Neon Flowers

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Ch.2 A Blooming Lotus

The ruins. There isn’t a place I enjoy less. Nothing but rubble, death and demons. This was where the first attacks were, it used to be a sizable part of the city, but that was before Hunters, and before Lotus had the tech to keep the demons at bay. Now it’s just a mass of rubble, a reminder of what we Hunters are here to prevent.

I speak into my integrated radio system, “Rourke, have you spotted anything?”

“Nothing yet, just a few bones scattered here and there,” Rourke whispers back.

“Keep your guard up, even with your night-eye upgrades,” I warn. “Demons love to cloak themselves in darkness like this.” I peer into the distance, crouched on top of a ruined smokestack. Even from this distance, watching Rourke isn’t an issue with my telescopic vision. Suddenly, I see a shadow dart out of a destroyed building about a dozen yards behind Rourke.

“Behind you Rourke, about twelve yards back, to your left,” I say.

“I see it, a heat signature on my HUD,” Rourke responds. I watch as the figure creeps closer towards Rourke. The figure leaps and dives toward Rourke, Rourke ducks, dodging the attack and the figure crashes into the ground in front of him, Rourke draws his blade and faces it.

“It’s an Imp,” Rourke reports, The Imp stands and screeches at Rourke, then it turns and runs into the darkness.

I talk into my radio, “not what we’re here for, don’t chase it,” I watch as Rourke slowly sheaths his sword.

“Alright,” Rourke continues to move forwards. “Can you remind me what exactly we’re doing again Aikawa-sensei?” Rourke asks. “I don’t see how us being split up like this is advantageous,”

“The one we’re hunting is smart. Honestly, it’s probably watching you right now, it knows what it’s doing. If it saw or sensed us both, it would probably retreat or hide.” I say, still keeping track of Rourke.

“So, I’m just the bait then?” Rourke asks, chuckling.

“Essentially yes, but if I didn’t think you could handle yourself I would’ve turned the job back in and picked something a little less risky,” I say. “If you’d like, we can switch places.” I offer Rourke.

“Good to know you’re still in a joking mood,” Rourke responds. “Where is it anyways, if it’s watching, shouldn’t it have attacked by now? I’m not seeing anything that big on my HUD.” Rourke asks.

“Our electronics won’t be able to pick it up, it’s hiding itself right now.” I respond. “Didn’t I say these demons love to cloak themselves in darkness?”

Rourke shakes his head, “yeah, still, shouldn’t we be searching the buildings or something Aikawa-sensei? Wandering around the street doesn’t seem like it’s doing anything.” Rourke says to me.

“No, getting caught in a cramped building is the last thing you want. Especially against this. Keep walking, it’ll get hungry enough eventually,” I say to Rourke, quickly scanning the environment around him.

“Alright Aika-” I see a thick web suddenly shoot out of one of the buildings near Rourke and pull him into the building, he falls and thrashes around, unable to escape the net of webbing.

“Rourke?!” I call into my radio. Rourke doesn’t respond. I cuss to myself as I jump from the smokestack. I slide down its side, using my synthetic claws to slow my descent. Running through the ruined streets, I make my way to where Rourke was. I can see his signal on my HUD. Standing on the street where Rourke was taken, I switch to my thermal view and quickly scan the houses around me. I see Rourke’s silhouette in a nearby building, and rush inside. Inside, I see Rourke being dragged into what appears to be a huge hole in the floor of the ruined building. I run forwards and reach for Rourke, barely missing as he slips into the black void below.

“I guess I’m out of options,” I peer down into the hole, then jump feet first into the darkness.

I hit the ground with a soft thud. I activate my night eye augments, and look around. It looks like I’m in a large cave of some kind, I see Rourke being dragged into a tunnel at the far end of the cave. I move to follow him, sprinting to reach the tunnel. Midway across the long room of the cave, Something large swings at me from the ceiling of the cave and knocks me onto my back. Eight glittering eyes and a large pair of fangs stare at me.

“I sssee... Anotherrr... Motherrrr will eat good toniggght.” The spider rears up on its legs and prepares to strike me. Before its fangs come down, I roll backwards and onto my feet.

