While the deaths and terror that ensued as a result of the angels could never be undone, Silivia was in a better state three months later. After the event, Silivia experienced many days of walk-ins, protests, and road blockings — calls for Governor Rosington to declassify information on the attack. Although he failed to provide such, the governor did expand the city's security. Now under tighter, proper protection, people continued through their lives hoping for a better future.
As far as Fontaine was concerned, the destruction of Alchemilia would come very soon. Fontaine had spent the past three months training his "recruits" — an android, two scientists, and a group of teenagers with no combat experience partaking in what most would call a suicidal pact. While the man's exercises and instructions on the utilization of weaponry were not easy, it was a breath of fresh air for most within the group.
Within the Laboratory of the Unexplainable, Chris, Steven, and Melissa, had their own home, of sorts. Not having to worry about any significant dangers for some time, Chris began to understand the world around him better. After being instructed by Fontaine, he began utilizing tactics rather than relying on his abilities. The Devlins spent more time together, growing closer and adjusting to being a family again. There was always a sense of anxiety within Melissa, but she was glad to be around her brother and her uncle, even if she didn't remember their life together.
Atticus lived in the Laboratory of the Unexplainable for a small time as well. But after dating Blossom Cane for two months, the two decided to move into an apartment of their own. When she wasn't working in the Silivia Cognitive Science Center, Blossom spent her spare time working on her pottery and painting skills, becoming much more experienced with the former. She began selling her paintings, pots, and vases and would sometimes utilize them in their home. After being instructed to use an alias by Fontaine, Atticus got a security job working nights at a Silivian warehouse.
Refusing to return home, Marshall found employment in Plant Empire, and a place to stay in Li's upstairs loft. Li had introduced Marshall to his life. Marshall had met Li's wife, Yu; his employee, Da; and his father, Shen, a badger farmer in Gladea.
For a bit of time each day, everyone would meet Fontaine at several locations throughout the city for training and exercises. Soon, it would be time to strike.
As the Devlins walked into the laboratory, they were instantly greeted by Beth Darwin.
"Hello, welcome back! Did you enjoy your time bowling?"
"Indeed, we did," Richard replied, placing their bowling bags against the wall.
"Yeah, we had a great time," Steven chimed in. "Though we weren't able to defeat Uncle Richard."
"You won't ever be able to," Richard responded, laughing. "I have to work on a project now, so I'll see you guys at dinner."
As Richard began to walk away with Beth, Melissa turned and went upstairs, with Steven following behind her. Walking into the living room, the two of them took a seat on the couch and noticed that Chris was standing in front of one of the windows, looking out onto Silivian traffic.
"Chris?" Melissa called out.
"Do you ever regret taking up Fontaine on his offer?" Chris asked, turning around.
"No, not really. I know it's going to be a hard mission, but we have to do it. Just think about what they did to Savannah and all of the others like her." Melissa answered.
"Don't worry, Chris," Steven started. "It won't be long until Fontaine contacts us to start the mission, then Alchem will pay for all they've done."
"But do you think we can do it? That we can pull it off?"
"Fontaine has trained us well, and I'm sure he won't let us fail. We're in good hands," Melissa answered. "Just trust him."
In the Silivia Cognitive Science Center, Fontaine sat across from Samuel at a small table. By now his injuries had healed, and his missing eye was replaced with a prosthetic. In his hand he rolled two six-sided dice, dropping them with a clattering noise.
"Two sixes," Samuel looked at a nearby piece of paper with various tally marks. "Luck is on your side, my friend. Let's hope we have luck in the near future — and the future beyond." Putting down the scoreboard, Samuel raised his hand slightly. The two small dies rose. Turning his palm over, the two cubes deconstructed themselves, their pieces rotating through the air. Seemingly directed by the clenching of his hand, the two dies combined into one, intricate twenty-sided die.
"I'd say it's time that we begin today's work," Samuel said, with a smile.
Fontaine nodded silently and slid his hand across the table, numerous blueprints and folders appearing from thin air and sitting as though they'd been on the table for weeks. In one hand he summoned a mug of coffee, and in the other, a small phone. With the press of two buttons, he held it to his ear awaiting a response from Chris Wellington.
