Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Pallbearer: Harvests Part 1

The Harvesters

Staring down the mouth of that tunnel with seven tanks, a mad cat, a praying mantis, and a horde of Blind Children behind me, I single thought came to mind.

What the fuck am I doing?

"Beast, please remove the guards at the front door."

"It would be my pleasure. Gentlemen, on my mark."

Six voices answered him. Six voices that were all his own.


"She tells me you used to be a composer Nikolas."

"Da. Before the wall fell, myself and my brother performed here. I played piano. You may have heard of me. But you never knew me."

"What happened to your brother?"

"We protested the creation of Gravesite. When they wouldn't listen, we took up arms against them. I was the closest thing to a survivor that came of it. I never saw Piotr again. I never saw my own body again. Vaudville caught my brain in an electric jar and offered me life again. I accepted. Call me a coward, but I wasn't going to die forprinciple ."

"You realize that's what I'm here about."

"Dying for principle? Bah. Who needs it? Those children will die one way or another anyway."

"That's not what I'm asking you to risk your life for."


"I'm asking you to compose the greatest symphony they've ever seen."

"And what is in it for me?"

"You'll never be forgotten again."

"You have yourself a deal.... little man."

The steel gates blocking off the road to the tunnel ruptured and peeled back. The guard houses vanished in bursts of smoke and flame, showers of ash and metallic snow sprinkled down around the ruined gates.

"Thank you Beast. Everybody, eyes on the children. Remember, we're here to rescue more of them, not let these ones die. Got me?"



"Gotcha there burly brute, we gonna get kickin' ass or what?"

"No way. No way. I saved your ass twice. You saved mine twice. We're even."

"I saved you three times."

"One was a gimme. You destroyed my shop."


"Don't use that name. You don't know me well enough to use that name."

"Then why'd you tell me? Why did you tell me about your sister?"

"Don't you dare talk about Alex."

"Why not? Leave a bad taste in your mouth?"

"Get out my sight or I'll gut you, I don't give a fuck how many times you've saved my ass."

"One last thing. You strike me as the type that likes her lemonade with real lemons, orange juice with real oranges. Do you like the idea that kiddie meals are made with real kiddies?"


"I still can't make it go away, no matter how often I brush my teeth. No gargling. No flossing. Can't even drink that one away."

"You in?"

"I'm in."

"Yes indeed we are. Eyes open everybody. From here on out, there's no rest until we're done. Move it."

Der Kitten perched atop Beast, polishing her tommy. Three tanks behind, three plus Beast at the head with me. Ms. Borden lingered mid-pack, a giant amidst a tide of children. Her upper arms waved about cautiously, serrated scythes looking for a harvest. Her lower arms were the more dangerous, both clutching gatling guns.

Natalie had wrapped herself in pieced together armor scavenged from Disciples and unlucky Corp hunters. It'd do.

"Gremlin tells me that once I'm done fixing your Brute here, you're heading off to shut down the hydroponics plant at Point Heston."

"I am"

"I want to go with you."

"I'm sure you can see alright with whatever gift you have. But, this really isn't going to be a place for a mechanic."

Laughter. A lemon juice, vinegar, salt, paper cut sort of laugh.

"Mechanic? Gremlin didn't tell you did he?"

"Tell me what?"

"I'm a Sleeper."

"The hell you are. You aren't part animal and you aren't trying to eat me."

"I am part animal, insect to be specific, and you haven't attempted to mate with me yet."


"I'm a Mantis. Rather, the thing that tried to take me over was. I got stuck with parts of it and kept my mind. I came over the wall two years ago. One of Cain's dogs, this Uriel, catches me and puts me to work fixing them. My punishment for being a "hellborne demon."

"I told you, no. I think you've been sniffing too many of the chemicals down here."

Her arm tore in half and a thick green blade of an arm buried itself in the wall.

"Do I have to finish reverting, or will you believe me now? It hurts like hell to change back to a human."

"Ah... no. That'll be... just... fine."

"Many of the children will want to come too."

"Whatever you say Ms. Borden. You get my Brute working, you can come. But Samson stays here."


"I owe her enough already. Now if you'd please take your arm out of the wall, and more importantly, out of the collar of my shirt?"

"Right. Sorry."

It was thundering again. Foot soldiers took potshots at us from behind vast concrete abuttments. A squad of Sanitation Suits were lumbering down the tunnel, chainguns spinning up.

They died before they fired a shot, erupting like water balloons under Beast's cannonade.

The children were whimpering, some screaming. A voice whispering in our ears. A voice that smelled like fish.

"Easy... easy... They will take care of you, just as I do. Just as I am tending to your family down here. Isn't that right Neil?"

"Markus, we'll take care of them. Now get out of my head."

"I'm not technically in your head. Jolie is broadcasting my thoughts to you via..."

"Just shut up already and let me do my job."

Silence. Blessed silence. Not for long.

"Associate Anderson, you have failed to understand your position. You are no longer a part of the West Worthington Company and thusly, termination is neccesary."

Conduit. In a suit as large as mine, crackling, sizzling, popping.

"I told you, I quit."

"That isn't an option. Termination of your employment will be carried  out post haste. The Mayor has endorsed this and offered his security force in support."

The Fomorian Guard. The bright shining example of Morelli's corruption. His pets, bribes given to him by every pig s.i.g. in the goddamn city. He stays out of their way, they stay quiet, and endorse him with another body for his security force.

"Your services are no longer valuble to us. Now will you yield and spare yourself the effort?"

With seven tanks, a mad cat, a praying mantis, and a horde of children behind me, a memory played itself again and again.

Neil, have you ever wanted to have a kid?

Absolutely Cass. Grilled or fried?

I'm serious Neil.

Of course I have hon.


Good? Why good?

Tell you when we're done with this mission.



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