Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wither The Vain: Scavenger Hunt Part 4

Something Green and Something Fat

Unlike his fellows, this one’s face twisted up in surprise more than fear as I slid my knife across his throat and wiped it off on my feathers. It didn’t surprise me to find that they were using guppies as security guards in places they thought no one could get to.

It was a little saddening, but not surprising. Nine were dead so far and not a single one had managed to hit me yet.

Crawling around in this damp aquarium of a building was grating on my nerves. The humidity was collecting on my feathers, weighing me down. So far, none of the Judge functionaries that could tell me where my target was could be found. It would easy enough to know whom I sought. There had only been one Sleeper captured in the last three months according to the records I had found in the possession of a now very dead barracuda. The other Sleepers had all been killed on the spot and sent immediately to a medical center for summary dissection. I wasn’t sure what they were hoping to extract but I filed away the information for future use.


I darted down the light blue concrete corridor and peered around the corner. Another hallway full of empty offices. Everyone was already swimming their way back to the bay as likely as not. Another camera waited at the far end. Their surveillance, while archaic in technology, was damned pervasive. It was making this far more effort than it should’ve been.

I waited for the camera to look away before I sprinted down the hall and lunged through the nearest empty door. Empty, just as I had thought. However… this one had been thoughtful enough to leave his laptop sitting on his desk. I flipped it open and was prompted to enter my password.

I tapped my talons on the floor in thought as humans swam past the password box, blowing bubbles at me. These Judges had so many issues, it was painful. What should I have expected from former humans though?

Former humans.

I typed the word “bait” into the password box and hit enter. A fish hook dropped from the top of the box and snagged a random human, jerking them off the top of the screen. A skeleton dropped back into the odd little aquarium and sank to the bottom. Was that supposed to be barbeque sauce they were swimming in?

Disgusting. I hated barbeque.

I immediately dove into their e-mail system, hunting for some vague communication as to the fate of their most infamous current captive. Surely someone had to know what was going on. This was, after all, the administrative wing of their accursed prison complex. One would imagine that someone would be doing actual administering around here.

There we are. A little interpersonal gossip in the sent message folder. My target had been keep in solitary confinement but was recently moved to a larger cell in the sub basement for further study. This had been kept from everyone else except for this fine individual whose wall had been damaged as the captive was hauled downstairs.


Thirty seconds later I was ramming their desk, laptop and all, into that same recently mended wall. There was an explosion of drywall and concrete as my makeshift battering ram removed my obstacle. I hopped through the hole I had made and dropped about six feet onto a stainless steel ramp leading down and through a set of steel doors. The doors slid open and a great, fat fish in full kale green and white body armor carrying a pair of mini-guns waddled through. His mouth swung open and a belly laugh rippled out.

“And the magistrates said I’d never catch anything on the night shift.”

Alone in a steel hall with no cover but a flimsy wooden desk, facing a giant with guns that would dice me into pieces so small they could feed me to krill. This was finally getting to be interesting. It was all about timing. Five second spin up on the guns; one and half second reaction time on the big guy. The useful one hit kill points were wrapped up tight in his body armor, minus his beady little eyes.

I sprang into the air and pulled one of the guard’s 11mm pistols from the waistband of my pants. I fired twice, once for each of the topmost barrels of either mini-gun. The goliath grouper pulled their triggers as the bullets lodged themselves in the barrels. His guns clicked as they jammed. I had hoped for an explosive backfire but the damned safety mechanics on these firearms made that nigh impossible.

With wings spread, I descended upon the grouper. He dropped his guns and swung a meaty fist and snatched at my talons. I tucked them up under myself and dropped onto his shoulders. A gloved hand grabbed my leg and jerked.

I was spinning, falling. I pulled the trigger three more times. His grip loosened a little as I slammed into the ground, wings creaking. Nothing broken from the feel of it. Nothing broken yet at least. The grouper was stumbling forward, swatting at the back of its neck. The bullet had lodged itself in his thick skin and he was trying to swat it out.

I strode forward, his attention focused on the little metal “bug” in the back of its neck. I spun my knife in my hand.


He looked up at me and I put the knife into his eye. I rammed it in, jamming the handle as hard as possible. The grouper squealed in pain and swung wildly at the knife, trying to grab it and pull it out. One of his hands finally found the handle and yanked it out. Chunks of brain came with it and my fat friend toppled over.

I kicked the corpse twice before walking around it and making my way through the doors at the end of the hall. Within, a glass dome took up most of the room. Underneath, a young black haired woman sat in a pastel blue hospital gown. One of her arms was transformed into a long mantis claw and she was stabbing the bottom of her prison in malicious boredom.


She looked up and tried to see through sightless eyes.


“What have you gotten yourself into this time Ms. Borden?”

“I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you.”

“You might be right, but I’m still going to get you out of there.”

“How’d you know where to find me?”

“I didn’t. I knew there was someone here I was supposed to find though.”

“How’s that?”

“Well… you know the story of the four horsemen?”


“I’m War.”

There was a long pause.

“Maybe you would believe what I have to tell you.”

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