Chapter 16: Rise Of Morpheus
Gold, Charon and Hades arrived in Tartarus now, and a only a door stood between them and the Titans.
“So,” Gold said casually. “Shall we knock?”
“I don't know,” Charon said awkwardly. “The door seems too...grand.”
Hades stepped forwards and kicked the door. The millennia-old, thousand-foot high wooden door came off its hinges and flew through the next chamber. From around the corner, Prometheus's head poked out.
“What the hell?” Prometheus yelled.
“You are surprised?” Hades asked. “Here you are, occupying my domain?”
“This was never under you control!” Prometheus hissed.
“All of the Underworld is mine! As it always has been!” Hades roared.
“Quiet.” came another voice: Cronus.
“Ah, father.” Hades said. “At last I see you again.”
“Indeed,” Cronus stated. “It has been too long.”
“Not long enough.” Hades spat. “You tried to eat us at birth, remember?”
“And you cast me from my throne.” Cronus retorted. “Aren't we even yet?”
“Probably.” Hades admitted. “Anyway, Tahkshi wants you to be ready for the attack on Cinradahs.”
“We are.” Cronus rumbled. “We move out when you leave.”
“Fine.” Charon said. “We'll go then, shall we?”
“Yes.” Cronus rumbled, before looking down at Gold. “You...bastard child.”
Gold looked into Cronus's eyes and spat, “Die.” before turning and leaving with Hades and Charon.
Tahkshi looked up into the gargantuan figure of Morpheus above him, remembering that, while this may be just a dream, a death in Morpheus's nightmares was as permanent as it should be in real life.
“Ah, Morpheus.” Tahkshi smiled. “Long time, no see.”
“Indeed.” Morpheus hissed, his general state of talk.
Although...” Tahkshi said, “How'd you get off the AGN? I know Charon survived because he is just a soul and that can survive most things, but you? You have a body and all.”
“Ah, yes.” Morpheus hissed. “I survived the same way the Titans did: with a sacrifice to enter the Underworld. Charon and Gold taught me the trick, and Minos was dead near me. That clear things up? Of course, I was always working with the Olympians, so I reported back to Xaos, who asked me to be one of his Lords. I accepted.”
“And now, here you are.” Tahkshi said. “When did I fall asleep anyway?”
“You had just gone down the corridor and had got near to the Viretta's office, where the smoke was coming from. You were tired and couldn't see properly, so I administered chloroform and you fell into my claws.” Morpheus explained.
“So, you're just doing your nightmare thing, eh?” Tahkshi asked, “Because I think your appearance kinda ruined the reality of this.”
“Ah, Tahkshi.” Morpheus hissed. “So naïve. You don't have to believe it to be real to feel fear. Fear needs no reason to be. And anyway, dying here is as permanent is in real life.”
“True.” Tahkshi said. “But how can you kill me when the others can track me down soon enough?”
“I'm dealing with the others as we speak.” Morpheus spat, chunks of spittle landing on Tahkshi, who wiped them off and threw them to the ground. “I'm powerful now, Tahkshi. Stronger. I can separate my “dream” self, if you will, from my real self.”
Tahkshi nodded appreciatively. “So, where are my greatest fears?” He asked mockingly.
“They are already here, Tahkshi.” Morpheus hissed. “Inside of you, aching to be free.”
“That's a cop-out.” Tahkshi said.
“Just wait, Tahkshi.” Morpheus hissed as he withdrew from the hole in the ceiling.
He was replaced by fires and burning trees. Tahkshi closed his eyes forcefully, a wave of remembrance overwhelming him.
Trees burning, falling as the roots shrivelled up and died. People, innocent people screamed in fear as the forest burned and burned on the Adjeti planet, Buena. People tried to flee from the village, which was hidden deep inside the forest, but their escape was cut off when a tree fell, crushing a few and hindering the rest. One child managed to escape before the tree collapsed, and turned back in time to see the tree fall and crush his mother. The flames flickered in his deep blue eyes, giving it a tint of red as tears poured down his chubby cheeks. His father approached the tree and, knowing his fate, he yelled, “Son! Take our treasure and keep it safe!” He threw a sword over the tree and the child hurried to pick it up, holding it tight.
Tahkshi reopened his eyes once more, breathing heavily and looked at his surroundings. He wasn't in Virincorparates any-more, but could see a Golden Temple in the distance and the remains of Afanisei about half a mile away.
