“What are we going to do?” Francis asks as he continues to race up the stairs. He doesn’t know what floor he has just passed. He just knows that he will not be able to keep this up forever.
“Get to the top.” Denise declares feeling her legs grow weak and her breath becoming short. She won’t be able to keep this up much longer.
“We need to get to a lift.” Wayne declares.
“Try the next floor.” He quickly adds before they reach it while bounding up the stairs as fast as their waning legs will carry them. No one, no matter how fit they are, would be able to run up flight after flight after flight of stairs for maybe a hundred floors.
Wayne has to admit that he doesn’t know exactly how tall Cain Tower is, but his and Angus’ guess was always a hundred floors. It’s a nice round number and the sort of thing that a name like Donald Cain would do. But he could be wrong he knows as they reach the next floor. Wayne sees the sign that declares this is the fifteenth floor. Is that all? He thinks with a shake of his head. He would have thought they’d have managed more, but he supposes that it will have to do. After all, it’s not like he can magically make it so they are on a higher floor than they actually are.
But as the trio round a corner they see a detachment of Cain Guards heading their way. There are seven in total and all of them are armed with batons. Wayne knows they’ll be shock batons overcharged to deliver higher than normal voltages. At the very least they’ll cause an arm or leg to become numb and unresponsive and at worst kill.
“We need to find that lift now!” Wayne announces as the three of them dive down a corridor.
They have no place to hide as the internal walls are glass. Francis tries a door but it’s locked. It’s set into the only walls that aren’t glass. Maybe one will be open, he thinks as he tries the next. But that one too is locked. He barges it with his shoulder hoping that it might give but he quickly learns the door is solid metal. His shoulder throbs in pain as he holds it with his other hand.
“You ok?” Denise asks worried.
“We won’t get through these. They’re solid metal by looks of things.” Francis informs.
“Keep moving. The lift is our only hope.” Wayne orders. He knows Francis is hoping for another option, but this place is in lock down. It doesn’t look like its recent either from the layer of dust on everything. He doubts Denise and Francis have noticed that and he doesn’t blame them. Survival is more important than taking note of such a minor detail, but still it makes Wayne wonder.
“This way.” Denise calls as she turns right at a fork in the corridor.
The Cain Guards are quickly closing in on them. They need to find the lift and fast if they are to avoid a fight. Wayne isn’t sure they’ll be able to avoid it.
“Francis, you armed?” Wayne asks suddenly remembering that Bart had been wielding a hammer. The only place he could have got it is Francis seeing as Denise has the other.
“No. Bart took the…” Francis begins.
“I know. Just stay ahead of me then.” Wayne interjects before making sure to reassure the young man of what he has to do if the worst does happen and they end up in a fight. The young farmer will have no chance without a weapon he knows, but he doesn’t have anything else he can give him to defend himself.
“What’s that? I see something up ahead.” Francis then shouts as he points ahead of him.
Denise turns her attention back to the corridor stretching before her. Her eyes go wide as more Cain Guards are running straight for her.
“Cain’s!” Denise exclaims as she dives left down a new corridor. It isn’t the direction she wanted to head, but she has no choice she knows as Francis and Wayne follow close behind.
“Lift must have been that way.” Francis announces. He knows it’s obvious and isn’t sure why he says it.
“Next right Denise.” Wayne orders seemingly having read Denise’s mind. But as she turns the corner she is met by Cain Guards. One swings its overcharged baton, which she just manages to leap back to avoid being hit with, cursing as she does.
“Not this way.” Denise informs as she begins to back away quickly.
“Over here.” Francis calls as Cain Guards converge on them from two separate directions.
Denise spins round to see Francis has found a narrower corridor. She hopes it doesn’t result in a dead end. It looks like the kind of passage that would. However, they have no other option, she has to admit, so dives down it after Francis. Wayne meanwhile simply backs up, swinging the axe as he does. It’s an attempt to keep the Cain Guards at bay. His weapons reach is greater than theirs, though they can attack quicker he knows. He just has to hold them at bay long enough to; he thinks as he reaches the narrow corridor before making one last swing. Several Cain Guards leap back to avoid the attack, which gives Wayne just enough time to spin on his heels and race after Denise and Francis.
“Come on Wayne. We’ve got to go.” Denise calls down the narrow corridor to him as he looks over his shoulder to see the Cain Guards are closing.
