This story took place directly after Drekstorm, Part II.
-Torn Between Scylla and Charybdis (A Final Goodbye?)-
The whole job smelled like drek from the get-go. King James calling in a favor, fancy meals on some suit’s home turf. Why was their entire team being called in to retrieve some bulldrek piece magic hoodoo? This felt beneath too much beneath their skillset, but Tiny bit his tongue and didn’t frag the Johnson at the table and get blood on everyone’s fancy new clothes. Something just wasn’t right. It just seemed too easy and that was a bad feeling.
On the way to the Barrens Tiny had flashbacks of Mitch. He had the same feeling during prior to that. It was as if he were reliving it all over again. He eyed The Kid and The Girl – something was up there but he couldn’t pinpoint it. Would it happen again? Would someone die tonight? All he could do was close his eyes. Behind the privacy of his helmet no one could him stare at her. He saw her face in his nightmares, staring up at with lifeless. It rattled his confidence to the core. Sitting just a few from him he wanted to scream at her to leave, to go back and forget about this life, find some mundane bulldrek job while she could.
The van jostled and came to a halt, propelling Tiny from his waking nightmare back into reality. The team squabbled about a plan of action and Tiny made his way to take up a point position. This wasn’t good, everything felt rushed. They had no real plan, no real backup. Once they landed on something it was go time. His battle focus kicked in, years of training and experience taught him how to ignore fear to face whatever comes. His squad made their way to the abandon building entirety too easily. And that’s where it went downhill. The other running crew had made a feeble attempt to barricade themselves in a basement – another clear sign something wasn’t right. Tiny waited for orders and when the green light came he put one swift boot to the door and it crashed open. Inside there was no movement. There were bodies there, possibly the team they were looking for but they made no moves. ‘Frag me’ he thought to himself as he stepped in and began to pepper the whole room with round after round.
The rest happened in a blur – some horror appeared which reminded him of his time in Chicago, a ghastly baby-headed… something… came screaming out of a pool of blood as Tiny was delivering lead. It spewed a bloodcurdling noise and made a beeline for her faster than he could step in the way and tore a huge hunk from her abdomen. ‘MITCH!’ his mind screamed as he wheeled around and opened up on it with everything he had. It only seemed to piss it off but he had accomplished his goal – draw fire and let the rest bug out. He felt a sudden intense pain throughout himself and almost dropped to his knees. But he didn’t. This was one bad mutha fragging trog. He would go out standing. The deathbaby turned on him and as they grappled and fought. Tiny landed a solid haymaker on its forehead and did… nothing. Before the shock of it set in he felt round after round thud into his armor, more than a few making it through.
Before his vision faded to black, he thought he actually saw Mr. Mayhem. Mr. Mayhem appeared differently to all Trogs who followed the Gospel. To Tiny, he was a well-dressed man with an elegant grace. A Minster of Death. Tiny knew Mr. Mayhem would come to collect his bounty, but would it be him this time? His vision faded as Mr. Mayhem descended the stairs, a smile on his face.
Darkness like the void of space surrounded him and yet there was a warmth to it. In the blackness he floated as if in a womb and yet somehow it felt as if there was a warmth and light at the peripheral of his vision. Where was he? Was he dead? Was he alive? It felt like a dream in a kind of surreal way, the kind of dream just on the edge of consciousness where you knew it was a dream but had kind of control over it. And so he hung there in the void for a time. It felt like hours. Or was it days? Weeks? He felt lost in eternity
Gradually he became aware that he was not alone. When had that happened? Always out of the corner of his eyes he thought he saw Mr. Mayhem but when he spun to face him he has gone. A specter in the dark. Slowly his life came into focus. Was it his life? He couldn’t remember what his life had been. Had he lived? Surely he had, but why couldn’t he remember. The darkness…moved. Light flickered somewhere and suddenly he had been propelled. Like a Trog that had been slung into space he rocketed toward a vision. No it was a place. Was it a memory? He couldn’t tell how fast but it felt like riding a beam of light.
Abruptly he came to a stop. He was in some underground room. All around him were the distant sounds of chaos. Three bodies lay on the floor. Bodies he did not recognize. One, a young girl, lay on her back in a pool of blood. She had been badly wounded and it looked like she very well may be dead. Another was a remarkably average looking man. The kind of man you might easily forget. The last was a behemoth – more machine than flesh and blood. He didn’t seem dead, but something was…missing?
