Aiming for Heaven though Serving in Hell (MT, Semi-open. TG to join)
Soreness came upon the tired, with the mattress of dirt doing nothing to help with such discomfort. The eyes opened to another day, and the beams of light came from the gaps between the foliage, with large, musky and mossy trees covering the land, and thick shrubs making it difficult to notice any trail. Getting up, he felt the dirt all over his back and tried to remember how he ended such middle of nowhere.
Archangelsk was little more than the logistical consequence next to a military outpost in the Australian borders, a manned line of obsolete static emplacements dividing the known civilized world from what nobody could imagine. Legends of all types spread about what was beyond. Demons, ghosts, a satanic empire. But perhaps the most frightening one was that there was simply nothing besides a barren wasteland. For years the Holy Republic has lost contact with all the outside world. Only an infinite wasteland was beyond, completely devoid of life. Some believed that the world has fallen to a nuclear war, but there were signs that civilizations existed elsewhere.
What could not be explained in anyway, is how he reminded sleeping in an humble bunk bed of a completely ascetic crew quarters he shared with his comrades. It was long gone, and strangely, he felt he was wearing his uniform when he woke up in that location, but he knew that he wasn't when he slept. Something strange was happening, and he could notice that the light of the sun seemed dimmer. Instinctively he slid his heavy backpack off his shoulders to check for what he had available. Rummaging through it with his hands he counted a limited amount of medical supplies, an insect repellent, water canteens, the always needed jerked meat and the ever important holy cross of his faith, but no sign of even a handgun. With no manner to orient himself, he putted the backpack again and pondered what what had to be done.
Seeing on how his flesh and bones would never be able to find a solution, he knelt knightly and mentally imaged his savior Jesus Christ. Praying in silence, he asked for the Lord to enlighten, guide and protect him in such dark times. Dark times he had a gut feeling about. He felt like if light itself was touching his heart, giving him resolve to continue and guidance.
With no hesitation, he began to walk through the direction he was currently facing at, taking a few detours as the foliage became too thick to be crossed. He really wanted to at least have found his combat knife, but it was necessary to get through with what he had.
A warm breeze vented through him, and the sounds of the life in the jungle seemed nonexistent like if death was close, the blessed seals hanging to his uniform discretely accompanying the direction of the wind, and ahead, a thick but passable foliage blocked all the view of what was beyond. Dread began to fulfill his mind, and he felt compelled to take a step back and journey through another direction, but somehow, there was a calling to his name, a strange intuition that whatever was that lied ahead, it could be the difference between dying in ignorance in the middle of the woods and discovering the truth about what have happened. Other thoughts rather than his own survival also stormed him. He remembered of all his friends, specially of Tchowkosvki, that ugly man who saved his life once in immemorial times, the man who he could always trust and to who he shared much of his most intimate thoughts. He remembered of when they graduated together, and made a promise of friendship to ever look out for each other. It was more than duty, or than the sheer commitment to upholding truth no matter the consequences, but friendship what would shape such a difficult decision.
The warm and humid breeze increased in intensity while he could feel a disturbing sensation of being watched, and he moved the foliages of the large shrubs blocking his way without letting any space among them to reveal what was beyond. His heart drove his action, as he quickly felt that He was watching upon his, and with his arm twisted back, he opened a zipper of his backpack, taking an humble, wooden white cross from it, placing it firmly on the ground. Thus, he closed his eyes, and ushered a part of Psalm 91 with his own voice:
"Vy ne budete ispugany dlja ljubogo terrora k nocha, ni dlja strelki kotoraja letaet k den'; Dlja bicha kotoryjj guljaet v temnotu, ni dlja bolezni kotoraja razrushaet v poldn-dne. Tysjacha ponizitsja okolo vas, i 10 tysjach na vashem prave; no vy ne. Da, s vashimi glazami vy sozercaete, i vidite voznagrazhdenie nechestivogo Dlja vas, Bog, moe upovanie; vy ustanavlivali vashu dom oborony ochen' vysokim."
For a while, the horror of the reality and of the unknown were no longer in his senses. It was the brief serenity of prayer, the extremely tenuous and short-lasted contacted with the kingdom of Heaven comforting his soul. But he could not escape from the material world, and soon he again opened his eyes, only to notice with a shock, more of surprise than of fear, as he noticed a small but significant change in the scenery.
The cross he placed correct not only was now turned upside down, but also as black as if it have been burnt, and not only that, but he also could smell the scent of burning wood. Very few of its surface was still white, and what was, formed in such color a number in the central piece of the upside down cross. A clear six hundred sixty six, with no doubts about why. The sensation of being watched, of not being alone, coupled with the dread. It was the only sign what indicated the presence of demons, for they were invisible enemies. Although it was known that sometimes such were false alerts as well, and perhaps the burnt cross was merely the action of another sneaky neopagan hidden in the woods in a try to scare him off. No matter what, things still seemed strange, for he could swear he has seen a tree to his left which was no longer there, among many other misplaced things, although other than the cross and the dread, nothing else indicated the presence of the supernatural.
Something unholy could be lurking beyond the foliages which hid him, or perhaps he could be wrong about it. In fact, he truly wished to be wrong, for facing such right there would mean only one thing. But he could not run away, for this was what he was truly expected to fight against. Evils capable of luring easily many warriors into paths of sin and brutality, to shed innocent blood in the name of the devil. Or again, maybe nothing was there. He has made his choice, remembering of his friends and of his duty to the Holy Republic. He remembered again of the holy psalm, with its verses sticking to his thoughts, motivating him to go further.
There shall no evil happen unto thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee in their hands, that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt go upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet.
The soldier broke a stick which seemed sturdy enough from a tree next to him, and with a slow, silent and methodical pace, he headed through the foliages fully believing that God would protect him, but keeping himself at full alert, and after very few steps, finally found what was beyond them.
(OOC: I left a cliffhanger on purpose. For now this will be a written story but I'll inform once the space is open for the participation of others)
He could be in the jungles of the New Guinea, but that was something truly alien to the sight that nothing has ever discovered before. The soldier was correct to fear what the foliages he just went through hid, but he was completely wrong on what he expected to be ahead. There was simply nothing but a few further dozens of meters of a completely barren earth which ended into a massive abyss, blocking his passage to further ahead, so deep that its bottom was not visible even though the daylight shone through most of its rocky walls. It had a somewhat circular shape, and could have kilometers of extension. A hot and humid air was coming up from the chasm, being pulled by the winds of outside.
The abyssal sight seemed to bring no ill omen from itself. Staring at the bottom of the pit, the soldier could see nothing to fear about other than its existence alone. He feared that the tribulation was finally at hand, and thus, he would have to warn the others about what he now bears witness to. However, the sensation of being watched and of dread did not vanish as he realized there was nothing visibly sentient or explicitly frightening to the other side besides a big hole, and thus, it could not be merely psychological, there had to be something, an answer that could end his fears, or confirm them. He had no idea on how he ended in the middle of the jungle, and specially on how the geographical distances between the island he was currently at, presumed to be New Guinea, and North Australia were crossed by whatever brought him to that place so fast.
Seeing no other choice than to circle through the chasm, he began to walk through the scorched path, sinking his black boots into dirt, with an almost perfect divide between the dead surroundings of the abyss and of the lively jungle in his sight, and drops of sweat came from him as the warm, odorless air continued to exhale from the strange abyss. His mind began to attempt reasoning on what such strange accident was. If it has existed before, a satellite would have definitively detected it, but it seemed like if such abyss was a recent creation, and one that could not be explained scientifically.
Could this be the path to hell? The place where the dark angel has fallen? Or is this the path through which the Antichrist shall come to Earth?
But all that he received as answer to his questions was the utmost silence broken only by the predictable sounds of the wind beating with the vegetation. It was a long walk ahead, but as time passed, the soldier maintained his alert but nothing came at all, yet the sensation of being followed and watched never ceased. He has walked for seven minutes already, and nothing. His mind focused on remembering psalms and holy prayers to the Lord, thankful that despite his fears, nothing has happened so far.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies...
His thought suddenly stopped as steps of something could be heard stomping the grass and shrubs to the other side, and he immediately took a combat stance, raising the stick he had to prepare for strike as the loudness of such steps indicated something or someone was approaching, but still he continued to walk in a fast pace, always looking behind. His heart beats became faster, and even the slightly move of a leaf on his vision was enough to lead him to stare quickly but attentiously at the location the leaf dropped. It was like if something or someone was running after him, but never came. The steps were becoming louder and louder, as if the entity approached. With his ears getting the direction of the steps, he thanked God as a slab of rock was right ahead to give him cover. There he ducked, and with his improvised weapon ready, awaited for the arrival. Soon the sound of the steps changes, like if they were no longer clashing with dead foliage and moss, but with a dried dirt. But scaringly, no matter how the steps clearly indicated that it was already at a location from where it would be visible to the soldier, he could hear the footsteps being taken through the barren land, but he could not see what was making the sounds.
With fear overcoming him from each step closer, he could guess that it was nearly next to him from the intensity of the sounds of its steps, and then suddenly the sounds of steps vanished like if they never happened. Stressed by the event, he charged towards the direction he presumed to be the last position they came from and swing his stick through the air, in a silly hope to defend himself, but it simply crossed the entire expanse of half meter with no resistance or feeling of hitting against anything. Sighing, he sat on the slab of stone to rest, pondering on what could justify him hearing the steps. Perhaps he could be leaning into the edge of insanity, but his faith putted the simplest explanation away as he concluded:
Only because I cannot see them and they cannot directly harm me, it does not mean that they do not exist and that they are not a threat. O Lord, in this heart of evil, let your shield protect me and Michael guide my hands, for I shall serve your cause against the harbingers of sin, give to your sons a third chance and we shall set this world free.
Soon he would let the stick slid off his hand and rest close to him, as danger seemed distant, and he had a staunch believe that whatever he would have to face ahead, such small piece of wood shall not work against. The signs were clear, and the abyss was indeed devoid of any abominable life. What he imagined for it to held was not matter, but dread spirits.
Unpacking a ration of jerked meat, he slowly chewed it. It was far from delicious, although the fact he woke up in the middle of nowhere meant it was still better than having to feed upon worms from the trunks of trees. Nothing ever disturbed him as he ate, staring briefly at the abyss ahead. The soldier never stared directly and perpendicularly to the bottom of the same, and he believed that it was preferable to avoid doing so.
As his finished his humble meal, he took a canteen from his backpack, but upon looking at it, as it was all painted in black except for a white cross in its middle, he guarded it and took another, regular canteen of water to drink from. His dry throat benefited from the same and soon he was ready to continue his way. There were still about three quarters of the way to complete, and he would rather not spend his night there. Then, when he thought about it, the soldier remembered to look at the overall direction of the visible sun. It was still morning, and through it he finally found out a rough direction: he was heading through north, but this new knowledge brought no will for him to change his previous intentions of going through such direction. Such way, he would eventually find the littoral, from where finding rescue would be relatively simple, should his guess about being in New Guinea be proved right. Otherwise, he would rather not think about it.
His hope of getting out of the jungle briefly led him to forget where he currently was, but soon as he peeked at the chasm again, he reminded of the unhappy fact. With his breakfast over, he continued to make his way, looking around and pondering about everything. The apocalypse seemed to be too far, but after witnessing something like that, he had a certain guess about what was happened, but he could not agree to himself on it.
His courage and resolve have allowed him to mostly ignore the dread of being followed by something he could not see, and for each minute that passed, it seemed less likely in his thoughts that more strange events would happen. The sun was set at its peak, and it was already noon when he again stopped for another quick break. This time he quickly took another sip of his stocks of fresh water and just stood there, looking at the abyss walls to the other side.
Incredibly, the walls of irregular rocks and dirt seemed to be somewhat reflective, and he could notice a glimpse of the reflection of the earthly walls of his side on it. Staring at such reflections as he rested, suddenly a disturbance of the still image came: small black dots clustered and were flying towards his direction from the visible bottoms of the chasm. Immediately, he quickly pulled the zipper of his backpack, only to discover it became stuck. Struggling irrationally to unzip it as his eyes accompanied the ascension of what seemed to be flies, followed by an increasing feeling of torment.
His desperate mind estimated less than two hundred meters between him and the altitude of the insects. He felt hesitation, for never he have faced evil physically manifested, and there was no other explanation to what those flies were. It probably was the demon lord of the flies, Beelzebub, coming to a son of the Lord. Finally realizing the futility of his attempt to unzip it, he took the stick and desperatedly stabbed the backpack with it as his time ran out.
The cluster of flies was getting very close to reach its way out of the abyss. Almost instinctively he grabbed the canteen with a white cross, and uncorked it. The sounds of the flies could already be heard, an infernal noise, where the flight sounds of the insects seemed to mix with the sounds of laughters in an insanity-inducing way, and it was right then that, without looking down, he turned down the canteen to let some of the blessed water fall over the unholy pit. Then the flies simply vanished with no trace, before even the water could touch them. Sighing, he wondered why they came in the first place. Perhaps they were not even physical. Alas, he knew that demons could not assume physical forms, but that they could play with the minds of men in both subtle and less subtle ways. He knew what he had done
Forgive me Lord. I have hesitated in my faith of your shield. I know you are with me. The word must be passed to the flock before it is too late. I thank You again for protecting me from the horrors of this condemned land.
He could feel as if legions of invisible and unhearable demons waited for him to commit a major mistake in his tireless devotion to the cause of the Golden Millennium. There, in a place where rather than an assault rifle, both his sword and shield were his faith in God. But the abyss, unlike all other strange things he saw in the place, was clearly real. And thus he continued his travel. Should the night come, a real tribulation of the spirit would have to be endured, and he quickened his pace to ensure together with faith that he would not be there. More than half of his way was already done. Further more minutes and the soldier crossed through a bunch of empty stones and boulders amidst the otherwise featureless soil. It was then that his hears would announce the coming of a new threat, with the safety of the spaces hid among the stones and of his own faith being the only refuges.
The soldier of the holy army ducked behind the cover of a pair of large stones meeting each other's upper edges, and leaving a large enough gap for him to watch the maker of the sound without risking being seen, should it be material. He found it strange that until now he did not spot an expectable assembly of neopagans, satanists and alike around the place, but he had no doubts that they would be somewhere nearby.
The sound coming from afar seemed extremely familiar to him. It was the unequal noise of rotating blades, which could only mean one thing. For a change, he would see something natural there, an helicopter. Rather than foolishly waving around for help, imagining why an helicopter would fly over a place like that, he simply kept crouched, with his knees touching the dry dirt, and watched as whatever it was would come out of the woods.
The distant silhouette of a black helicopter came out of the skies, it was clearly moving slowly towards the center of the immense chasm, and he simply kept his eyes over it, ignoring the sensations that continued to assault him since he arrived there. His weary eyes accompanied the slow hover of the chopper, which seemed to be of a civilian model, but he could not associate the shape with any model he personally knew.
He patiently observed for three minutes as it finally seemed to have stopped moving, and was right at the center of it. Then further seconds have passed as the man would finally witness the reason behind such strange, helicopter to be there, likely an asset of devil worshipers: an human silhouette fell from the larger helicopter shade, until vanishing upon the darkness of the infinite abyss. There was no way for him to be sure if it was still alive or already dead when it fell from the distance he witnessed the atrocity, for he could not notice exactly if its limbs were still moving in despair. Then, the air became thicker and hotter around, and a strange howl echoed from the bowels of Earth, confirming once again the cursed nature of such grounds.
Oh Lord! What have they done? What more of ungodly actions shall come to test us?
With his questions still unanswered, and the trial of patience almost over, he felt his knees already sore from continually feeling the weight of part of his body and touching a hard soil. The black bird took its way back, and paying attention to it, he attempted to trace the direction it was heading towards. If he could follow it somehow, even further answers would be given about the luciferian cabal that was at work at such moment, and perhaps to understand how he woke up there with no memory of how he has arrived. Doubts and fears putted his need of survival asides, but he still had a hold of it as finally the helicopter vanished from horizon. Making a mental note of its direction, he got out of his hideout and continued, for the other side was now almost next to him, and fortunately he would leave that placed before night.
With only a stick holding his torn backpack altogether and limited supplies, he continued to stride over the last hundreds of meters to his destination. The landscape was quite uniform, to the point that without the sun as a reference to guide someone, it would be difficult to avoid turning around the abyss in circles multiple times or backtracking. The line between the lively jungle and the death of the chasm never became blurred through all the way he walked on its edge, which was more than enough hint that it was not something that could be explained secularly.
The fighter of the Lord could feel he was not alone, but for a reason whatever followed him was incapable of harming him. He pitied for any faithless that should ever end in a place like this without any protection, and he finally understood the why of those flies he witnessed before. It was likely an attempt to lead him to desperatedly waste the blessed waters completely, and it has not succeeded, at least not completely. He believed they were trying to manipulate him, his fears and actions by luring him to do things that would benefit them, but so far his God never abandoned him, and he could feel an alleviation as the last hundred of meters to the other side were right ahead.
Calculating the direction of the helicopter from what he could remind, he oriented himself to it and as the boundaries of the jungle were close, he finally was out of the infernal chasm, and alleviated as the sounds of jungle life seemed to be slowly becoming rife, and the sensation of being followed slowly vanishing, as he progressed using his best orientation skills to not lose the direction the helicopter headed to. He no longer walked among haunts, but alone. But he was quite aware that the enemy did not resort to only spiritual legions. Between detouring his path to avoid trees, he believed to have managed to keep the direction quite well, but from look at the sky, he knew there were just three hours before night would come. It was necessary to find a safe shelter, for it would be truly ironic to die because of the bite of a less than an inch large spider while sleeping after facing everything he had. But he had to gain terrain, and he maintained a fastened pace through the jungle.
It was a blessing that his path crossed that of a small lake of crystalline and clear water.Taking all his canteens, he slowly refilled them, and then, washed his face with the water, splashing some of it over his uniform. The more he walked, more he was certain that he was not there for a random reason. Perhaps he was assigned a task by God and His angels in the fight against evil. And he could not abandon it after witnessing as a body fell over the damned pit, nor after remembering of his best friend, fearing for the worse.
As he finished refreshing himself, he took again his righteous path towards what could be tip of the maw of iniquity. Something was certainly happening, and it was not only an spiritual threat. His questions about what such abominations were plotting against Prazinia had to be answered, no matter the cost. However, he had to find a shelter, and after making a steady pace for another hour, he could see the skies becoming orange hued as the evening was about to come. It was at such moment that he remembered what his teacher has told to him, and formed the message in his mind.
When you seek enlightenment, look straight to the kingdom of Heaven, and have your heart cleansed of all sin.
And thus, the soldier looked at the pieces of sky among the clearings of the foliages, and immediately saw his answer. One of the large trees he saw around had a fully hollowed out upper trunk with enough space for a man to fit inside. It would not be comfortable, but much safer than sleeping in the dirt, and somehow, he wondered if such was a sort of old hideout for the satanists.
Pulling a liana out, he tied one of its ends tightly around his backpack and the other to his belt, and began to climb bare-handed through the trunk of the large tree, and finally hanged himself over a quite large branch with enough resilience to hold his weight. Then he began to pull his backpack to him using the liana, and as it finally was at his hands, he quickly took the stick out of it to search it further. After a few seconds he took a flashlight from it.
Testing it, he smiled to himself as the battery seemed to be working. A beam of light came out of the flashlight and he began to slowly crawl towards the hollow of the trunk. There was about half an hour before night would finally come, or at least he thought so. Thus he quickly pointed the flashlight to the inside of the tree, flashing over a white object which immediately alerted him: its blank eye sockets stared straight at his souls with its necrotic aura, and beneath it, there were at least more four human skulls. The way they were placed, and the morbid natured of what that hollowed trunk was used for deterred him from going inside, but somehow he believed that there was more to it, and felt a sorrow unlike any other.
Taking the first skull with his hand, he looked at it and tried to get its features. It was probably female from its lines, and too large punctures were visible all around the equivalent of the forehead, like if she was "crowned" with spikes in an unholy ritual. The soldier could almost feel the horrible tortures that such unnamed victim suffered under the hands of the worshipers of Satan as he touched the skull. There was definitively no way to stop the power of darkness, and no matter how many of such murderers and soulless were purged by the holy flames of the Inquisition, the demons would always lure further replacements to those who were lost among the misguided youth.
He did the least he could do, gets his hands full of mud as he dug on the ground and mentally prayed for the souls of those such remains belonged to. He wondered if that was the sole reason for all the cases of missing people in Prazinia, but for now he would rather not think about it. Soon those human skulls would get below the Earth, and their souls would be comforted by a man who clearly was compassionate to remember them, despite having no relation of family with them.
As he buried the last skull, he wept. It was beyond his control, no matter how tough and resolute he has behaved under such uniform. It was just too much to be aware that even in the holiest of all lands, evil still lurked and led people to have horrible fates, with tears being given as gifts to their families. He wondered if the Great Tribulation was already happened, although in a much less obvious manner than that some have predicted it would be.
Hoping that the souls of such poor individuals have been granted a place in Heaven rather than the fate of oblivion reserved to the iniquous and unbelievers. He considered it a fitting fate for those who did not believe in the afterlife, for in the view of Prazinians, only demons lurked in Hell, and for some, such Hell was Earth itself rather than another realm. A planet marked by tribulations, where most had a life of suffering and temptation, perhaps it was true, or perhaps not. What mattered is that he has made a difference for five lost souls, and now the trunk was clear for him to hide at safely.
And thus, climbing again above, this time with the help of the liana, he wore his backpack and slowly got inside the hollowed tree, doing his best to leave no traces. In an uncomfortable position, he still have managed to fall asleep, for his tiredness made the necessity of comfort irrelevant. At his last minutes awake, he has made a last prayer to God, and slept knowing the He would protect His son from the evils outside.
Chapter 1: To Know Good and Evil
From the uncomfortable confines of the hollowed out tree, the soldier slowly opened his eyes as a flickering light passed through his senses and his ears captured a strange and sinister chant ushered in occult languages. Looking at the night illumination coming from above at the hollow, he could almost know what was happening. He simply stood hidden for a while, to understand. For to fight against evil, it was necessary to take the risk of knowing it as a whole, and he felt that even in such dark moment, the Lord has never abandoned him.
Those dark rites were considered stuff of legends, for nobody has ever testified a black mass, or perhaps it could be a less obvious form of worship to the prince of darkness, a Neopagan ritual, and every sort of histories were told about them. Some claimed that demons would manifest physically, others that every satanic ritual would involve the sacrifice of an innocent child and many came spread even more horrible tales about what they would involve. He could not be certain, for his knowledge of such evil was limited, allegedly for his own good, however, now he was witnessing such ungodly ceremony as it happened.
The sounds were pretty uniform, the footsteps over foliage and dirt, the repetitive chant likely to be a summoning of devils, which meaning he could not translate, and the crackling of burning wood were all he could hear, and it seemed that it was only beginning. Soon among the circular footstep sounds thicker, heavier footsteps approached from the place. They seemed to be close to the position of the crackling flames, and then a hallowed voice, like that of a demon speaking through an human witch, cried, with the echoing chant blending with her voice:
"Brothers, the time for the dawn is nigh! Tonight the barriers between life and death wither as a new opportunity arises. For thousands of years the bearer of light has waited and prepared for the time to show the true way of enlightenment to the children of the foul godling, and now there is only one more act before the New Age begins. Amidst these wells of the sinful ignorance, a great power must be gathered from the deepest wilts of flesh."
He felt an uneasy feeling as the blasphemies were spoken against His name, like if foul spirits gathered all around the place, an will to make the might and justice of the Lord reach the depths of iniquity that dwelt beyond the safety of the hollowed trunk. He also wondered about his weapons, for they have never found them so far, and with nothing, he feared for the worse.
Soon the sameness of unholy noises was changed by the sound of something dragging against the foliages and dirt. By then he could no longer wait without seeing what exactly was happening. With caution the soldier raised his head to the height of the hollow, and began a stealthy climb through the insides of the tree to be able to look down close to the large branch.
There were five cultists dressed in pitch black robes, making a circle next to a upside down black cross on ground covered by a hide that seemed too familiar, likely an human skin taken after some sort of slaughter to the devil he tried to not think about. The witch, half-naked with nothing more than her underwear, like the whore of Babylon, stood over the cross, hiding the face and most of the body of the unfortunate victim that he knew to be there. He could only notice the bloodied white feet of the same, clearly womanly, nailed to the black cross, and felt a very unsettling sensation.
The witch seemed to be whispering something to the victim, who for some reason, although clearly agonizing, did not scream. At that moment, the soldier knew that they were about to commit a heinous crime and blasphemy against the Lord between the unholiest, as the witch stood on foot again revealing the rest of the body of the victim. The woman was completely naked, with both hands also nailed to the black cross and a crown of spikes piercing her head, letting blood run over her and pain her black hair with red, while from the amount of blood leaking from her mouth, he could only assume that those monsters have cut her tongue to further the suffering. Her torso was full of bruises and marks of brutality, with parts of her skin completely flayed, and he knew what they were going to do with such lost daughter of the Lord. He believed that it was a dark sexual magic about to begin, a burst of sodomy performed next the holiest of all symbols against an unwilling victim in the name of Satan.
However, they were six, and he only one. Alone, with no support in the material world against the performers of such unholy act, the soldier faced a dilemma in his mind. Should he do nothing, someone would have an horrible death and her dignity completely stripped, but should he act, he would risk his own life. He could still remember the words he said, his oath to the cause of the Lord as he joined the Army.
I shall never allow myself to fall upon temptation, or to put my life ahead of that of my brothers. I shall take whatever sacrifice is necessary to protect the children of the Lord, and I shall never, ever use the tools of the worldly war to worship the enemy by feeling pleasure and satisfaction from ending the already dead existences of the damned with needless brutality.
I shall accept any tribulation that comes, and never fear the enemy in the face of the Lord's will, until the day that my time comes to reside among the martyrs and saints in the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen
One of the cultists took off the robes as the others continued their unholy chant, revealing immediately his gender and manhood. At that time, the only bastion of goodness in that damned place could no longer wait for what they intended to do to happen. Preparing the stick from his backpack, which he has sharpened with his own teeth before, the soldier also putted the white cross under his uniform to the outside, and made a last mental prayer as he prepared to stop such brutal crime and blasphemy from happening. His observing eyes have already noticed that the witch had a dark dagger tucked to her belt, and after a quick thoughts, he finally transcended his mind to a higher plane of existence, repeating the same verses he has said before:
Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
For the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day.
A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold, and see the reward of the ungodly.
With a fanatical flame burning into him, he slowly climbed back to the branch, attempting to avoid making any noise, and watched the grove below as the demon under human skin prepared to abuse from an innocent. With no time to lose, balancing his feet over the branch, he rose himself, still unnoticed, and prepared to make his first strike, as he thought of the Holy Hymn.
We shall repulse the suffocaters of all ardent ideas
Those tyrants, robbers, torturers of peoples
Let noble fury boil up in a wave
There is a people's holy war
The dark wings dare not fly over our native land
The enemy dare not trample her spacious fields
Then pulling his arm all the way back in silence, he held the stick by its middle, and then swing his arm, releasing it like an improvised javelin as it flew downsides, and simultaneously, the soldier leaped to confront the foul worshipers. The unholy chant would soon stop as the head of the despoiler would be pierced by a mere stick, taking the man down and thus saving the dignity of the agonizing prey, for now. At the same moment, in a rush of adrenalin, the warrior of the Lord fell over one of the cultists, taking him down immediately, and prepared to face the numerically superior threat as the holy seals and ribbons floated hanging from his uniform like if rode by angels.
At the same moment of such dark night, in another corner of the world, a simple child dressed in a simple costume knocked a white wooden door, opened by an old lady in an humble attire with a simple wooden cross hanging from her neck, and asked in her fullest innocence:
"Tricks or treats?"
The leaves took flight as the head of the heathen crumbled to the dirt and the iron-lined boots of the holy warrior impacted with all force against him, crushing him into helplessness with the purest silence suddenly taking its toll. Using his knees and body beneath to absorb the impact, the holy one had little time to take advantage of the element of surprise, but it seemed very clear that they were not trained in the art of combat, being dishonorable scums used to backstabbing their victims. The shrubs dodged from the way of him as the three cultists charged against him with their bare hands. He knew that he equally had no weapon, and that the Babylon whore had an unholy knife.
However, believing that God was with him, he also charged against the three heathens, with his boots leaving uneven marks on the ground for the enemies ahead, who were less than five meters from him. Preparing his left fist to strike the closest of them, he lunged against him and thrust his arm with both middle and index fingers raised while he pulled his left arm to his right. With an intense impact, his fingers pierced through the eyes of the cultist, unleashing a spray of blood, and at the same time he lunged his elbow against the cheekbone of the one at his left, leaving him out of balance. By that time he felt as the fist of the other one of them bludgeoned through the left of his torso, with part of its impact being absorbed by his ballistic vest, and quickly, he took his fingers out of the eye-pierced corpse and made a downwards swing against the same with his closed fists. The mere wind displaced by the swing was sufficient to pull the cloak away, revealing the face of his enemy. A Prazinian lost forever to the the death of darkness, a man who seemed to be in his thirties with a brown hair and amber eyes, who would then simply fall as the righteous fist of the soldier reached.
With no wait, he stomped over the face of the fallen, breaking his nose and leaving him to bleed and wither. Aware of his still standing enemies, the solider then headed for the last of the cultists, who he has broke off later to gain enough time. However, something else caught his attention when he finally would understand why the sorcerer would not attempt to engage him. The disgusting woman stood next to the flayed and crucified martyr, preparing to commit the human sacrifice to the devils as she ushered strange words other than the original name of the dark angel. The soldier quickly scanned his surroundings, noticing the exact position of the source of the light which woke him up. A bonfire burning, with its flames calling upon a bearer to cleanse such tainted ones. Quickly taking a thick branch on the ground, he dashed through the dirt and foliage paths until the bonfire was next to him. Only paying attention to the sounds of steps from the cultist after him, he remained still.
Swinging the stick to the backside, he immediately noticed as the cultist simply began to cowardly run away for his wretched existence. And noticing he was gone, he immediately putted the tip of the stick next to the fire, and soon the flames crackled, igniting it. Now he had few seconds before it would be entirely consumed. Quickly, seeing as the witch prepared to murder the crucified one with the satanic dagger, he sprinted through the thirteen meters between him and her, holding the burning stick with both hands.
Driven by faith and instinct, he lunged against her and left the grab of his left hand over his only weapon, with his holy torch pointing to her bare skin, and quickly did thrust his left hand against her neck, using the weight of his own body to bring her down. She held firmly over the handgrip of her sinister weapon, until she finally hit the ground with him bouncing against her, crushing her against the mud as dirt covered both of their faces. Immediately he rolled off her, expecting her move as she stabbed her dagger against what was now thin air, with her arm stinging from the excessive force over her muscles. He quickly waved the still burning stick over her flesh and pressed its hot carbonized ashes against her bare skin, as she screamed of pain, a loud howl that echoed through likely many miles as he finally was ready to put her to the last judgment. Brutally stomping over the Witch, as unhealthy sounds of bones crackling were heard, the soldier had no compunction or compassion to the pagan, and quickly dragged her body through the dirt and shrubs, as she moaned and agonized of pain. Furious, he simply said in his motherland language:
"For this is the reward of the ungodly! What you'll suffer in your last moments of life is still too little for what you have done, foul whore! You shall burn witch, and only your ashes shall remain for your soul shall burn into nothingness like all the souls of the sinners and unbelievers!"
And as he said it, he could notice she was trying to say something, but the pain was a major deterrent to it. The bonfire only three meters away as the unholy one finally replied, agonizingly:
"I pity you, with no idea of what is beyond your primitive assumptions about the realms of the dead ones. That sacrifice was the last... the last hope between your so called god and your liberty... it was a necessary mean."
"Vanquish with your lies, demoness! I am a soldier of God and I will not fall upon the lies of your snake tongue", the warrior shouted, kicking her face again as she moaned, and to continue, he further added to his words:
"And if the Lord wanted to have us as slaves, he would never have given us free will. Hypocrite! It is your lord Satan who seeks to enslave humanity and destroy all freedom, even to its core in the free will that the Lord, blessed be His name, has given to all of us."
At the moment, the witch could feel the heat that was close to her, and as a last struggle, she spoke her last words with a weak, agonizing voice:
"I am not a Satanist, fool. There are much more here beyond what you could ever manage to understand. It is your ignorance, a curse that shall condemn you to a sealed fate. Why do you think that I have said Light Bearer instead of the Latin name for it? Why have your Lord authorized his 'Chosen People' to murder entire peoples, their women and children because they worshiped different gods?"
Ignoring the blasphemous words of the unholy one, he simply looked at her and said, knowing that it was more than faith that held his beliefs strong:
"Nothing made of flesh, bones, stone or wood can remain completely untouched by darkness. For even the word of God has been usurped by the deceit of the Beast through the Lion of Roman Empire, one of its many puppets, and in the council of Nicaea, the father of lies have tainted the sermons and written legacy of the long dead disciples of Christ to create the greatest perversion to the true Christianity: the Catholic Church."
"But why would the adversary of your god create something to hunt all pagans, including those who worshiped him? Do you not see that your god has created the perfect scapegoat? The truth is that your god and Satan are the same entity." she again countered, seemingly no longer caring about her inevitable fate.
"Liar! Shut up with you snake tongue and heresies against the Lord himself! Such blasphemy over the original teachings of our holy Jesus Christ came because that is how the prince of darkness rewards his worshipers: with, suffering, death and the ultimate oblivion in the nothingness of Sheol. For he is a trickster, who delights into cheating ambitious and lost souls with his sweet lies. And thus, he delighted into manipulating the church which was before of Christ into his own dark goals, to kill and torment his own worshipers, and also the innocent, and to speak more of him than of the Lord. Now witch, it is over. Burn, you sinful torturer, murderer and rapist of innocents!"
And quickly he violently pushed her body against the flames. The flames began to cover her entire body as she screamed in agony, and soon the screams stopped, and his duty was mostly fulfilled. Immediately, ignoring the charred corpse that would form in his wake and the smell of burning flesh, he went back to the location of the black cross, and looked at the suffering one. Taking a rag of the robe of one of the cultists he fought against, he pressed it against her bloodied face to cleanse it slightly before tending to her, and completely ignored the fact she was naked, like if a extremely strong will and discipline blocked his eyes from looking lasciviously at her body. Quickly, he spoke to her in his language as he removed the rag from her face, in a friendly, serene tone:
"It is over now, I will protect you and we are coming out of here. Just wait some seconds, I am bringing my equipment here to tend your wounds and take you out of this cross. But first, I have to look for medicine"
Although agonizing and clearly in pain, the face of the woman seemed less desperate, and her blue eyes more open as he spoke to comfort her. Immediately, he spotted the unholy dagger. Made of a black painted iron, its scabbard was inscribed with an ancient Slavic alphabet, and with great disgust, he touched such dark artifact with his hand, and immediately he heard a chorus of screams and torment, and felt a major tiredness and burden, like if the dagger was draining his own stamina. Flashes of flayed victims quickly passed through his sight, and shades seemed to move all around the clearing next to the bonfire.
Lord, give me strength
Wielding such damned tool of Satan was worse to him than all that he has faced before, for it seemed to carry the suffering and death of countless, and with much struggle, he lifted it next to the forehead of the lady, wrapped over a tight crown of spikes. Carefully pulling the dagger beneath the crown, he pushed it up, splitting the crown as the woman moaned. With his bare hands, he touched the crown and began to slowly removed it from her forehead as the woman screamed, even without her tongue.
Sighing, he dropped the dagger on the ground, looked around and noticed that one of the cultists he downed was crawling to his direction. With no hesitation, he stomped over his back and dragged his body to the bonfire like he has done with the witch, to also let it burn and the earth be cleansed of all the taint left from it. Finally, with everything clear, he could focus on giving first aid to the poor victim. Using again a liana to climb to the tree, he climbed it up, repeating the same old moves, and rigged his backpack to the improvised rope as he climbed down and pulled it to him. Again, he came to her, and immediately took an white bag with a red cross, and using his supply of water, antiseptics and of bandages, he wrapped a bandage around her pierced forehead, with she withering as he cleansed her wounds. Right after, he looked at her and said:
"I need to turn you down. It is the only way. This is going to hurt, but if I apply morphine to you now you might die, and I would rather not risk because I am not a field medic."