His axe swinging definitely bought them time, but is it enough? He wonders as he sees the sudden sharp turn, which he takes. Several of the Cain Guards don’t and go slamming into the wall permitting others to take the lead in the chase of the rebel. One even manages to throw his overcharged shock baton at Wayne, who just so happens to look over his shoulder and see it in time to dodge it. If the baton had hit him he’d have dropped to the floor and that would have been the end of him. He has to be more careful, he tells himself as he takes another left and quickly leaves the narrower corridor. Denise and Francis are waiting at the exit. He has no idea why and is about to call out to them when they trigger the doors he didn’t even know existed. They slam shut and lock, cutting the Cain Guards off from them. Unfortunately, they still aren’t safe as through the glass partitions Wayne spots several more detachments heading their way.
“We’ve got to go. Move it!” Wayne shouts as he breaks back into a run.
“I can see the lift. It’s not far!” Wayne bellows over his shoulder as Francis and Denise race after him.
It’s going to be close but they can make it, he tells himself. Though, he might have to hold the zealots off so Denise and Francis can continue ahead. He doesn’t want to, but he knows he might have to. You don’t often get what you want, or deserve, in Shamballah, he thinks as he pushes himself.
“They’ll beat us there.” Francis declares without slowing. He is convinced they aren’t going to make it.
“Keep pushing.” Denise calls urging Francis not to give up.
Denise is right, Francis tells himself, we have to make it. I can’t give up now. I’ve made it this far. We all have, he thinks before suddenly his subconscious decides to remind him of those that have not been as fortunate. This isn’t the time, he says berating himself angrily. That’s not helpful. I know. I will never forget. How can I? But his subconscious does nothing in response.
“Almost there.” Denise calls as Wayne reduces his pace so he doesn’t overshoot the lift.
He stabs the call button, cursing the lift for not being ready and waiting for them to board it upon their arrival. The lift isn’t sentient and has no way of knowing it is needed, but it makes Wayne feel marginally better to berate it.
“Be ready for a fight.” Wayne announces as he raises his axe. Denise covers the lift from the other side. But there were no zealots following them. Instead all the attackers are heading straight for them. Francis bangs on the lift doors urging them to hurry up. It won’t help and he knows it, but he’s thankful that neither of his compatriots are attempting to get him to stop. In fact, they both understand his actions and if they were not preparing to fight and weren’t armed they’d be doing much the same.
Then the lift doors slide open and Francis sighs with relief as he jumps into the empty lift. He hadn’t even considered that it might not be empty.
“Come on!” He calls to Denise and Wayne.
Denise quickly slides into the lift space as Wayne begins to slowly back up.
“Wayne.” Francis roars urging the big man to get on the lift. He hopes he doesn’t plan to do what Bart did. He doesn’t know for sure that the welder did, but he can guess. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to be able to.
“Hit the button. I’ll get on as the doors are closing.” Wayne promises. Francis isn’t sure he believes the engineer and hesitates for a few seconds. He even looks at Denise who by the look on her face doesn’t believe his promise either.
“Fiftieth floor it is.” Francis announces as he slams the button.
“Fiftieth? That isn’t enough. Cain’s on the top floor.” Wayne protests.
“It’s the last button here.” Denise clarifies.
“Fuck!” Wayne spits sure there are more floors to this tower than that. Not that it matters right now. First they have to escape the Cain Guards before they can worry about what comes next.
“Doors are closing.” Denise says frantic.
Wayne glances over his shoulder to see that they really are closing. He debates whether to stay behind, but ultimately instead jumps through the narrowing gap and just as the Cain Guards reach his former position.
The Cain Guards swipe and stab at the ever decreasing gap of the lift doors, but Francis, Denise and Wayne press themselves to the back of the lift. It, like everything here, is exquisitely decorated with lavish materials and is big enough to hold twenty six or seven people.
The batons miss and are retracted just in time to avoid being crushed by the doors in the moments before the lift begins to ascend.
“Oh.” Francis lets out a massive sigh of relief as he tries to get his ragged breathing under control. He hopes whatever they face on the fiftieth floor isn’t as bad as this. Not that he can imagine what could be worse than what they have just faced, as he tells himself that this is about a bad as things could get.
“Wayne…why did you say fifty isn’t enough?” Denise asks now that they are safe. At least they will be while this lift is still in motion anyway.
