Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Pallbearer: Bad Blood Part 3


Somehow, I expected the story of my birth parents' death to be more exciting, particularly seeing as their lives were sacrificed to a dark god by my inhuman (non)grandfather.  I had been looking forward to finding out all the juicy details when I finally died and was burning in Hell.  Unfortunately, it was boring and trite.  Oh no, there was a car wreck due to failed brakes.  Tragedy, the occupants were robbed and their throats cut.  That was it.  That was all the old bastard had done.  He cut their brakes and their throats, drank some blood, and bailed.  He took some back to grandma (who was not my grandma either) and she drank some too.  He killed her six months down the road because he was bored with her and wanted all the power to himself.  The only thing of faint amusement to me was that he claimed to worship Jack of the Lantern, and that he had taken to calling himself Mobius.  Whoop de freakin' doo.

My story was much better.  And it went something like this...


I woke up and the only bits of me that didn't hurt were numb.  What took me by surprise was that I woke up.  I was perfectly happy with letting myself sink into the water and rot away in unconscious slumber.  Apparently someone opposed that idea.  I opened my eyes and they stung.  It was the water that did it.  I always had hated opening my eyes underwater.  I tried opening my Brute's eyes and ever so slowly, the world came into focus.

I was in a junkyard, probably The Junkyard.  Jeng District had been designed to house all of Chrysalis Falls' solid waste.  It was, essentially, a landfill the size of Delaware, which was appropriate.  Chrysalis Falls was a little larger than Wyoming had been, so I suppose the civil engineers might've known what they were doing.  It was still in operation, but no one bothered to bury most of it these days.  The heaps just got higher and the Corps poured money into deodorizing the place so the stink was kept to a minimum.  It almost made sense.  Several of the city's hydro-discharge channels ran under here.  Had I been pulled out though one of them?  That's what I wanted to know.  By whom mattered less.  They probably wanted to kill me, and I probably wanted to kill them.  At least that part was easy.

My legs whimpered as I tried to stand and crashed back down again.  My Brute wasn't going anywhere.  I hit the hatch release and fell to the floor as the water poured out.  I struggled to my feet and climbed out my Brute's back.  My knee gave out and I toppled to the ground, collapsing into a surprisingly soft pile of hard, sharp, pointy metal.

There was gunfire to the... north?  Was that north?  I didn't fucking know.  That way.  I grabbed an aluminum pipe and started to make my way down the mound of junk.  There were plenty of well-worn paths through the area.  That spoke of large numbers using this place as a frequent thoroughfare.  It was altogether possible that I had been rescued from one of the channels by their users.  I made my way towards the sound of gunfire and metal screaming.  Had I gone any other direction lately?  Really?  Even plunging into the water had led me here.

My knee pleaded with me to stop, even as I hobbled forward.  It needed to learn to shut up.  Every other part of me had, from my bashed in ribs to my broken nose.  I'd never heal right again.  It didn't really matter though.  I just wanted the individual pains to be quiet.  Let my body fall apart, let it stop working.  I was alright with that.  I would be damned though if I'd cave to a bunch of sissy parts that felt like complaining.

Ah.  There we go.

I came around a hill of buzzing and maggoty refuse and saw the object of my ears' curiosity.  A team of West Worthington CSAs were chasing a rather large pack of badly pieced together robots across the junkyard, gunning them down.  I recognized the emblem on the West Worthington scum.  It was Captain Angel and his counter-terrorism team.  There were of moderate prestige, being one of few bunches of maniacs that opted to hunt the Disciples and any other rogue machinery.  That appeared to be what was happening today.    Who were the fleeing robots?  Some were on treads, some were two-legged.  A couple of them had crude helicopter blades or jet packs.  It was certainly... odd.

"Mow them down!  None are to be left operational!  You hear me?  The Company wants the Errata gone!"

The Errata?  So I was most definitely in Jeng, in the northern fringes of the district.  The Errata were a bunch of robots that were dumped before anyone made sure their AI was fully shut down.  There had been talk of them using the junk to build more and more of their kind, but they had never seemed to have much success.  It just happened that they were just about unkillable.  One survives, it rounds back up the memory of others and starts rebuilding.

Crackle.  Sizzle.  Pop.  Boom.

You had to be kidding me.

