Malus: World of War I
The Battle of the Storm
Stories/things you should be familiar with:
God of War
Kung Fu Panda
SPARTA, GREECE, 6:20 AM
Kratos sat on his unchallenged throne in Sparta. Tai Lung stood beside him, his thick arms crossed in an unmoving manner. The Ghost of Sparta sat on his throne, brooding over the predicament he was entrapped in. He was completely confident that he could defeat the Gods and his father. But to kill Zeus was an entirely different concept.
"You have been in the halls of the Olympians. What do you know of them?" asked Tai Lung.
Kratos suddenly pulled himself out of his deep thought as if he were torn from the ground beneath him.
"They're mightier than any a mortal, but their courage is no where on the level of their might. If we root them out one by one, they won't be a challenge."
Tai Lung stepped forward to look out a nearby balcony overlooking the city,
"And to kill one. What does it require?"
"There are a select few powers that can kill a God. The Holy Magic, another God, a Master Blade, and one who wields the power of Pandora's Box. And I possess all of those attributes."
"Indeed," Tai Lung said, still looking over the city.
Suddenly, the sunshine burning forth from the amazingly decorated windows faded away. Kratos immediately looked up, his solid face remaining all the while. Tai Lung calmly turned toward Kratos,
"They've taken the battle to us," the snow leopard said.
Kratos quickly stood from his throne, walking collectively and coldly toward the balcony where Tai Lung stood. Outside, he saw storm clouds gathering, heard thunder rumbling, and gazed upon the seas thrashing and shaking about, with a large fleet sailing toward them. The sails on the ships were golden with a lightning bolt inscribed upon it. It was the symbol of Olympus.
"Spartans! Our city is besieged! Make the ocean run with our enemies' blood! Cast them down into the Underworld!" shouted Kratos, his powerful voice flying through the entire city.
Kratos then turned, walking away. Tai Lung walked with him.
"Have you led any battles before?" asked Kratos.
"More or less."
"Then you can fight an armada on your own?"
"It wouldn't be much of a fight, but I can defeat them while you prepare the land defense."
"Good. I'll have Ulgius get a catapult ready. Try not to die."
"As you should."
MOUNT OLYMPUS, 7:32 AM
Zeus stood in front of the Flame of Olympus, watching through it as his armada sailed toward Sparta. Poseidon stood by his left, Hades standing by his right.
"You see?" said Hades. "Send down my fleet as a good warning shot. Have them tear down a couple buildings, ring a couple of stiff, dumb jock necks. Take the heat off Olympus. And when your sweet little kin killing chip off the old block steps into the Underworld, he'll be with dad in Tartarus."
Zeus stood straight, but his brother's words seemed to pass away from him as his sorrowful eyes looked down at his son's impending doom.
"Remember Hades. If Kratos dies by your soldiers' hands, then you will join Ares in death."
Hades rolled his eyes, trying as best as possible to hide his contempt. Then he put his arm around Zeus, wearing a fake smile.
"I said I'd give him a small, tiny, really minor eternity in the slammer. Besides that, no pain will come to your little red and white boy. Judging by your goods in that area, you'd probably do it yourself anyway."
Zeus lowered his head from that emotional blow. However, quickly bringing his power back to his fierce eyes, he then adjusted his gaze back to the Flame.
"Let us see how your armada fares, brother."
SPARTA, GREECE, 7:28
Tai Lung walked up to the catapult that Kratos had taken him to. He saw a group of Spartan soldiers preparing it, Ulgius standing to the side and directing them. As he walked over to inspect the front of the catapult, he noticed Tai Lung. As the Spartan captain walked over to him, Tai Lung noticed no fear or contempt in the soldier's eyes; there was only regard for a fellow soldier.
"We prepared the catapult as instructed," said Ulgius calmly and professionally.
"Are you certain that you can defeat all of them?"
Tai Lung walked past Ulgius, giving him a firm pat on the shoulder.
"I'll leave a couple of them left over for you if you'd like."
"Good luck, sir."
Tai Lung then nimbly leaped into the catapult, landing perfectly into the area from which it would launch him. He crouched down, his left arm over his raised left knee. He curled his hands into fists, cracking them as he moved them into place. The Spartans behind him turned the catapult, slowly putting him into place to be launched at the fleet. And then, after a count from three to one, he was launched. He flew through the air like an arrow, straightening himself to fly farther. He flew over the city walls, over the ocean, then began a dive to one of the center ships. And then, spinning like a drill toward his prey, he struck.
Holding out his fist, he pounced against the mast of the ship, knocking the sails down onto another ship. Running across the mast with great speed, he then rolled onto the ship that it led him to as a group of Olympian soldiers circled him. One soldier stood in front of him with a shield ready for defense. Tai Lung punched the shield with such might that it sent the soldier flying. With lightning speed, he then grabbed the shield from the soldier the instant he punched it, throwing it at another soldier who charged him. The shield knocked the soldier off the ship, Tai Lung then ducking as it ricocheted, knocking back the rest of the soldiers who surrounded him one by one. He turned back toward the fallen mast, walking toward it and grabbing it. From the captain's station, an arrow was fired toward the snow leopard. However, quickly sensing it, he turned, grabbed the arrow between two fingers, turned it around, and thrusting it forward like a kunai. It struck through both the archer who had fired the arrow, and the captain standing behind him. Tai Lung then regained his grip on the mast, lifting it a bit, wiggling it a bit so that it reached into the powder magazine of the ship, and then gave it a very strong kick so that it rose up high, pulling out several barrels of gun powder with it. As the barrels flew into the air alongside each other, the mighty snow leopard wasted no time in leaping toward the barrels. Deeply focusing his hands to create hot energy from the warm air around him, he then struck every barrel- one toward each ship- faster than the human eye could see. They were lit aflame by the energy of Tai Lung's strike as each barrel flew toward a ship's powder magazine, completely demolishing the ships when they struck. Fourteen powerful explosions shook the sea and the morale of the Olympian soldiers.
