CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE
Jonathon overcame the shock of the violence that hit him as he emerged from the gate. He stood still as stared as he realised that now was the time, his moment. Anger began to boil in his blood as he wrenched
away part of the heavily chewed door frame he stood in. Grasping the make shift club in both hands he threw caution to the wind and sprinted towards the unmistakable figure of Silus Flax, silhouetted against the flaring bloody light of the combat which took place in the Underworld, the only one which filled his vision now.
He had seen the Turkanschoner ripping into the fight, he had seen Rislo fall in a hail of bullets. He imagined Milly there. He focussed on Flax.
Kicking his way frantically through the swarming rats, Jonathon advanced rapidly upon him. This was his opportunity to settle his score and this time his courage did not fail him. He gritted his teeth and sprinted hard, hurdling the sprawled bodies of High Hats to bear down on him adversary, who with his back to Jonathon, despatched the last of the Tallmen assassins.
Flax turned to find his High Hats totally submerged in the undulating tide of razor toothed rodents. A familiar scent hit his nose and he began to slobber and grin like a lunatic. He turned to face its source him and raised the muzzle of his weapon toward Jonathon.
He roared with laughter.” My boy! My beautiful, beautiful boy! Where have you been!”
He pulled the trigger. The automatic rifle clicked unimpressively. Flax’s sneer of triumph turned to a look of abject horror as Jonathon hurtled into him, one blow from the make shift club sending Flax into a dark void of unconsciousness and crushing top hat flat.
Jonathon panted breathlessly as he stood astride the now helpless man who had tormented and destroyed his life and many of those he loved. Images of those he had loved and Flax had ruined flashed through his mind. His Mother, his Father, his Grandfather, Dale and Tefkin, all had died because of this monsters evil aspirations.
With just one well aimed blow he could now discharge the oath he had sworn against this evil creature and avenge all those from whom Jonathon had been torn by death. Jonathon took the club in both hands and raised it slowly above Flax’s skull. Just one well aimed blow.
Flax moaned, rolled his eyes and raised himself upon one arm then fell back unconscious. Jonathon spat on his upturned face and threw away the club in disgust at himself. He would not, even for a few seconds, become all he despised in Flax.
To kill a helpless man, even one like Flax, in this manner was not the way he would release himself from his oath. No, Flax would perish with this foul city and remained entombed here, death would release his spirit and escape was perhaps possible. Flax and its putrid corrupting spirit would fall together into the Power Reservoir of Rislo’s Field Imploder. It was were they belonged, together, lost in the eternity of nothingness.
Jonathon became aware of the brooding silence that had arisen around him. The sound of gunfire ceased. The sound of the rats feverish feeding had halted, the wailing of the City’s anguished soul had abated too.
The wind which had arisen so strangely had dropped to no more than a hushed whisper around him. The arc-lamps which where still functioning cast there beams upward towards the ceiling above, the drifting dust captured within them sparkling brightly as it spiralled toward the battlefield of the cobbled street, contrasting with the grey columns of smoke which rose up from the laser scorched bodies of unfortunate High Hats.
Time seemed to standstill.
Jonathon stared around him at the millions of pairs of rubies which burned in the half light, a blanket which spread as far as he could see in all directions, filled every ledge, lined every door frame, every vantage point, filled with the bloody luminescent eyes of the rats.Millions of pairs of eyes. But only one mind looked through them. They watched him as if paralysed. Watched as if helpless, as if stunned. The rats sat immobile as Jonathon walked between them toward the Turkanschoner and the wounded Rislo.
Jonathon trembled in the silence which had become like a pressure around him. He turned and looked at the helpless Flax who had begun to crawl around in a concussed state.
Jonathon’s hatred of Flax rose in him again. A voice began to chant in his head.
“Kill him, kill him, kill him, kill him.Kill him, kill him, kill him, kill him” He gasped as he began to move back towards Flax, he was losing control now. He knew what was happening; it was the same as on the roof tops many years ago. Here they came again, the corrupted spirits of the dead had joined the malignant soul of the city, a great gathering of evil wraiths had invaded the bodies of the rats and now implored him to kill, to taint himself, to become one with them.