“You won’t live to see the end of tonight,” I say, drawing my blade and lowering into a battle stance. The spider hisses and lunges, fangs bared. I side step its attack and slash at its legs, cutting through two. The spider hisses in pain and spins, lunging at me again. I duck under the spider and thrust upwards, impaling it. The spider tumbles forwards, taking my blade with it. It gets up and crawls towards the tunnel with my blade still impaled in its thorax.

“Motherrrrr... Thissss oneee... Musssst... Warrrn Motherrrrr.” The spider hisses weakly, continuing to slowly crawl forwards, Neon green blood leaking from its cut legs and thorax. I walk towards the spider and activate the blades in my forearm, with a robotic vshhh, a blade slides up and out of the side of my right forearm. I bring my arm down on the spider’s head and its head splits open with a loud crunch. The spider lets out an ear splitting screech and flails it’s legs. I pull my arm from the spider’s head, the blade attached to my forearm dripping in its neon green blood, and the spider’s legs drop lifelessly to the floor. I pull my sword from it’s thorax and wipe the blood off.

“Now to find Rourke,” I say, sheathing my sword and retracting my forearm blade. Just as I begin to run towards the tunnel, I hear the scuttling of hundreds of legs growing louder and louder from the tunnels entrance. Suddenly, dozens of giant spiders burst out of the tunnel, crawling along the floor, wall and ceiling.

“Musssst... Prrrrotect Motherrrrr... Mussst feed Motherrrr,” The spiders chant, rushing towards me with surprising speed.

“Damn. Rourke, you’re gonna have to wait,” I say. Pulling up a holo-display on my HUD, I disengage the locks on my left hand. With a loud click, my hand unhinges and a mini-gun barrel emerges from my arm. I disengage my night eye augments. I hear the spiders continuing to rush forwards from all angles. I step back and raise my arm towards the rapidly approaching spider hoard. The barrel at the end of my arm starts to rotate, I brace my left arm with my right arm, and fire into the horde. The cavern is filled with light, the bright muzzle flair illuminating the first few rows of spiders being torn apart by my hail of bullets. The deafening screech of spiders being torn to pieces and the roar of the mini-gun attached to my am drowns out my thoughts. I fire endlessly, round after round, into the horde, only stopping when the screeches of pain end and the scuttling of legs quiets. When the cave grows silent, I active my night eye augments, and see the dead bodies of giant spiders and their neon green blood coating the floor and walls of the cave.

“Lets hope there isn’t more where they came from,” I say. I pull up another holo-display on my HUD and deactivate my mini-gun. The smoking mini-gun barrel slides back into my forearm, and my hand snaps back onto my arm, locking in place with an loud click. I run towards, and into the tunnel, trying not to trip over spider corpses or slip on their blood. The tunnel winds deeper and deeper into the ground, occasionally branching off into empty, smaller, web filled rooms. Following the winding path of the tunnel, I emerge in a huge, glowing cavern. The cavern has multiple levels, with two ramps leading down to the bottom floor. Along the sides of the cavern, there are multiple levels of long shelves that run the entire length of the caverns walls.

“I see my loyal sons and daughters were no match for you,” a regal sounding female voice booms throughout the cavern. “You’ve come to retrieve your companion, have you not?” An enormous shadow slowly slinks down from the ceiling of the cavern, “You needn’t worry about him, he’s still quite alive.” The voice laughs.

The demon reveals itself, casting away its blanket of shadow. Its an enormous spider, easily thirty or forty feet tall, but with the head of a human female. Its face consists of eight human eyes, each in a different color. Instead of fangs, it has four human limbs, each one ending in a sharp, hardened fang. Its mouth is filled with rows of sharp teeth. Its body is that of an normal spider, but instead of legs, it has eight, large, human limbs, at the end of each is a huge, grotesque, human hand with long, and sharp black nails. Smaller spiders crawl all over her, scuttling in and out of the many holes inside of its body.

“I’ve got him right here,” it reaches into one of the bigger holes in its body, and pulls out Rourke, now fully wrapped in a cocoon.

“We’ve come to slay you,” I say, drawing my blade.

“Yes, I’m well aware. Many have come before you, and those many were eaten. Whatever remained used as nests for my little ones,” it purrs. “Still, I’ve a deal for you, little hunter. Your friend here has a mechanical body, he is of no use to us. Nothing to eat, and my little ones don’t enjoy sleeping on cold metal. Give us yourself, for us to feed on and breed in, and I shall let this one live.” it swings Rourke’s body around in the air, toying with him.

