Deathspider/Rejection Revenge Repercussion
From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Rejection, Revenge, Repercussion
Written in April and Mayb of 2006
This was a storyline run by Deathspider & Chimera II, a collaboration to A) Get Chimera's hand chopped off for storyline purposes for his Mu Mastery power pool, and B) y'know. Kill DS for a little while. And why not?
Ever get run through by a sword?
It burns, actually. The cold steel sliding through the ceramic and Kevlar plates of your costume, through the skin and the abdominal muscles, all the way through the soft entrails, and out the other side. It actually burns. I felt myself, well, my muscles, actually, all clench up at once in an attempt to ‘stop’ the blade, but hey, even superhuman enhanced musculature doesn’t do much to stop a katana blade.
Chimera had stabbed me from behind after dodging one of my attacks. Foolishly, I allowed him to get out of my direct line of sight and into my peripheral vision, thinking the pheromone cloud I was exuding would be enough to buy me a few nano-seconds to react and reposition myself for a proper defensive stance and reassessment of the tactical situation. Unfortunately, Chimera was too fast, throwing a cloud of sawdust, gunpowder, metal shavings, and sand in my mask – a ninja tool to distract and blind their opponents, and it worked. It was the last thing I was expecting, and it bought him enough time to get behind me.
I twisted instinctively, knowing he was going to the side, but not fast enough.
Now, when I say not fast enough, I want you to know what this means. I can dance with Nemesis, Tyrant, and most villains that are running around, without them laying a solid blow on me. I can dodge bullets. Let me amend that – I can dodge lasers. Well, technically, you can’t dodge energy weapons, just move out of the way they’re going to be, but really, that’s a skill all unto itself. People move in slow motion when I see them. Football on TV is like watching paint dry, even Reggie Bush, the USC uber-running back, is like a parapalegic flopping around on the ground.
So yeah, Chimera II could keep up with me, and occasionally, like when he ran me through, surpasses my speed.
So he stabbed me from behind, right, and with a sneer, he placed a foot on my shoulder blade and kicked me off, sending me sprawling on the ground. My hand went to my stomach, trying to stop the blood from spurting all over the ground. It wasn’t helping.
“Karnal sends her regards…” he said, his young voice filled with a malice that didn’t seem to belong to him, like someone much older, much more bitter and filled with hate, had taken possession of him. I was a Skull in my misspent youth, and I know hateful people, but this… this was a timeless hatred, cultivated over years of bitterness and betrayal and rancor.
I tasted blood in my mouth. Yes, I could feel my muscles trying to re-knit, the tissue consuming nutrients in order to regrow, but it would take time, precious seconds I didn’t have at the moment.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Chimera was here because Karnal Sin, the mastermind behind the Dark Dominion (I don’t count Overseer, because I always thought he was a blowhard. That, and what man isn’t controlled by a woman?) had put out a hit on all members of the Hazard Guard, and by extension, me as well. Why? Well, I used to be part of Karnal’s little band of psychopaths, and incidentally, her lover for a bit. When she had no further use of me, she ignored me, probably thinking I would just go along with it and be a mincing little underling begging for her attention.
Well, if the sex had continued, I would have been, but I digress.
So there was a bit of a falling out. Karnal had seduced me from Paragon City and the Hazard Guard, causing no end of ill-will amongst my peers in the hero set. And when I had enough of Karnal’s disregard for me, I left the Dominion, which, judging by Chimera running me through with his sword, I seem to have caused a bit of ill-will on the “Muah-hah-hah, villain” crowd as well. So she hired (I prefer the term ‘out-sourced’ because nobody in the Dominion could really touch me in combat, with the exception of Karnal when she was on her game) other villains to do the dirty work her minions couldn’t do.
Ok, backstory filled in. Good.
So, Chimera actually caught me in the Pocket D one day, and asked me about information on the H-G. I’m thinking he thought I was still on his side of the fence. I refused, and subsequently went and told my old friends about how Chimera was gunning for them.
Personally, I had fought Chimera in Siren’s Call before, before all the Dominion stuff went on, and honestly, I was a bit intimidated. Chimera is good. Scary good. Never scraps it out when he doesn’t have to, and has the patience to stick you when you least expect it.
So yesterday, I found him milling about in Pocket D, on the periphery of the cavalcade of hangers-on Karnal likes to keep around her (I didn’t know villains had posses, but hey, if sports players and rappers can have them, why not a silicone blonde?). I gave him the ole tap on the shoulder and asked, not very diplomatically, what she was paying him. He naturally refused to divulge the information, and outside the fight went.
