Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Pallbearer: Fevers In Berlin Part 5

Perpetual Motion

I was living in the belly of a dragon when I first met Cassie. I was its weapon system and she was the navigator. Captain Chris Grant was in charge. Our heli was the only one to escape the quarantine of Gravesite when the wall fell. The rest were either shot down or grounded themselves and swore allegience to The Commandant.

We were put on death row for escaping. Like most executions, ours was to be televised. Death coming to you, live from The Hill.

As far as most people knew, we died. It was an asphyxiation night. If we'd have left Grant alive, he'd have been pissed to learn it was just another pair of prisoners made up to look like us that they strapped the choke collars on. But we didn't.

They made us Cleaners because they didn't want to lose such valued Associates. At least, not when they could own them for a fraction of the cost they used to pay us for.

My Brute drove its fingers into the pavement next to me and continued pulling itself forward. It rolled over onto its back and leaned against the underpass wall. I clutched St. George in its hands and watched the horizon. Nothing coming yet.

"Neil, is this going to work?"

Huh? Oh. There's someone else here.

"Yeah Nat. Should anyway. I sure as fuck hope one briefcase of this stuff'll work. It is a virus itself, so it should spread and self-replicate just as soon as people start drinking from their water supply."

She nodded absently. I patted my Brute's arm and slipped through the access door next to it. Its eyes stayed open as I walked. They were always open.

I envied it so desperately.

The sewers had a spiderweb of meshwork bridges spanning the water filtered and fresh from The Bastion. It was a bleach smell, a too clean smell. A smell that wormed its way into my wounds and lit them on fire.

"Drop it here Neil."

"Not yet."

"Why not?"

"We're not where I want to be yet."

"It's all the water system. Drop it and let people start getting better."


She got quiet and I cursed myself under my breath. Smooth move Neil, the love of your life wants to kill you, and now you're needling other women. That want to kill you.

I shook my head and spun as quickly as I could, the hefty suitcase (full of antivirus?) in my hands. It caught Natalie in the side of the head and knocked her over the side of the catwalk.

She had already gone mantis and hung by a bladed arm above the surging water beneath us.

"Who's this for then?"

"Don't be smug with me you little fuck. Dump in the suitcase and I'll repair your Brute and see you well again. Just dump it."

"So... What virus is in here?"

Oh, she didn't like that. She wriggled angrily, big green worm on a hook.

"No virus. Just vaccine."

"You're full of shit. What'll it do? Make everyone well, just before it makes them sick again?"

Raging water and silence.

"C'mon Nat. You can tell me. We've killed shit together. We're close right? You were just advising me how I should've killed Cassie. We MUST be close if you're gonna have balls that big."

I kneeled down.

"Tell me, or you'll get to go for a swim."

Her head dropped, sighing.

"The Scavenger's here. It's going to take control of the city. There's already a cure for the Berlin Flu in water Neil. Someone named Joseph Saria already engineered it. But there's a flaw. It's built to breed a weakness to another supervirus, one nobody's seen before."

"And this is it?"

"No. Its a different vaccine with a different weakness. It'll overwrite Saria's virus and complete the vaccine. Then we can fashion our own death for this city. The Scavenger must be in control. Whoever this Saria is, he doesn't follow The Scavenger. And this city's death will be in its name. Our master won't accept any less. We..."

I sighed and slammed the briefcase into her scythe blade arm and knocked her from the catwalk. She screamed, hit the water, and shut up.

Boring. Betrayal was getting boring. I'm sure it was my fault somehow. Didn't give a fuck though.

There were Corps Howler tanks and Fafnir helis on the horizon. Too much. Too much for one day.

I opened the briefcase and threw in the iced block of antivirus. My Brute drove its fists into the underpass wall. The wall cracked as its knuckles cracked as my knuckles throbbed. The block hit the water and started to sizzle as it released its cure (or whatever the fuck it was) into the water. I cracked my knuckles. Too much pain, too much ache in every burnt out nerve to notice. Just ignore it all. I strode back to the door and climbed my Brute's back as it finished punching through the wall. I hopped in and pulled on my oxygen mask. The door slammed shut and sealed itself shut. No fluid would come. No spinal hooks. I braced myself using the handholds on the inner walls.

My Brute, my other body, holstered St. George on its back and locked it into place.

The Corps were coming into firing range.

And I slid under the underpass and plunged into the water. There were leaks in access door. Trickle trickle trickle.

Good. Immersed again.

I breathed through my mask, through my ragged bloody broken nose, through my bloodied lips, into my mask and found the air I needed.

I smiled and we sank.

Happy ending. Good night.

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