BACK IN THE CITY
From where Tai Lung had been launched, Ulgius and the four Spartan soldiers around him watched the Olympian ships blow to bits. They were awestruck at what they had just seen.
"Lord Kratos may be the God of War," said one soldier to the left of Ulgius,
"But I have never seen him do what that leopard just did."
Ulgius looked down, then away.
"We'll leave the ships to him. In the meantime, I hope that Lord Kratos sees what is happening, for all of our sakes."
ON THE SPARTAN BEACH
Although the Olympian fleet stood miles away from the Spartan beach, sailing quickly towards the land of warriors like hawks flying in towards their prey, Kratos himself could hear the explosion that shook the sea. He looked the way of the fleet to see an eruption of flame push some of the other ships slightly to the sides. Tai Lung was indeed as skilled as he claimed to be. But Kratos had neither the time, nor the interest to marvel at what he saw. He continued to walk around the camp, giving orders to hard-working Spartans as they set up spikes, giant crossbows, oil on the sand, and armed themselves with heavy weaponry.
The Big Three stood and watched as more and more of their ships were decimated by the mighty Tai Lung. Zeus watched with anger, Poseidon watched with a cocky, impressed look on his face that he hid from his younger brother, and Hades watched while filling his mouth with a bag full of popcorn. More and more popcorn appeared where other bits had disappeared, the heat of Hades' hand popping it. Zeus' concentrated look faltered slightly, as he turned to see his older brother casually munching on popcorn as his fleet was being eliminated. Hades kept a wide-eyed view on what was going on within the azure Flame of Olympus, taking a couple of seconds to realize that his brother was staring an overbearing glare at him. Stopping his munching for a second, he held out a bit of popcorn for his brother.
"Here is the fleet that you told me would eliminate Sparta. And they're being annihilated by an animal that the mortals sacrifice to our names."
"Zeussy, relax! It's only half time! The fleet's the warm-up for these boys!"
The Lord of the Dead spoke as Poseidon reached toward the bag of popcorn, only for Hades to swat his hand away.
"And your contingency plan?" Zeus pragmatically said.
Hades let his left hand, the one that wasn't holding the bag of popcorn, out to his side and produced a plume of flame. It spread out into a rectangular shape, forming into a large map of Greece. Two areas on the map were blue instead of yellow and orange like the traditional flame; these areas were Sparta and another city-state near it: Kalamata.
"Here's a brief guide: sand castles for dumb Gods. What do you need to make them? Water and sand. Just use water, you just get things wet."
Zeus and Poseidon exchanged glances of child-like confusion, turning back to him.
"And your point is?" asked Zeus.
Hades then snapped his fingers, the fire-born map vanishing into thin air.
"The navy's dunking water for the sand. And, oh hey, we've got sand blowing in all the way from Kalamata! And with the Spartan's umbrellas directed one way, what's to stop the sand from getting in their eyes?"
Poseidon suddenly made a wide-eyed smile of approval. However, Zeus still looked stern.
"And who's to deal with the snow leopard?"
"Well, there's the next two ingredients. We need a bucket for the water. Right Poseidon?"
Zeus turned to his other brother, who bore an arrogant, yet still aware and brave grin. Poseidon walked toward the Flame of Olympus and extended his hand toward the image that showed his fleet, which was being battered into further submission by Tai Lung.
Tai Lung had just finished destroying his sixty-fourth ship. Only seventy-nine more to go. And from his time destroying the armada, he had determined that there must be at least thirty-five soldiers on each one. But he had killed so many so quickly that he had lost count a while ago. He had no complaints, other than being a bit tired. However, as he stood on one of his latest shipwrecks, the sea beneath him began to bubble and roil, as if something beneath it breathed. Then, as he stared at the commotion in the water, he noticed a pair of yellow eyes staring back. He began to curl his knuckles in preparation for what was beneath him as the water suddenly shot up. Thrusting his arm forward, the mere force of Tai Lung's movement forced the drops of water away from him. Before him, a large, serpentine head slowly rose from the depths, its jaws open to snatch its prey, its eyes to stare into the fearless ones of the snow leopard.
Then the beast lunged forward. Faster than the naked eye could see, Tai Lung leaped upward, drawing the Sword of Heroes in the air. Then, as the creature moved upward to take another swipe at him, Tai Lung made a back kick so strong that the wind from it pushed him forward, out of his enemy's way. Then he swung the sword, its inhuman sharpness cleaving the beast's head off without even making contact. Tai Lung then landed, perched perfectly on the edge of a piece of ship debris that pointed upward, the head of the slain beast following him.
However, as he stood, he saw that the fleet had moved a great distance away from him. The ships were now headed toward the beach. He moved to make pursuit, but then the water before him exploded, and from it emerged not one- but two of the beasts that he had slain before. So there was no doubt now. The creature that he faced was none other than a Hydra. His knowledge of mythology wasn't the best, but he remembered what he had been taught about a Hydra well. Two heads would grow in the place one severed one and would continue to be healed from fatal injuries, unless the largest of the Hydra heads was eliminated. And the heads before him were of the same size. If he wanted to kill the Hydra so as to make his way to the fleet, he would have to find the main head's hiding place.
The two Hydra heads dove in toward him as he back flipped off of the debris, then straightening his posture as he faced downward. Focusing his chi into the air currents around him, Tai Lung dove into the sea, Sword of Heroes at the ready. The smaller Hydra heads dove through the roof of the sea a couple of times, making clumsy attempts to bite at him. But Tai Lung kicked his legs, quickly maneuvering through the water as if he were an aquatic creature. One Hydra head lunged at him, about to close its jaws down on its target, but Tai Lung swung the Sword of Heroes, the force of the swing cleaving the beast's face in half. Then the next face lunged toward him, missing him by a couple of inches. Before it could even realize that it had missed its target, Tai Lung had swung the mere force of the blade through the serpent's neck all the way to its head. As the lifeless serpents floated downward, large clouds of blood gushing upward, Tai Lung swam downward to find the larger head, calming the movement of his chi so that he wouldn't need to worry about oxygen. But he could only keep this up for so long.