We were bouncing around Perez Park, a little hit and run, he slices me across my armor, I slug him in the gut, that sort of thing. Until we crashed into an old wooden building where, before the Circle of Thorns (D&D players on a powertrip), the Lost (Homeless Gone Wild), the Hellions (Urban Slayer Fans, as I used to call them), and the Skulls (my old gang of miscreants) took over, the park’s groundskeeping crew kept their equipment.
We crashed through the wall, shattering the old, tired boards in a cloud of sawdust and dirt. Chimera rolled on the ground, colliding with one of those massive lawnmowers used to cut swathes of grass. His back connected with it, eliciting a muffled grunt. I slammed into the ground, instinctively kipping up and getting my bearings. Chimera was already in the air, his sword out, aiming for my throat. My hands went up, clapping them around the blade and wrenching it free. The steel blade skittered on the floor, disappearing under a rack of rakes and other equipment.
Momentarily off guard, and with my pheromones pumping out of my body, combined with the dust in the air, Chimera took a nano-second too long to react. Both hands came back in a knife-edge chop to his ribs, knocking the wind out of him. He still had the presence of mind to backflip away, but I could tell by the trajectory that he was a bit disoriented. I had to press the advantage. I leapt after him, hoping he wouldn’t pull a powder on me and drag this out back into the open. Giving him room to move was a mistake, and I wouldn’t let him get that opportunity if I could help it.
He backflipped, clinging to the wall for a moment before darting towards me. We were on course for a mid-air collision, and with his repertoire of tricks, I wasn’t sure he wasn’t going to spike me with a knife or a dagger or whatever ninja stuff he had up his sleeve. My hand shot out and grabbed one of the rafters, and my momentum carried me up just as he was going to make contact. Like one of the Olympic gymnasts with those weird little uneven parallel bars, I swung down on the other side of the rafter, my foot out, and it connected with his jaw. He went down onto the floor, and I followed suit.
To a spectator, it wouldn’t seem like he even made contact with the ground. He hit, spun his legs out like a breakdancer and was on his feet, and springing up to me, a shining metal dagger in his hand. He slashed across the ceramic plates of my costume, not penetrating. My hand, covered in Kevlar and armor plate, flashed out and gripped his wrist. Amazingly, his body shifted back, and his foot flashed up, connecting with my temple. My head rocked back, and we both disengaged, leaping away from each other, roughly about fifteen feet apart.
This took approximately 15 seconds. But when you don’t look at the world in real-time, perceptions become altered. For example, in the flash and flurry of action, I could make out every time he blinked, every time his pupil dilated, every ripple of cloth on his costume. I imagine he could see roughly the same speed as me. We stared out across the little no-man’s land of floor at each other, tensed, ready to spring.
“You know you’re being duped…” I began, wanting to keep his concentration broken. Talk him up, keep his mind thinking of two things at once.
He snickered. “Being duped of what? The money you’re worth? The fact that you’re an untrustworthy scumbag?”
“Heh. You don’t get it, do you? You and all your buddies in the Maruaders, everyone in the Isles, you’re feeding right into everything that’s wrong with this world… You’re doing all this dirty work for people whose only motivation is to throw you like cannon fodder at the heroes.”
“Who, Karnal? Please, don’t insult my intelligence. She hired me for a specific…”
I cut him off. “No… Karnal’s just another bit player. She does Arachnos’ bidding, just like everyone else. And Arachnos is being funded by all the people whose best interest lies in keeping the Heroes busy. Big business, governments, you name it. You’re just a hired thug to perform various acts of mayhem to keep Statesman and everyone else like him busy so the heroes don’t look at all the crap the powers that be do to keep themselves rich…”
“Save it. I don’t want to hear it.”
He rushed off to the left, a blur to a normal human, but I noticed his body canting in the direction of where his sword was, and I darted towards him, my armored fist out. It connected with his jaw, knocked him to the floor. He rolled to his feet, holding his chin, his one working eye flashing with hatred.
He came at me.
I leapt backwards, my boots slamming into the sawdust and dirt covered floor, kicking up dust to catch the motes of sunlight coming through the broken wall, and immedieately darted to the side. He kept pace with me, his eye working to find an opening that wouldn’t instantly provoke a lethal counter-strike.
