Monmon: If you’re wondering why this chapter is late, Q-ichi is having trouble finishing the chapter. Maybe he should stop doing fragmented writing in the main story considering he is still in the prologue.
Mandrake’s scribblings: Shaddap. Enjoy the chapter guys.
-Bata bata bata bata-
Two black SWAT helicopters hovers over the apartment building, shining their floodlights on the roof. One of the helicopters lowers itself until it is a few meters over the roof.
A rappel rope drops from the helicopter’s side onto the concrete roof. A heavily armed man emerges from the helicopter and rappels down.
He quickly detaches from the rope and moves away for another heavily armed man to rappel down.
One man lands on his feet. Then another. And another. The last one completes the five man SWAT team. With the entire team assembled, the team leader waves at the helicopter overhead and the rappel rope is retracted. The helicopter turns and flies out of the way to make room for the next helicopter to drop its own SWAT team.
Team Leader (1): “Weapons armed! Be careful of allies in the building! Remember! There are military, SWAT, and even police in there!”
Officers: “SIR, YES SIR!”
The team rushes towards the roof access door that leads inside. One man aims his weapon and holds an angle on the door. Another man holds his sidearm ready and opens the door.
Locked. The man braces his shoulder and slams his body against the door.
The door has not budged and the man slumps against it in confusion. He steps backwards and braces himself once more.
He lunges forward and kicks the door at its lock region with all his might.
The door did not budge. The force of his kick pushed his body backwards and he falls on his bottom. He stares angrily at the door.
Team Leader (1): “Stop! Get the battery ram! Knock it down!”
The team leader gestures towards the others. The man holding an angle on the door switches with another teammate and joins the others in carrying a heavy battery ram. The ruffled man gets up and joins them as well. With four officers manning the ram, they position it in front of the door. As they swing the ram, the second SWAT team is on standby, ready to barge in the second the door is broken open.
Team Leader (1): “On two! One! TWO!”
They pull all their strength in driving the ram against the door. It hit the door right in the middle with a tremendous blunt force.
The door is unaffected, letting out a soft thud when the ram strike it. The men are dumbfounded, wondering why a ram hitting the door would produce such a soft sound.
Team Leader (1): “Again! Hit it again!”
The leader, unperturbed by the door’s strength, orders his team to ram the door again. They draw back a step and swing the ram at the door again.
One more, the door holds steady, letting out the same, almost mocking, soft thud.
Officer: “What the hell is this door?!”
The team puts away the battery ram and stares in disbelieve at the spotless door. The leader of the other team approach them and pulls out his firearm.
Team Leader (2): “Let me try! I’m going to shoot it in the lock!”
The leader nods his head and gestures to his team.
Team Leader (1): “Fall back! He is going to shoot the door! Beware of bullet ricochet or flying shrapnel!”
The team draws back as the second team leader takes aim at the door.
Team Leader (2): “Firing!”
Team Leader (2): “No scratches. No dent.”
He looks at the other team leader and nods. He gestures at the explosives specialists on both teams.
Team Leader (1): “Use the breach charge! Four times the firepower!”
Officer: “Yes, sir!”
The officers from both SWAT teams runs towards the door to set the charges. The rest of the men prop up riot shields and gather behind them. Explosive charges are fastened onto the doorknob and more charges are piled on soon after. Four times as much.
Officer: “Explosive is set!”
Having finished setting up the explosives, one of the officers calls out to the teams and both men return to their men behind the shields.
Officer: “Arming explosive!”
He flips a switch on his console and looks toward the team leader for confirmation. The team leader nods his head and gestures ‘Go’.
The explosive explodes with an ear-splitting blast. The men recoil behind their shield as a storm of dust rages on the roof. Soon enough the dust settles and the men looks on at their work.
Officers: “What the hell…”
Everyone let down their weapons and emerge from cover as they stare in disbelief at the door standing firm and unscathed.
The inside of the apartment building is in complete darkness. Accompanying this darkness is a deathly silence. The air is still and has cooled down to match the cold of the night. The corridors of the lower floors are void of any human being despite it being packed with police officers half an hour ago.
-Bam Bam Bam Bam-
However, signs of life broke the silence as a struggle can be heard from the lobby on the ground floor.
Zheng: “Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!”
Police Captain Zheng punches the glass door in desperation. Yet despite getting hit with all his might, the glass door will not open.
-Bam Bam Bam-
Zheng: “PLEEEASE! LET ME OUT!!”
He desperately hit the door with the butt of his gun. The revolver is now a useless club as all of its ammunition has been spent on shooting the door. Zheng turns around and presses his back against the glass door. His face reflects raw emotions of desperation and terror.
