Tower of Babel
Author: Isaac Woulms

Chapter 22

Corvus stood in front of a vending machine looking over all the candy bars on display. He pressed his hand against the glass and tried to find his favorite kind, preferring the flavor of coconut. “Eighty-five cents,” he said. “Do you have any coins?”

Sagitta was holding a small tablet device sending mission information to Deus. “Yeah, hold on.” She walked in front of the vending machine and waved Corvus to the side. While typing in a message, she kicked her boot heel through the glass. She walked back to where she stood and continued to update the mission report.

“Thank you.” Corvus reached into the machine and grabbed his bar. “This Tower is supposed to be a secret location right?”

“Yes, and cover your mouth when you’re eating. Have some manners,” Sagitta said.

Corvus bowed his head. “So it's supposed to be secret, but this bar looks pretty brand name to me. The same for the rest of these sweets.”

“It said in the dossier, Chen attempts to replicate a normal working environment for his staff. The supply is delivered to some of his legit facilities and later carried here in bulk supply.” Sagitta stowed the tablet in her back pocket then placed her hands on her hips. “We’ll be traveling higher now. Finish your snack and let’s move.”

Then they heard someone running down the hallway.

Corvus dropped the bar and his cloaking device activated. Sagitta cocked both her crossbows and aimed for the lobby entrance.

The frantic footsteps came closer. “Help,” a woman’s voice cried. The fleeing staff member came to the door and stopped as she saw Sagitta. “Oh god, the light. Help me pl-”

“Running makes me so tired.” Melino grabbed the woman by the hair and stood behind her. “I want you to go to sleep now.” The Styx member was intent on the scared woman, so Sagitta took her shot. Her left bow released a bolt that would have made its mark if it weren’t for Melino’s deceivingly tired demeanor. Before the projectile could reach its target, Melino yanked the woman’s head in front of the bolt’s path. It sunk through the woman’s right eye and out the back of her skull by an inch. Melino saw some grey matter on the bolt’s tip and licked it off.

She threw the body down and said, “I’ve been looking for you. I need you,” pausing between each sentence to giggle, "I'm going to win a room with your blood.”

Sagitta stood in disgust of her new enemy. Melino’s smile was wide and unsettling, equipped with two rows of yellow teeth riddled with cavities. Melino hugged herself as the visions of room ownership came to mind. Small pink islands of scars covered her cream-colored body. Some of the scars around her shoulders and legs were scabbing over creating more of a lump.

“What in the bloody hell happened to you?” Sagitta asked.

The Styx gave herself a once over and could only see the beauty that once was her own body. Anger inflamed inside the pit of her twisted mind. “Don’t judge me, cunt. You’re not winning anyone over with your headlights.”

That hit a nerve. “Bitch, I’m going to add some piercings to that wretched ass of yours.” Sagitta took aim for her eyes.

“I’ll teach you to talk down to me.” Before Sagitta could release a bolt, Melino emitted a flash of bright light that filled the room. Sagitta reeled her head back slightly stunned. Her neural implants adjusted their contrast setting to make up for the glare, but they weren’t the only two in the room. Corvus’s cloaking device shut off as his concentration broke from the blazing radiance. He fell to the floor covering his eyes in pain and trying not to cry. 

“Another one? This is great. This is really happening.” Melino ran for Corvus, her hands reaching out.

“Get to your feet, Corvus.” Sagitta fired two bolts at Melino, but underestimated her opponent’s speed. As the first pair sunk into the wall, a second set was sent for the ghoul. The third bolt grazed Melino’s back as she passed by Sagitta, the fourth pierced four inches into her shoulder, ripping through tendons and digging into bone. Unfortunately, the Styx member was engulfed by desire, pain was an acceptable cost. “Corvus, get up.”

He managed to raise his head as Melino fell on his body. The boy flailed his arms and legs, scared of the lost soul overtaking him. His war scythe fell off his magnetic holster and rolled out of reach. Their screams eclipsed each other.

Sagitta couldn’t take the risk of firing a bolt that close to her partner. She punched her fists down by her thighs and holstered her crossbows. “Get off him.” She covered the lobby and pulled at Melino’s oily hair.

Even with her head pulled back, Corvus was still under attack. Her good arm wrapped around Corvus’s neck, and her demented energy flowed into her upper body strength.

Sagitta looked down at the gaze Melino gave her. It was void of reality, the only thing in her mind was the fantasy of living in the Tower peacefully. Sagitta began punching her in the face restlessly, knuckles thudding against Melino’s forehead, causing more damage to her hand than Melino’s skull. She could see her enemy grinding her teeth and heard the screams trapped inside her throat.

Blood sprinkled across Melino’s forehead. Sagitta couldn’t tell whether it was her enemy’s or her own. She reached down and equipped her right bow and pointed the bolt at Melino’s head. “Take it.” The string tightened and the bolt cocked back.

Melino let out a scream doused in a pulse of telekinetic energy. The force from her scream sent Sagitta back along with the chairs, and vending machines. She now laid on a pile of broken furniture across the room. The Styx member laughed and tightened her grip. She then bit down on Corvus’s ear, making blood shoot out of his lobe.

He couldn’t scream, he needed the air. Melino then swung Corvus around to look at his partner.

Sagitta recovered and ran towards Melino again. Corvus felt soft laughter come from his captor. It’s a trap, he thought. Corvus reached into his pocket and pulled out his butterfly knife, stabbing the blade into Melino’s thigh. She screamed again, only to send her second telekinetic scream into the ceiling, blasting the light fixtures and tiles to the floor.

Sagitta’s implants switched to night vision. She accelerated to a sprinter’s pace as she reached Melino to kick her in the jaw. Melino’s head snapped back and her grip was lost. Corvus crawled away aimlessly, regaining his breath, his cloaking device activating again.

Melino was on the ground convulsing from three ruptured aneurysms caused by the kick. Sagitta picked Corvus’s scythe off the ground and held it above her head with both hands. “Go to sleep, bitch.” The scythe came down and cropped its latest victim’s head.

Sagitta’s right hand was stiff from the bruises forming on her knuckles. Her shoulders had small blackened dots from being tossed across the lobby.

“It hurts. It hurts,” Corvus chanted, curled up next to the fallen vending machines with his hands hovering over his chewed ear.

 Sagitta came to him and hushed away his tears. “There, there. You did good kid. Next time don't just stand there with that stupid look of yours.”

“She's gone now right? She's sleeping?” Tears were still rolling down his cheeks.

“She's asleep. For good.”


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