Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Speechless: The Way Part 1

The Price of Honor

I have never believed in seppuku.  Even with my predisposition towards things Japanese, I have never believed that seppuku is enough to redeem one for the loss of honor.  One must serve, and serve well, to work off one's debts.  These things are not just deducted from your karma for good intentions when removing yourself from existence.  No, the deeper you go, the more you owe.  One's end must be prolonged until their honor is regained.  Only then can they die in peace.  That said, Jack would have to die before I could.  His life, his freedom was my shame.

"Magistrate, there are signs that they have been down this tunnel."

"Good work Rynth.  Pursue.  You four are the hands of justice.  Follow them, wherever they are going, follow them.  We will cut this sore from our flesh."

"You'll be accompanying us?"

"Consular Mako is demanding a resolution to this.  I must mend this.  If things are prolonged, I shall resign my position and continue the hunt regardless.  If all goes well, I shall not have to, for we will have already captured him."


"Forward Mediator.  We have no time to spare.  This fiend disappears into the shadows too quickly."

Rynth bowed and sprinted down the tunnel.  I followed close behind, a hand resting on the hilt of The Darkening, my prized silver blade.  The other hand was wrapped around Angela's detonator.  I had deactivated her controller, in case Lorenz had planned to use her as a living weapon as he had Flyte.  Nez, one of the other piranha guards I had recruited from their hospital beds, had urged me to detonate her.  I had resisted, albeit barely, the urge to strike him down.  I would not resort to using my own  assistant as a weapon.  It was unthinkable and base, just the kind of trick Lorenz would use.  It disgusted me that one of my own had even considered it.  Bile rose in my throat even considering it.

However, my hand was still on her detonator.  Why?  Was the death of this monster worth making myself one?  How much then, the cost of honor?  At what price, would all civilities crumble and we degenerate in the pack of feral animals that roamed Chrysalis Falls calling themselves human?

I stopped and let myself feel the water we were running through.  Even amidst the raw sewage, I could feel the call of the sea.  The movement of water was life, even in this stagnant place.  Stagnation was leaving.  The water was fleeing, returning to the sea.

...flood...flood...make clean...

"Find shelter!"

My four elite stopped and turned back, looking at me strangely.

"Find shelter.  Anywhere.  Water is coming, a strong enough stream that we cannot swim against.  Find a hiding place, now!"

They scattered, darting in different directions.  I closed my eyes and delved into the water, seeking an answer, trying to pry something discernible from the muck at my feet.


It was faint amidst the drowning gurgle of the tainted water, but there was a reply.

"Where are they hiding?  Where?  Tell me.  I must find them.  For our Lords Leviathan and Kraken.  In the name of all the seas, where are they?"

...up the throat...up...where we cannot reach...hiding...
"Can we make it?  If we run, can we make it all the way there before the flood comes?"

...no time...swim...swim away...flood is coming...
"Can we make it?"

...run...or you will die...run...

"Forward!  Move forward!  There's a shelter ahead of us, they're hiding there.  Run as fast as you can or we will be swept away."

They obeyed without question, schooling together and sweeping down the tunnel.  We moved with peerless speed, hunters in pursuit of prey.  We had to catch them.  He could not be allowed to keep her captive.  I would not allow it.

"Magistrate!  It is there!"

A steel door appeared around a turn in the tunnel.  Rynth lunged for it, trying to jerk it open.  The door would not budge.

"Break it down.  Find a way.  We have only moments."

Rynth assaulted the door with shoulder, with his claws.  Nez charged forward with him, crashing against it over and over.  It refused to budge.

"Magistrate, I implore you, detonate the Repentant and we shall seek shelter.  There is time yet.  Let them both die."

"Mediator Nez, I shall not!  I will not sacrifice a virtuous life to take a tainted one."

Nez nodded, and both Yu and Prin grabbed my by the arms.

"What are you three doing?  Unhand the Magistrate!"

"He is as weak as the Consular feared.  We are taking command of this hunt.  Prin, toss me the detonator."

Prin pried the detonator from my hand, worming away from my teeth and flailing legs.  As he lobbed it to Nez, Rynth charged Yu.  Yu loosened his grip on my arm to swing at Rynth.  I jerked my arm free and drew The Darkening.  It flickered across Prin's throat and Prin's head fell away from his body.  Yu drove a knee into Rynth's stomach.  Rynth fell to the ground, gagging into the foul water.  My free hand snatched my other blade, Illumination, from it's sheath.  Both blades slipped through Yu and he fell, fileted.  Nez stepped towards us, away from the door.

"I would suggest stepping away so that when that room implodes, you do not die."

"Nez, drop the detonator."

"No Magistrate.  Rascal Jack dies today, no matter the cost."

He pressed the red arming button, and then the black to detonate.  The ceiling above us erupted and fell inwards.  Rynth lunged for me and pushed me backwards as rubble began to fall.  A thin pipe exploded downward and drove itself through Nez' abdomen and into the floor, pinning him in place.  I watched him regard me with new respect as a wave of sludge came down the tunnel behind him.  Then, he was gone, blocked by a wall of rubble.

"We must hurry Rynth.  It won't hold for long.  We must make it back to another room like that one."

Rynth nodded and placed a foot forward.

"Nez and the others paid the price all those who resort to treachery pay.  It is the price I am paying for trying to resort to deceit to catch our prey.  I am not so lucky as for death to be my penance."

Rynth nodded quietly put a hand on my shoulder.

"I will follow you Magistrate, as far as we must go.  We will bring Jack Lorenz to justice."

I sheathed my blades and we fled.  We had to.  I could not die.  My work was not yet done, honor not yet regained.  We would pursue when the sewage receded.  Justice would come to Jack Lorenz.  That was the price we all paid for our deceit.  Everyone had to be judged for their misdeeds.

That was the price of honor.

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