From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
What follows is the origin of my main hero, Charon. This story isn't as polished or well written as Halfway Crooks. This story is in dire need of some editing due to it being written a few years ago in May 2005, but I'm happy with this version for now, until I get around to re-writing it for the third time. There are some references to violence in here and while not graphic, it does leave some things to the imagination that may breach a PG-13 rating, so read with care. If you have any comments please feel free to leave them on the talk page I'd love to hear what you think.
Thanks for reading, and don't worry... I'll re-write it one day. - Mr. Mud
The Gish, King's Row, Paragon City. 1989.
He couldn't concentrate. The light bulb swung from the ceiling, flickering and dimming every now and then. Robert Black sat in his run down apartment, hunched over the desk, staring at the book, blankly. He kept reading little bits of information from the book in front of him, but nothing seemed to be going into his mind. But that didn't matter to him really. He knew it all already. He'd studied this book thousands of times before. Charon: the ferryman over the Styx. He knew everything there was to know about him, and every other figure in Greek Mythology. He'd been studying it since he was a child, an orphan with nothing to take him away from his dark world except books where heroes were heroes. His only escape from a world with no parents, no family, and no friends; but he had his dreams, and eventually he got into university, once he'd gotten hold of his inheritance, a paltry sum, but enough to get him into university to study what he loved. But when he was in this apartment, he couldn't study anything. He hated this apartment. It was dank, and dark, and damp. The electricity flickered and whirred when it was even working at all. The water hardly worked when he wanted it, and he had damp patches all over his apartment exactly where he didn't. The walls were paper thin. He could hear Old Mr. Vidani screaming at his wife next door. The occasional scream or a bottle smashing against the wall in drunken anger could be clearly heard late at night, when he was trying to sleep. He could hear Mrs. Patterson and her damn kids running around above him, the rabble from the drug den below him. He was encased between all manor of sinners, and soon enough, he planned to get out. Soon enough.
He was late. She'd be expecting him by now. Well, to be exact, she'd have been expecting him for over ten minutes now, but he could always use the same old excuse, he got stuck into his studies. Of course, the truth was that he'd spent so long thinking about the fact he couldn't concentrate, that he'd made himself late. But she'd understand. She always understood. He'd met her at the beginning of that year when he finally got himself out of the orphanage and into some kind of education that he cared about. He got by in school with minimal grades to pass. He didn't really care about school, and he'd been described by teachers as a slave to apathy, but this was because there was only one subject he had cared about: history and with it, mythology. They were his escape, and he was only too happy when he could get to university and study them alone. And with university, came Maria DeMarco, the only person he'd really, honestly cared about. She was stunning to him, she was his life; she was everything. When he was sitting around, putting off studying, trying to concentrate, listening to Vidani screaming obscenities at his frightened wife, or the cries of a drug deal gone wrong below him, his mind would often wonder to why she was even with him. He was hardly the best looking man on the planet, far from it, with his brown, scruffy, uncared for hair, stubble all over his chin, and a face that had been often likened to a rottweiler. But, she loved him, and it worked both ways, and for that he was eternally thankful.
He looked at his watch as he began to jog around the corner. He'd promised to walk her home from her father's store at nine; it was almost half past now. She wasn't going to be happy, she'd stayed behind in the store to do the books for her father, but she didn't want to walk across the Gish to get home on her own. She'd have done it before the threats started arriving, but now even if she wanted to walk home on her own, Robert wouldn't let her, it was far too dangerous. The Family wanted protection money from her father: Extortion. Salvatore had been the only shop owner in the entire Gish to refuse to pay their money... and if they weren't going to pay in cash, they were going to pay some other way, as far as the Family were concerned. But Salvatore had been dealing with two bit gangsters since his family moved to America, and he'd be damned if he was going to bow down to their demands.
He rounded the corner and into the street that housed Salvatore's Antiques shop just as Maria was closing it up, tightly bolting the bolts and locking the locks, and pulling the metal gate into its position directly in front of the shop door. Evidently, she'd given up waiting. He started thinking of what to say to her to get out of being screamed at for being so late. Unfortunately, everything he could think of to say ended up with him either getting slapped, or with an argument directly outside of her father's shop, so, he simply zipped up his jacket to guard against the freezing December wind, and walked up to her. She noticed the fact he'd arrived, but didn't acknowledge him.
