01 Feb I’m a guard stationed at a Secret Government Prison Part 9
It was the only word that I could muster out upon encountering the incomprehensible pressure that had just filled the space around me.
The kid… wasn’t himself anymore. I was starting to understand. It wasn’t his own power that he had a hard time trying to control. It was something residing inside of him.
As his metamorphosis continued, he’d become only about a head shorter than Kentay. His form was also fluid, while remaining solid at the same time. Like a floating, gaseous form that vaguely resembled a human.
Afterwards, his original dark-grey color quickly began morphing into a blinding, golden light. After about 5 seconds, his dynamic body finally settled on a concrete form. There was only one word I could really use to describe it:
Tall and lean, with thick, flowing hair that extended down to his shoulders. He held a lance seemingly composed of sheer light, along with a complementary shield. He had armor on, albeit minimally. Just chest/shoulder plating, along with a pair of knee-length shorts.
The potential origin of such an entity was lost on me. The mere presence of it evoked a sense of awe, danger and beauty all at once.
Surprisingly, Kentay began smiling at the sight of Ajay’s transformed state. A bloody, ear-to-ear grin devoid of any humanity at all.
LOOKS LIKE THE EVIL’S FINALLY COME OUT! He bellowed, before bolting at him.
Ajay’s warrior form managed to counter all of Kentay’s initial attacks, before delivering a brutal sequence of his own.
He slashed Kentay across the stomache, creating a deep gash, before impaling him through the torso and smashing him through a metal side beam.
Still… I couldn’t get too excited. The whole situation seemed oddly familiar:
Kentay encounters an enemy initially more formidable than himself and gets beat down at first, only to end up massacring them in the end, regenerating nearly instantly, while also getting bigger and stronger in the process.
We were going up against rapid evolution, which was one of the worst powers you could possibly hope for in an opponent.
In any case… it seemed as if Ajay was intent on finishing the job early, which was really the only option here. He took his lance and swung it with inhuman speed, slashing Kentay more times than I could possibly count.
It was a gruesome sight as blood gushed out from every inch of his body, staining the metal beneath him red. Ajay went for another stab, but this time, Kentay managed to deflect the blow and close the distance between them.
“GOT YOU!!”” He screamed.
He was wrong.
Ajay took his palm and rammed it into Kentay’s neck, causing him to spit out what looked like a gallon more of blood. Ajay then took the butt-end of his lance and drilled it into the side of Kentay’s cheek, puncturing it all the way through.
“Fuck…” I muttered at the gruesome sight.
Of course, Sandhu didn’t seem too surprised. He’d seen this before.
But at the end of the day, the only thing that mattered was getting rid of Kentay right then and there.
Ajay grabbed his lance and pulled it down, creating a massive gash down Kentay’s cheek down to his jaw, ripping through his gums and breaking teeth in the process.
But even that wasn’t enough. Kentay howled like a maniac and managed to grab Ajay’s neck, ripping a good chunk of his flesh out.
Ajay reeled, but was still able to thrust the lance straight through Kentay’s torso once again.
Still not enough. Kentay swiped at Ajay’s head, twisting it around completely.
At that moment, I was sure that he was dead. But Sandhu didn’t seem all too worried yet.
Another blinding flash of light burst from Ajay’s body, before he seemingly morphed again, taking on a new form entirely. This time, he resembled an archer atop an armored horse, still with the golden aura surrounding him.
I remembered something. Each Void had an official description assigned to it for database purposes. Most of them were a few paragraphs long, save for Ajay’s.
His was short and vague, containing only one short phrase:
The Warrior’s Spirit
I never knew what to make of it before, but I was starting to understand now.
Ajay directed a flurry of arrows at Kentay, sticking him with about 6 of them. However, that form was also quickly obliterated as Kentay dragged him down from the horse and stomped his head like a watermelon. Another flash of light. This time, I closed my eyes.
Upon the death of one form, he began cycling through others, manifesting into various warriors from throughout history. A hulking, powerful Viking. A skilled, relentless Zulu solider. A fast, unyielding samurai, etc.
With each transformation, he dealt Kentay more and more damage.
But that was the problem. Kentay just kept getting stronger as a result, and Ajay couldn’t seem finish the job. After 5 cycles, Kentay was bordering on the size of a house, with his veins resembling steel pipes.
He picked up another of Ajay’s warrior forms by the neck and began taunting him.
“I know evil. I’ve seen it. And I’ll never lose to it.”
Using a single arm, he lifted him up and slammed him into the ground.
“Years of destruction and rebirth. Forced evolution. Surviving the abyss that lies before death over and over and over again until enlightenment is forced onto you.”
To the uninitiated ear, that might’ve sounded like the ramblings of a madman. But to me… it yielded a daunting realization. Sandhu recognized it as well. I could the horror in his eyes.
