The wind was harsh and cold, swirling gouts of the snow rippling around the man's thin frame, staining his black cloak like stars in the night sky. It tugged at his ragged clothing, sucking what little warmth left in him through his armour. His breath crystallized in front of his face like smoke from the maw of a dragon. His hair whipped around his face like a thing alive, beating senselessly against his cold cheeks and lips incessantly.
Yet despite all this, he stood stock still, staring over his high perch on the snowy mountain, staring at the large flat plains in front of him, his eyes two shards of aged, dirty gray ice, far colder than anything that frigid peak could conjure up.
Stray flakes stuck to his eyelashes, and he blinked them away, rolling down his face, tears that were not real. He tightened his grip on the leather wrapped hilt of his sword, the material groaning in protest, the flecks of dried blood cracking and falling away from his wiry fingers.
He could not say how long he stood there, staring. The moments rolled into days, and the hours to seconds. He could have stood there for a thousand eternities, or for the scantest of instants.
All he knew was that eventually, he would return once more.
And he would fight.
Able's eyes flickered open slowly, glancing towards the clock nailed unceremoniously to the wall with a butcher knife. He had slept for only a few hours.
He did not truly need to sleep, and had not needed to for a very long time. But that was not to say that he did not enjoy the action from time to time. Still, it had been centuries since he had last dreamt, an action he thoroughly relished on the rare occasions that it transpired.
He rose from the simple metal cot, his muscles and joints pliable and supple as if he had not spent several hours inert and motionless. He stalked over to the heavy blast door, a slab of gargantuan metal two feet thick and weighing three tons. He wrenched it aside with ease and a metallic screech of protest from its wheels, the weight of the barrier a more effective deterrent to invaders than any lock. No one but him could open it, as he had ripped the hydraulics out of the sides of it, the little people's fleeting strength no match for the sheer burden of his bedroom door.
Still, they insisted on their inane rules and regulations, two heavily armed guards standing watch over the entrance. They did not move as he left, the tinted shields of their riot gear helms hiding their emotions from Able, had he cared to look.
As he strode through the corridors, a young, almost mousy woman struggled to reach him, the clicking of her high heel shoes resounding from behind him.
"Seventy Six!" she called out plaintively.
"Seventy Six! Please, wait for a moment. I have to talk to you,"she gasped as she ran, nearly out of breath, her cheeks red from exertion.
Able stopped, turning around to face her slowly.
She caught up quickly, bending over double for a moment to catch her breath.
Able studied her fastidiously as she did so.
She was a young woman, in her mid twenties, her eyes almost hidden behind square, thin rimmed glasses, thick, curly, shoulder length, light brown hair framing her small features. She was thin, but not overly so, yet everything about her spoke of a certain petiteness, as if she really was a smaller than she appeared. Her clothes were formal, white blouse, black skirt and tights, and she clutched a old brown clipboard, a pen in her other hand.
"Yes?" asked Able, drawing out the word as languorously as possible. It almost sounded like an insult to the woman, one that spoke of apathy and indifference.
"I have to talk to you," she responded plainly.
"About?" Again, a range of insults in a single word.
"It's a psychological evaluation." she answered, now beginning to sound just a little haughty at his tone.
He simply turned and began to walk away, but she quickly followed suit.
"The higher ups want another psych evaluation because of what you did to Professor Liham," she continued on, hurriedly trying to keep up with his merciless, distance eating strides.
"How is Liham?" chuckled Able, flashing the woman a horrific smile. She nearly visibly recoiled in disgust upon seeing his teeth. They were thin and angular, the majority of the ones in the front filed to grim points, and they crowded his mouth, jostling for space, near bursting out of his mouth.
Still, she carried on, determined not to appear weak to this monstrosity that wore human form.
"He's still in the hospital. His doctors are amazed he's showing brain activity,"
Able muttered something unintelligible, and from the ugly expression he made, she could tell it was not pleasant.
"I'm Doctor Angela Langley, and I'll be evaluating you through your actions today. Would it be possible for me to ask you some questions?"
He looked at her coldly and began to talk animatedly in a tongue that certainly did not sound English. In fact, she had never heard anything like it before. While he spoke, he moved his clawlike hands in odd stratagems, speaking in a bizarre physical manner.