The woman weakly nodded, and the soldier then firmly stood his hands against the lower side of the black cross. With all his strength, he began to slowly lifted it, and sweating, he slowly turned it at sides as the woman screamed again. Holding his mind, he slowly allowed for it to incline down again to the other side, and let her softly land her face on the dirt. Looking at the places were the nail tips were hammered, he struggled again to wield the ungodly dagger, and pushed the first of the inclined nails, looking at its down side, where her both feet were nailed. Pressing the dagger against the inclined nail edge through his best, he slowly pushed it straight again, and it slowly slid off the cross, releasing much of the pressure the nail exerted against her feet. Thus, the tireless men, from a Knight Templar to a Knight Hospitaller, struggled against the unnatural haunts of the dagger and against his own physical limits to set the last two nails for removal. The woman also struggled on her own, trying to keep herself conscious among such suffering and torment. And soon, it was over. He easily pressed the dagger sturdy blades against the nails as they finally fell from the cross, and immediately, he dropped the cursed blade on the ground and made the same effort to pull the cross out of her back.
As it felt on the side, he immediately came to her and pulled her to face him. The flayed woman seemed to be already alleviated, but her trials were not over yet. Preparing more bandages, he first pulled the nail of her feet with his weary bare hands and quickly tended to the gap wounds, the woman winced but felt much more alleviated as he bandaged them.
"It is almost over, once it is, you must rest. Do not be afraid, I am a servant of the Lord, and through me, He shall protect you from any further harm."
The woman looked at him funnily as he spoke such words, until she winced again as he removed the nail from her left hand and tended to it. It was the most tiresome and mentally challenging day he has ever endured in his life, but a soldier of the Heavens could not hesitate or fear the darkness. With the last nail gone and his hands sore and slightly wounded from touching the crown of spikes, he at last could focus on simply tending on her remaining woods, and then on getting her something to dress.
And thus, after almost half an hour, he finally cleansed her body from all that could infect her, using the strewn fabric robes to avoid the direct of her skin to the soil, and bandaged much of her wounds and areas of her body without skin. The woman had agonized much during all the way, suffering enough for a martyrdom should she have died, but then, he finally took a syringe and a small vial off his white medic supplies bag, and filling it with a small quantity of the liquid, he looked at her and smiled:
"Your suffering is now over. Sleep well my lady. Tomorrow we will have much to do: be strong, for we cannot just wait here for help. It shall be hurtful, but you will have to walk with me after you manage to get on your feet again."
And the needle gently pierced through the skin of her right arm, with no wince coming from her, as the torment number her to such small pains, and soon she calmed down and relaxed as Morphine worked through her bloodstream and nerves. He then brought the cleanest of the robes of the cultists he killed, which was ironically that of the one who undressed himself to attempt abusing her, and slowly dressed her with it, while also taking one of their boots, for the soldier knew she would not be able to walk through such woods full of sharp plants and bugs without them. Tired, he observed as she felt asleep, seemingly happy despite all that happened her, for he believed the Lord has touched her heart. Looking around, he noticed the naked body of the man he killed with the sharpened branch, and also saw fit to dispose of it through the same way.
And thus, all the foul worshipers of false gods and demons burned by the wrath of the true God's servant, who in his watchful stance, struggled against the tiredness that overcame his body. He has done much and slept little, and for each minute that passed, keeping awake was more and more difficult. However, thoughts about all that happened seemed to help in his try to keep himself awake. And thus his mind analyzed all that has happened, recapping all he did bear testimony to.
First, I woke up in the middle of nowhere, after sleeping in my post next to Arkhangelsk, but I could not remember how I ended there. I believe I am in New Guinea, the home island of our people. Then I discovered a foul abyss, which may go all the way down to the realm of demons, and was haunted by invisible phantoms and nearly attacked by a manifestation of Beelzebub. But I managed to get out, only to find through divine insight a refuge in a foul storage of the skulls of victims of a luciferian ritual. From there, I put those old bones to rest and prayed for their souls, using the tree as a safe house. But then I was awakened by the ritual which brought those skulls to that place. And stopped a monster from defiling an innocent woman, and all their minions were cleansed with fire. Why did such woman meet my path? I still cannot believe I managed to take them out, or that I managed to hit straight through the head of that monster right in time. Perhaps the Lord has guided my hand, aware of my righteousness, and thus, to atone for those I had to kill, I tended to her. Is she important to the designs of the Lord? Is she the lady chased by the Dragon from the prophecies?
And by thinking on it, he remembered of those verses of the Bible.
And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered. And there was seen another sign in heaven. And behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns and on his heads seven diadems. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered: that, when she should be delivered, he might devour her son. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her son was taken up to God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, that there they should feed her, a thousand two hundred sixty days.
He immediately became aware that it could not be such woman mentioned, for there were no signs that such woman he helped was pregnant. In fact, the "woman" could simply mean a metaphor to something else, like the ten horns of the dragon represented ten supra-national governments that would replace all current governments according to his interpretation, preceding the kingdom of the Antichrist. Perhaps not all of the events were writ in books, and perhaps prophecies were not entirely writ in stone. But soon his thoughts vanished, as unable to further resist, tiredness finally got the best of him as he felt asleep next to the robed woman he saved the life and dignity of. It seemed that the more his mind had questions, more questions came rather than answers. Perhaps it was indeed coincidence, or perhaps a forgotten prophecy becoming true.
The feeling of something softly poking at the right side of his torso quickly came as the first sense in announcement of his awakening. With his alertness risen, the soldier immediately rolled to the left and prepared to get up, opening his eyes as his hands touched again the soil and his arms flexed down, and noticing in a dime of time something very strange about such new day, for the sunlight seemed to be even dimmer than before. Glimpsing quickly on the soil, with its gaps, shrubs and roughs, he immediately pulled himself up and turned around to face who or what has touched him.
Fortunately it was not an ungodly being. Instead, it was the woman, standing at her feet with the boots despite all her wounds and suffering, with the hood of the black robe lowered as her bandaged face showed little more than her blue eyes and long wavy hair, and farther behind her, the remains of carbonized wood and flesh altogether from the sinners consumed by fire. The eyes of the lady were deeply serene, with a clear sense of inner peace, despite all that she had endured, like if the hand of God has truly touched her, and most impressive of all, is the fact that her arms were extended, and her hands able to hold too objects despite their grievous wounds, with the unholy dagger at her left hand and the fabric he used to clean her face of blood at her right, stretched by gravity alone with a bloody imprint of her own face. Looking at the spots between the foliages of the tropical trees, he could confirm that the sky was indeed darker, however, what truly mattered to him was to understand how she has done that in her mental and physical condition. The dagger seemed to be completely inane to her, and she smiled at him, waving her right hand to indicate she wanted him to come closer.
With a paranoid thought coming to his mind, he cautiously walked towards her, and the woman began to look at him funnily from his behavior, but he ignored it, and looked around cautiously. It was difficult to find any natural track among such thick woods, and other than for a small variation or extension of shrubs and dirt among uneven trees, it seemed as uniform as before beyond the clearing. However, it could not be, for he knew how to differentiate a liar from a pure one, and she had none of the signs.
As he finally was right next to the woman, she gestured to the dagger and pointed to his backpack, which he had already putted on by that moment, and followed the gesture with the cloth. It was very clear what she was asking of him to do, and he pondered about it, finally asking:
"Why should I take them? The cloth is nothing but something with your blood, like many others clothes and bandages used to tend to the wounded. And this dagger, how can you hold such a demonic artifact with such proficiency, it should not be brought to the sacred grounds, but burned together with all the unholy!"
She simply passed the cloth to him, as he took it with his left hand and pointed to the visible sky with her index finger. Furthermore, the woman pointed to a patch of dusty dirt next to her feet, where slavic writings recently made were present. Looking at it, he mentally read them:
I am sorry, for I am as guilty as those you have burned, but you are correct: I have been cheated by something I could not understand.
Immediately, the soldier stared at her, but not with disgust of someone who has been an accomplice to unspeakable acts of evil, for he knew that such suffering have mauled her body, but perhaps saved her soul. Before answering to her, he accepted taking the black dagger. His hand reached slowly for it, and firmly grasped it as he heard the echoing screams of the past and felt the ungodly artifact sucking his life away. Quickly he dropped it on the ground, and later left his backpack on it as well, taking the peculiar canteen of holy water with its white cross, and a clean piece of cloth. Immediately, he doused the holy water over the cloth, and observed as a single drop fell over the soil, splattering in a tiny surface area, and small quantities of vapor erupted from where it was, like if the soil itself was tainted by the evils of such place. Then he suddenly stopped, and offered the canteen of blessed water to the woman. With no hesitation she quickly drank it, proving that she was indeed no longer under the influence. And finally, he quickly wrapped the humid cloth over the entire dagger, from the tip of its blade to its hilt, leading it to hiss like a vile snake, as some of the water evaporated over it.
The soldier then took the wrapped around dagger and putted it into one of the outer bags of his backpack, and into another, he also inserted the cloth like the woman requested for. However, the absence of demonic influence did not mean that the person itself was redeemed, for most of the greatest murderers and dregs of mankind had never any influence over theirs wills, doing their vile actions independently from greater sinister goals, but by their own twisted existences. Looking at her eyes with enough intensity to scan through her deepest secrets and differentiate truth from lie, he thus asked, in a last test to her:
"Do you regret the path of sin and depravity you have so far treaded upon? Will you never again engage into such heinous practices?"
With his eyes carefully scanning the expressions and lines of her face and eyes, the soldier observed as he nodded twice to him, never straying her eyes out of his own, and then simply looked at him. Her blue eyes were indeed as serene as the first impression he had about the woman at such moment hinted, and there were no signs of malice or deception with her. Yet, he simply stared at her, with she repeating the gesture, with time itself slowing down to a standstill. He did not know what exactly he felt about her, and speaking no words, he simply continued to look deeply at her eyes, innocent and hopeful.
After untold minutes have passed, he simply opened his arms and offered to her a hug, which she openly accept, despite her condition. As his hands landed on her back, he then said, regretting his former feelings about her:
"I am sorry to have distrusted you, we have been tricked so many times by our enemies that I cannot take any chances, specially in a clearly cursed place like this. You are completely different from what I expected. Maybe the Lord has guided me to save your soul, but still it does not explain anything about how you could held that damned object with no fear or dread."
She simply extended slightly her arms to opposite sides, and turned her bandaged hands above, expressing that she simply did not know why the dagger has brought no ill sensations to her. Before he could inquire more to her, she pointed at him, and again repeated the former gesture, and he assumed she did not know something about him. Logically, he replied what could be the most likely, with his thoughts still swirling about her, the abyss, his sudden awakening in that strange place and the tainted grounds.
"Are you asking who am I? Holy Soldier Dmitri Yatonosci, protector of Arkhangelsk. I will not ask your name now, and perhaps you have been punished for all the blasphemies you spoke against Him. But nonetheless, as a holy warrior, I am entitled to read your confession, should you wish to repent, although this is not either the right place or time for this. Nonetheless, you could also directly ask for forgiveness later, or if you still insist on walking through darkness, not: because it is all your choice, I cannot force you to convert."
Nodding quietly, but looking at him funnily, for she was clearly offended by some of his words, she gestured to all the surroundings and then to her, raising her eyebrows and finally pretending to write in an invisible paper with an invisible pen. He also knew what she wanted to express, and thus he finally discovered that the woman was the key for discovering what was happening. Then finally looked to the sunlight, and pointed to an specific direction to the south-southeast, and Dmitri, aware of what she was likely implying, asked:
"Is that the direction to their unholy base of operations?"
She again nodded, but then looked at her deeply, and passed her index finger from the left of her throat to its right, shaking her head and then showing both of her wounded hands with their fingers raised, and then only two fingers, and flickering both gestures as he interpreted them.
"Do many dozens of heathens lie ahead? Fear not, for the Lord shall guide my fist against all of them, for that is why I have been here today through strange events, awakening with no memory of how I arrived. Why I have witnessed the dark chasm to the gates of Hell itself. I am a soldier of the Lord, and I shall not fear any darkness!"
Sighing, the woman stretched her left arm and turned both hands on their sides, pulling the index finger of her right hand like if pressing a trigger, and again passed a finger at her throat.
"Lady, thank you for your advice to avoid them. I understand, for the Lord only protect the spirit, and I cannot let pride blind me to the limitations of my flesh, as only pagan misguided ones would ever believe in witchcraft to stop the tools of warfare. I believe you know this place better than me. Do you have any idea of where to go for reaching the safety of the soldiers and defenders of our faith and civilization?"
Quickly looking at the sky, the lady pointed to somewhere around northeast, and looked at him pleadingly, like if asking for help. At this moment, he finally notice how beaten down she was in stamina despite a seemingly renovation of her spirit. Politely, he pulled his arm around her back, and thus they began to walk to the direction she pointed at.
He walked at a slow pace, noticing how she winced at each step, struggling against he excruciating pain that the nails have provoked, only lessened by his crafty ways of evicting a major infection. Supportive, he always pushed her, and sometimes would go as far to simply take her on his lap as she could no longer stand such symbolic Via Crucis. Supporting much of her burden, he still could not simply consume all his stamina, and after ten minutes carrying her on his arms like a gallant knight, he simply let her on her feet again, as their journey through the jungle was already completing an hour. He then stopped, and sat upon the ground with her, as it seemed that evening was about to arrive, something a bit less easy as days became darker.
Out of curiousity, he poured yet another drop of the blessed water from his special canteen, but this time, it did not evaporated with a hiss, indicating that at least, they are already away from the cursed ground. Then Dmitri again stared at her bandaged face and blue eyes, and said:
"Are we in New Guinea? How further hours of walk will it take before we reach the nearest town or city? I hope you can endure this painful tread. You are a strong woman to wake up and stand by your own after all that happened, and I believe that even in the darkest paths, you are still watched by Him. No offense intend, but I find it strange how you shed no tears for your suffering."
She simply nodded, rose two fingers indicating two hours, but otherwise answered him with a silent gaze, and no obvious expression, like if unwilling to answer his doubts at the moment. However, a glint of sadness came to her eyes, like if she need not to weep for such, or simply had something compensated by it. Although silent for a while, simply watching him, she eventually pointed to her groin using the best way to avoid being provocative she could, and smiled at him.
"And I have never seen someone so optimistic as you, who can still have good, serene thoughts and feel glad with merely being alive after all you went through." he said, pondering on how she thought that at least it was not worse rather than crying and sobbing about the traumatic experience, as he unpacked another jerked meat, and splitting it with his own hands, offered a small slice to her. The woman masticated in a quite loud way, and lowered and raised her head to compensate for the lack of a tongue, until finally looking up as she digested it in a strange way he raised no eyebrows too, aware of her impairment. Then, in such humble supper, which hopefully would not be their last, the man offered a canteen of water to her, to which she took only a few seeps, before giving it back with her hands, between one wince and another.
No matter how she seemed to express a strong resolve to overcome the stressing trial, he still pitied her, and looking at her, he spoke with a large smile:
"It is not all over. Lord forgive me if I am sinning from saying this, but as there are ethical means to develop it, I believe that one day you could have your voice again through stem cell implants. But you must be prepared to accept such fate, for it is only a possibility, and should the Antichrist tempt you by offering a voice in the near future, remember that your freedom and soul are more important than a tongue."
Shrugging, she gestured negatively, pointing to the white cross of his chest and to her, as he understood she simply did not believe in that prophecy, despite all she likely witnessed in the shadows. Aware that he could not force her to make a choice, as she clearly would never again mess with the occult, he could only hoped that she would not end an atheist to end with no afterlife like, ironically like what such skeptics believed. Looking at the darkening sky, Dmitri faced her and spoke:
"We have to go, those foul minions will eventually discover the fate of their judged heathens, if they have not already, and search for us! We must reach safety in the places still lit by the holy stones and workings!"
Nodding, she slowly got up, wincing of pain, and Dmitri gave her a hand. And then they continued their path through the darkening forest. The woman constantly breathed heavily and winced, but he could notice how she did not seem to give up. A long travel was on the way.
Night has fallen, and amidst the total darkness, the soldier took his trusty flashlight again to enlighten his path, aware that no matter how risky it would be by revealing their position, otherwise they could easily get lost, or surprised by the bite of a venomous snake. Other than crocodiles, which seemed to be very unlikely to be found as they found no rivers in their path, there were not much of predators to threaten or cross their way.
Sometimes he wondered how she could endure such long walk with so big gap wounds over her feet, for it could it be natural resilience, a very strong resolve or the direct action of the Lord. Nonetheless, sometimes she gave the impression she was about to let herself fall over the dirt, gravels and shrubs, yet she never ceded to the most essential of the wishes of her physical body. The journey although peaceful, seemed eternal, yet time seemed to not bother neither of them, with the way ahead being enlightened by his flashlight and perhaps by the hand of God. Likely have passed, and no sign yet of civilization. It was impossible to be sure how many hours, and then, the woman began her fall against the ground, finally ceding to her serious frailty of health. He quickly attempted to hold her, but it was too late, as the side of her head thumped against the soil and her robe clashed with the dust, and she screamed of pain, although in a much less intense and disturbing manner than before. Quickly, Dmitri knelt next to the woman, enlightening her face with the light, and offered her his hand, speaking:
"Are you all right? I believe we are almost there, I can feel it is almost over now."
She simply nodded again, and grabbed his arms, pulling herself to her feet while he felt the weight of her body. Wimping, she slowly regained her strength and took a few, hesitant steps ahead, as he held her arm. Despite her suffering, the struggle seemed to have been overcome as she walked again with him. The distance between each tree was much larger than before, letting visible but omnipresent trails appear, which perhaps was a hint that they were already getting to its outskirts.
And at last, they saw at a few hundred of meters a sign of civilization, a plain road which crossed the jungle, albeit perfectly maintained, however with no sign of any vehicle coming through it, and thus perfectly deserted as well. The woman breathed heavily, and noticing how difficult it has been for her, Dmitri quickly grabbed her by the back and carried her again through the last steps, while keeping a hold of his flashlight. Also breathing heavily, the soldier struggled to carry her, although she certainly did not weigh much, and as his boots treaded through the soil, alleviation was his only feeling, for it seemed to finally be over, and as there were less than a hundred meters between the road slightly elevated above the grounds and them, he again would thank God for everything in his thoughts.
The road seemed less distant at each step he took, a sign that their current tribulation was nearly over. Then he felt her poking him again, to call his attention, and immediately looked at her face. The woman pointed her finger to their back and clearly demonstrated fear. Immediately, he turned off the flashlight, and using his remaining strength, he sprinted through the last meters, nearly throwing her off balance, aware that they were coming and that he had no way to fight them. Between one puff and another, the road closed in, and looking behind, he could notice beams of light among the distant trees looking after them. He slowed his pace as he climbed the small mound, but at last, they were next to the road.
However, the woman was right about their numbers, and quickly the man ran to the woods to the other side of the road, looking for somewhere to hide. Putting her down at a large shrub, he also crouched and observed the road from there. Like flies, a crowd of cultists in their same black robes began to fill the road and look around, with their AN-94 assault rifles clearly visible. Yet among them, a single figure stood out: a man dressed in a dark blue camouflaged uniform, unarmed, with a glint of darkness and insanity in his eyes that could be notice even in such distance and light conditions between him and them. They began to scour the woods nearby, with their steps and presence ever close, looking for tracks and attempting to find him and the woman, and almost immediately, surrounded him, even not knowing where he was. Tense, Dmitri simply closed his eyes, aware that he could no longer escape, and in his thoughts, he prayed:
Lord, You who hast guided my hand to vanquish the foul and tend to the flock and disciples, You who hast guided my feet to the path of safety, I ask of You again: protect me in this dark moment, for my time is nearly at an end, and give me strength to face the heathens, should that become the only way. I shall never fear the darkness.
With a surge of courage, he again opened his eyes, and observed as they messed with the brushes, pointing their lights at them attempting to find him. Minutes have already passed into such agonizing wait for being defeated, as one of them approached, and his heart beats fastened, for his time was nigh. He was little more than a few meters from them, and Dmitri knew what to do. He only hoped that she has regretted her sins, should their lives end at such moment, but he still faithfully remained his silence hoping God would protect him. The cultist took another step close to them, and passed his light over the shrub they were hidden as he instinctively got entirely down, nearly depressing the dirt with his cheek, and then, looking up again, he silently relaxed as the cultist simply unraveled another shrub nearby. However, that was no consolation, for the same unholy immediately approached his position, and mentally praying to the Lord, he watched as less than a meter separated him from the cultist and he approached his arms from the edges of the shrub.
The woman was clearly on despair, and holding her tightly, he tried to console her about it. With his fist prepared, he awaited for his last fight, for the sacred would never surrender to the satanic servants. Thus, he timed his reaction as the foul individual was about to discover his presence.
Then a new source of light came from the road, spotted by his peripheral vision, and with it, the roaring noise of a machineguns, it seemed that his prayers were answered. It was a grey armored truck, likely full of machinegun nests in its cargo hold, spreading judgment to the heathens in a spray of fire, and Dmitri sighed as the cultists began to run through the depths of the forest, with many of them falling down to the attack. The truck had the symbol of the Inquisition, the dark golden "I" next to the darkness of the world with the spear of destiny drawn perfectly over the truck thick doors and cargo hold sides. Soldiers wearing grey vests manned the machineguns, exposing themselves to enemy fire, although nothing came as the cowards ran away.
Knowing that such was likely their only opportunity to arrive at safer areas, Dmitri looked at the woman, and gave her a push to get up again, as the same repeated her expressions of pain. Pointing to the truck, now stationed, to perhaps gun down any cultist daringly enough to return, the soldier said:
"We have to get up. Come on lady, the Lord has truly blessed us tonight. And keep that hood down, and don't show fear. For everything they ask, always gesture the truth, and whenever I speak, let me answer their questions. They will be suspicious, for they have fought against the unholy for many years and are aware of their ploys. And please," he said, taking the white cross of his neck and offering to her, as she acceptedly wore it, nodding.
"This way they will see you are not unholy and not shoot on sight. Lets move, for they will not stay there forever."
And thus, they began to walk slowly towards the truck, which searchlights slowly beamed through the dark forest, and after few seconds, one of those would finally enlighten them, as Dmitri momentarily became blind from the strong light, and a voice shouted in Russian from a speaker in the vehicle:
"Halt! Approach slowly the road! You wear the uniform of the holy soldiers and the woman next to you a holy symbol despite her dress. After you reach the road, you have five seconds to explain who are you, and for you, suspicious one: why are you wounded and with your hands bandaged woman. If this is a trap, you are both going to die, do you hear it?"
And thus, complying, both walked towards the vehicle, with the woman clearly demonstrating her pain as they took the last steps. When both of their boots touched the road, he looked above at the strong light and said:
"Holy soldier Dmitri Yatonosci, protector of Arkhangelsk and servant of God in one of the last outposts of civilization and goodness. I have witnessed many unnatural and unholy events in the last two days that I have to testify to. As for this woman, she cannot speak for herself, for the foul ones have stolen her voice. She has suffered much in their hands, and now seeks for redemption."
With no hesitation, the speaker echoed again the voice, as it asked with no compassion to the battered condition of the lady:
"Arkhangelsk? Do you know what happened to Arkhangelsk's outpost? Woman! I will ask you some questions, and you'll gesture your answers to me! First, are you a witch?"
She shaked her head in negation, as the soldier smiled at her. and thus a battery of questions would further come, to which she would reply honestly, revealing her darkest secrets of her own volition.
"Were you a witch?"
"Have you ever killed someone for false gods or Satan?"
"Have you ever engaged in the most unholy of sodomies?"
"Did you feel pleasure from inflicting misery upon the innocent?"
"Would you now feel pleasure from engaging in such foul acts?"
And as the woman nodded in reply to all questions, the soldier looked at the direction of the truck and said, noticing how weak and battered the one to his side was:
"Brothers, she needs help and medical care. She has passed through many tribulations and suffered much. I have seen deeply into her eyes as she said she would never again deal with the darkness, and I can assure you all she replied is truth."
Regardless of his pleas, they insisted on questioning her for all she has done, and finally, the ultimate question came, which could easily determine her fate, and perhaps even his:
"Do you regret worshiping the ungodly and doing their caprices?"
Again the woman nodded, letting some sadness come of her eyes, like if offended by the way they doubted of her word. The soldier then greeted them with a military salute, hoping they would finally let them in. The light moved away from his sight, as his eyes finally became clearer about the truck. A soldier, wearing a light grey battle dress unit with an equally grey ballistic vest covering his entire torso, came from the back of the truck and looked at them. He then immediately said:
"Let me help her get up. I understand you have endured much in the jungle soldier, and you even more lady. I only hope that you will truly redeem yourself from the brutal sins you committed. Come on woman, grab my hand, you will be in safety. We cannot risk staying here for much time."
He then accompanied the soldier, who gave his back as a support to the woman as they walked to the back of the truck, with its wall putted down as a ramp. And both climbed it, with its inside filled with soldiers and a few elevations to the machinegun positions, and there were enough vacant seats for them both, as she sat next to Dmitri, and the soldier who guided them there looked at her for a while:
"Lady, God has given you a great second chance, and this man has risked his life to save yours and your soul. Please, think about it, do not waste such chance, for most who have taken the unholy path you walked through before never had such opportunity."
And she simply looked at him in silence, with a strange serenity, as the soldier immediately smiled and looking at Dmitri, and the truck compartment closed behind them with an hydraulic system, as it began to move through the road. Then a man with brown hair and a simple beard came in, with an cross with a single black and white star as his insignia to his left should and the letter I to his right, besides several blessed seals and ribbons hanging from his light grey uniform. It was likely their leader, who addressed to the soldier speaking to the woman.
"Knight Novoroski, you are dismissed. take your time to sit down and relax now because we have much yet to do in this darkest hour. I know you are all impressed by finding a survivor of Arkhangelsk in the middle of nowhere and a former witch who seems to have regretted her sins, but please calm down and be patient to listen."
"Yes, Arch-knight Treblinski." the soldier then said, and walked cautiously in the moving truck to his seat, next to some of his friends.
Dmitri then felt a dagger striking against his heart as his heard a mention of survivor. He feared for what they would tell him about it, that all his friends were dead by an unholy act. Tchowkosvki, if he was truly gone, it would have been the second greatest loss other than losing someone of his own family. Thus, looking down, he asked, for no matter how horrible, he knew that truth had to be told:
"Arch-knight Inquisitor Treblinski, I have much to testify, and also many questions to ask. But first, I do not wish to be spared of the truth about what happened to the outpost I served at."
The leader immediately looked at him with his brown eyes, and offering him a handshake, he then slowly pondered about something, until finally Dmitri got some of his answers:
"Soldier, prepare your heart to hear this about your outpost. It has become an unholy and haunted ground. For an unknown reason, most of your brothers have been tainted and betrayed us. They allowed for a legion of raiders from South Australia to pillage the town of Arkhangelsk in exchange of bribery, and it took not much longer as demons took the opportunity to influence and even control them. Except for you and soldier Tchowkosvki, all of them have been lost. Thousands have died, and thus, we had to inflict our justice upon the traitors. But when we arrived, we have seen only rotting corpses and sensed legions of demons in the place, and thus we burned it to the ground with holy flames. That was only one of many things that happened, soldier, and I think the apocalypse is nearest than ever. Now, before I answer further questions, after you get yourself over it, could you give me a brief report of what you have witnessed?"
Sighing, he could almost let a tear come from his eyes, for discovering that so many that he held as friends have betrayed everyone. People with whom he lived for years, talked with, shared a sleeping room with. Many who were very close to him. The idea that even the holiest could commit such treasonous act abhorred him. However, curiousity to know what was happening soon overcame his sadness, and Dmitri immediately asked, as the woman touched his shoulder with her wounded hand for a while, despite her winces, attempting to console him, for it was the least she could do after all he did to her.
"Treblinski, I have to know which day is now before I answer you, because I have a suspicion that I must confirm about all that happened."
"Today is first of November soldier, and yes, I can guess what you suspect: that these events are somehow related to that satanic holiday the tainted West known as Halloween. But I don't believe it is the sole reason for them, because last year, nothing strange has truly happened in October twenty-first. It was only used because of its occult meaning, and is not the direct cause of this."
Nodding, he then finally began to tell him what he has witnessed, with his own words, as the woman next to him listened attentiously to their conversation:
"After sleeping in the crew quarters of the outpost, I mysteriously woke up in the middle of the jungle, wearing my uniform, which I don't remember putting one before waking up, and with none of my weapons in sight, except for my backpack and its supplies. Then I have walked untold kilometers, until finding the unholy sight of an abyss so deep that its bottom could not be seen, from where I could sense the ungodly presence and curse of such place. I walked around it to continue in my way, and have faced an immaterial manifestation of Beelzebub I could see with my own eyes."
The arch-knight suddenly interrupted him as he spoke, with his expression being of surprise and pondering:
"This makes everything worse than I thought, carry on with your history soldier."
"I managed to get over the abyss, after having to stop to witness something even more strange. An helicopter of darkness flew right at its center, and threw an human being, I could not see who, or if such was alive or dead from the distance, but only it falling into the abyss, as the helicopter again departed. Thus I have managed to cross around it, although night was coming and I had to rest. Blessed by the Lord, I found shelter in a hollowed tree, in its top, but the same housed the remains of the victims of the same type satanic ritual that I impeded this woman at my side from being a victim of. The skulls had holes in their forehead region like if crowns of spikes pierced them, and seemed all female from the shape of their jaws. I buried such skulls and prayed for their souls before sleeping inside the tree."
Nodding, Treblinski simply looked at the woman, noticing the large bandage around her forehead, and how similar such torture was to what was done to Christ, meaning that such ritual was likely to be a blasphemy of the worse sorts, like confirmed by the continuation of Dmitri's tale:
"I woke with with the light of a bonfire, and with chants in satanic languages, as a witch prepared to sacrifice her victim, who now sits to my side. They have crucified her naked, flayed much of her skin and tortured her in unspoken ways, and were ready to defile her body with the most heinous crime done by many. Then I have intervened and fought then with only my bare hands and my faith, putting them to justice and to the flames, and tended to her wounds. We have slept then, and she woke me up, standing despite all her suffering. We made our way through here based on her guidance, and then they came after us as we hid and I prayed for the Lord to protect us. When you arrived, a satanist was about to discover and kill us, or worse. And finally, the woman could not explain much because of her condition, but she knows how to write, thus once she recovers, she could testify as well, to finally explain what such unholy ground with the chasm means, how they have access to things like helicopters and why darkness is slowly growing."
Nodding, the Arch-knight simply replied to his tale, with a pleased face of someone who has unraveled a large piece of a greater puzzle:
"Dmitri, I believe that the hand of God has touched both you and her with a blessing, and whenever He intervenes, it means that a prophecy is about to be fulfilled. I could now tell you more about what is happening, but you would only understand it if you saw it by yourself as I told it. Be patient, soldier, for such is a virtue of the holy warrior, you have answered many of my doubts with your testimony, and gave to us a small hope that we were not forsaken. Soon many of yours shall be."
And thus, he nodded to the arch-knight of the Inquisition, as the truck made its way to civilization. Time took its toll, and soon half of the soldiers on the truck were sleeping sat down, and the woman also was. Dmitri observed the night sky, with the stars much dimmer than before, and moonlight vanished and pale. Soon the noise of the truck engine would be interrupted by the distant roars of jet engines on the skies above. Their leader, still awaken, looked at Dmitri, and he could not hold his curiousity as he witnessed the sound of the birds of combat:
"Arch-knight Treblinski, is the war of spirit extending to the war of matter?"
To which, Dmitri, expecting the obvious answer, quickly listened to an answer:
"Yes soldier Dmitri, but not in the most obvious and expectable way, for this war is not something the worldly media of the false prophet has ever televised, and that few are aware of. Do not worry, this vehicle alarm will wake us up should things go as unplanned, and I will be watching things from here. Rest now soldier, I have much to tell you and to offer you of enlightenment tomorrow."
Not exactly because of what the man has said, but of sheer tiredness, Dmitri has eventually fallen asleep, observing the night sky, for the next day had much in the ways of revelation. One of the horsemen of the apocalypse could be riding right at their holy nation. Truth would soon reach the ears of Yatonosci.
For a while, perhaps it was a pleasant sensation to finally wake up with the voice of someone calling him, for no clearest sign could come that he again has reached civilization and the areas under complete order of the Holy Republic. The voice was familiar, and he knew who was speaking before even opening his eyes, and the same was not interrupted by any engine sound:
"Brother Dmitri, awaken! Our time is shorter for each second lost!"
Immediately, he raised his head and opened his eyes, feeling the inevitable soreness of someone who slept onto a tight and uncomfortable seat of an assault transport truck. He slowly rubbed his eyes to help himself to wake up. Strangely, the light of the day did not assault his eyes, for apparently he slept for the entire evening, unless something else was happening, and next to him, in the otherwise empty truck, Arch-knight Treblinski stood in his holy battle attire, and at daylight, no matter how dim it was, the white cross over his ballistic vest was even more visible, as were many other holy symbols, but strangely no medal was given to him. With the curiousity of always, he already began his November second asking questions, as he saluted him:
"Good day Arch-knight Treblinski, it is great to see we are in safety, I presume the woman was taken to an hospital. Could you answer me the hour and the place we currently are at?"
The eldest soldier simply looked at him, and with no hesitation was quick to reply the doubt of Dmitri, as he wondered if the darkness was even getting farther, and where the woman he saved was:
"Dmitri, I have to unfortunately tell you that now it is eight of the morning, and this is how the daylight came as the shadows grew even darker. As for our location, we are currently in the gates of the Inquisition headquarters of the city of Yakutsk. I have already reported your testimony to my superiors, and soon I will answer all your questions I can with what we know about these unholy happenings in Prazinia, as you have given us a piece of the puzzle with what you know."
And with an interruption, Dmitri then looked at him and asked, remembering of her, and of all her plight, and commitment to never give up. Few people had the resolve that woman demonstrated to him, and he could not leave her bandaged face out of his mind:
"There is only one who would know the truth, where is she?"
And almost instantaneously, Treblinski replied, avoiding initially the basic, as Dmitri wondered about why, but soon realized.
"Once that former witch is in condition to write, then I believe truth shall surface about what is truly happening, for we have only uncovered the flesh, and you and her have uncovered the spirit. Do not fear about her, she is currently in the sickbay of our compound, being tended by some of our great doctors and nurses, which is the safest location in the Holy Republic, and no heathen shall ever pass our blessed sentinels."
Looking at the leader, Dmitri nodded, but still had a feeling he could not leave her alone, and at least had to take a visit to her. Expectingly, he questioned:
"I wish to visit the woman, Treblinski. I do not want to leave her alone, and we must lead by example, thus, the more compassion she receives, the more likely she shall embrace the word of our Lord."
The man ahead of him seemed a bit surprised, but nonetheless made a positive expression, albeit not agreeing with Dmitri's will in its entirety:
"Dmitri, I believe you should know our pieces of the greater truth first. Then I shall take you to her room. Come, we have held much from you, to protect your innocence, for you were not specially trained to fight in the war of spirit, and by not knowing it, you would be better prepared for the war of flesh. But now many of such secrets are no longer relevant, after what you have witnessed."
Clearly surprised by his answer, the simple soldier could not in his life imagine he would ever be told something like this. That he was worthy of some of the greatest secrets of the legendary Inquisition. An institution which urban legends attributed as the protectors of the Ark of the Covenant, of the Spear of Destiny itself, and of the Holy Grail, filled with mystery and secrecy, and entitled with safekeeping the darkest artifacts. But before asking why, he reminded of the dark dagger he kept, pondering if it could bring some answers. Derailing from the subject, he then looked at the man and said:
"Before anything, I have forgotten to mention something in my spoken report. When I rescued her, I captured a cursed dagger, with its blade as black as made of shadows, from the witch. The woman asked for me to bring it, I do not know why, but it was the first time I have experienced the dark touch of an unholy artifact draining my very life away. I never believed such things could truly exist before. I wrapped it in a cloth bathed by holy water. Let me show you."
Opening an outer bag of his backpack, he took the dagger wrapped around a white cloth and handed it to Treblinski. The Inquisitor looked curiously at the blade, and cautiously unwrapped the cloth from it as what Dmtri spoke was confirmed. At the side of the cloth that directly touched the blade, there were visible scorch marks, life if the dagger has burned in touch with the blessed water, what has truly happened. and then, the man whispered a prayer as he unwrapped the hilt of the dagger, looking at the strange writings in it as he tried to avoid touching the same directly for a while. Then he daringly grabbed it. The man's face expressed immediately a shock, and his hand opened, letting the blade fall on the metallic floor of the truck, twisting for a few moments before it stopped. Gesturing for Dmitri to bring some of his own stuff, he immediately complied and took the holy water canteen from his backpack and a clean cloth, dousing it with the liquid as he quickly wrapped the dagger over again, unleashing another hissing sound as it seemed to burn in contact with the water.