Zheng: “PENG! KEEP THAT THING AWAY! DON’T LET IT COME NEAR!”
Peng: “I’M TRYING!!”
Zheng’s subordinate, Peng replies with a similar feeling of terror. While Zheng is cowering against the door, Peng has been waving a chair in an effort to keep it at a safe distance. The thing that has terrified the two men.
Is a toddler. He stands at bare naked a safe distance away from the chair’s reach. He is of short stature and has a typical Chinese bowl haircut commonly seen on young kids. But the most jarring feature is the boy’s skin. It is dark blue, similar to a corpse drained of blood. His eyes are completely pitch black. Like a rodent’s eyes, it shines black in the light from Peng’s flashlight. The boy turns from side to side as he plays with his lips, making raspberry noises.
Zheng: “H-HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS?! HELP ME, PENG!”
He grabs Peng’s shoulder and shakes it.
Peng: “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?! I’M NOT GOING DOWN LIKE VOON! YOU GET OUT OF THIS YOURSELF!!”
Voon is another of Zheng’ subordinates as well as Peng’s colleague. He was with Peng and Zheng when the lights turned dark. The flashlights were turned and Voon was the first to see the boy standing before them. Zheng and Peng were taken aback by the child’s appearance while Voon approached the boy to investigate. As soon as he stepped close, the child lunged and grabbed him. Immediately after that, many blue skinned arms reached from the darkness and grabbed Voon. They dragged his screaming and struggling body into the darkness. After that, everything turned silent and the boy emerged again under the light of Peng’s flashlight.
Zheng: “DON’T LET IT TOUCH ME!”
Zheng kicks Peng forward, urging him to deal with the boy. Peng turns around, his face lit with anger.
Peng: “DO THAT AGAIN AND I WILL BREAK YOUR NECK!!”
Zheng: “WATCH HIM! WATCH HIM!”
Zheng frantically points at the boy who is amused at the situation. He playfully hops back and forth, startling Peng who begins waving the chair once more.
-tap tap tap-
Peng & Zheng: “AAAAAAAAAH!!!”
The boy laughs and runs towards them. Peng scrambles back while Zheng scrambles to hide behind Peng. Both men scream in terror as the flashlight flicker, showing flashes of a hundred arms reaching out to them.
In the pitch black darkness, something stirs. Behind one of the barricades set up by the police, a hand emerges with a flashlight and shines the light around it surroundings. Receiving no reaction from the surroundings, police officer Da crawls out from behind the barricade.
Da: [No one.]
He keeps a crouched position and walks slowly towards the stairs. Trying his best not to make a sound, he holds his breath every time he moves. Holding his gun at arm’s length, he sweeps around to watch his surroundings.
Da: [Shit! Shit! Shit!]
His heart is beating so hard that his ears feel like it’s going to pop. The adrenaline has coursed through his body, making him frantic. He clears the flight of stairs and stops to catch his breath.
Da: [Everything is still dark. The ground floor is just below]
He swore under his breath. He was one of the first officers to realize the spirits in the building. So when he broke off from his teammates, he sprinted towards the stairs to exit the building. However, the spirits played him. The hallways became endless and stretched for city blocks. Soon after that, the lights flicker off, basking the building in complete darkness. Then the screams of men and ghostly wails started.
Da: [Please spare me. Please spare me. Please spare me.]
Something brushes past his head. It feels like hair. Smooth and fragrant but icy cold.
He tumbles backwards and shines his light upwards. Attached to the ceiling is a torso of a woman hunched over against the ceiling. Her long hair trails down, glossy and smooth. The woman gets up and straightens her torso and looks down straight at him.
The woman’s face is beautiful. Her face is almond shaped and her skin is white as porcelain. Her eyes, however, is all white except for her pupils that are black.
The woman screams and swipes at him. Her hair becomes alive as it flails and twirls around gracefully. Extending her torso down from the ceiling, she descends on the terrified officer. Da tries to scramble backwards but her hair wraps itself around his body.
Da: “GET OFF ME!”
He aims his gun at the woman and pulls the trigger. The gun clicks uselessly as her hair has entangled the gun, preventing the striking firing pin from hitting the bullet’s primer. The woman sneers as her hands grips the sides of his torso. Her long hair entangles his body and limbs even further. She has him in her grasp.
Da: “AAAAAAH!! HELP ME!! HEELP!! AAAAHAAAHAAA!! HELP ME!!”
Knowing that he is trapped, Da begins to scream and struggle in order to break free. Her hair, firmly wrapped around the officer, begin to tug at the officer and lift him upwards.
Woman: “HAAHAHAHAHA!! AAHAHAHAHA!!”
