“Vensindal!” Rhune shouted
Rhune held aloft the sword it glowed orange then red then blue then white. The sword was plunged into Sche and with a blinding explosion, she was no more. Her blood was sprayed all over Morpheus’ window and all over the street below. Morpheus stood there speechless until Rhune returned to the darkness from whence he came. Morpheus backed away from the window slowly he almost jumped out of his skin when Minion burst into the room.
“Morpheus, are you hurt?”
“No, I think he merely wanted to warn us. You can be sure that he dragged all the information out of Sche about all our temporary hold ups.”
“I suggest we call all field agents it will be far easier to defend one central location.”
Morpheus took another look at Sche’s cascading blood on his window, the droplets had already dried as the larger pools began to congeal. Morpheus looked away and shook his head.
“They will not launch another attack against us, for we are already inside of their homes amongst them.”
“Coma said you wanted Sche dead, I imagine this wasn’t exactly what you had in mind for her.”
“The means does not matter task is complete.”
Back at Halas’ temporary home Rhune reclaimed his discarded clothes and got fully dressed side arms included. Amos caught him as he re emerged from the bedroom.
“Hey Rhune man. Coma and Vule just cracked, they told us about Sche, but how did you know?”
All Amos received from Rhune was a cold icy stare. Amos backed away with his hands raised. Rhune joined the silent Pin who was again at the punching bag.
“Ready to talk Pin?”
Pin emitted nothing but deep breathes and continued to exercise. Despite all his practice, Pin lacked any true grace or form, he was never designed for straight hand-to-hand combat. Despite his best efforts, it was clear he was never going to be any good. Rhune stood there for about five minutes then walked away. Rhune walked straight into Odessa who clearly wanted to talk.
“I just came to say thank you Rhune and ask you a favour.”
“What is it Odessa?”
“Morphium killed Venris and now I am asking you could you help me avenge my brother? I tried it alone and I failed.”
Rhune froze for a moment as the firestorm replayed in his mind and the flashes of Arkane and Julia laying dead. Rhune recovered quickly as an anxious Odessa awaited his answer.
“Don’t let the love of your family cloud your judgment Odessa, but I shall help you, but now I wish to be alone to think.”
“Whatever you say tough guy, but I think you’ll need some of these.”
Odessa tossed over a small box of shotgun shells. Rhune caught the box with one hand, flipped it open with his thumb and pour its contents into his other hand. Throwing the box away, he then secured the shells in the free spaces he had on his leg strap and four more on the butt of the shotgun itself. Rhune looked down and smirked, it was the first time he had used that feature of the weapon and for once the four rings did not look out of place.
“Should prove to be useful.”
“Especially at the rate you use the little bastards.”
“Yes quite.” Rhune muttered as he moved away.
Rhune left the building he did not belong there anymore. However, he would always be a part of the House of Halas until his dying breath. Something Grenich knew he could count on.
“High tailing it again are you?”
Rhune slowly turned around. Grenich was leaning against the archway just in front of the door. He seemed disinterested with Rhune’s predicament.
“Don’t try to change my mind Grenich.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, some other people might have something to say on the matter though so I would watch you back.”
Grenich came away from the wall and walked over alongside Rhune. He held out a sizeable pistol. Rhune was almost taken aback by its weight. There was no ammo feed just a bulky power cell attached to the muzzle.
“What the hell is this then?”
“Its Megalo’s final masterpiece. I think you would have wanted you to have it seeing what you have been able to do with that shotgun of his.”
Grenich smiled and handed over his shoulder holster. Rhune took this reluctantly but then strapped it on in a split second and locked the pistol in its place.
"What’s the catch then Grenich?”
“I know you have your own demons to deal with, but you just took out or leader so you really have no business running off again but since you are I thought you could do with the extra firepower, it will get you home sooner.”
“You don’t know what’s happening to me…”
Grenich brushed off Rhune with a flick of his hand.
“Skip the speeches Rhune, some of these guys are going to come after you and if you use that gun against them I’ll kill you myself.”
“Just pray no one tries to stop me then Grenich or I may have to use Megalo’s legacy against you.”
“I am more then just a gunsmith Rhune as you well know but I trust you, you would be the last person to betray Halas, just don’t forget what that sword means.”
Grenich turned away and went back inside. Rhune walked the streets with the sword at his side. Waiting. Waiting for the moment he would have to kill again and more blood would be spilled with his sword. For death was the only thing that was left in life for the man called Rhune or so he thought.
