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The Dark Twin Chronicles:
Taste of Blood Part 2
By means of Myths n’ Wraiths

    Grim faces stared up at Myth when he entered the small lobby that The Dogs of War used as their conference room. He ignored them as much as he was able and made his way to the front of the small group. Once he occupied his usual chair at the head of the table Myth met each of his four team members with a long deliberate stair.
    Desimus’s gaze was as unwavering as ever. The hulking black man, which had saved Myth and Saundra in the alley, had a mood that was as invulnerable as his flesh. Anarchy Soldier’s mood, on the other hand, could be read like a book. The former Special Ops soldier looked mad enough to eat nails.
Dead Eye, a weapons expert that had served with Anarchy in the armed forces, had a mixed look of disdain and confidence etched into his battle hardened face. Valdien, despite the fact his face was shrouded in a low hanging hood, filled the room with a brooding and disappointed atmosphere with his empathic ability.
“Job well done,” Myth said decidedly.
“Like Hell,” Anarchy shot back bitterly. “We blew the piss out of two residential buildings and killed over twenty people.”
“Twenty-two Skulls!” Myth countered emphatically, rising up out of his seat. “Skulls that were on Bloodlust’s payroll, I might add. Now we all knew the rules of engagement. Anyone working with our target or who may be feeding information to our target must be detained. So someone explain to me, if you could, how we would have been able to detain twenty-two homicidal family killers?” Myth glared once again at his four team mates.
“We could have tried something else,” Valdien spoke up in his monotone voice. “You could have allowed me to remove you and Saundra from the fight and we could have simply avoided the mobs all together.”
    “I wish that were true Valdien,” Myth said, the edge fading from his voice. “The Skull spotted us as soon as they hit the street, and if we simply disappeared from the alley they would have known how we did it. We can not afford that at this stage. We’ve got only one shot at this. Bloodlust has to know that someone is after him but he doesn’t know who and that is the only thing we have going for us.
    “It is crucial that when we do face him that we have the full element of surprise on our side. Teleportation is not a common technology, generally speaking only gifted individuals can do it. Explosives on the other hand have been around since the Chinese invented gunpowder. So as distasteful as that whole situation was it was necessary.”
     “I hear what you’re saying, Myth,” Deadeye spoke up, “It’s just that you always seem to take it to the hairy edge, man. You know as well as anyone that I don’t mind turnin’ some Skulls into crispy critters, but bloody Hell, what if those buildings had people in them?” the soldier said, rubbing his fingers through his curly dark hair and taking a long drag from his cigarette.
    “I wouldn’t have had you do it if the buildings were occupied, Deadeye,” Myth said reassuringly to the explosives expert. “Look, I know that setting those explosives was a lousy move all around but it was the only option we had… and it worked.” To this none of the team members had a response.
    “Besides, what we did today is nothing compared to what Bloodlust has done to each and every one of us. We knew we were going to have to get our hands dirty on this one.” Myth said in a low serious tone, then he gave his men a moment to reflect.
    “So,” Anarchy finally spoke up. “How is Saundra?”
    “She’s fine,” a clear even female tone rang across the room and the whole team turned to see Saundra standing in the doorway. “Thanks to you.” she said, looking at the team of gifted men.
    “I’m glad to hear it,” Myth said, rising from his seat in a classic gentlemanly manner. “Perhaps since you’re here you can give the briefing in person.”
    “Certainly,” Saundra replied, moving to the head of the table behind Myth. “I have reason to believe that Bloodlust has been back in Paragon for at least two months.” She began in a confident and authoritative tone. “Last week he put two of the Talos Island Security Chief’s people in the hospital along with a hero.”
    “Talos, if he can move around there he can make it anywhere in Paragon,” Deadeye said with more than a little concern.
    “Believe me gentlemen, if Bloodlust got it into his head to sit down and eat breakfast with Statesman himself he would find a way, and everyone’s favorite hero would never be the wiser.” Saundra said knowingly.
    “So where has he set up shot?” Anarchy questioned, his mood still sour.
    “I don’t know where he is,” Saundra replied evenly. “But I do know where he is going to be. Two days ago one of my agents was able to overhear a Circle of Thorn Mage speaking of a meeting he was supposed to have with a “blood god” that had promised to deliver Paragon into the hands of the Thorns.”
    “How can you be sure that it’s Bloodlust?” Valdien asked in his even tone.
