Bahb walked over to the console. His fingertips brushed over the glass shield over the release button in contemplation.
“Now, Bahb—can I call you Bahb?” Father’s voice came through the PA speaker, “I feel as though we may not have gotten off on quite the right foot. Just walk on over and unlatch that door for me, and we can perhaps try starting over—have ourselves a nice little sit down and a chat about everything. We’re both civilized gentlemen, aren’t we now?”
Bahb’s fingers did a subtle dance over the glass, as he spoke into the air, “You had me hunted down—you dragged me into whatever this is. And then you took Scarlet—you hurt her.”
“Who—oh, yes, Kk’rin. She was using other names, wasn’t she? Well, I promise you, ‘Scarlet’ is just fine, she’s simply being detained at the moment—you see, she can be quite the handful when she’s emotional—“
“Bahb, where are you?” Scarlet’s words rang with a searing spike through Bahb’s mind.
“You lying piece of—“ Bahb flipped the panel up and slammed his fist down on the big red button marked “Capsule Release.”
“No!” Father’s voice broke through the PA with feedback, “What have you done, you fool?”
The room was flooded with a red strobe and a blaring alarm, and the capsules containing Soo and the other alien began to drain of their fluid.
“They’re waking up now…” the unknown voice announced in Bahb’s mind.
The glass chambers started rising up in sync and the two grotesque creatures slumped over and dropped to the floor with a wet slosh, and with tentacles splayed about randomly. They lay limp and seemly lifeless in pools of excess liquid. Just as Bahb began to work up the courage to try to check them for signs of life, the being he knew as Soo began to move a tentacle, and then another, and then started to push herself upright. Shortly after, the other began to do the same.
Bahb went over to Soo and crouched to her level, “Are you ok?”
The creature that was Soo suddenly began to melt into an abstract of itself, a multi-colored blob, phasing into a shade of skin, sprouting arms and legs, and becoming the woman that Bahb had come to recognize as Soo—also naked again.
Soo examined Bahb with her infinitely dark eyes that widened at the metallic sound of an unsheathing blade behind him. He turned and saw a man with long black hair, darkly tanned skin, and narrowed black eyes, standing with his right armed formed into a long blade directed at Bahb’s temple.
“Stop!” Bahb heard Soo’s reverberated voice command in his mind, “He isn’t one of them.”
“As you command,” The reverberated voice of what Bahb assumed was the other creature responded along with the lowering of his blade, “What are our orders?”
“Retrieval and elimination… the experiment has been ended due to a potentially dangerous violation of parameters…”
Soo’s counter part simply gave a subservient nod in response.
“Are you going to save us now?” the still unknown voice asked in Bahb’s mind. Bahb looked at the two and noticed they didn’t react to the voice, “They never hear me…”
“That doesn’t help assure my state of sanity much…” Bahb responded, which got a silent glance from Soo. Bahb looked between the two aliens, “If you and yer naked friend here are just gonna stand here mind zapping each other, I’m gonna go back to finding Scarlet now.”
Bahb walked to the doorway leading to the outer lab, while grabbing a couple of lab coats and tossing them in the direction of the aliens, “And if you don’t mind, you two are making it feel drafty in here.”
The two draped the coats around themselves and followed Bahb to the main lab. As soon as they came into view of the large window by the door, Bahb’s two guards quickly un-holstered a set of pistol-blades. Wish I saw those earlier, would have been a lot more useful than a paper-blade.
Soo and the other moved in front of Bahb with a fluid motion that resembled large serpents with limbs forming into long thin blades. With terrified expressions Bahb had never before seen on the face of any Evo, the blades sliced through the door and window-wall like they were air, skewering into the heads of the guards. Not one got a single shot off from even a reflexed reaction before the lights left their eyes. The two retrieved their blades and the guards dropped to the corridor floor like giant puppets with their strings severed.
Soo’s counter part crossed his bladed limbs through the door and it fell to fragments before him.