Sunlight poured into the small apartment, illuminating the room. Atticus sat at the small dining table with his girlfriend, Blossom. Still dressed in his security outfit, he had just returned from a late shift and they were eating grilled chicken sandwiches for lunch.
"I tried calling my parents again, but they didn't answer," Blossom said, breaking the silence. She sat on the other side of the table, wearing a dark purple shirt and denim jeans.
Even though it had been over a month since the two had moved into their apartment, Atticus still hadn't adjusted to the quietness of the place. Having quickly gotten used to living at the Laboratory of the Unexplainable, the almost constant silence felt strange.
"I'm sorry about that," Atticus answered. "They'll come around eventually...I hope."
"Yeah, I guess. I don't understand what their problem is though," Blossom replied, pushing their basil and oregano plants — gifts from Marshall three months ago — aside so that would be more room on the table. The two continued eating their lunch until the sound of Atticus' phone ringing interrupted them.
Pulling his phone out of his pocket, Atticus quickly answered it. Hearing the words from Chris, he glanced at the girl before replying, "Yeah, okay. Are you sure it would be okay for us to show? I'm not on good terms with Marshall currently and I don't want to continue arguing with him."
"Look, this is important, you have to come," Chris answered. "I know Marshall's been mad at you lately, but we're all in this task together. Just get to where Fontaine is, quick."
Sighing softly, Atticus replied. "Alright, we'll be there soon."
With that, he ended the call and got up from his seat. "We have to go," he said to Blossom. "Fontaine's scheduled another meeting."
It had been a quiet morning at Plant Empire so far. Yu and Da had gone shopping, with Li and Marshall cleaning around the store.
With the sudden ringing of a phone interrupting Li's sweeping, he leaned his broom against the wooden store counter and walked over to the phone mounted on the wall.
"Don't," Marshall said, as the boy looked up from where he crouched in front of a shelf, dusting the bottom row.
"Why? Continuing your temper tantrum?"
Missing the call, Li quietly listened to the voicemail left behind.
Hey, Marshall, it's Chris. I wanted you to know Fontaine's big thing is today and you need to come to Doctor Brownlee's lab.
"You are an integral part of this mission," Li said, placing the phone back in place.
"Yeah? Well, so what? Atticus just ran off with his little girlfriend. Why should I bother?" Marshall grumbled.
"They still showed up to training, however, there is no issue here. Focus on the bigger picture, we need to stop Alchemilia. If we do not do it, who will?" Li recited. "Come on. Yu and Da can care for Plant Empire while we're gone. They should be back from buying groceries soon, I'll leave a note for them."
Standing up and rearranging plants on the top row, Marshall became silent and thought about Li's words carefully. "If we do not do it, who will?" He has a point. They do need us.
"Fine. I'll go," Marshall replied, defeated.
"Welcome," Samuel greeted as he led the recruits through the laboratory. They eventually sat themselves at the table where Fontaine had first explained his operation. It was not common that they would be called here, they usually met at various warehouses for their training.
"So, I assume Marshall and Mister Li decided not to come?" Atticus asked as they waited for Fontaine to appear.
"It seems that way, yes," Chris answered. "I'm glad you and Blossom decided to come, however."
Then the door opened. Instead of Fontaine, the group saw Li entering the foyer and Marshall carrying a box of food.
"Is anyone even here?" Marshall said, not looking inside. "We brought foo—" he said, looking up. "Oh."
"You're late, though your courtesy is most appreciated. We have seats for you," Samuel said as he examined the two as the laboratory's glass doors closed.
Marshall brought the food in and set it on the table.
"We got some food from Frog Kingdom," Marshall started, slurping on a milkshake and unloading the various food items from the box. "Soup for Steven, a Froggy Meal for Atticus, blue apple slices and juice for Mister Li, a few Froggers for everyone else, some Amphibifries, and a—"
Marshall was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Fontaine.
"Glad you all could make it. Don't worry, there's no training left." He placed himself on a folding chair. "Go ahead and eat. Thanks for the food, Marshall."
Once everyone had finished, Atticus decided to get to the point of the meeting. "Fontaine, what have you called us for here today? You mentioned there's no more training left, is it time to..." Atticus paused, fully aware of the weight of his question. "Launch the plan?"