Throughout history, humans have done too many cruel things to each other to possibly count. And for what reason? Well, that list is unending.
But even amongst the dark sea of bloodshed, warfare and torture… there’s one brutal practice that stands out from the rest.
The true origins of it are a mystery, both in date and location. Some believe it was developed by the Aztecs. Some by the Spartans. Mongols, Ming dynasty, Roman Legionaries, Nazi Germany, some even claimed that some modern militaries still made use of this practice.
The only thing that we know for sure was that it existed. And it sounded horrific.
I’m sure it goes by a lot of names, but the one given to it by the Government is:
”The Evolution Ritual”
In my opinion, that name doesn’t do its sheer brutality justice.
I’ll try to paint a picture:
Imagine an empty, medium-sized concrete room devoid of any windows, illuminated only by a few dim lightbulbs above. Fill that room with about 25-50 men specifically selected due to their exceptional combat prowess. (Fighters, soldiers, mercenaries, etc.)
Now, seal off the all exits and inform the “subjects” that only the last man standing will be afforded the right to leave. Leave them to fight to the death. Conduct hundreds (or however many) of these deathmatches at once. Next, divide the winners into smaller groups and repeat the process until only the last men amongst hundreds, or possibly thousands are left.
Next, seal those men off into a dark, confined space for 50 days. No food, water, or any kind of stimulus.
The ones that managed to survive all of this are the “successes”.
The conjecture went as follows:
If an individual’s mind and body managed to endure such a torturous gauntlet, they would’ve eclipsed some kind of threshold. Undergone some type of rapid evolution. These were the men with exceptional latent potential. The ones who possessed something more than conventional strength and willpower. Under such drastic circumstances, their minds will have tapped into a reserve of power beyond human physical and mental limitations.
I’m gleaming over some details, of course. But that’s the gist of it. Sounded like bullshit science to me, but hey, what the fuck do I really know at this point?
Sandhu and I learned about the existence of this ritual following an internal breach of information that was even classified for us. We also learned that some time after world war 2, a unit of soldiers and intelligence officers came across the aftermath of one of these rituals in a large, remote and decrepit building somewhere in the Thar Desert after the White House received some kind of obscure “message” containing a pair of coordinates.
Inside, there were upwards of 1100 human skeletons, all scattered throughout various rooms in the structure. The strangest part? There was a set of small chambers at the center of the building, where 6 emaciated, horribly scarred men where shackled to the walls.
However, while certainly dead, they hadn’t even begun decomposing yet.
Well, except for one, that is. One man was still alive.
This mysterious figure was dubbed “The Unkillable man”.
To this day, we have no idea what kind of organization conducted the ritual, or who sent the coordinates. And the biggest question… “why?“
I’m getting off-topic here, though. We also couldn’t figure out who this mysterious unkillable man might be. And although it was by no means definitive… we now had a clue.
Before Ajay could get another word out, Kentay “killed” him again.
By this point, I’d regained some movement in my limbs, which allowed me to crawl over to Ken and Sandhu, who was now certainly looking worried.
“Sandhu…” I said. “How many… transformations… can the kid go through?”
He just shook his head. It looked as if he knew the answer but didn’t want to say it.
I looked over, watching as the kid – who’d now become some kind of centurion, tried desperately to put Kentay down.
Now, I’m not sure if the kid was getting weaker, or if it was Kentay who was getting way too strong, but the problem was obvious here.
At that point, the kid was only delaying the inevitable. Something else needed to happen soon, or we were done for.
“I know what happens when he gets pushed to the limit,” Sandhu spoke up. “What he’s really scared of. If that happens then…” he trailed off for a moment. “I didn’t want it to happen. I thought… this was gonna be enough.”
“Don’t like the sound of that…” Ken muttered.
Kentay killed the Centurion by strangling it. This time, the kid transformed into a Hulking Templar Knight. I could see Sandhu visibly gulp.
“That’s it,” he said. “This is the form he takes before everything goes to shit. If Kentay takes kills this one then… God, I fucked up.”
At that point, Kentay had become so durable that the Kid’s attacks hardly fazed him. Yet… he didn’t even attempt to stand down. I suppose that was the so-called “warrior spirit.” Fighting even in the face of impossible odds. At the same time… all we could really do was watch.
But before the two could engage in their penultimate clash, we could hear whistling from just behind them. Everybody turned around at once, seeing Nassar casually strolling towards us.
“Wow. When’d you get so big?” He said, his eyes wide in awe.
“Have you become evil as well?” Kentay growled.
Nassar put his hands up in a defensive gesture. “I’m just here to have fun, big guy.”
“What does that mean?”
Almost like an answer to his question, we could hear a set of booming footsteps approaching. From behind Kentay, a colossal figure was barreling towards us.