As he swam down into the blackness of the ocean, silence creeping in around him, all that he could hear was the rumble of the ocean and a bone-chilling slither. He darted his eyes about, eager to fight this beast. Suddenly, he saw a pair of scales quickly move through the darkness, diving down back into the depths. He swam a bit closer, then began to hear more slithers and growls around him. He held the Sword of Heroes at the ready, an anxious smile crossed on his face in the thick of a predicament that would terrify regular men out of their wits. Then, he finally saw something. There was something below him. A pair of yellow eyes, slowly opening. And then, a massive head struck out from the blackness, its scales a darker, greener hue than the regular hydra, its face far more menacing and more sinister, its speed and ferocity far greater, and its eyes staring a hungry, murderous stare into the soul. Tai Lung swung his sword the instant he saw the creature, but even as the force of the blade made contact with the Hydra, it only backed up a bit, like a cobra darting back after swiftly striking its opponent. little more than a scratch on its chin. And then the Hydra lunged again, the leopard swinging at it over and over again. Tai Lung swam forward, slowly advancing as the Hydra slowly backed down into the depths. But suddenly, a savage anger burned in the creature's yellow, beastly eyes as if lunged forward with even greater tenacity than before. This time, the Hydra was too fast for Tai Lung to swing at, so he made a kick to his right, which pushed him far to the left. Once again, the Hydra had swiftly retracted its head the moment it had finished its attack. Tai Lung swam in toward the Hydra's neck, sword ready for a mighty swing to cleave the Hydra's head off. But suddenly, with a move of reflex that Tai Lung did not anticipate, the Hydra curled his neck to is right, facing its attacker, then unleashing a deafening roar that shook the sea and pushed Tai Lung down toward the depths. Though he resisted with all his might, Tai Lung could feel the weight of the sea pulling him to the abyss and beginning to crush him. Tai Lung swam with all of his might toward the surface as the Hydra stared down at him, its menacing yellow eyes dawning upon him like the Devil ready to torture the next unfortunate soul to enter Hell. Tai Lung kept on struggling, but then stopped moving his legs. There wasn't any need to do this any longer. So he let his arms out, allowing the sea to pull him into the dark depths. And he sank faster and faster, the deeper that he went, and surrendered to the power of the ocean as he disappeared into the blackness.
The Hydra stared down toward the depths which its enemy had sank beneath. Waiting for a bit, rocking its head from side to side as if looking upon the corpse of a fallen enemy, it watched for a couple of minutes. Then it slowly retracted its large, scaly head, heading back to the surface to join its other two, lesser heads. For its master had ordered it to assist the Athenian fleet once it was done. However, just as it began to face the smoke-filled sky, the sea briefly shook. The creature could hear what sounded like a roar. Both of these occurrences came from the depths. And then, like a lightning bolt, the fierce Tai Lung shot up from the surface, having launched himself back up with the very water pressure that had dragged him down. As his chi opened the water that remained behind him, Tai Lung stabbed the Sword of Heroes into the Hydra's jaw as it shot up onto the surface. Then, pressing his right foot against the Hydra's chin, Tai Lung kicked himself away from the beast, ripping his sword out- dull side first- as he flipped a good distance away from the creature. Feral rage and savagery burned in the Hydra's eyes as it lunged toward the mighty leopard to devour him. But then, as fast as the speed of light, Tai Lung lunged forward, making sixty-two slashes in the speed of one as he went past the Hydra and landed on a nearby sand bar. The Hydra curled its neck, as if trying to lift a weight perched on its head, and then, fell into pieces, its gruesome remains falling into the ocean. The waters were dyed red with the beast's blood as Tai Lung stood victorious. Flourishing his sword, twirling it to his right, behind its back, and tossing it back to his front to once again meet his right hand, he placed it back into its sheathe on his back, staring out at the sea that ran red with the signature of his victory.
ON THE BEACH
Kratos watched from afar as the Hydra fell into pieces. Clearly the snow leopard had played his part well. However, the wasn't much time to think about that. The Hydra had delayed Tai Lung long enough for the fleet to make their way toward the beach. Turning to direct his men, his thought was interrupted by a call from a distant hill.
"Lord Kratos! Come quick!" cried a Spartan scout.
Kratos ran to the soldier's position, covering distance in several seconds which would have taken a mortal a couple of minutes. As soon as he reached the hill, he looked over to see another army approaching. They were not too large, but he knew that his troops would not likely be able to combat both this new foe and the armada simultaneously. Kratos turned and ran down to Ulgius, who was looking at him as if expecting bad news.
"Another army heads in from the north. Bring every soldier you have to head them off," he said without hesitance.
"But who will fight the armada?" asked Ulgius.
Kratos looked out toward the sea, the cold brutality shimmering in his eyes like a waking flame.
Giving a consenting nod, Ulgius then walked away from his king.
"Spartans!" the general shouted as his soldiers silenced themselves and turned to hear his command.
"An army approaches from the north! Let us all deliver them to the ferryman!"
The entire Spartan army raised their weapons, joining each other in a unified war cry that tore through the air. They then raced toward the mountains, Ulgius running up to the lead of the army as the scout waited up there. Kratos watched them run up the hill, respect hidden under his grim face. He then turned back towards the fleet, which was drawing ever closer to the shore.
Mount Olympus stormed furiously as Zeus paced about. Hades and Poseidon both rolled their eyes at their younger brother's fury, which would have terrified the lesser gods and nearly all mortals.
"So much for your bucket, brother!" Zeus shouted as he turned, fury and terrible power in his gray eyes as he turned toward Hades.
Hades simply took another bite of popcorn as Poseidon leaned in toward him.
"You owe me a new Hydra," he said.
"Poseidon!" Zeus shouted, turning his head slightly, yet powerfully, his hair swinging like the mane of a lion and even sending a small gust of wind around.
"Do you know how difficult one as tameable as that one is to find?" snapped the sea god.
"Tameable? That was a tame hydra? Perhaps I should blame you for this then!" said Zeus as he stepped forward with thundering feet.
