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Into Erebus
Aria wanted to go up and see Dane. She had questions. Like what the fuck happened? And why the fuck was he back? But she wasn't going to do that. The last thing she needed was to give the Regus and Borovsky a reason to leave her behind, so she sat in her chair and waited while everyone else was duly impressed and horrified at Ascendancy's latest display of power.

Aria could only roll her eyes. Nox was probably fanboying it up if he was above ground. He'd been hunting so much since he got back he was likely below the city streets doing whatever he did when she wasn't with him.

But neither of the two men were really part of her conscious thought. Aria's mind was skirting the edges of every person in the vicinity. Something was still wrong but Aria couldn't put her finger on it. And she really didn't have time as she felt the fury and bristling personality of Martin Borovsky near long before he showed his face around a corner and crooked his finger and walked away. He didn't even glare or sneer at her. He barely gave her any second thought. His disgust for Ascendancy was clearly written all over his feelings. Aria smiled to herself as she relished the feeling of the man who at the present hated her less than Ascendancy.

Deep in the bowels of the Atharim they gathered their sonic weapons and their tools of the trade. Aria was going as a guide and only took her swords and her guns. She wasn't going to take on Ascendancy in close range. A sniper rifle from a distance and a bullet to his head was the only way she was going to take down a god. Aria knew first hand what a god like the Ascendancy could do - and Nox wasn't even half the god Ascendancy was. She was not an idiot. She took whatever weapon that Martin handed her - she didn't intend to use it though.

Once everyone was geared and armed to the tooth they ascended to the street level and by the cover of night they walked the short distance to the hidden entrance. The things that lay hidden in the world until you uncover them. Aria would never have know of the entrance if she'd not been lead from the facilities below unhindered. But now she could not unknown the fact. The Ascendancy would need to block this entrance once this was done. The Atharim would know of it if any of them survived this night.

Aria intended to survive. It was just a matter of how much running she was going to have to do. She doubted the all powerful and might Ascendancy cared for her life. The Atharim would hunt her down for her betrayal. If she survived. And if Ascendancy died, the Regus and Martin would see her dead with in the hour. She didn't intend to die today.

Aria opened the steel door that lead into the bowels of the earth. "Are you ready to enter hell?"

Edited by Aria, Aug 25 2016, 04:34 PM.
Martin was a hands-on type of guy. When the Regus had informed him they would be leaving imminently he called the girl into the Armory with a finger. She came with ease she hadn't even bothered with a smart remark. She looked even more smug than usual. Martin had to refrain from rolling his eyes.

In the armory she didn't appear to care which weapons were handed out. She took little interest in the actual capacity of killing a god. But she like him, preferred to get up close and personal with the kill. It was part of the joy of killing the mark. Many Atharim never trained in close quarters except for those OMG instances where a monster isn't felled before they are shot.

Martin didn't want to kill Ascendancy from a distance - he wanted to watch the light fade from his eyes, knowing that he'd been beaten. He wanted to see the blood wash from his skin. He chose his weapons wisely - ultimately settling on Active Denial Directed Energy Weapon. It's ability to incapacitate was exactly what he wanted. He wanted Ascendancy to know he was there to see the killing blow. Apollyn would fall and Martin wanted to be the one to do it.

The girl lead topside to an entrance that didn't look like much, but it was the perfect escape route. Close to the Kremlin, yet far enough away he could get away clean in the night. It was perfect for infiltration for the same reason. The girl had done well. It was time to kill a God!

Armande looked at the entrance the girl had taken them to. A steel door hidden among brush and stone, the edge of the forest park lining the Kremlin. Over the trees he could see the tops of the palace and St. Basil's. She seemed to fumble with the door- it would have to be a mechanical lock, in case power was ever cut.