He continued like this for several minutes, the gestures he made getting more and more strange, until at last, he stopped, a quick silence descending before he spoke again, this time in English.
"And that would be my entire history, from the point of when I was born, to right now. Granted I removed some of the unimportant things, but the majority of it was there," he told her calmly.
"But… But I couldn't understand it," she replied worriedly.
"No… You can't," he answered back, increasing his pace exponentially, and leaving her far behind.
He continued that pace until he was at the stadium where he trained with Pandora's Box. They were all already there, waiting for him. While Able set them a strict time to arrive there by, he often arrived there himself at arbitrary times, either several hours too early or late, expecting them to do the same, and woe betide those who were not, becoming his personal "whipping boy" for the rest of the session.
They began with simple exercises, an hour of hard physical labor and several sparring matches. He fought in none of them, instead opting to watch. Fighting such inferior opponents, especially when they were unarmed would only serve to raise his ire, and put him into a foul mood.
Time passed, and soon he decreed they had strained their tiny bodies to their limits, dismissing them with an apathetic wave of his hand.
He trudged slowly through the facility, wallowing in his boredom. There was nothing to do.
There was never anything to do. The people here had proven that they were a mediocre challenge at best, and there was rarely anything that pressed him to his limits anymore. Not like when the world was young…. Back then there was-
"Seventy Six!" came a plaintive call from behind him, causing Able to roll his eyes in annoyance.
"Seventy Six! Please! I still need to talk to you," she yelled, trying to run back up to him.
"What!?" he growled, clearly losing his patience.
"U-uh, Well-" she stuttered, afraid now that he showed his irritation clearly.
Angela took a deep breath, calming her nerves before continuing.
"High Command has said that you must perform a-" she cut off with a grunt as she was lifted off her feet, raised into the air by a hideous mockery of a human hand, gripping her tightly around her throat.
"Listen to me you slug of flesh," hissed Able coldly.
"I have been patient with you because you were not worth my time, but should you continue, I will pull you apart, simply to cease your incessant nattering. Tell your superiors this," he told her with a scowl.
"The only reason I agreed to this imprisonment is because I, for some fleeting moments, believed that you may lead me to something worthwhile with which to amuse myself. And if you all continue to irritate me with worthless, trivial tests, I will find every member of this organization, and everyone ever associated with this organization, locate each and every single one of them, and rip them limb from limb."
"Am I clear… Angela?" he whispered, his face pressed against her cheek.
"Y-y-yes," she stammered out hoarsely, her eyes wide with fear.
"Good," he spat cruelly, dropping her callously onto the floor, leaving her in a sprawled tangle of limbs on the ground.
He could hear her gasping for breath as he stalked away, a sound he had heard countless times, from countless others, often before their death.
Gasping for breath as their lungs filled with blood, their bodies torn and destroyed, numbed hands grasping their weapon with ever unresponsive fingers.
And still, they rose up once more…
Rose up once more…
As he had…
As he rose up once more…
He could remember the sound that raven made…
The sounds it made as it scraped the ground above him…
How he wished it would stop…
How he wished the sounds would stop…
So he rose up…
He rose up once more…
He rose up as he would do so many times again…
He rose up as he had done so many times before…
He rose up, cold and gasping for breath, his hands still stained with dirt and filth and blood his blood, and he felt…
Angela started as Able suddenly started ripping segments of steel from the wall as he passed them by, shredding the hardened steel with his fingers as a child would a spiderweb, and casting them aside with errant, uncaring tosses.
She could see the muscles on his shoulders stretch and strain against his neck, tensing so tightly as if to rip themselves free of his body.
And then he stopped. He turned his head, slowly, enough to look at Angela with one crazed, baleful, bloodshot eye and he spoke in the most chilling tone she had ever heard.
She turned and fled.
He turned back, looking at his torn and shaking hands, gobbets of their flesh now decorating the metal he had so casually tossed aside. His blood spattered onto the ground with thick wet splashes, a morbid trail for others to follow.
He let them fall to his side, and continued walking, his brows furrowed in disgust and irritation at a world that bored him to his very core.
He hated being bored.
So he intended to do something about it.