"You're late." She snapped, as she slammed the metal gate shut and fumbled with the pad lock, as a slight drizzle began to fall over King's Row.
"Um… well, I.... Uh..." He started, but he couldn't really think of a plausible excuse. The truth was hardly believable, that he'd been so busy not working that he'd fallen into a world of his own and lost track of time. But, he supposed that last comment would have to do. "I, uh… lost track of time."
"You always do." She said, as she turned to face him. She looked down at the sidewalk, and shivered slightly. He took his jacket off and offered it to her, with a look on his face as if this action could get him out of trouble, off the proverbial hook. She knew this, but she snatched the jacket from him anyway, and a slight smile came over her face. All seemed to be forgiven with a smile, at least from Maria. "At least you're here."
He took her hand and they began to walk down the lonely streets of The Gish. This may as well have been suicide. Residents of The Gish all knew you didn't leave your house at night, not if you valued your life. Yes, there were heroes in this city. Paragon City, the Birthplace of Tomorrow, had quite a number of them. There were hundreds at last count. But King's Row was a neglected zone, a lonely, solitary area filled with all manor of crime. Prostitution, drugs, extortion, muggings, rape, even murder happened regularly on these streets. Heroes were in the city, of course, but the little guy wasn't their problem. Heroes like Icon, like Captain Paragon, like Vice and Virtue, they were busy saving the world from the Nation of Domination, General Mayhem, Dr. Chaos, and the list went on. Global threats, who threatened to destroy the entire planet if they succeeded in their endeavours. And that was all well and good, the world needed saving from these abominations, these global tyrants. But who was going to look out for the average citizen? Who was going to look out for the down and outers, the last chancers, the no hopers? There were the few vigilantes and heroes who did, but there weren't enough. Yankee Daring was one of the few heroes who looked out for the no hopers, the down and outers. And why: Because he was one himself. But Yankee Daring could not be watching the back of every average Joe. It was common knowledge that The Gish, along with Hyde Park was The Rottweiler's Yard. But The Rottweiler, while he had the respect of every single resident of King's Row, couldn't be everywhere at once. He wanted to help the people, the little guy. But, he couldn't help everyone, as much as he wanted to do so. And there were others like him, but not enough. Not enough. Even Blue Steel, the police department’s own super hero, who was supposedly made to look after the average Joe on the street, often got distracted from doing so by bigger threats, things deemed more important than your average man getting mugged, beaten or worse, killed. King’s Row was a land of crooks, criminals and sinners; it was a gangster’s paradise.
Then, it was no surprise that in the darkness, the two teenagers, who walked hand in hand, were being followed in the shadows. They didn't notice of course. They were too engrossed in each other, talking and laughing as they walked down the dark, empty, wet streets of The Gish, as the rain fell harder on their heads. They didn't even notice the rain as they walked along, oblivious to the rest of the world, oblivious to the fact they were walking along the streets of one of the most dangerous areas in Paragon City, oblivious to the fact they were being watched, and oblivious to the fact that in just a few short minutes, it was all going to come to an end.
The rain had begun to crash down, too much for Robert and Maria to ignore it. He pulled the jacket up over her head, grabbed her hand, and they began to jog along the streets. They were only a few blocks from her father's apartment now. With any luck Salvatore would let him stay there for the night; he didn't particularly want to walk all the way back to the Aqueduct where his apartment stood in a high rise block next to the water plant. They could get to her father’s place even quicker, and perhaps stay a little drier, if they cut through an alleyway into Hyde Park where her father's apartment was. Robert kept her hand in his and guided her into the alley, as the water crashed down on their heads. He jogged into the dank, dark, damp alley, which seemed to stretch forever in its loneliness, and saw the light at the end of the tunnel, a street light next to the sign post which read "Hyde Park."
However, Robert never reached Hyde Park. As he neared the light at the end of the tunnel, it was quickly obstructed by two towering shadows. All he could make out were shapes in the darkness, and the shapes of the clubs they held in their hands. He stopped, and pulled Maria to his side. Robert Black had never been a man to run from his problems. Growing up, he'd kept himself to himself, and if anyone had a problem with him or what he did, he would stand up and fight them. He would never give in, never back down. If he was right, he stood for what he believed, and if he was in trouble, he would stand and fight, never flee. But Maria was with him. He had to protect her at any cost, and that meant dropping his pride.
