Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 16
Ch.16

“I am the most beautiful specimen in this tower. Some may say their strength is superior but there is strength in beauty. Neanderthals just don't understand.”

Achilles observed himself in the mirror after having exercised. Each muscle group bulged out in a display of protein-fueled joy. He tried counting all the rivers of veins sitting atop his muscles, but it was too high a number.

“Math is something weak people do.”

Tree trunk arms rooted into his barreled chest. Two rows of abdominal muscles set like stones across his firm body. His legs were I-beams that could support his weight many times over. Achilles liked to tell the other Ascending members that he was chiseled from stones that were chiseled from a harder stone. He was the only one that thought it clever.

“You are the strongest one there is.”

He stood a little over six feet tall, which spread the muscle out decently. This brawny mass was only close to natural. Although he never took full-blown steroids, half of his diet consisted of weight gain, high protein milk shakes, and workout enhancement supplements. His piss was always a bright green color. Many ounces of every type of vitamins and minerals flushed down the drain, but still even more pumped through every part of his circulatory system.

“Are you from this planet?”

The only garments to wear during his self-admiration time were tight fitting underwear. To him, they were the only attire that displayed his physique adequately. The other Ascending members complained about his wardrobe of banana hammocks, but he took that as a sign of their jealousy.

“I wish I could hug myself.”

A stump, made of sand, formed on the ground for Achilles to pose on. The two feet of sand that was the bed of his room matched the metal walls in color.

From the far side of the room, a protein shake came from the island in front of the kitchen and drifted into the open weight room that also functioned as his room’s entrance. “Maybe I should get a full body wax today,” he said, talking to a stubble of chest hair. After drinking deeply from his shake, a supplement bar hovered in front of him, unwrapped itself, and then broke into three pieces. He took the three pieces and let the shake return to the kitchen.

Achilles walked into his bedroom, making sure to lock the door, as he then addressed a nightstand. He pulled out a box of tissues and grabbed a waste bin to bring with him to the foot of his bed. Achilles took his seat facing a wall sized TV screen beyond the foot of his mattress. He then took his man-thong off, with a smile on his face.

This was his alone time.

For the most part, he was alone on any given day, but it was when he wanted to watch his favorite show he requested no visitors. Every Tuesday a new episode of Wild Roses would air and he wouldn’t dare miss an installment. The new episode was there waiting for him, and for the next thirty minutes, he would be in his own world.

The lights turned off as the TV displayed a girl standing in a bathroom mirror. She wore a red robe untied at the front. Her tight stomach was exposed and the sides of her breasts were showing. Flowing black hair draped over her left shoulder. A little tattoo of a cartoon kitten smiled at her from the center of her chest, but she wasn’t smiling back.

Achilles took a tissue from the box and rested his hand on his thigh.

The door to the bathroom opened behind the sad beauty, and her partner walked in. It was another girl, wearing only a long grin on her face. “Baby, come back to bed,” she said. She cupped her lover’s breast and kissed her neck softly.

Achilles slowly rubbed his hand across his thigh.

The second girl realized she wasn’t taking to her touch, and asked, “What’s wrong sweetie?”

The girl in the red bathrobe held her hand up for the audience at home to see a positive pregnancy test.

“Oh my god. I can’t believe Becky would do that to Christine,” Achilles said.

Wild Roses was the top viewed daytime drama airing on television. In the four years that it has been running and with this episode, the fifth season premiere, was delving into its usual teen drama scenarios. Achilles took note of the sudden step in revealing cleavage.

“It must be the new director they signed on at the beginning of season 3.”

Wild Roses depicted the lives of senior students at Feakal High, as they undergo a gauntlet of difficult challenges, since high school is apparently hard. The seasons folded into each other, leaving little hints within the episodes, giving the audience something to ponder over on the online forums.

Achilles was anxious for the episode to unravel. The box of tissues he had was if he started to cry. It was commonplace for him to shed a few tears every other episode.

The scene changed to half of the Wild Roses crew sitting at their favorite coffee shop making protest signs. Jennifer, the activist, was trying to bring awareness of how wrong it was to own animals as pets, specifically hamsters. The group of characters sat at their table making signs and sipping soymilk, while writing half-thought out slogans like “SLAVERY STILL EXISTS” or “I GOT YOUR EXERCISE WHEEL RIGHT HERE” One of the boys sitting at the table will later fall into a love triangle with Jennifer and Lavon. Just in time for Lavon to be torn between competition with Jennifer, and his baby momma Becky. God must have forsaken the fans of reality television shows by now, yet millions watched.

Someone knocked at Achilles’s bedroom door.

He threw the box of tissues on the ground and wore his underwear again. The television powered down and the lights came on. He pounded to the door and ripped it open, breaking the frame from the engaged lock.

Standing at his broken door was a woman in a black trench coat, dark sunglasses, and a safari hat. Sagitta looked up at him and smiled with her hands in the coat’s front pockets, slowly turning her body from side to side.

“I didn’t order any entertainment,” Achilles said.