I lashed out with a fist, trying to initiate a melee. He ducked, the fist sailing over his head and slamming into a sheet metal, locally fabricated tool rack. The metal gave under the pressure and buckled, raining a series of rakes, hoes, and tillers onto the ground, creating a thunderous din, the sound of metal striking concrete and wood clattering. Tools littered the floor.
Chimera went down, the momentum from his dodge carrying him to the floor, where his foot was caught in-between some of the tools, the motion of his struggles to free himself creating more of a mess. I came down, and lashed out, my fist smashing into his ribcage, snapping several of his lower ribs. He grunted and retaliated with a fist-strike/elbow combo, attempting to smash my larynx. The armor surrounding my throat prevented such a thing, but it did hold me off for a second, enough for him to free himself. He darted over the rack, trying to fish out his sword. The fabric on his gloves rasped against the concrete as he lay on his stomach, desperately trying to reach the katana.
I leapt onto his back, my knees driving into his spine. A strangled cry erupted from his throat as I began to pummel the back of his head with a series of strikes, hoping to cave the back of his head in. But he lunged forward, his hand wrapping around the handle of his sword. He wriggled out from under me, driving his fist into my stomach, and knocking me away. Panting, he pulled the blade out from underneath the rack and spun it in his hand, his one eye glaring at me.
“Now we finish this. This ridiculousness has gone on long enough.”
I was already on my feet. “Ah, I knew I shouldn’t of been kibitzing around with you. I know you got your… eye… on me.”
He grunted and lashed out, that blade hissing through the air where I had been moments ago. Step forward, slash, step to the side, blade up in a guard position, all the while moving me back, creating a cushion for him to react. I searched for an opening, acting and reacting, just trying to find an opening… and that’s when he tossed the ninja bomb into my face. The sawdust, pepper, metal shavings, and dust smashed into my mask, giving him the opening he needed… and he ran me through.
So we’re back to where I started.
“Karnal sends her regards…” he sneered, kicking me down onto the ground, his sword sticking through my chest. I lay on the ground, choking on my own blood, not really sure what was going on. Did he really do it? Is this thing really in me?
How can this be happening?
Chimera wrenched the sword out of my body, drawing a rusty scream from my throat.
“I hope you know this isn’t personal. This is business. For me, anyway.” He said, his voice low and gravelly. He stooped down, placing a small black plastic device near me, a red LED light flashing on and off. I recognized it from my time in the Dominion – it was a Teleportation Jammer. I could try and activate my Hospital Teleporter, but it would be no good. As soon as I hit the button, the Jammer would send a powerful EMP pulse and short it out, frying the circuitry and melting it into a puddle of hot plastic.
I simply curled into a ball, my blood spilling out of me in a pool. His voice was fading, and all I could hear was my blood pouring out me, roaring like a river onto the dirty concrete floor. My choking breaths were so amplified, why couldn’t anyone else hear me? Wouldn’t someone come and help me? Why wouldn’t they come…?
Chimera walked over me, nodding to himself. I barely noticed. The pain in my chest was fading, much like the edges of my vision. Things weren’t growing dark, they were growing white, like a failing television set – everything was brightening, to the point where everything on the periphery was glowing. My head lolled to the side, resting on the concrete.
I deserved this, I thought.
I was stupid enough to throw everything away for Karnal Sin and her little band of sociopaths. I left the women I loved, the city I called home, the identity I had formed, everything because Karnal had shoved her bosoms in my face, and I was too horny to resist.
I was stupid enough to throw away my team, to let Karnal tell me everything I wanted to hear, how she’d love me forever, we’d be happy and together and that we would save this world – we’d correct the problems of the world, like the inequities of the corporations and the corrupt governments that were subjugating the poor and the weak. And I was stupid enough to believe it when she said she loved me, took me to her private world Eden, and we would lie together and I was stupid enough to believe that I was safe.
I am stupid, and I deserved this.
Flashes of the women I loved flitted across my senses. Aatiya, with her punky red hair and beautiful deeply tanned skin, her quirky smile and the way electricity crackled around her when we kissed…
Nicole, with her shy smile, the way she looked at me from the crowd when I played with my band at Los Hermanos Rojo in King’s Row. The way she swooned as we kissed and the way her self-control would crumble as she got close to me. The way she looked when we both were in high school, the nerdy girl in glasses not knowing how good she looked when she wore a skirt, the way I would look at her across the cafeteria, hungrily devouring her with my eyes…
Mio, the way she looked when we first met in Talos Island, when we busted up a Crey Facility… the girlish giggle I could get out of her… and also the hurt tears that rolled down her face when I screwed up and went off to the Rogue Isles.
