BOOM! Explosions rocked the small outpost, causing dust to fall from the ceiling and float in the air. John stuck his head around the corner, looking to see if the way was clear. Seeing nobody through the smoke he headed down the dimly lit corridor, slowly making his way to the armory. The passage was light by torches suspended from the walls; the walls were made of ancient stone blocks, cut to shape by men centuries ago.
As he hurried down the corridor he came upon the entrance to the small armory. Seeing no one about John quickly entered and found his armor and weapons; a flaming sword, a pistol known as a Spike Bolter, and his Grappler gun. His armor was made of the standard Palladium with intricate runes carved throughout the skin of the armor. These runes, while they were very striking in appearance, were there for more than just looks. They were all hand carved to strengthen the armor with a mystic force that protected the wearer from harm.
With his armor on John no longer felt naked and rushed through the corridors looking for the source of the explosions. As he ran he saw sign of fighting, the walls were scorched, and there were areas where whole sections of the passageway was strewn with rubble. Picking his way around the debris John began to wonder aloud “How did this happen? How did a demon get in here?” As he rounded the corner to enter the main common area leading into the old subway rails an explosion sent him flying into the wall behind him. The force of his impact cracked the stones, causing the shielding on his armor to dissipate. John shook his head and staggered to his feet, the runes on his armor had begin to glow a dull red as they began to draw energy from the area around him to replenish his shield.
Making his way back to the corner John looked around the corner. What he saw shocked him. The common area once filled with people, was now littered with bodies. Where once stood shops and meeting halls, now stood piles of rubble, the thick black smoke from the flames quickly consuming the piles of lumber. All signs of the fighting were gone, only the sounds of people moaning in agony, or wailing in grief could be heard over the crackling of flames.
Looking around John saw where a templar had fallen, and lay still upon the ground. Hurrying over to the body John saw it was his friend Sebastian. Kneeling down to check on him he saw that he was still alive. “Sebastian, what happened here?” John asked.
“It was Lillis, she stole the Gem of Actar. We tried to stop her, but she was to powerful. She knocked us aside as if we were children.” Sebastian answered. His eyes began to roll back into his head as he struggled to speak. “John, you have to go after her, you know that without that Gem or protections here will fail, and the demons will come in here and slaughter us all.” In a final burst of strength Sebastian gripped John’s arm and demanded “John, you have to stop her, you have to get the gem of Actar back. Hurry there is not much time”
With that Sebastian lost consciousness, as John looked down at the still form of Sebastian and told him he would right this wrong and get the Gem back. Standing up he began to run through the tunnels leading out of the subway tying to find where Lillis had gone. Praying that God would grant him the strength to find her and give him the conviction to do what must be done. As John ran he felt himself being pulled to the South.
As he climbed the steps leading out of the subway, he once again stopped to take stock of his surroundings. The city looked the same as it always did, ruined. The once majestic buildings lay crumbling around his feet, the smell of death and decay still hung heavy in the air. Smoke so thick that it blocked out most of the light from the sun hung in the air, leaving the world covered in a gray wasteland. The perpetual fires still burned as the demons slowly attuned our world with theirs. Still being drawn to the South, John ran down the street, not trying to hide from any demons as he knew the outpost did not have much time. If the demons came across it now he shuddered to think what would happen.
Ahead in the road stood a blade minion, as John ran toward the beast he armed himself with both his grappler gun and his Spike Bolter. Holding down the trigger of his Spike Bolter it began to spew forth an amazing amount of projectiles at the demon. As John and the Blade Demon closed on each other John aimed his Grappler gun above and behind the demon and fired, the hook embedding itself into a face of a building. John then depressed the trigger the full depth causing the weapon to recoil. As the microfilament drew taught John leapt into the air allowing the gun to hoist him above the demons head, all the while filling it with ammo from the Spike Bolter. As John flew over the demon it staggered and fell to the ground dead. He then depressed the button on the side of the Grappler causing the microfilament to be cut. As he hit the ground he rolled with the impact, allowing his armor’s shields to absorb most of the blow. Launching himself to his feet he continued to run down the street barely losing his stride.