Dmitri then took it again with his hand, and looked as Treblinski seemed to have a very surprised look, which soon translated into his voice:
"Dmitri. We have witnessed pens and glass cups temporarily withholding fallen angels, but we have never found anything like this dagger. There is a demon inside it, with its touch limited to those who wield the blade with their bare hands. Those hearsays were wrong about our order safekeeping cursed artifacts, until this exact moment you brought me this. You have seen demon visible to the naked eye, a dagger used for the darkest brutalities holding a foul spirit, an abyss to the bowels of earth. It is worst than we have thought. Thank you for so much insight, now come, you are deserving of knowing some of our secrets, and about what is happening."
Nodding, Dmitri walked to the outside, stepping on the truck ramp, as the man took the dagger and putted it inside a bag. It was parked in an internal parking lot, and was the only, for all other vehicles were much smaller, albeit also adorned by the symbols of the Inquisition and painted in light grey, and next to it, a large but humble square-shaped construction amidst four meter tall walls, built like a fortress, with no redeeming features in its aesthetic other than its sheer simplicity and holy symbols, or for the vitral decorative glasses of its lobby that Dmitri spotted. About ten sentinels watched constantly the arrivals and departures of the place, with a quite intimidating gate encircled by machinegun positions and sandbags, except for a very small space to allow vehicles to pass through. On the walls, unmanned missile launchers stood, and the only truly distinguishing landmark of the building, which seemed to have four stores, was the anti-air missile battery on its top.
No matter how the building was simple, there was much distance between it and the walls, where an humble but beautiful garden stood in contrast to many weapons, and where artificial elevations and presence of anti-tank weaponry made of it a fortress for any ground force unable to outrange them. Dmitri did not pay much attention to it, and instead followed the Inquisitor as they treaded to the entry hall, where a very simple black rug stood with the "I" symbol and Russian writings about fighting against the occult and faith.
The doors were solid wood, but completely undecorated, and two watchers stood next to them, with their AK-107s lowered, and with an unwavering discipline, they simply accompanied them with their eyes and continued in their solid stance.
As the wooden doors opened, a large hall was revealed, painted in white and with its floor being the most outstanding thing, decorated in a mosaic of white crosses and inquisition symbols and golden words in Slavic alphabet. Dmitri accompanied further Treblinski, noticing a spiraling staircase to the left, leading to a mezzanine above, an elevator to the center which also had a visible door in the mezzanine, and a corridor to the right at the end of the entrance hall. Soldiers and digital scribes wandered around the place to go for their tasks, but as soon as they arrived, many of them stopped walking for a while to look at both before walking on.
Dmitri noticed as again, the Inquisitor addressed him to explain something important, and wondered where they were going:
"Dmitri, You must see it first, then I shall tell you everything as you witness them with your own eyes. Lets take the elevator, for only from a position in the highs we can see the greater whole of what we are facing."
Curious, he nodded and followed the man to the elevator, as they stepped through the elegant and meaningful floor, where there seemed to be a building message to those who treaded in such place, but with no time to read it carefully, he just followed on. Treblinski pressed the button, and it immediately opened its doors. It was so humble that it even lacked a mirror, although technologically able and very well maintained. Pressing the button to the topmost terrace, the Inquisitor looked at him and said:
"I believe you had too many things to remember again, and the same could be told of me. I have forgotten to mention that your friend Tchowkosvki. He is fine and well, but you must know he is risking his own life, and is ready to sacrifice it for the Lord, just like you are. He is currently part of a deployment to further our holy cause."
Nodding, Dmitri then reminded of his friend, and wondered about such war that he heard briefly about. As the elevator ascended, he knew that part of the answers he wished were about to come. Thinking about it, he then realized how his duty could distance him from the woman, and after three seconds of silence, he then asked:
"Brother, I would be very glad if I were allowed to serve our cause in this city. I do not want to be away from her, for I believe she is truly important, and for I feel something for her. I cannot say what exactly it is, but I want to stay with her."
Treblinski smiled and looked at him, laughing softly, like if Dmitri has made a completely wrong assumption, which he would soon realize:
"You do not currently belong to the Inquisition, thus you can only serve of your own choice as a volunteer rather than of commitment to duty and to the oath. I shall not press you, for what you have already done has been a great help, but should you wish to fight, I am certain that this place will require warriors more prepared for attacking than for defending. Look, just more two seconds."
And the doors of the elevator opened, revealing a large but very simple terrace, looking more like a maintenance area than as a decorative piece of architecture, with its center covered by a large, grey machine of war loaded with missiles of nearly ten meters of length, aiming to the skies where nothing came, as if waiting for the irate flight of dark birds. White crosses were at each corner of the terrace, and an "I" symbol stood in what seemed to be a part of such floor dedicated for helicopters. A tall steel wall served to avoid those who walked in it to accidentally fall down, but they still allowed for much to be seen, and had strange openings, similar to those of stone walls of castles of ancient times.
"Come with me, to the southwest corner of the terrace!" said Treblinski, as he treaded through the way, taking a quick glimpse at the position of the extremely dim morning sun to orient himself. As he approached the corner between the protective walls, Dmitri observed the cityscape. Close by, nothing truly different could be seen, and in the streets next to the towering fortress citizens continued their normal lives, ignoring the darkness through the force of faith alone, and working for the communal good of everyone in the professions they have chosen. Houses were different in style and paintwork, to reflect the individual will of the faithful, but equal in size to reflect their equality. However, such normality did not extend to the far horizon of the southwest, from where it was difficult to understand exactly what was happening, due to the distance, but where the trails of smokes raising to the skies hinted much of it. He could notice however, a far ruined church among the smoke and flames, and considering the efficiency of the firefighters, the reason was more obvious than ever, but he still had to understand the causes.
"Treblinski, who or what has divided and corrupted our people? Who are the enemies in our home? And how far do they legions extend."
The Inquisitor then turned around to face Dmitri, and with a visible burden in his face, like if unwilling to give him an answer. His holy seals seemed to be slightly battered, like if something challenging the blessings such man has received, and in such dark morning, anxiety turned upon him as the soldier awaited for an answer only given by the disillusioned expression in the brown eyes of the Inquisitor.
Seconds have passed, and the smokes continued to raise, Dmitri stood patiently for the answer in the terrace, when finally, the silence was shattered for the name of their enemy to be revealed by his shocking words:
"Our fleshly enemy is the traitor and fallen reverend Boris Mikanovich O'Brien, current president of the Fallen Republic of Prazinia, now a puppet of the satanic New World Order."
There was no way for Dmitri to ever imagine that even among the holiest, temptation could corrupt and taint some, his mind was in shock as the Inquisitor ushered on how the very man who constructed the foundations of the Holy Republic betrayed all of them. His eyes clearly lowered down in disappointment to have heard such ominous news, for he could not bear to admit that such historical man, the founder of Prazinia would ever betray them.
Putting his hand over his face, Dmitri sighed, thinking on how such man was lost. It was ironic that the same who created the humanity's last hope against the impending Apocalypse was also the first to fall into perdition, with no further chances of achieving the kingdom of Heaven. The soldier simply spoke then, letting for a while his doubts cede as negation tried to push him into ignoring the truth:
"Treblinski, once again it is proved that all earthly thrones belongs to only one. Our holy land has fallen under demagoguery, with many of its people lured and fooled by the trickster, and now, we will have to fight not against distant enemies and demons, but against misguided innocents. How could we have allowed for this to happen?"
Grabbing his hand and putting it away from his face, the Inquisitor pointed again to the direction of the turmoil in the southwest, where the smokes did not fade, and said:
"Not only Boris has never let our people down before, but also, the betrayal and the cabal beneath it, subtle and unscrupulous that they have managed to convince many that we are the traitors of the Prazinian vision, relying on the tools of demagoguery and on the excessive trust many of ours had for him. We will be fighting against our own brothers, and the Republic has been divided. "
Interrupting his speech to think on which words to say, he finally finished his line of thought, for clearly, pointing out the greatest dilemma of any holy warrior, something nobody could ever find a solution to:
"Wars of flesh are dangerous, for they weaken us in the war of spirit: Innocence cannot justify the surrender of our freedoms and souls to them, and in all wars of flesh, most who die are innocents, strengthening the Enemy in the spiritual world."
Nodding, Dmitri knew he could not ignore the truth of what happened. Things were starting to tear apart and from the day the morning came dark, he wondered if sun would even rise again tomorrow. He had yet to know how and when the president has betrayed them, and how were their odds against such traitor.
"It is difficult for me to cope with this, but the closer we come from truth, the freer we become, thus I must know about the events unfolding this treason. I still cannot understand why would Mikanovich do something like it, after all the past good things he has done for our cause."
Rather than immediately replying to his question, the Arch-knight took the white wooden cross hanging of his neck with his hand and exhibited it to Dmitri, posing a quite interesting question:
"Dmitri, can you tell me what is this?"
"It is the holy symbol of our Israel, brother. The cross which represents the sacrifice of Christ to give us a chance to salvation, and the cross which represents the every days struggles for the holy cause. But how is it related to what I have asked?" Dmitri argued, looking at the man, who prepared his own answer to the question of Dmitri.
"No, this is only a handcraft built of two pieces of wood crossing each and painted in white."
Surprised, Dmitri wondered where the inquisitor was trying to get with such argument, and it seemed somewhat blasphemous to downsize a holy symbol to such point, to which he would immediately object:
"Brother, why are you diminishing the value of a holy symbol of our faith to a purely earthly aspect?"
"What you have described lies not with this piece of wood, but with yourself. A symbol or any other abstraction over something which is worldly less meaningful is only relevant as long as he who uses them makes justice to their meaning. Boris continues to wear the white cross, but now is no longer a faithful. Only because he has done much, it does not make of him less susceptible to corruption and temptation than any of us. The Boris you are idealizing about is only a symbol of his real self, which no longer have any meaning. And unfortunately, the majority still believes in his idealized form, blinding them from truth."
Nodding with a sigh, Dmitri finally understood what the man meant. He was indeed wise about it, for the world temptations indeed made no exceptions. Taking his hand over the metallic edge of the wall of the terrace, he then asked, with his heart preparing for a harsh answer:
"How many are our forces, and the forces of the enemy?"
The Arch-knight putted his cross back to his neck, and pointing to the still coming light of the skies, he enticed Dmitri to look that light still came, and smiled, despite the depressing scenery beyond the serene order and peace of the areas of the city under control of the Inquisition:
"We should not fear the darkness, for the Lord is with us. Our greatest weapon is not a bomb, a rifle or a tank, our greatest weapon is the truth, for most of their ranks are misguided, and would soon come to our holy side should truth reach them. Unfortunately, in the battlefield of the media, the mouth of the beast, the worldly media, has seduced the Prazinia Communal Broadcasting Company to their ranks, and the falling Internet is too disorderly to be trusted by our people."
Nodding, Dmitri then realized the implications of it. With only one television company controlled by the tainted government, they could easily come with all blatant lies against the Inquisition as they wanted, and perhaps even justify tyranny. And then, after an interval to which they observed the horizon, the explanation continued:
"We lack infrastructure to broadcast the truth to the people, and their central is in the heart of the territory controlled by lies and disinformation, which is heavily protected by loyalists for us to reach. Also, we need more graphical proofs than our own words, and in that, we know where to look for as you have told us. If we could film that abyss, and should the demonic spirits appear in the photographs, we would have a greatest weapon than all our armored forces and volunteer infantries."
Nodding again, Dmitri decided to cut to the chase. He knew already how information was crucial for converting entire armies with the words of truth about their righteous cause rather than destroy them, and how the so called Attack by Stratagem was not only the best strategy for the war of flesh, but also the best for the war of spirit, as it avoided the death of innocent soldiers. However, piercing through the blindfolds of the misguided with the light of truth was even more difficult than piercing the armor of a modern era tank with a RPG-7, and the battlefield of propaganda and truth was the most challenging of all to achieve victory through. Thus, the question that mostly constricted his heart was ushered:
"I know that we are prepared against the worse odds, and I must know the strategic dispositions of ours and of them for this earthly war. I will not run as a coward no matter how they are."
Taking a long interval, the Inquisitor simply looked at him with an unusual expression, capable of relating both hope and despair, like that of a man expecting a fate where he would likely not survive, but his cause would:
"We cannot simply stay on the defense: with the entirety of Eastern Borneo, Indonesia and most of the south under their control, they have the majority of the industrial capabilities of Prazinia, and most of its arable lands as well. I believe that at the best of possibilities, we will be outnumbered by forty to one regarding absolute numbers, but, forgive me for this breach of humility, as it is a fact that our Inquisitors are much better trained than most of the regular army, except for the Crusader Corps."
Nodding, Dmitri simply denied that such mention was pride, for the man seemed did not speak it with any arrogance in his eyes and expression, and thus he continued.
"Only two regular infantry divisions have mutinied against Boris and joined our ranks, and currently we are stretched in three fronts under attack, in the northwest, where a tiny piece of land is controlled by the loyalists, retaking as soon as possible to free some of the forces stationed there is critical, in the South of New Guinea, we hold a large, irregular line from west to east through unmanned patrols and fast response regiments, for static defenses would quickly fall. And in the poorly developed Northeast Australia, we have to protect a hundred of kilometers beachhead against the misguided and heathens. And to add to all, there are the invisible enemies, hid among the populace, which conventional military operations cannot defeat. We have about five hundred thousand soldiers against about twenty to twenty-five million of misguided and heathens."
Shocked from the dire situation, Dmitri immediately asked further:
"And on air and naval forces? Do we have any supporters in the Navy or Air Force?"
The Inquisitor was quick to answer, in a solemn tone of voice, like that of a man making a speech for a force going against all odds:
"We need that woman more than you imagine, and should she decide to convert, tides would turn to our favor. I believe she is a chosen one, and have a great mission in these turbulent times. We have barely enough to protect our most important cities, but there have been a cease fire on the air due to their unwillingness to bomb their own people, knowing that doing so would increase the ranks of supporters to our side, albeit some of ours have fallen to close air support of the enemy. On naval forces, the entire Navy remains loyal to Boris, and thus we cannot send reinforcements or supplies to our forces in North Australia. All smaller islands are under their control, but they are strategically irrelevant, although they might have much more importance in the war of spirit. The city of the First Seal has fallen."
Sighing, he wondered if it was a coincidence, but nonetheless, now that he knew the dire situation, he pondered about something, facing such incredibly contrary odds, with each of their sacred fighters having to face at least forty of the other side, there was one last chance to achieve victory. A risky bid, but considering the way the world has shattered, perhaps the plan of the conspirators have backfired, and they no longer held absolute control in secrecy of global forces. And even if they did, their enemy would likely seek help should they prove to be more capable than they imagined. Perhaps that could be a good try, and perhaps they were not alone in their fight against the moral decadence of the world. However, he still got one of his questions unanswered, and reminding of it, repeated:
"Brother, I still wish to know how and when he has betrayed us?"
"Two days ago, Boris claimed that our organization has been corrupted in a speech, and that by not allowing the new agers, neopagans, scientologists and satanists to conduct their inhuman rites in our land, we were actually strengthening them. Using demagoguery, he has convinced a majority of our less faithful youth to approve the dissolution of our order and the end of all laws that forbid the unholy practices that strengthen Satan in the other world. We could not allow this to continue, and then all got to here."
Opening his eyes wide open, he then realized the irony of it. They were fighting against the democratic choice of a majority, and no matter how they were misguided, that nonetheless was a sheer example of democracy. Just like it was their will that founded the Inquisition, this time, with less noble reasons, their manipulated will sought the dissolution of the organization. And thus, the irony is that they were fighting against democracy for what was in Dmitri's view a greater good of mankind. Asking then for confirmation, he said:
"But aren't we fighting against democracy? Prazinia was founded upon Christianity and True Democracy."
"A true democracy can only exist with a people completely rid from hearing lies and deceptions capable of manipulating their choice to the whims of the unholy. The betrayal of Boris has demonstrated that we must reshape the social order Prazinia, least the tendrils of corruption shall cover the entire land. Perhaps democracy itself is the flaw, perhaps not." the Inquisitor then answered, looking around the terrace.
Then a thought crossed Dmitri's mind. From the way the Arch-knight spoke, it seemed that not even them were certain by now of what to make of Prazinia, should they emerge victorious. For all accounts, possibilities could come from the spectrum between a tyrannical theocracy to a democratic theocracy, or perhaps of even anarchy itself, for the throne of darkness seemed to slowly corrupt every government on Earth. Such uncertainty could only be taken away by the faith that the Lord would help them to make the most righteous choice. By then, sitting on one of the spaces between the medieval-wall shaped steel, the soldier looked at Treblinski and asked, remembering of his other thoughts:
"Are we so sure that there are no true allies outside for our holy cause? I am afraid that if we simply stand in isolationism, our enemies could simply bring further allies to their foul cause. Perhaps we would not be alone in our struggle."
Nodding, the Inquisitor simply replied with a positive before speaking, for it seemed that he and most of the order agreed about that:
"We have been isolated of the world for too much time, and for all we know, perhaps our actions have already disrupted the ungodly plans of the New World Order and led them to lose control of their secret government over some areas of the world. Our digital scribes have prepared a message for the world, as we have finally reestablished a connection to intact network backbones. I have faith the Lord will grant us good friends and not wolves in sheep skin for our struggle. Now I believe you have seen enough. I remember you wanted to visit her. I will escort you to her room, and then give you enough time to decide whether you will volunteer as a warrior, or choose to contribute to our society with your hard work instead. Remember to pray for the Lord to guide your path, and to thank Him."
Nodding, he again followed Treblinski to the elevator in the other end of the terrace, looking at the helicopter bay, at the missile battery, and at the crosses that stood at each corner of the area. The elevator descended again, with their silence seeming permanent for the moment, for like him, the inquisitor meditated about the situation.
As mentioned, a message was broadcasted through international computer networks, with a very humble formatting and content:
Prazinia Inquisitor Order
Только шпага веры может достигнуть сердце темноты.
Only the sword of faith can reach the heart of darkness.
A Call to all the Holy nations of true Christianity for help in our fight against moral decadence and political corruption
If you have seen this message, know that at the moment, thanks to the power and money of greedy businessmen seeking to promote their immoral lifestyle and satanic religions, the president of Prazinia Boris Mikanovich O'Brien has been corrupted by power, and betrayed the Holy Republic. As the last bastion between morality and government, the Inquisition has stood against all odds, attempting to peacefully show to the people the truth as the fallen president, using his monopoly over mass media, broadcasted lies against our institution to justify its dissolution and the liberation of the practice of hideous satanic cults where innocents are sacrificed for the devil or nonexistent deities, to which we have solid proof to back, in the way of survivors of such hideous rituals to testify for the atrocities such false religions promote in the name of false gods.
Supernatural happenings have also taken their toll, and sunlight becomes dimmer every day in our territory. If you are a skeptic of these facts, we welcome the faithful and intrigued to witness the darkness. Like Satan has tricked the corrupt, decadent and mass-murdering Catholic Church to annihilate the Knights Templar in the past by accusing them of heresy, the now corrupted government of Prazinia has declared war against us, using fraudulent testimonies of bribed liars and traitors to claim our institution worships the devil. With Boris ever growing in his corruption, we fear that it is only a matter of time before he foul beliefs of fascism or Stalinism seduce his megalomania.
Thus, we ask for aid from those who stand for true democracy and Christianity. For the Inquisition of Prazinia has been erected by the will of the people through a referendum, and now is officially downed by the machinations of a demagogue who, like Plato have written, could destroy such democracy and lead our Holy Republic to tyranny. May the Lord bless you all in these dark times.
(OOC: This is it, please TG me if you wish to send a task force to intervene. And before someone asks, the supernatural part won't interfere in the outcome of battles.)
The elevator descended through the floors in the same moderate pace it has ascended before, as the soldier pondered about all the events that happened so far, and the Inquisitor next to him also stood stoically in a nearly trance in his exacerbated demonstration of discipline and faith, apparently too deep into the world of spirit to mind the world of flesh. The silent only interrupted by the whizzing of the elevator, maintained while they were about to arrive at the ground floor, being just a floor above, and it continued further down, to the basement levels. Wondering why their sickbay would be underground, Dmitri could only let his curiousity come, and interrupting the thoughts of Treblinski, he thus asked, already making a few assumptions of his own:
"Arch-knight Treblinski, why would the place to tend to the wounded be located beneath the earth? Could these blessed grounds really fall to a bombardment? I thought the heathens were worried about not allowing for their mask to fall."
Dmitri observed as the veteran simply turned to his face with a very serene expression, of a man with no fear of what the days to come prepared. Likely nodding because of his question, Treblinski would openly answer it:
"Brother Dmitri, our enemies and the traitor have full control over the media and are already openly defaming our sacred cause with lies and forgeries, for as followers of Satan, the father of lies, such is their greatest weapon, the mouth of the Beast numbered six hundred sixty-six, inciting war as it was written."
Sighing, Dmitri looked at his new mentor and asked, hoping to understand how it was even possible for such a machine of lies to work with such perfection:
"How? How could such monsters hide the terror bombing of an entire block? The Internet might not be reliable, but it will eventually break away the spell of the machine of lies from the faithful who attempt to spread faith into such sinful and filthy media."
"The television is a tool of the Devil himself! It is a satanic machine of Lies!" said Treblinski with a fanatical resolve and exacerbated tone of voice, echoing from the descent of the elevator. Simply awaiting for his explanation to come, Dmitri observed for the time the man would continue:
"This ungodly technology was developed to allow for his lies to never be challenged, for demon-possessed tyrants to chain their oppressed ones with shackles of lies and deception, for Mammon-worshiping capitalists to earn their bribes from corrupt and false democracies ruled by Satan as they spread lies to condition their people to accept the rule of the Antichrist!"
Understanding what the man meant, on how the television continued as the most powerful tool to spread lies to the ignorant and misguided, he still did not understand the logic behind the argument, and how it related to the fact that those spreading the truth through the only mean of communication where not everything was a fraud, the Internet, would be unable to show the truth. But before he could even ask, the Arch-knight shouted like a fanatical:
"We should have never embraced such an unholy instrument in our lands! We must banish the deviltry called television from Prazinia for once and all! The unholy instruments can only serve unholy goals, how have we committed such a mistake!"
"It was Boris who created the Prazinia Communal Broadcasting Company. Could demonic forces conspiring to take us down since the dark ages have influenced his decision?" Dmitri then questioned, remembering on how sometimes it seemed that the pieces of the puzzle matched perfectly, like if a web of centuries spanning conspiracy could be traced from the fall of the holy empire to the attempts to foil its rebirth as the holy republic.
"The secret societies of Satanic worshiping have existed much before Christ himself came to Earth, and thus, there is nothing that they would be unable to perform to achieve their unholy goals. It could not be a coincidence, and maybe they knew the weakness of our fallen president. Now it is too late to stop the wave." the inquisitor exclaimed, as the floor indicated the third basement level, to which it slowly decelerated, finally stopping at the fourth. The doors opened, revealing a quite aseptic corridor, in white colors and very well enlightened, which had everything to be the hallway of an hospital wing.
The corridor had entrances to rooms at each of its sides, with simple sliding doors numbered on their top, marked in golden chamfers, and afar, between its far end and their position, a cross intersection existed with a corridor from left to right, to where further rooms could be found. There were markers in the intersection with corridors indicating the range of room numbers from each side, and having nothing truly interesting to watch in the place other than the fact it was an underground hospital, Dmitri finally came to ask what was his final doubt:
"I know the Internet is full of heathens, but unlike the completely rotten and hopeless television, in it holy words can also be told amidst the filth, and in the Internet, the faithful can choose the path of truth among many paths of lies, while in the TV they cannot. Thus, why are you so certain that no denounce of these sinful atrocities would ever come through there?"
Sighing deeply, like if reminding of a fact as unfortunate as the darkness building in their nation, Treblinski turned back to him and answered without wasting too much time:
"The traitor is exploiting the filth of the Internet as a pretext for censorship. And we can do nothing about it. Don't you find it ironic brother, that in the upcoming of a new a dark age, the modern Inquisition stands for freedom of press?"
Shrugging, Dmitri quickly replied to such uneasy question, reminding of how full of ironies the world of flesh was, partly due to the levels of hypocrisy and treason that most who stand for a supposedly greater cause bear:
"It is not as ironic as the fact that the same organization of "enlightened ones" who opposed, or perhaps pretended to oppose the brutality of the foul medieval Inquisition, is now conspiring to create global tyranny."
The man simply nodded and smiled, for after centuries, at least one victory was achieved, and a true Christianity rather than an usurper organized religion under the rule of darkness was solidly established. Now it was the time to visit his new sister, and give her support at such time of recovery. Some sequels will never be healed, be them in body or in mind. The woman will never again speak, and he felt guilty of giving her false hopes when he mentioned stem cells, for it was very unlikely for an entire tongue to be regenerated from them. To atone for such, he could only meet her again.
As they took a turn to the left in the intersection of hallways, the Arch-knight stopped as a bip began to soar softly, and took something similar to a cell phone from his pocket with his left hand, although it was clearly an internal communication device. Placing it next to his left ear, he then answered:
"In the Vogelkop Peninsula? I understand, I am coming right in to the war room."
He then shut down the communicator, placing it again into his left pocket, and looked at Dmitri, with a bit of regret as the soldier knew that the man would not have time to escort him to the woman.
"I am sorry brother, but my duty to the holy cause calls. If we do not secure the Northwest of New Guinea in a few weeks, I am afraid our entire effort against the foul cause shall be in vain for the war of flesh. She is in room 204, the one to left just before the last ahead in this corridor."
"I understand, Arch-knight. Now, before you leave, could you tell me where should I go to volunteer for our holy war? I cannot stand idle for much time as the heathen turn our own people against the truth." Dmitri replied, rubbing his forehead as he finally perceived the first consequences of the days lacking of a good bath in a tropical place like their home, and before his new friend and brother-in-arms could answer, also asked:
"And also, where are the restrooms? I have tried what I could with the rivers across the way, but I really need a bath."
"Oh, I have not even noticed it! We must be too used with the scent of war that sometimes something as simple as a bath becomes a luxury. It is in the first basement floor, just go straight the corridor and into the last door to the left where the men's restroom is. Also, seek the spare towels drawer, the lowermost one, and pick your own towel." he answered while he awaited for the elevator to open, and finally entered inside, with the light grey uniform ornated by holy symbols eventually fading beneath the closing doors as his waved his hands to Dmitri.
Thus, observing nurses and medics going around and checking the patients, most of being women, he took his way to the end of the corridor, ignoring the intersection to the other corridor, and looked his left, counting from two hundred one to two hundred four. Seeing it, he opened the door, as the simple room ahead packed six mobile beds, with curtains which were currently open separating them, to which only one was occupied, where the much cleaner looking woman, still heavily bandaged, was laid down, with a serum bag next to her. As he entered, she immediately looked at him from the bed, and smiled at him.
Dmitri approached her, and checked the paper he saw next to her bed for the hopes of discovering something. It was a simple report, with the fields filled with several things. Reading it, a block of text indicated she was schedule for a toiling surgery to recover as much of the tendons of her hand as possible so she could at least have normal movements. He knew it would be a long surgery, and probably her feet would come later for another session of difficulties for both her and the surgeon. However, what mostly called his attention was how the report had a field above with the title "Name" filled.
In it, part of her identity was given, for seemingly she has managed to write something for the doctors and nurses despite her poor condition. It was a simple, very common name: Ekaterina. No surname was written, probably because writing just her first name was likely a major toil considering the condition of her hands. Dmitri thus knew what to do. Knowing that he would likely be too dirty to touch her again, he simply looked at her, smiling slightly as she attentiously stared him, and said:
"Ekaterina, I have come here to stay with you for a while, because you have demonstrated to me many things, you have given me hope that even for the most lost ones, there is still salvation. And you have given me hope by your sheer will, to never give up in the darkest times."
Then he just looked at her blue eyes, which seemed to keep focused at all times, in clear signs of lucidity. She could not speak, but her expression said much about that moment. He felt an warmth comfort from staying next to her, blocking him from telling her what had to be done, that he could not stay with her until she got out of there. He knew he had to say such harsh words, and that Ekaterina was not someone weak of will. Time has passed and he simply stood there, with his eyes exchanging with hers a message not even him could understand.
All had to end, however and he could not forsake his duty to everyone because of her. It was difficult for him, he felt like he was about to leave her to fate, feeling a momentary sadness, expressed by his face, as he prepared to say to her, although her eyes seemed to understand it, like if she already knew it before, and yet she did not look at him disappointed, understanding it was necessary. Dmitri simply got through it in such unforgettable moment of his life, seeing such a person able of softening his fears and giving him renewed strength from mere willpower, and he thus said:
"I am sorry about it Ekaterina, but the life of billions is at stake, I cannot stay with you, for people are dying, blindly fighting for the wrong cause and being victimized by the foul and unholy. A war is out there, and we cannot let them win it. I do not want even to imagine what those monsters would do if they got into unquestioned power. They have only hid their true demonic faces because they know that the people would turn against them and defeat them if they did not."
She simply looked at him and smiled as her way to give a farewell. Smiling back, Dmitri turned his back to her, and knowing he needed a bath, plotted his destination before seeking recruitment, when he finally realized that amidst the rush, he forgot to ask him where to seek recruitment in the sacred grounds of the Inquisition. Nonetheless optimistic, he just ignored such detail and headed on. As he closed to door of the room Ekaterina was at, he then testified a true miracle, as a very sweet womanly voice spoke:
"I regret my sins, and I have seen the way of the Lord. I will convert once I recover, Dmitri. Thank you for saving my soul."
He could not believe it, and such voice continued to haunt friendly his thoughts as he found the ways to the restroom in a floor above, and took a spare towel for his bath. Then he realized he also forgot to get a spare uniform, and shrugging, he tried to find more spare wears around with the towel wrapped over his midriff. Luck ensured no inconvenient would occur as he found that seemingly all was collectively taken there, including underwear, and dressing himself with a spare Inquisition knight uniform in its splendid grey and holy cross, he hoped that there would be no consequences of his daringness to wear such sacred vest.
And thus, he again waited to the elevator, and as it opened, empty, he boarded it, and prepared to ascend to a future glory, boosted by the miraculous words he believed to come from Ekaterina, as he wondered if the Holy Spirit has interceded to allow her to speak to him through the channels of spirit. Perhaps Ekaterina was more than a redeemed witch in His divine plans for such times. However, many important questions were still unanswered.
Dmitri was again at the ground floor, in the entrance floor which was featured by its mezzanine above and by the highly decorated floor, where the symbol of the Inquisition was drawn in a mosaic of stone, and several Russian words were writ in its shapes, with entire letters of the Slavic alphabet formed perfectly by the stones in such artwork. Only a digital Scribe lied in the hall as he came, sitting next to a marble counter with a very old and used computer, from the clear manner it was yellowed, likely from the late nineties was being used with the same efficiency of modern ones. Seeing the man as the only source to all his doubts on how he could contribute, he first decided to find the meaning of the words on the floor, as he discreetly looked down and began to step back, with each step revealing more of the strange layers of nearly contiguous text behind the Inquisition symbol. It seemed like a cryptic message of sorts, which soon was imprinted in his memory, no matter how cryptic it was as parts of the message were hidden by the symbol over it, and somehow he wondered if it was only an excerpt of a greater truth.
...demon storms... ...consolidates...
...beyond words... ...believe in...
...the holiest of... ...unstoppable...
...and the sinful... ...death of...
...thou shalt not... ...free will...
...as blessed fires... ...demonic...
It was difficult to find what were the words beyond what was visible, but certainly it was part of a book of the Inquisition, as looking at the inscriptions built of stone mosaic, Dmitri felt that perhaps knowledge could give him insight on the very nature of such war. His thoughts tried to patch together the spread words of the message, thinking on every possibility as a rough patchwork came from deductions which could be mistaken, and thus he imagined the phrase to be something into his mind which took five minutes of pondering to gain its final shape. The mission of the Inquisition is what he believe to be represented by such words, in part, and thus, he filled the emptiness with words of his own mind.
Guarding against demon storms as the darkness consolidates a
Gospel beyond words for the faithful to believe in and vigil for as
Only the holiest men can fight against the unstoppable shadow
A mere laxity, and the sinful shall spread the death of our souls
Fight them, thou shalt not break the free will for their perdition
Only douse the curst as blessed fires banish the demonic spirits
Realizing what he has just done, he retook his mind to reality, for the mental exercise could not make him forget of all the events happening at the moment, and suddenly the silence, only broken by the occasional tapping of keys and walks of individuals from floors above, was interrupted as a male voice said, addressing him:
"Brother, I see you are a new Inquisitor, as you have just found the Word. I understand you must be a bit lost, but your brother knights still here are all in the briefing room, listening to instructions for something really important. I suggest you move there immediately for our time is fleeting."
Turning back, the soldier simply nodded to the scribe and with a clear expression of doubt, he immediately asked, as he again realized how lost he was in the building, although something else tingled his mind. He has vowed to never lie, and thus, if he confirmed he was a new Inquisition, he would be sinning and weakening all of them in the war of the spirit. However, a certain fear led him to simply omit his word on the matter.
"Brother, I am not aware of where lies the briefing room, could you give me guidance to its place?"
"I understand. The Briefing room is the second to the left of the mezzanine stair right there." the scribe answered, waving his arm to the staircase to the left of the large hall that brought to the upper ground, which was little more than a balcony forming a sort of connector to the actual second floor rooms. There was no sort of carpet or elegance, simply a very ascetic spiraled stair with simple steel railings, decorated with cross shapes formed between the beams and lines of steel. The simple, plain wooden doors of the doors above were equally undecorated, but still classic in style, ignoring all of the modern schools of architecture like much of the building itself. There were no visible markings of what lied beyond each door, and as he stepped on the stairs,taking step by step his way up, he suddenly realized how the floor of the Mezzanine also was filled with words and made of stone mosaics, giving a further impression that such building was designed after an ancient temple or fortress. The stylized floor contrasted with the ascetic white concrete walls, only shifted by the massive vitral windows next to the main exit door of the building and on each side of the room, tall enough to encompass both floors.
Following his instructions, Dmitri headed to the left of the staircase and walked ahead, hearing the baffled voices of men from a nearby room, as he realized that although not directly sinful, he was still impersonating something he was not, a knight of the Inquisition, although he could be forgiven, for it was better to do so than walk around the holy grounds as Adam and Eve walked on Earth. Letting his mind clear of such worries, he then ignored the first door and continued to walk through the balcony till finding the next door, featuring the same wooden frame of the former, and also having little of adorns. A baffled set of voices was coming from inside the room, and realizing that such was it, Dmitri knocked the door.
Suddenly the voices became gradually silent, and in a few seconds, the door slid open, revealing a large meeting room where a dozen of knights were seeing some sort of map, a background image behind the black hair and green eyes of a gruffly man, wearing the grey uniform of the Inquisition with its ballistic vest painted with an white cross, with the sparse holy seals and short ribbons similar in all of their vests. The man simply looked at Dmitri with a somewhat disappointed stance, and quickly replied in a neutered tone:
"Godspeed brother! You came right on time! Now take your sit and pay attention. This city is under siege, but we cannot see it with our eyes of flesh."
Nodding, Dmitri came into the room. It had rows of wooden seats lined to the end of the same, where in a short podium, an arch-knight was pointing out an urban map of Prazinia, drawn on paper rather than as a virtual projection, with several areas marked red and Slavic writings made over the map, lines traced and a title: "Demonic infestation in Sector Six". The streets were named, with the name of angels ironically making much of the sector, and a small comment on how six was the number of man, which was clearly being treated as not a mere coincidence. Next to the map, four Slavic documents labeled "Intelligence Report" with a date set of the last four days were layered, with a magnifying device projecting the image of one of them on a vacant space to the right end of the wall ahead. In large letters, which called Dmitri's immediate attention, the words "Satanic Summoning" coming out very highlighted in the document. But too busy walking to a vacant seat, he could not observe it further, and thus sat down, hoping to listen for what the arch-knight had to say.
"At last, we have been blessed, for none of our fire teams will now be undermanned. Stand in face of our brothers and present yourself, new knight of the Inquisition, so we can know you better."