She took a finger and began to trace a tattoo that twisted around his chest. “Are you saying I came all this way for nothing? I was told you were a right delicate one, and so much muscle.” Her accent tickled his ear.

“Come back later.”

“What are you watchin’?”

“That is none of your concern.”

She tried to step forward, but Achilles picked her up by the waste and walked towards the entrance. “I’d say I fancy getting handled,” she said with a squeal. He set her down and reached for the front door, but Sagitta ran behind him and jumped on his back. “Don’t make me go.” He took a deep breath then gently grabbed her wrists.

“Knock knock ya bogan sap,” she yelled in his ear.

Achilles looked back and saw that her sunglasses were gone. The luminous glow of her purple eyes made Achilles pause in alarm. He could see the optic sensors in her head adjusting, taking in everything that she saw. Near microscopic nano-machines zoomed around in her retinas.

While perplexed, the front door silently opened and Corvus leaped forward to drive his butterfly knife into Achilles’s stomach. By the time his brain registered the pain, Corvus jabbed the blade into his stomach a second time. He swung his massive arm and back handed Corvus before a third blow was dealt, sending the bird boy out of the room. Corvus quickly returned drawing his war scythe from the holster on his back, twirling the weapon between both hands faster than the eye could follow. After a few twirls, he caught the weapon with a pop sound and pointed the tip at his enemy as the blade reached out and stabbed into Achilles’s stomach.

He grabbed the blade before it sliced through his abdomen, as Sagitta threw the trench coat away to draw her weapons. She equipped her twin crossbows, from their thigh sleeves, onto the mounts infused in her forearms. She mentally pressed the trigger wire implanted inside her brain and unloaded a flurry of bolts into her target. Fine tipped heads poked an inch and a half into Achilles’s toned back.

The big man dropped to one knee and his head hung.

Corvus’s scythe retracted then plunged forward again. Achilles brought his arm up, and from the sand beneath him, a solid shield formed to block his body. The scythe’s tip bounced off. He put his free hand behind his back and a sand spear formed with its tip an inch from Sagitta’s nose.

Achilles stood and said, “If it is a challenge you want, you have found one.”

Sagitta’s robotic eyes heightened their resolution output, absorbing every bit of movement, cascade or ambiguous. Corvus thought of a rhythm consisting of half-second bumps, which his neural transmitters replicated into his eardrums. It was the pacing he would use in his attacks.

Achilles made the first move. He crouched down and made a loud grunting noise as his shield launched from his forearm and towards Corvus. While the shield was on its crash course, he threw the spear at Sagitta, both projectiles harder than concrete and flying with an increasing force.

Corvus flared his left wing and pumped his left pectoral muscles. Small flames shot from the wing’s fingers and small nozzles on his back pushed him out of harm’s way. The sand shield continued on to demolish the sturdy double doors leading to Achilles’s room.

Sagitta rolled to her side as the spear shot through the refrigerator. Chunks of salmon and tuna gushed from the freezer and muscle milk bleed from the fridge. The spear and shield dissolved into their individual particles after crashing into their unintended targets.

Sagitta took cover behind the island in the kitchen and unleashed both her crossbows at Achilles, attempting to add to the ones sticking out of his back. The pseudo Spartan raised his arm as another shield formed to protect him. At mid lunge, another spear formed to reach out for the boy.

Corvus used his wings to maneuver off the ground, withdrawing from Achilles’s advancement. He twirled his scythe faster in front of him, which gave the sand spear difficulties in reaching his body. The tempo of the beat inside his head increased to keep up with Achilles’s thrusts.

“Little boy.” Achilles stomped the ground and a second shield formed to launch at Corvus.

It weighed more than expected, knocking Corvus to the wall before he fell to the ground, burying him in sand. Achilles turned to Sagitta still stationed behind the island, his back like a porcupine.

“Come here puppet. It’s time to bleed.” With a single bound Achilles cleared half the room and landed next to her. Sagitta ran for the corner of the room, but Achilles laughed at her attempt to create space. A solid four by four chunk of sand came from the ground and punched Sagitta in the stomach. It knocked her off her feet and as she hit the ground, a mask of sand covered her head.

He walked over to stand above his assassin. “Pathetic.”

She desperately clawed at the sand, but it felt like concrete. The formation around her head compacted itself even more as Achilles watched her body thrash about in a feeble quarrel. A minute had gone by and her lungs were bursting. All sight and sound blocked off by the mask, completely alone inside her head, she would soon be dead. She was slipping into unconsciousness, driven more by fear than lack of oxygen.

Then the light shined in. Sagitta felt the mold go limp and slide off her face. She sat up and heaved in air, almost passing out all over again. She coughed a few times as some sand was accidentally sucked into her pipes. She glanced back at her grave and grabbed her hat from the dirt.

“Bout bloody time you sprang into action. I almost died I did,” she said, dusting her hat off.