His anger was distant, like far off black clouds, periodic arcs of lightning and delayed thunderclaps in his belly. An energy suffused him from head to toe, seemed to echo along his limbs, anticipation at what was ahead. He looked at Barovsky as he watched her work. His eyes narrowed, a whiff of suspicion in the air. Martin had done well only giving her one weapon. If she was a casualty, well, that would be fine.

No matter. They were ready. He had planned ahead. He wore lightweight polymetalic chainmail armor and his telescoping blade at the hip. But the weapons for this would not be for up close. In addition a couple of guns, two ADDE shafts were at his hip as well, each the size of a medium sized flashlight. Infrared glasses were on his forehead at the moment, ready to let him to see any security detection systems. He carried a lightweight sack to hold the camera scramblers- set on autodetect at the moment- micro-drones with mini-ampules of sedatives and poisons, their controllers, and various other tools.

And the tablet itself. He had studied it, studied the instructions on the age ridden copper scroll, studied the tablet's writings themselves, until he knew the words by heart.

Once the door was open he motioned Aria and Martin back and pulled down the glasses and peered into the darkness. The glow of the beams were clear. Three of them. There was a trip there. He swung his head back to her, feeling satisfied. He pulled his pack and got out the redirects to keep the circuits complete while moving them out of the way. He would depend on the girl as little as possible.

Once inside, he motioned for them to follow silently and stand to the side and wait. He left the redirects on and the door opened, for now. Shifting the IR glasses back to his forehead, he got out the tablet.

Holding it in his hand, the feel of the smooth burnished copper, the weight of it, he felt his heart beat. The Ijiraq would be called forth from Erebus at his words. The thrill of it washed over him even as the lightning of anger still crackled in the distance. The last time this one was used was far move than ten thousand ago. He felt a kinship that he had never felt before, kinship for his brothers of so long ago. A part of him longed to have been alive back then. But now, now was the time. And he would lead humanity to freedom

. The lightning continued to strike, closer and closer, as if he were approaching a great power. The thunder seemed to pound in his ears, the anticipation growing with each breath. The power of the Atharim, it seemed to call to him. The millenia in between seemed to telescope and shrink to nothing, folding in on itself until then was now.

He held out the tablet and looked up at the sky.

He touched the carving labeled ml̥s-bhā-mo
and in a loud commanding voice, declaimed:

H<sub>a</sub>enǵʰ-ri egoh<sub>a</sub> su-judh<sub>e</sub>j-mi!!
Divine Hunter, I command you!!!

And then he waited. The sky was dark. The hum from deep in the tunnel and the distant traffic was all he could hear over his breathing. He strained, looking, seeking for a sign, but the deep night sky was only marred by grey clouds seemed to shine silver. Minutes seemed to tick by and he became aware of the two behind him. But he violently suppressed any feelings of foolishness. In his mind he ran through the routine. Perhaps his intonation had been off, his accent. No one had truly heard this language in thousands of years.

He tried again, holding his thumb on the carving, speaking loudly, adjusting his pronunciation. The tried to shorten some of the vowels and elongate others. The difference was subtle. And he waited.

And waited.

And watched. And then, for a moment, he looked back at Barovsky, feeling a sense of foolishness that this time he did not push away. It was not shame in front of Barovsky. Or perhaps not simply that. He felt a powerful sense of being let down. It had seemed so certain. So clear. Why had this failed?

The hand dropped to his side, thumb still on the tablet carving. He could feel the pulse there. The tablet itself felt warm. He lifted it again and looked at it and for a moment, the carvings seemed to blaze with fire, the words lit by a flame whiter than the sun. He stared at it in awe.

Then he looked up. There was a cloud, dark and silver reflecting, refracting some light from deep within, that emanated from it. The size of his hand, at this distance. And then it grew closer and closer even as it drifted and shifted about. The thunder in his chest pounded and he felt awe come over him. A smile threatened to split his face and blue fire burned like a furnace in his eyes.