Da: “NOO!! LET ME G-!! HEELP!! HEEEELP!!”
The woman laughs hysterically and begins to beat him down with her fists. He struggles even more in response. The flashlight on his chest swing around in random directions, illuminating the frightening scene. His screams and the woman’s laughter are heard by no one as his flailing body steadily rises up towards the ceiling.
-Thump Thump Thump Thump-
Heavy boots pound the floor as a team of SWAT officers runs down the hallway. Their breaths are heavy and frantic, as if they had gone through a terrifying ordeal. They stop by a corner to reorganize and recollect themselves. The team leader, Jianhong, starts his roll call.
No response. The other officers look at each other with and shake their heads in regret.
Jianhong: “Huan Zhong.”
He looks at his teammates once more. Receiving the same response once more, he sighs and continues his roll call.
Jianhong: “Lao Hui.”
He punches the floor in frustration. He lost two men. Two men to those ghosts. No matter how much firepower they put out, they just disappear and come back. But there’s no time to waste. He must ensure the safety of the rest of his team.
He quickly draws his gun at the fourth man who did not answer. The other officers are shocked at this sudden event. They draw back from the him, raising their guard.
Man: “Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait!”
The man raises both his hands in surrender.
Jianhong: “Who are you?”
Chin: “I am Wu Chin. I’m from Team Charlie. You guys are from Team Foxtrot, right? I’m removing my helmet.”
He slowly moves his hand and removes his helmet to reveal his face.
Chin: “I got separated from the team when those monsters attack. I came across you guys running and followed.”
Jianhong holds his gun steady and gestures to his teammates with his chin.
Jianhong: “Any of you guys know Chin from Team Charlie?”
The officers look at each other when one raises his hand.
Yijun: “Yes, I’ve seen him before. He always tag behind Captain Ping who is the leader of Team Charlie.”
Jianhong pauses and stares at Chin before lowering his gun.
Jianhong: “Alright. That’s good. If you are here, then Zhong and Hui could be fine.”
After hearing that statement, the morale of the officers is lifted and they look at each other reassuringly.
Jianhong: “Chin, you will follow us. I’m going to get all of you down. Get ready.”
The officers begin checking their equipment and counting their ammunition. When they are done, they gesture towards their leader who nods in response.
Jianhong: “Alright. The stairs down is around the next corner. Don’t fall behind.”
He checks around the corner to survey ahead before turning to his team.
The team rounds the corner, gun aimed and ready. They jog in unison down the hallway. Their lights illuminate the path ahead. One is jogging backwards to guard the rear while another is holding him steady with his arm.
He runs around the corner and immediately stops in his tracks. His teammates scramble forwards and cast their lights in front of them.
A large head of a round face man is seen on the stairs. Its huge size takes up the entire width of the stairs leaving no gaps large enough to pass through. It made a difficult face as it pushes its head up the stairs. The head presses its cheek on the floor and squints in the direction of the light.
The head’s face frowns in disgust as it sees the men before him. The frown turns into a wide toothy smile as the head stands upright and laughs at them in a low, inhuman voice.
Jianhong: “What the hell?”
Xun: “SHOOT IT DOWN!”
-Bam Bam Bam Bam-
The SWAT officers open fire on the head. The head recoils and closes its eyes as the bullets strikes it. Turning on one side, the head lunges forward at the retreating men.
Yijun: “It’s not fazed by our bullets!”
Xun: “It’s that fucking skull! Must be very thick!”
Chin: “IT’S BLOCKING THE STAIRS! HOW ARE WE GOING TO GET DOWN!”
They are backed up against the wall. The only way is back to where they came from. The men flee back down the corridor. The head presses against the entrance but is too big to get through.
-Kum Kum Kum-
Frustrated at their escape the head gnashes its teeth and peers into the corridor at them.
Xun: “Shit. What are we going to do, Captain?”
Xun turns around but only sees Yijun and Chin. He whips around to check behind them.
Chin: “He’s not here.”
The head sneers and begins laughing. A SWAT officer emerges from the corridor entrance from beside the head.
Jianhong?: “You escape? You are the last ones. Why do you need to make it hard for us?”
The men are shocked at the officer who bears resemblance to their team leader. They take aim at him in anger.
Jianhong?: “I told you before, right?”
Yijun: “YOU! WHEN DID YOU?!”
Jianhong?: “I’m going to get ALL of you down.”
Screams suddenly appear behind the men. Chin turns around in sheer terror.
Chin: “IT’S THEM!!”
At the other end of the dark corridor, balls of light can be seen.