Yes, he had killed here in Dubh, but out of compassion and virtue, never in the cold blood as they, and corruption itself, now demanded.
A strong arm fell on his shoulder.
“Bad, bad, bad.” a voice growled “Leave here quick.” Jonathon turned away shaking his head to clear his mind of the murmur of voices which had arisen to beseech him to kill Flax.
He held his head in his hands and the voices grew in volume and intensity. Sweating, shaking almost uncontrollable he whirled around and screamed;
" NO! ”
As Jonathon’s voice reverberated around the Dubhian underworld and the voices inside of him, his anger and desire to kill Flax fled. From somewhere and everywhere a dull boom sounded and, then above and below ground level the mournful howl of the City’s corrupt soul rose again with a desperate vigour, and from somewhere deep in the bowls of the earth the dark wind rose into a fury, roaring upwards and striking Jonathon and his comrades so hard they were thrown from their feet. The ruins around them trembled as powerful shocks hit Dubh and the rats now fled in terror towards the liquid darkness that advanced upon Jonathon.
The Turkanschoner lifted Rislo’s limp form gently onto his shoulder and urged his master into retreat. Jonathon looked uneasily at the motionless giant and feared the worst.
Sprinting across the street, fighting against the rising gale, Jonathon followed the Turkanschoner to the ruin where the Field Imploder was positioned. In the doorway a figure appeared, it was Milly Jonathon realised. A surge of cleansing emotion filled him and exorcised the remnants of corruption which still bit into his soul. Tears of joy ran down his cheeks.
He had feared he would never see her again despite the Turkanschoner’s casual confidence in finding her. When he had emerged back into the Underworld he had imagined her dead in the fray. He flew towards her embraced her tightly.
" Yes! ” he screeched. Here was power which would defeat the corruption which now flowed and howled in dark rivers in the city streets above and plummeted downwards in a last desperate attempt to rid itself of Jonathon and all it despised in him.
Another powerful tremor tore threw Dubh shaking Jonathon back to the task in hand. Milly grabbed his arm and pulled him through a door way through which the Turkanschoner had taken Rislo.
As his eyes became accustomed to the dim light of the hovel, Jonathon’s eyes came to rest on the glittering network of tubes and pipes that been constructed in the ruined building. It was as he had seen it before in Rislo’s hide-away, only the top of the construction was incomplete, a shallow dish-like space clearly visible amongst incomplete glasswork. A few pieces of remaining tubes lay an the floor beside the machine. Milly looked apologetically at her companions.
“It was so easy to start with but grew harder with every piece instead of easier” she sighed in dismay and Jonathon threw an arm around her shoulders to comfort her.
Rislo moaned and the Turkanschoner laid him gently beside his machine. He coughed painfully and opened his eyes gazing at his machine with affection. “Only the power reservoir and you would take me to the peace I seek.” he smiled and caressed the glittering tubes of his construction with blood stained hands. Jonathon crouched down beside his weakening comrade and looked into his eyes.
“But the final pieces, how do they fit?” he whispered gently. Rislo’s eyes widened in shock at Jonathon, he had not expected to see the person he had planned to desert again. The giant stared painfully at him.
“Forgive me” he wept. “Forgive me, I would have sacrificed you all.” he coughed raggedly. Jonathon shook his head.
“It does not matter now my friend. This city corrupts all in its midst eventually, there is nothing to forgive.”
Rislo’s eyes rolled, threatening unconsciousness, but Jonathon gripped his shoulders and shook him gently back. He continued, guilty that he was not allowing the giant to slip gently away into the peace he so desired, but he still needed the Tallman’s help.
“The final pieces Rislo? How do we assemble them ….and where is the power reservoir? ”
The dying Tallman shook his head.
“The final pieces ... no importance.” he said glancing over the machine. “The machine ...will work...Field Walls ... so unstable, so drained ...they cannot resist, already they moan, have heard them.” he croaked his breathing becoming shallower and more strained with each painful intake of air. He shook his head in dismay. “All that is needed ...power reservoir, but you do not have time.... to find it now.” his breathing exploded into a spasm of coughing which brought fresh blood to his greying lips.
