Contract of the Dark

contract75x99Vote until March 10, 2014!

In the previous episode, readers voted for L Strider to decide that Aaron and Rune should be allowed to run away while he remained with Mr. Red and Gamma.

Episode 5

Time slowly passes by as L Strider must make a difficult decision.  The young girl Rune quivers at the sight of the grotesque egg that she holds, which keeps her at the mercy of the nefarious Mr. Red.  Every second that passes, it grows larger, as something inside presses against the gray orb.  Soft clicking sounds can be heard just underneath the surface of the shell, as the miniature beast takes shape.  Cracks form on the top of the egg, making her nervously squeak.  Whatever the creature is that dwells inside the basketball sized globe, it plans on making her its first meal. 

Making matters worse, an enraged Gamma stands just down the street.  Maddening eyes of his nightmarish illusions swarm around him in a cyclone of chaos.  Slowly, his body becomes cocooned in their blood-red gaze.  The time for L’s choice is now.

“Red,” Strider barks to the carnivorous karayan, his eyes ablaze, “Let Rune and Aaron go.  I’ll stay.”

A sharpened smile spreads across Mr. Red’s face, as his plan plays out just as he had hoped.  Turning over his shoulder, he motions for Rune to leave.  She hesitates at first, fearing that the slightest misstep will awaken the monstrosity that she cradles between her fingers.  Taking a few careful steps, she is confident enough to scurry to Strider; a teary smile is mixed on her face as she meets him.  He looks down at her like a caring father, wiping the tears from her eyes.  Then, he steps past her, stealing the pulsing egg from her.  Rune tries to stop him, but he simply pushes her away.

“Aaron,” Strider speaks calmly, yet coldly, “Take Rune and get as far away from here as possible.”

Fellmind regrettably nods, as he understands the elder karayan’s feelings for the young pair.  Taking Rune by the hand, he begins running.  The entire time, Rune does not take her eyes off of L, even as his image shrinks in the distance, and vanishes over the horizon.

With the egg in tow, L Strider confronts Mr. Red, who, in turn, chuckles, “Now that those brats are out of the way, there shouldn’t be anything holding you back; right, Alpha?”

“No, there isn’t,” Strider answers, acknowledging the name ‘Alpha’ as his own.  “And my name is L Strider now.  I threw that name away; just like you did, Beta.”

“True, true,” Mr. Red shrugs, knowing that his abandoned name is ‘Beta’.  “It seems out of the three of us, only Gamma has kept his original name.”

“Speaking of that little lunatic,” L remarks, glancing down the street, “How are we going to deal with that?”

During their exchange of words, the encasing of swirling eyes that surrounds Gamma has swollen to the size of a bus.  Suddenly, a massive wolf-like paw breaks through the cocoon, freeing the monstrosity the childish karayan has become.  Gamma has mutated into a werewolf-like beast, fused with other animals that humans have come to fear.  A series of spider-like tendrils squirm from his spine, writhing around uncontrollably.  The creature’s serpentine tail slithers back and forth along the ground, before smashing into the ground like a hammer.  Letting out a howling hiss, he charges.

At the same time, the egg that Strider has been carrying cracks open, leaving a large hole at the top.  Inside, he sees an enormous yellow eye staring back at him.  Strange clicking sounds, as well as insect-like hisses escapes through the hole.  Before the beast can make a meal out of him, Strider hurls the hatchling at Gamma.  The monstrous karayan is startled when he is struck by the newborn creature, as he stops mid-run.  However, hopes that the hatchling can stop him are short lived, as Gamma easily crushes the little beast with a single swipe of his paw.  Green goo squirts all over Gamma’s fur-covered paw.  Shaking off the slime left by the bug beast, he resumes his charge.

“Well, so much for that,” Strider jokes, as a nervous sweat rolls down his cheek.  “Do you happen to have an idea, Red?”

“I understand.  I will be there shortly,” Mr. Red does not hear L, as he is too busy speaking with someone on a cell phone.  Even as the monstrous Gamma is bearing down on them, he appears calm.  Turning to Strider, he says, “We are lucky that I do.”

Mr. Red steps in front of Strider, into the path of the raging beast.  Glancing up at the monster, he turns his attention to the phone, playing with the buttons.  Judging by the way he handles the phone, it is clear he is not familiar with this sort of technology.  After a few seconds fidgeting with the device, he holds it up towards Gamma.

A calm, yet sharp voice calls out, “Gamma, stop!”

In that moment, he does.  The monstrous form disappears in the form of a blackened cloud, which rolls over Strider and Red.  At first they are blinded by the thick smoke, but it passes quickly.  They see that Gamma has returned to his childish form.  He stares curiously at the phone.  Like Mr. Red, he is not familiar with the technology, but he does recognize the voice that is speaking to him.  There is only one human that can control the nightmarish karayan.

“Gamma, please follow Mr. Red,” Raphael speaks over the phone.  “Make sure that L Strider follows, but do not kill him.”

Gamma nods, understanding the orders, but still is not sure how Raphael can fit in such a small box.  Seeing the destructive karayan behave so obediently has Strider utterly bewildered.

“What in the world just happened?” Strider asks.

“Gamma unquestioningly obeys a human,” Mr. Red answers, placing the cell phone his breast pocket.  “Regardless, it appears that his master, as well as mine wishes to speak with all of us.”

Your master?” L Strider gasps; shocked by the very idea of the carnivorous karayan obeying anybody.

“Please follow me,” Mr. Red exclaims.  “Everything will be explained soon enough.

With Phoenix only a block away, their journey is not far, but is in absolute silence.  A full moon casts a haunting glow over the mighty skyscraper, as the group begins their ascension to the office of the company president.  Once there, they see Vance De Phial sitting precariously at his desk, speaking to someone who lounges in a chair.  The human guest is none other than Raphael Fantassa.  Seeing his master, Gamma immediately approaches Raphael’s side like an obedient dog.

Looking over his shoulder, Raphael smiles, “Ah, you must be L Strider.  It’s a pleasure to meet you.

Strider does not return the hospitality, as his eyes center on Vance.  He asks the young business man, “What do you want with me?”

“It is more what I want,” Raphael interjects.

The elder karayan glares at the young man, but Vance quickly diffuses the tension.  “Enough!  All parties are accounted for.  So then, where should we begin?”  Vote now on what will happen next…

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