Tahkshi knew where he was: Atlantis. He looked down at himself, and saw the Entity's shroud. No, he thought, heart pounding not this.
Insectiron turned and dived at the Entity’s leg, his grip locking around the metal armour on the knee. After his tight grip was established fully, he put the exposed wire in contact with the metal outer shell of the hand, sending over a thousand volts coursing through them both. As the Entity was consumed by electricity, his snakes released Tors, who abruptly stepped away from the fallout zone, shielding his eyes from the blinding light which emanated from the growing ball of electricity, which eroded the ground, carving a deep crater, shrouded in thick grey smoke. The Entity threw the body of Insectiron off of him, closing his eyelids. Poor fool, Entity thought woefully.
“Morpheus!” Tahkshi roared. “Stop this!”
Morpheus appeared next to Tahkshi, normal size this time. “Ah, Tahkshi.” He said. “I can't just stop because you ask me too, now, can I?”
“Well...” Tahkshi considered. “You could. Very easily.”
“Why?” Morpheus spat. “Is the past your fear?”
“No.” Tahkshi admitted. “A regret. Nothing to do with fear.”
“Ah well.” Morpheus replied. “Regrets live in nightmares as well as fears. As do your deepest, darkest, desires that you would never share with those around you..”
Morpheus smiled toothily at Tahkshi, who had at that point noticed that the Terran Blade was not on him in this dream form, but the Alpha and Beta swords of power and nature respectively were. Morpheus had his scythe and that was all.
And that was when Tahkshi summoned the Beta sword-armour to become a blade and drew the Alpha sword and lashed out at Morpheus with a roar of rage.
As Tao, Maria and Cody landed, they saw the Darkness Inhibitor, what the Dark Tower truly was, being moved into Washington. It was still far away, but they could see it regardless.
In front of the White House, ten Titans stood in their ten-foot tall forms: Titans can shrink down to one percent of their original size.
Tao, Maria and Cody ran over to them. Cronus turned to face them. “Ah, you three.” he said grandly, voice still as grand as it were when hundreds of foot above them.
“So.” Tao began, “What's the plan?”
Cronus replied again, pointing at the Washington monument, which looked surprisingly shiny. “We have infused a sword with the power of Tartarus and, overnight, we swapped it with the monument.” He saw their shocked faces. “Don't worry, I didn't damage it and I'll put it back later.” He cleared his throat. “Anyway, that should be enough to slice this thing apart if it gets dangerous.”
“I guess.” Maria said. “Sounds like a plan.”
“Do you have a plan until you get there?” Cody asked.
“Yes.” Cronus rumbled. “Of course. Go there, take out the Gardor and grow and smash it.”
“Good plan.” remarked Cody sarcastically.
Another Titan came up to them. This one seemed to be made of leaves and various tree parts, with vines covering parts of her. “Don't be sarcastic.” Gaia, the Earth Mother said.
Tao had spotted Typhon now. “Cronus, how did Typhon survive?”
Cronus chuckled. “Parts of him were not destroyed, but fell into the supermassive black hole at the centre of Icarus' Sun. They ended up in the Void and when the Void was destroyed, he was fully regenerated.”
“Hmm.” Tao shrugged non-committally.
“We go.” Cronus ordered. “You three, get shelter. This could turn bad.”
Morpheus walked over to the hole in the wall and joined Viretta. Foton watched as he put his scythe down. Foton remembered that scythe: the Nightmare Scythe showed him visions of his dead mother blaming him for her death a year previously.
“Morpheus, don't you dare.” Foton threatened, merely biding for time until Tahkshi got there.
“Why?” spat Morpheus. “What have I got to lose? Nothing, that's what! In fact, revenge against the lot of you would be sweet on its own, but with the promise of more power when I'm done, it makes it just too good to pass up.” Morpheus pointed the scythe at them. “Au revoir.” The hole in the wall began to seal as Morpheus ran over to Viretta.
“No!” Foton yelled, charging at the hole, but it closed just in time. “Dammit!” He thumped the wall as hard as he could, but to no resolve.
Hurricane moved Foton away from the wall. “Foton, the room she was in. Didn't you notice anything about it?”
“Not really, no.” Foton muttered. “Get to the point.”
“That was her desk. The one in the big tree in the centre of the complex. Morpheus showed us her with a portal. Nothing more, nothing less.” Hurricane explained. “That's where we need to go.”