"Run..." He whispered into her ear, before tightening his grip on her hand, turning, and bolting down to the end of the endless tunnel from whence they came, but it was too late. More of the shadows stood in the darkness waiting for them at the other end of the alley. Three more of the large heavies could be seen in the darkness, this time Robert could make out guns in their hands, of all descriptions. Standing in front of them was a smaller man; all Robert could see of him in the darkness was his glowing red eyes, boring holes into Robert. Now, fear struck him for real. There was no where to turn, no where to run, and no where to hide. He looked up. A fire escape to the apartment building on the left side of them was above them, but it was too far up to be any kind of plausible plan for escape. He couldn't run, the alley was blocked. He couldn't stand and fight them, there were too many, and they were heavily armed, he'd go down in seconds, and then what would happen to Maria? It was a risk he couldn't take.
"Bobby..." Maria said, grasping at his arm.
"There's too many..." Robert whispered back to her, as if thinking aloud rather than actually giving her a reply. His mind was trying to calculate some way to escape, some way to fight back, but there was none.
"Yes." A voice came from the darkness, a raspy, almost hoarse whisper of a voice. "I told him it was overkill to send six people to ... deal with... an old man and his daughter. But, it appears we have a strapping young man to deal with instead. It's still overkill... But I do enjoy a spot of overkill, don't you?" The red eyes stepped closer to Robert, and he could make out a stocky, short man, a black stealth suit was all he wore, and the red were not of his eyes, but of some kind of goggles. Strapped to his back were weapons of some kind, hand to hand as far as Robert could make out. He stepped closer and leaned in towards Maria, his cold fingers, which protruded from black fingerless gloves, began to stroke her face. "Your father should have paid us, my dear."
Robert snapped, and before he knew it he flung a fist at the red eyed leader of his assailants. The punch connected with his jaw at a high speed, and a crack was heard underneath the black mask he wore firmly over his face, as not to be recognised by those he ‘Dealt with.’ Before he knew it, Robert was grabbed from behind by the two shadows he had seen before, holding their clubs. He was held back by one, while the other pummelled fist after fist into his stomach, breaking ribs one by one as he did so. Robert cried out in pain as he heard the snaps, and felt the breaks. The red eyed leader grabbed Maria and pulled her too him, as he recovered from the recoil of the jab to his face. She cried out to Robert, but he could not reply, he was coughing up blood into the puddles of the alley floor below as the heavies constantly beat him for his retaliation.
"That was not a wise move." Their red eyed assailant said, his speech slurred by a probably broken jaw. He held Maria close to him, contemplating something in the darkness, his red eyes bore into her face, and she watched as he ran them over her entire body, and his hand began to run up and down her back. She fought him, beating at him with her hands, but he grabbed her wrists tightly in his fists, and she heard a laugh echo out from under his mask.
"A feisty one; I may keep you for myself, little girl." He whispered his raspy, hoarse whisper into her ear, into her very brain. She kicked at him, hitting him in the shins. He gave out a cry, and she spat into his face as he pulled his head back. In one swift movement, faster than she could see it coming, he raised his arm and brought the back of his hand crashing over her face, knocking her back across the alley. He raised his hand and wiped the spittle away from his goggles, a disgusted look coming over his face underneath his mask. The red eyed tyrant stepped forward, grabbed Maria by the wrist and flung her to the three heavies he had stationed behind him. "I've changed my mind. Have your wicked way with her."
The heavies dealing with Robert simply beat him to his knees and sat him down to watch the horrifying scenes that unfolded in front of him. He closed his eyes and tried to block it out, but he could hear Maria's screams to help her echoing through his mind. But he couldn't help her, there was nothing he could do, there was absolutely nothing he could do to help the only thing he cared about. All he could do was sit and watch, as the rain mixed with the blood and washed over his every sense. Anger burned inside him.
It was all over. The shadows with the guns came back to their red eyed leader's side, and stood behind him. They jeered at Robert, taunting him, as he stared blankly at the floor as the two shadows with the clubs held him down so he could not retaliate again. Robert could do nothing. He couldn't move under the grip of the gangsters who held him on his knees. The red eyed assassin reached to his back and pulled one of the weapons he kept there into his hands; a six foot long wooden quarter staff. He raised it with the full intention of delivering a knockout blow to Robert's temple and leaving him and Maria beaten and violated in the darkness and loneliness of the alley.
