Elseron walked with the calm and focussed purpose of the warrior he was. Striding down the abandoned corridors with his pale icy eyes scanning every door, every open planned laboratory, every lecture hall, searching for any sign of a presence still in this level. Dante's footsteps suddenly charged up behind him as he changed from the great lumbering bear to his naked human form, scratches and cuts steadily healing across his body as the skin stretched across the bleeding wounds. Sealing the sores flawlessly. 'Anyone?'
'None that I can smell...they all evacuated when I got out.' said Dante with a strange amount of pride in his voice during the last few words.
'That computer thing said Atlas is on the lowest level, Pilot and Eden are on the floor above us, Melody and Arisa are on the third floor. The scientist told me the only way to get in or out of the ninth level was via an elevator in his office on the second level. So we'll get Phaedos, head to the secondary elevators, I'll get Eden and Pilot and you and he carry on up to the third level to get the girls. Then we'll all meet in Zeus's office.' Elseron said quickly.
'Sounds good to me old timer.' Dante said strongly nodding his great mane of hair.
'Phaedos's cell should be around here somewhere.' Suddenly a great blade of pain shot up Elseron's side. Forcing him onto all fours, coughing up thick black blood.
'Elseron!' Dante shouted grabbing hold of him by the arms.
'I'm fine!' the old warrior shouted as the last of the coughing subsided.
'Like f*ck you are!' said Dante with a worried look across his face. 'I'm no expert on your anatomy but I've seen you bleed enough times to know your blood aint' black!' staggering back onto his feet even with the help of his axe and Dante's strong shoulder was one of the most agonising experiences of his life. And when Dante saw the black lines that zigzagged across his arms and chest he froze. 'What the?'
'It's nothing.' Elseron said gruffly shrugging Dante's hand from his shoulder. As he stood a flash of glinting metal caught his eye. Turning he saw a door slightly ajar. 'By the Spirits.' he swore as he walked towards it. Pushing it open a huge vault like room filled with Atlantean armour and weapons greeted him, their silver facades covered in dust from the years of being left stationary. Dante whistled when he followed Elseron into the room, marvelling at the sheer beauty of the weapons, whose blades were still as sharp as the day they'd been made. Zeus wasn't lying. He really has killed dozens of us. Elseron thought running a finger across a sword blade that hung from the wall. Beside it were knives, whips, staffs, maces, great swords, bows and arrows. Every variation of weapon sat in this one room, which could have rivalled even the greatest of weapon vaults back in Atlantis.
'Hey old man,' Dante's voice rung out from the other side of the room. Turning Elseron saw him stood before a small opening in the wall. 'It's some kind of tiny elevator. They must use them to move things through the levels.' Elseron turned to the wall of armour and nodded to himself, slipping his axe through the loop on his belt.
'Take whatever armour and weapons you want then when you've done fill that thing.' Elseron said to Dante.
'The armour won't fit me in my bear form.' Elseron smiled. Picking up one of the finely made chest pieces he'd ever seen he tossed the massive metal vest to Dante who caught it in one hand.
'That one's forged with magic; it'll expand when you change.' Dante tweaked an eyebrow.
'Do you guys make jeans?' Smiling Elseron reached over to a huge create and ripped the lid off. A full suit of finely made plate armour sat in a custom cut foam. This suit was the oldest Elseron had seen so far, finely acid etched with sharp interlocking patterns. Reaching in he took the two pauldrons and placed them on his shoulders, the cold metal prickling against his skin. 'Elseron your armours over here.'
'Put it in the lift, I need speed right now.' Reaching over he picked up two small knives and slipped them through the chains on his forearms. Dante was shovelling suits of armour and weapons into the small lift, duel whips, knives, swords anything that could fit. Elseron noted he hadn't saved any for himself. 'No weapons?'
'My whole body's a weapon.' Dante smiled shoving the last weapon into the small box.
'You sound like a bad action hero.' said Elseron whilst pressing on the small control box, a metal door closed from the wall as the armour and weapons were swept up to the second level.