These women and more danced on the fading edges of my vision, taunting me with the hurt looks on their faces, the betrayals and the meaningless sex, the broken relationships, the lies and the pain… what was it for? What was any of it for?
The pool of blood was congealing at the edges, and I had stopped moving. My body was trying its best to stop the bleeding, using precious energy stolen from Chimera during the fight with every hit I landed to try and heal the wound, but it wasn’t enough – I simply hadn’t gotten enough from him. My breaths were shallow, coming in short gasps. I could see nothing but white now.
Sitting in a truck, in traffic, in Skyway City, me and another Skull running drugs to King’s Row, two thugs killing my friend and filling my chest with bullets and dropping me off an expressway…
A choking gasp, I remembered feeling the slugs entering and exiting me, like a very hard punch, the sensation of freefall, the ledge of the expressway becoming smaller as I plummeted to earth.
A shudder racked my dying form, thrashing in pool of blood. Sirens in the distance, the sound of Skulls and Hellion gangbangers shooting, at each other or at the cops, who could say?
A hospital bed, people in scrubs, doctors, hovering over me, blood scalpels and bright lights. Pain. Slicing into me, changing me. Suspension in a tube, the color green, a sense of bliss. The others. Project X-27, the Council.
The sirens grow louder, coming closer. Are they coming for me?
Escaping Striga Island, coming to Paragon… going back to the Row, seeing what was going on, the sense of righteous indignation at the heroes running around ignoring the poverty and the petty crime, opting to fight their big flashy battles and posing for the cameras, all the while the real injustice was being perpetuated right beneath their noses. Becoming a hero myself, sweeping the streets and beating down his former friends, trying to make a difference.
It’s all come to naught. The sirens are still too far away.
Everything’s white. I could see nothing.
The thing about adrenaline is that, when you’re scared, hyped up, whatever, your body goes into self-defense mode. That means blood flow to your extremities is decreased, blood flow to your major organs increases. Tactically, what this means is that when you get slashed, say, by a katana blade, you bleed less while your adrenaline is pumping, which means wounds that would normally bleed you out bleed less. However, when the adrenaline stops pumping, the blood flow returns to more or less normal. This means a wound you received will start spurting blood after the traumatic event is over.
This presented me with a problem last night after Chimera escaped. As I staggered away from the gardens around the Golden Giza, my arms and legs were drenched with blood, and it mingled with Chimera’s as I held his severed right hand. My black and grey costume was slashed and tattered, more dark red than grey anymore. My head swam, not just from coming down off the high of fighting, but the implications of what I had just done. I ripped a man’s hand off.
Now, in light of being impaled and killed, that sort of pales in comparison. I know. And I myself have crushed men’s skulls, turned their faces into red jelly flecked with bone fragments, snapped men’s backs like kindling, but I’ve never actually dismembered anybody, and well, it was a little disconcerting.
Ok. Starting off with me holding some dude’s hand is a bad way to tell a story. Let me back up…
Chimera walked out of the Golden Giza. I had gotten a tip that he was working the Fight Night tonight, and Paladin had messed him up, but nothing the stand-by healers couldn’t fix. He didn’t have a limp, and he didn’t look worse for the wear.
I was clinging to the side of an obelisk, the pillars that kept the Wailers at bay from Johnny Sonata, the crooner extraordinaire and soulless taskmaster of the Giza, and coincidentally, a guy who I worked for while I was in the Isles. I had called him beforehand, and asked for a blind spot in the cameras. It cost me a favor. I wasn’t sure, in light of everything that had gone on, what with being ‘dead’ then ‘not dead’, that I would be up to repaying the favor. But a deal’s a deal. Sonata may not be real keen on keeping deals, but I was.
I was clad in my black and grey outfit. It was sleeker than my ceramic/Kevlar suit, much less bulky, but also a lot less protection from lesser injuries. I didn’t care though. I needed to do this, I needed to punish Chimera for what he had done to me.
He walked out into the gardens, not looking especially pleased with himself. Good, I thought. I was about to make his night a whole helluva lot worst. I sprang off the obelisk, and slammed into him, catching him unawares and bowling him over. I used my adhesion powers to catch myself on impact, my fingertips dragging trails in the stone below my feet. Chimera was thrown to the ground, shaking his head, the combat instincts taking over and he immediately drew his sword.