Hades held out his hand as it transfigured into smoke, stopping Zeus in his tracks as he staggered back a bit at the force of his brother's push.
"You know what buckets are also good for? Picking up all of the bad crabs and putting them somewhere where they're not messing up your sand castle.
Poseidon stepped forward a bit, standing by Hades,
"The fleet is moving in, far away from the leopard. The hydra played its part."
"Does it matter?!" Zeus shouted as he turned back to the flame.
"Within moments, that creature will have joined Kratos at the beach! What good will your fleet do then?!"
Hades chuckled, waving his hand so that the popcorn disappeared into thin smoke,
"Trust me. He won't. And Kratos is just one guy. Just wait and see."
Zeus turned his head slightly and broodingly toward Hades, trying to hold on to his air of patience, especially around the brother who he couldn't help but be suspicious of.
"And you mentioned a fourth phase to your plan. What is that?"
Hades stepped forward, putting his arm around the King of the Gods in a carefree manner,
"You'll be surprised."
TO THE NORTH EAST OF SPARTA
Ulgius led his soldiers out to the northwest of the city to look upon an their enemy approaching from the desert, well-armed, numerous, and marching in well-organized flanks. The young Spartan commander looked carefully upon their ranks, quickly discerning the slightly superior numbers of the army that he would soon lead the charge against. However, the very way they walked gave off that they possessed none of the experience or ferocity that the Spartans were well known for. With a strategy in mind, Ulgius turned toward his troops.
"Archers! Station yourselves upon the hills!" he commanded, the men that he was addressing immediately complying. As they ran, Ulgius grabbed the captain of the archers, Aether, by the arm. The captain turned toward him.
"Make every arrow count. Aim to kill," said Ulgius.
Aether nodded in consent and ran to his soldiers.
Ulgius then turned toward his large, combat ready army. Their eyes were wide with bloodlust and their weapons, poised for the ready, bore fearsome killing intent.
"Spartans! We stand before an enemy that challenges the might of the God of War, and the glorious name of our land!"
He then lifted his helmet, which he held at his side, and held it out toward the approaching army.
"Look upon them! They step over the lands of our ancestors, convinced that we will fall before them! They wish to see our faces upon that field and face us before the Gods! Let us grant them our wish!"
Ulgius then spit on his helmet and threw it out into the field toward the enemy, to show to his men that he did not fear them.
"We will meet them in battle! They will see our faces as we drive our crimson blades through their hearts! As their mothers were their at their beginnings, we shall be here to deliver them to the Ferryman!"
The Spartans cheered, removing their helmets as their commander did and throwing them to the ground.
"Upon that field lies the ever-lasting glory of Sparta! And in its name, and in the name of the God of War, we shall make it known to all, and see those cowards driven before us! Spartans! As we meet these vagrants on in the battle of the storm, show them no weakness! Show them no mercy!"
Ulgius then turned toward the battlefield, drawing his sword and raising his shield.
"In the name of Sparta, let the desert bathe in their blood!"
The Spartans unleashed a unified war cry as they charged down the hill toward their enemy, Ulgius still at the lead. By the time they began their charge, their enemy had already advanced far across the field. This was perfect for the Spartans.
As the Spartans charged, archers rained down fire on the enemy as they stopped abruptly to deflect the arrows. However, the Spartans were running quickly enough to catch them off guard. Ulgius reached them first, ramming through the enemy lines with his shield. Soldiers were knocked down as the rest of the Spartans rushed in. They quickly advanced, cutting down soldiers and pushing the army back. Ulgius above all forced his enemies on the defensive, swinging his sword with unmatched ferocity as the other soldiers backed away hastily, soon to be met by attacking Spartans. One man charged toward Ulgius, a spear aimed toward his hip. But Ulgius knocked the stab to his right with a quick swing of his shield, proceeding to kick the feet out from his enemy and as he landed flat on the sandy ground, Ulgius rammed the edge of his shield into the man's neck. He then removed the straps of his shield as the defensive tool remained perched out of the corpse's neck, grabbing a spear in his left hand. He then threw the weapon far off into a nearby horseman as he went flying back onto the ground.
Ulgius turned his back on the majority of the battle and walked away. There was now wide spread space around him. He looked around to see the Spartans cutting down more and more enemy soldiers and precisely fired arrows raining down on them. With only his sword in hand, Ulgius held out his arms in an act of challenge, circling around the corpse littered space. Suddenly, a soldier armed with a sword and a shield came rushing in toward him. His vertical slash was blocked by Ulgius, whose own swing knocked the weapon straight onto the ground. The commander then moved in to stab the unarmed soldier, but he blocked the strike with his shield. However, Ulgius pressed his weight against the shield, grabbing onto it and twisting it behind his back. Then with a mighty swing, Ulgius cleaved his enemy's head off. The newly bled soldier fell lifelessly to the ground as Ulgius stepped over him. He looked around to see a horseman with a spear riding proudly over the Spartans, swinging and stabbing his weapon from left to right. Over the spear was wrapped a black flag, though the blood spilled from his attacks bathed the banner in crimson. He was killing a good number of his allies on the land of their ancestors.
Ulgius unleashed a deadly war cry, at which the horseman turned to see his challenger. Ulgius twirled his sword and aimed it toward the horseman as he rode toward him, pushing over Spartans and even some of his own allies that stood in his way. Ulgius stood at the ready, his sword crossed over his chest, his face, hot from the blood and sweat that drenched it, focused and poised. The horseman twirled his spear, making a precise stab down toward him. Ulgius knocked the blow aside, side stepping to his left and grabbing the spear near the blade as he moved. He then pulled on the spear as his enemy pulled back, using the force to pull himself up to the horse, leap onto its back, and kick his assailant off his mount as they both fell to the ground. Just as the soldier got on his knees grabbed a hold of his spear again, Ulgius made a powerful two handed swing for the kill, which was just barely blocked. However, all the Spartan commander needed to do was kick the spear up into the air, and slashed through the man's chest just as he clutched the spear with his left hand. Then, swiftly spinning around so that his back was to the soldier, Ulgius stabbed the spear into his chest, walking away into the battlefield as another defeated enemy of Sparta fell lifelessly to the ground.