Robert wasn't going down that easily; he refused to go down that easily. As the gangster's released their grip on him as the red eyed leader prepared to deliver his blow with the staff, Robert dived forward and tackled the him to the ground. He pummelled his fists into their leader's face, breaking the glass on his red goggles, beating the shards into his face with his clenched fists. Robert's knuckles were filled with glass, and blood flowed over his entire hand but he didn't care, he continued to push fist after fist into this madman's face.
His outburst of rage didn't last long, however. Within seconds he was dragged off by the gangsters and slammed to the cold, wet concrete, and was savagely beaten as the assassin raised himself to his feet, his mask now soaked with blood from his own face and Robert's knuckles. The assassin didn't say a word. He simply let his heavies beat Robert into submission, and grabbed Maria by her hair, and pulled her to her feet. The heavies raised Robert into a sitting position as blood poured from his mouth where he had been booted during his restraint, so he could see the now unconscious Maria, but kept him restrained from anymore outbursts of anger. The assassin reached to his back for the other weapon he had not yet used. He unsheathed the katana with one hand, and held Maria on her feet with the other. He looked directly into Robert's eyes with his own, now revealed with the goggles smashed.
"Say goodnight." He rasped, and then laughed, as he lifted the katana. Robert let out a primal scream that wasn't a word as much as an expression of pure anger. He fought to break free, trying to force himself over to the masked man, to grab him, to kill him, anything to stop the inevitable. But he was too late, by the time he had wrestled himself free, the sword had already burst into Maria, and she fell to the floor, her throat gurgling, and the blood mixing with the dirty water in the puddles on the floor. Robert screamed and threw himself at the masked man with all his might, but this time he was prepared, his staff already kicked back into his hands. He raised it, and smashed it into Robert's temple in one movement. Robert crashed to the floor, falling into the world of swirling puddles as the rain fell from the King's Row night sky, and down onto his face.
Somewhere above him, he saw Statesman fly past. He called out to him, he begged Statesman to help him, to come and save him and to bring Maria back to life. But Statesman could not hear him. Statesman did not help him. He closed his eyes, visualising Maria's face for the very last time, before his world spun, blurred, and then faded to black.
When Robert awoke, it took him a few seconds to remember anything that had happened, but when he did, it was like being hit with a ton of emotional bricks. Sadness, grief, anger, they all washed over him, but he quickly realised he wasn’t anywhere he recognised, and no one was around. Beneath him was earth and dirt, and as he looked above him, all he saw was more of the same earth, dirt and fire. Running along side him was a river bank, and beyond it a river which must have been a quarter of a mile across. On the other side of the river he could make out a great wall of earth, dirt, stone, rock and fire. In the middle of the wall was a giant, black gate. Behind it was some kind of creature, slobbering, snapping and snarling; growling at the unwanted visitor beyond the river, waiting to get its taste of him. Looking around him, Robert could only come to one conclusion. There was only one explanation to his surroundings that he could make out. The only explanation was that he’d died. He’d died, and now…
“This is hell.” He muttered to himself.
“No. The Underworld lies across the River Styx.” A cold, deep, monotone voice boomed from behind him. Robert snapped around to face the voice, and saw the image of a man, standing in a boat, floating on the banks of what he assumed was the Styx. The man was covered from head to toe in a long black robe. A hood covered his face and hung down over his chest, giving his voice a kind of muffled sound as it battled through the fabric when he spoke. The figure leaned on his rowing staff which kept the boat at the river bank. Robert stepped forward, instinctively he was pushed to board the boat, the boat of the man he recognised to be Charon, the boatman over the River Styx, and into the Underworld. “No, stop. I cannot and will not take you over this River.”
Robert had to be sure. “Who are you?” He rasped, as he looked around at the surreal world he was in.
“You already know the answer to this question, but I will humour you. I am Charon, protector of the Underworld. If the dead wish to cross to the Underworld, they must pay me, and I will take them across the water. But your time is not done on the world above. There is work to be done.” Charon stood strong and silent for a few minutes, waiting for a reply from Robert, who simply stood stunned on the River bank, until he finally uttered,
“Why…?” Robert didn’t finish. He didn’t even know how the sentence finished.