“Not to sound like I’m criticizing the quality of yer handy work, there, but it was actually locked from the inside—where we presently are,” Bahb pointed out, “You happen to have a name?”
“Irfan’Ramachandra’Arjuna’Tafadzwa’Gaun” The alien responded while walking over the destroyed door and into the corridor.
“Ok…. Gaun… what’s the plan? If you two are gonna start escaping, that’s fine, but I still gotta find Scarlet before I go anywhere,” Bahb stated while retrieving his guards’ holster-belts and pistol-blades, and strapping them to himself.
“Bahb! Where are you!” Scarlet’s voice suddenly screamed through his mind with its same refrain, but with an added jolt that sent a writhing pain that brought Bahb instantly to his knees, only to hear his own screaming like a distant thunder.
Soo approached Bahb and placed her fingertips to his temples and the pain seeped away like a tide, “You are still tethered. Why would their Father not have—“ Soo stopped in mid-sentence as if her line of question also drew her to an answer, “We will come with you to find… Scarlet.”
“Why are—“ Gaun started in his mind.
“Silence! Follow my command!” Soo snapped with Gaun simply giving a subservient nod.
Bahb looked at the two with suspicion, but seeing that he seemed to still need Soo to keep his head from exploding, he simply shrugged and gave in. So he began following the tether in his mind towards its source just like he did not so long ago, but this time the feeling was somehow different, Bahb assumed it was just because of how much closer he was.
They made their way down corridors, and a flight of stairs and coming across Evos along the way that were effortlessly dispatched by a Bahb’s escorts, with lightning fast movements of blades to vital organs, and clean across necks littering the hallways with rolling heads. Bahb got a few shots of his own off with his pistol-blades, only to just barely graze a few by almost pure luck against their heightened reflexes.
After following the tether through the maze of a construct that seemed to be a prison, a laboratory, and a dormitory all in one, they found an exit. They stood outside the building and Bahb took a moment to gain his bearings. Several yards ahead, he could see the gate had been reconstructed after Soo’s handy work.
The tether seemed to direct towards another building that looked like a smaller version of the one they just left. Bahb directed a fist armed with a pistol-blade towards the destination and began to relay to his companions the heading, but was stopped short as a herd of Evos came at them with pistol-blades of their own. Bahb opened fire with both hands, as Soo and Gaun did their dances of bladed destruction against the unending wall of Evos.
Bodies piled, and blood pooled to form rivers of death. Bahb was already losing track of how many times he reloaded; still only barely grazing anyone with each shot he hopelessly let out.
Bahb was spun and knocked to the ground hard, with a burning bite through his left shoulder that was shortly followed by another through his right calf. Soo turned in response to his pained yells, and placed her hands on him, sending shooting pain through the rest of his being, and instantly repairing his injuries as if the limbs never knew damage in their existence.
“Stay here and keep them back… I am going with him…” Soo commanded to Gaun.
“As you command…” Gaun responded, never breaking his rhythm of destruction.
Bahb made his way to his feet and started towards the building the tether lead towards.
“Stop! Damn you, boy, stop!” Bahb heard the voice of Father commanded over the commotion of his “children’s” dieing screams.
Bahb instantly turned and pointed the barrel of a pistol-blade between Father’s eyes, “Let’s bring this to a stop, then!” Bahb squeezed a bolt that grazed Father’s temple with a wet line of red marking its trail.
Father brought up a hand and gazed at Bahb with extreme focus, and Bahb could feel a tinge of pain creeping through his nerves and muscle, only a slight tickle of before.
“If that’s the only trick in yer book, yer gonna be out of luck. I’m a bit more prepared this time,” Bahb said as he let out another round.
“I will take care of him,” Soo said before launching herself at Father, with bladed limbs cocked back and directed.
Father responded pulling a weapon from a back holster Bahb had never seen before. It had a barrel not much different than that of his pistol-blade, but below it, instead of the blade, another barrel was mounted with a much larger caliber than the top. Father squeezed off a round that announced itself with exploding thunder, sending a missile of a bolt through the chest of a surprised Soo.
