The demon howled in pain as the Frogmasamune swung in a downward sweep, snapping its leg in half. As the demon stumbled, the sword swept around again, slamming upward into its chin and shattering the thing's face. But Christina didn't pause to make certain it was dead as she instead turned and cast out her hand, throwing out a bolt of lightning. It was small, but it was enough to fry the little bat-like creature that came too close. She took a moment to glance over to see how her allies were doing.
Off to one side Lucca, the one she was familiar with, was casting fireballs, and the scent of burning demonic flesh was thick on the air. But it took a lot more than one fireball to take out a demon, so the progress she was making was very slow. On Christina's other side, the other Lucca, her mother, was taking on all comers with only her hands and feet, so she should have been taken down long ago, but she was moving so quickly, and striking with so much power, that the demons could barely touch her. Up in the air, floating above the others, Janus was throwing spears of ice, jets of water, jets of fire, and anything else he could think of to hold off the demons while the others defended themselves directly. He was conserving energy, and Christina wondered just how weakened he'd become, fighting his wife. She noticed he was only using one hand to cast his spells, the other limply hanging at his side.
Suddenly, it was over. The last demon died with a shriek as one of the Lucca's smashed its head in with her bare fist, and all was silent. Janus lowered from the air, breathing heavily from exertion, as they all stared about warily, looking for more trouble. But none came. The dead demons were already melting, forming a pool of hissing blackness around the party. Janus raised his good arm and pointed toward the Generator, and all of the black goo between him and the machine moved aside, creating a small path for the four to walk along. The path closed behind them as they did so, until they were free of the area, and were standing before the Generator.
They simply stared at it for a moment, as it worked silently, siphoning off
the life energy of the Hellbound in the capsules. "Well," Janus
muttered, "What now?"
"I... programmed it originally," his wife whispered. "While I was under their control. I... think I can shut it down."
They all turned at a sudden laugh. "I think not," Adom told them,
standing near the door through which Parsa had left. They hadn't been able to see him
clearly earlier, but it was now obvious that he had a large scar on one side of his face, from where the Magus had burned him. He continued, "You can't
shut it down. I won't let you."
Christina could see her mother tense in anger and... fear? She replied, "You can't stop me, Adom."
He chuckled. "Of course I can. I own you."
"No, you don't, Adom. You never really did. All you had was my body. Every time you touched me, I screamed in my mind." She smiled, but her eyes showed pain. "And you never really were that good in bed, Adom."
Adom's eyes were narrowed so much in anger, they were almost closed. "You'll pay for that little remark. But you're wrong. I can stop you. Stop you all." He slowly pulled his chain whip away from its place on his belt. "I may not have any magic, but I do some tricks up my sleeve. Code: Foul Play," he yelled, and suddenly the green light emanating from the capsules shut off, plunging the room into total darkness, with the exception of a single console on the Generator, which glowed red, just barely illuminating the four Travelers. At the same time, the entrance to the room and the exit in which Adom had been standing slammed shut firmly, and made several clicking noises that sounded like locks.
Adom's harsh laughter echoed throughout the area, as if from everywhere at once. "Now we are in my element, fools. The darkness is my home. In it, my power is supreme. I shall crush you all!"
"Screw that," Christina muttered, and lifted the Frogmasamune. It
began to glow a soft green, illuminating the area around them, then suddenly the
light shot out, blinding everyone in its intensity, dispelling all shadows. Because of her cybernetic eye, she was the only one able to see Adom fall to
the ground from mid-air, as if he had been floating in the darkness. Desperately, he shielded his face from the blinding light, like a child
hiding from a bully. Christina walked over, her human eye closed and her other eye looking through the hair that covered it, and grabbed him by the shirt, lifting him to his feet. She held the sword to the side of his neck, and it dimmed, enough to dispel the darkness, but also enough to allow everyone to see again.