“Your guilt holds you back my dear brother, I may have to adopt some rather more extreme methods. I will be the own who will make you remember just what that sword truly means.”
Xangcris watched from on high as Rhune wandered without purpose. Xangcris smiled as he lifted the still naked Sche in his one remaining arm. Staring down at the stump of his severed limb and then back at Sche.
“One arm was a minor sacrifice, we must be willing to experience pain if we are to get what we want.”
Xangcris gritted his teeth as his arm slowly regenerated. The tremendous pressure in the bulging veins were hidden as a new armoured gauntlet grew out from his armoured shoulder realigning the sagging metal plates into their former positions. With his body back to normal, he carefully cradled Sche in both arms.
“You took this woman out of lust and anger, she will now provide me with my most powerful warrior yet and if need be I’ll use him against you.”
It began to pour with rain and each crash of lightning offset the intense red glow of his eyes. Xangcris sheltered Sche in the folds of his newly reformed cape as another form joined them on the rooftops. He breathed heavily and stared at Xangcris from behind red goggles.
“You preformed your first task quite well, but I don’t think you’ve created quite enough suspicion. None the less I do have a reward for you.”
Xangcris flicked his head pointing behind him. He turned around to see a massive shock rifle leaning against a skylight.
“You should be able to instill quite a lot of fear with that one.”
He mused over the weapon for a brief moment before hiding it beneath his trench coat. Xangcris laughed as his gunman resumed his place next to him.
“Wave was merely a test of your abilities, your true purpose is to finally put the dream demon to rest much like your creator had hoped. A visionary he was, a little to much of a visionary for one of Dekon’s creations.”
With incredible difficulty and struggling for breath Xangcris’ offsider spoke.
“How was the girl saved?”
“A time stop and slight distortion of reality, one that Dekon will never notice. You may learn such gifts in time however, they are quite draining and hopefully it will not be called upon for some time. For now do not pry into events that do not directly concern you.”
He nodded and backed away. Xangcris’ attentions were drawn to Sche as she began stirring beneath his cape. He turned back to his gunman
“I have little time left, you know what you must do. Wait till he is alone and silence him and no one else till I return.”
Xangcris took a running leap from the building over the edge. As he went hurtling down his cape lagged behind him, briefly exposing Sche’s naked form, still firmly in Xangcris’ hands. His eyes flared and Xangcris vanished from sight leaving his gunman staring down into empty space where Xangcris would have landed. Caring not for Xangcris dramatic exit he turned away. As he walked, he readied the rifle. A loud crash erupted from the streets as a great weight was thrown into a mass of garbage cans. He paid this little heed instead; he merely sat down where Xangcris had placed the shock rifle, ignoring the rain that poured down on him.
“Grenich warned me one of you would be stupid enough to come here.”
Slightly dazed Rhune stood up out of the mass of garbage and crushed metal he shook his head to regain his bearings. Blood Wraith stood before him and bared his fangs with one colossal hiss.
“Grenich knows me very well then doesn’t he just as you know why it is that I am here. I have come to take you back.”
“Listen here you freak, you don’t command me. You’re lucky I don’t just smite you down for what you just did to me.”
“Yes, it is your duty to punish crimes against the House of Halas, yet you abandon it on a whim.”
Blood Wraith clutched the left side of his head as the pain intensified. The formation of words in his mind caused him more pain then all the wounds he had endured in the past weeks. Rhune was not unfeeling towards his pain.
“You’re in no state to fight me go home.”
“Not without you, you have lost your focus and sense of duty and its because of this that we find ourselves in this state at the point of our own oblivion. You killed Sche you must lead us.”
“Don’t lecture me, your very creation was a crime against Halas, I am not going back by your order.”
Blood Wraith wasted no more time with words. His claws sought out Rhune. Rhune dodged his initial attack and drove the side of his hands into the to spots were Wraith’s arms met his shoulders. Temporally numbed Blood Wraith reeled back and shook out his arms to regain feeling.
“Don’t force my hand Wraith you may not walk away from this alive.”
Rhune began to run down the street, Blood Wraith was quick to pursue. Despite the drag caused by his rather gothic apparel, Blood Wraith gained on him with each stride. He drew side on with Rhune effortlessly.
“This is your last chance savior. Make it easy on yourself.”
“Go to hell. You maybe powerful but you would be a fool to think that you could get the better of me.” “If I’m going to hell I’ll be taking you there with me.”