“Took you long enough…” he spat, blinking his one good eye. Paladin must have busted him up something fierce. S’okay. I was going to finish the job. “Better late than never.”
“Here for revenge, then?” He was on his feet, crouched slightly to spring.
“ I thought I told you it wasn’t personal, Deathspider.”
“You killed me. That’s pretty personal.”
He snarled, his mouth concealed by his half-mask. “Death is my business!”
He came at me, the sword flashing out in a silvery arc, hissing by my throat. I pulled back, undulating like a snake, and as it went past, my fists lashed out, connecting with his throat. He choked and spun away, the sword always in motion, stabbing, swiping, and slashing. The blade came across my arm, but only dug lightly. I pulled away, spinning as well, waiting for the inevitable thrust.
“If you were a strong man, you’d accept all this as a learning experience.” He said, still in motion, moving around me in a semi-circle, the sword spinning in his grasp.
“Oh it is… never extend a helping hand to someone trying to do something positive…” This referred to my attempt to get him to call off the bounty – I had traveled to Praetorian Earth, and I could get him cash and access back and forth from our worlds so he could continue his fight against Tyrant, but naturally, he refused. “And never trust someone in bed with Karnal.” I spat back, ignoring the burning pain in my arm, moving fluidly to stay out of range. He narrowed his eye when I mentioned Katherine.
“Not the lesson I would take from it, but to each his own.” He remarked, trying to remain emotionless, but the timbre of his voice changed subtly. I was hitting close to home.
“She call you Daddy, too?”
That was it. He lunged forward lightning fast, the sword flashing, slicing across my left leg, but I was on him in an instant, driving the pain to a remote place as I snapped two of his ribs with a flurry of blows, knocking him back. I could smell the blood collecting in his mask. “You’re making this personal…”
“When wasn’t it personal?” I retorted, backing away to assess the damage done to me. I looked down, and my costume was sliced open, the flesh open and bleeding slowly, the blood oozing out thickly.
He coughed again, spitting inside of his mask. “I’m an assassin, Deathspider. For me, killing you was a job. Why can’t you accept that, and move on?”
“Because you took my LIFE, Chimera! I can’t let that go, if you can believe it!” I snarled, going in low. Chimera, I had noticed, has two main avenues of attack – straight, about chest to neck level on his targets, and overhead chops. The nature of the katana is to slice down, utilizing the razor blade quality of the weapon, to strike and move the blade down in a smooth cutting motion, or slice across. Either way, it isn’t a sudden hit type weapon, not a hacking weapon like Paladin’s broadsword. He needed some time on contact. The curved nature of the katana also means that most users and most disciplines don’t have many answers to attacks that come from below. I darted down with a slide tackle, sliding across the stone of the Giza’s garden paths, knocking him off his feet. He somersaulted over backwards, landing with a handstand. My position at the end of my momentum allowed me to spring with a real NFL-esque tackle, smashing into him and sending us down in a heap. He responded with a palm strike to my nose, almost smashing it across my cheek. The blinding pain came, my eyes watering. I backflipped off of him, clinging to a nearby wall. Okay. Breather.
“You took your own life. You made the choices that led you down this path. I was merely the blade.” He spat, his breathing becoming more undisciplined, more unruly, more human, I guess you could say. The sudden impacts were throwing off his game.
“Chimera, the moralist.” I sneered, my fingers almost digging into the stone of the garden’s retaining wall.
“And Deathspider, the degenerate.” He growled, on his feet and positioning himself, his feet moving, ready to come at me again. He liked to keep on the degenerate kick. Like he never had meaningless sex with a girl who was jailbait. Hypocrite.
I steadied myself on the wall, my muscles tensing – like a car’s hydraulics slamming down, my body seemed to press back on the stone, ready to spring. “You kill for money, and you call me a degenerate?” The nerve of this guy…
“I killed YOU for money. I don’t see anything wrong with that. You were lucky enough to receive a second chance, and yet you’re so quick to throw it away. And all in the name of revenge. What’s the point?” He kept moving closer, the sword at a 45 degree angle from his body, his other hand up, fingers curled, palm out.