It drew closer and seemed to...coalesce…until he could see the undulating shape of a man hovering above the entrance, slightly darkened areas seeming to indicate eyes. A voice like the swarm of million bees seemed to emanate from it and it filled his head, vibrating at a thousand different frequencies, the whispers shifting in and out of hearing and pitch, intonations different from what he had expected. But it was enough for him to piece it together.

Kei jedh<sub>a</sub>jode egoh<sub>a</sub> h<sub>a</sub>ésmi.
I am here to command

The Regus took point, glancing through the door for any traps. She was sure he was trying his damnedest not to trust her. Aria really hadn't know about the beams. She didn't have any tech on her at the time. But when the Regus was done he pulled out a tablet of some sort. Not an electronic device something very old. Aria could feel the power and death emanating from it. She didn't want to touch it.

She took an involuntary step back. She didn't want to be anywhere near that thing. It was death and destruction like she'd only felt once before. It was suffocating.

Aria wished Dane were closer. She couldn't find his calm center. She hated that she saught him out. He'd been gone, and now he was back. Aria pulled herself back in focused her mind on the men around her. Their hatred and fury radiated from them. But she knew they were both excited and Aria knew something was still wrong with her senses. But she wasn't completely blind.

The Regus said something foreign and then they waited.... and waited. He looked back at Borovsky and Aria could feel a sense of shame and embarrassment before it all disappeared and a shadow formed and coalesced in front of them. Aria drew her sword.

Martin reached across her, his arm to block her path in warning. Aria didn't sheath her sword. Aria gasped in realization. Ijiraq were assassins. The Regus meant to sic it on Ascendancy. And Aria couldn't warn him. Fuck!

The creature spoke in the same foreign tongue the Regus had earlier. Aria could feel the distrust and the hatred wafting off the creature. Aria whispered. "It doesn't want to be here."
Martin watched as the wedge between them grew. The girl was just a tool, and soon she'd not be needed. She knew this. He could see it in her stance, she never gave up ground, never let down her guard. She knew her time was up - she was dead one way or the other at the end of this. Martin could only smile at the pleasure that would cause him. To be rid of this infernal whelp who pushed every button he had.

The Regus was just as untrusting of the girl for which Martin was glad to see. He still didn't like using a weapon untested. With all the practice and training they'd done on their gear his gotcha point was that stupid tablet. Did it even work?

But soon Regus was using it. His voice booming in ancient tongues. And then nothing happened. The man who'd recruited him when he was young stood there like an idiot. Martin didn't smile. Didn't show the immense glee he had on this one trick wonder.

The Regus had given up at one point, only to find that whatever he'd done was now working. The girl drew her sword from her sheath, the ring of metal on metal was blissful and something he actually missed. Maybe he would take it from her corpse. Martin barred her advancement on the creature. She didn't put away the weapon. If Martin thought a gun could harm it he probably would have drawn one. But at this point it wasn't going to help. But this girl, she'd killed one - luck would have it.

Martin looked at her and she was not afraid. She was empty of everything staring at the creature in front of them. Her voice was low and she sounded like she could barely breath as she told them what it felt. Martin turned to look at the Ijiraq. He didn't like this.... not at all. This was going to go to hell in a hand basket quickly. This was not how they should be doing this. A bullet to the head.... Not some unknown magic against unknown magic.
The Ijiraq hung in the air before him, its form roiling and undulating, a slowly shifting cloud of mist, its strange ethereal inner glow seeming to pulse as if in time to some slow insistent heart beat. The sub aural hum seemed to fill his head, echoing in time to the words the creature spoke.

For a moment he basked in the rapture of what he'd done. He had never been a man of faith, of spirit. The Atharim were the arm of flesh, the here and the now. The concrete reality. It was the Church that was the expression of spirit and the beyond, the unseen and immaterial. As different as night and day, as the black of his armor and the white of Patricus' robes, complementing and contrasting each other.