“The answer is simple enough. I am to send you back to the world above, with a new mission. You have a mental picture of a woman, I should assume. She was your love. The memory of her death will return in time. She is dead. Both the picture of her face, and the emotions you now feel, will dim in time. But they will never disappear, and they must never, ever be forgotten. Never. You will go about your mission until it is over. A great injustice has been done onto you, Robert Ian Black. You will go back and right the wrongs. You will send them to me, to be judged in the world below. In my name, punish them. But don’t just stop with them, Black. Bring them all to me. All that must be judged. All that must ultimately be punished.”
He was right, and Robert knew he was right. He turned to walk away, to leave the Underworld.
“And Robert,” He turned to face Charon, and the rowing staff that was being flung in his direction. “You may need this.”
He woke and looked up to the ceiling to see the bright lights of a hospital glaring down into his eyes. People stood all around him, chattering, reading charts, and talking medical jargon about his condition, about his chances of survival, about his chances of waking from his current unconsciousness. The world was pure white for a second, and then it faded into colour. He could see the medical equipment all around him, and chattering people. The memories fled back. Of the delusion he had just experienced. What he had just experienced could not be reality. A doctor stepped forward and tried to force Robert back down into a lying position on his bed, but Robert refused to go. He grabbed the doctor’s hand and flung it away.
“Where am I?! Who are you?!” He screamed at the doctor.
“You’re in hospital, Mr. Black. You’ve suffered head trauma. You also have three broken ribs, internal bleeding and a large cut to the back of your leg. I suggest you lie back down before you do yourself any more lasting damage. I’m trying to help you.” The doctor said, and once again tried to push Robert’s shoulder down into a lying position. It didn’t work any better the second time than it did the first.
He ignored the majority of what the doctor had said, and tried to picture Maria in his mind. He knew she was gone, he knew it, but he just wanted to see her face, but he could no longer picture it.
“The police will be arriving soon. Sir if you care for your own health, you’ll lie back down.” The doctor said, and made one final push to make Robert lie down, but as he did so, that’s when he saw it. Robert locked eyes with the staff that was propped up against the wall in the corner of the room. Blood was all over one end of it, and as he stared at it, he heard the voice echo through his mind.
“In my name, punish them. All must be judged. And Robert, you may need this."
He launched himself from the hospital bed and grabbed the staff from the corner of the room. He pushed the door of his room open and stormed out into the bright white corridors, the staff firmly grasped in his hands.
“Sir, lay back down. Sir! Mr. Black! Call security…” The doctor screamed after Robert, as the door to his room slammed in the doctor’s face, and the nurses in the room simply stood around looking completely stunned. Robert pushed past people in the corridors, not feeling the burning pain in his ribs and the stinging from his head through the pumping adrenaline and anger that filled his every sense, his mind and his heart. Security did arrive, but by the time they’d gotten to the corridors of the lower levels of the hospital, Robert had already vacated the building, and managed to be completely unseen by the police unit that pulled up right outside the hospital as he left, sneaking into the shadows as the sirens whirred and the lights flashed.
Seconds later another emergency service car screamed by, sirens screaming into the cold December night; this one didn’t stop outside the hospital, and Robert knew he had to follow it. Luckily, it screeched to a halt further down the road. The car doors flung open, and two beat cops stepped out, slamming the doors shut after them. They rushed into the small alleyway to the side of them, one of them pulling his police issue firearm as he did so, leaving Robert skulking in the shadows, watching them. Robert knew if he attempted to go into the alley they’d just cart him off to the police head quarters not far away, where he’d likely just be asked hundreds of questions he didn’t know the answer too, and then be told by Blue Steel that they’d ‘Find the men responsible.’ But they never would. They never did. He would have to find the men responsible. Find them and kill them. He quickly pulled down the ladder to a fire escape, and made his way to the roof, walked across to the other side, and crouched, listening to the men below.
“Aw, Christ. Dave, call homicide and get them down here…” one of the police officers said, covering his mouth with his sleeve, trying to stop himself from vomiting, on seeing the decapitated head lying next to a dumpster, half submerged in the murky puddle that lay next to it.