“She took my dignity. She took my trust. She killed a part of me. That’s why – and you say it isn’t personal.” I was referring of course, to Karnal Sin, the woman who paid him to kill me. Rumor had it that Karnal and Chimera were in bed together. Whether it was true or not, it was having an effect on him. Knowing your girl’s ex-boyfriends rattled anyone.
“Then all I was doing was putting you out of your misery. Look at this rationally, Deathspider. Rationally, your life and death are not my responsibility. They’re yours. If you want revenge, take it against yourself.” He stopped moving while he was talking, too busy talking, not enough watching me. I sprung at him, picking a spot out ten feet from him. I landed on my hands, pressing off with my arms, using my momentum to come at him. In retrospect, not very effective, because he rolled under my attack, the sword flashing out, hoping to get a piece of me.
I flipped in mid-flight, landing on my feet. “That’s asinine! You take no responsibility for what you do, what you’ve done?”
Chimera laughed like it was the most ridiculous thing he’s ever heard. “I have responsibility for my life. Not yours. Killing me isn’t going to change anything, really. You’re the same person, and you’ll have the same enemies. Maybe more.”
“No, I won’t kill you.” I said softly, just enough so he could hear over the roar of the sea. We were right at the edge of the Giza’s perimeter, the waves crashing against the massive concrete foundation of the casino-hotel.
“Then you have learned something. You should really be thanking me.” He chuckled softly, rushing at me again, the blade low and ready for his trademark move, the old ninja bomb in the face, the disembowelment. He came in, and what makes him so effective is that he could do either one. He could bomb you, or he could just slice your throat straightaway. But I was counting on the bomb, and when his hand flicked out, the fingers positioned just the right way, I ducked under the hand, the bomb flying harmlessly over my head. My fist pistoned up and smashed into his jaw, probably loosening some dental work.
He grunted in pain, the blade coming around to slash across my chest. I took the hit, the steel slicing through my costume and my pectoral muscles, but the wound was light – he didn’t commit to such a change, and the way we fight, he needed to have a plan before he came in swinging.
“No more deaths…” I snarled, the wound stinging, but I reached out again, a grazing blow to his temple. He rolled away, feet flying out as he landed, already in another attack kata, his knees slightly bent, his posture telling me all I needed to know.
“Then what are you here for?” he growled, ready to come back, but I could tell by the way he was breathing, the broken ribs and the punches were starting to get to him. “Enjoy throwing your life away?”
“ No. I was thinking a memento.” Frankly, his mug shot. What I did end up getting was disturbing. But more on that later. I had to steer him back on his sore spot. “So why Karnal?”
He grunted, trying to be dismissive. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Not what I heard.” I laughed, coming back in, albeit a bit more cautiously. He moved with me, coming in at me with the blade, me backing up, diving in, hitting him a couple of times, but never anything substantial. He was an elusive bastard, and that’s what made him so good. But maybe I didn’t need to hit him physically. I needed to get him angry enough so he’d slow down, make a mistake. I needed to keep on about Karnal.
I know I was with Karnal Sin. I know she and I had a few liaisons in Siren’s Call before she and I went to the Rogue Isles. I remember everything that happened. Every time we made ‘love’, every time I irritated Overseer, the tension between me and Machina Shard, everything. I know what happened, in detail. But it seems like it happened to somebody else, and I just so happened to get a great re-telling of the story.
I don’t feel anything. Like, for real, I was in love with Karnal. Or intense infatuation. But I felt deeply. It made me tremble to think about her. But now… she’s just some jerk I used to know. For someone to make as much of an impact on me as she did, as much as she did to make my life hell, I feel nothing but apathy tinged with contempt. If that’s even possible. Like, I don’t care, but I know she’s scum, you know?
Then again, I feel that way (the absence of feeling) towards everyone who figured in heavily into my life. Karnal, Machina, Aatiya, Nicole…
Everyone I loved or cared about was just… someone I used to know now.
“Don’t make this personal, Deathspider.” He snarled, engaging me again, the steel flashing and cutting, my arms slashed with the thin, cruel cuts. I responded back with strategically placed fists, hitting pressure points.
Personal. He keeps saying that. Like murdering someone isn’t personal, as though you could just separate that. “I heard you’re her latest boytoy.”
“No, Deathspider, not ‘boy toy’. Just because she had no respect for you, doesn’t mean the same applies to me.”
Defensive about it. Good. Keep hitting him there. “Hah! That’s amusing. Tell that to her other toys.” He swung out in a wild arc, the comments hurting more than my fists. I backpedaled, staying out of his way. I was more effective letting him attack me, and me running my mouth.
