Previously on The Cult: Dane names the AI "Visém" as the team heads for West Tandur.
About this creation
Sara: Aah...I don't think I can climb another mile.
John: I'm getting too old for this, I need a breather.
Garth: Me as well.
Dane: Sidus, aren't we supposed to be making for West Tandur?
Sidus: You saw the hills below us yesterday, Dane. The Shining Path swarm around these mountains in search of us. We have no choice but to continue upward until the storm subsides.
Sidus: The trees grow thin. We have nearly climbed high enough; we are almost there.
John: How much further?
Sidus: This distance is not negotiable. We march or we die.
Sidus threw his gun atop the ledge he was about to scale.
Sidus: Bring the weapons and supplies first, Marc.
Sidus helped Marc up to the top.
Marc: Guns first!
Visém: Wait a moment, Dane.
Dane: What is it?
Mikayla: Deere, you go first. My back aches...I'll go sit down.
Deere: Hurry, even going last you don't have long.
Mikayla: I know, I'll be quick. Just a little rest.
Visém: You are being watched, Dane. Continue moving, I must make sure.
Garth: Need a boost?
Dane: No, no I got it.
Visém: That is odd. I count nine heat signatures but there are only eight in your party.
Without warning, Mikayla stopped dead in her tracks and her crossbow fell to the rocky ground, yet no-one noticed.
Then she screamed, a horrible, sickening scream; the scream of one who knows doom is approaching.
Visém: Dane, make haste! He is here!
Dane: Everyone else, go! We will catch up later, go!
Dane: Who is it, Visém? Who is "he"?
Visém: One who can defeat you, Dane. One of the few with strength beyond what IRONHIDE could do. Paladin is here, Dane.
Soon a blurred shape materialized in front of Mikayla, and as it extended through her and came into focus it was obvious she had been stabbed.
Deere: It's the Path! They're here!
Dane: No, stay away Deere! Go with the others, this is my fight! Run!
Parts of a figure continued to de-cloak, and as they did so the person raised Mikayla, still impaled, high into the air.
Then the person's head appeared and solidified. It was Paladin. With a short motion he flung Mikayla from his sword.
Mikayla was sent through the thin air at inhuman speeds and thudded against a rocky outcrop with a horrible crunch.
Dane: Sidus, take the others and go! I'll stall him, just go!
Paladin: I have waited long for this moment. I followed you, but you eluded me again and again, but now, now you are within my grasp.
Dane: You will pay for what you have done!
Dane charged at Paladin, but his initial strike was easily deflected.
Paladin: You are weak, Dane. I was once like you, but the Path has made me more powerful than any man!
Dane: You are an abomination!
With that, Dane charged once more.
Paladin: No Dane, you and all your kind are. Distractions from the one Path. Distractions which must be eliminated.
Paladin aimed a low swing, but Dane evaded it.
As Paladin recovered from his swing, Dane tackled him.
But Paladin was ready, and with a clean kick sent Dane rolling away from him.
Both took the time to recover their weapons and balance.
Visém: Paladin was once a member of Project IRONHIDE, Dane. But that Paladin no longer seems to exist. The Path did something to him.
Dane: Who are you?
Paladin: You know my name.
He ran at Dane as he spoke.
But Dane was prepared, and as Paladin approached he swung his body around Paladin's blade.
He then struck at Paladin from behind, cutting off his hand.
Paladin's sword clattered to the ground.
He dodged Dane's next swing and rolled away.
Dane: Who are you? Tell me, or you die.
Paladin: I won't die today, Dane. The strongest always survive.
Paladin dove for Mikayla's crossbow as he said this.
Paladin: And you are not the strongest.
Dane rushed at him, but Paladin was too quick. Dane was sent stumbling back with a crossbow bolt in his stomach.
Dane's vision began clouding.
Paladin: I told you, Dane, only the strongest survive. You could have run then, but you were too arrogant.
Dane tried to grab his sword, but his strength seemed to be dying away, carried away by the mournful winds.
Paladin: But I will not kill you.
Paladin: My friends will.