'You're just jealous cos' your chest's turning into a f*cked up crossword puzzle.' Smiled the massive man wearing his new shiny breastplate. Elseron smiled as they left the armoury, shifting his shoulders until the huge silver pualdrons sat more comfortably. After five minutes of walking voices started shouting up from one of the rooms. Elseron pushed Dante against the wall. The voices sounded scared, panicked. Walking along the bone white wall Elseron peered around the door to see six soldiers stood a good five feet away from a large hole in the floor.
'He's killed them all.' said the jittery voice of one of the soldiers.
'Be quiet! He'll hear you!' hissed the commanding officer who couldn't have been more than thirty. 'When's backup coming!'
'I dunno', coms is down, last thing I heard was the bear and the old man escaped and they were gassing the sector.'
'Did you knock out the coms?' whispered Elseron to Dante who shook his head with a furrowed brow. 'Looks like we're not the only ones out then.' Drawing his axe Elseron walked casually into the room. The soldiers were all looking away from him, so keeping quiet he stepped behind the one at the back of the line. Breaking his neck with a clean motion. Before his body even hit the floor his axe had been buried into the head and neck of three more. Smashing the fifth in the temple with his chained wrist the boy dropped as the commander raised his gun. Elseron grabbed the long barrel of the rifle, pushing it to the side sending the bullets screaming into the concrete wall. Slashing across his throat with his axe a great red smile cut the tanned skin, then a flood of blood sprayed across Elseron. Dripping off his face and chest. Pushing the commander over Elseron left him to bleed to death, turning his attention to the four foot hole in the floor. He couldn't see anything through it apart from the shifting waves of heat.
'Looks like Phaedos made a short cut.' Dante said looking at the hole.
'Stay up here.' Elseron ordered, jumping into the hole he dropped into a horror film. Blood was everywhere! A good half inch of it sat on the floor like a small disgusting ocean, a roaring furnace could be seen through the piles of corpses. A bloodied man shot towards him, Elseron stood shoving an armour shoulder into the man’s chest sending him sliding backwards. Splashing more blood up the walls. Raising his axe just as the man raised his fist Elseron met a pair of deep blue eyes through that covering of red. 'Phaedos.' he gasped keeping his axe in the air just in case. Recognition flashed across the demi-gods face as he lowered his gore covered fist.
'Elseron, I apologise. I...'
'I don't care. Where's Atlas.' he said forcefully. The blood covered god turned. Elseron barely recognised her. Her glorious silver hair was tussled and wild, her eyes red and wide. She sat there. Semi-naked. Her huge golden eyes focussing completely on a small patch of white tile on the floor. Something's wrong. It wasn't something physical. Her wounds were healing; it was something in her face, a strange sense of vulnerability and grief, along with a strange absence of a spark behind those huge golden oceans. 'Atlas.' he said dropping his axe at his feet. Falling by her side. She tucked her knees up against her chest and pressed herself deeper into the corner. 'Atlas my Little Princess...what's wrong?' mumbling to the floor Atlas shook her head. 'My Princess.' reaching to touch her she batted him away. 'Princess,' he said wrestling with her slightly. 'Atlas!' he said forcefully grabbing her wrists. It was the first time she made eye contact with him, her eyes were soft, lifeless, dead. 'Atlas my darling what happened?' he whispered, loosening his grip and moving to grab hold her by the shoulders.
Tears grew along her bottom eye lids. Pearlescent and shimmering in the shifting flames of the furnace. 'I...I didn't mean too...I just wanted him off me...his hands were all over me...I just wanted him off...I just...I...' falling into him she flung her arms around his neck with such force he nearly fell backwards. Weeping huge tears into his neck Elseron held her close, running a scarred wrinkled hand though the matted silver strands of her hair. Shushing gentle into her ear. 'I'm sorry Elseron. I'm so sorry!' she wept. Fighting back his own tears Elseron held her closer.
'I understand my Princess...'
'You can't understand! Elseron! You can't!' she barked, separating from him but keeping her hands on his chest.