The balls of light turns out to be face of women, contorted to be ugly and demonic. They open their crooked mouth and let out their harrowing scream.
Chin begins firing at them. The flashes light up the corridor, revealing the bodies of the demonic women. White cloths cover their body but two feet long curly fingernails can be seen protruding from their long sleeves. They flail their arms in the air as they close in on the men.
-Bam Bam Bam Bam Bam Bam-
The three men fire their rounds screaming in terror as the demonic women do their final lunge at them.
Tao: *What have I gotten myself into?*
Veteran soldier Xue Tao crouches in a corner at the end of two corridors. He hugs his gun and takes slow and deep breaths to calm him down.
Tao: *This is crazy. How am I supposed to fight these monsters? How am I supposed to survive?”
He thought it would be a simple deployment. Serve as intimidating muscle for the government. He thought he would be confronting some immigrants or some traitors making deals with foreign intelligence.
Tao: *I’m just a fucking pawn, is it?*
It was a hopeless battle. The second the lights turned off, the soldiers were ambushed. Screams, guns firing, and inhuman wails. Their firepower did nothing to them. Those monsters were inhuman, intelligent and evil. Trained soldiers lost their composure and became like rats, scattering in terror.
Tao grips his gun tightly. A lot of comrades fell victim to the monsters and a lot more scattered, their fates unknown. Tao prays in his heart to survive and escape and hopes to see his comrades waiting for him.
He aims his gun at one corridor. And then the other. Something in his gut is telling him to get moving. He begins sniffing the air, desperately praying for his instincts to be wrong.
Tao: *Oh no.*
His worst fear is true. He smells something. Something that he recognizes and remembers when it attacked the soldiers. That musty smell of wet rotting wood. Tao begins to watch both corridors, switching between them erratically.
Tao: [It’s here! But where is it coming from?!]
And then he sees it. Way in the distance at the end of the left corridor. A cold cloud of darkness lazily floats its way towards him. Despite in total darkness, the cloud has another feature that can be seen through the darkness. It glows a pale blue light. The glow reveals it position, but it better assisted it in looking for prey. Tao lies prone on the ground.
Tao: *Shit… I’ve got to get out of here.*
Tao: *What the hell…*
As the cloud starts its path down the corridor, Tao can see its new appearance. Faces. Faces with a dim blue glow are embedded into the cloud. They convulse and turn in agony as tears stream down their faces. Their murmurs of their pleas for help are very pitiful for Tao to hear.
Tao: [Shit! Shit! That’s what happened to them!]
Tao recognizes these voices. The cloud’s horrible nature has been revealed. The faces belong to the soldiers who were present in the building with Tao. They had fell victim to the cloud and their tortured faces are displayed as its trophies. The glow of the faces illuminated a small area of the cloud’s path. As the cloud’s black vapors pass over the faces, they toss and turn in order to shake off the vapor.
“Don’t come any closer!”
“I can’t breathe…”
-kss kss ksshss-
Tao begins crawling down the opposite corridor. His movements are desperate but well-minded to not make a sound. His heartbeat is pounding his ears and his limbs feel numb as they drag his body across the floor.
Tao: [Don’t find me. Please don’t find me…]
The musty smell has grown stronger. Tao feels that the cloud is nearly upon him. He picks up his pace, hoping to put some distance between him and the cloud.
“Hey! Please help me!”
Tao jolts in surprise. He quickly turns around to see the blue glow upon him. A human face is floating over him, his eyes focused on Tao in pitiful desperation. Dark vapors illuminated by the blue glow float downwards to the floor.
Tao: [HOW DID-]
Tao scrambles backward away from the human face. The human face sees him running away and contorts in despair.
“Don’t go! Please, help me!”
“Pull me out, please!”
Following the first face, second face emerges from the wall and calls out to Tao. Just from that scene, Tao understood. The cloud and the soldiers’ faces can pass through the walls. Furthermore, their cries for help alert the cloud of the presence of new prey.
“Get me out! Save me!”
A third face squeezes out from the wall and shouts at Tao. At this point, the cloud vapors dwarves the blue glow and fills the entire height of the corridor.
Tao punches the floor as hard as he can. The sharp pain shocks his body from its fearful stupor. He can move again. He scrambles to his feet and sprints away from the cloud.
“No! Don’t run away!”
“Don’t leave me alone!”
The faces call out to him but Tao ignores them. The adrenaline has kicked in and his fatigue clears immediately. Everything in Tao’s mind and body is focused on escaping that dreadful cloud. Tao reaches the end of the corridor and rounds the corridor.
Tao: [I’ve climbed down 6 floors from the 10th floor! I can’t die here!!]
“You there! You have to help me!”