"Indeed, today's the day," Fontaine nodded. "I would have hoped you'd all be prepared at any time"
"If it's time, where do we go from here? What is the next step?" Steven asked.
"When we arrive at Remnant Rock, we split into two teams," Fontaine answered. "Team A, consisting of myself, Atticus and Marshall, will disguise ourselves as technicians and enter the facility through an unconventional entrance. The rest of you, Team B, will get into the base and begin dispatching Alchem's forces. That might sound like an impossible task, but I've ensured that you'll have some help."
"Now that everyone has finished eating, we'll head to the basement," he continued. "I think you'll all like what's down there."
Samuel placed the keycard into the basement door reader. The metal door opened wide automatically. Prior to Fontaine's explanation of his operation, the basement of the laboratory was seldom used. He found new usage in it — storing the new weapons that would be bestowed onto the group. He entered, and everyone descended down the dark staircase.
Arriving at the dark, large room at the bottom, Samuel flipped the switch on.
Following behind him, Atticus walked into the room and was awed at the sight around him. The room was somewhat small, but sizable enough for everyone to fit in comfortably. Tables and shelves draped in green cloth lined the room, littered with weapons: firearms, blades, and even portable explosives.
Fontaine crossed his arms. "Now, since you've all trained with these, you're free to pick whichever you want, just be responsible. Try not to lose any limbs."
Melissa's eyes lit up as she scanned over the weapons. "How many are we allowed to have?"
"As many as you can carry. Just don't point them at each other." Fontaine looked around at the weapons, making mental notes on each of them.
"If we intend to be smart with this operation, clear the shelves," Samuel stated as he walked over to the leftmost corner of the room. Before he could "clear the shelves," he opened a dark, metallic case that lay on the floor.
Walking over to the shelf next to Samuel, Atticus began examining the guns. Wrapping his hand around a semi-automatic handgun, he pulled it back and began to examine it before noticing Samuel.
"What's in that?"
Samuel examined the weapon within the black case. It was a long-barreled sniper rifle coated in a black carbon fiber. Handcrafted with the help of a blacksmith some time ago, the weapon was capable of firing laser-powered bullets from miles away. He picked it up, examining the sharp, smooth corners. "An art project."
Fontaine picked up two bulky metal cases. "I've made you something personal, Chris." He opened one, revealing a strange replica of Chris' entire left forearm. "This should be easy to install. Hold still..." In a few minutes, Fontaine replaced Chris' forearm with a new one.
"I took the pleasure of handcrafting the software myself, in fact, and it should download into your central processor soon," Fontaine said. He did not pick up a weapon, but he still held the other briefcase.
Suddenly, Chris' hand popped off to the side, and a gun muzzle took its place. "This is cool. Thank you, Fontaine," Chris said. "What is in the second briefcase, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I'm not planning on spoiling that surprise yet. All I'll say is that it's a weapon and I'm taking it to Remnant Rock."
Blossom looked over the weapons before spotting a revolver in the corner. While not her favorite, it would be the most practical for the journey and her own self-defense. She grabbed two of them.
Steven grabbed a pair of 9mm pistols and a belt of grenades. You may never know when you need a distraction. An explosion just might do it.
Melissa picked up a small shotgun and loaded it. She walked over and looked at the knives, trying to decide which would be most useful. She saw a tactical knife with a leg holster and smiled, picking it up. This'll come in handy, she thought, kneeling down to strap it to her leg and covering it up with her pants leg. "Well, I've got my weapons now," she announced.
Marshall started stockpiling weapons. The boy grabbed a lighter and shoved it into his shirt pocket. Marshall turned to the guns and grabbed a holster and two pistols. He spied a small butterfly knife and grabbed it as well, inserting it into his pocket.
Li admired a fine Halan dao before sheathing it to his waist.
Adding a second handgun to his holster, Atticus nodded and spoke towards Samuel. "I think we're good, where do we go now?"
"The van is parked in the back of the building," replied Samuel. "We're ready to leave — but if any of you need more weapons, we definitely have time."