Rislo’s eyes brightened for a moment and he smiled at Jonathon. “So near, yet so far, my friend...I’m so sorry...” he sniffed tearfully, before his breath rattled in his throat and he slumped against the machine.
Rislo had gone. He had found his freedom; the weakened walls of Dubh could not hold his soul now. Jonathon held his Rislo’s head in his hands, but had no time for the grief which was rising in him. So near so far! He had hoped, above all hope, that Rislo was not right. Had they really run out of time? What now then? The Field Walls still held, but they would not hold for much longer.
The defeated soul of the city was trying to tear them down, to escape into other dimensions when they collapsed completely, but then it would be dispersed and ineffective rather than concentrated through its tool Silus Flax.
Whatever happened now, Jonathon and his friends needed to escape the dimension before its collapse during which they would surely die. Ideally the destruction of the realm through Rislo’s machine was preferable. The energy of the city its corrupted soul and malign spirits would have been imprisoned forever in the Power Reservoir, a Pandora’s box of all Dubh’s evil, safely locked beyond the boundaries of the living dimensions. This had been was Jonathon’s hoped outcome now it seemed that had been dashed.
Outside the shelter of the ruin the howling of the wind and the tormented wailing of voices, was increasing. They taunted Jonathon, mocked him, and accused him of deserting them, murdering them, judging them, damning them. A taloned hand came to rest on Jonathon’s shoulder.
“Master?” the Turkanschoner whispered almost inaudibly against the rising clamour outside. Jonathon turned slowly to the beast that held out a cloth covered package to him.
“Is this what the Tallman spoke of?” the Turkanschoner asked meekly. “I do not trust. Never. I follow his scent, check his deeds. Found this hidden” he explained, as he unwrapped his hidden prize. The Power Reservoir rested in the palm of his hand.
It was a small dark egg shaped object, reflecting nothing. Even the bright flashes of energy that seemed to be tearing Dubh apart now, had no effect on its smooth, matt surface. It drank them in.
Jonathon took it eagerly, his eyes wide in astonishment. He looked to the Turkanschoner and smiled. It was icy cold and heavy, draining away the warmth of his fingers as he stroked it. His heart leapt. Here it was! He looked open mouthed at his servant. Here was the key to the destruction of Flax and all the evil this place had spawned.
Leaping to his feet he felt the thrill of strange power course through him. He lowered the reservoir toward the awaiting dish. He paused a moment and and turned toward the Turkanschoner.
“Take Milly to the gate!” he ordered his servant. “I will follow soon” he shouted. A look of anguish gripped Milly’s face. Jonathon knew what she was thinking. She did not intend being parted from Jonathon so soon again.
She stood firm and folded her arms resolutely across her chest, her lips set firmly in defiance. Jonathon opened his mouth to speak again when a vice like hand closed around his arm and tore the power reservoir from his hand.
It was the Turkanschoner.
“Jonathon go. I stay. I run faster. Wait until you safe. Then I follow.” He stated firmly.
He looked fiercely down at Jonathon. “But....”
“Go now!” Turk barked.
Jonathon observed the determined beast for a moment and smiled.
“Goodbye my friend.” he said. The Turkanschoner nodded his head grimly.
“Go now!” he repeated. And they did.
The Turkanschoner watched the pair sprint from the refuge of the ruin where he stood and struggle through the chaos of the Underworld to the building opposite, where the dim light of the dimension gate to safety still glowed.
He waited for a few moments and turned back to the machine, studying the power reservoir for a few seconds before placing it firmly in position. Then he stepped back.
The machine glowed brightly and a soft hum filled the room. The sphere darkened further.
The Turkanschoner grunted approvingly at the machine and hesitated. He looked at the body of the Rislo and paused for a while, then he picked up the Tallman’s limp body and raised it over his shoulder gently before trotting through the heightening storm outside, toward the gate and the sanctuary of a world he had tasted briefly through the dimension door whose flickering light beckoned across the rubble strewn street.
There lay a promise of peace. He was only seconds away from it now. A short sprint and his life of pain would end and a new one begin, that was all he hoped for….all he had ever hoped for.