Foundation of Blood
The skull was heavy in my hand. It was a little surprising, I’ll admit. I wouldn’t have expected a weak-minded creation to have such a thick skull. I turned to Wither. He was still clenching his teeth, his fists balled up nice and tight. Christoph and Seth were standing on either side of him. They didn’t look quite as pissed. Not quite. More just tired and eager to hurt things.
I understood. This was an embarrassment. A fucking slap to the face. It would not be tolerated.
You see, that’s why I always liked Excalibur. It wasn’t because it was a decent sword. Seth was the one who liked swords. He would fight all day with random peasants just to feel the way a good sword sliced up the opposition. Everybody thinks War’s in it for the killing. Hardly. He’s in it for the fight. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to him whether he dies or someone else dies for the most part. He just wants a good clean fight.
I was the one that created Excalibur. I’m the one that made it so ungodly powerful so as to be nigh unstoppable. Seth loathed it, loathed its ability to turn a fair fight into a rout. Him and his stupid fair fight. I don’t want fair. I want dirty. Actually, to be frank, I don’t want a fight at all. I want a massacre. I want a slaughterhouse. I’m not about wading through a field of soldiers cleaving them in twain with an ass’s jawbone. I’m about planting explosives through the field that they’ll be running through and letting a flaming arrow light the fuse that causes the earth to erupt beneath their feet.
We had come to negotiate with Morelli in order to deny a piece of the city charter to Samedi, Anubis, and my creation Pox. We had already cleaned out his precious Meddigo Tower. It should have been an easy negotiation, as far as these kinds of things go.
But the others had arrived and started negotiations early. A dozen Sergeant Johnson’s were standing just inside the entrance to Meddigo Tower, each one of them standing still and at attention as we had strolled inside. Odd. The Mayor supposedly detested clones as troops. Obviously, the original trooper the Johnsons had been based on had some special meaning to Morelli.
“You lot aren’t welcome here.”
“We’re come to speak to Mayor Morelli. Negotiations. Starting with the fact that we were the ones that removed the bird from his roost.”
“The Mayor acknowledges what you’ve done. However, he’s not available today.”
The Sergeant Johnson that had taken point smirked.
“After all, he’s waiting for a very important document to arrive so he can get a signature down on paper. Now hurry on along. The important people are busy here.”
Wither was swinging for the Johnson’s jaw as one of my pencils buried itself between its eyes. His skin changed color and consistency. Where the pencil had lodged itself faded to a soft tan. The color blossomed outward, stopping only where it collided with rows of stitches. Beyond the stitches, skin tones of various flavors continued to spread in a wave.
“They’re Stitches. Anubis and Samedi already paid the bastard off. Kill anything that moves. Watch for anything toxic. I’m guessing Arturo’s little boy is here too.”
Seth was already clearing the distance between himself and a cluster of three Johnsons. Each of hulking stitched together nasties had raised assault shotguns and seemed to think the odd were in their favor. That was mere moments before the thorny-whip Christoph had given him unfurled from Seth’s hand and lashed across their faces. The thorns broke off and lodged in their cheeks and noses and began to sprout. Smaller vines burst from the thorns and wrapped around the guards’ throats, strangling them to death. Christoph snickered as he dispatched them without ever bothering to move.
Seth snatched up the guns and tossed one to me before firing on the guards with one himself. Wither was darting between the guards, his hair whipping about as he pummeled their ribs into powder and kneaded their faces into lumps of crimson dough.
Thirteen guards were all they had standing in that expansive lobby. It took approximately that many seconds before they were all dead on the floor, crumpled up like fast food wrappers, vines growing happily in their lungs, their eye sockets converted into pencil holders.
I stooped and scooped up one of the heads that had been severed by the more ambitious of Christoph’s vines. The skin was sloughing off now that the stitches were failing. The skull had been cobbled together a bit more successfully. That is to say, not put together well at all. The ridges of the artificial calcium seams were obvious even before the muscle had started to deteriorate.
Like I say though, decent production value on the weight at least.
“They’ll be waiting for us in force up the stairs Wither. You realize that don’t you?”
“Seth is right. Morelli will be in his secured office. They’ve probably got him convinced that they can protect him from anything.”
“We’re going to march up there and kill everything and everyone in our way. Have fun. Go wild. Just like the old days. If he wants to spit in our face after saving his city, so be it. I’ll kill the fat bastard myself if it comes down to it. He will not be allowed to sign that charter.”
I snickered under my breath.
“You do realize Wither, that if kill him, this city will almost certainly fall apart? That our heroics against that stupid bird will be for nothing?”
“They won’t be for nothing.”
“No? What purpose will they serve?”
“We’ll be the ones responsible. If the world’s going to end, we’ll be the ones to do it. No one else.”
“Oh, more territorial pissing.”
“You have a problem with that?”
“On the contrary, anything less would count as a draw. I’m Victory, remember? I’m in it for the win. Anything else is pointless.”
Wither nodded and looked over his shoulder at Christoph and Seth. They nodded back to him.
“No one disrespects the horsemen without suffering for it. Let’s go.”
It was good to be a family. A family of murderers and madmen, sure. But a family nonetheless.