Soo let out a screeching cry that sounded like nothing of this world, as thick, dark ooze seeped from the gaping hole tunneled through her.
Bahb started firing off series after series of bolts towards Father in a furry, “You bastard! What have you done?”
Father dodged each round with a finesse that Bahb had only seen rivaled by that of Kk’vin. He fired a round from the smaller of his pistol’s two chambers, quickly followed by another, and struck with a direct hit down the barrels of Bahb’s own pistol-blades, bringing Bahb’s charge to a hault.
Soo’s was putting herself back to her feet at her wound began repairing itself like black threads being quickly drawn across by an army of unseen spiders. Father turned with his pistol-cannon taking aim towards her and Bahb drew the two other pistol-blades he had strapped to him. Bahb sent the bolts to a course, with one at Father’s head, the other at his chest. Father reacted to the sound of Bahb’s thunder, but only just too late, as the round to his head only blew-off his brimmed black hat, but the other made home where his heart lived.
Father let out a gasp, as his feet staggered and danced for control below him. He fell to his knees as he continued to struggle against his failing body. Bahb knew from his experience with Kk’vin that despite Father’s injury that would have been mortal to anyone else, he would recover, so Bahb sent another bolt between his eyes, snapping his head back, and knocking him hard to the ground, splayed like a frail broken thing with a lake of blood forming beneath.
“No!” the echoing cry came from the building where the tether lead.
Bahb took an adrenaline induced sprint in the direction of the plea. With Gaun still holding back the horde, he covered the ground between with nothing standing in his way. He made it to a door that seemed to practically throb as his tether drew him to it.
“Scarlet! I’m here!” Bahb said as he quickly shot at the lock, jolting the door to ajar.
Entering, Bahb saw simply an empty cell that appeared to be almost like his own, accept with better view, “Scar—“
A heavy jolt came down across Bahb’s back, knocking him instantly to the ground, forcing the wind out of him, and sending stars across his vision. Through the ringing in his head, Bahb heard a familiar gasp, “Oh’my—Bahb!” Scarlet send in surprise as she dropped the torn off sink she made into her weapon, “I am so sorry—are you ok? What the hell are you doing here?”
“What am I… what the hell do you mean what am I doing here? You put a damned beacon in my brain telling me to come or face my exploding grey-matter!”
Scarlet looked at Bahb with a puzzled look that started to concern him, and flood him with more confusion than he could give voice to.
Without warning, Scarlet grasped her hands around Bahb’s head, “Bahb, look in my eyes.”
Bahb did as she requested, and her eyes did their strange dance through the full spectrum of colors. His head swirled as her eyes strobed, but despite the sensation of dizziness that strongly requested throwing up, he remained conscious this time.
“No…” Scarlet said with a concerned gasp as she lowered her hands, “I’m so sorry, Bahb… it was my fault… I… I just didn’t know.”
Bahb stared at her searching for words, and desperately searching for understanding, “Scarlet, you really need to elaborate a bit. What the hell’d you do?”
“I didn’t put anything new in your mind, Bahb, I only turned on a connection that was already there. I didn’t know, Bahb… you’re the first. No one could have known, that’s what made you so dangerous… that’s why—“ Her word broke off as a shadow was cast over them from the doorway, “You!” She yelled, as she suddenly picked up Bahb’s pistol-blade from the ground and fired off several rounds.
Bahb took up his other pistol-blade and turned, expecting to see Kk’vin’s behemoth frame, only to have his barrel staring down Soo’s tattered body. Before Bahb could get a word of explanation out, Soo immediately extended a bladed limb through the barrel of Scarlet’s pistol-blade, continuing to slice through her hand, and on through her shoulder, bring the blade up and back, slicing Scarlet’s skull in a diagonal half.
Bahb stared at what remained of Scarlet’s body as it dropped. His mind raced ‘til it was numb, searching for explanation, trying to convince him that what he was seeing wasn’t real.
