Wither The Vain: Part 2 of The Tower
 


Stationary, Eyewear, and Scaly Things, Going Up


Some people must request before they’re born to have their balls dipped in liquid steel. Because that’s the only way I can really see someone being stupid enough to get in our way after seeing the thrashing I give someone. He was still standing there on the sixth floor though, smiling with all the beaming audacity of the sun at us.


“Glad to see you made it father. Wither, Seth, Christoph, hello to you as well.”


“Hello Pox. Guessed you’d be here. Why?”


“Why? You mean, other than to legitimize my work and gain a modicum of protection against you barbarians? How about the fact that father threatened my children when last we met. Still so smug now Victory?”


I snorted.


“Do you really think you rebelling against him is going to make him care one way or the other? Good god you’re dense. The only regret he’s probably having right now is that he didn’t kill you after getting the disease to infect The Scavenger. You’re disposable. It’s time you were gotten rid of.”


Pox frowned angrily at that and touched a finger to either eye. Long, snotty tendrils extended from either viscous orb and he twirled them together.


“I’m not limited to the bacterium I was intended for. I can create far more interesting things. I’m not about to let you spoil our plans. My Society of Ashes will take its place at the forefront of a new age.”


“Arturo, can you shut him up. Please.”


The little Spaniard was already scribbling away as his creation’s vile bodily fluids combined in his hands. I put a foot forward to clear the distance between myself and Pox and propelled myself forward.


I never was good at waiting.


Pox finished drawing the goop from his eyes and slapped it down on the floor in front of me as I took a swing for him. He ducked backwards, narrowly avoiding me. I was moving forward again when the snotball on the ground grew an arm and grabbed me with it.


“Have fun with him Uncle Wither. I can’t imagine you’ve seen one in awhile. Should be some fun, eh?”


Seth and Christoph were both finally moving across the room while Arturo continued to scribble in his notepad. Pox wrapped his arms around himself and leapt through the window. A child with wings swooped down and caught him, carrying him away.


“What the hell was that Wither?”


“How should I know? Help me with the ooze you moron!”


By this point, the bubbling puddle of goo had grown another three arms, all ending in nasty claws. It seemed determined to pull the rest of its torso out of the snot bubble on the floor. All it was doing to me was shredding my ankle something fierce.


I grabbed Christoph’s hand and we both pulled back as he slashed the arm across its green wrist with a vine whip. The clawed hand let me go and started to twist around as green scales grew over top of it.


“What the hell is this thing Arturo?”


“Silence while I’m working!”


“I won’t be silent while I’m kicking its ass. What is it?”


“Hydra. Now be quiet.”


A hydra. Oh good. The first two heads pushed free of the widening puddle; their necks like noodles extruding from the muck. Seth pulled a chunk of broken glass from the window Pox had gone through. He threw it like a discus, the glass embedding itself halfway into one of the creature’s necks. Christoph reached out and grabbed ahold of the injured neck and wrenched. It screamed as he pried the hydra’s head from its neck, lobbing the torn off head out the window.


The second head snapped for me as I pulled my lighter from my pocket. Seth caught it in mid-air and wrestled with the angry head as I poured the lighter’s reserve fluid all over the already healing stump. Flick, flick, flick, whoosh. The lighter caught and the fluid lit with it.


The bloody stump started to sizzle and pop as it burned closed.


“One down, two to go. What the hell are you doing over their Arturo?”


“It’s composed of diseases and virii. It isn’t going to behave like a “normal” hydra. It’s a play on words. Hydras are types of virii; computer and otherwise. You three are already immune to its effects. You’d be bleeding from the ears right now if I hadn’t fixed that first.”


The burned through stump caved in and showed rows of nasty teeth, its mouth becoming like a lamphrey.


“Can you do something about the unkillable thing now?”


“Working on it. You’re talking too much.”


The first neck that Seth had leapt onto smashed him into a wall before growing arms of its own to claw at him with.


“Arturo!”


“Now! Stab it with a stick!”


“What?!”


“Stick! Stab it! Now!”


Christoph jabbed his fist into the gasping mouth where the one neck’s stump had been. The entire creature seemed to vibrate, squealing wildly, before collapsing into a puddle of sea-green oil.


“You couldn’t just write “It died” could you?”


“No. There are rules that I have to bend. Particularly with someone of his caliber creating this thing. I had to reverse the way certain mitochondria process…”


“Shut up. Just shut the hell up and get up those steps. We’ve got a long way to go before we get to Morelli and if you keep talking you’ll be laying here on the ground in your boy’s eye juice.”


Arturo was quiet, another floor was clear, and we were on our way. I couldn’t help but grin.


The kid hadn’t done a bad job on the hydra. I’d have to get him to make a more accurate version sometime. Those things were great to toy with when you got bored.


And suddenly I understood why he was so damn cocky. He may be Victory’s son, but he took after his uncle damn well.