BACK ON THE BEACH
The fleet drew ever closer. The storm clouds were gathering ever more strongly, as if the elements looked down upon the battle that occurred. The gray seas continued to ripple violently as what remained of the mysterious fleet drew ever closer to the Spartan beach. And before the fleet, the Ghost of Sparta stood on the beach, soaked in the pouring rain, his eyes torn with hatred, every fiber of his being fixated with rage, and his determination born from desperation. Kratos looked out toward his approaching enemy, prepared to destroy every last man to set foot on the sand. He then walked forward slowly as the fleet drew ever closer. Then the ships dug into the sand as they reached their destinations. Several upon several soldiers leaped out of the ships, all of them charging toward the only soldier left on the beach. Kratos then drew the Blades of Exile, staring his enemy down as his walk became a tad faster. Then, as the soldiers were merely a short distance from him, the Ghost of Sparta, with clenched teeth and swords, attacked.
Lashing out with the Blades of Exile, he extended their reach through fiery chains, the burning remains of Kratos' enemies flying through the air as Kratos charged through their ranks. Dozens upon dozens of soldiers charged in, but Kratos, in a flurry of swings wreathed in flame and inhuman ferocity, met each of them with the terrible gaze of death. In a matter of seconds, the remains of over a hundred soldiers lay around him, piling smoke into the air. From the ships, arrows were fired down on Kratos, but the archers could find no sight of him through the smoke. Only more and more charred remains of doomed soldiers flew from the smoke, along with fire-born arrows that struck them down. Even soldiers who tried to retreat were pulled back into the smoke by the Blades of Exile and terribly finished off. Arrow after arrow was fired, soldier after soldier fell to the Ghost of Sparta, until the only man left standing was Kratos himself, surrounded by piles of burning corpses and the storm raging around him. He heard labored breathing, and turned to see a man desperately groveling away, his left arm cut off. Kratos walked after him and kicked him onto his back.
"Please!" the soldier cried.
But Kratos had no mercy to give. He lifted his boot and stomped it onto the soldier's face, caving it in as he proceeded to walk back over the hill to aid his soldiers. However, something peculiar subtly caught his eye. He turned to see a huge metal capsule protruding from the sand.
The Big Three looked over the fallen soldiers, Kratos, and the capsule that contained his next foe. Zeus stood stroking his chin, his expression still harsh and stern, though baring a hint of impression. His son, while a threat, was a chip off the old block. Poseidon stood as apathetically toward the situation as he did before, and Hades smirked at seeing his brother remain quiet.
"Hey bro, you're not throwing one of your bolt boy tantrums. You're not rooting for this guy, are ya?" he said, slyness dripping from his voice.
"I expected no less from him. Now let us see if your newest recruit is indeed as skilled as you claim him to be," said the King of the Gods.
Hades turned back toward the Flame of Olympus and snapped his fingers, a spark protruding from them.
"You want the shovel. I'll give him the shovel."
BACK ON THE BEACH
Kratos continued to proceed toward the capsule until it began to shake. Then, a human hand burst out of it. It was growing, its veins growing larger and larger along with its muscular structure. The skin was human, but was paling and mutating to an inhuman, monstrous level. Then, the rest of the capsule tore apart like cardboard, as a slowly growing man rose out of it. He wore an American military uniform that was being torn to shreds as he continued to grow to gargantuan proportions, until a large behemoth stood in his place, a monstrous grin, a stance that dripped with blood lust, a horrid form of destruction. Then, before the God of War, stood a whole new threat.
"Gentlemen!" said an ecstatic Hades.
"I give you... Abomination!!!"
BACK ON THE BEACH
Kratos clenched the Blades of Exile, ready to fight. Abomination picked up his capsule with both hands and threw it down toward the Ghost of Sparta. Kratos leaped up, thrashing out his chained swords and using them to grapple onto the capsule and flip over it, flying toward Abomination with his blades extended, awaiting the fresh blood of the beastly hulk. However, Abomination tore from the remains of the ships a half-broken mast and swung it like a bat, tripping Kratos, and then smashed it straight into him. Kratos managed to block the brunt of the blow with the Nemean Cestus, a nearly unstoppable armor of defense worn on his shoulder, but was smashed so hard into the wet sand that it left a shockwave. Abomination then stepped forward, savoring the moment, and proceeded to lift the mast like a warrior placing a sword back in its pedestal, and thrust it down with all of his might toward Kratos. The Ghost of Sparta, back on his knees, stabbed the Blades of Exile up and caught the mast, but screamed furiously under the physical strain brought on by it. Abomination pressed down harder and harder, but Kratos slowly gained the upper hand, pushing back with even greater might. Seeing his enemy regain the edge, Abomination stepped to his right, kicking Kratos out from under the mast and toward a shipwreck littered on the shore. However, the God of War quickly spread a pair of wings out of no where that he had obtained from the madman known as Icarus, and used them to bring his flight to a halt, suddenly ascending into the air as he fired arrows of flame toward Abomination. Abomination covered his eyes, futilely swatting the arrows away, but they did no damage to him. Kratos continued to fly in close, preparing a charged arrow. As Kratos flew in closer and closer, the arrow in his bow glowing brighter and brighter, Abomination threw the mast toward Kratos. The Ghost of Sparta made a loop around the spinning piece of wood, firing the arrow at Abomination as he went back into his regular flight pattern. The arrow struck the monster's face, sending him stumbling back as Kratos flew into him, knocking him completely off balance.
As Abomination fell flat on his back, Kratos swiftly and ferociously drew one of his Blades of Exile and thrust it down toward the beast's face, anger and rage fueling his resolve. However, the blade merely bounced off of him like metal falling upon metal harmlessly. Kratos could think of nothing else but to make another futile stab toward the beast, but found that Abomination had already recovered, grabbing and tossing him over his head. Kratos performed a well-timed front roll to recover, but was meant with a low kick by Abomination which sent him flying to the side. As the God of War bounced continuously on the sand as he continued his flight, Abomination rushed forward him, stomping over Spartan defenses like an un-caged beast, with no rationality and no conscience to hold him back. Kratos finally recovered, and soaked in rain and sand, drew the Bow of Apollo once again, rapidly firing arrows at his charging foe. But Abomination merely shrugged them off once again, speeding up as he continued to advance.
