Eye For An Eye
I thought I was making some pretty good time down that hallway for a cyclops, but the bastard just wouldn’t slow down. He was dodging and weaving through every little corridor, prancing across the catwalks, hopping over guardrails, thinking he was going to get away.
Too bad I’m persistent. Having your arm flayed open, salt scraped into it, and then losing your eye can do that to a man though.
What? You thought I’d be laying in a puddle of blood trying to recover? Screw that. Nagumo had waited with me in that godawful cistern with Curtis’ corpse until I came to. By that point, he’d already got my tongue sewn closed. My head was throbbing. When didn’t it throb? A little more pain meant nothing. My life was agony already. That’s why I wanted to die a hero hadn’t it been?
To end it without letting everyone know I was a coward.
That was all well and good, the whole bit about dying. But the laundry list just kept growing. Anne and Tobias, Samedi and his boys, Nagumo… Yeah… That one wasn’t going to be fun. A promise was a promise though. I’d give Nagumo his chance when the time came. But that time wasn’t going to be anytime soon, no siree, not with how quick this little freak was racing along.
I had noticed his spindly legs as his sister had been rubbing hers against them. As raw, red meat, they were hard to miss. I didn’t intend to miss them though. My pipe was crying out for his kneecaps and I intended to deliver.
I put my foot up onto a bit of railing and leapt into the air, grasping onto a chain dangling from overhead. Appeared to be connected to some monstrous pump, churning the water up through the city, providing everyone with what they needed, letting us all imagine that the inland sea we were pulling it from past The Bastion would never run out. It had to run out. Nothing lasted forever.
With a little luck, his legs would be next on the list of expired goods.
And that got me wondering if Nagumo was having as much fun as I was.
Jack was probably finding this amusing. I was not. Hunting criminals was serious business, and this one was no exception. She may have been originally limping when she got away from Jack but she was moving at a pretty brisk pace by the time I caught up with her.
Anne had stopped to face me, a chain half wrapped around her arm.
“You think to fight me with that?”
“I’ve succeeded with much less effective tools against nastier people than you, fish.”
I unsheathed The Darkening and she tensed, ready to pounce if I made a move towards her. I didn’t. Instead, I tossed down the catwalk to her. Anne skittered back as if it was a spider and she a luscious fly for the taking.
“Pick it up.”
“I said pick it up. I’ll not be fighting you with a chain in your hands. That’s ridiculous. I’ll face you fairly. I’m not here to cut you down, full of bloodlust. I’m here to judge you in as fair a way as possible. This is what you’re going to get.”
She stooped down and scooped up the blade I had thrown her.
“But I’m keeping the chain.”
“If it makes you feel more secure, by all means.”
I put my hand on Illumination’s hilt and stood relaxed.
“What are you doing?”
She swung the blade limply, feeling its weight before raising it up, horizontal to her shoulders.
“It was a mistake to give this to me.”
“Obviously. You have no idea what you’re doing.”
“On the contrary, I’ve watched your kind long enough to know how this goes.”
She lunged for me, blade falling for the center of my skull. I brought my own blade up from the sheath in one fluid motion, one hand on the hilt, blocking her swing. Her arm wrapped in chain came for the side of my head. It was approximately six inches away when it fell slack. That might have had something to do with the sheath that had just smashed into her throat.
Anne fell to her knees, The Darkening falling from her hands. She floundered for air, trying to breath.
“Your windpipe has been crushed. You are already dead. I am merciful, more merciful than I fear Jack will be to your brother. You need not suffer any longer than this.”
I raised Illumination. Justice would be done.
So like I was saying, he was damn fast. Thankfully, the third time around the reservoir, he started slowing down. I think the panic that had overcome him when he saw me coming with an eye hole who bandages were fluttering away now. He was getting a grip on himself. By keeping the ring of chains, I could even move without him seeing me.
Let me tell you, that was some fun.
Swinging around like a monkey with no one able to hear you is a riot. He never thought to look up. Oh, he looked side to side plenty. He looked behind plenty. But he never looked up. Hell, he only looked down when he started to trip.
That’s when I let go of the chains.
I landed right behind him as he staggered forward. He was leaning into his run, trying to keep moving even as he lost his balance. You know the kind of run, where you pretend you’re a bird that some how is going to achieve lift off if you just keep moving.
I slammed the pipe into the back of his knees and his legs crumpled beneath.
Sorry dearie, the flight’s been canceled. Seems the plane’s landing gear are broken.
He hit grating face first and dented that cute little nose of his. Tobias was just turning his head to look up at me when Angela’s sweet voice sang out a victory cry and my pipe crushed all the vertebrae at the base of his neck.
Tobias screamed. It was a scream I let shake through me with glee. This wasn’t justice. This was vengeance. This was screw getting even and screw getting ahead. This was about making it so that there could be no evening of the score ever again. The complete annihilation of your opponent.
I saw Nagumo coming and smiled a little. He did not smile at me, but he knew better than to make a judgement right now. Too much was missing from me right now to question what I was about to do.
I touched my finger to the back of Tobias’ head and started to whisper softly to him.
“Hi Tobias. Remember me? Remember my arm? Remember how my eye looked before your little friend that it would fit his head better? Don’t worry, it’s okay. We’re squaresies now. I don’t plan on killing you any time soon. In fact, I don’t plan on ever killing you. I bet it’ll get lonely laying here, but you’ll manage. You’re a big boy. And hell, Anne’ll even join you.”
That was when I gingerly took Anne’s head from Nagumo and set it down in front of him, eye to eye with him.
The scream that had almost died rose again to new heights, none of it intelligible. His mind was gone. That would be just fine.
I stood and shook hands with Nagumo, less to congratulate, more to just speak.
“Now that that’s done, what’s next on the agenda. Samedi and Mr. Heat or more escapees?”
“We need to take time and plan our next course of action. It’s not so easy as just pointing ourselves in a direction and walking.”
“I suppose. Let’s go then.”
“Are you going to end his suffering?”
“Why not? How long will it take of his screaming before you feel vindicated?”
“When my eye grows back. Let’s go.”
I could still hear him screaming as we left, even as his vocal chords were starting to go, I could hear the weakening whimper blowing across them as his lungs emptied, refilled, and emptied again. It didn’t matter where we went, I’d hear him.
So we picked a direction and walked. And I, at the very least, felt better about my life.