As he continued he caught site of Lillis, up ahead battling a horde of zombies, as she stood in front of the Hellgate. The Hellgate was a massive portal of flame, leading into the very bowels of hell itself. There was a constant dry hot wind emanating from the opening of the portal, blowing the smell of sulfur down the street. She was calling down fire and electricity from the sky, blasting huge holes in her enemies’ ranks. Having quickly dispatched the zombies she slowly turned and looked at John. In a raspy voice she asks “Why have you come here John? Do you think you can stop me?”
“Lillis, do you know what you have done? Why have you taken the Gem of Actar? You have sentenced all the people in the outpost to death by this action.”
At this Lillis just laughed. “Why should I care what happens to one little outpost,” she demanded. “With this Gem I will be able to protect more than just one small group of people. I will use it to close the very Hellgate itself,” she shouted with a look of triumph in her eyes.
“Lillis I can not let you do that. While you know more of magic than I do, you should know as well as I that the Hellgate can only be closed from the other side and that the Artifact will have no power in Hell.” Saying that John drew his sword out of its scabbard and said “Please Lillis, give me the Gem.”
Lillis just laughed again and pointed a finger at John. “Good bye John,” she said, as a bolt of lightning streaked from her finger aimed straight at John. John raised his sword deflecting the bolt into a nearby building, blasting a chunk of mortar into the street. Grasping the handle of his Spike bolter John aimed it at Lillis and fired. She made a circular gesture with her hands erecting a barrier that the bolts bounced harmlessly against. Screaming in rage Lillis raised her hands invoking a spell that caused the ground between them to erupt as a Carnagor Demon burst forth. A very mean demon that looked like a cross between a rhino and an elephant, with hundreds of razor sharp teeth in its massive jaws.
“Lillis” John called out, “Just like old times huh?” Sheathing his sword John pulled his Grappler gun out and shot the top of the building next to him, quickly retracting the microfilament he seemed to literally run straight up the wall and over the edge to stand on the roof. Standing there he began to fire the spike bolter into the demon, causing it to howl in pain. Then he fired the Grappler gun into the demon, causing it to fly toward him. As he holstered the Spike Bolter he grabbed his sword and waited for the demon to close. As it approached John cut the filament causing it to slam into the building head first, stunning it, as it fell to the ground. As it fell John stepped off the roof and impaled the demon as they hit the ground killing it. Then he heard Lillis scream.
Looking down the street John saw that the gate guardian had come through and was holding Lillis in one hand. The Gate Guardian was the largest demon John had ever seen, standing nearly 80 feet tall. Its shin was a motley brown and gray color with rolls of fat hanging off its body. Upon its chest were the faces of human souls that it had devoured, screaming in eternal agony at their fate. As John watched in horror the demon reached up with its other hand and ripped off Lillis’ legs that were dangling in the air below its hand. John raised his Grappler gun and prayed, squeezing the trigger the bolt sunk deep into Lillis’ chest, ripping her from the demon’s grasp. As Lillis flew at him John caught her and placed her on the ground. “Lillis what have you done?” She just looked at him and grimaced in pain.
John heard the Gate Guarding approaching, its every step shaking the earth. Gently laying Lillas down he turned to face the monster of a Demon believing that he had no chance to survive, but knowing he had no choice but to try. God if you have ever heard me before I pray that you hear me now John prayed. Help me to destroy this demon before it can completely rip open the fabric of our worlds and draw us all into hell.
Arming himself with his Spike Bolter and his sword John rushed at the demon. As he ran the demon raised its left foot to stomp on this pitiful human who would dare to challenge it. As it raised its foot John began to unleash with the spike bolter firing into the sole of the demon’s foot. Dodging to the side as the foot descended John slashed at the leg with his sword, opening a gash upon the creature’s foot. It did not seem to notice either the sword stroke or the bolts lodged into its foot. Deciding a change in tactics was necessary he holstered his Spike bolter and grabbed the Grappler gun.