It was at such moment that everything could shatter for him. He has vowed to never lie, and now could no longer omit the fact he was not an Inquisitor, but someone that had no other attire available, a simple, regular soldier with less than an year of training, which humble duty was to only guard an outpost which except for the recent events, has never suffered anything, requiring much more of patience than any combat skill. Still, he has faced a superior number of enemies, driven perhaps by faith rather than by his own skills, and managed to succeed into what seemed impossible for a regular to achieve. However, he refused to let pride blind him, and thus, standing up silently from his seat, he looked at the arch-knight and said, with an unwavering degree of honesty.
"Forgive me brothers, for I am not an Inquisitor. I am holy soldier Dmitri Yatonosci, former protector of Arkhangelsk and servant of God, who has resisted the corruption of the outpost. I could not find a regular uniform after I bathed in the restroom, and thus I had no other choice but to have such holy vest."
Suddenly everybody stared at him, with eyes wide open, seemingly impressed to at last discover his real identity. Apparently what he has done and witnessed has already spreaded inside the order, which would justify such awe. Looking at him, the arch-knight, a beardless man in his forties with light brown hair and deep, seemingly black eyes, spoke:
"Dmitri, you have done much for the holy cause. I find it difficult to make a choice about this, but I have seen an answer. You have survived by days, alone, in the middle of the jungle, yet you have never had any survival training. According to your own testimony, you have managed to find shelter from the eyes of darkness, and to hide from the evils of the cursed grounds you treaded through, yet you never had any stealth training. Equally, you have managed to face the very physical image of a major demon, without any training or previous experience in facing such evil."
"And yet," he continued "you come here, humbled, refusing to deny your nature as a simple but brave soldier of the Lord, refusing the honor of such holy vest. I feel enlightened in this humble place, for the Lord has given you a calling holy soldier. You have been called here by his designs, for you have the faith, the strength of will that we need for our cause. I invite you, at this moment, to join our holy Order, and next to your brothers, speak your oath. Be aware, soldier, that to join the Inquisition, you will have to sacrifice many things, and face much greater temptations. If you make your oath next to us, you shall face the greatest evils that dwell in this world, evils beyond words, capable of seeping the very soul of men. Do you understand what I say?"
"Yes, arch-knight, I do." he answered, as he mind struggled to think on how to answer to such startling offer. To join the Inquisition, an honor give to very few, but a great responsibility and sacrifice. It was difficult to come up with an yes or no, and he knew that he needed more time to think, and thus, as they anxiously awaited for his answer, Dmitri simply said:
"Arch-knight, forgive me, but this is a very difficult decision for any Prazinian to make. I ask you to begin your briefing, so that I may have enough time to think about your offer and make the right decision. I already thank you for the honor of such offer."
"Take your time Dmitri, but know that our time is running out, it would be very important for you to have an answer once the briefing ends and we prepare our deployment. Regardless, either as a volunteer or as a knight, we shall welcome you to help our cause in this operation." answered the arch-knight, as he began the briefing.
Nodding, Dmitri observed as the leader pointed to the red circles in the city map, speaking in a solemn tone of voice:
"Brothers! Our scouts have spotted what seems to be one of the greatest threats we could ever cope with to this day. As you have already inquired on the title of the intelligence reports, several evidences of a large-scaled Satanic summoning ritual has been found in Uriel, Mathias, Michael and Rapture streets, amidst the cursed southwest of our city, the Sector Six. As six the number of Man, such disposition cannot be a mere coincidence. Our enemies find meaning to many numbers in their actions. However, as demonic summonings have happened before in man's history, I must press why this is not another of the usual unholy rituals you might have heard about."
Impressed by the words of the arch-knight, Dmitri continued to look into the projected and zoomed in image as the leader gestured for an assistant to focus the device onto a photograph. In the photo, a desolate shoot of an abandoned, rotting alleyway between two simple two-store houses which were completely devoid of roof tiles, filled with scorch marks in their walls, and with all their windows broken. The ground was full of litter, primary of thrown away papers and leaves which seemed to fly with the wind, amidst a clearly gritty scenery, and the street had small craters and bumps from its forsaken nature and from acts of vandalism. The alleyway in the photograph ended into a complete darkness, even though there was a explicit note on how the other side would normally lead to another street. Nothing of such details however were as visible, frightening and terrific as was what they served as a background to.
It could not be only one, but countless. Spectral figures, invisible to the human eyes, which have been imprinted in the photograph, ethereal humanoid shadows with deep red eyes which even from the photograph, seemed to stare deep into the souls of the holy ones, and above them, a set of strange orbs which seemed to absorb rather than generate light, herded by a much larger pair of disembodied and ethereal red eyes in the center of the photograph. The mere act of looking at such image was enough for Dmitri to begin to feel again the same unpleasant sensations he felt next to the strange and bottomless abyss in the middle of the jungle. All that was only corroborated as the photograph suddenly began to unnaturally burn into a charred piece of film. Everyone observed the phenomena, with their eyes wide open, as suddenly the sensation of being watched vanished. The arch-knight was quick to point out what exactly was the reason for the capture of so many demons in such alleyway by the camera.
"Have you witnessed the unholiness Brothers? The entire Section Six of our city has become a den of devils, infested by the worst spirits of Earth, for the very wards that keep them from visiting the world of living have been severely weakened in the heart of our city. All of the pure of heart have evacuated it, leaving it only to the beasts of the jungle and to the damned and lost souls which before hid as wolves in sheep skin amidst our brethren, and now have shown their true faces. I shall be straight about the foul summoning. A satanic cult seeks to achieve the unthinkable, and they are very close to succeeding in their dark goal." the arch-knight further explained, as his assistant doused the remains of the photograph with holy water. The same hissing sound was again heard, even though there was nothing more to burn in the remains of the film. Afterwards, a new image was zoomed. The image of a note book writ in blood red Slavic letters, with a very readable message highlighted, and a script which was very irregular, like if many beings wrote together using the same hand:
The barriers are breaking, our lord shall come from the bowels of Earth, and again walk among the living as a true god. The evocation is nearly completed, and soon he shall reign supreme...
As he readed the sinister note book, Dmitri could not resist his urge to ask about whether what he feared about such text was right or not. If it was meant literally, then darkness has truly reached the Holy Republic:
"Arch-knight. Are you implying that the worshipers of the devil are seeking to summon the physical manifestation of a demon in flesh and bones? Can this really be true?"
Looking at Dmitri, and then at the others, the man simply pointed again to the unholy notes, and then asked again for his assistant to shift the image, this time to a drawing of ancient polytheistic deities.
"Dmitri, would you really believe that such images are purely the imagination of man? That human sacrifices were nothing but a sign of the twisted psyche and evilness that dwells into some of us? Many thousands of years ago, demons have walked in our world as beings of flesh and bone, subjugating and inspiring fear and reverence of our ancestors, and rotting entire peoples, to a point where even their innocent children were beyond salvation. These were proclaimed as gods, to which animals and unfortunate men were sacrificed to strengthen their struggle against the Kingdom of Heaven."
"Until a man named Jesus Christ has come to teach people the way of salvation." the arch-knight continued, proceeding with his speech about a possibility better not proved right "Now, the same cults that have worshiped the false gods, seek to bring them back to our material world. If that happens, I fear that our mission will be deeply endangered, for while a demon as a spirit can already be a great threat, a demon as flesh not only has the same powers of spiritual demons in manipulating the weak of will, but also can directly harm us, and I fear on how much of a toll would be required to defeat such monstrous abominations and enemies of the Heavens."
Dmitri could not really believe at what he heard, and did not want to believe at it. From the cursed alleys and streets to the southwest, a physical manifestation of a demon was being slowly, step-by-step, called upon by the puppets of the darkness. Something truly had to be done, and at last, the experienced Inquisitor finished the briefing.
"We must stop their ungodly ritual from ever being finished, or it might release more than a single devil manifested physically. A great challenge lies ahead, and it is clearer that they seek to exterminate our people, for otherwise their schemes would be much less visible. The survival of every one of us, and of our people, will depend upon the success of this mission. Our objective is to locate and purge the damned ones conducting such ritual, together with all unholy books of its workings. We shall come from the still safe areas of Mathias street. to the north."
Pointing again to the crispy remains of the film, he thus explained the complete lack of any more detailed plan about their operation. It would indeed be a nearly completely spiritual battle to scour into such hallowed grounds.
"Unfortunately, as this is not a enemy of flesh, and because that any attempt to scout much deeper would end in certain death, we have no data on what you might find there. You must be vigilant for this mission brothers, for every unholiness possible shall confront you. You shall be split in four men teams, where each team shall investigate Uriel, Mathias, Michael, Rapture, Gabriel, Jerusalem and Salvation streets. With a three-man or four-man team going for the Salvation street, depending on the free choice of our brother Dmitri."
As he heard his name, Dmitri finally has made his choice. Looking at the arch-knight, he then spoke, with full honesty and no fear of the consequences of what he has considered to be his best option for now:
"I am sorry, brother, but I fear I am still not ready to make the oath. However, I shall accompany you in your mission as a volunteer. Alas, may I ask if this uniform is a problem? I have not found any regular uniform."
"Dmitri, if our enemies of flesh identify you as a volunteer, they shall focus all their attention on you from the team, believing you are the weak spot. It is better for you to remain with our holy garments, even as a volunteer. I know you have faced evil before, but this is much beyond the darkness you have ever faced in the abyss, according to your testimony. Be prepared brothers! Our mission shall begin in fifteen minutes."
And soon Dmitri, scrambled the briefing room with those identified as members of his team. Looking at the one who seemed to be the team leader, he asked then, as they walked through the balcony to head downstairs:
"Brother, I have not asked your name. I believe we should know ourselves before our mission."
"Dmitri, I am brother Karol Erganov, and for this mission, I shall lead you and brothers Gene Filatov and Yuri Azov. For now let us head to the armory to prepare ourselves for the war of flesh." he quickly explained as he fastened his pace, and Dmitri followed him downstairs. In the main floor, they made their way to the corridor, which was also white, with a small window in its end decorated with the symbol of the inquisition in plated glass." Making to the mid of the corridor, where another corridor came from left, intersecting in a T with the main one, Karol took the new corridor, and then headed for the first door to its right, opening it.
In the room a large stockpile of weaponry lied: pre-filled bags with standard supplies, timed and remote charge explosives, AN-94 assault rifles, BS-1 "Tishina" silent grenade launchers adapted for the former with rifle suppressors, ammunitions, hand grenades and also a few light ballistic vests, labeled as Type II. Dmitri soon loaded himself up, taking one of the ballistic vests with him, and as instructed by Karol, configured the BS-1 into his own rifle, for he never was trained with such sort of devices, reserved for the Inquisitors and for the Crusader Corps. As he finished to supply his own self, ignoring the explosives as he never was trained to operate them, but being instructed to take a grenade launcher, the other three men took their turns, and he walked out of the room to free space, where another group of four knights was waiting for them. Dmitri looked at the man who seemed to be their leader, and immediately asked:
"Brothers, which of the tainted streets shall you investigate?"
"Gabriel street, soldier. I see that you have been assigned to replace their former grenadier. It is very unfortunate, don't you think?" the inquisitor, with his weary brow eyes staring at Dmitri, thus answered, as he begin to ponder about the fate of the former member of the team he has joined, and then looked at the man who has answered him, with curious thoughts, and asked:
"What happened to the former grenadier of my team?"
"Missing in action for three days now, after he suddenly vanished from the sight of the rest of the team, to which he was the one following from behind, without any noise, scream or nothing at all. None of us is certain about what happened to him, but we can only expect that after so many time and no sign of him coming back, he is already dead or worse." the man bluntly responded, looking at him and shrugging.
"Is him the only one who disappeared from all the knights conducting patrols?" Dmitri then asked, intrigued about how it could be an unlucky coincidence that he has come right as a man has been gone to a likely horrible fate. To which question, the answer came quickly:
"Fortunately, nobody else went missing so far, although we had some casualties from gunshot, but no lethal casualty yet either. Maybe knight Skavinsky had something hidden from us, because it's really strange. Who knows if he has not betrayed our cause?"
The string of coincidences was starting to startle Dmitri, he has voluntarily assigned as a substitute of a man who has disappeared nearly at the same time he woke up in the middle of nowhere, and such was the only man of countless of scouts to have ever disappeared. Thus, like him, the man was trained with the handling of grenade launchers, and such thoughts crossed his mind on a frightening possibility: that such workings might have not been divine, but satanic intervention, that perhaps he could be a pawn for their schemes, carefully laid in place. However, his faith soon suppressed such fearful thoughts, as at last all others of his team were ready for action, and thus, Karol again gestured for him to follow, and Dmitri followed the leader to the courtyard, where now several tactical armored transports bearing the holy symbol were ready to depart. Sitting down on the humble and barely comfortable bench of one of them, as they crossed the pavement between the beautiful but humble garden in contrast to many defensive positions, he soon realized how lucky he was, for the mission he needed was exactly what he hoped for: a mission that would not take him away from the city.
And thus, aware of what he was about to face, he closed his eyes and began to think of the Lord Jesus Christ, reciting a mental prayer of his own make for protection against the darkness. Suddenly time vanished, and the feeling of movement from the vehicle with its grated and armored windows seemed to fade away. Dmitri has again reached a tenuous touch with the kingdom of Heaven, of unaccountable time, hoping for his family in the city of Seventh Seal for his people and for all those who would be threatened for the curse, but most important of all, he could not forget of the woman he saved, of the miraculous manner she spoke to his very soul through the action of the Holy Ghost. His last contact with the heavens would be thus shaped by her voice, marked in his memory.
I regret my sins, and I have seen the way of the Lord. I will convert once I recover, Dmitri. Thank you for saving my soul.
It was then that he opened his eyes again, to face the harsh reality, and immediately as the connection was broken, he felt a looming sensation, even among so many holy warriors. They were at the edges of the darkness, in the still safe central section of Mathias street, with a major darkness to the south, already felt by them. As they left the vehicle to step into the pavement of the street, they saw a serene emptiness. Apparently the region has been preemptively evacuated, but there were no signs of the clear desolation of what lied further ahead. The evacuation has left nothing disorderly, and the streets were very clean. Winds were blown, bringing nothing but an unnaturally chilling sensation as they looked ahead. The vehicle would wait for them there, with the passenger's seat scribe listening clearly to their communications, for that place was still relatively safe, and not so empty as they looked ahead, where three concrete roadblocks were placed amidst a large barbed wire fence, likely quickly. Amidst the fence a locked grated door lied, being their doorway to the darkness ahead. In some of the barbs, human blood could be seen, together with some disgusting organic matter in decomposition, for clearly some or some things have attempted to get past.
Walking towards the grated door in the middle of the three meters tall fence, they were suddenly interrupted by a radio transmission from their operations command:
"Your recon drone has arrived, Over. I am going to bring it to you."
"Acknowledged Operation Control, we really prefer to not go there in the dark. But why have we not done this before?" Karol immediately replied.
"Our enemy is like flowing water, we cannot trust into the reports that an yesterday recon would have brought, and there are other problems. We have waterproofed the device and doused it with blessed water, but the presence there is very strong, I fear that even your night vision goggles will be affected once you get into the depths of Section 6." replied the technician controlling the radio from the vehicle."
Karol then immediately looked at each of them and ordered:
"Brothers, we must protect our most vital equipment. Use wet clothes and wrap them over your searchlights, to ensure their material light will not abandon us. Unfortunately I don't see a solution for our night vision. We will have to do without them should they abandon us, for only the Lord never abandon us."
And thus, as ordered, Dmitri took a new holy water canteen from his new backpack, and a clean cloth, dousing it with the blessed liquid, immediately, he wrapped the cloth around the searchlight tubular frame, which was small but extremely effective in illuminating the worldly darkness. With this done, Dmitri continued to look at the Section six buildings, distant smokes still burning and its desolation beyond the impromptu fence. The weakened daylight still made most of it visible, although there were some sinister dark alleys, visible from blocks away, which emanated a very negative aura. When at his peripheral view, he sometimes could spot red glares from such distant dark spots, but as soon as he looked straight towards them they vanished. The dread indicated clearly how the place was haunted beyond anything he has ever seen before.
Soon a small, miniature airplane was brought to them by the scribe, in his simpler uniform, also grey, who looked at them, and with a remote control with an inbound screen, replied, as he sat on the pavement with the control on his hands:
"Brothers, do you authorize me to assume control of the device?"
"Yes, go ahead, but I want to see by myself what this bird will find there." Karol said, getting to the side of the scribe to look at the small screen. The others soon formed a circle, while keeping one of their eyes on the fenced area. The pavement was sufficiently plain and large for the small airplane to take off, and soon it began to fly as its cameras showed what lied below it. At an altitude of only twenty-five meters, the small vehicle began to move into the depths of the cursed streets, filming them and the alleys among buildings.
Other than the desolation, nothing came off in the first seconds as it passed through the three first blocks, heading south, and continued its way. The repetition of the desolate and deserted houses seemed endless as more two blocks came off with nothing spotted. There was virtually no human being anywhere to be seen. It was then that the drone was turned to the left by the command of his operator, and continued to scout and show its bird's view of the desolate scenery, with nothing yet. Minutes of flight have passed, and sixty blocks have been already scouted, with strangely nothing other than the expectable abandon of the place, and a few house still smoking from fires set times ago. Sighing Karol then said:
"They won't show themselves, our enemies are not fools." and opened his eyes wide open in surprise, from spotting something in the screen right as he finished his sentence.
A shadow rapidly flew through the screen, nearly unnoticeable, and then nothing else came. The scribe was orderly enough to count how many blocks they have scouted, and soon would announce, also surprised by the shadow:
"Now on block sixty-six. They are close."
By the time the night camera of the drone passed through such block, filming its alleys, it spotted a truly haunting view. Legions of winged shadows, nearly formless and ethereal, flying in an altitude below it, suddenly banked up and began to head towards the plane, with their red, sinister eyes staring like if aware of those who watched it, and suddenly, their radios broke off static as a sinister group of whispers announced a name:
A loud and infernal howl came from the radio, nearly scaring them out with the same intensity as the last images of the screen came. The scribe attempted to retreat from the shadows, to no avail, ignoring the fact they were not made of flesh and thus could not touch the plane, or at least he thought so. The sight of hundreds of red eyes was the last thing before the screen became blue, and communication with the drone was lost.
Sighing, Dmitri looked at them, like if bearing a burden. His name has been called by demons, and to have one's name called in such way was one of the worst omens one could have. He began to let fear over him, and finally let weakness come. He could not hide he became afraid of going through it. Karol simply looked at him, trying to smile, but he could not, and he then touched on his shoulder like a friend, saying:
"Dmitri, if you want to stay here, if you think you are not yet prepared to face the enemy ahead, I give you permission to do so. They are trying to trick you, to frighten you, for they know you are not a knight Inquisitor. Once my name has also been called by them. They want to play with our fears, we cannot let them conquer us through fear.”
His mind however, was focused on another issue. A possibility he was thinking about, that would make it very difficult for him to find the courage to move on, should it be proved to be true. Looking at all the others of the team, Dmitri thus, pondering on such frightening possibility, asked:
"Has anything like this happened with the name of the former grenadier of this team?"
Karol was clearly uneasy about the question. Inquisitors were not taught to lie, as like all of them, they were always taught to not be afraid of speaking the truth. It was perhaps a situation as difficult for the leader of the team as was the situation Dmitri got into when asked about his identity, however, the man still spoke truly:
"Dmitri, yes, our former brother name was ushered by these dark spirits before we began our recon mission through radio. However, our brother has hesitated in his faith, and openly feared he was vulnerable, creating the vulnerability they wanted, and that is why he is now gone. If you go into the darkness with faith, you shall not fall Dmitri. They work with mind, and sometimes with electronics, but they cannot really hurt you directly. They can only lure men who give vulnerabilities to madness and horrible nightmares."
Nodding, Dmitri then got up, and said, looking at Karol:
"I understand Karol, and I'll carry on. But lets make one last prayer before we head into the heart of darkness."
With all of them nodding, they knelt, looking to what the skies still had of light, and prayed mentally for the Lord to protect them. It was then that a strange object would fall from the skies, splattering into the pavement. Ignoring it, they finished their prayer, and immediately came to investigate it.
It was what remained of the miniature drone. It was charred, like if burned, with both wings tore off, and its frame bearing blasphemous words writ in blood, words of the western alphabet, of the old Roman Empire language. The words were Regis Satanas. The meaning was very obvious to translate. It was a message of pride from the dark spirits, claiming the fallen angel was the unquestionable ruler of such place.
They were not scared, and again, Dmitri, without any explicit order, doused some holy water over the charred remains of the drone, making more hissing noises of burning, as the blood which made the message simply evaporated into nothingness. At least, the control unit had a backup of the footage, and perhaps a small piece of evidence to prove to the people that the Inquisition has not betrayed their cause, like the traitor Mikanovich tried to convey. The Scribe quickly returned to the vehicle, which continued to wait for their return. And thus, they began to head towards the fence’s grated door. It was mostly intended to hold off the damned human souls rather than the spirits roaming in such place, although the fence was slightly rusted, and had scorch marks, like if something burned it, or burned in her. It was obvious that holy water was used in such structure, and soon, using a brass key with the symbol of the Inquisition, Karol began to unlock the padlock that held the thick chains of the door, as the men of his team looked cautiously at the surroundings, ready to fire.
The grated door opened, making a sinister hinging noise as the same was moved aside to grant to the knights entrance to the dark place, and thus, they began to head, using the number of blocks crossed by the drone before its demise and their directions as a reference to the potential source of all the evil, and of the unholy summoning ritual. They marched into the darkness of such streets, for even if still brightened by a faint sunlight, they packed legions of immaterial shadows, ready to exploit the first weaknesses among those men. Dmitri was about to face for the first time, a spiritual battlefield, against enemies that cannot be defeated by guns.
- Closest Reference of Section 6 Appearance (http://www.hlfallout.net/images/content/videos/full/ravenholm.jpg) -
An enemy which could not be seen, which lurked into darkness and had the power of bringing breaking fear to the most courageous, to lure and corrupt their very brothers, was infinitely more threatening and vicarious than anything that, hundreds of kilometers away, had to be fought by guns and missiles, for such could not take the souls of those they defeated to damnation. The hallowed, gated-off blocks of the city were now right under them, oppressing and attempting to destroy their resolve as a heavy burden plagued Dmitri and all others, like if they could sense the incalculable hatred and evil of countless of hundreds of thousands of demons attempting to bring them into perdition. There have been no voices so far other than the continual hissing sounds where their tactical searchlights were, wrapped by a cloth doused in holy water which become scorched as unholy forces attempted to destroy it, nor strange visions other than the complete void of life and existence in such godforsaken streets, only the overbearing sensation, the nearly sickening feeling, and the heavy weight on their chests, close to a sensation of a very dagger or claw attempting to stab them, much worse than anything experienced in a sleep paralysis, or Suk Ninmyo according to the pagan views of the first inhabitants of the island, who in their innocence and ignorance, attributed what was the work of either health problems or authentic demonic influence to trees seeping the life force of men during their sleep. The difference, is that while the truly supernatural torments amidst sleep involved the work of a single dark spirit, what their fireteam faced, with all the others which were spreading through the streets, was the work of countless legions attempting to hinder their goal for the advancement of their unholy purposes.
Tense minutes passed as the squadrons walked through the first five blocks, with Dmitri paying attention to everything at his surroundings, for nothing seemed safe or stable. The few intact and electrically fed lampposts flickered continually, and emitted only a dim light, like if the very electricity of the entire place was being partly suppressed by the demons, where for each block they have crossed, the lights became dimmer and dimmer, and the very pavements and streets became more and more shattered, with increasing quantities of unnatural cracks on the ground, too thin in width for anything to fall over them, but to deep for even the most focused of light sources to spot their bottom, like if the result of a completely implausible earthquake, and Dmitri stepped over each of such cracks with his brothers, he could sense a strong heat emanating from them, a hot air that was akin to that of manholes in the cold months of the Old World, while that in the end of what the eyes could see, smoke was visible from blocks formerly on fire, where likely the air was far from breathable, but which were still very far from the suspected source of the demonic threat, and thus would hopefully not be necessary to explore. Such sensations were drastically empowered in the complete absence of life, where not even the squeaking of rats could be heard, and in their horror by the horrible presence of invisible enemies, to which Dmitri struggled, focusing his mind and mentally praying to the Lord as he advanced behind their team leader, who ever alert, continually looked back to make sure no enemies of flesh were following them. His faith was a major boon to the situation, and without it, he doubted that he could persevere. They were already next to the seventh block ahead on the ironically named Salvation street, with the lights nearly completely out, with a very dim light coming from them, as Karol gestured to them to follow his actions, and lowered the night vision goggles, however, as Dmitri activated his, he realized it was no longer functional, as predicted, and neither of them had any luck, for the strength of the ungodly presence was so massive that many electronic devices would unnaturally cease to function, and only those that could be wrapped into blessed water could work. Thus, he immediately took the tactical searchlight, with the cloth wrapped around it filled with scorch marks, and attached it to his assault rifle, turning it on to reveal a very wide and strong light, enlightening their way at in exchange of their discretion, acceptable, as to hide from the enemy was not something a knight should usually do, and to demonstrate fear from turning on the lights could be their doom in such place. Strangely however, patches of shadows without a clear shape moved across the light, unnaturally dimming parts of its cone to their view, in a way completely unexplainable, as their glasses were entirely clean despite the shades. Dmitri then, with the terror increasing over him, suddenly found solace into an enlightened thought, and looked at his leader, gesturing for him to give him a moment.
An old cardboard box stood to the pavement ahead, next to a street lamp mostly unlit and to a gated off alley, to which Dmitri approached as the others covered the area with their searchlights and guns, in maximum alert, aware of the threat that loomed in such place. Before looking at it, Dmitri turned his light source to the dark alley, revealing strangely rusted emergency stairs, despite the very few days they were uncared, like if the very structure of the buildings and materials was drained by the evil dwelling in such place, and a few rows of closed trash bins, together with a manhole in its center, the cloth around his searchlight began to hiss again very strongly, as the most visible sign of what loomed in such alley, which mortals could not see. Strangely the other side also was covered by a grate, which was an interesting fact, but there was no strange visage or unnatural apparition in such alley, even though he could sense a extremely strong evil presence from there, exemplified by a shadow nearly absorbing the entire beam of light as it reached the depths of the alley, and feeling a surreal tiredness with no plausible justification. Taking the empty cardboard box, he placed his searchlight at it, after unattaching it from his rifle, muffling its light, and with a combat knife, cutted a circle with the exact dimension of the searchlight, and then removed it from the cardboard box, and placed it firmly on the cracked pavement, and again with his knife, he cutted a perfect cross inside the cardboard circle, and placed it over his searchlight, rearranging its source to the shape of their holy symbol.
Perhaps it would not work, although his faith that such could at least draw away their enemies was very strong, and as a first attempt, Dmitri quickly darted it towards the demon-infested alley, and as soon as the cross shaped light came towards it, together with his faith and belief, the shades began to wane from its cross shaped light, and a guttural grunt seeming coming from the bowels of Earth, including words spoken at ungodly languages which seemed to drain the very life of them away with their mere pronouncement, seemingly coming from deep underground echoed in a nearly deafening volume, shaking the very ground they were stepping at, and loud enough that even in the vehicle waiting them in the safety of the still blessed area to its frontier could be heard. In fact, perhaps at such loudness, the demonic scream has echoed through the entire city as a clearer than ever sign of the dark times they were facing. With faith, Dmitri balanced himself, and held upon the grate to avoid tripping over as what was comparable to an earthquake came with the loud, satanic grunt, and the alley unnaturally vanished as an extension between the two ruined buildings came, joining them into a single building, like if such alley has never truly existed before, showing the level of taint in the place, enough to disrupt parts of the very solidity of reality. Suddenly he began to wave the cross shaped light around, as shadows of smaller level retreated, as the heavy burden of being in such place suddenly lessened, with much less pressured being felt over their chests and much less of unnatural tiredness coming, and looking at his brother Karol, he then finally broke the silence of the group:
"Let our very faith, represented by this symbol, protect us from the enemies of God. Let us continue now, ready and prepared in spirit, for many challenges lie ahead, and the strongest of our enemies require much of faith, hope and devotion to the holy cause to be surpassed. May the Lord bless us all, and accompany us even in this darkest of all grounds."
"God is always watching and protecting us, Dmitri, or otherwise we would have never managed to get this far in the heart of darkness, and to fight back against His enemies with our faith alone. We must thank Him to still be walking in courage rather than fear." replied Karol, as Dmitri cross enlightened the remainder of the seventh block they have crossed, and suddenly the lights of the lamps began to increase, and eventually came entirely lit, and no longer flicking, except for one that all of a sudden, began to flicker in a somewhat rythimic manner, seemingly deliberate. The enlightened block stood as the only exception in the Section, and as Dmitri verified the still flickering lamp, his team leader tried to contact the other teams to check their status.
Like all other residential blocks of Salvation street at such moment, Block seven was filled with cracks on the ground, with papers and leaves flying on the ground, and its Eastern European inspired two, five and four-store buildings were in a state of total disrepair, including the supernaturally transformed one Dmitri has closely witnessed, with very few still having glass in their windows, or windows at all. Although the interiors of the houses' rooms with exposed windows were clearly visible, as the weak, unnaturally dimmed sunlight still allowed for them to be seen, for now clearly devoid of any malice of threat, they still watched carefully all the windows crossing their way, for at such state of mind storm, the dark servants of flesh and bones would be in a great advantage for an ambush, even though the more they have gotten into the depths of these haunted grounds, the least likely life seemed to exist in the place, and other than the malice of evil spirits, no other type of enemy seemed to exist either. Dmitri now knew that something could be done against such evils, other than their defensive faith. It was perhaps the time to attack further in the war of spirit, through humbleness and belief.
The cross-shaped white light, perfectly forming the symbol of the Holy Republic, the light of Christ amidst a world of darkness, did nothing to stop the flickering, or reduce its intensity, despite all faith Dmitri held over it, symbolizing their resolve and trust in the Lord. However, most strange was the fact that the most he approached from the lamp, the least the burden became. Perhaps their faith has truly drawn to them some aid from the Heavens for the War of Spirit, although that could be as well a very well laid trap by the enemies, for sometimes dark angels could disguise themselves as angels of light, and the very enemy was also known as the light bearer. Cautiously, he observed the flickering lights, and tried to get their cadence. It was definitively a sort of Morse code, and considering the usual prideful manner evil spirits tended to manifest, it seemed as a very humble way to inform them of something. Slowly making up the letters, he quickly took an empty paper from his bag with a pen and began to write slowly a message which seemed to never end:
The enemy seeks to lure you to its focus of might, and away from its roots. Allow not for them guide your way to a deathtrap. Trust only in the Lord's way with all your faith, for the path to salvation is harsh, and its false shortcuts tempting.
As he realized the meaning of the message, he then looked at the flicking lamppost and asked, in his language, to a being he could not truly see, and thus not be certain on its nature as an ally or enemy. A question which answer would serve to the define the true nature of the entity which communicated with him through Morse code:
"What is your name, spirit?"
It was then that the light stop flickering, and the pleasant presence simply vanished, letting the burden increase again against Dmitri. Doubts began to fill his head, and the sudden vanish of the entity made it a nearly unsolvable enigma to discover whether it served God or Satan. Karol walked next to him, and looking at him, his leader then spoke, with clearly hope in his voice:
"None of us has perished, and nobody reported finding anything alive. Now, I see you have found a message. Strange brother, truly strange. Pass it to me, so I can analyze it. This dark place can be more dangerous for the lies it breeds than for the dread."
Handing it over to Karol, Dmitri tried to think about it by his own. The fact the entity simply vanished when he asked of its identity was disturbing for the likelihood of each of the two possibilities to explain it was the same: either it was a trial of faith or a trickery from demons to lure them into the real trap by emulating what they expected to be holy message. He could not make an opinion, because there was really nothing that could identify the messenger as a liar, for its message was seemingly devoid of pride, simple and too appraising of God for even one of the most powerful dark angels to stand writing. Looking at Karol, he awaited for his opinion, soon to be spoken:
"Our enemies are truly cunning. They have perfectly managed to give us the obvious way, to then attempt to convince us that the path to their heart was a lie rather than truth, by using the disguise of a Lord's servant in nearly perfection, a feat that only the most powerful demons could achieve, to which this holy symbol alone cannot be of any avail, even with our deepest faith put into it, an enemy that only an archangel could defeat, beyond what we as men can fight against. Trust me brother: all we would meet in such smokes was perdition. Lets continue on our planned way. Other teams are gathering up for the area for our decisive fight against darkness. Ignore the minor demons in our path, for with enough faith, God shall protect us from their harm."
Respectfully shaking his head, Dmitri looked at Karol and said, in the hope that his leader would understand the implications of what they were about to engage into, and of refusing to have faith based on questionable deductions:
"This seems too perfect to be a lie brother Karol. I've felt a closeness to the kingdom of Heaven, a sanctuary in this haunted section, that now vanished. Perhaps it's a test of our faith, and perhaps our first sighting was the lie rather than truth. Faith is our greatest weapon, and in places like this, what the skeptics known pure logic is not the best manner to make a decision."
Bluntly, his leader sighed and said loudly:
"You have just joined the Holy Inquisition, how do you dare to question the obvious fact? I have fought this very enemy for years. I know how these demons behave, and so you know, it was something similar to this the very trick responsible our former team member was lost. Remember brother, that enemies of flesh also may be here, setting up ambushes with weapons capable of destroying our bodies. This could not even be a spirit at all, but a trick with an amperage controller or distance switch our enemies have built to trick us all!"
Dmitri found the erratic answer of his leader extremely strange. First he said it was a disguised evil spirit and now that it was their enemies of flesh laying a trap by tricking them with a very simplistic deceit. When conflicting ideas came so fast into one's man mind, together with bursts of pride and arrogance, one could only fear for the worse. Considering what happened with his former pals in the outpost he served at, Dmitri could not ignore the possibility a very well hidden malefic influence was manipulating Karol's decisions.
"Brother Karol, why have you answered me with the sin of pride and two different explanations for the same phenomena? Is there something wrong? Question your thoughts brother, for pride can blind you to the traps of our enemies. Do not let them ruin our mission!"
"The only person threatening the ruin of our mission is you Dmitri!" Karol then shouted loudly, as the other two members of the team continued to cover each of the sides of the block with their lights. "Perhaps you should question your thoughts, for what they seek is to break the unity and cordiality of our holy forces, to promote dissent and strife, exactly what our enemies want. Now if that is what you want to allow them then I ask you to leave immediately this mission. You still have no idea of how hard and is the trial of fighting such threat. Maybe once you are better prepared, return."
Nodding, as he realized how his departure would endanger the mission, Dmitri accepted, fearing that such was a powerful manner to entrap him with his team and away from the previously planned operation, as they would no longer continue through Salvation street but instead scout what seemed to be the center of all demonic manifestations, but which could as well be a major trap set for them. Or perhaps, despite all, moving ahead could be a trap. Doubt and hesitation were very difficult feelings to fight against, and now the greatest feelings in Dmitri's mind. He never imagined that to battle such evil was so challenging, and perhaps it would have been better if he never investigated the flickering light, aware that it only served to increase his fears, and changed nothing on what they intended to do. And thus, past the seventh block, the darkened streets continued, and they turned to the left, to arrive at the back of block sixty-six. Then Karol again took the radio to communicate with other members of the team, speaking clearly:
"All teams, which are your situations?"
And after several answers, he announced to Dmitri and the others of the team:
"Let us move fast, our brothers are approaching, with no loss, thanks to our Lord and His son Jesus Christ, and reported major sightings of shadows two blocks away from each block close to Block sixty-six location. Prepare for the battle brothers, for this shall be a great spiritual battle ahead. Have no fear, for the Lord shall protect us for every horror that may come." and then, he looked specifically at Dmitri, and handed him a Bible, saying no words, only indicating that it could help him as a symbolic shield of faith.
Dmitri felt reassured, for Karol certainly was not a flawless and sinless man, like any other, but he was still a righteous man, and he had faith that his decisions were enlightened by God, perhaps so much faith that ironically, if evils managed to trick his mind into making a wrong decision, he would not ever realize it. Sometimes such faith was dangerously close and even converted into his personal pride, but none of them were free of weaknesses. Dmitri however, still feared what could happen, but nonetheless he ran after his leader, keeping the cross-shaped light to remove dark forces from their direct path. There were only three blocks remaining, as Karol prepared to synchronize their arrival. The burden was increasing each meter they came closer to the dark visage, and as they were only two blocks aways, the shades caught by their lights became darker, with Dmitri alertly directing his light and his faith focused through it against them, but they were starting to increase in numbers, and to come from many directions.