Adom's eyes opened, and they were filled with darkness and hatred. Then he looked down and saw her mechanical hand, holding his shirt. And his face lost all its color. He looked to her determined face, as if searching for something. "You," he whispered. "It's you..."
Christina arched her visible eyebrow. "Of course it's me. We met before, Adom, when you tried to kill me and Rakin. Now I'm going to return the favor, unless you tell me how to get out of here."
Adom was shivering violently, and a glance toward her mother told Christina
that she didn't know why he was acting as he was, either. "I-I-I didn't
know it was y-y-you," he stuttered. "H-h-how'd you find me here? I left you
far behind. How'd you follow me?"
Christina's eyes narrowed. There was something wrong here. He hadn't been so scared when all of the others threatened him. But now that she was threatening him personally, he was acting like she was someone else entirely. "What the hell are you talking about? I'm just here to stop Parsa. Now, where is she?"
Adom was still looking at her face, but it was like he was looking past her, like he was seeing something she didn't. "You said you'd come for me again, but I didn't believe it. I didn't think you'd know. You look different, but I can tell it's you. Please, don't kill me. Parsa's already underground. She's waiting for her children, the new Lavoids, to awaken. They'll leave the planet soon." His eyes closed. "Please don't kill me again. I'll do anything you ask. But I won't die again."
Christina was somewhat confused, but tried not to let it show. He obviously thought she was someone else, and whoever he thought she was scared the hell out of him. Perhaps the one who killed him the first time? She looked down at her hand. He'd gotten frightened when he'd seen the hand. Maybe he was thinking of someone else who had the same thing done to them. But as far as she knew, Christina had been the only person in her time period to have it done to her. She shrugged, mentally. Whatever the case, he was certainly willing to give up information, now. "Alright," she agreed, trying to sound as tough as possible. It wasn't hard. She was angry. "If you give me all the information I want, I'll let you live. First off, how soon will Parsa's children leave the planet?"
"We're not sure," Adom replied quickly. "It's estimated to be about four hours, but we can't know for sure. I'll take you to her, if you want." After a moment, she nodded, and he looked relieved. She let him drop to the floor, and he muttered, "Code: Cancel." Immediately, the light from the capsules returned, and the two doors opened. He started toward the exit, but Christina placed a hand on his shoulder. He turned slightly to look at her.
"One more thing," she whispered, her expression grim. "What
happened to Rakin?"
Adom stiffened, and shook his head slightly, his eyes pleading. "No."
"Tell me," she demanded.
Adom looked more and more desperate. "I can't. You'll kill me."
"Tell me," she repeated, her expression dangerous.
Suddenly Adom shoved her aside, pushing her to the ground. She sat up, only to find that he had run rather than try to attack her further. The other three Travelers, who had been paying close attention to the conversation, all tried to capture Adom, but he was through the exit before any of them could get close enough or cast a useful spell. Janus turned to his daughter, who was now on her feet. "Come on, let's go. He's going to warn Parsa! Lucca, you stay here and try to shut down the Generator." His wife nodded, and the three Travelers ran through the door, and into the adjoining
Same Time Period
Adom turned the corner, only to run directly into Parsa, who only avoided falling through the use of magic. Adom fell, but scrabbled back up again and was about to continue running when Parsa grabbed him by the throat, and slammed him against a wall, her magically-enhanced strength holding him there, even as he struggled to escape. "Where are you going," she demanded.
"Underground," Adom gasped, trying to control his rapid heartbeat and get air through the hold on his throat. "Please. She's after me. She's come back for-"
"Stop babbling, you fool!" With her other hand, she backhanded him. "Why are you running? You can summon more demons."
Adom shook his head as best he could. "Wouldn't help. They can take out a hundred of them. And they're going to shut down the Generator. I can't stop them! You can't stop them! I'm going to die!" His breathing started to slow, but he looked no less frightened. "I've got a plan to destroy them. But I can't do it here. They're too close. I need time. Take me underground."