The group began pouring out of the room, taking note of Samuel's words.
Li admired the shiny black vehicle, a green Alchemilia insignia on either side. The hood ornament was simple: a silver serpent. "Twisting Snake, nice van. Hope the handles aren't too different from my truck." He hopped into the driver’s seat, and checked his mirror.
As Chris climbed into the back of the van, he noticed Atticus wasn't with the group anymore. "Does anyone know where Atticus went?"
"Looks like Steven isn't here either," Samuel commented from the passenger seat.
"What the hell is taking those two so long?" Marshall asked, sweat pouring down his face from both anticipation and the sun's heat.
"Atticus?" Steven called out as he was preparing to leave.
Still in the basement, Atticus turned towards the entrance when he heard Steven calling out. "What is it?"
The man walked over to Atticus. "It's just — Well, let's try to keep this quick. You're seventeen, right?"
"I'm not certain, but I think so. Why?"
Steven began speaking slowly. "Now, I'm sure you know your... relationships are not the same as they were three, maybe, even two months ago. I'm just asking, are you sure it was the best decision to live with Blossom? You're young, and everyone's reaction has not been the best..."
"Can we just focus on the mission?" Atticus replied. "Blossom and I made our choice and we're both old enough to care for ourselves. I don't know why any of you would even care."
"Of course. I don't want to seem like I'm pushing you around — but think about it once in a while, you know?" replied Steven.
"Again, we've already made up our minds. We're not going to change our dec—" Just as Atticus began to speak, he felt a sense of nausea pass over him as the scene of the room changed.
He was in an open and spacious room, illuminated by a bright light that shined through a glass ceiling. In the middle of the area, he could see Steven standing close to an unidentified man. As Steven started to talk — his words inaudible — he quickly cried out in pain as a large fist burst through his stomach, spraying blood over everywhere. With the young man falling over to the ground, dying, a tall figure could be seen standing in his place, the shadows hiding their identity.
Suddenly, the scene faded away and Atticus was back in the room with Steven. Looking at the man, he could barely manage to find words, shocked by what he had just seen.
"Are you alright, Atticus?" Steven asked. "You blanked out for a second there."
Atticus stared at Steven, still at a loss for words. He had been having these visions for the past two months, and they always came true. The visions would manifest at random times when he looked at certain people, he seemed to have no control over it. The first was of a shopkeeper who Atticus saw gunned down in a robbery. A week later, the vision came true. Then he saw his coworker have a heart attack before it happened. There were many more after that, but none of them were people Atticus knew closely. His mind raced trying to decide what to do or say. No one else knew about it: he feared the others would see him as unfit for the mission if they knew.
Blinking, he looked at Steven again. Slowly, he turned away and walked out of the basement, in the direction of the others.
Port City was a fascinating part of Thales. Not only for its boisterous community of sedentary fisherman, but the ability to see the soldiers of Alchemilia first-hand. One of the city's most defining features lay near its border: a magnificent, aging bridge. Most bridges of such caliber were destroyed in the war, however, the bridge's protection under Alchemilia allowed it to stay standing. Port City was a place Li had been all too familiar with. It was where his father raised him. Soon, Atticus, Marshall, and Fontaine would head for the sewers and the others would go onto the bridge.
Samuel looked out into the gray saltwater of the pier, smoking a malura cigar in his leather gloves, keeping his other hand in the pocket of his long, dark trenchcoat. Elsewhere, weapons would be an alarming sight, but Alchemilia was seen here quite often and none of the locals thought much of it. The man sighed, before looking back at the recruits.
"Let's get a move on. You all remember what to do, yes?"
"No, please remind me what we're supposed to do," Marshall shared sarcastically.
"Let's hope John and Atticus serve you well, Marshall," replied Samuel, displeased. He looked to the group that would be going with him. "Li, you'll drive, correct?"
Li walked up to Samuel and smiled. He was dressed in a double-breasted jacket with a stand collar, wearing long gloves and combat boots. Bringing the outfit together, he wore a driving cap atop his head. The costume was pure black - a far cry from his usual attire.
"Absolutely. Back when I was younger, I used to work as a taxi driver. I am experienced at driving."