“And if I decline your deal?” I ask, gripping my sword.

“Then you both die,” it responds. “You, by my hand, ripped apart slowly so that I may enjoy your pain and stupidity. Your companion, pulled apart bit by bit by my children,” it hisses.

“I have another deal,” I say. “Me and my companion kill you and all the remaining children you have left, then we leave with your head in a bag.”

Fear flashes in the demons eyes, quickly replaced by rage, “Fool! You shall have no mercy. Rip them apart my children!”

“Rourke!” I shout as large spiders emerge from cracks along the wall and from inside the demons body.

Rourke’s cocoon is suddenly slashed to bits, Rourke falls and lands on the ground below with his sword drawn.

“Good to see you made it, Aikawa-sensei,” Rourke yells, slashing the nearest spiders to bits.

A spider lunges at me, and I slice it down the middle.

“It’ll be better to see this demon dead,” I say, slashing my way through waves of spiders, and making my way to Rourke.

“More! Overrun them! Feast on their bodies!” the demon yells, raising its arms up and summoning more spiders.

Rourke and I find our way to each other amid the sea of spiders and blood.

“Did you already use your left arm?” Rourke shouts, cutting through three lunging spiders with one clean slice.

“Yes, it’s still cooling down,” I respond, throwing my hand in a sweeping motion. My hand flies off and cuts through a few spiders, before zipping back to my wrist.

“I guess this is on me then, can you hold them off for a second?” Rourke asks, impaling a spider on his blade, then kicking it off with his foot.

“Of course I can,” I say, ducking under two lunging spiders and slicing a third in half.

Rourke turn and runs up the ramp leading back to the entrance. He turns back around, then jumps, hovering above the ground, “Get back!” he shouts, and I dive towards him. Four missile launchers, each containing nine mini-missiles, pop out of Rourke’s back. He shouts, and a barrage of missiles launch from his back, each leaving a trail of smoke. The missiles fly and explode in the sea of spiders, the ground beneath us shakes as each missile blows hundreds of spiders to bits. Rourke lands on the ground next to me.

“My children!” The demon screeches, “You’ll pay for killing so many of my sweet children!” it jumps from the ceiling onto the floor with a loud crash. A huge cloud of dust rises and fills the cave, then is blown away by a piercing screech.

“We’ve really made her mad,” Rourke says, drawing his blade.

“Let’s finish it before it can finish us,” I dash forwards and leap into the air, my heel spring augments launch me up and forwards. The demon swings at me with two clenched fists. I twist my body and swing my sword, cutting its fists into chunks. It shrieks in pain and recoils, blood pouring from its wrists. Pulling its cut hands back, it holds up another another pair of hands, and a razor-sharp net of webs suddenly rises in front of me. Rourke leaps up from under me and cuts the net down the middle with an uppercut motion. I nod to him, then throw my hand forwards, aimed at the demon’s head. My blade impales one of the demons eyes, and the demon reels back, letting out another screech. It raises its arms to guard its face. With my sword still lodged in the demon’s face, I pull on my hand, using my cable to fling me up and forwards towards the demons head. I retract my cable, and my hand returns to me. Blade in hand, I grip my sword over my head with both hands and pull my legs into my body. Flying down towards the demon’s head, I bring my blade down with the full weight of my body, and pierce through the demons head. I quickly rip out my blade and jump back. The demon lets out a cry of agony and falls to the floor, its body still thrashing and flailing in pain. Rourke rushes forwards, dodging the blows being rained down on the cavern floor by the dying demon’s arms. Rourke draws his arms back, and dashes forwards. With a few quick, and powerful cuts, he severs the demon’s head. Its head falls to the floor, and its body goes limp. Rourke picks up the demon’s head by its hair.

The demon, still just barely alive, screeches at us. “You... You’ll die... Just like the rest...” The demon laughs, eyes twitching, blood dripping from its eyes, neck, and mouth. “All alone... Alone and ignorant...” The demon hisses and cackles, each eye twitching, moving and rolling in different directions. Rourke stabs his blade through its head, and the demon lets out a final hiss before quieting.

“I think we’ve had enough of that,” Rourke says, pulling his blade out and dropping the dead demon’s head on the floor. Rourke gestures to the body of the demon. “It’s gonna take a lot more than just us to clean this.”

I sheath my blade. “Yes, let’s call the clean up crew in.”

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