RETURN TO THE GUARDIANS / Chapter 1: Just Another Mission Part 2 / (Warning: Violence)
Posted August 1st, 2017 by Codename-X12
in a secret bunker finishing the Guardians
I knew this already, but the nightmare was so terrifyingly vivid I couldn't help but feel like I was experiencing these thoughts and emotions for the first time.
In another second last of the snarling reanimated victims had been dropped to the dusty warehouse floor. The cement tiles were now shimmery, dark red with cold dead blood. I watched through my own eyes like it was a virtual reality horror game I couldn't control. As my body was forced to replay the same event that had taken everything from me so long ago.
"Get out while you still can!!" I tried to scream, but the words once again echoed maddeningly in my mind, completely silent but still deafening in my brain. But I knew it was useless. Even someone as powerful as me was helpless against the past. I couldn't change it now even if I tried.
I heard the menacing sound of two guns clicking as the girl in the black leather jacket drew two handguns and aimed them unwaveringly toward the murderers. I cracked my knuckles together confidently. My past self was going to bring a world of pain to those scumbags.
I paused a moment to take a deep breath, closing my eyes and concentrating on the surging, bubbling vengeance that snarled savagely within me. Reaching out to the shadows that surrounded me always, I beckoned them forth to aid me in the destruction of those murderous demons before me. I felt the darkness swirl and shift hungrily around me as I drew it close like a living cloak around me.
Suddenly I felt my hands grow frigid like I had plunged them into ice water. Opening my clenched eyes, I grinned grimly upon seeing the numerous ripples of black and purplish shadow twitching and spinning around each of my hands.
The buzzing and rippling streams of darkness laced and twirled across my skin like two tiny whirlpools. They whirled between and around my fingers like they had a mind of their own, and like they were as eagerly awaiting of the demise of the terrorists as I was.
The girl had her two semi-automatic handguns trained on the silent terrorists, waiting for any provocation to release a blistering barrage of rounds. Would they not attack? Would they just stand there like malevolent phantoms, taunting us to strike first? I snarled in anger, extending my hands, still blazing with shadows, toward the terrorists.
As I did, a bow grew out of my hands, the shadows forming and shaping the weapon where there once was nothing but air. The weapon was weightless in my hands, yet very real and menacing as it finished materializing into thin air. Its shape swirled and rippled as the shadows in my hand had done, chaotic and refusing to be still or organized.
As I effortlessly pulled back the weightless bowstring, a jagged shimmering arrow of energy appeared. It hovered in the air without me touching it, nocked and anxiously awaiting to plunge forth and kill.
But I waited, for a single second. And that second was my fatal mistake.
One of the terrorists raised a communication device in his gloved had and spoke seven cryptic words into it. Words I would never truly understand even in pondering it five years after.
"Night has fallen. Call in the Vespers."
Then the criminal raised his assault rifle in his other free hand and fired a single shot. The weapon bucked slightly as a single round tore out of the barrel and shrieked through the air. But either the man was a terrible shot or, more likely, the shot was not aimed at us. It disappeared into the corner of the warehouse, easily thirty feet to my right.
My past self jumped as, a second later, the spot where the bullet had vanished burst into a raging wall of flames. It happened without warning, like someone had torched an oil tanker with a huge flamethrower. Looking back, I knew that some sort of pyrotechnic device must have been hidden there, for I knew now that the whole thing had been a trap.
And we had stumbled right into it.
The blazing wall of flames burned higher and higher until the pyre reached over twenty feet tall and touched the warehouse's upper windows. At the same time it spread around us frighteningly fast, almost completely surrounding the girl and I in a matter of seconds.
It was blocking any potential escape, I realized. A few seconds more and the roaring circle of flame closed around us like a demonic rune brought to life. We were trapped within the circle like frightened animals, flames surrounding us on every side.
I stared around a the churning wall of fire. The circle crackled and blazed wickedly, casting a hellish flickering glow on the floor. It was so hot every burning breath of air seemed to scald my lungs. The only thing I could see was the roaring flames high around us, the blinding light etching itself onto the inside of my eyelids.
"Finish them!" I shouted to the girl, fury blazing almost as hot as the flames. The bow of shadows was waiting in my hands, arrow twitching and flickering hungrily at the bowstring.
I let the arrow fly. It hissed angrily through the air, whizzing over the mangled remains of the hostages. Almost before I could blink, the arrow plunged into the ground a few feet in front of the terrorists, detonating the second it touched the floor.
A burst of sulfur-smelling smoke and a flash of blinding light ripped through the air, spraying a hail of dirt and human remains in all directions. The blast effortlessly tossed the six murderers into the air like limp bean bags, whipping them viciously against the hard ground.
I heard muffled groans of agony leaking from their pummeled lungs. It was the only sign so far that they were in fact humans. But I knew that there wasn't much of their humanity left in them in their twisted hearts.
The girl took a step toward them, dual handguns raised. An expression of fury dominated her face, and I knew the thugs wouldn't get any mercy from her. She took a few angry steps closer to the sprawled-out terrorists like a stormcloud inching vengefully across the sky.
One of the black-cloaked demons rolled over to face her. An insane grin covered his face, bared teeth leering in the flickering light of the fires that surrounded us. His bleary eyes stared hauntingly through the smoky haze as though he could no longer see. He began to gurgle and choke, facial muscles tightening and straining in agony. Drops of blood began to run out his gaping mouth and trickle down his chin as his face turned a deathly shade of red.
Then the man crumpled into the dirt as though his spine had suddenly been severed, hand clawing in the dust for a second before going limp. With a few final uncontrollable shudders and suffocating gasps, the remaining thugs, one by one, stopped moving.