The Titan had arrived, and from the way that Nassar was grinning, I could only assume he was the one that released it.
As primal logic would dictate, the Titan went after the biggest guy in the area.
Kentay – who was now around the same size as the Titan, crouched into a defensive position.
“I won’t let evil-“
He was cut short by an abrupt headbutt. For such a big thing, the Titan was disturbingly fast.
Their exchange was short, but utterly brutal.
The Titan slashed at Kentay’s chest, tearing a large gash through it. Kentay strikes the Titan’s jaw, dislocating it. The Titan rips off Kentay’s left trapezius muscle. Kentay gouges all of the Titan’s eyes out. The Titan crushes Kentay’s right hand while swinging blindly.
Kentay drills his fist into the Titan’s crotch area, demolishing its “goods”. In a fit of blind rage, the Titan grabs Kentay’s head and slams it into the wall, planting it deep, before dragging it along and tearing through the metal like butter.
Kentay grabs the Titan’s head from behind and drags it down hard, causing the bones from its neck to snap, piercing through its flesh.
I could’ve sworn Kentay had grown 3 feet from that exchange alone. As he tossed the Titan aside, he looked back at us, half of his face now torn to the skull.
Nassar looked like he was about to pass out from excitement.
“FUCK YEAH!!!!” He shouted, jumping up and down. “THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME!!!”
Kentay silenced him with one punch, essentially vaporizing him.
There wasn’t much hope before, but there was even less now.
Sandhu’s warning had been vague, but I was doubtful it was any kind of exaggeration. The kid readied his sword. A vain effort, considering the fact that he was about to go down. And then we were all screwed.
Or so I thought.
The time that the Titan had bought us was about to prove more than valuable.
As Kentay prepared a blow that likely would’ve finished the kid on the spot, a stream of projectiles hit his face, causing him to flinch just slightly.
I turned to face who’d done it, and to my surprise, it was Bella. For one reason or another, the bloody painter was back.
”YOU!” Kentay roared.
Ken was happy to see her, of course.
“You came back…” he began, before his face dropped. “But… now you’re gonna die.”
“Have some faith in me, won’t you?” She said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have a plan.”
Kael suddenly appeared behind her.
“Well… I guess you can call it a plan. Didn’t have much time to put it together, though.”
In any case, we were hardly in a position to protest. Kentay barreled past the kid, nearly foaming at the mouth as he rushed Bella with overwhelming killing intent on his face.
I’d like to say that Bella looked unfazed herself, but that was far from the truth. She narrowly dodged his tackle, hardly looking calm and collected in the process. Kael attacked Kentay from behind, attempting to sink his teeth into his skin.
His fangs broke immediately upon contact.
“Oh, fuck this.” He said, before being tossed into a wall. However, he’d managed to distract Kentay long enough for Bella to make a move, running to an adjacent, intersecting hall and looking down it.
“Shit!” She said, before looking back at us. “Distract him! 30 seconds, that’s all I need.”
30 seconds might as well have been an hour. Before Kentay could rush back towards Bella, Ken stepped forward, forming a couple of portals on the ground, in which two crocodile-like creatures emerged from. They were destroyed in 4 seconds.
The kid went after Kentay next, which posed another problem.
“No!” Sandhu shouted. “Don’t let Ajay get near him!”
Kael groaned, pulling himself back up. “Well, alright.”
He jumped in between Kentay and the Kid, pushing the latter backwards, before blocking a punch from the former with his arm. That arm was obliterated as he was launched back once again, but he managed to buy about 3 more seconds while doing so.
Ken opened up 3 more portals, blood now pouring like a fountain from his eyes, nose and temple.
“God fucking damnit…” he mumbled, shaking as he forced his ability to the limit. But then he smiled. “I guess I trust you, though.”
Two of his creatures attacked Kentay, while the other one kept the Kid occupied. That move managed to waste another 7 seconds. I looked back over at Bella. She was holding up 10 fingers. 9. 8…
But Kentay was already on the move. He’d reach her in about 3.
To tell you the truth, I can’t say that I’ve done a lot of heroic things in my life. Sure, I stood up for a kid that was being bullied back in the 4th grade. Intimidated a guy out of breaking into a parked car once. Broke up 2 bar fights before.
But nothing that had actually put my life on the line. Truth be told… I was never really willing to do so. I’m sure it’s a sentiment shared by most.
And it begs the question: If you knew that your inactivity would lead to death regardless, would it really count as heroic in the end?
But knowing that I didn’t have much time to think, these thoughts were racing through my head as my feet were already moving.
“HEY ASSHOLE!!” I screamed.
As I got to within about a meter of him, Kentay turned to face me.
I nearly shit my pants on the spot.