Kratos, seeing his current tactic did no good, withdrew his bow, turning and lashing the Blades of Exile toward a large crossbow that his men had set up, leaping up into the air as he pulled himself toward it with strength far beyond that of mortal limits. Flipping over it and slashing the mechanism that fired the large arrow, he landed gracefully back on the sand, only to see Abomination holding the arrow in his hand and preparing to throw it back. As the arrow nearly missed him, leaving only a scratch on his cheek, Kratos leaped toward his back left, toward a catapult. But rather than simply using the catapult, Kratos latched the Blades of Exile onto one of the stationed boulders, catapulting them himself toward Abomination. However, this was another tactic that was merely knocked aside by the quickly advancing beast, who leaped toward the Ghost of Sparta, his fist raised for the death blow. But Kratos leaped out of the way, his blades latched on to a second boulder. He made a second flip, bringing the boulder up with him as it smacked Abomination straight in the face. Kratos then landed on a nearby sand dune, making a quick spin and chucking the boulder straight into what was between Abomination's legs. Bending over in pain, Abomination staggered forward and grabbed another boulder that lay inside the catapult, angrily throwing it toward Kratos, who was already advancing. But the God of War merely latched his swords onto the boulder once again, performing another spin. Quickly recognizing this maneuver, Abomination quickly moved to cover his already wounded groin, but that was not where Kratos was aiming for. The boulder swept Abomination straight off his feet, and as he fell onto his back, Kratos smashed the boulder down on his face. Abomination held his face in pain and annoyance, just as Kratos struck him in between the legs a second time with the boulder. This time, Abomination was outraged.
Quickly putting aside his physical pain and his mental stress, Abomination caught the next swing of the boulder, quickly rose up, ducked under the boulder, tightly gripped the Blades of Exile's chains and, with rage fueled behind his blow, stomped his foot down toward Kratos. However, the Ghost of Sparta fell onto his back intentionally and kicked his legs up, struggling to keep the foot of the beast's foot from crushing down on him. After a couple of minutes of pressing down, and making no progress, Abomination simply leaped over Kratos, taking the boulder with him. As Abomination flew through the air, he turned back around toward Kratos and threw the boulder like it was a dodgeball. Kratos ascended back to his feet and, seeing no further need for the boulder, gave it a solid punch as it collided with him, shattering it to dust. However, as the boulder shattered, he was met with a new threat: a large catapult that hurtled toward him at high speed. Swinging the Blades of Exile horizontally toward the catapult as quickly as he could, the Spartan king threw the heavy catapult to the side, only to be quickly met with another threat: Abomination himself, who was now directly in front of Kratos, preparing a kick. Kratos crouched down, putting his shoulder outward to absorb the force of the kick into the Nemean Cestus, but still found himself hit like a soccer ball into the air.
As he began to fly away, Kratos lashed the Blades of Exile yet again toward Abomination, aiming to pierce his swords through the monster's chest and reel himself back in. But Abomination grabbed the searing hot chains and indeed reeled him back in, proceeding to smash him into the sand around him multiple times. Kratos tried to regain his footing so that he could continue to contend with his fearsome opponent, but he was being tossed around too quickly and with too much force. Eventually, Abomination caught sight of a bunch of sharp wooden stakes pointed out toward the sea and, walking toward them, swung the God of War horizontally into the stakes, impaling him on them. Kratos grunted in pain as he felt the stakes rip through his back and out of his abdomen, trying to hold on to his will to fight as he struggled to retain consciousness.
Hades patted Zeus on the shoulder, putting his arm around him,
"See, little bro? There's your sand castle! There's your dying son, a proud sight for a proud dad! There's your throne all polished and preserved! And the winner is-"
But then, three peculiar words came out of Zeus' mouth, his face unreadable,
"Call him off."
Hades stepped back, a look of slight bewilderment on his face,
Poseidon looked shocked at this as well.
"Call the beast off," said Zeus again, still not even turning his head.
Hades stepped forward a bit, moving his arms in slightly obscure gestures as he continued to speak in a carefree attitude,
"Call him off? He's winning!"
Zeus then turned back toward Hades, rage evident in his white eyes,
"I said call him off!"
Hades, rather than reacting in fear, chuckled in amusement,
"You want him gone? Do it yourself. But you know the Oath."
Zeus was pausing in thought. His teeth were still gritted in frustration, but he now found himself in a predicament he hadn't known in days long passed.
"Go ahead. You're the big God, do it," Hades continued to goad.
But Zeus did not know what to say, nor what to do. And he refused to admit to himself why. Hades walked closer to Zeus, an intimidating look of anger and cruelty in his eyes, stared him down, and uttered one last taunt,
"Big bad King of the Gods, too afraid to fry a big ugly toe. You think you're a real king? Huh?"
It was at that point that Zeus began to look away, self-doubt creeping into his mind. But the confrontation was interrupted by Poseidon's sudden exclamation of,
Zeus and Hades then both looked back to the Flame of Olympus, where Poseidon was directing their gaze, and witnessed the turn of the tide.
Struggling to block out the pain, Kratos suddenly spat out a large amount of blood, staring at Abomination with a vengeful and ferocious look in his eyes that wasn't quite human. Abomination was staring back with savage pride in his victory, but the fight was not over yet. The Spartan tugged on the Blades of Exile, circling his arms so that the chains wrapped around his arms. The heat of the chains burned his flesh grievously, but he didn't even grunt, his pain negated by his desire to win this battle. And though Abomination tried to pull away, he was reeled in toward Kratos. And when he was finally up close to him, he gave a defiant smile toward the Ghost of Sparta. But in response, Kratos unleashed a savage war cry, head butting Abomination with incredible force over and over again while sustaining the cry. He hit the towering hulk so hard that blood began to drip from both of their foreheads. And then, as Abomination lowered his head in a dazed trance after Kratos' barrage was finally over, but the warrior himself was still awake, and not even finished. As the beast began to regain his focus, Kratos had already sank his teeth into his throat, and was now crunching down on it, ripping and tearing as Abomination choked and spat out blood over Kratos' back, his eyes bulging in pain as his body convulsed and twitched. And then, pulling his head back mightily, the Ghost of Sparta tore out Abomination's throat.
