From the Story Arc: The Fading Flame

Previous Story in the Arc: Metamorphisis by John Murdock (Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Return by John Murdock (Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

(posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

Liberate Te Ex Inferis. "Save yourself from hell."

Garvey was so caught up in preparing the operating room for the first round of tests he had planned for tomorrow that he nearly ignored the warble of a warning issuing from his main computer. Setting down the bone saw he was busy sterilizing, he casually walked over to see what crisis needed his attention now. He had to read the screen three times before the words registered.

Specialty Subject Room: Energy spike detected
One subject, escaped. One subject, unknown.
Command: < ? >

Garvey's mechanical fingers flew over the keyboard, punching out commands. A window opened on his monitor, linked to a security feed in John's cell. John Murdock wasn't there. But a strange creature that Garvey had never seen before was. The beast, easily seven or eight feet tall, was bipedal and carried two huge wings on its back. Before Garvey could take in the image any more, the creature lashed out directly at the imbedded camera. The image on his monitor instantly turned to static. Slamming the keys as fast as he could, his panicked typing produced another camera, in the same room; it showed an external view of John's cell. The beast became transparent...and then passed through the energy barrier.

For the first time that Garvey could recall, sheer panic gripped him, sending ice into his belly.

Quod huic deest me torquet. "What this creature lacks torments me."

The beast trotted out of the holding area, bashing through the heavy metal door as if it was made of kindling. Its luminescence lit the hallway before it, revealing that the hallway was bare. Turning a corner, the beast found itself confronted with a much larger hall; on each side there were double-stacked energy cells very much like the one it had just escaped from. This...was a trap.

In a crackle of of static discharge all of the energy mesh barriers deactivated. Inside of the beast, a man's mind screamed in anguish as the inhabitants of the cells came pouring out. John Murdock saw his sons, his daughter, and himself, copied dozens of times over. The beast didn't heed his protests; it was a thing of action. A thing for War. Even as the clones of his family began to ignite the flames granted to them by his inherited power, the beast did not pause. Claws flashed, rending flesh, bone, and organ. Familiar faces were drowned in waves of carnage as the beast waded through them. Flames danced around the room, bathing everything in a horrible orange glow. The revenants of John's family died by scores, their bodies broken and torn asunder, and sometimes burned by one another in their haste to destroy the beast.

Even once outside of the great hall, the fight continued. The beast had a goal, and the only way to reach it was to smash through all obstacles. The revenants clung to the beast's limbs, igniting flame as often as they threw themselves bodily at the beast. It stomped and crushed, ripping a bloody hole through them. And they kept coming, kept following. Uncaring as the beast.

The fires started by the clones' powers wove their way through the facility, following the destruction wrought by the beast. Lab equipment, chemicals, papers; it all burned, sizzled, and charred. But it was closer. It could feel the disgust, the surprise, and most of all the fear coming from its target. Heat licked at the beast's wings as it ran forward, rushing through the narrow hallways and cluttered labs. The fires were filling the air with smoke; the clones were all dead, but the fruits of their short-lived power continued on. Finally, the beast was there; the last door. Roaring, it raked the heavy blast-door with claws, Kheldian energy and raw strength ripping through the dense metal. Charging its fists with more energy, allowing it to build and build, the beast slammed the door a final time with both fists. Ripping free of its mooring, the door shattered and flew inward, shrapnel cutting through everything in its path.

Beyond the wrecked threshold, there was Garvey. He had taken cover behind a cluttered table. Slowly rising up, he looked incredulously at the beast. "What...are you?!"