The Pendulum swung, slashing the air as it picked up speed. The mechanical shrill scream of old and taut parts coming back to life filled the vast temple and the rusty monster soon roared with full power.
Standing in safe distance the Mechanic slid his finger down the glowing screen, going through the list of task performed and tasks about to initiate. He tapped on each running task, making sure the procedure was performed as planned. He smiled behind his mask at the excellent results reading on his screen.
On both corners of the chamber under the fluorescent light the Mechanic had installed prior, two crystals glistened; one ruby, one emerald. They were both grand, an impressive size, artificially grown. The Mechanic traced their crystalized roots descending all the way town to the floor of the chamber and digging into the foundations. But what mattered to him were the cocoon crystals that embraced the vessels carrying the virus and the antidote.
He checked the time. According to his statistics for the Pendulum to interact with the crystal fully and begin piercing through the thick material the estimated time was 16 hours. The Mechanic nodded. It was a hard task to crack the alien armor that had formed around the core, and the Pendulum would only suffice to penetrate inches inside and weaken the core. After that it was time for the Mosquito to play its part.
After 10 hours the first glistening ruby pieces started falling off. The Mechanic smiled once more.
Outside a snow storm was in its culmination, mad and swooshing, a white freezing fog that hid the peaks of the Himalayas. It was a ghost storm, a phantom wind that pierced through leather and skin and bones.
The mage was meditating in the midst of the happening, his palms upon his legs, opened upwards, two small balls of nature’s fury forming in each.
The mercenary’s were sitting in the throat of the cave serving as entrance to the temple inside the mountain.
“We’ve got company.”
Inside the howling storm, aside from the voices, another sound was making itself persistent, drawing nearer, sounding louder. It disappeared only to be replaced by an even louder one.
An aircraft swam out of the cloak of the snow, firing rounds from two Berezin B-20’s attached to it.
The mercenary’s scattered, picking on the run their weapons and firing back. One of the machine guns bursted into flames.
The mage was on his feet, charged with ice spells. He casted a rain of frozen spears which punctured the airplane top to bottom and it lost control, smashing into the surface of the mountain.
Two new crafts of the same model appeared from left and right. The mage built a resistance wall, giving time for the mercenary’s to load the RPG. His spell shattered just as the missile was fired. The airplane saw it and dodged it. Four of the mercenary’s were shot in the moment of distraction. The second airplane moved away, whilst the first one was spitting rounds at the walls of ice the mage was continuing to cast. Seconds later a squad of dark clothed soldiers with goggles and shotguns was dispatched at the narrow terrace. The mage was taken down and the remaining five mercenary’s took three more lives before getting thrown off.
The first group of soldiers was followed by a second, and the two squads entered the cave.
The Mechanic was witnessing the almost complete process of core removal. The shards were nearly destroyed, and now that the Mosquito was piercing through the created gap, neatly puncturing the surface, the vessel carrying the virus was pealing off even more. Soon the tip of the Mosquito would be able to poke and extract.
There was a series of thumps echoing throughout the temple walls.
The Mechanic turned at the sudden noise.
Soldiers were aligning at the top of the stairs, their rifles and shotguns pointed at him. Between the heavy-armed lines an admiral walked. His face was pink from the biting cold and his hair was sandy blond. His voice carried an accent when he spoke.
“I’ve dreamed about this discovery ever since I can remember. I’ve read so much about the crash, about the myth that a ship carried two artifacts, one of sin and one of purity, but they were a myth, always a myth, though I believed with my entire being. My scholar said they couldn’t be created, because no human being had ever created perfection. But this is the perfection of life and the perfection of death. It is the most dangerous weapon known. I wanted to own that kind of power. It would cleanse me too, no? Knowing I could do so much good. Help people. Kill people. The ultimate antidote! The ultimate plague! Imagine the wonders!”
The admiral walked down the crumbling steps of the temple. He stopped when he was next to The Mechanic, staring at the Mosquito working on both the crystals.
“I could have never gotten here without your help and your brilliance. Your devices are magnificent.”
The Mechanic cocked his head to one side, the black orbits on his gas mask reflecting the glow of the crystals.
The admiral gave him a smirk and a funny look came to his glassy blue eyes.
The Mechanic knew that look. It meant he had just a second or less. It was his goodbye moment, the frame he would to death, a neo communist’s smirking pink face.
In his pocket he kept the small tablet, the navigation program still working. He gently slid his finger upwards, maximizing the speed of the Mosquito. The machine freaked out instantly and charged at the crystal, breaking the needle, setting the arm on fire as it pulled out and swung sideways, smashing into the other arm still working on the antidote crystal.
“What are you doing you bloody fool!”
The crystal shattered, crimson red liquid dripping from the sharp edge, evaporating when meeting the still air in the temple. The virus dispersed everywhere, silent and invisible.
The Mosquito hit the ceiling of the temple, bringing down chunks of rock and the remains of the core. The whole place began to collapse like in a dream, simultaneously, slowed in time, slowed in realisation. The soldiers opened fire on The Mechanic, but their shots were dodgy and missed him. The Mechanic used the opportunity to kick down the admiral and make a run for it. The air was becoming horrid, Pandora’s box opened, skin decomposing, blood spitting, choking.
The Mechanic ran.
The temple collapsed without warning, shutting itself inside the belly of the Himalaya, blockading the discovery of the centuries.
One body sat on the snowy terrace, breathing fresh air through the mask. His inventions were destroyed, his life’s work and research gone. But on the tablet in his pocket, a formula was writing itself, and it was one element away from becoming dangerous.