As Kratos leaned forward, the stakes that he was impaled upon holding him up, he spat out the throat right before Abomination's feet. Abomination struggled to stand up as he futilely attempted to gasp for oxygen. However, he was losing his balance slowly, his eyes wandering crazily about as if whatever kept them in place was melting away. The beast was slowly shrinking, seeming as if it were reverting from a large monster to an average-sized, nude, beaten and battered man. Kratos, with a bit of effort, pulled himself off of the stakes, sheathing the Blades of Exile as he walked over to the creature that was once Abomination. The now human beast was now on all fours, holding his throat, desperately trying to place it back into his neck. And as Kratos stood over the man, he looked up at him, holding his throat into his neck like a washcloth held over an open wound. But within the man's eyes, the God of War didn't see either fear or regret. He only saw self-contempt and acceptance of death. And death is what he would receive.
Making a loud grunt, Kratos kicked the man before him in the face, certainly hard enough to kill him. As the bloodied man flew into the distance away from him, Kratos turned to his right and walked out toward the sea. He then looked up to the sky, and Zeus looked back through the Flame of Olympus. And though he could not see him, the Ghost of Sparta could feel the man he called a father's presence in the dying storm.
His expression defiant, his posture forced straight, and his fists clenched so hard that his veins protruded like they were muscles of their own, he placed his right fist on his bleeding forehead and held it up to the hidden King of the Gods.
"I take this pact now, father! You send an entire fleet to kill me, yet you hide in your mountain like a hatchling in its nest! If you were a true warrior, you would have descended from the Great Mountain and faced me yourself! I take this pact that I will march upon Olympus and tear your palace down stone by stone! I take this pact that I will smash down the doors to your throne room and destroy every last God that has dared to challenge me! And when the time comes for you to face me, you will die with my blades twisting through your craven heart! And the worlds of the divine and the mortals alike will know that the King of the Gods fell to Kratos, the God of War!"
Kratos then laid his fist down slowly, spitting on the ground as he walked away, the storm now ceased completely. However, during his pact, he had failed to notice a man in a black cloak and a hood appear and carry Abomination away through a void of blackness formed from the swing of his sword.
As Kratos walked away, a large splash from the sea signaled Tai Lung leaping from it. He landed right next to Kratos.
"2,957. How many did you kill?" he said.
But Kratos did not respond. He merely continued walking with an inconceivably brooding look on his face as Tai Lung walked with him.
"Not a kill counter, I see. Well, I see that you've been hard at work."
As they continued walking, they saw the Spartan army emerge from the dunes, very much in the same condition that they had been in when they had left. Ulgius stood ever proudly at the head of army, wrenched in sweat and the blood of his enemies. He had a sword in his right hand, a human head in his left. He held it up and unleashed a mighty war cry, with which the others quickly joined. Kratos, with reserved pride for his soldiers, and Tai Lung, with a relatively impressed look in his eyes, cheered back with their own war cries; the two of them alone yelled just as loudly as the entire army of seasoned warriors.
The Big Three looked down at the event. Sorrow and frustration crossed Zeus' face, Poseidon exhumed an air of rational patience, and Hades looked completely shocked at the defeat of one of the most powerful monsters he had ever come across.
"Very impressive sand castle. Why don't you make an ark next time?" Poseidon said ever sarcastically to Hades.
Hades' blue flesh began to turn a fiery red, as the cigar in his mouth was reduced to ash by the heat.
SPARTA, 9: 48 PM
The Spartans celebrated their victory under the night sky, which became clouded by smoke from their fires. Soldiers walked about carrying goblets of wine and armor. The city was filled with the noise of cheering, singing of well known Greek songs, soldiers telling the women and children the stories of their accomplishments in the battle, and even some houses where the lit lanterns shone through the windows and the rather brusque activities of the couples inside could be heard from outside.
At their own fire, a distance from the rest of the crowd, Kratos and Tai Lung sat on the bare ground. They had no food by their side, nor did they have any drinks. Kratos stared at the fire silently, a brooding look on his face. The large gash on his forehead was now reduced to a small scab due to his godly healing factor, as were the wounds on his torso from the stakes. Tai Lung looked around at the city, occasionally back at Kratos, trying to read him and the people around him.
"Is your city always like this?" asked Tai Lung.
Kratos simply raised his eyebrow in response, a "kind of" look on his bitter face.
"Smile a bit. We won. We're still alive. The Gods know how dangerous we are. There's glory written all over our actions today."
"You truly think that glory is a man's greatest virtue?" asked Kratos sternly.
Tai Lung shrugged nonchalantly,
"You don't care for it?"
Kratos continued to look back at the fire, his gaze becoming deeper.
"I did. That was a mistake. It cost me my wife and my daughter to realize otherwise. It was when I found their blood skewered across my blades that it became too late."
Tai Lung chuckled slightly.
"You shouldn't hold yourself accountable for that. Would you have killed them if Ares hadn't poisoned your mind?"
Kratos looked up at Tai Lung.
"Of course not."
"Then it's not your fault."
"I was a weakling. If I had been stronger, they would still be alive."
Tai Lung began to look down at the fire. His expression was still cocky, but began to bear a hint of sadness to it.
"The oddest thing about power. It's a blissful ignorance to even the sharpest of the pack. You go out for more and more of it. And it feels like it brings you everything. But as you get closer and closer to getting the ultimate form of it, you only come closer and closer to realizing how beyond you it is. And it merely proves to be a distraction... to what you really want."
