From the Story Arc: The Fading Flame

Previous Story in the Arc: Confounded by Dr. Jacob Garvey (Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

Next Story in the Arc: Ad Astra by Seraphym (Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

(posted Wednesday, July 11, 2007)

Vis nescia vinci. "A power ignorant of defeat."

That's it! With a final mighty blow with his fist, Paulie had smashed the last section of the secondary blast-door that stood in his way. It had taken him what seemed like forever, but he was finally through. Now all he had to do was find Johnny, find this Garvey jerk, and get the hell out of---

The first blast struck the wall high and to the right of his head. Faking right, then diving left before he even turned around, Paulie narrowly dodged the chorus of follow up shots. It was a squad of Arachnos troops; a few Wolf Spiders, even fewer Crab Spiders, and one towering Webmaster. All the fighting and explosions must've drawn them there. Crap. Without a second thought, Paulie rolled to his feet and charged them. If he was going to help Johnny, help his friend, he was going to have to pulverize these goons first. The odds weren't good, but he didn't have a choice.

Shouldering into the first two Wolf Spiders in the path of his charge, Paulie tumbled into them, fists swinging. A number of them went down under the withering blows from his bleeding fists, some of them probably dead or dying; Johnny didn't have much time left. He'd worked his way through the majority of the Wolf Spiders and was just finishing one of the armored Crab Spiders when he was hit from behind by eight energy blasts, simultaneously. Slammed into the ground by the force of the shots, Paulie crawled, trying to get clear enough to stand up in fight. He was flipped over by a single armored boot, the kick to his ribs knocking the wind out of him. It was the Webmaster.

"Call in reinforcements to replace our losses. I'll deal with this scum." The Webmaster advanced on Paulie, intent to kill him before he could stand up.

Ugly bastige cheap-shotted me. Cain't have that, can we? Paulie kicked at the Webmaster's left knee hard, dropping the Arachnos goon to the ground. Springing up in a flash, Paulie was ready and in a fighter's stance. Wasting no time, he started striking the downed goon's armor, snapping off the spider leg blasters and punching dents in black metal carapace. It looked like Paulie was going to be able to take this ugly-mutt out; the Webmaster's subordinates weren't going to have any of it, though.

Another volley of Mace blasts slammed into Paulie, scorching his side and back. Thrown across the street, he crumpled into a pile, struggling for consciousness just as his mediporter kicked in. Cheap bahstads. Could've taken 'em...if they fought fair...

With a flash of light and thunder, the beast transformed. It's shape diminished, reforming into that of a man. Soaked in the blood of his own family a hundred times over, laced with burns and cuts, the man looked possessed. Inhuman. "I'm your fault, Garvey. It's over, now. Everything is over."

Standing to his full height, Garvey nodded. "You have made friends with your fellow captive, I'm assuming. Quaint. I hadn't expected that, to be honest. If you keep surprising me, John, it's going to turn into an ugly habit." He sighed, walking around the table. Smoke was already starting to drift into the room; the facility's air filtration system simply was not able to cope with the huge volume of smoke. He looked down at his robotic and skeletonized hands, clenching and unclenching his fists. "It seems that there's something we're supposed to do, now, isn't there? So be it." Garvey dropped down into a fighting stance, lunging a fist towards John. A sickly green bolt of energy flew across the room, slamming into John's chest. He doubled over in nauseous pain, but shook it off. He was already moving, his arms and legs powered by cybernetics crafted by Garvey himself. More energy filled the air, ricocheting off of the walls and floor to splash against lab equipment and computer monitors. John was moving too fast for Garvey to track him, to score a shot against him.

In the space of a second, John was on top of Garvey. White-blue energy and green filled the space between them as they grappled, both men trying to blast each other. John's powers scorched and crumpled Garvey's armor, the concussive blasts shaking them both. Garvey's energies etched into John, leaving swaths of red skin that immediately started to blister and burn; the radiation was lethal, cooking John from within. John charged his entire body with energy, releasing it all in one huge concussive shock-wave. Garvey was slammed into the floor, pinned there as the energy-pulse crackled over his armor. In an instant, John was looming over Garvey. His eyes were wild, and his fists were glowing with unreleased Kheldian energy. John dropped down to straddle the prone doctor, and then started hitting him.

Garvey didn't have time to defend himself, to even raise an arm. And John kept hitting him, and hitting him, and hitting him. Garvey's armor caved in, his life support systems crushed by their housing. His robotic hands were ripped from their sockets and dashed against the wall. And John kept wailing away, slamming into Garvey's face and body. John screamed, raising both hands high above his head, ready to bring them down in a blow that would have ended the mad doctor, killing him now and forever. Still screaming, John collapsed, falling to the side. He thrashed against the floor, and his scream turned to weeping. Garvey was already dead; he just didn't know it yet.

The doctor was motionless, save for a pained smile creeping across his mouth, his corpse-white flesh going even whiter. He gurgled, blood frothing from his mouth. The gurgle changed into a throaty chuckle, punctuated by coughing. "You are finally perfect, John. I may die, now, but know this. You are my perfect creation, and you will live on as such." Garvey was wracked with more violent coughing, blood spraying from his mouth. "You are a survivor, John. You're unique, because I made you unique. You will live on, and my work will be complete." The doctor strained, breathing hard, as he turned his head to look at John. "Omnis una manet nox, John. 'The same night awaits us all'." Gasping, choking on his own blood, Dr. Jacob Garvey died smiling, his eyes going lifeless while looking upon his creation.

John wept, unable to move; he'd healed most of the serious injuries during the fight. He just couldn't see the point in it. He had killed Garvey, finished what he should have done years ago. But his family was still dead. He was still alive, and his family was not. And worse yet, Garvey had still won in the end. There was nothing left for John here, nor anywhere else. So he remained sunk in inertia, watching the room catch fire around him. Beakers and glass lab ware burst as they were engulfed in flames, and stacks of computer printouts went up like oil-soaked tinder. John sat there, staring at the body of his nemesis. He could hear something in the distance; the tromp of boots, a lot of them. Arachnos, here to see what all the fuss is about. He couldn't even muster the desire to fight them, kill as many as possible. He was already worse than dead, anyways; what more could they do to him?

There was a crackle of static electricity discharging, and John found himself surrounded by crimson space-suits emblazoned with the CCCP logo. They had taken up a defensive circle around him, most of the Berkut suit-clad heroes in fighting stances or wielding assault rifles; one of them had a bow that he recognized to be Strela's.

One of the figures broke away from the circle to kneel by John. "Commissar, we must leave here." Sun Kai's voice. He waited for a moment, but John did not respond. Tears continued to stream down his face, but he clearly he was unaware of anything around him. sunk in deathly apathy that he could not respond. Crimson Tao placed a hand against the side of his helmet. "Team leader to Base. Package found, retrieving presently. Send confirmation once signal is locked." The Official reached into a pouch on the suit's utility kit, producing a patch that he slapped firmly onto John's leg. "Affirmative. Package ready for medical extraction." With a shimmer of blue energy, John faded from view, teleported away from the lab. Sun Kai stood up, surveying the destroyed lab. "Squad, time to exfiltrate." The team of Berkut suits cloaked simultaneously, vanishing from view; only Kai's suit remained visible. He looked down at the severed robotic hand of Dr. Garvey, then looked to the doctor's corpse. He kicked it once, muttering a curse in Chinese. Then he was invisible, disappearing like a ghost.