrel in a flurry to fast for me to track. The stream of steel sparks and slashed against the wall of joined riot shields at the end of the hallway. Shane popped back into the room and slammed another thin clip into the gun's handle.
"Can you fight?" he asked. I nodded, still out of breath from before. "Good," he nodded. I opened my clenched fist and the bow of shadows materialized, growing outward from my hand. A rippling arrow of pure shadow appeared notched on the bowstring.
I stepped toward the doorway, aimed the bow around the corner, and let an arrow fly. I watched in satisfaction as it penetrated hard against a riot shield, making the guard behind it stagger. Then the arrow exploded into a half dozen shards of shadow that lept through the air like tiny homing missiles.
Two of the shards darted toward other guards but were deflected by the riot shields. The remaining blasts shot up into the air and over another riot shield. I heard a scream of terror and a spray of blood splattered the pristine white walls. A riot shield toppled to the ground and I could see the vague shape of a body collapsed behind it. Another of the guards dragged the man to safety behind the riot shields of the others.
I was about to pull another arrow to existence and fire it, but a burst of rounds that were almost dead on target made me retreat back into the room. Shane stood there shoving rounds into a clip, which he then clicked into his Uzi.
Footsteps echoed in the hall. Metal boots. Riot shields and machine guns in hand, I knew the guardians were stalking closer. Shane gave me a quick glance and then drew a flare gun from a holster at his waist. He tapped the safety off with one finger and the barrel of the pistol began glowing a faint red.
"Let's go," he muttered. The noises in the hall were silent. I paused and let two blades of shadow take form and grow, one in each of my hands. Then suddenly a man wearing black body armor and a gas mask sprinted around the corner, knife raised in one hand above his head.
I lunged forward and slashed through the man's chest with a blazing darkness sword. The weapon crackled and sparked as it passed effortlessly through him. He groaned as the life left his eyes and his severed body crashed to the floor with a shuddering finality.
Then a burst of bullets echoed through the dark air, ricocheting off the door frame and sending a shower of sparks through the air. I threw myself to the cold floor, hands raised protectively over my face, and felt a twist of air as a bullet winged overhead.
"I'm not taking this anymore from those fools," Shane snarled as I stood up nervously. He had raised his hand to block a bullet that would have slashed open his face, and I watched as the bullet hole straight through his palm closed. It still kind of freaked me out. "They wanna piss me off with fancy ricocheting rounds..."
Shane crept to the doorway, I a few cautious steps behind.
"When they shoot another volley, go in shooting," Shane hissed. Almost before he could finish his sentence, another stream of bullets screamed across the doorframe. We ducked back against the side of the wall as a few of the rounds made it narrowly into the room. They pinged around a few times and I heard glass shatter as beakers were hit somewhere in the darkness.
Shane sprang for the doorway and I sprinted after him. He raised the Uzi and the flare gun and dove out of the doorway. A few startled rounds skipped by harmlessly as he somersaulted across the floor, firing both weapons at the same time. Then he reached the other side of the hall and took cover, still firing rapidly. The Uzi rounds sparked on the riot shields but the flare stuck to the ground underneath one of the shields.
It hissed for a moment before blowing. The shield was sent flying out of the soldier's hands and he staggered back at the same moment, the front of my mask and body armor ripped open by the blast. Shane whipped the Uzi from around the corner and a few quick shots slapped the man in the chest. He collapsed.
I seized my moment. Conjuring up a shield of darkness, I stepped from the shelter of the room and and grinned grimly as bullets sprayed off the shield. Extending my hand and whipping it violently in front of me in a sideways slashing motion, I felt a wave of darkness copy my motion.
It surged forward like a hungry spirit and slammed into the shields, cutting them in half down the middle as effectively as a chainsaw. I gritted my teeth as I felt the usual pain and exhaustion return, but I did not retreat. Sweat dripped down my face as the shield faded and in its place, a bow of pulsating dusk energy formed.
A few guards bucked backwards and collapsed as Shane's Uzi sprayed hot shells into the hallway. I let the arrow fly and it pierced one of the soldiers where I knew his heart was. Then it exploded, ripping the man apart and spraying his bloody remains against the wall. Shane stepped from behind the cover of the corner, and his weapon spat out a few more rounds and the last men collapsed as they ran.
"Nice work, Dark." He grinned and I felt myself grinning back. "Now it's time to get the heck out of here." He headed for the exit, but suddenly froze, every muscle stiffening.
"D-do you hear that?" he breathed, as I stopped walking behind him, looked down the two hallways cautiously. Was it just me, or did they suddenly seem more empty, more foreboding? More gaping, like huge mouths?
"No," I replied. "Let's just get a move on." He nodded hesitantly, still not sure but worried. "The faster the better." Shane and I took a few hasty steps toward the ladder that led back up to the helipad on the roof.
Then the world around us erupted in flames. A sudden wall of fire poured out of the walls, hitting us like a tidal wave. I heard someone screaming as the walls melted around me and were shredded down like a house of cards. I think that someone was me.
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