Contract of the Dark

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In the previous episode, it has been left up to L Strider to decide who will get Gamma’s power, Nightmare Fuel. He decides that he, himself, should be given the power.

Episode 9

After taking in a deep breath, Strider quickly releases a long-winded sigh, “Nightmare Fuel has been nothing but a curse. It has driven Gamma to madness, and has corrupted Beta’s heart. I cannot burden anyone else with such a terrible power. This curse shall be my cross to bear.”

“Let’s not rush to judgment too quickly,” Raphael quickly interjects. “You are just as vulnerable of going insane as your little brother. Why not let me become inflicted by this vicious ability? With my intelligence, I stand the best chance of taming it.”

“You no good two-faced,” Aaron lashes out, grabbing Raphael by the neck, “You want to control that power. I ought to kill you, you black-hearted human.”

“Calm yourself, Aaron,” L Strider steps in, placing his hand on the rambunctious karayans shoulder. “While Raphael’s ambitions are in question, he does have a point. He has studied Gamma’s abilities for some time. Regardless, I have made up my mind. My two brothers have caused so much grief. As the eldest, it is my duty to handle their mistakes.”

Raphael is pained to see his desires die, but handles the weight of defeat well, “I understand. That is why I gave you the choice. Very well then, please step over here.”

The mad scientist begins prepping the machinery that will perform the blood transfusion. He has a set of needles pierced into Strider and Gamma’s flesh, crafting a circuit of tubing. L Strider is connected to the tank of blood, and Gamma is connected to him. After giving everything another look-over, Raphael initiates the sequence.

Strider shuts his eyes as the tank slowly dispenses the crimson liquid. The clear tubes turn red with blood, as it flows into his veins. Meanwhile, his own life essence bleeds into another tube, pouring into Gamma, pumping the childish karayan with life. While Raphael studies the machinery carefully, Aaron and Rune wait with bated breath, hoping that the process will be successful. However, they must endure, as the blood flow is gruelingly slow.

Unfortunately, time is of the essence. A sudden clang of metal outside suggests that Omega’s scorpion beasts have broken through the doorway. High pitched screeches fill the facility, as the army of arachnids march inside, hunting them down. Raphael quickly motions for everyone to stay quiet. Hopefully, the bugs will not be able to locate them.

That is not the case. Enormous stingers pierce through the metallic walls, their venom corroding the steel with ease. With their location blown, they must hold out until the process is over. Aaron and Rune rush to the beasts, attacking any appendage that dares to peek through. While Aaron blasts the scorpions with pulse ability, Rune cuts them to ribbon with an assortment of cutlery. But even then it is not enough, for the numbers are simply too great. The scorpions make their way in, ready to consume everything in their sights.

“Fall back, both of you,” Raphael begs, as he tries desperately to speed up the transfusion.

Rune quickly slips away, but Aaron is not quite so lucky. Just as he turns to run, one of the monsters grabs a hold of his ankle, binding him with its pincer. Aaron Fellmind falls flat on his face. Unable to defend himself, he is left to the mercy of the scorpion. It readies its stinger to pump the young karayan full of toxin. Right before it attacks, the beast lets out a painful screech. Looking over his shoulder, Aaron finds a large metallic spike jetting from the ground, piercing the creature.

“That was too close, kid,” says a familiar fatherly voice.

Strider smiles at a shocked Aaron. Youth appears to have returned to his old face, turning back the hands of time so that he looks like a man in his mid-thirties. The once calm crimson eyes he shared with his karayan kin have become a fiercer shade of violet. Darkness dresses him in a long coat that appears to wriggle with life. One by one, the eyes of the nightmarish power open across his cloak. But unlike Gamma and Omega, the eyes do not spin out of control. The multiple eyes appear calm and collected, though they carefully search the surroundings.

“Wow, old man,” Aaron says with surprise, “How are you feeling?”

“Pretty good,” Strider remarks, extending a hand to help Aaron up, “But I don’t think you can call me old anymore.”

“Guess not,” Aaron chuckles, getting pulled to his feet.