But at this moment, at this very point in time, he felt a connection that extended far beyond himself, a palpable awareness of the brotherhood he shared, a kinship that predated written history, to a time when the gods tyrannically and capriciously worked their will on mankind until the remnant, the Atharii rose up as one body to strike down those chains.

It was as close to feeling the touch of God as he could imagine. Determination filled his bones, fire blazed in his heart, and he confronted this creature, the living embodiment of the will of Atharim. The words came to his lips.

G<sup>w</sup>eplən tu ēchṛ-u-h<sub>a</sub>!!
Devour Apollyon!!!

Yes, devour him, drink him down! The wording was specific, its echoes in the hunting La'mia that drank the blood and life of their prey; in the leonine devil of the New Testemant's Petrine Epistle, who sought to καταπίνω, "drink down" his victims.

He remembered the girl's words. It had been 'feeding'.

He watched as the creature's shadowed form billowed and gusted as from a wind. The whining seemed to increase, the grinding sound of a drill on bone rising in crescendo. It floated closer and the light within seemed to ripple across its surface.

The buzzing sub-harmonic whine seemed to pulsate...almost as if...His eyes darkened, the elation he felt turning to anger. Rage filmed his eyes for a moment. The ripples...It was laughing at him.

G<sup>w</sup>eplən te-ēchṛih<sub>e</sub>sye tis-judh<sub>a</sub>j-mi!!!
Devour Apollyon, I COMMAND you!!!

The billowing form roilled instantly and seemed shrink in on itself, solidifying, cracks of reddish light flashing across the dense surface and the dark spaces that were its eyes glowed with a feral hellish red.

Te-Deiwosn prīskos h<sub>e</sub>eti egoh<sub>a</sub> ǵnéh<sub>o</sub>sk<sup>ʷ</sup>em.
Neqid tué h<sub>a</sub>és-si!
K<sup>ʷ</sup>im h<sub>a</sub>és-si tué mis-judh<sub>e</sub>jrh<sub>a</sub> ?!?!

<big>I have known the gods of old.
You are nothing.
Who are you to command me?!?!

The buzzing whine seemed to bore into his brain and for a moment he felt a thrill of fear- all the more shocking for being so unfamiliar to him after all these years. The creature seemed to vibrate with energy, radiating anger. He breathed deeply, letting the Chong Ran come over him. He was not a child hiding from bullies. Resolve hardened in his heart. He was the Regus of the Atharim, Vicar of Iscariot. This thing would obey him.

The words of the scroll, of the tablet ran through his mind. Variants and possibilities. Apollyon had been foretold. His name was on the tablet. Perhaps the creature was not aware of Apollyon's prophesied identity. It had hidden in Erebus for millenia, venturing out only when a hunt called to it, and others of its kind.

He repeated the command, this time using Apollyon's name, Nikolai Brandon.

As if in answer, the Ijiraq seemed to harden and for the first time, he saw its face, ears wicked points, a mouth filled with sharpened teeth baring into a terrible smile. He could feel heat emanating from it even as it began to quiver, as if crouching in on itself. Armande did not step back. Instead, he ran through everything he knew. Death stood in front of him, but he refused to shy away. If he died, then he died.

But he could not believe that, refused to believe it. There was too much at stake. Too much had come to fruition, had come together for it to be accident. His being here, Regus at this moment in time, in this place, with the enemy they faced. There was intelligence at work, fate, god, providence, kismet, maya, karma, the universe. Whatever you wanted to call it. He had the key. He just needed to find it.

Death filled his eyes. Death made flesh. It studied him. Judged him. Death. He saw it coming, even as the memory of the tablet filled his mind. Death. As if in answer, in his mind, a word on the tablet seemed to blaze to life.

Armande smiled triumphantly.

'I-dhēs ēchṛih<sub>e</sub>sye tis-judh<sub>a</sub>j-mi!!!
Devour Hades, I COMMAND you!!!