Chimera was a young man. I knew what it was like to be young, and unsure, and not know a lick about women. Well, I still don’t, but I at least had experience with betrayal. Chimera… most likely, not so much. Which meant I could play on those fear and uncertainties. His voice was a little too sure of himself, which of course meant, he wasn’t at all. “I know all about them, Deathspider. Don’t assume I am as naïve as you were.”
I laughed bitterly, my voice tinged with a venom I honestly didn’t feel anymore. I remember feeling viciously used, and I faked it. Honestly, at this point, I didn’t need to put up much of an act. He was already rattled. “You’ll be used, like all the rest. You think I didn’t know what she was?”
His voice wavered. “I don’t think you know anything about her.” Even his attack pattern reflected the uncertainty and the doubt, his body language and his movements tentative, no longer utterly self-assured like he had long been. That’s women for you, Chimmy. I pressed on, relentlessly, simultaneously moving in, dodging the wild cuts and slugging him whenever the opportunity arose.
I punctuated every strike with a comment. “The mistake… Chimera… which you’re making… is thinking you’re different… That you’re special to her… That you mean anything to her… that you’re anymore than a useful dog… or a temporary playmate… to be discarded when something better comes along…”
He cried out in pain, and slashed me across the stomach, almost getting the killing blow, but it wasn’t deep enough. I gritted my teeth, the icy burn across my abdomen. No, I thought grimly. No, not this time. This time, I’m walking away. He won’t get me a second time. I don’t know why I’m back, but there is no way I am falling again to this slimeball… “This isn’t any of your business, Deathspider…” he snorted blood back down his throat, his nose pouring blood.
He stood there, swaying slightly, still trying to hold onto his composure. What Paladin and what I had done to him physically paled in comparison to what his own doubts and his relationship with Karnal were doing to him.
“Now who’s naïve?”
And that did it. He snapped and rushed me clumsily, like a teenager would. I smashed my fist into the nerve cluster at his shoulder and pectoral, the sword flying out of his grasp. “You think you’re special, you think you’re above it all, but all you are is just another notch on her bedpost.”
“You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” he screamed, and cocked back his fist for a powerful, slow punch. The fist came at me, at what happened next wasn’t conscious thought, it was just instinct…
The punch came. My hands went up, grasping it with both hands in a grip like when you hold a baseball bat. I lunged down, bringing my knee up onto the forearm, breaking the bones with a brittle, wet snap. I torqued down on the wrist, and pulled. The flesh resisted, but then came off with a sickening rip, hunks of flesh coming off with the bone.
I had ripped Chimera’s right hand and a good portion of his forearm off with my bare hands.
But wait, we’re not done. Normally, the maneuver is used to knock something out of someone’s hand, but I just moved out of instinct. The rest of the motion involved me driving an elbow into Chimera’s throat, sending him backwards. I spun back around, and saw what I had in my hands, I nearly dry-heaved.
His hand was still in his glove, but I could see enough of his tanned skin around the rip, chunks of muscle and sinew hanging off like a side of meat, blood streaming from the rent flesh.
“Jesus… I gotta get him to a hospital…”
Now let’s stop right there. Let’s review the facts. 21 days prior to tonight, he killed me. Ran me through with a sword and jammed my hospital teleporter. Prior to that, he was hunting Hazard Guard members down in Siren’s Call, because Karnal had put a bounty on me and my friends.
And I’m thinking about taking him to the hospital.
Just so you know, this is not pre-dead Deathspider behavior. I guess being dead kinda makes you appreciate life. Or at least, makes you sick when you rip a guy’s hand off. It would have been different if I just killed him, if that makes any sense.
Chimera fell to his knees in shock, holding the bloody stump out in front of him, his eye wide with terror and disbelief. “How could this be happening?” I bet he thought, as he saw the snapped slivers of bone, the torn hunks of bloody flesh, and the arterial blood spurting out. He bit his lip and something inside him clicked, and he tore a swatch of cloth from his costume, holding it over the stump, blood coming from his mouth as he bit down on his tongue to stifle his scream.
“Jesus, man… We gotta get you to the hospital… Come here… it’s over, Chimera.” My tone was low, still shocked myself, but trying to maintain some sort of control over the situation. Logically, Chimera was in no mood to listen. He choked and sputtered, blood pouring out of his mouth, and, what do you know… ninja bomb to the face.
