39 Survivor

Mara relinquished her grip on the gun, her gaze fixated on the lifeless bodies sprawled before her. With a heavy heart, she approached the fallen guards, her footsteps barely audible, as if respecting the somber atmosphere that enveloped the scene.

Filled with a sense of grim determination, she began rummaging through their belongings, extracting whatever useful supplies she could find. Amidst the echoes of distant gunshots that permeated the battlefield, she whispered softly, almost as if speaking to the departed souls. "I'm sorry," her voice barely above a hushed breath, her words laden with regret and sorrow.

She took a moment to compose herself, her eyes scanning the chaotic surroundings. The devastation and despair that clung to the air only reinforced her resolve.

"Titan City is hell, and I cannot return," she whispered, her voice tinged with a mix of weariness and determination. With purposeful steps, she stealthily slipped away from the sheltering confines of the building, blending into the vast expanse of the sandy terrain that stretched before her.

Meanwhile, a solitary tear cascaded down Bale's face, the weight of grief pressing upon his weary soul. He had witnessed the abrupt end of Akura's life, her final moments slipping away amidst gurgles that soon gave way to a haunting silence.

She was gone now, forever lost in the unforgiving chaos of war. Bale's eyes met those of The Vulture, an eerie connection formed between them in that mournful instant.

Summoning all his strength, Bale reached for his gun, his fingers trembling with pain and determination. The will to survive surged within him, urging him forward despite the overwhelming odds.

The Vulture, observing his struggle, took a step closer, their grip tightening around a menacing knife, its blade still stained with Akura's blood.

Amidst the grim tableau, Bale's gaze shifted to Marco, his companion whose life had been extinguished in an instant. The shock had frozen Marco's features, leaving his mouth agape in perpetual astonishment.

Blood, already saturating his entire shirt, adorned his lips and the corners of his mouth, evidence of the violent upheaval that had consumed him. His eyes, once vibrant and filled with vitality, now remained vacant and grey, robbed of all traces of life.

Bale instinctively drew his gun from its holster, ready to aim it at The Vulture, but before he could react, a swift kick sent his weapon flying across the trench. He let out an exasperated groan and attempted to reach for it, only to find The Vulture kneeling down, fixing him with an intense gaze.

Removing his mask, The Vulture unveiled a face that bore a striking resemblance to Bale. They shared the same unruly hair and piercing eyes, yet The Vulture sported a substantial, scruffy beard. Placing a finger to his lips, he emitted a hushed sound, conveying a message of caution.

"I don't want my comrades to kill you," The Vulture spoke softly, his eyes shifting towards Akura's lifeless form. "It's not as if I desired that fate for her." He then redirected his gaze to Bale, a peculiar darkness enveloping his eyes in the form of a black ember.

Perplexed, Bale couldn't help but inquire, "Why are you helping me?" Resigned to the idea of joining his fallen friends, he saw little reason to cling to survival. "Because I need you alive," The Vulture replied, swiftly examining Bale to assess the extent of his injuries, ensuring no major wounds like gunshot or stab wounds were present. Bale affirmed with a nod.

Suddenly, The Vulture produced a needle, causing Bale's eyes to widen, his breathing growing rapid. "I see you fear needles. Is it because of what they did to you?" The Vulture inquired, observing Bale intently.

Confusion etched across Bale's face as he questioned, "Who did what?" Seeking answers, he locked eyes with The Vulture, desperate to uncover the truth behind his mysterious circumstances. "Titan City. You may not comprehend it fully just yet, but you will," The Vulture replied, his gaze momentarily shifting towards Akura before returning to Bale.

"Titan City is not what it seems. It's a place of darkness, though I won't justify our actions or claim that we are the righteous ones, especially when we, too, have once walked in your shoes," he confessed, eliciting a contemplative silence from Bale.

"The reason we possess Nephalems is that we were once like you, but we discovered the truth of their intentions," The Vulture continued, holding Bale's gaze firmly.

"They kill innocent children, subjecting them to become soldiers through brainwashing techniques facilitated by advanced technology. Your eyes hold significance in their twisted schemes, as they serve as indicators of those who have broken free from their influence." Bale shook his head in disbelief, rejecting the unsettling revelations.

"You're lying! That can't be true," he protested, his voice laced with skepticism. Yet, The Vulture remained resolute. "I assure you, this is no fabrication. I speak only the truth," he asserted, stealing a fleeting glance towards the ongoing battlefield.

"Come with me. It's safer on my side. I promise," The Vulture extended his hand towards Bale, a gentle smile adorning his face. Bale hesitated for a moment, his mind grappling with conflicting thoughts, before eventually nodding in agreement. "Okay, I'll go with you," he conceded.

Notably, Bale's eyes showed no signs of transformation, a fact that struck The Vulture as peculiar. "Allow me to introduce myself. I am Scar," he declared, his nod accentuating the introduction. With care and determination, Scar lifted Bale from the ground, a glimmer of hope in his eyes. "You won't regret this decision, son,"

Bale felt a slight pinch, and suddenly the world around him blurred, his vision swimming. He cast a bewildered glance at Scar, who effortlessly navigated the chaotic battlefield, dodging bullets that whizzed perilously close. "Son?" Bale mumbled, his voice barely audible before darkness consumed him, plunging him into unconsciousness.

Scar reached a desolate set of ruins and settled down, carefully examining Bale's condition. Multiple fractures and cracks marred his upper body, prompting a sigh of concern.

Retrieving a small capsule from his belongings, Scar scrutinized it, his gaze fixated on the liquid contained within. A tiny note adorned the bottle, and he removed it, reading its contents aloud. "An Essence Beyond The Sand." With a deliberate motion, he popped open the cap.

"These were given to us by traders about a day ago. Let's hope they work wonders on fractures," Scar muttered under his breath. Gently, he poured the liquid into Bale's mouth, ensuring that he swallowed every drop. Lowering the now empty capsule, Scar observed intently, awaiting the desired effects.

Lifting Bale's shirt, he observed the severe bruising that had marred his torso. Remarkably, within a matter of minutes since ingesting the liquid, the bruises began to fade, gradually dissipating.

A sense of relief washed over Scar's face. "It works. Thank goodness," he murmured with a smile, carefully stowing away the empty capsule. Retrieving a weathered photograph from his pocket, he held it tenderly in his hands, the image capturing a glimpse of the past.

In the photograph, Scar stood alongside a woman and a young boy. His gaze lingered upon the little boy's face before shifting his attention to the unconscious Bale lying before him. "That's why I called you son," he whispered softly, the weight of his words imbued with a profound meaning.

Next chapter