“Angus and I. We were sure there are more floors.” Wayne replies honestly.
“How many more?” Denise quickly asks.
“Maybe another fifty.” Wayne says wishing he didn’t have to deliver such bad news, but wincing as he does.
“We’re only going to be half way?” Francis exclaims exhausted by the seemingly endless setbacks they keep suffering.
“When were you going to tell us this?” Denise queries.
“I-I don’t know. I didn’t think we’d come face to face with whoever that was that killed Sandra in the lobby.” Wayne admits.
“What has that got to do with anything?” Denise asks through gritted teeth. She can barely believe Wayne has left such a vital piece of information out until now. She wonders if he’s done it on purpose, but she knows that it isn’t fair to accuse him of such a thing. However, that doesn’t make her feel any less angry.
“There must be another lift that goes the rest of the way.” Francis offers trying to be helpful. He gets that Denise is angry and she is right, but they have to focus on what they do next and not on the things that they can’t change.
“We just have to find it and then we’ll reach Cain.” Wayne adds.
“This will all be over soon.” Wayne continues.
“Yeah.” Is all Denise manages to say as the lift doors open. She can’t bring herself to say anything else as she doesn’t know what else she can say, if she’s honest with herself.
Wayne sticks his head out into the corridor but finds it’s empty, much to his relief. In fact, it looks like this whole floor might be empty. There are no other walls except the glass ones that make up the outer walls of the building. It strikes him as odd as he nods in confirmation that the coast is clear. At which point Denise and Francis step off the lift to join him mere seconds later.
“What do you think our chances of finding the lift behind this one are?” Francis asks as he looks beyond the glass outer walls of the building at the other towers of Shamballah around them. Some of the buildings he can see the terminations off, others he can’t, but all of them are impressive glass and metal supported shapes that gleam in the light. The sky above them is a vibrant blue devoid of clouds as the sun is beginning to fall back toward the horizon once more.
“None.” Captain Lars Penbrook says as he stands between the trio and progress. He knows this is the rebel’s last stand and that they will have to get past him to get to the lift that will grant them the ability to ascend to the top of the tower and reach Donald Cain himself. Lars doesn’t plan to let that happen.
He could have waited on the top floor of this tower, but that would put the rebels too close to the great man himself and Lars won’t allow that. He has no doubt he can best this scum, but that doesn’t mean he will allow their presence to sully the saviour’s abode. It’s bad enough that they are within the walls of his great tower, but to allow them to reach the ninetieth floor is something he as a Captain of the Cain Guard refuses to allow.
Instead, Lars simply sneers at the trio of rebels. They disgust him in every way. All the lowers disgust him. They are ungrateful and filthy creatures who have forgotten that without Donald Cain they would be dead. He saved them, all of them, and for that they should be eternally grateful, he thinks as he stands there with his thin bladed rapier in his hand. He is ready for a fight, but wonders if the same can be said of his adversaries. The large man certainly looks it, the other two Lars is not so sure. They both look weak and afraid.
But it doesn’t matter to Lars, he will cut them down no matter what. They have blasphemed and he will make them pay for it. Size and aggression will not save them, nor will their pathetic tools which they brandish as weapons.
“You shall not pass.” Lars then announces making it clear what will come next, if it somehow wasn’t already obvious. He doesn’t know it can’t be, but they are from the lower levels after all.
Lars can see the wide eyes of the young man, Francis Marr. The one intelligence is sure is a top ranking member of the rebels. But there isn’t a rebellion now. These three are all that remains. The Cain Guard have made sure of that. It gives Lars a sense of satisfaction to know that another rebellion has failed. Though, it seems hard to believe that this young man, barely more than a boy, is a major part of the rebels’ hierarchy. He seems too afraid, too weak, and he doesn’t even seem to be armed, Lars notes as he looks over him. The woman on the other hand seems stronger, though still weak. She won’t take long to dispatch, and she is at least armed, even if it is only a hammer that she wields. He wonders what she hopes to achieve with it. Lars knows that she can hope to achieve little with it. His reach is greater and he will make her suffer for her stupidity. He will make them all suffer.
He does have to admit though that the large man is clearly the only real threat, even if he is armed with an axe. It’s a slow weapon with equal reach to his own blade, but Lars can move quicker with his weapon and that is how he will win. He knows victory is assured as he takes a step forward smiling evilly.