He looked back at Soo with a face filled with a furry he had never seen from her usual cold expressionless demeanor, “Where is it?” She asked with a growling yell that didn’t even resemble human, “Tell me—“
As Bahb was about to command his gripped pistol-blade to send a bolt to Soo’s head, a scream of pain shot through his mind, like the sound of a thousand newborns crying at once, echoing, and screeching, shattering his mind like glass.
“Thank you, Bahb,” Soo said, “You made this a lot easier for me.”
Through barely slit eyes, Bahb saw Soo leap from the doorway to a room off to the side. A moment later, she leaped back carrying what looked like a bundle of blankets in her arms.
“Stop!” Bahb heard the roar of Kk’vin from outside, and a hole exploded through Soo’s left shoulder, “You can’t take him from us!”
Soo leaped out from the doorway and the light pour through and bathed over Bahb liked fire as the screaming continued. The fire lowered to a light searing as Kk’vin’s giant frame blotted out the sun, and Bahb could hear Kk’vin’s screams only barely over his own mind, “Kk’rin! No!”
Kk’vin paced the short distance like a caged beast a couple times muttering to himself, inaudibly against the destruction and tearing of Bahb’s mind. Bahb tried to get out words, any words at all, but nothing could form, nothing could be commanded to his limps beyond mindless groans.
He saw Kk’vin kneel down in front of him with his pistol-blade in hand. As he brought up the blade, Bahb thought—he hoped—Kk’vin was taking his vengeance on him and taking the chance to end his life—end the screaming. But as Bahb waited for the sensation of life being drawn out of him by Kk’vin’s blade, he saw him crouch down lower, his hot breath inches from Bahb’s ear, “Father told me that you are somehow special,” Kk’vin began, “I don’t know how much of this you can understand right now—assuming yer small mind ever could—but our blood, is a hybrid of theirs. We were created to be the new species, separate from you… we were their weapons—their defense against enemies they convinced us we had. Kk’rin… Scarlet… she was special too, she and I… we were Father’s true children. When she met you, things went wrong… she broke the rules.
“Our blood with yers, it created something powerful—something that made them fear their weapons—their tools. Bahb… it’s yer child—yer son.”
The words rang through his mind and through all the screaming and the pain, understanding seeped through. But what more can I do—I’m dieing.
Kk’vin continued, “I’m not strong enough to beat them, Bahb… but… I can make you strong enough. My blood… it’s not as pure enough to make it permanent, but it will make you like us—better than us—strong enough to beat them. You have to beat them, Bahb.”
Bahb wasn’t sure what Kk’vin was trying to say, until he saw him sit back up and drape his blade down the entirety of his arm, and then to the other, flowing blood from him like a stream directing its flow into Bahb’s groaning mouth. And with a final thrust, Kk’vin brought the blade across his neck, turning his body into a fountain, drenching Bahb as his body fell on him like a fallen mountain.
The weight of Kk’vin’s limp body crushed Bahb beneath, but as the thick, salty fluid made its way through him, he could feel Kk’vin becoming lighter. The screaming began to seep away like dieing embers. Bahb could feel power coursing through him, charging him until his muscles ripped with eagerness.
He threw Kk’vin off of him as if the mountain became a pebble. With a final enraged glance at Scarlet’s remains, Bahb took up his and Kk’vin’s pistol-blades to hand, and charge through the door, scanning the compound, seeking his prey. Gaun was in the center of everything still battling Evos, and off, standing by the gate, waiting as if she now possessed all the time in the world, was Soo, embracing the bundle that contained his son—the last essence of Scarlet.
Bahb charged toward her, stray bullets from the Gaun and Evo battle whistling past him, with him giving them only a flinching dodge with reflexes that seemed almost possessed. His heart thumped in his ears as he took aim towards Soo, firing both barrels to her chest and head, just as he assaulted Father not long ago. She just barely slithered out of the path before the bolts made home behind her. She placed his child to the ground and charged towards him.
