Episode-22: A Breath of Vitality
Date: November 25, 3008
Location: Somewhere on the Ocean of Ossyria
It trickled down, invading the white with an army of crimson soldiers. They poured down the pure plains of despair like an endless tide in the raging ocean of grievances. Yet the plain rolled and undulated, an earthquake of sorrows racking the land. Lily bled.
As if in slow motion, she fell to her knees. Swaying from side to side, she finally crumpled over right into Naz’s awaiting arms. The tears in her eyes were a first, and it scared the living sh** out of me. The incomprehensible was becoming a reality: Lily was dying.
“Son of a b****!” Naz screamed out in pain as he tried to stem the flow of blood with his black-gloved hand. But the army of red poured out with such a driving force, that it seemed to engulf his hand.
“Lily!” Mikhail roared, his thoughts instantly forgetting Fenris who still had the shotgun smoking in his hand, “Lily don’t die!” And amidst it all, I could do nothing but watch, powerless to stop the inevitable. Time claimed everything.
“One down,” a wild snicker came from Fenris’ cackling lips, “one to go!” He raised Maldran’s Spas-12XPL until it was level with Naz’s own temple.
Suddenly, without even thinking about it, I forced the shotgun out of Fenris’ hands, making it arc into the air and straight into Maldran’s hands. Acting upon instinct, he raised the shotgun to his shoulder and yelled for Fenris to freeze. It was over, before I even knew it had begun.
“Ha, come now, Maldran,” Fenris snickered, “You don’t really think a shotgun can kill me?”
“No,” I answered for him. I looked up, brushing my blonde bangs away, revealing my pair of sparkling emerald eyes gazing intently upon Fenris’ own. “But this might…”
In a flash, I summoned one of Lily’s blades up into the air. It floated there for a brief second, above its owner’s shaking body, and then seared through the air directly for Fenris’ heart. I heard a loud curse followed by the sickening squelch of metal slicing through flesh. Then, a small poof reverberated off of the metal walls, and Fenris was gone, leaving the katana imbedded into the opposite wall.
Scrambling over to Lily, I could hear her breath become short and bitter, the dieing throes of a deity. I had seen death before, I had welcomed it. But seeing Lily in such a foreign state made my skin crawl. Something within my blood cringed at the sight of a Shadow Templar bleeding into my hands.
“Naz…” Lily whispered. She trembled in agony, and I thought of a terrified girl hiding in the corner. “Naz… kill that… that bast***…” She winced and blood started to pool at her mouth, trickling down her lips in an unwanted waterfall of red, “Promise me…”
I waited for the rest, but her words never came. Lily’s pulse slowed to a snail-like pace. I felt her soul leaving her body, floating on into oblivion where no human could ever follow. Was it really possible? That Naz was the only one left in the world? That he was the last of the Shadow Templars?
All of a sudden, without hesitating, I thrust my hand into Naz’s cloak and grabbed a syringe of green liquid. With haste, I stabbed the needle into Lily’s arm, injecting the S-virus into her failing bloodstream.
“What are you doing!?” Naz blurted out, his eyes widening in terror, “You’ve turned her into one of them!”
“No,” I replied calmly, keeping my eyes fixed on Lily’s cold face, “I just saved her life.”
“She’s right,” I heard someone agree with me. Turning around, I saw Mikhail stride up knowingly and kneel down beside Lily’s body, “Shadow Templars are immune to the S-Virus remember? But in reality, you two do not really have impervious bodies to the virus. It would infect you and you will fight it off, but there will still be a small window of time in which the virus would take effect. Lily would survive in a zombie-like state until her body fights it off. However, if we don’t help her soon, she will die after the infection is wiped out.” Mikhail paused for a moment, his mind deep in thought, then he continued, “We have to get out of this place… if Lily regains consciousness before the virus is defeated, we have got a serious problem on our hands…”
Maldran perked up, reloading his shotgun with fresh shells, “How serious?”
Mikhail sighed deeply and replied in an ominous tone, “Fatally…”
We sprinted down the hall as if in a marathon, but every turn seemed to lead further and further away from the finish line. Naz was carrying Lily’s body over his shoulder, keeping her still with her left hand and carrying a katana in his right. Our footsteps were like an all percussion symphony, screaming at us from all angles, taunting us with lost words.
After what seemed like an eternity of dead ends and backtracking, I felt a surge of freezing wind creep around the corner of a passageway in front of me. A breath of life from the outside world. But along with it, came the moans of death as we came face to face with a rabble of zombies.
Cursing under my breath, I charged in, whipping out my S-36X2 Seraph Long Ranged Assault Rifle. Thinking of Lily’s condition, I screamed in fury and squeezed the trigger.
Their moaning heads snapped back as pieces of steel shot straight through their rotting brains, splattering a black mess all over the walls and floor. Behind me, the rattle of machine guns told me everyone else had opened fire. Streaks of bright yellow seared past me into the heads of the mindless, blowing their nerves and synapses onto their metal surroundings.