“Stay back. I’ll handle this.” Wayne orders as he stretches his arm out from his side, the axe in his other hand.
“Wayne, you can’t do this alone!” Denise exclaims disturbed by his demand.
While it is true that Wayne is bigger, stronger and wielding a better weapon than her, she cannot let him do this alone.
“Dammit Denise! Francis look after her!” Wayne roars.
Francis hasn’t got a clue what Wayne expects him to do. He is no fighter. He doesn’t even have a weapon. How is he supposed to protect Denise? After all, she is a rebel, he isn’t. It’s more likely to be the other way round, but Francis never gets the chance to say a thing as Wayne rushes toward Captain Penbrook.
Lars anticipated that this would be what the large man would do. It doesn’t surprise him and it won’t help. The Cain Guard captain knows that Wayne hopes to overwhelm him with his size and muscle, but he’ll soon learn how foolish such a hope is.
Wayne raises the axe above his head with both hands ready to bring it down as he closes on Lars, but suddenly he tosses the axe toward the Captain. Lars’ eyes go wide in shock. He had never dreamed Wayne would throw the axe straight at him. Nevertheless he manages to duck and avoid the weapon with ease, as it tumbles end over end. Had he not it would have slammed blade first into his chest, splitting his rib cage open. The impact would have killed him immediately.
He’s underestimated the large man, but he’s unarmed now and smiles at the victory that he is sure is already his as the axe looses momentum and drops to the floor, where it embeds itself blade first. Lars isn’t concerned though, Wayne will have to get past him to reach the weapon and that isn’t going to happen.
Lars readies himself to attack, his blade pointed upward vertically. But suddenly Denise springs into view with the hammer arcing round to hit Lars. He sees the swing but only just as he leaps back. Her wide swipe misses and he delivers a kick to her shoulder that throws her onto her back. Lars goes to stab with his blade but Wayne is on him now. The large man swings his fists furiously. Lars dodges right then left then right again. The man’s fists are no match for his sword he knows as she uses the flat of the blade to slap them away.
But Wayne ignores the sting of the metal that is being slapped against his bare skin as he forces Lars into a retreat. Denise clambers back to her feet with the help of a frantic and terrified Francis, who grabs the hammer. He is sure it is better in his care than hers. She could have got herself killed being so rash, but somehow it had worked out. Francis is relieved as his head whips round searching for the lift. It doesn’t take him long to spot it, but when he does his heart sinks.
“He’s blocking our path.” Francis announces as he points past the fight between Captain Penbrook and Wayne to the glass walled lift.
“Wayne, the lift is past him!” Denise shouts loudly.
Wayne hears her and nods. He’d figured as much. But first he has to push this zealot back and re-arm himself.
“We need to help him.” Denise urges trying to get the hammer off Francis.
“No. You heard Wayne. You need to stay back.”
“Coward.” Denise spits shocked that Francis is willing to allow Wayne to go into certain doom alone against the monster that killed Sandra right before their eyes.
“The Cain Guard is faster and has more reach than you or I would with this hammer. It’s not cowardice, its reality.” Francis replies. He feels hurt by Denise’s words but he knows them to be true. He is a coward, but that is how he has survived this long and seeing as Denise and Wayne are the last of the rebels, Francis thinks that it is proof that it is better to be a coward than not.
“We can’t just stand here and wait for him to die.” Denise says trying to reason for Francis. But deep down a part of her knows he’s right. She doesn’t want to admit it and hates herself that there is even a small part of her that agrees, but he is telling the truth.
Wayne however, has managed to push Lars back far enough that the axe is now in close proximity again. So Wayne lunges for the Cain Guard captain, who steps aside to avoid the attack. But as soon as he does so he realises his error.
Wayne goes slamming to the hard stone floor, which he slides across towards the axe. Lars’ eyes go wide as he leaps forward hoping to cut the large man off from his prize. However, Lars is too late. Wayne grabs hold of the axe and wrenches it free before rolling onto his back with the axe in both hands. He uses the axes long metal handle to block Captain Penbrook’s thin bladed rapier.