Another face comes out in front of him. His expression shows anguish and frustration. Tao dives forward and slid across the floor. He slips under the cloud’s vapors and scrambles to his feet. Planting one foot firmly on the floor, he pushes hard on it and swings his body forward into a running position.
He stomps his feet into a sprint.
Tao: [The stairs is around here. Please, let it be clear!]
Hope flickers in his heart as he had done so much to survive. He emerges from the stairs entrance, determined to dive down the stairs.
“Please… I can’t breathe..”
“Someone help me…”
A despairing scene greets him. The entrance to the stairs glows blue as many faces lined the floor. Tao stops in his tracks and sees a sea of black vapors at his feet. The faces notice his presence and begins calling out to him in vigor.
“Hey! Get over here and help me!”
“Pull me out, man!”
“Help me! Help me!”
“I’m here! Save me!”
“Over here! Over here!”
Tao turns around to backtrack. However, he can see the blue glow in the distance steadily approaching him. His escape route is cut off.
Tao: [I’m trapped!]
He feels his feet sinking. Like standing knee deep in mud, he finds it hard to pull his leg free. The faces slowly inches towards him, hoping for salvation.
“I’m right here! Pull me out!
“Over here! Please!”
“Help me out! Look here!”
Tao: “STAY AWAY!!”
He flails desperately. His composure lost, his heart stricken with panic, he is no different than a trapped animal. Tao pulls hard on his leg to get free. He grips the entrance wall and pulls as hard as he can. His desperate effort bears fruit as he feels his leg inches free.
Tao: [It’s getting free! Please hurry!]
A flicker of hope shines in his eyes. The chance of escaping is dancing out right in front of him, just out of his grasp. Tao braces for another strong push to…
A heavy weight lands on his side. Tao glances to the side and is greeted with a glowing white face of a woman, twisted beyond humanly possible. She pulls him downwards cackling maniacally.
Tao: “NO!! LET GO!!”
The demonic woman shrugs of his plea and tugs hard at his elbows. His fingers give way and he fall flat on the floor.
Tao: “Ooff! NO!”
He tries to pull himself up but it is too late. The cloud has engulfed his limbs and locked him in place. His limbs feel numb and cold and his torso sinks further into the vapors.
Tao: “HELP!! HELP!! SOMEBODY HELP!!”
Woman: “HEHEHE! HIHIHIHI!!”
He cries for help but no one could respond to them. The faces in the cloud has already ignored him and begin murmuring their pleas for help. The woman stands over him and cackles in his face.
Tao: “MNNGH! HMPHGH!!”
Tao tries to shake off the vapors as only the top of his head is left. His eyes dart around in fear as the vapor swallows him completely.
“Is anyone there? Please help..”
“Make it stop…”
“Uhuhuhu.. I don’t want to die.”
Tao is gone. Another victim to the ominous black cloud. All that remains is the demonic woman chuckling as she basks in the dim blue glow of the victims’ faces murmuring for help.
The strong winds dance around the top floors of the apartment building. On the tops floors, a few floors shy of the roof, the large form of the mythical magician stands at a veranda undisturbed. He has been peeing downwards, observing the chaos that has unfolded in the floor below.
Rosetta: “Xin Yi… It is amazing what the human imagination is capable of.”
He straightens his posture and peers over the wide empty streets below him.
Rosetta: “Thank you. That is impressive work.”
He looks up at the sky and his demeanor changes to a cold one.
Rosetta: “I see you up there. Your proxies. You are tenacious, Jeroth.”
He casts his senses behind him. The magic from the Chinese agents can be strongly felt from his position.
Rosetta: “Don’t get in my way. Especially with her.”
Rosetta: “I… Am prepared for war.”
His figure grows bigger. His back cracks and crackles as his 8 foot body stretches another 2 feet. His proportions turn bizarre as his limbs increase in length while his torso decreases in size. The tattered cloak that previously covered half of his back now covers his tiny torso completely while his limb extend from it like the long legs of a spider. His transformation is complete. Rosetta bend over to walk into the exit from the veranda.
Rosetta: “Preparations seems to be ready.”
He sits down on the floor, crossing his legs facing the veranda.
Rosetta: “Time to go.”
He swings his long arm overhead towards the veranda.
Across the street at another high-rise apartment building, a black mist appears in one of the top floors. The mist floats towards the center of the floor and comes across a gathering of mists. White, green, red; they all sport a unique color. Then, Rosetta’s voice emits from the black mist.
Rosetta: “Cemter. I’m here.”
The white mist in the middle of the group responds with Anne’s voice.
Anne: “Okay. Most of us are here. Let’s begin.”
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