"Do not fear brothers! Rally and have faith!" Karol shouted then. The shadows began to gain more vivid shapes, as human shades with the shades of bat-like wings, ethereally flying all over. Flapping sounds could be heard, with every flap accompanying short screams and grunts. The sky suddenly began to darken as thousands flew over them, and Dmitri began to feel like if a dagger was piercing his stomach, trembling and shaking. With strong determination, he continued. There were only two blocks, and yet the shadows, which removed all sunlight, engulfing the blocks into the most complete darkness, continued to fly over them, strangely not attempting to lunge at them, maybe because they did not need to do so to attack their minds and courage.
"All brothers! Forward to the source!"
The source, as it has been called, was a block with four three-store buildings, of red, brown, and two of white bricks respectively and a central alley between them. According to the memories of the footage of their destroyed drone, the terraces of all these buildings have collapsed into rubbles, and the legions of shadows emerged from the exact center of the block, between the four buildings, covering its ground floor and whatever lied below. The streets however, were pieces of street amidst fissures rather than fissures amidst the streets, and seemed particularly unstable, giving the impression that they could as well fall to the abyss if stepped by a being of flesh and bones. The holy soldiers prepared their holy waters and some even drew their fleshly weapons slung to the their backs, aware that they would be of no avail. The only lights were those of their searchlights, for all lamps in this area were unlit because of the massive influence over it.
Despite the massive terror, Dmitri moved quickly towards the back of the block with his brothers, while the other teams came from other street crossings to converge from ahead, and legions of shadows flew above their heads with their red eyes emanating intense hatred and the nearly deafening flapping of wings, seemingly repelled by the cross light and their very faith, but still able to assail their thoughts. Considering what they had done with their unmanned aerial vehicle before, Dmitri has probably been guided to save them from certain death, although perhaps, there could be a reason why the center of the alley between the four buildings was hid by shadows of demons.
They have finally arrived at each of the buildings, with next to each of the four teams, one of the entrances to the central alleyway. Two other teams were instead trying to spot fleshly threats, away from them, and werface e as of now with no losses. There was a certain worry to turn around and the alley, while Dmitri continually struggled against the flying demons. Karol showed no hesitation, and prepared to synchronize his turning to the alley with the four other teams, seemingly finding an inner peace amidst such place.
"Dmitri Left!" one of the team members than shouted in despair as Karol turned to the left with a flashing speed. As he turned his eyes to such direction together with his light, two red eyes with immense hatred and malice from an humanoid shadow with its arisen wings tried to pierce through his soul, and likely to kill his physical body, as it then screamed into an horrid, guttural voice, clearly in pain:
"Your God uses you as fodder! He abandoned youuu! Dmitriiii!" it ushered, flying back to the ceiling among other shadows.
"Don't give ears to their lies Dmitri." Karol then immediately said as he prepared for the decisive moment of their holy mission. Taking his radio, he prepared to give the command, as Dmitri made one last mental prayer to the God, ignoring the insults and blasphemies spoken by the evil spirits, clearly withering as he delved into his deepest prayers while keeping them at bay with the holy symbol light of the searchlight attached to his rifle:
Lord, give me strength. Illuminate my path, for I have trust in Your all-mighty will. Now our faith shall be Your sword, and You shall be our shield. May light shine again in this world.
"Brothers, three seconds only, get ready for whatever lies beyond." Karol then said again, as they became increasingly alert. Their legs were heated by the countless fissures on the ground, and the buildings seemed to be rotting like if they were made of living matter, such was the immense state of disrepair of the same, with some bricks missing with dark spots them, and most worrisome of all, one of the fissures extended vertically through the building right next to Dmitri's team, even though it did not collapse. With the three seconds, Dmitri had his last thought;
May Karol be enlightened
With the rallying cry, Karol immediately sprinted, with a flask of holy water at his left hand and a holy cross at his right, and Dmitri nearly simultaneously advanced to the block, turning to his left to face what lied at the central alley. The other teams repeated the gesture, and soon they would realize the truth about the signs, both unholy and seemingly holy, that they have testified since their first step into such dark, forsaken and abandoned area of the city, devoid of even the life of rats, parasites and insects.
Six is the number of man, a number which represents imperfection, sin and greed inherent to mankind, and yet, it is the closest number to seven, the number of divine perfection. Yet, nothing divine lied in the core of Section Six, in its block numbered Sixty-six. Perhaps the location could be written as Six hundred sixty-six, the number of the beast, and indeed, as soon as Dmitri finally faced the central alley between the four ruined buildings, illuminated only by the lights of their searchlights, continually burning as the holy water repelled demonic influences, with flying demons of shadows, able to absorb the very light of the sun, seeking to destroy them at any moment, it was at such exact moment that they would realize the horrors of such cursed place, already assailed on the spiritual realm, and immediately, assailed in the material realm.
Dmitri nearly puked as he witnessed the gruesome satanic ritual done in the middle of the alley. A rotting smell suddenly came in its full stench, seemingly covered by the demonic manipulations over their minds, assaulting his nostril as Dmitri witnessed another victim of the brutality, or likely many victims, for such was an horrible visage to behold, with no longer any chance of defining how many parts of corpses were there. A pagan Christmas tree, deformed and leafless, lied into the center, in the middle of a Baphomet likely writ in blood. Bowels were strewn around its dying branches, forming a gruesome image of the twisted, Satanic origin of the false Christmas, while dozens of human eyeballs were pierced over each of its branches ends, forming an horrible and monstrous monument that seemed to stare at all of them simultaneously, built from countless victims of such monsters and betrayers of the Lord among their people, and at its very top, a bald, decapitated and eyeless human head, in a serious stage of decomposition, stared blankly at them while carrions wriggled through its flesh.
The head faced straight at Dmitri's fireteam, as just as they arrived, it unnaturally turned around the direction of Dmitri, as a legion of carrions unleashed from its rotting mouth, swarming in a much greater volume than what could realistically be inside such limited and disturbing piece of body. The wriggling of the worms seemed to crackle into laughters and unholy praises to devils, as the swarm marched through the few dozens of meters towards each of the teams, in a speed much beyond what natural creatures of such type could achieve. Demons were clearly starting to manifest physically, assuming the shape of unnatural carrions, meaning that the situation was much worse than they have ever imagined. Dmitri, haunted by the spiritual negative force of legions, by the nauseating stench of putrefaction and by the disgusting demonlings in carrion form, could only make one thought in his mind as the swarm approached:
Why have I not brought the cleansing flames? Why have Karol let his arrogance lead us to such situation?
"Brothers! Grenade and blessing!" Karol then shouted through a radio as he aimed his underbarrel grenade launcher towards the seething mass, which was now less than twenty meters from them. Dmitri immediately took a canteen of holy water, while trying to keep his light over the threat over the skies and waiting for Karol's order, prepared to throw it over the demonic swarm. One of the soldiers withheld a holy Bible, and began to pray as the vermin slowed down. Laughters, crackles, screams and blasphemies attempted to distract the faithful soldier as he prayed, who stood with discipline against the voices and whispers of darkness, as time was bought.
"Now!" Karol shouted, as he aimed his grenade launcher to the very center of the alley, and Dmitri immediately threw the water of the canteen, as far as he could, which made an arcing way towards the center of the demonic horror, coupled with another soldier of his team, and they immediately moved behind cover, as Karol fired a grenade over the place and took cover to the side of the decadent building with them. Dmitri pointed his light against the shadows hovering, and prepared for the loud explosions.
The ground trembled as the grenades fell over, and a loud bang was heard, accompanied by a nearly unbearable, unholy guttural screams, thousands of screams, which could be either of agony, malice or delight, enough to put some of the bravest men to their knees. An equally loud hissing sound came as the holy water purified the unclean pavement of the alley, and the unholy monument to the bestiality of brutality of men under satanic influence. That was nearly half of their supplies of blessed water, meaning that more than ever, all they would have to defend themselves, if the situation continued, would be their faiths alone in such complete darkness. Dmitri was face to face with hundreds of red eyes, attempting to exploit the first weakness and the first gap to destroy them, as a massive amount of smoke emanated from the alleyways of the block. The absolute darkness was terrifying at a place like this, and the continual hissing around their searchlights, coupled with the scorch marks over the cloth wrapped over them, meant that if they wasted all their holy water, they could end in absolute darkness. And Dmitri suspected that was exactly their intention. The fear of total darkness, certainly not irrational in a place like this, and their complete inability to conduct any operations without a light source would lead Dmitri and all others to their demise.
Karol again turned to the alley, as Dmitri followed him with the others, keeping the aim of his light on the darkened and demon-covered skies, to only spot nothing more besides a oozing mass, boiling like if the very holy water have cleansed it, with an horrible stench falling upon the seemingly bottomless fissures on the pavement, with a speed high enough to give the presumption that there was something in the underground absorbing such mass. The remains tree, now shattered in many splinters of wood around by the explosion of the grenades was completely cleansed of the disgusting contents it previously withheld, and no longer a pentagram lied at the center of the alleyway, dissolved by the will of the Lord together with the ungodly and murderous ritual. The worrisome problem however, was how such fact seemed to bear no effect in the horrible presences that could not be seen. In fact, Dmitri felt much worse now, as demons no longer physically manifested attempted to wear them down through the war of spirit. Karol gestured for everyone to meet in the center for an investigation of the area, as sixteen men came through it, holy warriors prepared to fight against the evils that could still be there. Perhaps there could be a clue in such alley, perhaps the key to discovering the location of the satanists that could unleash a powerful demon in the world at any moment.
It was then that Dmitri remembered of the message, for them to not be afraid and to not take shortcuts, that Karol has dismissed. Perhaps they were making a big mistake, and he seemed powerless to stop it. As they gathered around the center of the alleyway, where a small patch of dirt stood, with even its soil also filled with fissures, which has been a small garden back when such was not part of a cursed place, they looked upon the buildings around them, with its back doors very close to them, in their decadent wooden frames, which likely would require no effort to cede, if necessary to investigate such buildings.
Looking briefly at the twelve others which stood with him, Dmitri felt safer, as he continued to back off the shadows. The beams of light enlightened only what was of utmost importance to them, as darkness engulfed everywhere else. The environment still was not very conductive to good thoughts despite the combined faith of sixteen men, and something seemed to be wrong about the way things were set, although Dmitri could not see exactly how, and his mind was extremely busy focusing on aiming the light of his faith over the demonic enemies, which seemed unstoppable in their urge to attempt exploiting a weakness. Karol then gestured for two men of his team to investigate the building right next to them, and other leaders also gave equal instructions, as the back doors of the buildings were open, and their interiors enlightened. Dmitri simply stood with his leader, offering him cover and covering the eight man remaining in the outside from the enemies above while others braved the forsaken residences, likely witnessing terror and filth amidst the floors and stairways.
Karol was attentiously listening to the reports of the two Inquisitors investigating the red bricks' building right next to them, and seemed a bit anxious, as if nothing was yet found out. Dmitri wished that they would not take too much long, for he could feel like if thousand knifes were about to traverse his heart, such was the number of legions that amassed at the place to attempt to demoralize and weaken them. They would not ignore their presence that easily, and Dmitri knew that sooner or later enemies that could directly kill them with physical weapons could arrive, it was only a matter of time.
An eternity at such conditions seemed to have passed, and sometimes Dmitri wondered if he was no longer in his own world but in some sort of hell brought to Earth through unspeakable acts of blasphemy, savagery and inhumanity. Yet, he knew that the Lord was protecting him, even amidst such darkness, and his faith was perhaps the only reason why he was still alive. Five minutes have gone, although for him such were some of the longest five minutes of his life, and the location was worse than even the abyss he has faced before. At such moment, news would come, as Karol would confirm by replying back to a transmission:
"Return immediately then, as this block seems to be far worse and dangerous than all others."
As both returned, the other team members returned, speaking that they have found nothing besides the total disrepair and absence of any life in such places. The two brothers then, facing Dmitri and Karol, pointed to a red cover book with a Baphomet drawn on its cover, and handled it to Karol. The commander readed the book, and looked surprised as he flipped its page to see only blank pages devoid of any content. Crackling laughters then echoed through the place, as Impulsively Karol flipped fastly past all blank pages, to see only one message, writ in blood, in the last page of the book, with only one word inscribed, to which Dmitri immediately realized:
Suddenly a loud boiling, hissing and writhing sound began to storm them, as Dmitri sighed, finally entitled to question the order of his leader, driven by the dangerous sin of pride, a truly capital sin, which has no probably sealed their fate, he did not know why he was speaking such harsh words, but he just said them out of blue, as if something wanted for him to speak them:
"Why have you refused to trust the Lord? Why have you betrayed us?"
Karol suddenly overreacted, as a likely threat was coming to their way, and with no hesitation, pointed his rifle at Dmitri's head, like if driven by insanity and demonic influences which have discretely hid themselves into the depths until the right time. Dmitri felt no fear of death however, as his faith remained strong, although he was shocked, like all others, to experience such thing.
"Shut up or I will kill you traitor! For now... now I see. It all makes sense that you were the only one who survived the Outpost incident. The demons have tainted you, anointed you to be their puppet Dmitri, and you, in your blindness, do not realize that you are contributing to their goals, trying to break the trust among our brothers. You! You are the real traitor here!"
Now it made sense why, unlike he expected, Karol never handled holy water during their mission after a certain point. He was showing the obvious signs of possession, and likewise, attempting to turn everyone against Dmitri, as he realized his guilt. With his weapon and its cross-shaped searchlight on the floor, those sixteen men were as vulnerable than ever, and the situation was only worsening. Dmitri simply feigned to not notice however, as a soldier took a holy water canteen of his bag in well trained silence, and uncorking it, threw the same against Karol.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZcCxRDtTyM -
The demon then showed himself, as Karol fell on the ground, screaming gutturally, and an unholy moan came from him.
"Brother, take the searchlight again and cover us! Our brother has faltered and now he needs help!" One of the soldiers, which Dmitri has not personally met, said, as the same moved towards Karol with a Holy Bible in his left hand, and a holy cross in his right. Dmitri did not hesitated and nearly jumped to grab his rifle back. As soon as it pointed it above, he felt strong sting over his chest, as too gashes were made over his clothes. Two red eyes stared deeply into his soul, with unspeakable terror and forbidden words, before the shadow retreated due to the light. The boiling and withering sound, like if flesh was being manipulated, intensified, and Dmitri soon realized where it was coming from. The undeground. In Russian, with six Inquisitors struggling to hold over Karol on the ground, the Inquisitor spoke, pointing his cross over his possessed brother:
"By the will of the Lord and Jesus Christ, who tends to the flock and to this of his sons, you are compelled to leave! In the name of the Lord, begone foul spirit! For you have no place among the faithful! For you have no place on this world! The power of the Lord compels you! The will of Christ compels you!"
It would not be easy, for laughters, screams and blasphemies a man like Karol would have never spoken came from his possessed body. The man, in his battle dress suit with holy symbols and seals, continued to press in his attempt to free his brother from the demon which exploited Karol's weakness: his pride. Such brother, likely one of the few of them trained in the infamous art of exorcism, persisted with his faith, reducing significantly the burden they were feeling.
"Your God is nothing... he has ordered us! He laughs at you! He has ordered the very ritual of this place!" the demon puppeteer replied back, with no signs of giving up, despite clearly disturbed by their faith and by the presence of holy symbols. Screams able to echo through the entire city nearly caused deafness to them as holy water bathed Karol, and suddenly, he passed out.
"Do not listen to the lies of demons and dark spirits brothers!" Dmitri then said, paraphrasing the very man who have been possessed. Karol seemed to be unconscious, as the Inquisitor looked at him, and said in a command voice, still inspired and serene, despite the clear presence that was coming from below, meaning their time was running out. Faithful, Dmitri prayed mentally again for the Lord to forgive the pride and arrogance of Karol, and hoped that they could win such spiritual battle for Karol's soul before it was too late. He knew that despite such flaw, the man with him has been an example of moral standing, a man who sacrificed much of joy, happiness and peace to ensure the same to others, a man courageous to have faced for countless years situations like this. Perhaps it was the very experience that reduced his precautions to avoid what has happened to him.
"Leave this son of the Lord, foul being! I know you are still here, for the Lord shows me the truth! Leave, in the name of the Lord who commands all of you! Leave, in the name of Jesus Christ, the savior! Leave, in the name of the Holy Ghost!"
Another disturbing scream came from Karol as he jumped, with nerves showing on his neck, as his head unnaturally turned a full three hundred sixty degrees, and only the blank of his eyes visible, while the six soldiers holding him nearly were thrown away. Winds began to sweep much strongly, and then the exorcist continued to struggle against the demon, realizing their time was running out, and that if he did not manage to save Karol, his soul could be forever lost. The possessed Karol was becoming more and more erratic, and suddenly, he spoke in an agonizing womanly voice, which Dmitri recognized immediately
"Dmitri, my son. Please help me... it burns... it hurts... why have God done this to me? Why have he lied to all of us? The rebellion... it was for a good cause, our god... sob... he cheated us... he is evil and tyrannical... he will reward you with eternal torment... like all of us... he distorts your perceptions to be afraid of his enemies, but it is him who torments you... he who orders men to commit these rituals... please... help me... this god is a lie, and he can be killed... please... it burns... it... you know... I remember that day... in seven of August of twenty thirty-one, when... you told me... that you was not sure... on why we were here... when you called me little Katyusha. They are... they are demonized freedom fighters against... the tyrant god, who seeks to rule you all... it's the truth... it is..."
Dmitri simply stood in silence, and ignored the lies. The demon was attempting to break them over emotionally, to pretend being people they trusted deeply, speaking absurdities and blasphemies against their Lord, forgetting of their awareness that all thrones of tyranny of the world were controlled by Satan, that their Holy Republic, still surviving through the uncorrupted Inquisition was the only free nation of Earth, free from the corruption of devils over politicians, free from the powers that were abused. They could not trick them in believing otherwise with their lies, for the only tyrants were them, and Dmitri had no doubts over it. It was by then that, in the exit corners of the alley, accompanied by the loud noises of moving flesh, boiling and rotting human flesh, in the shape of a nightmarish ooze, with a nearly unbearable stench, began to surround all their exits from their alley, slowly forming walls of flesh (http://www.geocities.com/blood_ak/e4m7_scene.jpg), in a rate too fast for them to run and pass through, and attempting to cover all it touched, including the very four buildings.
One of their brothers suddenly could no longer stand it, and vomited on the pavement due to the disgusting manifestation of evil that was forming. Its tendrils of flesh were slowly advancing, while bubbles began to come from the fleshly walls surrounding them as Dmitri shouted, still wavering his holy light into the shadows, which continued to torment them.
"Brothers! Let not fear overcome you! Trust in the Lord and he shall protect us!"
Eleven men, as seven were occupied with the exorcism of Karol, covered all their surroundings with light, observing as the mass of flesh advanced through the floor and walls of the buildings. Suddenly hundreds of human eyeballs popped out of the fleshly walls blocking their retreat, as human heads (http://www.mobygames.com/images/covers/large/927866558-00.jpg) began to writhe from inside the ooze with agonizing facial expressions, and screams of torment began to assault their ears. The exorcist was speaking louder than the screams, and continued his attempt. The fleshly tendrils were few meters only away from their feet, and approaching slowly, like if to attempt enticing terror in their minds. The visage was truly disturbing, and the rancid stench enough to revile through the strongest stomachs. Dmitri then came to realize that such threat was no longer only of spirit, and thus defeatable in part with guns. The tendrils and fleshly mass was nearly touching them, while human eyes stared at them with malice and hatred, and faces withered in torment in the horror that came through.
"Fire!" Dmitri shouted as hails of bullets hitted the flesh, and wounded it. However, it continued to advance, with faces and eyes moving through it, as if it could simply take as much punishment as they could deal. Their weapons were completely futile against it, and immediately they resumed their prayers.
"Karol! Fight back! Come, for Christ asks of you to come. Raise! For the Lord still loves you, as he has always loved you. The Lord commands that this body belongs to the soul of Karol, and thus his Will ensues! The will of the Lord ensues! The will of Christ ensues! The will of the Holy Ghost ensues! Begone!" the Inquisitor then spoke, holding the holy cross next to the face of the possessed Karol, as a last agonizing moan came, and Karol eyes suddenly returned to their position. Looking at the exorcist, and noticing the stench Karol then said:
"I am sorry brothers, please forgive me. I have let pride take the best of me. Let me atone..."
"This is for later brother! We have to leave now! The war of flesh is our responsibility only" Dmitri then shouted as human flesh covered nearly the entirety of the alley paths and was very close to them. Karol suddenly got up, ignoring the torment and the stench, and looked at the house with white bricks, without saying anything, like if refusing to give an order, or feeling unworthy to do such.
"Let us retreat through there and block the door!", Dmitri then said, pointing the the white bricks building as well. Then shots were fired by some of their members, as agonizing and satanic screams could be heard coupled with the sounds of thumping noises. Humanoid masses of flesh were building up from the ooze, and marching against them until they felt again through the action of their guns and were absorbed by the major mass. The situation was critical, and they had to quickly reach for the roofs of the buildings, which were likely their only way out.
Dmitri then, protecting them from the demonic shadows on the skies, began to move towards the building. They had to be faster than the mass of flesh, for if it managed to cover its door, they would have nowhere to hide or escape. Karol gave burst against the monstrosities of uniform rotting flesh that were formed from the ooze as they retreated towards the abandoned building. It was then that a much larger, disproportionate face came from one of the walls, and spoke, moving its extruded mouth of rotting flesh, with a voice that seemed to be that of millions of cockroaches provoking a sound, eerily tormenting them further as they retreated, shooting upon the fleshlings that were raising as fast as they went down:
It was then that Dmitri finally entered in the lightened inside of the abandoned building, with only two others after him. As the agglomeration came to its inside, they could see the boiling, breathing and contracting flesh outside to some of its windows, fortunately boarded, but they knew that they had a limited time to reach the roof and make a literal leap of faith out of there. Scratching noises were heard over the door, as three man held it with all their strength against demons in flesh attempting to get inside. The exorcist who formerly helped Karol used his own rifle to bolt the door, putting it between two iron beams to lock it as knocks began to follow with the scratchings, boiling and withering sounds.
The room was a derelict living room, with a broken TV with shattered screen, rotting furniture and a rug that was nothing besides a few barely connected streams of fabric. Lifeless, dark and forsaken, the room was only made worse by the rotting flesh next to its windows, with its horrible stench, and the feeling of being watched very strong in all of them, like if there is always something at their back. They could not waste any time there, or their fate would indeed be sealed.
"To the roof! Godspeed brothers!" Dmitri then said, as he began to step upon the stairs, with the derelict wooden degrees creaking at each footstep of the holy warriors. There were three floors to get past through, and they began to get upstairs as fast as possible, in a row.
"You are already ours!" an inhuman voice, with the sound of spurting liquids like if splashing blood at each spoken word, shouted in a loud tone to them as they made through the last steps to the rooftop. Dmitri's heart was extremely fast in its beat, and he felt a constant panic, the awareness that any hesitation would mean death and failure in their mission. They have fallen into a trap, and now they had to move out of it.
Sweating and panting through the creaking stairs, Dmitri finally saw his salvation at the last the sight of the attic was at hand, with a dim sunlight still coming from large gaps in the mostly ruined roof, still not covered by the disgusting flesh as the demonic shadows hovered below the height of the building. They have succeeded into getting past the deathtrap the demons have set for them, and Dmtri felt alleviate as he took another fast step ahead, with only four steps before the ruined attic.
Then all of a sudden, Dmitri felt a fall and a strong sound of cracking wood, and everything went black as his consciousness faded away.
.:. See No Evil .:.
.:. Feel No Evil .:.
The boy trembled with each step that echoed in the cold, dark, and uncomfortably damp cellar. He could hear the steps above him, around him, throughout the entire cellar echoing off the shoddy, concrete walls and iron bars that surrounded him. Curled up with his knees to his chest, his arms wrapped around his shins, the boy had put himself in the furthest corner of the cellar but he still wanted to crawl further and further away. Silent tears curled down his dirt stained cheeks and hung onto his skin, underneath his chin and against his knees, where his chin was now buried. Slowly, he rocked back and fourth, trembling from the noises above, crying, and wishing that the origins and conclusions before him were nothing but a demented nightmare. He longed to wake up from it, from the origins and from the conclusions, and suddenly, be back at home, in his bed, his mother by his side, stroking his hair, telling him how bad of a dream he had just had. Fiction was what he hoped this to be but, in a strange and almost unnecessary twist of irony, this was more real than his fictitious hopes and dreams.
He wouldn't have let his mother touch his hair for it was grimy. He wouldn't let her hold his hand either, his whole body was covered in a layer of coarse dirt, which only covered up the bruises on his arms, chest, and face. The boy wore the same close he had worn the day he stepped into the stranger's darkness and disappeared from the civilized world. That had been six weeks earlier and authorities had legally declared him deceased. His mother took her own life that evening, his father no where to be found, his only other family gone missing or drafted into the militaries to fight the darkness that was abound. The longing for solace that he fought to keep alive within his chest forced him to keep awake, afraid to fall asleep and be prey for his nightmares, which were more lucid and frightening than any ordeal he had faced thus far. This weighed heavily on him as his eyes were bloodshot, the skin underneath them purple, black, and dark shades of red. Most of this was masked by the dirt and grime that covered his skin, especially his face, where tears mixed the grime into mud and subsequently seeped into his pores.
Six weeks was a long time for anyone to be in captivity. Prisoners spent years in it but few maintained any level of sanity in solitary confinement. His own solitary confinement wasn't necessarily solitary all of the time. Over the twenty-four hours of the day, he spent between eight and sixteen alone, surrounded by the concrete walls and iron bars. For the rest, he was beholden to the obligations of his situation. Those obligations were what broke him down the most. The silence of solitude was not nearly as terrifying and traumatic as the hours he spent beholden to his masters. For the first week, his will and his spirit was strong and he fought hard, each step of the way, struggled to keep awake to fool his captors. He tried to escape three times but failed horrifically each time and on the third time, he vowed that he would never try to escape again.
During his first week, he wasn't entirely alone. He faced isolation in his four walls but there were others in the cellar with him, two to be exact. One of them was a lovely girl, his own age, who he would have courted had the situations been any different. She spent every night crying herself to sleep, telling herself at a whisper, "This isn't happening." She would repeat it over and over and over to herself but it was happening. He never knew her name but he always smiled her way when he saw her and he always tried to give her some sort of warmth with his eyes. He wasn't sure if she had ever seen him or not, her head always being down but once, just before he tried to escape the second time, their eyes connected. "Save me," they said and the boy winked at her as he jiggled the lock on his iron pen free and took off running. He didn't get far though. Before he got to the top of the steps, he was on his stomach, sliding across the rough, concrete and dirt floor, skidding into the wall. He hit it hard and barely got his vision back before he was hoisted up to his feet by one of his captors, a man that was four or five times his size in both height and girth. "Boy," he said with a deep voice. "Try it again and I'll eat your eyeballs out of your head." He said to the boy as he threw him back into his pen. The beast laughed as he left the cellar, the boy visibly shaken. When he peeled his shirt up later on he saw deep cuts and bruises from when he was tripped and saw that now his shirt was torn to tatters. The next day, he concocted another escape plan and grabbed the girl by the wrist as he made a dash for it. He got reasonably far, far enough to see that the sky above him was neither light nor dark but rather gray, an odd shade of it as well. Mystified by what he saw before him, in the deserts that ended life rather than created it, he didn't see a small hole in the ground that was deep enough to warrant jumping or dodging or simply avoiding.
When his foot landed in the hole, which was six inches deeper than the ground he had been running on, his whole body lurched forward. He instinctively let go of the girl's wrist and fell forward, his ankle cracking underneath his fall, which was hard, fast, and messy. He hit his head on a rock and fuzziness surrounded his vision as he felt his body quietly nod off into an uncontrollable slumber. The girl tried to rouse him but she couldn't and she was too scared to run off on her own, eventually returning to her whispering state of fear as the captors ran towards them, crossbows and rifles in their hands. It took them only moments to assess the situation and they laughed to themselves as they roused the boy, roughly of course. When clarity had returned to his vision, they held him and dragged the girl across the ground by her hair. "You have to pay for your sins boy. Her too. But because you have tried to escape not once but thrice I see no alternative than to prove to you the gravity of your predicament." One of the captors, whom he judged to be the leader of them, said as he walked over to the girl, who was visibly in tremendous agony. He was over six feet tall and his height gave him great strength and great terror. Oddly enough, he chewed on an apple, a delicious apple as it would have appeared, picking off the bits of it and chomping them down, going for more quickly thereafter. Three others were with him, two holding the boy and one guarding the girl.
The words echoed in his said, gravity of your predicament. They echoed and echoed and echoed as the man with the apple bent down to the girl, his spit falling on her face as he chomped on a large bite of the apple. He stayed there until he chewed it down to its core, discarding it on the ground as he swallowed. "Lift her." He said as he turned back to the boy and reached down to his right thigh. There was a knife holster there and he pulled out a long knife, a knife at least a foot long. It was silver and shined like he had just polished it or bought it new. Holding the hilt tight, he walked over to the boy as the man holding the girl lifted her to her feet quickly and without much care for how much he hurt her in the process. "You will watch." He said as he kicked the boy in the knees, causing him to fall to the ground onto more rocks. His right knee, which hit one of the rocks dead on would soon begin to swell. "The fortunes of time and the winds of fate have brought us her at this moment. The skies are darkening with the lust of the righteous and the gluttony of the weak. Instead the gods of old are standing up and recognizing the wayward faults of mankind. The sins of the false religions and their false gods, Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, are to be judged by the gods and goddesses of the ancient times. When man was not swayed by the sloth of technology or the pride of calculation. The wrath that mankind exerts upon Mother Earth and the envy he exudes upon those who know differently are his shortcomings and shall be his failures but there is one thing, above other that will be his ultimate undoing and that is his greed for all things. Whether it is money or power or knowledge or even religion, it is the worst of his shortcomings. This greed has led us here and led you to try to escape, thrice. It has led you to take her with you," he pointed at the girl with the knife. She was now in a waterfalls of tears as she eyed the silver, shiny knife in the man's hand. "This is your punishment." He walked over to the girl and grabbed her by the shirt. The man behind her held tight as the man in front tore through its fabric with his knife, slicing it open, letting it flail in the wind. The man behind grabbed her by the hair and watched as the leader pulled off her shirt. She wore an undershirt too, a white one that he tore off just as easily and there she stood, half-naked, her body showing the bruises they had dealt to her and the bruises she had worked fighting them. He wasn't satisfied though and he continued, slicing off her jeans next, ripping her underwear off, revealing her true, naked form. She wore no shoes or socks and thus none had to be removed and there, the boy looked at her. She was beautiful, despite her bruises, her filthiness, her crying, or her position and he began to cry himself. "This is what you lust for but the gods created her not as an object of your lust but as an object of your worship." He sliced her arm quickly but not deeply, just enough to get blood on his knife.
With a demented smile, he walked over to the boy and smeared the blood on his cheek. His own blood had mixed with it instantly from the wound on his temple, where he had fallen onto the rock and instantly, his veins tightened and his muscles contracted, as if he had been struck by a severe, electric shock. That was the magic of the ancient religions and the ancient gods. It was their black magic. "Satisfied yet?" The leader asked of the boy but he didn't wait for a response that never came. Instead, he returned to the girl and looked at her naked form. They had beaten her and tortured her but never had they stolen her innocence, a precarious set of morality that inhibited them from what she thought was inevitable. The agony of waiting, not known about their confused and warped morality was the worst psychological torture she could bear. In ways she wanted them to just get it over with, to have their way with her but they hadn't, not once. Instead, they beat her, tortured her, burned her, and told her that her sins were worthy of sacrifice to the goddess above, a goddess they never named. They told her that when the awakening was ready, she would usher in the newest age of religious purity but they never told her details and simply sent her back to her solitude, where she cried. When will they do it? She would ask herself day in and day out, every night, and every moment of every second she bore.
Now, standing naked, hundreds of yards from the castle she had escaped from, with only four men and the boy who she didn't know but wished had never seen her, she thought that this would be the time, that she would be tormented no longer, that it would be done and her agony could finally progress past the unknown that it seemed to be stuck on, since she had first arrived there. Her voice was missing but she wanted to yell out, to curse their name, to offer her own last fight but her vocal chords received no brain transmissions. There was nothing to be said and the man looked back at her with a smile as he looked over her filthy body. He held the knife high and spoke in a language neither the boy nor the girl understood, some language that sounded as if it didn't belong to that hemisphere or even time. It was a prayer, of sorts, that ended with a simple conclusion, "Ynoga!" He shouted it aloud and drove the knife hard into her neck, instantly piercing her carotid artery. He yanked the knife out, twisting it as he did, which left a mist of blood in the air as she collapsed to the ground, her neck bleeding profusely from the mortal wound she had. The leader wasn't done though and he reached down her body, lower, and drove the knife hard into her chest and sliced it open in a circular pattern around the center of her chest, slicing through organs and bone alike. When he was done, he looked down, at her heart, which had stopped beating only a few seconds earlier. She had gone into shock during the ordeal and never felt much of his slicing and certainly she did not feel when he tore her heart from her chest cavity with a hard yank. He held it up, repeated his prayer and walked over to the boy and handed it to him. "Your sins won't merit such a quick punishment as hers."
Before he could realize just what had happened, he was being dragged and pushed back towards the cellar. The men had left the girl's mutilated body and her torn out heart on the dirt for the crows to eat. For them, it was a horrible fate to leave a body above the Earth, where the soul could not escape. It was the boy's fault, they explained as they pushed him and shoved him back towards his cellar hole. Despite the shoving and pushing, he couldn't take his eyes off the girl's body, which only got smaller and smaller as he got further and further away from it. He was thrown back into the cellar without much care for his welfare as he skidded across the floor and into the wall. It was there that the reality of what had just happened hit him. He crawled to the corner, unable to see much in its darkness, assumed his frightened position with his knees up to his chin and his whole body trembling, and began to cry. He cried for almost four days without stopping, sleeping intermittently as his captors had dragged him periodically from his cell here and there along the way.
The subsequent two weeks were the same as the last two. He had been taken out, at random, tortured, ritualized, and dehumanized, only to be thrown back into his cell afterwards, to repeat the endeavors and misgivings of his "sins" again a few hours later or minutes, depending on how much penance he had to do for the day. He had spent some time during the last week sleeping more than he had the previous weeks but at a cost. Whenever he had fallen asleep, he had seen her face and her naked body, standing there, looking at him, just as she was about to die. She looked at him with her soft eyes and screamed for help, so loud that it shook the mountains and the ground for thousands of miles in every direction. The men around her cringed from the volume, their eardrums exploding within their ears but yet he was already deaf. He could hear nothing from her. He stood still, unable to move forward, unable to do anything to help her as a bolt of lightning came down from the heavens above and struck her, instantly setting her ablaze. His immobility forced him to watch her burn in a fire so intense that it burned his own skin from the radiant heat. The nightmare repeated over and over again, each and every time he fell asleep and each and every time he even closed his eyes.
The last nightmare had been the most horrific and it had been the last time he had slept, eleven days prior to where he sat now. He had endured hours of more torture and penance, thrown back into his cellar hold like a rag doll. Sleep came within moments, his body and his mind exhausted beyond any recognizable means. He drifted back to the same horrific nightmare that had plagued him since the girl died. In it, the scene repeated itself, again, as it always did. He fell deaf to her cries and was incapable of helping her escape from the lightning bolt and subsequent fire that ravaged her body, melting her flesh and charring her bones. That was usually where he awoke, covered in a cold sweat, his heart beating, chest heaving, and his skin clammy. Except, this time, he didn't wake up, instead he watched as her corpse fell to the ground and the fire that consumed her burned itself out, leaving her remains. Her flesh had been melted onto her muscle, which had been melted onto her bones. Her appearance was horrific and yet he couldn't look away from it. Then, as if it wasn't enough that he was staring at a sight that would make anyone else vomit up their last eight meals, it moved. The corpse of the girl, at first, only jiggled and then, suddenly, it stood up, and combusted into a red and blue flame but this flame did not consume it but rather protected it. The girl gained no form and strode towards the boy, aflame and grotesque. Still deaf and still immobile, the boy could do nothing but stand there and look at what grotesque demon stood before him. The girl reached out, towards his with one of her arms, he couldn't immediately tell which but when she touched him, his skin lit ablaze as well and he sunk to the ground, his own flesh melting off and his bones charring. The pain radiated into his actual body and rather than awake in a cold, clammy sweat, he awoke in pain, his whole body feeling as if it were on fire itself. His nightmare had become a reality and he writhed in pain on the cold, wet floor, the intense heat underneath his skin burning it as if he were in the nightmare itself.