Continuing on behind the demon John turned around as he ran and fired his weapon into the demons back, launching himself into the air and jerking him backwards into the demon. John rammed his sword into the demon as he was pulled upwards, leaving a long gash in the demon, causing it to howl in pain. Stopping in the middle of the Gate Demon’s back John tried to thrust his sword into the demon’s spine, but try as he might he could not pierce the thick bone. Screaming in pain at this the demon tried to reach back and grab John, but was not able to get its arms around behind itself to destroy this annoying insect. Turning to the side the demon did the same thing John would do if he had an itch on his back he could not reach. It rubbed its back on the building next to it, scrapping John, and large chunks of the building off, causing him to fall to the street. As John fell the demon kicked him sending him flying down the street, slamming into the building next to where Lillis lay, the impact breaking his spine. As John sat there he looked at Lillis and said “I’m sorry, I failed”
Lillis using her last ounce of strength dragged herself to John and asked “John, will you accept my aid?”
“Yes, Lillis, but what can we do, it has won.”
“John, what will you give to kill this demon?”
Without hesitation john answered “Everything”
Lillis nodded “Then hold still.” Saying a quick incantation Lillis transformed her arm holding the Gem of Actar into that of a powerful demon. She then slammed the Gem into John’s chest embedding the Artifact in his body. Suddenly John felt better. No more than better he felt wonderful, powerful. He stood up and looked at the demon and roared his challenge, a roar filled with the rage of a thousand souls. Startled the demon paused. Then it answered with a roar of its own swinging its mighty fist at John intending to drive him into the ground like a nail. John reared back his fist and struck the descending blow knocking it backwards. Then John leapt upon the demon’s arm and ran up to its neck. The Gate Guardian reached for John, intending to crush him like it had done Lillis but John raised his sword and sliced off the demons fingers.
“As John stood on the monsters shoulder he screamed into its ear “Never again!” Then taking his sword he plunged it deep into the demons skull. As the demon stiffened in shock John quickly pulled out the sword and drove it in again and again, carving a hole in the creature’s skull. Pulling back his hand John smashed his fist into the creature’s head killing it and toppling it to the ground. John hurried over to where Lillis was, her blood spilling on the ground under her. “Lillis its over, we did it,” John said.
Lillis opened her eyes which were glazing over with death and smiled. John pulled her close and whispered fiercely into her ear, “I love you my wife!” At this she turned her had and kissed him lightly on the lips.
“Forever” she breathed quietly as she died.
When John returned to the outpost he was carrying Lillis’ body with him hugging it to him, tears streaming down his face. When Sebastian saw him he also began to cry. When John placed the body down Sebastian saw the gem impaled in John’s chest “John no! It did not have to be you.” John just smiled
“Yes it did,” he said, “come I will tell you what happened on the way.” As they walked through the corridors of the outpost John told Sebastian what had occurred, and of Lillis’ help in defeating the Gate Guardian. As they reached the end of their destination John said, “There is no pain, only duty.” John turned and sat on the old stone chair, while the power from the Gem of Actar consumed him.
As the light blazed before his eyes John saw the gates of hell spread before him and he was not afraid, then a small hand slipped into his. “Come my husband our journey is not yet complete,” John heard Lillis whisper in his ear. Turning to her John grinned, “No my dear, though the powers of Hell lie before us, we shall prevail.” At this Lillis raised her hand which was engulfed in a Holy Fire and she screamed into the ether “This is our world and you shall not have it!”
As Sebastian looked at the silent and still form of his brother he said a prayer. Then looking once more at the still form he said “Through your sacrifice, is our protection granted, guard us well my brother.” Turning he left as John’s body was engulfed in Holy Fire to burn eternally.