Ornelas was fighting for air as the Banshee continued to choke down and drain his life out. Ling was still left barely unconscious and Artemus was too weak to regain his strength. A wild bolt came flying and it shot through the Banshee's palm. It screamed in pain and released its grip on Ornelas as he gasped quickly to regain his breath. Jayce stood in a distance, reunited with his crossbow.
"And here's my favorite type of shot." Jayce smirked, as he fired a straight arrow into the Banshee's left eye. It cried and before Jayce could take out its right eye, a tentacle managed to sweep him off his feet. The tentacle gripped Jayce by his feet and held him 2 feet above the air, as the Banshee reached out for Ornelas with its free arm.
A second flying dagger darted across the hallway and stapled its free arm. The only weapon the Banshee now had left were its treacherous tentacles stemming from its demonic head. Rissa had barely gathered enough strength to toss out her last weapon.
The Banshee turned angrily at Rissa, who was now lying on the floor in a small puddle of blood, helpless and fragile. Five tentacles shot at Rissa, while releasing Jayce on to the floor, each grabbing one of her limbs and one for a neck. It slowly brought Rissa to its face and it growled bitterly at her.
The grip on each tentacle tightened as she screamed in pain.
"Hey, shitface!" Jayce yelled. The Banshee spun around, only to receive a solid bolt to its face. It screamed, only to realize it was nothing but a distraction.
"Not her, you piece of shit!" Ornelas shouted while charging in from behind, armed with his mechanical sword. He leapt and sliced off all five tentacles holding Rissa, releasing her on to the floor. It turned to Ornelas, only to receive a stab through its body as unknown substances oozed out from its mouth and body.
The Banshee was now devitalized and vulnerable. It let out one final cry as Ornelas pulled out the sword and mustered the last bit of his strength.
"Sayonara, monster." Ornelas said with vigor, as he raised his sword and landed a clean slice through its neck. A line of blood formed around its neck as the Banshee's head fell and rolled off on to the floor.
The feud that first sounded its warning at the entrance and begun with Kanith's sacrifice, had finally concluded by the blades and arrows of Viper. Jayce dropped to the floor, exhausted as Ornelas walked quickly over to Rissa to tend to her. He went back to the Banshee's carcass, now motionless, to tear off a piece of cloth from its clothing to wrap around Rissa's wound to stop the bleeding.
Artemus regained his strength and walked by Ornelas while giggling.
"'Sayonara', Sir?" he laughed.
"Well, we are in Japan... I thought it'd be fitting." Ornelas said while chuckling. He held Rissa's face gently as he assured her safety. Rissa smiled sweetly as she gave him a peck on his cheek. Ornelas then stood up and walked around the scattered Viper.
"I don't mean to be a mood killer, guys, but we're almost out of here. This is no time for resting. Get up!" he commanded.
"Yes sir!" the team echoed, all getting back on their feet. Ling had barely regained her consciousness while Ornelas helped Rissa stand on her feet.
According to the map, they had but one final turn before the exit would be in sight. Each Viper member regained their respective weapons as Jayce checked his quiver. It had ten shots left.
"You owe me two bolts, Arty. I saw your misses." Jayce joked.
"I'll buy you a thousand bolts once we get out." Artemus chuckled. The team pressed on towards the exit, only to meet one final challenge. A small squad of Beasts appeared in sight consisting of Reapers, a Sabre, a Bulk and an unknown Beast. Ornelas explained it as one called the Toad, a Beast with an enormous and long tongue, and was capable of spitting out spikes at the speed of an arrow. It was the species of Beast that had wounded Kanith at the granite door.
The Toad was a green, atrocious creature. It was even scalier than Bulks, it was constantly in a squat position and was capable of leaping great distances. Its enormous tongue was also adhesive beyond any known man-made substance was almost impossible to separate once it had landed a target. Besides its crouching position, tongue, and scales, it had looked very much like a giant bullfrog, thus granting it its name.
"I'll take the Reapers. One shot each for all five Reapers." Jayce volunteered.
"I can take out the Sabre." Rissa said. She reassured Ornelas she was in fighting shape when he showed concern.
"Use your whip to trip the Bulk, Ling. I'll land a clean hit on him." Ornelas commanded. Ling nodded as the squad detected them. The Beasts started charging towards them as their plan rolled into action.
Jayce landed five perfect shots as each one of the Reapers fell to the floor. The plan executed as planned as the Bulk was taken out by Ornelas. However as Rissa charged towards the Sabre, her wound acted up and she lost balance as she fell to the floor. Ornelas noticed and immediately rushed to her aid while the Sabre was closing in on her.
He quickly slashed through the Sabre's mouth as the blade landed deep into its head. However it stuck too deep and as the Sabre fell, he lost grip of his sword. A spike came flying from the Toad and was dodged just barely by Ornelas. Ling whipped the Toad to distract it from Ornelas and Rissa as Jayce shot at it. Three shots landed right on point but had barely pierced its thick hide.
