Atlas knew it was already too late to regret anything at this point. He cursed the strange things called Fate and Destiny.
He turned around to see if Vanessa and the crew had hidden inside the chopper. But he saw something else.
“Stand behind and don’t get near me!” he shouted.
“I’ll help you!” James seemed to be carrying a gun.
“You’d be a burden! Just listen to me!” Atlas felt something deep within him.
Mike’s hands were trembling as he held another gun himself. “He seemed to know what to do, James.
James stared at Mike and grabbed him on his collar. “He’s just an overgrown guy!”
“Just look at him ran!” Mike said. “He’s no human…”
James threw him away. “Coward.”
Vanessa faced James. “Mike’s right–so please put your gun away, James. Let go inside.”
“Vanessa—,” James said, “how could you?”
“Please…” Vanessa pleaded. Her hands were visibly trembling.”F***! Let that prick die if that is what he wants! F***!” He went inside the chopper and threw the gun while grumbling.
Clamping her hand, Vanessa looked at Atlas’s lonely back and closed her eyes. “God, please…”
Fate and Destiny had really given Atlas such a great surprise. Yes, indeed, but this gift was something he didn’t want to be given. Such great mishaps. Or so he thought.
“What a blunder,” he said. “You could have given me something else.”
He shook his head and turned to the creature that was at least 2-meter tall. From head to its tail, it would be easy 3-meter long. And it probably weighed more than three tons considering it had these massive platting like armor. Even most modern tanks platings would fall short compared to those things. Not only that. It had these two razor-sharp horns the would certainly skewer anyone to death and teeth that would certainly bite the life out of him if he gets too close. It’s just like adding a cherry on top of a delicious cake.
The glaring part was its eyes—It was serene blue. Those eyes were totally out of sync with its monstrous appearance. Those eyes seemed to be beaming with intelligence. It was not mere monster–it was a monster of its own realm.
While running straight ahead, Atlas felt that his heart seemed to be beating faster and faster at an exponential rate. At the same time, he could feel his limbs getting lighter. In a span of a few seconds, his entire body felt lighter than ever before. Atlas could feel the air coming in and out from his body.
The beast seemed to slow down. No, everything slowed down by a notch. He saw the fine dust particles in the air encircling the creature as it sped close to him… It was at that moment, Atlas saw blinking white light on the neck of the beast.
A gentle voice whisper to him.
“Look within yourself and tell what you see…”
“I see hope in the darkest of places. I see it as bright as the sun in the skies!”
“Yes,” it said. “That’s it.”
Outside of his perception, the gigantic creature was roaring. It charger to him with speed faster than most sports cars running at maximum speed.
The bull-like creature was getting closer and closer. It was only a matter of time.
20 meters! His heart was beating crazy as it circulated blood to his entire body.
5 meters!— It was when his heart stopped beating for a moment. He vanished out of thin air. He was so fast it looked like he vanished from the world.
Boom! The sprinting bull suddenly stopped moving in the same spot as cracks formed on the ground beneath it. Atlas appeared. He was already in front of the creature grabbing its horn. Then he smashed it to the ground by twisting its neck. Another explosion erupted! The earth trembled and went “Boom!” Dust spread throughout the place covering both Atlas and the beast. Everything happened in merely a few seconds.
He could smell the strange scent of iron and dust as blood trickled down his mouth.
Finally, when the dust settled, the beast could be seen squirming on the ground. The last struggle. Atlas, on the other hand, was already looking at the sky with his body on the ground. He sighed. He was exhausted and he was in pain. Atlas just wanted to go home now.
Atlas Nightshade knew the moment something big was going to happen–and he had come to fight whatever it was that was coming for him. It was either he or the things that were chasing him dies. It was a matter of survival.
Things would have been easy if he had strength left, but not after doing everything he had done today. Unfortunately, he had spent it earlier and had already lost almost all of his fighting capabilities.
Everything would have been easy if he had the feather’s power for a few more seconds. But he didn’t want to use it any longer. No, he didn’t want to borrow it. After all, It wasn’t his in the first place. He was just relying on its monstrous power in exchange for something he’d value. But, at the end of the day, he would lose much more that he was willing. He had already lost a lot of things on this day. And he couldn’t bear to gamble everything on that power that wasn’t even his in the first place.
He stared at the beast, that had already lost its life. It wasn’t the first time he saw kind of thing. But to chase him from who knows where—was his first. Atlas didn’t know how it came here and chased him. Was after him or the strange thing his father left? He didn’t know. That’s for sure.
“Hey,” he said, “didn’t we closed the gates?”
“Yes, we did.” replied the feather that was etched on his chest.
“But why is it here, and how did it find me?” he asked.
Atlas didn’t receive any reply at all. He didn’t bother much—he would just ask him later after everything is fine. “You’d better give me an answer later. I’ve already paid you a part of my life.
“What do you still want from me?”
“Tell me!” he said. “What do you want more from me!”
“…hmph, you wouldn’t understand…”
“But I deserve to know!”