A gentle hand lay on his shoulder but he hardly noticed. ‘What do you seek Matthew?’ a voice asked softly. He thought he recognized that voice. It elicited a memory – one of pain, sorrow and regret. What was that memory?
‘What do you mean?’ he heard himself ask. They were his words but the felt like another’s. ‘I don’t understand this. What am I seeing? Why am I here?’
The voice was soft, like a demon’s whisper. Or was it the whisper of an angel? ‘Don’t you know?’ the voice answered, its tone like soft velour, ‘You have prayed for this for so many years.’
It made no sense to him. He couldn’t remember. Only one memory hung in mind and he grasped frantically at it but could not catch hold.
‘We were brothers once, you and I. Do you not remember? We broke bread, shared in the glory of annihilation, bathed in destruction.’ He knew that voice. The sound kept triggering that distant memory.
‘You gained much glory for yourself, and yet you still prayed for death. You walked the path of Mayhem, my Champion among the world, living without fear and embracing death at every opportunity. You have earned your place among us Matthew.’
It made no sense to him. The voice spoke as if they shared some deep bond or connection. ‘What do you mean? Who are you? Why are you here?’ He tried to maintain his composure. ‘WHY DO YOU TORMENT ME STILL?! ‘ he screamed, his voice carrying across the vastness outside of this scene before him.
The hand gently turned him away from the grizzly scene and it faded. In a flood of raw emotion, his life, his memories came rushing back to him like a violent maelstrom. His consciousness turned to face that voice and a gentle face of youth greeted him. Blue eyes, dusty blond hair and a devious grin. It was the face of Mitch he regarded. It was him, and yet at the same time it wasn’t. He had not understood why Mr. Mayhem took the form of Mitch but there he was, smiling at him all self-confident and and full of life, just like they day they had met.
All the anger, all the pain, all the sorrow that had followed him was washed. The booze, the drugs, the nightmares, every face that haunted him, everything, washed away in a baptism of fire that consumed them both. ‘You have walked the path for many years, Matthew. Many more than I had first wagered you would. You carried such burdens as our kind always do and yet you still maintained. Such magnificent displays of chaos, such potential, but you are at a crossroads. Your burdens have consumed you and you must now decide. Will you live? Will you continue as a disciple in my service, an Agent of Death, delivering souls to me so that our glory continues on? Or have you lived enough? Have you no more strength to do my work? You have earned your place among us Matthew. There is nothing to regret. Those who walk the path eventually know this truth as you now do. Choose, Matthew. Visit your death before you and decide if your soul still burns with the fires of war. Your death has much honor, much glory. But you must decide…’
The voice faded as he once again looked upon the grizzly scene. Mr. Mayhem had departed, but he felt another presence with him.
“Whoa,” a voice said. “Holy fragging drek.” He turned to see the young girl from the pool of blood standing beside him, her eyes fixed on the scene.
“Wait a minute,” she said and shook her head. She turned to look at him curiously. “What the hell am I saying? I can’t be standing up here. That sure as drek isn’t astral. It’s too cold and the colors are all wrong. And…” she looked him up and down. “Well no offense, man, but you’re here.”
She glanced over at him, then down at themselves on the concrete below. “Well, frag. If this ain’t astral and if you’re here too, we’re pretty much fragged, aren’t we?”
He shrugged as he stood next to her. “I don’t know” he said, half to himself and half to her. “I don’t think we’re dead yet.” Turning to face her he asked “Have you ever been here?” as he gestured all around. “I think we might be dead, or close to it.”
“That’s messed up, y’know? I always kind of thought it’d be different. Like, since I’ve got all of me – y’know – still in place,” she said and glanced again at her body double on the floor. “Well,” she said quickly. “You know what I mean. I thought things would be different. This is gonna sound really bad, and I totally don’t mean it this way, but I wouldn’ta thought you’d get the… same thing, y’know? I mean, cause you’re so much metal and stuff.”
Kit grimaced, looked upward, and then laughed. “Damn, I’d totally punch the snot out of me right now if I was you.” He actually laughed at that. How long had it been since he had done that? He imagined what that might feel like, her face collapsing under the weight of his cold metal fists. He imagined it would feel good. No, it would feel right. Like something he was supposed to do.
He still had something to do…