'I do.' he said softly. Her face fell softer as great tears rolled down her cheeks. 'Every time you close your eyes you see him, the moment the light leave's their eyes and you understand that this is their last moment of life.' her bottom lip quivered as he spoke. His own tears rolling down his cheeks. 'But my darling this feeling,' he said placing a hand over her heart. 'This...pain. Is beautiful to me. It shows you care. That you regret your actions. Atlas my Little Princess it shows you have a heart, a pure, good, loving heart. To take a life is no easy thing, yet to feel this way, as you do right now. It means you're a good person. A good person forced to do an evil thing.' looking up to him through watery eyes Atlas's golden eyes met his icy blue. 'Trust this feeling my darling, embrace it! Or else you become like me. When killing to me is as easy as breathing. Yet I still see all of their faces. Every one.'
'I didn't mean to Elseron...' she whispered.
'I know my Little Princess. And I promise you'll never have to again.' she fired forward once again, wrapping her arms around his neck tightly. Squeezing her thin, scarred body Elseron held her for several moments.
'I love you Elseron.'
'I love you too Atlas.' he whispered to her. 'Now come. We need to move.' hoisting her up he found the ragged remains of her clothing and covered her in it like a makeshift blanket. Passing her up through the hole Dante took her and Phaedos and Elseron followed. Soon they were running along the corridors, Elseron and Dante at the front and Phaedos and a limping slow moving Atlas a few metres behind.
'The elevators should be just...' a hard mechanical voice interrupted Dante.
'Locking off sector eight. Locking off sector eight.' it said it over and over again over the loud blaring of a siren.
'That can't be good.' said a frozen Dante. Looking down the long corridor they found themselves in Elseron saw the elevators but also saw the thick iron wall descending slowly from the ceiling. The steady rhythm of soldiers boots echoed behind them. 'Sh*t!'
'RUN!' Elseron bellowed sprinting off towards the descending gate. Reaching back inside himself for his magic he met a crumbling wall. Snatches of power leaked through but not enough to stop that thing from moving. So he ran. As fast as he could. Feet smacking the ground harder and harder, until eventually along with Dante they slid under it, Phaedos soon followed them. 'Hold it open!' Elseron bellowed gripping the underside as he rose. The metal wall didn't slow as he pulled against it. Dante changed quickly, digging ten massive claws into the metal and pulling upwards with all his strength. Lactic acid burned as Elseron heaved and tugged with all the strength he had. But it wasn't enough. 'ATLAS! HURRY!' he choked out through gritted teeth.
'She isn't going to make it.' Phaedos said as he looked through the gap. 'Find the rest and get out of here! I'll get her out.'
'What?' before he had an answer Phaedos ran at the wall then dropped onto his back, flying through the twelve inch gap. 'NO!' Dante roared along with Elseron until the strain was too much. They released together and the wall hit the floor with a solid thump! Taking his rage out against the metal partition Elseron screamed and yelled, reaching back for the magic that could save Atlas but still remained dormant. 'DAMN IT!' Dante changed back into human form and pressed his head against the metal.
'I warned you Elseron,' said an all too familiar voice through the walls. 'You would die here.'
'Zeus?' Elseron asked the air.
'Yesss. Well done for getting that right at least.' a shadowed face on a date panel by the elevator appeared. The two men approached carefully. 'If you're wondering who you killed it was a body double of mine, very useful things for a man in my position. You should know your friends are dead, your Queen soon will be and the elevators on your floor have been deactivated and a lethal gas is about to be pumped into the entire sector.'
'Sir a huge pack of werewolves is attacking our above ground facility.'
'Oh. Must go Elseron. Nice speaking with you.' with that Zeus disappeared leaving the useless controls for the lifts on the data panel.
'The Blood Claws.' Dante said checking the panel. 'He's right. They're dead.' With a war cry of bone shuddering ferocity Elseron broke the barrier surrounding his magic and let its full power run through his. Blue lighting cracking in his eyes and around the chains. Punching the panel the thing cracked but not before a huge surge of electricity shot through the controls. The elevator doors slid open with a ping.
'I'm getting her back.' he said to Dante, voice undulating violently.
'Fair enough. You get Pilot and Eden, I get the girls, we all meet in Zeus's office, go get Atlas and Phaedos, escape the soldiers, escape the wolves, escape the facility then go home. How hard can that be?'