The sniper and tracker see your startled expression and turn around. The tracker stiffens when she sees the sword.
“Nobody move,” the sniper says.
You’d like to sneak through the door, but that won’t solve the problem. The only way to eliminate the danger is to destroy the sword.
You sling the rifle onto your back and walk slowly to the front of the room. As you bend down to grab the axe, you keep your eyes on the sword. You grab the axe in both hands and stand. You take a step forward. You notice the floor is vibrating slightly.
“Wait,” the sniper says, holding up his hand. His eyes dart from the axe to the sword eagerly. He flexes his shoulders. “Let me do it.”
He’s stronger and has a better chance of actually destroying the sword. You hand him the axe and back away. The sniper steps to the side of the sword, holding the axe like a baseball bat. The floor starts to vibrate more noticeably and a low hum, barely audible, tickles your ears.
Suddenly, all of the tabs on your waist swing toward the sword.
You shout, “Wait!”
It’s too late. The sniper swings hard. The axe arcs wide and slams against the blade. A sharp clang rings out, only slightly louder than the boom your sniper’s head makes when it explodes. Bits of flesh, blood, and bone spray in all directions, peppering you with wet matter. The headless body launches upward and disappears into the ceiling. The sword is gone.
You stagger into the hallway holding your stomach with one hand and wiping your face with the other. The tracker emerges right behind you, squats down in the hall, and puts her head between her knees.
Miraculously, neither of you vomit.
After a few minutes, you glance at the black box on your belt. The needles quiver, showing small signs of otherworldly activity. The periodic fluctuations in the signal suggest something powerful nearby but its signal is muffled. Before you can dwell on it, the tracker stands and grabs her rifle.
“Let’s figure this out and get the hell out of here,” she says.
You follow the map straight to the lab without investigating any other rooms. Quick glances through other doors reveal scenes more violent than the conference room. After a few rooms, you finally stop looking. You’ve seen enough.
The lab is the largest room in the south wing and almost in the center of the facility. The wall facing the center is curved slightly and covered in the same runes you saw in the upstairs hallway.
The lab is in a state of disaster. You don’t see any blood, but the room looks like the aftermath of a panicked evacuation. Shattered glass and papers are scattered everywhere. A few computers had been set on desks but were knocked off and broken. Bookshelves line another wall, packed with old, leather-bound tomes and glass boxes filled with scrolls. The room looks more like a room for historical restoration than a laboratory.
The tracker steps around you. Her rifle is slung back and she has a small flashlight in her hand. She starts to wander through the array of tables. You do the same.
The majority of the papers look like classified research or memos bearing the emblem of the Unified Sovereignty of Mankind, the government that united the fragmented survivors after the invasion.
You turn your attention to the walls. A long piece of paper has been attached from one end of the room to the other. A timeline is drawn down the center, starting with year zero. Beneath the number are words in various languages. You recognize two names at the bottom: Adam and Eve.
You walk along the wall, surveying the span of worldly and religious events. Toward the end of the timeline, a red arrow marks the present day. It points to a spot on the timeline that reads “The Second Horseman of the Apocalypse”. A picture of a red horse is tacked beneath it.
You catch yourself before laughing out loud. Someone in the fledgling government has been taking their religious prophecy a little too seriously.
“Listen to this,” the tracker says. “Memo from Brass: First Rider of the Apocalypse caused humankind to be conquered and brought to near extinction by the armies of Hell. We have received your report on Second Rider. His mission will turn the remnants of man against each other in war. Detailed analysis is required on detainment of Second Rider and possible repercussions of —”
She flips the paper over but it’s blank. You’ll never find the second page in this mess.
“Repercussions of preventing God from ending the world, I guess,” she says.
You chuckle and reply, “Well, if you see an angel on a giant red horse, try to detain them.”
You both glance around the laboratory one last time. There’s nothing more you can do here.
According to the map, the hall is supposed to end at the laboratory, yet it continues to curve around, out of sight.
You wonder if there’s an unmarked exit in that direction and decide to follow the hall. As you round the corner, the cement wall transitions into thick glass, revealing the hidden silo at the center of the complex.
Inside stands an enormous red horse. Smoke billows from its nostrils. It swings its massive head around, regarding you with an obsidian eye.
At the end of the hall there are two doors. One is above you, accessible by a flimsy metal stair. Its symbol has a large gash through it, rendering it inactive. The door beneath it bears an active symbol. You don’t recognize either symbol, though now you understand why: You were trained to use symbols that pertain to demons. These apply to angels.
What do you do?
A: Use the door above (inactive symbol)
B: Use the door below (active symbol)
Vote in the comments or on Twitter at #site27. Voting ends Tuesday night. The highest vote will be the next step in the story, posted on Fridays.
Image courtesy of clickerjac.
UPDATE: Voting is now closed. Thanks to everyone who participated! See you on Friday for Part 6.