Pulling a sword out of the nothing, he observed its notched and serrated edges almost lovingly as they curled across its surface slowly, before giving the weapon a few experimental swings and burying it into the now exposed concrete of the wall.
Then, slowly, ever so slowly, he slid his hands beneath the choker on his neck, partially crushing his throat in his determination not to damage the fragile band of metal.
Confident that he had enough shielding, he snapped it off as quickly as possible.
It exploded violently, a volatile sunburst that decimated his already bleeding hands, shards of shrapnel slicing into his face, neck and torso.
He shrugged off the damage, stretching out his arms as he attempted to fix the somewhat pulped bone and muscles in his hands. There were a small series of clicks, and he regained some of the mobility in the massacred digits, but not much.
No matter, he thought, retrieving a thin barbed chain out of the darkness, spending several minutes wrapping it around his hand, clenched around the hilt of the buried sword.
A few practice tugs to ensure that it was holding, unmindful of the way the chain tore into his already desecrated flesh, the lean man yanked the sword out of the wall, and set about making his own entertainment.
Within twenty minutes, he had cleaved his way though an entire legion of panicked guards, arriving in one of the major containment areas.
Within thirty minutes, there were hordes of skittering crab like creatures swarming across the area, shredding the flesh from anything in their path, leaving naught but gnawed piles of bone behind. One of the corridors had converted itself into the maw of some tremendous beast, luring the unwary in and crushing them with its enormous mandibles, spitting out the remnants with a belch. Occasionally, a strange skeletal human hand would snake out from beneath a some fallen debris, out of an air vent, or even out of the cracks the floor, and snatch a someone up, mulching them into bloody paste as it tried to force them into it's hiding spot.
Personnel ran about in terror, guards trying to contain one threat, but falling to another. Some went mad, firing on everything, friend and foe alike. Others lost their minds to far more sinister forces, going berserk, twisting inside, or simply dying on the spot.
And at the center of this chaos, was Able, laughing and screaming like a madman, fighting anything and everything in his way. All around him, blood fell like plentiful rain, the flash of gunfire as lightning, and the hail of weapons fire, screams and roars were thunder in the storm of madness he had created.
The monster laughed manically as he danced across a moving carpet of the scuttling arachnid creatures, bursting them under his weight with errant footfalls, his weapons cutting wide swathes out of their ranks and spattering them onto the walls.
The few people that fell into his way soon fell out again, often in pieces if they came too close, but he did not actively pursue them. Even the guards were largely ignored, unless they attempted to fire at him, in which case retribution was swift, brutal, and deadly.
Soon, the corridor was clean of all movement, with the exception of the odd shuddering corpse.
Able snorted in derision, disgusted at the weakness of his opponents, and how short lived his "entertainment" was.
Preparing to leave, he paused as he heard the crunch of debris being crushed underfoot, and the click of a hammer being cocked back.
Turning to see what fool had come to try and stop him, he rolled his eyes in frustration upon seeing exactly who and what had arrived.
A bloody, trembling Miss Langley, eyes wide with terror, thin hands clutching a pistol far too large for her digits to properly grip, slack kneed and trying to probe her way through the desolation, involuntarily heaving at the sights left behind.
She turned up, starting as she saw Able glaring at her from the end of the corridor, his expression as unamused as hers was fearful.
Her entire body tensed up, her lip trembling, a mild tic beneath one eye. Slowly, she raised the gun, it shaking spastically as she attempted to aim it at the man before her.
"S… S-stop…," she half cried, half mumbled, tears of fear beginning to run down her cheeks, clearing paths through the filth and dust.
The man glared at her, fury growing at this effrontery. Those who had come before had been weaklings, but they had at least been warriors of a sort.
But this… this was disgusting. They might as well be sending maggots to fend him off.
He started towards her, sword raised in one hand to finish the terrible deed.
His insult was cut short by the tumultuous crack of a gunshot, the upper portion of his skull blown into generous chunks of meat and bone. On the remainder of his face, there was the beginnings of an expression of surprise.
Langley dropped the smoking gun in shock, staring in surprise and disbelief before retching out of human reflex as the man's thin body staggered a few awkward steps forward before collapsing. It twitched a few times, its scrawny limbs sprawled and entangled as it slumped into a graceless pile on on the floor.