Have you ever wondered why Dendi is so good at playing heroes that demand presence of mind and aiming spells correctly? Be it Puck, Windrunner, Nevermore, Invoker, Rubick, or his signature hero Pudge, he always seems to deliver results. Truth is, he was not exactly born with this talent… his tale is rather frightening.
There are some areas in our world which are well-hidden from the common eye. Areas that house facilities whose existence would best remain hidden, lest the population would get upset or even enraged at the studies that take place inside. One such area is the Laboratory for the Improvement of the Human Species, or LIHS, an underground base two kilometers below the ground of Pripyat, an abandoned city near Chernobyl. Following the tragic incident of the Chernobyl disaster, the government declared that the area must be evacuated and has remained empty ever since. It therefore occurred to certain gentlemen of questionable sanity that it was the perfect place to hide a secret in. No one was going stick their nose and disrupt their work in a biologically hazardous area with no residents, especially two kilometers below it.
The nature of the area also offered another great asset to these mad gentlemen, apart from the privacy; it offered radioactive particles, which would be of essential use to their scientific research. Their plan was to learn how to manipulate the radioactive particles into a form that would be administered to humans in order to enhance human capabilities to unnatural levels, without putting the human body at danger, in order to create an army of superhuman creatures. Needless to say, the first experiments led to horrific results that scared even the mentally sick scientists themselves. Years of research and observation, however, led to more stable results gradually, until their initial aim seemed to be close at hand.
They held a large number of patients captive in their laboratory, kept inside high level security rooms to ensure they would not escape. For each patient, they focused on enhancing different human features. Codename ‘OPA DENDI’, commonly referred to as Dendi was one of their vessels for experimentation at the latter stages of their research, when physical safety was achieved. On this certain patient they made experiments to increase vision, reaction speed, hand-to-eye coordination and with all of the above combined, accuracy. His tests and practice consisted of various tasks: being fully aware of his surroundings and noticing any slight movement anywhere around him; avoiding incoming projectiles from 360 degrees at relative ease; grabbing the avoided incoming projectiles and throwing them back at their targets (cough cough, Spellsteal, cough cough), and much more.
His main practice, however, consisted of an odd exercise. He was given a hook with a very long chain, with which he had to aim at moving targets inside the room and pull them to him. For this task, they used a previous experimental vessel as his instructor, with the codename ‘POODJE’. This poor creature was part of their earlier stages of experiments, and had thus been deformed to the point that he barely resembled a human anymore, but he still retained and showed inhumane aiming skills with a hook. His body was freakish. Huge wounds and lumps covered his entire body, and metal scraps had been strapped upon him to prevent blood loss. He had a third arm growing from his shoulder. His face was the stuff of nightmares. On top of it all, the creature had a very characteristic stench, the stench of rot and decay. However, Dendi and Poodje went along great with each other, and Dendi never seemed to mind his awful appearance and smell.
But then again, Dendi was very gentle of heart and went along great with everyone, always smiling, always in mood for joking around, despite being shut inside a laboratory. Even the scientists had grown to liking him, his grin, his shouting ‘OPAAAAA!’ every time he successfully hit a target, which was always. However, the fact that he had a good mood and that the scientists were daily growing fond of him did little to change the fact that he wanted to escape, to go back to the outside world. How did he even end up in there in the first place? He did not remember anymore. It seemed like an eternity ago. He enjoyed it whenever he outdid himself in his practice and he found his tasks fun. He liked the company of his horrific fellow Poodje and their hook-throwing sessions, as well as the minimal chat they had once in a while (Poor Poodje was barely able to speak). However, he still hated this place all the same and wanted to get out. The only thing he would miss was his mutant friend.
One day, after their hooking session was done, the scientists told Dendi that he would be left alone in the room to rest and entertain himself however he wanted before he was taken back to his room. Could be because of the liking they had shown towards him that they allowed him some freedom. Dendi looked at them while they were chaining up Poodje again to drag him to his room, hesitated for a few seconds, then in a moment of courage he made a request.
“Could I have Poodje here with me at least? It would be more entertaining with him. I will be bored without him’”.
Poodje lifted his head and looked at him like a dog looks at his master, a hideous half-smile on his face.
The scientists looked at one another, lifted their shoulders and unchained him.
“Sure, although we cannot understand why anyone would want this rotten corpse with him”.
You made him like this, you monsters, he thought, but of course he didn’t say it. Instead, he smiled and said “I like him”.