"And did your taxi driving entail evading potential gunmen and bombers?" asked Samuel.
"I do what I must," Li answered. "Besides, the glass is bullet-resistant."
Melissa looked over at Blossom. "Are you sure you're capable of handling this sort of mission?"
"Of course I am," Blossom replied. "I've been training for months, just like everyone else. What makes you think I'm not?"
"Because you don't seem capable of much," Melissa snapped.
Samuel sighed as he looked towards Melissa and Blossom. He took a hit of his cigar. "Please take into account that your survival will absolutely depend on each other. Now, it's time to stop horsing around. Li, get the car going. Time is of the essence." Li smiled and approached the black van.
Samuel looked to Fontaine, Atticus, and Marshall — the three of them were now dressed in Alchem suits. "With John in your group, I am sure you will know what to do. We will see you soon."
Blossom huffed, walking off towards Atticus as he loaded his guns. She gazed at him for a second, realizing that this moment was quite likely to be one of their last moments together.
"Hey," she spoke softly. As her anxiety began to set in, Blossom grabbed onto Atticus' arm, pulling him into an embrace.
Dropping his weapons to the ground, Atticus wrapped his arms around the girl, placing his hand against her back. "It's going to be okay. We're all going to be fine, just make sure to follow what we trained."
Blossom placed her hand on his cheek, giving him a gentle kiss on the lips. "You know it's impossible for me not to worry. Just be careful, please."
After kissing back, Atticus began pushing away from the embrace. "I know, I know. But we have to do our best. It's time to go now, take care of yourself. We'll meet again after this is over."
"Alright," Blossom replied, staring out in the distance as Atticus picked up his guns and walked off in the opposite direction with Fontaine and Marshall.
John Fontaine looked solemnly at the island, if it could even be called such. It resembled a large gray oil rig with bright golden lights and massive featureless statues of the human face around all four corners. Two large statues of humanoid creatures with serpentine features, both armed with stone spears, stood at the end of the bridge.
Fontaine adjusted his gloves, both bright red, and walked towards a nearby sewer grate engraved with intricate designs and a large A. "Marshall, Atticus, let's go."
Marshall and Atticus followed Fontaine to the manhole cover. Engraved in capital letters, it read:
Marshall looked down and saw two holes. He inserted his fingers into the holes and lifted the cover, pushing it over to the side. The dark-haired boy looked to Atticus, and then to Fontaine.
"Who wants to take the first leap into the unknown?"
Fontaine pulled a flashlight out of his coat, shining it into the sewer. "I'll go first, just follow me." With a thud, he dropped into the dark, still carrying his weapon in its case.
Without a word, Atticus dropped down into the hole, landing behind Fontaine and glancing around at the sewer interior. Once adjusted to the small place, he pulled one of his guns out of the holster and held it at his side. Marshall climbed down the galvanized ladder down the hole and into the sewer.
"It smells like something died."
"It's a sewer, of course it smells bad. Just stay focused, this isn't the time to mess around," Atticus replied.
"So, uh, how's it going with the flower girl?" Marshall asked as the trio continued forward.
"You're one to talk," Atticus snapped. "Last time I checked, you were the one selling flowers and I was 'abandoning' you."
"You're not wrong," Marshall replied. "The moment you saw her, you forgot everything we all went through. I thought we were all supposed to be going through this together."
"It’s not like that, at all. It’s been half a year since we planned this all out. Life moves on. Get over it."
"C'mon, you two, that's enough. There should be an opening somewhere around here that'll drop us right into their tunnel network," Fontaine said, examining the floor with his flashlight.
After they continued walking, they could eventually hear a loud rumbling beneath them.
"Sounds like we’re there," Marshall stated.
Fontaine quickly kicked a metal panel off of the ground, and dropped further into the tunnels. The other two followed, and they continued on to a bright green light.
"Put on your game faces, boys, and act natural." Fontaine continued forward, describing the situation. "Up ahead, shouldn't be too far, there'll be a small station. The underground train system goes back and forth from there to Remnant Rock. Just don't cause a commotion and we'll be fine."
"Are you sure they won't recognize us?" Atticus asked as they walked further towards the light.
"Don't worry," Fontaine smirked. "I planned for this."