Achilles laid on his side in the sand. Corvus’s signature butterfly knife stuck out of his head, handle deep, next to three other puncture wounds. Sagitta could see the words “Corvus Corvidae” engraved on one side of the handle and the black and red crow design that formed when both sides came together.

“Sorry Ma'am,” Corvus said.

She walked over to Corvus and put her hand on his head. “Make it snappy next time, and don't you be calling me ma'am.” She shook his head and walked around the room. She walked in front of the full body mirror and looked into her own eyes. A thought of regret filled her mind. She could dismount her crossbows but her eyes were always a problem to hide when amongst the populace. “Why can't they look normal?”

“They are okay,” her teammate said.

“Don't tell me they’re okay. They’re a dead giveaway, and you don't have any problems when you go out. You can turn invisible.”

“It's just a cloaking device. It doesn't last long.”

“But you can take your gear off. Do you think I can find me a man with these purple things?”

Corvus bowed his head. He was too young to understand what she was trying to convey to him, and it always made him confused when she was like this. “Please don't yell. There doesn't have to be any yelling.”

“Stop your crying.” Sagitta struck the mirror with the back of her fist making it shatter.

Corvus jumped and began to tear up. “Please. Stop. I didn't mean to do it. She needed her medication.”

Oh great he's having nanny flashbacks again, she thought. “Hey there now. You did what you thought was best and now she's asleep and happy.” She read all about his file. Bloody little bastard slipping your grandma too much sleep medication. His grandma was however, abusive towards little Edward so she considered it ok.

She put her arm around his head and brought his face into her chest. He sobbed a little and slowly regained what was considered normal behavior. He looked up and managed a smile. “She's just sleeping, right?”

 

All the staff members assigned to the main server room was lying on the ground with jaundice colored faces set in horror. After their assassin dispatched their lives, he turned the lights off and got to work. Blue light cast on his pale body from the computer terminal he operated. Tiny stars of light reflected off the little square apertures sprouting all over his body. Each square was an exhaust vent connected to his veins, Senium’s unique way of transmitting toxins.

He stood in his cargo pants searching for the files he was assigned to collect. Most of what he had collected so far was training schedules, logistic databases, and operating costs for the Tower, compositing the information into the many hard drives he carried in his backpack. A quarter way through a libraries worth of data yet there was no end in sight.

His lifeless eyes were currently looking over the extensive lists of Failed Experiments, the classification given to those who did not survive the serum administration process. He was without any affliction, because to Senium, “everything living is already as good as dead. Especially me.” He laughed a little after mentally going over his personal obituary archives.

“How is your mission progressing?” Deus asked.

A puff of yellow smoke exhumed from Senium’s body. “Shit, boss, you scared me.”

They now stood inside the cloud of toxins. The malignant gas of Senium’s oxygenated blood molecules were as harmless to Deus as an air freshener. He placed his hand on Senium’s shoulder and shook him lightly. “Calm yourself my child. You are on the side wielding the sword. Besides, a man who is past living should not be afraid.”

“Old habits.” The walking corpse continued to download information while they talked. “I’ve found some mildly interesting information regarding this place.”

“Do tell.”

“The term Ascending is a fancy title given to these kids that are adept with telekinetic abilities. Each Ascending gets a room and the stronger you are the higher you are in the Tower. Some type of organized hierarchy. I think house cats do the same thing. Anyways, that’s just the lower half of the chain.” Senium pulled up a file containing two folders inside, one labeled DEMON the other STYX. As he moved the cursor over the folders, they became transparent. “There’s two teams above them, and I can’t access their files. What I’ve gathered though is that the Demons are the head honchos, residing near the top levels of the Tower.”

“What about Styx?”

“All I know is that they’re a contingency plan, somewhere near the top half of the Tower, and that they’re held in a prison. This Tower is some piece of work.” Senium always felt like he was talking to an oversized doll when he spoke to his boss. The aesthetic quality of the skin he replaced gave Deus an off appearance.

“Is there a reason why they are imprisoned?” he asked.

“Don't know boss. I did find something out about their slammer. The level was originally for labs and a gym but later converted into a prison after some huge event about two years ago. It was specifically made for a former Demon member.”

“Former member?”

Senium lit a cigarette and dug deeper into the Tower’s network. “Good old penile systems.” A message popped up on the computer telling Senium that his download was complete. “Well boss, how has your visit to Tower de Blanca been?”

Deus walked along a wall of computer racks. He could point out and name every piece of equipment inside. He could also list their capabilities and technical specifics for each piece of hardware. “I've been enjoying myself. It’s a wonder how our enemy has gotten so far in their project with such archaic equipment.” Deus noticed a blade server in the off position. He flipped the switch and saw sets of flashing lights come to life while shaking his head.

“There's nothing like HQ I guess,” Senium said.

“Indeed. Is the virus downloaded?”

“Done and initiated. It should shut down most of the electronics in the tower, but I need to go higher if I want to find out more information. What are we going to do after we've copied and deleted all the data?”

Some green lights in the room turned red. A few fans shut down and one by one the racks inside the room short circuited. “We add it to our portfolio.”

 

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