Blood Wraith slowed his stride to keep in pace with Rhune. Each kept their eyes locked on each other as the weaved through the obstacles that littered this city streets. Rhune’s nerve was beginning to break as Blood Wraith’s intense red eyes beamed at him with pure hate.
“Just back off I’m not going back and I am sure as hell not going to be dragged back by the freak show spawned for our master’s darkest hour.”
“I did not ask for this tortured existence but at least I remain loyal to the one’s who granted me these gifts. It was due to the imperfections of you and your contemporaries that I was created.”
For the first time Blood Wraith took his eyes off Rhune as he clutched his head again as the pain of the words became unbearable. His insanity resurfaced as he flung his arms out again and let out a tremendous roar. In a suicide dive, he launched himself, managing to clip Rhune’s ankles, tripping him up. They both quickly got back onto their feet and squared off again.
“You’re pushing it Wraith I won’t warn you again.”
Blood Wraith lunged again with one set of claws outstretched. Rhune jumped back as his claws were swung across collecting nothing but asphalt, ripping from the road. Continuing with this movement Blood Wraith spun full circle and launched the asphalt directly at Rhune’s head. Rhune slammed his hands tighter then threw them apart instantly, creating a temporary energy shield. The asphalt fragments disintegrated upon contact and the shield dissipated.
“That will be your last mistake!” Rhune snarled as he reached for his sword.
Blood Wraith did not back down as the night was once again greeted by the shining metal of Rhune’s sword. He once again lunged at Rhune, who without a second thought brought the sword round to Blood Wraith’s neck but at the pivotal point of contact the blade warped becoming almost a liquid in its efforts to avoid decapitating Blood Wraith. Looping round the back of his neck as it was swung across until the point rejoined the metal. When the sword passed Blood Wraith the distorted metal became a new sharper even deadly edge. All this happened in that brief moment before Blood Wraith’s fist slammed into his face sending him off his feet.
“At least your sword knows it’s place.”
Rhune wiped away the blood from his face as he stared down at his sword. Its shape had changed and seemed larger then before but this was not a time to philosophize he retuned his sword to its scabbed.
“My blade may have turned but my shotgun will not betray me.”
Blood Wraith didn’t even have time to flinch before Rhune pulled the gun and unleashed both barrels straight into his chest. Blood Wraith was thrown to the other side of the street. He writhed on the ground clutching the gaping wounds. Rhune got to his feet and hesitated on the temptation of going to Blood Wraith’s aid.
“You’ll live to fight another day you bastard.”
“How right you are!”
Once again in a berserker rage, Blood Wraith flipped onto his feet. Driven insane by the taste of his own blood he seemed to grow in size as his anger built. He came at Rhune flailing his claws wildly. Each of his attacks was an attempt to strike a fatal blow. Rhune had little choice, kicking Blood Wraith in the chest driving him back, finally getting space between him and Blood Wraith.
“You brought this on yourself.”
Rhune raised the shotgun repeatedly unleashed double blasts of the shogun, pumping in new shells a squeezing both triggers each time. Each blast only seemed to slow Blood Wraith for an instant. Rhune was about to grab his spare shells that were strapped to his leg in a frantic attempt to reload when Blood Wraith collapsed before him. Fourteen shells had ripped through him but he was still breathing and for one of the few times in his life Rhune felt fear, though downed Blood Wraith was regenerating and quickly. Rhune reattached the shell strap keeping the shotgun trained on Blood Wraith’s head.
“Don’t try to follow me or I’ll finish what I started.”
“I’m sure one of your catch phrases is never turn your back on the enemy.”
“Despite my resentment of your existence you are still part of Halas, just don’t force my hand again I will not spare your life a second time.”
Blood Wraith’s eyes were still filled with hate but he no longer had the strength to move. Though he tried in vain, his now twisted limbs were unresponsive. Rhune wavered and replaced the shotgun after reloading it with the spare shells from the rings. Rhune resumed running down the street. In the distance, he caught sight of a small group of bikers who had paused to watch his battle with Blood Wraith. Rhune laughed to himself trying to drive down the fear brought on by Blood Wraith’s undying rage.
“Another free ride.”
Long after the battle, Grenich stood over Blood Wraith’s broken form. His regeneration was well advanced but he still had sizable wounds and blood still ran freely. Grenich placed a hand on the back of Blood Wraith’s head lifting it slightly.
“Can you stand?”
“If I could I would hardly be lying here bleeding.”
The sharp stabbing pain in his head returned as his face contorted with the pain. Grenich took hold of one of his clawed hands.