I sprang back, cursing, the salt, sawdust, metal shavings, and pepper blinding me momentarily. I must have sprung back 10 feet out of habit. Chimera had no sword, and he had, well… no hand to hold one in, so I don’t think I was in any real danger. When I cleared my mask of the crap he flung in my face, he had his hospital teleporter out.
“My… life… my… responsibility…” he gasped, his skin pale. He was going into shock. He was losing too much blood. He looked pitifully up at me, every bit of the scared kid that he was. And then, he pressed the button. He was gone. He escaped. Not the ‘muah-hah-hah, I’ll get you next time, Deathspider’ type of escape. I had just maimed a man, not much more than a boy. I knew in the back of my mind that Karnal would fix him… or throw him away, unless she liked being stumped…
Hehe… get it?
- ahem* Anyway.
With Chimera gone, there were only trails and pools of blood left. His sword was nowhere to be seen, probably taken by some scavengers or being listed on eBay as I speak. With nothing left except his hand… I left for home.
My words, the mental images, all flowed into Rebecca’s mind. We lay in the bed of my old safehouse that I used when I first started out, now, I guess, her new home. She had been living in a half-way house when I met her Saturday morning, when she found me in an alleyway in Atlas Park, and brought me out of the rain. She was an empath, and after she bound my wounds earlier, we talked about what happened. How I felt that I didn’t know how to feel – the mixture of not wanting to be like Chimera, but wishing I finished the job so he wouldn’t be around to kill anyone else… and wishing I didn’t rip off his hand, but wanting to extract my due. I’ve only known her for three days, and already, as she said… we resonate with each other. She had a weird way of calming me down, and with everything’s that happened, I needed the stabilization she brings. Where it will go, who can say, but at that moment, lying with her, sharing the experience with her, it didn’t seem that bad.
We were tangled in the sheets of the old bed, the smell of my pheromones and sex in the air. She was curled up next to me, clinging against me. Her healing powers had reduced the wicked cuts Chimera gave me to thin, white scars, but nothing could take away the twisted, angry red scar from his sword earlier this month. I’d bear that scar till the grave.
I had come home, and I was tweaking out. I had bought a bag of ice in St. Martial, and put Chimera’s hand in it. Why, I don’t know. It just seemed like the thing to do, like putting a lost tooth in a cup of milk. Lost limb, put it on ice, right? Well, the ice and the hand ended up in the sink. And when Rebecca came home, moving her stuff into the safehouse, she saw it in the sink and wasn’t exactly pleased. And she talked me out of my little freak out… she used her powers to close the wounds… and we made love, ate a little dinner, and we lied in bed and talked. Sometimes words, but most of the time tonight was spent with me sharing what happened outside the Giza, while I stroked her back or ran my fingers through her long red hair. She seemed genuinely pleased to be there with me, so that was a plus as well, I guess.
The shock of what I did to Chimera faded as Becca talked to me, soothed me. Assured me that things were going to be all right, but yeah, that wasn’t the right thing to do. The nice balance of ‘It’s okay, but yeah, you messed up’. It was better than cheap platitudes or stern, harsh words. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
But the thing she couldn’t answer for me was this – what happened to me? I mean… yes, Chimera killed me, and yes, I wake up Saturday morning, freaking out. But what happened in-between? That’s 20 some odd days I can’t account for. Why, and who brought me back? Was I really dead or was it some elaborate trick by Karnal? Why can’t I feel anything towards the women I loved, or any spite or malice towards the Dark Dominion anymore? Why couldn’t I finish the job with Chimera?
I could stand here and tell you that I ‘resolved to find out!’ or ‘swore that whoever had done this would pay’, but really, all I could do was hold the red-headed girl who I was beginning to feel quite a bit for, letting her cuddle up against me and make me feel if not good, then at least less bad. She was intelligent, compassionate, and she really liked seeing me in my costume.
All in all, a decent night.
No, that’s all wrong. That feels tacked on and cheap.
I had confronted the guy who, in all likelihood, KILLED ME, and ripped off his frickin’ hand. I beat Chimera, conclusively. His hand is sitting in a cryo-tube in the Hazard Guard base (don’t ask me why, but it seemed like the place to put it). Then, making my way all the way back to Paragon, I got to spend the evening with a beautiful, smoking hot telepathic redhead who proceeded to not only heal the several wounds I incurred, but took me in the bedroom.
That’s a pretty d*mn good day.