Their heartfelt conversation ends prematurely when more scorpions rush into the room. Aaron rushes behind Strider, who stands with absolute confidence. Though he does not move a muscle, a fraction of the darkness breaks away from his coat. It transforms into an enormous black hand. The hand swings and crushes every single scorpion within the room. Everyone watches in awe at the strength Strider now possesses.

Once the darkness returns to him, Strider speaks, “I’m going after Omega alone. Do not follow me…”

Without another word, he leaves. He sets off for the battle that he alone must face, and confront his brother, Omega.

L Strider easily locates the path to the demon karayan. It is one rocked by destruction and death. Bodies of the innocent are strewn across the street, left to feed the growing number of beasts. Scorpions and other horrid monstrosities flood the streets, fighting over scraps of food, or rather, what is left of the corpses. The poor souls never stood a chance against such horrid forces.

Corpses lead the way to Omega. As Strider walks, not one of the beasts dares to attack him. It appears that they too fear his nightmarish power. After much walking, he finds himself in Time Square, where the rubble of destroyed buildings has been forged into a throne. Upon it sits a cruel King, Omega. He appears to bathe in the glory of the malefic destruction that surrounds him. The green eyes of the demon observe the landscape, that is, until they set upon someone approaching him.

“Dear brother, have you come to beg for your life?” Omega hisses, his tongue long and serpentine.

“No,” Strider answers with a smirk. “It is time to put a stop to this, little brother.”

“Stop,” Omega ponders, rising from his throne. “Why would I ever do such a thing? Karayans are the dominant species. Humans should be subservient to us. For that, I shall rule this world.”

“Look around you,” Strider snarls, gazing at the carnage that surrounds them, “This is not ruling, this is chaos!”

“I am king!” Omega howls, causing the heavens above to cry with a bolt of lightning. “I shall treat this world however I wish.”

As he descends the throne, Omega begins to transform. Out of the mouths on his back, he sprouts the large pair of bat wings like before. His body becomes gray like stone, while a series of curved horns break through the skin around his head, becoming a crown. Sprouting from his back is a long, thin tail typically depicted in imagery of devils. He has truly become the devil that he is.

“A demon king,” Strider jests, as he comes face to face with his brother.

Darkness breaks off of Strider’s body once more, transforming into a sword for him to wield. The steel is as black as the night, with the crazed eyes dancing along the blade. Seeing Nightmare Fuel wielded by L Strider throws Omega off.

“You have his power as well?” he asks, hesitant to attack. “No matter, I shall tear you apart!”

He charges straight at his elder brother, Strider, but is only met by the slash of the sword. It cuts into his side, causing him to bleed. Although L draws first blood, he is the one in danger. Black blood spews from the wound, and quickly becomes the maddening darkness of Nightmare Fuel. It transforms into a dark smoke that slithers toward Strider. The sinister eyes spin wildly, as the black smog begins to devour his body.

“I’ll tear you apart,” Omega roars with demonic laughter.

As the cocoon of chaos envelops Strider, it explodes, destroying anything within the sphere. Omega again erupts in his sinister laughter, truly becoming a devil. However, his victory is short-lived when he sees nothing remaining as the dust settles. Even with the level of the explosion, a body should have been left behind.

“Omega!” barks a stern voice.

The demon turns to see L Strider unharmed, standing a distance away. At his side, the nightmarish sword blazes like an intense fire. Like a powerful warrior of old, Strider lunges with the weapon at the ready. Omega tries to stop it in time, but it is of no use. The blade cuts into his chest.

The demonic karayan laughs as black blood leaks from his mouth, “Do you think that a wound like this can kill me?”

Strider says not a word, only smiles. Omega suddenly cries out in pain as the black blood begins to gush from his body, pouring from the wound. The sword that L Strider wields appears to consume the sinister liquid, and in doing so, devouring the demon’s nightmarish ability. In an instant it is all over. The devil falls to his knees, weak and helpless that the terrible power has left his body.

He struggles to get to his feet, only able to crawl away as the elder karayan stands over him. Omega gazes at his older brother through crimson eyes, now that he has returned to normal.

“Wait, brother,” Omega pleads, leaning against the steps to his throne. “Can’t you find it in your heart to forgive me? Alpha, please, forgive me!”    Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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