“Fight it man, that damage should have healed along time ago.”
Pin also emerged from the shadows and through precise hand signals, he told Grenich that he wanted to go after Rhune as well.
“A sniper has only one tactic Pin, if you are not shooting to kill you are wasting your time, Rhune would lay you out just like he did Blood Wraith.”
Pin relented and helped Grenich pick up Blood Wraith and carry him home. For a brief moment, Pin sensed something he paused, forcing the others to stop as well. He surveyed the rooftops but saw nothing. Grenich too could not see what was causing the disturbance. Then emulating Pin’s entrance Xangcris’ gunman walked from the shadows with the shock rifle trained on the trio. Pin instinctively went for his gun by doing so he let go of Blood Wraith cause both him and Grenich to fall as a result the first blast of the shock rifle that was aimed at Blood Wraith raced past them between Blood Wraith’s head and Pin’s shoulder. Pin with gun drawn unloaded but to his dismay, every shot fired was countered with a blast from the shock rifle. Each bullet exploded in a blue sphere of light. Grenich’s mouth dropped as his finally recognized their aggressor.
“Gigra?” he asked in amazement.
“Deth!” it hissed
As both Pin and Deth went to reload, an armoured hand burst in from nowhere grabbing Deth and hauled him away in a blinding flash. Still with gun in hand, Pin stared down at Grenich, who had recovered from the surprise.
“Don’t look so shocked, I knew about you two as well and some others who have yet to see life.”
Inside Dekon’s desert fortress and without Dekon’s knowledge Xangcris slammed his newfound soldier against the cold metal floor.
“What were you thinking? I gave you express orders!”
“Two of those three men are products of my genetic material.”
“More the other way around but that still does not explain your actions.”
Before Gigra could answer, Xangcris’ metal boot found his rib cage. He crumpled with this blow and curled in on himself before trying to speak again.
“I can’t explain, their presence awoke some desire in me I wanted nothing more then to kill them both.”
Xangcris’ rage passed as something new alarmed him in the floor below him. He called for Achturis who after some time appeared and knelt before him.
“Inform Phoenix that I want the one known as Grenich dead and take that vermin with you and get him battle ready.”
“As you wish but why take me from my current task?”
“Something is endangering the unborn and it must be stopped, now go, leave me to my work.”
Once Achturis disappeared with Gigra in tow Xangcris quickly went to the levels below seeking out the disturbance. Seeing nothing more then the naked Artemis wandering aimlessly.
“Child come to me quickly!” Xangcris shouted deeply concerned for her safety
She did not hesitate in going to him, wrapping her arms around his armour tightly. They quickly began to move down to the next level all the while Xangcris kept an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
“We must hurry something else is here.”
Artemis still clung closely to Xangcris as he lead them into a vast open yet barren room only two doors marred them seamlessness of the structure, the way they came in and only other way out. Although hesitant, Xangcris moved towards the other door on the opposite side of the room. Then suddenly and cold shiver went down his spine, Xangcris head shifted slightly temporarily increasing his field of view and in the brief instant with his arms wrapped firmly around Artemis’s waist leapt out of the way of an oncoming war hammer alive with fire. The hammer shattered the sheet metal where it struck the smaller shards melted into pools slag then cooled instantly scarring the near perfect surface.
As the hammer was lifted from the fragmented steel Ratunga drew back allowing the hammer’s form to fade from sight as the fire was extinguished while Xangcirs carefully guided Artemis’ slender female form behind him with the side of his arm. In her petrified state she huddled close to him, dwarfed considerably by his ornate armour. The only thing that broke the silence was the faint chinks in Xangcris’ armour as the metal plates shifted as his body stiffened awaiting a most violent counterstrike by his brother. None was forth coming so Xangcris relaxed slightly but still remained focused.
“The woman child bares another Rhune Incarnate and I shall not allow him to be tainted by their misguided ways.”
Ratunga looked back at him with narrow eyes. With flared nostrils snorting out huge blasts of air he looked not unlike a raging bull but still his aura of coldness hung in the air making the prediction of his actions and reactions almost impossible. Xangcirs motioned Artemis to stand back fearing the worst. In the end, it came out as one sharp statement.
“Focus your mind on the task at hand, we are to fulfill the wishes of our father not worry about the fate of our fallen brother.”
“That is where we are different you chose to lurk in the shadows whilst we fought. By your decree you remained idle even when Vendra was turned against us!”
“All your plans have failed it has now come to me to end Dekon’s madness!”
