Blacksmith of the Apocalypse - 724. Cromwel
Blood was dripping from his claws as they slowly turned back into the hand of a wizened old man.
Looking at the dismembered corpses of his former co-worker, he let out a deep sigh. It all started with the infiltration of those despicable vermin from the Scene.
Having barely survived the laboratory’s self-destruction together with the infiltrators from Gamma, Cromwel still remembered the pain of his body being incinerated vividly. He had needed weeks to recover and get used to his new state of existence.
The unfinished serum had granted him a kind of immortality, but it had also doomed him to live his life either in the form of an old man, or a wicked-looking beast. His fist balled every time he passed a mirror, reminding him of what he had lost and the face he now carried.
Driven by revenge, Cromwel separated from the other two people that had survived the transformation and explosion. He was still better off than them, who lacked any shape that would have allowed them to enter human society ever again.
His destination was Delta. Being the closes district and place with a branch of Zeontech, he wanted to go there first and contact his allies inside the corporation to warn them about the infiltration of the Scene.
It was not just the sheer number of beasts but also their difficulty. It was a shock to him to find out that the virus they had originally found in Omega, had finally spread past the northern mountains, even reaching as far south as Delta.
With the beasts being able to constantly regenerate just like him, his fights of life or death were just a drawn-out sequence of death and revival to the point when he finally managed to exhaust the beast’s regenerative capabilities.
Unlike Cromwel who carried a refined version of the pathogen, these creatures were just brainless zombies and had only a limited ability to revive before they finally became inert. As much as it was a horror to him, the journey enabled him to master fighting in his disfigured shape of a monster from the Beyond.
He had long lost track of how long he had been traveling. Since he had no <Map> skill, was traveling on the abandoned highways, following the signs to Delta. Another reason his journey had been riddled with dangers.
Battered and only clad in ripped, bloodstained rags, he finally saw the district in the distance. Gasping for breath, he took in the view of the city in the middle of the mountains, with islands floating in the skies around it. He took a while to take in the sight. He had finally arrived.
However, his struggle didn’t end even when he reached Delta. In response to the virus spreading in its surrounding, Delta had shown an incredibly quick reaction and ability to come up with a countermeasure.
When Cromwel had approached one of the official entrances of the city he not just found it heavily guarded, but he saw people entering through a magic membrane. The immortal doctor instinctively felt disturbed by the sight and could sense the danger this membrane posed to him.
How had Delta been able to come up with a countermeasure so effective that even felt an instinctive fear of it? It had to be an elaborate guess. A coincidence. He doubted anybody but he and his dead colleagues in the laboratory truly knew enough about the serum’s effects and this disease to come up with something like this founded on logic and evidence.
At a loss, the first thing the doctor did was create an insurance for his survival. Turning around and leaving the city far behind and walked straight into the mountains. His goal was one of the many glaciers in the mountains. Out of sight from the city he turned into a beast and sprinted through the desolate wilderness until he found what he was looking for.
Standing at a deep ice crevice he grabbed his left shoulder. With a painful howl, he ripped his arm off and threw it into the crevasse. When his eyes lost sight of the limb, his arm had already started regenerating and almost completely regrown.
Seeing that these membranes existed, Delta was a potentially deadly place to enter. That was why he left a seed. If he really died inside, he would be able to be reborn from this limb in a place nobody would be looking for him.
With that taken care of he returned to Delta and became looking for a place to enter the city. He actually managed to enter thanks to the demons that controlled part of the city. There were a lot more gaps in their defense to the outside. He doubted to have entered unnoticed, but at least he had avoided those weird barriers.
Once inside he quickly found his way to the branch of Zeontech. This brings us to the present. They had only disregarded him for looking like an old beggar, but it was when he stated his name and code that everything went downhill.
The moment he had stated his name an alarm sounded. Metal shutters and barriers blocked every exit. Had the receptionist pressed a button? From secret entrances, the lobby was flooded by armed guards attacking him with the intention to kill. Spells, Skills, and projectiles ripped him and the panic-stricken receptionist lady to pieces.
When the guards finally stopped, only a mangled mess was left of the two humans. Yet, instead of being dead, a terrifying monster rose from the mangled mess. It wasn’t the receptionist. Three meters tall, a body covered in long, shaggy fur and an uncanny humanoid face, Cromwel rose back to his feet.
To think the scene had infiltrated so deeply, that Zeontech would immediately try to kill him and erase any trace of him. Cromwel was displeased, to say the least.
“W-What is that?” some called out, others judged the situation correctly and tried to attack, but all of them were too late.
His legs, like springs, gave him incredible acceleration as he charged into the crowd of guards. The claws, long and wide like kitchen knives, hacked apart whatever got in their way. Weapons and Shields were barely an obstruction, armors were cleaved apart and barriers destroyed.
Now that he was among them, and they panicked, their attacks were chaotic and uncoordinated. Cromwel simply ignored them. Curs healed quickly, magic could barely harm him. While the guard leader tried to bring back order, their men died like chickens.
He had lost his connection to the system during his rebirth as a monster, but he easily overpowered the guards who were probably at the higher end of adventurers in Delta. He had become used to fighting massive and numerous monsters on his journey, these adventurers were hardly a worry to him.
Since he was no longer part of the system, he also lost the convenient way to become stronger by collecting experience and gaining levels, or raising skills. All he could do was to become better in the powers he had retained and absorb tiny amounts of energy from the corpses of his enemies.
Things would have been easier if he had taken the completed serum, alas it could not be changed anymore. It didn’t take long to harvest the dead guards and the doctor soon turned to the blocked exits.
He could only smile at the vain efforts. Even though these shutters were not steel, but probably some Mithril alloy, they couldn’t stop his advance. He easily broke through one of the doors, and immediately faced another group of guards.
Nevertheless, it was clear they had already lost their will to fight, after hearing their comrades die beyond the metal wall. Cromwel didn’t care, he ripped through them and slaughtered his way inside. Apart from guards, the building seemed abandoned.
Had they already evacuated the people? It wasn’t that long, so he doubted it. Cracking his neck, he turned back to a blood-covered old man, presenting his naked chicken breast and elephant to the world.
A crooked smile covered his face as he sat down at one of the computer terminals. Of course, his login information had already been blocked. How meticulous to have blocked a supposed dead man. But they had underestimated him.
Cromwel had long since registered multiple accounts under different names to access the Zeontech Network. Only he knew how many there really were. They didn’t all have a high clearance, but that wasn’t what he needed anyway. He just needed enough authority to-
Thunderous bang echoes through the rooms and hallways as the whole building was put under lockdown. The lights went off for a moment before being replaced by red emergency lights.
He just needed enough authority to activate the emergency protocols in case they were under attack, or an experiment tried to get out. With this, the whole building operated only on emergency power, and all possible escape paths were cut off.
Carrying an arrogant smirk, he got off the chair and began to search. With the lockdown activated, he would be able to take his sweet time to find and interrogate whoever was still left in this place and he had no intention of playing nice anymore.