Robert simply sat tight until the homicide detectives arrived. He needed information. He needed to be told where he could find the people responsible for her death. He needed justice. More than Justice, he needed Vengeance. He was too numb to feel the grief yet, the pain, the sadness. Too numb. All he wanted now was blood. They didn’t take long to arrive. Their black car with the flashing blue light screeched to a halt outside the alley, and two detectives in suits got out of the car, looking important, looking as if they could actually do something to help. But it was too late now, nothing they could do could help Robert, all he needed from them was a name, or a location; anything to lead him to the perpetrators. The beat cops were busy putting crime scene tape up all around the area, as the first homicide detective stepped up to the decapitated head, and leaned down.
“I know this girl. She came into the station with her father. Someone told me she’d come in to complain about the Family demanding protection money.” He said. “So are we assuming this is a hit?” He said, coldly, as if this was the sort of thing he saw in his job every single day, and the sad part about it was, this was the sort of thing he saw everyday.
“Who’s in charge of the Family branch around here?” The second detective asked, flicking a note book out from an interior pocket in his trench coat.
“Knuckles, Frank LaRusso. But we can’t pin him with anything, we’ve been trying for years, and there’s no way we’ll be able to link him to this, no way. Frost has him covered.” The first one said, examining what was left of the body of Maria DeMarco, slumped against a wall. The second one crouched down beside him.
“Well… Narcotics have been trying to bust one of his underdogs on dealing charges for a while, that might be a good place to start, at least. His bar’s down on 7th, I think. It’s called the ‘Cloud 9.’ We should get down there after forensics arrive.” The second detective said, writing notes. The first detective flicked his cell phone open to call forensics, and as he did so he heard a scuffling above him on the rooftop. Both detectives turned to the direction of the noise, but by the time they looked up, there was nothing there, except the harsh, cold wind, and the blackened sky beyond.
He ran across the rooftops, pushing himself to the best of his ability, leaping from apartment block to apartment block, making sure he took the quickest routes. He knew King’s Row like the back of his hand, something he hadn't forgotten with the blow to his head, and he knew that 7th street wasn't far away, at the top of Hyde Park. When he finally reached the dank roof of the ‘Cloud 9’ bar, he skulked across to the opposite side of the roof, and dropped into the alleyway below. He found the back door swinging slightly open, and sneaked in.
It had been a slow night in the Cloud 9, a bar which hardly lived up to its name. It was dark, it smelt, it was occupied by the scum of the earth, and the only time you’d feel like you were on cloud nine would be after snorting cocaine which was lined with all manor of other substances. Hardly anyone had been in that night except some of the regular boys, and most of the barrels needed changing on the beer. Tony wasn't a happy man. There were four guys in the dank bar room, standing around the pool table, drinking and laughing and talking about something that had happened earlier that night. Unfortunately for Tony, they weren't the type who would want his pricey cocaine. The only reason they drank there was because the boss told them all to. He said it was "reinvesting in the business."
Tony poured himself a whiskey and moved to sit down at just one of the empty tables. He yelled over to the boys,
"Finish up. I'm closing the bar.” Before moving into the toilets and meeting with his dealers, who, if anything went wrong Tony would claim weren't connected with him. He paid them their due, and told them to go home. They all left via the front door, as the guys around the pool table finished their drinks, but still didn't leave the bar. Tony then moved into his office and began to count the night’s profit, even though there wasn't much to count, and left the boys to finish up and then, with any luck, leave.
The back door crashed open, and all the boys standing around the pool table turned to look in the direction of the noise. Standing in the door way, was what looked like anger personified. His head was covered in blood, the bandage which lined it soaked with the substance. His clothes were ripped and soaked in a mixture of brown, murky rain water and thick, red blood. His knuckles were cut to pieces, his face hardly recognisable, and from his hand hung a long, wooden staff, tipped with yet more blood. His hair was matted and scruffy, his eyes full of rage. They watched as this man wandered over to the bar, and slammed his staff down on top of it, breaking glasses as he did so. He pulled the nearest glass from off of a shelf, and filled it to the brim with brown, murky whisky he found somewhere behind the bar. He downed it in one, and then turned to stare at the four men who stared at him, and began calculating his chances. He had three broken ribs, a pounding head and various cuts and bruises, there was absolutely no way be could fight these men now than he could of in the alley. He knew it was them, he recognised two of them and the other two… He knew it was them. The assassin who had been with them was not present, and neither was one of the heavies. But that didn’t matter. He’d find them.