Parsa read the fear in his eyes, and wondered what had terrified him so much. "If this doesn't work, I'll kill you."
Adom looked utterly serious. "If it doesn't work, she will."
They turned their heads to one side as they heard the Travelers running down the hall, but they had teleported away when the three figures passed through. When they reappeared, they were underground, in a long tunnel which ran directly under the Red Omen. Parsa released Adom, and he stepped away, struggling to breathe normally.
"Well," she demanded. "What's your plan?"
Adom took a deep breath. "I'm going to summon a demon."
Parsa gritted her teeth in anger. "You just said that they could destroy a hundred. What good is one going to do?"
"It will destroy them, and all of our other enemies. It will be unstoppable
and I... We will control it utterly."
Parsa raised an eyebrow. "What's the catch?"
"It... Needs a body." He gritted his teeth. "But I'm willing to give it my body if I can avoid death." And Adom dropped to his knees, beginning to concentrate. A black circle, the size of a marble, appeared in the air before him. And, as he concentrated, it began to widen.
No, Damien gasped, though there was no real air to inhale. It was simply a gesture of shock. I cannot believe it! He can't be willing to interfere so directly! Then he realized, Of course he will. And unless I can find a way to interfere, he just might put an end to all that's happened. He shook his head. I can't allow that to happen. All I need is an opportunity...
Lucca's eyes were glued to the singe screen as her fingers typed so fast that they hurt, that she was surprised the keyboard attached to the machine didn't break. Then again, she had made it, and she made things to last.
She gasped as the screen suddenly changed. It flashed red, illuminating her face in one-second bursts. She pressed a button, and nothing happened. She tried to type something out, but nothing changed. Her eyes widened, and she turned around. Considered simply leaving the Red Omen, and abandoning the three Travelers. And she ran toward the door, after her husband, her daughter, and her alternate. They would need to be warned. Someone had added a program to the Generator without her knowing. As she ran down the hallway, she silently counted down in her mind. 19:45... 19:44... 19:43...
Same Time Period
The three Travelers ran on in silence. They had found the entrance to one of the underground tunnels not too long ago, and were now trying to navigate their way through the dark maze. Christina's cybernetic eye had spotted a strange energy signature coming from one area and assumed it to have something to do with Parsa and Adom, so she took the lead, and Janus and Lucca were happy to let her, as her sword provided the only light for the party. They all stopped as one of the tunnels ended abruptly, not at a normal dead end, but at an unnatural one. There was a barrier of energy blocking the path, from ceiling to floor, which Christina soon recognized as
the source of the unusual readings her eye had picked up.
Slowly, Christina approached it. The energy was like nothing she had ever seen before. It was blue, and flowed downward in a constant never ending stream, like a ripple. She turned as Lucca walked up to it. Lucca hesitated, the abruptly put her hand against the energy, before Christina or Janus could react. Her hand touched it, and... stopped. As if it were a solid wall.
Lucca nodded to herself. "The same stuff we stood on when we fought Lavos," she whispered, as if greeting an old friend... or nemesis.
Christina considered this silently, but was caught by surprise when her sword suddenly jumped to the side, pulling her arm along with it. It was aimed at a nearby tunnel, and she had to use all her strength to keep it from flying away. "What... the hell," she managed through gritted teeth. A voice spoke in her mind. A familiar voice. There is something... evil, there, Frog's voice told her. 'Tis powerful. No doubt 'tis caused by Adom or Parsa. Christina nodded, and, after explaining to Janus and Lucca, they set
off, the sword leading the way.
They stopped again as they came to another tunnel, dead-ended by the same energy field. Apparently, the tunnels all led to the same place. But in this tunnel, two figures were between the three Travelers. Parsa stood before them, an arrogant smile on her face, utterly unconcerned. Behind and to her left, with much less confidence, stood Adom, and behind him was a black portal, human-sized. It seemed to suck the light from around it, to feed its ever-swirling depths.