“That's where Tahkshi went, wasn't it?” Foton said.
“Yeah...” Naarl said. “Wonder where he's got to.”
“Hmm.” Devilclash said thoughtfully. “Perhaps Morpheus got him.”
“Perhaps...” Foton agreed. “In which case, it's even more essential that we find Morpheus and Viretta. Unless Tahkshi already found them.”
“I doubt it.” Pandora said. “Morpheus wouldn't have been grandstanding so much if he had.”
“You're right.” Incarnate agreed. “That has to be right.”
“Let us go, then.” Foton said.
Not letting the fear show in his voice or posture, Foton, who knew the layout of Virincorparates better than anyone there, bar Hurricane, led them through the corridors. Lights flickered and hung from their place on the ceilings, sparking occasionally.
“Can you hear that?” Naarl asked.
“What?” Foton asked attentively.
“That's right.” Naarl said. “Nothing. Silence.”
Naarl was right: there was nothing but darkness and silence, with but a few pockets of light resistance There was a certain eeriness in the corridors, which dragged forever. Even the transparent roofing showed no starlight: evidently an illusion or trick created by Morpheus.
Then came the Gardor.
There were seven of them in total and four ran at the First Children, but three stayed back, readying their beams.
“Get them!” roared Foton, just as the Gardor fired their destructive beams...
Morpheus did not expect Tahkshi's sudden rebellion and fell to his blows, before he got a hold on himself and slapped Tahkshi aside.
“Dammit, Tahkshi!” Morpheus hissed. “You can't beat me! Not in the reality that I have created!”
“You created?” Tahkshi spat. “Made of my thoughts, you might add. My fears, my nightmares. All I am is trapped within my own head, but when you entered,” Tahkshi laughed shortly, “you became trapped as well.”
“I control your thoughts now, Tahkshi!” Morpheus yelled. “You can't defeat that.”
“Ah, but you only control my subconscious thoughts. My conscious thoughts are still under my control.” Tahkshi explained. “So. What now?”
Morpheus threw his arms out, daring Tahkshi to battle. “Come on then!” he roared.
“Fine!” Tahkshi yelled.
And the battle of Tahkshi's conscious and subconscious began.
Tahkshi ran at Morpheus once more, but a huge abomination stood in his way. Tahkshi backed away as he realised what it was: General Nathan Paine. He backed away as his head began to hurt. “No...” he hissed.
“Let it out, Tahkshi.” Morpheus hissed. “Don't try and stop it!”
Tahkshi's frown of concentration suddenly turned into a grimace, then a laugh.
“What?” yelled Morpheus. “Why are you laughing?”
Tahkshi stopped laughing at last, before saying, “Because I realised that if I keep you busy here, you can't really focus on stopping the others, can you?”
Morpheus ignored him. “I care not, Tahkshi. However, you fear or regret the past, correct?”
“You know I do.” spat Tahkshi. “What of it?”
“Do you fear the future?” Morpheus hissed.
“No.” Tahkshi said defiantly. “It is merely an unknown. Anything could happen.”
“That,” Morpheus said grandly, “Is where you are wrong.”
Tahkshi laughed harshly. “Like hell I am.”
“You are.” Morpheus said. “Naarl can see the future exactly, can he not?”
“I guess,” Tahkshi admitted.
“I may not be able to guess your exact future,” Morpheus confessed, “But, from your behaviour patterns in the past and a wee bit of godly omniscience, I can show you your future.”
Tahkshi looked curiously into Morpheus's eyes. He wasn't lying. “Go on then.”
Morpheus sighed. “Fine.”
Tahkshi clenched his eyes closed as a vision was sent to him...
Tahkshi charged through the barricade, shattering the part in front of him. Aran spun around, raising a blade in defence, but Tahkshi ducked under the blade and punched him in the stomach. Aran fell, dropping the blade, which Tahkshi bent to pick up without breaking pace. He swung the blade around as he reached Arias. The blade connected with her sledgehammer, a sound of metal upon metal resonating through the chamber. Trexor followed Tahkshi, but with no enemies in his path he charged at The Darkness. The Darkness brushed Original aside and thrust the blade at Trexor, who clumsily tried to stop in time, before the electron-thin tip of Darkness's blade pierced his skin. One atom in particular. The neutrons and protons were split, the bonds holding them together broken as the one atom exploded with such force and power that Trexor was quickly vaporised. Trexor's blade fell to the floor: able to resist such conditions, forged as it was in the fires of the Pillar. His armour fell shortly afterwards, shattering as it did so.
