Laurence was awake from the moment the base was breached. Long ago, he had put small arrays on each door, to notify him when any of the entrances were forced open. He had never thought that they would actually come into use, but he had used some sort of warning system at the entrance of his sleeping areas since he was in the primeval first floor. These had not necessarily saved his life, but they had allowed him to avoid many a rude awakening in the form of unwanted animal attention.
He dressed and began to move towards the breach. The sounds of people yelling and crying echoed through the tunnels of the Spring Street Bashers while he ran, but he had yet to see anyone. There was something going horribly wrong in the gang today. Finally, as he worked his way towards the breach he began coming across small bulwarks, prepared for when whoever was fighting needed to retreat back into the base. The bulwarks were rather slipshod, but over recent days there had been practice setting them up, so they were efficiently placed if nothing else.
Laurence sprinted down a corridor, leaping over the crates and sandbags set up at random intervals through the tunnel. After a couple minutes of solid running he came across the back lines of the battle going on. Through the three offshoot tunnels people were beginning to be pushed back. No matter where Laurence looked, he could see the desperate faces of people trying to protect their home. All these people, children and adults alike had nowhere else to go, and so would fight to protect the little that they had.
This can’t go on… Laurence thought to himself. He had to do something, this place was his too. This time he could not lose himself though. If he had lost against the maelstrom snake while he was berserking everything else would suffer. He got lucky last time, and he realised that, so he steeled his mind and began looking around for someone who knew what was going on.
Grabbing a person who seemed to be leading the recovery effort, he looked at the boy, who was only a few years older than him, and asked, “What’s going on?”
“There’s someone invading the caverns. Help us! The left side path has more people in it, but it’s the one being pushed back most. The people attacking us seem to be putting all their fighters there for some reason. The other two paths have a small attacking force”. The boy looked around, at the people being pulled out of the paths due to injury and then back at Laurence. Realising who he was for the first time the boy asked, “You’re Laurence right? I know you’re strong. Could you go down the left path so we lose less people down there. We can’t hold it with the amount of people we have at the moment”.
Laurence thought for a moment. He personally would have put himself in one of the less populated paths, so he could cut the enemy off and flank them, but this was not his battlefield, so he nodded and ran down the left path. He jumped over bodies that had been put placed out in the path, many men and children who were simply too injured to recover, or who had wounds that meant that they could not be moved. It was a bitter path, but it did not faze Laurence. Around ten seconds after leaving the boy in command, he arrived at the bank that was serving as a back for the gang to defend from. He could see the mass of bodies that made up the fray, and saw as the people in front of him were being pushed back. He knew the only thing he could do was pull his hammer out and stand his ground. He had tried to avoid killing since he had joined the gang. He had been told that it would cause problems with the Bobbies if they caught on, so he had been avoiding it, but now was not the time for kindness. His home was being invaded and it was time to heed the call to arms.
Pulling the hammer out of his bag, he slowly pushed forward, through the crowd, until he reached the front lines. He smiled as he saw the front layer of combat, and felt his pulse raise in a way the thievery simply could not perform. He knew that the calm would be coming soon, so he steeled himself and raised his hammer. He pushed forward once more and immediately began cleaving his great weight from side to side.
Bodies began crumpling in front of Laurence, and the weight was quickly lifted off the front lines, but still Laurence did not stop. Every third or fourth swing he would take a step forward and shake off the flecks of blood that covered his hammer. His body was slowly being covered in blood as well, but he could not shake it off his skin and clothes as easily as he could his hammer. To the members of Spring Street he was a blood soaked angel of vengeance, but to the attackers he was like a demon that had come from the abyss to end them. He was the grim reaper incarnate, and with each swing of his hammer, he would reap a life. He seemed unstoppable, and the momentum of the battle seemed to be shifting in the direction of Spring Street.
He pushed the troupe back and back, past some of the ransacked store rooms, passed the hallway that contained Jim’s bedroom, all the way back to the Colosseum where he had taken the test to join the gang. In the room there were people from the attacking troupe, and one man, who was sitting in the middle of the stage. He commanded the area with his presence alone, even though he had his eyes closed and he seemed to be in some sort of meditative state. Dotted around the room were other men and women, of varying ages, but all of them wore the same uniform. It was a simple grey dogi, with a red belt around their waist. The man on the stage wore something that echoed the uniform, but his was far more ornate than the plain clothes of his companions.
Realising that a crowd of people had just entered, the man opened his eyes. He scanned the crowd and pointed at Laurence. “You, boy. You’re Law, aren’t you? I was sent here to kill you. Do you have anything to say about that?”
“Not really,” Laurence replied. “I mean you can try, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Many others had tried, including a giant snake”.
“A challenger, eh? Well, I guess you’re a golden child as well”. He stood up, and placed his hands together. “Come, fight me. I have always wanted to fight one of you kids, to see if you are worth the danger that us normal challengers have to experience when climbing because of you”.
Laurence hopped onto the stage and pointed his hammer at the man. “Aren’t you going to take your weapon out to fight me?”
“Why should I fight you with a weapon? I’m better with my fists anyway”. The man let his hands fall by his sides, and smiled. “Come. If you’re good enough I might even spare your life”.