“I’m coming for you, you bitch!” Bahb roared as he continued his charge, firing with precisioned sight, every round striking home in some portion of Soo’s body—all fazing her, but none stopping her.
She thrust her blade arms at Bahb. He ducked and dodged her left, only to be struck down by her right, slicing a gash down his back from his neck to his tailbone, going deeper as it went. The pain burned, but his body healed and repaired with a thick, pink scar before he even had time to react.
As he began to push himself back up, he saw Father’s body laying lifeless a few feet away, still intently gripping his pistol-cannon. Bahb leapt and shoulder-rolled the distance, grabbing hold by the barrel, and prying it from Father’s hand.
Father moaned, and Bahb jumped, almost sending a bolt through him before he just barely stopped himself, “…so arrogant… I failed them… I failed my children… I was so arrogant…”
“It will be ok, I’ll stop them,” Bahb said as reassuring as he could to a man he was certain was still racing towards death, guided by his hand.
“You… you… stop them… all… they’re coming… you have to… stop them…” Father got out before the lights finally left his eyes, and the hand gripping the hilt of his pistol-cannon opened and fell limp.
Before Bahb could gain a steady grip on the pistol-cannon, Soo sent a blade across Bahb’s wrist, severing his hand from it. Bahb yelled, more in alarm than pain, as the amputated limb barely had a chance to be exposed to air before it was already creating a new, fresh skinned hand. Bahb flexed his new fingers that were now better than ever.
He turned just in time to catch another of Soo’s blades aimed for his head. He dodged, and moved in, taking her by the neck. He squeezed his fingers around as she fought and flailed, screaming her displeasure.
Soo sent a blade through his gut. He could feel it all the way through, as it nicked intestines, pieced his stomach, and attempted to sever his spine on its way out through his back and making an exit slicing through his side. But his body continued to heal as quickly as the injuries formed.
Through Soo’s death-thralls, Bahb threw her down to the ground hard enough to leave an impression of her body indented beneath. Cocking back a tightly clenched fist and holding her with the other, he threw his fist through Soo’s face, and didn’t stop its charge until he felt the grit of dirt.
Her body started phasing between her human form and its original in a fit of chaotic confusion until it finally fell motionless. Bahb didn’t release his grip and he stared into the grotesque abstract in front of him, he wasn’t certain of her demise until the creature’s body suddenly began shriveling up into a dry, empty husk.
“No!” Gaun screamed through his mind.
“Oh, yeah… and yer next” Bahb responded as he set target on his new prey.
There were only a dozen or so Evos left as far as Bahb could see, and those remaining didn’t look like they were in much better shape than their fallen comrades—but they didn’t take them hits without serving up a significant amount to their enemy. Gaun was looking only slightly better than Soo presently did, but he was still stand and charge straight at Bahb.
Bahb stood his ground and waited for his prey to come to him. But Gaun didn’t come for him. Instead he broke off, and made his way towards Father.
Before the question could form in Bahb’s mind, Gaun was already answering as he seemed to adsorb the very existence of Father into his own, instantly repairing all the damage he had received. He continued taking in Father until even his very appearance became that of Father’s, and all that remained of the original body had become a pile of dust.
Despite Bahb’s continued expectations, Gaun still didn’t come at him; instead he leapt towards the gate, and picked up the bundle that contained his son. Bahb ran at him, but as he did, he could feel the surge in his body begin to fade away.
“Put down the child and face me!” Bahb commanded.
Gaun jumped to the top of the gate, and looked down at Bahb, “My mission of retrieval is completed… they can handle the elimination…” he said before jumping out and away.
Bahb jumped half-way up the gate and clawed his way to the rest. As he gazed over he saw Gaun walking back the way he had once come with Soo towards a giant setting sun. Silhouetted all around Gaun coming towards the compound seemed to be thousands of staggering corpses. Bahb’s eyes grew, as he remembered the odd moment with Soo in the cemetery.
Bahb heard Gaun in his mind, “Run or fight, no one can ever escape the Selection…”