Edited by Regus, Sep 1 2016, 05:51 PM.
The Ijiraq spoke. It was like fingernails on the chalk board. Aria grit her teeth together. It felt like death. It wanted to kill. It pulled at the darkness with in, it called to end the life in front of her - she wanted to do it but she refrained.

Aria closed her eyes. The feeling never left. It did no good. When she opened her eyes it was solid - or solid enough. Aria raised her sword, tightened her grip on the hilt of her sword. If she was fast enough....

Martin ground his teeth against the voice in his head. The girl next to him tensed. She was uncomfortable, Martin wondered only distantly what it felt like to be her, to feel everything. But he dismissed the curiousity with a flick of his mind.

The beast was resisting. Martin smiled. It was resisting. This was a stupid idea. The creature was so close. The girl could feel it, he could see the darkness in her eyes like a dim echo. Martin laughed inside. The Regus would die for his foolishness - his bravado. Stupid man.

The girl raised her sword and Martin stepped between her and the Ijiraq and the Regus. He whispered, "No. Not yet."
He would let her determine his reason. But Martin wanted to see what the creature would do. If she acted now it could vanish and their secret weapon would have been wasted. Martin wanted to be proven right. But if the Regus succeeded in the end they would have a new weapon against gods. It was just a shame the Regus was short sighted and didn't declare his hand with plenty of time to test it out. This embarrassment could have been prevented.
The Ijiraq's solid form seemed to explode and the silver black mist....quivered violently. Where the eyes had been glowed an angry dark red and he could almost feel its heat. The creature appeared to be trying to move, hanging there floating. It reared back and surged at him and stopped as if it had hit glass, mist billowing about in waves. The top of it twisted and an there below the "eyes", and opening into pitch blackness.

And a loud keening sound came out, so high it could almost not be heard, so low it tore through him so he could feel it, the terrible whine of saw on bone, of torment and pain. Of rage and anger and hatred. It filled his mind as the creature reared back and struck again, harder, only to hit that invisible wall.

Armande smiled triumphantly, his own eyes a blue furnace. He was The Regus of the Atharim, Vicar of Iscariot. Protector of humanity. This creature was his to command.

One final time, his voice loud and sonorous over the sounds that assaulted his ears and brain.

'I-dhēs ēchṛih<sub>e</sub>sye EGOH<sub>A</sub> tis-judh<sub>a</sub>j-mi!!!
Devour Hades, I COMMAND you!!!

One more violent shake, angry cloud billowing violently, and the Ijiraq fled down the tunnel, trail of mist behind as it sped to its target.

Armande watched it go and then fixed Aria and Barovsky with a stare. The girl had her sword out and Barovsky hadn't stopped her. He studied them with quiet confident eyes, triumphant and proud. Barovsky more than the girl, taking the measure of the man.

And he concluded he still trusted this man to be his right hand. He put the tablet in his pack and took out the micro drones and controller, as well as the ampules, made sure they were loaded up, and sent them speeding down the tunnels after the mist. They would follow at a distance and clear the way with the drones.

"Let's go," he said simply.

Edited by Regus, Sep 2 2016, 04:12 PM.
They were finally moving, the Ijiraq had reluctantly taken the Regus command. Aria could feel the pull of both the command and the hatred of the one who commanded it. It ate at her senses. Everything seemed amplified since whatever Manix had done to her and her power came back. But something was still missing.

Aria followed the Ijiraq in the beginning, but Aria knew that he way she had to go was not the quickest way. Following it would mean death to many innocent lives.

Then the path that Ascendancy had given her diverged from the Ijiraq Aria stopped. "If you go that way you will kill more people than that way I found. There is less security and less people this way."
Aria pointed down the opposite direction. The Ijiraq was not going to kill innocents but they would if they were found. Aria did not want that to happen. They weren't the objective. But she was certain that the Regus would not find it quite the right move.... Aria steeled herself to murdering others - there was no fun in cutting down innocent lives.

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