“The hell?” Tahkshi muttered as he opened his eyes. Trexor. Darkness. Aran. What the hell happens between now and then? Who was the woman, Arias? “What was that, Morpheus?”
“Your future.” Morpheus hissed. “Very close future, in fact...”
Tahkshi tried to resist his temptation, but eventually, his weaker, more curious instincts kicked in. “Show me more.”
“Are you sure?” Morpheus hissed.
“Yes, god-dammit.” Tahkshi spat.
Tahkshi clenched his eyes closed again as a wave of nausea overcame him. No vision came, so he opened his eyes and looked around what was not Atlantis any-more.
Everything was black around him, including the barely visible platform he was standing on. A few portions of light slipped in, and more and more was as what appeared to be a shell around the place disintegrated. Holes appeared in the floor and Tahkshi fell, screaming...
Maria, Tao and Cody had found themselves a shelter: an old shed that had somehow withstood the bombings when the home it had once belonged to did not.
They watched the Titans march through the streets, Cronus commanding people to move out of the area, while Typhon slithered behind them, at full thousand foot tall form to ensure that the command was met due to fear.
The Titans were going to war for the first time in over a ten thousand years.
Then the Darkness Inhibitor came.
The tower was dragged along by thousands upon thousands of Gardor and Shadow-Police. Cinradahs stood at the foot of his army and commanded them to stop as he saw the Titans.
“Ah, Titans.” Cinradahs yelled. “It's about bloody time.”
Cronus cracked his knuckles. “Why don't you come over here and say that?” he roared menacingly.
Cinradahs chuckled. “Maybe I will, Cronus. Maybe I will.”
Gaia stood forth. “Come on!” she roared, curiously manly for someone who was as obviously feminine as her.
“Fine.” Cinradahs said smoothly, before clicking his fingers and pointing at the Titans. “Kill.”
The Gardor let the Dark Tower drop to the ground, before they ran at the Titan army, the Shadow-Police in the lead. Two figures appeared next to Cinradahs: Trexor and the electric Pyrkagias, Trioshock.
“Destroy them!” Roared Cronus as Prometheus charged in front, his chain blades swinging uncontrollably and unpredictably as they tore through Gardor and Shadow-Police like a chainsaw through flesh.
But the Gardor were far too many, and only Typhon was able to actually take many out.
“Titans!” yelled Hyperion. “Look!”
The Dark Tower, or Darkness Inhibitor was transforming...
The beams hit Foton dead on in the centre of the chest and knocked him flying backwards. His armour was damaged where they had hit, but otherwise, he was fine, merely bruised.
“At them!” Hurricane yelled as he sent a cyclone at the nearest two.
Pandora snorted, before leaping over the front four Gardor, stabbing one of the other three with her spear. Incarnate then joined the fray, slamming the Gardor to the ground so that Naarl could smash their heads in with his spear end.
Within minutes, the Gardor were all but destroyed and Devilclash was helping Foton up.
“Thanks.” he grunted as he stood shakily. He breathed in and felt no more pain. Good, he thought, no broken ribs.
“So.” Incarnate said. “You OK, Foton?”
“Yeah, I'm good kid.” Foton answered only slightly falsely.
“You sure?” Devilclash said. “You can go back to the ship if you need to.”
“No, I can't!” Foton yelled. “I ain't just abandoning Viretta!”
A screeching sound came from around the corner. Foton froze as he realised what made the sound.
Foton recoiled as they came around the corner, each equipped with what appeared to be translucent tanks of water strapped to their backs.
Devilclash also recoiled, as she tracked the tubing that extended from the tanks and followed it down to a what seemed to be some sort of
high-tech water pistol.
Incarnate and Pandora were on them in an instant as the three Husks began firing at Devilclash. They knew that their attack would not harm the Husks, but they continued in vain. They ran past the Husks, and the Husks turned to face them.
As heat surrounded them, they realised their mistakes.
Devilclash created a wall of flames behind them, and when the Husks turned to investigate, it was already too late as Pandora skewered them on her golden spear.
They moved forward as the Husks bodies disintegrated, Foton treading carefully, just as Devilclash was as the water-tanks shattered on the ground.
A light glared at them as they rounded the corner, made all the more prominent due to the fact that the lights had been out for the last few corridors.