Atticus' fears were not assuaged, but the group carried on until they came upon the small train station. Discovering a large crowd of Alchem soldiers gathered before the stop, the two boys stalled frozen at the sight.
"We're dressed like them, so they won't notice a thing if you keep your faces down — and holster your gun, Atticus," Fontaine whispered behind them. Following his instructions, the three blended into the crowd.
The train pulled in and eventually came to a smooth stop. The ‘’Cetan’’. It was a smallish magnetic levitation train, used to transport workers across the island to different sectors. The doors automatically opened and the crowd poured into it, pulling the group forward. "Just find a place to sit where we won't find attention," Marshall grumbled.
Atticus sat in a seat in the back of the train, with Fontaine and Marshall following. The seat was secluded from the others on the train, allowing them some privacy. Slowly after the train started to whirr forward, Atticus closed his eyes, feeling tired from the long walk. His mind kept replaying the vision of Steven's death.
I never got the chance to tell him...if something happens, will it be my fault? Did I have a chance to change this?
The thoughts continued to swirl in his mind, until he heard Fontaine barking out directions. "Lionel! Stop daydreaming, the train has come to our stop."
Recognizing his alias, he quickly opened his eyes, noticing the train had indeed stopped. Standing up, he started forward before Fontaine stopped him.
"Now, once we leave this train, we'll be on the inside of Remnant Rock. We've made it this far. Make sure to follow my instructions, failure will mean death."
As the gray, dilapidated arches of the bridge came into view and the waves of the shore could be heard through the tinted black windows, Samuel thought about the task ahead of him and the others.
They had been driving for some time now, weapons in hand. Li and Samuel sat in the front seats, the others in the back. While Fontaine had told them not to expect anything on the bridge, some were still anxious.
With the anxiety of the mission racking up, Blossom sighed nervously. She had never done well under pressure and the nature of their mission made it far worse.
The silence between the group drifted throughout the car; a pin could be dropped and nothing would be heard. Blossom took a deep breath and remembered why she was doing this — a better life for the future generations of Euclid. She looked up at the towers of the bridge as Li drove the group down it. Atticus' words echoed through her mind. We have to do our best.
Melissa watched the bridge. She checked to make sure her gun was loaded before speaking. "Don't you guys think that this area is a little... too quiet?"
Li chuckled from the front seat, looking in the rear-view mirror at Blossom. "Trust me, nobody is here." Li's words settled in, slightly easing the tension. "Just a straight drive."
Two camouflaged snipers sat high atop the bridge’s suspension towers. Without their specially designed visors, they would have been completely invisible to each other. They eyed the road through their rifle scopes.
"Nobody's here, what's the—"
"Quit it," the other commented. "Just focus and do your job. Something's passing now."
Annoyed, the man looked through the scope of his rifle, zooming into the mysterious black van that passed at a steady pace. A technological marvel, the man could make out quite a bit of the vehicle's interior.
"Never knew we hired soldiers that old." The invisible man carefully looked at the men in the front seats. He briefly looked at the backseats. The other watched. "Where the hell are their uniforms? Are they even old—" a revelation passed the man. He peered in closer, examining those in the vehicle. Familiar, he thought.
"Hey, take a look at this," the man said, frantically.
"It's gonna be nothing, but might as well check anyways." The man looked to his rifle disinterestedly, examining the passengers.
"What? I'm pretty sure we recruit as low as fifte —" As the vehicle passed below them, he saw it. He saw what would grant him a large bounty, a personal grant from Gabriel Alchemilia himself. There would be no need to tell his partner what was so interesting about the passengers — it was impossible not to recognize Chris Wellington and Melissa Devlin.
Chris heard the patter of bullets hitting the roof of the van. "It appears we're being shot at."
"Floor it!" Blossom shouted at Li, startled by the sudden barrage of bullets. "We need to get out of here!"
Melissa grabbed her gun tightly and began looking for where the shots were coming from. "Get away from the windows! Mister Li, you need to pull over somewhere so we can get out of the line of fire!"
Ignoring her request, Li slammed on the accelerator, dodging the obstacles that lay on the road ahead. "I'm doing the best I can!"