One of the heavies stepped up to the bar, pulled a pistol from inside his suit jacket, and aimed it directly at Robert’s head.
“Who the fuck are you?” He asked, cocking his gun with his free hand. Charon grabbed his staff in both hands, and looked down at the bar. He lifted his head slowly and looked into the gangster’s eyes.
“Charon” Robert uttered, before ramming one end of the staff into the gangster’s groin, sending the pistol flying into the air. In one swift movement, Robert reached beneath the bar, and pulled out the shotgun that was stationed there, and pumped a cartridge into the chamber. The gangster who had spoken to him first was not a problem; he was already on the floor holding his shattered dreams in his hands. The three still standing were now the problem. He managed to fire off a round from the shotgun into the chest of one of the gangsters before they had pulled their guns from their jackets, but that still left two standing, and now they were armed. Robert threw himself down behind the bar as the bullets began to rip over head and hit the bottles that lined the wall.
He listened as they offloaded their clips into the bottles above him. They weren’t particularly intelligent, and didn’t seem to realise they couldn’t hurt him by aimlessly firing into the wall above him. He pumped another round into the shotgun and waited. Soon enough the moment came: one of them was out of ammunition. He quickly raised his upper body into view, and fired another round from the shotgun into one of the remaining gangsters’ head. One left standing. He dived back down below the bar as a barrage of bullets flew his way. He couldn’t risk raising his head over the bar again; this particular gangster wasn’t quite as stupid as the others. He grabbed a bottle of vodka from below the bar, and removed the top. There was a rag for cleaning the bar lying around on the floor somewhere, he had seen it. He scrambled around, until he finally found it, and soaked it with vodka as the bullets ripped over head. He sat with his back to the bar, and fumbled with his hand on the bar aimlessly, trying to find something he had seen on it when he came in. He couldn’t risk raising his head to look for it. His hand found it: A cigarette lighter. He lit the rag stuffed in the top of the bottle, and threw his home made Molotov cocktail over his shoulder, connecting with the one remaining gangster, sending him flying, arms flailing as he burnt alive, through the front window of the club.
Tony sat in the back room, a colt python held firmly in his hands, waiting for whomever it was that had come to his club, armed and dangerous. Unfortunately for Tony, that person never came, and Tony had no means of escape, which he was soon going to need; Outside in the bar, Robert was tipping bottle after bottle of alcohol over the bar, dousing the one remaining living gangster with it, the walls, the tables, everything that would burn. He took the lighter with him as he headed for the club door, and threw it over his shoulder as he left, watching from the outside as the club burst into flames, and listening to Tony’s screams, with the staff held firmly in his hand.
He pulled the key out of the door as he let himself back into his lonely apartment. He could immediately hear Mr. Vidani screaming at his wife, calling her useless, describing to her how he was going to beat her senseless. The kids ran around on the floor above him, and he heard the murmurings of addicts below him. A world full of sinners.
He sat down at the desk in the middle of his apartment, where the book he had been studying earlier still sat. He cleared it off the table, and pulled a bottle of whiskey from the cupboard, and poured himself a glass. He sat down at his desk, and pulled out his wallet. He pulled out credit cards, bank cards, identification cards, and simply threw them all over the floor like the pieces of meaningless life they were. As far as he was concerned, Robert Ian Black died the night Maria DeMarco did, he no longer needed any proof of identity, nothing that reminded him of the life he once had, but now, in just hours, had disappeared. Somewhere deep inside the wallet was a picture of Maria. He put it down on the desk, and turned on his studying lamp, letting the light bounce off of her face and into his eyes, so he could see her, so he’d never forget her. He stared at the photo blankly, he didn’t know for how long, he just kept drinking, and staring, and drinking, and staring.
All that was needed now was training, training to bring them all down. Yes, wrath is a sin, but a sin Charon was willing to commit. He stared at the photograph, and allowed himself to show the last piece of emotion he’d show for thirty five years. He broke down, and he cried. And he remembered the words from his dream, delusion, whatever it was, he remembered them.
"All must be judged, all must ultimately be punished."