The blade clashes with the metal handle of the axe and slides furiously several inches one direction and then the other making a grating sound as it slips and slides. The sound hurts both Wayne and Lars’ ears as they wince in unison before Wayne delivers a hard kick to the zealots’ leg. The impact knocks Captain Penbrook off balance enough that he stumbles away. The brief respite allows Wayne to quickly jump back to his feet. But Lars too has recovered and manages to duck the slow axe swipe, seeing his opportunity he thrusts his blade forward. The needle like tip of the blade disappears into Wayne’s gut. The large man roars in pain as he tries to bring the axe back only for Lars to hit him in the jaw with his gauntleted fist. The impact throws Wayne’s head left, the axe slipping from his grip.
The weapon clatters to the floor and skitters out of reach as Lars drives the blade further in, pushing Wayne back as he does. The pair manage only a few steps before the point of the rapier jabs into the glass of the outer wall. Wayne snarls at Lars who smiles back sickly.
“This is where your little rebellion dies.” Captain Penbrook says arrogantly. He knows he has won. Nothing can stop him. Wayne was his only real threat and Lars has bested him with ease.
“Not today.” Wayne spits as he wraps his left arm round Lars’ back and pulls him closer. The thin blade is driven further through his flesh in response to the action. The pain Wayne feels causes him to scream in agony, but it aids him as the tip pierces and shatters the glass outer wall of the building.
“Wayne!” Denise cries as she and Francis run toward him and Captain Penbrook.
“This is for all those you’ve killed.” Wayne whispers into Lars’ ear as he grabs the back of the captain’s neck and grips it tightly.
Lars’ eyes go wide as it dawns on him what the large man intends to do. He’s been played, he realises.
Lars tries to fight it but the larger man is just too strong for him to break free. He has too much muscle and power for him to do anything about his situation as the winds rip through the now gaping maw in the towers wall.
Lars can’t believe how strong the force of the wind is up here. It is like nothing he has ever experienced as it pulls on him and Wayne.
Wayne smiles at Denise and Francis who we can see are screaming and shouting something, but he can’t hear their words. He can guess them though and they give him comfort. They will have to finish what Angus and he started. He knows they will do it. Cain will cause no more suffering.
Then Wayne hauls Lars off his feet, only about an inch, but it’s enough as he edges awkwardly and off-balance backwards.
Lars screams and cries, but Wayne doesn’t listen to his words as he throws his weight and that of Lars sideways so that they are past the point of no return. Wayne and Lars go tumbling out the remains of the glass wall toward the street below. Wayne accepts his end as he takes solace in the fact that he will be the death of this Cain Guard monster.
Denise and Francis reach the gaping ragged hole in the glass but they are too late. Wayne is gone. Denise screams as she bursts into tears overwhelmed by her emotions, while Francis simply stares at the space Wayne had been occupying moments earlier. He can’t believe what the hulking former engineer turned rebel has done and he regrets not doing something to help him fight that Cain Guard when he’d had the chance.
Denise, on her knees continues to weep. She sees no point in going on now. The revolution is dead. She is all that is left and she can’t do it. Not without Wayne, Sandra and Bart. They’ve failed. She’s failed, she hears a voice in her head say as much and she knows it to be true.
“Denise.” Francis says after a time.
“We need to go.” Francis continues. He understands why she is beside herself, but they can’t stay here. It’s too dangerous.
“What’s the point?” Denise asks still sobbing uncontrollably.
“To end it.” Francis answers honestly.
“I’m all that’s left. I can’t. He’s won.” Denise says defeated.
“If you give up Cain wins. You might be the last rebel, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost.”
“One person is all it takes Denise. Don’t let Bart, Sandra and Wayne’s deaths be in vain.” Francis continues. He doesn’t know where these words are coming from, but he somehow believes them.
Denise looks up at Francis who is stood beside her. She only now notices that his hand is on her shoulder. He’s right, but still she can’t bring herself to move.
“We’re so close. We can make Donald Cain pay for all those lives he’s destroyed and stop him from destroying any more in the future.”
“We?” Denise says in surprise when it dawns on her that Francis isn’t saying you. She hadn’t expected that. In fact, it had never crossed her mind that it was we, and not she. She looks up into his eyes studying him.
“Yes, we.” Francis confirms with a weak smile.
“Now come on. We have to move.” Francis orders as he holds out his hand to help Denise back to her feet. She hesitates for a while, she doesn’t know how long, before she takes his hand and climbs back to her feet.
Francis offers another smile before reclaiming Wayne’s Axe, which he offers to her. Denise however, shakes her head.
“You keep hold of it.” Denise replies closing her hand over his. Francis simply nods in response.