“No!” Xangcris exclaimed through a deep breath, the Solis Ankh that scarred his face burned as his rage welled within him “ Vendra has been turned, Rhune has been shattered but I still remain, you chose a different path you have no right to guide my actions!”
With a momentary lapse of control Xangcris forgot who he was dealing with and launched his fist swayed deep within the gauntlet of his black armour into Ratunga’s chest the sound of ribs cracking where only drowned out by the sound Ratunga’s subsequent roar. Xangcris stood motionless, as did Ratunga who now held a hand over his heart as a thin line of blood emerged from the corner of his mouth. His breathing was laboured and Xangcris was almost concerned. That emotion soon turned to fear was Ratunga threw out his arm from which erupted a great flame, which in turn forged his awesome war hammer.
“Now little brother you will learn your place!”
Despite his agility, Xangcris copped the full force from his brother’s mighty swing, collecting him on the side of the neck Xangcris was flung across the room. He hit the ground with such force the metal plates that formed his shoulder guards bite deep into steel floor stirring up a whole ocean of sparks as se slowly skidded to a halt. With blurred vision and an unearthly pain raging through his body, he looked back up at Ratunga who still held the flaming hammer.
“We both serve Odysseus why do you, interfere with my goals?”
“Rhune is dead accept it, even if you managed to coax one of his incarnates into trusting you do you think his diluted bloodline will even be able to restore our brother.”
“The Kanon holds the secrets, I can restore him!”
“If you use the Kanon you will go down the same path as Dekon and then you too will become the hunted.”
“I will restore our brother no matter the cost. Would not three warriors stand a better chance against Dekon?”
Xangcris moved into a sitting position resting his head back against the wall as he began to recover from Ratunga’s attack. Ratunga himself did not show the slightest concern for his brother’s current state.
“And you think the fruit of the woman will provide you with a suitable template? I rather doubt it all beings of woman born inherit their weaknesses.”
For the first time Ratunga acknowledged Artemis’s presence staring into her eyes then the minor distortion of her waist that although faint announced she was with child. Ratunga held his the hammer aloft and allowed it to slide down his hand then grasping firmly once more in his hand and in once movement pointed its head at Artemis’ heart. The shifting weight of the weapon moved with impossible grace so much so she was transfixed on its glowing form even as Ratunga once again peered into her eyes.
“You realize once your task of carrying that child is done Xangcris will have no further use for you, and as you taint the Chaosphere with every breath you take you will have to die, Xangcris may even have the honour of doing it himself, maybe after sampling the already soiled fires of your body.”
The spell the hammer weaved was broken and she looked back at Ratunga with tear filled eyes, her lower lip began to quiver as a twisted smile came over Ratunga’s face.
“Maybe I’ll even drink of your divine pleasures myself.”
With her heart pounding inside her chest, she crossed her arms forming an X over her breasts in a vain attempt to comfort and protect herself with her now fleeting courage. This pathetic display did nothing more then delight Ratunga.
“That’s it child feel the fear that only death can bring.”
Ratunga swung his arm out to the side once again taking the hammer by its base. He brought his arm back so that the hammer was held at a forty-five degree angle across his chest. The heat the weapon generated intensified greatly and beads of sweat formed on Artemis’ forehead as Ratunga slowed moved towards her yet her terror prevented her from trying to escape her impending fate.
The only thing that relieved her torment was the sudden reappearance of two glowing red eyes from behind Ratunga. Before he could react the cold steel of Xangcris’ sword slide across his neck. Ratunga paused in mid step but turned his head slightly allowing the blade to break his skin, the steaming blood the ran from the minor wound froze and flaked into nothingness upon making contact with the sword.
“Little brother, it is folly to think you can best me!”
“All I need to do is give her enough time to escape, she will bare that child whether I live or die, but if I am not there who will enable our brother to be reborn?”
“Very well Xangcris have your whore and the others like her, even though they are just as she is a product of Dekon’s vision and their bastard children may yet be the undoing of us all.”
Xangcris pulled back the sword careful not to inflict any further injury. He moved around Ratunga until he stood between his brother and Artemis.
“Is that why you wanted these women dead, you fear Rhune’s return? Or maybe even Rhune himself?”
“I fear none not even Rhune.”
With those words, Ratunga vanished but the heat of his very presence still hung in the air, leaving an uneasy feeling. Xangcris sheathed his sword and turned to Artemis who was still quite visibly shaken. He held out one hand with his palm facing up, awaiting her hand in turn.