The Toad leapt towards Jayce and Ling as they both managed to roll out of its landing.
"We don't have the equipment to take out the Toad. We have to make a run for the exit." Ornelas ordered, as Jayce, Ling and Artemus regrouped with Ornelas and Rissa, having switched positions with the Beasts. The Sabre regained his strength and got up, with the sword still stuck in him.
"Yeah. Yeah, we gotta make a run for it." Jayce agreed. The team turned around and run down the path towards the exit as the two Beasts gave chase. They were closing in on the exit, which was a trapdoor on the ceiling with a long ladder that led up to it. They were about to climb as the Toad regained sight of them and spat out another flying spike aimed at Ling.
She was cornered against a wall and had no space to dodge. Ling then quickly tripped Ornelas, who was beside her, to fall in front of her as a shield. The spike flew and stabbed Ornelas through his waist. His mouth opened with pain but no sound came out.
"You betraying bitch!"Artemus shouted, whilst on the ladder.
"Shut up and get off! I'm getting out of here, with or without you guys!" Ling retorted, while pulling Artemus off the ladder, causing him to fall off the ladder on to the floor.
The situation was in complete chaos. Rissa managed throw one of her dagger to finish off the weakened Sabre but now the Toad was closing in. Jayce did his usual trick of taking out both its eyes, but was quickly alerted by Ling and Artemus. The trapdoor had a virtual lock. It was up to Jayce to unlock it. Ling reluctantly got off the ladder and let Jayce on. He quickly climbed up the ladder and turned around to try to weaken the Toad more with his shots, but realized he had run out of bolts.
"Don't worry about it! We'll take care of it! Just do your thing!" Ornelas shouted. Jayce turned back to the lock and quickly broke through the defenses before the door unlocked.
"Don't forget! It's a virtual lock! The lock will self-destruct once we pass!" Ornelas reminded. Jayce stepped down from the ladder and quickly prompted for Ornelas and Rissa to escape.
"You're injured, Sir! You go first!" Jayce requested.
"No! I'm going first!" Ling insisted.
"You're currently the only one armed! You can slow it down by tripping its legs! I'll get you out once we've gone through the door safely! I promise! You have to trust me!" Jayce replied.
The Toad was closing in fast and Ling reluctantly turned to it and used her whip to trip it as it fell and crashed against the wall beside them. Ornelas, Rissa and Artemus managed to go through the door as Jayce followed closely behind them. The Toad was regaining its position as Ling, now the last member crawled up the ladder but when nearing the exit, a wild tongue from the Toad grabbed her by her leg. Despite being losing its sight, its Beast senses allowed it to locate her.
Ling slipped but managed to hold on to the ladder. She reached out one of her hands for Jayce as she pleaded.
"Please! You said you'd get me out! Please, I didn't mean to betray you guys like that! I just lost my mind in the moment!" Ling pleaded. Jayce was hesitant in the moment as she made one final plead.
"Please, Jayce! I trusted you!" Ling's eyes called out for mercy and Jayce's filled with oblivion.
"Well. I guess you can't trust an ex-criminal." Jayce smirked, as he closed the trapdoor on her.
The last he saw were eyes of tears and regret and last he heard was a sad scream followed by the trapdoor's self destruct and then a familiar silence. Viper was shocked by Jayce's decision but were not angry. Deep down they recognized that Ling was not one worth risking their lives to save.
"You heard her badmouth you on the plane?" Rissa asked.
"I have sharp senses, remember?" Jayce smirked once again.
Viper now sat on the grass field that the trapdoor led to. It was daylight; they had spent an entire night in the base. They were about 200 meters away from the military base building, which the body of the secret base not in sight. They had gone underground without knowing when they entered the secret base. The field was wet and dirty but as the cold wind blew, they felt relief and freedom. However as the wind blew on, they were reminded of the sadness that Kanith was unable to be here to smell the air of freedom with them.
Rissa's tears uncontrollably streamed down her cheeks, her heart filled with sorrow and sadness from the peril and madness they had just went through. Ornelas held her in his arms while consoling her. Her feelings were mirrored in the hearts of each one of them. What was left of Viper sat in silence as the hearts sorted out their emotions and memories of the horrid building.
Minutes ticked by as they had come to accept their life back out in the large, unpredictable world, but not out of the deep danger they were in, by defying the fate the Government had planned for them.
The team was filled with relief that they had escaped. But not unscathed. They had left parts of them in the military base and also brought along not only physical wounds, but heart wrenching memories and emotional scars that they will carry for life.
Clouds floated by as the team looked to the sky, celebrating their escape in their mind but grieving in their hearts. This escape was hard fought for and will not go to waste.
END OF CHAPTER 9