Now, it was eleven days later and he trembled with the footsteps that he could hear above him. Eleven days was a long time to go without sleeping and he had dozens of side effects from his voluntarily sleep deprivation. His muscles ached all over, his vision was blurry and only in black and white, he had little desire to eat, not that he had much prior, when he stood, he felt dizzy and more than once he had fainted back to the ground, slamming his head hard onto the ground. He had intense headaches to go along with the muscle aches and he felt himself more irritable than previously, not that he was in a situation that warranted fluffy behavior. His memory was fuzzy and he couldn't remember much of what had happened except for the face of the girl who died before his very eyes. There was more though. He was constipated, his reaction time was ridiculously slow, his speech was either nonsensical or slurred, as if he were drunk. There was one other side effect though that was worse than any other side effect he had suffered.
Above and beyond all others, he hated one side effect more than any of the others and it was the one that was making him more and more insane by the moment. He had some humanity and some wit about him, even now, six weeks into his captivity but it was eroding faster and faster each and every moment and with each and every hallucination. They took on many forms, all of them terrifying and the most terrifying of all was the charred remains of the girl whom he tried to save. His nightmares had come out of his sleep and to his conscious being, taunting and teasing him with each and every moment that he endured.
As he sat in his corner, terrified about what was coming next, he saw her face, her sad yet soft and beautiful face. It called to him, desperately seeking solace and relief from the nightmare that she experienced. She wanted solace and relief bad, very bad. She spoke to him during his hallucinations, with a voice that made it almost feel as if everything was going to be alright. That was what made it the worst, there was something about her voice that tortured him worse than anything his captors could do to him. There was nothing he could do to escape these visions either. They followed him everywhere and at every turn he saw these hallucinations and they made his torture even more unbearable. As he watched the latest hallucination stand in front of him and breathe fire his way, dancing around in a ring of fire, the iron bars suddenly opened and light trickled into the cell and standing before him was one of the captors, a large man who spoke in a deep voice, "Your time returns."
OOC: Sorry it took so long to write but writer's block and work/stress took over most of my time to write but I've got the introduction done now.
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rc6XewzY0Xk -
Unconsciousness is a strange state of mind. It is like a blank, a temporary stare into oblivion, and for those who did not believe in the word of the Lord, it indeed was a stare into the depths of oblivion, the inevitable fate of all beings according to the atheists. For those who had faith however, unconsciousness allowed for a brief glance into the world of spirit, one that, once consciousness returned, would be forgotten by the mind, but not by the soul, due to the barriers of the world of flesh to the contact with the other world. For Dmitri, a very brief sensation of pain was the last thing he felt, and then, like if only few seconds have passed, he immediately heard something. Not a torment, a demon or a satanic mockery like those he has been suffering since his first step into the haunted grounds of the city. The result of their mission was no longer a concern in this situation, and for once, living to fight for another day against evil would become an utmost concern once Dmitri woke up.
It was a soothing voice, and somehow, amidst the darkness of his closed eyes, a very calm, serene light seemed to be coming, although he could not open his eyes to see what was emanating it. Suddenly the horrors and disgusting sights of his mission in the streets were gone, and instead, the primary thing that came to him, at such strange state of consciousness, was Jesus Christ, the savior of man and son of the Lord. Perhaps there was more to it than he could understand, but it seemed too simple, and there was a lack of the typically prideful tone of demons disguised as angels.
"Brother of Christ! Your mission is not over yet. Faith and love are your true weapons and shields, and can achieve more than the most powerful arms of the world. Learn to forgive the lost souls, for the reward will be much greater from their redemption than from their death."
"Who are you?" Dmitri curiously asked when the voice came, but like in the last time it has happened, in which, should they have showed faith in the humble manifestation of what now was clearly an angel alerting them to the trap, and such could have been the very demise of his brothers, although he had faith in the Lord to protect them, and forgive Karol for his sin of pride.
It was then that he began to hear again sounds of whatever environment was ahead, and they seemed to not be sounds of the abominable location he went through before, instead, distant sounds of thunder and rainfall marked his return to what seemed to be consciousness. In answer, he immediately opened his eyes, initially blinded by the strong artificial light that came, and his vision slowly recovered from the flash, as the shape of the ceiling was being formed up. First, a blurry image which only certainty about was that it was not from an outdoors environment, and then, seconds made it clearer as he realized where he was. A triangular roof of studded cloth, as would be expected from a tent came to his vision, and with the realization he was in the middle of a military forward post, he looked to the sides to check what sort of place was it.
There were two simple beds with wheels, were two wounded soldiers, one with a finger missing and the other with four visible bandages over his torso and arms were there, still sleeping, which meant he was in a medical post of a campaign, and that a battle has already happened. It was then that a new voice came to him, as one of the nurses that expectedly were at the place came to him, realizing he woke up. As her face came to his sight, Dmitri immediately recognized her, and smiled to her, who kept her silence, and simply smiled back, moving to the outside.
Dressing a simple medical uniform, with both hands covered by gloves, staring at him with her blue eyes, with a white cross hanging over her neck, Ekaterina has truly found salvation, and did choose to convert herself to the only true faith, leaving behind her days of satanic witchcraft, which were now only a past of sin to be forgiven, for what truly mattered for the Lord was the person at the present, and to keep up with the righteous ways in the future. Thus, He was all-merciful and yet just, for all were given a chance to repent, even if few answered the call. She has answered it, and Dmitri pondered on the fact that now it was she who was helping him, probably as a thanks for what he had done to her.
Few seconds were gone as she returned with a doctor to her side, and the experienced man looked at Dmitri in awe and said:
"The Lord has truly blessed you, Dmitri. We had little hopes you would ever regain consciousness! I have written from the standpoint of science that your chances were of one percent, but it seems like perhaps you have something to do for the cause."
"Doctor? Do you know what happened to me and to my comrades in the streets in the city of Yakutsk?" Dmitri immediately asked, hoping that nothing has come to harm Karol and the others. At the same time, he began to lift from the bed, a fact to which the doctor demonstrated no issues, and soon a certain anxiety came to him as he awaited for the answer. Perhaps the war of flesh was less dangerous than the war of spirit, for in it, one had not the same risk of losing his soul, unless such became a ruthless killer. Asking for forgiveness in his thoughts, Dmitri had little time to think before the revelation finally arrived:
"First, my name is Janus Torev. Second all of yours came back alive and retreated just in time from the city with the refug..."
"Sorry for my interruption doctor Torev, but do you mean from the entire city of Yakutsk? Was the city lost to darkness?" Dmitri then curiously asked, wondering on the possibility that their mission at large has failed, and that perhaps, now Yakutsk was a cursed city in a much graver way than the mere spiritual presence of evil.
"Yes, the entire city has been evacuated, and we have burned everything we could to halt the way of the enemies of flesh. The worshipers of false gods have succeeded into breaking the barrier between the two realms for enough time for a demon to manifest physically. I do not know the details, but unfortunately some of our brothers have died trying to defeat it. If rumors can be trusted, not even our blessed flames managed to banish it."
Dmitri now was realizing the situation and another strange event that has happened: the event that he was still alive. Somehow, the angelic words he has heard were at such moment sounding truer than ever, and perhaps, they have been wrong all the time, perhaps only faith and love could truly change the world and end for once and all the evils that have existed since the beginning of time. However, if the city was truly abandoned, that meant they have simply more pressing matters to worry about. Dmitri simply nodded, expecting the doctor would understand he wished to hear the rest:
"Ekaterina found you unconscious right outside of this tent, with a parchment with a handwriting that not even our best scribes recognized, which content was made by transcripts of the holy Psalms 91 and 23, meaning that someone brought you here. You have remained unconscious for two months, and we are currently in the outskirts of the old city of Sansapor, where we are trying to defeat the last of our enemies of flesh to free up this front in a battle that has taken two weeks already. The trials are increasing, and if our brothers do not succeed, I fear for our chances in the war of flesh."
Dmitri simply nodded, wondering about it. He has fallen unconsciousness into the depths of darkness, into the very valley of the shadow of death that the 23rd psalm referred to. Perhaps it was truly the protection of the Lord that has ensured it. If so, then he knew that his responsibilities and temptations along the way would be much greater, for among the few chosen, many strayed from the righteous path. However, Dmitri also knew what had to be done, for much was at stake at such time:
"I cannot rest further while we fight. I wish to join the battle of Sansapor. Where is the armory? I must prepare in both faith and arms for this battle. And perhaps love. Did not Jesus said for us to love our very enemies?"
"Ideally, yes, we should love our enemies, and seek their salvation rather than doom. Unfortunately, we cannot win this war exclusively through spiritual battles, for the enemies of flesh would crush our people and corrupt them if we simply allowed them to advance." Janus replied, making hand gestures and pointing towards the outdoors, resolute of his position on the matter. Dmitri then had another thought, one that perhaps could be a turning point in his mindset. Perhaps they have been lured to take the wrong means against evil, or perhaps, it was still a matter of survival, to fight or die.
Are we being unfaithful by not trusting in the Lord to fight for us? Is it really necessary to kill the misguided and resort to violence in a war that only spiritual struggle can truly end? I wish I could have saved that witch, but she seemed too beyond salvation
It was then that he realized that perhaps Ekaterina might have done equal or worse to the woman he killed. Perhaps it has been a mistake to do so, even though somehow, damnation was nearly preset as a fate for her right when she began to conduct such unholy and inhuman ceremonies. But then, how would it have been fair to give another chance to Ekaterina but not for her? Sometimes, divine acts seemed completely beyond human comprehension. Unwilling to argue about the supremacy of love and faith over firepower, Dmitri simply nodded to the doctor, and, seeing the woman responsible for saving him in that large tent, with many lightbulbs hanging from its ceiling and a floor patched by a sterilized plastic cover. Out of the tent, night has already come, or perhaps the sun has finally faded out completely due to the unnatural darkness, giving way to shadows and to the unknown, an environment which was very unfriendly to any offensive action, requiring much of warriors in both body and spirit. As he walked away however, a familiar, female voice again reached his mind:
"The armory is in the fourth tent to the left just ahead. God bless you brother. We will have much to talk once this is over."
It was a strange thing, how he could again hear the voice a woman who forever lost her voice of flesh, but soothing, for seemingly she cared for him in both thoughts and gestures. He then looked behind, and smiled again at her. Her eyes, much more serene than before, simply looked at him, with no smile, but a certain way of her stare that seemed to somehow recall good feelings. Thus he turned his back and headed to the armory.
The encampment was right in the middle of the forest, in the middle of large clearing which stood in a mound, with enough geographical features to be both well hidden and well positioned against a possible attack, including trees, rocks, tall grasses and other natural barriers, augmented by sandbags and razor wire. There were hundreds of men there, in their shifts, who watched over the place, while vehicles were stationed, and in a strange sight for such environment, four Merkavas stood ready to attack together with the infantry, and a larger amount of armored cars and infantry fighting vehicles. The field was vast, with rows of trees forming an barely visible path between each tent and location of the base. Dmitri simply walked towards the tent somehow indicated by Ekaterina, which had a clear title in Slavic as "Armory". Inside it, spare body armors and uniforms beyond those of the stockpiles, rifles and ordnances were lined and organized, and a man stood next to a counter, a very familiar individual. It was Karol, his former commander! The man immediately addressed Dmitri:
"Brother Dmitri! Good to see you alive again! I have been informed you have volunteered for the battle of Sansapor. The instructions are simple: Take a rifle, a suppressor, an underbarrel grenade launcher, your uniform, your armor, your compass, your comms and as much ammunition and grenades you can carry. And don't forget to take either a night sight or night vision goggles. Everything here is checked, but you better double-check your gear. After you are ready, proceed to the fifth briefing room, which is just across this tent."
It was then that again, Dmitri readied himself for a battle, which this time would be almost exclusively in the war of flesh, unless unnatural presences were already coming to the city they intended to liberate.
"Karol, if it is no problem, why have you been reassigned to support duty?" Dmitri then asked, wondering the reason why a clearly competent man, despite some flaws, have been clearly demoted.
"I have sinned brother, I have been prideful and arrogant and I nearly became damned because of it. Now I am here to both understand that everyone is important, no matter their role for the betterment of man, and to learn how humility can make the difference between recognizing a mistake and repeating it, and how it is crucial for the war of spirit. Now head to the briefing room across! Godspeed brother."
Nodding, Dmitri saw a completely changed man, rather than ranting about his new position, Karol simply accepted it, and no longer was the boastful individual, refusing to take advice, that Dmitri has met. Or perhaps, he was simply feigning in part, for certain sinful practices could not easily fade away. Thus he crossed again the tree row between the rows of tents, and headed to a place where a small line formed up, but seemed to be quickly diminishing. Inside, humble wooden pellets were all that existed of seats, and Dmitri has taken his own. Ahead, a large white chalkboard was positioned, as a man looked at them, standing at the same height of floor, and began to explain the situation.
"Lets us first welcome our newest brother in the 271th urban combat platoon, Dmitri Yatonosci. Unfortunately, lets leave at that for now as time is fleeting. The Lord has given many signs that our tribulations will only increase at each second, for the Apocalypse is near, and such unholy signs are signs of the coming of the Antichrist, who shall engulf the world into the supreme tyranny of the New World Order. They want to destroy our Holy Republic, the last bastion against their cabal, to which all other governments in the world are puppets, and they have called even their very demons for such task. We must and shall prevail as we are servants and sons of Christ, and at this very moment, we are the last light amidst this darkness."
Dmitri simply listened up to the monologue, and wondered what sort of mission he was going to be sent at with the rest of the platoon. The leader continued, pausing his speech with proper intervals to let the soldiers understand very clearly the situation and the mission.
"As you already know, the city of Sansapor is the last line of defense of our enemies in the northwest front, and, thanks to the sacrifice and struggle of many of our brothers, our victory is already only a matter of time in this front. Unfortunately, we cannot lose any time, and the enemy continues to advance through the south, and has already taken many of our towns and cities that are closer to the borders between the heathens and faithful. We have acquired enough information to devise a plan which shall break all resistance of the enemy in the city in at best one day, and at worst two. We shall deploy multiple, small unit operations to sweep every street, nook and cranny of Sansapor, with nothing left unchecked. We must act with simultaneity, and keep surprise at our side as much as possible. Once the first shot is given, we must be very careful, for the towering buildings are perfect for snipers to take entire platoons down if we allow them, and many traps can be set. We have a minesweeping squad, just in case, and again, we must be very careful."
No matter how long the briefing seemed, Dmitri was held total attention to it, like all others, as he realized at was at stake once the updated map of New Guinea was displayed at the board through a projector. The enemy has managed to make inroads through the very region of the now spiritually lost Yakutsk, and every soldier was important. It had to be finished soon. Eventually however, a small section of a massive blueprint came to the board, showing the detailed aspects of the city square and surrounding blocks, where some of the many blocks were tagged. It was then that the man resumed his explanation:
"We shall secure then blocks at the very center of the city, and take down any threat on the way. Each squad shall sweep through one of the ten blocks at a time, for we must achieve it as fast as possible if we wish to save time for our primary front. You shall receive individual instruction in-course about which block each squad has been assigned to. Now move to the trucks northwest of here, we'll be moving towards the battle. The survival of our people depends on all efforts of this war, and the success of this operation shall be a turning point in our holy war, while the failure will bring serious consequences and demand much greater faith, struggle and competence from us. May the Lord protect you. Move!"
And thus Dmitri left the briefing room, and with the leader of the platoon, the very man who briefed them, also was marching into battle together with them. Walking through a larger patch where armored trucks were lined, with machinegun emplacements in their open containers, he came inside one of them, emblazoned by the symbol of the Inquisition, and wore a grey disruptive pattern for urban combat. As the soldiers finally were all inside, the vehicle closed its container hatch and began to move.
(OOC: Sorry it took so long to write but writer's block and paper pushing took over most of my time to write)
Chapter 2: Wars or Rumors of War
Morning. Total darkness encompassed everything, except for patches of a seemingly endless bastion of civilization amidst the forest, a road touched by the beams of light from the dozens of trucks in multiple convoys from a battalion, sometimes illuminating briefly the countless trees among their way with their spotlights, lights through which Dmitri stared attentiously at the woods, in search of anything that could hint an ambush, standing in one of the platforms next to a machine gunner with night vision goggles, pointing his AN-94 against the unknown of the jungle, ready to fire if necessary, to kill, although killing others was a double-edged knife, for while it was certainly effective to win the wars of flesh, it strengthened their spiritual enemies.
As the lights moved past the foliages, sometimes moved by wind, and ground, shadows accompanied, creating an eerie movement of light and darkness for Dmitri to watch, as, by looking behind, he could spot as the same tree met darkness and light from each passing of the vehicles lights from his convoy, sometimes giving him the impression something hid behind the trunks of the trees just as the lights came, to return as they moved away, a sensation augmented by a faint gut feeling that there was someone, something right behind him, and not one of his brothers, something malefic, which presence was still felt despite the shield of so many faithful gathered together. Many were praying, and others concentrating and preparing their minds for battle, perhaps by pondering on how to react from how many, who, or what are the enemies to be fought.
Among the trees, some old trees stood in Dmitri's most recent memories. Old, creaked and dying ones, which creaks sometimes seemed to move, forming sinister grins as the convoy passed through them, as if they were somehow aware of their presence. Sometimes a chilling breeze came through, too cold to be considered natural during the summer of a tropical island like Guinea, freezing even his very soul with its touch, and yet his resolve and alertness to what could lurk in the woods continued to occupy his mind and allow him to nearly ignore such frights, for they were more important, and he has been trained to fight against fear and doubt.
However, even the most disciplined sentry would become tired of his watch, given enough time, and as time became less clear, like if much time has passed, Dmitri, still seeing nothing of relevance besides the tricks played by shadows against the mind. Thus he stepped down from the platform to sit down on one of the vacant spots of the large benches inside, as he slung his rifle on his back to rest his tired arms.
It was then that he realized, as the ache of his limbs approached a degree he couldn't bear and he struggled to avoid falling asleep, that it may have been for ages that he stood watch, too stoic to realize such long time, and now the pieces were joining together. Sansapor wasn't too far away, and by now they should have already arrived, while it was illogical for a convoy to move nonstop with no additional supplies given to the soldiers, as it was the fact only one of all of the thirty has fallen asleep. However, he still intended to play dumb with whoever might have schemed this. It didn't make sense that it could be all part of a intricate trap rather than a result of the sense of paranoia Dmitri acquired in the last months. The Inquisitors were sufficiently close to the Lord through their devotion to receive wisdom regarding such ploys, and thus it was technically impossible for something of such scale, involving an entire battalion, to happen. For if it did, it could only mean that even the Inquisition has been corrupted, and was perhaps only a puppet in a war orchestrated by the Devil himself.
As his mind focused on the truck rather than on what lied on the outside, other interesting details were seen, as he patiently observed everything for important details that could serve as clues to what was happening. The other soldiers, except for the sleeping one, always repeated the same pattern of gestures over and over, like if they were puppets programmed to do so, or due to some other unnatural reason. One of them seemed to be praying for way too long, immobile like a statue, sat upon his space on the bench across Dmitri. Even the gestures of the driver could be patterned in a constant repetition, and perhaps, most intriguing of all, as soon as he began to count the movements of the truck driver, he realized the curves of the road were repeating themselves, for as far as he could remind, the road shouldn't be as uniform as it currently became, plus the overall direction of course was bent to the northeast, whereas the road should have a northwest direction. With such details in mind, Dmitri pondered on how to approach one of such soldiers behaving in such suspicious manner, until he finally spoke to the praying soldier.
"Excuse me brother, but what time is it?"
The soldier did not even blink, standing as static as before, like if Dmitri has never said anything, and none of the nearby soldiers or their captain reacted in anyway, except for the sleeping man who bent his back leftwards as a probable attempt to stay farther from the source of the sound disturbing his dreams. Thus now it was obvious that something was really wrong, and Dmitri thought:
No, not puppets, then what could be happening? These men, they are all acting like if they were vegetating rather than conscious. Have we been betrayed?
Perhaps checking closely one of these catatonic soldiers could bring better results, and while it seemed risky, the machine gunner was probably the easiest to approach and examine from all of them. His firm grip over the gun seemed to be as constant as if he was a machine, challenging all logic regarding human limits, and he never adjusted his night vision goggles. which were still turned on. The minor sensation of being watched increased slightly as Dmitri moved very close to the man and stared at his goggles. Perhaps they could be important for clues, no matter how illogical a plain technological device seemed for finding answers.
Thus he cautiously moved both arms towards the goggles, fearing that at any moment he could be surprised and killed, pondering on why the events were now seemingly moving from phenomena of pure evil to phenomena of sheer madness, for perhaps there were more players in such game, using men as pawns against the Lord. As he began to slow pull the goggles, stretching the rubber band, a new sensation came: a putrid smell which assaulted his nostrils, emanating from the man. Thus he instinctively removed the goggles from the man, to witness another horror. The man, although clearly breathing, had both eyes plucked, and as soon as the void eyesockets surrounded by a disgusting, rotting, pus-filled flesh of much of his face close to them appeared, maggots began to wriggle from inside the sockets, although even worse was the feeling of how such was a body forcefully separated from its soul while still alive. For there was a disturbingly cold lack of the love, hope and perhaps fanatical flame that Dmitri could sense in most men, something not as noticeable as the immediate will to throw up that came to him, but he managed to hold. However, more critical was how the maggots were simply moving outside their host, the wriggling sounds reminded him of the horrors from failed mission in Yakutsk, for they were too intense for the handful of worms that could reside in someone's empty eye sockets.
Immediately, Dmitri reached for the canteen of holy water in his pack, now among the most easy items to access, at the expense of having less ready magazines for reloading his rifle quickly, and uncorked it, throwing some of the water against each of the eerie, soulless sockets of such breathing corpse. The hissing sound, typical of demons tormented by a holy symbol, was then heard, as a light brownish goo began to wilt from the sockets, exuding the worst stench Dmitri has ever felt.
This time he could no longer resist, and thus Dmitri threw up over the endless road, still listening to the gurgling sounds of the goo. As he finished, he looked back at the truck to see as the sleeping soldier covered his nose with both hands, but still refused to awaken. Likewise, strangely, there was no stench of putrefaction in the night vision goggles, and the as the wilting of a fleshly goo stopped, the macabre body still breathed, and held the machine gun as firmly as before. Realizing there was nothing more to see from the body, his intuition told him to look through the goggles, to which he initially tried to refuse, considering what was wearing them. However, his urge to discover what happened was greater, and it was better to try everything possible. Thus, he moved the goggles towards his eyes, and pulled its rubber band to the back of his head, adjusting its intensity level. As the green flash faded to a more visible brightness, he then witnessed something he did not expect, replacing the visage of the infinite, dark jungle scrolling ahead. The very barracks he has been tended at were ahead, but now... only scorches and flames remained of a razed military encampment, and one of the most horrid visages he has ever seen. Hundreds of of mutilated, and flayed corpses, impaled at wooden stakes or crucified in a blasphemy to the Lord, some even with clear signs of being raped either after or before their deaths, from both genders, wearing grey rags which once were their uniforms, and their eyes plucked out and faces still carrying the expressions of horrible suffering and despair they wore in their last moments. Such corpses were being desecrated by vultures and carrion eaters, and amidst them, a massive set of pikes with heads stuck above them.
As he saw such images with the night vision goggles, Dmitri was torn between the horrors and brutality he has witnessed, and an increasing, desperate fear for the doubt on what could have been the fate of Ekaterina. Trying to swallow his despair, he then tried to force upon his mind a possibility which was the most likely, to belief it was the only possibility rather than one of many, as he putted away the goggles to return to the visage of the moving convoy which was more maddening than terrifying.
This is all a set, a fraud made by the father of lies! This is all a lie! I will not listen to the lies of the enemy, Lord. Thus I humbly ask: give me enlightenment, and I shall, as I always had, be your hand into fighting against the sinners and evils of this world.
"Your god is like all these men around. Don't you realize?" a male, normal and human voice then said from behind, in a perfectly fluent Russian. Dmitri immediately turned back, as he saw the once sleeping soldier awaken, standing in the middle of the truck. He would not give ears to demons, and thus quickly said:
"Begone foul spirit! I will not listen to your blasphemies against the Lord!"
"And you have been conditioned well. How surprising. Very well, I was going to ask for your help to find a way out of this... unexplainable loop of time, or, as the razor dictates, collective insanity we don't belong to. But I guess I will have to find a way out on my own, as you clearly think I am a demon. " the soldier exclaimed with a mildly sarcastic tone, clearly ignoring the accusations Dmitri threw.
He realized how the sensation of being watched continued, but the presence wasn't the man, but something he couldn't see. Perhaps such man was not a demon, but better safe than sorry, and it could all be part of an elaborate trap. However, his curiousity was a dangerous aspect, and, risking everything, Dmitri gave ears to the man:
"Are you feeling all right?"
"Except for a paranoid crisis that makes me feel like there is something watching me besides you, yes. Nevermind though. It is just... I suppose anyone would freak out from seeing this."
"It is not a paranoid crisis, it is a demon, or perhaps more." Dmitri exclaimed, trying to push his believes to the man, even though his rational side realized they would probably be met with deaf ears.
"Look. I know it is easier to blame the terrible flaws of humanity on supernatural entities, but there are no demons or devils... what happens, it is just the culmination of evolution breeding behaviors which aren't as humane as they were appropriate for survival when they first appeared. Every 'evil' that happened is for their human perpetrators to be blamed, and nothing else" the man replied in an unmistakably scientific way, which reminded Dmitri of something, as he pondered on what to say back.
"You are a spy for a foreign nation, aren't you? Let me guess..."
"You could say so, except I have no nation. I don't believe people should band together in such way... or obey governments in the first place. I suppose you know politicians cannot be trusted. One millionaire among those you call "satanists" adding key individuals to his paycheck... and you know what happened." The man then replied, smiling in a mysterious way.
"Anarchists, I pity you, for you refuse both damnation, as you would never bow to the Antichrist, and salvation, as you refuse to accept the Holy Ghost and the Lord in your hearts." Dmitri then replied, as he realized what was happening with such man.
"Funny, I doubt you would believe me if I said I am not a spy at all, just someone curious enough from the agnostic minority to want to investigate this conflict in loco. Perhaps not as funny as how the fact Prazinia has a government contradicts your very belief the devil controls the structures of power and statehood in this world." the man replied, cockling his rifle as a way to waste fractions of time.
"Come, tell the truth, why does it matter now? Don't you see? How does your so logical and flawless science explain this? Will you insist we are either dreaming or having an outbreak of collective insanity? Why do you close your eyes to the obvious?" Dmitri then exclaimed in the passionate way religious people would.
"All right... you win," the false soldier replied back, letting a deep sigh come before continuing, "I am Peter Damiesk, freelance journalist from Port Moresby, although I rarely stay there. I admit this madness is shattering my skepticism and that there is no way in hell science could explain all of this reasonably. This is why I used a fake uniform and got in as a stowaway, other than the fact perhaps I'm a bit insane, because I am looking for answers for all these bizarre phenomena," he replied back, "all these bizarre phenomena," he repeated, together with the same gestures he made the last time he spoke it. Whatever has struck against the soldiers was now affecting this man as well.
"All these bizarre phenomena." the man said over and over, in a maddening way, as Dmitri finally came to his carefulness. Perhaps such man was only another ploy from the enemy, but now the choices were limited. Among the cacophonic repetition, Dmitri's thoughts formed.
I must jump from this cursed convoy. I must risk it, there is no other choice.
It was then that the effect passed somehow, as the man resumed to act normally for the alleviation of Dmitri, continuing his thoughts:
"And you see, there is a philosophical school called solipsism which claims beliefs can literally shape reality, I never gave much credibility to the idea, but considering what happened, and what I have done."
"What have you done Damiesk?" Dmitri asked, clearly nervous as he felt the answer wouldn't be pleasurable.
"You see, I believe I don't have an immortal soul, therefore I don't have one. That has to do with solipsism, and I suppose... now it's too late for me to change of idea, at least I will not meet oblivion before getting to the end of this."
Dmitri knew the man was wrong. He could feel the difference between a body which was still alive, but devoid of soul, and one which had a soul, specially after his recent experiences in the truck. And that man definitively had a soul, even if he refused to acknowledge his own soul. Dmitri was very afraid, like if his gut told him this man has done something terribly wrong.
"Now... there was that man, you see. He was a bit insane and fanatical, just like you but except he worshiped the "other side". He offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. After all, if someone wants to buy something he thinks I have but I don't really have, why should I refuse feeding on such person's delusions. Yes, I sold the soul I don't have to this man. Don't worry though, he was a total lunatic, of the type who believes and auras and all babble anyone playing the mystic ushers."
"Damiesk! You have... you have a soul Damiesk! Why haven't you questioned the lies the demons have inculcated you with? They have tricked you into selling the only thing they cannot harm without your consent! Look at this... this corpse! This disgusting corpse has no soul, but still breathes, unlike you. Don't tell me you signed it with your own blood. Don't." Dmitri, clearly nervous, said, as he realized such man next to him could be doomed, and he could be in a situation where he was impotent to save him.
"Blood? I didn't buy that man gibberish. But he was so persistent I had to draw some blood from leeches to sign the document... now if I remember, I think I heard the man screaming when I left... and it seemed more like pain than madness. I just got out of that place too quick to listen. In the end, the millions I was promised never came. Guess I shouldn't listen to raving lunatics."
"Then you have been given a chance by the Lord without even knowing it, Peter. Now, did you just pass out? Because you began repeating the same sentence over and over for sometime." Dmitri asked, clearly alleviated that the man has not used his own blood, and thus the pact was never truly made. His soul could yet find redemption.
"Damn, do you really mean it? I am no bullshit physics theorist, but I believe we are in some sort of anomaly of time where the a few seconds are repeating over and over, and we are holding on pure solipsism. Wait... we should get out of these trucks now! Or our consciousnesses will cease to exist." Peter said hurriedly as he lifted the rod holding the truck back doors in place. As they opened, swinging back and forth due to the continual movement of the vehicle. Dmitri then reminded of the goggles and handled them to Peter, explaining:
"Look at what these goggles will show you quickly, before we leave."
Nodding, the man wore the goggles, and his expression clearly turned into one of horror as he witnessed the brutal raze of the military camp, reviewing scenes that would make even the Nanjing massacre seem pale in comparison, taking a few seconds to regain his composure, as he putted away the goggles and handled them back to Dmitri, explaining:
"If this is an anomaly of time, I am afraid that might be what happened in reality."
"No! It cannot be! But wait... if we are trapped in time... does it mean there is a demon trapped in time as well?" Dmitri asked, as he realized the consequences should such "anomaly" be broken.
"If you believe they exist, I suppose yes. Also, I said that, that massacre might be what happened, and not that it is definitively what happened."
"Peter, if we leave this anomaly, a demon will escape back... and perhaps even manifest physically. We must be ready to sacrifice ourselves now by staying, or many could die."
"Oh... come on!" Peter answered, sighing, "if you have a soul, your soul will be trapped as well. If innocents are killed, their souls will go to heaven. I don't mind staying, truth be told, as I don't believe in afterlife and it's going to happen sooner or later, but you. Why stay? And if you believe in them, do you think trapping one demon will solve the problems of the entire world? You could probably do more alive than dead, even with a demon as the trade-off. Also, these entities, should they exist, are unlikely to manifest physically, or we would have cohesive reports of such manifestations in history."
"When will you ever make an argument that doesn't involve a scientific field? Very well though, you are correct in saying that one of the enemies won't make much of a different in the wars of spirit and flesh. I pray that the goggle isn't the present though, but we can't stay, like you said. You first, and may the Lord bless you, for he watches and cares even if you don't believe in Him."
"Very well, but I forgot to ask your name, just in case."
"My name is Dmitri, now go!"
And thus Peter jumped from the truck, and as he left the vehicle, he simply vanished, like if entering inside a gateway to another reality. Now it was his time, to face whatever happened, and understand what was at stake. Cockling his rifle, which Dmitri had readied should the other side prove hostile, he jumped from the truck in movement, ignoring the frightening fact the other truck was very close and would crash against his body in normal circumstances.
Thus he left such conundrum of time, to return to a present which was perhaps worse than being stuck forever in an never-ending deployment. The man whose soul was torn away and the horrible scenes from the Inquisition's camp massacre could be omens of what lied ahead.
Once to Every Man and Nation (http://beemp3.com/download.php?file=1389568&song=Once+To+Every+Man+And+Nation)
As his boots touched the ground, Dmitri was dazzled by the immediate change in his perception of reality, with the darkness still unchanged, but his confusion would be broken by an immediate, nervous shout denoting urgency and by the loud and close whirling of blades of what could only be an helicopter:
"Down here brother!"
His ears immediately tracked the shout to his left, and thus Dmitri immediately turned to such direction, his mind realizing the danger eventually, but initially only guided by trust in his brothers, trust that it wasn't an enemy tricking him, as he sprinted away from the road, while the infernal muzzle sounds of minigun began, and a hailstorm of bullets and rockets carpeted the road as he leaped inside a darkened crevice among the unpaved ground next to it, something that could serve as a trench in a pinch, while the chopper strafed through the road, bringing the only source of illumination that could be spotted.
Still muddled by the sudden shift of events, and with no sign of Peter anywhere, Dmitri felt like if a conventional battle was a strange and unfamiliar event for him, after so many weeks facing the immaterial darkness, and a part of him was glad they were apparently facing human soldiers for a change. All he could do was to, touching the shoulder of the grey-dressed man next to him, who customarily wore a night vision goggles, ask, or more exactly shout, competing with the constant sounds of helicopters, clearly denoting the situation wasn't very favorable:
"Brother! What is the situation here?"
"Our liberation of Sansapor has taken a major setback! The heathens are now using their bombers, helicopters and armored devils against our holy soldiers, while traitors sabotaged most of our air defenses," the soldier shouted as a crescendo of fanaticism began to happen in his timbre, "but we have a great chance to give our humble Church back to the believers and honor our promise to the Lord. Half of Sansapor has been free of the puppets and heathens, my unit was sent for reinforcements but my brothers have come to the kingdom of heaven now, I am the only survivor, but I will not give up!" he shouted with an extreme fervor, his eyes burning like the candles of a holy mass, as he pointed to the north and finished:
"Our church will protect us. Most of the soldiers the heathens manipulate are misguided and will refuse to desecrate a sacred place, it is our best chance to take the Church of Sansapor, but they have focused most of their defenses in it, lying that we intend to desecrate it. I have been told there are two T-95s at each crossing of the Church square, with every nearby building littered by mortars and snipers, and heavy helicopter and light bomber patrols on the nearing skies. But we will succeed, for they are clearly desperate..."
This soldier was not an uncommon occurrence, some of the members of the Inquisition seemed at times to be better fit as preachers than as soldiers, and before Dmitri could even get a chance to speak, the fanatical monologue proceeded, as he gestured the best he could under cover, with his words interrupted by the sounds of gunfire and explosions that seemed to come from everywhere, but still reverberating much stronger, like if there was a greater force making his voice stand amidst the unholy night.
"as if we take the Church square, we will defeat them! The church is sacred ground, and will recognized between the true defenders of faith and the masters of lies... lying that if we stepped on such holy ground, the crosses would weep blood and windows be broken, liars... for they would provoke it, rather than us. If they see it... they will stand to our side then, thus we must go with discretion first, violence second."
Nodding and trying to gulp his tiredness of hearing his voice as a constant, Dmitri pointed to the skies and asked, already expecting an answer that wouldn't make him happy at all:
"Do we have any air support?"
"We have God on our side, that is all we need," the soldier replied back to him with utmost faith, as he continued, "I needed someone to cover me, I have listened to His message, for He has chosen us today to take the first step to turn the tides in this Holy War, Not even the explosions of napalm have silenced the will of the Lord, for His will is far above the will of the heathens."
"Napalm?" Dmitri then indulged, clearly showing hesitation.
"Pagan flames! Now get down!" the soldier shouted back as both downed as deep as possible into the crevice while a strafe of bullets came very close to them, lifting gravel and dust above while s both prayed, ignoring the noise and the particles of dust filling their nostrils, for faith was their only shield. Dmitri's heart was pounding heavily, as death again was approaching, unless something was done. Unlike the innocent soldier, Dmitri knew God would protect their souls, but not their bodies, however, considering the tension and paranoia that would build up as much of their mobile and static air defenses were sabotaged, it was better to not question the beliefs of the young soldier, who continued to say too much while time was running short.