"Poison!" I gasped, barely able to get the words out of my parched lungs in the utterly dry air. The girl turned and stared at me in shock.
"Let's get out here," she breathed, choking on the smoke that filled the air, before dissolving into a short fit of coughing. She and I took a few running steps toward the wall of flames still burning tall and fierce inside the warehouse.
I watched in agony, willing them to run faster, use the few precious seconds they had left to get as far away as they possibly could. They were so close, only twenty feet from parting the flames and escaping out into the clear, refreshing night air. But at the same time I knew that they wouldn't make it. Watching them run was like awaiting a tragic scene in a movie watched many times before.
I knew what would happen a few seconds before it did.
A huge explosion thundered behind the girl and I like several tons of dynamite being torched. My teeth rattled in my skull as the concussion blast of the blast slammed into me like a semi truck. No, a bulldozer. I crumpled, doubling over like a folding chair, ugly red blotches filling my vision.
The world spun around me like a sickening and probably unsafe amusement park ride as I tried to crawl to my feet, legs wobbling under me like two sticks of gelatin. I immediately spotted the girl standing up shakily a few yards away from me. Then I turned to investigate the source of the explosion that had nearly reduced me to mush.
For a few seconds the only thing I saw was smoke billowing through the already hazy air. My eyes searched the ominous cloud of ash. Was that a flicker of light in the concealing cloak of smoke? I peered closer, sure it was only my imagination. There. I couldn't mistake it now.
A single pinprick of harsh red light shone through the smoke. It wavered slightly, rising up and down and seeming to grow larger. I blinked, realizing that a second red dot of light hovered beside the first, synchronized to its swaying movements.
To the right of the dual red sparks appeared two dots of purple, glowing like amethysts. Then I made out two glinting spots of pale green materialize to the left of the red. Three pairs of bright shining light hovering in the haze of smoke and choking sulfur.
That’s it. I must have died. Either that or I had hit myself on the head hard enough
to knock myself into a hallucination. But as I turned to see if the girl had discerned the strange dots, I saw her staring at the same spot equally intently, pistols raised.
It was something else.
Five years later I knew what those dots were, but my ignorant past self stupidly didn’t run at seeing them. I knew he probably wouldn’t have made it very far, but at least he could have gotten a vital head start.
The lights drifted closer like will-o-wisps flitting about in a dream. Well, this was a dream, but it was more of nightmarish flash back to the past. Then, with a jolt of realization, my past self saw that the lights were not a hallucination or a gathering of malevolent.
They were pairs of glowing eyes, glinting in the smoke.
At almost the same second as I realized what they were, three shadowy figures adorned in dark body armor strode out of the smoke. The lights burned from the eyes of their black helmets, glaring into my soul.
"No!"' I tried to scream in hatred at the armored assassins. I wished that those murderers could actually hear what I yelled in my dream. "I will find you and kill you for what you did! You hear me!?"
"Death will be your only release," said one of the masked hunters, looking directly at me as if they had actually heard. The assassin hadn’t spoken those words before. These were new. The red lights on his helmet seemed to burn through me. “Nothing can save you when we rise."
I gasped awake.
Drops of sweat rolled down my already drenched face as I stared into the pitch darkness that enveloped me. Sucking in stale, clammy air, I wrenched open the sleeping bag and popped my head out. Cool night air washed over my sweaty face, a relief from the hellish heat that had seemed so real seconds ago in my nightmare.
I stared out into the night, taking deep breaths to calm my racing heart. In the dim glow of the nighttime city, I could make out the dim outline of the bridge a few yards above my head. I found myself staring into the shallow river that was crossed by the bridge I was sleeping under.
The water drowsily shimmered and reflected the light of nearby traffic lights and buildings. Everything was dark and serene. A few crickets chirped at the water's edge, but the main noise was the buzz of a few late-night drivers on the Baltimore roads. Under the bridge wasn't too bad of a place to spend a night. It was free, of course, plus it had fresh air and a 100% nature-friendly cooling system.
For the last seven years I had lived on the streets. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I learned how to stay alive and fend for myself alone on the streets. I could easily find opportunities to take down criminals or gang members with my strange abilities.
Ever since that fateful day five years ago, that’s what I’d been doing. Nearly every day I would foil some armed robbery or gang fight in the city. My biggest achievements included busting a smuggling operation involving fifty thousand pounds of cocaine. I had also stopped a terrorist gang from stealing a lethal biological weapon in transit to a high-security laboratory.
I moved around every other day or so to set up camp in new areas where crimes might occur. Another reason for the hitchhiking was to avoid being tracked down by the lawbreakers whose atrocities I had shut down. I learned from many close calls that gangs weren’t very forgiving to individuals who had killed their members. It was a hard life, and I knew any day might be my last.
But that’s what a hero is supposed to do, right?
The nightmare had branded into my head a burning reminder for why I risked my life alone to hunt down and destroy those evildoers. After that night five years ago when I lost everything, I, under the moniker of Necrosis, sought to redeem the friend I couldn't save. For each drop of wicked blood I drew, I believed that it somehow made up for her own.
Sometimes I doubted that reason though. What would she have thought if she could see how I was honoring her? I twisted and turned uneasily in the sleeping bag, chilling air drifting through my hair. But if I wasn't an avenger of her death, then who was I really? Shouldn’t a true hero be less vengeful than I was?
I rolled over wearily, sighing as I flipped over the sweat-dampened pillow to the dry side. I could ponder my dream and my deep moral thoughts tomorrow. For now, I needed to get a good night's sleep. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I would need to be well-rested for taking out a band of drug smugglers, or maybe even terrorists. I had learned that almost anything was possible. Might as well be rested up for it.
I turned over and closed my eyes.
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