"Welcome," Parsa said, false politeness evident in her voice. "I'm surprised you've gotten so far. But I'm afraid I can't allow you to harm my children. You go no further than here. Now you must die." Her smile widened. "Unless, of course, you wish to join me? No, I didn't think so. In that case," she turned to Adom. "Do it."
Adom nodded. He took a moment to gather his courage. Then, with a yell, he cast his hand toward the portal. The room was silent. Nothing happened. Then, without any sound or warning, something came out of the portal. And it scared the hell out of everyone present.
It was shaped like a man. However, details were impossible to provide
because it was dark, darker than the portal behind it, darker than the type of darkness where you can't see your hand in front of your face. It was
utter darkness, darkness that looked as if it had never had nor felt the need for light. The portal shrank into nothingness behind it. It turned to
Adom, and spoke.
Hello, Adom, it said, and its voice was horrible. It was the voice of a thousand children screaming, of hideous laughter, of metal grinding against metal, of bones being crushed, and a hundred other things that nobody ever wanted to hear. It continued, Are you ready to accept me?
Adom nodded. "Yes, great Gaston. Give me true immortality!"
Parsa's expression was one of shock. "Immortality? You never said anything about that!"
Adom smiled. "You didn't ask. From this point on, I no longer need you, or your power, to survive. I shall live forever!"
"No! Only I, Queen Zeal, can have immortality," Parsa screamed, her eyes filled with madness. "Come to me, instead, demon!"
Adom froze at this unexpected development. He turned to stare at the demon, desperation in his eyes. The demon looked back and forth between the two. It let out something that might have been a chuckle, had it not sounded so hideous. Deal, it said.
Faster than the eye could follow, the demon jumped at Parsa. Her back straightened out as the demon grabbed her by the face. Ripples of darkness emanated away from the two forms, each one causing Parsa to convulse. Stare into my eyes, the demon demanded. Though nobody else could make out any eyes on the creature, but Parsa focused on his face as if the eyes couldn't be missed. The demon wavered slightly, like smoke. As they watched, he became more and more immaterial. Parsa could only stare as the creature lost its form completely, becoming black smoke. She screamed, as she realized what was happening and the smoke gathered together, and struck out towards her face. Her scream continued as the smoke flowed into her ears, her eyes, her
nose, and her mouth, forcing its way in, burning her with its sheer coldness all the way. Suddenly she stopped screaming, though her mouth remained open. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head, and her eyelids slid closed.
She stood in place for a moment, though nothing really held her up. Blood no longer flowed in her veins, and she lost all color. Then, she had been a puppet whose strings were cut, she collapsed, her face striking the cold stone with a soft thud.
There was no sound for a long time. Everyone was still. Finally, Janus asked aloud, "Is she... dead?"
"Yes," a voice announced, loud enough to fill the tunnel from end to end. It had a feminine tone, but sounded utterly inhuman. It was harsh, and sounded almost like a growl. It spoke again, this time sounding more human, and very familiar."She is dead."
Slowly, Parsa's arms rose from the floor, and the hands were placed palm-down against the cold surface. Inhumanly graceful, the arms pushed, and her upper body lifted upward in a smooth push-up, though her head still hung down, her hair brushing the floor. Suddenly, her feet pushed off the stone, while her upper body stayed in place, so that the legs came up under her and she was in a strange crouch. Her head snapped up then, the brown hair flying away from the face that had once been beautiful. It still was, but it was no longer alive. It was pale, and the smile seemed to express contempt beyond even what Parsa could have felt. The eyes slowly rolled forward again, so
that the irises were visible. The pupils were so small as to be nonexistent, as if the light in this cave was far too much to deal with.
The eyes focused on the Travelers, ignoring Adom. The voice, which now sounded so much like Parsa that you had to listen carefully for the difference, continued, as the dead lips moved, "Well... Mostly dead."
"Shut the hell up and die." -Jack Random, Deathstalker Honor
To Chapter 84
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