"They might have the air... they might bear over the light, but we have blessed flames and speed! We have burned the spawns of Satan among them, banishing demons from our world for thousands of years, and we have slowly taken down the true heathens behind this except for one: the demon puppeteer of the captain of Sansapor unholy defenses: Yuri Imaschev, a shell, a disguise for evil, and nothing more. He must die by the holy flames, or we will have a defeat in the war of spirit even if we have a victory in the war of flesh. We will..."
"Silence brother! We must act now, not speak of future acts!" Dmitri finally shouted, a shout that could mean his very survival, as the young soldier suddenly turned to a disciplined silence, and looked at him, recognizing at last Dmitri had more experience, and expressing clearly he wanted to hear more.
"Is there any Khornet missile or RPG around?" Dmitri asked first, for such was an important question, a question made while he heard the approaching sound of an helicopter preparing to strafe them once more.
"There is none, but the Lord shall provide..."
"For the war of Spirit! Haven't you learned your lessons brother? The Lord doesn't intervene with fate or the laws of nature He created to protect his flock, in this world, we are on our own, or otherwise, why would He give us free will? Come with me and cover me then, Dmitri said, sighing as he realized there would be no other chance, and dying in a hole wasn't something he wished to, even if he was going to Heaven after it. Immediately he wore the same night vision goggles he took from a soulless soldier, and scanned his surroundings, seeing the jungle through his left as it gradually became denser.
"Move!" he shouted as he began to sprint towards the cover of trees, to which the young soldier promptly answered, and both ran, hearing the approaching sound of the helicopter. Too late perhaps, as while running as fast as possible, Dmitri began to hear the rampaging muzzle of two miniguns, and the noise of dust and pebbles flying ever close. Immediately he began to take a diagonal route, and leaped from the ground, yanking the young soldier with him through his arm, as both threw their weight on the floor, and he began to fill the dust coming to his pants while bullets flew very close to his feet. However, the danger wasn't over yet.
"Death to the heathens!" the young soldier shouted simultaneously while he, like a thunder, pulled his AN-94 with night sight up and after a brief second aiming, began to fire two-round bursts towards the soldiers sitting on the side of the helicopter facing him and Dmitri, which even from the distance, obviously carried machineguns, not even caring to run for cover as he focused entirely on taking them down for the cause of True Christianity more than about his own survival. With the accuracy any trained Inquisition knight was expected to have, he took the first down, and didn't waver while the second began to fire hurriedly his machinegun at his direction, Not even wincing as the glancing shots began to disturb the ground, and quickly finished the other soldier. Not satisfied, he switched to full auto and began to fire bursts against the helicopter, as it immediately began to gain altitude to escape from the effective range of his rifle. He only stopped as he heard the clicking sound of his magazine emptied, when Dmitri touched his soldier and said:
"Now I understand how much we need more men like you to win in the war of flesh. Did you even think about the consequences of the war of spirit while you were shooting at those men? Did you even consider they could only be misguided?"
"Brother, no matter whether they served the enemy by malice or ignorance, if we lose the war of flesh, we will damn thousands of misguided ones. They are shooting against soldiers of the Lord, and it does not lie to us the task of taking judgment upon them. And even if they were misguided innocents, you know death is not the end brother." the soldier explained back, with a lucidity that his fanatic statements once overshadowed.
Such man was ready to take lives for their cause, not thinking, not wavering. Maybe there were proper times to show mercy and give second chances, but now certainly couldn't be one of them. Earth and Hell has always been the same place for the Prazinians, and to be forgiving in Hell was to let evil prosper and spread. The very Inquisition was founded on such tenet that Earth is Hell, a Hell through which denizens aimed for Heaven, a Hell through which holy served to fight against its ever-lasting, corrupting evil. The Prazinians had no doubts on who truly ruled the world, and fighting against such rule was as daunting of a task as for two soldiers without any air or artillery support to get inside a church in a square crawled with close air support, soldiers, machinegun nests, sandbags, tanks and heavy artillery. They all had night vision, making of the idea of hiding under the shadows futile.
Dmitri knew it would be needed more than two people to take such square and get inside the heavily defended church, and as soon as they hid through the woods, taking irregular routes to let their enemies lose track of them, they continued to walk, using the faint moonlight as their only guide towards the city of Sansapor. Everything seemed safe, and soon only the distant sounds of animals could be heard as anymore than distant, muffled sounds of a battle that raged on, but it was still better to be safe, and thus Dmitri spoke in a near whisper to the young knight:
"How far should we be from Sansapor?"
"Eight kilometers." the soldier whispered back, as they continued their long way, not aware of how much the Inquisition has already lost in armored cars and lives due to the unexpected enemy decision to deploy air support with no regards for collateral damage, of the way their forces were being pinned down, and struggling hardly to avoid losing their ground in the city areas they had currently under their control. Dmitri however was pondering on one idea, as he remembered hearing about Sansapor having larger sewers than what is usual in most cities of the world, large enough for people to move through them. Perhaps, for a faint luck, there could be a manhole inside the church, leading to its cellar, for once Sansapor was sieged by the pagan natives, and not so widely known underground passages were commonly built. However, there was a certain thing on his mind, something telling him that facing all those soldiers may be more pleasant than facing what the underground sewers, with its extensive network, may hide under its shadows. Maybe the young knight knew, for enthusiastic brothers tended to keep attention to every detail they were taught.
"Brother, I know a bit of the history of Sansapor, of the heathens rebellion and of the safe passages for the faithful. It would be a boon to exist a passageway from the church leading straight to the city sewers."
"No Brother! I'd rather take my chances against enemies we can predict! Don't you remember the tales? Why do you think so many exorcists have gone through the sewers years ago before they were cleared for our laborious men? When the old heathens saw the way through which they were defeated, they summoned legions of devils to conjure a curse: the death of any faithful coming to the passageway towards the Church through horrors best left untold. And now... I wouldn't be surprised if demons of flesh and bones lurk into such putrid underground."
"I thought the Inquisition was trained to fight exactly against such threats rather than mundane enemies," Dmitri interjected as he grimmaced, "or are you as afraid of facing the seeds of evil as you are willing to fight to death against human fiends?"
"I am not afraid! But I am not an exorcist," the soldier explained, demonstrating unease, "we would stand no chance at all against what dwells bellow the ground."
"I am Dmitri Yatonosci! I have faced far worse situations than haunted sewers! You will survive brother, but if we go through ground we will die!" he then said, letting a sigh of frustration as he realized that what such man had in courage to fight men he had in cowardice to face evil spirits and haunts. To choose a psychological battle over a hopeless physical battle was the only viable choice, and perhaps now the man would change his mind.
"Dmitri? Are you the man who survived the Yakutsk Corruption and who saved the soul of a former heathen?""
"Yes... now that is irrelevant, what matters is that we have no chances of surviving through the ground. The Lord shall not protect us from bullets, brother, but he shall protect us from demonic curses and spirits, for they are not in accordance to the laws of the nature He created."
"I see... I have faith, brother Dmitri, I won't falter, I promise." the soldier replied back, still clearly showing signs of unease. He sometimes stared at their surroundings, and constantly looked at his back, for even though there was nothing following them, Dmitri could also feel that there was something, however his faith allowed him to ignore the haunt of demons, and to focus on the mission ahead. The travel would be tense, specially for the young knight, who was getting on the edge. Every shadow, every sound of the jungle tingled him into full alertness, and the very fact nothing happened only served to further augment his fear.
Eventually, the sounds of artillery were no longer distant background noses, but coming very close. Such were the best orientations both had to approach the city, and soon the sounds of assault rifles and machineguns could be heard as well by both. Sansapor was finally at hand, but the knight did not reduce his tenseness, despite the fact the sensation of being followed by something they couldn't hear or see vanished, realizing where he would have to follow Dmitri through. The infamous sewers of Sansapor, claimed by some to even have become the domain of Beelzebub, and that every insect crawling inside such sewers was a demon in disguise. Of course much of it was pure superstition, but after seeing all he has seen, Dmitri couldn't help to wonder whether everything was true, or at his best hope, an exaggeration of a true supernatural evil happening down there.
The street on the outskirts of the city was expectingly dead, lit only by the lampposts, those which were not splintered remains next to craters of artillery shells that once pounded the place in the early stages of the Inquisition assault. A warm wind swept papers through the deserted area, and the houses, usually two-store white block apartments, had all their doors and windows boarded up, although most of them had their lights on, clearly indicating people lived inside. There was a house with multiple planks covering a hole into its rooftop, and with visibly no intact windows behind the boards. A strong aura of fear emanated, and the sounds of helicopters and jet engines could still be heard from not so distant places. Amidst the crossing of such street close to the city outskirts lied a possible entryway, one of the manholes of the city, seemingly nailed to the ground by a large crust of fungus like if it hasn't been opened for decades, perhaps exactly due to a superstition involving that specific manhole in that specific access of the sewers, and as he noticed it, the young knight became terrified. At the exact moment, one of the many sounds of helicopter blades rotating entered into a crescendo
"They are coming! They must know we are here! We are going down the sewers or we are going down Sheol now!" Dmitri said loudly, but not shouting as he approached the manhole, setting his rifle to automatic fire along the way. The knight nodded, not hiding his fear, as he followed Dmitri.
His hands grabbed the handle of the manhole, as he began to force it out. It was truly bolted on the ground, due to what really went as years without use, years where even the most faithful feared to explore what lied down there. Dmitri now had no other choice besides certain death, but now circumstances were tricking him again. He couldn't yank the grate out in time, and the noise of the helicopter, like the clopping of a Hell knight, was approaching every second. He had to make a decision soon, and thus he immediately said:
"Brother, I need you to distract and take down as many of these heathens as possible! Quick!"
A soldier with a Type III body armor and an An-94 assault rifle against an helicopter wouldn't be fair. However there was no other option. And again the knight, using his ears only, aimed to what was the direction the helicopter was coming through, to watch whether it would or not spot them, first, and if necessary, fire against it after buying enough time to have it close enough.
The rotors were coming closer and closer, and soon they became visible to the knight, while Dmitri continued struggle to force the sewer grate open, trusting his life entirely on the young soldier. His nerves were getting on as he realized such helicopter was a Kamov Ka-52 rather than a mere armed transport helicopter, and he then took cover behind a concrete pillar built in one of the blocks across the horizon the chopper was coming from. With his scope steady, and hiding the best he could, he acquired visual contact onto the pilot, his target, with his rifle switched again to burst fire, as it approached two blocks aways, still unaware of their presence. The knight simply awaited for it, hoping it would make a turn to patrol elsewhere once it came to the last crossing besides theirs. It didn't, and then, the knight kept his contact over the target, awaiting for it to come close, while Dmitri remained distracted by his attempt of lifting the grate, faithful on the competence of the young soldier, perhaps a bit too much.
Making a quick mental prayer, the knight then gave up his element of surprise, pressing the trigger of his rifle and letting the enemy know his position from its muzzle. The canopy of the helicopter immediately became shattered, but it still held both bullets, and now he had at best one more shot before having to run. And thus, quickly adjusting from the recoil, he shot again, trying to hit the canopy at the same weakened point. An helicopter unable to stand small arms fire wouldn't be an attack helicopter, and thus it was futile again. The knight ran as fast as he could to the other corner of the street, hearing the hissing of rocket launchers and the muzzle of autocannons approaching while he sprinted. Bullets and fire wrecked through the building, and with no regards the helicopter strafed over the building, firing against the civilians inside with both guns and napalm, as screams of despair and fear could be heard by the knight, amidst his sight of the flames and smoke consuming it, as the knight realized that no holy man could be inside such chopper. It was coming, and he panted, after such a run, but couldn't stop, and looked quickly for another point of advantage... unfortunately another civilian building. With no choice he hid again into an intact pillar, awaiting for the helicopter to seek its prey as he scanned the dark sky with his scope. The blades again appeared, and holding his tension, the knight prepared to give another shot, realizing how they were playing with him... it was clear why they were doing it, to attempt getting him ridden enough with guilt to waver, to attempt blaming him for their unholiness and inhumanity.
Meanwhile, Dmitri temporarily has given up opening the grate for a while, as out of a coincidence, he found what could only be something the Lord prepared for him. A plain camcorder, a sight used by both instruments of truth and lie, by both those who sought to show the truth, and by the false prophets and Antichrist heathens of the worldly mass media... and now, right into his eyes, their enemies made an atrocity, strafing and bombing a civilian apartment unnecessarily, an atrocity that was now being registered on such camera, as he aimed it at the massacre with the same accuracy his brother aimed his rifle against the same, with the difference the weapon at Dmitri's hand was infinitely more powerful. Recording the audio of the children cries, of the despairs, of the scream of innocents burning by the hands of fiends. He would usually feel abhorred for seeing it, but perhaps it was meant to happen, as the only way to truly allow the people of Prazinia to know the truth. The symbol of the official fallen government forces was very visible on the recording, the beginning of what could truly turn the tide of such conflict: Truth, the greatest of all weapons, the enemy of the heathens and tyrants, and their greatest ally. Nothing could have more impact, more strength, than the way truth sets people free, free from lies, tyranny and deceit, free from their very vices. Free from eternal death.
However, the prince of lies wouldn't let such act go unnoticed, and Dmitri knew they would do the possible to hide the happening, or to try putting the blame on the Inquisition for it. It was one thing less to worry though, that perhaps by a miracle or sheer luck, the glass of the Kamov simply fell to the volume of bullets, as its demonic pilot was killed, and it fell from the heavens to earth, banished and burning. For now, they were safe again.
Immediately, the young knight moved to Dmitri's position, immediately noticing as he took and old videotape from a camera and handled it to him, for Dmitri knew the position of allied forces wasn't too far, and he couldn't dismiss his mission now to deliver such figment of truth to them, such piece which would finally turn most of the Prazinians to their holy side.
"Yes Dmitri? I see you not only opened the grate, but also recorded what that fiend did, although I regret we can do nothing to help those poor souls, may God grant them Heaven. Want me to bring this tape to our brothers?"
"Wait a minute," Dmitri replied, as he looked at the now open manhole, "I never managed to get it open." as he immediately took a flashlight from his backpack and illuminated the way down. There was nothing out of place there, neither there were marks on the grate that would indicate someone or something opened it.
"Our enemies are... they are challenging us, daring for us to enter, openly inviting us to their den." the knight then deducted, but strangely, there was no perceivable horror anywhere. No sensation typical of demonic presences, and Dmitri could swear he never felt anything at all while he recorded the atrocity.
"What would you think about an enemy which we cannot even sense?" Dmitri then asked.
"I remember Sun Tzu's work. He claimed that the pinnacle of military deployment achieves the formless, for it is formless, no spies can understand it nor the wise make plans against it..." and then immediately concluded, "we will not have any way to predict what we will face once we get there. And... our enemies might have perfect spies... now if demons can communicate with their fleshly minions, this mean they know what you just did."
"Then we have no choice, climb down now, after me!" Dmitri immediately shouted as he began to climb the ladder through the darkened sewers, taking his flashlight, still doused on a cloth wet with holy water, into his shoulder. The knight came afterwards, carrying the tape of truth inside his backpack and suppressing his fear as he closed the manhole to reduce the chances of shrapnel going down. They walked a few steps through the darkened sewers, totally alert at the nothingness, so strange that not even the predictable rats insects could be found anywhere, making of it a disturbingly silent place and then simply stopped and braced themselves.
Above them, all of a sudden the a crust of fungus began to quickly form near the manhole grate in a completely unnatural manner, again nearly bolting it to the street floor, sealing such as a viable passageway out of the sewers. Ten seconds after they went down, jet engines roared on the skies above, as thermobaric and napalm bombs razed the entire block, giving closure to the atrocity started by the downed helicopter pilot. A terror bombing, in attempt to put the Inquisition forces across the city into desperation, and to an extent, it would really manage to do so.
It was everything or nothing for most of the Inquisition leaders. They could not let their soldiers crawling under cover while demons razed their city block by block, showing their strength and seeking to eventually exterminate them. They would not die like rats... but like holy warriors in their struggle. While Dmitri was posed to fight again the horrors of the war of the spirit, the war of flesh above was to reach its climax... the taking of the Church of Sansapar of its surrounding square, no matter the costs, was the last chance for the Inquisition, both at such front, and perhaps for all the fronts they currently fought on.
Slowly, divisions sneaked through the night, for the closest of all Inquisition controlled areas to it was only two blocks away from the Church Square... yet a huge price would have to be paid for such two hundred meters of advance, a message writ in the blood of martyrs, a desperate assault, with their greatest weapon still out of reach... for if such video Dmitri recorded was broadcasted, the sheer majority of "enemy" soldiers would switch sides to support them... provided whatever dwelt under the sewers wouldn't take care of the most powerful weapons against them before it could reach the hands of the Inquisition.
A critical moment of such conflict was about to happen, fought through both blood and faith. The Battle of Sansapor, a brutal example of urban warfare fought entirely during twenty-four hours long nights, where both unholy flames of napalm and holy blessed flames of IJ-7 flamethrowers, artillery and guns clashed, with much greater horrors beneath, of which many chapters were already writ with the blood of many holy and unholy in a conflict that already lasted for weeks and took the lives of fifty thousand soldiers, would be forever engraved into the History of Prazinia, being perhaps as important to it as Stalingrad was to the heathens of the Soviet Union as the other satanic puppet invaded them. It was yet to be seen whether its name would be sung upon glories by choirs of faithful or whispered in satanic rituals.
Very few sewers across the world truly house space for men to dwell inside, and when they do, most of such space will never allow for two men to form a line, but to stay in a row, behind each other, in such extremely cramped, claustrophobic environment, which would make for a very unpleasant situation, should normal sewers of the real world offer any danger besides the risk of tipping on the sludge and falling down, for the man following behind would have no way to help the other ahead, should something happen with him.
But those were not normal sewers, and as his boots stepped on the unnaturally clean, cold floor, and as his flashlight, wrapped into a cloth anointed with holy water, enlightened the way ahead, Dmitri knew that something was completely wrong. Even more unsettling than the occasional crushing of cockroaches under the boots of those who dwelt underground and than the putrid smell of all possible forms of filth was the fact such sewers were strangely clear of any life. It was true that such specific part of the sewers has long served only for draining rainwater, but even then, it has served to house organic sludge for enough time to maintain its own ecosystem of scavengers, and at least the stench would remain for times to come, should it no longer have resources to sustain the life of vermin. Instead, its walls were perfectly clean, with not even minor remains of sludge that once such sewers housed. Worse, darkness and shadows were far more prevalent than light, and there was much to walk through such darkness.
The only sounds, besides the echoes of their cautious steps, were those Dmitri heard of a man breathing heavily behind him, panting not of tiredness, but of fear of what could come. As the flashlight clearly ended pointing into the wall dozens meters ahead rather than vanishing to the endless corridor, for the passageway ahead bended to the right, and what lied beyond its walls ahead, was completely unknown. The thoughts of the man about that fact were clearly disturbing him, as Dmitri spoke in a hushed voice:
"Brother, now we cannot turn back, I can cover you while you pray to the Lord to give you strength. if you wish," Dmitri raised his rifle towards the wall ahead of them, although in his mind he knew that there was no way he could cover the way behind them, where darkness reigned absolute.
"But you cannot cover my back," the young man then hushed in exchange, his voice demonstrating hesitation and fear, "if it or they come through there, everything will be lost."
"We are not alone," Dmitri touched the shoulder of the man, holding the holy cross hanging from his neck with his other hand, "even in the bowels of earth, God protects us from evil, but we cannot ever hesitate in our faith, because that is what our enemies seek. Do not waver brother! Do not let them dominate your heart with fear."
A long sigh then came from the knight, before he finally gathered himself to speak, ignoring the eerie environment they had to face for a moment, as his thoughts placed him closer to the kingdom of Heaven, and thus Dmitri stood vigilant, observing the way ahead, and also with complete faith that the Lord would watch their back. The young soldier slowly knelt over the cold concrete floor, and closed his eyes, holding a cross between his hands, as he began to pray, whispering, feeling as the darkness became distant, as the link with God was becoming stronger at the moment.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. he guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me ; your rod and staff they comfort me
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows
Surely goodnes and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The wall remained as static as before, no flickering of shadows possibly indicating horrors yet to come, nor the unsettling feeling of demonic presences Dmitri grew used to fend through his faith. In many ways, the complete lack of any signs that something was about to happen was far more frightening than to witness the signs themselves, for they played with mind and will, and enticed the mistake of laxity, but Dmitri still remained as alert as hopeful, his heart prepared to face any challenge.
Ten minutes have passed, as the soldier behind Dmitri continued to pray, seemingly in touch with the Holy Ghost, with the Lord and His son, as he seemed oblivious to fear and despair for once since Dmitri met him. The same could not be said for the man, who was slowly letting the wrong urge of willing that his brother's player must end soon grow stronger. Ten minutes under constant watch, with the expectation something could emerge at any moment, weren't mere ten minutes, but during their passing, they gave the feeling of lasting forever. Both tiredness and nerves conspired against Dmitri's duty to protect his brother while he prayed, but a sense of discipline overrode basic instincts, and thus he remained in his sentry, trying to picture holy thoughts to strengthen his resolve as time passed.
Suffering so the man could find a stronger bond with Heaven, Dmitri eventually was already pondering on asking for him to stop praying, as the young knight was far too devout, and it was already possible to hear the sounds of an ever intense battle above them. While the young knight perhaps prayed too much, they were losing the war of flesh, and Dmitri began to ponder on the consequences of such delay that perhaps already took half an hour. The world could be so cynical the young man would be responsible for their utmost defeat, because he ironically decided to pray for God instead of fighting, and Dmitri was letting such thought circle through his head while he guarded the young man against the seemingly nothing. The shadows were suddenly playing tricks, forming amorphous shapes to his ever-weary eyes, and a burst of impatience growing on him.
"The Lord has enough man to speak to Him," Dmitri thought at the moment, as he remained uncertain on whether to interrupt or not his brother's prayer. The sounds of bombs falling also intensified below, and he remembered of the words one of his drill instructors once spoke, while thinking on the man who were unnecessarily dying above because of their delay. Men falling in battle as the enemy gained time. Timelessness, and he finally came to a so simple thought, so simple request at his mind, that he wondered why he haven't had it before:
"Lord, give me wisdom to make the right choice, so truth and love may prevail"
Suddenly, he dropped the flashlight over the ground with a brusque move, its beam turning around for a while as it rolled over the floor, until stopping behind brief moments after, as Dmitri moved to pick it up again. Strangely however, the cross the knight held was over the ground rather than in his hands while he continued to pray, with his eyes closed, and most important of all, the tape Dmitri entrusted the man with was smashed over the floor, totally beyond repair, as a powerful weapon against the enemy was seemingly countered.
Rapidly picking up a pocket bible, Dmitri realized everything while he slowly grabbed the cross on the floor with his right hand. With a quick move, while mentally prayed, he drove the holy symbol over the young knight's forehead, aware of what he was to face, something he never was trained to fight against.
A guttural scream suddenly echoed through the sewers as the forehead of the man burned, while his body fell, thumping over the ground, and with the Holy book, Dmitri prepared to face the trickster. It was becoming clear that even the smallest hesitation was enough to open one's body to demonic possession, and by demons so insidious that their presence couldn't even be sensed, and only the indirect results of their ploys discovered.
The screaming suddenly gave place to laughters, as eyelids opened to reveal entirely blank eyeballs, and a twisted smile came as the evil spirit persisted, in pain next to such intense faith, but refusing to give in, as in a guttural, hallowing voice the dark spirit mocked:
"I have made you a fool Dmitri! We will win this battle, thanks to you," the knight's hands tried to reach for Dmitri's neck, but he immediately drove away and threw blessed water over the victim, as further screams and laughters echoed through the sewers, but the demon didn't stop, "my master will be glad for your services," and a disturbing laughter, seemingly made between the coughing of blood and bile, finished.
"I won't listen to your words foul spirit!" Dmitri drove again the cross, anointed in holy water, in yet another attempt to rid the weak from such curse.
"We knew his weakness," a far more agonizing than mocking voice said, "and we know yourssss."
"Lord," Dmitri spoke, with his Bible open, "free this innocent from the touch of evil, for he is a man of faith, who belongs to Your kingdom, and thus, the will of the Lord shall be done, by His will, begone spirit!" and thus he dropped nearly half of his vial of holy water over the man, as the same sound of placing a hot coal over flesh could be heard, together with another combination of laughters, moans and screams"
The bible and the cross felt to the floor, as a heavy thump was heard. His mind became hazy as he could no longer breathe, his lungs closed shut by an inhuman strength constricting his neck, to kill him once for all. His body was giving up, his vision blurring, a desperate pain and urge for catching his breath blocked.
Forgive me Lord. Forgive me for all I have sinned. Dmitri knew he has failed in the war of flesh, and that he was dying. Yet he refused to give in, and a flame burned inside, urging him to fight to the end, Struggling against his weakened body and sense, he finally breathed. His desperate breath, accompanied by the sound of an equally desperate act, as the sound of a shot loudly banged through the sewers, and exhausted, he looked at the man ahead, who was probably no older than twenty years, a youthful and promising life ruined by his hand.
The pistol fell from his hand as his flashlight focused on the dead body, of the innocent he killed. An unmeasurable sense of guilty began to fulfill his mind. He brought the man to a path of damnation, and in the end, he was driven to kill him for his own life, rather than to let himself die. No longer the discipline worked, and despaired, he crawled into a corner of the wall, putting his hands over his eyes so he could not see his deeds. Suffering, guilt, despair and hatred moved through his feelings and thoughts, as he grieved for his sins.
"How can you trust a god who allows for his faithful to be possessed while he prayed?" a disturbingly familiar voice, strangely lacking any malice or hatred, questioned. Now a small part of a greater puzzle seemed to be revealed, as Dmitri at least realized who he was talking with, a few hours ago:
"Peter Damiesk," he said with a self-righteous tone, "by the will of the Lord, begone from this world, demon!"
A casual laughter then came::
"Your god doesn't care... it is so obvious, but you refuse to realize it," the dark one spoke without visible malice, "and the atheists are right, in their sheltered illusion, as after all, it is easier to believe there is no god than to accept you were created by a god you would consider evil."
"Away with your blasphemies!" the mockeries served to lead even to at last raise and face the demon. As the flashlight beam pointed over him, it was clear he was not the horned, disturbing beast of myth, but instead a handsome, elegant, well dressed and charismatic man who strangely echoed a sense of trust and serenity rather than of fear.
"How words are convenient. Your god calls those who question his absolute power blasphemers and send them to an abyss, while among your people, some called their political enemies traitors and fascists and sent them to death camps, both seeing the world in black and white."
"Go away demon! I will not listen to your words while you order man to be killed and manipulates men to die injustly.!"
"How can you be so sure I am the same entity possessing your deceased... brother?" the human-like being, who was clearly made of flesh and bones, asked, "They are, how should I say, other deluded beings... and if they exist, Dmitri, it is because your god created them. Do you think he would create demons if he wasn't like such demons? What type of god creates evil spirits? What kind of god creates flawed beings to blame them later and condemn the unworthy to oblivion? Look, I am not asking for your soul," he suddenly opened a strange precedent, "I am just asking for you to question the point behind all of this. To question the use of faith to override logic, and the possibility this suffering, death and darkness is the will of the god you pray for."
"Demon, you cannot fool me! I know what you want, and I am going through these sewers now, because the Lord will protect me and there is nothing you can do about it, because we will be victorious!" Dmitri exaltedly shouted, seemingly uninfluenced by the questions of the being, who he saw as nothing but another evil spirit trying to corrupt and destroy him..
"Very well, if you wish to keep with your illusions, while your, enemies, keep theirs, go ahead, I don't care. Why should I be a pawn in the games of a petty creator moving both white and dark pieces in a chessboard?"
"Stop lying demon!" Dmitri sighed as he moved ahead, aware the Lord was impeding the evil being from harming him, "admit your purpose is to halt me, I will not fall to your lies."
"So, do you think that you can either side with your god or against him?" the entity questioned, "you may not believe me, but I am a neutral party in this conflict. "
"A demon trying to betray Satan?" Dmitri then grumbled, seemingly unscared as the being wasn't as frightening as most of his kin, "Wouldn't expect none the less."
"Very well," the elegant, friendly "demon" sighed, "I see there is no point in helping you with this, and that you will be sacrificed anyway. Farewell Dmitri, and remember others of my kin aren't as diplomatic and level-headed, nor realize they are fighting a pointless spiritual war and being used by the very god they rebel against..."
"Why wouldn't you be among those used right now?" Dmitri then asked with a snort.
"Because," the man interrupted, "what you know is only a small piece of the shadow of what is truly happening in this place you call Prazinia," and smiling finished, "and identifying myself as one of those you call "angels", "spirits" and "demons" is far simpler to explain than to explain what I truly am. But your kin will take much time yet to discover the truth. I wish you good luck winning this battle."
And then he vanished, as Dmitri sighed of alleviation. However, he couldn't help but ponder how that being behaved differently, for he didn't persist in trying to break his faith, didn't try to offer him unspeakable wealth and pleasures, or to tempt him in any way. Regardless, for probably better, or perhaps worse, he was gone, allowing Dmitri to once again focus on the task ahead, for he knew that he couldn't let himself weaken, for he knew God would forgive him for such death he provoked in desperation.
Alertly he leaned through the right wall to the end of the first passageway, and quickly moved in combat stance to the right, where it continued, enlightening the next steps and discovering nothing at all, besides a seemingly endless passageway, for his beam of light instead of hitting a wall, stretched all way through the floor.
Keenly scanning every inch of walls for possible secret passages with his flashlight, he began a long walk through a straight section of these man-passable areas, while silent was still interrupted by gunfire, and thus the uniformity of the walls proceeded, their pattern perfectly matching for many meters he walked through, through many turns and moves.
Until he spotted a seemingly loose brick, and pondered whether it could be the door to the Church. With no other possibility, he pressed the brick, as it began to depress into the wall, and a clanking sound came, followed by a rumble behind him. Quickly he turned back, as one of the walls slowly lowered ahead, and his flashlight illuminated what was beyond, which seemed to be nothing but a hidden extension of such sewer passageways, which also turned, but to the left, this time from where the way further beyond couldn't be seen.
The complete lack of signs was far more worrisome, for Dmitri was expecting to feel the disturbing the presence, to hear the constant laughters and to see horrible visages, and yet, besides the demon that possessed the promising man with him and destroyed the only evidence of an atrocity, no other signs came. Perhaps they were waiting, luring him to complacency as fear alone failed to defeat him.
And thus Dmitri stepped through the hidden passageway, the walls of its curved turn becoming closer at each step, until he was close enough to lean to the inner wall of the turning sewer corridor, as he prepared to face what could be to the right, currently beyond his field of view. After a quick thought of hope and faith, he turned to the left, with his rifle pointed at the same direction of his eyes.
Yet he couldn't banish the words of the entity from his mind
"What you know is only a small piece of the shadow of what is truly happening in this place you call Prazinia"
In reaction to the sight, Dmitri immediately fired a burst, faster than thoughts of fear coming, and thus the strange visage vanished as soon as the flash of his AN-94 muzzle lightened the dark passageway ahead, and no noises of something running away could be heard. It was a dark, human-like figure, which only glimpsed at his eyes, giving him insufficient time to picture its exact shape and appearance, although he could conclude that whatever that was, it certainly was not human.
"The curse, could this be a prideful warning of devils?" Dmitri thought about the strange contact that was now gone. The corridor ahead had another turn, this time to the left, and thus he cautiously stood close to the left wall. He knew it was foolish to fight such type of enemy, whatever it was, with bullets, but in the brief seconds between life and death by the bullets of a heathen of flesh and bones, there was no time to think, and although it was never reported, perhaps sooner or later their enemies would fight together, possessed heathens with guns and demons with terror and corruption, and thus, having a weapon ready was not a bad idea.
The only sound beyond that of his breathing and footsteps was the ever-increasing sound of gunfire above, as there was no other sound for him to keep his focus at the moment, he could barely distinguish the noises of gunfire, missiles and tanks, and the blades of gunships, while he sometimes listened to the screams of dying men, and to the fanatical cries of those who put their beliefs above their lives. Such sounds led him to fasten his pace, as he knew a major battle was happening above, and that his brothers have made a mistake as they tried to advance through the city, for they would sooner or later become the losing side, for without air support and limited vehicles, only a miracle would let them succeed at such suicidal assault.
"Could they be seeking the same destination as I?" he then thought as he was nearly next the next turn, for perhaps their goal was to take over the church through brute force fighting against misguided innocents rather than through faith fighting against the real enemy. Perhaps they were all wrong, perhaps their ways were wrong, but they could not see another practical way, for they did not have even a speck of the compassion and love of the messiah who defeated evil without firing a shot or drawing a blade, they were plain men, and like all men, flawed.
Another turn, and this time there was nothing to fear or instigate the act of pulling a trigger, but instead, like indicated by the flashlight, Dmitri felt alleviated as he saw a metal ladder to the end of the passageway: the way to the Church, their victory. He began to move cautiously towards it, until he stopped as his flashlight captured gleaming white among two rows of openings at each side of the wall, littered with dozens of human skulls.
"A holy man wouldn't build this in a secret passage to a Church. What deviltry is this?" his thoughts were interrupted as he noticed a single word chiseled at each of the skulls, showing that they were definitively not the work of the native heathens who once inhabited the island. A message written in the foreheads of long gone victims, their darkened blank stares crossing through the walls, and through Dmitri's, as he began to sense something immediately as he stood between the two skull-ridden walls to read it. It was like if he could feel, fell that such skulls were observing him, every breath, every fear, every movement, and yet, the cloth wet with holy water wasn't burning, there was no really negative presence, no feeling of his breath constricted, of an immaterial dagger trying to pierce his heart.
"There is another type of evil here, maybe the lies could be important, maybe I should read them." he wondered, staring at the two rows of skulls to his left, one above the other, and trying to devise a proper explanation for their existence. The reason why the creators of a passageway for Christian refugees of a city under siege would build such crypt-like spaces for laying sad piles of human skulls on their way was beyond his comprehension, and as he stopped for a while, trying to concentrate amidst the uninterrupted sounds of battle, he finally took his choice.
The deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the Earth - and his angels were thrown down with him.
It was an excerpt of the Holy Bible, written in the most macabre form into the skulls of long dead men, and only a part of the whole, for to the side, the remain of such strange message existed. However, it was made almost exclusively of numbers than of words, and as Dmitri turned to his right to read them, he then realized what they truly meant:
0º 24' 43. 14'' S _ 132º 4' 44. 44'' E
Dmitri knew they were coordinates, but he was not a specialist in geography, and thus couldn't estimate what they were indicating, writing them in a notepad instead, although he knew that there could be only place for them to indicate, and that they obviously were claimed as the exact coordinates where the fallen angel descended. The abyss amidst the jungle, and every event that happened so far now were starting to match in his mind. Perhaps they have challenged a prideful evil, settling their community right over grounds which taint faded away a long time ago, but which now was reawakening as the enemy reacted to their presence, however he couldn't make any conclusion for now, and perhaps those coordinates meant not to be those to the doorway, perhaps the passage to Hell was somewhere else, and that was only related to it. Dmitri then wondered:
"Could it be instead the key to the doors of the abyss that lies here, exactly inside this city? The very knowledge of where the supreme throne of Earthly governments lies?"
However, he concentration on such matters ended when a vibration happened together with the noise of bombs hitting the ground above, which remembered of the battle ahead, of the men among those who cleansed buildings, one-by-one and floor-by-floor, who challenged deadly helicopters with simple anti-air missile launchers, and those who took the hellish job of countering snipers, fighting against the heathens and misguided innocents, of the assault that was yet happening. Happening without his aid.
And thus he, maintaining his combat stance, began to cautiously tread towards the ladder ahead, for the mysterious message written on skulls wasn't the greatest priority at such moment, and the mortar, gun and artillery fire were echoing constantly from above, meaning that each second meant one more martyr dead to their cause, one more family to mourn for their loss, but there was not much Dmitri could do, besides achieving his objective.
The ladder was only a handful of meters from him, as he took another step forward, and suddenly the distance enlarged, like if the passageway unnaturally extended, and as soon as he took the step, the distance between him and the ladder remained the same. The sounds of war above led him to try again, as he took a sprint towards the ladder, but the corridor depth seemed to increase for each step he took, meter after meter, making the ladder out of his reach. Meanwhile, an extreme weight came to his shoulders, like if something was constricting him, oppressing him at such exact moment, while he despaired, for all of sudden, he could hear the last gasps of every men dying above, their desperation and the desperation of their friends, hundreds who were dying, the sounds of their defeat, a situation which drove him to insist on reaching the ladder, to no avail, and thus he began to run in despair towards it, as the passageway continued to extend unnaturally with him.