They had reached Viretta's office at last.
Tahkshi landed back on Atlantis and stood facing Morpheus, who was panting profusely.
“What happened?” Tahkshi yelled.
Morpheus's eyes were wide with abject terror.. “I-I...” he trailed off.
“Morpheus?” Tahkshi asked.
“I couldn't see any further...” he said, more to himself than to Tahkshi. “That means...” he paused to think, “It was too far after I die to view. Which means...” he muttered to himself, doing various calculations, “I die today...”
Tahkshi raised his Beta and Alpha blades once more. “You should have known you would from when you got involved with Darkness and Xaos.” Tahkshi spat. “You should have known we would kill you.”
“No...” Morpheus hissed. “Impossible!” He began to yell. “I cannot!”
Morpheus leapt at Tahkshi, who avoided the claws, and thrust the Alpha blade forth. Morpheus's eyes widened as he realised what he had done: he had got killed in a reality he had made, and now the reality would crumble and Tahkshi would wake...
Morpheus stood in the centre of the room, clutching his head as he died in the reality he had created. Beside him, on the mossy ground, Tahkshi began to stir as the rest of the First Children entered. Viretta saw them and struggled with her bonds.
“Naarl,” Foton ordered, “Stay back.”
“OK.” Naarl agreed.
Morpheus let go of his head and grabbed his scythe again. “First Children.” he said, his confidence cracking, “Nice to see you again.”
Tahkshi got to his feet next to him, but Morpheus's fist slammed him to the floor again. “Oh no you don't.” Morpheus hissed.
“Why, Morpheus?” Tahkshi spat, “You know you die today.”
“Shut up!” yelled Morpheus, striking Tahkshi across the cheek.
Foton winced as he watched the claws slice through flesh in Tahkshi's flesh. Then he remembered: one will die at the hands of the Lord Of Fear. He was afraid it would be Viretta, but now he knew not who to fear for.
Hurricane considered rushing Morpheus, but Morpheus noticed his intentions in his pose. “Don't you dare!” Morpheus screeched, waving the scythe around wildly.
However, in his wild motions, he summoned a wave of power which emerged from the scythe's tip and shattered the ground beneath the First Children. It erupted beneath them, casting them up into the air and over. Foton's head snapped back and slammed into the hard ground when he fell. Naarl, who was standing at the back of the group, was the only one left standing. To Foton's horror, Naarl stepped over the First Children, who couldn't quite get up in time: their world was in pain.
“Naarl...” Morpheus hissed, stepping away from Tahkshi.
“Morpheus.” Naarl acknowledged.
“What can you do, Naarl?” Morpheus hissed. “What can you do that could harm me?”
Naarl pushed a button on his walking-stick, and a spear-like point ejected from the tip. “I can fight.”
Morpheus saw Tahkshi draw the Terran Blade and kicked out at him. “No, Naarl.” Morpheus spat. “You can't fight me. You aim to distract me!”
Naarl's spear stabbed at Morpheus's side. “Really?” Naarl seemed proud of himself.
“Yes.” Morpheus yelled, enraged at the pain of the spear and the realisation that: if he stopped Naarl, Tahkshi would kill him; and if Morpheus stopped Tahkshi, Naarl would kill him. But Naarl had stabbed him and Morpheus was not running on clear thought now, merely adrenaline and a primal urge to fight and to kill.
Morpheus leapt at Naarl as Tahkshi rose and picked up the Terran Blade. Morpheus landed on Naarl, slamming him to the ground and clawed at his chest as the First Children started to stand.
Tahkshi, seeing the blood from Naarl's chest, gave a desperate, subconscious yell of “Naarl!” before throwing the Terran Blade at Morpheus, who turned just in time, his face a mask of Naarl's blood, his teeth bared. The blade hit him dead on, carrying him away from Naarl and impaling through the skull and pinning him to the wall.
Tahkshi ran over to Naarl, who was coughing now. He cradled Naarl's head in his hands. “Naarl, be strong now.” he whispered to Naarl, before yelling, “I need a healer! Now!”
“No, Tahkshi.” Naarl croaked, before coughing up more blood onto his chest. “It's my time now.”
“No, Naarl!” Tahkshi commanded, “Don't give up!”
“Tahkshi.” Naarl muttered, “I have lived my life and, by gods, I had a lot more than a lot of people. Maybe now, I can find peace.”