Kratos suddenly winced in confusion at Tai Lung's sudden change in character, looking up at him.
"I wasn't always the warrior that you see now," Tai Lung continued.
"The earliest memories of mine are being raised by Shifu, the closest thing to a father that I've ever had. I was left at the doorstep of his palace by my real parents. Whenever I set myself on an endeavor, I can't help but hope that one way or another, it will bring me back to them. Or at the very least, find out why they abandoned me in the first place."
Kratos continued to look at him.
"I don't see why parentage is all that important," he said, thinking of his own father's treachery in regret.
"It may just lead you to more pain," the demigod continued.
Tai Lung got up on his feet casually, his arrogant air returning,
"What would a warrior accomplish if he said that before every battle? Now, I'm going to go look around. Can't let these people have all the fun."
With that, Tai Lung leaped away toward a nearby building, leaving Kratos alone. He looked back at the fire, his face still as rage filled and bitter as ever. If only he had been stronger that day.
AT ANOTHER FIRE
Ulgius sat on a log, two beautiful, well-endowed women on his lap. One was a blonde, the other a brunette. The brunette had her bare breasts hanging out, taking turns with the other one kissing Ulgius vigorously. Aether walked over to this from behind the Spartan commander, tapping him on the shoulder. Ulgius looked behind him.
"You know the laws of any good Spartan. A fight, then a fuck. Don't just stand about!" joked Ulgius.
Aether grinned slightly,
"You fought well today."
"You haven't lost your skills with a bow," Ulgius said between making out with his lovely company.
"But not all of those soldiers were killed. This particular soldier is someone you might want to know about."
Ulgius' eager smile was replaced with a scowl of concern. As the waiting women were rubbing his armored chest and kissing his neck, he got up, the two females getting out of his way. The two then walked over toward a nearby house, where they were relatively alone except for just a people nearby.
"Why not simply tell Lord Kratos of this?" asked Ulgius.
"He doesn't look too approachable right now."
"He never does. Anyway, one soldier? I saw no such warrior on the battlefield who could survive us. He must have been a coward."
"Possibly," replied Aether.
"He was standing on one of the dunes. He wore a black cloak and carried a sword. His face was shrouded by a hood. He even looked like he had the physique of a Spartan."
"I don't see how he's a threat. He was likely their commander, too cowardly to fight himself."
"I think we were lucky that way, though. I fired an arrow at him. He swung his sword, the arrow disappeared into thin air. Then he just vanished through some kind of portal."
Ulgius raised his eyebrow.
"Could he have been a magician? Perhaps a God in a mortal guise."
"Doubt it. Whoever he was, I don't think we've seen the last of him."
Ulgius rubbed the back of his head, curiosity in his eyes as to whom this new opponent was. However, Aether turned his gaze to see something else that caught his attention: the approaching women that Ulgius had left behind.
"Well, if you'd excuse me now, I'm going to enjoy some spoils of war," Aether said mischievously as he walked away.
Ulgius ripped his mind out of his deep thought and looked back at Aether, changing his scowl to a friendly smile.
"They were mine first."
"Too bad you can't hold on to your women as well as your sword," he said as he walked off, the concubines on his arm.
Ulgius laughed at the friendly chatter, then leaned against the wall, sinking back into troubled thought as the celebration raged on around him. What threat could this new opponent mark?
9: 57 PM
Hades sat on his throne in frustration. Zeus' hesitance to act was the key to his undoing, but also the greatest difficulty in the Lord of the Dead's plan. If he wanted the Olympian throne, he would have to think of something far more formidable than what he had done this day.
Suddenly, the man in the hood from the Spartan dunes emerged from a black portal, the corpse of the man who had nearly killed Kratos slumped on his left shoulder. Hades looked up and saw his new guest.
"This is why you don't get a mortal to do a demigod's job," said the man in the cloak.
"Don't patronize me, kid." said Hades calmly.
"Unless you want him to bite out your throat too."
The cloaked man then tossed the body onto the floor.
"I got you your army, your fleet, and your Abomination. You'd better make good on your end of the bargain when you've got your throne."
"Of course. I'll buy you a lollypop and get you a therapist for your daddy issues."
The man then drew his sword.
"This sword's made from both celestial bronze and tempered steel. That means that not even Gods can survive it. You pull out that kind of talk again, I might just cut your throat before your next sentence comes out."
Hades held still for a moment, then leaned back in his throne.
"Our deal's still kicking, as long as you are. But we both know that you can't get what you want if you kill me, right?"
"I'm pretty sure I can find other ways. But as long as our agreement's intact,"
He then twirled his sword gracefully and placed it back in its sheath.
"I'm good for whatever else you need me for, Hades."
Hades then leaned forward, a bit of red flickering in his blue hair.
The man in the cloak then tilted his head to the left slightly, obviously irritated.
"Lord Hades. What do you want done with the body?"
Hades then looked down at the bloodied, nude man lying on the ground.
"I'll have my boys take care of it. Pain."
A red fire came from nowhere in the corner. From it emerged a rather small, overweight, satanic looking creature with only his right eye in place, the left one hanging from its socket. There was a scar across his neck and his right foot was twisted backwards.
"Coming, your dubiousness," he said with a creepy, inhuman voice that sounded like his vocal cords were in pain. A twisted, demented smile crossed his face.
In the right of the room, a blue fire emerged. This time, a blue, skinny demon emerged from it. His face was sickly and contorted, with spikes embedded into his cheeks. Claws protruded from his fingers and he bore talons instead of feet. Across his abdomen, there were faces branded onto him that looked as if they were in panic and terror, moving about like terrible ghouls. There were three shrunken skulls nailed onto his forehead, and he bore a black, filthy looking goatee.
"Present, Hades the Almighty," he said in a light, yet still rather terrifying voice, as if he was eagerly waiting to kill someone.
"Put our broken sword there back together. And make him a bit more fitting for what I want out of him later."
"With pleasure," they said subsequently, sadism dripping from their voices. They then approached Abomination's corpse, their hands trembling and contorting with eagerness. As Hades and the cloaked man looked on, they began their work.