Seeing how things were going against him, Dmitri could only have hope in one more attempt, and thus he knelt over the ground again, and began to pray, to wish with all his faith for Lord to guide him through the way.
"Lord, I know that those who fight with sword shall die by the sword, that we are doing the wrong or at best the least effective actions to fight for Your cause, but please, forgive them, forgive us! Give us a chance, a path, a way to save Your people, for our means may be wrong our hearts are pure, and for those who are not, show us the way to love rather hate our enemies."
Before Dmitri opened his eyes, he could already sense a familiar, nauseating putrid smell he had once felt, the crawling of his own skin, and hear the gurgling sounds of a oozing and bubbling mass of rotten flesh approach coupled with the buzzing of thousands of flies, which now muted the sounds of war above. With no fear, he opened his vision to the enemy ahead, as he saw the ladder ahead of him, and instead of the wall that closed right behind the ladders, the passageway continued, until being completely blocked by a disgusting mass of amorphous human flesh and skin which was expanding towards his position, its tendrils spreading through walls and ceiling, and small humanoid shapes slowly emerging from it, with the same humanoids made of rotting and shifting flesh he once fought against, which were heading against him, with a totally black cloud of flies.
"I cannot waste the blessed water" Dmitri fired bursts against the fleshlings, taking them down momentarily, but they continued to spawn from what was clearly a sort of demon, and the cloud of flies seemed impervious to gunfire. They were only about thirty meters ahead, and their approach seemed unstoppable, and too fast for him to climb up.
"I must retreat" he immediately concluded as he looked behind, only to see another advancing mass of rotting flesh as well with thousands of flies, and realizing he was, once again surrounded. The irritating buzzing was very close, and the horrible stench was nearly making him fall unconscious. As soon as he looked back, he fired a shot, nearly at point blank range, as one of those creatures nearly reached his arm with their disgusting hands.
The swarm of flies was right ahead and about to reach for his body, as he in despair switched to full automatic, threw himself backwards, and then held the trigger tightly. It began to shoot randomly during his brief flight, as he could not control completely the recoil of his rifle, and the black swarm was inches away from his very eyes, the sound of its buzzing seemingly combined blasphemies, laughters and mockeries. The instants were barely discernible in his mind, but his flashlight soon indicated a short fall back of the horrors ahead of him while he remained prone on his back, while he could only hope that the Lord would cover his back from those behind.
With a tactical quick load, he immediately dropped the spent magazine on the floor and drove another into his rifle before even getting up, readying for the battle, for it seemed that although in spirit they were totally uninfluenced by violence, in matter they were, albeit in a manner that could never truly defeat them, only buy time, the only time as the ladder was once again, as thus Dmitri held tightly his grip over the AN-94 and held the trigger as long as another magazined was empty against the incoming abomination, and then the only window of opportunity arose.
Rapidly, trying to contain his despair and disgust, he began to climb into the now gore-ridden ladder, until reaching the handle of the trapdoor above, as he could hear their approach, and feel their burdensome presence.
At last one of his hands, barely keeping themselves without trembling, reached for the handle, as supporting himself over the ladder, he began to force it up. It was then that the greatest despair of his entire life would succeed.
"No, Lord, don't leave me here! Give me wisdom and strength" his mind despaired, for the trapdoor was stuck, and it was a matter of five seconds at best before they came for him. His heart was pulsing extremely fast, and adrenalin numbed his perception of the horrible smell. A massive burst of laughters was echoing from both sides of the passageway.
They were extremely close, as his flashlight beamed tendrils of swirling flesh raising right below his feet, and their height was nearly touching his boots. In one last move, Dmitri took the last of holy water he had with him, and threw it against the trap door.
A loud hissing immediately came from it, while drops which fell on the floor provoked a small amount of hateful screeches, groans and screams Dmitri, in his seek for escaping, forced to ignore, as he instead tried again to push the trap door open, and it thus came away, as the light of the cellar above shone over the sewers, and he quickly climbed his way out, pressing his body over the floor.
As his torso came out, a strong, moldy arm began to attempt forcing him down, and thus, pulling his rifle from its shoulder sling, he looked down, half of his body sustained over the wooden floor and his legs still down there, as he, with a strength he did not know, swung its butt against the disgusting, faceless construct of human flesh, but it was slowly dragging him, and he could feel as his body could at any moment slip down. A primal despair struck him, and he struggled against the grip of the demon, which was extremely tough, like if a lion was trying to bring him as a prey. Thus he held himself with his left hand only, exerting a massive struggle to avoid being dragged down, and breathing heavily as he continued to beat the aberration.
"Arrgh! Away foul spirit!" flies began to fly inside his pants, to add to his torment as their thousands of legs touched his own thousands of times, however, he struggled to continue fighting, his mind still at one line from giving up, and he insisted on striking against the fleshlings, as suddenly the pressured to bring him down doubled, and his muscles were nearly exhausted to fight against their pull, yet he knew he would fall, and thus, even as he struggled, he also prayed for God to save him, as he humbly recognized he had no chance alone, and also remembered of the woman he once saved, Ekaterina, and of her words of hope.
Slowly, his torso which once touched the floor was being dragged, and with both hands he tried to hold himself, his will to survive greater than the absolute despair that would lead him to freeze over such horror, and now as the horrendous buzzing and feeling came to his legs, and as his herculean struggled double once again, as he could now feel four slimy hands grabbing each of his legs as they tried to bring him down, and slowly, they were succeeding, as he could feel his back gradually dragged from the floor, that the end was close, and yet he prayed at every second, possibly his last
Until he saw an angel who immediately threw water from a large metal bucket against the passageway, his savior, for followed with horrendously loud screeches and screams, his wet legs were set free as he quickly climbed completely out of the passage and into the cellar, and felt a strange sensation on his legs, as like if sand was dropping from them, a large amount of ashes came down where the flies once were.
As his mind began to come back to its complete senses, he looked behind, where his savior was, and replied
"Thank you! Thank the Lord..." there was nobody in such old cellars, and the man he briefly saw simply vanished without any sound of footsteps or clue about where he moved to, and in fact, the cobwebs and dirt around indicated, that despite the fact that most light bulbs still were strangely working, the place hasn't been used for years, and the only footsteps formed in the middle of the dust over the floor were his own.
Dmitri immediately closed the trap door, not looking on what still lied below, for in that holy site, he was safe from such evil, but the death and suffering around weren't stopping, and the sounds of the massive urban battle, of the shouts of captains and of the occasional explosions were very close, yet he knew that victory was at hand.
The cellars were plain simple, mostly vacant as they have been long gone unused, he moved ahead to a wooden staircase, leading above, as he entered in the main hall of the Church: an humbling building of concrete with little decorations and a large white-colored cross on the wall across its large main door, with multiple wooden chairs layered around and a simple altar laid next to the holy symbol. There were no pillars or luxury, and the place was extremely humble.
It was perhaps fitting that the key to victory was not a powerful gun, airplane or missile, but this humble and blessed building. all Dmitri had to do now was to open the door, and thus he began to run towards the exit, knowing that lives were at stake. He was still nervous about the last close call, and was holding forth many emotions together. His face was full of dirt, and his hands bloodied and gory, while parts of the grey pants of his uniforms have rotted due to the demonic touch. In fact, it was only a strong will and the realization of his duty that allowed him to not collapse of exhaustion, and thus with his weary hands, he opened slowly the doors of the church.
As they moved outwards, the sounds of gunfire became much less frequent, and suddenly a man shouted outside:
"Hold your fire!"
The sounds of battle finally began to fade, but another voice said against such order:
"No! Keep firing! I am your superior!"
As a small space came between the doors, flames appeared right ahead, and began to engulf one of their enemies, who instead of screaming in pain as he burned, simply laughed and raved, as he began to run with a supernatural strength towards Dmitri. With no wait he quick loaded another magazine, but soon he saw his supposed enemies shooting against their supposed major, and the burning corpse fell on the floor, a few meters before the Church.
"Now you know the Truth!" Dmitri shouted while he approached the man who ordered them to hold their fire, as the soldiers looked with an expression of surprise and sadness at him.
"We have killed innocents and been fooled by demons," the man lowered his head, "the man who established the Holy Republic now became a willing pawn of Satan, and we have been his unwilling pawns. And I would have killed you"
"Do not mourn over something you could not control, brother," Dmitri smiled to the man, despite showing his weariness, as he couldn't help but remember of the young soldier he had to kill, "you did what you thought that was best, for sometimes it is impossible to discern truth from lie. This struggle has not been in vain, and besides, Christ himself said for us to love not only our friends, but also our enemies."
By then, helicopters were landing, and a few piloted by possessed were being hunted by most piloted by misguided, and men who once fought each other stood side by side, mourning for the losses the lies of the enemy have caused. The Church Square was then liberated, not through the strength of arms, which only brought unnecessary death and suffering, but by the strength of faith and of the greatest weapon of those who did not betray God: the Truth.
"Thank you Dmitri," the soldier in the Prazinian's government uniform smiled, "I will gather all my brothers to help the Inquisition against the traitor. But we should try... to let everyone know the truth. Enough innocents already died."
"I am afraid things are not as simple," Dmitri explained, "we don't have resources to use the corrupted official broadcasting company in Destiny's Hold to transmit the truth, which lies hundreds of mile beyond the enemy lines in the south front of Guinea. But I have seen something that may prove crucial."
"What have you witnessed, brother?" he then asked.
"A message chiseled in the foreheads of skulls... it is a citation of the bible regarding the fallen angel, and it gives these coordinates." Dmitri then showed him the coordinates he wrote in one of the sheets of his notepad.
"Let me see it, Dmitri, I believe I may have a way to find the exact location they point to," and then he remarked, "do you believe this is the place where Satan fell?"
"No," Dmitri answered, "but these numbers may be an important clue." And thus the officer approached a rugged laptop computer, and began to use it, accessing the information he could gather, while Dmitri awaited, looking at the now eternal darkness of the skies.
"When will see the light again?" was a thought that was now becoming very important. Under normal circumstances, seeing the dawn of the sun was extremely trivial and unnoticed, but now, under such unexpected tribulation, seeing it again would be a major hope, and a source of immense joy.
"Dmitri, I mapped the coordinates, and they point to plaza that lies right above the exact location of the central gallery of the sewers of Sansapor!" The leader then replied to him, as he remembered of the recent horrors inside such sewers.
A loud boom then came, like if a metal piece was flung not too far from there, and suddenly another followed, and a chain began. The soldiers instinctively took cover and defensive positions, and Dmitri readied himself as well. Glasses of nearby buildings began to break, and an ever familiar nauseating stench began to come from nearby manholes.
"David Three, get out!" the leader than shouted through his radio, as a hatch on one of the nearby BMP-T vehicles opened and frightened men began to climb out from it, with a pace that indicated urgency, and as the last one came down, another boom came as the dozens of tons heavy vehicle was flung through the sky, with the manhole nearly crushing its armor like the shell of a bettle, and the horrid smell began to emanate from it, as one of the crew members of the razed vehicles threw up, as he was dragged out of the manhole proximities by his comrades.
"Look out!" Dmitri shouted as he tried to keep sight of the hurled armored vehicle. The figure flew through the darkened sky, moving a few meters away from their position, and a loud sound of a house being crushed by its impact could be heard a few moments later.
The ground began to shake intensely, and Dmitri held himself to one of the barricades, as men got down to stand such unnatural earthquake. Fissures, like those he saw in the damned city of Yakutsk, began to erupt from the pavement and streets, and a noxious wet fog slowly arose from them, as its whiteness would soon make it impossible for them to see their feet or what was on the ground.
The sounds of an oozing mass of flesh emerging then began to echo through the entire city, as their victory clearly challenged their true enemies. Suddenly every men inside the city began to feel the burden of a terrible, maleficent presence, as what could only be a greater demon, no longer bothering with the subtleties of manipulating men only, manifested physically. Gigantic swarms of flies buzzed and began to ascend from every sewer hole, as they arose dozens of meters above the ground, and began to condense over the sky, forming slowly a gigantic cloud of demonic flies that began to engulf the city. Metal began to unnaturally rust into a crimson color, and every wood besides that of the sacred church began to rot. Clean concrete began to fill with unnatural rust and brownish colors of decay, and slowly fog engulfed the entire city.
"It is..." Dmitri said, as he witnessed the horror corrupting their city, twisting its very shape into becoming what could be part of a nightmarish realm.
"...Beelzebub" one of the soldiers exclaimed, as he immediately began his prayers.
"It is more than that foul spirit," Dmitri said, "be ready in body and spirit brothers, for the boundaries between Earth and Hell are waning, this can only be a merge of both worlds... and the Church of our blessed Lord the only fortress. Prepare brothers! Do not hesitate, for now we will not face mere misguided or corrupted humans, or those who we once thought to be our enemies. Trust more in your faith than in your guns, for only the former can truly defeat them, and keep together, and alive, but no matter what happens, the Lord will always be with us."
An horrid screeching announced that the battle was only beginning. And men already weary, both physically from the battle, and emotionally from realizing they were killing innocents, now would have to face them. While the men of the Inquisition were prepared to fight against demons in spirit, they were not prepared to fight their greatest enemies in both flesh and spirit, although for the battle ahead, will and faith would remain more important than raw military strength.
Dmitri's skin crawled as the horrible event was beginning, the fog covered the ground, made it impossible to see much beyond what lied a couple of meters ahead, and went to the height of their knees, making it impossible to spot their enemy despite multiple spotlights covering every corner of the Church, and from afar, between the fog, the distant shades of women and children rallying to the Church, likely civilians who remained in the city seeking shelter from its horrors were now moving without any clue of what they could face besides the massive cloud of flies, the only the fog didn't obscure from the skies, and the horrid stench of decay, like if millions of corpses were rotting in every corner of Sansapor, their flesh swirling, heard through the echoes the gigantic ooze beneath the ground.
"Captain Lukhov to all air cavalry detachments, requesting air support," the capain of the defensive perimeter around the church desperatedly repeated for the eighth time, but only static came, as if something was blocking his message, and suddenly his rugged laptop announced in Slavic letters that the connection was lost. They were by all means cut off from other platoons inside Sansapor, as helpless as they were, and thus, the enemy has divided them.
"Brothers!" Dmitri finally got the strength to intervene, while he ran for a nearing IJ-7 flamethrower affixed to one of the sandbag barricades, "man the barricades and burn the fiends! do not hesitate! Do no fall to their lies and terrors!"
The desolate scenery of the darkened, rusted and twisted city seemed completely hostile to their small, fragile fortress of barricades, razor wire, emplacements and three BMP-T infantry fighting vehicles re-armed with flamethrowers, the fog was a major obstacle to target the threat, until the captain took his wisdom of night-time warfare into hand, and moved to a plain crate amidst those clearly marked as of machinegun ammunition and flamethrower canisters, and took a cluster of single-lens goggles from it:
"Everybody! Put your infrared visors on!"
Dmitri immediately grabbed one of the goggles from the captain, but his eyes were focused on the desperate civilians running towards them, as the spotlights augmented their despair, the fear of their eyes, as he saw once again a feeling of powerlessness, powerlessness as children and women were dragged into the fog, vanishing with hallowing screams of pain and despair that seemed to pierce their very hearts.
"I won't stand here!" one of the soldiers shouted as he saw the horrible scene, before putting the goggles on, "we must save them!"
"No! Stop now brother!" the captain shouted with clear fear of such attitude, but to no avail, as the soldier charged with an AN-94 towards the civilians, giving bursts of fire against the foggy ground as he went past the barriers.
It was then that he finally decided to place the goggles over his eyes, and as he turned them on, he had a shocking realization: there were no heat signatures from the running civilians, and he could see the signature of the disgusting ooze, only inches from the soldier who ran to save such "civilians"
"Come back! These are lie..." the desperate attempt to save his brother was interrupted by his screams, as the soldier was violently pushed inside a manhole by a fleshly appendage that sticked to his entire lower body, and Dmitri observed with horror as his trembling hands tried to hold over the edge of the concrete manhole, until the tendrils of rotting flesh engulfed the hands of the soldier as well, and his screams were heard no longer while it began to climb from the manhole, one of many segments surrounding them, slowly advancing, as hundreds of humanoid constructs of flesh began to emerge from such river of flesh. The sounds of battle began to again echo, as distant blades of helicopters and explosions mingled with the fear, and forty men had to hold every corner of a block against the swarm
"Hold your fire!" hundreds of child-sized humanoids of rotten flesh began to swarm all around them, cackling in a sinister, gurgling like manner as pus and filth exhaled from their mouth-less and eyeless faces, their distance reducing every second, as hands tried to keep their grip over flamethrowers and the weapons of infantry fighting vehicles kept their aim over them. Dmitri looked at the humanoid heat signatures that emanated from their rotting bodies, as burning, malicious eyes could be differentiated from the rest of the signatures in infrared vision, like if their sights were mere illusions to their true form. They were coming very close, and between their cackling and gurgling, a word echoed once again through a chorus that could freeze the soul of even the purest:
"Dmitriiii... you are..."
"Fire at will!" the command was answered by a showering of a dozen of flamethrowers, setting lit the ground as an horrible screech of agony and hatred echoed, and the flesh abominations began to set on fire, their burning corpses emanating a stench worse than their own, as the ablaze monsters continued to charge against the streams of flamer gel... all but one, for Dmitri simply stared, catatonic, while a soldier quickly manned the flamethrower in his place.
"Who am I?" the question echoed through Dmitri's mind, as he stood completely unable to face the threat, instead fought by soldiers. A black smoke of the gigantic combustion of unnatural tons of flesh formed a screen that in few seconds would their entire surroundings, and breathing was becoming ever difficult due to their horrible, ashen rot. Coughing, Dmitri still couldn't gather strength to protect himself from the smoke... suddenly the suddens of gunfire and flames dissipated from his earing, and everything became slower. Everything went black.
"Dmitri!" he could feel a gas mask pressed over his face and an arm holding his torso, "are you alive? We are running out of ammunition... we must fall back now! Inside the Church we will be safe!"
"Who am I?" he could see from infrared that there were far less soldiers on the corner he once defended, and the rotten flesh advancing as fast as it was burnt, with a black smog surrounding everything, and flames being shot against ever coming swarms of demonic flies. From afar, the sound of another helicopter crashing could be heard. Without any visibility or access to navigation systems, there was no hope for those who tried to face such enemy from air.
"You are Dmitri, savior of Sansapor!" the captain said, "now you have fifteen seconds to get out of here! We are almost out of canisters all our vehicles were swallowed by... that thing!"
"No!" Dmitri opposed the request with total certainty, as the imagery of the park, the heart of evil mapped by coordinates written in human skulls, appeared over his mind, "that is what they want, for us to fall back and remain pinned down until we die of starvation or dehydration, for prayers help us against them, but they will never satiate our hunger or thirst... we must go straight to their source!"
"This is completely crazy Dmitri! Ten seconds... get with us while you can!" another scream came as Dmitri saw very close, the horrors as the flesh engulfed the legs of an Inquisition's knight manning a flamethrower, with the humanoid beasts taking small slices of his flesh and devouring it, as he screamed in horror, Dmitri could see with details as the ooze seemed to engulf at first the innards of such desperate man being eaten alive, coming out from his nose and mouth with a large amount of blood while it surrounded his dying body, until like a corpse thrown in lava, his body sunk into the mass of flesh over the ground.
"God protect his soul," while Lukhov ran away to the Church with four other soldiers covering the last intact flank of their perimeter, Dmitri ran towards the proximities of the oozing flesh, his hand aiming towards the flamethrower which fell over the ground, "God protect me from evil," he leaped towards the flamethrower as only inches separated the abomination and its child-like minions from the only weapon that could detain it, making of such move nearly suicidal, or perhaps a leap of faith very few were willing to take.
Whether by luck or miracle, Dmitri's hand fell exactly into the trigger, and thus he pressed it without observing the direction it was aimed at. A massive recoil pushed the flamer into an incontrollable rotation over the ground, as its gel touched everywhere, including the resilient bricks of the Church, and a scream echoed through the street as a hissing sound, as strong as that of melting metal, accompanied the voices, which once again said between guttural moans of unspeakable origin:
Dmitri raised again, with a disgusting, burnt goo covering his back as he rose as fast as he could. The incinerated monstrosity seemed halted, its IR signature dying, but in a few seconds, the incoming signatures dozens of meters away, all around him, would become an immediate threat. Scouting around for anything that could be scavenged, he desperatedly opened the intact supplies boxes, but most of them were empty, with only a spare set of protective eyewear found, until he at last found the last one to be searched, which fortunately still had four explosive charges. He dropped for a while the flamethrower, and took the charges with him, but as soon as he got up, he could see the signatures, and soon two disgusting small hands dragged the flamethrower into the mass of flesh as the creatures stared at him, only one meter away from his position, with their malicious eyes in the heat signature.
Instinctively Dmitri drew his rifle, with a flashlight still attached below it, from the shoulder, and began to shoot at the creatures, while retreating towards the Church's door, one shot against each, as he had only one magazine left. They were coming closer, and their legions never ended, while the fleshly ooze originating them also covered further ground. Meanwhile, a strong buzzing sound was coming closer. Yet he methodically fired, counting every shot. Only ten were remaining now.
"Who am I?" there seemed to be a small gap now between the hordes of seemingly infinite monsters, while the ooze, now bordering the first stair before the Church's door, and only four steps away from him, seemed to suddenly have halted, the last window for Dmitri to attempt something despite the hopeless prospect.
"You are what you choose to be" the thought echoed through his mind, whether his own or foreign something to be pondered in less critical moments, as he quickly dropped his backpack on the step and rummaged through it, until grabbing a last vial of holy water as the ooze began to climb the steps towards his position.
"I am an aide of God!" Dmitri shouted with a fanatical flame, as he doused the water inside his boots, washing his feet, and all around it, as the ooze was inches from his feet, he began to fearlessly step over them, and began a rally towards the unknown, every step provoking a hissing sound as the holy water weakened the beast and burnt its foul flesh. Yet, ahead and to his sides, hundreds of fleshlings advanced against him, and flies seemed to head against him from behind, their buzzing sounds nearly deafening his ears. Without hesitation, he continued his charge, as suddenly all fear vanished, the agonies of blasphemies of the demon were ignored, and nothing else mattered, not even his own life.
The creatures jumped over his head, as he felt the infrared goggles dragged away, and then they simply began to converge against his back rather than trying to face him frontally. His flashlight illuminated very little beyond the ever present fog, and now it was no longer possible to see the writhing mass over the ground, only to feel its pungent smell. Panting, he tried outrun them, but they seemed to never get farther, and in fact to be very slowly approaching. Suddenly his flashlight found the rust-stained bricks of a twisted building, and thus he began to scout for its door as fast as possible, turning around left next to the block it belonged to. However, its door was boarded, and he could see approaching further monstrosities: Dmitri was surrounded, once again.
He simply turned around... expecting the worse. Instead, once again they strangely halted, and another window of chance appeared. Without hesitation, he grabbed one of the blocks of C4 and attached it to the door, setting it to five seconds with too much speed for someone who never handled explosives before. He hid into an alleyway while his boots expelled the monster below, and ever vigilant he awaited, until with one second left a laughter and the sound of a drop came behind him, as a single of such beasts tried to leap against him, with the background of the explosion sound muffling its noise.
Dmitri quickly leaned to the all, as his flashlight pointed to the beast in its mid-flight, which felt ahead, missing him, but vanishing inside the fog. Without wait, he ran back to the main street pavement, and turned towards the door. Splinters of wood flew everywhere, he saw flies coming with more fleshlings, but simply ran inside the run-down apartment. Although he had not much time to observe it cautiously, there were clear signs there were people inside very recently, despite the fact all lights were out, there was still a television turned on, showing static, and next to the sofa, four plates with half-eaten dishes, like if the family who once was there departed in a hurry. He felt an instinctive drive to go upstairs, and as he stepped on the wooden stair, he could listen steps and buzzes coming behind him, adrenaline vanished and he could again feel a great fear.
As if by intuition, he turned to the second door to the right of the corridor he reached after going upstairs, where the bedroom of husband and wife who once lived in such home was located, and immediately closed the door behind him with a large slam, holding it tight with both hands as he left his rifle on the black marble floor.
Who am I? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh2kSs89Xxw)
"Thank the Lord! A key!" he locked the door immediately, as the creatures outside attempted to break in. With its windows completely boarded, the bedroom was a small fortress, with a large double bed, a computer desk with a turned off computer and a seemingly heavy chair, a large set of closets, two ebony wood nightstands with four drawers where unlit lamps stood and one large, unframed mirror in its center next to the bed, and a painting of Jesus, completely intact despite the rust and filth stained concrete walls over it, and there was a strange, humming noise that seemed to have no source, like if it was all around. Dmitri immediately grabbed the table and pushed it next to the door to reinforce it while constant knocks were given by seemingly thousands of fists and legs. Perhaps he would be safe for a couple of minutes inside, but ironically, he ended like them: pinned down, with no escape route, as he could hear the ooze slowly engulfing the very building he was into, not even the gas mask he wore hiding its stench.
With not more to do, he tried to find whether such bedroom could be more than a temporary refuge, as he began to open the drawers of the first nightstand, one by one.
"Spare underwear, I hope to find something more useful in the next," as he messed through them in the false hope of finding something, and moved to the next drawer, ignoring the so far futile attempts of his enemies to break in. At least now he knew such was the nightstand used by the husband. In the second drawer, several pamphlets with inspiring psalms and a pocket bible existed, and he took the bible with him, after checking it for annotations that could be useful, but there were none. Third drawer showed something useful at least: a searchlight and four spare batteries, which he immediately took to his backpack. Smaller batteries that would fit with his tactical flashlight also were there, and besides them, there was a wallet. He took the wallet, only to check the name of its owner: "Ralle Ivanovich", a 30 years old architect with two children, married to Manya Odebrecht, seemingly an exemplary follower of Christ, and nothing really strange existed. No clue to anything.
As the last drawer of that nightstand was pulled, Dmitri cowled, falling back at the disturbing sight: a small human skull was placed inside, its blank eyesockets facing directly him, the skull of an innocent children.
"How... how could he? How could we have been so blind?" the implications were becoming far obvious in Dmitri's mind. It was clear that the enemy has infiltrated among those who nobody would suspect of, that some of their most renown pastors and priests were nothing but agents of the devil, wolves in shepherd's clothing. The skull was devoid of any malice, being now nothing but a sad reminder of a long gone spirit, who was now in the kingdom of Heaven, and such thought helped Dmitri to accept what was the terrible truth:
"Were we not so prideful about our incorruptibility, this would never have happened. We have sinned... and in our weaknesses, they have grown."
Closing the drawer once again, as he checked that there was nothing besides the skull, he moved to the drawer of the woman, likely an accomplice. As he opened the first drawer of her nightstand, he immediately found something of interest: a black book, locked with a stiff padlock, which had no label. He knew that he had to find a key for such book, for perhaps it could contain answers. And thus he opened the next drawer, only to find more intimate clothing, and following on the third, he found nothing but a piece of paper with Slavic words written in it, and taking it, he checked for the last drawer, which was definitively empty, as he handled it and found nothing.
Reading the note, he carefully tried to find a meaning out of its enigmatic message, beyond the obvious blasphemies against the Lord, or perhaps the words of a mind going into insanity:
They who casted us into suffering
Yet demanded our worship for punishing us
Because we have challenged their pride
And now promised to us delusions and lies
That only through them it is possible to live forever
That we cannot discover the way of life for ourselves
That they, the Elohim, are the holders of the only truth
That good and evil are absolutes rather than limited visions
The enemies of the Elohim came to torment us, neither are friends
They only want to shackle our souls, they care nothing about us
I have looked into myself, I have saved my children from the damnation
They lied to me since I was born, now ashamed of have knelt,
Like a slave to them, who threatened those who saw the truth
with their flames.
But they cannot find me! They will never burn me because I challenged
their masters, because I am no longer a fool, for now
I AM FREE FROM THE BONDS OF SLAVERY TO THEIR FALSE GODS
*A few drips of dried blood, likely human, separated the rest of the message*
Because I have looked into myself
And I have found salvation
Saved my family, because I love them
I will not let the slaves take them away
I will not let the blind take them away
They will read this, they will curse my name as a blasphemer
Because they forgot why they came here
But they may yet find the truth... or perhaps
Even what I have found is another lie... we are like ants
We are like nothing
And yet we have much power untapped, they fear that we discover
knowledge, they forbid us from shaping reality. They send their liars and
innocent fools to suffer for their selfish cause and preach for the downfall of
mankind to their kin. But once they come, man will not bow,
for man is not an ant, man will stand, and then
God will be dead
Satan will be dead
My soul belongs to myself
Folding the blasphemous note and putting into his pocket, he pitied the woman who wrote it, as its content demonstrated clear hints of insanity, both from the handwriting and content. Something went terribly wrong... in this place, in Prazinia, but only now the symptoms became apparent. He found it curious how the message blasphemed against his God as many rather than as one, mentioned an ancient word: Elohim.
However, the writhing began to intensify, as from all around the door the ooze began to spread through the floor, ceiling and walls of the bedroom. His heart began to beat in a frenzy, while he tried to find a solution, to find a way of escaping, but there was none, he was essentially surrounded, and if he blew another wall, there would be more of the ooze to come from the gap, and yet it was coming close, slowly overwhelming him, and he had no defense, nowhere to run. His rifle was already drowned into its fibers, and they were almost cornering him completely
"Who am I?" Dmitri looked at his reflection into the only mirror inside the bedroom, his brown eyes and liss black hair, his well defined face, and trying to find a solution where none seemed to exist, he reminded of the least blasphemous words of the paper he found, as if by intuition they finally seemed to show their importance, as he suddenly muttered them himself.
"Because I have looked into myself, and I have found salvation," Dmitri reached the mirror with his hand, as rather than being touched by the glass, they crossed through the mirror, as if it was immaterial, but they didn't appear behind it. It was certainly a blasphemous witchcraft, and to use it was to blaspheme against the Lord, but there seemed to be no other choice than dying. A fleshling was raising from the poodle of flesh, inches from his very left arm, as he thought, still afraid of what could be beyond such mirror:
"Lord, please forgive me for this sin," and thus Dmitri threw himself through the immaterial mirror, to what lied beyond, and without any resistance, he left perhaps the world of the living, or went to some realm. As he emerged, he could feel the touch of a clean marble floor, like that of the room he was before, and the stench of the horrors he left behind was gone. He immediately opened his eyes to find perhaps a small fragment of the truth behind everything.
Chapter 3: Truth, a Hall of Mirrors
Breathing was usually so normal that people would not even notice as they breathed, it was imprinted into their bodies, almost not perceivable. However, at moments like this, a deep breath brought an extremely soothing sensation to Dmitri, as he knew that, wherever he has arrived, the great evil chasing and damning the city of Sansapor did not follow, and somehow, the air in that place, in that room, which seemed to be exactly alike the room where he was before, seemed more pure, more pleasant and light. The mere way that a gesture as simple as breathing provoked far deeper sensations of peace and alleviation into him, far beyond what he ever experienced, made him think for the first minute he spent, whether he was still in the realm of flesh or not, for the way light seemed clearer, the way air seemed pleasant, the manner his sweat, tiredness and stench from intense fighting vanished, were otherworldly. The still tightly locked black booklet with him remained however, as a reminder of what his land ailed.
The walls were exactly like in the room he was before, and he still stared at his reflection over the mirror, as he cautiously approached his hand towards it. The solid touch of the glass was everything he felt, and exerting a slight pressure against it did not change the fact, meaning that he would not be able to return through such way, although the way he felt served as a strong deterrent to even think about that... there was a sensation of lightness, of being freed from the burden of the world he left.
Turning his back, he looked as how the drawers were completely undisturbed, not exactly mirroring what he has done before. The blankets in the bed were moved, like if a couple has just awaken and did not bother to settle them orderly. There were two portraits over each nightstand, the portraits of the husband and wife living there. As Dmitri looked at the portrait of the man, he began to feel that such face was not unfamiliar, but he could not make it why. All facial features of the man in the photograph could be compared, to an extent to his own, although that was much of a coincidence, for the man in the photo certainly looked differently enough from him.
I must find where I am first, thinking practically, Dmitri then headed to the portrait of the woman over the other nightstand, and after a quick glance at her strange, way too slim face and curly black hair, he knew that such was a false presumption. Whoever these people were, they had nothing to do with him. Opening the drawers, Dmitri then hoped to find clues about his whereabouts, and as the first drawer in the nightstand the woman's photo stood over was pulled, he saw a few personal belongings, note books and memos mostly, and as he began to read them, he saw nothing useful from the agenda, where phone numbers were writ, or a pile of pieces of paper from where seemingly Chinese fortune cookie messages were written. The only thing he realized was that like the Prazinians, these people also had Russian as their main language.
"A shopping list" Dmitri yawned as he took the notepad filled with notes, hoping to find something, anything at all that could give him a hint about what sort of place was that, if it was real. There was another piece of trivia, the reports of someone's weekly routine, a simple, seemingly peaceful life. Meat, rice, cheese, ham, eggs and many other trivial things were listed through the first ten pages he browsed, and they simply repeated most times. As there was no annotated date of when such lists were done, giving time to such purchases was not possible, although logically the last pages would be the most recent acquisitions.
He was trained to be patient, and thus he browsed the twenty-four pages carefully, until, finding nothing besides the normal, he ended finding the last page, to see whether there was a point in this or whether it was yet another pointless search. The results came soon to him, as he browsed the mundane shopping list.
The last entries caught his attention, for they were obviously of no use for routinely activities. A black hen, black and red candles and alcohol sounded like obvious elements for some sort of satanic ritual, to which the mirror he came from was directly related. but strangely there were none of the sinister aftereffects of performing one in that place that Dmitri could sense.
"Thornflower, now either they call something else by this name or it is a plant I have never heard about."
Probably realizing that searching in-depth in such quarters wouldn't give much, he continued with the decision to only look for what lied in the nightstands. The second drawer only had spare sets of clothing, through which he searched throughly for something but found nothing. The last one, however, had among batteries and a flashlight something quite interesting: the half of a key that seemingly was split with perfection, which was strange considering how difficult was to cut one with such accuracy. Unless it was already built in such manner.
Dmitri moved the half key to the padlock which held the black book closed. It fitted in perfectly, and thus he tried to open it. He heard a click, but then, he could no longer turn it, meaning it was likely such key was designed to not unlock it unless it was merged with its other half, wherever it was.
"Strange how... the key to the book was in an one-way gate to this place." certainly, Dmitri has seen lots of strange things, but sometimes logic itself seemed to have been challenged by the evils he struggle to fight against. pulling the key back, he guarded the book and such part of a key in his backpack, and then moved to the other nightstand. All its drawers had were photographs from soccer players, sports and cars magazines. Certainly an enthusiast lived there. But there was something strange Dmitri noticed when he opened the last one: shining below all the drawers, into the inner frame of the nightstand.
He immediately removed the last drawer, carefully from it to avoiding making too much noise, and thus enlightened the hollow of the nightstand with his flashlight. The shining was coming from a particularly interesting object, which seemed neither holy nor cursed: a tiny, frameless mirror, barely large enough to reflect the entirety of a small hair, seemingly built rather than the result of something that was shattered. There was little reason for someone to hide such thing, much alone for someone to own it. Feeling that it could become important, Dmitri touched it, feeling nothing strange at all, as it was definitively a plain miniature mirror, which could fit in his pinky finger.
Putting the drawer back in its place, Dmitri prepared to leave the room, keeping his rifle slung over his shoulders as he did not expect hostility, and did not want to let whoever lived there see him as a threat should he be found still thered, yet he had a pistol ready inside his pants to be drawn, if necessary. Heading towards the door, he prepared to explore this new place, this seemingly otherworldly reality that he was brought into by his own actions.
But first he began to think about God... however, this time, he felt nothing at all, no joy, as if his prayers were being in vain, and then Dmitri finally realized that such place was likely not a good place. For although it seemed devoid of torment and suffering, so far, it also seemed completely devoid of God. And there was only one realm, according to what he has interpreted in the Bible, where the Lord was not present. A realm which under normal circumstances would never be reached by humans in either flesh or spirit.
"Hell" his mind concluded, and despite such conclusion, he still opened the door.