"Melissa, are you crazy?!" Blossom replied erratically, "We'll be sitting ducks if we pull over. We need to get out of here!"
"Listen, guys, Blossom is right!" Steven shouted. "We need to get out of here right now."
Eight rounds of ammunition, a pause. Each man unloaded a repeated pattern of four sniper shots into the car; releasing a reign of bullets onto what they considered criminals. Unfortunately for the men and luckily for those in the car, they had not taken their chance to shoot from the front. They could now only aim from the back.
Melissa continued to plead for Li to stop as the car swerved wildly. Then, at once — the backseat windows of the van shattered, sending glass onto the road and into the car.
"What happened to this being bulletproof?!" Blossom turned around, the shimmering glass laying around her.
"Bullet resistant," commented Samuel, unfazed by the situation unfolding. "Just keep driving until they stop. They're immobile, clearly, and we'll be out of range soon."
Li nodded, his shaking hands continuing to steer the car. Let's hope this doesn't end badly.
The snipers continued to shoot, but now their bullets were futile. Outranged by a moving target, their bullets could now only graze the back of the car — before eventually becoming inaudible to those inside.
"Well, shit." Both men threw down their rifles onto their small bay, angered by themselves and their failure.
"Looks like we're gonna have to try something else. Any idea who their compatriots are? Didn't see any warrants for their capture."
"Doesn't matter. Fetch Officer Nabi. Schedule said she's passing by today, so let's give her something to do."
The other man nodded, taking out a silver tablet.
"Looks like we're out of range now. You kids okay?" Li said, looking back as he slowed down.
"Yeah, I think I'm okay..." Blossom looked down, realizing some of the glass pierced the skin on her arm. "Got a few cuts, though."
"I would not consider that okay, but suit yourself," Chris responded.
"I'm fine," Melissa said looking over at Blossom's injuries. "Need some help with that?" she asked.
"I think I can handle it, but thanks," Blossom replied.
"Perhaps we should stop now," added Samuel, who had taken out a manual from the glove compartment. "Are you sure we're good to keep going?"
"Why do we need to stop?" Li questioned, readjusting the mirror.
Continuing to look at the building that awaited them, Samuel responded. "Bullet-hell rained down on us. Let me check the tires. There's a spare in the back."
Not wanting to drive a damaged car, Li obliged. "Be quick, Samuel. Doubt all they have is snipers." Li stopped the acceleration and parked the damaged van near the greenish gray-tinted seawater.
Samuel got out of the car, stretching his arms and keeping his weapon in his seat. The statues at the end of the bridge loomed over him, as if they were the eyes of some god. He looked around the vehicle, carefully examining each tire.
He saw a small gold-plated object ever so slightly pierced into one of the tires. Carefully, he removed it and held it up. "Ha." As he looked at the islands of trees in the distance, Samuel threw the bullet over the bridge and into the water.
Following behind Samuel, Steven stepped out of the van to help evaluate any damage from the barrage of bullets. "Other than the few windows and that one tire, this van doesn't look half bad."
"I'm pretty sure this van should have a first-aid kit," Chris said to Melissa and Blossom. He started digging around in the seat pockets, and was relieved to find some suitable materials. "Will these do, Blossom?"
Blossom took the pack and examined it before deciding. "Yes, thank you," said Blossom, pulling out a pair of tweezers, a few bandages, and a few alcohol swabs to tend to her cuts.
"Let me help," Melissa said as she pulled back Blossom's sleeves to see the wounds better, seeing a few pieces of glass buried into her skin. "Can I have the tweezers?"
Blossom handed Melissa the tweezers before stopping to look at the girl's arms. "Melissa..." Blossom started, "You have a few cuts there yourself."
Samuel continued to examine the black van, removing shards of glass wherever possible. Knowing that it wouldn't be wise to remain stopped at the bridge, Samuel called out to everyone. "We need to get going, best not to be imm—"
Shattering glass was heard, loud enough to deafen the sounds of the pleasant sea. The group perked up, unsure of the sound's source. Before Samuel could provide an audible reaction, a cacophony of inhuman screeches began to approach. An engine could be heard roaring in the distance. As Samuel looked down the road, he could see a brigade of fully gray humanoids approaching.