I had no plan. No set strategy. I wasn’t even planning on throwing a strike. That would’ve been pointless anyway. There was also no way that I was going block/dodge any of his attacks. I suppose that right then and there… I was fully prepared to die. Maybe I hadn’t even realized it myself.
But then… the luckiest thing that had ever happened to me happened right then and there.
I always prided myself on having good balance. Rarely skidded on ice. Never swayed on boats or trains. Always pretty good at sports. However… in that moment… I slipped on a patch of blood. And by some miracle… it came at the exact moment Kentay’s fist was about to connect with my face. Instead of my skull being pulverized, his knuckle only grazed the side of my cheek, ripping a large gash through it as he did so.
Sure, it hurt as hell, and I wasn’t going to be talking to any girls for a while… but I’d managed to buy enough time.
Bella shot another stream of blades at the back of Kentay’s head, turning his attention away from me.
The next few moments went by rather slowly in my head.
I watched as Kentay darted forward in a flash while Bella scrambled like hell out of the way. As she was doing so, a figure had stepped out of the adjacent hall behind her.
I didn’t need to wonder who it was. His moves spoke for themselves.
It was The Dancing Guy, shuffling cheerfully along. Kentay himself even hesitated for a moment. But it was too late for him.
As they collided, the Dancing Guy’s mp3 flew out of his hand.
For a moment, time seemed to stop. The Dancer froze in place for what must’ve been 10 seconds. During that time, even Kentay couldn’t seem to bring himself to move.
It was the calm before the storm. For a split-second, the Dancer’s expression contorted into something that I’ll likely never be able to get out of my head.
It was an indescribable look of sheer, otherworldly rage. I blinked once and when my eyes opened back up, I was met with a wall of red mist and flying limbs. One of Kentay’s oversized arms even flew at me, nearly dislocating my shoulder as it did so.
The man that we’d previously deemed an immovable, insurmountable wall had been demolished in less than a second.
Now dripping in blood, the Dancer strolled over to his fallen music player and plugged it back in. All of us watched in stunned silence as he shuffled off and out of sight towards the opposite hall.
Kael was the first one to speak up afterwards.
“I’ll be honest… I was 99% sure that wasn’t gonna work.”
Bella let out a laugh of half-relief, half-disbelief.
I looked over at the Kid, who was still in his Knight form. However… he looked confused. Almost as if his reason for existing had suddenly vanished.
Soon enough, he reverted back to his original, human state. Ajay fell to his knees, coughing up blood in between sobs. Sandhu quickly rushed over in order to tend to him.
Is everything done? I thought to myself. Save for Clint, TFVNH was dead. So were all the Voids, except for the Dancer, and the still-contained Calamity.
I guess its over, then.
“That was ballsy, man.”
I looked over to see Kael grinning at me.
“Running at Kentay like that. Fucking hell.”
I let out a slight chuckle, hardly able to believe it myself. “Yeah. I guess. How’s Hugo?”
Kael shrugged. “Guess some things can’t be helped. I think I gave him a good send-off, though.”
In the meantime, Bella was talking to Ken.
“I’d help you out, but…” she said, wiping some of the blood off of his face, which was entirely covered with it. “I don’t… I don’t know what to do here.”
“Yeah. It’s more of an internal pain. Looks kinda badass though, doesn’t it?”
“Looks kinda gross, actually.”
They both laughed.
“That was… great. What you did there.” He said.
“Let’s call it lucky. Thanks for trusting me there, though.”
“Thanks for coming back. I really apprec-”
“Oh, shut up, you guilt-tripped me into it you asshole.”
Before he could speak again, she pulled him in for a kiss.
Not wanting to make things awkward, I directed my attention back at Ajay, who was beginning to settle down.
“He alright?” I asked Sandhu as I walked over.
In place of a response, he simply got up and hugged me.
“I owe you. A bit longer and… he’d be… we’d all be…” His voice began trembling.
“It’s alright, buddy,” I said. “Don’t worry about it. At least it’s over now.”
He let go of me and looked at everybody else.
“I… owe all of you.”
“Bought time I did something good for once.” Ken responded.
Bella sighed, before smiling. “Yeah. Same.”
“That dickhead killed the first friend I’ve made in a long time,” Kael added. “He had it coming.”
A period of silence followed, as we all began coming to terms with the events that had transpired. Not the easiest task.
“Aww… how touching.”
A familiar, but completely annoying voice reverberated from behind me. I knew I’d forgotten about something.
I turned around, seeing Adrian standing right there, wearing his signature, stupid, smug smirk.
“Who the fuck is this?” Kael blurted out.
Adrian ignored the question, looking over at the kid instead.
“That’s a cool little ability you’ve got there,” he said. “You know where it’d come in real handy?”
Oh, no. I thought. Please don’t say it.
His grin grew wider.
“The Evisceration matches.”