I caught sight of Angel coming around a mound of trash and pulling the trigger on the long tube under his arm.  It had pitchforked ends and, from the looks of it, rubber grips.

Crackle.  Boom.

A white-hot arc of electricity erupted from its tip and slammed into multiple machines.  Each and everyone one of them dropped to the ground unmoving.

"Captain.  It seems to be working.  Their little lightning rod bullets seem to be doing the trick."

"I can see that Associate.  Keep moving."

Another Angel.  More lightning.  I was pissed.  I hobbled forward as fast as I could.  Something.  I didn't care what.  Something was going to be done about this.  I was tired of angels and their arrogance.

One of the associates noticed me as I was about fifty feet from Captain Angel and his bleached white hair.

"Captain!  Live human behind you.  West Worthington uniform on him."

Angel spun to look at me and started to laugh.

"Lookit this!  It's the Pallbearer.  That's where he's been all this time.  Gone to ground because he's half-crippled up and missing his suit."

The CSAs stopped firing and turned to look at me.  Captain Angel reached into the slate gray and cobalt blue holster at his side and pulled out a company-issued .22.  He was smiling behind brown eyes as he raised his pistol.

"What's good for one mistake is good for another, eh boys?"

"You sure that'll do the job?  You don't want to just piss me off."

"I just don't want to risk the bullet going through you.  Then the lightning wouldn't know to eat your punk ass alive."

The CSAs were laughing.  Their guns were lax.  They were getting hard waiting for their captain to test his lightning gun on me.

Captain Angel fired and put a bullet in my pissed off knee.  I kept coming, grinning broad.

"You should've picked the other knee shithead.  That one already doesn't like me.  You did me a favor by shutting it up."

Angel's eyebrow raised and a couple CSAs sucked in their breath.  He pulled the trigger on his little tubular gun and I watched the lightning come for me.  I was ready.

It drove itself into my chest, every nerve firing uncontrollably.  I sucked in air and closed my eyes.  I kept moving.  The lightning poured into the nerves drinking in pain and I kept moving.  Block it out, eat the pain, let the nerves that count, work.  Foot forward, foot forward.

There was another sledgehammer in my chest.  I barely slowed as I smelled myself cooking.  I opened my eyes and forced the haze out.  Give me more pain.  More pain.  Pour into my veins.  Suck it down.  Push it out of the rest of my nerves.

I was close to him now, close to Angel.  Less than ten feet.

Crackle boom.

Five feet.

Crizz crackle sh-boom.

I lunged for him, swinging my pipe for his head and dropped the Angel.  We both hit the ground hard, neither of my knees working.  He tried to roll away but I rammed the sharp end of my broken pipe into his knee.

"Hurts, don't it?  I just don't understand it myself."

I grabbed a sharp of glass near my feet and dug into the cartilige to retrieve the bullet.  I pulled it out and slammed my pipe into Angel's throat as he struggled to get away.  He gasped for air and clutched his throat.  I rammed the bullet up his nose and leaned in, smiling.

"I just don't get you angels, always fucking committing suicide."

I grabbed one of his hands and used it to pulled the trigger on his lightning gun.  It was almost bearable this time, the only electricity flowing into me the leftovers from Angel and the bullet up his nose.  I'm not sure what it ruptured or hemorrhaged but it was spectacular and red.  I released the trigger and fell onto my back.  The CSAs were surrounding me, guns shaking.  They were pissed and I was going to die.  But I had killed another Angel.

Then the CSAs died.  Sharpened rims zipped through the air, taking off heads.  Sharpened pipes as spears went through their chests.  They were dead in moments.  I struggled to sit and get a better view but my body refused.

I blinked and there was a machine on tank tracks next to me.  Its upper half was mostly bare wires and steel framework.  It had green led eyes and a humanoid head.

"Query: why did you help us?"

"Returning the favor.  You helped me."

"Query: you are the human operator of the Brute unit pulled from the discharge channel."

"Yep.  My nervous system and its are linked.  Not that either of us work anymore."

The machines start stock still for a moment.

"Query: if we fix both parts of you, will you teach us?"

"Teach you what?"

"Statement: to be like you."

I snickered.

"My pleasure.  Which part of me, by the way?  The human parts or the ass-kicker parts?"

"Statement: both."

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