Samuel quickly ran back into the vehicle, with Steven taking a second to get a better view of the horde before running into the van himself and slamming the door shut.
Looking up at the front of the van and through the window, Blossom noticed the swarm of beings rushing towards them and couldn't help but scream: "What the hell are those things?!"
Forgetting the injuries, Melissa looked upwards to see what Blossom was talking about. The creatures were definitely demons, but they looked different from the creatures she knew. Their limbs had been removed and replaced with crude robotic implants.
"Who cares what they are? We just need to go, go, go!" Li spoke frantically as he slammed on the accelerator, skidding slightly.
"Why are we driving towards the crazy demon things?!" Blossom exclaimed. "If we're going to continue down the bridge, we need to swerve around them. They could kill us!"
Their nails skidding on the surface of the bridge, the creatures dropped to all fours and began sprinting. Upon closer inspection, they didn't resemble demons at all. Rather, they appeared to be human — humans twisted beyond natural limits, but humans nonetheless.
As one leapt onto the windshield, several followed, all of them shrieking like banshees. They began punching it with their metal fists, one piercing the glass.
As the strange creatures continued to jump onto the vehicle, Li punched the horn.
"You rat bastards! Wretched, uh, things!"
Li flipped the windshield wipers on. The skinless creatures leapt back at the noise, clutching their heads in pain. More inhuman screams echoed.
The older man started swerving back and forth, hoping to throw the beings off of the van. "Let's see how you like this!"
Samuel peered out the window, aiming his rifle at the strange creatures. While their agility caused him to miss several shots, he closely attempted to pinpoint what was their "vitals" — their flesh, or their mysterious mechanical implants.
Blossom bit her lip nervously. "What are we gonna do if they get in the car...?"
"We die!" Samuel shouted as he continued to shoot at the beasts.
As the creatures continued to pound against and pierce the windshield, their efforts finally mounted up as the entire thing cracked and gave way, sending glass flying through the vehicle once again.
At once, one of the creatures maneuvered towards the back of the van. Taking advantage of the shattered glass, it thrusted its mechanical arm through the back, barely touching the backs of those in the passenger seats.
"Shoot the ones ahead of us," Chris instructed Blossom and Melissa as he shot the arm of the creature behind him.
Melissa aimed her gun towards the broken windshield. "Mister Li, drive faster!" she shouted as another creature began to crawl through the windshield. She fired her shotgun, causing the creature to fall to the ground.
"Trying to!" The older man drove into a few more beings. They began piling up before individually falling to either side of the van.
Blossom aimed between Li and Samuel, shooting one of the creatures left on the windshield, which left it sliding down the hood. "Bastard!" she shouted. She trembled, realizing she just shot a living being. Taking a deep breath, Blossom continued to check her surroundings for more of the creatures.
"Damn, they're everywhere!" Steven yelled as the creatures continued alternating their strategy. Some attempted entry into the vulnerable back, some continued to try and penetrate the roof. No matter how many shots they took, they would persevere.
"Keep going, they won't last forever!" Samuel was forced to fire at point-blank range, as a creature nearly peered its head through the vehicle.
"Faster, faster." The man looked down the road, the building continuing to come closer. As Samuel worried about what would happen when they reached the building, he looked in horror as a massive wall of flames manifested itself in the distance.
"Wall of flames. Lovely," Li grunted as he drove straight for the crackling flames.
"What the hell! Stop!" Blossom shouted as he drove towards the flames. "Are you out of your mind?!"
"Hope you kids aren't afraid of fire," Li responded as he pushed his foot down on the accelerator and drove closer and closer towards the flames, and then — into them.
|Season One:||Catching Smoke • White Room • Bare Trees • One Night in Gladea • Ceasefire • Hide & Seek • Exit Music • Reunion • In Somnis Veritas • Carpe Diem • Primo Victoria • Don't Fear the Reaper|
|Season Two:||Crumbling Castle • Roaming King • Safe Haven • Marked Map • The Less I Know the Better • Riding the Wave • Centuries of Damnation • House of the Rising Sun • The Master • Everybody Plays the Fool • Loyalty|