As I came to the first wave of the now dead undead, I jumped into the air, trying as hard as I could to avoid the sticky black blood covering the floor. The smell of rain and sea water seemed so close now, I could almost taste it. Bringing my rifle across another zombie’s face, I heard its jawbone snap off. Without looking, I reshouldered the weapon and aimed it at the faces of another group, instantly destroying everything above their shoulders.
Then, without warning, I slipped on something wet and fell onto my back, sliding across the hallway towards the black end. As my body slowed to a halt, I felt something cold pelting at my face. Opening my eyes, I gave a shout of surprise as I looked up into the grey sky of the storm frowning down upon me. It was not blood I had slipped on, but rainwater.
The whitecaps surged over the balcony. I did not know which level we were on, but it seemed as if something massive had torn a hole stretching from sea level to a few floors above our position. As the others crowded around me, I looked down at the churning waves. It felt so good to be back in the rain, for it reminded me of life. After hours accompanying the lifeless, I needed the breath of vitality.
A final gunshot followed by a dull thud and sickening splatter told me the rest of them were gone for now. A single shell from Maldran’s shot gun clattered to the floor. It rolled towards the edge, then plummeted down into the dark blue abyss, roaring with hatred.
“We have to get back to the island,” Mikhail muttered as he strode into the open rain. He pulled something out of his cloak and clicked it with his thumb. Immediately, the roar of the Silver Talon fell upon the scene, muting out the waves and the constant thunder. The afterburners roared past us and the ramp descended in a hydraulic hiss. The six of us, with Naz carrying Lily, jumped across a small chasm between the ship and the broken balcony into the safe haven. A pneumonic hiss and clamp told me the ramp had slammed shut, and we were on our way up into the heavens once more. Grid 033/092 lay below us like a tomb, a mausoleum bearing witness to the horrors of the dead.
It was quiet, save for the rumbling thunder and monotonous hum of the engines. Naz had laid Lily’s body on a series of seats lining the wall. The blood had stopped flowing, but the stain on her shirt started to become increasingly black. The S-Virus had her now. Only time could tell her fate.
“Hey!” Naz’s voice suddenly yelled from the back, “She’s waking up!”
Suddenly, there was a terrible screech, and Naz’s body thudded against the bulkhead. I whipped around and saw Maldran, Felix, and Damiver all throw themselves on top of Lily’s body, trying to restrain her.
I could feel Lily’s mental capabilities fluctuate dangerously. Her pupils resembled a tiny star now, and her once silver iris was now a murky grey. She gasped for breath as she struggled, trying to break free of her restraining three men who grunted furiously to keep her strapped down. Taking his chance, Naz sprung back on to his feet and rushed over, knocking Lily upside the head, bringing her out cold.
The three men slumped to the ground in exhaustion. I could not blame them. Fighting a Shadow let alone a Shadow Templar required every ounce of strength. Lily’s mind was no exception.
“We need to get her patched up,” Naz muttered gloomily as he threw himself down on a seat next to Lily’s body.
Just then, the engines seemed to shut off, and I felt the ship descend slowly back down to earth. The intercom crackled on and revealed Mikhail’s tired voice, “Naz get her up, we’re taking her to the sick bay.”
With a pneumonic groan, the ramp slid down once more, revealing the enormous cave that we had left what seemed like a year ago. The Silver Talon was now bobbing up and down in the lagoon as we stepped off on to dry, uninfected land. Mikhail led the way up the stairs towards a steel door. He pressed his hand upon a print reader, and a green glow emanated around Mikhail’s hand. The door slid open with a morbid ding, revealing a man inside.
“What have we got?” he asked, but then his eyes fell upon Lily’s limp body, “Oh my god what happened!?”
“I’ll explain when we fix her,” Mikhail shot back as he and Naz laid Lily’s body onto an already prepared sickbed. As the metal door slid shut, I felt a peculiar tie of life being cut off. Lily was at mercy of time, and time only. Anyone else who thought differently was a fool.
With nothing left, I turned around and faced the three men. They stared at me, wanting me to give them something to do, urging me to know what was going on. But I had no clue what the hell was going on. I was a teardrop in the ocean, just going along for the ride. Where we were going, I did not know, and I could feel their minds come to this revelation too.
Brushing past them, I made my way back to the dock. The Silver Talon had once presented an image of glory and honor for EDEN. It had served valorously under Mikhail’s skillful piloting, delivering them all from the brink of destruction. If anything, I should have seen it as the transport of life. But instead, I could only see it draped in a black veil of death, a hearse of solitude.
Unable to stand the stubborn emotions, I fell down on all fours and cried out in anger. My tears dripped into the lagoon and mingled with the salt water of the ocean, disappearing forever along with a piece of my mind.