And so, Poodje and Dendi were left alone in the room. Poodje seemed very happy and almost went to hug him, but he held back, possibly because he was afraid Dendi would not like that, what with all the disgusting wounds and boils and lumps on him and the unnatural third arm on his shoulder. Instead, he grabbed his hook, gave Dendi his, and they started aiming at objects all around them, then aiming at one another and dodging, laughing all the while. This was the first time he had ever heard Poodje laugh. It sounded more like a phlegm filled growl than a laugh, but it still pleased Dendi to hear him laugh.
It was a short-lived joy, though. A while later, Dendi had an idea. When Poodje was not looking, he grabbed a metal object from the ground. “Hey Poodje, think fast!”, he said, and Poodje turned to face him. Dendi threw the object in the air towards the door. Poodje instantly looked at it and threw his hook, yet for the lack of attention he unfortunately missed it by an inch. The miss itself was not the unfortunate part; the door opening that very moment to reveal a scientist was the unfortunate event. The scientist did not have time to react, and the hook buried deep inside his throat. The scientist shook like a fish and fell on his knees while making a horrible choking sound. Dendi stared wide-eyed in disbelief. Poodje remained emotionless, he noticed when he looked at him. Then his lips twisted into a macabre smile. He pulled the hook back, the scientist still hanging from the end and being dragged along the floor, leaving a trail of blood behind him. When the scientist reached Poodje’s feet, he was already dead. Poodje was staring at it with sardonic pleasure. Dendi was unsure how to react, but he knew this meant trouble. He knew this was fight or flight. As if to ensure his sense of urgency, a siren started wailing and he heard footsteps coming towards the room. He then realized he had no other choice but to defend himself. He reached for his hook and looked at Poodje. Poodje nodded at him, and said one word: “Kill”. He smiled the same twisted, macabre smile when he spoke that word. Dendi gulped and nodded. He felt somehow assured by Poodje’s determination. He knew he had to swallow his fear, and so he did. After all, he did want revenge and a way out of here. This was as good a time as any, or so it seemed.
Soon enough, the scientists started appearing at the door, guns in their hands. Before the scientists had time to react, the first hook flew from Poodje’s arm and landed in the first scientist’s chest, then another hook from Dendi found the second scientist on the forehead. As their hooks landed, he heard Poodje laugh like a madman and roar a vicious battlecry: “GWARRAHAHA!! FRESH MEAT!!”. Within a few seconds, the scene turned into a massacre; hooks flying towards one side, bullets towards the other. To the scientist’s – quite literally – grave displeasure, though, their adversaries never missed a hook, while the few bullets they managed to shoot before getting slaughtered were avoided with ease. In the short moments before their death, the scientists grasped the meaning of irony; they had brought their end upon them with their experiments. They had bred their own death, a hook-wielding death with two faces.
When the killing was done, the floor was covered with bodies in white robes, now stained red. Dendi and Poodje stood bloodied in the middle of the room, looking at their masterwork. The siren kept on wailing. Dendi knew more scientists would surely come, this time even more armed than the previous ones, and thought that this was the perfect time to run. Poodje turned to him. “Go. Run”, he said, as if he was inside his head.
“What about you?”, said Dendi. The resolved look on his face said it all. Poodje had nothing to lose. He had already lost everything inside the LIHS. He could not escape, not in the condition his body was in. Even if he did, he would not be able to survive. He was hoping for death. Taking some of the scientists to the grave with him was the only reward he could ask for. He did say two words though: “Run friend”. Dendi smiled. “Goodbye, my friend. I will never forget you.”
And so Dendi turned and ran out the room. For a moment he hesitated and stopped to turn and look back at Poodje. Poodje was still standing in the room, hook in his hands. “RUN!”, he roared. Dendi accepted Poodje’s gift to him, waved a final farewell, and ran.
He had been gathering clues about the laboratory’s structure whenever he walked these corridors accompanied by scientists, so he had assumed where the exit was. He was heading there. He was only hoping his assumptions were right.
And right they were. After taking a turn, at the end of a long corridor he saw a capsule that could only work as an elevator. He ran faster than he ever had. He could hear gunshots and roars in the background as he ran. He thought he heard Poodje screaming “FRESH MEAT!!” again. He never stopped to think twice. He jumped inside the capsule, spent a few seconds to analyze the buttons on the wall, then pressed the one that he thought would take him to the surface. As the doors were being closed shut, he saw scientists appearing on the other side of the corridor. He laughed a mocking laugh and yelled “OPAAAA!!”. The doors closed and the capsule started ascending.
Five minutes later, the doors opened to reveal a long tunnel. He ran across and saw a ladder at the end of the tunnel, leading up at a square on the roof. He hopped on and climbed up. When he reached the top of the ladder, he saw that the square was a trapdoor. Summoning all his strength, he bashed it repeatedly until it flew open. Sunlight blinded him. He never welcomed blinding half as much. He was finally free.
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