    “Because the Mage also said that this blood god had been here before and that he required an offering of an ‘undomesticated citizen’; a homeless person.” Saundra explained. “It fits Bloodlust’s M.O. He has gotten very wary since he was here last. He has others doing his hunting for him and even then he only goes for people that are not likely to be missed.”
    “Not to mention the fact that Bloodlust is the only known villain who can make it through the war walls and security checkpoints that even remotely resembles a blood god,” Myth added.
    “I don’t know why he would return to Paragon but there is no doubt that he has,” Saundra said grimly. “And this will probably be the only chance we will have of catching him before he tries, once again, to throw our city into chaos.”
    “I wouldn’t worry ‘bout that, Ma’am,” Deadeye said with a wicked sneer.
    “Damn skippy,” Anarchy chimed in.

    Sewers, Myth thought to himself. Why did it have to be in the sewers?
    It had been over ten years since Myth had lost his parents in the sewers of Paragon and there was very little that he still remembered from that dark day. When he had been under the care of the G.I.F.T. organization, the psychics there told him that he was subconsciously suppressing the memories, but he often wondered if they were not aiding in that suppression with their mental abilities in an effort to make him more manageable. After all the only difference between him and his brother had been that his brother was never able to put the memories of that day behind him, and look how much trouble… No, Myth scolded himself. Stay focused; don’t go there.
    With the aid of Desimus’s muscle, the team had made short work of the secured door that blocked off the abandoned sewers network from the upper pipes and filed into the dark reeking air that filled the old pipe system.
    “Dunno why they call this place the ‘abandoned’ sewers,” Anarchy whispered when the team came up on a group of strange sludge monsters that looked very much like the hydras that could be found in Perez Park. “This place is teeming with baddies.”
    “We need to avoid any confrontation,” Myth ordered emphatically. “Is there a way around?” he asked Deadeye.
    The weapons specialist consulted a GPS that he had loaded a rare map of the area into and quickly came up with an alternate rout. “If we take that pipe line that we a passed about twenty yards back, it should bring us back to the main tunnel a hundred yards down from the Hydras.”
    The team proceeded cautiously through the mind numbingly dank tunnels, avoiding the occasional group of Hydra and the random cult of Circle of Thorn that met in this death ridden place. They had managed to make it nearly half a mile into the network before they came upon a group of strangely armored creatures with humanoid bodies and large flat heads, which had congregated in a major pipe junction.
    “Rikti,” Valdien whispered anxiously. “I had heard that groups of them still roamed down here but I never imagined that there were so many of them.”
    There were at least a dozen of the alien creatures hunkered down along the catwalks, conversing silently in their native telekinesis. Around their heads swooped several small oval shaped drones with thin sensors protruding from their underbelly and dome, and around their feet skittered many spindly creatures not much larger than a monkey.
    “Is there any way around?” Myth asked.
    “No,” Deadeye responded in a hollow voice that seemed to anticipate an impending conflict. “That junction room connects every pipe large enough to crawl through in the area.”
    “Sometimes the only way is through conflict,” Desimus spoke up in his thickly accented native tone, quoting the first part of the team’s unofficial motto.
    “I hope you’re not afraid to fight,” Anarchy Soldier finished the quote, with a smirk edging its way onto his lips.
    Myth’s mind scanned the situation, taking in the avenues of attack, the firepower that both sides possessed, the skill and experience that would play a role in the attack and even accounting for the element of surprise. All things considered, things did not look good for his team.
    “A couple of trip mines would-“ Deadeye began to speak.
    “No,” Myth cut in. “We are too close to our objective, we can’t risk scaring Bloodlust or the Circle of Thorn off with explosions.”
    “So what’s the plan?” Anarchy asked, trying to hold back his anticipation of the fight.
    “We’re going to…” Myth began to speak but then his voice trailed off as a dark and foreboding presence filled the tunnels of the abandoned network. By the way Valdien seemed to shrink back into the shadows; it was evident that he felt the presence too.
    “What is it?” Anarchy whispered, seeing the look of consternation on his young leader’s face.
    Someone, or something, is coming, Myth mentally projected to his team, abandoning verbal communication and beckoning his men to fall back to a small side pipe. The team made their way into the pipe where they hid in the dark murky shadows, and waited.
    Moments passed in slow anticipation as the brooding presence grew stronger in Myth’s mind. His young eyes pierced the darkness of the tunnel in a silent search for the body that housed such a dark heart but he could see nothing. The presence grew until it felt as if it was hovering mere feet from Myth’s face but still he could see nothing.