“The time will come for you to know everything, and there’s only one thing you need to know—get stronger! Because this is not the end.”
“You’re telling me this is just the beginning?” His face was smiling.
“You already know the answer, Atlas,” it continued. “You can’t cover the sky with your hands forever, Boy!”
“Then if war is what they want—then hell is what I will give them!”
It laughed with a voice that was ever-changing. “You talk hell as if it is a walk in a park. You must first experience Hell to know what Hell truly means…”
“Sometimes you say the strangest thing,” Atlas retorted. “You know that?”
“Anyway,” it said, ” you don’t worry, Atlas. You’ll be there soon–no, we’ll be there soon. Trust me!”
“What?” he asked. “What do you mean by that?”
“Hell will come to those who mock it!” It laughed like mad.
“But you, yourself, is hell to me. Don’t you know that?”
“Well, thank you!”
When the crew saw the dust settled down, they waited for more than a minute before taking action.
“Did you see what he did?” Mike’s eyes were shining like stars.
Before anyone could answer Mike’s question, someone was already running straight to the scene.
“What are you waiting for?” James said. “Let’s go and help him.”
He picked up the gun that he had thrown away earlier and dashed to the giant crevice. “S***, I guess I was wrong about her.”
“You were wrong all along,” Mike said, “Mr-I-know-everything.”
“Oh, please shut up and start running.” James laughed.
Atlas could clearly remember that he gave them instructions to hide inside the chopper. He knew and they knew that many horrible things would happen if the creature were still alive. They would certainly die without leaving anything.
“Atlas! Atlas! Where are you!”
He could hear someone shouting his name above the crevices. Judging from the sound of it… he guessed who it was.
“I’m alright, “he assured Vanessa. “I’m right here. It’s safe.”
“Thank god,” she said, “thank god.” It seemed that she was about to cry. It made Atlas felt sour since he didn’t want to handle a crying woman.
“It’s alright,” he shouted. “Didn’t I tell everything is fine?”
The crevices were about 5 meters in diameter. From afar it looked like a volcano had erupted there. When Vanessa came close to the entrance, Atlas was nowhere to be found.
There was a giant creature there with a broken neck. It was not moving so she presumed it to be dead. But it was just too grotesque that she wasn’t able to calm down and let out a cry.
“Where are you!” she cried. She seemed scared to get near the creature, but she went on the other side of it while trembling.
“I’m right here,” Atlas said. “I can’t move for the meantime.”
“Okay,” she said, “just stay there and I’ll be there.”
Atlas laughed. “Then can you please look after me?”
Vanessa seemed flustered for being asked a favor. She seemed to be confused as to what to do in this kind of situation. She tried to calm down by inhaling and exhaling. But as she got closer. She saw Atlas there lying on the ground. For her, it was a miracle to survive such a clash. She appeared to be on the verge of crying as she got closer to him.
Atlas smiled. “Why are you crying?”
“I—i—it looks painful.” She stared at Atlas’s left hand. It was a bend in a very strange way.
“Don’t die please!” She tried to hide her face with her hand.
Atlas gentle-hands wiped away the tear on her face with his remaining arm and smiled. “It’ll be fine. I’ve already said before to you that everything is gonna be alright. So, don’t cry okay.”
Kneeling down the ground, she took a handkerchief out and gently wiped the dirt on his face. “Why are you so kind?”
“Because the world is unkind to me…” he laughed. “But not unkind enough for me to not help the people who I can help.”
She could sense the sadness within those heartfelt words of his.
While gently fixing him up, Vanessa kept on sneaking a look at his broken arm. Atlas was in great pain, but he kept on smiling at her.
“It doesn’t hurt as you think it is. I can even keep on fighting monsters of that level…”
“You’re bad at lying…” She continued to wipe the sweat on his forehead.
Atlas laughed but he didn’t say anything.
“I-I-I,” she stuttered, “don’t know what to do or feel right now. But don’t worry help will come.”
“Yes,” he said, “I hope help will come.”
“Atlas where are you?” James shouted above the crevice. “You f****** prick!” When he took a peek inside the hole, he looked like he saw a ghost. “What the heck is that!”
“I’m here, James,” Vanessa said. “He’s severely injured.”
James seemed to be braver than he sounds. “Got him right!” he said. “He could have gotten our help but he wouldn’t. Who does he think is to save our lives without even worrying about his?” then he continued. “F-f-f****** prick!”
Catching up to James, Mike just arrived behind him and tapped his shoulder. “It’s okay to cry, Mate.”
But when Mike’s eyes went to the hole. “W—w—what the f*** is that?! Is it dead? We need to get out of here!”
His other counterpart wasn’t responding so he began shaking James back and forth. “James, what the heck are you doing? We’re gonna die!”
James slapped Mike’s face. “Get yourself together! No one is gonna die on my watch! Get them some water in the chopper and include the first aid kit.”
The slapped was so strong it dispersed every sweat on Mike’s face on the air. “Yes, sir.”
Hearing the ruckus, Atlas giggled. “What a fun bunch.”
“I agree!” Vanessa seconded.