    For a brief moment, Myth thought he could hear the sound of light footsteps passing slowly through the main tunnel system. He cocked his head in an attempt to listen more closely but the noise quickly faded into the sound of waves of sewage slapping against the sides of the concrete moat that ran along the center of the main pipe.
    Slowly, the ominous presence began to pass from Myth’s and Valdien’s minds replaced by a gentle wave of mental solitude. The young leader was about to move his team out into the main tunnel system again when the sound of scraping metal echoed through the area.
    Sneaking up to the entrance of the small tunnel that he was hiding in, and pressing his body up against the slimy sewer wall, Myth glanced around the corner and down toward the group of Rikti, where the sound was coming from.
    The reason for the noise was painfully obvious; a large drain pipe that hung from the ceiling of the junction room had been closed by a steel hatch. That hatch was now opening, seemingly of its own accord. The Rikti in the room barely had time to look up before a flood of raw sewage gushed into the room. The sewage washed over the Rikti and brutally swept them into some of the many pipes that ran from that room.
Even the flying drones were caught by the pouring flood. Their sturdy shells cracked under the pressure of tons of sewage slamming down on them and they began to spark and explode as the fluid leaked into their core and soaked their electrical components.
The overflow from the junction room began to quickly flood the main pipe that the Dogs of War had been traveling through. In a matter of seconds the level of sewer water would rise and begin to fill the small tributary tunnel that Myth and his team were now hiding in.
Myth quickly reached outside the tunnel and grabbed hold of the hatch that hung open at the mouth of the tunnel and pulled the rusty door shut. With the aid of Desimus, the hatch was quickly sealed, leaving the group of mutants in utter darkness.
Anarchy’s voice could be heard over the sound of the rushing water that coursed outside their small tunnel as he cursed their luck. “What just happened?” He said furiously. “These tunnels have ghosts in them or something?”
“Ghosts that get off by suddenly popping open old sewer mains?” Deadeye shot back. Not unlike the rest of them, the soldier was frustrated by this strange and damning turn of events but pointless ranting only served to annoy him more.
“Look,” Myth spoke up, quieting his team. “I don’t know what just happened but the flood won’t last forever. All the pipes in the abandoned network were sealed off from the reservoirs above so once that sewer main empties itself, the flood will subside and we’ll be able to go back out the way we came.
“Are you sure you want to go back out the way we came?” Valdien questioned. His usual monotone voice slightly elevated by adrenaline and uncertainty. “Something is out there; something that will obviously go to great lengths to clear this part of the sewers from all intruders.” Valdien said, referring to the ominous presence that had been so prevalent just prior to the flood.
“What is he talking about?” Anarchy broke in. “What is out there?”
“I don’t know!” Myth snapped at his team. “But I am not going to be jumping to any conclusions,” he continued in a more controlled tone. “When the flood subsides, we are going to open this door and we are going to proceed to our target.” Myth stated emphatically.
“If our targets are still around after this,” Deadeye muttered.
“His rendezvous point is still a half a mile away and even if he does hear this commotion, water mains must bust down here all the time. Hopefully he will not be alarmed,” Myth reasoned. It sounded reasonable enough when he spoke the words but even Myth found himself doubting the success of their mission more and more with every passing moment.
Sitting in the cold penetrating darkness of that small tunnel Myth found he almost welcoming the brutal flood that now filled the tunnel outside their hatch over that dark presence that had preceded it. It was not fear that filled his mind, but foreboding. He had not met anyone he was afraid to confront for as long as he could remember and this person or thing was no different but there was something strange about this presence; something awkward… and painfully familiar.
After several minutes the sound of rushing water finally subsided and silence once again filled the dark tunnels. For cautions sake Myth waited a moment longer, to ensure that the pipes had indeed emptied themselves, then motioned for Desimus to open the hatchway.
No sooner had the tank grasped hold of the handle that released the hatch than that same brooding presence permeated Myth’s mind.
“No,” Myth warned Desimus but it was too late. The tank had already opened the hatchway and tossed the door open.
 There, dripping in filth, was a powerfully built man. His face was shrouded by his long dark hair and his fists were raised slightly at his sides, clenched so tight that the knuckles were stood out as a pale white compared to his dark olive skin. His medium size frame rippled in tight muscles as he crouched slightly in front of Desimus’s massive form.
Seeing a man ready to strike, Desimus charged the slighter man on instinct. To those who watched from behind the tanker’s broad shoulders however, the certainty of Desimus’s strength never seemed as doubtful as it did when faced by this stranger’s feral attitude.

Taste of Blood 3

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